Monday, February 26, 2007

How BC has changed me / Level 32 routine

No, not in big personal ways, but my gameplay has certainly changed since BC came out. The primary thing that's happened is that I'm playing more with my wife then without her. I'm not 100% what the difference was, but I think it boiled down to making a commitment to experience all the content in the Draenei starting zones with her. The reason I think this made the difference was that I was actively trying to get her to play. In the past when she's express an interest in playing it meant that I'd log off of my main and to play a toon I really wasn't too interested in with her. I'm sure it gave here the impression that I'd rather be playing without her, which (subconsciously) may have been true. I mean, I liked playing with her, but it was quests I'd already done, zones I'd already cleared, and playstyle that I'd already experienced. DPS and Warlock, done that do death...

Now, when I'm playing my 'main' it's nowhere near as fun. I'd much rather be playing with her, and I'm sure my general attitude has changed. I've really gotten excited about 'tanking' and the paladin class in general, both of which are 'new' to me. The synergy with the Shaman is also amazing, and unlike anything I've done before. While Paladins are the defensive hybrid (tanking/healing), Shaman's are the offensive hybrid (DPS/Healing). If you look at my three highest level toons (Rogue, Hunter, Shadow Priest) I've already played the DPS and Healer roles. The only role I really hadn't experienced was that of a tank. With my wife taking care of DPS and Healing, I'm able to focus on the one area do the MMO trinity that I haven't already done to death: tanking.

Speaking of synergy, Windfury Totem and Reckoning are just crazy fun. I've only got 2/5 in Reckoning, so it's a 4% proc rate, but when it does proc it's full strength. Windfury is a 20% proc rate on hit, so I've got a 59% chance of getting a windfury proc off one of my extra hits (1-(.8*4)) and roughly 30% (8!/(2!*6!)*(.2*.2)*(.8*.8*.8*.8*.8*.8)) chance of getting two procs. That translate to a pretty heavy spike in damage, and by extension, threat. It's not the flat 20% buff it is for warriors, but only because a significant portion of my damage dealt is reactive and not active (i.e. Retribution Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, and my Shield Spike).

As I implied above, our Draenei are sitting at level 32. I think I've gotten 10 levels in the last week, so it's been very productive. The elite quests in Duskwood are so much easier with the two of us. We took out Morbent Fel at level 29 without a death. I've never seen him go down so easily. It was pretty scary at first with adds he comes with, but they were quickly attracted to my Consecration and coupled with the damage from my Aura, they quickly fell. I don't think we even focused damage on them, they died to my passive AoE. The Bride of the Embalmer went down just as easily, as did Stalven, all before level 30. Level 30 lead us to Southshore and more evil murlocs. At one point I had 7 on me while I dual boxed. I just through up all the totems, dropped consecration and whittled them down. It was a lot of damage to heal through, but it was successful. Magma Totem immediately after Consecration is great, a lot of damage. Oh, Blessing of Sanctuary is great. 10 damage less per hit really adds up when you're taking 5 hits per second (aka the murlocs) and almost assures that Redoubt is always up. Seal of Light is also nice. I'm trying to decide how when to use it in place of my normal SoR/JotC (or JoJ for runners). I'm inclined to use it when AoEing, as the added threat from Consecration offsets what I'm losing from not using SoR, plus the added healing adds a lot to my survivability. If the mob isn't a runner, and the mob hits hard, I'll use JoL instead of JotC.

Level 32 gave my wife Chain lightning which she's been happily accidental pulling with :P. Luckily my taunt effects all three of the mobs that are now really pissed at her. I think that the combination of my inherent AoE abilities with Chain Lightning, Magma Totem, and Fire Nova Totem, we should be capable of some mean feats of AoE grinding. Provided I don't die first.

My current Tanking routine:

  • Buffs
    • Righteous Fury
    • Blessing of Sanctuary
    • Aura of Retribution
    • Blessing of Salvation (wifey)
    • Windfury Weapon (wifey)
    • Food/Pots/Scrolls that are available
  • My Routine
    • Taunt mobs off my wife's pull
    • Consecration (if there's more than one mob)
    • Judge Light if the mob isn't a runner, Justice if they are
    • Cast SoR if the mob isn't a runner, SoL if they are
    • Back up a touch so that all mobs are in front of me (aka I can block).
    • If there are 3 or more mobs, I'll consecrate a second time
    • Otherwise just keep the mobs in front of me and keep my Seals fresh. I don't typically Judge SoR as often as I can. I generally let SoR run for 20 seconds so that I can get three ticks of mana regen before interrupting it again. Mana regen is very important for me as I don't have a very high mana pool, most of my gear is tanking gear, so +STA is a primary concern and I've been grabbing Spirit/Strenght/Int when available.
    • Obviously if my wife pulls aggro off of me I taunt them back and drop consecration to cement the taunt.
  • My wife's Routine
    • Pull with Lighting Bolt
    • Flame Shock the primary target (I taunt as soon as the shock goes off)
    • Drop totems (Stoneskin, Searing, Healing Stream, and Windfury)
    • Melee my target
    • Cast Chain Lightning when it's up
    • Cast Shocks when Available (Flame when the mob is above 80%, Frost on runners or ones are at or below 20%, Earth the rest of the time)
    • After my initial Consecration, drop Magma Totem
    • Drop Fire Nova Totem after Magma expires
    • Drop Searing Totem while the others are on cooldown
    • Heal me whenever I'm at about 50% health
    • Use Totemic Call (I really think it should be called Totem Recall) after the fight to restore a bit of mana, though with here Int/Spirit focus she's rarely /oom.

Realistic Expectations

So, I've been thinking a lot about what I hope to do in BC and what I doubt I'll do. I'm trying to be realistic, so you won't see things like "Farm Illidan" on my list. That may be realistic for some people, but not for me. Keep in mind that these are my goals before the next expansion, not goals for the near future.

Thing I don't think I'll do in BC:

  1. Step foot in Serpentshrine Cavern
  2. Step foot in The Eye
  3. Step foot in Mount Hyjal
  4. Step foot in The Black Temple
  5. Be competitive in the Arena
  6. Get more than three characters (Sakuran, Zydari, and either Repentant or Laic) to level 70.
Things that are likely to happen:
  1. Sakuran
    1. Level 70
    2. Clear Karazhan
    3. Blue PvP Set
    4. Few pieces of Tier 4
    5. Grind as many reputations as are available to me to exalted
  2. Zydari
    1. Level 70
    2. Tank some end-game instances (Heroic 5-mans if I'm lucky)
    3. Get my wife to be confident enough to actually do some instances
  3. Laic
    1. Get to Outland, maybe level 70
    2. Enjoy some PvP
  4. Repentant
    1. Get to Outland, maybe level 70
    2. Find a build that will let me solo effectively and still heal groups. Shadow's great, but I'm not sure I'll stay there.
Things I'd like to see, but am not 100% if they'll happen
  1. 25 man content in general. While I think we'll get to Gruul's lair, it's difficult for a guild like ours to do that kind of content. We may be able to get a group together every other week, but I'm not sure that'll be enough to actually get him down.
  2. Magtheridan. At the moment, he's unkillable. While I give my guild 50/50 odds on Gruul at some point in the future, I'm much less optimistic about our chances with Magtheridan. I'm sure the challenge will drop once the strategy is widely known, but it still sounds like he requires heavy consumables. I really don't see us casuals as farming consumables for nights of wipes.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fixing SotC

From my post on the WoW Suggestion Forums.

Now, SotC is one of the most cast seals a Paladin has, but only for 2 reasons:
1) leveling weapon skills
2) immediate judgment
Now, what's missing here? There is basically no reason to actually let the Seal run it's course in actual play (not counting raising weapon skills). Every other Seal has some value in a real fight. Some are obviously more useful that others (I'll almost always choose SoR over SoJ), but there are situations where they are useful. In addition to each Seal having uses both as a Seal and a Judgment, each of a Paladins roles should have Seals that are useful for it. Tankadins have SoR and SoV and Retadins have SoC and SoB. Again, you'll notice that I omitted somthing: Healadins. They certain could use SoW if they are melee-healing, but I see a real opportunity for SotC.

JotC gives the Paladin a certain amount of +Holy damage to that target, what I would propose is that SotC give the Paladin half of that amount as +healing/damage. You could keep the increased melee attack speed, as the two benefits wouldn't really overlap much. If you're taking advantage of the +healing/damage you're unlikely to be concerned about attack speed and if you focus on attack speed you're unlikely to be too focused on the +healing/damage. What would happen is that a casting focused Holyadin would be able to keep SotC on themselves to augment their healing. Obviously the mechanic I propose would need to be tweaked to make it mana-efficient (not sure if that that value is enough to make it a cost effective endeavor), but I think if done correctly (aka, the +healing/damage amount is enough to not only offset the cost of the seal, but actually making it's use a step towards increased efficiency), it could be very useful.
Not sure if anyone will every see it, but I thought it was a good idea :P

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fame or Infamy?

Thomas mentioned a few of my posts regarding lowbie Paladin tanking, I'm glad to see others finding it useful as it's honestly been a blast for me to play. Only reason I'm posting is that his blog won't let me post a comment (keeps telling me I need to be logged into submit a comment). Anyway, two corrections: Zydari is Draenei, not a Blood Elf (though I do have a Blood Elf Paladin just for humor value), and my main is a Rogue, not a Druid. Though I often wish she was a druid, particularly with the love they've seen post-2.0...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lowbie Pally Tanking

So, my WoW for the last week has almost exclusively been on Zydari, my Paladin. He dinged 22 last night and he really is fun to play. Level 20 brought me Consecration which makes my job so much easier. AoE threat is great and coupled with Retribution Aura makes it nearly impossible for me to lose aggro.

I did a test last night on Retribution Aura. Had my wife body pull a mob while I had RA up. The damage being dealt by the aura did not pull the mob back onto me, so I conclude that it generates hate from the person being hit, not the person who casts the Aura. While this does lessen the skill's worth a bit, it's not enough for me not to use it. My tanking routine generally consists of my wife pulling from behind me, as the mobs I approach I use RD on her to get them onto me then immediately open up with a Consecration. Now the mobs are receiving damage from Consecration, attacking me which generates damage from my Retribution Aura, proccing Redoubt which ups my block rate a lot and means they'll get damaged from my Shield Spike. All that damage, except the Shield Spike, is Holy and as such generating much more threat through Improved Righteousness. So, even though if in the rare event that my wife pulls aggro off me she'd be getting more from being hit, RD is enough to get them back onto me.

I spent several hours yesterday dual-boxing with my wifes toon. I set up some macros for here to auto-follow and target me. One to cast Lightning Bolt on my target, one to stomp totems, and one to heal me. Worked very well and I was able to very quickly get through a level and work on some preliminary AoE tanking (preliminary only as I don't have Blessing of Sanctuary/Reckoning/Holy Shield). Was a lot of fun and with mobs ~2-3 levels lower than me I could easily take 3 on with my wife's toon providing the occasional heal. I think that with her actually playing and being able to pay full attention to one toon we could do three equal level mobs at once. With the AoE/reflective threat I generate, she should be able to drop the Fire Nova Totem whenever it's available to quickly burn down groups. Good fun.

One thing that has surprised me in the last week is my complete and utter disinterest with my main, Sakuran. She's been sitting at 63 for over a week now. I think that part of my disinterest stems from how much more fun I have playing with my wife, and as she's been playing a lot more lately, I find myself playing solo much less. Additionally I think that learning new mechanics and play styles is a lot of what I enjoy about the game. Yes, DPS will always have a spot in my heart, but there is something appealing to playing a tank and not focusing on DPS. I think this is the same reason that I was so stoked about the Druid a month or so ago. It was new and different. I think that with the added bonus of playing with my wife, this Paladin may become a much more regular toon for me.

The guild forum has been acting up a great deal and our Guild Master has been out of town. Stupid thing won't let me delete posts unless I do them one by one (which is not going to happen). I'm hoping that the newer forum software will end up being more reliable and allow me (as one of the forum admins) to actually do some adminning with out it being such an irksome task.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pal-a-din > Puh-la-din

So, last night Zydari, my Draenei Paladin, dinged 17. I've been reading up a lot on Paladin strategies, particularly with the focus on tanking. My only other tanking attempts are with my Warrior Daroul (level 26) who's only real experience was one Stockades run (which I posted on back in...October I think), and Didgeridoo my Tauren Shaman who tanked Ragefire Chasm at level 18 (back when Rockbiter and Earthshock still had +threat).

Needless to say I've done a lot more tanking with toon than with either of the afore-mentioned ones. This guys is exclusively leveling with my wife's Shaman, Zydaria, so is basically tanking full time. Prior to level 14 I'd keep Devotion Aura and Blessing of Might up, judge Crusader, Seal of Righteousness and hope that we'd kill it before my wifes DPS pulled the mob onto her (she's a bit trigger happy). Level 14 gave me Righteous Defense, the three-mob Paladin taunt. It's wonderful, much better that the Bear/Warrior Taunt IMHO. It is different to use though, as you target a friendly player and force mobs attacking them to instead attack me, rather than directly targeting the mob. Could be tricky, but the following macro works wonders:

/cast [target=targettarget,help] Righteous Defense, [target=none] Righteous Defense

I simply hit the macro whenever I don't have aggro. If it's because my wife pulled aggro I just get them back on me. If it's because my wife picked up an add, I get the glowy hand (because the target of my target is me, it passes onto the second condition) and click her party frame.

Level 16 gave me two new skills that have helped my tanking. Righteous Fury increase all threat from my Holy damage by 60%. As a significant amount of what I try to do is Holy damage, this is quite the buff. Additionally I picked up Retribution Aura, which deals 5 Holy damage to anyone who attacks someone in my party. Now, I'm not quite sold on this ability. If I have aggro, it's great. They're getting 5 Holy damage (for 8 threat) every time they deal damage, may not look like much, but it adds up fast. Where I'm confused is how the threat is applied if the damage stems from a mob hitting someone else in the party. My thinking, and what I've read a few places, is that it is my aura that is dealing the damage, thus I'm getting the hate regardless of who the mob is hitting. But, a high level paladin in my guild doesn't think that is the case. More investigation is needed, but for now this is my default tanking aura.

Next level (18) I'll be getting Blessing of Freedom (situational), a new rank of Seal of Righteousness (yeah!), and Spiritual Attunement. That last spell is what I'm most excited about, 8% mana from any healing from an outside source may not seem like much, but I'm always grouped with a healer. Any healing she does on me simply increased the amount of damage I can deal. I'm sure it will be more useful as time goes on and the return gets into the double digits, but I will certainly have a reason to not be healing myself :P

Level 20 will give me Consecration, which should cement my ability to tank multiple mobs. That, coupled with Retribution Aura, should be loads of fun. Get my wife to drop some AoE fire totems and we should be able to do a lot of damage, real fast.

Looking down the levels I imagine that I'll continue to use the JotC/SoR combination (with JoR when ever its up). Seems like the best way to maintain threat and deal damage. Obviously other Seals/Judgments will have situational use, but that should remain my default. Looks like at 64 Seal of Vengeance will replace Seal of Righteousness as my default. I'm just tickled at the prospect, though level 64 is barley on the horizon.

My current spec (0/8/0), at 20 (0/11/0), 30 (0/21/0), 40 (0/31/0), 50 (0/41/0), 60 (0/41/10), and 70 (0/44/17).

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Kinless coined (to my knowledge) the term 'Altism' in a recent post of his. I think the term is appropriate, and I think I'm suffering from it as well. I'm just not in a hurry to get to 70. Sakuran is still sitting at 62, though she'll likely hit 63 tonight. I've certainly spent more time on my alts since my last post.

Repentant - 40 Priest
I managed to finally ding 40 with Repentant. I'd stopped soloing with him at 38 so I could have available to group with guild mates. Last week weekend we did a partial Uldaman run and worked on the elites in Stomgaurd. Dinged 40 halfway through there and promptly fell in love with Shadow Form. It certainly is nice to be able to farm with a rogue and a cat-form druid, keep everyone's health up with VE and compete with the rogue for top DPS. Having read about the rediculous amount of DPS Shadow Priests are putting out in endgame content I'm fairly certain that Repentant will never spec out of shadow. Oh, and I bought a horse. Is it just me, or are human mounts just 'meh'?

Laic - 51 Hunter
Haven't dinged on him in a while, but have started the Marhsall Windsor chain in BS and will eventually get in BRD for some fun. The more I play him, the less I like his build. He's currently 0/11/31, and I'm just not liking it. Don't get wrong, I love Wyvern Sting and Counterattack, but I'm not sure those two abilities justify the 29 other points I'm putting in the tree. Who knows...

It's interesting with the new BC items that are out there, I really find myself anticipating level 58. See, Laic will not be spending any time in the old end-game content, like Sakuran did. He'll ding 58 and say goodbye to Azeroth. I curious to see how much more of a difference replacing my gear will make with Laic. Sakuran replaced almost everything within two levels of hitting Hellfire Peninsula. I imagine Laic will just have a blast.

Sakuran -62 Rogue
I respecced Sakuran, again. I kept my primary tree pretty much the same, just swapped minor trees. She's now 0/11/42 which is the only build I've ever tried without points in Assassination. Lightning Reflexes is a fairly unpopular talent, but let me tell you why I picked it. Improved Gouge is nice for solo PvP, but I don't do that. I play on a PvE server and decline duos, only PvP I see is the BG's and perhaps a little arena at 70. In those venues it's unlikely that my gouge will last that long anyways as there's 9-39 other people out there who could be hitting my target. Improved Sinister Strike is great if you're using Sinister Strike. I actually spent some time wondering if it would make sense to drop two points there and forsake Hemo. My conclusion is that without 3/3 Aggression, Sinister Strike just doesn't do enough more damage to be worth while. I love having Riposte back, it's arguably my favorite talent point in the combat tree. Best damage per energy of any rogue attack plus the disarm.

With the additional 5% parry and 5% dodge, I'm looking at 45% mitigation before my armor kicks in. With Ghostly Strike I can increase that to 60% for 7 seconds out of every 20. With Evasion and Prep that can increase by 50% for 30 seconds.

My target build of 5/13/43 will put Vanish, Sprint, and Evasion on 3 minute cooldowns and Blind on a 1.5 minute cooldown. I think that the sheer amount of utility I will bring to the table will allow me to dictate the pace of most any fight I find myself in, PvE or PvP.