Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Wrathgate Event

I know pretty much every blogger who has done the quest chain has gushed (or will gush, as the case may be) about the Wrathgate in-game event, but the machinema is just too awesome to not join in. Personally, I don't think I could have completed the event at a better time. The lack of a stable internet coupled with a relatively full out-of-game schedule and the pressure to get to level 77 so I could have a reasonable chance to complete the With a Little Helper from My Friends achievement—and thereby the Merrymaker meta-achievement/title—was really beginning to get to me. For a while, I was afraid that I wouldn't manage to complete the meta-achievement before the event packs its backs at 6:00am on January 2nd.

But yesterday morning I finally completed the Wrathgate event...and the experience earned from its completion got me up to level 77. I must admit, I can think of no more satisfying way to gain a level than with the accompaniment of the completion of a truly epic chain of quests, an achievement to underline it (Veteran of the Wrathgate), and an in-game machinema to top it all off like a watermelon-sized cherry marinated in awesomesauce. After completing that chain, I feel like a brand new player. It's as if all of the wonder and excitement for the game that's been waning as I've become increasingly familiar with its mechanics, tables, and inner workings has come back in full force. I can't wait to see what's next.

Oh, and last night I managed to find a group for the Lake Wintergrasp battle, netting me the 47 kills I still needed to complete the With a Little Helper from My Friends achievement! Huzzah!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Internet Troubles

Doing much of anything online these past few days has been extremely frustrating. You see, I'm "home" for the holidays, but my internet connection here has been incredibly unstable. I seem to only be able to stay connected for anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours at a time before something eventually goes amiss and the connection inevitably gets lost.

Essentially, this means I have a relatively short window of opportunity to actually get stuff done online, like leveling Gryphonheart past level 74, completing as many Feast of Winter Veil achievements as possible, reading blog posts and webcomics, and reading and moderating the PlusHeal forums (not necessarily in that order of priority). As you might imagine, I am getting extremely frustrated by now—to the point of wanting to play offline or console games rather than continue my World of Warcraft-related activities.

To be honest, I was really hoping to get certain things done (such as completing the Aching Feet story, get Gryphonheart to level 80, etc.) by the end of the year, but the internet's shenanigans are making things downright intolerable. So until I manage to get back to my real home in early January, I probably won't be posting much unless something has me excited enough to deal with the incessant disconnects, and for this I sincerely apologize. :(

Anyway, take care, and may you have a safe and happy holiday season. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holy Theorycrafting: Revisiting BoK vs. BoW

So, in the PlusHeal thread where I originally posted my Blessing of Kings vs. Blessing of Wisdom theorycrafting, several questions came up about what was included (or omitted) in my calculations. Those questions were:
  1. Doesn't Blessing of Kings also have the added benefit of increasing one's chance to crit, and shouldn't that be factored in to the mana regeneration comparisons due to the Illumination talent?
  2. Due to the above, wouldn't the Divine Illumination talent (different from Illumination) further push Blessing of Kings' advantage?
  3. Blessing of Kings also increases the total mana available, since each point of Intellect also grants 15 mana. Shouldn't this be taken into account as a "variable mp5" stat which varies based on the length of the fight?
In addition, it was pointed out that Holy Guidance also converts each point of Intellect into a point of spell power at a 20% rate, and this should be factored in. Finally, some of the arguments above were counter-theorycrafted based on a 1000 Intellect model and a 5-minute fight. So, let's revisit the topic and take all of the above into account.

Alright, so let's compare Blessing of Kings and Blessing of Wisdom with 1000 Intellect and see what that gets us. I'll also try to factor in the additional mana regeneration from the added crit, although I'd like to point out that I didn't factor it in earlier because not only is it difficult to model without assuming certain playstyles or going crazy with theoretical maximums, but also because I was trying to tilt the scale in favor of Blessing of Kings as much as possible. WhileBlessing of Kings will net you 0.6% crit with 1000 Intellect (since current consensus is that it 100 Intellect grants 0.6% crit, and a fully talented Blessing of Kings with 1000 Intellect will provide exactly 100 additional Intellect), it also has the significant opportunity cost of 3 talent points in Sanctified Seals, which grants 3% crit. In other words, spending the 5 points to max out Blessing of Kings instead of 2 points to max out Blessing of Wisdom essentially results in a net loss of 2.4% crit at 1000 Intellect.

Also before we begin, I'd like to note that I'm not going to factor in the additional 1500 mana at the start of each fight as mp5, because the length of each fight is too variable to simply assume a 5 minute duration. 1500 mana is definitely a bonus, but it amounts to 5 Flash of Light casts or 1 Holy Light and 1 Flash of Light cast or 1 Beacon of Light. Also, the usefulness of 1500 mana really depends on how you view that mana added to your total mana pool. For example, someone who sees that mana added to the top of the mana pool may cast a Beacon of Light prior to the fight and think "Wow, Blessing of Kings gave me a free Beacon!", whereas I see the the mana as added to the bottom of my mana pool, so I don't see it as a real factor unless it becomes the difference of having the mana to cast a spell or not having the mana to cast the spell.

That said, let's make the assumption that maxing out Blessing of Kings doesn't force you to choose between Beacon of Light and Sanctified Seals, and you somehow manage to max out all 3 talents (though this is impossible without being level 83). Since we're pretty much riding the Hypotheticalmobile to Impossibleland anyway, we'll make a few more completely unrealistic assumptions. One such assumption is that each crit would yield the maximum mana return possible—the amount returned from a Holy Light crit. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Holy Light should cost about 1274 mana at level 80, which means each Holy Light crit restores 764.4 mana. Thus, 0.1% crit would give about 0.7644 mana per cast. We continue our voyage into Crazyville and assume we have so much haste that Holy Light is now limited by the minimum global cooldown of 1 second. So, 0.1% crit would yield 0.7644 mps. Multiply this by 6, since the additional 100 Intellect from Blessing of Kings would give 0.6% crit, not 0.1%, and then multiply by 5 because we want mp5 and not mps, resulting in a maximum of 22.932 mp5 for 1000 total pre-Kings Intellect.

As for Divine Illumination, let's also model it in a best-case scenario for Blessing of Kings. Basically, this would be to assume that when Divine Illumination is up, we chain cast our most expensive heal to maximize mana return. Our most expensive heal is Holy Light, and since we've assumed that we've capped haste to the point where you are now limited by the 1 second minimum of the global cooldown above, we'll make the same assumption now, which gives us a maximum of 15 Holy Light casts in a single Divine Illumination duration. Using the Holy Light cost of 1274 mana above, Divine Illumination would reduce this cost to 637 mana, and a Holy Light crit would restore 764.4 mana as mentioned earlier. This gives us a net gain of 127.4 mana in an additional 0.6% (or 6 out of each 1000) of Holy Light casts, averaging to a gain of about 0.7644 mana per cast. Since we assumed we can cast 15 Holy Light per Divine Illumination, we get an average of 11.466 mana each Divine Illumination. As Divine Illumination has a 3 minute (or 180 second) cooldown, this yields 36 5-second periods per cast, resulting in approximately 0.3185 mp5 (or a meager 19.11 mana over the course of the hypothetical 5-minute fight).

The equation you'd get would essentially be as follows:
BoK vs BoW
= [additional mp5 of DP + MTT + replen from BoK] + [additional mp5 of crit from BoK] + [additional mp5 from Divine Illumination + Holy Light crits] vs 109.2mp5
= [1000 * 0.057] + [22.932] + [0.3185] vs 109.2 mp5
= 80.2505 mp5 vs 109.2mp5
So, even with numbers that are completely impossible in-game (not to mention at a 1000 Intellect gear level), fully improved Blessing of Wisdom gives you about 28.9495 more mp5 with 1000 Intellect. With 1000 Intellect, Blessing of Kings gives you 1500 more mana and 20 more spell power (and 0.6% crit if you want to make that argument, although it still has an opportunity cost of 3% crit from Sanctified Seals), health equal to your pre-Kings Stamina, attack power equal to 20% of your pre-Kings Strength, a small amount of block value from Strength, a small amount of dodge and armor from Agility, a small amount of Spirit-based mana regeneration, and quite possibly a partridge in a pear tree (but only if you've been a good little boy or girl). :P

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holy Theorycrafting: Mana Regen of Kings vs. Wisdom

Back in the Burning Crusade era, there seemed to be a wide variety of ways one could build a Holy Paladin. Some players went Holy/Prot, others Holy/Ret, and still others Holy/Prot/Ret (I myself used a 47/7/7 build). However, since Wrath of the Lich King launched, it seems that two Holy builds have become dominant: the Holy Kings build (51/5/15) and the Holy Critadin build (51/0/18 + 2 points wherever). The primary difference between these to builds boils down to just 5 points. The Holy Kings build spends these 5 points in Blessing of Kings and Improved Blessing of Kings, and the Holy Critadin build spends 3 points in Sanctified Seals and has 2 points left over. These 2 points can be invested in a variety of different talents, but for the sake of this post, we'll invest them in Improved Blessing of Wisdom. So, ultimately, our trees will look something like this: Holy Kings (51/5/15) and Holy Critadin with Wisdom (53/0/18). (As a side note, choice between Improved Judgements and Improved Blessing of Might in tier 2 of Retribution is irrelevant, and either build can take either talent).

So, with the above 2 builds being the most dominant, the question of which is better will almost invariably arise. As the issue was brought up by a supporter of the Holy Kings build, and I myself favor the Holy Critadin with Wisdom build, I figured I would stack the deck in favor of the Holy Kings build and see when it would surpass the Holy Critadin with Wisdom build. Since Intellect is now one of the most valuable mana regeneration stats for Paladins (thanks to Divine Plea, Replenishment, and other mana restoration abilities that scale based on total mana, such as Mana Tide Totem) and Blessing of Kings added stats scale based on gear, whereas Blessing of Wisdom remains a static bonus, the former will certainly overtake the latter at some point. The question deals with where exactly that point is, and whether or not it is obtainable. Now, on with the post!

How much Intellect is needed for a fully improved Blessing of Kings to equal the mana regeneration of a fully improved Blessing of Wisdom? For the purposes of this example, I'll be stacking everything possible in favor of Blessing of Kings, with the exception of improving Blessing of Wisdom via talents.


  1. Blessing of Kings would replace Blessing of Wisdom on the target.
  2. Replenishment is up on the target 100% of the time (though this is not a particularly realistic assumption).
  3. The target is a Paladin who happens to be grouped with a Restoration Shaman, and thus has access to both Divine Plea and Mana Tide Totem, so that mana regeneration due to Intellect is maximized.
  4. Blessing of Wisdom and Blessing of Kings are both fully improved by their respective talents.
  5. [Glyph of Mana Tide Totem] is used, but other glyphs are not taken into account.
  6. Relics are not taken into account.
  7. The highest rank of each spell is used.

Abbreviation Key:


First, let's convert everything into mp5, so it's easier to compare:

mps of DP = [mana restored per DP cast] / [DP cooldown]
= [INT * 15 * 0.25] / [60]
= INT * 0.0625

mp5 of DP = [mps of DP] * 5
= [INT * 0.0625] * 5
= INT * 0.3125

mps of MTT = [mana restored per MTT cast[ / [MTT cooldown]
= [INT * 15 * (0.06 + 0.01) * 4] / 300
= INT * 0.07 * 0.2
= INT * 0.014

mp5 of MTT = [mps of MTT] * 5
= [INT * 0.014] * 5
= INT * 0.07

mp5 of replen = [mps of replen] * 5
= INT * 0.0375 * 5
= INT * 0.1875

Thus, we can say that the mp5 given by DP + MTT + replen is:

mp5 of DP + MTT + replen = [mp5 or DP] + [mp5 of MTT] + [mp5 of replen]
= [INT * 0.3125] + [INT * 0.07] + [INT * 0.1875]
= INT * 0.57

Since INT will increase by 10% with BoK, we can conclude that the mana regeneration of the above will also increase by 10% with BoK, since they scale with INT. Thus, they would yield an additional mp5 of:

additional mp5 of DP + MTT + replen from BoK = [mp5 of DP + MTT + replen] * 0.1
= INT * 0.57 * 0.1
= INT * 0.057

So, how much INT would be needed for BoK to equal BoW on the mana regeneration front?

additional mp5 of DP + MTT + replen from BoK = BoW
INT * 0.057 = 109.2
INT = 109.2 / 0.057
INT = 1915.79 (rounded up to 1916)

Now, even if you stack full INT and have access to all obtainable gear, items, item enhancements, and buffs, you'd still be hard pressed getting to 1916 INT.

As I see it, Blessing of Wisdom allows me to worry less about mana regeneration stats and instead focus on stats that give me a bit better return, such as haste and spellpower. Blessing of Kings, while nice, still functions best when you stack base stats. Don't get me wrong—it can certainly be a life-saver when the extra health, dodge, armor, crit, etc. etc. it provides means the difference between life and death, but that extra mana regeneration from Blessing of Wisdom can also prove to be the difference between a victory and a wipe.

Ultimately, I think my biggest issue with Blessing of Kings is probably that I still see it as a buff which essentially works to mitigate the effect of bad luck, whereas Blessing of Wisdom does more to allow you to play at your best. I can't speak for anyone else, but personally, I'd rather be good than lucky.

A Quick Update

I was planning on posting some theorycrafting comparing Blessing of Kings to Blessing of Wisdom yesterday, but I got caught up with follow-up theorycrafting addressing some of the issues brought up (or neglected) by the first aforementioned theorycraft. Since it's late and I'm completely exhausted from a day full of traveling, I think reformatting my original theorycraft to work on the blog will have to wait until I wake up.

If you just can't wait to see the results, feel free to check out, as I've already posted it there. Night!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New Header Image

In case you haven't noticed, I am slowly (but surely) updating the look of this blog as I go along. Creating graphics for this site is, unfortunately, taking much more time than I had hoped, primarily due to the fact that I am away from my normal computer and must make do with programs that are different than what I am used to. However, I'm still chugging along, as those of you who have visited this site recently might have seen. ;)

If you are one of those people who, like me, digest blog content primarily via RSS feeds, I've included the blog's new header image at the top of this post. It's not quite the way I originally envisioned it (different images on either side of the text, a background behind the text, and slightly different font), but I think it came out rather nice, regardless. :P

I may update/redesign it once I've found a program easier to work with, but for now I'm satisfied. In the future, I hope to add a footer image as well, in addition to some graphical content along the side bar. I'm also slowly working on a blogroll and a couple other pages, such as a compendium of useful links. Hopefully, everything will be ready before the New Year, although I sincerely doubt it.

And since it's almost upon us, allow me to be the first to wish you a happy (and filling) Feast of Winter Veil this year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the Sporadic Posting

Once again, I apologize for the lack of posts recently. What with the holidays coming up and my ISP and router waging war against each other, finding the time (and active internet connection) to post has become a real challenge. I will endeavor to post when I can, but until I get home (likely in early January), I probably won't be able to post very often.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holy Theorycrafting: SoR vs. SoW+Consecration

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. Real life plus the upcoming holidays has really put a hard limit on the amount of time I have to spare, and sadly online activities tend to be the first thing on my chopping block in such situations. Anyway, to continue with the topic at hand...

In case you don't know, I am one of the moderators at the wonderful healing-oriented forums known as PlusHeal. Well, it just so happened that one of the forum posters there asked a question regarding which strategy dealt damage faster: using Seal of Righteousness for straight-up damage dealing, or using Seal of Wisdom to facilitate the mana regeneration required to be able to cast Consecration as often as possible.

As a Seal of Righteousness user myself, I found this to be a very interesting question. Since I was in the mood to do a bit of theorycrafting at the time, I went ahead and mathed it out. In addition to posting this on the PlusHeal forums, I figured I'd may as well post it here as I've been somewhat lacking in post content recently, and because I spent a good chunk of time on it.

So, let's start with the general idea. As I understand it, the entire point of using Seal of Wisdom instead of Seal of Righteousness is that the former allows you to spam Consecration on cooldown without running into mana issues, whereas the latter would result in downtime if you use Consecration too often. In other words, the whole idea comes down to the notion of Seal of Righteousness vs. Seal of Wisdom + Consecration.

Which deals more DPS, Seal of Righteousness without Consecration or Seal of Wisdom with Consecration?

  1. Judgement of Wisdom and Blessing of Wisdom have 100% uptime.
  2. Divine Plea is used on cooldown.
  3. Judgement of Wisdom is used on cooldown to maximize damage output. (This does not necessarily have to be true with the Seal of Wisdom playstyle, but we'll assume it to make the math slightly easier.)
  4. One can maintain Holy Shock and Consecration spamming indefinitely with Seal of Wisdom active, but not with Seal of Righteousness active.
  5. Librams are not taken into account.
  6. There are no differences in playstyle other than which seal is used and whether or not Consecration is used on cooldown.
  7. Seal of Righteousness's Judgement and Seal of Wisdom's Judgement both have the same chance to deal a critical strike, and both deal a 50% bonus damage when they critically strike.
  8. Multiple cooldowns completing simultaneously are not taken into account.
Abbreviation Key:
First, let's calculate the DPS of SoR and Cons:

= [SoR damage per swing] * [swings / second]
= [MWS * (0.022 * AP + 0.044 * SPH)] * [1 / MWS]
= 0.022 * AP + 0.044 * SPH

Cons DPS
= [Cons damage] / [Cons cooldown]
= [8 * (Cons# + 0.04 * AP + 0.04 * SPH)] / [8]
= Cons# + 0.04 * AP + 0.04 * SPH

Next, let's figure out how much damage Judgement will contribute. Remember that unlike SoR and Cons, Judgements can deal critical strikes, so we should include that into our calculations:

Judgement bonus damage from critical strikes
= [Judgement base damage] * CritChance * 0.5

average Judgement damage
= [Judgement base damage] + [Judgement bonus damage from critical strikes]
= [Judgement base damage] + [[Judgement base damage] * CritChance * 0.5]
= [Judgement base damage] * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))

average Judgement DPS
= [average Judgement damage] / [JCD]
= [[Judgement base damage] * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))] / [JCD]

Now that we have the formula for the average Judgement DPS, let's calculate the numbers for both SoR Judgements and SoW Judgements:

average SoR Judgement damage
= [SoR base damage] * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))
= [1 + 0.2 * AP + 0.32 * SPH] * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))

average SoR Judgement DPS
= [average SoR Judgement damage] / [JCD]
= [(1 + 0.2 * AP + 0.32 * SPH) * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))] / [JCD]

average SoW Judgement damage
= [SoW base damage] * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))
= [1 + 0.16 * AP + 0.25 * SPH] * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))

average SoW Judgement DPS
= [average SoW Judgement damage] / [JCD]
= [(1 + 0.16 * AP + 0.25 * SPH) * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))] / [JCD]

We now have all the numbers we really need for our final calculations, but before we get to the really heavy math, let's go ahead and do something that will make later calculations a bit easier. Since SoR Judgements have greater AP and SPH coefficients than SoW Judgements and they both have the same CritChance and JCD, we know for a fact that SoR Judgements will deal more damage than their SoW counterparts. So, let's just go ahead and figure out exactly how much more DPS we get from SoR Judgements than SoW Judgements on average.

difference between SoR and SoW Judgement DPS
= [average SoR Judgement DPS] - [average SoW Judgement DPS]
= [((1 + 0.2 * AP + 0.32 * SPH) * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))) / JCD] - [((1 + 0.16 * AP + 0.25 * SPH) * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))) / JCD]
= ((1 + (CritChance * 0.5)) * ((1 + 0.2 * AP + 0.32 * SPH) - (1 + 0.16 * AP + 0.25 * SPH))) / JCD
= ((1 + (CritChance * 0.5)) * ((1 - 1) + (0.2 - 0.16) * AP + (0.32 - 0.25) * SPH)) / JCD
= ((1 + (CritChance * 0.5)) * (0.04 * AP + 0.07 * SPH)) / JCD

And now it's finally time for the really heavy math. Since we're trying to figure out which playstyle deals greater DPS, I would feel uncomfortable equating the two and then mathing it out. So, we'll just use an arbitrary symbol to separate the two sides while we figure it out. Let's go with ">?<" since we're trying to figure out which is greater than and which is less than the other.

[SoR DPS] + [average SoR Judgement DPS] >?< [Cons DPS] + [average SoW Judgement DPS]

[SoR DPS] + [average SoR Judgement DPS] - [average SoW Judgement DPS] >?< [Cons DPS]

[SoR DPS] + [difference between SoR and SoW Judgement DPS] >?< [Cons DPS]

[0.022 * AP + 0.044 * SPH] + [((1 + (CritChance * 0.5)) * (0.04 * AP + 0.07 * SPH)) / JCD] >?< [Cons# + 0.04 * AP + 0.04 * SPH]

That's pretty much as far as my rusty math skills can get me. Now there's nothing left but to plug in the numbers and see what comes out. I'm going to go ahead and input my numbers as an example.

(0.022 * AP + 0.044 * SPH) + (((1 + (CritChance * 0.5)) * (0.04 * AP + 0.07 * SPH)) / JCD) >?< (Cons# + 0.04 * AP + 0.04 * SPH)

(0.022 * 474 + 0.044 * 1071) + (((1 + (0.2201 * 0.5)) * (0.04 * 474 + 0.07 * 1071)) / 10) >?< (72 + 0.04 * 474 + 0.04 * 1071)

(10.428 + 47.124) + (((1 + 0.11005) * (18.96 + 74.97)) / 10 >?< (72 + 18.96 + 42.84)

57.552 + (1.11005 * 93.93) / 10 >?< 133.8

57.552 + 104.2669965 / 10 >?< 133.8

57.552 + 10.42669965 >?< 133.8

67.97869965 < 133.8

Alternately, you can skip the "calculate the difference between SoR and SoW Judgement DPS" step, which yields the actual DPS potential of both playstyles:

[SoR DPS] + [average SoR Judgement DPS] >?< [Cons DPS] + [average SoW Judgement DPS]

[0.022 * AP + 0.044 * SPH] + [((1 + 0.2 * AP + 0.32 * SPH) * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))) / JCD] >?< [Cons# + 0.04 * AP + 0.04 * SPH] + [((1 + 0.16 * AP + 0.25 * SPH) * (1 + (CritChance * 0.5))) / JCD]

(0.022 * 474 + 0.044 * 1071) + (((1 + 0.2 * 474 + 0.32 * 1071) * (1 + (0.2201 * 0.5))) / 10) >?< (72 + 0.04 * 474 + 0.04 * 1071) + (((1 + 0.16 * 474 + 0.25 * 1071) * (1 + (0.2201 * 0.5))) / 10)
(10.428 + 47.124) + ((1 + 94.8 + 342.72) * (1 + 0.11005) / 10) >?< (72 + 18.96 + 42.84) + ((1 + 75.84 + 267.75) * (1 + 0.11005) / 10)

57.552 + (438.52 * 1.11005 / 10) >?< 133.8 + (344.59 * 1.11005 / 10)

57.552 + (438.52 * 0.111005) >?< 133.8 + (344.59 * 0.111005)

57.552 + 48.6779126 >?< 133.8 + 38.25121295

106.2299126 < 172.05121295

So, it seems that using Seal of Wisdomand Consecration yields more DPS than Seal of Righteousness without Consecration. Naturally, using Seal of Righteousness with Consecration would deal more than either of the alternatives, but this is not a sustainable DPS cycle (which was the goal).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Last night I managed to finally get Gryphonheart to level 74, the level at which you are presented with a quest that grants you a free teleport to the floating city of Dalaran. Up until now, I've managed to avoid spoiling most of the city by a combination of not paying attention to it in beta (I saw it briefly when I created a pre-made character in the Wrath of the Lich King beta, but portaled out before I managed to get a good feel for the city) and not taking any Dalaran portals in live (Shattrath City remained my [Hearthstone]'s home location until last night).

I must say, it was definitely worth the wait. The city looks amazing, and you can really feel all the work that Blizzard put into creating and polishing the place. Of course, it doesn't hurt that this past October I attended BlizzCon '08, which included a World of Warcraft Art panel at which several Blizzard folks showed various aspects about designing the artistic elements of World of Warcraft, including a presentation which showcased each stage of the city's development.

It was mind-blowing seeing how much thought went into even the most minor details (including the various flavor objects you see in the shops. For example, the potions displayed in The Agronomical Apothecary (above) are designed after the various different potion icons found throughout the game, as are the shards, essences, and dust found in Simply Enchanting (below).

Some objects were created specifically to enhance the city's aesthetic character, such as the variety of sweets which can be found on and around Aimee's Pie, Pastry & Cakes cart outside The Bank of Dalaran. Also, if you do visit Aimee's cart, keep an eye out for the different kinds of gingerbread cookies :)

Oh, and yes, they did show panel attendees what Dalaran looked like before it picked itself up and floated off to Northrend. Sadly, I don't think it was a sneak preview of an upcoming Dalaran-centric Caverns of Time instance, as some have speculated.

PS: In case you're wondering, the image at the top of this blog post is my favorite part of Dalaran. :P

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Casting Animations?

One of my favorite unit animations in WarCraft 3 was the Paladin's Holy Light animation. In case you've never seen it, the Paladin raises his hammer high in the air with one arm, and a brilliant golden ray of light comes down from the heavens to briefly envelop the spell's target in its healing embrace. (In other words, it looked somewhat like a golden healing Moonfire beam. :P ) That one animation captured the purity of the Light in such a graceful way that when World of Warcraft first launched I was genuinely excited to see how awesome the spell would look up close and personal.

Boy, was I disappointed. Instead of raising his hammer high into the air to invoke the Light from the heavens and heal himself or his companions, my Paladin (a human male named Ethos, as this was back in Open Beta, before the game first launched) sheathed his weapon, posed himself as if he were in mid-stride of some extreme powerwalk and wiggled his hands about while wearing what looked like translucent tetherballs made into gloves until a brief flash of yellow light obscured my target. I think I sat there shocked for a few minutes, debating whether I should burst into laughter or tears.

Questions filled my head. Where was the strength and purity that was present in the WarCraft 3 Paladin? Why did my Knight of the Silver Hand look like he was some sort of background dancer for a Chris Farley's Motivational Tetherball Sale-o-Palooza commercial? Why did no beam of Holy Light reach down from the skies and bathe my target in divine purity? Did my target just get his picture taken or something?

When the disappointment finally settled, I found myself hoping that the animations would improve as I leveled. Surely such a pathetic animation couldn't be the representation of such an iconic WarCraft 3 spell, could it? They just didn't want to waste all of the awesomeness of the spell's true animation on its level 1 incarnation, right? I'm sure you can guess the answers. :(

Anyway, when Wrath of the Lich King launched, I noticed something interesting as I began doing quests in Howling Fjord. Rather than seeing the same casting animation I had become accustomed to (though never satisfied with), Gryphonheart did something I'd long since stopped expecting—he raised his [Gavel of Naaru Blessings] high into the air as he invoked the power of the Light. While the dinky little flash still doesn't compare to the old beam of heavenly Light, seeing this was still incredibly gratifying.

Now that the awe and excitement has dulled a bit, I'm beginning to this new holding of one's weapons while casting phenomenon intentional? Or is it simply some bug in the animation that will eventually be reverted? I really hope that the change is not only intentional, but the beginnings of new casting animation customization functionality. Of course, knowing my luck, the old animation will be back by the next time I log into the game. :P

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mmm...Delicious New RAM

Yesterday, I managed to snag a good deal on some new RAM for my gaming machine. It has now doubled the memory available from 2GB to 4GB (although my operating system supposedly can only utilize a portion of the latter). Everything seems to be working perfectly after installation, which is a big relief considering how hard it was to figure out whether or not the RAM was actually compatible with my machine or not. :)

Now my biggest problem is finding the actual time necessary to fire up a game and put it through its paces. /sigh :(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AFK for Turkey Day

Due to traveling plans and the like for Thanksgiving, I won't be posting anything new until Monday. See you then!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday World of Warcraft!

In case you missed it, Sunday (November 23rd) was the 4th Anniversary of World of Warcraft's release. To celebrate, Blizzard gave away a special feat of strength and Bind to Account non-combat pet to every character that logged in that day.

Being the achievement chaser and pet lover that I am, I couldn't pass up such an opportunity. So, I spent a good hour yesterday logging onto all of my characters on Feathermoon (9 in total: 5 Alliance and 4 Horde) to get them all the feat of strength as well as to finish off some of the things I'd been neglecting to do in-game.

A while ago there was some sort of error with the in-game mail system, which effectively removed player access to all mail that had been sent previously. Several days later, Blizzard returned the missing mail items via mass mailing. Unfortunately, this method removed the original content of the letters, as well as information as to who had sent them. Now, I personally use the mail system primarily to transfer items between my alts, but also as a temporary storage system for items or characters I can't be bothered to deal with at the moment. This meant that I had only about a month to log into each character and retrieve each item from the mailbox before it would be lost forever. Well, I took care of that on Sunday, so that's one less worry off of my mind. :)

One of the other things I had been intending to do was to make sure that all of my characters had access to all of the Collector's Edition and BlizzCon related in-game items that I have acquired over the past 4 years. This meant a long string of logging into a character, learning all available non-combat pets and mounts, then sending the account-bound items along to the next character and repeating the process. It also meant that I had to create a new character to make sure that all of my existing characters had access to all three of the non-combat pets that were available in the original World of Warcraft Collector's Edition (I tend to favor the Panda Cub, and thus don't often get the Mini Diablo or Zergling on many of my characters). Well, now I can check that off of my to-do list, too. :)

I guess that means I should get back to leveling. Gryphonheart is still only level 73 or so, although I'm progressing significantly faster than I did when I was first leveling to 60, back before the Burning Crusade launched.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Relationship Between Class and Talent Tree

Recently, I've found myself wondering more and more about how the relationship between classes and talent trees functions in World of Warcraft. For the longest time, I always defined the difference between the two as pretty basic: the class establishes the basic framework of a character and the talent trees allow that character to specialize within that framework.

An example of what I mean is the relationship between the three Hunter talent trees and the Hunter class. When you think about it, each tree focuses on improving one or more of the primary themes of the class. Beast Mastery focuses on the Hunter's pet, one of the most endearing aspects of the Hunter class, as I'm sure Mania of Mania's Arcania can tell you. Marksmanship focuses on ranged weapons and their damage potential. Finally, Survival focuses on "the hunt", or aspects such as tracking, trapping, and, well...surviving.

However, this is not what I see with the Holy Paladin. The Paladin Holy tree allows a character to specialize outside the framework of the class. As I mentioned previously, in my What is a Paladin? and Is the Holy Paladin Really a Paladin? posts, I feel that melee combat is one of the aspects that really works to define the Paladin class as a whole. Yet the Paladin Holy tree does not work toward this end. The result of this is that the Holy Paladin is pushed away from melee combat, and as a result, away from what it truly means to be a Paladin.

In other words, I see the current Paladin Holy tree in a similar light as the pre-patch 1.7 Hunter Survival tree. You know, the one that was crowned by Lacerate? The issue with that tree wasn't simply that Lacerate was a remarkably horrible talent (although it was unbelievably bad), but that the entire tree at the time centered around a ranged combat class specializing in melee combat. Sound somewhat familiar?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'd like to offer my apologies for my sporadic posting this week. I've been feeling a bit under the weather recently, and have spent most of my free time this week asleep. Thankfully, I'm feeling much better today, and so I hope to return The Lion Guard to a more normal posting schedule as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is the Holy Paladin Really a Paladin?

Technically, yes. A Holy Paladin is simply a Paladin character who has placed more talent points in the Holy tree than in the Protection and/or Retribution trees. However, if the answer was as simple as that, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog post. :P

Two weeks ago, I asked the question "What is a Paladin?" and provided my own answer. I highly suggest reading that post as it provides a more in-depth response, but to summarize very briefly, my answer was that the Paladin is best defined by its essence, which is primarily made up of three prominent Paladin themes (which extend beyond WarCraft to every fantasy-genre Paladin I've ever heard of):
  1. durability,
  2. connections to the divine, and
  3. melee combat.
Now, the reason why the question in this post title comes up is that the Holy Paladin in World of Warcraft does not fit particularly well with the third theme, melee combat. Sure, Holy Paladins are decidedly melee-ranged characters while engaged in solo play, but very much lose this trait in group situations. As a result, every time I join a group as a Holy Paladin, I get the sensation that my character is no longer a Paladin, but rather something more akin to a Cleric or Combat Medic.

Don't get me wrong, though—I still love playing my Holy Paladin. If I didn't, I would have respecced, rerolled, or quit the game long ago. However, the fact that my Holy Paladin only plays like a Paladin about half the time is somewhat disappointing, and the fact that I cannot answer the question "Is the Holy Paladin really a Paladin?" with a wholehearted "Yes!" is discouraging.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Wrath Day!

I hope everyone's enjoying the Wrath of the Lich King release. :)

Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to enjoy it, myself. Due to some issues I've been having with how World of Warcraft and my operating system get along, I decided that I'd celebrate the arrival of my shiny (oh, so shiny! :D) new Collector's Edition by completely uninstalling and then reinstalling World of Warcraft. So, after spending some time backing up my addons and converting 22.7 gigabytes worth of .tga format screenshots into 4.55 gigabytes worth of .jpg format ones (which really must find the time to go through, as most of them are completely pointless), I finally got everything back up and running.

Now, if you don't mind, I've got to go swing some Light around. ;D

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wrath of the Holy Light

Be warned! The Lich King no longer sits idly upon his glacial throne. His wrath—the cruel and uncaring fury of death itself—is upon us at last! Be wary, friends. The Lich King knows no mercy, and even the eternal slumber can not grant you reprieve from his icy influence.

Yet we must fight on, as brothers and sisters, Alliance and Horde, blessed of the Light and damned of the darkness. We must stand united, for the Lich King seeks not only to divide our attentions, but to tear asunder all that we love and hold dear!

Stand tall, my brothers and sisters! Stand resolute. Know that so long as you fight against the evils that seek to devour this land—that seek to purge it of all that is good and just and right—know that the very world itself shall fight alongside you. Know that we will emerge victorious—of this there can be no doubt! No matter how deep the darkness, the Light shall always drive it away. No matter how great the horror, the Light shall grant us the resolve to face our fears. No matter how desperate and depraved our souls become, the Light shall always greet us with a welcoming embrace.

By blood and honor we serve. By body and mind we protect. By life and death we sacrifice. And by the Light we'll prevail!

To arms! To battle! Together!

To Northrend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Collector's Editions

In my opinion, one of the best things about every new Blizzard game or expansion release is the Collector's Edition. Blizzard does an amazing job packing these boxes with cool extras, especially the soundtracks, art books, and behind-the-scenes DVDs.

If you haven't bothered to listen to the in-game music recently, I really think you're missing out. WarCraft music is some of my absolute favorite music of any video game franchise, and is amazingly effective at breathing life into an otherwise fairly static world. Not only is the music itself epic enough for any music player, but there are just some moments in World of Warcraft that are not only enhanced by, but become extremely memorable because of music highlights. Two examples of this from the top of my head occur in Molten Core and Zul'Aman.

For those of you who used to raid Molten Core with the in-game music turned on, you probably know the exact area I'm thinking of. About halfway through the instance, right after you defeat the fourth boss, Garr, you pass through a narrow tunnel to encounter your first "lava pack" trash group and see the cavernous room in which Baron Geddon and Shazzrah reside. Right as you cross the threshold from the tunnel to the cavern, the music suddenly drops away and is replaced by something much, much more epic. This transition is absolutely perfectly placed. Garr was arguably the last of the easy bosses at the start of the raid zone, and the "lava packs" were definitely some of the hardest trash pulls in the entire instance. Yet despite this sudden increase in difficulty, the members of the raid group I was part of always seemed to become re-energized when we reached that point, regardless of how long the raid day had been, and I credit this musical transition for at least part of that.

The other example of when music really makes for a memorable moment is the completion of Zul'Aman. After successfully defeating Zul'jin, your raid group is treated to a bit of a celebration in the form of victory music. For me, the feeling of exhilaration after completing Zul'Aman was greater than anything I'd experienced since defeating Ragnaros in Molten Core. Of Hakkar the Soulflayer, Ossirian the Unscarred, Prince Malchezaar, Gruul the Dragonkiller, Magtheridon, Lady Vashj, and Kael'thas Sunstrider—all of whom I defeated between my first victory over Ragnaros and my first victory over Zul'jin—none provided the same sense of achievement that completing Molten Core and Zul'Aman did.

Art Books:
If you've never had the chance to take a look at any of the WarCraft art books, I highly recommend you check out Sons of the Storm, the website of the top Blizzard artists. It'll give you a small taste of the pure awesome that is packed into every art book page. Not only do you get some insight into WarCraft development, but you also get to see cool concept art and sketches of things that may not have necessarily made it into the final game (most likely due to being comprised of too much win). One example of this would be the original concept for Crystalforge Armor (the Paladin tier 5 set), which is much more awe-inspiring than its in-game counterpart.

Behind-the-Scenes DVDs:
The behind-the-scenes DVDs are, by far, my favorite part about Blizzard Collector's Edition boxes. Not only do you generally get high resolution versions of the jaw-dropping cinematics, but you also get to watch cool environment, character, and gameplay videos narrated by the designers and developers.

In fact, my greatest regret about any of the Blizzard Collector's Edition boxes I've bought is the loss of my WarCraft 3 Cinematics DVD (before I could peruse its full contents, too :( ).

Now, am I saying that you should buy yourself a Collector's Edition? No, not necessarily. If you're not interested in owning all the extras, then leave them to people who are. However, if you do know a friend who has gotten the Collector's Edition of any of the WarCraft games which have offered it (WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: the Burning Crusade, and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King), I definitely recommend taking the time to stop by and ask to ogle their goodies.*

...On second thought, you might wish to find a different phrase to use.

*: By reading or in any other way consuming the content of this post, you hereby agree that Gryphonheart of The Lion Guard will not be held responsible for any repercussions resulting from the usage of the phrase "May I please ogle your goodies?" or any derivative thereof.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beacon of Light: Backwards?

As you may know, Beacon of Light is the new 51 point talent for the Paladin Holy tree. It's designed to allow the Paladin to better handle healing situations in which multiple targets are taking damage—a scenario in which Paladins were very ill-equipped to handle prior to patch 3.0.

Now, this post isn't so much about the talent's effectiveness or what I think about it (but if you must know, I'm not really a fan). It's about the divergence between the talent's design and name.

Generally speaking, Blizzard does a phenomenal job of making sure that spells and abilities fit well with the names they're given. Rohan, of Blessing of Kings, discusses this in the post Ability Names. Beacon of Light, in my opinion, is one exception. When I look at the nomenclature of Beacon of Light, I tend to divide it into two parts: "Beacon" and "of Light". The latter part is pretty self-explanitory, and I have no quarrel with it. My problem lies with the useage of the word "Beacon".

Think about it: a beacon is something which emits energy, usually in the form of light. However, Beacon of Light does not turn its target into something which emits the Light—it turns the target into something which mirrors the healing received by other targets. As a result, I always feel that the effect is somewhat backwards every time I use it.

So, what happened? Why did Blizzard's normally high standards of nomenclature break down in the case of Beacon of Light? I believe the primary reason for this is that the Beacon of Light which exists today is a completely redesigned spell from the original one (the one that properly fit the name). The Beacon of Light which first debuted in the Wrath of the Lich King beta was an area of effect heal over time spell, which read as follows:

Beacon of Light
Requires 50 points in Holy
The target becomes a Beacon of Light, healing all party or raid members within 10 yards for 2000 over 15 sec.

As you can probably guess, I think the old version fits the name much better than its successor. What do you think?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why I Play World of Warcraft

I started playing World of Warcraft back in 2004, when the game first launched. M reasoning for picking up the game in the first place was twofold:
  1. WarCrafts 1, 2, and especially 3 had endeared me to the franchise and gotten me interested in the lore and storyline.
  2. The Paladin class. The Paladin was my second favorite unit in WarCraft 2 and my favorite hero unit in WarCraft 3. (You can probably guess my favorite WarCraft 2 unit and WarCraft 3 non-hero unit based on the name I use. :P)
It just so happened that a good friend of mine from high school had also picked up the game, and so we both decided to create our characters on a promising new RP realm called Feathermoon. Naturally, the first character I created was a human Paladin named Gryphonheart. I originally wanted to name him Ethos, which was the name I used in the open beta and what I've continued to use in the expansion betas, however that name was unavailable, which is somewhat boggling to me as I have never managed to find an existing character with that name on Feathermoon.

Anyway, my friend created a night elven Druid, and although our characters never spent much time together—as we both insisted on leveling on our home continents—we still had a great time chatting with each other and discussing our experiences in whispers and party chat. Sadly, that friend has since quit playing World of Warcraft, but remains one of the primary reasons why I cotinue to play on Feathermoon. (Playing on an RP server was my idea, but my friend chose which RP server we would create our characters on. As a result, every time I see the words "Feathermoon (RP)" on the top of my character select screen, I'm reminded of all the good times we had.)

Sentimentality aside, another primary reason why I play World of Warcraft is raiding. At first, raiding did not appeal to me very much because I got the impression that many of the Alliance-side raid groups on Feathermoon at the time were somewhat condescending towards the roleplaying community*, and every raid group I'd heard of required a greater time commitement than I could reasonably afford to meet. Fortunately, I ended up hearing about a new raiding group which had modest time requirements and was being put together by some of the more famous Alliance-side roleplayers on the realm and decided to check it out. Back then the group was called Totally Molten Core, and raiding with that group was the most fun thing I'd experienced in World of Warcraft up to that point. I still continue to raid with that group to this day, although it is now known as Totally Raids, Inc.—and if that name is familiar to you, it's probably because it's the same group that Anna of Too Many Annas raids with.

Now, there are plenty of other reasons why I play World of Warcraft, but friends and raiding are probably the two primary factors. So, if you don't mind me asking, why do you play World of Warcraft?

*: Were the Alliance-side raid groups on Feathermoon at that time condescending towards roleplayers? Honestly, I couldn't tell you as I wasn't one of their members. It may have been an issue of misinterpretation or miscommunication, or a situation of a vocal minority making things seem worse than they truly were. All I can tell you for sure is that, for whatever reason, I did not get the impression that there was a relationship of mutual respect between Alliance raiders and roleplayers back then.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pre-Wrath of the Lich King Goals

With Wrath of the Lich King just under a week away now, I figured it would probably be a good time for me to lay out my pre-expansion goals. So, without further ado:

High Priority Goals:
Low Priority Goals:
I doubt I'll even be able to complete most of the high priority goals, much less all of them, but at least writing them all out will help me better organize the time I spend in-game.

I know that chances are that if you're reading my blog you probably read other World of Warcraft-related blogs as well, and so you're probably getting tired of bloggers asking you this, but what goals are you trying to accomplish in the short time remaining before we can finally set foot on the shores of Northrend?

PS: If you're wondering why today's post is on such a generic topic, my reasoning is threefold:
  1. Writing my goals down in a public space serves to better motivate me to work towards them, rather than simply putting them off.
  2. Generic posts give me a bit more time to work on more interesting posts and you more time to read and digest interesting old posts. :P
  3. The many achievement links give me a chance to test out and troubleshoot the Powered by WoWhead script.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What is a Paladin?

One of the things that I would like to do with this blog is really delve deep into the raw awesomeness that is the Paladin. But before we do that, I think it's important to first define what the Paladin is.

There are, of course, many ways to do this. For example, one could give a very generic answer such as "The Paladin is one of 9 (soon to be 10) character classes in World of Warcraft." Or, one could give a more lore-centric answer. "Paladins are humans and dwarves who have been inducted into the Order of the Silver Hand, draenei who have become Vindicators, or blood elves who have joined the Blood Knights." Perhaps one might use a definition which mentions gameplay roles: "A Paladin is a hybrid character who wears heavy armor and can specialize in healing, tanking, or dealing melee damage."

However, while all of the above are true, my opinion is that the most significant definition of the Paladin deals with essence moreso than anything else. It's not until we strip away the surface characteristics, the rich and vibrant lore, and even the gameplay mechanics that we can begin to see where I believe the essence of the Paladin resides. What we are left with are themes, such as honor, devotion, faith, piety, righteousness, and (of course) big-ass hammers :P. Even then, the essence is elusive, and so we must sift through the themes to find what is most relevant to the Paladin as a whole, and only then can we see what I think is the true heart of the Paladin. What we are left with are 3 things. Three phrases that not only describe the Paladin of World of Warcraft, but also the Paladin of virtually every fantasy setting of modern times: durable, connected to the divine, and melee combatant.

  • Durability is most commonly expressed through heavy armor and, occasionally, shields, and WarCraft Paladins are no exception. In addition, WarCraft Paladins also have the ability to reduce the damage dealt to themselves and their allies, become invulnerable, and heal.
  • Connections to the divine are expressed in a variety of ways across the fantasy genre. The three most common are likely the ability to heal even the most grievous of wounds, to smite demons and/or the undead, and affiliations to a religious order. WarCraft Paladins fit this perfectly.
  • Melee combat is often emphasized in fantasy settings by an aversion to fighting at a distance. This could be the result of a lack of proficiency with ranged weaponry, a code of honor that favors one-on-one or close-range combat or looks down upon commanding from the safety of the back lines, or a myriad of other reasons. This applies to WarCraft Paladins as well. More specifically, this manifests itself in the Paladin class of World of WarCraft through the inability to equip most ranged weapons (there's one exception, which I'm sure most old-school Paladins will remember :P) and the absence of any baseline spammable ranged offensive spell or ability.
In my opinion, those 3 themes are the essence of the Paladin, and do more to define what a Paladin is than any other element, WarCraft-specific or otherwise. However, there's a problem with my definition and how it relates to the World of WarCraft Paladin...

So, two potentially not-so-quick questions:
  1. How would you answer the question "What is a Paladin?"
  2. What, in your opinion, is the problem with my definition, or is there one at all?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Greetings! Welcome to my blog, The Lion Guard! This is a World of Warcraft-centric blog recounting my personal experiences and thoughts about the game, primarily in/on/of/around/near/by/for/with/regarding/from/about the Paladin class.

So, who am I? Those of you who know me in-game or from various forums, blogs, or other such sites probably know me as Gryphonheart (or by my nickname: Gryph), a Human Paladin on the Feathermoon (US RP-PvE) realm of Blizzard Entertainment's extremely popular massively multiplayer online roleplaying game World of Warcraft. Those of you who don't know there! :D

Since we're getting ourselves acquainted anyway, allow me to tell you a bit more about myself and my goals for The Lion Guard.

More About Me:
  • I'm a roleplayer. The lore and stories of and behind WarCraft are some of the most interesting and compelling parts of the game for me. That being said, I know there is also some prejudice against roleplayers in the general WarCraft community. As a result, I'd like to state up front that you're more than welcome to post comments including your disagreements with roleplaying (or anything else I discuss, for that matter), however insults will not be tolerated.
  • Gryphonheart is the virtual expression of myself in the game. What I mean by this is that if the World of Warcraft was the world in which I existed, Gryphonheart is the type of person I would be. I do not mean that I actually think I am the character Gryphonheart in real life.
  • I am a raider. I find raiding to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game.
  • Blizzard Entertainment is my favorite game making company, and WarCraft is my favorite Blizzard franchise.
My Goals for The Lion Guard:
  • 5 posts per week, on average, with at least 1 "meaty" post per week.
  • Provide myself an inspiring means to exercise and develop my writing skills.
  • Practice public expression. I tend to be one of those quiet, shy people in public. Perhaps this blog will help me become a more confident individual.
  • Express myself. Most of the people I interact with regularly in real life are uninterested in WarCraft. I hope that here I can create a place to freely converse with folks who are genuinely interested in at least some of what I have to say.
Well, I guess that's about it. I must admit, I'm looking forward to seeing how this blog turns out. :)