Monday, January 26, 2015

Patch 6.1 Notes Reaction

Blizzard released the patch notes for 6.1. Paladin specific items were broken down into a couple of different sections but I have combined them all into this post.

Talents

Empowered Seals (Protection, Retribution) has been improved. Liadrin’s Righteousness now increases haste by 20% (up from 15%). Uther’s Insight now heals the Paladin for 2% of maximum health (up from 1%).

It looks like they are trying to make Empowered Seals more attractive. Before this buff Theck and the theorycrafters at Maintankadin had worked out that:

ES is still in last place post-haste-buff. Worse for survival than HS, and not a very large DPS gain over HS either (obv a DPS loss compared to Sera). And again, this is played perfectly juggling all 3 buffs. The penalty for error with ES is probably just as large as Seraphim since all three of the buffs are pretty significant effects. If your uptime on any of the buffs is <75% you're probably better off with Holy Shield. - Source

Given that stance, and the fact we have one less Seal and therefore one less buff, I have my doubts it will be enough to make us want to use it. That makes me somewhat happy because I really don't want to add Seal Dancing to my rotation.

Execution Sentence's healing dealt by Stay of Execution has increased by 100%.

Nice buff to Execution Sentence. That tier of talents is not very appealing. They are all kind of 'meh'. I guess this will make this less 'meh'.

Final Verdict (Retribution) now increases the radius of the next Divine Storm by 50% (down from
100%).

Now kill yourself half as much when you aggro all bears.

Hand of Purity now reduces damage taken by 15% (up from 10%).

I dig the buff to Hand of Purity. It's a nice take on Brackenspore for either yourself or a Holy Paladin who is healing you.

Sacred Shield's (Holy) mana cost has been reduced by 34%.
Beacon of Insight (Holy) now increases healing received by the target by 40% (up from 30%) and moves to the next most injured ally when the target reaches 90% health (instead of full health). 

These look like buffs to Holy, but don't quote me on that.

Glyphs

Glyph of Alabaster Shield has been removed.

Alabaster Shield had already gotten nerfed hard in the hotfix so removing it won't change much

Glyph of Harsh Words is now only available to Holy Paladins.

Apparently, doing DPS with a shield is a reserved for Gladiator Stance Warriors. I realize they give up some survivability to go into Gladiator Stance, but Paladins using Harsh Words were giving up all their Active Mitigation to do that level of DPS.

Glyph of Judgment is now automatically learned at level 25.

If you haven't bought it, don't buy it. It will automatically in your spellbook after 6.1.

Protection

Seal of Truth is no longer available to Protection Paladins. Seal of Command is now replaced by Seal of Righteousness instead of Seal of Truth.

Removing Seal of Truth wouldn't have had any impact. We already determined that Seal of Righteousness did more damage than Truth and switched over to using it. It will leave us without a 'bleed' or DoT to put on the mobs, but that was only important in the days when tanks really had to fight to stay ahead of DPS and you needed your own DoTs to keep up with DPS DoTs for threat.

Armor Sets
PvP 2-piece set bonus for Holy Paladins now lasts 12 seconds (up from 8 seconds).
PvP 4-piece set bonus for Holy Paladins has been redesigned. Eternal Flame or Word of Glory now also reduces damage taken by the target by 5% for each Holy Power consumed (maximum of 15%) for 6 seconds. This effect only works in PvP combat. 

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/17561381/61-ptr-patch-notes-1-23-2015

First off, I have no comment on the Holy Paladin PVP stuff. I don't play a Holy Paladin in PVP (actually I try to avoid PVP as much as possible, but both changes look like buffs to my uneducated eyes.

There's a pretty clear message from the Developers that they don't like Protection Paladins doing bottom of the meters levels of DPS.

I will still try to solo as Prot so I can try out Holy in my other spec and see how it goes. I'm going to go ahead and stop using Seal of Truth, Alabaster Shield, and Harsh Words. No reason to get used to something that is going away.

I'm thinking the default tanking load out will be Divine Protection, Consecrator (love that glyph) and Final Wrath. Throw in Focused Shield if you don't need the bounce to pick up adds or Holy Wrath if the stun would be help.

Doing the DPS as a Tankadin

I got the new “3rd Tank” set up and decided to test it out. If you recall from last week, this involved going Execution Sentence, Sanctified Wrath, Seraphim, Harsh Words, Focused Shield, Final Wrath and using Seal of Righteousness. Harsh Words replaced Shield of the Righteous in the rotation.

After I set up m spec, and bought about 25 Tomes of Clear Mind, I went to the Target Dummy in my Garrison. I managed about 12k DPS, which wasn’t too terribly off from what I was doing as Ret. I decided to give it a test in the Proving Grounds. I had already completed the Silver Challenge DPS in my Retribution spec, but I wanted to start slow and fired up the Bronze Challenge DPS. That went well, almost easy. Next up I tried the Silver Challenge. This took me 4 or 5 tries as Retribution back when I first hit Level 100. I remember reading somewhere that the Proving Grounds scale up with your gear so the fact I have much better gear now than I did then shouldn’t have a big impact. It took me about 8 tries, but I managed to beat it and got the “You’re Doing It Wrong” achievement.



One big thing I learned, you can’t sit on a Seraphim. Once you’ve got 5 Holy Power, you’ve got to activate it.

With those two tests out of the way, the next thing I wanted to do was to try it out soloing. The Apexis Daily was “Assault on Skettis”.

This has to be the worse Apexis daily I’ve done so far. First, you have to obtain a Talon Key from the Arakkoa that patrol around. Then you have to free the Arakkoa Outcasts. That activates a reputation bar. Each Outcast has a 5 minute timer. At the end of that 5 minutes they will despawn. Outside the area is a Darkweaver in a bubble sort of like the ones we had on the Isle of the Thunder. The idea is to fight other mobs in the area with the Outcast at your side to increase the reputation bar and then turn them into the Darkweaver’s bubble. This would be fine expect for one itsy bitsy little problem. You remember that early scene in Top Gun where Goose and Maverick walk into the bar, and Maverick declares “This is a target rich environment”? Skettis has just the opposite problem. It is a target poor environment.



There aren’t nearly enough Arakkoa mobs and they don’t respawn quickly enough. The ones that do spawn are killed almost instantly. You almost have to get lucky running around and have one spawn near you or you pick a spot and spawn camp. To add to the issue, the Talon Keys aren’t a 100% drop. I finished it for the Achievement progression but I’m keen on skipping it the next time I see that as the daily quest. I don’t need Apexis Crystals THAT bad. The good news was that the new spec performed well. I felt comfortable that I was killing stuff about as fast as I would as Retribution. I can now use my Prot spec for both solo and tanking by changing some glyphs and talents. That should mean I can change my Ret spec over to Holy and give that a try.

Of course, I then learned that the guys back at Blizzard HQ aren't too keen on this idea so this "3rd tank" spec is getting nerfed in Patch 6.1.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Return of the 3rd Tank?

In Burning Crusade era 25 man raiding, 3 tanks were the norm. That's actually how I got my in with a Tier 6 guild. I was their 3rd tank. It wasn't a great job, especially in the days before dual spec, but it was good first rung on your way up the tanking hierarchy in a guild. The idea has returned with the penultimate boss of the current Highmaul raid, High Imperator Mar'gok.

"3-tank Heroic/Mythic Imperator Mar'gok"

High Imperator is a crazy 5 phase fight that challenges all groups even down to LFR. Every even phase is an 'intermission' where Mar'gok becomes unattackable and the raid deals with a set of adds. In the second intermission (or 4th phase) an additional add called a Reaver spawns. The Reaver is a melee and hits like a truck. He needs a tank. At the same time this is happening the two tanks still need to pick up the Warmages and Volatile Anomalies. The Reaver also periodically knocks his tank back and drops aggro. Handling all this feels like trying to dance while juggling chainsaws.

Some guilds have elected to bring a 3rd tank to the fight. The 3rd tank allows the other two tanks to concentrate solely on their adds while the 3rd tank takes care of the Reaver. It's important this 3rd tank does a reasonable amount of DPS during the early phases where she isn't needed to tank. The DPS requirement on this fight isn't so tight that the small amount of DPS you lose for bringing the 3rd tank shouldn't be what wipes you. This is more of a survival fight than a DPS race.

Another application of the 3rd tank would be Brackenspore. Two tank can rotate the Rot debuff while the 3rd tank handles the big add that spawns. This way your tanks never have to deal with the add hitting them plus the Rot debuff ticking at the same time.

I thought about how I would pull this off but, as usual, my friends at Maintankadin had it all figured out. "DPS as Protection Spec"

Glyph load out

I changed my Glyphs to Harsh Words, Focused Shield and Final Wrath.

This build is more single target focused. The options for multi target would Double Jeopardy assuming you were good at cycling between targets every Judgement. Alabaster Shield would be the other option, but it would seem like that counteracts Harsh Words. If you are spending Holy Power on Harsh Words you wouldn't be building any Alabaster Shield stacks since you wouldn't be using ShoR.

Talents

Holy Avenger / Sanctified Wrath
Execution Sentence
Seraphim

Holy Avenger and Sanctified Wrath sim out pretty close but I went with Sanctified Wrath because I feel like it easier. With Holy Avenger you really have to line it up perfectly with Seraphim and I don't trust myself to pull that off just yet.

Initially, you would run Seal of Truth in this build instead of Seal of Insight. But after the nerf, Seal of Righteous does more DPS (even to a single target) than the Seal of Wet Noddle Truth. When the transition to the 4th phase is close, switch to Seal to Insight and replace Harsh Words with Shield of the Righteous in the rotation.

If I can pull this off, not only would it prepare me for a role on Mar'gok, but it would also allow me to use this spec for soloing and I could try swap my Ret spec to try out Holy once I fill in the Holy specific gear slots (weapon, shield, trinket, back and ring).

Friday, January 16, 2015

More Hotfixins for Tankadins

January 15 
Class Paladin
Protection 
Reduced the damage of Seal of Truth for Protection Paladins by 80%. Protection Paladins should primarily use Seal of Insight for defensive value.
[Currently in Testing]Seraphim now grants 750 of each stat for Protection Paladins (down from 1000).

Double post today becuase this is what happens when I've scheduled a post and the Developers put out a bit of news.

I read the statement "Protection Paladins should primarily use Seal of Insight for defensive value." as basically the developers saying that Protection Paladins should always be using Seal of Insight. Okay, that's fine, but if Seals aren't supposed to be a choice, then why not just make them passives. Prot and Holy get Seal of Insight. Retribution gets Seal of Truth.

The Seraphim change is still in testing but maybe its related to the Haste change, which in retrospec seems like a strange change to make via Hotfix. Changing the value of Haste was bound to cause some balancing problems and probably should have gone into a Patch / PTR cycle rather than a Hotfix.

Theck has run his numbers and come to these conclusions.

Sera still top for DPS, but by a much smaller margin. Sera and HS are pretty much equivalent for survivability. You can probably still pull crazy DPS theatrics by lining up procs with Sera/HA, just not quite as crazy as before. Don't trust the ES results there, since it's still twisting all three seals (and we might not want to twist SoT now - need more testing). Regarding SoT/SoR: They basically just halved the DPS gain of giving up SoI (since you can still take SoR). Presumably this was to make SoI more attractive. Most of you will just swap to SoR, I suspect.
http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=33793#p787768

Paladin Loot Specialization in LFR

I’m looking at how I want to set up my Loot Specialization when I run LFR. I’m trying to build the best tanking set I can while also amassing decent offsets for both Retribution and Holy. Clearly, I’m an ambitious guy.

The loot table in LFR is different from the loot table in Normal/Heroic/Mythic. If the guild I eventually land in runs Personal loot, I’ll have to figure out what to run in those as well. I've been running as an OpenRaid PUG with Casa Soma the last two weeks as a tank. They run Personal loot and I've set Protection as my Loot spec on those runs.

You could do this ingame through the Dungeon Journal but I like researching it ahead of time.

I used Wowhead to look over the LFR loot tables. Head, Shoulders, Feet, Bracers, Legs, Chest, Hands, and Belt are easy. Those pieces are universal. They will be on your loot table regardless of your chosen specialization. One of the new features in Warlords is that plate gear has both Strength and Intellect on it, but the Intellect and Strength trade depending on your spec. When you are Holy, the piece has Intellect and no Strength. When you are Ret or Prot, it has Strength and no Intellect.

Belt is a little more difficult than the other universal pieces because as far as I can tell no plate belts drop in LFR. That seems like an oversight on the part of the developers. Thank the RNG that I got one from Normal Brackenspore.

The three specs do value the secondary stats differently. Prot loves Bonus Armor and Haste. Ret wants Mastery and Crit. Holy is more about Crit and Haste. If you are at the point where LFR gear is still an upgrade, the iLevel and core stats (stamina, intellect, strength) will more than make up for any difference in the secondary stats.

Jewelry (Trinkets, Rings), Cloaks, weapons, and shields do not get shared, nor do they have intellect and strength on them. It works the same as in older expansions. Those have to be sought individually.

Kargath. Run with the Protection loot specification. That gives you a roll on everything in his loot table. He has a Cloak (Prot only) and a Ring (Prot or Ret).

Butcher has a Prot Cloak and a 1 hander. If you have those slots covered, you can switch to Holy and get the trinket and ring he has.

Brackenspore. Run Prot for a neck or Holy for a trinket.

Tectus. His table is loaded with Holy goodies (weapon, cloak, and neck). Prot or Ret only gives you a shot at a trinket.

Twins. A Prot ring is all you can get. If you go Holy there is a trinket and a neck.

Ko’ragh. This is the tough one. This is Ret’s only shot at a weapon in the instance. Holy gets a cloak. Prot gets a trinket.

Imperator. He drops the tank shield and a neck. If you have those covered Holy can get a cloak or a ring.

For my purposes, it goes something like this.

  • Kargarth (Prot)
  • Butcher (Prot)
  • Brackenspore (Holy – I already have a 640 neck from Jewelcrafting)
  • Tectus (Holy – too many good drops for Holy and I bought the crafted trinket for Prot)
  • Twins (probably Holy – I have the quest ring and I can craft a 640 with JC for my 3rd and final crafted item)
  • Ko’ragh (Ret until I get the 2 hander – Tectus supplies another shot at a Holy cloak. Once I get the 2 hander, I can go after the Prot trinket)
  • Imperator (Prot – gotta get that shield)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Haste Hotfix and Mountain Climbing

Big news on the hotfix front for Protection Paladins. You can read the announcement on WoWhead.

Secondary Stats 
The Haste stat is now 11.1% more effective. For example, characters at level 100 now receive a 1% increase per 90 Haste (up from 1% per 100 Haste). 
Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Protection 
Sacred Duty now causes the Paladin to gain 30% (up from 5%) more of the Haste stat from all sources. 
Glyph of Alabaster Shield now increases Shield of the Righteous’ damage by 3% (down from 10%) per stack.

First off, hello haste. Second, ouch on the Alabaster Shield nerf. I'm still pretending I'm a maintankadin for the moment. I'm not sure if I will continue to Glyph Alabaster Shield though I'm not sure exactly what I'd swap it for. Normally, I run Alabaster, Consecrator, and Divine Protection. Maybe I'll replace Alabaster with Focused Shield.

Theck, master of numbers and all things theorycraft, has a new blogpost out on the Haste change.

You should read the whole thing because Theck is a good writer and there is a ton of information that is helpful to understand the entirety of the change.

Here were my takeaways.

  • "For pretty much every talent selection, you’ll want to prioritize haste."
  • "Haste/mastery focus won’t serve you poorly for any talent combination, so if you want to be able to swap back and forth between talents freely that may be the most versatile strategy"
  • "my (Theck) summary of stat valuation: 
  • Bonus Armor > Haste (to 50%) > Crit (Seraphim) >= Mastery > Crit = Vers > Multistrike > Haste (above 50%)"
  • "we should stop stacking haste when we hit 3858 character-sheet haste rating, or about 42.87%. That’s a pretty steep target, so it’s not clear we’ll be able to reach it even in Tier 18. "

I currently have about 1147 haste on my Character sheet (logged off as Ret). Of course, I just made a Greater Mastery Taladrite to put into the belt I got. They sell for about 2k gold on my server. Ugh.

I was also interested to learn that Holy Shield and Divine Purpose is the most popular talent choices. Seraphim and Holy Avenger are the most common for Mythic progression. I've been running Holy Shield plus Holy Avenger because I liked the control Holy Avenger gives but I may go back to Divine Purpose.

Nothing like a little news to shake up your Wednesday.

Garrison

On the Garrison front, I really enjoy having a Level 3 Alchemy Lab in my Garrison. I’m able to make all my own Flasks and potions for raiding and not have to buy them on the AH. I've got a stack of Armor potions as well as a stack of Strength potions, plus flasks for both DPS and Tanking. Alchemy Lab, Gem Boutiqe and Salvage Yard are working great as my three small buildings.

Raiding

On the raiding front, the guild I ran with reconvened a couple of days later and once again we were short on healers. I had already given serious thought to putting together a Holy set and all the problems getting healers only reinforced that idea to me. Eventually we were able to pick up some healers from Group Finder and we made our way up to Tectus.

This was my first time this deep into Highmaul. I had read the strategies on Icy-viens.com and watched the videos. I felt like I was ready. They put me on Tectus first. We made the first pull and I died almost immediately. It seems that there was a minor detail I had missed in my preparation. I needed to tank Tectus at a 90 degree angle to the raid. That was easy enough to correct but one of the PUG healers had apparently seen enough and dropped. Again we ventured into Group Finder and found another priest.

The next pull went better. I survived a bit longer and we got through the first phase okay. Both my co-Tank (monk) and I picked up our Shards and we killed his first while keeping a Warlock pet on mine to try to keep him from getting too many stacks of the Accretion damage buff. When the monk’s Shard died, things went ape bleep bananas. Yes, I self censor. You're welcome.

I had read and watched and prepared, but nothing really prepared me for the level of chaos as the 4 little motes cast their abilities. Walls of rocks formed all around us and people started dying left and right. It was insane.

We continued to work on Tectus, each time getting a little better but buckling as the 4 motes got busy. The next pull, I saved all my cooldowns (DP, AD, and GoAK) and chained them all as the first Shard died. This time we were able to power through and the rest of the fight was clean up.

We moved on to the Twins. I tanked Pol while the Monk took Phemos. After the insanity of Tectus, this fight felt almost serene. The only problem I had was with Quake where the ground gets covered with fire. It brought back bad memories of many a night of wipes doing Firefighter in Ulduar and too many wipes on Archimonde. Toward the end of the fight, I got turned around, soaked too many debuffs from the fire and died. Luckily, the Monk was able to pick up both bosses and tank them both through the last 10% or so of their health.  We one-shot the Twins. /flex.

Fresh off that success we pulled toward Ko’ragh. This fight was interesting. We assigned everyone their roles. Either because it was getting late or we were hitting the limits of our gear, we just couldn’t break through the shield fast enough. I had problems with the adds that spawn. I was able to pull them into the void zones, but then I get silenced. I unglyphed Divine Proection to give me some additional magical resistance, but it wasn’t enough. After a couple of wipes people started leaving and we called the raid.

I’m now 5/7 in Highmaul Normal.

I really liked the group and the guys from the host guild seemed like good guys. I would give serious consideration to joining them full time expect for two issues. First, they live on a PVP server which means I won’t transfer there. If they ever get to the point where they want to try Mythic, I’ll either have to leave their group or transfer to a PVP realm. Sure, its one sided, but there will still be times I’ll be alone out in the world. I can’t see myself doing that. The other issue is they've shown a willingness to push beyond their stated end times (midnight CST). I’m sure most guilds do that, but these guys are already pushing the envelope of how late I can stay online with just their normal times.

If you are looking for a group to run with, especially if you are a healer, I would recommend you check out their runs. You can find them here: https://openraid.us/events/view/258496.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Assault on Highmaul

I ventured back into the waters of OpenRaid this week and found a different group running Highmaul. I again signed up as a Tank with a DPS offspec. The event description said that invites would go out a half hour before the raid start so I got concerned when 15 minutes before the stated start time, I still hadn’t heard anything. I jumped over to the server of the raid leader and made a level 1 alt. I whispered him and soon after I had an invite to my RealID friends list. I hopped back on my main and got the raid invite a few minutes later. I asked him if he needed me to come as Prot or Ret and got really excited when he told me that they wanted me to tank.

The guild that hosted the raid came from a PVP server and as soon as I joined the group and left my garrison I was flagged. It felt very strange to be running around flagged again. I grew up on PVP servers of Dark Iron and Altar of Storms so I know what it’s like to live on a PVP server, but it’s been a while. Unlike the pile of skeletons that usually littered the ground in front of Molten Core or Karazhan, there were relatively few skeletons at Highmaul. All around me were dozens and dozens of other Horde. Apparently this server is very one sided.

We waited around for a little while because the group was short on healers. This is a familiar refrain in my raiding days.  Eventually, we got healers from Group Finder but the raid leader was concerned. Our healing team was Shaman, Shaman, Druid which apparently is great for raid healing but leaves a bit to be desired as tank healers. Without any better options we moved into the instance.

I had gotten some practice on Kargath the week before so I had a pretty good idea of what to do. The other tank, a Brewmaster, was part of the guild that was hosting the raid and took the main tank duties (I would learn later that he was the GM of the guild). We switched off on the Impales and it seemed like I was the one free for the stands group each time.

Based upon my previous experience with OpenRaid, I didn’t have high expectations, but this group seemed to be doing a bit better. I came down from the stands and nobody was dead. After two more transitions, things did start to get chaotic and I could feel the raid starting to buckle, but we managed to kill Kargath before we lost control. A mixture of relief and excitement flowed through me. I had beaten the first boss of Highmaul.

I didn’t have any idea how far we would get, and this is currently the highest level content opened to me. I didn't get a drop, but I burned a bonus roll immediately.

Gold.

Next up was Butcher. I had heard this was a roadblock for many groups and given the dynamics of the fight I could sort of understand it. Butcher is a coordination fight where the team has to work together to handle his deadliest moves. I have to give a shout out to the raid leader who did a great job explaining the fight and set up floating raid markers for the different groups to stand in. He guided us through with macros and commands over voice chat.

Butcher was one shot. My optimism for the group was growing. We were doing Personal loot and again there was nothing on the boss for me. I burned another bonus roll.

Gold.

We decided to try Brackenspore next. For the first time of the night we ran into some issues. There’s an element of randomness to it with the placement of the mushrooms that reminded me a little of the Prince Malcheezar encounter. Sometimes we got ‘good’ mushroom placement and it spawned right next to us and sometimes the Living Mushroom we needed spawned clear on the other side of the room. The DPS needed a couple of attempts to learn how to use the flame throwers without letting them overheat and a couple of our wipes were due to Brack getting too much healing from the moss.

The Necrotic Breath did a number on me, and we also had trouble with the Rot debuff. It was more the combination of high stacks of Rot plus no healing during Breath plus his melee. We tried switching at 3 stacks but sometimes I would still have active stacks when it was time to switch and sometimes we would need to switch as Necrotic Breath happened. We eventually settled on 4 stacks but we still have issues with the flamethrower guys not getting the healing moss out quick enough.
We got him down to consecutive single digit wipes, but it was getting really late. The scheduled end time was already pretty late for me and we were looking at going past that, but we were so close and I wanted to see a kill. One of the healers bailed and we went into Group Finder. A few minutes later, a Discipline Priest joined the raid. The guy was way over geared for normal (670 item level). I have no idea what he was doing, but I was sure glad to have him healing.

The next attempt went much better. My health was more stable and the Necrotic Breaths were less threatening. It was a close call again, but this time we prevailed.

There wasn't anything for me on the corpse. I took a deep breath and fired off my final bonus roll.

Belt! I won the belt and it had a Prismatic Socket. Double score!

We called the raid for the night at that point, but decided we would try again later in the week. The raid leader complimented me on my tanking and hoped I would come back. It felt great to have some success tanking and to get compliments from the raid leader who was also one of the healers.