Friday, July 31, 2009

Seal Switching To AoE In 3.2; Seal of Command's Limited Range.

A lot of the debate in the past week or so has centered around Seal of Vengeance's single-target damage, and rightly so. Because of the controversy another component of damage in a raid context has gone largely overlooked: AoE damage. Seal of Vengeance is obviously unsuited to applying AoE damage, and with that in mind this post looks at the other options available.

The Old - Seal of Blood.

The staple Ret Seal of 3.1, SoB's proc of 48% weapon damage on all weapon swings leads to very significant front-loaded damage in multi-target situations. Divine Storm itself is effectively a Whirlwind which proc's SoB, and Consecration is usually ticking even in single-target encounters. Aggro could sometimes be an issue, but when the risks involved in stealing aggro from the tank are minimal SoB allowed considerable burst AoE without necessarily interrupting a DPS cycle on the main target.

3.1 will probably be looked back upon as the golden age of Ret DPS... farewell Seal of Blood, you will be missed.

The New...ish - Seal of Vengeance

Seal of Vengeance largely replaces SoB in 3.2, but is only suited to single-target DPS situations due to the difficulty of stacking Holy Vengeance on secondary targets. Tab-targetting may allow you to spread the Holy Vengeance debuff around a little, perhaps to as many as 3 targets reliably under optimum conditions and with no avoided swings. Unfortunately, an encounter with up to 3 targets all in melee range that last long enough to make it worthwhile is an exceedingly rare beast. Spreading the debuff to 2 targets will be the likely limit of SoV functionality, and enough of a juggling exercise for most players.

The Alternative - Switching Your Seal

Rather than go through the rigmarole of tab-targetting there is another option: switching your Seal. Both SoCommand and SoRighteousness allow a damage proc from Divine Storm, but as a consequence lower damage will be inflicted upon the main target. Using Command or Righteousness is not something you want to be doing all the time, but when you absolutely positively have to do as much AoE damage as possible they are valid options.

SoR has a much smoother distribution of damage as proc damage doesn't vary and cannot crit. This can be of great benefit in situations where drawing aggro is a worry. On the other hand the size of the damage proc is almost always inferior to that of Command, especially when considering that Command procs may crit. If aggro isn't a problem, either because you're comfortable with the damage 4 adds beating on you may cause or very happy with your tank's ability to hold threat (yay Pally and DK Tanks!), SoC represents significantly higher multi-target DPS.

But, there's a catch with Seal of Command: You need to be in melee range, i.e. within 5 yards, for the attack hitting the target to proc it.

Seal of Righteousness -
Proc at Range

Seal of Command -
No Proc at Range

You may be thinking that this isn't a problem, but Judgment and Divine Storm have a range of 10 and 8 yards respectively and you may miss a surprising number of procing opportunities. Seal of Righteousness and Vengeance proc's don't suffer from this problem thankfully.

The maximum range of Commands proc issue may well rear its' ugly head again in any PvP discussions given the otherwise weak nature of Judgment damage.

The Cost

Mana. - Casting a Seal spell still costs 14% of base mana, and if you want to adapt to encounter phases you'll be doing it multiple times in a battle. Even the most frugal Ret Paladin will soon see this eat into their mana pool, especially in 10-man raids where mana buffs are thin on the ground. Throw a little Holy Wrath into the mix and you'll be reaching for the mana potion injector more often than House pops a Vicodin. And with less panache.

Somewhat mitigating this is the new Glyph of Seal of Command, which restores 8% of base mana on Judgement. The opportunity cost of this Glyph is high as it replaces one of your three Major's, probably GoJudgment.

Incidentally, '75% Mana Cost Reduction For All Damaging Seals' would make a great idea for a Minor Glyph.

Talent Points. - By choosing to take SoC you by necessity spend a talent point that could be spent on utility such as Vindication, which incidentally works great in AoE situations as it procs from Divine Storm. If you have taken neither Divine Sacrifice nor Imp. LoH the trade-off is trivial, but with either of these powerful cooldowns some hard decisions need to be made.

Main Target Damage - Taking either option will greatly reduce DPS on your main target, if one exists. If DPS on a single, static target is essential then Seal swapping is unnecessay - rely on your raid members with greater AoE capability to do the job and stay in the role that you do best: single target AoE.


Seal Switching will only be an option in a few boss fights, but could have a significant impact if certain variables are in place. Your default position on any given encounter should always be one of running Seal of Vengeance but stay mindful of these tools in your arsenal. Given that Seal of Command requires a talent point invested and has limited range Righteousness is the Seal that I would favour. Your mileage may vary.

If you're fighting trash, go crazy ;).

As a more general point, the idea of Seal switching presents a good opportunity for Blizzard to tailor Seals to different encounter types and introduce another test of skill to differentiate relatively good Ret Paladins from bad ones. That said, it requires quite a lot of development time invested into finding and balancing a niche for each of the damaging Seals. At the very least, Command and Righteousness need to be more distinct than they are.

EDITING NOTE: Seal of Corruption is the Horde version of Seal of Vengeance, and it procs the Blood Corruption debuff. In all ways the two Seals are functionally identical.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

PTR SoV Update.


Seal of Vengeance (SoV): The Seal in question.
Holy Vengeance (HV): The debuff left by Auto-attack hits/crits whilst SoV is active. This debuff causes periodic damage to the target.
SoV Proc: The direct damage proc from Seal of Vengeance. The damage of this proc depends on the number of copies of HV on the target, up-to 33% of weapon damage for 5 copies of the debuff.


A new build on the PTR has slightly improved the damage output of SoV during the ramping-up stage. In previous builds, the SoV Proc only occurred when 5 copies of Holy Vengeance were up on the target. Now, Seal Proc damage scales with the number of copies of the debuff on the target:

Holy Vengeance Stack SizeSoV Proc Damage (% Weapon Damage)
0No Proc

The Holy Vengeance debuff is still only applied via auto-attacks and HotR.

CS, DS and Judgement, aswell as Auto-attacks and Hammer of the Righteous, can all trigger the SoV Proc.

For the record, I still think it's a bloody stupid system, but it's now marginally less stupid. At the very least, Seal switching when DPSing a single target is totally unnecessary if the target lasts >6 seconds.


Oh, here's an interesting thread on the official forums discussing the SoV debuff change. I hope the discussion is detailed and productive.


Nice, Ghostcrawlers responded.

Oh dear...


oh dear...


oh deary, deary me...


Monday, July 27, 2009

PTR Patch Notes Updated: More SoV/SoCor Nerf Info

New Seal of Vengeance news. I noted on Friday that the implementation of SoV had changed significantly on the PTR, i.e. that the Seal no longer interacted with Crusader Strike, Divine Storm or Judgement. This afternoon the 3.2.0 Patch notes have been updated, and the following line has been included:



Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption: These seals have been redesigned to deal substantially more damage. Now, once a paladin has 5 copies of the debuff from these seals on his or her target, on each swing the paladin will deal 33% weapon damage as Holy, with critical strikes dealing double damage. In addition, the damage-over-time effect is now considered a melee attack instead of a spell attack and the effects from these seals can only be triggered by auto-attacks and Hammer of the Righteous.

However, Ghostcrawler clarified Blizzard's stance:

Only white attacks can stack the Sea of Vengeance / Corruption dot. However special abilities should still trigger the bonus weapon damage. I'm not sure the current PTR build you have reflects that last bit.

The goal was not to nerf Ret for PvE. We do want the ramp up time to be significant for PvE or it won't solve the PvP problem we're trying to fix. However, once you get the stack up, your damage should be pretty decent. On very short kills (say trash or something like Thorim arena) you won't be able to get the full benefit from the dot, but any class with a finishing move typically loses that damage as well. Balance is important for both short and long fights, but it's normal to use different rotations or abilities for those two extremes. (In other words, we're okay with a long ramp up time for this ability.)

We will continue to monitor Ret numbers coming out of the PTR and even once the patch goes live and make changes if necessary.

Stacking the SoV Debuff 5 times to enable the 33% damage proc will take 10 secs with a 2-h weapon hasted to 2.5 speed, making SoV much less suitable in environments where you are changing your target often or have >15secs of DPS down-time or time off target. SoV will also be of no benefit in situations requiring high AoE damage, necessitating the use of Seal of Righteousness (which with 5/5 SotP is slightly better than SoCommand). In other words the change sucks for Freya-like encounters*.

Given that target switching and AoE damage requirements are a fact of life one answer could be to allow Seal switching at a much lower mana cost, 'no change in rotation' applies because only auto-attacks can proc the DoT. Knocking down the cost of SoR/C and SoV to <5% of base mana would make Ret much more competitive during AoE burn phases and slightly raise the skill level of playing a Ret Paladin, without murdering mana reserves.

SoV and Command/Righteousness are now sufficiently different for either to be useful to a PvE Paladin, and SoV is no longer a no-brainer in PvP. Command could still do with some love, especially given the low Judgement damage, in order for it to be clearly worth the talent point investment rather than 'making do' with the comparable 5/5 SotP SoRighteousness. As things stand, I'd still use Righteousness in PvE, and probably take SoC in PvP only (spending the 4 TPs saved on Prot PvP utility talents such as Imp HoJ).

All in all, the mood has been downgraded from 'panic' to 'simmering discontent'.


This was going to be a big fat whine, before I saw GC's post. Phew, glad I didn't make a fool of myself ;).


* Honor's reminded me that when I said 'Freya-like encounters' I really should have said 'Ulduar-style encounters'. In T8 raids (including Emalon) target switching, heavy burn phases and extended periods of time-off-target are the rule, rather than the exception. Experienced Ulduar hard-mode raiders in the EJ forum are extremely concerned with the enforced DPS downtime, describing it as much more punishing than even Rogue and Druid target switching mechanics. It's possible to shave off some time by switching to a fast one-hander and prioritizing other skills, but a meaningful DPS increase from this method is unlikely.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but as things stand most Ret Paladins won't view the elimination of SoB and new variants of SoV and SoC as any sort of DPS buff except in obsolete Thaddius/Patchwerk style encounters. Look at, for example, the abilities of the Twin Valkyr, where target switching is an essential mechanic of the encounter. SoV is a positive liability in such fights.

If SoV looks like a liability in the long run, especially T8/9 raids, Blizzard will probably alter the mechanic. It appears that Balancing PvP and PvE is even more problematic with this Seal than the old Seal of Blood, and looks like gutting the ability in PvE as things stand.

Horray for PvP nerfing PvE, eh?

Paper Over the Cracks: Glyph Choices for Ret In 3.2.

With 3.2 due out in early August and some stability in class mechanics over the last few builds it's time to start nailing down the impact of 3.2 on gear and playstyle. This is the second part of a 3.2 Retribution Paladin Primer.

Major Glyph Mainstays - The New Seal of Vengeance Glyph

Things have changed in 3.2: no more Seal of Blood. Nope, you don't have it any more, no use crying over it. But wait, all is not lost. The replacement is much better and it's called Seal of Vengeance - a direct damage proc and awesome DoT? Yes please!

We're here to discuss Glyphs though, not Seals, and the new SoV gives you one extra option, the imaginatively titled 'Glyph of Seal of Vengeance'. But what's lacking in naming pizazz misses little in power as it still gives you a whole 10 Expertise. Not 10 Rating, 10 Expertise. That's -2.5% chance for the boss to dodge or parry your attacks.

But lets not get carried away. For one Expertise is a capped stat, any more than 26 (214 rating) is totally wasted and so the effectiveness the Glyph is directly limited by your gear, perversely having the potential to get worse as your gear improves. For another, there are also three other totally serviceable glyphs on offer which provide a meaningful DPS boost. A quick reminder:

  • Glyph of Judgement - The workhorse of any Ret Glyph selection, it generates 10% more Judgement damage.

  • Glyph of Consecration - CD Conflict Resolution and greater Mana Efficiency, there's nothing not to like about this Glyph. Except the name, it really should be called 'Glyph of Double D', a truer reflection of how awesome it is.

  • Glyph of Exorcism - 20% more damage on your Exorcism... Good, but is it good enough?

  • It turns out that Exorcism's Glyph is kinda like your Prom Date: not your first choice, nor your second, but just attractive enough if you squint at them in a crosswind. And unfortunately, like all horse-faced rejects of the goblin race they've been upstaged by the new girl on the block.

    The SoV Glyph isn't quite as good as Judgement or Consecration from a DPS POV, but works well enough all the same and is better than Exorcism's. However best in slot gear may cap Expertise, in which case it's time to turn back to old cross-eyed Mary and be thankful that she's not as picky as you.

    For reference, the 131.16 Expertise Rating is the cap for Ret when Glyph of SoV being used.

    The Wildcard - Holy Wrath

    Good-bye GoSoB, hello Glyph of Holy Wrath. This new addition in 3.2 reduces Holy Wrath's cooldown from 30 seconds to 15 seconds. That's a 15 sec cooldown 10 yrd AoE with 3 sec stun, but only usable against Demons and Undead, which at 20% base mana goes through your mana pool faster than I scoff a packet of Jaffa Cakes. It's hard to imagine an encounter where this would be useful (*cough*Crusader's Coliseum*cough*) but even in optimal conditions the trade-off is high. When your Raid Leader suggests it, which they will, sic your Mechanical Yeti on 'em.

    Mechanic Yeti - Strong Against Raid Leaders

    Minor Glyphs

    Nothing has changed in this score. Nothing. You'll still be using exactly the same ones you've used in the past 6 months of the game. That means Glyph of Sense Undead, Glyph of Lay on Hands, and Glyph of It Doesn't Really Matter, Probably BoMight, The Minor Glyph Concept Sucks Anyway.

    So there you have it, distilled down into simplest terms:

    PvE Major Glyphs:
    1) Consecration
    2) Judgement
    3)i) Seal of Vengeance until near Expertise Cap, then
    ii) Exorcism

    Minor Gyphs:
    1) Sense Undead
    2) Lay On Hands
    3) Might

    PvP will of course always be a more idiosyncratic choice tuned to your play style. Glyphs of Salvation and HoJ enter the equation, but I pretty much suck at PvP so make up your own mind. ;)


    Baring any unforseen changes, equipement will be the topic of the next part of this 3.2 Ret Primer. I'm now off to enjoy a jaffa cake. Or 20.

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    PTR Update: SoV Functionality Change.

    You knew that just as soon as I scheduled the previous post something significant was going to change. Well, the penny has dropped and SoV has been hit hard in the latest build.

    Previously, both the Holy Vengeance DoT and 33% direct damage proc would trigger from Crusader Strike, Divine Storm and Judgement. Now, none of these abilities interact with SoV in any way. On the flip side, Hammer of Righteousness does seem to interact in a normal way.

    This may be an attempt by Blizzard to equalise the DPS output of SoC and SoV, especially in PvP. It may also be an indication that they want to make stacking SoV's DoT a tougher proposition, and hence slow down the pace of SoV-damage in PvP. In that case CS et al not procing the direct damage may be an unintended side-affect.

    Hopefully we'll know more next week, fingers crossed that this is just a bug.

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    The More Things Stay The Same - Ret Changes For 3.2 Distilled

    With 3.2 due out in early August and some stability in class mechanics over the last few builds it's time to start nailing down the impact of 3.2 on gear and playstyle. This is the first part of a 3.2 Retribution Paladin Primer.

    Ah, so much to say, so much room to say it in. 3.2 is close at hand and we all need to get a grip on the latest class alterations in the new patch. Having had a few weeks to ruminate and cogitate on the ins and outs of 3.2 here is my take on Talents, Seals and Retributions' DPS Rotation, such as it is.

    1. Base PvE Talent Build

    It would be easy to drone on and on and on about the talents to take, but come on guys this isn't rocket science. There's still only 59 talents which increase your DPS, and taking all the essentials (including JotW) only requires an investment of 62.

    Baring a few points shaved here and there this is the cookie cutter talent build most Ret Paladins will be working from in 3.2:

    5/5/52 + 9

    The only change from the 3.1 cookie cutter build is 5 points spent in Seals of the Pure. Currently, SotP accounts for a little more than 5% increase in DPS as it increases the damage of the DoT, Judgement and Seal Proc of SoV by the listed 15%. Where you place those final 9 points will largely be up to you and your raid composition. Divine Sacrifice is the strongest of all available talents because of the raid-wide mitigation it allows when activated in conjunction with Divine Shield. Other talent choices will largely depend on your raid line-up, with Imp. BoM and Vindication registering as the strongest contenders. I'll be taking a more detailed look at these utility talents in a later post.

    2. Seals

    Seal of Vengeance/Corruption will be the Seal of choice in the vast, vast majority of cases. The DPS output of this Seal is significantly higher than any alternative, and four seconds to accumulate the 5-high stack requirement for its' direct damage proc isn't a hardship.

    The jury is currently out on which of the other two Seals represent the best DPS in the blessedly rarely situations where SoV isn't optimal. Command has a much stronger melee proc whilst Righteousness deals painfully more damage on Judgement. Against AoE Instance Trash Command just about has an edge because of procs from Divine Storm, but otherwise Righteousness /w 5/5 SotP is so close to the damage output of Command that the additional talent point spent becomes somewhat unnecessary. If you're pressured into raid-utility talents ditching Command may be necessary, even if you have to hold your nose and sometimes run with Righteousness.

    PTR testing currently puts SoV DPS output at ~25% of total, which may well be looked at closely as finer balancing takes place towards the end of the testing cycle. JoV also hits very, very hard (pre-nerf JoB hard) with AP trinket/libram procs and 5-stack Holy Vengeance, and that may well be dialed down because of PvP and the fact that JoV also procs the Seal.

    3. FCFS Priority Rotation, or 'Hulk Mash Buttons!'

    You'd be forgiven for assuming that Crusader Strike cooldown reduction and the 'Art of Exorcism' effect had changed our FCFS priority system for DPS. In reality it simply constitutes an increase of 1 GCD spent per 12 seconds and therefore a bit more key pounding but not much more thought required. DPS is generally higher than the 3.1 baseline, but making use of utility skills such as Sacred Shield come at a commensurate DPS loss.

    More GCD's used means that the conflict resolution priority each skill has is more important than in earlier patch cycles. A skills position of priority within the sequence isn't down to a simple analysis of damage per cast or stand-alone DPS, a more rigorous methodology to assess the relative DPS cost of using one ability in preference to another is required.

    If I prioritise Divine Storm over Judgement once every 40 seconds Divine Storm has an effective cooldown of 10 secs and Judgement 8.3 seconds. If I prioritise Judgement over Divine Storm once every 40 seconds Divine Storm has an effective cooldown of 10.375 secs and Judgement 8 seconds. If Judgement does J damage per cast and DS D damge per cast, which is greater: (J/8.3) + (D/10) or (J/8) + (D/10.375).

    Of course, there are a number of potential permutations to go through with the possibility that each priority can affect another skills position in the priority listing. With that said, the following is a good rule of thumb:

    Hammer of Wrath > Crusader Strike > Judgement > Divine Storm > Consecration > Exorcism

    which of course is conditional on mob health and mobility. You'll crit often enough for Exorcism to always be instant cast unless you have a really terrible crit rate, so nothing has changed on that regard.


    Glyphs will be the next topic in this 3.2 Ret Primer.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Heh, There Goes That Worgen Idea.... Maybe.

    A new PTR patch is up, and new Halloween facemasks are included. This seems to blow the idea of Goblins and Worgen featuring in the expansion as two new races out of the water, which is something of a shame.

    Newly included are Murlocs, Naga, Valkyr and Ogres, all both male and female.

    Yep, female Ogres.


    On the bright side, this hopefully indicates a number of new features on offer during the Halloween holiday... still, I was looking forward to legions of Goblin Shaman.



    But Wait, There's Lore states that unlike the Goblin and Worgen masks, the masks datamined today are not brand new art. Curious, and it smacks of covering ones tracks. Roll on Blizzcon ;)

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    A (Divine) Plea For Help: Re-Brand This Blog

    Looking to do a re-design of this blog, possibly even moving it to the Wordpress platform, mainly as an aid to stave off the deadly blogging malaise I and others have been afflicted with in the last few months. To coincide with this I'll be looking at posting on more general topics too so The Suicidal Zebra is less of a one-trick pony.

    So, with this in mind, what do you guys think? Do you have any blogs that you think are great examples of design on the Blogger or Wordpress platform? What do you think is exemplifies good design of blogs and websites in general? Are there any old features of this blog which should be carried over?

    Same goes for content.

    This isn't an idle request, if I don't do something I'll probably end up blogging entirely. :(

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Goblins and Worgen... I Wasn't Expecting That!

    The data-miners at MMO-Champion have been at it again and have come up with four brand new Halloween masks: Worgen and Goblins. Normally I'd brush it off, adding new masks for a larger Halloween event in 3.2 is pretty plausible, especially as May's 'Children's Week' is also seeing a few tweaks well in advance. Curiously though a female Worgen is emblazoned on one of the masks, and for all the idea of 'completeness' makes sense it's almost unnecessary given that we haven't seen any female Worgen up to now.

    Boubouille moots "Goblins and Worgens are the new races of the Expansion", and that's certainly a catchy title for those interested in traffic. This is, however, not all that outlandish. The Goblin Principality of Undermine, and Gilneas behind the Greymane Wall have been long overlooked locations to those interested in the unfolding story as much as the encounters. Goblins are of course ever popular and Undermine may hold clues to the current activities of the Naga and rumoured Murloc (Old?) God. Gilneas remains an enigma, the State was once a vacation spot for someone we all know very well, and is rumoured to have been infested with the Worgen plague. Both Gilneas and Kul Tiras have been conspicuous in their absence these last few years and now would be a perfect time to re-introduce the last remnants of the human Kingdoms. If anywhere could constitute a 'safe harbour' for the former Lord Prestor it would be Gilneas.

    In a recent interview with Incgamers Metzen had this to say about Gilneas:

    Medievaldragon: Aaron Rosenberg’s World of Warcraft: Tides of Darkness helps modernize a lot of the lore revolving around Warcraft II. One aspect of the lore that fans have been wondering about, is Gilneas. Was Gilneas scheduled to make an appearance in that book, but had to be trimmed out, or will Gilneas be revisited in future books?

    (Neilson grins at Metzen)

    Metzen: Ah, ah, I would say we have some very, very, Very interesting plans for Gilneas. (Metzen docks slightly looking toward the ceiling) But there are snipers up in the roof that would shoot me if you know ... (everyone laughs). We are doing some awesome stuff for Gilneas.

    Neilson: ... stay tuned!

    Metzen: Stay tuned.

    and if that doesn't whet your appetite, nothing will.

    So, if Worgen and Goblins are two new races which faction will they align with? The obvious answer is Horde = Goblin, Alliance = Worgen, but this be a situation where the obvious answer isn't the most likely. A feature long requested by the masses is on of un-aligned races, where Players choosing from these races can claim allegiance to one of the two main factions. The idea isn't too outlandish in lore, Gilneas can claim links to both the Lorderon-based Forsaken and Stormwind-based Humans, though the Blood Elves wouldn't be too happy with the former. Likewise the neutrality of Goblins have never been in question but they share a great rivalry with Gnomes.

    Neutral Character Races able to join either Faction would tough to sell to many WoW purists, not to mention posing questions on cross-faction communication restrictions. However Blizzard has been experimenting with exclusive faction reputation since the Aldor/Scryers in 2.0, and even on a minor scale around Grizzlemaw in the Grizzly Hills. It could be argued that this speculation is only the next logical step.

    Finally, Boubouille also teases us with the following:

    On a non related sidenote, I would also like to point out that the old Emerald Dream maps that have been in the game files for years have been slightly updated throughout the 3.2, and in the Build 10072 of the PTRs the Map.dbc file with some of the settings for each zone was updated to make it a 40 Players max zone.

    Okay, obvious points will be awarded to those who think 'ah, Battleground'. There is another option however: an Acherus-Style phased instance for a new Hero class. An Arch-druid Hero Class makes sense here, and may even be forshadowed by small exchanged featured in 3.2.

    Of course, as speculation goes all of this is pretty out-there. The threads all add up, but with so many variables I could be well off base. All that said, the evidence towards a major expansion announcement at Blizzcon 2009 is starting to mount. Could this be 'World of Warcraft: Cataclysm'?

    Keep an eye out for teaser splash screens starting the week before Blizzcon.


    Random Ravings of Warcraft has a detailed post full of speculation on this topic which is well worth a read. Additionally, Homocidal Panda linked the old 'Expansion Zone Breakdown' from 2007 which so far has been uncanny in its' accuracy. An excerpt:

    Northrend Set

    Borean Tundra - 67 to 70
    Howling Fjord - 67 to 70
    Dragonblight - 69 to 72
    Grizzly Hills - 70 to 73
    Crystalsong Forest - 72 to 75
    Zul'drak - 73 to 76
    Sholazar Basin - 75 to 79
    Storm Peaks - 76 to 80
    Icecrown Glacier - 78 to 80

    Maelstrom Set

    Gilneas - 77 to 80
    Grim Batol - 78 to 81
    Kul Tiras - 79 to 82
    Kezan - 81 to 86
    Tel Abim - 83 to 85
    Zandalar - 84 to 87
    Plunder Isle - 86 to 88
    The Broken Isles - 87 to 90
    The Maelstrom - 89 to 90

    Roll on Blizzcon.

    Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    Cue the QQ: Minor MS Effects for Everyone in 3.2

    Okay, not everyone. Yet

    From the latest PTR Build:


    * Permafrost now also reduces the target's healing received by 7/13/20%.


    * Improved Mind Blast has an additional effect - while in Shadowform your Mind Blast also has a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to reduce all healing done to the target by 20% for 10 sec.

    It's unlikely that these are the only two classes to get this talented Mortal Strike debuff, there's no real reason for them to get it and no-one else. A secondary effect for CS perhaps?

    This strikes me as tacit acknowledgement that healing is going to be pretty over the top in 3.2 PvP, and so every offensive class will need the option of speccing for at least minor Mortal Strike in the Arena. Warriors, Rogues and Hunters obviously won't need such a talent and will continue to have an advantage at -50% rather than -20, but that won't stop the QQ.

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009

    Hopes of Troll Paladins... Dashed.

    From the Faction Change Service FAQ:

    Updated* 7/1- Due to the many questions that have come up with the announcement of this new service, we wanted to take the time to answer the ones we can at this point in time.

    Q. Will we be able to switch between the races on our own faction?
    A.. No. Players will only be able to switch to a race of the opposite faction.

    Q. Will I be able to choose the race on the opposite faction that I want to change to?
    A.. Yes, but you will only be able to switch to a race that has your class type available to it. So if you play a human paladin, you’d only be able to change to a blood elf paladin.

    Q.How much will it cost?
    A.. We do not have further information on this at this point in time.

    Q.Will I be able to switch back to my original faction but a different race?
    A.. No. You will only be able to switch back to your originally chosen race.

    Q.. How will the switch between reputation, gear, mounts, etc be handled?
    A.. We’ll have more details for you at a later point in time, though we plan to keep these as close to a reflection of the other faction as much as possible.

    Q.How often can you change your faction?
    A..We do not have any information to share on this at this point in time, however we will have restrictions on the frequency by which players can change their faction.

    Q. How will this affect the balance of Horde and Alliance on the realms?
    A.. We are taking great care in how we implement this new service in order to maintain balance between the factions on the realms but do not have any further details to share.

    No Troll Paladins? Gnome Shaman? I'm now totally against this service :(.

    Unintended Consequences Don't Always Suck.

    Stephanie in comments mentioned the following:

    from the new PTR:
    Judgements: Some of these attacks were considered ranged and some melee. They are all now considered melee attacks that can't be dodged, parried or blocked.

    Okay, at first glance this isn't much of a change. JoB already couldn't be dodged, parried or blocked and it would make sense that JoV would be the same too. However, I wasn't reading this change closely enough and conflated 'Ranged' with 'Spell' (i.e. miss rates and crit bonuses). There's one extra thing to consider though: procs. Specifically, Seal Procs.

    Judgement of Command is currently something of an oddity as it has it's own chance to proc Seal of Command. In 3.x to date this has been something of a non-factor because of SoC's 1sec internal cooldown which tore down the Seals' viability. We all rolled with SoB, even in PvP, and this quirk was consigned to the big bin of meaningless 'bugs' (not the first time this has happened with SoC... see the original Judgement debuff). In hindsight the reason is obvious: JoC, like Crusader Strike and Divine Storm, is a melee strike and so procs melee seals.

    So, why doesn't JoB proc SoB? Well, I'm not exactly sure but it's probably because 'Judgement of ...' actually casts 2 spells, one applying the debuff and one dealing damage. The former remains the same no matter the active Seal, the latter changes depending on the active Seal. For JoC the 'damage dealing' part is an unavoidable melee strike and hence it can proc SoC, in contrast by some quirk JoB's 'damage dealing' part was ranged attack, and it seems likely that ranged attacks cannot proc Seals. Unfortunately there is no way of testing this directly as Paladins are without skills recognisable as ranged attacks (rather than spells), but that conclusion seems borne out by the patch notes.

    The result this brief patch note is that if this change makes it into Live 3.2 Judgement of Vengeance just got a huge buff. It will not only do damage ([14% Att Pow + 22% Spell Power]*[1+.1*stack size]) regen mana and apply a debuff, it will also Proc a Seal and add to the SoV debuff stack. JoV instantly goes to the top of the dps priority list, no ifs and no buts.

    Intended? Well, I don't think so, it seems to me to be a side-effect of cleaning up the Seal/Judgement system so the game mechanics are more logical. Still, one man's correction is another man's 250 DPS.

    Right now we're shaping up to do higher sustained DPS in PvE, which is fairly important given the reports of falling behind in Ulduar. Unfortunately the PTR is pretty FUBAR'd so getting any significant testing done is somewhat difficult, but the next build should hold some interesting revelations.

    But SoC... poor poor SoC. It so badly needs a quality niche and it still doesn't have one, not even PvP where SoV is still likely to dominate. I really hope Blizz think of something.

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