4.1 is Live!

My girlfriend wanted to watch the Laker game at a friend's house last night, so instead of Arenas, that is what we did. I am pleased that this was the call. For one, Guntir is nearing the end of his masters semester and has a lot of work on his plate; for two, there are tons and tons of bugs in the game that made it to live! Time to list some of the more fun ones (UPDATED):

1) DK Runes were not going on cooldown (SPAM THAT NS FTW)
2) Omen of Clarity (Druid) sometimes isn't consumed (hilarious; I'm hearing Ferals doing something like 7-8 Shreds before OoC falls off, then they have a full energy bar)
3) Warriors had an error with CS where they would get HUGE multipliers against low armor targets (screen shots of 200k MS crits, etc).
4) DKs can use their newly created Battle Rez in the arenas.
5) Cycloning someone in the arenas sometimes teleports them to the nearest graveyard to where they queued.
6) MMR is different per person now and shifts wildly from one win/loss to the next.
7) Wins and losses don't always result in Conquest Points or rating change.
8) Warlocks have no push-back protection (which I find myself caring very little about because...)
9) Warlocks can get Shadow Bite (Felhunter) to HIT for ~25k.
10) PvP gear is "refundable" in the sense that if you hit "Yes, I'd like to refund this item" it will take the item from you and not give you any Conquest/Honor back.
11) Resilience might not be working *NOTE* I haven't tested this, but people with 3800 resilience are showing MS crits doing ~50k in arenas, which seems high.
12) Guntir tells me that Lifegrip will work on a Cycloned target even though it claims to fail and the target says "immune".

I will continue adding to this list as I find stuff.

These sorts of things should really be pruned out before hitting live, but what are you going to do? Anyway, they hotfixed numbers one and three, but the Omen of Clarity bug seems to still be happening for people. To be honest, I have not logged on for 4.1 yet because I figured I would end up training Stampeding Roar and the devs would immediately hotnerf the Feral Swiftness change to only be Dash (paranoid much!?). I plan to hop on today and take a look around and maybe do some BGs or something since Guntir will be indisposed with schoolwork.

Another change that Blizzard finally announced that really chaps my ass (although maybe not... more on this later) is the following:

In patch 4.1 the amount of Conquest earned for both Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds has been changed to a flat amount regardless of team rating, to 135 and 335 respectively. This change should of course have been in the patch 4.1 notes, but due to a fairly straight forward error, was not included.

The current reward now in 4.1 for winning an Arena match is 135 Conquest Points, and for Rated Battlegrounds it's 335 Conquest Points. We're currently evaluating these amounts as we believe they are potentially lower than they need to be, and we'll of course let you know if they need to be changed.

So, my Conquest cap is something around 2700 Conquest Points per week. If my maths are right, and they usually are, that means that to hit the cap, I will need 20 wins. What the hell Blizz... 20 wins? Even if I manage a 2:1 ratio that is going to be 30 games for the point-cap on one toon. Bah... and our bad weeks end up going 1:1 which would mean around 40 games per toon. This MAY force us to start running only Feral+Disc again and leave that Shammy by the wayside for a while; presumably, we would leave him where he is at until they change the amount of points generated per win to something a little bit higher.

The one thing I like about this is that Blizzard is actually forcing me to play more arenas, which is somewhat odd but not all that unwelcome. I actually enjoy playing Feral+Disc quite a bit because at the very least those matches never go to the stalemate; we either win rather quickly or we lose rather quickly. This may all be something in the past given that we are going to try out the Evangelism build for a bit to see if it is viable, and while I thought that a build where Archangel was second to a five-stack of Evangelism for burst damage, Guntir believes that he will be nuking once or twice in a burn phase and if that does not land a kill, Archangel will be there to restore some mana on a 2-3 stack. We will not know until we play some games, but I am thinking that landing a Holy Fire every ~15s to keep a 5s rolling for nigh-free will be somewhat trivial particularly when he is also trying out Atonement which will provide all that damage as a heal on the lowest hp friendly around the nuked target (usually me).

Let me talk a little bit about maths here... I feel that I have not done this in a while. Guntir and I were testing out Smite to see just how hard Holy Fire would end up hitting a resil'd target once they buffed it. We took from the patch notes that HF would end up dealing roughly 30% more damage than Smite, and Smite was hitting me and my ~3300 resilience for right around 5500 (plus or minus a few hundred; my memory is waning in the morning). We did some napkin-maths and figured that Holy Fire would end up being around a 7-8k nuke against a resil'd target after 4.1 dropped. As a 1.5s (talented) cast for basically no mana at all, that is some rather strong damage, and we were considering the matter closed and test-worthy for 4.1.

However, some things that I never really took into account are talents. I was in a thread with Mackenzii (again, sorry if I butchered the spelling) who runs FMP around 2900 on BG-Rampage and he had a spec that had taken Archangel. I inquired and he responded that he was going to try it out in 4.1 to see if it is viable. So, I got to looking into Priest specs and came up with an Evangelism spec that looked decent to me. The one thing I had forgotten about is that Evangelism increases the damage of both Smite and Holy Fire, even though prior to 4.1 it was only proc'd by Smite, which was why no one spec'd it for PvP; it was too difficult to keep a 5-stack rolling when you were relying on a 2.5 or 2.0-talented nuke that cost a lot of mana and you were being trained. Incidentally, most Priests had given up on Evangelism prior to a lot of the buffs they had received in 4.0.6 and 4.1, which has greatly increased their survivability and mobility while healing and therefore opens them up more often to nuking.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand - Evangelism is a good talent now because it procs off of Holy Fire (simple to use regularly) and Smite (good damage when bursting), and it is easier to get and keep up. So, Guntir is also going to try Glyph of Smite in his build to see how strong of a nuker he can become. Again, I looked at the maths to see what we could expect. So, if Guntir can get up a 5-stack of Evangelism then his Smites and Holy Fires will be hitting for ~6600 and ~9000 respectively. Well, now we are talking about real numbers, and if you factor in that Glyph of Smite after dropping a 9k Holy Fire HIT, then you are talking about 8k Smite HITS as well. Additionally, Guntir has also put the Glyph of Shadow Word: Death into his arsenal for red-zone help (with which I am usually in need of desperately). Lastly, he is taking 2/2 Veiled Shadows (which I thought was called "Improved Fade" until I looked it up for the tooltip just now) in the shadow tree to get his Shadowfiend down to a 4m cooldown (which seems long to me... but those two talent points account for roughly 20% off of Fiend's cooldown... so that's not too bad).

We probably will not get games in until the weekend, but I will try and keep the information rolling as I come across it.

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Oh my...


Thanks to reader Fade for pointing me at this AJ post. Affx, a long-time WoW board hero, did some testing of various aspects of 4.1 that went above and beyond that I found interesting.

First, he suggests that RoV only has the fire for the first few moments of an arena match to try and quell zerging. While I can get behind this idea, the implementation is awful.

Second, he also reminds us that guild rep and xp are rewarded for arena wins as of 4.1. I had completely forgotten about this and it is a reason to do more than the base arenas again (which he hinted at may require 10 wins a week instead of the current 5; hard to tell, but I'm sure I'll have an update on Wednesday).

Third, he suggests that the new defensive cooldown, Soul Link Totem, is essentially the best cooldown in the game. A 3min cd that is essentially a guaranteed no-kill for a short period that also scales with the number of players affected. If you are in a 2s situation where you are about to die at 1% hp and you are standing next to your partner at 100%, you pot SLT and you are both instantly at basically 50%, and it rebalances your hps every 1s for 5s... woof.

Third, he suggest that FMP and RMP are going to be two of the strongest comps in the game as long as the DR category change to Cone of Cold does not end up being really painful because Mages can actually play an outlast style with glyph of frost armor.

Last, he makes a bunch of speculations about the classes affects in this patch. Mostly, he talks about Warriors not really having changed except against plate classes (which I think is an overstatement; armor scales strong early and weak late - you might go from 40% damage reduction on a pally to 0% with 100% armor ignore, but after the patch you will go from 28% dr against leather to 10%).


When I see comments like I got in the last post, I know I am not doing an adequate job here on my blog discussing changes. I will get more into that in a moment, but let us discuss the patch notes being as they are likely locked in place and will be going live tomorrow.

Take a look at this video. I am filled with rage; essentially, Blizzard said "man, RoV is awful; let's remove it," saw that basically no one was upset by RoV being removed from the rotation, then said "okay; let's break RoV even more and reintroduce it in 4.1." Here are my list of gripes: first, it starts you at opposite ends of the map and no longer brings you up via elevators (which is good), but starts the match with all the pillars down; second, the pillars still move up and down; third, what the fuck... fire... it is back and deals damage and is random again. I honestly am unsure if this is just Blizzard trolling me or what, but this shit has got to stop.

Okay, something that has crept by unnoticed, or perhaps merely unmentioned, is the fact that 4.1 means the end of battle-group matching in Arenas. Apparently, and details are hazy on this so bare with me, this means that we will be able to be matched with teams from battlegroups other than our own for the arenas in an attempt to shorten queue times. My biggest concern about this is that Blizzard will have said "fuck it" entirely and made no effort in trying to set you against a team with reasonable latency to an arena server. I really am worried that I will end up playing against someone in New Jersey and have 1000ms against a 1700 team who gets a lucky kill while we are waiting for Guntir's heal to register. I am at least reluctantly hopeful that Blizz may have done some research on this and made it so that we can only be queued against the same data-center when match-making (which would make sense because that would simply mean that we're physically in the same building as our opponents so the number of teams queuing will have increased at roughly no cost).

Let me tackle a misconception that people are seeming to have - resilience is not going to have a soft cap. The way resilience works now is that at any point except 32.5% damage reduction, the scaling of resilience rating versus damage reduction is non-linear. That is, if you gain 100 rating at 25% damage reduction, you will gain less damage reduction than you would had you been at 35%. Today, if you gained 100 resilience at 25% damage reduction, you would go to maybe 26%, but if you gained 100 resilience at 35% you might go to 36.5%. The only thing changing with 4.1 is that non-linear scaling. Tomorrow, you will have 32.5% damage reduction if you have 32.5% damage reduction today. If you have less than 32.5% damage reduction today, you will have slightly more tomorrow, and if you have more than 32.5% damage reduction today, you will have slightly less tomorrow. If you have 4,000 resilience today, for example, you will have something around 38% damage reduction tomorrow instead of 41%. THERE IS NO CAP.

The class changes going out are pretty much where they were weeks and weeks ago when I first talked about them. Frost Mages are getting some "much needed" burst damage buffs; DKs are getting some changes that will make Blood specs less prevalent (though I remain unconvinced that these changes are enough); Warriors are getting hyper-mobile but losing a lot of stun control via Charge (but it won't DR with anything... so who knows) and losing a ton of burst in CSmash; RShams are getting nothing but nerfs and a survivability totem which might actually be decent in 3s or 5s (it scales with the number of players affected, so it might not be amazing in 2s); Priests are getting more burst via Holy Fire.

Holy Fire being buffed is kind of interesting. There was a thread on the Arena boards where Mackenzii (sorry if I misspelled the name) came in and gave pointers on how his team played FMP (Monster's 2900 feral+mage+disc team). At one point I noticed that he had a spec with Archangel in it and I asked him about it. He said that he was going to try out Archangel to see whether it is decent for PvP given the new Holy Fire. Essentially, the reason that no one takes Evangelism and Archangel as Disc is because it is extremely difficult to land offense in 2s (for one), and that is three points spent in an already tight-for-points spec. Additionally, Holy Fire is pretty awful today, but with the change tomorrow it will actually be some really nice damage.

It may be a non-issue in 2s, still, because of how much pressure most opposing teams can put out while keeping Guntir in his healing role. Currently, the only times it seems like Guntir can get offensive is once or twice a match when we are going for a kill. Now, maybe it is only because we are going for a kill and we usually get said kill that I only see it once or twice a match, but unless the Priest is keeping a 5s of Evangelism rolling throughout the entirety of the match, that talent is largely useless. It will be interesting none-the-less to see Holy Fire back into the role of damage-dealing once again. Since it is extremely cheap to use, it might actually bring back to the use of the Glyph of Smite for 2s; I can already see Rogue+Disc taking off again simply from the additional pressure that Priests will be able to dish out next patch, and with RShams and RDruids getting nerfed ever so slightly, we may see this comp take off again.

Tomorrow, I have to find a new keybind... since Stampeding Roar might actually be worth training since it will have the capacity for breaking roots and it will actually provide a speed buff. Bah... it may have to be ctrl+z since my Dash is bound to shift+z at the moment. Hard to tell... I'll let you know what I find tomorrow.

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Nothing But Bads

As far as the eye can see, there are nothing but bads. We went 10-1 this week (with a tie that doesn't get counted) and ended up climbing the 2v2s team back to 2260ish. The sad part is that we face teams who are 2200 and are absolutely awful. I mean, these guys are atrocious and they are rated similarly to us. We went against a Rogue+Mage team who blocked in my opener, Cloaked FFF, then proceeded to get Nature's Grasp kited the entire match while I killed his Mage, and they were 2250. We beat a 2350 FrostMage+Disc team who were actually decent but had no idea how to control Guntir's shammy or me. They would line up burst, get me to 25% hp while their Mage is in dire straights and I'd just keep dps'ing until Guntir topped me off... it's really not hard.

I haven't been posting much... I know. I haven't put up a video in a month... I know. Here is my big problem: the game is broken right now and I have no reason to play. Yeah, Guntir and I could try and squeeze in more games every week and get some decent points under us (and rating to boot), but there is no point to hitting 2500 in 2s except it makes you feel like a big man. I have all the best in slot PvP gear (as does both of Guntir's chars) and I am sitting on 7k conquest points wondering what to do with them. At first, I was disenchanting PvP gear for Maelstrom Crystals and selling them on the auction house for 1.4k, but now the prices have fallen out since 4.1 is likely dropping next week and they will be attainable via honor. I could still probably stock up and get 14k or some from all my conquest points... but I already have ~17k gold and I maxed out my professions... I don't know what else to do.

I do not enjoy grinding up my alts... that bores me pretty badly. Supposedly, next patch I will be able to trade in Conquest Points for PvE gear, so I might end up looking for OP trinkets or some such to buy. However, this is all beside the point.

Why do I do arenas?

Because they are fun.

Why aren't I doing more arenas now?

Because the game is so broken that arenas are not even fun.

Basically, I am tired of going against DK+Healer or Warrior+Healer and they play like crap with zero coordination, but end up either globaling someone (more the warrior) or simply outlasting our mana pool (more the DK). We played a Marks+RDruid team this week and it went to length. These guys ended up being on our server and they whispered me and said that the Hunter's bow went to 0 durability mid-way through the match and he started using his S8 bow instead... we couldn't land a kill because of the ridiculous peeling from the Hunter coupled with infinite mana on the part of the Druid and they couldn't land a kill on us with or without a good bow.

The state of the game at the moment is kind of silly. The 4.1 patch will make some thing better... obviously, Warriors will have a much more difficult time 100-0'ing someone after the Colossus Smash nerf, but DKs are getting more sustained damage and none of their survivability is going down. I really do not understand how Blizz does these things; it is like they see a problem, fix it, and then deliberately break something else.

Speaking of Blizzard, they had a post from GC (around the water cooler or w/e it's called) where he was discussing healing effects and critical hits. As a summary, critical heals have always been a 1.5 multiplier whereas physical critical hits were always a 2.0 and in Cataclysm, all casters were given 2.0 critical multipliers as well. This leaves healers in a position where they simply do not value critical strike rating very highly because it would only amount to, at best, a fifty-percent return on investment whereas it is a roughly double return for damage-dealers.

With me (him) so far? Okay, so he says that the devs have been toying with the idea of giving healers double-healing criticals to make them value crit as a stat. This change would do a lot for burst-healing in general as well as empowering healers by giving healers who rely on actual heals that can crit (non-shields) a boon over those who do not (Disc uses PW:S etc which cannot crit). Okay, well every healer would see more healing for "free" from this change.

Then GC goes on to say that they think that healing might be too powerful in PvP and that the tooltips for talents like Mortal Strike have been left intentionally vague for 4.1. The idea here is that a 50% MS was entirely too powerful and was obviously "required" in every previous arena season (except 8 where burst was king). The devs do not want to go back to the "MS is required" PvP scene, but states that "healing might be OP in PvP" and "what if MS was 20% to counter this?"

Are you serious?

You just stated:

1) You don't want MS to be mandatory for PvP
2) Healing might be OP

and your conclusion was "maybe we will buff MS a little bit"??? Are you trolling me GC? You take those two premises and come to the conclusion that goes against both of them... healing would continue to be a bit too powerful and MS would again become mandatory in PvP. WAHMP WAHMP. Hopefully enough stink will have been raised on this issue that it would never happen... the healers critting for double makes some sense to me, but then I would worry that healing would become even more powerful if that should come to pass. These really seem like design changes that should have been brought up during Cata's alpha period...

Just sayin'...

Oh yeah, no word from that Frost Mage yet concerning 3s. /shrug

4.1 should drop next week (hopefully), and that might mean I record videos again, but we will just have to wait and see.

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Let's Have an Update

It has been a while since I posted anything; please allow me to explain. First, I had LASIK surgery performed on March 31, so I had been in recuperation mode for a bit; second, I have been playing less and less because 4.0.6 is simply broken. I could go into great detail over why I believe the current instantiation of the game is broken, but these reasons are fairly self-evident: warrior's gross damage; DK's ability to never die or be snared coupled with NS (the most blatantly OP ability ever - more so than MS at the height of its reign, imho); etc.

Guntir and I have been playing less and less and basically have been rocking 10 wins a week, and for the last couple weeks we have not even managed a 50-50 record because of our skill atrophying coupled with the aforementioned brokenness of the game. My problem is largely one of a lack of motivation. As with everything else, I find myself asking "why even bother?" I have tons of gold now (thanks to DE'ing PvP purps and selling Maelstrom Crystals for silly amounts), I have all the best gear (save for the PvP trinkets, which I figure I will buy when 4.1 hits since I'm still making money on the MCs) available, and I have never been fond of alts. On top of the fact that I have no tangible motivation for playing, I have no subtle drive either being as every other team we play these days are cheese-dick comps abusing the imbalances of the current game (blood+blood, war+hunt) or a 2500 comp that we have a shot against (and we only go 50-50 against these most the time anyway). We did 4 wins on Tuesday, but then got pitted against a DK+Disc team 5 times and my morale was shaken to the core (can't train the DK because he's unkillable and can't train the Priest because the DK will kill Guntir).

I find myself hating 2v2s more and more each day I play the bracket. The imbalances just jump out at me. We faced a 2600 Hunter+Warrior who 100-0'd me in Guntir's GCD from his trinket... clearly we were outplayed. The silver lining, of course, is that 4.1 aims to correct a LOT of these imbalances (or at least calm them down a bit). Warrior burst damage is getting gutted via Colossus Smash's effect being halved and their control/mobility is being reduced somewhat via Charge going back to a 1.5s stun (which means their stupid "charge stuns 2 additional nearby targets when used" is less effective as well).

Additionally, Blood DKs are being tweaked to only allow Blood Shield to work in Blood Presence... which I am told means that their survivability in PvP will either go down or the damage output will go down. It makes SOME sense to me, since Glyph of Dark Succor suggests that the heal from Death Strike only happens in Unholy or Frost Presence, so they will either deal damage, or they will survive, but not both. I simply do not understand DKs, but I do not really see this changing much except the stance in which PvP-Bloods dps in... they will drop Glyph of Dark Succor in favor of keeping Blood Shield up as much as possible and spam Death Strike when they are getting trained... right? All this does is make them miss out on 15% haste... which does not really equate to amazing damage for DKs anyway... so, I'm still extremely hesitant to believe that this will fix everything.

Warlocks and Mages keep getting buffs; I see a buff for Warlocks or Mages every build on the PTR. It seems like LFD is going to probably come back in full force (though it's pretty decent right now anyway) when 4.1 arrives. However, Frost Mage control has been hit pretty hard and their ability to nuke on the run has also been hit by Fingers of Frost no longer proc'ing from defensive chill effects (Ice Armor), which means that Frost Mages will have to use one of their root effects to actually use a Deep Freeze again. This is kind of a big deal when going against melees because Frost Mages often use their root effects to set up damage while kiting rather than just setting up burst attempts. In 4.1, using a root effect will mean proc'ing FoF which will mean that Deep Freeze can be used either on the healer or the kill-target, and if it is used on the kill-target, then that is at least two CC DR categories being started. /shrug

Feral+Frost+Disc will still be an amazing comp next patch. It will revolve (as usual) around keeping the Feral or the Mage alive long enough to land a GOOD combo of CC on the healer and root+rape on the kill target while whatever is training the priest gets peeled well enough for him to nuke. I envision this comp playing a LOT like Hydra plays RMP: balls-to-the-walls offensive out the gate and nuke something till they dead.

I really want to find a great mage to start running this comp; I am sick of 2s at the moment.

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