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!

4.0.1 – Part 2!

As promised, I’ve come with a little information about subtlety rogues in pvp in WoW patch 4.0.1. One word – superfunawesomelolcoolshadowstep. This will be a little more geared towards people wanting to start a new rogue or are considering PVP while leveling. I don’t claim to be a rogue expert, for that I’d suggest checking out Elitist Jerks. Sub spec for rogues in PVP currently is so much fun in fact, that I’m considering making it my main pvp character over my long-standing main, the Ret Paladin.

Ganked – With decent gear I’m running around (well, by running I mean sprinting, and by sprinting I mean sprinting while in stealth with sub’s increased run speed in stealth) one shotting poor under geared folks and 2-3 shotting most anyone if I can land a couple good Ambush/Backstab crits. For those who are unfamiliar with rogue skills, shadow step teleports you a decent distance directly behind your target at which point, if you’re stealthed (and you better be) you can open up with an ambush for high damage or cheap shot for a decent stun. Follow this up with backstab spamming and they’re probably dead. At 5 combo points you can eviscerate and if they aren’t dead even still, you’re probably playing wow drunk and you’re actually attempting to kill a rock.

Vanish – A key factor in my 25 kill to 0 death AV tonight at level 69 is the new mechanic to vanish. As of 4.0.1 when a rogue uses vanish, it now has 3 second guaranteed stealth time that cannot be broken by damage or other annoying things, this was not the case in the past and everything AOE or otherwise would make you exit stealth. And did I mention you gain a 3 second sprint after using shadowstep. You can just taste the talent synergy. Vanish and the sprint component helps an aspiring rogue get out of tight spots after trying to make short work of an enemy [see Gank].

I’m pretty excited about seeing my rogue to 80 and eventually to 85 when rated battle grounds become the next big thing in PVP. I will most certainly keep you updated. As a quick comparison between sub and combat in PVP, the few times I forgot to change specs before accepting the battleground queue, I didn’t manage more than 4 killing blows in combat spec, everyone could see me without my improved stealth, and other rogues laughed at me while tea bagging my corpse. It was unpleasant.

Glyphs, gems, and the auction house.

Although it’s a little late for this information to help anyone, I wanted to talk a little about the money I’ve made on the AH since patch. Keep in mind, with auctioneer broken, I find myself far too lazy and frustrated using the default auction house interface so I’m only using the remote auction house which has a 200 per day transaction limit. A few months back I bought a ton of herbs to either mill for inscriptions or use for potions/flasks as I leveled alchemy on an alt. 2-3k herbs all in total, I’d guess. The night before 4.0.1, I milled the majority of my herbs into pigments for inscriptions and made somewhere in the range of 500-600 glyphs. 2 days into the selling of the glyphs and a few gems I made (will get into the gems in a moment), I’m up 200% profit with at most half of my glyphs sold. If you don’t have a good stock of glyphs made before 4.0.1 when 1 ink could make a glyph, spend some time farming the herbs which seem to be selling 2x their normal value now.

As for gem sales, epic gem costs are up 50% on both servers where my toons live. With the demand so high, an alchemist should be using every transmute cool down to make an epic gem to sell. I’m working on that now. I’ll let you know how it works it all works out. Tomorrow I should have some updates for Holy or Ret Paladins in ICC 10m.

4.0.1 – A New Beginning

After my first full day to dive into the latest massive content patch of World of Warcraft, I must admit, I’m finding myself a bit underwhelmed. Admittedly, a fair portion of my general disposition to the patch is a result of the abundance of glitches, bugs, and other (hopefully) soon to be fixed issues.

My main toon, a Ret/Holy Paladin is lagging so bad I can’t get a legitimate test of his new skills and damage capabilities. On the other hand, the 7 frames per second cannot be the only culprit in dropping 70% of my damage. My ungodly lag seems to be character based, as without any different addons, my Paladin on the Thrall server and my Warrior on Vek’Nilash both lag horribly, yet my Druid and Shaman on Vek both play just fine. Of my 6 level 80 toons, my opinions of how the patch affected each is as follows:

Paladin:

Significant damage and minor overall healing nerf. Holy’s new abilities and talents look fun, while so far, Retribution’s talents and new abilities feel more clunky – possibly just from the lag though. Not impressed.

Death Knight:

It’s pretty hard for me to judge my Death Knight’s new talent trees and such because of the massive change. I was blood spec dps and frost spec tank, now I’m unable to play either since blood is tanking only and frost can no longer tank. Purely from a dummy test, 2-handed frost pretty fun and probably similar dps to what I could produce as blood. Probably alright.

Warrior:

The only spec I’ve played my warrior is fury. Fury has taken a decent damage nerf that I anticipate seeing fixed either soon or at cataclysm launch. The new abilities and procs are a little more engaging though. I’m looking forward to seeing him perform better. One of my good friends has gotten a chance to play test Arms spec and the dps is competitive now, which is nice for warriors to have another PVE option. A little excited.

Druid:

Balance druids hit HARD. All-in-all, I’d guess a 15-20% damage increase from what I was previously doing. The new eclipse system is a little easier to understand and plan out which could possibly make it more useful while questing or in dungeons. Feral cat damage plummeted comparatively and feral bear form lost armor. Although I haven’t tried tanking on bear yet, I’m hearing good things. Suspicious.

Shaman:

I must confess, I don’t like my enhancement shaman much. It doesn’t feel like it changed much from before 4.0.1, so if you liked the way they played, you’ll probably still enjoy them. As for me, I see myself switching to Elemental or Resto pretty soon. Damage output has stayed about the same as far as I can tell. Unenthusiastic.

Hunter:

I’m pretty nervous about taking my hunter into an instance. The new focus system isn’t as rogue-ish feeling as I had worried it might be but, it’s going to take a lot of getting used to. Damage looks good and many of the new abilities, such as the new call pet/stable, seem like pretty good quality of life buffs. Hopeful.

Well, that’s my 15 minutes for today. Tomorrow my alliance rogue will hit 70 and I’ll talk a little about PVP on him and how I’m making a killing on selling glyphs.


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