Saturday, February 28, 2009

Divine Protection Cooldown Reduced.

It seems that tank oh-**** buttons are being buffed beyond all measure in 3.1. Warriors Shield Wall can now be reduced down to 1 minute cooldown and Last Stand to 3. This brings them largely in line with Deathknights, who have a significant number of panic buttons to push on relatively short cooldowns. Well, it now seems that Paladins aren't above a little love here and there in this vein:

Official Patch Notes:

* Divine Protection: Cooldown reduced to 3 min.


* Glyph of Beacon of Light: Increases the duration of Beacon of Light by 30 sec.
* Glyph of Divine Plea: While Divine Plea is active, you take 3% reduced damage from all sources.
* Glyph of Divine Storm: Your Divine Storm now heals for an additional 15% of the damage it causes.
* Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous: Your Hammer of the Righteous hits 1 additional target.
* Glyph of Hand of Salvation: When you cast Hand of Salvation on yourself, it also reduces damage taken by 20%.
* Glyph of Holy Shock: Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1 sec.
* Glyph of Last Stand: Now reduces the cooldown of Last Stand by 90 sec.
* Glyph of Shield of Righteousness: Reduces the mana cost of Shield of Righteousness by 80%.

These changes were posted on the EU Official Forums, but aren't as yet reflected in the current PTR build. So, why are they interesting?

Isn't it obvious?

Divine Protection currently has a 5 minute base cooldown. The talent Sacred Duty reduces this cooldown to 4 minutes. With a base cooldown of 3 minutes Sacred Duty would reduce the cooldown to 2 minutes. Cool beans, eh? Well, the plot thickens. Forbearance is currently 3 minutes, preventing you from popping HoP, DS and DP within 3 minutes of each other. Obviously it would be impossible to take advantage of a 2 minute cooldown DP without some changes to Forbearance.

With any luck they are getting rid of the idiotic thing, especially with the current 30s shared lockout. Another option would be the talent also reducing the duration of Forbearance, or even not affecting DP at all (so the new baseline cooldown of 3min could not be lowered).

I'll pause for a minute whilst you consider the idiocy of a Protection talent affecting Divine Shield alone.

Back? Good.

So anyway, Forbearance may be gone, or at least diminished in impact. Secondly we have the two notes in the glyph portion. Lets take the second one first: Mana cost of Shield of Righteousness reduced by 80%. Veeery nice. This, coupled with rolling Divine Plea's, means that Protection Paladins will have self-sustainable mana for secondary tanking, DPS and PvP. Just how important this will be in the future is anyone's guess but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Finally, we come to the most curious note: "Glyph of Last Stand: Now reduces the cooldown of Last Stand by 90 sec." There is a 99% changes that this patch note has been miss-filed under Paladins, given that Last Stand is a Warrior ability (which has been buffed ofc). Why not 100%?

Because we still don't have an 11pt Prot Talent! ;).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Undocumented 3.1 Info, and a Question.

Just a few things to mention:

1) Art of War no longer seems to reset the swing timer. This means that during any spare global cooldown period in your DPS cycle casting an Art Of War enhanced Flash of Light will no longer result in a drop in DPS.

2) Ret's best pre-raid Libram, the Venture Co. Libram of Retribution, has been nerfed. It now provides a flat +81 damage to Divine Storm, or 'bleh' as I see it. The numbers may mean that the Libram of Furious Blows will be the de-facto entry level raiding libram and the Naxx-25 Libram will remain the best for raiding pre-Ulduar for those not blessed in PvP.

The good news is that the PvP Libram, which blows all others out of the water in PvE, will require a very reasonable 1300 Arena Rating in 3.1 (Season 6). It'll be well worth getting it if you can. Hopefully Ulduar drops and other sources (Emblem turn-ins, PvP rewards etc.) will rectify this awful itemisation gap.

3) Swift Retribution, the 3% haste Tier 9 Ret Talent, now applies this effect to all aura's. The talent joins Sanctified Retribution, Imp. Devotion Aura and Imp. Concentration Aura as effects which boost all aura's. In fact, a 0/18/53 talent spec would allow you to have one aura which boosts all damage by 3%, Haste by 3% and healing by 6%. And that aura could be a resistance aura. Not bad, huh?

4) The Paladin Tier 8 set now comes with a kilt! (or surcoat if you prefer, cassock if you are that way inclined).

from Forums.

Both leggings and kilted versions are in the game files, so we don't know which one we'll be lumbered with. I hope that Blizzard are being canny and releasing 4 colour versions with the PTR to surreptitiously gauge player reaction and go with the most popular, and if that's the case the 'white' version probably has the slot nailed down.

Finally, a question. By now you've probably seen the Argent Champion Tabards which will be a feature of the Argent Tourney in 3.1, possibly as a means of championing your home city? I'm rather partial to the Ironforge tabard but for obvious reasons I won't be grabbing it, and of the Horde option I most appreciate the Sen'jin sense of style. Which one do you like, and which will you be sporting when exhibiting your martial skills?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yeah, About That Screenshot Meme...

Well, tagged by Josh I had to do my duty and post a screenie. The only problem was... did I have a 6th screenshot folder? Well, I do, and this is what I came up with:

During the Wrath Beta Lady Sylvannas' model was changed quite a few times, and I think this was the first one that made it to the servers. Thank goodness they didn't stick with it ;).

Anyway, the trawl through my screenshots had me wondering which was my oldest. Unfortunately due to numerous reinstalls I don't have any *really* old ones. The best I can do is this one from December '07:

Oh, and one final screenie showing the world as it was rather than as it is now: a shot from pre-Sunwell.

Who to tag, who to tag... well definitely Alex. It should be interesting to see what Lance has kicking around. Oh, and Vaadren surely has something to show us. Everyone else has surely been tagged by now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paladin Tier 8 Pics.

Update 2:

Full high-rez picks of all Tier 8 sets can now be found at MMO-Champion, including new particle effects for some sets. We still don't really know what the colour-schemes signify, nor whether we get the leggings or surcoat model for our tier gear.


The Paladin Tier 8 set now comes with a kilt! (or surcoat if you prefer, cassock if you are that way inclined).

from Forums.

Both leggings and kilted versions are in the game files, no-one really knows which variation will be our final set.


See the previous post for a full list of Paladin 3.1 PTR changes.

Finally, an update from MMO-Champion with the four different colour-schemes and proper particle effects:

Human Female modelling Tier 8... isn't flattering.

Older images here and here

It seems this set was based on concept-art found in the WotLK CE box, with the kilt removed:

It's possible that we'll get the kilt back at some point. Right now, I'd say the looks were a trifle 'meh' and almost shamanie, but much better than they could have been (tier 5.... *shudder*). The white and blue colour schemes look pretty good overall, copper and purple is pretty bad though. And that helm... hide as default please.


Compare Paladin Tier 8 to Warrior Tier 8:

Setting aside the Aries - the Misspelt Olympian God of War theme, more graphical effort appears to have been made with the warrior one. We'll be getting particle effects which may make things looks better, but it probably won't bring T8 up to the level of class that is T2 or T6.

Other Tier8 Armours can be found here.

3.1 Crib Notes - My Take on the Changes.


Paladin Aura's now persist through death, meaning that you don't have to re-activate them when resurrected. A fairly minor change to be sure, but it none-the-less eases annoyances.

In addition Imp. Aura bonuses, i.e. Imp. Crusader Aura's Interrupt/Silence Reduction, Imp. Devo's 6% healing and Sanctified Retributions 3% damage extend to all Aura's. This is not yet the case for Swift Retribution, but it makes sense for that to be changed too.

Lay on Hands may possibly to usable in PvP (with the new -5min cooldown Minor Glyph).

The 10% BoKings has gone baseline. Phew.


Exorcism and its associated talents have been buffed greatly, in line with improving offensive capabilities of all (esp. Holy) Paladins:

Exorcism - Target Restriction Lifted,
Purifying Power - Reduces cooldown on Exorcism by 17/33% (to 10 seconds)

Holy gets it's own version of Guardians Favour utility which reduces the cooldown of HoF, HoSalv and HaSac spells by up to 20%. HoF's which last for 14 seconds once every 20 seconds... not bad even with dispel's floating around. Pure of Heart will give Holy a greater measure of strength against Warlocks, DK's and Rogues but it remains a weak talent in the buffet that is Holy/Ret PvP specs.

There is no news yet of a change to Spiritual Attunement for Holy or Retribution.


Divinity is the name of the new Protection Tier 1 talent, and it increases all healing done and healing received by 5%. Whilst not particularly tempting for Prot in of itself (it's being ironically referred to as the 'increases overhealing done to you by 5%' talent) it may be of interest to Holy as a useful means of getting deeper into the Prot tree.

Blessing of Sanctuary now only regen's Mana for Blocked/Parried/Dodged attacks, not Rage and Runic Power. Because this Blessing was seen as mandatory for DK's to tank certain encounters it seems likely that the effect will be moved to baseline for that class. It is a shame that BoSanc couldn't be renamed to Imp. BoK and had the effect rolled into that spell (and the mana regen made baseline/talented) and keep the Paladin class as a whole down to 3 Blessings.

A lot of talent point consolidation has taken place, reducing a huge amount of the bloat in the tree. PvP abilities galore are now littered all over the place, and I'd imagine that Prot Paladins will be able to make as much a nuisance of themselves as Prot Warriors. Deep Prot Paladins will have a 20 second cooldown stun (when talented) which is roughly the equivalent of Shockwave. If Blizzard want to remove Random Stun Procs it's unlikely that Seal of Justice will survive the process to live.

Finally, Divine Guardian has been nerfed. There's now an upper limit to the amount of damage absorbed by this ability: 300% of the casters maximum health pool. Whilst this is still a lot (~70k for most Holy Paladins, more for Prot) it's no longer quite the raid-wide 'oh-****' button it once was. It also greatly decreases the talents attractiveness in 5v5 PvP, but may not have a huge impact in the smaller forms of the Arena.

Still no 11pt talent :(.


Retribution changes were far more subtle than Prots, but indicate more to come. The most obvious change is for PvP, where Paladins will now have to spec 27pts in Ret for HoF's stun-breaking ability. The ease with which Holy Paladins could get this talent has been a huge source of complaint for many PvPers, but with deep Holy being so unattractive for PvP and early-Ret being so good more Paladins will probably just go for 44/0/27. Even deeper Ret builds for JotW are also likely.

Fanaticism and Righteous Vengeance are now 3pt talent (down from 5) and now have more bang for their buck. However in terms of damage dealing talents Retribution was hardly chock-a-block full so these changes won't serve in any way to increase Ret Damage. In fact, Ret's damage will decrease, quite considerably given lack of Holy Wrath, Sense Undead glyph and the fact that Crusade is partially target restricted. From a 3.0.9 baseline, 3.1 is a nerf for Ret.

However, all is not lost. At the very least we should be getting a 2pt talent next to RV to make tier 10 up to 5 points, probably a Mana Regen talent of some description.

For PvP, Retribution looses 10seconds of the -30 seconds cooldown to HoJ. However this spare point can be placed in another talent for additional damage. It's no faster HoJ, but nothing to be sniffed at.

This is still very early days. More changes are due and will happen. What they will be is anyones guess however.

Paladin 3.1 PTR Patch Notes.

The 3.1 PTR is Up!. MMO-Champion has the low-down here. The current build is obviously very early as a number of talents and NPC/armour models are missing and a significant number of the changes mentioned previously haven't yet been included.

In general, Holy has had a lot of its' PvP talents improved but not much has changed for PvE. The ramifications of the Protection changes are likely to be significant and the new Tier 1 Protection talent will be very tempting for Holy and Prot (and Ret in PvP, though less so). The Retribution tree has been slimmed down, with talents such as Fanaticism and RV becoming more efficient damage/point but providing less overall DPS. Oh, and the effects of 'Improved X Aura' talents will now be applied to all auras, a nice 'quality of life' change IMO.

For the PvPers out there Divine Purpose has been moved down to Tier 6 Ret from Tier 5, meaning that you now need to spend 27 points into Ret for Hand of Freedoms talented stun break. Given how weak Deep Holy is for PvP I don't see this sort of change as much of a trade-off for DPurposes value, Bacon and JotP are just that bad.

More analysis later.

Official Patch Notes:

* Auras will now persist through death.
* Blessing of Kings is now trainable at level 20. Removed from talent trees.


* New Talent Divinity:Tier 1 protection talent, increases healing done by and to you by 1/2/3/4/5%. [Not Yet Implemented]
* Sacred Duty (Protection) rank 1 now increases Stamina by 4%.


* Benediction (Retribution) now affects Hand of Reckoning.
* Fanaticism reduced to 3 ranks for 6/12/18% bonus and 10/20/30% threat reduction.
* Repentance no longer resets the Paladin's melee swing timer.
* Righteous Vengeance reduced to 3 ranks for 10/20/30%.

Undocumented Changes (Datamined by MMO-Champion)


* All Paladin auras have had their tooltip changed to note that they work on the entire raid, not just the party.


* Exorcism can now be used on all targets, but is now a guaranteed critical strike vs Undead and Demon type mobs.
* Judgement of Light now procs off spells as well. (Previously only "attacks" would trigger this)


* Purifying Power (Tier 6) now reduces the cooldown of your Exorcism and Holy Wrath spells by 17/33%. (Previously increased the critical strike chance of those spells by 10/20%)
* Pure of Heart (Tier 5) now reduces Curse, Poison, and Disease effects by 15/30%. (Previously was 25/50% but did not include poisons)
* Blessed Hands has been moved from Tier 5 to Tier 4 and now reduces the mana cost of Hand of Freedom, Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Salvation by 15/30% and cooldowns by 10/20%.
* Improved Concentration Aura's (Tier 4) reduced silence/interrupt effect now works while any aura is active.


* Shield of Righteousness now deals 130% of block value + 520 at the highest rank. It no longer causes a high amount of threat. (Previously increased damage by a set amount)
* Blessing of Kings is now a baseline ability. Trainable at level 20.


* Shield of the Templar (Tier 10) no longer increases the damage of your Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield and Shield of Righteousness spells. Instead it gives your Avenger's Shield a 33/66/100% chance to silence targets hit by it for 3 sec.
* Judgements of the Just (Tier 10) now reduces the cooldown of your Hammer of Justice by 10 sec, increases the duration of your Seal of Justice effect by 0.5 sec, in addition to its previous effect.
* Avenger's Shield's (Tier 9) damage has been increased across all ranks.
* Guarded by the Light (Tier 9) now reduces spell damage taken by 3% and gives a 50% chance to refresh the duration of your Divine Plea when you hit an enemy. (Previously reduced the mana cost of your Holy Shield, Avenger's Shield and Shield of Righteousness spells by 15%.)
* Holy Shield's (Tier 7) damage slightly increased across all ranks.
* Ardent Defender (Tier 7) is now a 3 point talent, reducing damage taken by 10/20/30%. (Previously was a 5 point talent)
* Sacred Duty (Tier 6) increases stamina by 4% now. (Previously was 3%)
* One-Handed Weapon Specialization is now a 3 point talent, increasing damage done with 1 handers by 4/7/10%. (Previously was a 5 point talent)
* Blessing of Sanctuary (Tier 5) now only grants 2% of maximum displayed mana when the target blocks, parries, or dodges a melee attack. (Previously granted 10 rage or 20 runic power or 2% max mana)
* Divine Guardian (Tier 4) now has been changed to redirect damage "(up to a maximum of 150/300% of the Paladin's health)." (Previously had no limit)
* Improved Devotion Aura (Tier 4) now increases the amount healed on any target affected by any of your Auras by 2%. (Previously only worked with Devotion Aura active)
* Improved Hammer of Justice (Tier 4) is now a 2 point talent, reducing the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 sec. (Previously had a 3rd rank that reduced cooldown by 30 secs)


* Righteous Vengeance (Tier 10) is now a 3 point talent. When your Judgement and Divine Storm spells deal a critical strike, your target will take 10/20/30% additional damage over 8 sec. (Previously a 5 point talent)
* Fanaticism (Tier 8 ) is now a 3 point talent and now increases the critical strike chance of all Judgements capable of a critical hit by 6/12/18% and reduces threat caused by all actions by 10/20/30% except when under the effects of Righteous Fury. (Previously a 5 point talent)
* Improved Retribution Aura has been removed from the game.
* Improved Retribution Aura's effect has been merged into Sanctified Retribution (Tier 5).
* Divine Purpose has been moved from Tier 5 to Tier 6.


* Glyph of Exorcism -- Increases damage done by Exorcism by 20%. (Old: Your Exorcism also interrupts spellcasting for 2 sec.)
* Glyph of Divinity -- Your Lay on Hands grants twice as much mana as normal and also grants you as much mana as it grants your target. (Old: Your Lay on Hands also grants you as much mana as it grants your target.)
* Glyph of Lay on Hands -- Reduces the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 5 min.(Old: Your Lay on Hands also grants you as much mana as it grants your target.)
* Glyph of Beacon of Light *new* -- Increases the duration of Beacon of Light by 30 sec.
* Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous *new* -- Your Hammer of the Righteous hits 1 additional target.
* Glyph of Divine Storm *new* -- Your Divine Storm now heals for an additional 15% of the damage it causes.
* Glyph of Shield of Righteousness *new* -- Reduces the mana cost of Shield of Righteousness by 1 to 6%.
* Glyph of Divine Plea *new* -- While Divine Plea is active, you take 3% reduced damage from all sources.
* Glyph of Holy Shock *new* -- Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1 sec.
* Glyph of Hand of Salvation *new* -- When you cast Hand of Salvation on yourself, it also reduces damage taken by 20%.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Retribution Aura Threat et other stuff.

Okay, this is a strange one: can anyone recall with confidence if the threat caused by Retribution Aura's damage is attributed to the Paladin or the player hit? I'm pretty sure that it counts towards the Paladin, which is why I've had adds attack the tank and then peel off to hunt me down (yeah yeah, I know the tank should be laying down some hardcore AoE threat, it's not my fault if he cant find his Thundercrate key). If that's the case, a change would be nice.

Speaking of changes, smart money is on the 3.1 PTR launching tomorrow (Monday). Keep your eyes peeled for breaking news from the usual sites tomorrow. I have a feeling that there will be some surprises.

There's a lot of chatter in some circles about Seal of Blood's Judgement feedback damage being too high in certain gimmicky fights (Loatheb, Thaddius etc). Really, the Judgement damage scales too well versus health pools (HP has doubled, JoB damage has more than tripled) so an argument can be made that the health loss should be capped. I'm torn, but I'm not enamoured with JoB's feedback damage mechanic and associated SA mana regen, which I've always considered to be a retrograde mechanic that Ret shouldn't need.

Oh, and a word from Ghostcrawler regarding the prospective nerf to Spiritual Attunement:

Our intention is not to nerf Ret mana generation. Our intention is to nerf Holy mana generation. In our tests, mana generation for Holy healers was quite variable depending on whether the paladin is taking damage or not. Since we don't want fights that do raid damage to always be easier than fights that don't do raid damage, Spiritual Attunement is something we are looking at.

This is not the actual solution that we are going to do, but if it make you feel better, imagine that SA becomes a talent in both deep Protection and deep Retribution so that non-healing paladins are not mana starved.

We're also not trying to cripple Holy paladins. But they are very dominant in Arenas at the moment (which is partially a function of what is happening to other classes), and they have very few mana problems even on challenging PvE content (like Ulduar). We do need to look at them.


QUOTE:Smart healers should almost never take damage.

Because of the way we design encounters, we disagree. I assume you are really saying that smart healers don't stand in fires. They shouldn't, but that's not really what I am talking about. Take a fight like Saphiron. You can't avoid the damage. Holy paladins take damage, get healed, and get mana. Now I know Saph is srs bzns and all that, but you can see the encounter design problem we can get into.

In PvP, they can't really opt out of taking damage either. Granted SA isn't a factor for most 2-player teams.


I'm not sure I'm a fan of the SA method to sustainable mana regen for Ret but it's a relief to see they understand that Ret sometimes relies on this mana. We shall have to see how well Holy can hope with just Divine Plea and Replenishment in the AoE-damage fest of Ulduar encounters, my gut is that mana won't be a huge issue. It should be interesting to see how they enact the change, as previously mentioned Illumination could be a candidate. Or something else entirely.

If I had one wish for 3.1 it would be "hands off Judgement of Wisdom". If you don't know why download and run WWS to see how much mana it regens (personal and raid-wide). It may surprise you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Premature Overreaction: Exorcism in 3.1

UPDATE: [22.04.09]

Since writing this post and the release of 3.1 Exorcism has been hotfixed to no longer be useable on PvP targets. Read about it here.


You'd probably have to have been living under a bush to not hear about the proposed 3.1 changes. One, the nerf to Divine Plea, has already reached a live patch in the form of 3.0.9. However the most controversial Paladin buff is certainly the lifting of restrictions on Exorcism. This post was going to discuss how non-Paladins were stating that it will be overpowered without taking other anticipated 3.1 changes into account, but instead I'll mention some of the likely changes for 3.1 to this spell.

Of course, the primary reason why Exorcism is being brought into the fold for DPS is the need to sustain Ret DPS moving from an Undead raid. Exorcism and Holy Wrath combined contribute to around 7% of Retribution DPS, and including the Sense Undead Glyph the simple migration to Ulduar would reduce Ret DPS by 8%. This is pretty untenable in any sort of min-maxing environment without unique buffs, and the change to Exorcism will ameliorate this. As a fun side effect it becomes useful for Holy (which has woeful DPS) and allows designers greater breadth in Talent design. Unfortunately, this change may come at a price.

Mana Cost

Exorcism is extremely mana efficient for this type of spell.

Exorcism is most similar to Shaman Shock spells, the odd Mage spell or Shadowburn. Its target restriction feature was used as rationale for increasing the damage per mana of the spell some time pre-2.0 IIRC, and in early Beta the mana cost was again reduced. As of patch 3.0.8 it costs 8% of base mana (7.2% with Benediction) which is 10% less than equivalent spells. As instant cast damage spells go only Ice Lance is cheaper at 7%.

However a different comparison may be made. Hunter Shots are similar to instant cast spells excepting their minimum range and reagent requirements (reagents not required in in 3.1). Their mana cost is in single figures: 6% for Arcane Shot, 7% for Explosive Shot, 9% for Serpent Sting (if we expand the definition somewhat).

I don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with an 8% base mana cost for Exorcism, it's just that Blizzard may have to tie themselves into knots to justify it. Depending on the approach Blizzard take Exorcism's base mana cost may well be increased, possibly to around 15-18% in line with most other instant nukes. If this occurs I would expect a talent similar to Shamanistic Focus in the Shaman Enhancement tree (which reduces Shock mana cost by 45%) to appear somewhere low in Retribution or Protection to reduce the mana cost down to a more reasonable value (i.e. back to 8%). Anything higher than 10% probably isn't sustainable in Ret or Prot's rotation.

The Sanctified Seals talent, which previously made Seals undispellable, is a prime candidate for this.

High Base Damage

Exorcism hits hard. At an average damage per cast of almost 1.1k it hits considerably harder than most other instant cast nukes, though it should be noted that most equivalents have secondary effects at baseline or scale better. Flame Shock deals similar damage, but splits the damage between an instant component and a DoT. This has significant implications for PvP, much less so for PvE. In order to retain the DPS level seen in Naxx 3.1 Exorcism needs to inflict damage equivalent to 3.0.8 Naxx, but this need not be in one large lump.

A 1.1k nuke, coupled with Ret's already decent burst damage, may well be more than Blizzard are willing to implement in PvP. It may also be just too powerful, though this depends greatly on the PvP burst 'fixes' we'll be seeing in (or before) 3.1. If there is a change it should be similar to Flame Shock rather than a straight damage nerf, and hopefully the damage it deals won't be too closely tied to any talent tree.

It shouldn't replace Consecration in the rotation, as some are debating. A totally separate alternative to Cons needs to be created in order to preserve Naxx levels of DPS whilst replacing its' AoE component.

The 30yrd Range.

Okay, this is probably one feature of the baseline spell which may be a little over the top if it is brought through to 3.1. Shock spells are typically around 20yards in range so we may well see Exorcism brought down to this sort of range.

That Crazy Glyph

Adding a two second interrupt to a spell is probably one of the most powerful glyphs in the game right now if applied to all targets. That's not to say that a ranged interrupt on a low cooldown is overpowered - Earth Shock, Counterspell and talented Deadly Throw are all low-cooldown interrupts with the same or longer school lock-outs than Glyphed Exorcism would provide. It won't make a huge difference in PvE, mana conservation and +damage glyphs are much more important for Ret, and the 17% Spell Hit cap makes spell interrupt's a little too unreliable in PvE for non-DPS casters. There are certain fights where an additional interrupt for any spec would be extremely useful (e.g. Kel Thuzad apparently) but these encounters are probably too rare to be of significant concern in PvE. Indeed, a glyphed interrupt may well be useful balance-wise in 25-man and 10-man encounters from a design perspective.

In PvP however it is almost impossible to state whether or not any single spec would become too powerful with a 15sec cooldown interrupt+nuke at the cost of a Glyph Slot. The changes that have been announced simply create too much of a void of knowledge from which to make an assumption. There are a few things we can surmise will occur in 3.1:

  • Lower burst damge. Historically Retribution has lived and died on it's burst damage potential, which is why it tended to work well in Cleave teams. Lower burst is a direct nerf to Ret's viability and the spec has little to make up for that.
  • Longer matches. Perhaps this is an indirect consequence of lower burst but the longer the match tends to be the worse Paladins perform. We saw this in Season 2, when Paladin representation nose-dived and Resto Druid ruled the roost. In general other utility such as Purge and CC become much more important. Since then Holy's mobility has improved because of Sacred Shield and Holy Shock but it is still lower than instant cast HoT classes which will get ever stronger as the ratio of burst damage to health pools decreases.
  • Higher Cooldown Hammer of Justice. Sorry to say it guys but 30sec cooldown HoJ will probably be a thing of the past for Holy and Ret builds, if for no other reason than the likely changes for Prot announced. Longer cooldown HoJ means less control, which again tends to have a disproportionate impact on the battlefield.

  • All the above said, even if the Glyph of Exorcism reduces damage of Exorcism by 100% it will still be a massive improvement to all Paladin specs in PvP. Even if they increased the cooldown and decreased the range of Exorcism the glyph as it stands would be damned useful. Even if they did all of these things and increased the base mana cost of the spell it gives Ret and Holy much needed tools for PvP going into 3.1.

    The point is that Exorcism and the Glyph of Exorcism may well change considerably with 3.1, but whilst its' mana cost isn't increased significantly and DPS is not reduced it will be fine for PvE (we still have plenty of spare GCD's for a 15sec cooldown spell). As long as the Glyph retains an interrupt component it will be very useful for PvP. We shouldn't expect the spell to remain the same but we can expect the spell to be damn handy if we take any sort of wider view.

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Patch 3.0.9... Heh.

    Well, that's interesting. MMO-Champion are reporting that there's a new patch due this week, 3.0.9. Boubouille has already extracted the Spell, Talent and Glyph info and they amount to quite a few for most classes. Old time players will laugh at at least one Paladin change ;). See the following link for the full changelog.

    MMO-Champion - Patch 3.0.9 on live servers this week.

    Here are the extent of the documentable Paladin changes (i.e. those that have been datamined or are in the patch notes):

    * The duration on all Seals has been increased to 30 minutes and can no longer dispelled.
    * Divine Plea: The amount healed by your spells is reduced by 50% (up from 20%) but the effect can no longer be dispelled.
    * Sanctified Seals: This talent no longer affects dispel resistance, but continues to affect crit chance.


    * Glyph of Holy Light -- Your Holy Light grants 10% of its heal amount to up to 5 friendly targets within 8 yards of the initial target. (Down from 20 yards, Tooltip text fix, was already hotfixed to 8 yards in game)
    * Glyph of Seal of Righteousness -- Increases the damage done by Seal of Righteousness by 10%. (Old - Reduces the cost of your Judgement spells by 10% while Seal of Righteousness is active.) (Source)

    30 minute undispellable Seals... you have no idea how long people have been asking for this. Ironically it's something of a PvP nerf for Ret due to the 3/3 Stoicism 2/3 Sanctified Seals setup, but a pretty big buff to Holy and Prot. Sanctified has obviously had its Seal undispellability component removed, and I'd expect Sanctified Seals to gain a further change in 3.1. In 3.0.9 it will be just another '1 talent point for 1 crit', pretty uninspired and a clone of Conviction. Exactly what we will see remains to be, well, seen.

    The Divine Plea -50% healing change is in, but the effect is no longer dispellable. This is pretty big balance-wise for PvP and PvE, but in PvP you will now have 100% control over when to pop it and when to get rid of it (via a /cancelaura macro). A Priest or Shaman purging your DP is no longer an issue.

    Finally the Glyph of SoR gives a flat damage increase to SoR. The guys at EJ are probably going to go over this one with a fine tooth comb, but right now it's a buff for Holy Soloing and some tanking situations, though Prot would probably prefer to use Seal of Vengeance and hence the SoV Glyph which gives 10 Expertise.

    So, quite a few significant changes in this minor patch. We may well get it tomorrow/Wednesday, or it may spend some time on the PTR first. The reaction, especially from Mages and Rogues, should be fun.

    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    The Laughing Gnome.

    Edited by Razimus of "Swords of Justice" - Moon Guard (US), with music by David Bowie, here is the Laughing Gnome:

    Enjoy ;)

    Friday, February 06, 2009

    Patch 3.1 Now Known As Patch 'Kings to Baseline'

    Yeah, I know, everyone and their dog has already posted this. TBH, this post if for one reason only...

    Hate to say I told you so Josh :P

    * Blessing of Kings – this spell is now a base ability trainable by all paladins.
    * Exorcism – this spell now causes damage to all types of enemy targets. However, it always critical strikes undead or demon targets. This change should make sure paladin damage doesn’t drop when going from Naxxramas to later tiers of content.
    * Shield of the Templar now causes your Avenger’s Shield and Shield of the Righteousness to silence targets for 3 sec. The old damage bonus of this talent has been folded into Holy Shield, Avenger’s Shield, and Shield of the Righteousness.
    * Ardent Defender, Improved Hammer of Justice, One-Handed Weapon Specialization and more have had their ranks reduced.
    * Guarded by the Light – no longer reduces the mana cost of shield spells, but now has a 50/100% chance to refresh Divine Plea duration.
    * Judgements of the Just – now also reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 seconds and increases the duration of the Seal of Justice stun effect by 0.5/1 second.



    From Yesterday's post:

    * Since paladins rely less on Spirit as a mana-regeneration stat, we have to address them in other ways. We don’t want to change Illumination or Replenishment. However, we are going to increase the healing penalty on Divine Plea from 20% to 50%. Divine Plea was originally intended to help Protection and Retribution paladins stay full on mana. It should be a decision for Holy paladins, not something that is automatically used every cooldown.

    * In addition, we are also changing the way Spiritual Attunement works. In situations with a large amount of outgoing raid damage, as well as in PvP, this passive ability was responsible for more mana regeneration than we would like. We want to keep the necessary benefit it grants to tanking Protection paladins, while making it less powerful for Holy paladins in PvP or raid encounters with a lot of group damage.

    Kings to Baseline. Thank goodness for that, it really was the only sane choice. The only question will be just what replaces it in Tier 1 Protection and whether or not Ret will be tempted to grab it.

    Exorcism being usuable against all targets is a very interesting one. I was in the process of drafting a post about how the Ulduar raid could be a problem for Ret DPS due to the abscence of Exorcism, Holy Wrath and the Sense Undead glyph and it's actually nice to trash that one. It also provides for an interesting possible secondary effect for CS - Chance to refresh your Exorcism cooldown, but more importantly it also gives Holy a much needed mana dump for damage. Glyph of Exorcism will be an absolute stone-cold cert for first chosen in PvP - 2 seconds of interrupt on a 15 second cooldown? Yes please!

    Shield of the Templar allows Prot some significant control against casters, though Silence effects are always a potential issue due to immunities. Linking it to Avengers Shield and Shield of Righteousness is an interesting choice as it has the potential to really screw with casters in PvP. Throw in Seal of Justice and pocket Prot becomes a real PITA :D.

    Speaking of Seal of Justice, just when you thought they'd forgotton the spell completely it once again rears it's head. It's linked to Judgements of the Just which is a strange choice that deep in the tree, making me think it's yet another PvP bone being thrown at Prot. But what a bone - random stun proc plus a much shorter HoJ cooldown. However with the existence of this talent it's much more likely that Imp. HoJ will reduce in effectiveness significantly, down to -20 or even -10 seconds. Even I can admit that a 20 or even 10 second HoJ cooldown would be overpowered.

    Does Protection need more Mana regen? Tough to say really, but the increased mana regen from Guarded By The Light would make off-tanking without high incoming damage significantly easier. Chalk this down as a talent I'm simply not sure about, probably because of my lack of tanking experience. Ret would probably murder small fluffy animals for it though ;).

    Finally a lot of talent bloat, in the form of Imp. HoJ, Ardent Defender and One-Handed Spec amongst, will be reduced. Worries will be abound as to just how much the talents' effectiveness will be increased/reduced but a judgement on that will have to wait on the a PTR. Collapsing these talents into one for the 11pt talent could be an option.

    Gosh, Baring the hit to Holy via DP and SA no nerfs announced. How refreshing. There is still no concrete word on the 11pt talent and no real idea what will replace BoK in Tier-1 Prot but nonetheless plenty to chew on. The devil is in the detail but there is nothing there to be too worried about and quite a bit to feel optimistic about.

    Roll on the PTR I say, and some Holy love!

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    Patch 3.1 Mana Regen & Plea Changes.

    Bluester Bornakk has thrown up a post on Mana Regen for Mana-using classes. Here it is in its entirety:

    As we have suggested, we have become concerned that mana regeneration is currently too powerful, especially for healers. We want players to have to keep an eye on mana. We don’t want you to go out of mana every fight, but running out of mana should be a very real risk for sloppy playing or attempting content that you aren’t yet ready for. When mana regeneration is trivial then certain parts of the game break down – classes that offer Replenishment are devalued, stats that offer mana regeneration are devalued, and spells that are efficient are neglected in preference to spells with high throughput.

    Here are a list of changes you are likely to see in 3.1. They will be available to try out on the PTR. Mana regeneration is somewhat technical, so please bear with us.

    * Regeneration while not casting (outside of the “five second rule”) will be decreased. We think that (1) the ability to cast heal over time spells and then sit back and (2) benefitting from a clearcasting proc that also gets you out of the five second rule both provide too much mana regeneration, even over short time periods.

    * To make this change, we are reducing mana regeneration granted by Spirit across the board. However we are also boosting the effects of talents such as Meditation that increase regeneration while casting. The net result should be that your regeneration while casting will stay about the same, but your not-casting regeneration will be reduced. This change will have little impact on dps casters, since they are basically always casting.

    * The specific talents and abilities being boosted are: Arcane Meditation, Improved Spirit Tap, Intensity, Mage Armor, Meditation, Pyromaniac and Spirit Tap. Yes this makes these “mandatory” talents even more mandatory, if such a thing is possible.

    * Since paladins rely less on Spirit as a mana-regeneration stat, we have to address them in other ways. We don’t want to change Illumination or Replenishment. However, we are going to increase the healing penalty on Divine Plea from 20% to 50%. Divine Plea was originally intended to help Protection and Retribution paladins stay full on mana. It should be a decision for Holy paladins, not something that is automatically used every cooldown.

    * In addition, we are also changing the way Spiritual Attunement works. In situations with a large amount of outgoing raid damage, as well as in PvP, this passive ability was responsible for more mana regeneration than we would like. We want to keep the necessary benefit it grants to tanking Protection paladins, while making it less powerful for Holy paladins in PvP or raid encounters with a lot of group damage.

    * We are also taking a close look at clearcasting procs themselves. One likely outcome is to change them to an Innervate-like surge of mana so that the net benefit is the same, but healers won’t shift to out-of-casting regeneration so often.

    * We balance around the assumption that even 10-player groups have someone offering Replenishment. To make this even easier on players we are likely to offer this ability to additional classes, as well as make sure that existing sources of Replenishment are more equitable.

    * These changes are ultimately being done to bring the different healing classes more in line with each other as well as to give the encounter team more leeway when designing encounters, who can balance with these new mana regeneration numbers in mind. In a world with infinite healer mana, the only way to challenge healers is with increasingly insane amount of raid damage, so that global cooldowns become the limiting factor since mana fails to be. An example is the Eredar Twins in late Sunwell. We weren’t necessarily happy with that model, and this change hopefully allows us to move towards giving healing a more deliberate and thoughtful pace rather than frenetic spam. (Source)

    This has been on the cards since mana became something of a non-issue for Healers. It's interesting that they are choosing to decrease regen potential (for Spirit users) rather than increasing mana cost, and thankfully this means that off-spec's won't be penalised too harshly. Divine Plea gets a big fat smack to the face, and this will be tough to take as it is our primary source of mana regen which we try to run whenever the cooldown is up. More consideration will obviously be needed in deciding when to pop DP, but OTOH Blizzard must take care not to create encounters which require DP to be utilised at every opportunity.

    I wasn't aware that Spiritual Attunement was a big deal for Holy, even on AoE-heavy fights. This could prove to be a big balance problem in 3.1 as Ret still relies on Spiritual Attunement for a not insignificant proportion of their regen. My guess that the fix would entail a talent providing a benefit for a trade-off by reducing the effectiveness of SA. Illumination would be the most obvious target for this change as it is still a staple of Holy builds. Other avenues for change would probably affect the class roles too far, even simple changes such as making SA depend on Righteous Fury being up.

    Spirit-using classes are most affected by the full extent of the changes, and it is reasonable IMO for Mana to once again become an limitation for healers to prevent 'out-lasting' raid encounters for victory (e.g. the loss of 2/3 of the raid by 50% and still being able to complete the encounter).

    Still waiting on the 3.1 primer for Paladins (as well as other classes), I'd expect it today or tomorrow.

    Keeping My Fingers Crossed.

    The first round of 3.1 information has been coming out overnight with Rogues, Priests and Shaman being the lucky ones.

    Here's hoping we see something this week for Paladins, and that it's fun. Divine Spirit's movement to a baseline ability makes me hopeful that the same change will apply to Kings.

    Thanks to Merlot at Misery for the heads up.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Meter Madness.

    The developmental philosophy change I most applaud is that the barrier to entry for raiding has been significantly reduced. It is, in effect, as low as it has been since post-1.4 UBRS (that's Upper Blackrock Spire for you young'uns) allowed 15 randoms a reasonable expectation of success so long as they had bought/borrowed/stolen a clue. Unfortunately this newly rediscovered accessibility has combined with access to metered statistics which results in almost obsessive meter watching. These meters are being used not to benchmark their own performance but rather to judge their performance against their peers, a pretty absurd proposition.

    Highest DPS Doesn't Mean Most Valued Player.

    I have a confession to make. In my second VoA-10 PuG I was pretty stoked when I topped the DPS chart, but really I had no right to be. Remove my DPS and replace it with the average of the other 5 DPSers and the encounter would still have been downed easily. In retrospect the absolute DPS value I attained was much more important because it was a character developmental benchmark to judge future performances on.

    As long as the raid DPS can meet the DPS requirement to down the boss before the enrage hits relative performance between players is fairly meaningless. Other measures, often not captured on less than a WWS-level readout, tell a much more detailed and hence valuable story. Take VoA for instance. You're rocking 2.7k DPS but like a nub you've spent a quarter of the fight eating 2k/sec in a gas cloud, stretching your healers unnecessarily and reducing the chance of beating the encounter. Or you may have pulled aggro once or twice because you haven't kept an eye on the tanks threat level. Sorry mate, but the MVP is going to the Druid who kept your sorry ass alive when he shouldn't have had to.

    Similar nub-tests are abound (many raids run an add-on for Satharion for the specific purpose of tracking those caught in lava waves) but simple DPS meters never capture that l33t DPSers idiocy. As encounters increase in difficulty the punitive punishment for this lack of awareness will increase but only then will this lack of skill be obvious and highlighted.

    Absolute Healing Returns Are Meaningless.

    Lance[1] eloquently describes just how complicated data analysis truly is, and how data capture of healing performance cannot tell the whole story. Qualitative and quantitative analysis go hand in hand, and meter watching is the most superficial form of the latter. The psychology of healer meter watching is subtly different from that of the DPSer and often is used to decry just how underpowered their class is because they are low on a meter. Relevant analysis which may take into account timing, efficient use of GCD's and passive regen amongst other metrics as well.

    The best Healer communities rigorously analyse encounters, spells and glyphs for theorycrafting purposes and never rely on absolute values to judge the worth of a classes healing. They understand the value of fast-heals vs slow-heals and the efficiency trade-off necessary in order to be effective in the healing. Perhaps most importantly, these communities work under a system of mutual co-operation rather than antagonism.

    Never, ever ask for healing meters. This goes double if you aren't playing a healer.

    Newsflash: Different Encounters Suit Different Classes

    Sorry to break it to you but sometimes you're dominating that chart because other classes are limited by the fight, for example encounters with PBAoE suits ranged DPS, periodic stuns suit classes which can front-load DPS, etc. In addition, other players may have special roles they need to fulfil so the raid is successful (tranq shot rotations, add kiting etc.). Don't believe that your DPS is in any way more important than these crucial encounter-specific roles, nor that your high DPS hasn't caused problems which other players have had to make allowances for.

    A Reversal Coming in 3.1?

    The low entry requirements for Naxx, VoA and Sarth need not be replicated in Ulduar/[Random Dragon] Sanctum/3.1's Other One-shot raids. In fact, in order to provide guilds with a genuine skill progression path these raids should be a Tier in difficulty above what we currently see. More difficult encounters with a higher requirement for skill will hopefully encourage players to appreciate other factors to their gameplay than the bottom-line.

    Meters To Judge Your Own Improvements.

    Meters do have their uses yet on their own they can't provide a firm baseline from which improvement may be judged. DPS Classes scale supremely well with raid buffs and so the absence of a particular class can impact disproportionately upon your personal DPS, but this may not be captured in a conventional meter. In 10-man raids this effect is even more significant as raid composition tends to vary significantly. WWS logs will capture this information and more besides and the act of WWS logging and look-up tends to run counter to the meter whoring most often seen.

    If you have a stable 10-man group it can sometimes be a good measure of improved performance for particular encounters but you have to be careful not to chase meters to the exclusion of other factors. As Josh might say, 'The Dead Don't Do DPS'.

    And if you really want to find out your own DPS... GET YOUR OWN DAMN METER!.

    Asked for a Meter Reading?

    Display a 'damage taken' meter rather than damage done. That tends to shut people up.

    Further Reading

    WoW Webstats
    Recount DPS Meter at Curse Gaming

    Sunday, February 01, 2009

    Superbowl Has Served Its' Purpose.

    Provided me with Transformers 2 Teaser Trailer.

    Looks Awesome.

    Looks like Combiners may make an appearance. <3 Devastator.

    Also <3 links to non-Youtube video sources.

    EDIT: Grammar innit.

    Fake Patch Notes - Comedy Gold.

    I especially liked:

    • Beacon of Light: Will now transfer 100% of all healing done to the beacon, instead of just effective healing.


    • Crusader Strike: Now Instantly causes 125% weapon damage as holy damage and increases all holy damage done to the target by 2% for 6 seconds, stacks up to 5 times.

    Special mention to:

    • Shapeshifting no longer costs mana, but there is now a 3 second cooldown.

    Whoever writes these things needs his own stand-up gig. Ever since 1.1 they've been geniunely hilarious, even more so due to the uproar they can cause on the forums.

    If you haven't read them, check them out on Wow Insider here.

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