Friday, October 29, 2010

The State..... two weeks later

Two weeks have passed since the 4.0.1 patch hit us. Changes are made to most classes, and paladins are not an exception.
So... are we at a better state now than two weeks ago? Well, some of my initial concerns have been addressed atleast.


The rotation is still very random, and it seems like Blizzard intends to keep it this way.
Ret damage was low, so they buffed several of our abilities. But numbers never really concern me, since they are easy to change.

Retribution is in the same place as two weeks ago.


I was concerned about mana regen for holy paladins (at 85, at 80 nobody seems to have any mana issues). Blizzard added even more mana regen to Seal of Insight, in the form of 15% of the paladins base mana being regained when unleashing its judgement.

I complained about Holy Radiance only having a 10 yard range. It was buffed to 20 yards (which in turns seem to make it slightly TOO good). Edit: And yes, it has been nerfed.

Light of Dawn is still a situational heal, which requires the raid to group up. Most raiders are used to spreading out as much as possible during fights, so the need to group up to get healed will take some getting used to.

Word of Glory was buffed for Holy paladins, since it was too weak. Actually, ALL holy paladin healing spells were buffed. Again, numbers tweaking is easy to do.

Holy is in a better place than two weeks ago.


The buff to Crusader Strike made it better for single target than our AoE move Hammer of the Righteous. For a while, tankadins used more or less the same rotation on single target as they did on multiple target. The buff changed that at least.

I was concerned about our ramp-up time. We need to build up three Holy Power before being able to hit the monsters hard enough for them to notice. Blizzard will address this by making Divine Plea generate three Holy Power when used. This means that tankadins can start a fight with three Holy Power every two minutes. This is a good change.

The prot rotation is still "939". It's not harder than the old "969", which, even though it was "easy", was an elegant and smooth rotation. "939" leaves a little bit of wiggle-room, since not 100% of our global cooldowns are used (but pretty darn close).

I was concerned about Grand Crusader. Our Avenger's Shield ends up low on our priority list, which means that we mostly ignore this proc, and just use our frisbee when it fits into our rotation. In AoE fights, the proc is more useful, since (unglyphed) the frisbee hits three targets in the face. Blizzard has stated that they will in some way buff the proc, since it is their intention to make it our signature proc.

Word of Glory is still a concern. I read about tankadins getting huge heals off when they have massive Vengeance stacks. This is broken, and will be fixed. Word of Glory is not supposed to scale with the attack power provided by Vengeance.
Blizzard is buffing Word of Glory for Holy, but keeping it as a modest heal for ret and prot.

I see the use of Word of Glory, but I still find it underwhelming. Compared to the self-healing on my death knight (Death Strike, Rune Tap, Bloodworms, etc), Word of Glory is really lackluster. And it still requires me to build up three Holy Power before it is strong enough to be noticed.

Of course, there wouldn't be patches and hotfixes without paladin nerfs!

Our blocking will be nerfed. As soon as I had installed the patch, I went to reforge my tanking gear. With very little effort, Arnax was block-capped (102.4% combined miss-avoidance-block). I know that ratings will suffer when we get to 85, but that was just ridiculous. Raid buffed, it turned out I had TOO much Mastery. When the block cap is reached, Mastery turns into complete crap for protection paladins (is there any other class that has a problem like this?).
Blizzard's solution to this was to nerf both Holy Shield (from 15% to 10%) and Mastery (from 3% per point to 2.25% per point).
Edit: I read the Holy Shield change wrong. Holy Shield no longer increases block chance, but increases the amount of damage blocked. So tankadins lost 15% block chance, but gained 10% block "value."

Blizzard also nerfed our Shield of the Righeous. It now scales a lot less with attack power (from 120% to 60%, ouch), but gets a bigger base damage. The issue they are solving is the massive damage that can be reached with full stacks of Vengeance up. I know some tanks got a hard-on when seeing 100k+ crits on Festergut, but that was obviously broken.

Our main damage reduction cooldown Guardian of Ancient Kings will also get nerfed (from 60% damage reduction to 50%). With a nerf both to our block mechanic and our main damage reduction cooldown, tankadin survivability just took a hit.

Protection is still on a rollercoaster ride, but is probably at about the same state as two weeks ago.

TL;DR Blizzard is still tuning paladins, and the tuning won't stop until we hit 85 and they see real numbers from a larger population than on beta. Holy paladins got buffed. Retribution paladins got slightly buffed. Protection paladins got mostly nerfed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

State of the Paladin

Last night, I was enjoying the calm before the storm, flying on my Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher across the land, and contemplating what was about to come.

Like everone else, I look forward to Cataclysm, albeit not as much as I looked forward to The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. For some reason, those previous expansions seemed more exciting to me. Maybe I'm just getting tired of the game?

In both previous expansions, paladins were changed a bit, but that was absolutely nothing compared to what will happen in 4.0.

Very late in the development cycle of Cataclysm, Blizzard introduced a new resource for paladins: Holy Power. It is very obvious they introduced this to make retribution rotations more "involving" and "interesting", so that good paladins would distinguish themselves from bad ones.

The way things look right now, the day before the changes go live, it seems Blizzard has failed. I'm convinced that paladins will get major overhauls in future content patches to make this new design work well. Because now, it looks like Blizzard is trying to push a square peg into a round hole.

Now, you need to take my QQ with a grain of salt. I have not been playing on the beta or the PTR (which almost wouldn't matter, since there has been changes to paladins in every build that affects rotations and spell choices).

I won't go into details describing changes and new spells and so on. That has already been explained by better people than myself all over the blogosphere. I'm just going to make some general comments.


Paladins got a new resource system so that retribution would be "harder" to play well. In their tweeking and nob-turning during the last month, Blizzard has managed to screw that up.
Initially, the idea was that Holy Power would work somewhat like combo points do for rogues and kitties: One uses a spammable ability to build up combo points and then spend them on a finishing move, but with two big differences: The combo points [Holy Power] are bound to the paladin and not its target, and the spammable ability that stacks the combo points has a cooldown (and is thus not truly spammable). Just like a rogue, the paladin is now supposed to
(1) stack combo points [Holy Power],
(2) keep Slice and Dice [Inquisition] up, and
(3) slam-dunk a finishing move like Eviscerate [Templar's Verdict] with as many combo points [Holy Power] as possible.

Blizzard also introduced some more procs to make the rotation more "interesting".

So far, so good.

But in their tweeking they have made the generating of Holy Power almost completely random. There are procs that give more Holy Power, and procs that make the paladin use finishing moves without needing Holy Power. Blizzard has managed to make the retribution rotation a priority list that depends on several procs that are completely random.

In my world "random" means that skill has very little to do with things. If you are lucky, and press the right buttons, good for you. If you are unlucky, too bad. No pew-pew for you.
And therein lies Blizzard's failure with the new retribution rotation.


Mana regen has been nerfed for all healers, and for a historically spamming class like the paladin, that will hurt. Divine Plea has been nerfed so hard it's useless, and suddenly, paladins have the worst mana regen of all healers. Congrats!

Paladins get loads of new healing spells, including a crappy aoe HoT (with a 10 yard radius, yey!), and a situational frontal cone heal.

But Beacon of Light is still imba, right? Well... no. But it is still useful.
I am in no way an expert on holy paladins, but it seems there will be two ways of healing with a paladin in 4.0:
(1) heal the beaconed target directly and quickly get Holy Power that you can spend on a free heal, or
(2) don't heal the beaconed target directly and use Holy Shock as your Holy Power generator to get a free heal.
With low mana regen, free heals are teh sex.

Is Holy Power well implemented for Holy Paladins? Maybe. With mana being valuable, a second resource to use instead of mana for "free" heals will be nice. Is it enough? Well, in any case, paladins will not be mindlessly spamming one single heal all night long anymore, and that is probably a good thing.


Then we come to the redheaded stepchild paladin spec: Protection. Too bad this is the spec I've preferred for several years, eh?

The idea of making tankadins use different abilities for single target and aoe tanking is good, and something that I have missed on my paladin. Being forced to cleave and consecrate all the time to build threat was not a good design.

But.... forcing tanks to tank with combo points is just lame. There. I said it. Holy Power (as it is implemented right now) sucks for tanks.
With this combo points system, I need to first build up three holy power before I can hit anything hard enough to make them notice. And the only way to build up Holy Power is with Crusader Strike (or Hammer if aoe), which, up until last week, was on a 4.5 second cooldown. I also need to cast a finishing move to get my Holy Shield up (should I waste Holy Power early to get my shield up, or can I wait until I can use all three Holy Power?).

This is a big change for tankadins. Before, we had the advantage of always starting with a full "rage bar" (a.k.a. the blue rage bar), and could run into a fight able to hurt stuff right away. Then Blizzard slowly started to nerf paladin burst damage due to PvP QQ. So we needed to wait for some time to build stacks on the target, and our judgement hit like a wet noodle.

With Holy Power, this gets worse. The tankadin runs in, starts building Holy Power, starts stacking debuffs on the target, and after three Holy Power finally can slam a shield in the mob's face. That used to be 3x4.5 = 13.5 seconds into the fight. Not good.

Blizzard has claimed that the tankadin rotation has been too easy. The "969" rotation is mindless and could be performed by a trained monkey (yes, because the bear rotation is soooooo complex, right?). So they decided to introduce Crusader Strike to tankadins, and then, slightly later, the amazing concept of Holy Power.

With the new abilities, the tankadins of the world started to create a new rotation. And the tankadins were not happy. There were holes in the rotation big enough to drive a tauren and his six buddies through. Theorycrafters calculated that there would be 6 empty global cooldowns per minute. Tankadins would not have any buttons free to press at any given time like they did in the golden days (yesterday, that is). It was an uproar on forums. Ghostcrawler was called all kinds of names. And Blizzard caved in, with the brilliant solution of lowering the cooldown on Crusader Strike (and Hammer) to 3 seconds (but only for protection paladins).

Five minutes later, tankadins realized that their rotation with the new change turned into an even easier and more mindless rotation than the old "969". We now have the "939" rotation, where we spam Crusader Strike every other global cooldown and fill in the gaps with Judgement, Avenger's Shield, and Holy Wrath.

This change also made our "signature" proc: Grand Crusader, utterly useless. Since all this proc does is reset the cooldown of Avenger's Shield, and since Avenger's Shield sits so low on our priority list, nobody will care if this procs or not. Bad design is bad design. I expect a change. Hopefully soon (TM).

My last complaint is our so-called "emergency heal". Blizzard expects us to use Word of Glory as a self-heal when needed. They have even introduced talents that boost the spell, and even the potential to create a damage reduction shield from it. The problem is, as always: it requires Holy Power to be used.
We need to sacrifice a truck load of threat to use it, but that is probably a necessary trade-off. For a while, Word of Glory healed for so little is was pathetic. Then Blizzard made the spell scale with attack power and spell power, and the heal was actually noticed on the tank's health bar.
But the big problem is: How can an "emergency heal" be based on the tank having three holy power stacks on him? The Holy Power requirement means that the tankadin needs to plan up to 10 seconds ahead before casting the self-heal. Anyone else than me see a problem with this? How often can you plan an emergency heal 10 seconds in advance?

Anyways.... I will download the patch, install it, and relearn my class. In a week or so, I will know if the concerns listed above still are true when I've had some hands-on experience with the new changes.

Some changes are good, but the mechanics of our rotation and self-heal is poorly designed. I hope that is something that can be fixed without too much fuss, and that we won't have to wait too long for it to be fixed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm still here.... honest!

More than a month has past since my last post. That is, of course, unfortunate, but I have had loads to do at work lately, and since that is what pays the bills, blogging has been down-prioritized to a level where it competes with mowing the lawn and cleaning out the garage.

My lawn looks like a jungle, and there is hardly room for my car in the garage. So I'll just give a short update on what's going on in the game for me.

We have 8 out of 12 heroic encounters down in ICC25. Lady Deathwhisper, Putricide, Sindragosa, and Lich King are still up. Lady was our goal this week, but it didn't work out.

One of the guild's 10-man groups are working on heroic Arthas. The group I run with has had some problems with signups, but we are at 9/12 hardmodes (Putricide, Sindragosa, and LK left).

My casual ICC10 is working on normal mode Lich King.

There has been some minor leaks from the Cataclysm Alpha, but nothing to be especially excited about.

And we all know that the only thing that really matters is: What will female worgen look like?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paladin Class Preview

The paladin preview is upon us!

Short version: "Holy paladins get a new big heal and Beacon of Light will be nerfed. Retribution and Protection will get more complicated rotations since they obviously are faceroll specs. Any exact details are not available at this moment. Please hold."

Paladins don't seem to be getting that interrupt or gap closer we've been asking for, and that sucks.
Holy paladins will get a half-assed AoE healing spell, but seem to be stuck in the single-target nuke heal niche.

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.
For protection, this is our version of the warrior's Shockwave. This is a good thing, since tankadins currently lack snap AoE aggro. It also gives Holy an AoE damage spell. I wonder what kind of cooldown this spell has, since I assume it won't be spammable. Also, how long will the targets be blinded, and will damage break the blind?

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.
It doesn't say anything about spec restrictions, so I assume all three specs will be able to use this spell. I also assume it only scales with spell power, so it will be ridicilously weak for non-holy paladins. I'm sure it will have a VERY short range, so it will only be healing the people standing on top of you. So this is Blizzard's AoE heal gift to paladins?

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).
Retribution gets their own Gargoyle. Holy gets a smart heal. Protection gets another damage reduction cooldown. I'm pretty sure the damage reduction won't last a full 30 seconds. For a tanking cooldown, 3 minutes is a bit long. Maybe a glyph will shorten the 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.
Holy paladins get another damage ability. Protection paladins get another single-target damage ability. Retribution paladins hopefully get something sexier than the current lame strike.

  • Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.
The dispel changes affect all classes that can dispel. It's more or less a nerf to all non-healers, which means that retribution and protection paladins will get a weaker Cleanse.

  • 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.
I like the intention Blizzard has here, but I'm not sure it's enough. Paladin buffing is annoying (not as annoying as it used to be but still annoying). Merging Might and Wisdom is a good choice, since buffing druids, shammies, and paladins sometimes could give you grey hairs.
But what happens to Blessing of Sanctuary, since it is not mentioned here?

  • Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.
In the first post, it seemed that Holy Shock would only keep the healing part across specs. But later comments from Ghostcrawler indicate that it will still do damage as well. This would give retribution and protection paladins a new instant ranged damage spell. Didn't Blizzard nerf instant Exorcism because it was considered OP in PvP? And now they give us an instant ranged damage spell back?
Actually, Holy Shock might just replace Exorcism altogether. If it is an instant heal/damage spell, it would be identical to an Art of War proc for a ret paladin (either an instant Flash of Light or an instant Exorcism). I don't see ret paladins having BOTH Holy Shock and Art of War FoL/Exorcism.
For tankadins, it means another single target damage spell, and also another ranged spell to pickup runaway adds with. Plus an instant heal if needed.

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.
Everytime paladins QQ about how bad their performance is in Arena, or how OP other classes are at the moment, the immediate answer is: "So what? U haf ur bubblez, nab!11!!1!!"
Blizzard haven't wanted to touch the bubble, since they believe it's a signature spell in the paladin arsenal.
Now they are playing with the idea of reducing the duration of the bubble by a couple of seconds, so that a paladin won't be able to heal back to full health before it fades.
The only time I use my bubble as a tank is when I clear stacks of nasty debuffs, and I do it with a cancelaura macro. I only need a half-a-second long bubble :)
But I understand that this is purely a PvP balancing act.

  • 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.
Blizzard thinks retribution is a faceroll spec and wants to make it more complicated.

  • 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.
A 30 minute Sacred Shield sounds just like a new Blessing to me (with the caveat that it can only be used on one target). I'm not sure how this change would make a holy paladin a better group healer though...

  • 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.
Like paladins NEED a bigger heal, right? Seems they will tone down Holy Light to a "normal" heal and add a new big heal.
But the big thing here is the part with Beacon of Light. Will it really only work with Flash of Light, the spell Blizzard states will be more expensive and rather weak?
Later clarifications on this indicate that Blizzard still haven't decided what to do with Beacon of Light yet. All they know is that it needs to be changed (i.e. nerfed).

  • Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.
We already knew that.

  • 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.
"Paladin tanks need more complicated rotations because they are a faceroll spec." So we will get a bunch of new abilities that we need to use? And two new cooldowns we need to choose between when tanking?
I seriously will not have room for all of this on my action bar. I already use at least five abilities in my normal tank rotation, not counting taunts and defensive cooldowns. Now they will add more, and different rotations for single target and AoE?
From this preview, we've seen Blinding Shield being added for AoE (but most likely with a long cooldown), and Holy Shock and Crusader Strike being added for single target. We will abviously see more stuff added.

  • 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.
Only time the charges wear off is when AoE tanking loads of trash, so this is just a convenience change.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Critical Healing Effect

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.
Wow! A critting heal will HEAL FOR MORE. Imba Mastery!
Boring mastery which just keeps holy paladins in the NUKE HEAL niche. I thought the intention was to get them out of there?

  • Damage Reduction
  • Vengeance
  • 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.
No surprises here.

  • Melee Damage
  • Melee Critical Damage
  • Holy Damage

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

With all the previews now up, I vote for the Shaman preview to be the sexiest. The Shaman preview really made me look forward to healing on my shammy. The death knight preview was just "meh", and the paladin preview just raised a lot of questions.

Class Previews Day 3

On the third day of previews, Blizzard gave to us: Hunters, Druids, and Mages.

I don't play either of these classes, and couldn't care less....

The short version is: Hunters won't use mana or ammo anymore. Resto druids won't be running around as giant broccolis anymore. Mages get heroism.

I know atleast one mage who creamed his pants when he realized he was getting heroism.

Changed your underwear yet, Fj?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Class Previews Day 2

Tomorrow is the big day: we will get the Paladin preview. Fingers crossed for some goodies.

This blue post worries me a little bit:

The fact is we're just not as far along on paladins as we are the other classes.

We haven't torn up the paladin talent trees in earnest yet, so the preview will likely be heavy on design intent and light on details.

The reason this worries me is that Blizzard should know better. They should know from experience that paladins are the hardest class to balance right, since most paladin abilities are shared between the specs, and there is no real punishment for using abilities from another role while playing (we don't have forms, or presences, or stances).

Saving the paladin to last seems to be a bad idea when you know it will be the hardest to design. That quote above states that they have barely started....

Anyway... the second preview day showed us the warriors, death knights, and rogues. Since I play a death knight, and since we got to see some tanking masteries, these were interesting previews.

Warriors get Heroic Leap, an ability that paladins have been asking for for a long time. I'm not going to QQ just yet, because I don't know what paladins will get. But paladins really really need a closer, an ability to quickly cover the distance between here and there. Paladins are still extremely easy to kite in PvP, and we are the only tank that cannot get to a mob "instantly" (death knights have Death Grip, but that cannot be used on bosses, so they also suffer from this).

Shouting becomes "free", Whirlwind becomes a "true" AoE, fury will be able to dual-wield one-handers again.

Then we get to the tanking masteries:

Critical Block Chance: As we mentioned in the stat changes preview, block rating is changing to a chance to block 30% of a melee swing's damage. Protection warriors have a chance that the block will be a critical block and block for 60% of a melee swing's damage instead. There will likely be talents available to push the amount blocked even higher.

Paladins will most likely get a mastery like this as well (hopefully with some individual flavor). It sounds reasonable and will make block useful again.

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 un-buffed 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 Protection tree. These values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Protection tree, so you won't see Arms or Fury warriors 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 their Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is for all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

This one I'm not so sure about. Tanks deal more damage when they get hit? And the buff scales with the damage done to the tank?

Doesn't this mean that more avoidance and more mitigation lead to slower stacks of the buff being applied? So the better gear the tank has, the slower his AP buff will stack up? Why?

And how does it work for offtanks, who won't get hit as much as the main tank? What do they do to keep threat up? How do an offtank stay "second on aggro" if he doesn't get this buff?

Well, guess we have to wait and see.

Death Knights
After being all psyched out over all the goodies that my shammy was going to get, the death knight changes seemed a bit lacking.

Outbreak will be a nice opener, making it possible for the DK to apply both diseases with just one GCD. But it will have a long cooldown (1 minute), so it will take some practise to learn how to use it best.

Necrotic Strike is the DK version of Mortal Strike.

Dark Simulacrum is the DK version of Spell Reflect.

None of these excites me much. Mortal Strike and Spell Reflect are PvP abilities, and I don't PvP with my DK anyways.

Blizzard is changing the way runes will charge, so that Dks can spend them more efficiently. This will probably take some time to get used to, but is probably a good change.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Blood will become the dedicated tanking tree. Instead of a block mastery, DKs will get

Healing Absorption: When you heal yourself, you'll receive an additional effect that absorbs incoming damage.
So the more a DK heals himself, the more mitigation he gets.

The DK dps masteries are quite boring.

I haven't raided with my rogue since early Trial of the Crusader, but there were a couple of good changes I noticed in the preview.

The rogue can transfer combo points from one target to another. Passive abilities, such as Slice and Dice, no longer have target requirements to be activated (which means you can use the points from a recently killed target). Combat Readiness makes the rogue less squishy. Weapon specializations will be removed (no more respeccing everytime you get a weapon upgrade).

And Smoke Bomb sounds like a lot of fun.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Class Previews Day 1

I know, I know. We paladins have to wait another week before we get to see what Blizzard has in store for us. But there are other classes to take a look at before then.

Since I play quite a bit with my shaman and death knight as well, I'm eager to see what kind of changes those classes will get.

Ghostcrawler dropped a DK bomb already the other day by declaring that Blood will be the designated tanking tree for death knights. This was a change that I've been expecting for some time. Blizzard probably realized that designing meaningful Masteries for all three DK trees, when having all three being able to both dps and tank, would have been a game design nightmare.

So they took the easy way out, and we will now see Blood as a tanking tree, Frost as a Dual-Wield dps tree, and Unholy as a Two-hander dps tree.

Anyway, we will see more of the DK changes tomorrow. Today the classes previewed were Shaman, Warlock, and Priest.

I don't play a warlock nor a priest, so I don't really understand the impact of the changes presented. I guess locks are happy to finally get rid of those shards.

This, however, is really cool:
Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or "Life Grip") is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can't seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.
The shammy changes presented made me happy. I rarely play as enhancement, and I kind of feel like enhance shammies got the least exciting changes of the three specs. The other two specs got the following candy:

  • Elemental shammies get a more useful AoE damage spell in Earthquake, which sounds fun.
  • Spirit on gear turns into hit for elemental shammies, which means restos and "ellies" will finally be able to share gear.
  • Totem of Wrath will no longer be a static buff, but a 4-10% (depending on spec) spell power buff.
  • Spiritwalker's Grace (see below) will make it possible to dps while moving.
  • Elemental Overload Mastery seems cool. Moar pew-pew!
Good stuff! A useful AoE, "hit for free", scaling spell power buff, and no more "lightning bolt turrets".

Before I start, check these two new talents out:
Healing Rain (level 83): An area-effect heal-over-time (HoT) spell that calls down rain in a selected area, healing all players within it. There is no limit to the number of players who can potentially be affected; however, there are diminishing returns when healing a large number of targets, much like the diminishing returns associated with AoE damage spells. This should give Restoration shaman another healing tool that improves their group-healing and heal-over-time capabilities. 2-second cast time. 30-yard range. 10-second duration. 10-second cooldown.

Spiritwalker's Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it’s necessary to move in both PvE and PvP. Instant cast. 10-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.

Healing Rain sounds so sexy I want it right this instant! Imagine a healing spell I will cast outside of my little Grid world! I will actually have to move my eyes from Grid and target something in the actual game to heal. People can run in and take a healing shower and move out when topped off.

Spiritwalker's Grace is like getting pie after eating some cake with a plate of cookies as the side dish. The hardest fights to heal as a shammy is the fights will lots of movement. I mean, you only get so far with Riptide, and Nature's Swiftness do have a two-minute cooldown. This new talent will make it possible to heal on the move when it matters the most.

  • A new go-to heal in New Healing Wave.
  • Bye-bye Cleansing Totem (/cry).
  • Spirit Link is back. Well, maybe.
  • A very nice Mastery: Deep Healing.
Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target's health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.
  • And a shammy version of the paladin judgement: Unleash Weapon.
Unleash Weapon (level 81): Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects (see below). A dual-wielding Enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both of their weapon enchants. Instant cast. 30-yard range. 15-second cooldown. Undispellable.
I look forward to healing on my shammy in Cataclysm!

Now, bring on the death knight changes! Then we will have a full week to recover before the paladin preview is upon us!