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Posts with tag off-spec

Off-spec loot options, are you using them?

Offspec loot options, are you using them
As we've mentioned before, one of the biggest changes to patch 5.3 is the ability to get off-spec loot in LFR. It has the potential to be a real game changer for players who occupy a critical non-DPS role. This means if you queue up for LFR as a tank, you'll be able to get DPS gear instead of tanking gear. And for tanks this is especially important, as they always seem to lag behind in DPS gear (while this might not help for a heroic tank having to go DPS, for everyone else it's a boon).

Last night Ghostcrawler tweeted the following:

Honestly, Ghostcrawler's tweet raises an eyebrow. Why did he do this? Without reading too much into what he's saying, I think it's obvious that to some extent it's because he feels not enough people are aware of it or are using it as they should be (otherwise why say something). I'm wondering if Blizzard has preliminary stats already about the number of people using off-spec loot and it's not where they want it.

One of the reasons for that is it's tucked away in the menu options, somewhere that is relatively hidden from the visual crawl (where you move your view around the window/UI and look for options). Even as a veteran WoW player I occasionally forget that something is in the player menu, and I know there's been a few times when I'm suddenly surprised something's there.

I hope that players are using this to their full advantage; run LFR as a tank and get DPS gear is a pretty sweet deal. What's your use of the function so far, or are you waiting until the weekend to start your LFR runs? For more of the really important things about 5.3 you might have missed, check out or post listing 'em.

Filed under: News items

Patch 5.3 PTR: Pick your loot for every occasion

Blizzard posted yesterday about patch 5.3's aforementioned introduction of off-spec rolls, and it's now in the PTR, so, of course, WoW Insider had to go check it out. Our first observation is that it's slightly oddly positioned, as you can see in the image above, it's in the right-click drop-down menu that comes off the character pane. Once you've located it, it's simply, as you can see, a matter of picking your spec and heading into your chosen content. As you can see above, I'm on a shaman, and so can choose to gear any of my three specs. The "Default" option, as the name would suggest, is the standard behavior of the system: the loot will be for the spec you have entered the instance in.

This system is active wherever the new loot priority system is, so, Raid Finder loot, including Bonus Rolls, and, as the Blizzard post says, Heroic Scenarios and Mists of Pandaria quests. At the moment on the PTR, it is not working for normal scenario loot, I went and did a few scenarios as Elemental with Enhancement loot selected, and got intellect mail every time, which is not a huge surprise given that the Blizzard post doesn't specify non-heroic scenarios. It is a little odd, though, given that many people will start off in normal scenarios, particularly DPS hoping to gear a tank or heal spec, as the queue times are so much shorter.

Of course, this system is not relevant for 5-man dungeons, where you can already roll need on off-spec gear with no detriment to your chances apart from the anger of four other people. Alas, thanks to a mixture of very long queue times and woefully bad luck, I was unable to test this system in the Raid Finder.

Hit the break for the full Blizzard post.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: When it is time to choose a new main spec?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to

A few years ago, I leveled my main, an enhancement shaman, all the way to The Burning Crusade level cap of 70 without giving either elemental or resto more than a second glance. Enhancement was fun -- I beat on things with large sticks and didn't have to worry about anyone else's respective relationships with death.

But after running my share of heroics and dailies, I wanted to try something new -- namely, raiding. Only one problem: I had never raided. At all. Heck, I wasn't even sure what made it different than just an oversized heroic. I just knew I wanted to try it. I jumped in with both feet and applied to a bunch of hardcore raiding guilds, offering to fill a healer role. Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking. Not only had I never raided before, but I had very little experience healing, as well. Miraculously, a really solid guild offered me a healing spot.

After watching a few strategy videos, I raid-healed Gruul. While we didn't take him down, getting my feet wet and not feeling overwhelmed really helped my confidence. Within no time, I was helping my 10-man clear Kara with no problems whatsoever. Fast forward a few months, and the guild disbanded. I ended up taking a break from WoW, and I finally came back a few months ago.

Again, I leveled through the new content and heroic grinded as enhancement. Now I'm fully decked in epics with a nice secondary healing set. Just like before, I'm considering switching to resto, because in the back of my mind, I think I'll have a better chance at seeing ICC to its gratifyingly triumphant end if I can fill a healer slot. I want to try something new and see some fresh content, and I think that switching to resto represents my best shot at progression.

What do you think? Even though dual specs have given us hybrids a lot of breathing room when it comes to filling a specific role, how do you know when it's time to switch your main spec? Is it when you want to see new content or when you're simply trying to avoid burnout?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Waiting for the patch

I had originally intended to talk today about changes to protection in patch 3.1, especially since we're coming closer and closer to it (I wouldn't be surprised if it dropped this week) but then I actually stopped and thought about it, and honestly there's really not all that much to talk about. Last Stand gets a reduced cooldown, which is good. Defensive Stance reduces the damage you do by 5% instead of 10%, which is also good. Glyph of Shield Wall will let you use Shield Wall every 3 minutes instead of every five (every 2 minutes with Improved Disciplines) which again, is nice. But none of this is going to change the way tanking works, so it seemed kind of odd to try and go in depth with so little to go in depth on. We could talk about how Deep Wounds will no longer gain bonuses from effects like the enrage from Improved Defensive Stance, but it still doesn`t change the fact that a lot of prot warriors are going to take Deep Wounds for the DoT when their Damage Shield, Cleave, Thunder Clap or even Shockwave crit. In the end, protection saw the absolute least changes of any warrior spec and for the most part, there`s almost no reason for prot warriors to alter their playstyle or gearing significantly.

So then, if we`re not going to talk about that (well, I guess we just did) then what are we going to talk about?

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

Totem Talk: A lazy Thursday

Shattrath's a ghost town. Emptiest I've seen it ever, with a few low level toons wandering through the empty streets begging for an instance run and the occasional demand for a portal to Dala-someplace or other. I didn't catch it.

Sorry, you'll have to forgive me, I'm still a trifle out of it over the launch of Wrath of the Lich King and my own late night excursion to procure copies, made possible by my good friend Ruarri (thank you very much, man) who is himself currently running around Outland on a level 65 shaman with a Spinal Reaper equipped that he got from an MC pug a couple of weeks ago. It's a strange time in WoW, as The Burning Crusade joins all that level 60 raid content on the ash heap of obsolescence.

I personally find myself on the horns of a dilemma with my shaman: while I very much enjoy restoration spec and healing instances, the current improvements to enhancement make it hands down my favorite spec for leveling. Until the dual-spec switching comes to pass, I'm probably going to focus my leveling on my orc shaman and take him enhancement in a clown suit of cast-off raiding epics no one wanted (I have bear heads on my shoulders and my best weapon is a two handed axe for a spec designed to dual wield, but I'll gear up fast enough) rather than elemental in his far superior caster set. Why am I doing this?

Because Windfury is what got me into this class, Windfury is how I made it to 70, and by all that whispers in the wind and the rock I'm betting on Windfury to take me the rest of the way.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

Forum post of the day: Heals and heels

Decent healing is often a key factor in determining victory and defeat in a battle ground. Resto and Holy specced characters have quite the job set out for them. Druids, Paladins, Priests, and Shamans regularly face a healing quandary. Is it better to spend time and man healing another player or continuing to do as much damage as possible. Zanhart of Medivh believes that any character than can heal in the battlegrounds, should heal. He finds it particularly insulting when a player heals him or herself while comrades die around them.

Some agreed with him that anyone who can heal should, but most people dissented. There were several themes to the responses:

  • Paying a subscription fee allows any player the right to play however they like.
  • DPSers in substandard gear are a waste of heals and mana.
  • Non-healing specs often have such poor healing abilities that the battleground is better off with them continuing to dps.
  • Some people just don't find healing to be fun.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Forums, Battlegrounds, Forum Post of the Day

No pure +damage gear in Wrath, claims Kalgan

In an out-of-the-blue quote from an otherwise unremarkable PC Gamer interview, Tom "Kalgan" Chilton, WoW's lead class designer, was asked what might be changing in Wrath of the Lich King. He responded that they would be doing away with +damage-only gear, and adding talents that would convert +healing to +damage and vice versa, which would allow magic DPSers and healers to use "the exact same gear."

Hold on, what? If I'm reading this correctly, it means they basically want damage caster gear and healer gear to be identical.

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Filed under: Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Chaos at the back of the party!

Totem Talk is written by Matthew Rossi for shamans, and the people who love them. You'd better be one of those people that love them or are them... is them? Wait, how did this paragraph get away from me so fast? Crap, don't die, don't die, don't....whew, the heal landed! I'd better burn an NS and drop a Healing Wave on it, just to be sure. Man, the paragraph's health just started bombing!

So you've decided to heal.

Maybe you're full resto, or maybe you're an enhancement or elemental shaman but you have good healing gear and you need to heal for some reason. Perhaps your raid needs just a little extra healing. Perhaps you really just want to get that Shadow Labs run out of the way before 2.4 comes in and the only slot open is for a healer. Maybe you just like being yelled at by people if you don't keep them at full health at all times. I'm not going to sit here and psychoanalyze you, oh my no. First off, have you seen my picture? If I were you (and I'm not, I'm me) I wouldn't take any mental health advice from that guy. He looks kind of insane. Secondly, it's not Totem Talk's aim to discourage you, but rather to facilitate you in any way we can. If you want to spec resto and heal, we want to help you. If you want to heal as an enhancement or elemental shaman, we're on board. If you want to rob several banks and then flee to Prince Edward Island, you're on your own. We're terribly lazy.

We've discussed the nuts and bolts of shaman healing before, so today we'll mostly touch on it but not go into detail to that extent.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Pinch-hitting

Totem Talk is the column for Shamans. Matthew Rossi was up all night trying to get a new hat. Only in Azeroth does getting a new hat involve wading in the blood and viscera of dragons from outside the time stream. Seriously, they really need to just put in a freaking boutique or something. Imagine how bad it would suck if you had to prepare for a new job interview by killing Aeonus every time. Heck, maybe you do, I don't know where you work.

Last week we talked about gearing up your off-spec sets. This week, we'll talk about those times when, either by accident or design, you end up having to fill an off-spec role. Usually, this means an elemental or enhancement shammy has to fall back and throw some heals, but not always: my resto shaman has ended up in groups with other healers and actually had to switch over to casting lightning bolts at things on a couple of occasions.

Of course, it helps if you happen to have gear for the role you're taking up: when I find myself forced to heal I usually equip my healing shield and weapon (since we're usually in combat anyway) and switch out to the best possible totems for my limited +heal and mana pool (either healing stream or mana spring depending on the situation, and wrath of air for the bonus to healing) but expect to run out of mana and burn a potion when you're doing this kind of emergency healing. Elemental shamans tend to last a little longer doing this because their gear usually has spell damage and healing on it, which will translate to more effective healing, even if your enhancement shamans have full mental quickness. But neither DPS spec is really suited to healing, especially not when in their DPS gear, so don't feel too bad if you try your best and the tank still goes down - if you're healing then things have already gone pear shaped.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Classes, Talents, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: The Three Trees

Totem Talk is the column for Shamans. Matthew Rossi spent most of yesterday running instances on his blueberry shaman, and a lot of healing and caster mail dropped, which is weird when you're enhancement and you're running with two priests, a mage and a warrior. I now have half of a very decent elemental set and a resto set that would serve to heal regular instances. Absolutely no enhancement gear dropped.

Being a shaman, like the other hybrids, means that you end up picking a role and dedicating your time to it. You spend your talent points in one of the trees, run instances, PvP, and raid for gear to supplement that role, and you find yourself with lesser viability in other roles. My enhancement shaman can still cast healing spells, yes, but they're nowhere near as effective as my resto shaman's heals. Meanwhile, my resto shaman can still put Windfury Weapon on his Hand of Eternity, and often does when healing in a BG. This should not be taken to mean that he can actually melee as well as an enhancement shaman, and the bonus spell damage on his healing gear does not make up for the gear and talents, much less experience, of an elemental shaman.

This is more or less how it should be, but I think it's an error to ignore the other specs too much. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started playing a shaman was to focus too tighly on the enhancement tree and not looking at the others: as a result, I was fairly ignorant of how shaman healing worked, an oversight I paid for later when I had to start healing when I went resto. Meanwhile, in my guild there was another shaman who refused to spec out of the resto tree even though he wasn't healing any groups, meaning that he leveled exceptionally slowly. (He was level 30 when I started my first shaman, he's still not 70 yet long after I reached 70 on my second.) You can level resto, certainly, but you should look into a few points in elemental (in my opinion) if you're going to do that, just to give your shocks and spells some more bite and lower mana cost.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Talents, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Breakfast Topic: Should all classes get to tank, heal, and dps?

Ret Paladins are currently in an uproar. They want their dps increased so they can be viable at raiding, yet they are given no way to shed aggro.

The idea behind the paladin class is tanking and healing. Most classes have two roles they can play very well given the proper spec and equipment. But Druids can play more, why shouldn't other classes?

This isn't a qq moar ret pally question or a n3rf druids question. The question I'm putting forth is: should all classes get to do all things? And should they be able to do them very, very well to get raid slots?

Filed under: Paladin, Breakfast Topics, Raiding, Classes, Talents

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: If you build it...

Every week Matthew Rossi brings to life The Care and Feeding of Warriors, a column meant to help our friends and even sometimes our enemies, the women and men who don't know which end of a prayerbook is which, couldn't backstab you if you turned around and wore a target on your spine, and who think Arcane Brilliance really should make them glow in the dark.

Last week, we talked about builds. This week, we'll look at a few first hand. I do think, in general, that many warriors are feeling the pinch between speccing for as much tanking viability as possible and having talents and abilities that allow them to grind and solo/quest in a timely fashion. I definitely think there's an entire column to be had in discussing this factor, but for now I'll just say that I am attempting in selecting these specs to err on the side of overall viability. I may have skipped a few obvious talents for ones that I thought helped provide more general ability, and I especially welcome commentary and suggestions.

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Filed under: Warrior, Tips, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

Hybrid Theory: Getting into raids as an off-spec

Each week, Jason Lotito contributes Hybrid Theory, a new column on hybrid classes in World of Warcraft.

Last week we discussed hybrids playing more than just the healing role and the flame wars that causes on the forums. This week I'd like to focus more on off-spec hybrids and how they can get into raids. Let's be clear now -- I'm focusing on off-spec hybrids and them getting into 25-man raids. And we aren't just talking about farmed content. I'm focusing on real progression raids. So let's get started!

Be realistic

Knowing if you can actually fill your needed role is important. But you have to be honest and realize that just not everyone is open to allowing off-specs into raids. And while you might get into a raid eventually, are you actually a regular player? Are you someone who is actually contributing to the raid as a whole?

The whole goal is for you to play an active part in your raids daily successes, not sitting on the sideline hoping for a pity invite. So really you have to ask yourself from the outset if your guild and raid leader are open to giving you an honest shot.

One way to go about doing this is to get support from key members of the guild. Class leaders and officers can do a lot in getting you in on raids. Of course, it also doesn't hurt if you are an officer or guild leader yourself.

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Filed under: Tips, Hybrid Theory

Hybrid Theory: Healers aren't hybrids?

Each week, Jason Lotito contributes Hybrid Theory, a new column on hybrid classes in World of Warcraft.

Healing has long been the widely accepted, much debated, raiding role of most hybrids. Most of the discussions regarding hybrid viability in end-game raiding are on helping hybrids in non-healing areas. This leads to a lot of discussion on the class boards that revolve around making other trees equally viable, or at least making them as desirable as the healing role. The outside audience generally views hybrids as healers first. Sure, the concept of a protection paladin, a feral druid, and a enhancement shaman enter the discussion on occasion, but at the end of the day, the popular opinion is if you have healing spells, you are healing.

This very attitude has long dictated many hybrids specs. For many hybrids, the desire to see end-game dominated their desire to play what is known as an off-spec build. These players bit the bullet and went the healing route. This isn't to suggest all players chose their healing spec because of outside pressure. Many healers really did want to heal and enjoy the art of healing.

Regardless, the attitude of many hybrids is to look down at those who spec for healing regardless of the reasons. Who's to blame them though? Often these players are playing an off-spec themselves. The retribution paladin or the "Boomkin" have been on the receiving end of these attacks for a long time, and all too often it's the healers making these very attacks.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Talents, Hybrid Theory

Breakfast Topic: Favorite off-spec

An off-spec is any talent distrubution that doesn't agree with a class's canonical raid role. Shadow Priest, feral or balance Druid, retribution or protection Paladin, elemental or enhancement Shaman, or fury or arms Warrior. You'll notice that those are all classes that can heal. DPS classes don't tend to have on- vs. off-specs per se, since by and large all of a DPS class's talent trees add to their DPS. Their raid role is to DPS; therefore, all specs help their raid role. But for a class that can heal, most of the time, their raid role is to heal.

Now don't get me wrong -- I'm a huge supporter of raiding shadow Priests, feral Druids, and all the rest. Your character is your own, and you should spec it however makes you happy. With that in mind, what's your favorite off-spec, either to play yourself or to have in your parties/raids?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Features, Raiding, Classes, Talents

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