Fraps'ing Your Way to Video Victory

It was brought to my attention by an awesome shaman that maybe I should blog about my process for recording and producing Fraps videos of our raids (or other crap I tend to record). And the little things that go into making a WoW video.

Let me preface the following post by saying that I’m not a videographer, a video producer, a hobbyist of video-making tendencies.. none of that. I just record our boss attempts/kills and sometimes add music.

My computer setup:

OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 (Service Pack 2)
CPU TYPE: Intel® Core™2 Quad CPU Q8200 @ 2.33GHz
CPU SPEED: 2.36 GHz
SYSTEM MEMORY: 6 GB
VIDEO CARD MODEL: ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series
VIDEO CARD MEMORY: 3.24 GB
VIDEO CARD DRIVER: aticfx32.dll
DESKTOP RESOLUTION: 1920×1080
HARD DISK SIZE: 1.82 TB
HARD DISK FREE SPACE: 1.44 TB (79%)
DOWNLOAD SPEED: 1.63 MB/s (13.7 mbps)

(I totally pilfered that from my beta profile on bnet :>)

I generally have 30-45 fps in a major city even during peak times, even given my not-quite-awesome video card. So…Yeah I got no advice on that part. It is what it is.

My WoW Video Settings:

Fraps How-To: A Basic Introduction

Fraps is software that lets you record window content — games, browsers, etc. You can even record your desktop. You can download a trial (but only record limited-length videos), but I recommend buying a license. It will be money well-spent!

Here are screenshots of each of the Fraps settings screens to show how I have mine setup. Your mileage may vary depending on your hard drive space and personal preference for overlays, etc.

The General tab shows my current version and build of Fraps — I have the paid version.  The boxes that are checked are just some personal preference-type things about how Fraps window behaves. This part won’t make or break your vidya producin’.

The stuff on the FPS tab all looks really important, right? NOPE. The only part of this screen I actually use is where to put the overlay when it’s on the screen. Lower right (because it doesn’t cover anything too important).

Okay now.. the Movies tab is where the customization comes into play. I’ve selected a file path for saving movies after they’re recorded (done automatically after using the hotkey to stop recording). To make my life easier and my computer last a bit longer, I’ve selected a folder on my 2TB internal hard drive. Believe me when I say you will need a big hard drive if you are seriously thinking of working with video files. They can be monstrous in size and your computer will cry and kittens will cry, etc etc.

I’ve set up my hotkey to be F9 because, well, it wasn’t being used in-game. If you use default keybindings, you will want to unbind F9 because it’s default binding is to open one of your bags. You don’t want a bag opening at the beginning of every video you make, right? Esc > Keybindings > Open Bag # (look for F9) > Unbind Key. Done.

I also selected the “Record Win7 Sound” because this is what will capture vent/mumble sounds and game sounds. I suggest you don’t select “Record external input” because it will pick up EVERY LITTLE SOUND. I never realized how often I sniffle until I used that setting one night. The video had to be trashed. >___>

The Video Capture Settings is set to 30 fps by default. I picked 60 fps because it seemed the best. Things have been going okay so far…

As for the last of the settings on this panel, I just don’t use them. If you end up using them, let me know how it goes!

This final panel shows some screenshot settings. I don’t use them mostly because I use WoW’s default screenshot key (print screen). But if you’re not playing WoW and want a screenshot, Fraps will let you do that! I think the settings here are pretty self-explanatory, so.. :}

Produce That Vidya!

Now! So you’ve recorded some video of your awesome Blackhorn kill from last week but you don’t know how to get it on to Youtube! What do you do! I can show you how I do it on my Windows 7 PC. If you have a Mac, I’m sure there’s some sweet ass app you have that will do this a thousand times better… :|

First, you need to make sure you have a Youtube account. :|

Second, Open up Windows Live Movie Maker. Make sure it’s the Live version and not the previous Windows Movie Maker version (the previous is not as easy to work with and does not come with upload-to-Youtube-directly capabilities). If you don’t have WLMM, you can get it here for free.

Click to enlarge.

Third, Click the “Click here to browse for videos and photos”, find your raw Fraps video. WLMM will load it up.

Fourth, Make any edits to the video in terms of trimming out that accidentally recorded 10 min raid break >__>

Fifth, Add a witty title and credits pages, as necessary.

Sixth, Click the Youtube link, sign in, fill in all the field YES ALL THE FIELDS JUST TYPE SOME CRAP OKAY. You can always edit this later :>

Note: If you select Private at this screen, you will need to edit the video later to set it to Unlisted if you want to share it but not make it Public. Private means what it sounds like — only you will be able to see it.

Seventh, Click Okay (or save or whatever it says that isn’t Cancel) and your movie will be saved then published!

After the “Publishing” timer is done, you’ll be offered to “Watch Online,” “Open Folder” or “Cancel” (I think, I didn’t really pay attention xD Old habits!). If you click “Watch Online,” you will see this screen:

Click to enlarge.

Once your video is available, you can make minor edits to it or add music.

Other things to know:

– If you want to add music, make sure it’s of a free nature (and I don’t mean no cost; I mean not copyrighted!) You can add music in WLMM (there’s a button for it!) or you can add it after it’s uploaded to Youtube. Note: If you use Youtube, know that it will swap out any sound in the video for the music (that’s why it’s called “AudioSwap”).

– There are some pretty nice transition animations included in WLMM. Take a look for some fancy stuff!

– Be sure to save your movies at the highest resolution as possible for best playback quality.

– You may notice that most of my videos have a black border all around it. This issue is caused by what I call “double-letterboxing”: WLMM puts black bars on the left and right of the video (I think) and when it’s uploaded to Youtube, Youtube adds the top and bottom. I dunno man, it doesn’t really bother me. xD

Good luck in your vidya-ing ventures! Please let me know if you have any questions!

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Just Another UI Post (JAUP)

After the disappointment of NeavUI, I decided to start again (for the … 30th-ish time) to create my own, functional user interface.

The picture above is what I’ve got going on, with a couple changes made between last night and today. It may not be the prettiest interface setup out there. And there is some duplication of things on screen. But it works. It actually works sooooooooo much better for me.

What it is, yo:

Setup Configuration (and other redundancies)

A lot of this might be pretty self-explanatory. If it’s not, send me an email or comment below with your questions.

To begin, I have set up Bartender toward the bottom center of my screen with 3 bars stacked. I have my totem bar set to fade until moused-over (and will change this to be [combat]show;fade – Show during combat but fade otherwise). I also have another 1-2 bars set up to remain faded until moused-over on the far right. Setting up the action bars this way consolidates my visual field (I use the cooldown timers on the buttons profusely).

I next have the FX cooldown timer across the top the action bars. While having the cooldown timer AND showing the cooldown swirl on the action buttons is a bit redundant, I really like that FX comes with a secondary splash (shown above as the big Healing Rain icon on the left side of the FX cooldown timer bar). This splash is in my face, which is a necessary thing during fights like Ultraxion (or Ultramarathon as Waypoint calls him).

I installed Prat for two main reasons. First, to make the chat text actually readable for me. I’m getting more and more nearsighted as I get older and that thin little Arial Narrow default font just ain’t cuttin it anymore. I’ve set it up with the Friz Quadrata font and a thin outline. That outline is sooooo awesome. And second, Prat includes a sound module that will play a sound when certain types of messages are sent to specific channels: raid, whisper, Real ID whisper, Party, guild. It’s pretty helpful for me since I alt+tab a lot I MEAN I am looking at other parts of my screen. <:}

Xperl is a bit.. ugly. There, I said it. The raid frames are unwieldy for healers (hello appropriate visualization of DEBUFFS and BUFFS), but I really, really, REALLY, like that I can make my buffs/debuffs HUGE on the target and focus frames. Given that I use a focus macro for most of my spells, it really helps to see quickly who’s got which buffs.

I actually only use Xperl for Player, Player Pet, Pet Target, Target, Focus, Target of Target and Focus Target unit frames. No Xperl Party or Raid frames. NOPE.jpg.

Dis is fugly. Bonus points if you can spot the buff.

I use Grid for Party and Raid frames plus HideBlizz to /forreal/ hide the default Party and Raid frames. I’ve tried several “hide Blizzard” addons and HideBlizz is the best (there is an actual in-game config menu where you can select to hide the Player/Target, Party and/or Raid frames! :O!)

I have Grid setup to show Earth Shield, Riptide, Water/Lightning Shield on me, Dungeon Role (as opposed to Raid Role — the difference is that Raid Role will display the two DPS types, melee and ranged, and Dungeon Role just displays who is a DPS. I just DGAF about that too much). I also have it set up with the Grid Raid Debuff module to show the various debuffs associated with each raid tier. Additionally, I have the center icon set to display magic or curses, both of which I can remove. Maybe I’m a terribad healer, but if I can’t remove it, I really don’t care about it because I’ll just have to heal through it anyway.

You’ll notice (if you’re familiar with Grid and customizing it at all), that I’ve left if pretty much “out-of-the-box” in respect to the raid frames themselves. I’ve switched the frame orientation from vertical to horizontal, but that’s about it. Less screen real estate that way (and yes, I know I have a big screen. I like to keep it sparse).

One of my favorite heavyweight, little-glory addons is MikScrollingBattleText (MSBT for short). It really makes a difference in my interaction with the UI. Before using it, all I would see is big green numbers all over the screen, obscuring my view. Now, with MSBT, those numbers have more meaning (by displaying spell icons, spell casters, etc) and are out of the way, yet visually accessible. Nice.

I’ve linked above to Deadly Boss Mods’ search results page on Curse so that you would see the Deadly Boss Mods – Spell Timers addon. And maybe download it. And love it like I do. This little nifty thing adds spell timers to the DBM timer list for important spells like battle rezzes, Innervates, Reincarnation, etc. Pretty handy to see who’s spell will be available and when.

The other addons I use are for convenience’s sake. Raeli’s, Omen, Skada*, Auctionator and AtlasLoot are information sources. Can’t do without them.

*Note about Skada: Apparently Recount’s memory-hogginess will cause you to pizza instead of french fry**on Ultramarathon. You’ve been warned.

**http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153300/thumper-the-super-cool-ski-instructor

Still Up in the Air

Although I really like the cooldown bar and notifications on my warlock for the ending of Soulstones, I’m having a tough time working with the actual spell timers included with ForteXorcist. I think part of the reason is that I’m just not used to looking at bars for my buffed targets. That could be learned. I think part of the reason I’m having trouble is because I don’t know where to freaking put the spell timers. For now (not shown above) they’re just kinda hanging out to the right of the raid frames.

Both Healer and DPS Approved

I’ve recently leveled my awesome warlock to 85 and started the grind for gear. After installing Xperl, I literally /gasped with joy at the GIANT debuffs with timers (on the target unit frame). It’s so much better to glance at the target, note my DoTs’ time remaining and go from there. And since I’m not using the Xperl Party or Raid frames, I don’t have to worry about making two profiles (one for healer, one for DPS) and switching between them.

Welp. I’ve said enough. As I mentioned above, if you have any questions, leave a comment! o/

Neav UI & the Raiding Healer: A Verdict

Well. Although I have been using Neav UI for a few days (week?) in 5-mans and LFR, I wanted to see how it would perform in a “real” raid setting where debuffs matter more and coordination is king. So we tromped into Dragon Soul last night and I was rocking Neav UI. Everything was good as gold until _that_guy. You know who I’m talking about. He’s T13’s Chimaeron (for Waypoint, at least). Warlord Zon’ozz.

Since I am specced into both Improved Cleanse Spirit and Cleansing Waters, I was asked to be the sole dispeller on this fight. I was also asked to call out who I was dispelling so they would be ready for the knockback. (Keep in mind, this was a strategy we were trying. This strategy, whether right or wrong, is not the point of this post.)

I was excited. I had a specific job to do during a raid. I had responsibility. I didn’t want to let my raid leader down.

For the first few seconds of the fight, everything was peachy. Then the debuffs were doled out. And all hell broke loose, in my head. The oUF raid frames clearly show the debuff — BUT IT COVERED THE NAMES. Granted, I should know who is where on my raid frames, but I have issues with self-doubt and I get paranoid about doing the wrong thing, so I had to mouseover to check. I even installed Decursive to help, but those unit frames don’t have names either. People, we have two priests, two druids (the death knights aren’t an issue as one is a tank & was the first raid frame).

And then there’s the issue I’ve been having with my mouseover macro for Cleanse Spirit:

#showtooltip

/cast [@mouseover, help]Cleanse Spirit; [help]Cleanse Spirit; Cleanse Spirit

Seems pretty straight forward, right? Well, so did I until last night. I realized that my placing this macro on a shift+ modifier button (See screenshot below, bottom bar, button 7; notice the empty slot on the second bar >.>;) was causing it to misfire in relation to the GCD. At least that’s what I could tell. Ever since 4.3, I was having to manually select a target then use my macro. Which negated the whole “mouseover” thing and infuriated me to no end. So, in an ephiphanic moment, I moved my macro down to my main action bar (unmodified) and IT WAS WORKING AGAIN. Sons of biscuit eaters I am a moron.

Let me give you a pro tip: Use what works for you. While some things may be prettier than others, what really matters is your performance in the heat of the moment. Don’t be like me; don’t let your raid leader down over some STUPID issue like dispels. ;~;

So it is with a still-frustrated, perturbed, and slightly sad heart that I will be uninstalling Neav UI. I know I can just change the raid frames. Or I could tweak the raid frames. But I’m now over it as a UI. I’ve failed myself and my raid team in trying to use it — I’m not going there again.

Looking for Raid & Shaman Healing

E'rrybody loves a UI shot!

Last Sunday, I decided to do something wild and crazy. This is something I haven’t done in a really long time (because I found a great guild and I now raid)…. I pugged. Not only did I pug, but I pugged Seige of Wyrmrest Temple.

Rick was watching one of his anime series out in the living room and I needed to unwind from my parents’ visit. So I opened up the Raid Finder panel and hit “Find Group.”

Two minutes later, I’m clicking “Enter Raid” — Insta-queue is very nice! I’m not sure how long the average DPS wait is, but it can’t be that long right now (given that LFR is brand new). Or that 17 DPS are pulled from the queue to make a group. Maybe I’ll try this later on one of my other 85s.

We started with Morchok (as the currently LFR-accessible content is only the first four bosses of Dragon Soul) and one-shotted him. Some people died, but I attribute that to either arrogance/ignorance at the deadliness of the Black Blood of the Earth or just laziness. One of our tanks died twice, but he thought he was out of the way in time. Nope.

Just a tip: The Black Blood of the Earth appears to reach out to the SAME EXACT locations each time. So run back to the same SAFE place you were the first time that event occurred. Trust me. (Unless Blizzard decides to mess with everyone and make it dynamic).

All-in-all, Morchok (or Porkchop, as he is affectionately known to Waypoint) was pretty easy. I thoroughly enjoyed the stacking required on this fight so I was able to appropriately use Healing Rain and Chain Heal to get the most benefit from both.

We then charged on to kill Warlord Zon’ozz (Zo’loft), Yor’sahj the Unsleeping (Yo’gurt), and Hagara the Stormbinder (Haggis). We roflstomped Zon’ozz and Hagara. We would have one-shotted Yor’sahj if the DPS actually killed the slimes/mana voids like they were supposed to.

One difference to note between LFR-Dragon Soul and regular raid-Dragon Soul (normal and heroic versions) is that the green slimes do not do the AOE thing on LFR. So the kill order for slimes in LFR is Purple > Yellow > Red whereas regular-raid is Purple > Green > Red. The blue slimes are also pretty annoying, especially when DPS don’t kill them quickly after the other slimes. But I did surprise myself with how much healing/stabilizing I could do with just Healing Wave.

I think part of the reason that we had such a smooth time in the LFR Dragon Soul was partly due to most of the other 24 people having recent raiding experience. They may not know these new fights (I didn’t know two of them), but they are good at moving out of the fire and other basic raiding skills. Our success could also be attributed to the required iLvl to use LFR (372) so we outgeared the raid encounter. To have at least that iLvl, you have to had completed some Firelands bosses or run a bazillion Zulroics in order to get enough VP to buy T12 or T12-equivalent gear. So you should be familiar with not standing in the fire (*hurr hurr Firelands jokes here*). And of course, the fights are not nearly as complicated as say, Ragnaros (DOUCHENAROS).

Easily-understood mechanics + gear + basic understanding of staying out of the fire = LFR Success.

I will probably do LFR a lot more — it’s an easy way to get 250 Valor points in about the same time as it takes to complete a full zulroic. I could see, however, horrifying LFR runs where you can’t one-shot these bosses. I’m not sure I have the temperament to withstand more than 4 wipes on one of these bosses. Partly because I don’t think these bosses are so hard that it requires more than one wipe to “get it” and also partly because I don’t have enough time to take hours to complete a LFR run. I like to save up my energy for my guild’s raids because I know those people and actually *like* them.

But now! Now we’re on the road to glory and punching Deathwing in the face! 

Sidenote: Ever since 4.3 launched, the default raid frames have been buggy in terms of dealing with buffs/debuffs and totems. Prior to 4.3, totemic buffs show up on the raid frames out of combat. Once combat occurs, the totemic buffs disappear and other buffs such as Riptide and Earth Shield are shown. This is all borked now that the bug results in the totemic buffs being shown throughout combat. It’s hard to see how many Earth Shield stacks remain and the time remaining on Riptide. I have switched between Grid, Grid2, and now Blizzard Raid Frame Indicators to deal with this bug. I think Grid has been the best choice for me so far.

 

Earth, Water, and Lightning: How I Shaman Heal

~~This post is something I’ve been wanting to post for awhile but hesitated because, really, why do another guide? So this really isn’t a guide, but an insight into how I specifically play. It’s not about right or wrong (because I don’t think I’m really doing anything _wrong_); it’s for informational purposes for my healing teammates.~~

The healers on our raid team have had an idea to get together to discuss how we operate during raids to provide insight and opportunity for strategic planning. This is my contribution to get the ball rolling.

My background
I have been healing on a shaman since I started Cathrynis (Now Balma, the trollie) in late May 2011. I transferred Marsaili to Medivh in early July and began seriously healing on her. I have, however, been a healer my entire WoW career — from my first character, a night elf druid casting heals on Rick’s night elf warrior. I never really played the official healer role until I rolled my priest, Elizabeth. But when I did, it just felt right. I finally had a legitimate excuse for my constantly watching health bars and estimating incoming damage. I am a healer.


I am Dorflady. I whip my hair back and forth.

My character
I have set up my shaman’s talents and glyphs to provide the most throughput as possible. Note, however, that shaman sacrifice raw healing output to gain the utility of totems. As a shaman, I will never match or exceed a druid’s or holy priest’s awesome throughput. And I shouldn’t. I bring additional utility through my totems to hopefully make up for the lack of raw healing. Some days I recognize this sacrifice; some days I literally cry out in frustration. But everytime I slap down Healing Rains, Spirit Link Totem and Chain Heal, I am reminded why I heal on my shaman.

Talents & Glyphs
My shaman uses a pretty standard talent setup, found here. I have been thinking of creating two resto specs, one aimed at raid healing and one aimed at tank healing. This is a second raid healing-specific talent spec/glyph setup I’ve been playing with.

You’ll notice something about the resto talent tree — there’s not a lot of room for variance. Sure, there are some talents I don’t *have* to take. It seems, however, that I would lose even more throughput or utility by transferring talents from the resto tree to either the enhancement or elemental trees. I’m comfortable where I am currently, but I may play with that second spec some to see what happens.

Things to note with this talent setup:
1.) My Earth Shielded targets gain 18% healing effectiveness through Nature’s Blessing. This is one of a few talents that increases my tank-healing effectiveness.
2.) Ancestral Healing provides a buff, Ancestral Fortitude that mitigates damage.
3.) I gain instant-cast Ghost Wolf by talenting into Ancestral Swiftness in the enhancement tree. This ability is pretty awesome as it allows me to run faster — I tend to use it when I need to get near someone to heal them up. Fabulous talent.
4.) I have a 20% chance to heal a target for 1.4k when I dispel Curses or Magic from people.
5.) I have two important talents taken, Focused Insight and Telluric Currents, that allow me to either cut my mana cost or actively regen mana during a fight.

Glyphs
Glyph choices for resto shaman are quite limited.  There really are only so many glyphs that actually pertain to healing. My main talent setup uses the following glyphs:

Prime

  • Earthliving Weapon – Increases the effectiveness of your Earthliving weapon’s periodic healing by 20%.
  • Riptide – Increases the duration of Riptide by 40%.
  • Earth Shield – Increases the amount healed by your Earth Shield by 20%.

Major

  • Chain Heal – Increases healing done by your Chain Heal spell to targets beyond the first by 15%, but decreases the amount received by the initial target by 10%.
  • Healing Stream Totem – Your Healing Stream Totem also increases the Fire, Frost, and Nature resistance of party and raid members within 30 yards by 195.
  • Healing Wave – Your Healing Wave also heals you for 20% of the healing effect when you heal someone else.

Minor

  • Renewed Life – Your Reincarnation spell no longer requires a reagent.
  • Water Breathing – Your Water Breathing spell no longer requires a reagent.
  • Water Walking – Your Water Walking spell no longer requires a reagent.

I won’t go in-depth on these glyphs as they are pretty straight forward, but if you have any questions, please ask!

Mastery
The restoration shaman mastery is very nice for my current healing assignments. This mastery tends to wane in usefulness as we overcome raiding obstacles and learn the fights better — less damage is taken due to better damage avoidance, so the need to spike heal is less.

For the time being, I am enjoying the ability to bring a player from 10% health to 80% in one cast. :>

My mastery is called Deep Healing and it provides:

Spells, Abilities & Totems
This part of my contribution, I think, is the most important. This is how I actually do my healing. Since I typically raid-heal, that is what I will outline below.

Pre-pull
The first three things I do before doing anything else are 1) cast Water Shield; 2) imbue my weapon with Earthliving Weapon; and 3) drop my totems. Preparedness really does pay off when playing a shaman.

I will Earth Shield one of the tanks; either the one pulling the boss (who tends to take more damage) or the one tanking the boss.  As each fight is different, this strategy will and can change on the fly.

I then tend to cast Riptide on the tank as a buffer (because I still try to be a druid okay) if they will be in range of the melee players so I can cast Chain Heal, which is buffed by Riptide.

Depending on my mana needs for the fight (I’m looking at you, ugly Psider) or anticipated incoming damage, I will Flame Shock the boss to gain Focused Insight and then, depending on amount of incoming damage AND number of people being damaged AND ALSO how close together they are, drop Healing Rain. You may have noticed that Chain Heal is buffed by Healing Rain; the two are meant to be used together. So when I see someone standing OUTSIDE the shiny blue circle, I cry on the inside.

Note about Healing Rain: It costs me 46% of base mana, which is just over 10k mana. OVER TEN THOUSAND MANA. My mana pool is, fully buffed & with Power Torrent procs, ~120k mana. So this spell is essentially 8% of my entire mana pool. Suffice it to say that I simply cannot spam Healing Rain.

During the Fight
I typically try to keep Riptide up and Chain Heal when I can. I have had a hard time with melee not standing near enough to each other to make Chain Heal worth its mana cost. I realize that some fights require movement and being spread out, so I tend to switch to spamming Healing Wave. I save Greater Healing Wave for moments when someone is taking more damage than anticipated and I need to get them up fast.

Tidal Waves
Tidal Waves is a buff gained from the Tidal Waves talent in the restoration tree. Tidal Waves really shapes the actual feel of shaman healing — it’s almost like you’re waltzing with the raid. Riptide – Healing Wave – Healing Wave, Riptide – Healing Wave – Healing Wave. The 30% reduction in cast time really does help get healing to people that need it. This will come as second nature to new shaman healers (which is why I forgot about it completely!)

In-combat Mana Regen
Shaman have both active and passive means of in-combat mana regen. I’ve outlined these abilities below:

Active

  • Mana Tide Totem – See below.
  • Telluric Currents – Note: TC is great on a fight where I have some downtime, but know that I have to make a decision between losing a GCD to TC for mana regen OR using that GCD to throw out a Healing Wave. (Trust me on using HW; if I am at the point of considering TC, I probably don’t have enough mana to use Greater Healing Wave.)

Passive

  • Resurgence
  • Water Shield
  • Spirit – My in-combat mana regen is about 2.7k, which seems like a lot, but you have to consider the mana cost of my spells is rather high and my mana pool is rather limited (even with 2.4k Spirit and 5.6k Intellect).

Oh-Crap! Button
Most healers have an “Oh Crap!” button they hit when big, fast heals are needed.  I actually have a combination of buttons I press to produce the achieve the same goal:

1.) Unleash Elements with Earthliving Weapon
2.) Nature’s Swiftness (Note: Resto Druids have a spell of the same name but it does not do they same thing, exactly)
3.) Greater Healing Wave

If I have my wits about me (and a second to spare), I will also mash my Moonwell Chalice button before doing the above to make sure whomever I’m healing is at least brought back to 75% health.
I don’t have these abilities macro’d together as I would still be required to press a button three times (or three buttons one time each).

Totems
Shaman have an epic ton of totems. Totems, however, only have a range of 20 yards (I have it talented with Totemic Reach; without the talent, my totems would only reach 15 yards). There are totems useful for buffing your groupmates and debuffing your enemies.  Some totems are intended by the developers to be used in PVp situations and others in PVE situations.  The fun thing about totems is figuring out which ones to use when and where. Sometimes, I’ll find a use for a PVP-oriented totem in a PVE situation (a good example is Grounding Totem when being barraged by shadow bolts on what’s-her-face-cat-lady boss in Zul Gurub).

For my healing purposes and in consideration of our raidteam makeup, I tend to run with the following totems, at all times:

  • Stoneskin Totem – Our death knights provide a similar buff to Strength of Earth Totem with their Horn of Winter ability.
  • Flametongue Totem – Straight up spellpower buff
  • Healing Stream Totem – This is a workhorse totem. Can be up to 1.5m healing. When looking at my performance on raid logs, it’s important to remember how much healing HST does — You have to effectively combine the “Marsaili” row on Healing Done with the “Healing Stream Totem” row to get a rough idea.
  • Windfury Totem – Buff to our consistently melee-heavy raid composition.

I do weave in other totems during a fight as they are more like cooldown abilities.  These totems are very special and provide flavor and uniqueness to restoration shaman. One of them is why I love my shaman.

Mana Tide Totem – Once the great spirit-slaving totem of yore, MTT is now a mana regen cooldown useful for gaining back some mana during lulls of some fights. It has a short duration (12 seconds), but does provide a nice chunk of mana.

Spirit Link Totem – This totem can be confusing as when placed, it displays a circular, moving yellow graphic and appears to give health to raid/party members.  What actually happens, however, is not that simple. This totem provides two benefits: 1) 10% damage reduction and 2) health. The latter benefit is derived from redistributing the collective group health across all raid/party members during a 6-second period. Jadiera of Totem Forest created this nifty graphic to really show how this totem works and you should take a look at it to fully understand.

I will try to get into the habit of announcing when I’m going to drop Slink — this will hopefully get everyone aware and using their damage mitigation cooldowns such as Anti-Magic Shield, Plasma Shield (engineering tinker), or other similar cooldowns.

Something to keep in mind about Spirit Link Totem: I am apprehensive about just dropping it anytime. I feel that the raid should be healed up to some extent before using it as it does have the potential to kill people or wipe the raid due to low health and constant incoming damage. Most experienced shaman healers will disagree or question my hesitation and that’s okay. This totem is like driving on your own the first time ever: It’s really powerful yet very scary at the same time. The more I heal, the more comfortable I will get.

UI
Here is a screenshot of my UI, trying to be in-combat at a training dummy <:\ (Click to make bigger)

I think I’ve covered just about everything — please ask questions! You can email me liz at authorizedtoramble dot com or send me a message on Twitter. Or yanno, leave a comment. :>

Big Decision: Starting a Raid Team

My guild is really small.  I’m talking tiny — We have 3 actual members (35 toons though!): Me, my husband and my real-life best friend.  We started the guild to get the guild bank since we (read: my husband) likes to keep everything.  But I have some aspirations, mainly to raid.

Of course, keeping a small guild has benefits and costs.  One benefit is complete trust of the members.  We know each other really well and we have good real-life relationships.  This transfers to the game in most aspects because we know what the other is thinking or going to do/react/feel.  The cost, however, is that we miss out on things like pre-made battleground groups, raids, and even full guild dungeon runs.  Before patch 4.0.1 and the onset of Guild Reputation, this cost was not as visible.  But now we won’t even get credit for a 10-man PUG. /sadface

I want to get us raiding, but my biggest concern is that my guildies are not ready for raiding.  My best friend has done many, many (many!) 5-man dungeons/heroics in Wrath on her shaman as both ranged DPS (Elemental) and healer (Resto) and is quite a good healer.  She has never raided though.  My husband has done bajillions of 5-man dungeons on his ret paladin and fury warrior; he’s even done the weekly raid a couple of times (Noth the Plaguebringer).  God bless his heart, he’s not very situationally aware, however, and I’m concerned that he would die 2 seconds into the fight because he wasn’t paying attention (this is also a topic for another post that I’m going to draft right now).

I’m ready to stop complaining (and leveling my alt army) and do something about seeing raid content.  I would be content at this point to start with vanilla raids to get our feet wet.  I’ve even scheduled an Ahn’qiraj raid (which we will likely 3-man..but I digress) for next Sunday at 1:00p central.  I’m working now to get some guides together since we* have never raided before and don’t really** know the first thing to do.

I’m also sprucing up our guild website in the hopes of recruiting more players soon.  I approached the issue last night with my best friend and she mentioned “maybe we need to get some toons in another guild.”  I’m not adverse to this idea; I think it’s great.  I do have some concerns, but I’d rather not voice them publicly.  If you care to help, send me an email at lizziaftw (at) gmail (dot) com.  Also, if you have any suggestions on expanding our guild, let me know in the comments!

*I’ve done the weekly raid a couple times, tried Ulduar once (but the raid fizzled after the first wipe), Magister’s Terrace (as a lvl 80 though) and Sunwell Plateau (again, as a lvl 80).
**I think I know what to do to prepare for a raid, however, I’ve never been in a position to actually have to prepare for a raid. You know, the whole “who’s bringing the fish feast?” deal.