Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 19&20

This post is at least worth for 2 PTR updates :P

Two new builds this weekend, I'm putting them both as the info aren't repeated from one post to the other.

Build 9733 (03/26): MMO Champion, World of Raids
patch notes were updated, read them on WoR

Loot updated: MMO Champion (T8), World of Raids (T8), World of Raids (Ulduar & Argent Tournament)
most strength plate PvE gear was changed (less stamina, more strength)
lots of talks also on the 10-Man / 25-Man debate, on this WoR post, and MMO Champion here

Build 9742 (03/30): MMO Champion (class changes), World of Raids (Ulduar boss changes)
Happy me, all 25-Man bosses were slightly buffed, no nerf on the horizon.

Good reading.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunwell is tough !

Weekend of raiding, as usual in my guild. We're a casual raiding guild, most of us are working full time, and several have families and kids and all that kind of stuff. So, as you can guess, our weekends are our most intense raiding time, and we decided this weekend to give a shot to Sunwell.

We had about 18 guild members up on Sunday afternoon and got a few friends from other guilds to complete the roster. Several of us (not me :p) already raided Sunwell during BC and told us that, even with lvl 80 characters, we should not take it lightly, so we went there with a full roster of 25 lvl 80 people.

And I can tell you, Sunwell is still tough !
We went up to Mu'ru in about 2h30 hours, and stopped there, after about 4 attempts. Until him we had people who had beaten these bosses during TBC, and could explain the strategies and lead the raid, but noone had killed Mu'ru before, and it took us some time to understand that these awfull floating skeleton heads have to be dispelled.
All in all, the raid dps is incredible compared to lvl 70, the tanks are much stronger and healing can keep you up in most cases. But, Sunwell is not forgiving for the uncaring. We wiped quite a few times on Fellmyst, just because the green vapor zones during phase 2 are even worse at lvl 80 (a lvl 80 toon with 200% damage just OS any healer around). The Eredar twins go down very fast, but how incredible the damage from the conflagration is, we lost 10 people in 5s, just because the guy with the conflag stayed in his group ...

It was a really great time, finally seeing these wonderful bosses & trash & dungeon design & music ... etc
But it really show how hard this raid was (and it has been nerfed 2 times, not counting the pre-WotLK nerf), and how pale in comparison the challenge is in the WotLK Naxxramas.
If you ever have the occasion to go there, and haven't yet, just go, it's really a great raid.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 18, build 9733

Two bosses hard modes were tested on Wednesday night: General Vezax, and Hodir. You can find the loot/changes details on MMO Champion.
About Holy Paladin loot, there are some news with new Vezax loot, you can look at it on the Holy Paladin Ulduar complete loot table. The best in slot of 10-Man cape is now taken :P

A new build has been deployed on the PTR Thursday night, build 9733, more details on MMO Champion and World of Raids.
The build changes are slim, let's consider it as a sign that live isn't too far away. I hope.

A quick link to a post about healing in Ulduar on Restokin. This is a druid healing discussion, but it seems Ulduar is changing enough to be interesting for druids. I'm not sure it'll be as fun for paladins, with our crappy 3.1 nerfs and the aoe damage / mobile fights. But at least it is encouraging on the "feeling fresh" side, I think we really all need something fresh right now ... and I said right now ! :P

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Heroic Twilight Duo

So last night my guild made it's second serious attempt at Sartharion 25-Man with two drakes. The first one was on Sunday night, after the last bosses of your weekly 2 nights Naxxramas clean.

Things didn't start very well, not so many raiders last night, 9 healers in the group, and 2 players picked-up to fill the roster. The first tries were not that great, worse than the Sunday ones according to the raiders that were in it Sunday (I wasn't).

After too many tries, no real progress. We can't manage to keep all the tanks up until the second drake is down. Dps is too slow. Healers fumble (I've let my tank die once after taking a tail stun from Sartharion >.< shame on me). Some people die in the void zones when there is too many things around (like 12 baby drakes, 5 people dpsing them, 1 tank, spell aoe ... and then a void zone on top of all that). Some others don't stop dps fast enough when a portal pops.
This is a fight requiring some measure of awareness and reactivity, and I guess everyone needed some time to get used to it. If you add the fact our raid group was surely not optimal, it wasn't easy. So there we are, and I call for the last try. The two tries before were not that bad but people are starting to get tired and I don't want them to lose all motivation. We will be back next week with a better raid build if need be! Now well "Everyone give your best shot, we'll blast him with one drake anyway if we don't succeed with 2".
Guess what ... everyone did their best, dps is good enough on the first drake and he dies not long after the arrival of the second. People don't die (too much) and are battle-rezed. All tanks are kept up and keep their targets on them. The second drake dies ... now it leaves Sartharion (still at 90% life). He goes slowly slowly down while we dance with the lava, and finally reaches his "enrage" when lava adds pop like crazy and you need to burst him bad ... and ... he's dead !

Great job everyone, it would not have been so hard with a more suitable raid (read less healers :p). But we did it, and it has been the only time with the down of Malygos that I really heard cries on teamspeak when a boss died. This is a fun fight :)

(achievement pic is made with MMOCluster, as I wasn't there on sunday, you don't get the achievement if you have not been part of the 3 small drake kills, silly.)

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 18

Flame Leviathan has been tested more last night, you can read the detailed reports on World of Raids and MMO Champion.

The only changes seem to be the boss HPs, and some new mini-bosses to guard two of the towers. No new Holy Paladin loot to add on the Ulduar loot list.

A lot of blue messages yesterday on the forums too. About a lot of different topics, most notably more arena/pvp/pve discussion.
From my point of view, the vague ideas launched in the air, on some topic such as the state of healing in the game, show that they really have no long term idea of what they are going to do with the game ... not very encouraging if you want my word.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 17

First new test schedule, you can find the details on World of Raids.
On the North American test realms:
Flame Leviathan - Tuesday Night, March 24, starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT.
Hodir (Hard Mode) - Wednesday Night, March 25, starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT.

On the European test realms:
Flame Leviathan - Tuesday Night, March 24 at 19:00 CET.
General Vezax (Hard Mode) - Wednesday Night, March 25 at 19:00 CET.

Emalon the Storm Watcher is also available to be tested in the Vault of Archavon depending on PTR Wintergrasp status. Test Patchwerks will also be available on Wednesday.

For Hard Mode testing, Shirts of Uber will be available on Ursula McWeaksauce to help simulate a raid having obtained Ulduar gear. Check the entrance area of Ulduar for the vendor.
So news are more hard modes are going to be tested (expect new loot to be added to the Ulduar Holy Paladin gear list soon). And first tests of the new Archavon boss, Emalon the Storm Watcher, expected to loot new T8 and Arena S6 gear (see video on MMO champion).

A new Build 9722 has been deployed on the PTR too, posts on World of Raids and MMO Champion.
There are a few important changes for every raider :
All flasks recipes will now create 2 flasks for the same amount of ingredients but now last 1 hour instead of 2.
You can fish a Sea Turtle Mount from Northrend fishing pools.

Undying/Immortal & Ulduar equivalent achievements, (source):
First, Naxx achievements are going to stay, no drakes anymore but the titles will be kept. And now, the Ulduar equivalent will be out of the meta (for the drakes) and will give a different title, and can be done in several resets (not necessarily in the same week as for Nax).

For Paladins :
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.)
Though this is much better than the, now outdated, earlier version of this glyph. It is sad that all Retribution Paladins have to spend a major glyph to compensate for the loss of Spiritual Attunement with absolutely no dps gain.
Judgements of the Wise now immediately grant you 25% of your base mana. (Up from 15%)
This was really necessary for Retribution Paladins to maintain their mana without Spiritual Attunement in raids. Will it be enough ? We'll see.

WotLK raiding views from around, Paladin in 3.1.

A few links for you to read, if you mind.

A view of TBC raiding at lvl 80 on A Secret Agent Cat. It ends with the same point I've already talked about here several times. Challenge is lacking in Wrath. The sense of achievement we could have in earlier raids is not really here anymore, just because bosses fall one after another, and you clear content in about a month. I like the idea of 10-Man & 25-Man raids a lot, it is not a matter of difficulty, but of raiding style. A small bounded group is a stronger human experience and really requires everyone to do their best. But I really hopes that Ulduar, hard modes at least, will give us a little more challenge than Naxxramas.

I was listening to episode 1 of A View from the Top this weekend. In this podcast from VirginWrolds they interview successful raid guild leaders, and the guy said: "We need to fail if we want to better ourselves." This is so true ! Exactly why I think what we need is a difficulty that pushes us a little more to improve.

Sach Yonzon pusblished on WoW Insider today a view of patchnotes for patch 3.1 from a paladin point of view. Though the analysis is interesting, it lacks all undocumented changes. I'd advise you to read the analysis I made before, here, especially if you're holy.

Now if you're a French speaker, I'd advise you to read that post from Rominet on his blog about HL10 vs HL25 : un bilan. It tries to address the strong debate on the EU forums about the difficulty of 10-Man vs 25-Man. A lot of people think that 10-Man is too easy compared to 25-Man (most of these people are doing 10-Man content after having cleaned and geared in 25-Man, go figure). And some people are even advocating for no epic in 10-Man content (go figure more ... pseudo-elitist people).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Open Pandora's Box !

A new huge and shiny and so-powerful trinket appeared on the PTR after the first downs of heroic, 25-Man, Mimiron.
Pandora's Plea
+108 Intellect
Equip: Your spells have a chance to increase your spell power by 850 for 10s.
I'm still using the jewelcrafting one myself (Sapphire Owl), just for the intellect with 2 yellow intellect gems (+16int) the trinket gives you +74 intellect, and a 2340 mana regen each 5mn which I really enjoy up to now.
Pandora's Plea is a clear winner on a power perspective, with 34 more intellect, and a spell power boost (probably 45s hidden cooldown, as most proc trinkets now).

There is another trinket for healers that drop on Kologarn, the Spark of Hope, it gives a 100 spirit bonus. Clearly the spark is itemized towards Druids and Holy Priests, the Pandora's Plea being more a Paladin and Disc Priest thing.

Now, with the changes of 3.1 towards spirit, expect a lot of people to need on Pandora's Plea. And here come's the root of the name.

Pandora's Box is an old greek legend that has already been used in a lot of video-games, you can read the article on wikipedia. Pandora's Box is said to contain evils to be unleashed on mankind and finally hope.
Now take Pandora's Box and Divine Plea (the so contested and already two-times nerfed in fight mana regen ability of paladins), and you get Pandora's Plea (you could get Divine Box but that's for a future item :p).

If this item is clearly by it's name targeted towards Holy Paladins, expect a lot of fights over it as many many people will want it, from healers to mages or warlocks. My fellow paladins, we will be hated for the loot fights over this one, as we are already for all the kills our ret brethen have made in PvP during the 3.0 overpower period. Evil will happen before this item gives hope to a raid. You can mark my words ...

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 16

Tests of the weekend :
22th - Flame Leviathan - Canceled
21th - Auriaya - Canceled
20th -
Iron Council - MMO Champion(loot), World of Raids
Mimiron - MMO Champion, World of Raids

Mimiron seems still fairly hard, little information has been given on his loot as very few guilds were able to down him. He drops the T8 glove tokens.
Iron Council hard mode has been buffed, Meltdown will be fun to "experience", I think.

The Holy Paladin loot list will be updated with new drops during the day.

Yet a few more blogs & some Arena scoring rant.

Ok, so my weekend activities mostly don't contain blogging, at least not writing here. But I've played some more WoW: advancing my warrior a little more towards 80 (she's 73 now), doing the first part of our weekly clear of heroic Nax, and playing too much arena on 2v2 and 3v3 for ma sanity with my holy paladin.

I really don't like the new scoring/pairing system of the arenas, not only do you fight against insanely high ranked teams, as it was the case before. But you even never get any point ... all our loss give us something like -15 to -25 pts and our wins are 4 to 12 pts ... please tell me why >.< We had two matches against the same team at some point, we lost the first and lost 19 pts, and won the second ... for a 7 pts win ... yay Blizzard Arena scoring system. *deep sigh*

On a more rejoicing point, I've read a few fun blogs this weekend, as I try to take some time each weekend (aka the only part of the week I have some) to read a few new blogs.
I'm sharing the most fun or interesting blogs I've read this time with you.

A warlock blog, Killing 'em Slowly has a fun article on the interaction of WoW and our real life.
On Aspect of the Hare, the story of a dreadful PUG that finally is all about friendship and trying your best.
And a last one for the holy paladins around here, a very good article about macros on HolyPaladin.net.

Have a good week everyone, and let us all hope for Ulduar soon, Nax really isn't appealing anymore.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ulduar *Holy Paladin full loot list* compilation

(updated 04/28 - added several new items from hard modes and Yogg-Saron first kills, a few changes to best in slot)
(updated 04/17 - added new live loot, new best in slot shield to replace KT25)

I'll start be restating the net change from full T7 to full T8 that was nicely detailed on Banana Shoudlers:
+46 Stam, +41 Int, +39 mp5, +203 Armor, -45 Crit, +46 Haste, +72 Spellpower, plus a change in gemming (1 red & 1 yellow going to 2 blues).

As I've stated before, these changes are just bad for us, and if you add them to set bonuses that are worse than T7, I expect T8 to not be used much. So then, what replacement could you find if you're not full T7, or if you want to change a few pieces?

The answer is given by analysing the Ulduar loot available to us.
note: All slots have not been discovered yet, every boss in Ulduar drops a healing plate item, either in 10-Man or 25-Man and the list don't have them yet. I'll try to update this list with upcoming loot.

Ulduar Holy Paladin loot:
(I won't cheat and only target plate armor, no mail, no leather, no cloth !)

Breastplate of the Afterlife (Plate Chest - Spell MP5) - 10-Man
Eye of the Broodmother (Trinket - Spell crit)
Guiding Star (1H Mace - Spell Haste MP5) - 25-Man
Razorscale Shoulderguards (Plate Shoulders - Spell Haste MP5) - Razorscale-25
Pulsing Spellshield (Shield - Spell crit haste) - 10-Man
Armbands of the Construct (Plate Bracers - Spell crit MP5) - 10-Man
Breastplate of the Devoted (Plate Chest - Spell) - 25-Man-Hard
Charm of Meticulous Timing (Neck - Spell Haste MP5)
Horologist's Wristguards (Plate Bracers - Spell crit MP5)
Pauldrons of Tempered Will (Plate Shoulders - Spell crit haste) - 10-Man
Lifeforge Breastplate (Plate Chest - Spell crit MP5) - 25-Man
Pyrelight Circle (Ring - Spell crit haste) - 25-Man
Belt of Clinging Hope (Plate Waist - Spell haste MP5) - 25-Man
Bracers of Righteous Reformation (Plate Bracers - Spell haste MP5) - 10-Man *new 03/25*
Cloak of the Dormant Blaze (Cloak - Spell crit mp5) - 10-Man *new 03/25*
Drape of the Spellweaver (Cloak - Spell crit haste) - 10-Man *new 03/25*
Shroud of Alteration (Cloak - Spell haste MP5) - trash mobs 25-Man *new 03/25*
Pendant of Endless Despair (Neck - Spell crit MP5) - 10-Man *new 04/17*
Aesuga, Hand of the Ardent Champion (1H Mace - Spell crit haste yellow socket) - 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Flame Leviathan
Energy Siphon (Trinket - Mana) - 10-Man
Glowing Ring of Reclamation (Ring - Spell crit + spirit) - 25-Man
Freya's Choker of Warding (Neck - Spell haste MP5) - 25-Man
Ice Layered Barrier (Shield - Spell haste MP5) - 10-Man hard *updated 03/25*
Frostplate Greaves (Plate Legs - Spell crit MP5) - 25-Man
Runescribed Blade (Sword - Spell crit + spirit) - 25-Man
Greaves of the Rockmender (Plate Boots - Spell crit MP5) - 25-Man
Ring of the Faithful Servant (Ring - Spell crit MP5) - 25-Man
Libram of the Resolute (Libram - Holy) - 25-Man *link fixed 04/17*
Gloves of the Pythonic Guardian (Plate Hands - Spell crit MP5) - 25-Man
Unfaltering Armguards (Plate Bracers - Spell haste MP5) - 25-Man *new 04/17*
Iron Council
Radiant Seal (Ring - Spell haste MP5) - 25-Man
Unblinking Eye (Neck - Spell crit +spirit) 25-Man
Ancient Iron Heaume (Plate Head - Spell crit haste) - 25-Man *new 03/21*
Pauldrons of Tempered Will (Plate Shoulders - Spell crit haste) - 10-Man *new 03/21*
Lady Maye's Sapphire Ring (Ring - Spell haste + spirit) - 10-Man *new 03/21*
Watchful Eye (Neck - Spell haste +spirit +yellow socket) 10-Man hard *new 03/21*
Sapphire Amulet of Renewal (Neck - Spell haste + spirit) - 25-Man hard *new 04/28*
Legplates of the Flourishing Resolve (Plate Legs - Spell crit MP5) - 10-Man
Fire Orchid Signet (Ring - Spell haste MP5) - 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Pulse Baton (1H Mace - spell crit MP5) - 10-Man *new 03/21*
Asimov's Drape (Cloak - Spell crit + spirit) - 25-Man *new 03/21*
Pandora's Plea (Trinket - int + proc spell power) - 25-Man *new 03/21*
Cable of the Metrognome (Plate Waist - Spell haste MP5) - 10-Man *new 04/28*
Conductive Seal (Ring - Spell haste + spirit) - 25-Man hard *new 04/28*
Wisdom's Hold (Shield - Spell crit haste) - 25-Man hard *new 04/17*
Pendant of the Shallow Grave (Neck - Spell crit haste) - 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Sif's Remembrance (Trinket - Spell power, mana regen) - 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Gauntlets of the Thunder God (Plate Hands - Spell crit haste red&blue sockets) - 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Shawl of Haunted Memories (Cloak - Spell crit spirit) - 25-Man *new 04/17*
Faceguard of the Eyeless Horror (Plate Head - Spell crit MP5) - 10-Man *new 04/28*
Sanity's Bond (Ring - Spell haste MP5) - 25-Man *new 04/28*
Show of Faith (Trinket - Spell power, mana regen) - 25-Man hard *new 04/28*
Signet of Soft Lament (Ring - Spell crit + spirit) - 10-Man *new 04/28*
Shawl of the Caretaker (Cloak - Spell haste MP5) - 10-Man *new 04/17*

BoE Crafts:
Plans: Girdle of the Righteous - Flame Leviathan - 25-Man
(Plate Waist - Spell haste MP5)

Emblems of Conquest (25-Man):
Legguards of the Peaceful Covenant (Plate Legs - Spell Haste MP5)
Girdle of Unyielding Trust (Plate Waist - Spell crit MP5)
Gauntlets of Serene Blessing (Plate Hands - Spell Haste MP5)
Evoker's Charm (Neck - Spell haste + spirit)
Frozen Tear of Elune (Neck - Spell crit MP5)

Now, for my view on these items.

First of most of the emblems items are just crap, more haste, no crit, that will for sure not complement a T8 already crit deprived, pass them but for the waist.
The BoE craft waist is mostly bad too, same reason, get the emblems one.

Now, on the Ulduar loots. My point is simple: T8 already has plenty of haste, we only need a little more than 600 haste rating in a raid environment if we play correctly, so get more is just a waste of item points. I'll always go for +crit first then mp5, haste. I'll also always pass on +spirit items if there is a choice on the slot, just because spirit is worth crap for us.

Best in slot list:
T8 or -
Head - Ancient Iron Heaume - Iron Council 25-Man
Spell crit, spell haste, good socket color, nothing to rant about this helm, grab it!
Shoulders - Pauldrons of Tempered Will - Ignis 10-Man / Iron Council 10-Man
they are inferior to the 25-Man but 1% crit is nicer than MP5, unless perhaps on fights like Vezax if MP5 works
Chest - Breastplate of the Devoted - XT-002 25-Man-Hard
is a clear winner, no choice, but hard mode
Lifeforge Breastplate - Ignis 25-Man
isn't that shabby either
Hands - Gloves of the Pythonic Guardian - Kologarn 25-Man
not much choice for now, we will probably see more than one of these items soon
and choice appeared :
Gauntlets of the Thunder God - Thorim 10-Man hard *added to list 04/28*
with the two sockets they have more potential than the Kologarn ones, though it's hard mode and Kologarn isn't that hard if you have a good Ulduar 25 raid
Legs - Frostplate Greaves - Hodir 25-Man
very nice legs, great for mana regen
out of set -
Bracers - Horologist's Wristguards - XT002 (25-Man?) *added to list 04/01*
Waist - Girdle of Unyielding Trust - Emblems of Conquest
Boots - Greaves of the Rockmender - Auriaya 25-Man
Neck - Charm of Meticulous Timing - XT002 25-Man
another very close candidate (with slightly more crit and less of others)
Pendant of the Shallow Grave - Thorim 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
or (slightly inferior but easier to get and has spell crit)
Frozen Tear of Elune - Emblems of Conquest
Cloak - Asimov's Drape - Mimiron 25-Man
Some spirit but still a very good healer cloak, and the only one up to now. Besides, if you don't know Asimov, go read some good SF asap !
a very good 10-Man cloak has been added now:
Drape of the Spellweaver - Vezax 10-Man *new 03/25*
Spell crit, spell haste, a good deal of intellect, that's a very good candidate until you can get to Asimov (that healers using spirit should get before you).
Trinkets - not much choice
Eye of the Broodmother - Razorscale
Energy Siphon - Flame Leviathan 10-Man, this one is outdated on the mana regen and should be replaced by one of the two following trinkets:
Sif's Remembrance - Thorim 10-Man hard *new 04/28* and even more
Show of Faith (Trinket - Spell power, mana regen) - Yogg-Saron 25-Man hard *new 04/28* (basically a good upgrade of Sif's Remembrance)
Pandora's Plea - Mimiron 25-Man
Pandora's Plea is *the best* trinket that Holy Paladin can get, 108 int is a massive boost to our mana, regen, and crit, no discussion grab it if you can !
Other healers have a +100 spirit trinket on Mimiron, so try to leave them this one and get the int one.
Rings -
Pyrelight Circle - Ignis 25-Man
Ring of the Faithful Servant - Auriaya 25-Man
Fire Orchid Signet - Freya 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Sanity's Bond - Yogg-Saron 25-Man *new 04/28*
They are all good candidates, chose depending on your need (crit/haste/mana regen).
Shield - Ice Layered Barrier - Hodir 10-Man
According to the ilevel, I'm not sure it drops on 10-Man, it's haste/MP5, so not I really like, but the other alternative (Pulsing Spellshield) is just plain bad (way too much stam).
Wisdom's Hold (Shield - Spell crit haste) - Thorim 25-Man hard *new 04/17*
This is now the clear best in slot, but Thorim 25-Man hard mode, get to work on it people.
Kel'Thuzad Voice of Reason is still a very good shield anyway.
Weapon -
I'm rather sad with the weapon choice up to now (I won't talk about the legendary mace,Val'anyr, Hammer of the Ancient Kings, of course if you can go for it, then go)
1H Sword Runescribed Blade - Auriaya 25-Man
Nice but spirit points are wasted for us.
1H Mace Guiding Star - Razorscale 25-Man
Haste and MP5 ... no crit, sad pally.
1H Mace Pulse Baton - Mimiron 10-Man
Crit and MP5, not a bad mace, but 10-Man is inferior to Kel 25.
Aesuga, Hand of the Ardent Champion - General Vezax 10-Man hard *new 04/28*
Now we're talking, this mace has all the stats we want and a nice yellow socket. I won't say it's clearly superior to KT sword, but with the gem it has a slightly better allocation with less stam and haste for more spell power and crit potential.
If you have Kel'Thuzad sword The Turning Tide, stick to it I'd say.

Thank you to MMO Champion for all the data that I used to compile this list.
If you have any remark, feel free to post a comment.

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 15 & Battle.net

New night, new Ulduar tests on the PTR.

Kologarn testing (US) was up last night, report on World of Raids.
Freya (EU) has seen one more testing phase, report on World of Raids.

Kologarn body hps were nerfed in the 25 men version, though he got an aoe that he'll do around the tank (yeah, that's for your melee people).
Freya is, according to WoR, unchanged.

On a side note of the PTR, Blizzard is asking for more feedbacks from the Argent Tournament, seems that they're starting to get enough on Ulduar Bosses.
Here is a list of all the tested bosses:
  • Flame Leviathan
  • Ignis the Furnace Master
  • Razorscale
  • XT-002 Deconstructor
  • The Iron Council
  • Kologarn
  • Auriaya
  • Freya
  • Hodir
  • Thorim
  • Mimiron
  • General Vezax
Two still remain untested:
I assume that the two last bosses will remain untesyed on the PTR, as they did for Sunwell.

Last note, Battle.net has been updated in the US, read this article on WoR. It should be up in the EU soon too, and will most probably become required for WoW relatively soon (Battle.net 2 should be out for the launch of Starcraft 2 and is supposed to be when it'll become mandatory for WoW too).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PTR Build 9704, Paladin Tier 8

All details can be found on MMO Champion and World of Raids.

The most interesting point is the addition of the Tier8 bonuses. I'm giving you the paladin ones below:
2P Bonus -- Increases the damage done by your Exorcism and Hammer of Wrath abilities by 10%.
4P Bonus -- Increases the critical strike chance of your Divine Storm and Crusader Strike abilities by 10%.
2P Bonus -- Increases the damage done by your Seals by 10%.
4P Bonus -- Shield of Righteousness now increases your shield block value by 225 for 3 sec.
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.
4P Bonus -- Increases the damage absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 10%.
Most of these bonuses are ok to good. I'm a bit sad about some of them though.
The ret bonuses are sub-part, increasing damage of Exorcism and Hammer is nice, but will ret paladins really have enough mana (especially at tke end of a fight) to use them regularly in their rotations ? Besides, boosting Crusader Strike is never a good choice, just because it is such a lack-luster ability at start.
The prot bonuses are good, the first one is free damage & aggro, never bad. The second is a little less interesting, as shield block is so lame right now, but another ace for paladins to aoe trash tank (sigh).
Holy bonuses now, the first one just rocks, it's a very nice complement to Tier7 2P Bonus, that was increasing Holy Schock crit chance by 10%. The Tier 8 4P is much less good, and I think most Holy Paladins will go for 3 T8 and 2 T7.25 pieces.

Siha of Banana Shoudlers posted a very in-depth analysis of the Tier 8 compared to the Tier 7, you can find it here.
These numbers made me wonder :
Net effect of upgrading all 5 pieces: +46 Stam, +41 Int, +39 mp5, +203 Armor, -45 Crit, +46 Haste, +72 Spellpower, plus a change in gemming (if you socket for color).
Ok what really counts is : +41 Int, +39 mp5, -45 Crit, +46 Haste, +72 Spellpower
I will add the fact that we move from 3 red sockets, 2 yellow sockets, 2 blue sockets to 2 red sockets, 1 yellow socket, 4 blue sockets.
Gaining 72 spell power and 42 Int is neat. But trading 45 crit, 1 red socket and 1 yellow socket for 46 haste and 2 blue sockets seriously hursts >.< style="font-style: italic;">But then ... if they remove us our mana "endurance", what will be left as an edge for paladins over other healers, when we are so weak on movement and aoe raid healing ?
I do not like what Blizzard is doing with paladins right now, they really can't handle PvP & PvE for us, a tank/contact dps class with mana is really something they don't know how to handle anymore.

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 14

New day, new bosses tested. In fact only one, and nothing much new.

Kologarn testing (US) was canceled, as new build is deployed on the PTR.
Razorscale (EU) has seen one more testing phase, reports on MMO Champion and World of Raids.

Razorscale is still fairly bugged and too easy according to these reviews, let's hop they can fix that. On a side note, it's a fire based fight (all of Razorscale abilities do fire damage).

I'd also like to point a post from Honors that you can read on Honors Code. He's talking about two potential issues for pally tanking in Ulduar, more precisely Auriaya’s Horrifying Screech, and General Vezax’s Aura of Despair.
(from MMO Champion)
Horrifying Screech - The screech strikes fear into the hearts of all nearby enemies, causing them to flee in horror for 5 sec.
Aura of Despair (Prevents mana regeneration from nearly all natural sources. Aspect of the Viper, Judgements of the Wise, Shamanistic Rage, and Spiritual Attunement remain at least partially effective. Also reduces melee attack speed by 20%.)
Obviously fear on a 8s cooldown can be pretty tough for a pally tank and any tank with a long cd on fear break. And mana regen is mandatory for all paladins tanking, or they don't tank more than a bettle ... if Spiritual Attunement is gimped on Vezax, no paladin is ever going to tank him.
We'll see how it goes, it'd be sad if a paladin couldn't tank Ulduar in 10 men because of these two bosses.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 13

Short update on the PTR state. Several bosses are seeing a second pass at testing.

Thorim (EU) and XT-002 Deconstructor (US)
MMO Champion, World of Raids Thorim, World of Raids XT-002

Ignis the Furnace Master (US) and General Vezax (EU)
MMO Champion, World of Raids Ignis, World of Raids Vezax

Most bosses hps were buffed, both in normal 10 men and heroic 25 men versions, some enrage timers were lowered too, and a few new abilities added. Seems the first versions were a little too easy. The only boss having been nerfed so far seems to be Hodir.
Still hoping for enough difficulty ^^

Raid Healing Analysis & Dual-spec for Healers

I'll start with a very good post from Khaeli on Shadow Weaving. It is about analysing a WWS parse report. I guess all experienced raiders should know how to do that. But in case you're still a bit confused with the amount of information in these logs, Khaeli gives us a lot of very meaningfull advices from a healing point of view.

Ambrosyne from i like bubbles wrote a post about dual-spec. How will you use dual-spec as a raiding healing paladin ? Ambrosyne tries to answer this question, considering also the side of a disc priest. For me it'll be prot most probably, just in case we're short a tank as my guild is sort of low on tanks, as we don't want to have to make them sit aside during r25 nights.

As a side note, small good news for retribution paladins on WoW insider, the bug about Sheath of Light not contributing to Sacred Shield should be corrected soon. Not huge but he, in these times a buff is a buff.

A short blog post about ... blogs

I just wanted to share some blog/podcast I've discovered recently and got addicted to.

For those of you who don't know Mr. Total Biscuit, I warmly recommend you to listen to his podcast named Blue Plz! He's surely not for the youngest ears, but at least I've found someone who dares to say what he thinks about the game, without taking gloves.
You can find his new blog page here, and the podcast archives on WoW Radio here. Btw, there are numerous interesting shows on WoW Radio, try them, you could like them :P

Now, Underground World of Warcraft (UWOW), an interesting website listing all the WoW podcasts when they are released (very cool) and giving critiques about them. If you're new to WoW podcasts and in search for the ones that would fits you, try to give a look to their blog, that could very well be your gold mine.

To finish with my "new wow loves", everyone should now know that Phaelia, the druid healing guru of Resto4Life is leaving the blogsphere for a more intense life. I happened to listen to one of the last Twisted Nether podcasts recently where another cool druid was invited (author of Treebound Cat), and he pointed me there : Nerf this Druid. If you're interested about healing theorycrafting, this will be a site for you.

Another finish finish, if you've not yet noted, there is a nifty new tool in the blogsphere called WoW Headlines. You can find there about all the blog articles published each day, for all class driven blogs. And so most of the articles you read here :P
A big hug to Nance for doing such an awesome job. Very convenient to say the least.

Ok, I've done enough linking for a month, at least. But sometimes, I just feel like sharing :P

Monday, March 16, 2009

Paladins & the Dreadful Patch 3.1

Ok, rant post again, for all Holy and Retribution paladins sake (not that I don't like prot paladins but they look fine in this patch).

I'm just going to list all the wonderful changes that I do really fear in patch 3.1. Don't tell me I'm not posting the "good" ones, I won't cover protection here, and this is the only branch receiving buffs in patch 3.1.

I've covered already several points in earlier posts :
Patch 3.1 Patch Notes updated (13th), yet more sad paladin changes
More on Paladin state in 3.1
Enlightened Judgements Nerf, why so much druid love ?

I'll try to sum-up all the changes for Holy Paladins here.

Official Patch Notes: (see post below)
Divine Plea can once again be dispelled.
Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.
Blessed Hands: Now reduces mana cost of Hand of Freedom, Sacrifice and Salvation by 15/30%, and improves the effectiveness of Hand of Salvation by 50/100% and Hand of Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%. Moved to tier-4.
Additional Undocumented changes: (World of Raids)
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.
Blessing of Sanctuary: Now only grants mana on dodge/parry/block. In addition, will only grant mana if that is the active power type of the friendly target (Bears and Cats won’t gain mana).
Mana Spring Totem & Blessing of Wisdom: (World of Raids)
We are making a change to these spells so that their benefits are exclusive in patch 3.1.0.
earlier Builds: (MMO Champion, MMO Champion)
don't let forget the earlier changes, even if they are not included into the latest patch notes
Sacred Shield now cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
Hand of Sacrifice now lasts 12 sec or until the caster has transfered 100% of their maximum health.
Glyph of Holy Light can no longer crit.
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% (down from 40%) 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% (down from 25%) and reduces threat caused by all actions by 10/20/30% except when under the effects of Righteous Fury. (Previously a 5 point talent)

Ok this is it, not exactly all the changes, but all I want to discuss, and seriously way enough to stop playing a paladin if all of these go live for patch 3.1.

I'll discuss these changes in two parts, first retribution nerfs and then holy bad design choices.

Retribution pitiful state

I honestly feel sad for our dps branch. The thing, as always recently with Blizzard, is that they are overdoing changes. Paladins were given big boosts in 3.0, they decided to nerf retribution "To the ground !" and got it very low, it seems it's not even finished sadly my dps brothers and sisters.

The problem with retribution is PvP, and more precisely the Arena. The tree was build around crits, big crits, and to crit often. This was a relatively bad design from a PvE point of view, and before the huge buff of tank aggro with 3.0, retribution was often too uncontrolably bursty for it's own sake (and survival). But let's say it gives retribution dps something unique as a close combat dpser.

Now read these ptach notes over here:
Righteous Vengeance. When your Judgement and Divine Storm spells deal a critical strike, your target will take 10/20/30% (down from 40%) additional damage over 8 sec. (Previously a 5 point talent, now 3 points)
Fanaticism now increases the critical strike chance of all Judgements capable of a critical hit by 6/12/18% (down from 25%). (Previously a 5 point talent, now 3 points)

Clearly these changes are done to reduce the burst damage of retribution paladins in the Arena, were they are still considered as too high. But this also directly nerfs their PvE damage without any sort of compensation.

I advise you to read a very good post from Andarin on the wow PTR forums that MMO Champion copied on its Blue Tracker here.
Current parses from the PTR are confirming what Ret Paladins have feared will happen regarding 3.1 changes. With our consistent damage being nerfed in addition to the large DPS loss from mob changes, Ret Paladins have gone from second lowest PvE DPS to rock bottom DPS. Our DPS has taken a whopping 10%+ drop in PvE damage, and frankly, Exorcism is not compensation at all in this regard.
Ghostcrawler's answer about that is (on the same page):
Retribution dps, especially in PvE, is lower in 3.1 than we want.
Cool ... they know retribution dps is too low (in PvE note that). What did they do since ? Nothing ... it's even going worse with the Spiritual Attunement nerf (see below).
I do cry for you retribution paladins, the sure thing is now I know I won't go retribution for my second spec, it's going to be hard for any retribution paladin to find a spot for an Ulduar raid.

Should Holy paladins cower in fear ?

This is probably a bit strong, but future for Holy Paladin does look grim.

First of, the Arena nerf bat:
Divine Plea can once again be dispelled.
Blessed Hands: Now reduces mana cost of Hand of Freedom, Sacrifice and Salvation by 15/30%, and 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.
Infusion of Light: Now increases the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead of reducing cast time.
Sacred Shield now cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
Divine Purpose moved to tier-6.
For Arena play, the loss of judgement of Justice hurts, it was a very good tool against several classes, helping your dpsers to catch opponents. It was said by the blues to be something that "hurt the druids too much", ok let's save the druids ... as if they were needing it with the other 3.1 changes.
Divine Plea was made undispellable when it was nerfed to 50% healing reduction, well, let's make it dispellable again.
The Hands nerf is that their cd is not reduced anymore, I think we won't see any paladin taking this talent anymore.
Infusion of Light Holy Light 0.8s healing bombs no more, ok that one was perhaps needed for Arena play, these ones were really overpowered.
Sacred Shield nerf ... it won't have such an impact on the arena, but it was a nice prevention tool, active even when you were stunned.
Divine Purpose move is made to force Holy Paladins to go deeper into ret, and they will probably do, because it is such a necessary tool in the Arena. But they will lose healing potency, yet another "hidden" nerf for us.

Now the PvE nerf bat:
Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers.
Enlightened Judgements: No longer increases the range of Judgement of Justice.
Infusion of Light: Now increases the critical chance of your next Holy Light by 10/20% instead of reducing cast time.
Mana Spring Totem & Blessing of Wisdom are exclusive in patch 3.1.0.
Sacred Shield now cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
Glyph of Holy Light can no longer crit.
Very strong nerfs here too, you could consider my words are strong themselves, but the Sacred Shield nerf is a huge nerf for Holy Paladins in PvE. Try to think about fights such as Loatheb, and the soon to be Hodir, and think about the amound of raid damage in these fights. The only effective tool of Holy Paladins has just been removed to them.

Now read what Ghostcrawler has to say on the Sacred Shield nerf:
However, you shouldn't need to do a ton of group healing in raids, and in PvP or heroic dungeons, you should still have enough tools to manage: fast heals, the HL glyph, Beacon, etc.
Let say that Holy Paladins are only good for tank healing, let just take only one of them in a raid from now. Anyway, two blessings is way enough with the Blessing of Protection (only usefull for paladin tanks) and Blessing of Wisdom nerfs (exclusive from Mana Spring totems). And Holy Paladins are bad for raid damage/healing even more with this nerf, overhealing too much (even more with the change to Infusion of Light), and just low on the healing meters (I know I should not look at that, but think a lot of raid leaders use them to judge healer efficiency).

I won't go as much details for the other nerfs, but they all affect holy utility/efficiency a little.
Spiritual Attunement is a clear mana nerf.
Enlightened Judgements removes the possibility for a Holy Paladin in a raid to Judge Justice if there are already a protection and retribution paladin in a raid (who should judge Light and Wisdom).
Blessing of Wisdom nerf is a utility nerf.
Glyph of Holy Light nerf, even if small, and even if it was a bug, is a healing power nerf in aoe healing our worst point.
Infursion of Light nerf will result in more overhealing and less predictable utility, I just see it as dumb as it is now.
Small details add and this patch ends being the strongest nerf to Holy Paladins since a long time.

Seriously, with all these gifts for Holy Paladins, I would not take more than one in a raid from now, even in heroic 25 men. As a raid leader myself, if I ever have a choice between a Holy Paladin and any other healer, I will not take the paladin ... sad isn't it ?

Now For the joy of everyone, the Spiritual Attunement nerf !
Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.
Wow Insider has published a detailed article on that and I'm encouraging you to read it.
Rohan on Blessing of Kings also has an interesting article on that nerf. Though he's not ranting on a pure raid efficiency side as I am, he's seeing in this nerf the end of the hybrid tanking for paladins.

As I said in an earlier post, the problem with Spiritual Attunement is that from fight to fight, the amount of mana given to a retribution or holy paladin changes a lot, depending on the quantity of raid aoe damage. And I can understand it makes fights hard to tune for Blizzard regarding paladin mana gain.

But this is a core skills for paladins, for several reasons. As Rohan says, without it retribution and holy paladins just can't tank anything, so it will be the end of "hybrid tanking" forcing everyone to dual-spec prot if they want to ever thank anything. The reason is simple : a paladin without mana can't tank anything, as a warrior without rage, and for any paladin tanking, Spiritual Attunement is mandatory to have enough mana (unless we talk tanking instances ridiculously under your level).

Now, from a raiding point of view, this will lower the mana of Holy and Retribution paladins. For Holy that will only really affect them during strong aoe damage fights (read Hodir changes below !). I'll say that we can probably manage, even if it's yet another arrow into an already strongly nerfed spec in patch 3.1.
But Retribution paladins were always using Seal of Blood in raids, to get more healing on them, and hence more mana to dps more. The mana consumed in Ulduar will be the same, as exorcism is going to affect all mobs, but Retribution paladins will have less mana, and I already often see them going oom in the longest fights. If Seal of Blood / Spiritual Attunement is not here to help them with mana regen ... I do feel even more sorry for them.

That is a sad change. Perhaps it is necessary, but it really needs some sort of compensation, especially for Retribution paladins.

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 12, a healing paladin view

Now for some updates of the PTR, from a healing paladin point of view.

Several new bosses have been tested this weekend, that were delayed before. And the Flame Leviathan was submitted to more testing too.


Hodir Testing - World of Raids, MMO Champion

Hodir seem to have been tuned down (sigh) since the first tries on him, he was downed by several guilds both on 10 men and 25 men, and even on hard mode. He has a 9mn enrage timer. The hard mode is to kill him in 3mn ... don't tell me a 9mn fight is tuned well if it can be done in 3mn !

The friendly adds encaged at the beginning of the fight seem not very useful, frozen in ice at each Hodir's Flash Freeze, they seem to be roughly worthless (sad mechanic, I hope more tuning there).

Overall I'd say I'm disappointed in Hodir, he seems to be too easy, and the friendly adds were an interesting mechanic but end being not worth dealing with ... tuning Hodir up and changing the adds to be effective would be much more interesting. It's a little harder on the adds AI, is Blizzard not able to do it ?

Now things I hate as a raiding Holy Paladin. Frozen Blows (the switch of Hodir to frost damage on the tank) was changed to that:
Physical damage reduced by 70%, but attacks deal 40000 additional Frost damage. In addition, all enemies suffer 3000 Frost damage every 1 sec. for 20 sec. This is cast randomly now rather than it being predictable.
I guess you can see what I don't like there. "In addition, all enemies suffer 3000 Frost damage every 1 sec. for 20 sec." That means a lot of raid damage, just not a nice mechanic, which is the reason for the nerf of spiritual attunement
for paladins (more on that in another article). Raid damage is bad for a healing paladin, greatly increasing the utility of other healers again over us. Add that "This is cast randomly now rather than it being predictable." That is just bad, unpredictability for damage pushes healers to be spammy to prevent this unpredictable aspect to kill anyone. And spam healing is just a bad thing, no brain, just power.
Let us play a game, and not mindlessly push aoe healing buttons ...


Auriaya Testing - World of Raids, MMO Champion

After some delay she was finally tested this weekend for the first time.
This seem to be a strong adds fight and will most probably require at least 3 tanks (one for Auriaya and two for the adds, at least in heroic).
I like the Sonic Scheech mechanic, but I hope it won't be too buggy. These original positionings are fun gimmicks that make a boss encounter different one from another.
Let's see what this fight becomes with further builds.


Mimiron Testing - World of Raids, MMO Champion

This is a 4 phases fight, where we will have to fight Mimiron big robot construct. Phase one is the legs, phase 2 the body, phase 3 the flighing head and phase 4 the whole robot.
The thing I found the most interesting is one of Mimiron's achievements:
Force Mimiron to combine the parts of his greatest creation within 20 minutes on Heroic Difficulty.
This will be a long fight, yay for that !
There will be some aoe raid damage in this fight too sadly: Hand Pulse: Deals 7069 to 7931 Fire damage in a 5000 yard radius (pretty much unavoidable). But only during the last phase at least.
According to MMO Champion, Mimiron could loot his aerial combat unit as an epic (310% speed) flying mount. That would be sweet.

Patch 3.1 Patch Notes updated (13th), yet more sad paladin changes

The official patchnotes for Patch 3.1 have been updated on the 13th, you can find them there :
Patch Notes 3.1 - World of Raids, MMO Champion

I won't discuss everything, and keep it to what changed for Paladins in this notes (not yet all implemented into the last PTR build).
Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.
That is a sad change. The problem with Spiritual Attunement is that from fight to fight, the amount of mana given to a retribution or holy paladin changes a lot, depending on the quantity of raid aoe damage. I can understand it makes fights hard to tune regarding paladins, but without this skill, retribution and holy paladins just can't tank anything. I'll discuss this more later.
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.
Another badly implemented change. This one obviously targets arenas, but in PvE Holy Light already often is a lot of overhealing, it will just make that worse, adding more random aspect to paladin healing. Spam > Skill for Blizzard these days.
Blessing of Sanctuary: Now only grants mana on dodge/parry/block. In addition, will only grant mana if that is the active power type of the friendly target (Bears and Cats won’t gain mana).
This is a prot change, but it clearly turns BoS useless for any non paladin tank. With this change, I'd say that we only need two paladins in a raid now, one for a Blessing of Kings, and one for a Wisdom (and that is not even true if you have shamans) and Might. Yest another reduction of paladins utility, are we so OP right now in PvE ? ... sad panda

On a brighter side-note, read that:
Badges and Emblems looted off of any dungeon bosses by a member of the party or raid will automatically be given to all eligible party or raid members. Party or raid members must still be inside the instance to receive Badges or Emblems.
Isn't it a nice change, and about time :P
No more waiting 5mn for coffers loot (Karazhan Chess or 4 Horsemen anyone ?).
An additional effect will be that none will forget to get his badge now, and that will speed up runs a little.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 11 (build 9684), Ulduar date "announced"

What's happening on the PTR lately ? A lot of things :P

First, some boss tests were canceled on Wednesday night, you can have the details and the new schedule on this post from MMO Champion. Auriaya and Mimiron were postponed. You can find the new updated test schedule on this post from World of Raidsa and this one from WoW Insider.

And the big news is : expect patch 3.1 in something around 3 weeks ?
As Tom noted in Blessing of Might, patch 3.1 is probably not far away. Quoting Kisirani (source):
The current plan is to delay Noblegarden should the testing process run long.
As Noblegarden is scheduled for the 12th april, we can probably expected patch 3.1 at this date, or not far from it. It seems the blues are not going to delay it to test Noblegarden much, as Ulduar testing is going strong but a bit longer than expected lately (see the delay just before).
Wow Insider seems to think otherwise, for Mike Schramm, the announce of the delay of Noblegarden means that patch 3.1 testing will last longer than the 12th april, and that Noblegarden will happen later, when it has been tested properly.
So if we can be sure Noblegarden will probably not happen on the 12th April, will they release patch 3.1 around then without it, or will they wait longer to test Noblegarden fully and release it with patch 3.1 at a later date ?

Now a new build has hit the PTR too, build 9684.
There are a lot of things concerning loot & items in this build:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's about healing in WotLK ?

Ok, you're getting used to it, yet another rant ^.~
I could been seen as a grumpy person, it's not the case, but when things don't go right, I just want to say it. Anyway, off with the mundane talking and let us get on topic. Be careful it's going to be a long post.

An introduction to the problem.

If you've healed in WotLK, and especially if you've also healed before in classic WoW and TBC, you can feel a real difference. Let me stress out the main differences:
  • mana issues have nearly disappeared;
  • damage is very spicky, and that is the only reason for someone to die;
  • there is a lot of aoe damage;
  • mobility can be a real issue.
Most of these points were not as strong, or even not existing at all before.

Spicky damage is obviously very bad from a healer point of view, it stops you from thinking, reduces your choices of spells and encourage you to constant healing spam. Even if your tank is full life, you will precast a heal, because if you wait for him to be half-life before you start casting a big heal, he could well be dead before your heal land.

Aoe damage is bad as a mechanism, it promotes spells like Circle of Healing that are no-brainers (no harm intended to the priests). It encourages behaviours such as Holy Light spam to get some raid heal (thx the glyph), which is the worst thing I've ever seen on the side of mana efficiency. It also promotes all the "fast" or "aoe" healers over the other ones on the charts, and I know you should not pay attention to them but too many people do. I've already discussed about overhealing and healign meters in a previous post.

Mobility can be interesting in fights, even if it's sometimes gimmicky, it adds variety to simple tank & spanks. Now ... mobility is very bad for some healers, especially paladins and shamans. And fights such as the end boss of the Nexus (don't say me Hodir, it's going to be worse) are very bothering (I don't say hard, I say bothering) for a "static healer". Promoting this kind of fights just tend to ostracize some classes.

Now the biggest point : where did the mana go ? Do you even see your mana bar going dry ? Ok, paladins are the best at mana endurance, so I'm not the best to tell, but seriously, every healer I've talked to or read is saying the same. Mana started to be a non issue at the end of TBC, which was a clerly pointed when Circle of Healing spam started to be something you can do. And now the "problem" is even worse. To the point that Blizzard is nerfing mana regen, but only out of casting (see this post on WoW Insider).
Going out of casting was a "trick" for priests and druids to get a few full mana regen ticks from time to time. Was is still used a lot ? Is it going to change much of the mana regen state ? I think not !
They buffed all the regen while casting with talents, making these ones even moer mandatory than before (if they were not enough already). All in all the net result is the end of this little trick which was often a sign of a good player. you can now spam your heals without thinking about timing at all (or nearly). Your mana regen won't change much.

Some discussion over the web.

Before going further, let me point you to a few other blogs, with very good articles I sincerely encourage you to read if you're interested into healing:
So what are Blizzard answers ?

First, the mana regen nerf announced for patch 3.1
(see this post on WoW Insider). I'll refer you to Sydera post just before who discusses that in depth, for a class much more affected by it than mine.

And now for my paladin and shaman friends let's grin with this piece of news on WoW Insider :
Blessing of Wisdom and Mana Steam totem go exclusive. Some of the best mana regen buffs out of Replenishment are nerfed to not stack anymore. Even if it's another step to address the infinite mana problem, it's a bad step if you ask me. Why ? Because it's yet another nerf to the worst healing class right now ... A word of Lodur on that same point on World of Matticus. Yes, it's a really sad thing and another step towards reducing diversity between classes.

Are these changes going to the right direction ? I think not !

The nerf of the mana regen through spirit, and the removal of the Blessing of Wisdom, Totem of Mana Stream, are steps to go even more towards int over spirit. Intellect is already a much better stat for Paladins, but it wasn't for tree druids and holy priests up to now.
These changes are obivous nerfs for tree druids and holy priests, if that will perhaps reduce their strength, and make other healers less pitifull in comparison, that is not the right way to go.
Holy priests will just be replaced by discipline priests in raids if they start to have too much mana issues (Disc Priests already stack intellect over spirit). And tree druids will have to use mp5/int over spirit ... which will just be a nerf for them in the end, going against the design.

The real reason behind all of that ? There is one !

Mana regen through spirit was too strong, so they nerf it. They decided to make Replenishment (which is based on your mana pool, so int) a mandatory buff for raids, so they nerf all other forms of mana regen (which was mp5, so independent from int).
In the end, your mana regen depends on the same stat as your mana pool : Intellect is the kind, and spirit disappear into history. This is a bad design choice, reducing player choices and classes diversity, even more...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Patch 3.1 Ulduar PTR testing, part 10

Lots of news from the PTR this morning, Ulduar testing is still going strong. As usual I'm linking specific news from the always top:

MMO Champion - Tier 8 Sets - Final Model Preview
with an updated gallery of the Tier8 armors, yay for paladin robe !

World of Raids - 3.1 PTR: Freya Testing, 3.1 PTR: Ignis the Furnace Master Testing
also on on WoR numerous great videos of most of the bosses tested up to now
Updated Ulduar Testing Schedule for March 10th, Ulduar Boss Videos

To finish, here is the schedule for Ulduar tests in the coming days:
On the North American test realms:
  • Hodir - Tuesday Night, March 10 at 7pm EDT/4PM PDT.
  • Mimiron - Wednesday Night, March 11, starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT.
  • Ignis the Furnace Master - Thursday Night, March 12, starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT.
  • XT-002 Deconstructor - Friday Night, March 13, starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT.
  • Kologarn - Saturday Night, March 14, starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT.
  • Flame Leviathan - Sunday, March 15, starting at 2pm EDT/11am PDT.
On the European test realms:
  • Auriaya - Wednesday Night, March 11 at 19:00 CET.
  • Mimiron - Thursday Night, March 12 at 19:00 CET.
  • Thorim - Friday Night, March 13, at 19:00 CET.
  • General Vezax - Saturday Night, March 14, starting at 19:00 CET.
  • Flame Leviathan - Sunday Night, March 15, starting at 19:00 CET

More on Paladin state in 3.1

So yesterday I wrote a post on the evolution of paladins in the healing game (Arena & PvE) from the latest patch notes for 3.1.
I'm going to add a bit of weight to this post, just because in case some people read me, I'd be very sorry for all holy (and retribution) paladins if I see all of these change go live.

I encourage you to read these two post from The Suicidal Zebra:
More 3.1 Commentary, or 'Because I Wasn't Very Rational Last Time'

The analysis is from a retribution paladin this time, so expect more on the ret talents. But nevertheless, the strong nerfs of holy are not forgotten, and I do share these thoughts.
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.
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.
These are very very valid thoughts, and this sentence does really frighten me, even if I can see the sad truth behind it: 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

Keep faith my fellow paladins ... all hope is perhaps not yet lost.

Wotlk tanking & healing state (prequel)

I've written a post before on the state of tanking in WotLK and why shield block is currently a broken mechanic from the past.
I'll write another on healing soon, pointing at the problems I see in healing at the moment and why it has nothing to do with thinking anymore. As an appetizer, you can read a very nice post from Tobold on his blog : Goodbye, Greater Heal.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Enlightened Judgements Nerf, why so much druid love ?

This will be a bit of a rant on the evolution of the Holy Paladin class in both Arena & PvE.

Ok, so Ghostcrawler, our always favourite crab, came on the forums to calm a little bit of the druid QQ happening in Arean season5.
Judgement of Justice vs. Druids
We are concerned about JoJ vs. druids. We have a change coming up (or maybe it's out already) that will improve the situation from the druid POV, but it isn't shifting breaking JoJ.

"Are you talking about no 40 yard JoJs from holy paladins, or something else? The enlightened judgements nerf isnt on the PTR (I don't think...) but it is in your updated patchnotes."
Yes, that's it. We originally extended the range for Holy paladins so they could hang back to heal and still judge, but a 40 yard range JoJ is pretty brutal to druids. We think its is going to be a lot less of an issue when the paladin has to run up to snare you. This in turn should let druids run away and drink or heal. We don't think this change alone will provide the big buff Resto druids may be looking for. But we also think it will definitely be felt.

Ok, druids are not shining in season 5, but oh man weren't they the gods of the arena during season 3 and 4 ? I don't see them worse than priests by the way. It's just due to two simple reasons, that have nothing to do with class balance:
  • damage is too high
  • resilience is too low
If the first won't change, the second will with the incoming seasons, and will mitigate the first. I predict you the return of "invincible healers" relatively soon in season 6.

Now druids were so strong before that Blizzard partly designed a whole class to conter them, namely DKs.
With patch 3.1, DKs see their hot removal skill changed to s simple dps, so no more hot removal for druids.
Now holy paladins see the only skill preventing the "shapechange flee drink" nerfed too, so that druids can no longer be prevented to escape you unless you stun them.

If I agree that holy paladins are too numerous in the arena (but then, why hunters are not singled out the same way ?), this is not due to the fact they are too strong, it is due to the fact that they are the only healers not being smashed to dust in 15s by a 2 dps burst team ... but he, bubble removal added to the warriors, nerf of Sacred Shield and judgements, nerf of the fast Holy Light on a Holy Shock crit. Several of our mains tools for the arena are being strongly nerfed.
Ok, ok, you won't see much Holy Paladins in arena play again Blizzard, just lets repeat the same as during BC and we'll be nice and wait for the next expansion ... probably in another game, if you don't want us to play WoW.

To add salt to the wound, one of our best PvE skill gets nerfed badly too. Quoting our loved crab:
Sacred Shield
Sacred Shield was possibly only a problem in PvP on the larger teams (or for rage generation, but we fixed that separately). It was really a PvE problem because the damage prevention was really starting to add up in Ulduar. We know this was supposed to be one of the answers for how paladins can "group heal." However, you shouldn't need to do a ton of group healing in raids, and in PvP or heroic dungeons, you should still have enough tools to manage: fast heals, the HL glyph, Beacon, etc.
Yay ! Our only spell really effective when a lot of raid damage was going to happen is now ... limited to our tank.
Ok perhaps it was a bit too strong in Ulduar, but I really don't like that sentence "However, you shouldn't need to do a ton of group healing in raids". When aoe damage stacks, paladins are the less desirable healers. When fights require a lot of mobility (Hodir anyone?), paladins are the less desirable healers. Removing our single best raid tool is a sad thing. The only real strength of paladins right now is mana efficiency, and mana is a non-issue for the moment, so paladins are sadly the less desirable healers in WotLK up to now. Looking at such comments from a lead designer does make me grim for the future too.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate druids. But looking at how they are loved and we are nerfed (I don't want to use hated but that feels like that) doesn't make me a happy paladin.