Archive for July, 2010

New Cataclysm Build and Zing Does Beta

July 30, 2010 2 comments

There was another beta build pushed out late last night with a plethora of class changes. There were, however, only two Shaman class changes and neither relate to the elemental tree. These are as follows:-

Elemental Mastery and Nature’s Swiftness no longer sharing a cooldown doesn’t impact us as it’s impossible to take both talents.

The new changes have all been accounted for in the MMO Champion Talent Calculator which can, as always, be found here.

Goblin ground mount model images have been shown over at MMO Champion also and while I tend to avoid publishing beta images (purely because I can’t keep up with how fast they appear), these are too cute to ignore.

(Image courtesy of MMO Champion)

The Goblin ground mounts continue to make me more and more envious of the race in general. (Though on the subject of mounts, I did obtain the following a couple of days ago)

In closing, I’ve finally been fortunate enough to obtain Cataclysm beta and having a “hands on” feeling for the class changes is something I’m greatly looking forward to. Hopefully, I’ll be bringing you my thoughts next week on how the elemental spec is shaping up.

Categories: Cataclysm

Elemental Gear – A Look at Best In Slots

July 28, 2010 8 comments

Some time ago, I wrote an article about gearing your elemental shaman to be raid ready from purely auction house obtained items. (You can read that article here.) Since then, I’ve had numerous requests to produce a “best in slot” guide and I’ll admit that I’ve generally avoided the topic.

A “best in slot” list refers to an end product comprising of the best available items in game. There are multiple problems with this concept. Firstly, World of Warcraft’s raiding game is now offering a great deal more choice. Players are presented with the option of focussing on ten man content alone. Throughout the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, ten and twenty five man loot tables have been separate entities; much to the annoyance of those people confined to ten man content to allow their guild to stay ranked. This is changing in Cataclysm (thank goodness) but it does mean that the items available to us vary. On the note of availability, many players also need to be realistic about their guild’s capabilities. Many coveted items for such a list are from heroic versions of twenty five man bosses. With the Icecrown Citadel buff gradually growing in it’s potency, the content has undoubtedly been accessible to more players. That said, some encounters remain very difficult and a portion of the player base will just not see them. You can, naturally, argue that this doesn’t change the “best in slot” list; indeed it doesn’t. However with a need to balance hit there is little point in relying on items from end game content that you have little chance of acquiring. When your spells are being resisted and your DPS directly affected, telling yourself that if you were to loot a specific item from a specific heroic encounter is of little consequence. We need to play in the here and now. Finally and related to the previous points, it is easy to forget that hit rating is our strongest stat until we are capped. Being under hit cap and experiencing resists will impact your DPS far more than any other stat. As such, it is vital to remember that acquiring best in slot gear is the destination at the end of a long and arduous journey. On the path, you may find that another item is far superior to you than one flagged as best in slot. This is frequently the case for high hit rating items.

Considering all of this, I’m not going to produce a definitive best in slot guide. I’m going to discuss your options at each step of your journey to that much desired destination.

Hit Ratings

At the centre of creating your ideal gear set should always be hit rating. It’s imperative that you remain hit capped as slipping under this point will have dire consequences for your DPS. The raid setup your guild utilise is key to calculating your required hit rating. There is zero point in aiming for a “best in slot” gear set that balances it’s hit around having misery or a boomkin’s presence if you raid with neither. Equally draenei aura rewards and additional 1% hit that needs to be accounted for.

I’m going to assume that everyone raids with Elemental Precision as aside from the hit rating increase, it also provides threat reduction. Based on this, hit rating required is shown below:-

  • Draenei with Misery / Boomkin Buff = 10% Hit Required = 263 Hit Rating (on character sheet)
  • Draenei without Misery / Boomkin Buff = 13% Required = 342 Hit Rating (on character sheet)
  • Non-Draenei with Misery / Boomkin Buff = 11% Required = 289 Hit Rating (on character sheet)
  • Non-Draenei without Misery / Boomkin Buff = 14% Required = 368 Hit Rating (on character sheet)

These are the figures you need to balance your gear set around. Being a few points under will impact your DPS but it will be quite negligible. Equally a few points over isn’t catastrophic. Avoid going considerably over hit rating as the stats are just wasted. Equally if you slip too far under, you’ll experience a large amount of resists on your offensive spells and your DPS will suffer.

Ten Man Versus Twenty Five Man Gear

Undoubtedly the largest factor that determines how your best in slot template looks comes down to whether you have access to twenty five man raiding. When Wrath content became available in two different incarnations (ten man and twenty five man), many players chose to focus purely on the smaller raids. Out of this apparent enthusiasm for a smaller raid size came strict ten man guild rankings. This gave the smaller guilds their own forum in which to feel competitive. To qualify, your guild had to forgo most twenty five man content. Indeed to ensure a new guild could not form out of veteran players boasting the crème de la crème of twenty five man gear, restrictions were put in place to limit how many twenty five man kills one guild could accommodate.

There is a vast difference between the gear available to twenty five man raiders in comparison with ten man players. For some item categories, you’re going to find yourself very limited in choice. The prime example of this, for casters, is in regards to trinkets. The lack of good trinkets has been a plague throughout the Wrath expansion. It began with the Illustration of the Dragon Soul back in Obsidian Sanctum. It continued into Ulduar and the Trial of the (Grand) Crusader instances with Flare of the Heavens, Scale of Fates and Reign of the Unliving and it has shown no sign of ceasing it’s torment in Icecrown Citadel and Ruby Sanctum with Dislodged Foreign Object, Phylactery of the Nameless Lich and Charred Twilight Scale.

As an officer in a ten man strict guild, the biggest request I get from members is them asking if we can afford a raid flag so they can pug for their trinkets. Their justification is simple and obvious; “it’s best in slot for me.” My answer is equally simple, “change your best in slot list to account for your guild.”

Four Set Tier Ten Bonus

Due to tier items and set bonuses, a reasonable number of our gear pieces are selected for us. This raises the question as to whether it is better to aim for a set bonus or choose offset pieces.

The entire tier ten set can be purchased with frost emblems. Much like tier nine, however, each piece has potential upgrades which are purchased with emblems dropping in raid content.

The two set bonus for the elemental set is as follows:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 2 sec.

It’s not an amazing set bonus and it suffers under certain circumstances (such as high movement encounters). It’s still worth around 100 DPS however.

The four set bonus for the elemental tier ten set reads as follows:-

Categories: Best in Slot Guide

SC II Launch and More Site Updates

July 27, 2010 2 comments

Starcraft II received it’s greatly anticipated launch last night (I’m sure I wasn’t the only person queuing outside) and while not directly related to World of Warcraft, the collector’s edition did boast an in game vanity pet.

He has an amazing in game animation (though his place in the genre is undoubtedly debatable). Learning this pet does grant a Feat of Strength for those interested in such achievements. He’s definitely one for the vanity pet collector’s out there. Sadly for those who aren’t interested in playing Starcraft, you do need to install and register the game’s keycode to receive this pet. He’s automatically mailed out to all characters on your battlenet account (assuming, of course, that you register your Starcraft key to the same account.) The pet isn’t any kind of code that you can grab from the box so reselling the game isn’t an option.

Finally, I spent this morning updating my article on major glyph choices for the elemental shaman. You can find it here should you be interested in checking that out. It’s now entirely up to date and contains a little more in depth data about each glyph.

Categories: Raiding and WoW News

Cataclysm Compendium

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Cataclysm beta is well and truly under way. The state of the talent trees changes at a rapid rate with the tweaking still very much in progress. Whilst I will aim to keep this compendium up to date, the latest changes will always be published on my front page before the edits are made to this article.

Cataclysm Stat Changes

Most of this information came from Blizzcon 2009 when the Cataclysm expansion was confirmed. In an attempt to simplify the high end game and the challenge of balancing various stats, many are being removed, merged or morphed in some fashion.

For DPS casters, Cataclysm is bringing the following broad changes:-

  • Spell power is being removed
  • We’ll receive a lot more stamina
  • Spirit is being removed for all DPS casters
  • MP5 is being removed entirely
  • Mastery is being introduced


The difference in hit points between plate wearers and cloth wearers is being drastically reduced for Cataclysm. For casters, we can expect to see much larger health pools than in the previous expansions.

Spell Power is Being Removed

This drastic change was also announced at Blizzcon 2009 and is still a topic of contention. Never the less, spell power as a stat is mostly being removed from the game. Come Cataclysm’s launch, intellect will be the main source of spell power for DPS casters.

A slight exception was made to this when it was announced that caster DPS weapons will contain spell power as an actual stat. The justification for this is to make them comparable to melee weapons in how attractive they are for the casters.

No More Spirit for DPS Players

While this has never been a stat that has affected shaman (aside from the annoyance of it appearing on otherwise nicely itemised items), spirit has always influenced the in combat mana regeneration of other casters. When Cataclysm goes live, spirit will no longer appear on most caster DPS items and mana regeneration for these classes and specs will be dealt with via a different system.

Spirit will be the primary source of mana regeneration for healers however.

Elemental shaman and balance druids are the exception to the above rules however. Both these class spec combinations will be sharing their gear with their healing counter parts. As such, they will have talents that allow conversion of spirit to hit so as to ensure that the spirit component of their gear is not wasted. In the shaman class review of Cataclysm changes, it was announced that this conversion would be bundled into another, more attractive talent rather than expecting shaman’s to spend points purely on converting spirit to hit.

However, when the newly pruned (thirty one point) talent trees appeared, the spirit to hit conversion was a stand alone entity. Currently it takes the form of Elemental Precision and appears as a tier two elemental talent.

MP5 Removed

For our restoration friends (or our restoration offspecs), MP5 will now be a thing of the past as this stat is being removed from the game entirely. Spirit will now influence the mana regeneration of our restoration tree.

The Introduction of Mastery

Where most stats are being trimmed and pruned away, mastery is a new stat to grace our gear in the expansion. This stat is directly tied to our talent choices and to quote the blue poster simply allows us to “become better at whatever makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique”. We’ve been promised a more thorough explanation of this in the up and coming weeks.

Elemental Shaman and Balance Druid Gear Itemisation Specifics

This is how itemisation of elemental shaman or balance druid gear will work in Cataclysm

  • You will still share gear with restoration druids and restoration shaman
  • Your gear will have spirit on it. It won’t have hit on it.
  • Hit on rings and other such gear will still benefit you
  • You will have a talent that converts spirit to hit. We will adjust talents accordingly so that you will want about as much spirit as say, a warlock wants hit
  • To stop the spirit to hit conversion feeling like a dull but mandatory talent, these conversions will be bundled into another, more interesting talent.
  • Raid buffs will no longer buff spirit, so you shouldn’t find yourself unexpectedly over hit cap because of buffs

New Shaman Spells For Cataclysm

Primal Strike

Primal Strike reads as follows:-

  • An instant weapon strike that causes 10 additional damage.
  • Available at level 3

This is a new weapon based attack designed to make levelling as enhancement more appealing. This is to tackle the complaint that most of the core enhancement talents come very late in the tree and many lower level shaman levelling as such find themselves primarily casting lightning bolt and thus, feeling more like elemental players.

Healing Wave

Healing Wave reads as follows:-

  • Heals a friendly target for 34 to 44.
  • Three second cast time
  • Available at level 7

This is an entirely new healing spell being added to the shaman 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.

Managing mana is going to become much more vital to all healers in Cataclysm. You can expect, therefore, that selecting the correct spell depending upon the situation will be quite critical.

Bind Elemental

Bind Elemental currently reads as follows:-

  • Binds the target hostile elemental for up to 50 sec. The bound unit is unable to move, attack or cast spells. Any damage caused will release the target. Only one target can be bound at a time.

  • 1.5 second cast
  • 30 yard range
  • Costs 9% of base mana

Unleash Elements

Unleash Elements currently reads as follows:-

  • Focuses the elemental force imbued in the Shaman’s weaponry, with the concentrated effects depending on the enchantment unleashed.
  • Available at level 81
  • Instant cast
  • 30 yard range
  • 15 second cooldown
  • Can not be dispelled

“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

Healing Rain currently reads as follows:-

  • Calls forth healing rains to blanket the area targeted by the shaman, restoring 1827 to 2173 health to allies in the area every 2 sec for 10 sec.
  • Available at level 83
  • Two second cast time
  • 30 yard range
  • 10 second duration
  • 10 second cool down
  • This spell is not channelled

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

Spiritwalker’s Grace currently reads as follows:-

  • Calls upon spiritual guidance, permitting movement while casting non-instant Shaman spells. This spell may be cast while casting other spells
  • 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.

Cleansing and Dispel Mechanic Changes

As part of wider changes to the way cleansing works (and which classes and specs can do so), some changes have been made to shamans.

  • Shaman’s will receive cleanse spirit as a baseline ability
  • Cleanse spirit will only remove curses
  • Restoration shamans can choose to take a talent that will improve cleanse spirit so it also removes magic effects
  • Shaman’s will no longer be able to remove poisons.
  • Cleansing totem will be removed
  • All cleanses and dispels will cost more mana than they previously have
  • Attempting to cleanse or dispel a target that isn’t inflicted with a debuff will still result in the mana being spent. At present, the spell will simply not cast and this encourages a spam fest approach to cleansing.

Mana Regeneration

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.

The Future of Totem of Wrath

  • Totem of wrath now will replace flametongue totem for all shaman
  • Totem of wrath will buff the group’s spell power by 4%
  • Elemental shaman will gain a talent that allows all fire totems to provide a +10% spell power buff
  • The above talent is Totemic Wrath
  • The above allows the elemental shaman to drop searing, magma or fire elemental totems without losing their spell power buff

  • The 10% spell power buff will be based upon the target’s spell power, not that of the shaman.
  • The above also applies to a warlock’s Demonic Pact
  • The 4% gained from totem of wrath and the 10% gained from an elemental shaman’s talented totems will not stack
  • The above will not stack with a warlock’s demonic pact either
    • Elemental Mastery

      Elemental Mastery received a small but significant revamp. Firstly, Blizzard removed the cooldown it shares with Nature’s Swiftness. The removal of this shared cooldown is irrelevant. We can’t take both talents so we gain nothing from this. On live, Elemental Mastery reads as follows:-

      • 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.

      On beta, the tooltip reads as follows:-

      • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your fire, frost, and nature damage is increased by 15% and you gain 20% spell haste for 15 sec.

      The instant cast portion of Elemental Mastery has not changed. The spell haste buff that we gain has been increased from 15% haste to 20% haste. In addition, the damage to our fire, frost or nature damage spells has been increased by 15%. The two factors combined should provide a sizeable DPS increase and the addition of Feedback ensures we’re still able to shave a small amount off the cooldown of Elemental Mastery.

      Shaman Talent Trees

      Early versions of all talent trees were scrapped in favour of drastically reduced, thirty one point trees. These trees visually resemble those of vanilla World of Warcraft.

      Thanks to MMO Champion, current versions of all class trees can be found here.

      As part of the talent tree revamps, all players will choose their specialization at level ten. Each spec within a class gains key skills (known as primary skills) when they choose this path. Two of these skills are talents previously located deep into their tree.

      Elemental Talent Tree Specializations

      The elemental tree primary skills are as follows:-

      • Eye of the Storm
      • Thunderstorm
      • Elemental Fury
        • Eye of the Storm

          The tooltip currently reads:-

          • Reduces the cast time of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst spells by 0.5 sec, and the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting those spells by 70%.

          This is a morph between the current, live version of Eye of the Storm (providing push back protection) and Lightning Mastery (providing cast time reduction.) Lightning Mastery was removed from the beta version of our talent trees.


          The current tooltip reads as follows:-

          • You call down a bolt of lightning, energizing you and damaging nearby enemies within 10 yards. Restores 8% mana to you and deals 551 to 629 Nature damage to all nearby enemies, knocking them back 20 yards. This spell is usable while stunned.

            • This is our iconic AoE and mana regeneration spell as on live.

              Elemental Fury

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your searing and magma totems and your fire, frost, and nature spells by 100%.

              As of the latest beta build launched on Friday the 23rd of July, Shamanism has also been removed from our talent tree (replaced with Feedback) and added to the elemental primary skills.

              Restoration Talent Tree Specializations

              The restoration tree primary skills are as follows:-

              Earth Shield

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • 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 150. This effect can only occur once every few seconds. 9 charges. Lasts 10 min. 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.


              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 10%.

              Healing Focus

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Reduces the cast time of your Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave spells by 0.5 sec and reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting any shaman healing spell by 70%.

                • Meditation

                  The current tooltip reads as follows:-

                  • Allows 50% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting.

                  New Talents for Elemental

                  Despite the massive revamping of the talent trees, many of our talents remain familiar to elemental players. This section will look at the new talents emerging for Cataclysm or the ones that have been changed.

                  Elemental Precision

                  This is the spirit to hit conversion promised to address the fact that our gear will be itemised with spirit. Though initially it was promised that this talent would be merged with something more interesting, this never materialised. At present, Elemental Precision is as follows:-

                  • Increases your chance to hit with fire, frost and nature spells by 1% and grants you spell hit rating equal to 33% of any spirit gained from items or effects.

                  At it’s maximum rank of level three, this gives a 100% spirit to hit conversion.

                  Totemic Wrath

                  This is the talent that severs the tie between our flagship spell power buff and our totem of wrath. At present, Totemic Wrath reads as follows:-

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

                  This is undoubtedly a huge step forward for the elemental tree and frees up many players to use their offensive fire totems. A number of questions have arisen regarding this talent. The primary one being as to whether we will be forced to clip our searing totem to ensure 100% uptime of the spell power buff. Personally, I would like to see a grace period added to this mechanic, whereby the buff will stay active for a few seconds after the totem expires. This would prevent us from needing to clip our totems.

                  Lava Surge

                  At present, Lava Surge reads as follows:-

                  • Gives your Flame Shock periodic damage ticks a 10% chance to reset the cooldown of your Lava Burst spell.

                  This undoubtedly makes for more intuitive play and precisely due to this, I’m loving this talent. At it’s highest rank (of two points), it provides a 20% chance to reset the lava burst cooldown. Theory crafting suggests, however, that it isn’t a huge increase to our DPS. In addition, there have been some concerns expressed that it will generate the potential for too much burst damage in PvP.


                  Our thirty one point talent is the newly created earthquake spell. At present, the tooltip reads as follows:-

                  • You cause the earth at the target location to tremble and break, dealing 240 physical damage every 1 sec to enemies in 8 yard radius, with a 20% chance of knocking down affected targets. Lasts 10 sec.

                  A criticism of the elemental tree has always been the lack of consistent AoE damage. Our area of effect “rotation” feels very clumsy and involves excessive movement to ensure the correct placement of our magma totem. Hopefully, earthquake will go a long way in rectifying this issue.

                  New Talents Within Reach

                  In addition to the new talents specifically for the elemental tree. There are a couple of new talents that can be utilised in elemental specs.

                  Ancestral Swiftness

                  This talent derives from tier two of the enhancement tree. It’s current tooltip reads as follows:

                  • Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 1 sec and increases movement speed by 7%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

                  It was announced that ghost wolf would be usable indoors. At it’s max rank of level two, this talent makes ghost wolf instant cast as well as providing an additional 15% speed. This gives shaman the potential to deal with movement fights much more effectively.

                  While it is a tier two talent, the enhancement tree also houses the Elemental Weapons talent. As this is a “must have” talent for elemental players, dipping into Ancestral Swiftness is very easy for us.

                  Ancestral Resolve

                  This talent resides in the first tier of the restoration tree. It’s current tooltip reads as follows:-

                  • Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 5%.

                  In addition to our own Elemental Warding, Ancestral Resolve gives us additional survivability. Whether this will become a core talent or one purely taken on more damage intensive fights has yet to be seen.

                  Totem Changes

                  Some totems are being changed or removed come the expansion. These are as follows:-

                  • Flametongue totem is being removed
                  • Totem of wrath will replace flametongue totem for all shamans
                  • The newly designed totem of wrath will provide a 4% spell power buff
                  • Elemental shaman can take a talent that allows all their fire totems to also offer a 10% spell power buff. Thus allowing elemental shaman to use DPS totems without losing their flagship spell power buff.

                  • Cleansing totem is being removed from the game as part of wider redesigns of the cleansing and dispel system
                  • Searing totem may become usable at range for elemental shaman
                  • Sentry totem is being removed from the game

                  Armour Specializations

                  Blizzard announced some time ago that they wanted to encourage players to wear the armour suited to their class. This was to combat the issue of, for example, a holy paladin rolling on a mail healing item or an elemental shaman equipping a cloth item. They chose to do this by introducing armour specializations. That is to say, if you’re wearing full mail armour you’ll receive a bonus for doing so.

                  For the mail bonuses, we’re seeing the following:-

                  Mail Specialization

                  • Increases your agility by 5% while wearing only mail armour
                    • Elemental Mail Specialization

                      • Increases your intellect by 5% while wearing only mail armour
                        • Tribal Mail Specialization

                          • Increases your intellect by 5% while wearing only mail armour


                          Masteries are derived from the mastery bonus on gear. This starts appearing on gear at around level 82.

                          MMO Champion give the following example:-

                          A level 82 player will get 1 Mastery point for each 93 Mastery Rating he has. This mastery point will increase the mastery bonus differently depending on the class, +1 Mastery Point doesn’t necessarily means a +1% increase to the bonus. (e.g. A Beast Mastery hunter with +2 Mastery gets +4% increased pet damage)

                          The elemental mastery reads as follows:-

                          • Grants a 20% chance for Elemental Overload to occur. Elemental Overload causes a Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, or Lava Burst spell you cast to trigger a second, similar spell on the same target at no additional cost that causes 60% of normal damage and no threat. Chance to trigger increased further by mastery rating.

                          Raid Changes

                          The following section is unrelated to shaman specifically but should be of interest to all raiders out there.

                          • As of Cataclysm, twenty five and ten man raids will share the same raid lockout. This means players need to choose whether to participate in a twenty five man raid or it’s ten man equivalent

                          • The difficulty of encounters will be evened out with the aim of making ten man and twenty five man raiding of equal difficulty.
                          • The ten man and twenty five man encounters will now share loot tables. This is to address the issue of players feeling pressured into a particular style of raiding in order to obtain the best possible gear. An example of this can be seen in with the caster trinkets in Wrath. Ruby Sanctum, the end instance, features amazing caster trinkets on the twenty five man loot table. The ten man variant has none. The same could be seen in both Trial of the Crusader and Obsidian Sanctum.

                          • To give players an additional incentive to raid twenty five man content, there will be a higher number of drops from these raids.

                          • Legendary items will be available from the ten person variant of a raid instance in Cataclysm. Again this is to prevent players feeling forced into a specific route of raiding.

                          • There will only be one set of raid achievements for every tier of content. Whether you choose to earn the achievement in a ten man or twenty five man setting is an individual choice.

                          • The highest tier of emblems will be called valour points. These will be obtained from raid instances and daily heroics

                          • There will be a cap placed on the number of valour points that can be earned within one week. It is predicted that those who raid will earn their designated number of emblems without the need to partake in daily heroics. This is to prevent players feeling the need to participate in content that they would rather not, for the sake of additional emblems.

                          • In addition to the capping the speed at which you can earn valour points. There will also be a cap on the number you can hold at any one time

                          • The lower tier of emblems will be known as honour points. These will be obtained from most dungeons.

                          • There will be a cap on how many honour points you can have at one time but no cap on the speed at which you can earn them.

                          • To prevent stockpiling of emblems prior to a new tier of items being released all valour points will be converted to honour points prior to the new tier going live.

                            • New Race Options for the Shaman

                            • Cataclysm is adding a number of new class race options in addition to the two new races launching. (Goblin for the Horde and Worgen for the Alliance.) Sadly for the Alliance shaman, the Worgen will not be available to us. Conversely, the Goblins are available for Horde players. Dwarves become the new available shaman race on the Alliance side.

                            • With new races come new totem models.

                              The Goblin totems look as follows:-

                              The Dwarf totems are as follows:-

                              While the new totem designs, specifically the Goblin totems, sparked cries for all shaman totems to be redesigned, there is no indication that this will happen any time soon. Indeed blue posters recently addressed the question whether any other races would have their models redesigned prior to Cataclysm. While the blue in question stated that there was an interest in doing this at some stage (due to the older races looking dated in comparison with the Worgen and Goblin), this would not happen before Cataclysm’s launch.

Elemental Mastery Changes and Armour Specializations

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

(Image courtesy of MMO Champion.)

Friday saw another beta build delivering a couple more (quite significant) shaman changes. In addition came the news of armour specializations.

Elemental Shaman Changes

These are as follows:-

The new talent tree can be seen here.


Shamanism now being a primary skill left a gaping hole in the sixth tier of our talent tree. Enter, Feedback!

It’s full details are as follows:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 1 second.
  • Three ranks available
  • Requires one point in Elemental Mastery
  • Requires twenty five points in elemental talents

Does this talent sound slightly familiar? It should do. This is very similar current elemental two set tier 10 bonus. Our current bonus reduces the remaining cooldown by two seconds. At it’s maximum rank, Feedback will reduce the cooldown by three seconds.

Elemental Mastery

The removal of the shared cooldown between Elemental Mastery and Nature’s Swiftness is irrelevant. We can’t take both talents so we gain nothing from this. On live, Elemental Mastery reads as follows:-

  • 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.

On beta, the tooltip reads as follows:-

  • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your fire, frost, and nature damage is increased by 15% and you gain 20% spell haste for 15 sec.

The instant cast portion of Elemental Mastery has not changed. The spell haste buff that we gain has been increased from 15% haste to 20% haste. In addition, the damage to our fire, frost or nature damage spells has been increased by 15%. The two factors combined should provide a sizeable DPS increase and the addition of Feedback ensures we’re still able to shave a small amount off the cooldown of Elemental Mastery.

Mail Specialization

Blizzard announced some time ago that they wanted to encourage players to wear the armour suited to their class. This was to combat the issue of, for example, a holy paladin rolling on a mail healing item or an elemental shaman equipping a cloth item. They chose to do this by introducing armour specializations. That is to say, if you’re wearing full mail armour you’ll receive a bonus for doing so.

For the mail bonuses, we’re seeing the following:-

Mail Specialization

  • Increases your Agility by 5% while wearing only mail armour

Elemental Mail Specialization

  • Increases your intellect by 5% while wearing only mail armour

Tribal Mail Specialization

  • Increases your intellect by 5% while wearing only mail armour

The first is clearly aimed at the enhancement shaman. Sharing our bonus with our restoration counterparts makes sense, particularly in the light of the stat system changes that we’ll be seeing for Cataclysm. Intellect is going to be the determining stat of our our spell power in addition to influencing our mana pool and our critical strike chance. Depending on whether you choose to take the Unrelenting Storm talent, it may also determine our mana regeneration rate.

It was undoubtedly a good set of changes for elemental players and I for one am excited about the newly revamped Elemental Mastery talent particularly.

Categories: Cataclysm

Azmara’s Restoration UI Guide: Part 2

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Last week saw Azmara from Ensidia grace us with his thoughts on how to create an ideal restoration UI. He covered macros, key bindings and the all important raid frames.

Today I’m bringing you part two of his guide. This focuses on more generalised UI design tips and how your hardware can benefit your raiding. You can read part one here.

General UI Design

Having sorted all your keybinds, setting up your macros and installing your chosen raid frames, the next step is deciding where to put everything. In truth, this is the most important part. You can have all the tools in the world but if you can’t find them when you need them, it’s irrelevant.

As a healer, the centrepiece of your UI is your raid frames. Unlike a tank or DPS, we can’t just place these in a corner out of the way. Your entire job depends upon your ability to heal the right people are the right time. You want your raid frames to be fairly central. This allows you to position everything else around them. Ideally, if you’re checking the time until the next defile, your tank’s health is only an inch or two away.

As a healer, your first priority is always yourself; a dead healer can’t heal anything. As such, you don’t want your own unit frame too far out of the way either since it provides the easiest manner of monitoring your own health. This also saves time as you don’t need to look for your own health in a group of twenty four other players.

Boss modes also deserve prime screen space. My timers are just to the left of my own unit frames. The warning messages (Defile on YOU!) appear immediately above my raid frames so they’re almost impossible to miss. Most of the boss mod addons also provide audio warnings (Bigwigs can be configured to provide a count down if you desire), so placing them more out of the way is forgiveable.

I mentioned in my previous article that action bars are almost redundant data. You really want to learn your keybinds and if you know them all, why are they still on your UI? Remove them and save some space. Another thing to mention here is clicking. A lot of people will try and argue that they can respond just as quickly as anyone else while clicking their abilities. Simply put, this is a lie. Ensidia will decline any player who is a clicker. If you’re found to be doing this after joining, you will be kicked. This may sound harsh but clicking is incredibly inefficient and it is impossible for a clicker to reactively use abilities faster than a player utilising keybinds.

The biggest adjustment when removing action bars is still monitoring your cooldowns. Personally, I use two addons to do this; “SexyCoolDown”, which is similar in function to ForteXorcist’s cooldown bar (but more lightweight) and an addon called “Filger” which tracks buffs and cooldowns (such as Riptide, Tidal Waves, Elemental Mastery and so on.) This is an incredibly useful and lightweight addon, however due to being entirely LUA based I would recommend Power Auras for those who are not comfortable with editing LUA files.


The final thing I would like to discuss before closing this article is your physical equipment. Obviously having a good PC will help your performance in raids but the one thing that is frequently overlooked are the important of good peripherals.

A good sized monitor is a godsend. I personally play on a 22″ HD monitor at resolution 1680×1050. It’s a nice size and gives you a lot of screen space to play with, much more than on a 17″ or 19″.

Another thing worth investing in is a good keyboard and mouse. I use the Logitech G15 keyboard with the Razer Naga mouse. Firstly, this gives me a whopping eighteen additional buttons on my keyboard, all within easy reach of my normal hand positioning. The Razer Naga mouse boasts and additional twelve configurable buttons in addition to running at a much higher sensitivity than standard mice (4000 DPI versus 800-1200 DPI.) While the Naga is an expensive choice, there are other Razer mice available for between £25 and £30. You’ll find these much more comfortable to use during long periods of gaming.

In closing, if you managed to make it all the way through this guide, I certainly hope you managed to pick up a few tips from it. I also hope I helped reinforce the knowledge that there aren’t any super secret keybinds and macros used by all the world class players. For those of you interested you can find my own UI updated and maintained over on the Ensidia website here.

Over at the Ensidia website you can also get the opportunity to ask questions and read guides written by some of the top players in the game, along with uploads of some excellent UIs and even some random stuff like Spotify play lists and some of the other games being played at the minute.

My final thanks goes out to Zing for providing me with the opportunity to write this guide and to everyone who took the time to read it.

Best of luck in Cataclysm and beyond!

Zing’s Closing Thoughts

Once again, I’d like to thank Azmara for producing this guide for us. It gives an interesting twist on creating a good, raiding UI from the perspective of a main spec healer. I’d also like to draw attention to two articles I published a long time ago, reviewing the benefits to be gained from using gaming keyboards and mice. You can find the keyboard article here and the mice article here.

Categories: Azmara of Ensidia

Entering the Sanctum

July 22, 2010 4 comments

(Image courtesy of Bridgeburners Guild.)

The second of our guest posts this week comes courtesy of a personal friend of mine outside of WoW. Tokk is a long standing member of the Bridgeburners guild on the Emerald Dream realm. Due to my own forced raid break, I was left somewhat stumped when people began requesting strategies for the Ruby Sanctum. When I finally decided to approach a third party to produce the guide, Tokk was my first choice.

Bridgeburners are currently EU ranked 248 (world rank of 476) and the leading PvE raiding guild on the Emerald Dream realm. With their status as the realm’s leading guild secured, they offer realm first achievement and title kills to all their members. They’re also recruiting! Interested parties should head over to their forums to read more about this lovely group of people.

(Image courtesy of Bridgeburners Guild.)

Today Tokk (with the assistance of his amazing guild) are bringing us an insight into the tactics and strategy involved in a successful Ruby Sanctum raid.


It’s time to take a closer look at the latest member of the elemental-breathing, tail swiping, angry lizard familiy, Halion The Twilight Destroyer.

In this post we will discuss his various phases and abilities across all modes and difficulties, but the tactics below are meant for the 10-man Heroic version of the fight.

The Room

The entirety of the fight takes place within the big circle in the middle of the Ruby Sanctum where Halion spawns. Once you engage him he will wall it off from the rest of the zone, so make sure you don’t linger too long on the edge when pulling. Other than that the fighting area remains static for the duration of the fight.


As with all dragons Halion uses the draconic hallmark abilities of frontal cone breathing, cleaving and tailswiping. The breath attacks occur in all phases and will usually kill non-tanks in a single hit. The tailswipe this time around is a knockdown stun that lasts for about 3 seconds, so be very careful not to get hit as it can be lethal throughout the fight.

Phase 1 – Physical Realm

Fiery Combustion

This ability is cast roughly every 20 seconds and puts a debuff on the target that ticks for 4000 damage every 2 seconds and builds up a counter every time, lasting for 30 seconds. Once the debuff wears off, is dispelled or the target dies, it will explode knocking nearby players back and placing a void zone type damage circle on the ground that leaves a DoT on anyone who stands in it. The size of the circle depends on the amount of stacks the initial debuff has ticked up to. The circle lasts for 40 seconds. Going through any kind of portal with the debuff on you will cause it to be dispelled on top of the portal, so be careful!

Meteor Strike

The second ability used in the first phase is used every 35 secons and summons a large meteor from the sky to hit the ground beneath a random raid member. Anyone hit by it is prone to death by fiery squishing, so make sure to move out of the area. When it lands it will also spawn 4 trails of fire that arcs out and around the zone dealing moderate damage to people standing in them.

Heroic notes

The only change in phase one happens in twenty five man heroic mode. When the meteor strike hits the ground it will spawn a large fire elemental called Living Inferno and eight smaller elementals called Living Ember. The big one has a short range fire damage aura, so should be tanked away from the bulk of the raid. The small elementals will gain a stacking buff that makes them grow bigger and stronger whenever they stand near the Living Inferno.

When his health reaches 75% Halion will vanish into the Twilight Realm and start phase two. A portal will spawn on his location that you will have to enter through.

Phase Two – Twilight Realm

Soul Consumption

This ability works exactly like Fiery Combustion did in phase one, with two exceptions. Firstly the circles will slow anyone who stands in them for a few seconds every application. So even when you get out you will still be slowed for a few seconds after. The second difference is that instead of knocking away nearby players, it will pull them into the circle.

Twilight Cutter

The only other ability used in phase two is the Twilight Cutter. Around the edge of the fighting area in the twilight realm two orbs will slowly go around clockwise. Every thirty seconds they will lock a beam between them that oneshots anything it touches.

Heroic notes

The change in phase two applies to both the ten man and twenty five man heroic versions. Instead of there being two orbs circling the room there will now be four, effectively splitting the room into quardrants every time Twilight Cutter is cast.

Upon reaching 50% Halion will give a short speech and enter phase three, spawning two portals in the twilight realm (to the north west and south east) that lead back to the physical realm as well as two in the physical realm leading to the twilight (north east and south west).

Phase 3

The third and final phase consists of everything from the first two phases happening at the same time. Halion will be active in both the physical realm and the twilight realm. Having no players in either realm will cause him to regenerate 2% hp every two seconds. On top of that, Halion will now display a corporeality percentage. It starts at 50% for both realms and will change in increments of ten depending on how much damage is done in either realm. Every time it increases Halion will deal 30% more and take 20% more damage and when it decreases Halion will do 30% less and take 20% less damage, so keeping it between 40% and 60% is recommended. If the physical realm Halion takes more damage than the twilight realm version, the corporeality in the physical realm will go down and the corporeality in the twilight realm will go up and vice versa.

Heroic notes

Both heroic mode changes from phase one and two will still be in effect in phase three. In addition the circles created by Fiery Combustion and Soul Consumption will now overlap between realms, giving you a lot less space to move on.


Assuming the Twilight Cutter didn’t get you while you were reading, we move on to the actual strategy involved in killing this purple bastid. As stated earlier this will be focused purely on the 10-man heroic version. On with the show!

Basic notes for all phases

Halion should always be tanked smack in the middle of the room. This is critical for the twilight realm and amazingly useful for the physical realm. Stay in the same general area! For physical realm that means on the same side of the boss and for the twilight realm it means in the same quadrant.

Handling Combustion and Consumption

Always run them to the edge before dispelling, no matter what. A three stack circle at the edge is safer than a one stack or two stack circle in the middle. This is without a doubt the most important part of the fight to master as a misplaced circle will most likely wipe you instantly.

Abilities such as Blink, Disengage and Hand of Freedom (in twilight) will help you get out of the circle quicker while Sprint, Body and Soul and Rocket Boots will help you get to the edge faster. Use these as much as possible, especially when in the twilight realm.

Raid Setup

You’re going to be needing:-

  • Two Tanks (one for each realm)
  • Two to Three Healers
  • Five to Six DPS

I would presonally recommend going with three healers (one in the physical realm and two in the twilight.) It is doable with only two if you are feeling brave. Bringing a class that can crutch heal for the physical realm is also recommended for when the healer gets Combustion. The enrage timer should not be a problem either way, providing no one dies.

Phase 1

There is nothing really special to note here. Make sure you run the Combustions to the edge and dodge the meteors. After the latter crashes you will likely have to strafe a little bit around to avoid standing in fires, but just focus on getting him to 75% as soon as possible. Given the cooldown and lasting time of Combustion there will always be two circles up. This will matter in phase three.

Phase 2

As you enter the portal for the Twilight Realm the tank needs to pick up the boss asap and face it north. The raid then groups up to the left of the boss, a position they will keep for the rest of the fight.

Dealing with twilight cutters

The tank and the raid will be moving around in different quardrants to avoid Halion breathing doom unto the raid. It is advised to have a single DPS assigned to watching the orbs and giving the move command to everyone as the cutter doesn’t always start in the same spot. It is important that everyone moves when the order goes out though, as lingering behind will almost always spell certain death. The tricky part in this phase is when Consumption and Twilight Cutter overlap (and they will pretty much every time), as you have to move diagonally towards the edge in order to not get chopped in half after dropping your circle.

Heroism or Bloodlust (assuming you have one) is best used in this phase since it doesn’t work cross-realm in phase three.

Phase 3

Now the fun begins.

The raid splits in two as the physical realm group goes back up as soon as the coast is clear of cutters, to resume fighting with fire.

Since the last phase is just a repeat of the first two the only “new” thing you have to be aware of is the circle overlapping the realms. This means that there will at all times be four circles up in both realms and that it is possible to spawn them on top of unsuspecting raid members in the other realm. If the healers are on the ball it is survivable and it will probably happen a few times during progression, but there is one trick to minimizing risk.

The physical realm tank should rotate Halion so that the raid always stands in the area with the fewest amount of circles. As noted earlier the corporeality mechanic is also active in this phase and has to be balanced in order to prevent tank deaths. Simply stopping DPS in a realm if the corporeality hits 40% and waiting until it goes back to 50% is a safe and easy way of dealing with it as it will never really become an issue.

This phase feels like it takes forever, but just hang in there, play your best and the dragon will be giving up his precious lewts (and 10 achievement points) soon enough.

Zing’s Closing Thoughts

I’d like to give out a huge thanks to both Tokk (for producing the guide and providing the in game screenshots) and his guild (proof reading and ensuring the tactics were perfect) for taking their time to write this amazing strategy for me. Once again, I’d like to mention that they are recruiting. They boast amazing progress (11/12 in Icecrown Citadel heroic) and are a stable and long standing guild. I’d like to personally offer them the best of luck in finishing wrath content and with their future progression in Cataclysm.