Archive | January, 2011

Facerolling 212: Blackwing Descent, Section 1

Since Wrath was Facerolling 101, the release of Cataclysm means you are now enrolled in the two-hundred level course of Ret DPS in a raid setting. I assume you all have a copy of Inquisition: Friend or Foe?, The Crusader Strike Manifesto, and The Art of War, Exorcism Edition.

In this class, we will cover three encounters in Blackwing Descent, highlighting a few tips and tricks that should keep you alive, kicking and screaming.

MAGMAW

Quite boring for a melee class, this encounter is very ranged-centric. I wouldn’t recommend trying to help with Lava Parasites; Divine Storm requires melee range, Consecration is weak and expensive, and Holy Wrath becomes worse the more targets it hits. The risk of becoming infected outweighs any contribution you could make here, so just sit tight and let the ranged do their job.

Your time to shine will come right after an Ignition cast, when Magmaw drops his head to the ground. This will reveal his… neck, sorta… allowing you to jump on and wrastle with the worm, just like that holy cowboy you’ve always dreamed of being.

When he rears his head back up, use your vehicle UI and throw your chain at the spike, coordinating with the other 1 or 2 melee (depending on raid size) to throw them out at about the same time. If performed successfully, you’ll get thrown to the ground and Magmaw’s head will come crashing down and become impaled on the conveniently-placed spike.

Once his head is impaled, you have 30 seconds to hit the gas, pop CDs (preferably Guardian/AW, but you’ll have to alternate throughout the fight), and burn him while your healers regen some mana.

Rinse and repeat and you’ll see a kill.

OMNOTRON DEFENSE SYSTEM

You know that shiny new interrupt you got called Rebuke? Have it keybound? Well, prepare to wear the letter off that key in this encounter.

Before I psych you out completely, this fight has four different ‘bosses.’ Let me give a quick summary of each.

Each construct casts a shield at 50% energy, at which point DPS should be removed and switched to the newly-activated construct. A special exception applies to Arcanotron, discussed below.

Magmatron

Does an AoE fire spell called Incineration Security Measure. This is an ideal time to use Holy Radiance and/or Divine Protection.

Also targets a random person and casts Acquiring Target. Once the cast is complete, he will cast Flamethrower, which will hurt the target and anyone else caught in the beam. If you’re targeted, try to isolate yourself from the raid and pop a survival CD. If you can’t get away, make sure people move away from you.

Toxitron

Throws a Chemical Bomb at someone, spawning a big poison cloud at their feet. Your tanks may want to put the constructs in this cloud, as any target within the cloud takes 100% additional damage, so just watch your footing.

Summons adds via Poison Protocol. When Toxitron starts channeling this cast, get out of melee range temporarily. If one of these adds reaches its target it’ll blow up, killing you and anyone else in range. If you’re targeted, kite it and let the ranged kill it. If you’re not targeted, jump back in the fray.

Electron

Targets a random raid member and debuffs them with Lightning Conductor. If you’re affected, run out of whatever group you’re in and let it fall off.

Periodically casts Electrical Discharge, a chain lightning-type attack. Not much you can do to avoid this, so use a self-heal or two if you really have to.

Arcanotron

Creates “happy puddles,” as we named them, called Power Generators. These void zones increase damage output by 50% by anyone or anything (including the constructs) within their radius. Try to stand in these, but don’t sweat it if you can’t; they’re mostly for ranged anyway. If you see a puddle under the construct, have your tank move it immediately.

Casts Arcane Annihilator on a random raid member. This ability hurts, but is totally interruptible. If you’re one of the only classes with an off-GCD interrupt in your raid, this will be your main focus.

In our raids, when Arcanotron activates, the tank grabs the first interrupt as our “interrupt team” is running over. We set up rotations, communicating with simple “I got this” or “I don’t got this” phrases. Two interrupters is fine, but it’s a good idea to keep a third in reserve in case an interrupter gets targeted by an add or somehow dies.

After his shield goes up, everyone switches targets except the interrupt team. Stop meleeing and just watch his cast bar. Have mages, shamans, and priests get rid of his stacks of Converted Power at this point, as they will decrease his cast time significantly and make those Arcane Annihilators extremely tricky to get.

His shield will drop after 10 seconds, so start your DPS back up when this occurs, continuing to stay on top of interrupts. When Arcanotron casts Shutting Down, you may finally switch to the next construct.

Keeping those casts from going off is crucial to controlling raid damage, and if you successfully lock him down, all while dancing with the other constructs, you should see these deactivate in short order.

CHIMAERON

Where Magmaw was very ranged-centric, Chimaeron is very healer-centric. This is quite the tough encounter for them, so go easy on your healing friends.

For melee… it’s quite the bore. You can pre-position around the boss without engaging him, so get set up so you’re 6 yards away from anyone else and, preferably, still behind the boss.

Up until Chimaeron casts Feud…. sit there. Seriously, stay in that one spot and don’t even think about moving. Just tunnel-vision concentrate on your DPS and wait for Feud.

Before the pull, someone will activate the parading robot, giving you the buff Finkle’s Mixture, preventing you from dying if you have more than 10k health when you get hit with an attack. If you notice that healers are struggling, swallow your pride (what’s left of it, anyway) and cast Word of Glory on yourself to get just above 10k. Don’t use Holy Radiance yet.

Throughout the encounter, Chimaeron will cast Caustic Slime on a random person, hitting like a truck and reducing your chance to hit by 75%. Seventy-five frakking percent. This slime has a 6 yard range, so… oh hey, we spread out by 6 yards before the pull, so it’s not going to hit anyone else! Yay!

When Chimaeron does Feud, stack on a specified person (probably a stationary healer) and hit Holy Radiance to help out. Otherwise, DPS the boss. Granted, during Feud you’ll be constantly getting hit by the slime, meaning your Hit is going to go down the tubes, but you have just about nothing else to do during this time.

Rinse and repeat until 20%, when you stop playing for marbles and you start playing for keeps.

At 20% Chimaeron will “enrage,” gaining the Mortality buff. It’s important to note that the enrage effect and increased damage taken isn’t all that Mortality does (hint: mouseover both Mortality’s). Because of this healing debuff, it’s a good idea to toss a Lay on Hands on a tank*, as they often have cooldowns to blow through and hold Chimaeron for a little while sub-20%.

Chimaeron will go around and hit things on his aggro list one at a time in descending order. Therefore, if you’re high on threat, be prepared early. Kite him as far as you can and use Divine Shield to drop aggro right before you get gibbed.

*After patch 4.0.6 goes live, Lay on Hands will again cause Forbearance, so rethink this strategy if you have a prot or holy paladin wanting to use other Forbearance-inducing cooldowns.

With pro kiting and cooldown usage, Chimaeron should drop dead.

That’s all for now. Up next: Maloriak and Atramedes!

PTR 4.0.6: Ret Roundup

For me, this past weekend was all about testing.

Rhidach sent me an e-mail at the end of last week, seeing if I knew anything about Seal of Truth, its procs, and how the talent Seals of the Pure interacted with it. Fearing for my raid spot, I hopped on the live servers and did some dummy testing, writing a lengthy explanation of what I did and what I observed.

When Rhi read it, he suggested I make it into a blog post. However, me being the lazy individual that I am, I told Rhi that I didn’t really feel like it… but he certainly did. It’s a good read, if I do say so myself. And I do say so.

With that out of the way, I was free to jump on the PTR and do some more testing. I set out with these goals in mind:

  • Hit a heroic dummy with my rotation for 5 minutes, establishing a solid DPS baseline.
  • Reforge my highest secondary stats to Mastery, then repeat.
  • Verify new SoT-proccing abilities.

But just for kicks, let’s look at some quick changes.

Note: As the new stat conversion of our Mastery is 2.1% per point, rather than the 2.5% I saw on the PTR, these analyses aren’t intended to be conclusive in that regard, but merely serve as a ‘sneak preview’ at the functionality of our new Mastery, observing what possible effect Reforging can have in affecting DPS.

Seal of Truth and Censure

As of this moment, in the PTR I saw the following apply a stack of Censure to the target and/or proc SoT:

  • Crusader Strike
  • Melee
  • Templar’s Verdict*
  • Judgement
  • Hammer of Wrath
  • Exorcism

I used ‘and/or’ because you cannot proc Seal of Truth unless the target has at least one stack of Censure.

*I saw TV proccing SoT on live servers when there was already at least one stack of Censure on the target, the details of which can be found in the Righteous Defense article I linked previously.

Divine Storm

Divine Storm got buffed from 80% weapon damage to 100% weapon damage, essentially raising it up alongside the Crusader Strike buff. I didn’t even touch my DS button, though, so I really have nothing to add. I hate how they neutered Divine Storm and loathe using it in AoE situations, though I still do.

Divine Purpose

The lovechild of the ‘old versions’ of Divine Purpose and Hand of Light. While this is most certainly a nerf, as those extra couple HPs made our HP generation insane, if not a little unpredictable, the change definitely makes our rotation a little more concrete.

As you can see, it uses the same graphic as the old Hand of Light, and behaves in a very similar way, so there’s not another learning curve here.

Rebuke and Sacred Shield

Our precious is being made available to all flavors of paladins. Let me tell you, this is a very welcome change for Prot. Having two on-GCD interrupts while you’re tanking something you need to interrupt SUCKS.

Before you ask, yes, I had a tauren paladin. I decided to go with a pre-made to both see 4pT11 and to make things fairly reproducible if someone wanted to compare results.

I didn’t enjoy it, but that was the most basic pre-made paladin on the PTR, as humans, dwarves, and draenei all have hit or expertise racials that I didn’t want interfering with my gearing. And there was no pre-made blood elf paladin.

Anyway, since Rebuke is being removed as a Ret-specific talent, here is our “filler” talent: Sacred Shield.

We’ll be taking this for both PvP and PvE builds, I imagine. The only real contender for that single point is to go 1/2 in Acts of Sacrifice, making your Cleanse able to remove movement-impairing effects on yourself. I default to hitting Hand of Freedom when I’m snared anyway, so I’ll be putting my point into SS.

Hammer of Wrath – Bugged?

I had heard reports of Hammer of Wrath hitting like a wet noodle on the PTR, but I just had to try it out for myself…

Yes, that is a crit, and yes, that is during Avenging Wrath. If this is an intended change, I doubt we’ll even be using Hammer of Wrath during Avenging Wrath and probably very sparsely under 20%. Let’s just hope it’s a bug.

Hand of Light

The value on the PTR is higher than in the latest patch notes (each point of Mastery is supposed to increase damage by an additional 2.1%).  Nonetheless I wanted to see how it behaved, so I took to a target dummy.

Leaving my gear unenchanted and ungemmed, I used a 7/2/32 build, with the included glyphs active.

For my rotation, I followed the general Inq > Exo > HoW > 3-HP TV > CS > Judge > HW > Consecration, utilizing the four-piece Tier 11 bonus to get a 40-second duration on Inquisition at 3 HP, refreshing at 6 seconds remaining and lower.

There is some talk, with the 4p bonus, about refreshing Inq with only 1 or 2 HP, since the spell itself procs Divine Purpose (in fact, there’s a great write-up on this subject over at The Suicidal Zebra). However, I haven’t started doing this (as I don’t have four-piece yet), and am secretly hoping they remove Inquisition from Divine Purpose to eliminate this behavior. It seems really gimmicky and overly-complex to me.

PRE-REFORGING

A screenshot of my poor tauren paladin’s stats prior to reforging. Seal of Truth and Blessing of Kings were active at the time, as you can see from the metric ass-ton of Expertise he is sporting.

About 5 minutes on a target dummy produced this parse. Notice our Mastery, Hand of Light, registers as its own ability in World of Logs. Also interesting was the fact that it never crit (this is probably intentional, but I just found it interesting).

Anyway, I ended up getting 11,023.4 effective DPS out of that trial.

POST-REFORGING

A screenshot of my stats post-reforging. Note that this is without Seal of Truth. I wasn’t able to squeeze as much Mastery out of my gear via reforging as I thought I would.

Nonetheless, I took to a dummy again for a little over 5 minutes and produced this parse. That test produced 11,493.8 effective DPS.

CONCLUSIONS

With this data essentially being outdated, as the 2.5% per point of Mastery conversion isn’t making it to live, not many hard conclusions can be made from this data. However, I’ll include some observations in summary, instead.

Interestingly, with that modest 2.67 point increase in Mastery (6.675% on that build of the PTR at the time), Hand of Light went from 11.7% of my damage to 14.1%. Unsurprising is the fact that the average damage from Hand of Light increased after reforging, something we should definitely see.

While I can’t remark on the 400 DPS difference between the two trials, as I didn’t run replicate trials to establish an average and all that, it is interesting to see that Crusader Strike now comprises the majority of our damage. Seeing as it is our most-used ability (aside from simple autoattacks), this seems fitting, though I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw more patch notes lowering the coefficient to somewhere between the live and PTR iterations of the spell.

Overall, I’m looking forward to a faster-stacking Censure, a little more survivability thanks to Sacred Shield, and a more useful Mastery!

Patch 4.0.6 for Retribution

I was going to wait until I did some testing on the PTR to post about 4.0.6, but I figure I should get some of these proposed changes out there first.

Besides, patch notes only ripen with age, so you’re welcome.

Let’s hit the big changes first, shall we?

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.

Huge, HUGE! Our current Mastery leaves much to be desired in its implementation; this proposed change shows promise. From the few people I’ve talked to about this new Mastery on the PTR, it seems like it could be the object of our reforging desires.

I’ll have to continue ignoring my RIFT beta invite and put off gearing out my mage in order to get some one-on-one time with the PTR. Stay tuned!

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.

Essentially, they’re merging Hand of Light with Divine Purpose. The unpredictable nature of the current Divine Purpose will not be missed, but the clutch extra HP or two that allows you to refresh Inquisition when you have 3 seconds left on it and you accidentally used your stack of carefully-hoarded HP on a Templar’s Verdict earlier; I’m going to miss that.

It’s quasi-important to note that Divine Purpose will use the same graphic that Hand of Light does currently.

Crusader Strike weapon damage percent has been increased to 135%, up from 115%.

Maybe I missed this memo, but it didn’t strike me that CS damage needed a buff. However, looking at a random parse from Magmaw, it’d be nice if CS wasn’t outshined by Censure in damage done. I welcome this buff with open arms.

Repentance is no longer broken from damage done by Censure (Seal of Truth).

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but now it’s “official.” And again, I am forced to ask why this wasn’t implemented before?!

Meta gems with the Chaotic and Relentless prefixes now have a requirement of 3 red gems.

Added new meta gems: Agile Shadowspirit Diamond (Agility/3% critical damage), Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond (Strength/3% critical damage), and Burning Shadowspirit Diamond (Intellect/3% critical damage). These new recipes are unbound and can drop from any Cataclysm creature. The new meta gems have a requirement of 3 red gems equipped.

These aren’t Ret-specific, but they’re relevant. If the amount of Strength on the Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond is the same as the other Shadowspirit metas (+54), you can bet your bippy that we’ll be throwing down on some of that action. The “at least 3 red gems equipped” requirement really just makes activating the new metas a joke.

Rebuke is now trainable by all paladins as a base spell.

I can’t decide if I’m happy that the “interrupt responsibility” is now spread around a bit more, or if I’m sad that we’re not as special.

Sacred Shield – When reduced below 30% health, you gain the Sacred Shield effect. The Sacred Shield absorbs [1 + 2.8 * AP] damage and increases healing received by 20%. Lasts 15 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once every 30 sec. 30 sec cooldown.

Remember Sacred Shield? They’re bringing it back… sorta. This is the “filler” talent for Rebuke. We’ll more than likely be taking this in our standard PvE builds both because it’s a great survival talent and because there’s not really anything comparable to take in its stead.

Stumbled Beginnings

Our two raid days this week, Tuesday and Wednesday, have been polar opposites of one another.

Tuesday was mired with disconnect issues galore. Three of our paladins (one Prot, one Ret, and one Holy) would reliably go offline a few seconds after every boss pull. This, combined with the raid’s general inexperience with these new bosses, lead to a very frustrating night.

Bastion of Twilight trash: teaching humility, one mis-pull at a time.

We walked into Wednesday with a plan. A method was devised to circumvent the disconnects that seemed to be connected to the raiders’ ISPs. Our first pull of trash in Blackwing Descent showed that the remedy our affected raiders applied was holding.

We approached Magmaw first. Some people had trouble seeing the Pillar of Flame on Tuesday, so graphical settings were changed to make it all the more visible, and the stacking got tighter. We had two warlocks, one Destro and the other Demo, use Shadowfury and Aura of Foreboding (respectively) to give ranged some extra time to scurry away.

P.S. The Destro lock remarked “Shadowfury is stupid. It says it has a 30 yd range, but it stuns all enemies within 8. What the hell?” To which we all responded “…. It’s a targeted spell, you noob.” Good times.

Thankfully, no one got DC’ed mid-fight, and the ranged professionally handled kiting and killing adds. Before we knew it…

Our first 25-man Cataclysm raid boss kill! Loot was distributed using our new EP/GP system and we went over to Omnotron Defense System.

After two “learning wipes,” Omnotron went down gracefully. There’s a lot going on in this fight, but there were two major points that we really locked down:

1. Interrupts on Arcanotron. We had three melee watching his cast, Arcane Annihilator, and coordinating over Mumble (me, a rogue, and a warrior). We had mages, an elemental shaman, and the tank on back-up. When Arcanotron activated, the tank would get the first interrupt, then the three interrupters would coordinate “I got next” or “I can’t get this” whenever necessary. The interrupters would stay on Arcanotron even after the shield went up, cancelling melee attacks but still interrupting.

2. Spellsteal/Purges of Power Conversion. He’s going to gain stacks of these from remnant DoTs and slow switches, and these stacks need to be removed ASAP. We had Annihilator casts at 0.6 seconds and none of us could jump on those quick enough. Once our mages were reminded of this, we pulled through and got nearly every cast.

We had seen these fights on our 10-man runs that we had been running prior to the “official” start of our 25s, so that experience proved invaluable. Rather than continue into the depths of Blackwing Descent, we decided to hop on over to Bastion of Twilight to see the other boss that we had managed to down in 10-man: Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

We used the Mind Vision trick to see which drakes we had up beforehand and tried to bring in different priests in different raids to see if we could get a different combo, but it didn’t work.

For our combo, we got Slate Dragon, Nether Scion, and Time Warden. What we ended up doing was a little… unorthodox. We had four tanks, one each for the drakes and the boss, and we pulled everything in the middle. The kill order was Slate, Nether, Time, then Halfus, with incidental AoE damage chipping away at everything to speed up killing the drakes. This gave us more time on the boss after Time Warden went down before Halfus enraged.

We ended up with about three minutes between Time Warden’s death and Halfus’s enrage. What really helped us out and, in my opinion, allowed us to kill Halfus post-enrage was the fact that he got stunned by Stone Touch shortly after the beginning of the berserk, and I believe once again during. Nevertheless, down he fell with less than 5 of our own raiders left standing; a true ES progression kill.

With another boss dead, more purps were handed out, and we were off to Valiona and Theralion. Unfortunately we were nearing the end of our night, so we only put a few attempts on the pair, but the mechanics seemed simple enough. We should be able to secure a kill on Sunday when our “clean-up crew” goes in on 10-man and uses the lockout from the 25s to see some different encounters.

I Ain’t Dead Yet

… I’ve just been out of the “blogging groove” for a little while. To be honest, my entire life is getting into one big routine and my brain is slowly turning to mush.

I found this in my Google Image search of “mush” and just could not leave it out of my post. Enjoy the cute puppy.

Anywho, I updated my Retribution 101 page with current 4.0.3a info, so if you’re dusting off that main, alt, or offspec, go here and take a look!

(I guess there’s a link at the top that you can click on as well, but then you wouldn’t see the puppy.)

Questions, comments, and corrections are always welcome!