Tanks, Wrath and crushing blows MMORPGs aren't the new kids on the block anymore-and neither are their players. Readers gathered in a number of posts this week to toy with the topic of WoW's continuing evolution as a game. This philosophical bent was sparked an insightful analysis from Allison Robert on the state of end-game tanking.
Readers are gobbling up the fresh perspectives. Ghostcrawler clattered in from the surf to dub Allison's post "a pretty good article." Here on WI, Blizzard forum regular Karilyn added, "Karilyn approves the message in this post. I personally vote for either buffing DK physical mitigation and nerfing their magical mitigation though, as opposed to your suggestion. It personally seems easier to rebalance 1 tank to be in line with the other 3, as opposed to trying to bring 3 tanks to be in like with Death Knights."
Plenty more comments where these came from. Be sure to read the full analysis and let us know where you think tanking should be heading.
Each week Arcane BrillianceBlinks 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 Warlockgave 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.
Raid Rx has returned from retirement! Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. This week we're going to cover assignment-less healing: When to get away with it and when you can't!
Assignment-less healing. It often has unpredictable results. Sometimes your raid group will be lucky and emerge unscathed. I'm a control freak. I like to have a plan A, a plan B and even a plan for when things go wrong.
I've joined my share of pickup groups in the past few months. I usually play on my alt Shaman. I'm more of the Shatner type that hurls bolts of lightning. I've experienced mixed success. On bosses like Archavon, Anub'Rekhan and Sartharion with no drakes active, I notice not a whole lot of organized healing is done. Either that or it was organized behind the scenes via whispers.
To be fair, those types encounters can be done with little organization before hand. I know the first time I went into Naxx and Obsidian Sanctum wearing half blues, a smattering of crafted epics and the odd green or two. Having the healing set up in advance helped out a lot and reassured people. Sometimes it helps the raid morale some when they know the confidence emanating from healers who know who they're healing is there.
Patch 3.1 is starting to reveal loot from Ulduar bosses as well as items that can be purchased for the new Emblems of Conquest. Thanks to MMO-Champion, we can look at these items and each class will be looking at these items differently. For instance, the new 2h weapons available from 10 and 25 man Ulduar have stats that will be more or less popular for various classes. For warriors, these new weapons may herald the return of Armor Penetration, especially with incoming changes to Deep Wounds and Battle Stance as well as upcoming buffs to armor pen itself. "Armor Penetration Rating: All classes now receive 25% more benefit from Armor Penetration Rating."
With all of this in mind, we're looking at a situation where a warrior could pretty easily reduce armor by 10 to 15% depending on spec and stance. (An arms warrior in battle stance would gain 10% actual armor reduction from his tance and around 5% actual armor reduction from his weapon, while a fury warrior dual wielding these weapons could easily reduce armor by 10-11% just from the weapons.) Mix in the effect of a trinket like Grim Toll, and you're looking at nearly 50 to 55% armor reduction during a proc. That's pretty substantial, and it's not even counting the effect of other armor pen on gear.
We've been discussing the whole 'bring the player, not the class' idea, playfully dubbed by Eliah as BTPNTC, and in raids this boils down to a few core abilities or effects that Blizzard feels are mandatory. It was such a powerful statement that it got Eliah's mind doing all sorts of math about it. That said, the same doesn't quite apply to PvP. In Arenas, particularly, some compositions are simply more viable and synergistic than others. Take the incredible cohesion of Rogue-Mage-Priest, which continues to be a powerful comp even in Level 80 Arena play (as seen in the current ESL tournament).
When asked the question of whether BTPNTC applies to PvP, as well, Ghostcrawler had a succinct answer: "we're not sure." He explains that the immediate concern is to make all specs equally viable in PvP (read: Arenas), with particular focus on the class specs that have historically been underrepresented. I can tell you right off that that they probably overcompensated with Survival Hunters. With such limited numbers -- twos, threes, and fives -- it's quite unreasonable to think that just any combination of classes and specs will work the same way they do in PvE.
I said it before, and I'll say it again: the new Arena maps suck. The gimmick-laden maps of the Ring of Valor and Dalaran Sewers are great fun in a Takeshi's Castle sort of way but are a bad idea in serious Arena play. You would've thought Blizzard learned their lesson with the cyclone effect in the Nagrand Arenas. The new Arena maps introduce unnecessary RNG that some high ranked Arena players don't appreciate. In fact, both of the new maps are banned from the recent ESL Arena Tournament in Germany.
Blizzard applied some hotfixes over the past few days that should help make the maps less of a circus. The gates have been removed from the Ring of Valor, allowing players to engage as soon as the problematic elevators hit the arena floor. The moving pillars were adjusted to start the match in the elevated position, whereas they used to rise a few seconds after the match started. Most importantly, the damage from the flame wall was changed to break certain effects such as Fears and Roots after a certain amount of damage has been dealt. The last change is nice, but it's still problematic. The only thing that should damage another player in an Arena is another player.
In the Burning Crusade, an Enchanter's job in a raid or dungeon was to disenchant the boss drops that no one wanted into Large Prismatic Shards, and the entire group would roll for them.
This was considered the standard, and was the fairest way to divide up the loot. Instead of rolling on the bind on pick-up items that were not wanted, in order to sell them to a vendor for profit or to help pay for the repair bill, they were turned into something more useful. Prismatics sold for more at auction than a vendor would pay, and the shards could be saved for when the characters needed something enchanted.
All of this changed in Wrath of the Lich King. Suddenly, many Enchanters were acting like anyone who expected to roll for shards were selfish and clueless, and it has since become the norm for the Enchanter to keep all of the shards.
This week, I'll be discussing the reasons behind the change, and reassessing just how fair the change really is.
I guess the stories my mom told me about where warriors come from were true. Khàyman of <Per Aspera ad Astra> on Runetotem-EU submitted this lovely picture of his hatching, including the set of armor he was born in He's a little bit difficult to see, but he's hiding right in the middle of the egg. Hmm. Does anyone know where one can buy some of these eggs? It's been a long time since I've seen a prot warrior on my server, and I fear they're in danger of extinction if we don't find some way to accelerate their breeding.
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Zach covered my dereliction yesterday, so let's all peruse his analysis of the warrior changes currently on the PTR. I've tested things on the PTR when and where I could (haven't been on since the new patch, RL difficulties and in game commitments have kept me off) and I've discovered a bug with dual specs that allows a fury warrior to effectively ignore the TG nerf by simply having a second fury spec that doesn't have Titan's Grip in it at all. I'm assuming this will be fixed to unequip your weapons when you switch specs, because if it's not, I know a lot of fury warriors who will pay 1000g to avoid being nerfed. (And yes, I'm wearing leather gloves in that screenshot.)
I've been playing in arenas lately with a fully PvE oriented fury build and no resil gear whatsoever. My partner is a prot warrior. We actually win more than we lose, believe it or not, our only significant weak spot being if we hit a team that bursts me down before we can burst their DPS down. If I was to shift three talent points so I could get Heroic Fury and Furious Attacks, we'd probably win a lot more, so once dual specs go live I may go fury/fury instead of fury/prot like I'd originally planned. The fact is, I can count on one hand the amount of times I've not been able to find a tank for runs lately and have had to respec. Heck, I often just tank in my fury spec if it comes to that. So if the future starts to look better for warriors in PvP, I may just focus more on perfecting my fury PvP spec. On the other hand, there's always Arms to consider, especially if it gets more buffs in the future.
WoW Insider Show live today (and next Wednesday) - Sat, 07 Mar 2009 09:00:00 EST Should be a fun episode of the WoW Insider Show this weekend -- and hopefully, Turpster's new song will be ready to play on the air for you all. Though it's not for certain, unfortunately -- I know he was planning a Wham! reunion just for the song, but you know how tough it is to get all the contracts involved on something like that. Anyway, even if the song isn't ready yet, we'll still have a show, and we'll chat about all the most popular posts of the past week, including our new Time is Money column (and how to make the most money ingame), everything we've heard and seen from Ulduar in the past week, and what else is new on the 3.1 PTR. Be sure to tune in live if you can -- it starts up at 3:30pm Eastern over on our Ustream page, or in the embedded feed on the end of this post.
And we've got a special treat for those of you who can't make it to our usual Saturday broadcasts -- next Wednesday, March 11th, we're going to record the podcast at a special time of the week. We'll be starting up on Ustream around 9pm Eastern, which is probably a little late for all of you Europeans, but will hopefully let some people who've never heard the show before tune in (and hopefully we'll catch some WI bloggers who haven't been on the show before as well). This is only a one-time thing for now, so in the future, we'll be on Saturday as usual, but next week we're trying a new time just to see if we can mix things up a little bit.
If you can't make it on Wednesday, don't worry: the recorded show will still be here on the site and on the feeds as usual, and in two weeks we'll be back to the normal time. This is just a chance to let people who haven't been able to tune in on Saturday afternoons come and check us out. Hopefully we'll see you there, either later today or next Wednesday evening.
Breakfast Topic: Six word stories about World of Warcraft - Sat, 07 Mar 2009 08:00:00 EST The idea of a six word story has been around for a while -- Ernest Hemingway famously wrote one that went: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." But Pink Pigtail had the idea to bring the format into the World of Warcraft, and challenges her readers to write some six word stories about Azeroth and/or its inhabitants. Larisa's "Last mage quits. Working as intended." is probably my favorite of hers, but you WI readers are pretty creative, too. Here's a few of mine:
Patch 3.1 PTR build 9658 Shaman changes - Sat, 07 Mar 2009 07:30:00 EST Sorry for my absence from the website yesterday: I'd like to thank Zach for covering for me as he did. Since hopefully the issues that were preventing my posting have been worked out for the most part I'm here to take a look at the most recent changes to shamans for patch 3.1. So far they're all PvP oriented changes in the enhancement tree, based in part around the upcoming Frozen Power spell.
Frostbrand Weapon damage has been increased. (From 442 to 530 damage for Rank 9, from 386 to 463 for Rank 8, etc ...)
Frozen Power now Increases the damage done by your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Lash and Shock spells by 5/10% on targets afflicted by your Frostbrand Attack effect
Flurry now Increases your attack speed by 5/10/15/20/25% for your next 3 swings after dealing a critical strike. (Down from 10/15/20/25/30%)
These aren't terribly complicated changes. The change to Frostbrand Weapon is purely aimed at making it more desirable in PvP (since some would forgo the snare if they felt the DPS increase from WF on the main hand makes it more worth their while) - by having Frostbrand do more damage and Frozen Power make your Maelstrom procs and Lava Lash offhand strikes hit harder, the Frostbrand/Frozen Power combination becomes more likely to be used in PvP, which is pretty clearly what is intended.
Another week, another weekend, another WRUP! You may presume that we, being writers for a site called WoW Insider, must spend all of our hours immersed in World of Warcraft, playing, reading, researching, and writing. And I must admit, most of the time, we do. But sometimes, we cheat. Maybe we need a break or a change of pace, but for whatever reason we run off from our beloved WoW to play something else. (Everyone is doing it! Even Ghostcrawler tells us that we should play other games.) This weekend, the cruel siren's song of Diablo II seems to have caught us in its thrall. (And, no, despite the lovely logo above, we don't have access to Diablo III any more than the rest of you poor souls.) After all, none who have heard it can resist.... and for those who can resist, well, that's what waffles are for. Or perhaps pancakes. We can't quite decide.
For more of what the WoW Insider team is up to this weekend -- or to tell us what you're up to this weekend -- read on!
Tonight we're pleased to bring you a live stream of the Iron Council as presented by the Area 52 guild Symbolic Logic. You can just click "play" on the widget above to play the stream, or head over to their UStream page to watch it and participate in the chat.
There was a new build deployed on the PTR tonight, so stay tuned throughout the evening for the latest.
Update 8:40 p.m. EST: PTR servers are having problems tonight. No word from Blizzard, but hopefully they'll be up again soon.Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.
Patch 3.1 PTR build 9658 Warrior changes - Fri, 06 Mar 2009 20:00:00 EST Matthew's caught up in the tangle of this thing called RL, so don't be surprised to have a different voice going over the Warrior changes this build. Don't worry, though, it looks as though most of the changes this round are aimed squarely at PvP, so I'm covering for him in the meantime. I'd like to call this build the Brown Pants Edition for PvP Warriors. Are you ready? Get a pair of brown pants, because you'll need them.
Battle Stance - Increases the armor penetration of all your attacks by 10%. This is a straight up buff, and because Armor Penetration is a better PvP stat now than it is for PvE, this is clearly going to help. Considering armor reduction effects are now percentage-based, this buff is going to help quite a bit. Nothing exciting yet, right? Right. I hope you've got those brown pants on, because the next one is downright insane.
Shattering Throw *New Skill* - Throws your weapon at the enemy causing [ 50% of AP + 12 ] damage (based on attack power), reducing the armor on the target by 20% for 10 sec, and removing any invulnerabilities. 25 Rage, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast, 5 min cooldown I just had to put that in bold letters and underline it. Aren't you glad I told you to wear brown? Warriors are now one of only two classes that can break a Paladin's Divine Shield or a Mage's Ice Block. It's a baseline ability, which means that all Warriors will have access to it. This improves Warrior viability in a Paladin-dominated Arena environment substantially. It's on the same cooldown as the aforementioned invulnerabilities, as well. This means that every time Paladins or Mages put them up, a Warrior can demolish it. Just in case you missed it -- Shattering Throw also deals damage and reduces armor (and it's likely used when in the armor penetrating Battle Stance!). Not only do you remove their precious invulnerabilities, you spank and strip them, too. That's just naughty.
As far as druids are concerned, Build 9658 is a Balance build. Sure, there are a few token changes for the other two trees, but Boomkins get by far most of the attention here. I'll get the lesser builds out of the way first:
Faerie Fire and Faerie Fire (Feral) now reduces the armor of the target for 5 min. (Up from 40 sec) I am actually really pleased with this. Having my FFF fall off the mobs is simply irritating, and I don't always have space in my rotations to re-apply it.
Restoration: Tree of Life mana cost has been changed from 28% of base mana to 13% of base mana. Can't complain about that.
On to the main substance of the Druid changes: Balance.
Evidently, this is the build where they noticed that Death Knights could tank competently, and decided to do something about that. Where by "something" I refer to the six seven separate tanking nerfs that have ensued. Oh yeah, and they cut Fallen Crusader in half.
Rune of the Fallen Crusader - Affixes your rune weapon with a rune that has a chance to heal you for 3% and increase total Strength by 15% (down from 30%) for 15 sec. I may be too invested in my class - I actually feel physically ill about this. FC was overpowered, yes, but not that overpowered.
Howling Blast damage has been doubled (from 259-281 to 518-562 for max rank), cooldown changed from 5 seconds to 10 seconds. So I guess we're meant to obliterate when HB is on cooldown, and just use HB once per rune set?
Frost Presence now reduces spell damage taken by 10%. (Down from 15%) This is reasonable on its own. Unfortunately, it gets considerably worse.
Guile of Gorefiend now increases damage done by your Blood Strike, Frost Strike, Howling Blast and Obliterate abilities by 5/10/15%. (Old - Critical damage only, 15/30/45%) Simple math: if your crit change is greater than 33%, this is a nerf; otherwise, it's a buff. I'm guessing that means it's a buff for most players.
Lichborne doesn't increase the chance of your enemies to miss you anymore. Heyo! Goodbye, defensive cooldown.
Update: Ghostcrawler has just posted that Unbreakable Armor is getting the same cooldown doubling that all our other analogous defensive cooldowns got. Awesome.
The test realms haven't actually come back up yet so I'm unfortunately unable to get a list of recipes that have changed, but it sounds like leveling Cooking will suck much less. I think my it took my Priest longer to hit 450 Cooking than it took my Paladin to hit 450 Blacksmithing. After grinding through that, I never want to make another Feast again. Unfortunately, I'm sure I'll be making them by the dozen when Ulduar rolls around. Sigh.