My thoughts on gaming and some creative writing pieces
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I know I’m a little late to talk about this, but I think it’s a really big issue and I want to share my thoughts on the topic.

For anyone who may not know this yet, Mists of Pandaria will be released with no raids available. The first raid, Mogu’shan Vaults, will open up the second week of the expansion. The other two raids included in Tier 14 will be opening up four weeks later.

This has been a hot topic of discussion for the past few weeks among anyone interested in raiding. Some see it as Blizzard imposing gating once more as it did in ICC, while others see it as Blizzard telling raiders that it’s okay to take the leveling process slowly.

What this means

Without trying to add any of my thoughts to this, it simply means that there won’t be as much of a rush to hit level  cap for those interested in getting into raids. Where in past expansion raiders had to race to level cap, then grind 5-Man dungeons for gear as fast as possible, all of those players now have a week to do all of that. It will still be a little rushed, especially for anyone who wants to have as much gear as possible for the first raid lockout, but it definitely helps all of the players interested in raiding.

To any raider who plays casually but is interested in the progression race, this is an amazing thing for Blizzard to do. Not all raiders interested in the progression race have the ability to play constantly on release. Since the expansion is coming in mid September, most people will be working or back in school. Most people also don’t have the ability to take a vacation from work for the sake of the game. These are all the people that will gain from this change.

Blizzard Imposing Limitations

As with any big change that Blizzard makes, many people have come out as very opposed to this change. A lot of people are saying that Blizzard is artificially controlling progression. The last time that something like this was done was with ICC where Blizzard released bosses by wings, only releasing a set of 3 or four bosses at a time. To make that worse, they also added in limited attempts for every raid lockout to slow down progression even further. This was a very poor way of slowing down progression and ended up being more of a headache for the top guilds, because they went as far as having a raid of alts to practice content with before attempting it on their mains.

Blizzard may have been seeking to make the content longer lived because it would be the main content for so long, but most of the top end raiders felt there were lulls with the gating when they could have been working on later wings. They wanted to, and were able to continue progressing, but were forced to sit on their hands while bosses that were ready were left in the waiting.

This is far from what was done then though.

The Pros 


First of all, this seems to be more aimed at the people who cannot play as much yet want to raid. It evens the playing ground for the progression race so that most people will start at the same time. The first tier of past expansions has included to races. The first was the race to max level and to get the best gear that was possible right out of the gate. As soon as a guild could get a raid together, the next step would be to get into raids as quickly as possible. Raiders in the more “hardcore” progression guilds almost had to take breaks from their real lives to be able to stay competitive at the beginning of an expansion.

I think the second big pro to the gating that is going to happen is that the instances are going to be released separately. In total, counting Heroic modes, there are over 30 bosses in Tier 14. I think that trying to tackle all of that at once would lead to many raiders getting burnt out. Without the staggered releases, raiders would have had to max level cap, max reputations, raid LFR, and max Valor weekly all while raiding through three instances ever single week. With this staggering, it cuts down the entry to the tier dramatically, and it also makes it so that at some point the progression oriented raiders can cut Mogu’Shan Vaults entirely from their schedule.

I personally think that this change is amazing and appreciate that Blizzard is leveling the raiding race. I will still be playing a lot at release, but I wont feel forced into doing quite as much right from the get go.

I’d like to ask what others think about the staggered raids. Do you think this is a good change for the raiding scene? Or is Blizzard once again imposing limits on its player base?

 

This past week my guild decided to run Blackwing Descent on the Beta realms to get some experience on the changes coming in Mists. This gave me a pretty good opportunity to test out the healing on Beta with a group of players that I feel comfortable with.
Before I get into talking about how healing felt, keep in mind that this was on Beta and many of us, myself included, were playing without many of the add ons that were used to. I know I personally didn’t realize that I didn’t have Seal of Insight up until part way through Magmaw.  Since this was all done at level 85,  you wont see use of any of the level 90 talents or 86+ abilities. For reference, we all limited ourselves to a 372 item level because of the greens at that level that were available in the Valley of the Four Winds.

Here is the log for anyone who wants to look it over.

Mana Regen

One of the main things I was interested going into this raid was how my mana felt throughout the duration of the run. I was also very interested in testing out the Glyph of Illumination.

I read this post (Also where I got the graph, so credit for it goes to Joe Ego) over on Leveling Holy which broke down mana regen with and without the glyph.

Comparison done with 8 Shocks per minute and 35% crit.

He also does a really good job of breaking down regen in general, so I’d advise you to read his whole post if you’re interested in what our regen will look like come MoP.

Since I was level 85 for my test of the glyph, the spirit values he uses are far out of reach. I was running with 2,400 Spirit and 39%  Holy Shock Crit which would produce different outputs.

Throughout every boss fight my mana regen felt very good. I never felt like I was running low and was able to cast more expensive spells when necessary. That said, I did try to avoid casting the expensive spells where ever I could. Looking through the logs, I only use Divine Light on Atramedes and Chimaeron and I didn’t cast Flash of Light once throughout the run. In retrospect, I probably should have casted those spells more to purposely push my mana, but I didn’t think of it during the run.

My feeling of comfort in regen may have been due to not casting these expensive spells because they weren’t needed, but I can’t be sure of that. I think that the gear we went with was far too high level, even without my using enchants or gem sockets, for the content we were doing. We will be running Firelands on Beta this week though, so I will come back to the topic of regen after that.

Talents

For this run I stuck to using Eternal Flame, Unbreakable Spirit, and Holy Avenger. I didn’t make much use of Unbreakable Spirit or Holy Avenger though, as the need for cooldowns didn’t come up much at all.

As far as Eternal Flame (EF) goes, I was very impressed with this spell. It was my second strongest source of healing behind Illuminated Healing for every boss except Atramedes. This leaves it as my strongest casted heal for all of those fights, and likely the biggest source of Illuminated Healing and Beacon procs. I didn’t have a timer for it either, so it may have fallen off entirely at times or gotten overwritten prematurely which would both cut down on its healing. Any fight that included a decent amount of tank damage made great use of this spell. While on certain fights I found myself having to decide between Light of Dawn or EF, I never felt constricted into picking one over the other. I tried my best to keep EF up on the tank I didn’t have Beaconed and then use Holy Power as needed, and I felt very comfortable with the use of Holy Power I had.

As much as I thought Sacred Shield would be the go to talent in this tier, EF is an extremely strong spell.
There are situations where I see it falling behind though: any fight with a large amount of AoE damage or more group damage than tank damage is going to call for casting more LoD and will leave little room for EF. I already think that H Will of the Emperor, the last boss in the Mogu’shan Vaults, is going to be one of these fights. I may be wrong, but I simply don’t see how I will be able to spend Holy Power on a single target heal for a fight I know is going to have intense raid damage.

I also think that Sacred Shield will become much stronger as the expansion progresses due to its huge scaling. I know that I’m hoping this is the case as I don’t want to have a talent tier with a definitive choice no matter what the circumstance.

Overall

This run was very much meant to be more for playing with our new toys and having fun than for serious testing of the mechanics. I think that I got some good experience with how things will work out, but we also out geared the content we were doing so the feel was far from what it will be during current content progression. Based on this test, I am very excited for Mists though. Holy seems like it’s in a very good place and every raid I participate in only helps to solidify that view.

If anyone has questions on any mechanics or abilities, leave a question in the comments and I will do my best to test and discuss the mechanics.

This is going to be a kind of long personal post where I want to talk about a little bit of self discovery. 


After reading a combination of Ambermist’s personal post on big life changes (in and out of game) and Tzufit’s post on how players have changed through Wrath and Cata, a few thoughts that have been on my mind for a while surfaced. I’ve wanted to make a response to Ambermist’s earlier post which challenged bloggers to talk about themselves a little, but I hadn’t realized what I wanted to say until I read those her own personal piece and Tzufit’s.

I mentioned in my introduction post that I am a college student going into my second year. This is my first summer break coming home from school, and looking back a year I don’t even feel like I’m the same person. Between talking to my family and  friends, I know that I’ve changed more than I could have ever imagined.
A big part of it is physical: I’ve lost a lot of weight and because of it have begun to dress in a much different way. I’m comfortable walking around in more than just baggy t-shirts and jeans. I’ve started to enjoy going clothes shopping. It’s not because I absolutely love clothes, but because to me being able to wear tighter clothing without thinking that I look fat is a huge confidence boost. It makes me feel a lot better about myself, but my appearance isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

My first Semester of college: Learning to let go

Last summer, as I prepared to leave home for school, I felt that I was confident in everything I wanted to do. At the time I a few months into my first relationship and enjoying my two favorite hobbies. My hobbies were so great to me because I had two groups of people that were like family to me: my swim team and my raid team. Every morning and afternoon I’d go swim, every night I’d play WoW, and every other ounce of free time I got went to my girlfriend. I was extremely happy with everything and excited for school. I figured school would be four years to continue the same activities, but none of it lasted more than a semester.

One by one the three staples of my life began to crumble away. When I realized just how much work school, raiding, keeping a long distance relationship, and swimming for a college team would be, I realized I had to let go of something. I quit raiding within my first three weeks. It was hard for me, but I told myself it was for the best. I had to prioritize my life and make sure that I did what I had to. Video games weren’t as important as everything else, so I stopped playing thinking that everything would get better.

Despite my initial loss to time, I realized that I would have to give up more of what I thought made me who I was. My new team quickly became another family for me. I loved spending time with them, in and out of the pool. They were all amazing people that made the transition to school so much easier, but they were competing for time with my relationship. I didn’t know how to handle the situation. This was the first relationship I’d ever had, and I thought that it was right to give her as much time as I could. Eventually I felt the need to pick between her and swimming. I picked her, and I was left with nothing in my life but school and my relationship.

The next few months became sharing my time between my relationship and school. If I wasn’t in class or studying, I was talking to her. I didn’t spend much time with my friends because I felt the need to spend all my time keeping up my relationship. If I strayed from that, I ended up in a situation where I had to ask for forgiveness for putting other people above the relationship. It was extremely unhealthy, I realize that now, but at the time I was too afraid to move away from it. It was the only remnant of my life before school that I had, and I wanted so dearly to hold onto it. Without it I wouldn’t know who I was, I’d have nothing to be passionate about. My first semester of college ended on that note: I felt trapped in a vortex where I couldn’t feel anything but the single tie to my past life through this relationship.

I was scared. I was extremely scared to lose that tie to what I thought was me. I tried so hard to hold on to it. Yet as I fought to keep it, I slowly realized that what I held onto as a lifeline was actually dragging me down, so I cut it.
It wasn’t quick. It was drawn out and painful. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much over a single person ever before, but once it was over I felt that I could breathe again.

My second semester: Getting out there

My second semester of college was full of so much freedom. I spent time with people who’d previously been strangers living upstairs. I made more friends in the matter of a month that I had all through high school. I spent most afternoons trying out new things that I’d never imagined myself doing. Although I also picked up raiding again somewhere in my second semester, I made time to go out and talk to all of the amazing people living around me. I was thrown completely out of my comfort zone, but I was truly happy for the first time in months.

One of the most personally surprising things that I did was pick up dancing. I joined the ballroom club on a, “Why not?” whim, but it became one of the things I did because I loved it more and more every time. I wont lie: it helped my interest that I got to meet some beautiful women, but that wasn’t what kept me coming back. It felt amazing to get past my awkwardness and dance with some amazing people. The leaders of the club who taught the lessons were all extremely nice and funny. They were quirky and lovable in a way that made me feel at home while completely questioning my presence on a dance floor at the same time. Getting new moves down gave me confidence that I really needed at the time, and having a small group of friends to dance with every few nights gave me something to look forward to.

In the same manner, Quidditch gave me something to be passionate about. I went out three days a week to practice and work out, but it wasn’t as serious as swimming had been. Everyone on the team was insane in their own personal way (I mean, they all run around on brooms). Practices weren’t all about becoming better, they were also extremely fun and surprising. Some practices were entirely meant to be fun, which had never happened with swimming. I found myself going out to have fun, but still found someone to push my competitive nature to work out. Between the senior who I had personal running competitions with and the crazy antics that the team thought up, I couldn’t help but feel that the team was a perfect place for me.

Between Quidditch and dance, I gained enough confidence and joy to be able to grow. I moved past feeling like I had to establish my happiness. I was certainly happy, and I finally started to take in the broad environment of experiences that my school had to offer.

I think that the biggest thing that came from that freedom and happiness was finally being able to spend time with new people and get to know them all. I met people who came from entirely different backgrounds than I did. It was astounding how many different experiences people had, and I loved hearing about what it was like for others growing up. There were international students and people from all corners of the US, and all of their different opinions helped me grow to accept a plethora of different views and opinions.

Reminiscing on my first year

This is me, after that first year of school

I was unsure as to whether I wanted to put a picture of myself up or not, but I think after all that talking about myself it’s warranted to do so.

Now that I’m home and I’ve been able to think about it all, I’m glad that things happened the way they did. It sucks to have lost so much and gone through so much pain at the beginning, but I think that everything was worth it. I’m happy again, but now there’s more than just happiness. I have a broader understanding of life, and I understand that things will change. I know I’m still young and that everything I’m slowly learning may seem like teen angst, but I guess dealing with this is a part of getting to be that adult that I will be some day.
As of now, I’m just excited to experience it all.

The newest Beta Patch has brought a huge amount of changes to Holy Paladins, both large and small, that carry quite a few playstyle changes with them. I was going to wait until I could get on Beta to test the changes, but I’ve been having issues with the download and thought (I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post. My updated Beta hasn’t finished downloading so I haven’t had a chance to get any pretty pictures to share.)

Here are the changes for Paladins and the link to the full post of changes on MMO:

 Paladin 

Talents

  • Divine Purpose now has a 20% chance to proc, down from 15%.
  • Eternal Flame was reworked: Consumes up to 3 Holy Power to place a protective Holy flame on a friendly target, which heals them for (4,260 + 37.7% of SP) and an additional (1,393 + 16.0% of SP) every 3 sec for 30 sec. Healing increased per charge Holy Power. Replaces Word of Glory.
  • Execution Sentence healing reduced by 10%.
  • Hand of Purity now has a 40 yd range, up from 30.
  • Holy Prism now costs 5.4% of Base Mana, down from 6%. Healing and damage reduced by 10%.
  • Sacred Shield no longer has a mana cost. Now has a 6 sec cooldown.

Holy

Retribution

  • Sword of Light Increases the damage you deal with two-handed melee weapons by 20%, down from 25%.

Major Glyphs

 

Healing Nerfs and 10% Cast Speed

The main change that I noticed was the slight healing and mana cost decreases that were made to all of our healing spells. These combined with the 10% cast speed bonus that was added to Seal of Insight seem to have been aimed at giving us a quality of life change. The amout of heal per second and amount of heal per mana seem to be just about the same as they were before the changes, but now our cast times are faster. This fixes the issue of long cast times that many people on forums were complaining about. It theoretically should leave us right where we were though. The nerfs are not meant to bring down our healing, so don’t run to the hills fearing the falling sky.

Divine Favor

IT’S BACK! IT’S BACK! IT’S BACK!
In case that doesn’t make it clear enough… We now have Divine Favor back on Beta. It works the exact same way that it does on live, although the glyph to increase its duration is gone. Apparently Blizzard’s intent with removing this had been to have less cooldowns for us so that we didn’t spend so much time worrying about them, but they have given it back to us. As far as I can tell this is just a straight buff. The nerfs to our (Non-Talent) spells seem to have been balanced around the buff to Seal of Insight, so this seems to be a lone change. I personally thought that the Seal of Insight buff was their response to casting speed issues and that Divine Favor would be left out altogether, but now that we have it back I hope that there are no more nerfs incurred because of it.
This change also leaves us in a place where, assuming that you take the Holy Avenger talent, we have 3 short cooldown and 2 long cooldown throughput abilities to use.

Talents and Playstyle

A common complaint that I’ve seen on forums recently has been an issue (that should have been fixed with this beta patch) that made Selfless Healer (SH) and using Judgement on cooldown mandatory. People on both sides of this issue seemed to think that playstyle should support what they wanted. These are the two main arguments that I saw regarding Judging and supporting points:

  • Certain people argued that Judging effectively has been a part of the Holy Paladin playstyle for so long that it shouldn’t be removed. It added an amount of skill that was necessary to be a good Holy Paladin. If you weren’t good enough to be able to balance Judging with Healing, then you didn’t deserve to do as well as the players who could effectively Judge and heal. With the removal of this, Holy has become a much simpler and the skill cap for it has been lowered significantly.
  • Others argued that Selfless Healer being stronger than the other options made Holy into a very cooldown obsessed class. Assuming that we HAVE to take SH, we would have to work around two short cooldown spells, Holy Shock and Judgement, to build resources for our healing spells. In this manner we’d run into the same issue that Resto druids were having on the Beta where we simply have so much to keep track of that we run the possibility of not being able to use our other spells. This situation would also leave us in a very bad place if we were balanced around having those instant free heals through resource building, and then found ourselves in a situation where we did not have the free global cooldowns to use Judgement.

I think that there is a lot of merit to both of these thoughts, but I want to once again remind people that the talents are supposed to allow choice in playstyle. With this patch, Blizzard made it clear that they want to make sure the talents are even in viability. Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield have both been buffed, while Selfless Healer had a nerf through the loss of the Ascetic Crusader glyph which made Judgement a free to cast spell.

I think that all of the talents are just about even now, but there is still a playstyle and situational choice that comes into choosing which spell you want to use. If you  have the time, and interestest, to use judgement, then SH is a clear choice that will serve as a mana conservation ability. On a fight with strict tank damage, you may want to take Eternal Flame to keep a HoT running on each tank. If you don’t have the time to Judge or the ability to spend Holy Power on a single target heal, using Sacred Shield may be the best option.

What I want to make clear here, is that each talent is going to have it’s niche. Each talent is going to seem completely amazing in some situations and rather silly in others. As far as I’ve seen, Blizzard has done an amazing job at making sure that we are going to be utilizing their talents without falling into the rut of “best.” If you played Diablo at all, expect these talents to work just like the abilities in that game. You may be switching constantly, and in my opinion that only means that Blizzard managed to do exactly what they envisioned.


Its done! This video is done! I spent the better part of my Saturday doing it, but I managed to get a video together that I am pretty happy about. It’s nothing extremely fancy, but I talked about what I wanted to discuss in video form! I apologize if I am abusing exclamation marks, but I’m just really happy that this came together!

I don’t really have much experience with videos and things like this, so if you notice that I made a mistake could you please comment and leave me some advice on how to make better videos in the future? I’d really appreciate it!

Now then, I want to get serious for a bit and just write up what I talk about in the video.

I’ve said a few times that Holy Prism is very interesting and that it’s definitely earned its place as my favorite of the level 90 Paladin talents, but I think I need to talk about why a little bit more. Most importantly, the spell gives you the option to use it as a single target heal or an AoE heal. Along with the amount of choice that the spell presents, it gives us the ability to heal and do some damage at the same time. Whether you’re using it as a single target heal or an AoE heal, it will have damage paired with it.

Light’s Hammer also has that ability to do healing and damage simultaneously, but it is strictly an AoE spell. The fact that it doesn’t have that same choice attached to it makes me prefer Holy Prism, but this spell still fills the same role.

The reason that I think that these spells, with healing and damage attached on one spell, are important is because they allow us to do damage without hindering our healing. In a tight situation, you can still use these spells and help with damage without the risk of letting someone die. While it may not seem extremely important to be able to do damage as a healer, I think that in challenge modes we will be expected to be able to do damage and keep the group alive.

Challenge modes present an interesting way of playing where everyone is being pushed to their limits to be able to make the Gold time standards. In this situation, a healer who can also do some damage is going to be worth much more than one who can’t. This allows for Holy Prism and Light’s Hammer to shine if used properly. These spells are going to be great during normal gameplay, but I think that if mastered they will proved to be invaluable in the Challenge Mode setting.


So this is extremely basic and all I had to do was string together Fraps footage I got from Beta, but it’s the first video I’ve ever made and uploaded. I’m getting a very odd sense of accomplishment from this video despite the fact that I messed up the only thing I really had to do by making the intro screen (which was just text) too long. I’m working on another video that I want to put up this weekend, and I promise that video will have much more work put into it!

I worked on fixing videos all weekend to add to this post, but unfortunately I’m not very good with editing. I decided to give up on the video and just put this up without one. I’ll work on the editing skills and add some videos after today, but for now I just want to talk about raids on the Beta.

Raid testing opened up last week and Blizzard has been testing bosses every few days. After doing most of the raid testing I can say that I’m really happy with where paladins are on Beta. I’ve heard quite a few complaints, some of which I share, but I don’t think that the class is in as bad a place as so many people seem to think.  I will say that Monks are obviously in a far better place than all the other healers, but Ghostcrawler has stated that they will be fixed at some point. He also stated that everyone else is about where they should be. This should be taken as people to understand that the sky isn’t falling and we aren’t going to be bad compared to the other healers. Yes, there are issues, but they will get fixed.

The Good

Our toolbox is very varied and has a lot of strong tools to make use of. I found myself changing my talents a lot once I got a feel for the fights because certain talents were much more suited to the encounters than others. Light’s Prism is definitely a winner in the new talent system and I think will find a lot of use for AoE healing in MoP. I did switch other talents sometimes on every new fight. There is no longer a cookie cutter spec or “right” choice as far as talents go. When I healed with another Holy Paladin he was using almost entirely different talents. The choice with talents does come down to what you personally feel is best, and that makes the game so much more interesting.

Single target healing is still just as strong as it has been. Holy Light is usually enough for damage on individual targets, but Divine Light and Flask of Light still find a lot of use when the damage calls for it. On top of that, Holy Shock and Light’s Prism make for very strong spells that I find myself relying on to conserve mana where I can. Our strong single target combined with Beacon also keeps us as the strongest where damage is limited to only a few people.

Speaking of Beacon, the spell is amazing in AoE situations. Since it now transfers heals from both Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn, Beacon transfers a huge amount of healing during AoE phases. I never found myself having to toss a heal directly at the tank if I was casting Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn. The synergy between all of our spells is absolutely amazing and makes for a very fluid healing style that easily goes from single target to multi target, but there are definitely things that feel clunky and need some work.

The Bad

I’ve heard it in a few places and raiding has made it all too clear that our mana regen is not very strong. Even casting just a few of our hard hitting spells leaves our mana pool gasping for breath. I have been very conscious of my mana and tried to go with as much spirit as possible, but I still feel that our regen is very constricting on our heals. I am forced to stay away from Holy Radiance for the most part and to use Divine Light and Flash of Light very sparingly.

The issue with longevity also leads me to think that Holy Power isn’t building as quickly as it could be. Even with the limit raised to 5, in heavy AoE damage situations I find myself casting to build more Holy Power for more Light of Dawns and not really caring about the spells I cast to get there. Its also very clunky that Word of Glory isn’t worth the Holy Power because the Beacon transfers from Light of Dawn far outdo WoG. I hope that Light of Dawn doesn’t get nerfed because of this, but it is clear that our Holy Power system needs some work.

Our AoE healing isn’t as strong as I first though it was. Holy Radiance was buffed slightly, but it’s not strong enough for heavy AoE. To make that worse, it cant be used consecutively for fear of running out of mana very quickly. Although Light of Dawn was made to be much more powerful that it is on live, it’s not constantly available. These two issues make AoE healing quite a strain on either the groups survivability or our longevity.

Final Thoughts

I think that as of now the class seems to be well off. The mana issue isn’t as bad as many people make it out to be, but it is very limiting when damage gets out of hand. Again, I don’t think any of the issues we have are signs that the world is ending as we know it. There are still changes that can be made if it is seen that we aren’t where we should be for any reason.

This post is going to be very personal and include some spoilers on an MoP quest. If you don’t want to read that kind of thing, I’m finishing up a post talking about my experience with the raids on Beta so far that I will probably put up on Saturday.

I want to start by saying that the past week has been stressful in a few ways for me. I recently found out that my grandmother is very sick and may be passing away soon. I also found out that a friend of mine has been told his cancer has gotten out of hand. Needless to say, death has been on my mind.

When it really got me down to think about both of these people in my life too much, I took to the Beta to do a few quests and try to distract myself. Most of the quests seemed like the same old gather this or kill this. I didn’t think much of a set of quests that had me getting some revenge for a village that had been destroyed. It’s normal for the game to include a lot of death and destruction, after all it is World of Warcraft. When I finished the set I found a very surprising quest called “A Funeral.”

The Pandaren quest giver wanted to hold a funeral for all those in the village that had passed away. Instead of brushing their deaths under the carpet and making it seem like your murder of their murderers made everything perfect, he made it clear that those who had died should be honored. This in itself was odd, but the quest giver then gave a speech at the graveyard that completely hit me off guard.

You see, what you have done is a tribute to the truthe we Pandaren hold most dear. None of us approaches our death with joy – but neither should we feel feer, nor anger, nor doubt. Though we may die, from our passing blossoms new life. This is the truth that we live, work, and die for. Do you see? From their graves, trees grow. May these trees always stand for the sacrifice they made, and the honor you have done them.

I can’t believe that a game gave me advice on how to deal with death, but it told me what I needed to hear. At a time when I was too upset about the thought of death to really think about anything else, this game told me to cheer up. It may just be a fictional character, but he was able to make me feel better nonetheless.

I think that sometimes I forget that this game is creating its own world. As cartoony or silly as it may seem at times, the game has some very serious moments. The game does come full circle to touch on the serious aspects of life that it includes. While I think that many people may just take those as another quest, for me they are very powerful moments that make the game seem alive.

If anyone would like to share, I’d love to hear about serious moments or life lessons in the game that others have found.

Two things related to the Beta caught my attention this week. The first is a post by Ghostcrawler where he talks about the current state of Holy Paladins on the Beta, the second is a new Patch for the Beta that makes some changes to a few of our talents. I’ll start by talking about the talent changes since there’s not as much to talk about there.

The post with the full list of changes can be found on MMO Champion.

Talents

  • Clemency When activated, immediately finishes the cooldown on your Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Salvation. Instant. 5 min cooldown. You can use Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Salvation twice each before incurring their cooldowns.
  • Sacred Shield The shield also absorbs (5,879 + 52% 78% of SPH) damage when the target takes damage, but no more than once every 6 sec. 18% 27% of Base Mana.
  • Sanctified Wrath You gain Avenging Wrath lasts 50% longer and grants more frequent access to one of your abilities during Avenging Wrath. while it lasts. Holy Holy Shock has no cooldown. Holy Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 50%. Protection Judgment has no cooldown. Protection Reduces the cooldown of Judgment by 50%.Retribution Hammer of Wrath has no cooldown. Retribution Reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Wrath by 50%.
Holy

  • Holy Radiance Imbues a friendly target with radiant energy, healing that target for (4,196 + 37.2% 50.0% of SP) and all allies within 10 yards for 50% of that amount.
  • Holy Shock Holy Shock has a 25% chance to be a critical strike.
As far as the changes to the talents go:
 
The change to Sacred shield is minor and is just a number tweak that will affect how the spell scales with our spell power. 
 
The changes to Clemency and Sanctified Wrath are a little more significant.

Clemency is no longer a paladin’s version of Preparation. It now makes it so that you an use all of the abilities listed twice before their cooldown’s are incurred. This is a nice change that will work to give us some choice in how our utility abilities will be affected by this talent. If you need two or more of these spells to be used multiple times in quick succession, you may have had to give up your bonus on one of them before due to the fact that the renewed cooldowns came at the use of Clemency. Now that they are separate, you can use the bonus for each spell independent of all the other spells. This makes the talent a little more appealing as far as a utility standpoint goes. If aggro is an issue, your dps will appreciate you being able to bring to Salvations early in a fight. 

 
Sanctified Wrath now increases the duration of Avenging Wrath, putting it up a 30 second duration, but it also only reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 50%. If you cast Holy Shock on cooldown that  means you can get 10 Holy Power just from this spell. That is a bit of a nerf as far as Holy Power goes as before you could gain a possible 15 if used constantly while spending on finishers. I think this may hurt this talents ability to help in high damage movement situations, but it should still prove very powerful because of the increased duration. I’ll have to play with this once it’s implemented to have a final opinion on it. 
 
The change to Holy Radiance will be another number tweaking change. It is likely due to many people saying that they felt the spell was nerfed far too much. It may not be a huge change, but I will gladly take a buff. 
If I understand the change to Holy Shock properly, it will add 25% crit to the spell. This is a very welcome change that will help bring the spell closer to what it is on live. Not a huge change, but it should help quite a bit with passive throughput. 
Now to Ghostcrawler’s post on our current place in Beta:
A few things:It’s hard just to compare heal costs and numbers without looking at the whole package. Paladin heals tend to be expensive because so much of their healing costs no mana. Likewise, we don’t balance around perfect Beacon transference, but you can’t ignore it either.If you look at how much paladins actually heal in a fight though, it should be pretty competitive with the other healers. I know that’s not easy to look at right now on beta, but it will get easier once A) raids are open, B) we enable mods again, C) more theorycrafters conclude that we aren’t fiddling with numbers so much so that their time isn’t being wasted. (We aren’t fiddling with numbers nearly so much, so maybe that will encourage some theorycrafters).

Remember though, that each healer is different. Example: Resto shaman look great on fights where everyone can cluster for Healing Rain and Chain Heal and any time everyone stays very wounded for very long.

Because paladins have so many mana-free heals, they actually can’t subsist on fumes as long as other healers. If every healer decided just to cast their Holy Light equivalent and nothing else, paladins would go out of mana faster. Now there shouldn’t be any situations where you really heal like that.

Two concerns that I think warrant us looking at further are the healing of Holy Radiance and the crit chance of Holy Shock. We nerfed Holy Radiance so that Light of Dawn can be stronger — it feels weird when the “finisher” is puny compared to the “builder.” On the other hand, healers don’t always have the luxury to wait for the finisher before doing some heavy healing. We’ve heard a lot of feedback that Holy Radiance is a little weak, so we’ll take a look at it.

As far as Holy Shock goes, it did suffer from the pruning of many of the passive talents and glyphs that gave it such a high crit rate. In a vacuum, it doesn’t need a high crit chance. It is an instant, relatively cheap heal that delivers on Holy Power. You’re going to want to push it. But we agree that Infusion of Light is intended to help mix up what heals you cast and that it needs to proc at a reasonable rate.

I’ll ignore what he has to say about Holy Radiance and Holy Shock as the new Beta patch will work to fix those issues. The other things he says are more interesting and hold a lot of weight to the design stance that they are taking for Holy Paladins. I’ve heard a few complaints on forums from people saying that they feel our class has been overly nerfed and while our mana costs are too high. I think that what Ghostcrawler is saying makes a lot of sense though. Many of our spells don’t cost mana, and our if specced properly we have at least one cooldown that increases Holy Power gain. In a sense, that makes those cooldowns into longevity cooldowns because we aren’t using as much mana as we would be without them. 
Our style is also unique because if you have Beacon on someone, as you always should, your spells aren’t healing just one person. You’re direct heals are healing two targets, and a situation where two targets are taking moderate to high damage is also a situation where we shine compared to other healers. On top of that I think it’s also very important to remember that the current situation that people are testing is just 5 mans. It may in fact turn out that we are weaker in 5 mans, but we haven’t yet seen how we will perform in raids. I will wait to pass final judgement on our situation compared to other healers until we can get into raids with some sort of add on to give us real numbers compared to other healers. 

I finally did it. I sucked it up and leveled to 90, and it was glorious.

Before I get to talking about the talents, I just want to say that I loved the leveling experience. Even though I rushed a lot of it: the quests were interesting, the zones are beautiful, and playing through the game just feels fun again. I felt so immersed in the game that it didn’t feel like I spent hours getting up to cap… even though I did.

Once I did get to cap the first thing I did was to run a series of Heroic dungeons. They didn’t feel very challenging, but that may be in part because I’m wearing all the 483 PvP gear. They did give me a chance to test out all the new talents though. All three of them were very interesting to play with, although one proved much more useful than I initially gave it credit for.

Execution Sentence

A hammer slowly falls from the sky, causingholy spell power*4566/1000+26.72716306*375 healing over 10 sec. This healing is dealt slowly at first and increases over time, culminating in a final burst of healing.

I will say that this was my least favorite of the talents. It is a very nice, albeit short, HoT, but Paladin’s already have strong single target healing and Beacon to allow us to have some heals going towards the tank while we heal the rest of the group. It serves the purpose of a extra healing on the tank while you heal other targets or during a damage heavy phase, but I felt that if fell short compared to the other spells. This will likely be my last choice from these talents unless the situation strictly calls for having an extra single target cooldown

Light’s Hammer

Hurl a Light-infused hammer into the ground, where it will blast a 10 yard area with Arcing Light for (16 sec.5) sec.

Arcing Light
Deals 2513 to 3071 (+ 24.7% of SpellPower) Holy damage to enemies within the area and2513 to 3071 (+ 24.7% of SpellPower) healing to allies within the area every 2 sec.

I’m gonna start here by saying that I love this spells animation. It’s just so cool to me to toss a hammer on the ground and have it spurt out lightning. I feel like I’m Thor.
This spell worked exactly like I expected it to, and looked amazing while doing it. Toss it down when you need some AoE healing and it will do  some very decent healing while it’s down. It has a huge radius and ticks for a decent amount. It definitely isn’t a powerhouse of a heal, but it does help alleviate some of that AoE pressure.

Holy Prism

Sends a beam of light toward a target, turning them into a prism for Holy energy.

If an enemy is the prism, they take 11172 to 13654 (+ 109.8% of SpellPower) Holy damage and radiate 8374 to 10234 (+ 82.3% of SpellPower) healing to 5 nearby allies within 15 yards.

If an ally is the prism, they are healed for11172 to 13654 (+ 109.8% of SpellPower) and radiate 8374 to 10234 (+ 82.3% of SpellPower) Holy damage to 5 nearby enemies within 15 yards.

Surprisingly enough, this was by far my favorite of the new talents. At first glance I thought that it looked rather weak, but playing with it definitely made me love it. It’s a very interesting spell to play with in that to use it as an AoE heal you need to target an enemy. I also found it very surprising that this spell is actually really strong. I wasn’t paying attention to the damage it was doing, but its AoE heal was stronger than a 3 Holy Power Light of Dawn and its single target heal was just about the same as Holy Shock. I think what finished making this spell amazing for me was the fact that I could choose whether to use it as an AoE or single target heal. The other two spells could only do one, but this spell had a powerful single and group heal.
The main drawback it seems to have is that to utilize the AoE heal, the group has to be around the mob that you’re targeting. In cases where you wont have your raid around an enemy it wont be useful as an AoE. Other than this, I am extremely happy with the versatility that this spell provides.