Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Kam vs The Lich King

Although last Tuesday was my last attempt at the Lich King, the guild organized one last try on Monday night, so we could try to stick it to the sod Arthas just before Cataclysm was launched. So while most people were crowding around the portals in Orgrimmar, Kam and 9 other guildies were once again atop the frozen throne, being killed by defiles and bloody val'kyr.

Unfortunately the attempts were not going well, due to a mixture of dying and I think people being unfamiliar with the roles their alts were meant to play in the fight. At 10pm we swapped a fair number of alts out for mains and continued to wipe a bit. By 10:36 it was announced we would have 2 more attempts, but them people needed to get ready for Cataclysm, those who had the digital copy were headed into the new zones at 11pm.

Two more tries I think, then it will all be over. Over it was. We somehow managed to transition into phase 2.5 (endless winter number 2), popped Bloodlust to take down the spirits and despite losing a tank, some dps and 1 healer in phase 3, phase 3 went smoothly. Without those Val'kyr to complicate defile, it seemed very easy to deal with, there was no pressure to DPS hard and we chipped away at LK bit by bit. The people who went into Shadowmourne knew what to do, and before you know it The Lich King is at 10% and boom, I get to see the video I've sneakily peeked at in Dalaran.

As is traditional, Kam donned his title immediately and I took a few screenies for posterity. Kam vs LK, Kam 1 - LK about 60. We killed him at 22:49, with 11 minutes to go before Cataclysm made it all irrelevant.

So what next for Kam? For the Cataclysm expansion I plan on trying my hand at tanking, which unfortunately a Shaman is not best-equipped for. Therefore I have switched mains to my Druid and will be barely holding aggro in instances and raids (see what I did there).

I do have plans to re-purpose Kam to a fine Jewelcrafter and given the crazily short leveling times in Cata, may well take him out for some pwnage once again. But for now, a bit of mining and JC is all that is in his future.

So if you do want to read about Enhancement Shaman, I can recommend Shaman on Ramen and Windfury, and of course Wow Insider.

"But I really like reading your rambling posts Rakhman" you might say. "I really want to hear about your half-assed instance runs and casual raiding on some Druid and maybe some silly Death Knight stuff as well". Rather than pollute this Shaman class blog with such posts, I have two other blogs which will contain my further misadventures in the shattered azeroth; Way Of The Druid for erm Druid stuff, and Shadow and Blade for the DK.

I may also post achievements stuff here, as was its original dual purpose, as and when I find any interesting ones. Until then, farewell and Lok'tar ogar!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cataclysm PvE survivors guide

The Cataclysm expansion is upon us on December 7th, and I have been trying to figure out what will be going on when we are all rushing through the new content. I thought I would post it up here to help out any fellow confused players :)

New Zones
This map has all the details of where to go to level. Your starter zones are a choice between Vash'jir and Mount Hyjal. Then you have The Maelstrom and Deepholm, followed by Uldum and finally the Twilight Highlands. There should be feeder quests in the capital cities for all of these new zones.

Professions
Professions are all bumped up to level 525 at the maximum and will need training by a professions master to get access to the maximum level. Trainers in the capital cities should be able to oblige.

Archeology
Archeology is the new secondary profession is only available with the Cataclysm expansion, but anyone and everyone can do it, cos it's a secondary profession see. The trainer is Belloc Brightblade in Orgrimmar, or our old friend Harrison Jones in Stormwind. Check out Kaliope's Crafting Blog for more information.

Flying
We can fly in Cataclysm, but first you must hand over 250 gold to Maztha in Orgrimmar or Bralla Cloudwing in Stormwind for a Flight Master's License.

Discovering Dungeons
In order to queue for an instance using the Dungeon Finder, you must first discover the entrances to the instances. Luckily Pwnwear has a post with the location of all the instance entrances. Alternatively, Project CWAL has a post with the locations.

Enchants
The new enchanting materials in Cataclysm are Hypnotic Dust and Celestial Essence, disenchanted from uncommon weapons and armour. Heavenly Shard is disenchanted from rare items, and Maelstrom Crystals is from sharding epics. As usual there are a load of high level enchants you will be wanting for your gear, using all of the above.

Primals... Eternals... Volatiles
The new Eternals are Volatiles. Volatile Earth are mined from Cataclysm nodes and dead elementals, or they drop from some elementals as loots. Interestingly Blizzard seem to have done away with crystallized/motes and primals/eternals and we just have one sort of drop.
Volatile Earth can also be found inside a Strange Bloated Stomach which is skinned from various beasts. This can also contain Volatile Air, Fire and Water, thus giving skinners a chance at getting volatiles too.
Volatile Fire is also mined from Cata nodes, and drops from killing fire elemental mobs. It can also be fished up from lava in Twilight Highlands, see El's Extreme Anglin' for more information. Finally it can be inside a Bloated Stomach.
Volatile Life is gathered while herbalising plants and can be gathered from the corpses of some mobs. It does not appear inside Bloated Stomachs, thus tieing it entirely to herb gathering.
Volatile Air is also mined from Cataclysm nodes and dropped by air elementals, as well as being inside a Bloated Stomach. Engineers can make an Electrostatic Condenser which allows engineers to collect Air while mining, herbalising or skinning, but this means your engineer must have a gathering profession to use this, unlike the old mote extractor.
Volatile Water can be mined according to Wowhead, drops from water elementals and predictably can be fished in Deepholm and Twilight Highlands. It also drops in Bloated Stomachs.

Bags
The Embersilk Bag is a 22 slot bag, made with 15 Hypnotic Dust and 75 Embersilk Cloth. This is the basic bag I expect to snag 5 of as soon as I can.

Then for a bigger bag, there is the Illusionary Bag at 24 slots which is made with 8 Dreamcloth. Each Dreamcloth is transmuted by a Tailor using 40 Embercloth and 30 Volatile somethings, on a 1 week cooldown. Luckily a Tailor can do 5 transmutes a week, using 30 of Volatile Water, Earth, Life, Fire and Air, plus another transmute using 5 Chaos Orbs, the Frozen Orb equivalent. That is a total of 6 Dreamcloths a Tailor could make per week, still the cloths are likely to be expensive, so the Illusionary Bag is likely to be expensive.

Flasks
The usual set of flasks are back for Cataclysm, increasing Spirit, Stamina, Strength, Agility or Intellect by 300 for 1 hour. All of the flasks in Cataclysm seem to use 6 Volatile Life along with other herbs to make, so there is no Frost Lotus equivalent in Cataclysm. Given that Volatile Life is only gathered while herb gathering at the moment, I suspect Volatile Life will be valuable.

Fish Feasts
Seafood Magnifique Feast is the new fish feast, giving 90 stamina and 90 of a "useful stat" for 1 hour. This only needs 12 fish, there doesn't seem to be a Northern Spices equivalent this time round. There are also buff food recipes for 90 something for one hour you can take personally.

Bandages
We have Embersilk Bandage from First Aid level 425, then Heavy Embersilk Bandage at 475. Wowhead lists a spell for Dense Embersilk Bandage at First Aid 525, which handily uses the heavy bandages.

Gems
Much the same as in Wrath, there are gems and meta gems. Your meta gems are all cut from a Shadowspirit Diamond, but there is no other apparent meta gem, unlike in Wrath.
Inferno Ruby, Amberjewel and Ocean Sapphire are the red, yellow and blue gems, whereas your multi-coloured gems are Demonseye (purple), Dream Emerald (green) and Ember Topaz (orange).
The gems are prospected, and there are alchemy transmutes which turns 3 of the uncommon versions of the gem and 3 herbs into a single rare gem. Jewelcrafters can make a Fire Prism from a load of uncommon gems, which can contain some rare gems. Most are mined from nodes, but the Dream Emerald and Inferno Ruby are not listed on Wowhead as being mined from nodes, hopefully this is just an oversight.

Factions
What factions are available to grind for?Each faction vendor sells a variety of gear useful for gearing up for heroics or tier 11 raids. The Therazane are the new Sons of Ohdear, with a shoulder inscription. They are an improvement over Hodir, as you can champion them in Cataclysm heroics. Hurrah!

Heroics
There are Heroics of course at level 85. Blizzard have said they tuned them for characters wearing an average of item level 333 items, as shown on the character sheet. This means some crafted items or drops from normal instances will be needed before trying heroics. Only heroics award championing reputation this time, so wearing a faction tabard in a normal level 80 instance will not get any rep.

Crafted Epics and Rares
There are the usual crafted epics and rare items from the various professions. This Wowhead filter lists crafted items above or equal to item level 333, usable by Shamans. Oddly there are no epic weapons listed this time, perhaps they are yet to be added or this time around its epic armour only.

Conclusion
So the names may be changing, but most concepts are being carried over into Cataclysm.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

How to make an expansion reputation rewards post

Last time in Wrath of the Lich King, I made Wrath reputation rewards post. However this time I shall get all meta on you and instead write a Post About Writing Reputations Post!

To write a reputations rewards post for your chosen class now, perform the following steps:

  • Navigate to the beta version of your favourite WoW database site, such as Cata.wowhead.com.
  • Select the link to show Factions for the new expansion, in the case of Wowhead Database -> Factions -> Cataclysm.
  • For each faction presented:

    • Write a link to the faction overview page, along with some introductory text.
      Hellscream's Reach
      The Horde faction fighting for control of Tol Barad.

    • Determine if it is a faction-specific faction, ie Horde or Alliance only. If so, describe your favourite faction (For The Horde!) and begrudgingly provide a link to the opposite faction.
      See Baradin's Wardens for Alliance sympathisers. For The Horde!

    • Find a list of items available from the faction. In the case of Wowhead, the Items tab provides this.
    • For each item in the list of items available from said faction:

      • If relevant to your class and perhaps spec, write a link to the item description, the item name and optionally some text describing your impressions of said item. Try not to drool too much over the obviously inflated stats said item has, compared to your currently equipped items. It is an expansion after all.

        Ravening Slicer
        . 2.6 speed axe, with agility, haste and mastery. 400 weapon dps too, are you kidding me? It is not unique either, I'll be having two tyvm.

      • Be sure to mention the faction level required!
        Umm, its available at Revered.


    • [Optional] Provide a list of daily quests and describe if the faction has a tabard. Describe if there are normal quests which award faction reputation as you are levelling to max level.
      In other words, provide a good idea of how one might rep up with said faction, and how painful it might be (Damn you Sons of Hodir!).
      So the Tol Barad factions, according to Wowhead, fight for control over the zone like Wintergrasp. Whoever controls the zone gets access to 12 daily quests, but they rotate in some way so you can only do 3 at once. When a quest is complete you get a 350 reputation. They do not have a championing tabard. In technical terms, grinding this one will be a right sod.

    • [Optional] Give an impression of what the maximum reputation level you would want to get is.
      Probably exalted for the trinket but I'd settle for revered for the axes.

    • [Optional] If the faction has to be unlocked in any way (Knights of the Ebon Blade), provide information as to how the reader can unlock the faction, starting quests, etc.
      Your faction would need control of Tol Barad, which might involve fighting for it and thus some PvP. Given how bad Horde on Aszune is at Wintergrasp, this could be... troublesome. I would recommend doing the dailies whenever you spot your faction has control.



There you have it. So what are you waiting for? :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Cataclysm reputation rewards video

Check out TotalBiscuit's video which shows all the reputation items in Cataclysm. You can also see a factions list on Wowhead and check out their individual rewards from there.

The good news is there are entry level dungeon items, heroic dungeon level items and entry level raid items available from the vendors for various slots. The bad news is there is also a Sons of Hodir style faction with your shoulder inscriptions, but they have a tabard so they can be championed. I am quite confident you can gear up using a combination of rep items, craftables and maybe some dungeon drops to be able to start on heroics. Hopefully the end-level zone quests will also reward some heroic dungeon level items, I've not checked those out yet.

Tol Barad seems to be the place where PvE weaponry can be obtained, so the dailies for them suddenly look a whole lot more attractive than just for earning gold.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The 4.0.1 PTR post

I have finally logged onto the PTR to take a preview at the new stuff coming our way really soon now. First of all, that picture does not joke, mana is down from 18k to 6k. Hopefully these new mana saving talents will help a lot.

Shaman stuff


You've probably seen the new talent UI, anyway here it is. Much less things to put points into, I went for the build pictured by randomly putting points in things which sounded interesting and ignoring anything that sounded like PvP talents. I should probably have taken Improved Shields instead of going over to the Elemental tree, but hey this is the PTR and will all get wiped anyway.

Here is the new glyph UI. What is of interest, and something I didn't think through, is that we get 3 prime, 3 major and 3 minor glyphs, that being 9. At the moment I have 6 of course, which leaves a gap of 3 glyphs when I opened the UI. I ended up with 3 prime glyphs of Windfury, Feral Spirit and Stormstrike, but 3 open Major glyph slots.

Some of the current major glyphs don't turn into prime glyphs, so the Glyph of Lightning Shield looks very handy and is a major glyph, so if I had it, I could use it as well as WF, FS and SS. Similarly, the Glyph of Chain Lightning is also a major, so I can use that as well. I put Glyph of Chain Heal in a major slot because I just didn't gave enough glyphs to fill them with.

I've been on the AH on live and bought glyphs of LS and CL, because of course once 4.0.1 hits and everyone else on the server realizes they have 3 new empty glyph slots, the prices are going to get a bit high. Not to mention that the UI shows you all the glyphs you don't have and so completeness freaks will be buying as well.

A visit to the trainer will be in order, here we see the new Mail Specialization skill and how the spell book shows you spells you need to go learn. 5% extra primary stat? Yes please. Remember to go train it though, Blizzard are mean and won't give it to you for free, the trainer is also mean and will ask for more gold for it.

Elemental crowd control! You'll be needing it too, if TotalBiscuit's videos are anything to go by. I've even put Hex back onto my action bars. Must buy glyph of Hex...

Not-so-Shaman stuff


Because Kam did the crazy Long, Strange Trip achievement, he gets Master Riding which I assume gives 310% speed on all mounts. I hope this is free and not just some cunning Blizzard advert to get me to part with 5k gold. I really like this spell because I can finally fly my favourite mount the Red Drake but at crazy fast speeds. All you engineers can get back into your ROFLCopters too.

Now here is the big question for the alts, do I try to do Children's Week (school of hard knocks specifically) or just pony up the 5k gold for the Master Riding and forget about it? There are better looking mounts out there than the Violet Proto-drake for my money, and being forced to do Player Vs Developer (PvD) by behaving stupidly in some battlegrounds really annoys me. Or maybe its PvPvP where the first Player is you, the second player is the Alliance/Horde and the third players are your teammates, because what that achievement gets you to do certainly isn't helping anyone in the battleground who wants to actually do PvP. Sigh.

I'd like to save 5k really I would, but I can see myself standing in front of the flying trainer, finger hovering over the Buy button, casting my mind back to when I did School of Hard Knocks... CLICK! I'd have bought it already if the Master Flying skill was on live. What price do you put on your sanity?

Erm, anyway here is the new professions UI which is all shiny looking yet taunting me with the Archeology I can't pick up until Cataclysm launches.

Another cool feature is that the new Pets and Mounts UI lists the actual name of the items, and sorts them alphabetically, so instead of rummaging around looking for the icon for your Red Drake, you can like, just go to the Rs and click the icon next to "Red Drake".

This is not so much a new feature, more of a fix to something which was horribly un-useable before.

This works really well on my pet book which is choc-full of 80-odd pets and I can never find the one I want. Oh, they also moved the Pet and Mount tabs to the spellbook for some reason.

Gathering and multiple tracking


One of the most exciting changes is that now, instead of picking one thing to track like Herbs OR Minerals, each trackable item has a check box and you can track more than one thing at once. I have a really great screenshot of Kam tracking Herbs and Mineral nodes and seeing both a Herb and a Mineral node on his minimap at the same time. Unfortunately I left it on my other PC. Fail.

Really, just totally random stuff



This "emphasise my spell effects" setting intrigues me. I haven't got to try it out yet but it sounds good.

Whereas blocking all those guild invites people insist on sending my AH alt is awesome. Just awesome. One to click as soon as 4.0.1 goes live methinks.

Here is a shot of the new raid UI config panel. Having used the new raid UI it looks ok, just about as good as the CT Raid Assist frames but no where as good as something like Shadowed Unit Frames that I use, or any of the other major unit frames.

Where's the pwnage?


So I queued in the Random Dungeon Finder to try out all these crazy new talents and spells. After a 5 minute wait I got the cold, clammy sweats as the Halls of Reflection loading screen came up. When I said random I didn't really mean really random, just like something easy to run with the other people who are queuing. Not bloody HoR! In any case, the tank couldn't get in due to some bug and the group fell apart.

I hope to be back on the PTR soon, queueing in the RDF for something a bit easier to try out the new spells and talents. Something like Utgarde Keep maybe. Or Violet Hold, that will do nicely.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ouch! 600 Triumph for some blue gloves?

MMO Champion have the Justice and Valor points cost of some new items, and although we can indeed farm Triumph now to get a nice Justice point stockpile come 4.0.1, the cost of the dungeon blues you will be able to buy for Justice come Cataclysm is sobering.

From the MMOC screen shot, item level 346 gloves seem to cost 1650 Justice and the chest items cost 2200. Given the 2.75 exchange rate for Triumph and Frost, that is 600 Triumph/Frost for gloves, or 800 for a chest.

Your 4000 capped Justice points will then get you one chest piece and some gloves, maybe some other item instead of the gloves. Or if you converted the 1454 Triumph to Conquest before patch 4.0.1, 8000 gold.

I'll be taking the gold in any case. This does raise the question of how much Justice is awarded for a heroic boss kill. If the current 50 Triumph for something like Nobundo's Chestguard of Triumph is a reasonable number, then if bosses dropped 2200/50 = 44 Justice points we would have a similar grind in Cataclysm heroics as we do now. Apart from them being much harder.

Update: Consider This has posted you get 75 Justice per heroic boss at the moment, so that's an improvement over the current rates.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How to get into the WoW Beta

Having failed to get myself into the Cataclysm beta, despite some half-hearted attempts, I thought it would be fun to make a list of how you might want to go about it for the next beta. None of these are warrantied and indeed may fail.

Go to Blizzcon or the Worldwide Invitational
For the last 2 Blizzcons and in the last Paris WWI, attendees have been given a beta code card which gets them into a Blizzard beta of their choice. Some of my friends attended the Paris WWI and one used their code for the Wrath beta. The other friend kept their code and could have used it to get into Cataclysm or Starcraft 2.

Will this trend continue? There is no reason to suspect Blizzard will stop handing out these code cards, so attending Blizzcon/WWI seems like a safe bet to get some beta action.

Be on a fansite
Now we have all seen how WoW Insider becomes flooded with beta news the second the Alpha ends, many of the staffers seem to get beta invites. Now quite how they get these remains to be seen, certainly Blizzard will hand them out to "press" to ensure they generate a fair amount of hype, although personal contacts from Blizzcon and the like may also play a part here.

I know of some WoW Insider writers who do not have Beta access, so this tactic may not always work. Still, I would hope those on an "official" WoW fansite (the ones in the Blizzard program) would get Beta access.

Write a blog / EJ posts / Blizzard forum posts
So if Blizzard are selecting people to participate, they will in theory want some well informed players. Several of those in the WoW community who are renounded for being knowledgeable are in the Beta, it only stands to reason Blizz will want the likes of Rouncer and BigRedKitty to feedback on how their classes are playing. These people are well known because they might post on EJ and be an authority, or the official forums, or run well known blogs.

For us less well known people who might not have particular expertise but just post things, I am not so sure. It isn't like the vast number of blogs I read have suddenly all got into the beta, I suspect most invites are a result of the random selection process Blizzard do.

So if you are well known in the community I reckon you increase your chances. If not, they are probably the same as anyone else who checks the Cataclysm opt-in.

Know someone in Blizzard
Now the way to get into the Friends and Family Alpha, apart from being BigRedKitty, is to actually be a friend or family member of someone at Blizzard. From the GMs to Ghostcrawler, knowing any of these people will likely get you access to the F&F Alpha, because Blizzard staff can add their friends and family to a list of battle net accounts to be admitted into the Alpha.

From what I know of it, anyone in the Alpha gets access to the Beta. So get chummy with those Blizzard employees at Blizzcon!

Apply via battle net
The second least likely way to get in (apart from not applying of course), you can just check the opt-in on battle net. No further discussion needed really.

Write a (non-trivial) mod and post it on Wowinterface.com
Finally the route I might try for the next beta. If you have a WoW mod hosted on Wowinterface.com, and it is non-trivial in such that it is not "hello world" or something like that, you can now apply to get beta access for the purposes of testing and recoding your mod to work. You can also upload the mod to a special Cataclysm section where other beta people can try it.

Wowinterface also did this offer for the Wrath beta, although you didn't get in right at the start of the beta, and Blizz didn't enable 3rd party mods until fairly late in the Cataclysm beta. Still this is pretty much a guaranteed way to get in for some beta action.

My own guide for Tourguide was not sufficiently "complex" enough to qualify me for entry to the beta, so I think you need to code a stand alone mod for something or another, most likely not a mod which relies on another one to do its work and not a plug-in for another mod. Still there is plenty of time until the next expansion, and I have a few ideas about mods I could write to make my WoW life a little easier.

But I didn't get in!
So you didn't get into the Cataclysm beta, despite coding 4 mods, being a writer for WoW.com and knowing Greg Street's cat personally. Well, that's ok. While others have been playing around in the beta, I've taken the time to level and gear some alts, continue to raid and instance and try my hand at some gold making using my professions. I am now in a good position to start the expansion, a far better position than if I had been using all my play time in the Cataclysm beta. I suggest anyone who didn't get in also takes the opportunity to get their Wrath house in order before the world is sundered. As it were.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Badgers to Gold and Justice conversion

So it seems our old currency is for the chop when 4.0.1 goes live, no longer will I be able to look at my Badge of Justice count to fondly recollect those glory days of Karazhan. Details are:
The following items are immediately converted to gold:

* Emblem of Heroism = 5.5 gold each
* Emblem of Valor = 5.5 gold each
* Emblem of Conquest = 5.5 gold each
* Badge of Justice = 1.833 gold each

Your New Honor Points total will be the sum of the following amounts:

* Old Honor * 0.024
* Old Arena Points * 0.85
* Battleground Mark of Honor * 2.976
* Wintergrasp Mark of Honor * 19.08
* Stone Keeper Shard * 1.6
* Venture Coin * 3
* Spirit Shard * 1

Your Justice Points total will be equal to (Emblems of Triumph + Emblems of Frost ) * 2.75

Again, the softcap for both Honor and Justice conversions is 4000 points. This means that if a character converts to above 4,000 points, it will not be possible for them to earn more until they fall below the 4,000 cap.

A hardcap will be implemented in a following patch before Cataclysm's release. At that time, any excess points above 4,000 will be converted as follows:

* Honor points above 4,000 are converted to gold at a rate of 35 silver per point of Honor.
* Justice points above 4,000 are converted to gold at a rate of 2 gold per point of Justice


Some interesting facts about these numbers:

The cap of 4000 Justice points is 1454 Emblems of Triumph + Frost, which is quite high and I am not likely to be falling foul of said cap. Now you could convert any excess into Valor and get 5.5 gold per Valoe, however you can also buy various BoE bracers for Valor and if you can flog them for 1k, make 16 gold per Valor.

What is interesting is people are currently buying Cardinal Rubies and the like for 20 and 10 Emblems of Heroism and selling them on the AH. Given the emblems are now worth 5.5 gold each, that means a Cardinal Ruby or King's Amber has to sell for a minimum of 110 gold before you are making a profit (over just waiting for 4.0.1), and Ametrine, Dreadstone and Eye of Zul need to sell for 55 gold. I am not sure Cardinal Rubies do sell for 110 gold on Aszune, so it may be worth just converting Triumph and holding onto the Conquest.

What Blizzard haven't said is what is available when Cataclysm launches for Justice points. These are the lower tier points and it may be that there are no level 85 epics available for them, so they only become useful when the second level of Cataclysm raiding is launched. In the original announcement it did not say you lose your lower tier points, so keeping Justice points could be a good way of preparing for the second tier of Cataclysm raiding now. Having said that, the first tier of raids were easy enough in Wrath that we were all geared out by the time the second tier appeared, so it is tempting to cash in come 4.0.1.

The old PvP honor cap of 75k works out to be 1800 Honor points, given the new cap is 4000, Blizzard are effectively increasing the honor cap by more than twice.

One WG mark of honor will get you 19.08 Honor points. At the moment on live 9 marks will get you a Commendation which then gets 2000 PvP honor, 222 honor per mark. In the new system 222 PvP honor is only 5.6 Honor points, so best hold on to those WG marks.

One Stone Keeper Shard is worth 1.6 honor points. Again 30 will buy a WG commendation and 2000 PvP honor, 66 honor per shard, which in the new currency is suspiciously 1.6 Honor points.

Finally once the hard cap is added, Justice points above the cap will get you 2 gold per point, which works out at 5.5 gold per Triumph or Frost, the same rate you will get in 4.0.1 for lower Emblems. So there is no harm in waiting if you somehow have over 1454 Emblems of Triumph, but if you have less and want some quick (but not very much gold), trade those useless Triumph down to Conquest and wait.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Glyphage

WoW.com have a full list of the "final" glyphs for Shamans in this Cataclysm beta I keep on hearing about. Seems we will have 3 per type, and they can be swapped but with a cool down which may be one hour, not sure if that is per type of glyph, for all glyphs, or just for that particular glyph. I would hope it's for that particular glyph.

Here is the list for Shamans:

Prime

  • Earth Shield - Increases amount healed by 20%
  • Earthliving Weapon - Increases periodic heal effect by 20%
  • Feral Spirit - Gains an additional 30% of attack power
  • Fire Elemental - Reduces cooldown by 5m
  • Flame Shock - Increases duration by 50%
  • Flametongue Weapon - Increases spell crit chance by 2%
  • Lava Burst - 10% more damage
  • Lava Lash - 20% more damage
  • Lightning Bolt - 4% more damage
  • Riptide - Increases duration by 40%
  • Stormstrike - Increases bonus Nature damage by 8%
  • Water Shield - Increases passive mana regen by 50%
  • Windfury Weapon - Increases proc chance per swing by 2%

Some of these seem like solid choices and others will depend on the relative damage of certain spells, like moar Lava Lash, or moar Lightning Bolt? Glyph of WF, SS look like good bets for Enhancement and then its between Feral Spirit, LL and LB. Maybe even LvB if Maelstrom Weapon is affecting LvB.

Are these Prime glyphs necessary? Maybe on some fights you would want 5 mins less on Fire Elemental and maybe on others you would want more Wolves damage, I'm not sure I will bother swapping them around especially given the frequency we attempt one boss then fall back to another, entirely different boss when we fail, and thus require new "optimal" glyphs.

Major

  • Chain Heal - Increases healing on secondary targets by 15%, reduces healing on main target by 10%
  • Chain Lightning - Strikes 2 additional targets, deals 10% less initial damage
  • Elemental Mastery - While active, take 20% less damage
  • Fire Nova - Increases radius by 5 yards
  • Frost Shock - Increases duration by 2s
  • Ghost Wolf - Additional 10% movement speed
  • Grounding Totem - Reflects instead of absorbs spells, but cooldown increased by 45s
  • Healing Stream Totem - Increases Fire, Frost, Nature resistance
  • Healing Wave - When healing someone else, you also receive 20% of the healing done
  • Hex - Reduces cooldown by 15s
  • Lightning Shield - Can no longer lose charges to attackers when at 3 or less
  • Shamanistic Rage - Activating cleanses you of all Magic debuffs
  • Shocking - GCD of Shock spells reduced to 1s
  • Stoneclaw Totem - Grants an absorb shield equal to 4x the totem shield
  • Thunder - Reduces Thunderstorm cooldown by 10s
  • Totemic Recall - Refunds an additional 50% of the mana cost of recalled totems (Totemic Recall baseline refunds 25% of the cost)

Major Fire Nova looks worthwhile, especially given how bad I am at positioning Magma Totem, I mean at predicting that the tank will move the bloody mob away from my carefully positioned Magma Totem.
Lightning Shield I will be getting, no more wasting GCDs recasting the shield during combat.
Then erm... glyph of Hex I guess will be useful so we can actually crowd control humanoids in instances and frog them if they break early. Don't forget Shamans get a sort of Banish spell called Bind Elemental in Cataclysm and they don't appear to be exclusive, so we may be quite busy CCing stuff.
Totemic Recall might be handy for general mana conservation, I am careful to always recall my totems.

Minor

  • Arctic Wolf - Your Ghost Wolf form looks like an arctic wolf
  • Black Wolf - Your Ghost Wolf form looks like a black wolf
  • Astral Recall - Reduces cooldown by 7.5m
  • Renewed Life - Reincarnation no longer needs a reagent
  • Thunderstorm - Additional 2% mana gained, no knockback
  • Water Breathing - No longer requires a reagent
  • Water Walking - No longer requires a reagent

I can't believe this is the final minor list, where is the glyph of Ghost Wolf form restores health? Anyway a new wolf colour sounds interesting although the image on MMO Champion are underwhelming. Also these glyphs are the same as the Wrath ones, with the exception of the wolf colour ones.

All in all, the list looks ok but hardly exciting. I wonder where these Prime glyphs are going to come from, and whether our existing major ones will convert auto-magically.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Cataclysm Collector's Edition


It's finally available for pre-order in the UK, from among others play.com and Game, but not Amazon. The cheapest I have found it is £54.99 at Game (or gameplay.co.uk to mention another).

Now given the basic Cataclysm is currently cheapest from Amazon at £17.91, why would anyone pay an extra £37.08 for the Collector's Edition?

You get a behind-the-scenes DVD which sounds fairly interesting, with let's hope a Ghostcrawler interview and an answer to why they didn't damn well make instant ghost wolf baseline.

A game soundtrack CD? I don't have the music turned on anyway, so meh. An awesome art book? If I had a coffee table I could make good use of it, but sadly cups of hot liquid must be kept away from the floor due to house creatures.

Some sweet TCG cards and rule book? There is a slim chance of some phat epic loot which can be used to pose in Dalaran (or ebayed), but the actual cards are likely to stay mint-in-sealed-bag.

Cataclysm mouse pad? This looks pretty cool and might give an ageing mouse mat the heave-ho.



Lil' Deathwing in-game pet... now we are talking. This guy looks pretty cute and although I have a lot of pets already, I'll be happy to take him along for the ride. Especially if I can have him out when we kill Deathwing himself. We are going to kill Deathwing, right?

Chance of game code mess-up, resulting in a free Murloc in-game pet? I never got The Burning Crusade CE, so when Blizzard screwed up the in-game pet and offered a free Lurky as a reward, I didn't get one. And I want one. So apart from attending a virtual Blizzcon just for the pet, which is inconveniently on a Friday evening and the weekend when I do family things (also all on YouTube for free), this is my best bet. That, or praying for a Murloc in the Diablo 3 CE.

Ultimately I play WoW a silly amount, so I figure I'll get the big shiny box. I'm still not totally convinced tho, especially given the massive premium it carries over the regular Cataclysm.

So to CE or not to CE, that is the question I pose for you reading this. Yes, you<-- :)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Heroic Achievements

Given the summer raiding lull (although tonight there is a Lich King attempt), Kam has been smashing up various heroics for some easy to get achievements.

Zombiefest was the most fun, being that a single Fire Nova pulse from a Magma totem can kill any zombie easily.

During said instances I noticed my DPS was not really hitting the heights of ICC, especially with a 25% buff. Instead of almost getting 10k I was only managing 4k. Now some of this might be due to the mobs not living more than 2 seconds, some of it is definitely the lack of raid buffs and flasks. A lot will be no 25% buff, which I guess would put my DPS down to 7.5k if we had no ICC buff. What is interesting to me is that the Rogue in the party was managing 6k on the same fights, and he had very similar levels of gear. Sigh.

Only a few achievements to go and another mount is mine. No prizes for guessing which unloved instance these achievements are in.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Guild rewards

So some details of Cataclysm guild rewards have come to light. As I am in a guild and am not a hugely active member, I read the announcements with great interest.

Dark Phoenix mount
(video courtesy of MMO Champion).

This thing is pretty awesome, being the same model as the SWP Phoenix you see certain people posing around Dalaran on. Blizzard have said that you will need some guild achievement to unlock it, maybe something really hard so I am thinking clearing a hard mode raid rather than the collect all legendaries they gave as an example. That or pay some money in the Blizzard store for like a sparkle Phoenix. Then you need personal guild reputation which is likely to be exalted or revered, even though my guild already revere me tyvm. Finally the mount will cost some gold and it will probably be quite steep, the mammoth cost 20k so I can see this easily costing 20k as well (no vendors and not 3 people but accounting for gold inflation in Cataclysm).

So maybe this will be a hard mount to get. However the first requirement of some guild achievement can be done by your hardcore guildies while you are sleeping, or outside, or something like that. Providing it is within the capabilities of your guild, all you need do is wait a while and the guild achievement will get done without your involvement. I say within the capability of the guild, because something like Champion of the Frozen Wastes got done in EB within a month or so of Wrath launching, whereas we only managed The Undying once rocking full item level 232 gear, Kingslayer is only owned by 10 of the guild, and the only heroic LK boss we've done is Gunship.

Beyond that, its personal guild reputation and gold that is needed. Gold can be gotten now before Cataclysm, we don't know quite how much guild reputation can be gotten, however:
Any quest that rewards experience to you will also reward guild experience. The amount of guild reputation earned is based on the amount of guild experience rewarded. Note that daily quests will also reward guild experience.

All guild reputation is gained as a factor of guild experience. source
Given I'll be doing quests and maybe dailies at 85, it depends on what reputation level I get at 85 from purely doing quests, as to how much of a grind guild rep leveling will be. Maybe a lot, maybe not a lot.

Pity the instance tabard system won't work for guild reputation, not that they have said it won't, but they also didn't say it would.

Guild Heirlooms
The heirlooms on the guild vendor are just like other heirlooms in the game except that these must be unlocked via a guild achievement and you must have the required guild faction to purchase them. After that, you can use them just like normal heirloom items. source
Now this is quite interesting. Given that currently we think the heirlooms will be a helm and cloak, giving a total of +15% experience (see mmo champion for details), it might be awfully tempting to immediately buy them for my main as soon as I have the required guild reputation during leveling to 85, providing an XP boost. If the guild achievement isn't too serious (like Frozen Wastes) and is done by the guild while I am still grinding out levels, all I would need is the right rep which I should have some of because I'll be doing quests to level. Of course these could turn out to need a heroic kill of the first raid and exalted, so it's a matter of how the heirlooms are tuned. I am hoping I can use them to catch up a little while the rest of the guild is off raiding and running heroics.

Guild leveling
Guild experience can be earned in any of four ways:

1. Completing quests / daily quests that reward experience
2. Killing any dungeon / raid boss with a guild group/raid
3. Winning a rated battleground with a guild group/raid
4. Earning a guild achievement (these are nice, fat chunks of experience so they feel great when you get em)

A guild group/raid is 4/5, 8/10, 12/15 or 20/25 members of the group/raid being guild members.source
Now this pretty much describes the activities the guild will be getting up to in Cataclysm - leveling and grinding dungeons and raids for loots. As such by the time most mains are at 85 we should have a decent amount of guild XP. Once again it depends on Blizzard's balancing as to how much more we need to unlock heirlooms and stuff like the mount and the neat raid and personal buffs.

In conclusion this stuff is pretty promising, but could either be awesome or utterly messed up, depending on how "hard" Blizzard are going to make it to get guild XP and unlock rewards.

Monday, 2 August 2010

2010 European WWI?

No, not men in costumes (well ok that too), but news that there will be a 2010 European Worldwide Invitational. Ok so apparently this was announced on June 11th, I must have missed it :S

The last WWI was in 2008 and was pretty cool by all accounts, being a sort of mini-Blizzcon for us unfortunates who live too far away to attend the real thing (or can't justify/afford the plane tickets to go). Attendees even got the same sort of sweet loot from Blizzcon - a mini pet, beta code, etc.

Thanks to Sephrenia who pointed out its August 7th and 8th in Cologne, Germany. I think the law of sod has won here as it's not in the UK. Still... Paris, Cologne, only 41 other countries left to go then it will be our turn.

So they do know

Interesting post:
Enhance does fine on stationary fights like Saurfang and Festergut, but drops behind on heavy movement fights, and unfortunately the fight that counts the most has a lot of movement.

But that's not a totem problem. That's because so much of Enhancement's dps is tied up in getting procs on quick attacks. If a warrior has to move, it may not hurt them as much because their abilities are on longer cooldowns anyway and they can even store up on the rage. For energy classes it's even better because they can just unload when they do get back in range. But Enhancement just lost out on those procs, and they aren't coming back.

We're okay with some specs doing better on some fights than others, but we think Enhancement suffers a little too much when they have to move (and they aren't the only ones - Balance druids and even Elementals are in a similar bucket). We're trying to address this in Cataclysm without removing what it is that players like about Enhance.

Yes yes, movement fights can be a bit of a sod and lead to some serious DPS losses. Saurfang is an awesome fight, Blood Prince Council not so. Hopefully this means the Ancestral Swiftness talent will remain and maybe some of the buffs will see a tweak.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lich King not HC down

Despite most things just trucking along here, and news of Cataclysm coming thick and fast, some things of note do still happen back in plain old Wrath. One of those is the most recent kill of the Lich King by my guild on 10 man normal mode.

Although a lot of people are on heroic modes and finding difficulty with LK Heroic, our guild has struggled a whole lot on the normal mode of the fight. The requirement for no one to make a mistake has caused a load of trouble with a raid makeup which is usually made from whoever signs up on the night, and has to do Sindragosa first. We started to keep a single lock with just LK up and get a load of guildies who just wanted him dead, to keep bashing away on various nights. After a couple of months of this for 1-2 evenings of 3 hours a time, we finally managed it. Now the heroic modes are unlocked for easy Lootship loot and some harder ones, to keep interest for the mains who are all geared out from ICC 10. The step up in difficulty from the rest of ICC 10 is quite pronounced, and may not bode well if all fights in Cataclysm are this hard.

So not a world-shattering achievement by any means, but for our little guild who started raiding in Karazhan and spanked the Prince good but didn't make much progress into ZA, its game over for this expansion's bosses and grats all round. Pity I wasn't there, but hopefully I can get into another LK attempt some time.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Cataclysm: Levelling Enhancement as actually Enhancement

So a few days ago this crazy blue post outlined the changes to the talent system in the expansion. The relevant bits are:
If you choose Enhancement, we want you to feel like an Enhancement shaman right away, not thirty talent points later. When talent trees are unlocked at level 10, you will be asked to choose your specialization (e.g. whether you want to be an Arms, Fury or Protection warrior) before spending that first point. Making this choice comes with certain benefits, including whatever passive bonuses you need to be effective in that role, and a signature ability that used to be buried deeper in the talent trees. ... The passive bonuses range from nergle... to more interesting passives such as blah... or the ability to dual-wield itself for Enhancement shaman.

Apparently Wow.com found reference somewhere that Enhancement Shamans would be getting Lava Lash too, although they didn't link to the source.

This is actually quite exciting for a levelling Shaman. With Primal Strike obtained at level 3, you get to attack things with a 1 handed or 2 handed weapon and do some decent damage, instead of slinging lightning bolts at things in melee range. Then at level 10 when you wisely choose the Enhancement tree, you get dual-wield and lava lash and have the following to play with:
  • Primal Strike
  • Earth Shock
  • Flame Shock
  • Lava Lash
  • Lightning Shield

Unfortunately Windfury Weapon imbue doesn't show up until level 30, but Flametongue weapon does appear at level 10 so slap that on both weapons, follow a simplified Enhancement priority and Robert is your mother's brother.

Hopefully the talent tree shakeup will make more tasty stuff available sooner, and they will make WF weapon available early. This might even make me reconsider leveling an alt come Cataclysm. Goblin Shaman anyone?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Enhancement loot for Halion: Ruby Sanctum

Patch 3.3.5 drops in the EU today, introducing a new possibly-puggable raid, the Ruby Sanctum (as well as some privacy-intruding features). Given all the loot is listed on Wowhead I thought I'd take a look at what is available for the Enhancement Shaman.

Normal 10 man (LFM 2 tanks 3 healers)
Baltharus' Gift
Kam is currently using Precious's Putrid Collar from ICC 10, so this neck is a good upgrade. The only tricky aspect is the loss of 55 hit rating, probably requiring regemming all my expertise gems into hit ones. However I guess I would want this at this late stage of the game anyway, expense be damned.

Twilight Scale Shoulders
These initially look good, until I noticed the dreaded Armor Penetration on them. 50% magical damage does not make for good use of armor penetration. Quite apart from anything else, these are in the prime shoulder slot which is taken by one of my 4 piece Tier 10 items, so replacing the shoulders would cost me more Frost to buy the chest to keep my 4 piece T10 bonus. No thanks. Then there is the issue that these are actually worse than the Tier 10 shoulders according to my loot scale, likely the armor penetration is dragging their rating down.

Normal 25 man (LFM all no more DKs)
Returning Footfalls
Kam is currently sporting Taldron's Long Neglected Boots for which these are a direct upgrade. If feeling flush, one may be using Rock-Steady Treads and again these are an upgrade. Even if I were to be using the best boots in ICC10 the Footfalls are still a good upgrade. However a 25 man raider with Treads of the Wasteland need not worry - the Footfalls seem to be a minor upgrade. Myself, I shall be trying to PUG RS25.

Signet of Twilight
This is a nice ring and is only bettered by Seal of Many Mouths from Rotface 25, although if the expertise on the Seal is going to waste maybe not. The exalted and revered Ashen Verdict rings are better, but they only fill 1 ring slot. So there seems to be something for everyone here, 10 and 25 man raiders alike.

Ruby Sanctum
We already have news that Premonition have killed up the place on Heroic for a World first kill, although given the servers are not yet up in the EU I will say that currently "World" equals "US". No news yet of how hard the place is, I assume the Premonition guys are seriously well geared and good raiders, so it will be interesting to see how hard the encounter is for us normal folks.

If the raid is puggable (by which I mean easy) then I will have a good crack at the 25 man loot as well as the 10 man stuff. If it can only be done in guild, I will be restricted to the 10 man loot. Hopefully there will be a lot of PUGs going to Ruby Sanctum this week without the usual "link achievement" stuff, until next week. So now is the time to strike, while the iron is hot, and the achievements are not in demand! I'd quite like to see the place with Kam and maybe score some of that tasty loot. Check out the WoWWiki Halion page for more information about the fight.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Totem Recall: A Shaman Round Table Event

Your regularly scheduled programming is interrupted to bring you this special announcement:
On July 13th the Raid Warning crew will be joined by some of the biggest names behind the Elemental, Enhancement, and Restoration specs. They will be answering your questions, comments, phonecalls, and emails while kicking back and having a few laughs.

Guests are:
Joe “Lodur” Perez of WoW.com and World of Matticus
Rich “Stoneybaby” Maloy of WoW.com and Big Crits
Borsk of Borsked
Jhaman of Castaclysm
Pewter of MentalShaman
Binkenstein of Elitist Jerks
Masanbol – Elitist Jerks


I will definitely be grabbing this off iTunes when it appears.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the full info at their site and even post a question which might get answered on the show!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Midsummer!

The Midsummer Fire Festival is here and Wowhead have a nice guide up. It looks mostly the same as last year and as I did it all on Kam for the meta-meta achievement, I shall not be bothering this year.

But wait, what is this? Lord Ahune has been updated with some new item level 232 loot. The The Frost Lord's War Cloak has some very nice stats (ie no armor pen) and is an upgrade over Shawl of the Shattered Giant from Ulduar 10 or Accursed Crawling Cape from Forge Of Souls normal.

It is no ICC 10 cloak nor will it match a Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape for 50 frost. However, if you are not raiding, or are doing 10 mans and haven't got lucky on Marrowgar, or have better things to spend Frost on (like 4 piece Tier 10 say), or just running a physical DPS melee alt, The Frost Lord's War Cloak is definitely worth checking out. I certainly will be doing for my scabby alt.

Secondly, when queueing for the Lord Ahune encounter using the Dungeon Finder, you will now also get 2 Emblems of Frost for the first kill of the day, on top of the 2 you can get by running the Daily Dungeon (to be confirmed). Thus it seems we can all get 4 frost per day for a few weeks while the festival is on, or at least get the usual 2 by killing Ahune rather than running yet another boring Heroic.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Cataclysm Shaman talent preview

Now that Blizzard have released some preview talents to various websites, I can discuss them again, as if some other leak of talents never happened.

Most of the Enhancement talents are the usual stuff, I did notice Improved Windfury Totem is gone (cry) and now the entry level talents are Focused Strikes, SS damage by 40%, and Ancestral Knowledge now increases mana by 15% at 5/5. Maelstrom Weapon still does not affect Lava Burst in this tree either, which I was looking forward to. Hopefully later.

Ancestral Swiftness is interesting, increasing movement speed by 15% at 3/3. Given than I use Tuskarr's on my boots for the 8% speed improvement, and a previous commenter has pointed out how poor we are in movement fights, this talent might be somewhat compulsory.

The really interesting stuff is further down the tree.
Tier 5 - Searing Flames (5 ranks available) - Causes the Searing Bolts from your Searing Totem to have a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to set their targets aflame, dealing damage equal to the Searing Bolt's impact damage over 15 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.

Searing flames seems to be an attempt to make Searing Totem some use again. This adds extra damage to targets hit with Searing Totem and the 5 stack is not too shabby. According to Wowhead ST casts every 2.6 seconds, so that is 10.4 seconds from the first to last cast to get a 5 stack. Then it is down to the mechanics how long the 5 stacks lasts, usually when you stack a debuff it refreshes a stack and starts the countdown to the stack expiring again, so this may result in a permanent 5 stack if you can keep ST firing once every 15 seconds. I assume the design here is to make Searing Totem better than Magma for a single target for Enhancement Shamans.

However Searing Flame also plays with another new talent and may add an extra dimension to "playing smart" and give us more to react to:

Tier 10 - Improved Lava Lash (3 ranks available; Requires 1 point in Lava Lash) - Increases the damage of your Lava Lash ability by 10/20/30%, and by an additional 7/14/20% for each of your applications of Searing Flames on the target, consuming those applications in the process.

Improved Lava Lash will increase LL damage by 20% for each Searing Flame debuff on the target. So with 5 stacks thats an increase in LL damage of 130%, but this consumes the Searing Flame debuff. I can only assume the design is that it will be advantageous to wait until Searing Flame is up to 5 stacks on the target, then Lava Lash for the extra damage, removing the debuff and then wait until Searing Totem has got 5 stacks back up again.

If the Searing Flame stack is refreshed with each hit from Searing Totem then we could LL at any time after 5 stacks is reached. If the stack only lasts 15 secs from the first application, then we get a window from 10.4 secs to 15 secs from the first blast to get a LL in, which would certainly make prioritizing LL interesting.

Will LL be worthwhile without a Searing Flame debuff and a mere extra 30% damage? Whether to use the Searing Flame stack or not will also depend on the relative damage of Lava Lash with 130% more damage compared to stuff like Storm Strike, and then we might find using the stack at 4 is good too, which would make things even more fun. Still this is looking like an interesting new mechanic for sure.

I guess I have decided to cover Beta information, when it starts to hit. Usually there is a slow period after Beta starts where the only news about WoW is beta information and anyone who wants to avoid that is reduced to pretty much no WoW news at all. Combined with the summer wind down of raiding activities, there will be not much to talk about here otherwise.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

How not to write a fishing email

Recently my inbox has been full to the bursting with phishing scam emails, some of which I read for amusement. Sadly they are all not very good and don't really convince me that I have got into the Friends and Family Alpha, or my account is under investigation.

Clearly the people writing these are in fact utter morons, so here are some handy tips they can use to improve their efforts. They also could serve as reverse-tips you can use to detect such fishing scams.

Do not send to the wrong email address
I have several email addresses, only one of which is associated with my WoW account, that also being the Battle Net login. Please actually send your fishes to the email address Blizzard use to communicate with me, any email to any other addresses are clearly fake. If you get emails from Blizzard in an account they know nothing about, they are fake.

Use proper English
Blizzard is a large corporation who employs many hundreds of people. So when they send out any official communication, it is most likely to be written using a template which has been proof read by many people, checked for spelling and grammar errors. It really looks bad when a company communicates with you using bad language (no, not cussing. Although that doesn't go down well either).

"We have the evidence to prove that your account involved in the controversial game currency transaction"

Damn it I shouldn't have bought that Lovely Black Dress but its not that controversial really.

"As you may not be aware of,this conflicts with Blizzard's EULA under section 4 Paragraph B which can be found here:"

Space after a comma! Did you not pay attention during typing class?

"It will not affect your game uptime.If you are unable to successfully verify your password . using the automated system,"

Also, space after a full stop, and no full stops in the middle. Of sentences.

"Battle.net-Account investigation!?‏"

It may be important, but is an exclamation mark and a question mark really warranted!?!one!eleven

"This is an automated notification sent from our account security system. You logined your account successfully at 3:14 on May 30th form the 203.11.151.* range. As other users report and after investigation, we foud that the account published spam information in the game world of warcraft.This harassing other users seriously . This action has violated the GAME RULES. As too many customer complaints, the IP range above has been blacklisted. "

I certainly did not logined to my account then, or using that IP address. Also other users may well report things, but you didn't tell me what. This harassing other users seriously... what? Annoys you?

"When you receive this letter to mean that your account will be disabled within 48 hours. this time disable your account is permanent."

Remember to use a capital letter in the first letter of the first word after a full stop.

If there are spelling or grammar errors in the email, it's probably not from Blizzard.

Send the mail from Blizzard.com
So given Blizzard are inviting me to Alpha/warning me/banning me, I would expect the email addressed from Blizzard.com to actually come from Blizzard.com. Luckily apart from detecting fishing, Google Mail will show you where an email was mailed from, by clicking the "Show Details" link on an email.

"from: BLIZZARD "
"subject: Battle.net Final Warning"
"mailed-by: hotmail.com"

I didn't realise Blizzard used hotmail these days. Can't they afford their own email servers? Worse is in Google Mail you can click on the little arrow to the right of the email and select "Show Original" and see:

Message-ID:
Return-Path: kamuel_2@hotmail.com
Received: from whq ([119.114.45.120]) by BLU0-SMTP93.blu0.hotmail.com over TLS secured channel with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.4675); Sat, 22 May 2010 11:06:48 -0700
From: "wowaccountadmin@blizzard.com"

Not only can they not spell "reply" but also it seems kamuel_2 at hotmail.com is the actual sender of the email, not blizzard as claimed.

Sadly hotmail won't let you show the original message source, but both gmail and hotmail seem pretty good at flagging up suspicious emails which don't come from where they claim to.

The Beta hasn't started yet
An email titled "Cataclysm Beta Test Invitation!" which turns out to be an opt in invitation, really isn't a Beta Test invitation. However also remember the point about good English:

"The disaster of the beta test, come on! Azeroth world turmoil coming, and you certainly do not want to be forgotten in the cold winds of Northrend , unable to enjoy the pleasant sun Corzine on the island."

Just... I don't even know where to start with this one. Soon you might be receiving invitations to the actual beta, at which point it's worth checking it has actually started.

Link to the actual Account Management page
The URL to the European account management page is http://eu.battle.net/account/ or https://www.wow-europe.com/account/. For the US it is http://us.battle.net/account/ or http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/account. Any time a link in an email shows one URL but links to another (as shown in the status bar of a web browser at the bottom) gets me all suspicious.

I'm pretty sure http://www.worldofwarcraft-accounts-report.com/account/support/login-support.xml is not the right address, as worldofwarcraft-accounts-report.com is not actually battle.net or worldofwarcraft.com. Really you fishers need to link directly to the actual WoW account management pages, or just tell people to go login using the links off the official websites where their account violation messages will be waiting for them. Oh wait. They won't will they.

This one will be hard for the spammers to work around. Google mail shows a warning if links don't go to the place their text says, and also disables the links. In any case, if you are told you need to log into anywhere to verify an account, ignore links in the emails and go straight to the appropriate web site and log in there.

Anyway I hope none of the spammers read these tips as their emails might get better. Stay safe out there people.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

DPS Scaling in ICC

So Death Goddess posted some stats regarding DPS Scaling in ICC 25, go check them out. She took the best figures from each class/spec combination on World of Logs. Her conclusion is that "Death Knights are in a sorry state" and "By the end of the 12 fights, the BEST DK spec, unholy, was beaten out by at least one spec from EVERY class except poor, poor shammies". Hmmm, that would be poor old Enhancement Shamans.

It gets worse in the Heroic figures, where on average Enhancement Shamans are the absolute bottom with 12.8k DPS compared to the top class/spec of Fury Warrior at 16.9k. Among the fairly bad figures we post, she raises an intriguing point "And as has already been stated, the dps for shammies was much worse than any other class. Obviously, Blizz' announcement that there will be other heroism classes paves the way for shaman to get a big boost - and rightfully so." I hope so too, although armed with these charts, if I post a bad performance I can now blame Blizzard on my guild forums ;)

Again this is an interesting post for any class/spec, so do check it out and comment.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Heroic Lolship is like, lol.

Thursday night, the usual clearance raid that Kam participates in is running (every Frost must go!). On the Lootship Battle, we are asked if we would like to swap in a guest who has killed the Lichen King and thus can unlock Heroic mode for us. It may be tough, but the loot is worth it, or that's what I thought anyway.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I can now say that Heroic Gunship is just exactly like normal Gunship. Maybe the mobs die a bit slower, but we had almost the same number of boardings and the whole thing went very smoothly and coughed up some nice loot. Such as this nice Heroic Frost Giant's Cleaver, which I could use to pose and epeen in, except that now everyone knows Heroic Lootship is easy, if they didn't already. I shall merely enchant and equip it and hope for more DPS.

Seriously, I'd even do it on Heroic in a pug.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Cataclysm Alpha Shaman talents

are up on MMO Champion. Now obviously these are subject to much change and are from Alpha, but I thought I'd chunter about them a bit, because really how many more posts can I make about my weekly raid into ICC Lower Spire?

Ok so MMO Champion took their stuff down, so shall I. Until the Beta when we can chunter about it again!


This also raises the question, should I bother covering Alpha and Beta information, when it starts to hit? Usually there is a slow period after Beta starts where the only news about WoW is beta information and anyone who wants to avoid that is reduced to pretty much no WoW news at all. Skipping beta stuff would of course would mean less to talk about on the blog, but has the advantage of no spoilers or me spending time looking at stuff which might be replaced or changed before Live (remember Spirit Link any one?).

Monday, 26 April 2010

Raiding format changes in Cataclysm (the sky is falling)

Some interesting changes for raiding in Cataclysm have been posted. Check the full post here. These are generally to do with the 10 man and 25 man format. Some highlights are below:
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.

Ok so this is the fix proposed by Vox Immortalis in their recent interview on pwnwear.com, where they talk about sharing the lock so guilds can only do one format or the other. Not being able to run both raids in the same week will have consequences.

I hope this change means less emblems to grind per tier piece. Blizzard said they currently balance the cost of Tier 10 around doing both 10 and 25 mans each week plus the daily heroic daily. Now if they balance around one raid per week less, that's less emblems to gather, which makes me happy.

For our 10 man guild this means no more pugging the same raid in 25 man any more, because toons will be locked to the 10 man raid. This means less loot opportunities and no more higher level loot for those who can get it, so we may not be able to overpower certain fights with twinked out toons. The single lock also means no running the VoA-equivalent twice for 2 tries at tier pieces, I know some guildies will go from VoA 25 to VoA 10 in the same PUG. This will of course slow down their acquisition of Tier pieces, myself I rarely bother with VoA due to its infuriatingly random availability.

The raid itemization is also interesting:
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.

Charles talked about the disparity in items across the raid formats on Planet of the Hats. What is really exciting is this change means Blizzard have 1 raid to concentrate on itemizing properly for everyone, instead of sprinkling desirable loot over two raid formats like some sort of crazy purple pixie dust. This means I will have access to all the good loot for my class, rather than half or a third of it.

This change also means for the first time, everyone in a 10 man will be in the same level of gear. True, 25 man raiders may get more of it and maybe more badges, but essentially the gear level itself will be the same. Hopefully this means when raids are tested in 10 man on the PTR or in Beta, Blizzard can tailor the difficulty level properly as the raiders will be in the gear they expect for 10 man. Currently I get the impression the 10 man raids are done in 25m gear and thus sometimes tailored to be too hard for people in strictly 10m gear.

So why would you run 25 mans in Cataclysm? Blizzard say "25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold)". This is interesting and the fact that more badges will drop in 25m than 10m may mean 25 man raiders can gear up quicker through the Tier pieces on badge vendors. This may prove to be a motivation to continue with the 25 man format. I keep on reading on blogs that 25 man is a lot of hassle and some motivation to do them is the better loot, so it will be interesting to see how many 25 man guilds stick around when the loot is the same as 10 man.

Does this mean the end of the "strict" 10 man category? The gear will be the same and people will have the same chances to see the fights, what with limited attempts most likely not coming back. I guess if the number of badges dropping in 25m is twice that of 10m (to pick a silly example) then 25m raiders will gear up in Tier items quicker, so this may give them an advantage if they ever did 10 mans.

All in all this is a really good change for me and our guild, because we just run 10 mans anyway. Their difficulty should be tuned better, the loot should be better itemized and the cost of Tier pieces should be more attainable. Oh, and did Blizzard just refer to the emblems in Cataclysm as "badges"? Please can they be called badges in Cataclysm, "emblems" is all very well but doesn't lend itself to catchy badger songs as much. Emblems emblems, mushroom mushroom!
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