Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ding 83!

Just finished up Deepholme and dinged 83. I've done all of Mount Hyjal and some of Vashj'ir so far. MH was a really cool zone, had some great quests. The Bears Up There was one of my favorites, totally hilarious.Vashj'ir isn't as bad as I thought it would be, for a water zone. Still not as good as Hyjal even if the Seahorse mount is sweet. Deepholme was a good time too, very nice sense of flow. The quests are more spread out as well, which prevents camping/fighting for spawns.

Flying down to Uldum now to start work on 84. Also picked up Archaeology so I'm gonna mess around with that a little.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cataclysm Soon!

In less than an hour, we'll all start the grind to 85! I've got my collector's edition in hand, my Lil Deathwing chilling beside me as I camp the Flying Trainer. Had to bind interact with target to a hotkey so I can actually use the trainer who is covered in a...horde of players.

Once it goes live I'm going to grind my ass off, and maybe get Realm First 85 DK. Bought some energy drinks and took a few days off from work. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Goblin Turbo Trike Guide

I finally got my Gobbo Trike last night after a few days of grinding, and it looks really cool. Here are some pics:

Learn how to get your own after the jump.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

4.0.3a Thoughts, Hotfixes

Weee, patch day! A totally fun clusterfuck of "Are the servers up? Woot! Now can I stay logged in long enough to do X?" There are plenty of awesome changes that went live last night; the new Org, revamped leveling zones, quests inside dungeons, etc. Of course, there were some broken things too (the mailbox crash was particularly frustrating when I was trying to list auctions), but that's par for the course on a patch day. Anyway, here's a list of what Blizz fixed for us overnight.

  • Alterac Valley, Isle of Conquest, and Strand of the Ancients should no longer attempt to place players in a level 80-84 bracket.
  • Players should no longer be disconnected from a realm when attempting to take an item out of the mail which has been marked for deletion.
  • The title "Champion of [guildname]" can no longer be improperly awarded to players.
  • The amount of gold received when converting Battleground Marks of Honor above the honor cap has been reduced to the intended amount.
  • Classes
    • Druids
      • The damage done by the following abilities has been reduced by approximately 17%: Mangle (Bear), Maul, Lacerate, Pulverize, Swipe (Bear), Thrash.
    • Hunters
      • A second pet can no longer be summoned when the active pet is dead.
    • Mages
      • Arcane Concentration will not go on internal cooldown when it fails to proc.
      • The damage from Deep Freeze on stun-immune targets is now properly benefitting from Frostburn, including when increased by Mastery Rating on gear.
      • Frostfire Orb now correctly triggers Ignite on critical hits.
      • Pyroblast! made available by Hot Streak will no longer consume Clearcasting.
      • When Scorch is cast by a mage who has Improved Scorch Rank 2, it will no longer consume Clearcasting.
      • Shatter now only increases the chance for Molten Armor's damage to be a critical strike when the target is actually frozen, as intended.
    • Paladins
      • Glyph of Light of Dawn no longer incorrectly reduces the healing of Light of Dawn.
    • Priests
      • Prayer of Healing is now properly healing all of the target's party members, unless they are further than 30 yards away.
      • Twisted Faith no longer gives a 4% damage increase to Mind Flay when Shadow Word: Pain is active on a target.
    • Rogues
      • Envenom now properly scales with Potent Poisons.
    • Warlocks
      • Soul Fire will no longer consume both Empowered Imp and Soulburn when they are active.  It will consume Empowered Imp and leave Soulburn still active.
    • Warriors
      • Shield Slam's damage has been reduced by about 28% at level 15, with less, but still noticeable reductions at higher levels.
  • Quests
    • The Wayward Fire Elemental is now properly tracked on the mini-map for the quest "Ice and Fire".
    • Fishing daily quests in Stormwind and Orgrimmar have returned.
    • Players will now reach their flight destination properly for the quest "Fuselight, Ho!"
    • It is no longer possible to use all the charges on the Purified Moonwell Water at a single brazier for the quest "Dousing the Flames of Protection".
    • The tauren quest "Heeding the Call" has been removed from the game and is no longer improperly still being offered to players.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's The End of the World (of Warcraft) As We Know It

4.0.3a is live TOMORROW! For those of you who don't know, this is the big patch that's changing the world of Azeroth to prepare for Cataclysm. Deathwing is unleashed, and the lands of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms will both be sundered by his arrival. In addition to the world changes, there are a plethora of class changes; DKs got another round of nerfs: DS healing down to 25% of damage taken, min 7% of max health (from 30% and 10%), Death Pact now heals for 25% instead of 40%, Rune Tap heals for 10% down from 15% (and it's glyph is now a 5% heal to the party instead of 10%), and lastly IBF is now 20% base, 50% talented (from 30%, 60%), on a 3m CD up from 2m. Sigh.

Full Patch Notes after the jump.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Sometimes, I play games other than WoW; this may surprise you. Just picked up Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and I'm loving it. It's definitely something that'll keep me occupied til Dec. 7th. Reposting my thoughts on this from a post I've made elsewhere, for my fellow WoW players who might be interested.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Elementals Attacking Org/TB! (Also SW/IF)

The final phase of the elemental invasion has finally begun! Every few hours, Orgrimmar and Thunderbluff will be attacked by elementals. Each city is attacked by two different kinds: Org gets hit with Fire and Earth, while TB is Water and Air. When the event starts, you'll be given a warning that it is about to begin; if you're low level, now's the time to bail. The elementals are level 80, and will not hesitate to slaughter you. Level 80s will be tasked with assisting in the defense of the city by placing sandbags in key locations to protect civilians. Also make sure to pick up a totem from the Earthen Ring guys throughout the city.

Patch 4.0.3 Going Live Tomorrow

This is mostly a minor changes patch, which also gets everything set up for the Shattering, when the world finally changes (that's patch 4.0.3a). Inspects are finally being fixed, which is about the only thing in there that I actually care about. Full notes after the jump.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Elemental Invasion++

The next phase of the Elemental Invasion went live today; there are now a bunch of citizens being detained outside of Orgrimmar.

There are a few more quests to this phase (not just 2 like last time), including an awesome Army of Darkness reference. Klaatu barada...

Still finishing them up; might add to this if there's anything interesting at the end of the line.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"the Insane" Changes, Goblin/Worgen Race Changes

A while back, Blizzard told players who were working on Insane in the Membrane to make sure to finish it soon, as several reputations were going to be removed in Cataclysm, making the Feat of Strength (and it's title) no longer available. Well, they've recently reversed their stance on that. Full details here, but the gist of it is that they're removing the Shen'dralar reputation as a requirement (because that rep will no longer exist); they're also allowing you to grind to exalted with the Bloodsail Buccaneers on Booty Bay Bruisers. If you're holding any of those Dire Maul librams or pristine black diamonds, sell now before everyone realizes they're worthless! This change will go live with the Shattering, patch 4.0.3a.

In unrelated news, Blizzard has stated that you WILL be able to race/faction change into Goblins and Worgen on Day 1 of Cataclysms launch; because of this, there will only be Realm First achievements for classes, not races. If you want to race change from a goblin/worgen into something else, you have to complete the starting area first (Kezan and Gilneas, respectively).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Elemental Invasion (Pre-Cataclysm Event)

The second phase of these quests went live yesterday; for those not playing, this is the event leading up to the Shattering which will change the world of Azeroth. It started a few weeks ago with earthquakes randomly occurring throughout the world. Then last week, the first set of quests went live; there are quest givers in Org and IF tasking players with investigating the cult spreading doomsday roomers and dealing with the invading elementals; two more quests went live this week. Additionally, there is a Feat of Strength available for killing the elementals found throughout the world: Tripping the Rifts. There isn't much to the event now, but as it ramps up it should get a lot more epic!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Diseaseless Blood Tank, GC Comments

I had been considering switching to a Diseaseless tank rotation for a while, and seeing this thread on the official forums reminded me. While tanking heroics I rarely use diseases on trash, preferring instead to drop D&D then BB; by the time you get two diseases up on a target it's likely dead before you even have a third gcd to spread them via pest. Even if you DO get them spread around, you've likely lost hate to your AoEing DPS, even if you had dropped D&D, because diseases generate no snap-aggro.

I haven't tried Diseaseless on bosses yet, simply because putting up diseases is habit after more than a year doing so. I've heard several players talk about how much easier it is, and I can certainly see using a DS instead of refreshing diseases situationally if you need the heal/shield. Here's Ghostcrawler's comment about it:
In the case of "diseaseless Blood," we don't have a problem if tanks choose to sacrifice some of their threat generation for a simpler rotation or other benefits. It doesn't bother us unless ignoring diseases becomes the only reasonable way to play (and with Outbreak available in Cataclysm, applying diseases is even easier). When dps specs were ignoring diseases, we made changes, because the whole DK rotation was based on applying diseases. That's true to a much lesser extent for tanks, but we try to have pretty simple rotation for tanks anyway because they have a lot of other things to worry about and are often having to deal with very dynamic situations compared to what a PvE dps DK might be doing.
 To me, he's stating that they don't really care how people play now, and that if a few tanks don't want to use diseases it's no big deal. However, if everyone stops using them, then they'll make changes; if you read between the lines, he's saying that going Diseaseless is intended to be sub-optimal. If it ever becomes the ideal rotation, then they'll either nerf it or buff diseases. After reading that, I don't see any point to dropping diseases from my rotation as it's clear that we are intended to use them. As GC says, with Outbreak it will only take 1 GCD to apply them, then 1 more to spread them. With Epidemic they actually last quite long, although I won't have that in my spec until Cata hits.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cataclysm Mounts

As I've stated before, I'm a mount collector. Just got my Green Protodrake last night (see below), which brings me up to 105 mounts! So, let's talk about the mounts they're adding in Cataclysm.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Battle Rez/Soulstone Changes

Coming in Cataclysm, Blizzard is changing how Battle Rez and Soulstone work; you will now only be able to use 1 Battle Rez OR Soulstone (not both) per fight in 10m, 3 total per fight in 25m. With this change, they're rolling the cooldown on Brez back to 10m (from 30). They're also resetting the cooldown on Battle Rez from 30m back to 10m. Now, a lot of people are up in arms about this change; I've even heard it described as the beginning of the end for WoW. However, this change fits in well with the theme of 4.0, which has been the reduction of buff stacking and eliminating the need to bring certain classes or fail.

Additionally, a change like this is NECESSARY to progression raiding. Before this change if you were learning a fight, you want all your resources available for every attempt. That means if you have 2 druids and 1 lock, you want both battle rezzes and the soulstone up for every pull; without them, what's the point in even trying? As a result, many raid groups would have to take 5 minute breaks between wipes to wait for skills to cooldown. But is that fun? Is it cool to schedule 3 hours of raiding but spend an hour of it sitting around waiting for skills to cooldown? Of course not, it's absurd and bad design.

The other problem this addresses is class stacking. In a 10m on live now, you could easily take 3 druids to a raid and get 3 battle rezzes without doubling up on specs or gimping your raid buff composition. Throw in a lock too, and that's 4 combat resurrections; nearly half your raid could die and come back to life. That's too powerful, making druids too "useful" for simply clicking one button and encouraging raid leaders to stack them.

This change is GOOD. It's good for the raiding game, and doesn't affect anyone else since you can still use 5 brezzes in a heroic if you're running with all druids.


Sorry for my absence; Fallout: NV was really addicting. However, I'm back now with regular posts daily on all things Warcraft.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cataclysm Newbie Thoughts

Since Cataclysm has placed such a large focus on new players and the leveling experience, I decided to use some of my beta time to roll a new guy to see the changes. On my live server I'm at the character cap already, and will have to delete a mule just to roll a goblin so I won't get to see much of the new content on live. So, I started up an undead warrrior; undead because I've always liked the Forsaken lore and warrior because I want to tank.

Very early on I'm impressed with the new level of story the quests show; it isn't all 'kill 10 rats' anymore, you're involved with several NPCs for more than single quests. There are also quests that begin automatically when you kill certain mobs (they don't even require drops), quests that complete and chain right in the field, etc. In Deathknell some of the quests are similar (first you kill undead, then hounds/bats, then spiders) but condensed: you don't need 10 of each type of undead anymore, you need 10 total, collect 3 bat wings instead of 8, etc. Generally they left the key story points of Tirisfal Glades intact while tightening it up, adding some new plot threads, and streamlining your path throughout the zone. Example: Once you hit Brill, you're given quests to go up to Garren's Haunt. After completing the quests there, you're sent directly to Agamand Mills without having to return to Brill to pick up new quests.

Once you're done with Tirisfal you head down to Silverpine, where the focus is on the Worgen. You battle the Worgen directly throughout the whole zone, eventually taking the fight into the city of Gilneas itself. This zone was a lot of fun, and felt almost completely different than it's vanilla version. You're working directly for Sylvannas here, and it really immerses you in the war going on between the Forsaken and the Worgen. Once Cata launches I recommend everyone go quest through this zone just to see an example of quests that put the War in Warcraft.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cataclysm Beta

I finally got in. ^_^ Copied over a DK, specced for tank and queued up for a heroic! Two wipes later, we're still on the first trash pull. I guess heroics really are going to be hard now? Not sure if want. You only start with blues, so maybe I need to grind some regular dungeons first before testing the heroic stuff. Or maybe we were just doing something wrong. More to come!

Friday, October 15, 2010

DK Tier Armor, 4.0.1 Prot Pally Thoughts

The wait is over for our Tier 11 gear; mmo-champion has a link up with nice pictures. It looks like each spec is going to have it's own color this time around, which is cool; I'm particularly fond of the blood set, as it reminds of the new Lich King.

Looking for a change of pace, I logged onto my Prot Pally last night to see how their changes look. Once I got my talents set (I skipped the Word of Glory stuff and took almost everything else in prot, then went ret), I put together an ICC10 PUG to see how the new stuff looked. With the Holy Wrath changes and Consecrate, I was able to hold AoE aggro very well. When we got to Marrowgar I main tanked him; my survivability seemed a little lower than before, although that might have been the nerfed Holy Pally healing me. I don't mind the Ardent Defender nerf, as at least it gives me another CD; LoH being usable now (instead of sharing a CD with Divine Prot) is also nice. The best part was my dps: I was landing 45k Shield crits with 3 Holy Power and ended up pulling 6.8k DPS as main tank; I outparsed our hunter and ele sham. The rest of the run was pretty terrible; our other tank was drunk and the holy pally kept DCing so we didn't get very far, but at least I got to check out the Protadin.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

4.0.1: The Beginning of the End

After considerable time and hassle downloading, patching, downloading and installing addons, etc., 4.0.1 has finally arrived! I got some hands on time with the DK tonite; I tanked a couple heroics and ran a VoA25 so I can get a handle on the new mechanics.

The Good
My unbuffed HP went up about 6k, from 47k to 53k. Things that factored into this include Plate Specialization (+5% Sta for wearing all Plate Armor; this would be 5% Str if I was Frost or Unholy spec), stats and a gem socket on Sigil of the Bone Gryphon, etc. We've gained a few new CDs as I mentioned previously: DRW as a defensive CD and Bone Shield, as well as a refresh on Rune Tap from WotN. Our mastery is nice; I reforged away some excess hit and the crit on my weapon and got up to 10 mastery rating, bringing the absorb on my DS up to 64% (can't tell how useful the absorbs are since Skada doesn't appear to track them well yet).

I had mentioned previously that QA and other auction addons were broken by this patch; the good news is that a nice guy named Supa94 has restarted QA as Auction Profit Master. I'll talk more about that tomorrow, but suffice to say it's an entirely sufficient replacement for the moment.

Other nice things include 310% flying on all mounts for only 5k gold, cool new UI elements for Character, Spellbook, Mounts/Companions, Talents, Glyphs, etc., an influx of players back to the game for the patch, and all kinds of stuff I'm probably forgetting or haven't noticed yet.

The Bad
The biggest negative I noticed while playing that I missed in previous write-ups is the change to Morbidity: previously it reduced the cooldown of D&D from 30s to 15s. Now, it increases damage done by 30%, but without the short cooldown AoE tanking heroics is a nightmare. I was losing threat left and right because, even specced, BB doesn't do it. We've got a glyph for longer duration but I really hope we get something that lowers the cooldown so it's available every trash pull in heroics.

Crimson Scourge and Scarlet Fever don't seem generally useful; I specced into them but found difficulty fitting BB into the rotation. On bosses it seemed a waste of a blood rune that didn't do enough threat, while on AoE pulls it was difficult getting diseases up, Pest, then finally getting to BB while still hoping to have a) aggro or b) mobs still alive. I'm probably going to drop them for BCB and/or Scent of Blood. The change to RS allowing it to be used while in Blood Pres w/o requiring dodge/parry isn't live yet, so I can't tell how much RP I'll need.

Our rotation (as intended) feels a lot more random now, due to Blood Rites (the old Death Rune talent that I never bothered with while tanking, but which we now get for free) and Runic Empowerment. Once the RS change hits, RE will probably feel a bit better since we'll be able to RS more predictably and thus get more procs.

The Miscellaneous
Trade chat spam is dead; you can now only send two messages in a ~30s period. Many addons are nonfunctional or crippled due to lack of updates. Stability has been surprisingly good, however; no world server crashes, instance caps or instance crashes that I've seen. There's a new raid UI that I guess is cool if you're a healer, but I'm not so I turned it off immediately; unfortunately I can't see my party while in a raid anymore which means I can't watch the other tank for HP, buffs/debuffs, etc.

All in all a decent patch that will take some getting used to. I still need to spend my DPS talents and try frost out, and maybe give unholy a whirl too. Then there's my other 6 80s...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quick Auctions and the like broken in 4.0.1

Blizzard is nerfing the StartAuction() and CancelAuction() UI functions to require an actual click or keypress come 4.0.1 (which goes live Tuesday 10/12), thus breaking most auction addons that automate posting or canceling large amounts of auctions. This sucks for me, as playing the AH is where I have a lot of my fun; I've been doing it since vanilla, and QA had made my life a lot easier. It's going to suck going back to manually posting everything.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cata Launch 12/7, WoW hits 12m!

We've finally got an official release date: Cataclysm will launch December 7th! At long last!

In other news, people who thought WoW was declining are wrong; we just hit a new peak at TWELVE MILLION players. This new milestone was met mainly by two things: players returning psyched for Cataclysm, and the launch of WotLK in China. Good to see that the game we all love is still growing!

Monday, October 4, 2010

4.0.1 Probably 10/12

Over the weekend, there was a minor update to the PTR (a couple achievement tweaks and some spell changes) which means we probably aren't getting the patch tomorrow. Should be next week though, assuming nothing goes awry.

Forgive the lack of updates the past few days; there hasn't been a lot of news and I've been busy working.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

4.0.1 October 5th or 12th

As all current players know, 4.0.1 is coming soon. It's been available on the background downloader for a few weeks now, and odds are it's going live next Tuesday, or the week after at the latest. This is essentially the pre-Cataclysm patch. Highlights include:

  • Talent changes
  • DK Rune changes/Hunter Focus/Pally Holy Power
  • New Badge system (Justice points)
  • Spell scaling
This patch doesn't change the world yet, but alters all of the core mechanics in preparation for Cataclysm. Should make things interesting, and give everyone a chance to learn their class, try the new talents, etc.

Full PTR notes after the jump.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WoW adds ability queue in Cata/4.0

According to this thread on the official forums, there is now an ability queue in WoW. To explain, currently if you push a button during a GCD, nothing happens because of the GCD. With this change, the first button you push during GCD becomes "locked" in queue; it is set to go off as the next skill you use. To some, that might sound cool: "I can decide what skill I'm going to use next earlier! That's awesome."

However, this leaves you unable to react to the ever-changing situation of combat. What happens when a proc goes off enabling/empowering Skill A, but you just queued Skill B? What if you notice you need to re-apply a DoT, but queued another nuke? What do you do in PVP if you queued up a damaging skill, but your target just got CC'd? The case of procs is where this probably hurts the most, as some procs (Bloodsurge) only give you a few seconds to react and the queue locks you out for another 1-1.5 seconds, giving you a smaller window in which to use your proc.

If this was an optional system that you could disable, I would have no problem with it. Some players (or even certain classes) could enable it if they found it beneficial, while others would not have to suffer unwanted changes to core gameplay mechanics. Hopefully Blizzard will add a toggle for this before it goes live.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Death Knight Tier 11 Armor Set Bonuses

Stats are finally out for all of the classes Tier 11 Armor. Unfortunately, models are only available for Warlock, Rogue, and Druid. Here's a link to all of the stats and set bonuses, but let's talk about the Death Knight sets.

DK Tier 11 Tank
Dodge seems to be the favored stat, appearing on 3/5 pieces; parry, hit and mastery all appear on two pieces. The stamina values seem REALLY high; nearly double what the ilvl 277 T10 set has now. Interesting to see that there are no high-armor (with armor in green) pieces this time around; I liked getting more mitigation from certain pieces instead of just avoidance.

The 2 piece bonus is 5% increased DS damage; not impressive but should help with threat, and traditionally the 2p has always done that instead of survivability.

The 4 piece is very nice, 50% longer duration for Icebound Fortitude. Anything that improves our cooldowns I'm a fan of, although I'll miss the T10 4p a lot going into Cata.

DK Tier 11 DPS
Haste is heavily favored for the DPS T11, it appears on 4/5 pieces (all but the legs); since haste now improved rune refresh rate, this looks good. hit rating and mastery appear on two pieces, and crit and expertise appear on one. The lack of expertise could make hitting the cap painful, but we'll see. Also interesting to note is that the DPS T11 has the same amount of stamina as the tank set; this fits with Blizzard's intent to close the gap in health pools between tanks and dps.

The 2 piece bonus makes up for the relative lack of crit rating on the armor: 5% increased crit chance with Death Coil and Frost Strike.

The 4 piece is a more broad dps increase: every time you gain a death rune (from Reaping, Blood of the North, or Blood Tap), you gain +1% attack power, stacking up to 3 times, for 30s.

Hopefully they put the models in for our tier soon!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dalaran Portals Removed in Cata!



Ahem. The latest beta change has been the removal of the portals to Org/IF/Sw from Dalaran and Shatt; the intention clearly being to force players back into their faction's capital cities instead of having everyone clustered in the previous expansion's content. According to many people online, this is the end of the goddamn world. Personally, I like the change. I've always liked the PVP aspect of Warcraft (and not just WoW), and found the idea of a neutral city that the Horde and Alliance shared (while not being able to kill each other) very silly. It broke immersion (such as it is) seeing tons of humans and orcs just chilling together in a game supposedly about war.

With this change we'll be back in Org, and they'll be back in IF or SW, and encounters with the opposite faction will be more rare (and bloody). All in all a good change to make things feel more worldly. This will also be another buff to mages, as the value of portals will rise considerably.

Cata Launch Delayed (probably)

According to MMO-Champion (who are usually right) Cata has been delayed; it was previously expected to launch in early November but now we're probably looking at an early December ship date. The interesting news is that Blizz intends to have the cataclysm happen and change the old world some time before that. This means we'll be able to mess around in the new world for a few weeks before the expansion actually launches and unlocks level 85, goblins/worgen, etc.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cata Questions: Are you coming back?

Since Cata's coming soon, let's see who's gonna be playing!

1. Have you ever played WoW?
2. Are you playing WoW now?
3. Do you plan to play when Cataclysm launches?
4. Horde or Alliance?
5. What class is/will be your main?

Death Knight Changes - Part Two

Let's talk talents.

This is now the dedicated tank tree. We gain Bone Shield from the old Unholy tree, Toughness from Frost, a -10% damage debuff added to Blood Boil, Crit Immunity from Blood Presence (bai bai def cap), free Icebound Fortitude, reduced CD on Strangulate, and finally Crimson Scourge; in addition to buffing Blood Boil's damage, if you use Plague Strike (since a single Unholy rune isn't super useful in an AOE tank situation) and the target is already infected with Blood Plague, your next BB is free. Additionally, Rune Tap is now improved by default, and a number of talents now cost less.

We lost...almost all of our DPS talents, as to be expected from a tanking tree. We retain Abom's Might to provide a raid buff (beyond horn), and remain a cooldown-focused tank. All in all, I'm generally pleased, although there honestly weren't that many changes to Blood from a tank perspective. Bone Shield isn't bad as long as it's viewed as another short cooldown instead of something to try and maintain for a damage buff.

Lastly, Blood's Mastery is Blood Shield: whenever you use Death Strike, you gain a shield that absorbs damage equal to 50% of the healing. I like this a lot, as it ensures you get the most out of your DS healing rather than risk some (or all) going to overhealing.

Frost gains On a Pale Horse (+mounted speed) from Unholy, a 4% increased physical damage taken debuff, a late-tier talent option for 2h Frost, and Pillar of Frost: essentially a tweaked Unbreakable Armor; it still increases Str by 20%, but rather than improve armor it now prevents against movement effects such as knockback. This fits the fact that Frost is now a dedicated dps tree; there is no longer a need for survivability talents. One final change of note is that Howling Blast now (again) has no cooldown.

In addition to losing a ton of passives, Frost loses Acclimation (magic resistance), Toughness, and Deathchill; the latter is the only DPS loss, as it was a free crit for your next Icy Touch, Frost Strike, Howling Blast or Obliterate on a 1m cooldown. Beyond that, the tree lost nothing interesting that was of any use for DPS. Frost's Mastery is Frozen Heart, a simple 20% increase to all Frost damage done. All told, they've done pretty well with Frost imo. Removing the cd on Howling makes the build more AoE friendly, while adding a 2h option (while maintaining dw) gives the tree a lot of versatility.

A lot of fun new stuff in the Unholy tree (which is good considering how many of it's old talents ended up in Blood and Frost). First off we've got Resilient Infection, a PVP talent that refreshes your runes when your diseases are dispelled. Next is Runic Corruption, which changes your Runic Empowerment to grant you +50% rune regeneration (instead of simply activating a random rune). Unholy also gains Hysteria, which is now renamed Unholy Frenzy. The final two new Unholy talents are ghoul related: first is Shadow Infusion, which applies a stacking (5x) 10% damage buff on your pet every time you cast DC. Next is Dark Transformation, which consumes all 5 stacks of Infusion to transform your pet for 30 seconds. These two really flesh out the role of the Unholy DK as the Warrior/Necromancer hybrid.

Gone are Bone Shield, On a Pale Horse, Wandering Plague, Crypt Fever/Ebon Plague, and a ton of passives. Surprisingly, Antimagic Zone remains (as does improved AMS), retaining the iconic PVP utility of the Unholy DK. The Mastery for Unholy is 20% increased disease damage; this is as unimpressive as Frost's, but with the rest of the changes it's hard to be too disappointed.

That wraps up my overview of the DK Talent changes coming for Cata. As with all unreleased content, this info is subject to change at any point. If that happens, I'll keep you guys posted.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Death Knight Changes - Part One

Ahh Death Knights...you either hate them, or they're your new main. I fall into the latter. ^_^ I came back to WoW for WotLK primarily because I wanted to try the Death Knight; WoW's first Hero class, and one I had personally hoped for as a Horde exclusive, has lived up to my expectations. From an amazing starter experience, to an unstoppable solo powerhouse while leveling up, to a monster in PVP BGs and WG, to a badass tank; I've had my fun. But let's talk about the future...

New Rune System
The biggest change for DKs in Cata is the revamping of our Rune system. On live now, both runes of any given type (Frost, Blood, or Unholy) refresh at the same time; in Cata only one rune of each type can refresh at one time. This will essentially half the frequency with which we are able to use abilities, barring some front-loading like a rogue or kitty. To compensate for that, Blizz has given us Runic Empowerment. Whenever we dump RP, we have a 45% chance to activate a random rune. The other change (particularly for tanks) is that Rune Strike is no longer 'Next Melee' and is instead an instant strike. This will give us something to do when all our runes are cooling down, and hopefully proc one back for us. Here's a blue post with some more discussion about Runic Empowerment, and it's affect on DPS rotations.

New Skills
As mentioned above, Runic Empowerment is the first of our new skills; Dark Simulacrum is another. It's similar to spell reflect except that it acts as a debuff on the target, triggering when they next cast a spell and copying it's effect for the DK. We also get Necrotic Strike, a PVP skill that absorbs healing that would be done to the target. This is sort of a replacement for the old Plague Strike functionality that removed HoTs. Next we have Outbreak, a 1m cd that applies both of our diseases to a target and consumes no runes or RP. I like this one, because it will help me still be able to drop DnD, get both diseases up, and throw a DS on pull. Finally we get Festering Strike, a B/F skill that extends the duration of Frost Fever, Blood Plague and Chains on the target by 6 seconds. I'm not sure how much use that'll see outside of PVP, but we'll see.

Next time, I'll talk about the talent changes coming for Cata.

Cataclysm Talent Changes (General)

I know I'm a bit late to the party here, but I'd like to state how much I dislike the new, 31 point talents. The amount of freedom and customization the talent system has allowed was one of WoW's best features. It wasn't as deep as the AA system of EQ or EQ2, but still had enough depth that there were always a number of viable builds. Even in the "cookie cutter" specs most builds had 3-5 points of freedom in what they took.

When it was first announced that Cataclysm would have no new talents, but instead 5 more points allowing 51/21/x builds, I was psyched. There were so many cool combos I hoped to try out: Warlock SL/Meta, Rogue h4b/prep, etc. Even if you didn't want another 21p talent, 5 more points adds a TON of freedom to the build. All in all, a greater degree of freedom despite the fact that they weren't adding any 'new' talents.

Then they do an about-face, and say that they're cutting the trees back to Vanilla level, 31p. Furthermore, you MUST spend 31 in a tree before you can even branch out into a 2nd. That fact, combined with the removal of many talents, means that you're basically choosing a spec at level 10 and then fleshing it out with very little choice until level 70 or so. Additionally, you no longer get a talent point every level, which will make each of the games 85 levels feel even less important (removal of spell ranks only compounds this effect). That's not a huge deal to those of us who are already 80, but leveling has already felt tedious, and this is a change for the worse.

All in all I don't see the point in this change; they're dumbing down something that already wasn't difficult. If you're bad and can't make your own talent spec, you can look up a guildmate on the armory, or just check EJ. But apparently, that's too much work for the average WoW-tard.

Oh Hai

Hey guys, just starting this out as a place mostly to talk about Cata when it hits. 'til then I'll muse about random WoW related shit, and occasionally other game related topics. I play Horde on a PVP server; my main is a Tauren DK but I have almost every class at 80. I raid a lot, but not with a static guild or group. My server's got a pretty good PUG scene for ICC25, and I've lead a number of ICC10 LK kills.

That's all for now.