Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm not dead!

This is the third attempt at a post like this I've made. Work has changed for me recently, and left me with much less downtime, which is the primary time I update my blog. So I'm just tossing a quick update here.

Done Karazhan the last few weeks. Managed to get almost everything I want from the bosses we can currently down. Wrynn Dynasty Greaves, Moroes' Lucky Pocketwatch, and the Eternium Greathelm puts me at everything I want save the T4 helm of the bosses we can currently down. Also, this past weekend we took our first stab at Shade of Aran. 2 attempts at 10:30 at night. No win, but that's to be expected. We will attempt him more next week.

I've also started doing PvP on my mage to help out a friend in arenas. PvP is surprisingly fun if you aren't PvE specced. Who knew!? Currently a 0/27/34 spec. I like it the best of the ones I've tried so far, though it is very weird not having points in arcane.

Finally I've rolled a Blood Elf Warlock on Mal'Ganis with some friends named Kaziele. Only level 19, but I've done some PvP (for the WSG trinket) and I have to admit playing a Warlock in PvP is a blast!

Anyway, I'm off!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Guide to consumables for raiding.

I noticed this via a quick glance at WoWInsider on my way out the door this morning: Big Bear Butt Blogger has put out a call for a complete listing of every consumable a class or spec would need on a given raid night. While I am arrogant, I'm not arrogant enough to assume I know what every class or spec would want or need. So I will limit myself to merely listing what Ret and Prot Paladins would want (Holy Paladins can pretty much copy what the Egotistical Priest recommends along with adding a Greater Ward of Shielding for some additional damage absorption to hide behind).

The core difference between Protection Paladins and any other type of tank is the question, "Are you uncrushable?" Usually when a Prot Paladin either first enters Karazhan, or decides to respec, they don't have enough crush avoidance. At times like these, +AGI consumables are very useful for their additional dodge they give. In each catagory, I will list the +AGI stuff but I'll also denote it that it's for when still crushable. Otherwise, they are listed in the order of how I prioritize them.

Fisherman's Feast and/or Spicy Crawdad: Gain 30 Stamina and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
As every Prot paladin worth their salt should have the talent Sacred Duty, this translates to 310 more health. Definitely a win.

Grilled Mudfish and/or Warp Burger: Gain 20 Agility and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
If crushable, this will give you an additional 0.8% dodge.

Flask of Fortification: Increases maximum health by 500 and defense rating by 10 for 120 min. Counts as both Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
Is tonight new content night? Then it sounds like a good night for a flask. More expensive and giving less effects than four elixiris, if you expect tonight to be filled with death, then the fact that it will persist through death probably means it's worth the extra money.

Flask of Chromatic Wonder: Increases resistance to all schools of magic by 35 and all stats by 18 for 120 min. Counts as both Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
Flask of Fortification is your primary flask. Flask of Chromatic Wonder is for when you're tasked to be the tank on a resistance heavy fight like Hydross the Unstable. It doesn't give as much health, but on resistance fights, defense rating probably isn't your biggest concern, while having high resists is.

Flask of Blinding Light: Increases spell damage caused by Arcane, Holy and Nature spells by up to 80 for 120 min. Counts as both a Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
This flask is best used for really twitch threat fights, like ones with a threat reduction ability. My personal experience has shown that generating threat, even without Exorcism, is not a huge problem. As a result since I know of only one fight with a threat reduction move (Void Reaver) I think this is too much money spent (30-40g on my server) for only one fight, after you've learned it. Though it certainly would be the best option when you're finally get around to taking on Void Reaver.

Battle Elixirs:
Adept's Elixir: Increases spell damage and healing by up to 24 and increases spell critical strike rating by 24 for 60 min.
More spell damage means more threat, which means a higher threat ceiling. Higher threat ceiling means your allies can do more damage before they need to scale back.

Elixir of Mastery: Increases all stats by 15 for 60 min.
For fights where you're just being laid into and your healers are having to healbomb you to keep you standing, the Elixir of Mastery gives you that extra bit of health to help out. Of course, if the situation is that dire, you're probably better off with a Flask of Fortification...

Elixir of Major Agility: Increases your Agility by 35 and your critical strike rating by 20 for 60 min.
Again, this is used when you haven't reached uncrushable levels yet. The critical strike rating portion of it can take a long walk off a short pier for all I care, but the 35 AGI nets you an additional 1.4% dodge.

Guardian Elixirs:
Elixir of Major Defense: Increases armor by 550 for 60 min.
"550 armor? That's nothing!" you might say. While this is true, considering that by the time you get to Karazhan you should sitting at around 13,000 armor minimum. But 550 at those levels is about an additional 1% mitigation. Still doesn't sound like much, right? Well let's do the math shall we? Fully buffed I sit at around 68% total mitigation (including the 6% from Righteous Fury). Prince was hitting me for around 3,000-4,000 damage per swing. That means, prior to any mitigation, he's smacking me for 9,000-10,000. 1% means I'm taking upwards of 100 less damage per swing. Not a lot, but that's way more than, say... an Earthen Elixir.

Elixir of Major Fortitude: Increases maximum health by 250 and restores 10 health every 5 seconds for 60 min.
When you're going to be facing down a boss that does at least a middling amount of magical damage, Major Fortitude is the better option since armor is only good against physical attacks.

Scroll of Agility V: Increases the target's Agility by 20 for 30 min.
Normally AGI items are for when you're still crushable, but this one is the exception. More AGI = more armor and dodge, which is never a bad thing.

Scroll of Protection V: Inceases the target's armor by 300 for 30 min.
Same thing with the above scroll: More armor is never a bad thing.

Scroll of Strength V: Increases the target's Strength by 20 for 30 min.
This one requires a bit of explanation... physical damage, for a protection paladin, has no additional threat modifiers. Why would you worry about more physical damage? Well, until recently I didn't realize how much of my total damage was melee. Looking at WWS, around 20% of my damage done over a whole night is physical. While that's very little of my actual threat, every bit counts and if I can push my threat ceiling a little bit higher, I'll go for it!

Scroll of Stamina V and/or Scroll of Intellect V: Increases the target's Stamina/Intellect by 20 for 30 min.
These are good if you know you're not going to have a Priest and/or a Mage for your run. Unfortunately they don't stack with Power Word: Fortitude and Arcane Intellect.

Temporary Enchants:
Superior Wizard Oil: While applied to target weapon it increases spell damage by up to 42. Lasts for 30 min.
As already stated, more damage is more threat. And for additional benefit these last through death!

Greater Rune of Warding: Enchant a piece of chest armor so it has a 25% chance per hit of giving you 400 points of physical damage absorption. 90 sec. cooldown. Lasts for 1 hour.
Even if it only softens the damage of one blow every minute and a half, it's still 400 less damage that your healers need to heal.

Greater Ward of Shielding: Applies the Greater Ward of Shielding to your shield. This ward absorbs up to 4,000 points of damage before it fails.
This is a handy little temporary enchant which absorbs 4,000 points of any type of damage (physical or magical). Just be careful, since on fights where you aren't taking a lot of damage, you might run low on mana.

Minimums per night:
10 Super Health Potions
5 Super Mana Potions


Retribution Paladins:
Preface: First off, this portion assumes we're working from what my previous post said about STR/AP being the priority stats for Ret Paladins, while eschewing an emphasis on spell damage. Also, the priorities are based upon the theory that the Ret Paladin in question has 5/5 in the Holy tree talent Divine Strength. The 10% bonus to Strength should


Roasted Clefthoof: Gain 20 Strength and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
With Divine Strength, this talent gives 22 Strength, which turns into 44 attack power. A step up from Ravager Dogs.

Ravager Dog: Gain 40 attack power and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
While not as good an option as Roasted Clefthoof, when you are unable to get said food, this is a decent alternative.

Flask of Relentless Assault: Increases attack power by 120 for 120 min. Counts as both Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
Pretty self-evident. More attack power is more damage. Good for learning nights when you are lacking.

Battle Elixirs:
Elixir of Major Strength: Increases your Strength by 35 for 60 min.
With Divine Strength this gives a nice 76 attack power. Flask of Relentless Assault may still be better from a purely attack power perspective, but this allows for some flexibility in the Guardian Elixir area.

Fel Strength Elixir: Increases attack power by 90 and decreases Stamina by 10 for 60 min.
Technically, this one is better than the Elixir of Major Strenght. If you think you can live without 100 health (and I could easily see that as being a justified statement) then this is the better option.

Guardian Elixirs:
Elixir of Major Mageblood: One of the longest standing problems for Ret Paladins is that they have no reliable source of mana recovery, and will run out of mana before the fight is over. This problem hasn't fixed itself yet, so this helps out.

Scroll of Strength V: Increases the target's Strength by 20 for 30 min.
44 more attack power? Yes please!

Scroll of Agility V: Increases the target's Agility by 20 for 30 min.
While AGI won't directly contribute to your damage, it does give a small bonus to your chance to crit, which means more damage over the course of a fight.

Scroll of Stamina V and/or Scroll of Intellect V: Increases the target's Stamina/Intellect by 20 for 30 min.
These are good if you know you're not going to have a Priest and/or a Mage for your run. Unfortunately they don't stack with Power Word: Fortitude and Arcane Intellect.

Temporary Enchants:
Adamantite Sharpening Stone or Adamantite Weightstone: Increases weapon damage by 12 and critical strike rating by 14 for 30 min.
Bring the type that matches your weapon of choice.

Minimums per night:
5 Super Health Potions
15 Super Mana Potions


Well there we go. If you think I missed anything, or anything is wrong, just let me know and I'll take it into consideration.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Retribution Paladins and STR/AP vs. Spell damage

Retribution Paladins really are a unique creature. While Ret Paladins isn't the only spec to do both melee and spell casting, it's the only one that requires on a mix of both for it's DPS. While yes, Enhancement Shamans can get a boost to their DPS via casting spells like Flame Shock, it's not a part of their tree, so it's not really considered "necessary". Hell, they even changed Enhancement Shaman's T4-6 sets to not have spell damage, and have even more +STR.

So let's take a look at the average plan and damage output for a Retribution Paladin (based upon numbers gotten from WWS for my last few Karazhan runs):
  • Puller pulls.
  • Ret paladin queues up either SotC or SoC, depending on how long the mob will last.
  • Tank gets a little hate (like 5k threat).
  • Ret paladin charges in judging whatever seal he has up, then starts the SoC > JoC > SoC cycle. In between JoCs, he uses Crusader Strike, along with (if undead or demon) Exorcism.
  • If at any point the Ret Paladin runs low on mana, he will put up SoC, and merely refresh it every 25 or so seconds, while his mana regens.
  • Once the mob reaches 19% health, he begins to mix Hammer of Wrath into his spell mix.
Now, just by looking at that, it doesn't seem like melee damage accounts for much, and it's mostly magical, right? Well, according to our WWS numbers (will link later), a Ret Paladin's white damage accounts for around 35-45% of his overall damage. Now, the remaining numbers are magical damage. With over half of a Ret Paladin's damage from spells, it seems like it would be pretty easy to stack spell damage and just go that route, right?

Well, for those who've never looked at Crusader Strike and/or Seal of Command probably don't know how it works. Both take a percent of your melee damage and use it as the base component for your damage on those spells (i.e. damage for SoC = 70% of the damage from the attack that caused it). Both CS and SoC (not JoC) account for another 20-30% of the Paladin's damage.

Now, with this information in hand, it raises an interesting question: Is there a reason to go for spell damage? If you can boost your white damage while simultaneously boosting your SoC and CS damage, accounting for, at a minimum 55% of your overall damage, is there any reason to not go for max STR/AP and AGI/Crit? With the forthcoming change to CS (from a 10 second to 6 second cooldown) I expect that average damage to go up by at least 5%. By cutting out spell damage, and not casting judgements (the only spell that relies on spell damage entirely and isn't situational) a Ret Paladin can probably extend his mana pool by a lot.

At BlizzCon, they stated they intend to remove a Ret Paladin's reliance on spell damage, or at least minimize it. When I first heard this, I imagined a huge overhaul to how Ret Paladin-ing worked. Now after giving it some thought, the only thing that really needs to be changed is the source JoC's damage. If they changed it so it's similar to SoC in that it's partially based upon the damage range of the weapon, then it would be a viable option for a STR/AP build.

Though I will be the first to admit that some of the problem is that the devs really didn't put enough gear with both STR and Spell Damage in the game. Let's look at what gear, has those stats. There's a handful of quested blues and greens for the 60-70 level range, along with the Blue Lightforge non-set. This gear doesn't really hold up and should be replaced by the end of 70. Then there's the Red Lawbringer. This would be a good option to get into Karazhan with... if it weren't for the fact that almost all of it only comes from Heroics. After that, other than PvP, there's 15 pieces of armor throughout the raid dungeons (Tier sets). Maybe if there was better accessible Ret gear things might be different.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Not just "yes", but "Hell yes!"

As usual this weekends nights were dominated by Karazhan raiding fun.

I didn't go into detail last week, but we took a couple of unsuccessful attempts at Terestian Illhoof, before going onto Chess Event for easy loots. Side note: Paladin tanks would probably be best for the Illhoof fight as either imp add tank or for Terestian. Kil'rek is bad for Paladin tanking because there are long periods where we aren't getting hit, which means no mana recovery. Even chugging pots I was still dry for most of that fight.

This weekend, on Saturday we cleared up to the Opera event by 10 pm. We usually go to 11-12, but we were down a person. This is notable only because it means we can clear all the way to Curator (possibly beyond) in a single night. That means more time for working on new encounters for Sunday!

On Sunday we hopped in the backdoor and bowled over Curator like the wussy trash he is (now). He dropped
Garona's Signet Ring and the Gloves of the Fallen Champion (Paladin/Rogue/Shaman gauntlet token)! WOOO! I even rolled a 100! Double WOOO! So yes, I am now the proud owner of a pair of Justicar Handguards!

After this we pushed our way to Chess Event, spending way too much time on the library (15 minute AFK wut?). Chess event dropped healy plate and a +STR/AGI/STA neck, both of which went to our ret paladin. After which we worked our way up to Prince (decided to try Prince instead of Illhoof).

So we get up top and see Prince Malchezzar clomping around his area. So we go over the strategy, making sure to impress on everyone that a lot of the fight is luck (where the infernals land). So we go in, and on our first try we make it to 17%! The only reason we lost was that I moved and got out of range of the healers who couldn't get closer due to infernals.

The way we ended up wiping we had to release and run back. This is where the fact that we spent too much time in the library came back and hurt us: We had to reclear some of the mobs from the ground floor of the library to get back in. We got hit hard on the second try, losing 2 people in about a minute, then an infernal landed on top of someone, causing us to lose them. We called a wipe at that point.

We get up and try again, this time trying an altered position. I get in position, and the Hunter used Misdrect to pull onto me (Prince is running at hunter, hunter shoots glowy shot from her to Prince, Prince takes a sharp left running right to me... WHAT?). We were able to get him down on our third try ever, and on the first night! What's that mean: We're awesome! I did have to use LoH at the last moment, but otherwise it went great (at least for me... not sure how frantic it was for others).

The one thing I really noticed is that I'm really not well enough geared for this fight. I was staying at almost full mana the entire time. I need better armor, more block value and more avoidance. I simply need to be taking less damage, because right now I shouldn't be able to spam every ability (including Consecrate) full time and still not run out of mana, due to incoming heals.

Anyway, the Prince dropped the DPS caster cape, the Decapitator (or whatever the 1H axe you can throw is) and the Helm of the Fallen Champion. Unfortunately I didn't win the roll for it, but hey, we still got him down on our first night! WOOOOOOO!!!!!

In a few more weeks, once we are sure we can consistently get him down we'll start taking stabs at Shade of Aran (for completing the quest to get access to Nightbane). Hopefully I can get my grubby little mitts on a Justicar Faceguard soon.

EDIT: OMG super missed word from hell. Edited in red and bolded.