Daily Thoughts: Ret Paladin Is Beast

I know I mentioned yesterday about getting more into warrior or DK dps but, I didn’t play my DK at all (other than doing the Headless Horseman Daily) and didn’t really learn anything new about the warrior. Actually, I did learn I should watch my threat on my warrior now that he has decent gear, because dying sucks.

What I did want to talk about today is Retribution Paladins and how awesomesauce they are right now. Yesterday was my first time taking ret into a raid since the big patch. With 2 slight upgrades (251 to 264 boots and back) and the changes from 4.0.1, my ret pally went from ~9k dps on Toravon 25m in VOA to 11.5k dps on the same fight. We actually wiped once on him because a tank and heal went offline, though it gave me a chance to see a neat little comparison of my own dps. The first attempt I was using Seal of Righteousness because I forgot to turn it off after trash. This is the seal designed to be slightly bursty and hit multiple targets with the seal of command talent. I was a little under 9k dps using that seal. At first, I didn’t notice the wrong seal since my damage was comparable to the raiding damage I was used to doing.

After the first wipe and during the replacement of the offline players and ragequitters, I used my proper Seal of Truth. Truth, much like the former Seal of Corruption, leaves a stacking dot on the target which also increases the damage of your judgement. Checking recount after the second attempt and kill, Censure (the name of the Dot damage) was responsible for about 15% of my damage. This should give you an idea of how important it will be to maintain 100% uptime of this DoT. On single target, low movement fights it shouldn’t be an issue. In fights like Marrowgar where he moves away from you or in rotface that could require you to take a slime to the off tank, you should be very aware and keep the debuff up if at all possible.

The other important changes are too our cooldowns. Avenging Wrath (as I mentioned in my Top 5 New Paladin Talents post) now allows hammer of wrath to be used outside of the normal enemy < 20% health rule. This means, outside of tank threat issues, you open up boss fights with wings and your rotation changes to HoW usage on CD. Our new cooldown timing is a point of contention so far for ret paladins. Zealotry can be used when you have 3 holy power and for its duration makes each Crusader Strike grant 3 holy power instead of 1. Rotation during Zealotry should be Crusader Strike > Templar’s Verdict > CS > TV and so on til the buff wears off. The issue comes with the normal standard of stacking cooldowns. Using AW and Zealotry at the same time would mean buffed CS and TV along with the HoW, but you’ll be doing less of everything during that time. If you follow the CS > TV rotation during Zealotry, you’ll miss precious extra HoW hits, though if you do HoW on cool down like you should, you wont get as many CS > TV combinations off during the time.

I haven’t seen enough data into this to say definitively which is the right way to go. Personally, I open with AW and have a rotation something like  HoW > CS > Judge > HoW > CS > TV > HoW, depending on Holy Power generation. HoW on cooldown, only delaying it if I have a Mastery proc for TV or full HP for TV. Immediately after my AW buff ends, I use Zealotry and am able to maintain very high DPS for the duration of both of my big cooldowns. On Toravon I was only able to use Zealotry once this way while getting 2 Avenging Wrath off. During a slightly longer fight I’d probably be able to get two of each even with this method.

Daily Thoughts: Random Comparison – Fury vs Frost

Fury v. Frost – Sounds like an epic boxing match about to begin. As it isn’t a boxing match, it is probably unclear why I’d go out of my way to compare to unrelated specs on two different classes. Well, those specs are all I really had time to play yesterday so that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

Fury:

I’m two-handed fury. None of these little rogue / insta-dead enh shaman one hander things for me. I’m a fury warrior; a raging beast dual wielding two small trucks, excited to bash just about anything. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. My fury warrior is my freshest 80. He’s decently geared at this point through mainly heroics and one lucky ICC-10. He’s wielding Ramaladni’s Blade of Culling from ICC 10 and the Edge of Ruin from the ToC 5 man heroic. The rest of his gear is pretty representative of those. A mix between ilevel200 and ilevel264 pieces. He’s only partially enchanted and gemmed with mostly rare quality gems. In heroics, I do an easy 7-8k dps on trash pulls and single target bosses with cooldowns. With the right string of crits, i’ve neared 9.5k dps single target in a heroic. The rotation is mostly button mashing, then button mash whatever is flashing. Raging Blow during enrage > Slam when it procs > Bloodthirst > HS when at high rage. I’m not amazing at prioritizing my rotation so mines mostly faceroll. AoE packs are even easier, cleave > whatever > cleave. It’s fun, its easy. I do want to learn a little more about what I should be doing for a tighter rotation and stat preferences for gems so, read along with me:

Wow Insider – Warrior Search   ,   From the Wow Forums

Looks like people aren’t completely sure about stat weights and such. Ej doesn’t have anything definitive currently. Hit/Exp caps are a must though.

Frost:

My death knight is a burly risen dead orc soldier. He brandishes a two-handed weapon and controls deaths icy powers. The new rune system adds a bit more downtime during a DK’s rotation than the global cooldown mashing fest that was in place before 4.0.1, at least for non dual-wielders. To compensate for this, blizzard made everything hit really hard. My main attacks in heroics – frost strike, obliterate, and howling blast – all crit for 13k+ regularly. The DK is using Tyrannical Beheader out of heroic Pit of Saron, he has 4 piece tier 10, and almost completely ilvl 251/264 gear in total. He has all the best enchants and gems. Frosts big hits of howling blast lead me to an easy 8k+ dps on trash pulls but I’m only sitting around 5-6k dps on single target boss fights. I can only assume that my rotation is sloppy, though Frosts rotation and needs are a bit more intensive than a Fury warrior. Frost must lay down both diseases on the target, use Obliterate as often as possible and during the 100% crit procs, Festering Strike to refresh diseases (they really need 100% uptime), frost strike to bleed off all that runic power, and blood strikes to use the blood runes that you’ll otherwise be wasting. Doing festering strike too often is a dps loss as it doesn’t hit as hard as your other strikes. Using FS not often enough causes diseases to fall off, wasting runes and cooldowns to reapply them. It’s a pretty fun spec with some procs to watch for and an interesting rotation, now I just need to get my stuff in order. Lets check out some resources for this and maybe I can find out why my lesser geared warrior does more single target than frost dk.

Elitist Jerks – Frost DK

Wow Insider – DK Search

Both EJ and WoW Insider seem to agree that I could use more haste on my two-handed frost DK. I’ll try reforging that in the next couple days. The EJ link is a GREAT resource for rotation, gemming, glyphs, etc. Hopefully I can tone that DK up a bit and get his damage on par with his gear.

Fury Warriors and Frost Death Knights are both very fun and dynamic specs leaning on procs for best dps. Fury is a bit easier to do well, but if you want a more challenging spec to play and have (or might level) one of these two-handed weapon monsters, Frost might be your best bet.

Weekend Update: Lake Tahoe

Take a moment and notice the subject. There isn’t a Lake Tahoe in Warcraft to my knowledge. There is, on the other hand, one on the border of California and Nevada. “Why,” you might be wondering, “is the subject about something not in WoW on a WoW blog?” The answer is simple: Because I felt like it. A more specific answer is that I was in Tahoe all weekend and didn’t really get much WoW in, playing, AH, blogging or otherwise. Thus, not much new WoW to update about.

After getting back this afternoon I’ve worked on gearing up my warrior. I got him his ilvl 264 back piece from Justice Points and his wrathful boots for Honor points. I’m not really doing PVP on him but 264 boots of any physical dps type is much better than the blue he was wearing. And I must say, I’m really, really tired of these WotLK Heroics. I absolutely cannot wait until we get new ones in Cataclysm.

Should have a real post up tomorrow. Probably some more about the Warrior.

Daily Thoughts: Random Thoughts About 4.0.1 So Far

With such a host of changes in the 4.0.1 patch, a lot of little things can get missed as we talk about larger or more specific issues. Here’s a few of my thoughts that I think I’ve missed in previous articles so far.

  • AoE – Blizzards design goals for the future of WoW is to limit the mass AoE pull fun-fest that Wrath has become. Most of their relevent changes reflect this. Paladin’s Divine Storm needs 3 stacks of HP before it does much damage, even then doing less per target that before, making it only very useful in large pulls. Hunters have lost their EZmode AoE trick – volley. Now multi-shot hits all targets but at much lower DPS (aside from maybe a SV hunter with key talents/glyphs). Warriors cleave and whirlwind now have a stacking buff that increases their damage done the more you use it, to the point that cleave is comparable single target damage to heroic strike even. Wait? How does that fit into the design goal? On my poorly gear warrior alt, cleaves can hit multiple targets for upwards of 13k each. Whirlwind is hitting about as hard as DS when both are buffed to 3 stacks, yet after WW gets its buff, its at full power til the trash is dead. So why is other AoE getting nerfed, while warriors AoE got buffed and most other classes (casters particularly) stayed the same.
  • Damage Balance – Most people will have noticed by now, even with the damage pass that nerfed caster dps and buffed melee dps, caster dps is ridiculous. I watched a warrior with almost 1k resilience get hit for 36k by some mage. Admittedly, I’m sure the mage was geared, but there’s no good reason for a mage one shotting a warrior in almost all pvp gear. At equal gear levels nearly all casters are doing 25%+ dps of their melee counter parts. There is a decent change that this wont get really addressed until cataclysm.
  • Tanks – Where are they? People just don’t want to tank anymore. While trying to form a 10m group for the weekly quest last night our group, and at least 5 other groups in trade looking, had no luck finding a tank for over a half hour. We even had 4 people capable of healing in the group, and no tanks. Whats the deal?
  • Subtlety rogues don’t suck anymore. They hurt. Watch out for those extra sneaky back stabbers.
  • Although mana isn’t too much of an issue for healers now because we overpower most of the content, I can see how it will be in cata. With the mana regen changes characters of mine that wouldn’t go under 90% mana are now having to use special regen talents to keep going during an average boss fight.
  • Overall it seems like Blizzard is following through with their stated design goals for the expansion. Expect lots of CC, healers going OOM, huge health pools, and harder instances/raids in Cataclysm.

See you monday!

Top Lists: 5 Best New Paladin Talents of 4.0.1

With Top Lists, I bring you the classic past-time of listing the best/worst of any subject. On this blog, naturally, Warcraft themed topics will be the focus.

Today: Best New Paladin Talents of 4.0.1.

5. Rebuke – Ret – Finally we have a legitimate interrupt. Of course, this will lead to ret paladins actually having a job on boss fights besides facerolldps.

4. Divine Guardian – Prot – Raid wall that doesn’t require another cool down to use. Being able to hit a button to help protect 20% of raid damage for 6 seconds is a big deal on any high raid damage fights.

3. Long Arm of the Law / Improved Judgement – Ret (IJ in range of Holy/Prot) – Wait! Paladins got an interrupt and a gap closer? Both things most of us didn’t think we’d see in this expansion. Improved judgement gives us an additional 20 yards of range on our judgement giving us a ranged attack that doesn’t have a cast time. The long arm talent improves judgements even further by increasing our run speed by 45% for 6 seconds if the target is more than 15 yards away. This is useful when chasing down another player, to keep downtime minimal on trash (especially if your tank has a charge ability), and on raid bosses that might be high movement periods that require you to be more than 15 yards from your target (Professor Putri and his slimes for example).

2. Sanctified Wrath – Ret – This talent reduces the cool down of Avenging Wrath (wings) by 20/40/60 seconds, increases the crit chance of Hammer of Wrath by 20/40/60%, and the new most important function – HoW can be used during AW regardless of the health of the enemy. This is great to open up on a boss (watch tank threat) in order to get 2, possibly 3, periods of HoW during a fight for a huge dps increase. Right now, it’s a little bit over powered in PVP as hammer can easily hit a target without amazing resilience for 15-18k and two-shot them. It does make up for our weaker judgements in PVP.

1. Protector of the Innocent – Holy (in range of ret/prot) -This first tier talent from the Holy tree is straight amazing with no downside. It’s a permanent Beacon of Light on yourself. All heals done by the Paladin also heal the Paladin, including self heals. These are healing my Paladin somewhere in the range of 5-9k each. It’s one of the best survivability talents in the game for both PVE raiding and PVP play.

Do you have any thoughts of what should have been on my top 5 list? Comment your own top 5 paladin talent list or suggest a new list topic I could write up!

Daily Thoughts: Hallow’s End and Bad Queues

I spent most of my WoW time last night working on achievements for the Hallow’s End holiday and hopefully the “the Hallowed” title this year.

See WoW Insiders Guide to Hallow’s End 2010

I got my GNERD Rage (50 honor kills with the candy buff active) achievement almost entirely in one wintergrasp. Horde is pretty over populated on my server, so we farm the alliance back to their flight path most times. Poor ally. Most of my time though, was spent getting the Tricks and Treats of Azeroth. That requires you to run around to most of your factions Inns in Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms and Outlands and loot their pumpkin. It’s a lot of running/flying. Each pumpkin does give 6 or so gold, so my friend and I were up 200 gold after the night.

The quests that require horde players to run into south shore and cause shenanigans were pretty fun because there was a bunch of alliance there trying to kill us. My 1100 resilience paladin and my friends 1k resilience warrior said, “No ally, you can’t kill us”. I didn’t claim our battle taunts were creative. Not much better than some open world PVP while getting achievements. Today I’m going to have to do the achievements that rely on drops, including the Sinister Squashling pet and the pumpkin helm.

…And the bad queue part

During the course of this adventure to gain my holiday achievement, my questing parter and I were constantly queued for random battle grounds. Over the course of 3 hours or so of questing/running around, we got only 3 battle ground queues. Do the math, it’s taking forever. I’d love someone to comment if they happen to know why for certain. I had heard before the patch that battle groups were supposed to expand or function as if they had, though after seeing the limited server selection inside the battle grounds we were in, other possibilities such as smaller battle groups make more sense. Any ideas?

Daily Thoughts: PVP Weapons and Frost DK’s

So lets talk a little about PVP gear. It’s pretty standard to be able to buy the last tier of pvp gear and maybe the current tier of off set pieces with honor points. PVP gear this point in wrath is not typically optimal for a PVE environment (raids, instances, etc). PVP gear on the other hand is great for gearing up an alt with points that are traditionally easier to earn than the badges needed for PVE gear. For example, in the latest tier, wrathful gear is the best PVP gear a player can get, though furious set pieces, some relentless pieces, and wrathful off pieces can all be purchased with honor points. An item level 200 head-piece has less strength and overall stats than a 232 furious gladiators plate helm that can be purchased with honor from any random battle ground or weekly WG quest. Tanks that are in high need of stamina will find some great pieces this way, as PVP gear has higher stamina than PVE gear of the same level. Higher tiers of PVP gear that could best heroic instance PVE gear have typically been off-limits to people without arena ratings – until now.

Currently all PVP gear except item level 270 and above is available without an arena rating and with only honor points. This means you can gear and alt, or even a main character, with a 264 level weapon, something otherwise only reached in ICC 25 raiding or decent skill in arena. I bought my Paladin a 264 Wrathful Gladiators weapon with 100 more spell power than my 10 man ICC weapon I had currently. Over all a solid upgrade for easily acquired points compared to hoping for a 25 man raid drop. He’s just had no luck getting a good 25 man caster weapon. These weapons will have much more spell power or weapon damage than a lower level weapon you can get from a heroic or lower tier of raid. The weapon I bought had 100 more spell power than the lower piece I was using, at the cost of 50 haste though, but 100 spell power greatly outweighs 50 haste. Unfortunately, the best of the best gear still requires arena rating and PVP skill to get. Go check it out for yourself and see if you have an upgrade waiting with honor points you might already have. It’s important to note that 264 wands are only 260 honor points and shields/off-hand gear are only 70 honor points. That’s a new shield for your tank, pally or shaman for basically one wintergrasp win.

Somewhat tangentially related to the previous topic is my death knight who is now frost dps and blood tanking spec. He needs to get one of the 264 weapons with honor as he only has the weapon from heroic Pit of Sauron which took 15-20 runs to get. I just wanted to mention, if you respecced to frost dps from unholy or particularly blood after 4.0.1 hit, be careful with your AoE damage. Howling blast can crit for 13k+ in my only somewhat decent gear and threatens to pull aggro often. A couple of heroics in and I’m finding this spec more fun than blood dps used to be, just lacking the self-healing while soloing content. Again, howling blast with caution.

Daily Thoughts: Holy Paladin 4.0.1 Continued

Well, another day of healing as a Holy Paladin and still Flash of Light is stronger than Holy Light and very expensive. Maybe I was half expecting my massive Holy Lights to be back – they weren’t.

Today I ran a couple of heroics and killed Ignis in Ulduar for the weekly quest. Definitely do not feel as powerful as I used to. Not to say that it was very hard to heal that content nor did anyone die. I suppose the shaman who pulled before the tank died but, don’t enhance shamans always die? I’m not sure that counts. No, it definitely doesn’t count. Regardless, it takes a lot more attention to make sure that people don’t die (shamans aside). Prior to 4.0.1, there was really no need to do anything other than hit Holy Light, especially with the Glyph of Holy light which added a splash heal to nearby players. Finally, I’m picking up on the idea that I have to use Holy Shock on cool down. Outside of HS, FL spam is still the way to go for most fights without huge incoming damage. This is making me want to go after more haste than I had before. Yes, haste was always a go to stat for Holy, but now that HL doesn’t hit like a bus, I need it to hit more often to even attempt a comparable throughput. I see reforging in my future.

Without the Illumination talent which gave mana return on crits, crit is even less valuable than it was. Spirit is still a decent stat as a high damage fight could tax our mana regen after the severe nerf to Divine Plea (10% mana down from 25% mana gained). Proper spell use, AKA Holy Light/Holy Shock, will help negate that mana regen nerf to make sure we can keep casting through out a long fight.  I’ll probably reforge a fair chunk of crit into haste so that my little HL’s can do the job still.

The other big factor in mana conservation is Word of Glory. Word of Glory is the Holy Power outlet for Holy. Unlike other HP outlets, Word of Glory scales linearly and each point of Holy Power is worth the same amount of healing. For example, 1 holy power might equal 2,000 healing, while 3 holy power will just equal 6,000 healing. This is an instant cast, mana free heal. Without huge cheap mana regen, free heals are a big deal. What about our other two new spells? Light of Dawn is alright for helping out with incoming AoE damage. If you have a Resto Shaman or Druid, you’re better of letting them do the raid healing. I still haven’t found much use for Divine Light – Paladin’s new big heal. Considering that Flash of Light ends up being a little more throughput and Holy Light is cheap, I just can’t find the right Niche for Divine Light.

One thing that is keeping Holy Paladins a contender for big tank healing is our Mastery – Illuminated Healing, which adds a 8% of the healing done as a bubble that lasts 6 seconds. If your tank is taking consistent damage the bubble will constantly being used, adding a lot of effective healing. The other nice part of Illuminated Healing, it is affected by Beacon of Light Heals. So all healing you do to the raid adds 50% of healing to the tank which constantly places that 8% bubble onto the tank. Keep in mind though, this bubble doesn’t stack, each new heal replaces it and resets the 6 second duration.

That’s all for tonight. I’m thinking about taking Holy into PVP tomorrow, though I might end up focusing on gearing my Fury warrior. As always, comments are welcome. Feel free to ask questions or give feedback/suggestions.

Holy Paladin Healing – ICC 4.0.1

Sorry for the short post tonight, but here goes:

I’m going to need a couple more rounds in ICC and some random dungeons before I can give my full opinion of Holy healing post 4.0.1. This new healing model seems a bit wonky to me. I’m really not used to Holy Light spam being so weak. HL is down to about 40% of the effectiveness compared to its previous incarnation. Flash of light, which used to be the small heal, is now a bigger heal than HL. It’s fast and expensive and can’t be spammed recklessly. Right now, Holy Power seems to be on the verge of useless since Holy Shock is still better overall than a 3 point word of glory. There’s also this relatively weak AOE heal ‘Light of Dawn’ that is on a 30 second CD and therefore can’t be used very often.

So what does a Holy Paladin use to heal? Everything! Holy Light is the go to heal for the most part because of its relative efficiency. You’ll also want to throw in Holy Shock almost on cool down because of its chance to provide a 1.5 second reduced cast time on HL as well as 30% reduced cast time of next heal if you talent into it. Use Light of Dawn for when the raid takes some AOE, naturally, and flash of light if someone is taking heavy damage. Honestly, I didn’t much use the new big heal, Divine Light. High incoming damage is better responded to with Flash of Light.

Other than that, use the normal spells as before 4.0.1. Judge to get a haste buff and Beacon the tank. Mana isn’t much of an issue still, stack int/haste and cast away. Healing Dreamwalker is still a blast. I have no idea what’s coming tomorrow, but I’ll see you next time!