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Warlock Spells: Ritual of Souls

The last in the "Warlock Spells" mini-series, Ritual of Souls is a spell everyone can love. Why? Healthstones! And who doesn't love a nice, refreshing healthstone every now and then? The fact that it's a reduced shard cost for the warlock just makes the warlock happy.

This spell is only usable out of combat. The warlock starts the spell and a small altar drops out of the sky. Two people in the party/raid assist, and the altar disappears, to be replaced by a red crystal. One shard is consumed, and up to 10 healthstones can be pulled out of the crystal for the next 5 minutes. The healthstones will be just like getting one from the warlock made one-at-a-time, benefiting from the Improved Healthstone talent. As an added bonus, the red crystal that spawns will dispense healthstones for a full 5 minutes, whether you are in combat or not. So before a long fight, warlocks can drop one of these, give out healthstones, and if someone uses their healthstone during combat they can pick up another one and use it after the 2 minute cool down on healthstones has expired.

Filed under: Warlock, The Burning Crusade

Bugged Instance Gates?

User Chris McDonnald sent us a tip about an issue with a gate in the Mechanar instance in Tempest Keep, Netherstorm. It seems that the gate pictured here has an annoying tendency to lock closed if your party wipes on the final boss. It's been confirmed by Drysc as a known bug here, where Drysc goes on to say that it's not intended, however it requires a client side patch that most likely won't be included in 2.0.7.

Blizzard seems to have a bad track record with implementing gates in dungeons. Anyone remember the door to Baron Rivendare on the undead side of Stratholme? Or the gate right before the Razorgore encounter, just inside the instance in Blackwing Lair, which originally would only reset 2 hours after a wipe? Or the door to Vaelastrasz in Blackwing Lair shortly after it was released, which would jam shut in certain circumstances? Or the gates in the Rend encounter in Upper Blackrock Spire? That's the list I came up with off the top of my head. Why do they need to put these gates in, and why can't they check what's obviously been a problem area in the past (well, except for the Razorgore encounter, which was an intended reset time but someone changed their intention later).

So, a word of warning. Make sure you have a Shaman have an Ankh up, a Warlock have a soulstone up, and a Paladin use Divine Intervention as required, because if your party wipes here, you either get to put in a ticket in order to be transported through or re-clear the dungeon.

Filed under: Bugs, Instances, The Burning Crusade

Warlock spells: Seed of Corruption

Seed of CorruptionThe next spell that warlocks receive is a level 70 spell called Seed of Corruption. This is an incredibly nasty spell, I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Basically it's a different version of the warlock spell Corruption, it does a certain amount of damage over time. What's different about this spell is that it has its own, built in finishing move. When the target has sustained 1044 total damage, whether it's from Seed of Corruption, other spells you cast, or spells other players do, the seed "goes off" and inflicts all hostile targets within 15 yards with a one-time shadow damage spell. This spell will kind of chain react with other seeds, so if you cast it on, say, 4 targets, the first one exploding will contribute to the other targets exploding. Finally, I can't throw this and Corruption on the same target. Which is sort of a bummer, really.

This spell is incredibly useful in a few different situations. The spell does, at a minimum, about the same damage/mana as Corruption on a single target. When there are multiple close-packed targets, the efficiency really starts to shine. For the downsides, read on.

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Filed under: Warlock, The Burning Crusade

Ding! 70!

Lyta at level 70My warlock hit level 70 during one of the horrendous trash pulls in the Auchindoun's Shadow Labyrinth. It took about 2 weeks, a little over but for the first four days my server was unplayable.

I have a few suggestions for those of you who are trying to get 70 in the minimum amount of time spent. First, get out of Hellfire Peninsula as quickly as possible. There are so many people in that zone that I spent way too much time waiting for spawns. Second, unless you are a mage getting powerleveled with the help of a entire guild, quests are the way to go, not grinding and not instances. Finally, my pattern was Hellfire Peninsula to Zangarmarsh to Nagrand to Terokkar Forest to Blade's Edge to Shadowmoon Valley. I did Nagrand first Terokkar Forest was very heavily in use, and I wanted to stay out of that mess. They're about the same level, so it works out. I haven't even been into the Netherstorm area. Why did I skip Netherstorm? I'm a warlock. Shadowmoon Valley is full of demons. I was completely playing to my strengths.

I started The Burning Crusade with about 150 gold on my warlock. I ended with a tad over 1500, not counting green items (sold via my bank alt) but counting all consumables, repairs, flights, and other expenses. Whenever there were quest rewards with no usable options, I picked the 2 handed weapon or the plate armor, those items tended to sell better. Unless you blow all of your cash on tradeskills, you should have basic flying mount cash very quickly.

I managed to find groups to finish nearly all of my group quests on an ad hoc basis. On a couple of quests I got help from in-guild. Now that I've finished leveling, my goals are to finish up all my keys, do some instances, and help the rest of the people in my guild level.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Leveling

Warlock Spells: Soulshatter

Soulshatter is another new skill that warlocks receive, this one at level 66. As a variation on the usual "Spells cost mana" theme, this spell costs you 8% of your base health. Base health is your health before any bonuses from items, so it's probably between 3 and 4 percent of your hit points. It also costs one Soul Shard. For the warlocks this spell is great because we didn't have a practical way to dump aggro before, and now we can easily reduce our produced threat to stay below the threat of our tank. The 5 minute cooldown means it's only usable once or maybe twice per fight, but that's usually enough to keep you far enough down the aggro list to not be a threat.

Sorry, no action shot for this one. Trying to capture an instant-cast spell with the screenshot tool would run me out of shards fast.

Filed under: Warlock, The Burning Crusade

Warlock Spells: Incinerate

Warlocks get a few new non-talent related spells in the expansion pack. One of the neatest ones is called Incinerate. Incinerate is acquired at level 64, and it's a fire-based spell in the destruction tree. As you can see from the tooltip, it has a pretty average mana cost (Rank 10 Shadowbolt, learned at level 60, uses 370, this uses 325) and does less damage. Oh, it does less damage unless you've got an Immolate debuff already up on the target, in which case this does damage on par with a shadowbolt, with a lower casting time. For more on this spell, and a picture of the coolest casting graphic in the game, read on.

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Filed under: Warlock, The Burning Crusade

Breakfast Topic: Why stay in general chat?

I see lots of complaints both here and on the official forums about General Chat, and how people are tired of other players asking the same questions, over and over and over again. I don't know about you, but when I create a new character, the first thing I do, even before getting the character added to my guild or getting my interface set up, is /leave general. Maybe I was just brought up in the "don't complain about what you can't fix" school, but why doesn't everyone who complains leave general? Have you ever left it and gone back because you missed it? (Picture Credit: Mankrik)

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Features

Nerfs: Math is fun

So, we here at WoW Insider get letters. Some of them are great story suggestions, some of them are good things to know, and some of them are, well, not very well thought out. A case in point. An email from a hunter wondering why we did not have sufficient coverage of the "ricidulous" hunter change in the previous patch, that apparently "sucks huge." Especially since "mages got buffed and locks were untouched."

I sit at work all day, and read these when I get a spare moment. This letter just kinda stuck sideways in my brain. Besides the bad spelling, bad grammar, and so on, well, let's look at the claims here.

A hunter nerf. Since I play a hunter, I was somewhat concerned, but rather than waging a vast war on the Warcraft forums, I sat down with my good friend Excel and poked the numbers in. For a hunter at level 60 with 1000 ranged attack power, which is a decent value for a marksmanship spec hunter without a lot of epic gear, this is a decrease in damage output of 17%. Which sounds like a lot, until you realize, it's a nerf of 70 hit points on a non-crit against an unarmored target. Seventy. Hit. Points. There was another damage reduction to the marksmanship tree involving Multi-shot. The talent reduced the critical hit chance bonus some, but it also reduced the base damage bonus. How much? My good friend Excel and I came up with 2 percent. The interesting thing about the change to multi-shot is that it actually scales DOWN with gear, so the better your ranged weapon is, the less effected you are by the change.

So, yeah, a fairly sizable nerf to an instant-cast spell with a reasonably short cooldown that was extremely mana inefficient. The other change, the "multi-shot" change, was a gimme. Basically this is the kind of change hunters should be thankful for: it looks really bad to anyone who doesn't play the class, but, in reality, it's a very small change in the amount of damage done. The change in critical strike percentage is actually worse, but even that's a very small change.

Now, let's look at the rest of the list.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

Crafting for Profit

So what can you do with crafting to actually make money? I haven't found a single thing in leatherworking, herbalism, engineering or blacksmithing that I can actually turn a profit on. Specifically, there's nothing that I can make that I can sell for more money than what I'd sell the raw materials for. Just because I can gather the materials myself, if I can sell them on the auction house for more than I can sell a crafted item with, then I sell the raw materials.

There's only one exception I've found: Bags. I can almost always buy runecloth, rugged leather, and rune thread from the auction house and the vendor and make a profit. I'm not sure if it's still people doing Argent Dawn turnins, or if people really do start up that many new characters, but I can generally sell runecloth bags on the auction house for 2g75s at a minimum but up to 4g sometimes, and the material cost is under 2g25s. It's not a huge profit, but it makes more money for me than simply selling the runecloth.

My guild's alchemists tell me that it's generally cheaper, even with the expansion coming soon, to sell dreamfoil than to gather the rest of the materials for fire protection potions. I believe it. Are there professions and items I'm missing, or did I manage to luck into tailoring since it's the only one that can consistently turn a profit?

Filed under: Herbalism, Alchemy, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Items, Economy, Making money

The Burning Crusade: Lag and Instability

The vast amount of coverage I have seen on The Burning Crusade rollout has been positive. I'm having very negative experiences. For the first time since I started playing Warcraft I got to bed early last night. Not because a raid got cancelled, or because I was tired, but because I couldn't actually do anything.

Every quest spawn in Outlands was camped. As a warlock, I'd typically get a couple DoT's on a mob, and some warrior would charge it. DoT's don't tag mobs until they do damage. It was taking, oh, 20-30 seconds for DoT's to tick because of the breathtaking lag. So I'd do about half the damage on the mob, the warrior would do the other half and get all the quest credit. Excellent. At least I was still out mana for the cast.

So I rolled a new Draeni. Every quest spawn in the Draeni starting zone was camped. As a mage, I'd typically get 8 seconds into a 10 second frostbolt cast (did I mention it was laggy?) and a shaman would earth shock the mob, and I'd kill it half and get no credit. Nobody wanted to group, because of the XP penalty.

The Outlands and the new starting zones are all on the same server. How do I know that? They all crash together.

So I went back to my warlock, back to Outlands, and decided to get a guild group together to try the Ramparts. We zone in, the server crashes. Twice. Before the first pull.

Then I get clever. I go to bed early, use flextime for the early in-early out and get home at 4. That would give me 3 hours of playtime before prime time. And they rebooted the servers this afternoon. I got 20 minutes in before the waves of crashes started again.

I'm moving one of my level 60's over to a different server. A server that isn't crashing the outlands over and over and over again. Maybe I'll hit 70 there. Because it's not happening on my main server. So far this patch has been a uniformly horrible experience for me.

Anyone else having bad experiences? Vent (but keep it civil) below.