Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pacth 3.2 is on the PTR, what about Holy Paladins ?

Hello !
After some iatus due to an internet problem and a weird configuration of my Firefox making me unable to post from my home, articles will be back.

First one, as you could expect will be about the future patch 3.2 and the promises of gameplay changes for Holy Paladins. Here is what Blizzard prepared to give us some change in 3.2.
(all the following information is on MMO Champion, my usual source of information, as for so many of us)

June 18: Paladin patch 3.2 notes
* Blessing of Sanctuary: This blessing now also increases stamina by 10%. This effect is not cumulative with Blessing of Kings.
* Charger: Can now be learned at level 40.
* Exorcism: Now has a 1.5 second cast time, but can once again be used on players.
* Hand of Reckoning: Redesigned. Now does damage only when target does not currently have the caster targeted, but damage done increased to 50% of attack power, occurring after the taunt effect is applied.
* Judgement of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.
* Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.
* Righteous Fury: No longer has a duration or mana cost, remaining until cancelled or death. Also cancelled when a Paladin activates a different talent specialization.
* Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal over time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds.
* Seal of Blood: This ability has been removed.
* Seal of the Martyr: This ability has been removed.
* Seal of Vengeance and Seal of Corruption: These seals have been redesigned to deal substantially more damage. Now, once a paladin has 5 copies of the debuff from these seals on his or her target, on each swing the paladin will deal 33% weapon damage as Holy, with critical strikes dealing double damage.
* Shield of Righteousness: Now deals 100% of shield block value as damage instead of 130%.
* Warhorse: Can now be learned at level 20.
* Talents
o Holy
+ Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.
+ Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.
+ Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.
o Protection
+ Ardent Defender: Redesigned. Currently, any damage taken by the paladin while at 35% health or below is reduced. Instead, any attack that would reduce the paladin to 35% health or below has its damage reduced. In addition, once every 2 minutes an attack that would have killed the paladin will fail to kill, and instead set the paladin's health to 10/20/30% of maximum.
o Retribution
+ Art of War: Now only applies to melee critical hits, but will make your next Flash of Light or Exorcism instant.
+ Crusader Strike: Damage reduced to 75% weapon damage to match the new 4 second cooldown.
+ Seal of Command: Redesigned. This seal now deals 36% weapon damage on every swing, and deals substantially less judgement damage.
+ Vindication: Redesigned. Now lowers target attack power, is consistent and does not stack with Demoralizing Shout.
I will not comment on these right now, I'm preparing an article specifically about my view, waiting a bit for these changes to be tested on the PTR. But as you could guess, the Illumination nerf specifically, but even the change to BoL have been the source of a lot of comments from players. I will put here the different answers from Blizzard as you can read them on MMO Champion.

June 20
None of the changes you mention were because of PvP balance.

Many Holy paladins (on these boards even) said they were weary of only using HL spam on the tank and were willing to trade their virtually unlimited mana for the ability to contribute to raid healing in other ways. As I tried to explain in the article we posted earlier, the SS change encourages more FoL use. The Beacon change encourages you to heal targets other than the tank, while still contributing to tank healing. The Beacon change (through the HL glyph) and the SS change give paladins a little more versatility in raid healing and healing on the run. The Beacon change with a nerf to mana regen would have made paladins the strongest healer in the game by almost any estimation. We figured the regen nerf was tolerable since it never even comes into play on many fights, and you still have Divine Plea.

We think healer homogenization is a very dangerous risk. We're not going to give every healer an AE heal or a hot or a shield just so they all have the same tools. We already have 5 viable healing specs for PvE, and many raids were inviting all 5. That's better than we've ever done in the history of WoW. That's not to say there weren't some problems though, which this patch hopes to address.

Out of curiousity, is the new FoL/SS HoT replacing the current +crit to FoL granted by SS? Or is it in addition? And does the size of the hot increase on crits? Or is it based on the non-crit spell size?
The crit is on the Sacred Shield tooltip and the hot is on FoL itself, so they should both work. I didn't actually try it just now, but based on the way the spells appear to work if you crit, you crit, and the hot would be larger.

Flash of Light now says "Heals a friendly target for X. If the target has the Sacred Shield effect, they heal an additional 100% over 12 sec."

Healing Cycle
When you are deciding between high throughput or high efficiency you have a choice and the better paladins can make better choices on when to use either one. When you have one spell that is the only choice no matter what the circumstances, well that is no choice at all. We think this is a major problem with the Holy paladin spec. Many players complained about that. We’re not asking you to all agree on every change before we make them, but you also have to understand that this was something several players were asking for. We discussed our options and came up with a solution that we think makes the healing style more dynamic and interesting without fundamentally changing it.

Holy mana regeneration
What Odes said. We allowed Holy paladin regen to be very high for a long time because we thought there was an okay trade-off for being so limited in scope. We expanded the scope now. Paladins will be able to contribute a lot more (almost double in ideal cases) to non-tank healing. I understand some of you are saying you did run OOM. It’s hard for us to balance around the experience of every single player. In the end we have to try and follow trends and what we are seeing in the data. Paladin mana pools were large, which exacerbated percent mana restores, and Illumination allowed HL to never be a choice and by contrast every other heal to feel paltry by decision. If down-ranking existed in the game right now, you would never need to do it.
June 22
Illumination nerf

If it matters, we changed Illumination first to correspond with the Beacon of Light changes. Then when we agreed on changing resilience (and it was a very long discussion) we knew we would have to look at healing, or at least the healing by prominent Arena specs. Resto and Disc almost certainly needed attention. We thought paladins might be okay since their mana regen had already been nerfed and Beacon isn't a huge factor in PvP.

I understand some paladins who don't like the change are trying to somehow trap us into admitting the Illumination nerf was for PvP. This strategy of questioning our motives always perplexes me, because we try to be up front about when we think something is too powerful -- we don't try to hide it. We would rather face player ire directly by stating something is getting nerfed because it was too good rather than try and sneak the nerfs in under questionable justification that smart players would see through anyway.

Illumination was nerfed for PvE reasons. Having made that nerf convinced us we didn't need additional PvP changes (for now anyway). We always consider what effect changes will have on PvP and PvE (and 5-player dungeons, soloing and the level-up experience as well). (Source)

[...] The nerf to Illumination was almost entirely because of the buff to Beacon of Light. Beacon can now provide massively more healing in some situations. If paladins still had the mana return they do currently, they would be the best healer in the game by a pretty wide margin. It is difficult to argue that point. Now you can argue that you prefer the current model (HL on the tank and nearly unlimited mana) better. But it's hard to argue the new Beacon would be balanced without other changes.

I'm going to throw out some made-up numbers. These are not from actual stats, but are hopefully typical of say a 25-player, 10-min hard fight (something like XT). Feel free to disagree but they shouldn't be off by orders of magnitude.

A Holy paladin's mana regen might look like this:

Illumination 70,000
Divine Plea 50,000
Replenishment 36,000
Other sources of mana 30,000
Mana from gear 10,000
Overhealing 60%

A Holy priest's mana regen might look like this:

Replenishment 30,000 (remember, the paladin has more mana)
Other sources of mana 40,000
Mana from gear 25,000
Overhealng 30%

See the problem? We're not talking about mana regen that is slightly off from other classes.

This situation is acceptable (somewhat) in current content because you can only do so much with such high levels of regen since you generally have to target one heal at a time. We could pretty much just make paladin spells free and the outcome wouldn't change that much. That's an exaggeration, but you get the point: paladins are generally GCD limited much more than they are mana limited. I'm not sure anyone is that mana limited in current content (though slightly more so on the hard modes), but whatever it is, paladins feel it the least.

Now we change Beacon so that the overhealing counts. Paladin healing is going to go up, probably by a lot. We can argue how much it's going to go up or how of that will be effective healing. But it will go up a lot, especially considering the glyph of HL will get more use. Considering how much higher paladin regen is than other healers, it has a long way to fall before it would even be at parity.

Remember, we are also nerfing Penance, Prayer of Healing and Lifebloom. The latter won't be felt as much in PvE, but also realize we are talking about 3.2 changes here and the current druid set bonuses (which might be slightly overpowered) won't be around.
June 23
Beacon of Light

I’ll try one more time. The following is painfully simplistic to the point of inaccurate, but I’m not sure how else to express the logic cleanly.

PvE problem: Paladin healing routine is boring.
Solution: Make Beacon usable on more targets.
New PvE problem: Paladins are too good because mana regen is too high.
Solution: Nerf Illumination (+1 for Beacon -1 for Illumination = 0).

PvP problem: Damage and healing are too high.
Solution: Change resilience and nerf healing. For paladins, the regen nerf already made above is probably sufficient for the latter.
New PvP problem: But the buff to Beacon counteracts this nerf in PvE, leaving paladins at a net higher level of power (+1 for Resilience -1 for Illumination + 1 for Beacon = 1 (when we want zero)).
Solution: None needed because Beacon isn’t a huge factor in PvP (the equation above is actually +1 for Resilience -1 for Illumination = 0).
As preliminary comments, I will direct you to two articles by fellow paladins and healers giving different views on these changes.
3.2 Holy Paladins on Blessing of Kings
Patch 3.2 Potential (oh dear lord) Paladin Changes on Casual Hardcore
They are not very enthusiastic, but I wonder if any Holy Paladin healing in raids is enthusiastic about such changes ...
Make your idea, I'll give you mine soon enough :P

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Future of Holy Paladins ?

A forum post was quoted on MMO Champion about Ghostcrawler speaking of the future of Holy Paladins. You can read the whole post here.
All in all the idea is that playing a Holy Paladin in raids isn't fun:
the gearing is really simple (spell power, int, crit, and nothing else matters),
the gameplay is simplistic (Holy Light spam, ehre you come),
the mobility & raid healing is very limited.

Though I'm playing a Holy Paladin for a good number of months now (was prot before WotLK), I do agree that, compared to a priest, the gameplay of a paladin is very limited. We are healing powerhouses, mana batteries and can outlast nearly all other healers. But we are not very fun to play ... and that's a very important issue in a game.

Quoting Ghostcrawler:
We have some plans for Holy paladins in 3.2. We'll talk more about them when we get closer and we are more confident that they are the actual changes that will go live (modulo PTR feedback).
Let's hope they're going to find a new direction for us that can bring a bit more variety to our gameplay, that would be really sweet.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Holy Paladin pre-raid gear for WotLK

This isn't a super new post on the holy paladin blog community, but this a question I've been asked so I'm just using this blog to answer it. Perhaps it can be useful for someone else :)

There are several very good gearing guides that have been written by fellow paladins when Naxxramas was still new. If we're a few content patches later now, little has changed on the gearing side pre-raid, but mostly the argent tournament.
The guide I'll site mostly don't include that, so you can go there and give a look to the rewards in case some of them look cool. The Titansteel Spellblade has been added too, but is a dagger (I guess so that shadow priests can use it). The Titansteel Guardian is still the best for paladins, despite its nerf some time ago.

My best gearing guide pointer will be Banana Shoulders:
Pre-Raid Holy Gear Guide
Gemming Your Holy Paladins
(I don't completely agree with Siha as she's a spell power addict, I'm an intellect addict, so I gem for +16int gems on my yellow slots, for example. It's mostly a question of having enough mana or enough hps to keep up the tanks ^^ This is explained very well here.)
Holy Paladin Guear Enhancements
(Arcanums, all enhancement of guear from head to pants)

Now, as gear isn't all what you need, I'll advise you to read this very good (as always) article on Ferraro site Paladin Schmaladin (don't ask me how she got that name) How To: Healing Raids.

I have written an update of this post for patch 3.2 that changed so much about gearing in Wrath. You can read it here: Pre-raid gear in patch 3.2

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Patch 1.1.3 has hit.

So here is a new patch day.
One thing I should say is that, either the patches are small, or the Blizzard downloader is being much faster than before. I'm coming home late, so downloading this patch at high usage hours, and it stills goes fast (1.1.3 was dled and installed in a few minutes). Not a bad surprise after a day of work :)

You can read the complete patch notes on MMO Champion, here.

About the patch itself, it's mostly a PvP/Arena tuning patch for me (once again :p). Druids are upped a little more (armor increase for some defensive talents), Paladin's hand of freedom nerfed from 10 to 6s duration (I'm not even doing arenas anymore, tired of being nerfed each patch :p). Hunter and Warrior changes seem more PvE oriented, small ups to their damage, at least for the trees that are considered under-par (the hunters of my raid certainly don't need more damage compared to the other classes).

Yet the biggest impact for my raid is the DK armor nerf:
Frost Presence: Armor bonus is now 60% down from 80%.
We've seen a real difference in the amount of damage our DK tank is taking from Kologarn last night, not being armor capped anymore. Enough for us to switch him with the druid bear and leave him the Rock Elementals adds. Last week he was fine on Kolo, this week he is not anymore (taking like 14K, 15K hits in a row and dying when he does'nt parry/evade).

I don't know if you're raiding with a DK main tank ? I'd be happy to hear from people if they have seen such a difference in their survavibility.