Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Plate Skirt of Undead Gear Reset and Pally Balance Antics

My Paladin has a kilt that is apparently made out of plate mail. Thanks to the PVE portion of the otherwise canceled Scourge Invasion my Pally, yes, the one who managed to become Uncrushable pre-patch 3.0 despite a remarkable allergy to any instanced content whatsoever, is suddenly wearing 3/4 pieces of an epic set after getting a lucky pant drop off of a rare spawn.

Overall, it took about two hours or so to farm up enough necrotic runes to buy up the two vendor-based piece of the set, and the coveted Argent Dawn Tabard. This also means I get a palette swap of the amusing Judgment set shoulders, which have daggers mounted on them for no discernible reason; players have quipped that Pallies don't know what else to do with the things, since they aren't proficient.

Sure, I suppose the gear is only ilvl 115, but it's better than the rep-based PVP set items I was wearing in those slots, but still, this kind of extremely rapid progression is only possible the week before a gear reset. Ah well, free loot for all I suppose. Overall, the look is visually distinct enough that I may keep all of the items around, even at level 80, just because.

The State of the Ret Pally
Much has been written on the subject of recent Paladin nerfs. Rohan is better qualified to summarize than I, so the short form is that Ghostcrawler made an unfortunate remark about nerfing Retribution to the ground right before actually doing so. There are a number of thoughtful suggestions on how to get the balance right, but it appears that Blizzard simply has no idea what they're doing with this particular class' balance.

Of course, this isn't the first class that was allowed to stay massively overpowered and then abruptly nerfed during beta - Death Knights suffered the same fate a bit over a month ago. And, contrary to popular belief, Wrath is still in beta with balancing in progress and everything. The fact that they put a slightly outdated beta build on the live servers is partially due to the competition and partially due to wanting to get the worst of the stress testing done before the formal retail launch of the expansion so they can claim the expansion launch went smoothly.

(Blizzard did issue a three day time credit to NA and EU accounts for the downtime, which may or may not be enough, but it's an impressive gesture when you figure that these two regions probably contain something like 5-6 million players paying $0.50 - or more in Europe - per day. This decision may have literally cost them over $10 million.)

What is stunning is that they didn't get the nerfs out of the way BEFORE putting the build live. Like I said, I was there when a class I was playing got nerfed to the ground, but at least they got it over with in the space of two builds (around a week apart). Sure, the beta is relatively public knowledge, so there would still have been outcry, but at least they wouldn't have come off looking like they don't know what they're doing.

The sad part? I don't have the faintest idea about PVP or group content, but, as a solo player, Ret is much more interesting now than it was pre-3.0. Before, ret felt very boring to me, because it was just a question of watching your character autoattack to see if Seal of Command proced. Now, you actually get to push three separate spells (Judgment of Wisdom, Crusader Strike, and Divine Storm) as often as their cooldowns allow with zero downtime and better DPS than the old Command+autoattack routine. As Altitis puts it, the changes feel good, which would have counted for something with the community if Blizzard hadn't totally dropped the ball with balancing.

The other issue is that it no longer makes any sense to grind with any less than 33 points in Retribution (for Judgments of the Wise, which is what pays for all of the mana used in the above combo). I hope they fix this at some point, but it appears more likely that they're just going to do what Altitis feared a few weeks back: Stall til 3.1 comes out and then tell unhappy Prot/Holy specs to use their second spec slot for ret. That would be very disappointing and, therefore, par for the course.

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