Monday, 20 September 2010

Healing in Cata and Screenshots from the PTR

Some interesting news updates recently, as well as some screenshots from the PTR!

Let's start with news:

The most recent post on MMO-Champ has some interesting blue posts and also gives us our first glimpse at the druid tier11 set. I actually think it looks pretty cool; I like the wings on the spaulders.

There's also a very interesting post from Ghostcrawler about healing in Cataclysm. You can read the full post on healing here, I do recommend reading it. It gives me some mixed feelings so far on what Cata healing will be like. I already use all my spells while healing so, at least according to GC, I shouldn't notice a huge change in how I heal (disregarding actual spell changes). The spell changes themselves will take some getting used to, and will also take some adapting as we level up and then hit level 85. I have been poking around on the PTR, but it's a bit hard to judge there as, certainly for heroics, a) I still outgear the content (and have had zero mana issues with this in mind), b) Tanks are readjusting as well, so stray adds cause a bit more issue than they otherwise might, c) Bosses and mobs may also be out of tune. Lisanna over at Restokin had an interesting post recently with actual numbers of spells used in one of the Cataclysm dungeons, healing Halls of Origination. This gave me some hope for both the variety of spells used and also in that they seem to reflect what Blizz/GC have said they were aiming for.

Patch 4.0 I think will cause all sorts of craziness both as everyone relearns a lot of the changes that have come in, and also as nothing will really be balanced for level 80. That I think is the biggest issue I'm having on the PTR at the moment trying things out, is that it's hard to really see the end-game from level 80 with the new trees and also with the Wrath style dungeons.

There was also a recent beta patch build with lots of changes for the Balance tree, one of which is not a great talent for Resto druids - Nature's Grace (which before provided x% haste) is now Nature's Torment, which provides a haste buff following a Moonfire or Insect Swarm cast. Clearly aimed at Balance (unless Blizz is looking down the road for us to use more Moonfires while healing, but I don't think so). This is particularly frustrating as it only leaves Nature's Majesty as a desirable tier1 talent for resto druids and leaves us with 3 wasted points in Balance as we try to get to Genesis (+healing for HoTs and Swiftmend) and Moonglow (reduced mana cost). BUT, I can see a potential good change, if Nature's Torment were to be swapped to Tier2 with either Genesis or Moonglow. That would give us much more valuable points to spend to reach the other in tier2, and would also likely free up a couple of points to max out the new replenishment form of Lifebloom. That change would actually be great, so I do hope a tier swap is imminent.

As I mentioned earlier, the PTR has been a little bit wonky for testing out new spells. It doesn't help as well that I am without my beloved Vuhdo. I must give Blizz some credit for their new raid UI, as the healing bars they have now are much improved. The new Blizz UI combined with mouseover macros is quite effective (and will definitely be great for newer healers, especially while leveling and doing low-level dungeons). I'll be happiest though when it's all on live and my Vuhdo is updated just to help make adapting to the new spells a little bit more comfortable.

Hasted and critting HoTs are definitely nice. Nourish cast time feels a bit slow to me, even with the cast time reduction talent and haste, so I'm hoping there may be some change there, but again this may feel very different at 85. The Efflorescence proc is fun (and Regrowth crits fairly often it seems like so it procs a lot), though I think people are wary of standing in the glowy green voidzones it creates. I do like the leaves that fly upward in it, but the green zone does look potentially dangerous rather than helpful.

The screenshot above is with a few Efflorescence zones stacked up.

One nice thing is Regrowths become instant-cast when you go into tree-form, which can both be useful for some bigger heals + HoT effect (Efflorescence or the Regrowth HoT) while on the move. It also can result in some pretty designs as you run about popping Regrowths.

As you can see, currently our new cooldown-based tree form still uses the Wrath model, which is nice to get a glimpse still of our tree form. I think they had plans to update the model, but I imagine that may come with a later Cataclysm patch at this point. I'm still hopeful for a minor glyph to keep the appearance of this tree form (perhaps when a new model is implemented for the cooldown), but nothing has been introduced as yet, so I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

As you had a glimpse of above, the new Blizz UI frames are much improved.

Here you can see the new frames a lot better. You can select whether you want to show health numbers or percentages, whether you want to show power bars (ie mana, energy), whether you prefer to have green bars for health or class colours, etc. It can show incoming heals and a little bit of overheals. You can adjust the height and width of the bars and move them around. It will also show debuffs and buffs and your HoTs. All in all pretty decent and much improved on the old UI. I will still use addons (Vuhdo for as long as its available) and I expect most end-game raiders will likely progress to addons, but this is definitely a big step forward for Blizz and will be of great help to many.

In this screenshot you can also see the new Power Aura-style graphics for spell procs. That graphic is for Omen of Clarity, which has also been revamped somewhat - it is now passive and grants either a free feral ability or a cast-time spell. Not certain yet if there's a way to turn those off (I haven't checked) in case Power Auras or another addon is preferred for you. I think I'll likely keep those on for things like OoC but probably continue to use Power Auras for other spell notifications or cooldowns.

You can also see the new beginner tooltips they've implemented, which give a bit more detail and advice on spells. ('Be sure to use the benefit of Clearcasting before its duration expires.') You can switch these off in the Interface options.

The other UI updates are pretty nice, things like the mounts and pets pages are much improved.

There seem to be a lot of little changes like that coming in, which is great! There are similar new styles for the professions, though when I last logged on to the PTR my toons professions were still all not working.

The new Glyph UI is great, particularly now that once we learn a glyph it is always in our glyph book, so it can be easily swapped in and out. The only issue on the PTR currently is that it seems difficult to get any new glyphs! With professions broken, it's hard to find a lot of things which you need, and the few that were lucky enough to have working abilities seem to be overpricing them on the AH so far (which is quite odd to me - your toon won't get the gold you make on the PTR, why sell high?).

There seems to be a lot of tuning and number-tweaking left to do on the PTR. Certainly for ferals (and warriors from what I've heard) need damage adjustments as our dps is quite low. Hunters and locks in particular have quite ridiculously high damage at the moment. The background downloader on the Live servers has been up and running, though, and it looks like at least two portions of this patch have already been downloaded, so we can expect to see 4.0 hit live servers soon! I'm guess it may be over the next one to three weeks. I've started moving my toons out of Dalaran and setting their hearthstones to places in Storm Peaks so that they don't get stuck desperately trying to log in. I may even start logging out in Shattrath for a quieter spot to relog (incoming 'World Server is down' messages in Northrend).

In other news, I've managed to max out a few more reps before they disappear! I've hit exalted with the Zandalar tribe. I've also hit exalted with the Timbermaw and Thorium Brotherhood, though I think those two factions will be in place in Cata (no promises, though). Need a fair few more passes at Molten Core to finish out my Hydraxian rep though.


Moonra said...

The change to Nature's Grace is actually very nice rather than a dumb 3% passive haste... I love the idea to get a bonus like this in a way that doesn't involve healing. You said that hasted HoT's are nice so the 15% is a nice addition even if it's only for 15secs

See it as a haste pot that doesn't cost any money :)

Imagine the situations where you have to move together with the raid and a few members get hit and lose a large chunk of health, that 15% haste will help you cast HT faster to bring those members to a more 'save' hp percentage. you can easily cast MF or IS while running :).

the biggest joy that I had on the PTR was the dps dying a lot... they started flaming the tank (a guildie of mine) and I quickly responded that they are the reason for overaggroing, and that Wrath spoiled all dps when it comes to aggro management!

I truly love 4.0! Can't wait :D

Feral Tree said...

Hm yeah it is potentially more interesting than a simple passive haste boost. I did prefer the old (live) version of Nature's Grace though, where non-periodic spell crits give you a boost to haste. I think something like that (maybe even allowing hot/dot crits to proc it) would be better than tossing out a moonfire though. I can see it as potentially fun, but at least from a raiding standpoint it doesn't feel too helpful... the occasional moonfire might be ok (and actually helpful on a fight like Princes if you're knocking a Kinetic Bomb), but it's not going to be the difference between a win and a loss, and the GCD is likely better spent on a heal. But, if they do start making more fights where dps from healers is actually useful and part of the fight, maybe the new inception might be useful. We shall see though! We seem to have a new build every few days :D 4.0 will be definitely be fun but the first few days (and even a week or two perhaps!) are going to be pretty crazy, especially from a raiding perspective.

Moonra said...

I would like to add that VuhDo does work (if you have the right version), just google cataclysm beta addons and look for an WoWwiki page with a list of working addons on the Beta... those should work on the PTR as well. I know vuhdo worked on the 4.0.0 version of the PTR (but I'm used to healbot so... :p )

back on topic

I should check IS/MF to see how cheap they are but if there's one of them worth casting while running then I'll deff do so to pick up the lost healing once I can stand still again... every tiny bit 'elps ye! :)