Friday, April 30, 2010

The Bucket List - Wrath of the Lich King

Cataclysm is coming, as if you could not tell from all the stories and blog entries here and everywhere else in the warcraft community. Every time a new expansion comes out, players who have been around for a couple years or more try to get some goals accomplished before the new expansion hits and takes up all their attention. For my four friends who caused me to join the game, they each are in very different places and have their own important lists. The most active of those players is now at 92 mounts and is hunting the 100 mount achievement, as well as 35-40k gold to pay for his 2-3 characters jumping right into Cataclysm material. Another is taking a break from the game (very common at this point in the expansion), another has long since quit and is playing Starcraft II, and the last is trying to find his direction in the game before Cata. I tried to take stock of what I wanted to do before Cataclysm, and had trouble deciding! However, here's my bucket list for Wrath so far.

1. Finish It's Been A Long Strange Journey on Navarionae
2. Defeat Algalon the Observer in Ulduar-10 (Ekat)
3. Defeat Yogg-Saron in Ulduar-10 (Ekat)
4. Defeat The Lich King in Icecrown Citadel (Ekat)
5. Reach level 80 on Arielae the druid
6. Reach level 75 on Biancae the paladin
7. Reach level 70 on Clarissae the shaman
8. Buy epic flight on the final three leveling characters and have about 10k gold left
9. Do the Linken Nintendo homage quest chain in case it goes away
10. TBD

I'm sure there will be more little things on the list, but those are the major things I'd like to see done. I doubt it will happen, but it is good to have a list publicly.

So how about you? Do you have a bucket list to complete before the world changes forever in Cataclysm?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Raiding Game Changes Forever

I had a bachelor weekend this weekend, so what did I do? I got into both of my guild raids of course! For a few weeks my Alliance guild has been running the weekly raid on Wednesday or Thursday, ICC-10 on either Saturday or Sunday, and ICC-25 on the other weekend day. Which means I ripped through Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Gunship, Saurfang, Festergut, and Rotface on Saturday (and chewed glass on Dreamwalker). Sunday I ripped through the 10-man version of the same six bosses, and then we chewed glass on Professor and got him to 8%.

And here's the thing. While I enjoyed the opportunity to run with many different people and have many more opportunities at gear, I cannot imagine doing that repeat job every weekend or even very often. So then today's bomb dropped on raiding in Cataclysm, and it's one we should have seen coming. Here's the blue post.

We're designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we'll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They'll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards
10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you're able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

Of course the blogging network has fired up within twelve hours of the announcement. Two voices I value almost above all others in the community have already asked the question...will anybody continue to run 25 man content? While Blizzard promises quicker emblems and more gear for 25 mans, right now 25 man content drops 4 pieces of gear (16%) while 10 man content drops 2 pieces (20%). I expect this to be evened out or maybe only switched in the other direction to 6 pieces of gear. Bottom line - I expect gearing through 25 man content to be not that much faster than 10 man. So where do they stand?

Larisa at PPI says...
So where do I stand in this? Well, since I'm a 25 man raider myself and would like to remain so if possible, it's hardly a surprise that I look at this from the 25-mans-must-have-better-rewards perspective. This doesn't mean that I don't like 10 man raiding or that I somehow look down to it. I enjoy 10 mans immensely - especially since they normally offer better teamwork in a more closely knit group. And I have full respect for those who prefer it to 25 mans - with special kudos to the 10-man-gear-only strict guilds. But at the same time I believe that the law of the least resistance is what basically rules WoW and if the incentives aren't enough the 25 man raiding will die off, which I think would be a shame.

And Matticus at WoM says...
Please, do not screw over the players who prefer to do 25s. I believe some of the extra rewards are badges, loot, and gold. The extra gold is nice and all but for most organizations, it isn’t a problem. Having extra badges will speed up the gearing process for sure. On the other hand, what some players seem to have forgotten is that there is only 10 players allowed. Someone’s inevitably going to have to sit. 25s feel a little more accommodating, and dare I say it, more forgiving. With more players, you get access to more outs to help put you over the top during encounters. In addition, don’t forget about Kae’s point on difficulty. The reason that 10’s are perceived as easy is that players often run them overgeared. Doing ICC 10 with ICC 25 gear made it that much easier. But we’re using the same gear now. I know that for now, I’m still committed to 25 man raiding into Cataclysm.

Now to be fair, both of those players are part of solid 25 man raiding guilds. It comes as no surprise that they are cautious when approaching a change like this. If the goal is to get more people access to the best content in the game (raiding), then this is a good change. However, these players like the feel of what they are used to and don't want it taken away by a core group of players who are the best 10 in a 25 man guild, leaving the rest out cold to progress more slowly. There's just something "epic" about getting 5 times as many people as a normal group together to take down an enemy.

However, I have a suggestion for Blizzard that could make this change even better. I do not know the answer to forcing people into 25 man raids over equal 10 man raids. If you want to tune 10 and 25 man versions, then you should also tune a 40 man version and give special achievements/mounts/etc. for taking on the epic challenge of a 40 man raid. From an organizational standpoint, I know 25 is a nightmare and 40 is even worse. But I'm not suggesting guilds outside of a superguild run 40 man content often or even regularly...I'm talking about the best raiding guilds on a server coming together occasionally to feel truly epic. Heck, maybe put these on a special once a month timer. One of the greatest things I've ever done in this game is taken down the world dragon in the middle of Duskwood. Another is For The Alliance. Take this opportunity to let raiders of all styles enjoy raiding the way they like.

After all, the vast majority of people will be running 10 man content most of the time now anyway. Let's not lose the epic feel of the game. Go for it blizzard and see what happens!

Oh and for the record, this past weekend showed my thoughts on raiding twice. Fun once in a great while, but I hate that people who play more 25's than me are always better geared by leaps and bounds. I think some fights are truly harder on 10 man, and it will be nice to have the same gear for both so nobody trivializes 10 man content anymore. I do hope the most solid big guilds keep running 25 mans though it will be tough to convince raiders during the chewing glass point. Hopefully Blizzard makes 10 man truly just as hard so that there's no upside to ripping apart your 25 man guild.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Homogenization and How It Affects Healers

The WoW community has now had a while to stew or shout about the class changes announced for Cataclysm. While these changes are subject to removal or modification during the beta testing phase that will be upcoming, on the whole, we know the direction Blizzard wants to go with Azeroth. Considering all the changes to the core stats on gear and the old world itself, this could be a very different game in 2011. A relaunch of sorts to let Blizzard enjoy new subscribers and probably at least 5-6 more years of prosperity before moving to another MMO.

With the massive reduction in number of stats and complications, cries have come out about class homogenization. Some class representatives think they are losing what makes them different, and in the case of death knights where all three classes could tank, that is true to some extent. However, for healers the evidence is right there on the table in multiple ways. But is class homogenization a good thing?

The first major restructuring for healers came in the basic healing spells available to each healing class. For classes like shaman and priest, there were spells like Lesser Healing Wave, Lesser Heal, and Heal, that became completely obsolete at endgame. Blizzard does not like that, and so in Cataclysm each class will have three baseline heals: an expensive inefficient fast heal, a medium output medium speed heal, and a massive output large cost heal. This will give every class the same basic ability to take on any healing task.

As far as pruning out the useless spells in the spellbook, I like this change. Furthermore, for people like me who love healing with different classes, this will give us a sense of normalcy when we swap over to an alt or switch main characters. Right now sometimes I can feel lost with the druid set of heals compared to the big toolbox of priests, so it would be good to put 1-2-3 as pretty much the same thing on my bars for each character. As long as the remaining abilities on top of these baselines do not become too similar, it will continue to be desirable to play all the different healing classes. Overall I'm in favor of this change.

The second major restructuring is the changing of dispel mechanics. While this change was focused on PvP balance, the changes will definitely affect how you construct your raids as healers are now the only characters that can dispel (sorry retribution paladins and shadow priests). All "brainless" dispel-over-time abilities like abolish poison and Mass Dispel are going away in favor of one single cleanse or dispel spell for each class. The spell will handle 3/5 of the debuffs in the game, and so obviously you will need to keep a list handy of which classes can handle which debuffs. Here's the take:

Druids can dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and curses
Paladins can dispel defensive magic, diseases, and poison
Priests can dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and diseases
Shamans can dispel defensive magic, curses, and posion

I'm going to take a middle road with this change overall. As far as PvP, it is nice that all healers you bring along will be able to remove the polymorphs and other debuffs that knock your teammates out (when it's not aimed at the healers of course). However, I seriously question the outright removal of AoE dispels and dispel-over-time spells. For healers that are already tasked with quite a bit in raids, forcing us to proactively remove those pesky debuffs every time they pop up individually for each raid member just makes the job more difficult. However, at least there will only be one dispel button for all dispel actions now, so perhaps it will be better than I think. From the PvE perspective, I still just do not like the implications of removing some of the nifty different dispel utility, and it probably comes from being a priest who got all the toys.

Every healing class will have more clearly defined gear now that spirit will be the baseline mana regeneration statistic for everyone. Spellpower will only be present on weapons, but that should keep other people away from our weapons at least. It will be much simpler to figure out how to customize your gear when the relevant stats are limited to intellect, spirit, haste, and crit. This in combination with the repurposing ability to shift some stats around on your gear will make it possible for you to be very unique in your playstyle. This is a very good change.

And that's about all we have. Evidence to the contrary still shows paladins having better tank-saving tools, druids still being the masters of heal over time, priests being a jack of all trades, and shamans bringing the most added utility to any raid. Perhaps the homogenization claims are a little overblown with healers. Also, even if we are somewhat homogenized, in guilds with raid spot competition, this should reward those who play better, not those who play the right class. However, I do not want all four of my healers to become the same because the different styles of play in Azeroth is what makes the game engaging for hours beyond the first character. I hope this is as close as we come to each other in the healer field.

Verdict - Good for now, but no more!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cataclysm Changes - Paladin

Well the paladin healers had to wait only an extra five days past all the other classes to hear how the spells and talents would change, but the analysis had to wait an extra week from me since work sent me off to DC for a few days and the hotel had no wireless. At $500 a night. Ouch! I suppose I got to see the White House by being so close, but not much time for tourism when in DC for work. So let's get on it, albeit a little bit late!

The only low-level certain heal to be added has yet to be named, but it will be the equivalent of Greater Heal. The new setup will match the other three healing classes, with a fast yet inefficient role being played by Flash of Light, and an intermediate heal being played by Holy Light. I've always felt Holy Light was more of a Greater Heal equivalent, but apparently there will be something bigger. The basic three-tier toolbox is now the same for all healing classes, giving players of multiple healers like myself some level of familiar backbone spells. I'll speak my thoughts about this homogenization later, but overall it is probably a good thing.

Also, Sacred Shield will be modified to be a 30 minute long spell on one target. For a class that already is pigeonholed a bit into tank healing, this is not a step in the right direction. However, the blue post in the very same line spoke of improving the Holy Paladin toolbox to make them better raid healers. I was hoping for a bit more proof of that direction for paladins, but it appears we will need to wait a bit longer for those new spells in the toolbox.

Also the final dispel mechanic of the healing classes is Cleanse, which will remove defensive magic, diseases, and posions. A minor change for Paladins but nothing too major to get used to. Again, I'll give some thoughts a bit later about the standardization or homogenization of the dispel mechanics. One other note is that Blizzard wants Holy Shock to be a core healing spell for all paladins. The balance of the hybrid healing/damage spells is always interesting, so perhaps Holy Shock will continue to enable the shockadin players to do something completely different.

The Cataclysm level abilities feature Healing Hands at level 83. Healing Hands is a six second long AoE heal with a relatively short range. It is not a channeled spell though, so the paladin healer will be able to cast other heals while "radiating" small AoE heals. This is precisely the kind of spell holydins have not had in their toolbox. While it stinks that they will wait until nearly endgame to get it, this is a step in the right direction. The spell is currently tuned with a 15 second cooldown, so it will only be up 40% of the time at most.

The new endgame spell is called Guardian of Ancient Kings at level 85, and basically this is a summoned guardian who does something different for each spec of paladin for 30 seconds. For Holy paladins, the guardian will heal the most wounded ally in the area. I do not anticipate this will be a massive heal, but it will make paladin raid healing more automatic and clutch. I still believe more needs to be added to the toolbox for paladin raid healing, but the two Cataclysm level spells are a step in the right direction.

The top level Mastery bonus is Critical Healing Effect, which is no surprise for this class. This passive ability will further increase the healing output of critical hits. As usual, expect paladin heals to be happy to pack on some extra crit to maximize most of their healing spells.

On the whole, paladins have to be happy with the changes to their class coming in Cataclysm. While the changes may not be as spicy as shamans or earth-shattering as druids, it is good that paladins will basically double their amount of healing spells and join the other non-priest healing classes in utility. As I mentioned earlier, I believe there will be even more coming down the pipeline during the beta phase of Cataclysm, which makes it a great time to pick up a paladin healer and try it out if you have stayed away thus far. Also, paladins are one of the most enjoyable classes to level, so I strongly encourage you to join me in leveling those paladins.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cataclysm Changes - Druid

Well here I thought the druid changes may be more interesting than priest and shaman changes, but I was W-R-O-N-G. You see, Blizzard thinks resto druids have enough to play with already, which means perhaps this is a nod to priests having a truly biggest toolbox than the other healing classes. Or maybe druids do have more than enough to play with, but I know at level 60 that this does not seem to be the case. So on the whole, I am disappointed with no new spells coming to resto shamans considering all the new toys the other three druid roles are getting.

However, there is one bit of big news. I mean...BIG.

Yes that's right, Tree of Life will no longer be your passive state but a cooldown-based ability. This means druids will finally be returned to heal as much as other classes without needed to be in tree form all the time. You will finally be able to admire your gear (not so important), and you will not automatically be target number 1 anymore in PvP based on appearance alone. This will revolutionize the battleground experience for trees, who always get picked on. Plus this may be the new "different spell" for druids, in that they can enter tree form to really be clutch for 30 seconds or however long the ability lasts. Perhaps not the game-changer that heroism is for shamans, but I imagine this could be a similar result for endgame raiding.

Druids will be able to dispel defensive magic like all other healing classes, but the same dispels remain for curses and poison. Plus HoT's will benefit from haste, which will help tremendously. Speaking of heal over time spells, a new talent called Efflorescence will cause a bed of healing flowers to sprout beneath targets you critically heal with regrowth. This means that melee could get bonus heals just for standing next to a tank, and could make resto druids better tank healers.

Which leaves us with the mastery top level bonus, which is called HoT Scale Healing. What an original name, Blizzard, honestly. However, the ability is nice as it will be the heal over time equivalent of the shaman mastery, increasing the effectiveness of HoT spells for targets with less health. Again, making a druid healer more clutch, but perhaps to a lesser degree since it is heal over time spells.

So that's it. Hopefully I stretched that lack of news to a full entry here, and I think the extra week of paladin work will give us more to talk about next weekend. So far, druids have the biggest appearance change, but shamans and priests have to be a bit more happy looking forward to cataclysm. See you next time!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cataclysm Changes - Priest

Late last night the Priest changes were release at a time which only benefits Oceanic realms. But there was a lot to digest, since we have two healing specs in one class here. As a priest main, my only hope was to stay more versatile than other healing classes (because unlike the other three classes, we cannot tank or put out two very distinct types of DPS) and for Power Word Barrier to come back into the fold. Shielding is a cool mechanic, but only having one shield in PWS is not all that interesting after a while.

Well let's start with the new spells for both discipline and holy. The only low-level change for both is Heal, which will bring the priest back in line with the shaman changes we heard yesterday. Basically Blizzard wants a big heal which is Greater Heal, a fast but inefficient heal in Flash Heal, and a mid-range heal when you do not need the speed or the power in Heal. The current Lesser Heal and Heal are useless, so I think this is a good change that will make all the healing classes at least similar on a baseline level. Especially for priests, there's a ton more.

Healing priests will also get Mind Spike at level 81, which will be a nice quick damage dealing spell that does not require you to ramp up like normal shadow DPS. I think this will be competitive with Smite if you are discipline, but Smite is probably still better for holy. Not that important of a spell, and shadow really got nothing but this so kind of disappointed for them.

Inner Will is learned at level 83 and it is good and bad. The good is that Inner Fire now has another option and both of these have no charges. The bad is that Inner Will is very situational by only boosting run speed and mana cost of instant cast spells. This could be good for a shield-happy priest, but those are supposed to go out of style in Cataclysm with mana conservation being key. I cannot see you using Inner Will very much over the armor buff and spellpower buff of Inner Fire.

And now the bomb drops. The level 85 ability for all priests is called Leap of Faith, but it will forever be known as Life Grip or LG. LG is essentially a death knight's death grip for friendly targets. This has a 45 second cooldown, but it will be used to pull people out of fire, out of aggro, and out of focus in PvP. This seems like a perfect counter to death grip in PvP, and I'm happy that priests got what is probably the coolest ability in the game for their own needs. Plus this will be so much better than Levitate for screwing with people. However, I see many priest bloggers terribly unhappy because not only are DPS characters not allowed to dispel anymore, but now priests will be expected to save bad DPS from themselves. I don't see it like that. Bad DPS will still not be healed or life gripped. Sorry. If you are stupid, we'll let you die. Plain and simple.

Speaking of dispels, priests don't change as they will still dispel offensive magic and diseases with defensive magic (which every healer can dispel now). Mass Dispel and Abolish Disease are gone like a shaman's totem, which is kind of sad but fair. Also divine spirit is gone but who cares...less candles to buy.

With the simplification of stats, they are now making heal over time effects benefit from crit and haste stats. Haste will not shorten the duration but give more ticks, which is nice. Another interesting thing Blizzard said is that Greater Heal will probably be the tank-healing heal of choice. And apparently discipline priests are not being successful tank healers enough (what?), so they are considering adding a more powerful PW:Shield for tank use only essentially. I still cannot imagine a discipline priest not relying on PWS and Penance to the detriment of everything else since G-Heal is not currently talented by discipline. Maybe this will change in Cataclysm to for Greater Heal over Penance. This will be a very interesting development.

Now we get to the spec-specific abilities. We'll start with discipline, which Blizzard hopes to improve for single-target healing. I feel like discipline is just simply better at that already, but maybe not. They are indeed bringing PW:Barrier into the game at long last. This will be like the Healing Rains of Shaman but with the obvious priest twist of being preventive. The discipline mastery top ability will be Absorption, which will improve all shield strength. This is an obvious development choice for the shield spec, and while it is not original, it is good.

For holy, they claim that holy should be more interesting to play (it's already pretty close in my opinion), and that holy should be better in PvP. One new talent for holy will be called Chakra and will put the holy priest in an improved healing state if they cast Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. This sounds like when you need to put through more thoroughput or focus on one task, you will be better at it. Adding another layer to the biggest set of healing spells any class has already. Chakra is another good change. The holy top level mastery is called Radiance, which will add a small HoT effect to targeted healing spells. This is a nice benefit that will make top level holy priests feel a bit more like they can compete with divine aegis for discipline.

So while the overall changes for priests are not as groundbreaking as shaman healers, the changes are mostly good and interesting. And I suspect Life Grip will be the talk of the town for Cataclysm abilities like Death Grip was the signature of death knights early on. So two classes in for the healer changes, and so far I have to say kudos. I wish shadow priests did not get such a shaft, but maybe everyone else changing will make shadow priests interesting and unique somehow.

Next up are druids tomorrow. Thankfully we only care about the tree parts over here, but that class will likely be thick with changes due to fitting all 3 or 4 roles (if you count ranged and melee DPS separately). See you then!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cataclysm Changes - Shaman

It appears Cataclysm is closer and closer, as blizzard has finished up their beta changes to all the classes except Paladins, which they are close on. So for the next three days we will get detailed class changes coming to the other 9 classes, and here at Healer Trek we will have it covered for you from the healer side. The first day brings us Shaman and Priest changes (sometime, Priest changes are still not announced as of 11 PM). The Shaman changes are more than enough to keep us occupied though.

Let's begin with the new spells being added at lower levels for Restoration Shamans. At level 4, a Shaman will get Healing Wave, as the current spell with that name will become Greater Healing Wave. Considering there is a Lesser Healing Wave, this will set up shamans with the same basic toolbox as priests with "Heal". This is not a major change but it may give the shaman more flexibility if the new Healing Wave is like a Flash Heal for a priest. This could be a good change or it could be worthless.

The second spell a shaman will learn is Unleashed Weapon, which will work like a paladin's judgement. You have the Windfury/Flametongue/Earthliving Weapon on and then you can release it for a special ability with Unleashed Weapon. The healing on is Earthliving Weapon, which will release to heal the shaman slightly and buff the next healing spell by 20%. This could be critical in some close fights, and it brings more strategy to healing.

The third spell is a rehash from a previous new spell called Spirit Link. Essentially Spirit Link links your target with two or more nearby targets, causing damage to be spread among the targets. This is a nifty idea that may allow a DPS to transfer hard hits to a tank in certain circumstances. Or on especially hard fights for a tank, you can spread the damage out a bit and then AoE heal. Again, this is adding more strategy and interest to healing.

Now we turn to Cataclysm level abilities. At level 83 you will receive Healing Rains
which is an AoE heal over time spell that you put down like a lightwell, except the healing happens automatically to all characters in the area for 10 seconds. This will obviously be a new complement to Chain Heal, and may allow the shaman to be an even more efficient raid healer. This would be the most exciting new spell if not for...

Spiritwalker's Grace at level 85. This is a self-target buff that allows you to avoid spellcasting interruption for 10 seconds due to MOVEMENT. Yes, a shaman will be able to cast all their heals on the move for 10 seconds, with a cooldown of 2 minutes. On current fights like Professor Putricide and Marrowgar, this would be a godsend. As it is, I think this is a much better endgame healing ability than the class has ever had. And again, the spells are encouraging smarter and more strategic play, something I am all for.

All in all, these changes alone make shaman healing quite a bit more versatile, like priests. It makes me, as a priest main, more excited about leveling my shaman Clara. But we're not quite done yet.

Each of the healing classes is changing to have one dispel mechanic for two of the four kinds of negative buffs in the game. This is a nerf for shamans, who will only be able to remove curses and magic (no more poison removal and no more brainless cleansing Totem). Blizzard wants you to actively monitor and remove debuffs, and this will bring shamans in line with everyone else. I agree with this change despite the fact that it is a nerf.

The mastery top level for resto shamans is called Deep Healing, which will give progressive bonuses to healing targets based on how much life they have. Thus, a tank at 5% will receive much more bonus healing than a tank at 95%. Without knowing the endgame mastery of other healing classes, it is hard to say where this will stack up. But it looks like resto shamans are going to become more "clutch".

That sums it up, and this is just for restoration shamans! There are tons of changes coming down the pipe, but that makes sense since this expansion is basically dubbed WoW 2.0. I think these changes will make restoration shamans far more versatile and powerful, but only time will tell if the other classes see a similar overhaul. One healing class down, and we're feeling very good so far about Cataclysm.

next up will be Priests tomorrow, my expertise. I'm kind of hoping for the return of Power Word Barrier, honestly. But priests are very balanced already, so it's just small stuff in all likelihood.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Question about Recount

Slightly fuller entry below. However, I'm experiencing what I think is a glitch with Recount but I have no way I know of to test it. I do not think Recount is properly counting my healing spells. I can sit and spam cast and watch recount not move, and it's happened for months. However, now that I raided with our guild leadership (who takes it very seriously), I kept getting called out for not pushing out enough heals. The discipline priest in our raid was not so much more geared than me that he should be healing twice as much as I do when you count shields, but that's what is coming back. There were a couple fights where I cast Circle of Healing every cooldown and Prayer of Healing a few times and couldn't beat someone casting Flash heals and Penance. That does not make sense since we both gem for spell power.

I started paying closer attention and when I would cast CoH, I'd see the six green numbers pop up on screen from 3500-5500 let's say, meaning the total jump on recount should be 25-30k. Yet it moves like 5k, if that. Is there a way to calibrate or test recount to ensure that I'm not being screwed over in the eyes of my guild and raid leadership?

If I'm just not doing it right, that's fine. But I just have a sinking feeling it is not that, and if that holds Ekat out of raids, I'm seriously bothered by it.

Help. All comments are welcomed.

Raiding at a Top Level Again

Well I told myself if Ekaterinae got selected for the top group or more experienced group of 10-man ICC in my guild which runs two weekly ICC-10 runs, I would splurge on the Sandals of Consecration. I'm not going to pay 23 emblems for the tailoring pattern and 115 more emblems of frost to make the boots, so I bought all of the primordial saronite off the auction house and dropped about 8,000 gold total on the shoes. However, Lord Marrowgar kept not dropping his cloth boots and the Sandals are a bigger upgrade. Well I got into Team Vowain and so I jumped my gearscore from 5302 to 5452 in one day by getting my second Tier 10 piece with emblems and having a guildie make the sandals to replace my poor ilvl 213 boots from Naxx-25.

Then it was time for ICC. While I was still on the low-geared side for Team Vowain, we did pretty well overall despite having a tough night by their standards. They have downed 9 of the 13 bosses in ICC thus far, and we got 7 down on this run. Professor Putricide escaped us but that was likely because we had two people new to the fight including me trying to 2-heal it. For the first time I saw Rotface, Festergut, and the Blood Prince Council fall. Each fight is challenging but not as bad as it seemed before thanks to the 10% buffs. I'm all jazzed up for another two weekends of raiding ICC while my wife and daughter visit family in Colorado in a couple weeks. I'm becoming more confident and I even went Holy spec for the first time in ages.

Trust me, it took a while to get back to the only spec I thought I would ever have before dual spec. But I think I've got it figured back out and was happy to raid heal effectively again.

So how are you doing in ICC?