Hey everyone, I’m still alive! *waits for you all to finish cheering*
I have been rather lax here at Healiocentric, and it isn’t out of lack of things to say. I have a lot of things to say. I just haven’t been finding a lot of time to say them, because I’ve been spending so much time on Beta. This post will be sort of a run-down of all the fun things I’ve been doing, that have kept me away from all of you lovely people for a while.
Before I begin, I just want to say: I love healing in Warlords. Love. The dungeons feel challenging and have a lot of BC flavour, with interesting trash mechanics that can’t be simply ignored, and in raid tests so far I’ve used a larger subset of my toolkit than ever before. Mana matters, choosing the right target to heal matters, and healer balance is mostly okay. I’m enjoying myself again, and after a year of SoO, Warlords is like a breath of fresh air.
So anyway, on to the rest of the post!
This is Hamlet‘s baby, but I’ve been babysitting it for him on occasion. HealerCalcs is a comprehensive multi-spec spreadsheet that models individual spells as well as healing rotations. It’s incredibly powerful and flexible, and while it is still a work in progress, it’s really fantastic for getting an overview of how each healing spec is performing.
Perhaps its coolest feature is that it allows you to set a “Filler Ratio” – the time you spend using a cheap filler versus an expensive filler, for classes that have that option, or alternatively, the time you spend waiting around if you only have one filler option – and then calculates the advantage of adding more Spirit/regen to your gear. The assumption is that additional mana is converted to additional healing (either by turning your dead time into casting time, or by shuffling some casts from cheap filler to expensive filler). This is pretty awesome because as it stands in Warlords, you don’t have enough mana to be chain casting your expensive spells, so the Filler Ratio/Marginal HPM numbers will hint at how important Spirit will be for you. But there’s a lot of cool features, so poke at it a while 🙂
My involvement in the project – other than hours of theory discussions – has been primarily to test and verify all of the spell data that’s used to generate the healing estimates on the sheet. This was time-consuming, especially since a lot of changes to spells aren’t documented in data mining or patch notes and I only find out about them through researching the Beta forums or experimenting. This has left me with a really strong impression of the spell strengths and weaknesses for each healing spec, and I feel like I’m more conversant in healer numbers and mechanics than I ever have been. It’s pretty awesome!
2. Content Testing/Guide Prep
I have done, seriously, like, a buttload of dungeons. I’ve tested every raid boss. I’ve done all the LFRs. I’m working on CMs. It’s kept me very occupied, but I hope it will all be worth it, for the in-depth guides I’ll eventually produce.
3. Spec Guides
I’ve been asked to continue my work on the Mistweaver Monk and Holy Paladin Wowhead guides for 6.0, and to take over the Restoration Shaman guide as well. So I have been spending a lot of time on Beta getting more comfortable with Monk and Paladin healing, and a lot of research and talking to people to get some perspective on what players are doing to be successful in raids. HealerCalcs helped a ton here, too.
4. Proven Healer
A huge, contentious point of Warlords of Draenor is the Silver Proving Grounds requirement to be able to queue for Heroic Dungeons. Because Proving Grounds became my obsession earlier this year (both on Live and in Beta), I thought I should stay up-to-date with them and keep testing once the content was rebalanced for the new expansion.
So far I’ve done up through Gold on every spec, and achieved Endless Wave 30 on Resto Shaman, Resto Druid, Holy Paladin, and Mistweaver Monk.
I’ve also obtained the Silver medal as a Mistweaver entirely in the new Stance of the Spirited Crane, and have worked on Gold, but I’m not quite there yet (thinking I’ll try this again soon, now that I remembered about Touch of Death).
Overall, I feel that the Silver requirement is not too onerous for healers – especially since Heroic Dungeons in Warlords are much more challenging than they were in Mists of Pandaria. Silver is nothing compared to the pain of healing Heroic Everbloom!
The way PGs scale up to meet your gear level, rather than forcing you into an unnatural playstyle by scaling your gear down, is a new development that I know a lot of you will love. As it turns out, Proving Grounds on Beta do have a “minimum iLvl” below which they will not scale down – and that is set to iLvl 615, according to Watcher on Twitter, which is higher than a PvE premade starts with (although you can get close with a few dungeon items and the Spirit gear off the Flaskataur on this realm).
Beyond that, what I’ve determined is that:
- Your party’s health pools and damaging abilities increase as your item level increases;
- The health of the enemy mobs increases as your item level increases;
- The enemy’s damage increases as your item level increases;
- The rate at which enemy health/damage scales up is small, with a high base value, meaning that it is NOT advantageous to try to do PGs naked or with only a weapon equipped;
- Items in your bags count toward your iLvl when determining the difficulty of the PG scenario. This is intended to remove the advantage of unequipping a weapon just before a wave spawns, to artificially deflate your iLvl, then re-equipping it, but it means that you should put any higher-iLvl gear you don’t want to wear (e.g. non-ideal trinkets, or off-spec items) in the bank before you begin.
The last subtlety of PG scaling that I’ve noticed is a bit difficult to explain, but I hope the graph below will help. The X axis is showing my item level, and the four different data sets represent the amount of damage the enemies deal with their melee hits (blue) or AoE attacks (yellow), my Spell Power (green), and the size of my Healing Surge (red). I hope you’ll see a few things leap out at you:
First, that Spell Power itself wasn’t linear. I had to create these sets by equipping mixtures of terrible and awesome gear, so sometimes I had an awesome weapon and bad gear, making my Spell Power higher for my iLvl than you’d expect, and other times I had a bad weapon with awesome gear, making my Spell Power lower for my iLvl than I’d expect.
The second thing to note is that, the size of the enemy’s attacks actually tracks with my Spell Power very well. Where my Spell Power dips, so too does the data for the enemy’s damage dealt. This leads me to believe that, at each iLvl of gear you might have, the game has a “base difficulty” that you simply can’t skate under, e.g. the mobs will do at least X amount of damage at X iLvl, and at least Y amount of damage at Y iLvl. But on the flip side, the game also pegs the difficulty to the amount of Spell Power (or, I guess for melee, Attack Power) you have, such that if you have more than the usual amount of Spell Power for that gearset, your enemies will scale up a little more to try to keep the difficulty even.
If you end up going in with a gear set that vastly undershoots the amount of Spell Power you’d expect to have at its iLvl, you will be making it much harder on yourself. However, if you’ve built a set that has more Spell Power than the game would expect at that iLvl – like by using crappy quest greens and a Garrosh Heirloom weapon, for example – the enemies will be tougher, deal more damage, and your party will require more healing. You’re not making it easier on yourself by doing any sort of iLvl-related shenanigans.
And that’s a great thing. Go into PGs with the gearset you are most familiar with, and you’ll meet a challenge that’s consummate with your capabilities. Try to screw with it, and you’ll probably just make it worse on yourself.
I’ll be doing Proving Grounds guides this expansion – I particularly want to cover Silvers extensively, to get you all into the awesome Heroic Dungeon content. I’m hoping to produce videos and guides for a range of talent choices for each class, especially where it makes a big difference to your playstyle (like the Level 45 Talents for Paladins, or the 75s/100s for Discipline Priests). And I’ll be aiming to provide information on what to do if you’re struggling, not just how to be awesome at it. So if you have any nuances or questions or thoughts you want me to address with these guides, please do leave a note 🙂
5. Learning to DPS
I’m in a guild with about 25 people, 7 of whom are healers. Our healers are the most dedicated, talented, and amazing set of people I’ve ever played with, and none of us want to reroll for Warlords. But Mythic raiding can’t support 7 healers, with only 4-5 necessary for each fight, and so it’s inevitable that at times we will have to play our off-specs.
As such, I’ve put some substantial effort into learning to Elemental on the Beta. I’ve been raid testing as Elemental a lot of the time, been doing Challenge Mode and Heroic Dungeons in Elemental spec (this is mostly because most of my friends are healers and someone has to :P), and been working on Elemental Proving Grounds.
So far I think it has gone okay. I’ve had some strong showings on the meters, and when I look at logs of raids with other Elemental Shamans in them, they’re doing about the same DPS as I am.
I am in no way giving up on healing. How could I? I love healing in Warlords so much. It’s great. But I’d rather occasionally spec Elemental than spend 50%+ time on the bench because we have too many healers, so … I gotta do what I gotta do. Ultimately, spending more time with my guildies is good for me, and that’ll outweigh all the grumbling I do every time I have to shift forward a few yards to cast Earthquake >:-|
Also, I made this bad-ass lookin’ cake for my birthday at the start of the month:
What have you folks been up to lately?