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.

Kingslayers? That’s Unpossible!

Kingslayers? That’s Unpossible!

I was originally going to regal you with the wild tales of my misadventures through the LFD tool, but instead I am consumed by a  need to share my overwhelming pride.

Tuesday June 8th at near 10:20pm est, Unpossible downed The Lich King in 25 player mode. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting something like this as I don’t want to be seen as a braggart, but I am proud of my guild for sticking to it and getting this done. Over the last few months we’ve been combating burnout, illness, freak weather and buggy encounters. It seems to always be the way, we make incredible progress and then Murphy rears his ugly head and we get stymied by random occurrences.

I will say this was one of the more exhilarating kills we’ve had. Wed the week prior we broke early to attempt to buy Blizzcon tickets as a guild, we decided it would be nice to let everyone enjoy the weekend and focus on getting to the convention. On Monday we dove back into ICC and went hell for broke for The Lich King. As we were handling defiles and valks something just clicked. Vent got quiet and everyone was moving in unison. These are what I like to call moments of raiding clarity. This is where everyone is doing everything perfect and the boss abilities are right on time. It is almost like participating in a choreographed dance. It was just as if suddenly everyone got the fight. We made great progress and were consistently pushing into phase 3. Midnight bells tolled and we called it a night, but before we did officers agreed with spirits so high and considering the progress we made that we needed to extend the lockout, get the same raid group in ICC and take the bastard down. Who needed more shards? Badges? Pfft! A dead Lich King is all we wanted. And when the announcement went out over ventrillo you could hear people becoming excited.

So when Tuesday came, we headed in and on our first pull that same magic was there. pushed into phase 3, and we wiped because we weren’t expecting to get there on the first pull. So we head back in our confidences high, and pull again. This time his health gets even lower, we wipe to something stupid, but spirits are still high. We go again and again, each time chipping away at that total health. After a 10 minute break around 10 we come back in, buff up and pull. We get to phase 3, everyone alive and we’re going strong. We’re kiting the spirits, and moving from defiles with expert reflexes, I get picked as the second person to go into Frostmourne and I heal the shit out of Terenas Menethil, I get dumped back to reality and we keep going. His health is dropping lower and lower. The other resto shaman gets picked for Harvest Soul, something unknown happens and he dies. LK enrages and everyone gets tense. Our main tank Woe pops his cooldowns as healers bridged the gap to him and the big heals started raining in. Suddenly he gets smacked hard and goes down. LK is at 14% with a few key people down (healers and high dps) everyone sighs, a wipe is almost called but instead Woe calls out for our OT Theonius to grab the LK fast. He charges over, grabs him, healers switch targets immediately and everyone unloads. Remaining healers go all out balls-to-the-wall with every cooldown and bit of mana they have to throw behind healing. LK at 12%, vent gets quiet again except for the calls from the raid leaders giving terse directions “heal x, move right” LK at 10.5%. Everyone is holding their breath and then you hear the call “Take this bitch down!” LK 10%, he wipes the raid and everyone cheers on vent, a reminder is sent out not to release and we all are whooping and hollering at the top of our lungs. Our mass res comes and we pop yet another heroism for good measure and unload, our achievements pop up and at that moment I could actually hear all remaining tension and burnout leave. A burden lifted from everyone’s shoulders and fresh energy flowing into the raiders.

An early end to a raiding night, and week, but one well deserved. So as of Tuesday we finally start our hard modes. There is palpable excitement as everyone is getting ready and anticipation is high. After all the random things that have gone wrong along the way, I can honestly say this was one well deserved kill for Unpossible. I’d like to thank each and everyone of my guild-mates, officers and everyone in between for continuing to work so hard and to persevere though so much. We’ve been around for a long time, and we have no intention on stopping! We have our eye on you Deathwing, and we must break you!

We all have our obstacles in game. Raid attendance, pushing the DPS envelope, getting that computer to stop dropping you from raid, getting the last shot in to topple that boss at 1% or even overcoming personal and health related issues to play a game you enjoy with people you call friends. Everyone’s journey is different, but when you get to your goal there is no sweeter victory.

With that in mind I’d also like to make a shout-out to Spellbrood. We heard that you have a lot on your plate and we here at World of Matticus want to wish you well in your journeys. Remember, no obstacle is too great when you have good friends to help share the burdens and the good times!

So that’s it for this today, hope you guys enjoyed my little story there, I know my heart started pounding again as I began to recall the events.

Also, Unpossible is hiring! We’re looking for geared and intelligent DPS looking for a fun but dedicated raiding home. Sorry folks we are full up on Death Knights and Priests, but everyone else is welcome to apply. If you’re interested stop by here and take a look at our application process!

Will Ruby Sanctum Compare To Wrath’s Best Bosses?

Will Ruby Sanctum Compare To Wrath’s Best Bosses?

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I’m one of these weird people who doesn’t read up on content before it’s released. I like a surprise. So the Ruby Sanctum’s got me thinking: is it going to be a patch on my favourite bosses from Wrath? What are my favourite bosses?

After all, I am looking forward to the Sanctum. In about the same way one might look forward to a shopping centre opening up nearby.

I’m vaguely aware it’ll open sometime in the near future and when it does I’ll probably make plans to go trundle round it immediately. But I’m expecting it to be just like any other local Sanctum/raid shopping centre. There’ll be modern lighting trying to hide the fact that the decor is all too familiar. The staff will breath smoke at you as soon as look at you, and their uniforms will look like they’ve been stolen from another shopping centre and dyed a different colour. Oh, and the wares will be updates of last month’s fashion, alluring only inasmuch as being on buy-one-get-one-free and so must be good offers.

The Sanctum’s got a lot to live up to compared to my favourite bosses in Wrath – let me show you.

5. Thaddius. For those who met him when TBC wasn’t yet a distant memory, Thaddius was a well-timed and comforting reassurance that it wasn’t all Big Change. That some fight mechanics had been passed down through the expansion; Mechano Lord Capacitus’ polarity charges could be a fun challenge back in TBC days and here they were again. Better yet, with a twist that put an emphasis on teamwork and introduced raiders to the idea that no, bosses now really do have that much health – and by the way: if you get it wrong you kill your group. Besides, it’s a good sign for a fight mechanic when PUGers regularly spend half a raid session arguing that their nigh-identical method of doing it is better. I was grateful that this wasn’t one of the many tactics dragged out time and again through Wrath – it gave me memories of a unique fight in Naxx.

4. Sapphiron. Bones rising from the floor to amass into a huge nitwibble-off dragon in your way. What better start to showing players the shape of future mechanics? Sapphiron was a really well constructed fight, and well placed within Naxx’s structure. He effectively compiled individual basics which raiders had encountered in earlier bosses in Naxx. Tactics such as moving to the correct place when targeted, a’la Grobbulus, or moving out of the nasty AoE, like Anub’s Insect Swarm. Back when it was a new encounter, moving around – for a long, endurance fight – was quite refreshing to me. I also have fond memories attached to Sapphiron: the first time my guild raided was at our first HerdMoot when we headed into Naxx. It was Sapphiron we found ourselves wiping on at 5 AM.

3. Mimiron. When we hit Mimiron he had a reputation which preceded him, and he didn’t let us down. He was the first four-phase fight in Wrath in which everyone had multiple roles, or at least different tasks to do. He also shared the responsibilities out a bit more evenly. Suddenly tanks had different things to tank at different times. Melee had responsibility past stabbing and kicking things. For many raid groups, he gave a ranged DPS the chance to prove that they’re not all paper (so long as they have a good healer behind them). And for us healers, he gave us the chance to prove we can be flexible. For better or worse, Mimiron was one of the first fights in which healing on the run with twitch-reflexes was showcased. Its originality made it fun.

2. Valithria. I’d not considered as a healer that I rarely had a direct combat role with a boss, nor how this affected my fulfilment as a raider. I’m a healer – therefore my fulfilment should come from making sure other people stay alive so they can do the dirty work, right? So I thought. Until my healers and I were lumped with the responsibility of dealing with Valithria’s health – even if that was to make it go up rather than down. It’s a long deserved fight mechanic and is balanced perfectly: no-one feels left out, as the tanks and DPS have an increasingly manic (and as I understand it, fun) time of keeping the adds in control, and the healer roles are not only varied but accessible for any healing class.

1. Yogg Saron. Tentacles. Many-eyed blob in the floor. Sanity loss. Need I say more? This is the most unique fight in WoW. Yes, in terms of fight mechanics, it’s a “this is your final test, what have you learnt up to now?” There were fires clouds to not stand in, there were adds to control in a certain way, there were target priorities for DPS. But it didn’t feel like a final test: every wipe felt like a few minutes of unbridled, chaotic fun. Even going into the brain room and coming out before going mad, while a ‘do this before X time’ mechanic, wasn’t as annoying if someone failed; it was almost funny for people to miss the chance to come out of the brain room and so go mad. No other fight has had my Herd raiding to the sound of “Tentacles!” and “If I were a Deep One“. A pure stroke of genius to incorporate Cthulhu mythos into WoW without it feeling forced or misplaced.

 

My main metric here was how much fun I had in a fight, regardless of how long it took to best. But most of these also did something unique or at least were the first of their type. The Ruby Sanctum has a tall order. We’ll see! Perhaps I’ll have a pleasant surprise when I’m panicking that the fire’s getting away and I should be standing in it or be lost in time and space.

I am amused that those bosses aren’t a fair representation of all of Wrath – I’ve left the bosses from Trial of the Crusader out in the cold, and there they can stay. While I was whittling this list down I was also compiling a list of the worst bosses. I have a feeling those will be harder to choose between … though I certainly know which luridly-lit fight tops that list. Perhaps I’ll share that list at a future date!

What do you think? What fights in Wrath have you particularly enjoyed – and why? They don’t have to be raid bosses, any encounter you remember having fun whilst redecorating the walls with your character’s innards – let us know. Do you agree with my choices – or are you sitting there asking why on earth anyone enjoyed Mimiron? Which encounters would you like to see a variant of in Catacylsm?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image originally by hawk684 @ Flickr
What is missing from the Arthas fight?

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

First before I begin I would like to say congrats to Matticus on his 10 man Arthas kill!

Now onto the matter at hand. My guild is plugging away at the Lich King 25 man encounter, our 10 man team is just about to take him down as well. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of not only the content, but let’s be honest in this case the entire point of the expansion! This entire expansion has geared us up for this fight. Egging us on, pushing us to greater heights and taunting us at every turn. The Lich King has been found in so many quests, instances and cinematic events it is impossible to not want to kill him.

When Trial of the Crusader was released, I’ll be honest I was not impressed. In fact I down right hated ToC. I’m an old school raider, I like instances with trash and having to work at getting TO the boss. I mean in every book I’ve read the hero and the villain don’t just run into each other randomly and just go to town. The hero normally goes through various trials and or henchman before they get to the big bad. In James Bond movies, he has to go through the henchman before making his way to the final bad guy for the show down. To me that is what trash is in an instance, it is a warm up but it’s also story fodder. These are the creatures the various bosses thought good enough to guard them from US. So when I walked into ICC for the first time you can bet I was over-joyed at the amount of trash that lay before us. One of my fondest memories as of late was when we were first heading into the Plagueworks, I was flying solo leading the raid that night and we were coming up on Stinky and Precious. I didn’t warn the raid about them at all, instead as we pulled I laughed maniacally at the frantic screams of “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS GLUTH DOING HERE?” as the raid wiped. Everyone laughed about it afterward  and I felt happy that there was trash that was actually DANGEROUS if you weren’t prepared.

My guild has fought our way through all the bosses up to Arthas and there is a sense of accomplishment there. The fight itself is amazing fun, if for no other reason than because there is so much going on. So, why then am I feeling slightly ripped off with this fight?

Arthas is one of those lore characters that has shaped this game. Warcraft 3 was a game I played to death and out of it what I got was the setup for World of Warcraft. It was heart-wrenching when Arthas slew his father and you saw the darkness in complete control, it was epic when Illidan and Arthas fought. The story, even though it was an RTS, was colorful and rewarding.

So last night Unpossible was working on Arthas and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with the fight, that something was missing. After the raid I thought back to burning crusade and Black Temple. The Illidan fight felt epic. The scene opened up with Akama going to face Illidan and speak his peace, followed by him running off to hold off reinforcements and give the group time to deal with Illidan. Partway through the fight, a fed up Warden Maiev Shadowsong bursts in to help try and take down the demon prince. He had wronged her so much that she had to have her revenge. In short the fight felt epic. It felt like great payoff to all the work of getting there. I attribute this to a well designed encounter, but a lot of that had to do with NPC interaction.

When you reach Arthas there is a small back and forth between the fallen prince of Lordaeron and Tirion Fordring. To be honest the back and forth is a little weak, and Tirion is one of those characters I could do without. I mean, of all the people Arthas has pissed-off and messed with over the years they picked Tirion to be the one to confront him. I mean I guess I expected him to be there from the beginning, after all he is the bearer of Ashbringer, but I expected someone faction specific to be there along side him as well. I know Jaina and Sylvanas made an appearance in the 5 mans, but this is the big show, the big payoff. Personally I expected them to be there, or rather someone who Arthas has wronged on a deep personal level to be there.

Before you say anything yes I know the history of what happened between Arthas and Tirion and the subsequent exile. My point though is as fun as the fight is (it IS an amazingly designed encounter), it just doesn’t feel as epic as I think it should.

We have airships right? After we’ve taken down the Frost wing, why not have the ship fly up to assault Arthas only to have him blow it out of the sky? How about King Varian Wrynn or Thrall gets to deliver the epic speech debasing Arthas and spurring us to victory. Instead we get Tirion running forward, and getting hunter trapped.

I still love the encounter don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that there are a thousand things you have to watch for and so many ways you can die. I like having fights that have consequence and Defile is the greatest thing EVER created (no sarcasm on that). I guess in the end I just wish there was a little more NPC interaction at the end to help lend the cinematic / literary climactic feel that the encounter truly deserves.

What do you think about the encounter?

So with that I bid you all a good day, hopefully next week I’ll be writing you as King Slayer Lodur. Until next time, Happy healing and may all your heals be swift and your mana plentiful!

Heroic moments

Heroic moments

Last couple days I’ve been talking with a few friends about the heroic or epic feel of the game. This was spurred by the recent Cataclysm class previews. My friend felt that the game was making players too over powered and he feels that what he wants is and I quote

“To have the ever loving shit beaten out of the raid by a boss. Like seriously have Deathwing be so badass he just looks at us and we die.”

I replied with a little snark informing him that he could always level to 60 and turn off xp and raid classic content while it still existed, whatever was left of it.

To me the game is taking a logical step in many ways, I mean let’s take a look at all the things we’ve done in the game (and by we I mean as a collective player base).

  • Defeated an elemental lord
  • Defeated the son and daughter of the aspect of earth and the progenitor of the Black Dragon Flight
  • Defeated and old god and his followers
  • Defeated troll tribal leaders and their god
  • Defeated the Lich Kings floating citadel and his right-hand lich
  • Cleansed the home of Medivh
  • Defeated a Daemon lord
  • Stomped a troll hero into the dirt
  • Defeated a power sucking Prince of the blood elves
  • Defeated Illidan
  • Restored the sunwell while repelling a powerful Eredar
  • Trudged through the snow and ice to set fire the the Lich Kings floating citadel AGAIN!
  • Killed the aspect of magic
  • Beat down ANOTHER god and the servants of titans
  • Slapped around the custodian of the titans
  • and Dethroned an undead king

/breathes

So…  Yeah. Safe to say we’ve done a lot right? but if you look at it it’s been big bads right? So why shouldn’t we feel a little powerful right?

We’ve all had those moments too, where after a boss goes down or a particularly hard fight is won where you want to stand up and thrust your fists in the air and yell in victory. I know it’s just a game, but you can’t help but feel accomplished sometimes. For me it’s those moments of the harrying first kill. My guild’s first Blood Queen (25) kill, there were only two people left standing. Me and the feral druid stood over her corpse amid a sea of raider bodies. It may sound weird but in that moment I felt really good at the kill, being so close to that wipe and trying EVERY trick I had to stay alive / res / keep someone up long enough for the DoTs to tick was heart pounding, and that kill is among the ones I savor the most. I count that as one of my heroic moments in the game, where I felt that this could see this as a scene from a movie or book and wanting to throw my hands up victorious in the air and scream my defiance at this villain that had stood in our way threatening death, and nearly delivering it in full.

In every story I’ve ever read as the main character got more powerful, so did his enemies. We are about to go up against the corrupted aspect of earth. EARTH. That little thing all of Azeroth is comprised of. Safe to assume he’s going to be something of a jerk right? So with all the class changes happening I think it’s in good form that we are starting to feel well…. uber. It fits with the progression of the game.

Also consider that encounters are changing. The way we handle fights now is for the most part pretty linear. Don’t stand in fire, don’t stand in front of the boss, let the tank get aggro etc etc. Even the current mechanics can be boiled down to simplistic measures in many cases. In Cataclysm however the dynamics of each role are changing. The mechanics of each class are changing and this is going to allow developers to make more interesting encounters.

Me, I’m looking forward to Cataclsym and all the changes. I’m looking forward to having to approach different encounters differently. I look forward to feeling like yes I am powerful, but still have a damn good challenge ahead of me. I’m looking for more spells, more encounter mechanics, harder mana regen. I’m looking forward to feeling like the team I belong to earned EVERY kill with sweat blood and perseverance. I don’t think we’re overpowered, I just think we scale with content!

So how about you? How do you feel about the changes coming? Do you think they are over powered? Do you have a heroic moment to share? A well earned kill?

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

 

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

What Cataclysm is Doing Right

What Cataclysm is Doing Right

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There is much to do about this upcoming expansion pack, more so then Burning Crusade and I dare say more then Wrath of The Lich King. I say this because of the buzz around the net as well as just what I hear walking around my home town. People are excited, hell I know I am. But I think people are more excited about this expansion then the other two. I’d like to talk about why we might feel this way about Cataclysm.

In Burning Crusade we were excited, don’t get me wrong. We had just bested the Black Dragonflight, saved the world of Azeroth from the terrors of an awakening Old God and his minions and layed the Smack down on a mighty Lich and his floating fortress of evil. We were eager to go and take on the the next threat to our home and take the fight right to it’s doorstep! We dove into Karazhan and drove out the taint infesting it, we took on Magtheridon and cut the head from between his shoulders. We beat the naga champion into pulp and took the fight to Kael’thas and his generals, all leading up to taking down the of the betrayer and then saving the all Azeroth yet again, this time from the evils of a freshly summoned Kil’jaden.

Then Wrath of The Lich King was announced. We would be returning to Azeroth full time, albeit the frozen northlands. We stepped foot into Borean Tundra or the Howling Fjord and were treated with lush, full environments to play with. From the very beginning we were taunted by the Lich King. Every step of the way he was there, messing with us, trying to break our minds and bring us into his influence. When he failed to do so he sent his agents to kill us. We cleared the Grizzly Hills and Fought back the corruption in Dragon Blight, we stomped on the trolls pledged to the lich king in Zul’drak and freed the animal spirits from their chains, We took on the Vyrkul in their homes among the storm peaks while making friends with the Sons of Hodir. We broke into the home of the titans and cleansed the corruption from it’s halls and saved the world yet again from an awakening god. We proved our worth at the foot of the Lich Kings citadel and now await the doors to be breached so we can take on the blight of our lands head first.

Burning Crusade:

Burning Crusade did a couple things right, and a couple things very wrong. It was a good time because it was new content. We got to go play in Karazhan which thrilled most people because it had been sitting there for so long. We got our first glimpse and some interaction with major lore characters. Shamans and paladins got to swap sides and new races were introduced (although I still think blood elves won out compared to us blueberries), and we got one hell of a troll instance (I loved Zul’aman). They also introduced arena style pvp with various formatting for smaller more intimate pvp battles. It even allowed you to battle against your own faction! The visuals of the landscape were wild and colorful and they let us fly around on the backs of our own personal griffins. We even got to go back in time and participate in some amazing key events in Azeroth history ( I still hate you so so much Archimonde!)

But for what they did right there were a few things they did wrong. The terrain didn’t blend very well between zones. Good example would be going from Zangarmarsh to Nagrand, the contrast was incredibly violent. This theme persisted through most of the between zone areas, with the exception truly being between Netherstorm and Blades Edge Mountains. Our major antagonist was Illidan Stormrage. He was supposed to be the architect of all the going ons in outland, and yet we saw or heard very very little from the emo elf. When we finally killed him atop Black Temple, I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit hollow. Also at some point focus seemed to shift from Illidan to Kael’thas a little bit. He was arguably the harder fight of the two, he taunted us more then Illidan did, and then tried to summon a being capable of culling all of Azeroth. Blood Elves flowed pretty well into the horde lineup, but Draenei seemed out of place even with the alliance. I asked around for some thoughts on favorite and least favorite things from burning crusade and here’s what I got in reply:

Favs:

Shattered Halls

Heroic Magisters Terrace

Lore and Burning Legion theme

Flying!

Space Goats!

Caverns of time!

Least Fav:

Heroic Rep Grind

The SSC lift (I hated that damn thing too, might be worse then door boss)

Arena

All of Hellfire Peninsula

Auchenai Crypts (hated that damn bridge)

Wrath of The Lich King:

Wrath has done a lot of things right. First thing off the bat is the interaction between Arthas and the PC’s. From our first steps onto the shores of northrend the Lich King has been there to taunt us. So much so that when I finally drive a mace through his face atop Icecrown I know I’ll dance a jig, and I think many of you will too. We are driven to want to kill him. In this they learned from their mistakes in BC and did great. The zones looked amazing and the flow between them was incredibly well done. It was very natural flow from say Borean Tundra to Dragon Blight. The quests are immersive and the entire expansion is dripping with lore tidbits, questing gives you story and feels much less of a hodge podge grind. Wrath gate event in the game is amazing, even on the 6th time seeing it.  The instances are incredibly well designed and they brought back one of the most awesome but least experienced instance of vanilla WoW back for everyone to enjoy (Looking at you here Naxxramas!) The daily quests seem less of a grind, and they got rid of attunements for raids and heroics which allows players to experience the content without the soul sucking rep grind. A hero class was introduced for the first time! New Technology was introduced in they way of phasing which was showcased in the Death Knight starting zone but is present throughout the world. It also introduced 10 man raids. Which again allowed further access to content among smaller guilds. Along with these came hard mode encounters and refined vehicle combat. To me this found it’s ultimate purchase in Ulduar, which is a beautiful and wonderfully designed raid zone, and almost ties for first place with me for favorite raid zone (BWL still number 1 in my book) Wrath has done so many things very very right, and very few things wrong. I got some replies to my question earlier to wrath too. here they are.

Favs:

No more attunements or rep for heroics!

Ulduar Hard Modes

Ulduar!

New Pets!

Storyline and Quest integration

Phasing

Least fav:

Sons of Hodir rep grind (pre relic turn in)

Arena

Door boss! (he hates me too =/ )

Quite a difference in lists. Note how short the list of dislikes is. If I missed anything above forgive me, it wasn’t intended to be all inclusive, just sort of a highlight reel.

Lets move on to the upcoming expansion,

Cataclysm

In almost every fantasy novel I’ve ever read, there is a love for home, or a quest to protect home or even the dream of returning home after the adventure is completed. You can see this trend in the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Count of Monte Cristo and various other stories. I point this out because it’s a common theme. This is one of the things Cataclysm is doing right and doing it up front before the game is even released. We are returning home after fighting a grueling war that has taken it’s toll many times over only to find our home ransacked, disheveled and forever changed. Places so familiar to us are being left scarred and broken and lets be honest it gets us riled up. Blizzard is doing something most people never thought they would, in essence they are destroying azeroth, and reshaping it. It is definitely having the desired effect, I could hear it when the game was officially announced at Blizzconm I could hear the whispers around the room and look at all the smiling faces and heads nodding.

We have major lore figures being thrown at us right away, Deathwing not even close to least among them. We see the return of those we thought we had defeated such as Ragnaros coming to burn the world tree in Hyjal and Nefarian back to help his father’s plans along. I also suspect we’ll see Lady Aszhara before too long.

We get to explore areas that have always been enigmas to us such as Uldum (pronounced “Ul-doom” in case  you missed the panel and matt’s report on it) and what lay behind those doors where all those dragonkin came to murder us in Nefarian’s throne room back in the day. We get to travel beneath the Maelstrom and we are promised we’ll be able to fly in the old world now (we get to visit Iron Forges airstrip and the dancing troll village if they are still there!). The gates of the Greymane wall come open and we get to see Gilneas for the first time! I remember sitting in front of the door on my Night Elf hunter when it had the elite furbolg in front of it wondering when I’d get to go play in Gilneas. At this point the tidbits they are releasing feel even more epic then Wrath did. We are fighting to defend our world against a force that was entrusted with it’s safe keeping by the titans themselves. A being so powerful that the earth trembles and ripples with his very power. We are waiting on the edge of our seat to see who lives and who dies in the coming events. As old enemies resurface, alliances are made and the very ground we walk upon is shattered.

In short this expansion is doing what a good novel would do, bringing you back home. In this case though it’s bringing you back home to a place that isn’t the place you remember. By tossing us into this world wide upheaval they are pushing us further into the story. Everyone from RPers to Raiders should be happy with the content that is going to be provided to us. Lore junkies will be turned on their ear and will be foaming at the mouth for more ( I know I already am!). This expansion is setting up with an epic feel to it. Even look at lowering the leveling from another 10 levels to only 5, the emphasis shifts more on content then just leveling. In my opinion that is what they are doing right. They are giving it a feeling of epic grandeur that started with Wrath and seems to have only gotten better over time. I may sound like a fan boy, but as a person who has been reading and writing fantasy stories for a very long time, I’m starting to feel like I’m playing through the events of a book rather than just a game, and that makes me happy and excited to see what’s in store.

So what do you think? What was the best and worst of Burning Crusade? What was the best and worst of Wrath? How do you feel about cataclysm so far? Excited, sad, angry? What are you looking forward to the most?

Until next time,

Sig

Image courtesy of memory-alpha.org

*** SPOILER*** Missed Dungeons and Raids? Screenshots if You Want to See Them

*** SPOILER*** Missed Dungeons and Raids? Screenshots if You Want to See Them

Mark this post as read if you want to remain in the dark.

For every one else, I had the screenshots in my library for quite a while.

It’s no fun listening to audio streams and listening to “Oohs”, “Ahhs”, and applause without getting to see it.

Check out the last shot, too. I don’t know if anyone’s ever mentioned that yet before. I found it interesting.

So here’s a few shots of Eye of Eternity, Obsidian Sanctum, Halls of Lightning, and Storm Peaks

malygos-2malygos-1

Left: Here’s a shot of Malygos in his humble abode. The raid instance is literally a giant disc with Malygos flying around until you activate him. It’s a 3 phase encounter. I haven’t successfully completed him yet so I can’t offer much at this time.

Right: Me in my awesome attempt to try and do something. Alas, Malygos is overpowered and promptly kills us a matter of minutes.

os-2os-1

Left: This is a shot of Obsidian Sanctum. Here is a shot of the party engaging the mini-bosses.

Right: You’ll notice the phasing mechanic put in play. Even though it “looks” the same, I get thrown into a different dimension. Here, I have to kill that shifted drake along with the Rogue or else something bad happens. I don’t actually know what.

os-3os-4

Left: We’re taking on Sartharion. The guy hits like a pansy. For the raiders, take a good look at positioning in terms of tank, boss, and group. There’s a good reason for it.

Right: … Because every so often, a big wall of fire is going to rake the island that we’re on. Notice there’s a hole. Right when the wall warning occurs, the entire raid needs to ensure they’re in one of the two “safe zones” (on the left and on the right, by his tail, if you look carefully). If you eat the fire, you get knocked back and take a non-pansyish amount of damage.

uld-1uld-4

Left: One of the old guys, I think. Wouldn’t dare hit a Dwarven brotha’ from anotha’ motha’. But I don’t dare test out my hypothesis.

Right: Another shot of the exterior. Place looks b-e-a-utiful.

uld-5uld-6

Left: Interior shot of Halls of Lightning. See those Dwarves on the left? It’s the Terra Dwarva army, baby!

Right: The roving boss that was mentioned in the D & R panel is this guy. We decided to set him up in the corner. There’s me with the lightning debuff (Pro tip: When you get it, don’t move. Trust me.)

uld-7

Left: Lastly, check out this interesting shot. It’s right after a wipe and after I released spirit. When you died in Tempest Keep, you’d automatically res to full health and life outside. But if you die out in the Halls, you seem to res in spirit form while mounted on Ghostly Gryphon.

Wrath Priest Tailoring Set

Is there going to be a Primal Mooncloth equivalent in the expansion?

In a word, yes there will be. The next layer of cloth is called Moonshroud. Here’s the two tailoring items we can make from them in order to bootstrap ourselves into Naxx:

Moonshroud Gloves
Moonshroud Robe

Gloves requirements:

4 Moonshroud
4 Bolt of Imbued Frostweave
1 Eternium Thread
1 Frozen Orb (Primal Nether equivalent)

Robe requirements:

8 Moonshroud
6 Bolt of Imbued Frostweave
1 Eternium Thread
1 Frozen Orb

A Bolt of Imbued Frostweave takes 3 Bolt of Frostweave. A Bolt of Frostweave takes 5 Frostweave Cloth

A Bolt of Imbued Frostweave takes 15 Frostweave. The Robe takes 90 Frostweave and the Gloves take 60.

I think.

Assuming I carried the 1 right.

You can learn these from the Grand Master Tailoring Trainers in Dalaran or Howling Fjord.

There’s some great discussion going on right now in Plusheal about Priest professions. Others are discussing the future of Priestly trades. Why not jump in and join them?

The Talented Druid, v. 3.0

The Talented Druid, v. 3.0

When patch 3.0 hits live servers, every endgame raider is going to have to make some difficult choices. We will go from being the max-level, king of the jungle, top of the talent tree whiz kids we are right to being unfinished, not done yet, 10 levels behind. These comments are based on the current beta build, and of course all talents are subject to change at this point.

The raiding tree will have a particularly difficult set of decisions to make. Our prospective talents pull us in two directions, much as they did in early BC, as resto druid healers split into Treeform and Dreamstate varieties. This time, the choice is a bit more subtle, and it focuses on a few key talents. To read a great rundown of the new druid talents and their implications for raid and group healing, mosey on over to Resto4Life. Phaelia has your numbers amply covered! This article attempts to use those numbers to create meaningful builds not for the endgame at 80, but the soon-to-be middlegame of 70 raiding. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but my guild is not finished raiding yet! We’re going to have to learn to operate within the new framework, and quickly. We will be raiding the very day the patch comes out, and I want to be ready.

Prospective Build #1: Wild Growth (8/0/53)

The main goal of this build is to take just enough Restoration talents to reach the talent formerly known as Flourish, Wild Growth. Along the way, the build picks up a few fun new bells and whistles, which should make for an interesting night of raiding while I try them out.

Fun Features:

Wild Growth is an AoE spell that heals 5 party members for 1085 over 6 seconds at max rank, and it promises to be simply tons of fun. As you might guess, rank 2, which we’ll have at 70, is a bit less impressive. Sure, it’s been hit with the wrong side of the nerf bat, but I am hoping for a favorable re-balancing before the patch goes live. It might require learning a new healing style, but it’s animation is beautiful (shiny, pretty cascades of light-filled leaves surround the targets), and it will probably be quite useful in the current end-game content. I am going to make one of my CoH priest buddies switch with me on Bloodboil and let me heal bloodboil groups.

I’ll also be psyched to get my grubby little branches on a fully-talented Living Seed. It doesn’t quite have the wheeeeeeee! factor of a brand-new AoE heal, but I’m hoping for a zippy animation and a sound that either beats or equals the zing of of the priest’s frisbee (Prayer of Mending).

This build also includes Omen of Clarity, which has shaped up to be a neat little effect (for once!) in its current incarnation.

Passive Benefits:

While Natural Shapeshifter seems a lackluster talent now that I won’t ever be shifting out of tree mid-fight, it does lead to a lovely bonus in Master Shapeshifter.

In the Balance tree, I’m able to reach two resto-friendly talents, namely Genesis and Moonglow. That means stronger HoTs and cheaper Regrowths!

Spell Rotation:

This build relies heavily on HoTs and assumes that I will be doing tank healing for the most part. The Regrowth-related talents have excellent synergy with each other, and I am expecting to proc Living Seeds like crazy on my favorite tank. In order to get a further benefit from Regrowth, I am hoping that the Glyph of Regrowth will be available to me. Said favorite tank has promised to level up inscription ASAP, since he’s a flower picker already.

And yes, Lifebloom will continue to be my bread-and-butter spell with this build, even though its effectiveness has now been nerfed all to hell. It is my hope that Genesis will cushion the reduction to Lifebloom’s coefficient, but I will reserve judgement on that point until I see it in action. I logged on the beta to drop myself off things, and the nerf looks pretty significant, but I would still like to see it in raid conditions.

As for Wild Growth, I think I will drop it on the melee area from time to time, but unless I take someone else’s habitual job, I won’t use it all the time. I’m a tank healer, after all.

Drawbacks:
One would expect this build to pick up a fully talented Gift of the Earthmother. I’m on the fence about this one. Phaelia thinks it will be useless, and she’s probably right. I certainly think with the amount of unavoidable spell haste on Wrath of the Lich King gear that it will be totally redundant in its current form, but I’m holding out the hope that it will be useful at 70, since I have practically no spell haste in my regular set.

Prospective Build #2: Nature’s Splendor (14/0/47)

Fun Features:

The capstone feature of the Nature’s Splendor build is the increased duration of Lifebloom. This build would allow a druid to maintain triple stacks of Lifebloom while also casting Healing Touch. I think we’ll still be triple-stacking Lifebloom even though we won’t get as much out of it as we did pre-3.0. The usefulness of Healing Touch, however, remains in question–it’s never been our best spell. Nature’s Splendor increases Lifebloom’s duration to an incredible 10 seconds, which gives me time to sneak in Healing Touch. If I have the Healing Touch Glyph, the spell turns into something more like a Flash Heal, which sounds like loads of fun to play around with. However, its efficiency concerns me, and a druid who uses HT often, glyph or no glyph, will be putting to the test the devs’ current complaint that druids won’t be able to run out of mana.

Passive Benefits:

The other standout feature of this build is Nature’s Grace, which has excellent synergy with the constantly-critting Regrowth. If I time it right, the Nature’s Grace proc could always be used with Healing Touch.

Spell Rotation:

Guess what, I’ll still be tank healing! Except now, a Healing Touch or glyped Healing Touch will be in the rotation for tanks. It will be a little bit like getting Nourish before the fact. Lifebloom stacks will be in effect, and Regrowth will be used for its yummy crits. Now, if it’s possible to use both the Regrowth glyph and the Healing Touch glyph, this build looks a lot more interesting.

Drawbacks:

The Nature’s Splendor build feels very unfinished at 70. The balance talents I’d need are clear, but I had a heck of a time deciding what to take in Resto beyond the basics. Without the last 10 talents, I can’t get full synergy. I contemplated taking Empowered Touch, for example, and I might have with more points. I think if druids are really going to use Healing Touch instead of having it sit on their bars a-wasting, they are going to want to go for a full complement of related talents. That’s not really possible at 70. Darnit, and I really wanted to make use of that 4 piece T6 bonus (which….I don’t have yet).

I hate spreading myself that thin in the Restoration tree to get Nature’s Splendor. I’ve been 0/0/61 for a long while now (ever since Bonkers took Insect Swarm). With fourteen points in Balance, at least one very good talent will be missing from my resto setup, and that bugs me. I like to get the full effect of a healing build!

Conclusions:

I’m going to start out with Wild Growth. And please, keep that weed killer away from me!