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PvP Retribution Spec

2010/07/14

I started my PvP journey in my normal PvE spec, just to see how it would go without spending the gold on a respec and glyphs. It worked out pretty ok, I managed to do some damage and generally be a nuisance with Repentance, taking two Arathi Basin wins.

But in order to really get going, I wanted to change my spec to a real PvP build. Now it is not horrible different from a PvE build. You still want to go all the way down to Divine Storm, which is nice when some enemies are bunched up, there are just some subtle change in the talents you pick up in Retribution.For instance I did not grab Vengeance, since it is more of a sustained dps talent.

My off-tree talents are a bit different. For PvE you might go Aura Mastery or Divine Sacrifice/Guardian. My PvE spec included Aura Mastery, but for PvP I wanted to take more of a personal survivability build. To that end I picked up the PvP talents low in the Holy and Protection trees, such as Unyielding Faith and Stoicism. Along with that I took Improved Righteous Fury for the damage reduction, since threat does not matter.

While the changes are mostly defensive, there is some offense in there with the Seals of the Pure (which was in my PvE spec, but is now used for stronger Judgments using Seal of Righteousness). Also I decided to see if Eye for an Eye is worth it. Since I end up getting critted quite a bit (thanks to my lack of PvP gear with resilience), I hope my enemies will feel at least some of my pain.

My glyphs are also aimed either at improving my Seal and Judgment damage, or my crowd control.

All this has lead me to go for the following spec, to which I will be making changes as I go along.

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PvP

2010/07/12

I have never done a lot of PVP on any of my toons. While leveling I was always frustrated by the fact that you could really only do Battlegrounds every 10 or so levels. At the time they didn’t give experience anyway, and I enjoyed the PvE part of the game a lot more.  In the endgame the same thing happened, I enjoyed dungeons and raiding a lot, so I spent most of my time there. I tried equipping my hunter for PvP and played some BGs, but I spend most of my time healing on my Paladin or leveling alts. I may have hopped into Wintergrasp once or twice just to check it out, and tried healing in BGs when I got some Holy PvP gear from VoA, but that was it.

Part of the reason I’m not too fond of PvP is that I suck at it. Horribly. I’m king at getting myself killed and not doing nearly enough damage to anyone else. I did kind of stay alive as Holy in BGs , with Beacon on me, but in the end I felt I had to smash face in order to really have fun in PvP.

But now that I’ve seen a lot of the PvE content, and I find myself not having time to raid the whole of ICC (that was one of the reasons to love ToC, it doesn’t take more than one night), I figured it was time for something else. My plan is to change my off-specfrom PvE Ret to PvP Ret, keeping my Holy PvE spec for doing dungeons and the occasional raid. I have some emblems of Triumph lying around anyway to get me started, and will just do a bunch of random BGs and see where that takes me.

I plan to write some posts about how I fare, and especially how to survive in PvP if I ever manage to figure that out. Hopefully I will learn some moves, and gear up accordingly in order to start enjoying PvP more. For now, at least it gives me something else to do besides running the same dungeons every day.

New Raid Rules

2010/05/01

The new raid system for Cataclysm has recently been revealed, and there’s been a huge storm of excitement all around it. I want to start out by saying that I am very positive about the changes, and I’ll use this post to go into detail why I believe they are not just good, but necessary.

The change basically comes down to this: 10 and 25 mans will be the same raid (with the same lockout and loot), and heroic modes will be available for bosses in both (again, same lockout, same loot). 25 mans will give more loot per player, but not better loot. So per raid you have one lockout, and better loot only for heroic modes, with more loot for 25 mans. Simple and elegant if you ask me.
In short Blizzard has taken the stances that rather than develop content that dictates how you play, they are asking you to choose a play style (10/25 man, normal/heroic) and use the content they have provided. So no longer is your play style decided by the content , rather it has been turned around. You choose how you play, not Blizzard. I’d say this is an improvement, as it puts the decision of how to play with the player. Simultaneously it still allows Blizzard to provide us with content that most players will be able to see, which means they can pull out more of their resources to make it.

So why is this change needed? The main reasoning behind it seems to be that raiding “difficulty” comes in two dimensions. An idea that came up between Naxx and Ulduar. You can differentiate based on player skill and on raid size. In Naxx the only distinction was based on size, you either ran normal/easy mode/10 man or difficult/heroic/25 man. Not to say that the 25 man was necessarily more difficult, but the argument was, it requires more organization and thus should give better rewards.
In Ulduar the second dimension was added, that of hard modes. In these case it was not just organization, but actual difficulty of the encounter that was used to allow players to get better gear. And this makes sense: if you play a harder game, you should get a better reward.
The question that arises is: if the reward for downing a more difficult boss is better loot, then what should the reward for more organization be? So far it had been better loot. But was this really fair? Now one might argue that 25 man raids were still more difficult, but imagine (for as far as can be measured) normal 25 mans are as hard/easy as normal 10 mans. How is it fair that you get better gear, since you are doing pretty much the same thing? Yet at the same time, there is more organization involved, which should count for something.
The answer Blizzard has provided to this problem is very elegant: more organization should be rewarded with more gear, instead of better gear. This provides some added incentive, but does not reward players more for continuously doing the same within one week.

The main advantage of this is that players are not being forced (actually, they are no longer able) to run the same 25 and 10 man raids in one week in order to keep up with badges. I’ve compared it to watching the same tv show twice in one week. It is boring, and makes no sense. The main reason why it is done, is because after a few 25 man runs you out-gear the 10 man raid and just blow straight through it. Is that what this game should be about? I don’t think so.

One of the arguments against this change has been the question: how do we gear up new guild members? Currently they can be taken through a 10 man raid, get them geared, while still allowing the raiders who take this new member to do the 25 man. This will no longer be possible. Of course it has only been possible since WOTLK, and we can just look back to older expansions to see how it was done: run the previous tier raid. The gear of the previous tier should be a) available through old raids and heroics and b) enough to get you started with both 10 and 25 man raids of the current tier.

Finally I want to address the main problem that has sprung up around the web: why run 25 mans? The main reason should be “because I like it”. You’re playing this game for fun, and if you like downing bosses with 24 other folks, by all means do so. No it will not get you better gear. It will gear you slightly faster because you’re going through some more stress during organization. Do you on the other hand enjoy seeing the content, don’t mind gearing a tad slower, and don’t want the hassle of a big team? Raid 10 mans. Like I said before, decide how you want to play, and play that way. Your reward will mostly be in the joy of playing, not in your gear.
I’ve seen loads of people say they prefer 25 mans, but they are afraid it is no longer worth it. Well, if you enjoy it, it is worth it. And judging by the amount of people, I’d say there’s likely to be at least 24 people who agree with you on your realm.

All in all, I think the new raid model is great: it frees up people to decide for themselves what play style they enjoy. People get rewarded fairly for doing more difficult fights, and still somewhat for more organization. There is no more need to run the same content over and over and over. To conclude, my main hope for this is that it frees the designers up to make some extra content, making the game even more fun in the end.

The dungeon tool

2009/11/11

After looking at the patch notes for too long, I figured I’d jump on the PTR myself. I copied over my paladin, but wanted to try something else to start off: a mage. And the first thing I wanted to test was the new dungeon tool, that automatically finds a dungeon group for you. How was that? I loved it. I used to have so much trouble finding a group as dps, but now I was matched up and ready to go in less than 5 minutes. Now it might be that the PTR has been attracting people who want to test the dungeon tool, but once it goes live you will be able to group with all the people from your battlegroup. So there should be plenty of people.
We’ll have to wait and see how the tool exactly works, since Blizzard is claiming it does some smart matching. For example the harder heroics (probably Trial of the Champions and the Icecrown 5-mans) should have a higher gear requirement. If tuned well this can be a great help. Of course you can hook up with friends and then pug the remaining spots, so you don’t have to go completely random. All in all it will make running a dungeon (or at least getting in one) quickly more accessible, which is a good thing.
Another thing that has me excited about this tool is running low-level instances. Now I have no idea how this will work out, but as it is now it is really hard to get a group for most of them in my experience. I would be thrilled if the dungeon tool would make it feasible again to level up a bit by running old world and Outland dungeons. I haven’t seen a lot of them very well, and it would sure break the chore of going through the same quests again on my alts. If every server in the battlegroup has only one guy looking for a run, I should be able to get going a lot more than I do now.

Healer questions

2009/11/08
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I came across this list of healing questions over at Miss Medicina’s site, and it looked interesting enough. Now I’m supposed to tag another blog but seeing as I don’t regularly read any healing blogs (yet, this list might get me started), and I haven’t been tagged myself, I’m just going to post my answers:

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
    Tomkr, Holy Paladin
  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) I do a bit of casual raiding (mostly TOC 10 and Ony 10 and 25 at the moment) and run the daily heroic when I feel like it. I sometime DPS in 5 mans, but always heal in raids.
  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
    Beacon of Light, even though it’s not technically a healing spell. I love the idea that you can plan your healing with it, and then use your other abilities around it. I think proper use of Beacon is what defines a Paladin healer as much as nuke healing.
  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
    Lay on Hands. Not just because it has such a long cooldown, but also because I never come across a use for it. Sometimes when stuff really gets out of hand I remember it and throw it out, which I guess is what it is for anyway.
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
    Strategic healing. As a Paladin you plan out who you Beacon, who you Shield, and you stick with that strategy. Other than that you don’t have a lot of choice, you throw big heals, small heals, or instant heals and that’s it. Of course our strategy lends itself mostly to tank healing, which we do amazingly well, but there are other options.
  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
    Group/AOE healing. We have none. I don’t consider this a problem balance-wise, but it is our weakness.
  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Tank healing. For me this comes in two flavors. Either I heal one tank (mostly through Beacon) and spam heal the raid, or I focus on a tank and support-heal another one.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
    For me a Druid is a nice partner, because they can even out raid damage much more easily, while I can pick up the big damage spikes.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
    Priests are not my favourite healing partner, maybe because they are more rounded than us, while we outclass them in big single target heals. That said I’d run with any healer without problems.
  • What is your worst habit as a healer?
    Losing track of my assignment and just throwing heals around. I need to stick to my assigned target more.
  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
    People getting tailswiped (or get hit by other avoidable damage) twice in a row. Seriously, you didn’t notice being thrown into a cave of small dragons and are going to stand in exactly the same spot?
  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
    Paladins have very clear strengths and weaknesses, but we can heal anything we need to, as can other classes. I think they’re all pretty balanced.
  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
    I use recount to look at how my healing was for a fight: which spells did I use, how much overhealing did I do and with which spells, how much of my healing went to which target etc.
  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
    That we can do nothing but spam one spell, either Flash of Light or Holy Light. I think a good Paladin does so much more, especially as we have the ability to save a fight that is about to go bad, which keeps us on our toes.
  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
    I think one of the difficulties for a new Holy Paladin is figuring out who to Beacon for a fight you don’t know well.
  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
    There’s definitely a bunch of overhealing, largely due to Beacon heals, which you have little control over. I try to keep it as low as possible though.
  • Haste or Crit and why?
    I’m a fan of haste. Our mana regeneration through crit was nerfed, and since then it is just not as interesting for me. I always had a soft spot for mp5 anyway, because it is more reliable than RNG based crit. Haste on the other hand makes me able to cast those Holy Lights faster, which just gives me better timing of my heals.
  • What healing class do you feel you understand least?
    Disc Priests definitely. Relying so much on shields would be weird for me.
  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
    Vuhdo is my big love for viewing and healing the raid, it is very configurable. Pally Power is great for easily figuring out who buffs what, especially in a PUG raid. Other than that the standards: DBM, Recount and Omen.
  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
    I balance stats as much as I can, but Int makes me the happiest. Like I said I am quite an mp5 fan, since it becomes especially value on longer fights, when plain old Int just doesn’t cut it for me. Other than that I like haste as well as I said, although I feel that I’m fine where I am now (at about 400).

Tier 10

2009/11/06
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Blizzard released a preview of the Paladin Tier 10 armor today. The sets are named “Lightsworn” and looks like this (click for higher resolution):
Paladin Tier 10

Lay on Hands nerf

2009/11/06

With patch 3.3 coming closer every day, I want to take another look at an ability that is being changed. In this case it is our iconic healing ability Lay on Hands, the biggest heal in the game, on the longest cooldown.
Initially Blizzard thought about making Lay on Hands castable on everyone but yourself. The reasoning being that Paladin’s are already hard to kill as it is (Divine Protection and healing). One of the coolest things about Lay on Hands is that it is a leveling Paladin’s “get out of jail free” card. A lot of classes have an ability like that (Feign Death, etc.), and while a Paladin might have Lay on Hands and bubbles, it would still be a loss not to be able to instantly heal ourselves to full, once in a long while.
So thankfully Blizzard abandoned this idea and has now gone with Lay on Hands causing forbearance on its target, just like Hand of Protection. This is next to Divine Protection and Divine Shield causing forbearance on the caster, and Avenging Wrath interfering with it all.
While this solves the problem of not being able to chain bubbles and huge heals, it introduces another one: tank imbalance. The problem is that a Protection Paladin’s major cooldown is Divine Shield. And prohibiting the use of a Lay on Hands after a Paladin tank’s cooldowns, but after those of other tank classes is plain unfair. Even worse, an early Lay on Hands on a tank will not even allow him to rely on his own cooldowns.
This problem is now also present for throwing Hand of Protection on a tank, but people who do this deserve a /slap anyway. So now a different problem of the Paladin class comes up. They have a few very powerful abilities, which Blizzard does not want us to use in quick succession. This seems fair, as it forces us to think when to use one of our stronger powers. However this should not restrict other classes from doing their work, just because we try to save them.
A solution that I have seen proposed, and one that I thought was interesting, is to make it so that forbearance is placed on the caster of Lay on Hands (and probably Hand of Protection as well then). While this still allows multiple Paladins to chain cast their saves on a tank, this probably means you have a bigger problem anyway. It does force a Paladin to think about what he is going to do. Can he afford to boost his casting or dps? Should he save the dps who is about to get nailed by shielding him? Or might the tank be in need of an emergency heal? I think that is the gameplay we want from these abilities.
Update:
New patch notes indicate that forbearance will only be triggered if you cast Lay on Hands on yourself as Holy, through the Sanctified Light talent. Nice fix for Holy, even mellower than what I talked about.