Shades of Kae

Rogue Cataclysm Preview Musings

Finally, Blizzard released the Rogue Cataclysm preview at 2:00 am my time. No, I didn’t stay up for it. As I did with the Shaman changes, I’ll be posting the text from Blizzard as well as commenting briefly on each section.

New Rogue Abilities

Redirect (available at level 81): Rogues will be getting a new ability to help them deal with changing targets. Redirect will transfer any active combo points to the rogue’s current target, helping to ensure combo points aren’t wasted when swapping targets or when targets die. In addition, self-buff abilities like Slice and Dice will no longer require a target, so rogues can spend extra combo points on those types of abilities (more on this below). Redirect will have a 1-minute cooldown and no other costs.

I’m glad that they’re trying to resolve our weakness with switching targets. How I imagine Redirect will work is that we will see on on the UI the combo points available on our player frame, as well as on the target frame. The combo points on your player frame can be Redirected or used for Slice and Dice, while the ones on the target can only be used for damage abilities. They didn’t say anything but I assume if you have combo points on multiple other targets they will consider ‘active’  the number that is the highest, rather than adding them up. I also wonder what will happen in the scenario that you have active combo points and also combo points on your current target, and you hit Slice and Dice. Will it use your other active ones, or will it use the ones on the target? I’m glad I’m not a game designer as these mechanics seem like they’d be hard to implement in a usable way.

Combat Readiness (level 83): Combat Readiness is a new ability that we intend rogues to trigger defensively. While this ability is active, whenever the rogue is struck by a melee or ranged attack, he or she will gain a stacking buff called Combat Insight that results in a 10% reduction in damage taken. Combat Insight will stack up to 5 times and the timer will be refreshed whenever a new stack is applied. Our goal is to make rogues better equipped to go toe-to-toe with other melee classes when Evasion or stuns are not in play. This ability lasts 6 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown.

Nice, another damage reduction ability. My healers will be happy. Can’t really complain except that I’m going to have to throw it in a macro or something because I have no more room on my action bar.

Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.

Ah, so here’s our “gimmick” new ability. I can see using this to assist tanks when a pull goes bad and the casters are still loose. I hope that they keep the visual effect toned down so that its not too hard to see through. I also wonder how this will work on bosses – if the boss can’t target the tank, that might be… unfortunate.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

We’re also planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you’re already familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we want for each spec.

  • In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue’s dependency on binary cooldowns and “stun-locks,” and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we’ll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well.

PVP… don’t care. I’m covering my ears because I can already hear the whining coming from the forums.

  • In PvE, even accounting for active modifiers like Slice and Dice and Envenom, a very large portion of the rogue’s damage is attributable to passive sources of damage. Yes, they are using abilities for the entire duration of a fight, but we want to reduce the percentage of rogue damage that comes from auto-attacks and poisons. More of their damage will be coming from active abilities and special attacks.

I don’t see anything wrong with this. There will obviously need to be a lot of careful testing and balancing done here.

  • We would like to improve the rogue leveling experience. Positional attacks and DoT-ramping mechanics will be de-emphasized at low levels and then re-introduced at higher levels for group gameplay. We are also providing rogues with a new low-level ability, Recuperate, to convert combo points into a small heal-over-time (HoT).

This cracked me up. Rogues get a mini-heal :). I already use the Herbalism Lifeblood ability as a mini-heal, but one more can’t hurt. This will be incredible while leveling.

  • To complement the change to combo points, non-damage abilities such as Recuperate and Slice and Dice will no longer have target requirements and can be used with any of the rogue’s existing combo points, including combo points remaining on recently killed targets. This will not affect damage abilities, which will still require combo points to be present on the specific target you want to damage. To coincide with this, the UI will be updated so that rogues know how many combo points they have active.

See my thoughts on Redirect above. Will be interesting to see how they implement this in a way that is intuitive.

  • Ambush will now work with all weapons, but will have a reduced coefficient when not using a dagger. When opening from Stealth, all rogues will be able to choose from burst damage, DoT abilities, or a stun.

PVP…*shrugs*

  • As we’ve done recently with some of the Subtlety abilities, we want to make sure more rogue abilities aren’t overly penalized by weapon choice. With a few exceptions (like Backstab), you should be able to use a dagger, axe, mace, sword, or fist weapon without being penalized for most attacks.

I have never played Subtlety but am contemplating giving it a shot. This seems like a good change.

  • Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives will now use the weapon in the ranged slot. In addition, we hope to allow rogues to apply poisons to their throwing weapons.

Wonder what will happen if we use bows or guns? I’m guessing they’ll take our ability to use those away…? Damn, I won’t be able to make the hunters jealous when I have a better ranged weapon than them. I see this as a result of them not liking how rogues used weapon-swapping to choose weapons more fit for FoK.

EDIT: Ghostcrawler commented about this: “We just want the ranged weapon to be more than a stat stick for rogues. Adding poisons to FoK is actually a pretty hefty buff. Yes, this means that bows and guns aren’t of much interest to rogues (after leveling). But in this case we want Fan of KNIVES to be taken literally. :)”. So basically we can use bows and guns but we definitely won’t want to. I hope they add more throwing knives into the game as a result.

  • We are very happy with Tricks of the Trade as a general mechanic and as a way to give rogues more group utility, but we don’t want it to account for as much threat transfer as it does now.

Boo. Leave my Tricks of the Trade alone. At this point though, we know very little about how threat will be balanced in Cataclysm, so this might not even matter.

New Talents and Talent Changes

In Cataclysm, the overall feel of each of the rogue’s talent trees will change, as we would like each tree to have a clearly defined niche and purpose. The talent details below are meant to give you an idea of what we’re going for.

  • Assassination will be more about daggers, poisons, and burst damage.
  • Combat will be all about swords, maces, fist weapons, axes, and being engaged toe-to-toe with your enemies. A Combat rogue will be able to survive longer without needing to rely on Stealth and evasion mechanics.
  • The Subtlety tree will primarily be based around utilizing Stealth, openers, finishers, and survivability. It’ll be about daggers, too, but less so than Assassination.

The first three bullets aren’t really news… that is how I thought the trees have always been designed.

  • In general, Subtlety rogues needs to do more damage than they do today, and the other trees need to have more tools.

Subtlety fans will be pleased. And yes, more tools please!

  • Weapon-specialization talents (for all classes, not just rogues) are going away. We do not want you to have to respec when you get a different weapon. Interesting talents, such as Hack and Slash, will work with all weapons. Boring talents, such as Mace Specialization and Close Quarters Combat, will be going away.

Saw this one coming when they mentioned a similar change for Warriors. Having to respec because you get a  new weapon is incredibly wasteful and poor game design.

  • The Assassination and Combat talent trees currently have a lot of passive bonuses. We plan to dial back the amount of Critical Strike Rating provided by these trees so that rogues still want it on their gear.

There are a TON of passive bonuses in the Rogue talent trees. They’re going to have to add more new abilities than what they’ve mentioned so far in order to flesh the trees out. Also, dialing back crit is smart, as highly-geared ICC Mutilate rogues are worrying about the crit cap right now.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Assassination

  • Melee damage
  • Melee critical damage
  • Poison damage

Not surprising in the least.

Combat

  • Melee damage
  • Melee Haste
  • Harder-hitting combo-point generators

Yum, haste!

Subtlety

  • Melee damage
  • Armor Penetration
  • Harder-hitting finishers

Nothing too earth-shattering.

Closing Thoughts

Unlike with the shaman changes, reading this has left me feeling… nothing. I’m not really excited or disappointed. They are going to fix a few things that are definitely an issue, like target switching, and our survivability. Smoke Cloud is very gimmicky, but fun.

In general it seems like Blizzard is either happy with rogues in our current state, or they have no idea what they’re going to do with us yet. I think we’ll hear a lot more as Cataclysm approaches. I’m hoping that they add a new ability or tweak existing ones to make our Mutilate and Combat rotations more interesting. I miss the days of Rupture and stacking Hunger For Blood (I’m weird, I know). *Crosses fingers*

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Shaman Cataclysm Preview Musings

Blizzard has just released a small taste of what Cataclysm has in store for shamans. I’d like to share some initial thoughts on what they’ve posted.

New Shaman Abilities

Primal Strike (available at level 3): Primal Strike is a new weapon-based attack that every shaman will learn very early in the game. Our goal with this ability is to make leveling as Enhancement rather than as Elemental more viable, since many key Enhancement talents become available at fairly high levels.

I leveled as Elemental, so I don’t really know what the Enhancement leveling experience is like. Making leveling smoother is a very good thing though.

Healing Wave (level 4): While the shaman already has an ability called Healing Wave, we’re adding another spell to the class’s direct-healing arsenal and giving it a familiar name. The current Healing Wave will be renamed Greater Healing Wave, and the intent is for the ‘new” Healing Wave to be the shaman’s go-to heal. Lesser Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave will be used on a more situational basis.

I like the idea of having more spells to manage and actually being required to think. Hopefully they will figure out how to balance mana costs and cast times so that we actually will want to use all three spells.

Unleash Weapon (level 81): Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects (see below). A dual-wielding Enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both of their weapon enchants. Instant cast. 30-yard range. 15-second cooldown. Undispellable.

Here are a few examples of effects we’re considering for this ability:

  • Windfury Weapon – Hurls a spectral version of your weapon at a target, dealing 50% weapon damage and increasing the shaman’s Haste for the next five swings.
  • Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant Fire damage and buffs the shaman’s next Fire attack by 20%.
  • Earthliving Weapon – Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman’s next healing spell by 20%.

This is a very interesting idea. I am excited to see how theory crafters suggest this gets worked into the rotations. This reminds me a tiny bit of how having Riptide on a target boosts Chain Heal. We will really have to think about when to cast it and which spell to cast next.

Healing Rain (level 83): An area-effect heal-over-time (HoT) spell that calls down rain in a selected area, healing all players within it. There is no limit to the number of players who can potentially be affected; however, there are diminishing returns when healing a large number of targets, much like the diminishing returns associated with AoE damage spells. This should give Restoration shaman another healing tool that improves their group-healing and heal-over-time capabilities. 2-second cast time. 30-yard range. 10-second duration. 10-second cooldown.

Hooray! AOE heals are awesome, and Chain Heal just doesn’t cut it sometimes. My only concern is the “selected area” bit. I assume this means you have to click somewhere on the ground to cast it? This could be fun and require more situation awareness for healers, but it could also be a pain-in-the-ass.

Spiritwalker’s Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it’s necessary to move in both PvE and PvP. Instant cast. 10-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.

Also an awesome idea. Shamans really sufffer as elemental and resto in heavy-movement fights. This might require some balancing – is 10 seconds every 2 minutes enough to compensate for loss of DPS or healing output? I’m not complaining though – this ability has a kick-ass name and will be very helpful.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • Restoration shaman and other healing classes will need to pay attention to mana more than they’ve had to during Wrath of the Lich King. Spirit will be the Restoration shaman’s primary mana-regeneration stat.
  • We’re making changes to which classes and specs are able to dispel magic, diseases, curses, and poison, largely for PvP purposes. Shaman will have Cleanse Spirit as a baseline ability, but it will only remove curses. Restoration shaman will have a talent that will improve Cleanse Spirit so that it also removes magic. Shaman will no longer be able to remove poison.
  • Cleansing Totem will be removed from the game, as we want dispels to be a decision for players, not something done mindlessly. To that end, all dispels will cost slightly more mana, and you will waste the spell if you cast it when there is nothing to remove. (Currently, the dispel is only cast when there is something to remove, which encourages spamming ‘just in case.”) We will balance PvE dispelling with this new model in mind.
  • Totem of Wrath now will replace Flametongue Totem for all shaman, and dropping this totem will buff the group’s spell power by 4%. Elemental shaman will have a talent that lets all Fire totems provide +10% spell power, allowing them to drop Searing, Magma, or Fire Elemental Totems without losing their spell-damage buff. The 4% and 10% buffs will be exclusive with each other and with the warlock’s Demonic Pact, so you can’t benefit from all of them at once. We’re also considering letting Elemental drop Searing Totem at range.
  • We want to free up Enhancement global cooldowns to make the spec more dynamic to play. We’re considering, for example, increasing the cooldown of Lava Lash so shaman have time to work other interesting abilities into their rotation.

The first three bullets are old news. I like the fire totem changes — it never made much sense to me as an Elemental shaman to put down a buff totem instead of a DPS one. Also… throwing Searing Totem? Yes please!!

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Elemental Reach will be simplified so shaman have a more consistent spell range.
  • We plan to add Earthquake as a deep Elemental talent for targeted and persistent AoE.
  • Spirit Link will likely be worked back into deep Restoration in some form. The idea is that you will be able to link targets together so they share damage. When we had previously tried to implement Spirit Link, it was hard to balance and a little confusing. However, we really liked the concept — and so did players — so we are trying to bring it back.
  • Elemental will have a deep talent that allows Spirit (which will appear on the gear they share with Restoration shaman) to boost their Hit rating.
  • Ancestral Knowledge will boost mana pool size, not Intellect.
  • Enhancing Totems will be replaced with Focused Strikes, which will improve the damage of the new spell Primal Strike and Stormstrike.
  • With the Mastery system, we’re also considering removing a number of talents that grant passive bonuses, such as Mental Quickness, Improved Windfury Totem, Mental Dexterity, Call of Thunder, Tidal Mastery, Purification, Nature’s Blessing, and others, to allow players more freedom to choose more interesting talents.

Some of this we already know but there were two things I’m excited about: Earthquake and Spirit Link. Elemental shamans are in need of another AOE ability, so Earthquake is fantastic. Spirit Link is something I know was in the Wrath Beta, but I never got to play around with it. Its a very intriguing concept that would add a lot of strategy to healing, and add another very unique element to the class. I really, really hope they are successful this time around.

Mastery

Elemental

  • Spell damage
  • Spell Crit
  • Elemental Overload

Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful ‘bonus” version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.

The Mastery bonuses seem reasonable enough, although in the current state of the spec, crit isn’t very awesome. Elemental Overload is neat - I love when Lightning Overload procs, it makes me feel so bad-ass.

Enhancement

  • Melee damage
  • Melee Haste
  • Nature Damage

Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.

Yeah, I know nothing about Enhancement. I think I’ll try to level with it in Cataclysm just to get an idea of how it works.

Restoration

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Deep Healing

Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target’s health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points. 

This seems like a nice bonus, but its hard to tell at this point.

Closing Thoughts

I am feeling cautiously optimistic (a part of me is still bracing for the impact of the nerf bat that normally hides around the corner). Blizzard seems to be focused on making rotations more interesting, and shoring up the weaknesses of the shaman class. I’m especially looking forward to the healing changes. I’m glad they dropped the dispel news on us early, otherwise it might have overshadowed the good ideas Blizzard has laid out here. Obviously they still have a lot of work left to do, but things are looking great so far.

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It Begins With A Trickle

After a period of slow news, the stream of Cataclysm information has started trickling down to us. Last week we heard news about Rage, and Next Swing abilities (which I’m not going to discuss beacause really I know nothing about that).

Last night came the dispel news. My initial reaction was rage mixed with horror and a small side of fear. I love my shaman, and this change affects her greatly.

There are really two chunks to this change, and I’ll discuss them below.

Dispel Type Redistribution

First, Zarhym said that the the dispels will be redistributed between the classes, and each healing class will receive three out of the five types.

  • Druids will be able to dispel defensive magic, curses, and poison.
  • Paladins will be able to dispel defensive magic, diseases, and poison.
  • Priests will be able to dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and disease.
  • Shaman will be able to dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and curses.

Shamans seemingly were hit the hardest — we will lose two dispel types (poison and disease) and gain one (defensive magic).

The thing I didn’t notice at first (because my eyes were blinded by rage) was that this means all healing classes can dispel defensive magic. Sidenote: the way they phrased this is a little odd. What they’re really saying is that all healing classes will be able to dispel magic defensively, ie. dispel magic debuffs from friendly targets. Conversely, “offensive magic” dispel, means that they can offensively dispell magic, ie. dispel beneficial magic buffs on enemy targets.

Once I was done reeling from the blow the nerf bat dealt to one of my favorite classes, I started thinking about what this means to encounters in Cataclysm. All healing classes will be able to defensively dispel magic, which means that Blizzard can design encounters around this. We haven’t seen many magic debuffs in Wrath, nor encounters designed around requiring dispelling them. We’ve seen tons of disease, poison, and curses. It makes more sense lore-wise that Deathwing and his Twilight Hammer would be using magic, rather than any of the other types. The diseases, poison, and curses could simply add flavor to encounters, and could be be healed through. I hope Blizzard is very concious that depending on the combination of healers (especially in 10-mans) not all dispel types will be available.

The negative side to this is that older content might be more challenging to do. While leveling through LFD you’ll still be facing that plethora of poisons, disease, and curses. You’ll be forced to heal through the damage they do — hopefully this won’t be too awful.

As far as shamans go, I’m still bummed at losing two dispel types. I’m also disappointed we are keeping our Purge ability. I feel a bit shafted and would rather have a different dispel type in its place. As a healer I find Purge challenging to use, because it takes my attention away from the party.  DPS classes seem much more suited to dispelling buffs on the boss because they’re already targeting and paying close attention to the boss. In Wrath, a healer shifting attention away from the tank or party for a second can be fatal. This shouldn’t be as much of an issue in Cataclysm due to their proposed changes to give tanks higher health pools and making damage less spiky. I guess we’ll see. I do hope they weight encounters in Cataclysm to give more even distribution of debuffs and buffs, so that all healing classes will be able to utilize their dispels.

There are also some other changes as a result of the redistribution:

  • Protection and Retribution paladins will lose their current ability to dispel magic.
  • All shaman will lose dispel disease and dispel poison in exchange for Restoration gaining dispel magic.
  • Restoration shaman, Restoration druids, and Holy paladins will need to talent into their defensive magic dispels.
  • Shadow priests won’t be able to remove disease in Shadowform.
  • Mage, hunter, and warlock will retain their current dispel mechanics.
  • Body and Soul remains the same, and basically any dispel mechanic not mentioned above is currently planned to remain as it is.
  • When possible, we’d like to combine dispels into a single action. For example, the druid ability to dispel curses and poisons might be a single spell with a Restoration talent that also allows it to dispel magic. This part of the design isn’t finalized, however.
  • All healing classes will be able to dispel magic defensively, therefore they’re removing it from other specs to keep things balanced. I have a feeling my Prot Paladin friends won’t be too pleased about this – having a tank who can dispel a nasty debuff from themselves has been quite helpful on fights like the Iron Council.

    It looks like some dispel abilities are being removed from hybrid DPS specs — pure DPS classes still have the same utilities as currently in place. Hybrid DPS will not have the dispel capabilities of their healy counterparts (or will have to shift out of form to get them). I think this is actually a good change, although I’m sure it will be up for debate. Pure DPS classes need some advantages over hybrids. Now how about giving something to rogues (yes, I know we can dispel enrages, but its clunky and results in significant loss of dps by applying the Anesthetic poison, or requiring us to use weapon swapping)?

    Combining the dispel types is a win — I can’t see how this could be viewed as a bad thing. Resto shamans already have this.

    Dispel Opportunity Cost Will Be Steeper

    Zarhym also stated the following:

    In addition, we’re making the opportunity cost (what the player could have accomplished with different actions) for dispelling a bit steeper. We think the cost is too low for three reasons: 1) The actual mana cost is low. 2) You never waste a dispel. If you try to dispel a debuff that isn’t there then the dispel just won’t go off. 3) We have spells that remove debuffs with minimal input on the part of the player. In Cataclysm we are raising the mana costs, making it possible to waste mana by casting a dispel when there is nothing to dispel, and removing Cleansing Totem, Abolish Disease, and Abolish Poison from the game. With these changes in mind, we are working to plan dungeon and raid encounters where dispels aren’t in constant demand or spammed in order to be successful, though some need for dispels will still be a part of the design.

    I’m totally fine with making dispels mean more, as long as they design future encounters differently than they have been. Spamming dispels isn’t necessarily fun, it just adds to the whack-a-mole game. This change adds a bit more strategy back to healing.

    I’m very sad that the result of this is that my beloved Cleansing totem is being removed. It is one of the wonderful things that shaman bring to the table, and are valued for. Losing one more thing that makes our class unique is a painful blow. I understand why they’re doing it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

    Other Thoughts

    The changes are scary, and I feel like shamans got hurt the most by this (I’m biased, I know). I don’t PVP, but I think these changes are significantly nerfing shamans there — no longer will they be able to combat the Death Knight’s diseases or a Rogue’s poisons. The loss of Cleansing totem will be a huge blow in PVP as well. I understand that they want dispelling to be less trivial in PVP, but it messes with the current class balance. For example, druids are currently immune to polymorph, and giving them the ability to dispel magic defensively means that they will be able to remove it from their teammates as well, effectively making a resto druid extremely OP against mages. They are going to be making a ton of class mechanic changes though, so hopefully it will all even out in the end.

    The other big concern I have with these changes is homogenization. Blizzard needs to be careful about making the healing classes equal but different. Equality is great, but each class needs their own unique flavor, and removing abilities like Cleansing totem detracts from that uniqueness. I hope they add some other really cool totem in its place.

    Overall though, I understand why Blizzard is making these changes.  I just hope they do it right. They will need to design the Cataclysm encounters correctly, so that certain classes are not required for a fight, keeping to the “bring the player, not the class” policy. If a dispel is required for a fight it should be a magic dispel, because you are guarenteed to have it.

    EDIT: Zarhym posted some further explanation today that is worth reading, and basically confirms a lot of my suspicions/hopes. Some of the highlights are:

    • They know that shamans will now be too vulnerable against poisons in PVP and are thinking about adding something to counteract this
    • They are reconsidering Druid’s immunity to polymorph (sorry Jardal!)
    • Encounters can be designed around requiring magic dispels, and the other dispel types are helpful but not necessary
    • They know they are making changes to things that have been around a long time and have been an integral part of some classes, but they are looking at Cataclysm to really shake things up and fix things that have been wrong
    • They want dispelling to feel strategic and tactical in both PVE and PVP

    Later This Week

    Blizzard has posted a schedule for releasing more class change info later this week. I’m glad they gave us some warning, so we can run for cover as they prepare to swing an enourmous bat and smash our beloved classes to unrecognizable bits! Stay tuned for the QQ-storm beginning tomorrow.

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    Weekly Wrap-Up: In Which I Giggle Uncontrollably at Pop Culture References

    Links

    There were a boatload of April fools day posts this week, which I basically ignored. I’m just not a fan of the whole “omg I’m quitting blogging and switching faction or playing the Hello Kitty MMO” type thing. It’s been done to death. I did enjoy the Tuskarr armory stunt from Blizzard, but most other pranks left me shaking my head with annoyance. I suppose I’m just not any fun.

    Uncle Leo from DPS for Dummies reminds rogues of a useful ability of ours that can make our healers happy and keep us alive longer. He gives good tips about where to use Feint in on ICC fights.

    The tale of Gerald the Articulate Kobold is absolutely brilliant. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. I would love to see more stories about other unappreciated WOW mobs. Perhaps a Trogg tale, or a Quilboar one?

    Noblegarden has arrived! Check out Jaedia’s Noblegarden guide at The Lazy Sniper. Kaelynn already has her Noblegarden acheivement, but I spent yesterday hunting for eggs on my baby mage. I wanted to get the Polymorph: Rabbit spell, even though I know she can’t use it until level 60. The polymorph tome alone was 100 chocolates. I found a nice little spot in Kharanos on the first fence that has 4 possible egg spawns, with a few in nearby trees that are also easily reachable. I got my 100 eggs in around an hour and a half. I’m not sure if it was my imagination but it seemed like there were less participants in the holiday this year. Last year it seemed like every single egg spawn point was camped and fought over.

    Angelya of Revive and Rejuvenate is holding a blog egg hunting contest. Check out her site for more details and a list of the 45 blogs participating. Sadly I was too lazy to participate. Shame on me.

     In The Game

    Raiding went fairly well this week — we are now 5/12 in Icecrown with a few attempts at two other bosses under our belts. Professor Putricide’s ,”Good news everyone!” lines during the Rotface fight made me giggle every time. I love geeky pop-culture references. Our fearless raid leader told us that the key to fight was “Don’t Panic”, which is a great sentiment, but it left me wondering where my towel was.

    I dabbled in LOTRO last week — a post on that will be coming shortly. I can say for certain that I won’t be quitting WOW to go play it exclusively, but it is fun to experiment.

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    Podcasts Are Awesome

    I have a rather long commute every day to work – it ranges from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic (or 2 hours if it snows). When I first started my job, the drive was agonizingly boring. I tried to distract myself by listening to the radio, but alas, it was a failure. The radio is filled with whiny, obnoxious hosts who slip commercials into their dialogue, and ramble on about celebrity gossip, sports, or other dull subjects, and rarely play decent music. The frustration of driving in heavy traffic (with drivers who refuse to learn how to merge, or really be competent at life) slowly ebbed away at my sanity. I arrived home every day feeling quite terrible, regardless of whether work itself had been difficult or not.

    At some point last year, the commute got better. I attribute this to my discovery of podcasts.  Jardal mentioned one day that he’d been listening to the WOW Insider Show and that there had been some interesting rogue discussion. I decided to finally see what this newfangled “podcast” thing was all about, and downloaded an episode. It was entertaining, made me laugh a bit, and had far more interesting content than the radio. I’d much rather listen to someone QQing about class changes than celebrity drama.

    From then on, I was hooked. I started off with just WOW podcasts and have slowly expanded to other topics.

    I thought I would share a list of the podcasts I currently listen to. All of these podcasts can be found on iTunes but I’ve linked to their actual webpages so you can find out more information about them if you so desire.

    World of Warcraft

    • WOW Insider Show:
      • This is one of the most popular podcasts, hosted by WOW.com bloggers. The current main hosts are Michael Sacco and Matt Rossi. I’ve started listening to this less and less often, especially since Mike Schramm and Turpster left the show. It sounds like they’ll be making some changes to the format in the near future, trying to make it more “professional”. It covers general WOW news, and they often have interesting guests.
    • Twisted Nether Blogcast:
      • Hosted by Fimlys and Nibuca, this is an especially great podcast for bloggers to listen to, or those interested in the blogging community. They interview a blogger every week, and then cover WOW news and views, as well as hot topics in the blogging world. I love the interviews – hearing the actual voices of bloggers I read every day is a nice treat.

    Other WOW podcasts that you might want to check out, but I don’t listen to currently:

    • Slash 2 podcast:
      • Mature rated WOW news podcast
    • Bind on Equip:
      • Australians with an adult sense of humor discuss WOW related topics
    • The Instance:
      • Hosted by Randy Jordan and Scott Johnson, this is one of the most “famous” WOW news podcasts out there.

    Gaming

    • Polygamerous:
      • This is hosted by four noteable WOW bloggers/podcasters – Mike (Fimlys from Twisted Nether), Andy (Daewin from The Hunting Lodge), Russell (Rustee from the Slash 2 Podcast), and Darcy (Syrana from Sideshow & Syrana). They make an effort to not talk about WOW. They cover general gaming news, new releases, and discuss the games they’ve been playing lately. They’ve done some very interesting interviews lately with employees from EVE Online, and Runic Games (developers of Torchlight).
    • Giant Enemy Crab:
      • The newest addition to my podcast collection, this is hosted by the inimitable Turpster (former host of the WOW Insider Show), and Slanik. The lovely combo of Turpster’s English accent and Slanik’s Irish brogue is quite pleasant on the ears. The podcast itself is well balanced between humor and actual content (yes, Turpster can actually be serious when he wants to).

    Movies

    • Movielicious:
      • This is a moview review podcast, hosted by Turpster, Patrick Beja (former WOW podcaster, now Blizzard employee), and Nicole Spagnolo (who hosts her own gaming podcast, Ladies of Leet, and is an avid WOW player as well). The three personalities create a delightful dynamic.  I’ve found a lot of new movies to add to my Netflix queue, as well as saved a lot of money by skipping some of the garbage films that have been released recently.

    Other Movie Podcasts that you might want to check out, that I don’t listen to currently:

    • Film Sack:
      • Hosted by Scott Johnson and Randy Jordan (from the Instance) along with podcasters Brian Ibbot and Brian Dunaway. They review Netflix streaming movies every week.

    Writing

    • Writing Excuses:
      • This is only only podcast I listen to that is not hosted by a member of the WOW community. Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells discuss all things writing, in this short but sweet podcast. (Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite fantasy authors. This podcast has made me respect  and admire him even more). All three hosts have a fantastic sense of humor and provide insightful information. They are all very successful writers but give realistic, candid advice. 
    • Saucy Wenches:
      • This podcast is on hiatus at the moment, but I am confident it will return soon, saucier than ever. It is hosted by Tami Moore (formerly of the Egotistical Priest) and Arleen “Bre” Barreiros (formerly of Gun Loving Dwarf Chick). Bre just had her first child so they are taking a short break. The podcast is extremely entertaining and gives a very down-to-earth take on writing, focused on Fantasy and Romance. Recent topics have been NanoWriMo and editing. I can’t wait for their return!

    So there you have my list of podcasts that gets me through the week. Having something interesting to listen to has helped me choke down the fierce road rage that Minnesota drivers seem so good at inciting. If you haven’t  yet delved into the world of podcasts, I highly recommend you give it a shot!

    Are there any other podcasts that you would recommend? Any comments on the ones that I mentioned? Feel free to chime in!

    WOW , 5 Comments

    Shared Topic: Starting Over

    Fiorentiin from Blasting Away suggested this Shared Topic over at Blog Azeroth. Head on over there to check out some other takes on the topic!

    If my account disappeared and couldn’t be restored, I’m not sure if I would have the heart to start over. *Shudders*. I don’t want to think about that, so I’m going to put my own spin on it… what character would I create if I could go back in time and start over? I actually had a bit of this article written and sitting in my drafts folder before it even became a Shared Topic – it has been on my mind as of late.

    When I chose my first character, I had very little knowledge about the classes in WOW. I didn’t know what “tank”, “healer”, and “DPS” really meant. All I had to go on was my experience from single-player RPG’s.

    The first console game I ever owned was Final Fantasy 9. One of the main characters (Zidane) was a thief. You could steal special items from bosses, and these items were very advantageous. I thought this was awesome-sauce.

    Before WOW, the closest I had ever come to an MMORPG was Oblivion. It’s more of a massively single player RPG, but I figured my experience with it translated well to WOW. In Oblivion I made my character into a thief or rogue type (can’t remember exactly which). I hated using magic or archery because I completely fail at kiting. I was very successful with using stealth, hitting an enemy on the head and then button mashing my combat abilities. I didn’t really take much time to research the “correct” way to play the game and was perfectly happy button-mashing on easy-mode.

    These experiences led me to believe that a rogue would be the best choice for me in WOW. I rolled my human rogue in April 2008, and didn’t look back for a long time.

    My fiance rolled a druid. I never really thought about it, but I was jealous of him the entire time we were leveling. He can change shape and become an adorable kitty, bear, cheetah, etc. He can stealth along with me reasonably well, go into bear form and take a lot of damage, blast the mobs with big AOE spells, and still heal and keep us alive. The addition of dual-specs in Wrath only furthered his awesomeness – he can be my pocket healer in instances while still providing useful DPS in other situations.

    Now it’s 2010, and my rogue is still my main. She has 5000+ achievement points, 50+ mounts, 100~ pets, and other marks of character progression.  She’s nearly a Loremaster (two more Northrend zones to go!).

    I love the rogue play-style, but sometimes I get a little tired of it. I often wish she was a hybrid class that could fill multiple roles. This would allow me to contribute to my team in whatever way they needed, and it would ease the boredom. My shaman alt helped with this a bit – I absolutely love healing. The thought of switching mains has crossed my mind, but due to the achievement system, titles, and my pet/mount collections I feel very tied to Kaelynn. I never take my shaman alt into a raid my rogue hasn’t gone into first, because I value the achievements and feel like the rogue “deserves” it more. If I switched, all of that work would seem pointless. The thought of doing it all over again makes me cringe. My main is my “identity” in the game – her name is my online persona. I couldn’t let all of that go easily.

    I WANTS 2 BE DRUID

    If I could go back in time to the moment that I created my first character, it would be a druid. She would be a Night Elf, as I still think Alliance was the right choice for me. Druids are unique among the WOW classes in that they can fill absolutely any role – melee dps, tank, healer, and ranged dps. The flexibility is quite incredible. Kitties are similar enough to rogues that they would fulfill my love of melee DPS. The Druid HOT healing style is fascinating to me, and often seems superior to my resto shaman’s style in 5-mans. Boomkin are hilarious and adorable, and would allow me to dabble with ranged DPS when I felt like it.  In essence, having a Druid would allow me to remain tied to my main without being stuck in a single role.

    My first alt was a Shaman. I wanted a druid, but it seemed to me that it was Jardal’s class, and I didn’t want to “copy” him. I finally got over this strange aversion and rolled a druid a few months back. I got her to level 20-something before hearing the news about Worgen Druids in Cataclysm. I’ve never particularly loved the Night Elf model – in my opinion it just isn’t “pretty” enough. The Blood Elf, Draenei, and Humans are the only races I really like (in terms of female model. Tauren would be winners but the females just don’t look right to me). The Worgen are very different, and yet still attractive in their own way. I decided to wait on their release to play a druid, purely for these aesthetic reasons.

    I suppose I’ll have to wait until Cataclysm’s release to find out whether a Druid is really ideal for me or not. Will I switch mains? I really don’t know.

    I wish that Blizzard would make all pets/mounts BOA, and some sort of cross-account achievement system. Or perhaps they could allow you to transfer achievements from a level 80 of one class to a level 80 of another class – I would even pay real money for it! Unfortunately I really doubt they will.

    I’ll have a tough decision to make if I ever decide that I really prefer the Druid class over my rogue. I think it would only happen if I were to become insanely bored with my rogue and end up not wanting to play her. Currently our guild’s new endeavors into casual raiding have breathed new life into my rogue experience. I also have a feeling that Cataclysm will change the class quite a bit, and that will be refreshing as well.

    Does anyone else wish they’d made a difference decision when choosing their main? Am I the only one crazy enough to stick with a character simply because of all the work I’ve put in to her?

    WOW , 5 Comments

    Weekly Wrap-Up: Storming the Citadel

    I’m going to attempt to start doing a ‘Weekly Wrap-up’ post on Sundays. The idea is for it to contain links to interesting posts of the past week, what I’ve been up to in the game, any noteworthy comments and more.

    Links

    Tamarind from Righteous Orbs has continued to  provide insightful discourse on guilds, drama, emotions, and just in general how people interact with each other in WOW. Both posts have really stuck with me this week. I can always count on Tam to make me actually stop and think.

    Gnomeageddon reminds us that getting linked to by a “famous” site such as WOW.com isn’t without its downsides. I’ve had one post linked to by WOW.com – my review of the WOW Magazine, back in January. I watched in awe and fear as my traffic spiked insanely. I was rather grateful it wasn’t really a controversial issue – no one commented at all. And yes, I did get a lot of spam. Speaking of spam, I’ve been getting a crapload of wedding-related spam. It all gets caught by WordPress’s filters, but its quite irritating.