With World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, only 3 days and 10 hours away (as of the time of this writing), I’m finding myself in a bit of a pickle – I’ve yet to choose a class and spec that I intend to play. For some, this choice may be simple. Perhaps you only have one character at the Cataclysm max level of 85, making it the most sensible choice to level. I’ve managed to get every class leveled to max which completely exacerbates my indecision. Should I stay on my Death Knight to keep dishing out the diseases and protecting my face with blood shields? Should I revert to my previous main and lay down some holy wrath or healing on my Paladin? Any other class is also an option, except my poor abandoned rogue. I don’t much care to pay for a server transfer to get him on the same server as my guild. Maybe I should make a list:
This is the third part of a series I’m doing on my fears of tanking Cataclysm heroics. If you haven’t been following along you can read the FIRST PART and SECOND PART now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. To quickly summarize for those too lazy to go back and read the past posts, I had expressed a general hesitation in jumping into tanking the relatively serious Cataclysm heroics, particularly with unsatisfactory gear. I finally decided on an acceptable gear level for tanking a heroic: An item level of 333 and at least 130k health. This coupled with at least the cheap versions of the spec appropriate gems and enchants should put me in a place for success – as long as I don’t suck!
For those who were worried that cataclysm wouldn’t be hard, my repair bill after the Omnitron encounter in Blackwing Descent would serve to lessen those fears. There are also, though, quite a few who are now worried that cataclysm is too hard. For those people, I’d like to refer Argaloth. He is the first boss in Baradin Hold, the new VoA like boss area in Tol Barad. He drops current tier pvp pieces along with, you guessed it, a couple pieces of PVE tier. I’m not entirely sure if he has a stronger bias towards PVP, as so far after 3 kills and 6 epics, my guild has only seen 1 tier piece. Even better, it was for a class not represented in that raid. Either way, we still have a way to get some epics without too much trouble. Argaloth does serve the function as acting as somewhat of a gear check. Think of it as the entrance examto cataclysm raiding. In 10m at least (and I’d guess 25m would be similar) each dps player must average 10k dps during the encounter to not hit his rage timer. This really isn’t hard with basic heroic/badge gear and some cheap gems/enchants.
Wowhead was nice enough to put up a little description as well as strategy for Argaloth. Check it out after the break.
The above chart was featured in a WoW insider Scattered Shots article, you can see the full article HERE.
Notice retribution at the very bottom of the raiding dps specs. Now, this doesn’t include the traditionally low raiding performance “pvp” specs such as subtlety rogues, but ret pallies are still easily 25% below the top performing dps spec and also lower than the next lowest by almost 1,000 dps. Naturally, I’d love to run around topping the meters, but balance at least is much preferred to the current state of affairs. Did we paladins despair though? Of course not! We knew at some point the useless mastery would be reforged into something we wanted, at least a little, and boost our dps. Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom (is always wisdom when they’re buffing your class right?), also buffed our bread and butter attack, Crusader Strike. Check out the paladin class changes.
- The mana costs of Blessing of Might and Blessing of Kings have been increased by approximately 217%, making them roughly equal to the cost of Mark of the Wild.
- Crusader Strike weapon damage percent has been increased to 135%, up from 115%.
- Divine Plea now lasts for 9 seconds, down from 15. It grants 4% mana per tick, instead of 2%, for a total of 12% mana, up from 10%.
- Divine Purpose: The chance for applicable abilities to generate Holy Power has been reduced to 7/15%, down from 20/40%, but instead of generating 1 Holy Power, the next applicable ability used consumes no Holy Power and acts as if the paladin has 3 Holy Power.
- Hand of Light (Mastery): A percentage of the damage done by Templar’s Verdict, Crusader Strike, and Divine Storm is done as additional Holy damage.
- Repentance is no longer broken from damage done by Censure (Seal of Truth).
- Glyph of Divine Plea now adds 6% mana, for a total of 18% over 9 seconds.
The two biggest changes we have here are the 20% more base damage to crusader strike and our mastery changing. Mastery is now a passive holy damage buff to key attacks and our old Divine Purpose talent has become the same as what Mastery was. Depending on what this percentage ends up being, we could see a very significant boost to damage. This mastery also gives blizzard an easy knob from which to tune our DPS if it’s ever too low or too high. Holy paladins are also probably a little excited about the slight buff to divine plea which provides an extra 2% mana (3% talented) over a shorter time span.
I’m really excited to see ret damage come up to par with our other dps pals and for the first time was considering copying my toon over to a test realm to see the changes first hand before they went live, alas, the page isn’t currently loading. Maybe there’s a bunch of other enthused paladins clogging up the internet.
The rest of the 4.0.6 patch notes can be viewed HERE.
I’ve spent a lot of posts recently talking about zones (and yes I’m still going to do that Twilight Highlands review at some point), factions, and other such things and not much time on the actual playing my class. The big changes specifically to Paladins in cataclysm (if you don’t count Holy Power from 4.0.3) are the new spells:
Inquisition is our new self buff. It increases all holy damage by 30%. Retribution gets a talent that extends the duration of this buff to 10 seconds per Holy Power used to trigger it. This is meant to be kept up as much as possible similar to Slice and Dice for combat rogues and is a pretty significant DPS loss if not used.. Holy Radiance is pretty much making us a moving healing stream totem, and does an AOE heal to nearby targets. I haven’t got much play testing with this spell, as I’m running ret main now, but I really haven’t heard anything too exciting about from those doing Holy main spec. Finally, Guardian of Ancient Kings is amazing. This buff has a long (5m) cooldown, but skyrockets a ret paladins DPS when used. From what I hear from the other specs, it seems it’s a better friend to ret than the other uses. Each spec gets a specific purpose, one for taking, extra heals for holy and more damage for ret. Follow me after the break for some more…
I have to open with this: By the time I finish writing this post, I should have Wrathful Gladiator’s Decapitator . This will not be acquired through any particular PVP skill on the warrior, but through grinding of BG’s, WG, and random heroics. It costs 2550 honor and is the best a warrior can get outside of drops from ICC. Even with resilience wasting a stat for a PVE player, the damage on the weapon and pure attack power (324 AP) is nothing to scoff at. Keep in mind this is the item level 264 version and the 277 version is still only obtainable with rating. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that last bit, but I don’t have enough honor points on any toon to attempt to buy the 277 version now.
It’s good to be able to say that Fury Warriors can still do great competitive DPS even with the rage normalization and loss of ArP.
Ruby Sanctum: Halion
Halion is not a friendly fight for a Warriors meters, especially when asked to switch to the physical realm and the twilight realm during the last phase. Fortunately, it is otherwise a pretty easy fight for melee dps. In the first phase, and if you are topside during the third phase, it is a standard dragon tank-n-spank with some fire to not stand in. In the second phase, and if you are in the twilight realm during the third phase, it’s also a standard dragon fight with purple fire to not stand in. Melee gets it easy inside the twilight phase because when the orbs connect their frickin’ laser beam, we can keep dpsing at basically full strength as we move to the side to not be cleft in twain. Also, the trash can be a little bit fun leading up to Halion.
Fury DPS in ICC is pretty much just bloody buckets of fun. With 10k dps on Marrowgar and 12k on Saurfang, I’m able to do very satisfying damage. Keep in mind, I’m not decked out in 25m gear on my warrior. As of this raid he was only using a 251/219 weapon set. Without a ranged slow or easy stun, Fury doesn’t really end up having a “job” during any of the fights in ICC. Interrupt Deathwhisper, deal with the correct adds on Putri, Valinthria, and LK (all same as any dps class really) and do mindless, raging dps. It’s a nice change coming from heals as a main spec. For me, doing dps in a raid is a lot more relaxing than heals for most content. Admittedly, with how ez-mode much of WotLK content is, healing can end up requiring less attention than dps. As for all the hardmodes that we’ve attempted so far, only Putricide has proven difficult. I think we had 4 wipes on him during our first round of attempts. Outside of him, we’ve cleared all bosses in HM except Princes, Sindra, and the big LK. Princes shouldn’t be too much trouble when we get around to them, but so far we haven’t done any attempts.
Today is a good day to be fury, though the future does hold a great many uncertainties. Can we hold back cleave spam on trash in order to not break CC and get our faces smashed in cata instances? Will blizzard nerf us into the ground while they laugh on the yachts? Is that guy named justinbieberz in trade chat really Justin Bieber? The last one easily scares me the most. Only time will tell. For now, keep careless smashing your face into things Fury Warriors, it’s why GC gave you big pointy helmets.
I was going to write a little about healing on the new resto shaman, but I didn’t really play the resto shaman any today. Well, I did one wintergrasp, but it doesn’t really count towards getting a grasp on my class and spec. I have a different topic in mind, inspired by a post made by a guild member that you can find the link Corath’s Blog – Melee State of Mind. I started to wonder, since it’s been a few years now, why a Paladin?
My very first Warcraft toon was actually a warrior, who since has become my 6th and most recent level 80. I played him to about level 26 back in the middle of Burning Crusade and quickly lost interest. Despite the heavy armor, I took a lot of damage and had to stop and eat often or waste gold on potions. I don’t much like stopping or wasting gold so I moved on to a class that felt like everything my warrior was – with heals. I tend to play plate-wearing burly monstrosities of power when I can in a game. Now I had a character that could not only wield a great 2 handed weapon, he wore heavy armor, hit really hard, and could keep himself alive. Perfect. This Paladin became my first max level character shortly after Wrath launched. I played him almost exclusively for a nearly a year, dabbling only occasionally in alts.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.