Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Scheduling

WoW is very quiet lately. Everything appears to be in a holding pattern, waiting for the next patch and the Burning Crusade.

My guild is still trying to move forwards, but we're running into scheduling problems. We have a small number of raiders, which is great because you can always get into a raid, but now that we are working on Vael we need a full raid to show up. We usually do MC Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesday, and reserve the rest of the week for Blackwing Lair.

Unfortunately, Saturday is the day we've always had the lowest attendance, and that's making Vael attempts hard. (People aren't avoiding Vael, we get good attendance on the other nights, but Saturdays we just have lower attendance.)

I think we're going to try and juggle the schedule a bit, and do MC on Saturday, and BWL on the weeknights. Hopefully that will lead to more progress.

It's amusing, but in many ways a good chunk of a raid guild leadership's time is taken up with logistics.

In a lot of ways Blizzard makes the process harder than it should be. Take the reset times of Onyxia and the 20-man raids. Onyxia resets on a 5-day timer, and ZG and AQ20 are on three day timers. This means that they change from week to week, causing havoc with schedules.

For example, there was a post from a small guild on the Raid Forums, asking if there was any way to set up a consistent weekly raiding schedule for ZG such that they could clear all the priests on Raid Day 1, and do Hakkar and Jindo on Raid Day 2.

You can't do this with only 2 raiding days, but you can with 3:

Day 1 - Raid
Day 2 - Raid
Day 3 - skip
Day 4 - Raid

This schedule guarantees that at least 2 of the three raids will be in the same lockout period. Probably be a different two each week, but still. The 3rd raid will also be in a different lockout period, so you can get the maximum number of bosses possible per week.

Onyxia also causes juggling, but it is mitigated by the fact that Onyxia is fairly quick to do.

All of this is just petty annoyances for a guild. I like the idea of lockouts, because they allow a guild to work on an instance over several nights, and also allows Blizzard to slow down the influx of high-end loot into the world.

But lockouts should be based on the natural schedules of people, rather than arbitrary numbers. And the natural schedule for most people is the week. My preference would be for ZG and AQ20 to have a 3-day lockout followed by a 4-day lockout. And Onyxia could go to 7 days or the new ZG schedule. All instances reset at the same time each week.

Being able to make simple, predictable schedules would be a great boon to raiding guilds, or guilds looking into raiding. Hopefully lockouts in the Burning Crusade are based around the week, making for natural scheduling.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quests That Should Have Been Epic

The one thing WoW has done really poorly is rewards at level 60. Restricting epics to raids was a mistake in my opinion. For most of the game there was a decent balance between rewards for instances, and rewards for quests. However, at 60, the balance swings way too much towards instances. There are some questlines that are epic in scope, and really deserve epic rewards.

Here's my list of quests that deserved epic rewards:

1. Tirion Fordring questline

This is one of the best loved questlines in the game. It takes you across Eastern Plaguelands, to Stratholme, and to Hearthglen as you help Tirion Fordring seek redemption. It's a gorgeous questline, and the rewards are quite good, but if they were bumped up a notch, this quest would be perfect.

2. The Lich, Raj Frostwhisper questline

This quest takes you from Scholomance, to Stratholme, and back to Scholomance as you seek the key to defeating Raj Frostwhisper. It's quite long and involved, and very few people actually do the whole questline. I've actually gotten more whispers about my Warblade of Caer Darrow than any other piece of gear. By the time most people would have completed the questline, they've moved on to raiding instead.

3. Hero of the Fallen Horde questline

This one has you fighting in the Blasted Lands, seeking to destroy Razelikh the Defiler. I remember forging the Sword needed to defeat his Servants, and the questline culminates in an awesome battle atop the Defiler's Rise.

4. Dawn's Gambit questline

I'll be honest, I haven't even finished this questline yet. It's the one where you have to collect the eggs from Upper Blackrock Spire and then go to Scholomance and defeat Vectus and his students. I just don't feel like going back to UBRS.



Personally, I love these long, involved questlines. They are a fair amount of work, and really deserve to have better rewards. Hopefully, end level questlines in Burning Crusade will have improved rewards.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Loot!

Loot always seems to come in waves for me. I go a long time without seeing anything, and then I get lots of stuff at once.

This past weekend, I picked up:

[Zandalar Freethinker's Belt] - ZG
[Hand of Edward the Odd] - AQ20
Holy Light: Rank IX - AQ20
[The Immovable Object] from AV

Pretty good haul for one weekend. Makes up for the last couple months. The Hand of Edward the Odd is pretty interesting. It's almost a perfect weapon for my playstyle. It's fast, has decent DPS, good caster stats, and makes some of your heals instant cast. I've enchanted it with Crusader and it is a great deal of fun.

It actually makes me want to respec back to Protection. I'll probably stay the same until the next patch though, and the free respec. It's interesting that Blizzard is releasing the new talents before the expansion. I wasn't really expecting that. I was expecting the new honor system and such, but I didn't think they would release the talents separately from the increase in the level cap.

Ah well, the cynical among us can look upon it as an extra month of intensive beta-testing.

Edit: Heh, I forgot the one item I actually spent DKP on: Onyxia's Head. I got it more for the quest and getting to hang the Head up in the Stormwind Gates. But it did get me a [Dragonslayer's Signet].

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

SoC versus SotC

Some commenters have questioned the tradeoff in the last post. I don't deny that you do give up a significant amount of damage by not using SoC. To my mind, though, the added flexibility and regeneration of SotC make up for it.

However, not everyone will agree with my valuation of the tradeoff. So let's examine some cold numbers.

Let's take a paladin with 1000 AP, a 3.8 speed weapon with 75 DPS, and +300 dmg/heal. Assume she is fighting a mob with 40% damage reduction. Also assume that she is spending all of her time attacking.

Let A be her Attack Power.
Let s be her weapon speed.
Let d be her DPS.
let P be her spellpower
Let R be the percentage of damage that gets through the armor.

Base dps = [d + a/14]*R = 87.9 dps

SoC dps = [ds + as/14]*0.7*7/60 + 0.29*P*7/60 = 55.6 dps

SotC dps = 306/14 * R = 13.1 dps

So basically, the SoC paladin is doing 143.5 dps compared to the SotC paladin's 101 dps. So by going SotC you sacrifice about 42 dps, or about 30% of your damage.

(I am ignoring crits, talents, and time spent not meleeing. Most of this affects both sides equally. I'm also ignoring Judgement of Command, as I don't think it would really be spammed by a melee-healing paladin. It does add another 30 dps or so, if spammed constantly.)

So the tradeoff becomes 30% less damage in exchange for 40% more Light/Wisdom procs, increased chance of renewing Judgements, and added flexibility in chosing when to start a heal.

Given that paladin damage is last on my list of priorities in a raid (though it is still on the list!), it's a tradeoff that I am willing to make.

As an aside, note that in either case, the majority of a paladin's damage comes from her base damage. The numbers seem relatively reasonable to me, though the weapon DPS is a bit high. You can always use your own values in the equations and see how your personal trade-off works. SoC does scale though, while SotC does not, so the better your gear is, the more attractive SoC becomes.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Swing Timers and Seal of the Crusader

It's been drilled into paladins for a long time that "slow weapons that do a lot of damage per hit are better". But this is not always true. In my view, faster weapons are better for raiding.

Slow weapons ARE better for doing damage with Seal of Command. There's no question about that. However, damage is not the main purpose of a paladin in raids, and so perhaps looking at different weapons is a better idea.

It all comes down to swing timers. Casting a non-instant spell resets your swing timer. So to get into a rhythm, a melee-healing paladin with a 3.8 speed weapon goes something like this for every 10s or so:

1.5s - Flash of Light
3.8s - Swing
1.5s - Flash of Light
3.8s - Swing
---
10.6s

The problem with this is that it's not very flexible. You have to wait a long time between swings to get off heals. If you don't wait long enough before healing, your swing doesn't go off. If you miss once, there's a good chance that you will fail to refresh your Judgment.

In contrast, let's look at the same paladin wielding a 2.2 speed weapon:

1.5s - Flash of Light
2.2s - Swing
1.5s - Flash of Light
2.2s - Swing
1.5s - Flash of Light
2.2s - Swing
---
11.1s

With a faster weapon, it's easier to weave Flashs in between your swings. Less swings are "lost" due to casting a Flash early, and the paladin has more opportunities to connect with the opponent, increasing the chances of renewing a Judgement.

This can be even further improved by using Seal of the Crusader. SotC will reduce the swing timer even further. The 3.8 spd drops to 2.7 spd, the 2.2 spd to 1.6s. This makes it even easier to weave healing and melee together.

Additionally, SotC does add a little more damage, and increases the amount of procs you get by 40%. In a raid setting, you can pretty much guarantee that Judgement of Light and Wisdom will always be up, so you get additional procs from both.

It's for these reasons that I feel that Seal of the Crusader is actually the best Seal for a raiding paladin. It's not as spectacular as Seal of Command, but it is far more consistent, and allows a paladin to use her other abilities to larger effect.

To sum up, for Seal of the Crusader:

Pros
- more damage than Seal of Light/Wisdom
- 40% more Light/Wisdom procs
- easier to refresh judgments
- easier to weave healing and melee swings

Cons
- less damage than Seal of Righteousness/Command
- no extra damage from Judgement of Righteousness/Command

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Loot Drought

Nothing new is happening. We kill bosses, paladin loot does not drop.

It's been so long since I've gotten anything really good. I've been in this guild for about a month and a half, and I've only picked up an A20 book, and two blue items (admittedly, my Gavel is just shy of epic). Meanwhile, a rogue who joined with me has gotten 5/8 Nightslayer and a Qiraji Sacrificial Dagger.

I have a lot of DKP, just waiting for paladin loot to actually drop. I almost bid on an Untamed Blade today. I pretty much would have zero use for it, but it looked pretty cool, and so was tempting. Probably would have won it too.

I'm generally pretty easy-going about loot, but seriously, this is excessive.

Nothing much else to talk about in WoW. No real issues to discuss. If you want my opinion on something, post in the comments. At least it will give me something to write about.