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Mistweaver 101: Spell Breakdown

December 18, 2013

Spell breakdown

The previous post in this series gave a very basic rundown of what spells we should be using to generate and spend Chi. Today we will review those spells in much greater depth so that we can understand how our spells interact with each other and make sure that we are getting the most out of them.

Again, we will not be discussing Fistweaving today. While Fistweaving is a fun aspect of Mistweaver healing that we will be covering in depth in the next post, it is important to understand that adding DPS abilities into your healing rotation at max level makes both your rotation and your mana management significantly more complicated. Frankly, while there are plenty of guides out there that will tell you otherwise, I am a firm believer that you need to master your basic healing spells and rotation when you hit max level before you attempt to mix things up with Fistweaving.

Chi Generators

Soothing MistSoothing Mist

Just in the way that DPS classes usually have a “filler spell” (think of Shadow Bolt, Mind Flay, etc.) that they spam when they are waiting for a proc or an ability to come off cooldown, Soothing Mist is the Mistweaver’s spell to use when we have nothing else to do. It is also one of our best Chi generators in that it has a relatively cheap Mana cost, but has a 30% chance to give us 1 Chi.

The chance to generate Chi is slightly more complex than that, however. Soothing Mist will heal a target (or “tick”) 7 times over the course of its channel. You are guaranteed to get at least 1 Chi if you channel the full spell, but due to some math that you can review if you’re interested, you will actually generate an average of 1 Chi for every 2.94 ticks of the spell that you channel. The chance to generate Chi is 15% per tick, plus 15% for each tick that has not generated Chi. Thus, if you have generated no Chi from the first 6 ticks of the spell, you will always get 1 Chi on the final tick, because you will have a 105% proc chance then. Your chance to generate Chi increases with each tick that doesn’t give you Chi, and your proc chance resets when you do generate Chi.

If that sounds a little too complicated, simply remember this – Soothing Mist is our most efficient way to generate Chi.  The Mana cost is very low and the Chi generation, while not guaranteed like some of our other spells, is consistent enough that we can count on it.

In a dungeon setting, it’s generally a good idea to channel Soothing Mist on your tank. That said, do not feel as if you have to allow Soothing Mist to channel for its full duration before you switch to another target. I tend to bounce my Soothing Mist around to anyone and everyone who is taking damage. Ideally, you should wait to generate at least 1 Chi from a channel of Soothing Mist before you bounce on to another target, because of the reset described before. It’s an easy way to put out a little healing on your target and to set yourself up to use Surging Mist and Enveloping Mist as instant-cast spells, as we’ll discuss below.  

Finally, one huge quality of life change I recommend that you make before you attempt to do anything as a Mistweaver is to turn off the camera tracking option on Soothing Mists. By default, your character will turn toward the person on whom they are channeling this spell. That part can’t be changed, but you can and should turn off the option to make your camera turn along with your character. Otherwise your camera will be bouncing all around the room as you heal, and this is a really great way to get yourself killed.

Renewing MistsRenewing Mist

Renewing Mist is an extremely powerful heal-over-time (HoT) that always generates 1 Chi and is likely to make up a very large chunk of the healing you do. Renewing Mist can be cast every 8 seconds.  In raiding situations, it is generally used on cooldown. This spell is cast on a single target but will then spread to 2 other players, so that each 1 cast of Renewing Mist will actually end up on 3 people total.  This HoT has an 18 second duration, so it is possible (and desirable) to have it on many people in your raid group at once. Uplift’s interaction with Renewing Mist makes it essential to “blanket” the raid with this HoT as much as possible to achieve huge group healing.

By default, Renewing Mist will jump to the closest injured player within 20 yards of its original target.  Many Mistweavers choose to glyph this ability in order to change it so that it jumps to the furthest player within 40 yards of the original target.  The glyph is desirable especially in raiding situations when a group has to be spread out. I generally prefer to run with this glyph, as the number of situations where I would prefer that Renewing Mist is capable of traveling 40 yards greatly outnumbers the times when I’d prefer that it stayed within 20.

In both dungeons and raids, I will usually ensure that Renewing Mist is present on my tank(s).  Assuming it is, I will then cast it on any other player who is below 100% health. If everyone who is at less than 100% health already has the HoT on them, then I will cast it on anyone who is missing it.  Due to the guaranteed Chi generation and the benefits of having the entire raid or group blanketed with Renewing Mist, it is preferable to have it as many players as possible even if that means it will be overhealing.

Surging MistSurging Mist

Surging Mist is often described as the Mistweaver’s “Flash Heal.” Unfortunately, the Mistweaver spec is unique enough that such direct comparisons to other classes’ healing spells are rarely all that accurate or helpful. Surging Mist is like Flash Heal in that it is a big and expensive heal, but there’s a lot more to it.

Surging Mist generates 1 Chi when cast. The trick about Surging Mist, though, is that you never really want to “cast” it in a traditional sense. If you cast Surging Mist while you are already channeling Soothing Mists on a target, Surging Mist will become an instant-cast spell. So your biggest heal, which has no cooldown, can be an instant-cast 100% of the time. Surging Mist should always be instant, meaning you should always be channeling Soothing Mist when you use it. (This is yet another good reason why you should be channeling Soothing Mist as your filler spell.)

If you cast Surging Mist while you are channeling Soothing Mist, then Surging Mist will heal the person on whom you are channeling Soothing Mist. There is some confusion surrounding the glyph of Surging Mist, which says: “Surging Mist no longer requires a target, and instead heals the lowest health target within 40 yards.” Many assume that this means they can continue to channel Soothing Mist, cast Surging Mist as an instant, and that Surging Mist will automatically heal the lowest health target within 40 yards.

This is not how the glyph works, though. If you are casting Surging Mist while channeling Soothing Mist, then you will still only be able to heal your Soothing Mist target with that cast. As such, the glyph is relatively pointless for a stand-back-and-heal style Mistweaver because we never hard cast Surging Mist. It is, however, helpful for Fistweaving, for reasons we will discuss in tomorrow’s post.

Expel harmExpel Harm

Expel Harm is a very cheap self-heal that generates 1 Chi. It has a 15 second cooldown, and it also deals damage equal to 50% of the healing it does to a nearby enemy. We should use this ability on cooldown any time we are below 100% health.

To be completely honest, I also sometimes use this ability when I am at full health if I need to force a proc of Chi in a pinch. That’s not ideal use of the spell since I am completely wasting the heal and the damage, but the Chi is still generated even if it doesn’t do any effective healing.

By default, you can only use Expel Harm to heal yourself and, as such, it doesn’t require a target to use. Expel Harm can be glyphed so that you can use it on other people, but the healing is reduced by 50%. Don’t use this glyph. The reduction in healing makes it very lackluster, and in almost all situations you are going to want to have that heal to use on yourself. The only time I have ever found the glyph helpful was in the Healer Proving Grounds, where I rarely took any damage but the NPCs were happy to constantly stand in everything.

Chi Consumers

upliftUplift

Oh Uplift, a Mistweaver’s best friend. Uplift and Renewing Mist will together do the majority of your healing, especially if your group is spread out and there’s a good amount of damage happening.

Uplift costs 2 Chi, is an instant-cast spell, and has no cooldown. As long as you have the Chi to spend, you can spam Uplift to your heart’s content. Uplift is a large instant heal that targets anyone who is currently being healing by your Renewing Mist. (It is similar to a Druid’s Swiftmend interacting with Rejuvenation.)

Uplift does not require a target, which means that you can use it to do some very powerful things. If a player is out of your range, as long as they have Renewing Mist on them then Uplift will still heal them. This is part of the reason why Mistweavers excel on fights that require a raid group to spread out. As long as we have sufficiently blanketed the raid with Renewing Mist before we have to spread, then we will be able to use Uplift on players who are now more than 40 yards away from us. This is also one of the reasons why I do prefer to glyph Renewing Mist, since that means I have a greater chance of spreading the HoT to players who are far away.

Uplift can be glyphed to cost Mana instead of Chi. Don’t use this glyph. The Mana cost is huge – 16% each time you use it. Between the amount of Mana that you would be dumping into using Uplift and the fact that you are not spending Chi (and therefore generating stacks of Mana Tea), this glyph is completely inefficient for Mana management. Additionally, Uplift is our main Chi consumer. If we aren’t spending our Chi on Uplift, then we really won’t have much else to spend it on.

thunder focus teaThunder Focus Tea

Strictly speaking, Thunder Focus Tea is a cooldown spell; but it is also a very important part of our rotation and something we should make the most of every time it’s available. Thunder Focus Tea costs 1 Chi and will provide a benefit to either our Surging Mist or our Uplift, depending upon how we choose to use it.

When you activate Thunder Focus Tea, you will then have 30 seconds to either use Surging Mist or Uplift. Whichever spell that you cast first will be the one that receives the benefit from the Tea.

I always choose to buff my Uplift using Thunder Focus Tea. To do so, I use the Thunder Focus Tea ability and then cast Uplift. This will refresh my Renewing Mist HoT on everyone who currently has it. Given how powerful Renewing Mist and Uplift are together, it is very valuable to be able to completely refresh the HoT’s duration (and thus have more opportunities to use Uplift).

This strategy also means that, in a 10-man raid group, I can have Renewing Mist running on all 10 people in my group at the same time – which also means I can cast Uplift on all 10 people in my group. In 25-man groups you won’t be able to cover your entire raid, but you will still have Renewing Mist going on enough people for your Uplift to do quite a bit of healing.

Thunder Focus Tea is best used in preparation for large spikes of damage that will cover the entire group. Note that I did not say during large spikes of damage. To get the most out of Thunder Focus Tea, you really need to think about the encounter and try to plan ahead so that you already have Renewing Mist on as many people as possible when the damage spike happens. That way, you will be able to immediately use Uplift on a large portion of your group.

If you choose to use Thunder Focus Tea with Surging Mist, then the amount of healing done by that Surging Mist will be doubled. This has some potential for use in dungeon settings if a player is taking huge amounts of damage and needs to be quickly healed to full. But frankly, Surging Mist is a pretty powerful heal in and of itself, and because it is already an instant cast with no cooldown, there isn’t much benefit to doubling the healing on a single cast of it. I highly recommend using Thunder Focus Tea to benefit Uplift rather than Surging Mist.

spell_monk_envelopingmistEnveloping Mist

Enveloping Mist is our most expensive Chi consumer at a cost of 3 Chi. Like Surging Mist, if Enveloping Mist is cast while we are channeling Soothing Mist on a target, then it will become an instant-cast spell. Also like Surging Mist, we should always use Enveloping Mist in this way. It should never have a cast time.

Enveloping Mist puts a small heal-over-time on its target and also buffs the healing that target receives from Soothing Mist by 30% for 6 seconds. I have read guides that suggest we should be sure to keep this buff up on our tanks at all times, but I simply can’t agree. Enveloping Mist’s HoT is not especially strong, and while 30% additional healing from Soothing Mist is nice, this alone isn’t going to save someone who’s taking a lot of damage because Soothing Mist is a pretty weak heal to begin with.

If someone is taking large hits of “spiky” damage where their health is bouncing up and down quickly, then you are much better off using Surging Mist than playing around with Enveloping Mist. If someone is taking smoother, but still sustained, damage then that might be a good time to use Enveloping Mist on them.

That said, because Enveloping Mist has such an expensive Chi cost, it can be a great way to “dump” excess Chi. “Dumping” a resource simply means that you are approaching its maximum (i.e. you are at 3 Chi and channeling Soothing Mist so you will probably hit 4 Chi soon) and you need to get rid of some of it.  I often find myself using Enveloping Mist at the start of a fight because I don’t have a reason to use Uplift yet but I still want to continuously generate and spend Chi to build up my Mana Tea stacks.

In a 5-man dungeon setting, Enveloping Mist is slightly more helpful since you alone are responsible for healing your tank and because you are likely to be channeling Soothing Mist on your tank more often than you might be in a raid setting. It also remains a good way of dumping excess Chi when the group isn’t taking damage.

There are some raid nights and some boss fights in which I don’t bother to use Enveloping Mist at all. I would say it is arguably the strangest of our spells because when I do use it, it often has nothing to do with what the spell itself does and more with how much Chi it costs. Above all, I would caution against making the mistake that this is a tank-saving ability, since you really will have much better luck using Surging Mist in that kind of situation.

Up Next: Fistweaving

Tomorrow’s post will cover the oft-misunderstood “Fistweaving” side of Mistweaver healing. We will discuss how to incorporate Fistweaving into a healing rotation, being a melee healer, and whether it is absolutely necessary to use Fistweaving abilities in order to be an effective Mistweaver. As always, questions and comments are welcome here on the blog, via email, or on Twitter.

Mistweaver 101: Back to Basics

December 17, 2013

MW Basics

Hello there Mistweavers and future Mistweaver converts! As I scoured the internet for resources, I noticed that the vast majority of Mistweaver material out there is either woefully outdated or geared toward players who already know the class fairly well. There are guides about how to maximize your output in cutting edge progression, but relatively few that discuss how to get started with the class.

In light of that, today’s post will be an exploration of the basics of Mistweaver healing. This is intended to be an overview that should hopefully get you started with a new Mistweaver alt or a level 90 Monk who hasn’t had a chance to try our awesome healing spec yet.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading the first post in this series on Chi & Mana management. Because our interaction with our resources is so essential for Mistweaver gameplay, it’s important to have an understanding of how Chi & Mana work before moving on to spells.

The Basics

Mistweavers are relatively mobile healers who use two resources, Mana and Chi, to heal their targets. Our heals excel in fights that require a group to be spread out, because our primary healing spells are not area-of-effect abilities (as opposed to a Resto Druid’s Efflorescence, for example). We use leather Intellect gear and can equip either a staff or a one-hand weapon and an off-hand. Spirit is generally less of a concern for Mistweaver Monks than for other healers because Mistweavers rely heavily on our Mana Tea ability to regenerate Mana in combat.

Stance, Statue, & Buff

While it is obviously difficult to discuss a “healing rotation” for any healing spec, let alone for Mistweavers, there are a few things we should remember to do in all situations:

Stance of the Wise Serpent Stance of the Wise Serpent is our healing stance.

Wise Serpent converts our Energy to Mana and allows the use of the majority of our healing spells.  It also increases our healing done, our haste, and makes it possible for us to effectively deal melee damage.  You should always be in this stance as a Mistweaver.

jade serpent statue Jade Serpent Statue should be placed in an area where it will be able to heal the majority of your group.

Unless you are anticipating a very short fight before you move on (i.e. trash packs), you will want to summon your Jade Serpent Statue to help you heal.  The statue has a 30 second cooldown before you can summon it again, it lasts for 15 minutes, and it can target any friendly players within 40 yards.  Summoning the statute is free, so you don’t have to worry about wasting Mana on it if you need to move it during the course of a fight.

Your statue interacts with your melee damage (as we will discuss in the Fistweaving post) and it also will channel Soothing Mist on an injured target anytime that you are channeling Soothing Mist. The statue’s version of Soothing Mist is a “smart heal,” meaning that it will automatically choose an injured party member to heal.  It can heal the same target that you are actively healing, but it does not necessarily do so. You cannot control which person in your party the statue heals.

The statue will continue to heal the same party member for as long as you channel Soothing Mist and will not choose a new target unless you begin your channel again.  For example, if I channel Soothing Mists on my tank and the statue decides to heal me, it will continue to heal me for the duration of my channel or until I cancel it.  If instead I channel Soothing Mist on my tank for a few seconds and then switch to channel it on a DPS, the statue will also select a new target at that time.

Legacy of the Emperor Legacy of the Emperor is the Mistweaver’s group-wide buff.

Legacy of the Emperor increases Strength, Agility, and Intellect by 5%.  This is the same buff as Blessing of Kings and Gift of the Wild, so it will not stack with either of those.  If someone in your group asks to be buffed with stats, Kings, Mark, or paw, they are asking you to cast this buff.

Generating and Spending Chi

By far, the biggest difference between Mistweavers and all other healers is our interaction with and use of our dual healing resources – Mana and Chi.

As a Mistweaver, you essentially have 2 types of abilities:

  • Spells that cost Mana and generate Chi
  • Spells that cost Chi

At max level, you will usually use these abilities, which cost Mana, to generate Chi:

Soothing Mist Soothing Mist is a long, channeled spell that heals for a moderate amount. Each tick has a 30% chance to generate 1 Chi.
Renewing Mists Renewing Mists is a heal-over-time that spreads to a total of 3 targets and always generates 1 Chi when cast.
Surging Mist Surging Mist is a large, expensive heal that generates 1 Chi and becomes an instant-cast if we cast it while we are channeling Soothing Mist.
Expel harm Expel Harm is a self-heal that you should use anytime you are below 100% health, and which generates 1 Chi.
Jab Jab is a melee ability that strikes your target for a small amount of damage and generates 1 Chi.

At max level, you will usually use these abilities to spend Chi:

uplift Uplift is large instant heal that will affect anyone who currently has Renewing Mists on them and costs 2 Chi.
thunder focus tea Thunder Focus Tea can be used once every 45 seconds, costs 1 Chi, and buffs either Surging Mist or Uplift, depending upon how it is used.
spell_monk_envelopingmist Enveloping Mist is a powerful heal-over-time that costs 3 Chi and increases the healing done by Soothing Mist by 30%.
Tiger Palm Tiger Palm is a melee ability that costs 1 Chi and strikes the target for a moderate amount of damage.
Blackout Kick Blackout Kick is a melee ability that costs 2 Chi and strikes the target for a moderate amount of damage.

You will notice that the spells listed above are a mix of both targeted healing spells and melee abilities.  This is because Mistweavers are capable of healing through their damaging attacks, based upon a passive ability called Eminence.  This style of healing, which is referred to as “Fistweaving,” is an important part of our toolkit.  Fistweaving will be covered in depth in an upcoming Mistweaver 101 guide, so we will only touch upon it briefly here.  For now, it is simply important to remember that your melee abilities can generate and consume Chi just like your healing spells do.

Basic Healing Rotation

The following is a very basic set of priorities for healing in a dungeon or raid setting. We will cover both dungeon and raid healing, including introducing Fistweaving into your rotation, in upcoming posts.

  1. Keep Renewing Mists Renewing Mists on your tank.
  2. Use uplift Uplift if multiple players need to be healed.
  3. Cast Surging Mist Surging Mist on anyone who needs to be quickly healed to full.
  4. Use thunder focus tea Thunder Focus Tea on cooldown to either refresh the duration of Renewing Mists Renewing Mists on everyone who currently has the buff, or to double the healing of your next Surging Mist Surging Mist.
  5. Use Expel harm Expel Harm anytime you are below 100% health.
  6. Use spell_monk_envelopingmist Enveloping Mist on your tank if they are taking a large amount of sustained damage or if you need to spend excess Chi.
  7. Channel Soothing Mist Soothing Mist on your tank or on any player who is currently taking damage.
  8. Channel mana tea Mana Tea to replenish your mana as needed.

Above all else, remember that you should always be generating and spending Chi. There is rarely a reason to allow your character to keep Chi for extended time periods, and there is almost never a reason to sit with 4 Chi.  Chi should be spent as quickly as it is generated.

Up Next:  Spell Breakdown

The next post in this series will breakdown the spells discussed above in greater detail.  It will be a slightly more advanced post, targeted to players who really want to get the most out of each of their healing spells and understand how they interact with one another.

Mistweaver 101: Chi & Mana

December 16, 2013

MW Resources

A funny thing happened when I tried to write the much requested “Basics of Mistweaving” post – I realized I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t write a “basics” post because the most basic, most important thing about learning how to Mistweave isn’t a list of spells or a discussion of stat weights or anything like that.  It’s one deceptively simple idea to which you must absolutely subscribe before you can go any further:

The most important thing that you do as a Mistweaver is generate and spend Chi.

Read that sentence a few times and let it settle into your brain.  As backwards as it may seem, this is why we are starting with an overview of Mistweaver resource management before we get into a discussion of the basic spells that we use to heal.  Unlike every other healing class in the game, Mistweavers’ most important mini-game isn’t the one that they play with green health bars on their healing UI; it’s the game they play with the management of their own resources.

In order to get the most value out of Mistweaving (and to do so without running out of Mana), it is essential to constantly generate and spend Chi while you are healing.  Seasoned healers may remember the old rule of “always be casting.”  This Mistweaver Golden Rule is similar.  Regardless of whether damage is actively going out during a fight, we should still always be generating and spending Chi in order to gain charges of Mana Tea, which is arguably the most important spell we have.  But we’ll come back to Mana Tea in a moment – we need to talk about Chi first.

Generating and Spending Chi

All Monks have Chi, which is a combo point system that is somewhat similar to a Paladin’s Holy Power.  Your Chi is stored on your character and not on an enemy target.  Chi does not deplete while you are in combat, but it does slowly deplete once you leave combat.   Monks can have a maximum of 4 Chi at any time.  While it is possible to have 5 Chi if you take the level 45 Ascension talent, Mistweavers rarely choose this for reasons we will soon discuss.

As a Mistweaver, you essentially have 2 types of abilities:

  • Spells that cost Mana and generate Chi
  • Spells that cost Chi

Mistweavers’ spells cost either Mana or Chi.  Most healing spells that cost Mana will generate Chi.  (The exceptions to this rule are your major cooldown spells, which cost Mana but do not generate Chi.)

Because your most powerful heals cost Chi, it is essential that you are using spells which will generate this resource.  That means you will be spending much of your Mana not on exceptionally powerful healing spells, but instead on generating Chi.  This is a pretty big paradigm shift from what most healers will be used to, but it is absolutely essential that you understand this point.  For most healers, Mana is their most important resource.  For Monks, Mana is really only important in that it helps you get more Chi.

To really buy-in to the style of Mistweaver healing, you need to look at that blue Mana bar and think of it as completely expendable.  This can be challenging for seasoned healers who are used to becoming progressively more conservative with their healing as they see their mana dip below 50%.  Mistweaving plays to a very aggressive style of healing, in which you are constantly burning through large chunks of your Mana, and then getting a huge percentage of it back when you use Mana Tea.

Mana Tea

Each Monk spec has a specialized brew, and Mana Tea is the Mistweaver beverage of choice.  Each time you spend 4 Chi, you will generate 1 charge of Mana Tea.  Mana Tea will show up as a buff on your character and you can have up to 20 charges at a time.  Those charges will persist through death, which can be a huge help if you need to be battle-rezed during a fight.  The charges will reset when you begin a raid boss encounter, however, so there is no point in trying to stack them prior to a pull.

Mana Tea also interacts with your Critical Strike rating.  Each time you generate a stack of Mana Tea, you have a chance equal to your crit chance to generate double the Mana Tea charges.  In plain language, that means that if you have a 50% crit chance, then each time you spend 4 Chi, you have a 50% chance to gain 2 stacks of Mana Tea instead of 1.

The one other way that Mistweavers can generate stacks of Mana Tea is by using the level 45 talent Chi Brew.  Since 5.4, Chi Brew is largely seen as a “mandartory” talent for Mistweaver Monks.  Chi Brew has 2 charges, and for each charge it will give you 2 Chi and 2 stacks of Mana Tea.  Each charge has a 45 second cooldown.  You can use the charges back to back and you will have 1 charge back again after 45 seconds, and a second charge will return an additional 45 seconds after that.  This talent is considered mandatory for Mistweavers because the on-demand stacks of Mana Tea and the burst healing that 2 guaranteed Chi can provide makes it superior to the other choices in that talent tier.

But what does Mana Tea actually do and how do you use it?  Mana Tea is a channeled spell that restores 4% of your maximum Mana for every 0.5 seconds that you cast it (or 8% of your Mana per second, for those who prefer nice round numbers).

Let’s go over that again.  Mana Tea gives you back 8% of your Mana for every 1 second you channel it.  That is a TON of Mana in a really short time period, and this is exactly why Mana is a much more expendable resource for Mistweavers than for any other healer.

When we were all first learning about Mistweavers, many people compared Mana Tea to a Potion of Focus.  While this is a helpful comparison in some ways, it is also important to understand why Mana Tea is significantly different and stronger.  A Potion of Focus requires you to find 10 seconds of a fight during which your character can remain completely still so that she will get the full duration of the effect and regain the maximum possible amount of mana.  If you have to cancel that channel early for one reason or another – well, tough cookies.  You now can’t use a potion for the rest of the fight and you didn’t get the full Mana you could have out of the potion you did use.

While Mana Tea also requires you to stand still and channel a spell to return mana, unlike the Potion of Focus you do not lose any charges of Mana Tea if you interrupt the spell before you consume all your current charges.  This means that you can use Mana Tea at any time for as long as you want and there is no punishment for having to cancel the channel.  Getting pretty low on Mana and you’re able to stand still for a few seconds?  Channel for as long as you can and you’ll get nearly all of your Mana back.  Have to run because a boss ability has randomly selected you as its target?  That’s Ok!  Just run off to a safe spot and start drinking your Mana Tea again when you’re able to.  Mana Tea is extremely versatile and because the amount of time you need to channel to get back a huge portion of your Mana is so small, it is much easier to sneak it into your rotation than you would expect.

In Practice

All this is why Mana (and by extension, Spirit) is such a minor concern for Mistweaver Monks.  We go through our entire Mana pool multiple times during a boss fight and not only is that perfectly Ok – it’s how we manage to be effective healers.  We are balanced around that very notion.  For a real example, in a recent 9.5 minute Heroic Immerseus kill, the Holy Paladin in our raid group regained about 200,000 Mana over the course of the fight.  From Mana Tea alone, I regained more than 750,000 Mana in the same span of time.  So if I include the 300,000 Mana that I would have started out with at the pull, that means I could have gone through my entire Mana pool 3.5 times during that fight.

Mana is expendable.  It’s only important to you as the primary way you get more Chi.

At the start of a dungeon or boss encounter, there isn’t usually a lot of healing to be done.  Damage generally ramps up over the course of the fight.  So for most healers, this means that you have some time after the pull to either do a little DPS or perhaps get some shields rolling on your team, depending upon what class you play.

For Mistweavers, that downtime is when we need to build up some stacks of Mana Tea to hold in reserve.  Whether we generate Chi by running into melee and Fistweaving at the start of the fight or by intentionally overhealing the raid, it is important that we start spending that Mana and Chi as early as possible so that we’ll have a few stacks of Mana Tea when we really need them later in the fight.  Upcoming posts will go into greater detail as to how we go about this.

Optional Reading:  Why We Don’t Glyph Mana Tea

I’ve written about Mana management once before and at that time I discussed the benefits of the Mana Tea Glyph.  This glyph makes Mana Tea an instant ability that consumes 2 stacks at a time to give you back 8% of your Mana.  It also gives Mana Tea a 10 second cooldown.  Since Patch 5.4, this glyph is really no longer viable for Mistweavers.  Because our Crit rating can now give us extra stacks of Mana Tea and because Chi Brew is essentially mandatory, we will generate stacks of Mana Tea too quickly to be able to consume if we are using the glyph.

Next Up: Back to Basics

The next Mistweaver 101 post will actually be the basics guide that so many have requested.  I apologize for this long segue at the beginning of the series, but as I explained at the top of the post, understanding how your resources function is really at the heart of being a Mistweaver Monk.  Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or comment on the blog, via email, or on Twitter.

Mistweaver 101: Introduction

December 15, 2013

For those who follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been talking a bit about just how much I love the Mistweaver healing style lately.  To expand upon what I said there, I appreciate just how much effort obviously went into crafting a healing spec that truly feels like it is the next logical step for a team of class designers who have experienced 9 years of growth.  It feels like Healing+ to me, which isn’t meant to diminish any of the other healing specs so much as to point out that Mistweavers specifically and monks generally had the benefit of years of design experience without being hampered by any preexisting notions of what this new class “should be.”

It’s challenging, and it has a resource meta game unlike what any other healing class has right now.  There are many risk versus reward decisions that can really set apart a competent Mistweaver from a highly skilled one.

But before we get into any of the finer points of endgame Mistweaver awesomeness, we need to cover the basics.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting several guides for people who are interested in breaking into Mistweaver healing for the first time.  Most of these will be entry level, meaning they will be abbreviation-free and explanation heavy.

I intend to cover my UI setup, including the WeakAuras that I use to make my life a lot easier.  I will certainly discuss leveling as a Mistweaver, and specifically “fistweaving” versus traditional healing.  There will be some detailed information about the Mistweaver resource meta game once we get to level 90 content.  I may also do a live stream at some point to answer questions and demonstrate some of these ideas in action.

But in the meantime, I need some input from those of you who read this blog.  What questions do you have about Mistweaver healing?  What problems have you run into along the way?  What aspects of the spec just really stump or confuse you?  Any and all Mistweaver questions are welcome and appreciated.  Please post them here as a comment, email me, or send me a tweet.

I’ll do my best to fold all the questions I get into my upcoming posts, which will all be tagged with the “Mistweaver 101″ category and title.

Rules of Engagement – A Primer for Discussing Sexism in WoW

November 20, 2013
Jaina does her best Cheris Kramarae impression.

Jaina does her best Cheris Kramarae impression.

Part of being a community is sharing a common interest, language, set of ideals, and at least a basic understanding of how the community communicates.  To be a part of the Warcraft community, you probably need to know something about World of Warcraft.  If someone were to write a blog post discussing “those hobbits that live in Silverforge” or “that soothsayer who played a support role in our 35 man mission last night,” it would be immediately clear to the Warcraft community that the blogger doesn’t actually understand that much about WoW.  We speak the same language and we have a common set of rules for engagement with one another.

Because the WoW community is so large and so expansive after 9 years, it has naturally developed some subgroups along the way.  Theorycrafters, RPers,and PvPers have specific language and tools that they use.  If you are not initiated into or familiar with these communities, you probably aren’t going to have the language or tools you need to engage in a meaningful conversation with them.  Imagine attempting to dispute a theorycrafter who has done extensive math to figure out whether one trinket is better than another trinket in a certain fight for certain classes, but not actually understanding any of the underlying math that supports their conclusion.  Most people wouldn’t do it, and those who would are either trolls or well aware that their path was fraught with peril.  A pretty basic rule of any communication, particularly any type of critique, is to know where the conversation stands and how we got to where we are now.  Rule #1 before writing any sort of research paper or critical analysis is to “know the conversation.”

If one wants to join an existing conversation but has not yet been “initiated” into that particular subgroup’s existing language and framework, that’s Ok!  We need more theorycrafters.  We need more RPers.  We need more PvPers.  AND we need more people who want to talk about sexism as it pertains to World of Warcraft.  But to step into a conversation with no knowledge of its history or the rules that frame it is a bit like walking into a room where a bunch of people have been talking long before you got there and saying, “Yeah, but here’s what I think.”  Without having heard the parts of the conversation that came before, and without asking anyone to help you get caught up, you are speaking with a complete lack of context and perspective on what’s going on.  It’s uninformed at best and rude at worst.

As a woman and a feminist who loves to play World of Warcraft, I’m really happy to see so many people taking this opportunity to voice their thoughts on character representation in WoW.  Unfortunately, I am also incredibly disheartened to see so many voices joining the conversation without having the respect to learn some of the rules of the engagement for feminist discourse first, and even lobbing some criticism at the feminist movement in general that hasn’t been relevant in at least 20 or 30 years now.  You wouldn’t go to Icy Veins and tell them that their understanding of how to gem and enchant a resto shaman is wrong without knowing a good deal about resto shaman.  You wouldn’t tell an experienced RPer that their character’s backstory breaks lore without knowing something about lore.  You wouldn’t tell a ranked arena player that they should use their trinket at a different point in the match unless you had done quite a lot of PvP yourself.  Likewise, it is unreasonable and unfair to attempt to refute a feminist critical analysis of WoW without actually understanding that analysis.  Nor are discussions of sexism in WoW an excuse to declare open season on all feminist discourse throughout history.

People like Apple Cider Mage, who discuss sexism in WoW regularly, are often good enough to provide newcomers with a list of resources to get them started in the conversation.  If you want to talk about sexism in WoW, you should at least know what things like derailment, privilege, and internalized sexism are.  There are plenty of internet resources out there that will provide you with a basic knowledge of these concepts, and attempting to enter into a feminist discussion without that knowledge is very much like stepping into a raid instance with ungemmed and unenchanted gear.  You don’t do it.

All of this is not meant to sound overly academic or time-consuming.  You can have great conversations about sexism even if you’ve never taken a course on the subject or written a paper from a feminist perspective.  But if you respect the people in the conversation and respect the work that they have already done up to this point, it is absolutely your job to understand the basics before you decide to add in your own thoughts.  Go ahead, read the resources on Apple Cider Mage’s blog, at the very least the Feminism 101 post.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

So now that you have an understanding of the basics, we can talk about the problems with the counterarguments being thrown around.  I’ll get the easy ones out of the way first.

If your first reaction to a woman who sends out an alarm on Twitter asking other women to be careful because a few of her friends were roofied at a bar near the con is to call this an “unsubstantiated twitter accusation,”  you are participating in rape culture.  You are insisting that it makes more sense to assume that the woman on Twitter is lying or exaggerating what happened to her friends rather than being willing to believe that the use of drugs like GHB is perfectly common and likely during a gathering where many inebriated strangers are hanging around near plenty of hotel rooms.  Don’t do that!

If you believe that feminists should refer to themselves as “equalists” because you believe this better conveys the desire for equality between the sexes (rather than – I don’t even know what you’re going for here – assuming that all feminists are man-hating, misandrist, feminazis?), then what are you actually describing is not a feminist, but a “straw feminist.”  Describing feminists as universally man-hating, angry, and wanting to put women above men is a form of derailment.  The notion that “equalist” wouldn’t be a redundant term for most feminists demonstrates a willingness to make judgments about the community without actually getting to know it at all.

(Additionally, suggesting that it’s silly to insist on women’s representation in WoW because Garona was a product of rape and we should really want to change her story first ignores plenty of discussions the community has already had about the prominence of rape in WoW’s story up to this point.  Bringing up the problematic aspects of Garona’s history is a good thing!  Assuming that no one else is talking about it and holding it against the community – not so good.)

If your entire post consistently refers to women as “females” (or worse, “girls”) then just know that we’re probably going to read the word “females” in the Ferengi voice and assume that you mean it with the same disdain they did.  Generally in feminist discourse, “female” is used as an adjective and “women” is used as either a noun or an adjective.  “Girls” is used when you are talking about very young women, and it should really be used sparingly if at all.

If you evaluate another person’s argument based upon their tone (a tone which is entirely your own inference because you are reading text from the internet and not actually hearing their voice in person), you are participating in yet another type of derailment called tone argument.  You are refusing to engage with the actual critical argument of the post because your perception is that the writer’s tone was too hostile for her argument to be valid.  Similarly, praising a blog post for being exceptionally “calm” or “reasonable,” while ignoring the content of the post itself, is essentially a backhanded compliment for the same reason.

If you tell feminists that they should quit “bitching, pissing and moaning” because it is not our right as players to tell the game’s creators what direction the story should take, well that’s a pretty giant dose of tone argument + you being Just Plain Wrong.  Blizzard consistently asks and seeks out feedback about every aspect of their games, up to and including story, and Blizzard employees have actively engaged in this conversation pretty much since it began.  Not to mention that the idea of “wait and see” because we are still in the early stages of the expansion ignores that Blizzard’s history with women characters is not especially stellar, so we have no reason to believe there will be representation based upon what we’ve seen in the past.

If you truly believe, particularly if you are a woman, that having diverse and interesting women characters in game is not something that is especially important to you, that’s Ok.  But to insist that because you do not find this important means no one else should either, or to attempt to silence a conversation about representation with this statement is more derailment, and probably some internalized sexism too.  Worse still, telling women that they should be “strong” enough not to need women characters, or claiming that it is bad parenting to want positive role models for your children rather than being that positive role model yourself is deeply insulting.  Women can be “strong” and also want to see that strength echoed in the characters presented to us in game.  Mothers can be “strong” role models for their daughters and also appreciate the value of additional women role models in media.  Asking for these things does not mean that we necessarily need media to teach us how to be strong women or mothers – it means we are asking media to properly represent the wide spectrum of who women are and what matters to us.

While we’re at it, let’s take Narci’s suggestion and just toss out the notion of “strong” women being the thing that we really want.  It’s not just about representing women who exemplify traditional (often masculine) values of physical strength, perseverance, and stoicism, but about giving us a diversity of women characters who are more truly representative of the diversity of women in real life.

If you think a lot of the feminist WoW usual suspects are sounding a bit frustrated or tired recently, you’re probably right.  Many of us are frustrated and tired, as Mushan so aptly pointed out, simply because we still have to have this conversation.  But also we are frustrated because rather than getting a chance to really engage and “do work” with the very real examples of sexism in WoW, we are instead being challenged with criticisms of the feminist movement in general – criticisms which have been answered again and again by the feminist movement itself.

Statements like “I’m a woman and this doesn’t bother me,” or “Stop being so angry and people will listen to you,” or “You should really focus on equality instead of trying to make women seem better than men,” do not add to a conversation.  These are not challenges that invite further discussion about the topic at hand, but rather challenges as to whether feminism as a viewpoint is valid (and also gross misunderstandings of exactly what a feminist viewpoint is).  If you don’t think a feminist viewpoint is valid, well that’s a different argument and one that I’m not at all willing to have with you – especially if you don’t know anything at all about the history or current state of feminism.

Still more concerning are attempts to engage feminist criticism without acknowledging or accepting its fundamental premise – that gender inequality is a fact, that it remains a fact, and that we do not live in a society that treats men and women equally.  To quote Apple Cider Mage on this:  “If you can’t accept that basic axis, then you’re not going to be coming into a feminist-minded conversation on the same page.”  To have an honest conversation about sexism in WoW, you must first accept that sexism does exist.

So yeah, we probably are a little tired.  Just as it can be a little tiring to attempt to explain to a non-WoW player why exactly you’re trying to napkin math about whether your 4 piece bonus is better than that Warforged helm you have, it’s pretty exhausting to read repeated criticisms from people who don’t even have enough respect for the topic to get the 101 basics down first.  Dialogue is great.  Communication is amazing.  But please come to the table with a knowledge of your surroundings and “know the conversation.”

Setting up VuhDo for Malkorok

November 19, 2013

Malkorok can be an extremely fun fight to heal thanks to a very unique mechanic that actually prevents healing for the majority of the fight.  Unfortunately, as with so many things, it can be difficult to understand and respond to this mechanic if you are relying on the standard UI for your information.

I have been using VuhDo to heal since the Wrath expansion, and I am always very impressed by how many of the important buffs and debuffs for a new raid tier come prepackaged with the add-on each time it updates for a new patch.  Oddly, the shield debuffs on the Malkorok encounter were not included with the latest update to the add-on, and I ended up putting them in myself.  Below I will explain how to do so, and also how to color-code your VuhDo bars in a way that will draw your attention only to the strength of a player’s shield rather than her current health.  This is what the finished product looks like:

WoWScrnShot_102413_203921

First, we will need to add in the 3 unique debuffs players will receive when you heal them when Ancient Miasma is present during Phase 1 of the fight.  These debuffs are called:

To add a custom debuff to VuhDo, first click the “Debuffs” tab on the option panel, and then select the “Custom” button.

Debuff Panel

Next, type the name of each of the 3 debuffs we need to add into the text field under “Enter new Buff or Debuff name,” and click the “Save” button after entering each debuff name.

This is good enough to ensure that VuhDo is now tracking the Barrier debuffs, but I prefer to take an additional step.  Next we will color-code our bars to show us the strength of the Barrier each player has.

Debuff colors

To do so you will need to select  your debuff and then check the box that says “Bar Color” and pick the color you want to associate to each debuff.  (To keep it simple, I use green for Strong, yellow for normal, and red for Weak.)  The one odd thing about this feature, which may be a bug, is that after you select a color you should NOT hit “Save.”  Doing so will simply clear out your color for some reason.

And that’s it!  Good luck with your Malkorok endeavors and have fun storming the capital city!

The Alliance Superpower?

November 19, 2013

With Blizzcon now a week behind us, plenty of time and words have already been spent discussing all that was said and what it means.  While today’s post will be covering something Chris Metzen said during the reveal for Warlords of Draenor, I won’t be covering that one particular thing that I already have said my piece about on Twitter and on the episode of Justice Points that was released today.  (Though you should certainly go check out the links above for some extremely important discussion about the representation of women in Warlords.)

No, instead I will be fussing about something completely different.  Somewhere amidst a speech about manly orcs doing lots of orc things in the upcoming expansion, Metzen snuck in a comment about the Alliance being Azeroth’s “superpower” after the events of Mists of Pandaria, and culminating with the Siege of Orgrimmar.

What?

What?

So yes, the Siege of Orgrimmar raid did involve a combined army of Horde and Alliance entering the Horde capital by force.  We do eventually remove the current Horde warchief from power, but only after we have essentially received the permission of the other Horde leadership (namely Vol’jin during the Battlefield Barrens questline) to do so.  This is nothing like getting together a group of 40 friends to go storm the Horde capital city and get your Black War Bear mount.  It is not a “rah-rah Alliance” moment; it’s a “cleaning up Thrall’s mess” moment.

This is not the first time I’ve felt that there is a fundamental confusion about what exactly it means for some part of WoW to feel Horde-centric or Alliance-centric.  Siege of Orgrimmar will always be, to me, a Horde-centric raid and storyline because we are fighting orcs in the Horde capital city to advance the Horde’s plotline.  The idea that the Alliance is a superpower seems to come from the notion that we brought the fight to the Horde’s doorstep, as if we had any other choice but to do so.  Garrosh is hanging out in Orgrimmar’s basement with the heart of an Old God.  Our options are to stop him or to let him basically destroy the world.

Again, this definitely not a time to play “Hail the Conquering Hero” as Alliance forces storm the Horde gates.  We are there to do one job and one job only – remove Garrosh from power.  We make no additional gains as a faction based on the events that occur in Siege, except perhaps for Varian to make a few empty threats to the new Horde warchief.  Walking into Orgrimmar to depose Garrosh doesn’t make the Alliance a superpower, especially when the Horde does exactly the same thing.

Obviously it is always appealing to see one’s own faction as the underdog of the story, and Horde players could rightfully do so for a long stretch of time in the earlier years of WoW.  Yet the political attitudes of each faction have slowly developed or revealed themselves over time, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the Horde as such.

During the story of the Wandering Isle, the pandaren faction leaders, Ji Firepaw and Aysa Cloudsinger, join their respective factions based upon a very clear set of values.  Ji takes action when Aysa waits to consider the best course.  The Horde acts while the Alliance reacts.  It’s a divide that was present in past plot points but has been growing increasingly true in recent years.  The Alliance seems content to go home, build, and develop whereas volatile elements within the Horde demand expansion and conflict.  These ideals are so ingrained that they’ve even become a part of the way the Horde and Alliance name things.  The Horde has the Dominance Offensive (two strong, aggressive, active words) versus the Alliance’s Operation Shieldwall (words that suggest planning and defense).

All of this is why it rings false to say that the Alliance have had their day in the sun, their moment as Azeroth’s superpower, and that’s why it’s time to give the Horde a chance in the spotlight with the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  Consistently, from Cataclysm onward, we have seen a push to advance the Horde storylines with a lack of similar attention to the stories of Alliance heroes.  Jaina is arguably the Alliance character whose storyline has progressed the most in MoP, but all of her character development is a result of an act of war by the Horde.  Again, the Horde acts and the Alliance reels to pick up the pieces.

The counterargument provided by Dave Kosak seems to be as follows:

Except that that doesn’t ring especially true either.  Are we really expected to believe that the Alliance’s goal walking into Orgrimmar wasn’t merely to depose to Garrosh, but to burn the whole place down?  There may have been one Alliance leader thinking that, but it certainly wasn’t Varian’s goal to destroy (or dismantle) the Horde when he led his army into the city.  There’s no evidence to support this in-game and so the reason for continued fighting between the factions feels increasingly manufactured and nonsensical.

At the end of the day, this idea of the Alliance as a superpower doesn’t bother me because I care about how much acreage the Alliance and the Horde each have in Ashenvale, or because I want Varian to return to his warmongering ways.  What matters to me is screentime and story presence.  I want to find out what Jaina does next.  I want to see whether Anduin’s friendship with Wrathion has changed his views on anything.  I want to learn pretty much anything about Moira.  I want to see Tyrande as a fearsome warrior again (preferably without Malfurion hanging around).  I would love to see the gnomes elect a new leader because, nothing against Gelbin, but gnome leaders aren’t appointed for life and isn’t it about time for some new blood?

These are the stories that are important to me as an Alliance player.  When I hear about an expansion that is essentially about the Horde going back in time to interact with its past, that doesn’t excite me.  Alliance stories have a tendency to circle around the periphery of the main plot thrust, only coming to the center when it becomes necessary for us to react to something.  The idea that we are Azeroth’s superpower, when our story is so rarely central to WoW’s narrative, is difficult for me to accept.

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