[Beta]: Mistweaver Leveling 10-20
Good news on my Mistweaver’s leveling woes from yesterday. Though the Westfall questlines still appear to be buggy for Pandaren, I took the tram to Ironforge and then headed for Loch Modan where I experienced absolutely NO bugs and a much quieter leveling environment than in Westfall. I highly recommend sending your pandaren to get to know the dwarves better if you are looking for a good spot to level.
Dungeon Finder Woes
As you may have noticed from my frantic Tweets on the subject yesterday, Dungeon Finder queues are not popping as quickly as I had hoped they would on Beta. In general, it’s taking me anywhere from 15-30 minutes to get a group if I’m queued only as healer. Usually, it’s about half that time if I queue as both healer and DPS – but doing so invariably results in my getting chosen as DPS which totally defeats the point of this experiment.
Consider this a friendly advert for like-minded Beta folk who have an interest in exploring the Brewmaster or Windwalker classes or who, for some reason, feel like leveling any other non-healer through the Beta dungeon finder right now: I need you. Please get in contact with me through email or Twitter if you’d like to be a part of a more consistent dungeon team – 30 minute queues aren’t doing it for me.
Despite this, I did get a chance to run Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, and Shadowfang Keep a handful of times this afternoon. (Sadly, the Dungeon Finder’s cruel RNG skipped me right over the revamped Ragefire Chasm.) One of my favorite Beta bugs so far has Deadmines and SFK awarding low-level characters all of the heroic achievements for those dungeons, so my little pandaren currently has an achievement for doing Heroic Shadowfang Keep – so accomplished!
Healing without add-ons is a special kind of hell, and one that I haven’t had to deal with in about 3 years now, but luckily my recent experiences in SWTOR have somewhat prepared me for this. Mouseover macros are a must for me, and I’ve largely been maintaining my sanity by playing with friendly nameplates on (as seen above) and then using a combination of mouse-over mouse binds and focus macros. It’s not my precious Vuh-do, but I’ll live.
The final, and perhaps most obnoxious, quality of life issue I’m facing with leveling in the Beta right now are gear problems. Every single random enchant green in the Beta is currently bugged so that the stats on the item are removed as soon as you loot it, and the Satchels of Helpful Goods will show up in your bag after a successful dungeon run but will then turn up empty when you open them. Gear isn’t a huge concern for my monk – I transferred over appropriate heirlooms when I copied my druid to the Beta – but this is an annoying headache for someone who wasn’t intending to do much leveling through quests.
New Abilities! (I got 2.)
As I discussed yesterday, Monks get their resurrection spell at level 18. Resuscitate is a normal out-of-combat rez, except for the odd stipulation that casting the rez while within melee range will reduce its cast time by half. I suppose I can see why this might be desirable if Resuscitate were a battle-rez, but since it isn’t … I guess I just don’t see the point. A rez is a rez is a rez – I’m not really worried about standing on top of someone to save 5 seconds. I’m guessing this is supposed to add to the overall melee flavor of the Mistweaver’s healing, but it really doesn’t have much practical application.
Which brings us to the much-anticipated FIRST healing spell I get that uses Chi … Chi Wave.
I hate this thing.
Well, that’s not entirely fair. Chi Wave is super fun to watch bounce around a group. Imagine it as like a Chain Heal, except that instead of bouncing from one friendly target to the next, it bounces from a friendly target to an enemy. So, if you cast Chi Wave on someone in your party, it will heal them and then try to bounce to the closest enemy to damage it. If it then successfully damages an enemy target, it’ll look for the next closest friendly target to bounce to and will then heal them. It can also be cast on an enemy target initially, depending upon how you choose to start the bounce. When Chi Wave is bouncing to a friendly target, it looks like a little green stream of water, and then it turns red when it bounces to harm an enemy. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Here’s the problem. As has been discussed on the Beta forums, Chi Wave really isn’t very smart. It preferences distance, not health level, so it will jump to targets with full health if they are closer to the enemy that took the last bounce even if there is someone who has taken damage within the 20 yard range. It also doesn’t NOT jump from player to player or enemy to enemy. The sequence must go player -> enemy -> player, or enemy -> player -> enemy. As Ghostcrawler points out in the post linked above, the best use for Chi Wave is to keep it on a tank who is taking consistent damage from an enemy (so a single mob boss fight, ideally) since the healing and damage will bounce back and forth between the tank and the boss. This part does work really well. I haven’t spent anytime in Battlegrounds, but I imagine this sort of mechanic would be amazing for PvP as well. If you’re getting hit by anyone within 20 yards, you could cast Chi Wave on yourself for a small heal and then keep pressure on your opponent as it bounces back to them for a decent amount of damage.
But Chi Wave still has a few major problems. First, as you can probably guess from my description above, it’s highly situational. Sure, you can use it whenever you feel like, but there aren’t really that many situations when you’ll get the full use of its healing and damaging capability. Along these same lines, Chi Wave is kinda expensive. It costs 2 Chi to heal – out of a total 4 Chi you can build up at one time. It just seems a little disproportionate considering that Soothing Mists is extremely cheap and mana efficient, and heals for a lot more – there’s really not much reason to choose to use Chi Wave over Soothing Mists. By far the largest problem, though, is that Chi Wave likes to give me heart attacks reminiscent of Wrath-era Starfall … by which I mean that it isn’t smart enough to only target enemies you’re already in combat with. I had a feeling this might be the case, but then experimented a few more times on my unwitting dungeon groups. If I cast Chi Wave on a player target who wasn’t in combat with a pack of mobs, but who was within 20 yards of those mobs, the group would pull. I pretty much can’t imagine that this will make it to live like this since it would be a huge pain in the ass if it did, but for now it means that I have to really keep an eye on what mobs are where if I decide to use Chi Wave to heal someone in my group.
More First(ish) Impressions
Yesterday, Hugh properly summed up my feelings about the Mistweaver spec when he said I thought it was “weird,” but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I think that what Blizzard has really gotten right so far about Mistweaver healing is that it doesn’t feel too similar to any of the other healing classes. The graphics have a great look to them – somewhere between wind and water … kind of like mist, you might say – and though my toolkit is still very limited, I certainly have what I need to get through low-level dungeons. I love this concept, and I think it has a ton of potential to be extremely fun.
My concerns still primarily hinge around the way Mistweavers use Chi, and just how much incentive (or lack thereof) they have to do so until they hit max level. Chi Wave is just not that effective in a lot of PvE situations (though this GC reply suggests that it was actually too effective in level 90 raiding environments), and I won’t get another Chi-using ability until I hit level 62 and get Uplift. For the next 20 levels or so, it seems like Mistweaver healing is pretty much going to be a one-spell experience.
I realize that Blizzard is attempting to do something markedly different with the Monk healing model in that they are looking to create a healing/DPS hybrid. This is an idea that really appeals to me, as some of you may remember from my ongoing love affair with Atonement healing. The problem I see, though, is that if lower level Mistweavers have no particular incentive to spend Chi on any sort of healing spells for the first 60 levels or so, then they’re losing out on a fairly giant aspect of the Monk class. Let me try to explain this another way:
Right now, a Monk healer feels like a normal healer who uses mana to heal. But in addition, they have a secondary resource that’s generated both by the healing and the damage that they do. Since their mana-using heal is extremely effective on its own, they have no reason to use their secondary resource to do anything but DPS. This means that they can do a (comparatively) high amount of DPS simply by using a resource that is generated when they do the job they actually are supposed to do (healing). Nevermind the problems this could cause for DPS balancing – can you picture what a potential nightmare this might be for lowbie PvP?
I have to admit that, at this point, my Mistweaver feels overpowered. Blizzard has been experimenting with the damage that Mistweavers do since Beta launched, nerfing it repeatedly to try to get it in check. I’m really hopeful that they will eventually manage to find someway to make this hybrid model work in a way that neither trivializes the healing nor the DPS that Mistweavers are capable of, but I sure wouldn’t want to be the person responsible for making my way through that design headache.