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Posts with tag Skill-Mastery

Skill Mastery: Ascendance takes shaman to new heights

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Ascendance is a new ability coming to level 87 shaman of all specs in Mists of Pandaria. For 15 seconds every 3 minutes, you'll transform yourself into an Ascended elemental form that looks very much like the trash mobs in Grim Batol or Bastion of Twilight. The actual Ascendant's appearance and the function of the form vary based on your current specialization.

For enhancement, you take on the form of an air Ascendant, making your melee auto-attacks and Stormstrike become ranged attacks that are able to be used at up to 30 yards away. They also deal pure nature damage, which means they're benefited by Enhanced Elements and ignore armor. From a PvP standpoint, melee attacks from a 30-yard range that ignore armor will be frustrating for escaping clothies and plate-wearers that you're trying to keep your distance from.

Elemental morphs into a fire Ascendant. In this form, your Chain Lightning morphs into Lava Beam. Lava Beam is similar to Chain Lightning but hits a total of five targets and doesn't reduce its damage when it jumps, which is potent AoE. For single targets, your fire Ascendancy makes your Lava Burst have no cooldown during its duration, which means back to back critical hits for 15 seconds.

The last Ascendant form is restoration's water form, which functions very similarly to the Essence of Dreams in Ultraxion. For 15 seconds, every heal you cast duplicates its healing done and splits that secondary healing amount among all nearby targets. If you cast a 100k Greater Healing Wave on your tank, she'll be healed for 100,000 and another 100,000 healing will be split among allies near her. It's very potent.

If you want more in depth views of Ascendance and the benefits and cons, Joe Perez and I recently wrote Totem Talks covering Ascendance for DPS and resto shaman.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Skill Mastery: Symbiosis -- why you should be nice to druids

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I don't know what class you play. I don't know if you're any good at it. If you're looking for gold, I can tell you I don't have any. But what I do have is a very particular skill -- a skill I have acquired at level 87 after a long career of pleading with Blizzard for relevance. This skill makes me a nightmare for people like you. If you let the contents of your action bar go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will take everything you hold dear.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Symbiosis -- or as we like to call it around these parts, the reason you need to be nice to druids in Mists of Pandaria.

Or as we also like to call it, the endless, numb suckhole where raid balance goes to die.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

War Banner is three abilities in one

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War Banner is one of the abilities I was most curious to play with on the beta -- so curious, in fact, that I stayed up to level to 87 once the latest patch fixed my constant crashing issue. The downside to playing six warriors on the beta is that none of them levels very fast. However, now that I have the ability, I have to report I find it very interesting.

The interface is very familiar if you've ever had a shaman, since it's similar to the totem interface. Mouse over the War Banner, and you can select one of three banners, the Skull, Demoralizing or Mocking Banner. The banners are currently designated as totems in game, but all three have a far more limited duration. On the plus side, all three can be Intervened to, so placing one at a distances means you can use it to get distance for a charge or otherwise move around the battlefield. The banners do not share a cooldown aside from the global cooldown; I dropped each banner one after the other to test them out.

At present, Skull Banner increases critical damage of any party or raid member within 30 yards by 20%, lasting 10 seconds with a 3-minute cooldown. It's the handsome yellow banner in the screenshot above. Mocking Banner taunts mobs within 15 yards of the banner to you, forcing them to attack you for 6 seconds. It lasts for 30 seconds, making it the best banner to drop if you intend to use it for Intervene. Finally, Demoralizing Banner reduces all damage by every enemy in range (30 yards) by 10% for 15 seconds. Since each banner has a 3-minute cooldown, you can choose to stagger them out or drop them all one after the other, depending on your need.

The banners themselves look pretty cool, although they seem to have a tendency to float over the ground rather than sink into it. Time will tell if they become beloved additions to the class, but right now I'm fairly enjoying them just for novelty and using them to creatively mess with mobs.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Warrior, Mists of Pandaria

Skill Mastery: Dragon Roar a crit among new level 60 warrior talents

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Dragon Roar is the new talent in the level 60 tier of Mists of Pandaria talents for warriors. As such, you won't be able to take it and either Bladestorm or Shockwave; you have to pick one of the three. That being said, it's not an easy decision. Dragon Roar has several significant benefits.

For starters, it's a guaranteed critical hit. You can have no critical strike rating at all, and you'll know that Dragon Roar is going to crit. This means that it's a dynamite AoE threat move if you want an ability you can save for emergencies instead of using on cooldown the way you will Shockwave.

In addition, Dragon Roar's damage is substantial, and it combines an AoE knockback with a full 5-second stun, making it very potent for PvP as well as for dealing with sudden adds or keeping adds under control longer. And while it has a 1-minute cooldown, making it longer than Shockwave, it's a full half-minute shorter than Bladestorm, meaning you can use it more often.

Also, it's bloody awesome to yell and see an expanding blast of damage flow out from you in all directions. It's hard to catch a good screenshot of that, though. Dragon Roar combines good damage with excellent short-term control, and I have a very hard time deciding between it and its rivals.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Warrior, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: Skill mastery, or lack thereof

Yeah, I know most of you reading are pretty elite dudes. You have your hotkeys mapped, your DPS rotations memorized, your addons loaded, and you never miss a cooldown and never let a buff drop for more than a second. But for most people, I can't help but think that we all have that one ability that just sort of gets forgotten all the time. There's just so many buttons to press and configure and it's not exactly core to basic gameplay, so you shuffle it off to a corner in your brain or the UI and forget about it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

Wrath of the Lich King: Warrior roundup

Wrath of the Lich King. It's here. You're ready. At least, you think you're ready. You recall the last time we all went off to a new place to kick some butt, some guy said something about not being prepared, and you don't want to be unprepared. So let's go over all the coverage we've done on the site that might be of interest to you.

Talents and Skills


Leveling Builds

  • Try out a Prot Grinding Build - 0/8/53 for soloing groups of mobs as well as tanking.
  • This Fury/Prot build brings Titan's Grip with a touch of Improved Thunder Clap and Incite for moderate tanking viability and damage.
  • Here's a heavy Arms build - substitute your weapon specialization of choice.

Gearing guides


Hopefully this will get you started in Northrend. Have fun killing things and taking their stuff!

Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Lichborne: Unholy Blight, or I spent 51 points for this?

Welcome to this week's edition of Lichborne, where Daniel Whitcomb is totally bumming out that he won't be getting a sweet axe on his Death Knight.

I know a few of you have been asking for some good solid builds for powerleveling your Death Knight through Outland and through to Northrend, and I'm hoping to deliver soon enough, but unfortunately, it's hard for me to recommend something when it could very well change another couple times before release.

We're getting down to the wire, though, so it's likely the trees will solidify soon, and I'm hoping to have some recommendations on good Death Knight builds in the next week or two. For now, I've decided to take a look at one of the 51-point Death Knight talents to give you a taste of how things change in Beta. Specifically, I'm talking about Unholy Blight.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Leveling, Talents, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Skill Mastery: Mark of Blood


While Blood is not quite as as powerful as it once was, it remains, at the least, a solid DPS tree and one quite a few Death Knights will probably choose to level with. The wide array of self healing abilities means that a Blood Death Knight has a very hard time dying, and nothing interrupts a good grinding session quite like a death.

In Skill Mastery today, we'll look at one of the Blood Death Knight's signature talent abilities, the 21-point talent Mark of Blood. Mark of Blood is placed on an enemy, and every time that enemy deals damage, their target is healed for 4% of their max health. It costs 1 Blood Rune. It lasts for 30 seconds, and has a cool down of 3 minutes.

It's a straightforward skill to use. Throw it on your target and keep fighting. Using it effectively, however, may take a little bit of thought. Here's some tips to figuring out the best way and time to make your mark:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Talents, Buffs, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: What about the new talent specs is confusing you?

New spells! New talents! New...confusion. We posted a number of new talent guides (don't see yours? It's coming soon!) as well as the Skill Mastery series to give you the information you need to respec your toon(s) come pach day. But having logged on last night, I still had to walk many guildies through their talent choices. They weren't sure what specs work and which don't anymore. There is a certain amount of information overload going on for many players right now.

Is there anything you are unsure of with your new builds? What talent information are you looking for that you haven't found yet? Is there a talent, skill or spell whose function is unclear? Leave your answer here and we'll try to clear it up for you

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Talents

Skill Mastery: Damage Shield

Do you like it when people hurt themselves trying to hurt you? Sure, we all do! And Damage Shield makes sure that's exactly what happens. A simple, beautiful, long needed change for warrior tanking, Damage Shield inflicts damage on anyone who hits you with a melee attack, or anyone who you block in melee. This is, to my minds, a nice compromise with an avoidance ability still having positive threat results: while it wouldn't make sense to damage someone if they miss you, or if you dodge them, it does make sense that you can block their attack and whack them a sharp smack on the snout for the trouble.

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Talents, 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: Bloodsurge


While a lot of debate goes back and forth about how much damage Fury is doing in Wrath, and how fun the tree is, there's one fury talent that is unabashedly awesome in my opinion: Bloodsurge. Bloodsurge is a pure delight to use, and is a perfect example of synergy in action: the Fury tree stacking a boost to critical hit with the new Rampage (which we will also be spotlighting, never fear) which causes your Bloodthirsts to crit, which gives you an instant cast Slam with a high chance to crit as well.

It's quite possibly my favorite Fury ability (yes, even more so than Titan's Grip, which I am currently back in love with - I know you were all pulling for us crazy kids to make it) just for the fun of hearing the swoosh-bang on a BT crit. That sound means hit the slam button for extra damage! It's like getting all cherries on the slot machine, but without having to sit with all those people feeding quarters into the boxes with that desperate, hardened stare. Those folks scare me. I get the sense they'd like an instant cast slam as well, so as to easily steal my quarters.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Talents, 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

Skill Mastery: Improved Fire Nova Totem



I'm having a lot of fun playing an Elemental Shaman in the Wrath beta. As Mike described in Skill Mastery: Thunderstorm, we have some fun new talents to play with and I hope we get to keep most of them. The new talent I'm highlighting today is Improved Fire Nova Totem.

To the right you can see the stats for the Fire Nova Totem at level 71 without taking the Improvement talent. However, 20 points into the Elemental talent tree, you can spec Improved Fire Nova Totem. If you take both talent points, you'll slash the time it takes for the totem to activate and you'll add some handy bonuses to the spell.

First, the timing. The unimproved Fire Nova Totem takes 3 seconds to fire, but for each talent point you put into Improved Fire Nova Totem, it procs one second faster. So, if you spec both points, it will only take one second for the Fire Nova to explode after you drop it. With only a 15 second cooldown on the spell, that means you can use this bad-boy several times during a PvE fight.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Skill Mastery: Mind Sear

Mind Sear, one of the new baseline abilities for Priests in Wrath of the Lich King, is an unusual beast. It's a Shadow-based AOE spell, which is fantastic, but it's a little trickier to use than we might like. It looks super cool, so that makes up for some of its issues. Let's ignore the issues for a moment though. Let's take a look at the tooltip, and then I'll explain how the spell works.

Mind Sear Rank 2 - 30 yard range
Costs 28% of base mana - Channeled
Causes an explosion of shadow magic around the enemy target, causing 212 to 228 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 5 sec to all enemies within 10 yards around the target.

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Filed under: Priest, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

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