Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Note on Heroic Halls of Reflection.

/decloak

Paladins of all stripes. Please note that the baddies in the Halls of Reflection Gauntlet event are Undead. This means that you too can finally CC*. Set up a focus macro for Turn Evil and make that blighter run around rather than wail on your tank or healer (esp the Riflemen).

This goes doubly for Ret Paladins.

And triply for Ret Paladins who still haven't used Repentence in PvE content.

*CC. You remember, Crowd Control. Using some method to prevent an NPC from performing actions.

Yeah, like Mages in Burning Crusade heroics. Well remembered.

Right, had to get that off my chest. Back to your regularly scheduled silence.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Extended Outage.

As you may have noted blogging round here has dried up over the past month or so, and that won't be changing any time soon. Rather than put up filler posts (which I've never been a great fan of) The Suicidal Zebra won't be updated for at least 6 weeks, during which time I will hopefully once again be bitten by the Blogging Bug. Or have something interesting to say.

See you in the new year.

~ Tim

Monday, November 09, 2009

New to 3.3: More Sensible Nerfs, Slightly Better Mechanics.

Updated 17.11.09:

MMO-Champ are reporting that Divine Intervention has changed in the latest build. It may have, but in a logical (non-nerf) manner:

Divine Intervention: This ability now also removes Exhaustion or Sated from a target if the recipient is out of combat when the effect ends. In addition, the cooldown on this ability has been reduced from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.

(Source: Official PTR Notes 17.11.09)


MMO-Champ datamines tooltips but has no way to extract spell functionality directly. The tooltip has probably just been cleaned up to reflect this tweaked version, which is understandable, when you think about it.

--

The official patch notes have just changed again to reflect a few additions to the patch including a new iteration of LoH+Forbearance. Here are the latest:

Divine Intervention: This ability now also removes Exhaustion and Sated from the target. In addition, the cooldown on this ability has been reduced from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.

Lay on Hands: This ability will place Forbearance on the paladin if used on his or herself. It will not place Forbearance on others.

Retribution:

* Repentance: This crowd control effect will no longer break early from the damage done by Righteous Vengeance. (Source)


The LoH change is by far the most sensible iteration thus far, though Protection Paladins won't be able to use it as a tanking cooldown. It's a compromise, though whether it's 'fair' or not depends on which side of the class line you stand ;). This is probably as close as were going to get to a fair non-trivial BG-PvP nerf without redesigning the ability from the ground up, but it's a shame that PvE-ing Paladins are affected. For the record I still hate Forbearance, and if there was one thing I'd like to remove in Cataclysm this would be it.

As an aside, it would be interesting to see LoH and AW continue to be usable back-to-back rather than including the 30-sec lock-out currently in operation for all other Forbearance-causing abilities.

The change to Divine Intervention (the Paladin Wipe Recovery, a.k.a save me a repair bill, tool) is really a quality of life change. As noted by Morrigan in her latest post Divine Intervention not removing the Bloodlust/Sated debuff can cause issues for the attempt after which you have recovered. You almost wonder if someone at Blizzard was reading her blog. Good change, if a little long in coming, and still doesn't really address the underling weakness of the ability

Finally, we come to Repentance. The change was originally floated back in the great nerf of 3.0.3, though at that time the value of Righteous Vengeance was far lower than it currently is. The reason why this is important is that RV is a passive ability over which a Ret Paladin has very little control (excepting the obvious), and this can leave Repentance as slightly redundant in PvP. Again, it simply makes Ret PvP mechanics a little less silly, and I doubt that it'll have wide-ranging impications for the next Arena Season. However, don't quote me on that if Modders start writing macro's to 'count up' the remaining RV damage and then using Repentance, allowing RV to tick unto the opponents death.

So, we've finally got to a stage where the Patch as advertised isn't totally bonkers from this Paladin's perspective. Surely it's can't be long before it's deployed to the live servers, perhaps even before the end of November?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Good News Everyone... The Real Paladin Tier 10

Bah.

The page was ninja-updated. The set below is in fact Season 8 PvP, and MMO-Champs version was Tier-10. Damn. Oh well, at least the Season 8 Set looks good.

*goes off to cry*

--

The Official Tier-10 Sneak Peak has been updated to include previews of the Paladin and Priest Tier-10, and I'm pleased to say that the former differs significantly from that datamined by MMO-Champion. Here's the image,



I'm tempted to say that it looks a hell of a lot like the next Paladin PvP tier rather than Tier-10, but we'll get no better advance warning on the looks of the official tier than the horses mouth. Personally, I like the look a whole lot more than the datamined graphics and it feels a heck of a lot more 'Paladiny', if that's a word I'm allowed to invent.

I'm not sure what the datamined version actually is, perhaps an NPC model or Shaman T-10. Or it may be that Blizzard have got their wires crossed somewhere. We shall see.

The link to the page of all set previews is always on the right of this blog.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sacred Shield Changes Partially Reverted, more Forbearance

The 3.3 Patch Notes have just been updated in preparation for another build this evening. The big news is undoubtedly that Sacred Shield has been un-nerfed a little - the Flash of Light HoT now only exists as a part of the Infusion of Light Talent but the Shield proc will have a 6 second cooldown once again. Did anyone care about this HoT anyway given how it didn't roll and was overwritten by any new FoL? Probably not.

Well, they may care now as the text of the patch note implies that the HoT isn't tied to Sacred Shield. This is unlikely to go live, but is well worth testing and would represent a big buff for Holy Paladins from 3.2.2 state.

On the other hand, Lay On Hands has been tied to Forbearance. It's hard not to face-palm at this change given that it's still not usable in the Arena and has a base cooldown of 20 mins. Frankly, it's a nerf targeted at Battlegrounds and open-world PvP which has the side-effect of making the Skill significantly less useful for Protection PvE. Yet again Forbearance is being used as a catch-all rather than a genuine solution and yet again we're wondering at the lack of imagination in design; perhaps if all you have is a club everything looks like a knee-cap. Still, it's better than the alternative floated last week, but are these changes just 'solutions' in search of a problem?

Oh, Holy Paladin's casting LoH on your Paladin Tank? Congratulations, your Paladin Raid tank can no longer cast Divine Protection for 2 mins. Great Work.



I sense a few more iterations are necessary.

Otherwise, there's not much to see in these changes. We'll be able to avoid repair bills twice as often with a new 10min cooldown on Divine Intervention (hilariously, it still cannot be used in Arena's), and the Aura Mastery change from 10 to 6 seconds has been officially included.

From a more general perspective lifting the level restriction on Meeting Stones is a GOOD CHANGE, though having it included for Hallow's End would have been nice. On the PvP side of things 25 Arena Points for completing the Battleground Daily is interesting for those on low ratings seeking to push on for better gear. You're still talking a maximum of 175 more Arena Points a week to make a dent in the points required for decent gear and it doesn't change rating, but some will complain anyway. I couldn't care less how gear is dished out so long as players in competitive areas of gameplay can compete on a level playing field.

The full text of the patch note changes can be found here. Full PTR Patch Notes here.

EDIT - Got the wrong end of Battleground change. Corrected.

EDIT2 - In hilarious coincidence, exactly one year ago today I posted this:

A Lack of Patience With Forbearance

Prot-Ret, the New Prot-Holy?

Prot-Holy was nerfed significantly with the justification that Paladins healing in PvP should be taking Holy talents, not Prot talents. This has been reinforced with the recent change to Sacred Shields' baseline effect and placement of 'Imp. SS' deep in Holy, though it strikes me as being ass-backwards as far as development decisions go. The knock-on effects are inevitable and have been brushed off by Ghostcrawler under the excuse that Ret is 'too tanky'.

*cue laughter*

I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone, even in 3.0, say that Ret was too durable. Too bursty, definitely, but never too durable. The last time I can remember anyone bring out that old chestnut was in Vanilla, levelled against the whole class even as it underperformed in PvP and players needed an atlas to find their interrupt (as well as their asses). Indeed, the 'Three Lives' comment has yet again returned at a time when Bubble-breakers have never been more prevelent, and by GC no less. You might be under the misapprehension that a class which needs three lives to down an equally geared adversary has greater issues than these cooldown, I know I am. But I digress.

With Ret's durability being nerfed and burst no longer being the be-all and end-all in Arena PvP Prot+Ret has started making an appearance. The idea seems to be that burst damage is still 'okay' but control is generally better, to the extent that it's more competitive in group PvP. Also, the spec is obviously a hell of a lot more durable than Ret in 3.2 and even more so in 3.3 as SS and hence its' synergy with AoW+FoL is being nerfed.

Mana could be something of an issue even with talented Divine Plea, but look at what you could get.

  • Avengers Shield - A Ranged Snare or Silence on a 30sec cooldown that deals plenty of damage.
  • Ardent Defender - loads of damage reduction, passive self-rez and expertise
  • 30 Second Hammer of Justice to make up for a lack of Repentence.
  • Damage Reduction up the wazooli, including magical damage reduction and party damage reduction/redirection
  • A significantly larger Hit Point pool.


  • In 3v3 Arena team Ret's light is declining, as evidenced by the latest SK-100 leaderboard which has Zero (0) Rets. If you still want to play your Paladin in an even slightly offensive role Prot-Ret could be a strong alternative to Ret. Heck, if you want to give it a try all you need is 50g for a respec and a good Sword+Board, though eventually Block Value gear is going to start ot look tempting.

    Tentative 53/18 Build, Inc. Glyphs.

    ---

    N.B. I'm not to blame if Prot is nerfed following this post. Really.

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Sacred Shield, Now 80% Less Effective. - Updated

    Update

    A couple of other changes have been datamined from the latest PTR build by MMO-Champ :-

    1) Lay of Hands can no longer be cast on yourself.
    2) Aura Mastery now lasts 6 seconds, down from 10.

    Additionally, the Sacred Shield change is in the tooltip for this build. AM is a PvP nerf, LoH is no longer a Paladin Tank cooldown. But really, why was this necessary, LoH has been like that since Vanilla.

    Oh wait, I know why, it's the 7800 mana it grants in PvE combined with the Glyph of Divinity. Why not just change the Glyph to 'has no effect when LoH is cast on yourself'?

    /headdesk

    Here's another possibility: is this a nerf targeted specifically out our performance in Battlegrounds? After all, rated BG's are coming soon and there may be a fear that Paladins will dominate this new 'PvP bracket'.

    --

    Patch 3.3's latest build includes the following change:

    Baseline
  • Sacred Shield: The damage absorption effect from this ability now triggers only once every 30 seconds. [As opposed to once every 6 seconds]

  • Holy
  • Infusion of Light: This talent now also reduces the cooldown on the effect of Sacred Shield by 12/24 seconds.
  • (Source)


    Sacred Shield's baseline effect just got hit to be 20% of it's current effectiveness, which represents a huge nerf to the value of the skill for any Paladin not deep in Holy. To put it into context, a baseline Sacred Shield in 3.2 will proc up to five damage shields over 30 seconds with one cast, a Patch 3.3 SS will proc one.

    Why? What's the motivation? Well, the bugbear of many a Paladin over the last few years has struck again: skill nerfs because of PvP. Prot-Holy build is still very popular as a spec and deep-Holy often gets a lot of criticism for being non-interesting for a PvPing Paladin compared to the control and offensive potential of Prot-Holy. Prot's big issue was one of mobility without Holy Shock, and so a strong Sacred Shield remains powerful against teams without an offensive dispel. By making Infusion of Light required for a PvP-viable Sacred Shield any skills deeper than 24pts in Prot - including Ardent Defender, Avenger's Shield, Touched by the Light and Judgments of the Just - are immediately taken off the table. I'm not qualified enough to judge if a crippled Sacred Shield will in fact cripple Prot-Holy but if I had to guess I'd say it's not good for that gameplay niche, to put it mildly.

    As a side-effect Ret will obviously take a huge durability and utility hit in PvP as even without Divine Guardian the ability absorbed a non-trivial amount of incoming damage, the Shield will absorb less damage than an instant FoL will heal. Finally, Sacred Shield becomes a very weak ability for Prot damage mitigation in any Raid with no Holy Pally.

    Is Sacred Shield now a worthy lvl80 baseline ability for all specs? For any specs? God no.

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Ghostcrawler on Divine Sacrifice.

    The crabby one has poked his head above the parapet to describe how the new incarnations of Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian will work. In the post we learn that:

  • 3.1's incarnation is too powerful and has begun to be a major balancing factor for encounters,
  • The D-Guard effect may last for the full duration of D-Sac rather than ending if D-Sac breaks early,
  • And this may not be the final interation of D-Sac and D-Guard development as the PTR is ongoing


  • There's nothing surprising in there, the talent is intended to work as you would expect except for the break conditions of Divine Guardian. Of most importance from a testing POV however is that we finally have a firm idea of how the talent is supposed to work.

    I'll try to explain this all.

    The old (3.2) model of "raid wall" where you get to essentially Shield Wall your entire raid by bubbling to avoid the excessive damage was overpowered and we were increasingly starting to balance around it.

    The new (PTR) model is that Diving Sacrifice applies to the party, not raid. It can absorb 40% of your health x your party size. If you are in a party of 5, it will redirect damage to you that is taken by the party up to a max of 200% of your health. If you are in a party of 2, it will redirect damage to you that is taken by the party up to a max of 80% of your health. If you take enough damage to drop you below 20% of your health, the spell is cancelled.

    Divine Guardian reduces damage taken by the raid by 20% for up to 15 sec when you cast Divine Sacrifice. The damage reduction isn't directly related to the redirected damage any longer, except that it stops when Divine Sacrifice stops because you have absorbed too much damage or dropped your own health too low. (I understand the current PTR may not have DG stopping when DS stops.) The talent still affects Sacred Shield as a secondary effect.

    Whether you bubble or not will not change the amount absorbed. If you do not bubble, then both DS and DG will cancel as soon as it drops you below 20%. We added this cap because we thought the self-gib feature of using DS / DG without bubbling was weird. However, the spell can still kill you if the damage is quick and massive enough. If you have DS up when a party member gets hit by a Mimiron rocket, you'll die before the 20% cancellation kicks in.

    Example: Kallee the paladin has 50,000 health. She has the DG talent. When she uses DS in a full raid, she can absorb 20% of incoming damage to the raid until one of three things happen: 1) 15 sec expire, 2) she absorbs 100,000 damage total (from damage to her party only), 3) she drops below 10,000 health.

    Yes, this means that in some situations you could get the full 15 sec duration if some part of the raid is taking damage but the paladin's party is not. The more typical case is a situation in which the whole raid is taking damage.

    A related significant change is that all sources of damage should now count towards Divine Sacrifice. Before there were some situations, Twin Val'kyr for instance, where the paladin wouldn't take damage or wouldn't take enough damage from the redirection.

    P. S. We have been trying to move more abilities from the party to the raid, but some just don't scale nicely and are either overpowered in a 5-player group or underpowered in a 25-player group. We may implement some kind of scaling mechanism for Cataclysm or just accept that a few abilities need to remain party only.

    P. P. S. This has changed a couple of times on the PTR already and it's possible this is not the final implementation, so confusion is totally understandable.

    (Source)


    So, the discussion moves on from 'How should this work?' to 'Should this be used as a Raid-wide Damage Reduction cooldown or as Damage Reduction for the Raid's Tank?'. Essentially, 20% Raid-wide DR or ~50% DR for the tank. Personally, the only further change I'd like to see is to move Divine Guardian up a tier alongside Divine Sacrifice, to make it viable as Ret raid utility.

    And that's my last post on Divine Sacrifice for a while. Promise.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Divine Sacrifice - Revenge of the Extended Tooltip

    Latest Divine Sacrifice change, ostensibly to prevent gibbing yourself with the skill:

    Divine Sacrifice: Redesigned. The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases. Finally, damage which reduces the paladin’s health below 20% now cancels the effect early.


    I was trying to think of a way to make fun of this, but having to buy a Kindle to read a tooltip is beyond parody.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    One Final Change Before the Cataclysm?

    How about in the 4.0 Patch, where gear is fairly irrelevant and a lot of the raiding content has been cleared leading to piles and piles of Emblems being stocked up with nothing to spend them on, the Emblems themselves become Bind to Account? By the end of 3.3 many mains are going to have 100's of EoT's stockpiled from running heroics and raids in 3.3, but unfortunately will have nothing to invest in those EoT's in. Transferring them to be spent on an alt, either for raiding or gaining DPS items to level with, renders these items useful beyond their usual expiration date and has the potential to bridge the gap between lvl80 hierlooms and 81-85 levelling content.

    What do you think?

    Seal And Libram Switching Macro.

    UPDATED 21/12/09 (Patch 3.3)

    Patch 3.3 has broken the 'Safe' Libram swap macro at the bottom of this page, I believe as a sideffect of the breaking of Rogue poison-weapon swapping macro's. The less complicated one (listed first) still works, with the added benefit of having the character space to fit in calls to the Clcret rotation helper addon. Still, make sure you don't hit it accidentally.

    ---

    If you are a Ret Paladin and have been involved in any sort of raiding content recently you should now be getting used to Seal Switching depending on the encounter or phase in a particular fight. You should also be using the Libram of Valiance, the super-sexy Relic deisnged for Seal of Vengeance. However I know that some of you aren't swapping their Relic along with their Seal, even though Valiance doesn't help SoCommand at all. Tut Tut...

    Aren't you glad I'm here to help ;).

    Libram swapping can be performed at any time, even during a GCD, but invokes a 1.5 second GCD. Hence if you Libram-swap as soon as you cast an instant you will only incur a total 1.5sec GCD, along with the usual reset of the weapon swing timer. The total procedure can be placed in a macro, seen below:

    #showtooltip Seal of Command
    /cast Seal of Command
    /equip Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude


    However, the Libram will still be swapped even if Seal of Command isn't cast. Correcting for this failure mode is a little tricky, but the following /run command should work out:

    /cast Seal of Command
    /run local f=RbA or CreateFrame("Frame","RbA") f:SetScript("OnEvent",function(s,e,u,p) if u=="player" and p=="Seal of Command" then EquipItemByName(42852) end end) f:RegisterEvent("UNIT_SPELLCAST_SUCCEEDED")


    The script basically attempts to cast Seal of Command, and then if successful runs the EquipItemByName function with the arguement (42852). This number is actually the item number of the Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude, but you can input the item ID of any suitable Libram. In theory EquipItemByName can take the item name aswell as the number as an arguement, but in this case that option would take the macro over the character limit.

    Check out Wowhead for ItemID's, the same number used in their item weblinks.


    thanks to Glutton on the EJ Forums for this info

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Paladin Tier 10 Graphics... Meh.

    By now you've all seen pics of Paladin Tier 10 and it looks like opinion is split: some quite like it, others think that Blizzards designers should die in a fire. The general colour scheme doesn't help, pinks purples and browns have never really felt like Paladin colours, and skulls and/or fire make you think more readily of Deathknights or Shaman than Paladins. Note that the 'pink' jaw piece looks like a rendering error.

    There is a blue recolour of Tier 10 in the game files which looks better but still doesn't feel much like Paladin gear to me.



    This isn't the first time the Paladin community hasn't been particularly impressed with the look of their Tier gear, we've got something of a love-hate relationship with Blizzards art designers. The love can be traced back to Judgement and Lightbringer which both rock, the hate is a product of Lightforge (Tier-0, though great recolours exist), Lawbringer (Banana-shouldered Tier 1) and Crystalforge (ugh, Tier 5). Of course, the problem isn't so much with the artistic ability of the art team which has generally been of a high quality, but perhaps their underlying inspiration needs some work.

    Tier 8 and Tier 10 are designed to be evocative of Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel. Rather than genuinely make you think 'that's Paladin gear', they're styled as if you've picked up and decided to throw on what has just been dropped from a boss. In this they've been successful, the plate Tier 10 gear would suite any of the classes equally with only a minor recolour, but that's not to say that they suit any of them particularly well. This philosophy seems unnecessary when the token system implies taking a template item dropped and then heavily adapting it to the class Tier.

    Does this mean we're past the days of Judgement and Lightbringer which were undoubtably Paladin styles? I hope not, but it will be if this expansion is anything to go by.

    Blue Tier 10 Recolour found here, posted by Vashdakari

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Things I Hate, Onyxia Edition.

    I hate:

    1) Disconnecting Off-tanks. If your internet isn't stable you probably shouldn't be doing an important job.

    2) Disconnecting Healers. As (1), but I'm willing to forgive you if no other healers are online.

    In fact, just about anyone Disconnecting. Except for the other Ret Pally, he can disconnect all he wants so long as he doesn't roll on gear.

    3) Having to be a whelp tank to replace (1) as the only reasonably geared tank off-spec in the raid.

    4) DPS in front of the Big Add, or anywhere near the Add's tank. Cleave = 5-yard chaining death.

    5) Healers in front of the Big Add. See above.

    6) Tanks not turning the big add away from (4) and (5).

    7) Melee DPS without Enemy Cast Bars turned on, and hence standing in Blast Nova when it's a 5 fecking second cast. Seriously. Just. Argh!!!

    8) Shoddy Phase 3 Transitions. Sometimes understandable, but Onyxia shouldn't be coming down in a nasty position if ranged DPS is told to stop at 41% until RL tells them to bring her down.

    9) DPS Standing anywhere near the Whelp Pits during (8). If your whelp tank is pulling away from them now is not the time to rush towards them, if necessary stay in SW/SE until Onyxia is in the right place.


    And the prime, number one thing I hate:

    10) Wiping for 2 hours on a boss we really should one-shot by now.




    Auxiliary thing I hate, not limited to Onyxia

    Someone pointing out mid-raid where a specific member of the raid went wrong (in painstaking detail), going on about it for quarter of an hour without making any actually useful observations. A word to the wise everyone, you can only go on and on and on for so long until other raid members start to think you're just in love with your own voice.


    This post was inspired by Wednesday's Onyxia raid.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Tier 10 Librams: First Glance.

    MMO-Champion, doing their usual sterling work, have datamined the current bonuses for the Tier-10 Relics. They all follow a similar theme: stackable bonuses useful to the spec triggered by a skill in their general rotation. They don't, in the main, represent as much of an upgrade over Tier-9 as T9 did over T8/PvP, but they are still reasonably well budgeted.

    Paladin T10 Holy Relic (Holy Shock) - Your Holy Shock spell grants 85 spell power for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.


    The T-10 Holy Libram proc is triggered by Holy Shock, rather than Holy Light as in the case of Libram of Veracity (T9). The maximum possible benefit is 255 Spell Power vs Veracity's 234, but it stacks over a period of 10 seconds (minimum) rather than being active after the first Holy Light cast. As usual, pre-buffing before the encounter begins may be a way to overcome this drawback.

    Not being a Healer it's tough for me to gauge the value of the Libram, but my gut instinct is that it's not that much of an upgrade and will be fairly low down in the Emblems of Frost spending priority list. In the grand scheme of things 22 Spellpower really isn't all that much and the upgrade of any single set piece to the next Tier of ilvl's should provide a better return.

    --

    Paladin T10 Protection Relic (Shield of Righteousness) - Your Shield of Righteousness ability grants 73 dodge rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.


    Next we come to the Protection Libram. Again, it's a stackable buff, this time providing Dodge Rating in chunks of 75 on strikes from your Shield of Righteousness. It's little better than the Libram of Defiance, the Tier 9 equivalent, but the 20 more dodge rating will be eaten up by diminishing returns in Tier 9/10 gear. The stacking nature of this buff and the fact that it requires a minimum of 12 seconds to stack makes it only slightly better than Defiance and almost certainly not worth investing in until all other tanking upgrades have been purchased.

    And your off-spec gear.

    And your gems.

    And Hierloom items.

    Okay, perhaps not Hierlooms, but you get my drift.

    Incidentally, check out this thread on Maintankadin to learn more about avoidance diminishing returns.

    --

    Paladin T10 Retribution Relic (Crusader Strike) - Your Crusader Strike ability grants 44 Strength for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.


    Now, on to the Ret Libram. It is the upgrade for the Libram of Valiance, and at the peak it provides 220 Strength (44*5) vs Valiance's 200. It also has an up-time of 100%, compared with the ~96% of Valiance (due the small chance Valiance has of expiring before the buff is renewed). However, other comparisons aren't necessarily that favourable.

    The ramp-up requirement for all the DPS librams have probably been designed to make the Librams less useful in PvP, where an always-up +200 Str could make a heck of a difference. The same was true with Valiance, where it was tied to a Seal less than viable for PvP. It's frustrating, and speaks to bad itemisation for those actual PvP Librams, but there's not much that can be done about it.

    Back to PvE and T-10 takes at least 16 seconds to ramp up to its' full potential, rather than the 1-2 secs of Valiance, and 20 seconds is probably a more reasonable estimate. Over a minute of continuous time on-target is needed for T10 to equal Valance's DPS contribution, though admittedly SoV/Cor's own ramp-up will nibble away at that figure. Obviously for full effectiveness you'll also want to cap Expertise and Hit, though you'll probably be doing that anyway.

    On the flip side T-10 isn't tied to any one Seal, making it ideal for situations where using SoVeng/Cor would be sub-optimal. Trash packs and encounters with multiple adds are prime opportunities to let loose with this Libram and Seal of Command. Even so, if these sorts of conditions occur a with some frequency the Tier 10 Set 2-item bonus (40% chance of refreshing the cooldown of Divine Storm) would be the first port of call.

    ---

    So to sum up:

    Relic Upgrades:
  • Holy T10 - Small upgrade
  • Protection T10 - Minor Upgrade
  • Retribution T10 - Small to medium upgrade (depending on encounter)


  • A major part of why these items are lacklustre is the stacking nature of the buff and that they are linked to skills with an effective cooldown. Presupposing a Tier-10 Set purchasing scheme similar to Tier 9's you'll almost certainly want to be buying your Class Set first. But lets not get at all down-hearted, on their own these Librams are great and yet again show just how much of an improvement Tier 9's Relics are.

    As with all Patch 3.3 info this is subject to change using the PTR process


    *note* Post needs more images

    Friday, October 09, 2009

    Patch 3.3: Tier 10 Set Bonuses - Ret Updated.

    Loathe as I was to post about the Tier 10 Set Bonuses, here they are. Note that the Ret Paladin Set bonuses have been swapped and clarified by Blizzard over the current MMO-Champion listing, so I'm pretty pleased I chose to wait:

    Retribution:

    2 piece bonus - Your melee attacks have a 40% chance to reset the cooldown on your Divine Storm ability.
    4 piece bonus - Your Seals and Judgements deal 10% additional damage.

    (Source)

    Protection:

    2 piece bonus - Your Hammer of the Righteous ability deals 20% increased damage.
    4 piece bonus - When you activate Divine Plea, you gain 12% dodge for 10 seconds.

    (Source)

    Holy:

    2 piece bonus - While your Divine Illumination talent is active, your healing spells are increased by 35%.
    4 piece bonus - Your Holy Shock spell causes the next Holy Light you cast within 10 sec to have 0.3 sec reduced cast time.

    (Source)

    Bonuses are in the testing stage and will remain subject to change for some time.

    For my money, the Ret bonus looks pretty good and should change up the rotation slightly, though they may well start to limit what can actually proc the cooldown reset. The one concern with DS will probably remain mana cost, 18% is a big chunk of your mana bar.

    It's quite late here so I'll leave it at that.

    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    Patch 3.3: Cementing The Raid-Wall, Fixing Divine Sacrifice.

    The Patch notes have just been updated and finally we have some detail for Paladin changes in 3.3. It looks like the idea of a raid-wide Shield Wall is going to be formalised and tested following a rejigging of Divine Sacrifice and Guardian.

    Paladin
    Protection

  • Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 10/20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active.

  • Divine Sacrifice: Redesigned. The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the damage transferred to the paladin is now reduced by 50% before being applied to the paladin. Finally, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases.


  • Okay, this is going to take a little unpacking to explain.

    Currently:

    Divine Sacrifice redirects 30% (40 with Divine Guardian) from each raid member to the Paladin. This should continue until 150% of the Paladin's Max HP have been transferred. Sometimes however, most notably when Divine Shield is active, the Paladin takes no damage and the Divine Sacrifice buff appears to persist for much longer than expected (usually the full duration of Divine Shield). This effectively shields the Raid for 30% (40% when talented) of all incoming damage (hence 'Raid-Wall'), immensely useful for certain hard-modes. It's pretty much always been recognised as a bug, and a powerful one at that, but silence from Blizzard made assessing the intended functionality impossible.

    Note that you only need to invest 11pts in Protection to gain this Raid-Wall.

    In 3.3:

    Divine Sacrifice only applies to 'Party' members (not raid-wide). It transfers 30% of damage taken by Party members. The damage redirection is limited to 40% x # of Party members, i.e 200% of the Paladin's maximum health when in a full party. As the Paladin will only take 50% of the damage redirected, and damage is only redirected Party-wide, the chances of insta-gib are significantly reduced.

    Generally, 3.3's DSac will be similar to 3.2's except that it's Party-wide and correctly limited by the Paladin's health.

    Divine Guardian will be a true 20% Raid-Wall, but should function in a much more predictable manner. Extending the duration of Divine Sacrifice by minimising the damage your Party-members are taking will be key to the proper use of this ability - for a 28k HP raid-buffed Paladin to retain a 10sec duration his party members would have to be taking only 4.6k DPS (after modifiers) on average. Not very much, but the raid-wide 20% damage reduction will help.

    The Paladin using Divine Sacrifice+Guardian should not be in the same party as the Main Tank.

    No clue if this ability will stack when multiple Paladins use it at the same time (probably not), nor any idea if you will have full DSac duration if all your party members are immune to all damage (gogo 5-Paladin parties).

    ---

    A broken wall is still a wall. Ish.


    I'm loath to call what has to be a bug-fix a nerf, but it is. To get a Raid-Wall (i.e. Divine Guardian) you need to invest 17pts in Protection which necessitates the omission of potent DPS increasing or healing talents. Except in very specific fights taking Divine Guardian will probably be a Ret Paladin no-go. For Tanks, the use of DSac in concert with Divine Shield shouldn't be required any longer, so no dropped aggro, but it still greatly increases incoming damage. It's probably not something that a tanking Protection Paladin would be able to use because of the substantial increase in damage taken in any situation where you actually want to use it.

    I like the redesign in general, and had it been a part of 3.1 I'd have bitten Blizzard's hand off. However 17 pts is probably too deep for a DPS or Healing spec, and instead putting both DSac and DG in Tier 3 (requiring a total investment of 13pts) would be a better idea IMO.

    What are your thoughts?



    Image taken from Flickr Creative Commons group

    Friday, October 02, 2009

    Patch 3.3: Imp Shopping But Not Much Else... Yet

    Warlock rerollers are in for a treat in 3.3. Imps are available at level 1 and with now prerequisite quest. No longer will you have to waste any time discovering the (often comedic) name of your trusty (though rarely trusted) companion. If you don't like the name simply delete the character and try again.

    You may get lucky, but probably not this lucky:




    ---

    I would be posting conjecture on 3.3 but there really isn't much to go on. There are no Paladin changes except for SoCorruption's tooltip correction (to bring it in line with SoV's), nerfs to Pet Avoidance which should make dealing with Treants and Armies of the Dead slightly easier, and various buffs to low level characters such that reaching level 15 is more painless than ever.

    Oh, and Vanish is getting fixed, using a suggestion at least 4 years old (Stealth/Vanish buff cannot break on damage for 1sec after cast). Finally, good sense has prevailed.

    Speculation goes that the PTR has been released to compete with SW:TOR Beta signups and this is a very preliminary build. On the other hand you'd imagine that so deep into Wrath of the Lich King few class balance changes are actually required. We'll have to wait and see.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    More Token Time!

    Hot off the presses is an extension for Brewfest (in the US at least, should also be in the UK).

    Brewfest is a time of year where the focus is placed squarely on the celebration of fun and food. In order to give everyone enough time to truly experience this event (and after some fine tuning on the part of the event organizers), we will be extending the event two additional days. The festivities will end on October 5th at 11:59PM, so don’t miss it!

    (Source)


    Two extra days won't seem like a lot, but the extension allowing you to net 80 more tokens is a pretty conservative estimate. If you got to 200 and thought you didn't have the time to complete the achievement you should still be able to get it done.

    Remember though, don't buy anything until you have 350 Tokens. Then buy the Brewfest Garb needed for Disturbing The Peace, do a little dance, and sell the garb back to any vendor for a 350 Token refund. Finally, go and buy the Brew of the Month Club Membership Form for 200 Tokens, and perhaps even the adorable Pink Elekk pet for 100.

    Mount hounds will also be pleased to hear that this gives you 2 additional days' worth of attempts at the dastardly Coren Direbrew, he of bloody-low-drop-rate-and-hexed-rolls-mount fame.

    Fans of the Brewfest Seasonal Garb can also use this additional time to raise the tokens and buy each item outright.

    Happy Ram Racing!

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    All Powerful She May Be, But Her Spelling Sucks


    "Remeber, Remeber how to spell 'Remember'"


    I'll let her off with her spelling of Reveler, she may be British ;).

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    3.2.2 Seal of Command Notes.

    Just a few things to mention:

  • Seal of Command should now be used in favour of Seal of Righteousness in virtually every (PvE) circumstance. You should only be using SoR in AoE situations anyway, but in these circumstances SoC should now be able to pull out a meaningful DPS lead,
  • Seal of Command's cleave effect range seems to be roughly melee range, i.e. ~5 yards,
  • One target cannot be hit with multiple SoC cleave effects from the same source,
  • As indicated, Seal of Command's cleave won't work with Divine Storm or Hammer of the Righteous, but the basic SoC proc continues to work with these skills
  • Seal of Commands' Cleave will break Crowd Control,
  • The Cleave effect counts as an AoE attack, and AoE-damage reducing effects will affect this proc (e.g Factions Champions in TotC),
  • Seal of Command should henceforth be known as "Seal of Cleave"


  • ADDED:

  • SoC Cleave procs will chain to nearby attackable neutral NPC's, so be cautious


  • Taking the talent is a tough call, the trade-off largely depends on your raid make-up. If present in Moonkin heavy raids should drop points from Swift Retribution, Warrior/druid heavy ones will look to Vindication, Paladin heavy ones probably won't be picking up Imp Blessing of Wisdom. SoC's probably worth it, but will stimulate many a lively discussion.

    Have fun with it :).

    ADDED: It strikes me that I haven't really distinguished between PvP abnd PvE. Personally, I think that the relatively weak Judgement damage of SoC continues to push SoR as the superior skill. Breaking CC certainly doesn't help either.

    BRB, Vomiting IRL.


    I hate Brewfest. Really, seriously hate it.

    It's not the endless grind for Brewfest Tokens which makes me think that trying to get the Violet Protodrake is a futile exercise.

    It's not missing out on a Brewfest Mount or Direbrew Remote in every single roll, no matter how many times I run that git Coren.

    It's not even listening to those Goblins sing every time I step just outside Orgrimmar. Actually, that's kinda catchy.

    No, it's that god damn fucking awful in game drunk effect. What were those bastards thinki-

    ..

    thinking? "Oh, you want to do the 'fight off the Dark Iron' daily? Sure, but first we need to stick a blur effect filter over the whole of the screen so you can't see a damn thing, and then put a pulsing pincushion distortion effect over the whole damn scene. And if that wasn't bad enough, you won't be able to walk in a straight line, adding to the wonderful sense of up-chuck inducing nausea."

    Oh, but I'm cunning. I'll turn off the blur filter so all I have to deal with is that damn pulsing. But that just lulls you into a false sense of sec-

    ..

    security, whilst I can see clearly the screen continues to pulse in my periphery and walking still isn't straight. Cue 'I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fi- PASS THE FUCKING BUCKET!!'.

    And then, you can't get rid of the effect quickly once you finish the daily. It's beyond them to put something clever in like making coffee dispel the effect. So I have to wait for ten bleeding minutes for the smashed/drunk/tipsy effect to wear off before I can do anything else, preferably >50ft away from the PC monitor.

    This achievement grind can't end soon enough. Halloween is up next, which can't be that ba-

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    No Pink Elekk Quest in EU Realms.

    Ah, that explains things. A sharp-eyed player on the EU forums was wondering why the Pink Elekks on Parade and Wolpertinger quests, specifically stated by Kisirani to be back in this year, weren't available. One member stated that they were specifically bugged in the EU, and Wyxian replied:

    This is unfortunately not correct. The Pink Elekk and Wolpertinger quests are deliberately not available in Europe. Though we would like to have them available here too, this isn't possible I'm afraid.

    (Source)


    No doubt due to the objections of a particular state within the EU. So, quite apart from anything else EU players are down 40 Tokens (the usual reward for the Pink Elekks quest). I'm guessing that PEoP isn't a daily otherwise it equate to 40 tokens per day.

    So, that should explain the disparities on US and EU Token totals.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    Grind Every Day for the Brewfest Achievement?

    You need 550 Brewfest Tokens to complete the achievement, i.e. 200 for entry into the Brew of the Month and 350 for the three pieces of dress.

    Day One, you can comfortably gain 85 Tokens.

    Every day thereafter you can gain 25 tokens from the two dailies around the Brewfest camp.

    At odd intervals (but at least once every day) you can do the Brewfest Keg Delivery for 2 tokens every turn-in. 7-8 Turn-ins are comfortably attainable, 11-12 is probably the Horde maximum (Alliance may be able to squeeze out a couple more due to a shorter path). Assume an additional 15 tokens per day on average.

    Brewfest is 14 days long.

    Approx. number of days required after the first = (550-85)/40 = 12 Days.

    So, miss 3 days and you'll have great difficulty completing the achievement. Am I missing something?

    (This is presupposing that the Costume Purchase refund is fixed, otherwise you only need 350 tokens.)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    About that Pandaren Monk Mini-pet.

    Updated 04/11/09

    Looks like I was wrong. ;)

    --

    You must have seen the Pandaren Brewmaster Mini-pet by now. The model has been datamined in 3.2.2 and looks awesome. Don't take my word for it though:



    So, where will you see this? Well, it won't be for the 5th Anniversary, we're getting the super-cute Onyxia Whelpling to commemorate that date. It's unlikely to be for the Brewfest either, the holiday is awash with pets, mounts and a title already. Plus the first load of Violet Protodrakes are due. But still, a Coren Direbrew uber-rare drop (al la the Scorchling) is not beyond the realms of possibility. However, I think there's a better bet.

    The World of Warcraft Magazine.

    Blizzard are very good at incentivising real world purchases with in-game rewards. Just look at the TCG, you can be sure that if the Brewmaster was a TCG reward Upper Deck would be proclaiming it from the tallest tower. The only upcoming event as yet not accounted for is the release of the first issue of WoW-The Magazine, also due some time around WoW's 5th anniversary, and the enthusiasm for it has been muted to say the least. This would be one way to get the manic collectors salivating.

    So, a cool mini-pet for the $39.95 1 year subscription. Tempted?

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Want a DPS Relic? Don't Have the Tokens to Spare? Use Honour!

    Obviously, the best raiding Ret Libram is the sexy, wonderful and fantastic Libram of Valiance. Everyone loves an effective 200 passive Strength from the Relic slot but it comes at a price: 25 Emblems of Triumph.

    For those not yet well advanced in TotC-10/25 and regularly smacking up Koralon EoT's are hard to come by and worth their weight in gold. If you're not DPS as your main spec you should rightly baulk at the price, at least until there is no more main-spec gear for you to buy. So, what Libram should you go for?

    Not This One.


    Well, the best choice was previously the Libram of Radiance, but 25 EoV's = 25 EoC's and so it comes at a very high cost. Don't rely on getting lucky with this as a drop, the drop rate is atrocious. And anyway, there is a better option.

    Season 7 just started, and there's been a new development: PvP Relics's are now available for Honour! I've mentioned before that the PvP Libram's are great for PvE but previously they've required an Arena Rating and Arena Points to gain. In a PvP Season transition the old second highest tier (now 3rd highest) is usually made available with Honour, but that hasn't included Weapons (much to my chagrin) or Relics. The same is true this year, with one exception: Deadly Relics can now be bought with Honour Points and no Rating requirement!



    WoWHead is still (wrongly) listing these items as requiring an Arena Rating of 700 and some Arena Points. However, all Deadly Relics can be bought from Zom Bocom, the Apprentice Arena Vendor in the Dalaran Underbelly, for the low-low price of 15300 Honour Points. Okay, it's still something of a grind, but well worth it for Relic using DPS Off-specs and maybe a few Healer specs too (the DG Holy Libram for example gives 334 additional Spellpower to your FoL for example).

    The Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude is worth 120 Passive AP. It's not a patch on the Libram of Valiance, but definitely the next best for players with no access to the Arena.

    Thanks go to new WoW-Blogger Ayrlyn and her blog 'The Light, and How The Swing It'.

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    Yay, 3.2.2 Bug Fixes!

    The Test Realm Patch notes have been updated to include a couple of crucial bug fixes for Paladins.

  • Seal of Corruption and Seal of Vengeance: These seals will now only use the debuff stacks generated by the attacking paladin to determine the damage done by the seal and by the judgement.

  • Seal of Vengeance is currently quite a bit buggy. Individual debuff stacks are accumulated for each SoV user, but size of the damaging proc isn't determined properly. When there is only 1 stack on the target the damage of the weapon proc is scaled by the size of this stack, which can cause some rather interesting effects with Divine Storm when you have a Prot and Ret Paladin in the same raid. Great huh?

    Well, not so great. You see, the flip side to this bug is that when there are two or more debuff stacks on a particular mob the size of the proc is determined by the smallest stack size. This isn't so bad for the Ret Paladin as long as he is the only Ret Paladin in the raid as he's always the slowest at accumulating stacks anyway, but it can serve to throttle the threat generation of any Tankadins in the raid.

    So, rejoice! A useful bug fix. But wait, there's more!

  • Paladin Tier-9 DPS 2-Piece Set Bonus: Now grants the correct chance for Righteous Vengeance ticks to be critical strikes.

  • Not many people have two pieces of Tier 9 as yet, but those cool dudes at Elitist Jerks discovered that the 2-Piece Tier 9 wasn't working properly. Here's that bonus:

    2: Your Righteous Vengeance talent now has a chance for its' damage to be critical strikes.


    After a number of exhaustive tests on target dummies and raids it was determined that the current chance for your RV dot to crit is 3-4% with this bonus. Clearly, this is blinking low, and makes 4* Tier 8.5 a little better than 2*ilvl 232 Tier 9. It's presumed that the 'correct' crit rate is your melee crit rate, which should be upwards of 40% raid-buffed. Even if, for some idiotic reason, spell crit rate was used the crit rate for the DoT would only be ~5% less. With a crit rate in this ballpark Tier 9 2-piece is a must have.

    This may also impact on the optimum FCFS rotation. Currently Crusader Strike takes priority over Judgement, especially if you have the Tier 8 four-piece bonus. The two abilities have always been nip and tuck though especially in the age of Tier 7, and as gear level increases so Judgement has closed the gap. Because Tier 9's set bonii tends to benefit Judgement more than CS, prioritising the former over the latter may result in a higher DPS. This is especially the case in encounters which involve a lot of target switching.

    Eeek, I may have to update that chart soon.

    Two Piece Tier 9 also increases the relative value of Crit Rating. You won't be stacking it in favour of Str, Hit or Expertise, but you may want to consider a +10 Str/+10 Crit orange gem if it grants you a socket bonus of more than +4 Strength.

    --

    There is one slight disappointment, but it still counts as a bug-fix (or exploit fix) I guess.

  • Libram of Obstruction: The buff to block value from this relic is now exclusive with the buff to block value from Libram of the Sacred Shield; it is impossible to have both buffs at once.
  • Libram of the Sacred Shield: The block value buff from this relic has been increased to match its item level.
  • Relics: All buffs provided by relics (idols, librams, totems and sigils) now share an exclusive category such that gaining a buff from one of these items will remove all other buffs gained from items in this category.

  • No more hot-swapping Librams for damage or mitigation any more, not that it was ever a huge issue on the damage front because it also reset your swing timer and activated a GCD.

    ---

    No-one knows when 3.2.2 is due. The more cynical amongst us may be of the opinion that they're using it to bridge the gap to Icecrown Citadel (otherwise known as 3.3), and a delay in the Dev cycle for 3.3 will tempt Blizz into releasing 3.2.2 later. On the other hand, this is the first major patch since 3.2 and so warrants sorting out all the bugs and exploits that patch created as well as the additional content. Whatever the reason may be we shouldn't expect 3.2.2 next week, and it may well be October before it hits live.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    The Insidious Nature of Dual-Specs.

    Am I the only one spending more time on my secondary, rather than primary spec?

    Jana was, is and continues to be my main. I've gathered gear in the stated desire to Raid as Ret, but I haven't been able to Raid as often as I'd like and probably not stamped my identity as a DPSer on the Guild. But of course I still want to Raid, and acquire gear which will improve my raid performance (even though we're nothing like a front-line hardcore guild). How do you get gear outside of Raids? You guess it, Heroic and their associated Emblems. But DPS are a dime a dozen in our guild like many others, so what do I do?

    Yep, I volunteer to tank.

    "What could it hurt?", I rather naively said to myself. "I'm still Ret, and this Secondary PvP spec isn't exactly seeing much use." I had bought the Dual Talent ability with a spare 1k gold I had lying around but hadn't gained a huge amount of use from it. Also like many others I abstained from PvP until Druids were banned for being unkillable. Healing was out of the question, not only because I hate healing on my Paladin but also because I ritually destroy all healing gear I come across.

    (by 'ritually destroy' I of course mean 'sell to the nearest Goblin'. Sure, I hate the very idea of Paladin healing, but I have to fund my desire for whelplings somehow!)

    It started innocently enough - a quick Violet Hold run. No drama, no deaths, all good. Utgarde Keep was next, and predictably it was a walk-over. Heroic after Heroic followed, and pretty soon I was tanking more than I was DPSing. I even volunteered to off-tank an alt and emblem run in Naxx-10. Suggestions from well-meaning guildmates to make tanking my main spec didn't help my state of mind and annoyance. The one saving grace, and the reason why I'm not tanking in Raids that I do attend, is that tank gear requirements are relatively high and that you don't need to take 5 tanks to a 25-man.

    Other Paladin guildies who run as Primary - Prot, Secondary - Holy are being pushed into the Healing role because of a relative lack of Healers on at odd times. They're treating it with good-natured joviality but I feel guilty every time I ask one of these guys to heal as I tank a Heroic.



    Dual Talent Specs are a frustrating feature for hybrids. On the one hand, it gives the purchaser a huge amount of added flexibility and convenience, but on the other you can very easily be pressured into a role not to your preference. So it is with me. Be very careful when buying the ability and make sure that the secondary spec is one that you can live with, you may be using it more often than you'd like.

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Holy Wrath Blah Blah Hotfix, Blah Anub'arak Blah.

    Yep, we have a new Hotfix. Via Daelo, Blizzard Dev:

    We just deployed a hotfix to modify Holy Wrath so this spell has the same diminishing return mechanics that other player stun spells and abilities currently have. This will prevent Undead creatures that we wish to be susceptible to stun from being permanently stunned if you include enough Paladins in your raid who then rotate their Holy Wrath casts.

    This will affect the difficulty of Anub'arak, but we didn't want the "right way" to defeat this fight to involve bringing five Paladins who glyphed their Holy Wrath spell.


    (Source)


    I'm not exactly sure how Holy Wrath's stun diminishing returns were overlooked for this particular fight, the new Glyph and nature of this encounter seemed tailor made for each other. Using Holy Wrath rotations to deal with otherwise near untankable adds is innovative and a different role from those Paladins are used to (especially Holy Paladins). The method also changes up rotations significantly, no bad thing for bored Rets. But hey, if it trivialises content or makes stacking a particular class necessary I guess a hotfix was required.

    Anyway, the upshot of the hotfix is that the Glyph of Holy Wrath is no longer useful due to these diminishing returns, the DPS increase of choosing it specifically over another Glyph option probably isn't that high given GCD conflicts. In fact, other AoE stuns such as Shockwave and Shadowfury should now see greater use in this particular encounter, making Holy Wrath of limited use yet again except for the damage.


    Was Paragon's four Paladin World First really trivialising it?


    No small number of guilds are going to have to re-think their Anub'arak strategy, and it puts something of a pall over the two 'World Firsts' if they 'abused' Holy Wrath in this way, this screenshot indicates that Paragon used Holy Wrath extensively. Perhaps the real rush to the final World First in Heroic Mode can now start.

    As an aside, the number and frequency of Paladin hotfix nerfs really serve to justify the opinion that some of the encounter Devs don't have much of a clue of Paladin abilities. That doesn't exactly fill me with optimism given the current development of a new expansion.

    Saturday, September 05, 2009

    About That Armour Pen Nerf...

    Direct from the mouth of Ghostcrawler:



    The nerf to armor pen in 3.2.2 is intentional. Compared to the recent buff where we increased the value of armor rating to 125%, this nerf would take it back down to 110%. While we are still evaluating the effects of this change in the 3.2.2 build, we did want to let you know of the possibility in case you were about to spend a lot on armor pen gems.

    In fact, this was really the point. Several melee specs (and Marksman hunters) had begun to focus on armor pen at the expense of all other stats. Gear without armor pen was being passed over and gem sockets were increasingly being filled with just this one stat. While every spec has stats that are more valuable than others, this one felt like it was starting to trump everything. Not coincidentally, characters stacking lots of armor pen were starting to do more damage than their peers and more damage than we were comfortable with.

    This change is largely for PvE reasons, though we won't cry at all if melee damage in PvP drops a little as a result.

    We're letting you know now so that this doesn't feel like a stealth nerf, assuming it goes live. While you might disagree or be frustrated by the change (though I also suspect it won't come as a surprise to many players), we ask that you try and keep your response to something appropriate for these forums.


    Great. Cool. Fantastic. This sort of stat stacking was always a risk given that the more you stacked APen the better the return was, coupled with some classes/specs still inflicting the majority of their damage as Physical. However, Armour Pen, previously tied for last place in Ret Melee stat priority at Tier8 gear levels (approaching the value of Crit Rating when you have oodles of it) is now back to being dead last. That makes thing very simple for us: generally avoid Armour Pen items unless they are an upgrade to the next gear Tier.

    Just one thing though...

    For Pete's Sake can you please stop putting it on all sorts of essential upgrades in Tier 8 and 9, upgrades that Blood/Unholy/Frost DK's, Warriors and Ret Paladins use. Stick it on Warrior and DK Tier sets, Blacksmithing crafted items, all that stuff. But stop using it on those shared items when for some (Warrior, Blood DK) it's a quality stat and others' it's dross.

    This goes double for Weapons.

    And triple for Ret Tier 9. Seriously, what idiot chose to stick Armour Penetration on our Tier 9 chest? Yes, it's still Best In Slot, but only Spellpower would make the use of item budget on this item more nonsensical for the spec.



    And don't get any ideas from that for Tier 10.

    Thank god this stupid stat is gone from items in Cataclysm.

    /rant

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    Koralon The Loot Piñata

    So, Season 7 has just started on Live Realms and with that we get obligatory New PvE Content in the form of the third Vault of Archavon boss, Koralon the Flame Watcher.

    Now, I hope I won't be insulting anyone when I say... my word this guy's easy to kill. I mean, seriously easy. Order of Sarth 1D easy.

    The encounter is essentially a gear check. There is some of the usual 'Don't Stand in the Fire' environmental effects and tank positioning is pretty key so melee can spot the fire, but apart from that it's a DPS race. Koralon has a stacking buff which increases his damage by 5% that he casts every 20 secs or there abouts, and obviously he'll eventually one-shot the tanks. The better geared your two tanks are the more time your DPS will have to take him down, but you definitely want decent DPS. No-one with the De-Raged Waraxe need apply.

    Healers will have to be on their toes, and you may want err on the side of bringing along one too many rather than one too few. Three healers will probably be the norm in the 10-man version, 2-healer setups will be tough to pull off because of all the raid damage flying around. Obviously, Fire Resist Aura or Totem will greatly improve your chances as it mitigates a big hefty wodge of that fire damage.

    As usual, Bloodlust is a premium ability, especially in the 10-man version.

    Koralon will drop Tier 9 in 10-man versions and 9.5 in 25-man versions. I suppose that Relentless Gladiator gear will only drop in the latter and Furious (thanks for the correction chronic) will drop from the former.

    Mad props to those guilds able to achieve Earth, Wind and Fire. Killing all three within one minute is awesome, probably another one of those 'impossible' achievements that we all hear so much about.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Time to Retire Tirion Fordring?

    Let's be honest here, there are few more prominant mortal characters in Warcraft right now than Tirion Fordring. He's gone from a retired former Paladin who lost his family and watched as his son was corrupted and killed to the dude who's risen above the strife between the races and is taking the fight to Arthas. He's honourable, impartial and even-handed to a fault. Over the course of the Expansion he's brought diverse races and classes into the ranks of the Argent Crusade and succeeded in quelling much of the antagonism between the major factions. It's likely were it not for Garrosh Hellscream, Fordring would be able to forge a cease-fire between Thrall and Varian Wrynn. He also currently wields the Ashbringer, a more badass weapon you're not likely to see, and urged the acceptance of Deathknights into the fold of the Alliance and Horde.

    Fordring has become a rallying standard when the Horde and Alliance have a common enemy, and as such will continue to be an obstacle when the game seeks to foster conflict between the races as seen in Cataclysm. He would also be the first target for any enemy seeking greater dominance over Azeroth. The character is starting to play a more central role in end-game lore than any of the major faction leaders. In short, this guy has to go.

    One Last Hurrah for Arthas?

    With all that's happened over the past few (in-game) months the power and evil of the Lich King is getting lost in the shuffle. We know that he destroy our souls with one spell but even now he's too timid in reacting to our encroachments into Icecrown. He should be planning something special to negate the advantages Tirion brings to the Crusade. And the figure of the Lich King is powerful enough to warrant taking out some big names as we bring him down. Fordring, as a neutral, well-loved and big name character, is a prime candidate.

    There are of course more than a few ways in which Arthas may blunt the effectiveness of Fordring. Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head.

  • Poison his steed, Mirador.
  • Defile the tomb of Uther Lightbringer.
  • Systematically turn a large number of his Crusade. He may be able to take them being killed, but corruption from within would tear the Crusade apart. Bartholemew, Tyrosus and the Crusaders at the Tourney are contenders.
  • Reveal his estranged wife Karandra as a member of the Cult of the Damned.
  • Raise his son Taelen as an Ghoul or even a Deathknight to lead the Undead vangard against the Argent Crusade.


  • Without a doubt, Arthas will be dispatched in 3.3 either through elimination or redemption. It also appears that he has put plans in motion to counter the Alliance and Horde specifically by the enforced turning of two of their champions. Surely, after going to so much trouble to draw out Fordring for battle he will target the main man again.

    Presupposing an encounter between Arthas and Tirion the Ashbringer and Frostmourne saga's should be concluded. In so doing the backstory detailing the origin of both Runeblades should finally be fully revealed, explaining if the Ashbringer was indeed forged from the spark of a Naaru and who crafted Frostmourne. Perhaps the confrontation between these two opposing elements would cause them both to be destroyed. It might even have been a plan of the Naaru; we know that they are adept at seeing the bigger picture and planning ahead.

    The Aftermath - Disbanding the Argent Crusade, Inspiring New Paladins

    With the death of Fordring and the supposed end of the Lich King's Undead threat the disparate groups which make up the Argent Crusade should slowly drift apart. Recall that the Crusade was conceived as a union of the Argent Dawn and the Order of the Silver Hand, the latter of which is an Alliance group that has set aside the issues around working with the Horde to combat a common foe. The Argent Dawn may well continue as a neutral faction in the future, but greatly diminished in power and influence.

    The memory of Fordring would serve as an inspiration for new Paladins that transcended boundaries of race, especially if supported by the major moderate figures of the Horde such as Thrall and Saurfang. If handled correctly this could inspire the Tauren to feel comfortable embracing the Light, just as they embrace nature now.

    Blood Knights and the Order of the Silver Hand could feature as two new major PvP factions in the Cataclysm world, both seeking to discover the origins of Light in the Titan Parthenon. Alternatively, the Order could be a neutral class faction similar to the Ebon Blade or Cenarion Circle, but I think divorcing it that far from the Alliance would be a mistake.

    Other Lore Potential: Garrosh, Daval Prestor and the Old Gods (Spoilers!)

    How has Garrosh changed from a whiny crybaby to the Warchief-in-Waiting? We could perhaps justify it in a retcon (otherwise known as OMG Comic!), but perhaps simply using the available tools would get the job done. Recall that what may appear to be a series of unconnected threats is essentially the fight for dominance of two overarching forces: the Titan Pantheon and Old Gods.


    As seen at Blizzcon, Horde fortifications are being reinforced with a curious black iron which should seem familiar: it's Saronite. There's only one source of the dangerous ore in the world and the mining of it leads to inevitable madness with prolonged exposure because of the whisperings of the Old Gods. Surely only a fool would expose themselves and others to their influence, and not even Garrosh would support such an action? However, perhaps Garrosh came into contact with Saronite very early and the Old Gods, sensing a weak and malleable mind, chose to corrupt him. This would certainly account for his fast change of outlook, aggression, and erratic temperament.

    The Dragon Aspect Deathwing will return in Cataclysm, and may reappear as Lord Daval Prestor. It was never made clear if his cover had been blown or if only Rhonin and Krasus know his true identity, but he was once an ally of the leader of Gilneas, Genn Greymane. Prestor may once again wield power and influence amongst the Alliance, continuing the plans of the Old Gods on Azeroth by sowing the seeds of conflict between the Alliance and Horde. The unmasking of Lord Prestor could in fact be a major event in WoW before the Deathwing raid instances are released, recapturing the epic feel of a similar quest now removed.


    With 3.3 likely due some time before the new year a protracted release date for Cataclysm seems unlikely. As Dylan once said, 'Time's, they are a'changing', and 4.0 will see the biggest upheaval in the games' history. I just hope that the lore surrounding the events is as compelling as it needs to be, and isn't all farmed out to the Comic Series.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Failures In Phasing.

    'Phasing Tech' was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King and allows players to observe changes in the world around them as they complete quest objectives. The system has increased the sense of immersion, letting everyone feel that their efforts in Azeroth are having a lasting impact on the game world. Currently only doodads, npc's and players are capable of 'phasing', but one of the features discussed in the Cataclysm preview panel was the concept of terrain phasing.

    Early attempts at phasing weren't as successful as had been hoped.

    Perhaps the best current example of the use of the use of phasing is the Deathknight starter area, where it is used extensively to show the taking of the area around Acheus from the Scarlet Crusade as a series of quests. Presumably terrain phasing would be used to show the environmental and geographic impact of the re-emergence of Deathwing into the physical plane.

    The 1-60 levelling experience and zones is set to be re-vamped, and phasing will no doublt be a big feature of the redesign given its' success in Wrath. Unfortunately this brings with it a couple of headaches: questing as a group and completing the most challenging quests where players are in different states of phase.

    Phased Group Questing

    If you've tried to do the 'Riders of Blood/Frost/Holy' phased quest chain in Icecrown you'll know that finding someone at the your place in the quest chain can be exceedingly difficult. If they're not at the correct phase not only can they not see the quest objectives, they also cannot even see other party members. In an ideal world you'd boost them to the correct point in the quest chain but because of phasing you can't help them out with the pre-reqs to hasten the process or overcome a difficult objective. By the same token players who have fully completed the quest chain cannot help you at any stage in the process. There's also an impact on levelling groups, due to the risk of being locked out of group activities if you did a bit of solo-questing when they were busy.

    Phasing large portions of the new Azerothian terrain implies that even larger areas of the world map will have multiple phases within which the interaction of players would be difficult. In theory releasing new lvl1-60 content should make the old world seem bustling and busy, but in reality heavy phasing could make it seem like a ghost world and prevent effective grouping.

    The End of the Sprawling Quest Chain

    Veteran players will perhaps recall how levelling in the Barrens or Darkshore zones tended to feature more travelling time than actual time completing the quest objectives. Lower Exp/Level and mounts at level 20 have served to ameliorate the problem but levelling in these two areas remain an annoyance compared to Wrath zones. Well, all is not lost, Blizzard stated that the lvl1-60 levelling experience won't feature nearly as much travelling time. This may or may not have an altruistic motive, but it is a direct consequence of terrain phasing.

    If you want to have quests a long way from your central hub you need to make allowances not only for the objectives' phase state, but also the phase state of the NPC's around the area and now the terrain as well, which is much harder to compensate for. For example, we know that in Cataclysm a shoreline (presumed to be in Darkshore) will be eroded over the course of a phased quest chain, and this prevents any objectives from being present in the eroded coastline unless intimately linked with the chain that phases the terrain. Currently the occurances of this sort of conflict are rare, I can only think of The Hunter and the Prince when Battle Before the Citadel is in your quest log, but the conflict is set to become commonplace.

    Inherently, phasing makes multi-zone quest chains harder to design, which is great for levelling but not so much for epic end-game quest chains sprawling across the game world.

    The Solutions

    There are a few ways to approach the dealing witht he problem. The easiest by far is the status quo: a great deal of the quest chains are solo content with the harder objectives consigned to instances (which can then be grouped as usual) or not not be phased at all. This means that although out-of-instance groups can be difficult to form the completion of tougher objectives can be done with the aid of an instance group, but it should probably be veered away from if you want to encourage the levelling of alts. Sons of Hodir and the pre-'Rider' Shadow Vault quest lines are a good example of this.

    The second, and perhaps more difficult to implement, would be a 'Join Phase' option in a party. In principle a player could be allowed to aid members of a group in a different phase of a quest chain, and the only way to do this would be to temporarily duplicate their phase information. Once the selected player has 'caught up' to a party member that member would then to continue to progress along the quest chain as normal. Obviously this is not a trivial change, but is quite handy because not only is it useful for completing those tough elite world quests, it also makes grouping up socially for a zone to work through some quests collaboratively a cinch. Small levelling groups wouldn't have to worry too much about a member having completed the odd quest or zone on their own and being locked out of participation in the group for long periods of time.

    There is the 'Starship Pegasus' risk upon changing terrain phase states, but this could be avoided by the use of safe locations for phase changes (non-phasing towns or any zone terrain which stays unchanged).

    Summary - Cool has it's Consequences

    I really like the phase style of quests seen in Wrath. It's a great addition to the game and finally makes it feel like your having an impact in the game world without that world having to be instanced. The risk of a world that appears dead even with hundreds of players in the zone will always be the danger of phasing, perhaps leading to the realisation that the tech should be used sparingly and more intelligently than it currently is. However the quests are designed, the ability for party members to link their phase state info should be included if you want to encourage 1-60 levelling.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    My Life Is Now Complete

    Just watching the Blizzcon dance contest. Saw a fat dude Riverdance. Awesome, even better than the guy doing MC Hammer in a shell suit.

    Jay Mohr, who's been hitting the pies, is on fire...

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Sinister.



    I feed this Venomhide Raptor Hatchling every morning, and supposedly she's trying to decide if i'm her mother. I just know that if she decides the wrong way she'll bite my face off whilst I sleep.

    And why won't Mor'vek answer my damn questions about matricide in Venomhide society? That bastard Troll just grins whenever I ask. And where did he get that Tauren horn from?

    Light! She's staring at me again!

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