Friday, 15 October 2010

Holy Paladin in 4.0.1 - Part I

I am one of those people that do not moan about their classes. Well not much. It seems this time around its kind of harder to do. Holy paladins are changed, but I am not sure yet if they are 'damaged'. Let’s review what I did do once I went 'live' and how that did work out...

Rebuilt the Gui to the state it was minus Satrina Buff Frames. I currently do not have anything informing me about procs and transient states appart from the default 'Power auras' and some Pitbull 4 notations. This defo needs tweaking...

Bought some new Glyphs as per Rohan's advice which I found quite useful.

Now the hard part...

I tweaked my Haste, Critical and Mastery to the following (unbuffed):
  • Haste 728 (quite low by some reports for 4.0.1, more than adequate for 3.X)
  • - Crit 39% (probably could do with less as crit is less usefull now)
  • - Master ~10% (this is new territory and current reports state that logs do not measure absorbsion - need to check)

With those options and the same talent trees Rohan suggested (31,0,5) I participated in a guild run in ICC, doing some heroic modes.

My reports are:

Paladin healing is, obviously, very different - it looks like we need some time to adjust to the new paradigm. Main changes went from a Pace-type of healing (FL repeatedly for minor damage, HS+Glyph for larger damage+splash, Beacon, shields etc) to a more synergetic style. Holy shock is our secondary resource "counter", Word of Glory is our mana-free-instant counter reset-er and we now have 3 core 'time' heals:
  • Divine Light (expensive, slow and very-high-output)
  • Holy Light (cheap, average-to-small output)
  • Flash of Light (expensive, ultra-fast, high-output)

Coupled with the aforementioned:

  • Holy shock (mana based, instant, procs Holy Power)
  • Word of Glory (Holy Power based, instant, procs acute pain to my fingers...)

We are much less 'capable' than other healers when it comes to healing meters. I am having trouble determining what our niche is with the current build and I hope this will change within the next few weeks and hopefully some correcting tweaks. Instant (therefore extremely situational) heals in small-damage scenarios (damage either was small or other healers very fast) feels kinda... "where do I fit in"...
Last but not least, it is ESSENTIAL to built the UI in an informative way. It may take a couple of runs to adjust to "looking for the right things"


  1. I am having trouble detecting our niche
  2. I need time to learn and put inside my head the timings
  3. I need to gain some experience with the new synergies
  4. We need to 'measure' Mastery - I am not sure there is a reliable method there. Kinda makes me feel like a Disc Priest
  5. I need to make our UIs assist 'counting' and 'pacing'

And I most definitely need to do a few more runs with an alternative build to be able to have a better insight on how the new Holy Paladin paradigm feels. I am particularly intrigued by Eternal Glory and the possibility of chain-casting WoG (which if it does happen it will be eventually nerfed "to the ground"). All in all, I am sure we will be tweaked as things are noticeable inefficient and things look less favourable for the time being. But I could be wrong...

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Return of the Escaping Gnome

Ok, I have to admit, the title is not very indicative of what I am going to say. In fact I am not sure what I am going to say. You see the last few weeks I've been thinking of writing up something in my blog, its been a while after all. But I always felt there is not much to say. As if the fun was drained out from both the game and the surrounding activities.

Yet the last few weeks Escape started assembling back from the holidays and begun raiding again. In order to do that we started recruiting once again, to fill in the gaps and form a raiders group around the veteran core. It a process, we have been accustomed to and it is probably an inherit feature of guilds with a more 'casual' approach like ours - although only our schedule is per se casual.

As with most guilds in our status the question was either push for more HMs or go straight for a Lich King kill to satisfy the popular demand. We kind of did both last week. This week, mostly because our seasoned drill raid leader and GM was not around we opted for a more "relaxed" approach. Get our usual HMs, do not try anything new and overall try to have fun.

Not sure what was the deal, I am not to fuzzed about the technicalities of WoW these days, but our DPS was excellent - think the Boomkin did work wonders there - and the raid was...dare I say it... fun! Even the voices of the raiders were sounding happy. Jokes flew over, our resident gnome got teased, the old-farts exchanged insults and as always I slacked trying to read a couple academic papers while raiding. Yes, I admit I do that during normal modes...

All in all it has been a while I had fun in a raid. But most importantly it brought as smile in my face as I saw Escape sound and healthy after another summer break. It seems Cataclysm - which I have been checking now and then through Beta - will include lots of opportunities to play around with guildmates and get some nice guild-rewards. This was enough to renew my interest to World of Warcraft for a while.

I feel I'll be updating this blog more often now...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

On holidays, beta invitations and mental health

It is amazing what a few days of holidays can do. Relax you, give you some time to think ahead, catch up. I have to admit there have been lots going through my head as I was packing my mountain-bike and trying to keep the dog calm on the back seat, the day my wife and me started our holiday.

Little I knew these days would make a huge difference in my recent approach to World of Warcraft…

The few months before this break found me skeptical of my WoW involvement and the ‘keenness’ of experiencing what we call ‘the end game’. I spent some time getting the Loremaster achievement, the achievement that means most to me. You see I love Warcaft lore and getting it kinda felt… appropriate. But apart from that there have not been many things I truly went after. Maybe the ICC drake for the 10-player heroics, but I am close to it and I will have my chances.

So as I logged before the holidays I felt I would not… hunger for WoW for a while.

It took me a week…

I got a beta invitation for Cataclysm and, although I have no means of downloading the client etc in my holidays, that kinda stirred something. I went to see screenshots of Cataclysm on MMO-Champion. The guild forum became busier and people started assembling for those 25mans– slowly but it is happening. Holiday season seems to reach its end.
And once again I realized how happy I am with my enthusiastic yet reasonable approach towards the game. I do like World of Warcraft, but not at the expense of my other hobbies and leisure. I like schedules, sign-ups, programs and goals. Planning ahead.

And taking some time to… catch my breath.

Holidays are indeed over. But it looks once again that WoW is not…

Catch you on the flipside…

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Quick 'n' Dirty - VI

Felt like writing but have nothing specific to talk about. Or at least anything controversial, interesting or indeed though provoking.

We have been steadily progressing though ICC, having killed Putricide and Valithria last week on 25-player and everything up to Sindragosa on 10-player. Notice the politically correct use of `player' instead of man. Mainly out of courtesy to our female players. Yes we got a few and I must admit they are just as good if not better as their male peers. But that is beside the point... if there is one in this post...

Where was I? Ah yes, Putricide, Valithria and our new target, Queen Lana'thel. I must admit I find these encounters, or all of ICC for that matter infinitely more refreshing than ToC encounters, or indeed Ulduar ones. I wont even discuss the difference in the feeling of immersion of ICC, a rich instance in terms of areas, compared to the blunt Trial arena. The encounters themselves seem to me like a very nice combination of different mechanics. Movement, situational awareness, raw output, phases - all seem to be nicely orchestrated and combined, making the encounters challenging in a more involving way than in the past. It still does not beat the feeling I had with Black Wing Lair but hey, different times.

And on top of all, the Gunship encounter. For me, this is one of the most enjoyable encounters, mainly because it reminds me of Pirates, Start Wars and Boba Fett (The Return of the Jedi rumble over Sarlacc's Pit). I mean, how cool is that? Jumping off the Alliance ship, with rockets on the back, landing in the midst (or something close) of battle. This has to be one of the most immersive fights!

All of the above would be even more enjoyable, if it was not for the stupid lag of the past weeks. Nevertheless, we had some nice raid days the past week, around challenging encounters and a constant smirk in my face as I look froward to meeting him again...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Lag, gear, raid fillers and poor performance

Its been a while since I posted here and the reason was once again too much work in the way. I have been travelling the last week and I have been having chain meetings the week before. Being exhausted from the whole thing had a sever impact in my performance in guild raids. Granted, I have never been our guilds best healer but sometimes I feel I am just not outputting enough and I am not helping my guild.

So, I have been thinking about what needs to be done, insight to my performance etc. My conclusions? As with anything in Warcraft I sometimes I feel I got the right excuses. Other times that I am just fooling myself, or simply trying to find excuses for being poor. But in any case here is my brainstorm...

Real Life tiredness:

Its probably the most important reason but raiding after a tiresome day or a trip in the Middle East definitely has an impact on performance. I have noticed that after some time my responses are much slower, my anticipation of incoming damage is crap and I generally make poor judgements. What I am optimistic about though is when I fuck up, I know what happened. I just need to fix it. And start getting some sleep before raids. After all I DO raid to relax and get my mind of things so I might as well be more... prepared for it.


I must admit I have slacked in getting proper gear. Things of course did not improve by missing a few raids or working on my own on my toon but I have also been reluctant in mix-and-matching new items as they come. In other words I have not been bold enough and thought a bit too much on what items I should have. However, I started tweaking things yesterday and I feel this can be solved easily.

And my favourite subject of all, the grand excuse as I say...

Tech healing vs Nuke healing:

(Check here for differentiation, I often call tech-healing anything that does not involve an HL nuke)

Yes, I know its being used a lot as an excuse but in my case its probably very applicable. I have been closely monitoring my performance on 10-mans and I must admit I have no problems there. In fact I have been doing just fine. I always felt 10-mans are more challenging, there is a lot of player-intervention due to the smaller number of raiders. Simply put, there is more room to heal, dps and make a difference. Now, being a Technical healer since I remember myself I am used to having a `pace' in my healing rotations that accommodates the 10-man damage patterns more than anything. In those scenarios you do not only need to output more, but in the right time. And you need to do that along with your healing peer or peers. That is - in my humble opinion - the ultimate challenge. And I have been feeling that on the healing front 10-mans are much better tuned than 25-men. Or - if its not the raid mechanics themselves - two or three healers of different class work better together than a mixture of 6,7 or 8 classes .

Now, monitoring our raids for the last few days I noticed that nuking paladins make a huge impact. Granted, in some scenarios they can not keep up with aoe-healing classes. But generally speaking the Holy-Light splash seems to work just fine. Only recently I had to adjust my healing to err on that side after some... insight, former guild-mates. Now, call me stubborn or a dinosaur. I just can not do it to the max. I feel its immensely more fun to try to squeeze that Flash of light in the right time. Unfortunately I have to keep up with times. And I have always been a `mainstream' person, hence I am reluctant in going for a proper Flash of Heal build (which needs some fine gear to work properly). I have been therefore constantly trying to pick up my healing output, while not loosing much on awareness and mobility. Although I have had some silly deaths the few recent weeks - 90% of which where because I either tried to do too much of took calculated risks which obviously were not calculated properly :-p - I was always proud of my awareness. But check point 1 and you will see how it all comes together...

At the end of the day though, I have been wondering what is the importance of that person at the bottom of the healing meter list - where I have been ending up quite a bit. Could the raid do without? Well. Probably. But just to give myself a pat on the back - excuses excuses... - it you take that person, the filler as I like to call it - you will most probably crumble. Cause healing is not only about how much. Its also about when. And if that person at the bottom of the list heals in a timed manner, the odd heal might make a difference in dying or being repeatedly healed by different healers. In other words, I'd like to believe I am the one that prevents death, while others just fill up your healthpoints bar...

Unfortunately, Silvermoon server is in a very bad state and lag is more abundant than bones in Icecrown. Lag is definitely not helping us a lot and trying to Tech-heal in such an environment is just impossible. So I end up trying to nuke, which seems not to work as I'd like it to be.

All of the above might be simply an excuse and the real reason of my poor performance is not being able to cut it any more. But, one thing I've got is being stubborn. Extremely stubborn. And I still have not said my last word...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

On marriage, honeymoon and Gearscore

After a brief break, involving a marriage, a honeymoon in NYC, lots of shopping, Rock of Ages, Nicks vs Bobcats, Nutcracker, Tavern on the Green, lots of walking around, Xmas, carols and a variety of greasy food I am back in the world of Azeroth and my not-so-frequent blogging. Catching up on Frost emblems and Ashen Verdict reputation naturally involved the odd PUG. And although the new LFG gimmick works quite nicely for my 5-man ventures I am still reluctant to join challenging runs of more than 5 toons.

Nonetheless, in an effort to overcome my fears, aided from missing all ICC guild raids this week, I was keeping an eye on the general chat. The debate was on Gearscore, the controversial add-on which you eventually (probably) end up hating. And it made me think...

Using the sum of a set of values and ending up with a scale is a fairly simple notion. Add-up all the item levels and there you go. You just compare sums between them, or categorise them.

Good? Well, not really. Bearing in mind having the best item level in our gear is not always the best option (considering class design, BiS items etc) the scale is not descriptive (or comparative) among classes. A GS of 5200 for a Paladin might effectively be worse than that of say 5165. Or 5200 for a DK is not the same as for a warrior for example. Moreover, its purely indicative of the gear a player has obtained. Which, granted, does say something about someone's experience/skill but can often conceal a lot. On the other hand, Blizz themselves use a similar approach in the achievements score. So as an approach is not necessarily flawed. People end up debating about GS, advocates claiming its a scale that does show effectively how far your toon has been in raiding, where as the opposition claims that it does not depict skill and it is a crude way of selecting people for a run.

I personally hate it for a number of reasons. One, its badly implemented (knocking the add-on, not the scaling method) due to the high lag it causes. Silvermoon EU is probably one of the laggiest servers around anyway. Using GS during raiding is a definitive nono and we often had trouble with it in the past.

Moreover, it definitely does not show how good/skilled one is but it does show how dependable one *might* be - kind of like minimising the risk by getting in a run someone who at least seems to have gone the extra mile. I personally still consider the Armoury as a whole to be more descriptive as its kind of like your toons Curriculum Vitae. Obviously using the Armoury in order to assemble a PUG is kind of an overkill but in my eyes its the only way to maximise the probability of ending up with a decent raid. And that is what handed us a descent run (5/12 and almost 6/12 10-player ICC) yesterday. Not bad for a PUG.

Last but not least, GS disrupts the flow of raiding within the community. The latter being because everyone and their mother is asking for a GS of 5xxx while their GS is crap. Only to be 'carried' on someone's back and get loot. People that have been away from the game for various reasons can not catch up, unless something gives. Bearing in mind people ask both GS and achievements in order to accept one in a run catching-up can be very frustrating.

To sum things up, I am now a married man, the honeymoon was lots of fun, Rock of Ages is wicked, Nicks won, Tavern on the Green was marvellous but stopped serving till God knows when, Xmas is over, greasy food out of the system and GearScore sucks.

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