Monday, January 31, 2011

Gearscore for Guilds

If you look at the new Raid and Guild Leadership forums, you'll see that there's a fair amount of antipathy for Blizzard's new guild levelling scheme. There's a lot of small guild leaders bemoaning the fact that everyone wants perks, so they join the higher level guilds which have unlocked more perks.

While there's probably a little bit of perk-hunting going on, I think that most people are opting for higher-level guilds for a reason closer to the reasons behind Gearscore.

Gearscore was a weak proxy for raid experience which in turn is a weak proxy for effectiveness. People used Gearscore because they wanted to have successful pick-up raids, and didn't really have any other quick and easy method to evaluate strangers.

In the same way, people join guilds for new opportunities. Opportunities to meet new people, do new content, earn a high PvP rank, etc. People leave guilds when they feel they can't obtain those new opportunities.

Guild levels are a weak proxy for activity, which is a weak proxy for opportunities. It's not a big stretch to say that a Level 13 guild is more active than a Level 4 guild. There are probably more people playing regularly and actually doing stuff in the high level guild than the low level guild. And in turn, there's probably more opportunity to do stuff in an active guild than in an inactive guild.

Now, of course this may not be strictly true. For example, the raid team could be fully established, with no room for you. Or the players could be very clique-ish. Or maybe the tenor of guild chat is offensive to you.

But on the whole, that Level 13 guild probably offers more opportunities than the Level 4 guild. So people prefer to join the higher level guilds, even though they are not motivated solely by perks.

Of course, though, this leaves the same problem as Gearscore: how do you bootstrap yourself to a higher level? You need people to become an active guild, but people won't join you until you become an active guild.

I don't really have any solutions for that part.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Odd PuG Group

Had a rather interesting pickup group the other day. It was heroic Blackrock Caverns.

I zoned in and joined Tank1, Dps1, Dps2, and Dps3. They were all from the same guild. We kill the first boss, good group, all DPS over 9k. I'm thinking it will be a quick clean run.

Then Tank1 leaves the group. Tank2 joins from LFD. Then Dps1, Dps2, and Dps3 leave as well. They are replaced by Dps4, Dps5, and Dps6.

I'm not really certain what's going on, but we continue on to Corla. We wipe once, because it's Dps4's first time with the beams, and he screws up. Dps5 and Dps6 leave the group, and are replaced with Dps7 and Dps8.

We kill Corla cleanly and move on. We wipe once on Karsh Steelbender, I think because the tank didn't pull the boss out of the fire fast enough. Tank2 leaves, followed by Dps7 and Dps8.

Tank3 joins along with Dps9 and Dps10. We kill Karsh Steelbender, and then kill the end boss, skipping Beauty.

It was a really odd run. There were only two wipes, one per boss, so it wasn't like a wipefest. Yet I went through 3 tanks and 10 dps to complete that run.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Direction of Holy Paladin Mana

I'm not really happy with the direction Holy Paladin mana seems to be going.

In the run up to Cataclysm, Blizzard said that they were aiming to make mana matter. That a good healer would conserve mana by healing efficiently. By using the right heal at the right time. By reducing overheal.

I liked that idea. It seemed good, a way to get back to the basics of healing.

But paladins seem to be going in a different direction. Rather than worrying about healing efficiently, paladin mana management seems to be boiling down to:
  1. How good are you at Judging on cooldown?

  2. How good are you at hitting Divine Plea on cooldown?

  3. How good are you at abusing Holy Power generation via Tower of Radiance or Blessed Life or 1-pt WoG/Protector of the Innocent/Beacon Transfer or even Crusader Strike?

Gimmick. Gimmick. Gimmick.

All I want to do is heal. I don't see what was so wrong with letting us heal without having to worry about all this other stuff.

If I had my way, I wouldn't raise the cost of paladin heals by 10%. I'd be axing Divine Plea, mana return on Seal of Insight, Tower of Radiance, and Blessed Life.

If you want costs to matter, you can't keep putting in mechanics that evade costs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quick Note On Random PuGs

I don't know why people are so down on random LFD groups. I get random groups with four people sporting [The Light of Dawn] title.

And even better, none of them wore plate, so I got all the plate DPS loot.


Monday, January 17, 2011

My Holy Setup and Macros

Alright, I've been bouncing around Holy playstyle for a bit now, and I think I've come up with a setup that's making me happy. This is what I'm currently doing in game. I'm not 100% sure it's what is recommended by Elitist Jerks, et al. Last time I looked at EJ, they seem to have gotten distracted by trying to find the maximum possible rate of Holy Power generation. Which, to me, is sort of missing the forest for the trees.

So this is my current setup.

Talent Spec

Current spec and Glyphs: 31/5/5

I take the Word of Glory points, skip Tower of Radiance, and put 1 point in Blessed Life.


On the Word of Glory side, WoG is really good for tank healing. Even if it does less healing than Light of Dawn, it's much easier to keep a tank up with it. I put Beacon on one tank, and mainly focus the other tank.

Healing-wise, my seal is Seal of Insight naturally. My main rotation is 3pt WoG (or LoD if need more raid healing), then Holy Shock, then a HS-DL macro:
/castsequence Holy Light, Holy Light, Divine Light

What I've found is that if I only use HL as a filler, I spend almost no mana, but it seems to need a little more punch. If I try and use DL as a filler, I go dry very fast. The 2:1 ratio of HL:DL seems to drain mana at a nice rate, while doing a solid amount of healing.

Of course, if you need to bust out DL or FoL for intense healing you still can. I've macro'd Guardian of Ancient Kings with DL, so that the emergency heals start together.
/cast Guardian of Ancient Kings
/cast Divine Light

I've also macro'd my trinkets and Divine Protection to Holy Shock, to get maximum use out of them.

The last macro I use is Holy Radiance and Divine Favor or Avenging Wrath.
/castrandom Divine Favor, Avenging Wrath
/cast Holy Radiance

What this does is trigger one of Divine Favor or Avenging Wrath. It casts whichever one is not on cooldown, or randomly picks one if both are available. I find it's good for spreading out your CDs, while still ensuring that your Holy Radiances are boosted.

Edit: As people have indicated in the comments, this does not work as I intended. The /castrandom can choose the spell on CD, and if that happens then it won't choose a different spell until it casts the original spell.

So that's healing spells. Also don't forget Blessing of Sacrifice and Judge often. I definitely need to improve the amount I judge.

Stats and Gear

Main stat is Intellect. Intellect flask and food.

Secondary stat order: Spirit > Haste > Crit > Mastery.

Reforge Mastery then Crit to Spirit then Haste. Enchants focuses on stats as presented, but get Run Speed to boots.

For gems, I think the stat bonuses are worth it this time around, so red Int gems, orange Int/Haste gems, and blue Int/Spi gems.

Personally, I don't worry about specific gear pieces, just upgrade whenever possible.


So that's my current Holy setup for raids. It seems pretty decent so far.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Heroic Difficulty

Judging from the comments on the last post, I think some people may have misconstrued my sentiments about heroic difficulty. Here's my real thoughts:

Heroics need to be nerfed.

Just so you understand, I've pugged every single heroic. I had full i346 before I got a single piece of raid loot.

Heroics are hard and challenging. But they need to be nerfed.

Why? Because of the space heroics currently occupy in the game. Heroics are a necessary stepping stone to raids. If people fall off the path in heroics, before they ever get to raiding, raiding will be a disaster this expansion. What's the point of 4.1 with new raid tiers if the majority of the playerbase is struggling with heroics?

The decision to release raids with Cataclysm was a total mistake. If raids had not released, heroics would not be a stepping stone, they would be the current endgame. And they are pitch-perfect difficulty to be endgame for a couple months.

But with the route Blizzard took, heroics are not endgame, they're a mere stepping stone to endgame. And they are too difficult for a stepping stone, given the probable timespan to the next major patch. Thus they need to be nerfed to match the proper difficulty for their placement.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Catering to Casuals

So Blizzard is toning down some of the heroics in the upcoming 4.0.6. Personally, I didn't think they were that bad. I've done them all, usually in a PuG. It's not a guaranteed success every run, sometimes you just wipe. But my PuGs have been pretty decent. Still, I wouldn't mind not wincing whenever I see the Stonecore loading screen.

But one nerf is a nerf too far. A veritable slap in the face for all of Blizzard's dedicated players.
The final rope swing while fighting Vanessa VanCleef has been removed. Players no longer need to swing off of the boat at the end of phase 3.

I've broken out the Elitist Jerks spreadsheets, and run numerous sims, and can say with confidence that this nerf results in a 17% decrease in fun for this fight (19% for rogues).

Using my status as a serious Internet pundit, I demand that Blizzard revert this nerf! If they don't, I will threaten to quit (but not actually quit--let's not go crazy here).

(Seriously, what's up with this change?)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tol Barad

Blizzard has a very interesting post on Tol Barad today. It turns out that Blizzard deliberately made it easier to defend, because they didn't want it to just flip sides, and to make capturing it a more momentous event.

Of course they made it too hard, and they increased the rewards to 10x for the attacking team. Which promptly led to win-trading to maximize honor gained for both sides. Blizzard recently reduced the honor for winning, and Tol Barad seems more or less back to normal.

On a side-note, its interesting to note that the reverse scenario does not produce win-trading, while still encouraging people to fight hard. If defending is harder than attacking, but defending has 10x rewards, you don't get win-trading. This is because winning as defense keeps you in the defensive position. But it doesn't accomplish the goal of making captures a momentous event. It makes a successful defense a momentous event.

First, I really wonder if fiddling with rewards will ever produce the result they want. Can motivation to win really outweigh the mechanical advantage, especially in an ad hoc group?

A commenter at MMO-Champion described the situation as two extremes: either the defending faction always holds Tol Barad, or Tol Barad switches every battle. Blizzard is aiming for something in-between. But it seems like this genre always ends up hugging one extreme or the other, so I'm not sure if Blizzard can hit the mark.

My solution to Tol Barad, given Blizzard's goals, is to leave the map weighted in favor of defense. Then I would add a stacking buff (a la ICC) to the attacking side, Attacker's Resolve. Each time the attackers fail to capture the island, the buff increases. When they do capture the island, the buff resets and goes to the other faction. The amount of honor the defense gets for winning would scale with the buff.

What this does is ensure that eventually the mechanical advantage goes from defender to attacker. It might take a while, and the exact point where the switchover happens is uncertain. Meanwhile, the defenders are always attracted by the honor gain, especially when the buff starts to get high. That means that more attackers can join the battle, since it's one-for-one.

But the defense still needs to win to gain the honor, they can't throw the game, and the attackers are less likely to throw the game because the defenders would remain in the desired position.

(It's possible that a server would come to an agreement to always switch when the buff reaches a certain point, but it's almost impossible to prevent that without making the reward zero-sum. You could remove the reward increase, but that might encourage defenders to stop showing up after a certain point.)

Basically Tol Barad would boil down to an equation. When does:

Attacker Skill + Attacker's Resolve Buff = Defender Skill + Defender Map Advantage

It might be a different point for each server, or be different for different times of the day. But eventually, the attackers would win, and the island would change hands. There would always be hope that this battle would be the tipping point.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Light of Dawn versus Word of Glory

Before this week, I tended to use Word of Glory almost exclusively. Especially with the 40% nerf, it seemed like Light of Dawn didn't really match up. But then I took a look at logs from a raid night. It turned out that WoG didn't actually do that much healing, less than 10% of my total.

It was somewhat concerning, especially when you consider that the standard Holy Paladin build spends 4 talent points and a Prime Glyph to support that single spell. So I experimented with a build that eschews the WoG points, and cast Light of Dawn exclusively.

I think it actually worked out better in terms of total healing done, at least for 25-man raids. It was okay in heroics, but I liked WoG a little better there.

Side Notes:
  • Blessed Life contributed about 10% extra Holy Power (70 points to Holy Shock's 736).
  • Word of Glory contributed more (170 points) but it meant that I was mostly using Word of Glory. Light of Dawn's total healing was still higher, even with less Holy Power.
  • Tower of Radiance barely contributed any points (11 tonight). Partially that's due to my healing style, but right now it's looking like a terrible waste of talent points.
  • I've changed my mind on Haste versus Crit. I forgot that one spell, Holy Radiance, does have a straight HPM benefit from Haste. And Holy Radiance does a ton of healing.
  • As well, healing feels "snappier" with a lot of haste. It just seems to play better, even if you are spending mana at a faster rate.

So I'm still thinking about the best Holy playstyle. So far, I much prefer using Light of Dawn as the Holy Power finisher, rather than Word of Glory.

I'm considering trying a build like 31/3/7, and seeing how that works.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Johnny Moment with DK Tanks

WoW theorycraft is pretty straightforward. However, occasionally you stumble across something clever and unusual. Something Johnny would appreciate.

I had one such moment when looking at Death Knight tank theorycraft recently.

I was looking at DK tank builds, and came up with a nice Blood/Unholy build. Then I popped over to Elitist Jerks to see how far off accepted theorycraft I was. I was surprised to the see that the suggested DK tank build went 6 points into the Frost tree to pick up Lichborne.

Spending 6 points to pick up a fear break seemed unusually situational to me. So I kept reading. And it turns out the real reason behind Lichborne is kind of cool.

Lichborne turns you into an undead for 10 seconds. Death Coil can be used to heal undead. And [Glyph of Death's Embrace] makes the heal very cheap.

It all gets combined into a macro that essentially turns Lichborne into a quasi-tank cooldown, helping the DK to heal herself back up after a big hit:
#showtooltip Lichborne
/cast Lichborne;
/cast [@player] Death Coil

Pretty clever, in my opinion. A moment for Johnnies to appreciate.