Saturday, 28 May 2011

4.2 PTR - Alysrazor Testing and New Mastery Power Aura

I'd hoped to have a fair few more raid previews from the PTR, but a mixture of bugged encounters, rescheduled testing, and just fellow raiders having issues getting onto the PTR (and staying connected), the only real preview of interest is a look at Alysrazor.

For those of you who quested in Hyjal, you may remember the Green Dragon Alysra - we deliver the prisoner Arch Druid Staghelm to her (which apparently seems to have been a bad idea). It seems she has joined the ranks of Ragnaros along with Staghelm (who we will also face in Firelands).

The fight itself is quite fun. She drops molten feathers which players can pick up, increasing their movement speed and allowing them to cast while moving. If you pick up three, you'll gain Wings of Flame and be able to fly up into the air. There are fiery rings to pass through while in the air which give you a haste buff and allow you to stay in the air.

Meanwhile there are adds to deal with on the ground, so any DPS not chasing her in the air can assist on those. There are humanoid adds which cast brushfires, basically balls of moving flame, so killing those adds keeps the ground from becoming covered with fire. There are also two Hatchling adds which the tanks have to manage. Lava worms spawn out of the ground and you kite the hatchlings to the worms to feed them to prevent them from gaining a damage buff.

Our bear tank, Reesi (of The Inconspicuous Bear), frapsed our 10 man kill, so you can get a glimpse of the fight here!

I'll leave the preview at that as I expect there'll still be a lot more tuning and adjusting to the fight. The 10m version felt a bit undertuned so it will likely in the very least be buffed some.

New Resto Mastery

The new Resto mastery (Harmony: Increases direct healing by 10% and your direct healing spells grant you a 10% bonus to your periodic healing for 10 sec. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%.) has been implemented on the PTR, and it does indeed proc a buff on you. This will help immensely in keeping track of the Mastery and ensuring we maintain good uptime on it.

I do feel the actual time of it could be increased. A 15 second duration would be nice, however, that may seem a bit too easy for Blizz to want to implement, as it could easily be refreshed by simply Swiftmending on cooldown, which could quickly become a mindless auto-cast without any real thought. This is obviously trying to encourage our direct heals along with our HoTs, which is good. The 10 second duration should be very maintainable in 5mans and likely 10mans, where there's plenty of direct healing going on along with raid healing. In 25s I could see this being a bit trickier, particularly for those druids who are focussed primarily on raid healing rather than necessarily tank healing. If refreshing the Mastery with a Nourish or Healing Touch, that's essentially 2-3 seconds of the buff spent simply refreshing it. You could arguably refresh with a faster Regrowth, particularly if you have an OoC proc, but that seems like it might just encourage poor and random Regrowth use.

A 12 second duration for the buff seems like it may be a good balance. Not too long that it could be so easily refreshed by just spamming Swiftmend, but long enough that you don't feel your constantly having to refresh it.

Regardless, having a means to track the buff will be essential for keeping good uptime on it. Power Auras Classic is great for this, and I've made a Power Aura (which you can edit to your liking) to track the buff. Keep in mind, this only works on the PTR for the moment, as the new Mastery won't be live until 4.2.

The import code is this:

Version:4.19; b:0.0549; g:0.4863; icon:Spell_Nature_HealingWay; buffname:Harmony; r:0.1843; x:-85; customname:Harmony; texture:23; alpha:1; inVehicle:0; wowtex:true; combat:true; size:0.25; y:-160; ismounted:0; timer.b:0.9294; timer.h:2; timer.Texture:WhiteRabbit; timer.enabled:true; timer.r:0.9882; timer.cents:false; timer.Relative:CENTER; timer.UseOwnColor:true

The Aura itself looks like this (seen with my full Resto power aura setup):

The Harmony aura is the leaf on the left hand side with the timer - this way you can see the buff is active and also how much time is remaining on it so you can refresh it as needed.

My full set of Resto power aura codes are available in my post here: My User Interface / Addons.

Enjoy! :D

Friday, 13 May 2011

4.2 Mastery change, Innervate nerf, and PTR Raid Testing

Patch 4.2 is under testing on the PTR and the news keeps rolling in! While everything is still very much subject to change, there are some interesting changes slated for Druids already, including a new Mastery for Resto and a very significant change to how Innervate works. We've also had two of the new Firelands bosses up for testing and I've got some cool screenshots of those as well! As you can see in my screenshot above, the new Firelands zone looks awesome. That shot is actually taken inside the instance - it's a massive zone, and you can mount up to ride to each boss.

New Resto Mastery
There was a recent blue post with 4.2 patch notes which included this gem:

'Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.'

This is looking like a really great change, so hopefully it'll make it through testing to live. The old / current Mastery has some issues; though it's not too bad, it's much stronger in 5- and 10-mans, where HoTs can more easily line up with other heals. Probably the most frequent question I get is 'Should I be putting Rejuvs on my Wild Growth targets to activate the Mastery?', which really shouldn't be done unnecessarily (ie, on targets that don't need all that healing), so it likely ends up just encouraging spamming.

The new Mastery not only will boost our direct heals and encourage more direct healing, it's also a great boost to our direct heals and hence our tank healing as well as our raid healing. The mastery will proc off of Swiftmend too, so even if you're focussing on raid healing, you'll still be gaining the Mastery through your Swiftmends.

By the sound of it, it seems like it may proc a buff (increases periodic healing for 10 seconds), which would be nice if an actual buff comes up as that can be easily tracked with something like a Power Aura to make sure we maintain it, but we'll have to see. Either way, a very positive change!

Innervate changes
The Innervate changes slated for 4.2 so far are mostly nerfing Innervate's effect for OTHER healers. The effect when used on oneself will be the same - a 20% mana return. The change is when we cast our Innervate on someone else, it will now cause them to regenerate 5% of THEIR maximum mana.

Innervate: now causes the target to regenerate 5% of their maximum mana over 10 sec. Still regenerates 20% of maximum mana on self cast.

So this is basically just a nerf to Innervate trading. The Glyph of Innervate will be unchanged - if we cast it on someone else, we'll still receive half of our own Innervate (so 10%), but the other person will only get the 5% of their maximum mana rather than our 20%. If this change goes live, Innervate trading will basically be worthless as a mana strategy. It's still certainly viable for helping other healers when they're in need of mana, but trading the Innervates around won't be anywhere near as powerful as it is currently.

This is a slight buff to Feral innervates, though, as the Innervate on someone else will amount to 5% of the target's maximum mana (assuming that it is based on the target's maximum mana, which it appears to be), so Feral innervates will be slightly more useful now.

PTR Testing!
I've been hopping on the PTR for some of the raid testing. The new Firelands zone looks awesome inside - it's a massive space and it just looks great. We've tried out two of the bosses so far, Beth'tilac the spider boss and Lord Rhyolith. I won't go into too much detail on the fights yet, particularly as they're still subject to changing and tuning, but this should whet the tastebuds!

This is Beth'tilac. The fight itself looks like it will be pretty interesting, though it may be yet another fight that's bad for melee (and Rhyolith seemed bad for melee too, to be honest). The fight itself was ridiculously overtuned (mostly in Phase 2, where outgoing damage was ridiculous). The boss itself retreats up on top of her web when you engage. Some of the adds you deal with lower themselves down on webs, and you kill them to get a web vehicle which will transport raid members up on top of the web to engage the boss. Fortunately the web area is a normal platform - when I first heard about going into the webs in the Blizzard previews, I had a sudden fear that we'd be hanging upside down or something ridiculous. The upper web area though is a normal, fairly flat surface, though, so there aren't any weird swimming mechanics or camera angle quirks to it, which is great.

This is Lord Rhyolith. This will be a fight that ultimately requires a lot of coordination. He doesn't have a threat table (tanks will be busy rounding up adds), instead you attack his Left or Right Foot. DPSing either foot will cause him to turn in that direction, so you steer him around the area by DPSing the Left or Right foot, whichever way you want him to turn. He starts with an 80 stack of armour, which reduces his damage taken by 80%, so you have to steer him over volcanoes to melt the armour off and increase his damage taken. It looked like both feet share a healthpool, and supposedly his body will not be targetable (or at least not damageable) when this goes live - we were able to target it on the PTR, but it was obviously unnecessary to do so.

I'll leave it at that for now! As there may not be many screenshots of these bosses and Firelands things around yet, people are welcome to use my screenshots, but I ask that if you do so please link back to the blog for crediting. :)