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Posts with tag wotlk

Loot, rationality, and the Sunwell effect


Here at WoW Insider we don't always agree with each other. Whether it's debating the merits of various tanks on different encounters, the damage difference between pure and hybrid DPS classes, the ideal function of a particular healing class in raids, or the superiority of cake over pie, our back-channel discussion tends to be pretty interesting.

Eliah Hecht's article "25-man gear should not be better than 10-man gear" sparked a lot of great discussion with our readers and, I think, some illuminating poll results as well. The majority of responders believed that giving 10-man and 25-man raids the same loot table would result in a significant drop in popularity for 25-man raiding. Overall, I tend to agree with this, but I also think that Eliah touched on something that speaks to Blizzard's evolving sense of game design, much of which is evident in the transition between late Burning Crusade and Wrath.

I would like to call this the Sunwell effect, or "ingame rationality." To wit: don't incentivize players to behave in a manner contrary to your actual design interests. I believe this played a huge role in the differences between BC and Wrath raiding, and that it underlies why the 25-man loot table has to remain superior to its 10-man counterpart.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features, Raiding

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, the thrilling conclusion



Each week Arcane Brilliance brings you a column about Mages and all things Mage-related. That's right, Arcane Brilliance is nothing if not consistent. You won't find any server instability here. We're never down, we're always up, and you can always enter our instanced content. And the best part? Arcane Brilliance doesn't charge you 15 bucks a month. Although, donations are totally welcome.

So how's everything? Did you make it through patch day unscathed? Did you log in, like me, and find that your Mage's face, forearms, and feet were gone, and there was a hole through his chest (pro tip: upgrade your video card drivers more than once every three years)? Are you running out of mana at an outrageous clip? Are your crit numbers from Molten Armor up or down? Did your guild manage to make it into Ulduar yet, and if so, did you manage to snag any phat loot? Did you dual spec your Mage so he can now both DPS and DPS? I went Frostfire/Firefrost, myself. When triple-specs hit, I'm taking a Frarcano-fire spec. Mark my words.

All in all, I'd say 3.1 wasn't too bad. We have some new glyphs to play with, the Argent Tournament is good, clean fun, our mounts can swim, and we have a whole new batch of loot-pinatas to blow up. Our DPS seems to be down a bit, but we're still beating Warlocks, so I'm not going to mail any angry, expletive-laced letters to Blizzard just yet. I've written them--rest assured--but I'm not yet prepared to actually invest in stamps for them. Those things are like a buck apiece these days.

So now we turn to the third and final installment in our guide to professions for Mages. If you missed them, the first two parts can be found here and here. This week we'll investigate the merits of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Engineering. As an added bonus, we'll take a quick peek at the three secondary professions and enumerate the reasons for investing in them. Yes, even though you can conjure Strudel from the very air around you with but a word and a snap of your fingers, you still need to learn how to cook

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Filed under: Mage, Herbalism, Fishing, Mining, Skinning, Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Cooking, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Enchanting, First Aid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Jewelcrafting, Features, Raiding, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 2



Each week Arcane Brilliance, a column about Mages, levels up. It gains 3 intellect, 2 stamina, 2 spirit, and 1 talent point. In case you were wondering, Arcane Brilliance has been leveling up every week for the past four years. That's right: Arcane Brilliance is level 208. What has Arcane Brilliance been doing with all of those talent points, you ask? Arcane Brilliance is specced 63/75/60. And yes, Arcane Brilliance still gets pwned by Lichborne in the 201-210 pvp bracket.


Last week, we took our Mages job-hunting. We looked into Tailoring and Jewelcrafting, and explored the three gathering professions. This week, our job search takes us into slightly more magical territory, as we look at the potential benefits of Enchanting, Alchemy, and Inscription. All of these professions are similar, in that they begin with vowels.

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Filed under: Mage, Alchemy, Enchanting, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

Arcane Brilliance: Okay, now I like spirit



Each week Arcane Brilliance glances around to make sure there are no Death Knights in the area, then daintily tiptoes out from cover long enough to throw together a column about Mages. Usually, this ends badly for Arcane Brilliance. Out of nowhere, a big purple rope-looking thingy wraps itself around Arcane Brilliance's neck and drags it backward into a big stabby implement of some type. Arcane Brilliance tries to fight back, but finds it has been silenced three different ways and the Death Knight that just jumped it has enclosed them both beneath some kind of ugly anti-magic igloo. So, Arcane Brilliance no longer want to hear any complaints about misspelled words or grammatical errors. Arcane Brilliance is simply too busy getting ganked by Death Knights to proofread. I swear.

When I posted on Wednesday about the giant Mage Q&A session hosted by the developers, I was cautiously optimistic. The developers repeatedly assured Mages in that Q&A thread that they were keeping a close eye on our performance on the PTR, that a lot of our concerns would shake themselves out as we continued along through the testing process. Chief among these concerns of late has been the nerf to Molten Armor and its glyph, a change that tied the formerly static 5% crit buff those offered to spirit and turned out to be a nerf to the large majority of Mages and a slight buff to only the most well-geared among us. As nerfs went, it wasn't the most devastating one in recent memory, but was disproportionately reviled by Mages because it forced us to pay attention to a stat that was otherwise of little value to us. In the Q&A thread, we were told that the developers were aware of our concerns and would consider upping the spirit-to-crit conversion rate if they felt it necessary. I remained positive, but wasn't exactly holding my breath.

It appears I needn't have been skeptical. The latest PTR build already reflects a few very nice changes for those of us who like to wear robes, waggle sticks in the air, and hurl large flaming orbs of magical death at Warlocks. That's right, my fellow Mages: It appears the nerf-train has at least temporarily run itself off the rails. Follow me after the break, and we'll go over the specific changes.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features, Classes, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Vaneras answers a whole lot of Mage questions



In Saturday's Arcane Brilliance, I linked you to a Ghostcrawler post on the official forums in which he answered a good number of pressing Mage questions. Some of his answers were encouraging, some were vague, but all of them served to give a Mage community very concerned about its future a more enlightening look at Blizzard's development goals for our class than we've had in some time.

On the heels of that post comes this truly epic thread on the EU forums from Vaneras. He begins by reposting Ghostcrawler's earlier Q&A in its entirety. Five pages of Mage questions later, he presents us with no fewer than four more gigantic posts filled with more questions and developer answers (whether this is direct from Ghostcrawler or not isn't made clear).

This may be, quite frankly, more direct communication between the developers and Mages in one day than in the rest of the six months of Wrath's existence combined. I found a lot contained within that was encouraging. I found a few things that concerned me. Mostly, though, I'm just happy we're on speaking terms again. I was beginning to think that maybe all those things some of us said about "slaps in the face" and "re-rolling a Lock" and "quitting the game" had offended Blizzard, and they'd finally taken our number out of their phone and changed their Myspace status to "Stop calling me, Mages." My thoughts on this wealth of information after the jump.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Classes, Buffs

Arcane Brilliance: I still don't like spirit



Each week Arcane Brilliance delivers a column about Mages to you, and you, in turn, deliver Mages to the column. Thank you, Mages. Some of you deliver Warlocks to the column. Screw you, Warlocks.

Wow. Just a warning: I got done watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica like 5 minutes ago, and I cried like a little girl like 12 times throughout. I'll try to keep it together long enough to successfully complete this column, but holy crap. That was some pretty stirring stuff right there. Let it be known that I'm not too big a nerd to completely lose it during the final episode of BSG. Wait...maybe that actually makes me a bigger nerd? I don't know. I'd like to think there are bigger dorks than me out there, and they're probably twittering about plot holes and scientific inaccuracies and how Ron Moore is the antichrist or whatever as we speak. At least I'm not doing that. I'm bawling like a baby, but I'm not nerd-raging about a sci-fi show on the interwebs, right? Now if you'll excuse me, I have to write a column about the latest nerfs to the Mage class in World of Warcraft.

Seriously, patch 3.1 can't come soon enough, as far as I'm concerned. You know why? Because when it arrives, it'll mean Blizzard is finally done nerfing us.

Now, granted, Mages on the live servers are definitely on the good side of the class-balance pendulum right now, so it makes a certain amount of sense, given Blizzard's never-ending quest to make everything in the game identical, that we were going to see a few nerfs. Knowing that doesn't make watching it happen any more fun. It's sort of like having a gangrenous limb amputated, only having to be fully awake throughout the operation, and having it take place bit by bit over the course of several months. For frak's sake, just knock us out and don't wake us 'til it's over. You can find the details on this week's chopping--along with my feelings on it--after the break. Bring some novocain, won't you?

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Q to the power of Q



Each week Arcane Brilliance runs out of mana halfway through a column about Mages. Seriously, Arcane Brilliance is terrible at managing its mana. And then every time it Evocates, Arcane Brilliance manages to get interrupted before it gets any mana back. It really sucks. Yep, Arcane Brilliance spends a lot of time wanding. To be honest, Arcane Brilliance is probably about one more wipe away from getting kicked out of its guild. LTP, Arcane Brilliance...LTP.

I tried my best to be optimistic last week, to look at the changes to Fiery Payback and Impact (especially Impact) as semi-good things. The Fiery Payback-disarm effect will be marginally positive, I told myself, and at the very least, Impact being triggered by Fire Blast will make the spell less random and more controllable, right? We Mages get such a reputation for being whiners that I try to steer clear of pessimism as much as a can just to avoid being lumped in with that lame generalization. I try, and most of the time I fail, but I award myself an "A" for effort.

The comments section set me straight last week. Fire Mages are not happy with Blizzard's attempt at improving their survivability in PvP. You guys were brutally frank in your comments, and I have to admit that I see your point. Nobody likes dying, but as a Fire Mage you sort of expect it, similar to the way nobody likes getting tackled, but as a football player you know it comes with the territory. All Fire Mages want is to be able to dish out an acceptable amount of pain before they explode. In fact, a lot of you proposed the idea of allowing Fire Mages to literally explode upon death, making killing one a dangerous proposition. Several of you commented that this was a Fire Mage's idea of survivability, to die, but leave a smoking crater behind. Seriously, this is an idea I can get behind.

Here's the thing, though: If you weren't happy with the changes last week, you really aren't going to like the latest PTR build. Follow me through the break and we'll talk ourselves through the changes. I'll try to keep the tears to a minimum.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Chinese release of Wrath of the Lich King still delayed

Around early February, it was reported that Wrath of the Lich King's Chinese release had been delayed. It was suspected that the launch was postponed until after the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) which occurred in the first week of March, but things are starting to look a little bleak.

There are rumors abounds that Blizzard and The9 are having something of a falling out, but it's being reported that things are going much more poorly on The9's end. Specifically, they've hit some trouble with the censorship board. You might recall that China has some very, very strict rules when it comes to things like video games and movies. Many of the models in the base World of Warcraft game needed to be altered to conform to these rules, such as the exposed bones on the Forsaken and the bones left behind when a player dies.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Changes to the Fire tree



Each week Arcane Brilliance Blinks behind you and hurls a Fireball full of Mage content up your tailpipe. It stings, yes, but the burning sensation is only temporary. Just wait until you see what the Warlock gave you. It's nasty, and trust me when I say that it won't be going away anytime soon.

I've been neglecting Fire Mages, I'll admit it. Before you wind up a Pyroblast and point it my way, hear me out. There's a reason. Since we Mages stepped our flimsy, cloth-clad feet onto the shores of Northrend those several months ago, we've gone through a decent amount of changes. Unfortunately, very few of those changes were to the Fire tree. The news-making specs have been everyone's favorite love-it/love-to-hate-it spec, Arcane, Frostfire, and to a lesser extent, Frost. With so much to report on regarding the other specs, Fire has sort of been put on the back burner (yes, you can expect more bad puns as we proceed--you have been warned). It still blows stuff up like it always has, but does so in as quiet and workmanlike a fashion as a spec that conjures enormous explosions can. Fire Mages are still out there, Fireballing away in relative obscurity while the next Mage over throws his flashy Arcane Barrages or Frostfire Bolts, but there aren't as many as there once was.

I became a little excited when we were told that Patch 3.1 would bring "more survivability for Fire spec in PvP." Though it wasn't anything big or flashy, finally I might have something to report on regarding everybody's favorite fire-starters. Then the PTR patch notes came and went, bearing with them no real Fire-related change to speak of. I keep forgetting that the PTR notes change by the day.

PTR build 9658 has finally put Fire Mages back in the news. The changes aren't anything huge on the surface, but they speak to a new direction in Blizzard's design philosophy for the spec, and with any luck will lead to more changes. After the break, you'll find the complete changes, along with a look at the current and future state of Fire Mages as a spec. You wear your flame-retardant gear, and so will I.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Shifting Perspectives: Tanks, "Wrath," and crushing blows


Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we examine the roots of the uproar over the proposed Heart of the Wild nerf, and also ask ourselves if it wouldn't just be easier to reroll a Death Knight and have done with it.

"Why would you title the column this way?" you ask, as you reach for your "Please fire _______ from WoW Insider" form letter. "Crushing blows are out of the game, dipwad."

Well, yes. The crushing blow is technically out of the game, but another and worse mechanic has taken its place.

In this article I'm going to try to explain the source of "shield tank" frustration over health pools -- and why they are correct to see it as a problem -- and the Druid tank's unhappiness over the nerfing of Heart of the Wild -- and why Druids are also correct to see it as a problem.

Why the crushing blow was important

One of the biggest differences between pre-Wrath and Wrath tanking is the absence of the crushing blow. If you're unfamiliar with the term, then as a very simple explanation: any given raid boss had a 15% chance per melee hit to perform a 150% damage attack, which was also known as the crushing blow. It was typically a big damage spike and could lead to a wipe on progression content, with healers struggling to compensate in the small window of time before the boss' next attack landed. Burst damage is very unwelcome as it's often the greatest contributing factor to tank death. This is why reaching crit immunity is still so important to all tanks, and why the ability to avoid or absorb crushing blows was a fundamental part of pre-Wrath tanking mechanics.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Features, Raiding, Bosses, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Wintergrasp retuning incoming

Back before Wintergrasp was first introduced, Blizzard told us that they'd finally figured out world PvP. They said to us that they'd figured out how to have hundreds of players fighting in an open zone at a time, without any major slowdown or lag issues. At the time, we were skeptical (and this was even before the instance lag after the WotLK release), and we continue to be: anyone who ducks inside Wintergrasp while things are nuts can tell you that they're far from perfect.

But maybe not for the reason you think. Beatus on Kul Tiras posted a pretty well-written complaint about the layout of Wintergrasp on the EU forums, and new blue poster Ancilorn speaks up with a little insight into just how Blizzard was planning to keep down the lag in WG. They were planning to spread players around to the towers in the southern side of the zone, thus allowing hundreds of players to play, but in a few separate groups conquering different objectives.

The only problem, says Ancilorn, is that there's not enough incentive to split players up -- people who go south miss out on honor and daily quests, and there's not enough reward to make them go that far. He says a retuning of the map will eventually be done to try and spread out the battle a little more.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, PvP, Wrath of the Lich King

Arcane Brilliance: Mage changes (or lack of) on the PTR



Each week, Arcane Brilliance reports on Mages and the ever-changing game they inhabit. This week, Arcane Brilliance has discovered, before anybody else, a couple of notes from the next build of the PTR:


Mage:
New spell: Anti-Anti-Magic Shell - Conjures a shell that makes a Mage's spells actually go through that cheap Death Knight Ability, Anti-Magic Shell, making it possible for a Mage to actually kill a Death Knight.

Death Knight:
New Spell: Anti-Anti-Anti-Magic Shell - Conjures a shell that counteracts the new Mage spell, Anti-Anti-Magic Shell.

Removed:

Warlocks

Disclaimer: Arcane Brilliance is totally lying. These patch notes could not possibly be more fake. But Arcane Brilliance can hope, right?

When I posted the Mage changes on Tuesday night, I was hoping that as the week went on we'd get some new information, perhaps some clarification or updated patch notes. Though other classes have gotten those things, Mages have not. I was also hoping that perhaps I'd be able to get my Mage on the PTR to test some of this stuff out firsthand, but that hasn't happened either. I keep checking my empty PTR character list (on the rare occasion that I can actually log in and the servers are up) with my fingers crossed and my brow furrowed, willing my bald, undead buddy to show up there, to no avail. Maybe next week.

In the meantime, I'm stuck doing what I imagine 99.9% of the rest of are doing: waiting and wondering and scouring the interwebs for info. This patch is far from finished, with the testing process barely underway. Some of the changes announced so far won't make it live in their current form, if at all, and there are undoubtedly other changes to come in future PTR builds. Today I'd like to discuss what we were told to expect, what we actually got, and what we hope for, with as little wild, unsubstantiated guesswork as possible (Actual amount of wild, unsubstantiated guesswork may vary). Follow me through the jump, won't you?

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Statistically speaking



Arcane Brilliance is a Mage column on a weekly spawn timer. It shows up all of a sudden on your computer screen or your iphone and starts wandering about, waiting for somebody to come shake it down for loot. What does this rare and wondrous column drop, you may ask? It drops a magical potion that, when imbibed, grants the magical ability to waste about 15 minutes of your employer's time reading a column about Mages. Hurry up and tag it, before the guy in the next cubicle does!


I'm listening to a playlist full of old NES chiptunes as I write this, Zanac, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, Crystalis, Shatterhand, Tecmo Super Bowl, Legacy of the Wizard--just some awesome old stuff, some of which comes from composers who went on to become even more awesome. I love the game music from that era; I find it absolutely amazing what those guys could make that tiny sound chip do. And yes, I am a massive and unrepentant dork. Why do I bring this up? I have the playlist on shuffle, and the overworld theme from Dragon Warrior just played, and it got me thinking about this week's subject: stats.

Dragon Warrior was my first role-playing game. It was my first exposure to such concepts as experience points, and leveling up, and hit points. Stats in games of that era were pretty simple. You had strength, which affected how hard you hit things, and agility, which...made you more agile? Who knew? That was about it. Hit points measured how many whacks you could take before you died, and magic points ran out as you used spells. There wasn't a whole lot to it.

When I first started playing WoW, knowing which statistics were important to my Mage and which weren't was comparatively simple too. As you leveled, you looked for intellect and spirit. At max level, you learned the value of a few other stats, like spell crit, spell damage, and spell hit rating. Generally, if it said "spell" in front of it, your Mage wanted it. Now, though, we have so many different stats--one covering every aspect of every spell we cast, and so many different ways to customize the amounts of each that your Mage's gear has--that it can be quite daunting trying to decide which ones to prioritize. Follow me through the break where we'll discuss the various caster stats and the relative value of each to our class.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Guides, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Dual-speccing your Mage



Each week, Arcane Brilliance brings you a wealth of Mage news and information, an unhealthy amount of incredibly biased commentary, a sprinkling of unnecessary and entirely random pop culture references, at least one unapologetically hateful and frequently childish comment about Warlocks, several examples of poor spelling and questionable grammar, and the occasional wildly inappropriate fart joke. I apologize in advance.

Patch 3.1 is allegedly bringing with it one of the most significant changes the game has yet seen: the dual spec system. Players have been clamoring for the option to switch between specs freely as long as players have been clamoring for just about anything, so this new system promises to make a lot of people very happy. I'm a little excited about it myself. I may or may not have taught my two-year how to say "dual spec." I think she believes it to mean "when I say this, Daddy starts smiling and talking a lot." I also may or may not be secretly training her to be a tiny Warlock-killing machine. "OK, kiddo, this button here is called 'Counterspell.' Go ahead, push it. Now blow up the Gnome with the ugly doggie over there. Good job!" I believe Warlock-hate is something that can only be taught at home. I'm not trusting the school system to instill those values in my kids, that's for sure. And, yes, I'm a terrible, terrible parent.

Ahem. Back to dual specs.

Though the system will undoubtedly be more exciting to hybrid classes, we Mages will still benefit greatly from ready access to two different talent specs in our own special pure-class way. No, we can't switch roles like a Warrior or Druid will be able to--no matter how we spec, we're always going to be DPS--but having a different brand of DPS at our fingertips to switch to when the situation calls for it will be more significant than you may think.

So what, exactly, will dual specs mean for Mages? Click on the magical orange text below and we'll discuss the possibilities.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Features, Raiding, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

The9 may release WotLK to China on February 19th

Rumor has it that The9, the company that runs World of Warcraft in China, will be releasing the game's latest expansion there a week and a day from today, on February 19th, after holding a press conference a day earlier. We just recently got sent a question here at WoW Insider asking why the US and EU kills were often called "world firsts," and this is why: China usually gets expansion content much later than the other regions of the game do.

But recently, Blizzard mentioned that they were aiming to release the content closer together, and this appears to be a result of that: it's still not simultaneous, obviously, but a few months is better than a year or so. Apparently 17173.com has heard that China will be getting Wrath of the Lich King next week, so if that does happen, we can look for the first Chinese level 80 and the first Chinese clears of Naxx and the other endgame raids soon after that.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Wrath of the Lich King

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