Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Paladin Leveling Guide (part2)

Second part of a guide for those that roll or reroll a paladin. The first part of the guide, addressing levels 1 to 58 can be found here: Paladin Leveling Guide (part1).

This guide is more targeted for those that already have a lvl 80 and can support their alt, but most of the tips can be applied by anyone.
If you have a lvl 80, I can only advise you to send to your new paladin those two heirloom items:
Polished Breasplate of Valor (chest armore +10% xp)
one of these shoulder armors
Polished Spaulders of Valor (+10% xp, physical dps)
Pristine Lightforge Spaulders (+10% xp, healing shoulders)
Strengthened Stockade Pauldrons (+10%, physical dps & resilience)
As I'll advise you to continue leveling in the retribution tree as a dps paladin, I'd take the first ones but they cost emblems, and you could want to use them for your main unless you still have some old emblem of heroism. Then chose one of the second ones that can be bought in Wintergrasp for Stone Keeper's Shards.

Paladin Leveling Guide (part 2, from Outland to Northrend)

The basic advises from the first guide are still valid, I'll rewriting them here because you should always keep them in mind while leveling.

The first tip, which is common to all leveling guides you'll ever find is: maximize your damage output. Don't try to gear for survival, the game isn't that hard most of the time and you'll want to down mobs fast.

The second tip is, try to get a good leveling guide if you want to. If you're new to the game, enjoying the discovery is probably the best thing to do, and using Wowhead to search when you're stuck in a quest will be enough. If you're a bit tired of the vanilla content, or want to reach 80 much faster, then leveling guides are for you. I used Jame's Leveling Guides for my 3 last characters, from 1 to 78 (last levels are not yet in the guide but really not hard to do) both on horde and alliance side, and I strongly advise them.

Ok, now let us start with paladin stuff. You can find all the paladin skills by level on Wohead here, if I'm not direct linking a skill, go there for more info.

About protection and holy leveling

I'm strongly advocating leveling in the retribution tree. By level 60 you should have a talent tree close to this one: Retribution level 60 talent tree.
Though when arriving in Outland by lvl 58, you'll be much less lonely as you'll hit the Death Knight pack of players. I'd still advise you to level by yourself questing in Outland until lvl 60 to get as much quest item as you can, they will be major upgrades for all the slots where you still have vanilla (pre-outland) wow items. Once you feel confident, you can try tanking or healing instances in Hellfire Peninsula (Ramparts & Furnace) and then in Zangarmarsh (Slave Pens and The Underbog). Especially if you have the Heirloom chest & spaulders and even more if you have rest xp, instacing with a good group can be very effective leveling wise, and you'll easily find a group as a tank, and even more as a healer.
If you already bought the dual-specialization talent, or if you can buy it now, this is the right time to try your paladin with something else than retribution. You won't find as many players wanting to do instances before lvl 68-69 and the first Northrend ones.

First part of your Outland time, level 58-63, Hellfire Peninsula

If you want to train new skills, you'll need to go back to Azeroth, there is no class trainer in Outland. Don't jump back trough the Demon Gate, please do yourself some good and go to Shattrath once in Terrokar Forest (you can reach it going west to Zangarmarsh and then south from the Cenarion Expedition point). This trip can easily be done even at lvl 58, stay on the paths, don't venture too much and you'll be safe.
Get the flypath in Shat City once there, jump through one of the portals in the town center and teleport back to Hellfire with your stone. You can then fly to there each time you want to train.

When you first arrive in Outland, don't worry about instances (unless it's a rush for free xp) you need some Outland gear first ! Each quest reward you'll get will be a major upgrade and you'll jump in hit points especially doubling or tripling them in a few hours of questing.
Here is a list of items you can get through solo questing in Hellfire Peninsula:
healing plate chest,
healing or tanking shield,
tanking sword,
dps plate pants,
dps plate chest,
healing plate pants,
healing sword,
tanking/dps plate helm,
tanking plate pants,
free Insigna of the Alliance (to do if you don't laready have one, pvp quest)
two handed sword (best weapon unless you drop an instance one)
There are other very good blue items you can get with group quest and dungeon quests, if you can find a group for them when you have them, go for it.

Once you have your first Outland gear, and you have the first quests for the Hellfire dungeon: Weaken the Ramparts, it's time for intancing a bit. You can do Hellfire Ramparts, you'll finish this quest and get a new one on the last boss (drop). Then you'll get two new quests for Hellfire Furnace.
Both of these instances are done a lot by players arriving in Outland, and you should search for a group for them until you've finished questing in Hellfire Peninsula or reached lvl 62-63. You'll get a lot of blue items in them, several you will keep until probably level 65 or even 68 in Northrend.

Questing in Hellfire will be a bit hard at level 58, it'll get way easier with a few more levels and Outland gear. Once level 61 you should cruse through quests with haste. I'd advise you to move to Zangarmarsh once level 62 but you can stay there until you're nearly 63. Most quests will start giving less xp once you hit level 63 and mobs won't be worth much anymore.

Second part of your Outland time, level 63-65, Zangarmarsh

Once you're 63 or close by, Zangarmarsh (just west of Hellfire Peninsula) will be your leveling zone. You can up your Cenarion Expedition reputation here, for those that care about titles, it's linked to the Cenarion Guardian title.
There are a lot of quests here, most are level 60 to 64, so all the first ones will be easy if you're level 62, and you'll cruse through them as you did in Hellfire at the end.
You can find a list of all the zone quest on Wowhead, direct link here: Zangarmarsh quests.

There are two instances in Zangarmarsh: the Slaves Pens (lvl 61-63) and the Underbog (lvl 63-65). You can probably do them until you're level 66 or even 67 for the Underbog. They will also probably be the last instances you'll easily find players to do in Outland, the next one is The Aucenai Cripts in Auchindoum, Terrokar Forest, but it is a lvl 65-67 instance and most players are rushing their levels to 68 then to reach Northrend.
Remember to use the Looking for Group tool and select all the instances you want to do, as for Hellfire Peninsula, there are quests in these two instances. One can be found at the entrance of the instances, under the huge pump in the middle of Serpent's Lake, you'll have to find 4 npcs, 2 in each of the instances (look for them on Wowhead first if you don't know where they are). Two quests for the Underbog are linked to the Sporegar reputation and are very worthy, so go do some of the sporegar quests in the west of the marsh, and run an Underbog once you have them, even if you're already 66 or more, you'll like the rewards :P

Third and last part of your Outland time, level 65-68, Nagrand

I don't think Terrokar Forest is useful but for Sattrath. Once 65 I strongly advise to find a group the the Nagrand "arena", the Circle of Blood at the north of the zone. It's a group quest, you'll have to fight 5 bosses in the circle. It's hard to do without a good group, probably need a lvl 57-58 group, but it is very very often rushed by high level characters for their friends. So keep a sharp eye on your zone chat and jump in if you see anyone asking for more or offering a free run :P
These quests will give you a huge bump of xp, a nice weapon, and free potions.

Nagrand is a zone full of quests (again) mostly kill stuff quests with the return of Nesingwary (you can find his camp in the north east of the zone, near the east Zangarmarsh entrance). You'll kill beasts, ogres ...etc until you hit level 68.
Don't forget to stay in the Underbog instance Looking for Group tool, if you don't have the sporegar quests already, or if you want a bit of change from time to time. You can be teleported to the stone instance and teleport out with your stone once done. No running, no time lost. Just in case try to look for a group for the Auchenai Cripts and Mana Tombs, in case some players want to do them. They're a bit harder though.

You'll get fast levels in Nagrand and a few hours questing here will bring you to 68. And then ... it's time to move again, leave Outland and go to Northrend (through harbors in central towns such as Stormwind, Orgrimmar or Undercity).

If you're following James Leveling Guide, you'll find that I'm not really on the same levels. This is because his guides were written before the huge LK experience nerf for lvl 60-70 and before Heirlooms with xp bonuses where included into the game.
If you ever need a bit more xp, you can use his guide for Terrokar Forest (lvl 62-64) and Blade Edge Mountains (lvl 67-69).

Have fun, by these levels a retribution paladin with a good weapon is really a lot of fun to play and nearly never stops to rest ^.~

updated 11/12, changed the outland trainers section

Saturday, August 22, 2009

WTB more instance servers.

Additional instances cannot be launched, please try again later.
Ok, we all know this by now, or if you don't see what it is, you're really only playing solo, and never put a foot into instances for months.
Since a few patches Blizzard decided to put a limit on the number of instances up at the same time on their instance server. If the goal is reached, which is to prevent horrible lag during raids, that we experienced during the early months of Lich King and were driving us crazy on boss fights like Thaddius. The side effect is that a lot of us can't enter instances, or have to wait sometimes half an hour, mindlessly trying to enter an instance to be able to play into it.

Instances limit & patch 3.2
Some will say I'm qqing, and that Blizzard has already said they are aware of that problem and are trying to solve it. But still, I can only see it as a very bad commercial/design choice to release patch 3.2 that is obviously sending back everyone into instances, before they fixed that problem.
Nowadays I don't even try to play when I'm back from work, between 7pm and 9pm it's just too tedious to try going into an instance and I'm not really fond of going back and forth (or strafing left/right for the fast paced ones) for 15-20mn before being allowed to play.

Several computer for several game servers, but not as you could expect.
Each game server is separated onto several physical machines, Azeroth, Outland, Northrend and instances/raids are on 4 different computers, that group these world parts for several game servers (it's not clear if, for example, all the northrend parts of a whole battlegroup are on the same computer but it's the idea).
That will explain, if you didn't know it, why sometimes your world server (Northrend) is down while some of your guildies, or some of your alts can still play (in let say Azeroth).
That will also explain why it's not that easy to just "add some muscle" to the computer in charge of the instances to solve the problem. That's why Blizzard is saying it's complex and they need time.

Instance servers have a memory cap.
The problem seem obvious if you're a little into computer science. The instance server has a limit of hardware memory, when that limit is reached it has to "swap" his memory with virtual memory which is emulated on the hard-drive of the computer. The problem is that when it does that, the access time is about 100 to 1000 times slower on this "swapped memory", which is then producing server lags for the players in the affected instance. So, especially as Blizzard does not own the servers on which the game is played, the only solution they found is to limit the number of instances to avoid the memory swap problem.
They also installed a priority onto entering instances it's mostly LK raids > LK heorics > LK instances > older raids & instances. If you've tried to do a raid or vanilla instance during peak hours ... you're probably still trying :P

A temporary solution, instance queues.
What I'd like to see, as probably many people, is a queue. When you try entering an instance, you get into a queue and you're ported into your instance when it's your turn. Mostly what they did for Wintergrasp in the last patch.
This won't fix the problem, and they have to develop new code to be able to dynamically share several computer for the same "instance server" when needed. This is an obvious choice and necessity because all game servers don't have the same size, and the number of instances required by the players isn't at all the same during a day. But this type of coding is way more complex than the static allocation they are using right now, and it requires a lot more testing, what they are, I hope, doing right now.
Nevertheless, instance queues are a relatively simple to code patch that would make most of us much happier than the current situation. At least you can queue for your instance, and then go do your dailies for example instead or completely wasting your time trying to repeatedly enter the instance (because you have to do it if you ever want to play it ... which is what is driving me crazy).

You're all welcome to comment with your views and ideas on the instance cap. Not that Blizzard will ever read this blog, but I'll be curious to see if this problem is common to the US and the EU for example (as I think it is reading blogs & forums on both sides).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rolling a paladin ? A few leveling tips.

Now is probably the best time to roll and alt. It's the end of summer with its low raid activity. Patch 3.2 sent everyone into 5-man, which is a very friendly environment for new lvl 80 characters. And once you've done a few heroics with your main, and unless you're like some of my friends with already 4+ lvl 80 and are spending your whole day running heroics with all your toons, you could be wondering what to do in WoW for the rest of your daily play-time.

So I'm going to give a few tips for those who don't know yet the paladin class and want to reroll, or just roll if it's you're first character, a paladin. Several of my tips won't apply if you're new to WoW, unless you're really good at grasping the game economy and making ingame money, you'll probably not have the gold to buy what I'm advising. But the general tips on spec and itemization should still give you good ideas to follow.

Paladin Leveling Guide (part 1, your time in Azeroth from lvl 1 to 58)

The first tip, which is common to all leveling guides you'll ever find is: maximize your damage output. Don't try to gear for survival, the game isn't that hard most of the time and you'll want to down mobs fast.

The second tip is, try to get a good leveling guide if you want to. If you're new to the game, enjoying the discovery is probably the best thing to do, and using Wowhead to search when you're stuck in a quest will be enough. If you're a bit tired of the vanilla content, or want to reach 80 much faster, then leveling guides are for you. I used Jame's Leveling Guides for my 3 last characters, from 1 to 78 (last levels are not yet in the guide but really not hard to do) both on horde and alliance side, and I strongly advise them.

Ok, now let us start with paladin stuff. You can find all the paladin skills by level on Wohead here, if I'm not direct linking a skill, go there for more info.

The first levels, 1 to 10

Your first skills until level 10 will mostly be your first damage skills. Your first seal: Seal of Righteousness. Your first judgment: Judgment of Light. Your first benediction: Blessing of Might. Keep your blessing and seal up at all times, judge each time it's up. It's up to you to chose between a 2 handed weapon or a 1 handed one, the difference is very little for now.
As for survival, you'll have your first big heal: Holy Light, and your first mini-bubble: Divine Protection. Try to not run too low on mana, always having enough for a heal, and don't hesitate to use your Divine Protection each tie you get a "link" (two or more monsters at the same time). It will greatly reduce the damage you take and most probably ensure your victory.
You will also get your first aura as soon as lvl 1: Devotion Aura. As for seals and blessings, you can only have one aura at any given time (unless you're in a group with other paladins). And as for seal and blessing, you should keep your aura up at all times.
The first paladin levels are fast and smooth, good armor, good survival tools and several passive buffing abilities ensure an easy gameplay and very little deaths, even if it's your first time playing.

The early days in Azeroth, 10 to 58

"talenting" your paladin for leveling
Now you're level 10, what is going to change ? As all wow players know, lvl 10 is the time to chose a "talent spec", a way to spend points that customize your character skills to your liking. Paladins have 3 talent trees, that I'll try to roughly summarize as Holy for healing, Protection for tanking and Retribution for damage dealing. You won't be surprised, I'm going to advise you to put your points into the Retribution tree. You'll get one point per level, don't wait put it into retribution as soon as you level-up.
I'm going to give you some talent trees for leveling from 1 to 50, you'll most probably have enough experience to chose by yourself from then. I'm not saying they're the best, they are the ones I used, with the changes done to them since I did level my paladins.
level 10 to 20: Wowhead talent tree for lvl 20 paladin
level 20 to 30: Wowhead talent tree for lvl 30 paladin
level 30 to 40: Wowhead talent tree for lvl 40 paladin
level 40 to 50: Wowhead talent tree for lvl 50 paladin
I always chose flat damage increase over critical hit chances, you can pump your critical first if you like it's mostly equivalent.
Your biggest changes of playstyle from talents will be at lvl 20 with Seal of Command, that will replace any other seal you used until then and will stay as your damage dealing one until the end. Then Judgments of the Wise at level 40-42 (3 steps talent), that will hugely reduce your downtime, from then you'll very rarely sit to drink and get some mana back. And then Crusader Strike at level 50, that will add some spice to your judage & wait routine.

the daily leveling
Not much will change up to level 40, keep up your buffs, judge, kill some monsters, use your Judgment of Justice to prevent them from fleeing if needed. New skills useful for multiple monsters encounters: Retribution aura, Consecration. New "oh shit" buttons will be added to your inventory with Lay on Hands (install full heal on a long cool down timer), and Divine Shield that is our signature move and a complete damage immunity for a short time (very usefull to flee from harm). You'll also get new seals and blessings, you can play with them and try them, but I still advise you to keep Might & Righteousness/Command for leveling.
Don't forget to get your paladin horse at lvl 20 and epic horse at lvl 40 (they're so nice at blizzard these days ;p).
And keep up a stack of the best drink you can find at the vendors at all times, that will greatly help you to refresh this mana bar that always seem to be drained until you'll get Judgments of the Wise.

the weapon that will be yours
Now as you could expect a good weapon is a very effective tool for a melee damage class. As soon as you'll get Seal of Command, you should get a good 2 handed weapon and stick to that choice (of 2 handers) for all your retribution time. Free attacks hurt much more when this is a free huge 2 handed word dealing it that a puny 1 handed one :P
If you already have a lvl 80 and can get the heirloom weapon Bloodied Arcanite Reaper, or the Repurposed Lava Dredger, this is most probably a good choice. It won't be as potent as a blue weapon when you're in a x5-x9 level range (read second part of a 10 level span). But it'll avoid you to chore to camp the auction house for good blue weapons.
If you don't have a reaper, or can't get it as you don't have a lvl 80 toon already, then please use that list: blue 2 handed weapons from lvl 1 to 58. If you can get your hand on one of these, it will probably be your best friend for 5 to 10 levels, so check up the auction house, even 10 to 20 gold isn't too much for some of them, and if you don't have the money, take-up mining and make a few dozens of gold pieces in a day of mining :P
If you're rerolling and have access to enchanting, buying blue weapons and putting a Flaming Weapon and later Crusader enchant on them is the best and most effective way to level. I've used a Burning War Axe with a crusader enchant from lvl 33 to 52 myself ... and even if it was starting to get weak after 45, the crusader enchant made for it until I was able to use a Destiny.
All in all don't be shy with your weapon, it's your best friend and best tool to level fast.

but I want to play a healer / tank ...
If it's your first character, I'd strongly advise you to wait until lvl 58 and you reach Outland to chose anything else than retribution for leveling. If it's not then dual spec at lvl 40 will be your friend. Get a protection or holy spec as your second spec and use it if you're ever asked for a group as a tank or healer. But keep your retribution spec for your solo play.
Now, once you'll reach lvl 58 and time will be to go to outland, you'll have more freedom. The main reason will be that you'll hit the Death Knights bandwagon and you'll find much more people to group & play with, I can promise you healers are in huge demand in outland and later on. But keep in mind that, if a protection spec can level-up decently once this level reached, a holy healing spec will still be a dreadful time soloing.

58 it's time to move on
Once you're 58, it'll be time to move from Azertoh to Outland through the Dark Portal that is south of the Blasted Lands. With the last patch, you can reach it by a portal in Stormwind or Orgrimmar.
And then you'll have to read part 2 of the guide, that I will hopefully not take 1 month to write.

Have fun, leveling a paladin in the retribution tree is, even if the first levels are mostly sit and hack :)

You can find the other parts of the guide here:
Paladin Leveling Guide (part2)
Paladin Leveling Guide (part3, end)
end for gearing your new paladin at lvl 80
Pre-raid gear in patch 3.2
hope you'll enjoy the whole thing ^_^

Monday, August 10, 2009

Heroics all day long, is that all what you do?

I like WotLK heroic dungeons, much more than I liked BC ones. They're difficulty level is good, and you can start them after a bit of gearing at 80 to get your first ilvel 200 blues (and purples if you're lucky) and start raiding. Add a few crafts & pvp into the mix and you'll be raid set in no time. In BC heroics were hard, sometimes too hard to be done before being nearly fully epic'ed from Karazhan. That was defeating their purpose and Blizzard adjusted that right in LK.
Ok, so I love heroics. But I don't like the badge change of patch 3.2 ... why? It has sent everyone (and their 3 years old sister) into heroics again! So why would I be upset of it?
The reason is simple: we nearly don't raid anymore. People don't see any interest into going in a raid to wipe a few times (at least) during the night and down at most 5 bosses (if we're lucky as it's harder and harder to get people to play, even more good people) for 10 badges and a chance to get one epic. During that same time they could run at least 5 heroics, with no wipe, no repair bill, no flasks to buy, two times the number of badges and 3 triumph ones through quests.
I'm sad, I hate it, but I can understand them ... raiding has just lost most of its gearing interest, at least until players will have all got their 2 pieces of T9 and all they can get with emblems of conquest.
If you add the fact that doing an heroic in T7.25 full gear is just way too easy and boring ... I'm not really enjoying the game these days :(
It's rerolling time, again.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Patch 3.2 is here

So today (or yesterday if you're on the US servers) is patch day for patch 3.2.
I've not talked a lot about this patch before, but for the big holy paladin changes that it contains. Even if I'm not a fanboy of these changes, this patch contains much much more than classes fixes & balance. You can find everything, from new heirloom items to the new instances, as always, on MMO Champion Ptach 3.2 page.
The addition to the game of the body armor heirloom items, with their 10% xp bonus stacking with the already existing shoulders, and the changes for the mounts (normal at level 40, epic land at 40, flying mount at 60 and potentially northern flying at 68) are huge opportunities and incitations to reroll. I will try to offer a small guide for people wanting to reroll a paladin and level quickly to reach the raid level at 80.
But this patch also contains big changes for the end game, a new 5 man instance: Trial of the Champion, a new battleground: Isle of Conquest, a new raid with Tier 9 armors.
If you add to that druid animal form changes, class changes, epic gems, profession changes ... you get a huge patch even not containing a raid the size of Ulduar.

It will not surprise you that I would have prefered this aptch to hit in september, giving is one more month to finish Ulduar as I have yet to see the death of little yoggy for myself :P
But it is still a lot of content and new opportunities to revive a game sometimes becoming a bit boring. Wich is probably a good thing as september will see the dawn of yet another big mmo known by the name of Aion.