Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vindication for Ret Engineers Too Stubborn to Change?

Well, the changes to Seal mechanics have shaken up the DPS Rating landscape. Seal of Blood/ Seal of the Martyr will now contribute much more and Judgement much less to overall DPS. SoB is a little strange in that it has double-dependence on miss mechanics: the auto-attack which procs SoB rolls for Dodge/Parry/Miss, and then if it hits the SoB Proc also rolls for Dodge/Parry/Miss. Because of these mechanics Hit Rating, once the 'second best but not worth socketing for' Stat, is now almost on a par with Strength before Cap. Time to go out and buy those Etched Monarch Topaz for your yellow Sockets if you're below the hit cap; +4 of any Rating as a socket bonus will be better than +16 Strength. Expertise is also very, very nice, though not as good as Strength or Hit and so not really worth socketing for.

But that's not the best part. For some time now Retribution Engineering has been lacking a 'Best In Slot' equipment enhancement unique to the profession. Blacksmiths have the sockets, Jewelcrafters have the (frankly obscene) Prismatic +27 Str gems and Enchanters have the ring enchants. Well finally it appears that Engineering has something to show off:

At last. With the cumulative impact of the Haste Rating boost to melee DPS (+30% effectiveness) and greater dependence on Seal Proc damage, Haste trounces Attack Power and is up there dukeing it out with Crit and Agility as third best stat. This means that the Hyperspeed Accelerators are better than Enchant Gloves:Crusher (+44 AP) and Enchant Gloves:Precision (+20 Hit Rating) for your average Hammer-toting Ret Pally. As it is an activated effect on 1 minute cooldown you can also synchronise it with Avenging Wrath and activated trinkets for a cumulative boost to DPS. Yay?

Well, I think it deserves a yay ;P

Other News:

There was a minor build deployed to the PTR this morning but it doesn't appear that there is anything Paladin-oriented to bitch about. I'm starting to write a Ret Paladin primer for 3.1 featuring talent and skill changes, stat weighting changes and new skills and rotations etc. Would that be useful to anyone or should I knock it into touch before I get too far?

Also, Guitar Hero is Hard :(

Thursday, March 26, 2009

PTR Build [9733] Changes: JoB Toned Down, SoB Toned Up!

UPDATE: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the current build is a little buggy, especially with regards to SoB/SotM. SoB has the boosted Seal damage shown on the tooltip but it's Judgement damage is still at 3.0.9 level of scaling. Seal of the Martyr has correctly had it's Judgement damage nerfed but the Seal damage hasn't been raised to the levels on the tooltip as compensation.

Because of this, testing DPS levels with a SoB/tM Ret Paladin isn't going to provide accurate results unless the correct coeffs are hotfixed. Horde Paladins will be doing significantly more damage than they should, and Alliance Paladins significantly less.


Just a mini-patch to the PTR today, probably to sort out a few Raid issues. Still, we get to see a couple of Paladin changes nonetheless:

Paladin Changes
* Seal of the Martyr now makes all your melee attacks deal [ 48% of min weapon damage ] to [ 48% of max weapon damage ] (up from 22%) additional Holy damage. Unleashing this Seal's energy instantly causes [ 11% of AP + 18% of Spell Power + 26% of min weapon damage ] to [ 11% of AP + 18% of Spell Power + 26% of max weapon damage ] (Down from 16/25/36%) Holy damage at the cost of health equal to 33% of the damage caused.
* Seal of Blood now makes all your melee attacks deal [ 48% of min weapon damage ] to [ 48% of max weapon damage ] (up from 22%) additional Holy damage. Unleashing this Seal's energy instantly causes [ 11% of AP + 18% of Spell Power + 26% of min weapon damage ] to [ 11% of AP + 18% of Spell Power + 26% of max weapon damage ] (Down from 16/25/36%) Holy damage at the cost of health equal to 33% of the damage caused.
* Crusader's Strike has been reverted back to normal - An instant strike that causes 110% weapon damage.
* Sacred Shield now properly scales with Spell Power from Sheathe of Light.


* Divine Guardian *New Talent* - Tier 4 - Improve the effectiveness of your Divine Sacrifice spell by an additional 5/10% and increases the duration of your Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.


Ouch, Seal of Blood will hit like an absolute truck, but the Judgement won't be nearly as damaging. Also, Haste just got a huge boost with this change and will be almost as good as Crit, making the Engineering Gloves Enhancement finally valuable! Other preliminary reports are that Hit and Expertise will now scale better than Strength, making getting Capped all the more important (though you will want to be Hit capped at least for JotW mana regen). So, all change for 'BiS' potentially.

The new Divine Guardian talent is great, purely because of the increased duration and power of Sacred Shield. At Tier 4 it is however a little deep for both Holy and Ret, not least down to Tier 2 and 3 having little of value for either build. This is partly down to Divine Sacrifice being such dross... but I think I've beaten that particular drum enough. For now.

One of the questions raised by the change of wording is whether or not the Seal recoil will be dispensed with. Unfortunately the realms are still down so we can't check the exact mechanics, but it is a nice thought to sleep on.

ADDED: 10% Seal Damage Recoil is still in. However the damage is enough for JoL alone to deal with as it procs. JoB recoil damage is still at 33%, but hopefully won't be quite so much of an issue (still wondering what purpose it serves though...).

Also, some good news. Sacred Shield scale with Sheathe of Light Spell Damage. With a 75% coeff I might add. Definitely not to be sniffed at.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brief Ret Mana Notes.

Jetliner Asks:

I try and catch your blog just about every day. I just wanted to get your insight on some mathematics / theory crafting on the Judgments of Wise.
"* Judgements of the Wise now immediately grant you 25% of your base mana. (Up from 15%) [Needed to go up, but is this enough?]" your quote from your blog.
Currently on live my gear has me at 5700 mana. This would be my base mana correct? If so that would mean on live I would get 855 mana back if my math is right for JotW at 15%.
Now on the PTR if I had same char with 5700 mana, with new JotW at 25% my math tells me I should get around 1425 mana back. Is that also correct?
I have not done any math/theory around the mana from replenishment, but given those numbers you dont think that Ret; when geared with around 5500 base mana; would be able to sustain themselves?
Given that all ret should have Imp Judgements reducing CD to 8 seconds and then if they even have 4 peice of T7/T7.5 they would get another 1 second off CD. Would this in turn do 1400 mana every 7 seconds?

Thank you for your time
Long time fellow Retadin
Jetliner - Elune - US servers

It's a good question and I'm hoping to have a more in-depth look at it once 3.1 is finalised and goes live. However there are a bit of terminology we need to clear up when approaching this calculation.

Base Mana.

It's something that has caught out many a player. Base mana is not your mana whilst naked, it is instead your mana whilst naked minus the mana from base intellect's contribution. This value is the same for all Paladins: 4394 Mana.

This means that a 25% Base Mana Regen JotW will regen ~ 1100 mana, and Judgement of Wisdom procs (2% base) will return 88 mana.

Anyway, now that's out the way we need to move on to a theoretical Time Till Out Of Mana (TTOOM). For this we need a construct a reasonable set of average cooldowns for each ability. The following is a good approximation:

AbilityMana CostModelled Cooldown (secs)
Crusader Strike3156.5
Divine Storm47410.5

No net mana consumption model would be complete without Divine Plea and Replenishment. Of course, both abilities regen mana based on Total Mana rather than base so it isn't a set amount - the more you buff your mana the better (love your mages, and they will give you their love in return). Generally speaking, a lvl80 Total Mana of 5700 before buffs is reasonable. These two abilities combined make a significant dent in your mana deficit.

And finally we need an approx regen rate contribution for Judgement of Wisdom. Unfortunately this isn't simple as the proc rates for this skill are unpredictable. Empirically a figure of around 35 mana per second for a full Ret rotation is a good enough low estimate (yep, JoW rocks).

Cranking the handle of a pretty simple mana consumption model indicates the following:

  • When unbuffed and using JoLight a Ret Paladin should have a TTOOM of a little over a minute and a half. This is the baseline self-sustainable requirement as JoL is required to offset SoB recoil damage, and 25% JotW obviously doesn't cut it here.
  • When unbuffed and using JoWisdom a Ret Paladin should have a TTOOM of almost 5'30". This is the baseline Instance case as recoil damage should be handled by your party healers.
  • When Raid buffed for 25-man encounters, Ret's net mana consumption is effectively nil. This 25-man Raid case is sustainable in that it requires no special or exotic cooldowns, and allows utility spells such as Hand of Salvation, Flash of Light and the like to be brought in where appropriate.
  • Reach the Hit Cap! A missed Judgement represents a big hole in your mana pool.
  • Buffing total mana, even if only using a Scroll of Intellect VIII (48 Int), has a very significant effect on TTOOM as it increases both total mana and regen rates.
  • BoW and Mana Spring represent significant mana regen buffs in this context. These buffs should not be underestimated.
  • There is no convincing case for using the new Glyph of Seal of Blood over the Exorcism, Judgement and Consecration glyphs in 25-man or 5-man encounters.
  • Long, 10-man Hard-mode encounters will be very rough. Ret will almost certainly need to swap out the Glyph of Exorcism for Glyph of Seal of Blood and Judge Wisdom to last the whole fight. Runic mana pots and self-LoH may also make an appearance. However BoW or Mana Spring totem changes the calculation significantly.

  • Tentatively, I'd say that Ret will be fine in terms of mana for 3.1 so long as the mob we are striking is debuffed with JoW. We won't really be self-sustainable and still do optimal DPS for the situation, and you can forget about utility off-healing and the like. 10-man Hard Mode encounters will continue to be the litmus test, and will almost certainly require specific group composition purely for Ret's mana. Additionally, I've not modelled sub-20% HoW rotations, where mana consumption currently increases significantly. I maintain that a talent reducing the mana cost of Consecration by 50% or more is the best solution to increasing longevity.

    It's a good start, but my gut tells me there's a long way to go. The question is: is Ret supposed to be Hard Mode viable?

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Updated: Ret Paladin Changes on the 3.1 PTR!


    Boo, hiss:

    One correction:

    * Crusader Strike is now An instant strike that causes 110% weapon damage. In addition, if you strike a player while they are casting, their magical damage and healing will be reduced by 50% for 6 sec.

    That is not an official change. It is something we were experimenting with, but not a change we are going to make for 3.1.

    The short story is that while we want to make Crusader Strike a more exciting ability, we don't think that this is the way to go about it. The "Overpower debuff" won't really give them anything more interesting in PvE. In PvP it isn't as game-changing for a warrior who already had access to an interrupt and the Mortal Strike debuff. Giving both of those to a paladin could be very game-changing and not the kind of thing we are ready to do without a lot more testing.

    Sorry for any confusion. Sometimes in our haste to update the PTR as often as we can, you get a chance to see behind the curtain a little more than we intend. :)

    Oh well, to be expected given that the forums went ape-**** as soon as the change was uncovered. That people still see Ret as overpowered in PvP never fails to amaze.


    Someone give me GC's mail address, the man deserves some cake. There are quite a few Ret changes on the PTR, as well as some interesting additional changes to the SoB/tM Glyph and Holy Tier 8:

    Paladin Changes


    * Divine Plea now only reduces the amount healed by your Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Holy Shock spells.
    * Aura Mastery tooltip has been modified to properly reflect its 10 seconds duration.


    * Divine Sacrifice tooltip has been modified to properly reflect its 10 seconds duration.


    * Divine Storm now causes 110% of weapon damage to up to 4 enemies within 8 yards. - [Old was 100% of weapon damage. If you take Art of War you will see 121% on your in-game tooltip.]
    * Righteous Vengeance now also affects Crusader Strike.
    * Crusader Strike is now An instant strike that causes 110% weapon damage. In addition, if you strike a player while they are casting, their magical damage and healing will be reduced by 50% for 6 sec. [Pure Buff. The 121% you may see on your tooltip in game includes the Art of War talent] (See Above)
    * Judgements of the Wise now immediately grant you 25% of your base mana. (Up from 15%) [Needed to go up, but is this enough?]


    * Glyph of Seal of Blood -- When your Seal of Blood, Seal of the Martyr, Judgement of Blood, or Judgement of the Martyr deals damage to you, you gain 11% of the damage done as mana. (Old - Glyph of Seal of Blood -- Your Seal of Blood or Seal of the Martyr increases the mana received from Spiritual Attunement by 10% while active.)


    Tier 8 Set Bonus changes:

    * Paladin T8 Protection 2P Bonus (Class: Paladin) -- Increases the damage done by your Seals of Vegeance, Corruption, and Righteousness by 10%. (Old - Increases the damage done by your Seals by 10%.) - [This was down to the possibility that Ret paladins would feel tempted to grab 2 piece Prot-T8 for the damage bonus to SoBlood. I'm not convinced that it was a real issue as a lot of Crit and Hit would be lost in the process.]
    * Paladin T8 Protection 4P Bonus (Class: Paladin) -- Shield of Righteousness now increases your shield block value by 225 for that attack and for 3 sec afterward. - [Just a tooltip clarification, this was already in effect. Still not a great T8 bonus, almost certainly not something to grab over BiS items from hard-mode encounters]
    * Paladin T8 Holy 4P Bonus (Class: Paladin) -- Your Sacred Shield can now trigger its effect every 4 sec instead of every 6. (Old - Increases the damage absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 10%.) - [A much more significant T8 bonus than previous as long as the coeff per proc isn't affected, effectively 50% boost over the base spell and greater up-time for the FoL increased crit rate]

    Mmmmmm, delicious.

    For the record, I'm not convinced that a 25% base mana JotW is enough mana to allow Ret to self-sustain a rotation without some form of mana cost reduction in Consecration. The changes to DS and CS should go some way towards making our PTR DPS competitive with other hybrids. Not removing Judgement of Blood's feedback damage is a bit of a downer, but you can't have everything ;). It also may be that the Glyph of SoB/tM is required to be functional for PvE raiding, which as design goes isn't that good an idea. We'll see how things develop, as there's still only 3 pts in Tier 10 hopefully things aren't quite finished.

    The Divine Plea change is very welcome. This means that all Paladins (esp. Tankadins) will gain the full benefit from cast heals which count as self-heals (ProM, Earth Shield), Judgement of Light and Lay of Hands. It was key for Prot because of the new talent allowing Divine Plea to run 100% of the time.

    All very promising. We'll see tomorrow if there are any undocumented changes to be aware of.

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Congratulations Ireland!

    Ireland beat Wales 15-17 this weekend to win the Six Nations Championship, also winning the Triple Crown and completing the Grand Slam in the process.

    I grew up with Rugby in the 1990's when Ireland's showing on the international stage was at a real low ebb, and it has been great to see Welsh and Irish Rugby once again take centre stage in the N. Hemisphere. This years' Grand Slam builds on the great work by the Irish RFU over the last decade and is nothing less than they deserve. Hopefully the other nations, including my beloved England, will step up to the plate in 2010 and reach or surpass the standards Ireland set this year. Until then, roll on the Lions Tour of 2009.

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    PTR Build [9074] Paladin Updates and Analysis.

    A new PTR is up! Check out MMO-Champion for the latest news.

    10 and 25-man sets are up on MMO-Champ too. Looks like the 10-man set is the White/Bronze recolour, 25-man is Purple/Red/Bronze (aka the ugly colour scheme).

    Paladin Tier 8 Set Bonus'
    * Paladin T8 Retribution 2P Bonus -- Increases the damage done by your Exorcism and Hammer of Wrath abilities by 10%.
    * Paladin T8 Retribution 4P Bonus -- Increases the critical strike chance of your Divine Storm and Crusader Strike abilities by 10%.
    * Paladin T8 Protection 2P Bonus -- Increases the damage done by your Seals by 10%.
    * Paladin T8 Protection 4P Bonus -- Shield of Righteousness now increases your shield block value by 225 for 3 sec.
    * Paladin T8 Holy 2P Bonus -- Your Holy Shock critical heals now also place a periodic healing effect on the target, healing for 15% of the Holy Shock's heal amount over 9 sec.
    * Paladin T8 Holy 4P Bonus -- Increases the damage absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 10%.

    Paladin Tier 8 Relics
    # Paladin T8 Protection Relic (Sacred Shield?)-- Increases your block rating by 136 while Holy Shield is active.
    # Paladin T8 Holy Relic (Resolute?) -- Increases spell power of Holy Light by 160.
    # Paladin T8 Retribution Relic (Discord?) -- Increases the damage done by Divine Storm by 235.


    * Spiritual Attunement has been removed from trainers and is now available in the Protection tree (Tier 7)


    * Swift Retribution now affects all auras.


    Ghostcrawler Quote on Divine Plea:

    We'll discuss changing Divine Plea to just Flash of Light, Holy Light and Holy Shock. (Source)

    This will help with Prot using LoH as an oh-**** button in Raids, aswell as deal with bugs whereby Earthshield and PoM heals don't also get hit for the 50% healing reduction.

    Looks like that's it. I can't say I'm not disappointed. No substantial changes apart from SA finally reaching talent status, and certainly no Retribution changes to mana regen or DPS.

    It will be very interesting to see how well Ret Tier 8 competes with Tier 7 on the set bonus', they should be better or equal but I don't have the math to hand to judge. Prot Set Bonus' are awful, especially compared to Warrior Prot T8. The Ret Libram looks decidedly poor (mainly because it is Divine Storm-based) measured against the Deadly Glad libram and perhaps even the T7 one after cooldowns and scaling is taken into account. The Prot (wooohooo, block rating *rolleyes) and Holy (yay overheal!) ones look to be almost downgrades from the ilvl 200 Librams.

    Still, at least we know where Spiritual Attunement is going to sit. Funny really as it's not nearly as deep as I though it was going to be, holy builds with it and Holy Shock are still possible and may represent a gimmick build for gimmick fights.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    On SoBs Recoil, Losing SA, Don't Cry For SoC

    A Brief History Lesson.

    Seal of Blood was first part of our Spellbooks in 2.0 and throughout all of the Burning Crusade expansion was Horde-Only. Because the damage it did was slightly higher than Seal of Command there had to be some trade-off, and that trade-off was a moderate self-damage component. I say 'moderate' because although the ratio of total seal/judgement damage to recoil damage hasn't changed the on-cast damage of Judgement of Blood was low relative to raiding health totals. The point of this was for balance to exist between factions, not vs other classes. The law of unintended consequences then took charge and allowed Horde Paladins a substantial lead, though this was mainly due to SoB's scaling with Haste (FWIW both SoC and SoB now scale with haste).

    What do we do about Seal of Blood/The Martyr?

    It's important to realise that the self-damage component was not an intentional design component to exploit Spiritual Attunement. With SA's elimination from the baseline toolset there is no design necessity for SoB to continue to inflict recoil damage. In fact, in order to correctly address Ret damage, self-inflicted damage and mana requirements it is sensible to decouple damage done from mana regen. In this regard the removal of Spiritual Attunement from the Retribution toolset is a good thing if other sources of mana regen are tweaked to make up for the shortfall.

    The Seal components' recoil damage isn't too bad. JoB on the other hand presents a very real problem. Since Wrath launched JoB damage has been scaling impressively but the accompanying recoil damage has too. Fourty-five percent of Weapon swing damage plus a healthy AP and SD coeff will do that. Health totals haven't scaled proportionally. Recoil-damage of more than 4k HP in a single GCD isn't uncommon and fights with a increased damage gimmick bring a very real chance of self-inflicted death even in only moderate AoE damage situations. With AoE damage and especially unpredictable AoE spike damage increasing greatly in Ulduar Ret Paladins are going to have significant difficulty not freaking out their healers or self-gibbing in 3.1, and as DPS gear improves the situation will only get worse. For progression kills this is a big deal and may pressure raids into benching Ret for certain fights, especially Hard-mode encounters.

    The solution is simple: remove JoB recoil damage. Without SA it won't generate mana and the recoil damage trade-off for quality DPS no longer has any merit. The only reason to keep it is if you want to remove Ret from Ulduar raids.

    Replacing Spiritual Attunement: Of Equal Concern.

    Retribution mana in 3.0.9 is precariously balanced, and extremely tight in fights with no AoE damage. In 3.1 current mana regen mechanics need to be augmented or supplemented in order to make up for the shortfall and allow us to do the DPS we are balanced around. Remember that SA isn't the only thing we're losing, those lucky enough to be in a group with a Shaman will lose out on Mana Spring totem, a cool ~100 mana per 5.

    I deserve big props for avoiding the obvious joke.

    Read up on the General Vezax encounter and imagine the impact it would have on Ret as things stand on the PTR. There is no reason why Ret mana shouldn't be self-sustainable when performing its' rotation. Enhancement Shaman will enjoy nearly limitless mana for their own rotation in 3.1 and good design dictates that this should be the case for Ret too. We can do this in 3 ways:

    1) Increase the mana returned via JotW. In order to replace SA over your average raid Judgement of the Wise would have to be buffed back up to 33% of base mana. Just to replace mana gained from JoB's recoil being healed requires a buff to 20% of base and this isn't enough for encounters longer than 3 minutes. 33% may be problematic in PvP with Holy gaining access to the skill... if it really is an issue stick it down a couple of Tiers.

    2) Massively reduce ability mana cost. Just negating the mana cost of Consecration would free up 20% of base mana per ~10 seconds. New talents which make DPS rotations cheaper could make the world of difference (e.g. make CS and Judgement crits cause the next Consecration or DS cast consume no mana). In this case Ret mana would still be unsustainable (at extreme fight lengths) but manageable.

    3) New mana regen 'on hit' effect, possibly via CS or DS and linking with the Judgement debuff on the target. Huge number of options, much more interesting from a design PoV, no risk for Holy PvP imbalance. Both option 2 and 3 have the pleasant side-effect of improving the value of Hit and Expertise vs Strength.

    Unfortunately, I've absolutely no idea of the direction Blizzard intends to take. I just hope they don't simply buff JotW and be done with it.

    How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria Command?

    So, with a redesigned SoB better in every aspect than SoCommand what do you do with it? Well, the obvious answer is to remove it as a talent and stick it to baseline @lvl20 as a levelling Seal. This mirror's reality as (apart from fights were SoB recoil is of issue) SoC has already been relegated to that role. Alternatively the spell can be removed completely to be replaced by a new recoil-less SoB at 11pts Ret, meaning that 2 baseline skills would migrate to the talent trees in 3.1. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence in Blizzards design team. The solutions to SoC are straightforward as a buffed SoB amounts to intentionally marginalising it to a levelling Seal. Tough call this late in the game but it's probably time to do a complete redesign if we want to see it in the end-game, or have the spell pulled completely.

    In Conclusion...

    ... yet

  • The axing of Spiritual Attunement is not the end of the world if equal mana regen can be gained elsewhere.

  • JoB recoil damage needs to be massively toned-down or preferably eliminated entirely. It serves no purpose and increasingly is a millstone around our necks.

  • Fretting over the state of SoCommand is not a good enough reason for inaction. If it is useless, remove it. If it can be valuable baseline then move it there. Sort SoB out first!

  • There are 3 weeks left till the planned release of 3.1 and it seems unlikely that they'd delay the release purely to balance one classes spec. With a new build released every Friday that doesn't leave much time to get both Ret Mana and Damage correct, but it is enough. With luck and a following wind we should see something this week.

    Presupposing that we are functionally stable and competitive in Ulduar I hope to see a more comprehensive addressing of Paladin mechanics after 3.1. Paladins could do with something to really shake up rotations and make fights more interesting.

    Sorry for the long post everyone ;).

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    That Spiritual Attunement Change

    Quick question apropos nothing much. Is the change to Spiritual Attunement, from baseline ability to talent, the first time a baseline ability has become a talent? There are plenty of examples of the opposite, Blessing of Kings being the latest instance, but I can't recall this specific direction of change since the game started.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    [UPDATED] Spiritual Attunement Goes M.I.A. on the PTR


    From MMO-Champion, the latest PTR notes:

    # Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.

    Good. I'm not convinced by talents specifically required for a role to be viable (imagine if Prot Warriors couldn't regen Rage from damage without a deep Prot talent) but as compromises go this is reasonable. Holy and Ret is out of luck for off-tanking roles ('Dual-specs won't affect how we design classes'? yeah, right) due to a lack of sufficient mana regen in Prot gear.

    Thanks to Will in comments.


    There is a curious change on the PTR. It seems that Spiritual Attunement no longer exists for a lot of Paladins. Keen to get the run-down on any undocumented changes I logged into the PTR and this is what I discovered.

    Paladin #1: Janae

    Janae was the first Paladin I copied across, and as you can see she has SA Rank 2 (but not Rank 1) in her Spellbook and regens mana correctly from a heal cast on her.

    Paladin #2: Muggins

    Muggins was the second Paladin I copied across. She has neither Rank 1 nor Rank 2 in her Spellbook and they aren't trainable. When healed she does not regen any mana (and no, it wasn't a self-heal or overheal). Both these two characters are Jana, copied from Live to the PTR about a week apart, so they both have the same baseline skills learnt.

    Finally, I thought to check whether the trainer has the skill available anywhere in the list of skills to train. I created a lvl1 Paladin (Sztest) and ran her over to the Paladin trainer in Stormwind. This is what I saw:

    My gut instinct is that Spiritual Attunement is in the process of going the way of the dodo, and the changes to Guarded by the Light are designed to allow Protection to function without the mana regen on heals mechanic. The aim of all this is of course to reduce the mana regen'd by Holy on fights with heavy AoE, but this seem like a very roundabout way of doing it. I'm also not convinced that Protection can sustain a decent threat rotation without the sort of Mana regened from SA, and Ret is certainly gimped by this. Paladin tanking Pre-71 will also become extremely troublesome.

    The patch notes, which are due to be updated soon, may shed some light on things. I'll update this post as and when I know more.

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    PTR Build 9684 Paladin Changes

    New patch news for Paladins:


    * Greater Blessing of Sanctuary now gives the target 2% of maximum displayed mana when the target blocks, parries, or dodges a melee attack.


    * Judgements of the Pure was moved from Tier 10 to Tier 9.
    * Sacred Cleansing was moved from Tier 9 to Tier 8.
    * Enlightened Judgements was moved from Tier 9 to Tier 10.
    * Infusion of Light was moved from Tier 8 to Tier 10.
    * Blessed Hands now reduces the mana cost of Hand of Freedom, Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Salvation by 15/30%, increases the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50% and the effectiveness of Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%.
    * Aura Mastery now causes your Concentration Aura to make all affected targets immune to Silence and Interrupt effects and improve the effect of all other auras by 100%. [This has a 2 minute cooldown, 10 second duration]


    * Guarded by the Light got an additional effect - In addition, your Divine Plea spell is 50/100% less likely to be dispelled.
    * [Undocumented] Divine Guardian has been removed. [Divine Guardian was the talent which increased Divine Sacrifice returns and the amount of damage absorbed by Sacred Shield]


    * Sanctified Seals was renamed to Sanctity of Battle, now Increases your chance to critically hit with all spells and attacks by 1/2/3% and increases the damage caused by Exorcism and Crusader Strike by 5/10/15%.


    These are essentially the changes announced in the last patch notes update. That's a lot of talent shuffling for deep holy (one presumes to make holy-PvP talents less reachable with Divine Purpose... unfortunately they also gutted the usefulness of said talents) and the new version of Sanctified Seals which increases Exorcism and CS damage (w00t, more burst damage to be nerfed). Nothing really new except that Blessed Hands reduces Hand mana costs. Whoop-de-****ing-do.

    Tankadins may also be interested in the new Blood Draining enchantment:

    Enchant Weapon - Blood Draining *New* - Permanently enchants your weapon to sometimes grant Blood Reserve when striking an enemy or inflicting damage with bleed attacks. When you fall below 35% health, Blood Reserve restores 1750 to 2250 health. This enchantment requires the wielder is at least level 75.

    How well this interacts with Ardent Defender remains to be seen.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Mana Spring and Blessing of Wisdom to Share Buff Slot.


    I'm an idiot who really should play more Shaman, Eyonix only said the name of the right skill FOUR BLINKING TIMES! Title updated, with my thanks to Isa in comments.

    Hot off the presses we have this from Eyonix:

    We are making a change to these spells so that their benefits are exclusive in patch 3.1.0. The buffs will be equivalent, but will no longer stack. Mana Spring will affect the entire raid instead of just the shaman’s party. We felt that both paladins and shamans brought too many unique buffs to a group. Additionally, we have been trying to tone down mana regeneration in large groups, and were concerned raids would feel the need to stack paladins or especially shaman to have enough Mana Spring totems. We have also been trying to get more benefits out of the party and into the raid, and Mana Spring previously was still a party only buff. With this change, if there is only one paladin, he or she can bring Blessing of Kings while the shaman offers Mana Spring. If there are two paladins and the second offers Blessing of Wisdom, then the shaman can offer healing or cleansing with their water totem instead.


    Can't say that I didn't see this one coming. I wonder if another class is going to get a BoK equivalent in the future, my guess is 'probably'.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    The Consolation Prize

    Good luck to everyone going for Glory of the Raider before 3.1.

    Sunday, March 08, 2009

    More 3.1 Commentary, or 'Because I Wasn't Very Rational Last Time'

    Okay, so I've calmed down, had a few stiff glasses of lemonade and assimilated the latest PTR changes. Here's my take on some changes I haven't really talked about thus far. Warning, long ;).

    Armour and Haste Benefits.

    It went unmentioned by me but not by others: Haste and Armour Penetration are getting a significant boost in 3.1.

    * Armor Penetration Rating: All classes now receive 25% more benefit from Armor Penetration Rating.
    * Haste Rating: Shamans, Paladins, Druids, and Death Knights now receive 30% more melee haste from Haste Rating.

    These are both significant boosts to the two ratings for Retribution. Armour Penetration and Haste Rating will however remain the two least attractive stats for Retribution. Scaling of Haste and Armour Penetration such that the ratings would be as valuable as Crit or even Expertise are unlikely due how valuable these ratings are to Rogues and Warriors. All other changes aside, the amount of Haste on current Ret gear and ArPen on Ulduar gear makes this a clear buff.

    Aura Mastery: (tooltip not yet updated on the PTR)

    Was - Increases the radius of your Auras to 40 yards (this is now default for all Paladin Auras)
    Now - Now makes anyone affected by Concentration Aura to be immune to Interrupt and Silence mechanics and increases the effectiveness of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.

    Key facts:

    1) In the physical buff school and so cannot be dispelled.
    2) May be cast whilst mounted.
    3) Increases the base effect of all Aura's. Aura augmentations such as Imp. Devotion Aura (+6% healing) and Sanctified Retribution (+3% damage) aren't affected by this buff.
    4) Should break aswell as prevent Silence.
    5) May be castable using the effects of a Holy school lockdown. Needs more testing.

    This is a very, very nice change from the 3.0 incarnation of Aura Mastery. I genuinely applaud Blizzard for making all Aura's 40yrds baseline and this seems like an ideal replacement talent. In PvP Holy is extremely vulnerable to interrupts and silences, and preventing raid-wide silences could be of immense value. The ins and outs of the skill remain to be seen, i.e. whether it breaks silences, can be cast under holy-spell cooldown, useable against raid boss debuffs etc, but it looks extremely promising.

    Divine Sacrifice

    * Divine Guardian re-designed: Now increases the effectiveness of Divine Sacrifice by an additional 5/10% and increases the duration of Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.
    * New Talent: Divine Sacrifice: Causes all party/raid members affected by one of the paladin’s auras to transfer 30% of all damage taken to the paladin (maximum of 150% of the paladin’s max health). Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.

    Divine Sacrifice is essentially a re jigging of the current Divine Guardian talent. This buff now acts as a raid-wide Hand of Sacrifice on a cooldown independent of Divine Shield, and has the same untalented limitation of 150% of the casters health (160% with talents). Essentally this is a redirection of 50-60k AoE damage to the Prot Paladin, and synergises very well with Beacon of Light during periods of moderate raid-wide damage. That said, lets do some math.

    E.g. Sapphiron-25.

    The raid takes a very modest 1600 damage every 2 seconds from Frost Aura. The Paladin pops Divine Sacrifice:

    Damage Taken = 1600*0.3*24 + 1600 = 13120 damage every 2 seconds, just from Frost Aura.

    In any fight where mitigating the AoE damage is useful the increased spike damage the Paladin would take having popped Divine Sacrifice would be enough to strain the healers and greatly increase the chance of being gibbed. In situations where the AoE damage is relatively trivial non-Paladin healers have the ability to comfortably deal with the damage.

    This skill strikes me as much more of a Holy paladin talent than a tank talent, and of very marginal value in PvE raid circumstances. Oh, and damage mitagation skills and talents (Imp. RF, Divine Protection) don't reduce the size of damage taken. It would only be useful under the effects of Divine Shield (presupposing it doesn't bypass DS, not a given) and of course under those situations you lose aggro. The incoming damage needs to be mitigated or throttled in such a way that it doesn't pose a significant risk to the tank. Frankly, not a PvE talent ready for prime time, and is only slightly better than Hand of Sacrifice (a baseline skill) in PvP.

    Divine Guardian (Tier 4 Prot) on the other hand is very, very interesting. Extended duration for SS could be a very interesting proposition to the tank without a Paladin healer (or even a tank with one) and must surely be tempting for Holy. Unfortunately the point investment for Holy is a heavy one (including at least 5 wasted points) as opposed to going into Ret and having a decent return from every talent point invested. The position of this skill marginalises it, and could do with being dropped a Tier. Improvements to DSac from this talent are pretty meaningless.

    Oh, and the 'Divine' should be replaced or dropped. We have enough 'Divine' talents thanks.

    Other Points:

    * Divine Plea is once again a magic buff and thus is dispellable.
    * Sacred Shield can only be cast on one player at a time.
    * Blessed Hands: No longer reduces cooldowns of Hand spells. Instead, it improves the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50/100% and Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%.
    * Enlightened Judgements: No longer increases the range of Judgement of Justice. Moved to Tier 10.
    * Infusion of Light: Now increases the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead of reducing cast time. Moved to Tier 10.
    * Judgements of the Pure moved to Tier 9.
    * Sacred Cleansing moved to Tier 8.

    Divine Plea is once again dispellable. Bugger. Stoicism will grant 30% less chance for a dispel and a deep Protection talent (Guarded by the Light) will make it undispellable for those builds. Obvious PvP nerf for Holy and Retribution, especially as the -50% healing debuff has remained in place. Could be a very real issue if Blizzard decide to bring back AoE-dispel mechanics to PvE raids, though that is highly unlikely.

    The Sacred Shield nerf is a pretty hefty nerf to Holy PvE healing, and couples with the nerf to the Glyph of Holy Light (which cannot crit) and Infusion of Light (no more reduction to HL casting time) to make Paladin AoE healing much more difficult than at any time since 3.0 hit. This may well detrimentally impact on the viability of taking Holy Paladins to certain Hard-mode 10-man encounters in Ulduar, but the specifics of the encounter are important. Other raid healers in 25-man encounters should be able to make up for Paladin deficiencies.

    I like the old Blessed hands, I don't like this one. Increased Hand of Salvation effectiveness is meaningless, the spell is hardly ever used even now. Hand of Sacrifice's damage transferred limitation of 100% of the Paladin's health means either 2.5k more damage redirected or may mean an increase in the rate of redirection (from 30% to 40%). With Holy Talent points at a premium for both PvP and PvE Blessed Hands will never see the light of day in any optimum build.

    Deep Holy has been rejigged, perhaps in an attempt to try to kill the 37/0/34 PvP build, but unfortunately the impact is that going deep Holy is now less useful than ever. Deep Holy Talents useful in PvP such as Infusion of Light (no more fast HL) and Enlightened Judgements (no more 30yard JoJ) have been gutted.

    Finally, something rather buggy is going on with Righteous Vengeance. It appears to have been added to the partial (level-difference based) spell resistance table (similar to Consecration) but is resisting at a crazy rate. Its' effectiveness (before resistance) is also only 80% of what the talent should be doing. Like bleed effects such as Deep Wound, RV should not be mitigated in this fashion and allowing it to partially resist in 3.1 would be a massive nerf to the talent in raid-PvE, even when they get the partial resist table right.



    Aura Mastery looks nice, Divine Sacrifice much less so, and Holy has been gutted for PvP and PvE.

    (New Libram is on the PTR but right now is using placeholder stats. Drops from an Ulduar boss.)

    Saturday, March 07, 2009


    Remind me to avoid PvP in 3.1:

    Shattering Throw *New Skill* - Throws your weapon at the enemy causing [ 50% of AP + 12 ] damage (based on attack power), reducing the armor on the target by 20% for 10 sec, and removing any invulnerabilities. 25 Rage, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast, 5 min cooldown

    That's baseline BTW.

    Paladins are extremely powerful in PvP right now.
    Priests are the only class that can break bubbles. We felt another class needed the ability.
    Warriors are weak in PvP right now.
    Warriors needed another reason to want to go to Battle Stance.
    Going to Battle Stance helps to telegraph what the warrior is about to do.
    It just all fit.

    Look, I can understand that Warriors are under-represented in PvP right now, and that Holy Paladins are over-represented. I was however hoping that Blizzard weren't going to try and rectify this by making Ret the personal bitch of every Warrior in the game, and Holy not far behind. Holy is strong because the classes it pairs with are very, very strong. Hunters are so strong that the Professional PvP Tourney on right now has banned some of their talents. In the EU Continental Finals held on Thursday a bleeding Rogue Mage Priest won the whole thing and Paladins were convincingly countered at every step.

    Holy has been battered with the nerf bat this patch, and Ret will be dead for all intents and purposes. The fall in Paladin representation in Season 6 will be spectacular, and I doubt they'll reach even Season 3 levels thereafter. There's PvE to look forward to I guess, that is if they actually boost Ret's DPS and/or Holy are actually capable of dealing with the raid-wide damage

    I guess should say now that this is a PTR, and anything can and will change. But really, what's the ****ing point?

    I'll finish with a throwaway line from Bornakk:



    EDIT: I haven't mentioned how much this skill bones Mages. My apologies, no anti-Mage sentiment was intended in this post.

    EDIT2: Incase you missed it, the latest Paladin Patch Notes can be found here

    Friday, March 06, 2009

    Latest Notes from the 3.1 PTR.

    New Patch Deployed, New Talents, including an 11pt Prot Talent:


    * All paladins auras had their range extended from 30 yards to 40 yards.


    * Sacred Shield now cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
    * Infusion of Light no longer has a chance to reduce the casting time of Holy Light, but increases the the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead.


    * Hand of Sacrifice now lasts 12 sec or until the caster has transfered 100% of their maximum health.
    * Targets affected by Divine Shield, Hand of Protection or Divine Protection can no longer be affected by any of these spell for 2 minutes. (Down from 3 minutes)
    * Divine Sacrifice *New Talent* (Tier 3) - 30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 150% of the Paladin's health). Instant, 2 min cooldown.


    I'm off to watch the Watchmen, I'll try to give some analysis when I get back. My gut feeling is that this is a fairly hefty Holy nerf.


    Updated 3.1 Patch notes with additional changes (mostly PvP). Some are not yet live on the PTR.


    * Auras will now persist through death and affect a 40 yard radius.
    * Blessing of Kings is now trainable at level 20. Removed from talent trees.
    * Hand of Sacrifice: The damage transferred by this ability is now capped by the Paladin’s health.
    * Forbearance reduced to 2 min duration.
    * Sacred Shield: This effect cannot be cast on more than one friendly target at a time.

    * Aura Mastery: Now makes anyone affected by Concentration Aura to be immune to Interrupt and Silence mechanics and increases the effectiveness of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.
    * Blessed Hands: No longer reduces cooldowns of Hand spells. Instead, it improves the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50/100% and Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%.
    * Enlightened Judgements: No longer increases the range of Judgement of Justice. Moved to Tier 10.

    * Improved Concentration Aura: The resistance to silence and interrupt granted by this talent now becomes active when any Aura is used, not just Concentration Aura.
    * Infusion of Light: Now increases the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead of reducing cast time. Moved to Tier 10.
    * Judgements of the Pure moved to Tier 9.
    * Sacred Cleansing moved to Tier 8.

    * Improved Devotion Aura: The additional healing granted by this talent now becomes active when any Aura is used, not just Devotion Aura.
    * Divine Guardian re-designed: Now increases the effectiveness of Divine Sacrifice by an additional 5/10% and increases the duration of Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.
    * Divine Protection: Cooldown reduced to 3 min.
    * New Talent: Divine Sacrifice: Causes all party/raid members affected by one of the paladin’s auras to transfer 30% of all damage taken to the paladin (maximum of 150% of the paladin’s max health). Lasts 10 sec. 2 min cooldown.
    * New Talent: Divinity: Tier-1 protection talent, increases healing done by and to you by 1/2/3/4/5%.
    * Guarded by the Light: Now makes Divine Plea 50/100% less likely to be dispelled. (already undispellable?)
    * Sacred Duty rank 1 now increases Stamina by 4%.

    * Benediction 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%. The damage done by this talent no longer receives modifications from effects that increase or decrease damage done by a percentage. [nerf of really unknown proportions]
    * Sanctified Retribution: The bonus to damage done granted by this talent now becomes active when any Aura is used, not just Retribution Aura.
    * Sanctified Seals: Renamed Sanctity of Battle. Now also increases damage done by Exorcism and Crusader Strike by 5/10/15%.

    Emphasis mine.

    I wasn't sure how they could do it, but they've succeeded in making deep Holy even less tempting for PvP. The new Aura Mastery will be interesting... no, wait, PURGE! Divine Plea to become dispellable again? Sanctity of Battle will not make it into 3.1 as is, it makes the potential damage one ability can do way out of proportion (and, ironically increases Ret's burst damage).

    Seriously, I know no idea what they are up to.

    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    Chasing Loremaster: Easy To Miss Quests.

    I reached 'the Seeker' status on Jana last week after a little grinding of low-level quests in the search of Loremaster. Loremaster of the Eastern Kingdoms doesn't appear to be very difficult, I'm only 40 quests off with plenty to go in Stranglethorn Vale and the Arathi Highlands which for some reason I never got around to completing the first time around. Loremaster of Kalimdor however is much more problematic.

    In the search for the 100 or more quests I need on Kalimdor I can across a very long list of easy to miss quests and quest chains on the Official EU 'Quest' Forums:


    Some highlights:

    Level 55 (50): "Augustus' Receipt Book" - EPL

    Starts in a house in Terrordale. Same house as Egan. http://thottbot.com/?qu=6164

    Level 55 (51): "Finding the Source" - Un'Goro

    Starts at a goblin on the west side of Un'Goro http://thottbot.com/?qu=974

    Level 55 (52): "Mrs. Dalson's Diary" - WPL

    Starts at a book on the floor of the Dalson barn. http://wow.allakhazam.com/db/quest.html?wquest=5058

    Level 56 (50): "Unfinished Business" - WPL

    She is down a gully east of the lumber mill in north WPL http://thottbot.com/?qu=6004

    Credit to Indreyu and the contributors to the thread, great work!

    I'll be at roughly 610 Kalimdor quests completed once I've done the 'new' quests in Dustwallow, and this list will be of immense help in getting the final 75. Especially without touching the Ahn'Qiraj turn-in quests.

    Anyway, I thought this was useful, and I haven't seen it posted around. Hopefully you'll find it useful too.

    Yeah, Good Luck With That GC...

    With the consolidation of Retribution talents (6 points eliminated) and the moving to baseline of Kings, Retribution has a lot of slack in its' PvE builds. As of the latest PTR your average DPS build leaves you with 11 or more points left over. This isn't a problem per se, but it is disappointing that however you spend those spare points the benefit you gain will be marginal in a raid setting. Essentially it's poor talent design, but hardly surprising to anyone familiar with the iterations Paladins have gone through over the last 4 years. A thread on the official forums outlining this, and Ret's low PTR DPS, elicited the following response from the Crabbed One.

    One of the changes we are trying to do with Ret is to get them into the other trees a little more. This is definitely one of those specs where players would go 0/0/71 if we let them. I would not assume that trees with few talents are unfinished. The Prot warrior lost a lot of talents in LK, but it was a good change for them. Overall, our trees are probably too thick for lots of classes which makes it hard to spend many points in a second tree.

    We do want to bring Ret's damage up a little, and we would like to get more talents in the other trees that they actually want to take.


    Ironically you can't spend 71pts in the 3.1 Ret tree, there is only space for 66 talents (and that includes Deflection and Eye for an Eye).

    So, where should Ret spend it's spare points? Well, there's Divine Strength, but that's about it. Any additional point investment is of marginal value at best, totally useless at worst. Ret may as well spend 61s point and not use the rest, they'll never be of any raid value. The problem is that unlike most Hybrids Tier 1-4 Holy and Prot are very focused on either PvP or thier respective roles of Healing and Tanking. Ret by contrast has something for everyone.

    There's no easy way to fix it, and I'm not sure that Blizzard are really that invested in addressing it at this stage. Ret, Prot and Holy remaining viable in their primary role is the big thing and messing around with Tiers 1-4 Prot (as this would be the tree likely to see the changes) without a clear purpose runs the risk of interfering with Tankadins too much. Apart from taking a long look at the three 11pt talents the time and scope of potential changes is probably too much. Some mechanic changes made earlier could provide a simple out: moving Aura Mastery to 11pt Prot and Imp. Devo Aura down a tier would allow Ret to spend points to give the raid a tangible benefit (a 40 yrd aura with +3% damage, +3% haste and +6% healing). Unfortunately that's not really a solution, just a fudge for now which makes Tier4 Prot look decidedly sparse.

    If I were a betting man, I'd say that no more significant changes to Paladins will be made before 3.1, and making Retributions' talent point investment beyond the 60th meaningful will remain aspirational rather than a priority. That's not to say that 3.1 is a let-down, all of the changes bar those that resulted in reduced DPS have been very good ones. You can only spend your time once and Blizz has other things it needs to address, not least some of the inconsistencies and bugs in current Paladin talents.

    With a presumptive deadline of the Noble Garden holiday (April 12th, the 7th being the Tuesday before this) for 3.1 Blizzard need to hop like a bunny to address what GC mentioned. Hopefully we'll see a new PTR build tomorrow or early next week, but apart from the odd DPS-increasing tweak and Tier 8 Set Bonus' there's probably not much new to come for Paladins specifically.

      © Blogger template 'Ultimatum' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

    Back to TOP