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Filed under: Night Elves

The many uses of Shadowmeld

Phaelia's got a guest blogger over at Resto4Life who's extolling the many virtues of Shadowmeld, definitely one of the more OP of the racial bonuses after the big change with the Wrath release. Previously, the spell could only be used out of combat, which made it very useful for, umm... hiding while AFK? But with the change of letting you use it in combat as a temporary threat wipe, the skill really opened up to be extremely useful for all sorts of things. If you're a Night Elf and you don't have Shadowmeld on your action bars, it's time to put it back.

Flipping on Shadowmeld has its disadvantages (almost any action takes you out of stealth and puts you back into combat), but if you need to duck out of combat for a quick drink or a quick change of gear, you can do it. And it can easily buy you some extra time to summon a mount or get away from trouble if you happen to be in PvP outside. And while it's not quite as powerful as Vanish, you can even use it in the Arenas to drop out of combat (hidden, as when you start drinking you'll lose your stealth), and grab a few seconds of drinking before you get brought back into the fight.

None of these uses are exactly gamebreaking -- the Shadowmeld action is pretty fragile, so you're going to have to be fast if you want to put that second or half second of dropping out of combat to good use. But when time is short and you've got to use every little ability you have, it's important to have Shadowmeld around. Ducking out of combat for just a moment might be just the boost you need.

Filed under: Night Elves, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, NPCs, Buffs

Priests: 2008 the year of change

That year flew by really quick, didn't it? Last year, I remember I was working my way through Tempest Keep (Kael'Thas even). 2008 brought in a complete set of additions and changes for the Priest class across all 3 specs.

So, shall we get down to Priest class changes? Ranked in no particular order, we'll go over a few of the changes and the impact they had on the current game.

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Filed under: Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Undead, Trolls, Priest, Draenei, Blood Elves

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a Druid

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the nineteenth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Nature is a system of life energy in constant flow, peaceful one moment and turbulent the next. All living things draw their life from it, and depend upon its balance for their existence. Druids are the protectors of this balance, who harness the energies it contains and try to live their lives according to its laws and principles. In this way, they become intimate members of the natural system, embodying the very force that they seek to protect. The druid is not merely a spellcaster who draws on nature to do cool stuff -- he is nature, in himself, completely one with it in every way. The world is his body, and he is an inseparable part of the whole.

It can be rather hard for those of us living in the concrete jungles of modern city life to get a feeling for what nature really is, or what it feels like to be a part of it. Perhaps if you have ever ventured off the paved highway into the distant reaches of the world, you will know the feeling of connection to the greatness of the natural world in which the human race evolved, long, long ago in a state of mind far, far away from billboards and electronic devices, pop culture and prime-time TV programming. It may no longer be possible for human beings to simply return to its ancient state, nor would that necessarily be a good thing. Today, people look out at the world outside the closed-off bubble of material civilization and wonder their new relationship with the ancient balance of nature could be.

To play a druid in WoW as a class in a game is one thing, but to try and get inside the druid worldview and understand what they might be thinking is something else. To start, it would help to look inside ourselves and see what sort of connection to nature exists there. Is there a balance? What would balance look like? How would it feel to be in complete harmony with the natural world? What would it be like to channel all the power of nature through your body or indeed feel the world itself as an extension of your body?

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Filed under: Night Elves, Tauren, Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a Priest

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the seventeenth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Priests in the World of Warcraft are a single class that incorporates a wide variety of characters. They are best known for casting spells that call forth the power of the Holy Light, but the priest using these spells in the game mechanics doesn't necessarily have much connection to the Light as such -- rather they have a connection with their own religion which grants them similar effects to those of the Light.

When WoW was being developed, Blizzard realized that night elves and trolls, for instance, would not follow the Light in the same way humans and dwarves do, so they tried to represent a bit of this diversity through race-specific spells. It didn't work out, though -- some were too powerful, while others weren't worth reading about, much less putting on one's action bar. The end result was that they made some of these spells universally available to all priests, and completely removed the rest. Here the lore had to surrender to the game mechanics in order to provide the best game balance.

In roleplaying, however, there is a lot of room for players of different races to behave differently, and draw their powers from totally different sources. Greater Heal, for instance, could come either from the Light or the power of Elune. A Shadowfiend could either be a spawn of the Forgotten Shadow, or a dark trollish voodoo spirit. If you are roleplaying a priest, the only thing that really matters is that your character have some sort of faith or profound belief, which could serve as the source of their divine magical power. A priest's magic revolves around his or her strong beliefs and ideas -- but what those beliefs are is entirely up to you.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Undead, Trolls, Priest, Analysis / Opinion, Draenei, Blood Elves, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Shifting Perspectives: Let my kitties go!


Every Tuesday/Wednesday/some sort of day occurring midweek, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week Allison Robert yanks John Patricelli's column again, hoping to make good on a threat previously made concerning her "dissatisfaction" with Tauren cat form. And by dissatisfaction she might mean something else.

I'll level with you; we have a huge Druid post in the pipeline that's going to round up the changes to the class in Wrath, new talents, new skills, new everything, and frankly I'm sick to death about reading or writing anything having to do with the expansion. So, just to buck the overwhelming trend that threatens to drive us all to the nuthouse, I'm going to turn to a topic that's plagued Druids for a while.

By this I mean the perennial form issue, something that my Druid colleagues on the blog have previously termed the Same Old Animal Posterior, or SOAP. But it's one that we've been given reason to believe will change in...Wrath. Well, that didn't last long. You'll note that David's article was written in October 2007, more than a year ago, but the same thing could have been posted in 2006 as well. Druid forms haven't changed since launch*, and while they were never really at the cutting edge of Blizzard's art direction as a result**, they look more and more shabby in relation to the higher-polygon models and landscapes. As everything around you gets better and better -- more evocative lighting, more intricate details, fantastic animation -- it's hard not to feel a strange sense of displacement as you shift into a 2004 form within a 2008 game.

But at long last we may see Druid form customization, an overhaul to the default forms themselves, or possibly (hopefully?) both.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Tauren, Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be an Alliance Warrior

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the twelfth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

From the way that warriors are available to nearly every race in the game as a sort of default fighter person, you'd think that they would be the fallback choice for any number of different sort of characters you might imagine. Any sort of regular shmuck could be a warrior right? You just gotta pick up some sort of weapon and start swinging it around at an enemy, yes?

No. Even though the Warrior class is available to almost every race in the game, every race has its own tradition of what it means to be a warrior -- it's not just a farmer with a pitchfork running around and trying to kill things. Warriors go through extensive training, learn to wield a wide variety of weapons, and train themselves in staying upright and charging about even while wearing all kinds of heavy metal on their bodies.

So today we'll look into some of the ways that the races of the Alliance understand what it means to be a warrior, and see which heroes your character might look up to, as well as the archetypes these heroes represent.

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Filed under: Alliance, Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Warrior, Draenei, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Bartle, gender, and the demographics of WoW's classes

A little while back the gamerDNA blog did a nice breakdown of how WAR classes correlate with how gamers do on the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology, a widely used test that can break down exactly what type of player you are (Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, or Killer). It was such an interesting writeup that I hoped they'd do it with WoW classes, and apparently I wasn't the only one -- they've got a new post up now examining which classes in Azeroth align with which types of players.

They throw gender into the mix as well -- turns out that while the classes have generally the same percentage of players (not surprising, given that gameplay dictates the classes should be fairly balanced), things start to break up when you add gender to the mix. Priests and Warriors seem to have the biggest separation: according to their data (obtained via the profiles on their site), most Priests are played by females, and most Warriors are played by men. Paladins as well tend to be male, though not as much as Warriors, and Druids tend to be female, though not as much as Priests. Women also tend to prefer the elven races (Blood and Night), while guys apparently prefer Orcs and Dwarves (which helps my -- sexist, I admit -- theory from way back on the WoW Insider Show that the Dwarven starting area appeals to guys more than women).

The Bartle breakdown is interesting, too -- Killers prefer Rogues (duh), Warriors tend to be Achievers, and Hunters have the slight Explorer edge, but in general, the classes have a fairly even distribution across the board. All of the different roles can be filled by all the classes, which speaks to the way Blizzard has built the classes -- you can really solo, PvP, or group up with any of them. WAR's differences were distinct, but in WoW, Blizzard has done their best to make it so that whatever Bartle type you are, you can log in with any class and do what you want. gamerDNA promises more research here (including a Horde and Alliance breakdown), and we can't wait to see it.

Filed under: Night Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Hunter, Paladin, Priest, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blood Elves, Classes

Shifting Perspectives: Moonkin in 3.02 and beyond

Every Tuesday, or possibly Thursday when the writer realizes that nobody writing about moonkin DPS on the internet agrees with each other, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week Allison Robert, having Hibernated John Patricelli and run away as fast as her laser-chicken legs will carry her, examines the new moonkin talents and glyphs in 3.02 and Wrath.

I do apologize about the wait here, folks. There's been a lot of contradictory information from both the beta and an array of Druid bloggers on how moonkin are shaping up for Wrath. While a lot of this is just the normal ebb and flow of changes in the alpha and beta, most of it is fueled by a few new talents and the set of glyphs that will become available. All of these have the potential to seriously impact your gameplay and rotation choices, so Balance DPS is going to be (at least, from current appearances) a lot twitchier and more proc-dependent than its counterpart in the feral tree. In addition, you'll probably have to make a few hard choices that will be affected by what your raid's going to need from you (although there is a truly amazing talent deep in the balance tree that, no matter what else you pick, is going to be a significant raid DPS contribution). As Balance is the only spec that I haven't gotten to raid on, I didn't want to go live with this until trying to figure out which pieces of information were accurate and which ones weren't. Bear in mind that Blizzard is still tinkering with Balance as I write this.

For the guide to feral in 3.02, head here; for the guide to resto in 3.02, head here. You'll probably want to be familiar with the resto changes, as balance has traditionally depended on a few key talents in that tree, some of which have changed. Otherwise, read on for a comprehensive look at balance's new talents, updated skills, and glyphs!

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Filed under: Night Elves, Tauren, Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Expansions, Raiding, Guides, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King

Skill Mastery: Survival Instincts

Survival Instincts is one of the surviving (har!) aspects of the now-defunct 51-point Berserk talent in the feral tree (the other is the new version of Berserk, which we discussed here). It's fairly straightforward; for 11 points in the feral tree and a 5-minute cooldown, you get 30% of your maximum health in bear or cat form for 20 seconds. Essentially it's Last Stand for Druids, albeit a Last Stand with a significantly shorter cooldown.

During 5-mans in the beta while tanking, I saw an HP boost into the 26-27K range from a health pool of 19-20K. That's certainly nothing to sneeze at and it's situationally useful, although it'll probably find better and more consistent application under the same circumstances in which Last Stand's typically popped, i.e. progression raid content and/or "Oh S**T!" moments. The latter is particularly welcome as Druids have often complained about bear form's worrying lack of options in the event of an emergency. As many Warriors will tell you, proper use of the ability involves letting your healers know both when you've popped the ability and when it ends. Mods like OptiTaunt can relay this information automatically, but you can also macro it if need be.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Tauren, Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Guides, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King

Skill Mastery: Berserk

Berserk, the new 51-point talent in the Druid's Feral tree is...what day is it? Thursday? They change it a lot. Anyway, the talent originally combined elements of The Beast Within with Last Stand, but they've disengaged the +health component and made it a separate talent entitled Survival Instinct. The talent that remains affects both Bear and Cat form and does the following:
  • Mangle (Bear) will automatically hit up to 3 targets and is spammable (i.e. no cooldown)
  • Cat form abilities cost 50% less energy
  • Breaks Fear and makes you immune for the duration of Berserk
Berserk lasts for 15 seconds and Tiger's Fury is unusable while it's active, at least in the talent's current form. But odds are pretty good you'll be too busy rolling your face across the keyboard and shouting, "Faster, pussycat! Kill! Kill!!" to notice this.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Tauren, Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Guides, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a night elf

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the seventh in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

The night elves are probably the most difficult race to roleplay well in all the World of Warcraft, which is particularly ironic considering how very popular they are. Many a roleplayer has been disappointed by seeing player character night elves who are 21 years old, who were born in Darnassus or Teldrassil, or whose mother or father is human -- all of which would be next to impossible according to the actual lore of the game. The only way to make things like this is to change the lore to suit your own preferences, or to rely on cliche devices such as time travel and special magics which really go too far into the realm of the abominably self-centered Mary Sue.

Night elves can also be difficult to understand, and full of contradictions: they can be over 10,000 years old, and yet they often do not possess the vast wisdom that would seem to come with such an age; they are deeply connected to nature, and yet they sometimes act without the blessings of nature; their women are supposed to be very fierce warriors, and yet their animation in the game has them bouncing up and down like teenage girls at their favorite boy-band concert.

And yet much of this is just the sort of thing that draws people to the night elves. There's a youthful passion combined with ancient grace and sadness that many roleplayers just love to get into. Also, for those who love to develop long and complex background stories for their characters, there is a great deal of history about the night elves' ancient past which can serve as good inspiration for many of your own character's life events. We won't go into every detail of ancient history today, however; instead we'll cover the basics that you'll need to know in order to start out with a night elf that fits in the Warcraft story, and direct you to some more resources if you'd like to make one with a really deep and complicated background.

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Filed under: Alliance, Night Elves, Druid, Hunter, Warrior, Lore, Guides, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Barrens Chat: Always a catch


Right when we talk two of our friends into playing World of Warcraft with us again, the same two that talked us into playing in the first place, I miss out on all the fun. Almost a day without power, and the internet has, as of earlier today, finally gotten back up to par. At least I have the weekend to look forward to!

I hope I'm not the only person looking forward to my very own Frosty. I missed out on all the other fun vanity pets, but I finally (might) get a cute little Frost Wyrm, oh and the Collector's Edition's other extras as well. I just don't think I'll be cuddling it any time soon, he looks a little bony.

See you next week!

Gallery: Barrens Chat

Spoiled RottenBubbles bubbles everywhereAlways a catchDead RingerRevolution evolutionAll hands on deck


Barrens Chat is a weekly comic installment created on caffeine and pixy sticks. Although often abusing Hunters in any way we can find, sometimes we go after the tankier players, too. Stop by every week to see a new comic, and hope that the sugar stash has run out by then.

Filed under: Alliance, Night Elves, Draenei, Comics, Barrens Chat

Tips for using the new Shadowmeld wisely

One of the topics we talked about indepth on last Saturday's WoW Insider Show was the racial ability revamp that Blizzard did in the latest beta patch -- I said that I wasn't even under the impression that racial tweaks were on the table, but apparently Blizzard still doesn't think they're done, and it looks like they're using those abilities to build in a lot of baseline things like threat reduction and resilience against movement-impairing effects.

After all the dust settled (there was one more revision in the works, and there may be more so far before the patch goes live), it looks like Shadowmeld is going to be getting one of the aforementioned threat reduction tweaks: Night Elves will be able to kick in Shadowmeld instantly and even while in combat every three minutes, and it will drop (though not wipe) threat, cancelled on moving. This adds, as Phaelia notes, a few new wrinkles to Night Elf gameplay -- not only will NE Priests have a new aggro "pause" (since the aggro doesn't actually disappear, all that will happen is that they'll have to wait for the tank to grab enough aggro to get focus back), but soloing Night Elves will have a new way to dodge a pull gone bad, and Druids who happen to be pulling in raids will be able to end a bad pull early, hopefully without wiping the entire group.

Pretty slick for just a racial ability. As always, this may change before the beta ends (originally, this was a Human ability called The Fall of Humanity, though Blizzard wisely decided it didn't work too well as that), but this extra functionality might give NEs an extra panic button when they need to switch threat around fast.

Filed under: Night Elves, Druid, Hunter, Priest, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, PvP, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

Spiritual Guidance: Level 5 to 20

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is now Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. For the next few weeks (unless it's something game breaking), Matt will do his best to guide you through the Priest leveling process!

Wrath is almost upon us. As a result, you may have decided that you have nothing better to do then to roll a Priest! A quick glance at the WI leveling guides shows completed class guides for every almost every other class but Priests!

This must be changed. The countdown has begun.

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Filed under: Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Undead, Trolls, Priest, How-tos, Draenei, Leveling, Talents, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Breakfast Topic: If you could choose your racials

If you haven't already checked out the list of updated racial abilities, you should. Some have been nerfed, others were buffed, and new ones, like the "Voodoo Shuffle" were added.

While racials are a nice bonus, they can weigh heavily on your racial decision when rolling a given class. For example, many Horde warriors roll Tauren because of the 5% health increase. This conflicts with rolling the race that you'd prefer combined with the class you desire.

There has been much speculation about what it would be like to be able to choose your own racials, and reader Mike even came up with a talent tree method for doing just that.

If you were given the power to choose, which three or four would you choose, and why? Keep in mind the overall balance which generally includes a passive ability, an active one, and one or two minor buffs to stats such as resistances, health, or professions.

Filed under: Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Orcs, Tauren, Undead, Trolls, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Draenei, Blood Elves, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

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