Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If It At First You Don't Succeed...

... wipe, wipe again.

Last Thursday I lead a PUG Naxx-25 raid. It took a while to get things rolling and most of the DPS was iffy at best, but we were able to clear out most of the instance in one night.

The roadblock we ran into was Thaddius. For some ungodly reason, about 5-6 people in the raid either could not handle the Polarity Shift. At the first shift, I would undoubtedly have 4-6 fried, smoking husks of raiders at Thaddius's feet. I was employing my tried-and-true stock car strategy for Thaddius: group up, turn left. These fellas, however, just couldn't grasp it for one reason or another. When questioned about their inability to grasp the simple concept of "go around the fata$$ boss to the other side," I got reasons ranging from absolute silence and no acknowledgement of my question, to "sorry my comp sucks," to "that's not how my guild does it."

I don't care about your reason for sucking. I just want you to fix it or get out, you're mucking up my raid.

That's what I said in my head. What I said out loud was more along the lines of "all right, as a reminder to everyone, positives are on the LEFT, negatives are on the RIGHT, and everyone needs to stack up at max melee range. Make sure to go around Thaddius clockwise, meaning to your LEFT, when switching sides on the Polarity Shift." I didn't call anyone out publicly. We also didn't kill the boss.

On Monday, after I had taken care of work, class, dinner, and all that jazz, I logged in to finish what I had started. The only bosses I had left up were Thaddius, Sapphiron, and Kel'Thuzad. It took me 30-45 minutes to form up the raid, and then awaaaaaayyy we went, straight to Thaddius. Same strategy - group up, turn left, positive left, negative right.

On the first Polarity Shift of the first pull, 4 people got fried. 3 of them were DPS, and we hit the enrage because we were short on damage despite burning 2 Heroisms. I wasn't doing this again. Names got called.

"X, Y, Z, and Q, what happened, why'd you die?"

X, Y, and Z told me it was a connection issue - they got disconnected mid-fight (or so they claimed). Q said he flubbed it and went to the wrong side.

"We good now? Everyone know where they're going and stable?"

No objections, so we pulled again.

This time, only X and Y got fried. Thankfully, we were able to kill Thaddius without them.

I'm seriously considering imposing loot restrictions in my PUG's for people who can't grasp the fights. If you spend a fight dead for more than 33% through your own actions (i.e. aggro pull, incorrect switch on Thaddius, etc.), or cannot manage to do 1.5 times as much damage as the tank on the boss, then I'm not awarding you loot for that boss. Gevlon would be proud of this line of thinking, I bet. The sad part is I check everyone's achievements before I invite to make sure they've killed most/all the bosses in Naxx on any difficulty and do a spot check on gearing. These jokers passed my screening, and then went and got themselves cooked on Thaddius.

And now for the happier portion of my post.

Before the raid I had declared that the Key to the Focusing Iris would be looted by me so that I could lead a Malygos-25 PUG as well. We were able to 2-shot Sapphiron (the tank got Deep Breathed on the first breath during the first attempt - he claimed he was behind the block, but his death proved otherwise), and I grabbed that sucker. After a 1-shot of Kel'Thuzad which had absolutely zero complications...

... all right there were a few, as in a few special people not understanding the idea of spreading out to avoid getting Frost Blasted, and others standing in the red swirly death of the void zones...

... I handed out the loot and then proclaimed that we'd be raiding Malygos! Huzzah!

After I filled the holes in the raid voided by those that left, I formed up the raid at the Eye of Eternity. I employed my guild's 6 minute Malygos strategy and had one of my guildie's DK alts take care of spark management. I did this instead of letting the tank go whereever he pleased so that the added damage in phase 1 would off-set any failure by PUGs to shield themselves in phase 3.

I'm glad I did, because several people took beams to the face and took a tumble into the black abyss. We beat the enrage timer handily without them, though. The funniest part is the Malygos-25 kill was my first true attempt at the 25-man version. I got the heroic Denyin' the Scion and Spellweaver's Downfall achievements from the kill.

I can now say that I've successfully PUG'ed every 25-man encounter in WotLK with me at the helm. I'm a WoW-approved cat herder.

Scraptacular

So Siha has awarded me the Honest Scrap award. I always knew that my blog was scraptacular. However, I can only assume that this award is a cancer upon my house, since it's being passed around like a rampant STD. I'm not keeping it. You hear me, internet? I'm not going to contract this MTD (meme-transmitted disease). I'm passing it off before I get some on me.

Nope, not gonna participate. No means no.

Just say no to memes.

What's that you say? By acknowledging the award, I'm now participating? Sonofab*tch.

Fine. Here's what I've gotta do:

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!
I get to infect others now! Listen up, people, you're almost as scraptacular as I am. In no particular order...


Now, onward to the real reason you're here - to know things about me. No, wait, the reason you're here is to read about retribution paladins... well, I'm a retribution paladin. So you're learning about a ret paladin. It's just necessarily what you thought you'd be reading. I'm going to get to the meme now, I promise.

  1. I have a BA in Sociology that I don't use. I miss Goffman and Simmel being a part of my everyday life.

  2. I have an affinity for pasta. I can eat it twice a day for a week and not get sick of it.

  3. I don't drink carbonated beverages. Soda, beer, seltzer, champagne... keep 'em away, I won't imbibe.

  4. On the other hand, wine is splendiforous. Mmmmm, crushed grape goodness...

  5. When no one is watching and I have something sword-like in arm's reach, I might start hacking and slashing at nothingness. I'm weird.

  6. I've never been west of Ohio. I have been to 4 or 5 foreign countries and traversed the Atlantic, but I've never been to California.

  7. I love roller coasters. The reason I went as far west as Ohio at all is because of Cedar Point, the roller coaster mecca of the northern United States.

  8. I have not played any other character in Warcraft higher than level 27 (EDIT: besides my paladin, of course). Unless you count my death knight, which got as high as 58, but that isn't the same, since he started at 55. My paladin is truly my only character.

  9. I drink skim milk with my breakfast every morning. Others have expressed disgust at this, and I don't understand why.

  10. Karaoke makes my skin crawl. When I find myself in a karaoke situation, I start scanning for exits and escape routes.
I throw out chain letters. But for some reason I don't refuse to do these meme things. Don't ask me why.

Monday, March 30, 2009

They're Dropping Like Flies

First Phae, now BRK. If Matticus or BBB proclaim today that they're quitting blogging, I'm going to cry foul and say this is some elaborate April Fool's hoax.

If it's true, the strongest voices of both druids and hunters in the community have fallen silent within a month of each other.

Playing WoW at a high level and blogging about it while simultaneously juggling a personal life (in real life as opposed to Azeroth) and holding down a full-time job is not without complications. I respect and admire both Phae and BRK for doing both seemingly so well for so long.

I dare say that the loss of his voice in the WoW blogging community is even more impactful than Phaelia closing down Resto4Life. No offense to Phae, but BRK had a larger readership and wider platform, catering to all hunters as opposed to mostly just one spec, and doing so across several mediums - his site, Project Lore, WoW Insider, and YouTube.

Here's hoping that BRK finds a new level of happiness in his renewed private life. The WoW blogging community got noticeably quieter today.

/target BigRedKitty
/salute

May the Light be with you, Mr. Howell.

If The PTR Went Live Today...

... I'd spec this way for PvE.

Now, for the explanation part of the program.

My ret tree has a glaring omission - Seal of Command. I don't plan on using it at all, so why use the talent point when I've got somewhere else to put the point? In any situation that I risk killing myself with recoil damage, I'm going to either use Seal of Righteousness instead or ease off a bit while using Seal of the Martyr and concentrate hard on Sacred Shield'ing and Flash of Light'ing myself. Hopefully these sorts of fights are few and far between.

Seal of Command without the glyph is lackluster, and I don't plan on keeping a glyph and a talent point on me for these occasions.

Anything else I left out of the ret tree was because the talent has little to no PvE application (Vindication, Eye for an Eye, Divine Purpose) or it's a tank talent (Deflection).

As for the prot tree, I grabbed Divine Strength (of course, never leave Ironforge without it!) and a bunch of other goodies. First up, the new talent - Divinity.

Divinity increases healing to the paladin and by the paladin by 1/2/3/4/5%. It is my understanding that this applies to the paladin in question's Judgement of Light, which means it boosts the effective heal on JoLight by 5% on everyone. JoLight also got expanded to ranged attacks too, so yippie! Divinity also double-dips - if I end up Flash of Light'ing myself, it boosts the heal itself by 5% (healing done by the paladin) and then boosts it additional 5% when it heals me up (healing done to the paladin). 10% increase to my Art of War self-Flashes, woohoo!

Now that I've got 10 points in the tree, I can grab Divine Sacrifice, bring me up to 11 points in prot. The new Divine Guardian looks juicy too, though. It boosts the effectivness of Divine Sacrifice and increases the amount absorbed by Sacred Shield, which I plan on using more often now that it plays nice with Sheath of Light. So, I need to burn another 4 points in the prot tree.

Guardian's Favor grants increased mobility (longer duration Hand of Freedom) and decreased Hand of Protection cooldown. It's a solid talent. It usually won't increase personal DPS, but it can prove it's worth by helping you save a zealous clothie with a timely HoP.

The last 2 points I tossed into Toughness for lack of a better choice. More armor and decreased snare duration sounded good to me. Others would say Improved Righteous Fury would be a good choice, but I can't see myself using Righteous Fury on any fight. The only time I'd end up using it is if it were talented and I were fighting Loatheb, and even then I'd need to wait to get a spore to buff it up. Basically, I'm too wary of aggro to try it. And Stoicism/Anticipation don't appeal to me for PvE.

That brings me up to 15, and then I can toss 2 into Divine Guardian. 0/17/54, the new 0/10/61 in my personal opinion.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gimme Gimme Gimme


My wonderful, awesome, amazing, fantastic, and super-great girlfriend ordered it for me. Have I mentioned how awesome she is?

Now where shall I display Cathmor...

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Figureprint Pining



I might get that. That just looks too hot not to order.


What do you think, fine E4AE reader? Mace in one hand - attack ready position, or mace in one hand - spell ready position? Or should I forget the ready positions and go with some sort of mace swingy position? Or a kneeling position, since Cathmor is oh-so-pious (paladin, duh!).


I'm thinking the pose above is the best.


EDIT: Here's the other one I'm seriously considering.



Holy FAQ!

The lovely Siha of Banana Shoulders has posted her version of the 3.0 FAQ to her blog, geared toward holy paladins. If you have questions about healing, I encourage you to give it a read-through.

The Mailbag: UI and Macros

Mike writes:

Hey Josh my name is mike, im a regular on your blog and I'd just like to say your posts help me a ton. I was actually curious if you ever wrote a blog about your macros or what UI you use. I currently am having trouble breaking over 3100 dps in raids and I've seen ret pallies do as much as 5k easy. If you could email me or post your macros I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank for taking the time to hear me out!

Here's the last post I did on my UI.
It's from BC, but I still use most if not all of the mods listed, and my UI looks pretty much the same.

As for macro's, I don't use anything out of the ordinary. I have /startattack macro'ed to my strikes, for example:
#showtooltip Crusader Strike
/startattack
/cast Crusader Strike

... I have mouseover functionality macro'ed to my defensive spells, for example:
#showtooltip Hand of Freedom
/cast [target=mouseover,exists] Hand of Freedom; Hand of Freedom

... and I have a self-Flash macro to bash when Art of War is up:
#showtooltip Flash of Light
/target Cathmor
/cast Flash of Light
/targetlasttarget

All the macro's I use on Cathmor fit into one of those frameworks. Crusader Strike, Divine Storm, Cleanse, Divine Intervention, Lay on Hands, Hand of Protection... just about everything.

Lastly, I use Clique to throw heals on others when needed. I have Flash of Light bound to Shift + Left Click, and Holy Light bound to Shift + Right Click. If the healers are being dodgy and the tank's going down, I use my Sacred Shield mouseover macro on 'im and throw a few Shift + Left Clicks the tank's way, hoping for some crits and a Sheath of Light HoT.

Hope that answers your question, Mike!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

If Only I Could Justify The Cost...

I want it.

(Shown above is a Figureprints.com rendering of Cathmor in his full season 3 gear, Tabard of the Protector, and Sulfuras on a marble tiled base. I can't in my head justify paying the cost for one of these... but it looks so darned good.)



EDIT: Or better yet, this one:


New Blog on the Block

Every so often I get questions about PvP. I'm one of the first to admit how much I suck at PvP. I got carried to the 1900's in Season 4. I was carried by a DK friend to 1750 in 2v2 this season. I'm by no means a skilled PvP'er, despite what anyone may say about their experiences with me. I know a lot of what needs to happen in PvP in theory, but when it comes to executing strategy and finding partners who can do so as well? I'm tucking ferrible (spelling intended). I perform at my best when you point me at a target and say "hit that guy for a while, don't worry about anything else." That doesn't make for sound PvP strategy.

However, I can recommend someone to you who knows his sh*t. Hofflerand, one of the moderators over at Retpaladin.com's forums, has started a blog of his own. And you know what? So far, so good. I skimmed the link off of Ferraro's blog, thought it might be useful to y'all. Hoff's only been blogging for a week or so and I've all ready picked up a few PvP tips and pointers. I don't plan to act on them in the near future, but it's good to know they're there. Yea, I know, I'm a paint-by-numbers PvE junkie.

You want to know how to smash stuff in PvP as ret? Go hang with the Hoff, he'll set you straight. Here's hoping he keeps on posting and streaming high quality PvP content onto the interwebs.

I'm Lost

Spoilers for the "Lost" episode aired on March 25, 2009 follow. Do not read further if you do not wish the episode to be spoiled!

----------------------------------

Okay, I've accepted the fact that the there's time travel in "Lost" now. But what I don't understand is how they justify the causation of events.

From an overhead timeline perspective, in the '70's, Ben gets shot by Sayid. Presumably, it's this event that sparks him to retrieve information on the Oceanic rat-pack and have it waiting for them when they crash-land in the 2000's. He then is all creepy and messes around with Sayid, jerking him around the world and manipulating the ever-living crap out of him. Sayid gets caught, gets on the Ajira plane, gets sent back to the '70's where he meets kid Ben and gets the bright idea to shoot the little creeper, setting us off on the whole chain of events again. Time loop!

Which came first, Sayid shooting Ben or Ben manipulating Sayid? My head hurts.

Ferraro, I need you to run this down for me - you watch, explain! I don't get it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Glyphing in 3.1: Mana Neutrality

Okay, Spiritual Attunement is a protection talent. Fine, we're over it.

Okay, we're keeping the recoil on Seal of the Martyr. We're coming to terms with that too.

Judgement of the Wise, as of the current PTR, is up to 25% base mana return. Woohoo!

Glyph of Seal of Blood, as of the current PTR, is changing to return 11% of the recoil damage seals/judgements cause as mana. Oka... wait, what?

Depending on how things pan out mana-wise before glyphs are applied, I might take this glyph as an offense to all things retributive. If, for example, ret will go bone-dry mana-wise in no time flat without both Consecration and Seal of Blood glyphs equipped, even with 25% JotW, ret mana regen is broken and the glyphs are a band-aid fix. Glyphs shouldn't be necessary for normal functionality, they should be conscientious choices that alter gameplay. If retribution can't remain somewhat mana neutral without those glyphs, the glyphs cease to be a choice and become a necessity.

That said, what a lot of posters are saying over at EJ and on the Maintankadin Off-specs board indicates that without using the new SoB glyph, ret is currently mana neutral, meaning it's possible to use all abilities and cooldowns and not go OOM (at least, not for a good long while - people are estimating that the current PTR build would lead to 11+ minutes to OOM in a 25 man).

That little rant out of the way, let's examine the contenders for your glyph slots in 3.1, shall we? In no particular order:

  • Glyph of Judgement: +10% Judgement damage

  • Glyph of Consecration: +2s Consecration damage/cooldown

  • Glyph of Exorcism: +20% Exorcism damage

  • Glyph of Seal of Blood: +11% recoil damage as mana

  • Glyph of Avenging Wrath: -3s HoW cooldown while under AW

  • Glyph of Crusader Strike: -70 mana on CS

  • Glyph of Hammer of Wrath: free HoW

My napkin math on Glyph of CS and Glyph of HoW is still relevant, even though everything I said in that post regarding Glyph of SA and Glyph of SoB is now moot. However, the changes to the Exorcism ability and its related glyph throw off all glyph debates and send them spinning into a new realm. Exorcism is now a regular part of the ret rotation, as it is usable against all targets.

Assuming that with Glyph of Cons equipped ret is, or is close to, mana neutral, all the other mana reduction/refund glyphs become next to useless. There is no need to save mana if mana isn't an issue! (Note: the reason Glyph of Cons is picked instead of Glyph of SoB is because Glyph of Cons smooths out cooldown clashes, increases Cons damage by increasing Cons up-time, and saves mana by decreasing the mana/up-time ratio.) So, we can toss Glyph of SoB, Glyph of CS, and Glyph of HoW off to the side.

Glyph of Judgement stays in. +10% damage to a ret's biggest damage source? Yes please!

The last slot comes down to Glyph of AW and Glyph of Exo. Double the amount of HoW's for 20s during the Execute period, or a flat +20% damage to Exorcism, the new ability on the rotational block? Intuitively, Glyph of Exo sounds better. If you read thru the EJ Ret thread, the math seems to support that, especially with some of the talent changes that increase Exorcism damage further.

So, unless something drastic happens, it looks like my recommended glyph load-out will be:
  1. Glyph of Judgement

  2. Glyph of Consecration

  3. Glyph of Exorcism

Sound good to you? 'Cuz that sounds lovely to me.

EDIT: Note to self - BBCode doesn't work on blog posts.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Forgot To Title This One

Ghostcrawler wrote, in response to this forum thread entitled "Hybrids and thier dps 'tax'" (spelling not corrected):

"Why am I a hybrid if I am only there to do dps?"

Here are two situations:

1) Your guild is forming the raid. The raid leader has all the dps slots full. The mage isn't going to come. The shaman can say "Hey, if I respec to heal, can I come?"

2) Imagine a rogue and warrior compete for dps slots. Imagine the rogue beats the warrior and for purposes of this argument assume the warrior cannot possibly improve his skill or gear. If the player is really frustrated, he does have another option. He can give up his dps career and be a tank. Yeah he'll lose some good gear, but it won't take that long to get another set. He may already have some pieces.

Now flip that situation around. The warrior does better dps and nothing the rogue can do will top that. The rogue's option: reroll.

Because of situations like these, we don't think there would be many pure dps players unless they knew that it was theoretically possible for them to "win the meters." The risk of being useless would be too great.

If you are a warrior who promises never to tank, or a shaman who swears you will never ever heal, then I am sympathetic. However, to flip things around still risks the above problems, which we think are the greater of the two evils.

Again, the difference is so small that realistically, very few of your guilds will even notice it. If you have bad rogues and good warriors, the warriors will be on top of the meters. For nearly all of the people reading this thread, you have many things you can do that will improve your dps by 5% or more, such as get good gear, experiment with a better spec, or just learn to play better. If you are in the top one or two guilds on your server, then you probably will notice dps differences among the classes. However, you are probably not the ones at all worried about losing your raid spot.

Reading that post, I have a worry. I understand that "pure" classes need some incentive to stick with it otherwise they'll feel useless. However, the "hybrid" classes are usually only able to flip between two roles.

Priests can DPS or heal.

Shaman can DPS or heal.

Warriors can tank or DPS.

And so forth.

Paladins, however, can DPS, tank, or heal. In terms of the holy trinity of MMO's, paladins can do anything. Does this factor in to the DPS tuning of retribution? This is what I'm wondering. In light of the fact that paladins can do anything game-wise, is retribution tuned to do less damage than anyone else?

A penny for a developer's thoughts...

EDIT: And as uke pointed out in comments, I'm stupid - druids can do all 3, too. Sorry druids! I sometimes forget you crazy cats/trees/moonkins/owlkins can do it all. Question stands though - are ret/balance/feral DPS tuned to a lower standard because of both class's ability to tank and heal?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fat-Fingered Intervention

Let me paint you a picture.

The scene is Obsidian Sanctum earlier this year. A group of guildmates is looking to kill Sartharion with 1 drake up but they're short a healer. No one with a heal button is online, aside from those all ready in the raid.

I log in and ask in guild chat what the good word is, and they respond with their situation.

An alarm goes off in my head. DANGER DANGER, HEALING NEEDED. HULL BREACH IMMINENT. Healing is not my thing.

Someone in my brain deftly turns off the alarm.

"Sure, let me get my healing gear together, I'll help out."

The nine of them are waiting around while I haul my holy gear out of the bank and find it unenchanted and ungemmed. I also go to the trainer and find that this is the first time I'm speccing holy since 3.0 hit servers - I had never before trained Beacon of Light.

As they have been waiting for a while, I'm furiously trying to get my shiznit in order. I fly around Northrend buying rep items, log over to my bank alt to retrieve enchanting materials and buy some cheap gems, and then rush down to Obsidian Sanctum, where a jewelcrafter and enchanter are waiting for me, along with the raid.

I run up to the enchanter in a tizzy, trying to verify that I've got everything I need and holding two other conversations at the same time - one with a guildie holy paladin to figure out what holy healing is all about in WotLK, and the other with the jewelcrafter asking what cuts for the gems I have he can supply.

Somehow, in the midst of it all, I mouse over my enchanter friend and press a button.

That button just so happens to be my Divine Intervention macro.

So, now I'm lying face down on the floor of the Wyrmrest Temple, at the feet of a guildmate, with my unenchanted and ungemmed holy gear on, in a spec I had never tried, frantically trying to reset my action bars. And then a healer logs in.

I cursed. A lot.

That, my friends, is my Fat-Fingered Intervention story.

(I ended up going and failing at Sarth-10 1D at that time, so we just killed 'em regular. And I vowed "no more healing." Which I kept to last night when I let an entire batch of off-set holy gear get disenchanted in Naxx-25 rather than pick it up and stash it in the bank. I'll leave the holy healing to the more experienced and the experts, thankyouverymuch.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Recoil And Martyrdom

Seal of the Martyr and Seal of Blood cause damage to the user every time damage is dealt. It's a unique mechanic amongst player buffs - the closest thing to it is a warlock's Life Tap ability, which converts health into mana, which is then used for damage. As Judgement has emerged as the top damaging ability for a ret paladin and damage totals have grown larger in proportion to health pools, this recoil damage has become a pressing concern amongst some paladins in the greater WoW community. I have been a semi-vocal opponent of the recoil damage in recent months, viewing it as a harsh and unwieldy mechanic. However, Lore helped put things in perspective today. On Maintankadin, in response to a statement that warlocks lose less damage by holding off on Life Tap'ing when compared with ret paladins holding off on Judging, he wrote:

Warlocks can't really delay lifetap until a safe moment without losing DPS -- if they're lifetapping, it's because they need mana, which they probably intend to use to DPS. We can delay Judgement for a minor loss of DPS if needed, or even just instant FoL and delay our swing timer.

Raid damage in a lot of ways makes JoB less of a liability, because there's fewer surprises and healers are already watching the raid and topping everyone off. The only real liability it brings is that the Priest or Druid needs to keep a HoT on you.

I also think you guys are exaggerating the "zomg big self-hit" numbers. Even a 20k judge does less than 7k self-damage. There's a couple Naxx encounters where that's possible, and it might be possible with cooldowns in Ulduar gear, but as it stands currently the highest I've been able to hit without encounter buffs is around 14k, or 4620 self damage.

Also, let's be honest for a moment -- Ret DPS is really, really easy. No rage to watch, Mana is rarely a concern, no DoT's or debuffs to keep active... hell we don't even need to refresh seals anymore. All we need to do is press the prettiest button that lights up. Health management adds just a tiny bit more to pay attention to.

While I do not agree with all his premises, he makes a good point. In the situation that I'm most worried about - heavy raid damage encounters - the raid healers will be watching anyway, making that extra bit of healing I need just a matter of an extra HoT tick. If I make sure to Sacred Shield myself before raid damage happens, and Divinity is included in whatever raid spec I take, I think that the Sacred Shield absorb plus the extra oomph added to incoming heals by Divinity will make it so that I'm not too much harder to keep alive than the rogue next to me.

The concern is still with randomly timed raid damage, though. If I don't know when it's coming, I don't know when not to Judge, or when to have Sacred Shield up. That situation requires some additional thinking, and I'm having trouble coming up with a solution.

Running On Empty

I've had a bit of writer's block lately. In trying to avoid whining about Seal of the Martyr recoil killing us all and Spiritual Attunement being yanked from baseline abilities (and the subsequent death of off-spec tanking), I'm at a loss as to what to write about. Other than ascending to the status of uber-paladin, acquiring all my best in slot armor, and achieving 5k damage on Patchwerk, I've achieved most of what I set out to do, both blog-wise and game-wise.

  • I finished the Glory of the Raider achievement through a combo of pick-ups and off-hours guild runs.

  • I've maintained my ret FAQ to the best of my ability.

  • I created some semi-useful gear lists for aspiring ret paladins.

  • I lead a PUG raid through Naxx-25 and cleared it out.

  • I've tanked or DPS'ed just about every encounter in this expansion.

So, now I turn to you, the reader. What do you want to hear about? What would you love to see me write about? I need some direction, because the only thing on my mind right now is a lovely image of a cooked crab in response to Ghostcrawler's recent tidings of retribution changes.



So, talk to me, people. I don't want this to turn into me whining about changes the developers put on the PTR. What do you want to read about? Leave your requests in comments or send them via e-mail.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Specs in 3.1

I know I've said in the past that once the patch comes, I'd spec 0/17/54 for Divine Guardian/Sacrifice and all the ret damage talents (aside from Seal of Command). I've been rethinking that position.

I'm now considering going 11/5/55, grabbing the new Aura Mastery along with Healing Light and Unyielding Faith from the holy tree. I'm undecided about whether my first 5 points in holy will be in Seals of the Pure or Spiritual Focus. If Seal of Righteousness ends up being competitive damage-wise with Seal of Blood when glyphed and talented, I'll grab Seals of the Pure. If not, Spiritual Focus for healing in the clutch. The extra point in ret (55 instead of 54) is for Seal of Command, since I happened to have a point left over.

The new Aura Mastery is the key here. I can use it to add damage to an encounter. If a boss flurries, pop Aura Mastery for increased Retribution Aura feedback damage during that time so he kills himself quicker. If a boss has a silence, which will prevent use of Judgement, Aura Mastery will break it. I can still use Divine Shield + Hand of Sacrifice on the tank for my Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian effect, it just won't be group-wide. Plus, Healing Light will make those Art of War flashes I do that much better. Unyielding Faith is always a nice little bonus too, I hate getting feared.

Still waiting on some official patch notes, but I think that sounds like a good plan to me.

Tools of the Trade: Protecting Your Allies

This is a reminder to all paladins. In the wake of all the fire and brimstone caused by the PTR changes, the forced specialization caused by upper-tier-heavy talent trees, and the loss of supposed hybridity and flexibility amongst several hybrid classes, I want to point to a few things that all ret paladins can do that aren't just "killing the boss faster." How can you protect your fellow raider/groupmate? What abilities can a ret paladin use that make him more than just a warrior with heals or a glorified buff bot?

Hand of Protection
You've had it forever, you just forget to use it. Zealous clothie got aggro? Tree has adds making a bee-line for her? Ele shaman just doesn't know when to stop using Chain Lightning and pulling non-primary targets off the tanks? HoP 'em. HoP 'em good. They'll get 6 seconds of "can't touch this!" physical immunity and a big ol' honking "TONE DOWN YOUR AGGRO" sign over their head, to boot.

Hand of Salvation
Here's a situation. You're watching Omen and see that warlock friend of yours climbing higher and higher on the threat meter. He just overtook the tank's threat total and in a matter of moments he'll be hitting that 130% threshhold where the boss stops beating on the plated guy with a shield and decides that robe-wearers with an affinity for immolation and desecration sounds tastier. You know that he can't Soulshatter, he did that just a short while ago. You are his salvation. Literally. A quick Hand of Salvation buys the tank a minute to crank his threat up or the warlock to throttle it back. Crisis avoided before it starts. They say preventitive medicine is the best kind - so is preventitive aggro reduction.

Hand of Sacrifice
So this boss, he tends to hit things really hard. Sometimes, he hits so hard that the tank gets really, really low. The big bad thing (BBT) this boss does happens on a timer - you know when it's coming. Sometimes the boss might even emote a few seconds before the BBT happens. You can help cushion the blow with some pre-planning. Hand of Sacrifice on the tank before the BBT happens, and 30% of the damage gets transferred to you. Usually, this will be non-fatal. If it would be fatal, you can always Divine Shield as you HoSac the tank and then the damage just fizzles.

Lay on Hands
A ret paladin in a 25-man WoW 3.0 raid has somewhere between 20k and 25k life. That means Lay on Hands is an instant, mana-free 20-25k heal on whomever you like. Oh no! Tank is low and healer just got silenced/incapacitated! BOOM, LoH. Tank saved, wipe averted. What if the healer has everything under control but is running low on mana? That tree has drank a mana potion, Innervated, AND has had Replenishment the entire fight, but still is about to go OOM. Lay on Hands can help there too! LoH the druid and she gets free mana! What a great guy you are, giving a bit of mana to a tree in need.

Hammer of Justice / Repentance
These nifty spells aren't just PvP tools. You can stun things in 5-mans, preventing them from chasing your healer if they're loose, or Repentance them and take the mob out of the fight for a full minute. In a raid, Hammer of Justice can't stun most things, but gorramit it can still interrupt spells. Yea, sure, it's a minute cooldown, but if the rogue that's assigned to kick stuff has his finger up his nose, you can still contribute. Kel'Thuzad is casting a frostbolt and the tank is really low and the healers are distracted! HAMMER TIME! Frostbolt interrupted, tank alive.

Sacred Shield
It may not be terribly powerful for a retribution paladin, but it will absorb damage, and damage absorbed is damage that doesn't need to be healed. If you're not running with a holy paladin healer, you can throw this on the tank periodically and make the healer's job that much easier. Or, if you're in a fight with a lot of periodic raid damage, you can throw this on yourself and cushion the blow, which is usually a great thing since Seal of Blood/Martyr recoil is dangerous in fights like that.
EDIT: According to Zach Yonzon of WoW Insider, Sheath of Light will affect Sacred Shield after patch 3.1. So, hooray! This ability just got uber-useful.

Art of War'ed Flash of Light
Every time you crit with a Judgement or Divine Storm, Art of War procs. Which means just about every time you crit with a special, you can throw an instant heal. Flash of Light doesn't cost a ton of mana. The Flash of Light has an excellent chance of critting, owing to a good amount of crit rating increases on ret gear, and especially if you managed to Sacred Shield the target earlier. Add in that Sheath of Light will leave a heal over time on the target if the FoL does indeed crit, and you have an instant, sizable amount of healing that you can contribute for the cost of a global cooldown.

Hand of Reckoning / Righteous Defense
When all else fails, if you're running out of tricks and there are still things chasing your healer, you can taunt stuff and let them try to kill a plate wearer instead of a cloth wearer. It may earn you an early demise, but it might buy your tanks and healers time to get their shiznit together and take control of the situation. It's a last resort, but it can give the tank a few precious seconds to come to the rescue.

There are other creative ways to use these and other abilities. This is just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. Some banks have Know Your Customer (KYC) policies to prevent check fraud - well, consider this my personal message to all paladins to KYA - Know Your Abilities. If you're a paladin who is leveling currently, read the spell description of each spell as you get it, and think about how it might be useful. If you're all ready level 80, go through your spellbook and action bars and reevaluate each of your skills and their placement/position on your action bars. If an ability is unreachable because of your bindings and you can use it, re-bind. If you have an ability that is not on your action bars but you can think of a situation in which it would be useful, find space.

Always remember, you have tools at your disposal besides hit the mob, hurt the mob, and hit the mob harder. You're a paladin, gorramit! Act like one! Protect your party.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Best-In-Slot v3.0: Gear of the Heroic Raider

The following is a slot-by-slot listing of the best gear available to a retribution paladin as of patch 3.0.8, limited to plate armor. This gear set has been discussed to death by people on EJ, and was compiled for Maintankadin by Questioner.

Head: Obsidian Greathelm
Enhancements - Arcanum of Torment, Relentless Earthsiege Diamond, Enchanted Tear

Neck: Favor of the Dragon Queen
Enhancements - Bold Scarlet Ruby

Shoulders: Valorous Redemption Shoulderplates
Enhancements - Greater Inscription of the Axe, Bold Scarlet Ruby

Back: Drape of the Deadly Foe
Enhancements - Major Agility

Chest: Valorous Redemption Chestpiece
Enhancements - Powerful Stats, Bold Scarlet Ruby x2

Wrist: Bracers of Unrelenting Attack
Enhancements - Greater Assault, Bold Scarlet Ruby

Hands: Valorous Redemption Gauntlets
Enhancements - Crusher, Bold Scarlet Ruby

Waist: Girdle of Razuvious
Enhancements - Eternal Belt Buckle, Bold Scarlet Ruby

Legs: Valorous Redemption Legplates
Enhancements - Icescale Leg Armor, Bold Scarlet Ruby x2

Feet: Iron-Spring Jumpers / Melancholy Sabatons (depending on raid buffs)
Enhancements - Greater Assault

Fingers: Ruthlessness & Surge Needle Ring

Trinkets: Darkmoon Card: Greatness & Fury of the Five Flights / Mirror of Truth

Weapon: Betrayer of Humanity
Enhancements - Berserking

Libram: Deadly Gladiator's Libram of Fortitude

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mr Moneybags: Ret Gear Options for the Rich & Famous

Are you inundated with gold? Is retribution not your main spec? Have you finished all the quests in Northrend all ready?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions and want to put together a retribution gear set, have I got a deal for you!

The following is a compilation of gear from Wowhead - all the gear referenced is from one of several sources:

  1. The Auction House
  2. Vendors
  3. Professions (not including profession-specific crafts); or
  4. Reputation
The list will go slot-by-slot and detail 1-3 options available. Remember, these are your "expensive" options, throwing cost and caution to the wind. My previous post detailed the economy stuff that you can grab on the cheap or from quests if you want to spring for something a bit more economical or have quests yet to complete. By taking from both lists, you can work yourself up a nice set of gear without ever entering an instance. If you stick to the one below, however, you may be able to put together a set without even leaving the comforts of Ironforge/Orgrimmar. Or at least without getting your hands all dirty with undead parts, blood, guts, and gore.

The following items are listed from most powerful to least powerful as according to Josh's gut instinct and relative item level from Wowhead, in the following format. Also, please note - some reputation items are listed, so if you do not have the appropriate rep with the noted faction, you may have to kill a few things to acquire that piece of gear. I included them for the sole reason that some of you fine readers are likely throwing a make-shift off-set together and might have the appropriate rep for the character anyway. Those items are ranked down their equipment slot lists, however, since I don't know whether you have the rep or not. Without further ado:

Equipment Slot
Item - Source
Item - Source


Head
Spiked Titansteel Helm - Blacksmithing

Neck
Titanium Impact Choker - Jewelcrafting

Shoulders
Savage Saronite Pauldrons - Blacksmithing
Spaulders of the Giant Lords - Reputation (Revered, Sons of Hodir)
Gold Star Spaulders - Reputation (Revered, Oracles)

Back
Cloak of Bloodied Waters - BoE (Auction House)
Ice Striker's Cloak - Leatherworking

Chest
Savage Saronite Hauberk - Blacksmithing

Wrist
Wristbands of the Sentinel Huntress - BoE (Emblems of Valor. Buy them from a raider!)
Vengeance Bindings - Blacksmithing

Hands
Zeliek's Gauntlets - BoE (Auction House)
Savage Saronite Gauntlets - Blacksmithing

Waist
Savage Saronite Waistguard - Blacksmithing

Legs
Savage Saronite Legplates - Blacksmithing
Legplates of Bloody Reprisal - Reputation (Exalted, Wyrmrest Accord)

Feet
Iron-Spring Jumpers - BoE (Auction House)
Death-Inured Sabatons - Reputation (Exalted, Knights of the Ebon Blade)
Spiked Titansteel Treads - Blacksmithing

Ring
Surge Needle Ring - BoE (Auction House)
Ring of the Kirin Tor - Vendor (Dalaran)
Titanium Impact Band - Jewelcrafting

Trinket
Darkmoon Card: Greatness - BoE (Nobles Deck)
Darkmoon Card: Death - BoE (Undeath Deck)
Darkmoon Card: Berserker! - BoE (Chaos Deck)

Weapon
Titansteel Destroyer - Blacksmithing
Runeblade of Demonstrable Power - Reputation (Revered, Knights of the Ebon Blade)
Argent Skeleton Crusher - Reputation (Revered, Argent Crusade)

Libram
None available unless you quest, raid, instance, or PvP!

Beginner Gear at 80: Non-instanced Gear Rewards

Everyone starts somewhere. Whether your paladin is a re-roll, a fresh start, or simply just has been sitting around for a while, once it gets to level 80 it will need some gear to use. If retribution is your game, I can point you to some gear that will get you by until you feel you're ready for instances. The following is a compilation of gear from Wowhead - all the gear referenced is from one of several sources:


  1. Non-instance quests
  2. Professions (using no "expensive" materials like Frozen Orbs); or
  3. Reputation
The list will go slot-by-slot and detail 2-4 options available. Remember, these are your "economy" options. My next post details the more expensive stuff you can have crafted or buy from the auction house if you want to spring for something a bit more shiny. By taking from both lists, you can work yourself up a nice set of gear without ever entering an instance.

The following items are listed from most powerful to least powerful as according to Josh's gut instinct and relative item level from Wowhead, in the following format:

Equipment Slot
Item - Source
Item - Source


Head
Helm of Command - Blacksmithing
Fang Deflecting Faceguard - Reputation (Revered, Argent Crusade)
Helm of Towering Rage - Quest (Reclamation, Sholazar Basin)

Neck
The Severed Noose of Westwind - Quest (The Admiral Revealed, Icecrown)
Choker of the Betrayer - Quest (Betrayal, Zul'Drak)
Jade Dagger Pendant - Jewelcrafting

Shoulders
Spaulders of the Giant Lords - Reputation (Revered, Sons of Hodir)
Gold Star Spaulders - Reputation (Revered, The Oracles)
Savage Saronite Pauldrons - Blacksmithing

Back
Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions - Reputation (Honored, Wyrmrest Accord) (Yes, it's a tanking cloak. It's got strength and hit.)
Illskar's Greatcloak - Quest (Revenge for the Vargul, Icecrown)
Cloak of the Deadliest Game - Quest (Post-partum Aggression, Sholazar Basin)
Cloak of Holy Extermination - Reputation (Honored, Argent Crusade)

Chest
Blackened Brestplate of the Vault - Quest (Shadow Vault Decree, Icecrown)
Battleplate of Unheard Ovation - Quest (Battle at Valhalas: Final Challenge, Icecrown)
Whalebone Carapace - Reputation (Honored, Kalu'ak)
Links of the Terrified Deity - Quest (Convocation at Zol'heb, Zul'Drak)

Wrist
Vengeance Bindings - Blacksmithing
Battlescar Spirebands - Quest (Not-So-Honorable Combat, Icecrown)
Savage Saronite Bracers - Blacksmithing

Hands
Astrid's Riding Gloves - Quest (Making a Harness, Storm Peaks)
Savage Saronite Gauntlets - Blacksmithing
Gauntlets of Vigilance - Quest (The Reckoning, Storm Peaks)

Waist
Thorim's Grasp - Quest (The Earthen Oath, Storm Peaks)
Savage Saronite Waistguard - Blacksmithing
Stability Girdle - Quest (The Stone That Started a Revolution, Icecrown)

Legs
Coldblooded Legplates - Quest (Emergency Measures (H) / Fervor of the Frostborn (A), Storm Peaks)
Plated Legs of the Unholy - Quest (The Rider of the Unholy, Icecrown)
Savage Saronite Legplates - Blacksmithing

Feet
The Darkspear's Iron Walkers - Quest (Mind Tricks, Icecrown)
Icewalker's Spikes - Quest (Establishing Superiority (H) / Securing the Perimeter (A), Icecrown)
Rockshaper Stompers - Quest (Valduran the Stormborn, Storm Peaks)

Ring
Ring of Scarlet Shadows - Jewelcrafting
Signet of Bridenbrad - Quest (Light Within The Darkness, Icecrown)
Jagged Ice Band - Quest (Forging the Keystone (H) / The Brothers Bronzebeard (A), Storm Peaks)
Frog-Toe Band - Quest (Basic Chemistry, Icecrown)

Trinket
Chuchu's Tiny Box of Horrors - Quest (The Shadow Vault, Icecrown)
Crusader's Locket - Quest (Defending the Vanguard, Icecrown)
Fezzik's Pocketwatch - Quest (The Last Line of Defense, Icecrown)
Horn of Argent Fury - Quest (That's What Friends Are For…, Zul'Drak)

Weapon
Runeblade of Demonstrable Power - Reputation (Revered, Knights of the Ebon Blade)
Argent Skeleton Crusher - Reputation (Revered, Argent Crusade)
De-Raged Waraxe - Quest (The Champion of Anguish, Zul'Drak)
Whale-Stick Harpoon - Reputation (Revered, Kalu'ak)

Libram
Venture Co. Libram of Retribution - Venture Coins Turn-in (Grizzly Hills)
Libram of Furious Blows - Quest (Return My Remains (H) / Get Me Outta Here! (A), Borean Tundra)

Engineering Tinkers

According to MMO Champion, the latest PTR build (9684) will include some buffs to a few of my favorite engineering tinkers.

Engineering
  • Nitro Boosts now Permanently attaches overpowered nitro boosts to a pair of
    boots, increasing critical strike rating by 16 (up from 12) and allowing you to
    greatly increase run speed for 2 sec.
  • Flexweave Underlay now Permanently attaches a flexweave underlay to a cloak,
    increasing Agility by 15 (up from 10) and allowing you to turn the cloak into a
    parachute to fall slowly for 10 sec.
  • Springy Arachnoweave now Permanently attaches a springy arachnoweave to a cloak, increasing spell power by 18 (up from 11) and allowing you to turn the
    cloak into a parachute to fall slowly for 10 sec.
I'm very happy that they're adding stat buffs to the fun and situationally useful engineering tinkers we all (read: engineers) know and love, but I have a question that is nagging at me. Why are the engineering tinkers less powerful than the enchanting equivalents for that slot?

My original thought was simply "hey, the tinkers give a cooldown benefit, so it's okay that they're not as powerful stats-wise." But then I got thinking that engineers don't have a profession-based benefit otherwise.

Blacksmiths get extra sockets.
Jewelcrafters get prismatic gems.
Enchanters get ring enchants.
Scribes get more powerful shoulder enchants.
Engineers get highly situational cooldowns but they can't use enchanting enhancements.

Why do engineers have a "but" clause attached to their benefit?

I'm not seeing the problem that would arise if the Flexweave Underlay granted 22 agility and the parachute cloak mechanic. It's not like the engineer is getting much in the way of stat benefits from their profession, might as well keep his stats on par with everyone else and let him enjoy his cooldown!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Upcoming Posts

Since I've neglected to do so and I've been asked by several people regarding this topic, I will be creating the following gear guides for your general consumption:

1. Beginner Gear at 80 - Non-instanced gear rewards
This post will lay out the gear to aim for from reputation, quests, world drop BoE's and craftables and prep an aspiring ret paladin in the best gear he can find outside of any instances. Expensive BoE's (such as iLvl 213 stuff from heroic Naxx, BoE badge rewards, DMC: Greatness) will not be included.

2. iLevel 200 Gear - Getting your "epic" on
This post will lay out the gear to aim for once you have access to 5-man heroics /10-man normal raids.

3. Best-in-slot v3.0 - Conqueror of Naxxramas
This post will lay out the "best in slot" gear to aim for once you can clear the raid content in the game as of WoW 3.0. Ulduar and 3.1 gear will not be included.

4. BoE's, Crafts, and Collectables - Gearing with an infinite budget
This post will kit out your paladin in the best gear you can get without setting foot outside of town, for those that eschew reputation/instance/quest grinding and need their gear ASAP with no mind to the price tag. Contingency items from reputation rewards will be included as alternate options for those that have their reps up already.

One thing I couldn't find a place for is normal (non-heroic) 5-man gear. I wanted to keep the beginner gear guide devoid of instance drops for the true solo player and the drops in normal 5-mans don't fit in any of the other guides. I can't think of anything in normal 5-mans that truly should be included in the thought process.

UPDATE: Thoughts On Going Berserk

I threw together a Naxx-25 PUG last night. We started with the Spider Wing. Anub'Rehkan went down simply, Faerlina was a mess but a one-shot, and Maexxna was seamless. I was pretty impressed by the PUG's ability through the end of the spider wing.

Maexxna also decided to grace my raid with a Jawbone, for which I promptly won the roll. So, about that decision I had regarding re-enchanting my Death's Bite... that's not happening. I have a Jawbone with Berserking, I'm throwing the Death's Bite in the bank.

After Spider was cleared, I lead the raid through most of the Construct Wing. Our healers lost their heal buttons for a few minutes on Patchwerk, but the third time was the charm. We also took Gluth to the brink - the DPS were terrible at killing zombies and Gluth ate a few, stretching the fight length. He hit his enrage timer, but Shield Wall for the last 5-10% of Gluth's health cemented the kill.

I called the raid after Gluth since it was late. I'm going to muster the troops on Friday night and try to finish out.

EDIT: Oh, and apparently I have to moderate some forum now. I don't know if this is a compliment or punishment (just kidding Aergis!).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Getting The Token Shaft

I just realized something. To my knowledge, normal Ulduar (10-man) will reward raiders with Emblems of Valor for boss kills. Emblems of Valor can be exchanged for ilvl 213 items at vendors.

However, the loot in normal Ulduar will be ilvl 219, and the end boss (or bosses) will yield ilvl 232 loot.

The token-exchange loot they will have access to will not be equal to the boss-drop loot they will obtain.

On the 25-man side of things, a new token will be found on heroic boss corpses: Emblems of Conquest. The bosses will drop ilvl 232/239 loot, and these tokens, which will be exchangeable for ilvl 226 loot.

Can't wrap your head around it? Here, let's tabulate the data:

Normal Ulduar
Token rewards = ilvl 213
Boss drops = ilvl 219
End boss drops = ilvl 232

Heroic Ulduar
Token rewards = ilvl 226
Boss drops = ilvl 232
End boss drops = ilvl 239

So, all loot from tokens will be lower quality than the loot obtainable in the associated Ulduar raid instance. This is in contrast to the current rewards in Naxxramas, where you can get items from Emblems of Heroism/Valor that are equal in ilvl to the drops in the associated instance(s). The loot that Patchwerk in normal Naxxramas drops is equal quality to the loot you can buy from the Emblem of Heroism vendor, for example.

They done nerfed our epics. Sorta.

Thoughts On Going Berserk

My current weapon is Death's Bite. It is a two-handed axe with a 554-831 damage range and a 3.4 speed, translating to a 203.7 DPS rating. It is acquired from Kel'Thuzad in normal Naxxramas. Short of 25-man raid drops, it is the best weapon that is readily available to me.

When I first acquired this axe, I did not have much in the way of enchanting materials, and it was fairly early in WotLK life, so Abyss Crystals were expensive and hard to come by. Thinking that I'd be fiscally responsible and that I'd be able to upgrade to a 25-man drop in the near future, I sprung for a Greater Savagery enchant on my weapon rather than Massacre or Berserking. Months later, however, I am still using Death's Bite with a Greater Savagery enchant.

There are only two weapons currently on the live servers with which I'd consider replacing Death's Bite - The Jawbone and Betrayer of Humanity. The former is slightly better than Death's Bite due to its higher damage range, and the latter is head-and-shoulders better than every two-hander in the game. Both drop in heroic Naxxramas.

To date, I have killed Maexxna and Kel'Thuzad on heroic once each. I am unsure how many times I will kill them in the future, making my access to these weapons questionable.

The weapon equation must also account for the imminent arrival of patch 3.1 in the next month or two. This patch will bring the Ulduar raid instance, and with it, additional weapons to consider. The weapons of normal Ulduar promise to be even higher quality than those of heroic Naxxramas (Ulduar normal items = ilvl 219/232, Naxxramas heroic items = ilvl 213/226). MMO Champion brings tidings of weapons such as Ironsoul and Stormedge, which are both clear upgrades to either Death's Bite or The Jawbone, and which are slightly below Betrayer of Humanity.

This whole conversation distills down to one question. Given my level of access to heroic Naxxramas and the uncertain release date of Ulduar, should I enchant my Death's Bite with Berserking? I have gone out of my way to make sure my gear is in tip-top shape on all accounts (within the realm of possibility given my raid schedule) with the exception of my weapon enchant. Money isn't a huge concern - I still haven't fully finished questing in Sholazar Basin or Zul'Drak, and I'm a miner so I can farm up some ore to sell. The question is entirely about whether the enchant is worth it for the perceived amount of time I'd be using the weapon.

I've embedded a poll in the sidebar - register your opinion.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Done


See that? That's what a completed Glory of the Raider achievement looks like.


See that? That's what a really ugly proto-drake looks like.

Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's... ugh, what the hell is that?

-------------------------------

Tonight, I finished off my Glory of the Raider achievement with a 6-minute Malygos kill. A lot of my guildmates were all ready saved to Malygos-10, so I scrounged up a rag-tag group amongst the top 3 guilds on Malfurion Alliance-side. The group in the end up looking like this. It was more melee-heavy than I generally like for Malygos, and some of the group members would have been better off as different specs all buffs considered, but these guys know what they're doing, so I was confident enough.

After a quick explanation on how we would execute, we dove right in. The holy paladin we started with had to go after a few failed attempts, so our shadow priest swapped to holy and we brought in a boomkin. First shot with that group comp, we took phase 1 down in a blink, only allowing 1 vortex.

Here's what you do: have your DK watch the skies for the origination point of the first spark and call out its cardinal direction. After the first vortex, everyone but the tank moves toward that cardinal direction, and the tank goes the opposite way. For example, if the first spark is in the southwest, the tank goes northeast and faces Malygos that direction, and everyone else moves southwest and stacks on his tail. Heroism is blown, the first spark is killed. The DK then Death Grip's the next spark on top of the kill zone of the first spark. It gets killed as well, so now you've got Heroism and a double spark going. Pop your other DPS cooldowns and tear Malygos a new a$$. If he doesn't go down before he takes off for his second vortex, make sure you at least push him under 50% and keep DPS'ing so that phase 3 is shorter.

From there on out, it was just a matter of focusing fire and not messing up in phase 3. We let the 2 healers keep on healing in phase 3, moved left after every static field, and kept up our 1-1-2 rotations.

Easy peasy.

Now I may lord over the Dalaran landing pad on an ugly ugly mount! Woohoo! At least it flies fast.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sarth-10 3D - How It Got Done

Stoico asked in comments regarding my Twilight Zone kill:

Im curious, what tac did you use ? dont kill whelps at first drake ? And how about the adds from the other 2 ? And lastly what was your setup.

Im very curious to those questions. As we are heading back in there tomorrow night. For the 3rd time. And we are all very eager to get it down... :)

Let me break it down for you.

First, the raid composition was like this. The unholy DK was the Sarth tank, the prot warrior was the drake tank, and the prot paladin (me!) was the whelp/add tank. For healing, the disc priest took care of the DK and the holy paladin Beacon'ed the DK and kept both the prot warrior and prot paladin up. Once Twilight Torment kicked in, the boomkin and ele shaman took turns helping on raid heals.

As for tactics - our DPS was fairly high, so we were able to take Tenebron down with only one whelp spawn *without using Heroism.* I went around gathering flame adds, then parked myself in front of the portal and waited for the whelps, snagging them in my Consecrate immediately upon their arrival. Once I had a firm hold on them, I dragged my mass of baddies to Tenebron's a$$ and waited. When Tenebron died, the AoE nuked the crap out of the whelps and then turned to Shadron. Somewhere in there the hunter Misdirect'ed Tenebron to the prot warrior for additional threat and then got one of the other drakes to her with Misdirect as well.

After that, I went around picking up flame adds and killing 'em myself with some super-happy-fun-time shield slamming. The rest of the raid blew Heroism and took Shadron down, and then chipped away at Vesperon, being careful not to kill themselves. Once Vesperon was down, everyone but the DK, the two pure healers, and myself went into the portal to take out the acolytes. I HoP'ed the disc priest just to be safe (she got zerged down by random flames the last time we got that far, I was taking no chances) and stood on top of her, Consecrating and killing flames. Once the acolytes were down, cruise control to win. I started having aggro fights with the prot warrior on flame adds while everyone caught their breath and took chunks out of Sarth.

Other logistical notes - I put raid icons on myself and the holy paladin so we could find each other. Oftentimes the holy pally was the one with adds on him, so he would run them to my Consecrate.

For blessings in this group with a holy & prot, both having Kings and the holy having improved Wisdom, we did the following:
Warrior - Sanctuary and Kings
Death Knight - Sanctuary and Kings
Paladin - Sanctuary and Kings (10 minute Wisdom on holy from prot)
Priest - Kings and Wisdom
Druid - Kings and Wisdom
Shaman - Kings and Wisdom
Mage - Kings and Wisdom
Hunter - Kings and Might

I judged Light on whelps/adds to help heal myself a little. Not sure what the holy was judging. Auras were Improved Devo from me, and Fire from the holy.

Any other questions? I'll add additional stuff to this post to address anything anyone might want to know.

Peering Into the 8-Ball - Divining My Gear Upgrades

With Sarth-10 3D now conquered and a Malygos-10 6-minute kill imminent, my Glory of the Raider achievement is nearly in the bag. What next? Max out my gear, of course!

Based on my current gear set, I have a few areas to improve. First and foremost, I plan on grabbing Valorous shoulders to replace my Heroes' shoulders. That's just a matter of saving up Badges of Valor to buy a shoulder token. After that, however, things get murky because of my lack of access to 25-man loot.

Here's a list of stuff that I'm wearing, other than shoulders, that I'd like to replace:

Finding upgrades for these is going to be difficult. For my helm, I'd need to kill Sartharion-25 3D and get the helm that drops there. That's probably not happening unless 2 of the 3 raiding paladins in my guild decide not to show up on a Sunday night and the guild just so happens to be doing Sarth-3D that night. As the magic 8-Ball would say, "Outlook not so good."

For the belt, I'd be after Girdle of Razuvious. Razuvious is killable by PUGs, so I might be able to luck out with that. Let's shake up that 8-Ball again - "Signs point to yes."

Looking at my boots, some might argue that Iron-Spring Jumpers are best in slot. Others feel the Melancholy Sabatons from Malygos-25 are. I usually go with pure ilvl when there's any question, and the Malygos boots are higher. But, that would require a Malygos-25 kill, another thing I have not achieved. It's more likely than a Sarth-3D kill though, since it just requires killing Malygos, not killing him all special-like. "Reply hazy, try again."

Loatheb's Shadow is a great trinket. Fury of the Five Flights and Darkmoon Card: Greatness are better. FotFF requires an OS-25 kill and then beating the hordes of physical DPS that want it out on the roll. DMC: G requires me farming gold. Neither are likely. "My sources say no."

Replacing my weapon is a matter of doing more Naxx-25. I'd be looking to grab either The Jawbone from Maexxna or the Betrayer of Humanity from Kel'Thuzad. I think I can kill Maexxna again and snag a Jawbone. "As I see it, yes."

Finally, my libram. The upgrade choices are the Deadly libram, which I don't PvP enough to get, or the Naxx-25 libram, which I haven't seen drop. I guess it's just a matter of running Naxx-25 some more. "Outlook good."

/cracks knuckles
Looks like I've got some work to do.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Something Wicked > Sarth-10 3D


I was too pumped with adrenaline to screenshot when the deed was done, so, this will have to do.

16 down, 1 to go. I needs me some 6-minute Malygos.

I was protection for Sarth3D, as before. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think that the whelp tank is probably the most stressful job in the raid. In addition, from about 30% on the 2nd drake to the end, we were down a DPS (dude ate a void zone, I think). So it took extra long.

Toward the end, when it was just Sartharion up, I think I took my hands off my keys to make sure I didn't taunt Sarth accidently and end up wiping us out.

Now that I've got The Twilight Zone all wrapped up, I'm back to retribution. With my loot party in Naxx-25 last week, I've got some pretty suh-weet ret gear now too. Take a gander:

Another Naxx-25 run or two and I'll have new shoulders, letting me exchange ugly shoulders for ugly, puke-y shoulders. I can't wait.

I'm still a bit in shock from that Sarth kill... that sh*t is intense. I'm glad I got it done, though. And very glad to be back in my ret gear.

Once I get that Malygos 6-minute kill, which I know will be cake compared to that Sarth3D BS, I'll have a wonderful screenie of me on my diseased, broke-a$$ proto-drake. Funfunfun.

Until next time, Light be with you. It sure as hell was with me today.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ret For A Day

Taking a page once again out of Meg's playbook, I present to you another song parody. This time, instead of cutting myself, we're channeling Green Day...

To the tune of "King For A Day" by Green Day

"Ret For A Day"
Started back in Molten Core
My pally got a legendary score
Went scrounging materials for
The most bad-ass mace you ever saw

Big hits and crits and DPS kits
Weren't meant for only rogues
Grab that mace and smash some face
We're making room for the one and only

Chorus:
Ret for a day! Respecced by dawn
Ret for a day! Swapping after this song
Ret for a day! Respecced by dawn
Just wait til all the noobs get a load of me

My guildie threw me in therapy
He thinks I'm not a real DPS
Who put the pal in the paladin
Don't think I'll heal your group

Chorus

Big hits and crits and DPS kits
Weren't meant for only rogues
Grab that mace and smash some face
We're making room for the one and only

Chorus x2

Inspired by this Maintankadin thread and my recent stints as protection. After I read that forum thread I couldn't get the Green Day song out of my farking head. So I wrote this.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Impatient

[chanting]

Dual specs! Dual specs! Dual specs! Dual specs!

Everybody!

DUAL SPECS! DUAL SPECS! DUAL SPECS!

... if you can't tell, I want dual specs and I want them now.

I've been prot for something like 2 weeks now due to a lack of tanks that want to do anything that I want to do whenever I log in. I hate logging out as prot. It makes me feel untrue to myself.

My ret set is looking spiffy, though. After that undermanned Naxx, I'm pretty happy with where my gear is. Another few 25-man runs and I can grab some valorous shoulders, and then I'll be rid of all my 10-man set pieces.

Still no headway made on the rest of those last two Glory of the Raider achievements. I spent probably close to 3-4 hours working on The Twilight Zone but I'm not as good of a tank as I am a ret paladin - half of all wipes were due to mistakes I made, taunts I missed, or Consecrations I misplaced. The other half were a combination of mistimed cooldown usage on the Sarth tank. I'm convinced that the whelp tank is the hardest job on that encounter. As for the You Don't Have An Eternity achievement, I might be doing it tonight, but I'm not optimistic being able to get a good group together. Probably for the best, I have a paper to write anyway.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wait, You Want Me To Do What?

Due to inclement weather in the southeastern United States on Sunday night, the 20-man Naxxramas that was planned turned into a 19-man. We started on the Death Knight quarter, cleared up to Four Horsemen, and then *poof*, one of the raid members lost power and was stuck sitting in the dark. No biggie, right? Anything you can do with 20 you can do with 19.

The disconnected member was the main tank.

When it was determined that he wasn't coming back online, I had a mini-panic attack in my head, since I was the only other tank-specced member of the raid. I had just been upgraded from first off-tank to main tank, which is a whole different ballgame when it comes to Naxxramas.

I've never kited Anub'Rehkan during Carrion Swarm!
I've never dragged Grobbulus around the room!
I've never timed my cooldowns for Maexxna's enrage!
I've never tanked Grand Widow Faerlina!
I've never main-tanked Patchwerk or Loatheb!

Yea, you can cross "never" off of all of those. Talk about a trial by fire.

Here's what happened in my head:
"So, yea, uh, Cathmor? I know this is your first clear of Naxx-25, and you're still in mostly 10-man tanking gear, and you've never main-tanked the entire instance on either raid difficulty, but, um, you're going to have to go ahead and be the man from here on out. Good luck! You're going to need it..."

I've been part of a tanking duo in Naxx-10, so I knew all the fights generally from a tank perspective, I've just never been in the driver's seat for some, and I'd never set foot in Naxx-25 as protection spec aside from a few wipes to Patchwerk as part of an ill-fated PUG I constructed.

Final result? 7 epics ninja'ed (not really, I paid DKP for them) - mostly tanking upgrades, enough Valor tokens acquired to buy Valorous legs, and everything but Thaddius, Sapphiron, and Kel'Thuzad was killed. We ran out of time, otherwise we would have cleared the entire thing.

Missing 6 people, mostly DPS, with various relatively undergeared alts mixed in to the raid really puts a dent in overal raid damage output - we got hosed by the enrage timer on Thaddius at the end of the night despite no one dying.

However, hooray for tons of gear upgrades! I now have 4 pieces of tier 7 in my ret set, so I can give first-hand observations on the differences in skill cycles between t7 and non-t7. That is, whenever I finally spec back to retribution... which won't be tonight, since I need to finish tanking the rest of that Naxx.

Tanking is a lot more fun nowadays than it was in Burning Crusade. There's more interactivity, since there's more buttons to push. In BC, it was just Holy Shield, Judgement, Consecration, repeat, with an Avenger's Shield thrown in every once in a while. Now, I have something to push every single GCD, and even additional buttons to consider that I simply don't have the time to use. That's above and beyond positioning the boss and using defensive oh-sh*t abilities like Divine Protection or a trinket.

Speaking of oh-sh*t abilities, I want another one. Lay on Hands doesn't prevent, absorb, or avoid damage, it just heals me to full. Right now, if I anticipate trouble coming, I can either pre-emptively Divine Protection myself, or use an on-use trinket. Lay on Hands and Ardent Defender don't kick in until I'm all ready in dire straights.

Anyway, back to the daily grind. I gots work to do so that I can go to class, then eat dinner, then tank the rest of Naxx, and then sleep.