Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Paladin Guide to Meleeing in Raids

In all the threads and posts on the paladin boards, I don't think I've ever seen a decent guide for paladins new to raiding on how to melee in raids safely and effectively. So here is my stab at it.

1. Know your responsibilities.

A paladin's responsibilities in a raid are, in order of importance:
  1. Cleanse
  2. Keep the tanks alive
  3. Keep the party alive
  4. Buff
  5. Judgement of Light / Wisdom
  6. Add extra damage

2. Know your strengths.

Every other class can only do one thing at a time. Paladins are different. Our greatest strength is that we can fulfill ALL our responsibilities at the same time. Embrace your hybrid nature. You can easily heal and cleanse while meleeing.

As well, our combat system is boring for a reason. Go into melee, judge, seal, and then concentrate on your raid.

There are significant advantages to being in the melee zone. You do not have to worry about losing Line of Sight on the tanks, or being out of range. If Judgement of Wisdom is up, your mana regeneration will be great, and you never have to worry about running out of mana.

3. Know your limitations.

Paladins are not a dps class. You will not do as much damage as a hunter or mage. Trying to compete with them on the damage meters is a fool's game. However, your damage is not insignificant. It adds up and is free. You don't need to spend mana to do damage. In my experience, fights with meleeing paladins go faster and smoother.

What this means is that you shouldn't try and increase your dps at the expense of your other priorities. Wear balanced or healing plate. For example, I have [Cloudkeeper Legplates], but I wear [Chitinous Plate Legguards] in raids (a terrible sacrifice given how ugly Chitinous is). Refrain from judging Command constantly. Personally, I often use Seal of the Crusader, as it adds a little dps but also gives more JoL/W procs.

4. Follow the rogues in.

As a general rule, if it's safe enough for the rogues to melee, it's safe enough for a paladin. If the rogues aren't going in, stay back as well.

5. Open with Judgement of Light or Wisdom.

JoL/W is awesome for the raid! If you are meleeing, make sure that they are up at all times on your target.

6. Do not expect heals.

Priests and druids have better things to do than heal paladins. Your health is YOUR responsibility. Make sure you keep yourself healed. If you take a big hit, or your health drops a bit too far, STEP BACK. Back up out of combat and only go back when you have a safe amount of health.

(Actually, as a healer, I would love it if rogues followed this advice as well. There are many times when a rogue's death could be avoided if she'd only step back for a few seconds and let me complete two or three heals.)

7. Know when NOT to melee.

If you find you are taking too much damage, or need to heal a lot, stand back. These fights are rarer than you think, though. Also watch for certain fights with Silences or Interrupts. For example, the Bat priestess in ZG has an AoE Silence effect. Do not melee if meleeing prevents you from fulfilling your other responsibilities.

8. Attack your tank's target.

If you are assigned to a tank, attack her target, opening with Judgment of Light. JoL helps heal her, and attacking her target means that you will always be in range of your tank for heals and cleanses. Let the DPS classes take care of burning down targets.

However, if your tank is not specifically off-tanking something, attack the main target specified by the raid leader.

Okay, that's my guide to paladin meleeing in raids. Any thoughts or other tips before I actually post this on the paladin boards?

Back Again, Thoughts on Tier 3

After a two week vacation from WoW, I decided to reinstall. Yeah, I'm an addict. Still, taking a break from WoW every once in a while is a good thing. So let me post with some thoughts on Tier 3.

There is a schism in the paladin and raiding community. On one side you have restrictive guilds, who believe that paladins should just stay back and heal. On the other side you have free guilds who believe that paladins should melee and heal. And because the stakes are so low, both sides regard the other as heretics.

(Personal bias: I am firmly in the 'melee and heal' camp.)

The problem with Tier 3 is that it is a clear sign that Blizzard thinks the restrictive guilds are correct.

Of course, the counter-argument is that Blizzard just made a healadin set, like Avenger was a Retribution set. However, I don't think that people really see the Tier sets in that manner. To my mind, Tier sets are your default upgrade path as you progress through the endgame. A warrior replaces her Might armor with Wrath. She will replace Wrath with Dreadnaught. A similar progression happens with the other classes, and should happen with paladins. Redemption should replace Judgement which replaced Lawbringer.

Judgement is the perfect 'base' armor for paladins. It's not the best healing armor, it's not the best damage armor, but it's a solid base set. A hybrid set for a hybrid class. There have always been healing pieces (Peacekeeper, for example) and damage pieces (Legguards of the Fallen Crusader), but the Tier set functions as a solid base.

If Redemption had been an extra set in Naxx, it would have been great. I have extra pure healing gear, just like every other paladin. But for Redemption to be the base, the 'default' set, is an argument that almost totally destroys the 'melee and heal' side of the paladin schism.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Funny Paladin Analogy

From the paladin boards (courtesy of Ctpnplanet):
We are Vegetables. Excellently healthy when grown correctly with skill and patience. Most people underestimate us because of our taste.

However, supporting the human body over and over does get trivial.

We wish to be a fruit, moderately healthy, yet still fun to eat and they get to fufill their true role.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Updated Paladin Description

Blizzard updated the description of the paladin on their website. However, it's not quite accurate yet. I'll finish the job for them (changes in italics):
Upholders of the Holy Light and defenders of the Alliance, the Paladins can be found from the northern forests of the Tirisfal Glades, fighting back the advance of the Forsaken, to the southern reaches of the Blasted Lands, ceaselessly upholding their vigil against demonic forces from beyond the Dark Portal. Wielding their mighty hammers and the strength of the Light, these holy warriors command forces in battle, continuously throwing themselves into the fray healing the warriors wherever the fighting is the thickest.

The Paladin is a mix of a melee fighter and a secondary spell caster. The Paladin is ideal for groups due to the Paladin's healing, Blessings, and other abilities. Paladins can have one active aura per Paladin on each party member and use specific Blessings for specific players. Paladins are pretty hard to kill, thanks to their assortment of defensive abilities. The Paladin can also heal with Holy Light, unlike other combat classes. The Paladin is an Undead specific fighter as well, with several abilities designed to be used against the Undead (not the Forsaken though, they aren't Undead).

Paladins are the consummate knights clerics in shining armor, meant to be in the thick of things standing in the back. Their defensive abilities allow them to stand toe to toe with monsters and take a beating if the monster gets away from the front-line fighters. This is not the The sole purpose of a Paladin, of course, is to use their auras, seals, heals and resurrection spells give them the chance to act as a support healer.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Extensive Paladin Changes, Part II

Continuing on from Part I.

15. Make Spiritual Focus a baseline ability and apply to all spells.

We are melee characters. Spellcasting in melee should be second nature to us.

16. Increase Righteous Fury to 2.0x threat, and Improved Righteous Fury to 2.5xthreat.

No more Salvation, so we need to up our threat output.

17. Put Seal of the Crusader as an 11pt talent in the Holy Tree. Increase the attack power bonus by 25%.

To give the trees a bit more identity, each tree gets a unique seal at 11pts, and a unique aura at 21pts. Crusader is a good seal for the Holy tree, working nicely with Judgement of Light and Wisdom.

18. Add Seal of Faith as an 11pt talent in the Protection Tree. "Your attacks instead deal Holy damage equal to 80% of weapon damage."

Converts your physical damage to Holy damage. Really good against heavily armored opponents and for tanking with Righteous Fury. However, damage against an average opponent should still be slightly less than Righteousness.

Against 30% damage reduction:

Comand > Crusader = Righteousness > Faith

19. Add Ablation Aura as a 21pt talent in the Protection Tree. "Damage taken by party members is reduced by 0.02% of their Intellect."

Our answer to the 10% damage reduction of Defensive Stance. A decent amount of mitigation for characters with high Int, but relatively little for warriors. A tanking warrior should still prefer Devotion Aura. 500 Int = 10% reduction. Also continues our subtheme of protectors of the cloth.

20. Replace Sanctity Aura with Dominion Aura as a 21pt talent in the Retribution tree. "Damage done by party members is increased by 3%."

We make our allies stronger. Plus, with the loss of Salvation, this is a double-edged sword in PvE. And unlike Sancity, this works all the time and for all damage. 3% may be a little low, could be as high as 5%.

21. Add a new Aura to the Holy tree. Quite honestly, I can't think of anything particularly stylish to add here. Maybe something offering extra resistance to stuns, interrupts, and fears.

22. Add in the Guard talents to flesh out the Protection tree.

Between Guard, the new Reckoning, Seal of Faith, and Ablation Aura, Protection should be pretty interesting.

23. General clean-up of talents. Most talents are okay, but you'd need a replacement for Spiritual Focus, Improved Seal of the Crusader, and Improved Concentration. I'd also improve Pursuit of Justice to 6/12%, but still not stacking. It's now strictly better than the enchant, but not overly crazy.

24. Make Hammer of Wrath still fire once it has started casting.

People drinking a potion when you're in the middle of a cast and thus cancelling the spell is silly. The potion will probably save them from being killed by the Hammer, they shouldn't also avoid it entirely.

So that's about it for changes I'd I'd make to the paladin. Nothing major is changed, the paladin is still a melee character, with relatively low damage, but high survivability. It's just cleaned up a little, a few of the more outrageous abilities removed, and some more options and flexibility added in.

Note that I am not adding new Blessings. I think the Horde have a point with the way our Blessings scale with the entire raid. Having four good blessings is enough.

Restrictions are Good

Maybe writes in a comment:
I saw a post saying that "Holy Shock" should be a baseline ability. I actually like this idea. Tanks can use it to pull/get aggro, Healadins can use it like a instant mini LOH, and Ret and PVP pallies can use it for an extra kick in damage. I don't think it's over powered either as it doesn't to a tremendous amount of damage or healing. It's just a versatile spell that all types of Pallies can use.

I agree that Holy Shock as a baseline ability would not be overpowered. However, I do not think it would be a good idea.

Restrictions define us. What we cannot do is as important as what we can do. And one of the fundamental restrictions for a paladin is that we do not have ranged attacks. It's a class-defining restriction.

Restrictions also breed creativity. Paladins need to learn to body-pull, to fight multiple enemies at once, to use Judgement of Justice effectively. I find that paladins are very sensitive to the aggro radius of mobs. Because we cannot pull, we play very differently from the other classes. A profession such as engineering is very valuable to a paladin, as is Linken's quest in Un'goro (to get the Boomerang). More so than to other classes. And this difference is good. It makes playing a paladin a unique experience.

So while a baseline Holy Shock may not be overpowered, I think it would weaken one of the major restrictions on the paladin class, leading to a less creative and unique class.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Extensive Paladin Changes, Part I

Now, if by some miracle I got to go nuts with paladin design, this is what I'd do. This is pretty crazy wishlist stuff, and is only somewhat balanced, so don't take the numbers for granted when complaining it's overpowered.

1. Remove Flash of Light
2. Change Seal of Light to heal all party members when it procs and add a +heal coefficient.
3. Reduce the effect of +heal on lower ranks of spells.

See here for reasons.

4. Remove Blessing of Salvation and Tranquil Air Totem.

Seriously, how is Salvation balanced? Do paladins suck so much that allowing Alliance dps classes 20-40% higher damage is acceptable?

5. Remove Blessing of Light. Increase the amount Holy Light heals by 200.

This is a silly, pointless, make-work blessing. Since I've already killed Flash of Light, its usefulness is even lower.

6. Make Blessing of Kings and Blessing of Sanctuary trainable.

I've already killed two Blessings, so let's bring down two replacements. Now we have four base Blessings (Blessing of Sanctuary, Kings, Might, Wisdom). As a general theme, I'm going to try for four of everything. I like symmetry.

7. Increase Blessing duration to 15 minutes. Increase Greater Blessing Duration to 1 hour. Double mana costs.

Constantly recasting Blessings every five minutes is just lame. There is no meaningful choice to be made.

8. Reclassify the short term Blessings as "Invocations" (Invocation of Protection, Freedom, Sacrifice). Invocations are tactical buffs, and do not overwrite Blessings or other Invocations.

The biggest downside to using the short term Blessings is that they overwrite the longer Blessings. The longer Blessings are seen as more important, and so short Blessings are only used in very specific situations. Making them Invocations makes them much more usable, and gives the paladin some much needed flexibility.

9. Add a new Invocation, Invocation of Knowledge. 5 minute cooldown. "Whenever target party member casts a spell, the mana cost is deducted from the paladin's mana instead. If the paladin has no mana, cost will be deducted from party member's mana. Lasts 15s."

Why? I need a fourth Invocation, and this seems like a somewhat cool ability. In the same way that Sacrifice shares health, Knowledge shares mana. The actual way it'll probably end up working is something like Illumination, where you get a refund of the mana you spend, and the mana is then deducted from the paladin.

10. Remove Seal of the Crusader as a base Seal.

I'm going to do something with this once I get to talent trees. Plus it leaves me with four base Seals (Seal of Justice, Righteousness, Light, Wisdom).

11. Have Seal of Light and Wisdom's effect be based on weapon damage, like Seal of Command.

We're a melee hybrid, and so our melee skills need to make a difference, even if it is not dps-wise.

12. Change Reckoning as described in this post.

I'm pretty sure my dislike of Reckoning is well known. :)

13. Implement Guard.

I like Guard. Kind of unique tanking mechanism, and fits nicely with our image of protecting the weak.

14. Change Sense Undead to Sense Evil, and allow it to detect demons and undead. Change the warlock's Sense Demon to Sense Outsider, and allow them to detect elementals and demons.

Why not? We can Exorcise things and they can Enslave them. Seems fair enough to me.

Hmm. Okay, 4 Blessings, 4 Seals, 4 Invocations, Reckoning and Guard. Seems like a good start.

Basic Paladin Changes

I still have a bunch of ideas running through my head that I never actually got a chance to write down. So I may as well put some down now. (Plus no WoW is slightly boring. :) )

I mentioned in a comment that paladins were very close to being fixed, in my view. These are the basic, essential changes that I would make.

1. Remove the Flash of Light spell.

Reason: Flash of Light is the real problem with the paladin class. A single cast of FoL heals for a trivial amount, but at a trivial cost. This means that a paladin generally casts multiple FoLs in quick succession to actually do anything. I've heard Flash of Light described as a "channelled heal-over-time spell." And this is precisely what it is. The paladin stands there and channels her mana into the tank's health bar.

The problem is that if you are channelling, you cannot do anything else. And the essence of a paladin is doing multiple things at once! The mechanics of Flash of Light cut across the very grain of paladin playstyle. So remove Flash of Light in its entirety. Soloing will not miss it. PvP will not miss it. And PvE will be better for its absence.

2. Change Seal of Light to heal all party members when it procs.

Reason: The paladin is a support character and needs to help heal her party. This ensures that while the paladin is attacking and cleansing, her party is getting a small heal. A heal-over-time in essence, one that requires the paladin to attack, but forsakes any extra damage the paladin can do. This mechanic is much more in line with the feel of a paladin.

3. Reduce the effect of +heal on lower ranks of spells.

Reason: See this post. As well, makes spamming Holy Light (Rank 4) a less useful tactic, especially with the new Seal of Light.

I think these changes are all that is necessary to push the paladin to a front-line role, one more in line with the vision. They are not overpowered changes. Indeed, the paladin is arguably worse off than before, in terms of raw power. "We had to nerf the paladins to save them," as it were. :)

(I would probably consider adding a small +heal coefficient of ~10% to Seal of Light to compensate.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Time to Go

I had a mental image of my paladin, forged by 59 excellent levels. Unfortunately, the reality of the endgame in WoW proved to be different than my image.

I guess I kept hoping that Blizzard would realize this, and make changes that would make the reality more closely match my image. With the advent of Tier 3 armor, and looking at the Paladin review of 1.9 in hindsight, I believe this hope to be futile. Paladins are as Blizzard envisioned them, and if I do not like that vision, I should reroll or quit.

Accordingly, I have chosen to quit.

World of Warcraft was a spectacular game from levels 1 to 59. It was merely a decent game at level 60. There is a bit too much emphasis on raiding, and very little content for other playstyles. I enjoyed raiding, but there was no variety. All the non-raid content, such as PvP, was seriously flawed in implementation.

Still, I enjoyed my stay in Azeroth quite a bit. I met and played with a lot of good people in the various guilds I was part of.

This was really the first MMO that I spent time with, and it was a fun experience. Though next time, I seriously doubt I will pick a hybrid, or jack-of-all-trades, class. It seems like far less hassle to pick a specialist class.

In any case, thanks for reading this blog.

Coriel, 60 Paladin, Bronzebeard/Etrigg, 59 Days Played

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tier 3 Armor

Community Manager: The paladins are complaining that they are not being allowed to melee in raids, and are being forced to stand in the back and spam heals.

Blizzard Developer: Okay, if they're in the back, they won't need any melee stats on their armor.

I surrender. The healbots have won. God forbid that a melee class--a class with zero ability to do damage from range--actually enter the front lines of a battle.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Silithus Field Duty Quests

I've been playing with the Silithus Field Duty quests a bit. They seem flawed to me. The actual quests are okay, but I really dislike the method of obtaining them.

The quests are elite, which means you need a group to do them. However, there is no way of sharing the quest you are working on with the entire group. So basically, you get a group of five people doing something which can only benefit one person. This just doesn't seem to work.

It's one thing if everyone in the group is working on the same quest, but when each person has a different Field Duty quest, it just becomes uncomfortable. So realistically, what people do is get a whole bunch of Field Duty quests, and hope that there is some overlap between quests gained, then do the quest with the most overlap.

This seems terrible awkward to me. There should be some way to easily share Field Duty quests, so that your entire group can work on one together, and be rewarded together.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Is the Spell System Breaking Down?

Lately, I've begun to see some posts saying that the spell system in WoW is breaking down at the very high end. I think that there is some truth to the matter. Here is my description of the problem:

The amount of damage done or healed by a spell or ability is given by:

Total = Base + Modifiers

During levels 1-59, the Base damage is greater than Modifiers (+dmg/heal), so getting new ranks of spells is important, as it's the only way to significantly increase your damage.

At level 60, the Modifiers start becoming larger than the Base. Eventually, you can stack enough modifiers so that the Base is negligible compared to Modifiers. At this point it effectively does not matter what rank of spell you use, as the Total damage is determined mostly by the modifiers.

Total = Modifiers

However, the cost of the spell is still determined by the Base spell. So you choose the cheapest spell you can cast. Your cost is significantly reduced, but your damage is still roughly the same.

The second problem is that there are ways to reduce the cost even more: Spell Crit, via Illumination; and Mana/5s. With enough of these stats, you can reduce your costs to zero, while still keeping about the same total damage.

In effect, the old paradigm of 'Significantly larger effects require significantly larger costs' no longer really holds at the very high end of Warcraft, and this is game-breaking.

Honestly, the best solution would be to dissuade casters from casting lower ranked spells, probably by nerfing the effect of Modifiers such as +heal on lower ranked spells. If a lower rank of a spell costs 50% less mana, it should heal about 50% less damage.

This isn't a problem specific to paladins, but the existence of Illumination and a really cheap Flash of Light makes it very visible when looking at our heals.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mmm...Epic Hammer

I picked up an [Earthshaker] in Molten Core today. I was kind of surprised I won it, as I was in the middle of the pack for DKP. I guess the other paladins are waiting for Lawbringer pieces.

I'm pondering respeccing to take advantage of the proc. As it's a stun, I could Judgement of Command for extra damage. However, I'm currently 30/21/0 for Blessing of Sanctuary and raid healing. If I kept Sanctuary (I'm the only paladin in the guild who has it), I could do something like 14/21/16. Or I could forget about Sanctuary and go for a more normal Holy/Retribution build.

(Another option is a Reckoning build, but I really dislike Reckoning.)

As well, I need to enchant it. I'm currently using a 1H and shield (non-epic) inside MC, but I could put +22 Int on the [Earthshaker] and use that as my primary raid weapon. I could also just forget about it in raids and put a combat enchant on it for farming or PvP.

Of course, I actually need gold to do any of this, so its all theoretical at this point. :)

Blizzard's Paladin Vision

After thinking about it for a while, I think that Blizzard intended for paladins to be in melee on raids. To heal and cleanse from melee range.

Proof: Lawbringer armor

Lawbringer is our Tier 1 set. The first armor we get from 40-man raid instances, armor specifically designed for us, and the armor that prepares us for what Blizzard thinks our should be our role in raid content.

So let's look at Lawbringer. It has +Int and +heal, which implies that we should be helping to heal. But it also has a bit of +Str which adds to our damage. As well, take a look at the set bonuses:

3 pieces: Increases the chance of triggering a Judgement of Light heal by 10%.
5 pieces: Improves your chance to get a critical strike with spells by 1%.
5 pieces: Improves your chance to get a critical strike by 1%.
8 pieces: Gives the Paladin a chance on every melee hit to heal your party for 189 to 211.

Three out of four bonuses only work if the paladin is meleeing!

Lawbringer is meant to help us fulfill our role in raiding. It has +Str and bonuses that reward the paladin for meleeing. It has +Int and +heal that reward the paladin for healing.

I believe that it is clear from Lawbringer armor that Blizzard intended us to melee in raids and heal from melee range.

This is their vision, and it is a good vision.

The problem is not with Blizzard, but with guilds who are too timid to let their paladins live up to the role that Blizzard intends for us.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Best Comment On The Draenei

From World of Leviathan, by way of the WoW General Forums.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What I Miss...

You know what I, as a 60, miss the most from levels 1 to 59?

I miss the sound you get when you discover a new area and piece of the map fills in.

Such a nice sound. The sound probably doesn't play at 60 because it's tied to the experience gained for the discovery, and you no longer get experience at 60. It's a pity though. Hopefully it will return when the level cap goes up.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Casuals vs. Raiders, Part IV

Continuing the eternal series, part of the problem between casuals vs raiders is that the gulf between them is only one-way. Casuals cannot do raid content. However, raiders can do casual content.

In fact, they will do such content if the rewards are half decent, or if they are simply bored. So there's no such thing as content specifically for casuals. And this feels a little bit unfair to casual players. After all, both groups are paying the same amount of money to Blizzard. Yet the raiders get new content which they don't share, but casuals have to share all their content. It's possibly a bit irrational, but that's the way we are.

I think WoW needs to address this asymmetry (in addition to making it easier to raid). My suggestion would be an epic 5-man dungeon. This dungeon would be hard and would drop unique loot slightly better than Tier 1, but less than Tier 2 (a Dungeon 3 set). The dungeon would be on a 7-day timer, like the raid instances, allowing a small group to work on the dungeon over the course of the week.

The kicker, though, is that if you were saved to this 5-man, you would be locked out of the 40-man raids for the week. And if you were saved to MC/BWL/etc., you'd be locked out of this epic 5-man.

So for raiders, this dungeon presents a real drawback. If you go to this dungeon, you can't raid with your guild that week. If you raid with your guild, you can't try this dungeon. However, for a casual player, there is effectively no drawback to trying this 5-man, as you aren't raiding anyways.

The key is giving the casuals an experience that the raiders can't easily share. Raiders still have the lion's share of endgame and loot. However, casuals get a toy for them, and them alone.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Onyxia Down!

My guild killed Onyxia tonight for the first time. Pretty cool.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Reckoning Idea

A while back, I posted about how I dislike the current incarnation of Reckoning. Here's an idea for a change to Reckoning to add a little interactivity, help tanking a bit, and add a little dps while soloing.

Make Reckoning trainable and change it to:

5% of Base Mana
Instant, 5s cooldown, Requires Melee Weapon
Instantly counterattack the enemy, causing Holy damage equal to 50% of weapon damage. Only useable after being the victim of a critical strike.

It's modeled after the warrior skill Overpower. You get critted, the button lights up, and you smack them back once. No charges or any other silliness.

So we get another button to press during combat, which makes soloing a little bit more interactive. It does Holy damage which helps with Righteous Fury and tanking. It's not usable if you aren't being attacked, so it doesn't really change us in raid situations. It's based on weapon damage, so it scales as well as emphasizes the melee aspect.

Then in the place of the current Reckoning talent, we could have:

Improved Reckoning
Requires 20pts in Protection
Improves the damage done by Reckoning to 60%/70%/80%/90%/100% of weapon damage.

Admittedly, you can't do Reckoning bombs in PvP anymore, but an instant attack for 100% Holy damage is still pretty sweet. I also think this is more in line with the original intent behind Reckoning.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Baseline Spiritual Focus?

Blizzard has announced that in Patch 1.11, druids will be getting Innervate--previously the 31-pt Restoration talent--as a baseline trainable talent (and some sort of new 31-pt talent). I think this is a good move, as a lot of raiding guilds were making Innervate mandatory for their druids.

On the paladin boards, a lot of people are suggesting paladin talents that should become baseline. While things like Seal of Command, Consecrate, Kings, etc. would be nice, I'd like to propose a different talent becoming baseline:

Spiritual Focus.
(70% chance to avoid spell interruption from damage)

Why? Well, almost every build includes this talent, forcing paladins to go 10pts deep into Holy. Pure Protection/Retribution builds are extremely rare.

Secondly, we are meant to be melee fighters. Emphasizing that we can cast healing spells in melee combat reinforces that ideal. As well, priests have a similar talent, save that it is only 2 points and in the first tier. It's slightly disconcerting that priests are able to cast from melee better than paladins.

Spiritual Focus is as close to a must-have talent as there is for paladins. By replacing Spiritual Focus with a different, more unique 5pt talent in the second tier, we should see a greater variety in paladin builds, and more freedom in abstaining from the Holy tree.

For example, I would love to make a 0/32/19 1H+Shield 'porcupine' build that features both Holy Shield and Improved Retribution Aura. Such a build would be very interesting to try.

However, not having Spiritual Focus is a huge risk. Improved Concentration Aura only gives a 50% chance to avoid interruption, and the long cast time of Holy Light means there's a high chance of the spell being delayed. Spiritual Focus + Concentration Aura gives a 100% of avoiding interruption, which is essential as we are always in melee. A priest can fear, shield, cast an instant HoT, or cast a quick flash heal and avoid interruption in that manner.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Invisible Hand of Raiding

A lot of guilds restrict loot by class. They justify this with the phrase "Guild progress comes before personal progress."

As a counter, I offer these words:
"By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."
- Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

Liberal capitalism is, in general, the dominant economic system in modern times. It's fundamental idea is that of the Invisible Hand: that an individual seeking to improve his own situation will unintentionally work for the benefit of the group. For the most part, the system works in real life.

The same philosophy should also work in WoW. A neutral system of earning and spending DKP should lead to people seeking to improve their characters as they want to, and thus unintentionally improving the raid. I have not yet seen a good reason why the Invisible Hand does not apply to WoW.

The argument against this is "a warrior will do more dps with Uber-2H-sword than a paladin on a raid." And this is strictly true. So how then does giving the paladin the Uber-2H-sword improve the raid? For one thing, the paladin will be less likely to quit. If you are prevented from improving your character as you want to, your enthusiasm wanes. If the paladin quits, the guild loses multiple epics and a skilled player. This is a bigger loss to the raid than a single weapon being used slightly less efficiently. It's generally taken as a given that healing classes, in addition to being the rarest, are the ones which burn out fastest. Keeping healers from burning out, at the cost of one or two dps epics going to a healer, improves the raid.

As well, people do other things than raids. They quest, farm and PvP. By making a rational decision to improve some of these other areas, they benefit the guild. As a personal example, I'm currently working on farming for my Hide of the Wild. I'm specced for raiding (30/21/0 - raid gets Blessing of Sanctuary), and thus farming is painfully slow. A good epic weapon would make farming easier, leading to a better healing cape which would improve the raid. In fact, farming is so painful--and I have to farm for some other enchants--that I am considering to switching to 20/0/31, which means no more Blessing of Sanctuary and worse healing on raids.

In the end, people are most productive when they are improving their character as they see fit. A raiding guild should think long and hard before abandoning the wisdom of Adam Smith.