Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mount Rewards Removed from "Glory of the Raider" Achievements

Bornakk dropped the hammer.

Time for me to panic.


So, um, if you know a way to force people to do your bidding and complete The Twilight Zone and You Don't Have An Eternity, like, now, that'd be greaaaaaat. I want a 310% mount and I'm literally 2 achievements away.

Someone go throw a wrench in the works at Blizzard, I need them to delay 3.1 until I finish these.

At Least It's Not a PUG

I'm going to Naxx-25 on Sunday. It'll likely be the first time I clear out the gorram instance on heroic. Hooray for not having to PUG it! Yea, yea, I know - months behind. It's tough to find 25-man raids when you have classes during normal raiding hours.

What's the catch?

I gotta tank it.

My poor, poor Death's Bite will have to wait a little longer before it gets to chop some zombie heads. I think it's getting a little rusty from under-use, I've been tanking so much lately.

Oh well, at least I get me some badges. Plus, the other tanks are fairly well geared, so I think I can snag some non-set tanking upgrades pretty easily. This, despite the fact that I just bought a pair of Inexorable Sabatons to make sure my tanking set was respectable.

And I almost forgot! The run is going to be a 20-man, the guild is trying to get the main raiders the undermanned Naxx achievement, so this is the 2nd Naxx-25 run they're doing this week. That's why I gotta tank - the regular tanks are spread across two raids.

Fun times.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Countering the Goblin: Personal Relationships and Success

Gevlon recently wrote:

Commenters of the previous article suggested that guilds are superior to PuGs because they are social groups and a person would not slack at the expense of his friends. Notice that there are many social guilds where slacking is rampart, to the point of boosting, where the slacker is the only one who receive reward, the others not. So social connections has nothing to do with stopping of slacking.

However the solution has nothing to do with social groups, the solution is in the guild leadership who either punish or remove the slackers. This also mean that PuGs can be just as successful as guilds as long as they have effective leadership to make sure that no one exploits the common resource.

Many commenters don't understand why do I stay away from guilds? Because I want to prove the above. I want to prove that success - even group success - has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of social effects. You don't need friends to be successful, you need business partners and you don't need to be friendly, social, moral, noble, just economically effective. My goal is to prove this point by PuGging the whole content.

PS: I don't claim that having friends among your partners does not increase your well-being, or friendship is any way wrong. I just say that friendship has nothing to do with success, just as the color of a car has nothing to do with its speed. Pink and brown stripes can decrease your fun during driving, but not the speed or turning capacity of the car.
Larisa loves to go back-and-forth with Gevlon, which creates a nice warm-and-fuzzy feeling contrasted on the cold, hard, give-me-my-money-biatch attitude of the aforementioned goblin. I'm going to fight fire with fire - organizational theory vs goblin capitalist theory. The bold is mine, and is that with which I take issue.

Saying that friendship has nothing to do with success is taking a very pure and objective view of the current state of the raiding environment on any particular server. Yes, it is true - a PUG can clear through Kel'Thuzad in Naxx-25. However, what is not mentioned in that statement is who comprises the PUG. Is this PUG comprised of raiders from successful raiding guilds with Gevlon at the head? Or is this PUG formed from people who are in greens and blues? Or is this PUG comprised of Ebay'ed know-nothings?

The way the raiding game in WoW works, there is a once-a-week reset/lockout which requires that a character can only plunder a raid instance once a week, with the cutoff being Tuesday maintenance (in the US). Focusing on a single raid lockout period, regardless of the number of raiders available on any server during the week, that turns every single one of those raiders into a limited resource - a raid leader can use a raider once and then that raider is expended. No matter how we view other people in terms of social interaction, each raid-available player on a server has a skill level (intangible) and a gear level (quantifiable) which combine to create a raider's overall effectiveness. Players will need a certain minimum effectiveness, relative to the raid group, to be able to clear content. To this point, I think that Gevlon would agree.

If it is agreed upon that each raider has an inherent effectiveness rating and that a minimum effectivness is necessary to kill bosses, then given the raid lockout period, there is a limited number of available raiders "worthy" of raiding, and that number decreases steadily over the lockout period. Each of these worthy raiders have the potential contract with a raid group and then be unavailable to other groups. In order to amass enough effective raiders to clear content, the independent raid leader will need to have enough pull in the market to convince available raiding resources that they should commit to his raid rather than others. There must be a reason for the worthy raider to join one raid group rather than another - I propose that one of the reasons is interpersonal relationship. If 2 raid leaders approach me, one with which I've run and clear Naxx before, and one with which I've never spoken, I would join the known rather than the unknown.

Even though Gevlon is a singular entity, his entrepeneurial raid leading composes an organization - a tool used by people to coordinate their actions to obtain something they desire or value (source). Organizations large and small require resources to achieve their goal. In this case, the Gevlon Raiding Corporation, Ltd., requires contract raiders to input their raiding effectiveness into boss fights, which will convert into an output of badges and epics.

Resource Dependence Theory - the theory that argues that the goal of an organization is to minimize its dependence on other organizations for the supply of scarce resources in its environment and to find ways of influencing them to make resources available (source) - provides further insight into the situation. Every free agent raider is an organization unto him or herself in possession of his or her raid effectiveness, which is the resource each free agent raider organization possesses. Gevlon's position is that he does not need relationships with other raiders at all - I argue that he does need relationships, and that there is no way around it because of the scarcity of the raider effectiveness resource. He should instead seek to minimize his dependence on such relationships to achieve his goal (badges/epics) more simply. Consider the following:

Gevlon is seeking to separate social relationship from raid success. However, to have raid success, Gevlon requires a minimum raid effectiveness output under his organization's umbrella. To acquire that minimum effectiveness, Gevlon must have enough social pull with those in possession of that raid effectiveness to convince them that they should commit their resources to his organization rather than his competitors (other PUGs). If he were to expand his organization (form a capitalist raiding guild or raiding network), he would have guaranteed commitment of resources to his organization, and therefore would not have to re-acquire these resources every week.

Now, I'm not saying that Gevlon can't achieve success without forming a resource network, either via a forum post, guild creation, or otherwise. What I'm claiming is that repeatable, sustainable, and consistent success requires a stable resource pool, with which Gevlon is not operating at current. To acquire a stable resource pool, he either needs to form informal social ties with effective PUG'ers through friendships or shared experience, or form a formal network. Like it or not, the social environment is a part of the raiding experience, and interpersonal relations are inseparable from a raid organization's success.

Want it summed up in a sentence? Friendship is essential to sustainable success in raiding. No matter how hard a capitalist free agent raid leader tries, he needs to form some sort of ties with raider resources to achieve on a regular basis, otherwise he is at the mercy of the raider resource market, and therefore does not control his output.

The Winds of Change are Gusting

PTR is up, changes all ready viewable. MMO Champ tells all.

What I'm interested in is how my talent spec is going to change. The tried-and-true 0/10/61 is going to be altered greatly, as Kings is going true baseline (no talents, full version trainable at level 20) and some talents in the retribution tree are having their investment reduced (Fanaticism, Righteous Vengeance down to 3 point talents).

Here's a list of talent points that are being liberated for me:
Righteous Vengeance (reduced from 5 to 3 points) - 2
Fanaticism (reduced from 5 to 3 points) - 2
Improved Retribution Aura (merged with Sanctified Retribution) - 2
Blessing of Kings (talent replaced with "Divinity") - 5
Grand total = 11 points to play with

My first impulse is to lump those into the protection tree and make a mad dash for Divine Guardian for the raid-wide Shield Wall effect, which is so very useful in some encounters. If I remove the point from Seal of Command, then I'm looking at a build of 0/17/54 (EDIT: like this) without losing any personal or raid damage. The only problem that could arise is on a Loatheb or Sapphiron fight where kickback damage becomes a real problem - removing the point from Seal of Command would eliminate the option to accept marginally lower damage for more safety.

The other option is to start investing in PvP/utility stuff that has limited application in PvE, such as Divine Purpose, Vindication, Toughness, and Eye for an Eye. I like the idea of bringing Divine Guardian better.

Here's hoping we see some more news on this soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The World Tree Uproots

Phaelia, the rock of the WoW blogging community and the mecca of resto druid blogging, is putting away her blogger pen.

I commented on her post, but I wanted to put a bit more in this space.

Phaelia's blog was a big part of what started my blogging career. Her posts comparing different stats and their effect on raid performance, or analyzing gear sets to divine the best combination, were an inspiration for me. After reading Phae's blog for a while, I decided that something like Resto4Life was needed for retribution paladins - a place for guides, questions answered, and a little bit of humor sprinkled in. Rohan had a good handle on the paladin community at large, but I felt that some targeted retribution content would go a long way, much like Phae brought targeted resto druid content to the Azerothian community.

Now, I don't mean to compare my status in the WoW blogosphere to Phaelia's, as her readership and appeal far surpasses E4AE, but I hope you caught my drift.

Phaelia, you will be missed.

Screenie Meme

Siha tagged me, and I'd be rude not to participate.

Problem is I don't have multiple screenshot folders. It's all dumped in one folder.

So, here's the sixth screenshot in the folder:

My paladin, in Burning Crusade, in his Karazhan tanking gear, posing outside of Shattrath. I was trying to get a good shot of him raising his shield so I could use it as a forum avatar.

Here's the sixth screenshot of the ones I never labeled:

That's me doing a nostalgia raid at 70 in AQ40 after achievements went live. I'm pounding away at Viscidus. Fun note - the only frost damage we had in the raid was one mage and a shaman (FROST SHAWK!).

And one for fun:

My guild's first Illidan kill. I was literally one of the last two standing. You may remember such screenshots from previous blog posts.

I ain't taggin' no one, 'cuz I think these meme things are like chain letters. Yes, I'm that guy, I'm not passing this chain letter on.

... but Suicidal Zebra, Klepsacovic, Honorshammer, Rohan, Pike, and Runycat can post some if they like.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More OS-10 3D Musing

I've seen it first hand in the whelp tank position, now I can talk turkey. I specced protection for the encounter - the guild's usual prot paladin doesn't usually do 10-mans so I got to fill in. 'Cuz I'm awesome like that.

I was in a group that was stacking magic damage, like so. You'll notice a ret paladin in there, which I was envious of since I was toting a shield on my back that evening. The ret was more for a blessing than for anything else, since he didn't fit the schema of magic stacking. Also, an unholy DK was used to tank Sartharion. Myze contends that a feral is just as good if not better, but the DK is a guild officer and one of the best geared tanks in the guild, so he's the one that got the nod.
We got nearly through the second drake a few times, but ran into a few issues:

  1. Enraged fire adds gibbing me.
  2. Fire adds aggro'ing healers while my screen is full of whelps.
  3. The warrior had to move the drakes around to pick up adding drakes, which put people in danger of eating a shadow breath when the drake was turned.
  4. Threat on the drakes was a razor-thin buffer.
I think I can solve all those problems with some fancy raid comp shuffling. First, holy paladin and a BM hunter in for the ret paladin and disc priest. This will address all 4 problems:
  1. Hunter can tranq shot fire adds if I have trouble getting them out of the flame walls.
  2. Holy paladin healing with Righteous Fury up will draw the fire adds to him, making them easier to find and pick up. Plus, the holy paladin is less likely to get gibbed by a fire add than most other classes.
  3. Misdirect can either shore up the threat or save the drake tank the trouble of moving.
So, issues solved without loss of anything buff-wise besides Inspiration and 3% raid-haste. The raid comp would look like this. As long as the holy paladin grabs Kings in his/her spec, the tanks would have Sanctuary/Kings, and all the casters would have Wisdom/Kings. I'd want the holy to either be 51/17/0 +3 for Divine Guardian, or 51/5/15 for super-happy-fun-time buffage.

If the guild had a dependable boomkin and a resto shaman on hand to sub in, I would prefer something more like this, but beggars can't be choosers. That comp has 2 Heroisms, Insect Swarm, 2 blessings... everything but a healthstone, and the raid could have a warlock parked outside to give us those.

Some notes for the encounter on stuff I did and stuff I should do, in case there's a next time:
  • Visibility was poor when the whelps were up. I broke out the ol' Archimonde "zoom the f*ck out" camera command to help for next time:
    /console CameraDistanceMaxFactor #
    ... where "#" for me was something like 30 to allow me to zoom out however far I liked.
  • When Tenebron's portal is up, have a Consecrate overlapping the portal, shading toward one of the healers, and stand in between the portal and the healer. This ensures that the whelps stay clumped and don't go wandering off, making pick-up a b!tch.
  • I'm going to use Seal of Light next time instead of a damage seal. Single target TPS didn't matter for me, my stuff wasn't getting DPS'ed until I had put down at least 2-3 Consecrates worth of AoE threat on them, and all the damage that was being done to my stuff was AoE.
  • Once the whelps are AoE'ed down after Tenebron is killed, don't help on the drakes. I tried to help DPS on one of the drakes, and the second I hit Hammer of the Righteous I pulled the other drake off the drake tank. Shadow breath on the resto druid, all went to hell. I are stupid. Just stay out of flame walls and pick up fire adds, DPS them down myself.
  • Pay more attention to the flame walls. I started moving a bit late on a few of them and got some fire adds enraged. Especially considering there was no rogue or hunter to tranq them, that was bad news. Any time I died before a healer or tank bit it, it was because I had one or more enraged fire adds on me.
  • Block value is king for whelp tanking. My 10-man raid armor with Holy Shield up stood up to the mass of nasty better than a 25-man geared death knight tank, according to a few people. Plus, Blessing of Sanctuary on the other tanks is verra nize.
  • If I need to, I can drop my defense a little for additional pure avoidance, block value, stamina, or block rating. The whelps/fire adds are not level 83-equivalent like a raid boss, so I don't need 540 defense to make sure they won't crit me.
  • Make a macro for the Sartharion tank to bubblewall him:
    #showtooltip Hand of Sacrifice
    /target *insert tank's name*
    /cast Hand of Sacrifice
    /cast Divine Shield
    I have Divine Guardian in my tanking spec, so when I use this, I'll redirect 30% of the damage on everyone in the raid, tank included, to my now-immune self, plus I'll redirect an additional 30% on the Sarth tank into my Divine Shield. Hand of Sacrifice and Divine Guardian stack, right?
  • I need to make a mouseover macro for Righteous Defense, there were times when a healer said "I've got whelps/elementals on me" and I couldn't see jack sh!t past the whelps I had on *me*, so I wanted to just hover over that person's name in my raid frames and taunt 'em that way. But, the usual functioning of Righteous Defense is hit the hotkey, click the target, unless you're targeting a hostile. So it got all borked when I was trying to tank a bunch of things AND taunt things I wasn't targeting. I think a simple one will do here -
    /cast [target=mouseover, help, nodead] [] Righteous Defense
I can't wait until I get another shot at this. Once I get this done, I'm nearly guaranteed Glory of the Raider, since I know that I can do undermanned Malygos/Sartharion and handle 6 minute Malygos.

EDIT: Changed the RD macro slightly due to a reader comment.

Inching Closer

Naxx-10 raid achievements complete - snagged Spore Loser and Just Can't Get Enough tonight. Incidentally, Spore Loser is not a requirement for Glory of the Raider, so I didn't actually need to do it. All that's left for Glory of the Raider is now...
You Don't Have an Eternity - need a high-DPS group and a decent DPS DK to position the sparks for me.
A Poke in the Eye - shouldn't be too hard.
The Twilight Zone - I'll get it when I get this done.

I upgraded my tank gear tonight with a t7 helm and some Tempered Titansteel Treads, so the next time I go into the OS-10 3D encounter, I'll be even easier to heal.

So, I'm looking at a 6 min Malygos kill, an 8-man Malygos kill, and OS-10 3D. 2 of those 3 are considered some of the hardest content in this level of raiding, aside from Undying (which I all ready have!), which is all in the hands of careful tanks and attentive healers. With what I have left, I need to kill Malygos twice, which means even if I get OS-10 3D and 6 min Maly this reset, I'll need to do undermanned Maly next reset to finish it off.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pass out and not think about these achievements until the weekend at the earliest.

Siha, I saw you tag me for the screenshot meme - I'll do it over the weekend.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Real Retributive Justice

A woman in Iran is demanding an eye for an eye from her attacker. And we're not talking "he hit her, now she hits him." He blinded her with acid, so she is invoking Iran's ancient law code that her attacker, in turn, be blinded with acid. A literal eye for an eye scenario.

This has nothing to do with WoW, me, or anything I normally talk about, but it gave me pause given the name I chose for the blog.

Ratshag is a Pirate

Read anything that Ratters writes in his Orcish alter-ego. Example here.

Now read how 8-Bit Theater portrays Bikke the pirate in Brian Clevinger's latest installment.

"I don't know what no 'medafrohicky' be, all I's knownin' is ye better turn this
ship about to shoot them broadside."

Tell me that you wouldn't mistake Orcish for pirate if you didn't know the characters involved.

Conclusion? Ratshag is a pirate.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bandit's Insignia vs. Loatheb's Shadow

Because my dice were a little less cursed than everyone else's this weekend, I landed two upgrades in Naxx-25 this reset: Legplates of Double Strikes and Bandit's Insignia. The legplates I plan to replace as soon as I get my grubby hands on a t7 or t7.5 leg token, so they are inconsequential in my eyes. The trinket, however, requires some thinking.

The Bandit's Insignia is an always-active trinket - it provides a flat AP boost and every so often makes me lash out at my target with an extra bit of arcane damage. The arcane strike can crit.

Loatheb's Shadow, my former go-to trinket for that slot (yes, I got it this month sometime - I don't like to make a big fuss about gear upgrades), provides a flat crit boost and has a 2 minute use cooldown to boost my AP by 670.

Using Rawr, plugging in my current gear and spec, and checking off all raid buffs (flask, food, blessings, Heroism - the works), Loatheb's Shadow supposedly comes out to 20 more DPS on 3 minute fight. Why did I choose 3 minutes? I dunno, Patchwerk usually takes around 3 minutes, so it seemed logical to me at the time.

I'm not sure how Rawr models the up-time of Loatheb's Shadow or the internal cooldown of Bandit's Insignia, but 20 DPS isn't a ton of difference, I don't think. The Bandit's Insignia has the advantage that I don't have to activate it - it just zaps stuff with a jolt of arcane damage whenever, and the significant AP increase is always up. Loatheb's Shadow requires I monitor its cooldown and use it often.

On the other hand, I just macro Loatheb's Shadow to my Avenging Wrath (since they have the same cooldown and stacking buffs is good to do) and make sure I wings up a lot. And Bandit's Insignia isn't guaranteed to proc while I have my wings up, when it would be most effective.

I don't know what to use. I'm not going to sub out my Mirror of Truth, so I must choose one of these trinkets as my "other" trinket. What do you think, fair reader? Bandit's or Loatheb's?

On a related note, I saw how much of a DPS "boost" Darkmoon Card: Greatness would be through Rawr. Considering the current price of Nobles cards on Malfurion and the minute difference in DPS it would represent, I'll happily entertain this debate rather than engage in further farming shenanigans. Rawr put the card in between Loatheb's and Bandit's, which are all below the Mirror. I'll blow my gold on a motorcycle or something.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Min/Max'ing Raid Comps for OS-10 3D

After polishing off an Undying run in Naxx-10 last night, I've been pumped up about finishing Glory of the Raider. The crowning glory in that achievement-pack is The Twilight Zone, which is accomplished by defeating Sartharion in Obsidian Sanctum with Shadron, Tenebron, and Vesperon still alive at the start. This is considered the hardest thing to do in Warcraft currently.

I've set my sights high.

I'm going to roll with a 3-tank, 2-healer set-up. With the help of MMO-Champion's RaidComp feature, I've been playing with raid comps and trying to min/max it so that I can squeeze every last drop out.

According to StratFu, it's best to focus on magic damage or physical damage for the DPS. Under that assumption, I've created a magic-centric and physical-centric comp to discuss.

Magic-centric comp
In this comp I'd need to spec prot and tank drake(s) and whelps. The frost DK would tank Sartharion, and the prot warrior would handle the other drake. I chose the DK to tank Sarth because of his ability to use a cooldown just about every breath. The holy paladin would handle tank healing, and between Beacon of Light, Earth Shield, and Chain Heals, the healing is hopefully covered. Replenishment from the shadow priest, Ferocious Inspiration from the hunter, and the rest of the yokels buff each other with magical fun. The DK could be unholy as well, I'm not sure it makes a difference. Additionally, a feral druid could be used to main tank Sartharion.

Physical-centric comp
This comp can tear a single target to shreds, but I'm afraid for its ability to deal with the whelps. The only true AoE in this group comes from the 2 hunters - the rogue has Blade Flurry, the tanks have AoE stuff, and the ret paladin (me!) has Divine Storm and Consecration, but other than that, they're hosed. However, the group does have everything else it needs - both armro debuffs, 2 blessings, an AoE tank (prot paladin), a tank healer (disc priest), a raid healer (resto shaman), Replenishment (ret paladin), etc. Either the prot warrior or feral druid would tank Sarth, and the prot paladin would be on whelp duty.

How would you fine-tune these comps to the Sarth-10 3D fight?

EDIT: And in case I feel like going with 2-tank, 3-healer comps:
Magic-centric 2 tanks
Physical-centric 2 tanks

My Ideal (10-Man) Raid Comp

As a follow up to my previous post, here's my finely tuned, carefully crafted 10-man raid composition:

Tanks - 2
Death Knight (Frost) - Melee Haste, Attack Speed Slow Debuff, AGI/STR
Paladin (Protection) - AP (Flat), Damage Reduction (%), Healing Received (%), Attack Speed Slow Debuff

Healers - 2
Priest (Discipline) - Spell Power, Stamina, Spirit, Armor (%), Damage Reduction (%)
Shaman (Restoration) - Spell Haste, Heroism/Bloodlust, Spell Power

Ranged DPS - 3
Druid (Balance) - Armor Debuff (Minor), Spell Crit, Spell Vulnerability Debuff, Spell Hit Taken Debuff, Haste (%), Melee Hit Chance Debuff, Stats (Flat)
Hunter (Marksmanship) - AP (%), Melee Hit Chance Debuff, Healing Debuff
Mage (Frostfire) - Spell Crit Debuff, Intellect

Melee DPS - 3
Paladin (Retribution) - Damage (%), Crit Taken Debuff, Stats (%), Replenishment, Haste (%)
Rogue (Combat) - Physical Vulnerability Debuff, Armor Debuff (Major)
Warrior (Fury) - Melee Crit, Healing Debuff, AP Debuff, HP, Armor Debuff (Major), Attack Slow Debuff

I think I've covered all major buffs and debuffs. It's weird that I can leave out warlocks and still make a balanced raid. The raid has the capability for I'm pretty proud of myself right now, I stuffed an entire 25-man's worth of raid buffs into 10 people.

Think you can come up with a better 10-man raid composition that covers all the super-happy-fun time buffage? I'm interested to see what other possibilities there are.

EDIT: I originally had a resto druid and ele shaman instead of resto shaman and combat rogue. I think this covers the buffs better, but now I'm slightly overloaded on melee and a little inflexible when it comes to bringing in a 3rd healer. Hmmm... I'm open to suggestions.
EDIT2: To appease the mighty
Myze of LotP, I have crafted a second option that utilizes a feral druid. It doubles up 3 classes, but it covers all the buffs just the same -

Tanks - 2
Druid (Feral) - Armor Debuff (Minor), Melee Crit, AP Debuff, Attack Speed Slow Debuff, Bleed Debuff, Stats (Flat)
Paladin (Protection) - AP (Flat), Damage Reduction (%), Healing Received (%), Attack Speed Slow Debuff

Healers - 2
Priest (Discipline) - Spell Power, Stamina, Spirit, Armor (%), Damage Reduction (%)
Shaman (Restoration) - Spell Haste, Heroism/Bloodlust, Spell Power

Ranged DPS - 3
Druid (Balance) - Spell Crit, Spell Vulnerability Debuff, Spell Hit Taken Debuff, Haste (%), Melee Hit Chance Debuff, Stats (Flat), Armor Debuff (Minor)
Mage (Frostfire) - Spell Crit Debuff, Intellect
Warlock (using an Imp) - HP, Cast Speed Slow, AP Debuff/Spell Vulnerability/Armor Debuff (Minor)

Melee DPS - 3
Paladin (Retribution) - Damage (%), Crit Taken Debuff, Stats (%), Replenishment, Haste (%)
Rogue (Combat) - Physical Vulnerability Debuff, Armor Debuff (Major)
Shaman (Enhancement) - Melee Haste, AP (%), AGI/STR, Heroism/Bloodlust

EDIT3: MMO-Champ RaidComp Creator. My efforts are in vain. Here's attempt #3: 2 Healer 10-man Raid Comp. It does force the shaman to choose between Windfury and Wrath of Air though... the raid is not getting both melee haste and spell haste.

My Ideal Raid Composition - Patch 3.X

Disclaimer: The following is not a knock on any class or spec. It is merely the crazy musing of a bored office worker.

So yesterday's post in rebuttal to BRK got me back on raid composition. The sharing of buffs amongst classes in 3.0.2 has made the job of the raid organizer/planner simpler, yet more complex. No longer does the raid leader require 4-5 shamans for Heroism/Bloodlust, or a minimum of 3 of X class for Y buff. With buff sharing, multiple classes bring the same buff.

But now you face the grim fact that some classes can cover a buff and bring other utility/damage to the table.

Because I was bored, I worked up my ideal raid composition, covering as many buffs as I could in as few raid slots as possible. My shared buffage was taken from MMO Champ's report from Patch 3.0.2 found here. As I said, this is what I would create if I had carte blanche with skilled/geared players and invites. I think you'll find that all buffs/debuffs are covered with 1 spot to spare. The buffs each player is providing are next to them, and any additional buffs that they could cover are in italics. It's not exhaustive, since there's a ton of overlap, but I tried -

Tanks - 3
Death Knight (Frost) - Melee Haste, AGI/STR, Attack Slow Debuff
Paladin (Protection) - Damage Reduction, Healing Received, Stats (%), Attack Slow Debuff
Warrior (Protection) - Armor Debuff (Major), Attack Slow Debuff

Healers - 6
Druid (Restoration) - Stats (Flat), Healing Received
Druid (Restoration)
Paladin (Holy)
Priest (Discipline) - Spell Power, Stamina, Spirit, Armor Increase (%)
Priest (Holy)
Shaman (Restoration) - Spell Haste, Heroism/Bloodlust
Shaman (Restoration)

Ranged DPS - 9
Druid (Balance) - Armor Debuff (Minor), Spell Crit, Spell Vulnerability, Spell Hit Taken Debuff, Haste (%), Melee Hit Chance Debuff, Stats (Flat)
Hunter (Beast Mastery) - Damage (%), Melee Hit Debuff
Hunter (Marksmanship) - AP (%), Melee Hit Debuff, Healing Debuff
Mage (Arcane) - Cast Slow, Intellect
Mage (Frostfire) - Spell Crit Debuff, Intellect
Priest (Shadow) - Spell Hit Debuff, Replenishment
Warlock (Affliction) - Spell Vulnerability, AP Debuff, HP
Warlock (Destruction) - AP Debuff
______ (Open spot for Mage, Hunter, or Warlock)

Melee DPS - 7
Death Knight (Blood)
Death Knight (Unholy) - Spell Vulnerability, AGI/STR
Paladin (Retribution) - Haste (%), Damage (%), Crit Taken Debuff, Stats (%), Replenishment
Rogue (Combat) - Physical Vulnerability Debuff
Rogue (Mutilate) - Armor Debuff (Major) Crit Debuff, Healing Debuff, Cast Slow
Shaman (Enhancement) - AP (%), AGI/STR, Melee Haste
Warrior (Fury) - Bleed Debuff, Melee Crit, AP (Flat), Healing Debuff, HP, AP Debuff

2 sources of Replenishment, all major buffs covered, all major debuffs covered, 3 paladins so that everyone gets what they need/want, no less than 2 and no more than 3 of every class. Arms warrior removed, see note below. There's even a cat druid and 2 warriors a warrior that can tote tank gear with them him in case a fourth tank is needed for any encounter. 2 dedicated tank healers (disc priest and holy paladin), 2 brain healers... this raid has it all.

Okay, I've got that out of my system now. The raid leader in me has been appeased.

EDIT: Removed the arms warrior since an anonymous tipster told me Blood Frenzy is doubled by combat rogues! Also shuffled some things - brought in a moonkin, subbed out the feral, and shifted a shaman from elemental to enhancement.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We're Takin' Yer Jerbs

BRK has been going back and forth about the reasoning of bringing a BM vs SV hunter to raids, considering raid buffs brought to the table and personal DPS.

I say throw the buffs out the window.


Well, according to the post, BRK is operating under the assumption that there is a ret paladin in the raid providing Judgement of Wisdom and Replenishment, therefore the SV hunter's access to Replenishment is a moot point. He then starts musing about personal DPS differences and how Ferocious Inspiration can make up any ground lost to a SV hunter.

What he forgot to consider is that same ret paladin is covering his Ferocious Inspiration buff as well.

To paraphrase the immortal kitty in question, Sanctified Retribution, fo' shizzle. It occupies the same raid buff typography as Ferocious Inspiration. Don't believe me? Check the blue notes from 3.0.2 via MMO Champ.

So, raid leaders, if you're deciding between BM or SV hunter for that DPS spot, yes definitely think about who's the better player or who's got the hotter sister. But if you're going to put that hunter into a ret paladin-using raid, don't bother mentioning their raid buffs. We got ya covered.

MM hunters, on the other hand... they can go duke it out with the enhancement shaman for who gets to bring the +AP% buff...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lightbringer > Judgement

I have a confession to make.

The Lightbringer armor set is my favorite.

I know everyone loves the Judgement (tier 2) set and thought that it was the best, but I love that tier 6 goodness.


1. Lightbringer looks like armor.
Judgement set looked like cloth. The inquisitor look was forboding/intimidating, but it didn't look like it offered much protection. Lightbringer, on the other hand, looks like it's made of plate/metal. Sure it's a little gawdy/ornamented, but at least an arrow won't pierce it without a ton of force.
2. Lightbringer shines.
The paladin is a "warrior of the Light," and everything they do is s'posed to represent truth, justice, and the American Azerothian way. Judgement armor makes a paladin look like he's been hanging out at an S&M convention or inflicting some sort of torture on sinners. Lightbringer is shimmering golden platemail that literally radiates light.
3. Tirion Fordring wears Lightbringer.
If it's good enough for the mightiest paladin currently alive in Azeroth, it's good enough for me.
4. Lightbringer is named after the greatest and first paladin.
Uther was a man. Uther was a paladin. Uther was awesome. There's a reason that there's a monument and memorial near the now-ruined city of Lordaeron commemorating his life and sacrifice.
5. Lightbringer's color scheme matches that of the paladin charger.
Black and red with blue and gold is not as cool as blue and gold with gold and blue.

Plus, while Lightbringer's halo-helm looked stupid, I can hide my helmet. I can't hide Judgement's skirt/kilt thing.

I kept my full season 3 Vengeful set together and wear that and my Sulfuras for vanity screenshots. I'm considering toting that stuff around with me whereever I go instead of my tank gear, just for kicks.

Because I think the pic looks good, here's my current avatar on a bunch of forums that proves Lightbringer looks better than Judgement. That's alls I'm sayin, yo.

The Hybridiest Ever

The evolution of the paladin as a hybrid class has been a long and arduous road. At 60, tanking and DPS'ing were almost impossible to do at a high level, and healing was passable but fairly undynamic. In terms of modal and fluid hybrids, the paladin was neither.

At 70, retribution and protection became usable in raids, and holy was powerful but narrow. The paladin was a modal hybrid, but not fluid, as healing with prot gear or DPS'ing in holy gear was laughable.

At 80, with Art of War, Sheath of Light, Sacred Shield, strength -> block value conversion being buffed, and other such changes, the paladin can now perform serviceable, short-term duty as a healer in prot or ret gear with noticeable effect. I personally have been able to keep healing going in a heroic 5-man after the healer has perished. It's tough, but it's possible.

The paladin has taken a step into the world of fluid hybrids. Rohan should be proud.

EDIT: Art of WAR, not Art of WART. Gorram typos...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

3.0 FAQ Posted to the Official Forums

I put it out there for the community at large. Let's see how it stands up to the trolls of the official forums.

Monday, February 9, 2009

30 Minute Seals

A knight of the Silver Hand must have infiltrated Blizzard's Irvine headquarters, because I know they didn't come up with this one on their own. According to MMO Champion, a small patch will be rolled out tomorrow that will increase the duration of all paladin seals to 30 minutes and make them un-dispel-able (which will subsequently change the text on Sanctified Seals - bye bye 2/3 Sanc Seals for PvP specs).

Rejoice, brothers and sisters, as you will no longer have to re-seal mid-fight.

This system makes more intuitive sense to me. I've always thought that sealing a weapon was more of a long-term imbue sort of thing, not a 30 second "this buff will shine brightly and then flame out!" sort of thing like it was originally. 2 minutes was a step in the right direction, and now 30 minutes is just splendiforous.

Here's to you, Mr. Paladin Spy in Irvine!

/raises mug of ale
/takes a swig

Friday, February 6, 2009


Blessing of Kings... trainable?

Up is down, black is white, and I'm just downright confused.

Blessing of Kings started as a 1-point tier 7 retribution talent. Then it got moved to tier 3 of protection as a 1-point talent. Then it was changed to a 5-point tier 1 protection talent. Now it's being baselined?

Couple that with Replenishment being given to demonology warlocks and deep frost mages, and it gives me the feeling that the dev team is just shuffling the cards. I went over my feelings about Replenishment being spread around yesterday. A sudden and swift baselining of an ability that paladins have been clamoring for to be baselined for the better part of 3 years is... well, incomprehensible.

I don't even know what to say right now.

I do love Exorcism being usable on all enemies though, even though Exorcising a living, breathing, healthy Orc doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Pretty useful though! I think I might grab myself a Glyph of Exorcism so that I have 2 interrupts at all times (Hammer of Justice and Exorcism).

A word of warning - don't get too attached to anything you read in the patch notes preview. They're a preview - this stuff hasn't even hit the PTR yet. Until it's live in the game, it hasn't happened and isn't definite. And even then, it could get patched out or hotfixed to oblivion. I hope you had a salt shaker handy while you were reading, because that preview needed to be taken with several grains of that sodium-based substance.

FAQ Updated - Additional Questions?

I made another round of updates to the 3.0 Ret FAQ yesterday. Aside from altering the suggested specs, I think it's in a good spot.

Are there any other questions that you, the reader, feel need to be addressed in the FAQ? I tried to hit all the frequently asked stuff, but I know this stuff so I can't get into the mindset of a ret non-afficionado.

I'll be copying the latest version over to BHB as well.

Please leave any additional questions or suggestions in the comments or e-mail them to me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Necessary AND Evil

Raiders cried out that the Replenishment effect is a necessary, required raid buff. The crab responded that the devs balance raids with Replenishment in mind, assuming that all raids will have it. To date, only 3 specific talent specs can provide this "necessary" raid buff: shadow priests, survival hunters, and ret paladins.

If the whelpling's preview becomes reality, we can add another one to that list: demonology warlocks.

Improved Soul Leech – this talent now provides Replenishment (similar to shadow
I'm not comfortable with this.

Granted, this is just a preview, not a "we're patching this in tomorrow" sort of thing. I wonder why the devs targeted warlocks with this change, though. To me, warlocks have always been a "me me me" sort of class, with most of their spells and abilities focused on themselves and even garnering additional outside attention to them (Life Tap -> Heal me!). The Replenishment effect is a very outwardly-focused effect. It doesn't fit, in my eyes. I'd think it an elemental/restoration shaman ability much quicker than a warlock ability.

With that said, if Blizzard considers Replenishment an integral part of raiding, why not just fold the increased mana regen into all classes and not even bother with the ability? Buff in-combat mana regeneration by 0.25% of max mana per second for all mana-users, take Replenishment out of the hands of players, wipe your hands, and walk away. It seems silly to start handing the effect out to everyone and then having to "balance" the replenishers' damage down slightly to account for the increased utility.

I don't know if Replenishment is Blizzard's way of encouraging people to bring "underutilized" or "underpowered" specs to raids, but this seems like a round-about way to go about that.

Unless Replenishment gets given to everyone, raiders are still going to bemoan the fact that there is a special seat at the raiding table that needs to be accounted for. There's the tank seats, the healer seats, the DPS seats, and some of those DPS seats have a "reserved" sign on them for V.I.P. Replenishment-providers.

Giving Replenishment to additional specs does not change the fact that a raid is required to bring one or more of those specs to a progression raid.

I'm not trying to create a value judgment here, so don't take the above the wrong way. I don't care if 3 more classes can bring Replenishment. What I do care about is band-aids over problems. If Replenishment's presence (or absence) in the raid is presenting a problem, fold it into baseline combat regen and stop dicking around!

And to add to the fun, Bornakk chimed in on mana regen! Here's the paladin highlights:
  • Divine Plea healing penalty increased from 20% to 50%
  • Spiritual Attunement changing "somehow"
  • More classes getting access to Replenishment (aside from warlocks, I assume - waiting on part 3 of the class preview)
The Spiritual Attunement change scares me. I await the news on this with baited breath.

Help Me Hurt Them

I know Megs does these all the time, so I thought I'd try my hand at one. This ballad is how I feel about Seal of the Martyr and the healers that make it work. Get your rotten tomatoes ready, this is going to be horrific:

To the tune of "I Touch Myself" by The Divinyls

"I Cut Myself" - sung to a healer
I cut myself
I want you to fix me
When my health is low
I want you behind me
I hurt myself
I want you to heal me
I bleed myself
I want you to infuse me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I cut myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

You're the one who makes me healthy honey
You're the buff that makes me leet
When you're around I'm always bashing
I want to declare it on the street

I cast my seal
And see you behind me
Know I would die
If you were to forsake me
Recount can see
Just how much I need you
I get down on my greaves
I'd do anything for you


I cut myself
I want you to fix me
When my damage is low
I want you behind me
I hurt myself
I want you to heal me
I bleed myself
I want you to infuse me


I want you
I don't want anybody else
And when I think about you
I cut myself
Ooh, oooh, oooooh, ow!


Disclaimer: Josh does not actually cut himself, this is merely a commentary on the interaction of Seal of the Martyr / Seal of Blood, paladins, and their healers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mental Checklist for Retributive Justice

Before pummeling anything with your weapon of choice, you must make sure that you are ready. Use this flowchart to be positive that everything's in order.

Ret Flowchart

To All The Paladins I Loved Before

Thank you Honors and Siha for the link-love for BHB. It's good to know it's got the support of my paladin brothers and sisters-at-arms. I don't know that BHB will be quite as successful as Tankspot, Maintankadin, or PlusHeal, since melee DPS is a narrower focus than tanking or healing with less intersection of topics amongst the classes, but hey, you gotta at least start the engine to see how far the car will go. Or, as Matticus loves to quote, "You miss 100% of the shots you never take" (Wayne Gretzky).

In other paladin news, Pike started a paladin. I recommend a head exam. Leveling a paladin is excruciating, despite the changes made to the class. And leveling prot before you have access to Holy Shield? Might wanna go for the full-blown psych evaluation. Level ret, Seal of Command and strength gear are your friend!

But who am I kidding? I leveled as prot for my formative years too. I was stupid then, and didn't know hit rating from my own arse or what "uncrittable" amounted to for tanking (I used to tank Stratholme dead-side with my ret gear on and a shield strapped to my arm!), but it still was fun getting bashed in the face and not dying immediately. I just didn't know how much *more* fun ret was at the time. BIG YELLOW NUMBERS, YEEHA!

I'd also like to make a note on my glyph analysis - a reader, Coristad of Kul Tiras-US, sent me a spreadsheet detailing out how Glyph of Avenging Wrath is more DPS than Glyph of Hammer of Wrath or Glyph of Crusader Strike. Here's what he said:

I think there is another way to look at your glyph analysis. You did your analysis purely on the basis of mana-consumption which is understandable, but undervalues Hammer of Wrath.

Thanks to Sanctified Wrath, HoW crits at an abnormally high rate. The damage it can be "counted on" to do, therefore, is vastly disproportional to its mana cost. In situations where mana is not a constraint- let's say the last 20% of a boss's health- mana consumption becomes irrelevant and the name of the game is to simply cram as much damage in as short of a period of time as possible.

In the atached spreadsheet, I modelled a few different scenarios. The first set of scenarios was a 20 second burn down, the second set of scenarios was a 10 second burndown, all timed to coincide with an Avenging-Wrath induced beatdown. All data comes from an recent Sarth fight of mine, so no Exorcism to figure in. The damage for each ability was "weighted" by its crit rate. White swings are excluded because they are not relevant to the analysis.

The short version is that over a 20 second run, the Glyph of Avenging Wrath would net *me* 35% more damage (about 16.6K more), and 42% more over a 10 second burn (due to less GCD clashes).

I currently run with Judgement, Consecration, and HoW for my glyphs, and I almost never have mana issues. I don't think Glyph of Crusader Strike is necessary with smart use of replenishment and consumables. Therefore I contend that more damage is better, given that mana is only occasionally a problem, and so the maximum DPS combination of Glyphs is actually Judgement, Consecration, and Avenging Wrath.
I'd just like to clarify my point. Glyph of Avenging Wrath is the highest DPS option amongst your 3rd major glyph options, but comes with several strings attached. If the fight doesn't lend itself to saving your wings for the last 20%, then you won't get full value. If you manage to burn too much of your mana and don't have ways available to replenish your resources when 20% rolls around (Divine Plea on cooldown, potion used, Lay on Hands on cooldown), then you won't get full value, since Glyph of Avenging Wrath will ramp up your mana consumption while active. If the boss becomes unattackable for any reason during the 20% phase and your wings are up (Sapphiron takes off and you're hiding behind an ice block, or the boss teleports away like Heigan or Noth, etc), then you don't get your full value. All in all, you need three things to happen when you're using Glyph of AW:
  1. You must have saved enough mana to support an extra 2k mana consumed (minus the mana used on Exorcism/Holy Wrath/1 odd strike, as they would get bumped from the skill cycle).
  2. You must have your Avenging Wrath cooldown available
  3. You must have all 20 seconds of your Avenging Wrath duration as on-target boss DPS.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that yes, Glyph of AW will give you the highest damage output of any of your 3rd glyph options, but only if you can work within its requirements. Glyph of CS and Glyph of HoW are more broadly applicable, and therefore are safer options with very tangible benefits. Sure, they're just mana saving glyphs, but if you save enough mana, you might be able to use a Potion of Speed instead of a Runic Mana Potion, which will still up your DPS. Remember, haste isn't bad, it's just not as good as an equal amount of strength.

Coristad fired back with the following:
I don't think 2 and 3 are really substantial objections. Even making frequent use of of AW, it's not unrealistic to say that there are situations where you're not going to pop it immediately, especially in heroic raids where you can expect the raid leader to synchronize heroisms, drums, etc. If your AW comes available at 25%, would you use it or wait until 20%? Also, as my model shows, having less than 20 seconds IMPROVES the performance of HoW. insta-cast (can be cast while running, flying backwards, knocked up in the air) ranged damage that crits lke crazy, and I can use it every 3 seconds? Yes Please!

I will grant you that increased mana usage is a concern. There are a few dead spots in the models where a potion could be chugged. Divine Please could also make an appearance. My feeling, however, is that I am doing fine on mana without the Crusader glyph for extended fights. If there's any kind of splash damage flying around I am hard pressed to spend all of my mana.

The big picture is that I don't think it's worth automatically dismissing the Glyph because it does not promote mana efficiency. There is at least one other way to look at the problem, and that's in giving you more burst damage. After doing this modelling, I figure it's at least worth the couple of gold to try it out.
So, I leave it up to you, fair reader. Glyph of AW might be worth it. If I can figure out how to post Excel spreadsheets to Blogger I'll make his workbook available for your consumption. I might even replace my Glyph of Crusader Strike and give it a whirl.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mutterings and Mumblings 2-3-09

If I join one more OS-25 PUG where there are several people who
a) don't know the fight,
b) don't know where the flippin' instance is, or
c) stare at the wall of fire coming at them instead of moving the f!#$ out of the way,
I might just take to the streets in a fit of rage.

There are too many melee DPS out there right now. Everytime I form a PUG, I get rogues, warriors, death knights, and ret paladins coming out of the woodwork to join. The worst part about that is all but the rogues want everything I want loot-wise. Titan's Grip and tons of death knights have flooded the two-hander market with buyers, so if I ever do run Naxx-25 in a PUG, I have no doubt that I will lose the roll for any weapon I want under an avalanche of fury warrior/death knight/other ret paladin rolls. I demand to know - where are all of these plate-wearers coming from, and why are they always in my raids rolling on my DPS loot?

I think I'm going to have to farm up some more gold and buy a Darkmoon Card: Greatness. Loatheb's Shadow is elusive and Fury of the Five Flights requires physical DPS to stop coming into the same OS-25 PUG's as me.

There aren't enough quality pick-up players on Malfurion. Every PUG I join either goes splat or wins in spite of itself. I want to start my own "regular" PUG group where I actually evaluate the players who come and establish a pool of public raiders that aren't morons, but my play-time is too erratic to do that. Ditto for joining another guild - play-time is too erratic to commit to a raid schedule.

Malygos doesn't drop anything of serious interest to me. I don't know why I bother with him.

My guildmates aren't online much outside of 25-man raid times - guild chat is a ghost town on off-nights. It's making my quest for a red proto-drake grind to a halt.

My death knight 2v2 partner disappeared 3-4 weeks ago. Anyone with information on his whereabouts, please contact me immediately.

On that note, I haven't PvP'ed much at all lately. The shine is starting to fade off Wintergrasp for me.

Under what circumstances can death knights dual-wield and actually be effective? Thus far, every death knight I've had tanking for me that opted for dual-wield, be them unholy or frost (haven't seen a blood DW DK), have been sorta low on the threat meter. I don't see the appeal of dual-wield on a DK, especially if low threat is the result.

I tried creating a favicon for E4AE, I couldn't get Blogger to recognize it. I don't know what I did wrong.

I've been fiddling with the formatting on the blog, I think I'm good for now. How's it look? I know I didn't change anything major - I like to tinker, small changes here and there. Probably one of the reasons Cathmor is an engineer, aside from the draw of Thorium Grenades back in the day.

That's all for now. Hope you have an easy maintenance day!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The New Hotness

I feel bad pre-empting Stoney on this, but I'm excited about it. In concert with Stoneybaby of Windfury Crits and Zaltu of One Rogue's Journey, I'm helping to launch a new website. Big Hit Box is a site that is dedicated to melee DPS discussion across all classes. I'll be cross-posting most if not all of my posts, especially the "how-to" posts, over to Big Hit Box. The thought is that putting all the melee classes in one place might encourage collaboration amongst the classes, and might even lead to a few new ideas.

Mosey on over and take a look. The site is fresh and content is still being developed, but since it's a Wordpress template and Stoney's handling the back-end, it looks a lot better than this ol' blog.

I just threw my latest rant about WI's ret guide onto BHB (which I'm going to call Big Hit Box from now on, I like giving things acronyms). More content will be coming soon!

Don't Read WoW Insider's Ret Guide

As much as I appreciate what Zach Yonzon is trying to do, it's riddled with mistakes.

First off, yes, hit and expertise are good stats, but the hit cap and expertise cap are completely unnecessary. Stocking up on strength at the expense of either of these stats is fine. Never gem for hit. Bold red, Inscribed orange, and Sovereign purple, nothing else (aside from your meta) is acceptable.

Second, when speaking about expertise rating, keep your terms uniform! The following:

You'll need 214 Hit Rating to be Expertise capped, so every little bit helps.
... is confusing! I know Zach meant "214 expertise rating," but anyone reading this that isn't, well, me or someone like me, might not know that he just mixed his terms. Hit rating is not expertise rating.

Third, I just got done explaining why Glyph of Seal of Blood is terrible, especially when you have the option of Glyph of Spiritual Attunement. Neither of them should be considered, but if you do, Glyph of Seal of Blood should not be chosen. Ever.

Fourth, you don't open with Judgement because of Heart of the Crusader. You open with Judgement because it's your biggest, juiciest, highest damage and highest DPS attack. And you keep it as your top priority because of that AND it returns mana.

Lastly, it is irresponsible to macro Avenging Wrath to Judgement. Avenging Wrath should be used early in the fight and as often as possible, but if it comes off cooldown just before Sapphiron takes to the air, or just before Malygos starts his Vortex, or just before Sartharion sends a position-unfriendly Flame Wall at you, or before Heigan teleports away to make you dance, you just wasted your cooldown.

There are some good things said in the article, but these glaring errors make me nervous that people will actually read and take some of these wrong pieces of information to heart.

EDIT: And another thing! When talking about specs, Zach says:

As far as the two discretionary points are concerned, it's a toss-up between Pursuit of Justice and Divine Purpose. Pursuit of Justice is extremely useful for mobility fights while Divine Purpose is useful to break stuns on bosses with stun abilities.

Let me make this crystal clear. Vindication should not be considered mandatory in a PvE raiding build. It does not affect bosses and is iffy on the trash. If you want to make a PvE build skeleton, it's 0/10/57 +4, with your 4 points having a choice of going into Improved Blessing of Might (which is not necessary if you coordinate your talent builds with other paladins in your raid), Divine Purpose, and Improved Retribution Aura. Pursuit of Justice should be the mandatory one - getting to your target quicker means you can start attacking quicker, and if you start earlier you get more swings in. More swings = more damage. Vindication is even less important to a raiding paladin than Divine Purpose, which has limited application in raids to begin with.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Boss Spotlight: Sapphiron

In a continuing effort to educate the community on how Retribution Paladins should approach fights that pose specific difficulties to the class, E4AE proudly presents another "Boss Spotlight!" In today's crosshairs: Sapphiron.

Sapphiron is frost wyrm guarding access to Kel'Thuzad's seat of power in Naxxramas. A blue dragon of considerable power in life, Sapphiron was killed and resurrected by Arthas to serve the Lich King. Sapphiron has all the usual abilities of a dragon with some powerful frost magic to boot.

Why are we talking about this boss?
Dragons are a run-of-the-mill encounter in MMO's, even World of Warcraft. The WoW versions of dragons do some or all of the following: a frontal cleave, a tail sweep, a breath ability, and may or may not take flight at some point in the encounter. Sapphiron is no different - he cleaves, he slaps people with his tail, and he will fly around frequently.

So what's different?

In addition to all his dragon-y abilities, our winged guest will also encase people in blocks of ice, blast the entire room with frosty instant-death, deal periodic frost damage to everyone in the room for the entire fight, and summon very powerful blizzards to wreak havoc with your positioning.

Right! So, what are you waiting for? Go poke him with the pointy end.

What to do when facing Sapphiron
First, determine your healers' competency. If they are questionable or relatively weak, you may want to switch to Seal of Command for this fight to make sure you don't kill yourself with kickback. Using your Judgement of Light instead of Judgement of Wisdom may also help out the melee's health, giving the healers a helping hand. Lastly, if it comes to it, make use of your Art of War procs to top yourself and others off. The periodic frost damage combined and the summoned blizzards are a pain to deal with. If your raid's healers are top-notch, continue on cutting yourself for extra damage with Seal of the Martyr / Seal of Blood and judging whatever you like.

Second, always be mindful of your surroundings and position. Sapphiron's cleave is far-reaching - if you are anywhere near his frontal cone, you will get cleaved and you will get one-shot. Likewise, if you're anywhere near his rear cone you will get tail-slapped and you will end up way out of range of the boss and your healers for a bit. Stay between his front and hind legs at all times.

The blizzards cause additional problems for positioning. They wander around the room and deal considerable damage coupled with a movement slowing effect. If a blizzard approaches your position, run through Sapphiron to his other flank. If you do so, you can continue DPS'ing uninterrupted. Watch your health while you're on the other side, you may be momentarily out of healing range. When the blizzard passes your original location, swap back and resume normal functioning. Don't stand in the blizzard, it's generally considered a Bad Thing. It's not quite the Super Bowl of not standing in things, as Gragnarth dubbed Illidari Council (thanks WoW Insider for reminding me of that wonderful forum post), but you definitely need to keep an eye on what's going on around you.

When Sapphiron takes to the air, move out of melee range. Anyone standing near his take-off point will be knocked back after a few seconds. When repositioning, do not stand too near to any of your fellow raiders. The wyrm will shoot two frostbolts at random raid members that will encase them in ice blocks for several seconds, and anyone standing near the targets will take additional frost damage. Once your friends are thoroughly frozen, position yourself behind the ice block, using the raider-cube to shield yourself from Sapphiron's line of sight. Sapphiron will "deep breath" and insta-kill anyone in the room that's not hiding behind or encased in ice. Again, watch your health, and if necessary, throw some heals around. When he's done trying to annihilate you from the air, he'll land in the middle of the room and resume thrashing your tank. Stay away from the head and tail and get back in there.

Rinse, and repeat.

A note on cooldowns - Sapphiron is on the ground for 45 seconds at a time, and less than that in the air. You will likely be able to use your Avenging Wrath every other ground phase. If you, like me, are an engineer and have Hyperspeed Accelerators on your gloves, you can use them every ground phase and still stack them with your wings.

Until next time, this has been another edition of E4AE Boss Spotlight, with your host, Josh!