Holy Kneecaps: Levelling a Resto Shaman from 30 to 40.

•July 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Have I got a heal for you!

Somewhat belatedly, I have finally written up the first proper Holy Kneecaps post promised back in May. Sorry for the wait! In this installment we follow my trusty goblin shaman as he heals his way from level 30 to 40 using the dungeon finder, clutching his first three heirlooms for a very welcome 25% experience increase and hitting teammates with totems, wondering why it isn’t healing them.
It’s worth mentioning that I played through the content in this post during May, so all data is based on patch 4.1.

The main thing I noticed, right from my first level 30 dungeon all the way to 40, was that Earth Shield is so bloody powerful it’s unbelievable. In most dungeons it accounted for between 45 and 60% of my healing done, and that’s not including over-healing. Half of all the healing I did was practically passive! It did drop slightly under certain circumstances, for example when the tank ran through the whole instance without stopping to breathe or if the DPS kept taking aggro and needed extra healing, but even in those situations ES was still doing 35-40% of the work for me. I know this won’t last, it’s just the imbalance of spell and stat scaling at lower levels, but the best piece of advice I can give other levelling restoshams is to keep Earth Shield at 100% uptime on the tank. Seriously.

Even with numbers like those though, shamans cannot heal on Earth Shield alone. At least 30% of my healing was done by the staple shaman heal: Healing Wave. In fact, most of the time I wasn’t doing anything except refreshing Earth Shield on the tank and topping everyone off with HWs. In fact, throughout the whole 10 levels I used a grand total of 4 spells (not counting totems): Earth Shield and Healing Wave I already mentioned. On top of those I kept Water Shield up on myself and threw out Healing Surge in emergencies. OK, I admit I might have used Cleanse once but I really didn’t need to, I just had some spare time when very little damage was being taken and a weak little debuff popped up. I could have easily got this far without even knowing what Cleanse is. I’m not sure yet how much Water Shield actually helped my mana regen at this level but it took such little effort to keep it up all the time that not casting it seemed pointless, and I assume it will be important to be in the habit of using it by level 85.

I mentioned Healing Surge and emergencies. There weren’t a lot of those, but when they happened they were certainly memorable! These moments are a good time to learn what you can and cannot do, sustainably, as a healer and since we’re talking level 30-40 here they rarely ended with a wipe unless the tank pulled Mograine in Scarlet Monastery Cathedral without clearing the room first or something equally daft. Yeah, that mistake is still made incredibly often in SM, even 6 years on. I’m not sure why I was surprised since many people are new players even now, but I went in the first time genuinely expecting everyone to be aware of the mechanic. Oops!

Having played an enhancement shaman a few years back I had it in my head that totems would be unwieldy, inefficient and frustrating. However I actually found them simple and cheap to place at the start of each and every fight. Obviously the spells to summon and recall a full set of four totems help with that but the other critical factor in their ease of use is that the mana costs are almost nothing. Within a few runs I was already in the habit of sticking them down and recalling them every fight (the recall is the most important part to remember; nobody likes it when an abandoned totem pulls a patrol). The exceptions, of course, were the runs where the tank sped through as if finishing the whole dungeon in 30 seconds flat would make them instantly ding to level 85. I tried to keep up my totemic routine the first couple of times I was in runs like that, but I quickly learned it was pointless unless it was a boss fight, the only time the group stayed still long enough.

In short, these low-level dungeons are a nice, easy way to get to grips with healing before it gets more complicated later on. Having tried to jump into healing at level 85 as a priest, I definitely found that learning the role as you level a character up is a much better way to get the hang of the role. Starting at endgame isn’t too bad, but there’s much more pressure and many more spells to learn about all at once.

Feedback is very much encouraged, be it from shamans who already know what they’re doing, newbies at my own skill level or whoever else has an opinion. Use that comment box, folks!

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet but Rocket Jump is the most fun racial ability in the game. *BANG* “Wheeeeeeeeee!” *maniacal giggling*


Just a game?

•July 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

As this is a gaming blog, and more specificaly a blog mostly about WoW, I’m sure most of you have heard those four infamous words before: “It’s just a game.” For a lot of individual titles I’d even say it’s true, but the MMORPG genre is the most notable example of how a game can become much more than that. Azeroth is not just a series of linear chapters through which you must advance to ‘complete’ WoW, it’s a living, breathing world in which real people come together, perform fully-animated social interactions and form little virtual sub-lives. The degree to which this is healthy and acceptable is discussion enough for a whole series of posts, but the fact that it is true is simple and undeniable.

Surely this is MMO 101 though? Something all new MMO players learn early on? It is, and it’s something I’ve known for years now. However I was inspired to write this post while hovering around in Stormwind this morning (well, since it’s 3am now I suppose it was yesterday morning) when the real world broke into Azeroth in a much more touching and genuine fashion than usual.

If you’re not aware, there were two tragedies in Norway on Friday; a bomb in Oslo and a killing spree at a youth camp. When I last checked, the combined casualty count was 92. I know a number of people with family or friends in Norway, so I was well aware of the real-world reactions and emotions which followed. What I completely forgot however, is that there is a large population of northern Europeans on my WoW realm, including Norwegians, so the reactions in-game were surprisingly similar and genuinely heartfelt. A few people gathered in Stormwind Cathedral, and I couldn’t tell you what was in the minds of the other individuals around me; mourning, prayer or quiet contemplation, but we gathered as many people do in real-life spiritual hubs during such times, and even though the two people next to me were actually in Norway, others were in different European countries and I was sat here in England, it genuinely felt like we were all together in one place as people, not characters or pixels.

A real moment of emotion in a fake world.

I’m sure there are people, some of whom even play MMORPGs themselves, who would call such in-game displays of real-life emotion a step too far in the direction of having no life, or trivialising a real tragedy. As you can tell from this post, I found it to be a poignant reminder of the nature of this world we ‘play’ in and its strong ties to the real world. Many people don’t just log onto WoW to run instances, fight in battlegrounds or complete quests; they also come to Azeroth to socialise, to relax and, to a limited extent, to live.

Ultimately I wanted to share this simply because I thought it was a beautiful moment, although one built on sadness. Please do share your own thoughts in the comments.

Holy Kneecaps: The Healing Lowdown

•May 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Holy kneecaps Batman, a healing gnome!”

I’ve played World of Warcraft for a very long time, but in all those years I can say with some confidence that more than 99.99% (repeating, of course) of my time in the game has been as a DPSer. Sure, I dabbled in tanking and healing for a handful of dungeon runs in Wrath, but I probably only spent a few hours on all of those put together which, when held up against the couple of hundred days /played time I’ve logged overall, doesn’t really count for much. Since then however, Cataclysm has reshaped not only Azeroth but the way we play in it. Thanks to the Shattering not only am I having loads of fun leveling a tank but I’m also loving healing on a brand new goblin shaman and a level 85 gnome priest.

And lo, was the idea for Holy Kneecaps born, and there was much rejoicing! For what better way is there to learn from my early healing experiences than to plaster them over the internet for everyone to see, laugh at and mock me for? I can surely think of none. My hope is not only to get feedback for myself, but simultaneously to help any other fledgling healers who may face similar issues, and to entertain veteran medics of Azeroth with my inexperienced flailings and panicked cries of “OH MY GOD! WHY ARE YOU DYING? PLEASE STOP DOING THAT! ARGH! WHY AM I HITTING YOU WITH A CUCUMBER? THAT’S NOT HELPING AT ALL!!”
So something for everyone, as you can see.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the healing. We start our adventures in Healerland with a couple of things:
1x level 30 goblin resto shaman, heavily heirloomed.
1x level 85 gnome holy priest, average ilvl of 339.
1x ilvl 1,000 [Mug of Tea], to be equipped in Main Hand whenever out of combat and refilled immediately if it reaches zero charges.

At first the Holy Kneecaps posts will follow the leveling of my shaman as I gradually pick up the different spells and talents I’ll be using to keep people alive, and comparing that to the somewhat different experience of picking up the level 85 priest and trying to learn it all at once. Maybe one day I’ll even know what I’m talking about when it comes to healing, and this section of Caelcraft will start to resemble those proper healing posts written by real healer bloggers. A gnome can dream, right?

For now though, welcome to Holy Kneecaps

Readers enter Holy Kneecaps at their own risk. Caelcraft takes no responsibility for any injuries, disfigurements or deaths inflicted as a result of the healing process.

PS. How many of you instinctively hovered over that legendary mug of tea to see the tooltip? Be honest now!

Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview 2!

•February 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Friends, gnomans, countrymen, lend me your screens…

Welcome back to Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview! I’m a bit later than I planned with the second half of this epic review, and for that I can only apologise. In my defense, a certain superhero MMO launched recently, and as a massive, lifelong comicbook nerd I had no choice but to play it… a lot. More on that some other time, perhaps.

So, after levelling to 85 and finishing the awesome storylines in the new zones of Cataclysm a whole new world lies before you just begging to be discovered, explored and pillaged for its many treasures. Whether it’s epic loot, gathering materials, gold or pure lore you’re after, the new Azeroth has plenty of it in every corner. So where the hell do you start?

Continue reading ‘Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview 2!’

Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview!

•January 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“Look at your main, now back to me… I’m on a seahorse!”

For those who might have been wondering, I haven’t quite become a ‘One Post Wonder’. My intention is still to build up this site into a proper, active blog, I just haven’t been able to spend a lot of time playing any computer games over the last few weeks since I ventured back home for the holidays and left my huge, impossible-to-transport-by-train gaming PC on campus on the other side of England. No fun! Still, I have managed to steal a few hours on family members’ computers, so Cataclysm hasn’t escaped me completely. I’ve even managed a few heroics on my little warlock, which was fun… and frantic… but mostly fun!

Anyway, in a few days I’ll be back at my own PC playing the crap out of WoW, and even now I feel I have enough experience with it to start putting together… drum roll please… Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic CreviewIgnoring Correct Spelling For Alliterative Purposes Since 2011! I’m splitting it into two parts, firstly for readability and secondly because I haven’t finished it all just yet. Let’s try not to focus on that last part though. Without further ado, I bring you part one: first impressions and questing from 80 to 85.

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“Prepare yourselves, the bells have tolled!”

•December 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s finally here. After what feels like endless waiting and anticipation, Cataclysm has hit the servers and that means one thing: time to start working through your to-do lists. I know you all have one, even if it’s just a couple of things you’ve planned in your head, and even if you’re delaying your purchase of the expansion until exams/work/other such annoyances are out of the way – you still have some form of to-do list, right? Are you the one-character player who has a single character waiting to be leveled or will you be splitting your time between multiple alts? Will your first steps into new territory be taken in Hyjal and Vashj’ir or will you begin a brand new adventure in the Lost Isles or Gilneas? They say that the way you spend your first few hours in Cataclysm say a lot about you as a person… well OK, I don’t think ‘they’ really do say that… but it’s still an interesting topic, right?

So if you’re interested in a little insight into the mind behind Caelcraft, read on to see how I’ll be prioritizing my time in Cataclysm.

Continue reading ‘“Prepare yourselves, the bells have tolled!”’