Archive | April, 2010

The Death of the 25-Man?

A new blue post confirms Blizz’s direction for raiding in Cataclysm, and boy is it going to change a few things:

We’re continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

The first of the refinements being made is that we’re combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn’t apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.

So they’re going to make us choose between 10 and 25? Well, that should be easy; 25m’s give better loot… right?

We’re designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we’ll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They’ll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Oh… so, if both versions drop the same items, then why the hell would anyone put up with the headache of trying to herd 24 other cats through fights, let alone roll against them for the exact same gear as you could get in 10m’s without as much competition or frustration?

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

Even having the bosses drop more loot doesn’t change the fact that, per individual, you’re better off in 10m’s. I highly doubt they’d have a boss drop two or more of the same item, nor have loot tables so large that you’re not likely to see that item within the next week or two.

Also, if you have a solid 25-man raiding core, that means you have, what, 5-7 healers, 3-4 tanks, and loads of DPS… between offspecs and back-ups, I don’t think anyone would be hard-pressed to turn a 25-man raiding core into 3 solid 10-man groups, reducing hassle and loot drama, and maximizing both progression and gearing.

I’ll admit, I’ve liked 10m’s more than 25m’s for quite a while, and this announcement has only strengthened by convictions. I guess we’ll have to wait and see the specifics before we jump to any bold conclusions, but I think they’re going down the wrong path here.

Dual Kingslayers

We finally did it. After 2 weeks of attempts, the bigger, badder, non-heroic 25m (Lich) King is dead!

We 24 and 23-manned several attempts, and let me tell you, DPS was not a problem. The 10% buff gives you so much leeway that I can’t even imagine the final iteration of the buff (30%?). If there was one thing that kept tripping us up, it was:

DEFILES!

Their proper placement and size control was a constant struggle. The tanks used the directions of “left” and “right,” which got confusing when we changed positions on the platform:

Raider: “Is ‘left’ to the left of the Throne or to the left of where we’re facing?”
Raid Leader: “…”

I told them to use polar coordinates, but noooo…

And if it wasn’t defiles, it was:

RAGING SPIRITS!

It took a while for our tanks to get used to the instant spawns and seemingly-random aggro pulling of these stupid mobs. One spawned from a death knight near me and, without a consecrate down or nothin’, it turned, hit me, and I died.

So, if you’re having trouble, I’m guessing that cracking down on these two points will help you immensely.

Generic Cataclysm Paladin Changes Post #476

I apologize for my absence from the blogosphere lately; many sleepless nights and prognostications about an uncertain future… let’s just say crunch time sucks.

Anyway, our class preview is finally out! Yippee! Sorry holy paladins, but I’m only going to be covering Protection and Retribution relevant changes.

Blinding Shield (level 81): Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure’s ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield.

Hmm, an AoE silence/CC? Does this hint at a return of skillful CC in dungeons and raids? Intriguing…

Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears). 

This seems to be the big doozy. The Prot version gives tanks another defensive cooldown, while the Ret version is another thing to pop during BL. While I like the idea of keeping my spellbook as abbreviated as possible, I’m saddened that I wouldn’t be able to pop the Ret version when I’m tanking for some extra threat. But hey, paladins can’t be choosers.

Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1. We think the paladin leveling experience is hurt by not having an instant attack. Retribution will be getting a new talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely.

I completely agree with this change. The short cooldown on CS will ensure that you’ll have enough buttons to push to prevent rapid aging and premature death.

“[N]ew talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely,” = CS healing debuff? Hrmmm…

Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.

Blizzard Entertainment: stupid-proofing your gaming experience since ’91.

We want to ease off the defensive capabilities of Retribution and Holy paladins slightly. We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back, especially in Arenas. One change we’re considering is lowering Divine Shield’s duration by a couple of seconds. Having said that, Retribution does pretty well in Battlegrounds, and Battlegrounds will be a much bigger focus in Cataclysm since they can provide the best PvP rewards. Furthermore, the healing environment of Cataclysm is going to be different such that a paladin may not be able to fully heal themselves during the duration of Divine Shield to begin with, so this may not be a problem.

I’m confused by this statement. Ret’s amazing defensive capabilities are… holding it back? I don’t Arena much anymore, but I don’t think it’s our defensive cooldowns that are hindering our ratings, but lack of snares, interrupts, and healing debuffs. But hey, I could be wrong.

We feel Retribution paladins need one more mechanic which involves some risk of the player pushing the wrong button, making the rotation a bit less forgiving. In addition, we want to add to this spec more PvP utility. Right now the successes of the Retribution paladin in PvP seem to be reduced to either doing decent burst damage, or just being good at staying alive.

You know how I said Blizz is stupid-proofing things? I take it back, slightly. In other words: this, this, a THOUSAND TIMES THIS!!! While Ret’s FCFS rotation isn’t the easiest, it isn’t incredibly difficult. Requiring more skill to truly excel at Retribution is a challenge to all Ret paladins, one that I’m more than willing to accept.

Protection paladins need a different rotation between single-target and multi-target tanking. Likewise, we’re looking to add the necessity to use an additional cooldown in each rotation.

Meh, I sort of agree with this assessment. Blowing a Consecration on one mob, as part of our 969 rotation, is a ridiculous mana drain. Again, more complicated = more skill. I loves me a challenge.

Holy Shield will no longer have charges. It will be designed to improve block chance while active, and will continue to provide a small amount of damage and threat.

Good, no more premature drop on masses of trash mobs or a quickly-striking boss.

Well, that’s it from me. All said, I’m looking forward to the next 5 levels, as well as how this all works out in the endgame.

OMG! Watch out for the Shock Vortex, Empowered Flame, Shadow Prison, Twilight Fans…

I sincerely hate Blood Council on H-10m.

You may ask me, “Hey Lysogen/Antigen/whatever the hell you wanna call yourself, how can you hate something that exists as a bunch of 1′s and 0′s?” Well, kind sir or madam, it’s quite simple. It kills your character over… and over.. and over… for a total of 4 hours spread over two nights.

It was funny, I went for a walk to the gas station after we called the raid, and on the way back I was thinking, “you know, that fight is actually kinda cool,” but then I got back here and sat down and thought, “I HATE SHOCK VORTEX!!”

You know what made the last attempt of the night not so butt-hurting?

Pygmy raid.

By the way, Rhidach inspired me to change up my UI (my old UI was kinda… meh), so take a gander. I did the same Recount/Omen stacking that he did, and just made some long-awaited changes. Let me know what you think!

In Which Priests are not Paladins

I’m glad that April Fool’s Day is over. Sure, a few pranks are fine (especially when you can watch them on YouTube), but I really think WoW Insider took it overboard and drowned with it. And since I spend my days at work reading blog posts (with about 80% of posts daily from my feed being from WoW.com), I was quite upset.

Well, it was the day after and, scrolling through their posts I found an article on Retribution talents, gearing, rotation, etc. So, being the inquisitive and self-improving ret that I am, I took a gander.

To be fair, their normal paladin columnist was unavailable, so they had a priest columnist fill in.

But to be unfair, the columnist should never pick up a mace if he’s going to actually walk into Icecrown with it and hit things. On the topic of talent builds, he said,

If you want access to Divine Sacrifice then you’d go 5/11/55 with those six points all in protection… I opted to go for the Divine Sacrifice build. It just seems to be something that I’ll make a habit of using fairly often in raids. I’m extremely jumpy about defensive cooldowns.

What?!

Let’s think about this: let’s say a raiding retribution paladin has 25,000 health (some have more, some have less, this is just a nice round number to work with). With that build, the paladin can absorb as much as 50,000 damage (40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members = 10,000 x 5).

Note: Divine Shield no longer negates the incoming damage from Divine Sacrifice according to Elitist Jerks. Also, as the only foreseeable way to make this talent viable (Divine Guardian) is inaccessible to us, this analysis is assuming not taking Divine Guardian.

Did nobody tell Jimmy that bubble doesn’t work anymore? Now he can’t use wings for 30 seconds…

Ok, that’s a decent chunk of change, but let’s examine this realistically: say you’re the ret paladin with the DivSac build in a 10m raid. You walk into a boss fight and DPS your little heart out until the raid leader says “DivSac, paladin!”

In order to be used as a tank cooldown, you must be in the group with the tanks. Duh, right? Ok, but in a 10m setting, there are two tanks and two other people in that group. Splash and AoE damage is all-too-common nowadays, so odds are you’ll be soaking up some of your groupmates’ AoE damage as well as tank damage. Since you have a set amount of damage you can absorb, the AoE damage your groupmates are receiving will take up a decent amount of that preset 50k damage and the effectiveness of that cooldown on the tank is basically naught.

Not only that, but in order to be COMPLETELY effective (i.e. soaking up the entirety of that 50k damage as tank damage), with no AoE damage whatsoever, the tank would have to take a hit of 166,666.66 (repeating) damage, which would be reduced by your Divine Sacrifice to 116,666.66.

To put this damage in perspective, let’s compare that with our parse from our 10m Lich King kill. I’m using this because it’s readily available and LK hits like a mofo. For instance, his melee swings hit me for an average of 12,726 damage each. However, I must take this number and factor in my armor’s damage reduction:

Since my armor is sitting at 30,796, I have a total of 66.91% damage reduction, meaning that 12k hit I took was merely 33.09% of the original hit, which calculates to be 38,459 damage (rounding up from here on out).

(I can ignore dodge, parry, and block for this analysis since I’m looking at numbers from hits that I actually took.)

Let’s do the same thing with that previous number. Say I was tanking the boss fight and a ret paladin popped DivSac in that “idealest of ideal” of situations. For me to take 166,667 damage pre-DivSac, the boss would have to had hit me for 503,678 damage. I’m not sure this is even possible for melee hits. Perhaps this could be spread out in a few hits over a period of time, but can’t be longer than 10 seconds.

(Assuming perfect timing and a boss swing timer of 1 second, the 116,667 damage after DivSac would translate into 11,667 damage per second. Wow.)

Well, let’s imagine we had a ret paladin popping DivSac during one of the Lich King’s melee hits (not that it’s a good idea ever, but just for the sake of argument). I took a 12k hit, so that means the paladin would absorb roughly 3.6k in damage. With tank health pools exceeding 60,000, and healers’ spell power only going up, 3.6k is quite sad in terms of mitigation (ex: our resto druid’s Rejuvenation was healing for an average of 3,246 per tick, according to the aforementioned parse).

In short: in order for DivSac to have any sort of usefulness as a tank cooldown (at least when untalented, as is the case in the linked build), the tank would have to take ridiculous amounts of damage with no AoE or other damage occurring to other members of the ret paladin’s party.

“Ok,” you may say, “that’s kinda ridiculous. DivSac’s true purpose is in mitigating AoE damage.”

Let’s look at that too, although this time I don’t have specific examples (too lazy to dredge through our old parses and look for some good AoE numbers). Say that you, the ret paladin, are placed in a party with clothies and leather-wearers who have next to no means to mitigate AoE damage. Truly, this is the ideal situation for DivSac to “shine,” right? Well, you’re gleefully chipping away at Sindragosa when suddenly you’re pulled in and she starts casting Blistering Cold. You all have your heads up your respective asses and don’t run out. You pop DivSac and see what happens.

Every single party member gets hit for 30k. Your Divine Sacrifice can only absorb 50k, so ideally, it mitigates 10k per person. However, each person would still get hit with 20k damage. For most clothies and leather-wearers, this many people getting hit for a massive amount of their total health is unhealable.

(Please, please, please inform me if I am incorrect in assuming you get hit for the full 30,000 damage barring any Frost resistance and/or the tiny amount of armor clothies and leather-wearers have.)

All of this is assuming your healers are on top of their game and spam healing you so you don’t trigger the 20% lower boundary. The millisecond you dip below 20% health, DivSac will cancel.

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So let’s see: with a 5/11/55 build (you could go 5/5 in Divinity if your tank sucks and you get hit a lot), you get a halfway-effective AoE damage-mitigation CD for your party only, whereas with a 11/5/55 build you get a 6 second period of double resistance to a certain school of magic for the entire raid (the most ideal use of AM), making it amazing for fights like Sindragosa and Blood Council (think when it jumps to Taladram and he casts a fireball). Just not worth it at all, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Edit: I’ve realized that I put most of the work (read: math) in this post to the part that doesn’t really matter (using DivSac as a tank cooldown). This is the “damnit, I’m thinking about it wrong” aspect I mentioned in a previous post.

Why Second Guessing Yourself is Almost Always a Bad Thing

I wrote this huge post on Friday on why a Divine Sacrifice build as a raiding Retribution paladin is nonviable as all hell, including logic and reasoning and maths…

Then I second-guessed my reasoning, went through everything a billion times… and 5:00 came and I left work. As such, it’s still sitting in my post list (along with a “Using that Mace” for Rotface and Festergut and an “Avenger’s Shield” for heroic Storming the Citadel).

So, if it’s worth anything after I go over it again, I’ll stick it up here for your reading enjoyment. I just want to make sure that the crap I’m spewing is accurate.

Har Har, Blizzard

Thanks to Ori at I Like Bubbles for the heads-up on this. Not only will your character appear as a walrus today, but your achievements will be mocked and belittled by Blizzard (look at the arrows)! I don’t ‘cheese’ encounters, nor do I ninja PvP bracers, THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE WHO WANTED THEM, WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME BLIZZARD!!!