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Blood Pact: Combat log kung fu for warlocks

Blood Pact Combat log kung fu for warlocks MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill is finishing out the World of Logs posts while she hunts for BC-era battle pets.

Have you ever tried to read the combat log? Maybe you're on the PTR testing a spell change or you want to know how often a new trinket procs, so you open the combat log chat window and start reading.

You get twenty-something lines down before you realize something horrifying -- that's only one second of combat. Your jaw slowly falls to the floor and you reach up to pull your hair out as you contemplate reading a combat log for an entire raid fight -- that can sometimes last more than six hundred seconds and includes far more actors than just you and the training dummy.

Luckily for us, when events are printed in a specified format without too much variety, computers can read and process --or parse -- these lines magnitudes faster than we humans can. World of Logs has graphs and charts to help us understand our performance, but it also includes what is basically Google for your combat log. Just like there are tips to speed up and pinpoint your browser searches, there are tricks you can use to query events better in the World of Logs expression editor.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Mists of Pandaria

Blood Pact: Catching up on Patch 5.3

Blood Pact Catchup on Patch 53 MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill is free to pet battle all day, e'ry day.

I tried to gauge when Patch 5.3 would hit so that I'd end the series on World of Logs just in time, but unfortunately I overestimated and the new patch has cut me off. With my original plan of posts, I'd be a week short, but now...uhhhh it might be a halftime break.

In case you've missed the World of Logs posts so far, here's a recap:
  • A brief overview of ranking and the combo of how to tell what warlock or pet you would or should be looking at,
  • Looking closer at some of the graphs on World of Logs, and
  • How to use the buffs and debuffs graph to gauge proper cooldown or proc usage, as well as a basic understanding of what stats (for trinket procs) do for each spec.
I intend to explore some warlock-specific examples using the expression editor to dive deep into the combat log, but I'm not sure I can fit it all into one post. I'll finish the series off with a deeper look at the damage done tables and how the spells spread for each spec in general raid encounter styles.

But this week? This week is a little shorter and lighter while we go over what Patch 5.3 means for warlocks.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Mists of Pandaria

Spiritual Guidance: The mechanics of shadow priest haste

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Every Wednesday, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen rains sheer purple destruction down on all who oppose him. Proceeds from this week's Spiritual Guidance will be donated to Li'l Sebastian's favorite charity, The Afghan Institute for Learning.

Haste. It's a really easy to understand concept, right? It makes spells get cast more quickly. The end.

Except that's not quite the end. Haste reduces the casting time of our spells, sure, but there's a limit to how much it can do so. Haste also make our DOTs tick more quickly, meaning there are certain levels of haste where our DOT spells gain an "extra tick."

These factors give different weights to each point of haste, creating weird, nebulous concepts such as haste soft caps and haste plateaus. With a little bit of math, we can pinpoint the exact value of haste where these caps and plateaus are said to exist. But how much weight should we give these numbers? And how should these numbers affect how we gear?

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 4.1 PTR for mages, (very) early edition

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we discuss the upcoming patch 4.1, which hit the PTR in the wee hours of Thursday here in the North Americas, sending WoW bloggers everywhere into an early morning, sleep-deprived fit of feverish typing, followed by a deep and possibly fatal sugar and caffeine coma. For those who were lost, we mourn you -- but not for long because we gots deadlines, yo.

So yeah. In case you've been stranded in some Mesopotamian nation or another without internet access for the past few days, we've got a new patch on the PTR. It's not the most earth-shattering patch we've seen, but for some reason I'm just inordinately excited about it. I woke up this morning with dreams of raptors, tiger/panthers, and armored bears fresh in my mind. I was quite sad when Zul'Gurub vanished from the game, but every time I flew over that part of Stranglethorn Vale and saw that the ancient troll city was still there, empty and tigerless, I felt a surge of hope that until the structures themselves vanished, the instance wasn't truly gone.

Just the idea that Blizzard is willing to take old raids and turn them into heroic 5-mans for me to churn through in my daily valor point farming efforts is a cause for celebration. Though old 5-mans get new life whenever you level a new alt through the old content, no single part of the game falls into misuse more completely than obsolete endgame content. To see some of it repurposed in such a relevant way, well ... I'm just giddy. Like a schoolgirl, only male and 30ish. Similar outfits, though. Cough.

So there's a lot there to look forward to, you may be saying, but what about mages? I come here to read about magecraft and also to hear about how warlocks drink their own urine. Where's the info on the parts of the patch that are specific to me? I hear you, reader who I just made up. Read on, and we'll talk all about the few but significant mage changes we can expect in patch 4.1.

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

Patch 3.3.3 PTR: Shaman changes

Patch 3.3.3 will bring some interesting changes to shamans.

  • Flame Shock: The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.
  • Talents:
    • Elemental Oath: This ability is now always on as a passive aura.
    • Unleashed Rage: This ability is now always on as a passive aura.
Turning the talents Elemental Oath and Unleashed Rage into passive auras is a bonus for leveling, soloing, and PvP. Instead of waiting a few GCDs or strikes for that first crit, the aura is up for you (and your team in PvP) immediately. In a raid environment these talents tend to be up continuously so the change for raiders is less significant.

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Filed under: Shaman, News items

Skill Mastery: Haunt


When Blizzard started work on the Warlock class for Wrath of the Lich King, I imagine one of their goals was to make the underrated Affliction tree viable for raiding. Unstable Affliction was a great spell for PvP, but anyone specced deep enough for it wouldn't have Soul Link and thus were practically free kills in the Arena format. In raids, it was a wasted spell because most mobs and bosses don't dispel. It also had a cast time that ate into the Warlock's spell cycle. It was a great spell on paper, but lost a lot of luster in practice.

Now along comes Haunt, the 51-point talent in the Affliction tree. It's a direct damage spell that applies a 12 second debuff that increases the damage of the Warlock's DoTs on the target by 20%. In addition, at the end of the debuff's duration or if it's dispelled, it heals the Warlock for 20% of the damage it dealt. It's a nice effect but the amount healed is rather negligible so I hope that aspect of the spell gets tweaked some more before it goes live.

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

Phat Loot Phriday: Blade of Eternal Darkness

Wait, there's an actual reason to go to Mauradon and do a Princess run?

Name: Blade of Eternal Darkness (Wowhead, Thottbot, Goblin Workshop)
Type: Epic One-hand Dagger
Damage/Speed: 33-70/1.50 (34.3 DPS)
Abilities:
  • It's only got one: landing a direct damage spell has a chance to deal 100 Shadow damage and restore 100 mana to you. So basically every time you hit with a DD spell (not a DoT), you have a chance to do damage and restore mana. Pretty awesome.
  • There's no apparent cooldown on the proc. As mentioned, it doesn't work on DoT tics, but it sometimes does work on AoE, and it does work with spells like Lightning Shield (though it doesn't work with totems). So depending on your situation, the dagger might be worth keeping around even into the higher levels. Until downranking is killed off, it might be a way to build back up some mana.
  • Oh, and the minimum level is 49, which makes this definitely a twink item -- while it's great for leveling, it's most likely twinks who are going to be asking for Princess runs to grab this one.
  • Trivia: For a long time, this was the first non-World epic item in the game. As of 2.3.0, Blizzard redid the loot for a lot of lower level instances, and now it's a ring in Scarlet Monastery. But this is the original Epic drop, baby!
How to Get It: Yes, you've got to go in and kill the Princess in Maraudon (which is probably my favorite, pre-BC instance, though Dire Maul is a good one, too). As you probably know, there are really three parts of Mara -- there are two paths that go through the instance (one full of orange crystals and one purple), and then they meet up in the middle for a third section that leads to the main boss of the instance, the extremely ugly Princess Theradras. If you've done the quest for both sides of the instance, you can get the scepter that will let you use the portal at the beginning of the instance to warp right to the last part. Doing just the last part is called a Princess Run, and that's what you'll need to do to get this item.

It drops from the lovely lady at a rate of about 2%, so it's definitely a rare drop to come by. But twinks have proved that it's farmable, so if you really, really want it, you can get a higher level to run you up to the Princess and drop her a few dozen times, and you'll probably see it. If not, keep farming -- a coin has to fall tails sometime, right?

Getting Rid of It: Sells to vendors for 4g 67s 96c (which isn't a lot at 70, but is a whole lot of money at level 49). Disenchants into a Small Brilliant Shard.

Filed under: Mage, Items, Blizzard, Instances, Phat Loot Phriday, Guides, NPCs

Scattered Shots: Sting operations

A Stinger missle and launcherScattered Shots is for Hunters. This week, Daniel Whitcomb will be covering for David Bowers, despite the fact that his Hunter isn't currently specced for Scatter Shot.

As Hunters, our primary role is and likely always will be the DPS. Even the new pet talent trees probably aren't going to change that too much. In the end, we sit back and fill the giant target full of arrows or bullets. That said, we also have quite a few tricks up our sleeves, a few stops we can pull out to get jobs done. Some of these come in the form of stings: a series of shots that put a debuff on the mob that can, when used correctly, turn the tide of a battle. Today, we'll look at each sting, what it does, and how best to utilize it in PvP and PvE.

There's a few universal truths to look at before we start: First, all stings are poison. This means that they can be cleansed, and that certain mobs will be immune to them. Second, there's only one sting allowed per a hunter, and most stings don't stack. That means that you can only apply one sting at a time as an individual hunter. Still, that can turn out to be helpful in some cases, as we'll discuss later. In addition, Viper and Scorpid Sting can only be cast by one Hunter at a time, so in multiple hunter situations, be sure to decide amongst yourselves who's casting what, should they be needful.

And now, on with the stings!

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Filed under: Hunter, Tips, How-tos, PvP, Instances, Guides, Talents, Arena, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Priest DPS flowchart


Any DPS guide that has flowcharts is a winner. So it is with this Priest DPS guide from DwarfPriest.com -- not only does it include some good insight on the spells both Shadow and Holy Priests have available to them for laying down the damage, but it also includes this great flowchart, which will tell you exactly how to min-max your DPS lickety-split.

The basic outline is keep VT up and pour on the shadow damage, but with all the cooldowns in Shadow Priests' spells, it becomes more of a "casting priority" thing, hence the flowchart. There are also some interesting notes about DoTs (which are integral to both facemelters and 'locks) -- the last tick of a DoT falls right on the end of it, so it's always better to wait for a DoT to time out before reapplying, otherwise you lose some of the damage you paid good mana for. Excellent and in-depth guide (and the Holy Priest DPS section inspired a few laughs, too).

Thanks, ErsatzPotato!

Filed under: Priest, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Odds and ends, Humor

Build Shop: Warlock 43/0/18


Welcome back to another edition of Build Shop, talent fans! I've gotten a couple of emails about Warlock builds, so this week I'm going to take a look at one of the most infamous builds around -- Affliction. When people complain about Warlock DoTs, they've often just had a run in with an Affliction spec Warlock. Boasting up to 5 DoTs (Corruption / Seed of Corruption, Immolate, Curse of Agony, Siphon Life, Unstable Affliction) and a bevy of channeled drain spells, one of these warlocks can make quick work of your health bar. In addition, Affliction warlocks also sport talents that make their DoTs harder to dispel or make you think twice about trying to dispel them.

Amongst warlocks, it's a popular grinding build, able to handle multiple mobs at a time with very little downtime. Though it lacks the higher health pool and greater survivability associated with Demonology warlocks, or the pure nuking power of a Destruction warlock, Affliction is a build which performs well in many areas of the game. Let's take a look at an Affliction / Destruction build that incorporates threat reduction, DoT protection, and maximizes the damage done by DoTs.

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Filed under: Warlock, Build Shop

Blood Pact: Changing resilience to weaken DoTs

Perhaps you've heard about the planned change to modify the resilience stat to effect DoTs? When I first read about it, I can't say I understood it. Resilience is an anti-crit stat, which reduces the chance that you'll take a critical strike and reduces the damage done by a critical strike if you take it. Specifically, each point of resilience (and at level 70, it takes 39.4 resilience rating to equal one point of resilience) reduces your chance to be crit by 1% and reduces crit damage by 2%.

But the main downside to using DoTs as a damage source is that they're incapable of critting. So what in the world do DoTs have to do with resilience? Eyonix explains it for us:

As it currently stands, each new tier of equipment adds to the amount of damage DoT abilities have, yet that damage is not mitigated through combat ratings found on typical equipment. This change will help ensure that DoT effects do not scale too well compared to other damage mechanics. The amount of damage reduced will be equal to the critical chance reduction effect that resilience grants.

If you're as confused as I was about why this was being done, not to mention how it was going to work, read on.

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Filed under: Warlock, Patches, PvP, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Pact: What is a Warlock?, part 1


Every week Elizabeth Harper contributes Blood Pact, where she tries to share the joy of the Warlock class with her fellow players, Warlock or not.

When I first started playing World of Warcraft, I rolled the ubiquitous Night Elf Hunter. The pet angle appealed to me, and in all the games I'd played previously, I preferred to stay away from close combat and pelt my victims with spells or arrows from a safe distance. However, with so many classes available to me, I couldn't stick with just one -- my second character was a Mage. I spent my first weeks in Azeroth cheerfully hopping between these two characters, but I must admit that neither of the characters made it past level 20. Why? I found out that a friend of mine played on another realm, so I rerolled to join them -- this time as a Warlock.

I didn't know what I was getting in to at the time, I only knew that Warlocks had pets like Hunters and cast spells like Mages. But I've got to tell you, despite the first-glance similarities between the classes, they're not at all alike -- which I learned while leveling mine to 60. (And before you ask -- I played this Warlock prior to the class changes that turned them into tiny gods. Yes, I was a Warlock back when Warlocks were the underdogs.) Perhaps you're not quite sure what to expect from Warlocks -- whether you play with them, are trying to kill them, or are thinking about rolling one yourself. If so, read on as I attempt to explain the essence of the Warlock class.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Spell haste rating revealed

This came up when we reported on the new "rating" system a long time ago (implemented so that Blizzard could better scale gear on the way up), but like Cyberdemon of Frostwolf-A, I missed it. Alongside the self-explanatory stuff like critical strike rating, and the new resilience rating, there's a new rating called "Spell Haste." Cyberdemon wondered what it was, and Tseric confirms that a higher spell haste rating speeds up the cast times of all your spells. Pretty cool.

The reason we likely haven't seen it much yet is because so far, spell haste stuff only drops at the highest levels, and, from what I can see, in the form of temporary buffs that allow you to get a few casts off quickly. An equipped high spell haste rating would fundamentally change the way the game was played in many situations-- if mages could kick out a quicker pyroblast whenever they wanted, that would have a big effect in a lot of PvP situations.

Tseric also clarifies that this only affects cast time, not DoT tick time, or duration of spells. And while the two trinkets linked above are the only places I could find it in the game so far, I wouldn't be surprised if this rating found its way into certain instance specific buffs, either for us (players could get a DoT put on them that would kill them in 30 seconds, but let them cast all their spells almost instantly within that time) or against us (mind-controlled players get their spells hasted for a short period against the raid). Either way, as more and more players move into the endgame, spell haste will be something to look out for.

Update: Commenters have found a few other spell haste items, including this 60 trinket, and an awesome BoE caster sword.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding

Debuff Limit to Change in Expansion

Back at the dawn of time, the debuff limit was 8. That means only 8 debuffs could be on a monster at any given time - which lead to severe restrictions when you had 40 players attacking the same thing in a raid environment. (You would either always have important debuffs being bumped off or you would have very strict raid rules which only allowed certain debuffs to be used by certain players.) And warlocks, whose DOT spells actually made up good portion of their damage done, were reduced to shadowbolting machines. The debuff limit was later doubled, and currently sits at 16, which allows for a lot more flexibility. However, recently the CMs dropped what I consider to be quite the bombshell: in the expansion, in addition to smaller raid size, the debuff limit will be increased again - to 40. Combined with 25-player raids, that's a heck of a lot of debuffs...!

Filed under: News items, Expansions

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