Shared Topic: Wasting Time in the Timeless Isle

I’m meant to be doing a bunch of stuff, including several labs and some log analysis for my guild. This means, of course, that my brain just really wants to do the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic for this week. Proposed by Amerence, the topic is all about the Timeless Isle: how much time we spend there, whether or not we find it fun, whether or not we do the dailies, etc.

Here’s the thing: I hate the Timeless Isle.

It may very well be that I’m a healer at heart, but grinding mobs for hours on end isn’t exactly my idea of fun.

I really tried, at the beginning. I went there, did the initial quest chain, tried to grind rep (it’s really hard when you mostly roll with two healer specs, incidentally). The thing is, I’m not a collector. It was kind of interesting, seeing if I could kill stuff in my disc spec without dying, but it wound up being slow and repetitive and none of the rewards seemed worth the grind.

It’s weird though, because I don’t have that problem doing dailies for mounts. That’s how I got my Netherwing Drake and my Cloud Serpent, and they never bothered me to the degree the Timeless Isle does. I think the main difference is doing it via quests feels very predictable. I can tell exactly how much time it will take me to get to my goal if I do them every day, so it doesn’t feel like such an interminable grind. Timeless Isle is all about random drops and variable rep from different mobs, so it’s very hard to tell when you’ll get a given pet or mount. I don’t mind randomness in rewards when it’s an activity I enjoy intrinsically, like raiding, but it turns out smiting stuff to death (or Mind Blasting if I happen to be specc’ed into shadow) is not something I enjoy intrinsically. Additionally, I think another difference that has an impact is that dailies force me to pace myself, and I don’t wind up grinding for several hours and burning myself out quickly so that I hate everything about the mobs and the place after one evening.

In short, I’ve only ever gone back with my main a handful of times (for stuff not world bosses). Once because I decided I wanted to give the Harmonious Porcupette to a friend for Christmas (that didn’t go far; I wound up buying something else from the AH) and a few other times because I wanted to practice my shadow skills on stuff that wouldn’t melt in two casts.

And you know what the best part about the Timeless Isle is? It’s alright if I never step foot on it on my main again, because it’s content that is entirely optional.

Alts, though, alts are an entirely different thing.

All throughout the expansion, I’ve been slowly levelling some of my alts so that I now have all of the healers, plus a horde DPS monk at 90. Now, I could have, upon hitting max with them, just gone the normal route of grinding heroics, then LFR and so on to get them semi-geared, but that takes a bunch of time (especially when in questing greens) so my standard strategy for gearing them is now thus: go to the Timeless Isle, do the initial quests, never engage anything that’s an elite because it will melt your face, and try and find chests until the character is geared enough to do LFR. From there, I just run LFR and dungeons, using VP, drops and JPs to complement my gear. (And, yes, I’m saying I vastly prefer healing LFR to grinding the Timless Isle; make of that what you will). It isn’t exactly fun, since the jaunt through TI is mostly running around on my mount, dying a lot. Honestly, it makes me really miss the model with different tiers of dungeons for catching up. But then, I’ve been missing that the whole expansion, because I really like healing five-man content.

Blizzard has said they’re doing more dungeons next expansion; they’ve also said they’d like to implement more TI-like max level content. If they manage to do the former, I will be happy, but if they only really do the latter, I might cry. Dailies I don’t mind (as long as they don’t go overboard – ohhai, 5.0!), dungeons I love, but if I have to grind mobs in order to get geared for raiding in WoD, it just might get me to quit. (Probably not – I just went for hyperbole to show how much I dislike the idea – but I will whine a lot.)

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The Info Dump is Here! (Healing Priest Edition)

excitedcat

Finally, after months of impatience and complaining, Alpha is here and we know stuff. I honestly am a little surprised. I figured I would be freaking out at this point – either too excited for coherent thought, or devastated that priests were going to be unplayable next expansion –  but most changes were either expected or pretty minor. And though there were some changes I’m not too keen on, they’re a far cry from the end of the world.

The Chakra and Sanctuary Change

Healing Chakras have been changed to only buff their pertinent spells by 10% and make their exclusive abilities a lot stronger. Now. while having less of a penalty for casting spells outside of your Chakra is absolutely a good thing, the fact that there’s still a penalty means the ability is still problematic. The only way I can ever see the current implementation of Chakra working and feeling really satisfying is if they can make casting spells in the right Chakra feel like a bonus (i.e. balancing it so that priests are a little stronger than other classes when casting spells appropriate to their Chakra), or simply make the stances be tied to the Holy Words and nothing else (which was suggested by Derevka, I believe). The latter would be boring but functional.

Honestly, though, I would be much happier if they just turned them into short throughput cooldowns that share a CD. (And give us Serenity permanently and tie Sanctuary to our Lightwell so we can pretend we’re druids! Although, then again, we can’t reposition that at will, so it might be a terrible idea. ><)

The other thing to note here is that Sanctuary has been massively buffed. Which essentially means we now have Healing Rain. I know it’s been said a lot that Sanctuary is not meant to be Healing Rain, but I can’t help but think that there isn’t much of a different niche that an AoE circle can fill. It has to be something that provides enough healing to be worth the cast in both mana capped situations and GCD-capped situations. While I wouldn’t say it wasn’t necessarily worth the cast currently in a period of heavy AoE damage, it certainly wasn’t much of a heavy lifter either. (I’ll confess I even forgot it for a couple of Malorok kills; I know, I’m a terrible priest). Ideally, I’d like it to be something expensive enough that you would only cast it where there really is a lot of damage going on and people are liable to be stacked, instead of something that you just keep down whenever you’re in Sanctuary Chakra. But, hey, as long as it doesn’t become 50% of our healing done (in the style of current Shaman Healing Rain), I’ll be happy.

The Atonement and Smart Healing Change

Atonement now heals for 25% less. This is, as far as I’m concerned, something that absolutely had to happen. Not necessarily because the smart healing component of Atonement was too good (though it was), but because its interaction with Divine Aegis made it entirely too powerful. As your crit inevitably went up (and as it will again in Warlords), it meant you could cover the entire raid with crit bubbles and get all the benefits of shields (effective health, less spiky damage) while bypassing their biggest drawback – the fact that if there’s not damage incoming, your resources have been wasted – due to smite spam being absurdly cheap.

This change, coupled with the fact that smart heals only heal a random injured  target as opposed to the most injured target means Atonement will likely only be a good choice for stacking Evangelism and periods of very low raid damage, which is honestly much more in-line with the original design intent for Atonement i.e. give discipline priests something to do while they would ordinarily be twiddling their thumbs, instead of having them spam it all encounter because ‘DA, lulz’. My only question is whether this is enough of a nerf, something that we won’t know until we see some actual numbers.

The Stuff We’re Losing

Rapture and Void Shift are gone. I can’t say I’m too happy with either of these losses. I thought Rapture was an excellent mechanic that made it so spam shielding wasn’t much of an option (until we got ALL the mana regen at the end of the expansion, that is) while casting our one shield on the tank didn’t feel punishing. I expect the reasoning for this might be that it’s one of those mechanics that required an external addon to track so you could perform adequately, but I still worry that it’ll will either mean we’re back to being shield spamming machines (the new perk that lowers Weakened Soul time doesn’t exactly alleviate this concern), or that with the proposed mana changes we will only cast Power Word: Shield very rarely.

Void Shift just makes me sad ’cause I thought it was a fun ability and appreciated having a second tank cooldown. I thought that the risk inherent in it (I’ve killed myself with it more than a couple of times) made it so it wasn’t completely broken, and -let’s face it- nothing is more satisfying than combo’ing it with your Desperate Prayer. The worst part is I’m not really sure why it’s going away. The only feasible reason I can come up with is PvP. In which case, I bite my thumb at you, PvP. (The more pressing question, however, is how am I supposed to be able to get rid of tank Chomps as disc in the proving grounds? D:)

Other Bits and Bobs

Honestly? I expected them to talk more about how they’re making absorbs less effective. An across the board nerf to all absorbs? Worse scaling for passive absorbs? Shorter duration for effects like Spirit Shell? Or longer cooldowns maybe?

I’m thinking it’s probably the former, which I’m not too sure I like. I honestly think that Power Word: Shield and Spirit Shell are alright in their current incarnations. Spirit Shell is only really good for predictable spike damage. In fights where the damage is unpredictable or constant it’s, at best, overheal protection and, at worst, a gamble that is not worth it if you don’t have the mana to sustain possibly useless PoH spam. Though I suppose a longer cooldown wouldn’t be terrible.

The talents look alright. The only one that really piqued my interest is Words of Mending. Clarity of Will seems meh for disc (do we really need an other absorb?). It seems like it’ll be a nice boon for Holy in terms of stacked up fights, though, to smarten up Prayer of Healing some. Saving Grace just looks entirely too situational, but I will withhold my judgment until we’ve seen more of what kinds of damage patterns to expect in Warlords.

Finally, who thought it was a good idea to give priests an incentive to cast Lifegrip in the middle of fights? I’m looking at you, Improved Leap of Faith; you have finally given me the excuse I needed to troll people in farm fights under the guise of trying to save them (‘well, your health looked really low and I figured I could really use that extra 50% healing when I brought you up. I’m woefully sorry it interrupted your Chaos Bolt’). Not that I would actually do that. 🙂