Saturday, October 28, 2006

Razorgore Strategy

Solidstate requested the Razorgore strategy we used, so here it is. We use a pretty normal strategy.

Hunters, mages, warlocks, rogues are divided into 4 DPS groups, one in each corner of the room. They kill orc mages as they appear. They also crowd control any legionaires if they can (sheeps, stuns, traps, succubi).

We have two warriors (with speed boots) kite the dragonkin and legionaires in a Figure 8 around the room, using both platforms. They run up one ramp, and then jump off the middle in order to buy some additional time, as the mobs go back down the ramp and around. They are spamming Demo Shout and taunting any new mobs that appear.

The remaining warriors pick up loose dragonkin and legionaires and bring them to the main kiters. We usually had a warrior follow each of the main kiters, picking up any missed mobs.

The druids' primary job is to sleep any loose dragonkin until a kiting warrior picks them up. They also do a little healing.

The paladins and priests are the healers, with the priests trying to keep their aggro down as much as possible. The paladins also guard the ramps to the controller, stunning and engaging any mobs attempting to get to the controller.

There are two or three controllers who rotate controlling Razorgore and popping eggs. We don't let the orcs/dragonkin attack Razorgore. It makes the last phase a bit harder, as Razorgore is at full health, but that's just a ranged tank-and-spank fight.

Realistically, it's all about the kite and aggro management. If you have one priest who does much more healing than the other priests, she will pull aggro and mobs will swarm the center. Paladin heals are lower aggro, so priests should try to defer to the paladins as much as possible, use HoTs, small heals, etc.

That's the strategy we used last night. Of course, it does take practice. We took about five tries, progressively getting better each time, and tweaking the strategy each time (for some reason, our kiters weren't doing the full Figure 8 for the first few attempts).

Another strategy I've seen is to have the main kiter be the first Razorgore controller, and to use Razorgore's Shadow Volley ability right before the control timer expires. That transfers all the aggro to the main kiter, giving her an edge as she starts the kite.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Spiritual Focus Idea

I still think that Spiritual Focus is very important to the paladin class, and that having it as a Tier 2 talent is too high. It doesn't look like Blizzard will make it baseline anytime soon, but here's a compromise idea.

1. Make Spiritual Focus a baseline ability, but with only a 40% chance to avoid interruptions from damage.

2. Add the following talent to Tier 2 Holy.
Improved Spiritual Focus (3/3)
Requires 5 Points in Holy.
Increases the effectiveness of Spiritual Focus by 10/20/30%.

So we get 3 possibilities:

Untalented Paladin
- 40% base chance to avoid interrupts from damage
- 70% chance with Concentration Aura

Paladin with 3/3 Imp Spiritual Focus
- 70% base chance
- 100% with Concentration Aura

Paladin with 3/3 Imp Concentration Aura
- 40% base chance
- 90% with Concentration Aura
- 15% chance of ignoring interrupts
- 50% chance given to allies

Now, Imp Concentration Aura is much closer to SF in power. It still doesn't completely guarantee your cast, but gives an extra bonus to your allies to make up for it. And it makes 2 paths viable for paladins: one with Holy, and one with Protection.

As well, since we've reduced Imp SF to 3 points, there's room in Tier 2 Holy for a small 2 point talent. Perhaps something like:
Evil's Bane (2/2)
Requires 5 Points in Holy.
Increases the damage done with your Exorcism and Holy Wrath spells by 15/30%. Increases the duration of your Fear Undead spell by 5/10s.

Razorgore Down!

And we start our march into Blackwing Lair. No paladin loot dropped, as usual.

Razorgore is a neat fight. Aside from the actual mechanics of the fight, its placement is very interesting.

In many ways, Razorgore is one of the most complex fights in BWL, and to have it as the very first encounter is a real shock. It's like Blizzard is putting the raid on notice, "This is NOT Molten Core. It's a brand new game." It sets the tone for the whole instance.

It is an unexpected decision in many ways, and I have a lot of respect for Blizzard for structuring BWL in this manner. A more conventional decision would have been to have a steady ramp up in complexity. Instead, having a very complex fight first forces raiders to shake off the complacency of Molten Core, and stretch their abilities in new directions.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Week 2 on Ragnaros

Back into MC again to kill Ragnaros. On our first attempt, Ragnaros hits the raid with an AoE knockback right before he submerges, when we were all gathered at our collapse point. That leads to a heart-breaking 1% wipe.

No worries, even though no soulstone or DI was up. A druid sneaks back to Ragnaros and begins ressing.

The second attempt is beautiful. We are destroying Ragnaros, no one is dying, I'm pumping Judgements of Righteousness into Ragnaros like there's no tomorrow. The 3-minute mark comes up, and we collapse perfectly as the Sons of Flame come up. The Sons are being intercepted by our warriors and druids when all of a sudden we hear "BY FIRE BE PURGED!" and people go flying. "DIE INSECT!" It turns out that if Ragnaros decides not to submerge, he and Sons of Flame together will easily wipe the raid.

So kind of annoyed at Ragnaros, we regroup for attempt three. Third time is the charm, and Ragnaros goes down easily. Loot is linked and he drops the [Eye of Sulfuras] to make up for our troubles. Our guild is amused by this, as we only have 3 out of the 8 or 9 [Sulfuron Ingots] needed to craft the Legendary Weapon. Because it is Sulfuras, I bid on the Eye, but another warrior wins it (we go by Total Earned DKP for Legendaries). Honestly, I'm kind of relieved that I didn't get it. I hate farming, and the mats required for Sulfuras are insane.

So that's how raiding is going. No paladin gear is dropping, but that's pretty much par for the course.

Blizzard nerfed Crusader Strike and Vengeance, so the paladin forums have descended into a pit of whining and despair (the natural state, in many ways). For some reason, people thought that Crusader Strike means that you would have three paladins judging, but only one paladin in melee spamming Crusader Strike in order to refresh all three judgements. It's like it never occurred to them that maybe we should have all three paladins meleeing and each refresh her own judgement.

CS being nerfed is expected, but Vengeance is a bit unusual, given that it has been untouched for such a long time. Current theories are that an 31/0/30 build proved too strong, or that with the additional attacks given by CS it was easier to achieve a perma-Vengeance state.

Ah well, Burning Crusade is a long way aways, so I shall not worry about it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ragnaros, the Firelord

It has taken me over 10 months, over 100 posts, through three different servers, and several guilds, but I have finally killed Ragnaros, the Firelord. He Who Was Ancient When The World Was Young. (I love the 'cutscene' before the fight.)

In the end, I think I did it the best way possible. With a guild who had not killed Ragnaros before. First kills are the sweetest. We did a pretty good job too. 38 people in the raid and we killed him on our second try. It was the third attempt overall for the guild, as we went to have a look after the first Majordomo Executus kill last week.

In a really weird way, it kind of feels like I've beaten the game. I know there's still BWL, AQ40, and Naxx to go, but Ragnaros felt like the end boss of World of Warcraft. Maybe because he's been the goal for so long. Or because I've been so close before, but never actually finished him.

Still, Ragnaros is dead. Bring on the Burning Crusade! (or Blackwing Lair, whichever comes first :)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Loot, Jindo, and Exploring

It never fails. I update my picture on this blog and I immediately get new loot soon after. I really should update more often.

I went to AQ20 today with the guild, and picked up a [Gavel of Qiraji Authority] from the General Rajaxx fight. This is an insane weapon. I have no idea why it isn't epic. Compare it to the [The Unstoppable Force]. It has +16 Int, +19 dmg/heal, +6 mana/5s, in exchange for -4 Str, -2% crit, and a stun. Maybe [The Unstoppable Force] is better, but not by much. The only thing is that the Gavel is a fast weapon (2.2 speed vs 3.8), but as I don't have Seal of Command, it's fine for me. Plus it looks very nice, and rather unique. I'll get a picture up before the next raid. ;)

I also got the [Qiraji Spiked Hilt] for the Exalted Cenarion reward. I do like the sword, but I'm nowhere near the exalted reputation required. I only got the Hilt because no one else wanted it. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for getting to Exalted CC reputation fast, I would love to hear them.

Boss-wise, I got to see and kill Moam for the first time. Interesting fight. We stacked the raid with warlocks for extra mana-draining to make it easy, but it was still fun.

After Moam, the guild went for Hakkar in ZG (ZG having been cleared the previous night). I sat out for the Hakkar fight (first time the guild has killed Hakkar), but came in after for Jin'do the Hexxer. Now that was a fun fight. It took two attempts, but he went down (first Jin'do kill for the guild as well). It's a very chaotic fight. Totems, invisible shades, teleports, dancing skeletons, it's hilarious. I think the reason we won the second fight is because I got mind-controlled much more. Better me than a rogue or fury warrior, after all. :)

So I got some loot, and added Moam and Jin'do to my kill sheet. Not a bad day.

Oh, I almost forgot. Way back in May, I posted about how, as a level 60, I miss the sound when a piece of the map is discovered. Well, I was exploring Deadwind Pass during the Hakkar attempts, and it looks like Blizzard has fixed this problem! The sound played and pieces of the map filled in. I don't know when Blizzard fixed it, and it's a small thing, but it made me smile. Good work, Blizzard!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Burning Crusade Impressions from the Forums

It looks like an NDA expired, and paladins who were in the Burning Crusade alpha are talking about their experiences on the forums. Some pretty interesting stuff there. For me, though, the best sign came from Tinaris:
It seems to me that the way our healing is supposed to work is when its intermingled with melee when we have the chance to hit the mob for some mana gains via JoWisdom. Hit the mob for mana a few times, cast an emergency heal, rinse and repeat. I found that this method of support healing, even as a 14/0/43 Paladin, was very helpful in terms of putting out good damage, being involved in heals, and maintaining respectable mana amounts for emergencies. Spiritual Attunement helped out in this, as the bit of AoE damage I took would get me some attention from the main healers, which would replenish my mana for more healing for others.

This is superb news. It's basically how I play now, and Blizzard has made it even more viable. This is what a Paladin is supposed to be. Honestly, this paragraph has made me eagerly anticipate the Burning Crusade.

In particular, it looks like Blizzard has hit a home run with Spiritual Attunement, which gives you back mana when other people heal you.

We also got a Strike! Crusader Strike is the new 41-pt Retribution talent. The paladin boards are rejoicing. The strike is pretty cool, but I'm probably still going to go for Captain America (heh, I don't even know what the real name of the talent is).

As well, apparently we have new animations and effects for our Seals and abilities. This is a *much* needed change. Previously our effects were very bland. The PvP people probably aren't going to be too happy, as snazzy effects tend to give information to your foes, but I think it is neat part of playing the game. As well, you need to be able to get info from your enemies in order to react to them. Makes the fight one of skill, rather than just a guessing game.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Draft Priorities, Part 2

Inframike posted a comment to the previous post on the draft priority system:
But... Shadow Priests and Discipline Priests have very different priorities :(

Exactly! That is why this system works. The mages/warlocks spend all of their picks on damage gear, while priests need to split their picks between damage gear and healing gear (can't let those uppity paladins get all the good stuff).

So what will end up happening is that the mages/warlocks will get the lion's share of damage gear, but priests will have priority on a few pieces, enough to treat them fairly.

Remember that the alternative is that mages/warlocks get priority on ALL damage gear, and priests get none. That's generally what happens now in priority-based loot systems. Free systems don't need to set priority rules, and wouldn't need to draft.

As an aside, I don't believe that there is such a thing as a Shadow Priest or a Discipline Priest. There is a Priest who is currently specced Shadow, and a Priest who is currently specced Discipline. People change specs, and thus need different gear for different situations. I was Retribution[1] yesterday, and today I'm Holy[2]. I still collected healing gear when Ret-specced, and I'll still bid on damage gear now that I'm Holy.

[1] 5/11/35 - Extreme damage (for paladins, anyways).

[2] 32/11/8 - I like to think of it as my Improved Seal of the Crusader build.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Draft Priority

I don't really agree with restriction-based loot systems. However, if you do think that priorities are necessary, here's a system I came up with a long time ago (but never actually posted about):

Have your class officers draft the items in the instance.

In a random order, each class picks one item. That class gets first priority on the item. Continue drafting items (use switchback so that the second pick goes in the reverse order). The second class to pick an item gets second priority on that item. Continue until all the non-class restricted items have a first and second priority.

Each class now has an equal number of priorities. The focused classes will probably get first priority on the very best stuff, but hybrids should be able to score some decent second priorities.

As well, it sets up little rivalries between classes who do not normally compete, such as mages and warlocks, which helps them understand what it feels like to be a hybrid.

Plus it's a fun game, and you could turn it into a guild event where everyone provides "advice" to their officer.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Restrictions and Skill

If you've read my posts, you know that I'm a pretty strong proponent of no restrictions on talent specs or loot distribution. I feel that such restrictions are inefficient, and in the long term will be detrimental to the raid. One of the major reasons that I think restrictions are bad is that they interfere with developing skill.

I'll start with a definition:

Skill is the ability to make good decisions.

A person who makes better decisions is more skilled than someone who makes poor decisions. In a raid, this can be decisions with positioning, or skills used, or timing of abilities. For a healer it can mean deciding who lives and who dies. But it can also be decisions on how to spec, or what gear to take.

Skill is not absolutely innate. It is learned. As you use your abilities you learn how to make better decisions, and thus you become more skilled.

Restrictions on gear and spec make the decisions for you. Thus you cannot truly improve your skill so long as those restrictions bind you. If you are prevented from speccing Shadow, you will never learn exactly how Shadow limits you in raids, and that knowledge is valuable for future decision-making.

I believe that a Holy/Disc priest who has tried Shadow is a more skilled priest than a Holy/Disc priest who has never gone to the dark side. A skilled paladin will have tried the different options, and makes a decision based on the knowledge gained.

This even extends to loot. If you are prevented from taking loot that you think will help your character, you will never learn how to value loot appropriately. I have an Unstoppable Force, and it is seriously annoying me. It's next to impossible to keep a Judgement stuck on a mob. The lesson learned is that I don't like really slow weapons, and they are ineffective for my playstyle.

Of course, the problem is that sometimes we only learn by making mistakes. And occasionally that will mean spending DKP on the "wrong" loot, or using the "wrong" talents. But if a player is prevented from making mistakes, how can they learn?

Choice is intricately bound to skill. Anything that interferes with a player's choices also interferes with a player's skill development. A guild that is truely interested in having skilled players would be best served by allowing members to make their own choices, understanding that this means that sometimes members will make mistakes.