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Category Archives: Leveling

SWTips: Part I

The last few weeks I’ve put a lot of time into playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) and today I’m finally getting around to sharing some of my experiences with you.

I know that most of my readers come here for WoW related information on leveling and heirlooms, but for the immediate future I’m shifting gears over to SWTOR. I signed up for WoW’s annual pass so I’ll still be playing WoW at least until October 2012, and hopefully we have a chance to experience Mists of Pandaria by then to see whether or not there’s a chance that I’ll continue longer. For the time being I’ll be breaking my first rule of MMO gaming, which is that I never play more than one game at a time. All of that is for another post and another day.

This is going to be the first SWTips (SWOH-tips) post in which I share all of the nifty little tricks that I’ve found that can help you. This first post is going to be a bit of everything that I’ve found so far instead of being directed at a specific activity or something because I’m more eager to just share some information with you than I am to break this up into several posts.

Also, I’ll apologize in advance for the poor selection of screenshots. Apparently I’ve only taken seven since I started playing, and six of those are of PvP scoreboards. I’ll…try to fix that.

Classes & Advanced Classes
I wanted to start off with this one because it’s probably the hardest thing for people to wrap their heads around if they’re coming from other MMO’s.

SWTOR has 4 base classes per faction. Each faction’s base classes have unique names, but they’re actually the same classes on both sides with different names for everything.

Republic Trooper = Empire Bounty Hunter
Republic Jedi Knight = Empire Sith Warrior
Republic Smuggler = Empire Imperial Agent
Republic Jedi Consular = Empire Sith Inquisitor

Each of those base classes holds the key to the confusion, because at level 10 you choose to take an Advanced Class (AC). Each base class has two advanced classes, and choosing one prevents you from ever having access to the other. So basically the base class is like a tutorial to give you a feel for two different play styles at once. Once you reach level 10 you drop your base class and move on to your advanced class – for ever.

With 2 AC’s for every base class we’re really left with 8 unique classes for people to be. You’ll always be a Sith Inquisitor if that was your base class, but you’re actually either a Sorcerer or an Assassin as far as what your actual class is because it’s your Advanced Class that defines your character.

Each AC has it’s own set of three talent trees to spend points in, and even though one of the three trees is “shared” between both AC’s for every class, the talents themselves often change between the two AC’s. So while both the Sorcerer and Assassin have access to the Madness tree, the talents within that tree work differently for both specs because they’re completely different (caster vs. melee).

As the game stands right now you can pay to reset your talent points, so there is an option to repsec. However, there is (currently) no dual spec option so if you want to switch roles you’ll have to respec. Bioware has discussed, but so far declined, the possibility of changing your Advanced Class. At this time you cannot change your AC once you’ve selected it. So if you decide to be a Sith Assassin, you cannot become a Sith Sorcerer without rolling a new character. While I would personally like to have this ability, I can understand why they would not allow it and I will support their decision on how to handle it either way.

A lot of people get a bit upset at not being able to switch their AC, and that’s perfectly understandable. With the way that classes are handled though, if you were to relate this to WoW you’re basically asking for the ability to class change your Mage into a Rogue, or your Druid into a Warrior, your Death Knight into a Priest. Advanced classes are like classes unto themselves, and asking for the ability to change them on the fly is a bit much.

That being said, with how AC’s are handled in the first place, it can really suck for people to invest time into a character that could be either a Rogue or a Priest only find out at level 20 that you really wish you would have chosen the other AC, or you find that your guild needs a healer but you chose an AC that can only tank and dps and your only option is to reroll another character.

Free Experience
There’s a lot of “free” experience to be had in SWTOR. “Free” meaning that all you have to do is click on something and you get experience for it. These are typically called Codex entries which basically means that you’re exploring and learning about the galaxy.

You get codex entries for all kinds of things. Killing strange creatures, clicking on glowy blue objects, accomplishing objectives in PvP warzones, or talking to special NPC’s. Your character will make codex entries for those which gives you experience and gives you a place to look up information about the subject.

Glowy Blue Items: if you see something in the world that’s glowing with a dull, blue light – click on it. It’s either a quest item that you need anyway, or it’s a lore item that’s going to give you experience for a codex entry. These things come in all shapes and sizes from little datapads the size of your hand to massive rock formations. If it’s glowing, click it.

Monster Codex: If you’re out exploring and you see a strange creature roaming about – click it. In some cases you just need to be close to it and click it, and others you have to attack and kill it. If clicking doesn’t do anything, try to kill it. If you get an entry you get more experience, and if you don’t then just move on and ignore those creatures unless you have a quest to kill some more. Don’t just go for monsters that have health bars though, you can also get entries for friendly beasts.

Datacrons: These will have their own section further below since they’re kind of a big deal, but these are a great source of free experience with the added bonus of also increasing your attributes. Datacrons can be found on (I believe) every planet in the game, and there’s anywhere from 3-6 datacrons on each one. Some datacrons are incredibly easy to reach while other require extensive amounts of jumping, running, navigation, and even team work in order to reach them. I’ll give you some links for how to find these in the Datacrons section down below.

Training Crew Skills: When you first arrive at the Imperial/Republic fleet for the first time on a new character you’ll receive a quest to go train your crew skills and to talk to one of your trainers a second time after choosing the profession. However, since crew skills give codex entries, you’ll get free experience from talking to every skill trainer regardless of which three you’re going to choose and whether or not you’ve already chosen/accepted them. Take a peek at the Crew Skills section below for a tip on how to gain three levels just from talking to these guys.

[Update: Added] Companion Story/Dialogue Quests: As you start to gather your companions you’ll notice that every now and then they’ll want to talk to you someplace private. These take place in either a cantena or on your ship, and your companion will have a quest marker when they’re available. These quests allow you to get to know your companion more, build affection (or lose it) with them, and sometimes assign them special positions or roles within your character’s story. Every time you complete a portion of your class quest that’s somewhat significant, there’s a good chance that at least one of your companions wants to have a chat with you. Quests are quests, and that means experience.

PvP: Player versus Player Combat
PvP is something that I’ve been a huge fan of in WoW for the last 2-3 years and something that I’ve really enjoyed in SWTOR so far as well. In fact, I think I might even go so far as to say that I prefer SWTOR PvP to WoW PvP and that’s actually saying quite a bit.

No Brackets: Right now there is only one PvP bracket, meaning that all characters that can participate (level 10-50) will face each other in the same bracket. There is a mechanic in place, Bolster, which evens the playing field stats-wise (for the most part) so that the only difference between a level 10 and a level 50 is that the level 50 has access to 40 extra levels worth of spells. Don’t let level differences fool you though, it’s entirely possible for a level 10 to kill a level 50 in a 1v1 fight with Bolster. It’s not necessarily likely, but it is possible.

No Cross Server Queues: Because there’s no brackets, there’s also no cross server grouping. Instead, every time you step foot into a warzone, you’re facing other players on your server. Their main reason for doing this was to establish a community. When you’re facing the same batch of people over and over in PvP, you start to recognize names. This was something that had me a bit concerned when I first saw it, but after having experienced it I find that I actually love this feature. This is the one saving grace of Huttball after I got burned out on it, because you can face your own faction there. There are two people that I’ve developed a relationship with in SWTOR PvP because of these two features combined.

One of them I’ve only ever been teamed up with, but as we’re both healers we’ve done some of the most amazing node defense and defending the ball carrier that I’ve ever seen. The other is with an Imperial Agent who I frequently have both on my team and on the opposing team. When we’re working together we can take down level 48’s while we’re in our teens, but while facing each other we’re both the number one kill target for the other. Unfortunately for him, I have stealth.

Bolster: This is a buff that raises your stats to be comparable to those people who are higher level than you in the warzone. Bolster’s buff is percentage based, so it increases your current stats by the percentage associated with your level. What that means is, when you’re in gear that’s appropriate for your level, Bolster will make you as strong as a level 50 character in level-appropriate gear. If you’re undergeared though, that percentage doesn’t increase itself to make up for your lack of gear, it just increases your weaker stats. So if you’re level 14 in level 14 gear, you’ll be about the same as a level 50 in level 50 (non-PvP) gear, but if you’re a level 20 in level 15 gear then you’ll be roughly as strong as a level 50 in level 38 gear.

Resolve: Is a bar that shows up under players’ nameplates that marks how much crowd control (CC) they’ve been hit with recently. When that bar is full (it’s a whitish-bluish color) that player is immune to CC. There is a lot of CC in SWTOR and almost every class has several CC abilities by level 10 (melee force users don’t get reliable CC until level 24). Watch your opponent’s resolve bar carefully when you’re trying to decide whether it’s best for you to CC them or go for the kill as you may find that going for the kill is your only option and that one wasted global cooldown on CC when they’re immune can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Rewards: PvP is actually incredibly rewarding, especially at lower levels. Each victory will earn you roughly 1,000 credits, 40-90 commendations which can be used for gear upgrades, and experience that’s pretty close to what you would get from on-level quests. You can get your first PvP weapon at level 14, and it will take you 5-10 warzones worth of commendations to purchase it, but it will be significantly better than anything else you can get your hands on at that level. Level 20 is when the first set of armor becomes available which is also extremely powerful. Now, just to clarify here, this gear does not have the PvP stat Expertise on them, they’re just gear pieces that you can get only through PvP. Expertise is only available on level 50 PvP gear.

Expertise: This is the PvP stat, the one that increases your performance in PvP-only, and has no effect at all on PvE. This is only available at level 50, and it’s the one thing that make level 50’s harder to kill in PvP than anyone else. Right now a level 50 with full PvP gear on can defend a node form 4-6 people by themselves. BioWare is working towards splitting the level 50’s off into their own bracket once there are enough 50’s to actually have a bracket, but until then this is the major source of imbalance in PvP right now.

PvP: Warzones
There are three warzones in SWTOR at this time, and they should all have at least some amount of familiarity if you’ve done PvP in other MMO’s.

Alderaan: This is a resources map similar to Arathi Basin or Battle For Gilneas if you’re a WoW player. There are three nodes (left, right, and mid) and you need to stay in control of any 2 of those for the majority of the fight in order to win. You can see who controls which nodes as well as the current standing of each team by looking at the icons in the top-right corner of your screen. Your turrets and your bar are colored green, your opponents’ is colored red, and uncontrolled turrets are grey. The longer you control the turret nodes, the more damage they deal to the opponent’s ship, and the faster you win.

The best tip I can give you for this warzone is to always cap the node from the opposite side of the enemy spawn locations. The nodes themselves grant Line of Sight, so unless the opponent has an AoE that they can target to get around the node, they have to spend extra time running in order to get to you and that extra time can be the deciding factor in capping a turret. People are constantly trying to capture these nodes at the wrong angle and letting the enemy hit them with a basic ranged attack to prevent a capture that they could have easily had if they would have taken 2 steps to the side.

Actually, the best tip I could give you is something that’s been chiseled into the foundation of the world since PvP became PvP – FIGHT ON THE FLAGS! Always, always, always fight on the flags. Never let your flag be captured because you weren’t paying attention or weren’t able to react in time because you were too far away from the node.

There’s a lot I could talk about in regards to the layout of this warzone and how to get around quickly and such, but I think I’m going to leave that for an actual Alderaan-specific guide that I’ll write later.

Voidstar: This is a defend and assault style map where each side gets a chance at being both offense and defense. It’s basically Strand of the Ancients for you WoW players. There are three walls that you have to get through in order to reach a computer terminal which is the primary objective. You get through the walls by planting bombs (8 second timer) which then have a 20 second countdown before they explode. The defenders are trying to prevent you from planting bombs in the first place, or defusing them (3 second timer) once you do get them up before they blow the doors open. Once one door is opened in a section, all the doors in that section open and push combat into the next section.

The second and third sections each have another gating mechanic that requires another 8 second timer to open the gate to reach the doors in the first place, but those happen instantly if you get the 8 seconds completed. There are two gates in the second section, and three in the third. Gates are opened singularly, so if you open only the left gate in section 2, the right gate stays closed. As an attacker, you want to open all of the gates, where the defender wants to keep all of them closed only until one is opened at which point their focus should be strictly defending the final doors.

Stealth classes have an edge in this map because they can maneuver around the map and plant a bomb while the defenders are away. That’s why defense and fighting on the flags is so important in this match. You should never leave the doors unguarded if you’re defending. Zerg tactics can sometimes work on this map, but team composition can make a huge difference as well. The team that the most AoE and/or the most CC typically wins.

Huttball: This is the capture the flag map, but with a twist – the flag can be passed around. There isn’t really a true enough equivalent to this warzone in WoW, the closest being Warsong Gulch, but I’m told there’s a somewhat similar map in Rift. I did play Rift, but I never did any PvP so I wouldn’t know. The point here is to grab the neutral ball from the middle of the field and carry it to your opponent’s side of the field to score a point. Killing the ball handler will cause the ball to be passed to a nearby member of your team (I think the person who gets the killing blow gets the ball, but I’m not positive), otherwise you’ll pick it up from the spawn point in mid.

There are 4 levels in Huttball. Ground level which has access to all of the other three and contains two acid pits which deal damage and apply a slow effect to anyone inside them as well as two air traps which launch players in random directions around midfield. The Pit, which is the lowest level and is located in front of the goal area by with no immediate access to the goal. Middle Ramp which has one entrance from the ground floor and then two exits onto the scoring portion of the ground floor, and also contains two fire traps on both sides of the field that deal significant damage. And the upper/outer Ramps that are accessed on the outer edges of the ground floor in midfield, which also contain two fire traps on both sides, and has a single exit onto the scoring side of the pits on the ground level.

Because of the multiple levels and the damaging terrain of this warzone, ranged classes have a definite advantage here. Crowd Control is even more deadly on this map than raw DPS thanks to the hazardous terrain, and knockbacks can really screw with your clutch flag captures.

My most important tip for Huttball is to put the spell to throw the ball somewhere on your action bars where it’s easy to get to. The spell name is “Throw the Huttball” and it does just that. It should show up on your bars by default when you entire Huttball for the first time. If your bars are full though, you can find it on the General tab of your skills window. I have my Throw button assigned to my ‘R’ keybind because I want it as accessible as possible when I’m playing Huttball. If you have the ball and you’re low on health, pass it off to a teammate. If you’re in a bad position and someone else is near the goal, pass it. Do not try to be a hero in Huttball. It’s better to pass the ball and get a point than to try to force your way through four opponents only to die with your face on the goal line and the ball in enemy hands.

Throwing the Huttball does require you to click on a target area when you activate it, you can’t just pass it directly to another team member. If your team is in the AoE they should receive the ball so long as they’re not in stealth. If you’re going to die and there’s nobody on your team to pass it to, you should do your best to pass the ball to an open spot on the map so that it’s reset to the middle of the field instead of falling into enemy hands.

If you’re still confused by all of that, just wait for my post on Huttball where I’ll go into a lot more detail and include screenshots and such.

Companions
Companions are sort of like pets/minions from other games, except that every class gets 5 (6) of them throughout the the game. Each class gets specific companions and they are given to you at specific points in your class quest storyline. You’ll get your first companion between levels 7-12 depending on which class you are and how strongly you stick to your class quest versus every other quest out there. Your second companion, the one who’s only a partial companion (no combat skills) comes with your ship which you’ll get someone in your mid-to-upper teens. The third and fourth companions vary somewhat between the classes as far as what level or what stage of your class quest you get them at, but you should get them in your 20’s. For example, my Trooper has 3 companions while my wife’s Smuggler has only 2, even though we’re at the same stage of our class quests.

You can have only one companion actively helping you in combat at a time. The number of companions you can have sent out on Mission quests (see below) or crafting items for you at one time is based on your level. You can only have two companions crafting/questing until you reach level 25 and open up the third.

Remember, companions are tied to your class quest, so if you’re eager for more companions you should consider cutting back on all of the other quests in the area and focus just on your class chain. There are way more quests available than you need to level to 50 anyway, so don’t feel like you have an obligation to do every quest on every planet before moving on. You can always come back later.

For a great source of companion information, I direct you to swtor-spy.com.

Presence: This is a stat that you’ll find on some pieces of gear which gives no direct benefit to you. This stat instead increases the health, damage, and healing abilities of your companions. If you like to play solo, then this is a good stat for you to stack if you like having your companion out to give you a hand. If you’re more of a group player this you can ignore this stat since companions count against your total group size.

Affection: Is a rating of how well your companions like you (or how much they hate your rotten guts). This increases (or decreases) the success rate of the companion’s Mission quests and impacts the roleplay options you have with that companion, including a chance for romance where it’s available.

Skill Efficiency: This increases the companion’s success rate with a certain skill and also decreases the amount of time it takes them to accomplish it. A mission may say it will take 4 minutes, but with a companion with high efficiency in that skill it may only take 3.5 minutes. Each companion has their own efficiency/critical scores that are already tied to specific crew skills and you cannot do anything to change which skills or what type of bonus they have.

Skill Critical: This increases the chance that your companion will have extra or increased rewards when utilizing your Crew Skills.

Crew Skills
Crew Skills are SWTOR’s version of professions, and for the most part I love them. You, as the player, select three Crew Skills that your Companions will have access to. You get three, and only three. Of those three, only one of them can be a Crafting skill (you don’t have to have a crafting skill, you just can’t have more than one on the same character).

Crafting Skills: Armortech, Armstech, Artifice, Biochem, Cybertech and Synthweaving. These professions all craft gear, consumables, or item mods. You can only have one of these per character. You don’t actually craft anything yourself, your companions do all of the crafting for you.

Gathering/Mission Skills: Archaeology, Bioanalysis, Scavenging, Slicing. These professions are all used to gather items while you’re out questing, and they can be used as mission skills to get specific types of items. Both you and your companions can gather nodes while you’re out in the world(s), but only your companions can go on the Mission quest portion. With the exception of Slicing, these professions all give you the basic materials required by the crafting professions.

Slicing gathers lockboxes which most often contain credits, though it can also give you access to schematics and mission quests for all of the other professions. Slicing received a nerf in the most recent patch 1.0.1 which significantly reduced the amount of credits you can farm with it. Prior to that nerf, I was able to farm 100,000 credits on my level 23 Trooper. After that nerf I get about the same amount of credits from a day’s worth of farming that I used to get in about 3 hours. Exact numbers are still being tested, but it looks like the nerf was fairly significant.

Mission-Only Skills: Diplomacy, Investigation, Treasure Hunting and Underworld Trading. These crew skills, to my knowledge, do not have any nodes that you can gather from, and instead require Mission quests to level. These crew skills are required if you want to be able to make Blue or Purple quality gear with your crafting professions as they are the only reliable method of obtaining the rare materials required to craft them.

Datacrons
Datacrons are shiny little cubes that you can find throughout the various planets of SWTOR. Clicking on them typically gives you a bonus to one of your attributes of +2, though some can give +3-4, while others will give you a Datacron Fragment which you combine with others in special locations to form more powerful datacrons. I haven’t done the combining yet so I don’t know the details for those, but I do know you can do it and have found two of the stations that you do it in, so I’ll know more about it once I find some more pieces and can put them together.

For the best resource I’ve found online for datacron locations, I direct you once again to swtor-spy.com. You can also search for them on YouTube. I prefer video walkthroughs to written instructions and screenshots, so if I can’t find what I’m looking for on one site I’ll try out another.

There are two reasons why you want to hunt these datacrons down. First, because they are permanent increases to your attributes so by not going after them you’re making yourself less powerful than you could/should be. Granted, not all of them are useful for every character, such as +2 Aim on a Force user, but you should at least go for the ones that you can benefit from. Second, these are also Codex entries, meaning you get more “free” experience just from finding them.

More to Come
I’ve got plenty more tips for you, but we’re already pushing 5k words on this one and it’s a big mish-mash of all kinds of stuff thrown together as it is, so I don’t want it to get much bigger.

If there’s anything in particular you would like for me to cover, feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments below. Otherwise I’ll just keep on keeping on with whatever happens to be peaking my interest at the moment when I start writing the next one.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Crew Skills, Leveling, Player vs Player, SWTOR

 

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Druid Leveling: 1-29 Feral

Playing a Feral Druid
Feral Druids are an odd class to play at low levels. It’s almost like Blizzard tried too hard to make us viable with a limited tool set early on and then slowly trickled in all the other abilities that we actually need to be more than mangle-spammers. In short, if you’re new to playing a Feral Druid be prepared to relearn how to play your class every ten levels because our spells are scattered all over the place.

Feral is also somewhat unique because it’s both a tank spec and a DPS spec at the same time. That also makes your talent choices interesting because some talents benefit both roles while others do only one or the other. You’ll need to decide whether you want to focus more on DPS or on tanking, or if you want to play that middle ground as much as possible.

While playing as a Cat you have the option of using stealth to move around undetected in PvE and PvP, though you don’t get any direct benefit from being in stealth right away. As a Bear you just run up to things and smack things in the face until they’re dead. For most of the leveling process Cat damage is based on bleeds and burst while Bear damage is based on steady, repeated blows that utilize the Bears added survivability to be able to live long enough for those steady blows to win you the fight.

Important Spells & Abilities
I’m going to do the spell breakdown a little bit differently this time around than I have in the past. I’m going to break down the important spells based on which forms you have available to you (Caster/Normal, Cat, and Bear) and also which type of spell it is. Druids are the ultimate hybrid class and even though a LOT of the spells you learn aren’t important to being a Feral Druid I want to cover the ones that are worth noting so that you have a firm grasp of what you’re capable of.

I’m still not listing every single spell (though close to it) as not all spells are useful to every spec.

Note that all numeric values are taken from the level 29 version of the spell for the purposes of this post.

Caster Form (Levels 1-8)

  • Wrath (1): Deals 45-49 Nature Damage to the target.
  • Moonfire (4): Burns the enemy for 11-13 Arcane damage and then additional Arcane damage over 12 seconds.

I list these spells primarily because this is what you’ll use to level until at least level 8 since you have no forms to choose from until then. However, it’s also important to be familiar with these if you’re going to PvP. As a Feral Druid there’s a lot of crowd control that you can shrug off, but being rooted in place is not one of them. In cases like those, you need to be able to pop out of your feral form to attack with spells. Even as Feral I keep Moonfire keybound an in reach for just such an occasion. I’ll get into more detail on when using Moonfire and other caster spells is a good idea as a Feral even though using these spells pops you out of your Cat/Bear form in a later post directed specifically at PvP.

For leveling from 1-8, you’re basically going to spam Wrath and/or Moonfire until your targets are dead.

Cat Form (Levels 8-29)

  • Cat Form (8): Shift into Cat form, causing Agility to increase Attack Power (2:1). Also protects the caster from Polymorph effects and allows the use of cat abilities. Shapeshifting frees the caster of movement slowing effects.
  • Claw (8): Claw the enemy, causing 100% of normal damage plus 38. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Ferocious Bite (8): Finishing Move causes damage per combo point and consumes up to 35 additional energy to increase damage by up to 100%, and heals you for up to 1% of your total max health for each 10 energy used.
  • Rake (8): Rake the target for Bleed damage and additional Bleed damage every 3 seconds for 9 seconds. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Mangle (10): Mangle the target for 354% normal damage plus 3 and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Prowl (10): Allows the druid to prowl around (stealth), but reduces your movement speed by 30%. Lasts until cancelled.
  • Ravage (22): Ravage the target, causing 664% damage plus 3 to the target. Must be prowling and behind the target. Awards 1 combo point.
  • Skull Bash (22): Charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 4 seconds.
  • Tiger’s Fury (24): Increases physical damage done by 15% for 6 seconds. Requires Cat form. Does not break prowling.
  • Cower (26): Cower, causing no damage but lowering your threat by 10%, making the enemy less likely to attack you.
  • Dash (26): Increases movement speed by 70% while in Cat form for 15 seconds. Does not break prowling.
  • Feline Grace (26): Reduces damage from falling.

In case you haven’t noticed, Druids get a crapload of spells. And these are just the ones that you use strictly in Cat form.

As a leveling Cat the most important spells for you are: Mangle, Rake, Ferocious Bite, Prowl and Ravage. Prowl (stealth) and Ravage are used as openers and with decent gear you can one-shot a lot of quest mobs with Ravage. Especially if you buff your damage with Tiger’s Fury first. Mangle is your spam-attack, Rake is your primary Bleed, and Ferocious Bite is your finisher. We’ll get into more detail about how to use these in the sections below.

Claw is mentioned SOLELY because it’s your only decent attack from level 8-9 in Cat Form. At level 10 you’ll take this off of your bars and never look at this worthless piece of garbage again. This spell only exists to give non-Feral Druids an attack to use while in Cat Form, it’s not meant for you. It costs more Energy than Mangle and does a fraction of its damage, so don’t use this ever again once you reach level 10.

While Skull Bash won’t see much use while you’re leveling, it’s good to stay familiar with it and keep it somewhere easily reachable. You don’t need to interrupt spells from quest mobs, but if you develop that habit now you won’t have to worry about trying to get into the habit when you reach max level where dungeon and raid fights demand interrupts.


Bear Form (Levels 15-29) [jump to tanking]

  • Bear Form (15): Shift into Bear form, increasing armor by 120% and Stamina by 20%. Significantly increases threat generation (500%), causes Agility to increase Attack Power (2:1), and protects the caster from Polymorph effects and allows the use of bear abilities. Shapeshifting frees the caster from movement slowing effects.
  • Mangle (10): Mangle the target for 88% normal damage plus 93 and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 minute.
  • Demoralizing Roar (15): Reduce the physical damage caused by all enemies within 10 yards by 10% for 30 seconds.
  • Growl (15): Taunts the target to attack you, but has no effect if the target is already attacking you.
  • Maul (15): An attack that instantly deals 35 physical damage. Effects which increase Bleed damage also increase Maul damage.
  • Swipe (18): Swipe nearby enemies, inflicting 51 damage. Damage is increased by attack power.
  • Enrage (22): Generates 20 Rage, and then generates an additional 10Rage over 10 seconds.
  • Skull Bash (22): Charge and skull bash the target, interrupting spellcasting and preventing any spell in that school from being cast for 4 seconds.
  • Faerie Fire (24): Decreases the armor of the target by 4% for 5 minutes. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible. Stacks up to 3 times. Deals damage and additional threat when used in Bear Form.
  • Challenging Roar (28): Forces all nearby enemies within 10 yards to focus attacks on you for 6 seconds.

Did I mention Druids get a crapload of spell? Here’s the list of the ones strictly used in Bear form.

Bear form is most often used for tanking, but it’s also a strong option for leveling; especially for those of you who enjoy using AoE and fighting multiple mobs at once. All of these spells are important in one way or another. For boss tanking Mangle, Demoralizing Roar, and Maul are your primary spells with Growl getting an honorable mention in case you’ve got some strong DPS in your group. For questing or fighting trash your major spells are: Mangle, Demoralizing Roar, Maul, and Swipe with Challenging Roar and Growl being mentioned again for those DPS that might draw agro in dungeons.

We’ll talk more about Bear tanking later on. For now, know that if you’re going to be bear tanking you’ll make use of basically all of these spells. The least likely spell for you as a tank is going to be Skull Bash since you usually have DPS focused on interrupts, but if you can add yours to the mix then you only strengthen your group.

Healing Spells (Levels 3-29)

  • Rejuvenation (3): Heals the target for 70 every 3 seconds for 12 seconds.
  • Regrowth (12): Heals a friendly target for 182-202 and another 57 over 6 seconds.
  • Revive (12): Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 35% max health and mana. Cannot be cast when in combat.
  • Rebirth (20): Returns the spirit to the body, restoring a dead target to life with 20% health and mana. Can be used during combat.
  • Remove Corruption (24): Nullifies corrupting effects on the friendly target, removing 1 Curse and 1 Poison effect.

I wouldn’t ordinarily bother listing healing spells on a guide written specifically for a Tank/DPS spec, but Druids are special.

There’s a method of healing that we call pre-HoT’ing, which is casting Heal over-Time (HoT) spells on your tank before they pull so that you nullify or greatly reduce the amount of initial damage that they take once combat begins. Bears operate off of a Rage mechanic which starts at 0 and fills up during combat. Because of this you can take great advantage of pre-HoT’ing yourself while questing or during dungeons to lessen the load on your healer. If you’re always out of Rage between pulls then you can also make use of your talents for a free 10 Rage after casting your HoT’s to give you a head start in the pull.

The most likely spell for you to use in a pre-HoT is Rejuvenation because it has a longer duration and a cheaper mana cost. Regrowth only lasts for 6 seconds and it’s a front-loaded HoT as well as expensive, so only use it when you know there’s going to be a lot of incoming damage or when you need to top yourself off from the last pull.

Rebirth is mentioned because being able to resurrect someone mid-combat is pretty stinking useful. Revive I mention only because I can’t believe how many times I’ve had people die in pugs and nobody in the group has or has bothered training a resurrection spell. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

Remove Corruption deserves special mention because you can’t use Prowl (stealth) while you have DoT’s on you because taking damage removes you from stealth. You can enter prowl, you just won’t be able to stay in it for more than a second or two. Removing curses and poisons that deal damage can save you a lot of problems when playing as a cat.

Utility Spells (Levels 4-29)

  • Thorns (5): Thorns sprout from the friendly target causing Nature damage to attackers when hit. Lasts 20 seconds.
  • Entangling Roots (7): Roots the target in place for 30 seconds. Damage caused my interrupt the effect.
  • Teleport: Moonglade (15): Teleports the caster to the Moonglade.
  • Aquatic Form (16): Shift into aquatic form, increasing swim speed by 50% and allowing the druid to breathe underwater. Also protects from Polymorph effects. Shifting frees the caster from movement slowing effects.
  • Travel Form (16): Shift into travel form, increasing movement speed by 40% and protecting you from Polymorph effects. Only usable outdoors. Shifting frees the caster of movement slowing effects.
  • Omen of Clarity (20): Your damage spells, attacks, and auto-attacks have a chance to cuase you to enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the Mana, Rage or Energy cost of your next damaging or healing spell or offensive feral ability by 100%.
  • Faerie Fire (24): Decreases the armor of the target by 4% for 5 minutes. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible. Stacks up to 3 times.
  • Innervate (28): Causes the target to regenerate 5% of their maximum mana over 10 seconds. If cast on self, you regenerate an additional 15% of your maximum mana over 10 seconds.
  • Sooth (28): Soothes the target, dispelling all enrage effects.

Yep. Crapload.

Thorns is a really cool spell that actually puts out a surprising amount of damage. The bad news is, it kicks you out of bear/cat form to use it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cast it, but it does mean you should generally avoid doing so mid-combat. This is another spell you should be casting in between pulls for extra damage. If you’re not the tank, cast it on your tank between pulls instead of yourself.

Entangling Roots isn’t used much by Ferals in PvE, though it’s pretty common in PvP. In terms of leveling and questing I like to use this when I’m gathering mostly so that when I don’t want to fight a mob I’ll just root them in place, gather my node and then leave. If you’re a Bear that’s pretty much the only time you’ll cast Roots in PvE.

Teleport: Moonglade is a free ticket to your class trainer any time you want it. Moonglade also has a couple of professions trainers (Herbalism and…something else, I think) and a couple of vendors that sell items that often can be flipped on the AH for a decent profit.

Aquatic Form and Travel Form are both great for mobility, and they can both be cast while you’re in combat. They’re fantastic for PvP, and occasionally useful in PvE.

Omen of Clarity is worth mentioning because you’re going to see those two bars of green leaves pop up on your screen from time to time and you might as well know what it means. Omen of Clarity (OoC) essentially makes your next attack or heal free, so you generally want to make use of the OoC proc by casting a spell with the largest Rage/Energy/Mana cost that has the most benefit. For Feral that’s almost always going to be Mangle or sometimes Ferocious Bite in Cat form, though you may also want to use it for a quick Regrowth if you need some emergency healing.

Innervate doesn’t mean much to Ferals since you almost never use mana, but your healers will love you for casting it on them.

And last is Sooth. Sooth is very often overlooked by Druids because you get it at such an early level and yet have virtually no reason at all to use it. For leveling purposes this spell can pretty much be ignored since anything that does enrage on you will likely die within a matter of seconds if you’re attacking it in Cat form. In dungeons you’ll occasionally run into a boss that you can use this on where it’s useful, but it breaks Cat/Bear form so doing so is risky. The main reason why I mention it is because it does have some definite uses in PvP against Warriors and some class pets that have enrages.

Leveling a Feral Druid

  • Questing Single Mob Stealth: [Cat Form] Prowl, Tiger’s Fury, Ravage, Mangle, Rake, Ferocious Bite, Mangle spam
  • Questing Single Mob No Stealth: [Cat Form] Tiger’s Fury, Mangle, Rake, Mangle x1-3, Ferocious Bite
  • Questing Multi-Mob: [Bear Form] Mangle (mob 1), Demoralizing Roar, Maul, Swipe, Maul, Mangle (mob 2), Swipe, Maul

Questing Single Mob
The fastest way to kill things 1v1 is to use Prowl to sneak up behind them, pop Tiger’s Fury for added damage, and then use Ravage for big burst damage followed by Mangle for even more burst. If the mob manages to survive, you follow that with Rake’s bleed effect which is 30% stronger thanks to Mangle’s debuff, and then Ferocious Bite as a finisher. If the mob still isn’t dead, switch to spamming your Mangle attack until the mob is either dead or has 5 combo points on it at which time you Ferocious Bite again and then return to Mangle spam.

Rarely should you ever have to worry about normal mobs surviving through that full rotation as a Feral.

While using stealth is often looked at as the “right” way to play a Feral, it’s not really necessary. It’s perfectly acceptable to just run up to something and Mangle it’s face a bit before using Ferocious Bite to finish them off. This is most effective when you’re in heirloom gear or other good gear for your level rather than a hodgepodge of whites and greens that don’t add Agility.

Questing Multi-Mob
Using AoE to take down groups of mobs is my favorite way to kill things. This rotation is also what you’ll use when tanking dungeons. Those four spells are the key to tanking form level 15 up to level 69. For that massive stretch of levels there’s virtually no change at all to your rotation for taking. You can assign Mangle, Maul, Swipe and Demo Roar to your 1-4 keys and after hitting Demo Roar once at the beginning of a fight you can spam 1-3 without even looking at your monitor for the rest of the encounter and you’ll do just fine.

The reason why I mention using Mangle on multiple targets is two fold. First, Mangle is your hardest hitting attack so spreading out that big damage will help bring all of the mobs down faster and more evenly time-wise. Second, because Mangle increases Bleed damage by 30% which Maul takes advantage of even though it isn’t a Bleed effect. By default Maul only hits a single target, but with a Major Glyph you can make it hit two targets which is why it’s great for AoE situations.


How to Tank: 29 Feral Druid
Tanking on a Bear Druid is easy while you’re leveling. Before patch 4.3 it was a little bit tougher because Bear Form didn’t get its full defensive bonus until higher levels, but now you get it from level 15 on. To see which spells you’ll be using as a Bear, refer to the Bear Spells section above for a list of all the spells you’ll need to have ready in this level range.

Tanking as a Bear is incredibly simple at early levels. It can be a little bit boring since you’ll be using the same three attack spells over and over as they come off of cooldown, but tabbing through multiple enemies to keep threat spread out over all the mobs can keep it a bit more interesting.

Pulling
There are three methods of pulling that you can use: body pull, feral charge, and faerie fire.

Body Pulling is simply running into the group of mobs and letting the presence of your toon draw the agro. This is the simplest method of pulling, but also the least effective since it generates no threat at all.

Feral Charge is a bit more effect since it’s a gap closer, meaning you rush right in quickly and get started with combat and threat right away.

Faerie Fire is much like Feral Charge except that the range is longer and you’re not closing the gap any faster than with a body pull.

The most effective way to start a pull is to combine those last to. You do this by casting Faerie Fire on the target furthest away from you, then casting Feral Charge on the mob closest to the center of the pack you’re about to pull (any mob in the cluster will work, though).

Once you’re in range of the mobs your first priority is to cast Demoralizing Roar to reduce the damage of all of those mobs. From there you move on to your damage rotation.

Damage Rotation
Until you learn Lacerate at level 66 there are only three spells you’ll need to worry about for your damage rotation: Mangle, Maul and Swipe.

Mangle is a solid burst of damage on a single target, with a 6 second cooldown.
Maul is reasonable damage on a single target, with a 3 second cooldown..
Swipe is an AoE attack that hits all enemies within 8 yards of you, with a 3 second cooldown.

You want to try to use Mangle on each target in the pack at least once so that Mangles +30% Bleed damage debuff is on as many targets as possible. The reason for this is that Maul benefits from Mangle’s debuff even though it’s not actually a Bleed effect. Another reason why we’re spreading it around instead of just focusing one target is because you also want to use the Glyph of Maul which makes Maul hit two targets instead of one, so being able to increase Maul’s damage by 30% on multiple targets is just free, extra damage.

Since Maul and Swipe both have 3 second cooldowns, you’ll alternate these a lot, with Mangle thrown in when it’s available.

If you’re facing a boss or a single mob, you can leave Swipe off the list and just use Mangle/Maul as they’re available, filling in the empty spaces with Faerie Fire until you have 3 stacks of it (the max).

Taunts and Drawing Agro
Bears have two taunts, one that’s single target and one that’s area.

Growl has a single target, and an 8 second cooldown.
Challenging Roar hits all mobs within 10 yards, forcing agro (not threat*) for 6 seconds, and has a 3 minute cooldown.

Growl is going to be your primary taunt because of it’s significantly shorter cooldown. The main thing you need to know about taunts, if they’re unfamiliar to you, is that terms of threat a Taunt puts your threat equal to the person who currently has threat. So if their threat is 500 and yours is only 300, your threat meter immediately jumps up to 500 to match theirs. This is important to remember because taunting something doesn’t just instantly guarantee that the problem is going away. Unless you do something to generate more threat on that target than whoever had threat before is continuing to generate on them, you’re going to lose it again.

For example, if a Mage pulls threat on one mob and you taunt it, but don’t do anything else, if that Mage continues to cast spells against that mob he’s going to steal threat again as soon as he reaches 130% of your threat level (assuming he’s at caster range and not melee range, or else it’s only 110%). The way you combat that is to use attacks on that specific mob to generate a significant enough threat lead that you will not lose threat again before the mob is dead.

If you taunt a mob and they’re not close enough for you to just hit them right away to reestablish agro, use other means of generating agro such as Faerie Fire or use your Feral Charge to close in with the stray mob, followed with Mangle to boost your threat back up.

Challenging Roar forces everything in its radius to fight you for 6 seconds no matter what the threat levels are. Even if your threat level is 300 and theirs is 3 million, you’ve got agro for those 6 seconds. The key issue here though, is that this isn’t an actual taunt. A taunt resets your threat level to match whoever had threat at the time, where this spell leaves threat levels where they are an instead just makes the targets ignore everyone else until the spell ends.

In order to use this spell effectively you need to follow it up immediately with as much AoE as you can. That means hitting Swipe, Maul, Demoralizing Roar, and anything else you have to throw at them (like Engineering explosives). As a Bear you generate threat at 5 times the amount of damage that you put out, and no DPS classes near your level should be able to put out 500% of your damage. Certain spells, like Faerie Fire, also generate threat which is not based solely on damage, but you don’t need to know all the math behind those so I’m not going to mention it.

[Note: I've had some trouble finding the exact percentages that are used currently for pulling threat. General consensus on twitter was that 110% is correct for melee range threat, while there's some confusion on ranged being 120% or 130%. I'm not an expert on threat, so if I got the numbers right just let me know and I'll get it corrected.]

Talent Spec: 29 Feral Druid

  • Feral Swiftness 2/2: Increases your movement speed by 30% in Cat Form and increases your chance to doge while in Cat or Bear forms by 4%. In addition, your Dash and Stampeding Roar have a 100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects from affected targets when used.
  • Furor 3/3: Grants a 100% chance to gain 10 Rage when you shift into Bear form, allows you to keep up to 100 of your Energy when shifting into Cat form, and increases your maximum mana by 15%.
  • Fury Swipes 3/3: When you auto-attack while in Cat or Bear form, you have a 15% chance to cause a Fury Swipe dealing 310% weapon damage. This effect cannot occur more than once every 3 seconds.
  • Primal Fury 2/2: Gives a 100% chance to gain an additional 5 Rage anytime you get a critical strike while in Bear form and your critical strikes from Cat form abilities that add combo points have a 100% chance to add an additional combo point.
  • Feral Charge 1/1: Teaches Feral Charge (Bear) and Feral Charge (Cat). Bear – causes you to charge an enemy, immobilizing them for 4 seconds, 15 second cooldown. Cat – causes you to leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds, 30 second cooldown.

This is the spec that I would recommend for level 29, regardless of whether you want to be a Bear tank or a Cat DPS. I have some alternative suggestions down below, in case you like the sound of some of those better for your early leveling. The Feral tree is packed with lots of really cool talents, and depending on what your focus is in game you may prefer one over another.

Feral Swiftness is one of the more iconic talents of the feral spec, allowing you to move faster in Cat form and granting an extra 4% dodge while you’re in a feral form. Increasing your movement speed is often considered a trait of PvP, but it’s a quality of life thing that does have uses in PvE as well. I suggest you spend both of your first points to max this out.

Furor is a stable for every Druid, regardless of spec. For Ferals the main thing is free Rage when shifting into Bear form and not having your Energy drained when shifting into Cat form. It’s a big time saver, and it’s especially useful when tanking so that you’re not constantly having to body pull and start from scratch every time.

Fury Swipes is free damage. Whether that free damage is helping you deal more damage as a Cat, or it’s helping you deal more damage (and thus, more threat) as a Bear, it’s helping no matter what.

Primal Fury is the most changeable talent on my list. It gives you free Rage as a Bear and free combo points as a Cat, which both serve to make you more effective in combat. This is more important for Cats than it is for Bears as oftentimes you can end up with excessive amounts of Rage as a Bear and nothing to dump them into, where a Cat can often end up starved for energy and get better damage on their finishing moves from free combo points without having to spend the energy to generate those points otherwise.

Substitutions:
If you’re going for a straight Cat build and you know you have no interest in tanking, then there are a couple of other choices you might want to consider.

Predatory Strikes 2/2 is a good substitute for points from Furor. It will give you an extra 50% crit chance when using Ravage on targets above 80% health, and give your finishing moves a 20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell an instant cast and cost no mana. This is very much a PvP talent, but it also adds survivability in PvE by giving you access to free and instant healing or crowd control spells.

All four of the talents on the 2nd tier of the Feral tree are good. Infected Wounds 2/2 causes your primary attack skills to slow the target’s movement by 25% and their attack speed by 10% which is great for survival and PvP. Feral Aggression 2/2 increases your Ferocious Bite damage by 10% and causes your Faerie Fire spell to apply all 3 stacks of FF in a single cast.

Glyphs

Prime Glyphs

There’s really no question of which glyph is better for you here. Mangle is your primary attack for both Feral forms. The only time I would settle for Tiger’s Fury is if you can’t find or can’t afford Mangle.

Major Glyphs

If you’re going to participate in Bear tanking, use Maul. If you’re a crazy cat lady, use Ferocious Bite. If you don’t have heirlooms, use Thorns.

Maul gives you no benefit as a Cat, and FerBite gives you no benefit as a Bear, so if you’re going to specialize in one or the other then don’t go for a glyph that does you no good.

Thorns does a lot of damage for a cast-and-forget spell, but only if enemies have enough time to hit you. If you have fully enchanted heirlooms and you’re slaying things in a couple of globals, then Thorns isn’t useful to you either.

Minor Glyphs

I’m going to leave the minor glyphs up to you. Personally, I love the Aquatic Form glyph because I hate moving slow and I love taking advantage of water areas in PvP that my opponents cannot. Dash is another favorite of mine since I’m all about moving faster and doing it often. Unburdened Rebirth is first on the list because in practical terms it’s got the most benefit in the long run if you play with other people in your group.

Gearing Up Your Feral Druid
When choosing your gear your top priority is Agility regardless of being a Cat or a Bear. If you’re a Bear tank then your secondary stat is Stamina. If you’re a Cat, then your secondary stat is Agility.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

Other stats that interest you are: Hit, Crit (Cat), Haste, and Dodge (Bears).

You can get some pretty decent Agility gear from the Leatherworking profession at all levels. It’s the one profession I have never maxed on any of my characters, so I don’t wish it upon anyone, but if you know a LW or have on already then you can get yourself some decent upgrades in advance.

If you like to run dungeons, you can get some pretty nice upgrades.
Ragefire Chasm: Chest, Cloak
Deadmines: Cloak, Weapon, Legs
Wailing Caverns: Chest, Belt, Boots, Legs, Gloves, Shoulders
Shadowfang Keep: Shoulders
Blackfathom Deeps: Legs, Bracers, Weapon, Gloves
Stormwind Stockades: Helm (Alliance only), Boots, Legs
Gnomeregan: Rings, Bracers, Chest (Alliance only),

Macros
At Cynwise’s suggestion, I’ve decided to put the macros for each class on their own page. For Druid macros, simply click on the following link, or look under the Macros menu at the top of this page: Druid Macros.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Druid, Guide, Leveling, Macro, Melee, Player vs Player

 

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Heirloom Farming Methods

[Update 09/17/13: Conversion rates between Honor and Justice Points has been increased from 375>250 to 500>250, causing a significant increase in the amount of farming required.]

Heads Up – F2P Heirloom Guides Coming Soon
During the past couple of weeks I’ve had a lot of increased traffic on my heirlooms guides, and I’ve had more contact from readers than I have for quite a while. With F2P twinking on a rise right now a lot of people are wondering why I haven’t bothered to cover the PvP heirlooms in my guides. In short, I have.

PvP heirlooms, in general, are not as powerful as PvE heirlooms. PvP heirlooms are defined as those that grant a bonus to Resilience, while PvE heirlooms are those that do not. PvP Heirlooms don’t often show up in my guides because they aren’t as good as PvE heirlooms and if I’m going to write a guide then I’m going to do it with optimization in mind.

However, for the sake of all those F2P players, there will be an heirloom guide soon that’s directed specifically at you and how to go about farming heirlooms for each class taking into account the amount of time it takes to farm Honor and the relative value of PvE pieces versus PvP pieces.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post…
There are multiple ways to farm heirlooms in the game right now, some of which are faster than others. Prior to Blizzard making the change that now allows us to convert Justice Points to Honor and vice versa, some of the heirlooms were theoretically out of reach for players that did not take part in the activities that rewarded the type of currency used for the different heirlooms. Thanks to that change though, the heirlooms can be purchased by players who enjoy any combination of questing, PvP, and PvE.

Today we’re going to take a look at the possible farming methods and how quickly you can farm certain heirlooms. First I’ll explain the various farming methods, and then I’ll give my opinion on which methods of farming I suggest for different types of players.

Methods of Farming

Farming Justice Points (JP)
Cataclysm Instances: 140 per dungeon, 7 per week = 980 JP/wk
Cataclysm Heroics: 70 per boss (varies by dungeon)
Weekly Wrath Raid Quest: 138 JP
Honor Conversion: 375 Honor = 250 JP 500 Honor = 250 JP, no limit
To see a full list of the ways to farm JP, see Wowhead’s listing of Justice Points (JP).

Heirloom Costs: Armor 2,175, Shoulders 2,175, Weapons 2,175-3,500, Trinkets 2,725

I mentioned this type of farming first because the Justice Points are the currency for the majority of the heirlooms available, and because between the JP and Honor heirlooms, JP are almost always the better choice.

Easy Farming: As far as easy farming goes, running the seven random Cataclysm dungeons each week is the “easiest” way to farm JP. The few times that I have farmed dungeons for JP, it took me 1-2 evenings worth of LFG to finish all seven. You never know, even in normal dungeons, how good or bad the rest of the team will be in LFG, and you may or may not be able to talk guild members into doing this farm with you to speed it up. [Update: As I am no longer actively playing WoW, I don't know what the easiest way to farm straight JP is right now.]

Fast Farming: The fastest way to farm JP, that I know of, is to actually farm Honor instead and then convert it to JP. A few months couple of years ago Cynwise wrote a post called The Carrot and the Stick which talks about this a bit. Because of how much of each currency you earn in relation to the activities that grant them, you can earn Honor at a significantly faster rate than you can earn JP, making the conversion rate of Honor -> JP faster than farming JP itself. In the time it takes me to farm seven dungeons for just 980 JP, I can farm roughly two whole heirlooms worth of Honor.

Heroic Farming: While most people farm Heroics for extra Valor Points, each heroic boss does reward JP as well. How much JP you get per dungeon depends on how many bosses the dungeon has to offer. Do you want to run dungeons that have seven bosses for more JP/dungeon, or do you want to run dungeons with only 3-4 bosses for more JP/hour? How much time you have to run them is the real deciding factor. If you’re farming Heroics anyway, you might as well get some heirloom profit out of the deal too.

Farming Honor Points
Heirloom Costs: Armor 2,175, Shoulders 2,175, Weapons 2,175-3,500, Trinkets 2,725

The PvP Heirlooms that originally appeared in Wintergrasp are purchased with Honor. In most cases, the PvP heirlooms are not as powerful as the PvE heirlooms. They can be better for PvP at some levels because they all offer Resilience, but they gain that stat at the expense of other stats so in most cases you get better heirlooms from JP than you do from Honor.

The great thing about Honor is that it can be farmed on any toon from level 10 on, which is especially important for free account players since they don’t have access to a character that can farm JP. It’s also good for people on new accounts who like to do PvP while they level since they can buy heirlooms even without having high level characters.

The most efficient way to farm honor is to do so on a high level character because the higher your level (and your opponent’s level) the more Honor you receive, and the higher your level the higher the Honor rewards are from completing battleground tasks such as capturing flags/nodes or destroying towers/gates/NPC Leaders. But, just because you get more honor at high levels than you do at low doesn’t mean you can’t farm for heirlooms on low level toons.

Honor Farming Without PvP: There are two ways you can farm Honor without doing any actual PvP. First is the Wintergrasp daily quests which each reward 24 Honor. The only quests there that require some form of PvP are the ones that want you to destroy enemy siege vehicles or to protect your own siege vehicles, all others can be done with no PvP at all (you can kill NPC’s for the one that asks for 10 kills). Winning Wintergrasp gives you Honor as well, and since Cataclysm I have not seen more than 8 people in WG at one time, making the battles extremely fast and easy. Losing Wintergrasp should give you honor as well, but I honestly haven’t lost in Wintergrasp since Cataclsym so I have no idea how much it is.

If you control Wintergrasp then you can take advantage of the second type of PvP’less Honor farming, which is Northrend dungeons. While your faction controls WG, all Northrend dungeon bosses reward Honor in addition to their normal rewards. During Wrath you got Stonekeeper Shards for killing the bosses while in control of WG, but with the currency consolidation of Cataclysm those shards were converted to Honor.

Thirdly we have Northrend’s PvP Daily Quests in areas such as Grizzly Hills’ Venture Bay. You will get flagged for PvP while you do some of these quests, so it’s possible that you’re opening yourself up to being ganked by passers by, but in my experience most of Northrend is pretty well dead right now and you shouldn’t have a problem. This honor grind isn’t especially fast, but it is a way to farm honor and gold at the same time, and one of these quests in particular is infinitely repeatable for 9 honor each time. It’s the quest that makes you pick up a small container of something that causes you to move incredibly slow while carrying it, so it does get very boring but at least it’s possible.

Fast Farming: If you want Honor fast there are a few options. Tol Barad is first on the list because it gives high amounts of honor regardless of win or loose, it’s typically finished quickly, and so many people are killed in such short bursts of time that Honor adds up fairly quick. Second is the Call to Arms (CtA) and/or Random BG queues. Call to Arms is most beneficial when it’s applied to battlegrounds that are already known for high honor rewards such as Alterac Valley (AV), Strand of the Ancients (SotA), and Isle of the Crusader (IoC). Call to Arms happens every weekend, while during the week your only option for bonus Honor is Random BG queues. [Update: TB is still a decent source of Honor, but now almost nobody actually goes there so it does take time and you'll often end up there alone and you may be the only person there the whole time or you might find yourself up against a group of 4-5 people with the same idea and you get slaughtered. Still a decent source of honor considering time investment, but it's not exactly fun these days.]

Wintergrasp is still a fairly decent place to farm up some quick Honor by doing the quests and scoring a victory. It’s an easy place to score a quick 200 or so Honor.

Farming Champion’s Seals
Seals/Day from Daily Quests: 14
Seals/Day from Heroic ToC: 3
Heirloom Costs: Armor 60, Shoulders 60, Weapons 60-95, Trinkets 75

The heirlooms that you purchase with Champion’s Seals are the same that you purchase with Justice Points.

In order to farm Champion Seals you need to have completed the full quest line in the Argent Tournament located in Icecrown. Once you’ve opened all of the quest lines you need to select the Champion’s Purse as your reward for all of the daily quests as each one rewards a single Champion’s Seal. You’ll also get another three from doing a full clear of Heroic ToC each day.

You can easily get 14 Seals per day solo, and may or may not need help clearing H-ToC. If you just do the daily quests then you can earn a new heirloom piece every 5-6 days. It’s a slow process compared to the other types of heirloom farming, but it does offer other side benefits such as earning gold and racial faction reputation, and extra Seals can go towards purchasing pets and mounts.

If you’re not in a hurry to farm heirlooms with this method, then just doing the daily quests and skipping the Heroic ToC clears. Doing this will add 1-3 days of farming per heirloom. I haven’t tried to solo H-ToC, so I don’t know how easy or hard it might be. With level 85 characters I suspect that it will be fairly easy to two-man the heroic version.

Farming Guild Reputation
Available Heirlooms: Cloaks and Helms
Heirloom Cost: 1,200g (Cloaks), 1,350g (Helms)

This grind is a different type of grind. Rather than earning rewards that you use to purchase the heirlooms this grind rewards you with the ability to purchase them in the first place. Both of these types of heirlooms are purchased with gold, and both require you to be Honored with your guild. Your guild itself must also be level 10 to unlock the Cloaks for purchase, and level 20 to unlock the Helms.

This is the only way to get access to heirloom cloaks and helms, and I suspect that Blizzard will keep it that way.

For some people 1,200g is nothing at all, while for others it really can be quite a grind. When you look at purchasing all of the different helms and cloaks available those numbers can really add up quick as well. There are a lot of different ways to earn gold in WoW, and I’m not about to go into details on the various ways. If you want easy gold farming, do your daily quests at level 85. If you want a bit more work, start playing the auction house. If that’s not enough, start playing the auction house while maximizing your characters professions and flipping potentially lucrative items.

Farming Fish
Required Fishing Skill: 1+

There’s only one fish farming heirloom, but it’s also the only way to obtain this heirloom and the only one of its kind as of the current patch (4.2).

The Dread Pirate Ring requires you to win the Kalu’ak Fishing Derby which takes place every Saturday at 2 PM server time, lasting for 1 hour or until someone claims the prize. In order to win you must be the first person to catch and return the Blacktip Shark to the quest giver. You can catch the shark in any Northrend fishing pool, and there is no specific rank of fishing required in order to catch it. If you decide to farm for this heirloom, be aware that this tournament typically lasts for less than 10 minutes.

If you’re serious about farming for this ring, I suggest you do a little research before hand. If you would like to know how to best go about winning this tournament, I direct you to the master fishermen of El’s Extreme Anglin’.

Farming Suggestions

In this section I want to address you, the reader, to help you decide what kind of farming might be best suited to your particular playstyle.

Raiders
If you classify yourself primarily as a raider, then you’re likely in the habit of running heroic dungeons, and you probably hit the JP cap regularly. If this is the case, then farming for heirlooms is part of your normal activities (as you likely are already aware). In addition to your regular Heroic runs though, try to add in the seven Normal dungeon runs each week as well. As a raider you likely have gear that far outclasses the normal dungeons, which should make running them significantly faster (especially if you have a full group of raiders running them).

If you’re in a guild where the players who raid are set and you’re already geared far beyond heroics and JP purchases, then your next best option is most likely PvP. If you’re already fully geared beyond the usefulness of heroics then you’re probably sick of seeing the dungeons and can’t stand the thought of farming them anyway and PvP could provide a nice change of scenery for you.

Also keep in mind that the Honor -> JP conversion doesn’t have to wait until you have an entire heirloom’s worth of Honor. If you have 2,000 JP and you’re trying to buy an heirloom that costs 2,175 then the fastest way for you to get those extra points is probably going to be a quick trip to Tol Barad which should get you more than enough Honor for a single conversion that will give you another 250 JP to get that purchase. Mixing and matching activities like this doesn’t hold you back in farming for heirlooms. Just keep an eye on how much you need versus how easy it is to obtain more and what you have the time to do.

Some raiders like to enjoy their downtime away from the raid and take it easy. For you I suggest the Argent Tournament farming of Champion’s Seals. There’s a good chance that those of you who fall into this category have already farmed this area for every mount and pet it has to offer, but it’s still a legitimate method of heirloom farming if you’re still looking for heirlooms.

PvP Haters
People who can’t stand PvP, like my wife, will most likely stick to farming Heroic dungeons and/or the seven weekly normal dungeons for their Justice Points. Since you’re not going to participate in PvP, the next best option to dungeons is going to be the Argent Tournament.

If you fall into this category, refer to the Raider category directly above. You’ll follow that same advice, minus the PvP portion. Since you’re not into PvP, you have little reason to bother with even looking at the PvP heirlooms. However, there are still three items that the PvP vendors offer that don’t have an equivalent item from the PvE vendors: Battleworn Thrash Blade (procs extra, free attacks), Pristine Lightforge Spaulders (plate caster shoulders), and Inherited Insignia of the Horde/Alliance (PvP trinket with Resilience).

Of those three items, the one you’re most likely going to be interested in is the Pristine Lightforge Spaulders as they are the only piece of plate-caster heirloom armor in the game. You may or may not be concerned about the Thrash Blade, it’s a good weapon if you like to use enchants that proc, but even then it’s outclassed by most of the JP heirlooms regardless. Very few of you will be interested in the Insignia as it’s a PvP trinket and very little PvE content has enough crowd control for you to concern yourself with having it.

PvP Lovers
If you’re into PvP, then you’re already on the fast track for heirloom collecting. Arenas aren’t going to help you with heirlooms unless the season is about to restart. Arenas award Conquest Points which cannot be used to purchase heirlooms. Non-Rated Battlegrounds are the primary source of Honor points, and that’s what you need for heirlooms.

Most Honor heirlooms are overall weaker than the Justice Point heirlooms. While most of the stats will be either the same or very close to one another, the Honor heirlooms replace one or more attributes from the JP versions with a bonus to Resilience (a PvP stat for those that aren’t aware). That’s why PvE heirlooms are usually more powerful than their PvP counterparts, because Resilience isn’t always useful (especially in PvE where it’s almost worthless).

If you’re going to farm for the PvE heirloom via PvP activities, you’ll have to convert your Honor into Justice Points to buy them. It costs 375 Honor to purchase 250 Justice Points, so you’re taking a 33% loss during the conversion. That’s a pretty hefty conversion fee, but you can still farm Honor more than 33% faster than you can farm JP, so you’re still ahead in terms of time investment.

Most heirlooms have a similar item on the other side of the PvP/PvE fence, but not all of them. A couple of the items that are PvP only are: Battleworn Thrash Blade (procs extra, free attacks), Pristine Lightforge Spaulders (plate caster shoulders), and Inherited Insignia of the Horde/Alliance (PvP trinket with Resilience). For those three items you need to farm Honor instead of JP, so if you want those then you’re already on the right side of that fence and don’t need to bother with a conversion fee.

You should also consider running at least some of the seven weekly dungeon runs that award Justice Points. Most of these can be done in a reasonable amount of time and doing a couple of them back to back should give you a BG or two worth of JP after conversion. If you can’t stand LFG and you don’t have guildmates that want to run normals, then by all means forget about these and stick to PvP.

Solo Gamers, Questers, and Altoholics
If you fall into this category then there’s no clear cut path that you’re going to follow by definition of this classification. If you like PvP at all, then PvP is your fastest source of heirlooms with the assumption that you don’t mind doing quite a bit of PvP. If you’re the type that likes to dip their toes into a bit of everything then you’re actually in a pretty good spot for heirloom farming because you can get all of the different types of currency and use them as needed.

While doing straight PvP farming is faster than doing straight PvE farming, the fastest method possible is to actually combine the two methods by taking advantage of all of the options that grant large amounts of JP and Honor. Take advantage of Tol Barad when you see it up. If you don’t like PvP much, try to stick to the large groups and assist the other people rather than running off and doing your own thing. You can also help in TB by driving the siege vehicles to the towers if you’re on offense or going to destroy those siege vehicles if you’re on defense. Take advantage of Wintergrasp as well, as participation is usually very low which means victory is often easy, and the quests there are very quick and easy to do for extra Honor.

Whether or not you participate in the Argent Tournament is up to you. Since these types of players are more likely to spend time on multiple characters, you may or may not feel that a third form of farming is worth your time. JP and Honor can both be mixed and matched as needed because of the conversion, where Seals are Seals are Seals, end of story. On the other hand, doing these dailies on multiple characters every day means you can get basically one heirloom every week per character. So if you have three characters that will farm all of the quests, then you’ll be able to buy roughly three heirlooms every week. It might not be as effective at mass farming as PvP or dungeon runs, but it’s also less time intensive and can be done here and there as you have time as opposed to long stretches dedicated to dungeons or BG’s.

Trial Accounts
Your only option for getting heirlooms is to farm Honor in battlegrounds. F2P accounts that participate in PvP are twinks even if they don’t want to be twinks because those accounts are forced into the 20-24 twink bracket. Farming Honor can be a real struggle for you, especially if you’re only getting WSG queues and have problems with capturing flags.

Warsong Gulch is the single-worst battleground in the entire game for honor rewards, and farming kills by camping the graveyard does almost nothing to counter this fact. If you are on a trial account and are specifically farming honor to get heirlooms queue for Arathi Basin. Do everything in your power to get the gold together to buy your mount, and then go to AB.

When the time comes to decide whether you want PvE heirlooms or PvP heirlooms, there are a couple of things to consider. First there are some PvP pieces that while lacking secondary stats do have higher +Stamina values which might be appealing to you. Second is that PvE heirlooms cost significantly more than PvP heirlooms because of the 33% conversion fee. To give you an idea, take a look at the comparison below of Honor values between both types of heirlooms.

Honor Values
PvP Heirlooms: Armor 2,175, Shoulders 2,175, Weapons 2,175-3,500, Trinkets 2,725
PvE Heirlooms: Armor 3,375, Shoulders 3,375, Weapons 3,375-5,250, Trinkets 4,125

As you can see, once the conversion is taken into account, that’s a lot of honor farming on a character who might average anywhere from 30-150 honor per game. Also, keep in mind that if you are going to do the JP conversion, there’s still an Honor cap of 4,000 so if you get anywhere close to that number you need to start converting to JP so that you don’t end up losing honor from already being capped. Only the cheapest JP heirlooms can be purchased with a small enough amount of honor that you won’t break the Honor cap.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Caster, Guide, Leveling, Melee, Play Styles, Player vs Player

 

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New Heirlooms in 4.3

In Patch 4.3 the Darkmoon Faire is going to get a nice little revamp (details here). I’ve never been too big on the faire beyond abusing the vendors there to get high selling mats for cheap vendor prices that I could toss on the AH for a quick, easy profit. My lack of interest almost made me ignore the information regarding the faire, but I was bored anyway (and about to leave work for the day) so I figured I might as well take a look.

Most of what the notes mentioned weren’t bad, but nothing that would get me otherwise interested in the DMF, until I stumbled onto this:

“We have adorable companion pets inludin’ a fez-wearing monkey, a plethora of profession recipes, toys, balloons, souvenirs, delectable carnival snacks and beverages, heirlooms for the little ones, and even replicas of long-lost suits of armor that we’re offering for your Transmogrification needs.”

Unfortunately for us, there’s no more mention of heirlooms in the article, so we don’t know for sure what it refers to. It could be new heirlooms, it could be existing heirlooms, or it could be other items all together that they simply used the word to describe. Without the details, one can only hope and imagine.

But wait… we do have details!
Turn the page to find out more…

 

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WoW Ironman Challenge

Yesterday on twitter, Vrykerion asked: “How far do you think you could make it in WoW without ever equipping a green or higher item or spending a single talent point?”

I’ve asked myself similar questions before, so after mulling it over for a second I threw out my initial thoughts, “@Vrykerion depends very heavily on your class. I bet I could make it to Outlands at least in all whites/trash.” Which, to clarify, was me saying that I’m sure I could get to Outlands with every single class, but how far beyond that you could go would depend on the class.

We got a few more people to chime in on that discussion as well, during which I accepted the challenge and gave it a name: The WoW Ironman Challenge. Several of us talked about what rules should apply to such a challenge and then Vrykarion made it all official in his post (link in the challenge name).

Deciding to take this challenge means you have to choose your class, and to a somewhat lesser extent, your race.

The Rules
1. Use only white/grey items.
2. No spending talent points. No specialization at level 10. (Regular skill training is fine.)
2. No Primary or Secondary Professions other than First Aid.
3. No means of XP boosting (No Recruit-A-Friend, No Guild, and obviously no Heirlooms)
4. No consumable bonuses (food, potions, elixirs, etc) – Rogue Poisons allowed
5. No enchants.
6. No Groups. (Since clarification was requested: That means no dungeons, no Dungeon Finder, no battlegrounds, no anything that puts you in a group and no grouping up with people to quest or anything.)
7. No Death Knights.
8. No Glyphs

There you have it. No gear with stats on it (including enchants), no talent points or spec. No means of increasing your experience gains or having other people helping you. No items that boost your stats at all, including consumables. No professions other than First Aid.

We’re currently discussing whether Rogue’s should be allowed to use Poisons and whether or not we’re going to allow Glyphs to be used. Poisons fall under the category of consumables, but they’re also the Rogue’s form of class buffs (though why Blizzard doesn’t make them spells like the Shaman instead of purchased goods is beyond me). Glyphs we just overlooked initially so we’re bringing it up now just to be sure we’ve got everything covered. Updated with the answers to these questions. Rogue poisons will be allowed. Glyphs will not be allowed.

Initial Thoughts
My first thought with this was Troll Hunter. Hunter being the top choice because you can kite for days while dealing solid damage which can pretty well negate all of the disadvantages of taking the challenge in the first place. Troll because they deal extra damage to beasts as well as having increased regeneration which would further increase the advantages while minimizing the disadvantages.

I don’t think there’s an easier choice available for a challenge like this. Pet classes have a clear advantage since the pet can make up for some of your loss of damage, while also adding a level of defense. Casters would follow next, and melee bringing up the rear.

Horde racial abilities would be more helpful as they increase damage output. Some Alliance racials could prove rather useful, Draenei healing and Night Elf defenses in particular.

Races
I’ve had a fair amount of information concerning races on this blog over the years, and my time spent with twinks has made my racial min/maxing second nature. Generally speaking, Horde races have aggressive racial abilities that would help them in this challenge by adding power in combat that is otherwise lacking from gear without any stats. Alliance races typically have defensive racial abilities that would help them in the opposite manner, helping them survive the longer encounters.

Without going too much into detail, let’s look at the advantage that each race would bring to this particular challenge:

Alliance
Draenei: +1% Hit, 20% heal over 15 seconds,
Dwarf: +1% Crit with guns, 10% damage reduction that also removes poison/disease/bleed effects
Gnome: +5% mana pool
Human: +3% Spirit
Night Elf: -2% chance of being hit, Shadowmeld to allow combat reset
Worgen: +1% crit

Horde
Blood Elf: Defensive silence that also restores 6% mana or 15 Rage/Focus/Energy
Goblin: +1% Haste, can launch a rocket to deal ranged Fire damage
Orc: Increased Attack Power and Spell Power for 15 seconds, +5% pet damage
Tauren: +5% Health, 2 second AoE stun
Troll: +5% damage to beasts, +1% crit with bows/thrown, +10% health regeneration, +20% haste for 10 seconds
Undead: Restore 35% health and mana by consuming a corpse

The racial traits I listed are ones that help with this challenge in particular by providing stats you otherwise don’t have access to because of the gear restrictions, or which provide a benefit which can make up for that lack of gear-based stats.

Classes
Class choice is the most important piece of this puzzle. Choosing the right class can make this challenge much less challenging while choosing the wrong class can make it very difficult. In general, pet classes will have the most advantage followed by casters and then melee classes.

Pet classes (Hunters and Warlocks) have an advantage not only because they have a pet adding to their damage dealing or which can take hits for them, but also because they are more easily able to kite mobs which will allow them to eventually kill the targets no matter how low their own defenses may be. The Hunter is the top dog here because their spells are based on Focus, rather than mana, which restores itself over time which means that they can literally kite a mob for as long as it take them to kill it.

Casters have an advantage over melee because their damage is only based on their stats, both for the power of the spells as well as how many times they can cast it from a limited mana pool. Melee classes still have their power based on their stats, but their damage is based very strongly on their weapon damage. For some level ranges that’s not going to be much of an issue, but in the second half of Vanilla content some classes are extremely limited in their weapon selection for this challenge, which is going to make those level ranges significantly more difficult than they otherwise would be.

Druid: great versatility, great healing, good kiting, decent crowd control
Hunter: fantastic kiting, pet assistance, non-stat-based energy source
Mage: some kiting ability, great crowd control, “free” damage via Arcane Missiles, good buff spells
Paladin: great healing, great buff spells
Priest: great buffs, great healing, poor mana management
Rogue: good survivability, non-stat energy source
Shaman: good heals, great buffs, best stat versatility
Warlock: pet class, great crowd control, somewhat easily renewable energy source
Warrior: non-stat energy source, “free” healing, good buffs

My thoughts on how these classes are ranked, from easiest to hardest: Hunter, Warlock, Druid, Mage, Shaman, Warrior, Paladin, (Death Knight), Rogue, Priest.

I put the DK in there, even though we’ve disqualified them, because I think that’s where they would stand if you were to immediately replace all of their gear with grey/white items after rolling them and before doing any quests.

Research
Last night I did a little research on weapons, looking primarily at ranged weapons for Hunters and at interesting items I could use in slots such as jewelry. I had both better and worse results that I had expected going in.

For most classes, the weapon you use is going to be pretty key to your performance; casters being the exception. I knew going into it that low level white/grey weapons would be pretty easy to find because that’s what most of the gear at that level is until you start getting into greens and then blues from dungeon drops. I wasn’t expecting their availability to drop quite so drastically in the 30’s though.

Ranged weapons are pretty common up to level 31 at which point they become nearly non-existent until you reach Outlands. From level 31-59 there are only four ranged weapons available, and all four of them are trash items that drop from mobs, and the only one that has more than a 4% drop rate only has a higher (7%) drop rate if you kill elite mobs for it.

Once you get to level 60 you can buy a weapon that should serve just fine through all of the Outlands content, and other vendor weapons open up at 70 to get you through most of Wrath content. The best ranged weapons you can get for this challenge come from Cataclysm dungeons and raids, and can be equipped at level 74. They offer almost twice the DPS of everything you can get in Wrath content (101.6 DPS vs. 55.9). The bad news is, those level 74 trash drops are the best option you’ll have for the rest of the challenge.

I haven’t had a chance yet to do my research on the other classes, but I’ll get there before too long. For casters I’ll be looking at armor since weapons will be nearly pointless for all of them (Shaman and Druids being the exception). For melee classes I’m looking mostly at weapons since they are key.

Now You Tell Me
While my initial thoughts were to roll a Troll Hunter to overcome as much of the challenge’s pitfalls as I could, I’ve not actually decided what I’m going to roll for this challenge. I’m not sure yet whether I’m only going to do this once, or if I’m going to do it on multiple toons, either. Maybe I should go with the Hunter to see the challenge on easy mode and do another class as well to see just how hard it can really be.

I want your opinions on this challenge, though. What do you think will be good race and class combinations for this challenge? What combinations would you like to see me attempt with this? If you’re going to join in the fun, what combination(s) are you going to try out yourself?

I wouldn’t mind doing this on more than one toon, as I think it’s an interesting way to level the character that can show you how powerful a class truly is, or isn’t.

If you decide to join us in the Ironman Challenge, keep us informed of your progress through comments, email, twitter, or a blog of your own if you have one. I’m also opening my Notebook to anyone who accepts the challenge and would like to guest post their experiences with it here on my blog.

 

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Priest Leveling: 30-49 Holy

Project High Heals
Holy Priest 1-29

Today we’re going to take a look at the next level range for Holy Priests. I’ve been doing quite well on my Holy Priest, Psynister. In the project High Heals portfolio he’s intended to do most of his leveling via dungeons, though that has slowed down for him a bit since getting to Outlands. Queues are taking quite a while, and it’s actually DPS slots that are hard to fill. I guess everyone’s busy leveling tanks and healers right now.

That’s the short and sweet update on Psynister, now lets take a closer look at how to level your own Holy Priest.

Playing a Holy Priest
As I mentioned in the first Holy Priest post, I was a little concerned about leveling a Priest and doing so with a healing spec. Most of that came from their low level problems with mana, but also because I knew my damage was going to suck. My recent experience leveling a Shadow Priest helped me overcome the first of those, while I found the second to not be nearly as bad as I was anticipating.

I don’t hesitate to say that low level PvP as Holy really sucked. I did a pretty fair amount of PvP on Psynister, though of coarse not as much as I did random dungeons. I found that in early PvP I just didn’t have the output on either the healing or killing side of of the fence to really do much of anything. Either my heals were crap, or I ran out of mana too fast to really be useful, or the opponents saw me healing and focused me down. Life in PvP as Holy is freaking hard.

Healing dungeons is, of course, where I definitely shined. Most dungeons I can heal almost entirely with Power Word: Shield and Renew, with a few Heal casts thrown in from time to time to help keep the tank topped off “just in case”. When the group was doing well with agro I had no problems at all. When DPS started to pull threat though, things got pretty chaotic and my mana issues really started to show. In dungeons where AoE damage exists it’s just downright brutal. Priests don’t have access to AoE healing at this level, the best you can do is throw bubbles/renew on multiple targets and hope for the best, but that drains your mana quick. (There’s another answer, called Lightwell, but I’ll get in to that later.)

Otherwise, I found playing a Holy Priest to be very fun in Dungeons, not so much in PvP, but also surprisingly powerful in questing.

Holy-Specific Tips
Leveling as Holy isn’t too dissimilar from leveling as any other spec, it’s all in how you go about doing it. The most important thing to remember early on is not to waste your mana. Once you’ve got the mana management under control there’s no stopping you.

Questing – Your biggest hurdle in questing is your damage. You get almost nothing to buff your damage output as Holy, because you’re basically designed to be a healer. Using the Glyph of Smite becomes key for that reason, because increasing your damage output means you’re also spending less mana. Originally I had taken the Engineering profession to make use of explosives as a way to both increase my damage and decrease my mana consumption, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that it wasn’t necessary so I switched his professions.

Healing – Power Word: Shield and Renew are your best friends in this level range. I usually trade off between using those two, casting the next when the first wears off. Flash Heal is usually a waste of your mana, so you really want to save this for when there’s a real emergency. Heal is a great spell that I do use quite a bit thanks to its low mana cost. Mana is still an issue in the lower portion of this level range, so do your best not to using healing spells when they aren’t needed. You don’t have to top everyone off all the time if they’re not taking enough damage to require it.

Remember that your job as a healer is to help your group live long enough to kill the mobs. It’s not your job to see that everyone in the group has full health all the time, and it’s not your job to make sure nobody ever dies, you’re just there to keep people up until victory is achieved. Heal those who need healing in order for the group to be victorious. If you have a high DPS player who’s constantly pulling threat and causing you to spent a ton of mana to keep both them and the tank alive, let them die. You’re not there to enable morons, so save your mana for heals that matter and resurrect him when it’s over.

PvP – In PvP you’re usually going to need to rely more on your expensive heals and cut back on the slow, cheap heals. Bubbles and Flash Heals are very common in PvP, so expect to see your mana fluctuate a lot. In the 40’s you’re going to face Rogues, Warriors, Feral Druids, and Ret Paladins that are going to destroy you and everyone else. Melee DPS is incredibly powerful in the 40’s, so much so that I’m almost to the point that I refuse to even take part in PvP if my character is in the 40’s brackets.

Important Spells & Abilities
Note that all numeric values are taken from the level 29 version of the spell for the purposes of this post.

Level 30-39

  • Shackle Undead (32): Shackles the target undead enemy for up to 50 seconds. The shackled unit is unable to move, attack, or cast spells. Any damage caused will release the target. Only one target can be shackled at a time.
  • Shadow Word: Death (32): A word of dark binding that inflicts Shadow damage to the target. Deals three times as much damage to targets below 25% health. If the target is not killed by SW:Death, the caster takes damage equal to the damage inflicted upon the target.
  • Levitate (34): Allows the friendly party or raid target to levitate, floating a few feet above the ground. While levitating, the target will fall at a reduced speed and travel over water. Any damage will cancel the effect. Lasts 10 minutes.
  • Mind Vision (36): Allows the caster to see through the target’s eyes for 1 minute. Will not work if the target is in another instance or on another continent.
  • Greater Heal (38): A slow casting spell that heals a single target for 992 to 1152.
  • Mind Control (38): Controls a humanoid mind up to level 52, but increases the time between its attacks by 25%. Lasts up to 30 seconds.

I went ahead and listed Shackle Undead just because it’s really the only form of CC that you have access to. You’re not very likely to cast this while you’re leveling save for a few zones scattered here and there. There are a few dungeons that it’s useful in, such as Scholomance and Stratholme, but most of the time this spell is pretty useless. But, when you find yourself healing a group in Strath and the stupid tank refuses to taunt the stinking skeletons flinging Frostbolts at your face, a shackle will shut them down.

SW:Death is a great spell for finishing off targets who are low on health. The real benefit of the spell though is when you combine it with the Glyph of Spirit Tap, which causes SW:Death to restore 12% of your total mana when you kill a target with SW:Death. I suggest you grab that glyph the second you train this spell and start practicing the art of stealing all the killing blows. Just make sure you don’t accidentally kill yourself when casting it.

Levitate is a pretty cool buff, I especially like it for being able to walk on water. If you’ve ever read my Mage guides, you’ll also know I have a deep love for things that let me jump off of cliffs or dismount in midair and survive, so I love casting this thing all the time. The only drawback – you can’t jump when it’s active and that bugs me something fierce.

Mind Vision is a really cool spell, one that I absolutely love for PvP. Need to find out where your EFC is going to so you can heal him? Mind Vision! Need to know where the EFC is hiding so you can direct the assault team? Mind Vision! Need to help a group of clueless PUG’s in LFG find their way back to the group? Mind Vision!!! I use LFG a lot, and I’m real big on farming low level content for drops, mats, or to rush lowbies through it. This means I’m very familiar with almost every dungeon map and can guide people to the group through almost any of them. I had to do it twice in Scholomance as many players who started in late BC or after have never even been there.

Greater Heal takes a while to cast, but it’s the single largest heal we have. I typically use this on a tank who’s low on hit points, right after I bubble him, or when he’s currently immune to a new bubble and needs a large heal.

Mind Control is one of the most enjoyable spells we have. There are few things I love doing more in PvP than making someone jump off of a cliff and die. In PvE I like to use it in dungeons to injure certain adds, pull additional mobs, or provide my own group with buffs from the mob. You probably won’t use it a whole lot as a healer outside of PvP, but it can definitely be fun to play with. In places like Alterac Valley, it’s especially fun to Mind Control the enemy tank or healer and then watch your mini-boss destroy people.

Level 40-49

  • Prayer of Healing (44): A powerful prayer heals the friendly target’s party members within 30 yards for 367 to 387.
  • Binding Heal (48): Heals a friendly target and the caster for 564 to 724. Low threat.

Prayer of Healing is your first real AoE healing spell. It’s not great, but it’s pretty much like casting Heal on everyone at the same time. The good thing is, you’re getting that healing out to the whole team, the bad thing is, the heal itself is relatively weak. At this level range though, it will likely save you from a wipe if you need it. A very important note about this spell though, especially for PvP, is that it does not require line of sight to heal your team, so you can use it to heal through walls.

Binding Heal is a great spell. It costs the same amount of mana and cast time as Flash Heal so it’s definitely not cheap, but it heals for just a little bit less than Flash Heal and that healing hits both you and your target. It’s like poor man’s AoE, healing two targets instead of an actual area. The special thing to note about Binding Heal is that both of its heals essentially count as individual healing effects for the purpose of most procs that trigger off of healing or critical effects.

Leveling a Holy Priest

  • Questing Single Mob: Mind Blast, (HW: Chastise), Holy Fire, Smite spam, SW: Death
  • Questing Multi-Mob: [target 1] Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, [target 2] Mind Blast, Holy Fire, Smite spam, [when possible] SW: Death

Questing Single Mob
I pull with Mind Blast mostly because it’s cheap on mana and it has a short cast time. I often follow that up with Holy Word: Chastise to take advantage of it’s stunning effect while I cast the next spell, but with a 30 second cooldown it’s not always available and I don’t worry about it. Holy Fire does good damage with a short cast time, and it applies a DoT debuff. That debuff allows the Glyph of Smite to activate which increases Smite damage, which you’ll cast repeatedly (spam) until the target is dead or near death. At that point you want to finish off the target with Shadow Word: Death. Another of our glyphs, Glyph of Spirit Tap, restores 12% of your base mana over time when you kill a target with SW:Death.

If you’re healing in a dungeon you’ll use a similar rotation for damage if your tank has a lot of survivability and doesn’t need much healing. Whether you’re going to deal damage in dungeons or not, you still want to snipe every killing blow you can with SW:Death casts so that you can get the 12% mana regeneration from the Glyph of Spirit Tap. If you’re not using that glyph, then you don’t need to worry about getting the killing blows, but if you have mana issues then this is your most reliable solution.

Questing Multi-Mob
When I’m facing multiple mobs as Holy I do go ahead and use my DoT’s, but only on a single target. DoT the first target, burn the second one down, and then finish off the first with Smite spam. If you pull more than two, then still just DoT the first target and then leave him alone while you focus on the others so that your DoT’s can actually deal their damage and be worth the mana it costs to cast them.

The higher you get in level though, the less useful those DoT’s become. Now that I’m in Outland I find that casting those DoT’s doesn’t deal anywhere near enough damage to justify their mana cost, and they do very little in the way of actually helping me through the encounter or killing mobs faster. Damage is damage, but I don’t know that I’m actually saving any time at all by using them.

At this level rang, though, the DoT’s are at least pretty decent so go ahead and use them, but feel free to use your mana on bubbles/heals instead and just burn them down one at a time.

How to Heal: 49 Holy Priest
When you’re actually filling your healing role rather than questing it’s probably a good idea for you to have a clue how to actually, you know, heal. The numbers in the next section are based on the level 49 version of the spell, unmodified by talents or gear.

Healing Spells
Flash Heal: 28% base mana, 1.5 second cast, heals for 744-864
Power Word: Shield: 34% base mana, instant cast, absorbs damage
Renew: 17% base mana, instant cast, heals 145 every 3 sec for 12 sec.
Heal: 9% base mana, 3 second cast, heals for 372-432
Greater Heal: 27% base mana, 3 second cast, heals for 992-1152
Prayer of Healing: 26% base mana, 2.5 second cast, heals party members within 30 yards for 367-387
Binding Heal: 28% base mana, 1.5 second cast, heals target and caster for 564-724

Resurrect: 60% base mana, 10 second cast, non-combat resurrection
Cure Disease: 16% base mana, instant cast, removes 1 disease
Dispel Magic: 16% base mana, instant cast, removes 2 harmful magic effects

Your most expensive spell as a healer continues to be PW:Shield. The damage that it absorbs is pretty significant even though you’re not using a Discipline spec. I do use this quite a bit, but rarely will I use it on anyone other than the tank or myself. Flash Heal and Binding Heal are tied for the next highest base mana cost, and for cast time as well. Flash Heal restores more health to the single target, but Binding Heal restores almost the same amount of health and does so to both you and your target making it my usual preference if I’ve taken any damage at all.

Greater Heal is next on the list of highest mana cost, but it’s the single largest heal you have available to you. Talent points can cause some of your other heals (Flash and Binding) to reduce both the cast time and mana cost of this spell which can really help if you need to put out a lot of healing a short amount of time. It does have a long cast time, but the heal is worth it if you have either a bubble or a renew up to help bide the time you need to get this big boy off.

Prayer of Healing comes next, and thank the Light we finally have some AoE heals! Granted, it doesn’t heal for all that much, but it’s a shorter cast time than Heal and restores roughly the same amount of health as a Heal, except it does it to your entire party. Also, this heal does not require line of sight to heal your party, which is extremely useful in PvP especially. You can use this when fighting bosses in AV by standing on the other side of a wall or even outside the building all together. You can use it in Arenas when you’re pillar humping, or in WSG when your flag carrier is on the roof and you’re down in the flag room.

Talent Spec: 49 Holy Priest

  • Holy Concentration (+2) 3/3: Increases the amount of mana regenerated from Spirit while in combat by an additional 30%.
  • Divine Touch 2/2: Your Renew will instantly heal the target for 10% of the total periodic effect.
  • Lightwell 1/1: Creates a Holy Lightwell. Friendly players can click the Lightwell to restore health of 6 seconds. Attacks done to you equal to 30% of your total health will cancel the effect. Lightwell lasts for 3 minutes or 10 charges.
  • Spirit of Redemption 1/1: Upon death, the priest becomes the Spirit of Redemption for 15 seconds. The Spirit of Redemption cannot move, attack, be attacked or targeted by any spells or effects. While in this form the priest can cast any healing spell free of cost. When the effect ends, the priest dies.
  • Serendipity 2/2: When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 20% and mana cost reduced by 10%. Stacks up to 2 times. Lasts 20 seconds.
  • Inspiration 2/2: Reduces your target’s physical damage taken by 20% for 15 seconds after getting a critical effect form your Flash Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Penance, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing, or Circle of Healing spell.
  • Chakra 1/1: When activated, your next Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Mind Spike or Smite will put you into a Chakra state (see below).

With mana problems still plaguing you, Holy Concentration can be a real Light-sent blessing by increases your mana regeneration during combat. I chose to go with Divine Touch next since Renew was still one of my primary forms of healing at that level, and having it heal for 10% of its effect right when you cast it gives us both a small form of instant healing as well as allowing the rotation of bubble > renew > bubble to be even more effective.

I decided to pick up Lightwell next because I finally started to get into situations where healing more than one person at a time was really important and not just because people were being stupid. When you get into dungeons in your 30’s and 40’s, particularly Scholomance, you’re going to start facing AoE damage a lot more. You’ll see some of that in instances like Shadowfang Keep earlier, and Maraudon later on as well. While Lightwell doesn’t actually provide any AoE healing, it does allow your entire party to get their own HoT effect on demand by clicking to activate it, and it really has become a wonderful addition to my healing abilities.

I decided to go ahead and pick up Spirit of Redemption (or Fail Angel as it’s often called) next, mostly because I was getting th crap kicked out of me in PvP and wanted some options to heal when things went bad for us, and also because I had a string of random queues where the freaking tanks had no idea what a taunt was nor how to generate AoE threat which meant my face was served up as an appetizer. Being able to heal even after you’re dead seems like more of a raid tool, but it really does help in other situations as well.

Serendipity is the talent I mentioned earlier in the article that allows you to reduce the casting time and mana cost of your Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing. The main reason I took this was, again, because of our otherwise lack of AoE healing abilities. When things get hairy I try to Flash Heal/Binding Heal the two most injured target, and then either use Greater Heal on a target near death or Prayer of Healing for a smaller heal on the whole group. Doing this gives me the ability to dish out a solid amount of healing across the entire party in a fairly short amount of time. I do find it more useful in PvP than in LFG, and it would be even more useful in a raid.

Inspiration is a talent that I skipped early on because I had no need to reduce damage on my tanks when they almost never took any damage in the first place. The further I got though, the more useful something like this would be, so I picked it up. Whenever you get a crit with almost any of your healing spells, the target gains 10% damage reduction for 15 seconds.

And the last talent we get in this level bracket is Chakra, which is a completely new feature in this expansion. When you cast one of the triggering spells (listed in the description above), you enter a Chakra state related to the triggering spell. This Chakra state is basically a buff that stays active until cancelled. I’ll give more detail in the next section, but basically using Chakra either makes you better at single target healing, AoE healing, or better at dealing damage while questing.

Substitution: Serendipity isn’t for everyone, and its not nearly as useful in 5 mans as it is in raids or PvP just because of the nature of what it does and how you have to trigger it. If you don’t want to take this on a character you’re just questing on or doing a lot of LFG, then switch these two points out for Tome of Light which will reduce the cooldown on your Holy Word spells by 15%, allowing you to use HW:Chastise (in particular) more frequently.

Glyphs

Prime Glyphs

Now that we get some instant healing to Renew from our talent points, the instant heal from the Glyph of PW:Shield seems an even better fit. I still did the majority of my healing through this level range with nothing more than bubbles and Renew, and I love this glyph. Renew is still another great option, and it is the one that I chose for my second slot at level 50, but until then I think PW:Shield is the better option.

Major Glyphs

  • Glyph of Spirit Tap: When you kill a target with your SW:Death and yield experience or honor, you instantly receive 12% of your total mana over 12 seconds.
  • Glyph of Smite: Your Smite spell inflicts an additional 20% damage against targets afflicted by Holy Fire.
  • Glyph of Psychic Scream: Targets of your Psychic Scream spell now tremble in place instead of fleeing in fear, but the cooldown of Psychic Scream is increased by 3 sec.

You’ll have to make a decision at level 32 as to whether you want to switch immediately to Spirit Tap or hold off until level 50 when you get your second set of glyph slots. If mana is still your main problem, then make the switch to Spirit Tap. If you’re doing just fine with your mana, then keep Smite if you’re going to do a lot of questing. If you’re more into dungeon running then Spirit Tap is probably your best choice, but Psychic Scream is still a really good option if you find there’s a need for AoE fear to be used.

My personal preference is to switch to Spirit Tap at level 32, and then add Smite back in when you reach level 50.

Minor Glyphs

Minors being minors, they all pretty well suck. Levitate is the most important one to me, personally, because I hate dealing with reagents, and it provides the most literal benefit. Reducing the casting cost of buffs is all fine and good, but you almost never need to reapply them during combat (outside of PvP) which means if you’re worried about the mana cost then you can just sit down right after buffing everyone and drink back to full.

Chakra
At this level you can only activate half of the real usefulness of Chakra, simply because the other half requires another talent point which you won’t get until level 51. However, Chakra is still useful by itself and it is important to know what it does and how to use it effectively. Since the next guide will include that talent point we’re missing, I’ll go back over Chakra and its interaction with the other half of it next time.

There are three Chakra states that you can enter, and which one you enter is triggered by a different group of spells. Each state also provides it’s own benefit.

Chakra State: Serenity
Trigger Spells: Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal
Effect: Increases the critical effect chance of your direct healing spells by 10%, and causes your direct heals to refresh the duration of your Renew on the target.

Serenity is the version that I use most often when healing dungeons. Making our direct heals 10% more likely to crit means more chances to proc other effects such as Inspiration, not to mention the increased healing in general that comes with that crit chance. It also allows direct heals to refresh Renew which means I can essentially recast Renew on my tank by casting Heal on them, which is only half the mana cost.

Chakra State: Sanctuary
Trigger Spells: Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending
Effect: Increases the healing done by your area of effect spells and Renew by 15% and reduces the cooldown of your Circle of healing by 2 seconds.

I don’t use Sanctuary all that often, but really only because I don’t see a ton of AoE damage. It does make Renew 15% better which is great, but I find Serendipity to be more useful in general. In this level range our only AoE heal is Prayer of Healing, so the only real benefit we receive is the extra healing from Renew compared to Serenity buffing all of our direct heals.

Chakra State: Chastise
Trigger Spells: Smite, Mind Spike
Effect: Increases your total damage done by Shadow and Holy spells by 15%.

Chastise is great for questing. It finally provides us with a damage buff that we’ve been missing all this time. And it’s basically a 15% damage increase across the board for us since it buffs both Holy and Shadow. It’s odd that a talent so deep in the Holy tree would buff Shadow spells, but who am I to argue with extra damage, right?

Gearing Up Your Priest
For Holy you’re looking first and foremost at Intellect on your gear. Intellect provides Spell Power, Mana, and Spell Crit, all of which you’re interested in. Next up is going to have to be Spirit because Priests will do struggle with mana at low levels. Haste comes next as it makes your Renew tick faster and it also allows your heals to cast faster which is really useful when your best filler heal has a base cast time of three seconds.

Cloth is your only option for gear of course, and lucky for us all cloth gear is caster gear, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Weapons can be kind of hit and miss, though there are quite a few good staves that drop in dungeons. You can find some decent off-hand weapons from dungeons these days as well, but one-handed caster weapons are pretty rare at low levels.

Even though I have access to some of my Hand Me Down gear, a mace with +22 Intellect being one of them, I didn’t use them on the Priest because I wanted to be as pure as I could to what another player might be since Priests are well known for their mana issues right now.

Macros

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Smite
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

I use this type of macro for all of my attacks (Smite, Holy Fire, Mind Blast, SW:Pain, Devouring Plague) mostly so that I have an auto-target and auto-attack built into the spell cast.

#showtooltip
/cast [@focus] Power Word: Shield

This is my “heal with sammich” macro, it allows me to cast my bubble directly on my focus without having to bother with targeting and such. I set the tank as my focus as soon as the group is created and hit this button when the spell wears off.

I use a variation of this for Renew, Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal…basically all of my healing spells, as well so that I can easily heal an instance with one hand while eating a sammich with the other and watching YouTube on the second monitor. LFG can be pretty boring these days when you have a tank with fully enchanted heirlooms who also knows how to play their class well, and I use these when I’m bored and don’t feel like clicking Healbot.

 

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