Friday, January 30, 2009

Like the Dodo that Swallowed a Mobile Phone.

Dead, except for the occasional beep. That is the status of my PC, and right now I'm struggling hard not to take a baseball bat to it Office Space style.

Such can be the pitfalls of self-built PC's. Not so much with the 'it went wrong' part, I'm pretty sure that self-builds have no higher failure rate than off-the-shelf, but more generally because when it does go wrong you have no-one to phone up and swear at. You have no outside corporation who can pick it up to take away to diagnose the failure and quote you a price for fixing it. You have no safety-net and only have yourself to blame. Anything you do to try and fix it comes straight out of your pocket, whether it works or not.

I'm pretty sure that the Mobo is dead. It's a Gigabyte P35-DS3R which apparently has prior for cold boot errors that roughly fit the symptoms. But there is no point in spending £50 in replacing it when it could just as easily be the CPU, or dead memory, or a series of other things. Throwing good money after bad is something I've done before and I'm not willing to do again, even for the sake of £60.

Ho-hum, it was probably my own fault for having too much fun playing. I should have suspected that something would happen when I downed Sartharion earlier in the week, and I was looking forward to Naxx tomorrow with my new guild. This weekend will instead probably consist of drowning in self-pity and trying to set-up this laptop correctly.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Weekend Activities.

This weekend, I mostly did:

1) Elder Tracking. Still some of the Northrend dungeons to go. Hopefully they will turn up as Heroic Dailies over the holiday.

2) Random achievement completion. Having wiped on Skaldi's gauntlet event in Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle three times we got our crap together and completed the criteria for Lodi Dodi We Loves the Skadi and My Girl Loves to Skadi All the Time. Kings Bane and On The Rocks were similarly completed without too much difficulty in UP and UK respectively. I'm tempted to say those achievements should be tweaked a little given that three of the five party members were newbies to these instances.

3) The odd old-world quest. Now that the quest completion requirements for Loremaster have been reduced and I'm only 150 off 3000 Quests it's about time I pushed on to get them. Still plenty to go with the Loremaster (150+ in Kalimdor at least) but it shouldn't be too long before I hit 3000. It's worth noting that the Elder quests count towards your 3000, but not. the Loremaster quests.

4) Trying the new Wintersgrasp, which put me in mind of

5) Spent the rest of the weekend listening to 1980's and 90's cartoon themes. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and tbh I genuinely think they were better than today's anime-esq dross.

ASIDE: I hope the Love Fool in Naxx is easy to get to, otherwise I can see the Valentines achievement being a real PITA.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Did You Feel That? Yeah, You've Just Been Hotfixed.

I hope you enjoyed the immense power of the Glyph of Holy Light while it lasted. After a couple of evenings of Naxx/Sarth/Maggy-25 it's now down to an 8yrd radius, which is still a net buff from 3.0.3 but will have the same issue as '0.3's Glyph. Yes, large hitbox mobs causing even melee characters to be out of range will remain a bane of this Glyph.


This glyph is vastly overpowered. We are hotfixing the range from 20 yards down to 8 yards.

In its current form it has basically become "proc a Circle of Healing" in the same patch that we nerfed Circle of Healing. (Source)

The logic of the statement is sound: to make Holy Light an extremely powerful AoE heal without a cooldown in a patch which nerfed CoH and Wild Growth (?) sends the wrong message. My solution would be to keep the range and put an internal cooldown on it instead; right now it is still a "proc a Circle of Healing" effect but with a much smaller radius. In the long term, linking this to Holy Shock would be much more sensible. The debate will be endless though, and we'll come back to the reality of poor quality Glyphs and a lack of Paladin AoE heals for fights which require that particular mechanic. It also sheds light on an issue which will has tended to be overshadowed, that passive effects tacked on to active abilities have the potential to scale well beyond what you had in mind. That's a topic for another time however, perhaps when we get more Glyphs.

Still, yet again a hotfix has been applied, which got me thinking. Always dangerous...

In a different time overpowered abilities could go whole patches without being modified, with even the most gamebreaking imbalances waiting until 'the next content patch', especially if imbalances made the ability bad rather than simply 'too good' (old SoC and JoC being examples). It's possible that a change in the WoW game engine has allowed more flexibility in terms of timing, tying less functionality to the client or providing for much more subtle interaction between game client and server. Whatever the reason, hotfixing abilities will almost certainly continue and spike just after major patches.

What's the up-shot of this policy? On one hand it has meant that even minor bugfixes are more likely to be applied quickly where possible, and a more dynamic approach to correcting game bugs can never be a bad thing. None of us wanted to go through longer than necessary periods with obviously broken abilities such as Judgements of the Wise. Obviously overpowered abiities can also be nerfed as soon as they are exploited and without long-term harm to the gaming experience of others, a necessary feature in a game with so much competition and mutual antagonism between classes in given roles.

However, there are some unintended side-effects of this new found dynamism. For starters the game engine technology hasn't caught up yet in that you can hot-fix an ability but not the skill or talent description. Because of this no-one takes their talents and skills at face value any more, to learn how an ability really works you have to carry out empirical testing or rely on someone else's testing. Sometimes the differences between description and functionality are so significant that a developer post is required to understand what is going on. The Ret tree between 3.0.2 and 3.0.3 is a prime example, but I'm sure that every class can point to abilities which need to be heavily researched in order to be exploited properly. Such confusion in the player-base and a lack of consistency is a bad thing of course, and will only damage Blizzards continued aspirations for WoW to be recognised as a professional E-gaming tournament game.

More fixes are coming. Be vigilant.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Paladin Points of Interest on the Latest PTR.

A new PTR Build, memorably titled 9464, has been pushed to the servers today which contained a couple of changes some Paladins will find interesting:

  • Glyph of Turn Evil now also increases the cooldown of the spell by 8 seconds. No long will we be able to instantly fear demons and the undead without any cooldown.

  • I mentioned in an earlier PTR post that Vengeance stacked up to 5 times. In the latest build it is now back down to 3, indicating that Blizzard right now are probably happy with Paladin PvE DPS.

  • This is in addition to the change to the Glyph of Hammer of Wrath which will reduce the mana cost of HoW by 100% ('cor blimey guv!).

    So, Glyph of Turn Evil to start with. Obviously it's with PvP in mind, probably because of how nasty it was for Warlocks to be fear-locked without any possibility of responding or interrupting. Irony is such a wonderful thing.

    Argueably it now seems more in line with a minor glyph slot as opposed to Major (which it currently is) as its' relative power for Arena PvP has been significantly diminished relative to other Paladin Major Glyphs. Given how much of a catch-22 taking it will now be, and that it always was situational at best, 'demoting' it to a 'Minor' Glyph would not only see it's continual use but also provide us with some much needed improvements in the Glyph department. On that note, the SoB Glyph could be changed to 'Less recoil damage on Judgement' which would alleviate concerns over the ever popular 10k+ JoB crits.


    We made that change (stacking Vengeance to 5) when we were worried that we needed to give Ret some kind of compensation in PvE for nerfing them in PvP.

    Since then, we have seen some very high PvE numbers for Ret (read: too high) and arguably they aren't even nerfed much in PvP. Despite all the fears about TO THE GROUND, I think in retrospect it wasn't.


    Paladins being better against undead and demons than other types of creatures is a problem, especially when the current content has a lot of undead and the next tier will most likely have far less.

    Assume for the sake of argument that the damage you do in Naxx (at 3 Vengeance stacks) is the damage we want you to do all the time. You don't need to invoke "but if we are good in Naxx we will be just okay in Ulduar." That is a design problem you don't need to worry about.

    The justification for not maintaining the Vengeance buff seems reasonable, though I am troubled that Blizzard feel some Ret DPS numbers are 'too high'. Also interesting is that Blizzard feel our DPS shouldn't be constrained by the mob type we are fighting, i.e. that we shouldn't have an artificial boost against Undead mobs and lower relative DPS against non-Undead. This opinion is all well and good but would require some significant changes to Paladin Undead-only abilities, most notably Exorcism and the Sense Undead Glyph, and it's difficult to see how it can occur. I suppose a different route could be taken in order to compress down Ret rotations into fewer free GCD's, so that Exorcism will never be used... but as the man says mechanics are their job. That's why they get paid the big bucks.

    Patch on Tuesday? I think there's a better than evens chance.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    What More Could A Class Want?

    It has to be said that Paladins of all stripes made out like absolute bandits in 3.0. Retribution gained higher DPS and less reliance on group composition for this DPS, Protection gained more HP, Mitigation and Threat scaling, and Holy got a spell forever known as 'Bacon'. Well, okay, if pushed you can say that Holy's ability in mobile healing and potential healing throughput increased significantly. In 3.0.8 every Paladin will also be getting Hand of Reckoning, a new ranged pull and taunt which means that those annoying quests will no longer be quite so bad. I know that some Paladin's aren't too happy in principle with getting a baseline ranged pull, yet while I have sympathy for their position I can't help thinking that distinctive class flavour has been too high a price to pay for hours of frustration whilst questing or doing dailies.

    With the 3.0.8 PTR coming to an end (okay, it's not this week but it will be soon) our attention will be turning to 3.1, the Uldaur patch. As BRK already outlined Hunters will be getting a major working over which is certainly less than surprising given the unevenness of the three talent trees. Warlocks too are due some love in PvP and PvE, perhaps even Rogues in PvE. But to be honest I cannot think of anything which the Paladin class needs, for any one of the specs.

    In that vein there have been two interesting posts over at Ferraro (the mind behind Paladin Schmaladin) is looking at Crusader Strike as a prime candidate for attention. Having had the 'refreshes Judgements' effect removed from the skill in 3.0.1, CS is not so much weak as boring. Most similar talented melee strikes, such as Mortal Strike or Stormstrike, have an additional effect of some kind. Suggestions in that thread are summed up by 'more damage' or 'more PvP utility' but very little is truly original. Using Seals and/or Judgements would be a nice idea for different effects in PvP and PvE, and not tying it to additional damage seems sensible to side-step scaling issues.

    The other thread is an ever thorny topic: removing Divine Shield. The argument is the usual one: that Divine Shield is a crutch which has been used as an excuse to prevent Paladins from having x, y and z skills in our toolbox. But, is suggesting we get rid of DS really a good idea without having a very firm idea of exactly what sort of utility we could get in return and of what we will need in Season 6 of Arena PvP? This is to say nothing of how enormously detrimental it would be for Holy to not have access to it.

    I argued for ditching DS back in in 1.3, when I felt that DS truly was holding our class back. The class changes made over the past 4 years have led me to believe that it hasn't been when all other factors are in balance, and if anything it is less powerful than other tools on a much lower cooldown. When Arena PvP returns to 5+ minute matches, and the 50% DS damage nerf hits in 3.0.8, I'm sure it will yet again be exposed as overrated and not a valid excuse to not deal with other unreasonable class weaknesses.

    Right now we seem to be able to perform pretty well in all roles in PvE, and both Holy and Ret are above par in PvP (though the latter is most often partnered by Death Knights). So, for me 3.1 would be an excuse to deal with pet hates rather than buff or nerf the class. Forbearance is the prime candidate, BoK another. The odd talent in Holy too, and perhaps reducing the feed-back damage from Judgement of Blood. Finally the ever elusive Protection 11pt Talent will hopefully make an appearance, though I'm at a loss to know exactly what form it will take.

    I guess my question is... what do you want to see in 3.1 and why? 'Cos right now, I've got nothing.

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Fail Wintergrasp Is Fail.

    I was Horde. And no, we didn't win.

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    My First Archavon.

    So, did 10-man Archavon. Realised something: it's damned easy.

    No, I'd best qualify that statement: It's damned easy once you know what you are doing, and that's not a bad thing.

    Very, very basically, it's a 2-tank encounter in which the melee have to be continually aware of ground-based AoE (effectively, a nature-based consecrate) and DPS has to be pretty high to down him before his Enrage. If the tanks know what they are doing (taunt-rotations etc) it's pretty trivial, DPS-wise the requirements aren't too bad (heck, just look at the gear I was doing it in). As part of a Guild run it seems like the ideal first encounter to be 10-manning because it promotes good co-ordination and situation awareness without being overly taxing or requiring superhuman twitch skills. I imagine that similar could be said of the 25-man version of the encounter.

    We had 2 wipes, one to me not being familiar with the encounter (died to a gas cloud :-/) meaning that we didn't have the DPS to kill him before the enrage. Third time around we pulled everything off without a hitch, and everyone was richer 2 Emblems. No Pally gear, but that's okay. :)

    So, why is it being easy a good thing? Well, the raid itself is a PvP reward for a PuG PvP Event which resets every three hours. IMO the encounter should be do-able by those who have just helped to gain (or retain) control of Lake Wintergrasp, keeping it the domain of an organised raid given the means of obtaining control and the limited duration over which it is accessible wouldn't make sense. It also drops high quality PvP gear, something pretty hard to obtain at the best of times and which will get increasingly more difficult to get as the Season continues*. I would criticise the 25-man version for dropping Deadly PvP Gear if by doing so I wasn't forced to agree with epic l337 PvPers [shudder].

    So, I've just done my first lvl80 raid, and guildless to boot. It remains to be seen just how much more content I'll see over the course of the next few weeks. But I'm confident that if nothing else I won't be a dead-weight in VoA PuGs, something which may worry many Ret Paladins at my sort of gear level.

    * ASIDE: Savage Glad should be rep-based and Hateful Honour-based. Grinding BG's till your eyes bleed for sub-par PvP gear is awful design.

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    The 3.0.8 PTR Changes and You.

    Lo everyone, sorry about the lack of updates recently. The good news is that I'm back playing (thanks to my brother who bought me game time and a copy of the Expansion), the bad news is that my mind has turned to mush and drafting new posts is getting frustrating because of a lack of ideas (or other people having them whilst I've been in the drafting process, as so often happens ;) ). Anyway, enough about me.

    Those of you reading MMO-Champion may have already read the latest round of PTR notes (Build 9438) which for a mini-patch are quite comprehensive, but I know that some are stuck behind corporate firewalls and so can't see them. So first here are the changes which directly impact Paladins:

    Ghostcrawler - New Dispel Mechanics:

    Since we are getting lots of questions on this:

    The general rule of thumb is that helpful spells (e.g. buffs) and dots are protected. Other offensive spells (e.g. crowd controls) are not.

    We are definitely interested on hearing feedback on this implementation. We like the basic mechanic of casting and dispelling spells, but I think many players agreed that the system beyond that needed an overhaul. I am sure many players have their own ideas on how this should have worked, because a lot of them have been pitched to us.

    Feel free to discuss dispel and dispel resistance here rather than having the conversation across multiple threads.

    NOTE: The dispel spells themselves have not changed. Offensive spells that do no damage (say Polymorph) will just be easier to dispel now. They will not benefit from the talents that make dispels harder. (Source)


    PTR Patch notes and Undocumented Changes (Source)


    # Avenging Wrath: Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Avenging Wrath cannot be used within 30 seconds of each other. Forbearance removed from Avenging Wrath. [Hand of Protection is no longer part of this spell cooldown interaction, but retains Forbearance]
    # Divine Protection: The penalty has been removed.
    # Divine Shield: The penalty has been changed so that all damage done is reduced by 50% in place of an attack speed penalty.
    # Hand of Reckoning (NEW): Available on trainers at level 16. It?s a 30 yard range taunt that causes Holy damage.
    # Judgements of the Pure: This Holy talent now increases the damage done by Seals and Judgements.
    # Judgement of Wisdom: Now returns a percentage of base mana instead of a percentage of max mana.
    # Sacred Duty: Interaction with Divine Shield and Divine Protection removed, but stamina bonus increased.



    * Stoicism now reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by an additional 10/20/30%. (Old - affected all spells) [Reflection of the changes to dispel mechanics]


    * Glyph of Hammer of Justice -- Increases your Hammer of Justice range by 5 yards. (Old - increased duration by 1 sec)

    A big fat 'meh' to taking HoP off the 'immunity+AW' cooldown interaction. It was probably warranted to eliminate confusion and potential UI bugs (when is a spell both on a cooldown and not on a cooldown? when it's HoP and you've just used AW!), but frankly when reading about this change I always think Blizzard are going in the wrong direction. At the very least Forbearance should no longer be a part of the game, and not removing it will get increasingly dumb as the Arena becomes less burst-reliant. Preventing AW from being cast at any time seems meaningless given the change to DS and that both it and DP are easily dispellable.

    We had a hint that the Glyph of Hammer of Justice was going to change all the way back at Blizzcon, and personally I think it's a good one. With new dispel mechanics, PvP trinkets and personal stun-breakers the difference between a 6 second and 7 second stun is minimal, but the change from a 10 to 15 yard range is pretty big. It'll be interesting to see how this one pans out.

    Okay, the dispel mechanics changes. It should be noted that this only has an effect in PvP, I'm pretty sure that the encounters with NPC self-dispel are very rare. For Paladins, as for all classes baring Warriors (co-incidence? I think not!), this change could go either way. From an offensive prospective this is broadly a detrimental change - our Hand of Justice, Repentance, Vindication and Judgement spells are all 30% easier to dispel if you currently take Stoicism. Defensively, the picture is much more rosy.

    In 3.0.8 there will be a greater innate value to Cleanse and other dispel effects. Cleanse was always the weakest of the defensive spells because it could only dispel one negative effect of any school per global cooldown. High numbers of debuffs with even moderate dispel resistance made the spell counter-productive in most casts, and healing through the debuff effects were often preferable. With the removal of dispel resistances for non-dot negative debuffs Cleanse will now rarely waste a GCD by fizzling.

    In addition, this change makes one previously fairly awful talent reasonably useful, though fitting it into your PvP build could pose interesting problems:

    Sacred Cleansing Rank 3
    Your Cleanse spell has a 30% chance to increase the target's resistance to Disease, Magic and Poison by 30% for 10 sec.

    The other issue for Cleanse was the sheer number of trash debuffs that other classes could put up to protect their more useful debuffs, at a rate of more than one every GCD. This is espeically the case with Rogues (*shakes fist at Deadly Brew and Vile Poisons*), but also true for Frost Mages and Warlocks. Well now you can use their debuffs against them: by not having a resist and properly curing a trash debuff you could proc a chance to resist subsequent debuffs. Yes, it is still a chance to proc for a chance to resist, but the chance to proc will be much greater.

    The benefits of these changes probably won't be seen until the ratio of burst damage to health pools has reduced somewhat. Right now absolute PvP damage is probably too high to warrant Cleansing over healing except on the odd CC (though you should see some improvements in such cases), but as player durability and GCD leeway in PvP increases.

    I'd expect to see 3.0.8 next Tuesday (the 13th) or the following one, followed by 3.1 at some point far in the not too distant future. From the sounds of things this will be the last significant patch of any stripe before 3.1 hits.

      © Blogger template 'Ultimatum' by 2008

    Back to TOP