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Block cap milestone #2

On Tuesday after (finally) having the Mirrored Boots crafted and picking up the shoulders off of Alysrazor — while still stabbing that Domo voodoo doll relentlessly to compel him to drop enough Conq tokens for me to win one — I finally amassed enough surplus mastery to be able to drop a mastery trinket.

To cross the finish line, I had to swap around six gems: four Puissants into blue sockets, one Fractured into my relic socket, and one Fractured Chimera’s Eye into a yellow socket. With that done, I picked up the last 183 mastery I needed to cover for removing the Spidersilk Spindle from my default kit.

I’m not block capped with the assumption of the Mirror of Broken Images being equipped, and I chose that particular trinket to be my default so that if I want to use the Spindle instead, I won’t suddenly be a chunk of mastery under the cap.

In return, I now run the Scales of Life (which I’m training myself to use like a cooldown, a mini-WoG) in my second trinket slot. If it’s Baleroc, I’ll swap that out for the Spindle to have the extra mastery needed to reach Baleroc’s special super-CTC requirement. If it’s Alysrazor, a dps trinket goes in. If it’s a primarily physical damage fight (like Shannox), I’ll swap out the Mirror for the Spindle and keep the Scales.

This is why I hope we’re allowed to continue to block cap in 4.3. All this dancing around the cap and gearing intelligently and effectively depending on the fight while keep our necks above the caps is fun. At least, to me. I might be a masochist when it comes to stuff like this.

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October 6, 2011
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Spreadsheet to v1.3.3, and Al’Akir ate the rest of this post

I typed out a minor opus talking about how elusive block cap was being for me and then the thunderstorm currently leveling the Boston area to ground decided to knock the power out  from my building. Lost to history now. I really don’t know why I type things into my email client here. No, wait, I do. Makes it look like work.

But, um, yes. The one thing that wasn’t eaten by the power flash was the update to the CTC spreadsheet. It’s now up to version 1.3.3, with the additional gain of a function that converts overflow mastery (more than needed to reach block cap) to stamina at a rate of 1:1.5 mastery to stamina.

The stamina number is then converted out to hitpoints with all the requisite bonuses: Touched by the Light, Plate Specialization, and Kings/Mark if selected in the buffs section previously.

Suffice it say when I finally hit the blockcap after the first raid night next week, that number will be deliciously pertinent as I start regemming mastery to stamina.

I’ll try to take another crack at the post — under better weather — on Monday.

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August 19, 2011
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You’d think the latest 4.1 Sacred Duty change was a big deal, but…

It really isn’t.

First, the change from the latest PTR build is as follows:

Sacred Duty now also procs from Avenger’s Shield. Now lasts 10 sec, down from 15 sec.

On its face, it looks like an awesome change. Avenger’s Shield is sorta a holy power generator now, Grand Crusader becomes a much more useful talent, we get more Holy Power–all together, a great package deal!

So Theck runs the numbers over at Maintankadin and from his various simulations it seems like going from a priority of ShoR>CS>J>AS (our current priority system) to ShoR>CS>AS>J is worth an additional 119 dps at 2% hit/10 expertise, after this change. Basically, that means prioritizing AS over J.

Likewise, moving to a priority where you use AS from a Grand Crusader proc to generate an HP before using CS is worth 160 more dps than ShoR>CS>J>AS. (With 8% hit and 26 expertise, though, putting CS before AS comes ahead, again.)

If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re talking about ludicrously small numbers here. Blizzard obviously intended this change to make Grand Crusader much more attractive as a talent, to needle the legions of tankadins who have forsaken what was assumed to be a great talent by the designers (hell, they designed an official power aura for it). And the best they can do is add another 160 dps to the rotation–a rotation that sims for 14406 dps (using that latter priority system example)–when we use the abilities and talents they cajole us into using.

The root of all evil, of course, is that our rotation is so stupidly simplistic and rigid that we’re really only ever talking about changing what goes in that filler spot. Rather than rant more on the subject though, I’d like to point you to Theck’s comments on the matter. He says it much better than I could.

RIP Block Rating

One last build 13793 change that’ll affect us is Enchant Shield – Blocking is being changed from giving 40 block rating to 50 mastery rating. The enchant is currently worth .45% block chance, while 50 mastery rating is worth .63% block chance. So the change is a minor buff of .18% block chance.

More importantly, this marks the last vestige of block rating being removed from the game. Much like Tarkin announcing that the last remnants of the Old Republic being swept away, so too this shall pass. Farewell, old friend.

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Block capping at 80 with Mastery

Saturday night I hopped onto the beta to screw around with Reforging and see if I could expect to block cap myself come 4.0.1. As many of you know, block capping means stacking enough block chance that ordinary hits are pushed off the combat table, which can pay huge dividends in damage reduction in certain situations. In Wrath, block capping was especially desirable for Heroic Anub in ToGC, allowing you to cheese the damage from the adds.

In Cataclysm, block capping is going to be amazing, if only because it’s going to be like having a cooldown up for every physical hit. With a successful block now reducing any physical hit by 30%, you want to be block capped. (Of course, that also means there’s a cap on our Mastery, because any further dodge/parry once block capped pushes block chance off the combat table, but that’s an issue for another day.)

So the goal is 102.4% total avoidance+base miss chance+block. How feasible in that in my gear set at 80?

Here’s where I was in terms of avoidance and mitigation when standing in front of the Reforger NPC.

46.42% avoidance + 5% base miss + 21% block (5% base + 16% for learning Mastery) = 72.42% avoidance and block. 29.98% short.

I then proceeded to reforge every feasible piece to mastery. Dodge converted over if there was more dodge on the piece, parry otherwise, and equipped the Heroic CTC and reforged that to mastery as well. I attempted to keep dodge and parry at least even, but I had so much more dodge rating that diminishing returns made it so I got a lot more mastery from dodge.

I then dodged over to a dummy, buffed, and put up Holy Shield. This is what I had:

At 42.03% dodge+parry I lost a total of 4.39% avoidance and gained 24.35% block chance from Mastery.

So, with the 42.03% avoidance + 5% base miss + 60.35% block chance, I was at 107.53% avoidance+block. 5.13% over block cap.

Not too shabby.

I’m actually at the point where I should reduce how much Mastery I have, because that 5.13% overage is just wasted block chance. To mitigate this I can swap the Heroic CTC for a stamina trinket, and then dial back some of the Mastery.

Actually, I’m really liking the extra control reforging gives us over our gear and stats. To be able to shuffle around secondary stats like this is pretty cool.

Anyway, once I hit 81 the ratings conversions will shoot through the roof and block capping will disappear until at least the first raid tier (at least according to the calculations done by Zarko in this thread) but I’m excited at being able to taste such amazing damage reduction potential for the next two months.

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Back to business in beta

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!

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Mastery and inconsistencies

In our class preview last month we were told that our third mastery would mean that “the paladin will absorb more damage with normal blocks.” The assumption among many quarters was this meant we’d have a higher-than-normal damage absorption rate from blocks. That is, a warrior would block for 30% and sometimes 60% (if critting) while we would block for, say, a steady 40%.

Turns out that was not the case. According to the datamined Alpha Mastery values, our third mastery definitively increases our block chance. This corroborates what was datamined by MMO-Champ, which I mentioned in my last post on the subject.

The Mastery values are pretty interesting. It appears that with 51 points in a tree we’ll be gaining 8.01% damage reduction, the Vengeance effect, and a 16% additional base block chance. Putting aside that Mastery and Block Rating is the same stat for us right now, 16% is a pretty major number when each block is a straight percentage of damage reduction.

Overall though, it’s interesting to see a disconnect between what Blizz said they would do in our class preview and what reality has so far turned out to be. I wonder if anything else from the preview is… off.

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Block Rating == Mastery

All standard “this is subject to change” disclaimers apply, but here’s some food for thought of how things stand right now in the Alpha.

We have one stat which will be featured on tanking gear called Block Rating. This will increase our chance to block, and when a block occurs a flat 30% damage reduction will occur. We increase this stat through gear with Block Rating.

There is also a stat called Mastery that we’ll we accumulating. According to the Class Preview, Mastery will affect “block amount”. Blizz clarified this by noting the thematic difference between Warriors and Paladins, as the former blocks for more reduction, and the latter blocks more often.

That’s all well and good, but if you look at the Alpha spells they say our third Mastery is “Increases your chance to block melee attacks.” And, more succintly, “Block chance %”.

So–and maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit here–but doesn’t it seem that Block and Mastery are the same stat?

I know it’s early, and like I disclaimed earlier, everything is subject to change, but hopefully they’re planning to change this. Having two stats do the same thing makes Mastery beyond boring for us, plus will eventually lead to a point where we will likely have “too much” block and have to get nerfed accordingly. Likewise, we could be the only spec with a cap of some sort on the value of our Mastery. That’s not cool.

I’m sure this will change. Right now though, I am filled with trepidation.

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May 11, 2010
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Coming changes are catacly–no! I won’t do it!!

You can’t make me make the “cataclysmic” pun… I refuse! Damn you Blizz and your siren song of easy jokes.

Having eagerly digested all the information from Blizzcon that I could, I’m happy to report the following game changes. (And, by report, I mean regurgitate everything you’ve already read.)

Block is changing

Block rating and value is being folded into one stat. Now instead of having x chance to block for y, you’ll have x chance to block for a steady percent of damage reduction. What that number is, we don’t know yet. Great chance for raid bosses, but kind of crappy for heroics and outgeared content.

Defense is gone

Gone baby, gone. Now all tanks get a crit reduction talent a la Survival of the Fittest. I’m mostly in favor of this, because it’s a huge pain trying to maximize stamina and avoidance while staying crit capped. But then again, juggling is half the fun of the mini-game we call raid gearing.

New ways to advance our characters

Blizz isn’t adding another tier of talents (no 61 point talents) so all we get are 5 more talent points to spend as we will. SotP I guess would be the obvious choice if we had those extra 5 points with today’s menu of options. However, the trees are probably going to be shifted a little with some things moved to the new mastery system (as I understand it) so talents are less “improve x by y%” and more “when you do x, y might happen”.

Path of the Titans is one new way we’ll be advancing our toons, choosing a Titanic cult (I call the Cult of DiCaprio, /swoon) and researching “ancient glyphs” to plug into spots we research. MMO-Champ has two example glyphs that are tank oriented, one giving a passive 4% damage reduction, and one that makes a new Divine Sacrifice-like spell. Pretty cool shift.

So many questions…

Will there still be tank weapons or will we be sharing weapons with dps? How much will the prot tree change? Will there be a “tanking” Path of the Titan to focus on?

The beta will be interesting.

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