Thursday, December 18, 2008

Librams for the Purpose of DeePeeEss.

With the start of the new PvP Season, number 5 for those counting in the back, we've finally got to the stage where making gear suggestions isn't likely to have me labelled with fair accusations of 'but it's not out yet'. Indeed it's a good idea I didn't post this last week, as I would have been wrong in a couple of small but crucial ways.

Librams

Okay, to Retribution Librams. There really isn't a lot to choose from in this slot, in keeping with the tradition of weakness in the Relic slot for all Hybrids. There are 5 you will have to choose between in PvE/P:

1) Venture Co. Libram of Retribution


73 Crit rating is ~1.6% Crit at 80, and the Libram optimally has an uptime of 80%. On the flip side Divine Storm is fairly low down in priority within the Ret DPS rotation. It's a fairly strong minimum for Heroic and Raid Librams. You can get one for 30 Venture Coins from Venture Bay, but if you're reading this you probably already have one ;).

Update: This Libram is due to change in 3.1. It will instead increase Divine Storm damage by 81, a substancial nerf. Keep a hold of those Furious Blow Libram's ladies and gents!

2) Libram of Reciprocation [Goes Live in new form with 3.0.8]


Currently this Libram has been significantly buffed on the PTR, providing Crit Rating rather than (*nnnrrrr*) Haste Rating. This Libram will provide a boat-load of Crit rating (~3.8%) from Judgement, your highest priority attack. Unfortunately the buff is predicated upon using Seal of Command, your second best DPS Seal for PvE. Furthermore, did you notice the 'chance to proc' clause? Well, WoWhead lists that chance as 15%, which is certainly less than stellar. The math indicates that this Libram, even if you are using SoC exclusively, is inferior to Venture Co.

As things stand, even with the change from Haste to Crit, without an improvement in proc rate this Libram is the least useful of those available from 70+. If you want one, perhaps for PvP, you can buy them for 15 Emblem of Heroism from the Relic Vendor's in Dalaran.

3) Libram of Radiance


Libram of Radiance adds 115.5 damage, before modifiers, to your Crusader Strike ability. This is 19.25 DPS before modifiers, a not inconsiderable amount. The Math is somewhat complicated, but it's generally accepted that this Libram is better for PvE than the Venture Co. Libram of Retribution, though this of course will depend upon your overall gear level. As far as PvP goes it's an interesting proposition, with no buff to dispel and a significant boost to your second (IIRC) most damaging attack it may see a place in the Arena at moderate Rating brackets.

The Libram of Radiance is available as a zone drop from Naxx-25.

Update: In 3.1 this Libram will be available for 25 Emblems of Valor.

4) [Assumed to be active with 3.0.8] Savage Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude.


Now we're getting somewhere. This Libram's proc has a 100% chance so long as Crusader Strike connects, and affects all your attacks. Though 94 AP may not seem like much it certainly adds up, especially given that CS is your second highest priority attack. It's nip and tuck, but this Libram is probably better than the Libram of Radiance for PvE, which is kinda sad when you think about it.

The Savage Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude is available from the Lake Wintersgrasp Vendor for the price of ~6K Honour and 175 Arena Points, so you will need to participate in the Arena to get this item. Note that this item isn't currently Live, but for now it is assumed that it will become active with the release of 3.0.8 some time in the New Year.

UPDATE [3.0.8]: This Libram was not included in the latest Live build, and hence is not in the game at this time.

5) Hateful Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude. There is no Hateful Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude.

5a) Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude.


If you can get to 2030 Arena Rating, this Libram is by far the best Libram for PvE. A 120 AP Proc beats the heck out of any of the Libram's from other sources. As usual, the down-side is definitely the rating requirements - the vast majority of Ret Paladin will come nowhere near being able to buy it.

The Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude is available from the Veteran Arena Vendor for the low, low price of 1200 Arena Points.

Update: In Season 6 this Libram will require 1350 Arena Rating. Depending on how Arena Rating calculations change this may be a very achievable way to get the best PvE option.

--

So there you have it. Unfortunately it's yet more evidence that Relics in general need some real love from the itemisation team while the ranged weapon slot continues to out-strip them in stats, relative value and range available at the top end. I still like my idea of allowing Librams to imprint a Glyph, but with the current state of affairs in Glyphs it would be of diminishing value to have a major glyph slot beyond the third.

Order of Value for PvE:

1st) Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude - Requires 1200 Arena Points and 2030 Rating.
2nd) Savage Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude - not implemented in 3.0.8.
3rd) Libram of Radiance - Zone Drop from Heroic Naxx (25-man Raid).
4th) Venture Co. Libram of Retribution - Get one at lvl74 for 30 Venture Coins. Well worth the investment.
5th) Libram of Reciprocation - 15 Emblem of Heroism. Even buffed to Crit Rating in 3.0.8, this is by far the lowest value Libram. Of more potential value in PvP, YMMV.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Judgement Bug Fix; Season 5 Begins.

ADDED:

Ghostcrawler posted a little while ago to say that the hotfix has been implemented. I understand that the US realms have been down for some time so it may not be possible to test it just yet, but report your feedback in the same thread.

--

Just a quickie.

Following some sterling work by testers in this thread it seems that the cause of the Judgement bug (a Judgement failure - mana cost and cooldown triggered but no damage, debuff or 'miss' notification) was narrowed down. It was previously thought that a non-crit Judgement following a critical Judgement was causing the problem, but the following reproducible method was generated which indicated another cause:

I believe I have pinpointed the issue!

I was correct in my thinking that when a debuff wears off while judgement is up it will become bugged out. This happens when ANY debuff from ANYONE wears off when you have a judgement on the target.

Here is what I think is happening:
Target has X debuffs on it
You use Judgement of Wisdom, which is now debuff position [X+1]
Target loses 1 debuff, moving Judgement of Wisdom to position X
You use Judgement of Wisdom, which tries to refresh buff [X+1]
Debuff [X+1] is not Judgement of Wisdom, Judgement of Wisdom fails

It seems like its a simple pointer error. Hope that helps!

Edit:
I failed to mention that this in fact DOES include other players debuffs. Like a warlocks haunt could fall off of the boss and suddenly all the judgements cant be refreshed. I hope this gets fixed soon!

Also, This has NOTHING to do with if judgement crits or not. I've tried having a target lose 2 debuffs and then use HoJ then Judgement of Command, and it still failed.

(Source - Ralcour of Maelstrom US)


GC posted

Okay, we think we have been able to isolate this bug and put in a fix that prevents Judgements from failing any longer. Assuming a little more testing supports this conclusion we plan on hotfixing this.

Sorry you had to endure it for so long. :(


Fingers crossed for a hotfix soon, and if anecdotal evidence is anything to go by this should be a rather large fillip to our DPS and mana efficiency. Thanks GC :D

In other news, Season 5 is due to start tomorrow in the US (possibly Wednesday, or later, in the EU). Check out this great post by Tom at Blessing of Might for the skinny on obtaining Honour and Arena Tier gear for PvP. In addition, this post by Blue Bornakk provides a more general overview of how to obtain PvP gear, and also notes the quality of off-set gear (rings, amulets etc.) and that they will be available with Honour and a minimum rating requirement.

Good luck with your PvP!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Updated III: Paladin PTR Patch 3.0.8 Notes.

Update 3: Item updates on the latest PTR build.

Glyph

* Glyph of Flash of Light - Your Flash of Light has an additional 5% critical strike chance. (Old - Your Flash of Light heals for 50% less initially, but also heals for 140% of its inital effect over 12 sec.)
* Glyph of Holy Light - Your Holy Light grants 10% of its heal amount to up to 5 friendly targets within 20 yards of the initial target. (Up from 10 Yards)
* Glyph of Hammer of Wrath - Reduces the cost of Hammer of Wrath by 100%. (Old - Increases the range on Hammer of Wrath by 5 yards.)


Items

* Libram of Reciprocation now gives Your Judgement of Command spell a chance to grant 173 critical strike rating for 10 sec. (Old - Haste Rating)


The value of the new Libram of Reciprocation vs the PvP Librams (which grant an AP buff via Crusader Strike) is very much dependant on Proc rate. It is definitely not the pure suck it was, however it seems a little bizarre for a ostensibly PvP Libram to be provided by Heroic/10-man PvE tokens and yet no decent PvE Libram can be obtained from the same source.

The Glyph changes are all awesomsauce, though how long the HoW one remains in the game remains to be seen.

--

Update 2: New Patch Notes on the official site (more up to date than the ones that came with the PTR download, but don't feature all of the datamined information below). The new taunt spell is in these patch notes but MMO-Champion hasn't logged it yet.

Hand of Judgement renamed Hand of Reckoning and is available at level 16 from the trainer. [Much better name, those I'm not sure that the 'Hand' label really fits].

Update: Datamined changes from MMO-champion included.

The latest PTR patch notes are now posted on MMO-champion. The patch designation is 3.0.8 (no, I don't have any clue why it has this numbering). The changes are pretty much as expected for Paladins:

Paladin Notes:

Skills
Protection

* Divine Protection The penalty has been removed.
* Divine Shield The penalty has been changed so that all damage done is reduced by 50% in place of an attack speed penalty.
* Hand of Protection now Cannot be targeted on players who have used Avenging Wrath within the last 30 sec sec.
* Avenging Wrath now Cannot be used within 30 sec sec. of being the target of Divine Shield, Divine Protection, or Hand of Protection.
* Hand of Reckoning(NEW): Available on trainers at level 16. It’s a 30 yard range taunt that causes Holy damage.


Retribution

* Judgement of Wisdom now give each attack a chance to restore 2% of the attacker's base mana. (Old - 1% of the attacker's maximum mana)
* Judgement of Light now also procs from ranged attacks.
* Seal of Blood now deals 27% of normal weapon damage. (up from 22%)
* Seal of the Martyr now deals 27% of normal weapon damage. (up from 22%)


The Seal of Blood/Martyr changes are both tooltip clarifications. The 22% value never made it to Live; it has been 27% since 3.0.1 hit the servers.

Talents
Retribution

* Seal of Command now Gives the Paladin a chance to deal {0.45*Min Weap Damage+0.45*0.23*SpellPower} to {0.45*Max Weap Damage+0.45*0.23*SpellPower} additional Holy damage. (Old - Didn't scale with Spell Power)
* Vengeance now stacks up to 5 times. (Up from 3)
[I don't normally make retroactive changes to these sorts of posts, but as this is such a big change I guess it's warranted. Vengeance, as of PTR build 9464, once again only sstacks 3 times.]

There is some doubt over whether the SoC change is tooltip or a real change. Smart money is on it being a tooltip change. As the Vengeance change is undocumented you should be aware that it may be 'un-buffed' at any time. Hopefully this won't be the case, but it is a PTR after all.

Holy

* Judgements of the Pure now Increases the damage done by your Seal and Judgement spells by 5/10/15/20/25%, and your Judgement spells increase your casting and melee haste by 3/6/9/12/15% for 1 min.

Protection

* Sacred Duty no longer reduces the attack speed penalty on Divine Shield and Divine Protection. Rank 2 now increases total stamina by 8%. (Up from 6%)


--

* Glyph of Holy Light now affects friendly targets in a radius of 10 20 yards (previously 5 yards, see top).

(Source)


Curiously there is no mention of the new ranged taunt spell, Hand of Judgement, nor of bug fixes to Judgement. The latter tallies with them not knowing just what is causing the bug... I have my suspicions.

Large boost to Vengeance, allowing it to go up to 15% again (though stacking x5 rather than x3). I'm not sure if the Seals are tooltip clarifications to current values or genuine buffs (most believe it is the former), but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Either way it's a good change, and they'll be some frantic calculations going on to re-weigh the pro's and cons of SoC and SoB wrt the Spell Damage.

Still no news on whether or not Forbearance remains in the game. As I mentioned before it seems rather hamfisted to keep it in with the new mutual lock-out, but you never can tell.

The change to Glyph of Holy Light *may* be nice. Even an increase to 10 yrds would be of huge significance.

There may well be features in the Build being deployed to the PTR than are listed in the patch notes, so keep your eyes open for further undocumented changes.

Friday, December 05, 2008

*Attempts to cast Resurrection on Freezer*

In random real-life news, my freezer just died after being on what appears, in retrospect, to have been its last legs for the past week. According to the engineer getting replacement parts for one 10 years old would cost far more than a totally new one, which in today's increasingly disposable society I can readily believe.

It's not the ideal time, but it could be worse. It could have been during mid-summer, or a couple of weeks from now, but it's going to be around 3-4 days before anything starts to go off and there's plenty of time before the pre-Christmas madness.

So, why is this topical for a WoW-Blog? Well, it's my WoW-Blog for a start, but it also means that I'll probably have to continue to defer my purchase of Wrath for a bit. Because I'll be very much out of the loop with regards to WoW and my own experiences becoming continually less relevant I'm considering stopping blogging, for a little while at least.

I've got one more post on Libram's and Meta Gems due at some point this weekend, but don't be too surprised if you don't see much in this space after that ;).

Anyway, this post if a bit of a downer, so here is a cool astronomy link:

Smiley Face in the Sky.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Haste and Ret.

Like: Haste provided by a group buff. Free for everyone... who cares if someone gets more benefit than someone else?

Example: Swift Retribution.



Don't Like: Haste on Tier Gear. Autoattack is a significantly lower proportion of DPS with Wrath mechanics than at any time during TBC and so Haste is awful.

Example: Paladin Tier 7-10 and 7-25.



Haste - Just Say NO!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Paladin Ranged Pull. *Does a Little Dance*

Because it deserves it's own post. After 4 years, two expansion releases, many class revisions and countless forum posts, it's finally on its way:

Ghostcrawler:
[..]
The taunt is called Hand of Judgement. It has a 30 yard range and 8 sec cooldown. It does a bit of Holy damage so that you can break sheep or freezing traps to pull mobs.
[..]

(Source)


Okay, okay, it's supposed to be a tanking tool. And Hand of Judgement is a crap name. But from the sounds of things it won't be using the same mechanic as RD for targeting purposes (as it can be used on CC'd targets). Hence a minor damage 30yrd ranged pull. Yay!

(no more AotC kiting either you pesky hunters. We're on to your tricks!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Updated: Paladin Changes Due in 3.0.4.

Updated:

I made some clarifications to my initial post.

You can use Hand of Protection during the internal cooldown, just not on yourself. The idea is to prevent the paladin from being able to combo damage immunity. We want you to still be able to use it on others.

The change to Judgements of the Pure is in addition to its current haste effects.

The taunt is called Hand of Judgement. It has a 30 yard range and 8 sec cooldown. It does a bit of Holy damage so that you can break sheep or freezing traps to pull mobs.

The change to Judgement of Wisdom was so Protection and Ret paladins (and Feral druids and whoever else) didn't feel like they were supposed to stack Int for mana, since there is none on their gear. We picked a number that shouldn't be a nerf to most Holy paladins, though it will mean that it won't keep scaling as your Int climbs, so I imagine it will be called a nerf anyway. :) We'll keep an eye on this -- perhaps adding an effect to a Holy talent or something to increase the return.

(Source)


It's good that HoP will still be able to be cast on others using this 'cooldown' (gosh, that cooldown sounds an awful lot like Forbearance doesn't it *rolleyes*). It's still a stupidly over-complicated system that needs a better solution than that proposed. I hope this change means that Forbearance is gone, but I doubt it.

Hand of Judgement: Yay ranged pull! Though calling it 'Hand of Judgement' is bad IMO. 1) Hands are short-term Blessings, not debuffs, 2) Judgement has been overused as a term, and 3) HoJ is a well-used Paladin acronym already. I'd much prefer 'Call of Command'. Okay, maybe not 'Call', perhaps Righteous Command. But I'm just nit-picking there.

Whee, ranged pull. *does a little dance*


---

Ghostcrawler stuck his eye stalks above the parapet earlier today to provide a preliminary list of the changes Paladins should expect in a patch before 3.1:

We have already announced or suggested all of these changes would be forthcoming in the next minor content patch. I thought I would list them all in one place for ease of use.

1)Divine Shield: Penalty changed so that all damage done is reduced by 50% instead of a attack speed penalty.

2) Divine Protection no longer causes an attack penalty. Divine Shield's penalty was changed to 50% less damage done by the paladin.

3) Sacred Duty: This Protection talent no longer affects the attack penalty of Divine Shield and Divine Protection, but grants additional bonus Stamina.

4) Avenging Wrath, Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Hand of Protection have a shared, 30-second cooldown. The Forbearance effect is no longer triggered by Avenging Wrath.

5) Judgement of Wisdom now returns a percentage of base mana instead of a percentage of max mana.

6) All mana drain effects now return a percentage of max enemy mana (making mana drains less punishing to paladins and other characters without large mana pools.)

7) Judgements of the Pure: This Holy talent now increases the damage done by Seals and Judgements.

8) All paladins receive a single-target taunt (name TBD) as a base ability.

[list edited by me so the Divine Shield change is included](Source)


Thanks very much to Honors Code for the heads up. Go over there and read his summary.

Go.


Back? Good. Okay, here is my take:

The change to Divine Shields' downside was on it's way, previous comments by GC and suggestions in various Paladin communities made it all but a forgone conclusion. The 50% figure is harsh, but a lot better than the idea of preventing all damage whilst bubbled. We'll have to see how it plays out as the impact of the change will only be known when we have an idea of Ret damage in lvl80 PvP.

The removal of attack rate reduction from Divine Protection change is good, but I'm not sure it goes as far as it could. Not screwing with threat generation in PvE without a talent point investment undoubtedly makes DP much more useful. For PvP however it is still a Magic Buff, and so it remains very vulnerable to Purge/Dispel. Personally I'd like to see DP and Hands get another dispel resistance boost beyond Stoicism, perhaps within the current Imp. RF talent. Otherwise, the Sacred Duty talent change to more stamina is nice.

Changes 5 through 8 are interesting but the numbers are critical in assessing how much of a buff or nerf they are. On Mana drain specifically (and I could probably devote a whole blog post to just this topic), whether Base mana or Total mana other classes can do more with less. I hope that when coupled with Divine Plea we become significantly less vulnerable to Mana Drain mechanics but fundamentally a spec that relies on mana but has no way to LoS Drains will be in a lot of difficulty. When it comes to Holy Paladin Damage, multipliers are crucial in judging how useful the talent will become, but I have the feeling that they will have to be extremely significant to bring their damage up to that of healing-spec'd classes with spammable offensive casting abilities.

Change 4 is the one which has me most puzzled, which is why I'll devote the last part of this post to it. Here it is again:

4) Avenging Wrath, Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Hand of Protection have a shared, 30-second cooldown. The Forbearance effect is no longer triggered by Avenging Wrath.

We can take the following as implied from that.

a) Forbearance remains in the game. Duration to be determined but assume that it's 2 mins.
b) Use of AW, DP or DS prevents HoP from being cast. This means that you won't be able to cast HoP even on an ally within 30 seconds of any of the other spells.
c) AW doesn't cause Forbearance, and so in of itself doesn't lock you out of any other ability for more than 30 seconds.

In this Blizzard have come very close to the ideal solution and then missed by a wide margin. As I've said before, Forbearance should be removed from DS, DP and AW totally, it's a design relic from pre-TC days which really has no relevance. But possibly more of an issue is that the changes put Paladins in a triple-bind regarding these spells in PvP and conjures up a new problem not previously encountered.

i) Use of AW prevents you from going defensive for 30 seconds. Understandable to a certain extent, but I'm not sure I like it. Fundamentally it will mean that you pop it second in PvP (after DS) presupposing that the battle lasts for 18seconds after your bubble drops. No big deal, but given that they nerfed damage output under DS significantly is the mutual-exclusivity really necessary with these Spells. The arguement for making AW and DP mutually exclusive is easier to see, but both spells are dispellable and don't make you any less susceptible to CC, so again is the lock-out necessary? Perhaps have DP reduce damage output by 25% when a shield is not equipped?

ii) Use of AW prevents you from casting HoP on others. Bad Idea. And this still effectively prevents you from using AW for over a minute into an Arena Battle. In the first case you're not going to pot AW before popping DS (so x+30seconds) and then for 30seconds after DS you won't be popping AW before HoP on someone else (+30 secs).

iii) You can't use any of your personal defensive cooldowns (DP, DS) without locking out HoP, and visa-versa. This is, frankly, a net nerf for all PvP and non-solo PvE gameplay.

For those reasons I think this is a bad change. In addition Forbearance still exists, so we have three abilities (DP, DS and HoP) governed by this debuff as well as a 30 second shared cooldown on those and AW. Are there any other set of four or more spells which have as complicated a system of usage?

Blizzard should be using this time to make the system of cooldowns and lockouts less complicated, not more. It's a shame, but this change is fail, doesn't seem logical and appears to be created by a set of people not familiar with Paladin class gameplay. That said, they should be thanked for throwing up the list of changes before they go live (or appear on a PTR) so we can give feedback. So if you can give feedback then go to it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quick Update on Avenging Wrath and General Prot Issues.

It's good to see that the Dev's aren't resting on their laurels with the release of Wrath and patch 3.0.3:

TLDR---> Avenging Wrath suggestion to put it on a shared 30 sec CD with Divine Shield was a great one and would make everyone happy and prevent the bubblewings crap...lets do it!


That last part is still the plan.

There are limitations to what we can hotfix. Those are essentially server-side changes. Changes to your client require an actual patch. Patches, sadly, are much more difficult to do. That doesn't mean it isn't important to us. It just means we have to test patches very thoroughly. Breaking everyone's WoW is almost always a lot worse than whatever bug or issue we were trying to fix.

We will patch this before the first major content patch (Ulduar AKA 3.1).
(Source)


I'm still not convinced that this choice is necessarily the best option, especially if they go ahead and reduce all damage whilst Bubbled by 50% which was discussed earlier in the same breath. Equally it still introduces a lock-out for DS meaning that AW simply becomes unlikely to be popped in PvP rather than never popped. Removing Forbearance dependence from AW entirely and simply knocking down damage while DS is up by 50% seems like a more elegant solution. Questions about how DS, DP, AW and HoP will to interact still remain, but can probably sit on the back burner until Blizzard firmly propose a solution. Hopefully this will be soon, rather than "soon™".

With regards to Protection's still missing 11pt talent and fallible taunt:

There are several similar threads on Prot paladin issues so forgive me for only responding to this one. My thanks also go out to other players who have tried to respond here.

I will comment on a couple of things --

Righteous Defense -- We're not sure yet if we want to change this ability (possibly through glyph) or just add a normal taunt (for free -- not the 11 point talent). Both designs have their advantages.

Health -- While I do think the "huge differences" between warrior and paladin health pools are a wee bit exaggerated, we do have an opportunity to provide paladins with a little more health when we change Divine Protection and Divine Shield. The benefit of Sacred Duty to remove the attack speed penalty will be unnecessary with this change, so we thought we might add additional Stam to this talent instead. (The cooldown could stay the same.)

We're keeping a close eye on tank performance in general as players start to run the Northrend instances.

--


We'll look into the JoL issue. (meaning that JoLight may be unintentionally inflating Paladin Threat, presumably for both Prot and Ret).


--

We have no fallback taunt, and we can not taunt mobs or bosses. We can only taunt the players. Here is an example that happened to me just a little bit ago. I was tanking Brutallus, and when I hit my RD to take him back from the other tank..at that moment he targeted and cast burn on someone and then went back to targeting the other tank. This blew my RD as it cast it on his burn target not the other tank. So I could do nothing about it as we have no fallback taunt until my cooldown came back.


We think this is one of the strongest reasons to go with a new ability – paladins don’t have a ton of snap aggro abilities at the moment. We're working on something now but it's too early to announce it yet.

(Source)


Still no news on the details of any new PvP utility nor an 11pt Prot Talent, just that it is in the works. My guess is that a new mini-patch for tooltip changes and bugfixes, including the change to AW and DS, will be online on or before the 16th of December in preparation for Season 5. The Ulduar Content Patch (3.1) is probably pencilled in for mid-to-late January and will likely contain the missing talents in each class tree as well as PvP and PvE balance changes. Having had a month of Season 5 and more time for the PvE Raids they (and us) will be in a much better position to assess relative DPS levels and PvP class viability.

Bizarre Online Pricing.

Online game pricing. It's a dark art poorly understood by mortal men, and based in a world where the rules of logic don't seem to apply. I speak not of the WoW Auction House where Cobalt may be on for 1000g a stack, nor eBay where the prices is the ever troubling £0.01 (reserve not met), but rather of the Online Pricing of Wrath of the Lich King itself.

I greeted the news of a new online purchase option for Wrath direct from Blizzard with some interest. Always looking to save a few bucks I checked out just how much it would cost me to get it direct from Blizzard expecting a competitive price, if not a bargain. Here is the relative pricing:

Play.com: £17.99, free P&P.

Amazon.co.uk: £17.99, free (sloooow) P&P.

Direct from Blizzard: £29.99.

Okay, I know to a certain extent you're paying for the convenience. But that is all your are paying for, you don't get any of the additional bumpf that a retail box comes with, simply an e-mail with a CD-Key. A 67% mark-up seems a bit much for not waiting 24hrs one week after the Expansion has been released. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but I wouldn't expect to pay more for a slip of paper than for DVD+Case+Manual+slip of paper.

So if you are planning to get a second copy of Wrath for your second account, or if you haven't got the Expansion yet and are looking for deals, look elsewhere than from Blizzard direct.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sights in Northrend. Pt III

The last set of my Beta screenshots (at least, those that I want to share ;).




I've mentioned this guy before, but he's impressive enough to warrant a second look.



Sholazar Basin. Or at least, a very small portion of the area. As the map indicates the terrain is more varied in this zone than any other bar perhaps the Dragonblight.



The Spires of Dalaran. Check out how to get there earlier than lvl74 here.



Mord'rethar in Icecrown. Viewed East to West.



Mord'rethar in Icecrown. Viewed West to East.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sights to See in Northrend. Pt II

Here is the second part of 'Sights to See in Northrend'.



An excavation site in The Storm Peaks, unearthing what appears to be a monstrous statue, or perhaps something more.



Silently, they wait. We know not what for, only that their eyes always watch. You feel nervous but you can't quite put your finger on why...



Venture Bay in the Grizzly Hills, viewed from the South.



Venture Bay, viewed from the North-East.



Bear Calvary. Weak against Frost.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sights to See in Northrend. Pt I

I just thought it would be a nice idea to throw up the last of my Beta screenshots to show you some of the environments you can look forward to in Wrath of the Lich King (and some you may have already seen!). The screenshots were all taken in 1680x1050, and some with the graphical settings turned all the way up (making my modest PC creek ;) ). Feel free to use any you like.



The Temple City of En'Kilah in the Borean Tundra.



Rapids in Western Dragonblight.



Ley-Line to the Nexus, Western Dragonblight.



View down from Utgarde Keep, towards Valgarde (on the right).



Inside the Transitus Shield, the Coldarra.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Spanner in the Works

Unfortunately, due to circumstances well within my control but not solved nearly early enough, I'm not going to be off to Northrend until at least the beginning of next month. I kind of had an inkling that this would be the case some time ago, but because I'd spend quite a while in the Beta I had hoped that I wouldn't think it that big a deal.

With all my friends now kicking it in the Fjord or Tundra I've come to a realistaion: it kinda is :(

Anyway, as a kind of compensation I finally obtained an Albino Drake for my Paladin. I know, Alex will be saying 'months behind', but I think a few weeks to go from 5 mounts and no exalted home factions to 50 mounts, all without the benefit of any flavour of Netherdrake (I'll hit exalted tomorrow... bloody lack of Egg luck), isn't so bad at all.




So, those people who have had the chance to grab Wrath today or will do so this month, have a blast and spare a thought for those not able to get in there yet. And to those who won't be able to play WotLK for the foreseeable future, know that you are not alone.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wrath Goes Live in Europe.




Yep, it was actually up quite a bit before little before 12am CET.






If you're going to be in Northrend tonight: have fun!

The Silver Lining.

Just a quickie.

I've been trying to articulate a long post explaining how, though not everything has gone our way during the Beta period, one of the features of the 3.0 Paladin we can take to the bank is a better framework for any future class augmentations. It perhaps doesn't feel like it but we have more active abilities now than we ever did in the past, and with active abilities comes a scope and opportunity for targeted class improvements for specific areas of the game. This is especially the case for Protection, but also for Ret and lesser extent Holy. Simply having three different Judgements on a shared cooldown opens up many options previously closed due to a very rigid Seal->Judgement system, and the same can be said for the new Blessing/Hand system.

While Glyphs can and arguably should be the medium for these changes (if other class glyphs are anything to go by, WTB ones which add functionality), talents or plain skill improvements are also routes to improve the Paladin experience. Skill and talent interdependence has greatly reduced, mostly because of the decoupling of Seals and Judgements, which allows the designers to create much more intricate features. Seal scaling is the one major lingering issue, but multiple answers to this are so absurdly simply that one wonders if a lack of time is a big factor.

While it's perfectly natural for us to be disheartened by the nerfs of the last few weeks (and the rational behind them) we shouldn't lose sight of the very real improvements to the class developed over the last few months. While these improvements may not make a huge amount of operational difference to the class as we get towards the level 80 end-game, primarily because of changes to wider game mechanics such as downranking and raid-wide buffs, it at least provides us with a basis through which we can now target class roles and specific actions for PvP/PvE.

The big problem of course is that change will be slow, any Ret Paladin who played that way in 2.0.1 knows this. Nerfs are implemented fast, buffs are much slower. And at least now, with very little Paladin specific utility and much more utility for the 'pure' classes, any weakness in the specs primary will be immediately obvious and unjustifiable.

--

Okay, so that's still not particularly well articulated, nor very quick. It also won't be much of a bone to throw to hardcore Paladins looking for immediate Arena and Raid viability if there turns out to be a shortfall at 80. But I put it out there as a means of generating some hope and positive expectation after a few weeks of nerf after nerf report. If you liked playing the Burning Crusade then pick up Wrath and give it a go. You'll almost certainly enjoy the lore, and may be pleasantly surprised by just what you are capable of. And, if you're anything like me, you'll love continually busting your friends' expectations of what one Paladin is capable of.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Lich King's Gaze Is Upon You.

The Wrath of the Lich King pre-Launch Event is starting, and things don't look good for Orgrimmar.



This probably wasn't a good time for Thrall and Garrosh Hellscream to attempt to kick seven bells out of each other.



Stormwind isn't immune to the Lich King's might:



For more check out MMO-Champion. Or alternatively Euripedes' post at CriticalQQ.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Good News!

Ghostcrawler on the 'stealth' nerf to the talent Sanctified Wrath.

Sanctified Wrath is not giving us the "bypasses 50% of damage reducing effects" effect when we pop AW. It hasn't been since the 3.0.3 patch. Can we please get a response on this GC?

We think we accidentally broke this effect. It wasn't an intentional nerf, but we're still looking into it.

--

Update: We did break it. We should be able to hotfix this soon.

---

Seriously, we are strongly considering letting Vengeance stack up to 5 stacks (perhaps for more points) to make sure sustained damage is still good enough. We may still add a secondary effect to Crusader Strike too. Burst is certainly easy to add if we need to, though I really hope we don't have to


Well, that'd be nice. Still, if they are planning to change Vengeance back to a 5pt talent I'd like it to return to stacking 3 times, 5% each. Lets not go back to making a talent flat worse from one major patch to another please.

And CS secondary effects? Start speculating now.

EDIT: Apart from the Sanctified Wrath hotfix it seems likely that any changes will have to wait until 3.1. I'm not too worried by this TBH, there's still a long way till 80 and past Naxx-10/25 and I'm confident that Ret has all the tools it needs to do well in those forms of gameplay. Lvl80 PvP is going to be a very different beast to current PvP, and so an evaluation of BG and Arena gameplay @80 pre Season 5 would be a wise idea.

3.1 is shaping up to be a very significant balance patch. Should be fun ;).

--

In other news, PvP is a joke:



That said, in fairness WSG itself is fine since 3.0.3, I have a much bigger issue with AV where getting anything accomplished is like herding cats. On my travels I've decided that Resto Druids and Mages are pretty strong, Boomkins are nasty but squishy, and BM Hunters who know how to kite are evil.

Oh, and there are a shed-load of Ret Paladins out there, Alliance and Horde, who still have no idea how to play the class. I'm pretty bad, but those guys are just awful.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Additional GC Comments; 3.0.3 Initial Thoughts.

Update 2:

So, I'm up late watching the US Presidential Election. Crawling Bluetracker I come across this hilarity which apparently made it to live. I hope you weren't expecting to learn your Charger at 61 just yet without doing the quest:



'Expert' Riding skill is 225, or entry level flying. :D

Update:

One thing you may not be aware of or have just noted: the PvP 4-piece bonus change is in 3.0.3. 10-sec off HoJ's Cooldown is out, the new 1-sec off Judgement Cooldown is in.

Yeah, I know, it's not great. But even I can admit that the prospect of a 20-sec HoJ cooldown at lvl80 would be overboard for PvP.

--

Ghostcrawler provided an update of their thinking on the changes to Avenging Wrath, which is nice. Thanks to Josh for the heads up.

Our eventual plan is to put Divine Shield on a shared 30 sec cooldown with Avenging Wrath. We also plan on changing Divine Shield's attack speed penalty (which isn't really much of a penalty) and have it apply to all damage done while the bubble is up.

Divine Protection would no longer have the attack penalty, but since Prot paladins typically talent out of that penalty, it won't have a big effect on tanking (though obviously that talent would need to do something slightly different).

All of this assumes that preventing AW from being used with DS actually makes the Ret tree a little more balanced. We'll need to monitor that a little bit longer first.

We are going to go ahead and change the mana drains to a percentage of mana so that Ret paladins don't lose so much larger a percentage of their mana than casters with 15K mana.


I'm glad that they're looking at a more sensible solution, but if I had a pipeline to the Devs then I would strenuously suggest that Forbearance has had its' day and an effort should be made to get rid of it entirely. The change to mana drain abilities are fairly value-neutral for Paladins TBH, the relative cost of mana drain effects to a Paladin remains higher than that for mana users that stack Int as a PvP and PvE stat. With Divine Plea coming at 71 we should be able to combat this mechanic more effectively, and if nothing else it should take a little longer to be deprived of your entire mana pool.

Speaking of pipelines to the Devs, the Beta has officially ended.I'm not too surprised TBH, the servers have been dead since 3.0.1 hit Live, but it was a little disappointing that there was no 'end of Beta' event. But that's by-the-by, all changes now will be made on the PTR and Live Realms so good quality feedback on the forums is more important now than ever.

--

With regards to 3.0.3, indications are yet again that the build is buggy. It's not yet live on EU servers but first reports are that the SoB un-nerf hasn't been included in this version. Also the AW Hotfix has only been partially implemented, which I believe can be put down to a bug. Currently it activates a 3m Forbearance but the debuff doesn't prevent it from being activated, hence popping Bubble followed by AW is once again possible. I expect that this will yet again be hotfixed back sooner rather than later. I'll probably write more about 3.0.3 as and when it reaches live over here, but right now I expect that Ret is still fine for lvl70 content.

EDIT: Sounds like the Hotfix has been re-hotfixed. The change to AW made this weekend is back in.

--

Finally I just want to take a moment to give my best to Galoheart. He's shelved his Paladin, I hope temporarily but fear that it is more permanent. I'm not sure that he will keep WoW blogging with a different class, but whatever he decides to do I wish him all the best. He's truly been one of the best Paladin and WoW bloggers out there, and if he does decide to pack it in he will be missed. With any luck he'll take a sabbatical and be back raring to go once things have settled down somewhat.

Patch 3.0.3 Incoming Tonight/Tomorrow

MMO-Champion believes that the new patch is due to come up tonight on Live Realms in the US and tomorrow night in the EU. With this patch Live should 'catch up' to Beta in terms of the changes, but bear in mind that the Beta is still not without its errors in tooltips and mechanics.

See this post for the current paladin patch notes including undocumented changes, or read the whole datamined tooltip list at MMO-Champion. I could repost the list of changes but I don't see the point, the vast majority are tooltip changes or have already been hotfixed to live. Most importantly the Righteous Vengeance change has finally been implemented; on the other hand Judgement of Wisdom will return significantly less mana than it did with 3.0.2. And I mean significantly.

The most recent hotfix changes will still apply, but tooltips won't have been updated yet. Additionally, in theory Seal of Blood/the Martyr will be de-nerfed to around 95% of its previous value in terms of DPS. Which previous value they mean is anyone's guess but will probably require some testing to find out tomorrow/Wednesday. This should again make SoB/M the undisputed DPS Seal rather than it being nip and tuck with SoCommand.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Lack of Patience With Forbearance

Warning: Long rant ahead.

Forbearance. It deliberately restricts the use of abilities rather than open up options for their use, which is why I've never liked it as a mechanic. It was first brought in to deal with a PvE rather than PvP problem: chaining BoP's together in certain encounters made them trivial (I seem to recall the nerf being discussed in conjunction with Blackwing Lair encounters), long before Arena's were mooted. A single Paladin chaining BoP and DS in PvP, primarily to defend nodes in AB and AV, was both powerful and overestimated at a time when Shaman and Priests didn't hotkey Purge, but never really resulted in an outcry. Still, they linked Forbearance to DS aswell as BoP, and so with a 1min Forbearance effect we had the situation up until 2.0.1. Not a big deal it has to be said as you really should be throwing out BoP on your allies, not yourself.



With 2.0.1 two new abilities were introduced which altered the equation somewhat: Avenging Wrath and Mass Dispel. Avenging Wrath caused and couldn't be used whilst under Forbearance, Mass Dispel removed Divine Shield when previously it couldn't be (Counterspell went some way to negating DS in PvP against Healing Paladins). Unfortunately this meant that in PvP Avenging Wrath couldn't be used until at the earliest 1 min after Divine Shield, and only in PvE fights where DS wasn't useful. A 1 min duration however wasn't the end of the world. More annoying perhaps was BoP and AW being Purged or Spellstolen leaving you with a pretty high opportunity cost, the benefits of which could be erased in less than a GCD.

Kalgan had this to say about Mass Dispel and Divine Shield two years ago:

I don't know that you can necessarily call it negated
- It has a 1.5 second cast time, which means you have plenty of time to stun them as they cast Mass Dispel. It also means any other friendlies have an opportunity to interrupt it.
- Casting Divine Shield would still get you out of any form of crowd control and remove any debuffs, even if it got dispelled after the fact.
- You're talking about 1 of 9 classes that can counter it.
- Using your words, if it's "already on a 5 minute cooldown", then that implies to me that you've already learned to survive without it most of the time. :0
- It costs the priest a substantial chunk of mana, so it isn't something they can throw around carelessly.


I think by now we know just how hollow every one of those points are. However I would pick up on just one, as as it neatly dovetails into criticisms of Forbearance: "- Using your words, if it's "already on a 5 minute cooldown", then that implies to me that you've already learned to survive without it most of the time. :0"

The value of all the abilities listed is not simply the buff that they give for 10-20 seconds, it's the knowledge (yours and your opponents) that you can pop those abilities at a given time. It is that knowledge which in part allowed us to adjust to the 5 minutes whilst DS is on cooldown, as well as your opposition not being able to see what cooldowns you had available. Forbearance is quite literally a flashing sign saying 'Squishy Plate Wearer Here' because it shows that we have no answer to the gank train when other classes possibly could.

In the 3.0 Beta Forbearance was increased to 3 minutes, Avenging Wrath removed from it and changed to 20% damage/healing, and Divine Protection changed to a pseudo- Shield Wall. I don't think I ever understood why the duration of Forbearance was increased. Three minutes is an absolute eternity in every mode of gameplay and we have no ability, such as Preparation or Cold Snap, that instantly refreshes critical cooldowns. On the other hand BoP, DP and DS are fairly mutually exclusive in terms of their gameplay uses: DP for tanking; DS for dropping aggro and debuff clearing; and BoP would be used on someone else. So long as AW wasn't linked to Forbearance I wasn't too concerned.

Fast-forward to today and the current situation is down (apparently) to AW being able to be popped whilst being Bubbled, and so it was hotfix nerfed. To be quiet honest, I think that's bullshit reasoning.

We are looking at some way of making Avenging Wrath and Divine Shield mutually exclusive. This may be through Forbearance, if we can reduce the Forbearance duration through a hotfix. The bubble is intended as a defensive measure. Yet bubble+wings currently is used a lot in BGs and Arenas and helps contribute to the feeling of being destroyed by a Retribution paladin while you are unable to respond.


If we take that on face value then they may have a point. However there are other things they could have done which are possible as a hotfix, the most obvious one being reducing damage done whilst being under the effects of DS by 50%. Remember, they can nerf numbers server-side but they can't change tooltips, so this may be an issue for those who read take the tooltip as a contract cast in stone. Oh, wait:



Not to mention Righteous Vengeance, which currently on live does nothing. So re-linking AW to Forbearance is not because of tooltip fidelity, but simply because it is the quickest way to get the job done. 'Still', you may be thinking to yourself, 'laziness doesn't imply dishonesty' to which I would agree. However lets not forget that two undocumented nerfs went into this hotfix. By far the lesser one is to JoJ, Ret will take Improved Judgements and Holy should have 30yrd Range Judgements so it's no biggie. The greater one is Sanctified Wrath, which no longer causes any damage whilst under the affects of AW to pierce absorption shields (even though the tooltip states it should).

The idea with this hotfix was therefore fundamentally to nerf Paladin Burst, especially against Shielded targets, rather than to eliminate the once per 5 minute DS+AW. The effect is another 20% nerf to Paladin burst potential because no Pally in their right mind will AW in PvP. In PvE Prot will never use AW because it puts their Shield Wall on a 2-minute cooldown. Equally Holy would have difficulty justifying the GCD + vulnerability to Status Effects/Aggro which popping AW over DS would cause. And in PvP munching through PW:S or Mage Shield will again be an exercise in futility. For Ret PvP AW is even worse than it was in 2.4.3, and not great for Holy either. If Blizzard want to do this then fine, but I'd propose an alternate solution.

  • Change Hand of Protection so that it may not be used on yourself, similar to Hand of Sacrifice. Forbearance to remain a part of HoP to prevent chain-immunity in PvE/P.
  • Remove the Forbearance Debuff completely from Divine Shield, Divine Protection and AW. In PvP it gives away to the opposition a means tracking vulnerability when their should be using their own skill to do so, and has zero value in PvE.
  • Cause DP and DS to incur a 30 second cooldown to each other. In PvE this would have a limited effect, in PvP it means they can't be used back-to-back but can both be used in the same fight (like CoS and Evasion can both be used). If Paladins are a defensive class, and don't have offensive abilities like intercept/MS/interrupts etc, it's time we started having the label pay off. DP can be Purged remember, so it's not exactly uncounterable. Right now, Warriors in PvP are both a more defensive class and have more offensive abilities.
  • Cause Divine Shield to reduce damage caused by 20%, negating the worry of AW+DS. Paladin Burst with both DS and AW popped will remain less than a non-DS Paladin, which by now should be easier to cope with at lvl70 and 80. If there is an issue with Paladins doing any sort of damage whilst invulnerable then reduce damage by 50%; still doing some damage though is necessary (to remain a minor offensive threat, interrupt flag caps, etc).
  • Let any Paladin use AW whenever the hell they want, 3 (2) minute cooldown permitting. It's purgeable for gods sake.


  • This still makes us weak against Priests and Mages due to their shields as Sanc. Wrath no longer pierces. As this is desirable for Blizzard then so be it.

    We are also sympathetic to the notion that if Ret can't do insane burst damage, that the spec might need other tools to be viable in PvP. We're exploring this now, possibly though the missing 11-point Prot talent, possibly through other avenues. We'll let you know when we've made a decision here.


    Ghostcrawler posted this in acknowledgement of Ret issues without significant burst damage. Frankly, I can already heal myself or someone else through another Paladin's Burst as Ret, so our Burst is not even close to insane. Even with the changes I've outlined above Paladins need more tools to do the job, though I am weary of using Protection's 11 pt talent to solve Holy and Ret's PvP issues. Frankly, there is plenty of room to do it in the Retribution and Holy Trees.

    I'm not holding me breath for new abilities and functionality. Even if we get them it will be a very long time before we do (see: 2+ Content Patches), and will be to address shortfalls in the class rather than provide new advantages to improve game balance. Every time Blizzard says 'we are considering x/y/z' as a buff take it with a huge pinch of salt because in the main they're trying to sooth your feelings and most definitely not guaranteeing changes.

    /rant

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    UPDATED: Paladin PvP Hotfix - Avenging Wrath and Divine Shield.

    UPDATE:

    Two other hotfixes that Ghostcrawler didn't mention. Judgement of Justice now lasts for 10 seconds in PvP, and the Sanctified Wrath talent in Retribution no longer allows 50% of damage to bypass absorption effects (in fact, it allows none).

    --



    Ghostcrawler:

    I'm attempting to post this early since the Ret community felt totally surprised last time.

    We are looking at some way of making Avenging Wrath and Divine Shield mutually exclusive. This may be through Forbearance, if we can reduce the Forbearance duration through a hotfix. The bubble is intended as a defensive measure. Yet bubble+wings currently is used a lot in BGs and Arenas and helps contribute to the feeling of being destroyed by a Retribution paladin while you are unable to respond.

    My apologies to the Ret paladins who already feel picked on. We are really trying hard to not overdo anything but even the last round of pretty severe nerfs didn't seem to do enough to Ret's dominance of PvP.

    We are also sympathetic to the notion that if Ret can't do insane burst damage, that the spec might need other tools to be viable in PvP. We're exploring this now, possibly though the missing 11-point Prot talent, possibly through other avenues. We'll let you know when we've made a decision here.

    I don't know exactly when this change will go live, but I didn't want you to return from trick-or-treating and be shocked that we didn't announce it, since that seemed to cause a lot of damage with the last nerf.

    I'll leave this post unlocked for now, assuming the responses stay intelligent and we don't get too much flaming or trolling.

    NOTE: The hotfix will be on Live and the beta.

    (Source)


    Hardly unexpected, though a more elegant solution to Avenging Wrath + Divine Shield's hard to counter nature would be beneficial. Linking DS, DP, HoP and AW again via Forbearance would be a pretty stupid move in the long run because we are already locked out too many of our abilities for too long, so a compromise such that DS sets AW on a 15 second cooldown would be fine. The problem is that they are seeking to hotfix it which severely limits their options, and as always is unlikely to become more sensible when it goes Live as they have other things to worry about.

    AW causing Forbearance is a ticket to seeing it back to never being used in PvP, for healing or damage dealing. Who is going to want to cast a 20 second damage increase which can be easily Purged or Spellstolen and also locks out their major defensive abilities? I'd also suggest moving Divine Protection (not Shield) off the Forbearance timer.

    I'm not exactly happy about this, but I can see how it may be necessary. I hope they are gentle, and that they seriously consider more PvP tools for us rather than use that line as a forlorn hope.


    UPDATE: Hotfix has been applied. Forbearance Duration reduced to 2 minutes. AW cannot be activated under Forbearance. Divine Shield, Handof Protection, Divine Protection and Avenging Wrath all now cause Forbearance.

    Bleh, crap way of doing things, for all specs.

    Invasions, Achievements and Pyrrhic Defeats.

    With the new Live Patch finally properly installed I decided to take Jana out for a stroll around the Scourge Invasion, Halloween Event and (of course) some Ret PvP.



    One of the Achievements that I regret never being able to accomplish on my original Human Paladin is obtaining the Tabard of the Argent Dawn. I'm not exactly sure why I didn't get it, I may have been taking one of my many breaks or switched mains to my Rogue. The latter would also explain why said Rogue has a Tabard of the Protector and the Pally doesn't. So I'm pretty happy to have now got it on my Belf Paladin, and I may see if I can scrape 18 Runes on my original Paladin before the Event ends.

    I finally got around to raising my Horde Reputation high enough to gain the Ambassador title. It wasn't nearly as tough as it used to be, clearing out the starter zone quests and Runecloth turn-ins did the trick. Argent Dawn rep was also raised to Exalted, though that was mainly a by-product of my many Strathholme runs in search of Lightforge and the Barons Mount (the latter of which was unsuccessful thus far).

    I obtained the 'Jenkins' Title too before Shield-hearthing and leaving my hapless friends to deal with hundreds of additional whelps. I'm a bad person, really I am. So Jana is now known as 'Jana Jenkins': mild-mannered Ambassador by day, by night whirling dervish of destruction as she takes on the identity 'Madame Hammer'. (No relation to Captain Hammer).

    Which brings me to PvP. God, how much more hectic is it now than in 2.4.3? Arcane Mages are nasty as heck, Boomkins really make things go boom and Ret Paladins are Juggernauts confident in taking out any class 1v1 so long as they have DS off cooldown. But... the old truisms still apply: you have to be very careful of Warlocks as they can fear-lock you from 100%-0% pretty easily; Good Hunters still know how to kite; Rogues are pesky annoying things who can eat clothies for breakfast, etc. It's very much got the flavour of 1.12 PvP all over again, when Burst Damage ruled and when Resilience was announced everyone thought it was a dump stat.

    I've topped the odd AB and WSG in KB's before the patch, so doing well post-patch didn't really surprise me. Picking your battles is a major part of fighting for success on the scoreboard, communication the other part of the formula for actual Battleground victory. And in a PuG communication isn't exactly forthcoming, no matter how many times I spam 'Inc. LM' in chat. But, defeat in any battleground is the very definition of a Pyrrhic Defeat: long, bloody and essentially meaningless in outcome because it has no lasting impact. You've lost simply in the act of playing, so you may as well enjoy it. And when enjoying it you can rack up some pretty hilarious results:



    Of course any class can top tables like this given a little luck, and it's no indication of skill, but it's damn fun. And, it should be noted, Horde lost. Badly. Perhaps even whitewashed. But we didn't half go down fighting.

    I'll be trying some Arena PvP over the weekend and seeing just how well a Ret/Mage team can do. As a benchmark I reached ~1575 in Season 4 doing the regulation 10 games a week, partly due to meeting a lot of Warrior/Druid S3 resets and partly because I'm not particularly good at PvP.

    Finally, gosh Heroic Magister's Terrace has been nerfed. And even nerfed, it still won't cough up a Shard of Contempt for me :/.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Live Hotfix Incoming: JotW and Seal of Command.

    Just posted on the Beta forums

    We are going to hotfix the nerfs to Judgement of the Wise (from 33% to 15%) and Seal and Judgement of Command (down 20% damage) to live. We need to start getting more testing on these changes right away to see what they do to Retribution in PvE and PvP. We still intend to lower the damage of other Seals and Judgements (except one - see below), but to hotfix those requires touching a lot more data so we think that change can wait for the 3.0.3 patch on live.

    We are also hotfixing the beta to return Seal and Judgement of Blood and the Martyr back up to 95% of where the used to be. Live will just never get the nerf to these abilities at all. Hopefully this will compensate PvE Retadins for relying less on more expensive AE abilities that risk putting them out of mana.

    To summarize:

    Live (3.0.2 build) -- Judgement of Wise change, Seal and Judgement of Command change.
    Beta (3.0.3 build) -- All nerfs already active, but Blood and Martyr un-nerfed.
    Next Live patch (to 3.0.3 build) -- Catches Live up to Beta. I can't give you an estimate for 3.0.3 on Live yet, but it will be before Lich King goes live on Nov 13.

    (Source)


    This is not a bad idea save for one issue: on Live, at 70, Ret Paladin gear has Intellect. No small amount of it in fact, especially if running Tier gear, which unfortunately makes testing moot for PvE concerns. For PvP you'd be testing what is effectively a lvl80 damage talent build against a load of lvl70 damage builds.

    As I've said before lvl70 balance doesn't really mean all that much any more, so introducing nerfs now or in 2 weeks time means nothing. Judging whether those changes are at sensible based upon the data you'll receive is a pretty bad idea however.

    Some good news though:

    We are also hotfixing the beta to return Seal and Judgement of Blood and the Martyr back up to 95% of where the used to be.

    I presume this means that SoB/JoB will be back to 95% of 2.4.3 levels, rather than 3.0.2 levels. If this occurs then it is a fairly substantial (and welcome IMV) un-nerf. This won't be hotfixed to Live, but will go Live with 3.0.3 (expected next week I guess).

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Irony.

    Originally Posted by Redcape on the EJ Forums, Retribution Paladin thread:

    I have discovered something quite humorous. When updating things in my spreadsheet I decided to go and calculate the value of Int. With 100 Int you get 14.6 mana / sec, which is worth about 90 dps if you are dumping that mana into consecrate.

    The only other stats we have that produce that much damage per 100 points are Str and Hit. Every single other stat is worse for dps. So assuming you manage to need more mana, the best stats you can stack in order are:

    Str
    Hit
    Int
    Exp
    Crit
    Agil

    Yes, Int is better than Expertise, Crit and Agility. If you already have enough mana to do a complete rotation anyway (which unless you are using exorcism or HW, you do) this doesn't really apply. There isn't a good way to use your excess mana if you are already Consecrating, but in a situation where you find you are mana shy, stacking Int is an excellent source of dps. If you need mana to fuel other abilities that are more efficient than consecrate Int is actually a better stat than hit, and by a substantial margin.

    How amusing.


    Be afraid Hunters, be very afraid.

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    On Righteous Vengeance and Retribution Mana.

    The Official Paladin Forums have imploded, Elitist Jerks' Paladins are in a state of shock, Retpaladin.com are belligerent and Paladin bloggers everywhere from angry to disconsolate. What a difference a patch makes.

    It'd be very easy for me to fly off the handle in this post, but I will resist doing so. Instead I'll endeavour to remain as informative as possible, so without further ado let me introduce you to the new Righteous Vengeance.





    The closest analogue in the game to this effect is the Mage talent Ignite, and like Ignite the impact of it depends very much on the strength of your Judgments/Divine Storms and your crit rate. Damage ticks every 2 seconds, serving to smooth out DPS vs the previous incarnation of Righteous Vengeance.

    Like Ignite, the damaging debuff rolls, though this was less of an issue given the relatively long cooldowns on the abilities. Here's the math behind this mecahnic:

    Example:

    Say your Judgement crits for 3000. 40% of this is 1200, and so every 2 seconds after this the RV debuff will tick for 1200/4=300 damage.

    Now let assume a Divine Storm crits 5 seconds after the Judgement for 2500. 40% of this is 1000 damage. However there is still 2 ticks of the previous RV effect left, so this damage is rolled into a new RV debuff. The new debuff ticks for (1000+300*2)/4 = 400 every 2 seconds. The combat log would look something like this:


    <0:00:01> Your Judgement Hits Kobold for 3000 Holy (Critical)
    <0:00:01> Kobold is afflicted by Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:03> Kobold suffers 300 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:05> Kobold suffers 300 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:06> Your Divine Storm Hits Kobold for 2500 Holy (Critical)
    <0:00:06> Your Righteous Vengeance is Refreshed
    <0:00:08> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:10> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:12> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:14> Kobold suffers 400 Holy damage from Your Righteous Vengeance
    <0:00:14> Your Righteous Vengeance fades from Kobold


    It's probably not worth stacking +Crit specifically for this talent, but it is still a pretty good one. It would be well served by adding in Crusader Strike to the abilities but all told this is a much better PvE ability than the older Righteous Vengeance. It's also worth noting that this ability doesn't break Repentance.

    For PvP it's not nearly as useful. Sure it's more damage, but steady DPS probably won't win a game for Ret vs Burst Damage. That it breaks other forms of CC won't help, and so RV may be the first ability cut from a Ret PvP build to free up points for Imp. HoJ at 80.

    Some information, such as how it interacts with damage shields (e.g. PW:S) and whether it suffers from some of the same timing issues as Ignite, still needs to be resolved. So to sum up, PvP it is broadly a nerf, PvE it is broadly a buff against RV's previous incarnation. You will be sticking 5 pts in this Skill at 80 for PvE, if only because you have nowhere else to put those points.

    ----

    Retribution and Mana

    Over the last few months Rets Love/Hate relationship with its power mechanic has been done to death by me and other blogs such as Josh's Eye for an Eye. The general consensus I've found is that any melee power resource which is fundamentally finite isn't ideal, and that's true for both tanking and DPS. Blizzard tacitly admits this with the Deathknight power mechanic when Mana would have fit the class just as was as it does Paladins. Whole pages, essay's, forum threads and blog posts were devoted to making Judgements of the Wise a talent which would allow Paladins to self-sustain their DPS like every other melee DPS spec. A return of ~30% of base mana was calculated as being required to facilitate a sensible Paladin raid DPS rotation.

    In build 8926 JotW was changed to regenerate 20% of Total mana rather than a % of Attack Power. Unfortunately this (along with Sheathe of Light) was far too tempting to Healing Paladins, resulting in it moving to Tier 7 and then being based on base rather than total mana. 33% of base mana allowed Paladins to sustain a rotation of CS, Judgement and DS; Consecrate and Exorcism filled out spare global cooldowns. In addition Judgement always triggered the JotW effect, whether it hit or missed. It is around this framework which lvl80 PvE DPS and observed to be competitive but not over the top. In PvP we would be less vulnerable to Mana Burn effects, forever the bane of the Ret Paladin.

    In 9014 and beyond JoW entered a series of bugged states, first of all having a raid-wide cooldown, and then in 9061 a 100% proc chance and no cooldown at all (the version currently Live IIRC). This vastly inflated Paladin mana returns (and similarly made JoL's value huge) as well as that of Enh Shaman and Hunters. So Paladins have had no mana concerns based largely around a bugged JoW, but remember that all the calculations performed by worthies such as the guys at Elitist Jerks still exists: Paladins needed at minimum a 25% mana return from JotW to be self-sustainable.

    We thought that mana was now a done deal, excepting the bugged JoW. And so it came with a huge amount of surprise and no small disbelief that JotW was nerfed to 15% mana return, along with JoW returning to its 50% of its pre-9014 state. Nothing has really changed in the original calculations: to maintain what has become the Ret Paladin DPS rotation they need 25% of mana returned minimum. Stick in Cleanse, Hands or Art of War FoL's and even at this level Ret would be in a whole mana-wise.

    The fear is that it's a PvE nerf for PvP reasons, lvl70 PvP at that. And frankly it's also a huge PvP nerf too, to the extent that Ret is probably now only as viable in Arena gameplay as in 2.4.3.

    It'll be tough to say whether Ret can truly compete in PvE and PvP come lvl80. Most Rets are hoping that these most recent nerfs will be undone before Wrath goes live, or at least before everyone reaches 80. Another opinion, that Blizzard nerfed JotW to draw attention away from the DPS nerfs, also exists and JotW will be reverted. Personally I doubt whether either are the case, I believe that this is the state in which Ret will enter its first Raid. And so like 2.x Ret will have to fight tooth and claw for every position, but this time without unique, powerful raid utility to make up the difference.

    If there are any comments from Ghostcrawler, or new patches, I will of course try to post them here.

    For raiding though one point is obvious: while Strength or Crit are better DPS stats, with a missed Judgement returning no mana you will want to be hit-capped. This will be true whether JotW returns 15% of base or 50% of base.

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    New Wrath Beta Build: [9138] *Facepalm*

    A new Wrath of the Lich King Beta Build, 9138, is incoming. And frankly it's all nerfs. Look away now if you are of a nervous disposition:

    Skills
    Holy

    * Seal of Wisdom now deal [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 1 ] holy damage when unleashed. (Down from [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 1 ] Holy damage)
    * Seal of Light now has a chance to heal for [ 15% of AP + 15% of Spell Power ]. (Down from [ 28% of AP + 28% of Spell Power ]) [*scratches head* no idea what's going on here]
    * Seal of Light now deals [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 1 ] (down from [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 1 ]) holy damage when unleashed.
    * Seal of Righteousness now grants each melee attack [ 2.2% of Melee Weapon Speed * AP + 4.4% of Melee Weapon Speed * Spell Power ] additional Holy damage. (Down from [ 2.8% of Melee Weapon Speed * AP + 5.5% of Melee Weapon Speed * Spell Power ])


    Protection

    * Seal of Justice now deals [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 1 ] holy damage when unleashed. (Down from [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 1 ])


    Retribution

    * Judgement of Command Holy damage reduced from 56% to 45%.
    * Blessing of Might (Rank 8 ) and Greater Blessing of Might (Rank 3) now increase AP by 306. (Up from 305)
    * Seal of Corruption now deals [ 15% of AP + 8.8% of Spell Power ] additional holy damage over 15 seconds. (Down from [ 19.2% of AP + 9.6% of Spell Power ])
    * Seal of Corruption now deals [ 14% of AP + 22% of Spell Power + 1 ] Holy damage. (Down from [ 17.5% of AP + 28% of Spell Power + 1 ])
    * Seal of the Martyr now make all your melee attacks deal [ 22% of mw ] to [ 22% of MW ]. (Down from [ 28% of mw ] to [ 28% of MW ])
    * Seal of the Martyr now deals [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 36% of mw ] to [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 36% of MW ] Holy Damage when unleashed. (Old - [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 25% of mw ] to [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 25% of MW ] Holy damage)
    * Seal of Blood now make all your melee attacks deal [ 22% of mw ] to [ 22% of MW ]. (Down from [ 28% of mw ] to [ 28% of MW ])
    * Seal of Blood now deals [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 36% of mw ] to [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 36% of MW ] Holy Damage when unleashed. (Old - [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 25% of mw ] to [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 25% of MW ] Holy damage)
    * Seal of Vengeance now deals [ 15% of AP + 8.8% of Spell Power ] additional Holy damage over 15 sec. (Down from [ 19.2% of AP + 9.6% of Spell Power ])
    * Seal of Vengeance now deals [ 14% of AP + 22% of Spell Power + 1 ] Holy damage. (Down from [ 17.5% of AP + 28% of Spell Power + 1 ])
    * Judgement of Wisdom now restores 1% of the attacker's maximum mana. (Down from 2%)
    * Judgement of Light now has a chance to heal the attacker for [ 10% of AP + 10% of Spell Power ]. (Down from [ 18% of AP + 18% of Spell Power ])
    * [Undocumented] JoW has now returned to an internal cooldown model. Cooldown appears to be 3-4 seconds, making mana returns approximately equal to 50% of Replenishment with less reliability.
    * Hammer of Wrath can now only be used when the target is below 20% (was 35%)


    Talents
    Retribution

    * Divine Storm doesn't deal Holy damage anymore. Now heals up to 3 party or raid members for 25% of the damage caused. (Up from 20%)
    * Righteous Vengeance changed to - When your Judgement and Divine Storm spells deal a critical strike, your target will take 8/16/24/32/40% additional damage over 8 sec.
    * The Art of War now increases the damage of Judgement, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm by 5/10%. (Old - Increased critical strike damage only, by 10/20%)
    * Judgement of the Wise now grants the paladin 15% of his base mana. (Down from 33%)
    * Seal of Command now deals [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 24% of mw ] to [ 16% of AP + 25% of Spell Power + 24% of MW ] Holy damage. (Down from [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 30% of mw ] to [ 20% of AP + 32% of Spell Power + 30% of MW ])

    Glyphs
    Glyph of Crusader Strike - Reduces the mana cost of your Crusader Strike ability by 20%. (Old - Your Crusader strike deals 20% more damage when your target is incapacitated or stunned.)

    (Source)


    Yay, another nerf to Judgement damage, by another 20%. And most Seal damage has been nerfed too, by around the same amount.

    Judgement debuff benefits have been nerfed by pretty much 50%. Proc rates are critical though, if they remain as they were then they are still good judgements.

    Judgements of the Wise now restores 15% of base mana (down from 35%). This is not enough to maintain a full DPS rotation.

    So yes, nerfs abound in this build.

    EDIT:

    Net Effects:

    Seal Damage has been reduced by 20%. This is an overall reduction of ~4% on total damage, more than that on total threat (~10%?).

    Judgement Damage reduced by 20%. Increased by 10%. This is an overall reduction of 12% on Judgement Damage.

    Judgement Critical Damage reduced by 19%.*

    Divine Storm damage is no longer Holy, reducing damage by 10%-50%. Damage boosted by 10%. At best, this is a reduction in DS damage by 1.1%.

    Divine Storm Critical Damage reduced by 11%.*

    Crusader Strike damage increased by 10%. Crusader Strike critical damage no longer gets a bonus. This is an increase in CS damage by 5-10% depending on crit rate.

    JotW Mana returns 50% less than previous. This means that sustainable rotations will provide much less DPS including no use of Consecration, Exorcism or Art Of War's FoL effect. The impact is hard to estimate, but I'd say it's a loss of around 5% or more DPS on fights lasting more than 3 minutes.

    *. The great unknown right now is Righteous Vengeance. How Does it stack, if at all? Does it roll? What are reasonable crit rates for DS and Judgement at lvl80 (because it definitely won't be as high as lvl70)? Hopefully more info about this talent will be forthcoming in the next few days.

    Conservatively, I'd put this patch at a 5-8% DPS reduction for PvE for short fights, 10% or more on longer encounters. The effect in PvP is nothing short of devastating, to the extent that we are now once again vulnerable to Mana Burn as well as being more vulnerable to CC vs 2.4.3.

    Not a good patch for us. And it's likely that this one will be going Live as 3.0.3.

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