For veteran raiders, different consumables are probably nothing new, but if you're fresh to raiding the idea (or the available options) might be foreign. I remember when I first started raiding I didn't flask because I didn't know I had the option to. Even as a noob, I wanted to do everything I possibly could to be considerate to my fellow raiders. I was already accustomed to max enchanting my gear from arena, so most of my efforts consisted of trying to buy or craft PvE upgrades to my resilience gear; flasks weren't even on my radar. Then one day, when my raid team was hitting its head against a boss, my best mage friend opened trade with me and gave me a flask. I read the description and asked him if should use it right then. "Yes, absolutely." And I've stocked up on consumables since.
I view consumables as a form of customization, like gearing, gemming, or enchanting. Each encounter is different, and by toting around a lot of consumable items I can customize my character for the demands of different bosses. It's infinitely cheaper than swapping out gems each fight (unless you're a JC maybe) and ideal if you don't have different gear sets. To me, finding the perfect combination of food, flask, cloak enchant, and trinket so that I'm most effective as a healer, is one of my favorite games inside the game. Perhaps viewing it as an encounter-by-encounter puzzle to solve is something exclusive to me (I am easily amused, after all) but knowing the options you have available might help you on a fight your raid is having trouble with.
Let's look at the different options, starting with flasks.
- Flask of the Frost Wyrm -- This flask probably needs no introduction since it is the most popular. This is the best option you have for throughput. 125 spellpower is more than 5 epic spellpower gems, so the buff is definitely a huge boost. I use this flask as much as I can, usually choosing to swap out a food buff or cloak enchant before I switch to a regen flask.
- Flask of Pure Mojo -- This flask isn't often given enough credit because I think most people prefer the extra output from Flask of the Frost Wyrm. Pure Mojo has its place though. When my guild first started working on Iron Council hard mode last spring, I immediately noticed mana would be an issue. I took it upon myself to stock up on these flasks (as well as mp5 food) and as such, was able to make it through to the end of the kill without going out of mana. I remember throughout the 'headbashing' phase of the progression, my fellow healers were desperately calling for Innervates and Mana Tide Totem because they couldn't make it through all of phase 3. I, on the other hand, got put in group 4 (where there was no Mana Tide Totem) and kept healing my heart out. When I suggested people switch to this flask to alleviate mana issues, some of the healers responded with disdain, but when everyone finally switched over to a regen flask we got the kill.
- Flask of Distilled Wisdom -- If the Flask of Pure Mojo isn't enough mana regeneration for you, this flask is the regen flask for the most dedicated raider. The idea is that since mana regeneration cooldowns and replenishment work off our mana pool, more mana from intellect will equate to more regen. Disc priests also benefit from the extra intellect because of the Mental Strength talent. These flasks will be harder to obtain due to the materials, but if you're the sort of player who wants the best of the best, I'm sure the benefits will justify the costs.
For those of you wanting even more customization options, two elixirs (one battle and one guardian) will give you a greater diversity of buffs, but will not persist through death like flasks. I like to use elixirs during farm content since the likelihood of dying is much lower. Here are some good options to consider.Potions
- Runic Mana Potion -- The utility of this potion should need no explanation. That being said, consider this a reminder to stock up if you're running low.
- Potion of Nightmares -- I love this potion. It's certainly not for every fight, but when you can spare 6 seconds and non-movement, it's much better than a normal mana potion. As I write this, I am suddenly struck by a question I do not know the answer to. I will test it out this coming raid week, but I encourage anyone interested to do the same: Is the Nightmare Slumber buff given by this potion, broken by fear effects such as Onyxia's Bellowing Roar or Queen Lana'thel's Incite Terror? If anyone isn't locked out for the week, and is interested in testing this, please leave a comment with what you find out!
- Firecracker Salmon / Tender Shoveltusk Steak / Fish Feast -- These food options all give priests the same spellpower bonus. Personally, I do not use this particular food buff since I've never seen 46 spellpower make the difference between saving or not saving a target I was healing. If you value overall throughput though, this is going to be your food buff of choice.
- Spicy Fried Herring / Mighty Rhino Dogs -- When I said earlier that I try to swap out a food buff before a spellpower flask, this is what I was referring to. This is ideal for endurance boss fights or when your gear doesn't quite make the mark and you have to cast a lot more to heal up your targets.
- Imperial Manta Steak / Very Burnt Worg -- This is the food I use most. 40 haste might not be much if you're in the best of the best gear, but it's a lot when you have little or none. Since haste effects GCD, casted, and channeled spells, I feel a haste food buff is the best way to put my targets first. Depending on your own opinions or raid role, this might vary, but it's nice to have a few of these around.
- Spicy Blue Nettlefish / Spiced Worm Burger -- Crit food is invaluable when your gear is awful and you don't have any to proc all of those important talent abilities. I used to eat nothing but Spiced Worm Burgers (back when they were Wyrm Burgers) but now that my gear is better I don't feel the need to purposefully stack crit. Crit can do a lot for your throughput though, so depending on your preferences this might still be a good alternative option to the 46 spellpower food buffs.
- Cuttlesteak -- I haven't heard of anyone using this food since before Ulduar, but it's there as an option if you didn't know about it.
Understandably, a lot of these items take a bit of time or gold to acquire, and to the casual raider it might seem like a bit more effort than necessary. (Honestly, you don't even have to fish since most buff food has a non-underwater
counterpart, so there really is no reason why the farming should take that long.) Still, I encourage everyone to find a flask and at least one non-Fish Feast buff food that they like, and make a habit of always carrying it with them. You don't want to be dependent on other people for buffs, and while it doesn't seem like much, a single, tiny buff on every member of the raid will make a big difference in downing content. Just think how heavily players value a buff like Bloodlust (or Heroism) when they arrange their raid composition. Or how many DPS insist on having Blessing of Kings before a fight starts. It all adds up.
Oh, and to all the other fish girls and fish guys out there: I salute you
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