Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Live Hotfix Incoming: JotW and Seal of Command.

Just posted on the Beta forums

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

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

To summarize:

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


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

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

Some good news though:

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008


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

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

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


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

How amusing.

Be afraid Hunters, be very afraid.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On Righteous Vengeance and Retribution Mana.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Retribution and Mana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Wrath Beta Build: [9138] *Facepalm*

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

So yes, nerfs abound in this build.


Net Effects:

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

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

Judgement Critical Damage reduced by 19%.*

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

Divine Storm Critical Damage reduced by 11%.*

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Europe Wrath Beta Ending?

Premade creation and character copies to the European Wrath of the Lich King Beta server have been down for the last week, not only stymieing my attempts to test out the missing 3% miss rates many Paladins are experiencing but also preventing a number of new EU Beta opt-ins from testing content.

Blizzard's presence on the EU Beta forums has always been low and it now seems to have dried up entirely, so attempting to get any answers from the horses mouth so to speak is impossible. With the servers now emptying as players move on to Live realms for Halloween and pre-Wrath World Events I have the feeling that the European Beta server will soon close up shop, probably in the next week or so and before the US Servers. With only one more build expected some time next week, featuring changes to Righteous Vengeance and the like, the value in keeping the realm open is pretty low.

Finally, A Plan For Ruin-EU.

I'm not sure I've blogged about the Ruin-EU Battlegroup before. I've certainly left enough comments in various places to to fulfil a minimum whining requirement, so I feel suitably qualified to comment on the new announced changes to the Battlegroup system in the EU.

First, some background. As I'm sure you all know Battlegroups were introduced with 1.12 across all realms in order to better facilitate PvP among realms with a high population imbalance or generally low numbers of PvP. The EU realms were in a difficult position with three server languages, and the result was that all servers were first divided by language and then apportioned into Battlegroups. Generally speaking this was a pretty successful exercise, but in every transaction there are inevitably losers and in this case the populations of EU-Ruin servers were probably one of them.

At TBC launch EU-Ruin consisted of 4 servers, less than any other EU Battlegroup. Other Battlegroups in other Language groups also had a low number of servers, far far fewer than the US average per BG. Ruin in particular had a difficulty because one of the realms, Steamwheedle Cartel, was a medium/low population RP realm not known for it's PvP. This seemed bizarre because other battlegroups had as many as 15 servers (now Blackout-EU has 18 servers!?), and was likely down to an infrastructure weakness which Blizzard chose not to sort out before 1.12.

The effect of this decision wasn't immediately apparent - levelling to 70 and doing the new instances took up much of the time in the first few months of The Burning Crusade. The first rumblings became public in April of 2007 due to a lack of active Battlegrounds at peak times of the day. Promises of action were given but remained unrealised. The Arenas suffered: 2v2 and 3v3 sessions would often feature the same opposition 4-5 times in every 10 and 5v5 was non-existent.

Understandably miffed, many players left their servers on Ruin for better things elsewhere, and in late 2007 populations seemed to plummet. This was probably most acute on Xavius, but also significantly affected SWC, to the extent that many T5/6 guilds disbanded or up-sticks and left to over servers (such as Earthen Ring). Few re-rolls or transfers to the server group caused the population to stagnate.

So now we have a new plan to deal with these issues, and it comes in two parts.

New Realms PvE Realms: Azuremyst and Terokkar

The basics
Realm names: Azuremyst and Terokkar
Language: English
Realm type: Normal (PvE)
Battlegroup: Ruin
Migration: No
Realm forums:
Azuremyst: http://forums.wow-europe.com/board.html?forumId=7100898
Terokkar: http://forums.wow-europe.com/board.html?forumId=7100897

In more words
Today we're opening two new English Normal/PvE realms, named Azuremyst and Terokkar, in the Ruin Battlegroup. These are fresh realms, thus no migration will be allowed to the realms during the first months.

This may help as it brings the number of servers in the Battlegroup up to 7, a much more respectable number. However I'm not convinced that there will be a significant number of people wanting to reset their playing experience to play on a fresh servers come the launch of Wrath (apart from those wanting the Scarab Lord title of course). They'll have to level all the way up to 80 to get to the end-game on a server where the short and long-term population would be extremely unpredictable. In addition, not withstanding the long term impacts of the latest changes, Ruin-EU still has a bad reputation for PvP which for good or ill is still a large part of the game. This will no doubt discourage players further from rerolling on Ruin as opposed to either remaining on their current servers.

Part the two is the following:

Cross-Language Battlegroups

To shorten the queues and provide greater access to warfare between factions, we are currently working on combining existing Battlegroups of different languages, with the aim of creating Battlegroups with higher populations. This change will affect both Battlegrounds and Arenas. Players from realms of different languages will only face each other as opponents in battle and will not be playing on the same faction in Battlegrounds, which will ensure that those playing on your side will speak the same language as you.

Please note that not all Battlegroups will be merged with another, and this feature will not be affecting the Russian-language Battlegroup. More details on this upcoming change will be provided as development nears completion.

To clarify, people from another language realm will only be opponents. Opponents may also be from your realm or other realms with the same language as you.

This was hinted at with the launch of 3.0.2, when several Battlegroups appeared to merge across language boundaries, though the 'same lauguage for allies' and 'no Russians' criteria weren't yet enforced.

So, is this the magic bullet for Battlegroups? Well, it's great news for all factions and servers in terms of Arena PvP - the effect will be a vast increase in the number of active 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 teams at any one time. At last Ruin may have some 5v5 Arena action! It will be interesting to find out if the Arena instance servers can handle it. For Battlegrounds however it is a mixed bag. The most heavily populated faction benefits significantly so as long as faction imbalances don't increase. Low population factions aren't quite so lucky: if they wouldn't have been able to field a full team pre-Merge then they will have exactly the same issues post-Merge as the queueing population hasn't changed due to different Languages not being able to be allies.

It's a shame that it's nearly impossible to run true multi-language Battlegroups as it would serve to greatly reduce queueing issues at the very least. Still, this will hopefully be a useful change, though it's a bit late coming.

Breakfast, The Most Important Meal of the Day

Sorry Josh, my Cleanse was resisted.

(Playing around with GIMP last night. What do you think?)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

WotLK World Event Now Up.

The Pre-WotLK World Event has just started on the live servers.

It looks like the Event started at Midnight tonight, so it should be up in a few hours on most US realms. And from the looks of things, it's not just a repeat of the old 1.11 World Event.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Did Blizzard Err in the Raid Nerf?

Okay, a slight break from your regularly scheduled Ret Paladin QQ-fest ;).


A significant number of bloggers, pretty much those who have been lucky enough to find and stay in a raid instance which doesn't crash every 5 minutes, have been commenting on how easy raiding has become in 3.0.2. Mr Big Bear Butt esq. says he "can no longer take pride in saying [he] downed something in Kara", echoing this post on Mystic Chicanery bemoaning the ease with which Voidreaver was dropped. Firelights' Guild has downed Illidan and HonorsHammer similarly cleared BT in record time.

The common theme is not criticism of how accessible these Raids have become, though there are many other blogs which have done just that. Instead there is a tendency to lament the fact that these instances simply don't present much of a challenge any more.

This is of course down to the changes brought by the latest Patch. The simplicity is partially due to the sheer DPS increase for some classes in the latest build. Ret Paladins are the most obvious example, but with the possible exception of Warlocks the same appears to be true for all classes. However the most significant impact could be the changes to Burning Crusade Raids brought in with the new patch:

To coincide with the upcoming new talents and mechanic changes for classes in the next patch, we are making some adjustments in existing raid content to provide a smooth transition when the upcoming patch is released. The creatures and bosses in raid dungeons that were introduced in The Burning Crusade will have their health reduced (30% reduction), and most will have their standard melee damage output reduced as well, but their spell and ability damage are not being changed. These changes are being made in all raid dungeons from Karazhan to Sunwell Plateau as well as the outdoor encounters of Doom Lord Kazzak and Doomwalker. On top of this Illidan is also doing his part and will stop casting Shear on players.(Source)

In addition Crushing Blows and the Sunwell Radiance buff were removed, sidestepping many of the gear and timing issues some Raid Encounters presented. The reasoning behind this was simple: the crushing blow mechanic was no longer appropriate given the changes to Warriors and Feral Druids, and with healers anticipating mana issues with the downranking nerf a shorter fight was appropriate. But if the impact of these adjustments have caused players to no longer find the instance a challenge are they good changes?

As video game players, casual or otherwise, all of need both a genuine challenge and a sense of accomplishment when overcoming these challenges in order to stay interested in a game. However one cannot exist without the other, and so if the challenge is gone just how long can we stay interested in a game?

In nerfing the instance to this extent Blizzard may have inadvertently shot themselves in the foot before they release Wrath of the Lich King. Server stability issues (a distinct worry for my in the Beta, and it seems that they have migrated to Live) won't help any, and any imbalance in PvP will only serve to increase the churn amongst those players secure in their position at the top for the last couple of Seasons. The great Achievement Rush of 2008 can't last forever (there aren't enough of them for a start) and there probably isn't enough challenging content to appease the masses. Unless ad-hoc Raid encounters against 20 Ret Paladins count.

The rumoured Pre-Wrath World Event, and Wrath itself, probably can't come soon enough.

Sometimes though, downing a boss still feels awesome.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

20 Second HoJ's... /Mourn

It went undocumented in the latest PTR build but a 20 second cooldown Hammer of Justice is a thing of the past. The Ret PvP set bonus was altered in 9095 to match the PvE Set Bonus: 1 second off Judgement Cooldown. This is the case for all PvP sets, not just the lvl80 Savage gear:

This should come as no surprise to many who thought that a 20 second cooldown, 7 second stun was beyond the pail. The net effect is that, with an assumed nerf to the Glyph of Hammer of Justice mooted earlier, in a PvP build HoJ will be down to a 30second cooldown from the 35sec cooldown in 2.4.3. A 30 Second cooldown stun is still good, especially with the change to Stun Resist mechanics in 3.0, but it emphasises the need for the interrupt component to be brought to a different skill or effect. Hopefully we'll see a more useful PvP set bonus in the coming patches (-cooldown to Freedom plz), but I fear that like Paladin Aura Radius and 11pt Prot talent it's very much on the back burner now.

Is Paladin lvl80 burst and medium level control going to be enough to make Ret viable in Season 5? Only time will tell but frankly I don't think that burst is enough with lvl80 HP levels and skills. Cleaving idiots in BG's to finish top of KB's with no deaths was easy in 2.4.3 and will probably be similarly easy in 3.0 at lvl80, but as we all know Arena's is a very different beast. More on that coming up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Build [9095]: A Small Taste of 3.0.3

Update: Rohan (Coriel on EJ) has tested a few of the talents and it appears that Art Of War has now been changed to increase damage by 4/8%, it simply isn't reflected in the tooltip. Righteous Vengeance now does nothing, likely in preparation for the new talent implementation in the next build.


WotLK Beta Build 9095 is in the process of being deployed to the Beta servers, with new changes which should provide a glimpse of further talent changes we should expect to see go Live before November the 14th. In the main they have been announced earlier or are Tooltip/bugfix changes. Here is the Paladin list datamined so far:


* Judgement of Light now grants attacks and spells made against the judged enemy a chance of healing the attacker. (Old - Didn't include spells)
* Judgement of Wisdom now unleashes the energy of a Seal spell to judge an enemy, giving each attack a chance to restore 2% of the attacker's maximum mana.


* Righteous Defense cooldown has been changed to 8 seconds. (Down from 10 seconds)
* Shield of Righteousness now has two ranks.
* ShoR (Rank 1) deals damage equal to your Block Value plus 300. Trainable at lvl75.
* ShoR (Rank 2) deals damage equal to Block Value plus 400. Trainable at lvl80.


* Infusion of Light now reduce the cast time of your next Flash of Light by 0.75/1.5 sec or Holy Light by 0.5/1 sec. (Old - Didn't affect Flash of Light)
* Judgements of the Pure now increases your casting and melee haste by 3/6/9/12/15% for 1 minute. (Up from 2/4/6/8/10%)
* Enlightened Judgements now increases the range of your Judgement spells by 15/30 yards. (Up from 10/20 yards)


* Hammer of the Righteous now causes 4 times your main hand damage per second. (Up from 3 times)
* Shield of the Templar now also reduces all damage taken by 1/2/3%.


* Sanctified Retribution now increase damage caused by targets affected by Retribution Aura by 3% [bringing this talent in line with the BM Hunter talent with which it shares a buff slot]


Remember, this is a patch to the Beta servers, not the live servers. The additional Ret changes from the previous post are not yet included, but given a typical 2 week turn-around time for changes announced on the forums to make it into the latest build I wouldn't be too concerned by this.

Of highest interest this patch are the changes to Prot, providing additional threat and mitigation in not unsubstantial amounts (3% mitigation is pretty big). The Holy changes are interesting, but we shall really have to wait and see just how they play out before making a judgement on them. It will be very interesting to see whether Judging can ever become a major part of the rotation; you're certainly penalised less in the new build, but we still need to find out if the high JoL/JoW proc rate is intended.

I'll try and keep this updated with any changes which can't be datamined and are only discovered through play-testing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Full Extent of the Ret Changes.

The extent of the hotfix nerfbat has just been communicated by Ghostcrawler.

As I stated yesterday, we are happy with Ret's PvE damage and sustatined damage in PvP, but were concerned that the burst damage in PvP could be too high. We discussed this for literally hours yesterday, which was certainly not the first time we have discussed the issue. Thus I hope these changes are not perceived as a knee-jerk reaction, but I am sure that will depend a great deal on which class you play. :)

Divine Storm -- the damage was changed from Holy to Physical. As you know, Holy damage is almost never mitigated and this talent could pack a lot into a very short time. This is a nerf to the ability's damage. This change is now active on Live.

Repentence -- this ability now lasts for only 6 seconds in PvP (down from 10). Obviously this is also a nerf. This change is also active on Live.

Art of War -- now affects all damage done by Judgements, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm (instead of critical strike damage). Net dps should be about the same but less bursty. This change will be made before Nov 13.

Righteous Vengeance -- now applies a dot affect similar to Deep Wounds (instead of critical strike damage). This ends up being a significant buff to the ability to make up for the damage lost to Divine Storm, but is also less bursty. This change will be made before Nov 13. This dot will also not break Repentence.

Glyph of Crusader Strike -- now reduces mana cost (instead of increased damage on stunned targets.) We thought paladins could stack too much damage vs. stunned targets. This change will be made before Nov 13.

We also fixed a bug with Seal and Judgement of Light that could sometimes result in too much healing.

In our tests, Retribution dps remains the same over longer periods of time, but they can't do quite so much damage in the initial few seconds of a PvP encounter.

I know Ret pallies feel a little picked on since we've made this mistake before of having them come out the gate too strong and then had to correct them. For that I do apologize. It's a difficult spec to balance since part of its design is to have large crits and stuns, which have obvious PvP implications. We are pretty confident this will not nerf pallies into the ground as I facetiously promised yesterday, but if we overdid it, we'll be happy to back off some of the changes.

On the other hand, maybe we'll see fewer BGs with 20 paladins on the opposing side and can get some reasonable feedback on all the other classes in the game.


A little more on the changes to Art of War and Righteous Fury (from the same thread)

Art of War was NOT majorly buffed. The damage should remain the same over time, but fewer gigantic crits. It will be something like +4 / 8% damage (instead of +10 / 20% crit), which should be the same overall assuming a crit rate of around 40%.

Righteous Vengeance was majorly buffed to make up for the Divine Storm nerf. It should end up at something like 10% of the crit damage each tick for 4 ticks of 2 seconds each (+40% and 8 sec total).

So basically, AoW will not boost crit damage as signficantly but overall damage for the affected abilities should remain the same. Righteous Vengeance though... if it rolls it's an extremely nasty talent. Nasty in a good way.

The change to Divine Storm is a shame because it fits in so well to the Paladin mold. And it was clearly better than Whirlwind. Now, though it's still a very nice talent, it's still a little disappointing. Giving it a minor coeff like CS would be nice.

I'm still a little surprised that Divine Shield isn't going to be looked at. Still, perhaps given the number of nerfs it undergone over the years another one would feel they've gone a little too far. If there are any further changes I'd expect that skill to be the first one looked at.

EDIT: I just want to be clear. Nothing we've seen thus far will make me stop playing my Paladin in Wrath, nor discourage me from speccing Ret at this time. For the full impact we are all going to have to wait for a little while and see what we're like at 80, only then will we be equipped to make a full Judgement.

How Do You Hotfix Burst...?

ADDED: Since writing I'm now aware of further nerfs, they are as follows:

-Judgment of light and seal of light reduced by around 50%
-Judgment of command dmg reduced by around 25%
-Divine storm dose 100% physical dmg instead of 100% holy dmg.

(the judgement nerfs are probably nerfs to its Attack Power coeff)


So they are obviously targeting Judgement damage and SoC for now. We shall see how this pans out, but totalled up they start to account for a very signifcant PvE DPS nerf (the full extent of changes need to be datamined as Blizzard is not talking about exactly what they are doing). This is where lack of communication will become most frustrating, so hopefully GC will be around to discuss things this afternoon/later in the week.


With paladins described as 'OP' by many, and apparently seen as over the top by Blizzard at lvl70, how do you hotfix burst without crippling sustained DPS? Well the first step has been taken by Blizzard and Divine Storm has been hotfixed to inflict Physical damage on the Live servers. The net effect is a drop of 1k or more damage on a critical effect against moderately armoured targets, significantly less of a drop on leather or cloth armour levels. And on the flip side means that Divine Storm can be used whilst Silenced (sorry Shadowpriests :( ).

This change really isn't that big a deal so long as the ~5% DPS loss for PvE raiding is made up elsewhere. We have to ask ourselves therefore if this will placate the screaming masses of 'Nerf Ret' claims? Short answer: No. Long answer:


Sorry, channeling Yahtzee again.

Anyway, the issue is that Paladin damage mechanics are inherently bursty (well, that and everyone and their dog believing Paladins doing damage is a crime against nature). Indeed their bursty mechanics are the only thing which makes them at all viable in PvP as part of a Cleave team, not BoP nor BoF nor heals or Divine Shield.

The DPS and PvP DPS roles working from the same mechanic playbook doesn't help. Rogues, Fury Warriors, Enhancement Shaman... all their DPS mechanics are more continuous DPS curves due to dual wielding. They fill a 10sec period with dozens of strikes, procs and auto-attacks, each one contributing a small amount to a large total. Paladins by comparison have maybe a dozen strikes plus procs total in a similar period, each contributing a significant amount to a similar DPS total. To put it simply, damage comes in huge chunks rather than small blobs and it will always be frontloaded to a much larger extent than any other class except perhaps the forthcoming Deathknight class.

There are a few things that can be done to eliminate Paladin burst in PvP, but I disagree with Rohan over removing Seal Procs from instant attacks being a solution. Weapon procs from instant attacks right now contribute significantly to Paladin DPS, and if you drop that DPS you're going to have to make up for it elsewhere. The problem is, there's not a lot elsewhere that you could make up that damage, we still only have 4 attacks in which to allocate this DPS delta: Auto-attack, Judgement, CS and DS all of which may be front-loaded. Nor do we have any DoT mechanics part of our general DPS rotation upon which to place this shortfall.

Another option could be to place a longer internal cooldown on Seal of Command on the order of 2 GCD's, or indeed removing it entirely. In such a circumstance one of the other Seals would take over in a PVP situation and our maximum burst potential - the 'once in a blue moon that very rarely happens but everyone has a screenshot of it bookmarked' occurrence - would be significantly reduced perhaps to acceptable levels. So, what's the issue with this?

It reduces our burst damage to around that of an Arms Warrior in PvP, but without any of the tools which make warriors such a force to be reckoned with in PvP such as MS, intercept, interrupts snares etc. Indeed arguably it would reduce our maximum burst DPS potential to below that in 2.4.3 /w Windfury at a time when Windfury as it used to be only exists for Shaman.

I think what I'm getting at is that there is no simple solution for PvP, and in PvE burst damage isn't really an issue. But Burst is all we have, take that away and we'll be just as good (or more accurately bad) in Arena PvP as we always were. The answer to this problem, if it is indeed that much of a problem (I'm still unconvinced it will be come 80), is going to take a whole lot more than a few discrete tweaks here and there, and may well warrant addressing the bizarre shortfall of Paladin PvP abilities.

All that said, Hand spells rock. Hotkey them all!

EDIT: Klepsacovic over at Troll Racials has a much more all encompassing approach. I'm not sure that distributing Crit Multiplier effects over all abilitites whilst reducing the multiplier would have the desired effect he seek, but I can certainly agree in principle to Divine Shield moving from a 50% attack speed slow to a damage reduction (I'd go further and drop it by 20+%).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Post #100: ZOMG Ret!

I was trying to think of an interesting and exciting topic for my 100th post but my brain is total phail this evening. So instead I give you a thread Ghostcrawler has posted on the beta forums addressing the apparent issues with Ret Burst Damage:

Since these threads seem to be proliferating, I figure'd I'd just start a new one. Here is a quick Q&A.

Q: Is Ret OP?
A: Perhaps. We think Ret's dps isn't abnormally high in PvE, and may not even be high in PvP over the course of a long fight. Where we are worried is how much damage Ret can do up front. It's also Holy damage, which isn't a big deal when you're considering a fully sundered mob, but can turn into a lot of damage in PvP.

Q: Are we going to nerf Ret?
A: TO THE GROUND BABY. Okay, not really, but sometimes I can't resist. We'll see how much that quote comes back to haunt me. We will probably be making some changes soon, perhaps even hotfixes. We want to be very surgical about what we do. We don't want to overdo it, and we don't want to hurt their sustained PvE damage. When we've decided, I'll make sure you all know.

Q: Why did it take us this long to admit there was a problem when EVERYONE knew about it?
A: A couple of weeks ago there were some bugs with weapon equipping that caused some problems that of course were being exploited. We didn't want to nerf Ret TO THE GROUND BABY only to discover that the weapon problem was causing 90% of it.

Q: Enough about Ret. Unholy death knights are worse!
A: That wasn't a question, but we think we have Unholy in a better place now. We made some changes to a few deep talents (that the DK community is already aware of, so don't fret) to get Unholy's dps more in line. Also, you aren't going to see any PvP DKs for a long time, so we need to focus on paladins for now.

Q: Hi. Thanks for the update. While you're here, can I ask you all these other offtopic questions about paladins or the game in general?
A: ...


Worryingly, this comes off the back of a bugged Live patch version. I hope Blizzard are very careful with this, but I'd be lying if I didn't recall with trepidation the long-term PvP and PvE viability issues because of lvl60 nerfs to TBC talents. So, mechanics changes abound in the next few weeks I think, most likely as hotfixes to stop to QQing.

How's 3.0 For You?

So, some of you will have had an evening to test out the changes introduced in Patch 3.0.2. How has it been? What do you think of your class skills, achievements and overall play experience? With any luck the rest of the US and some of the EU will have had an opportunity by the end of today.

I think it's worth noting that no major patch has yet been released which didn't have a few bugs that needed to be cleared either through hotfixes or small patches. Also even though the PTR is down testing is still ongoing at 80, so it may well be that the abilities and strength you have now aren't totally representative of your skills and talents at 80. In addition, the latest Beta Build (9061) introduced a huge number of new bugs to skills which may or may not be reflected in the build on the Live servers. Early indications on EJ are that a number of our skills, including Seal of Command's Proc, have bizarre scaling coeff's which aren't reflected in the tooltip nor previous builds. If that's true it would be a shame, I'd like to see how well the classes balance at 70 with unbugged skills.

Have fun and keep on trucking.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How To Wig Out Players #419

Post something like this on the Official Forums:


The build going live right now has a lot of class changes. But it doesn't have all of them. Some changes, particularly those that affect high level abilities and some of the changes we made more recently won't be in today's build. But you will get them all on or before Nov 13 when Lich King goes live.

While we have done some balance testing at level 70 with the changes, we tested at level 80 a lot more, since so many players are focused on Arena combat and endgame raiding. Balance at 70 is going to feel different from 80. :)

If you played WoW at the 2.0 version before Burning Crusade shipped, you'll remember that this can be a crazy time. You have new abilities through talents, but not new core abilities, and not enough talent points to get everything. There are major gear changes, major mechanic changes, and a lot of class changes. Some of those are going to take some getting used to, and despite our best efforts, it's entirely possible we'll find something broken that needs to be hotfixed right away.

The game should start feeling a little more normal again when Lich King ships. It's cool to keep providing feedback and testing things out. Just try and be a little patient and understanding over the next couple of weeks as players learn about the changes (especially players who weren't in the beta), get all of their broken mods working, and we make whatever fixes we need to make on our end.

Common Official Forum Interpretation: "OMG No 46 and 51pt Talents!!!".

Logical Interpretation: "The build being pushed to Live is an earlier build than is current on the PTR servers, so won't contain all the latest changes. You still get the updated talent trees, class mechanics etc. The forthcoming Patch 3.0.3 will have all the latest changes you've seen on the PTR, and a few more. Don't expect the game to be fully balanced for lvl70 play."

Actual Outcome: We'll find out soon.

EDIT: The peeps over at EJ and MMO-Champion log the patch as [9056]. This is in between the two patches which were deployed to the PTR last week, so it is certain that all but the very latest changes are on Live.

EDIT2: The Patch Notes you'll read with the download aren't correct. In fact, they are missing one heck of a lot of stuff. If you don't see it in the patch notes don't draw any premature conclusions.

Paladin - 3.0 Need to Know.

Well, as you should all be aware Patch 3.0.2 will hit the servers tonight in the US, and on Wednesday morning in Europe. I was going to post the full Paladin patch notes but you'll probably see 100 and 1 links to them over the next few days. Instead I'll link you to a movie created by Invisusira, creator of the 'Kitten Rescue' series of Tankadin movies (and more besides) and commentator at large on the Maintankadin forums, describing the mechanic changes and new skills available. And it's got sound!

(Direct Link)

The Build is an earlier one than the current PTR but it's the best source I've found to convey the information in a way that is easy to consume. At some point I'll do a write-up of the undocumented changes in Patch 3.0.2 (though I need to know the full documented notes first) but if there is anything you come across over the next few or weeks which is confusing either drop me an e-mail or post comments and I'll endeavour to do what I can to answer any questions you may have.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Starcraft 2: The Trilogy.

(taking a momentary break from WoWBlogging)

Starcraft 2 is to be divided up into 3 parts.


I don't mind saying that Starcraft holds a special place in me heart. Hell, all Blizzard games do, but Starcraft is pretty much the only RTS I've played that I actively enjoyed rather than played because it's what all my mates were playing. I love the storylines, the units, the strategies and tactics you can bring to bear etc. In theory releasing it in three parts is a good thing because it allows them to concentrate on the storyline more. In practice... it can feel like an imposition, or like you are paying for half a game (or for lots of cutscenes and little gameplay), or like they are fleecing you for cash.

Look at Half-Life 2, Valves foray into episodic gaming which this venture resembles. Original game... great. Finished on a cliff-hanger but we can all cope with that, and was fairly long to boot as the genre goes. They announced that HL2:Episode 1 would continue where HL2 left off, which it did 2 years later. Now 4 years after HL2's release and Episode 3, the supposed final chapter, is no-where to be seen. Am I going to be happy if 4 years after SC2: Wings of Liberty is released I'm still waiting for Legacy of the Void? Plus, just how are they going to price these things, full £35 retail for each? Blow that for a game of soldiers.

(of course, this doesn't address any issue with Online gameplay... I wonder how that's going to be handled).

Try to envision the classic distribution models as a restaurant meal. The MMO is an all you can eat buffet - pay at the door and for a seat at an hourly rate and consume as much as you want. You're not left thinking that you've not had a full meal and they're always adding new stuff to the buffet counter to try. Standard Expansions for games are like the wine list - you can have them, or not, but they only serve to enhance the meal without trying to be, or claiming to be a meal on their own.

The proposed Starcraft 2 model is a three course meal where you diligently plan what you eat from a menu which has no price guide. The first course is served, and it's great but you're acutely aware that it's just the starter. You look around for a waiter but none can be seen- no wait, there's a guy in Blue at the door. You cough rather loudly and he comes over, looking chagrined as you explain that the starter was fine but you'd really like your main course now. You go through what you'd like for your next course and his expression goes through agonised pangs, relating that the meal you thought you were getting isn't what you will be getting because of X/Y/Z reason. But, you can accept that, after all you're still hungry and you went through a very nice starter what seemed like an age ago, and so you order what you want and ask when it will be ready. He replies to you, in a neutral tone:

"The Chef, he say's it will be ready when it's ready".

And you wake up in an overnight cell charged with rectally force-feeding breadsticks to him.


Okay, that may be a little unfair, but I think it adequately conveys my concern over this announcement and what we know of it so far. Hopefully more will be revealed tomorrow including a firm narrow release schedule and more to assuage the first inkling of discomfort of the Starcraft online playing community. This won't by itself deter me from getting SC:2, but I will now definitely be reading reviews very closely before I buy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Panic Over for Retribution?

From Blizzcon '08 (transcription posted by Anauel on Elitist Jerks):

"Concern about ret pallies doing burst damage." Applause. "However with that said I've raided as a ret paladin. Are you guys going to tone down burst damage in PvP for ret paladins and keep good damage in raids? We've been waiting for a long time to become raid viable and don't want to loose that." GC: "Lots of bugs in beta that made [ret paladins] do more DPS... we don't think [current damage] is way off, honestly." GC: "Don't nerf me bro!" (Tons of laughter). Chilton: "We've tried to take it away from the uncontrollable proc damage...we want them to feel strong...we want to put a kill in the hands of a player [,not luck]."

So, sounds like everything may well be fine, at least until we get some proper Arena PvP at 80.

*fingers crossed*

Thanks for the link to Warcraft Radio's stream Chrom!

Task for the Weekend: Find Blizzcon News.

Yep. Not having the opportunity to go to Blizzcon (*shakes fist at finances and geographic location*) I'll be scouring the intertrons for Paladin/Warcraft/Anything Interesting Blizzcon news and video. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to a be a good streaming resource for the Panels that I want to see so I'll have to rely on the reporting of fansites and blogs for it. Amusingly Youtube will also be a pretty good resource in the days after Blizzcon if past years are anything to go by, must be all those intrepid bloggers taking video and then frantically posting it. ;)

So, if I see anything interesting I'll be sure to throw it up on the Blog as a link or something. Equally if any of your guys see an interesting tidbit of information do link it to me in comments.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the Bubble-hearth Paladin Blizzcon goodie-bag item here it is on MMO-champion:

My Secret Is Out.


It was my own fault. If I hadn't missed the train it never would have happened. I would have left myself plenty of time to get home, finish up and fix it so they would never have known. It was inevitable that they would find out eventually, but why did it have to be today, when everything was going so well?

I suppose that my first mistake was trying to clean them all with so little time to spare. But hey, I had plenty of time, or so I thought. The worst that could happen is one or two might going missing, but it'd surely be one of the useless ones. Wouldn't it?

It's not like it's such a big deal. So everything takes me a little longer, it's not like you need to be quick off the draw all the time, is it? I died a few times on Aran and Netherspite, show me someone who hasn't. I could learn to change any time I want, if I had to.

And my Arena partner... she told me that she was happy with at 1450, that we were 'just starting out'. She didn't need to go spamming it in General like that.

Let this be a lesson: "Don't clen your keybord just before rid."

My nme is Tim, 'nd I'm Keybord Turner.

Thursday, October 09, 2008



PvP is tough because if you visit every class forum, you'll find a long list of abilities that the class *must have* in order to be PvP competitive, followed by the statement of fact that this class is getting destroyed in PvP.

Now if you ignore the Retadins and Unholy DKs who are probably broken somehow, who is winning all of these fights that everyone is losing?

To use just one example from the list: Do warriors *need* Piercing Howl to be viable? I'm not sure. It's a pretty good ability considering how many enemies it can affect. It is available in a fairly early yalent, and even if you skip it, you have an alternative: Hamstring usually is the snare by which all others are compared.

In PvE we can do a lot of tests to try and figure out bugs and generate our own numbers. It's a lot harder for PvP because you just have to play a million bouts and compare to videos and antecdotal information people post online. We think we know what is going on, but it's hard to get a reaity check on it like we do with PvE. (Source)

This isn't the first time that GC has referred to Ret being 'broken'. "Echoes of Doom" takes on menacing overtones.

On a side note, if there's to be a new 3.0.2 PTR/Beta build before 3.0 goes live we can probably expect it later today.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nothing Much in Build [9061]

Just a few bugfixes and minor changes for classes in this build (gogo more threat for Hunter Pets). The Paladin changes outlined by Ghostcrawler yesterday aren't as yet included, but it is nice to see that the previous nerfs to Judgement of Wisdom and Light have been reversed. In fact, it looks like it may now be bugged in the other direction:

From the looks of things the internal cooldown has been totally removed in this build and we're now back to a 50% flat proc chance, maybe closer to 100%. Perhaps I should stay quiet though ;).

This feels like a last bug-fix push for 3.0.2. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More Paladin Changes To Come.

Ghostcrawler earlier posted a list of the Paladin changes we can expect to see within the next couple of Beta builds:

Righteous Defense -- cooldown lowered to 8 sec. It had been 10 sec recently and is 15 sec on live.

Infusion of Light -- now affects Flash of Light or Holy Light. Flash of Light is reduced to 0 cast time with 2 ranks, meaning that if you're running around and get a Holy Shock crit, you can also Flash without stopping.

Judgements of the Pure -- haste benefit now up to 15% with 5 ranks (was 10%).

Enlightened Judgements -- range benefit is now 30 yards with 2 ranks (was 20). This means you can judge or heal from the same range without having to run around so much.

Bacon of Light -- no change here, but I can never miss an opportunity to call it Bacon.


All in all these are a nice set of buffs. The Tankadin community at large is still a little worried about Righteous Defense, more due to the multi-target aspect in specific raid encounters than a long cooldown, but are unlikely to look this gift horse in the mouth. The Infusion Of Light change is probably the ideal compromise if Blizzard feels that instant cast Holy Lights truly are an issue; I'm not sure that I'm convinced, nor that an Instant FoL is all that to write home about in comparison for a healing build (as opposed to Retribution).

When it comes to Judgements for Holy there is still something missing. A 15% Haste Buff for 1 minute is a huge increase to throughput, but somehow it seems... meh? Part of the issue is undoubtedly that you have to Judge to get the buff, not only swallowing a GCD but also performing an action that just seems out of character for a Healer. The Judgement debuff effect still only lasts for 20secs so keeping the debuff effect up is quite a GCD intensive task, though if the nerfs to JoW and JoL remain unchanged that is unlikely to matter. It is essentially 7 talent points for the ability to gain 15% haste (less a GCD or three), and when seen in those terms reinforces how underwhelming it feels.

Whilst these changes are going in the right direction, and should finally eliminate the desire to run a heavy Ret healing build for healing, Holy still lacks the punch we should see deep in the Talent Trees. Beacon, much to my surprise to be perfectly honest, is looking pretty handy for raiding in 10- and 25-man Naxx (though it does require a lot of co-ordination by all accounts) but it seems like a hell of a trudge through uninspiring talents to get there.

The only question now is whether this will make the Pre-Wrath patch. It seems reasonable that if there is another build tonight or tomorrow then it may reach 3.0.2 on Tuesday of next week. Blizzcon this weekend is a pretty big impediment though, so it may be that it's delayed till November. That's not the end of the world, you should still be able to heal well enough for the TBC raiding instances should you decide to do them.

I'd like to see more significant changes throughout Holy (*glares at Cleanse talents*) and the odd new talent at 11pts, but if the first Paladin reaches level 80 and has these talents to work with I'll see it as a qualified success.

One Week Left.

One Week Left...

One week to get your Amani War Bear...

One week to earn your Champion of the Naaru Title...

One week to attain Hand Of A'dal Status..

...and one week until you all complain that Ret Paladins are Overpowered.

Storms a coming.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pre-Wrath Preparation: See The World.

My worries over lag come the Live launch of Wrath have been allayed somewhat with the latest build, though I fancy that there are still a few niggles to be sorted before it's truly ready for prime-time. With the introduction of pre-made characters and a whole load of new keys being sent out the Europe Beta Servers seem to be getting busier by the day. In a effort to keep the game fresh when I buy the Expansion I'm going to stop questing for some time on the Beta servers now that I'm level 77. Instead I'm checking out those Achievements that I can reasonably complete within my stilted play-time, the first of which being the World Explorer Achievement.

World Explorer is possibly the easiest Achievement in the game that actually provides a meaningful reward. You'll have completed the vast majority of it already if you've been playing the game since Launch, and probably even if you haven't. However it can't be completed fully without the Expansion: you need that pesky Cold Weather Flying skill and an open Northrend before it's possible.

It has 4 parts: 'Explore Kalimdor', 'Explore Eastern Kingdoms', 'Explore Outland' and 'Explore Northrend'. You have to explore the whole map for each Zone so that every area is uncovered. You don't have to go to every point of interest though, only the ones which uncover part of the Zone map (which are conveniently listed as part of the achievement). The latter part also confers the rather swanky 'Tabard of the Explorer'. Obviously you can't complete that one until you get to lvl77 as many points of interest are well out of reach of a land mount.

So what do you get? Well, the afore-mentioned Tabard and a title, 'the Explorer'. Not bad given that you'll have most of it done through general questing. It's not Chef, but quite serviceable nonetheless. So, if you're keen on Tabards Titles or Achievements and fancy something to fill the idle hours between now and November, See The World!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Glyphing For Victory in Build [9038]

The Server has yet again been taken down for a new Beta build, which for those of you counting is the second this past week, but there aren't that many changes for Paladins datamined so far. There are a few bug-fixes which may make it into the build but can't be mined so keep your eyes open tomorrow (my time) for bugfixes to previous talents or other mechanic changes. Anyway, without further ado here is the Paladin changelog so far:


* Divine Plea - You gain 25% of your total mana over 15 sec, but the amount healed by your spells is reduced by 20%. (Down from 100%) [note, can now also be dispelled]


* Glyph of Flash of Light - Your Flash of Light heals for 50% less initially, but also heals for 140% of its inital effect over 12 sec. (Down from 15 seconds)
* Glyph of Holy Light - Your Holy Light grants 10% of its heal amount to up to 5 friendly targets within 100 yds (up from 5 yds) of the initial target.


The change to Divine Plea was announced prior to this patch by GC, which given how swiftly it's been made implies that the change had already taken place before 9014 was released. It's a very nice PvE change, and whilst it being dispellable may not be fantastic for PvP it's probably a whole lot better than the 100% healing reduction mechanic. No news yet on Infusion of Light being un-nerfed.

The Glyph of Flash Of Light is more powerful than its previous incarnation, but it really strikes me as a very situational two-edged Glyph. It may be that the method of refreshing the FoL HoT works such that no potential healing is lost, that probably needs to be investigated. The situational nature of Glyphs and how relatively difficult it is to swap them mid-raid is a huge weakness for the Glyphing system as a whole, and may lead to a large number simply going unused. But that's a topic for another day.

The Glyph of Holy Light always had potential but a 5 yard radius is too unreliable in a raid setting, especially against bosses with large hit-boxes or strong anti-melee mechanics. Most Beta Paladins provided feedback to this effect and this is the result: the premier Holy Paladin Glyph. Hell, it may be the best healing Glyph in the game so far. At 100 yards you're pretty much assured that the splash effect will hit 5 of your raid members, increasing the effective healing of your HL by 50%. Even at 10 yards (the presumed value if the above turns out to be yet another tooltip typo) you've got a very good chance of hitting all of your melee DPS.

With good group co-ordination this spell opens up whole new avenues of gameplay for the Holy Paladin and provides us some leeway in scenario's where we are most vulnerable: AoE. It's certainly not the be-all and end-all, but when you compare it to the other Major Glyphs most healers have to play with it's pretty darn good. Most importantly it's free extra healing, much like Judgement of Light, which is never to be sniffed at when the opportunity cost is so low. My only unease is over whether a Glyph should be able to make game-changing mechanic changes or fill gaping hole in necessary class functionality.

Hopefully there are some more interesting changes to come. I'd expect one more build early next week before Blizzcon, but don't be surprised if 9038 is the build that goes Live on the 14th if it's stable and has no game-breaking bugs.

*note to self: write up a full Paladin change-log for 3.0.2*

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Sane Plea to the Divine?

Well, with the mass complaints on the Beta Paladin forums something had to give:

We are still showing good healing from Holy paladins. However, we are getting feedback that they may be struggling with mana and perhaps even with boredom. To help with both of these potential problems, We are going to change Divine Plea to only reduce your healing by 20% (up from 100%). However, the original nerf to the spell was partially because of it being difficult to stop a paladin in PvP, so we are going to make the effect dispellable.

We're still taking a look at some of Holy's deep talents and I do want to acknowledge that there have been many great suggestions to change some of those.

We understand that some Holy paladins still feel that their movement and group healing mechanics aren't sufficient yet. However, we still like Bacon of Light , Holy Shock and talents like Infusion of Light to help with these problems. We want to get a few of the kinks out and see them in action more before making further changes here.

We also want to reiterate that measuring healing is much tougher than estimating dps or tank mitigation. While healing throughput and efficiency are important, so is knowing who to heal when and with what spell. We're going to keep a close eye on this through the rest of beta, in the Burning Crusade patch and when Lich King goes live.

Thank you, as always, for your feedback. (Source)

So, it was PvP that caused it to be nerfed after all. Well, I'm not surprised in this, but maybe a little disappointed. However for PvE the skill can now finally stand on its own two feet.

I'm still extremely concerned by how easy it is to dispell critical Paladin buffs in PvP, and how relatively difficult it is for us to dispell debuffs. I also feel that mobility and vulnerability to cast lock-out are big issues for PvP and PvE that can't be easily addressed by attempting to balance both. If nothing else, for Holy Paladin sanity alone Infusion of Light needs to be de-nerfed (perhaps by causing the casting cost to reduce by 2 secs, and thus you need to get at least one non-instant HL off in the preceeding 10 seconds to make it instant). The previous Holy Paladin incarnation, in just the last beta build, was fun and much more interactive than the TBC incarnation. Just not having to stand in one place to heal was a big step up, which in itself is a poor indictment of the TBC Paladin.

With the Beta swiftly coming to an end now (I'd predict only about a month left, maybe less) time for new abilities and mechanics has probably run out. As with the Hunter Aspect Mastery new talents will probably be re-visited after the mania of Nov. 13th, talents such as Prot's ever elusive 11pt talent or Aura Mastery being made baseline. The pressure on Blizzard to finalise things and send it off to QA for testing is getting palpable, and so we should all take a step back and elect to live broadly with what we have. Minor (or major) tweaks to what we have now is the order of the day, new skills and talents to address major shortfalls that players have identified but Blizzard hasn't will be seen only in 3.1.

EDIT: Siha at Banana Shoulders has a pretty good summary of events.

3.0.2 Due 14th October.

We’re currently planning to end the fourth Arena season on October 14, 2008, and as always -- this date could easily change. This Arena Season is only ending in respect to the ladder, meaning we'll be taking a snapshot of the season's ladder and then go through our normal process to determine who is eligible for the end-of-season rewards. This process should take approximately one week. It's very important for players who feel that they may be eligible for the arena-specific title and/or Armored Nether Drake to refrain from transferring their character to another realm between the date outlined above, and when the end-of-season rewards are physically awarded.

Upon the end of this Arena Season, teams and ratings will not be wiped, and will carry forward allowing players to earn points each week and purchase gear until the launch of the expansion (November 13, 2008). (Source)

Wowinsider are surmising, and I agree based on a previous announcement, that this means 3.0.2 is due in 2 weeks time. This also gives us a month of pre-Wrath 3.0, including a World Event, to sate us until the 14th of November.

Build [9014]; It's Over 9000!

Not many changes in last nights build, and they are not great tbh :/


* Divine Plea changed to : You gain 25% of your total mana over 15 sec (Old - 10 sec), but the amount healed by your spells is reduced by 100%. (Old - 50%) [Tooltip change. This one has been in since the last patch]


* Judgements of the Pure now lasts 1 minute. (Up from 30 seconds) [Probably needed to happen, but it doesn't make the talent much more interesting. It's a net gain, but not by much]
* Infusion of the Light now reduces the cast time of your next Holy Light spell by 0.5/1sec. (Down from 1.25/2.5 sec) [A very, very hefty nerf. Now this is a much less useful PvP skill as you can't cast Holy Lights whilst on the move, though presumably if you take this and Light's Grace you can reduce its casting speed to 1 sec. Still, if the aim was to encourage more people into Holy this wasn't a good start]


* Judgement of the Wise has been changed to grant you 33% of your base mana instead of 20% of your maximum mana. [As inticipated, though 33% of base is a little low IMO.]

* Hammer of the Righteous now does damage equal to 4 times the weapon swing DPS (up from 3) [This is a buff, and probably puts physical tanking weapons higher than equivalent ilvl spell damage weapons in terms of threat. Pretty much necessary unless you wanted a whole load of caster QQ in Wrath.]

Glyphs (Full List)

* Glyph of Exorcism - Your Exorcism also interrupts spellcasting for 2 sec.[Still pretty much useless without the ability to target non-undead]
* Glyph of Flash of Light - Your Flash of Light heals for 50% less initially, but also heals for 140% (down from 200%) of its inital effect over 15 sec.
* Glyph of the Warhorse - Removed
* Glyph of the Wise - Reduces the mana cost of your Seal of Wisdom spell by 50%.[*yawn]

All in all, not a good set of changes.


Some other changes which are as yet unconfirmed:

A second-hand account at BoKings states that Judgement of Wisdom's internal cooldown is now raid-wide. If this is correct it means that the JoW proc effect can now only trigger once for any member of the raid every 4 seconds, which reduces effective raid-wide mana returns by 90% assuming you have 10 offensive casters in your raid (a low-ball estimate). If similar is true for JoLight then Judgement debuffs are effectively worthless for PvE.

On the positive side of things, Sacred Shield appears to be getting a 75% Spell Damage Coeff on each activation, meaning that with 1500 SD a single shield will absorb 1625 (1500*0.75 + 500) damage. This is effectively really cheap pre-emptive healing, but may well play havoc with Tank power mechanics. For raid healing it's a cheap heal-over-time which requires continuous damage to be effective. This seems a little high and it's probably unlikely that this will get into the 3.0 release intact. Unfortunately it also doesn't appear to scale at all with Sheath of Light, which is a huge blow in its value to Ret Paladins (and means that Ret doesn't get any new spells for 71-80). I believe it's also still dispellable too, making it borderline for PvP.

The most significant news though remains the nerf to the Holy Tree. From my point of view it means that Holy Paladins are doing exactly what they were doing in TBC: spamming heals. Interesting mechanics have been removed, or gutted into insensibility. Many Paladins on EJ are stating that they would rather try a 28/0/43 Sheathbot build than current deep Holy, and I have to say that in its current state they probably wouldn't be wrong.

Deep Holy has gone from interesting but flawed to lacklustre. Paladin raid utility has been gutted. If one were to look at 2.4 vs the current 3.0 build I think you'd struggle to see how any spec other than Ret has come out ahead.

Thorgred at EJ has a good run-down of GC's commentary on Holy, and it shows just how deep the disconnect between theorycrafters and devs. goes.

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