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Filed under: Talents

Lichborne: Blood, blood!


Welcome to Lichborne, WoW.com's death knight column.

Hi and welcome to this post Day of the Dead Lichborne. I'm filling in for Daniel this week to talk about my personal favorite death knight talent spec, namely blood. Blood! Over the past year blood has seen its ups and downs, often lagging behind frost for tanking and unholy for DPS (and at times vice versa) but as of patch 3.2 blood seems to be in a really good place, overall. Strong for soloing/questing as well as instancing as either a tank or DPS spec, blood can stand shoulder to shoulder with the other DK talent specs.

Blood's reputation was formed in the early days of Wrath of the Lich King as one of the absolute best leveling specs due to its very strong self healing options. While these were toned down from their beta and early release heights, the tree is still the strongest at creating opportunities to regenerate health of the three, and is often used by enterprising DK's looking to solo older content. But it's capable of far more than that, and of the three specs it's the most physical damage based tree with Heart Strike being purely weapon based damage. Furthermore, blood DK's have one of the nicest pure physical DPS buff abilities in the game with Hysteria. You can be selfish with it and save it for yourself, as you're almost sure to make back the health you'll lose to the talent, but if you choose to share it with a DPS warrior or cat feral druid, the raw DPS they can put out (especially druids) can be rather crazy.

So let us talk about blood. Blood is life... and in your hands, it can also be death.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Talents, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Death to Whirlwind


Well, no, not death. But the synergy between Whirlwind and Titan's Grip is, to my mind, the reason why Titan's Grip was nerfed in the first place. The secret is in Whirlwind's tooltip. For those of you who just hate reading floaty boxes, here's the skinny: "In a whirlwind of steel you attack up to 4 enemies within 8 yards, causing weapon damage from both melee weapons to each enemy."

What's the problem, you're probably thinking, or maybe you're thinking about pennies and kittens, I'm no mind reader. Plus, I'm writing this before you get a chance to read it, so while I'm composing it you're not even thinking about what I'm typing because you won't read it until later and I'm also incapable of prognosticating the future.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Talents

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.3 PTR mage change analysis


Welcome to Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that champions the causes of wizards everywhere, be they fiery, frosty, or arcane...y. The top issue facing the mage community right now? Warlocks: how to get the stink out of your robes after setting one on fire? Fear not, Arcane Brilliance has the solution: when killing warlocks, always stand upwind.

Since last we convened as a body of mages, no fewer than two new builds have descended upon the PTR, heralding a slew of upcoming changes for our class. Alex wrote an excellent post covering the first few of these, but a few more nuggets of newness have surfaced since then that need to be addressed. And since I'm a diagnosed (and unrepentant) completionist, we're going to go ahead and double back to analyze those earlier changes as well. The next installment of our mage leveling guide will come next week.

So without further preamble, let's look at the changes, shall we?

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

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

Lichborne: The latest Patch 3.3 PTR death knight changes in depth


Welcome to Lichborne, WoW.com's death knight column.

Remember when I said that it looked like Patch 3.3 was going to be relatively quiet for us? I may have spoken too soon. There's been a pretty major shakeup to Unholy DPS (again), and there's one or two other changes we might want to discuss, including news of some armor tier bonuses. Let's get to it.

Scourge Strike Rebalancing: The Neverending Story

So before we delve into this change, let's take a moment to review the star-crossed history of Scourge Strike. Scourge Strike is meant to be the basic Frost/Unholy attack of an Unholy death knight, and the hardest hitting of their attacks. In theory. Here's the thing with Scourge Strike: It does shadow damage. That means it completely bypasses all armor, meaning it does a lot more effective damage than you might guess just from glancing at the tool tip. The problem back in the early days of the class is that it was doing far too much, easily outstripping Obliterate. So, Blizzard nerfed the damage, and all was well for a while.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Talents, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide, 11-20

Welcome to another installment of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that dares to ask the question: how much mage is too much? Then Arcane Brilliance slaps itself in the face, because that's a stupid question. You can never have too much mage.

So, your mage is leveling nicely. You've wandered out of the starting area and into the wider zone beyond, done a bunch of quests, learned a rudimentary spell rotation (Frostbolt-->Fireball-->Fireball-->Fireball-->Conjure Water-->Drink) and now you've gone and hit level 10. This is a milestone for a number of reasons:
  1. The mage staff quest we talked about two weeks ago.
  2. You can now begin doing PvP in an actual battleground against players in your level bracket (as opposed to doing PvP against bored 12-year-olds who think it's fun to run around the starting areas with their level 80 death knights ganking lowbies).
  3. Your first talent point!
Let's discuss the second two of these three things before we move forward.

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

Patch 3.3 PTR: Warlock pets bite back


I was pretty under-whelmed by the 3.3 PTR patch notes when they first came about, even going so far as to say on the podcast that I was more interested in the hunter changes. The removal of the Imp quest and the pet avoidance change made for some pretty slim pickings. The latest version of the notes is a whole other story though -- now this is interesting.

Affliction

This is a spec that needs some love. It had some fun times early on in Wrath with some big numbers and a lot of people flocking to its door. Not all were successful however, this was a powerful build but one that took some mastering. Many decided it wasn't worth the effort and went a hybrid demo/destro route to simpler, but slightly lower DPS scores.

These days the complexity of affliction is still there, it's a fiddly build to get right -- this is both a draw for many and a turn off for others. However, the numbers just don't make it as raid viable as destruction; if you can do well with Haunt, you can probably do better with Chaos Bolt. Affliction used to be a utility build but no more, other classes and builds are either doing it better or easier. So yes, affliction needs some love and it's getting it -- puppy love.

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Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Talents

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

Scattered Shots: So you want to be a Hunter - Part 5 Levels 31-40

Welcome back to the Scattered Shots, So you want to be a Hunter series. This guide is intended to help new Hunters better understand how to play the best class in the game. So join me, Eddie "Brigwyn" Carrington from the Hunting Lodge as we explore the ins and out of how to be a Hunter.

Welcome back to the fifth installment of the So You Want to Be a Hunter leveling guide. This week we'll take a journey from 31 through 40. As you journey through these 10 levels you'll have the opportunity to see many of the great vibrant landscapes that will be changed in Cataclysm. Also, if you want you can quest in Dustwallow Marsh and see brave adventurers tackle the revamped Onyxia courtesy of Patch 3.2.2.

As every week we'll recap what we have covered up to now.

Part 1: We reviewed racials and their impact on the hunter class. Reviewed each of the current races and what the benefits were of each racial.

Part 2: We quickly talked about the first nine levels. We also went on to talk about each of the three hunter talent trees and their basic play style.

Part 3: Last week we discussed what happened from levels 10 through 20. We also went over the quests to learn how to tame your first pet.

Part 4: We covered some of the covered attacks, buffs and spells. We also began looking at how to teach your pet new skills by applying pet talents.

With that out of the way, let's mount up and head on out of here.

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Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Leveling, Guides, Talents, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

WoW patch 3.2.2 changes for Mages


Since I have some extra time while I wait for my Mage to finish his looting animation, I thought I'd post a quick primer on the Mage changes patch 3.2.2 has brought us. There are only three (well, three and a half, I guess), but all three are of significant import. I posted about them in an Arcane Brilliance column way back when this patch first hit the PTR, but a lot has changed since then. Let's look at each change in turn.

Arcane
  • Arcane Blast: The buff from using this ability now stacks up to 4 times instead of 3, and each application increases mana cost by 175% instead of 200%. In addition, the duration of the buff has been reduced to 6 seconds.
Though not nearly as drastic a change as it was at the start of the PTR, this is still very nice. That fourth stack means whatever spell you throw out to consume the buff will do a whopping 60% more damage, and the mana cost increase isn't nearly the killer it used to be, even with four stacks. Plus, none of that matters anyway, since you won't actually be using any mana on the spell you consume your Arcane Blast buff with, because that spell will be free. "Why," you ask? Because that spell will be Arcane Missiles. "But Arcane Missiles costs a buttload of mana," you say? You're right. But you're also so, so very wrong:
  • Missile Barrage: The effect from triggering this talent now removes the mana cost of Arcane Missiles. In addition, the chance for Arcane Blast to trigger this talent is now 8/16/24/32/40%. All other listed spells continue to have a 4/8/12/16/20% chance to trigger it. This talent no longer has a chance to be triggered when spells miss.
See? Two things here:
  1. The proc chance is much greater for this when you cast Arcane Blast than it will be with other spells. By the time you stack four Arcane Blasts, you're almost guaranteed to get a Missile Barrage proc.
  2. When you cast a gatling-gun Arcane Missiles with this, not only will it be super speedy and awesome-looking, it will also be free. As in, no mana cost. As in yay.
So what does this mean?

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Classes, Talents

Lichborne: Analyzing the latest Patch 3.2.2 PTR changes


Avast ye swabbies! Welcome to Lichborne, where Death Knights rule the Seven Seas and the rest of ye lubbers walk the - Oh. Wait. Talk like a Pirate Day is OVER? Well, dangit. At least I still have this cool buff for a few more hours.

These past few weeks have bought a flurry of updates the Patch 3.2.2 PTR servers, and a lot of the updates have a lot to do with Death Knights. Since we were the most changed class in Patch 3.2, it might be expected that we got a good amount of tweaking in 3.2.2 to complement and compensate the Patch 3.2 changes. Thus, it would behoove us to take a look at said changes and see where they'll leave us coming into the likely rapidly approaching patch.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, News items, Guides, Classes, Talents, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Patch 3.2.2 PTR: Another Beast Within change


Blizzard's been messing around with Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within over on the patch 3.2.2 PTR -- they've added some CC-breaking utility to it, as well as a mana reduction, while also lowering the duration (and that's what many players latched on to, crying foul). Those angry folks still probably don't have a reason to cheer, but Mania, via MMO Champion, tells us that Blizzard is at least on the way back up with Beast Within: they've upped the mana cost reduction to 50% from the 20% it was before.

Of course, this is the PTR we're talking about, so this change isn't set in stone any more than the first change was (not to mention that in the next expansion, Hunters won't need mana anyway, so who knows what'll happen then). But those of you who freaked out over the first Bestial Wrath changes can at least take comfort in the fact that the talent is still being worked on.
2n - 1 go left, 2n go right. I don't see enough DoTs! More DoTs now!

Are you ready for the return of Onyxia? With the Brood Mother being revitalized as a 10 and 25 person raid, you'll need to be sure you know everything that's coming at you. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2.2 will make sure your set for the next patch!

Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Talents, Cataclysm

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: A Call To Arms


The Care and Feeding of Warriors takes this week to explore Arms. Matthew Rossi has been Bladestorm crazy all week, it's really rather disturbing.

The last time I dedicated a column to Arms, it was April. It seems overdue for discussion again.

Part of the problem was, I didn't have an axe or polearm. Heck, I didn't even have a mace. Swords? Yeah, I had swords up the wazoo. Unfortunately, swords are not good for Arms. This is because Sword Specialization is just plain inferior to Poleaxe Specialization. Sad but true, the once might Sword Spec is now hampered by an internal cooldown that prevents the ability from proccing twice in close succession, meaning that at most you'll get an extra attack that might be a crit and then nothing for 45 seconds. Compare that to Poleaxe's 5% crit bonus and 5% more damage from each crit, with no messy hidden cooldown so that the more crit you have, the more chances you have to do more damage with each crit. Sword spec is so bad it's getting buffed in the 3.2.2 patch, and yet even doubling the chance for an extra hit doesn't seem to excite most dyed in the wool arms players.

Although Justicebringer still won't drop for us I did manage to snag myself an axe this week and decided to play around with Arms again.

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, PvP, Raiding, Classes, Talents, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Battlegrounds, Arena

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