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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.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Door Swings Open Pt 1

Since I'm not at Blizzcon this year either (it looks fun and all, but I hate flying and I'm not terribly big on crowds and who am I kidding I'd have wrestled Saurfang for a ticket) I figured I should probably write my column this week. After mulling over various subject matter (Life's not fair, How all Blizzcon attendees should be nerfed, and a strong contender in Waaaaaaahhhaaaaaaaaaa I wanted to go to Blizzcon waaaaaa) I then realized that with patch 3.0.2 literally breathing down our necks, it was probably time for a general overview of what you can expect for the month or so after it hits, but before Wrath itself launches.

I promise, we will get back to a gear overview... we've got four weeks at minumum to cover it. But if the patch (Echoes of Doom) goes live this week, I figure it will probably be mildly helpful to know what's going to change for warriors. One thing to point out right now is that the way strength converts to shield block value has been greatly beefed up. How greatly? Currently, the formula is X = [(Shield [[block value]]) + (Strength / 20)]. In patch 3.0.2, instead of it being divided by 20, it will be divided by 2. Here's an example of what your character window will reveal.

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Raiding, Talents, Buffs, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: On the edge of change Part 1

Well, as we recall from our previous talk about shaman changes, Lava Burst is a source of contention among shamans. The most recent announcement from Ghostcrawler is that the ability is being buffed by about 10% which will give shamans at 75 and above more reason to use it without nerfing shamans at 70 when patch 3.0.2 comes out since those shamans won't have access to the spell.

Honestly, I'm really not at all sure what elemental DPS is going to shake out like once this all goes live. Some players seem to feel that elemental is in the bottom basement for DPS due to scaling issues (that is to say, the reworking of Storm, Earth and Fire to remove its ability to scale with gear) that mean improvements in gear don't reward shamans as much as other classes. It would seem to me that if you're concerned mostly with scaling issues, the change to Lava Burst isn't going to fix your issues.

Still, as a continuation of the discussion Ghostcrawler started with the initial changes post, I thought it worth mentioning. Because I wanted to talk today not about buffs or nerfs to the class, but rather about abilities that were originally felt to be huge, important changes.

What about Hex, for example?

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, Talents, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Skill Mastery: Bloodsurge

While a lot of debate goes back and forth about how much damage Fury is doing in Wrath, and how fun the tree is, there's one fury talent that is unabashedly awesome in my opinion: Bloodsurge. Bloodsurge is a pure delight to use, and is a perfect example of synergy in action: the Fury tree stacking a boost to critical hit with the new Rampage (which we will also be spotlighting, never fear) which causes your Bloodthirsts to crit, which gives you an instant cast Slam with a high chance to crit as well.

It's quite possibly my favorite Fury ability (yes, even more so than Titan's Grip, which I am currently back in love with - I know you were all pulling for us crazy kids to make it) just for the fun of hearing the swoosh-bang on a BT crit. That sound means hit the slam button for extra damage! It's like getting all cherries on the slot machine, but without having to sit with all those people feeding quarters into the boxes with that desperate, hardened stare. Those folks scare me. I get the sense they'd like an instant cast slam as well, so as to easily steal my quarters.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Look! Up in the sky! It's Shaman changes!

Tipster VyseV1 hit us up with a mail pointing to Ghostcrawler's latest post on the beta shaman forums, and it's chock full of shaman changes. Some of them aren't really changes at all, but rather things that didn't change, interestingly enough. As an example, Ghost says:

"Maelstrom Weapon -- We have a concern that the proc per minute frequency is too often. According to our numbers, it's balanced for a two-handed weapon and a bit generous for a dual-wielder. However, this would be a nerf to Enhancement dps overall that we'd have to make up elsewhere, and it seems to be a fun change shamans are enjoying. So we're going to let this ride for now. It's something to keep an eye on, but we aren't going to change it yet. "

For the complete post in case you can't get to the forums, hurtle across the dark void with me now! Hurtle!

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Leveling, Talents, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Itemization in Wrath part two

Last week, I talked about gear. This week... I talk about gear some more. You may have an entire seat, but you'll only need the edge! Woah, sorry about that. I seem to have gone entirely mad. This week, in looking at options for tanking and DPSing in Wrath, we're going to look first at crafted items and then, if we have time, we'll start looking at instance drops to get yourself up to speed for your chosen role.

As always, things can change in the Beta with blinding speed. You never know when they will make a change, allowing Berserker Rage to be used in all stances as an example. However, for now we're going with the notion that you'll need 540 defense to be crit immune at level 80 vs a boss, and that the Titan's Grip hit penalty on specials will require significant hit rating to overcome (roughly 500). Another assumption is that special attacks are using a two roll system instead of the one roll system of white attacks, meaning that you can't just stack a ton of crit to get around the miss penalty on your specials. (Note: I am not a statistician or a mathemetician. I barely understand the math in that thread.) I will say that, having taken my tauren back to Arms and then Fury, that things are not as dire as some comments and even my own past statements may seem: warrior DPS is currently low, yes, but it's not horrible, and you can level with either spec. (My draenei warrior is now 74 using arms as his prefered playstyle and I can say with relative security that the various Arms talents do make for solid leveling.) And while the TG miss penalty makes me cry, it is possible to overcome it, at least at lower levels.

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Filed under: Warrior, Blacksmithing, Engineering, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, Expansions, Raiding, Leveling, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: A little of this, a little of that

I'm not just a commentator on the shaman class, I'm a rather avid player of said class. And while I respect the work that developers do in balancing the classes, and the tireless efforts of community managers to get this information presented to the player base in as prompt and reasonable a manner as is possible, often in the face of hostility, sometimes a change really makes me angry.

This recent change to Lava Burst and Maelstrom Weapon (not yet implemented in the beta) is such a change. Now, we've already seen Maelstrom Weapon changed so that it has a lower chance to stack, but can stack off of any melee hit (in part seemingly to reduce the dependence on crits the older version of the talent encouraged which led to Elemental Devastation and the guaranteed spell crit from a Flame Shock/Lava Burst combination) and while I don't like that change, I can accept it. And I believe Ghostcrawler when she says that the change to Maelstrom Weapon to no longer affect Lava Burst is one made with an eye to game balance. But I don't care. I hate the change and I can't believe there was no other way to balance Lava Burst's scaling to keep Enhancement shamans out of caster gear or away from caster daggers. I certainly don't want to see Enhancement in caster gear, but come on, this was it? This was the only way to balance this? I really don't like it.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

Ghostcrawler reveals warrior DPS changes

You remember a few days ago when Ghostcrawler revealed unto us changes for tanking warriors? Well, now she's back with the opening salvo of changes for DPS warriors. Many a tipster mentioned, as does Ghostcrawler, that this is but the first in a series of changes to the DPS warrior in Wrath. So what does this first post reveal? Well, while we'll once again post the complete text behind the jump for those of us who have a hard time seeing the forums, one change goes right into woah, really territory for me.

  • Sudden Death now grants 10 rage, so that following the Execute you have 10 rage left over. In the course of testing this, we also decided Execute by itself wasn't doing enough damage, so it got a buff too (could be around +15%), which will also help the talent.

Now this is very, very interesting to me. First off, not only does this make Sudden Death a lot easier to use, but the idea of Execute getting a 15% damage boost, and it's not clear to me if that is part of the talent, or just part of Execute now... I'm very interested indeed to see what happens here.

The rest of Ghost's post is behind the curtain. Think about it, won't you?

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

The return of incoming warrior changes

Once again Ghostcrawler strikes with the fury of her scuttling avatar, depositing a myriad of changes for warriors.

What, may you ask, are these changes? Well, while I'll replicate the entirety of her post after the jump for those of us who have trouble accessing the forums for whatever reason, here's a big change to tide you over.

Remember Thunder Clap? Sure, we all do. It has no target limit anymore. Wrap your heads around this, the single most requested change to warrior tanking since paladins began consecrate spamming their way through dungeons. Combined with a threat increase and our new Damage Shield talent, warriors will finally be viable AoE tanks.

For the entirely of Ghost's post, we adjourn to after the jump. Leap with me!

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Classes, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Itemization in Wrath part one

When I said I'd talk about itemization for warriors in Wrath, I did so fully knowing that it is at present incomplete. New gear comes in with every beta patch, so even if you take every single item currently present into account it doesn't necessarily provide you with an accurate picture of the way it will all shake out once you actually set foot in Northrend.

So keeping in mind that not only can this all change tomorrow but that we're talking about gearing the most gear dependent class in the entire game, let's start looking at what gear we're going to require at 80. The defense cap at level 80, for instance, is going to be 540 defense requiring 689 defense rating. For a fury TG build, you're looking to overcome 15% hit penalty on specials, meaning that you'll be stacking roughly 500 hit rating at level 80 (based on this forum post which seems like a pretty good test bed to me) not to mention all the crit and AP you'll need to be effective. Frankly, I think the defense gear will be easier to assemble than the hit gear. For arms, of course, you won't need nearly as much hit, making an Arms DPS build substantially easier to gear for. (To be fair, a fury DPS build designed around Impale, Rampage and Incite would also be easier to gear for.)

Of course, the real issue isn't "Does the gear exist" but rather "How easy is it for me to assemble a reasonably effective set for what I want to do?" Does a newly 80 prot warrior have a chance to tank the instances and heroics? What about a DPS warrior, will he be effective? So far, it seems that the gear exists, but can be somewhat difficult to assemble: the introduction of faction vendors in the most recent beta builds actually goes to help in these situations. This week we're going to look at the faction rewards and see what warriors would be interested in. There's also instance drops, crafted items and PvP rewards to consider before all's said and done, but we have to start somewhere.

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Factions, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Totem Consolidation and Totem Expansion

If you read the site (and if you don't read the site you're not reading this now, so I suppose it doesn't matter) then you may have seen yesterday's minimalist beta build notes and the relative storm of comments they created. If not, and if you're terribly opposed to clicking a link, I'll go over the basics. See how much I love you? Well, no, not that way. I'm married.

Anyway, the basic gist of it is simple enough. In buffing the Stoneclaw totem so that it protects other totems (a clearly PvP oriented buff, as totems are rarely targeted by mob AI) a small problem has been quickly discerned by shamans everywhere. We shamans are very, very fast at seeing potential pitfalls. And this one is a relative doozy. In PvP, you will often drop Tremor Totem, as it is the only way for a shaman to prevent being feared or charmed. If you're not dropping that, you'll probably drop Strength of Earth for the boost to strength and agility, popular stats among the physical DPSers. And recently Earthbind was stated to be getting a buff that clears snares and roots.

So far this all looks pretty good, I'm sure. The problem is, these are all earth totems. So if you want to try and shield your precious torso... er, totems... from damage, or keep yourself from being feared all over the battleground or arena, or clear those pesky roots and snares, or buff your friendly face smashers you can't. You can only do one. Which will it be, shamans?

So what, you may say? Other classes have to choose which buffs they can have. Warriors can't provide commanding shout and battle shout at the same time. Paladins don't get ret aura and devo aura at the same time. Having to choose what totems you drop is what seperates shaman players from bots that just thunk down the same totems all the time.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, PvP, Expansions, Buffs, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King, Battlegrounds, Arena