Saturday, 27 June 2009

Patch 3.2 review - Argent Tournament grounds

Patch 3.2 is in the PTR and I though it would be good to check up on a few of the changes so I can report them to those reading me but did not have yet a chance to be in the PTR. Most of the changes mentioned in Part 2 pf the Patch 3.2 review series are around the area of the Argent Tournament grounds. I anticipate quite a few changes further on and the plan is to report these in Part 3 of the PTR review. But lets look on what I found in the northern part of Icecrown...

First and foremost, the Coliseum is finished. The building is a cross-shaped structure with an arena-type circular peripteral where I presume lots of fighting resulting in blood and gore will take place. Sunreaver and Silver Covenant forces guard the place all around, along with the Argent Crusade Peacekeepers. On the sides we can find the portals to (I presume) the 5 & 10/25 man raid instances.

View of the Coliseum from the west

Birds eye view of the Coliseum arena

North-east side

Closer west view

Entrance to east portal

North side portal

At the Argent Pavilion at the west the quest givers have increased. Now, along the old ones handing in quests like Threat from Above there are three more, along with a new vendor with a Greek-sounding name, Dame Evniki Kapsalis(!!). The vendor has among other things the new Argent Crusade tabard and the new Argent Charger. The charges is safe to presume that its the same mount that Justical Mariel Truehart has, right at then entrance of the Pavilion. Crusader Silverdawn, High Crusader Adelard and Crusader Rhydalla hand in quests that reward once again money and Champion's seals.

The new quest givers

The new AC quartermaster

New AC quests - I

New AC quests - II

New AC quests - III

New AC quests - IV

The old quest-givers remain

The Argent Charger

Interestingly enough, once I went out of the Pavilion I faced some quite important placeholders... It seems Highlord Tirion Fordring, King Varian and Jana Proudmore, along with Thrall and their
personal guards are present on the grounds. I am most intrigued by their simultaneous presence and I wonder what lore implications we are going to see from now on. Also, the placeholders kind of hint new avatars. But we will see for that...

Fordring and Co. placeholders

The aforementioned quest givers hand in quests that direct us to one of the new quest hubs, Hrothgar's Landing. As we approach a vision type mist effect appears, similar to the ones in Borean Tundra's coast. I wont bore you with the details of the quests, I am sure others will :). The other hub is Deathspeaker's Watch, on the west of the Argent Pavilion.

Hrothgar's Landing

Deathspeaker's Watch

Hope the pictures give you an insight of the current changes in the environment and the related quests etc. More updates 'soon' :)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Patch 3.2 review - Part 1: On healing meters and forthcoming changes...

First of all, I can not emphasize how good this post, over at World of Matticus is. It is one of the most insightful posts I have seen on healing and how tricky it is to evaluate it. Sometimes, the results of healing deficiency (or not?) are obvious - kind of like the three MT deaths we had in our last raid. However, saying that its just the healers fault is not very meticulous. And even if an RL has not time to deal with such details and he will simply say it to pump its crew, the healing coordinator and his healers have to take it into account.

Nonetheless, my purpose was to review some of the changes on Holy Paladins rumored or announced for patch 3.2. It seems that Napalm healing (as the notorious Ferraro once named it) is taking a heavy hit. No more Holy Light spamming boys and gals. Now we have to think, when, who, for how long etc. Which brings the ball over at the technical healing court. And finds yours truly quite happy as I consider tech healing more challenging.

Now, lets see those changes:

Mana Regeneration: All items that provide "X mana per five seconds" have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.

Ok, more is good but obviously something's got to give...

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target's maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

1% over 5sec vs 0.25% over 1. I.e. replenishment ticks with a larger period and returns 0.25% less totally. Personally I find this particular change indifferent, I am more worried about the overall (aggregate) mana return.

Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.

Reduces the physical damage. Indifferent, its a situational spell that its core use is to heal a lot fast at no cost (but with some return when glyphed). So the added effect is not important in my opinion.

Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal over time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds.

Ok, bearing in mind that Sacred Shield is now unique among your group and its usually casted on your primary assignment the hots will give you a `smoothing' mechanic which buys time to heal other targets (with some assumptions suchs as beacons etc) and allows some nice `matching' rotation schemes among healers. Imagine two paladins rotating among themselves flash of lights and the odd holy light.

Judgment of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.

Ok, JoL now belongs to all paladins, not just the Retry ones. Good for looking good at the meters. Too bad I almost always pick wisdom :p

Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.

Whoa... hang in there! Beacon becomes very powerful (which means I expect it to be nerfed due to some stupid arena-related reasoning). Over healing does count as effective healing now. Which means that less is wasted, its less risky to off-heal and probably allows for some positioning tricks. Does it stack with JoL, I wonder. Do JoLs on multiple targets add-up? I wonder...

Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.

Boo, net nerf. Less intellect. Trickier replenishment. Balance between them... unknown but there is always a way...

Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.

Boo, net nerf. But... in the grand scheme of things possibly justified. Crit is less important now (but always nice for all sorts of other reasons), mana-per-5 is more important, mindless-spaming of Holy-Lights goes out of the window, Glyph of Holy Light becomes less useful but still there, Fash of light returns imo as the flagship heal and....

... well, overall the requirement for greater awareness crops up. I am not one of the people crying `nerf!!!' when changes like this happened. But I do feel that things need to be `balanced' out somehow and evaluated properly. If trading crit for mana-per-5 produces the same results (ro comparable) in healing output (whatever the latter is :-p) then I see no problems. If however the changes are not overall complementary and properly `matched' then there will be issues. Can't wait for some PTR testing... :p

Well, as with everything related to healing things are not as simple as they seem. The changes seem to follow a trend, which is to make paladin healing a bit more challenging and thoughtful. I am waiting to see the synergy among the changes. People (paladins) have asked for challenge but are bound to complain about it because we (everyone) are intrinsically lazy. I say be careful what you wish for because you might just get it...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thank you, Jong... again

Wicked post - as always hilarious - from Jong here. Averna thinks he is `sucking-up' for a heal but what the hell... at least someone does and does not blame us ;-p. I wont spoil-it with my `up-tight' writing style (yes, I know...) so...

And always remember...

"You may be boasting about your crits and damage, but at the end of the day we decide who lives and who dies"

- SomeonewhoIdonotremember

Monday, 15 June 2009

Yogg-Saron is no more

Yup, took us three visits to the Old God of Death to get him down. We have been....tenacious enough and entered phase 3 a few times before the recent nerfs so we were pretty confident he would be dead. In fact, the recent nerfs made him kind of a walk in the park in my humble opinion, although we already had tackled the affected phases. Nonetheless, we raid 3 days a week so we do not complain. The old god is dead and that keeps the guild spirits up is excellent. I got my 4th Tier 8.5 (or whatever the number is, I have lost count) and I look more like a Samurai than a Paladin...

Escape's 1st Yogg-Saron kill

Now, Escape will focus on getting some of the hard-mode achievements going, get out emblematic priest his fragments for his Val'anyr and gear up our raid pool as we go along. Hopefully I will eventually be able to collect the deathknight-looking armor set from off-spec bidding, equip the Scarlet Tabard and make a scarlet crusade-themed video...And possibly at some point get those fragments myself.

On a side note, its sad to see people leave the blogging community but I appreciate they want to move forward. Blog Azeroth has lots of new authors cropping up and I'd like to think that the 'nouvelle vague' of wow blogging ( I place myself in that as well :p) will keep the community active as ever.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

New Looks

Since there are not many things to report on the Wow front I felt its a good time for a change.

A bit of Lance is sporting a new look, so please bear with me as I tweak things up. I was rather tired of the `orangy'-brown theme and went for something less... colorful. My blog is now using the same template as the one I used for the Escape website, originally based on the marvelous Ultimatum from Ourblogtemplates. The level of customization and the degree of integration with the Blogger settings GUI is, in my humble opinion, unparalleled.

On the WoW front, things have been pretty stable for us. We have been having some nice tries on Yogg-Saron, now successfully entering phase two and most of the times entering phase three as well. Some tweaks in the latter and things will fall into place. We are determined to make the most if this coming raid week.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Are achievements a virtual barrier for casuals?

Everybody these days is talking about Ferraro (or whoever he, she, they are) and the whole story of posing as another person - as far as the real life pictures are concerned. You probably have read it, you probably have an opinion as I do. But I'd rather not talk about it, I am just mentioning it so that I do not seem completely ignorant of what happens out there :p. I wanted to make a fun post, portraying myself as a blond bombshell but I think I'll stick to more serious matters...

While I was reading about the aforementioned `scandal' and doing my dailies an old friend from the past, recently transfered in Silvermoon, whispered me. He mentioned something that - what a coincidence - one of our council member mentioned a couple of days ago...

That achievements will eventualy be the downfall of the casual raider...

Both players touched this subject from a different angle. An observer and a victim. Our coucnil member mentioned that he felt that the current trend of being accepted into pugs only if you have completed the relative achievements cuts-off new players from the entry level instances. Likewise, my old friend mentioned exactly that. Not having the achievements does not help him much into participating in Naxx pugs. Mind you, I am talking about people that due to real life commitments are not in a guild, do not have a set playing schedule and try to do the odd instance now and then. People that have accepted that they can not be part of anything a tad more systematic than a mere casual presence into the game.

I must admit I have never thought of this virtual barier before but I do admit its there and its blocking people to catch up. Or even try to. Its perfectly acceptable in my book not to be able to raid as often as I do (which is not that often btw...). As it is perfectly reasonable to try to gauge the people that participate into a pug. But being blocked even out of pugs due to those ruddy achievements is...well, there is definitely something wrong here...

The only way I can imagine someone would `bypass' such virtual barriers is to have friends that are willing to go the extra mile, organize pugs and get that `slacker' the chance to get some descent gear. Of course for that to happen, that 'slacker' must have been a good and pleasant player to be with, someone on your `dearest friends/list'... and not someone that would fit Gevlon's M&S profile. And that is when the social norms of this game come into play...

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