Monday, July 23, 2007

Fuck This Shit

Maaan...seriously...FUCK. THIS. SHIT.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Acid Test, Passed

A couple of night's ago, I got an invite to a heroic underbog run. The inviter was a mage from , one of the more progressed guilds on our server, and I figured that the group would be a strong one. I acquiesced, not entirely sure if my hybrid spec would be enough. I was most fearful about losing Light's Grace for the 2-second Holy Lights, mainly because the bog lords can pack quite a punch as they keep growing.

Turns out my fears were unwarranted. Of course, the tank's gear also helped. As did the dps capabilities of the entire group. First time I saw a survival hunter outdps a mage.

Just the 3 wipes. First one was the 2 bog lord pull before the first boss. I had Righteous Fury up (90% increased threat on holy spells) for some retarded reasons, so my heals pulled aggro, and I got critted into oblivion. The rest of the group followed, but not before taking one of them down, so then it became a standard bog lord pull. Then, the second boss got a thrash (extra hits, like a windfury effect) on the tank at the wrong time. The final wipe was due to the tank pulling 6-7 insects at once just before the third boss. We stayed up for a long time nonetheless, before they overwhelmed us.

This was the first time I healed for the 2 bog lords before the final boss. Tanks are often required to use Shield Wall just to get past these, and not without reason. I saw our warrior get hit for 8000 after only a couple of growths. The tank actually went down on the second one, but the group managed to finish off the bog lord.

Just about an hour and a half later, we all left the instance 4 badges richer. I also got myself a Cossack of the Loyal (finally able to discard the leather legs from Kara), a dps ring (meh) as well as the Argussian Compass, which makes AoE farming a lot easier. Very successful run.

I am regularly AoE tanking non-heroic 5-mans and breezing through them as a result. The healing stints categorically proved (if only to myself) that my hybrid spec is definitely where I want it to be. Not being shafted into a healbot role makes playing a paladin that much more enjoyable.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Fickle Friend

Let me first clarify that the eponymous friend is not a person.

The oft-mentioned warrior friend of mine (Narot's the name) came online last night, and we decided to get some 2v2 action going. We had ended the week before at 1607, down from 1625 as we tried to accomodate another not-as-geared player and get him his share of points.

We started off against lower ranked teams, and promptly decimated them. Had it not been for a slight misunderstanding where Narot thought he was about to disconnect and I left queue, we would have gone 5-0. 1650 plus for the first time led to a few passing comments about our uberness.

Alas, it was not to last.

If there is one thing that is my bane in arenas, it is elemental shamans in DPS-heavy teams. They have such amazing burst (especially with bloodlust), and since 800 bonus spell damage is also 800 bonus healing, their heals are very potent as well. With nature's swiftness, they can potentially do upto 12000 damage at the space of one global cooldown, which is only 1.05 seconds with bloodlust. And this is not considering any help from their partner. And it especially didn't help that all the elemental shamans we faced were wearing multiple pieces of arena gear.

Faced with such overwhelming brutality, our win:loss ratio dropped to a clumsy 5:5. Because of the arena rating reset last month, these teams were all lower rated than us, so we lost more points by losing to them, than we could have gained winning against them. We came back under the 1600 mark, finishing at 1576.

One of the highlights though, was when I almost took a warrior down from 50% after our partners died. I never got a chance to change into my tanking gear, or I am confident that I could have emerged victorius.

On a more positive note, I recently started a 5v5 team that has been doing very well. We went up 1520 in our first 5 games before we went up against a 3 warlock team 4 times in a row, and got decimated. This week, I am yet to play any of the games, but we are already above 1550. I have also got offers of 3v3s coming my way, and should see some action in that bracket this weekend.

Let's just hope the elemental shamans stay away.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Exalted with Skyguard

I have finally finished my Sha'tari Skyguard rep grind, slowing down substantially as I neared the Exalted mark. Now my Holy damage set boasts a Airman's Ribbon of Gallantry, while my Retribution set can say the same about a Skyguard Silver Cross.

And I just had to have a Nether Ray mount, so I handed out the 180g and picked the silver one.

Ain't it a beaut? My only complaint is that (not surprisingly) the rays don't have a 'on ground' animation, so they just fly, albeit slower. Still, this has taken over as my primary mount.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

On Crits and Crushes

The outcomes on the attack table used in WoW (refer to my earlier post about Blizzard's table-based combat system here) are, in order of dominance: miss, dodge, parry, block, critical hit, crushing blow, and lastly, normal hit.

The order of dominance is at the center of the table-based combat system. Simply put, the chance of any outcome in the table occuring depends on the cumulative chance of the more-dominant outcomes (those listed earlier in the attack table).

A couple of examples should clear things up. Being the least dominant outcome, the chance of a normal hit is dependent on the cumulative chance of everything else. If these chances add up to a 100% (which is not unreasonable), the chance for a normal hit will drop to 0%. If a very undergeared tank (with dodge, parry and block chances of only 5% each) is fighting a raid boss (~5% chance to miss and crit, 15% chance to crush), he will be receiving normal hits 60% of the time. The hits are not bad, per se, but the crits and crushes will make short work of him.

Now, let's say we have a tank with incredible amounts of defense, affording him a tank a 40% chance to be missed, and to dodge, parry and block. Miss, being the most dominant outcome, will happen 40% of the time. Dodge, the next dominant, will 40% of the time. That only leaves 20% of attacks that are parried. The rest of the parry chance is wasted. No attacks will get blocked either. Of course, with this kind of mitigation, the tank will have a very hard getting rage (mana, if its a paladin), and not be able to hold aggro. This time, the mob will make short work of the rest of the group. But such a scenario is too hypothetical to even consider.

Critical hits and crushing blows are very bad. Nuff said. The mob's weapon skill, which is always 5 times the mob's level, and the player's defense skill, which can be up to 5 times the player's level before bonuses from gear, affect the chances for these outcomes.

All mobs have a 5% base chance to score a critical hit (2x damage) on a player with the same defense skill as the mob's weapon skill. Each point of difference increases or reduces the chance by 0.04%, depending on which is higher. Raid bosses, considered level 73, have a 5.6% chance to crit a level 70 player with 350 defense skill. However, by increasing their defense skill by a further 140 (5.6/0.04), the player can effectively become immune to being crit. This 490 defense is generally considered the magic number that tanks aim to get. It also increases the chance to dodge, block and parry by 5.6% each. Note: The boss has its miss chance lowered from the base 5% to 4.4% by virtue of being level 73, and 490 defense increases it by a further 5.6% to give a total miss chance of 10%.

Ok, so crits are out of the way, rather easily, granting us a whole lot of extra avoidance in the process. Now for crushing blows.

A mob can only score a crushing blow (1.5x damage) on a player if it there is a difference of 15 between their weapon skill and the player's defense skill. A weaker form of crits, you say? The difference is that the chance to receive a crushing blow is always 15% as long as your defense is at the base cap (player level x 5), and increasing defense past this cap with talents or gear has no effect on this chance.

To eliminate crushing blows from the attack table, the player has to increase their combined chance to miss, dodge, parry and block to more than 100% (102.4% to be specific, to account for the level difference of a raid boss), literally pushing crushing blows (along with crits and normal hits) off the table, as the other outcomes are more dominant. The warrior ability Shield Block and the paladin ability Holy Shield help in this regard by substantially increasing their respective chances to block by 75% and 30(or 35)%. In fact, the huge boost from Shield Block almost trivializes the need for avoidance stats on gear, allowing warriors to focus on stamina instead.

Then why bother getting 490 defense to eliminate crits when it can be pushed off with high enough mitigation anyway? Primarily because Shield Block and Holy Shield have charges that might get used up before the skill has cooled down. This is especially likely when fighting more than one mob. Of course, the increased defense also has the secondary benefit of helping you get that much closer to the 102.4% mark by increasing your other avoidance stats.

Contrary to the example I used above of having 100% avoidance and having difficutly getting rage (or mana), the main outcome occuring here is block. Block is more of a mitigation stat, than an avoidance stat. Given the amount most mobs hit for, and the amount that gets blocked, there is still plenty of damage being taken, preventing said problem.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Table-based Combat

Much of the information in this post can be found here. I will present it in a (hopefully) more intuitive manner. This information only applies to white (auto-attack, not special attacks like Mortal Strike, Arcing Smash, Hateful Strike) damage taken.

Anyone who has paid attention to the combat log (or SCT) will know that incoming attacks can miss, or be dodged, parried or blocked (although not all classes can do the later two). At the other end, it can also be a critical hit (for 2x damage) or a crushing blow (for 1.5x damage). And then there's of course the normal hit.

Blizzard has confirmed that World of Warcraft uses a table-based combat system. Instead of going down the list, checking for one, and moving on to the next only if that check fails, there is only one roll to determine the outcome of an attack, depending on the respective chances for miss, dodge, parry, block, et cetera.

Because of the nature of the table-based combat system, percentages are absolutely true. A 10% chance to dodge means that you will dodge 10% of all attacks, not 10% of attacks that do not miss. The difference is clear. With the former (not used) system, assuming a 10% chance to miss for simplicity, 10 attacks out of every 100 would miss, and only 9 of the 90 going through would be dodged. This leads to diminishing returns on the stats that are checked later in the roll system. With the table-based system, 10 attacks would miss, and a further 10 attacks will be dodged. All stats give returns exactly as advertised.

This allows players to stack avoidance stats up to 100% and effectively eliminate getting hit, ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tryst with Protection

After finishing up this week's worth of arenas, I decided to give protection another shot. I am very comfortable with where my healing is (was) at, so I figured it was time to bring up my tanking set. This was influenced, in no small manner, by the facts that finding tanks is a major pain on my server, and that tanking is a lot more fun to do than heal.

I went with a hybrid holy/protection build that I used when I first hit 70, because I still want to retain potency at healing. This spec is particuarly special to me, in that it is my own spec. I could not find a true hybrid spec for the life of me, and came up with this all by myself. I realize that I would could be a better tank by delving deeper into protection with 12 points in retribution instead, but Holy Power, Sanctified Light, Healing Light and Spiritual Focus are too much to give up just yet. In September, when I have more time on my hands, I will start my own Kara group (by then, the guild would have hopefully stopped doing scheduled Kara runs) that I hope to tank, and this is the goal towards which I will be working. =)

So far, I am at 86% 'avoidance' (including Holy Shield with the heroic libram), meaning that I am not immune to crushing blows, yet. I'm not planning to start tanking in raids anytime soon, so I'm not too worried. I'll get there. I'll post a pic of my tanking gear (mostly 5-man blues and quest rewards) once I get my UI sorted out.

More on this protection respec, and the experiences it brings me as the week progresses.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Real Bubble

An old adage among paladins is to never use Blessing of Protection on oneself if one can use Divine Shield instead. It is divine wisdom indeed, and I paid the price for ignoring it.

Scenario: Warrior and I, against a rogue and a paladin in the Circle of Blood. Rogue on me, warrior on their paladin, handing out the pain. For some strange reason, I decide to use Blessing of Protection instead of Divine Shield, a retarded response probably triggered by the huge barrage of melee hits.

Result: Rogue instantly blinds me. Good rogue, I must say. I use my PvP trinket to get out of it, but by then, I have lost valuable time to heal myself. Not to mention that the wound poison stack stayed on me. I fell, followed soon after by the warrior, as the paladin pumps out heal after another while the rogue does his stunlocking.

15 rating down the drain. I could've kicked myself.

Still, overall, we did quite well, going 7-3 again, to reach a rating of 1622.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Disclaimer: This post contains theorycrafting. Chances are, I am completely wrong but bear with me anyway. If numbers scare you, turn away now.

To simplify my analysis, I have considered the first case of paladin healing as mentioned in an earlier post (here) In each case, the player has a latency of 0 ms, and the fight lasts five minutes, the latter of which is entirely plausible.

The player spams max rank Flash of Light throughout the duration of the fight. In five minutes, he would cast 200 FoL's. With a 1% chance to crit, he would crit 2 times, and gain 216 mana from Illumination. 1 mp5 would only return 60 mana over the 5 minutes period. Before the Illumination nerf, the returns from crit would be even more: 360 mana returned.

Clearly, then, crit chance is a more useful stat, even after the illumination nerf. Question answered? Problem solved?

If only it was that simple. Now, I don't have official, or even unofficial, word on this, but it is glaringly obvious, that spell crit requires a bigger item budget than mp5. In fact, you'll rarely find an item with more than 2% chance to crit (at level 70), while even 10 mp5 is not that uncommon.

Quick reanalysis. A 2% chance to crit would only return 432 mana (on average) over 5 minutes, compared to 600 from 10 mp5. However, with the old Illumination, it'd have been 720 from crits compared to the 600 from mp5. Goes to show the harshness of the nerf.

All this is further complicated in that crits also increases your healing done, which can be significant against certain mobs (read: heroics). Add in a crit while you have Divine Illumination, and that tilts the scale again. Divine Favor does not count because it is not affected by crit chance, it is a guaranteed crit no matter what.

Ultimately, coming up with a metric to compare these 2 stats is nigh impossible. It all comes down to preference, and you much of each you have already got. If you are ending fights at 80% mana, maybe it is time to wear that Critmasters Amulet of Spell Crit, and rank up higher on the healing charts. And make sure you don't ignore Stamina or Intellect either. If you are getting one-shotted by Aran's pyroblast, you are useless no matter what.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Gold Sink

True to my expectations, I had enough arena points to buy my Merciless Gladiator's Ornamented Chestpiece today. I desperately needed a better plate chest for arenas, so needless to say, this has left me elated. Great stats, even greater look. It really accentuates my boobs.

Since I am already rocking 10k life, I decided to add some color into the sockets, and not just go with the stamina gems, which is what most people swear by for PvP, especially since it might also be my PvE chest (until I level my blacksmithing enough to make an Earthpiece Breastplate). I dished out most of my gold to get some Royal Nightseyes (9 healing and 2 mp5) and Luminous Noble Topazes (9 healing and 4 intellect) crafted. On a spree, I took the liberty of replacing the stamina gems I had in my Gladiator's Ornamented Spaulders with these as well, intending to replace the cloth shoulders I had been using for a while in PvE. In my overzealousness, I bought out a Sovereign Nightseye by mistake, which I then promptly put back on the auction house. Hopefully, no gold gets wasted there.

On top of all this, I also got the 81 healing to weapon and 35 healing to glove enchants yesterday, leaving me with a miserable 100g in my stash. Of course, a few days of daily quests, and I'll be in a respectable position again.

All this talk of gear means that it is time for a stat check. This screenshot was taken in my arena gear. You'll have to wait another day or so, until I do some theorycrafting on crit rating vs mp5 for a paladin before I finally decide on my PvE set.

Not bad, huh? 12.8k armor means that the rogues and warriors usually have a hard time getting me down before I can get off a few heals, to myself or my partner. And of course, there's always bubble to give me upto 12 seconds of unhindered healing, usually enough for my partner to wreck some serious havoc. The bonus to healing is very nice, because it allows me to keep my partner up through a mortal strike debuff, which is generally my worst nightmare.

10k life means those pesky mages have a hard time bursting me down too (my 104 resilience also helps a bit, and I'm working to increase that). The only problem I have at the moment, and I'm getting to work on it asap is a mana pool of under 10k. Sometimes when the battle becomes one of endurance, I find myself unable to sustain. Of course, this was before my latest spurt in gear, and I'm sure there will be noticeable changes.

Nice to see that gold being put to good use. =)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

OT: Transformers

Saw this yesterday. It is a very nice movie.

Sure, at times the acting is shabby (Megan Fox is particularly guilty of this). Sure, there are too many subplots, all just to lead, somewhat haphazardly, to the epic showdown between the Autobots and the Decepticons. And sure, the ending is pretty obvious right from the beginning.

But this is not why we went to watch it. That's like complaining that Scary Movie 3 did not have a plot. We went to see special effects, and that is where the movie delivers. Robots fighting each other would have been epic enough, top that off with US army technology in action (one particular scene of a dogfight involving an F-22 Raptor and other aircraft was downright orgasmic) and you have got a recipe for insta-win.

The movie also put to skilful use several popular internet memes, including 'what would Jesus do' and an implied 'get to the choppa' among others. Likewise, there is humor interspersed throughout the movie, often involving the Autobots, to add icing on top of an already delicious cake.

To put it succintly, if you are looking for a movie that will explore emotions, and take human-cyborg interaction to a whole new level, you have come to the wrong place. But for an evening of fun and nostalgia with friends, Transformers is one heckuva movie.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

On Enchants

Since the time I reached level 70, I have spent all my accumulated gold from quests (rather carelessly) on most notably, enchants and gems for my tanking gear, turn-ins for Aldor rep, and lots and lots of primal airs and waters for my Thunder.

Aside: Regarding my tanking gear, I had a bunch of guild members all hitting 70 at around the same time, and we decided to instance together and get all our heroic reputation keys covered. One of them was a priest, so I jumped at the opportunity to do something different. Tanking as a paladin (and amazing my group with feats that a warrior tank can't accomplish) was uber fun, so I quickly acquired some better gear, and got it all enchanted promptly. More on this at a later date.

The time has now come (thanks to all the daily quests netting me in excess of 120g per day) to spend some of this time to get the rest of my gear enchanted. I'm already a tremendous asset to the guild (it has been said that we could down Terestian Illhoof only because of my 2 second heals critting for more than 6k). But this is no place to stop. My goal is to have at least 1500 +healing while maintaining a 15% base crit chance with spells and around 150 mp5 while casting in my healing gear.

To that end, these are the enchants that I am aiming for by the end of this week.
- 81 healing to weapon. Spellsurge is arguably better in full caster (ideally, healer) groups on long fights, but I wanted to retain some versatility in 5 mans and PvP.
- 35 healing to glove. Finally, after months of using my Gauntlets of Renewed Hope with stamina gems and a stamina enchant (for PvP), I put Royal Nightseyes (9 healing and 2 mp5) in my other one. Time to go all the way, and get the enchant as well.
- 30 healing to bracer. Frankly, I'm not sure I want this over the 12 intellect that I already have, because I am afraid to gimp my mana pool. I'll have to check for precise numbers on this.
- 15 resilience to chest. Not a healing enchant, but I should be having the season 2 chest piece today (Merciless Gladiator's Ornamented Chestpiece) and no piece of arena gear is complete without an enchant.

That's all I can think of now. Seeing as they are primarily healing enchants, I'll be needing a lot of primal lifes. Let's just hope no one on my server decides to manipulate the economy for primal lifes just yet.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Return to Arenas

Last weekend, as most weekends are, was pretty eventful.

- Remember the 1000g I owed my warrior friend? Paid that off (took slightly longer than I'd have liked), and farmed up 500g of my own.

- Spent some of that on some Fel Armaments and Marks of Sargeras to finish up my Aldor rep grind. There really was nothing I could use at Exalted, except the improved shoulder enchants. Probably should have gone Scryer for the epic ring, but too late now.

- It took 5 stacks of adamantite bars, but my blacksmithing is now at 360. From here on, I need 6 stacks of felsteel bars to max it out. That comes to 24 stacks of eternium ore, and 36 stacks of fel iron ore. Big expenses coming up ahead.

Now for the big news!

Said warrior friend and I have joined forces in a 2v2 arena team: Death to Smoochy. We pwned a lot of faces last night, albeit with my 500 ms latency, and would probably have gone 9-1 had it not been the lag. Both of us are purely PvP specced (me 41/20, and him Deathwish/Mortal Strike) and that definitely helped too.

My last team did moderately well, but it was frustrating to partner someone who did not log on often, and consequently did not spend much time gearing himself for arenas. We were also experimenting with specs at that point, which could have also contributed to the mediocrity.

Parting words: If you are on the Vindication battlegroup, watch out for us.