Saturday, December 12, 2009

Icecrown Citadel: Lower Spire

I got drafted into a 10-man, so I got a chance to see what all the new bosses are like.

Lord Marrowgar

Lord Marrowgar to me, somehow. The coldfire and bone spikes are fine, but I just don't like the whirlwind phase. Which is kind of odd, because I really liked Leotheras, which featured the same switching between whirlwind and normal.

Perhaps it's because Marrowgar is so large. Leotheras was much smaller, so when he whirlwinded, it felt like you could avoid him if you were clever. For Marrowgar, I just head for the hills. As well, because of his size, everyone goes out of range for healing.

That's actually one of my pet peeves about certain raid fights. I dislike fights where people go in and out of range seemingly at random.

Lady Deathwhisper

Lady Deathwhisper is an okay fight, but nothing really special, at least on 10-man. I think this will be more interesting in 25-mans, as the extra mobs will add more complexity to the fight. Actually, looking at WoWWiki, Mind Control alone will make life interesting.

Icecrown Gunship Battle

The Gunship Battle is simply awesome! Airships, cannons, repelling boarding parties, boarding the opposing ship in turn, jet packs, Muradin Bronzebeard, High Overlord Saurfang! This fight has so many different elements, and yet they all combine beautifully to form an insanely fun fight.

I particularly like the way Saurfang is used as a phase-enrage timer, with his self-stacking buff. It gives the players a chance to engage him in combat, makes it imperative to board the enemy ship, kill the targets, and get out quickly, but also retains Saurfang's essential badass-ness.

Simply a great, great fight.


(Not sure if Deathbringer's identity is considered a spoiler, but I will err on the side of caution. Note that the link to fight reveals his identity.)

Deathbringer is an interesting fight. It's a good fight, with interesting and challenging mechanics.

However, I wonder if Deathbringer will be disproportionately harder for Gentry guilds than it will be for Aristocracy and Royalty guilds.

Basically, Deathbringer stacks Blood Points whenever he deals damage. When he reaches 100 Blood Points, he puts Mark of the Champion on a random raid member, and they take damage whenever Deathbringer deals damage. So the Marks act as a soft enrage for the fight.

The thing is that some of the abilities which grant Deathbringer Blood Points are avoidable. So Gentry guilds will be hit with a double penalty. First, Gentry DPS is lower than Royalty/Aristocracy DPS, so more Marks will be handed out. Second, Gentry are more likely to make small mistakes when it comes to the avoidable Blood Points. People won't be far enough apart for Blood Boil, or they'll get hit by Blood Beasts. So not only will the Gentry get more Marks because their fight will be longer, they will accumulate those Marks at a faster rate.

I think that combination, that double penalty, might make the fight harder than expected for lower level guilds. If any of the available fights gets nerfed in Icecrown, I expect this one to be the first. And the vast majority of Aristocracy and Royalty guilds won't understand why.


So far, the first few bosses are pretty good. I loved Gunship Battle and Deathbringer, and enjoyed Lady Deathwhisper. Only Marrowgar didn't seem that fun to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Patch 3.3 First Impressions

Dungeon Finder

Awesome! Fast, reasonably balanced groups. A good variety of instances. I've even used it for low-level groups with alts (did Shadowfang Keep, Blackfathom Depths, Scarlet Monastery Graveyard, and Regular Old Kingdom) and everything worked pretty well.

Regular heroics are nice, but the low level dungeons are what interest me the most. I've always liked doing those dungeons with a level appropriate group, but it used to be so hard to form a group. Now hopefully, it will be much easier.

You know, in a few months there are going to be some sick skilled tanks available. Imagine levelling to max purely by running dungeons with PuGs. Those tanks who come out of that are going to be really good.

Finally, it's an interesting observation how much more fun you can make the game by taking control away from the players. There's no formal Gearscore, no Achievement-linking, no looking for a specific class, no choosing the instance ahead of time. You just get told, "Here's your instance, and here's your group. Go to it." And everything works out nicely.

A lot of times I think we make things more difficult for ourselves than they need to be.

New 5-mans

Forge of Souls is okay. Personally, I think it may have been a little extreme to take the James "Godfather of Soul" Brown homage to that level. But it's still an decent instance, if somewhat short. I'm not really sure what was happening on that last boss.

I adore Pit of Saron. I like the layout, the fact that it's not on rails like so many other instances. Ick and Krick are great, as is that giant boss. The ice tunnel is superb fun, and is possibly the best reuse of a raid mechanic ever. The final boss is pretty good too.

Actually, the ice tunnel deserves more discussion. It's the perfect combination of challenge and set-piece in a long while. The mechanics are relatively simple, but they really drive home exactly what Blizzard wants you to feel. They could have made the rockfall just do random damage, but avoiding the ice circles keeps you constantly moving, making the entire experience feel more urgent.

Halls of Reflection is pretty good. I suspect my feelings on HoR are colored by the fact that it bugged out on me the first three times I attempted it. But I finally completed it in the end. It is fairly hard for a heroic, especially the first fight. Lots of lore fun in the instance as well. The final fight has the greatest enrage timer in the history of WoW.

Other Impressions

The new map and quest guide are pretty slick.

I like the tag on gear that tells you what equipment set an item is in.

Some of the new interface options are interesting. However, there seem to be some automatic changes which you may not like. For example, auto-self-cast got turned on.

The new "@" syntax for macros is very nice. You can replace "target=" with "@". It shortens the macro, and makes it more understandable. For example, "target=mouseover" becomes "@mouseover".

I haven't gotten a chance to see the new raid instances yet. Hopefully I'll get a peek on the weekend.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Paladins and Patch 3.3

Patch 3.3 is almost upon us. Here's a look at the changes for paladins.

Divine Intervention

Divine Intervention: This ability now also removes Exhaustion or Sated from a target if the recipient is out of combat when the effect ends. In addition, the cooldown on this ability has been reduced from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.

With the decreased cooldown and removal of Exhaustion, this ability can now be used without fear. Good for wipe recovery and reducing repair bills.

Flash of Light

Flash of Light: This spell no longer causes a heal-over-time effect unless the player has the Infusion of Light talent.
Infusion of Light: This talent now causes the paladin's Flash of Light spells to heal the target for 50/100% of the Flash of Light healing amount over 12 seconds [if Sacred Shield is on the target].

Though the patch notes (so far) haven't explicitly stated it, this refers to the FoL+Sacred Shield HoT. You will still need Sacred Shield to be on the target. Pretty much nothing changes for Holy paladins, but Ret and Prot paladins lose that HoT. A PvP change more than anything.

Lay on Hands

Lay on Hands: This ability will place Forbearance on the paladin if used on his or herself. It will not place Forbearance on others.

A slight nerf to Protection paladins in PvE, and to all paladins in PvP. Blizzard is trying to cut down on the number of "extra lives" a paladin can use in a row.

Aura Mastery

Aura Mastery: This effect of this talent has been reduced in duration to 6 seconds.

A PvP nerf. The main effect this will have in PvE is that it will make timing this ability more unforgiving. Usually you use AM during a boss special attack. 10 seconds did give some margin for error, so you might hit AM a couple of seconds too soon and still cover the duration of the attack.


Repentance: This crowd control effect will no longer break early from the damage done by Righteous Vengeance.

Small boost to make Repentance more usable on a target you've already attacked.

Divine Sacrifice

Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 10/20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active. In addition, the duration has been changed to 6 seconds, however the effect does not terminate when Divine Sacrifice is removed before its full duration.
Divine Sacrifice: Redesigned. The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin's health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases. Finally, damage which reduces the paladin's health below 20% now cancels the effect early.

Okay, DS is now party-only, so it becomes much less valuable than it used to be. However, hopefully the new design allows the paladin to survive using DS without the bubble. If that is so, you get to use DS much more frequently.

The raid damage reduction gets moved to the next tier and cut in half to -20% for 6 seconds. As with Aura Mastery, the timing becomes less forgiving. However, you will get to use it without the bubble (hopefully). A less powerful effect usable more often.

I suspect that most Holy paladins will still take DS+DG, and may even end up using it more. However, I think most Ret paladins will drop the talent, and use the points in Retribution, probably making Vindication standard.


On the whole, not a lot has changed for paladins. Minor nerfs to a couple of situational abilities, but Divine Intervention becomes usable again. Divine Sacrifice becomes weaker, but might be usable more often. It really depends on how likely a paladin using Divine Sacrifice is to gib herself. Personally, I hope that DS and the bubble become fully de-linked. The bubble can go back to being an individual emergency defense, rather than being saved for Divine Sacrifice all the time.