The New Adventures of Old Azeroth

I don’t know how he does it, but my brother is responsible for the fact that I have so many alts. And on Thursday, I rolled another.

My mage is hanging out on Skywall with Choice because they’re awesome. Similarly, my druid is over on another server with my RL Friend the Resto Druid. My hunter, paladin, shaman and priest are all on Eldre’Thalas, guilded in Apotheosis.

My brother, Majik and our friend Tia were all in their early 20s on some alts earlier this week. Fog’s levelling a warrior, Tia’s levelling a pally and Majik is also levelling a pally tank, as he mentioned on the first episode of Blessing of Frost, our brand-new WoW podcast.

They were all at about the same level and were encouraging me to roll something and “GTF” to my 20s so we could all instance together.

I thought about it. A lot. I didn’t want to be a rogue. A death knight moved me out of their level range, obviously. I also didn’t want to be a DK. ;) I didn’t want to be a warlock, either. I then thought about my mage. I really like my mage. I haven’t gotten to play her much at all during Wrath, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like her.

So I decided I’d level another mage on ET.

But what race? There’s human, the old standby. And gnome, but, uh, no thanks. Then there’s the new combinations of dwarf and night elf. Dwarf was very tempting, since I love the male dwarf casting animations and I love their emotes… but I just race changed my shaman to a male dwarf. Which left night elf? Ugh. I HATE the night elf casting animations. Like, so much. I hate when I have to rez my pet or hearth on Kurn. Makes me cringe.

So I stuck with human. I know. I’m boring. But I’ve found that when in doubt, 10% extra rep is never a bad thing. I’d also get to go through the human quests again (probably the quests I’m most familiar with) and really get a good idea of how things have changed.

So my new mage was born and was promptly given the Tattered Dreadmist Mantle, the Tattered Dreadmist Robe, the Discerning Eye of the Beast and, best of all, the Dread Pirate Ring. Hello, 25% extra experience. How are you this fine day?

Well, I rolled her on Thursday and when I went to bed on Friday, she was 28.

I’ve done:

– the vast majority of Elwynn (LOVE the Hogger change! ADORE flight points everywhere!)

– just about all of Westfall (OMG, Hope! Loved the return of Gryan!)

– all of Redridge (and while it was a little long, it was FAR less tedious than the old quests. And yay for the bridge!!)

– 1 Stocks run, 1 Deadmines run, 2 Blackfathom Deeps runs, 1 SFK run and a few minutes of a Gnomer run — I really dig most of the changes (BFD seems mostly unchanged to me, but I never did run that place much) and the Deadmines was fun because I’ve done the heroic version on beta and it was nice to see it at level. SFK seemed okay. A little faster than previously.

So the mage is having fun.

On Tuesday night, I was exploring the new world a bit on Kurn and went to Strat Undead.

So different! I mean, most things are the same — I recognized a lot of my same, old pulls and even Stonespine is there! — but the chapel’s being rebuilt and Aurius, our friend the paladin to whom you give the Medallion of Faith, is no longer there.

You also no longer need a key.

The bosses are the same, for the most part. Just lower level. And while they don’t seem to drop T0 gear any longer, there are some familiar drops, such as the Chitinous Plate Legguards. There’s also no more 45m run/debuff given to you when you open the gate to the gauntlet. RIP, 45m Baron run.

I also think there are fewer aboms to kill outside of the Slaughterhouse.

Anyways, I hadn’t spoiled myself or done any research about Strat. Spoilers ahead!

The Baron’s gone. In his place is Lord Aurius Rivendare. Without a doubt, this is that same paladin who would come to our aid after giving him the Medallion of Faith. I didn’t even realize it until after I killed him. I suspect I’ll have to quest around EPL to find out what happened to the Baron and why Aurius is now the Lord of Stratholme.

The good news in all this is that I got Rivendare’s Charger.

The funny thing is that I haven’t even tried for it. Sure, I’ve probably killed Baron about 150 times, all told. Probably more, really, when you count Madrana’s kills. I’ve never even seen it drop. I’m certainly not someone who went farming for it daily or even weekly and probably not even monthly. I just lucked out. :)

Thus far: Baron Rivendare – 200+, Kurn – 0. But Aurius Rivendare – 0, Kurn – 1. Heh. I like that record. :)

A Requiem for Zul'Gurub

On October 9th, 2005, I started my subscription to World of Warcraft. That’s when I created Kurnmogh, my night elf hunter.

What many people don’t know is why I started playing. I was never a fan of the Warcraft real-time strategy games. I’d played some Diablo and Diablo II, but never really spent a lot of time with either of those games. I was not one of those target people who already knew about Arthas and Jaina and Illidan and Tyrande and Malfurion. Everything was completely new to me.

So why did I start?

Zul’Gurub is why I started playing this game nearly five years ago.

Actually, it was the “Corrupted Blood” incident that happened in September of 2005 that got me started playing.

You see, I read this article about it and, being someone who’s always liked the fantasy genre along with being a sociology student, I thought this was absolutely fascinating. People deliberately diseasing each other? Killing each other? Even though the behaviour was all within a game setting, I was completely fascinated at the idea of people deliberately infecting others with this plague-like thing. (As an aside, I was THRILLED at the launch of 3.0 because of the zombie plague. It was the ZG plague all over again, but deliberately built into the game and I got to experience it firsthand! My inner sociology nerd had a blast.)

So I first started playing this game due to Zul’Gurub and a buggy game mechanic.

It was only on April 1st, 2006, that I first set foot in Zul’Gurub. Imagine my panic when I read the following words:

Your callous disregard for the sovereign might of the Gurubashi Empire has been noted. The inhabitants of Zul’Gurub has been alerted to your presence.

I could regale you readers with tales of defeat and victory against all the beasts in Zul’Gurub. I could tell you how Axe Throwers were chain-sheeped to deal with them at the time or how falling off the bridges were actual issues. I could tell you how, once, some of us ran the hell out of ZG from Jek’lik’s area when we called a wipe. Turns out that she resets, but bat riders don’t.

But I won’t.

Quite simply, what I want to tell you is that Zul’Gurub was my first real raid instance. My little guild actually cleared the instance fully, including Jin’do. We totally took the Jin’do kill in stride, too. Only a handful of guilds on the server had killed him and here were the lowly Fated Heroes, completely clearing ZG.

It took us a long time to get to that point. We went from three-hour nights on Venoxis (April 1, 2006) to 20-minute “Venoxis runs” on the reset we didn’t plan to fully use. (“Venoxis runs” were led by Majik, primarily so he could get his hands on the Fang of Venoxis so he could replace his Hypnotic Blade while still using his snazzy Tome of the Ice Lord.)

We went from 8/20 people being guildies to doing all-guild runs, with people on standby.

We were once robbed of our first-ever Jek’lik kill by virtue of PTR lag. Back in the days before battlegroups, Eldre’Thalas was on the same server as the PTR realms and this meant that, occasionally, while the PTRs were up, we would experience intense lag spikes. One such lag spike happened on our best-ever Jek’lik attempt, causing her not only to heal without being interrupted, but also causing her to then go forth and kill 80% of the raid. (Similarly, years later, we discovered that Vashj also does not lag.)

We killed Mar’li for the first time while I was on vacation in Italy. I had brought my laptop and nothing was going to stop me from raiding with my crew when we were making progress through ZG. (The raid lasted from about 2am Italy time until about 5am. And then I went and did touristy things after 3 hours of sleep. But Mar’li had died, so it was TOTALLY worth it!)

Arlokk never dropped Will of Arlokk for my brother, Fog, but did give it up to Crypt, our priest officer and healing lead. She also dropped Arlokk’s Hoodoo Stick, snagged by Egop, one of our healing paladins (and later, I snagged this on Madrana). It’s great because it looks like we can dual wield. :D

Thekal’s timing was initially tricky, but we mastered burning the three of them down together, thanks to awesome interrupts by people like Kut (who usually ended up dead on the floor somewhere, but that’s his gift to us!) or Football (who is, and let’s face it, awesomesauce). With the heals not a worry, it was like burning down Core Hound packs in MC, at which we were becoming quite adept.

Mandokir was my favourite fight for a while, if only because we once saw him gain so many levels from all the deaths of the players that not only did Mandokir start yelling “DING!” whenever one of us died, but at one point, Jin’do yelled out “Grats!”.

Obviously, he’d gained too many levels for us to finish him off and we called for a wipe, amid a collection of giggles and laughter.

Gahz’ranka, also known as the fish boss, was entirely dependent on Toga, the only one crazy enough at the time to have levelled fishing. He was also a night elf hunter so one night he and I went to scout out Pagle’s Pointe with some creative feigning and shadowmelding. We even crept up to Jin’do’s area using these methods and took great pleasure in sneaking around Zul’Gurub. We saw a couple of Tome of Polymorph: Turtles. I remember some drama around that — mains vs. alts and the like — but all that really matters is that Majik got his and has shunned every other form of Polymorph since. In fact, I would imagine that he will instruct all mages to acquire this tome so that they will all turtle things in Cataclysm, rather than “sheep” things.

When we finally faced Hakkar, I was more excited about it just because he was considered the “end boss” of Zul’Gurub and my little guild was on the brink of killing him. It only dawned on me later that the Corrupted Blood we all had to acquire in order to kill Hakkar was the same thing that had made me decide to pick up the game. When we got him down, I felt accomplished and felt a bit of a thrill, knowing that I had experienced the mechanic that had brought me to the game in the first place.

Zul’Gurub was the site of many, many, MANY wipes and quite a few victories. It was the place with the bugged out fish. It was a place with two mounts that we never, ever saw. It was even the spot where my brother, who had left the guild shortly after I joined, came back to us and the place where he showed off his new tree form as Fated Heroes’ very first Tree of Life.

When I learned that Zul’Gurub was being removed for Cataclysm, I went back there on my hunter. I got exalted with the Zandalar, from about midway through revered. I fished up a new Tome of Polymorph: Turtle. I farmed Mandokir and Thekal for mounts a few times (still no luck!), finally tamed a tiger cub like I’d been meaning to do for years and then, together, four years after we had first done it by each other’s side, my brother and I killed Hakkar and got the achievement for Zul’Gurub.

Being exalted and having the achievement for ZG doesn’t make it any less sad that this raid instance is being removed. It doesn’t even really make me feel all that much better about it. What it did do, however, was let me say goodbye to an instance that, even all these years later, is still as familiar to me as Stratholme is, or Dire Maul, or Blackrock Depths.

Without ZG, I might never have picked up this game and met some truly amazing people. I certainly wouldn’t have had all the experiences I’ve had over the last five years if not for that instance and its buggy Corrupted Blood. So here’s to you, Zul’Gurub, and your inhabitants. I will miss callously disregarding your sovereign might.

Weekend Update

(without Kevin Nealon, Norm MacDonald, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler or Seth Meyers or anyone else who ever hosted SNL’S Weekend Update)

The update is this: I have done nothing on my paladin this weekend. I have been being a GM over on Eldre’Thalas. Trying to organize the ranks all pretty-like, trying to make sure all the toons are at appropriate ranks… It doesn’t help that apparently each character’s authenticator timer only starts when they log in for the first time since 4.0.1, since I wanted to get my guild bank officer (my brother — since I can track him down and beat him if he screws us over) to the proper rank, but his bank toon hadn’t logged in until Friday or so. So I have yet to implement the authenticator requirement for any ranks, which is annoying.

I helped a guildie get Incendius and the BRD key last night before finally doing the Moira Bronzebeard quest/Emperor run in BRD last night with Football. I did it for the achievement (hi, I killed the Emperor at level 58, thanks) and the quests and for nostalgia. I really do love Blackrock Depths. I just know it so damn well. Football and I also did a step in his Tier 0.5 questline, although it appears he’d already done that one before. I loved and hated that questline, culminating in the death of Lord Whatshisnuts (Valthalak).

Today, I did Sunken Temple and got lost. I didn’t remember I had to kill the six guys up top before killing dragons and then undeads and THEN the Shade of Eranikus. Go me. Eventually I got it done, though.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah. I’m pleased to announce the return of the Q&A posts, effective this coming Tuesday. You would not BELIEVE the amount of search engine hits I got after 4.0.1 launched…

And in the interest of pimping out some blogs:

Daritos’ Food for Thought – a long-time member of Apotheosis (and Fated Heroes before that!), Dar will be a first-time officer for Cataclysm and will be playing her resto shaman for us.

The Stories of O – Oestrus has been hanging out with the Apotheosis folks for a few weeks now on her holy priest. I was introduced to her blog via Codi’s and it’s been nice getting to know her, whether she decides to stick with us for Cataclysm or not. She’s also just started co-writing over at Divine Aegis again, so be sure to give that blog a peek for various healy-priest needs.

Things I still need to do:

– finish up responding to comments

– get my screenshot project finished

– finish a lawn dart video for my current guild

– write that requiem for Zul’Gurub

– clarify my feelings about hunters and hunter pets

All righty. Off to go do stuff “in real life” for the evening. :)

Grim Batol (Beta Build 12857)

Okay, after some serious technical issues tonight, I believe I’ve finally managed to produce an actual video. It’s not perfect, it’s ugly in some spots… But here ya go.

I don’t know if it was my group or if the instance was really just that different from, say, Blackrock Caverns, Throne of the Tides or Stonecore… but Grim Batol was easy to heal.

It could also have been my gear. I swapped out some ICC pieces for some greens, reforged a lot of spirit and some crit both to Mastery to give me a significant amount of mastery (400-some instead of like, 40-some) and so my heals were creating shields that were 11% of the heal, not 8%.

There are these drakes you’re supposed to mount up on that will allow you to supposedly blow up groups of trash, but they’re bugged, apparently, so we did things the old-fashioned way — with crowd control. We used a lot of hex and banish (haha, many elementals were immune to the shammy’s Bind Elemental, but not the warlock’s Banish) and a lot of Freezing Traps.

My tank was a level 85 death knight who had over 100k health once buffed.

Two of the DPS were also 85 and were around 70kish health. The other DPS was 84 and was around 60k health. I think I had the least at around 50-55k.

If this Grim Batol run is an example of what healing is supposed to be like in Cataclysm, then *maybe* things aren’t quite so bleak. I still don’t feel too much like a paladin, mind you, but let me tell you about the instance run.

Over the course of the run, there was 10,149,585 damage done. There was 10,098,252 healing done. We had one wipe on a bad pull, but that was it. 26.7% overhealing done.

There are four bosses. The first and last are not in the video, unfortunately.

The first is General Umbriss. He’s a dragon who is hilariously bugged. His Bleeding Wound is not ticking for 5-6k extra damage. Oh, no.

[23:05:44.390] General Umbriss casts Bleeding Wound on Shiramune
[23:05:44.390] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 11408 (O: -1)
[23:05:44.390] Shiramune afflicted by Bleeding Wound from General Umbriss
[23:05:46.430] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 13299 (O: -1)
[23:05:48.402] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 13299 (O: -1)
[23:05:50.412] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 11831 (O: -1, A: 1468)
[23:05:52.407] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 13299 (O: -1)
[23:05:54.394] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 9210 (O: -1, A: 765)
[23:05:56.414] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune Absorb (9974)
[23:05:57.662] Shiramune’s Bleeding Wound fades

It only faded because I threw Hand of Protection on my tank once I saw how low he was getting. We knew it was bugged going in and the plan was to sort of kite/ping-pong him around a bit. So when I noticed the tank actually running away and getting really low on health, I tossed him a BOP, then waited a second, then a Hand of Freedom to wipe off the BOP. I cannot emphasize how important that combination has been in various instances and raids since Trial of the Crusader. Stupid Gormok was actually good for something!

And no, I’m not sure what the hell that absorb is. That’s way too much absorption for my piddling little mastery and it doesn’t show that I used Lay on Hands or anything (although I know I used it now and again).

Anyways, the tank grabbed the boss shortly after I healed him to full (hello, Divine Light, how ARE you?) and got the bleed again:

[23:06:21.759] General Umbriss casts Bleeding Wound on Shiramune
[23:06:21.764] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 9916 (O: -1)
[23:06:21.764] Shiramune afflicted by Bleeding Wound from General Umbriss
[23:06:23.772] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 26153 (O: -1)
[23:06:25.696] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 25161 (O: -1, A: 991)
[23:06:27.742] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 26152 (O: -1)
[23:06:29.721] General Umbriss Bleeding Wound Shiramune 19614 (O: -1)
[23:06:31.715] Shiramune’s Bleeding Wound fades

Let me just say that that tank’s Death Strike was healing him for upwards of 17k.

After the boss, which should be a lot easier when the bleed is fixed, you move through the instance a bit and get some trash packs with two casters and a Gronn. The casters, Twilight Beguilers, cast Chained Mind, which stuns you for five seconds. 1.5 second cast. I’m not sure if it’s interruptable, but make sure you CC one of these guys, because the tank AND the healer getting stunned is bad.

The Enslaved Gronn Brute does hit hard. I forgot to mention this in the video, but he can cast Crunch Armor on his target. It’s very possible to deal with one Beguiler and the Gronn at once, then deal with the CCed mob.

Forgemaster Throngus is the second boss, who is fairly well detailed in the video.

You can see that he starts out hitting hard, but relatively slowly:

[23:11:31.754] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune  14776 (O: -1, A: 1408)
[23:11:35.160] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 2261 (O: -1, A: 12101)
[23:11:37.021] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 12388 (O: -1)

Then he gains his sword thing (Dual Blades) and starts to hit more frequently, although it seems it’s for a little less, particularly from the off-hand. (4-5k hits, as opposed to 10-12k hits.)

[23:11:45.186] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune  Absorb (11344)
[23:11:46.084] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 2117 (O: -1, A: 2204)
[23:11:46.196] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune Dodge
[23:11:46.196] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 7743 (O: -1, A: 2204)
[23:11:47.130] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 10726 (O: -1)
[23:11:48.225] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 4206 (O: -1, A: 741)
[23:11:49.306] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 11928 (O: -1)
[23:11:49.417] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 12730 (O: -1)
[23:11:49.417] Forgemaster Throngus hits Shiramune 10612 (O: -1)

Key points here: That is not a Consecration! Don’t stand in it! It’s a visual cue to get you to move out of the Cave In. ;)

The third boss is Drahga Shadowburner, a caster, who summons elementals and a dragon. The dragon will eventually run away and you can finish off Shadowburner at that point. Really, not a challenging fight. It reminds me a little of the Rend fight in UBRS, but that was a lot more difficult than this seemed to be.

The last boss is Erudax. He looks like General Vezax and there are some Forgotten One type mobs in the trash in his room.

Near as I can understand it, you want to be spread out for this boss to avoid sharing the Binding Shadows, but you need to group up for Shadow Gale. Other than that, not a tough encounter, although I did see an add. Whether the add was part of the fight or we didn’t clear all of the trash, I’m not sure.

Anyways, I hope that look at Grim Batol is useful! Here’s the parse, which doesn’t break things up all nicely yet, but at least you can take a look at things.

http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/ypf184h036rec74m/

Cataclysm Build 12857 – The "Trifecta of Doom" Build

Ladies and gentlemen, Cataclysm Build 12857 shall hereafter be known to me as the “Trifecta of Doom” build.

Paladin Summaries

To begin, let us look at the paladin tree summaries, which let you know what abilities you get just for spending your first points in that tree. (Click for a larger version.)

Notice anything weird? Wrong? Strange?

How about the fact that the Holy tree only has 3 abilities listed, followed by their mastery, whereas prot and ret both have four?

Take a closer look at the Holy summary.

Holy Shock, fine. Walk in the Light (still at 10%, mind you), fine. Meditation (50% of regen while casting), fine. Mastery seems fine.

What’s missing?

I was about halfway through a Blackrock Caverns run last night when I realized what the problem was.

Spiritual Focus is missing.

Are you kidding me? There I am, in Blackrock Caverns, and someone, while running back to the group, accidentally pulled a pack of mobs and trained them right to us. We got a couple of them CCed, the tank grabbed the rest but there was a caster who wasn’t CCed who kept shooting me with Arcane Missiles. And my casts were being pushed back, even with Concentration Aura on.

I have faint hopes that this might be retooled or something, but for right now, it’s just gone. It seems as though Blizzard has completely gutted holy paladins.

The Trifecta of Doom Build’s Major Changes

I call this build the Trifecta of Doom Build because three major tenets of our class have been changed or removed, along with a couple of minor things.

1) Illumination has indeed been removed from the Holy tree. It’s just flat-out gone. Vanished. Poof. After four years of consistently nerfing a core talent in the Holy tree, Blizzard has finally gotten rid of it. I honestly have a visceral reaction to this change. They should have tossed it out four years ago. It would have been more along the lines of having a good friend die suddenly in an accident, rather than seeing that friend die a slow, painful death. Sure, it would have hurt like hell to begin with, but with it having only been part of Vanilla WoW, rather than Vanilla, Burning Crusade AND Wrath, it would have hurt less overall.

2) Divine Plea now only returns 10% of your mana over 15 seconds (down from 25%) and the cooldown has been raised from 1 minute to 2 minutes. Healing reduction remains at 50% while Divine Plea is active. Considering what an important role Divine Plea has played in holy paladin healing for almost two years, this definitely comes as a blow.

3) Spiritual Focus‘ disappearance was a wholly unexpected change. One of the few benefits to being a healer who mostly casts spells with a cast time is that, with Spiritual Focus (70% pushback resist) and even the base Concentration Aura (35% pushback resist), we were not able to be interrupted by damage. Sure, we were very susceptible to interrupt effects. There’s nothing quite as panic inducing as watching EVERY ABILITY YOU HAVE go on cooldown at the same time! But at least we didn’t get interrupted by damage.

Did you know that priests no longer have a pushback resist talent? And neither do druids. Shaman do, in their resto baseline skills, as do elemental shaman, and mages still have Burning Soul. But warlocks, priests, druids and paladins don’t have pushback talents or skills.

That’s 9 specs without access to pushback resistance (outside of Concentration Aura) versus 5 who do. Who here thinks that they’re phasing out pushback resistance entirely?

<raises hand>

The minor things I mentioned are the removal or change of most talents that actually improve our healing, as I mentioned the other day. We have precisely one talent in our first two tiers that actually improves healing, which is Divinity. We have Last Word, which increases the critical strike chance of Word of Glory, if used on someone under 35% health, yes, but this is not a flat increase. This is a random proc under certain conditions. We have cast-time reductions on Holy Light and Divine Light with Clarity of Purpose, true, but again, this isn’t an increase in healing, it’s just a haste increase on two spells.

Other Changes

Holy Power generation has been fixed, finally. I now can generate Holy Power through the following methods:

a) Using Holy Shock grants 1 charge of Holy Power.

b) 3/3 Tower of Radiance means that directly healing your Beacon of Light target with Holy Shock, Flash of Light, Holy Light or Divine will grant you 1 charge of Holy Power. (Yes, using Holy Shock on your Beacon target still grants you 2 charges.) This eliminates the Word of Glory bug and removes the Holy Power generation from using Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance.

c) Using Crusader Strike , which is a baseline paladin ability in Cataclysm, will grant you 1 charge of Holy Power.

You also no longer get the red W buff that was a placeholder for Holy Power in your buff area. Holy Power charges are only visible on your character portrait. It does not seem as though there is a time limit on Holy Power charges any longer. When we had the little buff icons, Holy Power was lasting 30 seconds. If there’s no longer a duration, this is good and means we can store Holy Power charges, then drink, then move on to the next pull with a full Holy Power bar.

If there is a duration, it is certainly much longer than 30 seconds as I’ve been sitting here with 3 charges on me for about five minutes, now.

In the cosmetic area…

Hammer of Wrath has had its graphic changed to the old 2H Weapon Specialization graphic from the ret tree:

Cleanse‘s graphic has gone back to the old Purify graphic. I suppose this makes sense because Cleanse removes magic, poison and disease, whereas Purify only does poison and disease, and prots and rets won’t be able to remove magic.

Clarity of Purpose‘s graphic is now the old Blessing of Wisdom graphic. This makes me happy. Blessing of Might now provides attack power and mp5, so to see the Blessing of Wisdom icon still somewhere in the game makes me smile.

Daybreak is a new talent that is actually surprisingly useful. The Glyph of Holy Shock now increases Holy Shock’s critical strike chance by 5% instead of reducing its cooldown by 1s, so resetting the cooldown on Holy Shock isn’t bad, especially if you proc Infusion of Light to get a super-fast Holy Light. (Too bad Holy Light still doesn’t heal for much of anything.) You can hit Holy Shock, then if it crits, you can hit Holy Light for a sub-one-second (and very cheap) cast and hope for a Daybreak proc, then go back to Holy Shock. Daybreak, by the way, has got a pretty “power aura” notification, as seen below. (And that was a Holy Light cast, by the way. 6782 at level 83. Sigh.)

Speaking of Infusion of Light, it almost works properly, now. Instead of giving you an instant Flash of Light (as the live version does), it now actually reduces the cast time of your Holy Light by 1.5 seconds as advertised. Trouble is, it’s still currently consumed by your next Flash of Light, even though it does nothing for the cast time. Ah, beta.

Talents

Okay, since we’re moving into talent discussion, let’s take a look at what I think the best talent spec for a holy paladin is at the moment.

31/0/10

Let’s walk through it together.

Holy

Tier 1

Arbiter of the Light: 0/2. This is largely because it no longer adds critical strike chance to Holy Light.

Divinity: 3/3. No-brainer.

Judgements of the Pure: 3/3. Also a no-brainer.

Tier 2:

Clarity of Purpose: 3/3. 0.5 seconds off healing spells is a good thing.

Last Word: 2/2. In previous builds, I’ve scoffed at this talent. There seemed better places to spend one’s points. Not only do we no longer have better places to spend our points, but this is actually really useful in those “holy crap” situations. There are two particularly foul attacks by Evolved Twilight Zealots in Blackrock Caverns:

1) Gravity Strike: Inflicts damage equal to 70% of an enemy’s current health and briefly reduces its Attack Power.

2) Grievous Whirl: A vicious attack that causes the target to bleed profusely until fully healed.  Deals 750 damage every 2 seconds until healed.

The combination of those two? VERY BAD. So Last Word, while originally not as great as some of the other talents we could have picked up, does have its uses.

Blazing Light: 0/2. All damage. Damage of Holy Shock and Exorcism. Unless you want to be a Shockadin (which won’t ever be viable as a raiding spec, but definitely seems like a decent soloing idea), stay away from this.

Tier 3

Denounce: 0/2. If this worked the way Telluric Currents does for resto shammies, I’d be much more inclined to pick this up. As it is, it’s a free, instant Exorcism after every Holy Shock. Shockadin territory.

Divine Favor: 1/1. Different icon than the live version, different ability altogether, but 20% spell haste and 20% spell crit for 20 seconds on a 3m cooldown? Definitely worth the investment.

Infusion of Light: 2/2. Even if this didn’t lead into Speed of Light, this is still a good talent. Snag it.

Daybreak: 2/2. As I explained above, very nice to have.

Tier 4

Enlightened Judgements: 0/2. PVP talent. I mistakenly took this when I was respeccing because I’m apparently hard-wired to click on that icon. So when I ran Blackrock Caverns last night, every time I judged, I healed myself for 4.2k-5.5k. This heal can crit, too, and I saw crits of 6-7k.

Beacon of Light: 1/1. 50% of healing done is still better than 0% of healing done.

Speed of Light: 3/3. Excellent talent to reduce the cooldown on Holy Radiance and to help with positioning.

Sacred Cleansing: 1/1. I still can’t believe we have to waste a point just so that our Cleanse remains exactly the same as in Vanilla, BC and WotLK, but it’s well-worth the point anyways.

Tier 5

Conviction: 3/3. Bonuses to healing are good.

Aura Mastery: 1/1. Same as the live version, definitely worth the point.

Improved Concentration Aura: 2/2. With Spiritual Focus missing, presumed dead, this is a must-have. 50% chance to resist pushback for you and your group.

Tier 6

Tower of Radiance: 3/3. No-brainer. Any way to gain Holy Power is good. 267 charges gained over the course of my run last night.

Blessed Life: 0/2. I specced 1/2 for this last night to test it out. From what I can tell, this does require direct damage done from a mob in order to proc. I do not think AOE effects count, as I stood in Quakes and Blast Waves and such to no effect. It only granted me 61 charges over the run.

Tier 7

Light of Dawn: 1/1. Still has a crappy animation, but you should definitely take it.

Protection

Take no talents here.

Retribution

Tier 1

Eye for an Eye: 0/2. Worthless to us as healers.

Crusade: 3/3. Holy Shock’s healing increased by 30% is all we care about.

Improved Judgement: 2/2. It’s not quite as far as in Wrath (30yd as opposed to 40), but it’s well-worth taking anyways.

Tier 2

Eternal Glory: 2/2. What a freaking lifesaver this thing is. I gained 176 charges of Holy Power over the course of the run because of this talent.

Rule of Law: 3/3. Well, I can only get 1/3 at the moment, since I’m only 83, but we’ll want to fill this up to increase crit chance on Word of Glory and Holy Shock.

And that’s about it for talents. About the only wiggle room I see is dropping Conc Aura for Blessed Life or Enlightened Judgements, but if Spiritual Focus is really dead, I can’t advise that for any reason in PVE healing.

Blackrock Caverns

So I did a Blackrock Caverns run last night with a fairly decently geared tank from my live realm. As a healer/tank combo, we still waited about 15 minutes for a queue, probably due to the late hour.

After some initial lag issues relating to using addons, I turned them all off and just healed the way I always have in Beta — terrified because I can’t properly see things on my laughable version of raid frames.

It went reasonably well. The first boss wasn’t a problem. Even the second boss wasn’t too bad. The third boss was okay. That’s as far as I’d previously gotten, so everything beyond that was new to me. There’s a Core Hound fight, it’s AWESOME. haha. It was actually the one fight that I felt was tuned well for our group. It was annoying to be feared and have fire show up, etc, but I finished the fight with just about no mana and everyone alive. The damage wasn’t horrible, but it was challenging, particularly with a movement aspect.

The last boss is ridiculous. As near as I can figure, you have the boss and he has two adds. The adds are elementals. The adds do not go after whoever has the highest aggro on them, but rather, WHOEVER HIT THEM LAST.

Sounds like a fun mechanic, right?

Wrong.

These little bastards, if you’re close enough to them, inflict a debuff on you.

Would you like to know what this non-dispellable debuff looks like?

It’s called Crepuscular Veil. And it reduces healing done on its target by 99% for four seconds. It only gets cast when they’re in range, mind you, so you basically have to kite them. They are immune to stuns, but Entangling Roots work just fine. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if we had had a shaman for Bind Elemental or a warlock for Banish, but we didn’t. Our group was, I kid you not, four paladins and a feral druid.

Repentence doesn’t work on elementals. And they’re immune to stuns, so Hammer of Justice is worthless.

It’s clear that what you’re supposed to do is CC one of them and kite the other while you bring down the boss. A hunter would have been great. Anything with a pet would have been great, too — just stick the pet on one for a good 15 seconds or so, then pull the add off the pet, heal the pet, put the pet back on the add.

We couldn’t get it done with our group composition, although we got the feral druid to go resto and basically cast roots and then he and I were going to ping-pong the remaining add. It actually didn’t go that badly, but we’d tried 3-4 times or so and X (not xmolder, but the tank from my live guild) had to go, so we called it.

During one of the attempts, I noticed the druid dropped this green thing on the ground. “OH MY GOD,” I said out loud, to myself, “EFFLORESCENCE!!!!” So I went and stood in it! (Click for the larger version.)

Apart from that healing debuff, the Grievous Whirl and the Gravity Strike, things weren’t too bad. It was important that our tank be aware of his debuffs (charging into the alloys with 48 stacks of a “take more fire damage” debuff is bad!) and that the DPS watch the floor and not stand in front of mobs who cleave. But it wasn’t terrible.

What is surprising is the healing breakdown. (Yes, I logged the run. I love World of Logs.)

Here’s my healing by spell:

1) Holy Shock: 1,603,147 healing, 20.4%, 165 hits, 63 crits, 228 total. 21.7% overheal.

2) Beacon of Light: 1,186,292 healing, 15.1%, 357 hits/total. 29.2% overheal.

3) Word of Glory: 1,158,982 healing, 14.8%, 75 hits, 105 crits, 180 total. 10.3% overheal.

4) Flash of Light: 1,143,394 healing, 14.6%, 106 hits, 36 crits, 142 total. 14.7% overheal.

5) Divine Light: 1,124, 898 healing, 14.3%, 69 hits, 24 crits, 93 total. 9.2% overheal.

6) Holy Radiance: 561,679 healing, 7.2 %, 525 hits, 177 crits, 702 total. 36.1% overheal.

7) Holy Light: 494,658 healing, 6.3%, 66 hits, 16 crits, 82 total. 17.4% overheal.

8) Light of Dawn: 331,583 healing, 4.2%, 96 hits, 26 crits, 122 total. 37.5% overheal.

9) Lay on Hands: 144,643 healing, 1.8%, 4 hits, 1 crit, 5 total. 24.8% overheal.

10) Enlightened Judgements: 93,592 healing, 1.2%, 38 hits, 8 crits, 46 total. 58.4% overheal.

First of all, that’s probably the most I have EVER used Holy Shock in my life. Daybreak procced 93 times, which is nice, but it’ll also proc even if Holy Shock isn’t on cooldown, oddly, so that might or might not have had anything to do with it.

Second of all, look at the next few spells I used. Look at the percentages. 15%, 14%, 14%, 14%. With Holy Shock at 20% and my next four spells at 14-15%, that’s a pretty even distribution, particularly considering where holy paladins are at right now. I also could have used Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance a LOT more frequently.

And if I had used Holy Light every time Infusion of Light procced (63 times), then I probably would have had more Holy Lights used. It’s so difficult to think that the sound effect for IoL means I should cast HL instead of FoL. It’s a very different mindset, especially considering I’m still healing on live and can’t get used to the new way without screwing myself over on live.

What This Means

It seems to me that this is what they probably want — healers of all kinds to use different spells as appropriate instead of relying on one or two spells. But part of why I used such a variety of spells is because I wasn’t sure what to use next.

They say that Holy Light is our go-to spell. Well, it doesn’t heal for much. It’s okay that Holy Light heals for next to nothing IF you basically pair it with an Infusion of Light proc. If you don’t, it’s next to worthless. Like I’ve said before, I have 50k health in my HOLY GEAR. My tank last night had 75k health in a regular dungeon, not, you know, ICC. Do you know what a 6-7k heal does to a tank who has lost 70% of his existing health due to Gravity Strike? It as though you didn’t actually cast a damn thing. And it took you about 2.2 seconds to do it, with over 1000 haste, at level 83. If it took you .7 seconds to do it, which it does, after an Infusion of Light proc, that’s fine.

In my experience, Holy Shock is our go-to heal. I’m pretty sure I don’t like that. I’m also pretty sure that this is how Blizzard can justify the loss of Spiritual Focus. “But you’re NOT always casting spells with a cast time! Holy Shock! Word of Glory! Light of Dawn! Holy Radiance!”

And maybe they’re right. Maybe paladins are supposed to be the new mobile healing class. Except that Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance are on 30 seconds cooldowns, Holy Shock is on a 6 second cooldown and Word of Glory is dependent on a whole other resource that is, as I’m sure Walks will mention, strongly linked to none other than Holy Shock. And Holy Light, a spell with a stupidly long cast time, is supposed to be our go-to spell.

I just don’t understand what they’re doing. Usually, I can see the method to the madness, even if I loathe the method with all my being. But I just can’t see what they’re trying to do here. It feels as though Blizzard is all over the place with holy paladins right now. “No, don’t cast!” “But a casted spell is your go-to spell!” And then they throw things like Gravity Strike at us. The content is telling us to do one thing (Divine Light and Flash of Light fairly frequently) but our talents are telling us to do another (Cast Holy Shock ALL OF THE TIME!).

I’ve been thinking a lot since my run last night, while writing up this post and doing regular, everyday stuff. I don’t see what direction they want us to go in. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s too early in the beta to see that.

What I can see, though, is the death of the spec I have loved playing since July of 2006. That’s when I started really trying to level my paladin as holy and I’ve basically been holy ever since. I keep trying to make sure my emotions don’t overly inform my posts, but I can’t help but be disappointed. There is very little that is at all familiar about holy paladins right now. Illumination gone. Divine Favor changed. Divine Illumination gone. Divine Plea changed. Spiritual Focus gone. Sacred Shield gone. Flash of Light’s HoT gone.

The only thing I remotely recognize about paladins in Cataclysm is Holy Shock. Everything else is completely different or gone. The talent trees are dumbed down and you can now almost happen upon the optimal spec by chance, just by allocating 5 points per tier. And yet, the content is challenging to people in ICC gear?

I know. Tuning of the encounters, of the abilities, of the talents, of the glyphs, of everything. I know.

But I do think that this Trifecta of Doom build has turned a corner for holy paladins and I’m not quite sure we can ever go back.

Blackrock Depths, the Shadowforge Key and You

Some tweeting tonight led to some nostalgia about Blackrock Depths. I freaking love that place. I know it pretty damn well, after having run it approximately eighty four zillion times back in my 50s and 60s on Kurn and Madrana and, well, the rest of my toons.

As such, I thought it was time to throw out another Classic Dungeon video! This is just a short one; how to get the key to BRD. Your fellow party members will love you if you have this key.

Beta Build 12644, Throne of the Tides

Here’s a look at the new dungeon named Throne of the Tides. The random dungeon finder tool says it’s 80-82, I believe. I have run this dungeon probably about seven or eight times and only completed it once.

This is the first thing people need to know about the dungeons: they aren’t pushovers like Utgarde Keep and The Nexus. They require some forethought, some crowd control, environmental awareness and some luck.

Continue reading “Beta Build 12644, Throne of the Tides”