Real names on Battle.net forums cancelled

9 July, 2010

You may now return to your regularly scheduled complaining about casuals and free epics.

Sincerely,
Blizzard

Tip of the hat:
http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/1856


Talent Show: Shaman Cataclysm Preview

10 June, 2010

Don’t let the world deceive you, don’t let their words betray you, don’t let their lies deceive you. Let them do their worst–Killswitch Engage

Ooooo...frosty

The drought of New in the World of Warcraft has been long, so long in fact, that I think local authorities were asking people to only read one (two if it’s an emergency) blog posts, 5 tweets, or 5 Facebook updates per day in order to conserve as much time eating content as possible. It’s a long Summer, people. We can’t waste it all in May before it even starts!

Blizzard dropped a rather sizable portion of content on our plates this week as the talent trees for several classes (Shaman, Rogue, Priest, Druid) were revealed. This is our first glance at what the Cataclysm really will do to our playstyles and characters, something that we’ve all been anxiously awaiting since Blizzcon 2009. [Thanks, MMO-Champion!]

Top to Bottom

The Restoration tree was barely touched. All the familiar talents are still remaining and the tree looks like it was copy-pasted, but the subtle changes that do exist are very, very interesting.

Focused Insight (5 ranks available) – After casting any shock spell, your next heal’s mana cost is reduced by 15/30/45/60/75% of the cost of the shock spell, and its healing effectiveness is increased by 5/10/15/20/25%

This new talent, taking the place of our good friend Tidal Mastery (5% crit to healing and lightning spells), will show its true benefit further down this list. This gives restoration Shamans a little something for the Frost Shock kiting that we tend to do whether by design or necessity.

I talked some time ago when the first preview was released about how Blizzard needed to give healers a way to show some skill, show some creativity, and simply have more choices.  As it stands now, I don’t see this becoming part of a “rotation” (as if those exist for healers). The shock isn’t free, it just reduces the cost of the next heal[edit: Wind Shear is not a shock dur].

Edit:

A high tree PvP talent, the Resto tree is already heavy PvE, so I can’t complain too much about this considering Blizzard’s goals.

Ancestral Resolve (2 ranks available) – Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 5/10%.

Awesome new talent for raiders…right now. In Cataclysm? I can’t be too sure. Right now I spend 90%+ of my time in combat casting. Some fights a little less and some 100%. The ticking auras and the massive amounts of RSTS damage that exist make this basically a flat 10% reduction in damage across the board for Shamans (again, in WotLK). Cataclysm is showing its hand currently as having a different damage output model than what we’re seeing in Icecrown Citadel.

If I’m supposed to pick and choose my heals to cast, so as not to immediately run out of mana, will I get a big benefit from this talent? My thoughts are still up in the air and I don’t think I’ll be able to make up my mind until I’m in a Cataclysm raid. Even if you don’t actually finish the cast, you will still “activate” this talent. Pre-casting and canceling spells will once again be very important in the healing game. The kicker is that you might not actually be taking any damage, and if you aren’t this talent has given you nothing.

Tidal Waves

It will now bump Healing Wave into the 10% category and insert Greater Healing Wave into the +20% buff when active.

Earth Shield and Riptide

Their function remains the same, but the devil is in the details. Same as always except we get a little taste of the mana and spell changes. The base for this spell now reads as costing 8635 Mana and healing at a base 1609 per charge. Putting that into perspective, the current spell heals for a base of 150. Using this spell after a shock would reduce its cost down to 2158 (-6476 mana)! Riptide, according to the post, is 6590 mana (1647 with Focused Insight).

For me, the current numbers for those two spells are as follows (4172 Base Mana):

Earth Shield (15% of Base Mana):626

Riptide (18% of Base Mana): 751

Yowza.

We still like enhancement as our sub spec

The top of the enhancement tree was completely redone.  It looks more like the Arms tree now with 4 tiers of no dependent talents. You have your traditional entry point into the tree with Ancestral Knowledge (still essential), but then you’ll notice 2 things: Enhancement Totems has moved down to tier 2 and Toughness has been moved up to Tier 3, putting into the “attractive for restoration” range. Also sitting pretty in Tier 4 is

Ancestral Swiftness – Increases movement speed by 5/10/15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

Movement speed increase is an essential raiding buff to have. I recommend it to everyone, dps, healing, or tanking, for their boot enchant if they don’t have an talent/inherent ability to make them faster. That little bit of extra speed always pays off. Maybe we can fit this into a resto build with those 5 extra talents…stay tuned…

Noticeable missing is Thundering Strikes. Like it’s sister talent in the restoration tree for Healing/Lightning, this crit increasing talent now has gone the way of the Dodo and leaves Flurry as a talent with no requirements other than 15 invested talent points.

Make the Forest Turn To Wine

My first go at a level 85 build looks like this: [Build 1]

Looking over it I have some second thoughts. Improved Reincarnation is good utility, but not essential. It’s another talent similar to Ancestral Resolve in that it has 0 benefit if you don’t die. It’s an insurance talent, and one I’ve come to like a lot in Wrath of the Lich King. We also don’t really need it to get to Tier 3 so let’s leave it out for now.

+2 Talent Points

Focused insight is something that I sort of adopted because it looks really cool from a 10 man raiding perspective where utility can sometimes be at a minimum. Using some shocks to help gives you a good reward. However, it’s 5 talent points and maybe we can use those somewhere else. We’ve already made it to Tier 4, so let’s fill move on down to Tier 5.

+5 Points (7 Total)

We’ve only spent 4 points in tier 5 so we’ll need to tack on a point back to Focused Insight so we can move down and pick up Purification, a free pass into Tier 7.

-1 Point (6 total)

From here on down we meet head on with a lot of essential stuff, and we still need to get down to Riptide. Mana Tide and Cleanse Spirit are only 1 point talents, we’ll need to back track and put more into something else to move down. We need 3 so let’s put them into Focused Insight.

-3 Points (3 Total)

If we’re looking at the most important 5 points in Tier 8, we’re definitely going for Improved Chain Heal and Nature’s Blessing, no question.  Tier 9 only gives us 3 points from Earth Shield Talents. We left Blessing of the Eternals off our previous Tier so we’ll use that to move down all the way and grab Riptide. Giving us this bare bones talent tree: [Build 2]

We’ll throw in 8 essential points in enhancement (5 for Ancestral Knowledge and 3 for Improved Shields). We have 17 points to spend at the candy store. Where do we spend them?

This is where I spent mine: [Link 3]

That’s a lot of talking to basically say that I moved 4 points, but I wanted to really see what I could get away with in the new “wider with more points” model. As it turns out. Restoration Shamans will have about 17 points to use on utility talents. Throwing 5 more into enhancement to get Elemental Weapons drops that number down even further (12 for those that hate math). There are a lot of considerations for which you would like to use.

  • The 5 points spent in Focused Insight could be moved to Threat Reduction, Pushback Prevention, and even into Ancestral Resolve depending on the situation. None of those are deal breakers from a pure output perspective in an unmolested healing environment.
  • Let’s also not forget some more points could be placed into toughness or silence reduction depending on the fight, again, without impeding your maximum output (unless I missed something, which is fairly likely).

It’s going to be a fun time playing with some of this utility before Cataclysm really hits, and hopefully we’ll get a little preview of exactly what our mana pools in relation to our healing spells will be looking like with the beta coming in the next month or two.

Miscellany

  • We got our Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers last reset, woo hoo!
  • Decided to finally dive into the world of Twitter a mere 5 or 6 years after everyone else it seems. You can find me @borskzj. Only about…25% of my tweets are related to WoW, but that will likely change as the beta ramps up.
  • The Starcraft 2 beta ended for a while this past week, boredom has once again consumed me as I look for more obscure films to take in (No obsucure, but go see Splice if you haven’t).
  • A-Team. Expendables. Inception.
  • The long wait for football season has officially begun with Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks lifting the cup for the first time in 49 years. Suck it, Flyers.
  • Once I finish the last couple site banners, I’ll post them all here for everyone to look at without having to click our web-page a bunch of times.

Edits:

I was sort of living in the past when Earth Shock still had an interrupt component. There was bound to be something I would gloss over in this preview! That puts focused insigt squarely in the PvP corner as the chances to use a shock in a raid on a regular basis are pretty small.

As of right now, the talents aren’t really in a state that prevents restoration shaman from getting everything so I’m quite certain they’ll be throwing a lot more changes our way. If they don’t, then that’s a definite advantage to Shamans.


Twitter Discussion: Relics Getting Overhaul In Cataclysm

16 April, 2010

Nothing better than sitting on your couch doing the two things you love the most: watching NHL Playoff Hockey and writing about WoW. Blizzard held one of their (in)famous dev chats on Twitter today and answered some interesting questions about the soon-to-be-in-beta Cataclysm Expansion.

Via MMO-Champion:

Q: Will relics and wands be getting any new attention in Cataclysm?
A: With relics, the plan is to make them class agnostic. In other words, there might be a +strength relic that a death knight or paladin might want to equip. We think that will let us add more of them to the game without them being so specialized. They will feel more like wands.

How to make wands and relics a bigger part of gameplay is something we’ve had many, many discussions on. Ultimately though we’d rather see warlocks, mages and priests casting their spells, not zapping someone with a wand. In Cataclysm we don’t expect to see much wanding, even at lower level.

A bittersweet change that has been long overdue. Relics have been an enigma since their inception; wasting spots on loot tables and basically having raiders question their value every tier. Through Wrath of the Lich King their usefulness definitely increased (some specs even had a couple situational options), but until ICC they remained on loot tables. Every time a relic dropped instead of a weapon you wanted to kick a small animal.

The double-edged sword of relics was also, as the Blue pointed out, the necessity of having the buff on you. If you aren’t using it with the intended spell (i.e. proc on Chain Heal, or stack with Riptide), then it’s value drops to nil. Gear dictating your play-style is poor design.

Calm down, rogues, this isn’t the same as having to use daggers or swords. It would be more like having a rogue-only bow that provided a best-in-slot advantage to fist weapons. Even if you wanted to use daggers and liked mutilate, you would be have to use fist weapons or use an inferior ranged weapon. This never got that extreme with relics for Shamans because I don’t think anyone ever refused to use Chain Heal. The Riptide totem really pushed this to the limit though. Having a 3 stack buff on a tightly-cooldowned ability puts pressure on you to keep that buff up instead of focusing on your job (ya know, healing).

The new relics will be focused on a stat grouping, bringing them more in line with wands. I’d suspect that the relics that are actually focused on class abilities will be obtained via quests or at low levels.

What makes this change to a more “agnostic” relic style bittersweet is the overall value of the relic itself. In many cases, the procs that some relics provided were actually better than their wand counter-parts. For those of us using relics, it’s a sucky change, for our cloth wearing raid mates, it’s a nice balancing act.

Neither wands or relics really add anything more than what a ring or neck does so that whole “Blizzard is making everything the same” argument looks rather silly. The goal of Cataclysm is clear: make playing the game fun by actually playing the game. That’s redundant, but having to battle spreadsheets to get the most out of your character is not fun. Sorry.

Other than the relic news, this was a fairly innocuous chat. Things like 310% mount speed for all your mounts and a new raid healing UI were all announced at Blizzcon.

The waiting game for Cata-Beta has begun.

(Blizzard still has yet to repay me for not allowing Worgen to become shaman and making new totem graphics for everyone. New totems to replace my warped plastic lamp bases would be nice)

NHL Playoffs

What a game played by the Nashville Predators! I’m a big fan of Patrick Kane and the ‘Hawks, but Barry Trotz’ frustrating, patient system paid off and a janitor-style goal near the middle of the third sealed the upset away victory for the Preds. The Predators are looking to win their first playoff series over conference favorite Chicago. Things could get verrrryyyy interesting.

As I sit here writing this the Wings are down by 1 to Phoenix, who is looking to take a 2-0 lead.  As we all know, a playoff series hasn’t started until the home team loses. The Joe is a very tough place to play and we’ll see how the young ‘Yotes do in the D.

Update: In the time it took me to finish up this post, it’s now 3-2. Wolski answered Zetterberg. Lombardi answered Datsyuk. I love playoff hockey.

Update 2: They wouldn’t even let me publish. Filppula scores to tie the game at 3. Ridiculous

Sidney Crosby Does It All.

The Devils, expectedly, even up their series with a win over Phily. Now they make their way across the Delaware River into the Insane AsylumWachovia Center. Powers Booth needs to go all Sudden Death on that place this Sunday (Coming soon on Video Cassette and LASERDISC!).


Dispelling Bee

6 April, 2010

Everyone’s got to have the sickness, because everyone seems to need the cure.–Metallica

A significant feature/change in Cataclysm was released yesterday as The Blues announced a complete overhaul of the dispel system. At the moment dispelling anything is an after-thought. The game prevents you from making a poor decision and provides some classes with a significant advantage when it comes to dispelling/cleansing. It’s not that it’s clunky, it’s just that outside of The Lich King encounter there just isn’t anything interesting about it. [MMO-Champion]

Putting my arms around these changes from a raiding point of view isn’t really possible at the moment. The current content is designed around the current system, so spending time wondering how the hell we’re going to do certain encounters is pointless. As stated by Zarhym, encounters in Cataclysm will be designed with these changes in mind.

Concerning Shamans

Another expansion, another lost totem. To look at it from a completely objective point of view, Shamans have a clear advantage over basically every class when it comes to dispelling. The only thing we can’t cleanse is magic, and for resto shamans, we can press one button to remove three effects. Couple that with ability to drop a party-wide, pulsing, dual-debuff cleanse, and you can really take care of the raid using very few global cooldowns.

That particular mechanic (one dispel to cure them all) will likely, and should, be given to the other classes.

Giving us the ability to cleanse magic defensively adds a different wrinkle to the discussion that I haven’t seen out there yet (I might not have looked hard enough). That is the impact these changes have on Tremor Totem. A Tremor Totem acts a mass-dispel for fear that you don’t really choose when to cast. A smart Shaman can line up their totem pulse to break a fear immediately, but it’s the same sort of thing that the poison/disease cleansing does, in a way.

Currently, there are only two fights that I drop either of these totems: Tremor Totem on Blood Queen and disease cleansing on Dreamwalker for Gut Spray. It might be a conscious decision to move away from a lot of AoE fear/Poison novas or might be a result of the setting.

Using a Tremor Totem or Cleansing Totem never felt like much of an interesting play choice to begin with. With the latter, you’ll often times find yourself waiting on the first tick when it would have been easy enough just to clique the debuff off. Basically it always boiled down to group setup and number of Shamans. When a fight gets easier as you add more than 3 of a class, something is broken.

A hate to talk speculatively, but I’m going to guess Tremor will be addressed in our class preview tomorrow. The good thing is, it’s impact on the raid can be expanded or contracted easily by the encounter designers. Limiting who gets feared (maybe the tank and melee), gives the players the option to use a couple different fear breaking tactics: Warrior, Fear Ward, Totem, Cleanse. Everyone will have a magic cleanse so that takes the shine off Tremor Totem since you can now remove the fear on demand.

That seems like too limiting a set of choices for a 10 man, and might be why you haven’t seen any real important AoE fears at all in Icecrown Citadel.

Shields Up, Weapons Online

The turn-around time on seeing our changes isn’t too long. I’ll be sure to have a rather lengthy write-up on it when tomorrow rolls around, but there isn’t a whole lot that I’m unhappy with at the moment for Restoration. Shamans could certainly use a huge boost in the AoE department. Fire Nova wasn’t all that great and is nothing when compared to…every other class.

Shamans to me have always been a class that is extremely flexible and is used to really support and enhance your group setup (bad pun). When I go into a raid or party I can examine what’s there and tailor my totem setup/healing style to suit the needs of the party. No other class really gets that kind of flexibility (from a healer perspective).

Hopefully we’ll see some wider trees with some really cool utility. Something that I would like to see, but I doubt they’ll implement is a use for Paladin and Shaman shields other than stat toys (non-tanks for Paladins). If we’re going to have shields to use, why not have them provide something to the raid? A personal survival cooldown or maybe the external raid mitigation cooldown coming in Cataclysm would be a good fit.

Using a shield is one of the defining characteristics of a shaman, not unlike totems or chain heal. Seeing Shamans using staffs and caster off-hand frills just looks silly (but practical, nonetheless). If we’re going to keep the equipment diverse, we might as well utilize it in some fashion and make shields more attractive. Cloth wearers have a hard enough time gearing up as it is without Shamans taking their stuff.

Tomorrow’s release looms large, and I’ll be sure to have a write-up complaining or praising some parts of it. The important thing to note for everyone is IT’S ONLY BETA. CALM DOWN! [MMO-Champion]

Oh, and can we get Spirit Link from pre-Wrath beta back? That’s something I could dig.

Wugan’s take on the PvE and PvP implications over at Flow.


Your step-stool is now 5% higher.

30 March, 2010

[Source: MMO-Champion]

My bold prediction was correct. We’re riding into Icecrown tonight with 5% more damage, health, and healing. Unfortunately that means we’ll also be dealing with up to 200% more lag.


HHM: Recruitmentface

24 March, 2010

A guild should accept a recruit as a body accepts a transplanted organ: Full rejection or full acceptance, becoming a contributing part of the whole

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in its own page for easy access after it runs its course. Previous entries: Attendancegut.

Recruitment is one of the most talked about and debated guild relations topics out there. Nearly every guild is recruiting someone. So if everyone is doing it, how do you stand out and/or be effective in pulling in quality players? Guides on the details of making an “effective recruitment post” are only useful to a certain point. Sure it’s always a good idea to present your guild information in an intelligible way and be truthful about your needs, but there are so many recruitment threads out there. When a recruit pulls up a realm forum or recruitment thread he’s looking at the following parameters:

  1. Minimum progression: Anyone that is looking to move to another raiding guild has some sense of where they want to be and what they’re capable of (if only subconsciously).
  2. Raid Times/Attendance Req’s: Does their availability match with yours?
  3. Potential Raiding Chances: What is the likelihood that they’ll get into raids?
  4. (On Server Only) Friends/Family: Often if a guild disbands or a player is looking to move, he’ll go to the guild where most of his on-server friends play. It doesn’t matter if the guild is at the top or bottom, they’re looking for a familiar place with familiar faces.

That’s it. Anything else like handing out free repair bills or double coupons up to $0.99 are just nice little perks. If the potential recruit does not think your guild can meet the above three parameters, it doesn’t matter.

Recruitmentface

This doesn’t just mean bumping recruitment posts and spamming trade chat, it also means properly managing your raid roster for various compositions and full tank/healer coverage. The night you can’t do Blood Queen because you have no +hit buff available is a wipe on Recruitmentface.

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