Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. 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. Matt's got awesome raid healing tips to share as Discipline along with some thoughts for dual spec!
The first week of Ulduar is almost done! For those in there, how far have you managed to go? I've found it to be a test and a challenge for not only myself, but for the crew I raid with. Thank goodness for dual spec as it's saved me both time and money for switching between different roles.
I wanted to share a few tip I picked up in my experience so far as a raiding Discipline Priest.
The thread and the contents inside it are notable in that it is, by my recollection, the first time a Blizzard employee has given out the complete rundown of an in-game formula. While there have been hints and comments about how certain statistics impact the game from patch notes and game designer posts in the past, there has never been a "step a, step b, step c" like algorithmic definition to all those stats contained within the black box of theorycrafting.
In giving out the computations behind Armor Penetration, Ghostcrawler makes note to point out that Blizzard is not, and will not, get in a habit of delivering theorycrafting to players. They like the idea that players have to test out game mechanics, and that while the starting and end results are known, what happens in the middle of combat isn't written in stone. In the case of the Armor Penetration rating, they released it due to quite a bit of (somewhat) inaccurate information out there.
The armor penetration formula, and an example, after the break.
When I look at the Dalaran landing pad, I see fewer red proto-drakes than I should be. This pains me, dear readers. The 5-man heroic achievements are a lot of fun, if admittedly time consuming, and they force you to think on your feet and wring the most out of your character's abilities. Plus - it's a proto-drake. If you didn't get a 10-man or 25-man drake before 3.1 hit, you're out of luck there. Odds are good that you're still waiting for a green one to hatch out of the worthless egg that snake-oil salesman from the Oracles sells you, some jerk is camping the Time-Lost spawn 24/7, and the worst DPS in your Pinnacle PuG was the guy who won the blue drake off of Skadi, right right?
A lot of the WoW population has been at 80 for a while now and has some quality gear under their belts, much of it obtainable without setting foot in a raid. You should be able to pull off all of the 5-man heroic achievements in decent blues with a good group. I highly recommend trying to run with a stable set of players and -- if at all possible -- at least one Shaman. This is more true if your group is still gearing up and needs the damage boost provided by Bloodlust/Heroism.
I thought initially about organizing these from the easiest to the hardest, but I think it's ultimately less confusing to list them dungeon by dungeon. We'll address each dungeon alphabetically, so let's get started with Ahn'kahet:
Sure, you know about dual spec, the Argent Tournament, and Ulduar. But patch 3.1 was a patch of many changes, and some of them seem to have flown under most people's radar. Here are a few changes that have been surprising some people recently, judging by the tips we've been getting.
Emblems are now automatically distributed to everyone upon the first person looting them, similar to gold. This means no more forgotten emblems, and no more rush to the corpse as everyone goes to get theirs. It will also make loot chests much less unpleasant.
Many spells with ground effects, such as Rain of Fire, Blizzard, and Death and Decay, are not showing the same as they used to. This is because there is a new video effects option, "Show Projected Textures," which controls whether things like the rune circles from RoF/Blizz/DnD are rendered on your client. It also appears to control my framerate in 25-man raids.
How to activate Ulduar's hard modes - Sun, 19 Apr 2009 13:00:00 EST You may have heard that a numberof guilds have cleared Ulduar to Yogg-Saron already, which to me is perfectly fine. I like to think that a lot of good, properly-coordinated guilds will kill Yoggy this week, and the Blues agree with me. Of course, this week's Yoggy kills were on the easiest possible difficulty, so world first or not, it doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of fame and fortune.
This is the beauty of Ulduar -- if you want prestige (and the best gear), you have to earn it by flexing your raiding muscle and beating encounters on their respective hard modes. If you don't have the chops or the time for the highest difficulty content, then you can still beat the instance and see every encounter.
But, of course, you want those 239-level items.
So you should probably read after the jump and find out how to activate each boss' hard mode, yeah?
A few weeks ago, when it looked like Oufitter was dead and Blizzard's Equipment Manager was on the way, I did a rundown of some alternatives to Outfitter. Now patch 3.1 is here, dual spec is upon us, and the situation is reversed: Outfitter is still in action, and Equipment Manager is not (yet).
As a gear switcher makes dual spec even easier, I thought it would be helpful to do a quick rundown of support for dual specs in the various gear switchers that are out there.
Outfitter fully supports dual specs, letting you select gear sets to automatically swap into when you activate your primary or secondary talents (see screenshot).
WardrobeAL doesn't seem to have particular support for dual spec.
For users who don't already have a favorite gear switcher, I recommend Outfitter for dual-spec purposes; it's quite easy to use, and has dual-spec capabilities built in. Are there any other good options out there I'm missing?
And Warlocks? Who plays those anymore. I received a free level 70 Death Knight in exchange for deleting mine. True story.
All kidding aside, I personally don't think Blizzard has it out for any one class. But I know that many in the community don't share my feelings. And while nerfs are never personal (aka, Ghostcrawler doesn't say "That damn Holisky, just because he posted this article we're going to nerf Shamans!"), they are often taken quite personal by the player base.
So for today's important poll (all polls are important after all): what class does Blizzard hate the most?
The shamans said that the risk of ... defects was too great for us to have children. But we went ahead anyway, and everything turned out okay. Sure, you don't blend in too well in Darnassus. But you'd be right at home in Northrend. That's why we're sending you two to private school with the Kalu'ak! The brochure said that your skin eventually hardens enough to stand the cold, and you'll learn twenty-three uses for whale blubber. No, sweethearts, we're not sending you away because we're ashamed of the monsters our twisted love produced. This is what's best for all of us. Now put these mooncloth sacks over your heads and get on the ship. (Thanks to Cristyn of Gurubashi for the shot!)
Do you have any unusual, beautiful or interesting World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see them on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Sunday Morning Funnies: Look at all the femurs - Sun, 19 Apr 2009 09:00:00 EST This week, we have a couple of comics that haven't updated because the authors are otherwise occupied. Namely, these are The Adventures of Disgraph T Dwarf and World of Warcraft, eh?. Enjoy your hiatus, Cadychan, and good luck with your story D (I can call you that, y'see, we're tight or something. Plus, you won't know if I'm really calling you Dan, Disgraph, or "Dwarf", which is slightly better than "You" but not quite as polite as "You there!", and I do like to antagonize Dwarves!).
Breakfast Topic: What's the best pun name you've ever seen? - Sun, 19 Apr 2009 08:00:00 EST We've all seen some Alliance kiddie named "ikillhoarde" or a Warlock named "ifearyoudie." After all, what Horde wouldn't run for cover from a Hunter who's named after his very death? And woe is the person who actually thinks he can get away from a Warlock's fear. Phear the lock, baby.
Add titles into the mix. "Doora the Explorer" is probably my favorite of all time. Every time I see someone named that I yell out "Swiper, No Swiping!" Of course insert the obligatory NSFW Kevin Smith reference here.
Another favorite of mine that I've seen is "Highlander the Immortal."
What's the best pun name that you've encountered in the game? Ever thought about renaming your character to make yourself pun-famous?
Dual spec is very handy, and I've already started relying on it for increased flexibility in setting up my 10-man raids. However, as may be expected with a new feature, it is not without its bugs. From extra talent points to missing talent points to things not switching correctly when you swap specs, I've seen a lot of errors pop up over the last few days.
Fortunately, most dual-spec errors can be fixed by one of the following steps:
Reload your UI.
Log out and back in.
Reset your UI entirely (I haven't seen this help anybody with dual spec issues, but the blues are suggesting it, as always).
Of course, if none of this works, a GM can usually set it right. Ancilorn is also suggesting some work-arounds for specific issues, so go check his post in case you're having resistant issues.
So ends the age of the weekly loot piñata. The Wintergrasp raid instance, somewhat inappropriately called the Vault of Archavon, has a new tenant who isn't quite the pushover Archavon the Stone Watcher has been since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King. The Vault of Archavon was essentially every Level 80 player's weekly lottery and near guaranteed shot at Emblems. It was the most compelling reason to capture Wintergrasp as the raid was only available to the faction in control of the zone. Enter Emalon the Storm Watcher, a new raid boss with Patch 3.1 who drops Ulduar and Season 6 loot. Emalon's difficulty is ramped up considerably from Archavon and -- if initial forays are any indication -- hard enough to give seasoned raiders like our own Matt Low an aneurysm.
Unlike his meek neighbor Archavon, Emalon actually requires a bit of strategy and situational awareness. He also comes with four bodyguards, the Tempest Minions, who are integral to the fight. As can probably be inferred from his name and his crew, Emalon the Storm Watcher's primary source of damage is lightning, or Nature damage. It won't be necessary to stack resistance, just an understanding of the fight, his abilities, and knowing what to do and avoid. You can visit Emalon by turning into a corridor on the right just before heading into Archavon.
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
[1.Local]: Patch week patter - Sat, 18 Apr 2009 16:00:00 EST Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past.
Patch madness Patch 3.1 went in; stable servers went out. Were you one of the players who shrugged and pushed back from the keyboard to enjoy some spring weather, or did connectivity issues leave you steaming?
Some readers ranted that $15 a month should provide smooth, uninterrupted service. Others felt that at something like 50 cents a day, they were getting a reasonable value.
"Interesting comments on the worth of WoW," observed Jalindrine. "The 50-cents-a-day logic, though, is obviously flawed. The question isn't 'Can I afford to spend 50 cents a day on a product?', but 'How many products/services can I afford to buy at 50 cents (more or less) a day?' Every so often, WoW's the one not worth it, which is much harder to realize when you're literally addicted."
Sounds like time for a sweep underneath the couch cushions ...
It's Saturday afternoon! What are you doing? I have no idea! I know what you should be doing, though. You should be finishing up your submissions to our Fan Art Contest! You only have a couple of days left, the contest ends the evening of April 20th.
Again, submissions are judged based on artistic skill, presentation, and creativity. Creativity is weighed much more heavily than the two. If you can make us smile with a crayon doodle, you probably still have a chance to win. Plus, it'll get you featured on our front page even if you don't win, so that's pretty cool. Right?
Fixing FPS issues with patch 3.1 - Sat, 18 Apr 2009 14:00:00 EST A few people are experiencing slowdown issues with patch 3.1, and since our last bit of technical help went over so well, we figured we'd do a little troubleshooting for you on this one, too. If your computer is running slower since you updated into patch 3.1, the first thing to do is check your video options -- Blizzard has tweaked a few things in there, and chances are that by tweaking them again, you might be able to fix your problem (or at least make it a little better). Specifically keep an eye out for the new Video Mode Ultra setting -- that specifically is not designed to be used unless your computer is current and top-of-the-line. Shadows also are quite a drag on the video card and CPU, and turning them down won't affect gameplay that much.
If your options are already low, the next thing you might do is check your videocard's make and driver version (scroll down to the "manually" section there -- you don't need to run Intel's program). Nvidia, who makes the common GeForce series of video cards just updated their drivers to version 182.50 on April 2nd, so if you have an earlier version than that, running the update will probably help. If you have an ATI card, you can find the drivers over on their site.
And of course if all of your software is set up and you're still having issues, there's always the possibility of updating your hardware. That can be quite an ordeal, though, so if you're not so sure on how to install new RAM or can't recognize the difference between SATA and IDE, you might want to enlist a friendly techie for a little help. WoW is still very forgiving, but Blizzard has been slowly adding on the graphical goodness, so if you've been playing with the same PC since launch four years ago, it might just be time for an upgrade.
In the aftermath of one of the biggest patches WoW has ever seen, many realms are still experiencing some technical issues. Talents and items are going missing, world and instance servers are down, and I've heard at least one report of trash mobs in Naxxramas suddenly breaking out in song.
Okay, I might have made that one up. The point still stands: problems exist in the realms right now. Blizzard knows this too, and they've decided to keep their technical support department open today until 7 PM Pacific time (10 PM Eastern). Usually they're only open on weekdays. Support will be available over the phone, through email, and in the tech support forums, as usual. Eyonix has posted a list of the methods to contact tech support, so check it out if you're having problems.
The show starts at April 18, 2009 3:30 PM EDT over on our Ustream page (or just check the feed right down on the bottom of this post), and we'll be chatting live with you during the show as well as answering emails that you send to email@example.com. We'll see you this afternoon!
And if you've got a little bit of time after the show, be sure to head on over to Rawrcast's Ustream page for their show, directly after ours. Our friend Stompalina is going to have none other than the inimitable Turpster, and apparently he'll be playing a game show that you can participate in. Turpster was also on The Instance earlier this week, too, so give that a listen if you just can't get enough of the T. Man that guy's like the Jaina of podcasts this week -- he's getting it on with everybody!
Update: That Rawrcast show with Turpster is apparently next week, April 24th. So if you thought you missed it on Saturday, no worries -- tune in next week to catch it live.
Top Ulduar achievements earned thus far - Sat, 18 Apr 2009 12:00:00 EST The folks over at GuildOx, a guild progress and achievement ranking site, were kind enough to email us some interesting new statistics about Ulduar's achievements. As it stands a large portion of the raids are, of course, not getting encounter specific achievements the first time they go into the zone. However there are some that are getting them nonetheless.
People may wonder if guilds are getting the achievements this quickly because Ulduar is too easy. My opinion on the matter is that Ulduar itself sans hard modes won't be abnormally challenging, however when you put in the hard modes and various twists to the encounter in order to earn the achievements, Ulduar is going to become quite challenging.
The achievements that have made the list so far, like A Quick Shave where you have to kill Razorscale with her only flying into the air once, just requires a lot of DPS. That's not too hard for most geared out groups to muster.
Take a look after the break for GuildOx's list of the top five Ulduar 10 and 25 man achievements, and head over there to take a look at things overall.
FigurePrints celebrates Ulduar with 10% discount - Sat, 18 Apr 2009 11:00:00 EST In celebration of the release of Patch 3.1, Secrets of Ulduar, FigurePrints is having a little sale. When placing your order, if you enter the promotional code 'ULDUARSECRET' you'll get 10% off of the price of your Print. Normal price being $129.95, you get $13 off bringing the subtotal to $116.95. Shipping is about $20, so your print would come to $136.90. This sale will only last through the 30th, so you have a little under two weeks to make your purchase.
I suspect that discounted price is still too high for most people, and only the crazy folk like me will pick up on it. I bought a FigurePrint at full price awhile back, and it was certainly worth it to me, even if the print was much smaller than I expected it to be. It was less a monument to my character, and more a little physical memory of what I've been doing for four years. That's worth $150 to me. To most people? Probably not. That's rather steep for what you get, even if it is crafted for your character.