Category Archives: Playstyle

So Far, So Good

Well, I’ve had Wrath for about four and a half days now, and I’m sitting around level 74 – I’m hoping to get 75 before the servers go down for maintenance tonight. I could have been faster, but I’m duoing with a friend so we loseWeight Exercise a little bit of time in synchronising our availability, and I’ve been putting in a bit of work on tradeskills as well – and much of the weekend was spent running Utgarde Keep, The Nexus, Azjol-Nerub and Ahn’Kahet with guildies.

I’m really loving Wrath. I’d tried to avoid doing too much actual content in the beta, so as not to burn myself out, so a lot of this is very new to me. I’m very impressed with Wrath – not only is it far prettier than any WoW that’s come before, but it’s also a much more dynamic, immersive experience. The bulk of the quests aren’t just ‘Kill X of Y’ quests any more, they really make you feel like you’re participating in the story of a zone. It’s extremely well-done.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, level 75 is calling me…

Three Days to Go!

I’m getting excited – I hope everyone else is looking forward to it too!

In the meantime, I’m levelling my warlock – she won’t be 70 before Wrath Day, but if I’m lucky she’ll be close enough to go straight into Northrend when I pick her up again in a few months’ time. On the one hand, I really enjoy warlock – it’s an incredibly powerful class for soloing (take that, devilsaurs!) but on the other, it’s not really inspiring me to do much with her at endgame. Still, I’ve really enjoyed levelling her.

My main problem, when it comes to levelling alts, is that i have to have some role in mind for them when they hit 80, or else it feels pointless. My mage, for example, is fine – she’s my ‘main alt’ to play when I want a break from healing, and she’s a herber/miner with an epic birdie, so she’s a great farmer. But my other alts? I’ve got a 70 priest, a 69 rogue, a 62 warlock and a 60 shaman (and a druid who is still stuck at 40, heh)… I find it hard to get motivated to play them beyond the fun of actually levelling them, because I’m so invested in my main.

We’ll see. it’s not like I’m going to delete them, after all – perhaps with Wrath’s ability to do 10-man raids at all levels, I’ll get a chance to take some of them raiding without losing focus on my paladin.

A Week From Now

This time next week, I will be sitting down at my computer with a fresh copy of WotLK in my hot little hands. This time next week, I will be commencing the lovely patch-patch-patch-wait-patch-login-crash-login-disconnect-login-lag-lag-lag process we can all look forward to on our first few days in Northrend.

Seriously though, I can’t believe how excited I am. I’ve been itching for Wrath Day ever since I first got into the beta months ago and saw what awaited us. Next week can’t get here fast enough!

The State of Paladin

I try and stay positive when I focus on developments in the WoW world, but it’s getting hard to grit one’s teeth through yet another round of nerfs being fired like buckshot into the ranks of the paladins. Even when they’re not aiming at you, it’s almost a given you’ll get some collateral damage – probably right in the face.

Rohan of Blessing of Kings has been doing a good job of keeping up with the changes – the vast majority of which are nerfs – to paladins in the last few weeks, and I’ll point you there if you want to catch up on what’s changed (and changed, and changed again). So, What Went Wrong is a recent example of his interesting and insightful posts.

I’m angry, and bitter, and very very frustrated. I will try not to rant, but I make no promises. The change that’s frustrating me most is the story of Avenging Wrath, which was our shiny new Paladin spell at level 70.

The Backstory
In TBC Avenging Wrath was only a damage buff. It lasted 20 seconds, on a 3 minute cooldown, and triggered the Forbearance debuff – which lasted a minute, was triggered by Avenging Wrath, Blessing (now Hand) of Protection, Divine Shield (aka bubble), and Divine Protection (aka bubble; made you immune but you couldn’t attack at all, and shared the DS cooldown) and locked you out of all those spells while active.

Nice boost, right? In practice, it was rarely used.

  • PvE: it did nothing for Holy paladins (the vast majority of paladins in TBC), Ret paladins were a rarity in PvE (although those that existed would indeed have found Avenging Wrath useful), and generally it was mostly used by Protection paladins looking to crank up their TPS (since they didn’t have to worry about Forbearance, as they weren’t going to be bubbling).
  • PvP: pretty much never used, because it was purgeable/stealable, and locked you out of your only defensive ability to boot. No-one was going to give up the ability to bubble just for a damage buff that was almost certain to get wiped off anyway.

From The Sublime…
So, in the WotLK beta, Blizzard detached Avenging Wrath from Forbearance, and gave it a buff to healing done as well (finally making it useful for Holy paladins). This was, as far as I know, to encourage people to actually use it, and it worked. Finally, people were using their Level 70 spell – and loving it. To compensate, Forbearance was increased to a 3-minute duration. Fair enough.

…To The Ridiculous
Except, of course, that ret paladins were bubbling, blowing AW, and owning people up in BGs while completely immune – and strangely, other people didn’t like that very much. Blizzard clearly felt that this was an absolutely urgent issue, and hotfixed in a nerf (without even testing it first on the beta realms or the 3.0.3 PTR). Avenging Wrath now causes Forbearance again (which has been reduced to 2 minutes rather than 3).

The forums exploded as soon as this was announced, of course. Ten pages of respondents said “for god’s sake, don’t put it on Forbearance, just make AW and DS unable to be triggered at the same time, like trinkets”. This was apparently ignored, as were the nearly-as-numerous suggestions to have AW cancel DS and vice versa, or have AW just not give a damage boost while bubbled… et cetera.

Where Avenging Wrath Stands
So, let’s take a look at the net change between TBC and now, shall we?

Forbearance: Was 1 minute. Now 2 minutes.

PvE: Holy paladins will no longer use AW unless they really need the throughput buff and can be certain they won’t need to bubble for survival. Ret paladins may use AW, except on fights where they know they’ll need to bubble for survival. Prot paladins absolutely will not use AW (losing the TPS boost it provided), as it would lock them out of Divine Protection (which is now a Shield Wall ability rather than just being ‘bubble-lite’).

PvP: No-one (with any sense) will use AW. It’s still vulnerable to purge/steal and will still lock you out of your most vital survival ability; a paladin who’s blown their bubble is a vulnerable, probably-soon-to-be-dead paladin. And it’ll lock you out of your bubble for longer than it used to. Good times.

So, in other words, we are now worse off than we were in TBC. Thanks for fixing us, Blizz! Much appreciated!

“Paladin” Doesn’t Just Mean Retribution
This post was announced on the forums as an “upcoming Ret paladin PvP nerf”. However, it is in fact a nerf to all specs in PvE as well as PvP.

This follows on the heels of the last nerf, just four days earlier, also hotfixed in, reducing mana return from Judgements o the Wise and damage from Seal/Judgement of Command. Those really were Ret nerfs, not applicable to other specs, but in that post Ghostcrawler says “we still intend to lower the damage of other Seals and Judgements” (except Seal/Judgement of Blood and of the Martyr) – which basically means that Seal of Righteousness (the main seal for Holy DPS) and Seal of Vengeance (the main seal for tankadins) are getting it in the neck. Explain again how those are Retribution nerfs, given that Ret uses primarily Seal of Blood/Martyr and Seal of Command?

It’s really starting to feel like Blizzard has forgotten us Holy and Prot paladins are even here.

Testing Times
However, what also concerns me in the second nerf thread is Ghostcrawler saying (emphasis mine):

We are going to hotfix the nerfs to Judgement of the Wise (from 33% to 15%) and Seal and Judgement of Command (down 20% damage) to live. We need to start getting more testing on these changes right away to see what they do to Retribution in PvE and PvP.

What, in God’s name, do they have a Beta test and a PTR for, if not testing changes? Why the hell are they hotfixing nerfs to the Live environment before they’ve tested them?!

And then we have the issue that they’re hotfixing untested nerfs in left, right and centre, but when it comes to fixing damage done by these nerfs, the response is “we’re exploring this … we’ll let you know” and “as soon as we’re comfortable that we haven’t over-nerfed Ret, and a couple of other things, we’re going to look at healer dps again to make sure you can solo” and “we do realize this hurts Holy and Protection as well, and that is something for which we are prepared to offer compensation”.

So, the cheesy Bubble+Wings IWIN combo made people unhappy enough that it had to be hotfixed (despite the fact that it was a once-every-5-minutes combo for 12 seconds), but repairing the ongoing effects of these hamhanded, scattershot nerfs is something that has to be carefully considered, orchestrated, and implemented? Does anyone really wonder why paladins are feeling angry, bitter and victimised at this point?

Frankly, I think Blizzard has really dropped the ball on Paladin development. I will still be playing Sailan when the dust settles (unless something really really dire happens), but I can’t blame other paladins for rerolling or quitting entirely.

Another Useful WoW Tool: TalentChic

I got an email about this from David, the site owner, a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t blogged about it yet due to the deluge of 3.0.2-related posts and playtime. Thanks for the headsup, David!

TalentChic is very interesting; it looks at armory data to determine the most popular specific spec choices for each class/spec option, and then it gives you an ordered list of alternative specs, in order of popularity.

For example, apparently 51/5/5 is currently the most popular holy paladin build (a pretty much by-the-numbers Holy build, plus Kings from Prot and Benediction from Ret), with 54/7/0 and 56/5/0 following close behind.

For possibly the first time ever, however, there are more Ret pallies than Holy or Prot pallies – the premier Holy build is beaten by two different Ret builds, and Prot doesn’t make an appearance until #15 on the list. (I bet that will change, though; even apart from the upcoming nerfs, I suspect a lot of those ret pallies are usually healers or tanks, slapping on the DPS gear and owning it up in battlegrounds for some relaxation before Wrath hits.)

The Caveat
Bear in mind that the site tells us:

We don’t just look at any old character though! We have spent the last few months finding the best players in all parts of the game (according to their gear). Since patch 3.0.2 released, we have furiously been scanning the armory to find what talent specs these top players have chosen.

Now, apart from the fact that we don’t know how they determine someone is a ‘top player’ (average ilvl of gear? arena rating? membership of a guild clearing X much content? T5 gear? Sunwell gear?) there’s a factor to bear in mind: endgame play is not necessarily the same as pre-endgame play (and I don’t mean at the level cap vs. levelling, either).

To use an example from holy paladin gameplay: in raids like Karazhan, Holy Paladin play is generally Flash-of-Light spam, with the occasional Holy Light for spikes, and regen generally comes from mp5-based talents and gear. As you move through the tiers of progression, Holy Light becomes more and more essential, and spellcrit (via Illumination) takes over as the main source of mana return. In the real endgame – Sunwell Plateau – spellhaste is essential, and mana efficiency is less of a concern. So, a Sunwell paladin is going to want to maximise spell haste and spellpower from their talents, someone in late Tier 5 content is going to be looking hungrily at all that crit rating in the first few tiers of Retribution, while someone in Karazhan is going to be worrying about mana efficiency. Obviously, that’s a broad generalisation – and it’s not entirely accurate now 3.0.2’s gone live, either – but you can see how a Sunwell healadin wouldn’t go anywhere without Judgements of the Pure, while a paladin in T5-ish content is going to be more excited about Conviction and Sanctified Seals. That said, that doesn’t mean the site is only useful for endgame players – far from it! Just make sure to think about the talents the popular builds don’t take, and whether you need them.

The Bottom Line
This site has a lot of potential to be very useful – both to keep an eye on new developments for your class, and to look for inspiration when you’re changing your build. Frankly, I think it’ll be even more useful for alts – let’s face it, most people who do research their class know their mains pretty well by now, but when your new alt hits 70 (or 80) and you want to start instancing or raiding with them, this is a great way to instantly tap into common consensus about the class.

Just make sure to bear in mind the caveats: look at the builds the site’s suggesting, and make sure you’re not missing out on important talents for the content you’re doing. And, of course, a million people can, in fact, be wrong. ;-)

Five Things I Love About 3.0.2

In no particular order:

Raid boss nerfs.
I know it’s disappointing for raid groups who were just about to beat Boss X on pre-nerf difficulty, and I sympathise, but: overall, I think this is a nice dose of fun for the people who get to see a few bosses they otherwise would have missed, and it’s a nice chance to just goof around and not take things terribly seriously. Raiding should not be srs bzns all the time, after all.

New talents.
For the first time in three years, I specced Retribution for a couple of days, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I went back to my Holy comfort zone right quick mind you (to heal an AQ40 pug I should have known was doomed, really), but after years of struggling and making do with shockadin, to play Sailan and actually do real DPS was great fun. Ret has plenty of nerfs incoming, so it won’t last, but it was fun while it did.

The Scourge Invasion world event.
There are a lot of negative things you could say about the enforced PvP aspect of the zombie plague, and Lume said them very eloquently; I’m not going to talk about it now because this is a positive post, darnit.

There are two things I love about the Scourge Invasion, 3.0.2 style:

  • The old content of 1.12 – the necrotic crystals, the killing masses of zombies and skeletons and ghosts, the fighting for mob tags and the mad accumulation of necrotic runes – is just fun. Speaking as a paladin, smashing the undead is kind of my raison d’être, y’know?
  • Lore and Storyline. While the effects of the zombie invasion are frustrating, it’s engrossing to see history repeating – this is what happened to Andorhal, Stratholme and other human towns. The quests surrounding the event give a glimpse of history, and at the same time they lead into the storyline of Wrath of the Lich King, foreshadowing what is to come.

I’m sure no-one’s surprised that I think these are great fun. I do have a couple of quibbles about the system – mainly that there’s not enough distinction between meaningless achievements (like using a toothpick) and achievements that require some effort (like reading every book on the ‘Well Read‘ list, which requires a couple of instance runs to finish). However, I love the system and I love its rewards – I’ve already scored myself the Ambassador, Diplomat, and Guardian of Cenarius titles, and Stinker the Skunk pet.

Now There’s A Name I’ve Not Heard Since…
The guild is livelier than I’ve seen it since we stopped official raids; the people who were still playing a night or two a week are on all the time, and people who’d cancelled accounts or drifted away are back to check out 3.0.2 and get ready for Wrath. Although we’re not doing anything in particular that needs numbers, a more lively and dynamic guild is always a good thing, and it’s reaffirmed my belief that we’re going to have a good solid raid group come WotLK – we’re pretty close to raiding strength already, despite having lost enough of our old raiding team to drama, RL obligations and differing priorities to put an end to our 25-man raids a few months ago.

How Not To See Achievements

I’ve heard quite a few people unhappy that the new achievement system spams their guildchat relentlessly, even when they’ve turned off global achievement announcements.

Here’s how to disable them:

For nearby/chat announcements

  1. Right click on the tab of your chat window
  2. Go to “Settings”
  3. In the left-hand column, pick “Other”
  4. In the right-hand area, look for an option for ‘Achievement Announce’; uncheck it

For guild announcements (as discovered by my guildmate Wildence, after a bit of adept Googlefu)

  1. Right click on the tab of your chat window
  2. Go to “Settings”
  3. In the left-hand column, pick “Chat”
  4. In the right-hand area, look for an option for ‘Guild Announce’; uncheck it


Popular, Ain’t It?

Patch 3.0.2 has certainly brought a lot of people out of retirement – on swapping accounts today, I was greeted with a sight I haven’t seen for a long time!

Not a big queue, sure, but I haven’t seen a queue at all for years. Impressive.

P.S. Apologies for the lack of meaty content over the last few days; I’ve been too busy playing to blog!

More Fool Me

While I was waiting for patch 3.0.2 to arrive, one of the things I did was farming reputation – for fun, and for the achievements. I got myself Exalted with all five Alliance factions, Exalted with Cenarion Circle and Argent Dawn, and I’d farmed 34K rep of the 39K I needed for Exalted with Timbermaw Hold.

Off I trot today to finish off Timbermaw rep and get myself not one but two Achievements (plus a new title) – and I discover the rumor was right. Timbermaw faction handins now give twice as much rep.

Oh, furbolgs, why couldn’t you have been this easy to please a fortnight ago?

Post Your Bank!

A week or so ago, Pike challenged us to post our banks, revelling in the messiness that is one’s bank.

Sailan's Bank

Click to see a larger image.

You can see why I’m looking forward to Patch 3.0.2 so much!

  • 12 soulbound non-combat pets (plus one in my inventory) will disappear into my Companions panel
  • 3 mounts (plus two in my inventory) will disappear into my Mounts panel
  • 5 stacks of tokens (Badges of Justice, and 4 types of BG Marks) will disappear into my Currency tab

Now, if only they had a tabard-storage panel…