Archive for August, 2008

I was going to make this a post about 10 man content, but news that Blizzard are shipping all the Wrath of the Lich King talent changes with their next patch came out of left field and caught me a little cold.  Since it’s the biggest news in town at the moment, it’d be remiss of me not to comment, so before we go any further, here’s the blue post:

With the release of Wrath of the Lich King approaching, we wanted to provide you with some important information. In preparation for the expansion, we will be issuing a new content patch in the coming weeks. Much like the patch made available shortly before The Burning Crusade’s release, this content patch is designed to bridge current game content with that of the expansion and will contain some exciting changes and additions.

We have outlined some of the larger features scheduled to release with the patch below:

New class spells and talents
Stormwind Harbor
Barbershops in capital cities
Zeppelin towers outside of Orgrimmar and Tirisfal Glades

Two brand-new Arenas featuring challenging new layouts, terrain hazards, and moving obstacles
Guild calendar
Hunter pet skill revamp
New profession: Inscription

As mentioned above, this is not a comprehensive list, just some of the major highlights. We’ll post the full patch notes as soon as they’re available. Regarding Inscription, please note that all Burning Crusade players will be able to select Inscription as one of their two professions and level up to a skill level of 375 with it. Upon the release of Wrath of the Lich King, players who purchase and install the expansion will be able to continue leveling in Inscription and the other professions beyond 375.

So, much as when The Burning Crusade was released, we’re getting a whole bunch of changes released prior to the expansion to smooth the transition.  So far so good.  Or is it?  Rather than refer you to our full panel of experts, we’ll just get Calli and Shinano to cover the things I’ve looked at most closely.  Gorn also had something he wanted to say.

Calli, any comments from the mage perspective?

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Less QQ more Pew Pew!

Posted: 22 August, 2008 in Mage
Tags: , ,

Regular readers of any kind of mage blog or forum will doubtless have heard the litany of complaints about how everything we can do, some other class can do better.  Here are a few of the old examples:

Mages do ranged dps, just not as well or for as long as Warlocks or Hunters.
Mages get a damage immunity/debuff clearing mechanic in Iceblock, except unlike Rogue Cloak of Shadows, when we use it, it crowd controls us.
Mages get a threat clearing ability in Invisibility, except unlike Warlock Soulshatter, Hunter Feign Death or Rogue Vanish, it takes an age to kick in and can be interrupted if a fly lands on your nose.
Mages can get free food and water.  True, but the stuff you get from the vendors doesn’t disappear when you log out, and you don’t have to be in a group to get a vendor to sell you stuff.
Mages do kickass AoE damage.  Three words.  Seed.  Of.  Corruption.
Mages get crowd control with Polymorph.  Sap, Blind, Seduce, Hibernate, Mind Control, Freezing Trap, Banish, Cyclone, Shackle, etc, etc, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The list goes on.  For anyone who’s really interested in reading more, feel free to go take a good long look at My Mage Sucks, Yours Does Too.  No seriously, take a look, if nothing else it IS an amusing blog, in a cynical kinda way.

Ok, all of that stuff is old news, and while I certainly believe it’s true that Mages in Warcraft as it stands right now are far too much glass and nowhere near enough cannon, I still enjoy playing my mage and don’t plan on switching to any other class when the expansion hits.

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It seems there’s another beta build on the test servers and there’s a fairly massive change been slipped in. WoW Insider just reported that downranked spells now cost much more mana than maximum rank, sometimes more than 100 mana more than the highest rank.  How is this going to affect you?  Over to our panel of experts.  Calli, you first.

*yawn*  Oh sorry, you wanted a comment? Well I guess that on fights like Morogrim Tidewalker in Serpentshrine Cavern, Mages are going to have use max rank Frost Nova to root the murlocs in place and keep them away from the healers, assuming your raid uses that strategy and doesn’t have a tankadin or a Water Elemental to do it from a safe distance.  The increased damage is fairly trivial, so threat shouldn’t be an issue.  Can’t see anything to get excited about, personally.

Ow! Put the stick away!  Ok, ok..  pvp implications…  Well the days of spamming Rank 1 Arcane Explosion to flush Rogues and Kitties out of hiding are well and truly over.  Yes, the Rogues are rolling their faces all over their keyboards in utter glee at this one.  Rank 1 Frostbolt will probably still be used to get that initial snare off quickly but it’s probably going to be a lot more situational now, and the days of spamming Rank 1 Frostbolt to get that Winter’s Chill debuff up are probably long gone too.  Rank 1 Frost Nova in pvp is also dead and buried.  Speaking personally, I’m a raiding Fire Mage who’s already paid the pvp penance to get the trinket, so I have no need to either use downranked anything or pvp at all anymore.

Now on the other hand if I was a Frost Mage who did Arenas or Battlegrounds…  ouch.  Shinano, over to you.

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WoW Insider just reported something that’s good news for casters everywhere, but incredibly good news for Frost Mages. Full details at the link, but a brief summary here. Spell pushback mechanics have been changed on the beta servers. When you’re casting and take damage, the first two hits add 0.5 seconds to your cast time, further hits have no effect. Channeled spells have a similar change – the first two hits take 25% off the channel duration, further hits have no effect.

Why so good for Frost mages? Well since the only spell pushback protection they have is when either using two pieces of Tier 4 or when under the effects of Icy Veins (or if you’re really desperate, two pieces of Battlecast gear), it can take our Frosty brethren an age to get even a single Frostbolt off when that Big Red Kitty’s chewing on their faces or the Raid Boss is putting out environmental damage. Just imagine a fight like Curator in Karazahan with the aoe pulse those Arcane Flares push out. I’d been Frost since level 40 and loved it, still do. But back when Kara was progression content, I was as much use an ashtray on a motorbike at Curator, I just couldn’t get a spellcast off. Curator was our big stumbling block at the time, he pretty much marks the boundary between “easy” lower Karazhan and “hard” upper Karazhan. If this mechanic had been Live at the time, I probably still wouldn’t have been doing stellar dps, but I’d have been able to remain competitive. As it was I was forced to respec Fire (and respec from Frozen Shadoweave to Spellfire tailor, sheesh that cost me a fortune!) in order for the raid to progress past him.

This is awesomely good news for Frost mages for raiding, because as far as I was concerned, while the new Frost talents in the Wrath beta were all very nice, they still didn’t do anything to help Frosties with the biggest barrier to raid progression – spell pushback.

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There seems to have been another patch sneaked onto the Beta servers without my noticing it, Blizzards are getting sneaky. So what’s changed? Oh nothing much. Living Bomb’s had a small tweak for one thing. Here follows a quick image of a Mage casting Living Bomb on someone:

Oh yes, you heard that right. Casting Living Bomb ON someone. Targetted. Not channelled. Heck, there are reports from pvp beta testers that Fire Mages are owning many faces. Yes, hard to believe, but I jest not. Fire mages are making with the serious face ownage. On a massive scale. I’m laughing so much right now I fell off my desk. Hurray for cordless keyboards!

Okay, okay, before we get too carried away, let’s just look at this in slightly more detail.

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So we’re in Sunwell Plateau and we get Kalecgos down without too much trouble. We’re a bit low on Decursers so it was hard work for Calli. The Trees had it even harder though, so I shouldn’t complain. Anyway, he dies, we don’t and the loot was so forgettable I can’t even remember what it was. Oh yeah, the raid leader got Fang of Kalecgos for the massive sum of 1 DKP since he was the only one who was interested.

So, on to Brutallus. Oh boy. The Fat Bastard is still giving us grief. In short, we didn’t down him, and we went back last night and still didn’t down him. We were having problems with healing the tanks through the Stomps, but last night that was all fixed and things were looking very promising. But you know those nights when people just can’t get their act together? Doesn’t matter which instance you’re in, it can happen to anyone. I did a Heroic Ramparts once with a group that was all in T5+ gear and it just wasn’t working at all. Yeah, last night was one of those nights. People were jumping Burns to each other, I got the calls wrong on the Meteor Slashes so the tanks were taunting too early, all the good stuff. On the bright side the healing is fixed and we definitely have the dps to spare to get him down again, we just need to gel and I’m confident he’ll go down again on Sunday.

Anyway, enough about that, this is supposed to be a Priest post! So we leave after the raid and all go our seperate ways. I’m busy in Dustwallow Marsh on Askara, my shaman (level 40 now, woop!) and one of the guys starts asking for a healer for a Karazahn PuG. I’ve PuG’d Kara before and it’s generally been anything ranging from either Ok to great, so I offer my help, free badges are always good, after all. Aluriel, my Priest is currently shadow, but Shinano is Resto so I log and get summoned. It’s a two-healer raid, both of us Trees, and we have no Shaman or Paladin. I look at all the dps and start to get a very, very bad feeling about Ressurrections. Sure enough, it’s one of those raids. In the first 6 pulls Shinano dies through aggro 4 times. I’d joined the raid just after Curator, so it’s a long old run back when neither of the two Warlocks thought that farming some soul shards or using a Soulstone might be a good idea. I start to get that sinking feeling.

So in an effort to try to prop things up a little, and despite the fact that I could really use the badges more on Shinano, I offer to log Aluriel and respec to healer. Within minutes, I find myself standing in front of the Priest trainer wondering where to spend my talent points.

Aluriel has always been Discipline/Holy. I levelled her to 70 when Burning Crusade came out as a Healer. It worked out pretty well, she just made her xp by doing instances, a healer who could actually, you know.. heal… was always in demand funnily enough. The downside of levelling as an Improved Spirit Priest was of course, that I’d never experienced Circle of Healing.

Now I know what they all say, you don’t need Circle of Healing in Karazahn, although it’s practically essential for anything higher than Serpentshrine Cavern. Yeah, I know, it’s overkill for a Kara raid, but I was interested in seeing what the new spec was like, and being able to afford 5/5 Empowered Healing would make up for the loss in healing from Improved Divine Spirit.

So, newly specced and with some confusing new icons on my casting bar, I head back into Kara and we get ready to pull Shade of Aran. Well, I say we “get ready” but what actually happens is that before we’ve even buffed or assigned interrupts, one of the warlocks does an accidental ninja pull. All hell breaks loose and it’s at this point that I became a convert. I tell ya, Circle of Healing is 100% pure, unmitigated WIN! I’m not knocking the other healer, she did a damn fine job, bless her leafy little branches, but Circle of Healing just owned on that fight.

The rest of the run was one cock up after another, but we sort of muddled through until the first wipe on Netherspite when I started to get really frustrated. Top tip guys, if you’re doing Netherspite with two healers and you get hit by Netherbreath, don’t stand around waiting for a healer to come running to your raggedy ass, because it ain’t going to happen. We covered one side of the room each, and if you’re not in range for a heal when you land after the breath hits you, GET in range, because you’re not the only one who needs heals and I’m not interrupting my cast to run halfway across the room because you didn’t have the sense to save your own ass! Oh yeah, and standing in Void Circles? COME ON! Get with the programme!

Ok, good to get that off my chest. Anyway, after wipe #1 I did the stroppy healer thing and laid down the law. You know, the whole “I’m indispensable and you clowns better start to focus or I’ll stamp my feet and cry” thing that Priests are so famous for. And bugger me if it didn’t work! The Warlocks in the Blue Beam actually started using Drain Life to give themselves a chance of surviving instead of spamming Shadowlol bolts, the rotations went perfectly and the boss dropped dead before I even noticed. Literally. It was like that Ramparts run I described earlier, the group had the numbers on paper to make the run trivial, but the synergy just wasn’t there and it just needed a swift boot up the behind to get people focussing on their game again. As for Prince? Pfft, despite the bloody infernals landing on the tank’s head each and every time, we one-shotted him. It’s always nice when a plan comes together.

And Circle of Healing? I love you and I want to have your babies.

I’ve got to be honest with you, I have almost no idea which way Calli’s going to spec when Wrath of the Lich King ships.  The one thing I do know is that it won’t be Fire.  Well…  the way Fire seems to be shaping up as the lolspec gimmick tree, that is.

Obviously we can’t tell yet exactly how things are going to end up, and I’ve had a play around with the talent calculators over at WoWhead as I’m sure we all have; but if we can’t say precisely where things are going to end up, we can at least see how things have developed since the closed alpha and get a pretty good idea of the way Blizzard intend things to go.  Fire, the raiding build of choice since after Blackwing Lair, is not looking very competitive in Wrath.  Well, that’s not strictly true.  It is possible to make a decent raiding build of sorts with Fire, you just have to avoid all the gimmick aoe talents.  The problem you then find yourself with is twofold:

1.  You’re arguably worse off than you are with the current cookie cutter 02/48/11 Fire/Icy Veins spec.
2.  Deep Arcane beats seven different shades of shit out of Deep Fire.

Let’s see what Deep Arcane gets us:

1.  40% reduced threat on Arcane spells
2.  80 resistance to all schools of magic
3.  2% of your total mana back on any spell you resist
4.  Clearcasting
5.  The very awesome Focus Magic
6.  30% mana regen while casting, even with Molten Armour
7.  15% more Intellect
8.  Presence of Mind
9.  3% extra spell damage and crit chance
10.  Arcane Power
11.  50% crit damage bonus on ALL spells
12.  Spellpower increased by 25% of your Intellect
13.  6% native spell haste
14.  Arcane Barrage

Two words spring to mind looking at all of that, and they’re both “pew”.  Best of all, you can get all of that at level 65.  By the time you’re 80 you’ll have 15 points left to blow on the Fire or Frost trees.

And this is where things get confusing.

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