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WOW Power Leveling is our primary service, we have been in the business that wow power leveling for 4 years!We don't use any Bots or Macros to power level your character. So we can ensure your account is 100% safe. All of our employees are veteran World of Warcraft players, who personally powerleveling your character, to provide even more safety to your account. As we know, when you first start a game of World of Warcraft, you will be taken to your race's starting area. All the races except trolls and gnomes begin in a unique location. So it takes a long time to powerlevel a powerful character for many players, for the player's energy and time are limited. So please let us do this task for you, one of our wow power leveling service for you as a full- time job other than part-time. We will complete the wow power leveling in a very short time, and you can play the character at your desired level. During the progress of wow power leveling, you can get all information about your wow power leveling status anytime.

 News  
1.World of Tanks : Free M3 Tank + 300 Gold For New Players!
MMORPG.com has just been issued thousands of codes to hand out to our community for *new players* to World of Tanks! These codes will get you the M3 Stuart premium tank + 300 gold! If you have not yet tried of World of Tanks, this is the perfect time! Get your key while supplies last.

Note: This key will not work on pre-existing accounts!

About Stuart M3 Tank: The first US light tank that saw extensive service in WWII. The M3 Stuart has reasonable armor for its class and the upgraded 37mm guns are fast and accurate. Speed and stealth are the keys to survival for light tanks and the M3 excels in both.

 
2.Lord of the Rings Online : Itemization Addressed in Rise of Isengard

A new developer post has cropped up on the Lord of the Rings Online site that addresses changes to itemization coming with the Rise of Isengard expansion. The team identified two main areas of concern and lays out exactly how those will be addressed and how the changes will affect all types of players.

Finesse and how it isn’t the new Radiance

Let me start off by saying that Finesse is not intended to be a replacement for Radiance. Finesse is a rating, not dissimilar from offense rating or critical strike rating. You will find it on quest gear, you will find it in instance loot, you will find it all over the place.

Radiance required you to grind for extremely specific loot in order to be effective in a raid space; we’re not going back to that world. The hope is that a player will be about at their maximum finesse efficiency by wearing roughly 3 pieces on-level with the space. So a raid player might walk into a raid wearing four rare quality items with finesse on them, but after gearing up in the raid cut down to three incomparable items with finesse on them. We’re also not requiring you to wear it, there will be plenty of non-finesse options along all gear types. We just hope that the option to be parried, blocked, resisted or evaded less seems valuable since it means consistent DPS.

 
3.General : Eligium - The Chosen One to Be Unveiled at Gamescom

Frogster will be well represented at Gamescom this year, but are also proud to announce a World Premiere for their upcoming MMORPG, Eligium - The Chosen One.

Eligium ? The Chosen One will bring players face-to-face with hordes of demons returning to the surface from their centuries long exile underground, which are intent on spreading fear and terror among the surface-dwellers. It’s now in the hands of the chosen one to reunite the five human nations and stand up to the evil forces rising from below. Eligium ? The Chosen One features an atmospheric game world, gloomy dungeons with demanding boss battles and large scale raids, an ingenious PvP and ranking system, open world events, an interesting item upgrade system, and mounts that players can train and watch grow Eligium ? The Chosen One offers a world of opportunities and challenges for all kinds of discerning players.

Former GIGA TV hosts, Florian Kamolz and Michael Bister, will present a diverse program on stage at the Frogster booth highlighting Frogster and Gameforge’s game line-up. Players will get their first glimpse of Tergothen Bay, the brand new region in Runes of Magic. There will be regular dungeon runs giving MMO players a chance to get loads of TERA, Eligium ? The Chosen One, and Runes of Magic merchandise. At 4:00 P.M. every day particularly special items are up for grabs.

 
4.Rift : The Future of Rift: A Q&A With Scott Hartsman

Managing Editor Bill Murphy sat in on a telephone press conference with Executive Producer of Trion's flagship title Rift, Scott Hartsman. An upcoming Producer's Letter, set to be hosted on the game's official forums, was the main topic of discussion as Bill and a conference call of his peers addressed with Scott some of Rift's plans moving forward.

There are all sorts of new additions to Rift coming: from new world PvP initiatives in the form of PvP Rifts, plus solo and duo content in the form of Chronicles of Telara Instances. There’s even going to be a form of endgame character advancement so that you can keep growing and earning experience and character skills after level 50 (Alternative Advancement!). And there’s just so much more. The overarching topic of the call was all about what’s next for the game and the list is a long one. Scott and the rest of the crew at Trion have a lot of plans for Rift and they’re quite aggressive and open in sharing them.

 
5.Black Prophecy : Official Launch Day

The Black Prophecy team is announcing that, as of today, the space combat MMO from Reakktor and Gamigo is officially launched. Players can experience the deeply rich Sci-Fi story and hop in their ships now at the official website.

"Black Prophecy has already raised the bar for Free-to-play games in the European market and now North American gamers will be able to experience one of the most expertly crafted space combat experiences available online today," said Patrick Streppel, Executive Board Member at gamigo.

Developed by Reakktor Media, Black Prophecy is a beautifully rendered MMO complete with a rich sci-fi back story that takes players on a journey into space to experience fast-paced, real-time combat in countless missions and epic battles. North American players have waited for lift off and now the time has come to experience exciting PVP, modular ship design and a deep crafting component steeped in state-of-art graphics and a rich storyline.

Right from the start, players will be drawn into the frenzy of space combat while following the rich and exciting background story. The story is told in spectacular cutscenes complete with voice-over recordings and a top-quality soundtrack.

 
6.Star Wars: The Old Republic : Damion Schubert Explains Map Design
Last week's Friday Update to the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website consisted of a dev blog by BioWare's Damion Schubert on the process of creating the game's various in-game maps.

Damion explains how BioWare's technology can create maps automatically:

What we decided to do was to have a design process which generates maps based on the objects that exist inside of any zone in the game world. To start off, a designer draws a trigger box around part of the world, and then designates which map that trigger box belongs to. He then uses a tool which effectively renders only the objects that are inside of that particular trigger box. This gives us a basic map image. After this, he runs a Photoshop tool which applies a filter that makes the resulting image look techy, holographic and vaguely architectural (if indoors) or topographical (if outdoors). Finally, an artist does a cleanup pass, removing visual artifacts and other noise that might have crept into the process.

The end result is that we have maps that can show astonishing details about the game world. Chairs, crates, statues ? all manner of items show up on the map from a birds-eye view, giving the player a real sense of where they are in the world. The resulting map was in fact so good that early on, we found unexpected obstacles were appearing on the map. After investigation, it turned out they were chandeliers and rafters rendered near the ceiling.

 
7.Aion : New Refer-a-Friend Rewards
The folks at NCsoft and Aion would like everyone to know that there's some brand new rewards in place should you refer a friend to try life in Aion.  There's also a mentoring program in place, so higher level players can help out their newbie friends.

Refer a friend to play Aion, and you could get free in-game items and free game time! Your friend will get a free game trial and in-game items that help level new characters. (Subject to the terms and conditions listed below.)  You and your friend can use the Aion mentor system to help your friend to level up faster and easier by defeating difficult monsters together, and you can gain tokens to purchase high-level gear!

 
8.Uncharted Waters Online : Win an iPad2, 3DS and More During Launch Events

gPotato is simply thrilled over the recent launch of Uncharted Waters Online.  To celebrate they're holding events in-game all month long, with some seriously killer prizes attached.  If you don't feel like shelling out $500 for an iPad2, you can simply hit the level cap in UWO before July 31st to get one.

gPotato is ecstatic over the launch of Uncharted Waters Online (UWO), and to celebrate they’re giving away a multitude of incredible prizes during their “Newbie Sailor’s Events!” Currently underway, these events will let players have a chance to win unbelievable prizes such as iPad 2s, the Nintendo 3DS, and amazing in-game items!
 
9.PlanetSide : PlanetSide 2 Unveiled

The countdown is over! Sony Online Entertainment has unveiled PlanetSide 2 on the official PlanetSide 2 website.  The unveiling consists of a debut trailer, a trio of screenshots and wallpapers, and a FAQ.

(Click the above image to watch the debut trailer.)

 
10.World of Warcraft : Win7 Mobile Authenticator Released
Blizzard has announced the release of a mobile authenticator for Windows 7 devices. The new app is free of charge and requires players to enter both their regular name/password combination as well as the authenticator code provided by the app.

Grab a mobile authenticator for any number of devices from the Battle.Net Account Management page.

 
11.Battlestar Galactica Online : PvP Interview with Sarah Levantine

Late last week, Bigpoint and Battlestar Galactica Online developers announced that a new PvP system was coming into the game in the form of ranked battles and instanced PvP duels. MMORPG.com Industry Relations Manager Garrett Fuller caught up with BGO's producer Sarah Levantine to talk about the big announcement. Read on!

What is it about the instanced matches that you think appeals to players?

At its core, BSGO is a space combat game. The instanced matches give players the opportunity to hone their dog-fighting skills and prove their superiority, one-on-one

 
12.The live support is in maintainence, plz contact with us with email YGS.Service@hotmail.com

Dear customers,we are sorry to tell you the live support is in maintainence for few hrs,so we can 't serve you by that. Plz contact with us with email YGS.Service@hotmail.com. We can reply your emails instantly.:)

 
13.Dungeon Fighter Online : Act X: Rebirth
Act X: Rebirth launched on the 29th of June, but it launched with several issues having crept up into the game. Don't fret though, the Arad High Council are well aware of the issues and are working diligently to have them fixed. Check out the details.

We're very happy and proud to announce that the long-awaited Rebirth is here! Please note that there are several issues that we are well aware of and are actively trying to fix. We will provide an update shortly!

1. After creating a new character, you may experience a slight loss of functionality in your Character Selection screen. Simply exit the game, and log back in to regain functionality.

2. All settings and hotkeys were reset and will need to be reallocated.

 
14.Dungeon Fighter Online : Act X: Rebirth
Act X: Rebirth launched on the 29th of June, but it launched with several issues having crept up into the game. Don't fret though, the Arad High Council are well aware of the issues and are working diligently to have them fixed. Check out the details.

We're very happy and proud to announce that the long-awaited Rebirth is here! Please note that there are several issues that we are well aware of and are actively trying to fix. We will provide an update shortly!

1. After creating a new character, you may experience a slight loss of functionality in your Character Selection screen. Simply exit the game, and log back in to regain functionality.

2. All settings and hotkeys were reset and will need to be reallocated.

 
15.Firefall : New Video Diary With a BIG Surprise

Red 5 and the Firefall dev team have a terrific new video diary about the story behind the game including the announcement that Orson Scott Card is working with the team to build the back story! The video also contains some terrific game play footage so check it out!

Click the image below!

 
16.World of Tanks : v6.5 Update Arriving June 30th

Wargaming.net has announced that the v6.5 update will arrive on June 30th. The patch brings a pair of new maps to the game as well as the American tank destroyer line and a pair of light tanks in both American and Russian flavors.

Along with two new maps - Redshire that depicts a traditional British settlement, and Arctic Region, the very first purely winter location - the update will feature the highly-anticipated American tank destroyers line, including the T95 superheavy monster.

Apart from the advanced US tree, Update 6.5 will bring up two premium light tanks - the American M22 Locust and the Russian T-127.

One of the most significant changes Update 6.5 will carry is replacing the M26 Pershing with the M46 Patton, which will become the first step towards global tech trees revision.

 
17.Guild Wars 2 : Building the Dungeons

In the latest Guild Wars 2 developer blog, Arena.Net's William Fairfield gives readers an inside look at how the dungeons are designed. When designing a dungeon, Fairfield says, the flow of the dungeon, adequate challenges and the necessity for players to use strategic skills.

It begins?as most things do?with an idea. The designer responsible for the dungeon will sit down with Jeff Grubb and work out the story that we are trying to tell inside the dungeon. Then they will set down a paper design of the dungeon. Once the paper design is finished, we have a meeting that includes our environmental artists, the design lead, the dungeon team, and several members of QA. In this meeting, the designer responsible for the dungeon will lay out his plan. We discuss the plan and suggest changes we think could help bring the various parts of the dungeon together.

After this, the designer will go back and begin implementation. Iteration is a huge part of this process, and at several points, the dungeon is played and scrutinized not just by the dungeon team but by members of QA and design as well. Feedback is given and changes are made based on that feedback. This process will continue, often for weeks, until the dungeon is in a state we are all happy with. When we finally feel it is ready, we have the entire company play the dungeon in an all call session. This gives us much-needed feedback from many different levels and styles of players before we start the process again, polishing the dungeon as we learn more.

 
18.EVE Online : Incarna 1.0.1 Patch Notes Posted

The EVE Online site has been updated with the official patch notes for the Incarna v1.0.1 patch that is scheduled to be deployed tomorrow, June 28th. The patch addresses several bug fixes to the interface and graphics among other things.

Technical

  • Resolved a crash issue when loading into the Captains Quarters.
  • The Corporation "Edit Member" function has been fixed.
  • The client would occasionally crash if jumping when the client was minimized. This has been fixed.
  • When running full screen on the secondary monitor, the mouse will no longer jump to the primary monitor when clicking.
  • Fixed a crash triggered by undocking from station.
  • Fixed a minor memory leak when undocking from station.
  • Fixed an issue, that on very rare occasions, could cause the camera to disconnect from the players avatar in the CQ.
  • Fixed an issue, that on rare occasions, could cause the mouse cursor to not behave as expected in the CQ.
  • Additional server side errors relating to the mouse controls within the CQ were fixed.
 
19.EVE Online : "The Realities of EVE"
In the latest entry on the EVE Online DevBlog, CCP Zulu has responded to the controversy that has been circling the game for the last few days. Head over to check it out and see what the next chapter of this story as it unfolds.

The tone and demeanor of my blog on Friday did not correctly portray my emotions towards the community and player base at large. I love and respect EVE and its community on a level that's hard to really do justice in words. However I let my frustration take charge of me, fueled by emotions that had built up due to a breach of trust we at CCP have been experiencing over the past few days. I know that sounds ironic considering those are the exact same feelings you have been having towards CCP.

For that I am sorry.

Having cooled off a bit and taken a solemn look at the situation, I see it's clear we need to strengthen the deep mutual trust and respect that's been so unique and descriptive of our relationship. There are certain questions you want answered and there isn't room for more error in our communication on those topics or our perception of the root causes.

Therefore we have asked the CSM to join us in Iceland for an extraordinary meeting June 30th and July 1st to discuss the events of past week, to help us define and address the real underlying concerns, and to assist us in defining and iterating on our virtual goods strategy.

 
20.EVE Online : Devs Respond to Internal Newsletter Leak & Fan Reaction
A new post on the CCP blog from Zulu uses the title "Fearless, Virtual Goods, and Rage". The post deals with players' reactions to a leaked internal newsletter called' Fearless' that discussed developers' opinions on the subject of virtual goods and pricing. The letter goes on to discuss the pricing structure in the NeX store.

The opinions and views expressed in Fearless are just that; opinions and views. They are not CCP policy nor are they a reliable source of CCP views as a company. The employees who submitted articles to that newsletter did exactly what they were asked to do, write about theories and opinions from an exaggerated stand.

While it‘s perfectly fine to disagree and attack CCP over policies or actions we take, we think it‘s not cool how individuals that work here have been called out and dragged through the mud due to something they wrote in the internal company newsletter. Seriously, these people were doing their jobs and do not deserve the hate and shitstorm being pointed at them.

Read more on the EVE Insider.

 
21.Black Prophecy : Episode 1: Inferno in Tulima Announced

Gamigo and the Black Prophecy development team have announced a new add-on called "Episode 1: Inferno in Tulima". The new area is called Enzo's Enigmatic Emporium of Exotic Elegance and is a new quest hub for players of level 15 and higher. Inferno in Tulima is scheduled to go live in early July.

A new feature in the Black Prophecy universe is the bound sectors: Players play their way from one sector to the next. The passages to the next region are generally guarded by particularly strong opponents that can only be defeated by a group. Additional sectors with this feature will follow. To improve communication between players, the message system has been reworked and based on standard instant messenger systems: Players can recognize their friends by their avatar and talk to them in a separate window. The new in-game e-mail system also permits sending items by cash on delivery to other players.

 
22.EVE Online : Incarna Launches Today
In one of the most keenly anticipated patches since the original launch of EVE Online, the 'Incarna' update goes live today. Incarna brings new features into the game including captain's quarters where, for the first time, players will see a 3D rendering of their characters walking around.

The first iteration, fittingly named Incarna 1.0, brings the Captain's Quarters to each station. The Captain's Quarters are a seat of power, a hub of information and a quiet sanctuary for a pilot looking to relax a bit. A quick walthrough video can be found here. Incarna will grow over time, adding new versions of the Captain's Quarters and then establishments and beyond.

Incarna also brings a fresh beginning for a new player's experience, as we've remade it into a "New New Player Experience" and worked hard to smooth out the learning curve. It is now easier than ever to try EVE Online-an even more immersive experience is in store for those curious about jumping in the deepest MMO on the market.

Read more about EVE Online Incarna and read the full patch notes.

 
23.General : Prime: Battle for Dominus Devs Hire a Familiar Face

Folks who have followed Mythic games through the years will recognize the name Sanya Weathers. Weathers is in the news today as she's been hired by Pitchblack Studios as the new community manager for the recently announced Prime: Battle for Dominus. Weathers confirmed the new job via her personal blog.

Me: (getting flashbacks to another startup I loved) So… what’s the idea behind the game?

Them: A three faction PVP MMO. In space.

Me: (The flashbacks are getting stronger, plus bonus points for sci-fi) Really?

Them: Earth was invaded by an overwhelmingly strong alien race, the Rodon, and humanity only survived because the alien race that kind of sort of created the Rodon intervened. Those guys, the Salent, are playing a very deep game. Anyway, there’s one element in the whole galaxy required for technical advancement, inventions, good gear, defense, and other stuff that players invent and make, and it’s mostly found on one planet called Dominus. The faction that controls Dominus has a major advantage.

Me: (Whoa.) Anything else?

Them: (List of things on which a big budget project simply can’t take a chance.)

Me: (weakly trying to be cool) That’s all?

Them: Well, there are jetpacks.

Read more about Prime: Battle for Dominus and join in the discussion at the just-opened community forums for Prime. Also, check out Sanya Weathers' blog.

 
24.Wizard101 : New Pre-Paid Game Card Deals

KingsIsle and Gamestop have come up with another mega-deal for folks purchasing a pre-paid Wizard101 game card. The Wizard101 Mega-Bundle features a slew of in-game perks including a flying carpet mount, a snake in a basket pet, and a huge Sultan's palace. The card retails for $39.00.

The new Mega Bundle prepaid game card is available immediately at GameStop stores across the country and includes the following in-game items:

  • Massive Sultan's Palace
  • Flying Carpet Mount
  • Mystical Genie in a Lamp
  • Magical Casting Flute
  • Snake in a Basket Pet
  • 1 Month Membership OR 5000 Crowns

Read more on the Wizard101 site.

 
25.World of Warcraft : Mega Bloks Construction Sets Coming
Mega Brands has reached an agreement with Blizzard Entertainment to bring World of Warcraft Mega Bloks construction sets to retail outlets. The sets will feature locations, characters, and mounts from World of Warcraft and are expected to reach retail outlets in the summer of 2012.

Mega Bloks has achieved remarkable success translating gaming content into innovative and entertaining toys for kids and collectors alike.

"We're proud and thrilled to enter into a partnership with Blizzard Entertainment, the world leader in creating epic online game franchises," said Vic Bertrand, Chief Innovation Officer of MEGA Brands. "The depth of content in World of Warcraft and StarCraft will fuel years of fun, collectible products for gamers and collectors."

Find out more about Mega Brands.

 
26.Rift : Explore the Droughtlands
The Rift team has added a new Zone Description over at their official website, this time taking a look at the Droughtlands. Head on over and read about the unforgiving zone and learn more about the rich lore that surrounds the game.

From the crime-ridden city of Lantern Hook, to the monster-haunted desert, and to the eerie ruins of the ancient Eth, no part of the Droughtlands is safe. You know the badlands are dangerous when the best chance you have at allies is a tribe of bloodthirsty cyclopes

Read more at the Rift official website.

 
27.General : E3 Photo Goodness
The MMORPG.com team on the ground at the 2011 E3 in Los Angeles, California has uploaded all sorts of convention-y goodness for your viewing pleasure today. Check it out!
 
28.EVE Online : Incarna Site Goes Live
CCP has announced that the EVE Online site for Incarna is now live complete with a countdown to the deployment of the captain's quarters in just over 13 days. The page also features a news digest and links to all Incarna-specific developer blogs that have been posted in the last several weeks.

Check out the new EVE Online: Incarna page.

 
29.Lineage 2 : Double XP & Drops Week Announced
Continuing the anniversary celebration, NCSoft and Lineage II devs have announced that June 8-15, 2011 is not only a double XP week but that drops will significantly increase as well. Developers are encouraging players to level up to be able to experience the high-level content that the Goddess of Destruction update will bring.

Double XP/SP

  • All experience points and skill points gained from hunting monsters are doubled. This stacks with all Vitality-related items, but experience points gained from quests are not doubled.
  • Just like during a Double XP/SP Weekend like we've hosted before, this server-wide setting affects all characters regardless of class, level, and account type.

Double Drop/Spoil

  • Item drop rates and spoil rates are doubled.
  • Applies to raid bosses and regular drops.

Read more on the Lineage 2 site.

 
30.EVE Online : Survivor Guy: Returning to Eve
EVE Incarna is fast approaching with developers spending a lot of time touting new features including the Capatin's quarters and much more. In his latest Survivor Guy series, MMORPG.com's Adam Tingle heads back into EVE to see how he does after a year's respite from the game. Check out Survivor Guy: Returning to EVE and then let us know what you think.

You see my relationship with CCP’s creation was a strained one at best. Within the game was something amazing, something so complex and in-depth that it excited every gaming bone in my body, but to counteract this were numerous obstacles in which enjoy the MMO. I read guide after guide, watched YouTube videos, and cruised forums, yet I still didn’t understand the game any better.

Read more of Adam Tingle's Survivor Guy: Returning to EVE .

 
31.Warhammer Online : May Community Update
 
The Warhammer Herald now features the May Community Update. The latest post goes into some detail about the June release of patch v1.4.3 which will feature a new event called "Sigmar Tide". While the rest of the 1.4.3 patch will be available "soon" on the PTS, Sigmar Tide will not be featured so as to avoid spoilers.

The event ‘Sigmar Tide’ will introduce a new scenario to WAR. The College of Corruption is the attempt of the Chaos to infiltrate the Empire and corrupt it from within. Inside players fight over the control of the college while the Aqshy Activators can be used to manifest Aspects of Fire ? a being of pure fire which is temporarily controlled by the player with four special abilities.

The College of Corruption scenario will be open to players of all tiers for the duration of the event, and NPCs will give the players quests to complete while in the scenario. Additionally to the College of Corruption players can seek out the Altars of Sigmar in open RvR and gain a blessing to improve their offense (by sacrificing a bit of their defense) if they possess a Skull of the Fallen.

Read more of the May Community Update on the Warhammer Online site.

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32.General : 2K Hires Former Lineage Devs for Unnamed Title

2K Games has announced that it has entered into a partnership with XLGames to develop a new MMO based on "a hit franchise" from the 2K catalog. The game is being developed, at least at the onset, for the Korean market. XLGames is the development house of Jake Song of Lineage fame.

"This is a great partnership between XLGAMES and 2K," added Mr. Song. "We have already been working together for a year on the game, and I can tell you this is one of the most exciting projects that I've ever undertaken. I cannot wait to launch this collaboration, which illustrates our shared development talent and passion to create cutting-edge entertainment experiences."

Hubert Larenaudie, president of Take-Two Asia concluded, "In all my years in the Asian gaming industry, I have never met a game creator with Jake's experience and caliber. I have no doubt that he will deliver another stellar title for the Asian market."

 
33.Rift : New Mage Class Trailer Revealed
The team over at Trion have unleashed a new trailer for the Mage Class for their game, Rift. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Harnessing the fury of the six elemental planes, the Mages of Telara are terrible foes indeed, especially if you happen to be an unsuspecting lagomorph. These ambassadors of the arcane take center stage in the latest class trailer from Trion Worlds, which demonstrates but three out of countless potential Mage builds. Disrupt your opponent’s focus in PvP with the mind-controlling Dominator, heal your party through a deadly dungeon as a Chloromancer, or become a Pyromancer to inflict flesh-boiling damage.

Check out the new Rift Mage Class Trailer.

 
34.Faxion Online : Official Release Date Revealed

Faxion Online, coming to us from UTV True Games, currently in Open Beta now has a release date set. Mark your calendars, as on May 26th, 2011, Faxion Online will be going live for everyone to play.

Faxion Online will officially launch on May 26th, though both the unfettered and the unrepentant can go play the open beta version now at www.FaxionOnline.com. In this highly anticipated combat-driven game, players choose between blessings and brimstone in a hardcore struggle between good and evil liberally ladled with humor and wit. The full game, featuring all-new content, will be available (also for free) beginning May 26th.

Visit the Official Faxion Online website.

 
35.General : GOG.com Giveaway

Good Old Games (GoG.com), a leader in the Real Time Strategy genre, has provided our sister site, RTSGuru.com, with a chance to win one of ten different games from their rather extensive library. The games up for grabs are:

  • Evil genius
  • Stronghold
  • Caesar 3
  • Tropico Reloaded
  • Heroes of Might and Magic 2

GoG.com has provided us with five copies of each game. At the end of the contest, we will draw ballots randomly to determine the winner of each game code.

Jump over to RTSguru.com, sign in with your MMORPG.com user account and enter the content to win!

 
36.Learn how to spot and defeat your inner Mary Sue with Pox RP workshops
We've talked about Pox RP workshops on WoW Insider before now. The goal of the workshop series is to help new roleplayers pick up the techniques and skills that empower you to really get into the role of your character. Silvermoon and one-hand jokes aside, roleplaying adds a lot of depth to WoW, and can keep you with the game even if you feel like you're getting bored with the content.

The thing that makes Pox RP workshops great is that they bring together a surprisingly large chunk of community. I've heard the workshops get up to 100 attendees, and that's a lot of people to help you pick up the skills to be an elf. It's a great way to learn some nice RP tricks and meet new people with whom to play.

This weekend, on May 7, Pox will be covering the infamous Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is a character who, essentially, is an idealized projection of the author's self, serving as a sort of fictional wish-fulfillment. Mary Sues run rampant in roleplay and are nearly universally hated. They're not great characters and they tend to disrupt other peoples' fun.

The Pox roleplay workshop is at 6pm mountain time at the Thunder Bluff campfire on Shadow Council (US-H). If you've not attended one of these roleplay meetings, make sure you check it out now. This is the last workshop until August, since Pox will be taking the summer to relax.
 
37.Ready Check: When you disagree with your raid leader

A good friend and colleague, Mr. Matt "The Matticus" Low, recently recieved the following question: "I consistently disagree with my [raid leader] on raid decisions and I know I can do a better job. What do I do?"

Matt's a man of few words. He's like a healing cowboy from the old (Canadian) West, riding into town on the horse of common sense. Hearts break at his passing, and bad guys (of poor logic) fall at his feet. His response was simple, borrowing the words of ancient wisdom from Lao-tzu:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

What he meant by that, of course, is that if you can't agree with your raid leader on anything and you think you can do a better job, then you should go do that job: Start your own raid. While Matt summed it up pretty easily, it's like I said -- he's a man of few words. I'm a tad more verbose.

I'm going to start off with the fair warning that this is a bit of advice. I believe in things like "fair play" and "giving people a chance." If you don't care about trying to do "the right thing" or maybe even interpret "the right thing" the same way I do, a lot of my advice will simply fall flat. It is what it is, and to each his own.

Start off fair

Frequently, when I hear people say "I never agree with my raid leader!" they're talking about on-the-fly strategies and they're talking about trying to reach consensus in the middle of raid. As a raid leader myself who prizes hit 10-man group exactly for its ability to communicate informally, even in that situation, I sometimes find myself unwilling to make certain changes because I don't have time in the middle of a raid.

So before you assume that you can't possibly ever agree with your raid leader, make sure you're talking to him during a time he can be receptive in the first place. It's just playing fair; trying to reach consensus while he's busy running a raid going to be damned near impossible.

I know I can do a better job

This always sounds harsh, so I'm just going to throw it out there. "I know I can do a better job" doesn't mean anything. "I have done a better job" and "I am doing a better job" are at least something people can argue; you can compare two raids against one another and gauge different measurement points to ascertain "better."

(Quick tangent: "better" is an incredibly subjective term. I always think better "at what?" when I hear that. Better at progression? Better at having fun? The two aren't the same thing. Better at including the entire guild? You have to define "better" for it to have meaning.)

More to leading than you think

Folks often think of "raid leading" as simply being the guy who calls the shots. There's a lot more that goes into it than just being the head honcho.

You have to take care of your people, make sure morale is doing okay, monitor performance, attendance, and customize strategies against your roster. You have to make decisions about which raid instance you'll go into each night, and you need to gauge whether your raid is "ready" for each step of progression. You have to recruit, evaluate, and you have to provide feedback. You have to fire raid members. And when you do fire a raid member, you have to make sure other members don't leave in a huff. (And if they do, you have to deal with that.)

In a lot of ways, knowing the fights and making raid calls is the easiest, simplest part of the job. There are plenty of resources that will show you boss fights, and Blizzard is even adding the dungeon journal to make it easier. Every armchair quarterback with delusions of being alpha dog can look that crap up; it takes a leader to handle everything else.

What do I do?

If you've tried to communicate fairly and you truly think you can do a better job of everything, you have one choice left: Start your own raid.

Try to be diplomatic, of course. It's a somewhat lame duck who posts on the guild forums and says, "I'm starting my own -- who's coming with me?" Righteous or not, people who do that always look bad.

It feels like a jerk move to break up an existing raid to start your own, but it goes back to the proof in the pudding: If you can really, truly do better, then do it. Some people might go with you, and that's a shame for the people left behind, but it's a social game. After all, the old raid leader has the same challenges you do as a brand new one.

The caveat here, though, is that for every new raid I see start in this fashion, about half blow their old group out of the water, and the other half falters and fails. It really isn't as easy as you might think, and you'll be taking a pretty big risk.

You didn't say that your extant raid leader is doing a bad job, just that you think you could do a better one. You need to make sure you think the risk is worth it.

 
38.Patch 4.1 hotfixes for May 4
Everyone's so excited about the pending PTR for patch 4.2 that we've forgotten all about poor neglected patch 4.1. Don't worry, Blizzard certainly hasn't -- and today we've got another round of hotfixes posted by Zarhym at the official Warcraft blog. In addition to the usual small fixes, there's a welcome fix to account-bound items, and for characters that have switched factions recently:
  • The issue preventing some players from mailing account bound items to other characters on the same realm and Battle.net account has been addressed. If you're still experiencing the issue, try logging onto both characters before sending the mail.
  • Players that have recently switched factions should now be able to properly get quests for Children's Week.
  • Call to Arms rewards should now be displayed in the Dungeon Finder UI while the player is in the dungeon.
Follow after the break for the full list of hotfixes.


Zarhym
  • General
    • An issue was preventing some players from properly mailing account bound items to other characters on the same realm and Battle.net account. If you are still experiencing this issue, we recommend you log into both characters before sending the mail. The characters don't need to be online at the same time for this to work.
    • Children's Week quests should no longer be unavailable to players who recently transferred factions.
    • Flying wisp form and flying mounts, both living and dead, can enter bodies of water smoothly.
  • Classes
    • Spells or talents which provide pushback protection should now be functioning correctly (i.e. Burning Soul for mages or Suppression for warlocks). This time we mean it.
    • Rogues
      • Shadowstep is instantly teleporting players behind their target when the target is in motion.
  • Dungeons & Raids
    • Call to Arms rewards will now be displayed in the Dungeon Finder UI while a player is in the dungeon so they know what rewards they will get.
    • Throne of the Four Winds
      • Damage from Ice Storm in phase 1 of Al'Akir is ticking twice per second, which was causing excessive damage on Heroic difficulty. To compensate, the damage per tick has been reduced for Heroic difficulty.
  • Items
    • Players are now able to get a random Darkmoon card inside of a Sealed Scroll Case, instead of always getting a Darkmoon Card of Destruction.
  • Quests & Creatures
    • The Innkeeper's Daughter can no longer be targeted for healing or harmful effects.
    • Players now fail The Crucible of Carnage: The Earl of Evisceration when killed by Lord Geoffery Tulvan during the encounter. Players are able to pick up the quest after it is failed and the event starts again without issue.


source


 
39.Breakfast Topic: Who are the most robust characters of the expansion?
We're many months out after the launch of Cataclysm, and the changes to the world have finally become the norm for me. Orgrimmar's refit is finally Orgrimmar for me. Stormwind's high-res streets do not surprise me as much as they used to. One of the greatest achievements that Cataclysm earned for itself was the robustness of its characters and pumping up the old vanilla world.

Character robustness is something that Blizzard has been honing for a long while. It's a tough deal sometimes, when you're creating a host of citizens and military personnel who exist at some podunk outpost handing out quests to player characters. The changes to the questing paradigms, as well as the new emphasis on the environments of Cataclysm telling the story just as much as the quest text, have placed a new burden on NPCs that might be in the spotlight for moments. There's an expectation that these characters, however minor, are required to have a modicum of depth.

The Southern Barrens takes this expectation to heart and delivers. Both the Horde and the Alliance have de facto leaders, infantrymen, conflicts, and battles that all make sense, given the environment and characters with interesting and robust personalities. General Hawthorne is either a sinner or a saint, depending on your questing experience, as are the hunters of Taurajo that have fled to the hills and are engaging in guerrilla warfare, with a questing hub that geographically defines their fight as well as characters who succinctly give players a glimpse into the conflict. Alliance players are sent straight through Horde territory, over a blockade and behind enemy lines to the Northwatch advance. The story is robust, and the characters are multifaceted.

Cataclysm has given bit players their time in the sun by fleshing out their stories, giving them tasks and information, and using the environment to make even the smallest NPC a robust member of the Alliance or the Horde. Which characters and places in Cataclysm do you think got the robust treatment, and which are your new favorite stories?
 
40.Official patch 4.1 notes updated for May 2
Blizzard has released an update for the patch 4.1 official patch notes. Most of these notes confirm changes already in game, including the presence of portals to Stormwind and Ogrimmar in Dalaran and Shattrath, which should be good news for people leveling through the 60s and 70s. In addition, the art update to Reins of the Dark Phoenix was stricken from the patch notes. That change will be coming in patch 4.2.

Read on after the break for all the new changes.


General
  • Portals to each of the capital cities have returned to Dalaran and Shattrath City.

Paladins

  • Divine Protection can no longer be dispelled

Shamans

Talent Specializations

Elemental Combat

  • Earthquake is no longer a channeled spell. It now has a 2.5-second cast time, lasts for 10 seconds, and has a 10-second cooldown. Its damage has been reduced by 40% from its channeled version.

Dungeons & Raids

Dungeon Finder

  • The Dungeon Finder will attempt to place players from the same realm in a party together.

Quests & Creatures

  • An updated quest chain has been added for the Alliance in Winterspring. Players seeking out the Reins of the Winterspring Frostsaber should speak with Rivern Frostwind at Frostaber Rock.
source

 
41.Patch 4.1 hotfixes for April 27
We've got a new list of hotfixes this evening from Community Manager Zarhym, fresh off the official Warcraft blog. Today's list of hotfixes addresses a few issues with Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman, a welcome tweak to Conquest point accumulation and a few class tweaks as well. In Zul'Aman, the range on Amani'shi Flame Caster's Fireball Volley has been reduced to 35 yards. In Zul'Gurub, High Priest Venoxis' Toxic Link now has a 100 yard range, instead of being infinite. BoE items obtained in Zul'Gurub can now be mailed, traded, sold and bought back as intended. Players will now receive 180 Conquest Points for an Arena win up to the weekly cap, and 400 Conquest Points for a Rated Battleground win up to the weekly cap. Follow after the break for the full list of hotfixes. ZarhymGeneral Disconnecting immediately after dying no longer causes players to lack a Release Spirit button upon logging back in. Classes Spells or talents which provide pushback protection should now be functioning correctly (i.e. Burning Soul for mages or Suppression for warlocks). Druids Predator's Swiftness being active will no longer prevent Omen of Clarity Clearcasting from being consumed when it should be. Hunters Marked for Death is now applied properly to the target of Arcane Shot or Chimera Shot, allowing for focus macros (i.e. /cast [@focus] Chimera Shot) to apply Marked for Death to the focused target and not the primary target. The Recluse Hatchling can correctly be targeted, attacked, and killed by players and NPCs after being tamed. Serpent Spread was only affecting targets closer than 38 yards to the hunter. It now affects all targets hit by Multi-Shot. Priests Holy Word: Sanctuary should now properly benefit from Echo of Light. Warlocks Dark Intent no longer incorrectly procs off critical direct damage spells. It still functions correctly on damage- and heal-over-time critical hits for both the warlock and the target of Dark Intent. Dungeons & Raids Blackwing Descent Obnoxious Fiends should no longer despawn erratically during the Atramedes encounter. Their behavior is now only appropriately obnoxious. Summoning combat pets/guardians should no longer cause any issues with the Omnotron Defense System golems becoming activated. Poison Bombs that Toxitron summons correctly prioritize ranged targets over melee targets first. Zul'Aman The range on Amani'shi Flame Caster's Fireball Volley has been reduced to 35 yards (the tooltip still says 40 yards) and should no longer pull additional creatures when used by a player. Zul'Gurub Gub will no longer cast Knock Away, as he was evading when knocking the tank into unfortunate locations. Toxic Link (High Priest Venoxis) now has a 100-yard range, down from infinity. Zul'Gurub Bind on Equip items can correctly be mailed, traded, sold, and bought back. Items Flask of Battle should now correctly grant 450 base Stamina. Pygmy Oil should correctly be turning players into gnomes, not funky error cubes. Trinket procs should no longer persist indefinitely. Zul'Gurub Bind on Equip items can correctly be mailed, traded, sold, and bought back. PvP Players are now awarded 180 Conquest Points for an Arena win up to the weekly cap, up from 135, and 400 Conquest Points for a Rated Battleground win up to the weekly cap, up from 335, regardless of rating or matchup. More information can be found here. Tol Barad Attempting to use the "Have Group, Will Travel" guild perk while the Battle for Tol Barad is in progress will now provide an error that states "You can't use that here." After a battle concludes, the guild perk works as intended and summons party members to the caster's location. User Interface A bug was causing the addon chat filtering feature to not allow registered addon messages to come through. Addon chat filtering has been temporarily disabled and restored to 4.0.6 functionality. source
 
42.Know Your Lore: Interbellum part 7 -- Rexxar saves the Horde
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft. And now at last, our series detailing the years between Warcraft III and World of Warcraft ends, as it must, with the story of the greatest warrior the New Horde has ever seen. After the supposed peace proposal led to a trap that might have captured Thrall had Rexxar not insisted he take the Warchief's place, Thrall decided that the usual paths of protocol could not be trusted. He had to contact Jaina Proudmoore directly. Rexxar would go directly to Theramore Island to meet with Jaina and discover what was behind these attacks. If Rexxar thought that Thrall's strange attachment to the human woman whose forces had seemingly tried to kill him six or seven times by this point was odd, he still went. Read Part 1: Forcing Fate's Hand Read Part 2: Into the Outland Read Part 3: To Rule a World Read Part 4: The Queen of the Dead Read Part 5: Atop the Frozen Throne Read Part 6: The Coming of Rexxar Learning the truth Rexxar wasn't going to just walk up to the place, knock on the door and ask to be captured and murdered. If nothing else, it wouldn't be the most efficient use of his time. So instead, he recruited an orc blademaster named Samuro (who may or may not be the same Samuro who now sings for a living, although I would personally find it amusing if he was) to help him distract the human guards around Theramore. Being an orc, Samuro came up with a cunning, subtle plan to hoodwink the humans. After gaining Rexxar's help with his own task (because, yet again, even if it's a mission for the freaking Warchief of the Horde, no one does something for free) of killing an errant Wildkin, Samuro subtly detonated explosives that indeed served to distract the guards. Rexxar made his way into the heart of Theramore and met Jaina. The letter Thrall provided and Rexxar's report of the human soldiers who had ambushed him gave Jaina enough pause that she demanded to see the soldiers attacking the Horde for herself, claiming that she would never countenance such an attack. The human's feist impressed Rexxar enough that he did as she asked. The two of them found the former human encampment destroyed by the naga, and after dispatching them, a single human footman was discovered. He told Jaina that "the Admiral" would be pleased to see her safe. Rexxar found Jaina's reaction of disbelief and shock a bit confusing -- but then again, she was a human, and they are a strange people. They hurried back to Theramore at her insistence, only to see more human ships arrive. Rexxar at first could not have understood the significance of it, but once Admiral Daelin Proudmoore made his presence known, things quickly became clear. The coming of the Admiral Upon seeing Rexxar, Daelin ordered his capture despite Jaina's objections, and so Rexxar and his allies fought their way out of the city. Realizing that this new figure was far more hostile to the orcs than Jaina had been, Rexxar immediately sought to inform an ally, namely Vol'jin of the Darkspear. Fighting their way to Vol'jin's side, they began clearing out various threats to he Horde in anticipation of the battle against Admiral Proudmoore. Rexxar rescued Baine Bloodhoof, the son of Cairne, from a party of harpies and enlisted Cairne's aid for the battle against the elder Proudmoore. He defeated the ogre lord Kor'Gall and brought the Stonemaul orcs into the Horde as well after surviving a gauntlet to test his worth. Rexxar's party of allies then looted ancient sites of power throughout the region, including the Tomb of the Ancients, the Magistrate's Temple, and the Den of the Lost. Rexxar even managed to return home to Outland breifly via a portal to Outland Arena, where he waged war upon potent entities in return for books of magical power. The Horde comes to Theramore So prepared and roused, the forces of the Horde assembled at Tidefury Cove. With the addition of the Stonemaul to their ranks, Rexxar had assembled an army more than capable of pushing Proudmoore's forces back, and Thrall recognized the Mok'Nathal's valor and ingenuity by naming him Champion of the Horde. To Rexxar would fall the honor and the duty of leading the Horde in battle against Proudmoore's forces. To be fair, this was a pivotal moment for the Horde. Although Rexxar had brought the tauren, trolls, even ogres to bolster the orc forces, the outcome of the battle would make or break the future for the young faction. It's not exaggerating to say that had Rexxar failed, the Horde would not have survived. Daeline Proudmoore had a sizable force and the will to use it, unlike his daughter. The two forces clashed at Proudmoore's forward stronghold, and for a time it could have been anyone's battle. In the end, the Horde broke the Kul Tiras ranks and pushed them back to Theramore. Both Rexxar and Thrall knew that wasn't going to be good enough. The Horde could not long survive a hostile naval power with Theramore as its base. And so, Rexxar took the fight back to Theramore Isle. In the end, while the Horde's troops fought against the humans of Theramore, Rexxar led his allies into the heart of the city, where he and Admiral Proudmoore met in combat. The old human was a surprisingly fierce foe, and he and his forces gave the Horde's champions pause, but in the end Rexxar struck down Daelin. With his death, so ended the battle. While the legacy of Daelin's death lasts still in Theramore, it ended the Horde's need for battle, and so they left Theramore and returned to Orgrimmar having proved themselves for the first time as a nation. With the victory also departed any further reason for Rexxar to remain in Orgrimmar. Citing his true home as the wild places, he left, appointing Mok'Morokk as his replacement as the leader of the Stonemaul. For a time, he would wander the wastes of Desolace and the wilds of Feralas before taking on a new challenge in Outland, near where he was born. With this battle, the future of the Horde was secured. Rexxar, a wild Mok'Nathal from the wastes, fought against threats both internal and external, reminded figures like Vol'jin and Cairne where their true allegiances were and defeated in Proudmoore the specter of the memory of the hate between the Old Horde and the peoples of Azeroth. If the Alliance can never say it has forgotten what the Old Horde did, the Horde can say that Rexxar freed them from it. Next week, whatever happened to the Dark Trolls?
 
43.Lichborne: A quick patch 4.1 primer for death knights
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

By the time you read this, there is a very good chance that patch 4.1 will be live, or the servers will be down while patch 4.1 is being implemented. If it's not this week, chances are that we'll see it next week. With that in mind, today seems like the perfect chance to get in one more quick rundown of patch 4.1's features for death knights. We'll discuss all the latest class changes, as well as look at a couple of other general changes that will affect death knights.

Class changes

New abilities and general changes All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown, including Mind Freeze, will now always connect. DPSers should almost always be hit-capped anyway, of course, but this will be especially useful for blood tanks who take some interrupting duties, which can happen quite often in 10-mans.

Many player-generated persistent ground effects, including Desecration, will now have a different visual effect for friendly and hostile players. If you're an unholy PvPer, this may help your teammates stay out of the bad stuff, so that's sure to be a welcome change.

Raise Ally now functions as a battle resurrection, costing 50 runic power to use with a 10-minute cooldown. It will share the global cap with Rebirth and Soulstone. How much you'll use this probably depends on your raid makeup and what other sources of battle rezzes you have in your raid or group, but it can't hurt to get it figured out. If nothing else, you'll probably want to create a quick mouseover macro to allow the casting of Raise Ally on fallen group members as easily as possible. This also means that the Glyph of Raise Ally will be changed so that it reduces the cast time on Death Gate. So I guess if you're really impatient to get back to Archerus and respec one of these days and you don't really want any of the other minor glyphs that badly, you're all set now.

Frost Frost got a nice little single-target DPS boost. Frost Strike and Howling Blast now do more single-target damage. Unfortunately, in return, Howling Blast now has a facing requirement, so no more spamming Howling Blast when you're running around kiting or avoiding standing in the fire unless you can take a page from the old hunter book and do a mid-air turn to get it off.

The biggest frost change is to Blood of the North, which will now permanently convert your blood runes to death runes. This is a change that should bring frost's mechanics into a bit more parity with the other two trees. Both the other trees' death rune producing strikes offer significant utility and are a meaningful part of their rotation, whereas Blood Strike for frost offered little more than a bit of filler damage. Rather than create yet another new strike or buff Blood Strike to ludicrous levels, they just let us bypass the blood strikes altogether. With the ability to throw out more Obliterates, we should also see an increase in damage from this change.

Unholy Unholy has seen very little in the way of changes this time around. Rage of Rivendare has been buffed a bit, and Desecration no longer triggers on snare-immune targets.

It is worth noting that there's some concern among min-maxers that frost's buffs have caused it to eclipse unholy in a major way in the PvE DPS department. We'll see how it plays out in actual practice in patch 4.1, of course, and whether unholy gets some buffs to make up the difference in the supposedly soon to be introduced patch 4.2.

Blood There've been some murmurs about blood receiving healing nerfs, but don't worry too much. Most of the reduced numbers you've seen out of datamining are nothing more than tooltip language fixes for existing hotfixed nerfs. In other words, we do heal less than before, but the nerfs have been live for a while, so those of you who are tanking veterans have already, in theory, gotten used to them.

There are, however, two relatively important nerfs to blood's capability. The first is that the Blood Shield mastery will now work only in Blood Presence. That means no more trying for large glyphed shields. This nerf is probably focused mostly on PvP and extreme soloing, but either way, keep it in mind if you want to try presence swapping for any reason while blood specced.

The other nerf is to our AoE threat. The healing portion of Death Strike will no longer cause threat. If you've ever had to peel a mob off a druid who stacked HoTs on you during a pull, you know how annoying heal threat can be. For a while, we had it working for us, but no more. It's unclear how much that healing threat was helping us, but at most, it'll probably just mean we need to use a few more Heart Strikes or Blood Boils. Regardless, watch your AoE threat a little more closely for a week or two so you can judge how much this nerf hurt you, if any.
New gear choices and gearing methods

Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman are new 5-man dungeons coming with the patch. They'll drop ilevel 353 gear, which is not quite as good as tier 11 raiding gear in most cases. If you're a non-raider or even a raider who's had bad drop luck or is looking to gear up an off-spec set, you may find some useful loot drops out of these dungeons. Check out our rundown of death knight specific drops for more information.

If you're looking to grab more PvP gear, you can also buy PvP currency with PvE currency. It may be just the thing you need to get a jump start on your resilience without having to put up with multiple battlegrounds of pain while you gear up.

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

The new dungeon finder Call to Arms feature will provide an extra rewards bag containing various useful treasures and a chance at rare mounts and pets to the role most in demand at the time of queueing. Since that role is likely to be tank almost constantly, death knights are in a good position to take advantage of that. Get yourself properly geared and specced for tanking with the following columns:
  • Blood Death Knight Tanking 101
  • Gemming, reforging, and other gear tweaks for blood death knight tanks
  • More blood tanking questions answered
These are the most immediate changes in the patch that directly affect our class, but of course, there's a whole lot more coming. Check out the official feature rundown, and stay tuned to WoW Insider for more patch 4.1 coverage today and in the days ahead.
 
44.The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Zul'Gearup
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host. I decided to wait until after 4.1 goes live (which I expect will be this upcoming week) to discuss arms in both PvE and PvP. Right now, for a short statement to tide you over, I'd say arms is viable in PvE and still strong in PvP. Part of the reason I want to hold off on discussing it is because I spent all week tanking and didn't get a chance to try arms out in raiding. So I feel like it would be disingenuous of me to tell you how awesome arms is in PvE right now when I haven't been arms outside of Tol Barad and Random BGs all week. (Well, okay, I've been arms on my level 70 alt. But do you care how arms is doing in outdated content? I don't think so. By next week, I should have had a chance to raid as arms after the patch 4.1 changes and should have a much better idea how it's shaking out.) That leaves us with this week. What do we talk about? Well, since I bend to peer pressure like a willow sapling (an extremely hairy one, but still), we're going to talk about patch 4.1's new heroics and a whole mess of new gear squarely between 346 blues and 359 epics. Yes, we're going to Zul'Gearup. Yes, I made that up. Yes, I'm suitably ashamed. The first thing to consider is how this gear is going to interact with our various spec changes. Protection isn't going to value hit or expertise any more than it does now -- but with Fury's Precision adding 40% damage from white hits, hit just got even better for fury, and with Fury's mastery dropping from 8 to 2 before gear, stacking hit (and getting more white hits with its added 40% damage) just became even more attractive for fury. Meanwhile, mastery will work better with arms than before (roughly 10% better, in fact). That all aside, let's start looking at some gear. Keep in mind this is gear that will either fill a hole that your average raider just hasn't managed to get a drop for yet or that a non-raiding player will use to upgrade his or her blues. Some pieces are surprisingly competitive with raiding epics. Tanking armor First up, let's look at some tanking plate. The Battleplate of the Amani Empire is comparable with the Hardened Elementium Hauberk crafted BP. It has fewer stats overall but an extra socket, meaning that you can tweak it even more for your own personal tanking style. It's a very solid piece, with dodge and expertise in addition to those two sockets, meaning you could reforge the expertise to parry or mastery if you wanted more defensive stats and sink two Solid Ocean Sapphires for more stamina than the crafted BP. Or you could put any one of a number of red or purple gems in to get that nice mastery bonus. I really like how much flexibility this BP offers. The Bone Plate Handguards are nicely itemized for pure avoidance, with dodge and parry on them. I'm still the kind of old-school tank who likes some threat stats on my gear, but that doesn't make these bad in any way, shape or form. I wouldn't have any problem trading up to them from any of these current 346 options. The Amani Armguards are fine, but unfortunately they're competing with a reputation epic from Ramkahen, the Sandguard Bracers, which are very similarly itemized and superior. If these drop and you don't have the Sandguards yet, snatch 'em, but you won't use them very long. The Coils of Hate are basically a very slightly inferior copy of the Hardened Elementium Girdle. A 20-stamina difference, 13 less strength, and 23 less dodge, but the same socket (and socket color) and very slightly more mastery -- the real issue here is, do you want to buy or craft the epic for your up-and-coming warrior tank, or save some money and try for this drop? Considering the belt can go for about 6k gold on my server, if I didn't already have it, I might be tempted. The Legguards of the Unforgiving have parry, a pure avoidance stat, and mastery, a mitigation stat that also generates rage via the Shield Mastery talent for protection warriors. With a parry rating socket bonus as well, I think they compare fairly favorably with the Legguards of the Unseeing off of Atramedes and are superior to any current 346 option. It comes down to if you feel you want or need that expertise on your tank legs. The Pauldrons of Sacrifice are again similar to a BoE epic, this time the random drop Heaving Plates of Protection. With the exception of the HPoP's having a blue socket with a mastery bonus vs. the Pauldrons having a red socket with a stamina bonus, these are extremely close. Considering I've seen the Heaving Plates auction for 39k gold, I have to think a lot of folks will be farming for the Pauldrons of Sacrifice. The Spiritshield Mask is a clear upgrade over current heroic drops like the Helm of Setesh or the justice point Helm of the Proud. It is, however, clearly inferior to the raiding Daybreaker Helm, but for a tank who doesn't raid, the Spiritshield is very good indeed and would serve you well waiting for the Daybreaker to drop. DPS plate Now that we've looked at the tank drops, what kind of DPS plate do the new instances have to offer? The Chestplate of Hubris is a solidly itemized, two socket-bearing epic DPS chest. While it's competitive with 346 drops and JP purchases (and for my money, probably superior to any of them), it loses out to the Elementium Deathplate, its most easily obtained epic rival. Mastery will still probably trump haste for fury and is about to be much stronger for arms. If you're not going to be crafting your own and don't have the gold for the BoE chest, the Chestplate of Hubris is far from a bad option. If you're hurting for crit, the Deathcharged Wristguards have a solid amount. But with hit going up in value for fury and mastery for arms, either spec would probably get more out of the socketable Alpha Bracers. Comparing the Jungle Striders with the BoE Corefire Legplates, I'm surprised at how much I like the Striders. For one thing, you can basically fill up on a great deal of your expertise in one item, while also getting more hit than the BoEs. A red socket gives you more room to customize your options. The Corefires are fine legs but often costly on the AH, and with the right choices, you could get as much or more out of the Striders without spending a dime at the AH. Non-raiders can eventually buy the Earthen Gauntlets, which are superior due to raw itemization and the relative chance of picking up the two-piece set bonus. But the Plunderer's Gauntlets certainly top any JP/reputation rewards or 346 instance drops. I'm not thrilled by all the expertise so far on the 4.1 drops, just because it seems the easiest stat to cap at present. Right now, neither DPS spec puts haste as its #1 or even #2 or #3 priority, and that's not likely to change in 4.1. So the Roaring Mask of Bethekk will most likely need some reforging to meet warrior needs. I would put it ahead of the Helm of Easeful Death, for example, but only because you can reforge away some of that haste and it has a red socket. And it looks freaking awesome. The Skullcrusher Warboots are pretty solid for either arms or fury. With hit and mastery, you can reforge away some of whichever stat you're less interested in to crit and be ready to roll. Most non-raiders will eventually pick up the Woe Breeder's Boots either off of the AH or for valors, but I personally think hit/mastery will be more compelling than crit/haste for either DPS spec in 4.1. Finally, the Skullpiercer Pauldrons have enough raw stats to beat out any 346 contender. They're inferior to raiding options, but if those haven't dropped/won't drop for you, these are a very solid option as well. With mastery going up for arms in 4.1 and hit being fairly easily capped for arms, these shoulders offer nothing superflous for an arms warrior. Fill things out with accessories We have two options for cloaks. The sadly outclassed Soiritguard Drape (defeated by a Hyjal reputation cloak as well as the cloak purchaseable via valor points) is the tanking cape, while the Hex Lord's Bloody Cape is inferior to the Floating Web from valor points but has two offensive stats that don't cap instead of expertise, easily capped for any DPS warrior. There's no DPS neck to be had here, but the Amulet of Protection is a very solid tanking neck and better than the JP equivalents. For rings, the Talonguard Band is a solid enough tank ring, although you may have all the expertise you need. (I expect prot warriors may reforge this exp to mastery, which pulls both mitigation and threat via rage generation.) The Ring of the Numberless Brood will be of interest to arms due to the mastery, but the haste still isn't terribly interesting; expect some crit reforging here. With Precision's extra 40% damage making hit more appealing, the Band of the Gurubashi Berserker may attract fury warriors, with a similar caveat about reforging some of that expertise away to crit or even mastery. There are currently no trinkets warriors would care about in these instances. Down to business: Weapons Finally, we're up to weapons. There are two options for 2H and four for 1H weapons. Unless you're playing an orc, human or dwarf, the two 2H weapons are fairly close in terms of desirability. A fury warrior, orc or not, will probably prefer Reforged Trollbane. For arms, Jeklik's Smasher may take the lead with crit and mastery and not easily capped hit, especially for humans and dwarves. Tanking warriors who remember the old Zul'Gurub will remember the rival to Quel'serrar, Bloodlord's Protector. The new version is a very solid tanking sword for modern tanks. It's purely itemized for avoidance statistics and will serve you well transitioning from heroics to raids. Rentaki's Soul Slicer, meanwhile, is itemized with expertise and mastery, meaning it could be a DPS weapon for SMF fury or a tanking threat weapon. SMF builds will also be interested in the Reforged Heartless and Zulian Slasher. While either could also serve as threat tanking weapons, I'd definitely think them better itemized for SMF. Finally, the Voodoo Hunting Bow, perfect for your DPS warrior in 5-mans looking for a ranged slot option. Not terrible for tanks, either, considering how sparse any sort of pure avoidance or even avoidance/mitigation weapons can be. And that's as comprehensive as a look at gear in PTR content can be. Next week, arms in 4.1
 
45.The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Zul'Gearup
.

I decided to wait until after 4.1 goes live (which I expect will be this upcoming week) to discuss arms in both PvE and PvP. Right now, for a short statement to tide you over, I'd say arms is viable in PvE and still strong in PvP. Part of the reason I want to hold off on discussing it is because I spent all week tanking and didn't get a chance to try arms out in raiding. So I feel like it would be disingenuous of me to tell you how awesome arms is in PvE right now when I haven't been arms outside of Tol Barad and Random BGs all week.

(Well, okay, I've been arms on my level 70 alt. But do you care how arms is doing in outdated content? I don't think so. By next week, I should have had a chance to raid as arms after the patch 4.1 changes and should have a much better idea how it's shaking out.)

That leaves us with this week. What do we talk about? Well, since I bend to peer pressure like a willow sapling (an extremely hairy one, but still), we're going to talk about patch 4.1's new heroics and a whole mess of new gear squarely between 346 blues and 359 epics. Yes, we're going to Zul'Gearup. Yes, I made that up. Yes, I'm suitably ashamed.

The first thing to consider is how this gear is going to interact with our various spec changes. Protection isn't going to value hit or expertise any more than it does now -- but with Fury's Precision adding 40% damage from white hits, hit just got even better for fury, and with Fury's mastery dropping from 8 to 2 before gear, stacking hit (and getting more white hits with its added 40% damage) just became even more attractive for fury. Meanwhile, mastery will work better with arms than before (roughly 10% better, in fact). That all aside, let's start looking at some gear.

Keep in mind this is gear that will either fill a hole that your average raider just hasn't managed to get a drop for yet or that a non-raiding player will use to upgrade his or her blues. Some pieces are surprisingly competitive with raiding epics.

Tanking armor

First up, let's look at some tanking plate. The Battleplate of the Amani Empire is comparable with the Hardened Elementium Hauberk crafted BP. It has fewer stats overall but an extra socket, meaning that you can tweak it even more for your own personal tanking style. It's a very solid piece, with dodge and expertise in addition to those two sockets, meaning you could reforge the expertise to parry or mastery if you wanted more defensive stats and sink two Solid Ocean Sapphires for more stamina than the crafted BP. Or you could put any one of a number of red or purple gems in to get that nice mastery bonus. I really like how much flexibility this BP offers.

The Bone Plate Handguards are nicely itemized for pure avoidance, with dodge and parry on them. I'm still the kind of old-school tank who likes some threat stats on my gear, but that doesn't make these bad in any way, shape or form. I wouldn't have any problem trading up to them from any of these current 346 options.

The Amani Armguards are fine, but unfortunately they're competing with a reputation epic from Ramkahen, the Sandguard Bracers, which are very similarly itemized and superior. If these drop and you don't have the Sandguards yet, snatch 'em, but you won't use them very long.

The Coils of Hate are basically a very slightly inferior copy of the Hardened Elementium Girdle. A 20-stamina difference, 13 less strength, and 23 less dodge, but the same socket (and socket color) and very slightly more mastery -- the real issue here is, do you want to buy or craft the epic for your up-and-coming warrior tank, or save some money and try for this drop? Considering the belt can go for about 6k gold on my server, if I didn't already have it, I might be tempted.

The Legguards of the Unforgiving have parry, a pure avoidance stat, and mastery, a mitigation stat that also generates rage via the Shield Mastery talent for protection warriors. With a parry rating socket bonus as well, I think they compare fairly favorably with the Legguards of the Unseeing off of Atramedes and are superior to any current 346 option. It comes down to if you feel you want or need that expertise on your tank legs.

The Pauldrons of Sacrifice are again similar to a BoE epic, this time the random drop Heaving Plates of Protection. With the exception of the HPoP's having a blue socket with a mastery bonus vs. the Pauldrons having a red socket with a stamina bonus, these are extremely close. Considering I've seen the Heaving Plates auction for 39k gold, I have to think a lot of folks will be farming for the Pauldrons of Sacrifice.

The Spiritshield Mask is a clear upgrade over current heroic drops like the Helm of Setesh or the justice point Helm of the Proud. It is, however, clearly inferior to the raiding Daybreaker Helm, but for a tank who doesn't raid, the Spiritshield is very good indeed and would serve you well waiting for the Daybreaker to drop.

DPS plate

Now that we've looked at the tank drops, what kind of DPS plate do the new instances have to offer?

The Chestplate of Hubris is a solidly itemized, two socket-bearing epic DPS chest. While it's competitive with 346 drops and JP purchases (and for my money, probably superior to any of them), it loses out to the Elementium Deathplate, its most easily obtained epic rival. Mastery will still probably trump haste for fury and is about to be much stronger for arms. If you're not going to be crafting your own and don't have the gold for the BoE chest, the Chestplate of Hubris is far from a bad option.

If you're hurting for crit, the Deathcharged Wristguards have a solid amount. But with hit going up in value for fury and mastery for arms, either spec would probably get more out of the socketable Alpha Bracers.

Comparing the Jungle Striders with the BoE Corefire Legplates, I'm surprised at how much I like the Striders. For one thing, you can basically fill up on a great deal of your expertise in one item, while also getting more hit than the BoEs. A red socket gives you more room to customize your options. The Corefires are fine legs but often costly on the AH, and with the right choices, you could get as much or more out of the Striders without spending a dime at the AH.

Non-raiders can eventually buy the Earthen Gauntlets, which are superior due to raw itemization and the relative chance of picking up the two-piece set bonus. But the Plunderer's Gauntlets certainly top any JP/reputation rewards or 346 instance drops. I'm not thrilled by all the expertise so far on the 4.1 drops, just because it seems the easiest stat to cap at present.

Right now, neither DPS spec puts haste as its #1 or even #2 or #3 priority, and that's not likely to change in 4.1. So the Roaring Mask of Bethekk will most likely need some reforging to meet warrior needs. I would put it ahead of the Helm of Easeful Death, for example, but only because you can reforge away some of that haste and it has a red socket. And it looks freaking awesome.

The Skullcrusher Warboots are pretty solid for either arms or fury. With hit and mastery, you can reforge away some of whichever stat you're less interested in to crit and be ready to roll. Most non-raiders will eventually pick up the Woe Breeder's Boots either off of the AH or for valors, but I personally think hit/mastery will be more compelling than crit/haste for either DPS spec in 4.1.

Finally, the Skullpiercer Pauldrons have enough raw stats to beat out any 346 contender. They're inferior to raiding options, but if those haven't dropped/won't drop for you, these are a very solid option as well. With mastery going up for arms in 4.1 and hit being fairly easily capped for arms, these shoulders offer nothing superflous for an arms warrior.

Fill things out with accessories

We have two options for cloaks. The sadly outclassed Soiritguard Drape (defeated by a Hyjal reputation cloak as well as the cloak purchaseable via valor points) is the tanking cape, while the Hex Lord's Bloody Cape is inferior to the Floating Web from valor points but has two offensive stats that don't cap instead of expertise, easily capped for any DPS warrior.

There's no DPS neck to be had here, but the Amulet of Protection is a very solid tanking neck and better than the JP equivalents.

For rings, the Talonguard Band is a solid enough tank ring, although you may have all the expertise you need. (I expect prot warriors may reforge this exp to mastery, which pulls both mitigation and threat via rage generation.) The Ring of the Numberless Brood will be of interest to arms due to the mastery, but the haste still isn't terribly interesting; expect some crit reforging here. With Precision's extra 40% damage making hit more appealing, the Band of the Gurubashi Berserker may attract fury warriors, with a similar caveat about reforging some of that expertise away to crit or even mastery.

There are currently no trinkets warriors would care about in these instances.

Down to business: Weapons

Finally, we're up to weapons. There are two options for 2H and four for 1H weapons. Unless you're playing an orc, human or dwarf, the two 2H weapons are fairly close in terms of desirability. A fury warrior, orc or not, will probably prefer Reforged Trollbane. For arms, Jeklik's Smasher may take the lead with crit and mastery and not easily capped hit, especially for humans and dwarves.

Tanking warriors who remember the old Zul'Gurub will remember the rival to Quel'serrar, Bloodlord's Protector. The new version is a very solid tanking sword for modern tanks. It's purely itemized for avoidance statistics and will serve you well transitioning from heroics to raids. Rentaki's Soul Slicer, meanwhile, is itemized with expertise and mastery, meaning it could be a DPS weapon for SMF fury or a tanking threat weapon. SMF builds will also be interested in the Reforged Heartless and Zulian Slasher. While either could also serve as threat tanking weapons, I'd definitely think them better itemized for SMF.

Finally, the Voodoo Hunting Bow, perfect for your DPS warrior in 5-mans looking for a ranged slot option. Not terrible for tanks, either, considering how sparse any sort of pure avoidance or even avoidance/mitigation weapons can be.

And that's as comprehensive as a look at gear in PTR content can be. Next week, arms in 4.1.

 
46.The pros and cons of extending raid lockouts
All through Wrath of the Lich King, I raided in a hardcore progression guild for 16 hours a week. We ran 12 hours in 25 mans and another three or four a week working on hard mode 10 mans. A lot of it ended up feeling like clearing content to get geared up to clear the exact same content but with more bells and whistlers (especially Trial of the Crusader, where we often ended up doing the same raid four times a week). So when Cataclysm came out, I shifted to a more casual, purely 10 man, six hours a week raiding schedule with a new guild.

For the most part, it's been pretty great, but one aspect of it is that with two hours a night, three nights a week, it can be a challenge to get through the farm content fast enough to get to the new bosses, especially once most of an instance is farm content. Even when you know all the fights and can burn through them, five bosses can take a lot of time to get knocked out in order to get face time on a new boss.

One of the innovations of Wrath of the Lich King was extending raid lockouts. What this allows you to do is to skip the bosses you already have on farm by, in effect, picking up where your last raid left off. Cleared everything but Nef last week and needing to work on the new encounter? Now you can just start up with everything you killed last week still dead. What could be the problem, you ask?

Well, for starters, if you have a DPS warrior who hasn't gotten his DPS shoulders yet, telling him that he's not going to get a shot at the ones off of Halfus this week because your raid is skipping ahead to Cho'gall can be a hard sell, even if you happen to be that DPS warrior and you know your raid leader's mind and why he's trying to get the progression kills. The up side of extending the lockouts is skipping over content you've already farmed, but if you haven't gotten the drops off of that farm content yet, you're costing a sure chance at valors and loot for wiping on new content that will take time to learn.

Some people also simply disagree with the notion of extending lockouts because they feel that if you can't clear up to and kill that boss without it, you don't deserve to kill it. I find this kind of silly. The amount of time you have to raid for whatever reason doesn't mean your players can't master the content, and if you're having to spend 1/6th of your time just clearing up to it before you even get to see it, how much face time are you actually going to get? But it's certainly an opinion a lot of people hold.

Extending the lockout is one of the most useful tools for a raid leader wanting to direct his or her raid at specific content. But it isn't always popular for a variety of reasons (less chances at gear, less valor points, an increased chance of an entire raid period spent wiping, purist reasons) that you have to keep in mind to balance out raiders wants and needs.

What's your position on lockouts?

 
47.Encrypted Text: Answers to your rogue questions
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments you have.

My favorite part of playing a rogue is the camaraderie that I can share with my fellow assassins. There's an amazing web of players that make up the rogue community, and they're willing to spend their time and energy to help other rogues out. Whether it's Antiarc and Aldriana's Shadowcraft or Ieatpaperbag's informational threads for combat and assassination, there's such a wealth of great information available for those who seek it. While our numbers may be few, the rogue community is still powerful.

If you have a question about your rogue that you just can't figure out, there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Elitist Jerks has a simple questions thread dedicated to quelling your uncertainties, and you can always consult a more senior rogue for advice and guidance. I regularly receive emails with questions from old rogues and new rogues alike. I've been seeing several messages with similar questions lately, and I think that the answers are worth delving into.

Should I go for my tier 11 four-piece bonus?

The short answer is yes, Deadly Scheme is worth wearing four pieces of our tier 11 set. The long answer is still yes, but with a caveat: Unless your guild is regularly killing Nefarian or Cho'gall, you're not going to be able to score four pieces of the set. You can buy the gloves, pants, and chest from the vendors for valor points (or get lucky against Argaloth), but the shoulders and helm of our set require tokens from the two end bosses of Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent. Our two-piece bonus is also very strong, and you'll probably want to aim for that first, but you can't even get your four-piece without killing a difficult boss.

If you're in a guild that's killing Nefarian and Cho'gall on a regular basis, you can usually pick up your four-piece without too much trouble. In terms of using the new bonus, you should simply play your rotation as usual. Assassination rogues will easily be able to use one Envenom every 15 seconds, making sure they never waste the proc. If you're playing combat, just make sure that you unload your Eviscerate before the Deadly Scheme buff expires. Subtlety shouldn't have any issues with squeezing an Eviscerate in, as sub's combo point generation is quite rapid.

Tips for Blade Flurry usage

My biggest piece of advice for a combat rogue trying to maximize Blade Flurry is to drop Rupture from your rotation while BF is active. Since Rupture isn't replicated through BF, you're only applying the debuff to one target. You could Eviscerate instead, which is then replicated on both targets, dealing double damage. The rotation essentially collapses into an Eviscerate/Slice and Dice spam until there's no longer an additional nearby target for you to cleave.

When is subtlety viable?

There's a lot of talk about subtlety in the various rogue circles, and I know several rogues who would love for the spec to be more competitive in PvE. Right now, subtlety is behind both combat and assassination in terms of DPS, and it's also more complicated to play. The spec suffers huge penalties whenever you can't focus on a target for long periods of time, and it has the worst AoE damage of any rogue talent tree. Subtlety simple doesn't excel at anything, in terms of DPS, and that's why you won't see any rogues posting amazing World of Logs parses of their subtlety DPS.

The one thing sub does have going for it is survivability. It's almost impossible to kill a subtlety rogue, especially for a raid boss that doesn't know any better. Subtlety has seen some usage by high-end rogues on fights with heavy incoming damage, especially the Valiona and Theralion heroic encounter. Unless you're playing a rogue at the highest level, there's really no reason to keep subtlety around as a PvE build. Now, if you want to PvP, subtlety is more than potent. Just make sure that you spec back into combat or assassination if you want to be taken seriously in your raid.

What poisons should I use for Mutilate PvP?

While subtlety is my preferred PvP spec due to the abundance of utility and survivability talents, assassination builds are still pretty strong. After consulting with some of my rogue colleagues, the best poison mix for Mutilate in PvP is Instant/Deadly. You need to have access to Envenom to finish off a target that's being healed, which means Deadly Poison is required. The question is usually whether Wound Poison or Instant Poison is more effective on your main dagger. I find that the mix of the Improved Poisons mastery bonus, the Envenom buff, and Potent Poisons push Instant Poison's damage way ahead of Wound's. Since we're a DPS class, we're looking to maximize our DPS, and Instant/Deadly is the best way I've found to accomplish that.

Various questions about assassination's rotation

Let me start by saying that there's nothing wrong with using 4-point finishers as an assassination rogue. I've heard of rogues using Shiv or Sinister Strike to up their combo points to the perfect 5, but it's a significant DPS loss. As an assassination rogue, you only have to CP generators: Mutilate and Backstab. If you're stuck at 4 combo points, just use the finisher anyway. The reason is that combo points are worth a ton of damage, and wasting them is awful.

There's a great chart of "damage costs" on Elitist Jerks that goes over how much damage you lose when you make a mistake with your rotation. Generating too many combo points is right at the top of things not to do, and so you'll always want to keep that in mind. When you're trying to figure out what to do, it's almost always better to either Envenom early or to use a low combo point Rupture. Wasting a Mutilate or Backstab is incredibly costly, abuse your finishers instead.

 
48.Blood Sport: The art of switching characters for PvP
Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 Gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in Blood Sport.

I've spent my time in the skin of many different classes when striving for gladiator. Even though my Cataclysm main has been a warlock for some time now, I've enjoyed the time I've spent on my mage, warrior, druid, rogue, death knight and paladin. While I also have a level 80 hunter, I quickly decided it wasn't for me (not being able to shoot people from point blank range bugged me far too much) and moved on to greener pastures. I have yet to play a priest or shaman in high-level arena, but I definitely wouldn't be surprised if I got the urge.

For better or for worse, I know a few things about switching main characters.

My overarching purpose in leveling up each of those classes was to use them for PvP reasons (including my warlock). I'd be lying if I said all my decisions were correct ones; most of them worked out very poorly due to lack of foresight. However, I have learned a few things from personal experience and from watching friends play Chutes and Ladders with alternate characters.

When not to play another class

The allure of an overpowered class can tempt one to switch characters. Such thoughts include gems like:
  • If I had a max-level character of that class, I could be one of the best players on my server.
  • Gearing out characters isn't that time-consuming.
  • I need a change.
  • Even if I don't like the character, an extra 85 will probably come in handy.
While those thoughts might be true, those reasons are rarely the actual driving force behind a character change. If we actually sit down and write out what we are really feeling, we get something like:
  • I want to be overpowered.
  • ... now.
Don't switch classes because you want to be overpowered. "Overpoweredness" comes and goes with patch notes. Every class in WoW history has been exceedingly strong in PvP at one time or another.

One of my closest friends decided to switch classes to maximize his chances of getting on a rank 1 team; it was still early in the season and he figured that he could become geared and skilled enough to succeed with it by season's end. It turns out that the nerf bat was only a few months away, while his original character got buffed like crazy! Had he just stuck with his first love, he would have been in a much better position. Sadly, he stopped playing his old main completely and swapped an undergeared, slightly overpowered character he was exceptionally skilled with for a very geared but lackluster tradeoff.

Don't switch classes because you want to play a certain team composition with friends. When I first got into PvP, I found myself making all kinds of new friends -- friends who wanted to succeed and had a blast destroying people in arena. One of these friends played the same class as I did, and sadly, it was pretty difficult to come up with a viable team composition with both of us on it. We tried a combination of 5v5 and 3v3, but nothing seemed to work. We alternated for a bit (he was just as good as I was), but due to playstyle and role inexperience, the teams we were on preferred me to him.

He decided to create a healer as his new main so we could play together. While he was no means below average at playing a healer, he just didn't mesh well once he hit max level with his paladin. He went back to his original class and decided to change battlegroups. Sad times. Turns out he was just as good as I thought he was, and he hit rank 1 multiple times on a different battlegroup. We're still great friends, and I'm so glad everything worked out well for him.

Sometimes things don't work out with team compositions. Yeah, it sucks, but there's absolutely no reason you have to make it work. You can play rated battlegrounds with friends now, and besides, arena isn't everything. Changing your main class just to do arena with friends isn't the most ideal of situations -- if you're going to try to make it work by switching classes, at least attempt to make it work by playing a poor team composition at first.

Don't switch classes because you had fun PvPing with a class at level 15. One of the best hunters on our server made a sudden decision to abandon his main to level up a priest. Good hunters are hard to find. Why did he decide to level a priest? You guessed it: He had a blast PvPing on a lowbie priest. This isn't to say that changing characters because you like a class is a bad thing -- we'll get there eventually.

Low-level PvP (especially in battlegrounds) is far different from top-tier arena. Dropping your main class that you've had great times on is not the most well-thought out of decisions. Who knows if you'll like it at max level? Things might change entirely; you might die far more easily than you thought you would, or the kind of teams you're required to play on might bore you. If you're having a great time on your main, take up the second class as an alt -- don't drop everything blindly!

I actually put down my main character (a paladin at the time) to play a hunter for this very reason. It might have been the worst PvP decision I've ever made within WoW. I sacrificed a rank 1 gladiator title and lots of friends (who were counting on me to heal for them) because I had a blast leveling a hunter. I immediately realized that hunter was not the class for me and dropped it after a month of hitting 80. Sad times, all around.

Reasons to play another class

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. -- Thomas Edison

You are not happy with your main character. For whatever reason, sometimes a class can be exceptionally boring. If you're an altoholic, you probably know boredom quite well. I personally love warlocks, but sometimes playing a warlock and nothing else is just a drag.

Keep the main your main character until you hit max level and have a few weeks of arena under your belt. It might turn out that all you want to do is play your new character. Go ahead and make it your main. Tell your friends, start thinking about future teams, etc. Until then, just treat it like you would an alt and don't give yourself over to it. Treat a new character like a fun fling, not a devoted spouse. You're still married to your first love, and it's going to take quite a lot for that divorce.

I know a guy who leveled six classes to max level before he found the one that was right for him. He hasn't deviated from it since he made it his main. I thought he was the epitome of altoholic. Mage, warrior, warlock, druid, rogue and paladin -- all didn't suit him, and he knew it. He hit max level with them and within a month he was back to something new. He had leveling to an art. On a whim, he decided to level a hunter and wham-o, absolutely loved it. I think a hunter has been his main for close to two years now.

You want to explore another area of the game. If you play a rogue but instead want to tank for a PvE guild, yeah, you're gonna have to switch characters. Again, treat it as an alt at first. You might not like tanking with that character. Actually, you might not like tanking at max level at all with any class. You also might not like PvPing on that character, either. There are a lot of "you might not" statements here because they're true -- the perfect class for you might be something you never expected, but then again, you might have already found it.

Still, I highly recommend diversifying your interests if your main goal is PvP. Arena and rated battlegrounds are always interesting because you're playing against humans and not a computer, but sometimes a change of pace is exactly what's needed. Variety is the spice of life, and WoW is no exception.

You have another class close to max level and you'd like to try it out in PvP. If you are a raider with an alt or two at max level (or close to it), perhaps it's time to test out PvP on one of the alts. Maybe you've tried PvP on your main and just don't like it -- but have you tried PvPing on your warrior alt that you use for gathering professions? You might love it.

Listening Music: I Got a Woman by Ray Charles. If you have only heard this via Kanye West, I am very happy I could be the one to present this to you.
 
49.Blizzard giving StarCraft 2 players 30 days of WoW
Blizzard has quietly begun giving players with active StarCraft 2 accounts free 30-day WoW accounts. Verified by several sites and lots of SC2 players, Blizzard just flipped the WoW switch on many players' Battle.net accounts, inviting them to come join the world of Azeroth.

Battle.net is a great asset to Blizzard, as it allows the company to easily facilitate subscriptions from all its games and create potential customers to its other games through the common account. Giving away WoW subscriptions is an easy and practically costless move that might get even more people hooked. If you know any StarCraft 2 players who haven't set foot in Azeroth yet, maybe it's time that they gave the game a whirl.

WoW Patch 4.1 is on the PTR, and WoW Insider has all the latest news for you -- from previews of the revamped Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub to new valor point mechanics and new archaeology items.
 
50.The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Cultivating single-minded fury

I tend to fill whatever role our raid needs, from raid leading to tanking to DPSing. As a result, I don't tend to be able to get very comfortable in any one role right now at this point in the expansion's early life cycle. In part, this is why I spent the last four columns talking about tanking -- because frankly, I can tank in my sleep in a high wind on a greased pole in the middle of a rhino stampede. DPSing as a warrior has always taken more work for me. One of the reasons is that I tend towards fairly heterodox ideas when it comes to warrior DPS, and the other reason is because in the back of my head, that tanking voice is always screaming at me to watch my threat.

Seriously, that guy will not shut up about threat. He's always in there, yelling at me every time I start to get comfortable as DPS. It has taken me the past several months to simply get to a place as a DPS warrior where I feel comfortable and able to get in there and cut loose and trust the tanks to keep aggro. That's their job. My job is to kill things.

In the last two weeks, I've been experimenting with both Titan's Grip and Single-Minded Fury builds. The TG build has the benefit of better weapons (we see 2H weapon drops like demented candy), but on the whole, they do fairly comparable DPS. Since some folks on Twitter asked for my take on the viability of SMF; here's the short answer, followed by hundreds of words of me going on and on about it.

SMF is viable. In some cases, it even pulls ahead on DPS. You should use whichever talent most fits your gear options and playstyle.

And now for the hundreds of words.

Whither the single-mindedness of thine fury?

The first caveat I really want to stress about SMF is that it is far, far easier to accumulate stats with two big two-handed weapons. They just have more of whatever they have -- more strength, more hit, exp, crit or mastery. The damage buff of SMF and its using both weapons to calculate Slam damage does compensate for this to some degree, but it's much, much easier to cap out on expertise or hit with TG than with SMF. (Well, okay, you're not going to cap out on hit unless you get very lucky. But its much easier to hit the 10% and 16% targets people debate constantly for current hit target thresholds with TG.)

The second caveat to raiding or running heroic instances as a SMF warrior is do not settle for agility weapons unless they are sincerely better than your available strength options. In one case (the Claws of Torment), there's a significant set bonus for wearing these agility claws alongside their strength-based counterparts, the Claws of Agony. And I'd still be tempted to use a strength-based weapon like the Soul Blade or Lava Spine instead of the Claws of Torment.

For an SMF build, I would at least get my hit up to 10%, cap expertise at 26, and then shift my focus on crit and mastery. After 4.1, the hideous mauling the fury mastery starting level takes may make you want to shift your hit back up to 16% or higher if possible, or you may stay at 10% and put more emphasis on crit. Either way, I tend toward emphasizing Incite over Deep Wounds in my SMF builds since the average damage of a SMF weapon is less than that of a TG weapon, but otherwise, the specs don't differ greatly. This is the SMF build I usually make use of. As you can tell, with SMF weapons hitting more often for less damage, I feel strongly about keeping as much mobility as possible with SMF.

For SMF, I tend to weight Bloodsurge Slam slightly behind Bloodthirst and ahead of Raging Blow, entirely due to Slam's hitting with both weapons.

The SMF pros and cons report

What I really like about an SMF build is it feels a lot less streaky than TG and much less bursty than arms PvE. For myself, it feels harder to gear for -- but not prohibitively so -- and the fact that on average, most weapons I'd use for SMF (strength-based one- and off-handers) tend to all clock in around 2.6 speed means they all hit about the same and generally make rage generation a lot smoother than on TG fury. We've all been standing around after having to move out of a fire trail or dodging sound bombs or what have you, waiting for rage to build back up so we can make some decent attacks. With two 3.6 speed weapons, that can seem like an eternity. If you hit an HS because everything else was on cooldown and then you get a sudden Bloodsurge or Raging Blow proc, it's a lot easier to get the rage back with SMF than with TG.

SMF doesn't have the AoE damage output of TG, though. Not even close. While it's exceedingly competitive (even superior to TG in some cases) when properly geared for on single target, your Cleave/WW combo is always going to hit harder with two two-handed weapons. On big trash pulls in Bastion, I never feel as happy doing the Heroic Leap/WW/Cleave combo when I'm specced SMF.

At least with SMF, it can be easier to gear up. There are several strength-based weapons in heroics that will get you up to 346 blue speed; you can buy an off-hand for a trivial amount of JPs, you can get one from Tol Barad, and there are several candidates in raids (one of the best, the Soul Blade mentioned above, dropping from Bastion trash, and another good alternative on Magmaw, the Lava Spine). There are fewer options in heroics for two-handed weapons. You can't get one for JPs, the Tol Barad one is significantly more expensive than the one-handed option, and the only two-handed weapon for warriors before Cho'gall/Nefarian is the one off of Magmaw.

I can usually hit about 18-22k DPS in a usual 10-man with either spec, and I'm nowhere near the top of my raid (pretty comfortably in third most nights) nor geared as well as the best fury warriors. TG provides me with more DPS entirely because I have two epics and make my caps without having to sacrifice my Fury of Angerforge to do it. The difference is about 1k DPS, depending on the fights, and frankly, I'm willing to accept that as an issue of my own skill and preference (I love TG, we all know I do) combined with gear issues.

The final tally

I honestly think the SMF/TG debate comes down to a quantum finish. I'm sure you could run sims and eventually come out with a decision between the two, but in the end, your own play, your available gear, and your preferences will affect the results in actual use the way observing a quantum event can change the outcome. Blizzard has, much to my personal surprise, managed to more or less balance SMF with TG to the point that it is personal preference and availability of supporting gear that should make your choice here.

I like TG for a lot of reasons. I like its solid AoE damage, I like how it looks, and I like the feeling of swinging big two-handers around. But SMF, outside of these very subjective issues, is absolutely raid-viable. You can use it, and it will perform so closely when used correctly that you're not at all hurting your raid to use it. I doubt they'll even notice the difference, so long as you're a competent SMF player.

 
51.Phat Loot Phriday: Helm of the Blind Seer
"I just think it's a contradiction," Throgg said. "That's all."

"If you bring up Starburst, so help me ... " Lolegolas threatened.

Throgg wrinkled his brow. "No. It's just that the Helm of the Blind Seer is odd. It's great for spell druids, I guess, but it's an obvious contradiction."

"You mean a blind seer? But that makes sense. It's a metaphor, an allegory. Like all 'I'm blind but I can see the future.' The kids love that stuff."

"Uh, no," Throgg replied. "It's that it's a helm. Shouldn't it be like a bandage, or maybe spectacles, or goggles, or something? And it's not even much of a helm. It's like some feathers glued together and lit up by a blacklight. Druids are all ravers nowadays."

"It's the mushrooms, man," Lolegolas sighed. "Mushrooms are bad news."

Helm of the Blind Seer
  • Type: Head, Leather
  • Armor: 1,356
  • Stamina: 512
  • Intellect: 281
  • Spirit: 228
  • Equip: Increases your critical strike rating by 168 (0.94% @ L85)
  • 1 Red Socket
How to get it: Get 9 to 24 friends together and defeat the blind dragon, Atramedes.
How to get rid of it: You can vendor this stack of feathers for 12 gold, 91 silver, and 46 copper.

 
52.Warlocks getting male and female versions of all demons
Zarhym just let out a pretty cool piece of information for warlock players -- some time in the future, warlocks will be getting the choice between male and female versions of all of their summonable demons. I'm happy to share we actually do have plans for offering players a choice between male and female versions of all warlock demons. This is a task already in our system, though I don't have a time frame for you at the moment. Other art tasks could always take precedence, but we're committed to making this happen. :) source It looks like warlock pets will be getting all new art as well as choices, potentially through glyphs, as to whether their demons are male or female. After reading this post, I quickly began to think about what each pairing of pets could be. Voidwalker and the voidmistress? Imp and girl imp? Succubus and incubus? Mrs. Infernal! I am eagerly awaiting all of this new art. We have no time frame for these new pet models, but I would not hold your breath for patch 4.1.
 
53.Patch 4.1 PTR notes updated for April 12
The patch notes for the Patch 4.1 PTR have been updated once again, bringing us the official word on the change to daily valor rewards, a helpful change for those left abandoned in Dungeon Finder groups, buffs to cat druid AoE, and more! Death Knight Rage of Rivendare again applies 15/30/45% additional damage to Plague, Scourge, and Festering Strike, up from 12/24/36%. Druid Swipe (Cat) damage has been doubled. Berserk is no longer on the global cooldown. Paladin Selfless Healer duration reverted back to 10 secs. Shaman Grounding Totem cooldown has been increased to 25 seconds, up from 15. Earth Shield healing done by Restoration shaman has been reduced by 20%. Nature's Blessing has been improved to 6/12/18% bonus direct healing on Earth Shielded targets, up from 5/10/15%. Glyph of Grounding Totem now increases the cooldown of the ability by 35 seconds, down from 45 seconds. Warrior Improved Hamstring now reduces the global cooldown on Hamstring by 0.25/0.5 seconds in addition to its current effects. Dungeons and Raids Players will now get bonus rewards 7 times per week (while earning less than 980 Valor Points) instead of once a day when using Dungeon Finder. When there is only 1 player left in a Dungeon Finder group, they will now be able to queue for replacements as long as they queue within 2 minutes or stay in the dungeon. Guilds The criteria on many of the profession-related guild achievements has been significantly reduced. Items The caster shaman 4-piece PvP set bonus now reduces the cooldown of Grounding Totem by 3 seconds, up from 1.5. User Interface The Network category contains the options "Optimize network for speed" and "Enable IPv6 when available". "Optimize network for speed" will be enabled by default, and will send packets more frequently at the cost of higher bandwidth. The higher bandwidth may lead to disconnects for some players who have limited bandwidth. Players getting disconnected frequently should try unchecking this box. source
 
54.Two Bosses Enter: Altairus vs. Eregos
In Two Bosses Enter, WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches, the bosses of World of Warcraft face off in the squared circle. Your vote determines who wins and claims the season title. "What!?" I hear you ask, trembling with rage. "Eregos!? He was a Wrath of the Lich King boss!" He sure was. Not only was he a Wrath boss, he was the winner of the first season of Wrath of the Lich King's Two Bosses Enter, long before our previous wild card, Scourgelord Tyrannus, was even in the game. "Uggghhh!" I hear you curse, trembling with only slightly less rage than before. "We've already had a Wrath boss wild card! You are just the worst!" Well, perhaps this bit of information will please you: There are no more Wrath bosses amidst the remaining wild cards. In fact, neither of them have appeared in Two Bosses Enter before at all. They could be anything. Anything. Who wins: Altairus or Eregos? AltairusEregosVote In last week's matchup, we saw Grim Batol's Erudax clash with Throne of Tides' Lady Naz'jar. There was a clear winner throughout the voting process, though it wasn't nearly the landslide that was Ozruk's win at the beginning of the tournament weeks ago. Gallery: Two Bosses Enter: Cataclysm season 1 Follow along for the details of this week's matchup, as well as discussion on last week's matchup. The rules of the ring The WoW Insider Ring is considered neutral territory, where both combatants are able to access their usual encounter mechanics and abilities. If you can't visualize it inside the squared circle, visualize it someplace else -- but you must take into consideration all of each bosses' abilities and mechanics. Assume that each opponent is intelligent and capable of strategic thinking. All of the competitors' abilities, including crowd control and other effects to which bosses are usually immune, work on their opponents (with apologies to considerations of lore on this point). Assume that the opponents share similar levels, health pools, and comparative overall damage output. Don't get caught up in gameplay mechanics and what actual players might do in each encounter. Don't neglect style, story, and scale. Everything is a factor; seeking balance is your goal as a spectator and judge. In Corner One: Altairus I don't actually say anything in Vortex Pinnacle, so here's some trivia instead! My name is Arabic for "bird of prey" or "flying one"! Whooo-ooooa! Altairus sits top Vortex Pinnacle, the realm of Al'Akir the Windlord. Altairus controls the wind and commands the sky itself. In this dragon-versus-dragon death match, can Eregos really top an opponent who controls the very battlefield in which they meet? Altairus's abilities include: Chilling Breath Lightning Blast Being downwind of Altairus will impede Eregos's combat ability, but being upwind of Altairus will be a benefit! Can Altairus keep Eregos downwind? Want to know more about the drake of the north winds? Then you should read up on his background as well as what other adventurers have had to say about him. In Corner Two: Ley-Guardian Eregos Such insolence... such arrogance... must be PUNISHED! Eregos dominated the first Wrath season of Two Bosses Enter. Even Loken, the most dangerous NPC in the game in the early months of the expansion, fell to Eregos. Sure, Altairus controls the skies, but Eregos has proven himself to be the most dangerous man dragon alive -- not to mention that as a blue dragon, he holds dominion over magic itself. Eregos's beefy toolkit includes: Arcane Barrage Arcane Volley Enraged Assault Planar Shift and summon Planar Anomalies Weren't around in Wrath of the Lich King? Didn't have the pleasure of wiping in Oculus for hours? Read about the horrors from firsthand reports of other players, then! Last Week's Winner: Erudax Erudax rocked last week's competition, and I'm going to pretend it's entirely because of Rai's fiction in support of the Duke of Below. His write-up was quite popular last week, so here's his depiction of what went down between Erudax and Lady Naz'jar. The deathly silence of the underground arena shattered as the Lord of Below smashed open the doors, lurching across to his half of the battlefield. As the entrance sealed behind him, Lady Naz'jar stood opposite him with her top two arms crossed. Both combatants eyed up one another, taking a moment to prepare. A pair of worker murlocs dragged in a cart of dragon eggs either side, carefully placing them on the ground against the wall. The Lady blinked and tilted her head at Erudax, who shrugged before charging. "You think you can withstand the force of the seas themselves?" Lady Naz'jar hissed, firing off a Shock Blast at Erudax. The mighty Duke of Below took the hit directly, singed by the lightning but reaching the Lady and beginning to smack her around with his arms. The two were locked in combat, Naz'jar being quicker but Erudax hitting harder each time. He let out a roar, as the room began to fill with a swirling purple vortex. Smirking to herself, the Lady moved into the eye of the storm, a large obvious circle and stood there, firing off another shock blast. "Predictable cretin!" she laughed. "We shall see" Erudax replied, as the nova subsided. As Lady Naz'jar prepared to charge at the hulking creature, she spotted two Corruptors lurching into the arena. Peering at the eggs and then back to them, she worked it out. "Oh no you don't!" Lady Naz'jar began to summon a geyser under one of the two sets of eggs, before firing off a shock blast at the corruptor headed for the other pack. Erudax stomped after her, hitting at her but she continued the assault, reaching the corruptor as it began to channel a spell onto the eggs. As the geyser on the other side of the room exploded, the second corruptor was killed, the aftershock of the geyser pushing the Duke away as she finished off the first with another shock blast. "Enough! Your pathetic attempts at egg scrambling are useless!" she cackled, leaping to the centre of the room and casting a waterspout. Water appeared from nowhere, encasing her as she grinned, her servants coming to her aid. Erudax stomped towards them, slowly being overwhelmed from all angles. Without a word, he began to cast Shadow Gale again, filling the entire room with the vortex. "Foolish creature! I am entirely protected for another minute! What could you possibly plan to achieve?" Erudax said nothing, pointing what would otherwise be considered a finger at her underlings. One of them, a Tempest Witch, was stood in the eye, but the other two were not so lucky. Lady Naz'jar continued to laugh, shaking her head with pity. Suddenly, there was a look of terror in her eye. Two more corruptors stumbled into the room as the Shadow Gale faded, before Erudax glared at the last assistant, casting Binding Shadows and draining health from the naga before killing it. The two corruptors moved into position and began channeling as Erudax turned to face the Lady. "Your cowardice will be your undoing." The corruptors finished their deeds with the eggs at approximately the same time the Waterspout wore off. Whelps burst forth from the eggs, flapping towards Lady Naz'jar and clawing at her. The corruptors began to drain life from her, throwing a heal at their leader. The Naga Lady grunted in agony. "You... Ozumat... you shall..." "No" Erudax said, smashing the Lady with an Enfeebling Blow, shortly before his assistants drained the last of her life. He nodded at the whelps, which began to feast. The Duke then turned to his corruptors, performed the equivalent of a Faceless One clicking their fingers and walked towards the exit of the arena, his cohorts in tow and his Gale of Shadows trinket in hand. Who wins: Erudax or Lady Naz'jar?Erudax5996 (69.5%) Lady Naz'jar2628 (30.5%) Personally, I was rooting for Lady Naz'jar so I could paste in this piece from Morohtar instead. C'est la vie. The battle begins! Remember, Two Bosses Enter matchups are all about substance and style, not gameplay, mechanics, and numbers. Don't base your strategies on player tactics, which opponent has been easiest or most difficult for you personally, or the difficulty of each opponent relative to instance progression. Vote for the spirit of the battle as set forth above. Set aside differences in opponents' health pools, game level, and actual damage output. Absolutely no game mechanics nitpicking!
 
55.WoW Moviewatch: The Fall of Cairne
Depending on how much you know about Horde lore, you may believe that Cairne was killed in cold blood by the evil despot Garrosh. Or you may believe the up-and-coming Garrosh was cruelly betrayed by a Horde member and framed for the murder of the gentle tauren leader.

This video sheds some interesting light on The Fall of Cairne. It sticks relatively close to the lore of the game, and it does a good job of presenting "the other side of the story."

There are two things that hold back my unmitigated love of this video. First, the vocals seem a little tinny in places. This is a challenge a lot of dialogue-driven movies have, since it can be hard to get audio compression just right. Second, the storyline feels a little decompressed; there are a few reaction and framing shots that could be a little shorter.

I adore this choice of topic, though, and I hope to see Captlightning keep going.

 
56.Totem Talk: Gearing your low-level enhancement shaman
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. On Saturdays, Josh Myers tackles the hard questions about enhancement. Can we tank? Can we DPS with a two-hander? How does one shot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and roll a hunter for the third!

Over the past four months that I've been at WoW Insider, I've spent a lot of time talking about enhancement shaman in World of Warcraft's endgame. From articles on gearing up through heroics, making the most efficient reputation choices, or killing Nefarian, almost all of my articles have dealt with playing at level 85. However, whether it's someone starting the game for the first time or someone who is just starting leveling a tenth alt, there are people out there without enhancement shaman at 85 yet -- shocking and unfortunate, I know!

Gear is an important part of leveling, as being well-geared means you're killing mobs more quickly and taking less damage, resulting in maximizing your efficiency. While it's theoretically possible to level an enhancement shaman in full cloth quest gear while dual wielding daggers, it won't be your smartest decision. That sounds like something Fox Van Allen would do, which means it probably isn't in your best interest.

Armor choices

Gear follows the same basic principles for low levels that it does at 85. Agility is still your bread-and-butter stat, giving you 2 attack power and some crit (depending on your level) per point. From levels 1 to 39, you'll be wanting leather gear. At 40, you'll start to make the transition to mail gear. While Mail Specialization is really nice, remember that it's only really important at level cap. If you have the choice between mail quest shoulders or the leather Stained Shadowcraft Spaulders, taking the 5% agility hit is worth the 10% experience gain.

For anyone with access to heirlooms, I strongly suggest purchasing the entire set before leveling up any new character. I started a warrior less than a week ago, and he's currently sitting at level 51. The 35% experience bonus from helm, shoulders, cape, and chest are just ridiculously good. The fact that all of the heirlooms are either on par with or better than same level rare drops is icing on the cake.

As enhancement, you have no real choice in helm or cloak heirlooms. For helm, you're going to grab the Tarnished Raging Berserker's Helm. For cloaks, you'll want the Inherited Cape of the Black Baron. These two heirlooms server a dual purpose: First, they make leveling easier. Second, their haste itemization makes it clear from level 1 that all mail/agility gear you will ever see is itemized for hunters. Learning this lesson at level one makes it much less painful at 85. You cannot enchant the heirloom helm, but if you have the discretionary income, you can hit the cloak with Enchant Cloak - Stealth. This gives 8 extra agility, which is awesome for low levels.

With shoulders, you have a choice. (Note: This will probably be less of a choice and more dependent on whether you have excess justice points or honor.) Champion Herod's Shoulder is a PvE-oriented heirloom purchasable with justice points, while Prized Beastmaster's Mantle exchanges crit for resilience and is purchasable with honor. They're both heavy on the all-important agility, so the choice is ultimately up to you. Unfortunately, there are no enchants for shoulder heirlooms.

For your chest, Champion's Deathdealer Breastplate is the only option. For enchants, there are two choices. For primarily PvE content, go with Greater Stats, as it gives 12 attack power, 40 hit points, spellpower and crit. If you want to level primarily through PvP, Enchant Chest - Major Health might be a better choice. You'd sacrifice some damage for greater survivability.

For trinkets, you're either going to want to grab an Inherited Insignia of the Horde/Alliance or two pure DPS trinkets. If you choose two DPS trinkets, you're probably going to want to grab double Discerning Eye of the Beast. At level 85, intellect is worth .87 EP in my gear. Haste is worth .35. Intellect more than doubles haste's equivalency points. At lower levels, when Earth Shock will be some of your biggest burst, it's even more important. That said, trinkets are your absolute lowest priority for heirloom purchases.

Weapons

The core of any enhancement shaman's DPS is weapons. Unfortunately, even though they're the biggest damage increase, heirloom weapons provide no experience bonus. As a result, they should be your second-to-last purchase, with only trinkets coming later.

If you still have the justice points to spend by the time you get for weapons, spring for dual wielding Venerable Mass of McGowans. A Bloodied Arcanite Reaper will serve you well for your first 10 levels too, but it's not worth buying if you're not going to be leveling a paladin, warrior, or death knight any time soon. You only want weapons that are of 2.6 speed or slower. Blue-quality 2.6 weapons will end up better than heirloom daggers, especially as you get higher in levels.

For weapon enchants, you have two main choices. First is Crusader, which is a 1 proc-per-minute enchant that gives you 100 strength for 15 seconds. The second is Enchant Weapon - Agility, which is a static 15 agility per weapon. There isn't an actual ICD on Crusader proccing, but for the sake of math, we'll assume it actually procs once per minute. This means that Crusader is equal to a static 25 strength on your weapon, though it can be timed with procs or racials for greater effect. 25 strength is equal to 25 attack power and no crit, while 15 agility is 30 attack power and crit that varies based on your level. It's the better enchant if all you're leveling is a shaman, but Crusader works if you're planning on leveling a fury warrior down the line.
If you can't purchase heirloom weapons, don't fret. The redesigned old world has tons of blue weapon quest rewards for you, and even more drop from instances. Here is a list of some of the blue weapon drops you'll see leveling in instances. While looking at it, remember that weapon DPS is the stat that matters most; the stats/procs are secondary concerns.
  • Ragefire Chasm Oggleflint's Inspirer
  • The Deadmines Smite's Reaver, Cookie's Tenderizer. (The only agility one-handed weapon in the instance is a sword; awesome itemization is awesome.)
  • Wailing Caverns Stinging Viper (I dual wielded these from 18-40 when leveling Elam in The Burning Crusade.) Serpent's Kiss is a little fast, but passable in absence of other options.
  • Razorfen Kraul Pronged Reaver
  • Scarlet Monastery Graveyard Bloody Brass Knuckles, Ironspine's Fist
  • Maraudon, all zones Fist of Stone, Claw of Celebras. The Claw is slightly faster than desired, but passable.
  • Uldaman Shovelphlange's Mining Axe, Galgann's Firehammer
  • Dire Maul (West) Well Balanced Axe, Timeworn Mace
  • Dire Maul (North) Hedgecutter, Jagged Bone Fist
  • Razorfen Downs Glutton's Cleaver
These are almost all of the instances you'll be doing between 15 and 45. Once you get above 40, you start to get hit with some of the longer instances: Stratholme, Scholomance, the Blackrock Spire twins and such. For brevity, I decided not to list their loot.

That's it for gearing your enhancement reroll; at a later time, we'll look into the nitty-gritty of specs, glyphs, and priority at low levels.
 
57.Shifting Perspectives: Murmurs' moonkin mailbag
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send your questions, comments, or something you'd like to see to tyler@wowinsider.com. Greetings once again, fellow owlbirds. I've returned once again after a weekend visit with the enemy. I'll spare the gritty details, but suffice to say that I was bored to tears for a majority of the trip and, in fact, the 15-hour drive there and then again coming back home was the most exciting portion of the trip. Not to mention, shadow priests make the worst hosts. Chalk that up as another reason why balance druids are just plain better. While I was away, my inbox got a little bit piled up, so I figured this was the perfect time to address all those burning questions in people's minds. Maybe it's a bit lazy of me, but, you know, I like being efficient sometimes (just not often). Let's hit the virtual books, shall we? What's with this whole mastery break point thing? Currently in the game, balance's mastery, Total Eclipse, has something of a rounding issue. Something got changed around during patch 4.0.6 that caused Eclipse to scale in a very odd way; it only benefits from whole numbers. This isn't whole numbers of mastery that you see on your character sheet -- it's only the bonus that you get from the actual buff that procs. These numbers occur at every 0.5 and whole numbers of mastery. Anything else is rounded down to the nearest whole. This means that if you have 10.3 or 10.7 mastery, then any of it over 10 or 10.5 isn't actually doing anything. This is clearly a bug and has actually been ninja fixed on the 4.1.0 PTR. Once the patch finally comes out, you won't have to worry about these break points any more. Due to this, I don't really think it's that worth it to go too deeply into tweaking your gear for something that won't exist in just a little bit of time. Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter? Yes, I've licked a lamppost in winter! Will Blizzard ever allow us to not use Moonkin Form? Probably not. Blizzard really seems to like the idea of druids shifting around, and the change with Tree of Life went over rather poorly within a wide section of the playerbase, so I really doubt Blizzard will be willing to take such drastic steps again anytime soon. There might be a model update at some point in time, though how good of a change that will actually end up being I don't know. During beta, is was said that it would happen at some point in the future with a patch, but it's also possible that the entire concept will go the way of the dance studio. How much mana regeneration do I really need? That's a rather tricky subject, as it all depends on a lot of factors. Some encounters are a little bit more mana-intensive than others, and raid composition has a lot to do with it as well. There's also the matter of what you are using your mana for -- solo grinding, 5-man content, or raid content. For 5-mans, you really only need as much as it takes to get through any given boss encounter, which is going to vary from boss to boss. That being said, you honestly shouldn't need all that much, no matter how you slice it, simply due to the fact that the encounters are so short. Having a little bit more will cut out any downtime you may have between pulls, but you aren't likely to have any to begin with. If you do, chances are your healers needs a mana break as well, so you shouldn't be holding up the group either way. When it comes to raiding, it's a little bit different. Realistically, you still only need as much as it takes to last the length of any given encounter, but there a little hiccup in that most raids are going to expect you to use Innervate on healers. This means that you really cannot always assume that you'll get your own Innervate, and you have to plan accordingly. The value of Dreamstate drops significantly in a raid setting, while the value of Moonglow and Furor will increase. In a general sense, I would say that you should probably be running with 2/3 Moonglow and 2/3 Furor as a minimum for entry-level raiding, switching out to only hold 3/3 Furor once you get full raiding gear. At that point, you shouldn't have any mana concerns for any encounter you come across. Which glyphs should I be using? I thought Starsurge was best. That's a little bit of a complicated answer, because glyphs really do change between encounters. If you want an all-purpose best glyph, then you probably want to go with Wrath, but there just isn't any way around needing to change for different encounters, depending on the situation. For pure single-target encounters, Wrath is the best, primarily due to all the work that we have to do with Eclipse in regards to the four-piece bonus. Starsurge only works if you are able to use Starfall on cooldown every time that it comes off cooldown. When you have to delay using the ability because of Eclipse procs, then you start cutting into your gains -- that, and Wrath no longer has the restriction of needing Insect Swarm up, which is a far larger deal than people think. When you get into AoE encounters, however, you'd probably better off switching to Starsurge. This is because Wrath will account for far less of your damage, as you'll end up casting far fewer of them overall. Your number of Starsurge casts shouldn't change all that much, though, since you can get a few uses out of Shooting Stars before losing an Eclipse proc. This way, you'll at least get some benefit from your third glyph instead of getting nothing. If we're talking about major glyphs, well, that's a lot easier to narrow down. Rebirth is a given. You can't risk bringing people back only to have them instantly gibbed, and you don't want to waste additional healer mana just to have them heal up a target. Then, you easily want to use Starfall, since it's a flat reduction in the cooldown. After that, you have something of a choice. There are a lot of encounters in which you can make use of Focus. It's an increase in damage, but generally the decrease in range won't be an issue, especially since 4.0.6. There are, however, some encounters for which you won't be able to retain the reduced range for Starfall. In those situations, it really doesn't matter what you use. Innervate works, but you shouldn't need the mana, anyway. Thorns can still be viable in a few situations where there are a lot of adds that have to be tanked, but those are rather few and far between. Why do you hate shadow priests so much? Because they're just terrible people. I've known quite a number of shadow priests in my time, and I don't think there's a single one that I've actually liked. A certain nameless priest in particular irritates me beyond reason. Is there anything you can't do better than shadow priests? There are! I'm not quite as good at begging, groveling, dying, or knitting pretty scarves for the winter. Oh, and I do admit that priests tend to look better in fancy shoes -- damn my trollish feet not fitting into anything sensible. I do look better in a dress, though. What do we call you now? I'm a boomlock. I know, it's confusing, but it does sound better than warkin. Or you could simply call me Murmurs, or Tyler ... Either works. Is there such a thing as too much haste? Not really. With certain combinations of procs or abilities or trinkets, you can still break the GCD on Wrath and Starsurge; however, this is rarely much of an issue. In nearly all of the cases that this is going to happen, doing so will also provide you with an additional tick on your DoTs, so it rather works out in the end. Now, as with everything else, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, if you have a haste trinket that you can use and you know it won't be up again before the encounter is over, then it's best to use it during a time when you are casting Starfire if it is going to haste-cap you on Wrath. Ideally, you use it just before getting into Solar, so that you get the maximum Starfire benefit and then be able to apply both of your DoTs with the effect still up once you hit Solar. There may come a time in the future that this is more of a concern, but that will just be something that we'll have to deal with when the time comes. There won't even really be a point that gearing for haste isn't the best choice, but the point at which you use haste trinkets or other such effects may be impacted slightly. Why doesn't my Moonfire macro work for Sunfire? It's very common to see this issue, and it's kind of understadable why it happens. Sunfire is a highly unique talent that isn't reflected in any other ability out there. The talent literally goes into your spellbook and untrains Moonfire, only to replace it with the Sunfire ability. Normally, this doesn't do anything; the game itself goes through your keybinding lists and replaces Moonfire with Sunfire. Macros, however, are a different story. Macros are direct inputs to the system, so to speak. Blizzard cannot innately change them the way that it does a common keybinding, so when you use a Moonfire macro during a Solar Eclipse, you are literally attempting to use a spell that does not exist in your spellbook. A fix for this is actually rather simple: You merely need to add a /cast Sunfire string to the macro just after Moonfire. This will cause the macro to attempt to cast Moonfire and, failing that, cast Sunfire instead. Blizzard has said that it would like to fix this little quirk, but I don't honestly see how that will ever be possible. Moonfire and Sunfire are entirely different spells in the game coding, and macros aren't changable by the game sever itself. This minor workaround is a very simple solution, though.
 
58.Patch 4.1 PTR: New PvE to PvP currency conversion
If you've seen the patch 4.1 PTR patch notes recently, one thing will probably jump out at you immediately. Namely, you can now buy Honor points for Justice points, and vice versa, and can also buy Conquest points for Valor points.

Updated 4.1 patch notes for April 7, 2011
General
  • Honor is now purchasable from the Justice Commodities Vendor at 250 Honor per 375 Justice.
  • Justice is now purchasable from the Honor Commodities Vendor at 250 Justice per 375 Honor.
  • Conquest is now purchasable from the Valor vendor at 250 Conquest per 250 Valor.
source


This is huge for people who have found themselves capped on one or another of these currencies for a while now. I know for myself I've ended up stockpiling heirlooms for characters I may or may not ever level just to keep below the JP cap. Now I can get serious about those last few PvP items I've been holding off picking up. I am surprised to see a Valor to Conquest conversion but not a Conquest to Valor one, seems somewhat unfair as it gives PvE players with access to a lot of Valor points a way to jump into PvP but gives no such return for PvP players who want to get a leg up in PvE.

Keeping in mind it's the PTR and is always subject to change, of course, this should be a more interesting solution to point capping than we've seen before with trade goods and suchlike.

 
59.Patch 4.1: Blizzard unveils dungeon finder Call to Arms
Blizzard just posted a huge announcement to the WoW community site, unveiling the dungeon finder's newest evolution -- Call to Arms. Aimed at reducing the time for dungeon queues, the new Call to Arms will give players the opportunity to queue for level-85 heroics as "needed" roles (tanks and healers) to shorten queues and be rewarded with goodie bags containing gold, rare gems, companion pets, and mounts like the Deathcharger's Reins, Swift White Hawkstrider, and more. Dungeon Finder: Call to ArmsIn patch 4.1 we'll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon. Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the "Call to Arms: Tanks" icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you'll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any. Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you'll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister's Terrace, and Deathcharger's Reins from Stratholme. This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don't feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing. While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn't be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn't keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they're cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don't get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won't feel like a waste of effort. We think it's a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it's actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we're pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well. source I am absolutely ecstatic about this idea, and hopefully, with new incentives to play healing and tanking roles, players will be more apt to take on these roles because of the extra rewards. DPS players are rewarded with faster queues and can always roll a tank or a healer to help the queue times out and get these rewards. Incentivizing playstyles is the best and frankly smoothest way of fixing queue times. Blizzard is going the right direction with this one, and much like how the random bag at the end of the Oculus helped out that dungeon, hopefully this new bag of goodies helps out random heroics in Cataclysm.
 
60.Blood Sport: Arena should be more like rated battlegrounds
Rated battlegrounds -- like them or love them, they're here to stay. While rated battlegrounds aren't perfect, they're definitely a lot of fun and a great way to pass the time. One of the things Blizzard placed a heavy emphasis on with rated battlegrounds, which you may or may not have noticed, is the simple and elegant rating system. The rated battleground (or RBG) system is pretty different than most other systems in the game.

I've been very impressed with it -- so impressed that I believe Blizzard should just copy it for arena. The whole world (of Warcraft) would benefit from making arenas more like rated battlegrounds, at least in this regard.

Differences in the systems

Here's a very brief summary of how the arena and rated battleground systems are different. (If you already know all this stuff, you can just skip to "Team hopping is awesome.")

Arena
  • Team rating (TR) The ranking of your team, this factors in how many points you get per week if your personal rating is close enough to it and your end-of-season rewards.
  • Personal rating (PR) The ranking of you as an individual, this factors in how many points you get per week. PR was designed to stop cheaters within the arena system.
  • Matchmaking rating (MMR) The number assigned to your team when the arena system queues you up. Teams with similar MMR will be paired against each other.
Rated Battlegrounds
  • Personal rating (PR) Your rating determines how many points you get per week. That's it.
  • Matchmaking rating (MMR) The combined PR of everyone on your RBG team. The system is designed to pair teams with similar MMRs.
Team hopping is awesome

My favorite part of playing arena in The Burning Crusade was the ability to just leave the team I was on and go play games with someone else. On some Saturdays, I would play for 10 hours straight with 10 different teams. The only penalty I received was leaving a higher-rated team for a lower-rated team (and that penalty was offset, as I could just rejoin the higher-rated team later on in the week). I quickly made a name for myself in the arena community on my server because I played with all the PvPers. The only reason I was able to do this was because there was no penalty attached with team hopping. You didn't have a personal rating that reset to 0 every time you joined someone else's team; team rating was everything back then.

Well, that doesn't exist anymore. Players are punished very severely for leaving their regular team to play with real-life friends (who might be just getting into PvP) or just playing fun games with a low-rated team.

However, the rated battleground system allows for team hopping. Your rating is tied to you as a player. There are no rated battleground "teams" -- one doesn't sign a charter to play a game of 10v10. No, players instead just join a trade chat PuG and battle it out. Don't like the PuG? Just leave it and join another one later, or form your own. It's a really sweet system. If your server is active enough, you can play with 100 different people in a single day by team hopping around rated battleground teams.

I wish arena got a giant facelift by implementing this system. Having players carry around an individual rating for arenas might seem revolutionary -- because it is. That four-digit number 1,800 would really mean something. It ties your character with how well you're doing in PvP.

If a 2,500 player with a 2,500 team rating and personal rating leaves his 3v3 to go play with real-life friends, he loses everything. His personal rating is reset to 1,000 when he rejoins his 2,500 team. By playing with real-life friends, sure, he might tank his rating down to 2,200 or 2,100. However, wouldn't you rather get back rating from 2,100 rather than get it back from 1,000? I know I would.

If that player plays with other teams around 2,500, chances are he won't be losing that many points at all (unless of course, those teams lose all their games). Even then, he's probably not tanking down to 2,200 in a single sitting, and even if he does, he has gotten a lot more experience with other people and might have met some new friends in the process.

If there is one giant benefit to changing the arena system to a player-based rating, it's team hopping.

Gaming with friends

Arena doesn't facilitate playing with new players. When your team gets high enough, you're forced to play with the same people week after week. Rated battlegrounds? Not the case. You can freely jump from one rated battleground team to another without any problems.

While I alluded to this in the previous paragraph, making friends is worth talking about at length. MMORPGs are based, in large part, on player interaction -- when player interaction dies, the MMO gets a lot less fun. I applauded the dungeon finder when it first came out -- heroics were made so much more accessible! It was awesome! But then I started noticing that player interaction from people on my server got much less interrelated. Getting people I knew together for a string of heroics was a big deal! I really enjoyed showing people how good I was at pumping out DPS, or healing my entire party up when things got heavy.

PvP is the same way. When you PvP with more players, you're excited to meet people who are good at PvP (or just make you laugh really hard) so you can play with them again. Rated battlegrounds have a bit of a monopoly on come-as-you-are PvP. I wish arenas were made more accessible to the masses so I could discover diamonds in the rough.

Just recently, I was PvPing with a priest in Arathi Basin. He kept me up through five people DPSing me down. I was pleasantly surprised at his ability to heal -- after he went OOM, I died, and he was still able to keep himself alive until I got back into the action. We fought five players off by ourselves -- just the two of us!

I invited him to my arena team, and we did a lot of games together. He's pretty awesome. He never really PvPed before, although he really enjoys being a valuable member of the team. I definitely snatched up a diamond in the rough with him. If there were more opportunities for players to connect via arena, this kind of thing would happen much more often. I'd love for that to happen.

 
61.Spiritual Guidance: Priest healing strategies for Cho'gall in The Bastion of Twilight
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen dabbles in shadow. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast. I've had this idea for a social experiment in my head for the past few weeks, where you lock five priests together in a room with nothing but Highland Spirits and force them to have a round table discussion about Lightwell. While I work on my hypothesis and proposal -- and find a way to bait Fox Van Allen into this possum trap -- you guys can finish reading up on the finer points of healing Cho'gall as a holy or discipline priest. Seeing as this is the last boss of The Bastion of Twilight, this will be the final installment of Spiritual Guidance's priest healing guides for this tier. Cho'gall: An overview Cho'gall is a two-phase fight featuring a long first phase that alternates between heavy tank damage and heavy raid damage for healers. The shorter, second phase is a chaotic burn phase that you'll have to keep under control, both with healing and execution. As always, before we get started, you'll need to get acquainted with the fight. The fight is not terribly complicated for healers, but you can check out L2R's guide to Cho'gall if you're not familiar with the basics. Coping with Corruption As you'll know from general guides, Corrupted Blood is the gimmick mechanic of this encounter. Players want to avoid the many forms of "fire" in this fight, as all of it will cause your percentage of corruption to go up, which can eventually result in you turning into an unhealable, faceless monster if it gets to 100%. Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do as a healer to reduce the amount of corruption your raid takes (since corruption is primarily caused by avoidable boss abilities), but you can help out in one tiny way. The second level of corruption, Corruption: Accelerated, is a debuff that will increase the rate at which an afflicted player receives corruption. Bad, right? Fortunately, Corruption: Accelerated is a dispellable magic debuff, so use Dispel Magic against it as quickly as possible. More and more players will end up with Corruption: Accelerated as a fight goes on, so make sure that this debuff is added to display on your raid frames. Also, Glyph of Dispel Magic comes in quite handy, especially in the second phase of the fight. Phase 1 In phase 1 Cho'gall will constantly summon a fire or shadow elemental, consume its powers, and then perform a corresponding attack on your raid. When he uses Flame's Orders (fire), he'll attack your tank with powerful melee swings and place patches of fire on the ground. For Shadow's Orders (shadow), he'll attack your raid with three pulses of AoE shadow damage. Cho'gall will alternate between both these orders, but if you're not paying attention for a moment, forget things easily, or just want a quick visual reference, it's useful to set Cho'gall as your focus so you can see what buffs he has. (Good for Twisted Devotion, which we'll get to later.) You can also just look at the hammer he's holding, which will glow red or purple depending on which buff he's consumed. You'll want to adjust your healing on this fight to match the output damage. Holy priests will find the duration of each buff is just right for them to switch between Chakra: Sanctuary and Chakra: Serenity. That means before the shadow attack, a holy priest might want to place Holy Word: Sanctuary, get some Serendipity stacks, and make sure the raid is topped off with Circle of Healing. For the fire attack, spam your single-target spells and use Holy Word: Serenity if you fall behind before the next melee swing. Disc priests, on the other hand, can respond to the fiery tank damage with the usual arsenal of strong, single-target spells (Penance, Greater Heal, etc.). For Shadow's Orders, prepare for the AoE by casting Power Word: Shield on as many players as you have the mana for, then cast Prayer of Healing after the pulses begin. Power Word: Barrier can also be used, especially if Cho'gall has a stack of Twisted Devotion. Let's explain that now. Conversion Cho'gall will periodically afflict members of your raid with Conversion, an ability that causes your allies to worship Cho'gall. If this goes on for too long, Cho'gall will gain Twisted Devotion, a buff that increases his damage. It is thus very important that Conversion-afflicted players be interrupted. The best ability to interrupting these players is -- wait for it -- Psychic Scream. Psychic Scream is instant-cast and AoE, so you can hit all the afflicted players at once without targeting. So if you're a healing priest, don't be stubborn about helping out with the crowd control. You're the best person for the job! Just know that right after you've used it, your friends will immediately be broken free of Conversion, so dispel Psychic Scream off them quickly so they don't run into anything bad on the ground. Oh, and if it wasn't obvious, you'll probably want to add Conversion to your raid frame display so you can respond quickly with Psychic Scream. There are also occasionally spawning adds in phase 1 called Corrupting Adherents. Priests should be mindful of this part of the fight in a couple of ways. First, when an add spawns and your off tank goes to pick it up, you'll immediately be splitting your healers between targets. If this happens to occur during Shadow's Orders, the healing will start to get stretched thin and you may want to consider using a cooldown like Guardian Spirit or Pain Suppression on whatever tank needs it most. (You can also reactively use these two cooldowns before Flame's Orders if Cho'gall has Twisted Devotion.) Most of the raid damage is avoidable when the Adherent is present, but there is a chance that you'll have to do some raid healing if anyone stands in fire for too long. Additional raid damage can also occur if your tanks and DPS don't interrupt Depravity, one of the abilities the Adherents cast. Your normal approach to AoE healing will work just fine in these cases. When an Adherent dies, he will always create a void zone under him that spawns miniature slime adds called Spilled Blood of the Old God. In addition to that, any existing void zones created earlier in the fight will also spawn miniature slime adds. So, to keep things orderly and make it easier to AoE down the slime adds, your raid will want to stack void zones on top of each other. That's where you can come in as a priest to help. A tank needs to kite the Adherent across the void zone as it dies in order to get the void zones stacked. A tank obviously can't run through the void zone, though, so depending on what abilities he has, you may end up using Leap of Faith to pull him across. Clever, huh? One last thing to note is that when the Spilled Blood of the Old God does spawn, you will almost always aggro them as a healer. You don't want to get hit by these adds, so counter their threat by using Fade every time they spawn. This is important because sometimes they will die slower, particularly late in the fight when there a lot more of them appearing at a time. Phase 2 Ideally, you'll go into phase 2 with a lot of mana so you can heal reactively to whatever your raid needs. This phase can be quite chaotic because corruption in your raid will start to increase since Cho'gall will be hitting the raid with Corruption of the Old Gods, a pulsing aura that damages and increases corruption. Remember that you'll need to stay on top of dispelling Corruption: Accelerated! In this phase, Cho'gall will also summon Darkened Creations, which are eyestalks that will channel a 75% healing and damage reduction debuff on members of your raid. Killing these eyestalks is a priority, because your raid is not operating at 100% output until they're all down. For that reason, even healers should try to help out with damage. Smite your heart out if you're a disc priest with Archangel. If you're holy, do the same, but I don't recommend taking on Chakra: Chastise; there is plenty of healing to do, and you don't want to get behind being in the wrong stance. Use cooldowns wisely I already mentioned how to use Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit, but that still leaves Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope and Divine Hymn. For Shadowfiend, you can use the little guy whenever it's convenient for you. Once very early in the fight and then again later in the fight is probably going to be the best choice, since phase 2 is so mana-intensive. You'll want to use Hymn of Hope sometime before phase 2 starts. I find the best time to use it is right after the three pulses of AoE shadow damage from Shadow's Orders. There is no urgency to heal the shadow damage once it's been dealt if everyone lived through it, so use the time immediately after to channel Hymn of Hope or a Potion of Concentration. I try to avoid using those abilities after Flame's Orders because while the shadow pulse will always be three ticks, the amount of times Cho'gall swings at your tank with additional damage will vary each cycle. Divine Hymn (and its older brother, Tranquility) are best if saved for phase 2. You can use them after your raid has killed all the eyestalks and you need to get caught up on healing quickly. Holy or discipline? This is one of those fights you can go either way on as a priest. The blend of damage will keep either priest busy, and cooldowns each priest has are on par with each other. That said, holy priests are perfect on this fight because of their ability to swap between two healing "stances," so it may be one of those fights you want to try out as both and see what works better for you and your raid. Questions? Concerns? Leave them in the comments. Also if you have any questions for future columns, I'll be getting into individual topics over the next week. If there is something you'd like me to cover, now is the time to let me know what. You may also be interested in reading Priest healing strategies for early Bastion of Twilight and Priest healing Ascendant Council.
 
62.All the World's a Stage: When roleplayers quit
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW. Have questions about roleplaying, or roleplaying issues? Email me -- I'm always open to suggestions! So here you are, roleplaying your heart out and having a wonderful time doing so. The character you made has all kinds of relationships with other characters around him. He has two or three close friends and countless more close allies. Maybe he even has an established in-game relationship, a character that could be considered a significant other. Or maybe he's involved in a really engaging and fun storyline with a group of people, and the story that they're roleplaying out is coming to a head. Then it happens. Whether it's burnout, real-life problems, an inability to pay for game time, a desire to play elsewhere, or maybe just an out-of-character disagreement, one of those people that you roleplay with suddenly disappears. The friend behind the character may have given his reasons out-of-character, and they may be perfectly reasonable -- but suddenly, that storyline or relationship that you'd spent all this time on has a gigantic, in-character hole, and there's simply no explanation for it. These days, this is all too common; any time you have a new expansion launch, there are inevitably players who simply burn out. But how do you handle the abrupt, unexplained, in-character loss of a friend? How loss affects roleplay There are a few different problems with losing a friend. The biggest and most evident of these is the fact that in all the roleplay you've been doing, suddenly your character has lost a friend, loved one, or a major character in a plot he's working through. While rationally, you understand the OOC reasons for his disappearance, the IC reasons are something that haven't been discussed. So you're left with a messy cleanup to do, the dubious task of trying to figure out how your character is going to react to this disappearance. Not only does your character have to deal with the disappearance, but the entire social circle of the missing character is also going to be left with nothing to work with. If the missing character was the linchpin in a particularly important plot that people were excited to be playing, that sudden disappearance is going to leave a lot of people very disappointed and maybe even angry that they don't get to finish playing through this great storyline they were so happy to be working with. If the missing character played the part of significant other to your character, you're left with an even greater gap in your character's life. Suddenly that person he come home to at the end of the day, that person that he loved, is gone. No explanation, no in-character reason given. What all of these have in common is that there is no "The End" to work with. Think of your character as a sort of ongoing story, and all the characters around you as ongoing stories as well. By having a character suddenly disappear, it's as if that character's "book" simply ended in the middle of a chapter with no explanation. There ought to be more to that book, but instead it simply ... stops. It's a jarring, off-putting situation to deal with. It's tempting to look at these situations as an all-around bad situation, but there's a bright side to losing a character, too. Even though your character has lost a friend or loved one, that loss leaves him with dozens of options. Don't think of it as a loss; think of it as the sudden creation of thousands of potential possibilities for roleplay -- and those possibilities could be even more interesting than what your character was up to prior to his friend's disappearance. Options for lost characters When you're sitting there with a giant hole in your character's life, it can feel almost overwhelming. As with any situation in real life, when you're stuck in one place due to a loss or a sudden change, it's usually not the loss that's the major issue -- it's what to do after that loss. The sheer number of things you could potentially do freezes you in place while you're trying to decide which option to pick. Think of it in terms of really loving ice cream, then suddenly winning a contest in which you are presented with millions of ice cream options -- but you're only allowed to pick one. Which one do you pick? Which is best? What if the one you pick isn't the best possible one to pick? There are hundreds of different explanations for lost characters. The first thing you should do is narrow down your choices. You can do that with one simple question: Do you want to leave the possibility of that character's return as a option, or are you pretty certain that character will never be making a comeback? Point of no return If you're reasonably convinced the missing character's player is never coming back to the game, it's fine to presume the character dead for all intents and purposes. The moment of death doesn't really matter; it's the reaction that's the payoff. Maybe your character received a missive from the commanding officer of a unit that reported his friend's demise. Maybe your character tries to search for his friend and stumbles across a bit of clothing or some other evidence of his friend's death. With this route, your character has a chance to grieve, mourn, and eventually move on -- and so do all the characters involved in the dead character's social circle. Future events and social situations may be colored by memories of the death and the circumstances surrounding it, so keep that in mind when you're making future contacts. Possibility of return If, however, you think that your friend might return to the game one day in the nebulous future, it's only polite to give them an avenue for doing so. This can be explained by a sudden disappearance -- perhaps the character was kidnapped, or rushed off somewhere in a hurry, but nobody really knows why. Taking this route also gives you the option of playing the search and rescue game. It's a game that OOC, you know you're not going to win, but IC, it can give a lot of opportunities for roleplay, regardless of the known outcome. Another option is simply retirement -- the missing character has retired from active duty to some quiet place in the middle of nowhere. This leaves you the chance to actually "interact" to a degree with the missing character, treating him as an NPC of sorts. You can use him as an advice giver, unspoken ally, and source for favors -- and if in the event you find yourself taken away from the game for a week or two, you can simply say that your character was visiting the missing character. There are of course countless other options, but what all of these options do is create an endpoint for that missing character's story, so you and your friends have a definitive event that occurred and you can move on from it. Instead of a gap, you've got the end to a chapter and the ability to move on into the next. A word of warning: When creating an ending for a character whose player has already left the game, be nice. Make their departure a positive one, rather than a negative one. After all, if they do decide to return to the game, it's easier to work them back into the swing of roleplay if they don't have to suddenly acclimate themselves to former friends that all view them with irrevocable hatred for some reason they aren't quite aware of. When you take your leave The other side of the equation here of course, is if you yourself are leaving the game, re-rolling on another server, or otherwise stepping away from roleplay with a particular character. What you have to remember is that that character has a definitive life not only for himself, but also in relation to other characters around him. That character's absence is going to leave a puzzle for other roleplayers to figure out -- or you can simply take care of the matter before you leave. Any of the options listed above will work fine for a character who is leaving. If you take a few minutes to set up your character's departure, you save your friends a load of confusion and frustration. In addition, you can leave yourself an easy way back into the game if you decide to pick that character back up again in the future. If you're dealing with your character having a significant other, that can get a little trickier -- it's not just a matter of creating an out that's easily explained. When you're working with departing from friends, that's generally easier to deal with -- after all, they can make new friends just as easily. But if it's a significant other your character is leaving behind, it's worth it to sit down with the player behind that character and figure out exactly how this is going to play out. Why? Well, while players can be fine with just referring to a lost friend as "Tom, the retired soldier who lives in a remote part of Elwynn Forest," and simply using him as an NPC, doing the same for a significant other can be incredibly frustrating. People like roleplaying relationships -- it's just one of those things that pops up that's an immediate appeal for a majority of roleplayers out there. The thought of having a character "involved" with someone who isn't really there, someone that isn't really going to respond, isn't as appealing as actually getting to roleplay a relationship with a character who has a real player behind them. Ideally, you want to sit down with the player behind your character's significant other and figure out what's going to happen. If you're the one leaving, do you expect them to remain forever devoted to a character who isn't really there? If they are leaving, are you comfortable with having your character devoted to the same? If the answer is no, then the two of you need to come up with a reasonable way for these two characters to split -- and that can be anything from death or kidnapping to a simple amicable parting of ways. The loss of a character doesn't immediately have to be a loss. With some planning and some creative thinking, the loss of a character can actually be a bigger boost to roleplay than if that character had actually stuck around. Not only is your character grieving or reacting to that loss, but also everyone else in that missing character's social circle is going through the exact same thing. This gives all these former friends and loved ones of that missing character a perfect opportunity to get to know each other better, because now they've got a common thread to work with and talk about. By creating a reasonable story for a missing character's exit, you're essentially putting a great big "The End" on that character's story. If handled correctly, you've also made contingencies for that character's eventual return, if it happens. Whether the player returns to the game, or whether they remain out there in real life handling those real-life things, at least your character's future can start from that endpoint and continue on from there -- and that's a gigantic relief.
 
63.Totem Talk: Enhancement shaman Q&A grab bag
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. On Saturdays, Josh Myers tackles the hard questions about enhancement. Can we tank? Can we DPS with a two-hander? How does one shoot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and I have no idea about the third. Last week, I asked readers to send in whatever questions they had about enhancement to my email. The two readers I have who are still using email (the archaic form of communication that it is) gave me some pretty awesome questions. For the rest my readers who have decided that email is so two-thousand-and-late, I also asked my Twitter followers to chip in with some questions on what they're struggling to figure out about enhancement. Of the questions asked, I picked four to answer. As always, if your question wasn't answered (or hasn't been asked yet!), shoot me an email at josh@wowinsider.com or tweet me at twitter.com/elamqt (I prefer Twitter!). Biting into Rockbiter What exactly is the use for the Rockbiter Weapon imbue, or if it doesn't really have a use anymore then can you grant some insight into why it might have been kept in the game in a useless state rather than simply removed like Sentry Totem was? -- Mully Athen Rockbiter is actually a pretty awesome tool in your arsenal for both PvP and PvE; it just requires a lot of care and preparation to be useful. The first function of Rockbiter Weapon is its Unleash Elements effect. Unleash Earth functions forces the target to attack you for 5 seconds. This is not a Taunt. Taunt effects move you to the top of the aggro list. Unleash Earth functions like the warrior ability Mocking Blow. It has no change to your aggro; it just forces the target to attack you for 5 seconds. After that time period, if you have not built up enough threat (such as through Frost Shock), the mob will return to the person with the most threat. A quick weapon imbue switches followed by an Unleash Elements can buy your healer 5 seconds of life while the tank reestablishes threat. The other use for Rockbiter is to pre-imbue to weapons with Rockbiter before entering an arena or battleground match. Then, equip your regular weapons and imbue them with a normal Windfury/Flametongue or Frostbrand/Flametongue setup. Set up two equip macros, one to equip your two Rockbiter weapons and one to equip your damaging imbue weapons. When you're being focused and you absolutely need the 10% damage reduction offered by Rockbiter, you can then switch weapons in combat and quickly swap back to damaging weapons when you're free. In that way, Rockbiter is akin to a warrior's Defensive Stance or a death knight's Blood Presence, reducing your damage output while increasing your survivability. Does enhancement really have problems? I've seen many QQ at the start of the expansion about Enhancement shamans and how they horribly did in raids, how bad they were in Arena, and how much they died in anything due to their lack of "defensive cooldowns". The peak came when Paragon downed Lady Sinestra without any Shaman in the raid...And Paragon even pointed out shaman concerns such as low Enhancement dps and very low healing throughput. My question(s) is (are): Are these concerns actually true? Is Enhancement that bad in raids? What is your opinion on all this QQ? -- Stand The thing to remember with any quote from a top-tier guild like Paragon is that they are playing on a level that practically no one else is playing on. They're so incredibly good and have such a pool of talent to choose from that minor imbalances in DPS become huge problems. Enhancement shaman DPS is in a fine place right now; while we're not the top DPS spec in the game (or even close to being there), we're at a point that our DPS is competitive with other DPS specs. A good enhancement shaman is going to do better than a mediocre shadow priest. A great enhancement shaman is going to do better than (or at least compete with) a good moonkin. Paragon doesn't really have mediocre players. They have good everything, and in that context of utter top-tier play, enhancement is worse off. For the other 99% of us, the spec is fine. Also, for the record: According to World of Logs, there are 63 enhancement shaman who have killed Sinestra on 25. Putting a leash on Unleashed Elements What's the deal with Unleash Elements? How does it fit into the priority, and when is the best time to use it? What is the best spell to use after it? -- Aaronsteinberg and Saandstom, Twitter The only spell an enhancement shaman ever wants to cast with Unleash Flame is Flame Shock, and you want that Unleash Elements-buffed Flame Shock to be up almost 100% of the time. Since the actual Unleash Flame buff lasts 8 seconds, you want to cast it any time there are fewer than 7 seconds left on your Flame Shock. Even if it is off cooldown before that (and since it has a wonky 15-second CD, there will be times it comes off sooner), you're going to want to delay it slightly. Once you're within that 7-second window, feel free to cast UE. Remember to use your higher-priority moves like Lava Lash, refreshing Searing Totem, and even Stormstrike to eat up your GCDs so that you can cast Flame Shock as the other one is about to fall off. UE is also tricky because it has a relatively low priority, but a UE-buffed Flame Shock is one of our highest priorities. What this means is that you want to prioritize attacks like Maelstrom Weapon Lightning Bolt above UE while the FS dot is still above 3 seconds, but if it gets down to 3 seconds, you want to fire off an Unleash Elements and get that buffed Flame Shock up. Hitting the hit cap How important is hitting the hit/expertise cap, also is it possible to hit the crit cap and what is it? -- OreoNation, Twitter Spell hit is an incredibly important secondary stat. A missed Flame Shock costs us a Flame Shock cast, and we have to wait 15 seconds for the Unleash Elements to be up. A missed Earth Shock or Lightning Bolt is no damage and lost chances to proc Elemental Devastation. Even more crippling is a missed Wind Shear on a Shadow Nova on heroic Halfus, damning your raid to a short run back to the instance. While less important than spell hit, expertise is really needed. For me, non-crit Lava Lashes hit for around 25,000 damage, fully raid buffed. A dodged Lava Lash is a lost chunk of DPS, while a dodged Stormstrike means 8 seconds with no nature damage debuff. While these stats are important, it's also worth noting that they're still secondary stats. In nearly all cases, agility is shown to have more value point for point than spell hit, meaning that you should only reforge and enchant for spell hit, never gem it. A 40 agility gem is almost always going to be better than a 40 hit gem. The only exception to this rule is if you are absolutely needed for interrupts, when capping spell hit is required. (However, this will be going away in 4.1.) The critical cap is a different beast entirely. It's a point where you cannot add any more crit to your gear without adding more hit to eliminate glancing blows. However, we reached critical cap in Wrath of the Lich King for three main reasons: Talents like Thundering Strikes gave us way too much passive crit. There were more crit-oriented raid buffs and debuffs than in Cataclysm. Wrath of the Lich King was never designed to support the gear levels we eventually got to, as Blizzard didn't decide to include hard modes with separate and greater gear until after the first tier of raiding. We were never supposed to hit iLevel 272 or 284 loot, and so we had way more crit at the end of Wrath of the Lich King than intended. All of these combined to make us worry about the crit cap. With all of those factors lessened or removed in Cataclysm, it should not be an issue.
 
64.Ready Check: Understanding boss positioning
Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop.

I have a few friends who usually play ranged classes but have now decided to try the wild, wonderful world of tanking. They're good players with a solid background in the math and mechanics of the game. They have solid reflexes and generally try to do a good job. But for whatever reason, they've struggled as they learned how to tank.

We spent some time chatting about raids, boss encounters, and the like. It was only after really getting into the setup of each boss that I realized the problem was boss positioning. I've been tanking for so long that I take boss placement and movement for granted. Experienced raid leaders and tanks take things like "dragon positioning" and "there's no cleave" to be shorthand for many factors. "Dragon positioning" is code language for "Aim the head away from the raid; it cleaves and tail swipes, so melee need to be at the 5 o'clock position."

There's a lot more going on there than a new tank or raider might realize.

Hit box

One of the most subtle aspects of tanking and positioning a boss is its "hit box." You can melee hit an opponent in WoW without actually touching your graphical character to your opponent's graphical character. Each character has a range around it that describes where the character is (versus where it appears to be). Think of it as a circle around the graphical representation. If your circle interacts with the boss's circle, you can hit it with a melee strike; obviously, it can also hit you.

Bosses tend to have very large hit boxes. The large hit box allows more melee characters to be in range of the boss without necessarily standing on one another's shoulders. Not all hit boxes are created equal. The hit box on Magmaw is fairly tight, for example, while it seems like Chimaeron has a gigantic hit box that extends virtually halfway across the room.

Moving a boss

The size of that hit box matters to a tank who needs to move a boss. A boss only moves if it's not casting and the target is out of its hit box. If you simply strafe from left to right, you may find yourself never leaving the extant hit box. If you don't move out of that hit box, the boss won't need to move.

You'll sometimes hear tanks say things like "this boss moves like a bus" or "he doesn't like to move." That's usually because of an enormous hit box. The tank really needs to hustle to get the boss to move anywhere at all.

During the first fight in Throne of Four Winds, for example, you'll fight the boss named Anshal. He puts green circles on the ground that the tank must kite the boss away from. During portions of the encounter, however, Anshal gets really really big, and his hit box gets equally bigger. You have to be at nearly opposite corners of the platform to move him at all.

These factors can prove challenging for tanks. Kiting a boss if relatively simple, but when the hit box is gigantic, they must move in a faster, more elegant fashion to put the boss where they'd like.

Cleave and cone

A frontal cleave attack and a cone attack are two typical, iconic moves for dragons (and part of why avoiding cleaves and cones are often called "dragon positioning"). A frontal cleave means that anyone standing near the tank is going to get hit by that melee attack, and a cone attack means that anyone standing in front of the boss is likely to get hit, no matter the range.

When a boss has a cleave or a cone, the tank must face the boss away from the raid. This is can be a problem, though, since it creates more distance between the tank and the healers. If the tank must move a boss away from the healers, there can be an interruption in heals because the cleave and cone has already created a mandatory distance.

A close cousin to the cleave and cone is the "tail swipe." Even if you're not facing a dragon per se, some bosses still issue an attack directly behind them. This is no worry for a tank or ranged DPSers, of course, but it's a huge pain in the neck for melee. (By default, melee attack their target from the rear.)

Perfect world

In a perfect world, your tank is at the 12 o'clock position of a boss. Melee are at 6 o'clock. Ranged DPS and healers are scattered around the boss at a decent range. Boss mechanics like void zones and fire mean you need to move to avoid damage.

In a perfect world where a boss doesn't demand special positioning, a tank should always strive to keep the boss's head away from the ranged DPS and healers. Don't go crazy to make that happen if the boss doesn't have a cleave or cone, but in general, folks should be away from the tank.

The reason you give a tank a wide berth on the floor is mostly habit and reaction time. By habit, keep the way clear so that no cleaves or cones accidentally mow down a non-tank. Reaction time is a bigger deal. If something horrible happens and the tank loses aggro, a little distance between the hit box and its next target provides time for the tank to taunt and get threat back. The further the boss has to walk to kill its next target, the more time the tank has to react.

Hopefully, these rules make things a little easier on new tanks and raid leaders. While every boss has different mechanics, these are the basic concepts that drive positioning.

 
65.Phat Loot Phriday: Reclaimed Ashkandi
The Reclaimed Ashkandi, Greatsword of the Brotherhood, hung limp in Throgg's hand. A weapon of great strength, suitable to the critical act of vengeance, the sword glinted over the slain dragon.

Throgg was sated. He was at peace. He finally felt calm, as if he'd spent the great rage to bring down Nefarian's home.

He jumped when a small hand gripped his shoulder. He didn't yelp, though. Not even a little bit. If someone heard a yelp, it was clearly a mistake.

"By the great Metzen's whiskers," Lolegolas gasped. "What went on in here?"

"Little chum!" Throgg shouted, crushing the elf in a spontaneous bear hug. "You're back!"

"I told you I needed a moment away," Lolegolas replied, sliding down. "I had to use the bathro -- Did you kill Nefarian?"

Throgg toed the ground with a foot. "I thought you were dead. Like, for real. Permanently."

Lolegolas issued a soft, low whistle. "Nerf orcs. Seriously. Orcs need nerfing."

Reclaimed Ashkandi, Greatsword of the Brotherhood
  • Type: Two-Handed Sword
  • Damage: 1,894 - 2,843 Damage (623.3 damage per second)
  • Speed: 3.80
  • Strength: 341
  • Stamina: 512
  • Equip: Increases your hit rating by 228
  • Equip: Increases your critical strike rating by 228
How to get it: Kill Nefarian. If you happen to be a vaguely plate-wearing orc, it seems to help to leave the blood elf AFK.
How to get rid of it: You can sell it for 43 gold, 5 silver, and 72 copper. Or turn it into a Maelstrom Crystal.
 
66.Know Your Lore: Interbellum Part 3 - To rule a world
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

So now the stage has been set. The exiles have all arrived on the blasted remnants of Draenor, once the home of the orcs and last refuge of the draenei. Following the events of Ner'zhul's attempt to lead the orcs away from their dying world, the planet was shattered and torn asunder, pulled violently into the Twisting Nether that Ner'zhul's portals linked to its surface. Now Outland, a world drifting in the nether, is the remains of that destroyed place. A world where natural laws are often suspended, it hung overripe waiting for a clawed hand to pluck it.

That hand belonged to Magtheridon. Second among the pit lords only to his master Mannoroth, Magtheridon was the one the Legion chose to conquer this world, unique among all the planets formerly taken and crushed by this army of demons. For Ner'zhul's portals still worked, making Outland a kind of nexus wherein the Legion could pull entire armies through at will and easily stage them for new conquests. Holding Outland therefore gave the Legion a strategic foothold, one they were loath to give up.

However, circumstances were unfolding that would lead to exactly that.

Part 1: Forcing Fate's Hand
Part 2: Into the Outland


A prince, a lady, and a desert to roam

Upon their arrival on Outland (using a portal created in Dalaran to escape Garithos and his troops), Kael'thas and Vashj set to look for Illidan. Vashj had told Kael'thas that the creeping malaise he and his followers were enduring was withdrawal from the arcane energies they had so long used with abandon, energies that had been destroyed with the Sunwell when Arthas Menethil had used it to raise the necromancer Kel'Thuzad from the dead. Since the Sunwell was gone, if Kael'thas could find no substitute, his people would become increasingly ill as the addiction worsened. Vashj had told Kael'thas that her own people had suffered just such a withdrawal (as had his own, since they were at one time one people) after the destruction of the original Well of Eternity and that Illidan had an understanding of the situation, since he himself had been present during the events of the long-ago War of the Ancients.

By now more than just a little desperate, Kael'thas went along with Vashj. Stranded in an alien landscape of floating islands of rock and seared red soil, his blood elves and her naga searched for Illidan. They did not find him in the best circumstances.

Again in chains

Illidan for his part had fled Lordaeron following the confrontation with his brother Malfurion. He knew that in failing to use the Eye of Sargeras to destroy the Lich King, his patron Kil'jaeden would consider his life forfeit. Being somewhat attached to his life and desiring to hold onto it, he'd used the memories of Gul'dan in his head to consider a new place to retreat to: Gul'dan's former home of Draenor.

Sadly, Gul'dan's memories didn't include things that had happened after his death, like the fact that his former mentor had blown the whole place up. Illidan arrived on a world ripped into pieces and soon found himself hunted through this unfamiliar landscape by his former jailer Maiev and an army of her Watchers. This force ran him to ground and captured him.

In fact, they had just managed to secure him for transport when Vashj and Kael'thas finally tracked him down. After a running battle with Maiev's forces, Vashj and Kael managed to free Illidan from their hands. At first daunted when Illidan told Kael'thas there was no cure for the inherited addiction to magic wracking his people, the blood elf prince was willing to ally himself with Illidan when told that doing so would mean enough magical energy to sate the addiction and spare his people a slow death at its hands. With Kael's blood elves and Vashj's naga at his disposal and Maiev and her Watchers defeated and no longer a threat, Illidan was free to move on with his plans to secure Outland.

Against the demons

Illidan needed a place where he could hide from Kil'jaeden while consolidating his own power. Outland provided for both. As it no longer existed as a complete world in the Great Dark Beyond but was now a fragmented mass drifting in the Nether, it could only be accessed by powerful magics such as portals and vessels that could travel the dimensions, making it far easier to secure against the Legion. If you could seal the portals, you could effectively control your enemy's access to you far more readily than you could otherwise. Also, by having access to such portals, once you were in control, you yourself could scour all existence for powerful magical secrets.

Illidan saw in Outland the perfect first step in his campaign to not only escape the wrath of Kil'jaeden, but in time, to replace him. And why not? Illidan had gone from a mere night elf sorcerer to an entity powerful enough to kill a dreadlord with his bare hands; given enough time to accumulate power and knowledge, he could well found his own rival rorce of demons to oppose the Legion.

Kael'thas pointed out to his new master that the portals would need to be dealt with before Magtheridon. Any attempt to supplant the pit lord was doomed to failure. This led to a series of forays to seal up the portals before taking on the pit lord, and it was Kael'thas who saw a group of krokul, or broken, draenei under attack by orc forces loyal to Magtheridon. Possibly from compassion and possibly from his own inherently manipulative streak, Kael'thas helped the broken against the fel orcs and demons; in so doing, he brought Akama the elder sage and his broken into the service of Illidan.

Akama, formerly a defender of the Temple of Karabor who had mutated due to heavy exposure to fel energies (draenei, with their inherently magical natures, are extremely susceptible), found himself waging a guerrilla war against the numerically superior and magically powerful demons and their fel orc servants. With the world shattered by Ner'zhul and the demons ever increasing their numbers, Akama had very little hope of keeping his tribe intact or even alive, thus making an alliance with Illidan's forces the surest way to do both. While it would be a mistake to assume Akama was loyal to Illidan even then, he certainly preferred the former night elf to Magtheridon.

With this final piece of the puzzle, Illidan finally had the army he needed to wrest control of a world from the Burning Legion.

Magtheridon falls

Illidan closed each portal, defended by his assembled forces. Bolstered by this successful campaign, the armies of the Betrayer marched on Magtheridon's stronghold in the Black Citadel (formerly the Temple of Karabor; as an aside, yes, the whole Black Citadel/Black Temple/Hellfire Citadel thing is messed up, but don't ask me to untangle it all here).

With the help of Akama's broken, who snuck into the temple and disabled its defenses, Illdan stormed the citadel itself and engaged first Magtheridon's fel orcs and demons, then the Pit Lord himself. In the end, cut off from his forces and used to waging straightforward battle against weaker foes that he easily crushed with his raw physical power, Magtheridon fell to the power of two of the greatest living mages and one of the best archers in existence.

Unable to comprehend his defeat, Magtheridon asked his conqueror if he had been sent by the Legion to replace him, a question Illidan mocked with triumphant laughter. Informing Magtheridon that he was in fact not sent to test him but rather had come to replace him, he had the pit lord sentenced to a fate worse than death. Imprisoned below the Hellfire Citadel, Magtheridon's blood would be used to create an army of fel orcs for Illidan's personal use.

Still, while Illidan's plan to conquer and hold Outland was successful, it had not escaped the notice of Kil'jaeden. It's debatable whether or not the manifestation of Kil'jaeden that appeared to Illidan following his defeat of Magtheridon was actually merely a vision or not, but one thing is certain: When confronted by Kil'jaeden, Illidan quickly lied through his teeth and claimed he had been amassing his forces for another attempt to destroy the Lich King. This blatant lie was so bald-faced that Kil'jaeden, despite all evidence to the contrary, accepted it. The new "Lord of Outland" would have another chance to destroy the Lich King. (I have to wonder if this was Gul'dan's influence at work, as it reminds me of when Gul'dan created death knights just to keep Orgrim Doomhammer from killing him.)

Next week, we see what had been transpiring in Lordaeron while all of this took place. Who would meet Illidan's forces in battle at the Frozen Throne? Why is a former high elf making an alliance with Garithos? Who rules the plaguelands? And who, exactly is the Traitor King?

 
67.Lichborne: Blood Death Knight Tanking 101
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

A lot has changed since the last we did a Blood Tanking 101 article. There's only one tanking tree for death knights now; you don't need to worry about defense rating; and parry haste is a thing of the past.

While we have talked about various aspects of Cataclysm blood tanking in past columns, this column is meant to be your one-stop shop for all things blood tanking, to give you a general idea of what you'll need to do to start seriously tanking at the heroic dungeon and raid level as a death knight.

Blood tanking stat priorities

Stamina In the Wrath era, stamina was more than the king of stats -- it was the lord high emperor. In Cataclysm, things are different. You can consider stamina something of the viscount. It's still a very important stat, and you definitely want to have a high health pool, but you don't need to focus on it to the exclusion of all else. Cataclysm health pools are set up to be incredibly high, and Cataclysm bosses mostly avoid high-damage attack gimmicks, so you can generally have a lower health pool and stay partially healed for longer without dying (assuming you juggle your tanking cooldowns well, of course). With that in mind, don't go too much out of your way for stamina anymore, and don't be afraid to regem for mastery or avoidance if you need more of them.

Mastery Mastery is an incredibly nice stat for death knight tanks, as it feeds into Blood Shield. For the most part, you'll want to reforge for mastery wherever you can. The larger your blood shields, the longer you survive.

Parry and dodge ratings While you can get a small amount of parry rating from strength, most of it will come directly from the stat's appearing on your gear. Unlike in previous expansions, parry and dodge rating are actually essentially equal in diminishing returns, so you should aim for equal amounts. Don't be afraid of their being slightly unequal, but where you can, gear, reforge, and regem to keep them relatively equal. It's worth noting that avoidance is still heavily reliant on the RNG, so you can still get incredibly unlucky from a bad streak of failures. Still, between Blood Shield and your health, you should be able to weather it.

The exact amount of parry and dodge rating you should have is still under strong debate in the death knight community. The current strategy for most death knight tanks is to get your avoidance to some arbitrary amount (generally somewhere around 15% for heroics and 30% for raids), and stack mastery above and beyond that. Another option is maintain two sets of armor, one that focuses on mastery and another that focuses on avoidance. This, of course, will take time and many drops, so it's not feasible for everyone.

In the end, the best way to choose between mastery and avoidance may be to take a look at your playstyle. If you like having more direct control over your survivability, pump up your mastery and use Blood Shield. If you prefer to let the system take care of it whenever possible, pump up avoidance and hope the random number generator favors you.

Hit rating Hit rating is now arguably a survival stat, as Blood Shield will not be activated if your Death Strike misses. You'll need 8% hit to assure that doesn't happen. That said, chances are you'll just hit it on the next GCD, so unless you're consistently dying over the course of one GCD, you probably don't need to obsess about hit rating. Just let hit rating come when it does, and maybe consider not reforging it away.

Expertise rating With the demise of parry haste, expertise has lost a lot of ground in the tank stat race, being demoted from a defensive stat to a pure threat stat. It can still provide some extra threat, but for the most part, the general consensus for it is the same as it is for hit rating. Don't struggle to hit the 26 expertise soft cap, but if you get some gear with expertise on it, consider it a bonus. Akirus the Worm-Breaker is a great death knight tank weapon for this very reason.

Armor Armor is still an incredibly useful stat that allows you to mitigate massive amounts of physical damage. You'll probably come across as much armor as you need just by equipping tank gear, though, as extra armor on gear is mostly gone as an itemization gimmick in Cataclysm.

Strength Strength is a threat stat, even a very minor survival stat, thanks to the existence of Forceful Deflection. That said, it's never something you should actively seek. Let it come to you on tank gear, and it should be more than enough.


A typical PvE blood tank build

This build is a very typical PvE raid tanking build for a blood death knight. It incorporates frost as a secondary tree in order to take advantage of the Lichborne/Death Coil healing trick. You'll notice the conspicuous absence of Abomination's Might and Crimson Scourge. While both talents have their uses, they simply don't contribute the raid tank's main jobs of boss tanking and threat or survivability. If you feel like you want some extra AoE threat power or need to provide the attack power buff to your group or raid, the best way to redistribute points is to take one point out of Epidemic and one point out of Scent of Blood. Other options for spending those two "extra" points include Endless Winter, which can be very useful for a tank who needs to double on interrupt duty.

The linked build also contains some recommended glyphs. Don't be fooled by Glyph of Death Strike. It only increases the damage of Death Strike, not the healing (which is now disconnected completely from Death Strike's damage), so it's not that great for tanking. One thing you may wish to consider is to swap out Glyph of Death and Decay for Glyph of Death Coil. With the recent nerf to Glyph of Death's Embrace, the Glyph of Death Coil can provide a much needed boost to the Lichborne trick's healing power.

Rotations and rune usage

Like the DPS specs, blood tanking doesn't so much have a rotation as it does a priority, since Runic Empowerment can provide new runs at any moment. Make sure you're in Blood Presence at all times, as you'll really want the extra defense, threat, and that extra rune refresh speed from Improved Blood Presence.

First, always make sure you have your diseases up, at least on bosses. Blood Plague provides the Scarlet Fever damage debuff, and Frost Fever provides an attack speed debuff. Both directly contribute to your survivability in a relatively major way. Diseaseless tanking may still work on weaker trash, but for the most part, those debuffs are too important to lose now. After that, your priorities will fall to strikes in order of effectiveness and utility.
  • Rune Strike remains our most powerful threat producer. Use it whenever you have the runic power to do so unless you're saving it for an immediate use of Lichborne healing.
  • Death Strike is a key cornerstone to any rotation, providing both threat and survivability via Blood Shield. Also, since Blood Shields now stack, you don't have to worry about timing your Death Strikes. Just churn them out as you have the runes.
  • Heart Strike will be used if only to keep your blood runes on cooldown. Otherwise, you'll probably end up using Death Strike for the survivability.
For an AoE damage priority system, you'll definitely want to keep Death and Decay up. You'll also want to use Outbreak and Pestilence to get diseases spread if needed. Other than, tab target with Rune Strike and Death Strike for survivability, and use Blood Boil for more than three mobs, Heart Strike for two to three mobs.

When you need to use a tanking cooldown, use your priority system to get your threat rotation focused. You can use Blood Tap for minimal disruption, of course.

This covers the very basics of what you need to know to gear and play your death knight tank. Next week, we'll focus on gemming, enchanting, and reforging strategies for the blood death knight tank.

 
68.Weekly Podcast Roundup: March 21-27, 2011
Every Monday evening, WoW Insider brings you a long list of WoW podcasts that were published the week (and weekend) before. If you don't see your favorite podcast listed, just let us know in the comments. Be sure to leave a link to it, and we'll pick it up next week.

All podcasts and content belong to their owners. WoW Insider is not responsible for what you hear, and some of the content may not be safe for work.
  • All Things Azeroth OMG it's Thrall!
  • The Instance Transparent
  • Rawrcast This is Only a Test
  • Twisted Nether Blogcast Shades of Lore
  • 1% Wipe I Can Be Your Healer, Baby ...
  • 5 WoW Things Apo A Go GO
  • Ask Buxley Places to sit
  • The Addicted Pax East 2011 and more!
  • Bind on Equip War! ... Games, what are they good for?
  • Casually Hardcore Barry and a Baby
  • Circle of Healing Podcast Episode 12
  • Ctrl-Alt-WoW Tiny dancer on the yellow brick road again
  • Epic Podcast Goatcaller Speaks
  • Girls gone WoW Show 9
  • Group Quest Cheeky Brits!
  • The Guardian Tank Podcast Episode 38 (Balanced for the Future)
  • Havoccast Our Adventure Begins
  • Horde House We're like Priest Triplets!
  • Hunting Party Podcast Episode 75
  • Ladies of Leet Episode 37
  • Leetsauced Podcast Redhawks Strikes Back
  • Legendary Lost at Sea
  • Leveling Azeroth We're Still Alive!
  • Liquid WoW The One With the Lowered Bit Rate
  • The Mana Cooler Abundant Amberjewels
  • The Obscurecast Gilneas Calling
  • Outlandish Muy Pequeno
  • The Overlores Purple Straps Robot Wolfcat
  • POW W.O.W. We'll Always Have Azeroth
  • Slash2 Episode 69
  • Team Waffle Podcast Fasc's Druid Dating Service
  • Ventchat Feetchat
  • Voices of Azeroth Is This Thing On?
  • Warcraft Less Traveled Secrets of Old Ironforge
  • Wowcohol A Redistribution of Health
  • Wowphiles Podcast I Need To Do a Dance
  • WoW: While Servers are Down Episode 10
 
69.Know Your Lore: Sinestra and the Night of the Dragon
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
My master... He continues the work that his progeny began.
Though the Black Dragonflight is in the process of dying out, that isn't stopping Deathwing from trying to keep it alive. Sort of. Over the course of Warcraft, Deathwing has been on a very deliberate mission to repopulate the world with dragons of his choosing. During the Second War, Deathwing discovered the location of the Demon Soul, a powerful artifact he created back during the War of the Ancients in order to control the other dragonflights.

Deathwing wasn't able to wield the Demon Soul, however -- the other Aspects placed a powerful enchantment on the device so that he would no longer be able to use it. But Deathwing was a very clever dragon and realized this meant he simply had to find someone else to use it in his stead. Through visions, he led a powerful orc from the Dragonmaw clan named Zuluhed the Whacked to the artifact. Zuluhed couldn't decipher how to use the thing, and so he handed it over to his second in command, Nekros Skullcrusher. Nekros then promptly used the thing to enslave Alexstrasza the Dragonqueen.

Deathwing's mission

The whole purpose of Alexstrasza's imprisonment was to force her to breed, her children to be used as slaves, mounts for the orcish Horde. Meanwhile, Deathwing made a deal with Ner'zhul: The children of the Black Dragonflight would gladly assist the orcs in their plans, in exchange for Deathwing's safe passage to Draenor. Once on Draenor, Deathwing dropped off a stash of black dragon eggs. Alliance forces discovered the eggs, but not all of the things were destroyed -- and when Deathwing confronted the Alliance, the mage Khadgar nearly tore Deathwing apart. The black dragon fled back to Azeroth.

This is where we step into the story of Rhonin and the machinations we spoke of in last week's Know Your Lore. Deathwing's plans for the eggs in Outland weren't really known, but it was assumed he was simply giving his children someplace to grow and thrive, someplace where they wouldn't be hunted. His efforts in freeing Alexstrasza were in order to obtain her eggs as well.

This was Deathwing's ultimate plan: He wanted his own dragonflight, dragons dedicated and devoted to him, and only him. Though no dragon living trusted Deathwing, the unborn whelps could be raised to trust him, to follow him, and to carry the bright, hot seed of hatred for the mortal races of the world that Deathwing carried with him. Deathwing ordered his children Nefarian and Onyxia to work on enslaving the orcs in Azeroth as his servants.

But what Deathwing didn't account for was the destruction of Draenor -- or what it would do to the eggs carefully placed there for protection and future use.

Dawn of the Twilight

As a result of Draenor's explosion, the eggs left behind were infused with raw energy from the Twisting Nether, resulting in a new dragonflight far more powerful than simple black drakes would have been. These Netherwing dragons feast upon magical energy, able to fade in and out of corporeal form. Fully sentient and capable of communicating with other races, the Netherwing soon found themselves hunted by the orcish forces that remained on Draenor, including the Dragonmaw -- led by Zuluhed the Whacked.

The orcs were intent on capturing the eggs and using the netherdrakes as their mounts, much as they had mastered drakes of the Red Dragonflight years before. But a curious visitor arrived in Outland, lighting upon Netherwing Ledge and demanding the eggs in exchange for the assistance of the Black Dragonflight (or what remained of it). Her name was Lady Sinestra, otherwise known as Sintharia, and she held the distinction of being the only mate of Deathwing to have survived over the years.

Sinestra's children, Nefarian and Onyxia, had continued their plan of domination even in their father's absence. Nefarian took his father's wishes one step further and began performing experiments on the various dragons of the world in order to create a new hybrid, a chromatic dragonflight that would be beholden to his father. But Nefarian fell, and his sister Onyxia fell, too, leaving nobody behind to continue Deathwing's plans.

Sinestra, on the other hand, wasn't beholden to Deathwing at all. In fact, she hated her former mat; breeding with a dragon composed mostly of molten lava isn't a terribly good idea, and the experience scarred Sinestra for life, burning away part of her face and leaving her in constant pain thousands of years later. Sinestra traveled to Outland as part of a master scheme, half comprised of her former mate and her children's plans, but with the end result of furthering her own purpose.

Once the nether eggs had been gathered, Sinestra took them to Grim Batol -- the same place that Alexstrasza had been imprisoned so many years before. The place itself was viewed as cursed by the dwarves who once used to inhabit it, so the black dragon wouldn't be interrupted while she continued her work. In addition to the netherwing eggs, Sinestra had another ace in the hole: a full-grown Nether Dragon she had captured named Zzeraku.

Taking the various eggs she had collected, Sinestra used a magical artifact called Balacgos' Bane and the Demon Soul to extra the essence of Zzeraku and infuse it into the eggs. Her son would doubtless have been proud if he'd known what his mother was up to; it was a continuation of his efforts in Blackwing Lair. But the combination of Netherwing energies along with the draconic eggs created the most vicious dragonflight Azeroth had ever encountered, the Twilight Dragonflight.

Now wait ... Rhonin destroyed the Demon Soul in Day of the Dragon, correct? He did, yes -- but Sinestra managed to find the leftover shards and fuse them together into a shabby reconstruction of the once indestructible artifact. Content with her experiment's progression, Sinestra bided her time in Grim Batol, crooning over her new "children" and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

Night of the Dragon

Sinestra wasn't alone in her efforts. Assisting her was a sin'dorei, desperate for magical energy to sate his addiction and willing to ally with anyone in order to take care of the issue. His name was Zendarin Windrunner, a cousin to the Windrunner sisters, including Vereesa, wife of Rhonin. Zendarin tried to kidnap Vereesa and Rhonin's twin boys but was unsuccessful in the attempt. That's when he retreated to Grim Batol and allied with Sinestra, in a secret bid to try and take over the Twilight Drakes as his own personal source of magic.

Vereesa Windrunner, in the meantime, was furious at the attempt to kidnap her sons. After arranging for the safety of her husband Rhonin and her twin sons, she left to track down Zendarin and put an end to him. But what she discovered there wasn't just Zendarin -- it was Sinestra, the eggs, the reformed Demon Soul and the Twilight Dragonflight.

Grim Batol was far from the secluded place that Sinestra had originally intended it to be, and Zendarin was far from the placid ally she required him to be. In addition to the attempted kidnap of Vereesa's children, Zendarin also murdered a draenei who had traveled to Azeroth and stolen a staff imbued with powers of the naaru that the draenei carried. The draenei, however, had a traveling companion and friend named Iridi who carried a twin to the staff and who wanted her own revenge on the sin'dorei murderer.

Along with Iridi and Vereesa, the mountain of Grim Batol had come under the watchful eye of Korialstrasz and the blue dragon Kalecgos. Korialstraz sensed something peculiar about the mountain, and Kalecgos was sent to investigate Grim Batol after starting one too many fights with his fellow blues.

If you think this is getting complex ... it is. Grim Batol has been the source of conflict ever since the War of the Three Hammers, when the death of Modgud, wife of Sorcerer-thane Thaurissan, spread an evil taint among the halls of the fortress. Since that time, Grim Batol was almost cursed to become a place of eternal battle.

But we aren't done with the players in this particular story, because Vereesa's husband Rhonin was also traveling to the mountain to find his wife. Rhonin, together with Iridi, managed to forge an alliance with the raptors of Raptor Ridge, and the two travelers along with an army of raptors also advanced upon Grim Batol.

Needless to say, by the end of the story, Zendarin was dead by his own devices. His selfish attempts to control the Twilight dragon Dargonax led to his inevitable demise in the belly of the dragon. Dargonax, frustrated with Sinestra's attempts to control him, turned on his "mother" after Vereesa managed to shatter the Demon Soul for a second time. Iridi used the powers of her staff and the last shards of the Demon Soul to destroy the Twilight Drake and Sinestra along with him.

... or so it was commonly thought. And as the gathered forces attempted to celebrate their victory, far below Grim Batol, Sinestra's "master" lay in wait. After all, Deathwing had discovered many, many years before that he could not use the Demon Soul himself. What better puppet to wield its powers than his former mate? Sinestra thought she was turning her back on her flight and creating a flight of her own; in reality, she was simply responding to the machinations and whispers of her former mate.

Deathwing had his superior flight of dragons, for the caverns below Grim Batol were filled with eggs left over from Sinestra's experiments. He also had a method of creating more, something that is discovered in the Bastion of Twilight. Sinestra still lives, though her body is torn asunder, and she performs the duties once held by Alexstrasza in Grim Batol.

Sinestra's fate, ultimately, is as an egg factory for Deathwing and the Twilight Cult, producing black dragon eggs to be turned into twilight eggs. She will have her flight of children -- but her sanity is far gone, her body in tatters, and her mind apparently devoted to Deathwing entirely. Much like her children Nefarian and Onyxia, Sinestra now appears only to serve Deathwing, and Deathwing alone. Whether her devotion is borne of newfound appreciation for her mate or of the combination of Deathwing's might and the Old God's control is uncertain, but as long as she lives, she will continue to produce her beloved Twilight children until the fall of Azeroth is a certainty.

 
70.The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Cataclysm tanking, part 2

Last week we talked about tanking etiquette and how you can deal with the heightened stress of tanking an instance without convincing your run that your brother is actor Emilio Estevez. This week, we're going to talk about how you, as a new or returning warrior, can learn how to tank.

I've been playing warriors for a long time now. Right now, I have three 85 warriors that I'm working on, for DPS, tanking, and PvP. This means to some degree I'm in a constant state of relearning the class. In addition, I'm leveling a druid, DK, and paladin for tanking purposes as well, because I think it does help you as a warrior tank to see how other classes tank. (So far, my perspective is that paladins and DKs are brokenly good and druids need a little work. I don't pretend this is unbiased.) The first and best advice I can give someone who wants to learn to tank is, go out and tank things. While this is akin to the old teaching people to swim via throwing them in deep water approach to swimming, it has several advantages.

Read Cataclysm tanking, part 1.

Don't drown
  1. First off, there really is absolutely no better way to get an understanding of threat and threat mechanics than to get experience tanking in an instance. Sure, you can read about it (sometimes in great detail), but in the end, I'm very much a proponent of hands-on experience.
  2. Tanking a run gets you used to making pulls and gives you an understanding of how mobs react when pulled. All the little tricks you'll learn in a few runs as a tank are things that are very hard for anyone to teach you. For instance, Battle Shout or Commanding Shout are often best used after a pull, especially a ranged or LoS pull where you're trying to get mobs to come around a corner, since the shout generates rage and that gives you initial aggro. I can tell you this, but the first time you do it and it works, you'll remember it far more than just reading it here.
  3. Situational awareness is learned. What I mean here is, it's much harder to explain to someone who has never tanked the mindset a tank develops, where you find yourself scanning the whole battlefield while tanking. You'll watch your own health and cooldowns, watch the mobs, watch your healers to make sure there's nothing on them, even watch the DPS to see if one of them is in trouble, switch back to the mobs to see if any are casting something that needs interrupting. Tank awareness is far less focused than DPS or healer awareness; you essentially learn a very specific form of multitasking. This is far, far easier to learn in a run.
  4. Tanking is actually a series of responsibilities, and it's much easier to learn how to coordinate all of them by doing. Tanking involves generating threat (which is done much like DPSing, really; you hit things and use various abilities on them) while also staying alive, controlling pulls, getting in and out of specific spots on the floor, etc., etc.
  5. You'll never develop your tank voice if you don't tank. Tank voice doesn't need to literally mean spoken words; it's more of an assertion of control that gives the group a sense of confidence in you. Whether you're a calm, assured tank or a tightly wound ball of resentment pointed at the enemy, you need the group to be willing to roll along with you.
Believe it or not, Alterac Valley can teach you things

Okay, this is all fine and dandy, but where do we go to pick these things up, especially now? There are quite a few options, be you a neophyte warrior just leveling up or a long-time DPS warrior trying out tanking for the first time.

One place to start off tanking is Alterac Valley. Yes, Alterac Valley. Why do I suggest tanking in AV? Well, because AV has plenty of opportunity to do so for a battleground without the pressure of having to be the focus of the group the way a dungeon or raid can. With the ability to queue for AV starting at level 45, you can get started fairly early and work on the starting basics on the Captains (Stonehearth and Galvanger) and work up to tanking Warmasters and the Generals. I don't consider AV to be real tanking, mind you -- but if you've never tanked, it's a fairly painless way to stick your toe into it.

Finding a dungeon has never been easier

Once you're fairly comfortable with the idea of tanking, we'd be fools to avoid using the dungeon finder. Frankly, it's never been easier to level as a tank, with the LFD tool available from level 15 on and with talent specializations available at level 10 that make a low-level warrior feel more like a tank than was the case before Cataclysm. Even if you've been playing a warrior since launch and have never tanked, or tanked regularly but took time off after Wrath and are just now getting back into the game, the LFD tool can definitely help you ease into the tanking role -- keeping in mind all those points we made last week, of course.

This isn't to say you must start off pugging. If you have access to a group of friends (be they guildies, RL friends, in-game friends from various sources, etc., etc.), there's no reason not to make use of them to help acclimate yourself to tanking. Frankly, the benefit of a run with people you know is they're usually willing to be patient with you. Furthermore, if you have a friend who tanks a lot on one character or another and you know said friend is a good player, ask him or her to come along in a DPS/healing capacity and give you pointers. (Note to DPSers who have tanks: This doesn't mean you should be second guessing the heck out of the poor tank. Be a resource if/when you're asked.)

Do not fear the PuG

However, don't be afraid of PuGs. They're not always going to be awesome experiences, true, but if you're receptive, you can learn a lot from them. Even an awful group that wipes constantly because they won't listen, aren't geared enough, or try to pull while you're still tanking the last pull can be viewed as a learning experience. Always take the time to analyze your own performance after a wipe, even if it wasn't your fault. Could you have reacted faster once things went pear-shaped? Should you have been saving Shockwave for those adds? Would a well-timed Heroic Leap have saved your healer? Often, tanking isn't about who made the mistake so much as it's about you and the group fixing it.

Please don't take this to mean you're a superhero and that you should always be able to save every bad situation. However, recognizing those times you can salvage a bad moment is all part of tanking awareness, and believe it or not, that jerk who pulled eight mobs and then left group may actually end up helping your tanking down the road. Don't be confused, though; he's still a jerk.

Refusing to die is a viable strategy

Finally, I'm going to suggest general PvPing in prot spec in other battlegrounds besides AV. Why? Well, it won't teach you squat about holding aggro, no. But that's what runs with friends and PuGs and so on are for. Battlegrounds PvP is more about teaching yourself to use all of your toolkit to stay alive as long as possible, paying attention to as many things as you can. In PvP, people are trying to kill you, and nothing teaches you exactly how to use your defensive and survivability cooldowns quite like someone trying to make you dead. A few weeks of PvP will really help you with figuring out how to get used to situational but awesome abilities like Intervene and Spell Reflect, too. And prot warriors can be awesome for flag defense or carrying, so BGs like WSG and Twin Peaks are excellent places to hone your skills.

It's not just about learning to use your cooldowns proactively, although that's a big part of it; it's also about learning to scan the battlefield. Developing that sense of PvP paranoia can significantly help you in PvE content, since a brain trained to scan for danger constantly is far more likely to notice stuff on the floor you shouldn't stand in or a mob peeling.

Next week, we'll talk about hit and expertise and how they could be made more attractive for tanking warriors.

 
71.It came from the Blog: War games live stream
It came from the Blog's War Games have begun! Join us on Zangarmarsh (US-PvE-H) or watch the stream above and participate in the chat after the break.

Update: The stream and event are now over. You may click on the image above to watch the video replay.

 
72.Ready Check: How to explain a fight
Ready Check helps you prepare yourself and your raid for the bosses that simply require killing. Check back with Ready Check each week for the latest pointers on killing adds, not standing in fire, and hoping for loot that won't drop.

Sure, you hope everyone in your raid has read strategies and watched videos before each boss fight. But even if your folks have taken this critical step, that doesn't mean they really understand the material. Here's why: Some of the boss fights in Cataclysm are confusing as heck. We'll use the Omnotron Defense System as an example here.

Essentially, the Omnotron Defense System is a relatively simple council fight. Two robots are up at a time. Each one pops a shield periodically, timed according to when the new Tron has become active. Aside from that, it's fairly easy: Don't stand in stuff, kill the robots. You have to be ready to heal through Incineration Security Measures, because it does damage to the entire raid. Be ready to kill the slimes spawned by Poison Protocol.

Of course, that's a simplification. You also need to get away from the raid when Acquiring Target takes place or if you get hit with Lightning Conductor. There are poison clouds the tank should put the boss in without being in it himself. And so on.

Omnotron's a cluster of ducks -- and trying to explain it all to someone who's new to the fight makes the thing sound like a hot mess of chaos and impossibility. It can be difficult to keep all the elements straight in your head, especially if you're simply going by lists of abilities.

Once you've seen the fight a few times, though, it gets a lot easier. All of the boss's abilities are clean and obvious; you can't miss them. There are literally neon lights flashing above your head that will make sure you know things are about to happen.

The challenge for a raid leader is how to introduce all these elements to a raid group and organize the dynamics mentally for both himself and his raid members. Simply reading a list of abilities won't get the job done. In a sense, the raid leader's job is to interpret information from strategies and videos into actionable, messageable information for the raid.

A few things at a time

Try and break down the fight for your raid into a few elements at a time. There's been study after study saying that the human brain can only remember a few "things" at a time until those "things" become ingrained reflex.

Using Omnotron as an example, I'd start with these three essential things:
  • Kill the latest robot to become active.
  • Do not hit robots with shields up.
  • If you get Lightning Conductor or the Read Beam of Death, get clear of the raid.
I admittedly don't tend to warn the raid "don't stand in stuff." As a general rule, I expect anyone who's been through normal instances, heroic instances, and any raid before from ... like, ever ... to avoid standing in things.

Layer slowly

It might surprise you how often focusing on a few things at a time can lead you to success, even though you might not be highlighting every raid dynamic. That being said, a complicated fight like Omnotron usually needs a little more explanation than just "kill that, avoid shields, get away."
  • Kill the adds spawned from Poison Protocol; kite them if you need.
  • Interrupt Arcanotron's Arcane Annihilator.
  • Spread out to avoid the chain lightning from Electrical Discharge.
Since you have those previous three dynamics down pat, your team can now focus on the newest abilities.

Discuss what went wrong

We learn by doing, moreso than from reading or watching. An eidetic memory doesn't necessarily comprehend and interpret the information from rote. The best way to learn is to tackle a concept, discuss it, analyze it; this technique promotes understanding instead of simple repetition. You'll get more mileage from understanding than from simple reflex.

After each wipe, take a few minutes and discuss what happened. Does anyone have any particular feelings about what went down? Healers especially may have important input for your team.

Taking the time for a quick team discussion will make sure you get to improve your strategy. More importantly, it'll help promote understanding of the fight among your team. That understanding will go further to advancing your progression than simply reacting to a shopping list of boss abilities.

It takes some time

The downside of these tips is that they take time. If you're only talking about three raid abilities at a time, you're probably going to wipe while you learn all the boss attacks. If you're taking the time to discuss what went wrong, that's more time you're spending.

In my opinion, the time is worth it. Raiding should be fun and not simply full of frustration. If your raid members can't even make sense of your explanations, the raid will become annoying very quickly.

 
73.New Winged Lion mount coming soon to the Blizzard store
Blizzard posted on their Facebook wall that the above mount will soon be coming to the Blizzard store.

We don't know the official name of the mount (although data-mining points to it being called a Winged Lion, which would make sense), the price, or any other details.

Stay tuned at WoW Insider. We'll get you any other information we have on it as it comes in.
 
74.The Light and How to Swing It: An interview with the all-business Diamondtear
Holy paladins are the pillars that support every raid's healing roster. As long as there are tanks to heal, there will be paladins dropping Light bombs on their unit frames. Unparalleled single-target throughput and powerful defensive cooldowns have solidified our position as the foundation of any healing paradigm. While our shockadin DPS may be laughable, our healing capability speaks for itself.

For the last few tiers of raiding, holy paladins have been ever-present guardians. We ensure that our group makes it through the shadow and flame unscathed. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the most successful holy paladins, Diamondtear of Paragon. He's survived the toughest encounters that WoW has to offer, helping his guild push towards world first after world first.

The Light and How to Swing It: How did you get started with your holy paladin? Do you play any other classes?

Diamondtear: First time I touched a paladin was in the European open beta in 2005, when I got to 51 or so before the beta was shut down. Obviously I was a total noob back then, so that doesn't mean much. I rolled this paladin before Ulduar after clearing the first tier of Wrath on my 'lock. My first main was a resto druid. I don't play off specs.

I chose a paladin because I liked the druid healing in vanilla and holy paladins were similar in Wrath ? a simple, one-button wonder. Still, I have to add that the Cataclysm changes didn't ruin anything for me, though. As long as I have a raid spot, I will stay with the holy paladin. I would have no problems with switching, though, if it benefited the guild. This isn't something we need to think about before patch 4.1.

How'd you get started with Paragon? Life in a top guild is obviously different than anywhere else. What's your favorite part about playing with them? Do you have a leadership role in the guild? Does your healing team have any sort of competitions?

I started with Paragon in May of 2009. No other high-end experience, but I had vanilla and Burning Crusade experience from the then-best guilds on Draenor, Shinasu and Chimaera.

My favorite part would be getting world firsts. Coming up with wacky tactics and using them is also fun. A large part of the raid takes part in planning, but it's four to five guys that are doing most of the talking (I'm part of the first group).

I don't have any specific responsibilities, and we don't have class leaders. While I whine in the healer channel every time a non-paladin is at the top of the meters (and console myself by laughing at the shaman), there's no serious competition.

What's been the most challenging encounter for you so far? Is there any aspect of healing that you feel like the holy paladin is weak at?

The hardest fight so far would be Lich King on 25-man heroic difficulty. The positioning required was so precise while the tank took heavy damage; I had to stun a Val'kyr and be ready to move from Defile. I think the holy paladin's major weakness is spot healing a few people. If you can't trust Light of Dawn to hit all or even most of them, there's really little you can do. Priests have Circle of Healing and Power Word: Shield, shaman have Chain Heal, and druids have Rejuvenation and Wild Growth.

If you could steal one ability from another class, what would it be? Any specific mechanics that you think would work for the holy paladin?

Leap of Faith. It has so much (I could even say too much) utility in heroic raiding. Also, the shaman regen mechanic is cooler than paladins' (which is Judging), but I don't want to be offensive while healing, and I don't think it would be possible to balance that between classes (in PvE).

Did you have any difficulty moving from the old Wrath-style of healing to the new Cataclysm paradigm? Any tricks or tips you picked up as you worked on refining your healing strategy in this first tier of raiding?

I didn't have any trouble, because in heroic Wrath raids, you still had to look at your mana somewhat. The biggest difference was that spells were faster.

In Cataclysm, the healing is pretty much the same for paladins. This time, you just choose between your cheap heal and your big heal, and most of the time that decision is quite easy. The most important tip I could give would probably be judging as often as you can. The mana return really is significant.

I'm quite worried for holydins that hit 85 after patch 4.0.6 and want to heal heroics. Healing those as a paladin was by no means easy when I hit 85, and holydins have gotten a myriad of nerfs after that. I recently hit 85 with my priest, which I leveled from 1 to 85 in Cataclysm, and healing 5-man heroics was a breeze even when I was really undergeared.

As a final thought, what are your thoughts on the current holy paladin mastery bonus, Illuminated Healing?

It's terrible, and I avoid mastery like the plague. Making it stack instead of refreshing the shield wouldn't make it cool or especially useful, but it could save it from being totally terrible. I'd like to see a mastery that relates to holy power, maybe generating it.

Thanks to Diamondtear

I'd like to extend my thanks to Diamondtear for doing this interview and sharing his perspective on the holy paladin. Best of luck to you as you continue to push the holy paladin spec further than it's ever been before!

 
75.Breakfast Topic: The most memorable raid interruption
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Way back in the days of yore, before Cataclysm, before Wrath, before even TBC, I was a hunter striving for my Beaststalker pants, and my family had just brought home a new kitten. This was a kitten we'd waited for for over a year, the first purebred Siamese cat we'd owned. She had been welcomed with love into a house full of new toys and kitty beds and expensive cat food, but this kitten had a bad attitude. She yowled. She hissed. She hid under furniture and scratched. Finally, when night fell, we had to shut her up in her special kitten room and hope that the next day proved more encouraging. Dejected, I sat down for an evening of Baron runs to soothe my cat owner's ego.

We had just finished Baroness Anastari when I heard a noise from downstairs, a long, mournful yowl. I immediately feared that the new cat had somehow come to harm. With a quick "brb cat's crying," I rushed down to see what was wrong.

Nothing. The kitten was fine. In fact, she hissed when she saw me. Figures, I thought, and turned away, but when I reached the door, she meowed pitifully again. Experimentally, I opened the door and gathered her up, and she didn't murder me. I carried the kitten upstairs and plopped her on my bed in front of my laptop, where she was immediately entranced by the night elf on the screen. As soon as I announced my return, she pounced on the keys, delighted that she could make the elf move and jump. We finished the dungeon without incident, and I will always remember that run as the night I bonded with that lovely, cantankerous kitten.

What's the most memorable raid or dungeon interruption you've experienced? Do you still talk about it to this day?
 
76.Spiritual Guidance: Patch 4.1 to usher in big Chakra and Atonement healing changes
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen dabbles in shadow and karaoke at PAX East. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

It's been two weeks since we first examined the upcoming priest changes for patch 4.1, and in that time, many more changes have piled up. To keep things interesting around here, I figured we'd talk about the changes over a plate of cookies.

Previously, we discussed the changes to the duration of Power Word: Shield, the tiny buff to Divine Aegis, and the huge change to Dispel Magic, so check back a couple weeks if you want to read about those changes. This week I'll be looking at a huge change to the mechanics of Chakra, the sort of return of Atonement healing, the nerf to Power Word: Barrier, and the tweak to our four-piece raid set bonus.

A buff for Chakra

So starting out, let's talk about the good news. First on the table is that the duration of Chakra has been removed, and the state you choose will last until canceled. Sporting Chakra: Serenity? It's there until you cancel it. Chakra: Sanctuary? Same thing. This makes your Chakra buff a bit like a stance, except you'll still have to activate the state you want using your trigger spells. You also will still not be able to switch between two stances in a short period of time -- the cooldown of Chakra remains a 30 seconds, unless you pick up State of Mind.

This is a positive change for holy priest healing output, since you will no longer need to spend an extra key press or spell you may not need to keep up your healing buff. Once you're in the stance you want to be in, you can play naturally and heal with the spells you want to use. Good, right?

Unfortunately, I think this change removes a bit too much of the complexity that the priest toolbox offers. Personally, the old 1-minute duration seemed fine to me -- no worse than a kitty druid maintaining her Mangle -- but since it's been changed, I guess the developers felt maintaining Chakra was either too penalizing on output or too difficult for players to handle. This really surprises me, though, because this new Chakra model fringes dangerously close the "fire and forget" model of spell that Blizzard developers said they wanted to avoid.

Well, either way, once this change goes into effect, we'll be needing a new set of macros for canceling Chakra. If you send me a good one (note: I hate writing macros), I'll toss it into my final 4.1 guide in a couple weeks.

A nerf for Power Word: Barrier

Time to splice in some bad news: Power Word: Barrier will be hit with the nerf bat. The spell will now have a 3-minute cooldown, rather than 2 minutes. It also will reduce damage on the targets under it for a tiny bit less, going from 30% reduction to 25%. Such a sad day for disc priests and probably 10-man raiders who were counting on those short cooldowns to make up for the lack of raid diversity.

Based on these changes and the changes other healers are getting, this fix seems to be largely about balancing disc priests with other healing classes. (So if you're not a disc priest, you can smile a little knowing smirk right about now.) The 2-minute cooldown was just too generous, and in the right raid setup, you could see a pair of disco priests countering almost every major boss ability, no matter what it was.

The return of Atonement healing

Several small changes are being made to the discipline tree to bring back Atonement healing.
  • Atonement now works with Holy Fire in addition to Smite.
  • The direct damage portion of Holy Fire can now trigger Evangelism.
  • Holy Fire damage has been increased to be approximately 30% higher than Smite.
  • Glyph of Divine Accuracy now also affects Holy Fire in addition to Smite.
Basically, this change gives Atonement healing priests a little extra bite to weave in with Smite spam. Overall, I think the change is interesting but probably a bit underpowered if it's trying to compete with Strength of Soul's extra shield output. That may not matter, though, since Holy Fire is unique in the priest toolbox, unlike Heal and Smite. Mechanically, it hits with an initial burst, then a HoT that's more like a druid's Regrowth than anything. Consider also that while it only heals for about 15k (Greater Heal heals for about 20k), it costs less than half the mana of a Greater Heal. Holy Fire also has a speedy 1.5-second cast time (if you get Divine Fury) and a 10-second cooldown. Once you add in the buffs from Evangelism, Archangel, and Glyph of Smite, we have quite a unique spell on our hand.

So what does this mean? Well, first it means that the theorycrafters are going to have to do a bit of work to see how much you can squeeze out of this style of healing. Second, I think that we're going to have to consider that Atonement healing is not a replacement for healing all the time, just a stand-in when the conditions are right. It feels optional right now, and though the Holy Fire changes are going to affect it, I think Blizzard still intends to keep it optional for players who just want to cast healing spells.

Tier 11 set bonus changes

The developers also made some changes to the discipline/holy tier gear by removing a somewhat excessive requirement from the discipline priest tier bonus.
  • The current healing priest 4-piece raid set bonus no longer requires a target to be under the effects of Weakened Soul for the priest to receive the spirit bonus. Instead the benefit will be granted each time the priest's Penance spell heals a target.
Lylirra explained the logic behind this change.

This is feedback we've seen quite a bit, and it's good. With the changes to Chakra in 4.0.6, we realize a lot of players feel that the Holy 4-piece set bonus is currently much stronger than its Discipline counterpart. We don't disagree and it's something we've been actively discussing changing in 4.1 (for example, we're considering potentially removing the Weakened Soul requirement on Penance targets in order for the Spirit bonus to apply).

source

Overall I don't think anyone will complain about this fix. The previous conditional was very rigid and pigeonholed discipline priests to healing just a few targets in order to always maintain the spirit bonus.

Tying up the loose ends

There were also a few miscellaneous buffs that I don't think need much explaining.
  • Priests now innately have 100% pushback protection from damage while channeling Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope.
  • Surge of Light can now also trigger from Binding Heal.
Confused about any of these priest changes or have some thoughts of your own about them? Hit up the comments with whatever is on your mind.

 
77.Public Service Announcement: Don't file false GM reports
This may seem like common sense to a lot of people, but it came up as an issue recently on the official Customer Support forums. The message is simple: Don't file false GM tickets. Whether you're doing it to get back at someone you dislike, to play a prank on someone, or just because you're bored, don't do it.

Support forum agent Nevalistis points out that false reports are is against the Game Master interaction policy. Each GM petition is taken seriously, and if the GMs see a pattern of frivolous or false reports, they can and will take action from warnings all the way up to suspension or permanent account closure.

Those of us who have tried to petition a GM lately know how long the queue times are -- so from all of us with legitimate problems, please make sure your ticket is legit. It may save your account, it may save a GM's sanity, and it'll certainly help those with real problems get the help they need a little faster.
 
78.The Light and How to Swing It: Best practices for holy paladins
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Every Sunday, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email me with any questions you want answered, like what to look for in your World of Logs parses.

Holy paladins are doing all right. While
patch 4.1's notes may have retribution and protection up in arms about the new cooldown on Word of Glory, holy paladins are exempt via Walk in the Light. We're actually not seeing any changes in the upcoming patch -- at least, none that have been announced yet. The lack of updates shouldn't come as a surprise to a healing class that's been performing relatively well. Minor balances to our mana and effectiveness have been used to keep us in line with the other healers, but we're otherwise stable. Patch 4.1 will buff our recently discussed set bonus, but that doesn't help improve the gear today.

Just because Blizzard doesn't have any buffs planned doesn't mean that we can't work on improving our performance naturally. There is truly no WoW player who can perform perfectly at every moment, but the closer we get to that ideal, the stronger healers we become. As healers, we should constantly be developing our skills and refining our gameplay. There's nothing worse than feeling like the weak link on the chain, and so keeping ourselves at top healing efficiency is crucial to being successful in whatever environment you're healing in.

Use Judgement more often

Holy paladins have two direct ways to restore mana:
Judgement and Divine Plea. While Divine Plea has a few restrictions and use cases, Judgement (with Seal of Insight) simply works. Every time we use Judgement, we get back a portion of our mana. The more often that we Judge, the more mana we get back. With an 8-second cooldown, we can use Judgement about 7 times a minute. We have the ability to control our throughput by choosing a different spell, but mana is always the limiting factor. By Judging more often, we can net ourselves a significant amount of extra mana.

I like to review my
World of Logs parses from past raids to improve my performance. To capture your logs for a particular boss or raid, just type "/combatlog" in when you log in, and the detailed combat log will be saved in your World of Warcraft folder under "Logs." What I do is take the total time of a given boss fight, and I figure out how many Judgements I could've squeezed in if I always used it on cooldown. I compare that against the number of Judgements I was actually able to use, and that tells me how many Judgements I missed over the course of the fight. I also check for when I Judged in the log browser to see where the lulls in Judging occurred. Sometimes we simply can't spare the global cooldown necessary to Judge, and that's okay.

Maximizing Holy Shock utilization

I analyze my
Holy Shock usage in much the same way that I inspect my Judgement usage. Holy Shock is one of our most efficient heals, and HS generates a holy power point for us. Holy power releases are key to conserving mana, and so we want to generate as many holy power points as possible. Unless there's a desperate need to be casting a Flash of Light or Divine Light, we should be using Holy Shock on cooldown. You can figure out how many Holy Shocks you could've cast in a fight and compare that to your actual number of Holy Shocks to figure out how often you're using it.

Abuse your efficient heals

Holy Light only has one thing going for it: healing per mana. The spell is slow and weak, but it's incredibly efficient. If our targets aren't at any risk of dying, we should be using Holy Light instead of another heal. Bigger heals are less efficient and also introduce the risk of wasting healing to overheal. A great holy paladin will be able to identify portions of fights where raid damage is light and where it's heavy. With that knowledge, you can choose to use Holy Light to heal everyone up slowly instead of rushing to heal everyone instantly with bigger heals. A great example is during Magmaw's "down" phase: You have a full 40 seconds of zero incoming damage to bring everyone back to full life.

Holy Radiance can be used in a similar fashion, as it is easily our most efficient heal when the healing done is effective and not wasted. I'll often let everyone in my party or raid take some minor damage, waiting to heal anyone besides the tank, and then use Holy Radiance to heal up everyone at once. The situations that require everyone to be at 100% life are few and far between, and there's nothing wrong with letting people take some damage before healing them. Use the slower pace of Cataclysm healing to line up some very effective Holy Radiance periods, and you'll see your mana usage drop significantly.

Watch fight footage

If anyone in your guild records your encounters, I suggest watching the film. It's even better if you can record the fights yourself, although not everyone has a computer capable of that. I like to review videos of my past encounters, watching for the tips I've mentioned above. I watch my action bars to see where I forgot to use Holy Shock or Judgement, I watch for lulls in damage where I could've used more Holy Lights, and I watch for opportunities to use Holy Radiance or Divine Plea effectively. While fight experience is one of the best ways to get better at an encounter, there's nothing like being able to simply watch an encounter without worrying about actually playing. Great athletes watch film of every one of their games, and we can use their technique to improve our own game. As we really squeeze the most out of our various abilities, we'll see ourselves performing better than we ever have before.

 
79.Blues explain nature of archaeology cooldownsby Dawn Moore Mar 2nd 2011 at 6:00PM

 

Several players and Community Manager Lylirra shared some discussion today on the official World of Warcraft forums about the cooldowns of novelty items crafted through the archaeology profession.

In the thread, the original poster suggested that the cooldowns of certain novelty items were too long in comparison to others and that Blizzard should consider fixing the discrepancies. The poster used Pendant of the Scarab Storm and Bones of Transformation as an example, noting that both items have a vanity effect that lasts 20 seconds but a cooldown difference of 90 minutes.

Lylirra responded, explaining that the cooldowns, though seemingly random, were chosen with specific issues in mind. She explains that with the Pendant of the Scarab Storm specifically, developers were concerned that the item's effect might strain certain players' computers.

Archaeology Items' Cooldowns
The current cooldown was chosen deliberately, but I can see why you might think otherwise (100 minutes is kind of strange for a cooldown time).

Anyway, summoning a harem of scarabs can be pretty taxing on some systems, so there were some initial concerns about putting the pendant on a short cooldown. Based on the feedback we've received, though, we're looking into reducing it. We agree that the effect is pretty cool and would be nice to use it more frequently.

source

 
80.Lichborne: Preliminary patch 4.1 PTR impressions for death knights
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. Join World of Warcraft's first hero class as we head into a new expansion and shed the new kid on the block label.

Greetings, one and all, and welcome to the patch 4.1 PTR, where I am happily testing out the new death knight flying ability -- that, or I'm lagged to hell. I'll let you believe what you want. Seriously though, the PTR for patch 4.1 is out and active, and there are death knight changes to be had. These changes are large enough that I figure it'd be a good use of our time this week to take a quick look at them and figure out what they do and what they'll mean for our class if they go live.


Death runes come to stay for the frost tree

As of the current patch 4.1 PTR, frost death knights will automatically have 2 death runes in place of their blood runes, thanks to a change to the frost passive Blood of the North. Now, I've heard some people express surprise at this change, thinking that it's unexpected, overpowered, or that it will never make it live. Me, I'd argue that the change, while perhaps unexpected, is incredibly timely and in fact brings frost into parity with the other two trees in relation to death runes.

With frost, using Blood Strike is an afterthought. It is what you do to turn blood runes into death runes because you have no other real option. You'd rather not use it because it doesn't provide any other real benefit. The other two trees no longer really have this issue since patch 4.0.1. Blood death knights use Heart Strike, which blows away Blood Strike with superior damage applied to more targets. They use Death Strikes to produce death runes, which in themselves are incredibly useful for healing and mitigating damage. Similarly, Unholy uses Festering Strike to produce death runes for Scourge Strike, which both hits hard and has the secondary effect of lengthening disease duration so that they can strike more and refresh diseases less.

With this idea in mind, it turns out that frost is really lagging behind, in that its rotation still has that nagging "useless" Blood Strike, which only has one job and isn't very exciting or effective. With this in mind, it does feel like frost deserves some more exciting or useful way to generate death runes. Rather than deal with yet another new ability for death knights, Blizzard has just given us permanent death runes, which in my mind has turned out to be a pretty elegant solution. I strongly expect this change to stay for live servers.

As to what it will affect overall, that's still in the testing stages, of course. But considering you shouldn't have to deal with the inefficient blood strike half as much, expect to see higher damage numbers. In addition, the use of more Obliterates may change up our stat weights a bit in the frost category, but I haven't really seen any solid sim numbers on that yet. We'll probably want to wait for a few more iterations of the PTR (and more testing in real dungeon and raid situations) before we make any solid predictions, though. We have at least a couple months to go before we need to get serious about regemming and reforging on live servers, for sure.

Healing threat goes away

Most of us, I would hope, are aware that healing can cause threat. Any healer who's healed a not completely topped-off tank at the start of a pull and seen the mobs come charging at him instead can tell you that. That said, healers aren't the only ones who have to be worried about their personal healing threat.

There's been a minor discussion and debate among death knight tanks over whether Heart Strike or Death Strike is the actual superior AoE threat tool. Heart Strike would seem to be the clear winner, of course, but Death Strike does make a strong argument due to healing threat. Every time you heal yourself with Death Strike on live servers, you also releasing a pulse of AoE threat thanks to the healing done. This changes in patch 4.1. On the current PTR, Death Strike's healing causes no additional threat.

The removal of this threat is a straight-up buff to DPS death knights, of course -- but then again, DPS death knights shouldn't be using Death Strike unless it's an emergency and Lichborne is on cooldown or they are relatively sure their healer can't spare the time or mana to heal them instead. For tank death knights, though, this probably at least a little bit of a nerf. That said, I'm not too concerned. For the most part, we still have plenty of AoE threat tools, so at the worse, all this will do is bump the survival stat bias a slight bit toward avoidance if we really do end up having to use those tools instead of Death Strike. Besides, no AoE threat on Death Strike may end up as a blessing on some fights that require an off tank or certain mobs to be kited, since you won't pick up accidentally aggro while main-tanking. See: Nefarian.

Mind Freeze won't get frozen out

As of patch 4.1, all instant-cast interrupts that are off the global cooldown, including the death knight's Mind Freeze, can no longer miss. If you are a heroic tanking death knight who hasn't been able to justify giving up survivability for hit rating, I am pretty sure the clouds opened and an angelic choir sounded forth the first time you heard that news.

There are so many things that need to be interrupted in Cataclysm, as I've outlined in previous columns, and death knights may be one of the best suited for the role, if only because we really don't have much else to do utility-wise outside of our main roles. Since a lot of Cataclysm fights, both trash and boss, are made or broken on whether or not a specific ability can be consistently interrupted, it only make sense that a somewhat arbitrary and frustrating hurdle to using an interrupt is removed. Let people focus on learning how to interrupt rather than gearing for it.

That said, I think this does strengthen my argument that death knights and warriors deserve some crowd control. If interrupting is important enough to make change like this, isn't crowd control in the same division? Hopefully, if Blizzard's using this rationale for interrupts, we'll see some new crowd control methods in later iterations of the PTR. Given the new heroic dungeons, we'll probably need it.

It's still the PTR to me

The usual disclaimer applies to articles like this: This is the PTR, and things can and almost certainly will change. That said, I do believe all three of these changes are pretty solid (yes, even the Death Strike nerf at least makes sense) and will show up when patch 4.1 goes live. In the meantime, though, we can hopefully look forward to more PTR updates and changes. My column from last week still stands. Let's see if Blizzard delivers on those last few things.

 
81.Lichborne: Preliminary patch 4.1 PTR impressions for death knights
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. Join World of Warcraft's first hero class as we head into a new expansion and shed the new kid on the block label.

Greetings, one and all, and welcome to the patch 4.1 PTR, where I am happily testing out the new death knight flying ability -- that, or I'm lagged to hell. I'll let you believe what you want. Seriously though, the PTR for patch 4.1 is out and active, and there are death knight changes to be had. These changes are large enough that I figure it'd be a good use of our time this week to take a quick look at them and figure out what they do and what they'll mean for our class if they go live.


Death runes come to stay for the frost tree

As of the current patch 4.1 PTR, frost death knights will automatically have 2 death runes in place of their blood runes, thanks to a change to the frost passive Blood of the North. Now, I've heard some people express surprise at this change, thinking that it's unexpected, overpowered, or that it will never make it live. Me, I'd argue that the change, while perhaps unexpected, is incredibly timely and in fact brings frost into parity with the other two trees in relation to death runes.

With frost, using Blood Strike is an afterthought. It is what you do to turn blood runes into death runes because you have no other real option. You'd rather not use it because it doesn't provide any other real benefit. The other two trees no longer really have this issue since patch 4.0.1. Blood death knights use Heart Strike, which blows away Blood Strike with superior damage applied to more targets. They use Death Strikes to produce death runes, which in themselves are incredibly useful for healing and mitigating damage. Similarly, Unholy uses Festering Strike to produce death runes for Scourge Strike, which both hits hard and has the secondary effect of lengthening disease duration so that they can strike more and refresh diseases less.

With this idea in mind, it turns out that frost is really lagging behind, in that its rotation still has that nagging "useless" Blood Strike, which only has one job and isn't very exciting or effective. With this in mind, it does feel like frost deserves some more exciting or useful way to generate death runes. Rather than deal with yet another new ability for death knights, Blizzard has just given us permanent death runes, which in my mind has turned out to be a pretty elegant solution. I strongly expect this change to stay for live servers.

As to what it will affect overall, that's still in the testing stages, of course. But considering you shouldn't have to deal with the inefficient blood strike half as much, expect to see higher damage numbers. In addition, the use of more Obliterates may change up our stat weights a bit in the frost category, but I haven't really seen any solid sim numbers on that yet. We'll probably want to wait for a few more iterations of the PTR (and more testing in real dungeon and raid situations) before we make any solid predictions, though. We have at least a couple months to go before we need to get serious about regemming and reforging on live servers, for sure.

Healing threat goes away

Most of us, I would hope, are aware that healing can cause threat. Any healer who's healed a not completely topped-off tank at the start of a pull and seen the mobs come charging at him instead can tell you that. That said, healers aren't the only ones who have to be worried about their personal healing threat.

There's been a minor discussion and debate among death knight tanks over whether Heart Strike or Death Strike is the actual superior AoE threat tool. Heart Strike would seem to be the clear winner, of course, but Death Strike does make a strong argument due to healing threat. Every time you heal yourself with Death Strike on live servers, you also releasing a pulse of AoE threat thanks to the healing done. This changes in patch 4.1. On the current PTR, Death Strike's healing causes no additional threat.

The removal of this threat is a straight-up buff to DPS death knights, of course -- but then again, DPS death knights shouldn't be using Death Strike unless it's an emergency and Lichborne is on cooldown or they are relatively sure their healer can't spare the time or mana to heal them instead. For tank death knights, though, this probably at least a little bit of a nerf. That said, I'm not too concerned. For the most part, we still have plenty of AoE threat tools, so at the worse, all this will do is bump the survival stat bias a slight bit toward avoidance if we really do end up having to use those tools instead of Death Strike. Besides, no AoE threat on Death Strike may end up as a blessing on some fights that require an off tank or certain mobs to be kited, since you won't pick up accidentally aggro while main-tanking. See: Nefarian.

Mind Freeze won't get frozen out

As of patch 4.1, all instant-cast interrupts that are off the global cooldown, including the death knight's Mind Freeze, can no longer miss. If you are a heroic tanking death knight who hasn't been able to justify giving up survivability for hit rating, I am pretty sure the clouds opened and an angelic choir sounded forth the first time you heard that news.

There are so many things that need to be interrupted in Cataclysm, as I've outlined in previous columns, and death knights may be one of the best suited for the role, if only because we really don't have much else to do utility-wise outside of our main roles. Since a lot of Cataclysm fights, both trash and boss, are made or broken on whether or not a specific ability can be consistently interrupted, it only make sense that a somewhat arbitrary and frustrating hurdle to using an interrupt is removed. Let people focus on learning how to interrupt rather than gearing for it.

That said, I think this does strengthen my argument that death knights and warriors deserve some crowd control. If interrupting is important enough to make change like this, isn't crowd control in the same division? Hopefully, if Blizzard's using this rationale for interrupts, we'll see some new crowd control methods in later iterations of the PTR. Given the new heroic dungeons, we'll probably need it.

It's still the PTR to me

The usual disclaimer applies to articles like this: This is the PTR, and things can and almost certainly will change. That said, I do believe all three of these changes are pretty solid (yes, even the Death Strike nerf at least makes sense) and will show up when patch 4.1 goes live. In the meantime, though, we can hopefully look forward to more PTR updates and changes. My column from last week still stands. Let's see if Blizzard delivers on those last few things.

 
82.Weekly Podcast Roundup: Feb. 21-27, 2011
Every Monday evening, WoW Insider brings you a long list of WoW podcasts that were published the week (and weekend) before. If you don't see your favorite podcast listed, just let us know in the comments. Be sure to leave a link to it, and we'll pick it up next week.

All podcasts and content belong to their owners. WoW Insider is not responsible for what you hear, and some of the content may not be safe for work.
  • All Things Azeroth Are you tank enough to face the Cake Boss?
  • The Instance Episode #219
  • Twisted Nether Blogcast The Flipper Flies
  • Ask Buxley Buxley
  • Auction House Junkies Episode 4
  • The Addicted Everclear featuring Nevik
  • Bind on Equip Missed it by *that* much
  • Casually Hardcore Episode 161
  • Casual Warcrafting Return of the Trolls
  • Ctrl-Alt-WoW Live in Providence
  • Circle of Healing Episode 10
  • Girls gone WoW Names confuse me!
  • Gkick Episode 15
  • Group Quest Welcome to Zul'Again, You've been Schooled
  • The Guardian Tank Podcast Episode 38 (Balanced for the Future)
  • Horde House Do you have any businesswoman specials?
  • Hunting Party Podcast Episode 71
  • Ladies of Leet All About the Cute
  • Leetsauced Podcast How to make Gold with Marcko
  • Legendary TIGER
  • Liquid WoW The One With the Vegas Hypothesis
  • The Mana Cooler Making a Difference
  • Matticast BOEs, Calling Wipes, and Picking Raiders
  • MMO-Weakly Episode #70
  • Not Enough Rage Pugging Etiquette, or How Not to Be a Total Jerkwad
  • The Overlores All Things Azeroth invades!
  • The Starting Zone Crowd Control This!
  • Ventchat Commit to the Bit
  • Warcraft Lounge Patch 4.1 Archaeology, Getting Kicked & You
  • WoW: While Servers Are Down Episode #8

Other podcasts

The WoW Insider staff listens to a lot of other podcasts around the 'net. Here are some we thought you might be interested in.
  • Adam Carolla Adam ... Carolla!
  • Car Talk Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers
  • Electronic Explorations Electronic music
  • Engadget Our sister site's podcast about gadgets and technology
  • Grammar Girl Quick and dirty tips for better writing
  • Joystiq Podcast Our sister site's podcast about games and stuff
  • Joypod Two Idiots One Show about gaming
  • Low End Theory A music podcast from LA
  • Massively Speaking Our sister site Massively talking about all the latest MMO news
  • PCGamer Podcast The official Podcast of PC Gamer magazine
  • PMAcast A music podcast
  • Polygamerous Because you can't play just one
  • Smodcast Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier podcast
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • The Incredible Podcast An incredible podcast full of amazing awesomeness
  • The Moth A weekly story podcast
  • This American Life A popular Chicago Public Radio podcast
  • Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! A popular NPR news/game show podcast
  • Xbox 360 Fancast Joystiq's dedicated Xbox 360 podcast

 
83.Breakfast Topic: Do you use heirlooms when leveling?
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

If you ask the guy or girl with the army of alts what they think of heirlooms, he or she will most likely tell you how great heirlooms are. When heirlooms were announced in Wrath, the players suffering from altitis all screamed out in joy. Something that would save them gold while leveling and make life just a little easier on the way to 80? Now 85? Yes, please!

At first, we had shoulder and weapon heirlooms that were only purchasable in Dalaran or Wintergrasp. The shoulder heirlooms sold in Wintergrasp were identical to the ones in Dalaran, save that you sacrificed a sometimes useful stat for resilience. In patch 3.2, the Argent Tournament was introduced and with it, chest heirlooms and another way to buy heirlooms. Once you obtained the title you could buy shoulder, chest and weapon heirlooms with Champion's Seals. This was a much more viable and cheaper option to those who didn't want to dungeon crawl to gather the badges needed or who were spending your badges on gear for raiding.

To some, the downside to these heirlooms is that they don't scale past 80. Cataclysm did introduce two new heirlooms that scale from 1 to 85: cloak and helm heirlooms purchasable once your guild hits the required level and you are honored.

I myself have a number of different heirlooms for my alts, everything from cloth to plate, with different weapons for each class and their specific role. I stopped using them on my priest because I was flying through the revamped zones and couldn't finish all the quest chains before they turned gray.

Do you have heirlooms for your alts? Do you prefer to use them while leveling, or do you keep it old-fashioned while leveling?


 
84.Patch 4.1 PTR: New pet collecting, food, drink and tabard achievements
For players who have been collecting tabards and pets since the launch of the achievement system, there hasn't been a lot to look forward to. Once the Lil' Game Hunter achievement had been obtained, there were no additional achievements for collecting more pets. Along with a host of new pets and mounts, in patch 4.1, two new pet collecting achievements have been added: Petting Zoo, for collecting 100 pets, and Menagerie, for collecting 125 pets. As of right now, it doesn't look like any new pets will be given as rewards for these achievements, but as with all things on the PTR, that may change.

In addition to the pet collecting achievements, there is now an achievement for learning the Vial of the Sands mount, a new achievement called Cataclysmically Delicious for dining on 100 different kinds of food, and a new drinking achievement called Drown Your Sorrows for drinking 50 different types of beverages. To top it all off, there's even a new achievement for the tabard collectors out there called Thirty Tabards, which you complete upon equipping 30 unique tabards.

There are also some new achievements for Dungeons and Raids involving the new ZA and ZG 5-man dungeons, as well as new statistics trackers for the new Cataclysm raid bosses. All in all, it looks like achievement hunters will have a fair amount of new material to chase after and complete.

 
85.Shifting Perspectives: Do restoration druids need a cooldown?

The title of today's Shifting column is maybe a little misleading. Strictly speaking, restoration already has a cooldown -- the still-controversial Disco Soul Patch Groovy Tree that has wildly gesticulated its way into all our hearts (well, some peoples' hearts) -- but now the developers are considering other possibilities in light of some data from tier 11 raids.

Not that we have access to said data (or anything to go on besides our usual rampant speculation), but a few trends have emerged from tier 11 that make the possibility of getting a big cooldown a bit more likely.

Recent announcements

This was announced this past week in a thread devoted mostly to priest and shaman tweaks, so I've included only the pertinent section:

Nethaera
We agree with the sentiment among some players that Restoration druids and Restoration shaman are lacking in the healing cooldown department. The shaman buff and Power Word: Shield adjustment above should bring all healers reasonably close in terms of throughput. The decision on who to bring then might end up being dictated by the strong cooldowns offered by paladins or priests. This isn't the kind of thing we can address via a hotfix, but it is something we are looking at for the next major content patch.

As always, we appreciate your continued constructive feedback and will do our best to keep you informed of ongoing developments.

source


There are two stand-out points here:

  • Blizzard isn't concerned about healer throughput once these changes have gone into effect. I'm a little ambivalent on this. Druid throughput in comparison to paladins and priests was at shocking lows for a significant portion of tier 11, a consequence of raid design and (Blizzard posited) an overly-expensive Rejuvenation and Wild Growth pre-4.0.6. I can only assume that the developers are looking at numbers we don't have, so let's concede the point and assume that healer throughput has reached acceptable equivalency these days. If a skilled player can pump out roughly the same numbers on any healing class, the question over which you'd take then hinges on the next point.
  • Healer cooldowns have an impact on class desirability. This isn't the sort of observation requiring a rocket scientist to make. Druids and shaman simply cannot compete with paladins and priests on this count; Guardian Spirit, Pain Suppression, and Hand of Sacrifice exercise too great an impact on tank survivability in raid content.

A point that I haven't often seen made concerning the issue is that Blizzard has largely standardized tanks' cooldowns in order to protect class desirability but has curiously avoided doing so for healers. While this is just a guess, I've been wondering if the overwhelming popularity of 10-man raids in comparison to their 25-man counterparts could be what's driving this, given that Blizzard has typically been very resistant to homogenizing healer cooldowns. A 10-man raid with druid and shaman healers can't respond as effectively to big damage spikes on tanks, and it's possible that the developers are seeing a higher than average failure rate in raids without access to paladin and priest cooldowns.

While the druid still excels at maximizing throughput even in stressful, high-movement environments (Valiona and Theralion say hello!), that's not a substitute for the ability to prevent huge chunks of damage. And as anyone who slogged through the early Wrath version of Sartharion-25 with three drakes up can tell you, it's also not a substitute for the ability to chain cooldowns in tandem with a skilled tank to weather the most dangerous portion of a fight.

The popular "Barkskin option"

A targetable Barkskin has been a very frequent suggestion on the druid boards, but I have to admit it leaves me cold. A 20% damage reduction for any target on a 1-minute cooldown is much too powerful a bonus in PvP for Blizzard to realistically implement, even allowing for the fact that Barkskin can be dispelled. In PvE, it's the equivalent of handing a tank's standard short-duration cooldown to anyone in the raid, and that feels pretty overpowered as well. Verdus, commenting on Restokin's excellent post concerning the issue, made a point that will be all too familiar to experienced WoW players: The choice over using a desirable cooldown for yourself or the tank isn't really much of a choice. Being able to slap it on a tank, particularly in heroic raid content, amounts to kissing any personal use of the cooldown goodbye.

I tend to agree with Lissanna's observation that simply making Barkskin castable on other players would create more problems than it would actually solve. Moonkin and cats would be obligated to use the spell on cooldown to protect tanks or vulnerable raid members, and that's both a distraction and damage loss that other DPS are rarely asked to shoulder. Moreover, not tying it to resto druids specifically would all but invalidate Blizzard's efforts to address the desirability of druid healers in relation to paladins and priests. All druids' getting the bonus doesn't change the spec's situation versus healers with access to more powerful cooldowns, and -- although this could just be the bear druid in me that's still smarting and angry over the loss of root breaks from shapeshifting as of 4.0.6 -- I'm getting intensely weary of one spec's issues overflowing into everyone else's.

Make no mistake; the potential cooldown is one meant to equal existing cooldowns that overwhelmingly save tanks in high-pressure situations in raid content. While I agree that this cooldown should happen, the most obvious option is problematic, and I think more discussion is warranted.


 
86.Weekly Podcast Roundup: Feb. 14-20, 2011
Every Monday evening, WoW Insider brings you a long list of WoW podcasts that were published the week (and weekend) before. If you don't see your favorite podcast listed, just let us know in the comments. Be sure to leave a link to it, and we'll pick it up next week.

All podcasts and content belong to their owners. WoW Insider is not responsible for what you hear, and some of the content may not be safe for work.
  • All Things Azeroth Shade, the Uber Exalted
  • Blue Plz! Season 5 Episode 2
  • The Instance Episode #218
  • Twisted Nether Blogcast Patch In The Round
  • The Addicted Bike Bombs
  • Bind on Equip Er ... Some WoW?
  • Call to Auction Episode 25
  • Casually Hardcore My Dog Ate My Authenticator
  • Casual Warcrafting The Little Shammy
  • Circle of Healing Episode 9
  • Citizen Azeroth The Resurrection
  • Epic Podcast There will be rants.
  • Gkick Episode 14
  • Group Quest The Uber Loregasm
  • The Guardian Tank Podcast Episode 37 (Balance Doesn't Always Mean Buffs)
  • Horde House It's like I'm walkin on sunshine!
  • Hunting Party Podcast Episode 70
  • Leetsauced Podcast Get Borsked
  • Legendary Diamonds
  • Leveling Azeroth Meet Gillderon, the Lazy Mage
  • Liquid WoW The One With Cheap Vodka
  • The Mana Cooler It all adds up
  • Matticast Patch 4.0.6 and Listener Emails
  • Not Enough Rage A bit about raiding
  • The Obscurecast And The Winner Is ...
  • Outlandish Arena Shmena
  • Raid Warning Spanish Class
  • Slash2 Episode 65
  • The Sundering A Little Quickie
  • Team Waffle Podcast Interviews -- Miirkat
  • Ventchat Ventchat Is On The Menu
  • Voices of Azeroth Oh, Thank Thrall
  • Warcraft Less Traveled Alicia's Poem and other Secret Quests of the Heart
  • The Warcraft Syndicate Blame the Smirnoff
  • Warcraft Trade Chat Max DPS
  • WoWphiles Don't Nerf My Bandwidth

Other podcasts

The WoW Insider staff listens to a lot of other podcasts around the 'net. Here are some we thought you might be interested in.
  • Adam Carolla Adam ... Carolla!
  • Car Talk Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers
  • Electronic Explorations Electronic music
  • Engadget Our sister site's podcast about gadgets and technology
  • Grammar Girl Quick and dirty tips for better writing
  • Joystiq Podcast Our sister site's podcast about games and stuff
  • Joypod Two Idiots One Show about gaming
  • Low End Theory A music podcast from LA
  • Massively Speaking Our sister site Massively talking about all the latest MMO news
  • PCGamer Podcast The official Podcast of PC Gamer magazine
  • PMAcast A music podcast
  • Polygamerous Because you can't play just one
  • Smodcast Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier podcast
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • The Incredible Podcast An incredible podcast full of amazing awesomeness
  • The Moth A weekly story podcast
  • This American Life A popular Chicago Public Radio podcast
  • Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! A popular NPR news/game show podcast
  • Xbox 360 Fancast Joystiq's dedicated Xbox 360 podcast

 
87.All the World's a Stage: Half a man
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

When creating a character for roleplay, there are a ton of things to consider. So far, we've gone over making a general background for your character, giving him distinct memories, how to fit him into lore, and avoiding the dreaded Mary Sue syndrome. While looking through the latest Ask a CDev threads on both the US and EU forums, I noticed a question that popped up frequently that applies directly to roleplaying: What about half-breeds? What races can be half-breeds? How many half-breeds are out there?

It's a hot button topic for most roleplayers -- generally speaking, you're roleplaying as your avatar. However, through the use of RP addons like MyRoleplay and FlagRSP, you can create a background template that describes your character pretty much however you'd like. This opens the door for roleplayers to dabble in the world of half-breed characters. But how much is too much? Where do you draw the line?


Examples of half-breeds in World of Warcraft

This is the inherent problem with playing a half-breed: To date, in Warcraft lore, there exist only a handful of known half-breeds. It is extremely rare to run across a half-breed, and most of them aren't really looked on favorably by the rest of society. While Warcraft sometimes touts a happy-go-lucky universe in which Horde and Alliance can hold hands and defeat the Burning Legion, in lore, there is still a general mistrust of the other races -- and even if the races are allied, it seems a little odd to the general public that one race would wish to produce children with another. So the odds are already stacked against another full-grown half-breed making an appearance, right off the bat.

The known half-breeds in Warcraft are as follows:

Half-elf The product of a human/elven pairing, only one of these "exists" in game that we've seen: Arator, son of Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner. Others have been referenced in various novels, including Giramar and Galadin, the twin sons of Rhonin and Vereesa Windrunner. Alodi, the first Guardian of Tirisfal, is also listed as being a half-elven mage in the Warcraft Legends manga.

Other than that, there really aren't any other references to half-elves, save for a small handful referenced in the RPG books. All half-elves were high elf/human pairings; as the night elves didn't make themselves known to society until the Third War, any night elf/human pairings wouldn't be more than 10 or 11 years of age at this point in Warcraft's timeline.

As for blood elf/human pairings, there are none on record. The blood elves are high elves, but they are the high elves who survived Arthas' assault on Silvermoon and the subsequent destruction of the Sunwell. During that Scourge attack, over 90% of the high elven population was destroyed. Given that, it can be assumed (though not taken as fact, of course) that the blood elves are far more interested in repopulating their own dwindling numbers.

Half-orc Now half-orcs, on the other hand, are pretty plentiful. There's actually a whole tribe of half-orcs living in Blade's Edge: the Mok'Nathal. These guys are half orc, half ogre; the most well known of these half-orcs is Rexxar.

The most notorious half-orc in Warcraft's history is Garona, who makes numerous appearances throughout the history of Warcraft lore and makes her first in game appearance in Cataclysm. While it was thought for the longest time that Garona was half human -- she herself even believed this -- it was revealed in the Warcraft comics series that Garona is in fact the product of an orc/draenei pairing, and it wasn't a pleasant one. Gul'dan essentially forced a draenei woman to breed with an orc, producing Garona for his own purposes.

Then we have Garona's son, Med'an. Med'an's father was human -- making him half human, one-quarter orc, one-quarter draenei (and terribly confusing, to boot). Other than Garona and Med'an's father Medivh, there aren't any records of orc/human pairings in game.

This makes loads of sense when you think about it. Humans and orcs have been enemies since the orcs first poured through the Dark Portal in the original Warcraft RTS. While it's possible that orcs may have taken advantage of helpless human women during the original fall of Stormwind, any children resulting in that pairing probably wouldn't have lasted long, given the method of their conception.

Half-draenei There are three examples of this in Warcraft lore: Garona and her son Med'an (who is technically only one-quarter draenei) and Lantresor of the Blade, who makes his home in Nagrand amongst the ogres:

Who so boldly stands before Lantresor of the Blade? Do you not know death by sight, <girl/boy>?
I have killed many of your ogres, Lantresor. I have no fear.
Then you are a fool. Do you not know what I am?
Should I know? You look like an orc to me.
An orc...
<Lantresor scoffs.>
I am a blademaster of half-orc descent.
And the other half?
Draenei... And because of this, I am neither. Not orc, nor draenei. My own kind are a rare breed. Most having been killed decades ago... I live because of my strength of will.
In the instance of draenei, the only option they had for crossbreeding was with the native orcs of Durotar. Given the orcs' treatment of the draenei, it's a situation similar to orc/human pairings -- even if conceived; it's unlikely the child would live very long.

Half-troll There are no known records of any half-trolls. There's a vague reference to the possibility in a story in the Warcraft Legends manga, but it may simply be a "your mom" joke rather than an actual reference; it hasn't actually been confirmed as truth.

Half-gnome/-dwarf/-tauren/-goblin/-worgen There are no known records of any crossbreeds with these species in Warcraft lore.

Developing a half-breed character

Taking all of that into account, the likelihood of any further half-breeds existing in the Warcraft universe is a small one. The few examples we have are major characters in lore -- and the lore makes it incredibly clear that it's a rare occurrence. If you do want to play a half-breed character, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. None of them are particularly positive.

Reputation As a half-breed, it is unlikely that you are going to be accepted by either of your parent's races. As Lantresor so eloquently summed up: If you are part of one race and part of another, you are part of neither. Random people on the street aren't going to look at you with a favorable light. Your very existence is a disadvantage to whatever social relations you wish to have.

Origin Most half-breeds aren't from sunny, loving couplings between two races. The human/high elf pairings are rare; the two that we have record of were sisters from the same family, even. Draenei/orc pairings are extremely rare because the two races were at war; the same goes with orc/human. Half-breeds in Warcraft are generally a result of unpleasant acts of violence. In the case of your character, not only do you want to look at what your family life was like, but also how do you cope with the nature of your conception?

Background I'm not talking about the background of your character; you have to pay attention to the background and existing lore of your originating races. Gnomes are far more interested in science and technology (which makes sense, given their robotic origins) than love and the creation of offspring. The tauren race has long been described as nomadic in nature and generally reclusive. Night elves have been around for thousands of years, but it wasn't until recently that they started interacting with the rest of the world. When trying to create a half breed between two different races, you need to ask yourself: Realistically, is there any way that pairing would work from a logical standpoint, given the history of both races?

The other point to consider if you're going to create a character from two different races is that you have to take into account not only the background of your character but the background of your parents. Why did your character's orc mother get together with a human, when the humans and orcs have hated each other for so long? Why did your high elven father decide getting together with a human was a superior alternative to pairing with one of his own people?

Asking for solitude

Most importantly, when developing a half-breed character, you have to look at what kind of RP you wish to create. Roleplaying in Warcraft is a fairly free-form activity, and I personally don't like to discourage anyone from playing what they wish to play. But -- and this is a big but -- if you choose to play a character that is "out of the box" like a half-breed, you should know in advance that it is likely he isn't going to be very well accepted by the roleplay community at large.

By playing a character like this, you're automatically shutting yourself off from people who don't want to roleplay too far out of existing lore. So what you have to ask yourself is this: Is it worth it? Will I get the type of roleplay experience I'm looking for if I choose to create this character? Am I okay with deliberately limiting the roleplay I get? If the answer to these questions is no, you may want to look into rolling a more conventional character.

While half-breeds may exist in Warcraft lore, they are limited in number and exceptionally rare. When you're creating a character for roleplay in a game with an existing storyline and set of "rules" like Warcraft, you have to take that lore and story into consideration. In the case of half-breeds, not only do you have to come up with a compelling backstory, but you also have to come up with a valid reason for your character to exist. It's a lot more work than simply coming up with an idea and story for a character from an existing race.

There's nothing wrong with playing a half-breed -- indeed, there's nothing wrong with playing whatever you want to play. But half-breed characters take a lot more work to evolve into a successful character; even then, the very nature of your background may cause other roleplayers to veer away from any interaction with you. The half-breed's road is a bumpy and often lonely one, especially in Warcraft, so think very carefully and weigh the pros and cons before you give it a shot.

 
88.Live WoW Insider Show next Monday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m.
The WoW Insider Show will be coming to you live Monday, Feb. 21 at 2:00 p.m. EST / 1:00 p.m. CST / 11:00 a.m. PST. This live show will feature our usual cadre of Mike Sacco, Matt Rossi, and Mat McCurley, with special guest Anne Stickney also dropping by to lend her thoughts to the gang.

We'll also be giving away a Razer Naga Epic mouse at the end of the show -- the same one that Mat McCurley used to write his review of it. There might be some other stuff we'll give out, but we'll let you know about those the day of.

The show will be aired over on our uStream page, and the recording will go up on Tuesday morning.

So what are you waiting for? Make some time next Monday afternoon and join us for an hour of World of Warcraft discussion.

See you there!
 
89.Blizzard posts new account security guide
Make no mistake: it really sucks when your WoW account gets compromised. Even with the speed with which compromises are handled by the Support department nowadays, it's still a pain to have to wait to get your stuff back, and it's even worse to know that someone was in there mucking around with your dudes, you know? Blizzard's been better about helping people with account security problems recently, like giving out free authenticators to some hacked accounts and offering a free phone-in authenticator service, but in the end a lot of the responsibility falls on you the player to keep your account secure.

To that end, Blizzard has assembled a new account security guide. It's a pretty comprehensive list of the steps you can take to secure your account, from getting an authenticator to learning how to recognize phishing emails to making sure that your computer itself is secured through the use of antivirus software. Learn it, live it, love it. In account security as in Planeteering, the power is yours.

 
90.15 Minutes of Fame: Sci-fi and fantasy copyeditor Deanna Hoak
From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Deanna Hoak and I have bonded over the Viscous Hammer. Yes, I realize that some of you will find it somewhat predictably amusing that WoW Insider's resident copyeditor should be geeking out over interviewing sci-fi/fantasy copyeditor and WoW player Deanna Hoak -- but there's more to this editor than a mere passion for punctuation. Hoak brings a virtually unique set of experience and sensitivities to the fantastical demands of the novels she edits. In the world of science fiction and fantasy, Hoak edits the big dogs: China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, Alan Dean Foster, Cherie Priest, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, R.A. Salvatore ... In fact, Hoak's the only copyeditor ever nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work.

So yeah, someone who appreciates all the wrongness of WoW's awkwardly named Viscous Hammer (and who knows how to spice up an email exchange with some pretty hot photos of China Miéville at a recent con -- but that's another story) ... To top it all off, along with her two children (her husband's the lone holdout of the family), Hoak's an avid WoW player. Join us after the break for a conversation on World of Warcraft from a SF/F insider's point of view, her recommended reading list for fellow WoW players, and more.

Main characters Devrana, 85 orc enhancement shaman; Shylea, 80 draenei paladin
Guilds <Vive la Horde>; <Omission>
Realms Uldum; Ravencrest

15 Minutes of Fame: A true sci-fi/fantasy and gaming geek -- welcome! How long have you played World of Warcraft?

Deanna Hoak: I've been playing since a few months after launch, so a little over six years now. My nephew (who is now the guild master of <Omission> on Ravencrest) got me into the game.

What attracted you to the game in the beginning?

The graphics and immersive nature of WoW drew me in immediately. Although I haven't played any other MMOs, I'm an old-school computer gamer, having cut my teeth on Colossal Cave played through one of the first online services -- the Source -- when I was a kid in the late '70s. I made my way through Zork and other text adventures, moved up to Sierra games when they came out (I'm still frustrated Rosella was too "ladylike" to climb trees), played Elder Scrolls and a few other games here and there over the years, and was finally captured by WoW.

How would you characterize your playstyle?

It would probably be most honest to describe myself as a very casual solo carebear.

We understand that you play with your family.

My son, who's 8, mainly enjoys watching me play and directing me what to do with his character. He really isn't interested in playing on his own yet, though I'm sure he'll get there. My daughter is 12 and has an 80 druid. She and I quest together and run each other's lowbies through dungeons and so on. We participated in one of the WoW Insider events on a roleplaying server once, and she really enjoyed that.

I've found WoW to be a fun way to spend time with the kids. I teach them proper gaming etiquette and also don't allow them to group without me, both for their own safety and so they don't unintentionally impose on anyone.

My husband, unfortunately, has absolutely no interest in WoW, and I've given up on getting him to play.

How is Cataclysm fitting your playstyle? What are you finding enjoyable about the expansion?

I'm enjoying Cataclysm a lot. The developers have eliminated so much of the really time-wasting running around that was ubiquitous in vanilla WoW (could anyone who had to do it forget the level 20 shaman quest where you literally had to spend hours simply running? I so much don't miss that type of thing) and have done some fantastic work making the quests themselves more interesting and the interface more usable. Archaeology was a nice addition for solo players, too. I was enormously excited when I found my recipe for the Vial of the Sands.

Anything you miss from vanilla WoW?

Nope. Not a single thing. I think the game has been improved all the way around and don't feel nostalgic for vanilla at all.

How has editing so much fantasy and science fiction affected your view of WoW's game world and lore? Has it made you any more or less critical than you think you might otherwise be?

Well, I was drawn to fantasy and science fiction because I have a deep love for the genre -- it's what I've always read and enjoyed. From that perspective, of course, I enjoy WoW enormously.

There are some things that drive me crazy -- like the Viscous Hammer. Seriously, it's been that way ever since I can remember, and surely they intended "Vicious"? At this point, since it's been around so long, I'd love it if they just added some flavor text indicating why it's gummy.

Yeah, I'm right there with you on the Viscous Hammer thing. What other in-game editing blunders drive you up the wall?

Copyediting is like bathing. No one ever notices it unless you don't do it. I notice typos in quest text and so on, but since I'm there to play rather than work, I disregard them. I also am not someone who corrects other players' grammar and spelling in chat. I teach my kids, actually, "It's only polite to correct someone if you're being paid to do it."

Do you find yourself drawn to a more roleplaying or "serious" view of your WoW character based on your frequent immersion in fictional fantasy worlds?

While I can immerse myself in the game quite easily, I don't really find myself immersing in my characters and have only tried roleplaying a tiny bit, with my daughter. I think that's likely more an aspect of my own personality rather than a function of the work I do.

We can't believe you aren't already guilded with a bunch of fantasy geeks! 15 Minutes has already interviewed several authors -- Catherynne M. Valente, Caitlín R. Kiernan - and we know there must be plenty more out there who are playing WoW. What gives?

I can immediately think of six authors whose work I've copyedited -- seven if I count Catherynne, but she doesn't play anymore -- who play WoW now, and I'm certain there are more that I just don't know about. We're all spread out across the many servers, though, and the thought of starting out on a new realm can be daunting to busy people. I would love to be a part of a guild filled with SF/F authors and editors -- the guild chat alone is guaranteed to be smart and entertaining -- but if there is one, I don't know about it. My current guilds are nice and family-friendly, though.

Tell us a little more in detail about what you do. How did you become a genre specialist? What are the things that you bring to your work that make you unique among other copyeditors?

I actually started out my career, after I finished my master's coursework, in editing college textbooks. I had always loved science fiction and fantasy, though, and one day I sat down with all my favorite books, looked up their publishers, and called the production departments there to see if they hired freelancers. A few of them did, and that started my SF/F career.

What I bring to the table is a deep love of and history with the genre, as well as a strong work ethic and a desire to help the books be as perfect as possible. A lot of copyeditors don't enjoy working with SF/F because of the made-up words and odd names they have to keep track of, but that world-building is all part of what makes the books so enjoyable for me. Those who are curious about my actual copyediting process can check out the blog post I wrote on it a few years ago. I joke sometimes that I'm paid to read books I'd be buying anyway, but the truth is that there's quite a bit more to it than that.

We're in Deanna's Hoak MMORPG world. Maybe it's uniquely yours, or maybe it's a blend of worlds of authors you've edited. Where are we and what are we doing?

I have been lucky enough to work on some amazing books by authors who built incredibly immersive and detailed worlds. I could never be happy having to give up any of that world-building, so my ideal MMORPG would be one that enabled each world to be re-created in whole in as much detail as possible, and you could travel between them. (I actually copyedited a book by Ernest Cline called Ready Player One in which this type of futuristic virtual world existed. Awesome book.) Thus I could spend the morning walking the weird streets of China Miéville's otherworldly cities, teleport over to observe James Enge's fantastically detailed werewolf culture over a meaty lunch, and spend the evening sharing drinks with and being charmed (undoubtedly out of my possessions, so that might be a one-time thing) by Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards.

Sounds like you have quite a catalog of references ready to spill forth.

It was terribly difficult to pare down all the fiction I'd love to point people toward. For instance, even though it's not one I worked on, any WoW player interested in a thoughtful story about virtual worlds should check out Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects, which explores the moral dilemmas you might run into if you were able to create artificially intelligent in-game pets.

Oh! And there's my own short story, "The Robidermist's Steed," in The Anthology of Dark Wisdom. It's a hard science fiction zombie unicorn story dealing with a robotic mount/pet created from a real horse.

A reading list like that makes waiting in the DPS queue sound downright appealing! We'll get right on it. Meanwhile, keep up with Deanna Hoak at her website and her lively Twitter feed.

 
91.BioWare says WoW is the touchstone for Star Wars: The Old Republic
When game developers talk about massively multiplayer games these days, World of Warcraft is the proverbial big man on campus. At the DICE summit keynote panel in Las Vegas, Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of Bioware, stated that WoW was the touchstone for standards in the MMO sphere and for upcoming Bioware MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. Essentially, Zeschuk was saying that breaking rules that World of Warcraft set as industry standards is a bad idea for any up and coming MMO.

Zeschuk said: "It [World of Warcraft] is a touchstone. It has established standards, it's established how you play an MMO. Every MMO that comes out, I play and look at it. And if they break any of the WoW rules, in my book that's pretty dumb."

What's interesting is how Zeschuk, sitting with Mike Morhaime at the keynote panel, gave WoW the reverence it deserves as the leading industry standard in MMO gaming. Instead of couching his remarks about the specific game he was in the process of making, he discussed how players expect a set of established standards that WoW has provided. Be it a sense of completion of polish, a game mechanic, core concepts, or even art direction and fluidity of art theme, World of Warcraft set the bar very high for other game developers and even Blizzard itself.

We know WoW is big, but I think we sometimes forget how important it is as well. Greg Zeschuk and the rest of the video game industry know this and acknowledge that breaking some clear-cut rules is a big mistake.
 
92.Spiritual Guidance: Playing your holy or discipline priest in patch 4.0.6

Patch 4.0.6 is live, which means we're taking a vacation from the raiding guides to talk about how priest healing has changed since the patch for holy and disc priests. Overall, life is great right now if you're a healing priest. There may be some people who disagree, but I think it's obvious that we've got it all right now. Our spells are strong, our cooldowns are amazing, and we have the best spell in the game, Leap of Faith (or Power Word: Barrier, if you want to be serious.) The posts complaining about priests being overpowered are at an all-time high, sweeping through the forums like a refreshing spring breeze; it's like Trial of the Crusader was just some bad dream.

Playstyle changes

The biggest playstyle change for both disc and holy priests will be how much we prioritize Prayer of Healing now that it's been nerfed. Since the effectiveness of the spell has gone down dramatically, you'll only want to use it when it's optimal -- you know, like you should have been doing in the first place? Well, regardless of how you were playing before the patch, the nerf is a good reminder that Prayer of Healing is best for situations when there are four or five targets who need healing in a group, not two or three. Be mindful of how the healing situation changes as you use it, particularly if you think you need to cast it multiple times. It will be hard to top off a group using Prayer of Healing alone anymore, so as soon as you see there are fewer than four players in a group who need healing, move on to another group or switch to your single-target healing.

Holy playstyle Though you'll use Prayer of Healing less (or stop using it earlier), know that you won't lose it entirely from toolbox -- as I said before, it's still good when four of five players in your group need the healing. You'll continue to cast Prayer of Mending and Circle of Healing on cooldown like you did, but the buff to both (one in the form of a glyph) will make it all the sweeter.

Holy priests will also want to capitalize on the new, lower cost of Renew to help fill in the gap where Prayer of Healing once was. Renew use will become a lot more liberal with the patch, but players should be careful how freely they apply it to the raid; it's easy to overdo and difficult to sustain. This isn't the same Renew spam from Icecrown Citadel, and you shouldn't pre-HoT players at full health who have no expectation of taking damage. Remember that your cast spells are ideal for lulls in the fight if you can't afford the mana cost of using Renew all the time.

Discipline playstyle Your playstyle can remain roughly the same as it was before the patch; just ease off your Prayer of Healing usage. Use Prayer of Mending on cooldown and Penance almost always on cooldown (try to use Penance as often as you can. There is almost always someone in the raid who can use the healing, just keep in mind that sometimes you'll want to save it for a few seconds when you know someone is going to need a big quick burst of healing. Usually after a big attack on the tank and you need to heal him before a melee swing, or right after a boss mechanic that drops a raider to really low health.) Without Prayer of Healing, you should naturally find yourself using Power Word: Shield more, and with the huge buff it received, you'll find this isn't a bad approach. Keep the new, increased mana cost in mind though; I do not encourage shield spam unless there is a specific upcoming mechanic in a fight that is ideally countered through pre-shielding. By all means, use your shields liberally, but do not use them superfluously -- try balancing them with other spells from your toolbox to prevent running out of mana. The buff to Grace will help your single-target healing out a bunch.

Mana management If you're having issues with mana after the patch, the biggest thing you can do is adjust when and how you use Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope. Use Shadowfiend early -- within the first 1 to 2 minutes of a fight. Then when it's available again later, you can use it with Hymn of Hope. Use your Mythical Mana Potion or Potion of Concentration when you can't make it between cooldowns without running dry. Make sure you're using any trinkets you have. Once you've done all these things, if you're still having trouble, start looking at your gear.

Adjusting your gear and equipment

With all the changes to playstyle, you're going to have a lot of little changes to make to your character. There shouldn't be any major changes, but make sure you give each aspect of your character some thought.

General gear adjustments Depending on how your mana regeneration fares after you adjust your cooldown usage, you might decide you need more spirit. Some players might choose to shirk spirit for intellect, and while intellect will affect your mana pool and your cooldowns, spirit is working every second to get mana back to you. Intellect has very little impact on your passive regen. So look over your gear and make sure all the pieces you have are spirit pieces. If they aren't, work at replacing them or reforging them to have spirit. All gear has intellect on it so you're not really giving up that much by taking spirit gear over gear with additional secondary stats. Extra haste, crit, and mastery will do you no good when you're out of mana.

The major exception to getting spirit on all your gear is trinkets, which should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. I wouldn't trade Tyrande's Favorite Doll for a spirit trinket, for example, but I would consider trading my Core of Ripeness for Mandala of Stirring Patterns. This is because Tyrande's Favorite Doll has one of the best mana return mechanics available right now, while I was really only using the Core of Ripeness because of how it worked with Mana Tide Totem before the patch. Now that my own stats have no affect on the amount of regeneration I get from Mana Tide Totem, and the Mandala of Stirring Patterns has been changed from a mastery proc to an intellect proc, it's a much stronger choice. If you have a specific trinket option you're unsure about, ask in the comments.

Gear for holy priests Now that Renew is more worthwhile, holy priests will want to make sure they have 12.5% haste to get that extra tick if they didn't already. From there, mastery and crit are still underwhelming at the currently attainable levels. Crit is only useful for Inspiration and RNG throughput, and when you're raid healing, getting Inspiration on the tank is a bonus, not a guarantee. Mastery is also underwhelming because at the amount Echo of Light is ticking for, you're really only padding meters with it. There will come a time when you can think, "If I heal target A for this much, Echo of Light will heal him for this much more, so I can switch to healing target B for now," but this is not that time. (Mastery is the secondary stat of choice for min/maxing, mind you. I go back and forth on what's most important, so if you're in a min/max kind of mood, by all means.) That said, stacking a lot of additional haste won't do a ton for your output either, maybe shaving off 0.1-0.2 seconds.

Gear for disc priests For disc, I recommend balancing your secondary stats as always, but mastery is probably the stat you'll want to lean toward if you're going to be heavy on anything. It will work nicely with your increased use of Power Word: Shield. It will still contribute to Divine Aegis as well, but you'll probably see your healing done by Divine Aegis go down now that you aren't using Prayer of Healing as much. Current crit levels just aren't supplying us with a lot of crit-procced Divine Aegis, and since you're getting crit from intellect, you're raising your crit a little bit with each gear upgrade you get. Finally, when it comes to using haste, it's really more about personal preference. Disc priests will obviously need less haste due to Borrowed Time, and since shield usage is going up, so will the time you spend in fight with a haste buff. If you choose to get extra haste on your gear, it will just help you a little bit when you don't have Borrowed Time active.

Gem changes You can actually probably stick with the gems you had going before, but I'd generally advise always sticking with gems that are intellect plus one other stat. That way, each gem you slot is helping your mana pool, crit, and throughput.
  • Blue slots Purified Demonseye while mana continues to be an issue.
  • Red slots Brilliant Inferno Ruby, unless you're really hurting for a secondary stat of some kind. Then you can use some type of orange gem, probably Reckless Ember Topaz for holy priests trying to meet haste requirements.
  • Yellow slots Reckless Ember Topaz for holy priests working on haste, after that Artful Ember Topaz. Stay balanced for discipline. That doesn't mean use a different gem in every socket; it means that if your gear has a lot of one stat, you can gem for another to balance things out. If you want to ignore the balance advice, stack mastery with Artful Ember Topaz.
Glyphs changes With new glyphs available, there may be some adjustments you want to make. Here are some recommendations.
  • Discipline and Holy Inscribe Glyph of Prayer of Mending. You should still be using Prayer of Mending on cooldown, so this glyph will serve you constantly. You should have no trouble finding a spot for it, since most of the other major glyphs are underwhelming or situational.
  • Discipline Inscribe Glyph of Power Word: Shield. The increased size of shields adds a very sizable instant cast heal to the front end of your bubble. Make sure you keep Glyph of Penance and Glyph of Power Word: Barrier.
  • Holy Consider inscribing Glyph of Renew. You may already have this glyph inscribed, in which case you're good to go. If you don't, though, consider your various options based on your playstyle; Glyph of Renew, Glyph of Prayer of Healing, and Glyph of Lightwell are the contenders. Make sure you keep Glyph of Guardian Spirit, though.

Tweaking your talent trees

Make sure you've picked up mana-saving talents like Mental Agility, regardless of your spec. You may also consider Veiled Shadows in the shadow tree for more Shadowfiend usage -- even if this means your Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend usage don't line up anymore, fights are long enough to fit in multiple cooldowns.

Holy talent changes You'll probably want to pick up your Renew talents again. That means Divine Touch and possibly Rapid Renewal depending on how much stress your mana pool can take. If you do a lot of single-target healing, you'll want to take another look at Surge of Light now that it can proc from more spells; raid healers still probably won't care too much about the talent. The buff to Desperate Prayer (it went from a flat rate of healing to a percentage) will also make it worth taking for self-preservation.

Discipline talent changes Make sure you're taking Strength of Soul, if you haven't been. The talent got buffed so that Flash Heal and Greater Heal reduce the duration of Weakened Soul too, but even if this buff hadn't occurred, the new strength of Power Word: Shield would motivate many players to cast Heal. The shield buff also means you'll probably end up dropping Evangelism, Archangel, and Atonement in favor of other talents (Surge of Light, Inspiration, and Desperate Prayer will most likely be your new alternatives.) Atonement healing isn't bad now, especially since many fights still have downtime when you'll want to DPS the boss anyway, but with Power Word: Shield getting stronger, there are just better options. Add to that the buff to Grace, and our temporary healing buff from Archangel doesn't seem as nifty anymore.

Closing thoughts on balance

If you've been playing this past week, you've undoubtedly heard some chatter on healer balance and priests. Some of it is about disc priests needing to be nerfed, the other part is about holy priests needing buffs. Let me address both.

Holy priests: You're going to be okay. Acknowledge that Prayer of Healing was overpowered for both disc and holy before the patch, and now it's in line. You weren't supposed to be using it from start to finish of a fight; this patch has made it so you won't. To keep up with other healers now, you're going to need to be smarter with your single-target healing. If you're having issues with mana, reassess your spell usage and your gear.

Disc priests: Once again, you have the ability to mindlessly spam Power Word: Shield from the beginning to the end of a fight and ride to the top of the meter again. You can tell yourself this is effective, but how quickly you've forgotten healing meters don't matter. I know there will be people who thing that topping the charts is the way to go, but it's far too early to tell if blanketing shields is going to really be much more than meter play. As for fixing it, there is a lot of talk on how Blizzard should work to discourage this type of play, and should the developers agree it's probably going to come in the form of a flat nerf to the amount of absorption. Trying to add a cap to how many shields a priest can have active at a time is overly complicated to implement and will cause problems depending on group size.

That said, it's possible this buff is intended to be large now and balance out over the next one to two tiers of content. Seeing as all the top guilds have killed everything now and nerfs have been issued for much of the raid content, Blizzard is probably more concerned with how the changes in patch 4.0.6 will affect the beginning of the next tier of content, not how it affects the rest of a tier that has been conquered. Even if most guilds haven't finished everything yet, we now know that everything was doable before the patch. Time will tell.

 
93.Know Your Lore Tinfoil Hat Edition: Mystery of the naaru

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Oh yes, we're going here again. Since the launch of The Burning Crusade, one of the most enigmatic mysteries of Warcraft lore has been the naaru, a race of creatures seemingly formed of pure energy that equates to what we in Azeroth know as the Light. We've discussed the naaru before in another Tinfoil Hat edition of Know Your Lore surrounding Elune and the history of the Light on Azeroth. However, there's been very little to suggest where these creatures come from or what their influence on the denizens of Azeroth ultimately means.

In last week's Know Your Lore, we theorized that Azeroth isn't just some simple planet that's been organized by the Titans. Instead, it may be that Azeroth is a weapon of some sort, quietly engineered by the Titans in the midst of their regular crusade of world organization in order to combat and perhaps, one day, defeat Sargeras. But where do the naaru, who led the draenei to Draenor and away from the influence of the Burning Legion, fit in? Why do the naaru seek to eliminate the Burning Legion? Are they in league with the Titans or simply working along the same lines as our creators?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on why it happened. The events presented are events that happened in Azeroth's history, but the conclusions are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact.


Naaru biology and life cycle

Naaru are apparently immortal -- or something close to it. Though they haven't been officially classified as "gods," they do possess the sort of altruistic nature and omnipresence generally attributed to gods. And then of course there's that whole bit about the Light. It hasn't clearly been defined whether the naaru are sources -- generators of the Light -- or whether they harness it and pass it on like a battery. There are three distinct parts to a naaru life cycle, such as it is:

Life In life, the naaru are as we see them all around Outland and the Exodar: glittering, glowing beings that radiant an aura of Light so strong and so intense that in some cases it can affect those around them, such as with A'dal in Shattrath.
<A soothing light fills you as you approach the naaru. Slow musical chimes echo within your mind and, though a word is not uttered, you feel an assurance of safety. You are welcome in Shattrath City.>
The naaru's purpose seems to boil down to destroying the Burning Legion and spreading the Light. Why exactly they've taken up this cause is a completely mystery; there's little information out there beyond the fact that the naaru are either composed of, or representatives of, the Light that paladins and priests use with nearly every spell they cast.

As far as the relative age of the naaru, we've only got vague clues to go on. In Sunwell Plateau, Velen makes a reference to the essence of the dead naaru, M'uru:
Prophet Velen says: Gaze now, mortals -- upon the Heart of M'uru! Unblemished. Bathed by the light of Creation -- just as it was at the Dawn.
This seems to imply that the naaru have been around since the dawn of creation -- though whether it's the creation of Azeroth or the creation of the universe itself isn't directly stated. Naaru are impossibly ancient creatures. K'ure, the naaru responsible for the draenei's escape from Argus, is well over 25,000 years old.

Decay In the event that a naaru is physically damaged, the naaru will bleed energy and enter a "void" state. We've seen examples of this in Outland, where the darkened naaru K'ure and D'ore rest, and more notably in Silvermoon with M'uru. Naaru that have been drained of light enter the void state, during which the souls of the dead are attracted to the void and consumed. Though the naaru still apparently retains its altruistic nature, it cannot help the side effects of the void state; it's just a part of the naaru's regenerative process.

The simple state of being darkened cannot kill a naaru. Left to their own devices, the naaru will regenerate over the course of time, thousands of years, at which point they will presumably return to their Light-filled state. The naaru D'ore in Auchindoun has been doing just that for nearly a thousand years, and when players release him during the quest Auchindoun ... it is apparent that he has healed.

Despite there being three instances of naaru entering a darkened state in game, the chances of it happening are extremely rare, according to Blizzard:
Because three cases of this "cycle" have been demonstrated in Nagrand, Auchindoun, and Sunwell Plateau (K'ure, D'ore, and M'uru, respectively), players may have received the wrong impression with regard to the magnitude and rarity of these events: it is EXCEEDINGLY rare for a naaru to fall into a void state, and even rarer for a fallen naaru to be brought back into the Light. A naaru's fall into the void represents a catastrophic loss for the naaru and for the forces of the Light, and it is the saddest, most heart-wrenching event for the naaru to witness. Conversely, a naaru being reborn into the Light brings renewed hope and sense of purpose to every naaru; if energy beings could weep tears of joy, this would do it.

Death
That said, it is possible to kill a naaru, though extremely rare -- and in fact, it's almost as if you aren't killing the naaru at all. When a naaru is physically damaged while in its void state, it can evolve into a creature wholly comprised of the void; that creature can be killed just like any other. What's left behind is the "heart" of the naaru, a spark of energy that still beats with the Light. This gives the impression that much like the phoenix of mythology, a naaru could possibly be reborn from the leftover spark or that because the spark is left behind, they never truly die, per se.

So far, the only spark we've supposedly seen has been the spark of M'uru, which was used to re-ignite the Sunwell after the defeat of Kil'jaeden. M'uru entered a darkened state when attacked by Kael'thas, which enabled the blood elves to imprison the naaru ... supposedly. In fact, it was revealed that a prophecy foretold the fate of M'uru, and he accepted it:
Silvery moon, washed in blood,
Led astray into the night, armed with the sword of broken Light.
Broken, then betrayed by one, standing there bestride the sun.
At darkest hour, redemption comes, in knightly lady sworn to blood.
M'uru wasn't exactly defeated; he sacrificed himself to redeem the blood elves as foretold in Velen's prophecy. So the actions of the blood knights, who further weakened M'uru's darkened state by draining the Light from him, were actually doing exactly as was intended. The fact that M'uru's spark could be used to re-ignite one of the most powerful fonts of magic on Azeroth suggests that the naaru are a formidable force indeed.

The naaru and the origins of the draenei

The naaru played a major part in Velen's flight from Argus. When Sargeras darkened the doorstep of the eredar homeworld and began corrupting the eredar, Velen prayed for help, uncertain of Sargeras' true motives. He saw a vision in answer to his prayers: a being formed of pure light that told him of Sargeras' intentions and offered to take Velen and any other eredar who wished to flee away from Argus to safety. Velen agreed, his followers boarded the naaru ship provided for them, and the draenei fled.
You are not alone, Velen of the eredar, the voice whispered to him. It was soothing, sweet, like the sound of flowing water and the rush of a summer wind. The radiance faded slightly, and hovering before Velen was a being unlike any he had ever seen. It seemed to be comprised of living light. Its center was a soft golden hue, the outer radius a glowing, soothing violet. Strange metallic-looking glyphs swirled around the center, calming and hypnotic, in a spiral dance of color and light. It continued to speak inside his mind, a sound that seemed to Velen to be light itself given voice.

We, too, have sensed the impending horrors about to befall this and other worlds. We strive to keep the balance, and what Sargeras is planning will rip apart everything. Utter chaos and ruination will descend, and the things that are good and true and pure and holy will be lost beyond recovery.
Who ... what ... Velen could not even form the question in his mind, so swept away was he by this being's glory.

We are the Naaru, the radiant entity said. You may call me ... K'ure.

Velen's lips curved around the words, and as he whispered them aloud, "Naaru ... K'ure ..." he tasted the sweetness of them, as if speaking the names granted him some of their very essence.

This is where it all begins, K'ure continued. We cannot stop it, for your friends have free will. But you have reached out with an anguished heart, to save what you can.

-- Rise of the Horde
K'ure and the other naaru sought to help Velen and the others, but their motives weren't quite as pure as it would seem. The naaru themselves are on their own quest of sorts -- the quiet amassing of an army of their own in order to fight and defeat the Burning Legion and with it, Sargeras. Why, exactly, they've set their sights on the Burning Legion hasn't really been defined, but it can be assumed that since the naaru appear to be creatures of Light, it is only natural for them to want to defeat the darkness -- and the Burning Legion represents the darkest of the dark.

Naaru and Azeroth

As far as Azeroth is concerned, the naaru's influence hasn't really extended to the planet so much. Or at least, it's commonly assumed that it hasn't. But what we do know is this -- the paladins of Azeroth and the paladins of the draenei are remarkably similar. Azerothian paladins immediately recognize the naaru as beings suffused with the holy Light. And though the naaru apparently made their first appearance in Azeroth during The Burning Crusade, it's entirely possible that we've been dealing with the naaru for much longer than that.

In the Caverns of Time: Durnholde Keep instance, players who forgo the dragonback route to Durnholde Keep and instead stop by Southshore are treated to a scene that plays out, detailing the creation of one of the greatest weapons ever created: The Ashbringer.
Commander Mograine unlocks the chest.
A Dark Crystal hovers above the chest.

Abbendis says: By the Light! What is it?
Commander Mograine says: I have had this object in my possession for 10 years. Since Blackrock Spire...
Commander Mograine says: I wrested it free from the remains of an orc lieutenant - a dark caster... It is from their homeworld.
Commander Mograine says: Do not get too close. I laid a hand upon it once... Only once and never again. The memories of that day still linger.
Commander Mograine removes the gauntlet from his right arm and shows everyone his mangled hand.
Commander Mograine says: I surmise that this object is the living embodiment of shadows... darkness... It is a manifestation. It is a void.
The item that Mograine obtains looks almost identical to the heart of dead naaru -- much like the heart of M'uru. And much like M'uru's heart, when sparked with the energy of a half dozen or so paladin, the crystal transformed into a shimmering beacon of Light.
Commander Mograine says: I... It... It is beautiful. What I felt when I touched it... The Light coursed through me and I through it... It healed my spirit.
Is it possible, then, that the Ashbringer of legend is not just a sword, but also a sword created from the heart of a naaru? It would certainly explain why the sword was so effective at cutting down swaths of undead -- a blade composed of the Light itself would doubtlessly be the best weapon one could hope to have when fighting the dark. Considering the fact that the void crystal originated somewhere on Draenor, where the naaru made their home and fought against the Burning Legion and their orc forces, it seems incredibly likely that this is the case.

What then, are the naaru? And how do they relate to the Titans? The enemy of the naaru is the Burning Legion, and the leader of the Burning Legion is the fallen Titan Sargeras. Are we to believe that it is sheer coincidence that the naaru have come to Azeroth with their draenei allies, or was there an ulterior purpose to their presence that has nothing to do with the Sunwell? According to Prophet Velen in a quest line in Swamp of Sorrows:
Prophet Velen says: Even now, the true battle between the forces of Light and Darkness approaches. We will all be called to join, and in the face of this conflict, all mortal suffering will be meaningless.
But more importantly, Velen is in the Swamp of Sorrows for a far greater purpose -- to help the dying Broken, Magtoor, pass into the Light. This isn't the first time we've seen this activity, though it was under slightly different circumstances. In the northern reaches of Icecrown, Crusader Bridenbrad lies dying of the plague. Through a series of quests, players attempt to save Bridenbrad to no avail. In the end, the only recourse lies with A'dal, who appears upon Bridenbrad's death and prevents the crusader from being resurrected as Scourge.
A'dal says: Fear not, young one, for this crusader shall not taste death.
A'dal says: In life, Bridenbrad was the bearer of great deeds. Now, in passing, he shall taste only paradise.
A'dal says: The light does not abandon its champions.
Champions. A'dal may be referring to the purpose of a paladin, or he may be referring to the purpose of all who inhabit Azeroth, paladin or no. Between Velen's prophecies of war and the reference to champions however, it is apparent we will all be fighting the Darkness, someday -- and the Darkness definitely isn't Deathwing, and it isn't the Old Gods. It's the Burning Legion.

The naaru have been present for an incomprehensible amount of time -- at least 25,000 years, more than likely much, much longer than that. Obviously, their sworn enemy at this point is the Burning Legion and the darkness it stands for, but what did the naaru do prior to the Legion's creation? Why are they here? Are they tied to the Titans, working to spread Light much the same way the Titans spread order across worlds? Are they perhaps the souls of fallen Titans themselves? Are they paladins that have so mastered the use of the Light that they've ascended beyond mere mortal form and evolved into beings composed of the Light?

Oddly enough, though we have no answers to the questions above, there does seem to be some sort of tenuous tie -- or at the very least, an odd coincidence. Consider the image below, a side-by-side shot of the signal to the Titans sent from Dalaran, and the top of Shattrath City:

We know the light from Dalaran is a signal to the Titans. We've theorized that perhaps the obelisks in Uldum have the same purpose, though that hasn't been clearly defined. In Shattrath, A'dal's light reaches to the heavens, much the same way as the signal in Dalaran. Is this an indication that the naaru have some sort of direct line of communication with the Titans?

Unfortunately, there are few answers in regards to this fascinating race. For now, it seems the mystery surrounding the naaru is to remain unanswered -- at least until we've dealt with Deathwing and the Old Gods and redeemed our home. Though the naaru seem to predict and anticipate the future, they have remained largely silent on the matter. Perhaps we simply need to find a way of proving ourselves to the naaru, showing them our intentions are pure, before they'll fill us in on the plan.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
  • Elune is a naaru
  • The Prophet Velen, the light and the darkness
  • The Eternals: The Titans
  • Uldaman, Ulduar and Uldum, strongholds of the Titans

 
94.The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warriors react to patch 4.0.6

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

I mentioned last week that if 4.0.6 dropped this week (which it did), I'd be talking about it this week. So far, my initial impressions are as follows:
  • Tanking doesn't feel particularly changed. I like Devastate more now that War Academy affects it, but it's not a major deal one way or another for me.
  • I've been playing around with the proposed Crit/Mastery gearing for fury warriors proposed by Landsoul, and as you would expect from one of the supreme warrior theorycrafters, it's valid. It does seem very dependent on high targets (about 22% crit or better and 17% mastery), although part of that might just be because some fights are so ridiculously punishing for melee right now that you have to compensate for lost DPS time.
  • I still like hit for fury if you're in ilvl333-346 blues and some mixed-in 359 epics. As your gear improves to all 359 and you start mixing in the BiS epics, you can start tinkering to drop to 10% hit. Hit's never bad; it's just prohibitively hard to actually cap out at this point. I suspect if hit starts falling way behind, stuff will be changed to make it more attractive to us, as well.
  • Arms feels slightly buffed. Fury feels like the damage just moved around. Prot feels absolutely unchanged. How the hotfix to raging blow will shake out is as yet undetermined.
So now let's talk about 4.0.6 in detail.

First up, the entirety of the 4.0.6 patch notes pertaining to warriors.

Warriors
  • Charge now shares diminishing returns with stun effects.
  • Cleave damage has been reduced by 20%.
  • Hamstring now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
  • Heroic Strike damage has been reduced by 20%.
  • Inner Rage has been redesigned. It now reduces the cooldown on Heroic Strike and Cleave by 50% (to 1.5 second) for the next 15 seconds. 1-minute cooldown. It still cannot be used during Deadly Calm. This ability was originally designed to help warriors with rage capping, but the Heroic Strike and rage normalization changes seem to have solved that problem on their own. This new design will still allow warriors to burn off excess rage faster, at their discretion.
  • Recklessness now increases special critical strike chance by 50%, down from 100%, but lasts the full 12 seconds instead of allowing only 3 charges.
  • Slam weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 125% to 145%.
  • Talent specializations
    • Arms
      • Drums of War no longer lowers the rage cost of Piercing Howl.
      • Juggernaut no longer increases the cooldown on Charge, but instead increases the duration of the Charge stun by 2 seconds. In addition, Charge is usable in all stances, however, the talent now causes Charge and Intercept to share a cooldown.
      • Lambs to the Slaughter: Instead of granting 10/20/30% damage to the next Mortal Strike, Overpower, or Execute, it now grants a 10% buff to any Mortal Strike, Overpower, Slam, or Execute that stacks 1/2/3 times.
      • Mortal Strike cost has been reduced by 5 rage.
      • War Academy no longer buffs Heroic Strike or Cleave. It now buffs Mortal Strike, Raging Blow, Devastate, Victory Rush and Slam.
    • Fury
      • In addition to its current effects, Bloodsurge now also causes the next Slam to deal 20% more damage.
      • Bloodthirst damage has been increased by approximately 30%.
      • Raging Blow weapon damage percent (at level 80+) has been increased from 110% to 120%. (Note: this has since been hotfixed into a nerf.)
      • Single-Minded Fury bonus has been increased to 20%, up from 15%.
      • Unshackled Fury (Mastery) now grants 5.6% benefit per mastery point, up from 4.7%.
    • Protection
      • Charge's stun continues to not trigger diminishing returns for Protection warriors who have the Warbringer talent.
  • Glyphs
    • Glyph of Rapid Charge has been changed from a 7% reduction to Charge's cooldown, to 1 second off of the cooldown. This change is primarily to clarify the exact cooldown reduction this glyph provides.
  • Warrior bug fixes
    • Warrior abilities which were incorrectly assigned the sound effect for Mangle have been updated.
    • Battle Shout's buff tooltip should not show incorrect values when the recipient is higher level than the warrior.
    • Heroic Leap and Thunder Clap no longer incorrectly scale damage with both Strength and Agility.
    • Forceful Deflection passive aura is now properly applying to warriors beginning at level 1.
    • The Victorious buff can no longer proc before the warrior learns Victory Rush.
    • The wording in the tooltip for Vigilance was inconsistent with other abilities and has been updated.

How are warriors performing now?

So far this week I've tanked and done fury DPS and arms DPS in raids and 5-mans, and so I feel pretty comfortable in discussing each. I haven't gotten a chance to PvP as fury yet, and my arms PvP experience has been limited to running around Tol Barad committing Bladestorm upon packs I know will kill me for it. With the new, extended charge stun from Juggernaut and Blitz, I can usually at least put the hurt down on a couple of people before I die -- more, if I can manage to get a Throwdown in there -- but my whole PvP strategy right now is basically to be a fire-and-forget missile and hope for a wandering healer to take kindness upon my soul. Failing that, I try really hard to kill at least one cloth-wearer before I die.

In PvE, arms still feels weaker than fury to me, but others are reporting solid damage with the spec. Then again, "weaker than fury" doesn't necessarily mean weak. I won't pretend I'm unaware that people will always choose the spec they think outputs the most DPS, but when the difference can be as little as 1k DPS in a 10-man, it's pretty close to the goal of "getting arms and fury close enough for taste preferences to win out."

I'm not saying that given equivalent skill and the optimal gear for each spec, fury won't put out more damage than arms. What I am saying is that if you're a more skilled arms warrior with solid gear, you can put out enough damage as arms that you're not hurting your raid, really. I mean, aside from being melee DPS in the most melee-unfriendly expansion of all time. The reduction in Mortal Strike's rage cost and the increase in Slam's damage both seem positives for arms, and the change of Lambs to the Slaughter to a stacking buff seems at the least to be not having any negative effect on PvE DPS.

Staying mobile

Right now, both arms and fury have about the same mobility in both PvP and PvE, with arms using Charge while fury uses Intercept and both have Heroic Leap. Fury may have the edge with Heroic Fury allowing Intercept cooldown to be reset and snares to be purged, since arms now can't Intercept after a Charge (they share a cooldown now). In fact, much as I believe arms to be worth using for PvE if you're better at using the arms style of procs and abilities, so too do I think the high mobility of fury -- combined with 4.0.6's buff to fury's mastery, Bloodthirst and Bloodsurge -- means that fury can put out more burst while moving around the field. This makes it more viable for PvP. The buff to fury's mastery has pretty wide-reaching consequences, in fact -- so much so that I know we'll be revisiting the subject. For now, it's very nice for PvP bursting. That's why they nerfed Raging Blow, in fact.

For PvE, I personally haven't noticed much of a shortfall in DPS. If anything, I'm putting out slightly more while still using Heroic Strike and Cleave when the situation warrants. I have two fury sets right now, one that manages about 21% hit, 17% crit and 14% mastery, and another that drops to about 12% hit, 19% crit and 15% mastery. At present, I see more DPS with the higher hit set, but as I said before, I definitely think that as I manage more crit and mastery that I will find myself needing less hit overall. I'm kind of on the fence about it, actually, as for right now I see significant DPS increases with every percentage of hit from 12% up to the 20% mark, but that's got to be in part due to my lower crit and mastery.

I've tested out SMF as well, but my results seem skewed by the fact that I have an epic two-hander and no epic one-handers. It's a lot closer now with the 20% buff to SMF to compensate for the higher stats and raw DPS on two-handed weapons. I still like TG better, but I'm feeling more comfortable in declaring this a stylistic choice.

Fury in general actually seems to me to have gotten the buffs to abilities like Raging Blow, Slam and Bloodthirst that compensate for the nerfs to Cleave and Heroic Strike. Even on fights like Omnotron with lots of target switching, interrupts, add kiting, and repositioning due to high damage abilities that can hurt the entire raid, there wasn't a signficiant DPS shortfall. (That being said, man, I hate Omnotron.) I'm really fond of Bloodsurge adding damage to Slam. It makes that Bloodsurge proc fun again.
Keeping threat solid

Having switched to tanking in Bastion, I felt very little effect from the HS/Cleave nerfs. Certainly, AoE threat was lower due to Cleave's losing punch, but to some degree it was compensated for with higher Devastates and more tactical use of Enduring Victory. I managed to tank the drake/whelps/drake combination on Halfus effectively, although in part that's due to my having Blood and Thunder. Quite frankly, I really liked the redesigned Inner Rage for moments of high-rage tanking, like when I had a pack of whelps on me and could get the Cleave cooldown ridiculously fast to increase my burst threat. Aside from that, protection is as unchanged as that one line section under "Protection" in the patch notes would have you believe.

The caveats

Now that I've been fairly upbeat, my complaints. I don't like what Blizzard has done to Charge's stun, which is fairly short anyway, and the Juggernaut change doesn't quite compensate, in my opinion. Yes, I know the developers were going after the Charge / Throwdown combination here. I still don't like it. I'm not fond of Cleave and HS being doubly nerfed by having their base damage reduced and then both being removed from War Academy, especially for tanking warriors counting on Cleave and Incite-boosted HS. Yes, I know I said it was a minor threat drop and easily dealt with; I still don't like it.

Okay, that's enough out of me. In general, 4.0.6 ranges between fair and good for warriors. Next week, arms talents, and then we'll start talking about Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight bosses.

 
95.Predicting Battle.net's social future
If you think we've scratched the surface of Battle.net cross-game implementation with Real ID, you are going to be amazed at what is coming next. Do I know any of this for sure? No, of course not. I base my predictions on three simple facts:
  1. Blizzard has created an account-based loyalty program that has encapsulated each and every one of its games;
  2. Blizzard is chock-full of smart individuals who understand community, as illustrated by the new community website; and
  3. Blizzard has made your account mean something into perpetuity.
If you think Battle.net is sharp at 2.0, you can't even imagine 3.0.

What do we have now?

We have no idea what's coming next, but what we do know is that one day, Battle.net will grow even bigger and start becoming an even greater presence in the games we play from Blizzard. Battle.net as it exists today focuses on the community aspects of an ever-increasing player-base of Blizzard fans. Battle.net is your home for all things Blizzard, including purchasing games, downloadable content, and subscriptions.

Battle.net is also Real ID, one of the biggest innovations to come to Blizzard's retail products in years. By linking WoW and StarCraft 2 with a dedicated chat interface common across both worlds, Blizzard is effectively letting you live in Blizzard-world without needing to break out of your game to talk to your friends in other games. Think about that for a minute -- Blizzard's universe is gravitating towards its own social portal, and no matter what game you play from Blizzard, you're connected.

Real ID still has its problems, sure, but for the most part these have been ironed out following the community's requests and responses. I'd still love an "invisible" or "offline" option, but that will have to wait. Nonetheless, Real ID is a powerful tool that many people are using to keep in communication across Blizzard's network.

Finally, Battle.net is a nexus for purchasing Blizzard games and expansion packs, downloadable content, and merchandise. Downloadable content is no new thing, but Blizzard has done something very smart in its DLC strategy. DLC purchases, like the WoW pets and mounts from the Pet Store, are account-bound items that populate themselves across each and every character you've created. For World of Warcraft, this is a stark departure from the WoW TCG precedent of one item for one character, in which your items are bound by character, not account.

What's coming?

Battle.net is going to grow in many different directions, and it makes me think about how this will change the face of MMOs forever. The criteria of what constitutes a virtual world changes every day. Facebook and Twitter are now two very unorthodox virtual worlds, running alongside the more traditional notion of a WoW or Second Life. The game is changing, and so is Battle.net.

I'd like to see Battle.net become its own social layer, in the very same ways Steam and the Steam client feature a social layer in its infancy. Battle.net has already paved the way for cross-game communication, and the Blizzard store has already set up the account-based game keys and downloading functionality. Instead of Battle.net being a portal that is accessed through a web browser, what if Battle.net was a layer you put on top of Blizzard games?

Steam minus the broad marketplace aspect is a good place to start. Layered over your games is a chat and social interface that you can access to engage in multiple social activities. Iterating on Steam's interface successes could be a powerful and incredibly potent step for Battle.net to take.

In addition, Battle.net and account security is increased by a second layer of gating. Instead of logging into your games, you would log into the Battle.net layer that could then launch games. A second security point could be added for another step along the way to input another authenticator code or some other form of account security. Having a Battle.net client installed on your system, however, allows for a more robust portal than the launcher window that WoW currently sports.

Let's not stop at a new layer. Imagine incorporating your achievements from various games into Battle.net achievements that grant you cross-game rewards. Finishing StarCraft 2 to completion could unlock a companion hydralisk pet on World of Warcraft. Achieving level 85 in World of Warcraft gives you a cool new costume for your Diablo 3 monk. Cross-promotion within Blizzard's own games could be monumental.

The Battle.net account is slowly becoming the Blizzard version of a loyalty program. The more you add to your account, the greater the benefits become across the Blizzard family of games. Let's hope Blizzard takes this a step further when it comes to purchasing DLC. Could you imagine if buying clothing packs for all your Blizzard games gave you a few tabards in WoW, some new outfits for your Diablo characters, and some new decals for StarCraft units, somewhat like Bioware's Mass Effect customization packs? Your DLC purchases could effect every game on your account.

The social profile


Your Battle.net account is slowly becoming the commodity that represents you as a Blizzard gamer. Slowly but surely, your Battle.net identity is going to morph more and more into a social profile. World of Warcraft's armory website was the prototype. The new WoW community site takes things one step further. Over time, Battle.net could look like a Blizzard Facebook, as you friend people on the site, communicate in and out of game via a unified mailbox, and share screenshots and information with the click of a button -- all from a layered Battle.net interface over each and every Blizzard game you own.

The possibilities are endless. Take everything that is good about Facebook and Steam -- primarily the sharing aspects and unified game portal features -- and add Blizzard polish. What you have is a revamped Battle.net 3.0 that exists as a social networking layer, connecting you and your friends through your love of Blizzard games and a shared environment. Battle.net could be and most likely will be the next generation of gaming social experience. Battle.net's future is bright because there are some seriously gifted people with all of this already on a whiteboard somewhere in Irvine. And that makes me excited
 
96.Know Your Lore: Fandral, Feralas, and the struggle of the Green Dragonflight
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
In the sunken city, he lays dreaming ...
The drowned god's heart is black ice ...
At the bottom of the ocean even light must die ...
Do you dream while you sleep or is it an escape from the horrors of reality?

-- The Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron
We've discussed the Green Dragonflight before, from the history and background of the flight itself to the events that occurred during the Nightmare War. But the activities of the green flight continue in Cataclysm, both in the northern reaches of Hyjal and elsewhere around the world. Despite the victory at the end of Stormrage, the troubles of the Green Dragonflight are far from over, and the threat of the Emerald Nightmare still looms.

In Stormrage, it was revealed that Fandral Staghelm was responsible for the continued imprisonment of Malfurion Stormrage in the Emerald Dream. Not only that, but he was attempting to slowly kill Malfurion using a mysterious herb called Morrowgrain, gathered from Un'Goro Crater by unwitting adventurers. At the end of Stormrage, Fandral -- living under the delusion that the Emerald Nightmare had returned his son Valstann from the dead -- fell into madness when Malfurion arrived and destroyed the fake Valstann right in front of Staghelm. Staghelm broke, whatever glimpse of sanity he may have had disappeared, and he was led away to be imprisoned, as it was obvious his actions were those of a madman.

In Cataclysm, the location of Fandral's prison is finally revealed: Mount Hyjal, once home to the night elves prior to Nordrassil's destruction. The barrow dens beneath Hyjal -- once prison to another night elf of note -- are where Fandral is now being held. But not for long. During the course of questing through Hyjal, it's revealed that the Twilight's Hammer seeks to free Fandral Staghelm, and players must escort the former arch druid from the Barrow Dens so that he may be moved to Moonglade.

While it's never directly stated why the Twilight's Hammer wants Fandral, it can be assumed that it's because as an arch druid, he possesses a great deal of power. On top of that, it's already been proven that he's easily corruptible. With that in mind, he'd make a perfect pawn for the Twilight's Hammer. Oddly, though his move to Moonglade is successful, Ysera questions whether or not his relocation was a wise move.

This is partially due to placing him in an area like Moonglade, which still teems with power, and partially due to the fact that the Nightmare corruption that afflicted Fandral is far from taken care of. At the end of Stormrage, Malfurion and the combined forces at his command managed to remove most of the corruption that plagued the Emerald Dream -- but there was one section called the Rift of Aln that even he was unable to touch. Within the Rift, an ancient evil sought to keep its grip there from somewhere in the depths of Azeroth's seas.

The Rift of Aln may very well be the Emerald Dream's version of the Rift in the Maelstrom -- the rift created when the Well of Eternity was destroyed and collapsed upon itself during the Sundering, 10,000 years before. If this is the case, the Maelstrom, which Thrall holds in check, may be sitting on top of an Old God -- the Old God responsible for the Emerald Nightmare. In the Quests and Lore panel at BlizzCon 2010, the Old God was given a name: N'Zoth.

While we haven't really heard any information regarding N'Zoth other than his name, the Green Dragonflight still struggles with the remainder of the Emerald Nightmare that was the Old God's doing. Feralas holds the distinction of being one of four areas that contain portals leading into the Emerald Dream. Though players cannot pass through the portals in game, they were used by Tyrande Whisperwind in Stormrage. In classic WoW, these four portals seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever until the emergence of four dragons of Nightmare -- Emeriss, Lethon, Taerar, and Ysondre.

Formerly trusted lieutenants of Ysera, these four dragons had been thoroughly corrupted by the Emerald Nightmare. In Stormrage, the Nightmare War resulted in the death of Emeriss and Lethon, but Ysondre and Taerar managed to escape death. In Cataclysm, players who venture into Feralas discover Ysondre's fate. Saved from the Emerald Nightmare yet unable to return to the Green Dragonflight, Ysondre seeks to atone for her actions before and during the Nightmare War.

Feralas itself managed to escape the majority of the damage caused by the Sundering. Though the island fortress of Feathermoon Stronghold has sunk into the sea, its night elf inhabitants have built a new stronghold along the shore. The western edge of Feralas is in danger of flooding from the Thousand Needles, but otherwise, the majority of the zone remains unaffected. The wildlife, however ...

Players questing through Feralas are told to take note of the wildlife that is slowly giving in to corruption. And it's not just the deer and other small animals -- even the emerald whelps that protected the Dream Bough in northern Feralas have given in to this corruption. Its cause is unknown, until players meet a familiar green dragon, now in the form of a night elf.
Konu Runetotem says: I am at a loss. Perhaps only the Earth Mother herself knows the cause of this. But we must do something before this continues...
Ysondre says: Your sincerity is moving, druid.
Konu Runetotem says: You are no night elf...this is the guise of a green dragon! By the Earth mother, I...
<Konu Runetotem kneels before Ysondre>
Ysondre says: I deserve no such respect or reverence, druid. I have betrayed my own kind. The illness of this land is my fault.
Ysondre says: The sickness is born of the Nightmare within the Emerald Dream, and the dragon Taerar spreads it. He is but a crazed shade of his former self, but will see this land devoured.
Ysondre says: I cannot face him myself. To even approach him would risk letting the same corruption overtake me once more.
Konu Runetotem says: What must we do?
Ysondre says: The earth itself weeps in its suffering. Gather its tears, and use them to seal the portal at the Great Tree. The connection to the Dream must be cut.
Ysondre says: Be brave, heroes.
It is then up to the players to seal the portal. Taerar, however, is nowhere to be seen -- in his place is the green dragon Lethlas, who is a shade of his former self and apparently working for Taerar now. After players defeat Lethlas, the quest chain ends. Later, players are asked to meet with Ysondre atop the Emerald Summit to put a stop to Taerar once and for all. With Taerar destroyed, the Dragons of Nightmare are gone, and Feralas is free to flourish without the corrosive corruption of the Emerald Nightmare. Ysondre is also free, though she is unable to rejoin the green flight. All seems to be well -- but what about the other portals to the Emerald Dream, scattered across the world?

In the Hinterlands, Seradane lies deserted. All dragonkin that formerly watched the portal have disappeared, and the drake guardians of the portal, Rothos and Dreamtracker, have vanished. In Ashenvale, Bough Shadow still holds remnants of its guardians as well as the drake pair Phantim and Dreamstalker, but there appears to be no mysterious activity or corruption rampant in the area. In Duskwood, the Twilight Grove remains empty -- no guardian drakes, no dragonkin, nothing but a portal and the sounds of archaeologists digging up the night elf site.

Ysera, leader of the Green Dragonflight, has now assisted the night elves in taking back Mount Hyjal and pushing back the minions of Ragnaros and the Twilight Cult. But though the Nightmare War took care of the majority of the corruption in the Emerald Dream, pieces of it still lurk within the Rift of Aln. Fandral Staghelm has supposedly been relocated to Moonglade, but both his and the green dragon Alysra's whereabouts are currently unknown. Did they arrive in Moonglade as planned, or were they intercepted somewhere along the way?

As for the Emerald Nightmare -- as long as N'Zoth exists, it is unlikely that the Nightmare will be wiped out entirely. Though the portal in Dream Bough was sealed, the other portals scattered around Azeroth have not. Will we see more corrupted areas as time goes on? Was Ysera's departure from the Emerald Dream a well-intentioned mistake? Should she have remained behind to address the last points of corruption within the Emerald Dream? Most importantly, will we confront N'Zoth in this expansion, or will we have to wait to put him to an end?

The answers are all incredibly unclear at this point, but rest assured, once the immediate horrors of Deathwing's emergence have been dealt with, it is highly likely we'll turn our attentions to those areas that were left unattended in favor of the more pressing matter of the Shattering and its impact on Azeroth. With the addition of new daily quests in Hyjal and the upcoming raid on the Firelands in 4.1, it's clear that the story in Hyjal will continue to develop. Perhaps once Ragnaros has been laid to his final rest, the druids of Azeroth and the Green Dragonflight will once more turn their attentions to the Emerald Dream, the Rift of Aln, and ultimately, N'Zoth.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
  • Stormrage and the Emerald Nightmare
  • The Green Dragonflight
  • Ysera the Dreamer
  • Fandral Staghelm
  • The Old Gods

 
97.Around Azeroth: What goes up must come down
Oh, goblin engineers, is there anything you can't craft, blow up and then set on fire? Koozie of Firetree (US-H) may be just level 11, but she's a scientific prodigy when it comes to disaster. Next up on the invention docket: asbestos shoe soles.
 
98.Returning to World of Warcraft to play Cataclysm

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You haven't played WoW in years -- but then you got a whiff of the expansion. Now you're itching to play again, but you're completely lost. So much has changed. Heck, so much is still changing. What do you need to do to get your characters back up to speed? Is there something you should be doing right now, before the expansion hits in December? Should you wait and reroll a new character? Will you sideswipe yourself if you simply start blind and fresh from level 1 in Cataclysm?

WoW Insider makes it simple.

Coming back to WoW after a break This article hits all the basics: Should you start now or wait for the expansion? Will you be at a disadvantage if you're not in game "getting ready" right now? What's changed since X date? What's important right now in today's game?

What's important about Cataclysm? Get a good grasp of key changes and new content in the upcoming expansion.

Cataclysm: The inside scoop Here's our reference page where we constantly update you with everything you need to know about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

Click onward for more answers you can sink your teeth into.

What's happening in the game right now? If you want to jump in and get your feet wet early, here's a state-of-the-game update on current gameplay and mechanics.

What about my UI and mods? WoW's user interface and the mods you can use to personalize it are better -- and simpler to adjust and use -- than ever.

Can I download the expansion? Yes, you can -- with a few caveats.

You'll need a Battle.net account now You'll be able to connect with friends across servers and games, manage all your Blizzard games and more.

Choosing a new realm Ready to go all the way with a whole new realm for the expansion? Here's how to make a choice that fits your playstyle.

Choosing a new guild If you've been out of the loop so long that you've lost or would prefer a new guild home, check out these tips for finding a compatible group to hang with.

Isn't something changing about raid group sizes? In Cataclysm, 10- and 25-man raids will share the same raid lockout and loot tables, and the 10-man scene, widely regarded as inferior throughout WoW's history, will be designed to have approximately the same difficulty as its 25-man counterpart.

What's up with your class and spec?

Death knights Blood / Frost / Unholy
Druids Balance / Feral DPS / Feral tanking / Restoration
Hunters Beast mastery / Marksmanship / Survival
Mages Arcane / Fire / Frost
Paladins Holy / Protection / Retribution
Priests Discipline / Holy / Shadow
Rogues Assassination / Combat / Subtlety
Shaman Elemental / Enhancement / Restoration
Warlocks Affliction / Demonology / Destruction
Warriors Arms / Fury / Protection


Still hungry for more details on what's ahead? Stroll through our comprehensive look at the upcoming expansion with WoW Insider's Guide to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

 
99.The Lawbringer: A primer on private servers

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

The history of private MMO servers goes back to the heyday of the massively multiplayer, when the concepts of these virtual worlds were still in their formative stages. World of Warcraft private servers, also called emulated servers, boast numbers in the thousands, usually running off donations and providing a limited amount of the full WoW experience due to the nature of the reverse server engineering and implementation needed to run the game. One thing is for certain, though: Using the game client to connect to an emulated server is against the World of Warcraft EULA and cuts into Blizzard's profits.

What are private servers?

Private servers have been around since the early days of MMOs. I remember back in the day when RunUO, emulated server architecture for Ultima Online, was incredibly popular. Some of these servers provided really cool and compelling rulesets that were never part of the original game. Sure, it was against the EULA then, but it was the wild west and rules were made to be broken. EULA violations, sure, but illegal?

An emulated server is basically a third-party approximation of what the real server software and architecture is supposed to look like. In WoW's case, a crafty programmer can use the WoW client to reverse engineer or make approximations about how things are supposed to work, put those servers online, and then allow people to connect to said servers without the same authentication, activation, or other anti-piracy measures that Blizzard had put in place, like CD keys.

So how do you create server architecture and software for a game that never releases its server architecture and software? Blizzard would never release its WoW server technology -- it would be a terrible move for the integrity of the brand and its game and profits. Ultima Online was easy to emulate because, apparently, all you needed to do was change a few lines of text in the UO files to point to client to a new server location.

The client, the actual installed copy of the game on your hard drive, then becomes the server key, with clever programmers parsing the client for clues and information on the server architecture. Usually this involves some type of reverse engineering of the server software, which is generally illegal, according to the DMCA.

Ah, our good friend the DMCA is back. You'll learn quickly that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has curled its many tendrils around almost every internet legal concern since its inception. There was a case called Bowers v. Baystate Technologies back in 2003 that clarified that a EULA could negate the fair use allowance of reverse engineering, thus removing reverse engineering as a way to figure out the way software works. You can, however, reverse engineer for interoperability concerns, but not to make a competing product. You're also prohibited from releasing any code or information you create from reverse engineering.

bnetd: We've been here before

Do you remember bnetd, the emulation software that allowed players to create their own Battle.net-like servers and play Blizzard games on them? Bnetd was huge during many of Blizzard's betas because many people downloaded the game clients without permission and began to play said betas on emulated servers. The reverse engineering of Battle.net was so good that bnetd provided some of the best emulation ever, giving almost a perfect feature-for-feature facsimile of Battle.net.

Blizzard didn't sit on this one idly. In 2002, Blizzard issued a DMCA takedown to bnetd's internet service provider, and the lawsuits soon followed. Blizzard won in 2004 on claims of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, EULA violations, and DMCA anti-circumvention procedures. You see, the DMCA specifically states that it is illegal to circumvent barriers that software creators put to block unauthorized use of their software. CD keys, Blizzard said, were such barriers.

The EFF hated the rulings, saying that fighting over reverse engineering was going to have a chilling effect on interoperability system design. Blizzard won the appeals in 2005, and bnetd.org was given to Blizzard, with production of the emulation server software moved to other countries where no such anti-circumvention law exists.

Battle.net even has an FAQ about emulation servers and how CD keys help to fight piracy here.

"A major victory for our profit margins"

Mike Morhaime's now infamous quote resonates with us today, especially when you consider the sales and subscription figures for World of Warcraft. After the bnetd rulings, Morhaime stated that the rulings were "a major victory for our profit margins." And he's right -- the ability to only play Blizzard games on Blizzard's architecture is a big deal, especially with the number of people who play Blizzard games. Battle.net was free, and people still played on bnetd servers. Granted, they were also usually downloading copies of Blizzard games illegally and against the EULA, because bnetd did not require the same authentication to play as did the actual Battle.net servers.

Which brings us to the World of Warcraft. The problem with emulated servers is not so much the server aspect, running the servers, or making profit off of unauthorized servers. I mean, those things are also a problem. The real issue, however, is that these servers do not require the same authentication to play on them as the actual Blizzard server structures do. Just like Battle.net and bnetd, the real issue is that players steal copies of the boxed game and useg these illegal copies in unauthorized ways.

When Morhaime said that bnetd was a huge victory for their profit margins, he wasn't being flippant -- he was being honest. Selling retail versions of the game is a big capital moneymaker, covering a good amount of the cost of development. The monthly fee revenue generated pays for upkeep and the continued development, sure, but the initial investment has to be repaid somehow, and boxed copies are key.

EULA

Here's the EULA provision that makes emulated servers unauthorized:
Additional License Limitations

The license granted to you in Section 1 is subject to the limitations set forth in Sections 1 and 2 (collectively, the "License Limitations"). Any use of the Service or the Game Client in violation of the License Limitations will be regarded as an infringement of Blizzard's copyrights in and to the Game. You agree that you will not, under any circumstances:

F. facilitate, create or maintain any unauthorized connection to the Game or the Service, including without limitation (a) any connection to any unauthorized server that emulates, or attempts to emulate, the Service; and (b) any connection using programs or tools not expressly approved by Blizzard;...

Fighting against piracy and emulated servers

Blizzard has stepped up the fight against unauthorized emulated servers in recent years, sending out takedown notices, threatening legal action against against these server providers, and in some cases removing the official accounts of private server users.

One of the biggest emulated servers, Molten-WoW, boasts over 60,000 active players weekly, provides links to full World of Warcraft downloads and patches, and accepts donations while using Blizzard assets, artwork, and everything in between to run their own servers for World of Warcraft. It opened on Dec. 5, 2009, and only features limited content up to Wrath of the Lich King. It's a hotbed for game piracy.

60,000 non-paying customers. 60,000 retail box copies not bought. And that's just Molten-WoW. There are dozens of popular private servers with an estimated hundreds of thousands of total users. Over the course of World of Warcraft's past, present, and future existence, a very, very large sum of money will be lost to pirates and private server operators.

Blizzard's recent forays into the legal world have been met with mixed successes, with major defeats to the copyright infringement aspects of their EULA claims. The DMCA, however, is still a sharp sword that Blizzard wields with finesse, and it will most likely be the weapon of choice against private servers. The problem is can Blizzard even reach them?

My preachy two sentences: Buy your games. Support the companies who make video games.
 
100.Cataclysm hotfixes for Jan. 26
It's hotfix time! Blue poster Zarhym has posted with a whole mess of new hotfixes, and boy are there some doozies this time around. The changes include loot table adjustments for all raid dungeons, adjustments to the Lunar Festival, and a handful of class changes as well. Some highlights from the list:
  • Heroic set tokens in raid dungeons have been moved to earlier bosses on 25-player Heroic difficulty (chest from Halfus, legs from Maloriak, gloves from Magmaw, helm from Nefarian, shoulder from Cho'gall).
  • Elder Rumblerock is now available during the quest "Assault on Dreadmaul Rock" for both the Horde and the Alliance.
  • In Deadmines, Glubtok's Fire and Frost Blossoms summoned during the encounter no longer grant experience or reputation.
  • In Vortex Pinnacle, bosses will no longer respawn after a soft reset if players already have a Heroic save.
Follow us after the break for a full list of changes.


Zarhym
  • General
    • Thunder Bluff reputation no longer increases further from Horde faction gains than other races, now correctly capping at Friendly.
  • Classes
    • Druids
      • Enrage will now properly increase the amount of damage taken by the druid.
      • Force of Nature and Wild Mushroom can now be cast correctly even if the target is on a different height of terrain from the druid.
    • Paladins
      • The bonus healing provided by Conviction now functions correctly when healing other players.
      • The passive healing bonus from Walk in the Light has been reduced to 5%, down from 15%. This change is to balance against the fix to Conviction, but still results in a small overall buff to paladin healing.
    • Priests
      • Prayer of Mending is now properly reduced by healing reduction effects, such as Mortal Strike, Absolute Corruption, and Engulfing Darkness.
    • Rogues
      • The benefit of Executioner for Slice and Dice is now correctly removed from the rogue after switching talent specializations.
  • Dungeons & Raids
    • The Bastion of Twilight
      • Creatures leading up to Halfus are now immune to Mind Control.
      • The Waterlogged debuff now expires appropriately after a player is hit by Flame Torrent during the Ignacious encounter.
      • Terrastra will cast Quake regardless of whether Harden Skin is interrupted or not.
      • Twilight Sentries now have less health on 10-player Heroic difficulty than on 25-player Heroic difficulty.
      • Sinestra
        • Twilight Whelps are now immune to snares.
        • The spawn rate of Twilight Spitecallers has been slightly reduced on 25-player Heroic difficulty.
        • A death knight's diseases will no longer trigger the Twilight Spitecallers' Indomitable enrage.
        • It is no longer possible to target or attack a Twilight Spitecaller before it has entered the combat area.
        • Flame patches should properly spawn in front of the Twilight Eggs.
    • Blackwing Descent
      • The achievement criteria for Silence is Golden is now properly reset when entering combat with Atramedes.
      • Atramedes's health on Heroic difficulty has been reduced slightly.
      • Maloriak will no longer be interrupted while casting Release All Minions.
      • Maloriak's enrage timer was inconsistent between difficulties and has been updated. It is now 7 minutes for normal difficulty and 12 minutes for Heroic difficulty.
    • Deadmines
      • Glubtok's Fire and Frost Blossoms summoned during the encounter no longer grant experience or reputation.
    • Throne of the Four Winds
      • Al'Akir's Lightning Strike damage has been reduced on 25-player Heroic difficulty. In addition, its effect duration has been reduced to 16 seconds, down from 24 in both modes and difficulties.
      • Slipstreams can no longer be used during the Al'Akir encounter.
      • It is no longer possible to swap raid difficulty before the Conclave of Wind has fully respawned.
      • Gather Strength cast by Rohash is no longer affected by spell slowing effects, such as Curse of Tongues and Slow.
    • The Vortex Pinnacle
      • Bosses will no longer respawn after a soft reset if players already have a Heroic save.
  • Items
    • Heroic set tokens have been moved to earlier bosses on 25-player Heroic difficulty (chest from Halfus, legs from Maloriak, gloves from Magmaw, helm from Nefarian, shoulder from Cho'gall).
    • Tokens for normal versions of the helm and shoulder set pieces (item level 359) now drop from Nefarian and Cho'gall on Heroic difficulty, as they are required to purchase the Heroic helm and shoulder pieces (item level 372). An additional change to this functionality is slated for patch 4.0.6.
    • Normal and Heroic versions of Earthen Handguards now have more Strength.
    • Normal and Heroic versions of Fall of Mortality can now proc the Grounded Soul effect correctly via heal-over-time spells.
  • Lunar Festival
    • Elder Rumblerock is now available during the quest "Assault on Dreadmaul Rock" for both the Horde and the Alliance.
    • Horde players now correctly gain 75 Bilgewater reputation as well when completing the Lunar Festival elder quests as part of the Horde reputation gain.
  • Professions
    • The Stamina bonus from the Flask of Battle is the same as the Flask of Steelskin. Both are correctly giving 120 Stamina for alchemists who know the recipe.
    • Archaeology projects Twisted Ammonite Shells, Druid and Priest Statue Sets, Fierce Wolf Figurines, and Spidery Sundails now guarantee skill-ups all the way to 525.
    • Toughened Flesh now drops more frequently from associated creatures.
    • Making Kungaloosh no longer counts toward the guild achievement Set the Oven to Cataclysmic.
  • PvP
    • Rated Battlegrounds will no longer initiate a shutdown timer due to too few players being present.


source




 
101.Totem Talk: Healing The Stonecore for restoration shaman
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement and restoration shaman. Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration, brought to you by Joe Perez (otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and co-host of the Raid Warning podcast), shows you how.

For the last couple weeks, we've covered some of the concerns of shaman in our Q&A, discussed our new healing spell casting animations and even had a lengthy discussion of the future changes to our healing ability in the upcoming patch. The last one caused quite a lengthy discussion on how those changes will really affect us. I'm hoping we get to have more of those discussions, because it was awesome to hear all of your opinions on the topics. For anyone who emailed me over the last few weeks, rest assured that I will reply to you. There's just been quite a bit to answer.

With all the talks of the future and the changes right around the corner for patch 4.0.6, our attention has sort of drifted a little bit away from the here and now. There is still content to devour now, and you aren't exactly going to wait for the patch to do it now, are you? There are still heroics to conquer and raids to prepare for, so today we're going to start right back in where we left off and talk about healing through The Stonecore.


Located above the Temple of Earth in Deepholm, The Stonecore was once holy ground for those that dwelled in the plane of earth. Now, though, it has been taken over almost completely by the Twilight Hammer cult. As heroes, it is our job to clear out this infestation from the heart of the plane and restore balance. What awaits you inside, however, may shock and appall you. The Stonecore is an instance most players will experience around level 83. It offers fun mechanics and good boss fights to heal through, as well as some pretty good healing loot.

Corborus

Corborus is a rather large gyreworm who robs us of a much-deserved moment of retribution against the once-illustrious Millhouse Manastorm. After destroying the diminutive despot, the worm takes an interest in the new party of heroes as lunch. Overall, Corborus is a pretty easy fight on both normal and heroic mode and shouldn't be too bad for you to heal through. The fight really only has a couple of things to watch out for in both phases.

Dampening Wave will deal shadow damage to anyone close enough to the boss, but the main problem is that it will cause a debuff that will absorb 4,000 healing on normal and 15,000 healing on heroic. This only increases as you gain stacks of the debuff, making your job as a healer much harder. Make liberal use of Cleanse Spirit to remove the debuff as it is a magical effect, and hopefully you have some points in Cleansing Waters to make use of the free heal you get from the dispel.

Crystal Barrage targets a random member of your group dealing damage to the target and everyone withing 5 yards of the target. Make sure to get your rear out of there ASAP. In heroic mode, the shards left behind by the attack spawn adds if not DPSed down fast enough. It is likely you'll get some snap healing aggro, so be prepared to run them over to the tank so he can pick them up and you can keep healing.

In the second phase, Corborus will burrow into the ground and will summon a series of adds. While the adds themselves don't have much health, try to keep them near the tank if you can so that you aren't trying to heal through a constant barrage of damage and pushback. The giant worm will also cause a cloud of dust indicating where it will do its impression of Shamu. Make sure you're avoiding standing in the path of the cloud so you don't die. This phase will have you moving around quite a bit, so it's a great chance to make use of Spiritwalker's Grace.

Sadly, this boss does not drop any restoration shaman loot.

In patch 4.0.6, there will be a slight increase in the warning time in phase 2 when Corborus leaps out of the ground, and the spots from which the adds spawn in phase 2 will be much easier to spot.

Slabhide

This stone dragon awaits you very shortly after Corborus. He's pretty easy to heal through but still has a few things you should look out for. Like Corborus, this fight is divided into two phases.

Sand Blast will deal massive amounts of damage to anyone in front of the boss. When the dragon uses this ability, be ready to move out of the breath path and drop a few bigger heals on the tank as necessary.

Also in this phase, he will summon pools of lava beneath the feet of a random player. Watch for this, as you will certainly want to move out of the fire as soon as you see it.

In phase 2, Slabhide will take to the air collapsing the ceiling. This causes stalactites to rain down on the party. While players should be avoiding the patches of the ground marked with a dark circle, you need to be aware of where they are in relation to the rest of the party. These stalactites persist back into phase 1 and act as line-of-sight blocks. You will need to move accordingly. A little trick I've been using to get around the LoS block is to cast Healing Rain on a spot on the ground near where the tank will be. This will allow the spell to heal the tank long enough for you to move into position for more direct healing.

On heroic, the boss will occasionally cast Crystal Storm. This spell deals a lot of AoE damage every 0.5 seconds for 6 seconds. You can avoid this damage by hiding behind a stalactite from phase 2. You can use the method above for dealing with LoS with HR, but you can also use Chain Heal to bend healing around the stalactites as it moves from player to player.

In patch 4.0.6, the ground phase of the fight will last longer and will have fewer stalactites for players to deal with.

Defeating the boss gives you a change to earn a Rose Quartz Band (normal/heroic), and if you're super-lucky, you might walk away with a new mount.

Ozruk

Ozruk is a pretty standard fight as far as healing goes, at least in normal mode. There are a few things you need to be aware of, but for the most part, you'll just have to roll your heals through the group as necessary.

Shatter will cause a row of ground spikes to flow from the boss. If you see the dust markings on the ground, you should run out of their path.

Elementium Spike Shield will cause any melee attacks made against the boss to result in a stacking bleed effect that will whittle away at melee attackers' health. If you see any melee players get the debuff, you'll need to make sure to give them a little special attention for the duration of the bleed.

Elementium Bulwark has a chance on normal to reflect any spells cast against him back at the caster. This changes to a 100% chance in heroic mode. Just be aware of this, in case casters need a little help. In heroic mode, I highly suggest throwing a Flame Shock on the boss and letting the effect tick on you. Also, in heroic mode, be sure not to dispel any magical DoTs on your party. This is because of the next ability you will see on heroic.

Ozruk will occasionally cast Paralyze, which will lock you in place. It will, however, break if you take any damage. This is why it is important to let any damage effects tick on you and your party before dispelling them, so Paralyze will break. If the spell is allowed to run its full timer, it will explode the target, dealing massive arcane damage.

The boss also has an Enrage, so be aware of that and really pour on the healing when you see the notification.

In patch 4.0.6 Ozruk will do more damage in melee, but will also have a ground visual to show how far away you need to be from him for shatter.

The stone giant's defeat has a change to earn you Tendrils of the Burrowing Dark (normal/heroic).

High Priestess Azil

The final boss of the zone has two phases, a boss phase and an add phase. While it's not too bad of a fight from a healing standpoint, there is quite a bit going on.

Curse of Blood should be removed immediately. Any target affected by it will cause the physical damage taken to be increased quite a bit. While the boss doesn't hit particularly hard, any adds left over from the add phase who gang up on a player with the curse can cause massive amounts of damage and will likely kill their target.

Watch out for Force Grip, as players targeted by it will be dealt damage that is unmitigated by armor. This will likely happen to the tank multiple times, so just be prepared for it.

The boss will occasionally cast Gravity Well, which creates a void zone on the ground. If you find yourself close to the void zone, you will get pulled in toward the center of the void. The closer players are to the center, the more damage they will take. The good news is that the adds the boss summons can also be sucked in. As the healer, you'll likely have snap aggro, so try to position one of these between you and the adds to make quick work of them.

In the second phase, gravity wells will remain active, the boss will float back to her platform, and packs of non-elite mobs will be summoned to aid their master. The boss won't rely solely on her lackeys, though; she'll throw Seismic Shards at random players in the group. Watch for the dust clouds, and avoid standing in them.

Heal normally here, but since there is a lot of movement, make use of well-placed Healing Rain and Healing Stream Totem, and make liberal use of Spiritwalker's Grace.

Not much changes between normal mode and heroic mode, but everything hits much harder. The good news is this boss has quite a few pieces of restoration shaman-friendly loot.

In patch 4.0.6 she will be quite a bit bigger, gravity wells will kill the adds faster, force grip will get a bit of cast time increase and you'll get more warning for the area targeted by seismic shard.

Book of Dark Prophecies (normal/heroic) is a great relic, packing haste and spirit. Prophet's Scepter (normal/heroic) is a good pickup if you are still lacking a shield or other off-hand. Cowl of the Unseen World (normal/heroic) is a casting shaman's helm that will hold you over for a while. Tear of Blood (normal/heroic) gives you a good amount of int and a healthy dose of spirit when it procs.

The Stonecore is a fun instance to heal, without being too easy or too hard. It definitely lives up to the Deepholm theme. Have fun with it, and hopefully you'll get some good loot for all your hard work!

 
102.The system is in maintainence

We are sorry for the inconvience caused to you,my dear customers. Our system is in maintainence. It will be ok in few hrs. Plz contact with us few hrs later.

 
103.World of Warcraft News - New Ironforge & Undercity Coffee Tankards

The people over at Taverncraft have announced the release of two new World of Warcraft themed Coffee Tankards available at their website for $19.99 a piece (plus S&H). Check it out!

Raid your home or office with two new World of Warcraft stoneware coffee tankards now available at www.taverncraft.com! The Ironforge tankard captures the cavernous city of the Alliance's dwarven domain while the Undercity tankard features a panoramic scene of the Horde's capital of the undead. Each microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe tankard is hand casted from fine grain stoneware and holds a hefty 18 oz. (.53 ltrs.) of your favorite hot or cold beverage. Only $19.99 apiece (plus shipping/handling), the tankards feature custom bodies that emulate the robust look and feel of Azeroth and are the perfect companion to the best selling Stormwind & Orgrimmar tankards. So warm up your winter with the World of Warcraft coffee tankards available at www.taverncraft.com.

Check them out and order one here.

 
104.Know Your Lore: Uldaman, Ulduar, and Uldum, strongholds of the Titans
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

In the beginning, Azeroth existed as a simple planet floating in the midst of space (or the great dark beyond, as it's sometimes called). There is very little out there in terms of the history of Azeroth's creation, but what little we do know is this: Azeroth attracted the attention of creatures called Titans, godlike beings that traveled from world to world, creating order from chaos and leaving planets teeming with life. The Titans did to Azeroth as they did to countless other worlds before: They created seed races to inhabit the little planet, encouraging life to grow. Along with the seed races, they created the earthen -- stone beings that were meant to maintain the order the Titans had cultivated. Satisfied with their work, the Titans left.

It was some time after the Titan's departure that disaster struck. The little planet caught the eye of malevolent creatures known as Old Gods. The Old Gods strive for chaos and destruction, the exact opposite of everything the Titans create. Azeroth, still new to the universe, crumpled under the assault. However, the Titan-created earthen presented a problem that required a creative solution. The Old Gods, seeing that these creatures were made of rock and stone, released a disease called the Curse of Flesh -- the originator of many of the species that roam Azeroth today.

The Curse of Flesh turned the creations of the Titans from hardened rock to flesh. Why did the Old Gods do this, exactly? Because the way the Old Gods worked was insidious -- they'd whisper into the minds of simple creatures, convincing them to attack and destroy each other and thus cultivating the chaos they craved. As creatures of stone, the earthen were unable to be affected ... but as flesh, with fleshy brains, they were just as susceptible as any native creature on Azeroth.

War of the Titans

Somewhere along the line, the Titans returned to Azeroth, horrified at what they found. Their creations had been corrupted; the little planet that they had so carefully cultivated was turning upon itself, and all due to the Old Gods who had decided, for some reason, to call Azeroth home. The Titans immediately set to work battling the Old Gods in the largest, most horrific war the fledgling planet had ever seen. First, the Titans struck down the Elemental Lords that served as lieutenants of the Old Gods and imprisoned them within the elemental planes; then the Titans moved on to the Old Gods themselves.

But they soon discovered the situation was even worse than they'd thought. By releasing the Curse of Flesh, the Old Gods had entwined themselves with Azeroth so completely that the two were bound together. If the Titans destroyed the Old Gods, they'd destroy the little planet as well. Unwilling to destroy their creations, the Titans instead chose to lock the Old Gods away, deep below the earth, and put into place several safeguards to insure the Old Gods would never escape.

They created new earthen that would prove to be immune to the effects of the Curse of Flesh, and Titanic Watchers to keep an eye on the world. They appointed Aspects, dragons imbued with the powers of the Titans themselves, to watch over the living creatures of Azeroth. And they created strongholds to house the watchers and act as a failsafe should the Old Gods prove to be too strong to be contained. These strongholds were scattered all over the world -- Uldaman, Ulduar, and Uldum.

Ulduar

Ulduar was the home of the most important Watchers, and it was here where the failsafe was brought into play. In the event that something went wrong -- if there was even an inkling of an Old God's return, the failsafe would kick in. If anything happened to the Titanic Watchers, a signal would be sent to the Titans, and an observer would be sent to analyze any potential corruption on the planet. If any corruption were detected, a reply code would be sent to the Titans -- a signal that would request the re-origination of Azeroth. The world would be reduced to its primary elements -- metals, rocks, gases -- and then rebuilt from scratch.

During the course of Wrath of the Lich King, players saw this occur first hand. Defeating Loken at the end of Halls of Lightning triggered the signal and Algalon's arrival. In order to prevent the destruction of Azeroth, players had to defeat Algalon and prevent him from sending the reply code that would wipe out all life as we know it. The titanic stronghold of Ulduar wasn't just a home to the Watchers and a prison to an Old God; it was the point on the planet where all analysis of Old God activity was carefully monitored.

Uldaman

Uldaman, on the other hand, wasn't really a home or a prison -- it was the storehouse for all history surrounding Azeroth's creation and development. The dwarves discovered the origins of their species there, as well as the first hints of the existence of the "matrix destabilization" that led to their existence, although it wasn't given a name at the time. It wasn't until later that the term Curse of Flesh was used.

Uldaman housed a stone watcher named the Lore Keeper of Norgannon -- designated as such by the Titan Norgannon, who was both the master of the arcane and the master of secrets and mysteries. Norgannon was also responsible for the creation of Malygos, Aspect of Magic -- but in Uldaman, it appears that what Norgannon was really up to was storing the mysteries and secrets of Azeroth away and keeping them safe from harm. There are other creations of Norgannon scattered across Azeroth, and each stores information only accessible by discs or plates.

Acutely aware of the amount of information being stored in Uldaman, the Titans designated a watcher for this stronghold as well -- Archaedas. Archaedas' job was much more simple than the Watchers in Ulduar. All he had to do was keep the discs of recorded history safe and prevent anyone from accessing the discs without permission. However, failure to do so did not send a signal to the Titans, for some reason. Perhaps the Titans knew that the Old Gods had little use for Azeroth's history, and thus the discovery of the discs wouldn't really indicate an Old God problem.

Uldum

That leaves Uldum. Uldum was an unsolved mystery for the longest time. Referenced only as a research facility for the Titans, access to Uldum was limited to those that carried the Plates of Uldum, artifacts that to this day have never been found. After delving into the secrets of Uldaman, explorers found reference to this mysterious Titan stronghold. Though the depths of Uldum weren't reachable, another watcher of Norgannon was stationed outside with information regarding the purpose of Uldum and the ability to access the facility if the correct artifacts were presented.
Salutations. I am a guardian of entry. Unless you have the Plates of Uldum already integrated with your disk set, I will not allow for entry into the Uldum compound.
What function do you serve?
My purpose is to regulate access to the Uldum complex for the Creators. I allow entry into the compound only when the solicitor exhibits for access the proper sequencing discs.
Your disc set currently does not contain the Plates of Uldum, the primary prerequisite for entry. Access is not granted unless the Plates of Uldum are present.
What are the Plates of Uldum?
The Plates of Uldum are discs synthesized by the Creators that allow access into the Uldum compound. These discs house and store specific data related to the Creators' activities here.
Physically, they are nearly identical in circumference to the disc set you currently possess. Their markings, however, are directly related to information on Uldum as opposed to the Uldaman complex.
Where are the Plates of Uldum?
Several sets of the Plates of Uldum have been synthesized by the Creators for their expressed use. The Creators control the distribution of said discs for all complexes on this world. As such, Azeroth has been rescheduled for visitation, and therefore future discs may enter circulation at that time.
Existing discs have been fully distributed to those parties with appropriate security clearance.
Excuse me? We've been "rescheduled for visitation"? What does that mean?!
The Creators use visitation as a means to reestablish control over seeded worlds when forces, both external and internal, upset the matrix dynamics associated with it. Such tactics are not to be taken lightly when executed by the Creators.
For additional information on this world's scheduled visitation, please consult the appropriate data repository that fields all Creator-relatee scheduling considerations.
So... what's inside Uldum?
Uldum is a research facility for the Creators in their continuing efforts to enhance the biosphere of Azeroth. Specific information regarding their work as it relates to Uldum is restricted to those individuals who possess the Plates of Uldum in their disc sets.
Data repositories inside the Uldum complex have been programmed to address specific experiments and data compliations: please refer to them for detailed information.
After providing all the information it could without proper clearance, the Stone Watcher would then shut down, waiting for the day that someone returned with the plates. However, the implications were fascinating: Where Uldaman was a storage facility for information and history, Uldum was essentially the playground of the Titans. It wasn't just a playground -- it was possibly the place where all of the Titans' creations were actually generated.

The most puzzling aspect of this, however, is the reference to "visitation." At first, it seemed to be an innocent enough idea; the Titans would return at some point just to check in and say hello, make sure the planet was still running smoothly, maybe make a few more creations, and then pop back out again after they were satisfied with their work. No big deal, right?

Wrong. In Ulduar, it is pretty much said flat out that if the Titans were to return, it would be to re-originate the planet. Uldum isn't just the birthplace of creation -- it holds the end of creation, and the end of existence, as we know it. One location in Uldum is called The Halls of Origination -- something that sounds like the birthplace of life, but in reality it holds the key to Azeroth's re-origination. In other words, a reply code sent by Algalon that indicated the world was corrupt would herald the return of the Titans to Uldum.

Once there, they would activate the re-origination device and wipe all life from the planet.

Are we pawns or prey?

In Cataclysm, Deathwing has sent emissaries from the Black Dragonflight in search of an artifact called the Coffer of Promise. This artifact holds the discs that are the key to the re-origination device. Why, exactly, Deathwing is planning to re-originate the planet is unclear -- and it's something that raised more than a few questions in my mind.

Deathwing is supposedly serving the Old Gods -- but the re-origination device is there in order to destroy the planet and start it from scratch. Using the device would not only eradicate all life, but it would destroy Deathwing and the Old Gods he serves as well. So there's one big question left after pondering all of this: Was Deathwing actually intending to use the device at all, or were his activities in Ulduar and attempts to obtain the discs merely a ploy to get Brann Bronzebeard and company into the Halls of Origination to permanently disable the device?

Without that device, the failsafe that was supposed to keep the Old Gods in check is no more. The Old Gods and Deathwing are now free to wreak as much havoc as they'd like on Azeroth, with no threat of Titan interference. Unless, of course, the Titans were already planning to come back for a visit. According to the Stone Watcher of Norgannon, Azeroth has been "rescheduled for visitation." Consider the obelisks in Uldum, activated one by one as players go through the zone. They bear a startling resemblance to the reply code sent from Dalaran after players successfully defeat Algalon. Could these obelisks be the trigger to the Titan's return?

If this is the case, it means we very well may see a return of the Titans sometime in the future. The Old Gods' hold over Azeroth has tightened over the last few years and appears to be growing stronger than mere heroes and mortals can overcome. Let's hope that visitation was rescheduled for sooner than later -- and that we'll set eyes on the Titans some time this expansion.

For more information on related subjects, please look at these other Know Your Lore entries:
  • The Eternals: the Titans
  • The Old Gods
  • Gnome priests and the failure of the flesh
  • Yogg Sargon
  • Taking flight with the Wildhammer

 
105.Cataclysm hotfixes for Jan. 18

 

What with all the buzz about the PTR and the upcoming patch, it's been a while since we've seen some good old fashioned hotfixes. Fear not, for blue poster Zarhym has posted with some new goodies for us all. Today's list of hotfixes seems to run the gamut from class tweaks to quests, but there's a few notable changes for raids and dungeons:
  • In Blackwing Descent, Atramedes will no longer despawn when his tail passes through the area trigger in the entrance to his room. He will no longer despawn randomly during the fight. Pulling him out of his room will now cause him to reset.
  • Also from Blackwing Descent, the damage of Chimaeron's Caustic Slime has been reduced for both raid sizes and dungeon difficulties.
  • Over in Tol Barad, "The Leftovers", "Swamp Bait" and "A Huge Problim" can now be shared between members of the Alliance. In addition, these quests now award the correct amount of gold and faction for the Horde and Alliance as well.
Follow us after the break for the full list of hotfixes.



Zarhym
  • General
    • Broiled Dragon Feast is correctly being tracked by the guild achievement, Set the Oven to "Cataclysmic".
    • The guild achievement Lower Blackrock Spire Guild Run can now only be earned in a group of at least 4 players from the same guild in a 5-player party.
    • The achievement Sunwell Plateau Guild Run now requires a guild group to complete. This achievement can no longer be completed without the requirement of having 75% of the raid be guild members.
    • Guild experience daily resets should no longer sometimes fail to occur.
  • Classes
    • Death Knights
      • Necrotic Strike is now affected by resilience.
    • Druids
      • Druids previously unable to learn Nature's Grasp will be able to learn that spell now.
      • Rejuvenation now consumes 16% of base mana, down from 26%, but still requires 26% of base mana in order to be cast.
    • Mages
      • Rank 1 of Pyromaniac no longer improperly gives 5% passive haste.
      • The mana costs of the following mage spells have been reduced, but they still require the previous percentage of base mana in order to be cast: Arcane Barrage (11% of base mana), Arcane Blast (7% of base mana), and Fireball (12% of base mana). As an example, Fireball requires 16% base mana to cast, but only consumes 12% of base mana.
    • Priests
      • Sin and Punishment is now properly causing its terror affect when dispelled. In addition, it no longer shares diminishing returns with fear effects. It now shares diminishing returns with horrify effects.
      • Priests who were unable to learn Holy Nova will now be able to train the spell.
    • Warlocks
      • While Nightfall is active, Doomguards will not instantly cast Doom Bolt.
    • Warriors
      • A bug has been fixed where the Shield Block ability granted 25% more critical block chance than was intended for Protection warriors with very high total chance to avoid attacks.
  • Dungeons & Raids
    • It should no longer be possible for players to inadvertently be locked out of killing a raid boss depending on whether or not they were online when the boss was killed.
    • The battle resurrection counter will now correctly reset if players are not inside the dungeon when an encounter resets.
    • The Bastion of Twilight
      • The hotfix on January 5 to increase the damage of Liquid Ice during phase 3 of the Ascendant Council fight has been reverted. Due to a separate bug with the size of the Elementium Monstrosity's hitbox, it is often impossible for melee classes to avoid damage from this ability. This issue is slated to be addressed in patch 4.0.6 so that Liquid Ice damage can again be increased.
      • Many adjustments to the behavior of various mechanics in the Sinestra encounter have been made.
      • Fester Blood now hits everyone in the room instead of having a 20-yard radius on Heroic difficulty during the Cho'gall encounter. No more kiting he who has too many eyeballs.
      • Valiona's Blackout can no longer be absorbed by Grounding Totem or reflected. Its healing absorption effect has also been increased for 10-player normal difficulty.
    • Blackwing Descent
      • Atramedes will now reset if the players targeted by Sonic Breath or Obnoxious Fiends attempt to leave the room.
      • Zoning into the dungeon after a soft reset now causes all Atramedes-related objects and creatures to reset completely. The introduction event will replay once the dwarves have been cleared. Entering combat with Atramedes forces the gongs to become usable and the fight will function normally from this point.
      • Atramedes will no longer despawn when his tail passes through the area trigger in the entrance to his room. He will no longer despawn randomly during the fight. Pulling him out of his room will now cause him to reset.
      • The damage of Chimaeron's Caustic Slime has been reduced for both raid sizes and dungeon difficulties.
      • Chimaeron will not cast Caustic Slime on Feral tanks in Bear Form unless there aren't enough non-tank specialized targets available. This fix applies to Magmaw's targeting functionality as well.
      • Rip and Bane of Doom damage is no longer affected by the damage increase of Stolen Power when engaging Nefarian.
      • Abberrations spawned during the Maloriak encounter were displaying inappropriately high health values on Heroic difficulty. This has been corrected.
  • Items
    • Bloodthirsty Gladiator's Badge of Dominance and Vicious Gladiator's Insignia of Dominance on-use effects now properly modify healing done.
    • Darkmoon Card: Volcano now triggers from periodic damage.
    • Divine Shield and Blessing of Protection no longer remove the Blind Spot debuff from the normal and Heroic versions of the Jar of Ancient Remedies. When targeting an ally at very close range (2-3 yards) when using this item, it will still energize them instead of the user. This will be fixed in an upcoming patch.
    • Free Action Potions now cannot be used above level 80.
  • Professions
    • Archaeology keystone fragments can no longer be prospected.
    • Lifebound Alchemist Stones can no longer be disenchanted.
  • PvP
    • Arenas
      • Ring of Valor has been temporarily disabled until select bugs can be fixed in an upcoming patch.
    • Battlegrounds
      • Teams who are in the rated Battleground queue and have a member disconnect are now removed from the queue after 10 minutes if the player does not come back. The team is still at the top of the queue if the player comes back and the Battleground will pop almost instantly.
      • Battleground ratings, wins, and losses should now always update after every game when playing in rated Battlegrounds. Certain conditions were not causing this to happen previously.
      • Players who do not show up to a Rated Battleground, either by leaving the queue or letting the Battleground queue time out, are not being credited for a win.
      • Players who are removed from a Battleground when it closes due to a lack of players will not receive the Deserter debuff.
      • Players are again able to queue for more than one Battleground at a time without issue.
  • Quests & Creatures
    • Darnassus
      • Worgen character hearthstone location is now set to the Craftsmen's Terrace in Darnassus upon completing the quest "Ruh'theran Village".
    • Deepholm
      • Fungalmancer Glop no longer grants experience and now rewards quest kill credit to all players who have damaged him.
    • Tol Barad Peninsula
      • Players will receive quest credit for killing any quest boss, regardless of party status, so long as they participate in killing these bosses.
      • Problim can now be seen from a much larger distance.
      • Cell Watchers in D-Block are no longer incorrectly tagged as elite.
      • "The Leftovers", "Swamp Bait" and "A Huge Problim" can now be shared between members of the Alliance. In addition, these quests now award the correct amount of gold and faction for the Horde and Alliance as well.
      • Darkwood Broodmothers no longer flee at 25% and periodically inflict targets with Reckless Toxin instead.
      • Hungry Ghouls and Skeletal Beastmasters now drop the Cursed Femur quest item when on the quest "Salvaging the Remains", and the tooltip also indicates these creatures drop the quest item.
      • Restless Infantry and Restless Soldiers now spawn more quickly.
    • Twilight Highlands
      • If reinforcements are not called after 60 seconds, Skullcrusher will now despawn. When reinforcements are called, Skullcrusher no longer improperly despawns.
    • Uldum
      • Titanic Guardian's Burning Gaze ability should no longer put everyone in the zone in combat.


source

 
106.Spiritual Guidance: Patch 4.0.6 for discipline and holy priests

 


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen dabbles in shadow and attacks hunters. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

I could have sworn the expansion only just came out, but despite the newness of it all, there already appears to be a major patch on the way. Before you get excited, though, patch 4.0.6 won't be bringing anything too new -- it's a patch aimed at balancing a lot of little things about the game. Priests in particularly are getting a lot of tweaks, and with each passing day, the pile of changes we can look forward to in the next patch grows a little bigger. Before it becomes too much to keep up with, let's take a look at it all and examine what everything means for holy and discipline priests.

You'll quickly see from the numerous bullet points below that there are a lot of changes. Since the gravity of each change varies quite a bit, I thought I'd divide everything up into three categories, so you can better process the information. The categories will be small changes, PvP changes, and big changes. Small changes are tiny tweaks that won't change the way you play, gear, or spec too much. PvP changes are adjustments aimed at PvPing priests that won't usually impact PvE but could possibly come in handy during certain PvE situations. Finally, big changes will affect gameplay or talent selection.

This patch note analysis is up to date as of Jan. 16, 2011.

Small changes
  • The duration of Levitate is being increased to 10 minutes from 2. Not game-breaking and not too much more useful for combat scenarios, since the spell will continue to break on taking damage. Ideal for doing your fishing daily!
  • The mana cost of our buffs (Power Word: Fortitude and Shadow Protection) is being brought in line with Mark of the Wild to balance the cost of in-combat buffing. Apparently, the cost of druid buffs were about right. Now if we could just get the developers to balance Divine Hymn to a feral druid's Tranquility, we'd be set ...
  • Desperate Prayer now heals the priest for 30% of his or her total health, up from the previous flat value. Anyone already using this talent will see a big improvement in the amount of healing it does. People who don't see the value of self-healing will probably continue to feel that way but should keep in mind that Desperate Prayer is instant-cast and very mana-efficient.
  • Serendipity now has visual and audio alerts for priests using the built-in UI, much like Chakra and Archangel have.
  • The tooltip for Rapture has been adjusted to reflect a change that was hotfixed. The tooltip will now correctly read that it energizes you with 2/4/6% instead of 1.5/2/2.5%.
  • The tooltip for Atonement has also been adjusted to reflect a change that was hotfixed. The tooltip will now correctly read that Atonement affects a friendly party or raid target within 15 yards instead of 8 yards.

PvP-oriented changes
  • Pain Suppression cannot be dispelled anymore, and it will no longer grant its target increased resistance to dispel mechanics.
  • Blessed Resilience has had the healing buff on it increased to 15/30%, up from 5/10%. It will also now proc when the priest is critically hit.
  • Focused Will has had the damage reduction buff on it increased to 5/10%, up from 4/6%. It will also now proc when the priest is critically hit.
  • The cooldown of Holy Word: Chastise has been raised to 30 seconds, up from 25. It has also been debugged.
  • The health of Lightwell has been increased by 50%. Apparently too many other players were picking on the poor dear.
  • Glyph of Pain Suppression is being turned into Glyph of Desperation, which will extend the current effect of the glyph to Guardian Spirit. This means you'll be able to use Guardian Spirit while stunned.
  • The talent Strength of Soul will now cause priests to be temporarily immune to silences, interrupts, and dispels for 2/4 seconds after using Inner Focus.

Big changes
  • The mana cost of Power Word: Shield has been increased by approximately 31% but its effect has been increased by 208%. This change is great for disc priests, who were already using their shields less anyway. The buff will really help our output while the mana cost will continue to penalize players trying to shield spam. The question is, will Soul Warding still be viable? Time will tell.
  • The mana cost of Penance has been increased, too -- this time by 7%, while healing is increased by 20%. This buff enforces that Penance is a cooldown ability (which should make it a valuable part of our toolbox) while still keeping true to the mana model Blizzard is trying to maintain.
  • Renew now costs 17% of base mana, down from 21% of base mana -- a good change for holy priests that should make Renew a bit more valuable without making it spammable.
  • Holy Concentration is being scaled back from granting 20/40% addition mana regeneration in combat to 15/30%. This is a much-needed nerf, considering how overpowered holy priests are right now when it comes to mana. Being overpowered was fun while it lasted!
  • The Glyph of Spirit of Redemption is going away and being replaced with Glyph of Prayer of Mending. This new glyph increases the healing done by the first charge of Prayer of Mending by 60%. This is great for disc and holy priests who had lackluster choices for our major (middle tier) glyphs.
  • Surge of Light will be able to proc from Flash Heal and Greater Heal, giving holy and disc priests huge incentive to take the talent. Flash Heals that consume the Surge of Light buff will also be able to crit now.
  • Grace can finally be active on multiple targets at a time. This is a huge win for disc priests, who have long argued that Grace was a clunky mechanic. Keeping Grace on multiple targets means it will be easier for disc priests to keep multiple targets alive, since we won't have to stack Grace from nothing each time we switch a target. When paired with group healing spells like Prayer of Healing or Binding Heal, Grace might be something you want to start keeping track of on your raid frame like Weakened Soul.
  • The talent Strength of Soul will now allow Greater Heal and Flash Heal to reduce the duration of Weakened Soul. Previously only Heal triggered this effect. This, in addition to the Power Word: Shield changes, will give discipline priests a lot of incentive to take Strength of Soul.
  • The effectiveness of Prayer of Healing has been reduced by 15% -- not too surprising, since the spell is currently very overpowered, especially for holy priests under the effects of Chakra: Sanctuary. The patch notes also imply disc priests will be getting a slight buff by getting bonus absorption from Divine Aegis for any critical heals Prayer of Healing does, but this sounds more like debugging.
  • To ease the blow holy priests are taking from the Prayer of Healing nerf, we'll be getting a buff to Circle of Healing in the form of 30% increased effectiveness.
  • There is also a change being made to Guardian Spirit which I need to get more clarification on. The note reads that Guardian Spirit's absorb can no longer exceed 200% of the target's maximum health. This could be one of two things. First, it could be the fine print for the hotfixes from Jan. 6, 2010 which adjusted the cap of Guardian Spirit for level 85. It could also be Blizzard's way of countering the use of Guardian Spirit for abilities that players shouldn't be able to Guardian Spirit their way out of. I'll see if I can find the answer soon.
  • Chakra states will now last 1 minute, up from 30 seconds. This will make it easier to use and manage Chakra. A little bird told me the talent State of Mind (which increases the duration of Chakra whenever you cast the trigger spell of your current Chakra state) is also going to get a tweak.
  • There are some other small changes to Chakra which effect how it is triggered or refreshed. For the Chakra: Chastise state, you'll now be able to trigger this state with Mind Spike in addition to Smite. For the Chakra: Serenity state, you can now trigger and refresh this state with Flash Heal, Binding Heal, and Greater Heal. Also while in this state, you will be able to refresh Renew on your targets with the spells Binding Heal and Holy Word: Serenity. These are good changes, since they allow holy priests more options on how to enter their desired state. If Heal is not the spell you need to be casting, you have some other options that are fast or large and won't make you feel like you're getting off track to get on track.
Got any extra questions about these changes? Let me know in the comments, and I'll do my best to fill you in on any details I might have missed.
 
107.The Light and How to Swing It: Fresh patch 4.0.6 PTR notes for holy paladins

 

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Every Sunday, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email me with any questions you want answered, or with any screenshots of huge LoH crits.

When Wrath was released, there were just over a dozen bosses available to fight immediately. Most of them were found in Naxxramas, which fell to the superguilds so quickly that not all of them were even level 80 yet. A few achievements like A Poke in the Eye and the first "hard mode" of Sartharion with three drakes were all that the talented raiders had to keep them company during the first few months of Northrend. By the time that Ulduar was released, nearly everyone was clamoring for new content.

Cataclysm's launch hasn't shared the same fate. With heroic raids now the de facto form of progression and miles of new non-raiding content to explore, the content available at release has definitely lasted far longer. Even the most difficult bosses are still not on farm for the big guilds. Blizzard's developers have used this opportunity to start working on the first major patch after Cataclysm's release, which is of course includes plenty of holy paladin changes to keep us on our toes.

One day they'll figure out Forbearance

How do you balance a class that has several fundamentally overpowered cooldowns? Whatever the actual solution may be, it's definitely not Forbearance. This debuff has been redesigned more times than I can count, and it seems like Blizzard's team will never be happy with the implementation.

The newest version includes a few changes based on the cooldown changes in Cataclysm. Now Lay on Hands will cause Forbearance on its target, just like Hand of Protection does today. Divine Shield will still cause Forbearance on us, but luckily the debuff now only lasts for 60 seconds. While it means that holy paladins won't be able to chain-LoH tanks, it does mean that we won't have to wait 2 minutes between using Divine Shield and LoH on ourselves.

Lay on Hands becomes predictable

Now that LoH can no longer crit or be replicated through Beacon of Light, I have to say that I'm really going to miss those features. I remember seeing some huge numbers from LoH on fights like Valithria and knowing that I could top off any player and the tank at the same time. I can understand the nerf, but it's still sad to see that critical strike rating will be falling even lower on our priority list, even if not by much. LoH is obviously still worth having on your bar, and it's by far the most reliable cooldown we have available. LoH will fix just about any tank-healing problem you run into, but only once.

The big buff to Divine Plea

While Blizzard didn't remove the 50% healing penalty from Divine Plea, just about every other part of the spell got buffed. It now restores its mana over 9 seconds instead of over 15 seconds, meaning that we're under the half-healing effect for a far shorter period of time. Not only that, Divine Plea now also restores 12% of our mana instead of the 10% it did previously. To top off these buffs, the Glyph of Divine Plea buffs it by 6% instead of 5%, meaning that our glyphed DP will restore 18% mana over 9 seconds instead of 15% over 15 seconds, making it clearly more potent and more usable. I haven't had the chance to try any heroic raid encounters, but having extra mana can never be a bad thing.

Protector of the Innocent nerfed in return

I really hate it when I share a healing strategy one week and the Blizzard devs nerf it a week later. Protector of the Innocent's potency is being cut by 30% in the patch, which will reduce its healing from the 6,000-ish range to the 4,000-ish range. The side effect is that the Beacon replication of this heal is also hit by this nerf, meaning that our overall healing done is likely to go down. It's a nerf to both our individual survivability while under fire and our raw throughput, which makes me wonder how necessary this nerf was. PotI is one of the few abilities that we have that doesn't scale with spellpower, so it's not like it was going to get any better later.

We get to punch people in the face

I can't tell you how excited I am about Rebuke being trainable by all paladins. I love being able to interrupt in dungeons, especially since it means I don't have to explain it to the death knight that doesn't have Mind Freeze bound to a key. Arcane Torrent has a massive cooldown and Hammer of Justice lost its interrupt once the new Vindication was implemented. While it can be difficult to play at melee range as a healer, I think that having an extra interrupt will make several heroic dungeons much easier. It's also nice to see holy paladins gaining some offensive utility to go with our usual defensive toolbox.
 
108.Totem Talk: Choosing your enhancement shaman's race as of 4.0.6

 


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Do your likes include bladed weapons, the elements, and fights with little to no movement or target switching? So does Josh Myers, new kid on the block and now host of Totem Talk: Enhancement!

Few things in Azeroth spawn more debate than racial choices. Some sides argue that if you don't min-max your racial choices, you're the reason your guild hasn't downed heroic Lich King, while the other side maintains that if you're playing a character for three hours a day, it should at least look appealing to you. Personally, my view is that everyone should be a tauren, but I'm an outlier in the great race debates. This issue of Totem Talk will be focusing on racials as used by enhancement shaman, using the redesigned racials in patch 4.0.6. This is purely for information purposes; I don't want anyone loading in to Azeroth feeling ashamed at their racial choice. Unless they chose male draenei.

Let's drink to the dwarves

Dwarves are known for their small stature and their ability to imbibe massive amounts of ale without alcohol poisoning. Now, for $25 or 3+ weeks /played time, you can make one of these pint-sized powerhouses of your very own. They'll slash, they'll cast, they'll stand nearly as tall as a human character's waist. And they'll bring unique new racial combinations to the fold that shaman have never had access to before.

Prior to patch 4.0.1, dwarves possessed Find Treasure, a unique ability that allowed them to locate treasure on their minimap. This racial was as useless as the white-quality items often found in said treasure chests (who keeps Ice Cold Milk in a locked chest, anyway?) and has gone the way of the dodo. In its place we have Explorer, which provides a bonus to archaeological fragments found and a faster pace of digging. Since archaeology is a secondary profession everyone can learn, provides rewards that you earn for your entire account, and is generally a pain to level, I'd rate this over the draenei's Gemcutting, a 15-point bonus to jewelcrafting.

The surly stout folk and the spacegoats

Like most other races in the game, dwarves get a passive bonus to a resistance. This Frost Resistance is situationally useful and should not really factor in on your race choices (unless your singular goal as an enhancement shaman is to hunt down and defeat every frost mage on the server -- to each his own!).

Beyond that, dwarves get 1% more chance to critically hit with guns, a racial whose usefulness is lost on 9 of 10 classes in the game. The bearded folk also receive 3 free expertise whenever wielding a mace, which is theoretically excellent. Cookie's Tenderizer's 2.8 speed makes it nearly comparable to epic off-hands to begin with, and this racial might push it over the edge. Conversely, though, the only 2.6 speed agility maces in current content are blue, meaning this racial will see less use once you start raiding. If your goal is PvP (or you have access to the agility one-handed PvP maces and no comparable PvE weapon), this racial could be a real boon. In comparison, draenei's Heroic Presence affords them 1% hit -- something that is useful in every aspect of the game. Dwarves are the lesser race here.

The last dwarven racial is Stoneform. As soon as 4.0.6 hits, this clickable ability will decrease damage taken by 10% for 8 seconds while removing all bleeds, poisons, and diseases from the player. (Stoneform is also hinted at being the reason dwarves don't suffer from alcohol poisoning despite being 4 feet tall, but they'll never tell.) Deathwing recently shattered every cleansing totem on Azeroth and exchanged our ability to dispel poisons and diseases for curses, and Stoneform helps fill in the gap left in their absence. It will be a benefit when fighting pesky rogues, death knights, and warriors. For PvE, Stoneform will be useful in situations that those debuffs are present, saving healer mana. The 10% damage reduction will provide a small benefit any time you're going to take damage, which is almost always in current content.

Gift of the Naruu, the squidface HoT clickable racial, heals for 20% of your hit points over 15 seconds. It won't save your life, but if you're sitting at 80% health and have some breathing room to heal, calling out that you're using it on Vent could save your healers a cast or two. Stoneform still wins out in 4.0.6, but the difference is much less dramatic than it was in 4.0.1 thanks to the Gift buff.

Overall, dwarves are the better Alliance-side choice for enhancement shaman who are competitive PvPers. With the ability to choose what type of weapon to wield, allowing them to benefit from their 3 expertise, and an excellent defensive cooldown in Stoneform, the Wildhammer Clan outshines the extraterrestrials in every way. However, based on the lack of one-handed maces on known loot tables and the fact that both races have useful healer mana conservation tools, draenei edge them out very slightly with a passive 1% hit in PvE. If your goal is to min-max to your fullest, draenei is likely the way to stay. If your goal is to have fun smashing boss toes in a drunken rage while rocking competitive PvP racials, go dwarf or go gnome. (I wish.)

But wait, there's Horde

On the Horde side of the game, four races can be shaman ... and only two of them are cool. Tauren, goblin, orcs, and trolls all can follow the shamanistic way . None of these races are currently on the receiving end of racial changes in 4.0.6 yet, but one can hope for the rise of tauren supremacy!

In terms of passive buffs, orcs win out for the fourth expansion in a row. Blizzard has taken pity on their low intelligence and poor fashion sense and given them two excellent passive racial abilities, Command and Axe Specialization. Command gives a 5% damage bonus to anything with a pet bar, including your trusty canine cooldown companion. Axe Specialization gives you 3 expertise for wielding an axe or a fist weapon, which are the only weapon types that drop in current raid content for enhancement shaman. You can pretty much count on always needing 451 expertise instead of 541 if you're playing an orc. For PvP, the stun-reducing racial is nice as well. It might also help on bosses who stun, like Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

Tauren instead get the ability to pick flowers super-quickly through Cultivation. If you're an herbalist who farms a lot, this racial is amazing. For any form of content that isn't agriculture, it is less amazing. Tauren also get Endurance, a slight stamina increase, and Nature Resistance. Both of these are good for PvP but have less application in PvE.

Trolls have it slightly better. Bow Specialization is weak for non-hunters, and Throwing Specialization is weak for every class in the game. Da Voodoo Shuffle is excellent for PvP but less useful in PvE, where most slows are applied in an area. Regeneration just isn't noticeable. Finally, trolls have Beast Slaying, a 5% damage bonus to beasts that is really situational -- but it's a boon to have on Chimaeron or on Beauty and her pups, as my clever commenters pointed out last week!

As for the tiny, Yoda-shaped enhancement shaman, there is only one passive racial that is useful in PvE or PvP, a 1% haste buff in Time is Money. As haste competes with critical strike for "worst secondary stat of the expansion," orc racials clearly beat goblin racials for DPS purposes. For quality of life, however, the 15 skill increase in the second-coolest profession in the game from Better Living Through Chemistry is a nice boost. Also, the lowest price on everything that goblins get is a great money-saver if you often buy things from people who don't like you. Finally, Pack Hobgoblin gives you access to your bank from anywhere in the world on a 30-minute cooldown; not a deal-breaker, but nice to have.

The great cooldown debate

In terms of clickable abilities, orcs continue to dominate through pure DPS with Blood Fury, a usable attack power boost that has the same cooldown as Feral Spirits, useful for both PvE and PvP. Taurens rock PvP with War Stomp, a 2-second, point-blank AoE stun that also provides amazing utility on heroic trash.

Goblins come in third with their 2-minute cooldown Rocket Jump/ Rocket Barrage combo. For a straight-up DPS fight, Rocket Barrage comes in useful. For any fight in which you have to move away from the boss, Rocket Jump is excellent. The lack of targeting makes it less useful for getting back on the boss after moving, though.

Trolls come in dead last, as Berserking is a DPS cooldown that uses our absolute worst stat. They're fine for PvE and second on the PvE DPS train, but the lack of utility that they offer makes them only worthwhile if you want to min-max, in which an orc would be better anyway.

In order of best sustained DPS racials, assuming optimal conditions:
  • orc
  • troll
  • draenei
  • dwarf
  • goblin
  • tauren
In order of best utility racials:
  • dwarf
  • tauren
  • goblin
  • draenei
  • troll
  • orc
In the end, orcs are the best choice for enhancement if you're absolutely focused on min-maxing your damage; just be prepared to look like a vapid oaf as a trade-off. Tauren, dwarves, and goblins are all solid PvP choices that also provide situational utility in PvE content at the cost of damage potential. Draenei and trolls both offer some increases to PvE DPS but come with faces only a mother could love.

Every race brings something to the table for enhancement, so it realistically comes down to whether you want to be a brave bovine defeating the forces of evil with an iron hoof or a holier-than-thou spaceman with an Eastern European accent. The choice is yours.

(But please, really, don't choose male draenei.)
 
109.The middle of the pack is a fine place to be
When I was a young kid, I was a ball hog. This was most often obvious when I played soccer, when I'd spend entire minutes running the ball down the field in an attempt to score when my teammates were wide open and available. Sometimes, I'd get lucky and score a goal. Most of the time, my unwillingness to pass got me blocked by half the opposing team and earned me a nice, cozy spot on the time-out bench as my coaches tried to instill some sense of being a team player into my young mind.

This seems to be a lesson a large number of us playing World of Warcraft missed from our childhood. We may not have a literal ball to hold away from our teammates as we sprint down the field, but we have Recount and our own personal DPS.

Last week, I was doing my daily ritual of browsing the official Damage Dealing forums when I came upon a thread about fury warriors. The title of the thread was clearly designed to grab attention, some title along the lines of "Fury Warriors NEED a buff NOW" or something else as startlingly original. The body of the thread was what really got to me, though. It said, paraphrased, "Fury warriors are in a bad place in terms of PvE DPS right now. We're in the middle of the pack in terms of DPS and need to be buffed to be higher."

Now, this post got one thing right. If we look at State of DPS and sort by average DPS, we do see fury warriors toward the middle of the list. They're 34 DPS away from breaking away the 19,000-20,000 mark, where the majority of middle of the pack DPS is. While they are slightly lower, they're nearly within the same range as both specs of DPS druids, enhancement shaman, and frost death knights.

What that thread got wrong is that fury warriors are badly in need of a buff. It isn't a complaint that is restricted to fury, either. A post on the shaman forums today said that enhancement was "at best middle of the pack," and the slightly better-off fire mages and shadow priests have also been quoted saying as much. (We're not going to get into the annoying hybrid vs. pure argument here; that isn't what this post is about.) There was even a post on the Damage Dealing forums recently that said the nerf to survival hunters would bring survival DPS to middle-of-the-pack levels, making the spec unplayable.

The spec you play is not what everyone plays

There are a number of reasons that having DPS in the middle of the pack isn't a bad thing. First off, there are 31 specs in the game, counting both specs of feral. With five healers and four tanks, that means there are 22 DPS specs, and everyone would like to see the DPS spec they play on the top of the totem pole. There will always be one DPS spec that is the mathematically superior spec during a given patch and one DPS spec that is the least DPS of the 22.

Blizzard's job as as the game designer is twofold. First, it needs to limit the variance between the 22 DPS specs so that the last DPS spec doesn't look pitiful next to the first. Second, it needs to introduce buffs and nerfs to the classes at both ends of the pack, so that no spec is always mathematically best or worse for extended periods of time. For evidence of this, review the most recent patch notes for survival hunter DPS nerfs in 4.0.6, and compare them to the retribution paladin buffs. Playing in the middle of the DPS pack means more stability for your spec in the long run.

Generally, Blizzard does a very good job of this. There are few specs in the game that are ever actually not viable to bring to raids in the least, and in every case in the past year and a half, those specs are specs of classes that had other raid viable options. Beast mastery hunter, frost mages, arms warriors, and subtlety rogues are all great examples of this. There are classes like the patch 3.3.6 enhancement shaman or Cataclysm retribution paladin that are clearly behind the rest of raiding DPS, but they are/were still at the point of being viable to bring to the raid for the sake of the player.

WoW as an MMORPG -- not a single-player RPG

More importantly, raiding is a team e-sport. Your job as a raider is to show up to the raid and do the best you can possibly do playing finger DDR with your DPS buttons while avoiding Shadow Traps and Sonar Pulse. Blizzard doesn't design content with the idea that every DPS is playing a survival hunter in patch 4.0.3. It designs content knowing what the DPS range for most classes is going to be, and it balances the game accordingly. Playing an enhancement shaman, a balance druid, or a fury warrior does nothing to limit your raid's ability to down bosses, which is the entire reason you're raiding. If you're playing any of the above classes or any of the classes that currently fall within the 19,000-21,000 DPS range, you don't need a buff to your DPS output to be competitive. Blizzard is nerfing the higher output specs like survival and buffing the lower output specs like elemental and retribution to be more like us middle-rangers.

We all like to top meters. I upload parses to World of Logs after every raid we do because I absolutely love seeing how I do every fight, and I find it awesome whenever I manage to be on top of a given fight. That's fine. That's normal. However, your overall raid is your primary concern. Doing the best you can possibly do and always trying to bring your A game to the raid is your concern. Raid content will be downed more easily if you focus on improving your performance in game rather than complaining to Blizzard that your class isn't the best in the game. Ultimately, we all need to leave our 12-year-old ball-hog self at the instance portal and stop trying to always be the show-off member of the raid.

I'm an enhancement shaman, and I'm totally content with being in the middle of the DPS range.
 
110.Don't panic about those WoW Magazine subscription renewal notices

 

We got some reports through Twitter and the tip line that current subscribers to the World of Warcraft Official Magazine had received notices asking them to resubscribe. Several people, especially those who ordered subscriptions and haven't yet received their four issues, took this to mean that their subscription had lapsed and that they wouldn't be receiving any more issues unless they resubscribed. This is not the case! We contacted Andy Salisbury, editor at the mag, and he had this to say:
The email is just a reminder. Those that paid for 1 and 2 year subscriptions will get their 4 and 8 issues (respectively), regardless of timing. We're not going to hold anyone's issues hostage or anything of the sort, it's just meant to let subscribers know about renewal!
So don't panic. The email was just intended as an "if you like the WoW magazine, resubscribe to it!" notice, not as a notification that you won't be getting what you paid for. Thanks to Andy for getting back to us so promptly.
 
111.The Queue: Those were $500 sunglasses

 

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Mike Sacco will be your host today.

I can't really think of any reason why you wouldn't be watching Mortal Kombat on Netflix Instant right now, like I am. Not a single one.

cjivan asked:

I've been soloing heroic UP on my hunter for the Blue Proto Drake lately, and today I noticed something odd. I got honor points for killing Skadi. Is this a bug or intended?

Your faction controlled Wintergrasp, which made bosses drop Stone Keeper's Shards back in Wrath. Since that currency no longer exists, honor points are rewarded in its place.

Doug asked:

What are the areas Bilgewater Harbor and Gallywix Pleasure Palace used for? Will they be used in future patches ??

Bilgewater Harbor is utilized as a quest hub for low-level Horde players in Azshara; the Pleasure Palace, on the other hand, isn't currently used for anything. Perhaps in a future content patch, we'll have to take down Gallywix, whose status as the goblin faction leader seems tenuous at best.

Frizzix asked:

I've read that Silithus hasn't been changed at all, except making Ahn'Qiraj its own zone. True? Why?

Definitely true. Silithus is untouched. The response from Blizzard on the beta forums was essentially "we ran out of time." Maybe we'll see an overhaul in a later patch, or at least I hope so; Silithus is so bad it's nearly unplayable compared to the rest of the game.

Noyou asked:

When you tie another person's loot roll, what determines who gets it? I have been on the losing end of more than one tied loot roll so I am extra curious.

There's a hidden internal roll to determine a tie-breaker.

Zarabeth asked:


I apologize if this has been asked before, but has it been confirmed that you do not need Alchemy to use the Vial of the Sands? There is someone on my server with that recipe and I really want it on my main (non-alchemist) but I don't want to spend all that gold if it doesn't work on her for some reason. Also, does it count towards the mount achievement? I wouldn't think so, since its a vial ... but who knows?

You don't need to be an alchemist to use the vial, and it does indeed count toward the mount achievement.

 
112.Breakfast Topic: What makes a leveling spec work for you?

 

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

This Breakfast Topic comes largely in response to this very insightful article about how rotations have changed over the ages. While reading it, I began to think about how I will pore over theorycrafting sites to find the optimal DPS rotation, healing build, or tanking strategy. But I only do this for my max-level characters. While I'm leveling, it's pretty much happy-go-lucky. I'll occasionally look up what spec might be best for leveling, but sometimes I don't care about optimal leveling. I just want to have fun and mess around with the character and how to play it.

For example, everyone always said that combat is the best leveling spec for a rogue. I however, loved assassination, so that's what I stuck with. I tried out combat, but I hated it. No stealth? Swords or maces, not daggers? That's not a rogue, that's a weak warrior! Same with my warlock; affliction is supposed to be best, but to me, warlocks are all about demon summoning, so I went with demonology. It just made sense.

Of course, when I hit the level cap and start doing raids, that's when I'll delve into what are the optimal rotations, enchants, gems, itemization, etc. That stuff matters at that point. But leveling for me is all about having fun and learning your class. Leveling is a long and tough process; it doesn't make any sense not to enjoy it as much as you can.

How do you like to level? Do you play it fast and loose with your talents, or do you carefully consider where each precious point goes?
 
113.Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Cataclysm mages

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Except last week, when the holidays aggroed us. But rest easy, we managed to sheep the holidays, so now we can all go ahead and nuke down the rest of the year. As long as nobody breaks it early, our sheep shouldn't expire on the holidays for about 12 more months, give or take.

So you're a mage. You have a job, and that job is taking something which was previously intact and converting it into much smaller, bloodier, often frozen chunks of that same thing. You manufacture shattered mobs, and you take pride in your work. But you may also have a side-project or two. Maybe you thought to yourself, "Self, perhaps when we aren't making warlocks explode, maybe we should spend our time sewing trousers. Or baking cupcakes. Or making necklaces."

Well, your self is right. You should be using your down time in between vicious warlock kills to learn a side trade. They offer bonuses in the form of cool gear, extra money, and bonus stats, plus a bit of catharsis to help you decompress form all that murder. But which professions should you choose? That's easy: Anything but mining. What's that? You'd like a bit more detail? Oh fine.

Tailoring

I've been a tailor since the first time I got to that covered bridge outside of Brill and discovered that my zombie wizard could make himself a pair of pants. That's also the moment when I realized I was never going back to Final Fantasy XI. WoW had me hooked from then on, and I have happily sewn countless trousers in the years since, threading them with love and hemming them with virtue. My pants, brethren, are the pants of the gods.

Bonus: Lightweave Embroidery. This provides 580 intellect for 15 seconds. The proc chance is 35% with a 1 minute internal cooldown. That translates into a rough average of 145 passive intellect, if we assume that the proc will occur as often as it possibly can, which of course is absolutely never going to be the case. So for the sake of comparison, just assume the bonus of Lightweave is something less than 145 passive intellect, though probably not too much less.

There's also the supreme convenience of being able to craft your own cloth gear and bags, which simply cannot be overstated. Also, cloth sells for a bundle right now, yo. The other nice bonus of taking Tailoring is that it doesn't have a dedicated "feeder" gathering profession, freeing up your second profession slot for another crafting profession, or an unrelated gathering profession.

Oh! And cheap leg enchants.

Engineering

I've always been partial to engineering as a mage profession, mainly because I like the whole mad scientist/wizard concept. Plus, I'm a fan of goggles. Engineering's main benefits, apart from all the goggle-making, come in the form of unique on-use enchants that don't overwrite your other enchant on a piece of gear. Nice, right?

Bonus: Synapse Springs. This glove enchant provides an on-use increase of 480 intellect for 12 seconds, with a 1 minute cooldown. Again, assuming maximum uptime provides us with the equivalent of a passive 96 intellect boost. So reality will undoubtedly provide us with something less than that. Screw you, reality.

The alternative to this enchant is the Z50 Mana Gulper, which, sadly, does not create free mana potions despite my imaginary world in which it totally does. Instead, it provides you an increased effect for those mana potions which you already possess. It shares a cooldown with other mana potions, meaning you're still only allowed one per fight. The increase is about 16%, which is significant. This might be more valuable for longer fights where mana becomes a problem, or for arcane mages, for whom mana returns equate to a DPS increase. For most mages, though, the Synapse Springs are going to be the better option. Were I an engineering mage, I might keep two pairs of similar gloves in my inventory with either enchant, for various situations.

And I would, of course be remiss if I didn't mention some goggles. The current pinnacle of goggle technology for mages are the Lightweight Bio-Optic Killshades, which, aside from having an awesome name, have some pretty nice, customizable stats. These come with a standard meta-gem socket, plus two engineering-only cogwheel slots. Cogwheels provide 208 of any one of several combat ratings, of which the ones mages might want include crit, hit, haste, or mastery. These ratings are competitive with other tier 11 gear, so this crafting this headpiece will get you a nice raid-level epic item, but will fall behind once the next tier of gear opens up.

Enchanting

Enchanting gives you the ability to chant your own gear, which is very nice. It also gives you something to do with all of those greens and blues you collect as you level besides sell them. Like tailoring, it requires no gathering profession, and so is a good option to pair with your ability to sew magical thread into your trousers and the trousers of others.

Bonus: Enchant Ring - Intellect. This enchanter-only ring enchant gives you access to 80 intellect you wouldn't otherwise be able to get from enchants.

You'll find that this seems to be the average the designers were going for with profession bonuses: 80 of your spec's primary stat. It varies only slightly for most crafting professions, though it's a bit more difficult to quantify the bonuses of tailoring and engineering.

Also, holy crap can you sell chanting mats for a buttload. Not that you will be able to afford selling any of them, since every enchant costs approximately a million mats. And good news! Everybody else gets to roll on your mats in every dungeon you run! It's super fair.

Jewelcrafting

Jewelcrafters get the ability to turn gold into more gold, simply by buying Elementium Ore and prospecting it. At least that's how it works out for me on my server. Oh, and they can also make jewelry and cut their own gems.

Bonus: Jewelcrafters get access to proprietary gems, of which they can have three. These are better than the gems non-jewelcrafters get access to. The best of these for mages would be Brilliant Chimera's Eyes, which grant 67 intellect each, an increase of 27 intellect over the normal 40 provided by the Brilliant Inferno Ruby. Multiplied by three, that increase comes out to an extra 81 intellect.

Now, having said all that, it bears mentioning that a patch or two down the road, when epic gem recipes are introduced, the gap between these jewelcrafter-only gems and those that anybody has access to will likely get much smaller. When this happens to my jewelcrafter, I suppose I'll have to wipe tears with my massive stacks of money.

Jewelcrafters also have access to a few very nice unique trinkets, of which I'll list only one:

Figurine - Jeweled Serpent

Blacksmithing

This is traditionally a terrible profession for mages, simply because 99% of everything you can craft with blacksmithing can't be equipped by mages. We can't wear mail or plate, we can't equip most of the weapons or any of the shields this profession creates. There is that one caster dagger, I guess. Still, this expansion has left all three of you blacksmithing mages out there in a slightly better position than was previously the case. So when you have you next Blacksmithing Mages Anonymous meeting, you can all have a group hug and talk about how your long struggles have paid off or whatever.

Bonus: Blacksmiths can put two additional gem sockets on their gear: one on their bracers, and one on their gloves. This equates to an additional 80 intellect, or whatever other stat you want to justify using those two sockets for.

Leatherworking

Another profession that really doesn't mesh well with mage gear limitations, leatherworking isn't typically a very popular choice for mages. Still, the bonus this time around is pretty nice.

Bonus: Draconic Embossment - Intellect. This replaces any other bracers enchant you might have been using, but is a vastly superior alternative to anything else out there. It grants 130 intellect. The other two options give you either 65 crit or 65 haste. Since straight intellect, especially in such an obscene amount, is far better than any other combat rating, you can't lose. It's difficult to compare 135 intellect versus 65 crit or haste to the 80ish intellect provided by most of the other crafting professions, but rest assured that it is better.

Alchemy

Reason #1 to like Alchemy? Transmutes. Reason #2? Not having to buy your own flasks.

Bonus: Your flasks are way better than other people's flasks, granting -- you guessed it -- 80 intellect more for your Flasks of the Draconic Mind than ordinary schmucks. Now, the downside to this bonus is that it isn't anywhere near as consistent as the largely passive bonuses provided by the other crafting professions. You're only getting tht extra 80 intellect in raids, when you're using a flask. Still, you can also make the argument that you really don't need that extra 80 intellect outside of flask-worthy content anyway. You can make that argument, but my alchemist alt still thinks it's kind of stupid.

Also: Lifebound Alchemist Stone. This unique trinket isn't the best trinket out there for mages, but the 213 mastery is nice, the blue socket is also nice, and the 40% increase in value for your mana potions is awesome.

One last thing: Vial of the Sands. Yep.

Inscription

The gold rush for scribes that ushered in this expansion is coming to a close, but the ability to write your own glyphs will always be pretty cool. And who doesn't like taking money from stupid people? My scribe alt sells Mysterious Fortune Cards for 100 gold a pop whenever I decide it's time to tax people who can't do math, and it's always a good time. I like to imagine a good 75% of those cards are being bought by warlocks, who are then getting together down at the Hot Topic, putting on their Twilight t-shirts, and flipping each card over in turn, seeing that they're only worth 10 silver, realizing that they just paid 100 gold for each one, having a good cry, then heading back over to the auction house to give me more of their money.

Bonus: Draconic Embossment - Intellect. This takes the place of any other shoulder enchant. The alternative is the Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone, meaning it's a bonus of -- say it with me -- 80 intellect. Also, and this can't be overvalued, you save yourself a whole lot of reputation grinding with Therazane. Any time spent not having to kill worms in that frigging cave is of immeasurable worth.

Plus, you can make yourself some very nice off-hand frill items. So there's that.

Gathering Professions
  • Herbalism: Lifeblood - On-use 480 haste for 20 seconds with a two minute cooldown. This averages out to about 80 haste rating.
  • Skinning: Master of Anatomy - passive 80 crit rating.
  • Mining: Toughness - passive 120 stamina.
If you're min-maxing with your professions, another crafting profession is always going to be a better choice than any of these gathering professions. But if you're willing to funnel the time and money it takes to fund a second crafting profession instead of selecting the appropriate gathering profession for the items you're crafting, you're a crazier man than I. The only exception to this would be mining, simply because that bonus isn't worthwhile to any mage ever. If you happen to be an engineer, I would totally advise you to take a second crafting profession and get ore from the auction house or a mining alt, rather than saddle your poor mage with another hunk of stamina he doesn't need.

The various crafting professions are now more easily comparable than ever before, which opens up the professional arena to mages in a way it's never been in previous expansions. Sure, tailoring/enchanting are still a good combo for mages, but it's easier than ever to justify alternative choices these days. Want an engineer/scribe? Go for it. Feel like your mage would like to tan some leather then settle down with a nice flask of magical awesomesauce while it dries? I don't have a problem with your lifestyle, mister leatherworker/alchemist. Just promise that someday we'll be able to skin warlocks. I don't even need a recipe that actually calls for warlock hide as an ingredient. I'd skin them just to skin them.
 
114.The sudden yet inevitable betrayal of gaming immersion

 

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Warning: This post contains spoilers and Firefly references.

There's this quest in Loch Modan. To make a long story short, the gnolls and murlocs seem to be making a peace treaty. In the very least, they're making some kind of deal to lay down some awfulness on the Alliance. They are the Axis of Awful, after all.

When things get to this point, there's nothing else for an adventurer to do but dress up like a shrub, take a bottle of scent pheromones, and sneak out to sabotage the meeting. But that's not the exciting part. The exciting part is what the Mosshide gnoll screams when you lay the whammy on him.

"AAAAAAGH!" the gnoll yells. "CURSE YOUR SUDDEN YET INEVITABLE BETRAYAL!"

Rumors have it that in beta, the murloc responded, "Mine is an evil mrglglglglglglglglglg. Now DIE!"

Of course, this is a reference to the old Firefly series, which has many devoted followers among all kinds of geeks and gamers. On one hand, I totally love the reference. My wife and I giggled and laughed and loved the shout-out to one of our favorite television series.

On the other side of the coin, I can see the argument that pop culture references like this can take a player "out of the game." It disrupts immersion and adds silliness to an escapist hobby that some people take very, very seriously.

What about you? Where do you fall in that argument?
 
115.Patch 4.1: What we know so far

 

Patch 4.1, the first major content patch of Cataclysm's life cycle, has been mentioned a few times lately here on WoW Insider, sparked by Alex Afrasiabi's commentary narrating a zone overview for G4. Since then, many players have asked the question ... what is actually in patch 4.1? What do we know about it? Do we know anything?

We don't know everything that will be contained in patch 4.1, but between BlizzCon and more recent information, Blizzard has already outlined a number of the major features from the patch. Let's take a look at those features, shall we?
Hyjal daily quests
A new daily quest hub will be added to Hyjal, one of the two Cataclysm starting zones. This quest hub will actually progress the overall story of the zone. If you've quested through Hyjal, you know that players end up healing most of the damage done to the zone. Patch 4.1 will reflect that and we'll be questing in a healed Hyjal. Perhaps some of those quests will actually take place in the Firelands, similar to the Joust quests or the quest to kill Nemesis? Time will tell.
Firelands raid
The quests in Hyjal ended with the player pushing Ragnaros back into the Firelands, alongside Malfurion Stormrage and Hamuul Runetotem. Malfurion and Hamuul then discuss going to the leaders of the Horde and the Alliance to arrange closing off the Firelands completely. This raid zone will very likely be the climax of that story.

The final boss of the Firelands raid will be Ragnaros within the Sulfuron Keep, and we're likely to learn more of the reasoning behind Ragnaros's aggressive interest in Azeroth. The plan as of BlizzCon was to include a total of seven bosses. Perhaps more of our old friends from Molten Core? It would be a good opportunity for them to revisit the fetch mechanic from Golemagg that they were unable to properly implement back in vanilla WoW.

Abyssal Maw instance
Patch 4.1 will introduce another 5-man dungeon in Vashj'ir, this one completely underwater like the world zone that houses it. Back at BlizzCon, the developers tried to assuage the fears of the playerbase by being clear about trying to avoid the "Oculus effect" wherein quirky mechanics turned the dungeon into an annoyance.

This instance will have four or five bosses. Based on Alex Afrasiabi's recent comments, among these bosses may be an animal god, if not more than one.

More classic dungeon changes?
Before the launch of Cataclysm, the playerbase was grumbling about heroic Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep. While originally expected to be in at launch, it was later announced that these dungeons would be in patch 4.1 and not available at launch. That delay didn't actually occur. Both of the heroic classic dungeons made it in at launch, so there may not be any of this in patch 4.1 after all.

Enhanced dungeon maps
At BlizzCon, the developers also discussed the planned addition (or extension) of dungeon maps. In addition to 2D maps of the dungeons (many of which we have already), the basic UI will offer lore background for bosses, their basic abilities (though no mechanical or tactical explanation of the encounter), and the loot they drop.

This UI addition is unlikely to eliminate mods such as AtlasLoot, but it will be a great boon to players that try to remain addon-lite.

As of now, that's all that we know about patch 4.1. Do note, however, that almost all of this information dates back to the end of October and patch 4.1 isn't even on the PTR yet. All of this information could change at any moment.
 
116.WoW Rookie: Dungeoneering 102

Last time in WoW Rookie, we talked about some of the basics about grouping for instances. The advice really applies to any type of group, but these were the most fundamental things you need to know. This week, let's start taking a look at the next level of knowledge that you should have. We might reinforce some of the old points along the way also.

Kill the one in the dress
It's important to establish your team's kill order. We talked about it last time, but the idea of a kill order bears repeating and reinforcement. Since every group is a little different, you should take the few seconds at the start to establish your kill order. While I'm used to killing skull first, cross second, square third ... there was a time square was the designate symbol for hunters to trap a mob. The important thing here is communicate. Make sure you're all on the same page.

Following the kill order is incredibly important. For one thing, tanks can't just phone in their threat generation. They have to work to make sure DPS doesn't pull aggro off the tank. If you're attacking mobs out of order, the tank will be especially challenged to keep control of the enemies.

Even more importantly, though, some packs of mobs put out too much damage for a tank and healer to control them all for very long. Killing one or two targets in a fast, coordinated way takes a lot of pressure off the need for heals. If you attack the entire pack at once using area effect spells, then that pressure isn't relieve quickly enough.

Keep crowds controlled
Archmage Christian Belt has a wonderful primer about the basics of crowd control. Take the time to check it out, because it's one of the most important articles for the Cataclysm. If you know nothing else about heroics or raiding, you should know this: love of Elune, just sheep something.

There are tricks to crowd control, of course. A lot of groups "sheep pull," trusting the tank to pick up all the mobs as they run toward the group. When you use this technique, it's especially important to give the tank a bit of time to grab the adds. That's because the mage actually has the initial aggro, and the tank will need the additional moments to get good control over the group.

Area attacks are risky
Be careful when using area attacks. If you've properly crowd controlled the enemies, then your area attacks could break that crowd control. Other, stray mobs might wander into the zone. While these accidents aren't insurmountable, they can certainly make your whole experience more risky.

Area attacks also have the effect of distributing your threat out among enemies the tank might not have fully controlled.

Run to the tank
Okay. So, accidents do happen. And when accidents happen, the mob will turn around and want to hit you instead of the tank. When that happens, go toward the tank. Don't run around, don't try and kite it, don't try and kill it super fast. Just run it over to the tank.

Part of a tank's job is to maintain a boss in a stable position. Rogues have positional attacks, for example, and everyone has to pay attention to range. if a tank is moving a boss around the room, the group's collective damage will drop while it repositions itself to do proper attacks.

So if you're getting attacked by an add, run to the tank.

Give the healer time
Back in Wrath of the Lich King, healers didn't need to worry much about mana. Things have changed considerably. Many healers will find themselves without mana on nearly every fight. They will certainly be without mana within a few pulls. The only thing to be done about that is to let the healer have time to drink. Don't rush them, don't push them to "go go go." Give them time to drink and everyone saves time running in from the graveyard.

Silence if you got 'em
It might seem pedantic to say so, but if you have a silence or interrupt effect, use them. Sure, some bosses have special effects that one-shot tanks, and you'll need to keep the abilities on reserve in order to use them at the right time. But aside from that, silence and interrupt everything you can. It saves an immense amount of trouble, and you'll find your group lives a lot longer when mobs can't cast.

Don't sweat DPS
There are many web sites and forum posts dedicated to maximizing your damage. Don't get me wrong; doing the best you can is important. However, "the best you can" is not encapsulated entirely within the realm of DPS.

If you can interrupt a mob, crowd control during a pull, or debuff the enemy, that's worth giving up some DPS. If you can throw a heal on the tank to lighten the load, if you can stun an enemy for a moment, that tends to be worth giving up some DPS.

DPS is not the measurement of your success. Killing the boss is the measurement of your success. Cataclysm has more dance steps, and more complicated dance steps, than any other expansion. Take the time to get the dance for each boss correct. When you can cha-cha without thinking about it, your DPS will caught up with you.
 
117.Know Your Lore: The tol'vir

 


The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

We've talked about the tol'vir before Cataclysm launched. While what we learned about them then was tantalizing, what we've learned about them since has helped develop our understanding of them quite a bit. Proud, ritualistic, formal, feral, the tol'vir are a race bound by their ancient task and pinned between their duty and their desire to return to a state of existence they see as more perfect than the one they currently inhabit.

The last remaining bastion of free tol'vir on the surface of Azeroth is the mysterious land of Uldum. Created eons ago by the Titans, Uldum is part of the planetary monitoring system that once girdled the ancient continent of Kalimdor alongside Ulduar and Uldaman. While Ulduar seems to have been intended to imprison the ancient Old God Yogg-Saron, and Uldaman perhaps served as a manufacturing center for earthen (although it may also have served other purposes), Uldum's purpose was linked to Ulduar in a very real and direct way. Ulduar was where Algalon would come to make his judgment about the fitness of the Azeroth experiment if the prime designate Loken was destroyed. And Uldum?

If one thinks of Algalon as the means by which a world is judged, then think of Uldum as the executor of his will. Ulduar is where Azeroth would have been condemned, and Uldum is how the sentence would have been carried out. The tol'vir of Uldum, therefore, have the most important task of all the Titan's creations, as they maintain the world-destroying engines and keep their power out of the hands of those who might otherwise use them. Unfortunately for the tol'vir, those who would undo the Titan's work for their own ends have often subverted or corrupted these last guardians of Titanic secrets in order to gain access to what they guard.

Accursed Flesh

Once, the tol'vir guarded Titan sites throughout the world. Alongside the mechagnomes, earthen, vrykul and giants, the tol'vir performed as maintenance and protection to lore repositories and ancient secrets. It seems likely that they were creations of Norgannon the Lorekeeper (the same one who left the Discs of Norgannon in Uldaman that pointed to Uldum's location, which makes one wonder if there were once tol'vir in Uldaman, and if so, where they went). It's interesting that there are prowling panthers in Ulduar when one considers that there are no cats anywhere else in the Storm Peaks. Since we know the tol'vir were susceptible to the curse of flesh, were these cats their descendants?

What we do know is this: Following the great war between the ancient Aqir and the troll empires, the Aqir made their way north and south, ransacking former Titan complexes on the order of their dread master, the Old God C'thun. While C'thun itself lay underneath the ancient Titan fortress covering most of southern Kalimdor and thus could direct his creations more closely as they created Ahn'Qiraj out of what was once a sister city to Uldum, the ancestors of the nerubians were further away. Closer to the Old God known as Yogg-Saron, and at times divided in their loyalties (even at times seemingly more afraid of the Old Gods and their servants than loyal to them), the nerubians invaded and destroyed another Titan lore repository and enslaved the tol'vir who dwelt there, much as their qiraji cousins did, but for their own ends.

These tol'vir were kept isolated from the curse of flesh, because their massive, stony bodies made them effective weapons of war against the enemies of these two disparate empires founded by descendants of the aqir. Indeed, another reason to suspect Norgannon of being involved in the original creation of the tol'vir is the use both the nerubians and the qiraji put them to. Obsidian destroyers like Moam can actually consume magic. Norgannon the Lorekeeper is the one who empowered Malygos, the recently deceased Aspect of Magic, in the first place. This fact, and the fact that the tol'vir were entrusted with safeguarding places where secrets and lore were held in trust, makes the connection seem more obvious, but it's just speculation at the moment. We only know that the Titans were their creators, that they were originally stone constructs, that the servants of the Old Gods can somehow remove the curse of flesh from them (as seen above when Deathwing's minion Siamat removes the curse of flesh from tol'vir in Uldum).

The tol'vir in Northrend are apparently all gone, used as living weapons by the nerubians against the Scourge during the War of the Spider and then, after that war was lost, used again by the now undead nerubians at the Lich King's demand. It's possible a few remain deep underground either as obsidian destroyers or even as uncorrupted tol'vir, but as yet, none have been seen. The tol'vir who may have inhabited Uldaman are even more mysterious; the only reason we even have to speculate about their existence is the fact that the discs of Norgannon pointing to Uldum's existence were found there and the presence of lions and other large cats in the heraldry of Stormwind and other human nations despite there being almost no lions currently alive in the Eastern Kingdoms. Lions are frequent companions and allies to the tol'vir.
The modern tol'vir remaining in Uldum are divided into two main tribes. One is the Neferset led by Dark Pharoah Tekahn, who have allied with the air elemental forces of the Vortex Pinnacle and, through them, Deathwing himself. The other is the Ramkahen under King Phaoris, who resist Deathwing and his followers and attempt to keep to the old ways of their people, defending Uldum from those who would seek to use its ancient secrets against the will of the Titans. With the destruction of Orsis by servants of Al'Akir the Windlord, Ramkahen is the last remaining bastion of tol'vir who are neither enslaved by nor corrupted by the Old Gods and their lieutenants.

Pinned between duty and perfection

Heroes who explore Uldum fully can work alongside the Ramkahen to defeat and drive the Neferset back as well as raid their strongholds in the Lost City of the Tol'vir and the Halls of Origination. There are also Neferset tol'vir to be found in the Vortex Pinnacle itself. Eventually, these heroes aid the Ramkahen in laying siege to Neferset City, laying waste to the forces of the Dark Pharoah and aiding King Phaoris as he kills Tekahn. While this doesn't end the Neferset threat in Uldum proper, it does give the Ramkahen a much stronger position and keeps them safe from Deathwing's minions for the time being.

It's interesting that our first introduction to the tol'vir is the enslaved Prince Nadum, brother to Phaoris, who is captured by the Neferset when he is betrayed by members of his own people who seek a return to a stone form. There are clearly those among the tol'vir (including the majority of the Neferset) who see the stone body of the ancient tol'vir as a perfect state. Whether or not they would be willing or able to become obsidian destroyers is unknown, although among the stony tol'vir of the Neferset, we see figures like General Husam who have either grown or regained wings similar to those of Moam and other obsidian destroyers. Strangely enough, although Siamat is clearly seen altering the three Ramkahen traitors in exchange for their betrayal, the Neferset of the Lost City seem to have the djinn imprisoned somehow. It's not clear why these willing servants of Deathwing would need to hold one of his servants captive.

The tol'vir of Ramkahen are surprisingly polite to complete strangers, even beings like orcs and draenei who they could barely have ever heard of, considering that they resided behind a Titan shield for untold thousands of years. The shield of invisibility that protected Uldum is likely the only reason these tol'vir didn't end up like the ones in Ahn'Qiraj and Azjol-Nerub, which makes the decision of some among their number to willingly submit to a similar fate at Deathwing's talons all the more interesting. Did the tol'vir of Northrend go willingly? Were they, like the vrykul, so fearful of the curse and its degenerating effects that they submitted to the aqir to regain what they saw as perfection? We see it happening in Uldum now, so we can't dismiss the possibility.

The tol'vir are a race greatly diminished, trapped between their ancient duty and the curse that has utterly changed them as a people. Once they lived across the world; now, only a remnant population endures in Uldum. Is this their end or is it a new beginning for them? Is it better to hold fast to your old oaths and die a mortal or live forever as stone by betraying everything you ever held dear?
 
118.Cataclysm hotfixes for Jan. 3
It's been a little while but we've finally got another round of hotfixes. The changes were pushed live and published to the official World of Warcraft blog. This time around there were only a couple of class changes, the major chunk of hotfixes address various dungeons and raids, including the following:
  • In Deadmines, the Foe Reaper 5000 will not cast Harvest on players more than 70 yards away.
  • In Grim Batol, Trogg Dwellers that players cannot reach via legitimate means no longer award experience or loot when killed.
  • In Throne of the Four Winds, players now receive credit for the achievements Heroic: Conclave of Wind or Throne of the Four Winds if they are dead when the encounter is defeated.
Take a look after the break for the full list of changes.



Zarhym
  • Classes
    • Mages
      • Flame Orb and Frostfire Orb no longer break any version of Polymorph.
    • Paladins
      • Righteous Fury is now unable to be dispelled.
      • The Strength bonus from the Retribution version of Guardian of Ancient Kings now applies its bonus based on total Strength instead of just base Strength.
  • Dungeons & Raids
    • Bastion of Twilight
      • It was sometimes possible for Arion to instantly Chain Lightning the targets affected by Lightning Rod, with no time for them to react. This has been corrected.
      • If one of the three most distant targets from Ignacious was 20 or fewer yards away and Ignacious picked that target for Inferno Leap, the spell would fail entirely, but the cooldown would be consumed. Inferno Leap can now be cast on players 20 yards or fewer away from Ignacious.
      • The Elementium Monstrosity will now prefer ranged targets to melee targets with its Electrical Instability beams. If there are more beams active then there are ranged targets present, then the beams will start hitting melee targets.
      • Flame Destruction cast during the Cho'gall encounter now does approximately 30% more damage per stack on Heroic difficulty.
    • Blackwing Descent
      • Sonar Pulse is now spawned on top of Atramedes' current location and will spawn regardless of where Atramedes is tanked. In addition, Sonar Pulse now idles for 1 second after being cast before they move away from their spawn location.
      • It is no longer possible to use immunities to reset a player's sound bar while fighting Atramedes.
      • Atramedes' Sonic Breath now properly ignores line of sight.
      • Spirit of Ironstar's Shield of Light was taking too long to break and now absorbs less damage.
    • Deadmines
      • Divine Shield prevents all damage from the Sparks in the Mechanical Nightmare.
      • The Foe Reaper 5000 will not cast Harvest on players more than 70 yards away.
    • Grim Batol
      • Trogg Dwellers which cannot be reached by players via legitimate means no longer award experience or drop loot if killed.
    • Lost City of the Tol'vir
      • Lockmaw's Frenzied Crocolisks have learned how to swim! In addition, Vicious Poison was doing too much damage and has been reduced slightly.
    • Throne of the Four Winds
      • Players now receive credit for the achievements Heroic: Conclave of Wind or Throne of the Four Winds if they are dead when the encounter is defeated.
      • It is no longer possible to fully resist Wind Burst from Al'Akir, avoiding all damage and knockback.
      • Al'Akir's Static Shock has been changed from a damage-over-time spell with interrupts on ticks (10-second cooldown), to a direct-damage interrupt spell (5-second cooldown).
  • Items
    • Bloodthirsty and Vicious Gladiator's Chain Gauntlets had incorrect bonuses attached. Their bonuses now correctly reduce the cooldowns on regular traps and launched traps by 2 seconds.
    • Bloodied Wyrmhide Gloves no longer have any expertise rating on them, and now grant Spirit instead.
  • Professions
    • Archaeology
      • Select Archaeology nodes and dig sites have been updated to ensure the Map listings are correct and the nodes properly spawn within the dig sites.
    • Cooking
      • The cooking daily quest Chef's Awards no longer have a limit to how many players can hold at one time. Please note that the user interface will still say a maximum of 10 Chef's Award currency can be possessed until a client-side patch can be applied, but players can accrue more than 10.
    • Tailoring
      • Tailors with 400 skill or higher should now receive additional cloth drops 50% of the time from anything that drops cloth, up from 25%.
  • PvP
    • Baradin Guards now correctly attack Horde players which enter their aggro radius or attack them.
    • Tol Barad now awards 360 Honor Points for winning as the attacking faction, down from 1800. Further details can be found on our forums.





 
119.The Queue: The blame game

Today's Queue is going to be another short one. I blame Mike Sacco, because that's what I do.

Jack Spicer asked:

I've been running a lot of low-level dungeons using the dungeon finder lately, and I'm wondering about something. The rare item that you pull out of the goody bag you get from completing a random dungeon, the stats on the item seem random, but the type of item -- ring, pants, etc. -- seem pre-determined. Are they? If so, how? Any helpful links?

The rewards you get from the satchel are determined by level. Wowpedia says the following:
  • Level 25: Back / Waist
  • Level 35: Neck / Hands
  • Level 45: Shoulder / Finger
  • Level 55: Wrist / Feet
  • Level 60: Back / Waist
  • Level 64: Neck / Hands
  • Level 70: Shoulder / Finger
Dardle asked:

So what's the deal with engineering in Cataclysm? We're missing the most important part of the profession: bombs.

You know, I was confused about that, too. I switched to engineering at the tail end of Wrath because bombs are awesome, but Cataclysm doesn't have any? What is the deal? Where's my grenade-y goodness?

The answer lies in the High-Powered Bolt Gun. The tooltip suggests that it's a single-target ability like the Tazik Shocker tinker, but it isn't. It's a small, targeted AOE, just like the grenades. Instead of mass producing bombs every day, you can just farm up some Obsidium and turn it all into bolts. Be warned, however, that using the Tazik Shocker tinker will put your Bolt Gun on a short cooldown.

Kolonus asked:

Everyone knows how to resurrect Aeris and get her to rejoin their party, right?

You are a very cruel person.
 
120.12 Days of Winter Veil Giveaway Day 12: PNY 128GB SSD harddrive

 

12 Days of Winter Veil is under way here at WoW Insider. That means 12 days of giveaways, from loot codes to literature and gaming mice to graphics cards. Even if you've been a good goblin or a naughty night elf, there's a chance that WoW Insider has a holiday gift for you this season.

NVIDIA has provided us an array of graphics cards for our giveaways this season and to wrap it up, they have one more prize up for grabs: the PNY 128GB SSD hard drive. Here's how the manufacturer describes it:

Designed as a drop-in replacement for a hard disk drive, PNY Solid State Drives are flash-based mass storage devices with no moving parts. SSDs offer uncompromising performance, reliability and efficiency over traditional hard drives.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m. ET, Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States or Canada (excluding Quebec). You can only enter once. Make sure your email address is up to date, because that's how we'll contact you. We will pick one winner randomly. Official rules here.
 
121.Live Stream: It came from the Blog New Year's Eve bash

Welcome to <It came from the Blog's> end-of-the-year bash, pun intended. We are live, attempting to get With a Little Helper from my Friends for as many people as possible. Join us in game or in the chat room after the break.
 
122.The Best of WoW Insider: November 2010

Cataclysm went live. We thought that was pretty cool. Also, Orgrimmar got the equivalent of a raid boss. That was also pretty cool. Oddly, on top of all the news that came rushing in this November, it was another great month for the arts scene.

News

Ghostcrawler shares DPS spec design philosophy for Cataclysm The entire article is worth a read, but there's one particularly stand-out point here: "Players are much more tolerant of huge, sweeping changes between expansions than they are in between patches."

Ghostcrawler on the evolution of rotation complexity One of the things you start to wonder about when points like this are made is whether the bevy of fan sites out there lecturing players on spec and rotation choice is ultimately doing more harm than good for the game.

Cataclysm: Gamon, legendary villain of Orgrimmar, made even more elite The usual target of bored Hordies parked in Orgrimmar, Gamon was made a level 85 elite for Cataclysm. On my own server, a pile of skeletons testified to the number of players who thought that taking an idle swing at him was still in the cards.

News, continued

Troll druids get unique bat flight form In a nod to the Darkspear culture's disdain for bird spirits, Blizzard gave troll druids bat form. And there was much rejoicing. It's still not in the game yet, but still, there was much rejoicing.

Cataclysm quest reward armor sets for 1-60 The not-so-fondly remembered clown suits from Outland leveling won't be making a reappearance.

Cataclysm beta testing is officially over Cataclysm beta testing ended, not with a bang, but with a whimper. The sudden end and lack of world-destroying fun with GMs took players by disappointed surprise.

Patch 4.0.3a kills ink trader but reinstates missing glyphs Patch 4.0.3a created a crisis of sorts for scribes, who suddenly found themselves without a convenient way to get low-level inks. As a few readers and forum-goers observed, any herbalist who could be bothered to maintain even a desultory presence on the AH suddenly got rich.

Opinions & Editorials

Officers' Quarters: The great raid size debate: part one, part two, and part three A great series by Scott Andrews on the history of raid size in WoW, the logistics involved in running either a 10- or 25-man raid, and why a certain size may (or may not) be better suited to certain guilds.

Survivability matters Blizzard's been harping on the need for DPS to stop ignoring survivability talents. As a host of angry, mana-starved healers on the forums can attest, you will do zero DPS while running back from the graveyard.

The evolution of zerg dungeon farming Rossi's tanked since day one and been in an unusually good position to observe how dungeon-running has developed.



Arts & Entertainment

WoW Moviewatch: Farewell, Northrend A very beautiful and contemplative look at the continent and expansion we left behind.

The Raid movie documentary examines WoW raiding Dawn reviews The Raid. Even if you're not interested in the film itself, the background on why the filmmakers made the piece is incredibly interesting.

WoW Moviewatch: Happy Place Cranius and Legs' entry to the machinima contest. Is anything this guy does badly? The specter of a Forsaken rogue who just wants to pick flowers is hilarious enough on its own.

WoW Moviewatch: How to Win at Guilds Fully as accurate, painful, and funny as Wowcrendor's piece on PUGs and Gear Score.

Premiering tonight: AFK film offers laughs, epic gaming scenes Dawn continued her look at recent WoW-related films with a funnier outing. Quit? Don't quit? Solo Onyxia? Die in a fireball-induced haze to Onyxia?

World of Warcrafts: Cat durids if 4 cuddels Admit it: You want one.

15 Minutes of Fame: Cataclysm soundtrack composer David Arkenstone Players have singled out Cataclysm's music as an incomparable addition to a game that always had great music, and it was fascinating to read about Mr. Arkenstone's creative process.

WoW Moviewatch: An Inconvenient Expansion "Don't worry, my precious loot! You'll be okay!"

Around Azeroth: Death Starry Night The best screenshot of the year, in my opinion.

WoW Moviewatch: Azerothian Super Villains Episode 8, the final /salute, Azerothian Super Villains. You may not have taken over the world, and none of your evil schemes ever came to fruition, but it's been a blast.



Classes, Raiding, and PvP

The Light and How to Swing It: The return of the shockadin The holy paladin spec was heavily overhauled for the expansion. Chase took you through the changes with an amusing look

Raid Rx: Comparing 10 and 25-man raid healing in Cataclysm Matticus falls on the Cataclysm beta healing grenade so you don't have to, and what results is both a video and extensive text guide comparing and contrasting 10- and 25-man healing, plus observations on how raid health pools are impacting healer mana.

Scattered Shots: Grandpappy Frostheim on Ghostcrawler "Don't harrass Ghostcrawler or he'll quit talking to us. Oh, wait..."

Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a druid: night elf, tauren, worgen, or troll: Readers enjoyed this series on the strengths and weaknesses of Azeroth's four druidic races.

Encrypted Text: An interview with the ever-cautious Aldriana Chase interviews the legendary rogue theorycrafter, Aldriana. Name sound familiar? You probably saw a set of gloves (best in slot for cat druids and probably a host of physical DPS) named after him drop in Icecrown Citadel.
Odds & Ends

Know Your Lore: King Varian Wrynn King Varian Wrynn, or as we like to call him, "The Garrosh of the Alliance."

Conquer Azeroth in Civilization V The latest outing of Sid Meiers' Civilization series had been released in September, and most of our gaming friends and relatives subsequently disappeared for weeks. Matters only got worse for the WoW-playing contingent when a player named Maze designed a map pack reproducing classic Azeroth.

Know Your Lore: The origin of goblin and worgen death knights With Cataclysm approaching, lots of players were uncertain how to explain the existence of goblin and worgen death knights. Anne broke down the common assumptions (many are wrong) while bringing up a genuinely knotty time discrepancy -- how to explain the time jump from pre-Wrath (start of the death knight leveling experience) to post-Wrath (the fresh level 58 death knight being sent to a Horde newly captained by Garrosh)?

Drama Mamas: When NSFW guild chat aggros a parent One of the most interesting Drama Mamas, concerning an angry mother wanting to limit her child's exposure to inappropriate language in the game versus a guild blowing off steam late Saturday night.

All the World's a Stage: Conflict in the shadow of Cataclysm This was a great outing of All the World's a Stage, but it was also a reminder of the many players who apparently kept their sandwich signs from the elemental invasion event.

Know Your Lore: Jaina Proudmoore Jaina Proudmoore is a character at turns loved, reviled, and misunderstood.

 
123.It Came From the Blog: A little helper from your friends

 

Share
New Year's Eve is a time to party, and what better way to party than to dress up like Greatfather Winter's helpers and send 50 of your fellow players to an early grave? So the <It came from the Blog> family of guilds will be getting together Friday night to get small. Here are the particulars:
  • When: Friday, Dec. 31 at 10 p.m. EST (7 p.m. PST, 8 p.m. server time)
  • Where: Meet at the Winter Wondervolt near the flightpath in Orgrimmar on Zangarmarsh (US-PvE-H)
  • Who: Any Horde player, level 10 or higher
  • What: To get With a Little Helper from My Friends for as many people as possible
  • How: Ask Robinella or any member of <Blogling> for an invite, if you are not already in one of our guilds
We'll match up players within the appropriate levels to suit up and enter battlegrounds together. The event will be streamed, as usual, and we'll have an event chat channel to coordinate.

Please join us!

 

 
124.The Best of WoW Insider: October 2010

 

The Best of WoW Insider: October 2010&body=http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/12/29/the-best-of-wow-insider-october-2010/" title="The Best of WoW Insider: October 2010">Share
BlizzCon, BlizzCon, BlizzCon! October revolved around the events and revelations of the annual Blizzard convention ... not that there were a lot of revelations this year. Oh well, we still had fun. This was another month with a ton of articles devoted to straight news reporting, but patch 4.0.1 and the annual Hallow's End holiday also went live. Unfortunately for players, so did a nasty little bug related to the holiday boss.

Otherwise, this was also a great month for Blood Sport and WoW Moviewatch.

News

Cataclysm: New 600 member hard cap imposed on guilds
This was a problem for many guilds -- our own <It Came From the Blog> on Zangarmarsh (US-H) among them.

Official 4.0.1 patch notes It begins.

World of Warcraft reaches 12 million players WoW officially reached 12 million players -- and that's not all-time, that's current subscribers. Adam observes, "That's a lot of Deadmines runs."

BlizzCon 2010: Cataclysm will be available for digital download The sound you heard was that of geeks everywhere without access to a midnight launch screaming for joy.


News, continued


New Tree of Life model datamined The brand-new Tree of Life model went live on the beta shortly after this article was published and was greeted by ... well, mixed reactions. Mike Gray had some PhotoShop fun with it.

BlizzCon 2010: Update on injured man from dance contest
We caught up with the guy injured during the dance contest and were relieved to discover he was okay.

BlizzCon 2010: Scarlet blouse gentleman receives NPC for fact-checking efforts
Scarlet Blouse Gentleman -- or Red Shirt Guy, as he's more commonly known -- is now e-famous for catching the developers in a lore mistake during the BlizzCon 2010 Quests and Lore Panel. Blizzard thought this was pretty cool and rewarded him with an in-game nod.

Headless Horseman pumpkin shrine crashes game
It's kind of a serious problem when you can't even mouse over an item needed to summon a holiday boss ... Fortunately, players provided a way to get around it.


Opinions and editorials

Officers' Quarters: Raiding addons aren't optional
When you've got a key player refusing to download otherwise required addons due to fear of viruses -- and the guy is equally adamant about not getting an authenticator -- you've run into Scott Andrews' Golden Rule of Raiding (GRR): "Don't waste other people's time."

Drama Mamas: Transgender bullying
The most commented-upon Drama Mamas of the past year, this article delved into a number of different social issues. I was surprised (though perhaps I shouldn't have been) to see it linked by a number of sites.

All the World's a Stage: Top 10 RP hot spots in Cataclysm A trip around the Cataclysm beta produced a wonderful catalogue of potential RP sites and Azeroth's most interesting places.
Arts and entertainment

WoW Moviewatch: Acting with certainty This one has to be seen to be believed.

WoW Insider reviews The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm by Christie Golden
Sacco reviewed The Shattering and gave it a thumbs-up. Behind the scenes here at WoW Insider, staffers also praised the story and were pleased to see it become Golden and Blizzard's second New York Times best seller. As for the review itself, it was a stark reminder that all politics is personal, even in Azeroth.

BlizzCon 2010: WoW Insider interviews author Christie Golden and BlizzCon 2010: WoW Insider interviews author Richard A. Knaak Anne snagged what turned out to be excellent interviews with the two most prominent WoW novelists.

WoW Moviewatch: The Day that Deathwing Came Possibly the most talked-about quest series in Cataclysm.

WoW Moviewatch:
A Crit(t)ical Incident The third-place runner-up in this year's machinima contest at BlizzCon.

WoW Moviewatch: I am Forsaken The second-place runner-up, RedEye Lobine's I Am Forsaken, is a fabulous bit of story-telling and voice acting and a quiet reminder of the personal stories underlining the harsh political realities of Azeroth.

15 Minutes of Fame: Laura Shigihara, voice of WoW's singing sunflower Laura Shigihara of Plants vs. Zombies fame turned out to be a WoW player. Blizzard, just as addicted as we are to the music (and music video) of PvZ, dragooned her to voice a new noncombat pet for Cataclysm. Volleying back, she wanted blood elf druids for the trouble.


Classes, raiding, and PvP

Blood Sport: Rank one Gladiator PvP secrets,
part one and part two As an indifferent battlegrounds player, I never knew any of this stuff. It's a revealing look at the work that goes into being a Gladiator.

Blood Sport: Rank one Gladiator PvP secrets: Illegal and immoral edition
And here's a look at the more underhanded tactics -- not that we (or Colby) endorse them.

Raid Rx: The limits of cognitive bandwidth for healers Absorbing, processing, and acting on information as quickly as possible is the hallmark of a good healer (more so these days, when you have to make strategic decisions on what spell to use and when). Matticus wonders at what point an encounter is just too much to deal with.

Blood Pact: Warlock soloing instance bosses for fun and profit
Adam Panshin, our newest warlock columnist (a position since termed "The Defense Against the Dark Arts job at WoW Insider") takes a spin through instances traditionally soloed by other classes.

Blood Sport: Not every good PvPer is a Gladiator
Moore had a few cogent observations for the more elitist-minded among us.

Encrypted Text: Finding combat's missing damage
Post-4.0.1, combat rogue DPS took a nosedive. Chase couldn't help but notice that the spec's mastery bonus didn't play well with the rogue's most basic mechanics.


Odds and ends

Know Your Lore: Cairne Bloodhoof "Farewell, old bull."

Gold Capped: Sleazy auctioneers and giving away trade secrets
As in real life, so in WoW; some people have an uneasy relationship with money and an even uneasier relationship with those who make a lot of it. "It's not auctioneers that are hurting you; it's demand and supply not agreeing on a price you find satisfactory."

Know Your Lore: Zul'jin and the Amani The history of a very old race and the far-reaching effects it's had on even the modern world.

Know Your Lore: The tinfoil hat worgen edition
Rossi observed, "This actually ended up terrifyingly close to what the comic book would say a month or so later."

All the World's a Stage: The limits of your character's knowledge
A point often overlooked by roleplayers; you almost certainly know more about what's happening in Azeroth than your character does.
 
125.Weekly Podcast Roundup: Dec. 20-26, 2010

 

Every Monday evening, WoW Insider brings you a long list of WoW podcasts that were published the week (and weekend) before. If you don't see your favorite podcast listed, just let us know in the comments. Be sure to leave a link to it, and we'll pick it up next week.

All podcasts and content belong to their owners. WoW Insider is not responsible for what you hear, and some of the content may not be safe for work.
  • All Things Azeroth Merry Winter Veil
  • The Instance The Jeff Cannata Tapes
  • Rawrcast Red Rocket Disaster
  • Bind on Equip Your Lighthouse on the Shores of Azeroth
  • Casually Hardcore Happy Holidays!
  • Circle of Healing Episode 2
  • Gaming Worlds Collide Feast of Winter Veil
  • Guild Chat Podcast Episode 9
  • The Guardian Tank Podcast Episode 29 (LF3M CC/INTRUPTS)
  • Horde House Fix Mah' Damn Internet!
  • Hunting Party Podcast Episode 63
  • The Leetsauced Podcast Round 2 with the Bossy Pally
  • Legendary Honor
  • Liquid WoW: The One With Boone's Farm
  • The Mana Cooler Christmas Shockadin
  • Not Enough Rage Heroics
  • Outlandish We're Counting on You
  • Raid Warning Creepy Bedtime Stories
  • The Sundering Cata-Gasm
  • Taverncast Taverncast's Way Too Merry Christmas
  • This is Outcasted The Bad Puncast
  • Ventchat Download and Delete
  • Warcraft Less Travevled Fossilized Raptor Mount & Rare Fishing Treasures
  • Warcraft Lounge Making Money in a Post-Cataclysmic World
  • Warcraft Outsiders Episode 61
  • The WoW Factor Show Episode I: The Phantom Episode
  • Wowphiles Are You Feeling Shortchanged?

Other podcasts

The WoW Insider staff listens to a lot of other podcasts around the net. Here are some we thought you might be interested in.
  • Adam Carolla Adam ... Carolla!
  • Car Talk Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers
  • Electronic Explorations Electronic music
  • Engadget Our sister site's podcast about gadgets and technology
  • Grammar Girl Quick and dirty tips for better writing
  • Joystiq Podcast Our sister site's podcast about games and stuff
  • Joypod Two Idiots One Show about gaming
  • Low End Theory A music podcast from LA
  • Massively Speaking Our sister site Massively talking about all the latest MMO news
  • PCGamer Podcast The official Podcast of PC Gamer magazine
  • PMAcast A music podcast
  • Polygamerous Because you can't play just one
  • Smodcast Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier podcast
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • The Incredible Podcast An incredible podcast full of amazing awesomeness
  • The Moth A weekly story podcast
  • This American Life A popular Chicago Public Radio podcast
  • Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! A popular NPR news/game show podcast
  • Xbox 360 Fancast Joystiq's dedicated Xbox 360 podcast

 
126.WRUP: Ho ho ho

 


Every week, just at the start of the weekend, we catch up with the WoW Insider staff and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" -- otherwise known as: WRUP. Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game -- and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

I am lying in wait, Greatfather Winter. There better be something really good in these boxes. They've been taunting me for weeks. Another Red Rider Air Rifle isn't going to cut it, either. There better be something amazing in there.

How about we check with the rest of the staff and see if they're as neurotic about waiting for Winter Veil, or up to other Christmas related activities this weekend?

Adam Holisky (@adamholisky): Will be going home to Minneapolis this Christmas to celebrate the holidays with Katie's and my families. Of course, that won't prevent me from "going to bed early" and finish leveling an alt up to 85.

Alex Ziebart
(AlexZiebart): Alex decided not to say anything this week, and thus left me to fill in his response. So, for those eagerly awaiting the answer, Alex will be snuggling with his biffles and watching the latest release of the Twilight saga on DVD. Watch those werewolf abs Alex, I heard you can poke an eye out on those things.

Allison Robert (@AllisonRobert): I probably won't be around much this weekend, but if I get a chance, I'll be doing some heroics with friends and leveling archaeology a bit more. Sort of enjoying a break from raiding, too! Oh, and I'll be getting coked up on cough syrup to write The Druid of 2010.

Anne Stickney (@Shadesogrey): I have 16 people coming over for Christmas day (what have I gotten myself into?), so this weekend is going to be family family family pretty much, with a little WoW sprinkled in here and there for good measure! I'm still working on gearing up my main, and trying to decide whether or not to race change her to goblin, because they are that amazing.

Basil Berntsen (@outdps): It's Christmas! I'll be chasing the toddler around the house, helping my wife cook for an army of in-laws, and answering day job emails from home to try and finish a last minute hail mary project.

Chase Christian (@madsushi): I will be playing a lot of WoW, definitely more than I've played in the past couple of months. My holy paladin finally hit level 84, so I'll be leaning into the final grind to 85 on her soon. My rogue is going to be leveled second since I already leveled him once on the beta, and since I can quest much faster as a DPS spec.

Colby Moore (@TheArenaGuy): Recording more rated battlegrounds and arena. I might transfer my warlock to Kel'Thuzad alliance to have a bit more access to high level PvP. Auchindoun is an awesome server, but only about 15 people at any given time want to PvP. Other than that, I'm going down to my wife's parents house for Christmas, so I'll probably be playing a fair amount of chess.

Daniel Whitcomb (@danielwhitcomb): Now that ore prices are down quite a bit, I'm leveling my engineering. I still feel a little like I'm frittering away money when I make Electrified Ether, but I do want to see if I can get those googles before I replace them with raid gear this time around. I'm also getting Loremaster of Cataclysm out of the way now while I have the chance. Only 40 more quests in Uldum to go, and I'm done!

Dan O'Halloran: Going to make the final push on finishing all the Vashj'ir quests on my main. I swear that zone is the Stranglethorn Vale of Cataclysm. Also, enjoying healing instances more than I thought, so will be doing more of that with my druid. Hope to get further with my enhancement shaman alt as well. He is in Western Plaguelands now and enjoying the revamped quests there. Oh yeah, also have 25 people over for Christmas and will be spending much of Christmas Eve wrapping gifts for the kids after they go to bed.

Elizabeth Wachowski (@leeatwaterlives): I'm not working for once, so I'll be spending time with my boyfriend's family and leveling my druid and hunter. I'm also enjoying Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for the DS, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to see what Zelda and Final Fantasy would be like merged into one game.

Joe Perez (@Lodurzj): Raiding! trying to kill Twilight Council and Cho'gall. should be good times. For the holiday I'll be spending it with my extended family out at my aunts house. Half of us are WoW addicts so I expect the conversation to be the normal "hows the rest of the family doing" for about 30 minutes. After that it will likely be a family discussion of Cataclysm and raid strategies and a battle with my cousin over who is better, paladin or shaman (of course we already know the answer is shaman! :P)

Kelly Aarons (@Cadistra): I got Cadistra though Hyjal, and I keep trying to finish Vash'jir. It's the zone that never ends, I swear. Will also probably quest with my baby pally through Ashenvale. As for the holidays? Eh. Small family, lives in another town. It's just another day for me.

Lisa Poisso (@emused): Cooking, eating, drinking, reading, sleeping, playing Kinect until my arms and legs fall off, running instances, dressing in fabulous new sweaters and jewelry, cooking, eating, drinking, sleeping, playing Kinect after my arms and legs have fallen off, running instances...

Mathew McCurley (@gomatgo): Xmas on Staten Island, podcasting, playing WoW and just taking a break.

Matthew Rossi (@matthewwrossi): Well, stayed up waaaaaaay too late writing a complete guide to all non heroic drops for warriors in every single Cataclysm dungeon. Now I hope to sleep until January. Somehow I expect my warriors will be played, and perhaps my subconscious will get me another Foe Reaper.

Sarah Nichol (@mentalshaman): I will still be moving! Actually I'll be taking a brief sojourn from the game as my computer access is reduced. Spending time with family and making sure this move goes right is the important thing this week. This is my third year doing the cooking, and I'll be doing a cider & apple turkey, with apricot and almond stuffing, and once I am full of Christmas pudding I'm going to be watching the Doctor Who Christmas special. My character finally has all her profession buffs and her first epic, so she's going to be relaxing in the Golden Keg with a pint while I'm off elsewhere.

Zach Yonzon (@battlemasters): RL responsibilities have barred me from entering Azeroth for almost a week now, and I have lofty ambitions of taking the very short break I have this holiday weekend of turbo-leveling my actual main to 85. I heard it can be done in less than 24 hours straight without causing any permanent brain damage. Or maybe I'll get some sleep first, but I might wake up in January like Rossi.


 
127.12 Days of Winter Veil Giveaway Day 3: Goblin Gumbo Kettle code

 

12 Days of Winter Veil is under way here at WoW Insider. That means 12 days of giveaways, from loot codes to literature and gaming mice to graphics cards. Even if you've been a good goblin or a naughty night elf, there's a chance that WoW Insider has a holiday gift for you this season.

Our friends at WoWTCGLoot.com have generously donated the code for the in-game Goblin Gumbo Kettle for our 12 Days of Winter Veil giveaway. What better way to celebrate the holidays with your in-game friends than whipping up a big green pot of spicy Goblin Gumbo? After eating some, they'll be belching delicious green gas for five minutes. Just like Grandfather Winter!

And the best part? This contest is open to all regardless of age or geographic location. Or faction. To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment in this post before 11:59 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010. You can only enter once. Make sure your email address is up to date, because that's how we'll get hold of you. We will pick one winner randomly.

Don't forget to check back every day through Jan. 2, 2011 for new contests celebrating the 12 Days of Winter Veil!
 
128.12 Days of Winter Veil Giveaway Day 2: $100 SwagDog code
12 Days of Winter Veil is underway here at WoW Insider. That means 12 days of giveaways, from loot codes to literature and gaming mice to graphics cards. Even if you've been a good goblin or a naughty night elf, there's a chance that WoW Insider has a holiday gift for you this season.

SwagDog is back with its signature, all-new class icons over both Horde and Alliance designs. You can purchase a class icon shirt, guild tabard shirts, guild icon shirts or just straight up faction shirts for that special someone. Or you can enter this contest for a US $100 coupon good for SwagDog merchandise!

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 24, 2010. You must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States or Canada (excluding Quebec). You can only enter once. Make sure your email address is up to date, because that's how we'll get hold of you. We will pick one winner randomly. Official rules here.

Don't forget to check back every day through Jan. 2, 2011 for new contests celebrating the 12 Days of Winter Veil!
 
129.12 Days of Winter Veil Giveaway Day 1: Chronicles of War anthologies

 

12 Days of Winter Veil is underway here at WoW Insider. That means 12 days of giveaways, from loot codes to literature and gaming mice to graphics cards. Even if you've been a good goblin or a naughty night elf, there's a chance that WoW Insider has a holiday gift for you this season.

Simon & Schuster's latest WoW anthology, World of Warcraft: Chronicles of War is next on the giveaway list. This anthology is a compilation of four previously published WoW novels, Rise of the Horde, The Last Guardian, Tides of Darkness and Beyond The Dark Portal. We have three copies to give away to you!

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010. You must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States or Canada (excluding Quebec). You can only enter once. Make sure your email address is up to date, because that's how we'll get hold of you. We will pick three winners randomly. Official rules here.

Don't forget to check back every day through Jan. 2, 2011 for new contests celebrating the 12 Days of Winter Veil!
 
130.Cataclysm hotfixes for Dec. 21st


 

Continuing the steady stream of Cataclysm tinkering we've seen this week, Blizzard has posted yet another set of hotfixes. And this is a pretty good set! Some notable changes:
  • The duration of the Superheated Quicksilver Armor debuff on Karsh Steelbender is now 17 seconds, up from 12 seconds. The encounter was too hard to tank and went against our intended fight mechanics. The display for this buff may not properly update until a client-side patch is applied.
  • Rare Archaeology finds should now grant triple skill gains.
  • Mekgineer Thermaplugg is no longer using outdated abilities and has a shiny new list of abilities to use. He is also no longer immune to taunts.
  • Elemental Goos now drop 100% of the time off of Cataclysm elementals for the Jewelcrafting daily quest.
  • Chaos Orbs can now only been seen and rolled on by characters with a minimum skill level of 425 in Tailoring, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, or Engineering.
For the full list of hotfixes, follow us behind the break below.



Cataclysm Hotfixes: December 21st
December 21

General
  • Weekly resets and calculations which occur during regular maintenance should no longer be applied one hour early, which should prevent them from being run twice.
  • The sell prices for the 7th and 8th bank tabs purchased with guild level 5 are now 0.
Classes
  • Hunters
    • Hunter pets now benefit from the 1% increased hit chance from the Draenei racial Heroic Presence.
  • Mages
    • Flame Orb is now benefiting from Clearcasting procs, is not costing any mana when using the buff, and removing the buff correctly when used.
  • Paladins
    • Damage dealt to the paladin by Hand of Sacrifice correctly breaks all forms of a mage's Polymorph.
    Light of Dawn is now properly locked out when the Holy spell tree is locked out and cannot be used for the duration of the lock.
  • Priests
    • The healing effect from Atonement is now being effected by healing modifiers correctly.
  • Rogues
    • Rogues lose any stored combo points upon entering an Arena, preventing the use of abilities such as Slice n' Dice.
  • Shaman
    • Unleash Frost is now correctly categorized as a snare effect and is properly removed when spells such as Hand of Freedom are cast.
  • Warlocks
    • The Soulburn effect can now be used on alternate spells if the first attempt to use the Soulburn effect fails.
    • Warlocks should no longer get an "Invalid Target Error" when trying to summon a player into a raid instance. If the player is ineligible to enter the instance, they will get an error that they are already locked upon accepting the summon.
  • Warriors
    • Bladestorm now deals 150% normalized weapon damage as advertised. It was incorrectly dealing 100% normalized weapon damage.
Dungeons & Raids
  • Blackrock Caverns
    • The duration of the Superheated Quicksilver Armor debuff on Karsh Steelbender is now 17 seconds, up from 12 seconds. The encounter was too hard to tank and went against our intended fight mechanics. The display for this buff may not properly update until a client-side patch is applied.
    • Rom'ogg Bonecrusher's Chains of Woe should no longer push players under the world.
  • Blackwing Descent
    • Magmaw's Pillar of Flame now prefers targets further than 15 yards away for Lava Parasites and will not be cast more than once per 30 seconds.
    • Lava Parasites now only apply their melee attack proc to players who are targeted. Lava Parasites are functioning normally and cannot infest a player with more than 3 Parasite debuffs active. Snared Lava Parasites will function like other creatures and switch to a nearby target if it becomes available, making them a viable target for Infestation.
    • Drakonid Chainwielders and Drakonid Drudges had too many hit points in the 10-player version. Their hit points have been reduced.
    • Drakonid Drudges will charge another target if the furthest target is more than 80 yards away.
  • Gnomeregan
    • Mekgineer Thermaplugg is no longer using outdated abilities and has a shiny new list of abilities to use. He is also no longer immune to taunts.
  • The Stonecore
    • Corborus should no longer reset if any of the Rock Borers evade.
    • Ozruk can now be mined and has an appropriate loot table.
Professions
  • Chaos Orbs can now only been seen and rolled on by characters with a minimum skill level of 425 in Tailoring, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, or Engineering.
  • Elemental Goos now drop 100% of the time off of Cataclysm elementals for the Jewelcrafting daily quest.
  • Stone Bats in Deepholm can no longer be skinned.
  • Nightsabers in Teldrassil are able to be skinned now without issue.
  • Engineers are no longer able to use the Spinal Healing Injector or Z50 Mana Gulper tinkers in Arenas.
  • Rare Archaeology finds should now grant triple skill gains.
  • The progress on the guild achievement That's a Lot of Travel Time no longer goes up each time players complete the repeatable quest "Could I get a Fishing Flier?"
PvP
  • Arenas
    • All 28 of the Vicious Gladiator 2200 rating weapons now require level 86 to equip. This is a temporary fix to prevent items which were obtained prematurely due to a bug causing Arena rating inflation from being used.
    • All weapon, ranged, and off-hand items which require a 2200 rating have been temporarily removed from their respective vendors. This is a temporary fix to prevent items from being obtained prematurely due to a bug causing Arena rating inflation.
    • Engineers are no longer able to use the Spinal Healing Injector or Z50 Mana Gulper tinkers in Arenas.
    • Rogues lose any stored combo points upon entering an Arena, preventing the use of abilities such as Slice n' Dice.
    • Demolishers are properly spawning in at the beginning of Round 2 in Strand of the Ancients as Preparation fades.
Quests & Creatures
  • Deepholm
    • Quest credit for killing Fungalmancer Glop should now be awarded to all players on his threat list.
  • Durotar
    • Attempting to use the Drowned Thunder Lizard Tail outside of Durotar now returns the error "You need to be in Durotar".
  • Twilight Highlands
    • The Deathwing cutscene should now dismiss pets for better viewing opportunities.
    • Cadaver Collage's hit points in Crucible of Carnage have been increased. The poison clouds that are left on the ground now despawn when Cadaver Collage begins casting Inhale. When Cadaver Collage begins to float away, it now displays an explosion animation after a few seconds and the player is removed from combat. This occurs within a few seconds, much faster than it previously took to leave combat.
  • Vashj'ir
    • The Submerged buff for the quest "Quicksilver Submersion" will no longer persist outside of the Upper Silvermarsh subzone. In addition, the Submerged buff does not count as Stealth on either a druid or rogue.


source

 
131.All the World's a Stage: So you want to roleplay a worgen

 


All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

Cataclysm brought us two new races to roleplay -- for the Horde, it's goblins, and for the Alliance, it's the enigmatic worgen. These new races have the dubious honor of being creatures we've already encountered. We've been dealing with the goblins and the Steamwheedle Cartel for years, ever since the launch of World of Warcraft. The worgen are essentially human beings, a race we've played ever since the beginnings of the Warcraft games.

Each new race, however, has its own host of unique characteristics that sets it apart from the humans and goblins we're familiar with. In the case of the worgen, most of what we know about their history and their current situation can be discovered through the worgen starting experience, but for roleplayers, that might not be enough to build a character around. Today, we're going to go over the basics of being a worgen -- where the worgen came from, what you can do with them, and what realistically just wouldn't fit, character-wise, with worgen lore.

Worgen origins

This is explained fully in the worgen starting experience, so I'm not going to go into major amounts of detail here -- consider this a very rough summary, OK? The first worgen originated with a group of night elf druids who were playing around with an aspect of the druidic arts -- mainly by following the teachings of Goldrinn the wolf Ancient rather than the teachings of Cenarius. This was pretty unsafe, as the Ancient Goldrinn was a feral, wild spirit, and his followers usually ended up losing their minds to his savage nature. This was considered way too risky by Malfurion Stormrage's tastes -- he ordered these druids, the Druids of the Pack, to stop what they were doing.

The druids, on the other hand, didn't agree with this assessment at all. When they shapeshifted into worgen, losing themselves entirely in the process, it was decided that they needed to be locked away. So they were put into eternal slumber deep beneath a tree, and the Druids of the Pack were never spoken of again -- until now. Night elf roleplayers as a rule won't really "remember" the worgen unless they happened to be a druid that lived during this time, which would put that night elf at about 10,000 years of age.

Reports are mixed as to what happened next. There are stories that speak of a mage named Arugal, who summoned the worgen back to the waking world. Needless to say, they were decidedly cranky about this and set about chomping on people left and right. The bitten were transformed into worgen, an affliction that is now called the curse of the worgen. But there are also tales of Velinde Starsong, a night elf who discovered an artifact called the Scythe of Elune and used it to summon and control the worgen.

There were several misconceptions about the worgen at first, early quests and quest items share impressions of the worgen that are incorrect in light of what we know now. Arugal and the magician Ur, who wrote the book that Arugal used for summoning, were under the impression that the worgen were from another dimension; so was Velinde Starsong,
the night elf who used the Scythe of Elune to summon the worgen to her in an effort to cleanse Felwood. The Scythe also plays a big part in the worgen starting experience.

Some sources for more information on the original worgen curse can be found here:
  • Faded Journal This is a random drop from the worgen attacking Gilneas, but you can read it on Wowhead as well.
  • Curse of the Worgen This comic series goes into the history of the worgen, and it's an excellent read. You can find it at your local comic shop, or you can order it online if there are no comic shops nearby.
  • Know Your Lore: The Ancients A brief history of the night elf Ancients, including Goldrinn.
The quests involving Arugal, the Book of Ur, and Velinde Starsong have been removed, but you can still find the relevant journals on Wowhead:
  • The Book of Ur The magician Ur's original impressions of the worgen.
  • Velinde's Journal The journal of Velinde Starsong, in which she writes about receiving the Scythe of Elune and meeting the worgen.
  • Jitters' Completed Journal This is a journal written by a man in Duskwood who happened across the Scythe some time after Velinde's mysterious disappeared.
While these three documents aren't really "truthful" in terms of accuracy, they do give roleplayers an idea of what the general reaction to worgen was prior to Cataclysm's release.

Gilneans and the worgen of Cataclysm

The worgen that are now playable, however, are a different matter entirely. While the original worgen were these night elves, you on the other hand are a Gilnean who has been bitten by a worgen -- perhaps a worgen who was one of the night elves, or perhaps another former Gilnean who was afflicted with the curse. As a Gilnean, your history is entirely different from that of the original worgen from thousands of years ago.

The kingdom of Gilneas was part of the original Alliance back during the Second War, but after the Alliance's victory over the orcs, Gilneas as a kingdom withdrew from the Alliance. It's been about 20 to 25 years since the Second War (the timeline for Warcraft lore is notoriously iffy), but most adults living in Gilneas should remember the Second War and what occurred, although they may have been children at that time.

The important part is this: King Genn Greymane was a proud, often arrogant man, and so were his people. Gilneas was one of the most powerful human nations in the world at that time. It was well equipped to take care of itself, and Greymane knew it. So did everyone else who lived in Gilneas. Greymane agreed to join the Alliance, but he complained constantly about it, because it was costing his kingdom money and resources, and his kingdom wasn't even under direct attack from the encroaching Horde.

When the war was over, the orcs were put into internment camps, and that's the main reason Greymane withdrew from the Alliance. He saw no point in sinking money and resources into keeping an enemy alive and had no wish to spend his kingdom's fortune on those kingdoms that had been shattered by the war. Shortly after withdrawing from the Alliance, he ordered the construction of the Greymane wall. This wall prevented anyone outside of Gilneas from getting in -- but it also prevented anyone in Gilneas from getting out.

While some Gilneans were OK with this, some were entirely against it, and when the worgen curse began to spread, more and more unhappy people began to let their king know about it. A civil war broke out, with many Gilneans caught in the middle -- and of course, during all of this, the Gilnean people were dealing with the worgen that had mysteriously appeared and begun chomping people left and right.


What you should keep in mind as a Gilnean
  • Gilneans are in general a proud, arrogant people -- but as of late, they've discovered that they aren't as self-sufficient as they'd like to believe and may have a more humble attitude.
  • King Genn Greymane is extremely apologetic for what he did in the past. The Greymane wall was an obvious mistake. He wants nothing but what's best for Gilneas and the tattered remains of his people, now.
One of the more fascinating aspects to play with is this: As a Gilnean, you have essentially been lost in time for around 20 years or so according to the Warcraft timeline. Most of the important events that are happening today are completely foreign to you.
  • You have never seen a night elf before meeting the ones in the worgen starting experience. Night elves didn't join the Alliance until the Third War -- long after Gilneas stuck itself behind that wall.
  • Likewise, draenei are completely foreign to you. Matter of fact, the thought of traveling to other worlds like Outland is probably difficult to comprehend.
  • You weren't aware of the rise of the Lich King. You may have vague memories of Terenas Menethil, but you weren't aware of his death at the hands of his son.
  • The whole mess with Varian Wrynn and Onyxia? Yeah, you don't really know anything about that, either.
  • The war with the Lich King and the victory in Northrend completely passed you by. Yes, from a game standpoint you can go back and play through it if you like -- consider it a gift from the Bronze Dragonflight. Timelines between Cataclysm, Outland and Northrend are screwed up, and Blizzard knows about it.
  • You have never seen a troll or a tauren. You may have seen a blood elf at one point in time or another, but back then, they were high elves that had nothing to do with fel magic.
  • The Forsaken are basically the undead remains of your former neighbors. They are likely horrifying to you.
Loads to play with, isn't there? And that doesn't even take into account the effects of the worgen curse. Here are some other resources about Gilneans and the time line surrounding the Second War:
  • Tides of Darkness by Aaron Rosenberg
  • Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden
  • Know Your Lore: A history of Gilneas
  • Know Your Lore: Shadowfang Keep
  • Know Your Lore: The Second War
How do you solve a problem like Gilneans?

The points listed above are all possible things you want to keep in mind while creating a backstory for your worgen, but as with anything else, it's entirely open to interpretation on the roleplayer's end of things. Your character can be a Gilnean of old attitudes -- proud, arrogant, aggravatingly self-sufficient and extremely proud of it. Your character can be a Gilnean who has been humbled by the devastation of your former home. You can make yours a vengeful Gilnean who wants the Forsaken dead and Gilneas returned to its former glory at all costs.

You can be thankful that the night elves stepped in and are currently trying to help your people deal with the worgen curse. Or you can be a very, very bitter Gilnean who is ticked off about the fact that these strange, alien people from another continent decided to muck around with unusual magic in the first place and, in the process, set up a series of events that ultimately messed everything up. You can be the bewildered and shocked Gilnean who's just realized that the world hasn't revolved around you and that there's a ton of history to catch up on. Or you can treat the passing of time with nonchalant bravado -- after all, you are a Gilnean. You can handle anything thrown your way.

The possibilities are endless.

What if I'm not Gilnean?

This is a little tricky to address, but let me make it as plain as possible: All current playable worgen in game came from behind that great huge honking wall that went splat when Deathwing fluttered his fancy way into the world. The only exception to this are worgen death knights, who were former slaves of Arugal that managed to break free and get themselves killed and resurrected by Arthas. You can read more about worgen death knights and their origination in a Know Your Lore from a month or so back.

Is it possible to roleplay a worgen as a citizen of Lordaeron or Stormwind? Yes, it could be argued that traveling adventurers that scampered their way into Shadowfang Keep got themselves bitten and managed to come down with a case of the worgens. Is it possible to play another race as worgen? To put it bluntly -- no. The case could be argued for night elves, but there are no playable night elf worgen in game; they all exist as NPCs. There are no draenei worgen, there are no gnome worgen, and there are no dwarf worgen; these races weren't part of Gilneas.

When push comes to shove, though, it's a matter of roleplaying taste. You could try to play a draenei worgen, but it's likely that other roleplayers are going to look at you funny or flat-out refuse to roleplay with you. When you're roleplaying a race -- even one that seems to be an offshoot of an existing race like the human/worgen connection -- you want to keep the lore of that race in mind. Stepping too far out of existing lore is kind of a recipe for disaster. You could do it, sure, but other roleplayers may not be as accepting of your character's "unique" qualities, leaving you with nobody to roleplay with.

And in the end, why would you want to? The Gilnean people have such a rich, vivid history that roleplaying a Gilnean, much less a worgen, is a fascinating concept in and of itself. There are literally millions of scenarios that you can fiddle with until your character is perfect, countless ways you can make them unique within the context of the lore. Sure, we haven't heard anything from Gilneans in years -- but that's exactly what makes them so interesting. Keep that in mind when you're constructing your character. Have fun, and go wild!
 
132.The Daily Blues
Each day, WoW Insider takes you through all the blue posts and other Blizzard news from around the internet. From the latest posts from Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) to the lowdown on StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3, we'll keep you informed.

A few blue posts blue posts after the break.

But if you're looking for goblin druids, the answer is no.


Blizzard -- Poll

Off the coast of Dun Morogh, beneath the sunlit reaches of the Great Sea, swims the arbiter of the deep. Known to many as simply "the whale shark," this legendary leviathan patrols the sunken ruins of Vashj'ir, casually devouring any inattentive or overzealous adventurers who cross its path.

Tales pour in daily from those who have fallen victim to -- or somehow managed to survive -- the whale shark's wrath. But, how about you? Have you encountered this abyssal beast yet, and if so, how did you fare?

Paddle on over to our forum poll to submit your vote.


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Blizzard -- Cataclysm launch event videos

Cataclysm shattered the record for fastest-selling PC game when it was released earlier this month, and we were at the official launch events around the world to capture some of the incredible epic-ness on film. Have a look!

Cataclysm Global Launch Event Footage

Cataclysm California Launch Event Footage


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Blizzard -- Trial edition now available

If you or a friend are currently playing Wrath of the Lich King and haven't yet experienced the content Cataclysm has to offer, you can sign up now to play a 10-day free trial version of this latest expansion for World of Warcraft.

During your free trial, you'll undertake epic new quests, explore the reshaped and newly discovered lands of Azeroth, and see the world from a whole new perspective as one of the shape-changing worgen or crafty goblins.

To participate, you'll need full versions of World of Warcraft and the first two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Note that a character of at least level 78 is required to explore the new, high-level zones. More information on the 10-day free trial is available in our FAQ. We look forward to seeing you in the new Azeroth!



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Zarhym -- In progress dungeons via the dungeon finder
If you choose specific dungeons instead of the Random Dungeon option, you should never get an in-progress dungeon. We understand you may be looking for a specific dungeon boss because of a loot drop, achievement, etc., so it may be in your best interest to queue for that particular dungeon if this is the case.

We don't want to make it too easy for players to skip over in-progress dungeons. What would happen is a Dungeon Finder group would virtually always be abandoned as soon as anyone leaves the group.

Also, I think right now you're seeing more in-progress dungeons pop because, in general, the dungeons are more challenging now than they were when the Looking For Dungeon feature was first introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. Some players may get frustrated and bail at the first sign of trouble, instead of realizing that everyone may have to work a little harder than they're used to in order to conquer a dungeon.

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Daxxarri -- Goblin druids?

I've always seen druids as being intensely spiritual and closely attuned to nature; the ebb and flow of the seasons along with the wildness coursing in their blood. That's not the kind of thing that springs to mind when I think of goblins. Goblins seem a bit high strung and more than a little self centered. I don't think 'green' is in their vocabulary - unless they're talking about skin or cash.

In contrast, I think of shamans as being custodians over the elements. While a show of respect might be part of the bargain, they can also dominate the elements and exploit them to do their bidding. If you offer a goblin the chance to exploit something, then you've probably just made a new tiny green friend (just don't sign any contracts). Some of you might have run into Initiate Goldmine, and I think he exemplifies the goblin approach to shamanism pretty well.

Also, as others have mentioned, trolls have begun taking the path of the druid, with colorful results.

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133.The Queue: Healing is super fun

 

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.

Let's get right down to business today. There are a few points I get to talk about concerning healing, too, after the break.

Patrick asked:

Are tanks still going to be stacking stamina? It seems like they finally have enough.

I don't see any reason for tanks not to stack stamina right now. I know that there are a lot of tanks who prefer to stick in hit, dodge, parry, etc. ... but I think the generic build will be stamina stacking again.

Imber asked:

Is healing always going to be like this? Why is it so damn hard?

Healing can be very difficult right now. It's certainly one of the more challenging aspects to the game right now. But that's for a number of reasons.

First, we don't have the gear to let us easily heal heroics (or even normal) dungeons. This is going to be a temporary situation, though, as gear will get better as the days and months go on. We won't always have problems with healing people in even the hardest of heroics; they will eventually be as easy to heal as Wrath's were.

Second, groups need to get used to using more crowd control. It's imperative that this happen, no matter what class is tanking and no matter how good the healer is. Without CC, the group will wipe and the healer won't be able to keep up with the damage output. The first few pulls in Halls of Origination can be a total wipefest without good CC.

Third, people are going to have to get better at not standing in stuff. Poison, ice, fire, etc. ... They can't stand in it if they want to live. The damage is designed so that there's little you as a healer can do if people are going to be less than smart and stand in crap. They'll die, and it's their own fault. You need to let them go, triage the tank, and politely remind them to move out of stuff if they want a heal from you.

Finally, players are going to have to get used to not being at full health. DPSers have 100,000+ health for a reason -- to give the healers breathing room. In The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, it became the norm for a good healer to keep everyone topped off. That's not just going to happen in Cataclysm for a long time, if ever. As a healer, you've done your job if everyone is alive at the end of the pull (save as noted in the third point, above). If they're missing 25,000 health, who cares? I don't. They're still alive and can DPS better than a dead person.

Liz asked:

Does WoW have over the 12 million people playing it right now?

Probably. We know that Blizzard sold 3.3 million copies of Cataclysm within the first 24 hours, so it's a safe bet that there've been a lot of people coming back to the game who weren't playing before. As far as how many people over 12 million are playing, your guess is as good as mine. It might be around 12.5-13 million, in my opinion.
 
134.Interact with target keybind gets you past players atop NPCs
Have you been frustrated with all of the dragons and mammoths sitting atop your vendors and quest NPCs? If you're like every other WoW player in history, the answer to that question is yes. It happens in every content patch and in every expansion. Every crucial NPC is completely obscured. Luckily, back in patch 3.1, Blizzard added the ability to set an "Interact With Target" keybind, which few players seem to know about.

To set this keybind, bring up World of Warcraft's main Options menu (hitting Escape will bring it up), go to the Key Bindings menu, scroll down to Targeting Functions, and you should be able to find the option easily. You can also set an Interact With Mouseover key bind if you so choose. If you've never customized your key bindings before, be careful about the key you choose to bind to these functions. You don't want to overwrite other crucial keybinds accidentally.

Once your Interact With Target key is set, you no longer need to worry about crowds or mammoths. Just /target who you want to interact with and hit the appropriate key. It will bring up the dialogue prompt, and you're set.
 
135.Gawker hack prompts Blizzard to issue password reset

 

The hacking of Gawker websites earlier last week has prompted Blizzard to issue a security alert and emails requesting that certain users reset their battle.net password. These emails, sent to your Battle.net account, request that you log into Blizzard's account management and reset your password via the provided tools.

Earlier we reported on these emails as phishing attempts. This turned out to be incorrect. At the time these emails were recived by members of our staff, there was no word from Blizzard on them, and such attempts at phishing out WoW account passwords are common after well-known hacking attempts.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that everyone uses an authenticator and employs good password security. Always watch what the links you go to are, and don't use the same password for multiple sites -- and especially for your WoW account. If you do have an account with a Gawker website, it's recommended that you reset your Battle.net / World of Warcraft password.

Blizzard's full statement after the break.


Blizzard Entertainment
As some of you know, several Gawker Media websites, including Gawker, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, and Deadspin, were recently compromised. To help minimize the effects of this compromise -- namely for players who might be using the same login information for their Gawker Media accounts and their Battle.net accounts -- we recently issued password-reset emails for several accounts. If you've received an email from Blizzard Entertainment requesting a password reset as a result of the Gawker Media compromise, please click on the link included in the email's body to choose a new password. You can also log in to Battle.net Account Management to reset your password on your own ( https://us.battle.net/account/management ).

If you used your Battle.net email address to sign up with any of the Gawker Media sites listed above (for example, to post comments), we also recommend that you update your Battle.net email address as soon as possible via Account Management. If you are unable to complete this step or the password reset and believe your account might be compromised, please contact our customer support staff by using the Account Recovery Form ( https://us.battle.net/account/support/account-recovery.html ) and be sure to check out our Account Security Awareness guide ( http://us.battle.net/en/security/ ) for additional security tips and suggestions.

For more information about this situation, please visit Gawker Media's official announcement ( http://gawker.com/5713056/gawker-security-breach-were-here-to-help ) or Lifehacker's comprehensive FAQ ( http://lifehacker.com/5712785/faq-compromised-commenting-accounts-on-gawker-media ).

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136.The Daily Quest: Meow

 

WoW Insider's on a Daily Quest to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere.

Archaeology is my new favorite thing in World of Warcraft, and I'm not quite sure why. The rewards are entertaining, but the actual traveling around and finding bits to make things with is a little dull. Regardless, I am plugging away at it and hoping that soon I'll be able to research Uldum and the Tol'vir (or as I like to call it, "the sandbox home of the magical kitty cat people").

Speaking of archaeology, today's Daily Quest digs up a pretty good guide on the new profession, as well as some other guides about this and that:
  • Citizen Azeroth gives you everything you'll ever need to know about digging in the sand, aka archaeology.
  • Killing 'em Slowly goes over the new warlock spells available.
  • Tree Bark Jacket has some thoughts and tips on healing level 85 dungeons as a resto druid.
  • In addition, Postcards from Azeroth has some stunning new shots of all the new scenery.
 
137.The OverAchiever: Guide to Winter Veil 2010
Winter Veil 2010 runs from Wednesday, Dec. 15 through Sunday, Jan. 2 this year. Unlike November's holiday, Pilgrim's Bounty, the Merrymaker meta is required for What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been. If you've already got a Violet Proto-Drake or just don't care about the meta, Winter Veil will also give you the opportunity to turn your mount into a reindeer, become a snowman with a unique dance animation, and get noncombat pets and snowballs. Of course, if Santa RNG thinks you've been bad, you'll just wind up with Coal.

Though not always. Keep at it! Even Santa RNG has a heart.

Past the cut, I've revised and expanded our 2009 guide for anyone looking to complete the meta (and earn the title) Merrymaker. Cataclysm has almost certainly affected how you'll do this holiday, but unfortunately, there's no hard information yet as to how. I doubt that Blizzard had the time to tinker extensively with Winter Veil in the crush of work surrounding a new expansion, but we'll see. As always, I'll be around as the holiday goes live to check and update the article. For the moment, I've included some commonsense speculation on likely changes (such as when an NPC's probably changed locations due to city/topography upheaval).

On Metzen!

This achievement's probably changed a bit, seeing as to how the Tanaris option for rescuing Metzen is now ... er ... underwater. However, the Tanaris pirates are still around, so it's possible that they've found somewhere else in the zone to stash everyone's favorite reindeer.

Saving Metzen for the achievement On Metzen! involves a short but fun quest line that starts with an NPC in Ironforge (if you're Alliance) with Metzen the Reindeer or an NPC in Orgrimmar (if you're Horde) with Metzen the Reindeer. The former is between the Ironforge bank and auction house; the latter may have moved a bit due to Garrosh's newfound talent for civic planning but will probably still be around the Grommash Hold area in the Valley of Strength.

With a Little Helper from My Friends

If you've never taken part in Winter Veil previously, what you need to know is that there are machines located outside (or in) most major cities that will give you a buff that turns you into a gnome in a Winter Helper costume. Once you've got this buff, you'll have the costume for an hour, until death, or until clicked off (whichever comes first). Pre-Cataclysm locations were as follows:
  • Orgrimmar This was once located next to the zeppelin tower to Undercity/Grom'Gol, which was outside of the city proper. It's likely to remain in a high-traffic area and may simply have migrated along with the zeppelin tower to the city's high bluff.
  • Ironforge Outside the city's main gates.
  • Undercity At the zeppelin tower to Orgrimmar/Grom'Gol.
  • Stormwind Outside the entrance to the flight master.
  • Tanaris East of Gadgetzan.
  • Booty Bay On the docks.
  • Shattrath Just east of the city in Terokkar Forest.
  • Dalaran Smack in the middle of the city in Runeweaver Square.
Got your costume? Right. While "disguised" as a "Santa Gnome," you need to get 50 honorable kills. The most efficient way to do this is to queue for an Alterac Valley, Strand of the Ancients, or Isle of Conquest match. The rugby scrums and bottlenecks that tend to occur in the larger battlegrounds tend to be better for this achievement than Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. If you're really paranoid about dying early, man one of the cannons or siege weapons in Strand and/or Isle. Glaive throwers in Isle of Conquest are particularly effective at contributing to kills on big groups of players, so do whatever you can to make sure your faction controls the docks. Because you lose the costume upon death, just keep getting the costume and queuing for battles until you've gotten 50.

Last year, it was arguably easiest to do this achievement in Wintergrasp, but right now, that zone's emptied in players' rush to Cataclysm content. Given that the vast majority of players have yet to reach level 85 and queue for Tol Barad, I'm not sure whether to suggest going there yet either.

On an irritating note for feral druids, the costume is instantly lost upon shapeshifting. Yes, this is an enormous pain in the ass, and no, there's nothing you can do about it. I would recommend respeccing to balance or restoration for this, or at least plan on getting the achievement by way of vehicle combat.

On a more general note, it wasn't totally unheard of last year for malicious players to specifically target those with the Winter Helper costume. Keep at it.

Scrooge (Alliance) or Scrooge (Horde)

Alliance will need to toss a snowball at Muradin Bronzebeard in Ironforge; Horde will need to chuck one at Baine Bloodhoof in Thunder Bluff (the achievements previously concerned Magni and Cairne, who are obviously no longer around). Snowballs are very easy to come by during the holiday. You'll find them sold by Winter Veil NPCs in all major cities, or -- if you're too cheap to shell out 10 copper -- you can also get them from snow mounds all over the Alterac Mountains, Dun Morogh, and Winterspring. Those of you still trying for a polar bear mount from the Brunnhildar daily offered by Thyra Kvinnshal will probably also get some in the reward bag each day.

Fa-la-la-la-Ogri'la

If you started playing after The Burning Crusade and aren't familiar with Ogri'la, it's a faction of "enlightened ogres" located at 28,57 in Blade's Edge in Outland (the western side of the zone). You'll need a flying mount to reach them and complete the quest needed for this achievement, but fortunately you don't have to have done the starting Ogri'la chain. Even if your character's never seen the ogres before, the Bomb Them Again! daily will be on offer (at least for the duration of the holiday).

Bomb Them Again! is an pretty easy quest to do, and it'll only get easier with more players rocking 310 percent flying mounts. You'll need some Preserved Holly (which you should already have, if you've already rescued Metzen) or Fresh Holly (a random reward from /kissing Winter Revelers in inns) to turn your flying mount into a reindeer. And yes, you will need a flying mount, so druids, if you've been gadding around with either version of flight form and haven't bothered to buy an actual mount, you'll need to drop some gold. Turn your mount into a reindeer, pick up the quest, do your bombing run around the demon cannons on the ridge, turn the quest in, and you're all set.

'Tis the Season

The achievement itself is simple, but getting the stuff you need to do it that will take some work.

First off, you'll need the threads. The chest and boots are fairly simple to get and are crafted by tailors and leatherworkers respectively from patterns bought from Winter Veil NPCs. You'll need either the Red Winter Clothes or the Green Winter Clothes, plus a pair of Winter Boots. Finished sets command high prices on the auction house during the holiday, so you can save yourself some money by collecting as many of the mats as possible and press-ganging a guild tailor or tipping an independent craftsman to make them. Failing that, the recipes only require 250 tailoring and 285 leatherworking respectively, and if you've got an alt with either profession, it might be more cost-effective simply to level the necessary skill rather than shell out to people making a killing off the holiday demand.

The competitive piece is the hat. For Winter Veil, these traditionally dropped off high-level boss mobs in 5-man dungeons. During Wrath, with the Red Winter Hat dropped off Grand Magus Telestra in the Nexus and Jedoga Shadowseeker in Ahn'kahet, and the Green Winter Hat dropped off Mage-Lord Urom in the Oculus. Courtesy of a bug fix that went live the day after Cataclysm premiered, I'm pretty sure that Corla in Blackrock Caverns will be dropping the red hat, but we're still waiting to see who else will. I'll update when the holiday goes live. If you lose the roll on the hat, don't worry; just queue for the dungeon again.

Got your chest, boots, and hat? The fruitcake you need is contained in a package you'll receive in the hours after completing the quest to save Metzen. Toss on your new duds, choke down the fruitcake (bleh), and you're done.

Simply Abominable

The short quest line starts with Stolen Winter Veil Treats (for Alliance) or Stolen Winter Veil Treats (for Horde). These will take you to the Strange Snowman NPC in the Alterac Mountains, who will direct you to kill The Abominable Greench, a spawned mob in the area. Although the Greench respawns quickly, the worst part about the quest line is having to tag him before someone else does, so I highly recommend grouping with other people of your faction in the area in order to get this done faster. Once you've killed him and looted the Stolen Treats, speak to the Snowman again, then head back to the Ironforge/Orgrimmar Winter Veil NPCs.

Click the link below for the rest of the guide on Winter Veil!
 
138.The Queue: Heroic as heck

 


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Mike Sacco will be your host today.

I'm ready for heroics. Are you?

Astalnar asked:

Is there any chance worgen will get a unique DPS form (wolf instead of cat), same way as trolls got bat instead of bird?

Worgen already have a unique model for cat form, the same way trolls do. Worgen also got a unique flight form. If you're asking if Blizzard is going to scrap the unique cat form model they already gave worgen in favor of something else, the answer is assuredly no.


enache_andrey asked:

Any signs of the new Lich King (Bolvar Fordragon) in Cataclysm?

None yet.


John asked:

I have been disenchanting green random drops and quest rewards that are not upgrades or that are replaced. Lots of essences. Very very little dust. Also, more dust from weapons/shields/trinkets than from armor, which is backwards from the typical DE results for original/BC/LK items. Is this expected?

Right now it looks like dusts and essences have switched places in terms of rarity, though since we haven't had comment from Blizzard, we can't be sure that it's intended yet.


Neuropox asked:

Any way I can get my bank alt that nifty top hat that you get in the worgen starting quests? I know that one is BoP but is there another somewhere my main can farm up for my lowly bank alt NAZDAQ?

There is a tailoring recipe called High Society Top Hat that produces an item identical to Lord Walden's Top Hat.


Velleekwitay asked:

Why does Greymane hang out in Stormwind while the rest of the worgen reside on the other side of the world in Darnassus?

If you're in Darnassus, so is Greymane. If you're in Stormwind, he's there too. The entry into Darnassus for worgen indicates that Greymane is going to Stormwind to ask King Wrynn for help, which he provides -- if you bring a Horde character through Silverpine, you'll see that the 7th Legion is there fighting for Gilneas. The 7th Legion is the absolute best army that the Alliance has to offer, so their presence there says something.


Cudds asked:

Can you tell me how to pronounce Vash'jir? I usually say, "VASH-gir, VASH-jeer, VAG-i-sil... You know, the underwater one."

Pretend you raided Serpentshrine Cavern, killed Lady Vashj and looted her ear. In your bag you find a Vashj'ir.

Alternatively, it rhymes with "I think the best character on DS9 was Doctor Bashir."
 
139.The design evolution of home life in the starting zones

 

The design evolution of home life in the starting zones


The starting zones form a player's formative thoughts about how the denizens of Azeroth actually live their lives. These first glimpses of life-as-our-characters-know-it are key to defining what it would be like to "really" live as our characters do. When you're in a starting area, you get to see the "common dwarf" in his natural habitat. (Or human, orc, troll, and sundry other races.) Of course, there have certainly been technical limitations over the years that restrict the number of widgets and sprites available to designers. But it's interesting to see how the home life of Azeroth natives have been improved over the existence of WoW.

The above picture is from Elwynn Forest. It's the home of Donni Anthania, the Crazy Cat Lady. The domicile of Ms. Anthania includes a chair, table, a couple chests, and a wardrobe. It also has a small herd of cats wandering around the floor. Interestingly, Donni is wielding a cleaver. It's unlikely that the cleaver was intended to mean Donna is hostile; instead, it's probably because she's supposed to be cooking or something. But the Crazy Cat Lady has been in the game since before there were any expansions. Technical design was a little more limited then. Let's compare this to how the blood elves lived come Burning Crusade.
By comparison, the blood elf starting zone doesn't have much in the way of single family dwellings. The above is the palatial Sunspire, which seems to double as a barracks. The decor is very exotic. While the Sunspire has seating and shelves, it has been upgraded beyond Donni's home with the addition of pillows and indoor shrubbery. Multiple soldiers and people of interest dwell in and around the Sunspire, as well as dozens of containers for weapons and potions. This definitely conveys a sense of community and organization to the Sindorei; this is a culture whose sense of being a unit far surpasses Donni's lonely cottage.

Like Donni, though, the Sunspire also has cats darting around. I guess the blood elves and humans have that in common, at least.
Farshire isn't technically a starting zone. It is, however, the first glimpse of normal human life you get in Northrend, so we'll use it for our example. You can see how the widgets and decorations for a living space have vastly improved since the creation of Donni's home.

The walls have purely decorative features now. A massive bear skin hangs on one wall while a stuffed boar's head is mounted on another. The writing desk has books; this is a purely cosmetic feature that speaks volumes about this space. It isn't just an area taking up space in a game world. This home in Farshire is used by people to do things, like writing letters and reading books. The orange globe is another nice touch in the otherwise bleak Northrend landscape.

All this, of course, brings us to our furry friends in Gilneas.
This is a home early in the worgen starting experience. It features food, buckets, decorations, and an entire second floor that player characters can't even reach. The coloration of the walls and fireplace are deeper and more complex than what we've seen in previous years. There is a bed against one wall, clothing hung to dry near the rafters, and a dangling lantern to provide the room some light.

This Gilnean home is someplace you could absolutely live. It feels virtually "real," accepting that it's of course all merely pixels. Note the portrait hanging across the fireplace; this is a subtle, human touch that helps bring a sense of history to the home.

In Cataclysm, we're seeing more than just game updates. There have been huge leaps and bounds in the setting design that help make the World of Warcraft that much more vivid and amazing.
 
140.World of WarCrafts: A feast of cakes

 

World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including fan art, cooking, comics, cosplay, music, fan fiction and more. Sample the whole spectrum on our Arts and Crafts in WoW page.

It's the holiday season, which means it's time for sweet treats! Today, we've got a host of World of Warcraft-themed cakes, including the delicious-looking Fish Feast cake pictured above baked by Chef Gyft of Aman'thul (US-A). With Cataclysm's release, the Fish Feast has sadly become obsolete for new level 85s, but this confectionery version -- created for a friend's birthday -- is suitable no matter what level you happen to be. Delicious!


What's a Cataclysm without a celebration -- and what's a celebration without cake? Russian fansite Noob Club recently held a cooking contest. "Participants had to cook a cake or pie with fansite symbols," reader Kermit explained. "More than 40 cakes were sent in for the final voting, some of them really gorgeous. The works that used Cataclysm as a theme got a lot of attention!" From murloc-themed cakes like the one pictured about to Deathwing, Noob Club certainly has a group of highly talented bakers. Thanks for the submission, Kermit!

Take a look at the gallery for more cakes courtesy of Noob Club -- and send in your Warcraft-themed cakes and confectionery delights! I'm tempted to go make some fudge ...

 
141.Scattered Shots: Pre-raid gear for Cataclysm hunters

Every Monday and Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Each week, Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.

Last week we covered our pre-heroic gear lists, bringing us up to at least ilvl 329 gear. A bit of grinding, a bit of questions, a sprinkling of gold and a few good drops and we're ready to graduate from normal-mode dungeons to the new, harder-hitting Cataclysm heroics.

We want to be a lot more careful about selecting our ilvl 349 gear than we were with pre-heroic gear. This is the gear that is going to enable us to start killing raid bosses, and in raiding, the small nuances of optimization really start to add up. You absolutely want to enchant and gem this gear with the best possible gems and enchants. You may also want to evaluate your own stat weights using a tool like Zeherah's DPS Analyzer combined with a hefty dose of logic and common sense. That said, the difference between gear of the same ilvl is smaller than ever, thanks to reforging.

So join me after the cut for the complete list of the best gear we can get outside of raids.

Best hunter pre-raid gear

This gear list includes gear available from quests, crafting, reputation rewards, justice points, and heroic mode dungeons. It does not include any profession-specific gear or PvP rewards. I've tried to include several options for each slot, and in general, the items in each slot are listed from best to worst, so the first item (or two) in each slot is your absolute best DPS option. That said, these items are all good, and the difference between the top and bottom of each slot on the short list is small, especially with reforging.

The Wowhead and other databases still have gaps and sometimes buggy information in them, so if you see something that looks out of place, drop a note in the comments and we'll get it fixed (well, after I hit level 85, I'll get to it). In particular, there are a couple of pieces of gear that are listed in the databases without letting us know where they drop.

All of the dungeons referred to here are the heroic versions of those dungeons.

Slot Item ilvl Source Additional Notes
Head Snarling Helm 346 Rep Dragonmaw - Revered (horde)

Windhome Helm 346 Rep Wildhammer - Revered (alliance)

Willow Mask 346 Justice Points 2,200 Justice Points

Worgen Hunter's Helm 346 Drop Shadowfang Keep - Godfrey
Neck Brazen Elementium Medallion 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Entwined Elementium Choker 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Pendant of the Lightless Grotto 346 Drop Stonecore - Ozruk

Amulet of Dull Dreaming 346 Purchased 1,250 Justice Points
Shoulders Bloodpetal Mantle 346 Drop Halls of Origination - Ammunae

Wrap of the Valley Glades 346 Purchased 1,650 Justice Points
Back Cloak of Thredd 346 Drop Deadmines - Gearbreaker

Twitching Shadows 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Obsidus

Softwind Cape 346 Rep Earthen Ring - Revered
Chest Wentletrap Vest 346 Drop unknown heroic

Dragonkiller Tunic 359 Crafted Leatherworking

Vest of the True Companion 346 Purchased 2,200 Justice Points
Wrist Bracers of Some Consequence 346 Drop Deadmines - VanCleef

Elementium Scale Bracers 346 Drop Stonecore - Ozruk
Hands Gloves of the Passing Night 346 Purchased 1,650 Justice Points

Xariona's Spectral Claws 346 Drop unknown heroic

Wrasse Handwraps 346 Drop Throne of Tides - Naz'jar
Waist Corded Viper Belt 359 Crafted Leatherworking

Belt of the Dim Forest 346 Purchased 1,650 Justice Points
Legs Balkar's Waders 346 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Barim

Hillside Striders 346 Purchased 2,200 Justice Points
Feet Treads of Malorne 359 Rep Guardians of Hyjal - Exalted

Red Scale Boots 346 Drop Grim Batol - Drahga

Boots of Crumbling Ruin 346 Drop Halls of Origination - Anraphet
Ring
Signet of the Elder Council 359 Rep Earthen Ring - Exalted

Elementium Destroyer's Ring 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Band of Blades 346 Crafted Jewelcrafting

Ring of Dun Algaz 346 Drop Grim Batol - Throngus

Skullcracker Ring 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Rom'ogg

Nautilus Ring 346 Drop Throne of Tides - Ozumat

Terrath's Signet of Balance 346 Rep Therazane - Revered
Trinket Tia's Grace 346 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Siamat

Grace of the Herald 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Corla

Key to the Endless Chamber 346 Drop Stonecore - Corborus
2H Melee Rockslicer 346 Drop Deadmines - Ripsnarl

Berto's Staff 346 Drop unknown heroic

Seliza's Spear 346 Drop Lost City of the Tol'vir - Husam/Barim
Ranged Amber Messenger (bow) 346 Drop Blackrock Caverns - Obsidus

Lightningflash (gun) 346 Drop Vortex Pinnacle - Asaad

Kickback 5000 (gun) 346 Crafted Engineering

Overpowered Chicken Splitter (bow) 346 Crafted Engineering

Ranged weapons

The DPS difference between all of our ilvl 346 ranged weapons is very, very small, and really any of these should suit you just fine as you enter the raiding scene. As always, trolls will want to use bows and dwarves will want to use real ranged weapons -- which is to say guns.

Don't forget to toss on the awesome new Gnomish X-Ray Scope.

Use your justice points

The gear that you can purchase with justice points is always a perfectly acceptable item for that slot; they all made it to the top of the short list, even if there's something that might technically be a tiny bit better. In general, you'll want to use your justice points to prop up gear slots where you've been unlucky with drops. So rather than spending all of your justice points as soon as you get them, instead save them up (without capping out on them), and use them for the slots for which you haven't been getting the good drops.

You'll definitely want to pursue those slots without a justice point option first. After all, if you don't get Balker's Waders to drop for your leg slot, you can always purchase equivalent legs. But if you don't get your trinket drops, you just won't have ilvl 346 trinkets to use as you enter raid content.

Tol Barad

You might also want to consider some Tol Barad rep items. This is technically a PvP reward; however, they also have a bunch of daily quests you can do while your faction controls Tol Barad (and others available whether you hold it or not). These are available through the Baradin's Wardens (alliance) or Hellscream's Reach (horde) factions.

Tol Barad offers some nice rewards, including a 2-handed weapon, a trinket, and a crossbow. However, none of them are superior to the items on this list (sadly the epic trinket reward averages worse than the top couple of ilvl 346 trinkets), though they are certainly comparable. So this isn't a faction that you should feel the need to grind, but if you're into PvP and doing the Tol Barad fight when it comes up anyway, it's an alternative source of items for some slots.
 
142.Spiritual Guidance: Early Cataclysm for shadow priests

 

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. The cataclysm is now, and Fox Van Allen demands you take sides! Do you stand with Team Fox in rejecting gnome shadow priest alts for now and all eternity, or do you, like, have a stupid little tea party with gnomes, sparkles, and fairies vomiting rainbows all over the damn place?

Cataclysm is here! Cataclysm is here! That's not exactly anything new, though -- it's been here for at least 36 hours now. Which means, of course, that I've been awake for well over 36 hours, playing World of Warcraft the whole time. Here are some fun facts about my current state that I've been able to glean from the internet:
  • After 17 hours without sleep, people behave similarly on tests as those with blood alcohol levels of 0.05.
  • After 21 hours, people test similarly to those with blood alcohol levels of 0.08.
  • Minor halluncinations typically begin after 36 hours, with visual hallucinations appearing at around hour 60.
But hey, I know you're not here to listen to me babble about what appliances in my house keep talking to me and what they keep saying. You're here because you're doing the same thing I am -- feverishly leveling that shadow priest of yours from 80 to 85, and quite possibly, starting a new goblin or worgen. And you want information. How exactly do these shadow priests work in Cataclysm?

That's what this column is all about: all the basic information you'll want to know for that epic grind to level 85.



Job number one: Reset your talent tree for leveling

Yesterday's release of Cataclysm -- not patch 4.0.1, not patch 4.0.3, not patch 4.0.3a, but real, honest-to-goodness, full release Cataclysm -- means the focus for players sitting at the old level cap of 80 has changed. The game is no longer about running Wrath dailies, running Wrath heroics, and kingslaying. It's about leveling. A new focus means a new talent tree editing.

This talent tree build represents what I consider to be the best talent tree for Cataclysm leveling. It sacrifices points in Improved Mind Blast to put points in Paralysis. The latter talent is essential for speedy, efficient solo leveling; when combined with a strong "leveling" rotation, it all but guarantees that mobs will be dead before they reach you. (More on that rotation later.)

Once you start leveling, your first priority is going to be to dive deeper into the discipline tree to take two points' worth of Evangelism (at levels 81 and 82), and then one point worth of Archangel at level 83. These two set you up for both stronger DPS and a healthier mana pool, making them must-haves. The level 84 talent point is not of much consequence -- put it into whichever talent seems most valuable to you (either Improved Mind Blast, Inner Sanctum, or Mental Agility).

Once you've hit that magical level 85 and feel the need to start running heroics, you may want to revisit your talent tree one more time (hope you have gold saved up!). Silence is incredibly valuable to have in Cataclysm heroics, and Psychic Scream can be glyphed to provide some serious (and safe) crowd control. Paralysis largely loses its value in heroics, so we can cannibalize points from there. This level 85 tree represents a pretty good starting point for your level 85 heroic-running build -- feel free to tweak it as you prefer.

Did you just start a new goblin or worgen? You may want to check out last week's column, which helps you decide what talents to take when.

Reset your glyphs for leveling

I covered glyphs here in Spiritual Guidance a few months ago, if you want some more detailed information. For those who are leveling, there are a few must-have glyphs:

  • Glyph of Dispersion Fast mana regen is key to efficient leveling and strong heroic performance -- much more so than any DPS talent. Dispersion is better than sitting to drink, right?
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Death In Cataclysm, mana regen and strong DPS revolves around Shadow Word: Death. It's your strongest spell (if cast when your enemy is under 25 percent health), and when it connects for a kill, can proc Spirit Tap for huge amounts of mana regen (if you take the glyph below). This glyph gives you a "do over" if your first attempt at a kill through Shadow Word: Death fails without having to wait out the cooldown timer. Definitely take it for leveling; consider keeping it for heroics.
  • Glyph of Spirit Tap On some servers, this glyph is nastily expensive. But there's good reason behind the cost -- it's a really valuable glyph for us shadow priests during the leveling process. It allows us to get a significant amount of mana back through Spirit Tap when we successfully kill a foe (that gives experience or honor) with Shadow Word: Death.
  • Glyph of Inner Fire To be sure, the benefit you get from the Glyph of Inner Fire is modest -- it cuts the amount of physical damage you wind up taking by maybe 3 percent. Still, that's probably more useful than your other major glyph choices for leveling.
  • Glyph of Psychic Scream If you get overwhelmed while soloing, or even while running instances, crowd control can be a lifesaver. The standard version of Psychic Scream sends enemies scattering in fear, which often results in aggroing extra mobs you're ill equipped to handle. By taking away enemies' ability to run when feared, this glyph turns a once-dangerous last-ditch spell into an anytime shot of crowd control. It's great for soloing and great for instances.

Those are the key leveling glyphs -- two prime and three major. They also work extremely well for running Cataclysm heroics. Your final prime slot is best resolved for either Glyph of Mind Flay or Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain. As for your minor glyphs, they're still as cosmetic as ever -- just keep whatever you had set in Wrath.

Know your new stat priorities

The last time we talked about stat priorities, patch 4.0.1 had just come out. A lot has changed since then -- most notably, mastery has been buffed and Shadow Word: Death has been nerfed.

In a moment, I'll provide you with some basic pseudopower numbers, which will be helpful for choosing gear at level 85. Before I do, however, I want to remind you that these numbers are not etched in stone; stat values fluctuate based on your current gear. Between my own playing around with SimulationCraft and what's available thanks to testers at Shadowpriest.com, I've come up with the following preliminary numbers for post-4.0.3a play:

1 intellect = 1.00 PP (standardized)
1 spellpower = 0.79 PP
1 haste = 0.50 PP
1 critical strike = 0.40 PP
1 mastery = 0.39 PP
1 spirit = 1 hit = 0.37 PP (for each point under the hit cap)
Note that these numbers apply for level 85 players only. Yes, spirit and hit look surprisingly (and suspiciously!) weak when compared to the rest of the stats. There's a chance these numbers could be off -- if you're interested in deeper specifics about this, check out Shadowpriest.com. Until that debate is settled, though, here's what you should keep in mind:

  • There's no need to stack hit until you're ready to raid. In the final days of Wrath, you needed a hit rating of 446 to be guaranteed a hit against a raid boss (420 for draenei). Once you start leveling in Vashj'ir and Hyjal, you can be guaranteed a hit on virtually every mob with less than half that. Don't worry about the debate over hit until you're ready to raid.
  • Focus on stat priority, not stat weighting. If you take nothing else away from this section, take away this: Intellect is more important than spellpower, which is more important than haste, which is more important than crit, mastery, and hit (the three of which are valued approximately the same).

There's a new hit cap in town

Remember, the amount of hit you need to be "capped" varies depending on your level -- each time you level, you'll need more hit. At level 80, it takes a mere 446 to be capped to the point where you're guaranteed a hit against a boss. At level 85, it takes 102.4 points of hit to raise your chance to hit by 1 percent. This means you'll need 1,741 points of hit to be guaranteed that every spell cast lands against a raid boss. Draenei need a mere 1,639.

Remember, Twisted Faith will convert your spirit (gained from items or effects) to hit. The important "hit chance" number will be found under the Spell tab in your stats, and not the Melee or Ranged tabs.

Reforge to buff haste and critical strike

As I mentioned above, hit is far less important during the leveling process. If you want hits to land extra hard against your foes while leveling in Vashj'ir and Hyjal, go ahead and convert a solid chunk of your hit and spirit to haste and critical strike, if you can.

If you want more information on reforging in general, check out this summary by WoW Insider's own Gregg Reece.

Meet your Cataclysm gem lineup

With each new expansion, a number of new gems are introduced, and Cataclysm is no exception. While the tried and true Wrath gems will always be an option for those on a budget, if you're looking for the most powerful gems and have the money to spend, these are the top-of-the-line Cataclysm gems to keep and eye out for:

  • Brilliant Carnelians are the red gems that buff your intellect. The standard version, Brilliant Carnelian, gives you 30 points of intellect. The Perfect Brilliant Carnelian gem will give you 35 points, and the Brilliant Perfect Carnelian gem will give you +40 intellect. Remember that gems will command high prices in the early days of Cataclysm, so unless you're gearing for progression raiding, skip the Brilliant Perfect Carnelian cut in favor of the cheaper +30 and +35 versions. And, of course, Runed Cardinal Rubies will always be an option if you're exceptionally money-concious. Given the value of intellect above all other stats, you'll probably want to fill every slot you can with a red intellect gem, regardless of slot color or bonus.
  • Reckless Hessonites are the orange gems that buff your intellect and haste. If you're in need to fill a yellow gem slot for an especially valuable slot or meta gem bonus, then the plus 15 intellect and 15 haste Reckless Hessonite is the way to go. Remember, though, you're likely to get more mileage out of putting a Brilliant Carnelian in pretty much every slot.
  • Purified Nightstones are the purple gems that buff your intellect and spirit. These are the go-to gems for filling a blue gem slot if you're after a relatively good slot or meta gem bonus. A Purified Nightstone provides 15 intellect and 15 spirit.
  • The Ember Shadowspirit Diamond is going to be your Cataclysm meta gem of choice ... probably. The Ember Shadowspirit Diamond provides 54 valuable points of intellect and a valuable 2 percent bonus to your max mana. It requires you have two yellow gems equipped to activate, which is much less of a burden than some of the other meta gems that require "more blue gems than red gems." For those on a budget, the Insightful Earthseige Diamond (+21 intellect with a proc that gives you 600 mana) is a viable option.

New for Cataclysm: Off-hand enchants

Shadow priests are not only being treated to new, stronger gems in Cataclysm, but to new and stronger enchants as well. I won't list them all here for space reasons, but I did want to point out that you can now have your off-hand items enchanted. That's no small benefit -- Enchant Off-Hand - Superior Intellect is worth a whopping +100 intellect.

Some other notable enchants for shadow priests include Enchant Boots - Lavawalker (for a valuable run speed increase) and Enchant Weapon - Power Torrent, which has a great +500 intellect proc.


Your new Cataclysm "rotation"

Here's the meat and bones of it all -- the Cataclysm rotation. I know I've said this a lot, but it's a really important point: Once you graduate past level 80, mana regen becomes more and more of an issue. That means you'll need to be smart about your casts. Don't go around casting your full complement of DoTs on trash enemies -- things usually die too quick for DoTs to be mana-efficient. If you're soloing, rely heavily on Mind Flay, because it's your cheapest cast.

Other than that:
  • Soloing? Open with Mind Spike. Once you get to level 81, you get access to the new spell Mind Spike. Properly talented, it does two really awesome things: It reduces the cast time of your next Mind Blast by 50 percent, and it increases the crit chance of your next Mind Blast by 30 percent. These effects do stack, so casting Mind Spike as an opener twice means your next Mind Blast will be an instant cast that's more likely to crit than not. If you can, get max distance from what you want to pull, cast Mind Spike twice, and then use your instant cast Mind Blast. In the early Cataclysm leveling process, you're almost guaranteed a crit, which means you're almost guaranteed to inflict Paralysis if you've taken that talent. (Remember, Paralysis only stops movement, not attacks -- it's useless if you're still in melee range of what's paralyze.) Be careful to only use Mind Spike as an opener, though; it will extinguish any DoTs you have active on that target.
  • Don't forget Replenishment -- you'll need it. An alternative opener that works really well is Mind Spike + Vampiric Touch + Mind Blast, especially in early leveling (levels 81 and 82) when your crit rating is still high. You're still likely to cause Paralysis, but at the same time, you're starting each encounter by proccing Replenishment. The extra mana regen is great at reducing downtime.
  • Running full DoTs? Maybe not. Are you battling a boss? Then you should try to keep your DoT spells -- Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch, and Devouring Plauge -- up as much as possible. If you're not fighting a boss, applying all three DoTs is usually a huge waste of mana. Vampiric Touch gives you the biggest bang for your mana buck on short fights, so if you choose only one, make it VT.
  • Abuse your cooldowns. There are two cooldowns you're going to be very familiar with: the one on your shadowfiend, and the one on Archangel. Both of these offer you a large amount of mana regen (shadowfiend is mana regen over time; Archangel provides an instant chunk of mana). If you're not at max mana, use the cooldown ASAP.
  • New Mind Blast rule: 3 orbs or 15 seconds, whichever comes first. The bolded part says it all: In an extended encounter, you should only cast Mind Blast when you have three orbs active or to refresh Replenishment or Mind Blast.
  • Try to land the killing blow with Shadow Word: Death every time. With the Glyph of Spirit Tap, Shadow Word: Death becomes a key mana regen tool. This holds true regardless of level -- it's the shadow priest's new best friend.
 
143.Breakfast Topic: Not my rainbow gear!


Blizzard attempted to change the leveling process on many fronts -- easier XP, quests for dungeons at the beginning of said dungeon, and better quest flow. One of the more lively changes was quest loot being given more useful stats -- and more importantly, being made part of an overall more "matching" set. This meant that people who predominantly quest will find themselves looking put together, rather than wearing whatever scraps of material they roll over while trying to collect 20 bear bottoms. The sets may not always work with random "- of the X" drops, but overall, they look nicer and have a easily identifiable style and color scheme.

I'm quite impressed with this change. The strange mish-mash of leveling gear from questing was not only hideous to look at, it never matched and often had really terrible models with garish textures. The new questing gear looks regal and not prone to as much strange skin-baring, either. It looks like you're moving up the ranks of badassery as you are leveling up. This is a good feature! For those who are more inclined to roleplay, it gives you access to some easy outfits that you can wear around Stormwind or Ogrimmar and look trendy.

While I know this trend is going to stop dead in its tracks at Outland (which I will overcome by putting my heirloom gear back on), it is fun to see it present in the Azeroth leveling experience and further on in Cataclysm content. Are you happy about this change, or do you feel that the garish clown vomit outfits of years past were essential to people's game before the level cap?

Will you miss mismatched clown armor during leveling?

 
144.Online-chat will be offline for one hour
Our online-chat will be offline for one hour because of the cut-off of  the power. And we will be back for serving soon! We do apologize for any inconvenience we may cause!
 
145.Cataclysm Midnight Launch Event Tonight - Join Us!

Join us at 9 p.m. PST on Monday, December 6 at the Fountain Valley Fry’s Electronics in Southern California for the Cataclysm midnight launch. Help us celebrate the dawn of a new age with the powerful music of The Artists Formerly Known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain, an epic /dance competition, autographs from the development team, and more.

The party begins at 9 p.m. so be sure to arrive early, and get your copy* signed by the developers when the store opens at midnight on December 7.

If you don’t live close enough to Southern California to make it, don’t worry -- there are other select retail locations opening at midnight around North America to celebrate the launch of Cataclysm. For a list of participating stores, check out the websites below:

GameStop
Best Buy
Walmart

 
146.Countdown to Cataclysm: Profession updates and changes

 

This article is part of our Countdown to Cataclysm series -- preparing you for Cataclysm launch one day at a time.

Cataclysm
is going to change the world of professions -- so without any further ado, here are the most important changes.

General
  • The skill cap for all professions is now 525.
  • There is a lot of content locked behind a phased area you can not unlock until you're level 84.
  • The new elemental trade goods are called Volatiles.
  • Herbing and mining now provide experience.
  • Archeology will be trainable.
  • Guilds can see links for all members' available professions.


Mining
  • The new zones contain new ores: Obsidium is the new common ore, Elementium is the new uncommon ore, and Pyrite is the new rare ore.
  • Toughness is upgraded, but it's still pretty terrible for non-tanks.

Herbalism
  • The new zones will contain new types of herbs. In order of ascending skill required to gather, they are: Cinderbloom, Azshara's Veil, Heartblossom, Whiptail, and Twilight Jasmine. There are no more super-rare herbs like Frost Lotus; now, that part of the market is being filled by Volatile Life.
  • Surprise! Lifeblood went from being a situational (at best) self heal to being a pretty awesome haste cooldown!

Skinning
  • 80 crit rating from the new rank of Master of Anatomy still sucks compared to the profession bonus of every single other trade skill.
  • The new leather is called Savage Leather, and leatherworkers can make the heavy version.
  • The scraps can be turned into Savage Leather by anyone, but there is a leatherworker recipe that awards skillups.
  • The new rare leather, Pristine Hide, is much less rare than Arctic Fur.
  • There are new scales: Deepsea and Blackened Dragonscale.

Enchanting
  • The new enchanting toy for Alliance players is a Magic Lamp (or Enchanted Lantern for the Hordies).
  • Enchanting armor still makes it kick more butt, but weapon enchants are almost all proc-based.
  • Cataclysm greens require as little as 425 or as much as 475 enchanting skill to disenchant.
  • The new mats are Celestial Essences, Hypnotic Dust, and the Maelstrom Crystal (from DEing epics) and Heavenly Shard (from DEing blues).
  • Leatherworking or tailoring look like they will be able to produce the cheapest craftables for disenchanting, unless Blizzard changes the amount they let people vendor green gems for.

Engineering
  • Never short on non-combat pets, engineers get another: a tiny blue fel reaver called the Personal World Destroyer.
  • Tinkers stack with enchants, and there are a ton of them.
  • Engineers with a gathering skill (and only those with a gathering skill) can proc free Volatile Air with the Electrostatic Condenser. The rest of us are screwed.
  • There are now a variety of cool things we can choose to put on our guns made by engineers.
  • You will need to make a High-Powered Bolt Gun to use as a tool for other parts of the profession. It's ranged, it's targeted, and it takes Obsidium Bolts, but I'll be damned if this isn't what makes me level an engineer.
  • Oh wait, no, that was the Loot-A-Rang.

Jewelcrafting
  • We know that all Cataclysm gems will have a minimum gear level into which they'll be able to be socketed. Also, the cut greens from Cataclysm will have as much itemization as cut epics from Wrath of the Lich King.
  • The new JC-exclusive gems are cut from Chimera's Eyes, which are bought with daily tokens from the capital city vendors or randomly dropped when you break a Fire Prism, which is the new Icy Prism.
  • There is a ton of blue gear that can be crafted by JCers.
  • Cut green gems vendor for 9g. Prospecting and vendoring alone will set a minimum vendor value on a stack of ore, depending on the prospecting average yield. For example: If a stack of ore on average gives us six green gems, these gems can be cut and vendored for 9g each, which means you will only ever find ore for less than 54g if a jewelcrafter hasn't logged in since it was posted.
  • There is only one meta gem, and it's called the Shadowspirit Diamond. The only source for them is the alchemy transmute, and at an opportunity cost of 9g per green gem, these will cost 81g each, uncut (before the 20 percent alchemy transmute procs).

Blacksmithing
  • Leveling blacksmithing is going to be expensive. The minimum price for an Obsidium Bar is going to be 5.4g (see above -- 54g per stack of ore, two ore per bar). Nobody's done any research on prospecting Elementium Ore yet, but assuming it's similar to this expansion and will yield the same quantity of greens with a bonus to blue gem yield, it'll have an even higher minimum price.
  • Multi-point recipes are important for leveling this profession, unlike many others for which the cheapest path to 525 is with single skill-up recipes.
  • Since the cost for ore is probably going to level off higher than the cost for an equivalent amount of leather, blacksmithing has basically lost its position as the trade skill that makes the cheapest gear for disenchanting.
  • The new belt buckle is only craftable at level 84 with 525 skill, and the old belt buckle will not work on any gear above ilvl299.
  • The majority of new content for smiths is crafting entry-level gear, most of which is locked behind the level 84 phased area of Twilight Highlands.

Alchemy
  • Alchemy is going to be a feeder profession for many other crafting skills because of all the transmutes it can do. You can turn Volatile Life into a random other volatile (on a cooldown), you can transmute blue quality gems (currently no cooldown on this transmute, but we'll see what happens after the launch), and you can transmute Truegold on a one-day cooldown and Pyrium bars (cooldown probably 20 hours, not sure whether it's shared).
  • You can max out alchemy without getting to the Twilight Highlands' phased vendors.
  • Potions and flasks are like the old versions, except more awesome.
  • There are, however, a bunch of things that are completely new, like the Potion of Treasure Finding, Potion of Deepholm, and the Big Cauldron of Battle.
  • Of course, the one thing everyone already knows about is the mount.

Tailoring
  • I've covered this before.
  • Remember to do your weekly cooldowns.
  • Cloth may or may not fall down in price low enough to be worth using to make gear for disenchanting.
  • There's no equivalent to Northrend Cloth Scavenging, and no testing that I know of that demonstrated this the Northrend version works in the Cataclysm zones.

Leatherworking
  • Apparently, leveling this takes a lot of Volatile Fires.
  • Like blacksmithing and tailoring, you will need to get to level 84 to access the final vendors for leatherworking in Twilight Highlands.
  • You can make a lot of gear for rogues, shaman, druids, and hunters.
  • The new leg armor for agility-based raiders is the Charscale Leg Armor.
  • Leatherworkers can turn between seven regular leather and some vendor parts into a low-level green that can be disenchanted. Right now, this is the cheapest way to get enchanting mats, unless the drop rate of cloth is much higher than it was in beta, or unless the vendor value of a stack of ore gets nerfed.

Inscription
  • I've written about this as well.
  • When the expansion launches, you'll want to check out this list for the trainable recipes under 450.
  • All the new glyphs are now available through various means (as of patch 4.0.3a), so check your book for missing recipes.
  • The only thing standing between you and 525 skill for inscription is an absolutely enormous pile of herbs.

Cooking
  • There's all kinds of new goodies from cooking, including a fishing lure, some RP nonsense, and a Fortune Cookie that presumably gives you 90 of your highest stat when you eat it.
  • There's a new fish feast.

Fishing
  • Nobody should ever level fishing because of how tedious and ridiculous the process of getting to 450 is.
  • Apparently, getting past 450 was only taking 10 casts per point on average in beta.
  • There are also fishing dailies now.
  • For the love of all that is good and holy, don't level fishing.

First aid
  • Oh look, more bandages. Nothing that interesting yet.
 
147.The Queue: Don't care

 

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Mike Sacco will be your host today.
Don't care that I've used that image before while traveling. You guys want Queues, by golly, you can deal with a repeat image every now and then. No sass!

Jacob Kuntzman asked:

I keep seeing and hearing that Hyjal and Vashj'ir will be level 80-82 zones. Is this right? Is Blizzard breaking from their previous pattern of offering the new batch of content to those two levels under? Outland at 58, Northrend at 68 ... So are the quests in Hyjal and Vashj'ir not offered at 78?

This is correct. You can only quest in Hyjal and Vashj'ir at 80. I can't speak as to the reasoning, but I assume it has something to do with the desired challenge for level 80 players in those zones. Values would either be too high for 78s or too easy for 80s.

MikeLive asked:


Regarding characters on the loading screens, why is it the faction leaders of all the races, and a random worgen and goblin from early concept art? Why not have Greymane and Gallywix?

I saw Blizzard artists working on official Gallywix and Greymane art at BlizzCon, so it's possible it's not too far off and the generic worgo/gobbo pics are just placeholders.

Mansackus asked:

Let me apologize in advance if this has already been asked. With Ragnaros moving to the Firelands in Cataclysm, will Molten Core be removed from the game? I ask because I have not been playing WoW for very long and I'm a somewhat casual player but I've always wanted to do Molten Core. My guildmates are also pretty casual though, so we never pull our stuff together enough to actually run it. I'd be bummed if I missed my chance to do this classic raid.

Anyone who wants to go back to that boring orange hellhole in Cataclysm will find it's the same boring orange hellhole it's always been.

bluephoenix1814 asked:

Why does no one ever talk about troll warlocks (trollocks)? What is their backstory? They don't even show up on the class matrix list and I'm playing one right now.

New race/class combos are divided into several types, such as the ones below:
  • Existed but unplayable previously blood elf warriors, dwarf shaman, night elf mages
  • The best of possible options for expanding a class with low representation troll druids, tauren paladins
  • Ones that just kind of fit without explanation and we kind of wonder why they weren't around before troll warlocks

Have questions about the World of Warcraft? The WoW Insider crew is here with The Queue, our daily Q&A column. Leave your questions in the comments, and we'll do our best to answer 'em!
 
148.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
149.WoW Rookie: Cataclysm dwarf starting area

 


Note: This introduction was performed on a dwarf shaman. Some details may be a little different if you play another class.

When you begin a brand new dwarf, you see a rugged-looking dwarf opening a can of buckshot all over some Rockjaw Invaders. As soon as you talk to him, he congratulates you on being a stout, tough example of dwarven kind. Joren Ironstock tells you that he needs your help to Hold the Line! An earthquake in Coldridge Valley has riled up the troggs and they're attacking the dwarves. Kill six of the Rockjaw Invaders.

Once you've accomplished that, it will be your task to visit the trogg leaders and Give 'em What-For. The Rockjaw Goons down in the valley are the closest thing the troggs have to leaders, so you need to go kill three. Doesn't take long. While you're doing that, though, Sten Stoutarm wants you to also provide Aid for the Wounded. You do this by right-clicking the bandage provided by the quest. It's not immediately obvious that this is the technique, since the bandage in your backpack doesn't explicitly say so.

Once you've healed up some dwarves and killed the goons, Joren will send you inside the hold to talk to his wife, Jona Ironstock. Jona is a woman of integrity and priorities. When you talk to her, she lets you know in no uncertain terms that "First Things First: We're Gonna Need Some Beer." You should grab the nearby quest to pick up some Dwarven Artifacts at the same time, so that you can minimize the amount of running around you must do. To complete these quests, follow the road west out of Anvilmar; two of the large beer casks are fairly obvious from the road, and the artifacts are buried in sparkling snow piles along the way. The third beer cask (for Gnomenbrau) is actually on the east of Anvilmar, next to the graveyard.

When you turn in these quests, Jona will acknowledge that maybe you should go out and get All the Other Stuff. You know, like food. At the same time, Grundel will want you to Make Hay While the Sun Shines by grabbing up trogg artifacts in the southwest. To complete these quests, go back out the front door of Anvilmar and meander along the road. Kill boars and wolves whenever they appear while you move to grab the trogg artifacts. Even though Grundel implies that you might find the trogg artifacts sticking out of the ground, you'll have to kill the little troggs to get them. It doesn't take long -- the troggs actually throw the artifacts at you as an attack! When you return the quests, Jona tells you that "Whitebeard Needs Ye!"

You can find Grelin Whitebeard in the far southwest of Coldridge Valley, hanging out in a little tent area. The work he needs you for is fairly straightforward. You're going to help Whitebeard handle The Troll Menace. At the same time, Apprentice Soren wants you to go Trolling for Information. Felix Whindlebolt also needs you to help him find stuff he left in the troll camps, which is a pretty classic Refugee's Quandary. Here's how you do all three quests at the same time.

Go exactly west from Whitebeard's camp. This is the first camp to plunder. Go inside the tent first to listen to the soothsayer. On your way out of the tent, kill everything. Felix's Box is right outside the tent door. Once you've killed a few troll whelps and picked up Felix's Box, you're done here. Move southeast around the edge of the valley basin. The next troll camp is more or less due south and slightly east of the first one. Once again, go inside the tent to hear the soothsayer, step outside the tent to grab Felix's Chest. And then kill everything in reach. From the second camp, go due east to pick up Felix's Bucket of Bolts and listen to the last soothsayer. If you still need to kill more whelps, do so now. Otherwise, return to Whitebeard's camp.

With all the information now on file, Whitebeard sends you back into troll country to handle Ice and Fire. Grik'nir the Cold is hiding out in the troll cave to the southeast of Whitebeard's camp. Go into the cave, kill Grik'nir, 10 of his cronies, and the fire elemental. Since all the mobs are neutral in the cave, they won't attack unless you attack first. That makes this quest relatively safe and easy, although it can take a while due to running through the labyrinthine cave. Once you've defeated Grik'nir, the elemental, and the cronies, return to Whitebeard.

Whitebeard is understandably concerned by the presence of a fire elemental. He entreats you to take A Trip to Ironforge and report to Hands Springsprocket. Unfortunately, just as you're about to go through a cave to get to Ironforge, the whole thing crumbles. That's OK -- Hands has a plan and sends you back to Anvilmar to Follow that Gyro-Copter! Run back down the road to Milo Geartwinge. He's going to fly you to Kharanos, but you need to Pack Your Bags first. All of the items for this quest are sitting inside Anvilmar; just pick them up as you normally would. On your way out of Anvilmar, though, Jona reminds you to Don't Forget About Us.

When you turn in the quest to Milo, you're placed on a gyro-copter and flown to Kharanos. Along the way, Milo will use the radio to fill you in on the most recent trouble to Azeroth.

 
150.Drama Mamas: Control freak



We continue to receive the results of advice that we have given over the course of this column. But we're greedy and we want more! If we have answered a letter from you and you want to participate in our roundup column, please email us at DramaMamas@wow.com.

We received the following letter a couple of months ago. It is impossible for us to answer every letter in a timely fashion, unfortunately. Still, we hope that this can still be of some help. Note: "Control Freak" was the subject of the letter writer's email and that's why we chose it as the title, not to be judgmental.
Hi Mamas,

I write to you with an issue that is very close to my heart. It deals with the very essence of my personality, so please don't be too harsh with me.

I'm a control freak. I can't help it. I have to know what's going on, by whom, when it's happening, how it's happening, why it's happening, etc.

This wasn't an issue when I was an officer of our guild. Our guild is very tight and I like to think I handled my role well, by always knowing the plans for the weeks ahead. I would always know who would and wouldn't be attending raids and why; what strats we would use and why the old one would being scrapped. I'd make conversation with everyone in the guild and be personable as it made my job easier and everyone friendlier. However, through a series of events that's too long to go into, we're now under a new guild tag with a lot of the same people -- but under new management.

Now I am a regular raider. I am no longer privy to the basic information I used to have at my fingertips. I feel so uneasy when the raid forms and it's not the usual raid. I can't help but ask, "Raider1's not here, we're short a healer? Who's healing instead? Does that mean we're still going for heroic sindy tonight? What are we doing instead?"

Of course, the leaders already have it all under control, but I feel so helpless not knowing in advance! If something happens in the raid that doesn't make sense to me, I speak up, in case it's an error (because it has happened in the past). For example, a resto shammy was awarded enhancement gear as he was enhancement for that particular fight. This isn't our usual loot rule so I questioned what was going on. After a relatively short (slightly heated) discussion, our leader says, "Will you just trust me! I have it under control!"

Obviously, my questioning is getting on people's nerves, but they're too nice to say so. Our leader apologized to me for snapping, and I assured her that I wasn't trying to question her authority -- just understand what was going on. Can you help me find a happy medium? When is it OK to ask questions about things? And above all, when should I just learn to bite my tongue, swallow my anxiety and let the leaders do their thing? In case it's not obvious by now, I feel very strongly about this. Just staying quiet when I'm bursting to ask, or when I want to give someone a suggestion, is one of the hardest things for me to do.

Sincerely awaiting your advice,

Replaced

Drama Mama Robin: Replaced, I've been there. Not in WoW, mind you, but for many years I wanted to "help" by pointing out inconsistencies and verifying information and otherwise coming off as a picky, know-it-all, pain-in-the-butt. I still struggle with it. We have the best intentions, but make no mistake: we come off as picky, know-it-all, pain-in-the-butts. Here are a few things I've tried to help me relax when I'm stressing about the details I can't control::
  • Never question in public. If you can't help yourself and absolutely have to ask questions about the situation, please never, ever, ever question the leaders in raid, guild or any other public chat. Keep your questions to whispers so that the leader can answer on his own terms. Otherwise, you are shaming and disrespecting the leadership -- whether you mean to or not.
  • Keep a journal. You seem to have overall confidence in your new raid leadership, but are just fretting over the details. The best way to quiet your mind is to collect hard data. Record all of your questions that are bothering you. All those things you ask in your letter, ask them in your journal and then wait and see how they play out. Once you get the answers to your questions (from what happens, not from asking), write them down. Over time, you will see a trend. Are the raids actually going smoothly, with most of the details worked out in a timely manner even without your input? If yes, you should be able to relax a bit more, referring to your hard data as needed. If not, you know to offer your services to the leadership or move to a different guild (and start all over again as a non-leader).
  • Practice some relaxation techniques. Yeah, yeah, I'm a hippie. But doctors and therapists really believe in relaxation therapy as well. If you're stressing out over these things you can't control, then try breathing through it. Here are some breathing exercises to try, or go for yoga breathing or a Tai Chi method or whatever. Breathing is good and it really does help.
  • Accept your position. If you truly accept the fact that you are not in control and aren't going to be in control (particularly if you keep questioning the leadership), it can be a relaxing experience. Being a cog is definitely less stressful. You have no responsibilities except for your own words and actions -- the only things you can truly control. Try to let go and embrace your lack of responsibility.
  • Focus on you. Be the best raider you can be. Work on improvements for your rotation, your UI, your reactions -- we all can do things to get better. Focus on your preparation and performance and you'll have less time to worry about what the leaders are and aren't doing.
I really think that if i can do it (most of the time), then you can too. Good luck!

Drama Mama Lisa: As always, Robin has some wonderful ideas. I've spent the past few weeks helping one child maintain his sanity through an accelerated driver's ed course and the other pick her way through high-pressure classical piano competitions over an entire month's worth of weekends -- so right now, I'm in Keeping It Real mode. Here's what I would tell my kids if they came to me with a similar dilemma:

You know what to do. You're telling us outright that you know what the problem is, you know how you're contributing to it, and you know that you need to change your behavior.

Yes, this situation is hard. It's uncomfortable. You'd like a way not to make the way you feel now easier to take. Your new role is not going away, though -- and like driver's ed and piano competitions, if you want the license or the prize at the end (an enjoyable guild experience!), you've got to buck up and do what's required. For you, this means being a good guild member, not a good guild leader. Think about what you appreciated about guild members back when you were a leader. Be that guild member, not only in what you do not do but also in what you do do.

I say to you then, Control Freak: take control! You're no control freak at all if you're not controlling the one thing you can control best: you.

Time to get busy!
 
151.4.0.3a hotfixes for Dec. 2

Patch

That's right, it's time for another round of hotfixes for our game going into the last weekend of Wrath of the Lich King. So, you may ask, what's been fixed? Well, for starters, we'll take a look at some highlights. Then we'll have the complete list after the break.

Patch 4.0.3a Hotfixes
  • Players can no longer skin Crushcog Sentry-Bots or Crushcog Battle Suits in Dun Morogh... because they don't have skin.
  • Stats on the Weather-Beaten Fishing Hat have been reduced, as it can currently be equipped by players of all levels.
  • Crafty players again found a way to catch Cataclysm fish. Crafty designers have made this impossible without a Cataclysm key attached to a player's account.

source

There's a lot more than fishing issues to discuss, of course. But I thought those were the most amusing.

And here are the complete hotfixes for your edification. I found it interesting that despite doing quite a bit of PvP, I hadn't even noticed the Spirit of Redemption bug. Maybe that's because I seem to be horrible at killing priests.

 

 
152.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
153.WoW Moviewatch: Deathly Squares

 

Sometimes, you can't be quite sure whether it's the main boss of a new expansion that's frightening everyone, or maybe just the new expansion itself. While I'm not sure that was his intent, Bonkey certainly captured that dynamic with Deathly Squares. It's Bonkey's contest entry into the Cataclysm commercial contest, and it includes some help from Jesse O'Connor and Paus. Like all of the commercial contest videos, Deathly Squares is very brief. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at machinima@wow.com
 
154.Breakfast Topic: What zones have been shattered for the better?


Astride my tauren paladin's newly obtained Sunwalker Kodo, I headed toward the Mor'Shan Rampart and into one of my least favorite zones, Ashenvale. It was supposed to be a contested zone in the old world, where Horde and Alliance vied for control of the zone. Instead, all I remembered was running from Splintertree Post to the Zoram'gar Outpost and avoiding Astranaar, the only possible point of PvP (since I'm on a PvE server). This was all prior to mounts being available at 20.

Needless to say, even with the shattering of the world, I expected more of the same. Needless to say, I was wrong.

At the Rampart, where before you would walk right through the main entrance (or slip through the hole in the gate if you were Alliance), there is intense combat between Horde and Alliance. The first few quests of new Ashenvale throw you directly into the fray. I thought, "Wow, this is the way this zone should have been all along." Questing throughout the zone only serves to enhance this feeling, and I must give props to Blizzard because its ability to tell a story, no matter how short or long, has improved since the beginning of Wrath, let alone the life of WoW. Ashenvale has been transformed from one of my least favorite zones to one of my favorites.

Fellow citizens of Azeroth, what zones for you have been shattered for the better?
 
155.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
 The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
156.15 Minutes of Fame: In search of fascinating players

 

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

We're looking for fascinating people! 15 Minutes of Fame is on the lookout for people who've managed to work WoW into or around their lives or play the game in new and interesting ways. Know someone who fits the bill? Is there a type of player you'd like to hear more about? Tell us!

I know this guy ... Know someone exceptional? It could be someone who plays the game in an interesting way or has achieved remarkable goals in game, or it could be someone who does something interesting outside of the game and manages to bring those ideas and perspectives to the game. Maybe you don't know this player personally, but you know about their accomplishments in game or out and are curious to learn more about their approach to World of Warcraft. Tip us off -- maybe we'll feature your nominee! Tell us in one paragraph what makes your nominee a remarkable WoW player. (We've met a lot of inspirational guild leaders in our time; if you're going to nominate a GM, give us specific examples of what makes this leader stand out from so many others.) Send us your tips, including a way or at least an idea of how to reach your nominee, to lisa@wowinsider.com.

Looking for members Is your guild planning to hit Cataclysm content completely blind -- no spoilers, no strats, no foreknowledge of what's to come? We want to hear from you! But wait -- blind raiders are far from the only players we're searching for. We're looking for a whole host of different types of players for a possible turn in the 15 Minutes of Fame spotlight. Hit the jump to find out if you might know (or be!) any of the players we're currently seeking.

Tell us about these people!

15 Minutes of Fame is searching for players who bring fresh ideas and energy to World of Warcraft. Do you know anyone who fits these profiles?
  • The blind raider No, we're not talking about visually impaired players. Is your guild heading into Cataclysm completely blind -- no spoilers, no strats, no foreknowledge of what's to come?
  • The home decorator Some people just can't help showing their Horde, Alliance or overall Azerothian pride. Do you know someone whose home bears makes more than passing reference to Azeroth?
  • The straight A student WoW players are notorious for letting their grades slip. Are you a high school raider whose GPA is as impressive as your GearScore?
  • The charitable type We've all heard of Child's Play, the gaming industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games. Do you know anyone who's come up with another way to use WoW to raise funds for a charitable cause?
  • The kiting king We know they're out there -- players who see every new NPC as an opportunity in kiting. Tell us about your most impressive feats of kiting!
  • The student of WoW We know that WoW's made it into college and even high school curricula -- but all we've heard so far is the teacher's side. Psst, students -- gotta log out and go to your WoW class now? Tell us more!
  • The success story Are you an artist, blogger, designer, modder or other WoW hobbyist whose WoW-centric projects have helped catapult you into your chosen profession?
  • The old hand We're looking for an A-team raider who's 60+ years old and still doing hard modes with the best of them.
  • The guild "mom" You know this player: the gal (or guy) who keeps everyone's morale high and keeps things behind the scenes humming along.
  • The battle-scarred veteran Who taught you the ropes in the arena? We want to talk to your battle-hardened mentor.
  • The counselor Any counselors or mental health professionals out there who use WoW and/or gaming as an explorative or therapeutic tool?
  • The level 80 collector How many level 80s is enough? Is there such a thing as too many 80s? How many do you have?
  • The face of WoW past We've all heard about retro raiders who freeze their levels to play in legacy content. What about players who never purchased any of the expansions at all?
  • The AH PVPer The frenzy of the trading floor is where it's at for you. Are you an auction house wheeler and dealer?

Who else in the World of Warcraft do you know who's interesting? What are your friends doing that make World of Warcraft a remarkable place to play? Tell us!

Whether you're nominating yourself or someone else, please include concrete details that let me know why this player is simply exceptional; direct contact info is a plus. You can reach me at lisa@wowinsider.com. I'm looking forward to sharing all these intriguing personalities with everyone!
 
157.The Light and How to Swing It: Leveling your new Sunwalker

 


Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Every Sunday, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email me with any questions you want answered, like how awesome tauren paladins are.

After The Shattering hit Azeroth, it was clear that the world was never going to be the same. Entire zones were torn asunder, and everyone who can take up arms to combat Deathwing has stood up to fight. The Horde recently inducted the Sunwalkers into the fold, and they're eagerly training in the way of the Light. Now players won't be stuck with blood elves when they want to play the paladin class.

If you've been on the general forums in the past few days, you've seen some of the clever names that people have come up with for their tauren paladins. Retbull (gives you wings), Skim (Light milk), and Bovinity (divine cows) were among my personal favorites. I decided to start a new tauren paladin myself, figuring I could heal my way through the low-level dungeons and try out the new starting quests and zones at the same time. It's been years since I've played a new paladin, and it was time for a refresher course.

Tossed into the fray

Blizzard has a great team that focuses on designing quests, and its ability shows itself immediately once you start your new tauren paladin. After watching the updated introduction video, you're immediately handed a mission and a mace: The former is to get killing some Bristleback Invaders, the latter is to help you accomplish the former. Your action bar has Crusader Strike already bound to button "1," and you're ready to start smashing some enemies. You make your way out onto the battlefield and get to work. Your sights focus on the first Bristleback opponent, and you hit him with a powerful Crusader Strike!

Crusader Strike, that's it

Unfortunately, this is where the story gets boring. You hit the enemy with Crusader Strike, and then you're stuck waiting through its 4.5-second cooldown before you can use it again. Your auto-attacks help, but since you're wielding such a slow mace, they are few and far between. Killing my first few mobs was slower than any other class I've played, but it wasn't so bad as to be intolerable. Luckily for us, we get some additional moves once we reach level 3, which make all of the difference in the world.

Training with dummies

Once we've learned Seal of Righteousness and Judgement from the Sunwalker trainer at camp, he gives us a special quest to test our new abilities. We apply Seal of Righteousness, which then activates Judgement, and we use it to crush a target dummy or two. This simple quest allows Blizzard to teach new paladins about the redesigned Seal and Judgement system, which is something that was previously very confusing. I was disappointed to see that the Judgement test quest was the only one of its kind for paladins, although I hope Blizzard continues to develop the idea of training players on their class abilities through quests.

No healing until later

The biggest change of paladin leveling is that we don't learn any of our healing spells until level 9, when we receive Word of Glory, and no true heals until level 14, when we obtain Holy Light. Blizzard dramatically increased life and mana regeneration for low-level characters, and you can regenerate your entire bar in just a couple of seconds when out of combat. It's such a huge increase that Blizzard actually removed water and food from the starting bags of new players, since they're not necessary anymore.

Even though we pick up holy power points from using Crusader Strike, it's simply not enough to maintain any sort of reasonable level of healing. I ended up speccing into the holy tree for Holy Shock, which proved itself useful for both dealing damage and healing other players. I waited until after level 14 to start queuing as a healer for dungeons, and it was fairly easy to use Holy Light to heal once I received it. By the time we reach level 20, we've already got Holy Light, Holy Shock, Flash of Light, and Redemption, which together make up our core healing package.

Verigan's Fist 2.0

The only other Sunwalker quest I could find came at level 20, when I was tasked with invading Shadowfang Keep and retrieving the materials required to craft a powerful weapon. I gathered the supplies from the dungeon and had myself a Mace of the Sunwalker in no time at all. This quest is the parallel to the old Verigan's Fist quest that Alliance paladins got to experience back in the day. I still remember the day I got my Verigan's. It was the first weapon that I spent the money to enchant, and everyone asked how I got my mace to sport a red glow.

Holy's DPS is weak until 31

Once you hit level 31, your new Sunwalker will get be able to put two talent points into Denounce, which reduces Exorcism's mana cost to a point where we can cast it enough times to kill several mobs. I actually had a lot of fun with using Holy Shock and Exorcism to kill mobs, and it was especially effective whenever I fought the undead, since Exorcism always crits against unholy targets. However, leveling from 10 to 30 as holy by myself was rough without Denounce, and I wouldn't recommend it. You can reach level 30 in a weekend of leveling, and so I'd suggest just waiting until level 30 to start using holy for DPS. If you want to heal dungeons, you can definitely spec into holy or even just switch to your intellect gear.
 
158.Know Your Lore: Go'el, son of Durotan


The character Thrall has been a mainstay and a highlight figure in Warcraft lore since his first appearance in Warcraft 3 and the novel Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden. We've covered Thrall and his history before on Know Your Lore, particularly in the current orc politics article, which went over the situation with Thrall and Garrosh Hellscream. Since the release of that article, certain things have been revealed that make another short look at the former Warchief of the Horde necessary.

Thrall has always been a fascinating character to myself and many others. Originally, he seemed to be designed as a simple "true hero" for the brutal orcs to follow, a beacon of honor and integrity in an otherwise incredibly violent, savage society. With Thrall, we were introduced to an orc who had the misfortune of losing both of his parents when he was just a baby, an orc raised in slavery for the amusement of Blackmoore. But a deeper look into the character revealed several intrinsic flaws with the hero that were openly explored the further we progressed into World of Warcraft's storyline.

Please note: The following article contains spoilers for The Shattering by Christie Golden. If you'd like to remain unspoiled, veer away!

The slave

As a child, he was raised by humans -- notably by Aedelas Blackmoore, who found the baby orc and saw in him an opportunity to make some easy gold via the gladiatorial rings that were popular after the Second War. He named the baby Thrall -- "slave." Thrall wasn't exposed to Blackmoore at first; he had the fortune of being raised by the Foxton family, a group of Blackmoore's servants. While just a baby at the time, Thrall was not treated unkindly. Clannia Foxton was frightened of the small, green child; her husband Tammis was also wary of the child but eager to improve his standing in Blackmoore's eyes.

However, it was their daughter Taretha who provided much of Thrall's early exposure to humankind. She never looked at him with fear; he was merely her baby brother, who happened to be an odd shade of green and looked nothing like the other humans of the encampment. Despite his strange appearance, she treated him with the utter kindness and devotion of a sister. A year later, when Blackmoore took Thrall away to begin his gladiatorial training, Taretha was upset at the loss of her baby brother, and when the opportunity presented itself to speak to him again, she took it gladly.

Thrall learned to read and write from a tutor who was kind to him, and at age six, abruptly began his training in combat. His trainer, a man simply called Sergeant, taught him of mercy and also treated him with as much kindness as he could when Blackmoore wasn't present. During this time, Sergeant had books delivered to the young orc so that he could learn about strategy and combat.
Thrall hesitated, then lifted his blue-eyed gaze. Blackmoore's eyes bored into his own. "Do you know what your name means?"

"No, sir." His voice sounded so rough and deep, even in his own ears, next to the musical lilt of the humans' voices.

"It means 'slave.' It means that you belong to me." Blackmoore stepped forward and prodded the orc's chest with a stiff forefinger. "It means that I own you. Do you understand that?" For a moment, Thrall was so shocked he didn't reply. His name meant slave? It sounded so pleasant when humans spoke it, he thought it must be a good name, a worthy name.
Taretha Foxton delivered the books that Thrall read, and she started up correspondence with Thrall via notes slipped in the tomes. She and Thrall communicated entirely through writing during the next several years. But the beatings at the hands of a drunken Blackmoore grew worse and worse. The first gladiator battle that he lost resulted in such a severe beating that Thrall finally made up his mind to escape.

Taretha helped him to do so, creating a distraction so that the orc could sneak out undetected.
"They call you a monster," she said, her voice thick again as she stepped away from him. "But they're the monsters, not you. Farewell, Thrall."
His experience with humans was far from over, but it all began with Blackmoore, Taretha, and Sergeant. At this point, he had learned that while some humans were tremendously unkind, there were many that could be trusted. He'd learned to read, write and speak in Common; he'd learned how to fight. He'd learned from the humans that he was a slave and exactly what that meant; he'd learned about mercy, honor and kindness. He was roughly 18 -- fully grown, but hardly more than a child, with only a tentative understanding of the orcish language and no real understanding of what the orcs, his people, were. But he desperately wanted to find them and find out.

The hero

Thrall traveled to the internment camps first, to see what his true people were all about. He was horrified to discover that they had all fallen under some sort of strange lethargy. The savage people he'd read about in books were apparently no more. Instead, he encountered a people that were dull, lifeless, and strangely red-eyed, apparently sapped of all free will and unable to do anything about it.

He listened, captivated, as the red-eyed orc spoke in a soft voice of tales of valor and strength. He told of charges made against impossible odds, of heroic deeds, and of humans falling beneath a relentless green tide of orcs united in purpose. He spoke wistfully of a spiritual people as well, something Thrall had never heard of.
"Oh, yes," Kelgar said sadly. "Once, before we were the proud, battle-hungry Horde, we were individual clans. And in those clans were those who knew the magic of wind and water, of sky and land, of all the spirits of the wild, and they worked in harmony with those powers. We called them 'shamans,' and until the emergence of the warlocks, their skills were all we knew of power."
Thrall still had only the smallest grasp on what exactly his people were -- but he knew now what they had been. And that society seemed so much better than anything he had encountered in his short life. He was driven to help them, but there seemed to be little he could do.
Kelgar shook his head. "It is not the strength that is gone, Thrall. I could kill the guards in a heartbeat. Anyone here could. It's the desire. I do not wish to try to climb the walls. I want to stay here. I can't explain it, and I am ashamed, but that is the truth. You will have to have the passion, the fire, for all of us here."
With those words, Kelgar unwittingly sparked a revolution that would change the face of the Horde forever. It was because of his tales and soft plea for help, coupled with Thrall's desire for a home with his people, that Thrall sought out Grom Hellscream, who had evaded capture for years. Hellscream was bitter, angry at the results of the Second War and intensely curious about Thrall. An orc raised by humans, yet one who knew of honor, of mercy? Astonishing.
"Should we then change your other name? It is the term of a slave," said Hellscream, squatting and watching Thrall closely with red eyes. "It was meant to be a badge of shame."

Thrall thought as he chewed and swallowed. "No. Blackmoore gave me the name so that I would never forget that I was something he owned, that I belonged to him." His eyes narrowed. "I never will. I will keep the name, and one day, when I see him again, he will be the one who remembers what he did to me, and regret it with all his heart."
Hellscream told him bits and pieces of orcish history, about a time when orcs existed on Draenor in different clans. Thrall showed him a blanket he'd had since he was a baby, and Hellscream identified it as coming from the Frostwolf clan -- these were Thrall's people. Hellscream listened to Thrall's stories about the internment camps and realized the only way to free the orcs from their lethargy would be to break into the camps and lead them away. But they'd need help -- and so Thrall traveled to find the Frostwolves, both for their assistance and to try and discover the family that might have been his.

While staying with the Frostwolves, Thrall got his first taste of shamanism. Drek'Thar, shaman and protector of the Frostwolf Clan, saw some sort of potential in the young orc. But first Thrall had to work very, very hard to earn the trust of the Frostwolf Clan. While he struggled to be accepted, Drek'Thar spoke often to the young orc, telling him of Draenor, of the orcs' struggle with corruption, of his father and mother, and at last, of the lethargy which quickly overtook the orcish people:
"I believe that the lethargy you reported seeing in the camps is the emptiness our people are feeling when the demonic energies have been withdrawn. Without that external energy, they feel weak, bereft. They may not even know why they feel this way, or care enough to ponder it. They are like empty cups, Thrall, that were once filled with poison. Now they cry out to be filled with something wholesome once again. That which they yearn for is the nourishment of the old ways. Shamanism, a reconnection with the simple and pure powers of the natural forces and laws, will fill them again and assuage that dreadful hunger. This, and only this, will rouse them from their stupor and remind them of the proud, courageous line from which we have all come."
And with that, he began to train Thrall in the ways of the shaman. What exactly it was that he saw in the young orc is unknown -- perhaps it was the honest, unflinching eagerness to free the orcs. Perhaps it was the utter lack of any demonic taint. Perhaps it was simply that Thrall was an open canvas, a blank slate with no real prior connection to the corruption that had riddled the orcs for decades. Regardless, what Drek'Thar saw in Thrall was a chance for a return to the old ways, a return to the life the orcs had lived before the Burning Legion had stepped in. Thrall was not only eager to learn, but he possessed a natural spark for shamanism that was extraordinary. Drek'Thar decided it was time for Thrall's initiation to the shamanistic ways, and Thrall passed with flying colors.
"Well done, my child," said Drek'Thar, his voice trembling with emotion. "I had hoped they would accept ... Thrall, you must know. It has been years, nay, decades, since the spirits have accepted a shaman. They were angry with us for our warlocks' dark bargain, their corruption of magic. There are only a few shamans left now, and all are as old as I. The spirits have waited for someone worthy upon whom to bestow their gifts; you are the first in a long, long time to be so honored. I had feared that the spirits would forever refuse to work with us again, but ... Thrall, I have never seen a stronger shaman in my life, and you are only beginning."

"I ... I thought it would feel so powerful," stammered Thrall, his voice faint. "But instead ... I am so humbled..."

"And it is that which makes you worthy." He reached and stroked Thrall's cheek. "Durotan and Draka would be so proud of you."
Later, word of Thrall's potential had spread to an orc who would take Thrall in under his wing as second in command of the Horde forces: Orgrim Doomhammer, a legend among the orcs. And Orgrim wanted his people freed from the internment camps just as badly as young Thrall did.
"You come from a proud and noble line, Thrall, despite the name which you have chosen to keep. Let us honor that line together."
At this time, the majority of Thrall's life had been spent with humans, learning human ways. He escaped after brutal treatment at the hands of his master, with the help of a kind human woman who was like a sister to the orc. He had only begun his journey of discovery, but in that short time, he had eagerly learned all he could of the orcs -- their history, what had befallen them, and the wondrous, spiritual path of the shaman. Yet he was still unsatisfied, still wanted to see his people freed -- and with Orgrim's acceptance, Thrall would see that day.

 
159.The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Six years of trends

 


Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

OK, first up: I have been playing a warrior and writing this warrior column for quite some time now. So while this week's savage, astonishing ravaging of the warrior class wasn't something I haven't seen before, I feel pretty confident in saying that yes, it was really jarring. Not jarring like a friend braking a little too hard while driving because she was totally checking out that person's butt and missed the light change. Jarring like a friend driving into a concrete abutment at 95 miles an hour seems more apt. The whole epic saga of metagem changes didn't help anything, either.

Still, we can't say we were surprised, can we? I wrote a post that mentioned it a while back, but it bears repeating in this calm after our collective jubblies have been kicked right in that we were kind of nuts for a while there. It was not uncommon for arms warriors to lead the DPS and fury warriors to do more DPS than everyone else combined on some 5-man fights. Frankly, even with these changes, fury is still capable of decent numbers. (Not great, not what I would say they should be, but good enough for now.) Arms was the more hard hit, of course, as it always seems to be. I'll also admit to disappointment that the whole rage redesign didn't remove from us the constant buff-nerf cycle we've been living with for six years now.

Frankly, though, there was never going to be a good way to drop this particular hammer on our toes. Yes, you have a little more than nine days or so to go in Wrath, and you're going to have to endure it weaker than you were. But after a while, you get used to this constant cycle if you play a warrior. We should still be able to tank and DPS our way through the new content, although expect prot to see some buffs a couple of months after release. Right now, though, we're in lockdown mode, waiting for the new content. This is nothing new. This is how it was before BC and before Wrath.

So let's talk about what those expansions have taught us we can expect going forward.

Expect fluctuations during the first tier of raiding

If this expansion is anything like the others, there's going to be at least one tanking class that lags way behind the others in the first push through heroic instances and into raiding. It may be us, or it may be one of the others; it's not important which class it is, but rather what effect it will have on us when Blizzard attempts to adjust tanking to bring classes in line.

Interestingly, Cataclysm has already seen adjustments of this kind before it has even released. There will be more of them. What usually happens is either a class that is seen to be outperforming others will be reduced to their level, or one that is lagging very far behind will be brought up to par. In this situation, it's bad to be very far ahead but also bad to have been behind the whole time, because perception trumps reality. If people come to believe (based on a mechanical disadvantage) that X class can't tank as well as Y and Z, they're more likely to sabotage runs consciously or subconsciously by complaining, making bad assumptions or just plain dropping group. In this particular case, I expect warriors to be a fairly middle-of-the-road tanking class, and so I don't expect us to undergo this particular issue, but it bears watching.

With the amount of fiddling abilities like Shield Slam have undergone to keep them from benefiting too strongly from Vengeance, I'm not fully confident that warriors won't come out of the gate somewhat weak as tanks. However, since all four tanking classes have been redesigned to some extent, I do expect other tanks to have similar issues. In essence, we won't be any worse off than those other guys, which ultimately benefits us.

DPS is going to be low for a while, and again, the culprit will be gear. Arms will be easier to gear for than fury, but yet again arms will be clearly behind fury DPS the first tier of raiding. The buff-nerf cycle will continue (as the past month has made clear), but the new systems should at least make the eventual buffs easier to apply and the eventual nerfs easier to predict. Once fury warriors close in on anything close to enough hit, our DPS will increase as normalization still means we need to get white hits to get rage to use. Hit and haste will be stronger in the first tier of Cataclysm than they have been for warriors in quite some time, and we probably won't be able to cap on hit until the next tier is released. (As of yet, I don't know if it's still planned for next tiers of raiding to require more hit, but if it does work out that way, hit will always be a fury warrior's best friend.)

You are still gear-dependent

Rage normalization wasn't intended to remove gear dependency so much as to make it linear rather than semi-exponential. What fueled the engine of warrior power fluctuation before was the fact that an undergeared warrior easily rage starved because not only did he or she hit infrequently, but his or her hits generated little rage due to the way rage was generated (the more damage you dealt, the more rage you had). Now, while undergeared warriors (you know, people in quest greens, alts who never get a chance to raid or who rolled halfway through an expansion) will still generate less rage than fully geared ones with the proper amount of hit and expertise, at least when they do hit, they will generate a dependable amount of rage allowing them to do something.

This does not mean you will not get more powerful with gear, nor does it mean that rage won't scale with gear. Hopefully, what it means is that warriors will scale predictably with gear and rage won't become effectively infinite, making it difficult to design around. This does mean we need to spend some time actually considering our rage and how to most wisely spend it, a habit many of us have gotten out of and will need to resume. Expect to feel fairly constrained for a while, especially as ratings decay makes older gear obsolete and you're upgrading in instances and heroics.

Protection is still going to be the king of leveling specs

You may never set foot in an instance and still go from 80 to 85 as a prot warrior. I'm not entirely sure why you wouldn't run instances, but protection will continue to be a very strong leveling spec coming off of its Wrath of the Lich King high. While the DPS specs will certainly work for leveling, both have seen adjustments to their relative power and auxiliary abilities (especially fury, which has lost a lot of self-healing) that will make protection really stand out as the survivability leader.

The addition of Vengeance to all tanking specs means that protection will also have a means to pull a lot of mobs, stay alive, and steadily ramp up its damage in a way it has never seen before. Since protection was already the king of multiple-mob chain pulling, this makes it ideal for questing out in the world. And with tanks most likely going to see a certain drop in popularity with the changes to tanking and the switch from being in end of expansion gear to beginning of expansion gear, those of us who tough it out and keep tanking will have a much easier time queueing for dungeons.

I expect arms' popularity in PvP to be challenged. The drop to a 10 percent MS debuff makes it effectively meaningless with health pools approaching 130k at level 85 and the new triage healing mentality. Arms mobility won't be much greater than fury (and no greater at all than protection), and while Throwdown is a lovely ability, it's not going to make up for arms' inability to really close the deal damage wise for the first few months of the expansion. Protection, at least, is going to be a very popular PvP spec, with its innate critical strike reduction, high mobility, stuns and cooldowns. Fury may be popular if it can bring enough mobility and its damage output is high enough, since arms will no longer have a "killer app," so to speak. With the rise of rated BGs, I expect to see some variation in what specs get used in PvP.

Enjoy the next week or so off from things. On Dec. 7, you get to start the treadmill again. Oh, and it's also my birthday. You can get me something nice.
 
160.Arcane Brilliance: Things I'm thankful for

So apparently it's the holiday season. I'm still burping up cranberries and stuffing, my wife has started forcing Christmas music upon me (and frankly, if it's not Mannheim Steamroller, I don't want to hear it), and I've reached the point in the year when -- for my own mental well-being -- I refuse to look at a bank statement until February. To those of you who survived yesterday's annual gladiatorial bloodletting and emerged victorious from the front doors of Walmart or Old Navy, hoisting your hard-won set of hand towels above your head like a trophy: I salute you. To those of you who, like me, stayed home and bought stuff on Steam and Xbox Live: I also salute you, only I do so from my chair, by typing in an emote. Because, really, we're all pretty lazy. But damned if I don't feel well rested.

In deference to the spirit of the season, we here at Arcane Brilliance thought it might be nice to spend a column thinking about the things we're grateful right now. You'll find the mage-related stuff behind the jump, but here's my non-mage-related short list of awesome things:
  1. flatbread chicken sandwiches
  2. getting randomly tagged on Dragon Quest IX while walking through the airport Tuesday night
  3. troll druid cat form
  4. The Walking Dead
  5. Mumford and Sons
  6. discovering the brilliance of Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights on Netflix
Taco Bell, Netflix, Square Enix, etc. ... feel free to make any and all endorsement checks out to Christian Belt, care of WoW Insider. Also, screw you, AMC, for canceling Rubicon. I was just starting to enjoy that one. And screw you double, FOX, for putting Fringe on Fridays, where all good FOX shows go to die.

Without any further dalliances into pop culture, here (in no particular order) are a few of the things Arcane Brilliance is thankful for in the world of mages this year:

New mages

Let me extend a welcome to all of you who didn't roll a troll druid on Tuesday and instead went with a dwarf, orc, or night elf mage. Several reasons you'll be glad you did:
  1. Not nearly as many hairballs.
  2. You didn't have to contend with approximately a billion other trolls all competing for the same quest mob like I had to last night in the troll starting area. I mean, holy crap, guys. Would it kill you to throw out an invite at least? And the random Deadmines run I went on last night was, no lie, five troll druids. Our healer looked like he was taking his three kitties and a bear for a walk.
  3. When you get to 85, your raid leader can't tell you to either respec tree or bear because they don't need any more DPS. You're DPS, and he'd better get used to it.
  4. Seriously, have you seen our Recount scores lately?
I'm just happy to see a potential influx of new blood. More mages, in my opinion, is always a good thing. And if you're making a dwarf, why not take the next step and make a female one? They're ... sturdy ... and, um, have a low center of gravity? And they have a great personality. Seriously, you will love your dwarf lady mage. And you will be making those stupid achievements where you have to put a pumpkin or some flowers or whatever on one of every kind of everything so much easier on the rest of us.

And goblins and worgen! I almost forgot. I can't wait until the first goblin mage discovers how to reverse a Pyroblast and rez somebody. It's not a real thing, but it should be. And who doesn't want to see a werewolf in a dress? Nobody, that's who.

Ridiculous Arcane Blast and Deep Freeze crits

Sweet fancy Moses, there is nothing better than critting some poor, unsuspecting raid boss for 75k. Or 200k, as I've seen some folks report breathlessly on the forums. I'm just waiting for the swiftly approaching day when we all hit level 85 and get all newly epicced out and somebody sees the first 7-digit crit. It'll happen.

During the burn phase of an arcane rotation, or when Deep Freeze hits just right on a frozen boss, mages are just seeing the most delicious numbers pop up over the heads of their targets right now. Just knowing that if we could somehow get your raid's main tank and his 50k health pool to stand still long enough, you might be able to one shot him at full health ... ahhhh ...

The next time the conditions align themselves perfectly and you manage to squeeze out a truly gigantic crit (yes, I said "crit" there ... what did you think I said?) on your mage, I suggest you bow your head for a moment and offer up a silent word of gratitude to whatever deity it is that you worship. Then resume killing.

A return to crowd control

Some of you may not be all that thrilled about this one, but I sure am. Pew pew is fun and all, but I miss the days when a mage was called upon not only to blow things up, but also to make sure one of those things was turned into a sheep or turtle or whatever and kept that way. I also miss being able to instantly pinpoint any stupid people in your group by seeing which one decided to whack your sheep target first.

CC is something of a lost art these days, and let me assure you that even if you actually do remember those halcyon days during The Burning Crusade when you'd see "LFM, Sethekk Halls: mage" being spammed in trade chat, CC is definitely a perishable skill. You'll walk into the first 5-man in Cataclysm, then realize you can't recall what your keybind for Polymorph even is. Better start practicing now, because a group without CC in this new expansion is a group that will die. A lot.

I'm just excited to have an excuse to use one of my mage's signature abilities again. Now if only we could find a good use for wands besides just being a stat stick ...

Entrepreneurial opportunities

Step one: Park yourself somewhere high traffic, like a bank or auction house in Org or Stormwind.
Step two: Conjure portals to the other major cities.
Step three: Announce that you're charging for party invites.
Step four: Profit.

Now, a caveat: Don't be a dick. Business is good right now, and we haven't really been called upon to be portalbots for a couple of expansions now, so it feels good to again have one of our signature mage abilities be relevant again. But that doesn't mean you get to gouge people. Charge something the market seems comfortable with and something that seems reasonable to you, knowing that the mat only costs you a few silver pieces. You're charging for your time, really. Figure out what that's worth to you and charge accordingly. If you find people are calling you names or business is slow, you may need to rethink your price. Or, you may just decide to be super nice and give them out for free with the occasional tip. That's cool, and all, but just remember the old saying: You can give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day, but charge a man 25g for a port to Undercity and he'll probably just learn how to start using the zeppelin.

It may get annoying at some point soon, assuming Blizzard doesn't cave to all the haters who can't stand the idea of actually having to travel sometimes and add portals back into the game, but for now, it's kind of nice. It reminds of old times, and gives me another way to be useful to my fellow player. And always remember, as soon as the expansion hits and folks start flying around the old world, the demand will go down significantly, so the window of opportunity on this particular enterprise is small.

Oh, and also: Don't spam the trade channel. Just don't. Announce yourself once or twice. Then maybe a reminder every 5 minutes or so. Any more often than that and I will come to your house and choke you.

OK, one more thing I'm thankful for.

The warlock nerf

Seriously, man, I don't pay that much attention to the goings on over there at the Hot Topic, but all I know is I walked by the other day while I was on my way to the Orange Julius and I heard some truly spectacular crying going on in there. I guess they got nerfed or something? I don't know. It sounded great, though. I decided I needed to visit their forums for a second. Actual titles of posts I saw there:
  • The nerf was to much
  • wow ... this last nerf is lame
  • Lost and Hopeless! (I like the use of capitals there)
  • Mages suck.
  • Why nerf??
  • I hate my warlock.
  • How I feel about the warlock nerfs. (I'm pretty sure this one can be sung to the tune of every Evanescence song ever, and if not, it should be.)
And my personal favorite:
  • Why warlocks are dead; and how to re-roll
Whatever happened, guys, it must have been pretty epic. I'm not one to take pleasure in the pain of others ... oh, who am I kidding. You guys have read an Arcane Brilliance before. You know where I stand on warlocks.

I stand on their grave, peeing.

And frankly, when the nerfbat comes around again for mages, I expect nothing less from warlocks. Hate's no fun if it's not mutual.

So, what are you guys thankful for?
 
161.Breakfast Topic: What is your favorite World of Warcraft fan art or media?

 

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

With the massive number of players logging in every day to WoW, there's an equally expansive amount of art and media coming from that player base. Very few games have ever brought out such a community of creative minds showing the rest of us their vision of a fantasy world. From machinima to custom WoW dolls (I mean action figures -- right, guys?), to Horde/Alliance-themed cakes, there are a ton of different venues for artists of all varieties to express their passion for the game.

I've just recently begun to start watching WoW-based machinima and have discovered there are quite a few masterpieces out there from people who seem talented enough to write or direct feature films. After the Cataclysm launch, I'm going to start an ongoing fan fiction story about a rogue and what his life is like after Deathwing ravages Azeroth. It should be plum full of adventures and high jinks! Although I'd love to include custom artwork with that story, my drawing skill ends at stick figures, so I'll have to use to screen shots.

Out of all the different art, videos, and other "warcrafts," are there any you'd like to participate in? Or maybe you already check out great fan art, make custom troll outfits for cosplay, or bake cupcakes shaped like murlocs. What are your favorites?
 
162.WoW Rookie: Cataclysm troll starting area

 

Editor's Note: This walk-through was performed on a druid. There will be small differences if you play a different class. Additionally, there are spoilers contained herein.

When you begin the new troll starting zones, the narrator warns you that Vol'jin knows that Garrosh could tear the Horde apart. It will come down to cunning trolls like you to keep things on the straight and narrow. As you begin the game, Jin'thala tells you that the Darkspear have always been outcasts. But this time, you're being led by the wisdom of Vol'jin, and it's time for the Rise of the Darkspear. Vol'kin sends you off to Zen'tabra to begin your training.

Zen'Tabra likes to start things simply, so she'll help you cover The Basics: Hitting Things. All around the Darkspear training grounds are tiki-themed target dummies. Blow up six of them, using your favorite method for blowing up stuff. After this impressive display to skill, you're off to A Rough Start and have to go kill enough cats to bring Zen'Tabra six Wildmane Cat Pelts. Go kill some kitties. If the starting area is busy, it can take a while to find enough cats, so take your time.

Once you've pelted Zen'tabra (get it?), she sends you to the Proving Pit. Speak to the Darkspear Jailor to release a naga into the pit. Go kill it. After some class-specific training to be sure you know how to use your buttons, you'll be sent to the big man himself: Vol'jin!

When you turn in the quest, you get the opportunity to see the much-discussed argument between Garrosh and Vol'jin. This is the argument that sets much of the tone for the Horde in Cataclysm. It's also a great opportunity for you to see just how bloody awesome Vol'jin really is.
Vol'jin welcomes you among the heroes of the Darkspear but sends you off to find Moraya. She's been needing some help with the raptors, apparently. Moraya is to the east of Vol'jin's hut, and you can grab a quest to go Crab Fishin' on your way out. When you speak with Moraya, she actually sends you to the south of the island to help move A Troll's Truest Companion. (Trolls feel the same way about their raptors that humans do about their labrador retrievers.)

Now is the time to complete these two quests. Go directly south of Moraya and down the hill. Lots of Pygmy Surf Crawlers hang out there, and they're an easy kill for Crab Fishin'. Then go back up the hill and angle to the west to cross the big bridge. As you start moving across the bridge, a troll named Zuni will ask you to wait up for him. He'll be your companion for a short time.

When you arrive at the southern island, there are a few more crabs around, in case you're missing any. Talk to Kijara in the center of the island. Her first priority is Saving the Young. Swim northwest to the next island over. (There is no bridge.) Find the hatchlings, and use the whistle given to you. The little fellows will start following you. Once you've gathered up 12 of the hatchlings, head back to Kijara. Take the time to enjoy the cutest little army ever created following you.

Tegashi now has a pair of tasks for you. Show some Mercy for the Lost by going back to the island and killing Corrupted Bloodtalons. Once you've done that, climb the hill in the center to kill Naj'tess. If there are other players where Naj'tess spawns, you may need to wait to get a chance to kill him yourself. This is just what it takes to defeat the Consort of the Sea Witch. He might shrink you as you fight him; don't worry, you'll be fine.

Return to Tegashi and Kijara. Kijara tells you it's time to handle the Young and Vicious raptor known as Swiftclaw. He looks unique from the other raptors on the island and has been doing laps the whole time you've been around. Once you see him come rushing near you, use the lasso. Suddenly, you're riding Swiftclaw!

Ride him all the way back to the pens on the main island. As you enter the pens, you will be automatically dismounted. Return to Moraya, who is still chilling on her mat near Vol'jin. Now is also a good time to turn in the crab meat to Tora'jin. Once you've done both, go to Tortunga, who has the next important quest for you.

Tortunga tells you it's time to lay some troll vengeance down on the naga. Speaking to Jornun will get you a quick raptor ride up to the front line. Morakki accepts your quest and gives you orders to provide the naga No More Mercy and to place Territorial Fetishes on the Spitescale flags. Enter the cave and kill 12 naga, using the fetish in your backpack to complete the other quest. Zuni is back to hang out with you during this portion.

The fetishes require the Spitescale flags. Essentially, you're placing the troll fetish over top the flag. Keep an eye out for them as you wander around. Also, Zuni is a little crazy. He will wander off frequently. So he's helpful, but don't rely on him. When you turn in these quests, Morakki will send you to slay An Ancient Enemy, the Sea Witch herself.

Go around to the northeast of the island and speak with Vol'jin to start the combat. Kill the little ghosts that pop up, but try and avoid fighting the Sea Witch herself. She's a big, big mob and is meant for Vol'jin to fight. If the fight is already in progress, help out by fighting the ghosts; you'll still get quest credit. Speaking with Vanira will teleport you back to Darkspear Hold.

When you talk to Vol'jin to turn in An Ancient Enemy, you get to be present while Vol'jin and Thrall have a chat. It's a fairly impressive conversation in which Thrall says that he hopes Garrosh's true blood will inspire the Horde. After this discussion, you are sent to Sen'jin Village. You can find it by leaving Echo Islands west and traveling across the water.

This begins your experience with the main world of Azeroth, and it means you have successfully completed the Horde starting area.
 
163.Breakfast Topic: How do you find a new realm to call home?
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Home. It's where the heart is. It's where you can relax and be yourself. Sometimes, it is where you have been all your life. Other times, you have to move around several times to find the best place for you. The feeling of home in World of Warcraft is no different.

Because of a lack of guild activity, I've thought about moving my main to a new realm for several weeks now, but I have been hesitant to just do it. Part of it is the anxiety that comes with going to an unfamiliar realm. I've done research on several different realms and even rolled low-level characters on them to see what the environment is like, but the one thing I've learned is that you can't get a sense of what the raiding scene is like unless you are in it. The other part of my anxiety is getting to know everyone all over again. Sometimes, the hardest part of moving to a new town is introducing yourself to the neighbors. I thought about rerolling but have too much invested in my main to retire him.

So, fellow citizens of Azeroth, how did you find your WoW home? Is it the first realm you rolled on? Did you transfer somewhere else or reroll altogether?
 
164.Addon Spotlight: Atlasloot v6 offers more than boss loot

 

Each week, WoW Insider brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same. This week, start Cataclysm off right with Atlasloot.

The Shattering has come and the world has been sundered. Thankfully, with all that shattering and shaking, a ton of new stuff came with it. What's our favorite new thing, you ask? Why, loot of course. Lots of lots of brand new, shiny loot has appeared to sink our teeth into, which is why I am super-happy to talk about the new Atlasloot today.

Atlasloot is one of those ubiqitous addons that has been around for such a long time, you forget a time before it existed. Atlasloot has been a loot repository for so long that, when my mind begins to wonder what particular loot drops from a boss, muscle memory immediately begins typing in /atlasloot.

Atlasloot's future, as of BlizzCon, felt uncertain to me. With the new loot lists for bosses coming in 4.1, one of Atlasloot's hallmark features is being incorporated into the default user interface. While a huge honor, this also puts into doubt what Atlasloot has to offer the community. Well, there is no reason to worry. In fact, with the release of Atlasloot v6, we see the true power of addons in World of Warcraft -- taking basic user interface functionality and giving you options you might not have ever known you wanted.

The basics

Atlasloot is an addon that contains a database of loot and items that drop off of bosses, in instances and raids, world events, vendors and everything else you can think of. Look up class item sets, try on all items using the wardrobe feature, and enjoy a new, excellent interface with version 6. If you're already an Atlasloot user, you know how incredibly valuable having all of this information in game can be. If you're a new user, here are some awesome features that are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Atlasloot's usefulness.

Wish lists

My absolute favorite feature of Atlasloot has been and always will be the wish lists. Wish lists allow the player to save lists of wanted gear to easily make item decisions about what is needed and what should be rolled on.

To add an item to the wishlist, alt-click the item and then select which wish list it is to be added to. You can have plenty of wish lists to cover your different specs and characters.

Here's where the Cataclysm fun comes in. Since all of the loot is available in the Atlasloot database from the beta, you can put together your Cataclysm loot lists early. By knowing what you need from each dungeon, Cataclysm gearing up can be accomplished much more easily. Not having to worry about spending time away from the game to figure out what instances you need to run can save a lot of time and stress during new content exploration. I'm a fan.

Vendor lists


Being able to see all of the instance and raid loot is great, sure, but with the advent of emblems, badges, and now the point system, a great deal of loot doesn't come from bosses at all. With Atlasloot's vendor database, you get to see what kinds of items point vendors sell and their costs. You can even add these to your wish list.

Quicklooks

Quicklooks allow you to set a loot table to a quicklooks slot and be able to jump there at the press of a button. For Wrath of the Lich King, I kept the afforementioned vendor loot tables on my quicklooks buttons, as I was constantly going back and forth looking at item prices as I was farming emblems and points.

Searchable loot

Hate alt-tabbing out to Wowhead
to check what loot a boss drops? Do you know the name of a piece of loot but have no idea where to find it? Wouldn't it be awesome to just search for the name of the item and find it from within the game? Atlasloot is tailor-made for these uses. Atlasloot search allows you to quickly and easily find exactly where a piece of loot drops and show you its drop rate as well.

Currently, search is temporarily disabled in the addon, but the Atlasloot guys have been banging away at the bugs and fixes for the addon, and it's going to continue to be the go-to loot addon for WoW.

A staple of loot research

Atlasloot has always been a staple in my addons folder and that isn't changing any time soon. With the new boss loot tables being built in, I was worried about Atlasloot's core feature. What has been done with the addon, however, shows exactly how the modding and addon community that revolves around World of Warcraft is so talented. Addons are not always about doing things differently or better, but about creating a feature set that is immensely robust.

Wish lists, quicklooks, vendor information, searchable loot and more keeps Atlasloot at the top of the addon game. I am very excited that Atlasloot is soldiering on and keeping the addon great. It is one of my absolute must-have tools for Cataclysm.

Download Atlasloot at [
Curse] and [WoWInterface].
 
165.Around Azeroth: It's a family affair

Well, it's Thanksgiving in the United States today, which means that many of us will be returning home to spend some time with our extended families. Others of us will be responding to 911 calls when your cousins begin throwing steak knives at each other, or your drunk uncles try to deep fry a turkey in an enclosed garage, or your dad is turned into the main course. May your time with your family be free of such unpleasant surprises. (Thanks to Veritäs of <Ðoomsday> on Agamaggan [US-H] for this screenshot.)

 
166.Win everyAir desktop app for the iPad

 

Ever wanted to play World of Warcraft on your iPad? Now, you can, with the everyAir app from pandaelf. The everyAir app is a remote desktop application for the iPad that's been designed from the ground up to be fast enough to handle games. Want to speed level your new goblin or worgen by dual-boxing along with your established healer? Maybe you just want to get some questing and 5-mans done from the comfort of your couch. If you've got the iPad, we've got everyAir -- 30 coupons for a single, free download, to be exact. Read more about everyAir and its creators in today's 15 Minutes of Fame.

We've got thirty coupons for everyAir, and all you have to do is comment on this post by Saturday, Nov. 27 at 12:01 a.m. EST. We'll randomly select 30 winners from the comments.

Some rules apply. You must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States or Canada (excluding Quebec). Make sure your email address is up to date, because that's how we'll get hold of you! And please, though this isn't a rule, only enter if you have an iPad or know someone who does and would enjoy this program. Official rules are here.
 
167.Give the gift of Warcraft
Act now and get epic savings with $5 World of WarCraft, $5 The Burning Crusade, and $10 Wrath of the Lich King. Gift to a friend or upgrade your account in preparation for the launch of Cataclysm.
 
168.The Queue: Shattering is over, time to go home
Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Today is a very special edition of The Queue, ladies and gentlemen. I believe it's the first one ever written on an iPhone. The Shattering delayed my daily walk, so time for both had to be found. Enjoy!

primal.geek asked:

Why, after the Shattering, do Dalaran mobs near the crater still feel the need to attack me? Sure, I'm a member of the Horde, but I'm also exalted with their city. Can't they give me a break for once?

Well, member of the Horde, I'm sure the citizens of Dalaran near the crater would love to give you a break ... as soon as the Horde reciprocates. The Horde has been killing those guys from vanilla WoW all the way up through Wrath and have never actually stopped. Go run a character through Silverpine Forest right now, post-Shattering. The faction of Dalaran left in the Eastern Kingdoms is still completely at war with the Horde. Of all the neighbors to have, Sylvanas is the worst. Garrosh might not even be as aggressive as she can be.

masteroaktree asked:

What exactly is that metal lower jaw on Deathwing? Is it a plate of armor or is a replacement jaw because his fell off?

All of that armor on Deathwing is there to hold him together. The amount of power he's taken in from outside sources like the Demon Soul and the Old Gods is quite literally tearing him apart. The bands of metal riveted to his flesh certainly work like armor, but they're there to hold his body together. He is bristling with so much power that if he weren't tethered together by metal freaking plates, he would be rent to pieces.

Cern asked:

So who else will be rolling a tauren paladin today?

Not me! I threw the decision of what I'd roll first to Twitter and they decided dwarven shaman. I don't actually like dwarves and I already have a level 80 shaman, but what the people want is what the people get.

Many readers complained:

Dang, I wanted to run Molten Core and Blackwing Lair one more time before the Shattering! I can't believe I missed my last chance to see the classic raids!

Whoa there, folks. Not all of the classic raids went away with patch 4.0.3a. Only Zul'Gurub was removed in this patch. Every other classic raid is sticking around for Cataclysm! You didn't lose out on your chance to run those raids at all. Which is good, because my paladin has been soloing Molten Core for approximately an eternity and hasn't seen either Binding for Thunderfury.

Stupid, fiery jerks.
 
169.Give the gift of Warcraft
Act now and get epic savings with $5 World of WarCraft, $5 The Burning Crusade, and $10 Wrath of the Lich King. Gift to a friend or upgrade your account in preparation for the launch of Cataclysm
 
170.Elemental invasion boss portals open until further notice
Bashiok has announced that the elemental invasion boss portals are open in the capital cities "permanently" (which means they'll likely be going away when the patch hits tomorrow morning). Now is your chance to farm any additional items you want from those bosses or grind out a ton of easy justice points.

The blue announcement is as follows:

Bashiok
Due to your valiant efforts in protecting the key invasion cities, the four boss portals are now 'permanently' open. If you need anything from inside the portals, or maybe you dropped your keys in there, now is the time to go through and get them.

Initial reports from shaman in the area that were available at time of publishing suggest that this is hinting at something far more sinister. One such shaman, a one 'Krunkmaster' from Proudmoore was quoted as saying "This is hinting at something far more sinister."

Chilling!

source

 
171.WoW Insider is looking for a new enhancement shaman columnist

 


Love your enhancement spec more than your childhood pet? Obsess over DPS charts at the end of every raid? Spend hours scanning armory profiles of top-rated enhancement shaman to analyze their gear and spec? Read shaman blogs and Elitist Jerk's shaman forums on a daily basis? We may have an offer you can't refuse.

WoW Insider is looking for a new writer to be our weekly enhancement shaman class columnist for Totem Talk. Every week, you will dazzle our readers with your words of wisdom covering everything from leveling guides to raid tactics to DPS rotations to major patch analyses to recommended addons for all specs and playstyles. You don't need to play all those ways (we all need a life), but you need to be able to research and write on the topics you don't have personal experience with.

If this sounds like the chance you've been waiting for, you'll find all the information you need to apply on our applications page. Be sure to submit everything asked for under the columnist section. Being able to follow simple instructions is part of the job. You have until end of day, Sunday, Nov. 28 to send in your application.
 
172.Loremaster achievement changes coming with Cataclysm

 

With the old world changing so drastically come The Shattering, there's been some question of how the Loremaster achievement might change in the wake of Cataclysm. Community Manager Zarhym has clarified this for us in a recent blog post. As he puts it, if you already have either Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms or Loremaster of Kalimdor, those achievements will stay intact. However, if you're only partially through with those achievements, you may suffer a setback, as any quest that's being removed from the game will no longer count toward those achievements in progress. Therefore, it's a good idea to finish up the achievement if you can.

That said, it will be a little bit easier to get those Loremaster achievements come The Shattering. Instead of having one huge quest counter for each continent, patch 4.0.3a will introduce zone-specific quest achievements to the old world, similar to the ones that already exist for Outland and Northrend zones. Once you finish the zone-specific achievements for every zone on a given continent (minus the new Cataclysm zones, of course), you'll have the achievement. Even old-school Loremasters can get in on the action, as the zone quest achievements will still be available for them to complete.

While Zarhym didn't specifically outline it in his post, Loremaster of Cataclysm will be required for future Loremasters as well, although it's not clear whether that will start to be a requirement in patch 4.0.3a or at the launch of Cataclysm itself.
 
173.Spiritual Guidance: Priest PvP concerns in Cataclysm


A couple of weeks ago, I promised that I'd return to priest PvP once the PvP-related problems on the Cataclysm beta were resolved. Things still aren't perfect either for balance or testing, but I have more information now than I did two weeks ago, so I'm willing to take a stab at it ... /bleed. Or take a stab in the kidney or something.

Overall, I'm going to say things aren't looking too great. I don't think you should panic, granted, but things are pretty rough for priests right now. Mana is a nightmare, options for spell selection suffer due to mana restraint, dispels are essential but you can't afford to cast them, and interrupts and crowd control run rampant.

I'll elaborate on all of these in a bit, but before I get started, I want to take you guys back to December 2008. Wrath had just come out, and the start of Season 5 was on everyone's minds. When at last it came, there was a deafening thunder as tens of thousands of priest bodies crashed lifelessly to the ground. Playing a priest was like not playing at all because of how fragile we were (unless you were one of those cheap holy priests who exploited the Glyph of Spirit of Redemption for a short while.) The outcry from the community was one of the more unified responses to priest class balance I have ever seen, as both novice and gladiator turned to Blizzard and screamed a resounding, "WTF?!"

At the time, Blizzard promised us that resilience would fix it -- and for the most part it was right, except that getting all that resilience wasn't easy when you were smeared across the virtual dirt. The whole process felt like a torturous, 10-year odyssey, and if you were anything less than hardcore, it was practically Season 5 by the time you had enough gear to compete. For top-rung players, priests retook their place in the priest-mage-rogue (PMR) triumvirate by the end of the season and stayed strong for the rest of the expansion, but that short period of time remains fixed in my mind as an example of Blizzard's stance and execution of game balance.

I recall the story now because I'm hoping that the beginning of Cataclysm doesn't mimic Wrath for priest PvP. The problem is pinpointing how to fix the problem and what problems needs fixing when observing players on so small a scale as the beta servers. Arena queues are pretty consistent, but battlegrounds testing is rather horrid right now, simply because when you do get queued in beta, testers aren't particularly good at working together. And since priests are still the delicious bacon sandwich we've always been (particularly to feral druids), you can imagine how my testing in battlegrounds has gone. I guess Blizzard added a little tomato in there to make us extra tasty; maybe a little herb aioli. Gosh, now I'm hungry ... Anyway, even though I'm not quite sure which problem is the crux of it all, I'll go ahead and explain what's going on right now.

Discipline

It's quite surprising to see the veteran PvP spec suffering so much on the battlefield. Our damage reduction talents, resilience gear, and stamina are all working out nicely, but I'm finding myself completely OOM very quickly. If I'm in arena, the point at which I go OOM is almost always when the other team's healer is only at one-half to one-third mana. And I'm not even using Flash Heal! Double Rapture procs aren't something you can depend on, and Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope are getting used way too early. Battlegrounds are hectic and stressful, and with a huge shortage in healers on both sides, I found myself being focused more than ever. I spent more time healing myself from incoming damage than assisting others, and it made me wonder if there is even a need for healers.

In arena, things were paced more slowly, and I quickly noticed I only needed a handful of spells to get the job done: Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Mending, Penance, and when I could get a nice cushion of time and space, I'd set up Greater Heal with Borrowed Time and/or Inner Focus. Though this is far less than what I use in PvE for spells, the cooldowns of these particular spells make them ideal for the pacing of the game. Sadly, I find myself reluctant to expand into the rest of my toolbox because the spell is either too slow or too expensive, yet I am clearly missing something. I think it's supposed to be Heal.

I found my constant attempts to use Heal were pretty depressing because I either made it inefficient by queuing it with Borrowed Time or I'd get interrupted when I used it without. And let me clarify that I'm not talking a well-timed, well-deserved Kick or other interrupt -- I mean a circus of stuns, silences, lock-outs, and crowd control. There is so much crowd control in the game right now that even if player health bars aren't plummeting, they might as well be, because you spend so much time not being able to do anything that your target might as well have been one-shot.

Slowing the game down health-wise hasn't changed the pace that much; it just changes what you do in your spare seconds. You have more time to get a heal off, but you scramble around a lot more, trying to find a way to get that cast off and avoid disables by separating yourself from your enemies. Cooldowns like Pain Suppression feel like afterthoughts, an "Oh yeah, I guess I could use this," followed by a doubt that maybe it's not even doing anything because there is so much time between damage. Power Word: Barrier is much the same way, which is unfortunate, because prior to the change it allowed you some time to catch up by absorbing everything for a short period of time, rather than a fraction of it.

People can still die quickly; CC the healer, focus a target, and blow your CDs. If you're a crystal ball player, this would be when you want to use Pain Suppression, because as long as your opponents chain an interrupt or stun right after the first CC, it's almost impossible to recover from the loss of health without going OOM. It's like the health pools have a point of no return, a point at which if they fall below a certain amount, you can't get them back up -- and if you do, you go OOM doing it. Atonement does help quite a bit, but it's troublesome to use sometimes because of the range (when everything else is 40 yards, 30 yards is a pain.)

Dispelling for both specs

Dispels seem to be the breaking point for the game. For the debuffs that can be dispelled, they must be, and doing that comes at a great cost. I'd reckon that a lot of mana issues I'm having in both specs (I'll talk more about holy in a second) have to do with trying to handle debuffs. In battlegrounds, I find I have much better longevity if I just ignore dispels and queue up a Heal, Power Word: Shield, or Renew. Oh, and do you remember Mass Dispel? I haven't cast it in 4 months. I don't think that's a bad thing, but after the Glyph of Mass Dispel made the reduced cast time accessible to everyone, I thought it might get more play. I still see it being used in very coordinated team play, but other than that, it doesn't seem to have a place.

Holy

Many of the points I made about PvP as a whole in the previous section still stand for holy priests, though many people feel holy is in a better place than disc right now. I'd say this is true in battlegrounds, where holy priests have a place to spend all those heals. Holy's biggest weakness is survivability, and that is a huge deal-breaker in arena. As holy, I was often a dead smear on the ground in the first minute, where as I had a lot of tanking potential as disc. Body and Soul is a must to get away, but if you have a poison (damn rogues) or some other slowing debuff, you can forget about that. Fortunately, though, there is still Holy Word: Chastise! But wait, I can't use any of my healing Chakra states if I want to use Holy Word: Chastise ... Hmm, that's a rather gnome-sized pickle, isn't it?

Typically, I opted to try and have Holy Word: Chastise available to me more often than not by using Chakra more as a utility. I would just use one state for a few casts, then forget about it and let it fall off. The nice thing is that this totally works (provided you've managed to stay alive). It makes Chakra very flexible and fun to use and works much in the way I wish it would have worked in PvE. Alas.

Big AoE heals like Circle of Healing and Holy Word: Sanctuary are usually overkill in the battlegrounds I've been playing (not a lot of Alterac Valley going on in beta) because players are usually too spread out across the map. Renew was my spell of choice in battlegrounds but not because it was particularly effective, just because everyone was running around in different directions and it was the best way to do something. I tried to avoid using Flash Heal too much as holy too, but with Serendipity, having those faster Greater Heals really helped out a bunch.

I don't know why, but as a holy priest, I found myself getting more use from Leap of Faith than I did as disc. I was using Renew more (after a few tries of Renew as disc, I pretty much abandoned it due to the cost and amount of healing done), so it makes sense that it wasn't so important to me to move around. Hauling my arena partner closer gave me a nice opportunity to help get a player off of me. I've yet to use it to grab someone back from a fear or knockback effect, but with practice, I would like to use it to get my allies back in the game. In battlegrounds, I found using the spell drew way too much attention to the fact that I was a healer, so I stopped using it quickly.

As I mentioned earlier, holy's overarching issue is living. It doesn't matter if you go OOM if you die before then. Talents like Blessed Resilience don't feel all that effective, and the extra healing from Chakra doesn't do any good if you're taking a lot of hits. Holy seems to be all about getting away and staying away, which is tough unless this Body and Soul bug is intended.

Body and Soul bug, you ask? Why, let me tell you! Basically, whenever you cast Power Word: Shield on another target right now, the holy priest also gets the haste effect of Body and Soul. It's probably the best bug you could ever encounter, as it makes the game insanely fun. If you're in a battleground, you can keep it up indefinitely, and while it's hard to keep it up all the time on a small 2v2 team, I think with 3v3, you'd be able to use it frequently on yourself. The effect is actually strangely similar to something I proposed ages ago about making holy priests delicate but hard to catch and disc priests resilient but capable of tanking multiple opponents (as they did in Wrath), but I'm pretty sure this is an unintended bug. Wouldn't it be amazing if it weren't, though? Holy priest would be the class everyone would want to play.

While on this topic, Body and Soul also received a new animation. It looks like a bunch of fairy dust, stars and a light show shooting out of the target's body. Apparently holy priests are superstars?

Moving on -- wait, no, give me a second. Seriously?! Stars? What gives, Blizz? Holy has long been the angel wing spec, and disc (aka disco) is the rock star spec. When a holy priest hands you a piece of paper, it's a Church of the Holy Light scripture quote with sunshafts and an inspirational sunset; when a disc priest hands you a piece of paper, it's concert tickets to a Morris Day and the Time show at Sen'jin Village. Why, why, why does Body and Soul get a stage show with stars and disc gets angel wings? I demand a trade-off! Body and Soul gets Archangel's animation and vice versa. Disco priests demand it!

Final thoughts

Overall, it feels like the damage models between PvE and PvP clash with one another. The amount of debuffs players can put on each other is huge, and it's crippling not to. Damage debuffs can usually be healed through, but all the other stuff needs your attention. Clutch play isn't too essential in the middle brackets of arena, and in battlegrounds, it's usually a lost cause.

I anticipate that priests in early Cataclysm are going to focus a lot on regen and resilience on their gear. Discipline priests will want to pour a lot of their stats and reforging into mastery, while holy priests focus on regeneration so they can keep the heals flowing. Holy will also want resilience but need to find a good balance to keep their regen up.

I do think the recent buff to the base healing of four of our core spells (Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal, and Greater Heal) has helped, as I find most of my complaints now have to do with not how much I'm healing for but how quickly I need to heal. This is a good sign in the right direction, at the least.

Finally, as an afterthought to afterthoughts, I'm anticipating more all-DPS teams in arena because of how effective the defensive cooldowns of some classes are at keeping players alive. Many times, my arena partner was able to solo two players if I got focused down early. I imagine these all DPS teams working like classic fighting games: You have one health bar to K.O. your opponent, and you can do all sorts of things to preserve it -- but when it's over, it's over. This could work out with healing becoming more difficult and stressful ... We may see another healer shortage in the coming expansion like we had back in The Burning Crusade and vanilla WoW.
 
174.All the World's a Stage: 4.0 roleplay addons

 


All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

While World of Warcraft has plenty of extra gadgets and widgets for PvE or PvP players, there's little in the way of any kind of RP utility with the existing user interface. It was requested at BlizzCon this year that some sort of RP description tool be added to the existing UI, but if Blizzard does decide to do something like this, it's likely to be pretty far in the future. Thankfully, until that time does occur, roleplayers have loads of addons to choose from that can help them out.

Patch 4.0 broke a lot of existing addons for PvE and PvP gameplay, but most of the RP addons seem to have made the transition without too much hassle. While I can't go over every addon under the sun, I'm going to touch on a few of my favorite different RP addons that a good chunk of the RP population uses -- how they work, what they're for, and why you should have them.
 
175.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
176.The Art of War(craft): Must-have PvP talents for priests in 4.0.1

 


Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Art of War(craft), covering battlegrounds and world PvP, and Blood Sport, with the inside line for arena enthusiasts. Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? Battlemaster Zach Yonzon, old-world PvP grinder and casual battleground habitué, rambles on about anything and everything PvP.

Never mind that it's actually going to be 4.0.3 pretty soon, we'll wrap up this series as quick as we can before the whole world crashes down all around us. Today we'll take a look at another hybrid class, the only one with two healing specs. It's going to be interesting to discuss the priest because even though many players consider healing in PvP to be less demanding as far as PvP-specific talents are concerned, it's the selection of key PvP talents that set great healers from the pack. In the battlegrounds, where healers have an easier time screening themselves from focus fire, there isn't a great need to dedicate to a PvP spec or even gear. Still, a good understanding of key abilities will help you perform better on the field, especially under the new paradigm.

One great improvement for Patch 4.0.1 geared towards leveling in Cataclysm is the ability of each healing spec to hold their own offensively. While obviously not as powerful as DPS specs, there are clear offensive abilities in each healing tree that's intended to make the leveling experience easier. Consequently, this gives healers better ways to strike back at opponents in PvP. For some players, this can make healing specs more fun and inviting, giving healers an even more active role and opening up some options between healing.

Discipline priest PvP Discipline has been the PvP healing spec for a long time, with a playstyle that is geared towards mitigation, high mobility, high survivability, and support. Many of the talents in the tree are focused at producing more efficient shields and special effects playing off them. While there aren't a lot of offensive options, you'll see the developers' intent to make using offensive spells part of your repertoire, so they become rewarding rather than penalizing.
  • Improved Power Word: Shield - If you're a discipline priest, you'll be casting Power Word: Shield. A lot. It's discipline's signature spell, allowing you to be extremely mobile in PvP. Casting instant heals such as Renew and Prayer of Mending in between shields make discipline quite arguably the most mobile healing spec, or maybe on par with restoration druids.
  • Twin Disciplines - I'm putting this talent on this list even if it's just a damage increase mostly because at such an accessible tier, it's an attractive option to shadow priests for their sub-spec. Discipline priests will pick it up for the healing bonus and, hey, a small boost to -- bam! -- Smite. Ok, not really, but it's a good talent that's slightly different from its original iteration which made only instant-cast spells better.
  • Evangelism and Archangel - Here's where things begin to get a little more funky. While the talent is attractive to shadow priests for obvious reasons, the spell gives incentives to casting Smite during dead times. More Smite means cheaper and more damaging Smites, Holy Fires, and Penances. It's not going to get you into groups as DPS, but it's certainly going to make casting those offensive spells worth it when your team's doing pretty well without heals. Archangel gives back a little mana and better passive healing, and you'll want to keep activating it every time you have full stacks of Evangelism.
  • Inner Sanctum - This is a talent that you should pick up mostly because it will become better in Cataclysm. The spell damage reduction is cool for now, but it will shine even more in the long fights of Cataclysm PvP. Furthermore, it also grants a 6 percent bonus to Inner Will, an ability you'll pick up at level 83 which reduces the cost of instant cast spells and increases your movement speed. With Inner Sanctum, your speed increase is bumped up to 16 percent, which is actually slightly higher than that standard 15 percent passive speed increase that most classes get. This is your PvP buff, and you will learn to love it.
  • Soul Warding - Faster is better, as I always say, and this is why most cooldown reductions qualify as PvP talents in my book. This talent no longer eliminates Power Word: Shield's cooldown, but that was reduced to 3 seconds down from 4, which makes a 2 second reduction from Soul Warding almost as good as the previous version on paper. In reality, though, it will take some time for your cast to travel to the server before it starts the cooldown. That pushes your effective cooldown from 1 second to anywhere from 1.2 to 1.6 seconds depending on your latency. That means even if your haste lowers your GCD below that number, you still won't be able to cast another Power Word: Shield. Overall, the talent has been nerfed (it no longer reduces mana cost, either), but you still need it so spend those two points here.
  • Power Infusion - Activated long-cooldown spells add spice to PvP encounters, and most of the time you'll need that extra punch. Power Infusion is a haste and discount spell, which is great for those clutch situations where you actually need to stop and throw out some big, long cast heals. The cool part about Power Infusion, though, is that you can actually cast it on a teammate, such as that hard-hitting mage for some tag team enemy obliteration.
  • Atonement - So. Much. Fun. What this talent basically does is turn your Smites into heals, allowing you to keep on Smiting opponents and healing your team at the same time. The harder you hit with Smite (this is where Twin Disciplines and Evangelism start to pay off) the better your heal will be. In the battlegrounds, you can contribute to the fight by Smiting your allies' targets and healing them in the process. That's almost freakishly unfair. You may want to glyph with Glyph of Divine Accuracy (major), which boosts your hit with Smite by a whopping 18 percent. Since you won't have much hit in all that healing gear, this glyph turns your Smites into more accurate heals. If you want to hit harder and heal bigger, you might want to use Glyph of Smite (major), too. This should transform your playstyle into a more aggressive support healer role that looks to use offensive spells as a means to heal.
  • Inner Focus - The good news is that the cooldown of this activated ability has been reduced to 45 seconds from the original 3 minutes. The bad news is that it no longer affects any spell but select heals. That said, it's a one point investment to cast a free spell with a higher crit chance every 45 seconds. We like free and we like higher crit.
  • Rapture - This is a talent you're supposed to get mostly because, well, you cast shields and shield disappear at some point. Because it also procs mana gain when the shield is dispelled, it becomes even more valuable in PvP as mana management is important in the longevity fights of Cataclysm.
  • Reflective Shield - At some point, of course, your opponents will bear down on you and you'll probably get knocked around a few times on the battlefield. That's cool because you'll pick up Reflective Shield, which means anyone who does try to damage you will be hurting themselves even before they break through. This won't work for shields cast on others, but it's great passive damage for just two points.
  • Pain Suppression - This talent single-handedly catapulted discipline priests into the PvP elite and remains the best PvP talent in the tree. The effect is simple: it will keep you or your friends alive. Pair it with Glyph of Pain Suppression (major) which allows you to cast Pain Suppression while stunned and you've got a truly topnotch PvP ability.
  • Train of Thought - This is a great talent that works for both the defensive- and offensive-minded caster. We'll skip the first effect because it's a tiny bonus for when you actually want to cast Greater Heal. On the other hand, the second effect invites you to keep casting Smite to get to another Penance quicker -- you'll have Glyph of Penance (prime) on, too, of course. Now keep in mind that Penance can also be used offensively, making it possible to chain cast Smite to get to Penance, with all the bonuses that come with casting Smite.
  • Focused Will - "Hard to kill" would probably be a decent way to describe discipline priests. Focused Will adds "freaking" to that descriptor. The tricky thing about this talent is that it only procs with an attack that actually damages you for 10 percent of your health or more. This means that if you absorb damage through a shield and only get hurt for about 9 percent of your health after mitigation, this talent won't trigger. It's still a useful talent for when your shields fall off before Weakened Soul has expired.
Discipline is an exciting PvP spec to play and many priests who have forayed into battle as healers have experience with the tree. It has changed a bit in 4.0.1 with the stronger push towards Smite. Fully geared, you can dish out some respectable damage as a discipline priest with improved healing as a by-product. I no longer bothered to mention the talents that directly contribute to healing effectiveness because those should be easy to identify and define outside of a PvP perspective. The spec is still incredibly mobile and survivable, and most experienced PvP players will know not to take discipline lightly. Which is more than I can say for the next spec ...

Holy priest PvP Holy priests haven't really had the most fun in PvP these past years and it doesn't get much better in Cataclysm. Still, I find it most curious that the specialization ability that Blizzard gave to holy priests is a great PvP spell. Holy Word: Chastise is an instant cast, ranged spell that disorients its target for 3 seconds. It's a low-damage spell, but the disorient effect lends itself very well to PvP. It also transforms depending on your chakra state. Say what? Holy actually got a pretty cool mechanic that take a bit of getting used to. We'll take a look at that in a bit along with other nice things that holy got for PvP. It's important to point out that the holy tree will look quite different in Cataclysm, with some talents changing in the beta. This could indicate that the developers aren't quite set on what they want to do with the spec, so take everything with a little grain of salt.
  • Divine Fury - Boring but necessary. Because faster is better in PvP, you'll need to invest in this talent which reduces the casting time of essential spells by .5 seconds.
  • Desperate Prayer - An instant cast self-heal seems out of place and redundant as a talent for a healing spec, but there it is. The notable thing about Desperate Prayer is that it's free. This was supposed to be augmented by another talent called Binding Prayers, but that's nowhere to be seen right now. It's still a decent investment for 1 point and works well as a clutch spell in tight situations, especially since there'll little else in the tree to be excited about.
  • Improved Renew, Divine Touch, and Rapid Renewal (Cataclysm) - Improved Renew is a basic spell improvement on Renew, a spell you'll be casting a lot in mobile PvP fights. Divine Touch is the important talent that makes Renew tick as an instant heal, even if only for 10 percent of the Renew, giving your spells more bang for the buck. Rapid Renewal falls in line with the faster is better philosophy as it cuts down Renew's GCD down to 1 second, allowing for more Renew spammage. If Rapid Renewal actually makes it live, pick it up.
  • Holy Concentration, Chakra, Revelations, and State of Mind - Holy Concentration is your basic in-combat mana regeneration picked up mostly because it leads to the cooler talents. Chakra is the one talent that got holy priests all excited for Cataclysm because of its cool lore and exciting mechanics. Basically, you activate Chakra and cast a spell which will enhance your abilities for a specialized role, mostly different types of healing -- better nuke heals, better HoTs, and better AoE heals. In Cataclysm, Chakra's cooldown will drop to 30 seconds, making it easier to switch between states. Another effect that can be obtained when activating Chakra is a moderate increase to holy and shadow damage if you're so inclined. Even more interesting is Revelations, which transforms Holy Word: Chastise into an entirely different spell depending on your Chakra state. For single target nuke heals on low-health targets, there's Holy Word: Serenity; for better healing over time, there's Holy Word: Aspire; and for AoE, there's Holy Word: Sanctuary which you drop at an area. State of Mind simply ensures that you'll always have a Chakra up. If you're a holy priest and you aren't in a chakra state, you're doing it wrong. This is about as fun as the holy tree gets, sadly, and it's not even particularly awesome for PvP.
  • Tome of Light - Because you'll like cooldown reductions in PvP, you should pick this up. Especially since you'll always be in a chakra state and using a holy word spell as often as you can.
  • Spirit of Redemption - You might get some flak and chuckles whenever you pop into this form, but let's face it ... you'll die in PvP. A lot. In the battlegrounds, you'll get a free rez, but the option to stick around and heal with impunity is an important one. Sticking around to heal some more after your opponents think they've killed you off can mean the difference between capturing that flag or losing it. If you think you'll be dead quite a lot in the battlegrounds, consider glyphing with Glyph of Spirit of Redemption (major) -- that's 21 seconds of free, uninterruptible healing.
  • Body and Soul - Finally, a true PvP talent we can actually discuss. Body and Soul grants your Power Word: Shield targets a 60 percent speed boost for 4 seconds. That's crazy awesome. This means you increase your group's survivability and combat potency significantly -- by choosing the right targets, you can use Power Word: Shield as a defensive measure or part of offense. You can boost your teammates' speed when chasing a flag carrier or running away as one. There's also the added bonus of being able to dispel poisons with Cure Disease. It probably won't be as useful as you think when a rogue has you stun-locked, but the ability to dispel more debuff types is a premium in PvP. In Cataclysm, this ability also boosts the speed of your Life Grip targets, which, needless to say, is very cool.
  • Blessed Resilience - This is the holy priest's version of Focused Will and suffers from the same drawback -- it will only proc if you actually take damage totalling 10 percent of your health or more. It's actually worse because it doesn't proc any mitigation, which you'll need more in PvP, but bonus to heals received. On the battlefield, that often means heals you'll be casting on yourself. If you take damage that huge, that means someone is bearing down on you, which means you're less likely to be casting those big nuke heals on yourself. Thank goodness for chakras and Holy Word: Aspire, then, right?
  • Test of Faith - Three points for a passive boost to healing on targets below 50 percent health. Sounds expensive but if you think about it, you'll have plenty of targets below 50 percent health in the battlegrounds or arenas, even if the new environment is all about higher health pools.
The bottom line? Holy PvP still sucks compared to discipline. There just aren't enough talents in the tree to truly support a PvP-oriented playstyle. Most of it is generic increases to heals, a little more flexibility thanks to chakras, and a few token talents such as Body and Soul. For now, holy remains such a highly PvE-centric spec that it seems almost counterproductive to invest in Body and Soul. You're almost better off just playing the battlegrounds in your PvE healing spec ... the change will be hardly palpable. The tree still feels like a work in progress, so I wouldn't rule out some interesting talents to keep holy competitive in PvP.

Shadow priest PvP Finally, there's shadow. Without a doubt, when many players wish to just have fun in PvP with their priest, they turn to the shadow spec. In the early days of the game, PvP was pretty much the only area shadow priests excelled at and nobody would want to bring them to raids. They gained PvE viability somewhere along the way and lost a lot of their PvP viability in arenas. Cataclysm is a whole new ball game, though, and with the advent of rated battlegrounds, expect to see a lot of shadow priests on the battlefield. Let's take a look at what you can do with the spec.
  • Veiled Shadows - Basic ability cooldown reduction on tier one, which is expected. You pick this up for the shorter cooldown on Shadowfiend, which is a great ability to regain mana and DPS at the same time, but the real beauty of this talent is the cooldown reduction to Fade. You'll want to pair this up with Glyph of Fade (major) to bring Fade's cooldown to an amazing 15 seconds. Wait, you say, isn't Fade a PvE ability? I laugh a sinister laugh and say, "hang on, we'll get to that in a bit."
  • Improved Psychic Scream and Silence - This is the class' best self-peel and can even be used to scatter opponents to save a teammate from a beatdown. Overall Psychic Scream is just an extremely versatile spell that can be used offensively as well as defensively, so you'll want a lower cooldown on that. Lower cooldowns are always good in PvP, but lower cooldowns on a crowd control spell are gold. It's also the prerequisite to Silence, which is about as PvP-centric as you can get to a talent. It has a long 45-second cooldown, but it's a ranged blanket silence, which makes it more powerful than typical interrupts.
  • Improved Mind Blast - You want to Mind Blast your opponents, not merely because it'll hurt them a lot, but also because Improved Mind Blast will let you cast more of it while applying a Mortal Strike effect at the same time. This healing reduction only applies to Mind Blasts cast while you're in Shadowform, keeping the PvP aspect of the spell strictly in the hands of shadow priests.
  • Improved Devouring Plague - Normally, I wouldn't include simple DPS increases as a PvP must-have, but this talent adds an instant-cast burst component to Devouring Plague. You'll want to squeeze as much damage out of this spell, too, since it also has a healing component. Considering you'll be in Shadowform all the time, you can use all the healing you can get from other sources.
  • Twisted Faith - Basic, boring, and bland ... but absolutely necessary. You want that hit.
  • Shadowform - You'll be picking up this talent, anyway, but I'll point out that the passive damage reduction is pretty sweet.
  • Phantasm - Here's where I continue my sinister laugh and point out that with this talent Fade will allow you to shrug off snares every 15 seconds. Add Dispel Magic into that mix and you'll have practical immunity to all kinds of snares, which should come in handy as you kite your prey to their doom.
  • Harnessed Shadows - You want shadow orbs. Shadow orbs are delicious. They're your mastery effect that adds sweet, face-melting power to your spells. Harnessed Shadows makes sure that you'll always have some shadow orbs floating around, and the good part is that you automatically get one if you're crit by an opponent. In PvP, you're pretty likely to get crit now and again, especially with the changes to resilience, so you might as well get something out of it.
  • Vampiric Embrace, Masochism, Vampiric Touch, and Sin and Punishment - All these talents are just excellent for PvP, starting with Vampiric Embrace, which turns all your single target DPS spells into passive heals for you and your allies. Since you can't cast any holy spells in Shadowform, Vampiric Embrace is essential to your survivability. The more pain you dish out, the more you can heal yourself. Masochism provides some mana regeneration that procs off taking damage, even self-inflicted ones from Shadow Word: Death. I also highly recommend getting Glyph of Shadow Word: Death (prime) which allows you to instantly recast Shadow Word: Death at your opponents if the first cast fails to kill them off. In conjunction with Glyph of Spirit Tap (major), you're looking at some massive mana regeneration every time you kill a target. You can also gain mana back from Vampiric Touch, a DoT that procs mana refunds whenever you hit the target with the debuff with a Mind Blast. Finally there's Sin and Punishment, which discourages the dispelling of your Vampiric Touch by proccing an AoE horror effect. Overall, just a whole lot of PvP goodness.
  • Mind Melt - Make sure you deal that killing blow by packing more punch into your Shadow Word: Death with Mind Melt. In Cataclysm, you'll learn Mind Spike at level 81, which you'll be casting to proc an instant, high- or auto-crit Mind Blast. Extremely nasty ... and it doesn't even end there.
  • Paralysis - So you'll be getting 100 percent crits with Mind Blast, right? Well, Paralysis will lock your targets in place with a physical root that can't be dispelled. That's just disgusting. Fortunately for your opponents, the Paralysis effect can actually miss or be dodged because it constitutes some form of physical attack. Don't ask. Blizzard probably just made it that way so that you don't feel too godly.
  • Pain and Suffering - Since you'll be applying Mind Flay on your opponent as often as possible to keep them snared and, uh, dying, you'll want to pick up Pain and Suffering to refresh your Shadow Word: Pain automatically. You'll also want it for the 40 percent reduction to the damage you'll take from Shadow Word: Death. Since you'll be able to spam Shadow Word: Death whenever you don't land that killing blow (just make sure not to kill yourself in the process).
  • Psychic Horror - Another PvP-centric talent! Although it's designed to give shadow priests higher survivability against melee classes, the spell can be used as crowd control in a pinch against any target. It's also usable as an interrupt whenever Silence is down. Augment it with Glyph of Psychic Horror (major) to reduce the spell's cooldown to one minute. Note that this is a horror effect, so abilities that break fears won't break it.
  • Dispersion - I typically don't talk about the 31-point talent in a tree simply because you're supposed to pick it up, anyway, but how can I not mention Dispersion? It's the best PvP talent in a tree that's loaded with PvP talents. Think of it as a priest's own Ice Block or bubble, and you can even glyph with Glyph of Dispersion (prime) to increase your survivability immensely.
The developers worked hard at making shadow viable in PvP -- and it would almost seem like they went a little overboard. What the holy tree lacks in PvP-centeredness, the shadow tree boasts in spades. Survivability is high if only because the new environment is all about higher stamina and shadow priests have plenty of outs -- fears, roots, and even an "oh $#!+" button. Shadow has the most talents geared towards PvP and it should be fun to play it in the battlegrounds. Holy must be shelved for now and players looking to heal in PvP are still better off speccing discipline (EDIT: Readers have pointed out, and I must admit I agree, that holy works well in the battlegrounds. Considering this is a battlegrounds column, I confess I didn't give holy's PvE strength enough credit in the battleground environment). If you need to round out your glyphs, I recommend Glyph of Fear Ward (major) which reduces Fear Ward's cooldown and duration to 2 minutes, which should be useful for when Fear Ward is consumed or dispelled too soon. In the next installment, we'll check out those sneaky, stabby creatures known as rogues!
 
177.The OverAchiever: Guide to Pilgrim's Bounty 2010



The Pilgrim's Bounty holiday was introduced to World of Warcraft just last year, so it's still fairly new. This year, the event will run from Sunday, November 21st through Saturday, November 27th. On my EST server, the start and end times on both dates will be 4:00 am, but you'll want to check the times on your own realm.

Pilgrim's Bounty is not part of the yearlong meta What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been. That's not to say that the holiday's without its share of rewards, though; doing the Pilgrim meta will grant both the Pilgrim title and the plump turkey pet. However, the holiday has an unbeatable side benefit; it's the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to level cooking to 350. Pilgrim's Bounty is tailor-made for anyone who needs to level cooking on a bunch of alts, or anyone who never got around to doing it on his/her main.

Pilgrim's Bounty hasn't appeared at any point on WoW's PTR or beta since last year, so we're assuming for the moment that the holiday hasn't changed from its 2009 incarnation beyond a few bug fixes (that and the developers are probably working at breakneck speed on Cataclysm still). I've updated and clarified our 2009 guide past the cut, and will also be around as the event goes live to ensure all the information here is accurate.

"FOOD FIGHT!" (Alliance) and "FOOD FIGHT!" (Horde)

This is a very simple achievement. Bountiful Tables are located in each capital's feasting area, and all of them are very large and easy to spot. Each chair at each table is actually a vehicle. Mouse over the chairs and you'll see them clearly labeled, e.g. "The Stuffing Chair" or "The Turkey Chair." Once you've taken a seat (for this achievement, it won't matter where), you'll find five options available:
  1. Passing a dish You can only pass a dish already located at that chair. If you're sitting in the sweet potatoes chair, you can pass sweet potatoes, and so on and so forth.
  2. Eating turkey If you're in the turkey chair, this will always be an available option; otherwise, it must be passed to you.
  3. Eating cranberries If you're in the cranberry chair, this will always be an available option; otherwise, it must be passed to you.
  4. Eating stuffing If you're in the stuffing chair, this will always be an available option; otherwise, it must be passed to you.
  5. Eating sweet potatoes If you're in the sweet potatoes chair, this will always be an available option; otherwise, it must be passed to you.
  6. Eating pie If you're in the pie chair, this will always be an available option; otherwise, it must be passed to you.
The only thing you need for this achievement is to have someone else sitting at the table. Sit wherever you like, target a fellow player at the table, and use the first option (to "pass" a dish) repeatedly. Rather than passing it, you'll eventually throw it at them and get your achievement.

As with all holidays, Pilgrim's Bounty tends to be busiest in the first few days and more particularly at server high times, so I would advise doing this early.

Sharing is Caring (Alliance) and Sharing is Caring (Horde)

As with "FOOD FIGHT!", this is an achievement done while seated at a Bountiful Table. You'll need to visit all five chairs at a Table and select the first option (again, passing the dish) at each one. No other player is required to be at the table for you to get this. However, if the feast area is crowded and players aren't budging from their own chairs, you can get this achievement by visiting different chairs at different tables.

Now We're Cookin' (Alliance) and Now We're Cookin' (Horde)

This requires you to cook all five holiday recipes. You'll need to have at least 280 cooking skill to make all of them, but if you haven't leveled cooking, don't worry; Pilgrim's Bounty exists for just this reason.

The recipes you'll need are all from a single book sold for one silver by Pilgrim's Bounty vendors (all of whom will be located in feast areas). The book is called the Bountiful Cookbook and requires only 1 Cooking in order to use. Right-click the book once it's in your inventory, and it'll give you all five recipes.

The recipes you'll need to cook are:
  • Spice Bread Stuffing (requires one cooking skill): This one is the only recipe that uses an existing cooking item, but fortunately for us, it's the earliest one available -- one Spice Bread plus one Autumnal Herbs.
  • Pumpkin Pie (requires 100 cooking skill): one Ripe Elwynn Pumpkin (Alliance, purchased from the Stormwind vendor) or Ripe Tirisfal Pumpkin (Horde, purchased from the Undercity vendor), plus one Honey.
  • Cranberry Chutney (requires 160 cooking skill): one Tangy Wetland Cranberries (Alliance, purchased from the Ironforge vendor) or Tangy Southfury Cranberries (Horde, purchased from the Orgrimmar vendor), plus one Honey.
  • Candied Sweet Potato (requires 220 cooking skill): one Teldrassil Sweet Potato (Alliance, purchased from the Darnassus vendor) or Mulgore Sweet Potato (Horde, purchased from the Thunder Bluff vendor), plus one Honey and one Autumnal Herbs.
  • Slow-Roasted Turkey (requires 280 cooking skill): For this recipe, you'll need to make a trip to Elwynn Forest or Tirisfal Glades in order to get Wild Turkey, which is a 100% drop off the Wild Turkey mobs that spawn there for the duration of the holiday. One Wild Turkey per recipe, plus two Honey and one Autumnal Herbs.
Pilgrim's Bounty vendors sell the Simple Flour, Refreshing Spring Water, Mild Spices, Honey, and Autumnal Herbs you'll need for all five recipes, so you won't need to make any special trips for ingredients beyond turkeys. You don't even need to train cooking elsewhere; there'll be a cooking trainer in the feast areas too! Vendors in Stormwind/Undercity, Orgrimmar/Ironforge, and Darnassus/Thunder Bluff will also sell you the pumpkins, cranberries, and sweet potatoes (respectively) you'll need, so until you reach 280 cooking skill you won't even need to set foot outside your faction's major cities. If you want to make things especially convenient for yourself, make sure you cook at least 20 of each recipe so you can turn them into holiday NPCs for Pilgrim's Progress.

Once you get to the Slow-Roasted Turkey recipe, you'll need to make a hunting trip to Elwynn Forest or Tirisfal Glades. For the length of the holiday, low-level Wild Turkey mobs with two HP spawn all over these zones, and their meat is a 100 percent drop. As long as you're out stocking up on them for cooking purposes, you might as well do --

The Turkinator (Alliance) and The Turkinator (Horde)

Each time you kill a Wild Turkey mob, you'll get a 30-second stacking buff named Turkey Tracker. The object of this achievement is to kill 40 turkeys without letting the buff drop. As such, every time you kill a turkey, you'll have 30 seconds from each kill to find and slaughter another one. Do this successfully 40 times and you'll get Turkinator.

This achievement attracted no small number of complaints last year, mostly due to uneven mob spawns and griefing by other players (druids abusing Travel Form and Moonfire were a particular sore point). While this year's holiday will probably be less hectic as many players already have the Pilgrim meta on their mains, you're still better off abandoning attempts at The Turkinator for a day or two if your server's very busy. While there are a lot of turkeys available in both zones and they respawn quickly, it can still be difficult to get a perfect 40-mob killing spree if you have serious competition for the spawns. I'll put it this way; finding and killing as many turkeys as you want at any point during this holiday is not difficult. It's finding and killing 40 of them within 30 seconds of each other with competition nearby that can get hairy.

I was able to manage this by circling Brightwater Lake in Tirisfal once, but even if you don't work with a set path, you can make it easier by making a /tar Wild Turkey macro and just spamming it. Nearby turkeys will light up, so head for the nearest kill, spam the macro again, and keep at it.

Click Part 2 (below) for the rest of the guide!

Part 2 >>
 
178.Breakfast Topic: WoW on the go

 

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

All of us have a life outside of Azeroth. People always say how much more important real life is than the game. However, if we say we are going to be somewhere in the game, shouldn't we take that commitment as seriously as one in the real world? If we tell our guild or friends we will be there for a raid or to PvP, shouldn't we do our best to not let them down? Isn't telling your WoW friends that you will be somewhere and simply not showing up without any notice just as bad as if it were your real life friends?

Since I am a tank for my guild, I pretty much have to be at almost every raid. In order to make raids when not at home I have raided on laptops and at other people's houses, just so I don't let people down. By not always playing on my home PC I have learned to be a minimalist with mods as well as learning what the minimum settings I can still effectively tank with. This has allowed me to maintain most of my real life and in game commitments.

Have you ever had to play WoW outside of your own home to fulfill your social obligations? Do you have a gaming laptop for this purpose? Have you played at a friend or relative's house on their PC? Do you have different UIs or mod setups for your PC and laptop?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

 
179.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
 The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
180.Cataclysm Beta: A walk-through of the all-new Westfall
This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Editor's Note: This article contains heavy plot spoilers for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. Read at your own risk!


In the heart of every player who has leveled a human character lies a special place for the gentle, rolling plains of Westfall. Despite the fallow fields and barren hills, the region has a sort of natural beauty to it that many players have found irresistible, making it a favorite for Alliance players. Given its high popularity and my own nostalgia for the zone, I was a bit worried when Cataclysm was announced. What would happen to the great zone? Would it be so radically changed that it no longer resembled what it once was? Would it go by mostly untouched, leaving it unused in the wake of more polished zones?

Fear not! The zone has retained its raw beauty and has received a number of much needed upgrades. The town of Sentinel Hill is now much more secure, with a large wall and greater defenses. The layout of the zone remains mostly the same, with the exception of the Raging Chasm. Once the Alexston Farmstead, this area is a swirling vortex of wind and dust, a remnant of the cataclysm. It adds a new feature to the skyline of Westfall, as it towers into the air at a distance that can be seen from any corner of the zone.

The similarities to the current zone stop at aesthetics, however. The actions of our heroes all those years ago have cleared the Defias out of the land. The Westfall Brigade continues to keep the peace after its return from Grizzly Hills. But in the wake of the cataclysm, a new development grips Westfall, and fear returns to the land.

As players enter from nearby Elwynn Forest, they meet up with Lt. Horatio Laine (CSI: Miami fans, rejoice -- he is complete with red hair and sunglasses. Yeah!), who is investigating the murder of the Furlbrows and -- brace yourself -- Old Blanchy. Horatio sends players to investigate by interrogating nearby peasants at the Jansen Stead. The investigation yields few results, so Laine asks you to delve deeper by attacking nearby gnoll and murloc encampments. These investigations reveal a few scraps of red cloth (memories resurfacing yet?) and a threatening letter to the Furlbrows.

Who is the shadowy figure?

The investigation continues, sending players into the back of the Jangolode Mine to eavesdrop on a meeting between Glubtok (the foreman of the kobold miners) and a Shadowy Figure. The Figure offers Glubtok a chance to join her, with promises of wealth and power. Glubtok accepts, and the Figure promises to call for him when "the dawning" is upon them. Baffled, players return to the Pumpkin Patch (where there is now a flight point!).

Next, the player eavesdrops on a group of thugs who discuss a mysterious woman, who has sent Thug 2 to thank them for "the job that [they] did for her on the Furlbrows." They begin to ask Thug 2 if he saw her face, asking "Is it really ..." before being rudely interrupted by the player, who is then attacked. After dispatching them, players return to Horatio Laine, who sends them to Saldean's Farm.

Westfall Stew has survived the cataclysm! The Saldeans have players collect some ingredients and kill some Harvest Golems before sending them to Sentinel Hill to meet with Hope Saldean, their adoptive daughter. How sweet!

Hope asks you to feed Westfall Stew to the nearby homeless Stormwind citizens while the Westfall Brigade deals with gnolls. Gryan sends players to an SI:7 agent near Mortwake's Tower in the southeast (previously Klaven's Tower, which was involved in a rogue quest). There, players observe a conversation between the Shadowy Figure and Helix Gearbreaker. The Figure asks Gearbreaker to gather the people in Moonbrook one last time before "the dawning." Players return to Sentinel Hill, where Gryan interrogates a worgen, Ripsnarl, who is locked up next to the tower, before sending players to Moonbrook.

Moonbrook now has a small Alliance outpost and is not swarming with enemies, a godsend for players running into The Deadmines (still accessed through the building in the southwest area of the town). Players are asked to collect propaganda and find scraps of red cloth on aggressive thieves. If the memories aren't hitting you yet, don't worry. Players then eavesdrop on the final meeting between the Figure and the people, in which she rallies them against Stormwind.

With this information in hand, the Westfall Brigade enlists the aid of a Shaman, who sends players into The Deadmines with a bit of incense. At the entrance of the instance, players are shown a scene in which five Alliance heroes (a warrior, priest, mage, hunter and rogue) kill Edwin VanCleef, the former leader of the Defias gang. Once he is killed, the heroes take off -- and a small girl, Vanessa VanCleef, walks out onto the deck, saying: "Daddy? ..."

The hidden player is revealed

Players rush back to Sentinel Hill and inform Gryan of this information. Gryan is shocked, but is interrupted by a nearby noise. At this point, Hope Saldean walks out of the tower and begins to speak to Gryan. I'll let their conversation speak for itself.
Gryan says: I don't like this. Stay alert!
Hope walks out from the tower to Gryan.
Hope says: You bastards will burn for what you did.
Gryan says: Hope! Wha ...
Hope says: Hope? Is that what I was supposed to feel when I saw my father decapitated by your henchmen?
Hope says: Hope is a cruel joke, played upon us by a harsh and uncaring world. There is no Hope, there is only Vanessa. Vanessa VanCleef.
Hope sheds her disguise, revealing herself as Vanessa VanCleef!
Vanessa yells: RISE UP BROTHERHOOD! THE DAWNING DAY IS UPON US!
A large number of blackguards spawn around the friendlies.
Vanessa says: Tie them up.
Vanessa walks up to Ripsnarl, freeing him from the stock.
Vanessa says: Admiral, your hat.
Ripsnarl gains his human form.
Admiral Ripsnarl says: Thank you, my dear.
Vanessa says: And you ... I will spare your life. You have done much to help our cause, albeit unwittingly, but the next time we meet, it will be as enemies.
Laine says: Just tell me one thing, Vanessa.
Laine says: Why'd you have the Furlbrows killed?
Vanessa says: I had no choice, lieutenant. They recognized me. The only people in the world who even knew I existed, recognized my face from when I was an infant.
Vanessa says: I took no pleasure in their deaths.
Vanessa yells: Leave nothing but ashes in your wake, brothers! Burn Sentinel Hill to the ground!
The blackguards throw flares, setting Sentinel Tower alight.
Gryan says: Get to Stormwind. Tell King Wrynn everything. EVERYTHING! GO NOW!
With the mystery of the Furlbrow's murder solved, players make it to King Wrynn, who agrees to send reinforcements to the region. But Sentinel Hill is already in flames. The Defias, reformed under Vanessa, have burned the city and retreated, and now the Brigade scrambles to recover what little has not yet burned down.

Unfortunately, it is here that the quest chain ends. Stoutmantle sends players to Redridge, saying that he will call upon players again at some point in the future; three zones later, I have yet to receive word from him. I assume the quests continue inside The Deadmines, but I have yet to venture inside -- a spectacular, yet frustratingly abrupt end to a classic zone that is better than ever in the wake of Cataclysm.
 
181.Addon Spotlight: ElvUI

 


Each week, WoW Insider brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same. This week, I am impressed with Elv's tukui revamp.

It is rare that I find a full interface replacement that makes me so enthralled that I must turn The Spotlight to it. The Spotlight is truly a powerful tool. A friend was experimenting with tukui, a very capable and gorgeous full interface replacement, but was just having a few nitpicky issues with the whole package. There were just a few things he wanted implemented differently, and he began the search for interface nirvana.

What he found and then subsequently passed on to me is a heavily modified version of Tukui called ElvUI, a drop-dead gorgeous interface replacement that is lightweight and minimalist and that fits many resolutions. This UI is a bit advanced, and I wouldn't recommend such a complete overhaul for any and every user. But once you get this whole setup working, there are few addons that can compare to how great ElvUI makes WoW look and feel.

Addon Spotlight: ElvUI


Each week, WoW Insider brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same. This week, I am impressed with Elv's tukui revamp.

It is rare that I find a full interface replacement that makes me so enthralled that I must turn The Spotlight to it. The Spotlight is truly a powerful tool. A friend was experimenting with tukui, a very capable and gorgeous full interface replacement, but was just having a few nitpicky issues with the whole package. There were just a few things he wanted implemented differently, and he began the search for interface nirvana.

What he found and then subsequently passed on to me is a heavily modified version of Tukui called ElvUI, a drop-dead gorgeous interface replacement that is lightweight and minimalist and that fits many resolutions. This UI is a bit advanced, and I wouldn't recommend such a complete overhaul for any and every user. But once you get this whole setup working, there are few addons that can compare to how great ElvUI makes WoW look and feel.
 
182.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the
new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
183.15 Minutes of Fame: Film follows fantasy of fighting Onyxia
Work Warning: Brief profanity in the video.

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made
World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Just as Azeroth prepares to explode in all its cataclysmic glory, films on gaming seem to be exploding onto the scene. There's the documentary from LFG Productions (many of you may have seen them filming at BlizzCon and our reader meetup last month) that will be following leading raiding guild <Blood Legion> in a full-court press into Cataclysm. There's The Raid, another take on raiding life that we also saw at BlizzCon, and the "zanier" take on gaming culture of Gamers.

In contrast to all those documentaries comes the short narrative film /afk. This live-action film, featuring extensive in-game footage produced by a whole host of well known machinimators -- Gigi, Teagen the Rogue, Baron Soosdon, the list goes on -- tells the tale of a WoW gamer whose psychiatrist informs him that he is gaming-addicted and should delete his character. Game over? Not quite. "The problem is that he always had this dream to solo Onyxia," explains creator Benjamin Dressler, "and he doesn't intend to leave without reaching that goal."

/afk debuts on YouTube later this week with a unique, in-game event that literally "unlocks" the premiere. On Nov. 19, Aventhor, the night elf character from the movie, will appear on Alleria (EU-A) at 7 p.m. GMT and Drenden (US-A) at 5 p.m. CST. Find him and unlock "/afk"! Players must find Aventhor on each server and perform his quests to unlock the movie on YouTube. For more details on the premiere event, see the video at the end of the article -- and join us after the break for a peek behind the scenes with creator Benjamin Dressler.

Main character Mowrig, level 80 shaman
Guild " Right now I'm not in a guild. I had to pause playing since the production of "/afk" really needed my full attention for the last couple of months."
Realm Alleria (EU)

15 Minutes of Fame: We hear you've got a whole cadre of machinimists working on the project. Who's doing what?

Benjamin Dressler: PvPGurl aka Gigi was my first contact and was the producer of the in-game scenes. By that, I mean she picked the members of the machinima crew, featured the project on her site, gave a lot of counsel and even got us into our first film festival. But she also helped in the actual filming of course.

Teagen the Rogue and Kam Uraki did everything to provide us with the technical fundamentals. They took care of creating and equipping all the characters, made sure the puppeteers knew where to meet and what to do and just spent huge amounts of time in making sure everything worked out so well.

WoPairs and Baron Soosdon did some actual machinimating. Since I wanted everything to look very real, we didn't use much machinimation, but what you'll see was done by those guys.

Last but not least there was Bloodvein, who did some very important special effects work. You probably won't even recognize what he did when you see the movie, but that's what makes really good special effects. They seem natural. He also designed our YouTube channel and animated the logo.

We also had a couple of puppeteers and great voice actors. I can't name all of them here, but I want to emphasize Darkpippi. He isn't very well known yet, but he also does parody songs and voice acting and did an outstanding job. I really think he should be on the radar of any machinimator or parody fan!

How did gaming lead you into machinima?

In fact, my interest in filmmaking started with machinimating. As far back as when StarCraft came out, I used to play around with the editor and always had most fun in scripting little scenes within the missions. I then did three machinimas in Warcraft 3. And while doing the last one of these, an adaption of "The Curse of Feanor," I consciously developed an interest in filmmaking.

So I started applying at film schools, read books about storytelling, bought a camcorder, all that stuff that you try when you really have no idea how to start a career like this. That was about six or seven years ago. So what really paid in the end was working at different film sets as a production driver, because it helped me in meeting a lot of experienced people who eventually became friends, helped on my films and taught me lots of stuff. I also read about 40 books on filmmaking. That kinda helped in terms of getting a theoretical background. And I watched a lot of films, listened to the audio commentaries, read interviews.

Actually, I didn't make enough films along the way. I really should've gotten my scripts more on the road and just made them with no budget and all. That's the only way you really see what works and what doesn't and the best way to learn. So that would clearly be an advice as to what to do different.

What's been the most challenging and enjoyable parts of this particular project? Were there aspects you'd never had to tackle in previous projects?

The most exciting thing about "/afk" for me is and was that I don't really know any project that went so far in mixing machinima and real film footage. There is a fantastic Dutch movie called BenX that used footage from Archlord, and there is of course that awesome South Park episode. But I would dare to say that we pushed that concept way further since about 30 percent of the action and the plot is really in game. And, as opposed to South Park, we tried to tell a story that could actually happen in game. We spent days and weeks to make every action in the game as believable as we could. In this movie, you won't see anyone get to level cap by killing level 1 boars.

I think this is so important because not only online games but the whole online world will eventually become a fundamental part of human life. And the reason why there isn't really a decent movie about gaming yet is because filmmakers haven't tried to find ways to translate gaming into film (haven't seen Scott Pilgrim yet, though). We wanted to make a movie that gamers could watch while not constantly thinking, "Well, you'd never see that in the real game" but that people who don't play WoW could also watch and kinda get the idea of what gaming means to people that do it.

This was very hard because we had to find ways how to picture in-game action so people without a WoW background could understand what's going on. In the same instance, we couldn't explain the concept of raiding or being AFK forever because that would have bored gamers to death. This went down to things like the question of how long to show an in-game shot so that everyone could understand what was going on and no one would get bored -- not an easy thing to do, because we had no reference at all. But on the other hand, it was the most exciting thing about this because we this wasn't done a lot of times before.

How on earth did you fund such a critter?

/afk basically has no funding. Since we use Blizzard copyright, we can't make any profit with this. So we invested as little money as possible. We had to buy food, fuel for our cars, rent some lighting equipment and we bought some props (the murloc from the Blizzard shop did a great job in keeping the crew entertained!). Everything else was done without spending money. Everyone was working for free, we got to use most of the equipment for free, and the locations were just the places from people attached to the project.

On the one hand, it is really not fair that all those great people spent their time without getting paid. On the other hand, running low on money really makes you think more creatively. And you get people who are fueled by real motivation, not just some dollars.

What's next on your creative plate?

Oh, I wish I knew that for sure! At the moment, /afk is the only thing on my mind, but when it's out and finished, there are several projects I'd like to try and get made. Obviously, I'd love to revisit Piet and his world, maybe on a larger scale. But that depends on how well /afk will be received and if a certain game company we all love and worship will think that it's a good idea.
 
184.Cataclysm Beta Live Stream: Choose my goblin shaman adventure

Choose the adventures of WoW Insider's Robin Torres as she levels multiple alts in the Cataclysm beta, live every Monday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST.

Note: The stream is of the Cataclysm beta. This entire post is full of spoilers. You have been warned.

Hello and welcome to the live version of Choose My Adventure (beta edition). The day: Wednesday. The place: Lost Isles. The adventurer: Roblinator, the goblin shaman. The adventure: stuff. What kind of stuff? I'm not sure. But I suspect things will get blown up. Again.

Join me after the break while I narrate, read quests and take requests from the chat room. The show will run for at least an hour and be viewable on video, if you weren't able to watch it live. Also after the break are the adventures of Peenk and polls.

Live stream chat


The Adventures of Peenk, the gnome priestess


I cheated on you again. Peenk continued her investigations in Westfall, since she is never going to win the polls again, apparently. When last we left her, she was finding clues as to who killed the Furlbrows and their trusty horse. (Why are we more concerned about the dealth of Ol' Blanchy than about the human casualties?) Yesterday, she helped feed the homeless by getting the ingredients for coyote tail mud pie. No, I still don't understand why they would shun the coyote steak and want to eat fur and dirt. /shrug

Then we took a box (a vacated home) over to a mine, slaughtered kobolds until we got to the back (we took the candle), and then hid in the box to eavesdrop on a conversation between an ogre and a shadowy female figure. /cue thrilling music here

The eavesdropping continued after we returned to the farm, as we listened to some thugs confess to being hired to commit the murders. And then we killed the thugs, which really seems counterproductive. When we returned to deliver the results, we discovered that the guy helping us was dead and Horatio Laine was investigating his murder now, too. So off we went to visit the Saldeans for more information.

You remember the Saldeans, right? They make stew and want their fields cleared of those metal harvest golem guys. Guess what? They still do! Important thing to know as you make your way through Westfall: You can't just skip the stew quest. It is now part of the CSI Westfall quest chain. Yay animal part collecting ... I guess.

The best part of the entire trip was putting a heart in a harvest thingy and then running over a bunch of other harvest thingies. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

We left Peenk in Sentinel Hill to embark on her slightly reworded quests and continue the investigation. The inn has been finished, in case you were curious. It doesn't look good or comfortable, but it is finished.

Polls

I'm not putting up a poll for next week's Horde character. Let's just assume it's Roblinator again and go with that.

It looks like priest is the next to be eliminated in the post-Cataclysm Choose My Adventure goblin poll, which is too bad. I really think a goblin priestess would have been a good fit. If you haven't voted yet, please do so. We'll have the poll for the final two on Monday.

Choose the CMA goblin class, part II



Last Monday, we reached the end of worgen-only territory and are now in night elf lands doing night elf quests for night elves. So Robinella will be questing in Darkshore, if she wins again.

Alliance Choose My Adventure character

 
185.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
An island off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms, Tol Barad is a historic land now sought-after by the leaders of the Horde and the Alliance. Its strategic, isolated location makes it an ideal stronghold from which to conduct military strikes. In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, a battle will be waged to seize control of this prized territory. Should you triumph, unique rewards await you. Read more about this all-new world PvP and questing zone here.
 
186.The Daily Quest: There's no place like it
by Anne Stickney Nov 15th 2010 at 8:00PM WoW Insider's on a Daily Quest to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere. Occasionally when I'm doing my trawl for Daily Quest material, I run into a series of posts about the same subject. These are called "shared topics" -- and they can be awfully entertaining. There's a website out there called Blog Azeroth that offers these shared topics every now and again to bloggers that feel up to the challenge; if you're a Warcraft blogger, I'd recommend checking it out. The latest shared topic was particularly interesting: What does "home" in Azeroth mean to you? Here's a series of posts from around the blogosphere that address just that: Pink Pigtail Inn uses this opportunity to talk about player housing. Blessing of the Grove talks about the home-like qualities of guilds. Kallizta's Notes offers an RP perspective on the meaning of home. Good Morning Azeroth wonders what will happen to home in the wake of Cataclysm?
 
187.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview

Want to get a mouthful of murlocs? Straight from its appearance at BlizzCon 2010, Taverncraft is now announcing the immediately availability of RAWGRLRLRLRRLGLRL!!!, the latest addition to their renowned World of Warcraft Epic Collection Stein series. [more]Available at http://www.taverncraft.com, this impressive stein showcases Azeroth’s most famous denizens of the deep. Illustrated by premier fantasy artist Matt Cavotto, the fine-grain stoneware stein spotlights numerous murlocs throughout its panoramic, bas-relief image, including Winterfin Oracle, Bluefin Murloc, and Murloc Tidehunter, and is topped with an exclusive murloc-themed solid pewter lid.

 
188.The Queue: Turtles, horses and name origins

 

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Today is another one of those days where I just can't think of something interesting to say as an introduction. So ... how about that Q&A, huh?

Croe asked:

Are the sea turtles you fish up in Northrend going to be useful for getting around in Cataclysm in the initial stages?

Not particularly, no. The very first (or maybe second) quest in Vashj'ir gives you the ability to breathe underwater in that zone and also run like a maniac on the ocean floor. Not too much later, you earn an underwater seahorse mount that goes at epic flight speeds. Vashj'ir supplies you with better than the sea turtle, for sure.

Darasen asked:

Is there a lore reason that undead ride undead horses?

Sure. Their living horses died.

deweymaverick asked:

Is it still possible to get the Tripping the Rifts achievements, or is that portion of the Cataclysm warm-up over?

I picked it up on one of my alts Friday night after phase 3 of the Cataclysm prelude kicked in. As of Sunday night as I write this, it is still possible to get that achievement. That might change if phase 4 kicks in today (Monday), but I think it's going to stick around until the expansion launches.

LITH asked:

Will Gilneas City have an auction house? It seems like it would be a cool place to hang out.

No. Gilneas City, as a hub, does not exist. Once you've quested through it as a worgen, that's all there is. You get shunted out and there is no going back in any meaningful way. It is not being added as a capital city or anything of that sort. The Alliance is still just Stormwind, Ironforge, Darnassus and Exodar.

EaterOfBirds asked:

I'd like to know the origins of the names Ziebart and Sacco, actually. How to pronounce them properly, too. I'll be gutted if I've been saying them wrong in my head all this time.

Ziebart is a German name and the Americanized pronunciation is Zee-bart. I have no idea how it was pronounced before the name came overseas. I haven't looked into it that much. I'm far more interested in my mother's maiden name and have researched that much more. I was actually going to get my name legally changed to that one before I became Mr. Published Blogger/Editor/Author/Journalist. Losing name cred sucks.

I don't know as much about Mike's name, but I know Sacco is an Italian surname pronounced sock-o.
 
189.Spiritual Guidance: Levels 80 to 85 as a priest, plus recent beta changes



There is a lot to cover in Spiritual Guidance this week, so I'll be diving right in to the content. I was going to outsource my creative introduction to Mr. Fox Van Allen, but he wanted to be paid entirely in red M&Ms, so we'll just have to do without.

We'll be covering two topics today. The first will be to cover the latest build released on the Cataclysm beta earlier this week. There were some large changes made to AoE healing that affect both holy and discipline priests in different ways. Second, I've written up my advice on leveling from 80 to 85 as a healing priest.

Beta build 13277
  • Prayer of Healing base healing value has been increased by 20 percent, from [ 3,026 - 3,198 ] to [ 3,632 - 3,838 ].
  • Holy Word: Sanctuary's healing effectiveness now diminishes for each player beyond six within the area.
  • Tome of Light is now a tier 3 talent, down from tier 4.
  • Rapid Renewal is now a tier 4 talent.
  • Power Word: Barrier duration reduced to 10 seconds, down from 25 seconds. No longer absorbs a given amount of damage, now reduces all damage done to friendly targets by 30 percent. While within the barrier, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage.
  • Divine Aegis now also procs from all heals from Prayer of Healing.
  • Grace now increases all healing received from the Priest by 4/8 percent, up from 2/4 percent.
These are the changes priests got. You'll notice right off that Holy Word: Sanctuary got scaled down in effectiveness. Every other healer received a similar change, so don't freak out. The reason for this change (and many others on the list) has to do with how players were healing raids in the beta. There weren't any caps on how many people most of these AoE spells could heal, so the most effective way to heal your raid was to have all the healers use their AoE abilities in the same place, then have the raid group up in that area. Holy priests didn't perform so well on the meters against other classes using this healing model, due to a combination of lower base healing, mana shortages, and the general demands Chakra requires to upkeep. Disc priests fared even worse because their AoE "heal" took the form of Power Word: Barrier, which just didn't equate to the constantly available AoE heals other healers had. Further, since Cataclysm has made every healing class a viable tank healer, there was no real min-max reason to bring a disc priest to just tank heal, when every other member of the raid could do that and raid heal.

So that's what a lot of these changes are about. Blizzard clearly wants all the healing classes to have to rely on more than just AoE healing abilities, and I'd say that's a good choice if they want to keep healing fun for all of us. I am slightly concerned the changes will adversely affect the difficulty of 10-man and 25-man healing (namely, 10-man healing could potentially become easier, since the diminish won't hurt a 10-man raid as much as a 25-man raid), but that's not really something we need to discuss here. You can explore this topic more with Mattwell (that's a nickname he got doing the Circle of Healing Podcast) in his Raid Rx column.

Looking at the new Power Word: Barrier

I do want to clarify that the changes to disc are definitely positive, but the new Power Word: Barrier (which is basically an AoE Pain Suppression) strikes me as absurdly overpowered. It's really cool -- don't get me wrong -- but I think if the ability stands, we'll see strategies for encounters where multiple priests are taken just to rotate the use of Power Word: Barrier. I'd anticipate a nerf of some kind, either to the percentage of absorption it does or the length of the cooldown. Alternatively, the developers could reduce both the cooldown and percentage of absorption a whole bunch so we could use the ability say ... once every 30 seconds, and in doing so, be given more control over our spell and cooldown usage.

I think this last suggestion would be the most ideal, since cooldowns like Pain Suppression aren't really all that fun to use in raids anyway. Some 75 percent of the time that I use Guardian Spirit or Pain Suppression, it is in time with a certain boss mechanic in the fight, and my turn to use it is decided by the raid leader, not me. I find using Pain Suppression in PvP to be a lot more fun, since you, the healer, decide when you might need it. Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong -- but even if the cooldown is a waste, it's a lot more fun to get to make that decision rather than being the slave to some encounter mechanic. We should have the flexibility to make our own decisions in combat; having another Pain Suppression would just mean waiting for the predetermined time in a fight to use your ability and hoping you don't screw it up.

Prayer of Healing receives another buff

Finally, the Prayer of Healing buff and the change to discipline's Divine Aegis to effectively give us a group-specific, shield version of Wild Growth. The buff to Prayer of Healing (this is the third major one, the previous ones being a big reduction in the mana cost and a .5-second reduction to the cast time) will help both specs out a lot, since holy uses it for maintaining Chakra: Sanctuary, and disc doesn't have too much synergy with the spell on its own. I'm pretty notorious for hating on Prayer of Healing because of its poor cost-effectiveness and the fact that it's usually unnecessary (using a spell to heal five people when only three of them need healing is a terrible waste) -- so imagine my surprise that the spell now seems like a viable tool for our toolbox. The combined changes might even make me love it like I loved it in Ulduar, where the tier 8 two-piece bonus basically made you proc four to five Divine Aegis soap bubbles without a special new design mechanic. It was the 3.2 nerf that led to the rift between Prayer of Healing and me; maybe we can reconcile in Cataclysm. It's going to have to stop wearing those skinny jeans, though.

Anyway, the Divine Aegis, Prayer of Healing change is pretty nifty for disc. It's not quite what I wanted (read: new ability), but I expect it to be pretty fun to use. I hope that mastery scaling on Divine Aegis won't make it too powerful -- Zusterke, where are you? Do math for me! -- so we don't end up shield-spamming again, but I have some faith that Blizzard will be keeping an eye on that if the ingredients for disaster are there. I'll fill you in on the math and how well the changes work in actual execution later.
 
190.Know Your Lore: Stormrage and the Emerald Nightmare, part 1

 

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how, but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

The events playing out in game right now have long-lasting repercussions on future lore, but there are also events playing out that aren't present in game. The Shattering by Christie Golden details some of these events, but there's another book out there that also has an effect in upcoming events. I'm talking about Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak, which was released earlier this year and covered information regarding the Emerald Nightmare.

Even though the book was released some time ago, the effects of the book haven't been felt. This is because as far as timelines go, Stormrage hadn't really happened yet -- or has it? The book takes place somewhere between Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, and though we don't see any of the events in the book played out in game, we see players from the book and the repercussions of the book's events. Today, we're going to give an overview of what's in the book and how it affects what's going to play out in Cataclysm.

Please note: The following post is all about Stormrage and contains spoilers for the majority of the novel as well as the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. If you're planning on picking up the book, turn away now, lest ye be spoiled for eternity!

While the timeline for Stormrage isn't exactly defined, what we do know about events leading up to the book can all be found in game. The dark manifestation of the Emerald Nightmare has been plaguing the Emerald Dream since vanilla WoW. Horde players first see evidence of this in the Wailing Caverns instance, where the druid Naralex and his followers have been corrupted, which is why the Druids of the Fang and their home are hostile to all players. Alliance players may enter the Wailing Caverns as well; however, most Alliance avoided the instance, as it was in the heart of Horde leveling territory and thus way, way out of the way to get to.

Later, players entering the Sunken Temple were exposed to Eranikus. The Sunken Temple, originally called the Temple of Atal'Hakkar, was the home of the Atal'ai trolls who had fled Stranglethorn Vale. They built the temple in order to summon Hakkar the Soulflayer; when Ysera caught wind of their plan, she smashed the temple into the marshes. After doing so, she sent Eranikus and four other drakes -- Dreamscythe, Weaver, Hazzas, and Morphaz -- into the temple to take care of any remaining Atal'ai. Unfortunately, Eranikus fell to the corruption of the Emerald Nightmare while in the Sunken Temple, and his shade resides in the temple proper.

Players noted a distinct lack of Malfurion Stormrage in World of Warcraft -- and the addition of a new faction leader of sorts, Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm. Fandral was caustic and rude to any players leveling through the zone, and when players questioned where exactly Malfurion had disappeared to, it was revealed that he was deep in slumber in the Emerald Dream, fighting the Emerald Nightmare.

The Nightmare's effect reached Ysera's four most trusted advisors -- Lethon, Emeriss, Taerar, and Ysondre -- corrupting the four dragons and unleashing them on Azeroth in Patch 1.8.0. Players who defeated the dragons and retrieved the Nightmare-Engulfed Object were treated to a rare glimpse of Malfurion Stormrage:
Malfurion Stormrage: Remulos, old friend. It is good to see you once more. I knew this message would find its way to you -- one way or another.
Keeper Remulos: It was shrouded in nightmares, Malfurion. What is happening in the Dream? What could cause such atrocities?
Malfurion Stormrage: I fear for the worst, old friend. Within the Dream we fight a new foe, born of an ancient evil. Ysera's ancient brood has fallen victim to the old whisperings. It seems as though the Nightmare has broken through the realm and seeks a new host on Azeroth.
In the events leading up to Patch 1.9.0: The Gates of Ahn'Quiraj, players attempted to retrieve three shards, red, blue, and green, to form the Scepter of the Shifting Sands. The green shard was in the hands of Eranikus -- and Eranikus had to be redeemed and freed of the Emerald Nightmare's corruption before the shard could be turned over. After his redemption, courtesy of Tyrande Whisperwind, Eranikus vanished, presumably to return to the Dream.

All of these events lead us to Stormrage. In Stormrage, the Emerald Nightmare is beginning to break free of the Emerald Dream and into Azeroth itself, and characters from around the world experience nightmarish visions that only fuel the Nightmare. The first of these is Thura, niece of the fallen orc warrior Broxigar. Thura was given Broxigar's wooden axe, crafted by Cenarius, from the War of the Ancients Trilogy, and she had a horrific vision of her uncle being murdered by Malfurion Stormrage. Upon awakening, Thura swore to hunt down this night elf and have her revenge.

Meanwhile in Darnassus, Tyrande Whisperwind had her own nightmare. See, during all these years in World of Warcraft, Malfurion had been sleeping in the Emerald Dream, his body safely hidden away. But that body of Malfurion's had been slowly deteriorating, and Tyrande's priestesses were the only things that were keeping that body alive. In Tyrande's vision, Malfurion's body continued to decay and warp, turning into a ghastly tree, leaves fluttering in the wind. When Tyrande awoke from her vision, she knew what was going on -- Malfurion was dying, and even her best priestesses couldn't stop it from happening.

In between this were the druids of the Cenarion Circle and Fandral Staghelm. Two of these druids, Broll Bearmantle and Hammul Runetotem, played heavy parts in the events to come. Essentially, what happened is that Fandral called together a convocation of the druids because Teldrassil was failing. This, too, we've seen in game; anyone who has leveled a night elf can see evidence of Teldrassil's corruption all throughout the starting zones. Fandral decided to do something about this by having the strongest druids of the order come together and feed their powers into strengthening the failing World Tree.

In order to accomplish this, Fandral sought to use the Idol of Remulos, a dangerous artifact that was retrieved by Broll Bearmantle during the Warcraft Comics series. Broll returned the corrupted artifact to Fandral, who presumably cleansed it. With the Idol, the druids could begin to help Teldrassil recover. But Tyrande interrupted the event, informing Fandral of Malfurion's waning health and demanding that everyone travel to Moonglade to figure out a way to fix her ailing lover.

Broll, meanwhile, had his own disturbing visions -- visions of Azeroth, trying to warn him of some impending doom, and of the evil that still lurked in the Idol of Remulos. When Hamuul suggested that Broll pass on this information to the Cenarion Circle, Broll politely declined, suggesting Fandral might think him completely mad.

All over the rest of Azeroth, more people experienced visions. The entire city of Goldshire fell, its citizens refusing to wake up from their nightmares. The same went for Auberdine in Darkshore. More and more were falling to the Nightmare, including faction leaders. Thrall was engulfed in it, Sylvanas was captured in it -- and while Varian Wrynn managed to avoid it, his son Anduin fell prey to it.

Tyrande's plan was simple: She needed to get to Malfurion, and in order to do so, she needed to get into the Emerald Dream. Fandral wasn't really willing to help her, so that night in secret, she asked for Broll's help instead. Broll managed to steal the Idol of Remulos out from under Staghelm in order to use its powers to find Malfurion. With the help of Broll Bearmantle and the mysterious Idol of Remulos, she found her way to one of the portals. But Tyrande wasn't the only one seeking entrance into the Dream; Thura, niece of Broxigar, was still hunting Malfurion.

In their attempts to gain access to the Emerald Dream, Tyrande and Broll stumbled across Eranikus, former consort of Ysera -- no longer corrupt, but still drawn inexplicably to the Nightmare. Eranikus was entirely unwilling to enter the Dream, because he knew he'd be a target for the Nightmare as soon as he entered -- and he knew he might not have the strength to resist it. The two managed to convince him to find a way, and Tyrande, Broll, and Eranikus sought their way into the Emerald Dream -- right along with Thura, who was still strangely drawn to Malfurion's location.

Meanwhile in Azeroth, more cities were falling into cursed slumber, and a strange mist loomed threateningly over the world. Varian Wrynn noticed that the mist seemed to contain figures -- figures that appeared as loved ones and friends to those viewing them. To Varian, the landscape was cluttered with clones of his son Anduin and his beloved wife Tiffin, who'd died many years before. There was no fighting the mist. It advanced over the Eastern Kingdoms, it crawled over Kalimdor, and as the few that were still awake watched in horror, it seemed as though nothing would stop it. Oddly, there was one place unaffected by it at all.

Teldrassil.

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the Nightmare war, it's implications, and why exactly you are responsible for the mysterious absence of Malfurion Stormrage.
 
191.Know Your Lore: Stormrage and the Emerald Nightmare, part 1


The events playing out in game right now have long-lasting repercussions on future lore, but there are also events playing out that aren't present in game. The Shattering by Christie Golden details some of these events, but there's another book out there that also has an effect in upcoming events. I'm talking about Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak, which was released earlier this year and covered information regarding the Emerald Nightmare.

Even though the book was released some time ago, the effects of the book haven't been felt. This is because as far as timelines go, Stormrage hadn't really happened yet -- or has it? The book takes place somewhere between Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, and though we don't see any of the events in the book played out in game, we see players from the book and the repercussions of the book's events. Today, we're going to give an overview of what's in the book and how it affects what's going to play out in Cataclysm.

Please note: The following post is all about Stormrage and contains spoilers for the majority of the novel as well as the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. If you're planning on picking up the book, turn away now, lest ye be spoiled for eternity!

While the timeline for Stormrage isn't exactly defined, what we do know about events leading up to the book can all be found in game. The dark manifestation of the Emerald Nightmare has been plaguing the Emerald Dream since vanilla WoW. Horde players first see evidence of this in the Wailing Caverns instance, where the druid Naralex and his followers have been corrupted, which is why the Druids of the Fang and their home are hostile to all players. Alliance players may enter the Wailing Caverns as well; however, most Alliance avoided the instance, as it was in the heart of Horde leveling territory and thus way, way out of the way to get to.

Later, players entering the Sunken Temple were exposed to Eranikus. The Sunken Temple, originally called the Temple of Atal'Hakkar, was the home of the Atal'ai trolls who had fled Stranglethorn Vale. They built the temple in order to summon Hakkar the Soulflayer; when Ysera caught wind of their plan, she smashed the temple into the marshes. After doing so, she sent Eranikus and four other drakes -- Dreamscythe, Weaver, Hazzas, and Morphaz -- into the temple to take care of any remaining Atal'ai. Unfortunately, Eranikus fell to the corruption of the Emerald Nightmare while in the Sunken Temple, and his shade resides in the temple proper.

Players noted a distinct lack of Malfurion Stormrage in World of Warcraft -- and the addition of a new faction leader of sorts, Arch Druid Fandral Staghelm. Fandral was caustic and rude to any players leveling through the zone, and when players questioned where exactly Malfurion had disappeared to, it was revealed that he was deep in slumber in the Emerald Dream, fighting the Emerald Nightmare.

The Nightmare's effect reached Ysera's four most trusted advisors -- Lethon, Emeriss, Taerar, and Ysondre -- corrupting the four dragons and unleashing them on Azeroth in Patch 1.8.0. Players who defeated the dragons and retrieved the Nightmare-Engulfed Object were treated to a rare glimpse of Malfurion Stormrage:
Malfurion Stormrage: Remulos, old friend. It is good to see you once more. I knew this message would find its way to you -- one way or another.
Keeper Remulos: It was shrouded in nightmares, Malfurion. What is happening in the Dream? What could cause such atrocities?
Malfurion Stormrage: I fear for the worst, old friend. Within the Dream we fight a new foe, born of an ancient evil. Ysera's ancient brood has fallen victim to the old whisperings. It seems as though the Nightmare has broken through the realm and seeks a new host on Azeroth.
In the events leading up to Patch 1.9.0: The Gates of Ahn'Quiraj, players attempted to retrieve three shards, red, blue, and green, to form the Scepter of the Shifting Sands. The green shard was in the hands of Eranikus -- and Eranikus had to be redeemed and freed of the Emerald Nightmare's corruption before the shard could be turned over. After his redemption, courtesy of Tyrande Whisperwind, Eranikus vanished, presumably to return to the Dream.

All of these events lead us to Stormrage. In Stormrage, the Emerald Nightmare is beginning to break free of the Emerald Dream and into Azeroth itself, and characters from around the world experience nightmarish visions that only fuel the Nightmare. The first of these is Thura, niece of the fallen orc warrior Broxigar. Thura was given Broxigar's wooden axe, crafted by Cenarius, from the War of the Ancients Trilogy, and she had a horrific vision of her uncle being murdered by Malfurion Stormrage. Upon awakening, Thura swore to hunt down this night elf and have her revenge.

Meanwhile in Darnassus, Tyrande Whisperwind had her own nightmare. See, during all these years in World of Warcraft, Malfurion had been sleeping in the Emerald Dream, his body safely hidden away. But that body of Malfurion's had been slowly deteriorating, and Tyrande's priestesses were the only things that were keeping that body alive. In Tyrande's vision, Malfurion's body continued to decay and warp, turning into a ghastly tree, leaves fluttering in the wind. When Tyrande awoke from her vision, she knew what was going on -- Malfurion was dying, and even her best priestesses couldn't stop it from happening.

In between this were the druids of the Cenarion Circle and Fandral Staghelm. Two of these druids, Broll Bearmantle and Hammul Runetotem, played heavy parts in the events to come. Essentially, what happened is that Fandral called together a convocation of the druids because Teldrassil was failing. This, too, we've seen in game; anyone who has leveled a night elf can see evidence of Teldrassil's corruption all throughout the starting zones. Fandral decided to do something about this by having the strongest druids of the order come together and feed their powers into strengthening the failing World Tree.

In order to accomplish this, Fandral sought to use the Idol of Remulos, a dangerous artifact that was retrieved by Broll Bearmantle during the Warcraft Comics series. Broll returned the corrupted artifact to Fandral, who presumably cleansed it. With the Idol, the druids could begin to help Teldrassil recover. But Tyrande interrupted the event, informing Fandral of Malfurion's waning health and demanding that everyone travel to Moonglade to figure out a way to fix her ailing lover.

Broll, meanwhile, had his own disturbing visions -- visions of Azeroth, trying to warn him of some impending doom, and of the evil that still lurked in the Idol of Remulos. When Hamuul suggested that Broll pass on this information to the Cenarion Circle, Broll politely declined, suggesting Fandral might think him completely mad.

All over the rest of Azeroth, more people experienced visions. The entire city of Goldshire fell, its citizens refusing to wake up from their nightmares. The same went for Auberdine in Darkshore. More and more were falling to the Nightmare, including faction leaders. Thrall was engulfed in it, Sylvanas was captured in it -- and while Varian Wrynn managed to avoid it, his son Anduin fell prey to it.

Tyrande's plan was simple: She needed to get to Malfurion, and in order to do so, she needed to get into the Emerald Dream. Fandral wasn't really willing to help her, so that night in secret, she asked for Broll's help instead. Broll managed to steal the Idol of Remulos out from under Staghelm in order to use its powers to find Malfurion. With the help of Broll Bearmantle and the mysterious Idol of Remulos, she found her way to one of the portals. But Tyrande wasn't the only one seeking entrance into the Dream; Thura, niece of Broxigar, was still hunting Malfurion.

In their attempts to gain access to the Emerald Dream, Tyrande and Broll stumbled across Eranikus, former consort of Ysera -- no longer corrupt, but still drawn inexplicably to the Nightmare. Eranikus was entirely unwilling to enter the Dream, because he knew he'd be a target for the Nightmare as soon as he entered -- and he knew he might not have the strength to resist it. The two managed to convince him to find a way, and Tyrande, Broll, and Eranikus sought their way into the Emerald Dream -- right along with Thura, who was still strangely drawn to Malfurion's location.

Meanwhile in Azeroth, more cities were falling into cursed slumber, and a strange mist loomed threateningly over the world. Varian Wrynn noticed that the mist seemed to contain figures -- figures that appeared as loved ones and friends to those viewing them. To Varian, the landscape was cluttered with clones of his son Anduin and his beloved wife Tiffin, who'd died many years before. There was no fighting the mist. It advanced over the Eastern Kingdoms, it crawled over Kalimdor, and as the few that were still awake watched in horror, it seemed as though nothing would stop it. Oddly, there was one place unaffected by it at all.

Teldrassil.

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the Nightmare war, it's implications, and why exactly you are responsible for the mysterious absence of Malfurion Stormrage.
 
192.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
 The new World of Warcraft community site is live! Months in the making, this site will soon become the prime gathering spot for the community. We're very excited to finally open the doors and invite you into our new home. You can read more about the transition from our existing website to the new one in our original announcement.

As we're considering this a live preview, we want your feedback about the look and feel of the new digs. Head to the community site, check out the
new forum categories, and follow the Website Feedback links to let your voice be heard.
 
193.Cataclysm: Gamon, legendary villain of Orgrimmar, made even more elite
I am Foxlight, legendary hero of the masses. This is Orgrimmar. My city.

I must be out there in the night, staying vigilant. Wherever the darkness stirs, I will be there. Wherever an inn is threatened, I will be there. Wherever a rogue needs to finish a quest, I will be there. Lurking. Watching.

For at any moment, I know the foul villain Gamon may return to threaten my people.

Years ago, Gamon posed no threat -- a simple two-bit crook; a level 12 drunkard. Gamon bided his time in the Valley of Strength's inn (specifically, dead on the inn's floor). Many ignored him. But those of us, those of us with a sixth sense ... we knew that he needed to be stopped before it was too late.

They laughed at me. Called me a fool. Stopped me from doing what must be done.

And so, sinister Gamon obtained the legendary Tazan's Key. And before they could stop him, dark, foul Gamon unlocked the secrets of Tazan's Satchel, accessing the dark magicks inside. The once quiet Gamon is now ... a level 85 elite. And despite his quiet manner, he threatens the very safety of not just low-level rogues trying to finish a quest, but the entire world. A cunning villain, he still resists the urge to attack unless he is attacked first. But even so, his kill count is rising. He must be stopped.

I don't eat. I don't sleep. I keep watch over the Valley of Strength's inn, making sure Gamon stays dead on the inn's floor. The needs of the world outweigh the needs of the level 10 rogue trying to complete a quest.

I am Foxlight. And Gamon ... I will destroy you. Over and over again, every five minutes, until you stop respawning.
 
194.Elemental invasion phase three is active
Our tipline has just exploded with readers writing in with news that the next phase of the Cataclysm precursor events has just gone live this evening. The world isn't ending yet, but things are certainly heating up. This phase of the event introduces a few new quests for both the Horde and the Alliance.

The gates of Stormwind and Orgrimmar are being heavily regulated. The city guards (along with players) are searching every Alliance and Horde citizen coming and going through the gates for Cultist paraphernalia. Both factions are also dealing with some hefty infiltration -- there are (poorly) stealthed cultists all over both cities. Horde players will also notice that Thrall is missing from his throne room. He has officially left Garrosh Hellscream in charge and has departed for Nagrand.
 
195.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview
We're featuring 4 new pieces of artwork in our Blizzard Fan Art Section today. Have a look at the many different interpretations of the Warcraft universe forged by some very talented artists.

Do you have a unique artistic approach to characters or environments in the Diablo, StarCraft, or Warcraft universes?
Submit your fan art now!
 
196.Ghostcrawler: Vengeance not a fun toy for PvP

A lot of people seem somewhat terrified of the new Vengeance mechanic and how it might play in PvP. People are always leery of tanking specs in PvP, due to the general tendency of people playing in arenas and BGs to want to, you know, kill the other guys. Tanks are generally designed to be harder to kill, which tends to make people nervous, especially when tanking specs saw increased damage output in Wrath of the Lich King and went from "Hey, guys, look, it's a free kill!" to "Wait, you mean trying to burn down the dude specced and geared to not die is a bad idea?"

The forums seem to be rampant with terror that Vengeance will rule them all. I personally don't see the concern. Vengeance doesn't stack up terribly fast and it falls off fairly quickly; you'd need to focus fire a tank for significant levels of damage while he was being focus healed (and you'd need to completely ignore his or her healers) in order for Vengeance to really be a concern.

But don't take my word for it -- just ask Ghostcrawler. Not only do the developers not think Vengeance will be an issue in PvP, if it turns out to be, they'll just turn it off.

Ghostcrawler - Re: So Vengeance... am I doing this wrong?
Q u o t e:

In group PvP, there is an answer to vengeance. Don't attack the tank. Vengeance is a really good idea imo. If you are sitting on a tank and stacking that buff up, why shouldn't they do comparable damage? And from my experience, even with a max stacked vengeance, the coils between blood and unholy are relatively the same. Also, there is more to DPS between the two specs than Deathcoil. Even if someone is sitting on my blood DK I can assuredly say Unholy and Frost do more overall DPS, in pvp.

If a couple of people are beating on a tank, Vengeance isn't likely to stack very high. You need to take damage that is a big chunk of your whole health pool, which typically only bosses are available to provide.

Now if you have several folks beating on a tank flag carrier, then Vengeance may stack up, but once you have several people, you almost certainly have a way to dispel the Vengeance or just CC the tank.

If Vengeance ever gets to be a problem in PvP, we'll just remove it, plain and simple. The mechanic is only there to help with raid gear scaling, not to give tanks a fun toy for PvP.


source


I don't think Vengeance will be an issue (I actually had to chain pull close to 20 mobs in Uldum to get the level of Vengeance-stacking that's being discussed here) because in order to get it so high that it provides this kind of benefit, you basically have to do between twice and three times a tank spec's health. If you actually beat on a tank for that much damage and he or she isn't dead, you have a better target you should be hitting instead: the person or people who is making that tank not die.

Still, if I turn out to be wrong, it's good that there's an easy toggle to prevent it from being an issue. I'm not thrilled with the general consensus that tanks should be walking meat bombs ripe for the DPS players to murder, but at least GC holds out hope that tanking specs will have things to do in rated BGs.

Ghostcrawler - Re: So Vengeance... am I doing this wrong?
Q u o t e:
Thank you. Please do not let Prot specs get out of control again.


We're hoping that Rated BGs give Prot specs a useful role similar to tanking in defending towers, carrying flags, etc. A tank in an Arena needs to have a lot of control and damage just like everyone else to be competitive, which coupled with their inherent survivability and resistance to being controlled got us into trouble.


source

I would admit to being biased here, but frankly, I hate PvPing as prot. Still, if someone wants to do it, I'd like it to be somewhere between the admittedly berserk highs it got to at points in Wrath and the absolute joke it was in the previous expansion and original game.
 
197.WoW Insider Show Episode 167: Law and Azeroth
Every week, join us as we present you with the WoW Insider Show podcast -- an hour's worth of WoW community discussion covering everything from the week's top stories here on WoW Insider, to emails from our readers, to what's been going on with our particular characters in Azeroth.

Want to have your question answered on the air? Email theshow@wow.com!

Get the podcast:

[iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
 
198.New World of Warcraft Community Site Live Preview

We're featuring 4 new pieces of artwork in our Blizzard Fan Art Section today. Have a look at the many different interpretations of the Warcraft universe forged by some very talented artists.