Monday, June 30, 2008

What does "Heroic Geared" mean?

I see this spam in /LookingForGroup all night long:

And yet, try as I might, I found it was nigh impossible to figure out what that meant. What is “Heroic Geared”? What is "Kara Geared"? How do I know if I am correctly geared? I'm not in a raiding guild, so it's not like I can just ask on /guild and get an answer.

So, instead, I send out a whole lot of messages like this:
I know I don't qualify, but for my future reference, what is the spell damage or DPS requirement for that?

Whenever I see spam for a dungeon or raid, I ask. I don't always get useful answers, but most of the time it is worth it.

To that end, I've started this page on the Wiki: Dungeon Expectations. But that's a huge page with a bunch of tables, so let me give it to you straight.

For a PUGging Shadowpriest ...

You are ready to start on Kara when you have replaced most or all of your greens with blues. If you have greens then you should have at least as many purples to compensate. You may or may not be hit-capped, but you should be a large way towards it. Your unbuffed spell damage should be close to or above 700. You can pull off 650 if your group is very good. You're going to have trouble pumping out the pure DPS and MP5 that the group needs for the big bosses (Nightbane and the Prince) until you are hit-capped and greenless, so make sure you have as many buff foods, elixirs, and oils as you can afford.

You are “Kara-geared” when you are greenless and hit-capped. You should be standing on 750-800 unbuffed spell damage. At this level you can feel comfortable doing full Kara runs, knowing that you're definitely pulling your weight.

The range for “Heroic-geared” overlaps a bit. You can start doing the easy ones (Slave Pens, Ramparts) around 750 as long as you have a decent group. You're going to want to be closer to 850 if you want to start doing ninja-farming runs that don't take two hours. The Heroic bosses take roughly the same effort as the Kara bosses, but there's a bit less wiggle-room for error as you are running a 5-man instead of a 10-man.

Your goal in Kara and Heroics should be to replace as many of your blues with purples as you can.

The next step at 850 is Gruul, then Magtheridon at 900.

At that point it starts over again for Zul'Aman. If you have an experienced group, you can start running ZA as early as 950. But you'll want to be 1000+ if you're going to farm it efficiently and feel like you are really contributing. You should be almost completely in purples for ZA.

#117 with a bullet

I have several posts that I am working on from this weekend that will go over what I've learned this past weekend. The first and easiest is ...

As near as I can tell, I am the (unofficial) #117-ranked Shadowpriest on my server, Bleeding Hollow. This is out of 217 ranked level-70 Shadowpriests.

How do I know this? I've been working on a spider to crawl the Armory for the gear progression chart that I'm working on. Last Friday, I fed it the names of all of the guilds registered with WowJutsu for my server. It spent most of Friday night and Saturday crawling through characters and guilds and gear, and came back with a list of 217 Shadowpriests. If I rank those characters by Bonus Shadow Spell Damage (then Spell Hit, then Spell Crit), I come back #117.

Yeah, the ranking needs some work and it's a total crap measurement, but it's something. And, given that I was #125 on Friday and #117 this morning, that shows that all of the grinding I did this weekend paid off. (I enchanted my [Evoker's Helmet of Second Sight] with the Revered Sha'tar [Glyph of Power].)

The complete list of people I need to pass to get to the top:

5PriestieAncients Way1339Dwarf
7FabftwOver Rage1324Undead
8HellnoDIBT FAKK1322Undead
10OsiroClan Redeye1309Blood Elf
11NumbernineClan Redeye1285Undead
12LethamDissension1279Night Elf
13BobepineDIBT FAKK1260Undead
14MenashaReliquary1258Blood Elf
16RoxxaI Has a Bucket1247Blood Elf
17StarglowOutcast Faction1239Draenei
18DrlucyoHeresy1229Blood Elf
19MisledDIBT FAKK1221Blood Elf
21MailliaOver Rage1219Undead
22SeraphzGankers Gone Wild1210Blood Elf
23DarkwishDIBT FAKK1201Blood Elf
24TyresaAncients Way1198Human
25KahlideHP1196Night Elf
27MuffleyI Has a Bucket1182Undead
30PraetoriansUndercity Escorts1143Blood Elf
31MajellaClan Redeye1135Blood Elf
32LightbloomMars1125Night Elf
33GrothumHonor Eternal1124Undead
34DianessaExplicit1118Night Elf
35ChekmateOver Rage1112Undead
38CelyinaTempest1095Blood Elf
39AthearGank This1090Undead
40YauWu Tang Financial1082Draenei
41ThemasochistDeath Watch1081Troll
45LexaKnights of the Undercity1068Undead
46TuruneS T A T S1059Human
47HibiyaI Has a Bucket1057Troll
48BryanneKitten Mafia1046Draenei
49FalseprophetGraveyard Saints1033Blood Elf
50KamiUndisputed1018Night Elf
51CrocadocDIBT FAKK1018Blood Elf
52MorninAll Day1017Dwarf
53VikturBlood Seekers1014Undead
55MetallinaDIBT FAKK1004Undead
57PopejboneS T A T S996Human
58CruciusDIBT FAKK991Undead
59ZodicalLast Stand985Undead
62KhelendrosVeni Vidi Vici981Night Elf
63SaiaiFueled By Evil980Night Elf
64BorntohealClan Redeye977Troll
65WhofortedThe Fearless973Undead
66WhitenoizeArmy of Darkness971Undead
67ThirdstrikeSilver Dragon970Human
69MoobbertArmy of Darkness957Blood Elf
70UglybishOnyx Myriad951Dwarf
72OdjoAlliance Homicide951Blood Elf
74SinjonnieTwisted947Night Elf
75VipraInner Circle of Light947Night Elf
76CasprinOrigin944Blood Elf
77LifestealerFrom the Ashes943Human
78BlacksodaDIBT FAKK943Blood Elf
79ZylahHeroics924Blood Elf
80MorianThe Brotherless924Night Elf
81HellacopterKitten Mafia923Human
82LichprincessBlood Seekers910Undead
84MyopicfluxBaker Company897Undead
85KillacozartNemesis Knights897Night Elf
87JeraldUC elevator victims887Undead
88BadcaramelDeath Watch882Undead
90PalitoxDIBT FAKK869Troll
91BoltageThe Fearless868Undead
92RosehealaArabian Knights863Undead
93ClampBe Negative861Undead
94GhosfacekilaClan Redeye858Troll
95ToncaLegion of Vengeance849Night Elf
97CyrrhusMindless Oppression843Undead
98AleryiaVeritas Aequitas839Human
99TehbumpkinsClan Redeye839Undead
100BernalsFueled By Evil838Dwarf
102HostilityHeMan Woman Haters Club835Undead
103FikosCrescent Moon834Human
104BillywitchmdDIBT FAKK826Undead
105AzokuGankers Gone Wild825Blood Elf
106KeueferAncients Way823Dwarf
108NightshaadowPhoenix819Blood Elf
109Scholesyred skeletons811Undead
111DementiusDemon Within810Dwarf
112CalathPhoenix807Blood Elf
114OrzhovaOnyx Myriad800Night Elf
115MeiiGraveyard Shift794Human
117ApanthropeBleeps Sweeps and Creeps791Troll
118LuvinpetchaForgotten Misfits791Human
119VaeperzNight Fall791Night Elf

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Post-70 Quest Chart, v2

I've added the Sha'tari Skyguard, Ogri'la, and Netherwing quest lines. Check it out:

World of Warcraft: Post-70 Quest Progression Chart

I'm trying to stick to major questlines. (One-off dailies aren't that helpful.)

Any thoughts on what else I should add?

My luck with Kara continues

Got my second Kara invite earlier this evening (morning). The group had wiped on Netherspite and lost their SPriest, then found me. They had their Warlock summon me into Kara within seconds of accepting the invite. After my last (first) Kara run I hadn't been planning on coming back for a little while.

Problem being, I've never done Netherspite. I hadn't even read about Netherspite. But I would be an idiot to decline an invite, right?

The fight starts within about 30 seconds. Firefox hadn't even finished loading. So, I did my best.

I saw the RL say I was "Group 1 Blue". I start laying on my DOTs and notice the blue portal open behind him. I see that I can't target it, then see someone jump in front of the red and green portals. I do the same, and hope that's what I am supposed to do.

Yep. I'm supposed to stand in front of the beam. Score one for dumb luck.

That luck runs out, however, as the first Banish phase kicks in. I look around and see that everyone has disappeared. I turn tail and make for the windows, but it is too late. Netherspite aggros me and I go down in two hits.

This faceplant time does not end prematurely with a battle rez, so I take a minute to read the strategies. Oh. Banish == Run. Got it. During that time, the rest of the group is busy wiping.

Attempt #2: we win.

I faced down Netherspite, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt pair of badges.

Next they want to run the Prince. Crap. I didn't have time to read that far ahead. And I can't leave to read as they are running and I have no idea which way to go without following behind someone.

Many twisty stairs later and the RL has explained that it is a DPS-fest, with only a few caveats:
  1. When you get the 1HP debuff, get out of AoE range immediately.
  2. Stay near the (marked) healers.
  3. When you see an Infernal about to land, run.
Three wipes come and go. Infernals drop between the healers and everyone else each time. Everyone is tired. We swap out a Pallie for a Mage in full PvP gear.

On the fourth round the second Infernal drops on top of the healers and ranged DPS. But this is okay because we still have plenty of room to move around. The third Infernal drops right in the middle, snuggling all of us against the outer wall. I go /oom far too fast because I'm too busy running to be mana-efficient. But I'm lucky because I catch a good spot right outside of the point where two infernals meet and just outside of Shadow Nova range. I drop a pot and keep going.

The fourth Infernal drops almost on top of the Prince. Only a few people have died at this point, and melee and the healers do an amazing job of getting everyone into the tiny space we have left outside of Infernal range. Everyone is now toe-to-toe with the Prince, Shadow Nova be damned.

I go /oom again. I've been better about mana use, but this is a long fight. I look down and say a silent prayer -- my Fiend has exactly 3 seconds left on cooldown. I jump up and down, let my fiend out, and start reapplying DOTs as the mana comes in.

More people are dropping around me, but we're going to win. He's at less than 35k health. I look up to see that I am at 100% despite being point-blank with the Prince -- our healers are doing an amazing job.

20k. Burn, baby, burn.

10k. It's in the bag.


Now, the astute among you might notice something: I'm not wielding the same weapon in both pictures. In the first, I had my trusty Bringer of Death. What's that in the second?

Why, that's the Nathrezim Mindblade, dropped by our buddy the Prince.

The PvP Mage rolled an 87. I pulled an 88. Someone above loves me. The knife alone added +82 spell damage. A quick trip to the AH provided an Astralaan Orb of the Invoker for another +18 spell damage.

In a single 90-minute trip to Kara I was able to bump my spell damage by an even +100 from +653 to +753.

(All I had to do was wipe 4 times. Deal!)

I have absolutely no doubt that something like this will never happen again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

PvP as a fresh 70 SPriest

As much as it drives me crazy to be on a PvP server and dealing with all of the ganking Huntards, I do loves me some Battlegrounds PvP action. I absolutely suck at it, but I still enjoy it.

I die. Often. I have cackling-laughter levels of fun, but I really do die quite often.

Of course, my low survivability may have something to do with the fact that I have pretty much no Resilience to speak of. I have a little bit from the Vindicator's Pendant of Subjugation that I picked up the other day, but a grand total of +18 Resilience is laughably low.

And yet ... the times I laugh the loudest are when I have 2 or 3 people nuking me down, bubble and Fear on cooldown with no mana, and I am CCed and have absolutely no escape ... and yet it takes a good 10 seconds to drag me to the ground. I cheer as I hit the Release button. Come on guys, I'm a clothie! I can only assume that those people doing such a horrible job of nuking me down are even worse geared than I am. (Or maybe they have so much Resilience gear on that they've nerfed their damage output?)

For whatever reason, anecdotally, this seems to happen most often in Eye of the Storm. I have no explanation for this.

I know that I'm not quite ready yet for Arena play. Neither in terms of skill, nor in gear. I honestly doubt I'll set foot in one before S4 starts.

Mass Dispel is your friend.

Yeah, it chews through mana. See that glowing bubble around that Paladin? Mass Dispel. (You are the only class in the game that can get rid of it.) Warlock tab-DOTting your assault force? Mass Dispel. Druid at the far back of the opposing force throwing out ethereal green Renew HoTs? Mass Dispel. Mage in an Iceblock? Mass Dispel.

Tab. VT. SWP. VE. CoW. MF.

Try to hit the VT first. You're not looking for mana back (although it is helpful), you're just adding another DoT. The SWP is your big gun, and since it is instant you can probably get it off before the target is out of range. VE is just icing on the cake to get you and your group a little HP back. If you can do CoW, great -- the attack reduction isn't much, but their healers will have to spend more mana to get them healed back up again. If the target is still in range, MF.

Mounted targets almost never stop.

Passing ships in the night? I don't think so. As the target is coming into view, spam SWD. As soon as it hits, turn and run after them and spam VE then CoW (or the other way around if you prefer). You should be able to get all 3 instants off before they are out of range again. I've been able to take out plenty of Warlocks and Mages this way.

If you are in a really vindictive mood, mount up ASAP and follow them. The VE tagging will help you track them. When they think they are safely out of range, they may dismount to Dispel or Bandage. They will almost never look behind them, so you safely run into MB range, tag them, and start Flaying.

Learn to recognize PvP Warrior armor. They are probably immune to your Fear and will most likely turn you into paste. You may want to let them pass.

Take the high ground.

Sun Tzu had it right. You want the high ground for two reasons: the view and the view.

Out of combat, Mind Vision is your friend and has a place in every single BG. Find the highest point you can then start body-hopping with MV. Call out enemy force movements to the BG chat. I have an outstanding Arathi Basin win record because I stand at the top of the Lumber Mill and do exactly that.

In-combat your range is your friend, and melee is your enemy. As a SPriest, you want to be a sniper, not cannon fodder. Climb up into a tower or onto a roof and nuke from above. If your target has to negotiate some stairs or a tricky jump to get to you, that's a few more seconds you have to live. Plus, in the heat of a pitched battle, many (most?) people will focus on what is right in front of them and won't look up.

Let your freak Fiend out.

If you are used to PvE, it can be hard to remember to use your Shadowfiend. You can get conditioned to think of your Fiend as an emergency-only measure. But in PvP, your Fiend is more DPS, more mana back, and helps to interrupt casters trying to nuke you down. In PvP, your Fiend should never come off of cooldown without going right back on.

Fear dispersal.

One of the first tricks I learned was to run into the soup and spam my Fear button. This works well in most BGs, but notsomuch in Alterac Valley. It seems that in AV most people are right there on their trinkets, or are specced to be Fear-immune. In the other BGs, though, this almost always works.

Shut up, shut up, shut up!

We don't use Silence very much in PvE, but it is awesome in PvP. Again, it should almost never come off of cooldown.

Keep your shields up.

This includes Inner Fire, PWS, and Shadowguard if you have it. Shadowguard + Blackout = several more seconds for you to live when that tank starts beating on you.

But don't take my word for it ...

SPriests are great fun in BGs. You'll die, often, but you'll also be amazed at how much damage you can do, and how long it takes some of the enemies to take you down. Even if all you do is run around and tab-DoT everything in sight, you're still making a valuable contribution to the BG. The gear you get from it is very much worth the time you put into it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Frozen Shadoweave

FSW. Frozen Shadoweave. Shadow's Embrace.

The set is both a blessing and a curse for Shadow Priests. The three pieces (shoulders, boots, and robe) are probably the first gear set that SPriests are really going to lust after ... and in many cases they are also the last.

The Good

The set is relatively easy to obtain: just level yourself to 375 in Tailoring. This is, I think, easiest done as you level, but you can also grind it out in an afternoon if you have a few hundred gold to spare. (Hint: make bags and AH them.) The patterns are available from your Shadoweave trainer, Andrion Darkspinner in Shattrath, for a pretty reasonable price.

The Bad

Unless you really like to grind elementals, it's going to cost you about 1500g to make the set:

36gNetherweave Cloth, 234 pcs
28gArcane Dust, 26
275gPrimal Shadow, 13
275gPrimal Fire, 13
760gPrimal Water, 38
80gNetherweb Spider Silk, 8

And that 1500g? That does not include the cost of the 6 gems that you'll need to put in it. But more on that later.

The Ugly

The cooldown for each pair of Shadowcloth is just under 4 days. The set takes a total of 13 pairs of Shadowcloth. Assuming you are devout in your trips to make Shadowcloth, that's 48 days between the time you make your first pair and your last pair.

Want to save yourself some money?

Farm, baby.

At the just-dinged-70 level of gear (roughly +500 Spell Damage and no real +Spell Hit) I was able to grind roughly 8 Primal Water per hour, and about half that for Primal Fire and Primal Shadow. Netherweb Spider Silk ran about 4 or 5 per hour. Don't sweat the cloth or the dust. You will have an abundance of cloth from questing, and the dust is very cheap on the AH.

Don't be fooled by the people that talk about being able to grind more than that -- they probably are much heavier geared than you will be when you need to do this.

If you don't want to spend anything you are looking at roughly 13-18 hours of grinding, on top of saving all of the cloth you get from questing. Sure, that's a far cry from the 7 weeks you are waiting on Shadowcloth cooldowns, but it's still no less than 13 hours of doing nothing but killing the same 4 mobs over, and over, and over.

The reality is that you are probably going to be somewhere in between. Personally, I made it through 6/13 batches of Shadowcloth, or just about 3 weeks. The other 14 pieces I bought on the AH for about 70g each. I farmed my way through roughly half of the other mats, probably spending a total of 500g on motes and primals. (Always check the prices for both before you buy either.)

Gemming Your FSW

You've probably been reading quite a bit on about how your #1 stat is Spell Damage, right? And how if you are putting anything other than red gems in your gear then you are nerfing yourself?

Ignore that advice for now. Come back to it later.

The first thing you need to work on before you start worrying about Spell Damage is Spell Hit. Before you are hit-capped, all the damage in the world doesn't do you any good if you keep missing on spells. There's a boatload of theorycraft involved here, but the short version is this:
  1. Make sure you are maxed out in Shadow Focus.
  2. Get your Spell Hit up to 76.
At the fresh-FSW gear level, your best and easiest bet is going to be to go for the socket bonuses and put in the correct gems, not just red ones. I recommend pairs of Great Dawnstones and Glowing Nightseyes. Yes, there are better ones that you will eventually have access to, but both of those are readily available for a decent price on the AH.

Each pair grants you +8 Spell Hit, +5 Spell Damage, and +6 Stamina. And, oh look, by following the socket colors you got another +9 Spell Hit, for a total of +33 Spell Hit from the set. That's almost half-way to getting hit-capped. Sold! You even still get your +15 Spell Damage, and a little extra HP to keep you alive a fraction of a second longer. It'll cost you between 200g and 250g for all 6 gems, total.

At the gear level you are going to be at when working on your FSW, completing the set should add roughly +100-150 Spell Damage to what you were wearing before. For me, that translated to about +650 Spell Damage, unbuffed. With that, you should be able to sustain roughly 500 DPS on boss mobs, spiking to 600 DPS if you have a good tank and can really go all out and get your rotation down. You're basically ready to take on any Normal-mode dungeon without breaking a sweat. Heroics will be challenging without other gear upgrades.

Oh, and you can start soloing level 68 Elites. It'll take practice and you'll die a few times, but you can do it. How cool is that?

The Curse of FSW

Did I mention that FSW was both a blessing and a curse? Oh yeah, I did. How can a set so be uber and amazing and at the same time a Bad Thing?

You're going to be in that set for a very, very, very long time.

The problem is that we can get the FSW so early in the game. It's T4/T5-equivalent, and yet we can get it within a few weeks of hitting 70. The psychological effect is that SPriests are easily lulled into thinking that continuing to enhance their DPS at that rate will be easy.

The reality is this: if you're not in a raiding guild to where you can get into 25-man dungeons whenever you want, you may never outgrow that set. In fact, many/most T4 and T5 items would actually be a downgrade from that set.

Back to the Upside

Still, FSW is a bucket of awesome.
  • For the next several months you don't even have to think about it when you see a Chest, Shoulder, or Feet drop -- it's just auto-Greed.
  • The HP regen as you do damage is nice. It won't keep you vertical if you start taking serious damage, but it's nice to know that you can soak small amounts of secondary damage. Also, in PvP it's an easy way to keep tabs on people you've DOTted.
  • You have 6 gem slots to mix and match as your other gear gets you closer to, and eventually over, your hit cap.
Oh, and it's not bad looking. If you don't like it, well, that's what Shadowform is for.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tales from the Mechanar

(I posted this a few days ago on, but wanted to also have it here.)

So here I am, progressing nicely and generally just trying to see as much as I can see before Outland becomes a deadzone with WotLK. I've been trying to get a PUG for Reg Mech for the last week or so. Before last night, I'd stepped through the instance portal four times, but never once gotten to the first boss as something always happened to the group before then.

(Now that I've done the chart, I see why -- there's just no reason to go to Reg Mech any more. The loot is okay, but not great, and the quests are now irrelevant.)

But last night I finally got into a group and made it all the way through. It was easily the hardest dungeon I've yet run, and yet that difficulty had nothing to do with the dungeon itself.

We started the run like normal, and on the first pull I noticed that I got aggro surprisingly fast. No big deal, though, right? It always takes everyone a minute to get into their routine. On the next pull I waited until I saw two Sunder Armors hit before I started doing anything. Got aggro again. Mmmkay. Pull three, I waited for three SA, and still got aggro. Pull four, I took VE out of my rotation and managed to not get aggro, but Omen screamed at me for the last half of the pull.

It turns out that the MT was an Arms-specced Warrior. I admit that I'm pretty ignorant about tank specs, beyond knowing that a Resto Pallie is a healer and not a tank, and that my Warrior guildie holds aggro like duct tape now that he's respecced to Prot. Apparently, Arms spec means that the Warrior doesn't have much threat-generating capacity?

Crap. I may be a n00b, but even I know that a SPriest is a threat-generating machine. I've spent the last two post-70 weeks getting myself used to going all-out on my DPS. I watch my DoT timers -- I apply my priority queue -- I get it done.

The next couple of pulls were Tinkerers, which had low enough HP that aggro wasn't a problem. Then there's the first boss.

Unfortunately, I am dumb. I knew I needed to leave VE out of the rotation, but the opening spell combo is apparently too firmly ingrained at this point. VE was up before I realized what I had done. Okay, no problem. I left out SWP to try to offset my mistake. I waited for four SA before starting, not with an MB, but with a MF. Things are going well.

Until the boss turns red.

Now, I had read the strategies. I knew that green meant Spell Reflect. Spell Reflect is bad. I knew, in the back of my mind, that red meant Melee Reflect. But, can you see where I'm going with this? I didn't.

A half-second later Omen is screaming at me and my screen is going bright and angry red. I stop casting, actually interrupting my MF. Another half-second goes by before the boss starts to move. I stand there, looking at my DoT timers, wondering if I should just refresh CoW now, since it'll be a few seconds before the tank can catch up to the threat again. Always Be Casting.

But the tank's threat bar stays below mine. The boss is making a beeline for me. I back up, instinctively trying to stay out of melee range so that the boss will reaquire the tank. No joy. A second later, the mobs that we didn't clear behind me have entered the picture and I get ground into a very purple paste.

It's only as we are flying back to the instance do I figure out wtf happened: I wasn't thinking fourth-dimensionally. Yeah, I may be able to cast while he's red, but the tank can't generate any threat while he's red. Duh. I apologize to the group for making such a dumb and n00b mistake. Everyone is surprisingly cool, especially for a PUG. The tank, nicely, reiterates that he is Arms specced, and can't do much to generate threat beyond SA. The healer (a T6 Priest) whispers me, again nicely, to take it as easy as I can.

We get through the rest of the instance with only one more wipe, and that one was Hunter-related and not my fault.

But, that next hour took more concentration and skill than anything I've had to do up to this point. With a Prot tank, I'd have been able to sleep through it. But as it was, I had to ride Omen like a bucking bronco, throwing the priority queue out the window and doing my best to keep high enough DPS to get the mobs down but without ever pulling aggro.

I never thought it would be more difficult to do less damage.

I learned something last night.

First Kara Run

I just logged out of my first Kara run. I think we ran for just about 4.5 hours. We downed Attumen, the Maiden of Virtue, Moroes, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Curator. We made a decent attempt at Nightbane before we wiped and the MT disconnected. We gave up for the night after a wipe on the Shade of Aran.

And I didn't see half of the dungeon. Wow. I don't know how people do full clears in one sitting.

Everything went by too fast for me to really absorb any of it. The people running the show called out basic instructions on Vent, and I shut up and listened. I apparently did well enough that when we left the main gate to head to the back entrance to hit up Nightbane, and of course I had to ask where the back entrance was, just about everyone in the group was audibly surprised that I had never been to Kara before.

So, yeah, I take that as a compliment.

Unfortunately, I don't think I am adequately geared for Kara just yet. I'm sitting at 650 spell damage unbuffed, getting to just over 700 with Blackened Basilisk and Superior Wizard Oil. On bosses that I could go all out without having to run around I was managing roughly 600DPS. That's okay, but it's just not enough for the heavy hitters like Nightbane. This lack of DPS translated into a lack of mana to my party members, and it was definitely noticed in the longer fights. I did okay, but I certainly didn't do great.

Realistically, I think I'd want to be at 800 spell damage before I give Kara more than just a novelty attempt. Maybe by the time I finish the Kara attunement quests and get the key (I am only on The Second and Third Fragments right now) I will be more appropriately geared?

On the upside, I did pick up 9 Badges of Justice and a set of Harbinger Bands. The bracers were only a minor upgrade, but every little bit helps, right? I also managed to work my way to Friendly with the Violet Eye.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Leveling a Shadow Priest, 1-57

Let's get the basics out of the way first. Get this through your head right now and you'll have a much easier time of things:

Even though you are a Shadow Priest, you will spend most of your pre-Outland dungeon time as the primary healer.

Here's the thing: until you get to Outland, going Shadow is the only way you're going to be able to solo. You might have Holy Fire in your rotation in the early levels, but you will drop it as soon as you get Shadowform. The other specs, Holy and Discipline, don't do damage quickly enough to let you solo without lots and lots of downtime. As Shadow, you should be able to do 3-5 mob pulls before you have to sit down and drink. The other specs? Forget about it.

The catch to Shadow is that while it is great for soloing, you don't really bring all that much damage to a group setting in your early levels. And the really cool Vampiric Embrace and Vampiric Touch that you can do? They return health and mana based on how much damage you can do. So while they may be great for keeping you topped off while soloing, they just aren't all that useful in a group setting until Outland. I know, it's hard to get your head around, but it's true.

So ... be prepared to be the primary healer until you get to Outland. Get used to it.

In fact, I'd say it's a good thing. As a Priest, you definitely need to understand both how to heal and how to manage the threat that comes with healing. Healing is hard. There are going to be plenty of times post-70 when your primary healer is going to go down. You have the opportunity to keep it from being a wipe by popping out of Shadowform and tossing a few heals.

I am not saying that you have to be great at it (personally, I am a horrible healer), but you need to understand when to use a Flash Heal, when to use a Greater Heal, and when to Shield and Renew. The only way you're going to get that knowledge is to spend a lot of time healing in your early levels.

Got that? Now for the good news.

Even though you are healing, your full Shadow spec and gear are just fine.

Honest. I did primary healer duties all the way through 68 and Auchindoun. I never geared for healing -- everything I had on was for my Shadow spec. But, Priests are such great healers to begin with that it doesn't matter. Gear and spec for full Shadow and don't worry about whether or not you'll be able to keep everyone vertical until very late 60s.

Having said all of that, you'll see that I currently have 2 points in Healing Focus. Get this early on -- it will save your bacon in both solo and groups.

I'm going to reprint something I posted a while ago. Here are some tips for being a primary healer, even when you are full Shadow.

As we're working our way to the instance, I make sure everyone knows:

"I have plenty of water, so we won't have to pause more than 15 seconds between fights."

Do not be afraid to use a water after every single fight. Water is cheap compared to what you're getting from the instance -- even a single Greed drop will generally pay for all of the water you use. I always keep 80+ on me. You might need even more for a longer instance. Hoping for a Mage to provide water, or trying to do it on the cheap and count on your Spirit to get you through will only frustrate everyone.

"Please keep an eye on my mana -- if I'm at less than 2/3, don't pull or I might not be able to keep everyone up."

You may have to say this several times. Remember that many tanks don't pay attention to anything but their combos and think that they can just keep chain-pulling their way through the instance. Don't get frustrated -- it's just the way it is.

"Please don't tank if you aren't a tank."

I've been in more than a few groups where a bored Lock or Shammy tries to get in the soup and tank. If there's a lot of AOE damage going on (proximity bombs in BF, for example) then you're going to have a heart attack trying to keep everyone up. I've gone so far as to reinforce this later with "my main priority is the tank -- if you go down and you're not the tank, I'm not going to feel bad".

Don't be afraid to ask for backup healing help.

Is there a Shammy, Druid, or Pally in the group? There's nothing wrong with pulling them off of whatever else they are doing and having them do backup heals. If they don't want to help ("but I'm not specced to heal!") gently remind them that neither are you, but that you can't guarantee that there won't be a wipe. You'll almost always get resistance for the same reason that you're Shadow instead of Holy -- healing's just not as much fun to most people. But, especially for bosses, sometimes you gotta do it. Tell them that you will worry about the tank and off-tank, and they just have to keep their eye on the off-tank and everyone else. (Yes, you are doubling-up on the off-tank, but in theory you shouldn't have to heal the off-tank all that much.)To sum up: communicate. Talk to your group.

As for efficiency:

Remember the 5SR (five-second rule).

You want to heal in bursts, not continuously like you do DPS. It'll feel weird and you'll have to remember that your goal of "Always Be Casting" as Shadow does not in any way work as a healer.

Try to stick to your Greater Heal.

It's got the best mana efficiency and bang for your buck. If you've got a Druid that can Ennervate, a couple of Flash Heals aren't unwarranted, but you'll almost never want to use Flash otherwise.

Renew is your friend.

Yeah, it's not as mana-efficient as a real heal, but it's instant and it will counteract all but seriously heavy damage.

In non-emergencies ...

You generally shouldn't worry about bubbling people. Especially later, bubble is just too much mana and threat for what will probably only get swatted away in a single hit.

In emergencies ...

Bubble, Renew, Greater Heal, Greater Heal. (And have your finger on the Fade.)

In dire emergencies ...

Bubble, Flash Heal, Renew, Greater Heal.

You will be tempted ...

... to use your SWP+VE to regen health for the entire party. If you're not at a boss, don't bother. It sounds nice, but there's just not enough benefit. Don't even think about VT, even for bosses. You're playing the role of healer -- VT won't do jack for you. Save your mana.

You have a group heal (PoH)

But also remember that it is only mana-efficient when 3 or more party members have significant damage. You can get a pair of Renews down faster and with the same effect. (And if your party is behaving, no more than two people should ever be taking damage at a time.)

Prayer of Healing (group heal) gets even harder to get off in later levels -- the damage just comes too fast. Be absolutely certain that you can make it happen. I've found that it's most useful for bosses, but not much else.

No really, save your mana.

Unless you are in an uber group that somehow barely needs you to the point that you are bored, don't try to "help" with debuffs or DoTs. You're a healer, not a fighter.

Try to keep an eye on pets ...

But remember that your main focus is the tank. Hunters get especially vocal when you "let" their pet die. (The pet comes back unhappier and has to be fed more.) Shrug it off and remember that Hunters are wicked overpowered in PvE, leading to some Hunters not putting the time in to bother to learn how to control their pets beyond just "target and attack", and if their pet dies it's because they're probably not controlling it as well as they should be. (And yes, they can heal their own pets, just not as efficiently as you can.) Locks are generally less concerned about it.

Late-Game Heals

Binding Heal (heal you and me) is a big chunk of awesomeness, especially when you accidentally take damage. Prayer of Mending (bouncing heal) is similarly awesome, especially when everyone has a mob.

You may not need an entire set of healing gear, but ...

A few items wouldn't hurt. Get Outfitter or ItemRack or some other outfit management addon. Set it up as follows:
  • Your default outfit should be healing gear. Yes, really.
  • Set your DPS outfit to come on when you go into Shadowform.
This will mean that whenever you pop out of Shadowform you will automatically put on your healing gear. Logically, pretty much the only reason you'll ever leave Shadowform is to heal someone, so this makes sense. If you do it this way instead of the reverse, you never have to remember to manually switch outfits. Just set it and forget it.

Once you get the hang of it ...

Use Mind Control liberally when you can find mobs that heal. It's better to keep them from healing other mobs and use their mana than to use your own. Yes, you will die a few times trying to get it right.

Bind your trinkets to your heals with macros.

You've probably already done it for your Shadow spells, but it's worth it to do it for healing, as well. Just be careful -- extra healing means extra threat. Personally, I bind mine to Flash Heal -- if the situation is desperate enough that I need to use Flash Heal, I'm probably not worried about threat. And the trinket will last long enough for the Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing that I'm about to throw down after the Flash.

Pop your Shadowfiend early (half mana) on boss fights.

I tend to forget about SF when I'm healing, and damage tends to get heavier the further you get into the fight.

Get a trinket that reduces aggro.

Fade is all fine and good, but the cooldown is killer (and most agree that ImpFade isn't worth it). I have the Hypnotist's Watch and it has saved me more than a few times when my Fade was still on cooldown.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Post-70 Quest/Storyline Progression

Ah, attunement. What an interesting concept. It is the hurdle you must jump over to get to where you want to go. Some people love it, some hate it.

No matter which side you are on, attunement arguably serves a purpose when done correctly. How many times have you been in a group that wiped over and over again, even though everyone seemed to be doing their best? In the end, did it come down to the group just being undergeared? That's what attunement is there for: it's an attempt to make sure you're ready to tackle what is ahead of you. But, attunement can also be done incorrectly. In WoW, I disagree vehemently with most rep-based attunement. No one enjoys grinding for rep.

Quest-based attunement, however, is good stuff. You get to see a bit more of the world around you. You get a bit more of the lore. You generally feel like you are participating in the game instead of just grinding or PUGging.

Here we are, with 2.4.2 being the current patch as of this post, and almost every single attunement has been removed from the game. You can now go pretty much wherever you want to go. Is that a good thing? Eh. Maybe, maybe not.

But having said all of that, what if you want to experience that part of the game? What if you want some of the lore? What if you want the game to be more than just logging in and joining /lfg?

Well then, may I humbly submit the following for your consideration?

That chart contains every quest that pertains to post-70 content. It is not an attunement chart, as there are no more attunements. It is, however, a rough guide to seeing all of the post-70 instances efficiently and completely. If you want one of the existing titles ("Hand of A'dal", "Champion of the Naaru", or "of the Shattered Sun") you will still need to do the quests for it, which is the other purpose for this chart.

Key quests are marked. Even if you don't actually need the key but would like one for your keyring anyway, you can see how to get it.

There are other charts that perform a similar function, but I wanted quest names in mine so that I could easily look something up on WowWiki or Thottbot. I also organized mine so that you should logically progress from left to right, top to bottom.

Thoughts? Comments?


Hey there.

Basic information: Apanthrope. Shadow Priest. Bleeding Hollow, US, PvP.

While I have no problem calling myself a SPriest-n00b, I am not a MMO-n00b. I've led guilds in other games, done the endgame burnout thing, played on test servers, etc, etc, etc. But now I'm digging my SPriest. I'm not the best of the best, but I have fun every time I log on.

There are a number of SPriest blogs. Most of them are quite good, so I hope I can pull my weight. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the SPriest blogs are directed more toward late-game content -- more T4-T6 level, or PvP. My goal here will be something a bit earlier than that, more in line with early post-70. When I hit 70 I stopped and had a "what do I do now?" moment, so maybe I can provide some direction to other SPriests in the same boat.

I'm using Blogger for this because there's a distinction between my personal life, my professional life, and my gaming. I can't imagine it would be hard to find my other blogs, but this one is dedicated to WoW.

The next few posts will be reprints of some of my longer message board postings. I will get to original content eventually, I swear.