Kurn's Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

Well, I’m not sold, yet. That’s a little bit troubling. I haven’t had to be “sold” on an expansion so far. I loved the trailer and concept for Burning Crusade, was left with goosebumps after the WotLK trailer and was downright pissed off at Deathwing for his attack on Stormwind and, you know, breaking the world. I was invested. I didn’t need to be sold. It wasn’t a question of “will I play this expansion” but rather “what what I do in this expansion?”.

Now, I’m still debating whether or not to play.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I got the virtual ticket for BlizzCon so I spent most of Friday afternoon staring at my computer screen and tweeting like a crazed fool (until I went over my twitter limit for like, two hours!) and trying to soak in everything that I was hearing.

Right from the start, I was intrigued by the WoW Annual Pass. This could be billed monthly and would entitle you to a free copy of Diablo III and would give you some fancy WoW mount. But most interestingly to me, guaranteed access to the new WoW expansion beta.

I signed up for it when my Real Life Friend the Resto Druid reminded me that the earlier that year-long commitment starts, the earlier it’ll end. Since I was probably going to pick up D3 and since I’m definitely playing through 4.3, it’s probably worth it. Plus, hey, beta. So I signed up for it, but not because I agree with it existing, not because I have faith in the expansion, not for any of those reasons. Just because I know I’m probably playing for the next 6 months at a minimum and I may as well get something for that.

Moving on, when I saw a green-shaded World of Warcraft logo, my immediate thought was “Well, it’s gotta be The Emerald Dream!”


Mists of Pandaria.

Complete with playable pandaren.

I am disappointed by this. The thing is, I’m still trying to figure out why that alone has disappointed me. Maybe it’s like what some of the panelists were saying — the last couple of expansions have been very dark and this is a lot lighter and “fun”. They’re moving away from the “big bad” at the end of the expansions with this one. BC, your goal was to kill Illidan, even though Kil’jaeden showed up later. In Wrath, it was all about Arthas. Arthas was everywhere while you levelled up, while you went through dungeons. It was ALL about Arthas. In Cataclysm, it’s about revenge and getting back at Deathwing for breaking the whole damn world apart. (I personally plan to kill him for destroying Auberdine. That’s where Kurn grew up!!)

While the “big bad” thing is old and stale at this point, because it’s been going on for nearly 5 years, I’m not sure I like what’s replacing it.

Trouble is, I don’t have a lot of ideas that could replace that formula.

All right, let’s talk about the pandas.

I am not wholly opposed to Pandaren. I am not at all opposed to monks either, but we’ll get to that.

I didn’t play the RTS games. The only Pandaren I have had contact with is my little Pandaren Monk non-combat pet (and BOY, will I get to THAT later…). Thus, I have no idea where they fit into the story of WoW. I’m not a huge lore person — what matters to me is recognizing things that I’ve already seen in the game. Fighting Ragnaros again is AWESOME because I fought him before. Seeing Onyxia resurrected in Blackwing Descent was AWESOME, because it was ONYXIA and I remember how terrified I was when I first stepped into her cavern and saw the emote: “How fortuitous, usually I must leave my lair to feed!” Hell, killing Staghelm was great because I remembered him as that douchecanoe who sent me to Un’Goro an ungodly amount of times.

The draenei, well, I’m still not thrilled with them, but we had them in-game before, as the Lost Ones and such, as I understand it. And blood elves are obviously related to the trolls and the night elves, just by virtue of the ears. ;) So it was easier for me to accept those races. The Gilneans, I was aware of Gilneas and the wall, so that’s also fine (and having played the start zone, I understand how they became the Worgen) and goblins are all over the place.

But pandas?

Less enthused. And they just look so silly.

I was griping about this on twitter, before I went over my daily limit and SomeRocketeer said “What? We play a game with talking cows and dogs and cats, how are Pandas any worse? lol”

A fair question.

I guess my best response, for now, is that they just look goofy.

And one of their racials is “Bouncy”. I’m not kidding. “You take 50% less falling damage.”

Sorry, that calls forth images of pandas falling out of trees and bouncing around. Like Gummi Bears or something. My RL Friend the Resto Druid cannot WAIT to see if they actually bounce.

So, not thrilled by the Pandaren themselves, so far, but I DO really like the fact that they start out as a neutral race. As it was explained, from 1-10, they are neutral as they level up, then they pick Alliance or Horde. I think that’s awesome.

Questions: What about guilding a level 1 alt immediately? Can you do that even if they haven’t chosen a side? I’m guessing not.

I also find it interesting that it’s not a hero class like the DK — they start from level 1. What a grind, man. 90 levels. Eesh. Still, that might cut down on the number of noobs. It seems like an awful lot of DKs are still idiots. (That’s not all DKs. If you actually tank in the dungeon finder groups as a blood DK, in blood presence, in PVE tanking gear, for example, as opposed to frost in frost presence, in PVP gear, you are not an idiot.)

Okay, let’s talk about levels. Another 5-level expansion. Blech. I hope they learned their lessons about the mistakes they made with this 5-level expansion, some of which I gripe about in this old post.

They did say that there are no more level-cap regular dungeons. You’ll have dungeons in which you level up, then you’ll have heroics at level 90 and then you’ll move on into challenge dungeons, if you like, which is something I’ll talk about in another post, I’m sure.

There’s other stuff to discuss to do with PVE (challenge dungeons, scenarios), PVP (a new arena, a new style or two of BGs, perhaps), but I want to get a couple of the major class changes.

But a major change for hunters — minimum range is now GONE.

However, because of that, melee weapons for hunters are now also GONE. I think it was Ghostcrawler who said “we’ve gone from ‘everything is a hunter weapon’ to ‘nothing is a hunter weapon’.”

Similarly, ranged weapons for everyone else are GONE, as are relics.

Wands will become a new main-hand possibility for casters, statted the same way daggers, swords or maces would be.

Rogues and warriors will use their melee weapons for their ranged abilities (Fan of Knives, Heroic Throw, etc, I would imagine).

Druids become the first class to have a fourth spec. Feral will be kitty DPS, balance will remain moonkin, resto will remain the healing tree, but you’ll now have the Guardian spec, which will be a tanking spec.

You will no longer have to learn spells at the trainer, you’ll be able to do so wherever you are when you ding.

Looking over all of that, and I’m sure that there’s more, I’m realizing two things:

1) I’m not at all excited for the expansion.

2) They’re basically making things so you can’t be dumb.

Forget about my excitement for a bit (because I know you care oh-so-much) and let’s look at my claim.

One of the devs, although I’m not sure who it was, said that if you didn’t take Raging Blow, I think it was, as a fury warrior, you weren’t being daring or experimental, you were just being a bad fury warrior.

Blizzard’s solution to that? Make sure that if they’re fury and max level, they have all the key abilities they want you to use, such as Raging Blow.

All max-level holy paladins are, for example, going to have Divine Plea, Beacon of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light and more.

On the one hand, good. I’m glad that I won’t have to see another dumb paladin out there who doesn’t have, I don’t know, Beacon of Light, Light of Dawn and Divine Favor, for instance.

On the other hand, bad. A spec is one way to tell a good/knowledgeable player from a bad/uninformed/lazy player. Who does their research? The one with the good spec. Who just drops points in? The lazy/etc player. Granted, with Cataclysm, the requirement of placing 31 points in your talent tree made it hard to screw it up, but hey, people still did screw things up on a regular basis.

While I am glad that players will have all their “required” abilities, I’m not glad that Blizzard is like “here, you’re too dumb to pick the right specs and pick up the right talents. JUST TAKE THEM AUTOMATICALLY!” I would much prefer that they spend time educating us about these abilities/talents/etc rather than just handing them to us.

The learning curve in WoW has always been a bit steep. There’s nothing in-game apart from “Miss!” that lets us know that hit might be important. Competant, good players could get to a raid and not be hit-capped for a boss and just flat-out not understand why they’re missing. The stat sheet with its “chance to miss” thing is a nice touch, but how does anyone know that a boss level mob is level 88? Sure, us older-school players know that a boss is, mathematically, 3 levels above us, but we didn’t just know that all of a sudden. We had to learn, either from other players or from various websites.

The same goes for expertise — who innnately knows that expertise should be at 26 for each weapon? Who innately knows that expertise is for melee only? It certainly sounds like something you should have a lot of, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want more expertise, when you don’t know what it does?

I’m not asking Blizzard to say “okay, expertise is something melee classes and perhaps tanks should take a look at”, but I’m saying that the reason that some people seem so … what’s the kind way of putting this … completely brainless about things is that the in-game resources for such things don’t exist. What they further don’t seem to understand is that by removing the choices (as with the talents), they are removing the player’s ability to learn and understand why, for example, Raging Blow is required for decent fury warrior DPS.

This, in my not-remotely-humble opinion, is going to lead to dumber players.

A few weeks ago, I was being healed on my baby paladin (who was tanking) through Heroic Shadowfang Keep. By a druid who was wearing a lot of cloth. A lot of PVP cloth. Just the other day, I healed a “tank” who was a frost-specced DK who was dual-wielding 1Hs and was in frost presence the whole time, during Headless Horseman. One heal and things turned to look at ME.

The cloth-wearing druid claimed he “didn’t need the 5% bonus intellect” wearing all leather would get him and that resilience was good for PVE because he would get hit a lot by mobs.

The “DK tank”, and I use that term loosely, was either a complete moron or just a stupid DPS who decided to “tank” things (seriously, not even blood presence, dude? Really?) because it afforded him a faster queue.

This is what’s wrong with the game. This is what the new “talent” system is going to lead more of. If people are too dumb to know what talents to take, TEACH THEM WHY those talents are important. Don’t just wave the little white flag and give up and give them all the talents you feel are required because some people aren’t capable of doing a little bit of research to see what spec might be better.

I understand wanting to break up cookie-cutter specs, so they’ve gone and made the “talents”, such as they are, be much less of a thing. Talents are now optional things that you should be able to do any encounter without having. Sure, some will make things easier, but it seems as though regardless of what talents you pick, you should be able to finish out PVE encounters. Blizzard has removed our choices that they felt were meaningless because people were choosing wrong (and that meant that there was a Right Choice and anything else was a Wrong Choice) and have replaced them with 6 choices (one every 15 levels — geez, I remember getting a talent point every level once I hit 10!) to make from 18 abilities that are completely meaningless. Who cares if I pick Clemency (5m CD but on use will remove the cooldowns on your HoFreedom, HoSac and BOP) versus Acts of Sacrifice (passively reduces mana cost and CD of those spells by 20%)? Either way, it means more use of those abilities, but the idea is that encounters can be done without either of those talents by virtue of picking up Veneration, in the same tier as Clemency and Acts of Sacrifice, and Veneration means that when you drop your Consecration, anyone standing in it is immune to movement-impairing effects for six seconds.

So that means that whether I pick Veneration, Acts of Sacrifice or Clemency, my choice ultimately doesn’t matter, because there’s not supposed to be a “Right Choice”.

How does that make for more compelling options? I think what’s “compelling” is that every paladin can get Ardent Defender and Repentence, or that all rogues could get Shadowstep or Prep or that even prot warriors can get Bladestorm, while DPS warriors can get Shockwave. I don’t find that stuff compelling. A bit nifty, perhaps, but not compelling, not all that interesting.

Similarly, being able to train anywhere we like might be a “quality of life” thing, but I can’t believe it is. I think it’s to encourage people to effing train and take their abilities. One of the devs said that they didn’t like seeing someone who hadn’t trained in 20 levels because they couldn’t be bothered to go back to a trainer.

Whenever I dinged back in Vanilla, BC, Wrath, Cata, I ALWAYS went back to train. ALWAYS. I might have finished my dungeon or quest first, but I ALWAYS went to the trainer and trained. It was fun, it was exciting and I was smart enough to know I was improving my character by doing so.

Now, trainers are literally just going to be for respecs and people won’t have an excuse to not train. First, they get rid of ranks of abilities (after the failure that was so prevalent in Wrath of the Lich King, I can’t really blame them), then they made it really obvious that we got new abilities when we dinged (with the displays upon ding, etc) and now they’ll basically allow you to train things as you ding. If that’s the case, why not just automatically give the abilities to us as soon as we ding? Why bother have us learn skills when we can just gain them automatically? I’m not wanting to go in that direction, but it seems that, sooner rather than later, we’re going to be able to start a new toon at 80 or so and will gain all required abilities as we ding and will have three choices in terms of “talents”.

Overall, I’m not sold yet. I’m looking forward to the beta to see more of what this whole expansion is going to be about. But I am not yet excited, and I really, really want to be. I wish I were. But I’m not. Regardless, holy paladins can keep coming here for info and I’ll be providing everything I can until 5.0 drops, at the very least. It’s just beyond then where there’s some uncertainty.

Having said that, Anafielle said on Twitter during the initial announcements:

And hey, you guys are allowed to like it and disagree, that is interesting. But quit telling me I am not allowed to be unhappy!

This. 1,000,000 x this. Don’t tell me to stop my whining or complaining or thinking out loud. I’m a paying customer, same as you, and I have responsibilities to people in the game that will keep me playing through until Mists of Pandaria comes out at the very least. What they are doing is changing some very core portions of the game and I don’t really agree with them and you know what? I’m allowed to speak my mind, particularly here. We can agree to disagree, you can tell me why you think pandas are cool if you like, but please don’t tell me to quit my QQing and just quit the game if I’m so unhappy. I’ll be respectful of those who are excited, but you have to be respectful of us who are unsure or who aren’t excited. Disrespectful comments will not get approved and if they’re by someone who’s already got an approved comment, they will be deleted and the person will have their freedom to comment here removed. Remember the comment policy.

(As a sidenote, if you went to BlizzCon, you can submit a 3-5m audio file about your time at BlizzCon for Episode 39 of Blessing of Frost! Make sure it’s in by 12am ET on Tuesday morning (technically Monday night/Tuesday morning) to ensure we get it in time. Details are here!)

(Sidenote to sidenote: Head over to stopcast.net and vote for me, Kurn, in the LOUDEST VOICE ON TWITTER category! And you can definitely follow me on Twitter: @kurnmogh.)

Holy Paladins in Mists of Pandaria (BlizzCon Day 1)

I am, sadly, not in Anaheim, but I did purchase the virtual ticket, so I’m going to attempt to separate my own feelings about the various announcements separate from paladin information, so there may be a few posts this weekend. Also, paladin information is kind of scarce at the moment. All we have is some info about the talent trees and such.

Please bear in mind that this is all based on the WoW Preview and Class Talent System panels and anything can (and may!) change.

So, first up, they’ve changed up talents and such. Gone are the days of a huge talent tree. At level 90, we will have 6 tiers, with 3 choices on each tier. You get to pick one from each tier and that’s it. You get these choices at level 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90.

That said, you still get your “iconic” abilities at level 10. You will, however, now get more iconic abilities as you level.

So you’ll have:

Core Class Abilities – things that are available to everyone in the class
Spec Abilities – things that are available to everyone in that spec of that class
Talents – the 6 talents you choose at various levels.

They showed a slide of some of the Holy Paladin spec abilities. These are things you get for going Holy at level 10 when you choose to specialize. Bear in mind that these may not be exactly the same as they currently are!

Level 10: Holy Shock and Walk in the Light. This looks to be the same passive we currently have.
Level 20: Holy Wrath. Yes, that’s right, this is now specific to holy paladins, as far as we know.
Level 30: Judgements of the Pure. I expect this will work similarly to how JotP will work in 4.3.
Level 32: Holy Light. Yup, this is specific to holy paladins. It was mentioned that all paladins will have Flash of Light but Holy Light and Divine Light will be specific to holy paladins.
Level 34: Sacred Cleansing. Well, at least we don’t have to put a talent point here, eh? ;)
Level 38: Holy Radiance. Well, that’s accessible a lot sooner, geez!
Level 40: Beacon of Light. Available around the same point as it is now.
Level 46: Divine Plea. Interesting place for it.
Level 50: Infusion of Light.

That’s all they gave us for holy and it’s all based on a screenshot, so I’m sure no one should count on that info to remain all that accurate. :)

Now, as to the paladin talents. Remember, these are available to all paladins! And we can only choose one of each tier. Thanks much to Walks for sending me his written-out versions of the talent choices. :)

Level 15

This is the Movement tier. Your choices are:

Speed of Light (instant, 1m cooldown)
Increases your movement speed by 60% for 6 seconds. During this time, you radiate healing to nearby allies.

Well. Interesting. This is obviously taken from our current Holy Radiance sprint move, although it lasts two seconds more than our current Holy Radiance sprint and I’m sure the healing done isn’t terribly strong.

Long Arm of the Law (8s cooldown)
A successful Judgment increases your movement speed by 45% for 4 seconds.

So this is a sprint that can happen every 8 seconds, but it lasts 2 seconds less than Speed of Light and is 15% less fast. Still, it’s not a button you hit that you wouldn’t normally hit at some point, so it’s kind of passive. Interesting.

Pursuit of Justice
You gain 10% movement speed for each current charge of Holy Power.

So that’s a maximum of 30% speed, but it could be, well, forever. Interesting.

As a holy paladin participating in PVE content, based on this information, I would likely select Speed of Light.

Level 30

This is the Crowd Control tier.

Fist of Justice (Instant, 30s cooldown)
Stuns the target for 6 seconds.

This replaces Hammer of Justice, but you’ll note that the CD is 30s, not the 60s that HoJ is.

Repentance (1.5s cast, no cooldown)
Puts the enemy target in a state of meditation, incapacitating them for up to 1 minute. Any damage from sources other than Censure will awaken the target. Usable against Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids, and Undead.

Seal of Justice
Fills the Paladin with Holy Light, causing direct attacks to reduce the target’s movement speed by 50% for 5 sec and deal 87 additional Holy damage.

So that’s clearly the PVP way to go. ;) Actually, the Fist of Justice might be, too. Repentance for me!

Level 45

This can be considered the damage reduction tier. Sort of.

Blessed Life (8s internal cooldown)
You have a 100% change to gain a charge of Holy Power whenever you take direct damage or are stunned, feared, or immobilized. This effect cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds.

They did say that, absolutely, this is direct-damage. Standing in AOE will not proc this.

Sacred Shield (60s internal cooldown)
When reduced below 30% health, you gain the Sacred Shield effect. Sacred Shield absorbs damage and increases healing received by 20%. Lasts 15 seconds. This effect cannot occur more than once every 60 seconds.

Sadly, this is not the Sacred Shield of WotLK, but rather the one from the ret tree.

Ardent Defender (Instant, 3m cooldown)
Reduces damage taken by 20% for 10 seconds. While Ardent Defender if active, the next attack that will kill you will instead cause you to be healed for 15% of your maximum health.

Yup, Ardent Defender is planned to be available to all paladins.

I would probably grab Sacred Shield, since, as a healer, it’s rare that something will choose to beat on me specifically, so Blessed Life is a bit less useful. Ardent Defender is also more useful for someone expecting to take damage, so Sacred Shield seems to be the choice.

Level 60

This is clearly the healing tier. Finally, something that might be useful for us in terms of healing!

Selfless Healer (8s internal cooldown)
Your successful Judgments reduce the mana cost of your next Flash of Light by 50% and improve its effectiveness by 50% when used to heal others. Stacks up to 2 times.

Interesting. Over the course of 16 seconds, you can get a free Flash of Light. If Judgements of the Pure continues into 5.0 the way that it’s going to work in 4.3, this will probably not be the optimal choice for a PVE-based holy paladin, just because we’re not going to judge that much.

Eternal Glory (assumed 15s internal cooldown, based on this spell)
Your Word of Glory and Light of Dawn have a 30% change to not consume Holy Power.

Interesting change! Light of Dawn is now part of Eternal Glory. Really, that should have happened this expansion.

Holy Shield (requires at least 1 Holy Power)
Shields a friendly target, absorbing more damage per each charge of Holy Power consumed for 10 seconds.

Well, now. That’s certainly interesting… We get to shield people? Tempting, tempting!

As it stands, Selfless Healer is pretty lame for holy paladins in PVE. But Eternal Glory, particularly with its addition of Light of Dawn from its current incarnation, is tempting. It’s clearly the throughput choice. But Holy Shield is very interesting and possibly compelling, too. It would really depend, of course, on how much damage is actually absorbed. I would tentatively say that one should take Eternal Glory as a raid healer and Holy Shield as a tank healer.

Level 75

The utility tier!

Your Consecration causes the Veneration effect on party or raid members within its area.

Veneration — you are immune to movement impairing effects for 6 seconds.

We’re never going to get “if you stand in my consecration, it will heal you”, will we? Anyhow. Definitely a PVP-related talent, at least according to how PVE stuff plays out at the moment.

Acts of Sacrifice
Reduces the cooldown by 20% and the mana cost by 20% of your Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, and Hand of Sacrifice.

In addition, your Cleanse will removed one movement impairing effect if cast upon yourself.

I almost wrote this off entirely, because who cares about the Cleanse and movement impairing effects? Then I re-read it. Reduces the cooldown by 20% of your HoFreedom, BOP and HoSac. Right now, HoFreedom is 25 seconds, so that would reduce it to 20 seconds. BOP is five minutes, so that would drop to four minutes and, properly specced, our HoSac is 90 seconds, but the base for all paladins is two minutes, so assuming a 2m CD here, it goes from 120 seconds to 96 seconds. Snazzy.

Clemency (5 minute cooldown)
When activated, immediately finishes the cooldown on your Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, and Hand of Sacrifice.

Even snazzier!

While Acts of Sacrifice is passive, Clemency is like a Marksmanship Hunter’s Readiness talent. Although it has a long cooldown itself, how awesome would it be to have BOP and HoSac up again at the touch of a button? Man, I wish we had this already. I can think of times (*cough*heroicshannox*cough*) where this would be useful in current content.

Level 90

This is, as Ghostcrawler said, all about burst and cooldowns. (Or, as Walks put it, Holy Power, Batman!)

Holy Avenger (Effective 5 minute cooldown)
Summoning your Guardian of Ancient Kings also imbues you with the power of a Holy Avenger [for 10 seconds].

Holy Avenger — none of your abilities consume Holy Power and cast as if 3 Holy Power were consumed. Lasts 10 seconds.

Interesting. A ten-second window where no Holy Power is used and those abilities are cast as if 3 charges of HP were used. On a five minute cooldown, using the current cooldown for Guardian of Ancient Kings. Not really a fan from a healer perspective, to be honest.

Sanctified Wrath (Effective 2 minute cooldown)
You gain more frequent access to one of your abilities during Avenging Wrath [for 20 seconds].

Holy — Holy Shock has no cooldown
Protection — Judgement has no cooldown
Retribution — You can use Hammer of Wrath

When I first read this, I missed the bit about Avenging Wrath being active. Whoops. ;) Still, every ~2 minutes, a 20-second window where Holy Shock has no cooldown and, as a result, we basically have limitless Holy Power? Yup, I’ll take that.

Divine Purpose (15% chance, assumed internal cooldown)
Abilities that cost Holy Power have a 15% chance to cause the Divine Purpose effect.

Divine Purpose — Your next Holy Power ability will consume no Holy Power and act as if 3 Holy Power were consumed.

This is probably the “safe” bet. A lot of the talents GC talked about in all the trees offered one passive version of something and one active version of something. This is clearly the passive version of Sanctified Wrath. Rather than have it all in a couple of 20s chunks, you get a bunch of extra healing over the course of your fight.

Tough choice between Sanctified Wrath and Divine Purpose. I think it would depend heavily on the encounters and would also depend on if the CD for Avenging Wrath changes. If it’s any longer than 2 minutes, maybe Divine Purpose is the way to go.

Check out this post at MMO-Champion to see all the talent choices for all the classes!

Stay tuned for more BlizzCon-related posts!

On BlizzCon and Community

I’m not at BlizzCon this weekend. I knew I was taking a heavier courseload at school this semester and I figured midterms would be happening about now — and I was right! — so I elected not to go to BlizzCon.

A ton of my guildies in Apotheosis, however, did decide to go.

On the one hand, I am totally jealous, but on the other hand, I am extremely pleased to see that some members of the guild that I put together for this expansion are out there, hanging out together.

Ten of my guildies went out and had dinner together last night (which is one reason Apotheosis cancelled our Thursday raid!).

Of them, I knew three of them personally before Cataclysm. There’s X, the warlock, who I’ve known for years through another segment of the Internet. There’s Kal, the priest, who I met during my travels in Wrath of the Lich King, along with her boyfriend Chronis (formerly a hunter, formerly a paladin, formerly a hunter again and currently a DK tank for us).

Also in attendance for the guild dinner: Shawnelle, a frost DK in our guild, and Srsbusiness, a shadow priest of ours, both of whom being people that Kal and Chronis previously knew from another guild.

Then there’s Raymiee, a mage, and Slout, an elemental shaman, who are a couple who applied to us back at the end of March. They didn’t know anyone in the guild previously.

There’s Entropia, an elemental shaman who was resto for us in T11 and has gone back to his DPSing ways. I’d met him in the Cataclysm beta, as I recall.

Tikari, a rogue and one of our officers, was a long-time “citizen”, shall we say, of our home realm, Eldre’Thalas. Hadn’t ever heard of him before, which is kind of rare when talking about natives from ET. He applied and kicked some ass and now I am subjected to being pumpkin-headed by him YEAR ROUND anytime he catches me in a city.

And then there’s Jasyla, a resto druid whose blog I’d read more than once over the years. (I think some of us still wonder why she’s slumming it with us…!)

Looking at this one photo of all of them, sitting down to dinner, coming together, feeling united by all being part of Apotheosis, meeting the people they’ve raided with dating back to January, for some… I can’t help but feel that there’s a real community that’s forming here, or that has already formed, and knowing that I’m responsible for bringing these people together in even a small way? That feels amazing.

Would Chronis and Kal ever have met Slout and Raymiee? Would Srsbusiness and Jasyla ever have met? Would Tikari and Entropia ever have even known who the other was? Would Shawnelle ever have encountered X?

My guess is no.

And to think that this all stemmed from me thinking, a long time ago, about how maybe I should put Apotheosis back together for Cataclysm. Over a year before Cataclysm released, I was thinking about it and starting to put wheels in motion.

And ten people, many of whom never would have known the others, met up for dinner on Thursday night and are hanging out together at BlizzCon this weekend. I had a little bit to do with that. And that… is awesome.

4.3 PTR Notes – Nerfage Ahoy.

According to MMO-Champion, holy paladins are, once again, being nerfed in this latest PTR build. Bear in mind that these changes may not see live servers, but this is what they’ve got going on at the moment.

Beacon of Light is triggered by Holy Shock, Flash of Light, Divine Light and Light of Dawn at 50% transference and Holy Light at 100% transference. It does not transfer Holy Radiance, Protector of the Innocent or other sources of healing.

So I’m reading that and going “Okay, Holy Shock, Flash of Light, Divine Light, Light of Dawn, Holy Light, that’s fine, that’s normal… no Holy Radiance, okay… wait. No Protector of the Innocent? Probably no Enlightened Judgements either. And no other sources of healing. Okay, fine.”

And then it hit me.


I can live without Protector of the Innocent transferring. I hate that talent and I’ll be able to drop one of those points into Last Word if that’s the case. I’ll still keep one point in Enlightened Judgements for my spirit to hit conversion, of course, and that’s fine.

But did they just forget to list Word of Glory or is Word of Glory really not going to transfer?

Frankly, I’m of the mind that they forgot to mention it. After all, our other Holy Power heal (Light of Dawn) is transferred at 50%, so why wouldn’t Word of Glory transfer?

*** ETA: A blue post clarified that this was, in fact, an oversight and Word of Glory will continue to transfer through Beacon of Light. The rest of this post, written before the clarification, has been left intact. ***

However, Blizzard has done some whacked-out things in the past. I wouldn’t put it past them to have done this deliberately. Obviously, they’re trying to tune us appropriately, and that’s okay, but it’s possible that Word of Glory will be nerfed in that it won’t transfer with Beacon of Light any longer. I’m not saying that’s likely. I’m saying it’s possible. I’m also not saying that this change will make it through to live, even if it is intended, but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it is intended that Word of Glory no longer gets transferred.

The major question would be “Why?”

Let’s be honest: Word of Glory is a big heal. A 3-charge Word of Glory, that is. In my current gear (ilvl 383) while raid buffed, that’s about 24k on a non-crit. More than that, it’s an instant big heal. Comparatively, Holy Light is about 11.5k, Divine Light is about 30k, Holy Shock is around 10k and Flash of Light is around 23k.

But wait, you say, Flash of Light can be instant with an Infusion of Light proc and heals for about the same.

Right. But Flash of Light costs a ton of mana at the same time. Word of Glory is 100% free.

We currently have the ability to hit someone for a sizeable amount (~24k in my gear level, raid-buffed) as an instant-cast spell that is free of mana cost. And we can do that pretty darn frequently.

If we don’t use it on our Beacon of Light target, that’s ~24k healing to an individual and another ~12k healing to our Beacon. Instantly, that’s ~36k healing on a non-crit, costing us no mana, castable on the move.

So I could see why they would think this is overpowered. Our holy power generation isn’t terribly lacking, at least not from what I’ve noticed (but then, I tend to Beacon my own tank and benefit from Tower of Radiance), so I generally have a lot of Holy Power and, in fact, I do not dump it as often as I should. If used consistently at 3 stacks of Holy Power in higher gear levels, Word of Glory, and its subsequent transfer through Beacon of Light at the moment, is pretty darn overpowered.

I can see their reasoning, if this is an intentional change. Doesn’t mean I like it, but I can see how powerful that can be on a variety of fights.

That said, I am still hopeful that it’s just an oversight and they forgot to mention Word of Glory in the first part of their announcement.

In other news, Apotheosis downed Heroic Majordomo Staghelm on Sunday (and we’re looking for an exceptional retribution paladin and a skilled hunter!), Episode 38 of Blessing of Frost is out and I’ve been nominated for a Stopie Award! Go vote for me in the category: Loudest Voice on Twitter!

Pondering the Glory

So how are people out there dealing with the possibility of getting the Glory of the Firelands Raider achievement?

Back in Wrath, the guild I was in hit 11/12 25-man HM and then immediately did a full reset of achievement stuff. We did Neck-Deep in Vile that week and then the next week, did Been Waiting a Long Time for This, which resulted in getting Glory of the Icecrown Raider.

In Tier 11, we got to 7/13 HM before Firelands came out (Halfus, V&T, Magmaw, Maloriak, Chimaeron, Atramedes, Conclave), so Glory of the Cataclysm Raider wasn’t even a possibility for us, as we were missing, you know, 5 heroic kills.

Due to the nerfs, we will likely hit 5/7 HM tonight or Sunday (Majordomo) and after a break for BlizzCon, we’ll tackle heroic Baleroc. (I think we would have hit 6/7 HM without the nerfs, but it would have taken longer.)

Since six of the achievements required for the meta will be already done (the six heroic bosses) and since we regularly do Share the Pain and Only the Penitent… is really easy to do and isn’t even part of the boss encounter… that leaves four achievements:

Bucket List – Shannox
Not an Ambi-Turner – Rhyolith
Death from Above – Beth’tilac
Do a Barrel Roll – Alysrazor

To me, it’s a no-brainer to take a reset or two (to get everyone covered) and get these guys down on normal to get the achievements. However, the fact remains that Shannox and Alysrazor drop heroic tier tokens and the other bosses drop valuable heroic loot (oh god, I want a heroic Ward of the Red Widow!).

Given that we don’t know when 4.3 will drop (although I’d be surprised if it’s before American Thanksgiving, in late November), we don’t know how many resets we have before the new raid opens up. It’s safe to say that we’ll move on to the new raid once it opens.

Obviously, there is a finite amount of resets left between now and 4.3. Will using two (because, with a roster of ~34, we’ll NEED two) resets to get the meta achievement be worth two resets of heroic loot off those bosses? Better question: do we need to do all of them on normal? Shannox isn’t so hard on heroic, maybe we could get away with kiting him forever, but I know we could do it on normal.

I’m not even going to talk about time spent on that versus heroic Ragnaros. That’s a whole other question in and of itself.

So how are you fine people handling this in your guilds? Are you? Do you even care? I’ve got a poll up on the Apotheosis forums, asking the raiders what they think of the meta, but I’m curious to know how others are dealing with it.

A Gear Post

I haven’t really spoken a lot about holy paladin gear of late. I think, actually, that the last post I wrote about it had to do with me stacking mastery to see how it would work out.

The Great Mastery Stacking Experiment lasted approximately two and a half weeks.

The whole reason I stacked mastery was because, due to various upgrades I had gotten, there was no way I could continue to stack intellect gems and still hit my ~1860 haste breakpoint to give me that 14th tick of Holy Radiance, given Judgements of the Pure being active, 3/3 Speed of Light (for 3% extra haste) and the 5% haste buff that can be gotten through a moonkin’s aura, a shadow priest’s aura or a shaman’s Wrath of Air totem.

Plus, there was a lot of chatter going on about mastery at the time.

So I reforged, regemmed and re-enchanted all of my gear to mastery. My gems were Artful Ember Topaz (20 int/20 mastery) and the only spot I didn’t have mastery were my boots, because I didn’t want to waste guild bank funds for Lavawalker for a mere 35 mastery rating.

It worked okay. I saw a distinct difference in terms of what I was capable of doing and I saw differences in tank squishiness. I do spend a LOT of my time just healing my tank(s), so why not, right?

However, as soon as I was able to hit my breakpoint again, thanks to more upgrades, I swapped everything back to full intellect gems, reforging to spirit and haste once again.

I did this for two major reasons:

1) I didn’t like the slow casts. While my (much beefier) mastery bubbles were doing okay at preventing tank deaths .5 seconds before my cast would finish, it felt as though I was casting through molasses. It was intolerable for me and it wasn’t something I ever got used to doing in the ~2.5 weeks I was stacking mastery.

2) The knowledge that I wasn’t able to help out with raid healing as much (and I don’t do a whole lot of it as it was or even is) was disheartening. I just didn’t like being pigeon-holed into a tank healing only role, which is hilarious, because THAT’S WHAT I DO.

But go figure, I suddenly felt as though stacking mastery was gimping me beyond what I was comfortable with and I didn’t feel a huge help from the mastery. It helped now and again, sure, but I didn’t feel as though what I was getting from mastery was at all worth all the intellect, spirit, haste and versatility that I was giving up.

So I went back to spirit and haste.

I got my T12 4pc a few weeks ago. It wasn’t my preferred four pieces, mind you.

In my T12 gear post, I had seen a problem. If one goes for the 4pc bonus, which piece should be the offset piece?

I had concluded that the gloves should be the offset piece, electing to pick up the Grips of the Raging Giant from Lord Rhyolith, primarily because the tier 12 Immolation Gloves have no spirit. Since our only 378 ilvl belt option, the Belt of the Seven Seals, also has no spirit, I decided to go with the Rhyolith gloves and aim for the helm, shoulders, chest and legs for my 4pc.

Picking the gloves as my offset meant not using the Clutch of the Firemother, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a very pretty piece of equipment, which is sad, but I was determined to have spirit on my gloves and I had plenty of haste to maintain my Holy Radiance breakpoint.

This was all done before I actually set foot into Firelands, mind you.

I ended up getting my T12 Immolation Headguard and then realized that if I bought the gloves, I would have my 4pc. So that’s what I did.

Behold, Divine Flame, our 4pc set bonus!

Too bad it sucks.

Looking over recent logs, over all boss attempts the other night, it did 1.2% of my total healing and overhealed 74% of the time. The most healing it’s ever really done for me was something like 3.3% and that must have been the stars aligning or something, because it’s usually around 1-2% of my total healing.

You can hear my initial reactions to the 4pc (and how underwhelming it is) on Episode 33 of Blessing of Frost.

Still, I figured, it’s free healing. That can’t be bad, right?

Well, when the heroic version of Clutch of the Firemother dropped on Tuesday night, I told Walks it was his if he wanted it, because it had never dropped on normal for him. He was reluctant and we both ended up selecting “Minor Upgrade” for it, which is an option you can choose within our guild that means that “I want this, but let anyone else who hit main spec for it get it before me”.

And I won it, with Walks insisting he wouldn’t use it until he got heroic shoulders off of Majordomo Staghelm — whom we haven’t even pulled on heroic yet.

So with the chest upgrade, I now have a choice: Break 4pc by keeping my Rhyolith gloves or keep 4pc by going back to my T12 gloves?

I’m going to break the bonus.

Let’s be clear: T11 tier was pretty terrible for us, but at least some of the T12 pieces are great. The helm and the legs, in particular, are fantastic from a holy paladin perspective. Your shoulder choices are tier (with crit as a secondary) or the ones from Beth’tilac (with mastery as a secondary), so I’ll go with the tier shoulders any day (slightly preferring crit to mastery). But the tier chest falls flat compared to Clutch of the Firemother if you’re not aiming for the 4pc.

If our 4pc were absolutely fantastic, I would have stuck to my gloves being my offset piece, but it’s really not that awesome. I do have all five tier pieces now, however, so I can swap things around a bit if I like, but really — Divine Flame recently did 27,000 healing total on a 6-minute heroic Shannox fight where I did 1.8 million healing.

I should probably go back to that gear post and plaster all over it that 4pc isn’t worth it, and maybe I’ll get around to that when time permits, but for right now, get your two-piece however you can (because that IS pretty awesome) and aim for your legs and your helm to be the two pieces you really hold on to.

Post-Nerf Heroic Alysrazor: A Huge Disappointment

24 pulls is all it took us and Alysrazor collapsed.

It took us 46 pulls to get her down on normal.

Something ain’t right here.

(Yes, I’m still talking about nerfs.)

Do I want to wipe more on a boss like Alysrazor? No, not particularly. But I don’t feel as though we earned the kill. Granted, our kill was near-perfect execution, except for Majik’s Mumble client dying on him and Kaleri dropping her Power Word: Barrier on the other side of town at the pull. ;) And I could have done without some of the deaths we had, to be sure… but it went very smoothly. If we can do that every time, we’ll have no problems killing her every single week on heroic.

However, it just feels as though Alysrazor has been de-clawed, had her wings clipped, whatever.

Tornadoes move just as slowly in heroic as they do on normal.

Firestorm won’t automatically kill you if you don’t line of sight it, not if you’re healed up and use a defensive CD. (Our pally tank app ate a Firestorm while still working on a hatchling. He put up Ardent Defender and blew Lay on Hands and lived with plenty of health to spare.)

The biggest challenge, it seemed, was re-allocating DPS.

I’m sorry, but is that all there is to heroic Firelands bosses?

Let’s examine them, shall we?

Normal Shannox: Some people on dogs, some people on Shannox.
Heroic Shannox: Just about every single person on Shannox, a few people on various dogs for slows and breaking Face Rage.

So that’s a simple reallocation of DPS.

Normal Rhyolith: Some people on Fragments and Sparks, some people on legs.
Heroic Rhyolith: Same as above — stun/slow/blowback Liquid Obsidium.

Another reallocation of DPS, but I’ll admit, this one was effing tricky — at least pre-nerf.

Normal Beth’tilac: Some people on caves, some people on spinners and drones, some people on top of the web.
Heroic Beth’tilac: Same as above — and then blow up the Engorged Broodlings.

Same damn thing, more reallocation of DPS and some healing, but the worst part about this fight was making sure caves were covered. Once we had that down, the boss died.

And now…

Normal Alysrazor: Some people up top, some people on Initiates, some people on hatchlings. Dodge Brushfire, Tornadoes, Lava Spew and Incendiary Clouds.
Heroic Alysrazor: Same as above — plus dodge Firestorm and Meteors and Boulders.

Really? I mean… it’s just not that difficult. I’d say it’s actually easier than normal because the hatchlings die so quickly. The worst part here isn’t even the Firestorm, it’s making sure Initiates die quickly enough that interrupters can interrupt them.

At least Majordomo Staghelm has a “real” new mechanic in Concentration. I’m looking forward to that fight, but am prepared to be “meh” about it.

It makes me sad. It feels very much as though these “heroic modes” are like “normal” modes now that the nerfs have gone through, at least to an experienced raid group. I’m sure Ragnaros will be different, of course, and it’s not like the challenge has completely vanished from heroic Firelands… but I didn’t enjoy heroic Alysrazor. At all. And, prior to our work on heroic Alysrazor, that was my favourite fight. I really didn’t feel as though I was healing with finesse last night — I felt as though all I was doing was praying that my tank wouldn’t get two-shotted or that people wouldn’t fall out of the sky or die to tornadoes.

I spent the vast majority of our time on Heroic Alysrazor just hoping we could execute it, but there wasn’t anything to figure out after the first 10ish pulls. We tried a couple new variations last night and eventually just said screw it and went back to what we’d been doing, essentially, with very minor tweaking to get Initiates down.

And then, on one glorious attempt when most people didn’t die or disconnect or anything… she died.

Totally anticlimactic.

Am I proud? Of course. Am I pleased that we’re 4/7? Absolutely.

But ultimately, I got more of a sense of accomplishment at knowing that we budgeted our raid time this week extremely well (repeat of H Rhyolith and H Shannox, plus first kills of H Beth and H Alysrazor and a full clear and we even did Volcanus!) than I did when we downed Alysrazor.


Please, don’t let raiding be this ridiculous in 4.3.