Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sacred Shield, Now 80% Less Effective. - Updated


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'?


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:

  • 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.


    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:


    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.



    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.



    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.


    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.


  • 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.


    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.

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