Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

To celebrate Thanksgiving, along with scarfing down my body weight in turkey, I decided to put together a short list of some of the World of Warcraft related things we all have had to be thankful for this past year. Enjoy the list and have a wonderful holiday!

New Onyxia

To celebrate World of Warcraft's fifth anniversary, Blizzard treated Azeroth's inhabitants with the re-release of an epic classic encounter: Onyxia's Lair. Not only was the encounter tweaked for level 80 play, but the designers went the extra mile and retooled the Brood Mother's loot table with updated versions of her classic drops. Dripping with nostalgia for long time players and presenting a living piece of Warcraft's history for new recruits, the new Onyxia's Lair is definitely something to be thankful for.


In patch 3.1, Blizzard opened up the whole of the Titan facility Ulduar for exploration. Azeroth's adventurers were treated to a massive raid dungeon with fourteen entirely distinct boss encounters. When one considers the 10, 25, and heroic versions of many of these battles the amount of content crammed into the instance is staggering.

It is not just the size of Ulduar, however, that makes it one of the past years highlights. The innovation demonstrated within the instance's walls is also cause for celebration. Each of the boss encounters is challenging and unique, presenting interesting hurdles to even the most hardy of adventurers. Further, tweaks such as teleporters and progressive heroic modes changed the face of World of Warcraft raiding forever. Ulduar is certainly worth our thanks.

The Argent Tournament

Aside from a new five player dungeon, a new raid, tons of quests, and unique, enjoyable rewards, the Argent Tournament has gone a long way to relight the fires of animosity between the factions while simultaneously bringing the factions in close proximity to one another. Though players are constantly representing their faction, it has rarely been so clear or grand as within the context of the Argent Tournament. Whether you like or hate jousting, there is still much to be thankful for resting atop (and beneath) the Argent Tournament Grounds.

Isle of Conquest

With an expansive map, complex resource system, and tons of explosions, the Isle of Conquest Battle Ground is clearly a spiritual successor to Alterac Valley. It is hard not to smile as you parachute from a massive airship, drop a bomb at your enemy's gate, or charge into the opposing faction's keep. Isle of Conquest increased the scope of what is possible in a World of Warcraft Battleground and I am certainly thankful for that.

Dual Specs

Rarely has a new feature added as much to the average player's quality of experience as the addition of Dual Specs. Even if you have not dumped the thousand gold to unlock your second talent tree, if you have ever grouped with someone who is running as their "off spec," you owe this feature some gratitude. Obviously, talent point allocation should be a commitment and I would argue that it still is. With Dual Specs, however, a player can PvP and PvE or fill two different group rolls without the incredible hassle and minor expense of relearning talents. I love this feature.

Updated Druid Forms

It was a long time coming, but during the past year Druid's finally got updated Feral Form models. Not only do the new models look great, but they are also tied to your characters appearance giving a sense of personality to your Druid even when in Feral Forms. Here is hoping next year we can be thankful for new Moonkin and Tree Form models.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hot Video: Invincible Mount and Perky Pug

The good folks over at MMO Champion have just released a set of videos featuring content data-mined from the upcoming World of Warcraft Patch 3.3. In the first video, we can catch a glimpse of a new mount being added to the game, the flying horse Invincible. In life, Invincible was Arthas' loyal steed. In death, he is a crazy looking mount you can nab in Icecrown Citadel. Odds are Invincible will be the Mimiron's Head of Icecrown, but no details have been released as of yet. Enjoy the video:

The next video is of a new pet being introduced in 3.3, the Perky Pug. This pet will be available as a reward for participating in World of Warcraft Patch 3.3's random dungeon feature. Be sure to watch this one to the end as the little dog's funniest animation lies at the end of the clip.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mr. T in World of Warcraft: Really!?!

Earlier this month, Blizzard unveiled the first in a new series of World of Warcraft commercials featuring the largely irrelevant Mr. T. Feel free to check out the commercial below:

The second commercial was unveiled just two days ago and is already circulating on around the airwaves. Here it is:

Aside from being relatively silly and based entirely on another World of Warcraft commercial which aired nearly two years ago (check it out below), the Mr. T ads are relatively harmless.

Where things get bizarre, however, is the in game impact of Blizzard's latest advertising campaign. To coincide with the release of the first commercial, Blizzard introduced a new item to the World of Warcraft: the Mohawk Grenade. The Grenades can be obtained from NPCs positioned in Azeroth's starter areas. Anyone caught in the blast radius of one of these grenades will find themselves looking a bit like a college mascot wearing a giant "Nightelf Mowhawk" head.

The creation of the Mohawk Grenade is a bit of an odd move for Blizzard. Obviously, it is not World of Warcraft's first in game promotion. I am sure we all remember battling Mountain Dew powered robots not too long ago. What sets the Mohawk campaign apart, however, is that the promotion is for World of Warcraft itself. An in game promotion only reaches consumers who have already purchased Blizzard's product. Why Blizzard would devote its limited resources towards such a project I do not know.

The Mohawk Grenade is also another indication of Blizzard's increasing commercialization of Azeroth through both meta-game promotions and micro-transactions. It began with paid "character services" such as name changes and paid transfers, and continues with race changes, faction changes, and likely eventually class changes. Even more marked is the recent addition of purchasable in game pets including the Pandaren Monk and Lil' KT.

Most have speculated, and rightfully so, that most of these changes are the result of the Blizzard - Activision merge and "greedy Activision's" desire to squeeze every possible cent out of World of Warcraft. If that is the case, no one can really fault Activision for attempting to maximize their profit. It is a business after all. One does have to wonder though if at some point, the commercialization of Azeroth will cross a line and the increased micro transactional revenue will be offset by the attrition of an increasingly alienated player base. I guess only time will tell. In the meantime, however, Mr. T's Nightelf Mohawks have taken root in Azeroth, like it or lump it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trial of the Crusader Quick Tips

Say you have just gotten into a Trial of the Crusader PuG and realize you have no idea what you are supposed to do. Now imagine it is your Guild's first run at the instance and you keep wiping, but you are not sure why. Lastly, picture you are a raid leader putting together a group for Trial of the Crusader and you need a quick easy way to explain the fights to that one new dps you just invited. In any of those situations, the Trial of the Crusader quick tips below are for you!

These tips do not lay out all the nuances of each encounter, but they should be sufficient to keep you alive and productive in both the 10 and 25 man version of Trial of the Crusader.

Beasts of Northrend Tips:

Gormok the Impaler

Tanks: Taunt off the other tank whenever the stacking debuff reaches three. Taunt the target back when your debuffs have gone away.

DPS: Do not stand in the fire. Immediately shift your dps to any Snobolds which are attacking you or your party members.

Healers: Do not stand in the fire. Call out for help if a Snobold is on you. Increase heals on the tanks when their debuff is at three.

Acidmaw and Dreadscale

Tanks: Point your worm away from the raid. Move the mobile worm out of poison clouds. If you get a Paralytic Toxin debuff, call out for a raid member with a Burning Bile debuff to come to you or, if necessary, go to them.

DPS: Burn down Acidmaw. Stay spread out. If you get a Paralytic Toxin debuff, immediately run to a raid member with the Burning Bile debuff. Do not stand in the poison clouds.

Healers: Stay spread out. If you get a Paralytic Toxin debuff, immediately run to a raid member with the Burning Bile debuff. When one worm dies, the other increases its damage, so step up the heals. Do not stand in the poison clouds.


Tanks: Only one tank is required. Tank him near the center of the room. After he knocks everyone to the wall, run out of his way if he is aimed to charge towards you.

DPS: Stay spread out. After he knocks everyone to the wall, run out of his way if he is aimed to charge towards you. Blow your cooldowns and hit him hard after he crashes into a wall.

Healers: Stay spread out. After he knocks everyone to the wall, run out of his way if he is aimed to charge towards you. Land big heals to keep the tank alive after Ferocious Butt.

Lord Jaraxxus

Tanks: Main needs to hold Lord Jaraxxus in the center of the room and interrupt Fel Fireball casts whenever possible. Off tank needs to pick up the Mistress of Pain who spawns from each Nether Portal and tank her away from the raid. Off tank needs to pick up the three Felflame Infernals who spawn from each Fel Volcano and tank them away from the raid as much as possible despite their aggro dumps.

DPS: Stay spread out. Interrupt Fel Fireball whenever possible. Spellsteal or dispell the Jaraxxus' Nether Power buff. When you are standing in green flame, run out of it towards the wall. Ranged dps should immediately switch to burning Felflame Infernals or Mistresses of Pain whenever they spawn.

Healers: Stay spread out. When you are standing in green flame, run out of it towards the wall. When a player gets the Incinerate Flesh debuff, immediately heal them until the debuff is removed. This fight is healing intensive.

Faction Champions:

Tanks: Go to more PvP viable offspecs if you can. Keep melee dps classes off of other players using Taunts, snares, and crowd control (subject to diminishing returns). Contribute damage to focus fire targets as much as possible.

DPS: Focus fire. Kill healers first. Use all crowd control and snares at your disposal. Heal yourself if you can. Kite mobs if necessary to survive.

Healers: Use all crowd control and snares at your disposal. Land heavy heals on the mobs focus fire target. Keep yourself alive and kite as needed.

Twin Val'kyr:

Tanks: Click the portal of the opposite color of the Val'kyr you plan to tank. Tank the Val'kyr close together. Touch orbs that match your color when possible.

DPS: Click the portal of the opposite color of the Val'kyr you are dpsing. If a Val'kyr begins casting Twin's Pact, switch dps to it (switching your color if needed) to break its shield and then interrupt the spell. If a Val'kyr begins casting Vortex, immediately switch to that Val'kyr's color to avoid being killed by the resulting AoE. Touch same color orbs whenever you can. Avoid opposite color orbs. The Twins share a health pool so dps whichever is convenient at any given time.

Healers: If a Val'kyr begins casting Vortex, immediately switch to that Val'kyr's color to avoid being killed by the resulting AoE. Touch same color orbs whenever you can. Avoid opposite color orbs. Try to stay the opposite color of the dps so as to increase orb absorption.


Tanks: Main tank holds Anub'arak where he starts, facing him away from the raid. Off tank picks up adds and tanks them on top of blue permafrost. When Anub'arak is underground, tanks help dps kite small adds and run from spikes if chased. Draw spikes into permafrost to destroy them if they you can no longer outrun them.

DPS: One ranged dps shoots floating orbs so as to scatter permafrost around area. Switch target to big adds and burn them down whenever they appear. Kite and kill small adds when Anub'arak is underground. Run from spikes if chased. Draw spikes into permafrost to destroy them if they you can no longer outrun them.

Healers: Run from small adds when Anub'arak is underground. Run from spikes if chased. Draw spikes into permafrost to destroy them if they you can no longer outrun them. When Anub'arak begins casing Leeching Swarm, let everyone but the tanks' health hover as low as you can.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bear Form Threat Guide

For some time now, Feral Druid tanks have been a viable option for even the most challenging of World of Warcraft's encounters. When designing a new Bear tank, most players put a great deal of thought into survivability, tweaking gear, gems, glyphs, and enchants to generate huge health pools and a hearty dodge percentage. That is all well and good, but absorbing damage is only half of a good Druid tank's job. Aggro management, or holding your targets' attention, is the other piece of the tanking puzzle and is just as important.

For a fresh level eighty Feral Druid, maintaining threat can be a huge problem. In heroics and introductory raids, you will frequently find yourself fighting alongside veteran damage dealers. Aside from generating well over 3k dps with little effort, these players are likely accustomed to an AoE burn play-style that pays little attention to threat management. As a result, any Feral Tank who neglects threat maximization will quickly find them self surrounded by the corpses of soon to be former group members. To help you avoid this terrible fate, I have laid out some Bear Form threat tips below that should help your targets stick to you like glue.

1. Bear Form Rotation

Using the right abilities in the right order is key to maintaining threat.

For Single Targets:

Generally speaking, you should always open a pull with Feral Faerie Fire because it is ranged, super high threat, and free. If you cast this while closing on your target or Charging, your global cool down should be up by the time you reach it meaning you can immediately follow up with Mangle. Then, it is time to start stacking Lacerates up to five. To maximize your initial threat, interrupt your Lacerate stacking whenever Mangle or Feral Faerie Fire is available. Once you hit five stacks of Lacerate, use Swipe in its place making sure to Lacerate only enough to keep the debuff rolling at five stacks.

It is also important that you Maul on every single melee attack. Maul generates huge amounts of threat and a missed Maul can spell disaster for your party. Obviously you must make concessions if your rage is limited, but you will want to cut your post five stack Swipes rather than your Mauls. They are just that important.

In summary, for single target Bear threat:
Keep Maul up throughout, open with Feral Faerie Fire, Mangle, stack Lacerate to five interrupting to Mangle or Feral Faerie Fire whenever possible, and then Swipe whenever Faerie Fire and Mangle is on cool down except where Lacerate is needed to prevent the debuff falling off

For Multiple Targets:

For large pulls, simply spam Swipe and Maul while cycling targets. Use the Infected Wounds debuff to track which targets have yet to feel the wrath of your Maul and keep them targeted until they get the debuff. As long as you are spreading around your Mauls and pounding mercilessly on your Swipe key, you should be able to hold on. If trouble strikes, use Challenging Roar to lock down the group while you catch back up to the dps.

For smaller multiple target pulls, Berserk and Mangle/Maul spam can quickly lock down your targets. If Berserk is unavailable, Maul and Swipe while target cycling just like with the larger pulls. If a particular target is threatening to pull away, hit it with Mangle. This will not only generate a quick burst of threat, but will enhance Maul damage on the target for the duration of the debuff increasing your chances of holding it for the long run. Just be sure not to neglect too many Swipes as you may lose track of your other targets.

2. Glyph for Threat

Unless there is a very specific reason to the contrary, every Bear Druid should have Glyph of Maul equipped. Hitting two targets at once with this threat hammer is key to holding the attention of more than one mob at a time. Bear Tanks with serious threat problems may also want to swap out Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration or Glyph of Survival Instincts for Glyph of Growl to increase the chances of recovering from dropped threat.

3. Gear for Threat

Particularly in a raid setting, when a Bear Tank has threat problems it is often due to not enough of a Druid's attacks connecting. This problem is easily remedied through increasing Expertise. Though you should not gem for Expertise, working it into your gear will appreciably help your threat by reducing the percentage of your attacks which are dodged or parried. Push your Expertise Rating to 213 then feel free to start mixing in Hit Rating to further increase your threat generation. A Druid tank will stop seeing any benefit for Expertise at a 492 rating and for Hit at 262.

There are also threat boosting glove enchants available in the form of Enchant Gloves - Threat and Enchant Gloves - Armsman, but you should try to stay away from these as you would be better served by Stamina boosting Heavy Borean Armor Kits. If you are going to get one of these enchants anyway, may as well go with Threat as it will likely be cheaper and Bears do not benefit from Armsman's parry boost.

4. Prepare for Pulls

Going into a pull with a healthy amount of Rage and targets marked will make maintaining threat infinity easier. As for Rage, shift in and out until your Furor procs and then pop Enrage. If your threat is exceptionally weak, let Enrage run its full course before charging in. If you have a little wiggle room, simply take the initial Rage dump for the ability, cancel the debuff (so as to avoid the damage reduction) and head in swinging.

For the exceptionally lazy Bear you can auto mark the primary attack target with Faerie Fire by using the following macro:

#showtooltip Faerie Fire
/cast Faerie Fire (Feral)
/script SetRaidTarget("target",8)

5. Macro for Threat

As mentioned in the rotation section, to maximize your threat, you will want to
Maul on every single white attack. Firing up all those Mauls manually can be exhausting, distracting, and can easily lead to mistakes. As a result, automating your Mauls can not only make your life much easier, but can also help increase your threat output.

Thankfully, automating your Mauls is as simple as creating Macros for all your key abilities (Faerie Fire,
Lacerate, Swipe, and Mangle) which causes them to also trigger Maul. Use the template below to generate your Macros replacing ABILITY with Swipe, Lacerate, etc.

/cast !Maul

6. When All Else Fails

Sometimes your dps will out gear you to such an extent that even despite following all the tips above, aggro will still be an issue. At that point, it is time to turn to your group mates for help. A Hunter's Misdirection or a Rogue's Tricks of the Trade can really help you lock down a target, especially if used as many times as their cooldowns allow. Additionally, many dps classes have threat reducing or dropping abilities and you would be wise to caution them to watch their threat and use those abilities as needed.

Also, do not forget your Growl and be quick to use it whenever a target turns away. Increased hit rating will help your Growls land more consistently. Also, immediately follow up your Growls with a high threat ability like Mangle or Faerie Fire to lock your target back in place. If Growl fails Challenging Roar is your go to backup. If both fail or are unavailable, Berserk driven Mangle spam will give you the best chance of reclaiming aggro. Good luck and happy tanking!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Druid Set Bonus Guide

In World of Warcraft, everyone would love to get their hands on the latest armor set. The bonuses which accompany collecting the pieces of these sets provide powerful benefits which generally cannot be otherwise gained. As a result, when gearing up your Druid, it is important to keep these set bonuses in mind. To help you, I have broken down the set bonuses for all the level 80 Druid Armor sets below. Use this information to target those bonuses which would most benefit your character.

Druid Tier Seven Armor Set: Dreamwalker
Found in Naxxramas, on Sartharion and Archavon, and purchased with Emblems of Valor

Restoration: Dreamwalker Regalia
2/5 Bonus: The Cost of Your Lifebloom is Reduced by 5%
4/5 Bonus: Your Nourish heals for an additional 5% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target

Balance: Dreamwalker Garb
2/5 Bonus: Your Insect Swarm deals an additional 10% damage
4/5 Bonus: Your Wrath and Starfire Spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance

Feral: Dreamwalker Battlegear
2/5 Bonus: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage
4/5 Bonus: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds and decreases the cooldown of Tiger's Fury by 3 seconds

Druid Tier Eight Armor Set: Nightsong
Found in Ulduar, on Emalon, and purchased with Emblems of Conquest

Restoration: Nightsong Regalia
2/5 Bonus: Increases the healing done by your Swiftmend spell by 10%
4/5 Bonus: Your Rejuvenation spell also provides an instant heal for your target

Balance: Nightsong Garb
2/5 Bonus: Increases the bonus granted by Eclipse for Starfire and Wrath by 15%
4/5 Bonus: Each time your Insect Swarm deals damage, it has a chance to make your next Starfire cast within 10 seconds instant cast

Feral: Nightsong Battlegear
2/5 Bonus: The periodic damage dealt by your Rake, Rip, and Lacerate abilities has a chance to cause you to enter a Clearcasting state
4/5 Bonus: Increases the duration of Savage Roar and Survival Instincts by 8 seconds

Druid Tier Nine Armor Set: Malfurion's/Runetotem's
Found in Trial of the Champion, on Koralon, and purchased with Emblems of Triumph

Restoration: Malfurion's/Runetotem's Garb
2/5 Bonus: Increases the critical strike chance of your Nourish spell by 5%
4/5 Bonus: You Rejuvenation ability now has a chance for its healing to be critical strikes

Balance: Malfurion's/Runetotem's Regalia
2/5 Bonus: Your Moonfire now has a chance for its periodic damage to be critical strikes
4/5 Bonus: Increases the damage done by your Starfire and Wrath spells by 4%

Feral: Malfurion's/Runetotem's Battlegear
2/5 Bonus: Decreases the cooldown on your Growl ability by 2 seconds, increases the periodic damage done by your Lacerate ability by 5%, and increases the duration of your Rake by 3 seconds
4/5 Bonus: Reduces the cooldown on Barkskin by 12 seconds and increases the critical strike chance of Rip and Ferocious Bite by 5%

Druid Tier Ten Armor Set: Name Unknown
Likely found in Icecrown Citadel raids and purchased with the new Emblems of Frost in Patch 3.3 (Bonuses not yet set in stone)

Restoration: Name Unknown
2/5 Bonus: The healing granted by your Wild Growth spell reduces 30% less over time
4/5 Bonus: Each time your Rejuvenation spell heals a target, it has a 2% chance to jump to a new target at full duration

Balance: Name Unknown
2/5 Bonus: When you gain Clearcasting from your Omen of Clarity talent, you deal 15% additional Nature and Arcane damage for 6 seconds
4/5 Bonus: Your critical strikes from Starfire and Wrath cause your target to languish for an additional 5% of your spell's damage over 4 seconds

Feral: Name Unknown
2/5 Bonus: Your Swipe (Bear) and Lacerate abilities deal 20% additional damage and the cost of your Rip ability is reduced 10 energy
4/5 Bonus: Your Enrage no longer decreases armor and instead decreases all damage taken by 12%, and the periodic damage of your Rake ability can now be a critical strike