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The Queue: Casual raiding and you


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.

Hooray weekend! Boo Sunday! Let's jump right into things with Galipan's question...

Is casual raiding a possibility? Ive heard from many people that it isn't, however, I'm trying to get a guild started that does give it a shot.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Queue

Debuff limit removed

Previously you could only have 40 debuffs up on a single mob. That might seem like a lot, but when you got in a raid with 25 other people all putting up their own set of debuffs and dots, etc... things tended to get a little full.

Daelo, the Lead Encounter Designer, announced today that the debuff limit has been removed*. This is a subtle yet important change for many raiding guilds.

He notes that the default UI won't normally be able to show all the debuffs, but that's just a bug in the UI. The debuffs are still there and working. We don't have any verifiable information yet as to if custom mods can display an infinite number of debuffs.

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Filed under: Patches, News items, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

Divine Providence buffed, still worthless

Many classes have interesting five-point talents immediately preceding their 51-point talents. Heck, two out of the three Priest ones are pretty good. Discipline has Borrowed Time, which brilliantly capitalizes on the new Power Word: Shield-centric healing method of that tree. Shadow has Twisted Faith which, alright, is not the most exciting, but at least it improves Shadow's main damage spells considerably, as well as letting them get a bit more out of spirit.

In Holy, we're stuck with something called Divine Providence. Basically, every heal that can hit more than one target is up by +2/4/6/8/10%. Not only is this boring as heck, but it's not even good. For it to meet the benchmark of 1% improvement per talent point, fully half of your healing would have to come from these heals. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm willing to bet that at least 70% of my healing will come from Greater Heal, Flash Heal, and Renew, gimmick fights aside. These are heals that this talent does absolutely nothing for.

The devs "are sympathetic to the notion that Divine Providence feels like a second Spritual Healing but with less effect" (which is exactly what it is), so they're buffing it. It will now, in addition to its previous effect, reduce the cooldown of Prayer of Mending by 6/12/18/24/30%. 30% off is 3 seconds, so PoM will be on a 7-second cooldown with 5/5 in Divine Providence. This is...nice, I guess, but I'm in agreement with the Dwarf Priest here: I'm still not taking it. 3 seconds off PoM's CD and a 10% boost to 30% of my healing is not worth 5 points at the deep end of my tree; this is the sort of stuff I expect from a tier 4 talent, not tier 10.

Filed under: Priest, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Will the classes be balanced in time?

Now we know. The clock is ticking. Blizzard has given themselves a deadline by which they have to get the expansion and all of its nifty features into our hands. This in itself isn't that hard, I'm sure. The hard part is getting the expansion to us in a state that we enjoy. Polished. Finished. Done.

Case in point here is the essential balancing element between the classes in terms of how they perform versus one another in PvE and PvP. Looking at the current state of things on the beta, many people have been looking at the amount of balancing work left to be done, then looking at the time Blizzard has left to do it, and thinking that our favorite little company that could isn't going to make it.

Then again, most of the people saying this are players of one particular class or another. Very few have the ability to stand back and see all the classes at once from a very knowledgable and objective point of view, how they interact with one another and what their various strengths and offsets are. Most players see the entire game from their little own little vantage point, and are apt to view their class's shortcomings as serious failures of game design rather than areas in which they'll need to get their friends of other classes to come help them and work as a team. Sometimes, after playing for a while, the general playerbase realizes that the huge nerfs everyone was yelling and screaming about just a little while ago aren't really that bad, and the game is still very enjoyable regardless.

What do you think? Are the classes going to be balanced by the time the expansion goes live? Or are the actually more balanced than they seem, even now? Is it going to be a huge disaster with just a few classes stomping all over the others, or is Blizzard going to pull some magic rabbits out of their hat just in the nick of time? Will we see tons of post-launch minor adjustments, or certain classes just languishing for months at a time, or will it all turn out to be okay pretty much from the beginning?

Filed under: Blizzard, PvP, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Classes, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King

Talk Like a Pirate Day has arrived in Azeroth

Here in the US, it's not yet Talk Like a Pirate Day (that happens on September 19th every year), but over in Oceania, it's already been 9/19 for a few hours, and players have discovered some scurvy-ridden sea dogs in Booty Bay celebrating the event. Apparently, there are a bevy of pirates (what do you call a group of pirates exactly?) hanging out above the Inn there, and their leader is Captain Demeza, who will give you a 12-hour buff that makes you look like a pirate. We're also told that her commoner cronies are hanging around the capital cities, so talking to any pirate should give you the buff.

Kisirani confirms that the holiday is new, and that while yes, it only lasts for one day (which means weekend warriors won't have a chance to see the proceedings), there are no lasting rewards to be found, just that 12-hour buff (which itself is just cosmetic anyway). So happy TLAP day, maties!*

*Yes, you landlubbers, I can do a better pirate than just "maties." But it's not September 19th here in the US yet. Stay tuned.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Wrath Beta patch notes: Warlock part I

So, the world (and WoW Insider) is alive with the sound of the Wrath of the Lich King beta, and it's high time that we take a look at our favorite commander of evil... the Warlock. We'll want to be sure we understand what's coming for us, so as not to let anyone think those other evil guys are horning in on our territory. And, yeah, there's definitely some things changing.

A lot of the changes are a little hard to noggin out -- are they meant to be buffs? Nerfs? Inexplicably different, but not really better or worse? Demonology is certainly getting a thorough shuffle, but it's hard to say whether it's good or bad. We'll chat more about it after the cut. Let's start with what the first beta patch notes obviously say, and consider what each item means. Then, in Part II, we'll start looking at each tree individually, with each of its new spells.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem tracking for Wrath beta

As promised Blizzard is giving Shamans some love in the next expansion. The Beta patch notes deliver on some of that. Most of what we're seeing at this time is changes to talents, but there's quite a bit of totem news in there. Some totems stand to get buffed, others nerfed and some removed from the game altogether.

As expected totems will be placed in the physical school, rather than magic. To date, one of the major downfalls of totems is that has been if the Shaman is locked out of the Nature school of spells, they are more or less out of luck until the effect wears off. Even when completely silenced it will still be possible for Shamans to drop their totems. This will be handy in both PvE and PvP, but will probably be more influential for PvP Shamans.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Classes, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW Insider Show served fresh tomorrow afternoon


Do you know what's brewing in World of Warcraft this week? Come dish with us on the WoW Insider Show live on the air tomorrow. We've got reservations at 3:30 Eastern on WoW Radio. As always we'll be taking on some of the spiciest topics from the past week. We're still simmering in the wake of WWI announcements, so it's certain that we'll have plenty to talk about.

With our intrepid co-lead out of town, the bloggers have cooked up quite a show. I've giggled and flirted my way to acting host for the day (or something like that). I'll be joined by piping-hot Daniel Whitcomb, the sizzling Robin Torres, and the ever-tasteful Turpster this week. What's on the menu? We'll start with a Broken Mage salad with a side of Conjured Manna Biscuits. The meat of the show will be a juicy discussion of what's happened in the past and what we expect for the future. For dessert, temp your taste buds with an array of Beta delicacies with a dash of Paladin Hope.

We'll also serve up some reader emails (theshow@wow.com). And we'll cater to the live IRC crowd (at irc.mmoirc.com in the #wowradio channel). Tune in tomorrow, the discussion should be delicious!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasting, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Blizzard, WoW Insider Show

Five tips to minimize raiding downtime

I'm a rather avid raider, putting in a solid 20 hours a week on my Warrior. One of the major things about the time spent raiding is that it can be very precious. There is only so much time that 24 other people, plus appropriate class substitutions, can be available each week. It's critical that the time spent raiding is used well.

Unfortunately, using raiding time well is about as much of a challenge as is downing Illidan. In preparation for this article, I've spent the past three weeks keeping track of the down time in raids. We raid Sunday through Thursday nights, from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. We experience a downtime of about 51 minutes for each raid, which is about 20% of the time. Down time is defined as the time that my character is standing still, not attacking, not moving, and not being MDed to.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not really sure.

Tip #1: Chain pulling

Personally, I do my best at the main tank to chain pull and push the trash through as fast as possible. This works out 99% of the time, however the 1% of the time it doesn't work out can grind the raid to a halt. Case and point: The trash to Supremus isn't too bad, and is a lot of packs where the MT, OT, and Pally tank each have some mobs to tank. There are also some ranged dragons that the Warlocks tank. These pulls can go very fast, and are very predictable. Pulling slowly we can do this in about 40 minutes, while chain pulling each group, we can push through in 15.

Tip #2: Fully self buffed, all the time

It doesn't take much to buff yourself. Every class has some buff they can apply to themselves, be it food buffs, spell buffs, or shouts. The key here is that you can find a minute or two to always buff at least yourself, if not others. Although, it might not always be possible to buff others as you're going along - and that's okay with most raid leaders for trash pulls.

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Filed under: Tips, Raiding

Scattered Shots: The line of sight between hunters and the Arenas

I'd like to take a break from the hunter leveling goodness we've had the last few weeks in Scattered Shots to take a look at where hunters stand as a class in Arena PvP, and where we might be going in the future. Blizzard developer Kalgan's measurement of how the different classes are faring in the Arena got me thinking quite a bit about the state of hunters -- currently functioning at the lowest place with 50% or less representation in the three Arena types at high rating brackets, followed by mages and shamans, in the 2vs2 Arena especially.

What in the world is causing such a huge discrepancy between hunters and other classes when it comes to high-rating arena representation? When I play in Arenas and Battlegrounds, I don't feel like my class is somehow deficient or underpowered. My team's Arena rating is average -- we're not the best, but not the worst either. When I get beaten, I usually feel like the other team actually played better (or outgeared us, at least), so it's rather hard to see what's so messed up about hunters.

The most obvious issue I can think might be the issue is that of Line of Sight. Hunters obviously have a rough time shooting at things behind sort of obstacle. In battlegrounds there are more wide open spaces, so it seems less of an issue there, but in Arenas it can get fairly annoying. Classes like warlocks and shadowpriests can just put a damage-over-time spell on you, and then hide behind a pillar, while druids can move freely around obstacles to give them plenty of time to heal themselves between your attacks. Warriors and other melee classes can hide for a bit, then get in so close that you can't use your best ranged abilities on them for a few seconds until you can somehow get away.

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Filed under: Hunter, PvP, Arena, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

A guide to instances

Recently we created guides to help WoW Rookies understand how instances work and their role in them. Author Palintheist over on Livejournal has done the same with a funny, informative guide to running instances for players new to World of Warcraft. Some highlights:

"Mob: No need to ask the Godfather for forgiveness - a mob is a word for monster. Also known as creep."

"Healer: Who's keeping the tank from floor-hugging? Your powerful, puissant, never-to-be-offended healer. Seriously. Several classes can play this role and they all find it pretty much a thankless task, as people are very quick to blame healers when people die [but you won't, because you know better!]."

"Pat: Don't look around for someone androgynous - someone is warning you that a patrolling mob is coming closer and will probably [if it hasn't already] attack you. "

"Buff: Keep your clothes on. Really. "

"Inc: If there's no time to type "pat" or "adds", sometimes you'll see "inc", for "incoming". [Why is inc faster than pat? No idea.]"

Go take a look, it's not just written with its tongue in its cheek, it's actually pretty informative for new players to the game. Save time the next newbie run and just send them the URL.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Instances

What you really want to know about the patch 2.4 notes

Yeah yeah, the full patch notes are a good read, but why read those when we can pull the good stuff out? Here's what we thought was big in patch 2.4:
  • Sunwell is inc! Also, the island where the Shattered Sun Offensive is fighting is called the Isle of Quel'Danas.
  • There's a Keeper of Time to take players in Shattrath to the Caverns of Time
  • Spell haste changes are in, as well as item casting changes (items that cast spells will do so at player's level now), and more intellect will now regenerate more mana per Spirit
  • Find Treasure doesn't deactivate on death anymore, but there's nothing about Find Herbs, Find Minerals, or any of the other tracking spells
  • Fear Ward usable in Shadowform (meh, say shadow priests)
  • A whole host of spells that weren't penalized at lower ranks are now penalized
  • Earth Shield nerfed-- mana cost lowered and charges dropped from 10 to 6, and Shamans get a default UI totem timer
  • Ritual of Summoning can bring players into instances now
  • Warrior Endless Rage is fixed, and now you can't change into a stance that you're currently in
  • Honor instantly calculated, since there are no diminishing returns
  • Warmasters and marshals in AV now share each other's health, and Horde starting point has been moved south
  • WSG changes: when both flags are held for 10 mins, flag carriers take more damage, increases over time. Also, flag carriers can be tracked after holding flag for 45 seconds.
  • Enchanting: Void Crystal to Large Prismatic, and Defense +15 to chest
  • Rocket Boots nerf is in there-- players carrying flag in WSG will drop it when boots are activated
  • 25man bosses drop more cash and an extra set token
  • No attunments for Hyjal and Black Temple any more (players who've completed Attunement will get "Hand of Ad'al" title)
  • Vashj and Kael can be fought without finishing all other bosses in the instance
  • Undead and Mechanical can bleed, elementals not always immune to poison and disease effects (though nature-based elementals will be immune to nature poisons and effects)
  • Level 70 superior quality PvP items from rep vendors
  • Weightstones and sharpening stones now work while shapeshifted
  • Lots of UI changes, including new options screen
Whew! Even as a summary, that's a lot of notes. Players aren't exactly excited about the patch on the forums, but odds are there's something pretty big that affects you in there.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses, Classes, Battlegrounds

Well Fed Buff: Dragonbreath Chili

Every Thursday, Well Fed Buff will be serving up the tastiest dishes to boost your HP and stats, just in time for your weekend gaming.

Hello hungry readers! Welcome to this week's installment of Well Fed Buff. When the weather gets cold nothing hits the spot like Dragonbreath Chili. This recipe can be acquired from vendors in Dustwallow Marsh or Desolace and requires 200 skill in Cooking to create. For ten minutes after eating, the consumer occasionally belches a cone of flame. The effects of the real version are much longer lasting, but just as deadly.

Patience is the key to the perfect pot of Dragonbreath Chili. Well Sriracha is actually the key, but patience comes in handy. Be prepared to wait at least three hours for this recipe to come to fruition, and keep in mind that it is even better the next day. These instructions makes enough chili to feed a horde of Horde (or Alliance). and are guaranteed to warm you from the outside in... and then some.

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Filed under: Cooking, How-tos, Features, Buffs, Well Fed Buff

All the World's a Stage: Class is in session

All the World's a Stage is skipping class (gasp!), and playing with roles every Sunday evening.

Our spells are shiny and bright, well worth using in more than just combat situations! Last time we talked a bit about this idea, as well as how druids, hunters, and mages could use their spells to entertain their friends. Today we turn to the remaining classes: priests, paladins, rogues, shamans, warlocks and warriors.

Each roleplayer would do well to sit down and examine his or her action bar to pick out those spells which can be used outside of combat, and think of whatever opportunities imaginable to make good use of them. Chances are, if you put your mind to it, you can come up with some really creative ideas.

Buffing, for instance: You've got these beautiful abilities that can benefit anyone around you, no matter what class or level they are. If you're going to bless them with such a neat thing, why not say something about it while you do so? You can say, "<Deity Name> guide you, sir!" or, "you look pretty dumb -- have some extra intellect!" or whatever expression sounds right for your character.

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Filed under: Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Humor, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

How would they fix shamans?



Resto4Now's Draezele and Mendax.org's WyldKard go back and forth on how to fix shamans. WyldKard focuses especially on totem mobility. It's a subject near and dear to my heart as someone with both a resto and enhancement shaman kicking around. How much fixing do we need, really?

I personally don't think we need as much love as Draezele suggests (I definitely think we need some, but her suggestions on revamping talents seem more than I'd think we needed, you may disagree of course), but I'm all sorts of in support of some sort of totem mobility or duration fix. Frankly, WyldKard's idea that we be able to pull up and reposition our totems appeals greatly to me. Failing that, I'd like a duration fix of some sort so I don't have to drop them every two minutes during a boss fight that can last up to ten. It's not just annoying, it can actually kill people I'm supposed to be healing if I'm locked out with global cooldowns trying to reapply my buffs to the party via totems. The whole reason to bring a shaman to raids is to get those buffs, it shouldn't be this fundamentally a hassle.

Take a look and see what you think.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Classes, Buffs

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