Friday, February 27, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR news - Hodir first tests

So the testing started in the PTR yesterday.
We got the first schedule from Daelo:

On the North American test realms:
Hodir - Thursday night, February 26, starting at 7pm EST/4pm PST.
Iron Council - Friday night, February 27, starting at 7pm EST/4pm PST
On the European test realms
Thorim - Friday night, February 27, starting at 7pm CET.
Freya - Friday night, February 28, starting at 7pm CET.

Though the instance is still empty (no trash, no loot and no achievement yet), bosses will be tested at scheduled times.
You can find some nice pictures of the inside of Ulduar on Wow Insider, gallery there: Ulduar Article & Gallery.

Several news sites gave us insight on Hodir this morning in Europe:
MMO Champion
World of Raids
The information is still a bit inconsistent but it gives a good idea of what to expect with Hodir.

The guild Alpha of Ysera is giving more insight on Hodir on their website. They got him to 43% while discovering the encounter, good job.

Some interesting facts about Hodir.

He switches between:
  • a normal state, hitting your tank (in Mc Weaksauce gear, understand Ulduar10 equivalent) for 25K physical damage;
  • and a frost state, that he enters for 20s after a Flash Freeze, he then gains a buff (Frozen Blows) that reduce his physical damage by 70% and add a lot of frost damage to his hits (40K on heroic).
He also has an aura similar to Keristrasza (Nexus end boss), that stacks and frost damage you.
To finish he has a Flash Freeze ability (long casting) that hits all the raid and encage them into ice if they're not protected.

Several npcs will be encaged in ice at the beginning of the fight (4 in normal, 8 in heroic). You can shatter the ice to free them and get them to help. They will light fires in the room that can protect you from several frost abilities of Hodir (most notably his Flash Freeze).

All of this promise a very interesting fight. With a 14mn enrage timer and a 35K hps boss, it could be a sign of the return of the long boss fights that I like so much :D

WolTK Paladin raiding guide, part 1

This guide is intended at any paladin beginning to get serious at healing in WotLK, you could be respecing or double-specing (after 3.1) to healing.

All long time healers most probably already know all that stuff, but I've been looking for all these info when I moved to healing for the first time with a pally at lvl 80, so I thought putting them here could be useful.

First thing first, most of these info can be found on this page, with the theory backing the up: The Holy Paladin Guide for WotLK, on Elitist Jerks

I will cover the topic in 3 sections, leaving a few things behind as they change a lot with patches and can be found on the EJ page.

Holy Paladin Gear will be covered in a later post, this one will be long enough as it is.

1. Main Stats for a Holy Paladin

I'll start with common sense, for us only two stats have any sort of use. They are intellect and stamina. Strength, Agility are obviously useless, but Spirit also doesn't do us any good, and even less with the nerf of OOC mana regen with patch 3.1.

It is often considered that spirit is a good stat for healers, and someone moving from a holy priest or a druid to a holy paladin could think spirit is good (as they are a key stat for these specs). But I will say it once and for all, Spirit is nearly completely useless for a holy paladin.

So that leaves us with only two stats, Intellect and Stamina, any other stat on a piece of gear will be wasted points, and as such, any spirit item will be less powerful for you than it's equivalent loot without spirit (it is very common that two very similar items exist, one with spirit and one with crit/haste/mp5).

Stamina is obviously only a survival stat, but don't underestimate it, as paladins are very weak at mobility and that will often force you to stay in an aoe to finish landing a big heal, when other healers could move out of the aoe while casting.

Intellect is your bread and butter stat. It will give you mana (bigger mana pool and mana regen with Divine Plea), spell crit (mana regen with Illumination), and mana regen (the formula for mana regeneration out of combat is affected by Int now, though it hardly affect us).

So to sum-up, go for Intellect and Stamina items, anything else is crap.

2. Secondary Stats for a Holy Paladin

Secondary stats for a healer are: spell power, spell crit, spell haste, mp5. They are the same as for any caster, and so expect to be on the rank with other magic dps for your items (oh yes mages and warlocks, these two swords from heroic Nax are sweet, aren't they ? We do love them too ^^)

Now what is the impact of each stat for a Holy Paladin ?

Spell power :
This is your raw power, most of our spells scale extremely well with spell power and there is no cap to it, to more you have the better is it (try to aim at around 1500 for Nax and 2000 for Ulduar as minimums)

Spell crit :
Both powering up our heals with 150% effectiveness and giving us 60% of the mana back with Illumination, spell crit is a very very good stat for a paladin, a good chunk of your spell crit should come from your intellect (40% holy crit raid buffed is a good target for Nax, 50%+ for Ulduar)

Spell haste :
Simply speaking, spell haste helps you landing more spells in the same amount of time, healing faster could make the difference between a living MT and a dead raid, so yes, it is a good stat for Holy Paladins.
Though with talents such as Judgments of the Pure and Light's Grace, we can already achieve a good chunk of speed-up by ourselves. Don't overdo it with haste, the soft cap for us is 682 haste (assuming full buffed), anything more will be mostly wasted.

Mp5 :
This is a purely enduring stat, to help you during very long fight with mana regen. Honestly speaking, with the state of WotLK raiding now, it is nearly useless, there will be no fight that drain you OOM, unless you or your raid is severely undergeared for it. Though it is less useless than spirit, so you should not necessarily avoid items with mp5, as there are sometimes few alternatives. Perhaps Ulduar will be hard enough for some fights to give more value to mp5.

So to sum-up on secondary stats:
spell crit > spell power / haste (if less than 682) > mp5

3. A Holy Paladin spells

Ok, you know your spells, I don't pretend to teach you how to heal, as if you're here you're probably not a bad healer ^^

I just want to give opinions on what I've experienced myself while raiding.

Before talking of the spells themselves, I'll address the Overhealing Debate. There is often tensions coming up in a raid between people about their "effectiveness". And most people decide of that using tools like Recount. I will say it clearly, don't give a shit about that! Not that recount isn't a good tool, probably quite effective for dpsers, but it is completely beside the point for healing.
First, it doesn't take mitigation into account (Paladin & Priest shields, for exemple).
Second, it counts only effective healing & overhealing. So it encourages you to land a heal on a raider already hotted to death, overriding the hots and pushing them into overhealing, while they would have been perfectly fine to cap up the raider.
All in all it is a very bad tool to mesure healing effectiveness in a whole. And let not add to that the difference between healers.
As a paladin, you are an endurance healer, the one who should still be up and healing the rank when the druids and priests need a mana pause because they're OOM after their first or even second inervate. And considering the triviality of raiding on WotLK right now, there is no need for endurance. So druids & priests can go all out and will stomp you into the ground with their aoe heals/regen ...etc, unless you start spamming Holy Lights, which is a bad way of healing (but if your raid gives too much credit to Recount, that's your way of retaliating).
I will say it again, you will have overhealing, and that means you were doing your job, even if your heals were snipped by some other healer. If your raid is not being happy about your healing stats, talk to your healing leader or raid leader. If they can't understand, just find a good guild, they will miss their paladin once the content is not so ridiculous anymore.

Flash of Light / Holy Light

The old use was to use Flash of Light at all times and Holy Light for emergencies/enrages. That is for two good reasons: the cost of FoL is very small and it scales extremely well with spell power for such a fast spell.

This as mostly changed because of a simple thing, mana is nearly not an issue right now. Add to that the fact that HL, through glyphing, is our only sort of AOE healing ability. You get one simple result: nearly all paladins are spamming HL nowadays, unless there is really nothing to heal.
I must say that I'm doing the same. Though I was reluctant at first, being so damn low on the raid healing charts turned me lazy and I must confess that HL spamming does push you up on them, though it's a really bad thing to do, but not worse than Holy Priests Circle of Healing spams ...

So well, as long as you don't have mana issues, and keep a good chunk to HL spam to death during bosses enrages, feel free to HL spam, if it not good use of your mana, you'll have a tremendous Overhealing, but who cares as long as you're not OOM?

Sacred Shield

This is a nice spell, scales very well with spell power, and does not prevent the generation of rage on the first proc. Very useful for some fights (Loatheb), marginaly useful on most. Just try to keep it up on your tanks, don't override other palys ones though (have assignments).
Keep an eye on the rage/mana of your tanks, if they're low, just let them eat full hits for a few seconds before shielding again, that will make them happy tanks.

Beacon of Light

That is your new best friend since 3.0. This spell alone changed the way of healing for Holy Paladins, and it is our only spell that could allow you to raid heal while also healing your tank.
It has a lot of uses, try using it on you in bgs to ensure your survivability for exemple. When this damned rogue will stun-lock you, you'll be full health even if you were focused by a ranged dpser while healing a melee of your group. Use it on your "tank buddy" when you're in the back of the 4 Horsemen room. Use it on a second trainee while healing another in the Razzuvious encounter ...
This ability is mostly only limited by the creative uses you can find it. Learn to love your Bacon :P

Judgment of Wisdom/Judgement of Light

You're being a good paladin, aren't you? You're judging every 1mn at least, aren't you? If you're in charge of maintaining a judgment on a target (Light if you have no prot/ret paladin in the raid, wisdom if you do), try to refresh it each 20s.
Judgments of the Pure give you 15% spell haste for 1mn when you judge something, don't be old school, do it!

Divine Plea / Avenging Wrath

Divine Plea is an awesome mana regen ability, don't hear me wrong, you won't ever be able to not go OOM in a serious fight of more than 5mn without it. It was so awesome it was nerfed, reducing healing by 50% for it's duration, it was 20% before patch 2.09. That is the reason for coupling it with Avenging Wrath that will limit this reduction to 20%. If worst comes to worst, use DP and spam HL instead of FoL, you'll still end with more mana than before your DP.

That's all for this part of the Holy Paladin guide for raiding, I'll cover the pre-raid gear later, though I've discussed most of the choices you have to do in sections 1 and 2 of this post.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's up with Warhammer Online ?

A short rant about a "could have been great" game.
I've played Warhammer Online from the Open Beta (a disaster in Europe, thank you Goa & Orange) to early January. And I've not touched it again since.

The idea of a real open warfare online mmo appealed to me. At first it was great, despite the numerous bugs, server queues and the like. But these were expected as for any new and awaited mmo.

After a month, I was in the start of the 4th tier (lvl30+) as most of the players of my guild (several were already 40, the level cap). And then things "started" to get bad. Most big squirmishes were laggy, the battlegrounds on tier 4 were so slow that they were unplayable, and the dominance of lvl 40 characters in bgs was supreme (they did not implement 40th only bgs).

We built up to 40 (I was playing a Sorceress, glass cannon as they say, and you do learn the meaning of glass in this game), we recruited, we warfared in our Open RvR server, we took keeps, we assaulted the order capital ...
And that was it, nothing else, nothing new, the RvR gear at lvl 40/40 is even not on par with the "PvE" gear that you get in these super buggy and lame HL dungeons ... sad sad brick wall.

A game released too early, and clearly not finished. They've lost half of their customers, me included. That does not mean I won't go back there, but this game needs some serious upgrade to make me go back. That was sad, as it has so much potential.

A Healing Paladin view of WotLK

I'm going to give you my general view of WotLK up to now (before Ulduar patch) as a healing paladin (I didn't play anything else seriously in raid until now).

This is more an indication of the order in which you should try things. I'm considering you are not in a big guild already farming content, and you just got to 80 and your guild is thinking of starting raids (yes you're late but there is nothing bad with being slow, that does not mean you can not be a good and smart player).

"difficulty" chart
* = dumb, can be done in blue and is the ideal start to gear you up
** = require a bit of stuff or quality play
*** = require raid coordination and awareness

WotlLK raids

Archavon normal/heroic *
Sartharion normal/heroic * (** with one drake up, *** with more)
Malygos normal/heroic ** to *** (this is probably the toughest fight of LK, but for Sartha 2/3 drakes up)

Anub'Rekhan normal/heroic *
Grand Widow Faerlina normal/heroic *
Maexxna normal/heroic *
Instructor Razuvious normal * heroic **
Gothik the Harvester normal * heroic **
The Four Horsemen normal * heroic **
Noth the Plaguebringer normal/heroic *
Heigan the Unclean normal/heroic * (yes you need to learn the dance :p)
Loatheb normal/heroic * (if your healers are smart)
Patchwerk normal * heroic **
Grobbulus normal ** heroic *
Gluth normal/heroic *** (you need 1 or 2 people to kite these adds)
Thaddius normal/heroic *** (dumb raider = wipe)
Sapphiron normal/heroic *
Kel'Thuzad normal/heroic ** (who's going to die in these huge red beams anyway ?)

From a healer, especially paladin, point of view, some fights can be extremely frustrating. Paladins are very bad at healing while moving, and some fights really require that (Malygos Vortex anyone ?).
I would advise running most of the 10 men content with 2 healers (3 if you're learning but they will get borred), and the 25 men with 4-6 depending on your gear (don't go over 6 or they will fall asleep).

A few fights are a little challenging on the healing side more than on other aspects.
Loatheb : requires some precast/smartness, you'll need to use these shields more than any other fight
Saphiron : blizzard is bad for a paladin, know when to endure to get your heal out
Kel'thuzad : 4s to heal in a Frost Blast, if your raid is bad at interupting KT casts, you'll need to have awake healers
4 Horsemen (heroic, normal is a sad joke compared) : the "back tanks" are going to endure a ton of damage, not hard but surprising at first
Malygos : Vortex is a sad mechanic that renders a paladin nearly completely useless, be warned that most raids on 10 men will not use a paladin healer in this fight, just because of this stupid phases

And a last word to end ... learn to love your Beacon !
Have fun, earn cool achievements, that's the best to do while waiting for Ulduar.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WotLK and raid difficulty

That comment is linked to the small poll to the side of the page. This is a very controversial topic at the moment in World of Warcraft since the last expension (Wrath of the Lich King) is out in mid-november of 2008.

The "problem" is relatively simple. If in previous WoW raid content was often too hard at first and tuned down afterwards, WotLK raid content is really easy. The most of the content is a rebuild of Naxxramas (an old raid 40 instance from original WoW), I won't even talk about the "single boss" raids that are so short (even if in the end Malygos and Sartharion + drakes are the only providing a bit of challenge).

So, aside from not providing much novelty, Naxramass is a really easy raid dungeon. It can be done with 10 (normal) or 25 (heroic) people. The best guilds cleared it in a few days, most of the good guilds before december. And now every guild with some people and motivation has finished all of it, in both versions, after at most 3 months, taking into account the levelling time.

Not even talking of casual vs. hardcore players, nearly everyone has finished the content now, and is just waiting for more ...
From my points of view, the worse was that the "heroic" (25 men) version of Naxramass was even easier than the normal (10 men) version ... beside from two bosses (The 4 Horsemen, and Patchwerk) everything is easier in 25 men, and only Kel'Thuzad himself is slightly different.
Having struggled a little and downed Grobbulus 10 men before the fix of the move/spit bug, I've really been sad when my guild moved to the 25 men version of Nax. As a healer, Nax25 is a nearly zero challenge compared to Nax10 with 2 healers.

So well, these are only my thoughts, but I fear a lot of people are thinking the same. Feel free to comment ^^

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is this all about ?

A few words about what will be here. I'm an mmo player for about 5 years now, mostly playing World of Warcraft since something like the summer of year 2005. After a long time in FFXI, and dabling here and there with Star Wars, Everquest, Dofus, and more recently Warhammer.

My main is now Shazalyn, a blood elf holy paladin on the Dalaran EU server in the Skyre Hordalis guild. That makes me mostly interested in healing since Wrath of the Lich King. Though I was protection during Burning Crusade with the same character
I also played a gnome mage and draneï priest to 70 before her in early BC, and an undead warlock to 60 pre-BC.

I'm also playing a bit on the US side, in a wonderful guild called Epid Dolls (yes, the podcast guild ^^). Though my time is limited having a full time job and already being an officer of my EU guild; I try from time to time to level Dreaming, my small priest there, to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the guild.

Just because I like them, and have spent so much time with them, here are my main characters (I don't even want to know why my WoW account don't let met create new ones now ... perhaps because of the total 50 characters & alts I have).

Shazalyn, 80 blood elf paladin
Titcouette, 70 gnome mage
Syrïel, 70 draneï priest
Sangdelune, 70 blood elf rogue
Dreaming, 33 undead priest

I hope the random thoughts that will happen here could be of interest or amuse some of you ^^

Goodbye Phae, we'll miss you

The first post of this blog will be to send my thanks to Phaelia @ Resto4life. She'll be leaving the wow blogging community and leave a huge empty space.
I invite you to read her goodbye post here :

Thank you Phaelia, I spent way too much time reading your website ^^