Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ret Fixes - Not Until WOTLK? : (

In the latest BlizzCast interview, Bornakk posed this question to Tom Chilton:

"...regarding Retribution Paladins, we've made some recent changes to the class that were very nice and they're wondering if we're going to update the Seal or the Judgement of Command with the new model that we were following."

Tom responded by saying:

Absolutely. What we're trying to do, a big push that we have in the expansion, is to get different specs and different classes to use similar types of gear. What we don't want to have to do is drop different kinds of gear for every single different kind of spec in the game. Unfortunately, that has the side effect of making people feel as though a lot of loot that isn't for them drops. It's great when the item that is for your class, for your spec drops but you've got to figure that there's a whole lot of other classes and specs out there just thinking ‘another item that's not for me?'

So, what we're trying to do is make sure that the items are shared more among the different classes and specs. So, we're really looking towards moving Retribution Paladins farther towards using the same kind of itemization that warriors use and we've made a couple of changes recently in patch 2.3 that kind of go part of the way there. And really, that was just to shore up some of the immediate problems that we were having with it.

Really, we want to go further with that and make sure that across the board, all the different Seals, Judgements, and all the different paladin abilities in general kind of follow that same scheme. But that's something we'll likely be seeing the full effect of in the expansion. (emphasis mine)

My immediate reaction to this was a combination of lack of surprise and forehead-slapping "WTF!?" You should note that this was the first of a number of various questions posed to Chilton, and one of primary concern among Paladins - a painfully obvious fact if you've browsed their forums on any given day since 2.3 was released. I could understand spreading changes out over the course of two major patches, but delaying major changes until the expansion is just stupid when you take into account the impending addition of Death Knights.

The Death Knight and the Retribution Paladin are very similar at first glance. Both are offensively oriented and deal a combination of physical and magical damage. The Paladin, however, comes to the class balance table hamstrung with a variety of core defensive mechanics that give developers pause when considering whether or not to add offensive capabilities. As a result, I believe they consistently hold back on making changes. The Death Knight, however, is a clean slate from which they are free to work. We already know they will have an ability to turn healing and damage shields against their intended targets. Expect them to have at least one readily spammable snare and spell interrupt, and probably a way to quickly close the gap between himself and his target.

If Blizzard waits until Wrath of the Lich King to bring much-needed fixes to the Retribution playstyle, there won't be that many Paladins left to take advantage of it. They will have all rolled Death Knights. And unlike many players who may try the new class out and abandon it or convert it to a bank alt when they get bored of the playstyle, the former Retribution Paladins will stick with it.

With regard to patch 2.4, I'm still holding out hope that they will finally bring an end to this faction-specific seal nonsense. The lore mechanism is already in place, with Mu'ru having fled his prison in Silvermoon and the Blood Knights now pledged to A'dal in Shattrath. What better time to exchange knowledge and give SoB and SoV to the Alliance and Horde respectively? Unfortunately, there has been no official word on this yet. I'll be keeping a close watch on the PTR as newer and newer builds are introduced with incremental changes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Other News...

I've come to the conclusion that Retribution, even well geared, now officially blows in the arena - at least in 2v2 and 3v3. With resilience-laden gear available to the stinkiest of the unwashed masses, straight-up burst damage is no longer enough. Without a spell interrupt (and I do mean an actual interrupt, not a stun or mez - think earth shock, kick, pummel, shield bash) and no way of reducing healing, you're arguably less useful than an Arms Warrior. Until Retribution gains some form of additional valuable PvP utility, it's going to be much more of a hindrance than a help in building arena ratings. I'm a personal fan of the Spellbreaker idea, though it would obviously have to be toned down a bit for player use. Oh well, at least I now have a new game to try and the Death Knight to look forward to.

Beta Impressions

While I'm not permitted to release details about WAR and the ongoing beta, I simply must give you my current impressions. First off, I'm seriously considering going ahead with a PC upgrade. The game is looking fantastic, but all that detail comes at a cost. While there's probably still plenty to do with regard to programming and graphic optimization, let's not beat around the bush - this is a new generation MMO and you're going to need a solid gaming rig to squeeze the most out of it.

Trust me, you'll want to. It's the first MMO I've seen thus far that has tried to portray realism in their character models and game world and appears to be succeeding. I remember trying out EQ2 shorty after it launched, and thinking how disproportionate their characters looked (think bobble-heads). WoW gets around this by going a different route. By exaggerating features and opting for a more cartoon-like feel, you can avoid excess criticism. EA/Mythic took on a big task and I think their risk and hard work is going to pay off.

I'm not very well acquainted with the Warhammer franchise as far back as the tabletop days. While I may have enjoyed playing it, nobody I knew during my childhood and teen years did to my knowledge. I did, however, enjoy toy soldiers and such. My first introduction to Warhammer came by way of the PC RTS Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. In a nutshell, you get to customize whole regiments and then battle with them in real time on a variety of battlefields. Some have asked the question of Warhammer Online - will it actually feel like Warhammer? I'd have to say, based on my limited experience with the franchise, that the answer is yes. That's probably due in large part to the close partnership between Games Workshop (owners of the Warhammer franchise rights) and EA/Mythic, especially in the art department.

A lot of people in WoW have been asking me if I think it will pose a serious challenge to Blizzard's juggernaut. I've been telling them that WAR certainly has the potential to give big blue a run for their money - especially among the PvP crowd. In WAR, I was experiencing real solid PvP (and broader, group-clashing RvR) as early as level 6 or so. In WoW, you don't even really begin to see the opposing faction in the world until the 20-30 mark. Warsong Gulch is relegated to a nice sterile 10v10 instance where you can't disturb the carebears. In WAR, you immediately get a sense that you were dropped head-first into an epic conflict. This is no capture-the-flag sillyness, folks. Thankfully, things are set up like they are in WoW where you can only attack members of the opposing faction - a fact that EA/Mythic has already pointed out (so don't get nervous and think I'm leaking details).

As this is a blog dedicated especially to the Warrior Priest, I should probably say a few words about that as well. First, understand that things are never set in stone during a beta. The whole purpose is to test content and see how well ideas are actually implemented, and to make changes to those ideas when necessary. Naturally, I rolled a WP as my first beta toon. It's been a lot of fun so far and the developers have been true to their word in designing a class that combines melee combat with group healing and support. Thanks to some clever mechanics being tested right now (which I am, of course, not at liberty to discuss in any detail), this multitasking is not as frustrating as you may think. It would be even less frustrating if my PC could keep up in all the lag caused by my aging hardware, but such is the cost of wanting to see things at max detail. Sigmarite lore abounds within the Empire lands and quests - much more richly than Paladin lore in WoW, sadly.

Anyhow, it's late and I'm already going to be short on sleep tomorrow. There you have my impressions so far. I hope I wasn't too vague, but it's necessary if I want to keep my spot in the beta. Trust me when I say that a great new game is in the works. If you enjoy purpose-driven PvP in a world steeped in lore and conflict, then you're going to be in for a real treat.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I wandered on over to the North American Beta Center on the official Warhammer Online site today, and lo and behold I was able to join the beta. As it is still a closed beta, here's what I'm permitted to disclose to you:

1) There is a Warhammer Online Beta Test currently underway.
2) I am a member of the Warhammer Online Beta Test.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

McCain-Huckabee '08?

Romney pretty much threw in the towel today, stating his concern for the nation in a time of war and the need for Republican unity as his primary reasons for doing so. This leaves us with McCain way out in front, and Huckabee nipping at his heels (though doing so better than expected).

I'm going to make this brief, as I have somewhere to be in about 20 minutes. Super Tuesday made one thing clear - McCain is not the favored Republican candidate in the south. While he did well in blue states, Republicans need traditionally red states to win general elections - states like the ones Huckabee won. Does this mean we'll be looking at a McCain-Huckabee ticket this November? Some are raising the prudence of this move. Only time will tell. More later when I have longer to post.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why The Double Standard, Rush?

On Monday, Rush Limbaugh came close to endorsing Mitt Romney among the remaining contenders for the Republican nomination. In replying to a point made by a caller, Rush stated:
I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that's Romney. The three stools or the three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives, and the fiscal conservatives.
To be fair to Rush, he has pointed out that all of the candidates running this year are lacking in some facet of conservatism. Nobody has truly embraced an entirely Reaganesque set of beliefs, with a strong record to back their talk. With that being said, however, I must pose the question to Rush in regard to his approach and discussion of Romney and Huckabee - why the double standard?

Romney is perceived as a strong fiscal conservative (in spite of his record of raising fees in Massachusetts by $700,000,000). While he certainly has the business background to calm the fears and concerns raised by the Wall Street wing of the Republican party, I would hardly go so far as to say that he "embodies" the social conservative "leg of the conservative stool." Romney is a recent convert to the pro-life camp. Video and text clippings from his past campaigns paint a very different picture on this issue than he spouts on the debate stage these days. He once noted that he would be more beneficial to the gay rights movement than Ted Kennedy. Romney has been no friend to the Second Amendment crowd either. In spite of such a weak record on moral and cultural issues, it feels as if Rush is perfectly content to take him at his word and accept his Johnny-come-lately switcheroo. Romney gets almost no negative commentary directly on the EIB Network.

Contrast this with Rush's discussion and coverage of Mike Huckabee. Yes, he raised taxes during part of his decade-plus long stint as governor of Arkansas. At the end of his term, however, the budget was balanced with a surplus in the bank. It's not as if Huckabee wasted money on dysfunctional social programs and pork. Much of the increased revenue went to such wasteful and terribly liberal things like better roads and educating children - the latter of which should be dealt with most substantially at the state level anyway. God forbid we have fewer potholes and more efficient ways of getting from point A to point B that don't require us to park our own vehicles and risk getting raped or mugged on public transportation.

Even if much of the difference in Rush's approach to these two candidates has more to do with their campaigning style than the actual issues at hand (he doesn't like Huckabee's "populist" attempts at pitting "rich" against "poor"), it still fails to explain why he's perfectly willing to accept Romney as a social conservative while writing Huckabee off as a hopeless, unredeemable tax-and-spend liberal on economic issues. There's clearly a double standard here. I, for one, am disappointed in him.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ret DPS Getting a Boost in 2.4

More specifically, the gear is being adjusted. Here's the info, from mmo-champion:

  • Items intended for Retribution Paladins have had their stats adjusted. Retribution Paladins should see an increase in dps as a result.

What this exactly means is unclear. It could mean that other sets will be brought into line with S3, so there is more than one viable Ret set in the game. At this point, we can only speculate.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Warrior Priest Masteries

Thanks to Kaziel for bringing this to my attention. I'm surprised anyone was still checking the website after 2 months, lol. From Garthilk, an administrator over at Warhammer Alliance, some news about the Warrior Priest masteries (think talent tree specializations from WoW):

Warrior Priest of Sigmar Career Masteries

The Warrior Priests worship Sigmar, the now-deified warrior who united the tribes of man and formed the Empire long ago. In honor of their legendary patron, the Warrior Priests seek to follow in Sigmar's warrior path by purifying the Empire with equal measures of prayer and might. They march into battle shouting holy scriptures even as they bring their blessed warhammers to bear in the name of their god. By proving their devotion and righteousness through valor in combat, they are rewarded with divine powers, which manifest in the form of potent healing abilities. Their presence on the front lines of battle serves as a constant inspiration to the soldiers who march in defense of the Empire.

Warrior Priest Mechanic

Sigmar is a warrior god, and his priests gain divine favor only by fighting to defend the Empire that he built. The holy symbol of Sigmar is a hammer, and the Warrior Priests have adopted the warhammer as their weapon of choice in honor of their patron. The Righteous Fury of Sigmar fills the Warrior Priest with each swing of their weapon, and this divine power can then be used to fuel their healing magic. This becomes something of both a freedom and a restriction for the Warrior Priest - since all of his magic is powered by Righteous Fury, he can throw himself wholeheartedly into melee combat and then still have resources left to heal with, but at the same time, his healing capabilities become dramatically more limited when there are no enemies in arm's reach.

Warrior Priest Masteries

Path of Salvation

The Path of Salvation focuses on divine magic, primarily healing abilities. A player who specializes in Salvation will become a much more powerful healer, although they will still need to place themselves into the front lines of a melee combat in order to build up their Righteous Fury.

Path of Grace
The Path of Grace is centered around melee attacks which inspire and bolster the Warrior Priest and his allies. A Master of Grace will be able to simultaneously wreak havoc upon his enemies with his warhammer and improve himself and his companions, making him an especially valuable player when standing side-by-side with other allies.

Path of Wrath
The Path of Wrath is focused on crippling melee attacks which weaken, hinder, and harass the player's opponents. Someone who specializes in Wrath will certainly be the most offensively-focused type of Warrior Priest, as they will be both damaging their enemies and weakening them with each swing of their warhammer.