Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rampaging through Outlands like a Divine Storm

It took a while, but Vaadren has been copied to the PTR realm. Of course I went straight to it and started checking out all the new stuff. New talent trees, new spells, new mechanics, it's all there and looking good! I know I was sceptical before (and honestly, looking at the notes it was hard not to), but I've made a 180 here. Like I said in an earlier post, Firelight was pretty psyched about how Retribution worked now. And after trying it myself, I have to fully agree with him.

The talent tree looks really nice, for starters. It's too bad that the WotLK trees are different (unless the WoW Europe site hasn't updated their talent trees yet), because I see some really good things in there. I wasn't sure about Sheath of Light at first (you get spell power to a certain percentage of your AP, and crit heals regenerate health for 12 secs to the target) because of the return of spell power, but it's more to give some spells a bit of a holy damage bonus, and to increase healing power (good for soloing and in case you need to throw in an emergency heal in a raid), so I welcome that talent now. The disappearance of Sanctity Aura is apparent, it being replaced by Retribution Aura now I think. There's some talents in the tree to increase Ret Aura damage, and add raid wide haste rating (from weapons to spells, from melee to ranged) to the Aura effect. We'll see how that goes. Judgements of the Wise is possibly the best talent Retribution could have gotten, with a raid wide mana regen AND instant mana reimbursement (20% of max mana) upon judging!! We used to have problems with mana, seeing as our mana pool is usually quite low and we spam our seals and Crusader Strike. With JotW we have gotten a mana regen when doing what we're supposed to do in raids (spamming seals) without our DPS output having to suffer. After several intense fights, giving it all I had, I still had a significant amount of mana left, making me wonder how the hell I can get rid of it! Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we've just become mana batteries. Raid viability, here we come!

The new mechanics take some getting used to, but overall it's really nice. The one Judgement spell has made way for three varieties: Light, Wisdom and Justice. These Judgements do exactly what their corresponding seals already did (health regen, mana regen and a "flee-lock"), but now upon judging. The corresponding seals still exist with their seal abilities, but instead of their "old" judge abilities, they now deal holy damage instead. Active seals on an opponent (Light, Wisdom, Justice, Crusader) aren't possible anymore, but I'm not too sad about that. Overall the system has a lot of flexibility, enabling you to deal damage plus gain mana / gain health / slightly incapacitate your target with each judgement, whichever you need most at the time. And that's without Crusader Strike and Divine Storm, which allow you to customize your battle routine even more.

The spell departement has recieved both good and bad changes. A few spells have been removed, including Blessing of Light + its Greater version, and also Greater Blessing of Salvation has gone. I never used Light anyway, only when there were enough other Paladins available to cover the other Blessings. Salvation is a typical choice though, seeing as it's a popular Blessing and widely used in raids. Divine Protection has had its effect changed. It now provides 50% damage absorption at a cost of 50% slower attack speed. It's like half a Divine Shield, quite strange. The main additions have to be the Judgements: Light, Wisdom and Justice like I mentioned earlier. And then there's the spell buried deep within the Retribution Tree: Divine Storm. Divine Storm has to be the coolest addition to the Paladin's arsenal. It hits up to 4 targets in a 8 yard radius, damaging them with holy damage and healing 20% of that damage done to up to 10 party/raid members. With the new JotW it's pretty hard to run out of mana, so mana cost isn't even an issue anymore. Spam away with your new Divine Storm, and enjoy your melee AoE spell, useable every 10 seconds.

It'll still take a while before the patch hits the live servers, but if the end product is anything like it is now, I'll be a happy Paladin!

The Blues speak!

More Paladin news on the Beta forums, including some nice comments from the Developers (aka Blues). In this post, written by Suicidal Zebra, he wraps up all the information and feeds it to you in bitesize chunks. There's a lot of good stuff to be read there, so make sure you do!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Patch Notes & PTR

The patch notes for the Public Test Realm (PTR) came out, and I have mixed feelings about them. There's some better scaling for certain spells, some spells have been buffed, which is all good. However, also a lot about Retribution has been overhauled, including some (in my eyes) serious nerfs. Have a look yourself at https://www.wow-europe.com/en/info/underdev/testrealm.html and tell me what you think.

Things I like:
  • All Auras now affect all party and raid members within the area of effect. (Naturally)
  • Divine Intervention cooldown reduced to 20 minutes. (Useable more often than once or twice in raids/heroics)
  • Divine Strength (Holy) moved to tier 1 in the Protection tree. (Easier delving into prot tree for BoK)

Things I dislike:

  • Forbearance duration increased to 3 minutes. (Not THAT bad, but still)
  • Precision has been removed. (The worst thing Blizzard could do, with itemization as it is for Retribution. Getting hit capped while maintaining decent power will be hell)
  • Sanctity Aura (Retribution) removed. (Our main aura is gone. We'll have to put up retribution aura + 5 different ret aura buff talents to get the same effect...)
  • Vengeance (Retribution) now stacks up to 2 times, reduced from 3. (Weren't we putting out mediocre DPS as it was? Don't take away 5% of our damage then...)

So far I'm not too happy, but we'll see how it turns out. I downloaded the PTR and took a peek at what has been added. There's a huge queue for character copying, so I'll have to wait a bit till I can transfer Vaadren over and can fully explore the talent trees and such. Firelight at http://retribution-paladin.blogspot.com is pretty enthusiastic about how Ret turned out, so I hope I'm wrong and I'll still be able to play my class decently.

On the flipside, I did check out the barber shop, which is considered godlike I think. Everyone speaks highly of it, even though it's just a minor visual tweak to your char. The calendar is pretty nice as well, with all the in-game events already in there. It's easy to make any kind of event, and it looks good. I'll have to explore that a bit further with Vaadren.

Finally, the Achievements. I'm not too sure why they put that in, but I'm very excited about that. With achievements in every category you can think of (professions, reputation, PvP, questing) you will always have something to strive for. Bored of heroic grinding? Go do some PvP achievements to change the scenery. I know I'll be going for the Exploration Achievements, I've always loved exploring! (I used to be the Guild Cartographer in my old guild before everyone got the Cartographer addon)

That's it for now. I'll be dividing my attention between WoW and the PTR for a bit, so be sure to expect some more about both in the future!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teatime at the Castle

Just a short post today, after last nights follow-up Kara run. Aran's been bugging us this week for no apparent reason, but we finally got revenge tonight. Chess went easy as usual, I can't remember a single time we lost there. Is it even possible without leaving your computer? I got some healy pants from Chess, the start of collecting a healy set (I already have full tank set, holy seems obvious now). It's quite low priority though, so I won't go to great lengths just to get an item, like I'd do for Ret.

Prince went really well tonight. Usually we have trouble with the infernals, or rather bad luck. The first few drop quite far away, one a bit closer on a spot where you don't really want it but still okay, and then one right on top of you and the tank! This time was no different, but it went very smoothly. Prince went down like sugar in a teacup, and soon he was down on the ground. No Gorehowl again unfortunately, that axe has been eluding me for a long time now. I did get the T4 helmet though, so now I can replace that aweful Crusaders Scaled Helm with resilience on it for a nice Justicar Crown. It does push back my HR to below the cap again, which keeps aggravating me. Especially since I only need like 3 or 4 HR.

After Prince we got Nightbane down, by my request. After Gruul on saturday, I only needed Nightbane to finish the Cudgel of Kar'desh quest in Slave Pens (SSC attunement I believe), so I definately didn't want to miss out on that beasty. We got him down nice and easy, earning another batch of badges. We finished there with an early night, giving people the opportunity to go to sleep or just muck around until the server check started at 3 AM.

The badges are a blessing these days, as I made up my mind about my new weapon. The Blade of Harbingers is my choice, for a whopping 150 badges. Get a Mongoose enchant on that one and I won't be swapping weapons anytime soon. I've got around 90 to go, so I should really get working!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big 'n Ugly

Gruul's Lair was on the schedule tonight. Samsara is doing really well in Karazhan, you could almost say we've got it on farm, so it was time to take it up a notch. And so we ended up on Gruul's doorstep, 25 Samsarans strong.

Man, what a night! After buffing everyone up (PallyPower makes it so much easier with 25 people to buff, and 4 pallies to divide the blessings amongst) we headed for the trash mobs. Surprisingly, the trash mobs went down without any problems, and we were already glad about that. Maulgar and his gang next. After going over the tactics, we spread out and initiated the fight. We got Blindeye the Seer down surprisingly fast, and soon Olm the Summoner went down as well. At that point we lost a tank though, cutting a mob loose (don't know which one, it was kinda hectic) and going rampage. Wipe 1. We went in again for the second and third tries, but someone pulled Maulgar too soon both times, ensuing utter chaos. The fourth try started smoothly again, and again the Blindeye went down fast, closely followed by Olm again. We were onto High King Maulgar himself in no time, and before the raid leader could say "Phase 2 coming up" the High King was dead on the ground! Two pally shoulder tokens dropped, nothing else interesting for paladins. With 4 paladins in the raid, plus a few shamans and a rogue, my chances were quite small to get one of the tokens. And indeed, I rolled 37 against a 87 and 72. Too bad!

After a quick break we went on to the big man himself. The trash up to Gruul was taken care of in sheer elegance. Perfect teamwork there. And then Gruul! After going over the tactics again, we ran in for the showdown. Here goes nothing! It was quite hectic, people running all over the place, trying to stay out of range of others as much as possible. Around 60% I got one-shotted by a Shatter (at full health!), and I was lying dead on the floor. A mage fell soon after, and I told the healers to battle rez the mage instead of me. Slowly but surely Gruul's health bar went down, and a few more people fell. And then it happened: with around 20 people still standing, Gruul bit the dust! A one-shotter!! We couldn't believe it, and the Vent channel went berserk with cheers. After a rez I got a look at the loot. Yet two more pally tokens, legs this time. It sure was a paladin friendly night! The people who got T4 shoulder tokens at Maulgar couldn't roll again for the legs, making the odds a bit more favorable. A well placed roll of 68 made me the highest roller for one of the tokens, our other Ret paladin got the other one. Justicar Greaves for me, baby! Whoohooo!

It was Samsara's first night EVER in Gruul's Lair. Most of us had never even seen it from the inside yet, let alone kill its inhabitants. And here we are now. After our first night, we cleared Gruul's Lair, one-shotting its master in the process. I'm not saying that we've put Gruul's Lair on farm after our first night, but it certainly looks promising!

Maggy, you've been warned. You're next!

Friday, September 5, 2008

I want!

Gear upgrades. It never seems to stop, does it? Last week I finally got my T4 gloves (Justicar Gauntlets), which I immediately enchanted of course. Compared to the Ragesteel Gloves I had before them, the stat increase is quite nice. The strength increase is quite minimal. +3 Str or so, good for +7 AP. Not much, but extra AP is extra AP. The stamina and intelligence buffs are really nice, something I can always use. I've been focusing mainly on strength on gear, and my intelligence (and mana pool!) has been suffering cause of that. Time for a little love in that direction. I'm also looking forward to the 2 set bonus of the Justicar set. A 15% damage increase for JotC is always nice. After all, it's judged on mobs 90% of the time.

There's a major catch to the Justicar Gauntlets though. With the Ragesteel Gloves I had the Ragesteel Set hit rating bonus, something I really need. Without the gloves I'm suddenly down 20 HR, and that hurts. Luckily I was slightly overcapped already, so that softened the blow, but I'm still 11 HR short of capping it, and I really want it too. I don't want to be the one that misses a blow when everyone else is dead and Gruul at 1%. No use if you can crit for 3-4k if the blow won't land.

And so, in the quest for more HR, I started looking for gear upgrades. I still have some blues which I want desperately replaced (Crusader's Scaled Chestpiece and Helm, resilience yuck!), but haven't gotten around to yet. I decided I need to replace 6 things: helm, chest, shoulders, bracers, weapon and libram. Since itemization is quite a pain, it was hard finding suitable items for some slots, but in the end I made my shopping list.

I really need to get rid of that Crusader's Scaled Helm. It's not bad, but the resilience is such a waste. Prince should help me off that with a T4 helm drop.

Same goes for the Crusader's Scaled Chestpiece. I'll need to spam some MgT Heroic (gotta do normal first as well....can't get in otherwise) for the Netherforce Breastplate from Kael'Thas. I think that'll be my main objective for now, since it's the one I've been wanting to replace for a while.

Ragesteel Shoulders are nice for now, but without the set bonus not too special. T4 shoulders from High King Maulgar? We'll see, Gruul is just around the corner for the guild.

Bracers next. Sha'tari Wrought Armguards? With defense rating on it? The other stats aren't too bad, but there are better bracers around, and the defense raiting is just a waste. I was looking at the Eternium Rage-Shackles from the BoJ vendor, which are an improvement, but I'd rather have the "Ignore 150 of opponent's armor" stat in another form, like crit rating or AP. The other choice is Bladespire Warbands from HKM, but the chance of that dropping on the first time ever we're in Gruul's Lair, I'd say it's quite low. The crit rating is a nice feature of the Warbands, but all other stats are lower. Significantly. I'm not sure yet what to do, I might pose the dilemma to the guild and see what they think.

On to the weapon then. Prince has yet another drop for me, this time in the form of Grom Hellscream's axe Gorehowl. With my BS at 365, I probably should level it up to 375 and craft Stormherald, but I'm having doubts about the benefits of it in the end. I think Gorehowl will do just fine.

Lastly, the libram. I really think I'm using a crap libram now, and there's only one way to fix that: farm The Maker in heroic Blood Furnace. Libram of Avengement is THE libram, no questions asked.

It'll be hard probably, but I'll just go for it and see how it goes. Gruul's Lair on saturday evening, our first ever guild run. Really looking forward to that one!

Maulgar, Gruul, you'd better watch out. Samsarans are coming!

Opening Sequence

So here we go, my first post on my first blog. It's all kinda new to me, so I guess I'll just have to see how it goes. I've been following some blogs about Retribution Paladins for a bit, and decided I wanted to go the same way, if nothing else than to promote Retribution. I'll be sure to link them pretty soon so you can check those out as well, they're pretty nice. Anyway, on to business!

Since this is a blog about a Retribution Paladin, let me introduce myself and the paladin in question:

My name is Martijn, with my Ret Paladin Vaadren. He's on the Lightbringer EU server, and in the casual raiding guild Samsara, Horde side (yup, I play a Blood Elf!). PvP is something I never got into (except the occasional Xroads skirmish for fun), I'm a pure PvE junkie.

Samsara's progress is mainly Karazhan oriented right now, with a small path into Zul'Aman and Gruul's Lair pretty soon. There's two Karazhan runs a week (two teams who each have their own starting day and follow up day), and one ZA run a week for the well-geared people.

As for an Armory link: http://eu.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Lightbringer&n=Vaadren

I think that about sums up the first post. Stay posted for any blogposts about my WoW experiences in the future. Raid experiences, gear upgrades, paladin news or whatever I feel like putting in here.

As a final note, feel free to make any comments or suggestions regarding my blogposts or Vaadren (talents, gear, etc). I'll take all criticisms and suggestions!