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The Queue: Dextered {WoW}

Dec 22nd 2010 2:08PM You know what would be nice? A "clothes" bag. Make it have like 36 slots and allow us to store all those tabards in there! Put one of these in your bank and watch some slots free up. It might also be nice to put all kinds of armor in here (cloth, leather, mail, plate). I might actually want two of these. It would be a band-aid for the issue we players have regarding storage issues around tabards.

All those in favor say aye!

Heroic Cataclysm dungeons now available for beta testing {WoW}

Sep 21st 2010 6:13PM Just a quick note as I haven't seen this mentioned yet elsewhere:

The mechanism introduced in Wrath called "Championing" whereby you wear the tabard of a given faction and gain reputation with them while running heroic dungeons is supported in Cataclysm. I purchased the "Tabard of Ramkahen" after doing most of the quests in Uldum and found this information on the item. The item itself doesn't appear on wowhead.com at the moment, but the associated "spell" is listed:

http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=93337

I don't know what other factions have similar tabards, but it can be assumed that a similar number will support this wonderful mechanism. Cheers!

Arcane Brilliance: Cataclysm beta highlights for mages {WoW}

Jul 4th 2010 12:45PM Thanks to input from Luke, I've updated my PvP build again:

http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#of0G0G0bhoZfVsfsbcoVubGst

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Arcane:

The reason I didn't take Improved Missiles is because with this build, you will never cast Arcane Missiles so these 3 points spent here are a waste. If you invest in Hot Streak then it says your Fire spells will no longer trigger Arcane Missiles. If you look at the description of Arcane Missiles you'll see that this spell cannot be cast whenever you want, but has a 30% chance to "activate" when you cast other spells:

http://cata.wowhead.com/spell=5143

While it's true you might cast a non-Fire spell and get AM to "activate" it seems rare and thus investing these 3 points into Arcane Focus (and I have no idea how often spells are going to be resisted but to put these 3 points in any other place makes no sense) is the only logical thing to do in my opinion.

I didn't put a point in Focus Magic because I don't now (for PvP) because I found that the only time I used it was before the battle began -- that ONE time when I could examine those in my group and assign it properly. In the heat of battle when I get resurrected, I buff myself and start killing and there isn't always a worthy friend nearby to receive this spell. It's a great spell, but using it in PvP is something I find difficult so I specced out of it.

While I'm a friend of Arcane Mind (my current PvP spec is deep arcane and I have this filled out 5/5) I think its use here is less optimal then investing more deeply in the primary tree which is Fire. I've always felt that talent builds should emphasize a single tree very deeply, then build on that with 11 (Icy Veins) or 21 (PoM) invested in another tree. Anyhow, yes you would gain more int which means a larger mana pool and more spell power and possibly more crit as it does now, but I put these points into Fire.

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Fire:

I appreciate your input and agree that Fireball is likely never to be cast and thus I moved the 5 points in the first tier to the others. I love a shorter cooldown on Fire Blast since it is so powerful now (41 yard range now and with Impact procced, a 2 second stun which I am still going with) and more crit on Fire Blast and Scorch is pure win as you said. Not using Fireball provides a stealthier approach since Fire Blast and Scorch instantly hit their target and make it difficult for your opponent to know where it came from (which is why I PvP with Arcane now since Arcane Blast is similarly anonymous). Only when Hot Streak procs or you can PoM pyro do you give your position away.

I put my last talent point into Burning Soul because you will take damage while casting and I think this might really help. I invested heavily in my current Arcane PvP build to get a similar benefit and I think it's really beneficial.

I'm sticking with Impact since we will be casting Fire Blast a lot (reduced cooldown). A stun is so powerful not only because the person is incapacitated for 2 seconds but because when it lands they might have been mid-cast -- it's like a bonus Counterspell. If a healer is targeted and was about to complete a large heal, this is huge and can turn the tide and lead to their death. It's also really annoying for them and disorienting. Convince me not to invest here if you dare!

The problem with Critical Mass is that I think it's primarily a PvE talent. We won't be casting Fireball or Frostfire Bolt in PvP and thus this talent only benefits Pyroblast which is why I'm passing on it.

I removed the points in Blazing Speed because a 10% chance to proc is just not enough.

I fully invested in Pyromaniac because I'm optimistic I will be able to get DoTs hitting 3 or more targets in PvP. I usually concentrate on one target, but the synergy with the 2 points invested in Firestarter to instantly (and zero mana) put Flamestrike under a group of opponents makes me think I can get this to benefit me much more easily. So much so, that I might even consider casting Blast Wave or Dragon's Breath at NO TARGET just to proc the instant and free Flamestrike to get the 15% haste. Yes, I'm crazy like that.

I really like Molten Fury because it seems like your opponent gets so close to death then escapes -- I want my spells to finish you off in PvP right now so getting a 12% damage bonus when they are under 35% health seems like a no-brainer for PvP to me.

I removed the points in Fiery Payback because it just doesn't seem so beneficial as I first thought. Reducing damage by 20% is nice but I've pretty much given up survivability with a Fire build (with Arcane I have instant cast invisibility, Prismatic Cloak, improved mana shield, improved resistances and on and on). Making Pyroblast cast faster is nice, but likely not to change the outcome when you're looking death in the face (PoM pyro is called for at this point). And a small chance for your enemy to be disarmed... well, what if your enemy is a spell caster? Not going to make much of a difference.

Firestarter is an experiment but it offers synergy with many other Fire talents that I find it very interesting. Time will tell, but I'm keeping it there for now.

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All in all, a good learning experience and thank you for your comments. I think the build got much better. I look forward to anyone's comments to improve a Fire PvP build and hope Mr. Belt might join in with his wisdom now or in a future column.

Thanks for reading!

Arcane Brilliance: Cataclysm beta highlights for mages {WoW}

Jul 4th 2010 3:31AM After doing a comparison between the current talents and those found on the wowhead cataclysm talent calculator, I found quite a few differences in the fire tree. So much so, in fact, that I might actually consider going Fire for PvP. Yes, I know, that's heresy, but check out what you get when a deep fire build is coupled with the hotness provided by the Arcane tree.

Here's what my build looks like now:

http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#of0G0G0bhoZ0Effsbcoizrhst

Incineration was 2/4/6% and is now 3/6/9%. It's not in my build, but that's a nice improvement.

Burning Soul moved to tier 2 and no longer reduces threat.

World in Flames was 2/4/6% and is now 3/6/9%. Considering the number of spells this affects, it seems like a good investment.

Improved Scorch increases the critical strike chance of Scorch by 30%. Yes, it no longer affects Fireball and Frostfire Bolt by 3% but this spell is cheap, provides the 5% chance for spells to crit debuff and when you want a Hot Streak to proc, this seems like a great way to achieve that.

Burning Determination moved to tier 5 and no longer sucks. Instead of making you immune to silence effects for a time it regenerates mana to the tune of 3% of your maximum mana every 5 seconds. Now when I spec for PvP it's all about burst your opponent and who cares about mana so I didn't take this talent in the build, but this could be very powerful and really nice for PvE purposes.

Playing With Fire used to increase spell damage by 3% and the spell damage you take by 3%. It now reduces the cooldown of Blast Wave by 6 seconds when you are hit by melee. This seems like a PURE PvP talent (when you PvE you're not supposed to be hit by anything, especially not melee since you usually get 1-shot) and yet it's a prerequisite for Combustion which seems like you'd want to take this even for PvE. Anyhow, I look forward to having Blast Wave in PvP and knocking people into space at the flag spawn location in Eye of the Storm!

Critical Mass used to increase crit chance by 6% for all fire spells but now increases damage done by 1/2/3% based upon how many Fire DoTs you have on the target up to a maximum of 9%. Considering the Fire Mastery "Flashburn" and how it makes all fire spells to have a DoT component now, this seems easy to achieve but I think it's more of a PvE talent. Regardless I'd love to hear Mr. Belt pontificate on it.

Fire Power used to increase the damage of fire spells by 2/4/6/8/10% but now applies to the DoT affects of your fire spells by a whopping 5/10/15/20/25% and considering that all fire spells have a DoT due to mastery when you go deep fire, this combined with Ignite could make some large numbers appear in your scrolling battle text.

Combustion used to increase the chance to crit by 50% and increase this by 10% until you got 3 crits, but now it increases it by 100% for 1 spell, but when that spells hits (and crits and thus procs Ignite and Fire Power, and has a DoT effect due to Mastery) all the DoTs of all the spells currently ticking on the target are grouped into the "Combustion Effect" which then ticks for TEN SECONDS. One crispy Warlock coming up!

Pyromaniac used to increase the chance to crit by 3% and allowed 50% mana regen while casting. It now increases spell haste by 5/10/15% if 3 or more targets are taking damage from your Fire DoTs. Does this mean that if you cast Flamestrike on a group of targets and you get at least 3 to be affected by it, you now have 15% haste while the DoT of Flamestrike burns for 8 seconds? If so, check out the Firestarter talent and imagine running into a group and using Blast Wave, getting an instant cast and mana free Flamestrike to make them burn while they are dazed for 6 seconds and thus granting yourself an immediate 15% haste to start destroying everyone. Wow. Maybe I need to reconsider my build?

Hot Streak used to require 2 critical strikes IN A ROW, regardless of how much time elapses between those 2, to grant an instant cast pyroblast. It now requires 2 crits WITHIN 4 SECONDS. The new talent also indicates that your Fire spells will no longer trigger Arcane Missiles (which apparently is triggered from time to time by any Mage spells and might be zero or low mana cost?) so we miss out on that. Is that a reason to not take this? Can you cast Fireball then spam Scorch quickly (with its large crit chance) to get a Hot Streak whenever you want?

Burnout used to give 10/20/30/40/50% critical strike damage bonus to all spells but now increases the range of Fire Blast by 3/6/9/12/15 yards and causes the new Flame Orb to explode at the end to AoE those within 10 yards for a fairly significant amount. Since I assume Flame Orb will not go through walls, this might be a great spell for confined areas (WSG flag rooms?) when you can almost purposely shoot it into a wall to make it detonate. Increasing the range of Fire Blast greatly increases its usefulness in PvP and makes me want to consider reducing its cooldown and is why I put 3 points into Impact as stuns are very powerful in PvP (I've never spent points in Impact so I don't know if this is a silly thing to do or not).

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For Arcane the Improved Polymorph has already been mentioned and looks like a real PvP winner.

Torment the Weak currently gives 4/8/12% damage increase when targets are snared and this has been reduced to 2/4/6% which is a shadow of its former self. Blizzard said this talent was overpowered and that it was a must-have so I'm not surprised they changed it. Is it still worth going for or should those points be invested elsewhere?

Presence of Mind. Just wanted to mention that at level 85 you can have a deep Fire build and still get this talent which is wonderful for Pyroblast and Polymorph in PvP.

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Anyhow, I went overboard here and really just wanted to show that there are MANY differences in the Fire talents from what I've seen. I'm really excited about the direction things are going with the Mage and would like to hear others talk about talent builds even though we know all of this can change during the beta.

Thanks for reading!

WoW.com reacts to Cataclysm raid changes, page 2 {WoW}

Apr 29th 2010 2:10AM Thank you so much for your comment. I've been reading wow.com for a long, long time and this is the first time I have ever commented. This issue and the disparity of feelings on both sides has emboldened me to take the plunge.

There are so many things I want to say about this issue.

I agree 100% with you on your point #1. I think Blizzard has a major challenge on their hands to make boss encounters totally equivalent in both 10-man and 25-man modes of a raid. One step they continue to make is to homogenize buffs so that encounters can be built around the assumption that most if not all buffs will be available. While I think this homogenization is a good change, the fundamental difference between 10-man and 25-man cannot be solved by any sort of "scaling" when it comes to tuning a given encounter. Yes, the health of all mobs will need to be increased by a factor as will the damage they do and so on.

The true difference between 10-man and 25-man, in my opinion, is the impact of a player death. When you lose 1 player in a 10-man raid, you lose 10% of the raid's capabilities whereas in 25-man mode you lose 4%. While losing a tank in either configuration can cause a wipe, the same can not be said when a healer or DPS is lost. Another significant difference is the number of Druids in the group and their ability to resurrect in combat. My 25-man raids typically have 1 feral cat DPS, 1 balance DPS and 2-3 restoration druids. That is a lot of battle resurrections to help overcome player deaths and will be a disparity with 10-man raids as they are likely to have between 0-2 druids.

Assuming a given group of players has identical gear (since all raids will drop the exact same items) and assuming the raids are balanced to have equivalent difficulty, I would argue that 10-man raids will be more challenging. Proper balance in a 10-man raid is much more significant in order to get all the raid buffs, to have all the cleansing abilities to remove poison, curses, debuffs, etc. whereas there is likely going to be redundancy in a 25-man raid.

Yes, I know from experience that getting 25 people to work together as a cohesive whole is a challenge unto itself. Recruitment is a time consuming and thankless task, people are fickle, have real life issues that pop up and all that. I understand. I get that. It's difficult. However, if you want to raid seriously and undertake the personnel challenge that comes along with raiding in 25-man mode, then you recruit and cull from your roster, continuously, to get a solid bunch of folks with some redundancy for when real life intervenes. The same is true for 10-man raiding guilds, just to a slightly lesser extent. Both need proper balance, both need good players who don't stand in the fire, but the margin of error in 10-man raids is much smaller in my opinion.

To say that the added "personnel" problem of forming 25-man raids warrants better rewards in the game is debatable. I continue to think that the necessary skill at playing this game comes to bear in 10-man mode much more than 25-man mode and as such, loot and all in-game rewards obtained via raiding should be identical if not increased for 10-man mode. That's heresy I know, but I said it.

At the very least I think the ratio of loot to players in the raid should remain consistent between 10-man and 25-man. If 2 items drop in 10-man mode (a 5 to 1 ratio) then it makes sense to me that 5 items drop in 25-man mode in order to maintain that same 5 to 1 ratio. If this is not the case, then why would you choose the mode that has a worse ratio?

It all comes down to whether or not Blizzard can truly tune the two raid modes to be equivalent difficulty. If that is possible, then it doesn't make sense to me to reward larger groups for their personnel/coordination/people skills. Rewards should come from playing the game with skill, knowing your class, being a good raid leader that ensures proper class balance, etc. As things are now I agree that 25-man raids hinge on personnel skills and getting warm bodies to fill up the slots where much of the time those slots are filled with 25-30% of those players being sub-par caliber.

The perfect solution in my opinion would be that all mobs within a raid instance scale according to how many players are in the raid (minimum 10, maximum 25). If it's a raid night and you have 17 folks who want to raid, then go there with 17. If someone has to leave for 30 minutes or the whole night, then the mobs should adapt to 16 players. If 3 guild members then log on then it should scale back up to 19. This way once you have a group of 10 that is properly balanced, you can easily add more to the mix and benefit from dual spec when you lack a certain role (tank, heal, DPS). If Blizzard can make 10-man and 25-man raids have equivalent difficulty, then I don't see why they couldn't take their algorithms and make them handle not only plugging in "10" or "25" but any number in between and having that work properly. It then is no longer the case of doing 10-man or 25-man this week but doing whatever raid you want with whoever is available to play at that particular time and adapting as the night goes on or continues to other days when you go back. This way you could play with who you want, when you want and not have to choose the mode to run a given raid since there are no modes (other than heroic mode on a per-boss basis).

I can dream...