Well, we thought we had a handle on healers, but our guild ended up being so hard up for one that I got dragged back into the sunlight again. So I’ve been Atone-ing my little elvish ass off and sweating like a software engineer at a mixer party, but not having much time to hit the Island of Mucho Loot (The Elvish name is untranslatable).
So I replaced my iLevel 450 shoulders tonight. And this happened.
Cataclysm. Or, as I like to call it, The Long Hangover.
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If you’re working on Tillers rep, then there will be a time you need Raw Crab Meat. Now, the conventional wisdom of WoWhead is that it drops best from Rockshell Snapclaw, hermit-crab-like humanoids found underwater on a shelf southwest of Soggy’s Bottom.
It’s underwater. If you don’t have a potion you have to surface to breathe from time to time. If you’ve already done a certain quest in the zone, you get your Sea Legs buff, but if you haven’t, you don’t. A bit of a pain, really.
Just northwest of there is another spot, The Briny Muck, in which turtles, crabs, some Sauroks, and some big elementals hang out. The crabs are of interest, as they have almost as high a drop rate as the previously mentioned Snapclaws, plus there’s a spot you can go to that has a nearly constant supply of them.
In one direction is a crab that spawns pretty much as fast as you kill it. Turn around 180 degrees, and there’s another one that does the same thing. So it’s kill, turn, kill, turn, loot, kill, turn etc.
One of the Sauroks will occasionally aggro on you, and there’s one group that will avoid you as long as you don’t pull them, but aside from that, it’s all gravy.
Here’s a couple of screen grabs to help you situate yourself, complete with piles of bodies to illustrate the incredible spawn rate.
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I recently stated that Disco was an acceptable leveling build, and I stick by that, but one term in the equation that may need tweaking is "acceptable". Disco leveling is kind of like running a marathon wrapped in bubble wrap. You’ll get there, and you won’t take any damage, but you’ll be covered in sweat and it’ll be next week before you’re done. If that’s acceptable then you’re in for a lot of single-spec goodness in your life.
Unfortunately, I fear this is holding up the guild’s ability to consistently field a team for Heroics, so I switched to Shadow to level up faster. It, too, is acceptable for a hybrid class’ aspirations, but if you were a fire mage or BM hunter you might feel a bit … hobbled. Never mind that. It’s moved me along a lot faster than I had been moving otherwise.
The funny thing is that some fights are a lot easier if I switch to Disco mode. Shadow isn’t big on mitigation, and mini-bosses often are immune to rooting, fearing, or both. So a build that hits like a truck and heals itself one HP for ever two DP it deals is ideal, albeit slow. That’s fine. The only caveat is the spec switch often takes too long to pounce a rare. Guess I’ll have to be patient.
But let’s talk Disco
For healing, I’m really starting to get a handle on the mechanics of the smite-mode healing approach, and kinda falling in love with it. The biggest problem is mana. In WotLK, I could spam like a Nigerian banker and rarely see the bottom of the mana jar. In MoP, that’s no longer the case, and our mana regen tools have been curtailed as well, so we are driven in a certain direction, and it’s not shield spamming.
There are a few core mechanics at work here.
Direct healing spells, such as Greater Heal and Flash Heal and Renew and Penance all provide us with effective means to top off our target’s hit points, but they offer nothing in the way of regeneration tools on their own. A couple of talents DO link one to another, such as From Darkness Comes Light – this one gives you freebie Flash heals, and I do like this one a LOT for its situational utility. The caveat is that you lose Mindbender and its improved mana regen. So, if you’re having mana management issues, the latter may well help more. You will probably need to try both to gain a sense of where you stand.
In the past, this was our bread and butter. Even in Cata, with the smite-heal mode available, many of us went with the mitigation-heavy rotation, which amounted to a lot of Prayer of Mending and Power Word: Shield spamming. Mana wasn’t a problem, so why the hell not, right?
In MoP, mana’s an issue, so this approach has gone away. Now, PW:S is largely situational, and PoM is more of a supplement than a mainstay. Spirit Shell is a new, welcome addition to the fold, especially if you couple it with Prayer of Healing, but boy oh boy does it eat the manas. Once again, if you spam mitigation all day, you’re going to be OOM well before the final blow.
The infamous "smite heal". This was a largely optional novelty in Cata, though many disco priests made it their mainstay quite effectively.
Here’s the thing. A lot of people will view smite-healing as still a novelty, a vain effort to give priests something to do in the gaps, even though they’d never crack the top half of the DPS charts.
But, people, that’s not even the point of this mechanic.
Once you crack open the hood, you’ll find a very sophisticated yet straightforward engine driving not the build per se, but, I argue, the very soul of the Disco healing machine.
First, what is smite-healing?
This mechanic forms the backbone of an indirect group healing approach. The three core spells to this mechanic all provide a 100% return on the damage generated. In other words, if I damage an enemy for 1000 points, I will generate 1000 points of healing – unless the healee is myself, in which case it’s 50% return. But still. That’s the other thing. The healee in question will be the lowest-health friendly within 15 yards of the damage target. This is done via a specialization called Atonement. Holy Fire, Smite, and Penance generate what is effectively an AoE heal.
Now the hard part.
In the past, Archangel would generate mana when you used it to consume your Evangelism stacks, but now it only increases healing. So, if you pop your wings, better get another stack started up to help with the mana mitigation.
But here’s the neat part.
Regardless of your Evangelism stacks and Archangel usage, that indirect healing component of Atonement is still there! So you don’t have to be as fussy with those two spells as you might have in the past.
At the (what is now) final tier, we have three very powerful and very Disco-ish talents: Cascade, Divine Star, and Halo. All of these have AoE-ish effects as well, and all do damage and healing. All have a cooldown of 40 seconds or less, so you’ll be using them a lot. At the moment I am prone towards Cascade simply because it is less fussy about positioning. We’ve got enough worries.
Strategy and Tactics
We have an immense toolbox to work with, and even though you might feel you know how to use it based on experience, I assure you that Blizz done changed da game on us.
As with everybody else in the world, we have no rotation to fiddle with, but we do have a priority queue of sorts, especially given the 20-second cooldown of Evangelism. This then is my juggling act.
- If I have five stacks of Evangelism and time to generate a stack afterward, pop Wings.
- PW: Shield on my main target, usually the main tank (or OT if they swapped).
- Keep Prayer of Mending up on all the times. If it is glyphed then the first person that gets healed by it gets extra healing (but you get one less hop); this may or may not be desirable, but given its cooldown it’s often worth it if you’re on the MT.
- For low to moderate healing on someone: Holy Fire, Smite, or Penance on the baddie (e.g. target of my target), depending on what’s off of cooldown. Smite has no cooldown so it’s always available. Otherwise I use one of the other two since they generate more healing.
- Direct healing spells as needed on appropriate targets. If you can get a Borrowed Time proc in prior to Greater Heal, so much the better. For heavy group damage, popping Borrowed Time via PW: Shield then Spirit Shell + Prayer of Healing goes a long way towards saving much bacon. I rarely get those three strung together right, however. I’m not the most dexterous of healers.
On a lot of fights, I have found myself hardly even reaching for the traditional healing tools other than PoM and PW:S – everything else gets smitey-healed.
Toys you don’t get anymore
Here’s the big caveat.
You hardly get any mana regeneration tools. Wings lost that utility, and Rapture’s proc is rather situational, so that effectively leaves you with your shadow pet and Hymn used strategically.
What this means to you is this:
- You can’t fling shields like a fool any more. You have to keep them where they’re needed.
- Consequently, your group has responsibility to stay out of harm’s way. Prima donna DPSes that expect The Shield to get them by will do less DPS by virtue of being on the floor, counting tiles, and complaining that the healer sucks.
- You can’t spam damage spells, either. You must reserve them for when someone needs the heals, or the Evangelism timer is about to blow.
In other words, you must heal with intelligence and moderation. I don’t think this is a problem for most healers, but it might take getting used to if you are, like me, more familiar with the ez mode Disco build of WotLK.
A toy you can have
The hardest part of Atonement healing is the switching between targets to heal and targets to smite. Fortunately, Blizzard has provided us with the facility of macros to help get the job done. A few clever keybinds and you’re off. However, a couple of addons help a lot, as well.
- Grid or VuhDo will put your groups’ unit frames wherever you need them. The default unit frames will allow this as well, just not as elegantly or with as many additional features.
- Clique makes the binding of mouse and keystrokes to abilities, spells, and other effects a lot easier. You an do this with the default interface as well, but Clique just makes it a lot easier.
The macro I use for smitey-heals looks like this.
/castsequence [@mouseovertarget] reset=10 Holy Fire, Penance, Smite, Smite, Smite
The first line just changes the tooltip icon, I chose Smite because reasons.
The second line overcomes cooldown and timer issues in a few ways.
/castsequence dictates that the spells will be cast in the sequence that they are given, so you don’t waste time with spells that are still in cooldown.
reset=10 resets this sequence after ten seconds. Why? Because that is the cooldown of Holy Fire, which gives us the best bang for the buck. Since Penance has the same cooldown, this means that if you only hit one ever five seconds, you’ll never hit Smite, which is by far our weakest component.
However, thanks to the sequence, we don’t have to fixate on timers, thus freeing us up on what to do with our spells instead.
[@mouseovertarget] directs the damage to the target of the unit that you have the mouse pointer hovering over. So if you’re hovering over your tank in Grid, his target will be selected and damaged. Hover over a DPSer, and that player’s target will be smote instead.
Put this into a macro or into Clique, assign it to a key or mouse button, and you’re ready to go!
I am no Matticus or Derveka; truth told, I’m not even level 90. This is based solely on careful observations taken during instance healing, test dummy runs, and a lot of questing. It works for me, up to this point, but I may be kicking Disco to the curb at any given moment if I find it doesn’t work for me. Thus far, I’m seeing nothing to say it won’t.
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Posted by Jasra in Priest
Back in the BC days, the idea of a viable Holy or Disco DPS build was teased at by Blizz, and many of us spent countless hours trying to suss out what that build might BE. We never found it, and I think I’m guessing rightly that there never was one. The best any of us could come up with was some sort of Holy hybrid build that allowed us to muddle through leveling and still do halfway decent heals in normal dungeons.
When the dual spec feature was implemented, that whole concept kind of lost its attraction. We all dual-specced and went Shadow for leveling. Cata killed it completely by locking us in to one spec until max levels, and, of course, MoP has buried it by removing the concept of talent specs completely.
In a way, we’re all hybrids now, as much as anybody is a hybrid, if you take my meaning.
But an odd thing happened in MoP. Disco DPS became … a thing.
Back the truck up
I’m not going to say or even imply that Disco DPS holds a candle to a true DPS class. It’s not even close. But what I will say is that some Disco skills hit harder than expected.
We noticed this when my alter-ego Jazreal was dashing around the landscape with his low-level friends. Since questing in Kalimdor is pretty laughable these days, there isn’t much healing needed, so out of boredom one day he fired off a Penance on some mob. And it fell over. Dead. Kaput. Crispy-fried, Disco-style.
He had discovered that Penance hit like a truck when used for DPS.
Nobody here’s sure, but it appears that this ramping up of Holy Fire, Smite, and Penance’s damage output is a direct consequence of the smite-healy healing style being adopted as the One True Way of Disco Healing According to Blizzard. How do we know this? Well, we don’t know. But we guess, and that is based on how smite-healing heals group members for a value based on the damage done with those three spells. Aaaand, if they’re wimpy, the heals will be, too.
In Cata, this wasn’t a problem because the Evangelism stacks gained were the goal of smite-heals, to regain mana and buff healing in general. Take the mana return away, and suddenly this becomes a much less attractive choice to healers. I have a feeling Disco was in danger of being spec non grata if they hadn’t done something about it. Thus, the group healing effect, and its improved effectiveness, puts a new coat of paint on our favorite set of wheels, and makes it attractive to us.
Non-healy side effects
The big side effect of this is that, suddenly, we have a viable questing / leveling spec on our hands. Oh, certainly, it takes a bit longer than a BM hunter blowing all his cooldowns at once. In fact, it’s like sawing through your opponent with a butter knife. But the thing is, it’s not a struggle, and it’s an extremely survivable leveling spec, too.
As an example, last night I ran into Morgrinn Crackfang in the Jade Forest, an NPC that even gives pure DPS problems. And the fight took, I don’t know, five minutes or so. But I never dropped below 80% health, and his went down steadily. In the end, Disco won the day. Disco! And I didn’t even have to heal myself. The damage I did WAS my healing.
In the back of my mind, I could hear BRK swearing about how Disco priests were "like cockroaches" when he was playing PvP. That’s kind of how I feel about myself now. Short of a nuclear bomb, it’s hard to kill a Disco priest – and don’t bet on the nuke.
By the way? Neither Fangcracker Battlemace or Leggings of Forgotten War – both which dropped – are suitable reward for a Disco priest, Blizz. I am le disappoint.
Side note: the addition of Void Tendrils as a talent really, really screams "all specs are DPS specs" to me. You use this to root your target, back off, and smite face until it is dead. Healy specs don’t need root spells. DPS specs do. If you’re a healer and you have something in your face, you need to run to the tank and get it off you.
There is one slight problem with this approach. Most, if not all, of my keybound action bars have healy spells. Fortunately, the use of a good addon will help. I use Dominos for my action bars. I have set up the first row of keys (the keybound ones) so that if I hold down shift and scroll, it shows a DPS-based action bar instead. I’m pretty sure this is possible with other action bar addons, as well.
An alternative would be to have two Disco specs with different action bar layouts. But this is so much easier.
But, truly, this is a good thing
Now, I can’t say for sure this little buzz of mine will carry through to the final zones of the continent, but for the time being, I am truly content to healy-smite my way through Pandaria. By not having to faff about with Shadow spec, I don’t have to concern myself with duplicate armor, etc, nor do I have to remember to switch to the right spec when turning in quests.
The one disadvantage to this, besides the glacial speed of progression, is that if you truly do plan to dual-spec with Shadow, you won’t pick up as much useful shadow gear. But if Disco is going to be your primary, that should not be a concern.
I’m hoping that this is "working as intended" and we don’t see a giant nerf to the damage output of Disco priests. I can easily see them decoupling the direct link between DPS and heals and putting in a multiplier for heals so that x amount of damage got 3x amount of healing, or something like that.
I would not be happy with that, not because of the inconvenience, but because if they truly want to make choices significant, the choice to play as Disco needs to mean more than "I spec disco in instances, but I spend the rest of my life in Shadowform."
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She woke up alone, as was often the case. The early morning sounds of Dalaran wafted through the open window. Not what it used to be, she thought. Dalaran after the Cataclysm was much quieter, even restful for the weary souls left in the wake of Arthas’ demise. Even the air seemed more invigorating than it was elsewhere in Northrend.
When she sat up, she noticed a rose on the pillow next to hers. The stem was wrapped in a bit of parchment, and the parchment in turn wrapped with a red ribbon. Smiling, she untied the ribbon and read the note therein.
Today’s your first day back on the job! No matter what, we’re all very proud of you!
First day back. Right. Oh, bother.
Rubbing her eyes blearily, she set about getting ready for the day ahead. Checking her lists, and making sure her things were packed right. Every bit of gear gemmed just so, enchanted correctly, reforged, in what the Sisters at the Temple assured her, with the latest configuration for a successful Discipline priest.
On her dresser was another letter. For what seemed like the thousandth time, she picked it up. It had arrived three days ago, and her life had Officially Been Turned Upside-Down as a result.
The time has come, lass; we need you. I’m not sure what is going on in this new place that the Navy has found, but we know the Horde’s on the move after they destroyed Theramore, and this is likely the next place they’ll be poking around. The Alliance needs all the good healers it can muster, so I have to ask; will you lend a hand?
I wish I could let you stay where you are for the duration without even asking; you earned your "retirement" in Icecrown. And even if you choose not to come, I won’t argue; it’s your decision.
However, should you decide to return to "active duty", see Sky Admiral Rogers in Stormwind. I’ve put a good word in for you, so she’ll be watching out for your arrival. I think you’ll like her. She reminds me of Flora, but with more angries.
I have to close now; the Skyfire’s leaving within the hour. I’ll be scouting ahead to see what’s what. Hopefully we’ll get together in some agreeable tavern in this place called "Panderia".
Your favorite uncle,
Well, if it was him asking, she wasn’t going to let him down.
She had left but she always found herself coming back here. The years after Arthas’ fall had been spent here with the Azuregazes at the Legerdemain, doing such exciting things as making beds, preparing cheese platters, and serving wine to guests that had no idea that their serving wench had once stood before Arthas’ most terrifying creations without flinching.
It was blissfully, quietly, wonderfully, uneventful.
Evenings were spent with Arille and Amisi, in a warmth that had nothing to do with hearths and everything to do with how her heart spoke to her.
Grimmtooth and his clan would always be her "family", and just a word from any of them would bring her to their side. As near as made no difference, even if not of her blood, they might as well have been.
But Amisi and Arille had found a way into her heart that was unlike anything she had felt before. Her family "of choice", then?
And now she had to leave one family to help the other.
Properly dressed and packed, she drifted down to the common room of the inn for breakfast. Arille grinned and waggled a hand at her as she took her accustomed table. Early morning tasks for him included taking inventory and restocking for the night to come, but he was never too busy to make her feel at home.
Enjoying a light meal of cheese, fruit, and mulled wine, she went over her lists once again. She almost didn’t notice Amisi coming down the stairs. Her smile shone out amid her dusky complexion. "Well, you’re up early."
Jasra smiled back; "You may have snuck off without waking me, but I did notice."
Amisi motioned her up. "Well, let’s have a look at you. After close to two years in retirement, I’m not sure you remember how to dress yourself." Dutifully, the grinning Night Elf stood and bowed. "I stand ready for inspection, madam."
Amisi looked up at her. "Your halo’s on crooked." Jasra’s grin got wider. "This surprises you?" As Amisi reached up to adjust it, Jasra reached out to stop her. "Don’t bother, the thing never sits straight on me anyway." Amisi chuckled. "Well, all right then." She took a seat at Jasra’s table, and Jasra reseated herself.
They traded small talk and ate for a while, then Amisi took on a serious mien. "No matter where you go, you always have this place to come home to. We’ll miss every moment you’re gone. Nothing will be the same without you here. Come back as soon as you can."
"I will. You two are the only reason I can even go out there." Looking around, she realized everything was prepared. "I guess it’s time for me to go, isn’t it?" Amisi’s sad smile was her only answer.
Standing, she hefted her pack and her staff. "I’ll be back as soon as I can. " A quick grin; "Don’t sell my stuff."
As she passed the bar, Arille stepped out to block her path. "You’re not getting out of here without a hug, m’dear." His voice was rough for a change; his hug was warm and welcome, as always. "Don’t embarrass us", he whispered in to her ear, and then ducked back behind the bar, laughing. Nobody ever warned me that Highborn had a such an odd sense of humor.
As she turned, Amisi was waiting. "What he said", as she hugged Jasra. "Come back to us."
Jasra stepped foot outside of the Legerdemain. Looking back, she saw comfort, good friends, and more. Looking forward, uncertainty. Danger. Excitement. She grinned at the Unknown. "Well, let’s get this thing started, shall we?" Calling her favorite flying carpet, she set out of for the portal to Stormwind – and new adventures.
OOC-ly, beware the 4th wall
I’ve been rewriting this for weeks.
In a way, Jasra represents all that soured me on raiding in Wrath; not the events themselves, but an inability to deal with certain things in her environment. Thus, when Cata came out, Jasra gave voice to those feelings. It was months later before Grimm found a home with the Effers, which profoundly changed my outlook and helped me gain a certain perspective. Thus setting the stage, Flora came along and helped advise the Bunnies in some seriously late but fashionable T11 and T12 raiding, and it was good.
To make this possible, the Bunnies’ long-suffering GM set aside her main, a mage, and filled in for Team Heals. Her main, therefore, didn’t see ANY tier gear, and what she had was purchased from endless nights of grinding Heroics. In the end, even she burned out and we pretty much only saw her on our two designated raid nights.
So, guilty feelings, I has some. Even if it’s not justified. But also if it is.
Having mentally mended some fences and resolved to be more a grown-up about some things (seriously interesting concept when you consider my RL age), it was decided that our dear GM should get a chance to shine with her mage once again, and Jas was just going to have to suck it in and start flinging Frisbees again. I think our GM will be happy with Frost’s new idioms, and she, like Illume, has been fond of the Frosty ways, so it’ll be a homecoming for her, of sorts.
It’s just a damned shame that playing Warlocks is so much FUN now. But it’s worth it if it brings a smile to our GM’s face and motivates her to come out and play more often. And I get that she’s reluctant to let go of the priest altogether, so Flora may see some action from time to time after all.
The mood of this piece is one of awakening, of renewal, and of finding one’s place in the world. Jasra had a place in the world, lost it, found a new place in the world, and now she’s going to try to keep both within her grasp. I won’t say exactly what kind of relationship she has with the Azuregazes, as it’s more fun not to know, but it’s a deep connection, and it will be kept alive.
In closing, and totally unrelated: getting the damned Halo to work right in WoW Model Viewer is a gigantic pain in the bottom. It would be a lot easier with true chroma-key software, but one goes to blog with the tools one has, not the tools one wants. In the end, it was just easier to shoop it in manually. Bleah.
And now we hit "publish."
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Ever since I started running instances with the guild again, I’ve been running into a memory problem: I couldn’t remember which binding I had assigned to my dispel set up for in Clique. I’d see error messages like "Invalid target" and wonder what I’d just hit. Then I’d open Clique up after the fight and go "I could swear I hit that combo."
A couple of days ago I realized what my mistake was.
Tooltip for Dispel Magic:
Dispels magic on the enemy target, removing 1 beneficial Magic effect.
Contrast to the older version – the one I was bound to:
Dispels magic on the target, removing 2 harmful spell from a friend or 2 beneficial spell from an enemy.
So Dispel Magic only works on the Bads, then. What replaces it, and Cure Disease?
Digging through the spell book, one sees Purify.
Dispels harmful effects on the target, removing all Magic and Disease effects.
It’s actually two spells in one, making and it isn’t limited in the number of debuffs it’ll remove – it removes all of them. The tradeoff? It’s on an eight-second cooldown now.
So don’t be Derp Priest like me. Square your binds up before things get real.
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Resuming healing after two or so years’ idle time is a scary adventure.
There has been some semi-serious talk of me coming back as the team’s "main" on Alleria and letting our long-suffering GM return to her Mage – especially now that Frost is viable, and she’s a big Frosty-head. Nothing’s written in stone yet, but prior to The Patch, we ran a lot of Heroics to get me back into the groove.
It was utterly terrifying. I haven’t healed in anger for the entire Cataclysm expansion. Most terrifying of all was the mana regen, or lack thereof. It’s hard to get the hang of Smite Healing when that blue bar is the center of your existence. Back in the LK days, I could practically ignore it. Not so much, now.
Jasra 2.0 – code name "Jazreal" – is a young Night Elf priest on another server, rolled to run with some friends, and I’ve gone Disco with him as well. At his level, Smite Heals isn’t yet a thing – hadn’t gotten the talents yet – but the mana issue was still there.
Last night, Jaz made his first attempts at healing since the patch dropped, and the mana regen was amazing. That blue bar was almost irrelevant; the mana flowed like water. And – assuming your tank is not specced Feral – Disco priests don’t seem to have much trouble keeping everyone alive, either.
I’ve yet to go out myself since the patch, but the changes are very encouraging.
The only thing that bothers me is the whiffs of unhappiness that I am hearing regarding the mana cap at max level. So, the OP-ness of Disco sub 30 may not carry over to Disco at 90. Whether you need to conserve mana due to low regen rate, or due to having a very small mana "tank", makes no difference. You lose a lot of flexibility. In my guild, which usually two-heals, flexibility is a must-have.
The Disco healing skillset is very different now. A lot of abilities have been migrated to higher levels, such as Renew have been moved to higher tiers. Poor Jaz has Flash Heal and Penance and PW: Shield and that’s about it.
A log of healers are complaining about such changes; having to "learn it all over again, every single expansion" is a burden to some. A lot of people would probably complain if there WASN’T any change, either. "Blah blah blah Blizzard is just coasting blah blah blah". Blizz can’t win that game, so they shouldn’t play it, IMO.
I personally don’t mind the changes. These games are a series of puzzles to solve. That’s one of them.
If I only wanted to look at the scenery, I’d play Second Life instead.
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Minion, type 4.
Aye, times are tough for you types, ain’t they?
Well, the paycheck’s still coming in, but the writing’s on the wall.
New guy, isn’t it?
Yeah. A real go-getter.
All show, no go?
Oh, he’s got the right stuff, for sure. Quite frankly, we’re outclassed. Gotta be honest.
How’s he doing that?
Well, first of all, he flies! I can barely slither, and here he comes flying? Can’t hold a candle to that!
How’s that happen?
I’m guessing the Twilight types left a few bits of research lying about, and the Temple had a look.
That’s a right shame, it is.
Well, at least I have time to find a new gig.
Well, right. What’s your qualifications?
Well, I studied in the twisted nether. Majored in Hit-and-run Tactics and Ignoring Masters’ commands. Picked up a nice Disco spec in Karazhan and romped around Northrend for a while. Spent most of my time recently in Shadow spec questing about. Seen Alien about 1,344 times and it keeps getting funnier EVERY SINGLE TIME I see it.
Hm. Yes. Very good. The computer’s coming up with some nice candidates.
Great! What you got?
Well, we got this walk-in part in Westeros that pays pretty well.
Cold there, isn’t it.
That it is. Hm. Do you have a hairnet?
I don’t have hair.
Right, that would be a no. How are you with numbers?
Um, not bad.
Right. Okay, luv, I’ve got a few options here.
First, we have several entry level openings in the food service industry.
That’s not really my gig, though.
Exactly right, I thought the same. So, we have several middle-management openings in the Banking industry to do with Derivatives.
I have principles.
Oh, that is unfortunate. Well, there’s one other possibility other than Oblivion, but I doubt you’d like it.
I’ve an open mind, lay it on me.
It’s in your field of expertise, but it’s a huge change of pace.
Come on, out with it.
Sorry, sir, of course. Was just trying to prepare you.
I am prepared.
Warlock minion. Type 2. A promotion, actually.
I was not prepared.
Sorry, luv, I tried to soften the blow.
I do appreciate that.
… Think they’d waive the hairnet?
I’m sure they would.
Well, let’s get the ball rolling then!
Right, sir. I’ll need you to sign here …
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This past evening I achieved level 85, on the very last quest of the very last quest line in Uldum. Well, barring the questlines that go into the instances there. That was pretty spiffy, actually, one of those precision landings you usually hear about over a cup of mulled wine in the tavern. So, the next time I start questing, I’ll be jumping straight in to Twilight Highlands, rather than dealing with loose ends.
Hey, by the way – Flora informs that there are Deepsea Sagefish pools up there now. Casters rejoice!
Speaking of questing; Meta observes that after hitting 85 in a Hunter, Warlock, and Mage, that questing with a priest just seems lonely. Aside from my mana beastie and my evil clones, ’tis true, I don’t keep much in the way of company out there. I wonder if this is true of other multi-classed altaholics out there? Is this a common feeling, that something missing when out and about as a pet-less toon? I personally don’t get it; the fuss and mess seems like it would be a pain.
I’ve availed myself of the Transmorgrification services now being offered. While it is true that this is the same robe that The Dark Father was wearing when we caught him swinging for the other team, it has also long been the regalia of followers of the Light for decades. I wear them proudly.
The great thing about this service is that you have it if you want it, and if you don’t, then you can ignore it. Oh, some people couldn’t manage to keep quiet if anyone was enjoying themselves, but we have the word troll for a reason. As Flora says, haters gonna hate. I dig it, so do a few of us. Grimm’s not so thrilled, but at least he can replace that horrible helm with some stylish engineering goggles. He says it’s Engineering Pride. Best to just nod, smile, and call for another pint.
Side note: I have a theory that if the game artists would spend more time wearing the ghastly things they foist on us as "tier gear", we’d see a lot more realistic patterns emerge. The elegant simplicity of the Black Ash Robe or the Robe of Power stands out as a far better pattern than anything I’ve seen on the tier vendors’ racks for years.
And don’t get me started on head pieces. You know what? Guys, don’t eliminate the ranged slot. Eliminate the head slot. Because you guys just can’t do it. Again, try wearing the T8 Turtleneck of Doom. Just for a day. My private theory? All helms are designed to scare the bejeezus out of other players in PvP. Only that joke got old real fast and now they’re stuck trying to service the same tired ideas that never worked in the first place.
Incidentally, I’d like to thank the interface designers for the "hide helm" flag. You have no idea.
I’ve been working on and off on a long post about how to succeed at the Glyph business without being one of those annoying "gobbo" types, but it keeps meandering off into a step by step how-to. Got to go back to formula on that one. Soon, I promise.
So, we’re a bit content-free at the moment, apologies for that. Grimm’s full of gloom and woe, Flora’s all excited about Firelands, and I’m just now making 85. Until I get my big project finished, I don’t have much to talk about.
Looking forward, I might heal if I can get some guinea pigs lined up for instances. It’s been over a year since I last healed, and last night marks the first time I even logged out as Disco.
Time may not heal all wounds, but it at least makes you forget where they came from some times.
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Being the clan’s auction bish on Alleria, my primary role is to pretty much not move anywhere but the AH, bank, and mailbox, with occasional forays out of the area to gain experience. But, mostly the AH and bank thing.
So far I’ve been following a fairly basic system that has kept food on the table and beer in the fridge. Right now, everyone left on Alleria has 10K gold, after Grimm cleaned us out on he way to Azuremyst.
A lovely new tool
Now, in the past few months, The Undermine Journal has returned to life, and, being a dutiful auction bish, I decided to check it out. Raw data is a beautiful thing, so when he added an XML feed of his regular data, I jumped at the chance to do some research. Using a little Python code here and there, Illume was able to automate the collection and extraction of Glyph data, which she and I pored over.
Let me back up just a little bit. A big problem with the AH prices has always been the so-called "goblins" posting glyphs for ridiculous amounts. Lovely tools like TUJ can’t really extract much in the way of at-a-glance data as to what glyphs are currently the best to post. Furthermore, they tend to do silly things like undercutting to stay at the ‘top’ of the listings when one is browsing for glyphs to buy. Behavior like this tends to skew market prices to significantly meaningless levels unless you know how to filter.
I don’t know how to filter. Well, I do, but I can’t.
The simplest way to filter is to watch what prices that items are actually selling for. Unfortunately, TUJ does not have that data in the XML feed, and you can’t get that from Blizz, either.
The next best way is to use statistics. I like to take the standard deviation of the average of a price over a given time, and then add 2 times the standard deviation above and below that. Any prices outside of the band thus established should be considered an error and not trusted.
With over 400 glyph recipes out there, this screams for automation. Unfortunately, I haven’t got access to the data I need to make those tools yet, so as of right now, statistical analysis of post prices is out of the question.
Back up and punt
So, if the main problem is that there are a number of unreliably high prices for glyphs cluttering up my lovely data feed, what can I do about it? I considered filtering based on an exception filter (as erroneous prices showed, add the glyph to a list of exceptions that will never get listed) but the permanence of that solution precluded some random glyph suddenly coming into favor.
How about turning the game on its ear?
I have a new experiment going on now, and after a couple of weeks the results are encouraging, at least with the local glyph goblins on Alleria.
Basically, I am accepting the TUJ feed at face value – with moderate sanity checking – but letting the practice of undercutting work for me.
I always undercut, as I have said in the past. So if a glyph is posted for 250g, I will generally post for 5 to ten percent lower. I’ve enhanced that a bit. Now, if they undercut me, I’ll cancel and repost at undercut prices.
There are two possible effects:
- Statistically, prices will get dragged down until they either sell, or bottom out. Regardless, this reduces the false positives.
- I sell some glyphs for some really good prices.
So far, it’s been mixed – that is to say, I am seeing both taking place. Some glyphs are dropping, leaving the good prices at the top, and some are actually selling for these ridiculous prices.
AuctionLite, you served me well
One thing I had to do was let go of AuctionLite. While it has served me well for quite some time, it lacks an easy way to (a) see which of your auctions are being undercut, (b) and let you cancel them right there. I had to flip back and forth between various tabs, very inefficient.
Fortunately, Auctionator had my back. This addon recently came to my attention as a potential replacement for AuctionLite, but since I didn’t need to replace it, I didn’t pay much attention. Once I started looking around for something to streamline the cancel cycle, though, it came back to mind.
And, honestly, I don’t even know if Auctioneer (AKA AUC-suite) does this as well as Auctionator does, but one thing is for sure – if it did, it would do so at the expense of a lot more memory.
The dawn of a new age
Thus tasked and thus armed, I set out a couple of weeks ago to try out my new strategy.
So far, it’s been very rewarding. False positives are decreasing, throughput is up, and profits are up. Glyphs that rarely sold before, sell quite frequently now, and for consistently higher prices. On the flip side, some glyphs that traditionally brought in more, are taking a hit because I am no longer posting and letting them sit – and thus, the final price is usually below what I would have otherwise gotten.
Still, the tradeoffs are well worth it. I would say I have doubled our income in this short period. It’s possible this is a fluke, or that the goblins will decide on some retribution, but I really doubt I figure on their radars.
The next part of this experiment will be when Grimm applies this body of work to Azuremyst. He has recently dropped Mining and picked up Inscription, and is in the process of skilling up. Once he tops out, we’ll see how well this process carries over.
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