27 September 2010 § 1 Comment
MMO-Champion reports that the Cataclysm release date may be pushed back to the beginning of December – and I hope this means that they will wait a bit more to push 4.0 on live servers as well. I really want to get a Heroic LK kill before 4.0: I thought we had enough time, given we got to Heroic LK in May, but apparently I was not counting to our usual summer period of slump, as well as several scheduling and connection problems that have severely reduced our ability to work on that encounter. I don’t think we’re very far, but honestly I don’t think we will get it this coming week either.
If I had to guess, now I would think that 4.0 will go live on Tuesday 26th October – after Blizzcon, and about a month before Cata releases. This is however a wild guess, not based on any inside source or private information, so not very reliable :-).
In other news, the same post on MMO-Champ lists the rewards for Justice and Valor Points. The interesting thing is that Justice Points will be redeemed for blue rewards only (boo!) but the spellpower weapons only require lvl 83 – if this stays, it will be nice to have those weapons before getting to max level. Also, the JP rewards cover all set slots, plus main hand, offhand, wand, neck and waist, which is not bad at all. I also appreciated a lot the fact that VP cover rings and trinkets – and that the two rings and the two trinkets can both be used by Disc Priests without too much of a stretch. In short, gearing for Heroics shouldn’t be too hard.
26 September 2010 § Leave a comment
The Disc tree is clearly being fine tuned by the developers as we speak, which means that each build brings one or two changes – which often are annulled or compounded by the build after. I am going to suspend debating the talent trees for a (short) while, and I am sure the tree will stabilise soon and we can restart. So far, the changes are interesting and fun, but don’t change the gist of what I posted before: I will still go with an Archangel/Atonement build. As for the details of that… well, stay tuned!
24 September 2010 § 1 Comment
I just have to post, I’m too psyched up: after 4 months of wipes on the LK Heroic, we finally got to P3 – and we got there consistently, about 4 times within 10 attempts. We didn’t change anything, we just all…. clicked, and everything went so smoothly, it was unbelievable. Before tonight, we had some good attempts, but normally it was one good attempt in a sea of stupid wipes. We still have 26 attempts left (in itself a measure of our success, as normally one full night on LK would use a LOT more attempts than that), so we’ll probably extend on Wednesday, and once we’re done we’ll go play in Ulduar or Ruby Sanctum or something else. Stay tuned!
22 September 2010 § Leave a comment
GC explained the rating decay thing a lot better yesterday, and you can find it all in a nice compilation on the new wowinsider.com here. It turns out, as it is often the case, that I was making a lot more noise than this change warranted – in fact, I kinda like where this is going, now that I understand it a bit more.
The “rating decay” will in fact be bosses being “higher level” in successive tiers of raiding. Inverted commas are needed in both cases, as you can plainly see. Ratings in fact will not decay at all: however, bosses being higher level will mean that you need bigger quantities of rating to give you 1% hit/crit/dodge/parry. Bosses will not actually be higher level (because they do not want to have crushing blows sneak back in, nor to worry about future expansions’ bosses having to start from even higher level than now), but will just behave that way for the sake of rating calculation (I have a feeling that this part however is not set in stone yet – they may still be deciding exactly how to make this work).
So, not that he needs my excuses, or that he’ll ever know I fretted in the first place, but yeah, I owe an apology to GC and Blizz devs. Once again, I am shown how panicking over supposed changes that are not in game yet is often pointless until we know more. In my defence, I think that sometimes community panic is good, at least to signal to GC and the blue posters what needs to be explained better – which is what he did – or what worries the community in general (see the RealID debate/debacle). So, I will keep trying not to panic, will probably fail a few times, and will apologise when I panic for the wrong reasons (and of course I will still chastise any other blog I see panicking, because what’s blogging without some hypocrisy?).
Now that that’s out of the way, this is introducing some interesting asymmetries. Asymmetry #1 is healers vs dps and tanks: healers will not suffer from this change at all, given our targets are not changing levels. Technically, Disc will suffer more than most because of Evangelism/Atonement, but the smite glyph for 18% hit should mostly take care of that – so we will only have a slightly lessened chance to crit. So, our crit chances on heals will keep increasing, while the dps and tanks will evolve through step functions, increasing during a raiding tier, then suddenly dropping at tier change and starting to increase again. I will still see a lot of Divine Aegis by the end of the expansion, and maybe become a more interesting Focus Magic target than other mages….
Asymmetry #2 is haste vs the other ratings: haste will not suffer from this change, because it is the only rating that doesn’t enter into the combat table, and so is not affected by enemy level. Haste was the stat that many classes were capping during ICC (disc priests, boomkins, resto druids…), so I guess the devs will have to watch that a bit more. I know they took away some of the haste talents, which should also help on that side.
All in all, I think the change as it is explained now makes a lot more sense. Now, if you will all excuse me, I have to see if I can find some more of that delicious humble pie…
20 September 2010 § 8 Comments
(Harr, harr, harr! See what I did with the title? Because blues are… and out of the blue is… never mind….)
Love it how Ghostcrawler sometimes slips a bomb just as an aside comment. Case in point: while discussing the eternal problem of hit rating and getting capped meaning you want to ignore everything with hit on it, he threw out this little tidbit:
3) Requiring higher combat ratings for additional content tiers. What hit caps you for 4.0 won’t be sufficient in 4.1, so the extra budge on the 4.1 gear will be helpful. (Source)
So if I understand correctly, every single new tier of content will automatically decay your ratings. To bring it to Wrath terms, there you are, decked in Naxx gear and finally getting your haste, crit (and hit, if you’re a dps) to decent levels, and suddenly Ulduar comes out, and going back to Naxx you find out that all your ratings now convert to a lot less percents – with the consequent loss in dps/hps. Thankfully, defence is not a rating anymore, so at least we won’t have tanks suddenly getting crit – the avoidance stats are still ratings though (dodge and parry), so tanks will be suffering more damage through that.
For all intents and purposes, every raiding tier will effectively partially reset gear. We are getting used to these gear resets as they happen at the beginning of any expansion, but frankly, there they have relatively little effect. There is new levelling to do, and very few people go back and seriously raid the old content. That is very much not true for raiding tiers within an expansion cycle. Unless you are in a top raiding guild, you are bound to have some overlap between tiers, or finish mopping up a tier while the other has come out. When ToC came out we were still going to Ulduar to kill Algalon; when ICC came out we still went to ToC (though mostly we did that because Lower Spire was way too easy, and nothing else was available). Now, if you run out of time, the top bosses will be even harder to kill as your gear will “degrade” simply because you reached the time limit.
Hopefully, this change will be implemented as a “Sunwell Radiance” thing: in other words, the new tier of raiding has a debuff in effect when you zone into the instance decaying your ratings. This will leave your effectiveness in earlier tiers unchanged, while allowing Blizzard to avoid the stat inflation. Even in this more benign version, I am just not sure I like the change. It feels like a clunky solution to something that could be solved by itemisation – both in terms of ilvls and of actual stat choice on the items.
There is no doubt that stats went out of control in Wrath: the spread of loot has been from ilvl 200 in Naxx to ilvl 277 in Heroic ICC 25. This compares to a spread of 115 (Attumen) to 164 (Kil’Jaeden) for BC, and 66 (Lucifron) to 92 (Kel’thuzad original) in Vanilla. In Wrath, we’ve had TEN separate tiers of loots (in ilvl: 200, 213, 219, 226, 232, 245, 251, 258, 264, 277), over only four tiers of raiding. Let’s assume Blizzard uses the same loot model in Cataclysm, letting Heroic loot be a full tier above normal (13 ilvl), while the normal loot of the tier above is only 6 ilvl above the Heroic loot of the tier below. We also know that the starting epics are going to be ilvl 359, so we should see the following progression (assuming 4 tiers of raid instances again):
- Tier 11: 359 normal, 372 heroic
- Tier 12: 378 normal, 391 heroic
- Tier 13: 397 normal, 410 heroic
- Tier 14: 416 normal, 429 heroic
Most importantly, Blizzard has always said that the biggest issue was that when they designed Wrath and the ratings conversions, they were not counting on Heroics mode at all (they really started in Ulduar, so post Wrath launch). The addition of an upper tier of gear for every raiding instance clearly inflated the numbers. This particular problem is gone: we know heroics are here to stay, and so we can plan the build up of the various ratings better, to make sure that by 429 we’re not having everyone hit against haste, hit and crit caps.
Of course, hit is a bit of weird stat in all this, because you want to be able to hit the cap in all tiers. Ghostcrawler’s concern is that if ratings don’t decay, then caster dps will wear all the same gear (the crit/haste/int/stamina gear, to be clear), because they can ignore hit. Except I really don’t understand this objection: the current model of itemisation suggests that a higher tier item with hit/crit/int/stamina will have higher values of all four stats than a lower tier item with the same stat. But couldn’t we have higher ilvl items where the increase in stats happen just in crit/int/stamina, leaving hit to be (roughly) the same? This way, caster dps still has an incentive to upgrade (more of the other stats), while still wanting to wear the same number of pieces of hit gear.
I remember when Sunwell came out, and several posts almost seemed to apologise for having to resort to Sunwell radiance (which, btw, was mostly a problem with bear tanks). A similar attitude seemed to pervade the introduction of Chill of the Throne in Icecrown. When framed that way, I had no problem accepting either debuff. But it seems to me that somewhere in the last eight months we went from “this is our last resort because something happened to screw our original plans”, to “this is a good plan”. It’s not – it feels clunky, and it artificially slows the character progression, when a slower build up of the ratings would get the same result much more elegantly. I am hoping that we can learn more about this soon, but this feels like a fairly bad idea so far.
20 September 2010 § Leave a comment
I finally downloaded the PTR client, and went there to play a bit. Here’s a couple of tidbits and stuff that had escaped me:
1. The Prayer buffs are gone: Fort and Shadow Protection are automatically group wide, require no reagent, etc.
2. Mana has shot up, but the drinks have stayed the same. Tsark has 50k mana unbuffed, and drinks still restore 19.2k. A small suggestion: stock up on holiday food, whether the Harvest Nectar I mentioned in my last post, or the upcoming Halloween candies or the Winter Veil Eggnog. I cannot find new drinks up in the PTR, which makes sense as the post-80 content is not in, so I don’t know when new drinks become available. If anyone is on beta, please let us know.
3. Archangel/Evangelism: the dynamic is interesting, but it’s difficult to test it when not in a group or raid. Just to give an idea, my Smites are hitting (with 5 stacks of Evangelism) for around7k, critting for 10.5k. The healing buff of Archangel lasts for 18 secs, while the ability itself has a 15 secs cooldown. If you’re really good, and your tank is not taking too much damage, you could keep the Archangel buff up all the time. More realistically, it’s quite possible to weave your Smites in a way that keeps your stacks at 5, to be used whenever you need mana. This segues well into…
Gone is Improved Inner Fire, and Inner Sanctum, its replacement, seems to be wholly PvP now (damage reduction on Inner Fire, movement increase on Inner Will). Nice talent, and both of those effect could be situationally useful in PvE too (especially if you move slowly like me), but I can only see me getting it if we’re stuck on a specific fight that could use that (e.g. a Firefighter fight, or Sindragosa). So, I’m taking it out of my chosen spec.
Atonement got a BIG buff, and now heals for 120% of Smite. Damn you Blizzard, now it is actually interesting, as it means that while Smiting with a full 5 stacks of Evangelism (i.e. to keep them up), I get 8.4k heals, which are not much short of my Flash Heals – for a much lower mana cost (792 for Smite, 4k+ for Flash Heal), and a slightly higher cast time (about .5 secs, depending on haste). Atonement is also a smart heal (which is good), but doesn’t refresh Grace or Inspiration which is bad) – still, all in all it seems to be a viable choice even in a raid environment, especially with the appropriate targetoftarget or mouseover macros so you don’t waste time retargeting.
The other change is that we lost Improved Healing (good riddance to a boring passive buff) and gained Trinity – more spell haste, this time if we Smite three times in a row, which means we could even build up the stacks quicker if there is a lull in the fight. A sequence of Shield – Smite – Smite – Smite – Shield – Smite – (Shield) – Smite would probably be a nice way of still healing, while building up Evangelism stacks and Trinity buffs.
So my chosen build now looks like this. I would dearly love to get the second point in Trinity: so far, the only contenders for the axe I see are either Desperate Prayer, or Borrowed Time. I think this will need some serious testing…