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All the World's a Stage: Hallow's End and you - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 20:00:00 EST

This week on All the World's a Stage, Michael Gray fills in to talk about how you can use Hallow's End specifically for your character. David Bower will be back next week to tackle "So you want to be a Blood Elf."

Maybe more than any other Azeroth holiday, Hallow's End celebrates a significant event in the history of our characters. According to the offical community site, Hallow's End is Azeroth's celebration of the Forsaken's break from the Scourge. (Personally, this makes me even more happy that we got the new model for Sylvanas in the recent content patch.)

The story of how the Forsaken broke free is certainly significant. But the fact alone that both the Horde and Alliance do celebrate this break is even more meaningful. Let's take a look at some of the impacts it can have for classes and races ... behind the cut.

Continue reading All the World's a Stage: Hallow's End and you

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Find popular builds with TalentChic - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST

Since the patch hit, we've been flooded with requests for cookie-cutter builds for various classes, specs, and roles. We're working on it, but our bloggers only have so many hours in the day (if only haste rating worked in real life). However, I do have a new site to tell you about that might help with these types of questions. TalentChic is a web site that aims to determine what the most popular talent builds are for all nine classes, and it's very well made, in my opinion.

The site makes use of Armory data, so it stays relatively up-to-date. Builds are organized by class and by primary tree, and you can also filter for playstyle (Raid/PvP for instance). Playstyle is determined by what kind of gear the player was raiding when their data was cached, so it's not foolproof (a raider could have been wearing their PvP gear and thus counted as PvP), but it's about as good as can be done with Armory data.

As far as the information displayed goes, it seems reasonable to me. I'm a little surprised that Combat is still so dominant with Rogues, given that I've heard Mutilate got significantly buffed. And I'm very surprised that 0/61/0 is the most popular Holy Priest build; I haven't seen people talk about that one very much, and I certainly wouldn't want to be without Meditation. It does drop to only second most popular if I look at raiding Holy Priests. Are your own talent builds popular? Does TalentChic give you any ideas on how to spec?

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Don't delete your 3.0.x patches just yet - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 18:00:00 EST

Most of you have hopefully managed to get patched up to 3.0.2 by now, and fortunately it seems like the servers are stable enough that we can often get some playtime in (with last night being an exception, at least for my realm). If you have installed the patches, I have a word of advice from you, straight from Eyonix: Do not delete your 3.0.x patch files. You will need them when you install Wrath of the Lich King.

The reason for this is that the Wrath DVDs, having gone gold a week ago, contains an installer for patch 3.0.1, so after installing the Wrath client, you'll have to patch back up to 3.0.2 (will almost certainly be at least 3.0.3 by then, actually). So if you delete your patches now, you'll just have to re-download them on November 13th, and it's a good bet that that will not be a pleasant experience. Save your patches!

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Alchemists can train Mixology in Patch 3.0.2 - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 17:00:00 EST

The Gathering Professions got some undocumented love in Patch 3.0.2. But what about the Crafting Professions? If you scour the patch notes, the only thing you find about professions is a brief note about Inscription being in game and how it affects enchanting. Unlike last year, there was no Professions panel at BlizzCon 2008 and they only briefly mentioned professions in the Q&A session.

After much research, the only new ability I was able to find that is similar to what the gathering professions got is Mixology, which Alchemists can train at the Master Alchemy Trainer in either Honor Hold or Thrallmar. Our Alex Ziebart and friends tested it out in the beta and determined an approximate 25% bonus when drinking flasks and elixirs. It's a nice little bonus and I'm happy to have it, I just wish the patch notes had told me it was in the Echoes of Doom patch rather than having to find out from a helpful commenter.

Are the other crafting professions getting abilities in Wrath? The Q&A panel said they were going to make sure all professions were valuable in the endgame. Does that mean more Mixology and Lifeblood-like abilities or other self-only benefits? What abilities do you think the other crafting professions should get?

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Ask a Lore Nerd: The Burning Legion and equal opportunity corruption - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 16:00:00 EST

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week Alex Ziebart answers your quests about the lore in the World of Warcraft. If you have any questions, no matter how big or small they might be, ask them in the comments section below and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

After a brief BlizzCon-inspired hiatus, Ask a Lore Nerd is back! Let's get started with Grimgore's question...

I was wondering if there was anything in the lore that implies that demonic blood could empower any races other than orcs? And if not, what is it about orcs that makes them so susceptible to demonic taint? Does that imply some sort of common ancestry?

Right in World of Warcraft we see other races being empowered with demonic energy/blood. It's not just Orcs. Satyrs were once Night Elves (or Highborne, or Kaldorei), and I'm sure you've seen what happens to Blood Elves when they drink in the demon juice. The horned, winged elves you see in Magisters' Terrace, Sunwell Plateau, and the Throne of Kil'jaeden. They're not all specifically caused by drinking demon blood, but it's the same idea, really.

Continue reading Ask a Lore Nerd: The Burning Legion and equal opportunity corruption

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Divine Providence not worthless after all - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 15:00:00 EST

I would like to take this opportunity to disagree with my own post the other day declaring Divine Providence worthless. I was so moved by all your comments that I specced 14/47/0 and took Circle of Healing for a spin through half of Tempest Keep and all of Zul'Aman, and have changed my mind entirely. Circle of Healing is amazing, and I never want to let it go. If Blizzard wants to give me a talent to buff it and other heals by 10%, and lower the cooldown on Prayer of Mending, they can go right ahead.

As you all had predicted out, my estimate of Greater Heal and Flash Heal covering 70% of my healing between them was woefully inaccurate. In fact, in both instances, CoH alone accounted for 70% or more of my healing. The new Divine Providence is +10% to all multi-target heals, and 3 seconds off Prayer of Mending's cooldown (with 5 points in the talent). Even if I ignore the other effects and just look at the boost to CoH, I get (70% * 2%) = 1.4% increase to my healing per talent point, well above the 1%-per-point benchmark.

Continue reading Divine Providence not worthless after all

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Recruit-a-Friend levels fizzle in Patch 3.0.2 - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 14:00:00 EST

So much for power-leveling to 60 in under 20 minutes. Tipster Chopstix pointed out that the much awaited and celebrated Echoes of Doom patch borked the bonus levels obtained through the Refer-a-Friend program stashed away by some players. Players hoping to zip towards the end game were surprised to find that the free levels gained before the patch could no longer be conferred to characters after the patch.

Even more surprising was a dismissive response by Game Master Issuntril that basically said, "they're gone, sorry for the inconvenience." Naturally, there was an uproar over at the forums over this as the free levels are one of the most appealing benefits of the program (no, it's not the Zebra, really). Subsequent responses from other GMs were more sympathetic and advised a wait-and-see attitude stating that Blizzard was aware of the problem and were looking into solutions on how to fix it. Hopefully this problem gets resolved. While it's understandable that intangibles such as free levels might be harder to restore, these are arguably as important as gear. Considering how swiftly Blizzard hotfixed the issue with pets and mounts (not the selling part yet, unfortunately), there's hope for a resolution yet.

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Mila Kunis quits WoW, breaks nerd hearts everywhere - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 13:30:00 EST

Mila Kunis, who got her breakthrough role playing air-headed Jackie on That 70's Show, was always one of the more famous people playing our favorite game. Ukraine-born Kunis was interviewed by Complex magazine a while back and she revealed a surprisingly pleasant grasp of the game, which she plays with her long-time boyfriend Macaulay Culkin (yeah, that kid from Home Alone. He's all grown up now, sorry, guys.). This won the approval of nerds everywhere -- that includes me -- because a hot babe playing a video game always gets a thumbs up.

In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kunis promotes her new movie, the video-game inspired Max Payne, and talks about having had to quit the game "for good, going on a year now." Confusingly, however, the actress continues to talk about "the game" in the present tense, talking about being in two guilds, getting recognized through in-game voice chat, and how she plays a kickass Alliance Mage. It's an interesting and funny interview where she also hints at keeping tabs on the expansion's new 10-man raids as well as confesses to sucking at shoot-em ups. For someone who hasn't played the game for about a year, she sure does give it a lot of love, saying that "it's such a good game" and that she "loves it so much." Maybe when Wrath comes out she'll rethink that hiatus from the game, eh?

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Should L70 players be able to start a L55 class of their choice? - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 12:30:00 EST

Like many servers since Patch 3.0.2, mine went down for the count last night. I had planned to explore the Hallow's End content that just went live with my guildies, but spent the time instead commiserating with them via Instant Messenger while waiting for Blizzard to combat rez my realm. One suggestion brought up in the conversation was to play on another server for the evening. A guildmate of mine had a brother with a high level toon on another server, but because we could only roll new characters, that didn't help either.

That's when my guild brother (heya Taiglin!) made what I thought was a brilliant suggestion: since level 70 players will be able to roll a brand new level 55 Death Knight when Wrath launches, why not roll any class at level 55? I was going to explain to him why that wasn't a good idea, but honestly, I thought he had a point. I already know how to play a Druid (well, I'm relearning with the new talents from Patch 3.0.2 and my new found love of Balance specs), why can't I roll a level 55 Druid on a new server to have an alternative place to play? Or even just to join friends who rolled toons on other servers.

You may argue against players rolling a class they don't know how to play then bungling through pick up groups, but isn't that exactly what's going to happen with the flood of DKs about to hit every server? Blizzard is poised to open the door to this option with their new Hero class, why not every class?

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Around Azeroth: Don't turn around - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 10:00:00 EST

Okay, do you guys know the strategy for this boss? No? Okay. Well, what's the ugliest thing you can think of? No, not a male draenei in a dress. Very funny, Kirby. It's this dude -- a huge, smelly pit lord. Strutting around with some huge blades attached to his arms, like we all don't know what he's compensating for. And those armored codpieces? I mean, please. Those only belong at the Met. Hey ... why are you all looking behind me and readying your fireballs? (Thanks to Natasi of <Pantheon> on Steamwheedle Cartel for the pic!)

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing 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. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.

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Beast Mastery: Bats - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 09:00:00 EST

My very first pet was a bat. As soon as my white-haired Troll turned Level 11, I hied off to Tirisfal Glades and sought out Ressan the Needler, one of only two tameable all-white bats in the game. Of course, some people mistook him for those semi-albino bats found in the Eastern Plaguelands, but true pet connoisseurs knew better. Even when Hunters started turning to those 1.0 speed bats from Zul'Gurub, I stuck to my white bat. All pets were eventually normalized but now in the Echoes of Doom, each pet has its own ability, making our choices of pets even more special and important.

In Patch 3.0.2, all bats now have Sonic Blast as their unique, bat-exclusive ability. It's a 2 second stun with negligible damage on a one-minute cooldown. As far as Hunter pet abilities go, Sonic Blast is pretty run-of-the-mill and isn't significantly great to merit taming a bat for. It pales in comparison to the Ravage skill of Ravagers, for example, which is on a 40-second cooldown. Ravage is melee range ability while Sonic Blast has 20 yards -- an irrelevant bonus considering our pets are almost always at melee range. It's only a little better for chasing and stunning, but otherwise, I would much rather have it available every 40 seconds than have some extra range.

Continue reading Beast Mastery: Bats

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Breakfast Topic: Achievement envy - Sun, 19 Oct 2008 08:00:00 EST
I've just about had it with all you Achievement whores! Yep, I mean you, that guy who just has to open up his map in places he's never bothered to go before. And I mean you, too, that dude who keeps on learning pets and mounts just to get that stinky pet and an overgrown pigmentally-challenged lizard. You put too much pressure on me. No, really. My guild has gone on a Dora rampage and guild chat keeps lighting up with silly messages about this guy exploring Azshara or this girl exploring Ghostlands.

I don't care! I tried not to take Mike's poll on Achievements because I didn't want my epeen to shrink any further. I cry uncle on all you explorers and pet collectors and mount enthusiasts. Okay, the truth is, all those Achievements just make me want to stop my Battleground grind -- ok, I confess I'm pursuing Achievements myself, but it just isn't as fast as all that exploration.

My guildies are racking up Achievement points paying visits to VC or Balny and the Baron while I toil away not getting any 'shwing' sounds for hours on end. The time I got Wrecking Ball, nobody else was online! Bummer. So hey, what about you? Are you suffering from Achievement insecurity or are you an Achievement whore like everyone else? How're those points coming along?

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Skill Mastery: Mark of Blood - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 20:00:00 EST

While Blood is not quite as as powerful as it once was, it remains, at the least, a solid DPS tree and one quite a few Death Knights will probably choose to level with. The wide array of self healing abilities means that a Blood Death Knight has a very hard time dying, and nothing interrupts a good grinding session quite like a death.

In Skill Mastery today, we'll look at one of the Blood Death Knight's signature talent abilities, the 21-point talent Mark of Blood. Mark of Blood is placed on an enemy, and every time that enemy deals damage, their target is healed for 4% of their max health. It costs 1 Blood Rune. It lasts for 30 seconds, and has a cool down of 3 minutes.

It's a straightforward skill to use. Throw it on your target and keep fighting. Using it effectively, however, may take a little bit of thought. Here's some tips to figuring out the best way and time to make your mark:

Continue reading Skill Mastery: Mark of Blood

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Ask a Beta Tester: More on leveling, Alliance lore, and starting zone RP - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST

"Ask a Beta Tester" took a short break during patch 3.02 madness, but we're back!

DM7000 asks...

What happened with the glyphs that turned (Druids) into a polar bear or a lynx?

This is a question I asked constantly in the beta for about a week. As much as I was excited about the talent changes and new skills, I was even more excited about form customization, because I hate Tauren cat form. I love my class dearly, but all of the form models have basically been unchanged since the original game went live, which is very hard for those of us forced to live with the unadulterated suck of Tauren cat form. It's kind of a bitter pill to swallow wandering the beautifully rendered landscapes of Northrend and seeing the quantum leap of Blizzard's artistic touch while using an ancient, low-polygon model like Tauren cat form. I found out that Glyph of the Red Lynx (and other Druid-form glyphs) hadn't actually gone live, which was a devastating blow to those of us with Tauren cat form. The glyphs exist in the game files, but none are trainable or discoverable; the developers apparently came to the decision that forcing Druids to use a glyph slot to customize their forms wasn't a great idea, and they're leaning toward the idea of patching in the ability to get the hell out of Tauren cat form using the barbershop. Frankly I think most Druids would agree that's a much better option, especially if they have to use Tauren cat form. Or see it. Or occupy the same game with it.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: More on leveling, Alliance lore, and starting zone RP

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6 Achievements for the Warsong Gulch Holiday - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 17:30:00 EST

In the days since Echoes of Doom went live, I've spent pretty much every minute of my play time in the Battlegrounds. Alright, that's probably not too different from how I used to spend my time pre-patch, but this time it's different. Instead of playing the Battlegrounds intending to earn Honor, I would go in looking to complete Achievements geared towards my end goal. Here are six relatively easy Achievements you can pursue during this Warsong Gulch holiday while playing solo.

Capture the Flag

Even if you're not a Druid, you have every right to go and grab that flag. This one should be easy enough to do with a little luck and cooperation from your teammates. You know the drill -- grab that flag and bring it home.

Quick Cap

This one is more difficult than the previous one if you play a class with no special means to move around like Travel Form or Blink. This also requires that you travel virtually unmolested, so any attempt by the opposing team to stop you or possession of your team's flag will likely cut your attempt short. You'll just need a little perseverance here. You should probably travel through the tunnels to try and get both speed buffs and pack some Swiftness Potions for that necessary boost. Keep your fingers crossed.

Continue reading 6 Achievements for the Warsong Gulch Holiday

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3 Raid healing Priest specs at a glance - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 17:00:00 EST

Now that the patch has been out for several days, players are slowly getting accustomed to various specs and talents. They're trialing them now in raid situations to get a future handle for them when they hit raiding at 80. How well did they hold up?

Here's a brief summary of the 3 raid specs I suggested:

14/47/0 (Traditional with CoH): Here's the spec many Holy Priests are used to. Key talents include Meditation, Improved Power Word Fortitude, Surge of Light, Circle of Healing, Serendipity, and Improved Holy Concentration (up to 2 ranks). The emphasis is on trying to maximize your mana return as much as possible.

4/57/0 (Guardian Spirit): Only 4 points invested into Discipline for this spec. You're nabbing all the upper tier ones including Guardian Spirit. Even though the cheat death effect isn't as useful right now, raiding with this spec will serve as good practice for those that do want to master it. At level 80, the 10 additional talent points can be used to snag Meditation and Inner Focus. Right now, the one thing going against this spec is the mana regeneration. I get a nice healthy 800+ mana regen out of combat. But if I'm in combat I only get about 125 mp5. So experiment with this spec if your raid DPS is insanely overwhelming. The race is between the damage your raid dishes out and the mana resources your healers have.

56/5/0 (Penance): Key talents include Focused Power, Rapture, Divine Aegis, Pain Suppression, Grace, Borrowed Time, and Penance. A reader brought up a great point in comments last week. There's no realistic reason to grab Reflective Shield. That was a mistake on my end and has been taken into consideration. As a result, I've adjusted the Disc tree spec accordingly. I get to jump into Black Temple again tonight and I'm going to switch to this and give it a shot.

Note that none of the specs above have any points invested in Silent Resolve. Especially with the latest patch and the way threat is, there is no reason to grab any right now. The tanks I play with generate an insane amount of threat. However, please keep in mind that these are suggested specs. Your actual mileage may vary. If you're encountering threat problems, then by all means feel free to pick up Silent Resolve.

For the Shadow Priests, take a look at Alex's Shadow Priest talent build.

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WoW Insider Show live on the air - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 15:25:00 EST

Our weekly podcast will be going on the airwaves at 3:30pm Eastern (for about an hour and a half or so), and since we've recently uprooted to a new venue, we're trying something new today -- after the jump, we've put an embedded stream of the podcast, which you can listen to right here on WoW Insider.

If you like, you can also just go over to the Ustream page itself, and there'll you'll be able to jump into the chat room, and answer some live polls and other things during the podcast. Plus, we'll be giving away some loot codes during the show as well. Patrick Beja will be on with us to talk about his experiences at BlizzCon, and Turpster and Adam Holisky will join us as well. If you're around this afternoon (maybe playing the new patch or just reading up on our latest posts), click the link below to check it out.

Continue reading WoW Insider Show live on the air

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Arcane Brilliance: Post-patch madness - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 14:45:00 EST

Each week Arcane Brilliance shows you what happens when Mages stop being polite and start being real. This week, Arcane Barrage gets all up in Living Bomb's face, and fireworks ensue when Hot Streak hooks up with Combustion. Can Netherwind Presence and Missile Barrage learn to live together? Will Arcane Blast come to terms with the fact that it got raped? Will Deep Freeze finally reveal that it has Aids? Find out in this week's Arcane Brilliance.

Anyone else's head spinning like that chick in The Exorcist? I'm not saying I need a priest to come and cast patch 3.0.2 out of my body or anything, I'm just saying that holy crap. That was a lot of stuff, all at once. Even though I've been playing the beta, and constantly scanning this site and various others for information to prepare myself for all that was changing when the patch finally went live, it was still overwhelming to log in when my server finally came back up late Tuesday night and see how crazy everything had gotten. To be quite honest, I'm still adjusting.

In a ton of ways, what we're logging into today is an entirely different game than the one we logged into five days ago, even though our levels are still the same, we're still doing the same quests, and playing the same end-game content. Our mounts are still there, but in a different place. The bosses we're fighting still look the same, but are now way easier to kill. Many of our talents have the same names, but now do completely different things. Spells that were previously good are now bad, and some that were useless on Monday are perfectly serviceable today.

With the information overload we've all been presented with, I have found it best to focus on one or two things at a time, instead of attempting any sort of larger view. I look at each change as I notice it, rather than trying to address them all at once, purely out of fear of my head exploding. If you missed them in all the chaos, Arcane Brilliance did a two-part preview of the major changes, and you can find those here and here. After the jump, I'll go over some of the sparkly newness I've noticed but haven't covered yet in this space, both documented changes that managed to surprise me as well as those that flew a bit more under-the-radar.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Post-patch madness

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The Colosseum: Megatf, Hunter - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 14:00:00 EST

The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.

If you've been following Arena since its inception, you're probably already aware of Megatf. A leading Hunter in the Arena, Megatf has written several guides for how to get by in 2v2. Megatf has a dedicated following in the official Hunter boards, and you can always rely on his advice being seasoned and experienced. He certainly cleaned up in the final days of Season 4, and continues to dominate the "skirmish Season" before Wrath of the Lich King.

The Colosseum caught up with him to ask about how a Hunter has done so well. Check out his answers behind the cut.

Continue reading The Colosseum: Megatf, Hunter

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Shadow Priest talent build for Patch 3.0.2 - Sat, 18 Oct 2008 12:00:00 EST
Echoes of Doom is here, along with all of its tasty new talent points. Things haven't changed very much for us Shadow Priests. If you enjoyed the Shadow Priest playstyle before, you still will. The numbers you put out in terms of Healing, DPS and mana regen are wildly different, but the buttons you push are pretty much the same. If you found Shadow Priest playstyle (not necessarily the numbers game) a little stale before patch 3.0.2, this patch and even Wrath itself won't change that very much. If you plan on sticking with Shadow, good on ya.

I'm going to lay out my current Shadow talent build and explain why I picked the talents I did. Keep in mind that this spec is not for every aspect of the game. It's not even for every player. I'm using this spec as a level 70, PvE raiding spec. It's not perfect, I'm not completely happy with it, but I think that's because our trees are currently meant for level 80 and not level 70. I haven't been able to come up with something I like better yet. When I plan ahead for level 80, it feels much more complete. We don't have the luxury of those extra 10 talent points yet, so this is what I'm using for now:


Tier 1
I skipped Blackout because its raiding applications are very limited. It works on some trash, but never bosses. That's a big 'meh' for sure. I went with Spirit Tap and Improved Spirit Tap, because that's going to act as a Shadow Priest's Meditation for now. Finally, Tier 1 of the Shadow tree has something genuinely useful to raiders!

Continue reading Shadow Priest talent build for Patch 3.0.2

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