Let’s Not Even Get Into the Tree Puns

January 13, 2011

So, on a recent heroic Vortex Pinnacle run, Altairus deigned to cough up his Axe of Ambiguity for me. I was thrilled, as it was a nice upgrade over the quested Twilight Highlands mace I’d been swinging around, which had always looked like nothing so much as a glorified meat tenderizer to me. (Not that there’s anything wrong with simple weapon designs- the swords I like best just look like swords- but Jujutan is a crusader for righteous sun worship, not a chef.) Since I deemed that worth enchanting, I looked up desirable tanking enchants. Since the good one costs six maelstrom crystals and I’m not likely to be able to afford that in a looong time, I figured mending was a reasonably cheap compromise, at least until I get something I can expect to be keeping so long windwalk is worth saving my gold for.

Which is how I came to look like this:

Ossifer Tree termed it “the place where particle effects go to die”. I think it looks like there’s a druid furiously masturbating in my pocket. Stingray wants to know if I’m going to go hang out in Moonglade and offer respecs. Caffeinated Kitty wanted to know if those are pot leaves. (NO THEY ARE NOT GOD DAMMIT.) Thing One and Thing Two simply cowered before me.

Dammit, I have nothing against druids, but I’m a paladin; they’re meant to be draped in bits of plantlife and animal parts, and I’m meant to be draped in holy vengeance. When I was still wearing my Wrath stuff, my upper body was on fire with righteousness and I was clad in black steel. Now I’m more or less metallic in appearance, but I’m also constantly covered in swirling leaves, which is by far the more visually arresting- especially if I’m mounted on the Sparklepony, in which case I’m constantly trailing a vigorous effects cloud of stars and leaves. I look like the Wizard of Cannabis.

I have never been more tempted to buy gold.

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OH YES THANK YOU BLIZZ

January 7, 2011

I wandered off in the middle of reading the notes for the patch up on the PTR, because the paladin section looked sparse and I have a cold and therefore no attention span at all. Then I read this excerpt from them at Righteous Defense:

Rebuke can now be trained by all paladins at level 54. Existing characters will need to visit their trainer, even if they had talented Rebuke before.

AIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!

The lack of a proper, off-the-GCD spell interrupt- yes, I know protection talented hammer of justice is supposed to interrupt mobs that are immune to stun, but this has never worked for me and HoJ is on a ludicrous cooldown anyway- has always been a seriously standout flaw in protection paladins as compared to other tanks, especially now that it seems every single Cata dungeon has *at least* one boss with an ability that must be interrupted not to smear the tank on the floor. I have largely dealt with this by being married to a rogue and never being anywhere without him, but this is obviously a substandard solution to the issue.

Our last serious flaw is gone. We may now assume an unassailable position of raid tanking dominance. Nothing can go wrong with this, I tell you.

This calls for Caramelldansen.


How 2 Pallytank, New Coke edition

January 4, 2011

In the time of Wrath, protadins had a very rigid playstyle, and were perpetually locked into the infamous 969 rotation, in which every ability was used on cooldown because it made no sense to do otherwise. It was entirely possible to macro your entire rotation to two buttons so long as the abilities were elsewhere on your action bar for rare special occasions when prioritizing differently was a good idea, and while we made perfectly strong and serviceable tanks, it was also rather dull compared to the reactivity and fluidity of warrior tanking or the micromanagement of death knight tanking. Smart paladin players spent most of their energies on optimization and judicious use of the non-tank-specific tools in their toolbox.

This has, to put it mildly, changed. Now we have two mandatory skills in our rotation, with a choice of single-target or AoE flavor, with a choice every third cycle between AoE threat generation, single-target threat, or healing, and the class in general rewards skill and deep class knowledge even more than before. It used to be easy to be an adequate paladin tank and difficult to be a great one; I’d say now it’s as difficult to be an adequate tank as it is for any of the other classes, and somewhat easier to shine.

Holy Power

This is the new hotness, and the resource system around which our lives now operate. Our mana now flows like water as long as we judge regularly and we’re not fighting a mob with an annoying mana-burn mechanic, so we can largely ignore it; as DKs are governed by runes and warriors and bears by rage, this is our limiting factor.

You always want to know how much holy power you have. It’s rather annoying to rely on Blizzard’s default UI for this since your eyes are likely to be everywhere other than the top left of your screen on your character portrait, so most of us use some kind of addon for holy power. I have Power Auras, and while I have it configured to let me know when Sacred Duty procs, I don’t have it set up to display holy power stacks like a lot of others do; I use Hear Kitty for an audio cue. I already have enough stuff to watch, so being able to hear it rather than watch for it is one thing off that list.

We have two attacks that generate holy power, on a shared cooldown. Crusader Strike is it for single-target, and Hammer of the Righteous for multi-target. They’re each on a three-second cooldown, and holy power is something we want as much of as possible, so the 969 rotation has become the 3×3 rotation, with one or the other used on cooldown and other abilities threaded in between. Broadly speaking, your priority goes: 3-judge-3-holy wrath-3-avenger’s shield, with holy power dumps used every stack of three or on a stack of two if sacred duty procs and you want single-target threat, but this is rather more fluid than the old 969 and will change based on the situation. (Big pack, casters you want to shut up for a few seconds, streaming adds, etcetera.)

We have three choices to burn holy power: Shield of the Righteous, which hits like a roided-out angry bear and is your go-to for single-target threat, Inquisition, which is your best option for AoE threat, and Word of Glory, which is a free heal. Make your choice for how to burn your holy power based on the situation, but never let it sit unless you literally can’t spare the GCD.

Before I move on from the basic nuts and bolts, a brief word about Consecration: it’s now heavily situational and you will use it in exactly two situations: streaming adds you can predictably funnel to you, and a case of having nothing better to do with the GCD. It eats mana, it’s not that powerful, and anyone QQing in the tanking forums about how OP it makes paladins is officially retarded. Literally every other ability we have that hits more than one target is worth more threat and is generally more useful in an AoE situation.

Spec

We’ve got a lot more room to tailor specs than we used to, and as with our choice of holy power use, your build choices will depend heavily on what you need more of, survivability or threat. Right now, thanks to our new holy power system, “survivablity” in terms of our more flexible talent points translates to “buffing Word of Glory”.

Right now my build looks like this: 0/31/10

I’m mainly running heroics and am gearing up to raid, so right now I’m specced and glyphed pretty much entirely for survivability. Except at the beginning of boss fights where they’ve not really had time to do anything horrible to me or the party yet, I almost always hit Word of Glory rather than Shield of the Righteous or Inquisition, which makes points in Eternal Glory, Guarded By the Light, and Rule of Law valuable investments. I’ve not actually had much of an issue at all with threat, but as that changes- and it will as I, my healers, and the DPS all gear up- I’ll probably move some points out of Eternal Glory and into Seals of the Pure or Hallowed Ground. I’ll also change my prime glyphs from Insight and Word of Glory to Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous or Seal of Truth.

Talents you may be tempted to skip in favor of more points in the protection tree but shouldn’t: Improved Judgment and Pursuit of Justice. With crowd control as important as it is, having a single-target ability with a long range is a godsend for pulling, as our avenger’s shield is lovely but does have that heartburn-inducing tendency to bounce in ways that aren’t completely predictable and destroy your rogue’s careful sap. (Not that I have ever been bitched out about this by the rogue across the room, let alone several times.) Likewise, there is a ton of bad to potentially be standing in out there, some of which will kill you in seconds, and having the ability to move your ass with a quickness is much more valuable than it may seem at first blink.

Pure personal preference: whether to bother with Grand Crusader. Avenger’s shield isn’t that fantastic a threat value and the proc is unpredictable, but I personally like having it available more often just because it’s useful to have at hand when there’s a caster across the room you couldn’t move at the initial pull. Others will choose to invest in Improved Hammer of Justice (with range-increasing major glyph), but they’re really just two approaches to the same category of problem.

Paladins are hybrids

Not only are we hybrids, unlike other tanking classes our abilities aren’t constrained by form or stance or any other such silliness. Any spell available to our intellect-stacking Holy cousins that isn’t talented is also available to us. You can and should be ready to use Hand of Protection, Hand of Salvation, Hand of Freedom, Hand of Sacrifice, and Lay on Hands as appropriate; another hugely helpful spell easy for tanks to forget is Holy Radiance. In a heroic? Melee taking damage? In a situation where it’s beneficial to the party to stack and lots of damage going out? In a raid when your co-tank is getting hit hard? Hit the Magic Glowy Goodness button and take a little pressure off your healer. It’s not as powerful as it would be if we were holydins, but in a world where mana is tight for healers but not for us and health pools don’t vanish in a few hits, it can make a very helpful difference.

Also remember this: you don’t have to use Word of Glory on yourself. There are a lot of fights in Cataclysm heroics (Siamat comes to mind) where the tank doesn’t take a huge pounding but the rest of the party does; if you can pop off a nice fat Word of Glory on your groupmates so long as you still have a comfortable threat lead (and right now I usually do), this can make the difference between a DPS that hits the floor due to triage and full survival as a party. Don’t brush this off because you’re the tank and not the healer and it’s “not your job”; in the fights that are effectively endurance challenges for the healer rather than mechanic dances, my healing done can approach as much as half as the actual healer’s. If you’ve fully talented into Shield of the Templar- and you should- divine plea is now going to be another cooldown, for when you need three holy power *right now*.

I manage this with a healer-like Grid/Clique setup; my three main mouse buttons are bound to Righteous Defense, Word of Glory, and Hand of Protection, with less-used abilities on shift-click combos, and my raid frames sitting just above my action bar in easy view but out of the way of my view of the battlefield. The ability to use the broad paladin toolbox for helping your party has always been what separates adequate tankadins from good ones, and never moreso than now.


She Deep Breaths More

January 4, 2011

….And blows the layer of dust off this place.

I don’t anticipate having much more time to post regularly here than I have, but I can at least still use the place for WoW posts when that’s what I feel like writing about.

To recap from my absence;

Major roster changes; about half the core raiders we had when I was regularly updating are gone due to various RL reasons, and my partner tank Ossifer Bear is now Ossifer Tree and looks to be so for good. We did clear out ICC and kill the Lich King before Cata hit, and it was probably the most satisfying and epic moment of the entire game for me and I’m still a bit sorry for not writing about it when it happened. The short version is that after weeks of wiping and a particularly dismal night of failure, we walked in the next raiding night and one-shot the fight in a performance so flawless it might as well have been professionally choreographed. Strange, but that’s the way a lot of fights worked for us- we’d fail in every possible imaginable way and then things would suddenly gel for everybody.

My flirtations with other tanking classes are pretty much over. I still enjoy playing my warrior, DK, and now baby bear alts, but I love the way protection paladins play now and can’t imagine ever changing my main. (It doesn’t hurt at all that Juujube the blood elf became Jujutan the tauren the day of launch and I no longer am forced to be the world’s most anorexic tank.)