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Filed under: Buffs

Patch 3.3 PTR: More DoTs


Another week goes by and we see further patch 3.3 developments on the PTR. Last week's changes were pretty far reaching for warlocks. I was pretty excited by just how much they shook up the default raid builds, in terms of which one would pull the highest numbers. One thing that really stood out to me was that the theoretical maximums were all looking pretty even.

There are a couple new elements on the patch notes this week, as well as some reworking. Demonology was previously looking like it was going to be the top DPS spec, as well as the best utility build. The margin was slight, but as ever the number one slot has some prestige and we could have seen felguards cropping up a lot more in raids.

After the break we'll have a closer look at the warlock changes and what they mean.

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Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Talents, Buffs, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Pact: The hidden power of demonology


Each week Dominic Hobbs brings you Blood Pact, the sacred text of summoners, the mantra on the malicious, the effusion of evil and sometimes the diatribe of the diabolical. Sit back in your skull-carved chairs, pop your feet up on the imp, and settle in for this week's installment.
"Drawing deep on the power delivered by my demon slave, I hold it in until it fills me completely. I can feel the power wanting to sear my flesh to ash, fire like a thousand suns. More power than I could possibly wield alone, yet too sweet to let go. Before it consumes me I let it flow to those I fight with, torn as if it were my flesh. I know well it will push them further towards achieving my goals."
As a pure DPS class we warlocks have one main measure of performance; the damage meter. If we can't perform well there then our place in a group comes into question. Sure, there are times when our big health pools and bigger incoming heals earn us the job of spell-catcher but those jobs are few and far between. Generally with each patch we're looking for the build that maximises our DPS. In Karazhan it was affliction. Somewhere in tier five it became destruction. Wrath made it all a lot more even but flipped it back to affliction and tier eight flopped it to destruction once more. Poor old demonology doesn't seem to get much of a look-in for PvE... or does it?

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Talents, Buffs, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.3 PTR changes for mages



It's the weekend, and that means it's time for another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column where the boys are boys, the girls are girls, and the warlocks are smoking husks that only vaguely resemble the humanoid shapes they once assumed.

We're taking a small break this week from our ongoing leveling guide parade. There are some things we need to discuss, you and me. We need to have a talk. Don't worry! It's nothing bad! We're getting a pretty sweet buff, actually. Well, arcane mages are, anyway. We just wanted to discuss it with you, that's all. Oh, we're sorry! Did you think Arcane Brilliance was breaking up with you or something? No, we'd never do that! Arcane Brilliance still thinks you're sexy.

See, it's this whole patch 3.3 thing that's happening right now. It's got Arcane Brilliance all hot and bothered. The other columns are too busy to talk to Arcane Brilliance about it. Totem Talk is all excited about "new totems" or some other such nonsense, Lichborne is too busy being overpowered, and Bood Pact... well, you didn't hear it from me but Blood Pact is written by a warlock. I know! Right here at this otherwise reputable website! Also, Blood Pact smells funny. I think it's a gland problem. It's very embarrassing. I shouldn't be telling you this. And Blood Pact drinks its own pee. Okay. That's enough. I'm done now. I've said too much. Keep this to yourself, all right? Loose lips sink ships and all that.

Jump on past the break and we'll discuss the patch 3.3 changes for mages.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Patch 3.3 PTR: Death Knight patch notes and undocumented changes


Given the massive amounts of death knight changes in the last few patches, Patch 3.3 almost feels like a drought. Of course, that may be good news if you're a bit tired of adjusting your rotations and glyphs every patch. Then again, don't rest yet. Sure, there's only a few changes to Death Knights (so far), but they're big enough that they deserve some discussion. Let's look at them one by one.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Talents, Buffs, Enchants, Death Knight

A new animation for Feed Pet


Well I grabbed my own video of the new Feed Pet animation, but it turns out that Lougara on YouTube did it much better, so that's their video you can watch above. Yes, as hunters everywhere have noticed, Blizzard has added a brand new animation to the feeding of a hunter pet -- you can actually see your hunter toss a piece of grub to the pet, who then catches it and noms away.

It would be cool to see it go a little further -- maybe have the pet claw and chew away at it for a moment -- but then again with so many different types of pets out there, it's probably tough for Blizzard to make them all look good. Still, it's a nice little touch for immersion, and it has the added bonus of showing other players when you're tossing food to your pet as well. Of course, with Bloodthirsty as a pet talent or the Glyph of Mend Pet going, you may not even need to feed your pet any more, but if you do, that's what you'll see.

Filed under: Hunter, Machinima, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Buffs

Patch 3.2.2 Hunters see changes to Bestial Wrath



Ghostcrawler has reached into his mysterious bags of tricks and drew out the Hunter card once again it seems. Last week we discussed the recent change to Armor Penetration. While we all agree that it is a nerf to Marksman Hunters and will reduce their DPS. The jury is still out on whether it is a game mechanics correction (which I tend to believe) or some evil plot to cause Hunters to spend more gold.

Well the changes continued to happen. Last Thursday we heard more from Ghostcrawler regarding a new change that will be hitting Beast Master Hunters in Patch 3.2.2. The interesting thing about this recent change is it is both a buff and a nerf. To help explain what I mean let's take a closer look at how Ghostcrawler explained the change on the Damage Dealing Forums.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Classes, Buffs, Forums, Battlegrounds, Arena, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Ghostcrawler on balancing and the community reaction


One of the most, if not the most, contentious issues in all of WoW is the near constant balancing act of the systems design team. These are the guys responsible for virtually every class ability and talent nerf, and their herald, Ghostcrawler, is oftentimes the sacrificial messenger which all the hate and vileness of the internet is spewed forth onto.

But it's all good, because he's also the leader of the systems design team and leaders often have to place themselves front and center to take the worst of the damage. And the WoW community can do a lot of damage.

Recently it was discussed how and why the community reacts to class changes, in particular nerfs, and why Blizzard does what it does when it comes to them. While most of this information is not new, it is interesting to see how clearly the message has developed since Ghostcrawler began posting on the Wrath beta forums over a year ago.

After the break we'll take a look at what Blizzard has to say on class balancing and the community's reaction. We'll also pick apart a few statements and look at alternative ways which can accomplish the same goals.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Buffs, Death Knight

We Have a Tabard: Don't go away mad, just go away

Looking for a guild? Well, you can join ours! We have a tabard and everything! Check back every Friday for Amanda Dean talking about guilds and guild leadership in We Have a Tabard.

The above video by Propostris and Gigi, while awesome, is not safe for work.

As I've mentioned before, building a guild can be very challenging. Recruiting and retention efforts are critical. Sometimes you find members, however, that may seem to fit in, but in the end they do not. You must strike a balance between having enough guilides to get things done and a team that works well together. Your guild rules and personal interactions help determine which members are valuable members of the team and who needs a /gkick.

I have found that having a lot of guild members is generally not better than having quality guild members. There are many ways in which guild members can not fit. Sometimes folks activity times do not mesh with the guild. It doesn't really do any good to have folks tagged up but stuck PUGging raids because they can't be there for raid times. This person may not need to be removed, but don't be surprised if he or she leaves to find a guild with raid times more suited to their play times.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Features, Raiding, Buffs, (Guild Leadership) We Have a Tabard

Totem Talk: Revamped stats in Cataclysm and Dwarven/Goblin Shamans


Totem Talk is Wow.com's weekly column about all things Shamanistic. This week, we go "aaah aaah BlizzCon! Goblin and Dwarven Shamans! All sorts of stats changing! Aaaah!" with Matthew Rossi. Be warned that Cataclysm spoilers may be thick on the ground in this post.

The past few days have been a crazy basket of news for us Shaman players. The Alliance will have a second Shamanistic race with the inclusion of Dwarves (which makes sense, really, since Dwarves are effectively descended from beings of pure earth) and the Horde will get a fourth race of Shamans in the Goblins.

Frankly, an expansion based around the upheaval as Deathwing himself smashes the elemental plans pell-mell into Azeroth is pure bliss for a Shaman. This is what we're for! The elements in disarray, Ragnaros bucking wild on Mount Hyjal, the planes leaking through into Azeroth... time to get out there and do what we do best.

But that's not all. With stat simplification gear is changing, Mastery will change the way our talent trees function, and then there will be the Path of the Titans to help customize us even more than Glyphs did. Shamans are going to gear differently, have five more talent points (but the talents themselves will be changed and streamlined, we're told) and play differently in Cataclysm. Let's start talking about how.

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Filed under: Dwarves, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Classes, Buffs, Alts, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Forums, Cataclysm, Goblin

Why Hit is a "sexy stat"

This post on Gray Matter has some pretty insightful thoughts about the much-maligned Hit stat. We've posted quite a few times about Hit with the various classes, and yet it's still fairly hard to get a handle on -- most people know their class has a "hit cap" that they have to reach to keep any of their swings or shots from missing, but other than that, they haven't really tangled with the stat much the way they might have some of the more core stats for their class. But Grey Matter argues that "Hit is sexy" -- despite the fact that, unlike other stats, Hit is required just to make your class do the right thing (rather than doing it better), Graylo still likes the idea, and actually likes the balance that Hit requires. No matter what ilvl your gear, you still need a certain amount of Hit on it, and the balancing job of keeping your hit cap met versus providing other stats on your gear is what Gray seems to like about Hit. While other stats just go up and up, Hit is the great limiter -- having more of it frees up space on other gear for more pressing stats, but you still have to balance out the pieces you wear to try and meet the cap.

To that extent, I agree. I do think that Hit is a relatively arbitrary stat (we know what it means in real life to be Stronger or have more Intelligence, but Hit is really just designed to keep game levels in line), but on the other hand, Gray's right -- because you need a certain amount of hit in your gear, it does become an interesting balancing game of "do I need this more powerful piece of gear, or this weaker piece of gear with some extra Hit on it?" It does a nice job of mixing things up as an endgame-balancing mechanic.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Classes, Buffs

Why leveling will always be important to WoW

Times they are a changin', and as Patch 3.2 hits the PTR with a new wealth of mechanics aimed at making the journey to 80 that much easier, why not take a moment to look back at how Azeroth has changed?

Leveling used to take a long time, and one of the first things a friend told me was that "the game started at 60." While the level cap might have changed, it's something I heartily agree with.Those of you who joined the game around the time of the latest expansion or even before might hear others speaking with misty-eyes of the olden days of Classic WoW when it took an age to get from Darnassus to Stormwind.

While WoW might have a much lower learning curve than, say, EVE Online, it does still have one. But WoW is known as a bit of a grind fest and the ever growing level cap, which currently stands at 80 but will no doubt go higher with the next expansion, can be pretty daunting.

Especially for a new player.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Bosses, Leveling, Buffs, Mounts, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Where the Action is Not


The Care and Feeding of Warriors once more shuffles forth clad head to toe in clanking metal, devoid of holy light, harnessed death magic or any of that fancy stuff, to bash things about until they cough up shiny pixels. Matthew Rossi has been bashing things about for their loot since January of 2005. He'll be doing an analysis of the Warrior Q&A soon, he promises, please don't stab him with pitchforks.

Honestly, I'd like to rant more about how Warrior DPS is still way too low in PvE. Especially since I keep seeing posts on the forums from the blues telling me classes with equal or better DPS are in fact too low. It's sort of maddening, really. But as much as I'd like to go on a written rampage about encounter design serving as an arbitrary limiter to warrior DPS in Ulduar, and how paradoxically my DPS is at its best on fights that are supposed to be hard mode fights (this week, for instance, my personal highest DPS numbers were recorded on XT - 002's Heartbreaker mode, where two Warriors including myself finally managed to break the top four and were ahead of the other hybrids) due to the mechanics of those fights actually allowing the warrior some uninterrupted DPS time.

But unfortunately, a whole lot has been said about tanking this past week. So as maddening, vexing, downright baffling as I find the encounter design limitations of Warrior DPS in some cases (really, not much can irritate me like knowing my DPS time was broken up by big chunks of having to run away, run around, get out of the way of lightning or exploding seeds or any of the sixteen things Mimiron does that make me unhappy to be alive) that rant's going to have to stay confined to these opening paragraphs. (For a simulation of what I sound like during a raid, get four angry woodpeckers and have them attack your keyboard while you scream "Oh, COME ON" every few seconds and imagine you're the Gravity Bomb again.)

So what happened with tanking this week, you ask? Well, more was said about block, about avoidance, and about tanking specced players as DPS and in PvP. So let's go over what was said.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Buffs, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Forums

Warrior Q&A Analysis

Well, the warrior Q&A is finally here. if you play a warrior and you were hoping that this would be the beam of sunshine that would fix your issues with the class, I'm sorry to tell you that it probably won't be. This isn't a huge surprise... so far the entire Q&A series has been fairly conservative and this one's no different... but let's go over it anyway.

First off, of course, we have the intro to the class, which contains this interesting sentence: The warrior class has been a very tricky one to balance, largely due to the way rage converts into damage (which converts into rage, which converts into damage...), and we haven't completely nailed that design just yet.

I think it's fair to say that anyone who remembers Rage Normalization trembles just a little bit when they see sentences like that. It's so very easy to render warriors absolutely impotent by tinkering with our rage generation, so I'm going to say right now that I desperately hope they test whatever changes they make very, very thoroughly.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP, Instances, Raiding, Classes, Talents, Buffs, Forums

The dying Hunter?

The folks over at Ten Ton Hammer have a post with some anecdotal data about Hunters -- they claim that Azeroth's ranged DPS pet class is on a decline lately, and they've got only some guild application numbers to back the theory up. Mem over there says that there are a few diehard Hunters still floating around, and lots of alts, but that as a class, it's fallen off in terms of popularity for sure.

Is he right? Fortunately, there's a site that tracks numbers (as reliably as you'll find for public information, anyway -- certainly Blizzard has access to much more information) on exactly that. WarcraftRealms' list of classes over time does prop the "declining Hunter" theory up -- as you can see (from both Alliance and Horde totals), Death Knights took a nice bite out of all the classes for a little while, and Hunters have been on a pretty steady slope down since mid-January, when patch 3.0.8 hit the realms. That, of course, was the harsh Beastmaster nerf, and ever since then, Hunters have had some real trouble recovering (not to mention that all class playtime is declining in general -- despite their slope downwards, Hunters are still in the top three classes played anyway).

Is this the end of Hunters? Not at all -- Blizzard has already said that they are cyclical about balancing classes, and a heavy set of nerfs on one side of the cycle is usually accompanied by a burst of buffs on the other. Not to mention that the most interesting Hunter changes, the ammo revamp, hasn't yet found its way to the game. Reworking of ammo (in addition to some likely buffs there), will probably bring lots of Hunters back to the stables, so to speak. But it's true, Hunters are on a downward turn lately.

[via WoW LJ]

Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Classes, Talents, Buffs

Arcane Brilliance: Living Bomb on the Patch 3.2 PTR is completely awesome

Each week Arcane Brilliance celebrates Independence Day in its own special way. Most people celebrate the 4th of July by setting off explosive devices of varying sizes. In similar fashion, Arcane Brilliance also enjoys blowing things up. The difference is that whereas most people tend to set off pretty fireworks, Arcane Brilliance prefers to cause Warlocks to explode. The result isn't nearly as pretty, but to Arcane Brilliance, it has its own very unique charm.

I don't know if you're trying out the patch 3.2 PTR or not, but if you are, you should go out and mess with Living Bomb. Like, right now. Go cast it on some things. That's right, I said things with an "s" on the end. As in plural. As in more than one thing. Watch those things burn to death simultaneously. Rejoice.

Yes, Blizzard's present to Mages on this day when the United States celebrates its Declaration of Independence from foreign rule is apparently the ability to blow up multiple targets with Living Bomb. On the PTR, you can now have Living Bomb up on as many targets as you can feasibly cast it on before its duration or your mana pool expires. The tooltip doesn't yet reflect the change, but Ghostcrawler has confirmed that this is not a bug, and that Blizzard is intentionally testing the idea.

How awesome would this change be? Read on after the break to hear my take on it, but let me just say that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not very awesome and 10 being more awesome than anything, this change would make the scale explode on a molecular level and then reform over billions of years into a new planet of awesome.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Features, Raiding, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

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