Holy Power Rangers!

Sadly, I missed my chance to get into this month’s Twitter Developer chat, but the news that was revealed turned out to be a massive shift for us paladins. It appears that the mechanic change that was mentioned earlier, did actually make it’s way to the public sooner than I  had expected. Contrary to my belief from the last post that this change would be “controvercial”, I actually don’t feel that it will be that much of a problem to most of the paladins who are out there.  Well at least to the ones who play Paladins for the class and lore, and not just because they can sometimes get the job done by being facerollers.

The actual change is quoted below:

All of the paladin specializations will make use of a new resource called Holy Power. Holy Power accumulates from using Crusader Strike, Holy Shock, and some other talents. Holy Power can be consumed to augment a variety of abilities, including:

  • An instant mana-free heal: Word of Glory
  • A buff to increase holy damage done: Inquisition
  • A massive physical melee attack for Retribution paladins: Templar’s Verdict
  • Holy Shield’s duration is now extended by Holy Power
  • Divine Storm’s damage is now increased by Holy Power

We also introduced several new heals for Holy Paladins including Healing Hands (an AoE heal-over-time that is applied to all players standing near the paladin), Light of Dawn (a cone heal with a 30-yard range), as well as a new heal called Divine Light, which is similar to a priest’s Greater Heal, and the new instant heal mentioned above, Word of Glory.

Q: Can you give us a sneak peek at one or two of the new Retribution abilities or talents?
A. Templar’s Verdict: An instant weapon attack that causes a percentage of weapon damage. Consumes all applications of Holy Power to increase damage dealt:

  • 1 Holy Power: 55% Weapon Damage
  • 2 Holy Power: 125% Weapon Damage
  • 3 Holy Power: 225% Weapon Damage

Word of Glory: Consumes all Holy Power to heal a friendly target for a specific amount per application of Holy Power (0 mana cost, 0 cooldown, instant cast)

Holy Power Ranger

Holy Power Ranger

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A Nip and a Tuck

No, this post isn’t about blood elf fasion statements, it’s instead about the new, smaller talent trees and paladin changes announced in the last beta build. With some recent information, it also looks like paladins will be getting another nip and tuck. Seems the devs over at Blizzard still don’t have a true grasp on what they want a paladin to be. Now-a-days I almost have a feeling that the Paladin should have been added as a hero class instead of the Death Knight, the way things are going.

Most parts of me are still underage.

Most parts of me are still underage.

Anyway, according to GC, it looks like another close look is being given to the paladin class, and how they should function. In addition, we again get to wait a little longer than everybody else to get some information on our new talent changes… Crusader’s Patience, my fellow paladins, patience.

These are old talents. This is not the paladin revamp that we said was coming. Sorry, you’ll just have to wait a little bit longer. (Source)

Here’s what else they had to say:

I’m going to regret saying this, but the paladin trees are the most changed in the game. There are only a few of the current beta talents that survived the, um, cleansing. (Source)

Again? Why do we have to have the most changed class every expansion.  One answer, no design focus. Again, us paladins will get to learn our way through new mechanics, and push on up to catch up with the other classes who may have had fewer changes.  Even compared to the Hunters whose resource management completely changed. I’m a bit jaded. I’ve been through nearly all the changes, especially some of the newer ones. I died a little on the inside when Illumination was nerfed from it’s 100% regen down to its current 30% (even down from the previous 60%). I wasn’t a fan of the 50% decrease in healing power when Divine Plea was activiated. I felt a shift when they removed the “all holy damage” from Divine Storm. I cringed when they turned Crusader Strike into a slap from a wet noodle. So basically, I’m used to the paladin class getting smacked around by the nerf bat, and the feeling of utter amusement when they become OP for just a little while.

On the other hand, Paladin’s aren’t OP. Ever tried raid healing as a paladin? Ever tried to top DPS the charts on a boss with a silence? Ever tried to tank a boss with a silence? It’s not fun, and greatly affects the paladin class in each situation. I’m sure some will feel that it is very situational, and that every class has these problems; and I would agree, however, paladins always seem to get the short end of the stick every expansion.

In the Ret case, we started with a basic question: what is it they should be managing? There are a lot of things they *could* be managing. Today it’s cooldowns. It could be mana or procs or a lot of things. There was one Ret talent in particular we really liked, and we started building a rotation around it. Then we decided the mechanic was good enough to flesh out for Holy and Prot too.
We’re not ready to share the design just yet, and like all changes of this sort, it will be controversial. Some players crave a more interactive rotation. Some like their paladins the way they are. Some are only attracted to the class because it can be overpowered and they like to feel like a superhero.(Source)

I myself have craved some more interactivity when playing as a Ret paladin, and feel that it would be a welcome change. However, the mention of integrating this mechanic, that was obviously brought about from discussions about “what a ret paladin should manage”, into Holy and Protection concerns me. Especially with no mention as to what that mechanic is. How far do they plan to change our class? I’m sure, as he said, it will be controversial, and yet another part of me will die, but I will hold true, and continue my adventure as a paladin. I never felt like a superhero, except that one time just before WotLK came out. I have felt like a cockroach (and called one) when I do some old school raids with friends, but other than that, I kind of feel pretty equal, and sometimes underpowered compared to other classes; yet again, situational.

Again, as usual, this is only beta. So there really aren’t many conclusive decisions that we can make. In fact I haven’t jumped into any of the Paladin Talent Trees yet, simply because they seem so unfinished. But, once we get more information, I’ll be sure to share it here.

The Aftermath before the Cataclysm

Yes, that title is a bit dyslexic, but oh well. I promise that this will be my last RealID post, now that it seems to have cooled a bit, and is now easier to handle and examine. As of this afternoon, about lunch time, Mr. Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard, denounced his robot overlords, and with a level head and group discussion renounced the usage of real names in the Blizzard forums. It will instead be using CharacterName.CharacterCode. This will obviously provide the same functionality, in that it gives a central alias that all characters branch from, allowing more folks to know who is actually posting; however, I don’t think that it will really remove the abundance of trolls that roam under the bridges of the Official Forums.

It seems that Shade’s Internet Dragons have won the day!

After following several conversations, and threads on the subject, I don’t believe that it is over. This is likely only the beginning. You see Activision is still that dark cloud hovering over Blizzard.  They still have a say in the decisions made by the boys in Blue. There is still the possibility that contract changes can be made, giving Activision more power, and making Blizzard have that much less control over the content they provide. However, they must be vigilant, just as we must. I believe that Linedan said it best, when he cast Vigilance on Mr. Kotick (CEO, President and Board Member of Activision Blizzard), as it is likely that there will be some ninja aggro being picked up by him.

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Automatic LFD?

Ever had a strange feeling that another change was going to come along the line, somehow linked to a recent change? I seem to get those a lot when Blizzard announces changes, especially with expansions. In this case, I had a feeling that there was going to be a change to the LFD tool, linked to the new Talent Tree and Specialization changes.

Automatic LFD?

Automatic LFD?

Last night, I had an interesting thought about the new talent trees, and the requirement to choose a Specialization. Since you are required to choose which tree you are going to focus on, it is assumed that this information is stored about your character, including those with Dual Spec. Basically, if you chose Holy as one spec and Protection as the other, those become your specializations for each of those trees.  This is then “hardcoded” into your character.

Now, since the system now knows that you are a certain Specialization, and really doesn’t allow you to create crazy Holy/Ret DPS specs, it can also determine what roles you can play in a PuG using the LFD tool. Basically, is this change going to remove the possibilities that, for example, a Ret paladin can sign up as a tank on the LFD tool, and in turn get a quicker queue, in turn gimping the group? I see this as a good thing, but also can see some setbacks.

First up, DPS specialized characters, can’t “fudge” their way into a quicker queue by signing up as a Tank, simply because the system knows that they are not a tank, and will automatically mark them as DPS. I guess the same goes for Healers or even tanks, signing up as another role.

Example 1: All available, if your class can accomodate those roles.

Example 1: All available, if your class can accomodate those roles.

Example 2: Roles restricted based on the Specializations you have chosen.

Example 2: Roles restricted based on the Specializations you have chosen.

There would be setbacks though. For example, I have often used the LFD tool, but only marked healing, so that I would have a little time to finish up some quests before the instance popped up. The obvious solution for this would be to lock out all other roles dependant on your specialization, and then allow you to choose which of those you really want to queue as. There would be another setback though.  Even though a Ret Pally may have signed up as tank, and can’t tank at all, they at least have a group formed up, and can then drop/pick up as they need.  Time will still be an issue, but not as much as it was while waiting for the dialog to even pop up, since now, your group is at the top of the queue.

Anyway, this was just a quick post to toss that idea out there.  What do you all think, is it a possibility?

Ze Mastery, it be changin’

Big changes were just released by the boys of Blizz. Sounds like there is going to be a big change in the way that Mastery is going to be determined, as well as how the Talents are going to (or not) affect them. Below is the post on the changes directly from Zahrym.

Mastery & Specialization

Mastery & Specialization

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How Real should it get?

Wow, it looks like the Cataclysm came early.  It seems that Blizzard’s player base has been torn asunder, with fissures and vents forming everywhere. Some have simply left the game, while others are unsure of their future with our favorite MMO, while even others feel that the new RealID feature may be a good thing. Anyway, here is my two copper on the whole RealID concept, and it’s plusses and minuses.

Battle.net & RealID

Battle.net & RealID

I myself am a bit split. I have taken advantage of the feature already in-game. It is really nice to be able to see when Friends are on, even if they’re hiding.  I’ve even been able to connect with some of my friends from Australia from my Halo 2 days.

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Open the floodgates!

Well, it looks like the flood gates have been opened. As I arrived home from work yesterday after picking up the kids, I checked my twitter feed, which was empty before I left work. Now as I look at the notification bar on my phone, there are nearly 250 tweets from everybody and their brother. Looks like the NDA is lifted, the Alpha is over, and the Beta is to begin.

The Flood Gates have Opened.

The Flood Gates have Opened.

There are some fellow bloggeres, those of whom I will not hold a grudge nor covet, who revealed that they were in the Friends and Family Alpha, and are now in the Beta. I cried a little on the inside, but then I remembered… I was “in the alpha”, just not a functional questing/dungeon crawling/lore finding version.

I will not lie, I had a copy of the Alpha client, and in turn a local sandbox to play in. I will not reveal where I got it, though, simply to protect those who happened to make it available, and in turn give me this little peek into the Cataclysm. Sure, I had no NPCs, no quests, no items, and mostly broken terrain and the occasional complete system lockup, but it was still fun to see the new content. In fact it got me even more excited about the upcoming expansion.

Anyway, with the new information flowing onto the web, I hope to bring you some speculation on the upcoming Paladin changes.  Most likely I will focus on the Holy and Protection trees, but will touch on Retribution as well.

So, for now, I leave you with my favorite shot of a very inquizitive Deathwing… guess he’s wondering what you’re doing at his welcome back party.

Hey... did you bring the cake?

Hey... did you bring the cake?

Nostalgia’d

Nope, I’m not dead, or MIA, or AWOL, whichever you’d prefer. But I am peeking my head over this pile of work that I’ve had lately. With a mix of a busy work week, and magically turning our pool from deep green to blue, all while prepping for a trip with the kids to visit some family out of state. Let’s just say that there hasn’t been much WoW time in there. I’m lucky to get my daily Ahune kill.

Good Old Elwynn Forest.

Good Old Elwynn Forest.

Anyway, on to the subject of this post, nostalgia. When it comes to WoW, I’ve been part of the game if not the community for nearly 4 years now. I’ve seen classes rise and fall, and have seen those class raiders learn and grow along with the raids they explored. I’ve watched as instances sprung up from the forest floors, and carve themselves into mountainsides. Let’s just say that I’ve seen a lot, and remember most of it.

As of recently, with the lull in content, and the anticipation of the new expansion, I’ve made the decision to go back and do every instance that I can, soloing them if possible. I believe that I’m still a few short when it comes to old world dungeons, which I really want to complete as they very well may become unavailable. While doing this, I have finally completed my Explorer achievement, and can now say I’ve been everywhere in Azeroth. In addition I’ve put a decent dent in the Loremaster achievement along the way.

One instance though, brought a rush of nostalgia beyond that experienced from the others I had been through. I believe that this instance seems to have that effect on a lot of folks. This place was my first step into raiding, and provided me with my very first legitimate piece of tier level gear. You see, I have been playing a long time, but have never actually raided until the end of BC. I never had the time or ambition to raid in Vanilla, and kind of regret that, though the time was spent on more important things, like getting my personal self to where I am today.

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Our House, in the middle of our street

Our house it has a crowd /
There’s always something happening /
And it’s usually quite loud /
Our mum, she’s so house-proud /
Nothing ever slows her down /
And a mess is not allowed 

Ah the 80s…. ok, enough nostalgia.

Guild Housing

Guild Housing

 

Anyway, this post is actually about in game housing. It was inspired by a post this week by Honor’s Code on Player Housing. Yet, I’d like to take it a step further into the realm of Guild Housing. 

He does point out several issues, including space and persistance. Each of them providing a very good point, as you can’t just throw a bunch of houses, especially larger houses for guilds, anywhere on the map, and expect it to not cause issues with the terrain. As for the issue of persistance, and the illusion of a bustling town, I believe that I may be able to have a possible solution for this. 

First we’ll hit the issue of space. I do believe that with the announcement that Azeroth is now “flyable”, there would need to be an instanced area used for the guild housing. The look of a town full of houses would work, with an instance in the center. Possibly providing a few storefronts to further immerse the player into feeling like they were entering a town. However, upon entering the instance they would be brought, first, to their guild’s home/headquarters. This would provide a starting point for them to gather their bearings. It could even be treated almost as apartments, but decent size apartments, allowing them to stack slightly to provide more room. I’ve included a few shots of Gilneas below to show this idea (slight spoiler). It shows how much space is really wasted and could be utilized in an instanced area. 

This gives a bit of perspective on the amount of empty space that can be utilized. With this in mind now, imagine a few streets worth of these buildings, each having a few Guild houses to each section of the building. 

Another solution somewhat going along with this, would be to have a town where the buildings themselves are instanced, each door, we’ll say, is instanced. This would create the illusion of a town or “apartment” complex, where upon entering the door, you would be sent to your Guild’s house. This would provide an unlimited (well dependant on server limitations) number of “houses” for each Guild on a particular server. 

This would prevent the issue of a character, or even an entire guild transferring servers. As there is no definitive “area” that their house would exist, but instead it would be a set of variables that would build it upon entering the instance. 

Just think of walking into your Guild house and seeing your tabard up on the wall, maybe even with some trophy kills hung here and there.

Unending Nemesis Guild House

Unending Nemesis Guild House

 

Sure the image I chose is a bit elaborate, but it gives you an idea. Anyway, what could be included in each Guild House would be a Guild vendor, for the new items that are going to be available through the Guild leveling system. Also included would be a Guild Bank/Vault, simply reusing the guild banks already existing would work, or creating a new model for it even. Lastly, it may be good to include a general/trade item vendor, and even a “bartender” for each House. 

Then, to provide the “bustling town” feel, the center of town could be zoned to have trade chat integrated, and several shops could be introduced in the middle providing a gathering place. Possibly even an auction house and bank. It would be a new Sanctuary type area but more integrated with each guild. In addition I would include the basic Forge/Anvil, Inscription book, tailoring specific runes, etc. along with a Flight Master. Of course to top it off, you would have to have a Guild master and tabard vendor, simply because this would be a “Guild Town”.  I would also say that it would be best for it to be a no fly zone, therefore preventing the epeen birdfest that was once Shattrath. This would cover the issue of persistence, as it would likely be a great location for nearly everybody to visit, with the essentials all being in a central location. As for the size of the place itself, it would need to be fairly large, if not to allow Blizzard to “zone” each section (no load screens, though) allowing for lower lag issues. 

A final suggestion, would be a section of town for those who are not in guilds, still allowing them to use the essentials, but also providing a place for them to look for new guilds. This is actually something I have been thinking about for a while, but that will be another post (sorry). 

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Guild Housing. With Cataclysm focusing a bit more on the Guild structure and social factors, it may be something that Blizzard could look into. Just some crazy ideas that came up while I read Honorshammer’s post. 

Would you be interested in Guild Housing? Would you take advantage of it?

Ahune… gesundheit!

He’s big, he’s cold, he falls over when you sneeze. He is Frost Lord Ahune.

Achooone

Achooone

I know that I’m going to sound elitist here, but please, bear with me. I have loved the addition of Holiday Bosses ever since my old guild of local friends used to group up to do the Headless Horseman. I really enjoy the new ability to group up through the LFD tool to get groups for these bosses; and the removal of the dependancy of multiple runs to get a chance at the good stuff. At one time it was difficult to get a group together for these bosses, simply because somebody was already “saved” and couldn’t summon the boss again.

With the new changes, everybody gets one chance at the “special” drops, including the daily Frost Emblems, but can go back as many times as they want for the other standard drops. This does lessen your chance of getting a “special” drop, but also allows Blizz to manage those drop rates closer. It also prevents groups from dropping someone, simply because they can’t summon the boss, which I feel is a good change and removes some of the asshats from the equasion.

There is one thing though. They’re easy. I remember when the Headless Horseman first came out, he was a little tough, multiple phases, stun mechanics, target swapping, stuff folks weren’t used to at the time unless they raided. However, as things have gotten more accessible to the casual player, these things have become “nearly” second nature (not totally, cause there are still those who refuse, or just don’t know how to pay attention and get tunnel-vision). But as time and gear went on, we now overgear these bosses so much that they are hardly a challenge any more.

Alright, melee stay with me.... oh wait, he's already dead?

Alright, melee stay with me.... oh wait, he's already dead?

Now, I understand the fact that the gear that is being dropped doesn’t necessarily match the skills that would be required to make the boss harder, and that the holiday achievement whores (no offense) have to get their fill to complete the meta-achievement. However, this does not mean that the boss can’t be tweaked in some way dependant on the gear of the group.

Just think of Oculus/Ulduar/Any Vehicle Fight. The vehicles are scaled to your gear level, meaning if you are wearing an iLevel 277 piece of gear, then you’re seige engine will be able to take a nuclear bomb to the face. Could the bosses not be scaled the same way?

Here’s my suggestion; scale the boss encounter based on the average of the top pieces of gear of the folks in the group.

Example:
Tank’s top piece: 245
Healer’s top piece: 219
DPS 1’s top piece: 264
DPS 2’s top piece: 232
DPS3’s top piece: 232

245+219+264+232+232 = 1192/5 = 238.4 Average iLevel

This could be weighed towards the lowest average iLevel as well, to scale slightly towards the lower geared folks, especially with the current algorythms being used by the LFD tool. It usually groups 1 or 2 lower geared folks with the higher geared folks, which I think is great, cause it helps get them what they need, at level, without getting frusterated from constant failed attempts.

Now, with the average iLevel set, you could then scale the boss’s HP and damage output based upon that level. I do see how the argument could be made that the fact that the Healer has such a low top iLevel that it may make the encounter too hard, but you also have to think that the tank and dps will likely make up for some of that with the tank’s defensive capabilities, and the DPSs ability to burn the boss quicker. In addition, it will again require some folks to actually think when they enter the encounter. This allows for those folks who grossly outgear an instance/boss to have a little bit of challenge, and in turn continue playing the game more. For Blizzard this would be a win-win situation, as more players on means more players eventually will get invited, which mean more subscriptions.

In fact, I wonder if this would be a safe move for any heroic, simply to keep some challenge in the game. I do believe that it would NOT be beneficial for Raids, as they are often tuned to such a point that it wouldn’t be beneficial, especially with hardmodes out there still challenging groups a good 6 months out.

Personally, it would keep things interesting to me. Not to say that I don’t enjoy flying through a Gundrak run for the daily in a mere 10 minutes (yup, did that last Sunday), but it would make the game feel as if it is growing a bit with you.

Eventually it may be able to get to the point that  you would have a plethora of instances to run (each with their own level of gear) all still challenging, strong at the higher level instances and heroics, while tapering only slightly down as the instances get older, providing less difficulty for lower level instances, but not making them facerolls.

I dunno, what do you all think?

Would you enjoy slightly harder Heroics that scaled with your gear? Would you continue to do more heroics or less because of it?