Bejeweled 1.02 is out - Thu, 16 Oct 2008 21:30:00 EST The most important addon of all has been updated to version 1.02 for compatibility with patch 3.0.2: PopCap's Bejeweled has a new version ready for download on their site that will work just great with the new patch. And there's a new feature, too: PopCap says so many people asked for a little minimap relief that they've added an option to either turn the minimap icon off completely, or move it around the minimap wherever you like.
Unfortunately, the endgame got nerfed so much that odds are you won't die in raids until Wrath, so that part of the addon probably won't get used much. But my flight paths have felt empty without the gems to match since Tuesday -- the new version of Bejeweled is the most welcome addition to my addon folder.
It's a sweet time to be a Tankadin. I know that AoE tanking is no longer the exclusive domain of Paladins, but that's cool. With the changes to the way tanking works now, tanks generally generate threat by dishing out more damage... and boy does a Protection Paladin deal damage. Because Protection is the tanking tree, a PvE-oriented endeavor, I'm going to put away my PvP-fanatic hat aside and focus on a build that is optimal for tanking. Don't worry, even in this spec Paladins are still formidable. That's just the way it works in the new world.
We see a big change right away on the first tier with Blessing of Kings made accessible to all. It's not quite the baseline spell we've been asking for, but it's close. Some players can choose to pick up a scaled down version for less than five points, but since this is standard raid fare, we're throwing in 5 points here including Improved Blessing of Kings. We're also going to pick up Divine Strength on this tier, which was moved from the Holy tree. It's important to note that pretty much everything we use scales off attack power now, too, so more Strength means more pain. And more pain means more threat. Strength also contributes to block value, so we'll be looking to get Strength in our gear, too.
Tipster Nimm writes in to let us know that several EU battlegroups have been having serious issues after mergers that occurred post-patch 3.02. The mergers have seen a number of battlegroups acquiring servers with other language-dominant populations, which has resulted in a number of French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian-dominant servers (among others) all in the same battlegroups. While this is probably necessary to a certain degree to guarantee equal Alliance/Horde populations for quick queue times, it's become something of a communication nightmare in battleground matches, particularly those with lots of players using Cyrillic characters. As the player Thoughtless from the Karazhan realm asks, "Can you imagine how hard it is to organise any sort of teamplay in AB with player ???????? from <????????> guild cha(t)ting "?????? ??? ??????? ??????? ?????" in BG chat?" Nimm also notes that differentiating between ??????? enemy players is a nightmare.
We knew that Blizzard was closing four EU realms (Stonemaul, Molten Core, Shadowmoon, and Warsong) and transferring remaining players to other realms in response to Russian player migration to Russian realms opened late summer 2008, and the problem's partially the result of that (which has already resulted in the inevitable "In Soviet Russia, battlegroups merge you" joke). A few amused people are rising to the occasion by translating such phrases as inc 5 schmiede (inc 5 blacksmith in German) or proposing a revival of Esperanto, but the Russian language pack would be the only possible solution for the ???? problem. There's been mention made that this is only a temporary fix on Blizzard's part to faction imbalances on battlegroups, but if you're on an EU realm that's seen a recent battlegroup merge, just be aware that Babelfish might be a useful tool in the near future.
Elemental Shaman talent builds for Patch 3.0.2 - Thu, 16 Oct 2008 19:30:00 EST So you logged in on Tuesday and all your talent points were gone. (Let's hope you noticed this fact before you went out to attack someone or something.) If you're looking at the new Elemental tree and wondering what talents to pick, here's a little help for you from someone who's been speccing and respeccing almost pure Elemental on the beta servers for several months now. (That would be me.)
The first thing you should do is go read what our resident shaman expert, Matt Rossi, says about the overall changes to our class in Echoes of Doom, just to make sure you still want to stay Elemental (Part 1 and Part 2). For my part, I leveled to 70 as Elemental and saw no reason to switch as I worked my way up the new Wrath talent tree. Since we've already been over the new spells, the point of this post is to simply recommend a build for you. So let's get a-buildin'!
Tier 1 Both the PvE and the PvP specs start the same way. Take all 10 talents on the first row of the Elemental tree (Convection and Concussion) and put 5 points in Improved Healing Wave on the Resto tree. This is probably no different than your spec before Echoes of Doom.
Tier 2 PvE and PvP are the same here too. Max out both Call of Flame and Elemental Warding, which will improve both your DPS and your ability to survive. (That's right, elemental shamans are all about FIRE now.) Raiding shamans, on this tier you should also put 3 points into Ancestral Healing so that when you off-heal, your targets can reap this potential armor-increasing benefit.
Tier 3 On the third level, both PvE and PvP should take Elemental Focus and all 5 points in Elemental Fury, which are both talents you probably had before the patch. PvE can take all 5 points in Reverberation, but PvP should save 3 of these points for later.
Tier 4 Both play styles should max out the points in this tier for Eye of the Storm (familiar talent) and the new Improved Fire Nova Totem. Now some of you will say that PvE shouldn't be using Fire Nova totem and I'll partially agree with you. No, you shouldn't be using it in raids or instances. However, you can use it carefully in PvE and questing (which I've done) and it can be extremely useful because of its slowing effect if you get mobbed.
Troubleshooting dynamic shadows on OS X and Windows - Thu, 16 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST This forum thread, about the new shadow technology appearing on the Mac in 3.0.2, is confusing. There are four Blue responses in the first 10 posts, and at the end of it, I still don't have a clear idea of whether shadows work on the Mac or not. The issue seems to be this: shadows do work on the Mac, but not the highest quality shadows. Why? Because while Windows uses DirectX to do its 3D processing, OS X still uses OpenGL. And while shadows do work in OpenGL (and eventually can work just as well in OpenGL), Blizzard needs Apple to put some extensions in which aren't there yet, so the highest quality shadows aren't yet possible.
Did your eyes glaze over from all that tech talk? Let's make it simple: if you're on Windows or OS X and you don't see shadows, odds are that your settings are wrong. Open up Video settings in game, and slide the Shadows slider all the way to the right as far as it will go, and then escape out and see if Shadows appear. Note, however, that this will slow your computer down, and as we said earlier today, older computers might have trouble doing this. If you're running an older PC or Mac, you may have to forget about the dynamic shadows completely.
That said, according to the Blues, with the shadow slider flipped all the way up on a PC and a Mac, the PC's shadows will look a little better. That's not a limitation of your computer (or of Blizzard's designers), it's a limitation of the technologies that Blizzard is using to make the game. When OpenGL (the code that allows game makers like Blizzard to draw 3D graphics within OS X) gets updated, then we'll see some higher quality shadows.
Brew of the Month for October: Autumnal Acorn Ale - Thu, 16 Oct 2008 18:30:00 EST Apparently that 200 tokens I spent on the Brew of the Month club was well spent -- I got my second Brew in the mail this week, and it's a good one. Autumnal Acorn Ale is not only tasty, but it'll make you smell like Autumn Acorns, too. Drinking it will get you drunk and call Woodland Squirrels up to show you a little critter love (or hate). I sipped it for the first time last night during a Slave Pens run, and at one point I had three cute little squirrels showing their affection. Apparently they'll also throw acorns at you, though I missed that in the chaos of the instance last night.
Plus, it's an unlimited use item after 3.0.2 (14 day duration, though BotM members can buy more in Ironforge), which means you get as much alcohol as you want, and every time you drink one, you get an "empty brew bottle" to throw with a glassbreak bang. Very fun.
If you didn't round up enough tokens to become a BotM member, you're unfortunately out of luck -- I originally thought you could buy the brews in Ironforge even if you weren't subscribed, but no dice, and the brews you get sent are soulbound. You'll have to wait until next Brewfest to sign up for your monthly beer. Can't wait to see what shows up next month!
Reader Zanthix of Gul'dan let us know, and I just confirmed, that the Hellfire Fortifications PvP quest in Hellfire Peninsula now grants a little extra welcome gift to Outland when you do it. In addition to the Marks of Thrallmar or Honor Hold that you get as a reward, you also now get an Insignia of the Horde or Alliance, to get you started on PvP.
And yes, it is just a start -- the Insignia removes all movement-impairing effects, but it doesn't have any extra resilience like the epic PvP trinkets you can get from turning in honor, so if you're doing lots of PvP, you'll still want to grind for the other trinkets. It is equivalent to the trinket sold for ~2800 honor (that used to be a class-specific trinket, but is now basically faction-specific), just a little easier to get.
I also checked the Halaa PvP quest in Nagrand, but there's no extra trinket reward there, just the usual daily gold and the extra honor. The Armory shows that this is the only place you can get it, save for the usual honor vendors. So if you haven't nabbed a PvP trinket yet, go take some fortifications in Hellfire.
Totem Talk: Echoes of Doom Enhancement review - Thu, 16 Oct 2008 17:30:00 EST Hi. Welcome to Echoes of Doom. I'll be your host, gibbering over in the corner that I suddenly have an extra 300 AP. I'll have even more once I re-gem for agility. My crit rate did drop. Hunter mail, let's never fight again.
I'm still playing with specs and what my stats are now, so I'm not sure what advice if any to give on that score: despite having been in the beta for a while now, coming up with a level 70 spec that has everything I need is harder than coming up with a level 70 spec that's good enough to get me those extra 10 talent points for some reason. I ended up going with this build for pure PvE, as I don't PvP very much, but I'm seriously considering getting the Enhancing Totems and full Improved Windfury even if it costs me my elemental points. I guess it depends on if I want to buff the raid or my own personal DPS more.
So far I've only really played with enhancement: not only is it the tree I like best, it's the one that we happened to need the most when I logged my draenei on. My orc is fullbore resto and will be taking that spec out for a spin soon to see how much no more downranking affects my healing in raids, but that's still in the future. After that, it will be elemental's turn, probably on the same shaman as he has the best caster gear in the new scheme of things.
I was browsing through Blizzard's updated patch notes for 3.0.2 today, and noticed that apparently two talents that have been patched in don't do what they say. Under "Known Issues," the notes list that the tooltips for the Enhancement Shaman talent Maelstrom Weapon and the Feral Druid talent Predatory Instincts are incorrect. I'll talk about them one at a time.
As far as Predatory Instincts goes, the patch notes say "The tooltip for Predatory Instincts is currently incorrect. This no longer works on Bear Form or Dire Bear Form and now reduces damage by 10/20/30%." I'm going to assume that it still just works on AoE, instead of reducing all damage taken by 10/20/30%, because that would be insanely OP, as much as I'd enjoy my cat form having plate-level mitigation. And I'm not actually surprised they took bear form off of it, because I'm told bear tanking was simply too good in the beta. It does mean there's no use taking it for tanking, though. More points for Infected Wounds or something, I suppose.
On to Maelstrom Weapon. This is actually something that was changed in the beta a while back, and the tooltip just took some time to get updated: Lava Burst is no longer affected by Maelstrom charges (this won't affect us for now, since the first rank of Lava Burst is at level 75). So it looks like you'll be limited to Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning for your instant-cast damage spells, clearly a PvE nerf. Chase actually sees this as a buff for PvP, though - now you can Flame Shock, crit Lava Burst, and instant Lightning Bolt for some serious burst damage.
Every Tuesday, or possibly Thursday when the writer realizes that nobody writing about moonkin DPS on the internet agrees with each other, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week Allison Robert, having HibernatedJohn Patricelli and run away as fast as her laser-chicken legs will carry her, examines the new moonkin talents and glyphs in 3.02 and Wrath.
I do apologize about the wait here, folks. There's been a lot of contradictory information from both the beta and an array of Druid bloggers on how moonkin are shaping up for Wrath. While a lot of this is just the normal ebb and flow of changes in the alpha and beta, most of it is fueled by a few new talents and the set of glyphs that will become available. All of these have the potential to seriously impact your gameplay and rotation choices, so Balance DPS is going to be (at least, from current appearances) a lot twitchier and more proc-dependent than its counterpart in the feral tree. In addition, you'll probably have to make a few hard choices that will be affected by what your raid's going to need from you (although there is a truly amazing talent deep in the balance tree that, no matter what else you pick, is going to be a significant raid DPS contribution). As Balance is the only spec that I haven't gotten to raid on, I didn't want to go live with this until trying to figure out which pieces of information were accurate and which ones weren't. Bear in mind that Blizzard is still tinkering with Balance as I write this.
For the guide to feral in 3.02, head here; for the guide to resto in 3.02, head here. You'll probably want to be familiar with the resto changes, as balance has traditionally depended on a few key talents in that tree, some of which have changed. Otherwise, read on for a comprehensive look at balance's new talents, updated skills, and glyphs!
Many classes have interesting five-point talents immediately preceding their 51-point talents. Heck, two out of the three Priest ones are pretty good. Discipline has Borrowed Time, which brilliantly capitalizes on the new Power Word: Shield-centric healing method of that tree. Shadow has Twisted Faith which, alright, is not the most exciting, but at least it improves Shadow's main damage spells considerably, as well as letting them get a bit more out of spirit.
In Holy, we're stuck with something called Divine Providence. Basically, every heal that can hit more than one target is up by +2/4/6/8/10%. Not only is this boring as heck, but it's not even good. For it to meet the benchmark of 1% improvement per talent point, fully half of your healing would have to come from these heals. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm willing to bet that at least 70% of my healing will come from Greater Heal, Flash Heal, and Renew, gimmick fights aside. These are heals that this talent does absolutely nothing for.
The devs "are sympathetic to the notion that Divine Providence feels like a second Spritual Healing but with less effect" (which is exactly what it is), so they're buffing it. It will now, in addition to its previous effect, reduce the cooldown of Prayer of Mending by 6/12/18/24/30%. 30% off is 3 seconds, so PoM will be on a 7-second cooldown with 5/5 in Divine Providence. This is...nice, I guess, but I'm in agreement with the Dwarf Priest here: I'm still not taking it. 3 seconds off PoM's CD and a 10% boost to 30% of my healing is not worth 5 points at the deep end of my tree; this is the sort of stuff I expect from a tier 4 talent, not tier 10.
Dinner with the multiboxers - Thu, 16 Oct 2008 15:30:00 EST I wish I'd been invited to this at BlizzCon -- TGDaily sat down with a group of multiboxers last weekend, and lived to tell the tale. I don't think multiboxers are the most hated people in the game (Paladins and Warlocks probably get to trade off that title), but it's true that just like twinks, they can draw some ire. Blizzard has given them a free pass in the game (most likely because they're spending ungodly amounts of money keeping up their fleets of characters), but apparently multiboxers are just people. People willing to shell out lots of money and time on overpowering themselves inside a game.
And that's really where the issue lies -- most of these people aren't no-lifers, they're just folks with money to burn that want to trounce a battleground all by themselves or run Karazhan solo. But at the same time, there is a sense of superiority that comes across -- they brag (under their breath in a crowded restaurant) that they can beat anyone else's player, and they claim that "other people can only see a quarter of the game," which just patently isn't true. This is a generalization I'm making, of course, but playing 10 characters by yourself seems to give an inflated sense of self-worth in the game (after all, aren't you 10 times better than someone playing with just one character?) and that could be the reason that multiboxers have the reputation they do.
Hallow's End is almost upon us, and with that comes flimsy masks, a chance to be named The Hallowed, and a shot at looting something more cute than sinister. Even if you miss out on this seasonal in-game pumpkin pet, you still have the chance to befriend this small squashling IRL. Here is what you will need:
When Delicious Chocolate Cake was introduced a year ago, nobody could figure out what the one-hour Very Happy buff was all about. For a while, it rumored to increase xp gain. Players eventually determined the effect was simply a vanity buff, including a few happy-fun fireworks, a smoke rocket and the infamous one-hour Very Happy buff.
But the cake is not a lie. User Snuggly over on wowhead.com points out that Delicious Chocolate Cake, which can now be purchased from Misensi in Dalaran for three Dalaran Cooking Awards, is a necessary ingredient for quite a few achievements. (More details, after the break.)
So here's a quick look at who will be able to run what where in the future. Keep in mind that Blizzard is extremely kind on system requirements -- they design their games to run on almost anything (which is one reason why they have so many fans), so odds are pretty good that if you run WoW well now, you'll run it well after Wrath (though you may also have to tweak the ingame video settings a bit, and you may not get the benefit of the cool graphical touches they're adding in). But if you do want to upgrade the way you see the game, there are a few things you can do, from upgrading a few parts to getting a whole new computer.
Divine Storm now does physical damage instead of holy (live).
Repentance down to 6 seconds in PvP (from 10, live).
Righteous Vengeance now applies a DoT "similar to Deep Wounds" instead of upping crit damage. GC calls it "a significant buff to the ability to make up for the damage lost to Divine Storm, but is also less bursty." The DoT will not break Repentance. (coming before Wrath) Update: "It should end up at something like 10% of the crit damage each tick for 4 ticks of 2 seconds each (+40% and 8 sec total)."
Art of War improves damage done by Judgments, Crusader Strike, and Divine storm, instead of upping crit rate. GC says "net dps should be about the same but less bursty" (coming before Wrath).
Glyph of Crusader Strike now reduces mana cost, since the devs felt pallies were able to do too much damage on stunned targets (coming before Wrath).
Fixed a bug with Seal and Judgment of Light that would result in too much healing. Technically a nerf, but since it's a bug fix I can't really put it in that category. (live)
Overall, GC assures us that sustained Ret DPS remains the same as before this storm of changes; it's just less bursty at the front end of a PvP fight. He also says "if we overdid it, we'll be happy to back off some of the changes," so we'll just have to see how it works out, I suppose.
One more thing. This isn't directly a Paladin change, but it will primarly affect Paladins, I think: the damage reduction Warlocks get from having their Felguard out with Master Demonologist is being extended to include Holy.
The new gathering profession abilities were undocumented in the patch notes, but they are definitely live in Patch 3.0.2. I was very pleased to discover that my Herbalist Druid has a new self heal and that my Skinner Rogue and Miner Paladin also had some unexpected goodies. Over the summer, Blizzard experimented with some abilities for all of the professions, but all that are live in the patch are the ones for the gathering professions. At least Mixology is trainable, and other ones may be available, though undocumented in the patch notes. This will be covered in a later post.
Each ability can be found in your Spellbook under the General Skills tab. They have 6 ranks, with 5 being the maximum you are able to achieve before Wrath of the Lich King. The first rank is acquired with Journeyman or the skill of 75 and scales with your profession's rank. So, for example, a Master Herbalist will have Rank 5 of Lifeblood. Details for each ability are after the break.
When we posted links to the recent patches mirrored on our sister site Big Download yesterday, several of you bemoaned the fact that the European patches were not up yet. Rejoice! Now you can directly download the European 3.0.1 and 3.0.2 patches, without having to muck with the Blizzard downloader.
Currently the German, English, French, and Russian patches are up (the 3.0.2 patch is langugae-specific, while the 3.0.1 patch is not). They promise to have the Spanish patch up within the hour. The Spanish patch is up now too. Also currently only the Windows version of the 3.0.2 patch is available; I'm sure they'll get the Mac version up if and when they can. Remember to apply the patches in order, 3.0.1 first then 3.0.2. Oh, and don't delete your patch files when you're done patching (more on this soon).
While it is an undoubtedly polished production -- the voice talents, music, and sound design stand out in particular -- the story struggled to keep my interest, sometimes from plain confusion. The backstory takes up the first 3-1/2 minutes of the film and is told without animation, via what is essentially a slide show. It moves very slowly and provides little that we don't understand from context later. (As such, I would recommend axing the narrated backstory altogether.)
Then, ironically, much of the action in the main portion of the film was difficult for me to follow. The battle scenes were too cluttered with closeups and blur-effects to make much sense to me. Most times I couldn't even tell what spells were being cast or who was fighting whom. I never figured out how the Priestess escaped, who died overall, or why the "core" meltdown occurred. Nor was I able to follow the action well enough to figure out how the Arch Druid caught up to the Priestess at the end of the film, much less why either of them were still alive after their fiery collision. Without adding spoilers, I also can't figure out how the ending events occurred either. There were too many quick cuts, too many out-of-context closeups, too much deus ex machina, too much backstory and not enough battle context for me to enjoy the film.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at Fruit of Elune by Myndflame to wrap up our BlizzCon movie contest coverage.
But that's not all! After putting aspects off the GCD, the devs decided they weren't happy about how it made you feel like you had to "stance-dance" to Monkey every time someone came into melee range. So they're introducing a whole new aspect: Aspect of the Dragonhawk, which combines the benefits Monkey and Hawk into one aspect. This spell will be learned at level 75 and 80, instead of learning new ranks of Hawk. The idea, says Ghostcrawler, is that you'll never cast Hawk or Monkey again after 75; you'll just use Dragonhawk for fighting and Viper when you need some mana back.
I have mixed reactions to this change. It'll be nice for hunters, who already have enough spells to deal with between shots, melee, traps, pet skills, etc. However, it seems like they might as well just make +AP and +dodge built in to Hunters, remove Monkey, Hawk, and Dragonhawk, and put a penalty on Viper corresponding to the now-innate +AP/+dodge. The whole Aspects system has always felt a bit half-baked to me, to be honest. Also, I'm not quite sold on the Dragonhawk name, but I guess it's better than "Monkeyhawk."