Friday, December 28, 2007

Second Year Mark

It's been exactly two years since I started writing this blog.

I've been looking back at the posts from a year ago, and I find that I am much less happy than I was back then. Specialization came and, rather than freeing other paladins to join me on the front lines, it chained me, and bound me to join the vast majority of my brethren (90%!) spamming heals from the back.

Do I really like playing my paladin, or do I just love the paladin archetype?

The paladin archetype, that of a holy warrior, is really, really strong. Even a movie like Tales of the Past--a WoW movie steeped in over three years of WoW lore--depicts a paladin as a divine fighter.

One of my very first posts was about how important the mental image of your character is. Watching that movie just hit home how much I want my paladin to be that style of paladin. For a brief moment in Blackwing Lair, that paladin was my paladin. And it also hit home that being a hybrid will never happen again.

WoW Paladins are healbots. The design of Flash of Light, coupled with the extreme specialization now in the game, ensures that, now and forever. A low power, high efficiency heal that resets the swing timer has doomed us to a life of spamming heals from the back.

I could pretend to be a tank, or DPS, but that puts stress on the already thin healing corps, and that just feels selfish to me. We're already struggling to field a full set of healers. Our Shadow priest had to respec back to Holy, and I think we're down to one Resto druid. And quite frankly, I don't want to be a tank, or to be DPS. I want to be a paladin once again.

Do I like my paladin? Or do I just like the idea of a paladin, a hybrid melee character who healed and blessed her group while dealing retribution with a two-handed hammer? Coriel was that paladin once, will she ever be again?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tales of the Past

Tales of the Past, Part III is an awesome WoW movie. It's a full feature-length (1.5 hours) movie.

Be warned that it is 2.4 gigs in size, but it's worth the download. I recommend the torrent option, and that was pretty fast for me. I didn't see parts I or II, but they aren't necessary to enjoy this.

Martin Falch has made a work of art. It must have taken him an incredible amount of time and effort, but the results are amazing.

The final battle in particular is spectacular, and even modern filmmakers could probably learn something about how to make something truly feel epic.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hit Rating and Dual-Wielders

One very common question is how much hit rating does a dual-wielding character need? My Hit Caps Guide only lists the actual cap, and doesn't address whether going for the cap is a good idea or not.

Basically, after you reach 9%, hit rating only affects a portion of your damage. However, hit rating is cheaper than crit rating. So how does that balance out?

It depends on how much white damage you do. As a general rule, with the current costs of hit and crit rating, you need about 65-70% of your damage to come from auto-attacks for hit rating to outweigh crit rating. However, you also have to take into account special abilities that may come from white hits.

Baseline, most melee classes get about 50% of their damage from auto-attack (white damage) and 50% from specials (yellow damage). Each class does have unique aspects though. Please note that you must get at least 9% hit so your specials never miss. This really concerns the range from 9% to 28%.


The most powerful finisher is Slice and Dice, which speeds up auto-attacks by 30% (equivalent to increasing auto-attack damage by 30%). This pushes rogues into the range where hit rating becomes worthwhile. Additionally, Combat rogues get extra energy from off-hand strikes, through Combat Potency, making it additionally important that their white attacks hit.

Thus the accepted wisdom for rogues, especially combat rogues, is to try and reach the hit rating cap, choosing equal values of hit over crit.


Fury warriors often use Heroic Strike, which converts your next white attack into a special, using the miss rate for specials. This actually pushes the proportion of white damage down, and makes crit a better option.

Auto-attacks do provide rage, so hit rating shouldn't be completely scoffed at. Don't go out of the way to pick up hit rating, but most warriors tend to have a bit more than the minimum.


Enhancement Shamans again have about 50% of their damage coming from auto-attack. However, unlike warriors and rogues, shamans don't get rage or energy from their white attacks. The only other consideration is Windfury, which procs off auto-attacks. Windfury has an internal cooldown, however, so hitting more often does not really increase the number of procs.

So shamans are generally safe in ignoring extra hit rating and going for crit rating and attack power.


No. Just No.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

I spend a lot of virtual ink discussing what I think are flaws in Blizzard's game, mostly because flaws are more interesting to look at. It's not really fair though, as there are a lot of things that Blizzard has done well, and has improved significantly.

In particular, the current endgame is leaps and bounds ahead of the endgame that existed when I first started writing, about two years ago. Back then, level 60 dungeons such as Stratholme and Scholomance were a joke, as everyone "raided" them with 10 people, twice as much firepower as was necessary. They provided very little challenge, and the quality of play was abysmal. Raiding was Molten Core, where half the DPS was AFK watching TV. It required 30-40 level 60s, which was next to impossible for the small guilds to build towards.

Today on Skywall, both the heroic and normal dailies pointed at Botanica. As 40g and 7 Badges for one run is a great opportunity, I was trying to get into a pickup group (it was a bit early, and few guildies were online). I joined a group of 4 people who were all from the same guild, Hysteria, a small guild who's name I did not recognize.

That run turned out to be one of the best pickup groups I've been in. The players in this guild had a high level of skill. The tank kept everything on him, the mage sheeped and counterspelled efficiently, the warlock banished and switched demons on the fly, the rogue pulled off some tricky saps, and everyone did solid DPS. It was the type of run that I love, where everyone is playing with focus and skill. It was such an unexpected pleasure to find this run with a pickup group.

It turned out that they were a small casual guild working on Karazhan. They only raided one or two nights a week, and were up to Shade. They were planning their first expedition to Zul'Aman sometime in the new year.

It really struck me that this guild could not have existed in the old WoW endgame. The 60 dungeons would not have provided the challenge they needed to hone their skills to their current degree. The skill level is basically what I would have expected from a Blackwing Lair guild, and yet this is an entry-level TBC guild. They also wouldn't have had the numbers to field raids in the old game, and in the end they probably would have broken up and died.

And yet, in the current game, they are not only surviving, they are doing well. They have challenges that they are working on, challenges which are worthy of their skill, and have further challenges to look forward to. They don't have to raid four nights a week if they don't want to, nor do they need to marshal 25-40 people in order to progress.

I like that people, especially non-hardcore raiders, are playing with greater skill than before. To me, that's a sign that the game is healthy. I like that guilds such as this have new challenges available to them, and can continue to progress at their own pace.

In some ways, I guess I see my first guild in these guys. But where we found only barren rock after hitting the level cap, and were essentially forced to scatter to the large raiding guilds if we wanted new challenges and progression, this guild has found fertile soil and is thriving.

And this is mostly due to the efforts of Blizzard. They have made the endgame more challenging, with better and smoother increases in available challenges, which has encouraged skilled play, and they have made the endgame more accessible to smaller guilds. All in all, the WoW endgame of today is far superior to the WoW endgame of two years ago.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Last look at PvP vs PvE Rewards

Alright, this will be my last post on this subject for a while. Most of this comes in response to a reader's email.

The heart of my issues with PvP rewards is probably more philosophical than anything else. I don't like rewarding failure. I like rewarding success more. And to me the PvP loot system is very close to excessively rewarding failure. It does a good job at rewarding success, it just doesn't do a good job of NOT rewarding failure, if that makes any sense.

Further, if there's one thing I hate in this game, it is people who do not even try. And while you occasionally see people like that in PvE, it seems like PvP attracts more of them. For example, people who go AFK in battlegrounds, or teams that deliberately lose in Arena. And to me, it seems like this behaviour is caused by the way the reward system is structured. In contrast, in PvE, it is fairly hard to get rewards if you don't try, especially on a guild or team level.

Basically my ideal system of rewards would go like:

1. Person who does not try - gets nothing
2. Person who tries but is not very successful - gets something decent
3. Person who tries and is successful - gets something good

And to me, quality of reward matters. S3/T6 should be reserved for Category 3. Category 2 maybe gets Badge Reward/S2/S1/T4/T5 depending on how unsuccessful you are. Category 1 should die in a fire.

From the raider point of view, this argument is not about how Category 3 should be treated, it's about how Categories 2 and 1 should be treated. PvE gives them T4/T5 or nothing, respectively. PvP gives them lesser amounts of S3. I just think that is an excessive reward, especially for Category 1.

Please note that I generally consider myself to be in Category 2 in both PvE and in PvP (when I do participate).

To be honest, I probably shouldn't have titled the original post "Welfare Epics". I meant it as more of a tongue-in-cheek reference to Tigole's Blizzcon presentation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Arena Rating Reset

One thing that's always puzzled me about Blizzard's Arena system is that Blizzard resets ratings at the beginning of every season. Most other rating systems go out of their way to avoid situations like that.

The concept of ratings is that a person has a "true skill level". Ideally, her rating accurately reflects her true skill. And as her true skill increases and decreases, so does the rating. The problem is that when a person first enters the rating system, her rating does not match her true skill, but through winning and losing many games, the two will eventually match.

As such, most rating systems treat that entry point a little differently. In chess, people are often given a "provisional" rating, which lasts for about 25 matches or so. While they have a provisional rating, rating changes are calculated differently. Microsoft's Trueskill system actually has a second value paired with the rating, which is a measure of how "confident" the system is that the rating actually reflects a player's true skill. As you play more and more games, the system becomes more and more confident that your rating is correct.

Blizzard's rating system is very unusual in that it returns everyone to that low confidence state every so often. The usual reason given is that it gives everyone a fresh start. But in reality, your true skill level doesn't change that much that quickly. All the reset does is cause people to end up playing matches against teams of wildly differing skill level. A team that should be rated 2000 is now rated 1500, and is going to steamroll most teams it will encounter at the start of the season. This happens until the ratings shake out and people are restored to their true skill levels.

I think there's a different reason Blizzard resets the ratings. The Arena rating system is meant to be a zero-sum system. If my team gains 20 points, your team loses 20 points. However, in its current incarnation, the Arena system is vulnerable to rating inflation. What happens is a low-ranked team (say 1200 rating), gets tired, dissolves, and reforms as a new team. The new team enters at 1500 points, meaning that 300 points are added into the system. They will probably eventually fall back to 1200 and the process may begin anew.

By resetting the ratings, Blizzard clears out the excess ratings added into the system and restores the system to its zero-sum balance. Unfortunately it has the side effect of ensuring that ratings don't match the true skill of the teams for a few weeks after the reset. And it causes heavy load and long queue times on the servers as the higher ranked teams seek to restore their correct rating.

It's sort of amusing, but chess actually has the same problem, only in the opposite direction. I have a friend who is heavily involved with the Chess Federation of Canada. According to him, one of the main problems with their rating system is the existence of chess schools or camps for youth. What happens is that during the summer, the kids play constantly against each other and end up being pretty good because of the practice and training (not Grandmaster-good, but better than average).

Then at the end of the summer, they will play in a couple of rated tournaments. Because their entry rating is lower than their true skill level, they end up taking a lot of rating points from the other people. However, after that summer they stop playing tournament-level chess, taking those points with them, and the chess rating system suffers from point deflation.

To combat this, the equations used by the CFC that govern rating changes have a very small bonus term, which increases the amount of rating in the system, hopefully restoring the balance and keeping the amount of rating in the system constant.

It's an amusing parallel to the situation faced because Blizzard did team-based ratings and allowed teams to be dissolved and rebuilt. A personal rating system, such as is being introduced with Season 3, tends to be more robust because it cannot be reset easily, and the system is not quite as vulnerable to inflation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why does the Reward System Matter?

This isn't about what is a more worthwhile endeavour: PvP or PvE. In my opinion, if you want to spend endgame raiding, that's fine. If you want to spend it PvP'ing, that's fine too. This is a discussion of two fundamentally different reward systems. One where quality varies with challenge/skill (Quality System), and the other where quantity varies with challenge/skill (Quantity System).

One of these is a better system than the other. I believe that the Quality System is superior because we tend to value quality more than quantity. Because it has a better natural, even progression. And that it leads to better gameplay and encourages people to constantly improve, while the Quantity System leads to unnatural and counter-intuitive gameplay.

But clearly, many of the commenters clearly don't feel the same way. To them, the Quantity System is superior because it allows people to reach parity gear-wise faster. It also means that all progression options for your character are within reach. You'll never reach a point where you just cannot improve your character because you can't meet the challenge.

It's fairly easy to use either system in PvP or PvE. For PvP, simply slap Rating requirements on the gear. Boom, there's a Quality System in PvP.

To implement a Quantity System in PvE, we could assign ratings to each boss. Attumen would be a 1000, and Illidan would be 2400 or so. The other bosses would be scattered along the spectrum between them. Each week, a PvE player gets a rating equal to the highest rating of a boss defeated that week. For example, a raid that kills Prince Malchezzar might get a 1400 rating. On Tuesday, the Consortium gives you a certain number of Raid Points depending on your rating. You then use these raid points to purchase rewards from the Consortium.

Bosses no longer drop loot. Maybe you could get a title for defeating specific high-end bosses (Coriel the Dragonkiller Killer). The only result from downing a boss is an increase in rating, if the boss had a higher rating than your current rating. Your rating would reset to zero on Tuesday. Every so often, perhaps with the PvP Seasons, Blizzard introduces new raid gear which you can purchase.

Now, there are some fine details to work out. PvE is not quite as granular as PvP, and you can't do swaps as easily, so you have to somehow account for people who sat out that fight. And ratings would inflate over time as gear makes the challenges easier, and would have to be readjusted when new instances came out. But that's a basic Quantity System implemented in PvE.

Is that a better system than we have now? Maybe. I don't think so, however. I think it would lead to stagnation for a lot of guilds, as they would reach a "comfort level" of farming and refuse to try higher bosses on the grounds that the additional rating would not be worth the time and effort, the same way that some people prefer to lose Battlegrounds fast rather than go for a drawn-out win.

But everyone else seems to be solidly in favour of the PvP Quantity System, so maybe we should leave PvP alone and change raiding to match it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Raider Perspective on Rewards

Perhaps a deeper explanation of the raider mindset when it comes to loot rewards would help in our discussion on PvP vs Raid Epics. Please note that this is strictly from a Loot As Reward perspective, not Loot As Investment.

For a raider, quality of loot depends on the challenge you need to overcome. The harder the challenge, the higher quality your reward is. Quantity of loot does not really change. Throughout my raiding career, I've averaged about one epic every two weeks or so. It is random, so it's not exactly one every two weeks, but it's close. The rate at which a progressing raider gains upgrades doesn't really change as content changes. What changes is the quality of the upgrades. As the raid gets better and better, as harder and harder challenges are overcome, raiders are not rewarded with more loot, they are rewarded with better loot.

So in the raider mindset, quality is the most important characteristic of loot. It represents the challenge that has been overcome. Raiders generally don't like content where the quality of reward does not match the challenge. Even bosses which are too easy for their loot are disdained (Void Reaver, most of Molten Core). Bosses which are too hard for their loot inspire a lot of forum angst.

This is diametrically opposite of the PvP situation. In PvP, the quality of the reward is fixed, and is generally whatever the highest season is. What changes is the quantity of loot. Higher skill or rating, which translates into overcoming harder challenges, is rewarded with more loot, not better loot.

From a raider mindset, this is very weird. It breaks the link between challenge and reward. And we like that link. Raiders feel that having that link is important, as it inspires people to push forward. If you don't get better as a raider, you stop progressing loot-wise. In PvP, it seems like you don't the same pressure to improve your skills. You stay level, and the loot keeps coming in, and you are able to improve your character without improving in skill. Sure you could get the loot faster, but the upgrade train never actually stops or even slows down.

Raiders actually like PvP rewards that match the "challenge = quality of reward" mindset. People with the epic flyers, or the various titles, are impressive. People with high ratings get a lot of respect.

And it's an honest question if a game should break the link between challenge and quality of reward. I kind of like that the game pushes you to continually increase your skill. I would love 5-mans or solo quests that continued to increase in challenge. Zul'Aman has been highly received by the raiding community, even though it's only a 10-man. Many pre-TBC hunters still speak fondly of their quest to get their epic bow Rhok'delar, as it was supposed to be a very challenging quest.

When the game doesn't have that push, we end up with negative behavior. We have people AFK in Alterac Valley. We have teams /dancing in Arenas so that they can finish their games quickly.

Raiding does have many problems, especially with time and organizational issues. But the basic idea that "quality of reward is linked to the challenge overcome" is not one of them.

Ask Coriel: Levelling as Protection

We interrupt the PvP / PvE war to answer some questions from Amava:
I found your site the other day while searching for advice on a talent build for my levelling Paladin alt who I'm currently viewing as a tank. My main is a relatively new lvl 70 Hunter. Some things that I could not find on the site, but would love to hear your ideas on are:
1) As a Prot Pally levels, what is a good order to invest the talent points? This is for a bit of solo work and tanking in 5-man instances. Speed of levelling is not a concern of mine as I value becoming a good tank way more than rushing to the end game.

This is a somewhat complicated question. Basically, there are a few key talents when levelling a Paladin: Spiritual Focus in Holy; Holy Shield in Protection; and Seal of Command in Retribution. Your plan should focus around which of these you want to take and when.

Protection really only comes into its own with Holy Shield at 31 points. The lower part of the tree is decent, but Holy Shield is the engine which drives the entire tree. My usual advice is not to bother with Protection until level 40 or 50. You can do well enough with the other trees for tanking purposes at the lower levels.

Spiritual Focus is an amazing talent for solo play as you can easily heal yourself while meleeing. Unfortunately, it costs 10 points in Holy, which will put off getting Holy Shield for another 10 levels. However, you don't need it if someone else will be healing you all the time.

So my usual advice is to go 10 points in Holy for Spiritual Focus, then 11 points in Ret for Seal of Command. Then level as Retribution until level 40 or 50. If you think you can get by without Spiritual Focus, respec to Protection at 40. Otherwise respec at 50 and keep SF.

Other than that the only difference between a Prot levelling build and a Prot end game build is Reckoning. Reckoning is very nice while levelling, but not all that useful at 70. I'd take Reckoning over 1H Specialization while levelling, then switch at 70.
2) Besides simply running instances and performing trial-n-error, do you have any ideas for how I can develop my tanking skills? I grew up as a beast master hunter on my first toon, and tanking is a hugely counter-intuitive concept to me. Ideally, I'd like to hear about things you do in 5-man groups while levelling up, since the full spectrum of threat-generating abilities and talents is not available until you get further and further into the talent trees.

Generally, learn the theory of tanking, especially the rules on how threat works. Take a look at:


This is *the* tanking guide. Although it is aimed at warriors, it is very useful for all tanks. Paladin specific resources include:

Zen Tanking

After that it's pretty much just keep Holy Shield up all the time, Consecrate when necessary, and Judge Righteousness when you can. Unlike warrior tanking, the actual mechanics of paladin tanking are not that complex.

Any other advice from Protection Paladins?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Welfare Epics, Part II

As I was reading the comments to the previous post, I realized that I had ignored one of my own ideas, that of the Two Views of Loot: Loot As Reward; and Loot as Investment.

My post was entirely from a Loot as Reward perspective, while many of the comments in opposition were from a Loot as Investment perspective. So let's break the problem down and look at it from both perspectives.

Loot As Reward

Under Loot As Reward, PvP loot is far easier to obtain than PvE loot. If we contrasted a new raid guild starting out now against a new start up PvP team, the PvP would get T6/S3 quality gear first. As well, they need to put in far less time and don't have to worry about repair costs.

The quality of reward matters under Loot as Reward. You want the best reward possible, which translates to the best gear. While the new raid guild is earning T4, the new PvP team is earning S3.

And that's unfair to PvE.

Loot As Investment

However, looking at the situation through the Loot as Investment prism reveals an important difference. The raid uses T4 gear to beat T5 content, uses T5 gear to beat T6 content, and will use T6 gear to beat Sunwell. In contrast, a PvP team needs S3 gear to beat S3 teams.

Because of the level playing field, you need to be comparable gear-wise in order to have a fair fight. Otherwise, the best teams will always have a lead on the lower teams, and it will be much harder for a new PvP team to make an impact.

So a hardcore PvPer, one who wants to compete for the Gladiator title or the epic flyer, needs to get S3 as fast as they can.


It's important to note that under Loot as Investment, the pace of PvE rewards doesn't really matter. Victory is measured by different standards: killing bosses, or rating achieved. Unfortunately, both views of loot are valid and deserve to be taken into consideration.

If Loot as Reward did not matter, why make S2 and S3 armor? Blizzard could have stuck everyone in S1 armor and kept the playing field level. They could have tagged armor with a "PvP flag", and only allowed you to wear PvP armor in the arenas, maybe with a heavy debuff if you are wearing a piece of non-PvP armor. But Loot as Reward is important to us, and thus we get new upgrades every season.

I think it's clear from the above analysis that Loot as Reward conflicts with Loot as Investment. Loot as Reward wants a slower, smoother upgrade path. S3 must be earned, and part of that earning is gaining S2 and S1. Loot as Investment wants a faster, spikier upgrade path in order to get everyone to a level playing field.

So how can we resolve this conflict?

My thought is that different areas of the PvP spectrum are dominated by different views. Low-rated teams are more likely to be PvPing for the gear reward, and are not really in contention for any of the higher rewards. In contrast, high-rated teams are competing against each other for titles and ranking, and the armor falls into the category of investment, rather than reward.

There is an inflection point, probably somewhere around 1750 rating, where you cease to look at PvP as a source of epics only, and look at it as a competition for ranking. So I would suggest a solution that took this shift into account.

My solution would be to have two purchase prices. An S3 epic would either require (numbers made up for an example):

1) 1750+ rating and 2000 Arena points


2) The equivalent S2 piece and 1500 Arena points

The idea is break up Arena rewards into the areas that they dominate. Where Loot as Investment dominates, we have a fast progression that must be earned through skill. Where Loot as Reward dominates, we have slower, more natural progression.

The key idea here--which I did not consider in my original post--is that both views of loot are valid, and both need to be considered in any potential solution.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Welfare Epics

Well, time to wade into the PvP epics, or "welfare epics", controversy. Basically, many raiders feel that PvP epics are too easily available, and are having negative effects on raiding. For example, most DPS will sport the best PvP weapon, and PvE weapons will be sharded when they drop.

First off, I am happy that PvP is another way for a player to advance their character. I like raiding, but you shouldn't have to raid in order to progress. But there are two main issues that I see with the current setup of PvP rewards.

First, the decision to make the PvP sets recoloured versions of the PvE sets was a bad one. It cheapens the accomplishments of both sides. PvP armor should look visually distinct from PvE armor.

Second, and more importantly, PvP rewards seem to lack the same sense of progression that PvE has. In PvE, you have to go through T4 content/rewards before you go to T5 content/rewards, and T5 comes before T6. You can't really skip vast amounts of content. I mean, the reason I don't have any T6 is because we're still working on T5 content.

PvP really seems to lack this. Alts in blues are now sporting S3 gear. In some manner, I think you should have to pick up some S1 gear before getting S2 gear and then S3 gear.

Someone who is in full S2 and with a 2000+ rating definitely deserves T6/S3-level gear. She shouldn't be outgeared by raiders just because she chooses to PvP. I'm just not sure that someone with a 1500 rating should be allowed to jump straight from blues to S3.

Perhaps a system where you had to have the S1 weapon and 2 pieces of S1 armor before you could purchase S2 armor would be good. Then you'd need some S2 armor and the S2 weapon before you could move on to S3. A sense of progression, of moving up steadily, rather than making large jumps.

This would also help the raiding side, as people wouldn't be able to PvP just for the weapon.

The old PvP Honor system, for all its flaws, provided this sense of progression. You got your blue boots and gloves at a certain rank, and as you rose through the ranks, you got better and better gear, eventually earning epics. But there was no sudden jump. A player with a Grand Marshal or High Warlord weapon had earned every piece of armor before that. You couldn't have a player with blues and a Grand Marshal weapon.

I think that PvPers shouldn't be allowed to skip tiers so easily. Having a more natural gear progression would also work well in PvE. A player might go from a T4 weapon, to an S1 weapon, to a T5 weapon, then to a S2 weapon, instead of jumping straight to the S2 weapon.

So those are my two issues with the current PvP Arena reward scheme. The armor needs to be more distinct from PvE armor, not just recoloured, and the rewards need a better sense of pacing and steady upgrades.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Guild Ranks and Guild Banks

Most guilds approach guild ranks as if they were in the army. They set the ranks as if they were a hierarchical chain of command, where each rank commands the ones below it.

But realistically, most guilds are small enough that there's really only one power relationship: Officers and Members. Officers command members, and that's pretty much it. The actual hierachy is very flat, regardless of the number of ranks.

So rather than looking at ranks as a chain of command, it might be more productive to look at them as mutually-exclusive "tags". These would label your membership in specific ways. For example, many raiding guilds will have "Raider", "Guild Friend", and "Alt" ranks. There's no chain of command present in those ranks, though some will be higher-ranked than others. It's just a way of labelling characters to make it easy for the leadership to sort them.

So what other ways of labelling characters might there be? One example I found on Elitist Jerks (sadly, I don't remember the guild that did this) was a guild which had the "Tank", "Healer", and "DPS" ranks. Now this is very useful way of categorizing members for a raiding guild. It allows the leadership to quickly see at a glance exactly how much of each category they have online. This is especially useful with hybrids, as you could have 3 paladins online, and each in a different category.

This setup was pretty interesting before 2.3, but with the introduction of Guild Banks, it becomes downright amazing. Permissions in the Guild Bank are tied to rank, and having different ranks for each role has a lot of benefits. For example, you could dedicate a Bank Tab for each Rank. Healers would have their own Bank Tab, dedicated to healing materials. (I forsee a lot of mana potions being stored.) Tanks would have their own tab, etc. You could even split up DPS into "Melee DPS" and "Ranged DPS" and give each of those groups their own tab.

The other advantage comes with repair costs. You can set different withdrawal limits for each role/rank, and perhaps give the tanks a larger allowance to fund their repairs. There are a lot of intriguing possibilities with this setup.

The key idea here is that treating guild ranks as a power hierarchy is possibly the most limiting way to look at ranks. Approaching ranks from a different angle can allow a guild to use their Ranks and Guild Bank much more effectively.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Who is Willy Toledo?

He appears to be a Spanish television/movie star, and he's a paladin who likes "body-to-body" fighting.

As an aside, the word "paladin" in Spanish sounds awesome.

Sadly, what jumps out at me is that once again Blizzard is promoting the paladin as a melee character. Why is it so hard for their raid/class team to understand this and shape the class accordingly?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tidewalker Down!

I forgot to take a picture, but my guild killed Morogrim Tidewalker tonight. I got to be the pally tank for the murlocs, and even got to respec Protection.

We've been bouncing around from boss to boss for the last few months, so I'm really happy to see my guild buckle down and just work on a new boss. Hopefully this trend will continue, and we can get back to serious progression.

As for Tidewalker, I think the vast majority of the wipes were my fault, until I evolved tactics that reliably dragged the murlocs to me. We had some issues sorting out healing and positioning, but I think it finally clicked and we just took him down. We did stack the raid with an excessive amount of healing (11 healers!), so we have to learn to do the fight with a normal raid group. However, as I think I have nailed down tanking the murlocs, we should be able to do it with a more normal 7-8 healers.

It was really awesome to be able to do something other than spam heals in a raid. I've really missed just doing different things in a raid. We're probably still too healer-light for me to go Prot full time, but I hopefully that will change soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ask Coriel: Seal of Command vs Seal of Blood

Larry writes:
What's your opinion on SoB versus SoC as it pertains to Retribution Paladins (especially in PvP)?

Both scale based on AP and both can crit, so they are both potentially good Retribution Seals. Now, SoB does 35% of weapon damage every hit, and SoC does 70% of weapon damage at 7 ppm. If I assume a 3.6 attack speed weapon, you get 16 attacks (rounding down) in one minute. On average 7 of those will proc SoC. If you're doing 800 damage a swing (white, non-crit), you'll do 12,800 damage. With SoC 12,800 + 3,920 = 16,720 damage in one minute, without crits and ignoring all other variables such as miss, parry, glancing, etc... If you use SoB, you get 12,800 + 4,480 = 17,280 damage in one minute.

Theoretically SoB does slightly more damage than SoC at the cost of dealing a percentage of that damage to you. SoB is also significantly cheaper in terms of mana than SoC, and in a PvP environment is (in my opinion) more reliable, though the self-damaging component is more of a negative. Another thing I'm taking into consideration is how often Vengeance can be proc'd. It's essentially 9 extra attacks a minute that can stack Vengeance. Obviously, the usefulness of this changes depending on your crit rate, but I assume most Retribution Paladins are sitting in the vicinity of 30% crit.

Now, in PvE extra crits for Vengeance isn't that great - you get 3, and it's staying up until the mob is dead. The extra procs might get you to 3 marginally faster, but as the fights are much longer and more likely to be consecutive, it's not a huge deal. However, in PvP, where you might only be fighting one or maybe two people, getting to 15% is more important. Obviously, there's times in AV where there's plentiful targets, but I think the extra attacks are worth it.

Finally, the Judgment damage. It's higher on SoB in general, but you take a decent amount of damage, and with SoC it's fairly low unless the target is stunned. Which means if you start an encounter by Repentancing a target, then you can unload a lot of damage in a few seconds, but after that, it's barely worth Judging.

For now, I'm using SoB. My Judgments are higher and the damage is more consistent. The possibility of huge bursts of damage is nice with SoC, but anyone who's been fighting and had a string of non-procs knows that frustration, especially at 3.6 attack speed.

The final consideration, which is more of a PvE thing - is down-ranking the Seals, as the Seals themselves worth off of a percentage of weapon damage; only the Judgment portion suffers from lowering the rank of the spell.

I think you are fairly correct in your assessment of SoB versus SoC for PvE. However, I'm not sure that the extra chances to crit are really worth using SoB over SoC in PvP. Sources of crits include:

1. White attacks
2. Crusader strikes
3. Seal procs
4. Judgements

You only affect one category of these by using SoB, and you give up burst damage, and you take more incoming damage. In my PvP experience, burst damage is what kills people. Not to mention that it's far more likely that people can be stunned for extra JoC damage.

As Vengeance lasts for 30s now, I think there are enough opportunities to refresh it, that using SoC over SoB will not hurt you. However, I have not really played in a high-resilience environment, so that may change things.

As for PvE, SoB is outright better than SoC. As you noted, it does more damage, and is more consistent. Additionally, the self-inflicted damage actually ends up having synergy with Spiritual Attunement, giving you mana back from splash healing, which increases your longevity. As well, SoB allows you to use the weapon with the highest DPS, as opposed to using the weapon with the highest damage range. That makes you a bit more flexible when it comes to gearing up.

Imo, SoB is a very good Seal. It is different enough from SoC that there are situations where SoC is better than SoB and vice versa. Really, Blizzard should remove Seal of Vengeance and give all paladins Seal of Blood.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rewards, Time, and Skill

jrodman, in a comment to the previous post, remarks:
You seem against systems that measure time instead of skill, but the whole honor-marks system measures time instead of skill. The old peak-system *also* measured time instead of skill but measured how much time you spent in a single week instead of cumulatively.

I am not necessarily against systems that measure time. For example, Reputation is a very good system for rewarding time spent. What I am against is reward systems which encourage "incorrect" behavior.

If time is the behavior you want to reward, then reward time. But in Battlegrounds we don't want to reward time, we want to reward people participating in PvP. The hard part is defining participation in PvP. In particular, it's very hard to tell if a person is defending a vital node, or is merely slacking. It's very easy to over-reward attacking, which leads to all offense, no defense games.

So we use time as a proxy metric for participation. But it's not a perfect match, and the AFK'ers exploit the difference between time and participation.

Imagine if AV had zero rewards. No honor, no reputation rewards. How would people play? Most people who actually bothered to go to AV would go there to win. There would be no point to being afk (unless you're a weird passive-aggressive griefer). People who need to go afk because of real-life concerns, would still go afk.

People only go AFK in AV because of the way the reward system is structured. Multiple quick losses can be worth more than a drawn-out win. You don't lose anything for indulging in negative behavior.

Secondly, when it comes to PvP, I believe that rewards should bias to the skilled. I think the Arena system is a fairly well done system (with the exception of being able to "sell" high-ranked teams). It rewards the highly skilled, but is still attractive to the less skilled.

Arena rewards victory, and time spent. But the reward for time spent is not linear, you don't get more arena points if you put in more games. You just need to do a minimum amount of time, and then victories determine the scale of your reward.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I think that while the steps Blizzard has taken to combat people who enter Alterac Valley and then sit in the cave and go Away From Keyboard are a start, there's still a ways to go to fully solve that problem. The central issue is that a person who is AFK in battle either ends up with a gain in honor, or at worst, they stay level. There is no actual penalty for being AFK.

Sure, there is an opportunity cost involved. The AFKer doesn't gain as much honor as she could. But most likely she is doing something else, a non-WoW activity such as watching TV or surfing the net, that would prevent her from actively participating. The potential scenarios are:

1. Watch TV, don't have WoW running.
2. Watch TV, sit AFK in Alterac Valley.

In the worst case, the rewards for the second scenario are equal to the rewards for the first scenario. So there is essentially no reason not to AFK while watching TV if you can.

It all comes back to Coriel's First Law of Skill:

If the metric used to measure skill cannot decrease, you are not measuring skill, but time.

Honor cannot decrease. Thus it measures time, and people will come up with ways to make it look like they are putting in the time.

The AFK Debuff needs teeth to be useful. It needs to have an actual honor penalty in order to make scenario 1 preferrable to scenario 2. Unfortunately, this might open the doors to griefing as sub-groups in AV try and declare other people AFK when they are not. An example might be a group of 70s trying to declare any non-70 in AV as AFK, in order to force them out.

Ask Coriel: Healing Shields

Kashinboner of Aman'thul writes in:
Noticed on your armory that you have the Triptych shield...I got the 33 badge healer shield already when that dropped last week. I ended up deciding not to swap and the shammy got it for his healing set.

Wouldn't mind you thoughts on the relative strengths of the two...I am trying to stack MP5 at the moment, so it was a bit of a wrench letting the 8 MP5 go.

[Triptych Shield of the Ancients]
[Light-Bearer's Faith Shield]

Triptych is probably slightly better than the Badge shield. You lose about 13 +healing in exchange for 8 mp5 and a touch more sta, int, and armor.

That being said, they're very similar, and it's arguably better for your raid for you to keep your shield and let the shammy have this shield. That way your raid has two epic healing shields rather than just one. I'm a fan of spreading the wealth and trying to minimize the amount of loot sharded or disenchanted.

Now, if the Triptych was going to be disenchanted, then grab it, but I'd let other people take it (even for offset) first.

Realistically, the next major shield upgrade is [Aegis of the Vindicator] off Magtheridon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The New Alterac Valley

I love the new Alterac Valley. The reinforcements mechanic is excellent.

In my first game (as Alliance), we swept down to Frostwolf Village in an old-school rush. It did not work out well, as the Horde recaptured the towers and graveyards behind us, and the waiting defense shredded our offense. So we went back on the defensive, but that ill-fated attack put us behind by 100 points or so. Finally, as the game wound down, we were losing 40-150, when our second offense managed to punch through and kill Drek'thar. It was a great, nail-biting game.

The best thing about the new AV is that healing feels so much more worthwhile. Intellectually, I know that healing is quite powerful, and keeping my team alive is the best strategy, but the cost of death used to be so low that it was hard to really see, especially when I could have more fun swinging a giant hammer. In the new AV, every player I save from death is another reinforcement that we have. The cost of death has increased, and that makes healing more valuable.

The new reinforcements mechanic would go very well with Warsong Gulch. If WSG had about 50-75 reinforcements, it would stop the stalemates that drag out forever. In general, I do think battlegrounds need a time-limit. Having alternate paths to victory is also important, as it allows you a variety of strategies, but one of the paths should be a time-limit. The reinforcements mechanic is a good one, as it increases the cost of death and makes people play more strategically.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Karazhan

From Sussemilch of Sanctum Patria, Moon Guard (via the WoW forums):
Attumen taught us not to waste time.
Moroes taught us that everyone needs to be paying attention.
Maiden taught us that some strategies are better than others.
Opera taught us to expect the unexpected.
Nightbane taught us to look out for each other.
Curator taught us that there's a time for everything.
Aran taught us to never give up.
Illhoof taught us to think about who we bring along.
Netherspite taught us that sometimes you should just run away.
Chess reminded us to have fun.
Prince taught us that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ask Coriel: Improved Righteous Fury

Alfred writes in:
Love the blog! Keep up the great work. Was just wondering though...I noticed you have Imp Right Fury. Does this only apply to offensive holy spells for the increased threat or to healing spells as well? Did you just grab that for soloing? Im guessing you don't have this up while healing correct?

Righteous Fury does apply to healing spells. However, paladin heals are innately lower threat (50%) compared to priest, druids, or shaman heals. And because we run with at least three paladins, I always have Salvation on.

A paladin will have 0.5*0.7*1.9 = 67% threat. A priest with Silent Resolve would have 0.8*0.7 = 56% threat. So you have a bit more threat, but not that much more. Plus, I find it's better to be higher than the other healers on the threat meters. That way, if an add does get loose, it comes to you rather than the priest. With plate and Imp RF, you can take a couple of hits.

Keeping Imp RF on gives you 6% damage reduction all the time, which helps with splash damage. Salvation will "muffle" the effects of Imp RF. So you can keep RF up pretty much all the time in raids if you have Salvation. If you don't have Salvation, you should probably turn RF off.

If you need to watch threat, or if you don't take any splash damage, you can always turn RF off. For example, Nightbane is a fight I wouldn't run with RF, because when Nightbane lands, threat can get tricky, and I don't want to pull aggro and wipe the raid.

As well, it's useful when soloing or doing PvP, and it helps me to tank 5-mans without needing to respec. In the end, there's not a lot of better choices for those 3 talent points. I could drop Imp RF and Blessed Life and pick up Imp Might, but other than that, I don't think there's any other talents that would be more useful.

One last caveat, if you melee to keep Judgements up and you use RF, use Seal of the Crusader rather than Seal of Righteousness. You don't want extra threat from the Holy damage of Righteousness. You probably won't pull aggro, but better safe than sorry. For example, I keep Judgement of Light up on Void Reaver, so I put up Righteous Fury to help mitigate the pounding and run SotC. SotC also has the advantage of speeding up your swings, so you can spend more time healing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Guide to Blessings

Table of Contents

I. The Basics
II. The Blessings
III. Blessing Priority for each Class
IV. How to Organize Your Paladins
V. Mods

I. The Basics

Blessings are powerful buffs that paladins can cast on allies. In raids, Blessings are the most desired contribution of paladins, and most 25-man raids bring at least 3 paladins in order to maximize the number of Blessings.

A Greater Blessing lasts for 30 minutes, costs a reagent, and is cast upon an entire class at the same time. The normal versions of the Blessings last for 10 minutes and are cast on a individual. A paladin can only cast one Blessing on a player at one time. If she casts another Blessing, it will overwrite her first one. Each player can have a blessing from each paladin. Thus, if there are 3 paladins in the raid, each player should have 3 Blessings.

There are also three "tactical" Blessings: Protection, Sacrifice, and Freedom. These blessings last for 30s or less and will overwrite other Blessings. Paladins often forget about these Blessings, but they are useful in specific circumstances. However, the rest of this guide will only consider the long-term Blessings.

I'm a firm believer that paladins are responsible for determining which Blessing should go on which player. Multiple people crying for different Blessings is tiresome. It's okay to remind a paladin if a Blessing (especially a normal one) wears off.

II. The Blessings

Blessing of Salvation reduces the threat generated by the target. Salvation is the first and greatest of the paladin Blessings and should almost always be the first Blessing cast. Salvation is not a safety net, it is a "damage-enabler". It allows DPS to do up to 42% more damage. They can start earlier, hit harder, and not waste time/energy/mana on threat dumps. Some DPS (rogues, mostly) will try and complain about Salvation, and request Might or Kings instead. My philosophy is that if you don't need Salvation, you aren't doing acceptable damage.

Blessing of Might adds Attack Power, both melee and ranged. It will generally add more damage than Kings, even accounting for the additional crit. Thus it is usually the second Blessing of choice for classes that rely on Attack Power.

Blessing of Wisdom adds significant mana regeneration. Again, the amount of mana returned is generally much more than the extra mana gained through Kings, and it is the second Blessing of choice for the mana-using classes.

Blessing of Light increases the healing done to the target by Paladins. It's usually the second Blessing placed on tanks, and the fourth or fifth Blessing placed on the raid. It does add a large amount of +healing, but only for the paladins, so it's value greatly depends on the number of paladins in the raid. As a rule of thumb for blessing tanks, if you have enough paladins to make Light useful, you have enough paladins to cast both Kings and Light.

Blessing of Kings increases all stats by 10%. It is the 11-point talent in the Protection tree. Most healing paladins will dip into Protection to pick up Kings. Kings is the first Blessing placed on tanks because it increases the tanks' health. It is generally the third Blessing placed on the raid. Kings is a very powerful Blessing, and is the reason most raids use at least 3 paladins. Unlike the other Blessings, Kings scales with your gear. At the very high end, it may be a better choice than Might or Wisdom.

Blessing of Sanctuary reduces incoming damage by a small amount, and deals Holy damage on a block. It is the 21-point talent in the Protection tree. It is important to note that Sanctuary's damage reduction comes before armor. Usually, only a Protection paladin picks up Sanctuary, though a Holy paladin will sometimes go 40/21/0. While it isn't a bad Blessing, it isn't as useful as the other Blessings. It is helpful on a tank handling adds that are to be AoE'd. I also prefer Sanctuary over Light as the fourth blessing on the raid, as it helps dampen the effect of splash damage, which non-paladins are usually healing.

II. Blessing Priority for each Class

Warrior (tank) - Kings, Light, Sanctuary, Might
Warrior (DPS) - Salvation, Might, Kings, Sanctuary, Light

Druid (bear) - Kings, Light, Might, Sanctuary
Druid (cat) - Salvation, Might, Kings, Sanctuary, Light
Druid (other) - Salvation, Wisdom, Kings, Sanctuary, Light

Warriors and druids usually cause the biggest hassles when organizing buffs. DPS warriors do not have ways to drop threat, so Salvation is very important to them. At the same time, putting Salvation on your tanking Warriors ends extremely badly.

As for healers, I generally prefer to put Salvation on them first. It's safest, and you don't want to lose your healers to adds, or if the tank gets incapacitated.

Hunter - Might or Wisdom, Wisdom or Might, Kings, Sanctuary, Light
Hunter (Survival) - Kings, Might or Wisdom, Wisdom or Might, Sanctuary, Light

Because Feign Death is a complete aggro wipe available every 30s, hunters do not need Salvation. Additionally, not having Salvation will give them more control over trapping and improve the effect of Misdirect. Might will usually do more damage on short fights, but Wisdom will do more on long fights.

Hunter pets get the same Greater Blessings cast on the Warrior class. This is a source of great amusement to paladins.

If you have a Survival hunter with Expose Weakness, Kings can provide more DPS for a 25-man raid. The hunter needs at least 800 Agility for this to be the case.

Mage - Salvation, Wisdom, Kings, Sanctuary, Light

Paladin (tank) - Kings, Light, Sanctuary, Might
Paladin (DPS) - Salvation, Might, Kings, Wisdom, Sanctuary, Light
Paladin (healer) - Wisdom, Kings, Salvation, Sanctuary, Light

Paladins are all over the map as well. Since paladin heals are innately low-threat, you can get away without Salvation. As well, paladins wear plate, so if a healer must pull aggro, it's better to let a paladin do so.

Priest - Salvation, Wisdom, Kings, Sanctuary, Light

Shaman (healer/caster) - Salvation, Wisdom, Kings, Sanctuary, Light
Shaman (Enhancement) - Salvation, Might, Kings, Wisdom, Sanctuary, Light

Rogue - Salvation, Might, Kings, Sanctuary, Light

Warlock - Salvation, Wisdom, Kings, Sanctuary, Light

Warlock pets get the same Greater Blessings cast on the Warlock class. If the warlock uses an Imp, make sure that Phase-Shift is turned off while Blessings are being cast. A phase-shifted Imp will not receive any Blessings.

IV. How to Organize Your Paladins

Given all the conditions in the last section, setting up paladin blessings can seem like a daunting task. This is the system that I use to assign paladin blessings. You don't need the full 5 paladins. If you only have 2 or 3, just drop the remaining Blessings.

Paladin 1 (should have Kings and Improved Wisdom)
- Greater Kings on the Warriors. If you have a third paladin, cast Greater Light instead.
- Greater Wisdom on Hunters.
- Greater Salvation on everyone else.
- Cast individual Salvation on the DPS warriors.
- Cast individual Kings on the paladin or druid tanks. Again, if you have a third paladin, cast individual Light instead.
- Cast individual Kings on Survival hunters. If you have a third paladin, stay with Greater Wisdom on all hunters.

This position is the most annoying one in the raid, as you have to make sure that the DPS warriors have Salvation but the various tanks do not. If necessary, you can use Blessing of Sacrifice or Freedom to "clean off" Salvation. If you don't have any tanking warriors, you can cast Greater Salvation on the warriors.

Paladin 2 (should have Improved Might and Wisdom)
- Greater Might on Hunters, Rogues, and Warriors.
- Greater Wisdom on everyone else.
- cast individual Might on Retribution Paladins, Enhancement Shamans, and Feral Druids.

Paladin 3 (should have Kings)
- Greater Kings on everyone.

Paladin 4 (should have Sanctuary)
- Greater Sanctuary on everyone.

If you don't have a paladin with Sanctuary, just use Paladin 5

Paladin 5
- Greater Light on everyone.

If necessary, paladin 4 or 5 could also cast individual Wisdom on Retribution Paladins and Enhancement Shamans.

This system makes it easy for paladins to buff. There's only one complex buffing strategy, that of Paladin 1. All the other paladins are responsible for one or two Blessings at most. So give the extra responsibility to your paladin who is best at remembering to rebuff.

Finally, remember that Blessing priority can also change on specific fights. If there's a lot of splash damage, you might want to prioritize Kings over Might/Wisdom. If threat is not an issue in the fight, you should drop Salvation to the bottom of the priority list.

V. Mods

I recommend the mod PallyPower to keep track of your Blessings. You can assign Greater Blessings by class, see the time remaining on each Blessing, and the range of people in each class. You can also see the Blessings being cast by other paladins who are using the mod. You can cast individual Blessing by right-clicking, allowing you to easily rebuff people who die.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Odds and Ends

Trinket Macro

Mystic Chicanery posted an absolutely beautiful macro for those of us who juggle multiple sets of trinkets. Simple and elegant. You see it, and it's an immediate "I can't believe I didn't think of that" moment.

Raiding as DPS

I got roped into a Gruul's Lair raid on Valarin. We got High King Maulgar down, and a decent attempt on Gruul. It was an interesting experience as DPS. It's a lot less stressful than healing, but there is a distinct lack of feedback. I would rank my performance as pretty poor (~400 DPS, was doing Curse of Tongues/Shadows), though to be fair I haven't put a great deal of work into Valarin. No enchants and 55 hit rating makes me sad.

The other thing I find that drops my DPS significantly is having to switch focus. I had to banish/enslave a felhound once or twice, and I'm pretty sure my DPS plummeted during that time. As a healer, I'm used to switching targets on my interface, and not selecting targets in the actual game (or even Tab-targetting). It's a skill that I really need to improve.

The other thing that was interesting was seeing a guild that had not really learned how to raid yet. I really pity the paladins in that guild. Everyone was demanding different buffs. Also, there were a couple wipes from mistakes like people accidentally aggroing mobs. I think Tharok put it well when he said that people "have not learned to respect the encounter". Simple things like running beside the wall while positioning, maintaining maximum distance from the mobs.

The best part, though, was that my repair bill was less than 5 gold.

A'lar the Phoenix God

My guild is attempting A'lar at the moment. We have Phase 1 down, and are working on Phase 2. It's a neat encounter. One of the biggest things in this encounter for healers is range. Trying to maintain range while tanks are switching off is pretty hard. I might have to go get a UI mod which visually marks people who are out of range.


I'm experimenting with Google Adsense, and have put an ad on the sidebar. I think it doesn't clash with the visuals too greatly. Adsense is fairly easy to use. My biggest concern is that I can't seem to block goldselling/powerlevelling ads. As it isn't really very lucrative, I'll probably end up taking it down in a week or so.


I've been thinking a lot about the difference between Time and Difficulty in an MMO. Which should be rewarded more: beating a difficult challenge, or beating a challenge which requires a lot of time? Is there an equivalence point? Does it matter if game time matches real-time? Is there a difference between a task which can be accomplished in 5 hours at a stretch or one where you have to spend an hour a day for 5 days? Which of those two options should get a greater reward?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Derived Stats and Spell Damage

The damage done by a spell or special ability (non-crit) generally takes the form of:

TotalDamage = BaseDamage + Coefficient * PowerStat

For melee attacks and abilities, the PowerStat is Attack Power. For spells, the PowerStat is +damage or +healing.

What's interesting here is that Attack Power (AP) is built into the game from the very beginning. It's a derived stat, meaning that it's value comes from other primary stats. Different classes use different primary stats to boost AP. Warrior, paladins, and shamans boost AP through Strength. Rogues and Hunters boost AP through Agility. Druids use a mixture depending on what form they take.

In contrast, spell damage is tacked on to this system, and only starts appearing at the high levels. Even though it behaves in the same manner as AP, it is not a derived stat, but a completely separate one. It's also different in that it's actually a collection of PowerStats, each boosting a specific spell school.

In my opinion, the Attack Power system works better than the spell damage system. It's simpler and more elegant. Additionally, it works with the five primary stats, and allows different classes to value gear in a different manner. A ring with +Agi means different things to a warrior, a rogue, or a hunter.

It's probably too late for WoW now, but reworking spell damage to mirror Attack Power would have a lot of benefits. Let's call the new PowerStat Spell Power (SP). For example, mages and priests could get Spell Power from Spirit, while warlocks and druids could get Spell Power from Intellect.

This immediately differentiates the classes. You could tweak the rate at which Spirit or Intellect is converted into SP and balance each class without seriously affecting itemization. For example, maybe 1 Spirit = 3 SP for Mages, but 1 Intellect = 2 SP for Warlocks.

The other major advantage comes with paladins and shamans. The melee-magic hybrids. For these two classes you could have Strength convert to Spell Power as well as Attack Power. This would mean that both sides of the class would scale with the same stat.

We don't really need a power stat for each separate school of magic. The only place where it's significantly used for damage spells is the tailoring epic sets. 90% of the other damage gear in the game only uses +damage/healing.

As for +healing, let's pretend that you get twice as much +healing as +spell damage. (It's not exactly twice, but it's pretty close.) So 1 Spell Power = 2 Heal Power. Taking a look at the equation above, we can go:

TotalDamage = BaseDamage + Coefficient * PowerStat
TotalHeal = BaseHeal + Coefficient * ( HP )
TotalHeal = BaseHeal + Coefficient * ( 2 * SP )
TotalHeal = BaseHeal + ( Coefficient * 2 ) * SP

Instead of using a different PowerStat for healing spells, we can use the same PowerStat and simply double the coefficent on healing spells. It accomplishes the exact same thing!

Converting the spell damage system into a mirror of the Attack Power system would accomplish many goals. It would simplify the number of stats on gear. It would allow you to differentiate classes by getting them to place different values on the primary attributes. It makes the primary attributes more valuable for spellcasters. It allows melee-magic hybrids to scale with one stat, rather than chasing two. It causes both offensive and defensive spells for healers to scale at a similar rate, rather than having extremely powerful healers who can't hurt a fly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I've upgraded to Blogger's new templates. As part of this upgrade I've decided to drop the pseudonym "GSH" and simply use my real name when signing posts. I'm not really sure why I'm doing this. To be honest, the double layer of indirection (Coriel -> GSH -> Rohan) was getting a bit weird, especially when responding to emails.

I'm totally fine with signing a blog post or a forum message anonymously, but it somehow seems wrong to sign an email as GSH. It may be the fact that a blog or forum post is a one-to-many relationship, while an email is one-to-one.

Since I'm using my real name now, I figure I might as well use a more real email address as well. It'll save me the trouble of actually remembering to check the one I made specifically for this website.

Other than that, the upgrade broke my essential posts section, so I'll have to rebuild that. It doesn't look like I'll be able to easily do it in a nice compact form for the various series of posts.

If you notice anything that has changed for the worse, or is missing, please post a comment and I'll try to fix it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Server Mergers

Several people, including Tack, have suggested server mergers as a solution to the problem of consolidating talent. I don't think this will solve the problem. I've been watching the show Numb3rs lately, and I feel inspired to make an analogy which may not actually reflect reality or mathematics.

<Professor Charles Eppes>

Imagine that a WoW server is like a bucket with a hole in it. The people on the server are like drops of water. If you fill up the bucket, water leaks out, and the bucket eventually empties.

A high-end raiding guild is like a plug. You put the plug in the hole, and the bucket stops leaking water.

Merging two low population servers is like pouring water from one leaky bucket into another leaky bucket. The amount of water increases, but the increase is only temporary.

The bucket still has the hole and, without the plug, the bucket will still eventually empty.

</Professor Charles Eppes>

Might work a little bit better with blurry visuals and random fluid dynamic equations being written out with chalk.

The analogy is crude, but you can see why I believe server mergers won't fix the problem. If you're lucky, a server merger may result in the creation of a hardcore guild which revitalizes the server. But that's not guaranteed, and the option for the hardcore to transfer is still very attractive.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Consolidation of Talent

I believe that Blizzard spends a disproportionate amount of resources on endgame content. The number of people who will see the Black Temple or Sunwell is a tiny fraction of the playerbase. The amount that this fraction pays in subscription dollars does not cover the cost of content produced for them, or the amount of customer support they use.

I also believe that these resources are being spent well. That it is important to retain the hardcore, to create content for them and keep them in the game. It is my belief that the hardcore have many beneficial effects for an MMO. They provide a spectacle for the other players, are the engine which drives the economy. They serve as aspirational models, and players that everyone knows about.

The hardcore act as hubs in the social network of the game. Without the hardcore, the world would seem emptier, and the network that binds people together, keeps people playing, would fray, and I believe the casuals would fall away.

So if the above is true, let us consider the impact another aspect of WoW: Paid Server Transfers.

The hardcore seek out the hardcore. They want to progress, and the best progression is found with like-minded people. And because they are the hardcore, they are willing to pay the fee to move to a different server. High-end raiding guilds recruit across servers. There are servers where the hardcore have congregated, which boast multiple Illidan-killing guilds. Servers like Mal'Ganis or Korgath.

This Elitist Jerks thread is an example of the situation. The majority of high-end guilds are on PvP servers. The hardcore on PvE servers would like to be able to transfer to such servers. And the phenomenon magnifies itself. If some of the hardcore leave the server, it becomes harder for the remaining hardcore to succeed, making it more likely that they too will transfer.

But what happens to the old server when they do transfer?

If the hardcore are nodes in the social network of the server, removing the nodes damages the network, and will eventually causes casuals to leave. And remember that the hardcore will consolidate themselves on a few servers. For every server the hardcore flock to, there are five or more servers being abandoned by them. Casuals will not pay to transfer servers. If the social network of their server is too badly damaged, they will simply leave the game.

On the other hand, if the hardcore are not hubs in the network, if the server will happily survive without them, then you really have to wonder if spending all those extra resources on the hardcore is worthwhile. Wouldn't it be more profitable to cater to the customers who don't require as many resources to satisfy?

Paid Server Transfers allow the hardcore to consolidate themselves on a few servers, damaging the many servers they leave behind. Blizzard needs some mechanism to push the hardcore in the opposite direction, to cause them to spread out. In the past, overcrowding and server stability was one of the main forces opposing the drive to congregate. Unstable servers caused Death & Taxes to move to Korgath, revitalizing that server. But as Blizzard's technology improves, it is less likely that unstable servers will push the hardcore to spread out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ask Coriel: Improving a Retribution Paladin

Firelight, from Steamwheedle Cartel, writes in:
As a raiding retribution paladin i'm really looking forward to 2.3 and the upgraded DPS it brings for me!

I wondered if you could take a look at my gear and tell me what you thinked about it, and what i could do to improve! Obvious upgrades for my are t4 shoulders and legs, and i'm only 5 nethers away from upgrading my chest armour as well.

Being one of the only ret-raiders in my server (that i know of) i've been finding it hard to gain acceptance from my peers who just whisper about me behind my back (retnoob etc) so i'm just wanting to be accepted by being able to do more dps!

You will need to change your talents once 2.3 comes out. I would suggest taking some points from Benediction and finishing off Fanaticism and Improved Blessing of Might (Build). Also, if you don't need Blessing of Kings, you could take 3 points from Protection and put them in the new Pursuit of Justice (Build - the last point goes in Pursuit of Justice). I'm a fan of speed increases as less time running equals more time DPSing. If you need to keep BoK for raiding, consider putting the Cat's Grace enchant on your boots.

On gems and enchants, I think you are putting a little too much weight on critical strike rating/agility, and not enough on Strength. Your crit rating is nice and high, but your AP is a bit low. Also, always go for Strength instead of pure Attack Power, because you get bonuses from Divine Strength and Blessing of Kings.

As well, once 2.3 comes out you're going to need some more hit rating, and you'll get 4% extra crit from talents and racials. Not to mention that Vengeance will last twice as long, so you can keep it up with a lower crit rating.

I would go:

Red slots = Bold Living Ruby (+8 Str)
Yellow slots = Rigid Dawnstone (+8 Hit) until you have 95 hit rating, then Inscribed Noble Topaz (+4 Str/+4 Crit)
Blue slots = Sovereign Nightseye (+4 Str/+6 Sta)
Meta = the one you have is good, but you might also want to consider Relentless Earthstorm Diamond (+12 Agi/+3% critical damage)

As for enchants, you look pretty good. Put a +6 all stats on your chest. If you can squeeze out an extra +16 hit rating (maybe from gems), consider using the Lower City head enchant. It will give you a little more AP and some more mana.

To be honest, you look pretty solid already. You just need to tweak things when 2.3 hits, and I personally would place more emphasis on Strength over crit rating when gemming.

Also, and I'm just throwing this out as an option, if you switched from armorsmithing to weaponsmithing, you would get access to some really nice weapons. But that's a big change, and you do have a decent weapon in Hammer of the Naaru, and you may not have a backup chestpiece.

Any other advice readers--especially Retribution Paladins--would give Firelight?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Paladin Community

Looking over the comments on Threat Reduction for Retribution, it seems that people on the outside don't really understand the paladin community. You see comments like "First you asked for X, and now you're asking for Y?"

The paladin community is the most fractured of all the classes. There are four main factions: Holy, Protection, Retribution, and Hybrid. The different factions want different--often opposite--things and that leads to the confusing nature of paladin feedback. Each side generally champions one tree, and does not really care about the others. The only exception are the Hybrids, who generally support all three trees, but oppose efforts to overspecialize them.

The next complication is that the Holy faction is at war with the Retribution faction. Retribution derides Holy as "healbots", and Holy calls Retribution "retnoobs". If I can indulge in some armchair psychology, the reason both these factions are at each other's throats is because a paladin is both melee and healing/support. Protection and Hybrids still try do both melee and support, though in different ways. But Holy gave up melee, and Retribution gave up healing, and by attacking each other, they try to convince themselves that what they sacrificed was not of value.

So for example, the Retribution faction asked for threat reduction and increased DPS in raids. The Holy faction opposes out of habit. Protection doesn't really care, and the Hybrids are generally supportive.

Then Retribution gets permanent threat reduction, and the Retribution faction is happy. However, the way the threat reduction is implemented hurts the Hybrid ideal, and thus the Hybrids are the paladins objecting.

The final complication is race. Alliance paladins generally view the Blood Elves as interlopers, and the Blood Elves are more than happy to antagonize them back. As well, a large percentage of vocal Blood Elf paladins are Horde raiders who rerolled after seeing the effect of Alliance paladin healers. Where the Alliance paladins were sort of "pushed" to the healing side when they started raiding, the Blood Elves embraced it from the very beginning, and are often the most militant of the Holy faction. Ironically, the Horde-specific Seal of Blood is extremely good for Retribution, a fact which seriously annoys the predominantly Alliance Retribution faction.

So that's a quick guide to the paladin community, and why different paladins complain about different buffs/nerfs. I belong to the Hybrid faction, and thus I'm generally supportive of all three trees, but not of talents that overemphasize one aspect of the paladin at the expense of the others.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Question about Raiders

I'm thinking through an idea for my next post, which which will be relatively complex. But I want to make sure that I am not missing a possibility somewhere, so I'm asking for feedback on a couple of underlying assumptions.

Assumption 1: 25-man raiders are a small minority of the playerbase.

Assumption 2: A disproportionate amount of development time is spent creating content for them.

Can anyone refute these assumptions?

Also, assuming 1 and 2 are correct, why is it worthwhile for Blizzard to create content usable only by such a small portion of the player base?

I have my own ideas about that, and I've written about them before, but I'd like to see if anyone has any other reasons that I may not have considered.

Edit: For reference, here is the last article I wrote on the subject.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Threat Reduction

Blizzard is giving Retribution Paladins threat reduction:
After further discussion and testing we’ve decided to add threat reduction deep in the paladin's retribution tree. Fanaticism will now reduce threat caused by all actions by 6/12/18/24/30%, in addition to its current effect.

It seems like Blizzard is equalizing all the melee DPS specs at 30% threat reduction. Rogues, Feral Druids, Fury Warriors, Enhancement Shamans, and now Retribution Paladins will all have the same level of built-in threat reduction.

The only negative is that this talent will make it very hard for Retribution Paladins to tank or off-tank. So much for my Ret OT build. To be honest, I'm not sure I really approve of building such a large, permanent disadvantage into a talent. It seems against the spirit of talents.

In general, a paladin with talent points is always equal to or better than a 0/0/0 paladin at every task. This holds true for pretty much every class. But now it's possible that a Ret paladin will be worse than a 0/0/0 paladin at tanking. And that doesn't really seem right to me. Maybe the increased damage from the other Retribution talents will make up for the loss of threat.

I mean, Shadowform is an awesome talent for Shadow Priests. Would it still be a good talent if it was permanent? 99% of the time a Shadow Priest will be in Shadowform, but being able to turn it off is a lifesaver for that 1%.

Still, from a pure DPS point of view, this is a massive buff. Now, just kill Seal of Vengeance and give all paladins Seal of Blood, and Retribution will be in solid shape.

Then Blizzard can start work on the harder task: fixing Holy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hit Caps Post Updated

I've updated my Hit Caps for Bosses post to reflect the Expertise changes in 2.3. Take a look and tell me if you see anything that should be changed.

Also, if anyone can point me to the definitive Dodge cap number, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

2.3 Patch Notes

The 2.3 Patch Notes are out. Some first impressions follow.

Expertise: We have added a new stat and associated rating called expertise and expertise rating. Expertise rating converts to expertise at the same rate that weapon skill rating formerly converted at. Each point of expertise reduces the chance for your attacks to be dodged or parried by 0.25%.

Weapon Skill: All items and abilities that granted weapon skill have been changed. In most cases, they were converted to expertise or expertise rating. Ranged attacks do not benefit from expertise, so ranged weapon skill has generally been replaced by critical strike bonuses or hit bonuses. In a few cases, talents have been changed to other effects to avoid granting players excessive amounts of expertise

Bah, I have to go rewrite my +Hit Caps guide. Basically, this removes the disparity between the first 5 points of weapon skill and the subsequent points, which is a good thing. Hit caps will generally rise across the board for physical damage classes. At first glance, expertise rating is roughly equal to hit rating for melee dps classes, and twice as good for tanks. It also raises the possibility of capping out both hit rating and expertise rating, and always hitting/critting the mob.

Healing: Almost all items and enchantments that provide bonus healing now also provide a smaller number (approximately 1/3) of bonus spell damage. There are a few items and enchantments where this was not possible, such as random-stat items and Zul'Gurub enchantments, but this is now the case on virtually all other items.

Awesome! Simply awesome. I can solo in my raiding epics, and even add extra damage in between heals. Heck, I might even be able to disenchant my spelldamage set now and free up a entire bag worth of bank space!

Blessing of Light: Lower ranks of Flash of Light and Holy Light are now properly penalized when used with this Blessing.

This nukes downranking Holy Light pretty hard. Which is how it should be. In my opinion, costs are what maintain balance, and messing around with costs leads to degenerate gameplay. To be honest, I think Blizzard should do away with down-ranking entirely, not even offering it as an option. I think the game would be better for it.

Cleanse and Purify range increased to 40 yards.

Another great change. No more healing and then finding out you're out of range of a Cleanse.

Crusader Strike (Retribution) cooldown reduced from 10 to 6 seconds.
Exorcism mana cost reduced.
Hammer of Wrath mana cost reduced.
Holy Wrath mana cost reduced.
Improved Seal of the Crusader (Retribution) benefits folded into the base spell. This talent now gives the benefits of the Sanctified Crusader talent instead.
Judgement of Light: The combat log will now show the mana gained from rank 5 of this ability as Judgement of Light instead of Seal of Light.
Pursuit of Justice (Retribution) is now 3 ranks and increases movement speed by 5/10/15% and also reduces the chance you'll be hit by spells by 1/2/3%.
Sanctified Crusader (Retribution) renamed Sanctified Seals, which now increases your chance to critically hit with all spells and melee attacks by 1/2/3% and reduces the chance your Seals will be dispelled by 33/66/100%.
Vengeance (Retribution) duration increased from 15 to 30 seconds.
Vindication (Retribution) frequency and duration increased and now reduces all attributes by 5/10/15%, not just Strength and Agility.

Various Retribution buffs that seem aimed at PvP for some reason. I'm sure that it will help there, but threat reduction seems a curious omission, given that DPS warriors and Enhancement Shamans got extra threat reduction.

Weapon Expertise (Protection) renamed Combat Expertise, now increases expertise by 1/2/3/4/5 and total Stamina by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Solid change. I predict that the standard Protection build will drop Reckoning for Weapon Expertise. As well, with the changes to Improved Seal of the Crusader and Pursuit of Justice, the new challenge will be bleeding enough points from Protection to fill out Retribution.

Corpses that belong to someone in your party, but that you cannot loot will say in the corpse mouseover who has loot rights on that corpse. This will help skinners who want to know who to talk to in order to skin their corpse, as well as master looters when special loot drops on a normal monster. Everyone will then see that there is a monster that the master looter has loot rights on.

It comes late, but no raid shall ever be faced again with an unlooted Core Hound. Let us mourn the passing of the defining experience of Molten Core: "Loot the Hound!"

Lowered the fireball damage of Defias Pillagers.

Their unholy reign of terror has finally come to an end.

Elite mobs outside of pre-Burning Crusade dungeons have been changed to non-elite.

The burning question of 2.3: Has Hogger been nerfed?

Other than that there's a lot of UI cleanup changes, new low level content, a new 10-man, and guild banks. There's also some crazy Arms/Fury warrior changes which I don't really understand. All in all, a very full content patch. I don't think PvE Retribution paladins are going to be too happy, but it looks fairly decent otherwise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time to Max Level

In patch 2.3, Blizzard is reducing the amount of experience required to level by 15% (for levels 20-60). Most people are happy about the change, though there are some people (such as Tobold) who questioning if this devalues the existing levelling game.

I would like to look at it from a sightly different angle. Let's define a concept called Time to Max Level. It's basically the amount of play time the average player would have to spend for her first character to reach the level cap.

Here's my question:

Should Time to Max Level depend on the value of the max level?

I think that it should not, that Time to Max Level should be independent of the numerical value of the max level. That there's a sweet spot, probably around 8 months, where someone who is new to the game and plays a couple of hours a week can eventually reach the cap. Reaching the cap is a major milestone, and should be in reach of every player. If that basic goal seems out of reach, it's very discouraging.

When WoW first came out, many reviews praised it for being easy for even casual players to hit the level cap. The actual number of the cap didn't matter, only that people could reach it.

But if it takes 8 months to reach 60, and 4 months to go from 60-70, that's 12 months to reach the max level. And when the next expansion comes out, that's another 4 months. Soon it will be impossible for a new player to reach the max level before the next expansion comes out.

Of course, if you add more levels, you need to make the levelling time faster for the earlier levels in order to keep Time to Max Level constant. So I think that Blizzard is on the right track with speeding up 20-60 levelling. I hope they continue this trend with the next expansion, speeding up 60-70, and trying to keep hitting the level cap within the reach of even the most casual players.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Choosing Your Battles

With the removal of attunements, there is a point where a T4 raiding guild is faced with multiple possible paths for progression. Many guilds, in my opinion, are choosing a path which looks deceptively easy, but has a lot of negative repercussions.

After a guild kills Gruul, there are three or four possible choices for the next boss to focus on: Magtheridon, Hydross/Lurker in Serpentshrine Cavern, and Void Reaver in Tempest Keep. Of these bosses, Void Reaver is the easiest, and Magtheridon is probably the hardest. Given that Void Reaver drops T5 shoulders, a lot of guilds choose to tackle him after Gruul. I believe that this is a mistake, which ends up hurting the guild progression in the long run.

Casual raiding guilds, especially those on a limited schedule, need to organize their schedule for progression. There are three competing constraints that a raiding guild needs to follow:
  1. Maximize the time spent on Progression instances.
  2. Minimize the time spent on Farming instances.
  3. Maximize the number of epics gained from the Farming instances.

You need to spend time on boss fights to learn them. The more time you spend on a fight, the better your progess is. But you still need to farm a beaten instance for gear in order to improve your raid. Spend too much time farming, and you won't get the experience on fights that you need to beat them. Spend too little time farming, and your raid won't improve gear-wise. (Not to mention that your raid will get discouraged from the lack of loot.)

The key to sustainable progression lies in how you manage your farming time.

So, keeping this in mind, let's look at the three options again. What happens after you put the target on farm?

If you kill Void Reaver or Lurker/Hydross first, your farming instance is Gruul's Lair. You'll get about 7 epics for your farm night, and you'll probably have to add Karazhan runs to supplement the extra gear. Or you'll end up working on SSC, but farming Gruul's Lair and Void Reaver, which takes a fair bit of time and nets 10 epics.

On the other hand, if you tackle Magtheridon first, it may take a bit longer to learn the fight, but once he's down you have a farm night of Gruul's Lair + Magtheridon, which is very fast and gives 12 epics. This allows you to give the maximum amount of time to the next raid instance.

In fact, I believe that a guild should ignore Void Reaver until SSC is complete and becomes your farm raid. Even though you can kill him earlier, going after Void Reaver earlier is non-optimal for the three constraints listed above.

In my opinion, raid progression should go in the following order:
  1. Karazhan
  2. High King Maulgar/Gruul/Magtheridon
  3. Serpentshrine Cavern
  4. Tempest Keep
  5. Mount Hyjal
  6. Black Temple

You should concentrate on one instance, and farm only the instance behind it. As you move down, you drop the oldest instance in favor of farming the next instance. For example, once you've killed Magtheridon, move into Serpentshrine Cavern and drop Karazhan. Once you've killed Lady Vashj, move into Tempest Keep and drop High King Maulgar/Gruul/Magtheridon.

Note that this list is not organized in order of boss difficulty. The objective here is not to cherry pick bosses as you are able to, but to optimize for the three constraints. Maximize progression time. Minimize farming time. Maximize loot from farming.

I believe that is the best recipe for long term success.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blizzard's Secret Weapon

I don't really understand game companies. They say a lot about copying Blizzard, but then they never do. There has been one constant about Blizzard games ever since the first Warcraft: Odds are the game will run on your machine.

And this is crucial. If your machine can't run the game, why would you buy it? Blizzard constantly sets the system requirements low. They make their games available for Macs. They deliberately stylize their art so that it still looks good on low end machines.

Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft. Time and time again, Blizzard pulls the same trick, and no one else seems to learn.

And yet other companies do not seem to realize this at all. If you can't run the game, you won't buy the game. I play on a laptop, with a built-in video card. No nVidia, no ATi. And yet WoW runs, looks halfway decent, and thus I give Blizzard my money. I'm not going to go spend a couple thousand dollars just to play your game.

It's not the only reason Blizzard is successful, but I think it's a major one.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The 10-man to 25-man Transition

I used to believe that Blizzard made a mistake by starting raiding with a 10-man and then forcing guilds to move to a 25-man model. I thought that running two Kara groups and having to increase in size would be too much work and organization for most guilds, and would prevent the majority of guilds from really experiencing raid content.

I think I was wrong.

The data that has forced me to change my mind comes from WowJutsu. WowJutsu is an automated ranking site that crawls through the Armory. It notes when new loot from raids appears on characters and uses that to determine which guilds have killed which bosses. It's not perfect, but it is fairly accurate for the most part.

On the side, they have an automated list showing what percentage of raiding guilds have killed each boss. For example, only 3.37% of raid guilds have killed a boss in Black Temple. By comparing the number of guilds on two bosses that come right after each other in progression, we can see which bosses guilds are "stuck" on.

When examining the 10 to 25-man transition, we look at the end bosses of Karazhan and the first boss of Gruul's Lair, High King Maulgar. First, we make an assumption:

Assumption 1: If your guild has killed Maulgar, your guild has killed Nightbane.

This is a pretty reasonable assumption to make, in my opinion. From WowJutsu, we see that 74.51% of all raid guilds have beaten Nightbane, and 72.68% of all raid guilds have beaten High King Maulgar. This means that the vast majority of guilds who beat Nightbane go on to beat High King Maulgar. That they are able to overcome organizational challenge of getting 25 raiders. The conversion rate is a whopping 97.5%.

But maybe the assumption is wrong. Maybe there's a number of guilds who have killed HKM, but not Nightbane, and that's skewing our results. So let's soften it to:

Assumption 2: If your guild has killed Maulgar, your guild has killed Prince Malchezzar.

Honestly, if your guild has killed HKM, there is zero excuse for Prince Malchezzar to still be alive. Now we see that 88.88% of guilds have killed Prince Malchezzar. Again, the majority of guilds who beat Malchezzar go on to beat HKM. The conversion rate here is 81.8%. That's lower, but it's still very reasonable. 80% of all raiding guilds are able to navigate the transition from 10-man to 25-man.

I think that this is a reasonable result. It's not perfect, but between the Nightbane and Prince Malchezzar numbers, it's evidence that going from a 10-man to 25-mans was not a mistake, and the transition is within the capabilities of most guilds.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Respawns and my Guild

After some thought, I think I might hate trash respawns because they are disproportionately affecting my guild.

My guild raids 3 days a week, for three hours a night, from 6:30 to 9:30. We can go longer, but there are people who have to leave at 9:30, so we have to do swap-outs.

Most trash now respawns on a 2-hour timer. That means that trash respawns in our third hour of raiding. So we're always faced with the choice of reclearing trash and extending the raid to get more attempts in; or calling the raid early. We very rarely get to end the raid on time.

If trash respawned on a 4-hour timer, we would almost never see it respawn, and thus I would not really care about respawns. Or if we raided for four hours a night, it would be an inconvience, but a relatively minor one as we could reclear and get in several more attempts before ending on time.

Is a three hour raid window unusual? I don't think so. I think it's a very natural slice of time for a more casual guild to schedule a raid. Unfortunately, it just happens to mesh badly with 2-hour trash respawns.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Gear Philosophy

One activity that I find very interesting is the making of gear lists. You see people making lists of their ideal gear, and then running instances over and over until they get the exact gear that they want.

This is something that I don't do. Mostly because Lady Chance and I have an understanding: if I want an item, it will not drop.

The only items that I have ever really wanted was the paladin Tier 2, Judgement Armor. I was in a guild that cleared Blackwing Lair. Yet I entered TBC with only one of the eight pieces (the gloves, I believe). I never got my helm to drop from Onyxia. I lost the roll for the legs to a paladin wearing a necklace from Scarlet Monastery.

So I follow a different philosophy: If you do stuff, loot will drop. Do a variety of instances, and upgrade whenever possible. Even if the item is not the "ideal" item for that slot, take it if it is better than your current gear. Spend your DKP freely, and do not hoard it for the perfect item. As long as you keep doing instances, things will work out. Work on all your sets at the same time. If you are Holy, and a good Ret piece drops, spend DKP on it.

Of course, show some courtesy to your fellow players. If something is off-set for you, and main-set for someone else, let them have it.

As long as you keep doing stuff, loot will come. I don't think it's worthwhile to worry about what the "absolute" best piece of gear for the slot.

About the only exception to this philosophy is crafted gear. It's worthwhile to look over the crafted gear in the game, and see if there are any pieces there worth working towards. But this is because crafted gear is not random.

So that's my philosophy. Don't sweat the "ideal" drops, and continuously upgrade. Eventually you'll end up with decent gear.