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Talent Shake Up

July 14, 2010 1 comment

With Cataclysm beta now well under way and the NDA lifted, the information continues to flow. While somewhat overshadowed by the saga surrounding the real ID system, the big announcement of last week was regarding a talent system revamp. I had initially planned to make this post in the light of those announcements but took the decision to wait for the changes to be patched onto the beta servers. Last night saw a new beta build released and the new talent changes are now live on those servers.

We’re all familiar with Blizzard’s decision to remove all the talents that added passive bonuses. They stated that all those necessary but boring talents providing, for example, spell power increases would be removed. They’ve now decided to take this one step further and trim the talent trees more, reverting them to thirty one point trees. While it may feel like a reduction in choice, they argue that they’re making the choices more meaningful to players.

(Image courtesy of MMO Champion)

Further to this has come their desire to bring a true class and spec feeling to a new player. In the present system, your early talent choices don’t feel very significant. Blizzard have stated a desire to fix this and want new players to feel like an elemental or enhancement shaman from the very beginning, rather than after they have spent 40 points in their selected tree.

The choices begin at level ten where you choose your specialization (your talent spec). This will provide the passive stats that are associated with your tree. Examples given included a passive 20% increase to all fire spells for a mage player choosing the fire specialization or the ability to dual wield for a shaman player choosing enhancement. In addition, players will gain an iconic spell or ability previously located quite deep within the talent trees. For elemental shaman players, this will be thunderstorm. For our restoration friends, it’s earth shield.

(Image courtesy of wow.com)

In the above screenshot, you can see the three specialization choices available to the warriors (fury, arms or protection). Directly beneath are the iconic skills that you’ll receive as soon as you select your tree and below those are the passive gains.

After choosing your specialization, the other trees will grey out and you will be unable to spend any points in them until after you have placed thirty one points in your specialized tree.

In accordance with the reduction in the number of talents available, players will now receive a talent point every second level instead of every level after ten. The plan is to alternate these with new trainer skills. The result being that you’ll receive something new at every level gained but these will alternate between a new talent point and a new trainer based skill.

The New Talent Trees

As I mentioned at the start, the new beta build went live last night and this included the new, drastically reduced talent trees. Thanks to MMO Champion you can find the new shaman trees here.

What follows is a description of the talents per tier.

Tier One

From left to right:-

Elemental Devastation

Convection

Concussion

My initial thoughts about the tier one talents is a slight confusion as to how the inclusion of concussion and convection adhere to their desire to cut the talents providing passive bonuses.

Tier Two

Improved Fire Nova

Elemental Warding

Elemental Precision

Call of Flame

Again on this tier I’m somewhat surprised to see the inclusion of call of flame and elemental warding (though the latter I’m pleased about as I’ve always liked this talent.) Elemental precision is, as previously stated, being morphed into our spirit to hit conversion talent allowing us to share gear with our restoration counterparts.

Tier Three

Reverberation

Elemental Focus

Elemental Reach

Tier Four

Unrelenting Storm

Elemental Oath

Lava Flows

Tier Five

Storm, Earth and Fire

Elemental Mastery

Totemic Wrath

Totemic wrath, one of our new talents for Cataclysm (and by far the one I’m most excited about) makes it’s appearance here.

Tier Six

Shamanism

Lava Surge

Lava surge makes it’s appearance quite deep in the tree. I’m still liking the concept of this talent as I really enjoy anything that makes for more intuitive play

Tier Seven

Earthquake

There’s no great shock to see earthquake making it’s appearance as our thirty one point talent.

Restoration

Restoration is both my personal offspec and a tree I have a lot of love for. As such, I’m going to be detailing their tree changes here also.

Tier One

Ancestral Resolve

Tidal Focus

Spark of Life

Tier Two

Improved Water Shield

Totemic Focus

Focused Insight

Tier Three

Ancestral Awakening

Nature’s Swiftness

Ancestral Healing

Tier Four

Improved Chain Heal

Restorative Totems

Blessing of the Eternals

Nature’s Guardian

Tier Five

Improved Cleanse Spirit

Mana Tide Totem

Nature’s Blessing

Tier Six

Tidal Waves

Telluric Currents

Tier Seven

Riptide

My Personal Thoughts

Firstly, I’m wholly in favour of the specialization choices at level ten and the addition of the iconic spell immediately. World of Warcraft needs to keep appealing to new players as well as offering incentives for the older players to keep playing. When you make your class and specialization choices, you should feel that they make an impact immediately. Under the present system, when you hit level 10 very little changes. From the elemental tree you can choose from a talent that gives your ranged offensive spells a 1% damage increase or one which reduces the mana cost of the spells. From enhancement there is a choice from two “buff the buff” type talents increasing the effectiveness of the strength of earth and flametongue totems (in the form of enhancing totems) or stoneclaw and earthbind totems (in the form of earth’s grasp) or an increase in intellect talent. Restoration get to choose from a small reduction in the casting time of healing wave or a reduction in the mana cost of our totems. Nothing at this point feels like you just chose to become an enhancement, elemental or restoration shaman.

Thunderstorm is very iconic of the elemental shaman as much so as the ability for the enhancement player to dual wield and the restoration player to have his or her earth shield. These abilities feel much more defining and allow a very early player to feel that they’re already involved with their specialization.

The lack of gear itemised towards elemental always rears it’s ugly head in discussions about levelling. Indeed it was mentioned at the shaman round table event over the weekend. I don’t see this as a hindrance to the actual levelling process. It’s not idea but if you end up levelling in cloth with spirit, it’s not going to terribly inhibit your progress. I do, however, think it impacts upon the experience and the feeling of being an elemental shaman.

I was quite shocked to see the presence still of a few of the talents with passive boosts, particularly given Blizzard’s enthusiasm for removing these. It is, however, still early days in regards to the beta and all the talent trees could still see extensive changes.

Touching on restoration slightly, where is spirit link? Initially introduced in wrath of the lich king beta but removed it was then mentioned again for cataclysm but still hasn’t made an appearance in the actual beta trees.

I’m going to be updating the cataclysm compendium to ensure it’s up to date with these new changes though it will take quite a lot of editing so expect that to take a day before it’s accurate for this build.

Categories: Cataclysm

Cataclysm Enters Beta, Patch 3.3.5 Goes Live and an Update to the Shaman Round Table Event.

July 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Cataclysm

Yesterday came the news that Cataclysm was entering it’s closed beta phase of testing. In addition to this, the NDA has also been lifted so people are free to talk, post and blog about the information that has previously been leaked or becomes available in the future. You can read the official press release here. Furthermore, due to the lifting of the NDA, the official beta forums are now public so for any information hungry individuals, you can trawl through them here.

As a quick reminder for anyone still in the dark, you opt in for the Cataclysm beta through the battle net home page. This doesn’t guarantee you beta access of course, but it is the system they’re using to handle requests.

Patch 3.3.5 and Real ID

Patch 3.3.5 finally hit the EU servers yesterday which also meant the Ruby Sanctum went live. Sadly for the EU guilds out there, due to highly extended down time the “race” for world first kills was heavily bias in favour of the US players.

I’ve already have a couple of people ask if I’m going to be writing strategy guides for this instance. The sad and simple fact at the moment is that my guild haven’t been raiding. We have two raids pencilled in for early next week and I’m crossing everything that these will be Ruby Sanctum raids. While I will be forming some kind of tactics in advance for our own raids, I’d never publish these without having first hand experience of how they work in practice. In summary, I’ll try and get something sorted out but I’m very dependent on other people.

In addition to the Ruby Sanctum, Blizzard’s new Real ID system was implemented. I’d had the pleasure of using this throughout Starcraft II’s closed beta and I did like it there. However I was playing there with my boyfriend and a couple of close, real life friends. The problem is the awkwardness of being asked for your Real ID from someone that you’re not comfortable with. Many players may keep some alt characters unguilded for a reason. For people who play the auction house a great deal, you can risk losing the anonymity of your bank characters. This can be a huge issue for those aggressive economy players (of which I consider myself.) A couple of friends on my server know which bank alts I play as but as a rule, I don’t like any connection between my bank alts and my main characters to be formed and indeed, I go to great lengths to ensure they can’t be tracked.

For close friends, it’s a great idea without doubt. I can now chat to a couple of real life friends that play on other servers. Furthermore I can keep in touch with those same friends when they’re in Starcraft II. Never the less, there is a certain weirdness about trying to politely decline giving out your personal details to people you consider more acquaintances than friends.

The Shaman Round Table Event

I’ve mentioned this in a previous update but there has been some progression with this event since then. Several new names have been confirmed to the list of participants and I’m hoping to contribute myself though, at present, my availability is looking a little bit suspect. (My weekends are precious to me as they’re the only time I get to spent time with my boyfriend.)

The contributors have been asked to both promote the event and try and get some feedback from our readers as to what kind of topics you’d like to see discussed there. As such, if anyone reading this has any specific contributions to make regarding potential subject areas, leave a comment at the bottom of this update and I’ll ensure that the suggestions reach the people in charge.

Blog Updates

Finally, as I’m sure you’re all now aware, I’m back into the swing of blogging. I’ve finally got everything I need to blog running on my ipad which means I’m no longer tied to the desktop PC. (A huge boon with the current summer temperatures we’re enjoying in Denmark.) I’ve got a few articles in the pipeline (including that long promised guide to the feat of strength; Insane in the Membrane) but once again, I’m asking that if anyone has any specific topics they would like to see discussed here, they let me know. These topics don’t have to be restricted to elemental shaman areas so throw your suggestions out there and I’ll do my best to oblige. I am trying to finish off all the boss guides for Icecrown Citadel, including the additional of the heroic guides but they can be quite lengthy to produce so bear with me please.

Categories: Cataclysm, Patch 3.3.5

Shaman Cataclysm Talents: My Thoughts

June 28, 2010 1 comment

Due to my blogging break, I skimmed over the announced talents for Cataclysm but didn’t really make any attempt to discuss them. Obviously, a great deal can change between now and release but I decided it was time to discuss my early thoughts on our talent tree.

Elemental Precision

At present, elemental precision is our simple hit gain talent and has the additional benefit of reducing the threat generated by our offensive spells. It’s pretty much a “must have” elemental talent.

When Cataclysm launches, a number of stat changes go live. While spirit is being removed for all DPS casters, elemental shamans will be sharing their gear with their restoration counterparts. (We’re not the only ones, the boomkins are sharing theirs with their healing buddies too.) Spirit will be the core mana regeneration stat for all healers, including restoration shaman, due to the removal of MP5. What does this mean for the elemental shaman? We’ll have spirit on our gear and we can’t use it. To combat this, Blizzard decided to implement a spirit to hit conversion talent. It sounds overly complicated until you start to consider the benefits, the main one being that we you won’t need additional gear sets if you have a restoration offspec.

In Cataclysm, elemental precision is morphed to include this spirit to hit conversion. The talent reads:-

  • Increases your chance to hit with fire, frost and nature spells by 1% and increases your spell hit rating by an additional amount equal to 33% of your spirit.

We still keep the base hit increase that the talent boasts on live but we also gain the spirit to hit conversion that was promised to prevent our gear carrying “useless” stats. We do lose the threat reduction potion of this talent but this isn’t restricted to us as all such talents appear to be removed for Cataclysm while Blizzard plan on reworking threat management entirely.

Earthquake

Totem of wrath is replaced as our 41 point elemental talent by the eagerly awaited earthquake. The talent reads as follows:-

  • You cause the earth at the target location to tremble and break, dealing 36 physical damage every 1 second to enemies in 10 yard radius, with 30% of knocking down affected targets. lasts 10 seconds.

Regulars to this blog will know my thoughts on elemental AoE; I find it clumsy and overly complicated compared to other classes. I feel bitter when I’m running into mobs to drop down a magma totem, maybe throwing a thunderstorm on my way out while I then stand at range and weave a fire nova, chain lightning and lightning bolt based rotation. Why do I feel bitter? Because the mages, warlocks and boomkins are sat in one spot channelling their AoE spells while giggling at the shaman running around frantically. Don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to more complicated rotations but make them somewhat equal amongst classes.

As such, when earthquake was announced I was bouncing up and down in my chair and that hasn’t really changed. It hasn’t been confirmed but it is looking likely that this spell will be channelled so hopefully it will bring us somewhat close to the other casters. Admittedly I was slightly shocked that this deals physical damage and I suspect the knock down component means it isn’t going to deal the raw damage that our fellow casters channelled AoEs do, but time will tell.

Totemic Wrath

This was the second talent that I was really excited about. It currently reads as:-

  • Causes your fire totems to increase the spell power of the party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%

Basically, this removes our tie to totem of wrath. This is a huge improvement for the elemental spec. Despite all the class tweaks and improvements in the last few months, I still feel that unless we’re free to use fire DPS totems, we are slightly under powered in a highly competitive atmosphere consisting of exceptional players. Naturally we bring additional utility to a raid and as always, a good elemental player is going to out perform poorer representatives of other classes but like for like I still believe we’re lacking slightly when forced to use totem of wrath.

As such this talent is the change I’m really looking forward to in Cataclysm. Not purely due to the additional DPS potential it will allow us but also because it ensures the player can fully explore their totems. So many elemental players don’t get to experience their fire totems because the raid is so dependent upon the spell power buff provided from totem of wrath and that in itself is a terrible shame for a class that is based around the utility of their totems. I will openly admit to finding the fire DPS totem a little clumsy also, much like our AoE capabilities. The relatively limited range of our searing totem can leave us moving around a great deal and thus losing DPS but those offensive totems are still a part of our spec that many players don’t get to experience.

In addition to freeing us to use our offensive totems, our spell power buff will also be dragged into line with the warlock’s demonic pact. The difference between totem of wrath and demonic pact in wrath has been quite unforgivable by Blizzard. Simply put, towards the end of the wrath expansion when casters are reaching very high levels of spell power, the warlock’s 10% spell power increase out weighs our 280 spell power buff by quite a large margin. Equally, the warlock doesn’t have the range issues nor do they forgo using offensive spells in exchange. Blizzard admitted this discrepancy made no sense and that the totem of wrath effect should equal demonic pact but they also stated that they had no immediate plans to alter this.

Demonic pact worked by providing the raid with 10% of the warlock’s spell power. This resulted in demonology warlock’s feeling pressed towards gemming purely for spell power with the aim of increasing the potency of their precious raid buff as much as possible. The initial concern about totemic wrath was elemental shaman’s feeling the same way. However, more recently it was confirmed that the buff provided 10% of the target’s spell power rather than the caster (and that demonic pact will also be altered in this way.)

One additional concern I have regarding this talent relates to it’s use with searing totem. As our primary offensive totem (due to the cool down limitations of our fire elemental), our spell power buff will primarily radiate from this totem. Searing totem has a relatively short duration and one has to wonder whether we will be forced to clip that duration to ensure 100% uptime of our buff. What would be ideal is if we were provided with some “grace period” where the buff stayed active for a few seconds after the totem expired, thus giving us time to replace the totem without clipping the last seconds. Given the annoyance that clipping DoTs has always caused for casters, it would certainly be a shame for us to now be pressed towards clipping offensive totems, even assuming that they do indeed either fix the range issue on searing totem or give us some kind of option to “throw” it into the thick of a fight.

Lava Surge

A new addition to the elemental tree for Cataclysm requiring 45 points spent, this talent currently reads as follows:-

  • Gives your flame shock periodic damage ticks a 10% chance to reset the cooldown of your lava burst spell.

I like the idea of this in that it could make the elemental rotation more dynamic. We’ll finally have a trigger that requires a fast response from us as a player and it will reward the more alert players out there. Charles from WoWhats was one of the lovely community members kind enough to run some maths on the potential DPS upgrade that we would get from such a talent and it’s not overwhelming in terms of the DPS increase. You can read more on the maths here. Still, as mentioned, I do like the idea behind this talent and I’m all for the introduction of more mechanics that reward the better, more attentive players out there via intuitive design. The elemental rotation has often been criticised for being very static and bland (though more often than not, this seems to come from people outside of the elemental community) and I’d personally like to see more procs added to our play style.

The other aspect of this talent to consider is it’s impact in PvP. While the DPS increase it could provide isn’t immense, it does offer rather a lot of burst damage potential.

Summary

For our restoration friends (or off specs), spirit link hasn’t yet made it’s appearance in the talent tree after being mentioned in the shaman cataclysm class preview back in April. I’m sincerely hoping that this is purely due to the talent trees still being in deep development as opposed to them deciding to abandon the idea again, as it was undoubtedly one of the popular proposed changes to the restoration tree.

Categories: Cataclysm

Shaman Talent Preview

June 10, 2010 7 comments

MMO Champion updated their site this morning with a number of class talent tree previews courtesy of Blizzard. Fortunately for all of us, the Shaman tree was amongst those. While we had our Cataclysm class preview quite some time ago, this information gives us a more concrete feel for where each of the new talents appear.

What follows is a huge block of text but thanks to the work of the people over at MMO Champion, the new talents are also visible in a more graphically appealing presentation via their newly launched talent viewer. You can check it out here and specifically, the shaman talents here. Be aware that this site is in it’s early stages so down time is to be expected.

I’m going to start by detailing the elemental talent preview, followed by the restoration preview. As always, keep in mind Cataclysm is still in the alpha stages of it’s testing (though beta is closing in fast), so there is a great deal of time in which the talents may change.

Elemental Talent Preview

Tier One (Left to Right)

Convection

  • 5 ranks available
  • Reduces the mana cost of your shock, lightning bolt, chain lightning, lava burst, and wind shear spells by 2/4/6/8/10%.

Concussion

  • 5 ranks available
  • Increases the damage done by your lightning bolt, chain lightning, thunderstorm, lava burst and shock spells by 1/2/3/4/5%.

Tier Two (Left to Right)

Call of Flame

  • 3 ranks available
  • Increases the damage done by your fire totems and fire nova by 5/10/15% and damage done by your lava burst spell by 2/4/6%.

Elemental Warding

  • 3 ranks available
  • Reduces all damage taken by 2/4/6%.

Elemental Devastation

  • 3 ranks available
  • Your non-periodic offensive spell critical strikes will increase your chance to get a critical strike with melee attacks by 3/6/9% for ten seconds

Tier Three (Left to Right)

Reverberation

  • 5 ranks available
  • Reduces the cooldown of your shock spells and wind shear by 0.2/0.4/0.6/0.8/1 seconds.

Elemental Focus

  • 1 rank available
  • After landing a non-periodic critical strike with a fire, frost, or nature damage spell, you enter a clearcasting state. The clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next 2 damage or healing spells by 40%.

Elemental Fury

  • 5 ranks available
  • Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your searing totem and magma totem and your fire, frost and nature spells by 20/40/60/80/100%.

Tier Four (Left to Right)

Improved Fire Nova

  • 2 ranks available
  • Increases the damage done by your fire nova by 10/20% and reduces the cooldown by 2/4 seconds.

Eye of the Storm

  • 3 ranks available
  • Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting lightning bolt, chain lightning, lava burst and hex spells by 23/46/70%.

Tier Five (Left to Right)

Elemental Reach

  • 2 ranks available
  • Increases the range of your lightning bolt, chain lightning, fire nova, and lava burst spells by 3/6 yards, increases the radius of your thunderstorm spell by 10/20%, and increases the range of your flame shock by 7/15 yards.

Elemental Mastery

  • 1 rank available
  • Requires 1 point in elemental focus
  • Instant cast
  • 3 min cooldown
  • When activated, your next lightning bolt, chain lightning or lava burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, you gain 15% spell haste for 15 seconds. Elemental mastery shares a cooldown with nature’s swiftness.

Unrelenting Storm

  • 3 ranks available
  • Regenerate mana equal to 4/8/12% of your intellect every 5 seconds, even while casting.

Tier Six (Left to Right)

Elemental Precision

  • 3 ranks available
  • Increases your chance to hit with fire, frost and nature spells by 1/2/3% and increases your spell hit rating by an additional amount equal to 33/66/100% of your spirit.

  • Lightning Mastery

    • 5 ranks available
    • Requires 5 points in elemental fury
    • Reduces the cast time of your lightning bolt, chain lightning, and lava burst spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds.

    Tier Seven (Left to Right)

    Storm, Earth and Fire

    • 3 ranks available
    • Reduces the cooldown of our chain lighting spell by .75/1.5/2.5 seconds. In addition, your earthbind totem has a 33/66/100% chance to root targets for 5 seconds when cast, and the periodic damage done by your flame shock is increased by 20/40/60%.

    Elemental Oath

    • 2 ranks available
    • Requires 1 point in elemental mastery
    • While clearcasting from elemental focus is active, you deal 5/10% more spell damage. In addition, party and raid members within 100 yards receive a 3/5% bonus to their critical strike chance.

    Wrathful Totems [PH]

    • 1 rank available
    • Causes your fire totems to increase the spell power of your party and raid memebers within 100 yards by 10%.

    Tier Eight (Left to Right)

    Booming Echoes

    • 2 ranks available
    • Reduces the cooldown of your flame shock and frost shock spells by an additional 1/2 seconds, and increases the direct damage done by your flame shock and frost spells by an additional 10/20%.

    Acute Overload

    • 3 ranks available
    • Increases the damage dealt by your elemental overload spells by 7/14/20%.

    Tier Nine (Left to Right)

    Astral Shift

    • 3 ranks available
    • When stunned, feared or silenced you shift into the astral plane, reducing all damage taken by 10/20/30% for the duration of the stun, fear or silence effect.

    Earthquake

    • 1 rank available
    • 20149 Mana
    • 35 yd range
    • 1.5 sec cast
    • 15 sec cooldown
    • You cause the earth at the target location to tremble and break, dealing 267 physical damage every 1 second to enemies within a 10-yard radius, with a 40% chance of knocking down affected targets. Lasts 10 seconds.

    Lava Flows

    • 3 ranks available
    • Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your lava burst spells by an additional 6/12/24%, and when your flame shock is dispelled your spell casting speed is increased by 10/20/30% for 6 seconds.

    Tier Ten (Left to Right)

    Shamanism

    • 5 ranks available
    • Your lightning bolt and chain lightning spells gain an additional 4/8/12/16/20% and your lava burst gains an additional 5/10/15/20/25% of your bonus damage effects.

    Lava Surge

    • 3 ranks available
    • Gives your flame shock periodic damage ticks a 10/20/30% chance to reset the cooldown of your lava burst spell.

    Tier Eleven (Left to Right)

    Thunderstorm

    • 1 rank available
    • Instant
    • 45 sec cooldown
    • You call down a bolt of lightning, energizing you and damaging nearby enemies within 11 yards. Restores 8% mana to you and deals 1794 to 2038 nature damage to all nearby enemies, knocking them back 20 yards. This spell is usable while stunned.

    Restoration Talent Preview

    Tier One (Left to Right)

    Improved Healing Wave

    • 5 ranks available
    • Reduces the casting time of your healing wave and greater healing wave spells by 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5 seconds.

    Totemic Focus

    • 5 ranks available
    • Reduces the mana cost of your totems by 5/10/15/20/25%.

    Tier Two (Left to Right

    Improved Reincarnation

    • 2 ranks available
    • Reduces the cooldown of your reincarnation spell by 7/15 minutes and increases the amount of health and mana recovered when reincarnating by an additional 10/20%.

    Healing Grace

    • 3 ranks available
    • Reduces the threat generated by your healing spells by 5/10/15% and reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage-over-time effects will be dispelled by 10/20/30%.

    Tidal Focus

    • 5 ranks available
    • Reduces the mana cost of your healing spells by 1/2/3/4/5%.

    Tier Three (Left to Right)

    Improved Water Shield

    • 3 ranks available
    • You have a 33/66/100% chance to instantly gain mana as if you consumed a water shield orb when you gain a critical effect from yourhealing wave or riptide spells, a 20/40/60% chance when you gain a critical effect from your lesser healing wave spell, and a 10/20/30% chance when you gain a critical effect from your chain heal spell.

    Healing Focus

    • 3 ranks available
    • Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting any shaman healing spells by 23/46/70%.

    Tidal Force

    • 1 rank available
    • Instant
    • 3 min cooldown
    • Increases the critical effect chance of your healing spells by 60%. Each critical heal reduces the chance by 20%. Lasts 20 seconds.

    Ancestral Healing

    • 3 ranks available
    • Reduces your target’s physical damage taken by 3/7/10% for 15 seconds after getting a critical effect from one of your healing spells.

    Tier Four (Left to Right)

    Restorative Totems

    • 3 ranks available
    • Increases the effect of your mana spring totem by 7/12/20%, and increases the amount healed by your healing stream totem by 15/30/45%.

    Focused Insight

    • 5 ranks available
    • After casting any shock spell, your next heal’s mana cost is reduced by 15/30/45/60/75% of the cost of the shock spell, and its healing effectiveness is increased by 5/10/15/20/25%.

    Tier Five (Left to Right)

    Healing Way

    • 3 ranks available
    • Increases the amount healed by your healing wave and greater healing wave spells by 8/16/25%.

    Nature’s Swiftness

    • 1 rank available
    • Instant
    • 2 min cooldown
    • When activated, your next nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell. Nature’s swiftness shares a cooldown with elemental mastery.

    Focused Mind

    • 3 ranks available
    • Reduces the duration of any silence or interrupt effects used against the shaman by 10/20/30%. This effect does not stack with other similar effects.

    Tier Six (Left to Right)

    Ancestral Resolve

    • 2 ranks available
    • Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 5/10%.

    Purification

    • 5 ranks available
    • Increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 2/4/6/8/10%.

    Tier Seven (Left to Right)

    Nature’s Guardian

    • 5 ranks available
    • Whenever a damaging attack brings you below 30% health, your maximum health is increased by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds, and your threat level towards the attacker is reduced

    • 30-second cooldown

    Mana Tide Totem

    • 1 rank available
    • Requires 3 points in restorative totems
    • Instant
    • 5 min cooldown
    • Summons a mana tide totem with 10% of the caster’s health at the feet of the caster for 12 seconds that restores 6% of total mana every 3 seconds to group members within 30 yards.

    Improved Cleanse Spirit

    • 1 rank available
    • Requires 5 points in purification
    • Empowers your cleanse spirit spell to also remove a magic effect from a friendly target.

    Tier Eight (Left to Right)

    Blessing of the Eternals

    • 2 ranks available
    • Increases the critical effect chance of your spells by 2/4%, and increases the chance to apply the earthliving heal-over-time effect on the target by 40/80% when they are at or under 35% total health.

    Improved Chain Heal

    • 2 ranks available
    • Increases the amount healed by your chain heal spell by 10/20%.

    Nature’s Blessing

    • 3 ranks available
    • Increases your healing by an amount equal to 5/10/15% of your intellect.

    Tier Nine (Left to Right)

    Ancestral Awakening

    • 3 ranks available
    • When you critically heal with a single-target direct heal, you summon an ancestral spirit to aid you, instantly healing the party or raid target with the lowest health within 40 yards for 10/20/30% of the amount healed.

    Earth Shield

    • 1 rank available
    • 8635 Mana
    • 40 yd range
    • Instant cast
    • Protects the target with an earthen shield, reducing casting or channeling time lost when damaged by 30% and causing attacks to heal the shielded target for 1609. This effect can only occur once every few seconds. 6 charges. Lasts 10 minutes. Earth shield can only be placed on one target at a time and only one elemental shield can be active on a target at a time.

    Improved Earth Shield

    • 2 ranks available
    • Requires 1 point in earth shield
    • Increases the amount of charges for your earth shield by 1/2, and increases the healing done by your earth shield by 5/10%.

    Tier Ten (Left to Right)

    Tidal Waves

    • 5 ranks available
    • When you cast chain heal or riptide, you have a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to lower the cast time of your healing wave spell by 30% and increase the critical effect chance of your lesser healing wave spell by 25%, until two such spells have been cast. In addition, your greater healing wave gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus healing effects and your healing wave and lesser healing wave gain an additional 2/4/6/8/10% of your bonus healing effects.

    Tier Eleven (Left to Right)

    Riptide

    • 1 rank available
    • 6590 Mana
    • 40 yd range
    • Instant cast
    • 6 sec cooldown
    • Heals a friendly target for 2397 and another 3780 over 15 seconds. Your next chain heal cast on that primary target within 15 (yards, seconds?) will consume the heal-over-time effect and increase the amount of the chain heal by 25%.

Categories: Cataclysm

Cataclysm Information – Shaman Talents Included.

May 6, 2010 4 comments

As most people are undoubtedly aware, Cataclysm friends and family testing started a few days ago. Normally this period of testing is covered by a very strict no disclosure policy. However for whatever reason, Blizzard have decided to ease the restrictions on this somewhat (exactly how much is probably only known by those in the testing). Considering Blizzard debated scrapping the friends and family testing phase entirely after it was held accountable for so many leaks in Wrath of the Lich King testing, this is arguably a sensible move. Whether this signifies a very short friends and family testing phase and a fast move to closed beta or not could be debated. For the masses, let’s hope so.

In addition the massive amount of Cataclysm information becoming available, there have been some significant announcements made regarding the future of battle.net.

The talent trees have been made available and can be seen here. It should be stressed that it’s still very early in the testing and there is a high chance that these will be changed before launch.

New Elemental Talents

Our new persistent AoE spell, earthquake. As previously thought, this is indeed channelled which makes sense to keep it consistent with most other class AoEs.

Another amazing change for the elemental shamans. Wrathful totems finally frees us of needing to use totem of wrath to boost party or raid spell power and allows us to use our arsenal of DPS totems. This buff scales with our own gear, exactly as the warlock’s demonic pact currently does. Our buff is no longer sub-par.

Previously un-reported, this talent gives the damage over time portion of flame shock a chance to reset our lava burst cooldown. Not only is this a great change in terms of DPS but hopefully, will make for slightly more dynamic game play as you’ll need to pay attention to this occurring rather than hammering out a relatively static rotation.

Another nice DPS increasing talent buffing our elemental overload spells.

Screenshots

There’s an absolute plethora of screenshots becoming available of the various areas and cities in their altered state. I’m not going to attempt to keep up with the speed at which they’re released but I will suggest interested parties spend some time browsing the front page of mmo-champion.com as the updates are coming thick and fast over there.

I will pick out the following though as it’s currently suspected to be the new totem graphics for the goblin race.

(Image courtesy of mmo-champion.com)

If so, I have to say that personally, I think it’s by far the best looking of any of the totem sets.

Battle.Net Changes

There have been two huge announcements regarding the future of battle.net. Firstly, when Starcraft 2 launches it will do so with facebook integration. Initially, this will allow the mass importation of contacts from facebook into your battle.net friends list. This should allow for individuals to find friends who are also playing very simply. I do have Starcraft 2 beta, so I’ll update this with more as soon as the feature is up and running there. We can assume that this will also apply to WoW in the future, most likely as part of Cataclysm’s launch.

Secondly, is the launch of battle.net real ID. This is boasting some amazing features such as:-

  • Cross-Game Chat -

    Whether your friends are playing Starcraft or WoW, you’ll be able to speak with them. In addition, their realm and faction within WoW will be irrelevant

  • View All Characters -

    Rather than needing to add every single alt of your friends (and then trying to keep track of who’s alt is who’s), adding someone as a real ID friend will automatically show all their characters both present and future

  • Real Names for Friends -

    Related to the above, real ID will use real names rather than in game character names or handles. This prevents you needing to remember which character belongs to who or exactly what the game nick of your friend playing SC2 actually is.

  • Broadcasting -

    You can broadcast status messages to all your real ID friends.

  • Rich Presence -

    You can see what your friends are actually upto, whether they’re raiding, playing a ranked SC2 match, PvPing or idling in a city.

This is a huge change in regards to opening up communication. For friends who have been separated in WoW by server or faction, real ID will allow them to chat in game again. Equally you can safely go and take a game of Starcraft 2 or play another character without missing an all important raid.

The Launch of Starcraft 2 and the WoW Vanity Pet

As was previously reported, the Starcraft 2 collectors edition will feature a new vanity pet for WoW players.

The official release date for Starcraft is now available as the 27th of July.

(Image courtesy of mmo-champion.com)

The availability of collector’s editions will be limited so those interested need to start sourcing their pre-orders now.

Categories: Cataclysm

More Cataclysm Changes, Icecrown Citadel Buff Increases and New RaF Mount Live.

April 28, 2010 1 comment

After the epic news about the changes to twenty five and ten man raiding earlier in the week, there have been a couple more announcements regarding system changes for Cataclysm.

Emblem Changes

The emblem system featured in Wrath of the Lich King is being simplified a lot for Cataclysm. This is a much needed change in my opinion as the number of emblem types you could potentially earn was becoming ludicrous. More confusing was the conversion system in place to change the higher emblems into the lower tier versions.

There will be four sets of emblems in Cataclysm; two for PvP and two for PvE.

PvE Emblems

  • Hero Points – These are the lower tier emblems and should be easy to obtain. There will be a cap on how many of these emblems you can have at any one time, but there won’t be a limit on the speed with which you can earn them. They’ll be earned from most dungeons.

  • Valor points – These are the higher tier emblems which are harder to obtain. There will be both a cap on how many of these emblems you can hate at any one time along with a cap as to how many you can earn per week. They will be obtained from the daily heroic dungeon and from raids.

PvP Emblems

  • Honour Points – These are the low tier and easily obtained PvP points. There will be a cap on how many you can have at any one time but no cap on the speed at which you can earn them. These will be rewarded from most PvP activities.

  • Conquest Points – These are the higher tier PvP emblems. Much like the highest PvE emblems, there is both a cap on how many you can have at one time and a cap on the speed at which you can earn them. These replace the current arena points system and will be rewarded from both arena games and from winning rated battle grounds.

It’s worth noting that to prevent you stock piling emblems, every time a new tier of raid content is released or a new PvP season commences, your highest tier emblems will be converted down to their lower tier variants. There will be a system in place to convert the PvP emblems to PvE emblems and vice versa. However, you will pay a penalty or “tax” for doing this, it will not be a 1:1 conversion.

The good news for some (myself included) is that you can earn the highest level PvP rewards without needing to take part in arenas.

I have to say from a personal point of view, I really like these changes. I enjoy battlegrounds but not arena matches, so the ability to still aim for the highest level rewards without needing to take part in an area of the game I don’t enjoy is a huge plus. The limit to the number of higher level emblems you can earn per week has been met with a degree of scepticism from the community, with some people arguing that again, Blizzard are rewarding more casual players who don’t want to invest as much time in the game. I can understand their argument but on the other hand I prefer the idea of choosing where you earn your x number of emblems a week from. I enjoy raiding. I have less interest in running random daily dungeons every day. Yet I felt obliged to do so at the start of Icecrown Citadel as I saw it as having a responsibility to my guild to gear up as fast as was possible.

In Wrath, we have seen people using alt characters to run the daily multiple times and use the emblems to buy the higher materials for crafted items for their main characters. We’ve also seen the limited attempt system causing some guild’s to practice encounters on their alts before attempting them with their main characters. (Though fortunately, the limited attempts should be a thing of the past come Cataclysm). Many people have suggested that the changes to the raid mechanics, with ten and twenty five man raids sharing a lock out, will result in more people turning to alts to satisfy their lust for raiding. I confess that I think if the most expensive crafting materials are still available from emblems, capping the rate at which we can earn them will merely serve to reinforce this alt mentality.

Icecrown Citadel Buff Increased

We all knew it was coming and this reset it arrived, Hellscream’s Warsong and Strength of the Wyrnn have been increased in strength to 15% from 10%. As a recap, these buffs now increase healing done, damage done and hit points by 15%. In addition, the number of attempts for the wing bosses in heroic modes has now been increased to 45.

X-53 Touring Rocket is Live

This was promised some time ago but then delayed. Finally, the x-53 touring rocket is live and replaces the zhevra as the new “recruit-a-friend” mount. This mount signifies the first, multi-passenger, flying mount. Like the celestial steed from the Blizzard store, the mount scales in speed. That is to say, if you have already earned a 310% speed mount in game through the achievement system, this mount will take the same speed.

For anyone disliking the raid changes for Cataclysm or simply wanting a new alt character (or are predicting a main change perhaps), this is the perfect time to buy yourself a second account and do just that. Linked to your first, you’ll gain additional experience, have the ability to summon your characters to each other and earn the mount for your main account. It’s well worth noting that you can buy upgrade the account online via the Blizzard store and you can also buy digital game cards here. If you want the mount immediately, you’ll need to use a game card.

Overall, it’s been an exciting week of Cataclysm changes announced. While there is an understandably mixed view amongst the community, specifically related to the raid lock out alterations, I’m thrilled so far with all of the information released. With the implementation of the mastery system, the raid changes and the caps on how fast you earn emblems, Cataclysm is shaping up to be an expansion about choices. The mastery system should allow people more flexibility in how they spec as opposed to the cookie cutter PvE specs that have dominated tBC and Wrath. The choice between which size of raids you participate in is huge for me. Generally MMOs make the mistake of pushing ambitious players into joining large scale guilds if they want to truly maximise their character’s potential in terms of gear. Realising that smaller groups of players can be equally dedicated and skilled is a huge step forward for the genre in general, allowing smaller groups of friends to still see the highest level of content without being pressed into big guilds. Frequently, friends are separated and unable to enjoy the highest PvE experience together. Even assuming they join the same guild, there are often rotations for spots and people can’t raid together. The changes cater for exactly this scenario as well as allowing players with more obscure real life commitments to still compete.

The one aspect I’m really keen to hear a few more details about now is the Path of the Titans. Once again, this adds a further element of choice to the game.

Categories: Cataclysm

Cataclysm: Raid Progression Refinements

April 26, 2010 7 comments

Today, in another round of blue posts announcing game changes for Cataclysm came the news that the differentiation between ten and twenty five man raids would be all but removed with the third expansion.

The source of the information can be found here. In summary:-

  • 10 man and 25 man raids will share the same lockout
  • 10 man and 25 man raids will share the same loot
  • There will be no difference in difficulty between 10 man raids and 25 man raids
  • Heroic versions of both 10 and 25 man raids will be activated on a case by case basis; exactly as Icecrown Citadel currently works
  • 10 man and 25 man heroic raids will share the same loot
  • To acknowledge the logistic difficulties in organising 25 man raids in comparison with 10 man raids, 25 man encounters will drop more loot

Rather than reword the entire blue post, I’m copying it directly here. It reads as follows:-

We’re continuing to refine the raid progression paths in Cataclysm, and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

The first of the refinements being made is that we’re combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. Unlike today, 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. In other words, if you wanted to do both a 10- and 25-person raid in a single week, you’d need to do so on two different characters. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn’t apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.

We’re designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we’ll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They’ll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.

Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards

10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.

10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) — Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items.

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week.

We do like how gating bosses over time allows the community to focus on individual encounters instead of just racing to the end boss, so we’re likely to keep that design moving forward. We don’t plan to impose attempt limitations again though, except maybe in cases of rare optional bosses (like Algalon). Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.

In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don’t want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We’ll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience.

We design our raids to be accessible to a broad spectrum of players, so we want groups to be able to make the decision about whether to attempt the normal or Heroic versions of raids pretty quickly. The goal with all of these changes is to make it as much of a choice or effect of circumstance whether you raid as a group of 10 or as a group of 25 as possible. Whether you’re a big guild or a small guild the choice won’t be dependent on what items drop, but instead on what you enjoy the most.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We’re eagerly awaiting any that we may have left
unanswered. To the comments!

Obviously, as someone who is already a member of a ten man strict guild, this couldn’t be better news for me. When I (and some friends) originally made the decision to switch to a ten man guild, we did so for a number of reasons.

Firstly, an issue for many mediocre twenty five man guilds out there is the skill of their players. Most guilds have a strong core of active, skilled and dedicated members. However they still need those twenty five people to fill the spots and frequently they will recruit less skilled players in order to do so. They get caught in a catch 22 situation. If they raise their expectations, then they may have to wait a significant period of time before raiding; thus running the risk of losing their core. If they lower their expectations in order to raid, they are doomed to “carry” a certain percentage of players on a daily basis. This is all well and good for some encounters, for the harder ones where everyone’s performance is vital, they hit a brick wall on progression.

Secondly, the atmosphere in smaller guilds is friendlier. With so few members, everyone gets to know each other on a very personal level.

Thirdly and somewhat related to the above, it’s logistically easier to organise ten people and their schedules. You can generally fit raids to accommodate all your members. Due to this, you don’t need as many excess members for rotations when others can’t make it. Thus your team becomes more adjusted to playing together, perform better together and, as above, know each other better.

However the problem for ten man guilds have been widely publicised on this blog in the past. If you want to compete for PvE progress with your equals (that is to say, other ten man guilds), then the only way at present is to follow guildox.com’s ten man strict regulations. This prevents your members from being able to pug twenty five man raids. It also limits recruitment, both for raiders and for social members. In addition, we pay a penalty on our loot. This extends further than just the actual stats of an piece, but runs to mounts and other vanity items. Mimiron’s Head? Invincible? Both come from twenty five man raids only.

I’d love to hear the thoughts of readers who are currently active in either ten or twenty five man guilds. It’s certainly a big change for Cataclysm but it also remains faithful to their ethos of bringing raid content to the masses.

Cataclysm Zone Information: Vashj’ir

April 16, 2010 3 comments

Yesterday, another round of information was delivered regarding Cataclysm zone areas. Once again, I’m going to simply copy the information from the Cataclysm site. You can find the source here.

Judging by the level range, it’s another zone we’ll be encountering as soon as Cataclysm goes live. It’s certainly a relief to know that there will (hopefully) multiple levelling area options. What presumably are the quest hubs sound reminiscent of Icecrown with an Alliance and Horde naval ship travelling around the area.

I’m generally not a fan of under water zones. Anyone who ever played Everquest will undoubtedly have unpleasant memories of an under water area there called Kedge Keep. The screenshots look amazing however.

Once a great Highborne city housing some of the most revered night elves of Kalimdor, Vashj’ir was swallowed by the Great Sea in the Sundering and thought to be lost forever. Queen Azshara, formerly a beloved leader of the Highborne, escaped death in the depths of the sea when the Well of Eternity imploded. Such salvation came at a great cost, as the queen and many of her fellow Highborne were forever transformed into the monstrous naga, doomed to wander the seas for thousands of years. Their existence mostly remains a mystery to the peoples of modern Azeroth, though the Earthen Ring has learned of Azshara’s naga seizing Vashj’ir for an unknown purpose as the cries of the elements echo across Azeroth from the Abyss.

The Sunken City

Vashj’ir is a level 78-82 zone in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm where players will be called to explore the depths of the Great Sea and stop the naga from seizing immeasurable power from the realm of Neptulon the Tidehunter. This expansive underwater zone will feature an unprecedented fight for survival against the naga overwhelming the area, several new quest hubs — including Alliance and Horde naval ships and submarines — all-new underwater travel and combat mechanics, several pocketed undersea caves free from water’s grip, two new five-player dungeons (Throne of the Tides and Abyssal Maw), and the first-ever opportunity to explore the remains of the once-majestic city of Vashj’ir!

Bottled Distress Message Found Adrift at Sea

Need your help. Time is short. I’m held captive in what I hope to be a nightmare.

Enjoying the ocean air just days ago. We were determined to control key trade routes through victory at sea over the Horde. Their fleet came into our scopes. Our world became the deafening sound of battle, the smell of gunpowder, and the feeling of fear. Looking back now, though, that wasn’t real fear.

We weren’t alone in those waters. Our naval warfare attracted attention and rendered us prey. With our vessel already torn apart and taking on water, we saw a tremendous creature rise from the depths and shatter the hull, sucking us down to the sea floor. It all happened so fast. I was quick to tread the waters, hoping to regroup with any survivors I could find through a dense garden of kelp, constantly gasping for a chance breath. That’s when the onslaught began. From all directions swarms of brutal naga swept through and captured a great many of us. Beaten near to death, I awoke in agony, bound in chains.

And here I still sit. I can only describe our prison as very big and somehow very much alive. We’re in the hands of the naga now. Surviving crewmates in better condition than me are driven into slave labor.

One escaped. Thomas. He didn’t make it far before I saw him dragged back. Before being forced into labor, he spoke in a panic about some large shell protecting this living prison, expansive night elf ruins in the distance, strange naga rituals underway, and sea vrykul battling our captors. He made little sense. Could be mad. Or I could be mad to hope vrykul are fighting to free us.

Prison patrols out again. Send word to Stormwind. Sunken city far from extinct. Naga plotting something horrific. Please help.

Categories: Cataclysm

Cataclysm Zone Information: Mount Hyjal

April 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Continuing the trend of releasing snippets of information regarding Cataclysm, today saw a blue post detailing one of the newly revamped zones. Mount Hyjal, formally a tier 6 raiding zone in The Burning Crusade expansion (and home of Archimonde himself), will become a level 78-82 area. This will boast multiple quest hubs and utilise the phasing technology first introduced with Wrath of the Lich King.

Given the level range of this area, you can assume it’s the first area that you’ll be questing in when Cataclysm goes live.

Rather than reiterate details of the article in it’s entirety, I’m going to copy and paste it here.

For years, Mount Hyjal and the wounded World Tree, Nordrassil, have remained cut off from the rest of Azeroth. Sealed away within a protective field of dense foliage by Malfurion Stormrage, Nordrassil has been slowly recovering from the devastation of the Third War, when Malfurion called upon the tree’s power to destroy the archdemon Archimonde and repel the forces of the Burning Legion and Scourge. Now, with the impending cataclysm, the World Tree’s well-being is threatened once more. From the Firelands within the Elemental Plane, Ragnaros and his minions prepare to burst into Hyjal and set Nordrassil ablaze — and the conflagration would endanger all life on Azeroth.

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, players will have the opportunity to explore the newly reopened Mount Hyjal as Azeroth’s heroes, with the help of Ysera, Malfurion Stormrage and Hamuul Runetotem, are called upon to push back the armies of the Firelord, banish Ragnaros to the Elemental Plane and lay waste to the twilight dragon stronghold in nearby Darkwhisper Gorge. This all-new level 78-82 zone will feature multiple quest hubs, phased terrain and quest lines, portals to micro-zones within the Firelands, an all-new raid dungeon, and much more.

The World Tree

Players will be able to enter Hyjal by way of Moonglade, to take on a series of high-stakes quests in a historic location alongside some of Azeroth’s most renowned heroes. With a longstanding rivalry among the night elf leadership threatening to undermine the campaign against Deathwing, players will quickly discover the task of defending Nordrassil is more daunting than they had anticipated. In order to succeed, they must seek out the help of extremely powerful allies: the Ancients.

The Ancients

To protect Nordrassil and heal the devastation the invading fire elementals are causing across Mount Hyjal, players must first recapture the shrine of the wolf god Goldrinn. The ogres surrounding the shrine will not leave peacefully, but seizing the shrine will allow players their first opportunity to infiltrate the Firelands and shut down a key Twilight portal, slowing the advance of the nearby Twilight’s Hammer in Hyjal.

With the first portal dismantled, players will soon be sought by the wilderness spirit Aessina to assist in cleansing and healing the nearby forest, ultimately returning the land to its former splendor. This small victory, however, isn’t enough to deter the Twilight Remnants from attempting to scorch the forest once more. As you struggle to keep these foes at bay, you’ll also need to help the Guardians of Hyjal — a new neutral faction of druids and worshippers of the Ancients — repopulate the forest with animal life. It’s even rumored that Malorne has been spotted in the wilderness. Perhaps further investigation is necessary….

Amid the chaos, the Druids of the Talon will need players’ assistance to resurrect the goddess of winged creatures. Players begin the process by helping to slay a group of black dragons and closing a second Firelands portal from within. Just when you think things might be heating up, you’ll need to fight through a burning night elf town to shut down the third and final portal with the assistance of the turtle god Tortollus.

Darkwhisper Gorge

Your successes in Hyjal will ultimately lead you to the assembly of the Ancients, who have set a plan in motion to bring a powerful ally and demigod back into this realm. Before that can happen, however, you will need to infiltrate Darkwhisper Gorge disguised as a follower of the Twilight’s Hammer, acting quickly to sow discord within the entrenched faction, weakening it for the coming struggle. Only time will tell if the Ancients’ plan is a success — but you’ll need to do your part if there’s any hope of saving Mount Hyjal from the twilight dragons, Ragnaros, and his minions of the Elemental Plane.

Firelands

More information on this all-new level-85 raid dungeon is coming soon.

If the above isn’t enough to whet your appetite, there were also a couple of screenshots of the area made available.

Categories: Cataclysm

Shaman Changes for Cataclysm

April 7, 2010 9 comments

After spending the day hitting F5 on the blue tracker page of MMO-Champion, the promised shaman changes for Cataclysm have been released. Please note that we’re still a long way off Cataclysm’s release and these will all be subject to change. You can find the original blue post here.

New Shaman Spells

Primal Strike

  • Available at level 3

This is a new weapon based attack designed to make levelling as enhancement more appealing (tackling the complaint that many of the key enhancement talents come very late in the tree)

Healing Wave

  • Available at level 4

This is an entirely new healing spell being added to the restoration shaman’s arsenal. The intention is for this spell to become our core, single target healing spell. Due to this change, our current healing wave will be renamed to greater healing wave. As such, we will have Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave. The lesser and greater varieties are deemed to be more situational.

Unleash Weapon

  • Available at level 81
  • Instant cast
  • 30 yard range
  • 15 second cooldown
  • Undispellable

“Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects.” A dual-wielding enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both their weapon enchants.

A few of the effects under consideration for this spell are as follows:-

  • Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant fire damage and buffs the shaman’s next fire attack by 20%
  • Windfury Weapon – Hurls a spectral version of your weapon at the target, dealing 50% weapon damage and increasing the shaman’s haste for the next 5 swings
  • Earthliving Weapon – Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman’s next heal by 20%

Healing Rain

  • Available at level 83
  • Two second cast time
  • 30 yard range
  • 10 second duration
  • 10 second cool down

An area of effect, heal over time spell that calls down rain, healing all players within the selected area. There is no limit to the number of players that can be effected by this heal but you can expect a diminishing returns mechanic like with many AoEs.

Spiritwalker’s Grace

  • Available at level 85
  • 10 second duration
  • 2 minute cooldown

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.

Changes to Existing Abilities, Spells, Mechanics and Totems

General Changes

  • Shaman’s will no longer be able to remove poison effects
  • Totem of Wrath will replace Flametongue totem for all shaman specs
  • The newly designed Totem of Wrath will now buff spell power by 4%
  • Cleanse Spirit will be available to all shaman specs but only remove curse effects
  • Cleansing Totem will be removed as part of the changes being made to the dispelling system

Restoration Shaman

  • Mana usage will require more attention in Cataclysm than it has in Wrath of the Lich King. This will apply to all healers and not just the restoration shamans.
  • Spirit will be the restoration shaman’s mana regeneration stat
  • Cleanse Spirit will become a baseline spell for all shamans, however, it will only remove curses. Restoration shaman’s will have the option of taking an improved cleanse spirit that will also remove magic effects

Elemental Shaman

  • 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.
  • There may be the ability to drop searing totem at range*

*Note:- By this I presume they are considering drastically increasing the range on searing totem to stop us having to move so close for it to be effective.

Enhancement Shaman

  • 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.

Shaman 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.

Mastery Bonuses

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.

Enhancement

  • Melee damage
  • Melee Haste
  • Nature Damage*

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

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.

Shaman Changes Q&A

Q: Will Maelstrom Weapon include lava burst?

  • A: That’s the plan currently.

Q: How can elemental overload proc lava burst when lava burst already hits so hard in PvP?

    A: We’re going to change almost every number in Cataclysm to adjust for everything from single ranks of spells to larger health pools to new combat ratings. With much higher health pools, hopefully burst damage will go back to being a tool and not the only way to win matches.

    Q: What happens to the lightning overload talent?

    • A: It provides a bonus to elemental overload.

    Q: Elemental doesn’t want to drop searing totem at range. We want to drop magma totem.

    • A: Searing totem needs to so more single-target damage than magma. That said, if we’re happy with the ability to occasionally place totems at range there is no reason it couldn’t apply to any totem. Imagine, “After using this spell, the next totem you drop will appear at the feet of your target.”

    Q: Will elemental have to spend talent points just to get the spirit to hit conversion?

    • A: It will be bundled with another attractive talent, such as elemental precision.

    Q: Will unleash weapon work with frostbrand?

    • A: Yes. We just provided some examples.

    Q: Is Healing Rain channelled?

    • A: No, it’s not a channeled spell.

    Q: Is earthquake channelled?

    • A: Probably, but we’ll see.

    Q: Will unleashed weapon consume your enchants?

    • A: No.

    Q: Does the 10% spell power buff from elemental scale with the shaman or the target’s spell power?

    • A: It will scale with the target the same as demonic pact and other buffs that bring the same benefit.

    Q: Are you supporting two-handed weapons for enhancement?

    • A: Once you start to get into the dual-wield talents, then enhancement is a dual-wield tree.

    Q: You didn’t address enhancement survivability or mobility or X and Y!

    • A: This was just a preview and is not a comprehensive list of every change. Much more will be revealed in beta and much will change during beta.

    Q: You didn’t answer the most important shaman question! What about sentry totem?

    • A: The Cataclysm is a time of great upheaval. Deathwing’s return to Azeroth tore a hole in the fabric of the universe that tragically resulted in the ultimate and irrevocable destruction of all sentry totems. Level designers are contemplating a shrine for the sentry totem near that of Uther the Lightbringer. We know shaman players will greet this news with grief, but as with all class changes we’ll have to get into beta before anything is final.
Categories: Cataclysm
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