Tech and the Devaluation of Gear

When I first walked through the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands and ended up in Hellfire Peninsula, I was astounded at how quickly I replaced my gear. My hard-fought T0.5 gear meant nothing. My Rhok’delar? Nada. Even my Tier 1 gear, what little of it I had, was laughable. The stats on the gear that was dropping, even the greens, just far outweighed anything I’d ever even seen before. Just the stamina on the gear alone was astonishing. This was my introduction to gear resets.

Every expansion, it’s the same thing — wander around in the new zones for a while, replace everything. It’s always been a little sad for me, because it seems to devalue anything “tangible” (as tangible as anything is in this game, anyhow) you’ve earned over the last couple of years. Even mounts aren’t immune, since there’s no stopping people from getting Ashes of A’lar or whatever spiffy mounts are out there, thereby (in my opinion) devaluing them. I was truly saddened when I had to replace my heroic ICC gear in Cataclysm and am still somewhat miffed that my Reins of the Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher can be earned by any yahoo who puts in two or maybe three weeks of effort (as opposed to my, oh, six months of effort), but no, I’m not bitter, nope… Okay, where was I? Right. Expansions.

For me, the worst part of a new expansion (aside from needing to relearn everything, of course) is how quickly the previous expansion is washed away. When we got to Northrend, who cared about Outlands? No one, that’s who. We dropped that continent and its endless demons like a hot potato and charged to the frozen depths of Northrend. And when Cataclysm came out, who went BACK to Northrend? Basically no one. Everything from previous expansions just vanishes so quickly when a new expansion comes out and gear is no exception. Not only that, but your gear is generally outdated in an insultingly short period of time. Of course, this makes sense, from a developer’s point of view: you can’t have someone who’s been playing for six years have an in-game advantage over the person who picked up the game three days ago. Gear resets make sense from a design standpoint because it allows new players (or returning players who had previously quit) to jump right in with everyone else in levelling content and early raid content.

It’s still kind of sad to see the gear go by the wayside. Maybe I’m just sentimental like that, though.

I was reading about the 5.4 upcoming feature, the Proving Grounds. It sounds great, to be honest. I love the idea of being able to test my skills, solo. And hopefully people will view it as a learning opportunity, too. Maybe now PUG tanks won’t be morons! Maybe PUG DPS won’t stand in bad! Maybe PUG healers will understand what COOLDOWNS are!

(Somehow, I remain pessimistic about the reality of the situation, but the possibility of those things will exist, at least, thanks to Proving Grounds… maybe.)

However, one of the phrases in the Blizzard post about it caught my eye.

“Upon entering the Proving Grounds, your gear will be scaled down much like it is in Challenge Modes.”

For some reason, reading this phrase just solidified a thought I’d had for months, maybe even a year. At some point, around last summer, something about the “scaling down” system they’d talked about for Challenge Modes bugged me. It irked me. When I thought about it, I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me. I couldn’t understand why I was moderately frowny about “upgrading” items via Valor Points. But now? Now, I GET IT. I understand why this bothers me! And, lucky you, I am going to share my thought with you.

My thought is this: Gear pretty much no longer matters in the game.

Blizzard has eradicated the need for gear because their “tech” has rendered it useless. I’ve seen this happen before, mind you. On various PTRs testing heroic modes, you would often get a shirt to wear that would augment your current gear by X amount, allowing you to participate in and test the heroic encounters.

I remember it striking me as odd, at the time, that they could just give us a shirt that augmented everything by a certain percent or amount and bam, even while wearing our same gear, we were suddenly that much more powerful. But I never really thought too much about it. Suddenly, over the last couple of days, my thoughts have finally gathered together and it’s made me realize that Blizzard has done so much with its “tech” that gear has lost meaning.

More than any expansion has ever done, Blizzard has made gear not matter. That’s not to say that you can expect to go to a heroic raid in the Twill set, mind you (although that would be hilarious), but in Challenge Modes, as long as you’re ilvl 463 or higher, you’ll be scaled down. I’m unsure about Proving Grounds ilvls, but you’ll similarly be scaled down, so people are on even ground with each other, much as they are with Challenge Modes.

But gear isn’t obsolete, Kurn, geez! you may say, scoffing at my thought.

True. But I didn’t say it was obsolete. I said it doesn’t matter. There’s a slight difference. The major difference, to me, is that Blizzard’s scaling “tech” has made obtaining better gear (for Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds) mostly worthless. In the same, upcoming patch, WoW players will also see Flex Raids, which will allow a raid to form for a group that is sized anywhere between 10 and 25 people and the raid will dynamically shift difficulties. They’ll also likely see Virtual Realms, grouping low-population realms together to act as though they’re all on one larger server. The “tech” they keep coming up with is changing things so that some core distinctions are being thrown out the window. This whole “upgrading” items? What is up with that? I first looked at it as another way to enhance items, like gems or enchants, but it still didn’t sit well with me. (As an aside, it’s suddenly clear to me why I never really liked reforging.)

Now, despite all this, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing (shockingly. Are you surprised?), just that it’s a significant departure from where WoW began.

Gear is always on everyone’s mind, regardless of what activity they enjoy pursuing in the game, basically. I loved getting new gear, but I didn’t raid for gear. I recognized that my raid group’s gear was how my raid group would advance, so I took my own upgrades (or lack thereof) in stride. Still, to this day, I remember that Halion never dropped his boots for me, that Heroic Saurfang never dropped that mail (!) belt for me, that I didn’t get EITHER Vashj’s OR Illidan’s maces… Gear should matter, even if it’s not the major reason we play. It’s the main way in which players interact with their opponents in WoW, so of course players want to improve themselves. By the end of Wrath of the Lich King, my brother (Fog), Majik and I could clear Heroic Gundrak (with the extra boss) in something like 11 minutes, on non-raiding alts, with Maj tanking, me healing and my brother DPSing, even if the other two DPS did less damage than I did as a resto druid. That’s a huge improvement on the time it used to take players, in crappy level 80 blues, when Wrath began. Gear made the difference, even if it was from ilvl 178/200 to ilvl 232/245.

All this “tinkering” with items and gear, well, it feels to me as though Blizzard has pulled the curtain aside by demonstrating that they can adjust item levels so easily, so arbitrarily. It’s as though I was in awe of the Wizard of Oz and then the curtain got pulled aside and there was the Wizard, just this old guy working smoke and fire machines with a microphone. The magic was gone.

WoW has always been a math-based game, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this has finally happened, but some of the allure of new gear was knowing that it would make a difference in what choices you made with your gear. And now… there are circumstances where new gear isn’t really going to make much of (if any) a difference.

Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For one, Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds are both skill-based challenges. It’s about how well you play as a player, not what kind of gear you got while some guild you paid carried you. It’s about knowing your class abilities, even the ones you rarely use. It’s about knowing what each different talent does and figuring out which would work best in those circumstances. (And I say all this without having DONE either Challenge Modes or Proving Grounds, so you can take that with a grain of salt, since I know people buy gold runs and such.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of rewarding skill versus luck.

I just find it a bit of a shame that Blizzard’s “tech” has enabled them to show us exactly how meaningless gear is. To me, it reinforces the utter futility in caring about gear so much, except we’re not just being shown that at the start of an expansion or on a PTR — we’re being shown that constantly throughout this expansion. When I was actively playing, I cared about my job in the game, not my gear, except as to how my gear would help with my job. (Stupid Halion boots. Grump.) But now that it’s just so easy for Blizzard to arbitrarily scale gear, raid difficulty and even actual realms… doesn’t it seem as though we’ve gone through the looking glass? I feel as though I can now see, with clearer eyes, the sheer pointlessness of the gearing aspect of the game. Raiders gear up for heroic dungeons as they level up. They ding max level and then start gearing out of heroics for raids, supplemented by crafted and rep gear. Then they gear up for heroic raids through a combination of LFR and normal raids. Then the raiding gear-up happens all over again for the next tier. And the next. And then, it really doesn’t matter because it’s the last raid patch of the expansion and in like, two months, all that gear you’re working for is just going to be worthless anyway.

If something as basic and integrated as gear can be arbitrarily changed in the blink of an eye, if something as solid as a raid’s difficulty can be dynamically adjusted based on the number of people in the zone or raid, if a realm can suddenly be grouped with other realms to the point of removing pretty much any distinguishing details between them aside from a name… is there nothing untouchable any longer? I guess I’m just wondering if the malleability of the game has gone a touch too far. If a piece of gear isn’t unchangeable at its core, isn’t as solid as something can be in this game, is there anything that is?

As my final word on the matter: Yes, I know, enchants, sockets, gems, reforging, upgrading and scaling are all different points on the same continuum. I realize that everyone’s limits will be different. Personally, I think my limit is up there after gems and before reforging, because I think as soon as you make things TOO malleable, you lose something in the process. My two cents. :)

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list about my Guide site over at Kurn.info!



Of LFR and Shields and Offhands

So, lots of news to do with us and our gear of late! I apologize for not being on the cutting edge of news, but hey, research papers and final exams and lack of sleep all take their tolls. ;)

Anyhow, let’s talk a bit about this little tidbit that affects Looking For Raid gear ONLY: “Some items were recently reclassified.” That means that several items were tagged so that only those classes can use them.

  • Timepiece of the Bronze Flight – Paladin, Shaman
  • Ledger of Revolting Rituals – Druid, Priest

What’s this? Paladins can no longer roll need on the Ledger? But isn’t the Ledger BETTER than the shield?

It was.

They have hotfixed the Timepiece of the Bronze Flight to add a red socket with a 10 int socket bonus. It is now 20 intellect stronger than the Ledger. (Unfortunately, no tooltips seem to have picked up on this fix.)

Without the hotfix to the shield, the reclassification of the Ledger to Druid and Priest ONLY would have been ridiculous — but again, those tags are only for Looking For Raid. If you’re raiding normal Dragon Soul (or heroic Dragon Soul, for that matter) then those classifications don’t exist.

However, given the change to the shield, there’s absolutely no point in us snagging the Ledger at all unless we’ve been SERIOUSLY screwed over by drops of the shield.

I have to say I’m kind of glad about this change. The last time I seriously used an offhand instead of a shield was probably in vanilla WoW when I was using Arlokk’s Hoodoo Stick, which was awesome if only because it looked like I was dual-wielding, hee! (And now I’m sad I won’t pick up the Ledger because now I can’t transmogrify the Ledger INTO Arlokk’s Hoodoo Stick!) But yes, as I was saying, I’m glad about the change overall. Paladins and shaman are supposed to use shields. Period. I’m not sure why that is, but seeing a paladin or a shaman using an offhand when a shield is more appropriate for them makes me sad.

I mean, no one BUT a holy paladin or a resto/ele shaman is going to want to pick up a shield with spellpower intellect on it. But potentially more than just a druid or a priest would want an intellect off-hand, particularly if it doesn’t have spirit on it. Intellect shields are made for us and the intellect-loving shaman. That’s clearly Blizzard’s vision for us and, despite my bitching (which I do a lot) I find myself reluctant to stray from that particular vision. A lot of the time, Blizzard’s vision will be in opposition with what is seen as being “optimal”. In the case of the Ledger vs. Timepiece, I was willing to just keep using my heroic Beth’tilac shield until everyone in my raid who wanted the Ledger had gotten it, and then I would have expressed interest in the Ledger. (And then would have transmogrified it.)

I want to play my class optimally (or as close as I can while still enjoying what I’m doing) but when “the vision” of the class is in opposition to “optimal play”, it discourages me overall.

So good for Blizzard for fixing the Timepiece. I’m really glad I get to rock a shield again this tier. That’s just how it should be.

(Now, having said that, anyone have any recommendations for a shield to transmogify to that matches Lightforge?)

There was also a hotfix to the Heart of Unliving: It got 323 intellect to go with the stacking 88 spirit bonus.

And there was a hotfix to our 4pc bonus — now increases healing done by Holy Radiance by 5%, down from 20%. So… yeah, that’s a nerf.

As such, I updated my Gear List post with a few strikeouts and new notes.

In other news, Apotheosis is seeking a HUNTER and a RESTORATION SHAMAN! We’re 7/8 with a 7.8% wipe on Madness and, well, we’re generally awesome, so apply now. :)

Kurn's 4.3 Holy Paladin Gear List

(Edited on December 15th, 2011 — hotfixes aplenty affecting the 4pc bonus, Heart of the Unliving and Timepiece of the Bronze Flight!)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, patch 4.3 is expected to drop in about a week (estimated November 29th), so it’s time for another one of those silly gear posts. Bear in mind that this is my opinion only and I will be prioritizing secondary stats in the following manner (keeping in mind that Intellect is always our primary stat):

Spirit > Haste > Crit > Mastery

Why am I prioritizing as I am? Due to incoming changes to Judgements of the Pure, our regen will be much more reliant on spirit, so I’ll look to have spirit on each piece possible. Haste, while it will drop slightly in priority due to the changes to Holy Radiance, will still be useful in getting more casts out. Crit will still be somewhat lacklustre. Mastery will get a bump up because it will now apply to targets on whom you cast Holy Radiance (and presumably those healed by the AOE effect), but my personal playstyle is not that of a raid healer, so I’m going to continue to focus on Spirit/Haste-heavy gear.

Note that I will focus primarily on the 397 ilvl gear from normal Dragon Soul, but in many cases, the 384 (Looking For Raid) version will work just as well.

As to the 2pc and 4pc set bonuses for Tier 13… Well, I’ll have a bunch of different potential gearsets in this post, I guess. I like the 2pc (although I feel it’s a little underpowered) and while I like the 4pc, I’m not sure how much use I’m personally going to get from it.

For reference:

2pc Tier 13 set bonus: After using Divine Favor, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for 15 sec.
4pc Tier 13 set bonus: Increases the healing done by your Holy Radiance spell by 20%. 5%. (This was hotfixed!)

It’s also important to note that ALL TIER will be dropping from raids, including lower ilvl (384) versions of the tier from the Looking for Raid difficulty, so no tier will be available with Valor Points. As well, Alizabal, the new Baradin Hold boss, seems to be dropping tier gloves and tier legs as both previous Baradin Hold bosses have done.

Tier 13/ilvl 397

HEAD

Two real options here, the tier helm and the vendor helm. That’s right, helms will be available for Valor Points at the vendor.

Glowing Wings of Hope: 2200 Valor Points from the VP vendor. This will take a bit longer than you would expect to earn. While the weekly cap is being raised to 1000 Valor Points, you’ll only earn 100 VP per raid boss kill (regardless of 10 or 25-man format). There are probably better pieces to pick up from the VP vendor first, so you might be waiting even longer than just collecting the 2200 VP (which is a minimum of two weeks and a bit). That said, the secondaries on this (spirit and crit) aren’t bad.

Headguard of Radiant Glory: This is the tier helm and the token for it drops off the sixth boss in the Dragon Soul raid, Warmaster Blackhorn. Why yes, that IS 280 mastery on it. My vote is for the non-tier helm! But let’s see what we can cobble together, shall we?

NECK

Again, two options here, one from the raid instance and one from the vendors.

Threadlinked Chain: 1250 Valor Points on this baby, which is still at least a week and a bit before you can afford this. Again, I’m not sure if this should be our priority for Valor Points, but we’ll see where we stand after going through all the loot. Plus, it’s got spirit, which is great, but it has crit, so it’s not what I would consider the best combination of stats.

Petrified Fungal Heart: Beautiful! Spirit and geez, would you look at that haste? Insane. The best news here is that this drops from the first boss in Dragon Soul, Morchok. This is definitely Kurn’s Choice ™, due to ease of acquisition and the pretty, pretty stats.

SHOULDERS

Uh. Absolutely no choices here. Go tier or go home.

Mantle of Radiant Glory: The good news? These are fantastic shoulders. 2 red sockets, 20 intellect socket bonus, lots of haste. Even better, the token for these aren’t off the second to last boss, like they were in Firelands or on an end-boss, like they were on Cho’gall in Bastion of Twilight. They’re off the fourth boss, Hagara the Stormbinder.

CLOAK

Again, no choices here as there is not one single cloak that drops in Dragon Soul.

Woundlicker Cover: Well, at least it’s a great cloak. Red socket, intellect bonus, spirit and haste, all for the bargain-basement price of 1250 Valor Points! This is looking as though it might be our number one VP purchase.

CHEST

Back to options! It’s nice to have a choice in gear.

Shining Carapace of Glory: All red sockets, all of the time, it appears. I’m not complaining. This chestpiece is available from the Valor Point vendor for 2200 VP and is possibly more easily available than the tier chest. Still, the crit makes me more inclined to put something else (like the cloak!) ahead of this on my potential shopping list.

Breastplate of Radiant Glory: YES PLEASE. Seriously, we have been blessed with some amazing chestpieces this expansion, but this is SERIOUSLY an amazing one. 3 sockets (including a yellow, so we can slot in a Reckless gem in there for one of our two yellow meta gem requirements) and plenty of haste. Even if you don’t like haste much as a secondary, the third socket makes this the winner, hands down. This drops off Ultraxion, the fifth boss in Dragon Soul.

WRISTS

I feel as though I’ve stumbled into an alternate universe because we have not one, not two, but three choices this tier. Is this really the same game that gave us just one 359 option for bracers?

Flashing Bracers of Warmth: Selling for a mere 1250 Valor Points at the vendor, these bracers are the easiest of the three to acquire. They also lack a socket and have mastery on them as a secondary. Still, not a terrible choice if your only other options are 378 bracers or if you’re doing that whole “mastery-stacking” thing.

Heartblood Wristplates: Pardon me as I attempt not to drool. Red socket, spirit, haste? Awesome. They drop off the third boss in Dragon Soul, Yor’sahj the Unsleeping, so they may not be terribly difficult to acquire.

Soul Redeemer Bracers: … okay, I’m drooling. These are crafted. The recipe for them is likely to be a drop from Dragon Soul. The materials for these actually aren’t too bad: 4 Truegold, 30 Volatile Life, 2 newly-unbound Chaos Orbs and, okay, well, the 4 Essences of Destruction will be the sticking point. These will likely be dropping in Dragon Soul the same way Living Embers did. Bear in mind that there are no heroic versions of this, so for the next ilvl tier, the drops from Yor’sahj will be better. But these are still amazing until you clear Dragon Soul and move into heroic modes.

HANDS

Two choices here with the gloves, one from the vendors, the other our tier.

Gleaming Grips of Mending: 1650 Valor Points for these. There’s a red socket, which is nice, but there’s that pesky mastery stat again. Still, if you don’t get lucky with your tier token, these are perfectly viable and adequate.

Gloves of Radiant Glory: The token for these drops off Warlord Zon’ozz, the second boss in Dragon Soul. A blue socket and crit as a secondary. Meh.

Honestly, this choice really depends on how much you hate mastery and how often Conqueror tokens drop off Yor’sahj. Either are fine, but the tier will obviously help with 2/4pc bonuses.

However, if you get through the Spine of Deathwing encounter, you get a shot at ilvl 403 loot and the only piece of ilvl 403 armor we might be interested in here are the gloves.

Gauntlets of the Golden Thorn: Very pretty. Two sockets, which is more than the other options, and plenty of spirit and haste. These get my vote.

WAIST

Again, I feel as though I’m in an alternate dimension. Coming out of a tier with just one belt option, in Tier 13, we’ll have… three?

Blinding Girdle of Truth: 1650 Valor Points will get you this belt from the VP vendor. Two sockets are always tempting, but then there’s all that mastery. Not a bad choice, but with two other choices, this is not my top option.

Dragonfracture Belt: Wow, this is an amazing belt. This belt is like the devs are saying “Hey, holy paladins? Yeah, we’re sorry about that one crappy belt option in T12. Enjoy!!” It drops off Ultraxion, the fifth boss in Dragon Soul. This is definitely my first pick.

Girdle of Soulful Mending: Now this is a curious item. It doesn’t seem to drop off any boss, nor is there a recipe for it. It’s also Bind on Equip. Could this be a trash drop in Dragon Soul? Assuming it’s actually in the game, I think we have to assume it is. As such, this is your easiest way to upgrade to a 397 belt, although it likely won’t be cheap. And while it has 20 intellect more (at base) than the other two belts, it only has one socket. Even without epic gems (which are being introduced in 4.3, but are supposed to be quite rare), this is still going to be a loss of intellect compared to the other two options.

Honestly, if you can’t get Ultraxion down with regularity or if you can’t cough up the VP for the belt, the BOE will do in a pinch, but the only thing it has going for it is that it’s relatively easy to get (trash runs, at the Auction House, etc).

LEGS

Just two options here. One is our tier legs and the other is another crafted item.

Greaves of Radiant Glory: Our tier legs, whose token drops from Yor’sahj the Unsleeping, the third boss in Dragon Soul. 3 sockets are great, but that mastery. Why mastery? Alas. T11 pants were crap, T13 pants aren’t great, IMHO.

Pyrium Legplates of Purified Evil: The only other choice apart from tier are these crafted legs. While they are awesome, there will almost certainly not be a heroic version of these, which makes me a sad moose. (#sadmoose!) These call for 8 Truegold, 40 Volatile Life, 4 newly-unbound Chaos Orbs and 8 Essences of Destruction.

FEET

Some interesting options here.

Pillarfoot Greaves: Dropping from Morchok, the first boss of Dragon Soul, are these boots. Two sockets, plenty of spirit… and crit isn’t terrible. These are likely going to be fairly easy to pick up.

Silver Sabatons of Fury: These are AWESOME. And they’re available from the vendors for 1650 Valot Points. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Valor Point boots are Bind on Equip again, like they were for Tier 11!

Best thing to do here is farm up the VP on another character in the first week and a bit and buy them for your main raiding character. Or, save up ~15k or thereabouts and buy your boots off the Auction House in Week 2 of 4.3. The important thing here is that you not spend your main raiding character’s VP on these boots, as awesome as they are. You have other things to save for.

WEAPONS/SHIELDS

A couple of options here, though none as awesome as the Eye of Purification (as in, they’re all boring maces).

Vagaries of Time: Dropping off Morchok, the first boss of Dragon Soul, this is a snazzy mace. Good itemization, though no spirit means that those nasty shadow priests, moonkins and elemental shaman will also be after it. Definitely worth picking up.

That is, until…

Maw of the Dragonlord: Definitely a healing mace, based on the Equip. I wonder if it looks like Light of Dawn… Anyhow, Vixsin of Life in Group 5 recently tweeted: “Healers, start cozying up to your loot council, because Maw of the Dragonlord is doing 10-20% of my healing on PTR.” Of course, this drops at the end of the Madness of Deathwing encounter, so only if you’re clearing Dragon Soul can you expect to see this.

As to shields… well, there’s one healing shield, but there’s also an off-hand that might be worth checking out.

Timepiece of the Bronze Flight: The only healing shield you’ll find. It’s fine and all, but there’s no socket. It drops off Warmaster Blackthorn, the sixth boss of Dragon Soul. This has been hotfixed to add a red socket with a 10 int socket bonus. This is almost certainly what we’d like to pick up.

Ledger of Revolting Rituals: Now this is where it gets got a bit interesting. Dropping off Ultraxion, the 5th boss in Dragon Soul, this off-hand has a socket. Dropping an ordinary Brilliant Inferno Ruby (+40 intellect) into it will give it 20 more intellect than the shield (the version without the socket) and if it’s an epic brilliant cut, that’ll be 30 more intellect than the shield. Is 30 intellect better than 15 haste and 8 spirit? Hell yes.

The thing is, holy paladins and resto shaman and elemental shaman are the only ones who would want that shield, versus any priest, moonkin, resto druid, ele/resto shaman or holy paladin who is using a 1H/OH-or-shield combination. If you’ve got very little competition, go for the Ledger. If you have competition, go with the shield, at least until the off-hand is being disenchanted and such.

Right, so in LFR (and bear in mind that this list is for NORMAL raiding, not LFR!), the shield has been “tagged” for paladins and shaman while the ledger has been “tagged” for priests, druids, etc. That means that a paladin cannot “need” on the Ledger. But it’s okay, because the shield was hotfixed to add a red socket along with a 10 int bonus, so the shield comes out ahead of the Ledger any way you look at it now.

RINGS

Signet of Suturing: This is a ring that drops off of multiple bosses with a shared loot table, much like our awesome spellpower axe, the Eye of Purification, did in Firelands. It is awesome. End of story.

Band of Reconstruction: 1250 Valor Points for a decent ring. It’s got spirit, but also has mastery. The yellow socket and its weak bonus isn’t great either. Not a priority for our shopping list.

Ring of the Riven: No spirit on this, but some haste and mastery, which is a combination we don’t see a lot. It drops off Hagara the Stormbinder, the fourth boss in Dragon Soul.

I’ll probably aim for Signet of Suturing and then whichever I can reasonably get first, the Band or the Ring. Bear in mind that casters will want the Ring of the Riven as well, though.

TRINKETS

Reflection of the Light: The healer Valor Point trinket, available for 1650 VP. Spirit is good. The on-use is good for bursty moments, but remember that it’s not like the Fiery Quintessence, which gave us Intellect. This is pure spellpower.

Bottled Wishes: The “caster” Valor Point trinket, this can be yours for 1650 VP. Again, this may not be as useful given the changes to Holy Radiance and such, but if your heals are feeling sluggish, this might be useful. Also, the on-use spellpower effect can be helpful for some burst throughput.

— Thanks to Oestrus for pointing out that I’d missed the VP trinkets entirely. Whoopsiedoodle. And speaking of the VP trinkets, since neither one of them has intellect, I would recommend picking only one of them and keeping another, intellect-heavy trinket on you. I would probably aim for the Seal of the Seven Signs (see below) and Reflection of the Light, to be honest, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Seal of the Seven Signs: Preeeetty. Shiiiiny. While it sucks that the haste boost is a proc and not an on-use like the Shard of Woe, this is still pretty decent, if only because of the huge amount of intellect. Plus, that’s a LOT of haste when it does proc. It probably has a 45s internal cooldown or something, so that can still be 4-6 procs (and thus, 80-120s) of hasted goodness during a ~5 minute fight. It drops from Warlord Zon’ozz, the second boss in Dragon Soul.

Windward Heart: Another item on that shared loot table, like the Signet of Suturing, this is interesting because, according to the comments on Wowhead, it’s got a ~25s internal cooldown.

Heart of Unliving: Another ilvl 403 item, this is from the Spine of Deathwing, the 7th fight in the Dragon Soul. On the one hand, this adds 880 spirit to you, which is monstrous, especially given the Judgements of the Pure changes. On the other, there’s absolutely no stats on this. It really depends how you’re doing with mana, to be honest. This was hotfixed to add 323 intellect to it, so while that’s a lot less than any other similar ilvl trinket, you still gte that monstrously insane amount of spirit. It would allow you to drop spirit on some other gear, like the Ring of the Riven, so that’s something to keep in mind.

RELICS

Well, technically, we have two choices, both available from the vendors for 700 Valor Points.

Lightning Spirit in a Bottle: The “healer” relic, this has spirit… and mastery.

Mindbender Lens: The “caster” relic, this has haste and crit, but no spirit.

Which you choose is really up to you and your playstyle and what other gear you have and how your mana regen is doing. Since neither are perfectly itemized, this may drop down the priority list when looking at Valor Point purchases.

VALOR POINT PRIORITY LIST

All right, here’s what I think your priority should be when spending your Valor Points. I am not including Silver Sabatons of Fury. These should be your FIRST Valor Point purchase, but use an alt or gold to get these!

1) Woundlicker Cover – 1250 VP for this awesome cloak.
2) Glowing Wings of Hope – 2200 VP for this helm. Given that the tier helm drops off the 6th boss and is “meh”, pick this helm up when you can.
3) Reflection of the Light OR Bottled Wishes – 1650 for either trinket. Again, just pick one of them and go intellect-heavy for the other, I’d say.
4) Your relic – 700 VP for either the “healer” or “caster” relic.
5) Gleaming Grips of Mending – 1650 VP for your gloves, IF you can’t get your tier gloves from Warlord Zon’ozz. Will be replaced by the gloves from the Spine of Deathwing, though.
6) Blinding Girdle of Truth – 1650 VP for your belt, IF you can’t get the one from Ultraxion, the fifth boss in Dragon Soul.
7) Shining Carapace of Glory – 2200 VP for a chest, IF and ONLY if you cannot, for the life of you, get your tier chest. Because as soon as you do get your tier chest, vendor this sucker.
8) Flashing Bracers of Warmth – 1250 VP for these bracers, IF you can’t get the crafted ones or the ones from Yor’sahj, the third boss in Dragon Soul.

Honestly, you shouldn’t really need to buy 5-8. You should be able to pick up the raid drops, even if it’s just the LFR versions (which are ilvl 384 instead of 397). If you manage to cap your Valor Points at 1000 per week and just buy the first four items (and use an alt or gold to get your boots), you’ll be mostly done with Valor Point collection after five weeks (and an additional 800 VP), barring terrible drops or terrible luck.

2PC, 4PC OR WHAT?

Well, here’s what I’m aiming for:

VP helm
Tier shoulders (obviously)
Tier chest (fantastic)
Gauntlets of the Golden Thorn (Spine of Deathwing drop)
Crafted legs

I will likely pick up, as I am able, the tier legs and tier gloves so that I can play with the 4pc bonus. But I don’t tend to raid heal, so the boost to Holy Radiance will likely be lost on me. (Plus, a 5% bonus to HR is a lot more underwhelming than the original 20% HR bonus. Really, the only time I’d be likely to use 4pc is on Ultraxion, but that’s because I mostly tank heal and occasionally raid heal on that one fight.)

If you go with the 4pc, I would recommend the helm and the legs and still go with the Gauntlets of the Golden Thorn because they are the prettiest pretty off-set things you’ll find this tier, so if you have to pick one item to be an off-set piece, it should be the gloves (particularly as there will be a heroic version of the gloves, but no heroic version of the crafted legs!).

OVERVIEW BY BOSS

And here’s what you might like to see drop from the various bosses.

Morchok: Vagaries of Time (mace), Petrified Fungal Heart (neck)

Warlord Zon’ozz: Seal of the Seven Signs (trinket), potentially tier glove token for Gloves of Radiant Glory

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping: Heartblood Wristplates (bracers), potentially tier leg token for Greaves of Radiant Glory

Hagara the Stormbinder: Ring of the Riven (ring), definitely tier shoulder token for Mantle of Radiant Glory

Ultraxion: Dragonfracture Belt (belt), definitely tier chest token for Breastplate of Radiant Glory (chest), potentially Ledger of Revolting Rituals (off-hand — not a shield!)

Warmaster Blackthorn: Potentially Timepiece of the Bronze Flight (shield)

Spine of Deathwing: Definitely Gauntlets of the Golden Thorn (hands), potentially Heart of Unliving (trinket)

Madness of Deathwing: Definitely Maw of the Dragonlord (mace)

Shared Loot Table: Signet of Suturing (ring), Windward Heart (trinket)

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!

And that’s all I’ve got for you, folks. I do hope this is somewhat helpful for you as you enter Dragon Soul and start seeing all that lovely loot drop!

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.

Masterful Madrana?

So there’s been all this talk about mastery gemming, enchanting and stacking.

Given that I was in an awkward position for gear, having received gloves from Rhyolith and legs from Shannox, I felt limited in my choices for what I should pick up from the Valor Point vendor.

I could have gotten my tier 12 chest, which has nowhere the amount of haste as my heroic Breastplate of Avenging Flame, or I could have gotten my tier 12 gloves, which have no spirit and aren’t in my planned 4pc, or I could have gotten my T12 pants, except that I just got those pants from Shannox.

I was already pretty well below the 1859 breakpoint for Holy Radiance’s extra tick and my heals felt sluggish.

We were struggling with Alysrazor and part of the problem was tank deaths. I almost always assign myself to a tank anyway, and we have some amazing raid healers, so I was like… Fine. FOR SCIENCE, I would try out this mastery stuff.

So I bought my T12 chest (oh why is it a robe? Dear God, why?) and regemmed everything to Artful Ember Topazes except for my 3 Jewelcrafter’s gems, which I replaced with 3x Fractured Chimera’s Eye.

And then I went reforging.

Basically, I ripped out all my haste and a bit of crit (as opposed to some spirit) and got to 26% on my shields.

1737 mastery rating. No kidding. 722 haste rating. My very soul ached!

But, FOR SCIENCE, and based on a bit of my own experience with a bit more mastery than I normally run with, I decided to stick with it.

So what experience was that?

Well, I raid with Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and then on Mondays and Wednesdays, I play the baby paladin with Choice of Skywall. Both guilds are 4/7 in Firelands 25-man mode and though the baby pally didn’t have any heroic gear (and still only has a 353 helm, actually), a lot of the stats she had were just like the original Madrana’s, only a bit lesser. A little less haste, a little less crit, a little less spirit and a little less spellpower. But due to the nature of the drops and items I was able to acquire (and when you’re gearing up a new 85, you can’t always be picky!), I ended up with a lot more mastery than I wanted, even when it was reforged. 473 mastery rating was what the baby pally had, which was a far cry from the 100-some that Madrana had.

And yet, while healing Shannox with Choice, I realized that even that very little amount (473) I had was pretty freaking effective.

I literally stared at that for several minutes and went “what the hell is going on?”. I then compared it to a similar Shannox kill Apotheosis had done:

Yes, I had healed with Divine Light less on Madrana than the baby pally and that will absolutely make a difference in the Illuminated Healing. The fight was also shorter. But could it really explain away over 300,000 in absorption? Nope. That mastery was really working for me. Both my assignments were the same — heal the Shannox tank. And I played very similarly throughout those fights.

So when I got to the point with my gear that I didn’t have enough haste to be comfortable in my regular playstyle, despite having actually upgraded gear, I decided that I’d try out this mastery stuff, at least until I can get my haste back up.

It helped out on Alysrazor, or at least it felt like it. And we got Alysrazor down, by the skin of our teeth. So I stuck with it for last night’s Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith kills. Here’s the result from Shannox, to keep things consistent:

Are you kidding me? Almost a million damage absorbed by Illuminated Healing? 34% of my “healing” was done by my MASTERY?

So, it’s effective. Quite effective.

However, I lost a lot of stats. I lost a TON of Intellect by virtue of gemming 20 mastery/20 int instead of 40 int, and the 67 mastery gems instead of intellect, too. I lost a LOT of haste. It’s just … gone. My casts take FOREVER and they don’t hit for as hard! But… they shield for a chunk.

[21:57:59.760] Madrana Word of Glory [Tank] +*0* (O: 48629)
[21:58:00.353] [Tank] gains Illuminated Healing from Madrana (Remaining: 12936)

Like, whoah. That’s significant.

However, I have effectively gimped myself for anything other than tank healing. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, because that’s almost all I tend to do anyway, but I felt weak and I felt gimped. I didn’t have the mana pool I was used to, so Divine Plea helped, but still felt less than I’m used to. Replenishment wasn’t hitting for as much. I keenly felt the smaller mana pool and I knew that I was relying more on the raid healers to spot heal people that I would normally toss a Holy Shock on or whatever.

In short, it hurt me, but it’s effective enough and I’m in a 25-man guild that can sustain a “specialized” tank healer. As soon as I can, I’m probably going to go back to stacking haste — but might come back to mastery for certain heroic fights.

I tell you, though, I felt absolutely useless in P2 of Beth’tilac and throughout the entire Rhyolith fight.

So, basically, I concur with Enlynn: it’s not fun and it gimps you, but it can be super effective if done correctly.

I much prefer having the possibility of being flexible and versatile to the reality of not being able to really deviate at all from my standard assignments. But my gear is essentially making me do this for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how that goes, shall we?

Next up, Baleroc. Should be fun. I’ll keep you guys posted.

Ready to Wear: Kurn's Tier 12 Loot List for Holy Paladins

I should have done this probably about two weeks ago, but I can’t stand loot lists. At all. Still, here are the results of my research.

Please bear in mind this is all my own opinion and is skewed as such. This is NOT a definitive best-in-slot guide, it’s merely what I’ll be looking for.

This is the way I will be prioritizing secondary stats:

Spirit > Haste > Crit > Mastery

Why? Well, spirit will take priority in my secondary stats because of the rise in mana costs for Divine Light, Holy Light and Flash of Light, as well as the reduced cooldown on Holy Radiance. We’re going to be spending more mana, so I’m going to want more spirit.

Haste is what permits me to get that cast off just that much sooner. It is a stat that improves throughput by virtue of allowing us to cast more frequently and will also reduce the global cooldown, allowing us to get to casting our next spells and abilities more quickly, if we have enough of it. (We’re not quite there yet through gear and a couple of enchants alone. Maybe at the heroic T12 level or when T13 comes out, but we’re not there yet.)

Crit, despite the fact our crits will hit for double a regular heal instead of 1.5 times a regular heal, still is a bit underwhelming. Crit is also a throughput stat and we still need some of it for maximum uptime on Conviction, but crit is unpredictable at best and another word for overhealing at worst. Granted, it makes mastery look better, since if you crit with a Divine Light, you’ll make a much larger Illuminated Healing shield than you would previously, but it’s still not something I value terribly much.

Mastery, despite its recent buffs, still doesn’t thrill me. Sorry. You can read more about my thoughts here.

Things to keep in mind:

– There is a LOT of gear that is going to be available. I’m going to focus specifically on gear that is item level 378, although will touch on some other item levels.
– If things work the way they did in T11, you will be able to purchase your T12 chest, T12 legs and T12 gloves with Valor Points, as well as get a chance for your legs and gloves to drop from the new Baradin Hold boss, Occu’thar.
– If things work the way they did in T11, we can expect our tier shoulders and helms to be on the last couple of bosses in Firelands.
– The 2-piece T12 bonus is certainly worth it, especially considering our Tier 12 is much better itemized than our Tier 11 was. While the 4-piece hasn’t really been mathed out, let’s assume we’ll want to aim for it. Again, T12 gear is a lot closer to my itemization desires than T11 was, so picking up four pieces will feel a lot better than trying to get 4pc of T11.
– Beth’tilac, Alysrazor, Shannox and Lord Rhyolith are supposed to be done in any order. Once entering Sulfuron Keep, you face Baleroc, Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros, in that order. As such, I’ll be referring to drops from the first four bosses as dropping “from (name), one of the first four bosses” or “the fifth/sixth/final boss”.

One of my key research sites, the Best In Slot resource from Vile Pickle, is no longer being maintained and has been replaced by the WoW Best in Slot Resource. However, my holy paladin buddy, Walks, has shared with me and the other raiders of Apotheosis, this fun little site at it.headasplode.net, which allows you to sort by the various stats you’d like to see. I highly recommend it. Thanks, Walks! :)

So, here we go.

Tier 12/ilvl 378 Holy Paladin Loot List

HEAD

Immolation Headguard: Our Tier 12 helm is the best for this slot. Unfortunately, this probably also drops off Ragnaros, the seventh and final boss in Firelands. It’s beautiful, though. Beefy with intellect, spirit and haste, a red socket with a 30 intellect socket bonus… Oh man. I might be drooling.

Casque of Flame: Until you down Ragnaros, you will almost certainly want to grab this helm as an upgrade. The Casque of Flame is quite similar, in fact, to our tier helm. It actually has 19 more Spirit. Unfortunately, it has 211 mastery on it instead of 245 haste. Blah. With reforging to haste from that 211 mastery, you can get 84 haste on it, leaving 127 mastery on it. Still, this is also kind of deep into Firelands, dropping from Baleroc, the fifth boss in the instance. (Now I wish I had the heroic Glaciated Helm to tide me over. Alas!)

NECK

Heartstone of Rhyolith: Dropping off of one of the first four bosses in Firelands, Lord Rhyolith, this is probably your best bet for a 378 neck. You can reforge that mastery to haste and get 53 haste and 80 mastery.

Flowform Choker: Totally sub-par due to the lack of spirit and the presence of mastery. Maybe if you’re desperate? I don’t know. This is almost certainly meant for caster DPS. It drops off Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss of Firelands. No, wait, I’m not thinking. This is great DESPITE the lack of spirit because it’s the only one that has a socket and a red one at that. Drop 40 int in there and get a total of 277 intellect. If you’re waiting for an okay upgrade, grab the Heartstone, though, since this does drop from Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss of Firelands.

Firemind Pendant: Wow. More spirit/mastery. Roughly equivalent to the raid drop, this will do if you have 1250 Valor Points to drop. In fact, the Heartstone is only “better” in my mind because it has 18 more spirit. It’s a really small difference. Also, there are better things to buy out there with your precious Valor Points if you have access to the raid drop.

SHOULDERS

Immolation Mantle: Our Tier 12 shoulders are our best bet here, but again, they are almost certainly going to drop off Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss in Firelands.

Spaulders of Manifold Eyes: Supposedly dropping off Beth’tilac, one of the first four Firelands bosses, these will be a nice upgrade for anyone non-heroic T11 shoulders while they wait for their T12 shoulders. You can reforge that nasty mastery to haste and get 65 haste out of it, leaving 97 mastery on the shoulders.

CLOAK

Flowing Flamewrath Cape: Pretty sad, but this is the only viable option for us. It’s from the Avengers of Hyjal at Friendly reputation.

Who ARE the Avengers of Hyjal? Why they’re the new rep associated with the Firelands raid! This is separate from the new daily quest hub, which will reward Guardians of Hyjal rep. Avengers of Hyjal will work roughly like the Ashen Verdict from Icecrown Citadel in that you’ll only gain rep for it inside the instance. However, a blue post did say that you will NOT be able to grind your way to exalted by killing trash mobs.

CHEST

Immolation Breastplate: This will probably be purchasable for 2200 Valor Points and most likely will not drop from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold. It’s got a spirit/crit mix, but if you’re going for 4pc, you probably want this over the other breastplate we can get this tier. If you’re going for 2pc, this is not one of the pieces you want.

Clutch of the Firemother: Dropping from Alysrazor, one of the first four bosses in Firelands, this is a lovely piece. Its accessibility, since it drops from one of the first four bosses, makes it an easy upgrade, much like how the Breastplate of Avenging Flame from Magmaw was an easy chest upgrade for us in Tier 11. That said, you probably don’t want to wear this when you’re trying for your 4pc set bonus. It’s still a great piece, but you’re better off with your tier chest in the end. (That does not mean you should pass on this beauty!)

WRISTS

Bracer options? Seriously?! Yay! Too bad the itemization is still pretty bad.

Bracers of Imperious Truths: BOE bracers from Valor Points! Hallelujah and screw you, Cho’gall! These will be purchasable with 1250 Valor Points and will be obtainable shortly after the first week of 4.2, if it’s the first thing you’re going to buy with Valor Points. If Cho’gall never showed you love, pick these suckers up. Bear in mind that you should save an alt’s Valor Points for these rather than buy them on your paladin. Save those Valor Points for the BOP items on your paladin and pick these up either through the auction house or using an alt’s Valor Points.

Bracers of the Dread Hunter: Of course, you could also get a slightly worse (due to mastery) drop from Shannox, one of the first four bosses in Firelands.

GLOVES

Well, now, this is certainly interesting…

Holy Flame Gauntlets: That noise you just heard, that sounded like a choir of angels bursting into pitch-perfect, harmonized sound? Yup. That’s because of these gloves. They are fan-freaking-tastic. And yes, they are BOE. That’s because they are crafted and do NOT currently have a heroic version!

Mats are: 10 Hardened Elementium Bar, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Embers, 3 Chaos Orbs and a partridge in a pear tree

The Living Embers are almost certainly a BOE drop from mobs inside Firelands. They may also be purchasable via Valor Points the way Emblems of Frost could buy you Primordial Saronites. But none of that is confirmed. The Chaos Orbs may or may not be BOP come 4.2, although smart money has them still being BOP. That means that these gloves are going to cost a small fortune. We won’t have a good idea of how much the Living Embers and Chaos Orbs will raise the price, but the bars and the fire aren’t cheap, either. At least the Plans: Holy Flame Gauntlets appear to be unbound…

So if you’re not rich, what’s your best option?

Grips of the Raging Giant: These drop from Lord Rhyolith, one of the first four bosses in Firelands. It’s a spirit/crit mix here, which isn’t bad, but they are not as amazing as the Holy Flame Gauntlets. Still, they’re about a hundred times easier to get.

But wait, what about our tier gloves? Won’t those be easy to get?

Immolation Gloves: Almost certain to drop from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold and probably purchasable with 1650 Valor Points, they’re easier to acquire than the Grips listed above… but what’s this? No freaking spirit. None. That’s our belt and our tier gloves with 0 spirit on them so far. So should we really get the tier gloves if we’re going for 4pc?

The possible combinations for maintaining 4pc are as follows. All numbers include reforging crit to haste or spirit, where applicable:

Tier Chest/Holy Flame Gauntlets

Spirit: 473
Crit: 135
Haste: 277

Tier Chest/Grips of the Raging Giant

Spirit: 481
Crit: 241
Haste: 161

Tier Gloves/Clutch of the Firemother

Spirit: 342
Crit: 106
Haste: 436

After looking at everything, I have to recommend you take the Tier 12 Chest and the Grips of the Raging Giant (which WILL have a heroic version) to get as much spirit as possible, with the Holy Flame Gauntlets as a good piece for you if you’re just hitting 85 and want to sort of catch up to current raiders quickly. If you are NOT having trouble with mana, go with the tier gloves and the Clutch of the Firemother.

WAIST

Oh sweet Lord. Our belt choices. Or rather, our singular choice for a belt. Say hello to the ONLY belt we can snag at the 378 level.

Belt of the Seven Seals: No spirit?! Augh! Take that 208 crit and turn it into 83 spirit and 125 crit.

But wait, that’s not all! The belt is only available from the Avengers of Hyjal and only once you hit Honored!

So, wait, let’s look at this. The only 378 belt with intellect in the game:

– lacks spirit
– is only available via raid reputation

Great. So not only is it difficult to get in the sense that you have to be part of a raiding guild or raid group, but it kind of sucks in terms of itemization.

At least there’s no mastery?

LEGS

Oh thank God we can follow up that epic failure with a piece of gear that is awesome.

Immolation Greaves: Intellect? Check. Spirit? Check. Haste? Check. Two sockets? Check. Probably easy to obtain? Check! These are awesome. Probably costing 2200 Valor Points or dropping from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold, they are certainly a very easy item to get in comparison to many others. Truly a huge upgrade for just about anyone not wearing the heroic version of the Legguards of the Emerald Brood and even then, it’s still a good upgrade. These legs are one of the first upgrades anyone should reasonably look at.

Legplates of Absolute Control: Likely dropping off of Shannox, one of the first four bosses in Firelands, I… well. I don’t really know why you’d pick these up unless you got supremely lucky on your first Shannox kill and they would be otherwise disenchanted or something. It’ll take a bit more than two weeks’ worth of Valor Points to get the tier legs or a lucky Baradin Hold drop, so there is a small gap between when these become available through Firelands and when anyone can reasonably attain their Tier 12 legs, but… chances are you want to overlook these, unless you are in 346/359 legs that are NOT the Legguards of the Emerald Brood, or you really prefer crit to haste.

BOOTS

Emberforged Elementium Boots. These amazing boots require 10 Hardened Elementium Bars, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Embers and 3 Chaos Orbs, just like the awesome Holy Flame Gauntlets. These are amazing boots, but again, you’re going to want to be quite wealthy or lucky to get these. Again, they will NOT have a heroic version, so bear that in mind. I’ll also have to recommend these go to a newer 85 holy paladin who is trying to catch up to current raiders.

Treads of the Penitent Man: These are likely what we’ll end up using if we can’t afford the crafted boots and definitely what we’ll need in order to get the heroic versions, someday. They drop from Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss in Firelands. (Anyone else muttering to themselves over and over “only the penitent man will pass, only the penitent man will pass, penitent, penintent, penitent…”? No? Just me then? All right.)

RINGS

Quicksilver Signet of the Avengers: This is a ring every raider will eventually be able to acquire, since it’s from the Avengers of Hyjal once you hit exalted. The mastery sucks, but the intellect, spirit, socket and socket bonus are nice. Reforge the mastery to haste and you get 51 haste and 76 mastery.

Soothing Brimstone Circle: Uh, yeah, this is basically the only other ring out there at 378. There’s a caster ring, but there’s neither haste nor spirit on it, so stick with this one. This will cost you 1250 Valor Points.

TRINKETS

Still not much in the way of choices here, ladies and gentlemen.

Fiery Quintessence: Well, the name amuses me because I’ve had my fair share of Aqual Quintessences and still own an Eternal Quintessence. I really like that they’re not redoing Molten Core, but that we still have some references to that time. Anyway, you get this trinket at Revered with the Avengers of Hyjal. I’m not altogether thrilled by this one, but maybe the extra spirit will be useful, given our stupid belt situation. The on-use is also interesting and we may want to have a macro so we can use the trinket to precede Divine Plea’s cast, so we get the extra benefit of ~17k mana for the regen. (Note to self: Don’t forget to do that when you get the trinket!)

Jaws of Defeat: Geez, another on-use. This is a little more interesting, though. “Your next 10 spells cast within 20 sec will reduce the cost of your holy and nature spells by 110, stacking up to 10 times. (2 Min Cooldown)” Not really sure how that’s going to work out, but certainly the 383 Intellect will be very happy making. This drops off of Majordomo Staghelm, the sixth boss in Firelands.

Eye of Blazing Power: Another option is this one, from Alysrazor, one of the first four bosses in Firelands. Unfortunately, it seems to be not an exceedingly awesome choice for a holy paladin UNLESS it procs off all Light of Dawn hits. (Or all Holy Radiance ticks. But I’m not holding my breath.) Comments on Wowhead indicate a 45s internal cooldown (ICD), heals for 16kish, crits for 32kish, procs off HoT ticks, has a 40y range from the target of the original heal and it can heal pets. But if there are no valid targets in range, the ICD goes off, but no heal does.

RELIC

Singed Plume of Aviana: Pretty much the only choice we have here. Spirit and haste, though, so that’s of the happy-making. It’ll cost you 700 Valor Points.

WEAPON

Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord: Three guesses as to who drops this baby. ;) That’s right, Ragnaros, the final boss of the Firelands instance. Great itemization for us, too, with spirit and haste.

Eye of Purification: No idea where it drops, but suffice it to say this is AWESOME. A spellpower AXE? Sign me up!!! Pallies and shaman are the only casters/healers who can use axes, so no arguing with the warlocks and mages for swords and priests and druids can keep the maces… this is awesome! Sure, the stats aren’t as good as Rag’s hammer, but COME ON! A caster axe!

Lightforged Elementium Hammer: Yeah, it’s not 378 item level, but if you’re really hard-pressed to get something, there’s this as an option. It’s crafted and does not require any Living Embers.

SHIELD

Ward of the Red Widow: Again, just one real option for us, but at least it’s got good itemization. This drops off Beth’tilac, one of the first four bosses in Firelands. And its existence doesn’t make me so sad that I never got the heroic shield from Atramedes, because it definitely is much better in terms of itemization.

Conclusion

OVERVIEW OF VALOR POINT SPENDING

Okay, so assuming you are terribly unlucky in terms of drops and you’re going for the 4pc T12 bonus (with the chest, not the gloves), this is what you’re looking at:

Firemind Pendant – 1250
Immolation Breastplate – 2200
Bracers of Imperious Truths – 1250
Immolation Greaves – 2200
Soothing Brimstone Circle – 1250
Singed Plume of Aviana – 700

For a total of 8850 Valor Points.

I’d really recommend this order:

1) Immolation Greaves (great piece)
2) Bracers of Imperious Truths (yay bracers! You could also buy these or, better yet, use an alt’s Valor Points for these!)
3) Singed Plume of Aviana (only relic)
4) Soothing Brimstone Circle (one of two rings)
5) Firemind Pendant (if needed)
6) Immolation Breastplate (this can move up if you don’t get the Clutch early on or you get shoulders and want 4pc quickly)

BREAKDOWN BY BOSS

Beth’tilac

Ward of the Red Widow (Shield)

Lord Rhyolith

Heartstone of Rhyolith (Neck)
Grips of the Raging Giant (Gloves)

Alysrazor

Eye of Blazing Power (Trinket)
Clutch of the Firemother (Chest)

Shannox

Bracers of the Dread Hunter (Bracers)

Baleroc

Casque of Flame (Helm)

Majordomo Staghelm

Jaws of Defeat (Trinket)
Flowform Choker (Neck)
Treads of the Penitent Man (Feet)

Ragnaros

Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord

AVENGERS OF HYJAL REPUTATION REWARDS

Flowing Flamewrath Cape (Cloak – Friendly)
Belt of the Seven Seals
(Belt – Honored)
Fiery Quintessence (Trinket – Revered)
Quicksilver Signet of the Avengers (Ring – Exalted)

CRAFTED ITEMS THAT WILL MAKE ME VERY JEALOUS OF YOU (NO HEROIC VERSIONS!)

Holy Flame Gauntlets (Gloves: 10 Hardened Elementium Bars, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Ember, 3 Chaos Orbs)
Emberforged Elementium Boots (Boots: 10 Hardened Elementium Bars, 40 Volatile Fire, 4 Living Ember, 3 Chaos Orbs)

Total: 20 Hardened Elementium Bars*, 80 Volatile Fire, 8 Living Ember, 6 Chaos Orbs.

* 1 Hardened Elementium Bar = 10 Elementium Bars (20 Elementium Ore) + 4 Volatile Earth
20 Hardened Elementium Bars = 200 Elementium Bars (400 Elementium Ore) + 80 Volatile Earth

SHOO!

All right, I think that covers just about everything, so get ready to enter Ragnaros’ domain and kick some ass. Remember not to stand in the fire; I’m sure there will be plenty of it!

Trolls and Gear and Paladins, Oh My!

On Friday, one of the tanks in my guild hinted rather strongly that he would like for my “baby paladin” (that is, the newly-dinged 85) to heal him and his friend through a Zul’Aman.

My first reaction was not only “no”, but “hell no”.

Then I realized I might as well. Apart from anything, there are epic bracers in that there jungle!

After completing the instance, I knew I had to write about the loot in the troll dungeons for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of Fetish Greaves. Let’s look at Zul’Aman, then Zul’Gurub.

Zul’Aman Holy Paladin Gear (4.1)

Before we look at the drops, there are two notable quest rewards. The first is a reward from Warlord of the Amani and it’s a pair of shoulders that are actually pretty sweet: Pauldrons of Ambition have spirit and crit and a red socket (10 crit bonus). The crit can be reforged to 59 haste.

The other quest reward is the Fetish Greaves, a reward from The Hex Lord’s Fetish, which requires you to kill Malacrass in Zul’Aman.

I hate these pants.

Yes, they are 353. Yes, they have two sockets. Yes, they have more intellect than any 346 legs.

They are still terrible.

Why, precisely, are they so terrible?

They have no spirit and no haste. As if that weren’t bad enough, they have a stupid amount of crit and mastery.

The person who created this item needs to be flogged. Its very existence insults me.

My top choice consists of the Greaves of the Misguided from Lord Godfrey in Heroic Shadowfang Keep. Spirit! Haste! Two sockets!

The Fetish Greaves have 21 intellect more than the Greaves of the Misguided, 209 crit, 171 mastery, 30 stamina and 60 more armor.

The Greaves of the Misguided, on the other hand, have 202 haste and 162 spirit.

But Kurn, you say, we can just reforge that nasty, nasty mastery off the Fetish Greaves, right?

Wrong. Assuming you want to reforge to spirit, you want as much of it as you can when you reforge. So because reforging is 40% of the stat, you want to reforge the larger stat to get more bang for your reforging buck.

40% of 171 mastery is 68.4, which the game will round down to 68.

40% of 209 crit is 83.6, which the game will round up to 84.

Thus, to optimize the pants by reforging towards a better secondary stat, like spirit, you would want to reforge the crit instead of the mastery, giving you an extra 16 spirit (or haste).

That leaves you with a massive 171 mastery. It makes me feel dirty not to reforge mastery, but reforging the crit here is the right call.

It’s also why those pants are complete garbage when compared with the Greaves of the Misguided. I would even choose the very lackluster Legguards of the Gentle from Justice Points over the Fetish Greaves. Like the Fetish Greaves and the Greaves of the Misguided, the Legguards of the Gentle have two sockets. Unlike the Fetish Greaves, they have 192 spirit and 172 mastery. That mastery can be safely reforged to haste, because we like spirit, so we don’t want to touch the 192 spirit at all. The mastery will end up being about 69 haste, which is still better than the Fetish Greaves, both in terms of spirit and haste.

So avoid the Fetish Greaves unless you are absolutely desperate and then keep running Heroic SFK anyways!

Okay, on to the drops!

Jan’alai drops Boots of Bad Mojo. Surprisingly, these are an outstanding option, what with the spirit, the haste and the gem socket. If you’re poor or don’t have the Valor Points (soon to be Justice Points in 4.2) to afford the Eternal Pathfinders, these are great. Even if you CAN afford the Eternal Pathfinders, these are still great boots.

I personally prefer the Eternal Pathfinders. It’s just a bit more intellect and you won’t find a better pair of boots in regular-mode Tier 11 raid content. Unlike the Eternal Pathfinders, the Fetish Greaves, which have more intellect than the Greaves of the Misguided, will be replaced in T11 raid content. The Eternal Pathfinders will not be, not until you get Heroic Omnotron Defense System down and you feel dirty and guilty for taking the heroic Life Force Chargers.

The spirit that exists on the Boots of Bad Mojo  is lovely, but after reforging the crit on the Valor Point boots, the ~92 spirit should not be terribly missed when using the Eternal Pathfinders, particularly once you’re gearing up in a raid.

The Boots of Bad Mojo are definitely a great piece, but only if you don’t have access to the Eternal Pathfinders or spirit is a serious issue for you.

Up next… Bracers of Hidden Purpose drop from Akil’zon. While gearing up Madrana, I had terrible luck in Grim Batol (both regular and heroic) and the Deadmines when trying to find bracers. Erudax was a stingy bastard for me on Madrana and I only ever saw the Gearbreaker bracers once. As if that weren’t bad enough, it took me nine kills to get the Shackles of the End of Days from Cho’gall. Surprisingly, also a stingy bastard.

Thus, I went from 316 bracers to 359 bracers on Madrana. No joke. (The baby pally was fortunate enough to get the bracers from Erudax on her first heroic Grim Batol after having run it on regular once.) That means that these would be GREAT, even if they sucked. Which they don’t, by the way. Bracers of Hidden Purpose can (and should) get the crit reforged to 48 spirit.

So definitely pick up the Bracers of Hidden Purpose until Cho’gall releases his grip on some sweet bracers for you.

How about rings? Do you need a ring? The Soul Drain Signet is perfect! It drops from Hex Lord Malacrass and is a fantastic ring to take with you into raid content.

Finally, what about a weapon? Daakara drops the Amani Scepter of Rites. A solid piece, despite the mastery. Grab it unless you have something of a higher ilvl.

And that’s about it of interest for us in Zul’Aman.

Zul’Gurub Holy Paladin Gear (4.1)

Ah, Zul’Gurub. My first raid instance outside of Upper Blackrock Spire! How I miss those bijous and coins and hilariously bad loot tables…

Ahem. Sorry. Right, on to holy paladin stuff in ZG!

While it’s not ideal, the Signet of Venoxis is a decent choice. The mastery can, and should be, reforged to  48 spirit. Rings are all over the place, to be honest — there are a lot of choices. This is a fairly cheap one in terms of in-game gold or Justice/Valor Points spent, so if it drops, from Venoxis, of course, snag it.

How about a shield? The Zulian Ward from Jin’do is okay, but it’s strictly okay. Why? No spirit. No gem socket. The Elementium Stormshield blows it away. If there’s no way you can get an Elementium Stormshield, this is a good runner up, but aim for the crafted shield.

Zanzil will drop a helm. The Plumed Medicine Helm is … well, it’s full of mastery is what it is. Sad panda. It’s still not awful, mostly due to the spirit and the fact that it has a meta socket. It’s only one of three pre-raid helms that have a meta socket. I still prefer Crown of the Blazing Sun from the Justice Point vendor, but if you’re short on points or this drops, grab it if you don’t have a 346 or higher helm with a meta socket.

If someone in your run has at least 225 Archaeology, you can summon an Edge of Madness boss. If you get Wushoolay, you have a chance at Troll Skull Chestplate. Given the plethora of choices at the 346 level, plus the fact that the Breastplate of Avenging Flame drops off of Magmaw in Blackwing Descent, the Troll Skull Chestplate is strictly “if you really can’t get lucky on a drop and can’t get to Revered with Earthen Ring” material.

Lastly, if you do ZG, you may come across the Spiritcaller Cloak as a trash drop. This is BOE (Bind on Equip) so even if you’re not in there as your healer, you can try to win it. No haste, but it’s a nice spirit option. Bear in mind that when 4.2 drops and you “need” a BOE, it will become soulbound to you, so watch out for that!

Don’t forget to read up on my pre-T11 loot list and my T11 loot list as well! (Bear in mind both are slightly out of date.) If you want to see what Madrana’s sporting these days, check it out here: http://www.chardev.org/?profile=5305

It's Going to Be Legen-waitforit-dary!

I don’t mean for this to be me bitching (I swear), but I’ve spent time over the last week working on a fair, equitable process for determining who’s going to get the legendary staff. Note that I haven’t selected anyone, but I have recently proposed a fairly lengthy and detailed process to the officers of my guild.

I was pretty pleased with it. It promised to be long and tedious for some people (mostly the officers) but it seemed like the fairest way to do things.

There is a substantial amount of resistance from the officers thus far.

I won’t describe my process (at least not yet, but I’d like to do so at some point in the future), nor what some of my officers are countering with, but I wanted to post because if they aren’t going to accept my method, I need another suggestion. So I am now looking at backup plans. Of course, the last one took me a week to refine, so if I’m going to counter, I need to spread my net a little bit.

Please comment about legendary selections that you’ve seen in the past! Tell me about the best AND the worst selection processes for a legendary you’ve ever seen. Tell me why you liked one and why you didn’t like one. Have you ever gotten a legendary? If so, the process obviously worked out for you, but what flaws did you see in the system? Have you been passed over for a legendary? If so, the process obviously did NOT work out for you, but what did you LIKE about the process?

Finally, how is your guild dealing with the legendary staff?

Can’t wait to read your responses. :)

T12 Bonus Changes, Mana Costs

MMO-Champion has the new T12 set bonuses for us, as well as a post by the blues about why they’re raising our mana costs significantly.

Old set bonuses:

Paladin T12 Holy 2P Bonus: Casting Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Divine Light on your Beacon of Light target has a 40% chance to grant you 2% of your base mana.

Paladin T12 Holy 4P Bonus: Your Divine Light also heals a nearby injured target for 20% of the amount healed.

New set bonuses:

Holy Paladin 2-Piece: Old bonus removed and replaced — Healing with Holy Shock has a 40% chance to grant you 6% of your base mana.

Holy Paladin 4-Piece: Old bonus removed and replaced — Your Divine Light, Flash of Light, and Holy Light spells also heal an injured target within 8 yards for 10% of the amount healed.

My thoughts: (Edited May 14, 2011)

The 2pc is a lot better. 40% of the time you cast Holy Shock, you will only spend 1% 3% of your base mana instead of 9% (which is the current cost) or 7%, which is the new 4.2 cost (at least as of build  14107). Actually, you will probably need to have 7% mana (1640) in order to cast, but when this procs, you will probably get a refund of about 1406 since the real cost will be around 234 mana. Since Holy Shock is our cheapest heal that costs mana in 4.2 (Holy Light will be 12%) and is our primary method of Holy Power generation, this is a nice little bit of mana back. Remember, though, this could be on an internal cooldown, much the way Eternal Glory is!

With this bonus, it seems that they want to further emphasize the use of Holy Shock and so it is now taking Flash of Light’s place as an uber-cheap heal. In the old days, Flash of Light was stupidly cheap and even if you had pretty much no mana whatsoever, you could always afford a Flash of Light.

The 4pc is better, but not a ton, IMHO. They halved the healing of the splash heal to 10% from 20% but let us use more of our spells AND there’s no “you must heal the beacon” requirement. We still have to use a casted spell, but it can be any of the three casted spells. Even with the increase in mana to Holy Light, we’re still going to be using that quite a bit.

Mana Costs

Zarhym said:

We increased paladin mana costs because they were too efficient at healing. In raid encounters, for instance, paladins were sitting at 40% of their mana while the other healers were flat out of mana. Paladins were casting Divine Light as their main heal because they didn’t need the efficiency of Holy Light. You personally may not have been in that situation, but when looking at the overall picture, as well as running plenty of tests, this was our conclusion overall.

To which I say, “you know what? This is what you get when you design mana-free heals. You have now introduced Holy Power to the paladin class and the holy paladins now have two resources with which to heal.” But no other class has that. Blizzard now has the unenviable task of balancing holy paladins between the maximum amount of holy power one can possibly generate (through use of Holy Shock, Crusader Strike, Tower of Radiance and the Blessed Life talent), plus their mana costs and regen rates in current gear levels VERSUS everyone else’s mana costs and regen rates.

Essentially, they’ve screwed up by giving us Holy Power and we are forever going to be overpowered if they tune our mana to what other healers have, but forever underpowered if people don’t make smart use of Holy Power or, perhaps more importantly, don’t smartly generate Holy Power.

It’s still early in the expansion and I’m still trying to find what’s right for me. I like to tank heal. So I have Tower of Radiance. But on a fight like Chimaeron, where I am not tank healing, I don’t pick up Tower of Radiance. Instead, I take advantage of the crazy raid damage that fight has and I pick up two points in Blessed Life. The last time I killed Heroic Chimaeron, I picked up 12 Holy Power that way instead of the 0 Holy Power I would have generated since I am emphatically NOT healing my beacon target on that fight.

There are much better players than myself out there, much more progressed players than myself, who have probably figured out the balance as it works best for them and it’s probably also a very efficient way for them to heal, which is likely why they’re better players than I am. (Though I would challenge anyone to heal through heroic Maloriak, keeping their tank alive, at 3fps at some points, though. I would totally win.)

So my thoughts are that Blizzard has screwed up. We will never be tuned “properly” because of Holy Power, unless they specifically limit the rate at which Holy Power is generated. They’ve already taken steps to do so — Holy Light on the beaconed target no longer gives Holy Power, as it used to with Tower of Radiance. Blessed Life now has an internal cooldown and cannot occur more than once every eight seconds.

There’s already a limit on how often we can cast Holy Shock (6 seconds) and Crusader Strike (4.5 seconds) and there’s a less-tangible limit on how much Holy Power we can gain from Tower of Radiance, due to the exorbitant mana costs of Flash of Light and Divine Light — which are only going to get more expensive.

I don’t think the limits are firm enough, though, and it’s going to make balancing us a really difficult job for the next few major patches.

My two cents.