Friday, November 7, 2008


A woman is in NYC for a business trip. She hails a taxi and steps in, hungry for fish. She tells the cab's driver, "Take me to a place where I can get scrod." He says, "That's the first the I've heard that in the pluperfect subjunctive."

Ever since the end of S4 and the general miserable-ness of the Arenas due to the incessant lag, my friends and I have been predominantly spending our time PvE'ing or BG'ing. Now that the lag is gone (you have noticed that right?), there's been some more time spent trying out comps and such in the waning days of TBC.

My Warrior buddy asked me to help him get to 1800 again (all ratings lost on server xfer) so he could get the points and rating for the S3 axe for leveling in WotLK and within 24 or so games, we had the rating, even though the absurd number of Ret/Arcane teams out there made every game a nailbiter.


Let's just make this clear: If you're not a burst team and you get caught against one in the Orgrimmar or Ruins of Lordaeron map, you'd better pray for RNG your way because one of you is going to die... and quickly. I sincerely hope that Arcane Mages are brought under control even though this amazing quote from GhostCrawler made me choke on my Earl Grey:
If Arcane is overpowered at all, it is nowhere near to the level that
Retribution was. Sorry. This isn’t a contest to see who can get the least or
most nerfs.

He's absolutely right.

If you're stupid enough to only use Arcane spells to try to kill someone, Arcane isn't overpowered. Arcane Blast (AB) and Arcane Missiles (AM) are mediocre filler spells. But the fact remains is that Arcane Mages don't just use offensive Arcane spells to rip people apart. Let's count the offensive damaging instants that can be used instead of queuing up a stupid AB or letting people run away while you channel a set of AM:
  • Arcane Barrage
  • Cone of Cold
  • POM Nuke
  • Arcane Explosion
  • Fireblast
  • Icelance

(If you've ever played City of Heroes, its basically like playing an Ice or Fire Blaster, where you spam instants and win)

So the question is, why would anyone use AM or AB when they can do instant damage and protect their spellschools for when Polymorph needs to hit? Answer: Only if they want to proc a Missile Barrage or if their target is cc'd and stuck in line of sight. Which is why every Arcane Mage is playing 2's with a Rogue or a Ret Paladin (the stun King and QQueen of WoW) or another Mage for pure ridiculousness.

So what's the solution to toning down Arcane Mages? Well, it sure as hell isn't what Blizz is planning to do, which is to buff Arcane Blast. No. No no no. Nononononononononono.

Buffing something with a cast time in PvP isn't going to make people want to use instants less. Mobility is king in PvP (eg: Druids), and unless pillars are removed from the Arena, instants will still be far more coveted than casted nukes. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a Destruction Warlock or a Mage hardcast a Fireball in a competitive arena match?

So what's the fix that helps an Arcane Mage with their PvE Rotation? Simple: increase the cooldown. I don't care if the damage scales up or if Blizz improves the damage of Arcane Blast, but there should be no reason for someone to eat back to back to back instant cast Barrages in the span of an Imp Counterspell or a Hammer of Justice or a Kidney Shot.

Break it down by caster? Sure!

  • Boomkin: Starfire has a cast time. Even if the Druid is lucky to get Nature's Grace and Wrath of Elune, it still has a cast.
  • Fire Mage: Blast Wave, FireBlast, Dragon's Breath all have longer cooldowns. None do nearly as much damage.
  • Frost Mage: Shatter Combo 2 hits max unless you combo it into other casts. Brain Freeze Fireball (due to lack of fire talents) doesn't hit very hard.
  • Shadow Priest: MindBlast/SW: Death Combo has a much longer cooldown. No third nuke.
  • Elemental Shaman: Bolts have a cast time, Shocks have longer cooldowns and deal less damage and NS Chain Lightning is once every 3 mins
  • Warlocks: Only instant nuke is a Nightfall proc. Good luck even getting back to back procs. Is Shadowfury/Nightfall possible? If it is, would it be viable? Computer says no.

Wake up, Blizzard!


Anyways, we found out that Blizzard is wiping all Arena Teams and Arena points during Maintenance on Tuesday. This means that if you have Arena points saved up, you must spend them before Maintenance.

Which means my Warrior buddy won't get his axe.

And that's what we call scrod.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

WotLK almost here! I has a sad.

I'm waiting with unbridled anticipation for the arrival of our newest shiny overlord (7 days to go!), but in actuality, I will not have much free time after it arrives. You see, the day after it drops, I will be going on a long weekend vacation out where there's no phone, no Internet, and no computers.

And this break from humanity is greatly needed.

Then, for several days during the Thanksgiving time period, I will be overseas on another vacation, again, without my computer. So while I'm incredibly excited for something new and different to immerse in (likely multi-hour stints), I can't help but to feel a bit jealous for those who will be paving the way to 80 without me.

So, what am I doing these days to pass the few days left before our game inexorably changes (and the 'oldschoolers' will be qq'ing "OMG WotLK sucks, I wish we had TBC back. Bliz, give us TBC only servers!)? Well, I'm short about 40k honor on my Druid and about 55k honor on my Priest. I'm determined to make the Priest my main for WotLK, primarily because Arena Resto Druid healing has become an incredibly one dimensional class, especially in any composition besides 2's (where it is even quite the same as 3's and 5's). Simply put, there's only so much "Sit in Tree of Life and spam heals" that I can endure before I get bored of the class' only viable healing options.

We'll see how that goes, but for now, we are on a quest for Honor, Gold and modest amounts of Glory.

Ok, maybe not glory, but we'll take a nod of recognition...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hooonnnk! Pewpewpewpewpewpew!

"Resto's really good now!"
"Riptide is amazing. You should give it a shot"
"Holy cow! We're getting destroyed in BG's without a healer"

With some finagling and some encouragement, we finally got our resident Enhancement Shaman to give the new Resto a try. He used to be a full time Resto, but lost interest as the old Resto only really worked in two comps War/Sham and Shadowplay (Spriest/UALock/Resto Sham). However, through some encouraging, we snagged ourselves a pretty darn good healer last night for a set of BG's. Healers make everything so much better, even if you're somehow stuck with a team of all fresh 70's.

"Why are you all dead? The BG just started!"
"Why do you all have less than 7k health?!"

We may try to get an article out of our Shaman buddy, but sadly this isn't it. However, since we had a healer at our disposal, the agenda for the evening was to spec Deep Balance on our Druid (4/5 Brutal, Veng Shoulders/Weapon) and run around in BG's bringing the pain.

For those of you who have never yet experienced the pain brought by a Balance Druid (aka: laser chicken, boomkin, owlyak, moonchicken, oomkin, fat feathered freak, etc.), I'd recommend a reading up a bit on them as they're going to be quite abundant come WotLK. Why? 'Cuz Bliz screwed Resto's ability to efficiently deal with/mitigate Burst damage (aka, Lifebloom nerf and reallocation of Feral Charge).

"Oh god, I just got intercepted in caster form. Here comes the Ret pally. Yep, I'm dead."

So how did we spec? 58/0/3 was the tested spec, taking the anti pushback talent in the Resto tree as well as every Balance damage/crit boosting talent and Brambles while skipping Dreamstate and Eclipse. The concept behind this spec (usually an Arena spec) is to put out a ridiculous (take note, kiddies, that's how you spell this word) amount of damage in an incredibly short amount of time, especially if cooldowns are up. The cooldowns in question are Force of Nature (aka: Trees), Starfall, and Typhoon and the proc's to look out for are Celestial Focus Stun, Nature's Grace and Wrath of Elune (4/5 Wyrmhide set bonus).

If all of the cooldowns are up, it's possible to wade right into a battle and start to wreak havoc, dropping Trees, Starfall and making space for your fat feathered butt with Typhoon. However, my typical habit is to start at max range and bring the pain. Getting into melee these days is just asking to be focus fired. Starting a fight off with a Starfire, if possible due to the long casting time, is generally preferred as a crit or a Celestial Focus stun can be very devestating. If that's not possible, a couple of Wraths are the next best thing, especially to stack up Earth and Moon. I equate this to a fire mage stacking Scorch debuffs to prep for a big Pyroblast or Fireball. If you feel comfortable with being closer than max range, Pounce into a cc/nuke chain is very strong as well.

At this point, if there are several opponents on you, it is entirely feasible to pop Trees and Starfall and try to bring as many targets down, but if the opponents have yet to close the distance, Wrath spam can be a very efficient killer. At any point during the Wrath spam, if Wrath of Elune procs and if you have time, crank out a couple of Moonfires to hopefully proc Lunar Grace from the incredible Idol of the Unseen Moon. In addition to this 140 spellpower proc, Moonfire has a 10% greater chance to crit than Wrath or Starfire, possibly proccing a Nature's Grace. What you end up with, if all of the proc's align, is a 1 second Starfire on crack. I procced one last night in AB, while we were pinning the Alliance in their starting area, on a crafty Warrior in greens who almost got past the blockade. 6400 crit to the dome and he made the next rez a few seconds later.

As much fun as big crits are, lets talk about the new shiny spell that's our 51 point talent: Starfall. Typically used in a crowd of opponents, this talent is one of Balance's most amazing PvP talents as it not only has a 15% chance to stun per star (assuming you took 3/3 Celestial Focus), but it also has a 20%+ (assuming 5/5 Wyrmhide) chance to crit per star. Each crit will proc Nature's Grace (assuming 3/3 Nature's Grace), making your cast time's a half second faster, so, if possible, stand and cast as much as possible while Starfall is raining free 'haste' procs. Use it. Love it. Laugh at mace warriors. Mace stun what?

Sadly, looking into the future, there are few talents that a 70 Balance Druid will be able to get at 80 that will further change the gameplay. Intensity, Dreamstate, Omen of Clarity only add some longevity to the PvP Boomkin. Master Shapeshifter and Eclipse will further add a bit more damage, but that's about it. I'd personally like to see Nature's Swiftness affect Arcane spells, too, for some Starfire-NS-Starfire burst, but that's honestly not very likely. At some point, a Pounce into Lockjaw into a nuke chain combo may be viable, but in all reality, the base gameplay has been set. Regardless, we're looking forward to it and hope the nerf bat swings a different way!

/cast Moonkin Form