WAWK: Paladin Artifacts Edition

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SPOILER ALERT

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Paladins have had fairly concrete history within Warcraft ever since the Warcraft II days where the first paladins were created by Alonsus Faol in order to combat against the Orcish Horde that decimated the southern human settlements in the First War. The first paladins of the Silver Hand were Uther the Lightbringer, Saidan Dathrohan, Tirion Fordring, Turalyon and Gavinrad the Dire, though worship of the Holy Light has since been discovered to be practiced by other races.

The dwarves followed the humans’ lead with the Order of the Silver Hand, the Blood Elves founded the Blood Knights order, originally siphoning holy power from a naaru, though now the Sunwell is purified they can use the powers from there. Draenei also have a link to the naaru spanning over 25,000 years, and their vindicators have been using the Light since. Finally, the newest sect of paladins come in the form of tauren Sunwalkers, where Aponi Brightmane discusses with Tahu Sagewind how spiritually they’ve only worshipped Mu’sha, the eye of the Earthmother representing the moon. They agreed that both An’she and Mu’sha are both sacred, so this new belief allowed tauren to draw powers from the Light in the form of both priests and paladins, like how druids are able to draw powers from the moon.

Their artifacts, The Silver Hand, Truthguard and Ashbringer, are heavily lore-focused around human and vrykul however, so while it would have been nice to see weapons with links to the other races at least they’re getting some fairly notable weapons to begin with! The Blood Knights and especially Sunwalkers are fairly new orders so are unlikely to have any special artifacts associated with them, though I’m sure the draenei vindicators likely had an artifact lost on another world that they could have used in the fight against the Legion!

Introductory Quests

Lord Maxwell Tyrosus, local badass among those at Light’s Hope Chapel urges you to talk with him once you reach Dalaran. He tells you that although the loss at the Broken Shore was devastating, that there are others with the conviction to save our home, Azeroth. Meeting with Travard of Tyr’s Guard and Orik Trueheart and telling them to meet you at Krasus’ Landing.

Once there, you meet with Tyrosus, Aponi Brightmane (the first Tauren Paladin), Vindicator Boros (one of the Draenei Triumvirate) and Lady Liadrin (leader of the Blood Knights) and you hop straight into choosing your artifact weapon! No messing around with Paladins, here!

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Holy – The Silver Hand

The Silver Hand is a famous symbol among paladins: their first organisation was the Order of the Silver Hand. It has always been a mystery among players as to why they called themselves this, and had associations with with the great titan watcher Tyr, though in Legion we now know that a secret order of paladins have been watching over Tyr’s tomb for hundreds of years. How these paladins have remained secret for so long is beyond me, though with Alonsus Faol’s interaction with Tyr’s Fall, it wouldn’t surprise me that the Paladin Order’s name had something to do with him.

However, this secret paladin order is under attack by the Twilight’s Hammer and they are appealing for help from paladins across Azeroth to aid them in their charge. Tyrosus asks that you speak with Travard, the leader of this order, to find out how to reclaim it from evil. We’re sent to find Sparks of Tyr, artifacts used by Tyr himself to store moments of history, and to do that we have to find Travard’s brother, Galford.

Galford is missing in Northrend however, but Travard mentions that a dragon called Lanigosa at Wyrmrest knew of Galford, so she is the best option we have to find him and the Spark. We find out that Galford heard of the tale between Tyr and Galakrond, and eagerly set out to find more at Galakrond’s Rest.

Flying to Galakrond’s Rest we find an abandoned campfire, and clicking on it causes a void wrath to attack you. Interesting to see the void having a part in this! A taunka spirit tells you that Galford’s mind was flooded with memories stored within the Spark, and learned more of the fight between Galakrond and Tyr, so we go down to the skeleton’s maw to find a broken sword.

Clicking on it spawns another void wrath to spawn, and the spirit returns to talk of Loken’s betrayal and how Jotun, Tyr’s friend, held off Loken’s pursuit as Tyr fled south. Flying north to find another clue, we find a broken statue and carelessly dropped note at the tip of Galakrond’s tail. The note appears to have been written by Galford, saying that he saw Jotun in the Spark, and wishes to meet with him, whereas using the statue causes the spirit to tell us that Galford rushed south to meet with Jotun to meet his doom, as it would appear the Spark did not tell him of Jotun’s curse.

We fly south to the Path of the Titans to find Galford’s broken body, before Lanigosa flies down to meet us. We tell her that Galford held the Spark, and now Jotun had killed him and taken it for himself. We get buffed by the blue and quickly defeat Jotun and receive the Spark before flying back to Dalaran.

Returning to Dalaran and speaking with Travard, he mentions he has another one of Tyr’s Sparks. Now that too many know of the tomb’s location, it must be closed forever – though first, we have a Hand to reclaim! Travard tells us to go to Dalaran’s Crater in Alterac, so when you go through the portal don’t forget to bubble! Then fly on over to Tyr’s Fall in western Tirisfal Glades.

The Twilight camp is abandoned (cleared by another class’s artifact experience) though Travard says that we must collapse the tomb and reclaim the Silver Hand before whatever evil inside stirs too much. You take a small team of NPC paladins with you to clear the tomb, and you find it’s full of masterless faceless ones! After a few quick battles, you fight against a mini-boss called G’norz the Crazed, before going into the crypt itself.

Once again, you fight through a few shadowy packs of faceless aberrations, before finally getting to the final resting place of the C’Thraxxi Zakajz and Watcher Tyr and finding the same celestial chains that hold Yogg-Saron all shattered in the tomb. Where the Old God general should be however, is a Horrific Aberration, a creature of the void. I expected this to be the final stage, but after a slightly disappointing fight, Travard says he has the Spark and has to finish the ritual to retrieve the hammer.

Going back up to the entrance of the tomb and you’re followed by more creatures of the void as well as Mordoth the Hunter. This fight was actually fairly challenging to heal as someone who’s not played Holy since WotLK, though after a certain amount of time, the ritual completes and the tomb becomes incredibly unstable. Mordoth threatens that he will see you once again, though I don’t know if that’s an empty threat or we will eventually see the void ascendant again. With Chronicle v1, I’m more interested than ever with anything to do with the Old Gods and Void!

Nevertheless, just before you escape you can take the Silver Hand, and then Travard instructs you to flee to Dalaran, where you can rendezvous with Tyrosus and begin to set up your class order hall!

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Protection – Truthguard

Protection Paladins get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to famous Paladin weapons – though it makes sense as many paladins in lore barely if ever walked around with sword and board. As with many unknown artifacts however, Truthguard appears to have heavy links to the Broken Isles in that it was the protective weapon of a vrykul champion that helped defend the titanic watcher Tyr against Loken and his faceless servants. The shield itself was created to expose Loken’s lies and turn many vrykul to Tyr’s cause, though when the latter fell, the champion migrated to Stormheim where the shield was eventually entombed within the Path of Kings.

As the Holy artifact started you with speaking with Travard, the Protection line asks that you speak with the other Paladin you rallied to Krasus’ Landing: Orik Trueheart. With the help of the tauren Sunwalkers, Tyrosus believes that we can find the ancient shield. Trueheart explains what the shield is, and Tahu Sagewind explains that he has the ability to commune with the long departed champion. We just have to find the final resting place of a vrykul named Gorvold at Shield Hill in the Howling Fjord, in order to find clues as to where to find Truthguard.

After a short trip to Howling Fjord, you find Trueheart and Sagewind waiting for you there. Trueheart tells you to speak with Sagewind to begin the ritual, though suggests that you can read the saga for yourself to understand what’s going on and to fill in some details about the Shield Seeker, Gorvold. In short, the vrykul learned of the powerful ancient artifact and scoured Northrend for it, though eventually he learned that the next clue would bring him south.

He found stunted vrykul (known to us as humans) worshipping and avoiding the site of Tyr’s Fall. From the ruins he found that the trail did not end there, and Tyr’s champion moved on. No one knows where, but Gorvold followed this trail with reckless abandon, eventually falling in battle and taking his secrets to his grave.

Sagewind explains that he needs more time to prepare for the ritual, and you have to go find the correct grave where Gorvold eternally sleeps. Once you do (hint: it’s the one at the back) Sagewind communes with the vrykul and finds out that he went to Stormheim and found the shrine to Tyr’s champion but was denied entry multiple times. In his disgrace, he returned to Northrend and sought to wash his failure in the blood of others.

When you return to Dalaran, you find out that one of the warrior’s artifact scenarios involves that very tomb, but never entered the shrine itself. You then journey to Shield’s Rest with Cato and Trueheart to find the tomb guarded by a storm dragon and its rider. Avoiding void zones on the ground and using the spears that spawn on them on the pair makes it a short fight, and you are granted entry to the tomb.

You find out that Yrgrim, mentioned in the saga in Howling Fjord, was the champion after all, and a runestone explains that he journeyed to Stormheim in order to find someone worthy to pass on his armaments. Passing through the windy corridor and dispatching the windshapers, you find the next runestone explaining that Yrgrim constructed an arena to test any potential successors of his weapons. All failed, so he created the shrine with powerful wards that would burn those who tried to open it with cleansing flame. Only those strong of will and pure of heart would be able to hold back the flames.

Luckily we’re a paladin. We’re good at that will and heart stuff. But to be safe, we have to bubble through the flames anyway because Cato refuses to heal you through it.

Entering the shrine you find Yrgrim, resolute and patient. You find that he never succumbed to the curse of flesh, and you prepare for his trial. All it involves is a fight with him and Runeshaper Griselda, making sure to stun or otherwise CC any special ability, and interrupting what you can. Use AoE to clear the ice, and it won’t take long to defeat Tyr’s champion. Collect Truthguard, and make your way back to Dalaran to create your class hall!

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Retribution – Ashbringer

As one of the more famous weapons in WoW, Retribution Paladins definitely get the big stick when it comes to awesome weapons. Although its incarnation began in WoW itself instead of the RTS, it’s definitely one that players have been wanting to wield since legendaries were first introduced into the game.

You can see the beginnings of Ashbringer in the Escape from Durnholde dungeon if you decide to go sightseeing in Southshore, where a dark crystal was infused with Light to such an extent that any undead that came near it turned to ash. King Magni Bronzebeard harnessed this crystal’s energies and forged a sword to use the crystal as a weapon against the unliving to enact vengeance for his brother Muradin, who he thought was killed by the Scourge.

The weapon passed many hands, beginning with Highlord Alexandros Mograine before his son Renault betrayed and killed him with the blade. From then, the Ashbringer was corrupted and stayed in the now death knight Alexandros Mograine’s hands until Darion, his youngest son, killed him in Naxxramas. To release his father’s soul from the blade, Darion plunged the sword into his own heart, freeing his father but turning himself into a death knight. Eventually, the Lich King turned his focus on Light’s Hope Chapel and sent Darion and a number of death knights on a suicide mission to bring Tirion Fordring out.

The plan succeeded, but what the Lich King didn’t anticipate was Darion betraying him and relinquishing Ashbringer to Fordring, once again purifying the blade for the use of the Light. The blade would only leave Tirion’s hands briefly in Howling Fjord when he traveled on his crusade against the Lich King, but it was only his death in the battle of the Broken Shore that the blade became lost, and it’s up to us to find it!

It’s not as simple as returning to the site where Tirion fell however, so we must travel to Uther’s tomb in the Plaguelands to get answers for finding the blade. After flying to the tomb you find that after the death of Fordring, the dead around Uther’s tomb have become restless. While Tyrosus prepares the ceremony to commune with the Lightbringer, you have to exorcise spirits and purify graveyards around the tomb.

When you are done, Tyrosus is ready for the ceremony. You find out that Tirion still lives! Barely, but he still lives on the Broken Shore. After getting reinforcements from Light’s Hope Chapel, you fly to the Broken Shore to reclaim Tirion and the Ashbringer. On the shores as you land, you lead the paladins into an epic starting battle that leads to almost all of them falling, other than yourself and Tyrosus.

While he signals for hippogryph riders to take the fallen back to Light’s Hope, you forge on  through the felfire to kill Jailer Zerus. You find Zerus after a few more demons and he’s attempting to break Fordring’s spirit and turn him to the Legion’s side. Quickly dispatching him, Tyrosus returns again to try and take Tirion out of his fel prison, and you venture on into a small cave known as the Lost Temple to try and retrieve Ashbringer.

After killing a few more demons, Balnazzar taunts you to claim the Ashbringer, and when you do Balnazzar appears and attempts to turn you into an ally of the Legion. He forces you to kneel, but then Tirion’s voice whispers in your mind an echo of the Lich King fight “Give me the strength… to shatter these bonds…” and you are able to release yourself from Balnazzar’s control. After a short fight, Tyrosus comes in to explain that Fordring called for you by name.

Once you get outside, you find Fordring on his last breaths, telling you to become the Ashbringer and to stop the Legion before his last light fades. It’s time for you to return to Light’s Hope and to create your order hall underneath the Chapel.

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Active Mitigation into Active Regeneration

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So these details have been out a little while now, meaning this article is largely going to be about my views on the matter now they’ve been out for some time, and what could happen in the future as a result from this, instead of a general news post with my initial reactions to the changes.

What I’m talking about is the changes healers are seeing to their mana regeneration going into 6.0 and beyond. Please note that at the time of writing this article, Warlords of Draenor is in its alpha stages, with changes happening left, right and center, so chances are details in this article are likely to change. It didn’t take long for Blizzard to re-implement Innervate for example, unless it was their plan all along to completely scrap it and rebuild it from new with a new spell ID.

The full details of the changes to healers’ mana regeneration can be found here, but I’ll list a brief overview below:

  • Druid: Innervate has been redesigned to have no cooldown, have a two second cast, and every 4 seconds for 8 seconds will restore 2.5% of their max mana. Innervate will cancel if any healing spells are cast during this time.
  • Monk: Crackling Jade Lightning will have no mana cost in Stance of the Wise Serpent (baring in mind Mistweavers can now choose between Serpent and Crane stances), and once channeled for the full 4 seconds will restore 2% of their max mana.
  • Paladin: Divine Plea has been redesigned to have no cooldown, but now consumes 3 Holy Power to restore 7% of max mana.
  • Discipline Priest: Penance now restores 1.1% of max mana every time it hits, but no longer triggers Atonement.
  • Holy Priest: Red Chakra (Chastise) will cause Smite and Holy Fire to restore 0.75% of max mana instead of costing mana.
  • Shaman: Telluric Currents is now (finally) passive for Resto Shamans. Casting Lightning Bolt will restore 1.25% of max mana instead of costing mana.

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So it looks like Blizz have taken a look at Mistweaver Monks and Power Word: Solace, and decided that they like that particular model of regenerating your mana in a more active role, as opposed to a button you just pressed every couple of minutes to greatly regen your mana like the Innervate or Divine Plea we’re used to in Mists. Just like how Blood Shield for Blood DKs was kind of a testing ground for what all tanks eventually received in Mists through active mitigation, it seems that all healers now get this active mana regeneration model as a result of the success with Priests and Monks.

I have to say, I’m most intrigued by the Druid and Paladin ones. The Druid one less so, but they both have something a little more unique than “deal damage to regen mana” – something that builds upon the Monk’s mechanic for Mana Tea. We’ve had Telluric Currents for years, just slapping the same thing onto both three more specs doesn’t make it any more interesting. What about something like “Every 3 Renews you cast makes your next healing spell cost no mana” or bring in the return of mp5 through saying something like “Not casting a healing spell for 5 seconds will increase your spirit by X%”. Monks could make use of their secondary resource, chi, to instantly restore something like 0.5% of max mana – baring in mind that spending chi gives them stacks for their tea too, it could be a good way to actively dump throughput to gain a ton of mana back.

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I think the active mitigation model has worked extremely well in Mists, even going as far to say that out of them all, ironically the Death Knights are the tanks that seems to be the weakest and most dependent on lucky streaks from dodge and parry in order to stay alive. But what’s worked out the best is that because of all the different resources tanks have to increase their survivability – healers on the other hand largely just have mana to work with. Monks and Paladins have their combo points, sure, and I’m not trying to push for all healers to get some kind of combo point mechanic to spend as that’ll just feel shoved in for complexity’s sake. But simply dealing damage to regen mana just seems like boring design.

I do want to make a point on the new Innervate too: It essentially means the Druid isn’t healing for 6-10 seconds, taking the cast time into account. I don’t know if haste will have an impact for partial mana ticks at all, but it does involve a bit of communication with the raid to only expect heals to tick out for the next few seconds – if we’re going into Mythic raiding with 4-5 healers, that means for 6-10secs at a time raids are going to have to make up 20-25% healing while an Innervate is going out. With triage healing being the focus of the expansion, with Blizzard planning to reduce the huge damage output and expecting raids to spend most of their time at sub-100%, it’s going to take a lot of intuition of the encounter for Druids to time their Innervates correctly without being tempted to throw a Wild Growth out or sweep a few extra Rejuv’s out. What Blizzard are telling Druids to do with Innervate in its current form is to essentially do nothing while they regen mana, as casting will negate the regeneration from Innervate anyway.

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So yeah, I’m complaining about using damage to regen, and I’m complaining about one of the few mechanics that doesn’t involve using damage to regen mana. I sound like the average forum user… The proof is in the pudding, Blizzard made active mitigation work extremely well for tanks – it certainly breaks up the main problem I have with tanks: long periods of nothing to do, maybe taunt every so often, but then suddenly all the weight of an encounter is on your shoulders, and you could be the cause of a wipe. It’s up to the tank to be able to cope with the sudden switch in responsibility, so for those that tend to lose focus from boredom, this active mitigation model certainly makes much more interactive gameplay.

It makes me think about the future though – if this active mana regeneration model works out well for healers, could it be something we see for DPS? Perhaps removing some DPS cooldowns to combo some abilities together to grant more damage. As much as people hate it, Rune of Power from Mages could be a good template to start from, or Steady Focus on Marksmanship Hunters.

Weekly Roundup: Dwarf-style

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So I’ve brushed off my Paladin again this week, opting to go for the tanking path of WoW for the majority of my gaming this week. Still trying to get his legendary cloak, he’s been slowly getting 2 Titan Runestones per week, with the rest of the bosses in ToT and SoO proving fruitless other than the guaranteed drops. It’s certainly been interesting to note that every single time I’ve tanked LFR this week, I’ve been with a boosted-90 co-tank. Despite my initial fear of the runs being terrible because of them being boosted, I decided “why the hell not?” and continued with the runs.

Surprisingly enough, the runs went pretty smoothly, and wipes were minimal! Wipes that did occur were largely because of lack of DPS or lack of healing or whatever, but out of all the wipes, only one was due to a tank fail. Apparently, I’m a friendly guy and had about 6 people try to grab my real ID because of how friendly and informative I was to them in explaining the fights and what they needed to do as tanks… Conversations that largely went like this:

  • Co-tank: “Hi, what do I do on this fight?”
  • Me: “Do you have DBM or BigWigs installed?”
  • Co-tank: “Yes.”
  • Me: “Good. That’ll tell you when to taunt”
  • Co-tank: “Thanks!”

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Of course, there are other fights that require a little more explaining, but due to my Paladin’s gear (and bubble-hax in ToT), I ended up solo tanking what I could or generally taking the dogsbody tasks of going up towers on Galakras or picking up adds on Sha with running to the far prison unlock, and letting the other tank solo tank and moving slightly for the prisons. I’m beginning to think that LFR horror stories aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be… Or I just got lucky and actually had people that listened to what I told them.

I’m slowly building up his Ret spec so he’s actually got a DPS spec to play around with… The main problem being that because of so much gear sharing with Protection that I’ve run into the same problem that my Druid has of shared gear. The problem is magnified for the Paladin because of the fact he has less gear opportunities to choose from, and he’s too poor being stranded on a server away from my Druid, so he can’t afford enchant/gem switches each time. Nevertheless, he’s beginning to catch up to my Monk’s damage, so I might have a respectable alt on Alliance side for DPS purposes soon enough! I just need to practice a little more with Ret to get the flow working properly, alongside setting up WeakAuras to tell me how to play (maybe even pick up clcRet if it still works).

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Outside of the game, I’ve been enjoying another classic Dwarf pastime – the art of ale! I got my father a home brewing kit for his birthday, to follow up the Woodforde’s Wherry brew mix I got him for Christmas. So because of us both having a day off on the same day this Easter weekend, and with the weather appearing to begin to warm up, we started brewing our first brew! It was pretty fun as far as father-son bonding sessions go, and I’m certainly looking forward to reap our efforts in a few weeks time. Although having said that, for our first brew I’m pretty sure it’s going to go awful and we’ll end up having to pour 40 pints down the drain. If it works out though, yay for cheap beer! It’ll certainly be something I’d be interested in continuing at the very least, especially during the summer. Easter Sunday’s afternoon was also filled with us hosting for 10 in a family gathering – we all certainly had a great time, and as always it’s fantastic to see everyone!