I Sense Undead People

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gearing Up For Gearscore

So I don't know who Professor Beej is, but Tobold said he's been having some trouble getting into PUGs because of his Gearscore.  I've heard this song and dance a thousand times -- "I can't get into ICC because of Gearscore, and I can't improve my Gearscore because I can't get into ICC" -- and I'm not buying it anymore.

I'm not buying it because I saw my friend,, who didn't even start playing until December and now easily gets into ICC 10 and 25 PUGs, go through this, and rather than whine about it on his blog, he just found his own ways to deal with it.

So to all of you other people whining about "Gearscore ruined the game," I present you to this 5-step plan on how to beat the system.

1) Get the upgrades you can get.  So you've been farming some emblems of Triumph and you've got some ilevel 232 gear.  Great, but there's a difference between "some ilevel 232 gear" and "a lot of ilevel 232 gear."  Maybe you're still using a necklace, off-hand, or trinket from your leveling days.  Well, for almost every item slot there's a decent item available from Triumph emblems, Trial of the Champion/Crusader, the ICC 5 man dungeons, or as a BOE on the Auction House.  Sometimes you still get idiots that want a 5200 GS for ToC 10, but for the most part the requirements are a lot more reasonable.

2) Get your hands on every frost emblem you can.  My friend couldn't get into an ICC run to save his life, but after a couple weeks he was still able to start picking up Tier 10 pieces.  He consistently did the daily heroic, raid weekly, and got into VoA 10 and 25 runs.  After a month he was able to buy Tier 10 shoulders and he won Tier 10 legs in VoA.

3) PUG with a friend.  When my friend got geared enough to be do respectable damage in ICC 10 and 25, I'd get us both into PUGs by sending the PUG organizer my own Gearscore and achievements, and then saying, "invite my friend too, he's a good priest."  And I'm pretty sure every single time my friend got an invite too without asking for him to do the same.

4) Use Underacheiver or equip some items you'd never actually use to pass inspection.  Sure, it can be considered underhanded and sneaky.  But is your goal to get into a PUG or take the moral high ground?

5) There are PUGs that exist that will take you, you just have to find them.  Hang around Sunday or Monday in Trade Chat, and you're likely to find a lot of, "LFM ICC 10, doing 4/12."  They're likely players like you, just trying to scrounge up some frost emblems before the raid week resets.
My friend did all of the above, and within a month he had enough gear to easily get into anY ICC PUG.  Blizzard has done a great job reducing the "ramp up" time it takes to get into endgame content, but the ramp is in fact longer than "do a handful of heroics, few some upgrades, then kill the Lich King."  So instead of complaining, be resourceful, get those frost emblems, and stop blaming Gearscore.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Gevlon Will Fail

Why Gevlon Will Fail

I wrote this several months ago when Gevlon announced his Ungeared projectSeeing as he's successfully killed Anub'arak, he's officially gone further than I expected.  So in the spirit of eating crow, here's the entry reposted on this blog.  I'll have a response to his accomplishments later this week.

There's been some buzz on the WoW blogosphere recently about Gevlon's attempt to clear all the Wrath of the Lich King content in nothing better than iLevel 200 blues.  It's probably the most ambitious project I've read about, and I'm incredibly curious to see if he can pull it off.  That said, I can't see it happening on the terms he's set out, and here's why:

Leveling Sucks

Last year I found out some of my co-workers played WoW and they kept trying to get me roll a character on their server and play with them.  They were Horde and these were the days before faction change, so all I could do was roll a Tauren Druid and start playing.

After about two weeks I was somewhere in the mid-20s, and I realized even if I gained 5 levels a week, it would take 3 months before I could even start playing with them.  5 levels a week for an alt is ridiculous (especially when you consider the level 60-80 grind) and 3 months is a long time, and by definition everyone involved in his project is rolling an alt.  So they have a main character they're invested in and probably with guild raiding commitments.  So on any given evening when they log on, they'll ask themselves,  "Do I really want to collect 8 wolf necks in the Barrens, or go smash Marrowgar's face in?"

So if Gevlon thinks he's going to have 25 hardcore raiders ready to roll in January, he's probably wrong.  It's easy to forget the grind from 60 to 70, and the even bigger grind from 70 to 80, but that's a lot of wolf necks.  Will he have 24 raiders ready to go anytime soon?  What if he has a handful ready the next month or so, will they be patient enough to wait for everyone else to hit 80?

Skill Trumps Gear, But Gear Still Helps

There's an adage in WoW that "skill trumps gear," and that's largely true.  If you stand in the fire you will die, no matter how many iLevel 277 purple pixels you have on your character.  But gear gives you a margin of error, usually a margin you're "supposed" to have because the designers at Blizzard didn't want the difference between success and defeat to come down to hitting obscure cooldowns in perfect sequence with a 0.001 second reaction time.

I remember banging my head so hard against Malygos months ago as a Holy paladin during the Vortex, basically getting one Holy Shock off, then an instant Flash of Light, and then basically praying it would be enough to keep everyone alive.  Every other vortex I could use Aura Mastery and Concentration Aura, and I respec'd to get Divine Guardian, but it wasn't enough to cover every Vortex.

Well Malygos was the raid weekly this week, and it was a piece of piss.  I still only had two mediocre heals I could cast during the Vortex, but it didn't matter because everyone had 22K health pools.  I didn't have to heal at all and everyone would hit the ground with at least a quarter of their life left.  Vortex was no longer an incredibly stressful test of skill where I had to juggle every cooldown available, but just another AoE damage attack that didn't actually jeopardize anyone.

So Gevlon's guild will basically be raiding in a completely different way than everyone else does, especially in ToC and ICC.  Let's take ToC.  Icehowl freezes some people and they take 3000 damage a second over 5 seconds.  This 15,000 total damage is never enough to kill someone, but with his guild, it probably will be.  They may have to blow cooldowns just to survive this part.  He is effectively making his own hard modes, which is asking for skill levels beyond what anyone is used to.

Is This Theoretically Possible?

This is related to my last point, but basically, there may be some encounters where the sheer tuning doesn't work.  Blizzard tuned the boss to hit for 27K health because he expects your tank to have at least 30K health, so if he doesn't, he's going to die.

Jarraxus summons Mistresses of Pain and Infernals roughly every minute.  If you haven't killed the Mistress of Pain by the time the Infernals come out, then the adds quickly become overwhelming and they'll wipe the raid.  Will 17 people in iLevel 200 blues pump out enough DPS?

Basically I anticipate this scenario coming up all over the place.  There may be a mathematical maximum where no amount of cooldowns, coordination, and theorycrafting will help.

Communication Is Everything

On top of the gear handicap, Gevlon says using vent is not even necessary.  Just set up some whisper macros for the tanks to taunt off each other and call it a day.

Man, I don't even know where to start.

When players raid old content, they are proactive.  They know what's coming and they know exactly what they need to do to counter it.  When I'm fighting Kel'Thuzad, I've got my fingers hovering over my Holy Shock hotkey, ready to slam it the second I see he's iceblocked someone.

But when they raid new content, they react.  They don't anticipate what's coming, because they haven't seen it before or only a handful of times.  They haven't figured out how to twist their mind and vision in the right configuration to see everything coming that they need to keep track of.  They just see stuff happening and react to it.

Really good players are almost as good as being reactive as proactive, but most players aren't.

And this is where vent comes in, because I'm not familiar enough with Marrowgar's bone spikes to get a sense of when it happens and what I need to do to handle it, I'm just reacting to whenever it happens.  And if I don't react fast enough, then that person dies and we're probably hosed.  And nothing can get someone to react better than someone shouting on vent, "HEALER IS SPIKED, BIG HEALS ON THE TANK."

You could just make macros for all communication necessary, but then that's forcing players to also look at their chat log in their peripheral vision, while they're also trying to keep track of aggro and debuffs and health bars and cooldowns and fire on the ground.  They may not see that "/w I have a snobold on me!" macro, but they will sure as hell hear "STOP FUCKING DPS'ING GORMOK AND KILL THE SNOBOLD ON THE HEALER."

I like socializing on vent as much as anyone, but the real reason I like using it in raids where everyone isn't familiar with the fights is for that reason.  Gevlon is going to require basically flawless execution for some of these fights, and is limiting how they can communicate.  In my opinion this is the biggest handicap he's giving himself.

Why Gevlon Will Succeed

I don't think Gevlon will completely fail.  I do think he'll have to make some compromises though, which may defeat the purpose of his experiment, depending on what his goals are.

A social competent is going to have to evolve, just because leveling is a grind and people don't like boring things unless they're doing it with people they like.

His guild is going to have to use vent.  Flawless execution is lot easier with good communication, and verbal communication is superior to a chat log.  This will probably mean someone will step up and act as de facto raid leader, someone with some sort of leadership personality traits that Gevlon thinks are pointless, but he will get everyone to stop fucking DPS'ing Gormok when there's a snobold on a healer.

And depending on the tuning, he may have to make compromises on gear.  Maybe he'll allow enchants that require abyss crystals, or let the tanks wear some epics so they have the minimum health necessary.

If he pulls it off I still think he'll be making an incredible statement for the over-reliance of the excuse of gear, and doing a lot for WoW culture that increasingly is devolving into "LF2M heroic farming min 5200 GS required, need tank and healz."  But his terms are set up for failure.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lich King 371, Justisraiser 0

I don't know how many attempts I've put in with this guy and I'm sure it's not 371, but I've spent probably a combined 20 hours worth of attempts and at this point I just feel like throwing in the towel.

A week ago I blasted the Sindragosa fight for being 8 minutes of boredom followed by 2 minutes of insanity.  Well, I got what I wished for, because the Lich King fight is 12-15 minutes of insanity, and me and my ICC 10 groups just can't seem to put it together to consistently get into phase 3.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal.  I generally finish content a full tier behind whenever it's relevant, and if you look up my achievements you'll see what I mean:

Naxx 10 -- May 2009
Naxx 25 -- June 2009
Malygos 10 -- July 2009
Ulduar 10 -- September 2009
ToC 10 -- December 2009
ToC 25 -- January 2009
ToGC 10 -- February 2010

Generally I hit a brick wall at every raid tier, when I just can't seem to progress in any sort of group.  At that point I take a break from raiding -- level alts, mess around with PvP, go for some achievements, that sort of thing.  Eventually some buffs or nerfs come in and I'll jump back into it later.  I'd love to kill the Lich King now, but I would have been okay with getting that Kingslayer title in July (or August, or September...), because I'm not as good as those groups killing the Lich King now.

The difference this time is... well, I primarily play with my two friends in real life, and while we've been friends for almost 15 years now, we all live thousands of miles apart.  World of Warcraft has always provided us a common thread to hang out and, well, do stuff.  But starting this weekend one of them isn't going to be able to play consistently for a long time (for good reasons, of course) and even if he finds his way back to the game, our weekly raiding was probably going to be a thing of the past.  So I thought killing the Lich King together, the ultimate boss in this expansion (and arguably the ultimate boss of the whole series) would have been a poetic way to go, the proverbial blaze of glory.

Unfortunately it's looking like that's not going to happen.  I know at the end of the day this is just a videogame, and the failure to kill the Lich King now is basically meaningless.  I also know that even if you reduce our friendship to the past couple years purely to World of Warcraft (which of course it's been much more than that), we've had lots of good times and great accomplishments.  Not killing the Lich King doesn't devalue any of that, and in the grand scheme of things it's pretty trivial.

But I still would've liked that kill.  At this point it's not impossible, but we only have a handful of days, and our ICC 10 group is only likely to be able to meet for an hour or two.  Given how hard it is to just jump into the fight, we're looking at 5-10 attempts.

No king rules forever.  But unfortunately, it looks like this one is going to rule past May 9th.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Blizzard Needs to Do To Save 25 Man Raiding

So by now you've heard about Blizzard modifying raid lockouts so that 25 man and 10 man raids will share the same lockout, and both types of raids will offer the same exact loot.  In attempt to address the immediate obvious question, "why the hell would you run a 25 man raid?" Blizzard's response is:

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you're able to gather the people.

I don't think I need to tell you why this is pretty laughable, and basically every WoW blogger out there has prognosticated the death of 25 man raiding.  10 man groups are a complete order of magnitude easier as far as organizing a roster, coordinating during the raid, and general camaraderie and enjoyment.  The only way 25 man raids will survive outside niche/novelty groups is if the bosses in 25 man are an order of magnitude easier.  Like, radically easier.  Like, so easy then the difficulty of grabbing 25 other people is offset because the 25 man encounters are so damn easy, the bosses just puke out loot and keel over and die as soon they see 25 snarling toons enter their room.

Ultimately, my hypothesis is this: fail-wiping actually has to be less likely in 25 man raids than 10 man raids, otherwise 25 man raiding will basically die.

The inherent challenge in any raid is the "fail-wipe."  If X raid members don't perform action Y within whatever painfully short time period, then the raid wipes.  Almost every single raid boss requires action 'Y.'  DPS bone spikes in Marrowgar.  Stack up to get spores in Festergut.  DPS slimes in Putricide.  None of these in isolation are hard to do, and as you outgear the encounter, failure to do Y does not necessarily lead to a wipe (e.g. a DPS dies on Festergut's first Pungent Blight because he didn't stack spores, but the raid has enough DPS to still kill him).

But even if you assume the an average raider has only a 5% chance to commit an error leading to a fail-wipe (ie. a 95% chance of doing everything right), this means that a raid of 25 average raiders only has a 27% chance of not having a single person fail during the entire fight (thus leading to a fail-wipe).  However a raid of 10 average raiders has just a hair short of a 60% chance of the same outcome.  And this is why it seems easy to get a group of well-geared, competent people with lots of raid experience in ICC and down several bosses, but to get the same caliber of people in a 25 man group, and you kill Saurfang, wipe a couple times on Festergut, and call it a day and disband.

This needs to go out the window in 25 man raids, to the point where the ratio needs to be reversed.  Not just evened out, but reversed entirely.  Instead of the base chance for a fail-wipe to be twice as likely in 25 man, it now needs to be twice as likely in 10 man.  This can either occur by tuning up the fail-wipe percentage in 10 mans, reducing the possibility of failure in 25 mans, or reducing the consequences of failure in 25 mans so that it doesn't result in a wipe (thus is not a fail-wipe).

If you were to apply this model to our current ICC bosses, you'd see:
- Marrowgar: Only bone spikes for one person in the 25 man version too.
- Deathwhisper: Mana shield has the same health in 10 man and 25 man.
- Saurfang: There are four adds in the 10 man version too.
- Festergut: Only need two stacks of innoculation to survive Pungent Blight.
- Rotface: The pre-nerfed 10 man version was actually a good example of this, as his health and the rate of the diseases made it considerably more difficult to maintain DPS while dealing with slime.

Think of it this way: I wasn't around for the vanilla days, but I heard that while Molten Core was a 40 man raid, you really only needed about 20 geared and competent people to complete it and everyone else could practically be AFK.  This is what 25 man raiding will need to turn into.  If you can't carry people, if you can't bring along people who even with a 100% failure rate won't cause a wipe, then it's simply too hard.  Because of the overhead in organizing a 25 man raid to begin with, it's not sufficient to just make the fail-wipe ratio the same.  Even if I could grab 24 random people and get just as far as grabbing 9 random people, it's so much easier to find 9 random people that I'd still do that.

Or as I mentioned earlier, they could go the other direction and make 10 man raiding needs to be the equivalent of 10 man heroic raiding now -- extra mechanics to deal with and higher boss tuning.  But I doubt they'll go in this direction because they'll be able to make less assumptions about raid class composition which limits the mechanics they can throw at us and they only want raiding to get more accessible, not less.

If this doesn't happen, then 25 man raiding will inevitably die.  It won't happen overnight.  25 man guilds will give Cataclysm the old college try, but the minute something goes wrong -- guild drama, attendance issues, progression stagnation -- it's going to be too tempting to break into 10 mans.  Because otherwise what's the point?  Why put yourself through twice the chance of failure when you can just get 9 people you actually like better, kick more ass, and get the same loot?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

Today I transferred Justisraiser from the server Mannoroth to the server Malygos.  There are a few reasons why, and I'm sure I'll get into them in a future entry.  Not today, though.

Today I want to talk about the people I'm leaving behind.

Except for a brief two month period in August-September 2009 when I momentarily lost sanity and thought it would be a good idea to start my own guild, my entire raid experience has been PUG-driven.  This wasn't as bad as most people seem to think it is.  I quickly learned the warning signs of bad PUGs (another likely future blog post) and for the most part I had positive experiences.  I was never going to be on the forefront of progression, but I'm not good enough to join a guild on the forefront of progression anyway.  And I got to raid and experience content on my own time, with no guild and schedule to commit to.

If PUGs ever made me feel bad, it was actually because they were a *good* experience.  I'd join one, the other players would be cool, and we'd kill some bosses, get some loot, have a lot of laughs, and I realized I couldn't just log on next week at the same time and repeat the experience.  It was the equivalent of having a great first date with a girl and then her telling you she was moving to Austrailia that weekend.  All I could do was exchange numbers (ie. add them to my friends list) and promise to call, but chances are I'd never see her (them) again.

But there was always a possibility I could see them again, and occassionally when the stars aligned that would happen.  I'd get a whisper and they'd invite me to some other raid.  Sometimes I'd join a group and I'd see them say, "hey, this was that pro Holy Paladin I was telling you about."  Sometimes their guilds even tried to get me to join.  While that was always good for an ego boost, they always raided on some Eastern time schedule and it would never work for me.  Now that I think about it, I was always the one telling people I had to go back to Austrailia that weekend.

But now on another server, I'm not just moving to Austrailia, I'm going to a completely parallel dimension.  Even if my schedule never synchronized with someone I had joined a PUG raid with, they were always just a "/w" away from establishing any sort of communication, or even using using in-game mail.  But now I'm gone with absolutely no way of getting in touch with them.  I debated asking some of them for their e-mail addresses, but decided it was kind of pointless.  I know next to nothing about the personal lives about these people, so what kind of conversations could I even have with them?  Play any good videogames lately?  Oh, World of Warcraft, I think I've heard of that one...

So I didn't do much in terms of goodbyes and keeping in touch, but it's wrong to say that they're out of sight and out of mind.  Some part of me wonders if they'll ever realize I even left, perhaps when they realize Justisraiser has mysteriously vanished from their friends list, but I doubt I'll have even that much significance to them.  But they did have that much significance to me, and much more.

So to all you raiders in Mannoroth, it's been a lot fun.  Thanks for letting me into your raids and thanks for all the good times.  Best of luck, and may your loot always be epic.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dude, It's Just a Mount

I admit it.  I bought the mount.

Yet I'm still a bit surprised at the sheer disappointment and disapproval (albeit sometimes comically stated) coming from the WoW blogsphere, as apparently my decision to spend my own money on something that increases my enjoyment -- in an activity I'm participating in for enjoyment to begin with -- apparently makes me a bad player, or an attention whore, or perhaps this kind of whore:

So here are some of my own thoughts on the mount, and why I bought it, why I don't think it's the end of the world, and why I think anyone getting their panties on a knot should relax and take a deep breath.

"OMG Blizzard!  Way to stab us in the back!  You said you'd never support RMT, what do you call this?  $25 for a reskinned mount?  You greedy bastards!  What's next, $50 to buy tier pieces?  $100 to buy a Gladiator title?  GrrraaauguguggugRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!"

My counter-argument is admittedly an anecdote, but I think it's a telling one:

My friend has had his eye on buying the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth since WotLK was released.  In December, he decided it was finally time to start trying to save up for it.  He always seemed to struggle making gold, doing dailies religiously yet just barely able to meet his raiding costs for flasks, repairs, gems, etc.  Meanwhile he saw that I never did a single daily but never seemed hard up for gold.  I wasn't exactly Gevlon but I did pretty well for myself.

He knew I primarily made gold by selling scrolls with vanilla enchants, presumably for twinks and alts and their heirloom items.  So we talked and put together a plan.  We'd do old school raids and rep grinds so I could pick up more vanilla enchants.  He'd farm annoying mats for me like Righteous Orbs and Golden Pearls.  We had another friend who was a scribe so he provided us with lots of Armor Vellum and Weapon Vellum at cost.  When the scrolls sold we'd split the profits.

In just a couple of weeks, but he got his Traveler's Tundra Mammoth and I had earned well over 15k for myself.

If the Tundra Mammoth was something that you could just buy at the Blizzard store for $25, then he may have bought it, and in the process, think about all the things that wouldn't have happened.  All the mats we bought on the AH for rep grinds, all the stuff we sold on the AH that we picked up rep farming, all the herbs we bought for our friend to make scrolls, and all those twinks and alts running around with their agility, crusader, or spellpower enchants.  The WoW economy runs on stuff like this happening, and throwing that all out so they can make $25 would quickly damage the fundamentals of the game.

That being said, RMT (Real Money Transactions) in WoW are not going away, and the success of the Celestial Steed is just going to confirm what the execs at Activision theorized: people will pay real money for this shit, just like they've been paying real money for years in games like Farmville.  Here are some ideas you could possibly see:
- Items with an "on use" like the Horseman's Horrific Helm.
- Shirts or tabards that have some sort of cosmetic effect.
- Items like the Toy Train Set.

Does any of this stuff put you at a mechanical disadvantage for any part of the game?  Will you think, "man, this guy has a fatter wallet than me, I can't even begin to compete with him"?  No, or at least, you shouldn't.  Skill and time will still be required to achieve almost anything worthwhile in the game, and as long as Blizzard keeps it that way, what exactly is the problem if some guy wants to blow part of his paycheck on some pixels that look cool to him?

"You attention whore!  You just got it because you want to be a beautiful unique snowflake!  I spent hard work for my character's accomplishments, you just spent 30 seconds with a credit card!  GrrraaauguguggugRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!"

Let's just get this out of the way: I definitely didn't get it because I wanted to be unique.  By the time I bought it and logged in to use it, Dalaran looked like Algalon took a dump on it and everyone was riding his turds.  Spending $200,000 on a Ferrari is a purchase that says, "look at how amazing and unique I am."  Spending $25 to have some extra glowing pixels in a video game is not.

I've tried to word this next paragraph as politically correct as possible, but I can't seem to say anything without coming off as blunt, so here it goes: if you're 'offended' by the mere idea of this mount, and if you see someone riding it and think, "I just don't have any respect for that person," then you're probably the kind of player that compares himself to others and justifies any shortcomings.  Someone in full ICC gear?  He's probably GM of his guild and loot councils everything to himself.  Someone with the Kingslayer title?  Well he has time for a raiding guild, you don't.  Someone with a Tundra Mammoth or Mechano-Hog?  They don't actually play the game, just rip off noobs at the Auction House.  Someone with The Insane achievement?  Well, there's a guy with no life!

If you disagree, if you really are offended by the mere idea that someone would purchase this mount but can give a reason besides, "I don't like that it reminds me that someone has allocated more of their disposable income to World of Warcraft than me," then please, I'd love to know what that reason is.

Because... seriously, guys.  It's just a freaking mount.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Facepalming Over the Paladin Preview

So the Paladin Preview was released today by the WoW developers.  Some interesting some stuff and I think the overall directions they're trying to take the class are good, but there are some suggestions that are just making me plain /facepalm.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

So basically this is our "Consecrate as an AoE heal" that everyone has been suggesting since... oh, probably 2005.  But as has been outlined several times before, that idea has several limitations.  Unless raid damage is nowhere near as intense and spiky as it is now, this will be completely unfeasible to use proactively (ie. running up to a damaged group of people and using it).  So it'll probably only be useful for fights where the raid has to stack up together anyway for tactical reasons.  I'm hoping this eventually turns into a paladin version of Wild Growth, because right now I'm just seeing too many limitations.

Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.

I hate the Blessing system with a passion, enough that I could probably write an entire blog post on this single subject.  This is a step in the right direction, but if the goal is to let us stop using PallyPower, this won't cut it.  Are they going to keep the talents that enhance these buffs?  And what about Blessing of Sanctuary?

Right now half the raids I end up in involve this dialogue:

Retribution Paladin: Holy Paladin, you do Kings, I'll do Might.
Holy Paladin: But I have Improved Might, I'll cast it on us and you kings us.
Warlock: I'm missing Blessing of Sanctuary.
Holy Paladin: Only Prot pallies have that.
Warlock: But we have a Prot pally in the raid.
Holy Paladin: But he's not prot this fight since we only need one tank.
Rogue: I don't have Blessing of Might.
Retribution Paladin: Hold on, we're working on it.  Protection Paladin, why don't you have PallyPower?
Protection Paladin: What's PallyPower?
Holy Paladin: /facepalm
Balance Druid: I need Wisdom, you gave me Might.
Rogue: Why does the Balance Druid get might?  I still don't have Blessing of Might.
Feral Tank: Why don't I have Blessing of Sanctuary?
Retribution Paladin: Okay Balance Druid, you have Blessing of Wisdom.
Balance Druid: Why do I only have the 10 minute version?
Retribution Paladin: Because I put the 30 minute version on our Feral Tank.
Balance Druid: Why does he get it?
Feral Tank: I'd rather have Blessing of Sanctuary.
Warlock: That's what I'm saying.
Rogue: Wow, three paladins and I can't even get Blessing of Might:
Retribution Paladin has left the raid.
Holy Paladin has left the raid.

If I still have to have some version of this conversation, then Blizzard has failed, and I will continue to want to punch a kitten in the face every time the raid leader says "okay everyone, raid buffs and let's pull."

Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

No.  No.  Just... no.  This is stupid.  What the hell.  The whole article talks about how Retribution paladins are tough to balance because of all their defensive abilities, so they want to remove some of that and give them more offensive tools.  Well, part of the paladin defensive abilities are their heals, and right now the baseline Paladin healing kit is already too strong.  Almost every patch the players find some way to cheese talent trees and gear to get paladin specs that clearly weren't intended.  Remember the Sheathadin during beta? (Holy paladins going deep into Retribution for Judgments of the Wise and Sheath of Light)  Or the Protholy spec in patch 3.1?  (Protection paladins throwing on Holy gear so they could double dip in spellpower provided by the Touched by the Light talent).  Other classes QQ'ed, Blizzard changed up the talents, and we never get the offensive tools (snares, gap closers, etc) we so desperately needed in PvP.

So now they're giving every paladin two more heals, which means even more potential for PvP QQ and players finding clever ways to abuse specs, and Blizzard deathly afraid of giving us anything actually fun and useful.

We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput.

Um... what?  As far as single-target heals, we're set.  We've been set since 2004.  Flash of Light is our cheap, small heal.  Holy Shock is our expensive, fast heal.  And Holy Light is our big, expensive heal.  We really don't need a "Super Holy Light," or whatever they're talking about.  We need something that targets people in an area, or heals over time, or heals the most damaged party member, or procs when something else happens, or ultimately does something besides transfer some percentage of my blue bar into a targeted single player's percentage of their green bar.

Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.

We all knew Beacon as we knew it was going to change, and limiting to what heals it can be used for is a good idea. 

Addendum: Looks like the devs have followed up to the preview.

Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light needs to be changed so that its benefit is letting the paladin heal two targets at once, not letting the paladin get two heals for the mana cost of one. It’s intended to save GCDs and targeting time, not mana.

So we don't have a small, cheap heal at all?  What if we want to top someone off?  I either need to burn a ton of mana with Flash of Light or bomb a Holy Light on them?  Huh?

Also on the live realms currently, paladins have huge mana pools and massive throughput. The trade-off is that they are excellent single target healers and much weaker in other roles. We want paladins to be slightly more interchangeable with other healers. In Cataclysm, you should be able to have a Holy priest on the tank and a Holy paladin on the raid. We’re not sure we’ll back off of the current healing roles completely, but we definitely want to add more breadth to those whose roles are currently too narrow.

Nothing here indicates Holy paladins will have the ability to effectively raid heal.  We're apparently going to have four single target heals, a very limited AoE heal that's on a 15-second cooldown, and a "smart" heal on a 3-minute cooldown.  And we're supposed to raid heal with this?

Overall, some fresh and interesting ideas were presented by the devs.  But it's clear there's going to need to be a lot of iteration on these ideas to get all three specs to a good place, because otherwise a lot of these ideas either suffer from "more of the same" or "throwing out the baby with the bathwater."