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Patch 5.1: New Naxxramas battle pets terrorize their way onto your team

Loatheb, a larger version of the Fungal Abomination pet.
Of all the 5.1 news that's been released so far, some of our favorite changes and additions involve battle pets. The first is the introduction of new rarity stones that will make your poorly statted yet hard-to-find pets better. Even cooler than that, Blizzard is introducing an entire new set of battle pets into the game as rewards for killing old world bosses.

Today we'll focus our attention on the three ghoulish gifts that drop off bosses in Naxxramas. These creepy undead come with a variety of suitably spooky abilities, and all promise to fit well into many competitive battle pet teams. Undead are one of the best types in pet battling, due to their powerful passive self-resurrection ability and that they're super-effected by critters, one of the worst types in the game. I'm hoping that this trio of terrible terrors might cause us to start seeing something other than Lil' K.T. and Landro's Lichling in PVP pet battles.

How to consume friends and alienate people

Stitched Pupling drops off Gluth, the third boss of Naxxramas' abomination quarter. Despite his terrifying visage, this pup is more of guard dog. While we don't know his approximate stats yet, we do have an idea of his moveset (though no knowledge of which column the abilities fall into). He has two self-heals in Plagued Blood and Consume Corpse. Plagued Blood also gives him some nice utility for your next pet to switch in on, and Consume Corpse's large heal combined with this pup's undead nature guarantee a prolonged war of attrition will be needed to take him down.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Totem Talk: Leveling your shaman in Mists of Pandaria

Totem Talk Leveling your shaman in Mists of Pandaria
Look up in the sky! Is it a bird-form druid? An engineer in a flying machine? No, it's a wild Josh Myers, returned from summer adventures and bursting with knowledge about DPS shaman in his bi-weekly Totem Talk, which focuses on issues for enhancement and elemental shaman.

After one near-sleepless night, two ten hour leveling binges, and too many caffeinated beverages to count, Elamism's ascent to level 90 has successfully ended. You're going to be seeing a lot of words and phrases like "grueling" or "arduous" or "I had more fun passing a gallstone" going around the internet this week to describe the leveling process. From my experiences, I'd be inclined to agree...but I'd be wrong to.

The only reason this leveling was arduous was because a bunch of half-manic masochists with dreams of server first raid kills (a group I belong to myself) decided to try condensing a two-three week long leveling process into a 24-36 hour period. We skipped quest text, raged at NPC dialogue, wasting and spent entirely too much time ghost-running to our bodies because our sleep-deprived brains didn't realize the mountain under our feet had ended until it was too late to Parachute Cloak.

The one thing I did not rage at once in my 20.5 hour voyage to level 90 was my class. Shaman are a class that almost seem designed to rock at solo play. We have a strong utility toolbox, self-healing, and reasonable AOE ability. My leveling speed strongly depended on me maximizing smart usage of all of these abilities, as well as good decision making with my talents and glyphs.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Mists of Pandaria

Totem Talk: Surviving playing elemental in 5.0.4

Totem Talk Surviving playing elemental in 504 SAT
Look up in the sky! Is it a bird-form druid? An engineer in a flying machine? No, it's a wild Josh Myers, returned from summer adventures and bursting with knowledge about DPS shaman in his weekly Totem Talk. This week's article will focus on how to play elemental after 5.0.4.

My fellow elemental shaman: Our class is no longer complete. And no, I'm not talking about the recent changes to totems that seems to have everyone up in arms despite being a really good change for the class. I'm referring to the fact that we our class is no longer balanced around level 85. The level 85 game is effectively over. Think of this game as election, and the post 5.0.4 period is the period of time between November 5th January 20th: We're a lame duck class. We're nerfed. And that's fine, because Cataclysm content no longer matters, and exists only to help you relearn your spec before Mists of Pandaria drops.

Our beloved spec has been retooled to be balanced at level 90, where we'll have access to the incredibly powerful Ascendance and the level 90 tier of DPS talents. These will be potent additions to our arsenal, and our current spells have been balanced around the idea that we will have access to them. That doesn't mean everything at 85 is all bad -- we did receive a few nice quality of life changes that you'll notice when you log-in.
  • Lava Surge makes Lava Burst instant, which makes it a mobile DPS ability.
  • Elemental Fury makes us the only class/spec to crit for more than 200% damage.
  • Lava Burst's damage was nerfed, but Lightning Bolt's was slightly buffed to compensate.
  • Fire Elemental now lasts one minute, but also only has a five minute cooldown. (Meaning it will be up every attempt!)
  • Lightning Shield starts at one stack and stacks to seven, rather than starting at three and going to nine. You no longer lose charges from taking damage.
  • Glyphed Flame Shock now lasts 30 seconds, up from 27.
  • Stormlash Totem. Hello again, four guaranteed raid spots for shaman. We've missed you so much.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Totem Talk: What to expect when you're enhancing (in 5.0.4)

Enhancement shaman casts elemental blast
Look up in the sky! Is it a bird-form druid? An engineer in a flying machine? No, it's a wild Josh Myers, returned from summer adventures and bursting with knowledge about DPS shaman in his weekly Totem Talk. This week will focus on enhancement shaman for brevity, but I haven't forgotten my elemental brethren. Next week, you'll have all my attention to yourselves.

Hello again, Totem Talk! I apologize for my disappearing act the last few months, but I started a new job as a summer camp director six weeks before camp began, which requires a phenomenal time investment during the summer. Also, my boyfriend got diagnosed with MS and my mom with uterine cancer, so my life has turned into a frost giant's stress ball. And, because I'm a masochist, I decided to start personal training, because I didn't have enough stresses on my schedule or my body.

But I'm back! Summer is winding down, and with its slumber comes a slightly less hectic work schedule for me, which should mean more time playing and writing about WoW. This is convenient, seeing as patch 5.0.4 releases this Tuesday, and I've left my league of adoring fans, frenemies, and people bored enough to read my articles without any enhancement or elemental guidance for far too long.

A lot of the changes coming in patch 5.0.4 are the very generic ones that we've covered in the past, such as the total overhaul of the talent/glyph systems for every class in the game. For those overarching game changes, you'll want to check out the most recent patch notes we've posted, as well as Anne's 5.0.4 primer. This post will deal more with the actual nitty-gritty of what's changing for enhancement specifically. This post is aimed toward maximizing your level 85 shaman during the month in between 5.0.4 and Mist of Pandaria's actual release, so that you can spend that month learning how to play before release.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: The confused state of level 90 enhancement shaman

Totem Talk The confused state of level 90 enhancement
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Once a lonely tauren shaman in a bad Scarlet Crusade-themed transmog set, Josh Myers is now a female dwarf shaman with pigtails who raids using all three specs on a regular basis. He kept the same transmog set, though.

I'd like to preface this post with an apology. I'm sorry, shaman. I didn't mean to disappear for the past month, but I started a new job this month, and the ensuing chaos left me neglecting my monster-slaying duties. On the plus side, I didn't leave you guys for Diablo!

Luckily, not much has changed for enhancement on beta since I slipped into solitude. And by "not much," I mean that there's been a single solitary patch note with class changes since I last posted. Flurry has been reduced to a 20% haste increase on crit, and you also gain a 50% additional benefit from haste on items.

This change is obviously intended to address our incredibly lackluster scaling from haste. It's very reminiscent of the change in patch 3.1 that gave all melee classes an additional 30% haste from items. Prior to 3.1, haste was a lackluster stat for enhancement. By the end of Wrath of the Lich King, we were gemming straight haste rating. When Cataclysm hit, shaman were changed significantly to do less passive damage. The 30% haste rating benefit we enjoyed for over a year were reverted, and our benefit from haste rating plummeted.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Mists of Pandaria

Skill Mastery: Ascendance takes shaman to new heights

Image
Ascendance is a new ability coming to level 87 shaman of all specs in Mists of Pandaria. For 15 seconds every 3 minutes, you'll transform yourself into an Ascended elemental form that looks very much like the trash mobs in Grim Batol or Bastion of Twilight. The actual Ascendant's appearance and the function of the form vary based on your current specialization.

For enhancement, you take on the form of an air Ascendant, making your melee auto-attacks and Stormstrike become ranged attacks that are able to be used at up to 30 yards away. They also deal pure nature damage, which means they're benefited by Enhanced Elements and ignore armor. From a PvP standpoint, melee attacks from a 30-yard range that ignore armor will be frustrating for escaping clothies and plate-wearers that you're trying to keep your distance from.

Elemental morphs into a fire Ascendant. In this form, your Chain Lightning morphs into Lava Beam. Lava Beam is similar to Chain Lightning but hits a total of five targets and doesn't reduce its damage when it jumps, which is potent AoE. For single targets, your fire Ascendancy makes your Lava Burst have no cooldown during its duration, which means back to back critical hits for 15 seconds.

The last Ascendant form is restoration's water form, which functions very similarly to the Essence of Dreams in Ultraxion. For 15 seconds, every heal you cast duplicates its healing done and splits that secondary healing amount among all nearby targets. If you cast a 100k Greater Healing Wave on your tank, she'll be healed for 100,000 and another 100,000 healing will be split among allies near her. It's very potent.

If you want more in depth views of Ascendance and the benefits and cons, Joe Perez and I recently wrote Totem Talks covering Ascendance for DPS and resto shaman.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Totem Talk: Solving the problem of Maelstrom Weapon

The default Blizzard power aura for Maelstrom Weapon
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Once a lonely tauren shaman in a bad Scarlet Crusade-themed transmog set, Josh Myers is now a female dwarf shaman with pigtails who raids using all three specs on a regular basis. He kept the same transmog set, though.

When I try to think of what enhancement's most iconic ability is, a few come to mind. Windfury Weapon is a definite contender, and three or four years ago it would have been my default response. Seriously, though, what is Windfury other than a glorified auto-attack with an attack power bonus and a lower chance to miss? Likewise, Stormstrike could be iconic, but it's essentially a melee attack with both weapons with an electric graphic and a debuff. It's enhancement's Mutilate or Obliterate.

To me, Maelstrom Weapon is the answer. If there's one ability that encapsulates what enhancement is -- a brutal melee class that weaves instant spellcasts between their weapon strikes to harm their opponent or heal themselves -- I believe it's Maelstrom Weapon. It's enhancement's Death Strike, Arcane Blast, Chakra, or Raging Blow -- abilities that, at a glance, offer an insight into what makes the spec different from other specs in their role.

There's a problem here, though. If Maelstrom Weapon is enhancement's iconic ability, why is it currently so awful?

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: How to solo Magtheridon for fun and transmog

Magtheridon gets mad
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. In good news, the most esteemed archmage Christian Belt has escaped from the alternate timeline where he was forced to perpetually watch reruns of Fox Van Allen's appearance on The Price is Right. The bad news is that this means this is Josh Myers' last mage article for a while, but he had fun while it lasted!

My mage wasn't level-capped when Magtheridon was relevant content. I was a resto shaman, content to spam my one PUG raid night a week spamming four ranks of Chain Heal on other people. I still remember those days fondly, as they were my first exposure to "real" raiding. Also, Magtheridon's Lair was considerably easier than tier 4's other 25-man raid, Gruul's Lair, and the only way to get access to your tier four chestpiece.

I first learned Magtheridon's Lair was soloable at level 85 by managing to do it on my hunter, because pet classes are overpowered (though the ones with self-healing are even more so -- I'm looking at you, Megan O'Neill!). Speaking of potent self-healing, I followed with my blood death knight, and then conquered the pit lord with my enhance shaman. The natural next choice would have been to take a warlock or maybe a feral druid, but I wanted a challenge. Also, Magelam was craving a Crystalheart Pulse-Staff, so he was my fourth choice. I ended up spending about two hours last November perfecting my strategy and have since been able to down him consistently whenever I want a quick 50 gold and some level 70 epics to sell.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm, Raid Guides

Arcane Brilliance: 5 abilities that keep me playing my mage

A female human mage standing with her Mirror Images
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Christian Belt is the normal archmage, but rumor has it that he's currently trapped in one of many hell dimensions. The Simbul has gone to investigate, leaving Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers to cover this week's article.

I am a gigantic nerd. I love math, and science, and testing. So when a new beta comes out and there's testing and theorycrafting and video game science to do, that's my focus. I go, "Hey, look at this shiny new spell, and what are the rotational ramifications of its existence?" And then I forget that I have work in the morning and am up till four in the morning running around Jade Forest trying to get the perfect screenshot of Nether Tempest.

I'm on vacation visiting my parents in Michigan this week, and I promised myself that part of that vacation would be to eschew plying beta for the week, since we've been pretty inseparable for the past month. Also, I'm using my significant other's laptop, and I'm not sure even my rep level would support downloading another massive file onto it. As a result, I've been playing a lot on live, and I've taken some time to remember why it is that I love playing the mage class.

There are a lot of reasons (none of them are the fire spec in PVE at the moment, but that's another post entirely), but the main one is the repertoire. Mages have a ton of abilities, and a lot of them are chock-full of flavor and awesomeness. I had to narrow this list down to my five absolute favorites, but everything from Mirror Image to Invisibility to Cone of Cold are eligible contestants too. The abilities I chose are my favorites, ones that fit the classic mage archetype while having mechanics that make sense in WoW. Also, they're shiny.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm

Totem Talk: The highs and lows of Ascendance for DPS shaman

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Once a lonely tauren shaman in a bad Scarlet Crusade-themed transmog set, Josh Myers is now a female dwarf shaman with pigtails who raids using all three specs on a regular basis. He kept the same transmog set, though.

Elamism didn't hit level 87 on the beta this week. It wasn't for lack of trying, but something more akin to lack of time. Despite grabbing two heroic No'kaleds from our first heroic Madness kill two weeks ago, I still had guild raiding to do this week (I ended up picking up a heroic Rathrak for my elemental spec, so I can't complain too much), and I had to make preparations for my trip to Michigan next week. Coupled with the fact that I had to dedicate a night to testing my arcane mage as well, I wasn't able to dedicate enough alone time with my shaman to hit level 87.

Thankfully, other people have had the opportunity to play more than I did (special thanks to Ashunera, who graciously allowed me to use this Ascendance video here). It's thanks to Ashunera that we've gotten our first taste of Ascendance, the new class ability coming to shaman in Mists of Pandaria. Spoiler alert: It's totally and completely awesome.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Mists of Pandaria