One of the first things I did Friday when I got home was try to log into the beta and get some more leveling done and see if I missed anything. Instead, all the servers were down. A new patch was being applied from the looks of it, which means I got back just in time.
Later that night everything came back up and I caught on WoR some of the incoming changes. Most immediately tantalizing of which is the new Holy Power UI widget. I’m sure you’ve seen a thousand screens of this, but here are mine:
I’ll be talking a little bit about Holy Power, ShoR, and Holy Shield in a bit. But first, a few back-end things–check out the new tooltips for hit and expertise. This is pretty handy (especially for Expertise, which is a tad more complex than Hit). Takes a little of the numerical mystery out of the game, but QSS.
Now with more Block!
And of course, the biggest news of this build isn’t the fluff HoPo (as Anafielle calls it) interface, it’s the introduction of Mastery.
At base, our Mastery (Divine Bulwark) is worth 16% block chance as soon as you train it. As you add more Mastery rating that number goes up (tempered by the level/mastery formula, of course). At level 81, with 75 Mastery rating, my block chance went up to 23% before Holy Shield.
At lvl 82, I had managed to accumulate 492 mastery through various quest rewards, worth 28% block chance. That’s 32% before Holy Shield, 47% after. In fact, before dinging 82 I had about 52% block chance all together. One level dropped it 5% from the ratings/level conversion. I expect that drop will get steeper as my level gets higher.
The other “skill” available at the trainer was Plate Specialization, which boosts a stat if you’re in all plate.
So basically a free 5% stamina.
Revamped talents and spells
I already talked about Ret’s (grumble) gap closer in a post on Saturday, so I’ll avoid repeating myself here in this space. Some changes prot-side included a return to a +damage Consecration talent, a new Sacred Duty that makes ShoR have a chance to crit (I’ll talk about this re: priorities in a sec), and Wrath of the Lightbringer affects Judgements as well now.
Shield of the Righteous (ugh, that name) is now implemented, unlike the week before. You can talent into it and it appears in your spellbook. And unlike the 30/60/90 iteration, it now deals 20/60/120 AP based on how much Holy Power you’re rocking. At lvl 81 I had about 3700 AP with Might up. I was ShoRing for about 4600 damage a hit, which is 120% AP (including some Vengeance). Not too shabby, but also not the BOOMHEADSHOT type-attack I was hoping for. Perhaps at later levels with more massive AP numbers.
ShoR also when cast will put up a 20 second Holy Shield buff. For 15% block chance, regardless of how much Holy Power you had when you used ShoR. 1 HP is 15%, 2 HP is 15%, 3 is… you get it. This is much less onerous than the old prospect of stacking Holy Power to 3 then getting the max block buff up at the start of a boss fight. Now your first moves in melee can be CS+ShoR and you’ll be good to go.
Hammer of the Righteous has been redesigned. Rather than cleave and swinging flying, glowing hammers about with a mellifluous CLANG, you now just let loose a holy burst of light and hit everything around you. Rather than being a copy of Cleave, HotR is now a copy of Thunderclap. I haven’t tested the damage yet to see how much it does single target, on two, three, etc. and WoL ate the log I did Saturday. Nonetheless, I’m curious why this spell was redesigned, especially when Holy Wrath still works.
Speaking of HotR, it is, as we knew was coming, now on the same cooldown as Crusader Strike. And both have a 4.5 second cooldown, lining up nicely with GCDs.
Hand of Reckoning no longer does damage on taunt. Disappointing, but it was always a band-aid to the removal of Exorcism from our toolboxes. To fill in the gap we have Avenger’s Shield with a–talented–15 second cooldown (which gives me tingles) and the new Improved Judgements talent which allows us to have 30 yard Judgements. Something I can see myself getting.
The new priority
So, like I’ve been teasing, here’s the new priority rotation I’m monkeying around with: (1) Avenger’s Shield, (2) Judgement+3HP ShoR, (3) CS/HotR, (4) Hammer of Wrath, (5) Judgement, (6) Holy Wrath, (7) Consecrate.
The reason I have Judgement twice is because you definitely want to make sure to cast it before ShoR, since it gives ShoR a 50% chance to crit. It doesn’t have to be immediately before, the proc has a 15 second duration, so you can ride that for a bit, or jam another Judgement in right before ShoR for another chance of it.
Judgement otherwise still hits like a wet noodle and isn’t worth prioritizing over other, hard-hitting spells.
Also, don’t forget: the first rule of Grand Crusader is it will always proc if you use CS/HotR when Avenger’s Shield is not on cooldown! Also, we don’t talk about Grand Crusader.
Now, one of the more disconcerting things about beta right now is how many free GCDs we have. I’m so used to rotating through my 9s and 6s that I find myself stopping dead in my tracks with no idea what to do next as all my abilities are on cooldown. In a raid I could toss out some Hands/utility. While soloing I just block Holy Wrath as a filler.
Oh good, more morality quests
And the last thing I want to talk about in this post is I had a very interesting questing experience in Hyjal this weekend.
What’s this? A moral choice?! I had the option of letting the NPC kill the quest target who we were interrogating, or let her go. Being a blood-thirsty Alliance I opted for the throat slitting, though outside of that quest there didn’t seem to be any recourse to my actions. I’ll be miffed if it turns out she comes back to you a week later and gives you a free epic for sparing her life.
Expect this to generate blog posts at the advent of Cataclysm much in the same way that Borean Tundra torture quest did two years ago. Money on the table!