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Arcane Brilliance: First impressions of arcane in Mists of Pandaria

Nether Tempest after kiting for a while.
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've had a love/hate relationship with arcane. As I mentioned last week, when I first started my mage I had every intention of playing arcane ... but that was back in The Burning Crusade, when phrases like class balance and raid-viable didn't make sense to me. When my mage started growing in levels and I found out the best raiding spec for mages was destruction warlock, I jumped ship.

My mage hit level cap during the height of arcane's PvE dominance in Wrath of the Lich King, and I decided it wasn't the spec for me. When my mage capped again in Cataclysm and started preparing to raid, frost was enjoying its brief period as a semi-viable spec, and I had a secondary fire spec for Alysrazor. I haven't had much cause to go arcane lately, beyond Spine of Deathwing when we were progressing, and up until now I was pretty glad for that fact.

That is, until I hit beta. After writing my first impressions of both frost and fire and totally dropping the ball on my original arcane speculations for MoP (pro tip: Arcane Missiles is still a proc), I thought it was my duty to try out arcane. I told myself that for the sake of science and fairness, I'd give arcane a shot. After a night of streaming dungeon runs, dummy testing, and some Jade Forest leveling, I almost feel like I owe arcane a huge apology -- because in MoP, it's a legitimately fun spec.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: A look at frost PvE in Mists of Pandaria

Mage using Frozen Orb
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Christian Belt is usually at the helm, but rumor has it Saruman has trapped him on the tower of Orthanc and he's awaiting rescue by a large, intelligent bird. Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers has been charged with delivering the ring to the fires of Mount Doom and writing an article about mages in Mists of Pandaria. Chances are he'll only succeed at the latter.

I started my mage back in The Burning Crusade with the intent of playing arcane. Arcane wasn't really a feasible leveling spec back then, though, and I ended up switching to frost around the time I hit Thousand Needles. The moment I got my first real Shattered Frostbolt off, though, I was hooked. When my mage hit 85 in Cataclysm, all I wanted to do was stay frost. Thankfully, we were into patch 4.2 by this point, and frost was moderately PvE-viable at the time.

When it came time to test the beta version of frost out this week, I had high hopes. Despite my mage being fire for most of DS, frost still feels the most familiar to me, and I was able to slip back into it fairly easily. A lot of the core feeling of the spec remains unchanged, with Frostbolt, Fingers of Frosted Ice Lances, and instant Frostfire Bolts comprising much of your core rotation. There are some real noticeable changes, however, and a lot of them are for the better.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

5 monk abilities that should have you excited for Mists of Pandaria

A human monk using Flying Serpent Kick
When I was younger, Easter was a time of good food and great gaming. While my parents and relatives discussed boring adult stuff in my aunt's living room, my brothers and I would flee with our cousin to their basement, where we'd play Mortal Kombat II on SNES all night. I was always Liu Kang, my younger brother was normally Reptile, and I'd always win the first few matches by backing him into a corner and repeatedly bicycle kicking him until he died. Or blocked. Once he became a preteen, it was usually the latter, and I haven't beaten him in a fighting game since.

The long-distance flying Martial Arts kick has been a staple in video games ever since video games became a Thing, and I'm particularly pleased to announce that Blizzard has done it due justice in Mists of Pandaria with Flying Serpent Kick. It won't allow you to abuse dated wall mechanics or give you a false sense of pride, but it's one of a number of awesome monk abilities that fit in well with the monk archetype in gaming in general while staying true to WoW's form. Hopefully, these five monk abilities will have you excited for WoW's next expansion.

1. Expel Harm Normally, heals aren't something that I typically call exciting or cool, unless they're the total awesomeness that is Healing Rain. This is especially true given the relative homogenization of healer classes in Cataclysm and the existence of the healing holy trinity. Expel Harm isn't your normal heal. Instead, what Expel Harm does is heal you (or, if glyphed, your target) for a small amount, and then it does 100% of the healing done to the closest enemy target as damage.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria Beta: First impressions of monk leveling

Pandaren monk in a tornado for a starting zone quest
The first monk I leveled to 15 in the Mists of Pandaria beta was a tauren, and I'm still having nightmares about it. I thought it would be a grand idea, allowing me to focus entirely on the monk experience and not allowing myself to get distracted by the shininess of the new pandaren starting zone. Going with something I've already done tons of times in the past seemed to make sense, and the fact that tauren are still my favorite race in WoW was just icing on the cake. For this same reason, I eschewed heirlooms; I wanted to give myself a holistic monk leveling experience.

I had the best intentions, but the actual experience was pretty bad. Most of this can be chalked up to the beta test being a beta test; I'm fairly certain the monk isn't a fully developed class yet. One of the biggest issues was ability progression. You start off with your basic chi-building attack, Jab, at level 1. After that, you get the awesome and always-useful Roll ability at level 2. I have no complaints about Roll, even though the animation hadn't been implemented on tauren models yet.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: A first look at fire mages in Mists of Pandaria

Pyroblasting the third boss of Temple of the Jade Serpent
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This column is usually brought to you Christian Belt, rumored to be the actual chief sorcerer of King Arthur's court. Unfortunately, Morgan Le Fay seems to have cursed him with her most powerful spell: a full-time job. Resultingly, Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers is covering his class this week. Arm your spitballs.

I've been a busy bee in the past day I've had Mists of Pandaria beta access. Beyond getting some testing in on the windwalker monk, playing my elemental shaman so I could write this week's Totem Talk, and getting Savior of Azeroth on my main, I spent a hefty amount of the day today playing Magelam on the beta Gilneas server. I've had a love/hate relationship with the fire spec since DS launched, as RNG and I have never been good friends. If we were members of the Dawson's Creek cast, I'd be Pacey Witter and RNG would be every female character he ever encounters. We don't get along. Don't be ashamed if you understood this metaphor; be ashamed of me for writing it.

With that in mind, I went in to test fire out on the PTR. I joined some friends from and a few puggers to try and run the Temple of the Jade Serpent, which we actually streamed from a mistweaver monk's point of view. (Note that the actual temple stream starts at about 43 minutes into the stream, so start there if you want to check it out). We managed to defeat it all, despite what seemed to be a very painful bug that made one boss fight last nearly 15 minutes -- but it gave me some excellent testing time with the fire spec.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Jeweled Panther mounts datamined on the Mists of Pandaria beta

Last night, MMO-Champion datamined a new beta build, complete with a plethora of new class changes and profession updates. One of the coolest changes is what looks to be four new mounts, craftable through jewelcrafting. The Emerald, Dawnstone, Sapphire, and Ruby Panther mounts do not seem to have any restrictions on them, making them more similar to the engineering Mechano-Hog than the Turbo-Charged Flying Machine.

We have no word yet on what the actual cost will be to make one of these beauties, but chances are a mount made from jewels torn from the earth itself will most likely be very expensive. And MMO-Champion's datamining seems to confirm that idea, as the recipe currently calls for five placeholder items called Something Expensive. These expensive somethings cost a pretty 25,000 gold apiece, but we don't know if that will be the end price. In case it is, I suggest reading up on your Gold Capped and possibly becoming best friends with Basil Berntsen and Fox Van Allen, as a full set will set you back 500,000 gold.

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: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Totem Talk: First impressions of elemental shaman in Mists of Pandaria

Outlandish's guild screencap of their victory over heroic madness
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 as all three specs on a regular basis. He kept the same transmog set, though.

"Elamism, Savior of Azeroth" has a nice ring to it. For the first time in my time raiding, I'm officially done with a tier of raiding before the next has been released, and I'm pretty psyched about that. (The fact that I picked up two heroic No'Kaleds for my enhancement spec has me grinning ear to ear.) With Dragon Soul behind me, I can start focusing on the future, which makes it very timely that my invite to the Mists of Pandaria beta came last night.

Before my raid tonight, I got to spend some time playing elemental on the beta, and I have some good news and some bad news to report. The bad news? Not much has changed from live for beta elemental shaman. The good news? Not much has changed from live for beta elemental shaman.

Part of this is a level cap issue. Pandaria is only open for leveling up to level 86 at the moment, which means that you don't yet have access to any of the real game-changers being introduced in Mists of Pandaria. Ascendence, our new DPS cooldown and all-around coolest spell in the game, will be our prize for hitting level 87, and the tier of talents that includes Elemental Blast, Unleashed Fury, and Primal Elementalist isn't available until level 90. Since those talents are all complex and will all drastically effect your DPS, there's a lot to look forward to.

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

Blizzard is sending out another 250,000 beta invites

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That's right: 250,000 beta invites. According to a new post by our friend Community Manager Bashiok, Blizzard is sending out another 250,000 Mists of Pandaria beta invites to players tonight, just in time for the three- or four-day holiday weekend in the United States.

Bashiok
That's right -- we're in the process of sending 250,000 additional beta-test invites to Annual Pass holders. Keep an eye on your email and Battle.net account for an invitation to come test Mists of Pandaria with us.

As with previous waves, it's going to take a while for the invites to process, so we recommend checking your games list in Battle.net Account Management to see whether yours has arrived yet. Once it does, you'll see the Mists of Pandaria beta client available for download from there. We expect this entire wave to take a day or so to complete.

We appreciate the enthusiasm of everyone who signed up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass, and we're working hard to get you into the beta. We know you're excited to explore Pandaria and test the new content, and we'll keep you posted here in the forums when we're ready to send out another wave.


As normal, remember to check your Battle.net Account Management page to see if you got beta access, as the email notifications tend to take significantly longer to get out.

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: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard blog explains how to send or receive a Scroll of Resurrection

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Since the Scroll of Resurrection was revamped and brought back, it's been a system that has generated a lot of interest in the playerbase. Due to some of the amazing rewards such as a spectral mount for the SoR sender and a boosted level 80 character and a free copy of Cataclysm for the receiver, a lot of players have spent the past month trying to navigate through the confusing system to send a SoR.

As an answer to their confusion, Blizzard released two detailed Scroll of Resurrection videos in a blog post yesterday, which thankfully answer some of the common concerns brought up in our post last week.

Our updated Scroll of Resurrection campaign is well underway, and many players are taking advantage of this opportunity to bring friends and former guildmates back to the game. We've noticed that many of you have questions about how the program works. We're here to provide answers, and one of the ways that we're doing so is with this pair of quick tutorial videos. The first is for those of you who are sending Scrolls of Resurrection, and the second is for those receiving them.

One video shows you everything you need to do to send a SoR to a friend whose time has lapsed, including instructions for claiming your mount. The other is a guide to accepting a Scroll of Resurrection, showing you how to get back into the game quickly and efficiently. As an added bonus, the voice of the second video has an excellent British accent.

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: News items

Why is Blizzard still OK with gender inequality in World of Warcraft?

Editor's Note: Comments on this post have now been disabled. It's getting late and we'd like to let our comment moderators get some sleep tonight.

In most games I play, from World of Warcraft to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I make an effort to play mainly female characters. Unlike other males who play female characters, this isn't for cosmetic reasons; I'm not one of those dudes who can't bear to stare at his male character's butt for multiple hours a day. (How this is ever an argument that makes sense to people, I don't know.) This was a conscious decision on my part a few years ago, when I started to become aware of the discrimination faced by female characters.

See, when you make the decision to make a female character, you're intentionally and unintentionally signing up for a number of things. First, you are intentionally signing up to play a female character. This could be because you identify as female, because you prefer the look of female characters, or any number of other reasons (including the butt one). What you're unintentionally signing up for goes further.

You're unintentionally signing up for jokes made at your expense in a raid, like when my priest hit 85 and did BH in leveling gear, and my low HPS was mocked because I was a girl playing WoW. You're unintentionally signing up for harassment, for the catcalls and people begging you to talk in Vent, like you're a rare species of bird they'll only be able to hear once. You're unintentionally signing up to be victimized by other players because you dared roll something other than male at level 1, and you didn't know there'd be consequences for that choice.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria