Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Beta Build, New Paladin Talents.

Well, the internetosphere is alive with the sound of new WoW talents being debated (though the 'blogosphere' is still playing catch-up). MMO-Champion yet again has the skinny, and here is a condensed list of Paladin changes.

* Judgement is now on the Global Cooldown.
* Seals now have a duration of 2 minutes.
* Forbearance: Now lasts 3 minutes. (don't forget, Avenging Wrath is now not tied to Forbearance)


* Vindication: Gives the Paladin's damaging attacks a chance to reduce the target's attributes by 10/20% for 15 seconds (was only melee attacks and 3 Pts for 5/10/15%).
* Pursuit of Justice: Reduces the chance you'll be hit by spells by 1/2% and increases movement and mounted movement speed by 8/15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects (was 3 Pts for 1/2/3% reduced chance to be hit by spells and 5/10/15% speed increase).
* Eye for an Eye: All criticals against you cause 10/20% of the damage taken to the attacker as well. The damage caused by Eye for an Eye will not exceed 50% of the Paladin's total health (was 15/30% damage return for spell attacks only).
* The Art of War: Reduces all damage taken by 1/2/3% and gives your Hand of Freedom a 33/66/100% chance to remove Stun effects.
* Righteous Vengeance: Increases critical damage bonus of your Judgement and Divine Storm spells by 5/10/15/20/25% (was 3/6/9/12/15% for all damage criticals).
* Divine Storm: Mana cost changed to 20% of base mana up from 12%.


* New Spell: Divine Plea (5 Minutes cooldown, Channeled) - While channeling this spell, you gain 50% of your total mana over 6 seconds.
* Seals: All seal spells now last 2 minutes. This does not apply to special seals like Seal of Protection or Seal of Sacrifice.
* Holy Shock: Rank 1 mana cost reduced from 335 to 245. Healing increased from 351-379 to 481-519 (Blasts the target with Holy energy, causing 314 to 340 Holy damage to an enemy, or 481 to 519 healing to an ally).
* Enlightened Judgements: Chance to hit added (Increases the range of your Judgement spells by 10/20 yards and increases your chance to hit by 2/4%).
* Beacon of Light: Mana cost reduced from 780 to 675.


* Reworked: Divine Protection (118 Mana, 5 Minutes cooldown): Reduces all damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds, but increases the time between your attacks by 50%. Once protected, the target cannot be made invulnerable by Divine Shield, Divine Protection or Hand of Protection again for 180 seconds. [-this is a Holy Spell, but it makes more sense to place it in the Prot changes]
* Guardian's Favor: Tooltip corrected (Blessing of Freedom renamed to Hand of Freedom).
* Divine Guardian: This talent now affects Divine Shield and Divine Protection (While Divine Shield or Divine Protection is active 15/30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin.).
* Guarded by the Light: Reduces the mana cost of your Consecration, Holy Wrath and Avenger's Shield spells by 15/30% (was "Whenever you parry or dodge an attack you have a 10/20% chance to reduce the mana cost of your next Consecration, Holy Wrath or Avenger's Shield spell by 25/50%").

Updated talents trees Here.

The extent and scope of these changes is why I tended to not comment on specific talents but rather mechanic changes. Key features are that Retributions' insane burst damage has been reduced through the change to the Art of War talent, many Holy Spell Mana costs have been reduced, Judgement is now on the Global Cooldown and Divine Protection has been significantly reworked. DP is now your Paladin Last Stand, on a 5-minute cooldown, at the cost of a new 3min Forbearance (boohoo) and 50% slower Auto-attack.

There's something I'm forgetting... oh yes... Divine Plea. Apparently this is a trainable spell at lvl71, providing 50% of your total mana over 6 seconds. That's a big boost as far as I'm concerned in PvP and PvE for Holy and Ret, and it also scales favourably with Haste. Yes, it's a channelled spell so at risk of interruption, but there had to be a downside of some form.

I think that all of these changes were somewhat predictable. Whether they survive unchanged into the final release is as always tough to say, but I'd expect a few tweaks over the course of the next few builds. Another look at Blessing of Sanctuary, Benediction and consolidating Prot talents would be a good use of their time IMO.


From your friendly neighbourhood RetPaladins we have the new Divine Storm graphic:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beta Paladin Changes: An Initial Commentary (2)

(continued from previous)

4a. Hands over Blessings

Utilitarian Blessings (BoP, BoF and BoSacrifice) are being changed to 'Hands', mutually exclusive non-Blessing Buffs, and therefore will not overwrite the longer Blessings such as Kings. I believe that should be greeted with a certain amount of glee, especially from those Paladins who like a bit of PvP. However the elimination of Blessing of Salvation (30% reduced threat) and creation of Hand of Salvation (Threat reduced by 2% every over 10 seconds) has caused some consternation. Quite apart from this nerf to raid-wide threat generation (and hence DPS and Healing) some commentators have expressed concern that Paladins become Hand-bots. At a 2minute cooldown I don't think there is much risk of this, and I have long been of the opinion that Blessing of Salvation was a crutch for Paladin entry to a raid when we should have been justifying our position on our active abilities rather than passive ones. If BoSalv never existed this spell would be a great one at baseline, and even now it remains pretty damn good. I believe that the changes to Aura's and talents make up for the loss of BoSalv from a Paladin raid viability standpoint, and if raids need to be more concerned over threat then so be it.

4b. Healing Changes.

Again, I want to stay away from specifics but it appears that Blizzard are no longer against Paladins having AoE or HoT heals, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. ‘Sheath of the Light’ is a great talent for Healing Paladins but you have to spec as many as 23pts in Ret to get it (such a 48/23 build has already been dubbed the ‘Sheathbot’). Beacon of the Light is 51pts in Holy, so it’s one or the other. The talents themselves are obviously quite buggy right now and the scaling isn’t fixed, but they are well worth keeping an eye on for the next month of two.

In terms of PvP, Holy gets a big boost with ranged Judgements (gogo Ranged JoJ’s on Druids) and the ‘Infusion of Light’ talent, causing your Holy Shock Criticals to grant grant you an instant Holy Light. Sheathbot in PvP may well be the spec of choice. Put together and it certainly implies that whilst Blizzard want Paladins to remain relatively restricted in healing tools they are open to considering the tools of other healing classes if appropriate.

Gwaendar over at Altitus also has some interesting info on Healing rotations based on current information, and the 6-sec Holy Shock seems to be immensely effective.

5. Offensive AoE

Protection and Retribution Paladins are getting Offensive AoE. Hammer of Righteousness at 51pts Prot threat generator of the order of Swipe, hitting up-to 3 targets for weapon damage as Holy. This may also be a very interesting PvP effect for Prot Paladins. Retribution gets Divine Storm, a Whirlwind-style AoE hitting up-to 4 targets, and healing 2 party or raid members for a total of 20% of the damage caused, as Holy Damage. To go with this Consecration will also scale much better for both Prot and Ret, so whilst we won’t exactly be Kings of AoE we certainly won’t be dead weight offensively in such encounters.

6. A New Stat Focus?

When the changes to Warriors ‘Shield Block’ were announced many people where saying that it was the end of the Shield Block Value Stat. However there is a new resurgence towards this stat for Paladins.

The ‘Touched by the Light’ Talent increases your Spell Damage by 10% of your Stamina (Prot talents, now with added synergy), so it’s possible that Spell Damage on gear will become significantly less important. However both Holy Shield damage mitigation and the new Shield of Righteousness’ Damage scales with SBV. It seems more than likely that SBV will be, if not a premium stat, at least not the relative waste it is currently for Prot. Also look out for better scaling of SBV with Strength, further improving our scaling with ‘warrior’ tanking gear.

Well worth noting: according to both Rohan at BoK and Galo at Ardent Defender SBV is scaling at a rate of 2 Str = 1 SBV. Needless to say, this would amount to a boat-load of mitigation and threat from all from previously 'Warrior' Gear.

7. Honourable Mentions

Raid-wide Aura’s – Great change IMO, though with it Aura Mastery becomes something of a premium talent. Ideally I’d like to see a 40yrd range for Aura’s be made baseline. I also love each of the secondary effects of the auras, though it’d be nice if Concentration Aura’s were slightly better. They are competitive with both the Shaman Totems and DK Presences now, though pale somewhat compared to the Druid form aura’s (whilst being less limiting).
Talent Imagery - Okay, so it’s a minor point, but I like the look of the new talent icons. Check out the official talent caculators for them.
Prot Talents are still bloated – consolidation would be very nice, especially with some of the earlier talents.
Hammer of Wrath – no longer resetting the swing timer? Proper scaling for Ret? Usable under 35%? Unified Hit Rating? .5sec Cast Time? All total sex for a previously lacklustre skill… I know Dazanna will be pleased.
Divine Guardian - Why Blizzard, Why?.

I think that’s all for now. And bloody hell that’s long. I’ll add some links to the bottom of this post for further reading, but till then:

Blizzard, if you are reading this, please send me a beta invite. EU Account, so I wouldn't even be muddying up your pristine US Servers ;).

EDIT: Where to get your Beta Information:

Blessing of Kings. - Rohan's got a Beta invite.
Banana Shoulders. - So has Siha
Standing in the Back. - Valyre's got one too.
Elitist Jerks Forum. - Lots of people on here with the Beta, or de-constructing the Patch files.
WoW Insider. - And of course i'd be remiss if I didn't mention WoW Insider who are doing a great job collating a load of the more general Wrath information.

If you know of anywhere else to look let me know.

Beta Paladin Changes: An Initial Commentary (1)

We’ve all had some time to digest the changes slated for Wrath now. Some are outstanding, some are merely great, but I think I can safely say that there is something in there for anyone. However Beta Tests are fluid and unpredictable by nature – we can’t assume that the exact spells we see now are going to be there come release. So to save myself some time and hopefully a whole lot of dashed expectations I want to comment on the general mechanics changes we’re seeing rather than specific skills. This post may well become obsolete fairly swiftly, so don't forget to check out other blogs and forums.

1. Mana Cost and Efficiency.

Naturally enough, one of the first comments made on the release of Paladin Beta information was a gripe over Mana. Holy Paladins have issues with conservation of mana in the highest Tier of content, to an extent much greater than that of Druids and Priests since the Spirit changes, and so far Wrath brings nothing to the table to change that. If anything it may get worse as the mana cost of healing spells increase significantly and no passive mana generation is included in the talent specs. The new AoE HoT, Beacon of Light, has a huge mana cost by lvl70 standards, and of course does not interact with the Illumination talent in any way. Addressing this weakness will probably be a priority for Holy Paladins going forward in the Beta. (More Reading)

Protection Paladins have similar mana issues which stymies their effectiveness in an off-tank role such as building up threat for Hateful Strikes etc. This is not addressed in Wrath so far – whilst mana concerns when main-tanking have decreased through the new Guarded by the Light talent (10/20% chance after dodge or parry to reduce the mana cost of Consecration, Holy Wrath or Avengers Shield by 50%) no passive mana regen is provided for occasions when you are not the focus of the majority of damage. The importance of this really will depend on the types of raid encounters we see in Wrath of the Lich King and whether Blizzard make good on the idea of having hot-swappable talent specs to prevent benching mid-raid.

Comparatively speaking, Retribution Paladins made out like thieves. Whilst the mana cost for all abilities remain relatively high, the Judgement system has been significantly re-tuned to be less mana intensive (more on that in a sec). JoL/JoW/JoJ now provide the 3% crit through the new Heart of the Crusader talent (replacing Imp. SotC) and SotC/JotC are gone from your spellbook. But the cherry on top: the new Judgements of the Wise talent (Your Judgement Spells restore mana up-to 3 group or raid members totally 60% of the damage caused). Passive Mana regen would also be nice, but hopefully damage will scale enough so that parity is restored.

2. Crowd Control

Paladins finally get a viable form of PvE CC in the form of Repentence. It now targets Demons, Dragonkin, Humanoids, Giants and Undead, disorientating them for up-to 1min. The cooldown however remains 1 min, so pray that it isn’t broken early. It could be thought of as a cross between Sheep (in that it can be used in combat) and Sap (in that it can really only be used once each fight). This, combined with the change to Judgement of Light, is a significant boost to Ret Paladin 5/10-man viability.

3. Seal/Judgement Mechanic Change.

Read This First.

It’s been the same since time immemorial (or at least December 2004): You cast a Seal, you Judge it, you cast another Seal. Early reports however are that all is changing on this front. Check out Rohan over at Blessing of Kings, the lucky guy has got a Beta Key and has been testing it out, and he (*whistles innocently*) summed up the change as ‘Debuff comes from the Judgement, Damage comes from the Seal’. Seals are now cast just once every 30 seconds and Judgements no longer consume the Seal. There are three Judgement spells – ‘Judgement of Light’, ‘Judgement of Wisdom’ and ‘Judgement of Justice’ – which when cast each do damage according to the Seal and Debuff according to the Judgement.

Also, every Seal now causes some damage when a Judgement is cast, scaling with different stats (SD, AP and/or Weapon Damage) and with different coefficients.

The net effect is that in theory the mana efficiency of the Seal/Judgement system is much improved and the system is much less clunky. Also Holy’s ‘Enlightened Judgements’ talent means that even Holy Paladins can do damage (and Debuff) at range. The one change I’d like to see is for certain seals to have secondary affects for Healing Paladins (such as SoR boosting healing done by 5% etc) so they are encouraged to use Seal and also the new Judgement spells more often.

(... to be continued... I really need to figure out how to put breaks in these posts)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Paladin 51pt Talents Datamined. More Talents Discovered.

Those eager beavers over at WotLKWiki have datamined what appear to be the 51pt talents for each of the three Paladin talent trees. (- More talents and skills have been added, expect them to formulate a talent tree quite soon).

Paladin Talent Calculator up at MMO-Champion.

Beacon Of Light: The target becomes a Beacon of Light, healing all party or raid members within 10 yards for 2000 over 15 sec.
(Rank 5, Level 80, 2330 mana, 1.5 sec Cast)

- A targeted AoE HoT, probably our answer to Circle of Healing. The scaling will be the most interesting feature of this Skill IMO, if it scales well we may just have a winner.

Hammer of Righteousness: Hammer the current target and up to 2 additional nearby targets, causing 100% of weapon damage as Holy damage. This ability causes high threat.
(No rank/cost information available.)

- Wins for me if only because of the name of the Skill. A Prot Holy Cleave causing high threat, possibly with PvP application. It goes without saying that this needs to be an Instant Cast ability.

Divine Storm: An instant weapon attack that causes Holy damage to up to 4 enemies within 8 yards. The Divine Storm heals up to 3 party or raid members totalling 20 of the damage caused.

- Not the greatest of names, but potentially a winner. It's a weapon-based AoE, again much like Cleave, but also heals nearby party members based on the Damage done. Again cooldown is of significance, as is mana cost, but it looks good.

Nothing in the talents so far is truly innovative and plugs glaring gaps in Prot/Ret Paladin weaknesses and utility, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Gogo more talent releases, and check out WotLKWiki's Paladin page for more paladin news as it's released.


More Talents are listed on the page. Some very, very bizarre ones too, but here are the highlights IMO:

Shield of Righteousness: (Level 75, 6 sec cooldown) Slam the target with your shield, causing Holy damage equal to 200% of your block value. This spell causes a high amount of threat. - Block Value?

Seal of the Martyr: Seal of Blood for Alliance Paladins.

  • Sheath of Light (20 Pts req.): Increases your spell power by an amount equal to 10/20/30% of your attack power and your critical healing spells heal the target for 20/40/60% of the healed amount over 12 seconds.(3 Ranks)
  • Sanctified Wrath (35 Pts): Increases the critical strike chance of Hammer of Wrath by 25/50%, reduces the cooldown of Avenging Wrath by 30/60 secs and while affected by Avenging Wrath 25/50% of all damage caused bypasses damage reduction effects.(2 Ranks)
  • Swift Retribution (40 Pts): Your Retribution Aura also increases casting, ranged and melee attack speeds by 1/2/3%.(3 Ranks)
  • Righteous Vengeance (45 Pt Req): Increases critical damage bonus of all attacks by 3/6/9/12/15% (5 Ranks)
  • Judgements of the Wise (25pts, Replaces Sanctified Judgements): Your Judgement Spells restores mana to up to 3 group or raid members totalling 20/30/60% of the damage caused - Paladin Mana Regen on the Hoof?

  • Protection:
  • Divine Guardian (15 Pts Req.):While Divine Shield is active 15/30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin.(2 Ranks) - Does this mean that DS won't drop threat, or is it meant to be a PvP Ability/Retroactive Oh-shit to protect tanks?
  • Touched by the Light (40 Pts Req): Increases your spell power by an amount equal to 10/20/30% of your Stamina and increases the amount healed by your critical heals by 10/20/30%. (3 Ranks)
  • Guarded by the Light: Whenever you parry or dodge an attack you have a 10/20% chance to reduce the mana cost of your next Consecration, Holy Wrath or Avenger's Shield spell by 25/50%. (2 Ranks) - Our equivalent to Warriors getting rage from dodges and parries. Rather than a reduction I'd have liked to see this be a mana back from avoidance
  • Shield of the Templar (45 Pt Req.): Increases the damage and reduces the mana cost of your Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield and Shield of Righteousness spells by 5/10/15%. (3 Ranks) - What is Shield of Righteousness? A typeo, or something significant?
  • Judgements of the Just (45 Pts): Your Judgement spells also reduce the melee attack speed of the target by 10/20%. (2 Ranks) - Immense mitigation talent on a par (Better than?) Thunderclap for single targets. It may be more interesting if this was rolled into Consecration rather than Judgements.

  • There you have it. AP->SD at 30%, some other interesting talents, but bizarrely some +healing talents in Prot and Ret. This gives the talent trees a decidedly schizophrenic feel. Additionally there is no spell interrupt listed (with any luck the new Shield of Righteousness will have a Spell Interrupt added at some point) but there are a whole lot of new Ret and Prot talents which augment our already existing strengths and abilities. One things for sure, if these beta talents go live, Ret Paladins will hit like a truck.

    Paladin WotLK Beta Patch Notes

    MMO-Champion has got it's hands on the Beta Patch notes for Wrath of the Lich King.

    The full notes list can be found here:


    They also have a list of Alpha Content Screenshots. Anyway, here are the Paladin Beta Patch Notes, from the same source:

    * All Auras now affect all party and raid members within the area of effect.
    * Anticipation (Protection) moved to tier 1, now increases chance to dodge by 1/2/3/4/5%.
    * Avenger's Shield (Protection) cast time reduced to .5 seconds, duration increased to 10 seconds.
    * Avenging Wrath no longer causes Forebearance, damage increase reduced to 20%, now increases healing done by 20%.
    * Blessing of Freedom renamed Hand of Freedom. Only one Hand spell can be on the target per paladin at any one time. Now costs 6% of base mana.
    * Blessing of Light and Greater Blessing of Light removed. Their effects have been folded into all relevant abilities.
    * Blessing of Protection renamed Hand of Protection. Only one Hand spell can be on the target per paladin at any one time. All ranks now cost 6% of base mana.
    * Blessing of Sacrifice renamed Hand of Sacrifice, is now only 1 rank and transfers 20% of the damage taken to the caster, duration reduced to 12 seconds, cooldown increased to 2 minutes. Only one Hand spell can be on the target per paladin at any one time. Now costs 6% of base mana.
    * Blessing of Salvation renamed Hand of Salvation, now reduces total threat on the target by 2% per second for 10 seconds while also reducing all damage and healing done by 10%. Only one Hand spell can be on the target per paladin at any one time. Now costs 6% of base mana.<--- Biggest Change for end-game Paladins
    * Conviction (Retribution) now increases critical chance with all spells and melee attacks.
    * Divine Intellect (Holy) moved to tier 2, increases total Intellect by 3/6/9/12/15%.
    * Divine Intervention cooldown reduced to 20 minutes.
    * Divine Protection and Divine Shield now cost 3% of base mana.
    * Divine Purpose (Retribution) now reduces chance to be hit by spells and ranged attacks by 1/2/3%.
    * Divine Strength (Holy) moved to tier 1 in the Protection tree.
    * Greater Blessing of Salvation removed.
    * Hammer of Justice now costs 3% of base mana.
    * Hammer of Wrath is now considered a Retribution spell, moved from Holy, mana cost reduced, missile speed increased, now usable on targets below 35% health.
    * Healing Light (Holy) moved to tier 2.
    * Holy Shield (Protection) cooldown reduced to 8 seconds.
    * Holy Shock (Holy) range changed to 20/40 yards when used on enemies/friends respectively, cooldown reduced to 6 seconds.
    * Holy Wrath is now instant cast, causes a 3 second stun, cooldown reduced to 30 seconds, radius reduced to 10 yards.
    * Illumination (Holy) moved to tier 3.
    * Improved Concentration Aura (Protection) moved to the Holy tree.
    * Improved Concentration Aura moved from the Protection tree to tier 4 in the Holy tree.
    * Improved Devotion Aura (Protection) moved to tier 4, reduced to 3 ranks, now increases armor of Devotion Aura by 17/34/50% and increases all healing done to units affected by Devotion Aura by 1/2/3%.
    * Improved Hammer of Justice (Protection) now reduces cooldwon by 10/20/30 secs.
    * Improved Righteous Fury (Protection) threat bonus folded into base spell, talent still reduces all damage taken by 2/4/6%.
    * Improved Sanctity Aura (Retribution) renamed Sanctified Retribution, now causes all units affected by Retribution Aura to cause 2% more damage.
    * Improved Seal of Righteousness (Holy) moved to tier 1, renamed XXX, now affects Seal of Righteousness, Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption. --- WTF is Seal of Corruption?
    * Improved Seal of the Crusader (Retribution) renamed Heart of the Crusader and the effects now apply to all Judgement spells.
    * Judgement of Justice will no longer prevent Fear effects, only prevent NPCs from fleeing (e.g. at low health).
    * Lay on Hands no longer drains all mana, cooldown reduced to 20 minutes.
    * Pure of Heart (Holy) reduced to 2 ranks, now reduces duration of Curse and Disease effects by 25/50%.
    * Redoubt (Protection) moved to tier 2.
    * Repentance (Retribution) mana cost changed to 9% of base, duration increased to 1 minute (10 second PvP duration), now usable against Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids and Undead. <---- Paladin Instance CC
    * Retribution Aura damage increased and now gains damage based on Holy spell power.
    * Righteous Fury now increases threat caused by Holy damage by 90%.
    * Sanctified Light (Holy) now also increases the critical chance of Holy Shock.
    * Sanctity Aura (Retribution) removed.
    * Seal of Justice/Judgement reduced to 1 rank with all the effects of the previous rank 2, the Judgement effect no longer prevents Fear.
    * Seal of the Crusader has been removed. The effects of Judgement of the Crusader have been folded into all relevant abilities.
    * Seal of Vengeance damage over time effect duration increased to 18 seconds.
    * Spiritual Focus (Holy) moved to tier 1.
    * Stoicism (Protection) moved to tier 2, now reduces duration of Stun effects by 10/20/30% and reduces chance your spells will be resisted by 10/20/30%.
    * Toughness (Protection) moved to tier 3.
    * Turn Undead (ranks 1 and 2) removed. Turn Evil now granted at level 24, mana cost changed to 9% of base.
    * Unyielding Faith (Holy) moved to tier 2.

    A lot of very interesting changes. Commentary at some point later today, but what is Seal of Corruption?

    (No new spells are listed, nor genuine new talents. I guess we'll have to wait till be Beta starts and we have more leaks before we see them).

    EDIT: From WotLKWiki:

    Seal of Corruption: Fills the Paladin with holy power, granting each melee attack additional Holy damage over $53742d. This effect can stack up to $53742u times. Only one Seal can be active on the Paladin at any one time. Lasts $d.

    Sounds like Seal of Corruption is the Blood Elf version of Seal of Vengeance, which may indicate that Alliance Paladins will be getting their own equivalent of Seal of Blood.

    EDIT 2 (17/08/08):

    Changes to Downranking affect Paladins, especially Holy Paladins, in PvP and PvE.

    Paladin 51pt Talents

    Paladin Instant Melee Attacks, such as Crusader Strike and Divine Storm, can now Proc the active Seal's effect.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Wrath Friends and Family Alpha Over?

    WoW Insider are reporting that the Friends and Family Alpha has finished, sourcing your two favourite Alpha Leak sites. The same sources report that the expansion is in a very rough state right now so the deadline seems pretty arbitrary, especially as neither hide nor hair of the the Paladin and Hunter talent trees/spells have been seen. It may be a reflection of the looming spectre of Warhammer: Age of Reckoning in September (if it makes that date), and perhaps something of a giddy up for their developers in that regard. I just hope they can cope with the sorts of Beta Testers they've let themselves in for.

    Conspiracy theories are already abound suggesting that this is the first indication of the influence of Activision on Blizzard since the merger, but it is worth repeating that Blizz had a history of a 'we'll fix it in Beta' for certain development milestones long before this. It also may indicate a longer than anticipated Beta Period (IIRC The Burning Crusade was around 4 months from Beta to Gold), or perhaps that with all the leaks 'Alpha' status and NDA were proving to be meaningless.

    Regrettably this is just the sort of news that will rattle the collective cages of the Paladin (and I would guess Hunter) community. You can unfortunately hear the seething mass of resentment all ready to boil over onto the official forums. It probably can't be helped, but I really hope that the talents and class changes for both Hunters and Paladins are halfway decent in order to sate the unwashed.

    EDIT: Via Worldofwar.net

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    WoW Patch 2.4.3 Now On Live Servers.

    After what seems like the longest testing period for a mini-patch in WoW history, 2.4.3 has just been released on the Live servers in the US and hence is scheduled for release in the Europe Region tonight. Check out this news post on MMO-Champion for the full list of official and unofficial patch changes, and patch notes should be up on the Official Site soon. While there are quite a few gameplay and levelling changes, only one patch change known significantly affects Paladins as I mentioned last month:

    * Dispel effects will no longer attempt to remove effects that have 100% dispel resistance.

    PvP Ret Paladins should take careful note of this. It means that Sanctified Seals 100% Resistance may be counter-productive when encountering Dispell-heavy match-ups. The mooted proposition of 20/41, taking 2/2 Stoicism and 2/3 Sanc Seals, gaining 1 talent point and losing 1 crit for 96% effective Dispell resistance on the Seal - and hence the Dispell mechanic not avoiding Seals and going straight to Blessings/ImpRF, looks like the best bet if it wasn't already.

    So, have fun. I'm now off to power-level my Shaman to 30 ;).

    EDIT: I am sorely disappointed that my idea of Grifta selling 16 slot 'Gigantik' Bags for 50g wasn't taken up by Blizzard. Oh well, can't have everything I guess...

    ... stop sniggering in the back!

    More 2.4.3 Links:

    Patch 2.4.3 - End of Raid Herpes by Zanderfin
    A Healing Druid's take on 2.4.3 at Resto4Life
    WoW Insider's run-down of prominent Patch Changes
    Patch 2.4.3 And You by Josh at E4AE.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    DPS, Tanking and UI's - A Reflection on the Week.

    Well, having been back playing WoW for a week now I thought I'd share my thoughts on the current state of play:

  • My Paladin, Jana (apologies for the Welfare Epics), can comfortably perform well enough in a DPS role for Heroics. I've still got to re-learn encounters, especially particular Heroic encounters, but I'm happy that I won't be letting the group down by taking her over my Warlock.
  • Tanking is still fun in the gear I've collected. I've done a couple of normal lvl70 instance runs now and it's all pretty straightforward. Mana can be something of an issue, but that may be only because of outgearing the instance somewhat. Learning to be a little more frugal may be a good idea. Next stop, better avoidance gear and HP's and then Heroics / Raid Off-tanking
  • I love Windfury. It can have my grotesque human-totem hybrid babies.
  • Jana can do well enough in 10-man raids, but I still have a lot to (re-)learn...

  • What do I have to learn? Well, the most obvious part is the Karazhan encounters from the perspective of a melee character: keeping in the right position behind the target, getting out of range on timed AoE or area effect damaging debuffs etc. Also getting the hang of CC and using the /focus commands would be pretty handy too (yeah, we had 2 priests and no hunters on Moroes, gogo Turn Evil...). But above all what I find most difficult, and probably what separates (proverbially) the men from the boys is dealing with all the information you have coming in at any one time.

    At any given time a newish player in a raid may need to make upwards of a dozen concious decisions in some short number of seconds. Those who have been raiding for some time make these decisions automatically and without thinking about it - hear the raid warning, do your special thing, get back to the fold - all the while keeping careful note of swing timers, cooldowns, and their general given roles (DPS/Tanking/Healing etc). It's this, and not the gear gap, which I think is the most significant hurdle to progressing from small group encounters to raids.

    So in an effort to improve my performance I'm making a concerted effort to get to grips with custom UI's, boss mods, macro's and the like so as to streamline my decision-making processes. Just downloading and installing the mods isn't enough, you need to understand the numerous visual and auditory clues those mods provide. If a warning isn't necessary on an encounter for your role turn the damn thing off, if it's critical make sure you'll notice when you get the warning.

    Now seems like a good time to put in a couple of handy blog links. So I will:

    Josh over at Eye For An Eye's take on UI Mods.
    Siha at Banana Shoulders, for a Holy Paladin's Take on UI's.

    The UI mods available are a great addition to WoW in all areas of the game. Similarly simple action automation is a boon - it's amazing how much effort a weapon-switch or Judge+Reseal macro saves. Players need to be careful though that all the information they get on screen doesn't lead to information overload. Easing your way in, starting with non-standard Unit Frames, ActionBars and Boss Mods and then slowly working your way up towards more complex and information-rich mods such as swing timers and cooldown trackers is probably more sensible than looking at the various sites around and grabbing everything they suggest. Blogs and other informative sites suggesting mods are long-time veterans of the game and hence are well used to all the information coming at them during your typical raid. You, if you are anything like me, won't be.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    A Brief Comment on Blizzards Brief Comments

    (some originally posted in the comments of Ardent Defender.)

    Well, the news on Blizzards 2 posts in the Alpha forums have now had time to percolate around the wider Paladin community, so I thought it would be worth making my own analysis of the comments.

    With Paladins, Blizzard have to address both of the major role mechanic changes occurring in Wrath: the Unified Spellpower stat (no more +healing) and the "Tank specs get to do meaningful damage" philosophy. Given that to a great extent Druids already have the latter through an extremely efficient Feral tree, Paladins are the only class for which both are required. Hence, on the face of it, they have the most work to do with Paladins compared to other classes. This is especially the case if Blizzard want to redesign the class such that two or more specs gain benefit from any one stat or stat grouping (this is described pretty well by Rohan at Blessing of Kings). This is quite aside from any other buffs, mechanics changes and nerfs Blizzard may feel that the Paladin specs warrant.

    However, while on the face of it the statement by Blizzard is positive in that Paladins will be getting changes, the reality remains that their statement covers merely their already stated general mechanics changes and says nothing about anything else. It does not for instance indicate:

  • That Ret Paladins will have proper scaling for their damaging abilities (HoW, JoC/JoB, PPM Seals),
  • That Prot Paladins will scale better with warrior tanking plate and/or no longer depend solely on spell damage for threat scaling or not be as vulnerable to Mana Drain mechanics,
  • That Paladins are getting an entirely new energy system (i.e. mana for Paladins being scrapped,
  • Or that Holy Paladins will see much improved healing mechanics and mana regen.

  • I'm generally optimistic about Paladins going forward into Wrath, but I don't think we should be fooled into believing that this statement is more than it is; it's not final proof that Blizzard understand our concerns and that Paladins are getting a good seeing to (figuratively speaking of course). When the abilities and talent trees are finally released we need to continue to be diligent in our analysis, especially in regard to our AoE threat abilities and how they stack up with Deathknights and Warriors. Above all, we must make sure not to be carried away by the new 51pt talents.

    Further Reading:

    Tankspot Forum Discussion.
    Wow Paladin.

    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    "Paladins Are Changing ... More Than Any Other Class" - Blizz

    Currently doing the rounds on various Blogs and Alpha Leak forums are the following quotes from the Alpha forums:

    Complete Transcript here: "Quite honestly one of the reasons we saved paladins for last is because there is a lot we wanted to change with them. Paladins are changing probably more than any other class. The tiny little bit you heard at the WWI is just the beginning.

    The discussion about a new healing spell was just to say yes, we think paladins need another healing mechanic. It isn't finished yet. We don't want to just hand them a thinly disguised druid or priest spell. We also want paladins to tank more actively and want retribution paladins to have a little better control over their damage without the bursts feeling quite so random. (And no, that's not all we're looking at).

    It's all coming. It's just a lot of work. Try to stay positive. Everyone in the alpha was invited because they have a close connection to someone at Blizzard. You're here because we value your feedback."

    Then someone asked why they didnt do paladin stuff first, if it required more testing, because they had a problem with not having enough time to test seals and judgements during the original beta. The reply was:

    "That's a fair question. We knew we were going to make 3 pretty sweeping changes to classes in general that would all affect paladins. First we changed the way healing and damage stats work. Second, we changed the way party vs raid buffs worked. Third, we changed how much damage a tank is expected to deliver as well as reworking some of our itemization theories in general.

    We figured it was easier to tackle those issues on comparatively easy classes like the warrior and priest before figuring out how we were going to have to change the paladin. Hunters got pushed to the back for a similar reason -- we were overhauling how their pets worked and needed to nail those changes first before figuring out their new abilities and talents.

    We still feel like we're ahead of where we were on Burning Crusade with a more experienced team. So we're not yet panicked about having enough testing time."

    Both posts were again by Ghostcrawler (he made a post earlier on that I put on the old WotLKwiki talking about making paladins more mobile healers and vaguely making ret and prot better).

    It was posted by a long-time poster on the Official Paladin forums and comes complete with screenies of the Blue post (I won't post the guys name for fear of giving him any unwanted publicity). The next few weeks should be very interesting, neh?



    Saturday, July 05, 2008

    Resurrection and Back to the Front.

    Well for the first time since mid-March, and thanks to a mate with a well timed Scroll of Resurrection, I'm back in action in Azeroth and Outland. And coming back I realise just what I state I left my characters in.

  • No Worthwhile Primals
  • Only the Cheapest of Outland Herbs
  • No rep items
  • Only 75g between all four of my 70's

  • So, what does a guy who hasn't been logged in since 2.3.2 do with 10 days free play time? Well, pretty obvious really: check out the Sunwell Dailies, the Midsummer Seasonal content, level a Shaman alt a little, and spend a bit of time in a Battleground. Of course then I discovered at 1am that the Midsummer content was due to finish at some point (and I mean 'some point', I'd forgotten when exactly when the day time ticked over) in the morning, so there was a mad rush to go from 150 to 350 tickets and pick up the non-combat pet for my Paladin. I just managed to accomplish that at 2.55am, using the power of Wow Wiki and Alliance too busy socialising to want to bother little ol' me.

    With a bit of luck I'll get into some Heroics and possibly even Karazhan during my 10-day trial, and otherwise I'll be looking at playing around with a Shaman or Druid alt. Yay me ;).

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