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Filed under: Patches

Cataclysm Beta: Warlock specializations and talents


A familiar necrotic stench fills the air as sights and sounds fade into a fog of Fear. You tremble at the searing touch of flame that has enveloped those around you. Your hope is not that the warlock considers you a friend among foes, but that he has a use for you -- for that is the only way to survive this hell and receive his hallowed Blood Pact.

Finally, it has happened. The alpha has met its omega, the nondisclosure agreement is no more, and a freshly patched beta has released a swarm of much-anticipated Cataclysm information onto an unsurprisingly anxious and open-mouthed crowd. Standing before us are the revamped talent trees, relieved of the rot that has infested them for so long and ready for us to dissect and devour. I hope you're hungry.

Many talent changes have already been covered here at WoW.com, but what is missing is most important, not only because it pertains to what may become the most-shaken and altered class of patch 4.0, but also because their presence alone keeps the population of mages at bay. And too many mages means too much Lady Gaga, apple martinis and glittery body sprays. Ugh.

So, let's not waste a moment on pleasantries or poems, warlocks, for the time of our new arrival is nigh.

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Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Cataclysm

Patch 3.3.3 PTR: Minor Jewelcrafting changes

Yesterday an updated list of changes for PTR patch 3.3.3 was released. Ranging from new pets and mounts to the LFD dungeon stats being tracked, there have been a lot of tweaks. Jewelcrafting is no exception to the rules of change and like other professions is seeing some small changes.
These are small changes, but for many Jewelcrafters they are welcome ones. On many servers due to the rising number of tanks, Chalcedony can be very difficult to come by on the auction house and relying on the random number generator can sometimes leave you high and dry when you are prospecting for specific gems. Lowering the amount of gems required for the Icy Prism makes it a tad bit easier for aspiring jewelers to obtain the various gems they may need to level their profession to the skill cap, as well as making it slightly more profitable when you manage to gain a good gem like a Cardinal Ruby or Dragon's Eye.

Just like Inscription having the material components reduced for many of it's recipes and the Titansteel cooldown being removed, I think we will continue to see this trend as Cataclysm approaches. Making it easier for players to hit their profession skill caps before the expansion drops is a very good way to get people ready for when the skill cap is raised again.

Filed under: Patches, News items

Raid/PuG habits should be kept separate

I want my frost badges. At this point, I'm working on completing my T10 set (so close) and waiting for the gates to come down in ICC is so slow and maddening, I basically run the daily random every single day on my three dedicated Alliance side 80's (my Horde toons are again in a neglect cycle, my tauren cries at night when no one can hear) for primordial saronite and of course, that annoying Tier. Then of course the non-set gear that has crazy high armor on it to switch in for specific fights. And of course after that there's DPS gear for offset. So basically, I need a lot of emblems and ICC just doesn't provide enough running it on 10 and 25 weekly. Imagine me as a bitter old man sidling up to the emblem bar and yelling "Hit me!" at this point.

Last night I and a couple of guildmates signed up for a frost run and we ended up with two DPS and popped into Azjol-Nerub. I'd got myself a new fist weapon on my shammy and wanted to punch things in the face. Half way through the run, the healer sent me a tell asking me to inspect the DPS warrior we'd picked up. And yes, he was DPSing in Prot, with all of his talent points in the protection tree, in a mix of tanking and PvP gear. Yes, his DPS was low (I believe the proper phrase would be 'ridiculously low') and yes, he ran and pulled Hadronox instead of letting the person signed up to tank do it, and brought all the adds over as well. I was all set to blow a gasket at him, when I realized that this was a PuG. I'd never see the guy again. I was putting out enough DPS to cover for him, as was the hunter in the group. We burned down Hadronox, I briefly explained to the guy what the adds did, he apologized as this was all still very new to him and it was his first 80.

This led to a brief discussion while we were heading down to kill Anub'arak.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King

Ashen Verdict strength ring in minor content patch

Bornakk popped onto the forums late Thursday to confirm that Blizzard is planning to add a +strength version to the Ashen Verdict rings in an upcoming mini-patch. The appearance of the four current rings with patch 3.3 caused a minor furor on the forums, with plate DPS being left out in the cold. While there are +strength DPS rings available elsewhere in Icecrown Citadel, there's no replacement for a reputation ring's valuable proc.

One of the interesting things about the +strength ring's initial absence wasn't its absence per se, but the reason for omitting it. Apparently the Ashen Verdict choices were a reproduction of older reputation-linked quest items (e.g. Violet Eye and Scale of the Sands rings) that allowed only four choices, and Blizzard wasn't able to get past the programming issues to add a fifth option before 3.3 went live. Well, that's going to get fixed in the upcoming mini-patch, which will also see a few other class-related changes. The date of the patch is still anyone's guess, but we'll keep an eye out for you.

Filed under: Paladin, Warrior, Patches, News items, Death Knight

Totem Talk: Fire Nova

Totem Talk is the column for shamans. This week, Matthew Rossi talks about Fire Nova, his absolute favorite new ability in quite some time. Boom!

The hastily cobbled together screenshot above really only gives you a small taste of the awesome that is Fire Nova. The old Fire Nova totem was okay... you'd drop it on big AoE packs if you could do so, but for a lot of shamans, sacrificing their active fire totem to so so was a lot to ask. The genius of Fire Nova, the new ability, is of course that it works with any fire totem you have. You're a restoration shaman with a Frost Resist totem down up close to the melee on Sapphiron? Well, our first question could be "Why are you still running Sapphiron?" but we'll assume it's a weekly raid thing. Anyway, even that Frost Resistance totem can now provide some damage! I'm not saying waste your mana on DPS if it's a tight thing, mind you, I'm just saying that if you found yourself healing a fight you way overgeared you can pop a couple of FN's in there to liven things up.

Yeah, okay, this happened to me. It was boring!

Where Fire Nova has really shined for me, though, is running a modified Enhancement set-up. Now, granted, some of the DPS I'm seeing from this has also come from getting a few upgrades to my gear set, but in tight AoE situations I'm seeing Fire Nova as a solid 2nd on the DPS chart, just behind melee attacks.

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

Upcoming Adjustments announced for Old Kingdom, Nexus, Culling of Stratholme

Zarhym popped into one of the many official forum topics complaining about the seemingly inordinate amount of times Old Kingdom pops on the Dungeon Finder to offer some welcome news for exhausted dungeon runners: Old Kingdom and Nexus alike will be receiving some adjustments meant to bring the dungeons in line with other Wrath heroics.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Instances, Bosses

Upcoming class and item balance changes

There has been a lot of good discussion lately concerning various aspects of the DPS status quo. Some classes are putting out too much compared to their cloth counterparts, and others have suddenly found themselves too powerful in certain areas of the game. Blizzard recognizes this, and this evening the Lead System Designer, Ghostcrawler, came out and enumerated a few things Blizzard believes are true.

Ghostcrawler has left the door open to these class and item balance issues being fixed (if Blizzard decides to pursue such fixes) in either a hotfix or through an upcoming patch. Chief among these changes are an increase in warlock DPS, a decrease in rogue DPS, a change in protection warriors to limit their utility in PvP, and refinements to Icecrown Citadel weapon procs.

When looking over this laundry list of areas to change, it's important to remember that Ghostcrawler is not promising a fix, and that he and his team are not ready to share specifics. He has not promised you the pony, so don't be mad if some of these changes don't happen.

Ghostcrawler's full statement after the break.

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Filed under: Patches, News items

In-game changes for January 5th, 2010

There is a new round of in-game fixes that have just been released. Chief among these is a nerf to Lady Deathwhisper in Icecrown Citadel and the ghost waves in normal and heroic Halls of Reflection.

Lady Deathwhisper is having her 25-man normal version changed (not the 10-man) to decrease her mana pool and to decrease the health on all the adds. This means that the shield will go down much faster for guilds currently struggling with that aspect of the encounter. Additionally, tanks get a bit of a buff here in that the Adherents will wait a little bit longer before casting, which means there will be more wiggle room in picking them up. We have a feeling the necessity of these changes will be hotly debated.

The ghost waves in Halls of Reflection have also been changed to allow for easier combinations of mobs (no more two mages in one group). The AoE the mage does will also do less damage and be more interruptable, which should make for an easier time staying grouped up.

The complete list of fixes after the break.

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Filed under: Patches, News items, Instances

Tuesday Morning Post: Lift up the gates edition

So here we are. It's been a while since Patch 3.3 started, and we've had a suspiciously early downtime announcement to boot. The holidays are winding down, and most of us, including, one would assume, the Blizzard devs, have finished our eggnog and put our noses back to the grindstone. As of this writing, there's no official word either way, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic about waking up to news of a new section of ICC being opened, or at least a nice mini-patch full of some bug fixes -- say, to certain borked class cooldowns. We can't say for sure, though. All we can say for sure is that the realms are down, and will be for a while, until at least 11 AM pacific time.

With that in mind, it's a good time to catch up on the news. As usual, we have a roundup of some of the best articles from the past 7 days or so. We're shaking off the holiday drowsiness and getting into full gear to help you get through the next phase of ICC, find out when we'll see more Cataclysm news, and more. Join us in the server downtime vigil and read on.

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Filed under: Patches, Odds and ends, News items

You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry


When writing this Breakfast Topic I noticed in the comments a certain disconnect between how I approach running heroics and how other people seem to. So I thought I'd try and encapsulate the differences and try and help explain why sometimes tanks seem a little touchy or off in runs. It's not just the blows to the head, guys.

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

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Warriors in Icecrown Citadel, part II


The Care and Feeding of Warriors this week goes back to Icecrown Citadel to discuss the last two currently accessible encounters, the Gunship Battle and Deathbringer. Matt Rossi kind of wishes the Deathbringer fight was just against a great big talking axe. We don't have enough boss fights with inanimate objects.

Okay, so you've done the first two bosses in the place. Now what? Well, now you launch yourself via poorly designed goblin explosives between flying boats and you fight the son of possibly the greatest living warrior on the face of Azeroth. And then if you're Alliance you turn the whole thing over to a gnome with a frying pan and go raid Trial of the Grand Crusader for another week, I guess. Horde are presumably too clever to trust the opening of Icecrown to breakfast technology. Or too hungry. At any rate you're stuck with the same content as the rest of us.

So let's get on with it, shall we?

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Bosses, Factions, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

The Wrath you never saw

As we're heading towards the final confrontation with the Lich King and the end of this chapter of the World of Warcraft saga, we end up reminded of how much of Wrath of the Lich King was designed and never used, or used sparingly, or even resurrected later, fittingly enough. But not only do we have loads of models that either weren't used at all or were used later in places completely unrelated to where they were supposed to drop, we have entire zones that either didn't happen at all, or did but which don't seem to go anywhere.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Arcane Brilliance: The Mage of 2009

The internet's magiest weekly mage column, Arcane Brilliance would like to wish you and yours a very magetastic holiday season. Unless you and yours are warlocks. In which case Arcane Brilliance hopes the holiday season comes to your Christmas party and punches you in the face.

Every year, as the end of that twelve-month block draws near, Arcane Brilliance likes to take an unbiased look back at the events that captured our collective imagination. Heh. Get it? "I-MAGE-ination?" Holy crap Arcane Brilliance is clever. And indefensibly fond of bad puns.

So what did the year of our lord 2009 hold for those of us who prefer the scent of barbecued sheep to pretty much any odor ever and think strudel is a perfectly acceptable meal choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a meal I like to call the "Evocation's-on-cooldown-snack?"

Join me after the break for all the highlights, presented in vaguely chronological order.

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

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Warrior of 2009

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.

Wow, that was a year, huh? From the dizzying highs of fury spec in Naxxramas to the somewhat less dizzying highs of Ulduar, arms' constant evolution and protection spec's astonishing makeover as the expansion launched, 2009 was a year that saw warriors sway from top DPS and solid tanks as if in some kind of gale force wind. Armor Penetration went from a stat we'd take if we had to and is now one of our top DPS stats, Block got a makeover that led to changes in how abilities like Shield Block and Shield Slam calculate, and in general we saw the effects of stat inflation on gear really have an effect on us and how we stack up to other classes as tanks and DPS. If you were a tanking warrior in Naxx on January 1st. 2009, for example, you may have had upwards of 35k health. (To be honest, it's hard for me to remember, it may have gotten up to 38k if you stacked stamina.) Now, a geared TotGC tank walking into ICC can pretty easily hit 54 to 55k health fully raid buffed.

And it's only going up from here. Icecrown Citadel promises much improved itemization as well as crazy old school procs that should have warriors, be they DPS or tanks, salivating.

Warriors have definitely had their ups and downs this year, but I think we can say we're ending the year on a fairly high note. Fury DPS has managed to get back to a competitive place with the new weapons, arms still lags behind but has solid PvP and PvE uses, and protection is quite possibly the single strongest tanking class by virtue of sheer flexibility: other tanks may have more health, more armor, or more AoE threat, but protection's suite of abilities includes standouts like Shockwave, Vigilance, Spell Reflection and Warbringer, making it possibly #2 in every single tanking category when no class can claim to be #1 in them all. Let's look at some changes and how they shook out for warriors.

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

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.

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

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