Black Markets in Pandaria!

Black Markets in Pandaria!

Just saw news of this. There’s a Black Market in the game.

They sell really expensive, random stuff. Apparently the Black Market has stuff like:

  • Tier 3 gear
  • Mounts like Ashes of Alar
  • Pets
  • Really rare, hard to find crafting recipes

In other Priest changes:

I will now use Glyph of Lightspring instead. Nice addition! No more having to forcibly remind people to click the damn Lightwell!

Glyph of Val’kyr is now going to be on my number one list of minor glyphs to add to my Priest. I am pleased!

Et toi? (And you?)

Spirit Shell, Will We Find a Use For You?

Spirit Shell, Will We Find a Use For You?

Gryphonheart posted an awesome idea for Spirit Shell. Have Spirit Shell trigger the original Spirit hell’s healing component when it lands.

Honestly, I don’t really get why Blizzard is opting to cap Spirit Shell stacking when it’s mechanics seem to better lend themselves towards making new Spirit Shell casts on a target force the previous shield to expire (and thereby instantly trigger its healing effect) instead. That kind of system just makes more sense to me, since it would effectively cap the absorption numbers while allowing Disc Priests to more effectively use Spirit Shell as a direct analogue to Greater Heal.

At present, the current beta build has Spirit Shell replace Greater Heal. What I’ve been doing is dropping Spirit Shell on tanks before following it up with Heal and Flash Heal to get their health up. Forgot to weave in Penance.

Whoops.

Some of the difficulties you’ll find with Spirit Shell is that the time it takes for the heal to kick in is too long. 8 Seconds? Feels like an eternity. Cut duration down and give that a go or give us a way to detonate the shell at will to trigger the healing component whenever we want.

Besides that, we should be seeing another Spirit Shell change kicking in soon it seems.

In the (hopefully) next build you receive, Discipline again has Greater Heal, Strength of Soul, and Power Word: Shield with no cooldown. We are also trying something really different with Spirit Shell. Let us know how it feels.

Discipline Feedback

Guest Post: Resto Druid Symbiotics

Guest Post: Resto Druid Symbiotics

This is a guest post by Arajal about a more in-depth look at Symbiosis.

The WoW blogosphere has been abuzz with talk about druids’ new spell, Symbiosis. Needless to say, it’s something that has many druids excited. I’m no exception to this; as both a resto druid and a healing coordinator, I’m especially interested in Symbiosis’ possibilities. I figured I’d throw up another guest post that looks at the practicality of each synergy a resto druid has available to them through this spell.
Note: We’re still in early beta, and these spells are more than likely to change. I’ll re-evaluate new combinations as they come up, but for the time being, this is what I have to work with.

Death Knights

Linking Symbiosis with our disease-wielding undead friends will yield Icebound Fortitude for a resto druid. This is a link I could see having strong benefits in both PvE and PvP, moreso for the latter.

In PvE, I wouldn’t be surprised to see bosses equipped with a random single-target or group stun ability, in which case using Icebound Fortitude would open a window for healing that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Plus, the 20% damage reduction is like a second Ironbark (albeit on a slightly longer cooldown and only self-cast like Barkskin).

In PvP, this link’s benefit shines far more brightly. Having a cooldown to make yourself  immune to stuns and drop incoming damage by 20% would help immensely while being focused, something resto druids are likely to be the victims of. Even while not being focused, being immune to stuns during clutch healing situations can be the difference between a win and a loss.

As for what our death knight friends get out of the link, Wild Mushroom: Plague is a very nice ability for spreading diseases without expending runes, freeing them up for more DPS abilities. Looking over at Blood’s spell, they get a very nice health cooldown through Might of Ursoc that not only increases total health by 15% (similar to Vampiric Blood), but also brings their health up to 15% should they need it.

Hunter

Linking with a hunter gives a resto druid Deterrence. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the better Symbiosis links if you’re concerned with both self-preservation and mobility. While it won’t clear any debuffs you have, it will prevent any incoming damage and suppress any damage you are taking by 30%, giving other healers some breathing room to help you out. Unfortunately, it currently does prevent you from casting any heals of your own, but being able to gain temporary immunity to damage while still retaining the ability to move is worth the trade off in my eyes.

Deterrence in PvP will definitely be a boon to any healing druid should they find themself there. Being able to “deter” (see what I did there?) any DPS trying to focus you down can have a huge impact on the tide of battle. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, it will still give you some breathing time to figure out your next move. Heck, you could just use it for a few seconds to keep the pressure off, then cancel the buff and go back to healing.

Hunters get Dash out of the deal, and while they already have spells like Disengage and Aspect of the Cheetah or Aspect of the Pack, it still gives them one more tool to get from point A to point B in critical situations. I know the hunter in my normal raid group would love a new way to get around the field quickly.

Mage

If total self-preservation is your cup of tea, link with a mage. A resto druid gets Ice Block from using Symbiosis on a mage, and aside from Divine Shield (which our fellow kitties get from linking with a paladin), Ice Block is the best way to survive in clutch situations. The number of times an Ice Block could have saved our raid or at least helped in wipe recovery are innumerable.

Much like Deterrence from hunters, Ice Block is a very useful spell to use when healing is at a premium in PvE or you’re getting focused in PvP. The benefit of taking Ice Block over Deterrence is the removal of all debuffs and total immunity to all harmful effects, but at the cost of mobility. While popping Ice Block in a circle of fire may save your life, not being able to move out of it while suppressing the damage may cause you some issues a few seconds later. That being said, being able to become completely immune to all incoming damage and effects for a few seconds is nothing to turn your nose up at.

As for the mage, Healing Touch is something they may or may not get any benefit out of. It all depends on if they decide to use it or not. In PvE, being able to heal and otherwise take some pressure off the healers is something both our raid leader and myself stress the DPS to consider. In PvP, casting Healing Touch is a very good way to keep afloat in chaotic free-for-alls or to eat a spell interrupt (since Healing Touch is the only nature school spell they’ll have, they’ll be free to cast other spells unhindered).

Monk

Unfortunately, linking with a monk yields nothing for the druid right now. It’ll be interesting to see what Blizzard decides to give us in future beta builds.

On the other side of the link, Monks get some fairly nice abilities from our arsenal. Brewmaster tanks enjoy Survival Instincts for a 25% reduction of incoming damage for a few seconds, adding to their already formidable array of mitigation and avoidance abilities. Windwalker Monks get to have fun with a mini-Evasion in the form of Savage Defense; something that will undoubtedly be more prevalent in PvP, but I could see PvE applications as well, mainly in the form of emergency off-tanking through Provoke and evasive spells. Our fellow healing monks gain Cyclone, perfect for CC emergencies in PvE or controlling opponents in PvP.

Paladin

The dispel-happy healer in me gets giddy over this one. Casting Symbiosis on a paladin gives a resto druid Cleanse, making our debuff-removal power absolute (I’m not counting bleeds as removable debuffs, since that power is limited to Monks at the moment). The ability to remove all debuffs of any type on a target is immensely useful in both PvE and PvP. While I haven’t yet had the chance to check whether or not Cleanse and Nature’s Cure share a cooldown, even having the ability to clear any debuff type on a whim is incredibly powerful. Just imagine using the combination of debuff-removal spells on a flag carrier in a battleground. That’d be a tide-changer without question.

Holy paladins get Rebirth through Symbiosis, a benefit that depends largely on your raid composition and size. That being said, having another battle rez at your raid’s disposal is never a bad thing. Protection paladins get another defensive cooldown in the form of Barkskin. 10% damage reduction on a one-minute wait time doesn’t sound all that bad.

Retribution paladins currently don’t get anything out of Symbiosis, but that’ll change in future builds.

Priest

It’s payback time indeed, Matt. Resto druids get Leap of Faith (a.k.a. Life Grip) through linking with a priest. All griefing and tomfoolery aside, Leap of Faith will be an incredible tool to add to a mobility-minded healing druid’s toolkit. Pulling a melee out of a nasty cleave or a ranged player away from a void zone are both very pertinent situations for Leap of Faith in PvE. In PvP, ripping your teammates out of harm’s way in arenas or yanking the flag carrier closer to your side of the field in CTF battlegrounds can make a very large impact on the battle at hand. Add the Wild Charge talent into the mix with Leap of Faith and you’ll have a lot of control over the flow of a battle.

While I can get behind shadow priests getting Tranquility, the spell the other two priest specs get is one that leaves me scratching my head a little. I can see a few merits to disc and holy priests being able to use Entangling Roots to stop melee attackers in their tracks, but in the fray of PvP, where damage is flying around and any CC that isn’t a stun or knockdown tends to break, I don’t see roots being used very much, and on the off chance they do get used, they won’t last very long. In PvE, I could see some use for the roots on large trash pulls with melee mobs, but that remains to be seen.

Rogue

Linking with a rogue gives us Evasion, something that I think will go hand-in-hand with our Heart of the Wild level 90 talent. Any healing druid in the “jack-of-all-trades” mindset that intends to be an off-tank for short periods of time will benefit greatly from linking with a rogue. Evasion for a resto druid is like a slightly better version of the Guardian-spec-only ability Savage Defense. This all goes without saying of the benefits in PvP, of course. Using Evasion against a group of melee players trying to focus you down gives you 15 seconds to breath a little and throw heals on yourself.

Similarly to what I mentioned for the Windwalker monk earlier, a rogue with Growl (their Symbiosis spell) can fill the clutch off-tank role through evasion skills, such as Evasion (duh) and Cloak of Shadows, if need be.

Shaman

A resto druid linked with a shaman gains Spiritwalker’s Grace. While it may seem counter-intuitive for a class that relies mainly on instant-cast heals, there are benefits to being able to cast on the move. Anyone who has grabbed feathers while healing during Alysrazor in Firelands will know what I’m talking about. Being able to cast Healing Touch, Regrowth, or even Nourish while on the move can be a deal-breaker in many a situation, be it PvE or PvP. Need to move alongside the tank while he kites the boss? No worries! Flag carrier needs healing heavy healing for all the DoTs stacked on them? Problem solved!

Enhancement and elemental spec shaman get Solar Beam from Symbiosis. Locking down a caster target underneath a Solar Beam can be incredibly useful, especially if they can’t move. Giving this spell to a class that already has a number of slowing and snaring tools at its disposal is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. Also, it gives these specs another interrupt spell as well, should a situation call for it. Flipping over to restoration shaman, Symbiosis gives them Prowl. I haven’t been able to find a shaman to test this with on the beta yet, but if it can be cast while in combat like Vanish, it’ll make a very nice wipe-prevention and/or focus-prevention ability.

Warlock

Linking with a warlock gives a resto druid the neat ability to remove all snares and teleport to their new warlock friend’s Demonic Circle. Of all the current Symbiosis spells healing druids get, this one is my favorite. The entire concept of the Demonic Circle for warlocks has always been appealing to me, and being able to finally play around with the mechanic makes me a very happy druid. In terms of practicality, it’s very similar to the Wild Charge talent while in humanoid form, but with a longer range and snare-breaking capability.

The usefulness of giving a warlock Rejuvenation is no different than the usefulness of giving a mage Healing Touch. Like I said earlier in this post, it all depends on whether your warlock chooses to use the spell or not.

Warrior

Casting Symbiosis on a warrior yields Intimidating Roar. In essence, this gives us a second, slightly different version of one of our level 75 talents, Disorienting Roar, with the disorient effect being replaced by a fear. If you’re a druid that didn’t take the Disorienting Roar talent, this gives you a tool you otherwise don’t have. If you did take Disorienting Roar, this gives you a second defensive AoE spell to play around with. Either way, the spell will be immensely useful in situations where many small adds are spawning faster than the tank can round them up. Resto druids, at least currently, tend to draw a lot of threat during healing-intensive situations where many adds are spawning in quick succession (I’m looking at you, Heroic Spine of Deathwing). Having Intimidating Roar in both PvE and PvP is a great way to keep attackers off for a few seconds while you heal yourself back into good health. Granted, if your attackers are immune to fear, you may run into some issues with this spell.

On the flip side of the link, warriors get some nice tools added to their kits. Arms and fury specs get Stampeding Roar, which is an amazing mobility spell for both themselves and others, no matter the situation. Protection warriors get Frenzied Regeneration, instantly convert the rage cost into health.

That wraps up my post. Thanks for reading!

New Priest talents, Glyph of Dark Binding, and Tier 14 healing bonuses

New Priest talents, Glyph of Dark Binding, and Tier 14 healing bonuses

Mindbender is the third level 45 talent. It was a giant question mark before, but it looks like it’s another pseudo-Shadowfiend. On a 4 minute cooldown, the Priest creates a Mindbender to attack the target and the Priest receives 6% mana back when Mindbender attacks. It’s only up for 15 seconds.

Glyph of Dark Binding: You can now cast Binding Heal, Flash Heal, and Renew without cancelling Shadowform. Nice! I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a super, OP utility glyph. I wouldn’t call it a requirement or anything yet. But if it were up to me, I’d ensure every Shadow Priest in my guild had it on progression as a just in case measure.

Glyph of Penance: Increases the mana cost of Penance by 20% but allows Penance to be cast while moving. I can accept this tradeoff.

Glyph of Fade: Your Fade ability now also reduces all damage taken by 10%. Fade just became much more attractive.

Spectral Guise does not appear to be our level 87 spell (Watch it in action here). You can now find it as a level 60 talent (Check WoWhead’s talent calculator). Wonder what replaced it. Edit: According to Derevka, Void Shift is now learned at level 87.

Divine Insight has changed. It’s no longer just an improved Serendipity.

Original

Divine Insight
Serendipity
When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 20% and mana cost reduced by 10%. Stacks up to 2 times. Lasts 20 sec.

Shadow of Death
When your Mind Blast deals damage, there is a 40% chance your next Shadow Word: Death will treat the target as if it were below 20% health.

New

Divine Insight
Discipline:
When you cast Spirit Shell, there is a 40% chance your next Power Word: Shield will both ignore and not cause the Weakened Soul effect.

Holy:
When you cast Greater Heal, there is a 40% chance your next Prayer of Mending will not trigger its cooldown, and will jump to each target instantly

Shadow:
When your Mind Blast deals damage, there is a 40% chance your next Shadow Word: Death will treat the target as if it were below 20% health.

Can’t wait for beta servers to come back online. I want to check out Mindbender. I’m sure it’ll be mind blowing.

Have to admit, I’m a little sad panda at the loss of Serendipity. Maybe they made it a base line or something but I haven’t seen anything that indicates that yet.

Tier 14 bonuses

Priest

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Flash Heal by 10%
  • 4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of Penance by 4 seconds and reduces the cooldown of Circle of Healing by 4 seconds.

Shaman

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Greater Healing wave by 10%
  • 4 piece: Your Tidal Waves ability now grants 1 additional charge each time it is triggered.

Paladin

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of your Holy Radiance spell by 10% (Overpowered).
  • 4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1 second.

Druid

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Rejuvenation by 10%
  • 4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of Swiftmend by 3 seconds.

Monk

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Surging Mist by 10%
  • 4 piece: Your Chi Wave spell will now heal 1 additional target

Shaman healing so far in Cataclysm

I’ve been spending as much time as I can in the Cataclysm beta, and trying to maximize as much of my time as possible healing. I mean, after all that’s what I get paid for right?

You may be asking yourself what this song has to do with this post? Honestly a lot of folks think that shaman healing has gone down hill and have thrown their hands up and walked away. Some of these folks just think healing in general come Cataclysm will be so broken it wont even be worth it. I’m here to assuage at least the shaman portion of that fear.

Mana and triage

For as long as shaman have been healing we’ve been a bit of a mana battery. Between our passive regen and our spells and abilities that are geared towards doing nothing but giving us mana back. The problem is that with Wrath most healers were mana batteries. Rarely running out of mana means you can heal almost perpetually through the vast majority of non hard-mode encounters.

This makes for very boring healing, and that is something that the developers have been trying to tackle for a long time now. With the reduction of mana, and the increase in the cost of several of our healing spells, it forces us to triage our heals and essentially move away from mothering a group. Most people have seen this as a fault of the new healing model. I, however, find it incredibly liberating. Granted shaman have fared better than most other classes in this regard because  we are technically the healing model for cataclysm (or so the blues tell us). We’ve been given the tools to heal effectively, and balanced to a point where we don’t over power every encounter and actively have to pay attention and manage healing spell choices. I don’t run OOM unless people are doing very, very stupid things and I’m forced to compensate (a la a mage hugging a dragon cause he though it was cute and needed a hug).

Right now if you yell at someone to not “stand in the bad” a lot of the time they will simply ignore you since healers can just dump heals on them and get through the vast majority of effects out there. If you’ve done any PUGing before you’ll have found it at least once. That hunter that doesn’t want to get out of the fire so he can squeeze off a couple more shots to up their DPS while you dump heals on them. They expect it, and if they don’t get it you are instantly a “bad healer”.

I’ve talked about this on several of my wow.com articles lately, but there is an emphasis on personal accountability. Even if you have the mana to heal someone, they may still die. Pardon my french for a minute here, but bad shit really is bad and players should avoid it at all costs. This includes Tanks and Healers. Doing the dungeon finder in the beta has gotten to a point where players know now they have to manage their own health a little bit, and the curve has gone from nightmare healing to perfectly manageable. If the changes stand and force healers to triage the heals, it will force a shift in the perception of healers. Not saying there wont be players who yell at the healer when they die (those jerks will always exist, sadly) but I think most people will come to stop expecting you to be the only one responsible for their health.

The impression that I get

Overall, healing on the shaman in the beta has been some of the most fun I’ve had to date. I absolutely love having to pick which heal is best for the situation and love the fact that not EVERYTHING is about Chain Heal or stacking pure haste. Honestly I think shaman have the perfect number of healing tools to work with in any given fight. Every new ability compliments each other, old abilities have been given just enough of a tweak to make them interesting. Overall it feels fresh, new and exciting.

I don’t feel over powered, but I do feel capable. I don’t feel like there is anything I can’t do without a little hard work. I still get a twinge at certain bosses in the 5 mans, knowing what they can do and looking at a group composition planning my heals for which ability. It’s exciting and I feel like a tactician rather than a small child playing whack-a-mole at the local carnival being swindled out of my $2. I mean I’ll always be a healer, but it feels like I’m falling in love with it all over again. There’s excitement and consequence and every death isn’t all just on me. I know that priests and shaman have fared better than paladin and druid healers so far, but I think in the end it will balance out and everyone will have as much fun as I do right now.

In conclusion, at least for shaman, the world is not ending. The sky is not falling, and ultimately we’ll be better off in the end it seems. GO TEAM SPIRIT FINGERS!

So I’m going to spend my weekend healing 5-mans and recording videos, anything specific you guys want to see from the beta? I’ll do what I can to provide!

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Reinvigorate Your Blogging Self with These Ideas

Reinvigorate Your Blogging Self with These Ideas

reinvigorate-blog-ideas

New site design is coming along extremely well and I’m very pleased with the progress so far. It’ll definitely go up within the month. Check the bottom of the post for a sneak preview. School begins for me tomorrow which means I’ll have more time to write since I won’t be working as much.

So what’s up, fellow bloggers? Got the no-beta-key blues? Running out of things to blog about? It is definitely the calm before the storm. I know several blogs are hitting that hibernation period where they’re just waiting it out until there is stuff to write about. I suffer from the opposite. I have too many ideas but not enough time. But if you’re stuck and still learning for something to blog about, let me try to help!

I have something called an inspiration file. Its basically a jumping point that I use whenever I’m in need of post ideas. Any idea I ever have whether it is good or bad goes in there. If I hit a snag one day where I’m stuck, I’ll pop it open and see what’s in there that I can use. Sometimes you can chain one post idea into another idea or break it down into multiple posts. I’ve had a habit in the past of trying to be too complete when it comes to posts and this is one way of breaking them up into smaller chunks.

Don’t even worry about credit. Take an idea, twist it, manipulate it, turn it into whatever you like. Its yours to use and abuse as you see fit. Let it grow and evolve.

Your guild

It doesn’t matter if you’re a GM, an officer or just a guy within the ranks. There will always be players interested in policy making and guild experience as a whole. Are you satisfied with it? Any changes you’d like to see made? What are some other day to day observations?

  • Making Roster Changes
  • Lessons You’ve Learned
  • A Shift in Loot Policy
  • How not to Evaluate Potential Applicants
  • A Day in the Life of Your Guild
  • How to Break the Ice with New Players

Your Class

Everyone loves to read about class news and class mechanics. With the expansion months away, there is still time to teach new players (or alts) the fundamentals of playing. Or heck, if you have a burning question about a specific class, throw it to your readers. There just might be someone out there who can give you a hand with it.

  • How to be an Expert <Class>
  • Being a <Class> in a Raid
  • Mastering <Class> in PvP
  • Common <Class> Mistakes
  • Why You Picked Your Class Instead of a Different Class

You

Time to dive into some introspection. This could range to just about anything in regards to you. Is there something you wanted to get around to but couldn’t? For me it would playing Shadow. No matter how much I try, I just can’t seem to do it. Maybe you’ve had a problem during your experience in WoW like an argument with a player or managing loot. How did you resolve it?

  • Things You Wish You Knew How to do but Couldn’t
  • One Shotting Procrastination: Your To-Do List Before the Expansion
  • A Personal Guide to Staying Happy in WoW: What Does it for You
  • Are You a Socially Responsible Guildie?
  • 5 Tips to Never Be Late for a Raid Again
  • Managing Your Server Reputation

Your blog

Your blog is your soap box. Take good care of it! What are your future goals? What type of readers are you appealing to? If you’ve been around for a few months and have developed a steady readership (which doesn’t have to be enormous mind you), ask them what they want to read about. Do not under any circumstances accept “Whatever you want” as an answer. At the same time, it does have to be a topic you’re interested in writing. Lastly, ask yourself if you would read your own blog. If you wouldn’t, figure out why.

  • Upcoming blog plans
  • What Would You Readers Want to Read About?
  • Your Blogging Goals

Fill in the blanks

Here are a few generic ideas that you can take and apply to any topic of your choice. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and come up with something, right?

  • 15 Tips to …
  • The Truth Behind …
  • How I did …
  • How to <do something> Like …
  • A Constructive Criticism of …
  • Myths About …

Other miscellaneous ideas

Tell a story about yourself or your activities. Everyone loves reading about humorous stories (They Laugh When I Wanted to DPS – But When I Rolled a Ret Pally…).

Interview someone in the community. There’s a whole slew of intriguing personalities around the WoW blogosphere (or podcast crews as well). What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they say no? Plus its a great way to develop friendships. I should fire up my 20 questions series again. Those were so much fun.

Ask a question. You never know what will happen when you ask a question and let the comments write the post itself. Then you can cherry pick the most insightful and turn that into a post.

Bonus: 10 Questions for a Blizzard Developer. You have a chance to sit down with a dev. What do you ask them? What do you say to them?

If you’re really stuck for post ideas, you could also write your own idea post ;). Anyway, this list is just the tip of the ice berg. I didn’t even go into detail about addons or raiding yet.

But hey, if you do take inspiration from any of these, drop me a line. I’d love to read it (and link to it in the future)!

And yes, the preview I promised you.

wom-50

All I can say is just wait until the entire thing is ready. WoM 5.0 is almost here!

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

When Blizzard first announced the changes they were making to Tree of Life in the upcoming expansion, the Druid community experienced its own mini-Cataclysm. The main gripe seems to be more about the loss of another “true” Druid form, than it is about the mechanics of the talent. The reasoning behind the Dev’s decision  is that being one of the maybe two capstone abilities for Resto Druids, Tree of Life was pretty boring. Yes, it gave you a new form, but the benefits of the talent in its Wrath iteration read like a list of lower tier talents. Assuming the math supports the Blue’s statements, the reduced mana and increased healing it offers only bring us in line with other healing classes. Not really the huge benefit you expect from a must have talent.

The new version of Tree of Life as it is in the beta, including the recent announcement that the snare is probably being removed, provides quite a few situational uses for Resto Druids, and makes the talent far more useful and class defining than before. First, lets take a look at what the new talent brings to the table:

Tree of Life:

Shapeshift into the Tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120% but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 sec. 5 minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath.

Enhanced Spells:

Wild Growth: affects 2 more targets
Regrowth: instant cast
Lifebloom: 2 applications of Lifebloom
Entangling Roots: instant cast and increase damage by 200%
Wrath: cast time reduced by 50% damage increase by 30%
Thorns: not yet implemented

The first change may not be apparent in the tooltip. The 15% increase to healing should be a larger boost than what you are currently seeing in Wrath, due to the fact that Druid healing power is being brought closer in line with the other classes without Tree of Life figured in. Because it is now a cooldown, the healing bonus can have more impact than if it was a passive bonus like the current live version. But the most obvious, and interesting, change is the enhanced spells. Not only do some our healing spells benefit from this, but some Balance spells as well.

Where I think that the new version really shines is how many different uses I can see for it. It truly went from a set it and forget it toggle, to a spell that can give you different advantages depending on when and how you use it. I really see it adding

Playing Catchup

The most obvious way I see Tree of Life being used, is as a way to catch up when massive damage or some other raid situation causes you to fall behind in healing. The ability  to heal extra Wild Growth Targets, complete a 3 stack of Lifebloom much faster, and cast Regrowth instantly, all combine for a very powerful boost to your healing when damage gets out of control. This also seems to apply to both raid and tank healing, assuming Druids are healing in Cataclysm the way the devs have been describing.

Healing On The Move

Druids are already known for being good healers on the move, but this makes us even better. By using this cooldown in high movement situations, you will add Regrowth to your instant cast arsenal, while also increasing the effectiveness of Lifebloom, and hitting more targets with Wild Growth. While the design of Cataclysm raids will determine how often you will use Tree of Life in this manner, I am sure there will be plenty of times that you are the only healer capable of truly healing on the move. This should be a good way to make up for other classes deficiencies in this area.

Damage Boost When You’re Not Healing

One of the design trends for healers in Cataclysm seems to be dealing damage when your not healing. So the bump to a few of our damaging abilities is in interesting touch. Now I am not saying this is an effective use of your cooldown in most raid situations. However, in times in which you outgear content, or in 5 man dungeons where it is not necessary to have the increased healing every boss, this can give us a nice DPS bump. I see this as more of a fun way to use the cooldown, but who knows what Blizz has in mind for the new raids.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

Arguably there is no area of the game better suited for situational abilities than Arenas and Battlegrounds. Where this talent truly benefits you in PVP is with its flexibility. Especially with the removal of the snare component taking away the one drawback that would keep you from using it in PVP. Lots of team members taking damage in a 5v5? Pop it and go to town with your raid healing spells. Someone being focused fired? Use it for the extra boost that can often be the difference between winning and losing. Got that last opponent on the ropes and want to help finish them off? This is a perfect time to cast Tree of Life and spam your enhanced Wrath.

In the end the beauty of the new Tree of Life is all its nuances and flexibility. Find the right time and way to use it will be a challenge at first, but in the long run you will gain far more benefit form it than the current design. As far as the loss of a true Druid form goes: Is it really worth it to lose a great spell, just because we don’t want to heal in our ugly caster forms? I hope the answer for most players is no.

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

Where in the World is Spirit Link?

Where in the World is Spirit Link?


So, it has certainly been a busy week around the office so to speak. The announcement of the Cataclysm beta has everyone chomping at the bit, eagerly awaiting their invitation to what is sure to be one hell of a party.

Since the announcement of the beta there has been a flood of information. Among that information was many tidbits about Restoration shaman. I did an analysis of those updates over on wow.com feel free to check it out. The one thing that has been missing from all of this information has been Spirit Link.

Spirit Link was the original 51 talent in the restoration tree in the first Wrath of the Lich King beta build. I fell in love with this spell very early on, and was looking forward to using it in a raid. It was, however, not to be. Shortly after the second beta build of Wrath the talent was taken away like a jealous father stealing his daughter away in a tower prison, replaced by our now glorious Riptide. I still pine for Spirit Link however. I often wonder if, when I look up at the lonely stars at night, if  Spirit Link is somewhere looking up at the same stars missing me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Riptide, but my heart still belongs to Spirit Link.

When we got the very first set of class previews, Blizzard developers stated that they were going to try and bring Spirit Link back. The restoration shaman community was incredibly receptive to this, and there was much rejoicing. I know I danced a little bit at the news. So we eagerly awaited the announcement of its presence. When the beta information was released, I am sad to say that Spirit Link is MIA. There have been no official statements as of this post as to why it was not included this round, but I have a few suspicions.

The reason the spell was removed from the Wrath beta is that it was hard to balance. here was the original wording of the spell.

Spirit Link (Rank 1): You link the friendly target with two nearby targets, causing 50% of the damage taken to be distributed to the linked targets. After 2200 damage, the link will sever.

That is pretty interesting right? The problem was two fold here. First, the spell had no duration limit aside from the damage cap. So you could set it on two targets and just let it be. Second, the damage cap was either too low (2200 damage would be one swing from most bosses) or too high. Finding a sweet spot was always a problem as it was either way too weak, or way too powerful.

My guess is that either it is NYI (not yet included) or they are still having problems balancing it.  In the Wrath beta  it could be stacked and made damage mitigation moot. “Non def capped tank? We have three shaman NO PROBLEM!” type deal. I will be highly interested to see if it makes it to live, because I love it so much. If it doesn’t make it to live, it will surely still be the one that got away.  It was interesting and a brand new mechanic to play with. I love it like a fat kid loves cake, and I’m a fat kid that LOVES his cake. As a bonus here’s a video of the spell in use in the Wrath beta.

So what do you guys think? Want to see this spell make it live to Cataclysm? How would you balance it? How would you change it?

Also this week, my buddy shane has written a new Google Chrome extension called Armory Links. It allows you to look anyone up quickly and easily in any of the various armory and gear checking sites. You should check it out, I know I love it and use it frequently.

And if you’re heading to BlizzCon and are interested in custom badge art, be sure to swing by Ginny’s site and check out her stuff. She does great work, and I know she’s working on a custom Lodur piece for me as we speak.

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

The other day I had the good fortune of talking with our friends over at Wow relief and our conversation got me thinking about something.
Some of us have been around for a long long time in this game. We’ve lived through PTRs and Betas and now two expansion with a third on the way. We’ve seen many things change and many things come and go, and things that were promised to us never come to be. I got to thinking what I would love to see added to the game for my class. The answer actually comes from the Wrath of The Lich King beta.

Back in Beta, restoration shaman had a rather interesting 51 point tallent to play around with. It was unique and new and fresh and odd and I loved it.

Spell_Shaman_SpiritLinkSpirit Link (Rank 1): You link the friendly target with two nearby targets, causing 50% of the damage taken to be distributed to the linked targets. After 2200 damage, the link will sever.

This little baby was awesome in my eyes. The concept behind it and the possible strategic uses of it, especially considering the health pools of both Druid tanks and Death Knights  intrigued me. It wasn’t your normal everyday spell. As a healer we’re used to playing healing triage as well as Cast X spell get Y result + / – a little. This you know the values but you can effectively use this to shift some raid damage around. Alas this was not meant to be and it was replaced by Riptide, which is a very good spell, but doesn’t lend itself to the same sort of mysterious awe that Spirit Link gave me. With cataclysm coming back I’d love to see this come back as a mastery spell or some such. It was a fantastic concept that I’m sad to say got left on the cutting room floor.

So, with that I turn it over to you our readers. Anything you want to see desperately added to the game? Why? Did you find something in a Beta or PTR that you wish would have made it to the live servers?

That’s all for today, until next time Happy Healing!

Sig

Aion Beta Review From a WoW Player’s Perspective

Aion Beta Review From a WoW Player’s Perspective

Mage

I feel like I should put a disclaimer on this article for WoW fanboys and fangirls, because I am about to shower some praise (and criticism, of course) on a different MMO. I pre-ordered the regular edition of NCsoft’s Aion a couple of months ago, and I’ve been participating in some of the closed betas. Today I’m going to share with you my impressions of the game and speculate about its future playability. I’ll say upfront that I’m not planning, at least for myself anyway, to replace WoW with Aion. I’ve promised Matticus that I’ll stick around in WoW at least long enough to kill Arthas, and I hold to that. However, if Aion is as good as I think it might be, it might become the focus of some of my “casual time.”

The Art of Aion

The number one draw of most games for me is their art. WoW has largely been an exception to this rule. I would call the WoW graphics pleasant, even charming, and I certainly appreciate the ease of running WoW on my machine, but I’d never say that the WoW visuals are breathtaking. I gravitate toward strange, beautiful, and strangely beautiful images, and I was quite pleased to find that Aion has something of the look of a Miyazaki movie. In particular, the pastel desert style landscapes in early Elyos zones recall the visuals of his film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind–a longtime favorite of mine. Below, you can see a screenshot of my character hovering over Verteron, which is an early quest hub. I like the mountains and glacial valley in this particular scene, especially as it’s punctuated with prehistoric-looking animals–it gives the world an ancient feel that I appreciate. Some zones are much more pastoral, but in general, the color palette is more muted that WoW’s–it uses more pastels and seems to prefer yellow and brown over blue and red. This look gives an overall impression of age and decadence, which fits the story quite well. After all, according to the game’s lore, we’re supposed to understand that the once-flourishing world was literally split in two by cosmic warfare. The game’s visuals, on the whole, support that claim. I have played mostly Elyos side, but poking around about in the Asmodean starting area I can say that the cooler palette of Asmodae continues the eerie feel of the game as a whole.

hovering

Character Customization

Aion’s spectacularly sensitive character generation tools have probably gotten more press than any other aspect of the game. Unlike WoW, which essentially gives a player a few pre-determined models to choose from, Aion lets the user play with proportions of face and body and minute differences in color to render truly unique player characters. I will say that I still like WoW’s character creator. I’ve logged lots of hours creating my alts and then testing their hairstyles and movements. I also spend much more gold in the barbershops than anyone ought to. However, my need to create compelling characters was not really satisfied until I found Aion. I spent at least 6 hours on character creator, making one unique face at the start of each of my beta gaming sessions. I wish I’d taken screenshots of all the characters I created and destroyed, but I was able to make a mixture of face and body types that referenced different ethnicities. I’ll show you my three favorites: my sorcereress, my cleric, and my ranger.

char creator
This is my sorceress, whose name I won’t reveal because I intend to use it when Aion goes live. I created her to look like the main character of the novel I’ve been working on for longer than I’ll admit. So what I have here is a character who’s supposed to look innocent despite a rather odd appearance–prematurely white hair and goth makeup. I couldn’t resist adding the elf ears as a nod to my favorite characters in WoW. The result is more eerie than a generic Galadriel elf type, and I’m very pleased to run around on this character. The character animations and movements have a sort of dainty quality to them that I’ve enjoyed immensely. The picture below is the resting (restoring mana) animation for my character, and I have to say, she looks a bit like Alice in Wonderland in that pose.
resting

The next character is my cleric, which is the game’s main healing class. I couldn’t resist giving her Syd’s parsley-colored hair. She may be the most beautiful of the three characters I made, but I will have to say, of the three her face is closest to the preset values and thus there are probably many others like her out there.
Cleric

My third character, a ranger, probably took the most time to create, because I used a photograph of a Civil War general to help me approximate the look I wanted. It’s possible to spend hours and hours tweaking an Aion character to look like a photograph. Not all faces can be imitated, and the basic faces do have a certain similarity to each other. I’m not sure how good a job I did with the limited options, but my ranger does have sort of an archaic look that I just love.
Ranger

Basic Gameplay

So far, so good, right? Well, if one never looked beyond the quality of the art and character customization in Aion, it would be easy to say that it’s a great game. However, the finesse of the art is not matched by smooth gameplay. I found the basic controls in Aion to be similar to WoW and pretty workable, but I also made extensive use of macros and remapped most of my basic abilities for easier reach. I’m used to dpsing with a certain set of keys in WoW, and I made similar bindings for my sorcerer. However, Aion is certainly playable out of the box. The only exception to this is that the flight controls are automatically mapped to Page Up and Page Down, which are two keys I simply can’t reach if I’m using my mouse. Other than that, the only thing that’s truly egregious about the controls is that the left mouse button is used for click-to-move. Thank goodness that’s easy to unbind. I miss holding down left click to look around as I do in WoW, but that’s a minor thing. My Razer Death Adder mouse with its two thumb buttons simply doesn’t work with Aion, and that’s a pretty big disappointment. I had planned to put my health and mana recovery functions over there. From what I’ve read on the forums, the Logitech gaming mice do work. Sigh.

There are a few other little annoyances related to moving around and doing things in the world. I’m used to WoW, which has cleaned up its interface considerably, so I get frustrated with Aion’s more primitive system. In general, I would say that the controls in Aion are slower. The global cooldown occurs after, not during, a spell’s cast time, so to a WoW player a rotation will feel slow. Gathering also takes a considerable amount of time and uses a clunky animation, as does resting. Picking up quest items can be frustrating because of the game’s phasing system. While questing, you can change channels in order to better share the space with many players. However, I think this causes problems with looting quest items on the ground, as very often your character can’t interact with an object that you can see. In addition, every time you loot a quest item, you have to click a dialog box that says its ok to loot an untradeable item. This gets very annoying while solo questing.

The other thing that bothered me during questing had to do with my character’s voice animations. My sorceress talks too much, and she utters nonsense phrases that unfortunately sound a bit like words in English. I didn’t play the last closed beta, so I have no idea what the North American/European vocals for casting, resting, and hp/mana recovery sound like, but from what I’ve read, they use the same nonsense syllables as in the Korean version, just pronounced in a less “Asian” style. I hate to say it, but I made fun of my character all throughout the betas for her gibberish. For example, when I casted a nuke, my character said something that sounded like “Kick in the PANTS!”, and when I used a bandage, she declared that she was “shittin-n-pissin.” It’s too bad that I need my game sounds to play well. Here’s hoping that the character voices were localized for the NA audience in a thoughtful manner. We’ll see when the final version of the game is released. I don’t think I can play a character that constantly needs to relieve herself (and tell me about it).

I’ll also mention a couple of minor gameplay issues that certainly aren’t game-breaking but might be off-putting to WoW players in particular. When it’s time to learn new skills in Aion, bring a notebook. They are learned on a system similar to Warlock pets’ old grimoires, using spellbooks. It’s easy to miss one or buy the same one twice. I haven’t leveled a character enough to get into the stigma system, which is analogous to specs in WoW. It seems pretty strange and exotic to me.

The other thing that might discomfit WoW healers in particular is a combination of a poor healing interface (think Vanilla WoW) and a lack of support for mods. You simply can’t modify the interface, except with macros. I think mouseover macros would work for healing, but I didn’t try them. The interface made me glad I’d decided to play ranged dps, which even in WoW is not heavily dependent on UI mods.

I’d have to say, though, that the biggest annoyance for any WoW player will probably be the chat commands. They simply aren’t the same / commands that we’re used to, and I end up doing a lot of right clicking and menu searching when I want to say something to a party member. I’m sure I’ll learn the system, but from what I’ve seen talking to others is simply not as easy as it is in WoW.

Flight

Besides the character creation engine, Aion’s biggest selling point is its flight mechanics. At level 10, your character ascends as a Daeva and receives a pair of spirit wings. The drawback is that these wings sometimes work and sometimes don’t–and mostly, they don’t. Many players will use The Lore to explain why flight is sometimes not allowed. There’s some mumbo jumbo about how I have to have pieces of aether nearby to pop my magical wings. I am highly cognizant of the arbitrary nature of The Lore, and I will tell you now that the reason that flight is so severely limited while leveling in Aion is lack of imagination. It’s simply easier to design a ground-based game than one that uses vertical space. I get it, but I end up feeling very ripped off by the limits on flight. First, you can fly for only one minute at a time, and the takeoff animation is going to take up 6-8 seconds of that. Second, gliding, which is basically flying downward with limited use of your controls, only extends this time slightly. Third, once you land, it takes another full minute to restore your flight time. One minute of flight on, one minute off.

I can tell already that flight in Aion is going to be primarily a combat technique. It’s far too limited to be used for travel purposes, even with the flight time extensions that are available in potions and upgraded wings. I wish that the developers had decided to keep combat on the ground (especially PvP combat) and let flight be used as a convenience. As it stands now, flight in Aion doesn’t feel like freedom. It’s actually more efficient to run on the ground if you’re trying to get somewhere. If you want to feel truly free in flight, there’s nothing like the druid flight form, which I’ve been enjoying in WoW for quite some time. I love to shift and reshift, falling in my elf form and catching myself in bird form. That’s just not as easy to do in Aion. I’m hoping for future changes to this aspect of gameplay as it’s one of the most common complaints from North American beta players. However, as the game is already up and running (and wildly successful) in Korea and China, I don’t expect changes before the NA release in September.

One thing I will say about flight in Aion–it’s pretty stylish. Here’s a screenshot that captures the elegance of it. My character uses her extended legs as a sort of tail when she floats, and it reminds me of Nausicaa on her glider.

nausicaa_imitation

Factions

Aion has two factions, the Elyos and the Asmodeans. Some call them angels and demons, but both groups are perfectly good and perfectly beautiful. I focused on Elyos for my own beta gameplay, but it was a difficult choice and I may revise it later. If I wanted to, say, make a character that looked just like Syd, I’d go Asmo. In the end, the choice will be mostly aesthetic. Do you prefer a white/blue wing palette or a black/purple one? Would you rather look more or less human? Elyos is kind of a vanilla choice, I admit, but I chose them primarily for their resplendent white wings. However, as I’m planning on being a casual player, I’m pretty sure I’ll check out both sides. My guess is that Elyos will be more numerous when the live servers open up, but I could always be wrong.

Classes

There are eight classes in Aion, but there are only 4 starting classes: Warrior, Mage, Priest, and Scout. Each of those classes subdivides into two specific classes at level 10. Essentially, a player’s choice of role is deferred for 10 levels.

In the beta, I’ve played Sorcerer, Cleric, and Ranger. I liked all three, though I’m going with Sorcerer for my main. None of the leveling content is going to present much difficulty for WoW veterans. There are slightly different mechanics. For example, all classes depend on chain attacks for much of their damage. A chain sequences my spells for me. When I hit one of my nukes, I have an option to follow it up with a second special attack. I find the chain attacks really useful. The special abilities are on a cooldown, and what happens over time is that the chains themselves push the player into a rotation that looks something like 1-1-2-2-1-1-1-2-2 without theorycrafting it out. It’s a very tidy way to do things.

As far as class choice goes, I’m going to try to match up Aion classes with their WoW equivalents. Be aware, though, that I’m mostly going by forum posts as I haven’t personally played everything.

Warriors

These guys are your typical buckethead plate wearers (I kid) and the tanks of Aion. The two subtypes are Templar and Gladiator. As far as I can tell, the Templar is the most like a traditional tank, like the warrior of Vanilla WoW. The Gladiator seems to be a bit more like a Fury warrior in tanking gear. However, I haven’t played either of these. The only thing I’ve learned from grouping with them is that the taunt function (called provoke I think) actually raises threat with a mob when it’s either crowd controlled or already focused on the tank. That’s pretty different from WoW.

I have a feeling tank characters will have no trouble getting PvE groups, but I will warn that PvE is not the focus of Aion. Tanks may be fairly strong in PvP, but they’re not widely considered OP in that capacity at the moment.

Mages

The mages divide into Sorcerer and Spiritmaster at lvl 10, which seems to correspond pretty well to WoW’s mage and warlock. I love my sorceress. She is a true glass cannon and comes equipped with multiple means of crowd control and several heavy nukes. I will warn that magical damage can’t crit, so sorcerers should expect to do heavy sustained damage without any spectacular bursts. Sorcerers are strong in all aspects of the game, but they are also delicate. In PvP, they are heavily dependent on getting the jump on opponents, and in PvE groups, they will pull aggro early and often with their CC spells. Only play this class if you’re good at making money and patient when you die.

Spiritmasters are much more durable than Sorcerers and thanks to the cute pets, probably better at soloing. I also hear they’re strong in PvP. I’m not interested in this class myself because I detest controlling my warlock pet in WoW, and from what I read, the Spiritmaster pets take even more micromanagement.

Scouts

Scouts divide into Assassin and Ranger, roughly correspondent to WoW Rogues and Hunters. Assassins (surprise, surprise) are strong in PvE solo content and downright dominant against some classes in PvP. From what I read, good assassins are pretty much a hard counter to the sorcerer. Like any other class, they are dependent on surprise for an easy kill. Rangers are far more delicate than the WoW hunter, but they have the potential to be great in PvP. They are less desired in PvE groups than the Sorcerer, and they also tend to be a bit of a glass cannon in that environment–but this game isn’t really about PvE. The Ranger can stealth, and the ranger can crit–so he or she is a force to be reckoned with in PvP. I’ve played a ranger a bit, and I will say that the one thing that will keep me from making one my main is the movement buffs and debuffs. The ranger doesn’t kite in quite the same way as a WoW hunter. Moving forward will give me a damage bonus, while backing up or strafing will give me a speed/damage debuff. A ranger also can’t really toggle autoattack to weave between shots–I keep having to spam it, resulting in a sore left wrist. I would say that sorcerer and ranger are very similar, but sorcerer is a bit easier (for me anyway) to learn.

Priests

I bet you thought I’d play a priest, didn’t you? So did I. I have to say that I like both the Cleric and the Chanter, the two flavors of priest, pretty well, but I need a change. Cleric reminds me of a holy paladin, which chanter could best be compared to enhancement shaman. The Cleric has a smite spell, which I find pretty funny, and they do low damage while being very survivable. My fiance played a cleric in beta, and paired with a sorcerer, a cleric is definitely a force to be reckoned with. However, he got a little frustrated at the slow pace of soloing. The chanter is quite different from other classes in that it’s primarily styled as a buffer. Now, that’s supposed to make a chanter very desired in groups, but there’s not that many of them around and I’ve never played with one. I’d say the chanter is the closest thing Aion has right now to an underpowered class. If healing floats your boat, go with the cleric. From what I’ve read it seems like playing a chanter would be somewhat like leveling a druid in Vanilla WoW–cast Rejuv, and then melee stuff in cat form. I hope it would be more fun than that, but I’m pretty sure it’s not for me.

Professions and Gear Augmentation

Unlike WoW, Aion lets players level up all the crafting professions, which run the usual gamut of armor and consumable making, almost to full. You can only Master (i.e. max out) one profession. Leveling a crafting profession is quite costly, and the economy is harder to “read” than WoW’s because the currency, Kinah, is exchanged in such high numbers. A calculator is necessary for would-be crafters and Auction House speculators. I think the AH is called the Broker in Aion, but I have trouble remembering. In any case, Aion crafting will be slow to level, because all crafts have chance to fail–and if they do, you lose your materials. I’m a very patient person when it comes to grinds, so I’m looking forward to tougher profession leveling–but I am going to bar my hot-tempered fiance from going near the crafting district. Oh, and you can fail at socketing gems as well, destroying millions of Kinah-worth of mana stones. . . and from all reports, chances of failure actually increase with higher-level items. This is a very hardcore crafting and item enhancement system, folks, so be patient with it.

PvPvE

As I’ve said at least twice, this is not a PvE game. The whole purpose of leveling is to get to the Abyss, where you can earn Abyss Points for participating in kills on enemy players. The best armor in the game is earned exclusively through Abyss points–so you tell me where the focus is. From what I’ve read, the Abyss is less like a formal battleground and more like the old epic battles at Southshore. Opposing armies zerg each other, and strength in numbers is the way to win. Aion’s neutral faction, the NPC demon Balaur, always come to the assistance of the outnumbered side. I’m reserving judgment on this one until I see how it works. It could either be great fun, or it could be buggy and easy to exploit. In any case, if I play Aion for any length of time, even I will have to PvP.

Game Economy

It seems to me that most things in game–from great craftable gear to mana potions–can be bought pretty easily either from the Broker or from player stores (the equivalent of trade chat). The values for Kinah seem really inflated to someone used to either United States currency or WoW currency. It wouldn’t be strange to see an item sell for, say, 10 million Kinah. I think the choice of “Kinah” is unfortunate because of the ambiguity with the abbreviation K for thousand. We’ll see how the game and game terminology shakes out. Players may end up abbreviating Kinah KI or KN to disambiguate.

There are certainly gold sinks in the current game. Crafting is probably #1. I am planning on mastering alchemy, as sorcerers are really dependent on mana potions, and I’m usually good at selling things. However, it’s unclear whether selling will ever be profitable in Aion as, over time, players can become self-sufficient by leveling all the consumable professions almost to the max. We’ll see. My darker prediction is that with high prices and few ways to earn, gold buying will become really common.

The other gold sink is death–analogous to repairs in WoW. Each time a player dies in PvE, experience is lost unless you’re willing to pay…and I always am. As a sorcereress, I die a lot. I’m just going to have to find a way to make the Broker system work for me because I’m simply not going to either buy gold or stop dying so much.

Conclusions

Aion is not a perfect game. Neither is WoW. I’d say on the whole that WoW suits me more as a player–large scale PvE raiding is just something that Aion doesn’t offer. I’d also say that I vastly prefer WoW’s interface and mod-using capability. But for PvP or leveling content I might go with Aion. It feels like time for a change, at least for a couple hours a week.