Piloting, from hercs to mechs.

Piloting, from hercs to mechs.
A running recap of what I'm doing for fun, between active duty flying, technology, gadgets, and some of my favorite games.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tier 5 transmog, a quick trip for a great set

OK, so for those of you who missed the tier 5 raids, you'll be pleased to learn that they are each soloable at level 90, although the final bosses in Serpentshrine and The Eye will each require more strategy than the lesser bosses.  I now have 4/5 pieces of the tier 5 transmog set, after just 1 run in each of those instances.  I did die once on Kael'thas, the final boss in The Eye.
Also, it's worth noting that Kael'thas also has a small chance to drop a coveted phoenix mount.

Here are some shots from recent boss kills, and I have to add that it was a lot of fun, and quite lucrative, to run these level 70 instances.

Tier 5 gloves!
Fathom-Lord stuns a LOT.
Lady Vashj was here!  Tier 5 helm!
Void Reaver silences a LOT.
Kael'thas was a proper challenge!  Tier 5 chest!
A disc priest can solo serpentshrine cavern, lady vashj, tempest keep, and Kael'thas at level 90!  It is definitely possible to get your tier 5 transmog set in 1 week.  The belt, Belt of the Long Road, must be crafted by a tailor who has the BOP pattern, so you may need to spam org chat.  A very nice player crafted mine for free when I provided the mats, which I bought on the AH.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tier 1 and 2 level 60 instances all soloed as a disc priest

Any vanilla players will remember this scene...Ragnaros down once again.  He drops the Tier 2 legs, btw.
Well, this went remarkably faster than I expected!  In a short amount of time, I cleared all of BWL, Onyxia, and Molten Core.  That means I have proven that it is possible to solo all of the bosses that drop the 8 pieces of Tier 2 Transcendence gear.  Since killing the bosses goes quite quickly, and since you can only do those instances once per week, I have decided to also work on Tier 5.  My favorite priest tier set, tier 3, is no longer available in the game, unfortunately.  However, Tiers 2 and 5 are each remarkably distinct sets that look fantastic on a priest.

Here are clips of my Tier 2 solo tour:
I got the boots off Broodlord Lashlayer!

The 5 bosses following Razorgore were not hard.  Vaelstraza, the second boss will cause you to die after you beat her, because of a debuff.  At 90, DPS was not a problem at all.
Use the sand and dispel or you will get MC'd, he heals to 100%, and you have to wait 5 minutes.  Trust me.
 Chromaggus took a little longer, because I forgot about his mind control, but I got the shoulders!!!  These Shoulders took me months to earn when I used to raid with a DKP system.  How ironic I should pick them up on my first day of trying.
Nefarian turned out to be just as easy as the lesser bosses.
Onyxia was easy to find and simple to kill.  Divine Star helps with the adds.  She drops the Tier 2 helm, btw.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Regaining the original tier 2...old school loot

I have decided that I am going to restore my priest to the original set that I had at the the end of vanilla WoW, all those years ago.
Some people may not know that the old tier sets, as well as the bosses that yield them, still exist.  On my original priest that was long since traded away or deleted or both, I had EVERY single piece of Transcendence gear, and I got that gear at a time when resilience did not yet exist and there were no higher instances in the game than Blackwing Lair.  I was literally the best geared priest on my original server, Smolderthorn, for quite some time.
Unfortunately, that character was deleted from WoW years ago, and my new priest, of the same name, has fine gear but not the legacy pieces that once stayed in my bank.

HOWEVER, you can still get this stuff!  I am now going through the process of clearing Blackwing Lair ALONE!  Despite many naysayers online, I successfully destroyed the first boss, Razorgore, using Discipline.
Details, in case anybody wants to try this: I MC him on the orb, start destroying eggs on the far side, and as the timer comes close, I bring him back to me, shield him, then use divine star to thin out the adds and build up aggro.  The shield heals and protects him, but you can only use an instant cast spell because casting breaks your hold on the orb.
I got about 60% of the eggs on the first MC, and he was still above 80% health.  It took 3 MCs total, and he had about 40% health left at the last egg.  He is, of course, simple to kill at that point.  The only trick is not getting him killed during the egg hatching, but the adds seemed to favor me, for whatever reason.

Good luck all you priests!  And stay tuned as I continue in BWL on my quest for the lost tier 2 gear.  Btw, nothing dropped from Razorgore, so I'll have to try him again next week.  Also btw, I had to get attuned to BWL, which was a simple process that involved soloing upper Blackrock Spire (UBRS), which was a lot of fun to see again as a level 90.  All in all, it took 5 attempts to learn his fight, but it took almost just as long to find the entrance to BWL.  When was the last time you entered Burning Steppes anyways?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


It is finished!
As the server rolled over into a new week, I happened to be here.  In one quick raid, three bosses yielded my final two Titan Runestones.  I then completed my healing challenge (the Crane) despite 1000ms lag.  And after flying all over Pandarea, I found myself on Timeless Isle facing down the four Celestials.  I simply joined in on three of the fights and lucked out on oQueue to be invited to a 40 man raid on the Ox.  I already had a few timeless coins saved up, fortunately.
And now, BAM!  Legendary, for the first time since I began playing 9 years ago.  9 years!!!  Does anybody else feel like that is an unbelievably long time to be playing the same game?  And to still enjoy it!  Unprecedented, to be sure.

I chose Jina-Kang, Kindness of Chi-Ji.  The Legendary cloak automatically as 2/2 upgrade levels when you get it.  The equip bonus is: "Your helpful spells have a chance to grant you Spirit of Chi-Ji, increasing all healing done by 5% and causing all overhealing on players to be redistributed to up to 5 nearby injured friends, for 10 sec."  This item, along with some recent flex loot, pulled my itemlevel up to 540!

I am pumped to try out the new loot in raids.  To quote South Park, "now I can finally play the game."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flying high again!

So, I am back in the flying rotation, and I've got to say...it feels good!  
Me (left) and my crew - Nov '13

And, while we're tearing it up over the friendly skies of Afghanistan, I've had a few moments here and there to continue my raid healing experience.

I finished collecting the top tier transmog set:

And, while I was lucky to loot a Flex 540 item level staff off Galakras, I think the new look compliments the aviary look of the tier set:
I have 548 level shoulders, but I am currently equipping a 528 set piece from LFR so that I can experience the 2 piece set bonus: 10% extra crit whenever I use archangel.  This is HUGE as a disc priest, since I generally use archangel on cooldown while atonement healing.  That means more shields on raid members!  Still running around 300-800ms latency in-game, but I've now completed much of ToT (Throne of Thunder) on 10-man and most of the first two zones in SoO (Siege of Orgrimmar) on Flex.  Bottom line: I'm not slumming it in LFRs, and when I do LookingForRaid zones, I usually end up on the top of the meters.

I am countering the lag with prevention, and stats that compliment server-side heal decisions.  Crit, which automatically converts to shielding, is very effective when paired with atonement heals.  Cascade is proving to be valuable as a raid heal, which I often use on cooldown.  Oh, and mindbender is considerably better for me than solace.  Power Word: Solace requires me to use it on cooldown to receive the mana benefits.  Since my latency is high, that global cooldown can be a lot more expensive, and I don't always get the PW:Solace on cooldown.  Mindbender is available every minute and returns a considerable amount of mana with a single button push.  And of course, I am using spirit shell, paired with archangel and inner focus, to prevent damage.

Oh, and I am now a mere 2 Titan Runestones away from my legendary cloak, which has me very excited indeed.  I set a goal to achieve that by the end of the month, and it looks like I will exceed that goal handily.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Disc healing Afghanistan...Priest and Pilot is back, better than Iraq.

Priest and Pilot is back.

I'm about to pick up a full time crew and step out of the job I've been doing for nearly two months.  Up to this point, my Afghanistan experience has been 6 days a week in the "mission planning cell," or tactics shop, supporting our daily theater tactical airlift missions as the deputy chief of tactics.  All that means is that I am responsible at night for the development of the products our crews fly with, and occasionally I get to fly.
How does that relate to the common theme of this blog?
Well, I have had a consistent schedule, and I've made some time to play a game here and there in between my work shifts.  In contrast to Balad, Iraq, where I spent my first two deployments, this place has "high speed" internet in the rooms.
This time around, I set up the small form factor desktop and I use the same USB adapter as before, the AWUS036H that I used in Iraq.  Since the routers are close to the room, I ran the simple omni-directional antenna outside the door to my pod and mounted it using a magnetic base.  (I will create a separate entry for the LAN work I've been doing here to optimize my connection.)

So, the end result is that I have a decent connection which allows me to game online, to varying degrees.  Since arriving, I have taken my priest from itemlevel 485 to 530.  I've managed to complete every raid via LFR, with the exception of the final boss in Siege of Orgrimmar.  The 400ms-1200ms connection makes effective healing a challenge for sure, but I have even completed the Legendary questline through the metagem.  Now, I am patiently gathering the final pieces to earn the Legendary cloak, which will be the first orange item I have ever earned in WoW.

One important lesson I learned early on was that I could not compete as a reactionary healer.  With limited bandwidth and “red” latency, you need to fill a role that either prevents damage or automatically selects heal targets at the server level.  If that isn’t possible, you need to be able to direct heals as quickly as humanly possible.  These parameters drove me to atonement healing as a discipline priest, and forged the way I heal raids technically.
Atonement priests deal a portion of their healing via Smite, Power Word: Solace, and offensive Penance.  The damage is directly (and automatically) duplicated to the raid according to who needs the healing.  The value is great; it maximizes effective healing, reduces overhealing, and removes the time required for choosing healing targets.  When your latency is high, a player may be already healed by the time you select them and cast your direct heal, but atonement healing allows you to be just as effective as the nerd spamming chain heal.  Now, add Halo, Cascade, Spirit Shell, and Power Word: Shield to atonement, and you have a viable healing platform with moderate to high latency.
Addon-wise, some important things had to happen as I ventured into LFR (and later in flex raids through oQueue).  I researched macros for smite, shield, and my direct heals.  I am only in the rookie phase of macro use, and I combine that with a clean UI called "LUI."  These macros all include a mouseover function, which blends nicely with any raid frames.  I happened to settle on Grid2, primarily because of the simplicity and minimalist nature.  Thus, when I place my cursor over the tank’s “square” and hit the key for my PW: Shield, it will shield him even if I’m targeted on an enemy, another raid player, or myself.  Likewise, if I select the tank as my target and cast smite, it will cast against the tank’s target.  Built-in logic allows me to quickly select heals without having to spend valuable time searching for a target.  How a healer would ever succeed at high levels without these tools, I have no idea, but I met a disc priest today in Flex that uses more macros, no mouseover, and focuses on higher atonement dps and healing.  I should also mention that yesterday I ran a Flex 10-man Siege of Orgrimmar (SoO) and was the top healer of 3 healers, and my latency was consistently higher than 850ms the entire time.
And so begins the technical discussion on atonement healing in current raids, both 25-man Looking For Raid (LFR) and 10-man+ Flex raids.  What sets some disc priests apart in the raid setting in Throne of Thunder (ToT) and SoO?  It all comes down to two elements: HPS (healing per second) and damage prevention.  The former includes a proper management of your available mana, appropriate stats on your gear, and simply keeping people from reaching zero.  The latter requires a knowledge of the fight, situational awareness, and appropriate use of preventative spells, such as Spirit Shell.  I’ll be talking a lot about those elements of healing over the next few months while I’m out here.