This will most likey be a multi-part series. I know next week we'll be talking about the Warrior 2008 year in review, discussing talent changes and so much more, so it may be an interrupted series. With the new raiding system (normal and heroic raids), tier gear, emblem gear and non-affiliated drops, there's a lot of gear to talk about in the raid game.
Lately, in fact, I've noticed that 10 and 25 man raiding seems to flow back and forth into each other. I can be DPS in a 25 man Sarth run, then the run breaks up into two 10 mans and I'm asked to tank in one, then we recombine for a Vault of Archavon 25 man and split up again for two 10 mans. To be fair, we often do 25 man content with less than 25 people, possibly because it's Decemeber and a lot of folks are away for the holidays, which may be encouraging our raid swapping behavior. Or maybe we're just trying to get as much loot for people as we can.
My intention is to cover a raid in normal and heroic before moving on to the next raid, and then to cover Emblem of Herois and Valor rewards at a later date, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.
The Obsidian Sanctum
Also called Sarth or Sartharion for the boss within, this raid is similar to Gruul or Magtheridon (or Onyxia, if you've been raiding that long) in that it is a short raid with a single boss encounter. (Technically, Gruul's had two, High King Maulgar and his council and then Gruul himself, but it was still a short raid along these lines.) Unlike those pervious raids, however, the Obsidian Sanctum has a built-in 'hard mode' of sorts, as the three sub-boss drakes Shadron, Tenebron and Vesperon can be killed before engaging Sartharion himself or left alive and dealt with while engaging him for better loot and a chance at a mount. This also leads to one of the hardest boss fights in the current game being 10 man Sartharion with three drakes up. (I've only killed him on normal difficulty with one drake up and that wasn't easy, so when we get around to leaving all three up I expect to get thrashed fairly often.)
10 manned, Sartharion has a chance to drop the Gloves of the Lost Protector which any warrior (and other classes, too) will be interested in. He also drops the Signet of the Accord, a nice tanking ring with expertise on it (always in demand for tanking) and Titan's Outlook. While I'd rather that armor pen was a meta socket or some expertise, it's still a very solid DPS hat.
On heroic, Sartharion drops the Gauntlets of the Lost Protector (for the 25 man version of T7) the Dragon Brood Legguards for a solid tanking piece with high hit, the Dragonstorm Breastplate for yet more tanking goodness (and two sockets, although neither is blue, sad clown face) and Fury of the Five Flights, a very interesting DPS trinket. So far in my searches for what drops on Sarth when drakes are left alive, I've found the Obsidian Greathelm and the Belabored Legplates. Both appear to be from two drakes up. Both are astonishing DPS plate. As I find more drops from 10 and 25 man Sarth with drakes up I'll mention them.
I don't know why, but I spell Naxxramas "Naxxaramas" in my head. It's very distracting. Naxx is one of the best sources of gear (including weapons, which can be in short supply for warriors in the other raids, now that our DPS goals have generally shifted to two hand weapons) - some of the best possible options for weapons for a warrior come from Naxx. As always, use common sense: trying to take a bow over a hunter for who it would be a much bigger upgrade, for instance, is not cool.
Weapon drops from 10 man Naxx to pay attention to include the Accursed Bow of the Elite and the Nerubian Conquerer for ranged slot stats. (Remember what I said about the hunters, but in my raids these often get sharded now so if that's the case and you don't have better pick one up.) If you're looking for a tanking sword, the Slayer of the Lifeless will serve you well. It's also one of the most popular tanking weapons with every other tanking class that can use a sword, so good luck fighting over it.
For 2h DPS weapons, Naxx 10 offers the Claymore of Ancient Power, Demise, amd Death's Bite for arms and fury warriors, and arms warriors can make use of the Wraith Spear although it's not the most optimal choice for them (I'd pass it to a hunter myself). Then again, the Wraith Spear has a larger damage range and thus more top end damage than either the Claymore or Demise. You guys have fun arguing over it, I guess, consider it my belated Christmas present to you.
Naxx doesn't disappoint in heroic, either. Tanks will debate over Broken Promise (is it too slow? Look at those stats! Speed really only matters if you're worried about miss/dodge/parry streaks, so this weapon depends on how good your hit and expertise are) and Last Laugh (here, most of the arguing will probably be over who gets it - good luck, Orc Warriors, it doesn't get better for you until Ulduar comes out). Our ranged weapon slots will cry out for Arrowsong, Envoy of Mortality, Final Voyage and Spinning Fate at least for DPS warriors. (Tanks are going to get Armor Plated Combat Shotguns, I expect, and nothing in Naxx makes me think they'd abandon them.) I personally prefer throwing weapons, but that Arrowsong is pretty hot... try and be nice to your hunters first, though, imagine how you'd feel if they took Betrayer of Humanity over you.
Speaking of 2h weapons for our arms and fury warriors, there's the Betrayer off of Kel'Thuzad, and then Armageddon, Inevitable Defeat, the Jawbone and Cryptfiend's Bite, which would really only interest arms warriors.
We'll, we're about half-way done. Next time, we'll finish Naxxramas looking towards armor (including trinkets, rings and amulets) and then we'll cover Malygos. If there's time/room, we'll also cover emblem of valor gear that can help fill some holes in itemization for warriors. Next week, however, will most likely be a 2008 year in review post, so please bear with us.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
This will most likey be a multi-part series. I know next week we'll be talking about the Warrior 2008 year in review, discussing talent changes and so much more, so it may be an interrupted series. With the new raiding system (normal and heroic raids), tier gear, emblem gear and non-affiliated drops, there's a lot of gear to talk about in the raid game.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Merry Christmas World of Warcraft players! No matter what you celebrate, whether it's Festivus for the Rest of Us or full blown Christmas cheer, you can appreciate some quality holiday movies this season.
Let's take a look at five festive holiday machinima productions over the past few years.
Of course it needs to be stipulated that there are no Gnomes or Paladins in these movies, since they're godless heathens. (Insert /sarcasm here). But for the rest of us these movies will delight and titillate our holiday spirits.
Take a look after the break for our five holiday machinimas you won't want to miss! And don't forget to check out of coverage of the Feast of Winter's Veil if you're looking for something to do between all the holiday fun times.
The 12 Days of Winter's Veil
I really wish that on the first day of Christmas my true love would have given to me a Gnome head on a Christmas tree. Unfortunately I don't think Katie would enjoy the bloody mess. And you know, we don't even have a Christmas tree really.
But Oxhorn got one. And that's cool. And so is this machinima.
This is only part one of Oxhorn's contributions to the five WoW Christmas movies. Part two comes later. Read on.
The Guild: A Christmas Raid Carol
We all love The Guild and Felica Day, right? Last year they produced the Christmas carol above. Grats to Codex on the ring! They've also made a nice jingle this year.
I had to laugh at the end when Vorik is singing about questing alone on Christmas. I'll find some time today I'm sure to log on and do a daily or two... by myself... but I won't have any turkey. At least I hope not.
Christmas Time in Dun Morogh
Are you one of those people who keeps their Christmas decorations up until July?
I hate you.
No really. I do. "DIAF," as the kids like to say.
While I don't have any up at my home, my father will be taking his down tomorrow around noon. Not in Dun Morogh however, where it's always Christmas time.
I'm not saying this week's column isn't for Hunters. That would be silly, what with this being a Hunter column and all. But this column goes out primarily to the Hunters' friends, guildmates, family members, spouses, significant others, and the like, who may be thinking, man, here it is, Christmas day, and I still don't have the proper gift. This column aims to help them find that gift. But hey, if you're a Hunter who wants to get something special for yourself too, you should still read on. You might just find an idea here.
Yeah, I suppose if you wanted to get your Christmas shopping done for your special Hunter EARLY, this guide is a little bit late. But hey, there's 12 days of Christmas, and where I come from, The first day is the 25th of December. Besides, this is a Holiday Guide, and the Holidays, all told, extend to at least mid-January, right? So yeah, we're totally good. Anyway, if you have a Hunter on your gift list this season, here's some in-game gift ideas from various professions, dungeon drops, and elsewhere that just might woo your special Hunter, or appease them until next year, or whatever it is you may need to do.
Swiftarrow Armor: If your special Hunter is getting up to the high 70s in level just about now, why not buy them a nice suit of armor to help them get over the top? Swiftarrow armor, made with Leatherworking, comes with Belt, Boots, Bracers, Gauntlets, Hauberk, Helm, Leggings, and Shoulderguards, and takes various amounts of Borean Leather and an Eternal Air each to craft. It has plenty of all the basic stats a growing Hunter needs, plus some extra resilience if your Hunter likes to PvP. Check your Hunter's Armory, check your bank account, and buy as many or as few of these pieces as you want. They're sure to be appreciated.
The Nesingwary 4000: If your Hunter is a gun lover, here's something that's sure to make their season bright. The Nesingwary 4000 is a crafted gun that takes a lot of expensive components to craft, including a Frozen Orb and 3 Sun Scopes. It's better than pretty much any other gun outside Heroic Naxxramas, though, augmenting high pure DPS with some nice attack power and critical strike rating. It also comes with a yellow gem slot, so if you're feeling really generous, you could even stick a Glinting or Rigid gem in there.
Loque'nahak: This one is going to be a little more difficult to pull off. Your Hunter will need to be there and she'll need to have Beast Mastery, the 51 point talent in the tree of the same name. Also, he's the only tamable beast of his kind, he's incredibly rare, and you'll have to run yourself ragged all over Sholazar Basin to find him before someone else tames him or kills him for the Northern Exposure or Frostbitten achievements. But if Your Hunter was the type who camped Humar the Pridelord for hundreds of hours and currently laments the lack of rare and unique pets in WoW today, she'll want Loque'nahak. Just hope you're the only person who goes for this gift.
Arrows or Bullets: Until a new patch brings us new faction rewards or items, the best bullets and arrows in game for a Hunter right now are engineering crafted. That's certainly a pain for your Hunter is they're not an engineer, but it's the perfect opportunity for you to get your gift shopping done. Just buy a handful of Ultra-Safe Bullet Machines or Saronite Arrow Makers from your local engineer, and your Hunter will love you for it. And then go through horrible withdrawals when the ammo runs out in a few days, but hey, nothing's perfect.
A Non-Combat Pet: Does your Hunter have a favorite pet? Why not get them a non-combat companion that matches it in appearance or theme? If they use a Dire Raven, get them a Hawk Owl. If they use a Dragonhawk, get them a Dragonhawk Hatchling. If they use a Silithid, get them a Cockroach. If they use Bun'kar the mighty, get them a Snowshoe Hare. The list goes on and on.
Rusted-Linked Spiked Gauntlets: This is where things get really expensive. These drop off Gluth or Faerlina in 10-man Naxxramas, but they are bind on equip. They're really the perfect Hunter gloves, even adding a bit of hit rating on top of the other amazing stats. It'll even beat out their 10-man gauntlets, most likely. This, though, is definitely the equivalent of the $1,500 bottle of Cognac or the limited edition 24 karat gold and diamond encrusted Macbook.
The Mirror of Truth: This one's also going to take some Hunter participation, but it's nice in that you can make it a long term promise: "Hey, I'll be your instance buddy until you have enough Emblems of Heroism to grab this." The mirror's a really awesome trinket that most Hunters are probably going to want to add to their arsenal sooner or later, so it's a safe bet they'll like the idea. Even more if you're a Healer or Tank so as to make it easier to find those other 3 group members.
Labels: Hunter Guide
For many people around the world, today is a sacred, holy day. For others, it's the day that we begin composing letters of apology for our behavior at the office Christmas party. The guild
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing email@example.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran. Merry Christmas, everybody!
Labels: WoW Player Article
Merry Christmas Happy Winter Veil, everyone! In this season of giving, it's probably appropriate to ask everyone what their wish is for the season and, heck, the next year. To keep things in line, we'll ask for what everyone is wishing for in the game so there probably won't be any wishes for World Peace (although Dalaran and Shattrath pretty much killed all that inter-faction hate). I know my brother-in-law is wishing to get the Merrymaker Achievement as his first step towards the Violet Proto-drake. As much as I love it, I'd like to see Wintergrasp get some improvements soon, with more incentive to actually play it aside from being insanely fun.
What about you guys? Anything you're wishing for or wished for that you already got? Phat loot? Achievements? Acceptance into that high-end raiding guild you've been working on for months? What's the sweetest in-game thing you want for Winter Veil? We can't guarantee you'll get it, but here at WoW Insider, we're certainly wishing you the best!
Labels: WoW Player Article
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Someone says game is just a game. That makes a sense. But should we must hold the spirit and the faith of the role we are playing in the game? Let's look at this story first, thank Hyuk. Not long ago on the server Lothar in World of Warcraft China while facing the overwhelming attack of the Horde corps, a human paladin named Plapla set herself an good example, telling all her enemies attendant the very final answer: YES.
Magni Bronzebeard, the King of Ironforge was the target in the attack, Horde didn't meet any effectual defense of the Alliance because of the imbalance in Realms, just within a few minutes, Ironforge became a complete ghost town, then the last NPC guard was down very soon.
Plapla didn't simply "quit" as "it is just a game", obviously a "She can't win" game, instead she chose to stay beside Magni Bronzebeard just in the name of her profession, Paladin. A bit far from the point, but you know, seriously this situation reminds me of a classical dialogue in Black Hawk Down: "We are all afraid, but what you do now can make a difference"
Then Plapla shouted out: YOU SHALL NOT BE PASSED, which remind me of Lord of thr Rings, when Gandalf faced the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. Actually there was an obvious nonstandard grammatical construction, but hey it completely matters nothing! When reading here I was touched so much that I almost felt I was weeping, She was role-playing her character and she knew the meaning of the King to her Kingdom, her realm. It was no longer the matter of alive or dead, it was just the call of duty, it was about honor and faith.
In the end, Horde failed to kill The king, a thread in a fansite forum in China reported the whole raid including Plapla's story, almost everyone was touched by her, even some players in the opposite realm. She is named "King's Defender" now because of the weapon she held to fight against the raid is just exact the level 115 epic one-handed sword "King's Defender" comes from Karazhan.
On Plapla there is something pure and something valueable which has been lost in game for such a long time, so when we discover it someday, it is just so fantastic and makes us feel a way of which we have to recall to become original, because that's who we are, that's why we call it RPG, and that's why we are gaming for.
Let's change the topic. Sapphiron has gone?
If you click this original paladin screenshot you may be amazed at the overground tombs. In the original screenshot, Muradin Bronzebeard's room were clustered with tombs instead of skeletons. It might sound ridiculous, but yes, around the world only Chinese WoWers will not get any skeletons but a tomb after their characters died. Comical for a bit.. sure..but which make them more sadder is -- their Sapphiron has gone.
The Chinese wowers knew all along that their new expansion will be changed befor coming into China. When they are guessing that what kind Sapphiron would be like in WoTLK, The 9 (the WoW operator in China) tell them that your Sapphiron has gone by the 'Echoes of Doom' patch. The complaining Chinese WoWers made some pics to express their discontent.
Do you still complain bitterly that Blizzard have not give your enough DPS, or you should have more control skills? Maybe you envy those guys who can raid in Naxxramas day to night with full of epic equipments, and what you can do, is poorly doing the endless daily quests. Seriously in fact, you don't have to think this way, because there is still one huge WoW community on the other side of the earth now is looking at you with endless jealousy in their eyes for just one fair reason: They don't have WoTLK.
And like it or not, they are Chinese WoWers. Pity for them that they still have to get stuck in The Buring Crusade, raiding those nerfed bosses or killing time in Arenas. Yes, China is the only country who has bought the ticket to Northrend but is too unlucky to get on the boat. You ask me why? This is because of their game review mechanism. Just like some of our scholars believe that WoW is too much violent, their Culture Department think it necessary to change some content of the game that adapt it to their culture and thought. The changed content include bone Undead, bowels-gush-out abominations, the overground skeleton after death....uh... Sapphiron, the innocent bone dragon, of course. Now, Chinese WoWers are still waitting for review result. Before, they had waited TBC for half a year after Blizzard announced it. This time how long will they have to wait? Who knows. In fact, many roily chinese players had been transferred to the TaiWan server to enjoy the scenery of Northrend. Now let's have a look at the WOW with Chinese characteristics.
China Version Abomination, underwent surgical stitching...
Bone or flesh, that is a question.
Which is your tombstone?
Blizzard has announced that World of Warcaft has reached 11.5 million subscribers and that Wrath of the Lich King has sold 4 million copies in its first month, breaking sales records that were previously set by The Burning Crusade.
IRVINE, Calif. - December 23, 2008 - Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today
announced that World of Warcraft®, its award-winning subscription-based
massively multiplayer online role-playing game, is now played by more than 11.5
million subscribers worldwide. This new high was reached following the November
13 release of the game’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King™.
Within its first 24 hours of availability, Wrath of the Lich King sold
more than 2.8 million copies, making it the fastest-selling PC game of all time.
In addition to winning a number of editor’s choice awards from major gaming
publications, the expansion has now gone on to sell more than 4 million copies
in its first month, setting a new record for monthly PC-game sales. Both sales
records were previously held by World of Warcraft's first expansion, The Burning
Labels: World of Warcraft News
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
While getting your character(s) to eighty is obviously a focus with the new expansion, another grind to keep in mind is the faction grind. There have been some major changes to the faction grind in Wrath of the Lich King.
Let's get the important news in first. Quoted from WorldofWarcraft.com:
Northrend Special Reputation Tabards:
If you're friendly with certain Northrend dungeon factions (Wyrmrest Accord, Knights of the Ebon Blade, Kirin Tor and Argent Crusade only), you can wear that faction's tabard to any level 80 dungeon and funnel all the rep to that faction. Make sure you pick up your tabard as soon as you can!
Raising faction is much more enjoyable than in the past. Now you can run any level 80 or heroic dungeon and accrue the reputation of your choice....as long as your choice is one of the four factions that have tabards. Tabards can be purchased once your reputation with that faction reaches Friendly. Additionally, running the regular dungeon daily results in the award of a token good for faction rep with one of the four tabard factions. Just choose the faction you wish to focus on and faction gains should fly compared with past reputation grinds. I still suffer the occasional Naga nightmare after grinding my way to Exalted with the Sporeggar.
The rewards are great, so everyone will want to work up their reputation with the various factions of Northrend, but which to focus on? Everyone will want Sons of Hodir faction. This is where the WotLK shoulder enhancements are obtained. Lesser Inscriptions can be obtained at Honored. These are roughly equivalent to the Aldor/Scryer shoulder enhancements. Greater Inscriptions are available at the Exalted level. There is no tabard associated with this faction, but there are a number of daily quests, which will yield both Hodir faction and gold. One begins as Hated with the Sons of Hodir. To get to Friendly and have access to the daily quests, there is a long quest chain that must be completed. This chain begins with the quest "They Took our Men!," which is given by Gretchen Fizzlespark in the town of K3 in the Storm Peaks. There are 3 daily quests that can be done at Friendly and the number of available dailies increases as one gains reputation. At Friendly the quests are "Polishing the Helm," "Hot and Cold" and "Blowing Hodir's Horn." At Honored the daily quests "Spy Hunter" and "Thrusting Hodir's Spear" become available. At Revered "Feeding Amgrim" is added.
There is a repeatable quest that yields 350 Hodir rep, "Everfrost." Look for an Everfrost chip, a small icy stalagmite found in the areas in and around Dun Niffelem, the Valley of Ancient Winters, Frostfield Lake, Thunderfall, Fjorn's Forge and the Storm Peaks areas immediately bordering these zones. Your first Everfrost chip starts a quest. Once you turn in that first chip, it is a repeatable quest. You can turn in many Everfrost chips each day, assuming you can find them. Competition to find these chips is keen and the respawn rate is slow.
After the Sons of Hodir, the decision on faction focus on depends on you class. In addition to shoulder enhancements, players will want to secure head enhancements, which are available at Revered. Tanks will find their Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector is available from the Argent Crusade. Melee DPS will want to work their reputation with the Knights of the Ebon Blade to obtain the Arcanum of Torment. Casters have two choices. The Arcanum of Burning Mysteries (Kirin Tor) adds 30 to Spell Power and 20 to Critical Strike. The Arcanum of Blissful Mending (Wyrmrest Accord) adds the same 30 Spell Power but gives 8 mana every 5 seconds while casting, rather than crit.
There are daily reputation quests available for Argent Crusade reputation. "Slaves to Saronite, "Pa'Troll" and "Congratulations." "Pa'Troll" is really 4 mini quests. "Congratulations" is for finishing all four sections of "l" in within 20 minutes.
There are six daily quests available from the Ebon Blade. These are "From their Corpses Rise!," "Intelligence Gathering," "Leave our Mark," :No Fly Zone," "Vile like Fire!" and "Shoot 'em Up." Three of the quests are found at Death's Rise and the other three at the Shadow Vault.
There is only one generally available daily quest for the Kirin Tor. That is the daily cooking quest for 150 points of reputation. There is also a daily quest for jewelcrafters that yields 75 reputation points.
The Wyrmrest Accord has 3 daily quests for faction rep. "Defending Wyrmrest Temple" is found at the temple in Dragonblight. "Drake Hunt and "Ace's High" are found in Coldarra.
Jewelcrafters will find patterns scattered among all eight Northrend factions. There are thirteen Jewelcrafting patterns available from the eight different factions. To get all the jewelcrafting patterns will take some time. Honored will be needed with The Kalu'ak. Revered is needed with Argent Crusade, Frenzyheart and The Oracles. Exalted is required to obtain all jewelcrafting patterns from the Argent Crusade, the Kirin Tor, the Knights of the Ebon Blade, the Sons of Hodir and the Wyrmrest Accord. There's lots of grinding for the JC who wants the full compliment of recipes.
Three factions give Leatherworking patterns. The Kalu'ak have the pattern for the Dragonscale Ammo Pouch (28 slot ammo) available at Honored and the Trapper's Traveling Pack (28 slot leatherworking) available at Revered. The Sons of Hodir have the pattern for the Mammoth Mining bag (32 slot mining), which can be obtained at Honored. The Knights of the Ebon Blade have the pattern for the Nerubian Reinforced Quiver (28 slot quiver) for sale at Honored.
There are two spellthread patterns available through faction reputation. The Brilliant Spellthread (+50 Spell Power, +20 Spirit) can be purchased at Exalted with the Argent Crusade. The Sapphire Spellthread (+50 Spell Power, +30 Stamina) is available from the Kirin Tor at Exalted. Spellthreads are enhancements for pants.
There are three patterns for bags. The pattern for the Abysmal Bag (32 slot soul shard) is available from the Knights of the Ebon Blade at Revered. The Mysterious Bag (32 slot Enchanting) pattern is from the Wyrmrest Accord at Revered. The highly desirable 22 slot Glacial Bag pattern can be purchased from the Sons of Hodir at Exalted.
Alliance Vanguard/Horde Expedition
Reputation gains with these groups come from completing quests for the combined Alliance and Horde factions. Rewards of note are a PvP helm enhancement and the engineering schematic for the Mekgineer's Chopper/Mechano-hog vehicles. These items can be purchased at Exalted.
Armor, Weapons, etc.
There are a large number of other items available for purchase through faction reputation. In addition to the traditional armor and weapon pieces, there are non-combat pets, costumes, mounts and even a special fishing pole. Wowwiki does an excellent job of covering the various rewards available through faction reputation, as well as the daily quests available to enhance reputation gains.
You'll need to map out the reputations strategy that works for you. As for me, I am working on the Sons of Hodir for the shoulder enhancement. As a bonus, I'll get the pattern for the 22 slot Glacial bag, as my main is a tailor. I'm presently at Honored, so I make a point of doing the 5 daily quests for the Sons of Hodir and always have my eyes peeled for an Everfrost chip to spawn when I am in Storm Peaks.
I am simultaneously focusing on Kirin Tor rep, so I can get the Arcanum of Burning Mysteries head enhancement and the Sapphire thread pattern. I do the daily cooking quest and wear my Kirin Tor tabard when running dungeons.
If I have time, I will run additional dailies, but for the time being, those two are my main focus. Check out the various factions and pick the ones that will work best for your character build and professions. There are so many factions, so many nice rewards and so little time.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Dec 11th, 2008Oh boy. Deborah Tate is an FCC Commissioner (and will be for another three years at least -- she was appointed for another five year term in 2007), and claimed in a speech about telecom policy and regulation last week that "one of the top reasons for college drop-outs in the U.S. is online gaming addiction -- such as World of Warcraft -- which is played by 11 million individuals worldwide."
Never mind that World of Warcraft, is a game, not an addiction, and never mind that most of those 11 million people play it and are completely healthy socially and financially, and never mind even that any evidence you'd find that World of Warcraft causes dropouts is anecdotal at best. Can you really blame a game for someone making the choice to leave college? We, as you might have guessed, think not.
And there's more: Tate's Wikipedia page says that not only has she spoken out strongly in favor of DRM, and not only has she taken talking points directly from Clear Channel in trying to work on the Sirus/XM merger (a government official speaking the words of a corporation, that's just what we need), but she has also blamed television for childhood obesity. Nice one. One more reason why we are thrilled to see that we may finally get some folks in the FCC who actually know what they're talking about when it comes to online gaming.
Need a laugh? It's Abott and Costello World of Warcraft Style! Let us know if you can figure out Who's the Tank.
Labels: WoW Jokes
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Spirit of Ha-Khalan was tameable, so some Hunters got really cool, transluscent crocolisk pets. I mean, who needs Spirit Beasts? Entertainingly enough, the other two quest mobs were also classified as beasts and were likewise tameable. Eventually some Hunters were running around with a spooky hydra or, like my friend, a disgusting little pile of snot.
Aside from waiting for the right daily quest, these pets aren't nearly as hard to tame as the ghost wolves of yore. Will Blizzard let Hunters keep their slimy little companions just as some lucky few were able to keep their spirit guides? We'll see. Hopefully. What's so wrong about a slime that thinks it's a crocolisk, anyway? The pets are considered Crocolisks and share Crocolisk family traits, with the Bad Attitude special ability and Tenacity talent tree.
World of Warcraft continues to find ways to trickle beyond our virtual lives and into our day to day real lives. In Beijing, a new restaurant has opened up with a Warcraft theme, from the decor to the food. The entrance, which you can see above, is designed to look like the Dark Portal (The Burning Crusade's intro screen) and the interior walls are lined with artwork from the game and shots of characters in epic gear. TV screens throughout the restaurant play footage of the game, too.
The food itself is even based on the game, and while CCTV.com reports that the menu is named after denizens of WoW, I wonder if they borrowed anything from the in-game recipes. The food shown in CCTV's video definitely looks Chinese in style, so I doubt you'll find anything there you would see in our very American Well Fed Buff, but that's probably a good thing. Personally, I'd love to see a menu. I'm also curious if this restaurant was given the go ahead from Blizzard or the9, or if they even need it.
Labels: World of Warcraft News
Monday, December 01, 2008
Trinkets are interesting items. They have different abilities and uses best suited for the situation at hand. Here is the majority of trinkets that I believe us healers would be interested in the most and my initial thoughts on them. I've even recommended a few of them for us Priests!Soul Preserver: Kill Mal'Ganis in CoT: Stratholme, and you might get this decent trinket. This one of the first trinkets I acquired at 80 and it served me well. I had a lot of mana problems early on and this helped ease the pain. Resto Druids may wish to look at this trinket as well. I don't know if it procs off of HoT ticks or just spell casts. Comments on WoW Head reveal that it has no internal cooldown either. It can also proc off of every jump from Chain Heal for the Resto Shamans.
Cannoneer's Morale: This comes from the sweet Icecrown quest where you defend the Argent encampment by commandeering the base defenses. You don't even need this trinket as a reason to do it. Go do it! It's loads of fun! It offers a solid 22 mana per 5 and it can boost your spell power by 281 whenever you need it. It's easy to obtain.
Wingted Talisman: Bigger brother to the Cannoneer's Morale. Obtainable from Halls of Lightning on heroic.
Mercurial Alchemist Stone: Limited to Alchemists, it's a good introductory and profession trinket. I honestly don't know how well it will do compared to higher end trinkets. The 1 potion per fight rule does make the bonus lackluster. Nonetheless, it's a great introductory level trinket.
Talisman of Troll Divinity: This comes from heroic Drak'Tharaon Keep. Try to gun for this one if you can. It has a lot of Spirit and the use effect is nice for AoE related encounters. Pop it and spam your AoE healing spells. Everyone affected by your heals will also get the bonus. Remember that other healing classes will benefit indirectly as your targets gain the increased healing done to them. Matticus recommended
Figurine – Sapphire Owl: Sadly, I believe this is available to Jewelcrafters only. It has a godly amount of mana return on it and it also has 2 blue sockets available for you to gem it with!
Forge Ember: Drops from heroic Halls of Stone. I would pass on this but if there's no one else, it's still something. The proc's an eye opener for sure.
Spirit-World Glass: Oh, Earring of Soul Meditation I missed you. It seems to drop from Gothik in normal Naxx. It's not limited to just Priests anymore. I suspect Resto Druids may wish to exercise option on this. Pop it and watch the mana flow. Matticus recommended
Majestic Dragon Figurine: The mechanic is similar to the Illustration of the Dragon Soul (below). During prolonged encounters, you'll gain a constant 180 Spirit as long as you keep casting spells (like Levitate). Comes from the normal version of Obsidian Sanctum.
Embrace of the Spider: Increases your spell power by 98. If it procs, expect to see some really fast heals. Pair this with The Egg of Mortal Essence. It seems both the Embrace and the Egg can activate at the same time for ~1000 haste. I can see the Paladins salivate now. Obtainable from Maexxna in normal mode Naxxramas.
Darkmoon Card: Greatness: What the heck do Priests want with Agility? Did Matt lose his marbles? This is but one version of the trinket I could find. The other versions of the trinket offer 90 Strength, Intellect or Spirit. For the Priests, I'd say snag the 90 Spirit version of this. The proc chosen is calculated by your highest stat. This one is assembled from the Nobles deck.
Darkmoon Card: Illusion: Decent entry level trinket for Priests. I'm not sure if I would go out of my way for it. Some raid encounters have a 5 minute enrage timer. This means you'll get one use out of it per fight. If you're lucky, you might be able to use it twice. Assemble this from the Prisms deck.
Soul of the Dead: Snag this trinket from Sapphiron. I'm going to say this trinket may be better off for a Disc Priest than a Holy Priest. WoW Head commenters peg it with a 45 second internal cooldown. I would probably prioritize this for Holy Paladins and Resto Shamans. I'm sure there may be a few DPS casters interested in this trinket.
Illustration of the Dragon Soul: Drops off of Sartharion. The deal with these types of trinkets is that it takes a while before it reaches its full potential. Once you get going in a fight, you're looking at an overall increase of 260 spell power. Every cast seems to refresh the duration of the buff no matter how many stacks you have on. It literally kicks in off of every spell. It's good for not just healers but for casters as well. Even if there's a part in the encounter where you're not supposed to do any healing or DPSing, pop a few free spells to refresh it (like Levitate)!
Forethought Talisman: Hell yes. If you get the opportunity to snag one of these bad boys, go for it. Especially for the Holy Priests, this trinket will rock. Shamans and even Holy Paladins may wish to give this trinket a glance. It seems that Earth Shield can proc the affect. And why Paladins of all classes? A Glyphed Holy Light counts as a direct heal on all players affected by it. It does not appear to proc on multiple targets simultaneously (Example: It seems to proc on one target off of Circle of Healing). Nonetheless, it is a very good trinket. Matticus recommended
Living Ice Crystals: This trinket is obtainable after taking down Malygos in Heroic mode. I think this trinket may be better off in the hands of a Resto Shaman or a Holy Paladin. The on use effect is nice for the rare encounters where the entire raid gets silenced for a few minutes. It reminds me of Vial of the Sunwell 2.0 (without the need to build up charges). I don't think it's affected by spell power so you're stuck with the ~2710 healing burst every minute.
Have fun and happy healing! There's nothing wrong with picking up an extra trinket or two (assuming no one else needs it) so that you can swap to them if necessary!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Raiding is going to start for many players soon, if it hasn't already. Hunters, even with the major overhaul of the pet system, every single pet will not maximize your raid potential. While many hunters probably have a gorilla leftover from levelling using the new Volley, that's not really the pet you want for a high level instance. Having just hit 80, and with the call from your guild going out soon, you should probably go ahead and tame that raid pet. This article will show the main pet options and inform hunters where to get them.
advertisement While pet levelling speed has been increased by 30%, it's still a drag to grind mobs just to help fluffy out. Though if your levelling pet is going to be your raid pet and he's only a level or two behind, there's no reason to not just take him along to the raid since he'll be maxed soon enough. The entire point of a hunters pet in a raid setting, much like the hunter them self actually, is to deal DPS. So out of the three pet talent trees (Cunning, Ferocity, Tenacity), raid hunters will want to choose a pet from the Ferocity tree due to its +10% damage boost. The only time a hunter might not want a Ferocity pet is if they have the 51 point BM talent, Beast Mastery, allowing them to tame an exotic pet.
Once the "class" of pet has been chosen, Ferocity, the next most important issue is what secondary skill does the pet have. A pet with a DPS sort of skill will be the best choice. Of course every pet has some sort of "focus dump" damage dealing ability, but for a raid pet a hunter will want a pet whose secondary ability also increases DPS.
Cats are a mainstay for most hunters. They were incredibly popular in TBC because for a long time they dealt the most damage, it's as simple as that. Of course later on Ravagers and Wind Serpents became popular as well. The cats extra ability is called Rake. The maximum rank of Rake deals around 46-72 damage, with a 10 second cool down.
A Raptor’s secondary skill is called Savage Rend. It deals between 122-164 damage, with a 1 minute cool down. Compared to a cat’s rake, at first glance this looks like a lesser skill. Savage Rend is able to crit. though, providing it more damage and increasing the Raptor’s damage by 10% for 30 seconds. Using Kill Command before each Savage Rend will be the best option in order to maximize this pet’s DPS. A BM hunter that already has all of the other critical strike increasing talents will probably find more use from this pet then either MM or SV. So this may be the pet of choice for any hunter that goes deep BM but doesn't pick up exotics.
A Wolf’s secondary skill buffs their attack power and that of the raid by 10%. This ability does not stack with most other raid buffs, so taking a wolf to a 25 man raid will be pointless over a Raptor or Cat. Depending on the composition of a 10 man raid, it is possible for this to be a useful ability.
If you've taken 51 points in the Beast Mastery tree and gotten exotic pets, there is no reason you would want a normal pet for a raid. The talent itself further boosts exotic pet DPS by 10%. Even among the exotic pets there is a king for raid DPS, and that is the Devilsaur. The other two Ferocity pets just don't match up. Again, just like with the above mentioned wolves, exotic pets provide a number of extra abilities that in certain situations can be useful. Raid buffs such as lowering the targets armor. Of course because of the new buff system in place with WotLK, these abilities will probably not be needed in a 25 man environment, but for a 10 man raid it's possible that they provide a needed boost.
Devilsaur. For maximum DPS, this is what you want. Causing 91-123 damage every 10 seconds, as well as increasing its damage output by 3%, and stacking three times. This pet effectively increases its output by 9% more then any other exotic pet. There's no doubt that the 9% damage buff will stay on the pet either, because of the BM talent Longevity which lowers the cool down on pet abilities. Even if the Devilsaur misses once or twice, they won't suddenly lose their 9% buff.
The only other exotic pet that might be wanted in a 25 man raid is a Worm. A Worm’s secondary ability is Acid Spit, which besides dealing a good amount of damage (124-176 every 10 seconds) also applies an armor debuff identical to Sunder Armor. With the introduction of DKs into the tanking scene, as well as feral druids and protection paladins already there, on any boss fight where a warrior is not tanking, the Worm can provide the same Sunder Armor effect while allowing any warriors in the raid to just DPS. Depending on your guild’s raid composition, a BM hunter may be asked to specifically bring this pet.
Pet Talent Trees
At this point there are two talent points left over and a number of options. Maxing out Bloodthirsty and picking up Heart of the Phoenix could be useful. It not only saves you time when the pet dies to random cleaves on trash, but saves you a lot of DPS in the middle of a boss fight. If you're in a 10 man raid this is what you should grab. For a 25 man, most times if your pet dies then the fight was designed to kill your pet anyway. If you are a BM hunter then this is also where these last two points should go without exception. Unlike a MM or SV hunter who is okay not having a pet for a pet killer boss, the BM hunter gains a good amount of DPS just having their pet alive next to them.
Now if the hunter is BM and has the 51 point BM talent, then they gain an additional 4 talent points. The hunter should pick up Heart of the Phoenix if they haven't already, and then grab Lick your Wounds and fill out Great Stamina. If they have, then they should just max out Spiked Collar. Below are links to three sample builds for the Ferocity Tree for raiding. The first example is for a DPS build without as much survival. The second example is for more survival and less DPS. And the third example is for 51 point BM hunter who can grab both.
Sample 1 - Pure DPS
Sample 2 - Surviving
Sample 3 - 51 points in BM
For now, taking a straight DPS pet for 25 man raiding is the best option. Though with the Naxxramas raids being considered introductory, a hunter maximizing their ability as was seen in mid to late TBC is not necessary yet. It may never be necessary, but either way there will be damage parses in the next few months showing one pet or another as the top DPS pet. If you don't care much about your personal DPS and neither does the rest of your guild, there's no reason not to take any pet you want... except flying pets because they tend to cloud peoples screens and piss them off... and not noisy pets because they also annoy people... and if you're doing less damage then the tank, you need to worry about something other then just your pet.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The other day, in response to a Hunter pet tanking Gruul, I posted a video of a Voidwalker tanking Illidan... almost. The Voidwalker survived most of phase one, which is quite nearly identical to all of the 'humanoid' phases, so to me that was good enough. It wasn't good enough for everyone though, so they're back with a video of the entire fight.
The Voidwalker tanks all of the phases except for the fire elemental phase, because that requires far more finesse than what you can do with a pet, or they can do on their own. The Voidwalker also didn't tank the demon phase, because there wasn't one. Their gear levels combined with the new talents of patch 3.0.2 and the added raid nerf let them beat the encounter without ever seeing an entire phase of it. That's like opening a bag of Runts to find out someone took all of the bananas. The bananas are the best part, you jerks.
I'm a big fan of McSweeney's, the web home of Dave Eggers' McSweeney's publishing house (and whenever I can, I try to help out 826 CHI, the Chicago chapter of their writing center) -- they offer up quick little humor pieces every weekday in addition to various events and shows around the country. And the other day, as a few readers have kindly informed us, they focused their literary light on World of Warcraft -- writer Tyler Curry has a fun piece about how he was forced to choose between the game and the woman he loved.
It is very funny to hear WoW locales and situations stuck in between the usual patter of a couple in a relationship, and though this is, we presume, a fictional account of something that Dr. Phil claims happens all the time, it's well-written. Plus, the dig at "role-players" made us chuckle, too.
But we do have one nit to pick, one issue in here that we just can't ignore and/or laugh casually at as we're obviously meant to. Seriously, with the leveling changes since 2.3, why would anyone run Gnomeregan anymore? If he doesn't know that there are much easier and more profitable ways to level through that range, maybe he deserves to be dumped anyway.
Monday, October 27, 2008
There are many ways to fight bad guys and farm WoW Gold in the game World of Warcraft. One way is to solo quest and grind. While this is mandatory at times, it's a pretty silly way to play an online multiplayer. Another way to play WOW is in a group. Playing in a group is super fun, but it is also kind of hard to get five people interested in the same goals at the same time. Groups are the wonderful exception, not the rule.
A great middle ground between the friendless soloing and the rare five-man group, is "soloing together".
When you solo, you have to manage your own health, you have to watch your own back, and you have to be able to kill a monster all by yourself.
In a group, everything operates under a different dynamic. The tank has to be kept healed. Certain mobs have to be crowd controlled, and kept out of the action for a time. And the good guys that fire from a distance don't have to worry about getting smacked around, since the tank is keeping the bad guys off their backs.
Soloing together means that each member of the team works just like he's alone, and takes care of himself. They just happen to attack the same monster at the same time.
An excellent example of this sort of team, is a Mage/Rogue combination. Both Mages and Rogues can take care of themselves on solo missions, and are each the hardest hitting class in their category. The two highest DPS classes on the same bad guy means a lot of fun, and a very quick fight.
First, let's give an introduction to the Mage and Rogue classes.
How Mages Fight
Mages have to watch several things in a fight. In order to know what to watch for, you have to know how they fight.
First, they fight with spells. They can carry daggers, staves and wands, but they are mostly for the stats, and if a Mage is forced down to the "hit it with a stick" level, he's pretty much dead.
Next, spells take mana. The more mana a Mage has, the more fire and brimstone he can rain down upon his enemies. And if you run out, run like you're getting attacked by skeletons, because you probably are.
It's important that you don't get hit physically too much, because you're a paper class, and paper rips easy. They call Mages the glass cannons for a reason. They can take down an enemy faster than nearly any class if played right, but they can hit the ground dead real fast if you don't watch it.
So to recap, make sure you have lots of mana and stay as far away as possible from the dudes you are killing. Getting gear with intellect buffs will give you a larger mana pool, and getting intellect enchants always helps. If you don't take on enemies too high, and only take one enemy at a time, it shouldn't be that big of a problem. Regular firebolts and frostbolts are all a beginner needs to kill things left and right.
How Rogues Fight
Rogues are a little more straight-foreward than mages, at least at first glance. (There is a ton to them at end game, don't get me wrong.) They don't have mana at all, and do all of their special attacks using energy. There isn't any way to get more energy, short of special talents or Thistle Tea. Energy refills so fast, this almost isn't an issue. It takes a few seconds to go from no energy at all to completely full.
Rogues are a physical combat class, and they like to hit things early and often. Due to their dual-weilding and immense amounts of agility, no other class hits an enemy as frequently as a Rogue. There are only two special moves you need to know to be a beginner Rogue. These moves are Sinister Strike, and Eviscerate.
Sinister Strike is a Combo Move, which means that every time you hit someone with it, you are awarded a combo point. You can't have more than five combo points racked up, so as soon as you hit five, you should use a finishing move, or you are being inefficient.
Eviscerate is a finishing move, which means that it uses up your combo points and hits for a special effect. The special effect in the case of Eviscerate, is simply lots of instant damage. The more combo points the better. If you use Eviscerate with five combo points, it should pack a nice wallop.
The only thing a Rogue should really keep an eye on is its health, and accidentally attracting more monsters than it can fight. There aren't many ways to heal in the middle of a battle, so if your enemy is too powerful, you'll have to retreat, or start planning your ghost run.
Mages and Rogues Working Together
No two-man team I have ever tried takes an enemy down faster than a Mage and a Rogue. It was loads of fun for me.
I was playing a Rogue, and a guy that used a lot of ice spells just happened to be killing things where I wanted to be. We made a little team and went to town.
The magic of this team, was the fact that either one of us could handle the monsters alright by ourselves. When we both ganged up on the same creature, that guy went down FAST. We went from zombie to skeleton to zombie without ever stopping.
When I got too low on health, I would give myself first aid. Then, I'd jump right back in smacking evil. When the Mage ran out of mana, he'd drop back and drink up, while I went ahead and sliced things to shreds.
We were a lot more reckless in this situation, but the dance with death was never more fun.
Labels: WoW Gold Guides
Though I enjoy burning down raid bosses as much as the next Mage (especially now that the raid bosses in question are so much easier to burn down), I make no secret about the fact that my first love has always been burning down other players. When patch 3.0.2 landed so forcefully upon our heads, bearing with it a plethora of new and revamped spells and talents, I have to admit that my first burning question was not so much "how will this help me down Kil'jaeden," as it was "how will this help me brutally slaughter the next Warlock I stumble across?"
Before the patch, Mage PvP could be distilled down to a couple of absolute truths. The first of these was: Spec Frost. The second was: You will lose to Warlocks, Druids, Priests, Hunters, and Rogues, and only reliably beat Warriors one on one. PvP was a known quantity. We knew based upon the matchup what our chances were, we knew our strengths and limitations, and we knew which spec worked the best (cough...17/0/44).
The patch turned all of that on its head. What spells work now? What talents should we be taking? Are we better or worse off now than we were two weeks ago? Join me after the break and we'll see where we stand.I won't be linking specific talent builds here, as I'm still ironing out my own builds. I simply wouldn't feel comfortable recommending anything specific to you when I'm not even comfortable recommending anything to myself. Instead, I intend to take a broader view of the three schools as a whole, noting their pros and cons, a general strategy for each, and which aspects of PvP they excel at.
This is the build I've had the most hands-on time with, and I have to say I'm impressed. At first, I was worried about the low survivability I was seeing. Aside from incredibly high spell resistances via Magic Absorption and the minor mitigation of talents like Arcane Fortitude, Improved Blink, and Prismatic Cloak, there just isn't much here to keep you from dying like the clothie you are. I soon discovered that the problem lay not with the tree itself, but with my play-style.
I was going into battle with the old, stand-in-one-place-and-unload mentality that the Arcane tree used to require. That idea is gone now. The Arcane tree is now designed for mobility. Spells like Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles that require you to stand still and cast are relics of the past. The primary PvP spell for Arcane Mages is now Arcane Barrage. An Arcane Mage should now be constantly moving in PvP, running and Blinking from cover to cover, launching out Arcane Barrages every three seconds, applying Slow when needed, squeezing in the occasional Fire Blast or Arcane Explosion as the situation dictates, and pausing only to rattle off a truncated Arcane Missiles whenever Missile Barrage procs, or to throw out a Polymorph when control is needed.
Arcane Barrage provides strong, consistent damage while on the move, and burst damage comes with decent frequency whenever Missile Barrage procs. Presence of Mind can be coupled with Frostbolt for snare purposes, or Arcane Blast when raw damage is more useful. Arcane Missiles is still useful in the same situations it was pre-patch, as a way to ensure damage when the target is about to duck out of line-of-sight.
Survivability is low if caught in the open, but this spec provides a surprising sense of slipperiness. Use the mobility provided by Arcane Barrage to pillar-dance, ducking back and forth behind cover between casts. Blink and Frost Nova provide escape mechanisms, as well as instant-fade Invisibility (as long as you don't have any nasty DoTs on you that would break it). The key here is to remain constantly mobile, and constantly casting. Ice Block is even more helpful in this situation, as it can be coupled with Invisibility to provide an almost Rogue-like getaway mechanic. Ice Block removes the DoTs, and instant-Invis lets you flee unseen to wherever you please (unless you're fighting a Warlock, of course).
Slow is powerful control option, allows you to stay mobile, and increases your damage when coupled with Torment the Weak. Focus Magic keeps your crits high if used on a teammate who casts and crits frequently. Improved Counterspell is still the powerful tool it always was, and hasn't lost any of its luster among all of the changes. Arcane Flows lowers the cooldown on your two single biggest DPS boosts (Presence of Mind and Arcane Power) to a very agreeable two minutes, and does the same for your new most useful escape spell, Invisibility.
Overall, this tree is possibly the most mobile of the three, provides high DPS, decent burst capability, very nice control mechanics, and a pleasant amount of escape options to offset an otherwise low survivability. I have very few complaints with the Arcane tree as it relates to PvP.
Fire is still the least attractive of the three trees for PvP purposes. Fire Mages have always been the poster children for "kill fast, die faster," and the patch hasn't done much of anything to change that concept. If anything, the changes have reinforced the high-damage, low survivability role of Fire Mages, rather than attempt to diminish it. Still, nobody can bring the pain quickly like a Fire Mage, and with an expanded AoE repertoire and a few new tricks up their sleeves, Fire Mages have a unique place in the PvP hierarchy.
As always, damage is king with Fire Mages. Crits come often and hit hard with talents like Combustion, Hot Streak, and Burnout, and the potential for blowing the crap out of multiple targets has never been better. Potentially, nobody kills more payers faster than a Fire Mage. With Firestarter, you can now throw out a guaranteed instant Flamestrike every time you cast Blast Wave or Dragon's Breath. Doing it right takes a little luck and a decent amount of skill, but when it works, that's a lot of damage to a lot of targets, very quickly. You still won't last long in the middle of that crowd, but they'll definitely know you were there after they've reduced you to a spot on the ground. Throwing a Living Bomb in the middle of that pile of enemies and the damage will add up very quickly.
Blast Wave's knockback effect is one of the most useful new mechanics you'll find in PvP for Mages. The knockback is substantial, and can wreak havoc in certain situations. It can only be used every thirty seconds, so save it for certain situations, like knocking an entire group of enemies off the cliff at the lumber mill flag in Arathi Basin, or blowing attackers out of towers in Alterac Valley or out of the flag room in Warsong Gulch. Words cannot describe the death you can deal with a well-placed Blast Wave in Eye of the Storm.
As you may already have guessed, Fire Mages are still not ideal Arena combatants. They simply cannot live long enough to unleash their considerable damage capabilities in that compressed environment. Survivability options, as always, are low. Fire Mages are limited to the all-too-unpredictable Blazing Speed, and the always useful Blink and Ice Block as escape/survival abilities. For control purposes, Frost Nova, the ubiquitous Polymorph, and Impact--which is too infrequent to truly depend upon--are the only options. The problem, as always with Fire Mages in an Arena setting, is that they are not only fragile but also sitting ducks, as they queue up their high-damage cast-time-heavy spells. Living Bomb provides a bit of mobility, but not nearly as much as is needed. In Battlegrounds, this isn't as large an issue, but it's crippling in Arenas.
Fiery Payback is a very interesting PvP spell. It provides a decent amount of damage mitigation when below 35% health, as well as a really sexy burst damage option. Nothing says "boom, you're dead" like a 1.5 second Pyroblast to the face every five seconds. When this talent is active, you'll take 20% less damage across the board, and be able to churn out a Fireball/Scorch/Pyroblast rotation with Fire Blast sandwiched in as cooldown permits, and inflict damage like no spell rotation has ever inflicted in the history of spell rotations inflicting damage. The problem, of course is that this rotation--like every Fire rotation--requires you to stand still, and it also requires you to BE AT LESS THAN 35% HEALTH. Good luck with that. My advice is to hide behind a tree, and hope nobody notices you.
In short, a Fire Mage can be very effective in Battleground PvP. When they can line up a target at range and rain fiery death down upon them for a few seconds, Fire Mages can kill very effectively. Their AoE skills are unmatched, and have greater application in the large-scale conflict found in places like Alterac Valley and Eye of the Storm. Sadly, low survivability and mobility still plague them in Arena, and you're simply better off taking a different spec into those close-quarters, short-duration encounters.
Before the patch Frost was the undisputed king of Mage PvP. After the patch, it totally still is. With very few exceptions, everything that worked before works just as effectively (if not more so) now. Ice Barrier is still awesome. Shatter combos still work beautifully. There are some fun new additions that come into the mix post-patch, though, and they're almost universally impressive.
The hallmark of Frost has always been control and survivability, and those two strengths have only been enhanced. Control is still provided largely by Frost Nova, Polymorph, and the chill effect provided by Frostbolt. Frost Mages can still play a virtually endless game of keep-away with melee classes, and dish out high and frequent burst damage with Shatter combos. The end of downranking has negated the old practice of throwing out quick-cast, low-mana snares with rank one Frostbolt, which sucks, but life goes on. By and large, the tactics that won a fight for Frost Mages two weeks ago still win the fight for them today.
Several major additions only enhance those tactics. Fingers of Frost allows your chill effects to apply a debuff that will consider the target frozen for the next two spells, and procs with solid frequency. This means your enemies will be frozen more often, which means more shatter combos, and that means more killing. Shattered Barrier gives you a reason to let your Ice Barrier expire, setting off a free Frost Nova, which again, means more control, more freezing, more Shatter combos, and yes, more killing. Improved Water Elemental, in addition to restoring mana to you and your allies, also increases the duration of your big blue buddy by 15 seconds, while Cold as Ice lowers his cooldown by 20%, which means more chill effects, more damage, more freezing, and--say it with me--more killing.
Brain Freeze introduces a fresh wrinkle in PvP for Frost Mages. Proccing as often as Fingers of Frost, it gives Frost Mages a frequent, mana-free, instant-cast Fireball. You will want to be watchful not to waste a charge of Fingers of Frost on it, as it won't benefit from any of the bonuses the Frost tree grants you against frozen targets, but otherwise, it's a free instant nuke, and a flat DPS boost.
My deep and abiding disgust with Deep Freeze is no secret, but PvP is where it fulfills its purpose. Though it only stuns frozen targets, as the previous paragraphs suggest, your targets will be frozen a lot. This spell locks them down completely for five seconds, and it treats them as frozen for the duration, meaning (all together now) more killing. Its sole purpose is control in PvP, and Deep Freeze performs this task with admirable efficiency. I will never stop wishing it had a use outside of Battlegrounds and Arena, but at the very least the spell does what Blizzard has designed it to do, and it does it well.
Frost is still highly mobile, as damaging as it always was, and very hard to kill. Frost Mages can still control a PvP encounter as well as or better than any other class or spec in the game, and the patch has only made that advantage more pronounced.
The final verdict? Though we ceratinly aren't the only class that got buffed in the patch, we are better off now than we were. The dynamic will change again as soon as we all begin the long strange trip to level 80, but for now, Mages are in a fairly good place. Our job is to kill things, and we have more tools with which to accomplish that duty than ever before. So go forth, fellow Mages. Go forth into the Battlegrounds. Go forth into the lag-fest that we once knew as Arenas. Go forth and blow things up. And may all those things you blow up be Warlocks.
Kil'jaeden, the Sunwell Plateau end boss, has had a tough time lately. Since the Echoes of Doom patch, plenty of guilds have breezed through Sunwell and many of those have managed to kill him for the first time, signing off TBC raiding with a bang. Congratulations to them!
This is pretty symptomatic of raiding post-3.0.2 in general -- while nothing on the surface has changed drastically, everything's become a whole lot easier, as increased damage output, decreased mob health and relaxing of raid constraints all add up to great effect. Previously complex encounters become almost trivial and previously trivial encounters become hilarious, with a slight twist of nostalgia when remembering how hard they were first time round.
Of course, having a fundamental understanding of the encounters in their originally designed form, and having a raid force which operates through each boss fight like clockwork, both help. While even the sloppiest PuG is steamrolling content now, you're still going to need people in the raid who know how things like Vashj's cores, Kael's weapons and Archimonde's tears work. Which brings us neatly on to how Black Temple and Sunwell have fared since the patch...
Not exactly the serious raider's favourite instance (due to overfarming, mostly), Black Temple is now a lot shorter and -- hopefully -- this'll sweeten it a bit if you have enough enthusiasm to keep farming it before WotLK. The complexity of pretty much every encounter is trivialised with the changes, although that's not to say you can be entirely complacent.
Naj'entus will (probably) still involve a spine throw, and you'll still have to avoid volcanoes on Supremus (as if you did in the first place!). Teron is trivial and most likely killable even if nobody in the raid can do ghosts. Most of the delicate beauty of Bloodboil co-ordination can be thrown out of the window, and the Reliquary of Souls doesn't live long enough to be a threat. Mother Shahraz's strict shadow resistance requirement can be written off, and while the Illidari Council can still be a tricky pull, the length of the fight -- one of its main challenges -- is drastically reduced. Illidan himself will die without a demon phase for most experienced groups, and can be tanked by a druid now, but you'll still probably want two flame tanks for safety.
One of the common themes with all these fights is that the reduced duration means there's a lot less chance for individual mistakes, such as poor reactions to Shahraz's ports, or poor performance at ghosts. Even if you are one of the unlucky few picked by the RNG, you'll probably still pull it off (or your raid will triumph anyway). If you've been struggling with one of these fights because of too many mistakes cascading into a wipe, it's definitely worth going back and seeing if you can kill it now -- you probably will.
The design of the Sunwell marked a change in direction from Black Temple, ensuring a greater deal of individual responsibility for the raid's welfare -- i.e. if you screwed up in Black Temple only you died, but if you screw up in Sunwell you can wipe the whole raid. As with Black Temple, this is diminished with the changes, but we'd still recommend knowing the fights to some extent before running in and planning to one-shot everything with a PuG.
Kalecgos' portals are still fairly crucial to the encounter; you'll want to make sure your tanks, healers and DPS take portals in mixed groups, though you can change the strategy somewhat. The dragon's health drops fairly fast due to the sheer number of people upstairs at the start, and you need to ensure the demon actually dies in time, so you could assign your best DPSers to go down first regardless of who got ported. It's up to you how you handle it, your old strategy will work just fine, as long as you don't get entirely complacent and forget that tanks in the shadow realm need healing (or similar).
Brutallus still needs to be taunted and the raid needs to not spread Burn, but his health and your DPS means the fight is over so fast it isn't a major problem if people die. Expect to set some juicy new DPS records.
Felmyst seems to be universally dying before her second air phase, and again, is easily killable now if a few people fail to move out of breaths, encapsulates or green beams. Ideally your raid is well experienced at avoiding these fatal spells, and it's almost unfortunate that you can't really assess trialists' performance in this dimension with the fight in its current state. You'll still want to follow the same basic strategy as you did before, to ensure mass dispelling, but as every class can theoretically AoE tank now your protection paladin can finally get a night off.
The Eredar Twins encounter is one where complacency is definitely deadly; there are fewer Conflagrates cast, but that doesn't mean you can blow up the raid! If you don't wipe to conflagrates or the ledge boss, they'll be dead before you can blink.
It's a real shame to see M'uru reduced to a much easier fight; zerging M'uru himself means the blood elf adds can be off-tanked (by one or two tanks, your preference) and the resulting short phase 1 duration allows for one tank to do both sentinels and spawns. Your own version of this might differ, of course, but any way you try to put it, the fight's definitely simplified now. Even if half the raid is unaware of the actual specifics of the encounter, you'll likely still beat it.
And now Kil'jaeden. This is a fight with many complex aspects, and we'd recommend familiarising yourselves with the original version of the encounter before attempting the 3.0.2 version. The change to KJ -- reduced health -- has a lot of knock-on effects, reducing the duration of each phase and thus removing a lot of the danger of the encounter, but there are still basic steps from the original strategy you'll want to take.
For example, although you'll find he only casts Darkness of a Thousand Souls a handful of times -- depending on how fast you kill him -- you still need to know what to do when he does cast it. Meteors will still land, and you'll have to avoid them. The raid still needs to spread out to avoid excessive damage from Fire Bloom and Flame Dart. You will find that the most hectic part of the fight, phase 5, is a lot simpler when it's over so much quicker; also, you can tolerate a lot more personal error than before, so even if a couple of people die to meteors it won't be the end of the world.
As with the other fights in Sunwell, it should be pretty easy to take someone new along and tell them "stand here, when you see a hellfire animation on the ground move there, when you see him casting Darkness move here" without explaining much of the actual fight's mechanics to them. It'd be a shame, of course, to deny people the joy of understanding such a complex encounter, but raiding post-3.0.2 isn't about complexity; it's about zerging content as fast as possible, for levelling gear or simply for the fun of finally having completed endgame.
We'd love to hear more about your post-3.0.2 raiding experiences, so feel free to chip in below! Best of luck to anyone trying these bosses for the first time -- judging by the number of new kills recently, they shouldn't be too difficult for anyone.
The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.
A few weeks ago, we spoke with Drwhy, who had a great deal of positive things to share about his partner, Nostalgia the Rogue. And while the seasons of the Arena are over until Wrath, Nostalgia was kind enough to take the time to talk to us about his experience in the arena. Check out what he had to say behind the cut.WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?
Nostalgia: Right now for 2v2, I'm running a lot of compositions, going back and forth between teams, helping friends, etc. With the season coming to an end, it's really becoming hectic.
The best part is people are actually queuing, whether they are fighting for #1 or just to get Gladiator. The main comp I've always run is Priest/Rogue. (Obviously, With Drwhy). I know he gave an interview about how Priests generally run in that comp, so I guess this will be more of a Rogue point of view.
3v3 is my favorite bracket, although it's much harder finding 2 good players than 1 good player. And playing Drwhy restricts me to pretty much Rogue/Mage/Priest, and Rogue/Priest/Druid. So I've been focusing more on 2s.
The combo of Priest/Rogue actually requires some really good plays from the rogue and priest. Generally, you lose before the gates open, so you just fight uphill. Every Warlock team is easy, up until top notch Warlock/Druids, when it really becomes a challenge.
Warrior teams are pretty much all hard. When we leveled our gladiator team a few weeks ago, we played a Shaman/Warrior in our first game, in the 1500s. He just basically got a WF/WF/Mace stun/Mace stun/Mace stun/Stormherald stun and some more WFs in between. Luckily the Warrior was in S1/S2 gear, but it really dropped him to like 1% and we had to basically change our entire game plan.
Also Rogue/Druid becomes really hard to any team that catches on to our strategy. Also as Rogue/Healer (Priest), games do tend to drag on. If we're losing, we try to reset the fight. So after a while we decided we need to play offensive 99% of the time to win.
Basically, if you saw a Fraps of me and Drwhy playing, you will be wondering why he's not in Shadowform. We're always offensive, as much as possible. I'm always hitting something, even if my current target is getting away. I turn around and hit a healer, go kick something, or just use a Throw on the healer to make sure he doesn't drink. Drwhy is always mana burning, DPSing a pet, always doing something.
WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?
Nostalgia: Gates open, I 90% of the time remain stealthed. Sometimes against mirrors, I need to win the battle for the middle of the map. So, I'd mount up a quarter of the way, unmount and Stealth. If we've been playing another Rogue team with the JC trinket or he's human, I'd pre-Vanish to ensure I don't get sapped.
Against warriors, we have to make sure Drwhy doesn't get charged. So on Blade's Edge, he's using the ramp as LoS. I usually distract, or Sap while he puts a Dispel or a DoT to put him in combat.
Against double DPS (Rogue/X), we try to seperate them. So if they have a Rogue going for Drwhy, I start on their caster and I'll kill their DPS faster than their rogue will kill Drwhy.
If they go for me, I just try to play extremely defensive. Hug pillars to avoid any casts being made on me, Save Cloak for wounds rather than burst.
You always want to save Cloak. My priest has Pain Supression early on, I have Evasions to negate most of the Rogue's damage. Generally if you use Cloak early, there will be another opportunity for them to burst you, and you definately will need Cloak to survive.
WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?
Nostalgia: There are 3 main mods I use.
Afflicted. This is pretty much mandatory for online play. After a while you pretty much don't look at it anymore just because you are so used to all the timers and what's happening and when etc. But for players starting out or just inexperienced, it is reallly REALLY handy.
Make sure you only set up stuff that you really need to look at. There is no point in tracking random stuff like Icy Veins. As a rogue, I can't do anything about it. But KS timer and Intercept timer, those 2 things are probably the most important things. CoS Cooldown.
Next, some form of ability tracker. Tracks your length of stuns, how much time left on blind, left on Sap. For me, I use Classtimer. The beauty about this, is that it tracks what you want on WHO you want. I have it track Blind, Sap, Gouge,etc.
An example of this is when we play a mirror team (another Priest/Rogue). I keep Mind Numbing on the Priest while I'm on the Rogue. This means that if they go into a Mana Burning fight, the priest will go OOM much before mine. This mod shows me a timer of my Mindnumbing on the priest and I can just go and re-Shiv it when it's about to finish (also tossing a Kick here and there, since that's why I'm usually going to go to the Priest in the first place).
Next, Pitbull. Yes, yes, a unit frame mod. The thing I love about this is that the cast bars come included (even though I use Quartz, Quartz is kind of nice for casters).
The main feature is focus frames (not only focus casting bars). I have a whole frame of my focus target, and his target. Also buffs, debuffs, and the works. This helps because if we're playing a druid team, I can see his mana the entire time, what he's casting (to dodge Cyclones). If he gets Innervate, I'd help my priest with a gouge or maybe a KS so he can dispel it. Really good.
My whole UI is Astika's (now known as Ceramic) UI. I believe it is called Spartan. It is REALLY clean and really nice whether you arena or just raid.
http://antipersonnel.org/ceramic/forum/ is where to get it. Mine is a tad different, just some PvP Addons + Omen/DTM and some epeen . . err I mean damage meters.
WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)
Nostalgia: Well, we've been playing for so long, we just know what to do at the beggining.
However, after the first minute, the fight always changes to something new. And then depending on my PoV and my priests PoV, one of us might call a switch, or just stay on current target. If the priest gets a Fear on him, or he thinks he might get a Fear on him with some burns, it usually means I'm going to have to switch to their priest for a few seconds to stop burns.
But then again, this is also something we discussed during our time of play. Like back when we were newbs in S1, I'm sure if he got Feared, I wouldn't have done anything. The game finishes and we'd be like okay what happened. Oh, you got burned when feared.. you can't stop getting feared? That's fine, I'll just get on the priest when you do. And then that's kind of a rule we have now.
After playing hundreds of games, it's kind of systematic. If this happens, we do this. If that happens, we do that. But we're both responsible for game plans. If he wants a switch due to him losing the mana war, we try to get a switch. But it would never be like "Oh, I'm switching now without notice."
We usually plan it during the game. "Hey I'm going to switch soon to help you get mana." "Okay, that's fine. Let me grab a Fear so you can catch up to him."
WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?"
Nostalgia: The main advantage of playing 2s is more time to play. Coordinating 5v5 matches is such a pain because... well, you need 4 other players to be on at the same time. With work and school, it's really hard.
We don't usually do it in advance aside from saying something like, "Hey, you going to be on tommorrow?" Thing about being above 2100 or 2200, is that you really can't queue when you want. We sit in 5-10 min queues to play a 1800 Warrior/Shaman who can possibly gib the priest. Same with double DPS. We make 1 mistake and that's 30 points we just lost.
We usually try to queue at about 6 server or ask on AJ if anyone else is queuing to see if it's worth the respec and time.
WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s)
Nostalgia: Umm, as a Rogue, early brackets I'm just tunnel visioning players and trying to kill them as much as possible. They tend to lack the ability to change between offensive and defensive play.
So when me and Drwhy storm them and start putting damage, they start making mistakes. Druids would do some bad things like getting Feared, into blind into Sap into MC into another into god-knows-what. At 2200, we do transition between offensive and defensive.
We start really strong. When Drwhy can drink, I try to stop their healer from drinking. And we rinse and repeat. At that level, skill is pretty even. So it's all about game plan. How can you get your healer to drink and prevent theirs from not?
But if we do start putting pressure, we usually try to keep it going. It's much easier to keep pressure and make them get into trouble by making stupid plays, than resetting the fight and starting again.
Also, I put out a lot less damage against better teams. Half the games versus Rogue/Druid teams, I just get into stealth during every Fear to Sap the rogue and let my priest drink.
It's more about control than damage. You will have an opportunity to put out some burst damage, but for most of the game it's control. Drwhy is the same. We take a fight to where it's favorable for us, and then we stop resetting, and then we both go offensive.
WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)
Nostalgia: Yelling is usually a good signal. Heh, we usually expect everything since we've played against like every comp a billion times.
But like an example would be, "Hey, I'mm going to put pressure on this warrior, go bug the druid with burns and dispels." That's fine and all, but when the warrior resists your 2 Cheap Shots and 3 Kidney Shots (it happens more often than not, I've had atleast 1 KS resisted versus every warrior team), you're not putting any pressure.
And while the right thing to do is put pressure on the Warrior, sometimes you are just like, "Okay, this is not going to work, he's got full HoTs, druid was drinking while I was getting mace stunned, no wounds left." Obviously in this specific case, staying on the warrior is a bad idea, and we either switch, or reset the fight to the best of our ability.
WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?
Nostalgia: Well I'll take Druid/X, for example, since they make up 99% of the 2v2 ladder.
We never beat Druid/Warrior, Druid/Hunter, Druid/Lock, Druid/Rogue or pretty much anything Druid, without a CC on the druid. Our options are limited, we have a Fear, and we have a Blind/Sap. The thing is, a good druid won't get Feared due to him running from a Priest when a Priest gets close.
Also, a good Warrior, Rogue, Hunter, or Lock won't let a druid feared. They all have slows that can stop the priest from getting to the druid. All those classes also can either kite me, or stop half my damage, or CC me.
This means that not only can we not kill their DPS with a druid healing, they can also survive while their Druid is drinking. Half of these classes have pets disallowing my priest to drink, the other half put so much pressure that my priest can't get time to drink. Also Abolish Poison owns me. So what are our options?
Well, for half those match ups, we will not win without killing the pet. If we do not kill the pet Drwhy will be OOM and we have to run around a pillar for 5 minutes for him to regen mana. This is actually a viable strategy.
We kill pet, we OOM the hunter so he can't summon, or I stay on the warlock and put massive pressure on the lock while he has no pet.
Another problem is that with a Druid sticking on a Rogue with Cyclones, it becomes a fight of them trying to summon a pet, and us trying to stop them. Unless it's early on the fight, I'm usually cooldown starved, and if they are coordinated, they can summon another one. So we take full advantage during that time.
Against Rogue/Druid, we just control the Rogue till he decides to leave the game. But full duration Fears, then getting Kidneys on him usually help (in a position where the druid has to come close to the priest and gets Feared). Druid will trinket, and you wait for another opportunity to do it again with his trinket down. Follow it with a Blind, and a Sap, and hope you get a kill.
If not, reset and try again. It's more or less the same for Warrior/Druid, minus Fears on Warrior. It becomes really hard against Warriors that Intervene when they are in trouble, and know when to go sword and board.
WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?
Nostalgia: As you can see on my UI, I bind everything. (Bindings are also displayed there). I also have a focus cast on pretty much everything. Focus blind, focus shiv, focus kick, focus gouge. I also have some macros like Shadow Step focus target, then Kick focus target.
Also, some things when you play 3s is good like having a countdown macro. Basically, we'd call a switch on the pet, and Id put a macro that would count from 10 to 1. At 1, we zerg the pet real quick without the healer being able to anticipate it.
But generally you never want to click anything at all. Something like bandages might be 'okay' but any abilities should be bound. Especially a rogue, when you have a 1 second GCD and you really to play with finesse and clicking won't let you.
WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?
Nostalgia: 90% of Arenas is communication. So, if you want to improve, that's where you start.
When we first started doing 2s, we must have overlapped a 10,000 Fears and Blinds. Then it would be like "Hey, should I Blind now or are you going to Fear" to be followed by "Fear is down, Blind." But, by then a druid has had full HoTs on his player and the CC is wasted.
What we've been doing now (and is still a Wrok-In-Progress) is basically calling everything 5-10 seconds before. We literally say, "I have a fear in 10 seconds, try to force the druid near me." And I'd be like, "Kidney in 7, dragging him away."
WoW Insider: What are you looking forward to in Wrath, for your class? What are you kind of dreading?
Nostalgia: I'm hoping for less RNG. Some classes right now pretty much rely on RNG.
For example, stun resists (fixed now), dispel resists (still a problem). Really makse our comp irritating. Some classes are better than others (example Druids).
However, unless you make all the classes all the same, this is bound to happen. Also, Racials really make this game frustrating. We played a Shadow Priest/Rogue team. He dispels Fear Ward off me, I Cloak right after. Then he waits and Fears me (by this time hes at like 30 %) and silences my priest so he can't dispel it off me and they just kill my priest.
If I can get back in time, we win. If not, we lose. The only problem is, every time we lose, I'm realize that if I were Undead, we wouldn't lose. (Due to Will of the FOrsaken.) They play a big role, and I don't think it should really be in the Arena.