A Brief Update

First off, for those of you who are a fan of my actual WoW/healing/Resto Shaman writing, I just put a basic Resto Shaman guide up at Wowhead. I haven’t done any theorycrafting this entire alpha/beta cycle, because I’ve been very busy with my main Wowhead project of dungeon and raid guide-writing, so this guide is very general and largely qualitative. As always, I’m open to suggestions, input, corrections, nit picks, and other feedback – don’t be shy!


Lots of people have asked me about updating my Choosing a Healer guide for Legion. Unfortunately I don’t think I have enough knowledge to do this. With having to level to 110 and gear my character to test dungeons and raids on Beta I haven’t had much of a chance to experiment with other specs. I don’t want to publish a guide that doesn’t meet my personal standards of accuracy and experience-supported theory; I hope you understand.

In the coming weeks I’ll be simplifying and re-organising this site to remove outdated Warlords information. In light of what I’ve written below about personal matters, I’ll probably be scaling back to a less theorycrafting, more practical and personal type of blog. I’ve loved being analytical and mathy all these years, but my heart simply isn’t in it right now. Perhaps sometime later.


On to more personal things:

My guild of just-under-4-years has decided to quit raiding for Legion, and I am frantically looking for a new home. It’s an emotionally difficult time for me, as the people in Something Wicked were more than just guildies. They were my family, they provided a space where I always felt comfortable and accepted, and that’s not something I find easy to come by in either real life or internet settings.

Just in case someone reading this happens to know of a guild that’s recruiting – I don’t even know how to find guilds anymore! – here’s my “dream list” of qualities I’d like to see in my next guild:

  • Mythic raiding at a high level (~top 100 US)
  • Needs a Resto Shaman/dedicated healer; my DPS skill is atrocious and only to be used as a last resort😛
  • Light schedule, even during progression
  • Active in beta/PTR, theorycrafting, and the community
  • Mature but light-hearted and silly attitude
  • Non-tolerant of abusive, racist, sexist, or other discriminatory language and behaviour
  • Friendly and inclusive atmosphere
  • Alliance

I’d love to find a guild that hits most or all of those dot points, but given how close we are to Legion launch I am skeptical of my chances, so I’ll take all the help I can get in finding a new home.

I’m trying not to make permanent decisions now while I’m still struggling with this development. I’m still working on Wowhead dungeon and raid guides, and I hope to have the dungeon guides finished by the end of this month, with Emerald Nightmare guides done a couple weeks before raid launch so you can start planning your strats. I want to write a few things here about the basics of Legion systems, and I want to make some cookies.

I also want to cry, a lot.

It’s possible that I will no longer be playing WoW or participating in its community if I can’t find a Mythic raiding guild for Legion, since raiding is my true passion. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I know I’ll always have the wonderful friends I met through this blog, through Twitter, through beta testing, and through the community, no matter what happens.❤ you all.

Posted in Blog News, Guides, Legion, Off-Topic, Shaman | 12 Comments

Legion Beta: Leveling as a Healer – The Surprising Result I Can’t Explain and You Won’t Believe!

There has been a lot of talk amongst the Alpha/Beta testing community about the concept of leveling as a healer.

The main driver behind players feeling like they must level as a healer if they want to play a healer at end-game is the Artifact Weapon system that Legion will be introducing. When the expansion drops, players will be asked to select one weapon for one spec that they wish to pursue, and that will be the weapon they will use in that spec for the rest of the expansion.

Players are worried about what this Artifact Weapon means for tanks and healers, who traditionally have chosen to level in DPS specs while accumulating gear for their intended role. Will they feel penalized for choosing their end-game-spec’s Artifact Weapon straight away? The devs have said that they’re giving healers stronger damage-dealing capabilities to make leveling as a healer viable, but in a lot of our community the mindset for every activity in the game is “optimal or GTFO”, and almost nobody believes that leveling as a healer will be optimal.

In short, there’s a lot of concern, and a lot of confusion, and I’d like to help clarify what I can.

/cast Unleash Facts

When we were first granted access to the Legion Alpha, the Artifact Weapon system had not been fully settled upon yet by the dev team. We’ve seen changes to how much Artifact Power it costs to buy traits, to where the traits are positioned within the trees, to what the traits provide, to how much Artifact Power you can gain from doing in-game activities, to how the Artifact Power is provided and applied to your weapon, to even the name of the Resto Artifact Weapon.

The Resto Shaman Artifact has undergone a few changes since its inception...

The Resto Shaman Artifact has undergone a few changes since its inception…

Unfortunately, one thing that tends to happen in our overly connected community is that information gets disseminated quickly, and it’s incredibly hard to correct the community perception once new or revised data comes out. We’ve seen this for several things already in the Alpha/Beta process, and the Artifact Weapon system is no different. There’s been a lot of iteration, but I still see information that’s been outdated since 2015 floating around out there offered up as Truthfact.

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Posted in Legion, Shaman | 16 Comments

Quick & Dirty: Resto Shaman Artifact Gold Medals

This will just be a quick post to share some information about the three “Gold Medal” skills on the Resto Shaman artifact tree. Now that the 110 premade realm is available, I was able to play around with a fully empowered artifact weapon, and I thought I’d make my findings available here to assist other theorycrafters in evaluating these traits.

Sharas'dal, Scepter of the Totally Not Anything to Do with Azshara Anymore

Sharas’dal, Scepter of Totally Not Anything to Do with Azshara Anymore I Swear

Please remember that artifact weapon traits and tuning are very tentative at this early stage in the Alpha. Many of these numbers will change, and it’s possible we might see some of the effects removed or reworked entirely.

Decree of the Queen

The Decree of the Queen artifact trait creates a HoT effect named Queen’s Decree on players healed by your Healing Stream Totem.

The HoT ticks three times for 50% Spell Power per tick, for a total of 150% additional Spell Power. Since a single tick of Healing Stream Totem is 70% Spell Power, this makes each tick of Healing Stream Totem over twice as strong, resulting in a theoretical 215% buff to Healing Stream Totem.

However, a couple of things hold this back:

  • Unlike Healing Stream Totem itself, Queen’s Decree does not currently benefit from Mastery.
  • Queen’s Decree is also unaffected by Critical Strike.
  • If Healing Stream Totem heals the same target twice before that player’s first Queen’s Decree is expired, the HoT is overwritten, which can result in some loss of healing.

It is unclear which of these are bugs and which are intended behaviour.

Queen’s Decree is not affected by Haste (e.g. it maintains its 2-second tick timer and never delivers more than 3 ticks of the HoT). This creates some minor Haste breakpoints, since once you get enough Haste to create an additional tick of Healing Stream Totem, you’ll get another full Queen’s Decree buff along with it, no matter the size of that partial HST tick. But if Queen’s Decree itself benefited from Haste the way normal HoTs do, then it would definitely be double-dipping on Haste. So I think for right now, this is not a bug – but it’s an open question as to how exactly Haste and Queen’s Decree should interact.

I’ll note that currently, the spell data on Wowhead claims Queen’s Decree should be healing for 25% of Spell Power per tick, which would be a little more reasonable (and only a 107.5% buff to Healing Stream Totem). I’m definitely getting 50% Spell Power per tick, though, so I’m not sure if this is bugged, or if there is another effect that doubles its throughput that I’ve somehow missed.

Cumulative Upkeep

The Cumulative Upkeep artifact trait is very straightforward. Each tick of Healing Tide Totem increases the subsequent tick by 10%. The only important thing to note here is that the buff is additive, not multiplicative; the first tick does X, the second tick does 1.1X, the third tick does 1.2X, etc. With no Haste, then, our total HTT healing increases from 6X per player to 7.5X per player, for a 25% increase to our CD’s throughput.

With Haste, we get a little more out of this; on the 110 PvP realm, where I have 6.63% Haste, for example, this ends up as a 27% increase to HTT healing.

Do note, however, that as a general rule players’ health will increase over the duration of our HTT, reducing the effectiveness of our Mastery. The Cumulative Upkeep buff helps to balance this effect out, and I’ll do some math later on exactly how that changes the power of this trait.

Tidal Pools

The Tidal Pools trait will sometimes create a Tidal Totem when you cast Riptide. Contrary to what the tooltip states, this Tidal Totem currently spawns at the casting Shaman’s feet, not at the feet of the Riptide target. This is likely a bug.

The Totem can only spawn from the initial cast of Riptide, from my testing experience, and has around a 15% chance to spawn. (15 Tidal Totems were summoned from 93 Riptide casts in my dungeon tests.)

The Tidal Totem heals players within a small radius for 20% of your Spell Power every second, and it lasts for 6 seconds. I have no information yet on whether there is a cap on the number of players healed with each Tidal Totem pulse. If we manage to get, say, 3 total players standing in our Tidal Totem (it’s quite a small radius, but I haven’t worked out exactly how small yet), this results in 360% of our Spell Power in healing.

That’s 65% additional healing from our Riptide cast, but remember, there’s only a 15% chance of that happening, so our real benefit (assuming 3 players are being healed every time we spawn a Tidal Totem) is about 9.75% throughput on Riptide. If we’re so lucky as to have a whole Mythic Raid sans tanks in our Tidal Totem every time, like on some extreme Norushen-style stack fight, we’re looking at more like a 60% throughput increase to Riptide.

The strength of this trait really depends upon the radius of the Tidal Totems and where we can spawn them.

Tidal Totem’s healing can Crit, and its tick rate is affected by Haste. The healing of each tick is not currently increased by our Mastery. Whether that is intended or a bug is difficult to say.

Conclusion

I give the Gold Medal Gold Medal to Queen’s Decree at the moment. With Rushing Streams, the Wavecrash trait, Echo of the Elements, and the currently-proposed tier 19 set bonus all increasing the power or flexibility of our Healing Stream Totem, it just seems as though Queen’s Decree is going to work the hardest for us.

Silver Medal Gold Medal goes to Cumulative Upkeep, because increasing the throughput of our raid CD is always going to be desirable. For now, the Tidal Pools Gold Medal takes home the Bronze.😉

 

Posted in Legion, Shaman, Theorycrafting | Leave a comment

The Healer Problem, Part 1: Scaling

In my last post, I promised you I’d be taking a close look at the many factors that affect healer gameplay as an expansion progresses. And I got started on tackling the most theoretically challenging aspect – the throughput value of increased Spirit – right away. It seemed like a non sequitur, probably, but it was the cornerstone of an entire analysis on the influence of gear on healer throughput. In this post, I’ll be expanding on that analysis, to explore the magnitude of effect that stat growth has on healer throughput, and also to look forward to Legion with what little we know.

This will be a graph-heavy post, so if you are math-averse, I’m really sorry, but I’m not sure there’s any cleaner way to express the information.

I’ll just jump straight into the Big Picture, and drill down from there, highlighting a few interesting points along the way.

The Big Picture: Warlords Scaling

I turned to my heavily modded version of HealerCalcs to estimate the percent throughput increase that healers have experienced over the course of the expansion. I won’t bore you with the details of how I generated the data, other than to note that I used my first-week-of-raiding iLvl of 643 as the starting point, and the max iLvl recorded for healers on Warcraft Logs at the moment I’m making this post, 745, as the end point.

Here is the graph I generated, plotting throughput increase as a function of iLvl:

Throughput increase as a function of iLvl over the Warlords expansion

Figure 1: Throughput increase as a function of iLvl over the Warlords expansion

The green line at the top represents the combined effects of all of our gear on our potential maximum throughput. You can see that it’s just over 400%, which means that our HPS now at the end of HFC is potentially 5 times as strong as our HPS was at the start of Highmaul. 

We turn now to our expert healing correspondent, Gwen Stefani, for her reaction:

this shit is bananas B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Figure 2: Didn’t you know that Hollaback Girl was all about the perils of power creep and its effects on the healing role?

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Posted in Legion, Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | 14 Comments

Prelude to The Healer Problem: Evaluating Spirit

This is the first post in what is hopefully going to be a series examining what I call the “Healer Problem” – the way in which the healing role changes as players gain additional power. In my opinion, healing gameplay becomes diluted as we progress through an expansion, or even within a tier, resulting in a less engaging experience for our role.

saluting dayani

How I feel on raid nights at the start of an expansion: “Reporting for duty!”

The Healer Problem is multi-pronged and complicated. In brief, I’d suggest it is related to the following things, all of which are intertwined:

  • Gear-related power increases for the healer
  • Gear-related power increases for the raid
  • Encounter design that disproportionately rewards faster kills and damage avoidance
  • The CD and AoE ability arms race

Now seems an opportune time to talk about it. Legion development and testing is underway but it’s still early, and we’ve seen a lot of signs of things being very much mutable and open to feedback and influence. We’ve also seen some hints of how several of these systems will be operating in Legion, so it’s a good time to talk about how the new systems will affect the Healer Problem, for better or for worse.

sad dayani

But by the end of the expansion, raid night is more like, “Ugh, again? Can I just go Ele?”

I want to start with analysing the first of the above points, gear-related power increases for healers. As a healer gears up, he or she gains power in the following ways:

  • Increased primary stats (Intellect and Spellpower);
  • Increased secondary stats (Critical Strike, Mastery, Haste, Versatility, and Multistrike); and
  • Increased availability of mana (accumulation of Spirit, trinket effects, tier bonuses, etc.).

All of these power increases affect our throughput, and the effects are multiplicative. This leads to rapidly increasing healer power as we gain more gear. And this is a part of the Healer Problem, since, after all, our healing effectiveness is ultimately constrained by player health pools, which scale only with one primary stat, Stamina. But more on this in a later post.

The primary and secondary stats simply add raw healing power to all of our spells in roughly the same way, and are fairly easy to evaluate and understand. Mana, however, is a different story. Unlike the primary and secondary stats, gaining mana does not add raw healing power to our spells. It simply allows us to change our casting patterns. It’s been historically very difficult to quantify just how much of a difference some additional mana can make to our healing performance.

Mana is a particularly interesting starting point because the mana system will be changing in Legion. Currently on the Legion Alpha, Spirit does not affect a player’s mana regeneration rate. There is no Spirit on gear, and players simply regen a flat amount of mana every 5 seconds. This has potential to shake up the Healer Problem – but by how much?

It really depends on the value of Spirit, especially compared to the value of the primary and secondary stats that aren’t going anywhere. So before I can look at just how big a difference the Legion mana system is going to make to the Healer Problem, I really need to get some idea of how our Warlords Spirit growth has increased our healing throughput. And this means I had to take apart everything I already know about Spirit and put it back together again.

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Posted in Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged | 11 Comments

Healing Notes: Mythic Hellfire Assault

Recently I’ve taken over more responsibility in my raid team, and have been quasi-coordinating our healing team, picking things like healing comp and raid/tank CD uses. I thought it might be interesting to kind of document my experiences here, for those of you who may be progressing at a similar rate to us and are looking for tips and tricks on how to approach Mythic encounters from a healing team perspective. As well, this will hopefully help me analyse and improve upon my own leadership skills – something I’m pretty terrible at.

This is my first attempt at a simple, but hopefully informative, analysis of Mythic Hellfire Assault’s healing requirements. I’ll be providing simple comp advice, detail any healing strategies, and when the encounter warrants it, I’ll address more advanced issues too. I’ll be assuming you already know the encounter itself, but I’ll provide a link to my detailed guides on Wowhead just in case.:)

So here goes:

Mythic Hellfire Assault Setup & Composition

Hellfire Assault Wowhead Guide
Recommended number of healers: 4
Recommended composition: 2 Discipline Priests, 1 Holy Paladin, 1 of {Restoration Druid > Mistweaver Monk > Restoration Shaman > Holy Priest}

Two Discipline Priests are desirable because this fight features extremely heavy tank damage. While Holy Paladins are excellent tank healers (particularly with 2-piece tier 18 and the Archimonde trinket), they typically deliver tank healing passively via Beacon, and tanks will require more dedicated healing than that. As I’ll cover later, this is one of the more tank-damage-intensive fights we’ve encountered thus far.

I prefer healers with tank cooldowns for the final spot. Of the remaining healers, I think Restoration Druids are a great choice since they can frequently Ironbark the tank and can put up some strong tank healing with few GCDs, focusing the rest of their healing on the spiky raid damage. Mistweavers also have a fairly frequent tank CD, but it is weaker against this heavy type of tank damage (the fixed absorb will break very quickly, offering little to no benefit from the increased HoT effect).

Send a Discipline Priest to each side, and be sure they are specced into Clarity of Will. Put your tank with weaker CDs with the Disicpline Priest/Holy Paladin healing team.

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Posted in Guides, Hellfire Citadel, Raids, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Etheralus, the 20-Week Reward: A Brief Look at the Legendary Ring Mechanics

I just got my Etheralus, the Eternal Reward today, and I thought I’d post up a short & sweet summary of the way the ring works in general and for Shamans specifically. I’m sure I’ll find more data in the days & weeks to come for other classes, but for right now this is the best I can do – my next closest character to the legendary ring will finish her Elemental Runes this week:)

I'm the Champion of the Naaru, I possess and bestow the Gift of the Naaru, and I've finally collected the Light of the Naaru to get the Blessing of the Naaru.

I’m the Champion of the Naaru, I possess and bestow the Gift of the Naaru, and I’ve finally collected the Light of the Naaru to get the Blessing of the Naaru. I’ve got a whole lotta Naaru going on, is what I’m sayin’.

So the legendary ring has two parts; an activated buff and a burst of absorption healing when that buff expires. I’ll detail the workings of each of these here briefly. (Stop laughing. I mean it! Brief!….-ish?) First, though, the bare facts:

  • Etheralus, the Eternal Reward, is item level 735 when you first obtain it.
  • Each week, you can kill Archimonde to receive Crystallized Fel, which will increase the item level of your ring by 3.
  • The ring can be increased to a maximum item level of 795, which requires 20 Archimonde kills.
  • Crystallized Fel can only be looted after you possess Etheralus.
  • When you upgrade the ring’s item level, the % boost of its healing/absorption buff and the % that gets converted to absorption after the buff expires also increase, from the base 25% up to the maximum 43.7%!

In short, these rings are extremely powerful based on item level alone. But there’s more!

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Posted in Shaman, Theorycrafting, Warlords of Draenor | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

6.2 Mini-Analysis: RIPtide (Resto Shaman t18 Set Bonuses & Archimonde Trinket)

Thought I’d get back into the swing of things here, while I have a bit of a break from live raiding this week, to post a quick vignette about the way the t18 set bonuses and the class-specific Archimonde trinket work. This is part of an experiment to try to update the blog more frequently with less overwrought posts – let me know what you think:)

First of all, for those of you not in the loop right now:

  • T18 2pc: Increases Riptide’s Critical Strike chance by 25% (was 50% in previous PTR versions, but was just reduced today)
  • T18 4pc: When you Chain Heal, you have a 65% chance to also apply Riptide to the primary target (was 100% chance in previous PTR versions, but was just reduced today)
  • Core of the Primal Elements: Casting Chain Heal, Healing Surge or Healing Wave on a target with your Riptide on it has a 55% chance to spread that Riptide to another nearby ally

My initial reaction to these set bonus and trinket effects was one of skepticism. I didn’t think they sounded that strong, particularly the trinket effect. I mean yes, getting additional Riptide effects on the raid without having to cast it means stronger High Tide Chain Heals and a wider flexibility of Chain Heal target options. But if you’ll recall my Mini-Analysis on Chain Heal/High Tide, you’ll see that additional Riptides don’t make that big of a difference to your throughput. I thought the flexibility benefits would be very difficult to quantify, and that the T18 4pc was counterproductive since, heh, who was going to be casting Chain Heal on a target without Riptide on them anyway?

But I think the developers may have asked themselves that exact same question, because well before we could test these set bonuses on the PTR, they made an additional change: Resto Shamans no longer have a Riptide/Chain Heal interaction! This was a long-standing feature of the Resto Shaman class, one that, yes, added complexity and depth to our playstyle, but also kept us chained to a set of 3 players that would function as our Chain Heal turrets. I found the interaction questionable and problematic enough that I actually advocated for the RT bonus removal in that very same post. You’ll note in that post that, when the RT bonus is removed, we get more mileage out of High Tide by casting CH on non-Riptided targets.

(So this doesn’t constitute a nerf to the class, Chain Heal also received a passive 25% boost in its healing. Which is actually a miniscule buff, given that very occasionally you might have been casting Chain Heal on a target whose Riptide falls off before your cast ends. But I digress.)

In light of all these changes and a lot of confusion that seems to have arisen from these set bonuses, I thought I’d explore a little how each bonus works alone, and how they interact if you happen to equip both. So, here we go.

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Posted in Shaman, Theorycrafting, WoD Beta | Tagged , | 23 Comments

6.2 Patch Notes & Upcoming Content

Just like the last time there were major patch note announcements, Hamlet and I got together and recorded a podcast covering our thoughts on Patch 6.2 Notes. Then we did it again a little later that night, because data mining came out with some interesting healer tier set bonuses and trinkets to discuss. You can find both parts of the epic Patch Note podcast here.

Since Patch 6.2 is bringing a new raid, I’ll be working on guides for all Hellfire Citadel bosses; these guides will again appear on Wowhead, like my BRF and HM set. But there’s also Mythic Dungeons, which I’ll have to run and add to my Dungeon Guides (also on Wowhead), and I’ll be covering Timewalker dungeons as well to help out those of you who haven’t got the wave structure of Black Morass or the patrols of the invisible mobs in Arcatraz memorised😉

In all of that, I’d like to take a little time to also work on stuff here, but as you all have noticed, Healiocentric has been a little low in content lately. I’m hoping that Patch 6.2 healer balance changes will re-invigorate my desire to write again. Thanks to all of you for your support on my other projects, though!❤

Posted in Blog News, Dungeons, Guides, Raids, Warlords of Draenor | Leave a comment

Blackrock Foundry Guides

I just wanted to drop a quick note here that my Blackrock Foundry encounter guides are now available on Wowhead. They have an entire Blackrock Foundry hub, where you can find links to just about everything you’d like to know about BRF.

These guides are based on Beta/PTR testing primarily, but I’ll be updating them with improved images and information after I get into the zone this week, so keep checking in.

Blackhand Picture Good luck in your raid today! Once this project settles down – about a week from now, when hopefully I should have all the Normal/Heroic mode information settled – I should be able to get back to writing about healing things. I have some further projects in mind!❤

Posted in Blog News, Guides, Raids | Tagged | 3 Comments