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Matthew Rossi

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Matthew Rossi is not a figment of your imagination. Matthew Rossi does not live in Edmonton, AB, in the cold and storied northlands of Canada. Matthew Rossi is not a large silithid. It's possible that this bio is not entirely accurate.

Servers up early

Well, while we didn't get a patch after all (looks like that big edible hat I bought for Adam's going in the trash) at least we have happy news in that our usual extended maintenance wasn't so extended after all. I logged on as a test to see if I would start downloading a patch, and instead I found myself presented with a plethora of servers to choose from! All my favorites were there! Even Azjol-Nerub, my original server, which I actually still have a toon on apparently. This is news to me.

If your server isn't up, apologies, but a cursory scan seemed to indicate that most are up now. Yay for less extended extended maintenance! You may now continue your regular scheduled gameplay, already in progress.

Filed under: Patches, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Year 2008

At this time last year, I wrote about the launch of The Burning Crusade and rage normalization as the big, defining change in the warrior class. Let there be no mistake. Even two years later I am still furious at rage normalization. I was so angry then that I picked normalization over expertise as the big change to the class, which in a way was fair, as it wasn't clear yet just how important expertise would be for both DPS and tanking warriors. At this point last year, I was a tanking warrior finishing up 10 man content and moving into 25 mans: I had just completed my first full ZA clear the week before, if I remember correctly.

Fast forward a year: I've gained 10 levels, I'm DPS, we've cleared all 10 and 25 man content and are waiting for Ulduar. The game has changed and I've changed substantially with it, my role, my play time, even my guild is different than it was a year ago. Rather than do what I did last year and focus on one change, let's take some time to look at 8 changes (yes, in honor of the year) that have really changed the warrior class. None of these changes is meant to be any more or less important. The first one I list isn't the ultimate change and neither is the last (well, technically yes, the last is the ultimate because that's what ultimate means, last, but you understand the colloquial meaning of the word) these are just eight very important (to my eyes, at least) changes to warriors that took place in the past year.

Now that we've stomped that explanation into the ground, let us discuss warriors in 2008.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, The Burning Crusade, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore: The Sons of Hodir

Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below! This week, the role of Alex Ziebart will be played by Matthew Rossi.

Hi. You may remember me from not finishing the KYL on Thrall. Well, since this week our Alex Ziebart has to take a small breather, I'm filling in for him as part of our "Hey, I finished that post you didn't so you owe me, and also the pictures are back from the developer and I'd hate to have to post them to the website" arrangement. Alex informed me as he handed over the package in that park, just before my trained snipers totally failed me, that this week would be discussing the Sons of Hodir from a lore perspective. Since until such time as Agent Deathwolf tracks him down and retrieves the microfilm I have no choice, that will be the topic of today's post.

Since I happen to be exalted twice with these guys, it seems a fair enough question to ask who they are and where they come from. So far, we have fragments of the story, but not the whole picture as yet. If it even needs to be said at this late point, I will be dropping spoilers for Storm Peaks quests like they were remarkably heavy antiques that you asked me to help you move into your new apartment on the 17th floor and I wanted to make sure you never asked again.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Features, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: 2008, a Shaman Odyssey

Right now, as I type this I'm imagining Conan O'Brien's old "In the Year 2000" bit, which they kept doing way past 2000. This really has nothing to do with the shaman class, except that it's funny to imagine an orc in Earthshatter holding a searing totem to his face and doing it. Hey, it's New Years, I was up late, you're going to have to accept that my already tenuous grip on reality is a trifle frayed today.

2008 was an interesting year for shamans. When we covered 2007 for shamans, the general consensus for the class was that it needed some work. Now, a day into 2009, did it get the work it needed? Wrath of the Lich King has really only been out for over a month, but it (and the patch preceding it) more or less dominated the year for every class, shamans included. However, the year started off with another big content patch which more or less dominated everything up until the release of Wrath, namely Fury of the Sunwell. It's fair to say that most shamans didn't get to raid Sunwell (although they were in demand for Sunwell raiding guilds, which we'll discuss) but almost any shaman who was level 70 could do the various Sunwell dailies, get to exalted and pick up a nice necklace or three as well as various other pieces for your offsets.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Raiding Gear

This will most likey be a multi-part series. I know next week we'll be talking about the Warrior 2008 year in review, discussing talent changes and so much more, so it may be an interrupted series. With the new raiding system (normal and heroic raids), tier gear, emblem gear and non-affiliated drops, there's a lot of gear to talk about in the raid game.

Lately, in fact, I've noticed that 10 and 25 man raiding seems to flow back and forth into each other. I can be DPS in a 25 man Sarth run, then the run breaks up into two 10 mans and I'm asked to tank in one, then we recombine for a Vault of Archavon 25 man and split up again for two 10 mans. To be fair, we often do 25 man content with less than 25 people, possibly because it's Decemeber and a lot of folks are away for the holidays, which may be encouraging our raid swapping behavior. Or maybe we're just trying to get as much loot for people as we can.

My intention is to cover a raid in normal and heroic before moving on to the next raid, and then to cover Emblem of Herois and Valor rewards at a later date, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

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Filed under: Warrior, Items, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

Totem Talk: Utgarde Pinnacle, the Oculus, and heroic Utgarde Keep/The Nexus

And we come at last to the conclusion of our big loot rounup for the five mans and heroic five man instances that debuted with Wrath of the Lich King. How appropriate that this shopping list should conclude on Christmas Day. Loot luck bless us, every one!

Since it is the holidays, I hope you'll forgive me if I dispense with my usual verbosity and move right into the instances and their loot tables. I will be mentioning leather or even cloth drops if they seem really superior to mail for a specific talent spec, so you'll just have to bear with it. (Believe me, I'd rather focus on mail.)

Let's go bust open some piñatas.

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Filed under: Shaman, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Tweaks to enchanting in 3.0.8

Are you an enchanter? Have you started tearing out your hair at how hard it is to get things to DE to Infinite Dust or Greater Cosmic Essence, while Dream Shard after Dream Shard piles up in your bank even after you've bought all the enchants? In my case it's Essences that are the issue. Nothing I disenchant seems to want to turn into them, while even lowly greens keep turning into shards. I have all the enchants to learn, I simply can't get enough essences to do any enchants.

Turns out this is being retuned in 3.0.8 although I'm not sure I like how it sounds. See, the solution of jacking up how many shards enchants need would certainly make shards more valuable on the AH, but I don't sell mine anyway. Meanwhile, am I going to be getting essences from DEing now? Dust isn't that hard to get in my opinion (certainly not as hard as GC seems to think it is) - it's essences I can't get enough of, and essences that limit the enchants I can and can't do. On my server a Greater Cosmic Essence can run you 50g for one, and when I need 10 for an enchant and only have 1 after DEing two days worth of farmed/quested greens, that's a problem for me. I don't see how making it take more shards to do an enchant would be any great favor unless those shards somehow took the place of Greater Cosmic Essence, and if they do, what's the point of GCE at all? Here's hoping I'm just being reactionary and the changes coming in make it easier to level this profession.

Filed under: Enchanting, Analysis / Opinion, Economy, Enchants

Second time through Northrend

Technically it's more like second time squared, as I'm leveling two characters to 80 right now, but the point still stands that I think now that the initial rush for most folks to get their mains to 80 is over, questing in Northrend is just plain easier.

Obviously this is in large part due to the fact that you're not competing with everyone for the same kills. When I did the Ned, Lord of Rhinos quest the first time it was a chaotic melee as something like twelve groups (groups, as in two or three people per) vied to tag the guy as soon as he spawned. And even as parties would get their kill and move on, more would keep arriving so that some people waited for upwards of an hour while those that have the better instant casts tended to get the tag off. When I did the quest on my shaman a couple of weeks ago, it was much more managable, I basically just waited until the horde party tagged him and got him on the respawn. And when I did it on my night elf last night, I basically had Ned all to myself. Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord are effectively deserted compared to their state after the launch.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, Leveling, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

Elemental Shamans to see DPS increase in 3.0.8

Yes, I'm stealing Zach's picture again
According to Ghostcrawler, between patch 3.0.3 and 3.0.8 elemental shamans should see 'a total of about 20%' more DPS, depending on gear. Since they announced their 3.0.4 talent changes for the spec, they've made more changes which are currently live on the PTR for 3.0.8, and they estimate that each round of changes should increase DPS by about 10-12%, combining for the 20% estimate.

Since these changes haven't gone live yet, your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not they'll all combine to meet or even exceed GC's predictions. My shaman's elemental gear is solidly in that category of gear he states 'won't see quite such a lift' so as soon as I manage to get on the PTR and test it, I still won't be in the gear needed to really verify this.

Now all we need is to either fix mail itemization for elemental or let our friendly caster shaman get leather items drama free, and elemental will be in a good place.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Talents, Buffs

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Overstacking

When coming into a new spec and role, one of the things you find yourself doing at first is making constant small adjustments. Part of this is simply the nature of the beast. You've been a PvP arms warrior for most of TBC, for example, but now you're a raiding Arms DPS warrior and you need different things from your spec, which in addition is pretty significantly changed from what it was at level 70. Or you were a tank for the original endgame, but stepped away for a while and then came back in time to level to 70 just before the expansion, and are now looking at what you need to do to get ready to tank 10 man raids for your small guild, and are realizing that the leveling prot spec you were using isn't quite up to it.

Or you could be fury again after tanking for over a year and you realize that your spec has points in all the wrong places and you have too much hit and not enough crit or AP on your gear. Not that I'd know what that was like. Okay, so I do. In fairness to me, it's not like I intended to be sitting at 550 hit rating and once I stopped and looked at the upgrades I've recently acquired, I realized that I'd gone overboard on hit to the detriment of crit and AP. It's true that the white hit cap for fury is somewhere around 950 hit rating but I'm easily over the 361 or so you need for specials while dual wielding. Assuming that the miss chance for special attacks is 9%, and not 8%, as I've been hearing lately - if it's 8% now, which seems fairly well tested and proved by this point, then you can shift how much hit I need with TG down the table. Once they drop the 5% penalty on specials, you can drop it even further. So while making that soft hit cap on special attacks is very important, you can do it with roughly half the hit rating I've accidentally collected. What I need now is crit and AP. Not related to any of this, but check out this post from the EJ forums and boggle at the significance of passive haste somehow adding hit.

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Filed under: Warrior, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King