Monday, October 25, 2010

Herbalism: Lifeblood changed

The ability that comes with Herbalism, Lifeblood, is changed. Previously, it healed the character for a decent amount of health. Now, it grants haste (240 for 450 herbalism, less if you have less skill) and a minor amount of health.

It now triggers a shared 20-sec cooldown on all on-use trinkets that grant haste, attack power, spell power and you name it.

That means herbalism is now a good pick for profession for all characters.

Haste grants
  • Faster spellcasting = more dps and more hps
  • Less time between auto-attacks = more dps and more procs (f. ex. Maelstrom Weapon
  • More rage gained (warrior, bears)
  • Faster energy regeneration (rogues, kitties)
  • Faster rune regeneration (death knights)
  • Faster focus regeneration (hunters)
  • Shorter Crusader Strike cooldown for Retribution pallies (provided they have Sanctity of Battle)

Tanks are probably the role that benefit the least from haste. However, faster auto-attacks and more resources (rage and runes) are always handy, and translates into more threat. Unfortunately, it does nothing to improve Protection paladin resources (mana and holy power), but it still grants faster auto-attacks (and more Seal of Truth and Reckoning procs)

A simple pally macro for herbalism:

/cast Avenging Wrath
/cast Lifeblood

Something happened to the mob/level formula...

In my mind, orange mobs are hard. Like, your attacks barely dent them, while they crush you all the time. I'm currently repainting that picture.

While leveling through Northrend with Tirvin (my second pally past 70, by the way), I'm just having such an easy time it's getting silly. At level 71, I soloed Sarathstra for the quest Sarathstra, Scourge of the North. It was a level 75 elite, originally intended for a 5-man group. I was never even remotely in any danger, and killed her without using a single cooldown. The self-healing from Word of Glory kept me up with no trouble at all. In fact, I only spent about every second Holy Power dump on Word of Glory, the others went into Shield of the Righteous.

I did less dps than I could do with yellow mobs. However, my damage was much less reduced compared to what I remember from pre-4.0. Part of that may be because I had a decent amount of Vengeance all the time, but I didn't notice a lot of glancing hits. Similarly, I took much less crushing blows than I used to.

I tested it with other higher-level mobs too, and nope, they weren't really dangerous at all. At 72, I pulled groups of four lvl 75 mobs at a time in Grizzly Hills. With that many mobs, I was starting to take about as much damage as I could self-heal without cooldowns. If it weren't for the level requirement to pick up quests, I'd be in far higher-level areas already.

I'm also taking this opportunity to do some other quests I've skipped with my 5 other 80s. With all of those, I focused on quests that would get me reputation with the Northrend fractions. This time, I don't need to bother with that. In a month and a half, the reputation in Northrend will have very little to say, unless you're an achievement collector.

I'm looking forward to a lot of cool quest chains in Grizzly Hills. Just dinged 73 last night when I finished Battle for the Undercity. It's rather cool, and since it'll be gone in 4.0.3, I took the opportunity to do it one final time. Sylvanas and Thrall are just badass!

I'm looking forward to see how badass Baine Bloodhoof will be in Cataclysm.

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.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Druids: Soothe now dispels Enrage effects!

For all I know, this change might have been live for some time. However, I just discovered it by reading a tooltip. The former Soothe Animal, now Soothe, removes an enrage effect, and it's dirt cheap to cast too.

Dispelling enrage effects have some utility in PVE. However, in PVP, it'll reduce warrior damage by 10% (removing Wrecking Crew, Enrage and Bastion of Defense for the three different specs of warriors) and preventing one of their self-heals (Enraged Regeneration). Don't rely on being able to stop them from healing, though, as they can just wait for their next enrage effect (since it's a passive proc) and use Enraged Regeneration before you manage to get off a Soothe.

It should also be possible to remove Hunter's Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within. Haven't tested it yet, though. It's also possible that just soothing the pet will take care of the hunter too, at least with the way the talent is worded.

There have been a lot of other changes to spells as well, but this one had so far managed to stay under my radar.

Edit: There might also be other enrage effects it can dispel. Owlkin Frenzy is a possible candidate.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Are bears still a bleak copy of Protection Warriors?

We're entering a new era... World of Warcraft version 4.0.

When I started playing WoW in classic, bears were really a bleak copy of protection warriors. Fast forward to Cataclysm. How do they feel today?

Identical abilities

The first comparison isn't even fair. Growl and Taunt are the identically same abilities, but they're also identical to Hand of Reckoning and Dark Command.

Moving on, Demoralizing Roar and Demoralizing Shout are identical. So are Challenging Roar and Challenging Shout. Interestingly enough, druids can glyph their version for 30 sec less cooldown, but I haven't been able to find a similar glyph for warriors. However, they pick up a talent (Drums of War) which reduces the rage cost of both shouts to 0 rage. Most handy.

Maul and Heroic Strike are basically the same. However, glyphed Maul will hit an additional target (albeit for 50%), which is starting to remind very much of Cleave. Then again, glyphed Cleave hits two additional target.

Similar abilities

Survival Instincts reduces damage by 60%, while Shield Wall reduces damage by 40%... however the latter can be glyphed to reduce damage by 60% as well, increasing its cooldown. However, with the talent Shield Mastery, the cooldown, even glyphed, drops below that of Survival Instincts.

Bash and Concussive Blow are pretty similar. The main difference is that Concussive Shot has a shorter cooldown and deals damage as well. Still, pretty similar.

Skull bash and Shield Bash are also similar, though Shield Bash has two seconds longer cooldown (provided the bear picks up Brutal Impact, which every bear with a bit of self-respect should). Shield Bash is affected by a lot of talents, though, among others reducing the rage cost to 0 and granting it a 100% chance to silence and daze the target.

Frenzied Regeneration now increases health by 30%, just like Last Stand. It also converts rage to health, similar to Enraged Regenration. The glyphed version increases healing taken instead.

Abilities which have the same purpose

Now we're arrived at abilities which aren't necessarily very similar, but works for the same purpose.

First, the primary skill for each spec. Mangle and Shield Slam both share a 6 second cooldown and are high-threat single-target moves. Mangle also applies a bleed debuff, while Shield Slam removes a magic buff. Both abilities have talents which gives a proc that reset their cooldown and cause them to cost no rage. For druids, it procs of Lacerate ticks, while warriors proc them off Devestate and Revenge.

Thunder Clap and Swipe are both AoE-threat abilities which share a 6 sec cooldown. In addition, Thunder Clap reduces attack speed of the opponents. Druids have this ability attached to Mangle and Maul with the talent Infected Wounds. In addition, Infected Wounds slow the target.

Druids also get a second AoE-threat ability on a 6 sec cooldown at level 81, Thrash, which applies a bleed effect to all targets. Warriors can talent Thunder Clap to spread the bleed from a Rend to all targets.

Then there's gap closers. Feral Charge and Charge both share a 15 sec cooldown unglyphed, 14 sec glyphed. The druid version immobilizes the opponent, the warrior version stuns. However, protection warriors also have Intercept and soon Heroic Leap.

Druids get Omen of Clarity for free, allowing a rage free ability now and then. Warriors can spec into Battle Trance, which does pretty much the same, but has a higher proc chance from a smaller selection of abilities... namely Shield Slam only.

Stuff which are not so similar

Faerie Fire and Devastate (or Sunder Armor for low-level warriors) both reduce armor by 4% and stack up to 3. However, they are not very identical in the way they are handled in the rotation. Faerie Fire has a long reach, a 6 sec cooldown, and with an almost mandatory bear talent (Feral Aggression) applies 3 stacks each cast. Thus, a druid doesn't spend time stacking up FF.

However, druids stack Lacerate 3 times. They throw down Pulverize to consume the stack and get a self-buff, unlike warriors who just keep Sunder Armor up throughout the battle.

Warriors do have a bleed, Rend, but it isn't vitally important the way Lacerate is.

Barkskin and Shield Block have some resemblance in usage as both reduce incoming damage slightly on a fairly short cooldown. Talented, Shield Block only has 30 sec CD, while Barkskin remains at 1 min. In addition, with Heavy Repercussions Shield Block becomes an offensive utility as well, doubling the damage of Shield Slam while it is up.

The passive mechanic to block incoming attacks for a warrior has somewhat the same purpose as Savage Defense, namely reduce incoming damage somewhat. Both are also focus of the mastery for each class.

Unique abilities to each class

Enrage was originally a copy of the warrior ability Bloodrage. However, it is now gone, leaving druids with an original ability.

In addition to some abilities mentioned above, druids also get Berserk, Stampeding Roar and Omen of Clarity. It might be mentioned that druids also get Rebirth, one of the very few ways to bring someone back to life mid-combat. Useful also for a tank, in a fight with phases where they can shift out between the different phases without risking to get squashed.

Warriors get a heapload of original stuff they can use while tanking. Which isn't too strange, since they can't shift out of their rage-form, like druids can. Listing them quickly: Intervene, Slam (not sure this is of any use while tanking), Vigilance, Shockwave, Disarm, Revenge, Spell Reflection, Heroic Throw, Victory Rush, Inner Rage, Berserker Rage and Intimidating Shout.

The two classes also bring different buffs and debuffs which benefit their party/raid. Well, almost. Both bring the armor reduction debuff. In addition, druids bring Leader of the Pack, the Mangle bleed increase and Mark of the Wild. Warriors bring Battle Shout, Commanding Shout and Vigilance. It feels like I've forgotten something here.


The two subspecs (bears and protection warriors) still shares a good amount of mechanics. However, they also have enough difference that it doesn't feel like you're playing the same class. Then again, if you do have one of them and want to try a different tanking style, it might be a better idea to try Death Knight or Paladin first, to get a feel of something entirely different.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What I don't like about the paladin theme... don't read if you're easily offended.

I've never really had a paladin as my main. However, I've tried three times. The results are an belf 63 pally on my home server, and a dwarven 30ish paladin and a belf 80 paladin on two other servers.

I've run into two problems with paladins, time and again. The first have been that the playstyle of protection and retribution have been incredibly boring. It looks like that's going to change in Cataclsym.

The other problem is the very theme of a paladin... protector of the innocent, bringers of pure light, yada yada, self-righteous bastards. I don't like the concept much. Part of the reason is of course that I hated paladins as horde during classic. Old habits die hard.

When Blood Elves could be paladins, it helped a lot, since the idea was that belfs just (ab)used the power for their own, egoistical purposes. A concept I can much more easily relate to. However, they use the same names for their spells. Hm... perhaps if I just renamed them for my own benefit?

I'd like to briefly tell you what I don't like about the theme. I may step on, probably even stomp on, some toes here.

The concept of paladin reminds me far too much of the middle-age Catholic Church. And from history, that lead to a lot of bad stuff. The worst part of it was when people with no conscience used people who only wanted to do good as pawns for their plans.

Take the Crusades, for example... lots of good people died, an even greater number of people got abused, and a small number of people reaped a lot of benefit from it, with malevolent intentions from the very beginning.

I also firmly believe that humans are creatures controlled by hormones and chemicals. There's a saying which I'll rephrase from memory: "A man is only rational for a total of about one hour each day." It captures what I believe in.

Yes, people want to be rational, but most of the time, they aren't. A lot of people are prepared to rationally accept a life in celibacy. However, most people will eventually fail because their very genes constantly urge them towards reproducing. When they succumb to their desires, since it is not openly accepted, it must happen in secret, and often lead to very tragic fates on the other end.

I believe in open communication, for a lack of a better term. Being open to communicate with others are the very premise of any working relationship, both between family, lovers, friends and enemies. In the case of enemies, a "working relationship" may be seen as a state in which you respect each other's borders, even if you don't like the other side.

There still need to be work beyond having open communication to actually make a relationship work. However, if you fail to communicate, the relationship is almost guaranteed to fail. Many live constantly in failing relationships, and it works because one side is dominating the other. For any sort of relationship where the two sides want to be on equal terms, communication is the key.

If you feel offended after reading this, I'm all open for discussion.