Friday, October 29, 2010

So far... so good?

Several days have passed since the release of the 4.0.1 patch and still I haven't finished tuning all my chars. While specs and glyphs are in place I still lack some gem change here and there and only a few chars have their gear reforged. Also the amount of bugs that have plagued this release made playing too painful sometimes, specially when getting random disconnections for no reason (no /cast or cogwheel icon used) and then taking ages to log back in.

Only one of my main chars have switched specs. Durnak is now Unholy dps/blood tank when formerly was blood dps/frost tank, When deciding which of the two dps specs to use I thought unholy would be funnier thanks to the Dark Transformation talent. I've been doing mainly Headless Horseman runs and so far I haven't been impressed by the numbers or the playstyle, but at least it gives you something to watch (the Shadow Infusion charges). On the other hand I have a humble level 66 deathknight that formerly was unholy and I changed it to frost and it's chugging out 5k obliterates on Killing Machine procs, oneshotting whatever gets in his way. It just needs some hit rating to avoid missing blows, but for a level 66 it's pretty crazy. The downside of the spec is that's just "boring". Hit with whatever is available until Killing Machine procs and unleash a powerful Obliterate.

Priests are a class with new mechanics in all specs. While I haven't rolled any holy spec priests, both discipline healing and shadow dps are cool specs to play. Disc allows plenty of "free time" (while your party is shielded) to stack Evangelism charges using Smite so you can then activate Archangel and get some wings and boost your healing. Just like drinking Red Bull. Shadow (which I haven't played much since healers are scarce) just changes the way you aoe. Instead of using Mind Sear, a spell that does now pretty weak damage, the new way of dealing with groups is to debuff each target with Shadow Word: Pain and start moving around so you increase the probabilities of creating a Shadowy Apparition. It's really fun to see copies of you walking towards their targets and autoimmolate (just lacks a good shadow explosion animation when they hit their goal). While mana isn't an issue in disc spec, shadow consumes a lot of it, so the new replenishment mechanic using Masochism has to be introduced in the rotation while being careful not to kill yourself, aside from using the shadow beast minion on cooldown, both for recovery and for dps boost.

Another heavily changed class are paladins, thanks to the introduction of the Holy Power combo points. Pre-patch tanking with a paladin was just a faceroll: Avenger's Shield, Consecration, Hammer of the Righteous and you got a huge aoe threat that kept everybody on you without problems. Right now, after doing some Horseman and Heroics runs I see it hasn't changed much except for some details: Consecration can't be cast now and then since it's larger cooldown (no matter it's also more mana expensive, I haven't find any mana issues yet) and Shield of the Righteous has changed, so you now need to stack 3 points of Holy Power and then slam your current target to get a big threat boost. Healing as holy is also influenced by the amount of Holy Power you have and also the spells used have changed. Previously it was mainly Flash Heal and Holy Light spam, with the occasional Holy Shock for emergencies. Now Holy Shock is your bread and butter since the cooldown has been reduced and also awards Holy Power points. Also you can do a bit of dps, since Crusader Strike is now a base ability for all pladins and rewards Holy Power. This brings the paladin class closer to the typical image of a warrior monk who stays in the line of scrimmage instead of sitting at the back healing. Again I haven't found mana issues so far, even with the Divine Plea nerf, but nowadays people is overgeared and healing isn't as critical as it used to be. As for Retribution spec I haven't had a lot of chances to try it, but seems more fluid now that you have more buttons to push instead of Crusader Strike, Divine Storm and waiting for Exorcism to come out of cooldown so you can use it again on Art of War proc.

The rest of the classes haven't changed much in mechanics, even with changes like focus for hunters, rage normalisation for warriors (and the enrage procs in fury). Melee classes have lost a ton of dps (due to armor penetration going away) while spell classes look like they're on steroids (specially arcane mages. Vurnak has turned into a fearful terminator), but this looks like it's going to be addressed in a future patch (so enjoy it while you can before the nerf bat slams you). The game has changed, but it looks like it hasn't been as dramatic as people expected. And it's a good thing, since re-learning how to play a class from the beggining is not easy nor fun. Old habits still pop up but at least these mistakes aren't fatal.

The last thing i want to comment is regarding gearing up. Thanks to the Frost and Triumph emblems conversion into Justice Points it's been easier to get T10 gear (in most cases I had several Triumph emblems I didn't need, while I was short on Frost). And another big change is the removal of the Arena Rating requeriment on pvp gear, so you just need Honor Points. While I try to stay away from pvp as much as possible some pvp gear is worth getting, specially if you aren't into raids. Ilevel 270 shields are dirty cheap, requiring only 70 HPs. Other itmes like off-hand librams, wands or necklaces are very cheap too. I also managed to get the healing mace (Wrathful Galdiator's Gavel) for my priest, paladin and druid. Finally I found some use for these Honor Points I had collecting dust in the Currency tab.

Now if Blizzard fixes all the bugs it will be great. This wednesday we have a mini-patch that solves some issues, like the cogwheel disconnection that's been plaguing the Headless Horseman fight (thanks to the author of CogFix, that allowed me to click the pumpkin without problems) but still there are several issues pending that cause a lot of unhappiness, like the slow ghost gryphon or the lagged sound and they haven't been included in this mini-patch.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's going to be hard

So finally patch 4.0.1 hit the streets. This time we don't only have to sort headaches caused by non-working addons, but all chars need to respecc, check the gems and glyphs, sort out icons on action bars... this week is going to be very interesting.
If you think fixing a char is a pain, multiply that by 26 (ok, I don't play these 26 always, only 12 or 13 regularly). Grimbol, my inscriber, is threatening to go on strike. And Turnak the jewelcrafter is supporting him.
Ok, so after finally downloading the last 1,2 Gb patch file (that didn't show in the background downloader!) I started fixing things. Only some chars have been specced so far (warrior, paladin, druid, priest, hunter) but still they lack some correct glyphs and gems (specially for the relics, now they have sockets). To spec them I used my own designs but I also used WoWPopular to confirm if some talents were mandatory or good enough to invest points on them (btw I find crazy the most voted disco priest build is not investing a single point in Improved Power Word: Shield when this is the cornerstone of the class!, so take the info with a pinch of salt until things settle down a bit).
Addons aren't causing much ruckus at the moment, either they're up to date or old versions aren't giving much problems. As usual, after some days most of them will be up to date or I'll be used to the errors they yield.
The real test will begin once I start doing some heroics. I don't want to take a char to a PUG run unless it's completely fixed, specially if it's a tank or a healer, so my first impressions of some classes come only from dummy tests.
Paladins look like a new class introduced in this patch with the Holy Power combo point and the new talent trees. I've always found frustrating that they changed holy and prot because ret was "broken". Damn it! Pally tanking might be ultra-boring, but was damn comfortable, like your favourite old pair of shoes. And holy wasn't bad, just lacking some AoE healing. Well, it wil take some time to get used to this, specially for tanking.
Shadow priests seem to run out of mana pretty fast. After unleashing the full debuff pack, some mind flays and mind blasts will deplete your mana bar very quick. Maybe something is wrong with my spec or maybe it's a matter of handling rotations/procs correctly. Or could be that I need to use Shadow Word: Death more to trigger the Masochism mana regain. On the other hand, disco priests seem pretty solid and mana doesn't seem to be a problem. In this spec I have the new Evangelism / Archangel combo and looks nice, although you need to use Smite to trigger it. I see mandatory some kind of tracking system for the Evangelism charges, either as combo points or placing the number in the icon on the action bar, since having to check the buff icon may be distracting. Same for the Shadow Orbs you get as shadow priest.
Not much to say yet about the other classes I specced, since I didn't try them much. Only the resto druid, that seems it works correctly as before, unleashing the full pack of HoTs and then using Nourish (instead of the crappy Heal) when needed.
When I logged in it was 21:00 or so. When I went to bed it was 3:00 in the morning and I still think I didn't do much. Today I'm falling asleep at the office, but I know tonight will be the same again and friday will be harder. But thanks goodness it will be friday :)