Skip to Content

WoW Insider has the latest on the Mists of Pandaria!

Filed under: Classes

Totem Talk: The Shaman of 2009

2009 has been a year of almost continuous changes for shamans. It seems that not a patch has gone by without some changes to the class, some major, some not so severe. The class has seen mysterious DPS shortfalls, a minor controversy about health in PvP that then carried over into PvE content with the high levels of AoE damage in Ulduar with patch 3.1. Flametongue Weapon saw changes to prevent enhancement shamans from using caster weapons. Resto got a fairly substantial review and some significant tweaks. Elemental also saw some talents redesigned.

While all of this was going on, shamans also saw some controversy about itemization, gear scaling and having to share caster mail between two specs that value different stats, as well as the constant battle with holy paladins to keep their grubby, grasping mitts off of our mail. Yeah, we know you don't want that MP5 plate, but since you're the only ones who can possibly get anything out of it, go away and leave our precious alone. (Cue the pages of discussion on why it's perfectly acceptable for holy paladins to take caster mail and explanations in detail of why I'm an inhuman monster who drowns fish. Yes, fish, That's how evil I am.)

Now that we've got the pleasantries out of the way (remind me to tell you the story of the year my mom beat Santa Claus up in front of the extended family) we move on to shamans in 2009.

Read more →

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

Use brute force, Luke

Usually, I am the 'perfectionist tank' in a run. I want things to go perfectly: I want to never lose aggro, I want the DPS to all attack the proper target, I want the healer to, well, okay, I mostly just want the healer to heal us, I'm not looking for anything fancy there. As long as a healer seems to be casting healing spells I'm willing to cut her or him a lot of slack, especially in dungeons like Halls of Reflection where people often die through not moving out of giant, inky pools of blackness on the floor that they stand in as if they were instead duck ponds full of adorable baby ducklings. There are no ducklings in the fetid wells of corruption, guys.

Last night, however, I had a sort of small revelation. First and foremost, I was stressing myself way the heck out over a pick up group with four folks I was likely never to see again. Secondly, the faster you go in a PuG, the less likely perfection is to be attainable, and if four people want speed and one guy wants flawless, you'll get very fast flaws. So that meant I've come up with an entirely new tanking philosophy for the new five mans, and an entirely new way to gear for them. I'd talk about both.

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, Instances, Classes, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Encrypted Text: Two-horse race, 2009 in review


Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. In this special edition, we cover the top 10 changes of 2009.

We've been through a lot in 2009. It seems like every time we get settled on a spec or playstyle, Blizzard flipped it around with the next content patch. With each raid dungeon released, the top DPS build seemed to bounce to a different tree every time. I would say that rogues are probably in the top 3 classes for 'most change received' in 2009, especially when talking about changes that redefine the class completely. While death knights will complain that all they saw was the nerf bat this year, rogues have matured as a class and are far more versatile than where we were in January.

We exited last year with Mutilate reigning over Combat, daggers standing triumphant at their long-awaited return to a rogue's hands. Early Naxxramas raids had me convinced that I had better start enjoying the Assassination tree, because a double Webbed Death rogue was a force to be reckoned with. Our PvP viability looked something like it always had: the ultimate ganking machine, but not much else. Let's explore some of the changes that took us from our previous one-trick-pony status to the versatile killers that we are today.

Read more →

Filed under: Rogue, Classes, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Blood Sport: Beginner's guide to arena, part III


Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women?
Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all-things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in WoW.com's arena column.

Listening Music: Modeselektor's Tetrispack. Allison Robert offered a challenge to our most beloved columnist last week. Ms. Roberts has chosen a clever and palatable piece with Richard Shindell's On-A-Sea-Of-Fleur-De-Lis. And now we come to my retaliation. My wife recommended our musical selection today -- it just happened to be on the absolute opposite end of the spectrum. How fitting. We love this song, albeit mostly for the intro. Upon your first listen, if you correctly predict the timing and type of shift in the first thirty seconds, serious e-props to you.

To wit, Robert: pan flute > no pan flute. Your move.

Last Week: part two of our beginner's arena guide. We featured the cute ukulele kid who pretty much controls the internet right now. After that, we discussed frequently asked questions from new arena players. We talked about how to spec and what team composition to choose, with two different types of answers (easy and long).

Today, we'll be talking some very basic class strategy. If you know your class inside and out, you'll know what I'm going to say when it comes to your class and arena. You can still learn about other classes here. I've written over 2500 words about individual class perspective inside arenas, that's a lot. Full article after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Blizzard, PvP, Guides, Classes, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Battlegrounds, Arena, Achievements

Arcane Brilliance: Gearing up after the glorious patch 3.3


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that loves nothing more than to gaze down upon the whole of Northrend from one of the floating chunks of stone around Dalaran and realize that at some point, a mage has probably killed every living thing down there. At least the targetable ones, anyway. And the ones you can't target? I'm sure more than one mage has certainly tried.

So I'm officially nominating patch 3.3 for "best patch ever" status. Here's a short list of the highlights of this patch:
  • Three highly challenging, fun, lore-filled 5-man instances, full of sweet loot
  • A massive new raid, with four gated sections, 12 bosses, and the promise of eventually being able to shove a Fireball up the Lich King's tailpipe
  • The incredible, game-changing Dungeon Finder Tool, which is responsible for peace in the Middle East, has brought an end to the recession, and has cured cancer
  • A few choice mage buffs, including a PvE viable Frost spec
  • Quest Tracking without the need for an addon
  • Quel'delar and Shadowmourne
  • A swiftly approaching new Arena Season
  • Weekly raid quests
  • The Kalu'ak Fishing Derby
  • Perky the Pug
  • A host of little changes for low level characters
  • Rocket bare
Not shabby, right? And best of all, Blizzard has managed to deploy the majority of this new content without also deploying a host of bugs, glitches, and instability, or otherwise making the game unplayable for awhile as we've come to expect from patches this large. There were some log-in issues and bugginess on day one, but by day two, everything was running relatively smoothly by day two. I'm being relatively conservative when I say that Blizzard, in my personal opinion, has hit this one out of the park.

Read more →

Filed under: Mage, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Instances, Features, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warriors in Icecrown Citadel, Part 1


The Care and Feeding of Warriors is WoW.com's column about aromatic essential oils for use in baths and to spruce up the house. Unfortunately I don't know anything about those so I'm going to have to talk about playing a warrior in World of Warcraft instead. My hands are tied, I'm afraid.

Before I get to the meat of the discussion this week, which is tanking/DPSing the four new encounters in Icecrown Citadel, let me just say that I'm still ridiculously excited about running PuG's on both my Alliance and Horde warriors using the new Dungeon Finder. I tweeted this week that my tanking perfectionism is getting in the way of enjoyment for me so I slapped my DPS gear on and took the breaks between PuG's as excuse to do things like eat, read, use the facilities (where those aromatic essential oils lurk in wait... the spearmint one is very nice, actually)... it's reduced my stress factor considerably, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how solid my DPS is considering that I haven't work on my gear or spec in a while.

Well, okay, except for Halls of Reflection, where I had a run that consisted of me being afraid to even hit Whirlwind for fear of instantly pulling aggro. What was that guy doing?

However, this column isn't about the new five mans, or PuGging. Let's get to the meat of the post and talk about our quartet of encounters in ICC.

Read more →

Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, Instances, Raiding, Classes, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Patch 3.3 and shamans, part 2 -- How not to PUG


Totem Talk is the column for shamans. With the new Random Dungeons and Dungeon Finder, healing has never been more in demand, and shamans find themselves faced with the dilemma: do I wait 10 minutes and go as DPS, or get instantly invited by being willing to heal? Matthew Rossi is impatient and terrifyingly willing to heal random strangers.

Ah, the Pick Up Group. Long a staple of our gameplay in WoW, patch 3.3 revolutionized the way we do it with the new dungeon finder, giving us incentives to put up with fury warriors who rush the tank, ret paladins who forget to turn Righteous Fury off, and runs consisting of two DK's, a paladin, a warrior and a shaman where people ask the shaman if he's tanking. (Hint, he wasn't.) Other things the shaman will not be doing in a PUG include making a summoning portal, a mage table (it's got mage in the name what is wrong with you), casting combat res on the tank when he dies, summoning Army of the Dead (seriously, I can understand being frustrated that someone cast that and it dragged the trash around, but shamans do not generally summon forth armies of walking corpses), washing your laundry (that's just gross), making a pinhole camera, performing a complicated medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest showtunes (unless you catch me in a really good mood), or casting Divine Intervention.

Sure, I realize these are all fine things, and it's a shame that the shaman or shamans in your group won't be able to do them. That being said, shamans do bring all sorts of fun things to PUG's. Things like hybrid magical/physical DPS, caster DPS, or healing, a plethora of totem buffs, a cornucopia of ancillary benefits like Unleashed Rage, Totem of Wrath, and of course Sentry Totem. I know that's really why you bring us, it's okay.

Read more →

Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Odds and ends, Instances, Bosses, Guides, Classes, Buffs, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

Blood Sport: Beginner's guide to arena, part II

Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women? Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all-things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in WoW.com's arena column.

Listening Music: The cutest kid you've ever seen covering Jason Mraz. Blood Sport normally features the musical works of professionals. For this little guy, we have to make an exception. My favorite part is right before the first verse. I love the intense scrunched face and little head nod. I dare you to find anything even half as cute. That video of a tickled kitten has nothing on this.

Last Week: part one of our beginner's arena guide. First, we fielded a possible complaint about catering to casuals. After that, we talked a little bit about some of the best ways to gear up: finding an arena team, doing battlegrounds, and running Vault of Archavon. Check it out if you have the time.

This week, we'll talk about some frequently asked questions players have when considering jumping into the arena. Read on for part two of our arena guide for beginners after the break!

Read more →

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, How-tos, PvP, Features, Classes, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Battlegrounds, Arena

Arcane Brilliance: How to be a good PUG mage

Welcome to another installment of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that is incredibly proud of mages. We are, after all, the only class in the game that can conjure our own 5-man group, as evidenced by the picture above. And though our mirror images may not be too bright, I'd still take them over about 3/4ths of the folks I PuGed with last night.

Holy crap. I'm not even kidding. It was like some kind of idiot convention, and I was the keynote speaker. I came in with some prepared remarks, like "Don't stand in the green stuff that looks like poison, because it is poison," "when he begins spinning his giant sword around like a whirlwind, it's because he's doing Whirlwind and you should get out of the way," and "Warlocks drink their own pee," but ended up just sighing and shaking my head a lot.

This whole Dungeon Finder tool is incredible, right? My head has been spinning since the patch dropped, marveling at the ways it has already changed the game, both for good and ill. Suddenly, PuGs are the norm, not the exception. Each instance is a complete unknown, and not just because you don't know which one you're going to get. Is that rogue going to inexplicably decide to eschew his formerly stealthy ways and take up tanking? Who knows? Is the pally healer who just joined specced ret? It's not as unlikely as you think. Did that warlock really just go afk during the boss fight, then return only to need the Frozen Orb and drop group? Yep, he did. Outstanding.

It works the other way, too. There I was, minding my own business, happily spamming Arcane Blast on some kind of giant disgusting undead guy, only to see him turn and begin lumbering over in my direction. OK, I thought, I'll just stop casting, let the tank snatch him back up. Only that doesn't work. I look over at the threat meter to see that I have like three times more threat on that mob than anybody else. In fact, the only two other names on the threat list were the tank and the healer. That's right, I had been pew pewing the wrong giant disgusting undead guy. The fight ends with me reduced to a stain on the floor, and nobody to blame but my own stupid self. Sometimes, when you can't spot the nub in the room, it's because the nub is you.

Read more →

Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Instances, Features, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Lichborne: Patch 3.3 Roundup for Death Knights

Welcome to Lichborne, WoW.com's weekly Death Knight column, where your host, Daniel Whitcomb, continues to be caught in a bad romance with Unholy DPS.

So we're back on the scene after a lazy and luxurious extended Thanksgiving holiday, and just in time for patch 3.3. Death Knights got their fair share of changes, some minor bug fixes and some rather large adjustments, including, of course, the obligatory complete rebalancing of unholy DPS. That said, with 3.3 the last major patch before Cataclysm, we can hope for some normalcy with the whole issue. Or we can expect Patch 3.3.1, either way.

Regardless, since we're just starting out on patch 3.3, now's a good time to run down what patch 3.3 means for us, including a postmortem on the latest unholy DPS changes, and some advice on what to do with yourself in patch 3.3. Read on.

Read more →

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, News items, Instances, Quests, Raiding, Classes, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Arcane Brilliance: WoW patch 3.3 primer for mages

It's time again for another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that loves mages and all things magey. Take this picture, for example. That's a mage right there. If I'm not mistaken, she's getting ready to do something magey. Like plant a Fireball deep in the fertile soil of a warlock's grill. Arcane Brilliance loves everything about that.

So apparently patch 3.3 could literally drop any moment. I'm not even kidding. It might have happened while I was typing that last sentence. I don't know. More likely, though, is that it will come (as per the usual deployment-method) during the upcoming Tuesday maintenance. This means we've only got a little time left before we can enter Icecrown Citadel and begin the patch-long process of shaking its inhabitants down repeatedly for loot. I, for one, cannot wait to place an Arcane Missile or five directly up Arthas' frosty tailpipe.

But what, exactly, does this patch bring to the mage class? I'm glad you asked. Though this patch is admittedly a bit heavy on the new raid content and light on class changes, mages are one of the few classes that are getting some pretty significant new junk. From increased raid utility for Arcane, to buffed-up AoE for Fire, to actual, honest-to-goodness competitive raid DPS for Frost, 3.3 is delivering a little of something for everybody. Join me after the break for a full recap of all the newness we can expect come patch day.

Read more →

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

Scattered Shots: Picking the right hunter loot, part 2



Welcome back to the
Scattered Shots, where real players are hunters and everyone else is just an avatar. I'm Eddie Carrington, aka Brigwyn from The Hunting Lodge and THL Podcast. Each week we discuss ways to help improve your hunter.

Welcome back to part 2 of our "Picking the right hunter loot" guide. Where each week we take a look at raid loot from WoTLK and help you understand what makes something hunter loot versus loot hunters can use. Here's what we talked about before:

Part 1
– We reviewed what item stats make up hunter gear. Also, we explained why every hunter needs to stack hit and strive for the hit cap. We also explained how agility, attack power, critical strike, and armor penetration work with each of the three hunter specs.

This week we're going to start exploring the hunter loot that drops in Trial of the Crusader and Trial of the Grand Crusader. I'm sure we'll have some spirited debate over the merits of each item. And, I'm pretty sure we'll see druids mangling their keyboards and rogues will throw in a cheap shot or two over our ability to equip almost anything.

In an effort keep the carnage at a minimum let's try to keep a few things in mind. We're only reviewing raid loot and how each item affects your hunter and favorite raiding pet's performance. Which means, we're not going to talk about where else to go and get geared. Nor are we going to debate what is and is not considered "Best in Slot" or not. And if you're looking for PvP alternatives? I promise, we'll tackle all of those later on in a different guide.

Now if you're wondering why we're not talking about what's over on the PTR for patch 3.3. We'll make sure and cover all of Icecrown when it's released. Then head on back to the other Northrend raids and finish up where we left off.

With that said, let's walk through the swirly portal and head into Trial of the Crusader and it's heroic sibling Trial of the Grand Crusader.

Read more →

Filed under: Hunter, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding, Guides, Classes, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Encrypted Text: Subtlety gets its 15 minutes


Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the rogue class. This week, we talk about what Ghostcrawler has to say about Subtlety in the future.

With patch 3.3's release nearing, both Assassination and Combat rogues have buffs to look forward to. Mutilate will be a true force in PvE, returning us to our iconic weapons: a pair of poison-soaked daggers. The Deadly Poison change I talked about last week will benefit Combat as well, though not to the same degree as Mutilate. Icecrown and Season 8 are shaping up to be the most exciting things we'll see in WotLK.

While much of our focus has been on our immediate future, Ghostcrawler recently shared a huge piece of insight into what we can expect as Cataclysm approaches. Subtlety's status in Wrath (or lack thereof) has been the topic of heated discussion, as it's remained largely "the tree you put 21 points into to PvP". Subtlety hasn't seen much use since the Naxxramas days when Honor Among Thieves was bugged and wicked overpowered. Luckily, Blizzard has a plan for the tree and for the class. Read on for the complete story.

Read more →

Filed under: Rogue, Classes, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide, the thrilling conclusion


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that wishes each and every one of you a magical holiday season. Arcane Brilliance would also like to point out that it is writing this immediately following three days spent alternating between being in the company of in-laws who like to discuss politics and on the road for 12 combined hours with a five-year-old and a two-year-old possessed of mind-bogglingly small bladders. Arcane Brilliance cannot be held responsible for any grammatical errors or disturbingly homicidal thoughts you might find herein.


So how was your Thanksgiving? And if you don't live in the United States, how was your Thursday? Ready to get down to business? We've got a leveling guide to finish!

What's that, you say? Finish what? You've been otherwise engaged for the past couple of months and have no idea what I'm talking about? Fear not! On the interwebs, you can find anything. Here, for your convenience, is the complete compendium of Arcane Brilliance's mage leveling wisdom, such as it is:
Part 1: getting started
Part 2: 1-10
Part 3: 11-20
Part 4: 21-30
Part 5: 31-40
Part 6: 41-Outland
Part 7: 59-68
Part 8: keep reading, because this is part 8.
Part 9: completely revised Cataclysm mage leveling guide I'll probably be writing in six months or so...TBA
Part 10: (after the great zombie apocalypse of 2011) Brrraaaaaaiiinnnnssssss.....
Join me after the break as we head for Northrend and level 80.

Read more →

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Quests, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Shifting Perspectives: Why effective health needs to die, part 2


Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we examine the issue of effective health in more depth.

We've discussed in the previous column why effective health is important; here, we're going to discuss why it's not as important as you might think if you had nothing beyond the collective opinion of the Tanking forum to go on. While this has something to do with the mob mentality of the forums themselves, it has more to do with how the concept of effective health isn't usually placed in context. Tank death on hard modes is quickly attributed to EH discrepancies, with rather less discussion on encounter mechanics, inappropriate gear, or that great but frequently unacknowledged bugaboo -- player error. It is for this that I say effective health needs to die.

What is effective health?


I neglected to put some hard numbers on this in the last article, but calculating base effective health is actually pretty simple. It's your health as modified by the damage you'll take after armor contribution (AC), or Health / (1 - AC%).

A 50,000 health tank with 25% armor contribution has 66,666.67 effective health (50,000 / 0.75).

A 50,000 health tank with 50% armor contribution has 100,000 effective health (50,000 / 0.5).

A 50,000 health tank with 75% armor contribution (the maximum functional AC) has 200,000 effective health (50,000 / .25).

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

WoW Insider Show 

Subscribe via  iTunes for our latest show.

Hot Topics


 

Upcoming Events

Event Date
WoW's 10th Anniversary 11/21 - 1/5
Pilgrim's Bounty 11/24 - 12/1
Darkmoon Faire 12/7 - 12/14
Feast of Winter Veil 12/16 - 1/2

Around Azeroth

Around Azeroth

Featured Galleries

It came from the Blog: Pandamonium
The gaming artwork of Jessica Dinh
Mists of Pandaria Raid DPS Analysis
Mists of Pandaria Collector's Edition
Death Knight plague epidemic
Mega Bloks: Goblin Zeppelin Ambush
Mists of Pandaria Beta: Ruins beneath Scarlet Halls
Mists of Pandaria: New warlock pets
Female Pandaren Customization

 

Categories