Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right. And I Fit Right in....

In a forum I frequent, we were discussing when to use a trinket to escape from various stuns/incapacitations. Mainly I was griping about the Rogue ability, sap, and how it seems to last forever in BGs.

Everyone agreed that you NEVER trinket out of sap, just let it go. (and no further explanation) I’m sitting there fuming, because I’ve sat there taking poison damage after getting stunned (note word choice there) and wonder what the heck WHY don’t you trinket out of sap?!?!?

“Well, it’s just like your Pally ability of Repentance; any damage will release you.”

Repentance… huh? Wait… Say WHAT?!?!?!?

*runs over to to look up Repentance*


So what is Repentance?

“Puts the enemy target in a state of meditation for up to a minute. Any damage caused will awaken the target. Usable against Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids and Undead.”

It’s a stun type spell. (Wait, change that, it’s an “incapacitation”) An incapacitation can be broken.

A spell, like Hammer of Justice, is a stun. It can’t be stopped by taking damage.

BTW, this means when I THOUGHT I was getting sapped, I wasn't. I had the wrong "spell" name. It was either Cheap Shot or Kidney shot (more on this at the bottom)

It is learned via the talent tree on tier 7 of Retribution. (which means I intentionally picked it) It is the pre-requisite for Fanaticism, which is why I got it. And, obviously, never read the fine print…

Anyhow, just like sap, if you take any damage (from a DoT or anything else) it will be broken.

Yeah, I made it to level 62 without knowing about this spell. RTFM, L2P and all that (“read the f******g manual” and “learn to play”) I'm a self proclaimed n00b, and even if I'm not necessarily proud of it, I won't hide from the monniker either...

Anyhow, this means I have 2 interrupts (methods of temporarily interrupting a spell cast) including Hammer of Justice. If I use Blessing of Justice, I can get melee induced stuns/ interrupts, but that’s a “luck of the roll” thing, and it only happens 3 times. (and each time it happens it gets shorter: 2 seconds, then 1 second, then 0.5 seconds; aka “diminishing returns”, aka “DR”)

(BTW, does anyone know if I can “reset” this like rogues do by leaving combat? And how to do that, if possible?)

FYI, rogues have the following stuns and incapacitates;

- Cheap shot – stuns 4 seconds – technically can only be used once in combat. BUT, there’s a simple way to do it again: “Vanish”, leave combat, and start again.
- Kidney shot – stuns 5 or 6 seconds

These are full stuns and the target can be damaged while stunned.

The following are incapacitates and any damage to the target will break them:

- Sap
- Gouge
- Blind
- Distract
These can last up to 10 seconds each, if not broken.

When the above abilities are used in the right order and not broken by trinket, bad things happen to you; a “stun lock”. This is where you can easily go from 100% health down to 0% health, while being stunned/incapacitated the entire time.

So, a short story longer: it’s humbling to learn about a “basic” skill/ability like this when I am getting near the top levels, and not back when I learned it (level 33 or so)


Friday, September 25, 2009

A Highway to Hell; More Pain in the Battlegrounds

I hadn’t planned on posting about this, since I already gripe enough about BGs, but I responded to a post over on Gnomageddon’s blog and he, in turn, made a brief mention of it. And, being the type of guy I am, I wanted to “put up” and show the numbers that I mentioned.


Another day, another rough fight in Warsong Gulch. With all the changes in patch 3.2 (I was cautiously optimistic about playing the Battlegrounds (BGs)) the biggest boons should be that most Twinks will stay in non-exp matches, as well as the “full battle only” and not starting with half a team, whicle the other side is fully loaded. My biggest concern was the recent addition of faction change.

So what would this do to the balance of play on Velen?

I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t have much luck in BGs on Velen. I’ve lost exact count, but, pre-patch, I think I’ve won once out of ~25 games. This is Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin (I stopped playing in BGs at level 39, so I never played Alterac Valley) In all those losses, I’m not sure if it was due to Twink imbalance, or just general skill/level balance.

Since the patch I have played 2 BGs and lost both (rather soundly) I was level 62 at the time, so I knew that I personally was going to perform poorly. After all, the hit tables for a level 62 trying to hit a level 69 are poor at best.

The first one I played was my “new one”, Alterac Valley. I was completely lost. We lost by ~125 reinforcements, and I did “ok” (mid pack on the alliance side) Due to the level issue, I’m not sure if there were any Twinks or not, but it went as well as I had expected: an Alliance loss. The strange thing is that I have since read that the Alliance usually wins this BG due to layout. So the loss is not just a bit frustrating, it’s also a tad pathetic…

So, I went over to play the one BGI am pretty familiar with; Warsong Gulch.

We got spanked, HARD. We lost 0-3. Again, not a COMPLETE surprise, until I looked at the end of game stats. (click on the title picture and you can see the actual screen cap)

I was a tad annoyed how the game went down, I wanted to see if maybe the other team was really loaded or something... So, I went through the player list and got info on everyone on the list. Here's the level, class, etc for each team:

Here’s how people did (in decreasing order – Alliance names are changed since this is kinda dissing them) I’m leaving the Horde names in since this isn’t nasty about them. They beat us, and no chicanery was involved.

************* - lvl 67 - arcane mage - Velen
************* - lvl 65 - frost mage - The Underbog
***Me****** - lvl 62 - Ret pally - Velen
************* - lvl 69 - blood DK - Velen
************* - lvl 68 - arms warrior - Underbog
************* - lvl 65 - Feral Druid - terrokar
************* - lvl 62 - ret pally - fizzcrank
************* - lvl 69 - marks hunter - blade's edge
************* - lvl 69 - fire mage - The Scryers
************* - lvl 62 - ret pally- underbog
Average level 65.8

Grimslugg - lvl 65 - BM hunter - Underbog
Shamysorus - lvl 64 - enhance shammy - Velen
Vicdadic - lvl 69 - UNTALENTED DK - underbog
Hanzoo - lvl 69 - assas rogue - azuremist
Khalëd - lvl 67 - prot pally - zangermarsh
Kirai - lvl 64 - blood DK - zangermarsh
Abidoze - lvl 60 - blood DK - grizzly hills
Dotrix - lvl 64 - affliction lock - dawnbringer
Specialops - lvl 69 - combat rogue
Sacredponko - lvl 69 disc priest - arrea 52
Average level - 65.4

We were almost identical level wise...

Yep, that's right, I did better than a frikkin 69 DK in honor points, and wasn’t TOO much lower than him in DPS.

Granted, there was the usual enter/leave game, so the final results are not perfect, but still.

Per the results:

I was 3rd highest damage at 67k (strange, Recount had me at highest, with 94,000)
According to recount, the person I damaged most was Grimslugg, with nearly 27,000 damage to him alone.

An Untalented DK did pretty frikkin awesome! (even if he was on the other side)

Grimslugg is wearing a matched set of purples, so he was equipped pretty well.

It was the textbook example of a zerg fight on our part. (everyone just runs around doing what THEY want to do, with no organization or plan) The Horde had a number of folks that “zerged” as well, but they had several players that grouped up and ran together, which is how they won, and won

Now, I want to point out that I am NOT very good at PvP. Also, this was my second time back into PvP in a couple months, so I was rusty on top of everything.

What does this mean?

A few vague things… The fact that I was near the top COULD suggest that Ret Paladins are overpowered (“OP”) but since there were a couple other Pallies on my team that were near the bottom, possibly not. And it’s not like I kicked Horde butt either.

Overall, I’d say that the Alliance team was, well, sub par. Myself included.

I am now sitting at level 66, I’ve learned a bit more about playing a Pally than I did 4 levels ago (a topic for my next post) and I have also geared myself up quite a bit. At the time I played this BG, I was getting ~ 300 DPS against level 60 Test Dummies. Prior to a couple upgrades while I was still level 64, I had bumped that to 600 DPS in a long fight, and I have hit 700 DPS occasionally in “real world” fights against level 63 mobs. (I also have Seal of Vengeance and Divine Storm now as well) I may have to go back into the BGs before I hit level 70, just to see how much better I can do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cry Havoc! Let Loose the Dogs of War, Vengeance is MINE!!!!

I just dinged level 64, and with that I now have Seal of Vengeance!

Um, ok…. and?

Until now, I have been using either Seal of Righteous (SoR) or Seal of Justice (SoJ). For straight damage/DPS, SoR is preferable because the seal deals extra damage, but against casters (or frikkin Rogues) SoJ is my preferred seal because it can stun/interrupt. I catch some flack for this in some of the forums I visit, (they also strongly argue against my sword & board preference) But hey, it works for me.

I have read in numerous places (for example, that Seal of Vengeance (SoV) is the new hotness. Especially after Seal of Blood sorta went away and Seal of Command got reworked.

But how different in DPS are all these judgments?

I am NOT a theorycrafter, and I don’t even know where to begin to realistically make any calculations. This means I gotta do thing the empirical way: clobber stuff and check out the numbers (Most folks – me included – use Recount, the add-on that records DPS and all sorts of other data: Recount (at )

The ideal way to do this is to find a medium level boss that will take ~2 minutes to kill (solo, obviously) and fight him using the normal attack rotation, one fight each with each seal being used in only one fight. This gives you real world fighting DPS for each variation. There are a couple issues with this that make it a “last line” type of test:

1 – Boss fights are rarely exactly the same, so you end up questioning whether the differences were performance (DPS, etc) or were just a fluke of the fight. Realistically, you need to try at least 3 attempts with each judgment/variation, and with 3 options (in this case) that means 9 individual fights. That takes a lot of time.

2 – Your armor & weapons lose durability every time you fight, and the tougher the fight, the worse it will be. This means you have to trudge to someplace and repair armor/weapons between each test. So an already long procedure just got a LOT longer.

So I did what many folks do and use the test dummies. (this is really only an option when you get to higher levels, since the lowest level dummy is level 60 – meaning anyone below level 56-57 or so would have a hard time doing ANY damage )

First I thought I would just use the judgments alone and see what happened. Due to the nature of Recount, and the 8 second cooldown between judgment spells, it recorded each judgment as an individual battle, and didn’t add/average them.


To avoid this, I decided to alternate casting Judgment and Consecration. Consecration should work well because it produces a pretty consistent damage over time (DoT) with ~87 damage every second.

The results? Very strange: SoR was best and SoV was worst. WHAT?!?!?

Well, in the reading I did, there’s something about SoV proc-ing (a proc is when a special action/result/attack/etc “proceeds” – ie it happens, and the word is shortened to “proc”) and stacking, often with melee auto attacks. (it actually said a lot more, but I’ll be honest; I only understand half of it. What’s a “white attack” anyways? I dunno…)

So I then repeated, using auto attack, and alternating judgment and Consecration every 4 seconds. I let it run for about 2 minutes, stopped and took a screenshot of the results so I could review them later. Here they are:

Seal of Vengeance

Seal of Righteous

Seal of Justice

I put the numbers into a table and did a little calculating so I could see the DPS (and not the %) of each type of attack.

Now we’re getting somewhere!!!

SoV CLEARLY has the advantage. BY ALMOST 100 POINTS!!! And SoJ has a MUCH bigger loss of DPS than I had realized. I still like the stun effect, but I will need to “swap Seals” in mid fight so that I can maintain DPS, and still try to get some stun effects.

I then tried the test dummy with SoV and my normal full attack rotation. (I haven’t had the time to repeat this with the other 2 Seals yet)

And this data put into the chart for comparison:

That’s roughly 609 DPS. Based on some quick addition, I would expect my SoR to be roughly 520 DPS and SoJ to be roughly 475 DPS. THAT IS HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!

My next work will be finishing up "full rotation" data for SoJ and SoR, since it's clear that the Seals *so* get affected by other attacks. So things may be better (or worse)

I will think about doing the tests on some Bosses, now that I have an idea, but we shall see.

I also plan to try out a 2 handed weapon to see just how much damage I'm losing out on. (but that will require a re-spec - theoretically - to get the 2 handed specialization talents) We shall see how much time I want to spend doing this, instead of questing or farming.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Over the River & Through the Woods, and Flight Paths Take the Long Way Home...

I know that filght paths are now "better" than they used to be; you can pick a start & end point of your flying, and not have to land/re-mount at each middle point.

And yes, it WOULD be nice to be able to change your mind mid-flight, or jump off. But that's not what irks me at the moment...

I'm annoyed to no end because of the long, back tracking, circuitous, SLOW routes we have to take to and from many destinations. While my hand edited map may be a *bit* overstated, the fact is that many routes make you loop around, backtrack, or simply take trips across the backside of beyond for no good reason. I realize there's a "realism" to making things take time, and to a point, I can agree. But making the routes take 30, 40 or 50% longer than necessary just seems dumb.

I think someone at Blizzard must be a frustrated ex-employee from Eastern Airlines or any other defunct "hub and spoke" proponent.

The question of "why is it this way?" seems even more apropos since Blizzard has made all the recent changes (patch 3.2 for instance) in an attempt to speed things up. (you know, faster leveling, earlier access to mounts) And yet the one GLARING item they overlook is flying time.

Yes, I need the occasional potty break, or snack trip, but sitting AFK at the flight path of my destination is not THAT big of a deal, and is more of an exception, not a rule. Barring "emergencies", I am usually ready to play in a mnute or so... two at the most. The rest of the minutes tick by in doze inducing tedium.

Hasn't anyone in Azeroth ever heard of a direct flight?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Wanna Fly Away... and now I can! And it's ALL thanks to Takk the Leaper

Thanks to FINALLY finishing the slog & grind to level 60, I now have flying mounts. So, what does Takk the Leaper, a level 17 Raptor have to do with flight?

Read on...

As you know, with the 3.2 patch, the "gettability" of mounts got easier. Since many levels of riding skill are now available at lower levels, they have lowered the cost of ownership. This really has helped speed up the game (though I wish they would fix flight paths, but that's a topic for another day...) You now can get mounts at level 20, Epic mouts at 40, and flying mounts at 60.

And flying mount speed is now 150% WAHOO!!!!

So, come again about Takk?

Training for flying is still a tad pricey: 600 gold. And, much like the real world,I'm not very good at saving. (gold or otherwise) So up until recently, I was only able to gather up about 150 gold or so. That is, until Kattastrophe's alt was traipsing through Dustwallow Marsh.

She was attacked by (and subsequently killed) the Raptor "Dart". An interesting item was in the loot. He drops (100% drop rate) a mini pet, a Darting Hatchling. It turns out that in patch 3.2, there's another neat change, in that 8 dirfferent Raptors in WoW will now drop (100%) companion pets. Dart (and his drop) are one of them. A couple others are the Razormaw Matriarch (in Wetlands), Ravasaur Matriarch (Un'Goro Crater) and dear litte Takk (in the Barrens).

Each of these Raptors (and a couple others) are rare to very-rare spawns, and since their drops are still rather new (and like other pets, bind on use) they are transferrable, desirable, and very expensive in the auction house.
So, I ran by the Barrens, found dear little Takk and killed him dead. Turns out his drop is pretty valuable too.

About 800 gold worth, at least on the Velen server.

Awww... isn't he cute...
(thanks for the gold!)