Monday, April 26, 2010

So Happy for 10-mans!

By now several bloggers have already commented on the news announced by Blizzard regarding the Cataclysm raid sizes and lockouts. I won't bother reposting what others already have (you can read the whole post here if you want), save the cliff notes version as it means for 10-man raiders:

  • 10 and 25-man raids will drop the same loot

  • 10 and 25-man raids will share the same lockout

  • 10 and 25-man raids will share the same difficulty

While I'm sure there are some 25-man raiders who are no doubt concerned about this, as a 10-man raider I'm extraordinarily pleased, and overall I think this is a good thing, even for the 25-man raider.


When I was a 25-man raider, we officially raided three nights a week. We considered ourselves casual. But we liked running 10-mans too. So our casual three nights a week often turned into five nights a week. Not so casual anymore, was it?

Some people in the guild really only wanted the 25-man raids so they never went to 10-mans, but were they gimping themselves by doing so? Sometimes key trinkets only dropped in 10-mans, and to say nothing of the extra emblems that could be earned by regularly doing 10-mans once ToC and ICC became regular content! ToC was the worst for 25-man raiders who might end up doing the same instance four times a week for normal and heroic, 10 and 25-man.

Blizzard admitted that the ridiculous number of emblems for the ToC/ICC gear is because they expected top level raiders would be running both raid sizes, collecting emblems from both, and they needed to make sure they didn't get gear too fast. But the bad part about planning for the gearing of the hardcore is that raiders who only do one size raid have to scrimp for weeks to get a single piece gear that costs 60-95 emblems.

It's really not too bad for a decent group that only does one size raid. I have my four piece of T10 now, and emblems leftover, but I can see how 25-man raiders can feel compelled to run both raid sizes if they want to stay on top. The perception is there that they have to do.

I know if I was still in my 25-man guild I would be running both 10 and 25-mans on a regular basis. As an officer it would have been derelict for me to do otherwise. Sharing the same lockout is a good thing, in my opinion. It prevents player burnout.

It's primarily the same loot that I think most 25-man raiders would have an issue with. Never mind that under the new system they'll get more loot per boss drop and therefore be gearing up faster than a 10-man raider. They'll still be better geared than us; just in a different way.

Personally, I know a couple guildies who have had enough of 25-man raiders waving Shadow's Edge in their faces and our DK has expressed a disappointment that there's no similar epic quest for him as a 10-man raider.

I think this will also be good from Blizzard from a design standpoint since they'll have less item levels of gear to worry about and we might not see something like Chill of the Throne or Sunwell Radiance in our final raid of Cataclysm to accommodate unexpected gear inflation.

I'm actually not entirely sure what to make of the same difficulty for both raid sizes since I think that's something Blizzard has been striving for anyway, but it'll be good to know it's still a concern for them.

Overall, I'm really happy with this. I think it legitimizes 10-man raiding, because we won't have 25-man raiders doing "easy" 10-mans on the side. If they do them, it'll be because they're short too many people on a particular night. And as a bright side for them even if they end up short people a particular night they can still get the same ilvl loot they would have otherwise.

Even when I was in a 25-man guild I've always been happier with the 10-man raid. Everyone is more accountable for their performance. It's a more intimate environment where you're more likely to know the extended group you're playing with. I love that I know what each of my fellow raiders does for a living, that we can joke around and we don't have moments where we've just never talked to a particular person in-guild.

I'll be honest. I was thinking of retiring from WoW after beating the Lich King. It was a thought I had at the beginning of the expansion, and one that returned when my 25-man guild died at the start of ToC. I formed my 10-man guild because dammit I wanted to see Arthas and none of the 25-man guilds that I'd be interested in joining on my server ran at suitable timeframes for me.

I wasn't sure I would be taking my guild into Cataclysm. But I admit, I've gotten attached to my guildies, a few of whom even transferred to join us because they wanted the 10-man style. Listening to my guildies talk about what they're looking forward to, and now, knowing that the raid size I prefer will be supported even more, makes me more comfortable with the idea of sticking around. I'm not really thinking of retiring anymore.

Besides, in the meantime, there's still Arthas. It might not mean much, with many guilds having downed him already, but no 10-man guild has done it on my laid back server yet (not even those that moonlight 25s), and my scrubby little guild still has an eye on being the first to do so. We've had some attendance issues lately with a couple folks having late shifts at work, but those have cleared up now, and we finally got to Phase 3 the last time we fought him.

I'm pegging Arthas's demise for next Monday. Then I'm gonna want me some hard modes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

[Druid] Solar Beam?!

From the Blizzard Twitter Chat:

Q. What change are you most excited about?
A. Some of the new Balance talents for druids, like Solar Beam, which works like Freya’s spell where it instantly silences a target and they have to move out of the beam to get rid of the debuff.

Holy moly, druids are actually getting a silence! And it's ongoing too. I wonder if it'll have to channeled. They must think highly of it if they'd call it out as one of the changes they're most excited about.

Talk about throwing balance druids a bone!

Now I have this funny mental image though of a moonkin charging up a big ball of light between its antlers/horns before letting it fly. >_>

Other Twitter tidbits for us:

Q: How will haste affect channeled spells. Will it be similar to DoTs and HoTs?
A: They will channel faster but their duration will remain unchanged. You will get more ticks on the same cast.

Nutshell: More haste will do more for our Hurricane (and our Tranquility for the times we use it).

Q: Will relics and wands be getting any new attention in Cataclysm?
A: With relics, the plan is to make them class agnostic. In other words, there might be a +strength relic that a death knight or paladin might want to equip. We think that will let us add more of them to the game without them being so specialized. They will feel more like wands.

How to make wands and relics a bigger part of gameplay is something we’ve had many, many discussions on. Ultimately though we’d rather see warlocks, mages and priests casting their spells, not zapping someone with a wand. In Cataclysm we don’t expect to see much wanding, even at lower level.

The relic thing has always been uncomfortable. I didn't have one my entire vanilla career in WoW, because there were only a few in game I could possibly obtain; three of which were feral/resto drops I never got, the other (moonkin) which was a world drop BoE. Gold was a lot harder to come by in vanilla, so I wasn't about to spend what little gold I had buying a blue off the AH (and blues were worth something back then!).

My first idol ended up being [Idol of the Wild] from Hellfire Peninsula, and it was for a spec I didn't play.

Things were a little better in WotLK with a emblem purchasable idol available right off the bat, but I remember while I was raiding Naxx I would occasionally get asked why I was using [Idol of Steadfast Renewal] instead of [Idol of the Shooting Star], because the latter was clearly the superior of the two. And I had to answer quite frankly that the stupid idol had never dropped for my guild. I eventually got it, but not until the last week or two before Ulduar came out!

Again, things improved. Last tier's emblem started getting added to the Dalaran vendors, and then Blizzard took things a set further and just made them always purchasable. But they're still quirky things to balance around and they're really only usable by one spec.

I'm not sure making them into another stat stick is the answer, but it certainly would be easier for the designers to balance around, and prevent the creation of idols that everybody passes on. I had to explain to my 25-man guild why I didn't want to spend my EPGP on [Idol of the Crying Moon] because it was simply outperformed by the Starfire one from Naxx. Being the only moonkin in the raid, I didn't want to sound like I was passing on it so I could get it for free.

Q: When you say you're going to make relics class agnostic, does it include druids' idols as well?
A: Druid, shaman, paladin and death knight. It’s possible we will still keep some that are very specific to certain classes and specs. Overall though we’re not happy with the current design where an ability procs a buff on you. If it’s an ability you don’t use often, then the item is terrible, so they end up feeling really passive already. At the same time, the fact that we have to offer so many prevents us from ever giving you the choice of which one to use. So we make the Resto druid or Enhance shaman version every new tier. It would be a more interesting decision if there was a crit + Intellect relic and a haste + Intellect relic, and you can choose which one to use.

So it looks like goodbye ability procs, hello stats. They don't say they'll actually fold relics in with wands, but what's going to make them different? Aside from the fact we can't shoot them. And that it would be silly to have a death knight equipping a wand.

And that's pretty much it for druids. I didn't find the paladin-specific portion that interesting (what there was of it), so I'll leave that to the other bloggers out there. But we did get a few other general tidbits for everyone.

Q: Do you intend to have all 280% flying mounts scale to 310% when a 310% mount is earned, or will only purchased mounts do so?
A: Our current plan, is that in Cataclysm, you can learn a new rank of flying that lets all flying mounts move at 310% (even current 280% mounts). That will probably be as fast as mounts will ever get. We don’t like it that when you get a 310% mount that you stop using your old ones.

This is sweet. I'm sure some people will complain, because they earned their 310% speed mount through crazy raiding skills or crazy PvP skills, but I've missed the fact that I don't ride Malfas anymore because he's 280% speed and my Violet Proto-Drake is faster. Malfas has a story behind him. The Violet Proto-Drake is something that arrived in a mailbox.

Q: What will happen to our gems and enchants on gear that give us stats that are being removed in Cataclysm ?
A: We are going to change most gems and enchants that have obsolete stats like armor pen and defense..

This is probably going to result in some regemming for some folks, assuming the 4.0 patch drops before launch as usual. Last time healing gems turned into spellpower gems, which resulted in very little change for either my balance druid or my holy paladin, but this will be something all the plate tanks and physical melee dps will be concerned about.

Related to that, when the spirit to hit conversion in Cataclysm hits this means our Purified Dreadstones are going to end up looking more like Veiled Ametrines and moonkin will probably end up way over the hit cap.

Q: What kinds of UI updates are planned for Cataclysm. Eclipse and Soul Shards are two, but any others?
A: We have already moved professions from the skill tab to an awesome new page on the spell book. In fact, in the absence of weapon skills, we got rid of the skill tab entirely. We have a new talent tree UI that shows all of the talent trees without scrolling and provides the passive bonuses as well. We’re changing the glyph UI to support Paths of the Titans. We’re changing the PvP queue UI to support rated Battlegrounds. We’d like to improve the V-nameplate feature. We’d like to provide more information when you level up about what new spells or features are now available to you. We’re experimenting with better ways to organize buffs and debuffs and communicate procs and cooldowns too.

Sounds like quite an overhaul! I'm looking forward to it. I admit I'm not so great at designing my own UI. I pick up a mod here and there because someone suggests it and I think it looks useful, but it's all piecemeal and I don't build a whole "look" from scratch.

I'm glad Blizzard is hoping to clear things up for folks who aren't as big on designing their own UI, and they're just going to take a whack at it as a whole. They've made a lot of improvements lately (the tutorial is actually quite nice now, if you've made a new alt recently) and given the age of the game it's nice to know they're not resting on their laurels. Just because it works doesn't mean that it couldn't be better.

Q: What change are you most excited about?
A: We are changing the old zones probably more than most players realize. A place like Stonetalon is virtually unrecognizable. It has all new quests and item rewards and dramatic changes to the landscape. A zone like Western Plaguelands has actually been updated to reflect the fact that the Scourge are in retreat (which is not to say that the zone is without its dangers). Everywhere you’re going to see something new and surprising. I think a lot of players are excited about the level 80-85 experience (as they should be!) and the goblin and worgen zones (which if anything are better than the death knight starter zone, if you can believe that), but I think a lot of players are going to want to reroll new character of existing races and classes just to see how much everything has changed.

This quote almost makes me want to take one of my alts out to Stonetalon for one last romp, except then I remember some of the lowbie issues I had with that zone, like how far I had to run on foot to get anywhere. I guess it's better now that mounts are at level 20, but there's probably a good reason that we're not going to recognize it anymore. It needs the makeover--bad.

Western Plaguelands I have an alt perfectly positioned to do a final run through, and I plan to do it before Cataclysm lands. I might even do some Scholomance runs with her for old times' sake if I can get some saps (*cough* party members) from LFD to land in there with me.

I guess it's a good thing that the goblin and worgen zones are going to be interesting, but I admit I'm a little reluctant to believe they could be better than the DK starting zone. Maybe it just means they're more personal or there's more going on. The battle for Light's Hope Chapel was really a crowning moment for me. I did it on launch day so there really was a horde of death knights bearing down on the chapel and it made the climax of the starting zone epic. I don't think it's possible (or even reasonable) to make the end of a low level zone epic, because those characters haven't earned their mark on the world yet.

But maybe Blizzard will surprise me. There's still plenty of time before the expansion comes out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

[Paladin] Thoughts on the Preview

First off, an MSN conversation between myself and a guildie:

    Hana says:
    - We also get some uber sounding summon called Guardian of Kings that summons an angel with a sword and it does different things depending on spec.
    Cursedhoof says:
    - neat
    - hunters get a big bag

Hopefully someone else gets a chuckle out of that too. (And hunters aren't that badly off!)

So on to the preview!

New Paladin Spells

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.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

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).

Blinding Shield looks like only tanks will really want it, and not just because of the shield requirement. When I first saw that the Holy tree would have a talent to increase its damage I thought it might be nice for the soloing holy pally (or one wanting to help AoE trash), but with that 2-second base cast time it's probably going to be too long to be useful, even for off-spec tanking. It kind of makes me wonder what the point is to make an ability baseline if only one spec can get any use out of it. Only ret gets the instant Exorcism, but prot still might use it to pull if Avenger's Shield is on cooldown.

Healing Hands is pretty much what I predicted; a centered AoE heal, though I was amused by comparing the paladin to a Healing Stream Totem. I'm a little curious whether this spell will be instant or have a cast time. The short range means that this spell will be most effective when standing with a melee group, since the ranged and healers are generally spread out for boss fights. Does this mean we'll see more holy paladins standing in melee range? (Some already do to melee for mana using Seal of Wisdom.) Or will it be something a prot paladin will do if they have a spare GCD and threat is good? Our feral druid is sometimes #3 on heals due to his Improve Leader of the Pack aura. Maybe a prot paladin could be next. The short cooldown is nice and the fact we can keep casting while it's going makes me think this is going to be a raiding staple.

Guardian of Ancient Kings sounds pretty crazy, and yet it seems like such a paladin thing. If there was any class that was going to have such a pretentious sounding spell, it would be us, and we're getting a friggin' angel! It sounds like it'll be a smart single target healing totem for a holy paladin, another tanking cooldown for prot, and a semi-pet for ret. Actually, out of the three specs, I think ret would be probably be least excited about it, because it would just be another dps cooldown to blow, but holy and prot actually get another tool in the toolkit.

Rhidach is thinking that GoAK might cause Forbearance, but I'm inclined to think it won't. For one thing, it would make it impossible to use both Divine Protection and GoAK anywhere remotely close to each other and no other tanking class has a tanking cooldown that closes off access to a second tanking cooldown.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • 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.

  • Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.

  • 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.

  • Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

  • I have never experienced the wonders of Crusader Strike, but ever since the need to refresh seals went away at the start of WotLK, leveling a paladin has been lacking. I was toying around with a new pally that I got up to level 7 or 8 before I stopped and it was mindnumbing because I was killing everything literally with just Judgement and auto-attack, and you can only judge every 10 seconds. At least before I had to up a seal and then judge and up the seal again.

    The Cleanse bullet point doesn't really make any sense since it's pretty much what we do now, but it might be referring to the loss of the dispel magic ability for prot and ret.

    Blessings get condensed again as it looks like we will only have Might and Kings. PallyPower may no longer be needed. I wonder if the buffs are going to go raid-wide as well, since there will be so much less specialization. Rohan had mentioned that this could be awkward if there is only one paladin in the raid, but the druid's Mark of the Wild could be adjusted to provide the same benefit as Blessing of Kings making them essentially the same buff. Ghostcrawler actually proposes that as an obvious solution.

    Holy Shock being available to everyone is nice. It'll give prot and ret an emergency heal for themselves (being instant) without them having to burn Lay on Hands. It probably won't heal for much, but considering that healer mana is supposed to be an issue in Cataclysm it may be more desirable than ever for a hybrid to toss a heal on themselves if they can.

    New Talents and Talent Changes

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer.

  • We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.

  • Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I'm really not sure how the paladin defenses are holding ret back in arena, unless it's because Blizzard's afraid to give them better offense while their strong defense remains. And even that is a little funny because when I do arena the ret paladin is a popular first target to burst on, with the idea of forcing him to use his bubble early. When he bubbles, we switch targets, then when his bubble is gone we switch back. Making the bubble shorter might just make things easier. The comment about not being able to heal to full in the duration of the bubble sounds scary though.

    More PvP utility sounds good as well. My current 3s team is survival hunter, ret paladin, holy paladin (when we get to play *sigh*) and our strat is supposed to be to lockdown a healer and burst a dps (sometimes lock down a dps and burst the healer, depending on comp), but sometimes our ret paladin has to tell us he's just out of cooldowns and he can't do anything.

    Sacred Shield to 30 minutes. Good. One less buff to worry about renewing in the middle of a fight.

    I'm surprised Holy Light is going to be made the middle heal and then a new bigger heal would be added. Everyone is so used to thinking of it as the big expensive heal. It's going to be quite an adjustment to see Holy Light as being middle of the road, but I guess they don't want ret and prot to have access to the bigger heal, which is why it's going to be talented. Flash of Light is also going to be an expensive, fast heal now instead of a cheap efficient heal, to bring us in line with the rest of the healers. I'm not sure I like Beacon of Light being changed to only work with Flash though. We're not getting Healing Hands until level 83, and this will leave leveling holy paladins with very little in the way of multi-target healing until they're past done with WotLK content. No other healing class has this issue. Fortunately, Blizzard is still thinking about how to tweak Beacon so it's not set in stone.

    Spirit for mana regen was expected. It'll definitely feel funky for the first few weeks, but I'm sure we'll all adjust.

    Change to single-target vs. multi-target tanking rotations. Nice. I admit it's rather nice being able to mix it up as a bear. Now paladins can too. And this may be good for situations like Deathbringer Saurfang where the paladin has to refrain from doing AoE to avoid grabbing unwanted adds. Maybe there will be no more screaming that the paladin has to watch his AoE threat.

    And finally, yay, to no more charges for Holy Shield. I'm wondering if it'll become a passive always on aura or it will still have to be refreshed though. It's another button to push, sure, but it's weird to push a button every few seconds to maintain a mostly defensive ability (since the paladin has to be attacked for it to do any good).

    Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses


    Critical Healing Effect

    Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.


    Damage Reduction
    Block Amount

    Vengeance: This is the damage-received-to-attack-power conversion that all tanks share.

    Block Amount: We want to keep the kit of the paladin as a tank who blocks a lot. So by contrast, the warrior tank will sometimes get critical blocks, but the paladin will absorb more damage with normal blocks.


    Melee Damage
    Melee Critical Damage
    Holy Damage

    Holy Damage: Any attack that does Holy damage will have its damage increased.

    The masteries aren't really anything to write home about. They're very much in the vein of making you do what you want to do better, and first two for all the specs are pretty much what we've come to expect given what we've seen for other classes.

    Holy paladins will still be interested in critting, and with limited mana pools and the assumption that players will often be in an injured state, crit heals will mean a lot more. A crit heal will mean mana saved, because of the additional healing that won't need to be done, and not just because of the mana return from Illumination (assuming that talent stays).

    Paladins still get to be the block tank, thanks to Block Amount for prot. It's not really exciting, but very practical and in line with the spec.

    Ret, I'm a little less certain about. I thought that Blizzard had toned down the amount of holy damage that comes from ret's attacks, changing it to physical, so it seems this wouldn't apply to all their damage, but maybe that'll still be okay since they already have the generic Melee Damage that all melee dps are getting.

    All in all, I'm rather surprised there wasn't anything quite as earth-shattering as the blood tanking for DKs or loss of tree form for druids. There are definitely some quality of life issues being addressed, but not the overhaul that I thought. Of course we're being moved away from being tank healers, but really, what I'm feeling here is more refinement. Maybe this'll be the expansion where paladin performance won't feel like a yo-yo.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    [Paladin] While the Preview's Not Up

    I remember the first day I logged on Gillien after 3.0 landed and I found out that my action bars looked like swiss cheese. Judgements no longer consumed a seal and the old ability that was simply called Judgement was gone. Blessing of Light was gone. So was Blessing of Salvation, though it was now Hand of Salvation. Blessing of Protection was now Hand of Protection.

    I also had this funny new talent called Beacon of Light that was really irritating to refresh and of dubious worth to hear some of the forum pundits say. Some folks advised just using it for specific encounters where party damage was expected, like that stupid infernal in Arcatraz that dropped meteors on people's heads.

    Other things changed too, like prot paladins no longer worrying about spellpower weapons and actually benefiting from Strength.

    Suddenly as a Horde paladin I had Seal of Vengeance, and Alliance paladins got Seal of the Martyr. Seals depended on a mix of attack power and spellpower to do their damage, but even though this mix worked for the ret and prot paladins, the spellpower component ended up being too weak for a holy paladin trying to dps. Compared to a priest, shaman, or possibly even druid, the healing-focused paladin has to have some of the worst dps out there (though due to the plate we're not bad at soloing, it just takes a long time).

    Though I don't foresee myself ever giving up the moonkin, I'm intensely curious about what is going to happen to the paladin. It's extremely versatile class that just keeps getting tweaked over and over again. Spellpower gear for ret/prot to no spellpower gear. Talents get shifted around because holy goes too far down the ret tree and then too far down the prot tree. All three specs used to have Spiritual Attunement, but now prot has to talent for it. Dispelling magic is going to become a holy-only ability through talents.

    I rather like the fact that paladins have had a toolkit that can be used regardless of spec, I've even taunted as a holy paladin before (and not to be jerk). It's part of the fun of being a hybrid, being able to do certain functions without respecing. Need I mention my now-dead pastime of holy-tanking 5-mans?

    I have a suspicion that paladins will be undergoing a lot of changes again. Blizzard tweaks everybody between expansions, but it seems like paladins undergo revolutions every time.

    I was reading The Light and How to Swing It column yesterday, covering what the columnist expected would happen for Cataclysm, and it's really odd how differently we seem to feel about the class.

    The first thing he talks about, I would not be surprised to see come through, would be the three heal model, since Ghostcawler has brought it up before for shaman and priests. The three heal model would have a little heal to top someone off (Flash of Light), medium heal for majority of jobs (doesn't current exist), and big heal for when you really need it (Holy Light).

    Personally, it took a little getting used to when I was healing in Burning Crusade (when max rank Holy Light bombing was not the trend) to work with just two types of heal spells. Most paladins kept one or two middle-ranked Holy Lights around to conserve mana and for the slightly faster cast time. This was the middle heal. But we lost it in WotLK.

    So I could see it coming back, since Holy Light bombing would probably be too expensive. It'll probably be called Righteous Light or something silly to keep it in line with all the paladin ability names that have to use things like "light," "holy," "righteous," "hammer," and so on.

    I do, however, have to disagree with the columnist's prediction of the death of Divine Plea, though for different reasons. Chase Christian seems to think that holy paladins find it useless, and ignore it once they have two piece T10 and trinkets (he doesn't mention what those trinkets are), which I have trouble believing.

    The holy paladin in my raid uses DP, and so do I, and we both have two piece T10. I try to use DP in conjunction with two piece T10. Perhaps it's because we don't heal 25-mans, but Divine Plea is definitely useful. It's a good portion of why so many paladins stack intellect. It's not just to get more casts off.

    But, if Divine Plea dies, it will be because prot and ret will be getting a different mana regen mechanic and because holy in all likelihood will be getting a Meditation mastery like all the other healing specs have been. Blizzard has spoken about spreading it to all healers and there's no reason paladins should be an exception. As for what our regen stat will be… it'll be Spirit, like everyone else. I believe this was mentioned as far back as last year's Blizzcon when they announced mp5 was going away.

    Mr. Christian then goes on to lament the usefulness of Holy Shock and Sacred Shield (obviously not an arena player or two-healing 10-mans if Holy Shock "does a woeful job"). The improvement of Holy Shock for WotLK was fantastic. For much of Ulduar and Naxx I used it as a gauge of whether or not a holy paladin was decent player capable of using every spell in his or her toolbox. Anyone can sit in a corner and spam FoL or HL. HS requires thought.

    Sacred Shield isn't just for casting FoL either. It absorbs damage too. It might not be a priest shield, but it's still a shield for a class that has no HoTs, which means it buys a little breathing room for all the damage it absorbs. Looking at my last ICC World of Logs parse it contributed to 8%-12% of my effective healing, depending on the boss fight.

    I will say though, that the numbers may be a little off, because my last raid was on an older computer with a bad framerate, so I was not quite the healing machine I should have been. Had I better reaction time the percentage might have been lower since I would have gotten casts off faster, but who would argue with shaving off 2000-2500 damage ten times a minute? It might not be much when the tank is being hit for 40k, but those are usually special attacks or phases of the fight where the tank should be blowing cooldowns (or else something has gone horribly wrong).

    Looking back at that same ICC log at our bear tank, on average the largest hit he took from a boss on a run that covered Marrowgar to Valithria was 10k from Festergut. Granted, there's a lot of other damage going on besides melee from bosses in most of the ICC boss fights, and bosses attack faster than Sacred Shield can be refreshed, but it still shaves off damage every few seconds. Think of it as a HoT, except it's a periodic absorb instead of a heal. You wouldn't tell a resto druid her Rejuv is just there to improve her Nourish, would you? (Someone might get strangled if they did.)

    Sacred Shield is good in arena too, where the damage is lower and the average player health higher. Blunting attacks means more, especially if the other team has an MS effect, since SS isn't effected by it. I wish the ret paladin on my 3s team was better about spending the occasional GCD to refresh his own since every bit absorbed is less for me to worry about.

    Mr. Christian sounds like someone rather dissatisfied with being a paladin. (Maybe he really should be playing another class?) It's rather disheartening to hear from a paladin columnist who thinks we've been stuck with "the uninteresting game play that comes from basically using the same heals for five years" and hopes that Blizzard doesn't "make the same mistake that they did with Sacred Shield and Beacon of Light."


    I never played on Alliance, so my introduction to paladin-ship came midway through Burning Crusade when my guild at the time was having a crisis and I wanted a little alt to escape on. So I have little idea what it was like healing in vanilla. But I healed in TBC, and I know what it was like healing one target at a time with my two, occasionally three, different spells (Holy Shock was very expensive for what you got out of it).

    Beacon of Light was initially expensive, or seemed that way, and I had trouble remembering to keep it up, but became invaluable. The other paladin in my guild at the start of WotLK was enamored with the spell. She said it made two-healing Sapphiron possible (which we did very early on in WotLK). I found I liked it as well. Even though Beacon didn't take overheals back then, it let me heal the raid while also healing the tank. For 5-mans, as the only healer, it was even better. The only niggling issue I had was that Beacons didn't stack, so sometimes my Beacon would be overwritten by a different paladin if I was in a pug.

    But those issues were fixed. Beacons could stack and now overheals count.

    Learning to use Sacred Shield was also adjustment, especially since I only learned it at 80. I kept forgetting to use it and eventually rearranged my bars and keybinds to make it as convenient to get to as possible. Once I started using World of Logs, I noticed that it was often the fourth or fifth amount of healing done. It wasn't overwhelming, but it wasn't chump change either. I made it a point to keep Sacred Shield up.

    Paladin healing is still a lot of whack a mole, but that's a lot of what healing in a raid is. It's triage. You evaluate the situation, who needs to be healed, and you pick the tool for the job. Maybe it does have to involve Holy Light gunning (goodness knows ICC is the first raid I've ever done on my paladin where I felt obligated to HL spam), but that strat is completely different from TBC where paladins were prized for their mana efficiency and not the size of their heal bombs.

    I have fun playing a holy paladin. Maybe it's a limited toolkit, but it's an interesting one, and we don't have anything that drops into the field of just being useless. I remember talking with a priest friend about all the crazy heals his class had and he said that yeah, he had them, but in reality he only used about four of them. The rest didn't make sense for his spec or rarely made sense at all. And about four spells is right where the paladin toolkit is.

    For Cataclysm I think that paladins are likely to get a real AoE heal. It's the only thing in our toolkit we really lack. It might be on a long cooldown, and it probably won't be a HoT since Blizzard had stated before that they didn't then HoTs were very paladin-y. Our AoE might be something like a Tranquility where it's channeled. Maybe it'll come out from the Beacon so we can heal the tank and the melee nearby. Maybe it'll be centered around us. It hopefully won't be party based since those kinds of talents/abilities make raid leaders annoyed.

    I'm also holding out hope for the demise of spellpower plate, but I think last Blizzard said, they didn't have a solution for it. It just kills me when it drops in a raid and there are no holy paladins (and because I'm usually not on Gillien when it does!).

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    [Druid] Resto Musings

    I started to write my post about the druid masteries yesterday and found myself instead writing a post about tree druids, which isn't exactly a point of expertise of mine, so I cut it off and decided I should make a separate post for my leafy brethren.

    In the time since I read the Friday evening druid preview, I had the chance to chat with some other druids I know in game to get their takes on it and most of them seem a little baffled by the Tree of Life change. It's kind of been a given that druids shapeshift, after all. But not all of them were outraged.

    One of them, who wasn't particularly given to tree dancing (he was a very serious, game-face tree) was just puzzled, not exactly shouting thanks, but not bemoaning the loss of it either. The questions was more: why?

    I guess since I read blogs a lot, and most bloggers are quite tied to being trees, my view is a little skewed. Maybe there are a substantial number of players who don't really care either way. So I did some thinking about the history of resto druids.

    Back in the vanilla days, restos did not have any special form to call their own. They healed in caster form and that's all there was to it. (Well, except maybe casting Innervate on priests because goodness knows druids didn't raid if they didn't have Innervate for those priests!)

    Then TBC came along and Tree of Life was introduced. It had problems at first and not everyone liked it. Only hots could be casted in tree form and trees had to pop out for the occasional Healing Touch/Nature's Swiftness combo or to Remove Curse or Abolish Poison. Trees moved slower too. Nobody PvP-ed in tree form. It just didn't happen. I remember our trees popping out to caster form on Shade of Aran just to make sure they moved away from him in time.

    But after some tweaks, trees could cast more spells in form, pretty much all their healing and defensive utility spells. There isn't really a need to leave tree form anymore unless they want to help dps, which isn't what a healer signs up to do anyway. I don't think I've ever heard a tree druid complain about their inability to contribute to the raid's dps. I think I've heard more complaints from moonkin that they can't help spot heal without popping out of form.

    So the primary remaining issues that are "annoying" are 1) they can't be CCed as easily, being trees (PvP-only concern) and 2) the druid doesn't actually gain anything by going into tree form.

    1) can be dealt with just by removing polymorph immunity. While I've always liked the druid's inability to be polymorphed, it's not like I'd quit playing a druid over its loss. I don't face mages all that often.

    2) is a tougher monster. With ferals it's very easy to see what they gain in exchange for everything they lose. They get a whole new resource system (energy or rage) and a slew of new abilities that can only be used in form.

    Moonkin gain two raid-wide buffs associated with moonkin form (haste and crit aura), increased mana efficiency thanks to getting mana back from crits, and extra armor in exchange for the loss of all healing spells.

    Tree gain increased healing done aura, increased spell power, increased mana efficiency from reduced cost of hots, and increased armor. It's a little less than moonkin, but the parallels are almost the same.

    With balance druids, they just get better at what they do when they become moonkin, but becoming a moonkin doesn't make them better than a mage, and a balance druid outside of moonkin form is less than a mage, though they can certainly help heal when desireable (ex: Dreamwalker).

    Resto druids similarly become better at what they do when they become trees, and being a tree doesn't make them a better healer than a priest or a shaman. A tree druid out of form will be less effective as a healer, but they could still toss out a few Starfires if they need to help dps down a boss. I still think that a resto druid out of form will out-dps a holy paladin.

    Mechanics-wise, both trees and moonkin give up some of their base caster abilities to become the equivalent of a healer or caster dps of another class. It doesn't seem right that trees would be singled out, and if anything, I think there are more moonkin who would like to stop looking like a ridiculous owlbear than there are trees who want to be casters. Not that I want Blizzard to take away moonkin form either!

    Perhaps what's really needed is mechanic gain for being in tree form. Cats and bears do completely different things when in form. Perhaps, in retrospec, a spell like Wild Growth could only be used in tree. Or trees could have situational cooldowns that are uniquely tree-like (ex: Taking Root - Temporarily immobilizes the player while something really good happens in exchange).

    The thing is... the cat's out of the bag and it's going to be very hard to put it back. After two expansions of having restos become trees it's messing with the status quo, and what has been a core feature of the spec.

    To be honest, trees will be gaining a lot by not having to be in form, and I could see potential cries for a nerf bat because of it. It's not so much that they can dps while keeping the same level of healing. It's really because I play arena as a healer, but the single most annoying spell a druid can use is Cyclone.

    If there's no tree form, those restos won't even lose any of their healing capability to cast it. No mana loss switching in and out. No loss of spellpower because they're not in tree form. Cyclone will be less punishing for them to cast than ever.

    Of course they won't have the increased armor from tree form either, so maybe that'll be something.

    In the meantime, I've started playing my baby resto druid again. Dinged 36. It would be nice to try getting her up to 50 so I can join in the annual Arbor Day screenshot parade hosted by one of our fabulous tree druid bloggers, but I'm not sure I can level fast enough for that.

    Keeva made a nice poster for the Pro-Tree movement. It's too big to use as a sig on forums, but speaks very clearly about how she and the other trees feel.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    [Druid] Cataclysm Mastery Preview

    This is a continuation from yesterday's post regarding the druid class preview for Cataclysm. Yesterday's post was getting long so I figured I'd continue with the mastery bonuses today.


  • Spell Damage

  • Spell Haste

  • Eclipse

  • Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance.

    Well, I was right that we would get Spell Damage for one of our masteries, but we got Spell Haste instead of Spell Crit for our second one. I admit I'm a little surprised by it, since this runs counter to the majority of the casters and Wrath has never really played nice with haste, but most of the time, haste and crit can be taken in equal amounts, so maybe we'll just look for more crit on our gear to balance it out.

    Having Eclipse be our third mastery is a little disappointing, if only because it's not "new," but I'm a little curious what this UI is going to look like. I currently have a mental picture of one of those tower bars in WG or EotS where there's Horde and Alliance color blocks on either end and the bar in the middle goes one way or the other depending on who's capping, except for moonkin I'm picturing a sun on one end and a crescent moon on the other.

    If we're supposed to maintain the balance between the two, what's to stop someone from just twisting spells IS/MF/W/SF/W/SF/IS/MF/etc? Or would that result in no buff at all?

    I also wonder how this will make it less random. Will the bar just always be up?

    Feral (Cat)

  • Melee Damage

  • Melee Critical Damage

  • Bleed Damage

  • Feral (Bear)

  • Damage Reduction

  • Vengeance

  • Savage Defense

  • Bleed Damage and Savage Defense: Feral druids will receive two sets of passive bonuses depending on whether the druid is in cat or bear form. Bleed Damage will be improved for cats. Savage Defense is the current bear mechanic for converting crits into damage absorption and will be improved for bears.

    Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn’t fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character’s unbuffed health. For boss encounters we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Feral tree and the druid is in bear form -- these values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Feral tree and are in bear form, so you won’t see Balance, Restoration, or Feral druids in cat form running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today -- there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so the Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is that all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

    Cats get increased Melee Damage as expected, but they don't go down the Melee Haste route of the enhance shaman, fury warriors, or combat rogues. Rather, they get Melee Critical Damage like assassination rogues. The third mastery is the boring but practical increased Bleed Damage, which pretty much means: Don't forget to refresh Mangle, not that you ever did forget, did you?

    The first two bear bonuses, Damage Reduction and Vengeance, aren't really a surprise since the other tanks had them. Savage Defense being moved to a mastery is though. I'm just not sure why. It already scales pretty nicely with crit and attack power, but supposedly it's going to be made "better."

    I admit I'm more interested in seeing what the tweaks to cat rotation and additions to bear tanking will be like than the masteries themselves.


  • Healing

  • Meditation

  • HoT Scale Healing

  • HoT Scale Healing: HoTs will do increased healing on more wounded targets. The mechanic is similar to that of the Restoration shaman, but with HoTs instead of direct heals. In Cataclysm, we anticipate druids using a greater variety of their spells so there is a distinction between healing and HoT healing.

    Healing and Meditation were givens again, after seeing the other healer previews. HoT Scale Healing is nice though, if only because hots are better at providing a cushion for injuried players than bringing them back from the brink of death.

    One of my favorite things in arena is when we catch a resto druid druid and his dps unawares, so the druid doesn't have a chance to hot him up before the kill. A dps could be maddeningly close to dead and not die if he has a full suite of hots on him. But if he doesn't have anything and the HT+NS combo is on cooldown that's a dead dps.

    Of course, this means that resto druids will now be even more annoying in arena.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    [Druid] Preview's Up! Changes Are... Interesting...

    Well, some of what I expected came true. Some didn't. I'll just go through everything though as the preview brought it up.

    New Druid Abilities

    Thrash (Level 81): Thrash deals damage and causes all targets within 10 yards to bleed every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. The intent here is to give bears another button to hit while tanking. Talents will affect the bleed, such as causing Swipe to deal more damage to bleeding targets. 5-second cooldown. 25 Rage.

    Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown. The goal of this ability is to give both bears and cats a little more situational group utility. 3-minute cooldown. No cost.

    Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.

    As a sometimes bear druid, there's a lot to like about getting Thrash. It's another multi-target attack spell, will buff damage from Swipe with talents, and give us another button to press to prevent multi-target/ heroic tanking from getting too monotonous. The name makes me think of sharks in the water, but... maybe that's just me.

    Stampeding Roar seems kind of weird to me, since it sounds like the bear/cat is scaring their party members into running faster. While I can think of instances where this would be useful, it just doesn't like something you do to people to you like. (Unless it's angry feral raid leader who wants people to stop dying in the fire.)

    Wild Mushroom... made me laugh, because... well... I'm a getting a magic mushroom. It's an absurd spell to give an already absurd-looking creature. I'm sure there will be jokes about moonkin and their magic mushrooms, but if any spec could get away with having those, it would probably be us since we're already ridiculously plush owlbears.

    I just have odd mental pictures of myself detonating mushrooms around the corners of dungeons... Engineering done moonkin style?

    Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • All heal-over-time spells (HoTs) will benefit from crit and haste innately in Cataclysm. Hasted HoTs do not reduce their duration, but instead add additional HoT ticks. Haste will also benefit Energy generation while in cat form.

  • Unlike the other healers, Restoration druids will not be receiving any new spells. They have plenty to work with already, and our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation.

  • We want to add tools to cat form and depth to bear form. If a Feral cat is going to fill a very similar niche to that of a rogue, warrior or Enhancement shaman, it needs a few more tools -- primarily a reliable interrupt. Bears need to be pushing a few more buttons just so the contrast between tanking and damage-dealing is not so steep.

  • Barkskin will be innately undispellable.

  • We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss.

  • Druids will lose Abolish Poison with the dispel mechanics change, but Restoration druids will gain Dispel Magic (on friendly targets) as a talent. All druids can still remove poisons with Cure Poison and remove curses with Remove Curse.

  • Oddly enough, they mention that hots will benefit from haste and crit, but not dots. Oversight? Though moonkin aren't as dot heavy as a warlock or shadow priest, we dot more than say an ele shaman or a mage. It seems poor to not give it to us. [Edit: Ghostcrawler clarifies in a later post that dots will be effected.]

    As far as the resto changes do, I like the toolkit as-is. I don't think we need another healing spell. Mind, I've never raid healed as resto, but with three kinds of hots, a quick heal, a super big heal, and an AoE hot I think we have a pretty good toolkit, and now restos will be able to dispel magic. I also like that all druids will keep the ability to cure poison and remove curses, and we won't be like the paladins who are losing their cleansing abilities if they aren't the healing spec.

    For the feral end, I'm looking forward to get a reliable interupt. It's kind of annoying that cats fill a rogue-like niche, except that we can't interupt. I've been on ToC 25-man runs with my feral and have been told to help with interupts because the rogues in the group were failing, but I can't reliably do it because I need to make use I have at least one combo point up and it's on the GCD.

    Buffing Mangle (cat) will be sweet too. Most fights it's possible to get around to the back of the boss, but sometimes it's hard, either due to bad tanking, the boss not cooperating, or there's a void zone/fire/slime puddle right where I would like to be standing. Admittedly though, I'd like this the most for PvP. Other players are less considerate about letting a cat druid Shred them from behind if they can help it.

    New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Tree of Life is changing from a passive talent to a cooldown-based talent, similar to Metamorphosis. Mechanically, it feels unfair for a druid to have to give up so much offense and utility in order to be just as good at healing as the other classes who are not asked to make that trade. We are exploring the exact benefit the druid gets from Tree of Life. It could strictly be better healing, or it could be that each heal behaves slightly different. You also will not be able to be banished in Tree of Life form (this will probably be true of Metamorphosis as well). Additionally, we would like to update the Tree of Life model so that it feels more exciting when you do decide to go into that form. Our feeling is that druids rarely actually get to show off their armor, so it would be nice to have at least one spec that looked like a night elf or tauren (and soon troll or worgen) for most of the time.

  • We want to make the Feral cat damage rotation slightly more forgiving. We do not want to remove what druids like about their gameplay, but we do want to make it less punishing to miss, say, a Savage Roar or Rake. The changes here will be on par with increasing the duration of Mangle like we did for patch 3.3.3.

  • Balance druids will have a new talent ability called Nature’s Torrent, which strikes for either Nature or Arcane damage depending on which will do the most damage (or possibly both), and moves the Eclipse meter more (details below). The improved version of Nature’s Torrent also reduces the target's movement speed. 10-second cooldown.

  • Restoration druids will have a new talent called Efflorescence, which causes a bed of healing flora to sprout beneath targets that are critically healed by Regrowth.

  • We plan on giving Feral cats and bears a Kick/Pummel equivalent -- an interrupt that is off the global cooldown and does no damage. We feel like they need this utility to be able to fill the melee role in a dungeon or raid group, and to give them more PvP utility.

  • We want to make sure Feral and Balance druids feel like good options for an Arena team. They need the tools to where you might consider a Feral druid over an Arms warrior, or a Balance druid over a mage or warlock. Remember that the PvP landscape will probably look pretty different for Cataclysm with a focus on rated, competitive Battlegrounds.

  • Okay, now for the part that has the resto druids up in arms, and with good reason! Tree of Life is going to change into a cooldown! No more grumpy, hotting trees running around? I don't think the player base is going to go for it. Ever since Tree of Life came out the restos have really made that shape their own.

    The argument about having at least one spec that can show off armor is pretty weak to me. I don't think anyone is going to choose a spec based off that, and restos like being trees.

    I've never heard a resto complain they're giving up a lot to be who they are. Truthfully, a bored resto druid who wants to help dps a boss would probably outdps bored holy paladin trying to do the same (because goodness knows I need a good set of circumstances to break 1200 dps on Gillien). Sure they have to drop tree form, but they can. Restos are still competitive in arena as well, popping in and out of tree form as needed, just as any other druid might with their own shapes.

    I will say this. I have a baby resto druid that's now level 36. If it looks like this Tree of Life change is going through, I'm going to make sure I level her far enough that I can chain run some instances as a tree before that goes away. I like the trees.

    The rest... is okay. Ferals will get some PvP love, hopefully (I want to get back into PvP with Darkker for Cataclysm, especially with rated battlegrounds). So will balance druids.

    It's too early to tell exactly what Nature's Torrent or Efflorescence are going to do other than add some more damage (perhaps as another nuke?) or more healing (maybe additional hot on top of the regular hot?).

    I'll cover the masteries tomorrow.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    [Druid] Well, the Class Preview Isn't Up Yet, But…

    The druid class preview isn't up yet, but after seeing the warlock and priest previews there are at least a couple things we can expect for moonkin.

    1) Improved Faerie Fire will no longer effect hit.

    Why? Because Misery won't. The priest preview says that Blizzard doesn't want people to have to plan their gear based on who they have in the raid (I wonder if that means the draenei racial hit will be going away too?), and while being a moonkin this has never affected me, I know warlocks and mages who kept two sets of gear, or a trinket like Dying Curse, to swap in and out depending on whether or not they had a moonkin or shadow priest with them.

    Earlier Blizzard has said something about moonkin getting a spirit to hit conversion so we shouldn't have to worry about having to make up hit by grabbing cloth gear or putting points into our talent trees. Spirit won't scale with buffs like Blessing of Kings anymore, and the priest preview says Divine Spirit is going away, so we shouldn’t have to worry about suddenly getting a lot of hit we don't need after the raid buffs up. Mark of the Wild won't affect it either.

    2) Dots will automatically benefit from crit and haste.

    With both warlocks and shadow priests getting this, there's no reason to believe that moonkin won't either. The way dots are going to work for those classes is that haste will allow more ticks of the dot to get in rather than shortening the duration of the spell because the dot ticks faster. This means dots won't have to be refreshed any more often than they would with zero haste. Moonkin dots were never affected in this manner, but resto druid hots could be through the Rapid Rejuvenation glyph.

    This might also prevent some of the issues higher level moonkin are seeing in ICC (and formerly saw in Sunwell) where the power of their dots vastly diminished as their gear improved, to the point where it was debatable (or not even worth it) to keep dots in their rotations.

    What else might be store for us?

    We can expect one of our mastery abilities to be spell damage. Warlocks get this across all three specs, and so do shadow priests and ele shaman. We'll probably get spell crit as our second mastery bonus, since shadow priests, ele shaman, and two of the three warlock specs do.

    The last mastery bonus will probably be something unique to us, since each of the warlock specs gets a bonus based on what their tree focus is (shadow dots for afflication, fire damage for destro) and the ele shaman have the very specific Elemental Overload. Given our penchant for changing forms, I wonder if it will be tied to something about being a moonkin, so the bonus won't apply if we're currently in another shape.

    I haven't a clue what we're going to see for the feral and restoration trees, aside from masteries that can be gleaned from the other class previews.

    One of the feral masteries will surely be Vengeance for tanking purposes (the warrior preview says all tanking specs will get it), possibly Damage Reduction since prot warriors got it, and possibly Melee Damage since arms/fury warriors and enhance shaman have it. I seem to remember Blizzard posting something to the effect of "if in cat form, then these mastery bonuses and if in bear form than these mastery bonuses" but I can't seem to find the post at the moment.

    Oh here we go… thank you Kalon for the link on your blog.

    Ferals will have passive bonuses that say Cat: melee damage done, Bear: damage reduction. For death knights we have a different plan in mind that we’re not quite ready to discuss.

    So if Melee Damage and Damage Reduction are paired together as the one set of feral form trade-offs, I wonder what cats will get paired with Vengeance. Maybe Melee Haste? Fury warriors and enhance shaman get that. Armor Penetration is also a possibility. Arms warriors get that. And then the third ability will be probably something cat specific and bear specific, hopefully with a flavorful name that makes it sound like we're chewing on our enemies.

    Resto druid masteries will likely mirror the healing priest and resto shaman masteries with Healing and Meditation being the first two masteries, for more healing power and for mana regen, and then something druid-specific for the third one. Since druids are commonly considering to be the hot masters, I'd take a stab at it having something to do with hots.

    It would be pretty cool if the resto mastery worked like the new warlock dots where if you reapply you don't clip any remaining ticks; you just add to the duration of the spell. Hots could keep rolling for forever!

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    The Moment is Fast Approaching

    My 10-man strict guild raids just twice a week, Saturdays and Mondays, so at times we're a little behind the curve. Everyone else hits bosses first, gets their achievements first, gets to wave their fancy gear in front of us first (okay, maybe just's a couple folks we know, and they're 25-man raiders waving around gear we'll never get).

    But the thing is, we get there. We don't spend a whole lot of time raiding, and sometimes if we're missing someone we just don't raid at all, but we make progress.

    A couple of our main raiders are having overtime issues at work this week, throwing their Mondays in doubt, so I decided that it might be worthwhile to make as many progression attempts on Saturday as possible, while we had the advantage of having a full guild raid. We could always pug the last spot (we have eleven raiders on our roster) for the farm content on Monday.

    Since we'd gotten Sindragosa to a not-too-shabby 18% last week, I really wanted to make the most of our momentum and the bulk of the guild agreed. We cleared Lower Spire, one-shotted Dreamwalker (that 10% raid buff is insane, we healed her so fast the fight was over before we knew it), and then faced down Sindragosa, who had been making frozen pancakes out of us for the past two weeks.

    We refined our strategy for the ice tomb placements and finally, with only one dps, one healer, and one tank still standing we got her down. It was pretty epic.

    My only regret is that we didn't get her down before the 10% buff went into effect. I think we could have done it, since we were still making mistakes and no attempt was flawless, but I'll take it. You know why?

    We're gonna see Arthas on Monday.

    I know. We still have to clear Plagueworks and Crimson Halls. But those shouldn't take us more than a couple hours, if that. That means we'll still have at least an hour to work on Lich King.

    Also, after raid last night, I talked with a former guildie of mine who recently came back to the game. He's has negligible ICC experience, but heals like a monster, and he's agreed to be on standby with us on Monday in case both our overtime folks can't make it.

    This means we should have a full batch of ten on Monday. And Arthas is waiting...

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    April Fool's With a Personal Touch

    Blizzard's April Fools jokes are generally a good chuckle, but this year's really had a personal touch with the armory! Today, everyone is a tuskarr, and I admit I have to wonder about the amount of work that had to go into this.

    Generally all the armor has to be fitted and refitted to each race so that it looks all right. Yes, you can just stretch the graphic, but that sometimes results in things looking a little funny. In the case of this joke, it looks like the graphics were just stretched, but most of the time they're serviceable enough. These are tuskarr after all, and anything put of them will probably look rather dumpy.

    So, without further ado... I present, Tuskarr Hana!

    The pants look stretched a little tight on her for leather, but the strangest thing has got to be the moustache! Perhaps female tuskarr sport them as well? The shoulders look all right though. She also, oddly enough, has a shield.

    And let's see how Tuskarr Gillien fared!

    Isn't that a nice tuskarr casting pose? (Do tuskarr even cast anything in game? I can't remember.) You can see where the stretching the graphic didn't work too well on him. That's a really odd... um... bulge in his pants. You'd think his tabard would have come down far enough to cover it, but... hm... not sure what to say about that.

    I guess if tuskarr were paladins, this is what they'd look like. He's also sporting the tuskarr shield, which I'm guessing all the models do. Even my guildie's hunter has one.

    I didn't snap any screens of them with their weapons, but the weapons are scaled ridiculously small. My paladin's mace looks like a toy hammer when held by his tuskarr alter ego.