Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Anyone else thinks paladins are overpowered?"

The quote above was said in party chat when I was tanking Utgarde Keep yesterday.

I hadn't played for several weeks when the patch hit. I went online and started fixing glyphs for all my characters... I'm fairly certain I made more than 100 glyphs with Ayeba, my druid. Fortunately, I had a lot of materials stacked up. Sadly, I lacked several key glyphs, but every glyph I could make myself saved me a lot of gold. If I'd been greedy and not so lazy, I would've sold glyphs with my mats instead of making them for myself.

After I had fixed up glyphs and talents for all my characters, I still lacked key bindings and macros. I was not sure what to do. What was there for me to do? I don't raid, PVP was a tad broken, I didn't need anything... so I decided I could spend time leveling my paladin which have stayed at 62 for more than a year. I figured it also gave me a good opportunity to test out the new holy power change.

Three words on my personal feelings of the new system. "I" "LOVE" "IT". I never managed to really enjoy the old paladin mechanic, but this... this is just awesome. While the system needs some polishing and possibly rounding off, it is a much, much better framework than the old system.


I tested Retribution for some quests and one instance. The system felt much more interesting than it did before. No more just cooldown-smashing, now I actually had to watch out for procs (Divine Purpose) and use different attacks based on what I was doing, primarly deciding between Templar's Verdict and Divine Storm as a holy power finisher, occasionally using Word of Glory for self-healing. I expect it to get even better at 70 when I get Mastery Hand of Light and at 71 when I get Inquisition.

My biggest problem was that I lacked some sort of way to keep track of Holy Power without looking at the top left corner of my screen. I searched and tested a few addons, and decided that the one I liked best was Class Combo Points, positioned right below the center of the screen (just edit frame.lua and set cfg.pointx = -70 instead of the default value of -150.

In other notes, Long Arm of the Law was a great distance closer. Okay, not as great as Charge, but I also (ab)used it to run away and to move fast in instances by judging distant mobs and critters. The Art of War was not in itself dramatically different (except it no longer allowed healing, but I got that from Word of Glory instead), but the visual proc made it a heapload better. Thanks, Blizz!

I felt retribution was much better now than it ever was before. However, I'm not sure that it sails up as my personal favorite dps spec, even so. But as long as it's not gravely annoying, I'm all good. After all, the reason I want to play a paladin is to heal and tank primarily.


Okay, protection was just so much fun I had trouble controlling myself. The reason I didn't like it before was that it felt awfully... static. It was just a very locked rotation.

In a way, it's still locked, but there's so much more choices and versatility in it now than earlier. The locked part is the 3 sec cooldown of Hammer of the Righteous and Crusader Strike (Ignore the tooltip, both have 3 sec CD as protection). 3 sec CD means you can use it every second GCD, and in most cases, you should. It provides good threat, gives a point of Holy Power, has a chance to reset the cooldown on Avenger's Shield, and deals a decent amount of AoE damage as well (in the case of Hammer of the Rigtheous).

However, there are still circumstances where I decided not to use it every second GCD, such as when I needed to both dump Holy Power into Shield of the Rigtheous or throw an Avenger's Shield. And it felt like I wasn't seriously punishing myself doing that.

Speaking of which, Avenger's Shield is completely awesome. I love having it as a proc, since it hits like a truck, particularly considering it can hit 3 mobs. Part of the reason I love it is the new power auras which display when I've gotten a proc. The silence effect is a welcome boost as well. I still think it's a bit ... ehm... cheesy, for lack of a better word, but I guess I can live with that.

There's also another proc available, Sacred Duty. For some reason it doesn't show up in the Power Auras, most annoying. It's also much more passive... it rarely changes the way I use my powers. The only exception might be if I have 2 holy power, and Hammer of the Righteous, Crusader Strike, Judgement and Holy Wrath are all on cooldown. Then I might consider dropping a 2 HP guaranteed crit Shield of the Righteous on my target... otherwise, I'd just use another ability and wait for the 3rd Holy Power. In fact, I decided to drop the 2 points in the talent in my latest respec.

I have almost never had any trouble with mana while tanking since the patch. There have been a few exceptions, but as long as I remember to Judge and keep Holy Shield up, I'm usually good.

Now, there's one thing I don't understand, but don't complain about. I am doing so much dps, while tanking. I managed to tank an entire instance once forgetting to buff myself with Righteous Fury, just because I dealt so much damage. I mean, I was at 2k dps at lvl 68 in Utgarde Keep, while the dps (lvl 68-71) were below 1k on trash mobs. On bosses I was still above 1k dps, unless I spent all my HP on self-healing. And I'm not even very well-geared for my level, still having several green pieces from low-level Outland quests and no enchants. On every single instance in Outland I've topped the dps charts, usually by a wide margin.

Speaking of self-healing, casting Word of Glory on myself with Guarded by the Light and Divinity yields a massive amount of healing done. It heals for about 2-2.5k/holy power at level 68, and it can crit, healing me above full health. Unlike percentage-based heals (like Death Pact and Enraged Regeneration) it will probably be much less powerful at level 85, but at this level it's just too awesome, particularly since I can throw out one every 9 seconds. After a Shattered Halls run, I found that I missed some quest mobs, so I went back to kill them after the last boss was downed. Only a hunter went with me, and together we took down packs of 5 mobs (the gladiators with a single centurion), with the only source of healing being my own. With careful pulling, I'm sure we could've taken the entire instance that way, possibly not including the bosses.

Conclusion: I've really enjoyed paladin tanking, so much more than before the patch. I really look forward to lvl 82 when I can get Pursuit of Justice in my tanking build, too.


I respecced from Retribution to Holy and healed an instance with it, having only about 50% of my gear as healer gear. Fortunately, the tank didn't take too much damage, so I was good. It gave me a chance to test out the new holy power system here too.

I won't go into too much details since I've got much less experience healing than tanking so far, but the impression is that it rocks. Much more dynamic, way much more mobile. When Daybreak procs, I can ften throw out two Holy Shocks and a Word of Glory in rapid succession while moving.

Unlike most other Holy Power dumps, Word of Glory scales linearly with holy power, while Shield of the Righteous, Templar's Verdict and Divine Storm scales semi-exponentially. It means that it is not necessarily a bad idea to throw out a 2 HP Word of Glory if that's what you need to top off someone, while throwing a 2 HP Templar's Verdict is a guaranteed dps loss.

I will probably at some point (probably at 85) to test out a Holy DPS build, based on Blazing Light, Enlightened Judgements, Infusion of Light, Crusade, Speed of Light (from the beta, where it provides 3% haste), Judgements of the Pure, Conviction, Rule of Law, Divine Favor and primarily Denounce. Paragon of Virtue will also be handy to use Avenging Wrath more often. All holy power will be dumped into Inquisition. As you can see, there are quite a lot of talents that can improve holy dps. The Glyph of Exorcism and Holy Shock and either Judgement or Divine Favor are natural selections here.

I see three problems with such a spec. The first is mana. While Exorcism is fairly cheap with Denounce (7.5% base mana), with no mana returns except Divine Plea (which should be glyphed) and Lay on Hands (which should be glyphed not once, but twice), you might run dry during a long battle. Of course, you can stack Spirit since you still have Meditation.

The second problem is range. Holy Shock has a mere 20 yards reach, and there are no talents to improve that. However, it's just annoying, it's not critical.

The third and most important is boredom. The rotation is just boring. The instant Exorcism proc from Denounce doesn't change anything in the rotation, so it's just spam Holy Shock on cooldown, spam Exorcism else and use Judgement to keep up the haste buff. If Judgement deals enough damage, it can be part of the roation, but so far it seems it doesn't.

Edit: lack of AoE...

Outland in 2 days

I blazed through Outland (admittedly, from lvl 62) in two days. Most of the time in instances, and I know that's suboptimal for leveling once you've expended your rested XP.

During that time, I also achieved Revered with Sporeggar to get Transmute Primal Earth to Air, skilled from 330 to 350 Alchemy and grinded 4 Primal Air for the Primal Might I need for Master of Transmutation. Fortunately, I had plenty of Primal Earth and Primal Fire on my bank alt from mining with other characters. I ended up buying the Primal Manas from the auction house, since they cost only 7 gold a piece. The primal air, on the other hand, cost 45 gold each, and a primal might cost 180 gold.

During my grinding of Primal Air I killed a lot of level 71 mobs, at level 68. I was not even remotely in danger at any time despite having two or three mobs on me, and they went down fast! Protection is just an awesome spec for soloing as well, possibly more so than before.

Serious surgery incoming

I've decided to pay the money to change race on my paladin from Blood Elf to Tauren, once that becomes available. I just like the tauren paladin theme a lot more, and I really like taurens. Too bad their racials are strictly worse. At least I get the benefit of Cultivation.

I am already renaming the paladin abilities in my head to better suit the new theme. Guarded by the Light can be Bathed in Sunlight.

A candidate for very illogical naming...

One thing I've thought of. The talent Protector of the Innocent. It heals only the paladin himself or herself. Does that imply that the paladin is innocent? Bah, yeah, right. How many mobs have you killed during your level up, mister of-so-innocent pally? How many of those have not been a threat to anyone, and have just minded their own business until they were attacked?

It can also imply that the paladin is the only innocent, since it doesn't heal anyone else. Even worse...

I can see an interpretation where the paladin need to stay alive to help others, in effect, the innocent, but it's not a good way to base the naming on. You could rather name it Dancing in the Light or something like that. For my tauren paladin, this talent will be something like Walking in the Sun.

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