SoV change update

(Good) news from the PTR! Suicidal Zebra reports changes to Seal of Vengeance. I've not seen any crunched numbers but this looks a lot more promising.

In one of the PTR builds Seal of Vengeance would build dots to a stack of 5 and then start doing 33% weapon dmaage additionally as holy damage. It's changed now to start doing additional damage from dot 1, and goes up as more dots are applied.


3.2 AD Addendum

Thanks to a helpful note from Suicidal Zebra I learned that AD will work slightly differently than I had previously described. It will save your life but the Damage reduction effect will just keep working when it does. You do get a debuff but that only prevents AD saving you again within two minutes.

Thanks Zebra :)

More 3.2: Retribution

Another look at 3.2 today, this time Retribution. Retribution is my offspec so I’m following this with some interest but obviously not as in-depth as Protection. There are three major changes coming up for Ret.

Seals. Up till now retribution paladins have been using only one seal: Seal of Blood. Even in PvP, even in fights where supposedly the damage could kill you, it’s used and to great effect. Retribution is producing very decent damage. So good, in fact, that it’s quite viable for me to build an offspec set of gear and switch to Ret when I’m not needed as tank and do some damage.
This will change quite drastically in 3.2. Seal of Blood will be removed, Seal of Command and Seal of Vengeance changed. This would indicate Command has become the Retri seal again but not so. Due to interaction with other talents, even Seal of Righteousness is better than Seal of Command. Actually the new best Seal is Vengeance. On top of applying a DoT that stacks to 5 times, when that stack is at full Vengeance will deliver additional damage per swing and all that added up makes it the best choice.

At least, it did until the latest change seen on the PTR. Before, the Vengeance DoT was applied by all Paladin attacks. It was changed to only be applied by normal attack swings. Paladins favor slow two-handers making it take very very long before the stack is at full and thus reducing damage quite a lot. It also creates problems when switching targets. Possibly our DPS won’t decrease too much, but it feels like a nerf to a lot of people.

Crusader strike. Damage and cooldown decreased, to 4 seconds. This has been shown to be an increase in damage. Not much consequences, just a button you push more often.

Exorcism. Exorcism’s been on a rollercoaster ride of changes over the last patch. First, it would apply to everyone (as a way to make it work as well in Ulduar as it did in undead-dominated Naxxramas.) This was quickly changed and then it only worked on NPCs again, not on players. Now it’s being changed again. It will get a 1.5s cast time. In Retribution it will interact with the talent Art of War in the same way as flash of light, meaning Exorcism will be instant cast when Art of War is up (which is more or less all the time.) At the very least this adds something to keep in mind while using Exorcism.

It’s known the idea was to bring Retribution burst damage down while retaining a respectable amount of DPS. I think these changes are going to swing towards a nerf overall, though one that we won’t know the full extent of until we get some high-end Retri Paladins in T9 gear and see how it works out. I’m a bit gloomy about this, considering maybe going Holy for my offspec or keeping Ret but not really using it (maybe even going PvP-Prot for my offspec.) I’ve got a decently geared Rogue alt, so we’ll have to see how this one goes.


3.2! Talents and Excitement!

With the background downloader chugging away at hauling in the data for the inevitable patch 3.2 I’m having a glance at things that I’ll be changing in my spec. I’m also getting excited about some of the other new things in the new patch.

I’m at work at the moment, so I can’t link to something actually showing the talent trees, however if you are reading this I’m sure you can find me and my talents.

Divinity. Not sure how I ended up with points in this but I’m getting rid of them. Sure it helps sometimes but I’m confident my healers can handle it also without. (seems to work for warriors & DKs.)

Divine Sacrifice & Divine Guardian. They are not in my spec currently as I’m running a very MT orientated build however they may return if I have the points spare. For XT-002 and a few other places, specially in ulduar the raid-wide damage reduction is very good.

Reckoning. Will still be rubbish in 3.2 for tanks, as it does not scale well with Seal of Vengeance.

Ardent Defender. A talent I would never be without anyway is getting quite a boost and a change. The boost is in the exact mechanic. Right now AD reduces damage taken by a percentage when my health is below 35% of total. In 3.2 it will do the same but if a hit is going to bring me below that 35% the portion of incoming damage below 35% will be reduced right away. In addition AD will now be coupled with a Guardian Spirit type effect, so that if I go to 0% health it’ll save me and reset me to 30% health. However for 2 minutes after that the damage reducing effect won’t work.

Vindication. Will be changed quite a lot, from reducing certain stats to reducing a flat amount of attack power. Testing has shown this will work on everything now so will become a standard tanking talent. Due to changes for Retribution talents it’s unlikely Retribution paladins will be picking this up.

I’m very much looking forward to the new paladin mount (from the Argent Crusade) an upgraded version of the Squire (with a mount of his own!) finally getting my Argent Hippogryph and very much looking forward to the Argent Coliseum, new raids! I’ve got two weeks holiday, the beginning of September, I’m secretly hoping 3.2 will be patched in before that holiday so I can spend some quality time running heroics and building up a vast amount of Conquest badges.


Setting Goals ftw.

Setting goals for raiding is a subject that I've been turning over in my mind for quite a while now. I felt it's best to set goals and work towards them but last night I saw in action why that is.

Tuesday is not an 'official' raidnight in my guild. That means sometimes we raid (if we have a enough people not saved to somewhere.) So we got 10 people and went to Ulduar. We didn't set any goals for what we wanted to achieve. We started by attempting 3-tower hardmode on Flame Leviathan. This didn't work very well, so after a few wipes we lowered it to 2-tower and then one-shot it. we downed Razorscale and moved on to XT-002. At XT again we tried the hardmode but lacked just a tiny bit of dps to get it, so downed him on normal as well. We finished off by taking out Kologarn.

All In all it was a succesful evening, but I feel we could have done better. If we had commited to the hardmode on Flame Leviathan we would have done more attempts and I feel sure we would have got it. If the goal had been to get XT hardmode we wouldve built the raid to fit and very likely also done it.

As it happened the raid got a bit annoyed because we didn't get the 3-tower Flame Leviathan and again when we (practically) wasted time seeing if we could get hardmode on XT.

Setting goals makes it very clear what theraid is trying to do, what it is your playing for. Last night we could have downed either more bosses or gotten a tougher hardmode, instead we got a few more wipes and we didn't kill anything in a mode we hadn't already done before.

That said, I did have fun and we learned a thing or two about XT hardmode activation and got more practise on Flame Leviathan. I was on my Rogue (Paladin was saved) and got him some new items and achievements.



The darkness is complete. The absence of light is so total I have to bring my hand to my face to check if my eyes are really open. From somewhere far away I hear voices, shouting. It sounds like they are behind a locked door in a padded room, somewhere deep inside me. Muffled. I listen intently...

"Rocket! Rocket incoming! Move!" There are sounds too, of metal scraping on metal, arcane energies discharging, nature's force wrought at some unseen enemy.
"Get behind him! Get behind the middle." I know these voices, I realise. These sounds, I've heard them before, somewhere.

The battle, if that's what is, comes to an end. Joyous shouts echo in the darkness that envelops me.
"Someone resurrect Ard." Ard! That's... me! Something like a hand of light enters the darkness and blinds me mentarily and I'm yanked out of the void and back into my body. Now I realise what's happened. As I look over my comrades shoulder I see great pools of oil and blood, metal filings cling to everything with a static frenzy. The smiles of the people around me tell me what I want to know: Mimiron is dead.

My guild killed our last keeper in Ulduar 25 last night! Just General Vezax and Yogg-Saron left to go. Grats everyone!


Gearing Strategy

I'm at something of a crossroads at the moment. My gear is getting better and better (I now function more or less as the main tank for my guild.) However, I do like to hang out at theorycrafting sites. In general a tank will equip the best items they have resulting in the biggest HP, certain (required) levels of defense, and generally very high dodge and parry.

In practise high-end tanks have several sets of gear they carry around, or at least some switch-out items for specific slots (rings, trinkets usually.) As I said my gear is getting better and now I'm at the point where I might see benefits from constructing seperate sets of gear for different situations.

It's not particularly easy, I must say. Gem and enchant choices for one set may conflict with gem and enchant choices for other sets. For example, I may have a purple gem in a certain item to activate my meta gem, then get a problem if I switch that item out as the replacement may have a yellow gem, for example. Enchants are a problem too, esepcially chest and cloak enchants. For chestpieces the three main enchant choices for a tank are 22 defense, 275 health or +10 all stats. Any one of those may cause a problem, in one set I may have high defense, so actually want health or stats, whereas in another I may actually need the defense to get to the minimum of 540.

Even just maintaining one general purpose set is not so easy. When I get new items they may be upgrades but may require switching several other items to maintain defense minimum, Meta activation, hit rating etc.

In effect I'm turning the problem of getting the gear into a logistical problem of turning the various items into a set of gear. It's not easy being a tank ;)


Thorim (25) down!

A new first kill for my guild on thursday, Thorim went down on 25. We're progressing again in 25s and that feels good!

Check out Fury of Fey (in the bloglist.) It's not easy being Heroic, Fey pulls it off without changing her haircut. Eloquent and adventurous.


Drama, guild and otherwise.

If you've been in a guild, or even in a pick up group,
you've come across this phenomenon: Drama. Something goes
wrong, people get angry. It usually ends in over dramatic
shouting matches or /gquits or groups abandoned at the
worst possible moment.

In some cases it'll just be someone having a bad day,
trying to relax with a bit of adventuring, getting upset
at not even that working out the way they had imagined it.
Sometimes it'll be about loot (as discussed in one of my
other blogs). I've played warcraft for a long time now, I
think two factors are really important.

First there's (relative) anonimity. It is afterall the
internet and you might as well imagine that your fellow
players are just NPC's if one behaves in a way you don't
like you can just lash out with no further consequence.
This becomes really clear when you play with someone you
know, it sheds a different light on actions when you know
what a person is really like.

Secondly there's group dynamics. Imagine an actual group
of adventurers. A warlock, a Paladin, a Mage, a Rogue.
these personalities, these modes of thinking would clash
in a real situation. Especially when lives are on the line
and there's money to be made. There would be group
politics, fear, backstabbing - there would be drama. Think
of Warcraft, then, as a simulation of that real group; of
course there is drama.

Earlier, I was reading ferraro's Paladin blog
(http://ferarro.blogspot.com/) someone who's opinion I
respect. In his/her discussion of the recent Paladin Q&A
theres a section where 'Blizzard' says "In Lich king we've
finally embraced all three [paladin] specs."
Ferraro explaind this as if Blizzard (intentionally or
not) had something against Paladins, as if we were getting
less than others.

I think you can be as grumpy as you like about how
Blizzard run the game, fact remains they were maybe
expecting a million, maybe 2 million subscribers, instead
they got 5 million. Warcraft exploded in their faces, and
it's taken them years to deal with it and get everything
on track. The fact that it's still fun and there are still
so many people actively engaged, blogging, posting on
forums says a lot for the quality of their product and
care they lavish on it.

Sure things could be better, but couldn't they always?
Paladins have never been in a better position, I found it
the wrongest time to swipe at something you suppose people
have done.


Turtles all the way down.

I have cooking and fishing at 450. The reason for this is an achievement, or rather the reward for an achievement: the title Chef. I don't actually have that title but I've been trying real hard.

Why? well, in dutch the word chef means boss and that kind of appeals to me. It also shows I've invested quite a bit of my time in an aspect of the game which is at least a little silly :)

In an effort to speed up levelling cooking I also levelled Fishing, as it provides lots of material for cooking and the 'best' group buff food in the game, the fish feast, obviously requires fish.

What's bugging me is that 1 recipe is holding me back from achieving the chef title. The recipe for Stormchops is the only one I don't have that I need for the only achievement I don't have, which is the Outland Gourmet. The only way to obtain this recipe is by doing the Shattrath and Dalaran daily cooking quest. These quests reward a bag that has a 1% chance of containing the recipe. Well, 150 plus times completing these quests and I still don't have it.

Ah well, fishing for Fish Feasts the other day I caught a Deep sea turtle mount. It's a pretty fun thing, but a bit slow on land ;)

I do hope I get that recipe at some point though.


Useful Tanking addons.

Actually, the title of this blog is a bit misleading. Thinking about it, I don’t use any addons that are intended specifically for tanking. However the ones I use I’ve set up so they help me tank. I’ll talk about each a little bit.

Grid is basically an addon that lets you view the members of your party or raid in a small window (it is an actual grid, so in a 25 man raid it looks like a square divided into a 5x5 blocks.) I’ve got it setup so I can see each members health, mana, debuffs, range (in or out of range for spell) and dead-or-alive status. Most importantly I can see at a glance who in the raid agro. I also have a mouse-over macro for Righteous Defense so when someone who isn’t supposed to has agro I hold my mouse over that person on grid and press the button for the macro, redirecting the mobs to me. Grid isn’t easy to set up, I had to view a tutorial video on youtube but when you get it to do what you want it’s awesome.

AG let’s me change the way I view my own, my targets, and my target’s target health, mana and casting bar. Which information is displayed in the bars, where the debuffs are and where on my screen this is all displayed.

NeedToKnow allows me to track a specific buff or debuff and display on screen whether or not it is active. I track Holy Shield, Divine Plea, and various procs and cooldowns. So I can see at a glance whether my divine protection is going to run out soon.

I also use Pally Power (nothing to do with tanking) I believe that every paladin ever needs to have this. It makes casting your own blessings and coordinating with other paladins very easy. It can also manage Aura-coordination and it can cast Righteous fury and your seal of choice.

Lastly I use a few cosmetic addons, Bartender, SexyMap and MoveAnything.

All in all it doesnt add new information but it does make the information easier to deal with.


The Spoils.

One thing that has come up many, many times in Warcraft, and one that will continue to stir people is the distribution of loot. You need only look at the comments for any weapon (pretty much) on thottbot.com to see what I mean - who gets what? The recent addition of dual spec has not made this any easier. In pick-up groups on my server the most usual thing is to roll on items that are appropriate for your current role. If you are a warrior tank, you get to roll on defensive plate. If a kitty druid, agressive leather.

For, say, 90% of items this works fine. For 90% of players that works fine. Most of the loot debate comes out of the following three situations:
1. An item has stats that are good for more then one type (for example a ring that’s good for cat/bear-druids and rogues).
2. A player insists on rolling on items for both his specs.
3. A player’s opinion about either of the above differs from the person he’s rolling against.

I came across this blog a few days ago: http://hi-voltage.blogspot.com/2009/07/rune-edge-melee-or-hunter-weapon.html
The Rune Edge is a classic example of an item good for multiple classes including hunters, traditionally seen as the class that seems to want everything.

Let’s look at the item. It’s a (relatively) fast two-handed sword with good DPS and high top end damage. It also has 121 Agility and 120 Stamina and provides further bonuses 86 critical strike rating, 160 attack power and 70 armor penetration rating. This makes it attractive to a lot of people: Paladins, Warriors, Death Knights and Hunters. In my guild this would not be a problem, we use a points system so whoever can use it can have a bid.

The offensive stats make it tasty for the melee classes, good damage range, decent speed, lots of crit and some armor penetration. The agility/attack power and armor penetration make it also very good for a hunter, but they (obviously) would make less use of the physical damage of the weapon. It’s a very tough call to make.

Because of the ambiguity of the item I would open it to everyone, sure the hunter won’t use the damage range, but they would improve their stats very well with this equipped. The paladin and warrior would likely be better served with a sword with strength instead of agility so it’s not optimal for them either.

My advice: look at who wants it. Compare relative upgrades. If it’s equal for a melee and a ranged class, roll. Sure it’s random but what else can you do? It’s, ironically almost, the fairest way to settle this. Try not to get upset when you lose either. I always find that when I lose on something like this, a similar or better item tends to come up pretty quick to make things right. Realise as well that the other guy would have felt the same had you won it.

In the end it's not just an upgrade for you alone, it's an upgrade for the raid/guild. You benefit too, if indirectly.

Remember: the things you own end up owning you.


The Maw of Madness

We found ourselves with Ulduar 10 cleared up to Yogg-Saron this week. Normally we don’t raid on Tuesdays but to make the most of this opportunity we scheduled an extra run last night and threw ourselves at him for a few hours.

We learned a lot, mainly that that we need more practice. The first phase is still very much hit and miss. Sometimes it’s completely controlled, other times we get overwhelmed before you can say ‘Old god’.

We reached phase two on quite a few occasions. I didn’t keep count but 5 or 6 times at least. Phase two is even more chaotic than phase one. The tentacles are many and spread out quite a bit across the room. On attempts where we had everyone alive (I think there were only two or three of those) we did pretty well killing them all and keeping the debuffs under control. Our problem seemed to be mostly in getting the right mix of people to go in the portals and getting that part accomplished and everyone out without going insane.

We did learn a lot and towards the end it felt like we did get more of a grip on phase one, at least. Movement needs to improve for the raid during phase one. Phase two we just need to see more often so we can get some experience with it and get to experiment properly with portal-team composition.

It is a really cool fight, I love the look of the boss and all his crazy abilities, I love the Lovecraft/Cthulhu theme of it. It feels like we can get it done with practice. Into the Maw! To arms!



We defeated Mimiron in Ulduar 10 for the second time last night. Like the night when we first killed him it took about 4 attempts to get everything to line up. The ways you can die in that fight... There are many. Let me count the ways.

1. Plasma Blast. Even if you are a tank you need cooldowns to save you.
2. Mines. Walk on one. Die.
3. Shock Blast. Run or Die.
4. That fiery thing he does in Phase 1. Or standing within 5. yards of anyone it lands on.
6. Not moving in the transition to phase 2 (and getting pushed onto the reamining mines)
7. Rockets! It's only 6 million damage.
8. Spinning up! Pew Pew!
9. Boom Bot!
10. Phase 4 - nearly all of the above (well, 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8)

But we killed him. And we lived. Again. We go for Vezax tonight and hopefully we'll get some serious attempts on Yogg-Saron.


Fiction: Last day of WoW

EU - Magtheridon, 22 August 2022

A bleak sun sets over the dusty plain of Durotar on this, the last, day of European World of Warcraft. A motley crew of (level 120) characters from both Alliance and Horde, of course no longer actually at war since the shocking changes in patch 9.5. share this view for the last time.

"We'll carry on on a private server, it's become so much a part of our lives now." One of the players comments. People have grown to maturity since this game was first played over 18 years ago. Almost 9 years after release of the last expansion to this game, and over 4 years since it's last patch, Blizzard has decided to call it a day for WoW and close the last remaining server in Europe.

Then, the event begins. In the distance, through the haze of the dust and sun, comes a processions, heroes and villains, great and small. Legendary and common. As they parade past the revellers several Blizzard gamemasters appear and thank everyone for their presence. they announce that the time has come. 5 server messages will herald the end of this world.

Server shutdown in 15 minutes.

"Memories of past glory, great deeds, heroic adventures, they'll stay with me forever." The sentiment is echoed by a lot of the players present. "I got married around the second expansion" one player said, "had kids when the fourth came out. My parents in law weren't too pleased with a grandson named Thrall." He laughs, as the countdown continues.

3 Minutes. I feel a sadness remembering the greatness that was once the greatest MMO on the planet, so big it skewed every statistic related to MMO's.

As the last minutes count down, players burst into dance, consume flasks and disenchant their legendary weapons.

Then, my screen goes blank and I'm exited to my login screen where a single line of text heralds the true end: "Servers are no longer available."