Archive for Cataclysm

While I was away…

Posted in Diary, Shadowpriest with tags , , , on March 21, 2011 by Natarumah

You may have noticed by now that I haven’t been posting much lately. This has been caused by many factors, including busy work schedules and (in some cases) the lack of Shadowpriest-specific information. There simply hasn’t been much going on and I, like many it seems, have been suffering from a bit of a WoW-burnout.

What happened

One weekend, I simply didn’t feel like playing. It happens sometimes, at least once a year. It’s a sign that I need to relax a bit, level some alts or the like – nothing to worry about. But I soon discovered that it went a bit deeper than I thought. I didn’t feel like leveling alts, doing heroics, grinding rep, playing the AH or discovering the “new old world”. In fact, I didn’t feel like logging in at all!

Raiding on the other hand, was no problem for me. I love the raids and I had banked enough resources to last me a year even if I would log in only to raid – and that was what I turned out doing.

But I wasn’t alone

We have a great guild, with easily 100+ accounts and generally there was always at least a handful of people online. But over the course of a month, that number dwindled to at most 10 during the weekends. It was (and still is) a cause for concern, because it seems strange for so many people to lose interest in such a short period of time.

From MMO-Champion and the forums, as well as people I knew personally who played, I quickly learned that loss of interest in the game seemed a rather wide-spread phenomenon. Granted, the more hardcore raiders and PvPers were less affected by the look of it, but most of the casuals had either vacated the game, or become uber-casual.

What could it be?

I am currently trying to find out what could have happened – that pivotal moment that changed the game. Many people pointed to RIFT as the culprit – but the decline started before RIFT was announced and while I do play the game, I play it even less that I play WoW. And I haven’t seen many of the people who vanished show up in the game either, only a handful of people joined on the shard where I play.

A second reason I imagined could be the massive changes announced for Cataclysm not paying off. Leveling characters is a very fast experience now, but even leveling a character from 80-85 is so quick, that it’s not much work. Gearing them for raids, however, is. The new “hard heroics” are not the most challenging content, but I know that if you catch a new person in your group, they can take up to 2 hours. With experienced folks, it’s 30 minutes. This means I have to keep a block of time open for up to 2 hours if I want to run a heroic, and I usually just decide against it. I hit my valor point cap while raiding anyway, so I don’t need the heroics.

The continuous rounds of balancing could also be part of the issue. I heard people getting very tired of the retirement of favored abilities, the jo-jo effect of being buffed in one area then nerfed in another, as well as PvP being balanced for PvE reasons and vice versa. I can imagine it’s a nightmare for the developers, but don’t discount the psychological effects it has on the players.

Some of us have had to relearn the class (Paladins, Hunters) or have suffered greatly from being balanced left, right and center (Death Knights, Mages, Warlocks) or being forced to adopt new abilities to reach the same effect, only to have those nerfed in favor of the developers believing we need more buttons to push (that would be us, Priests, and Druids).

My plans for the future

Despite all of this, I love the game and my character. I love raiding and the immersive storyline that WoW has enjoyed for over 5 years now (albeit Cataclysm being the weaker son here with mostly re-used story concepts and wrapping old content up). I enjoy raiding a great deal, even though the other aspects of the game draw me less at this point.

I am part of a great guild and a great raiding community. I would walk through fire for many of these people, and it is the most balanced and sensible (albeit not always sane) group I have been part of for most of my playtime. I don’t intend to abandon them, or the game, although I did share my doubts and issues with them.

As for this blog, I do not intend to stop blogging. But like with many linked activities, reduced play means reduced writing impetus. In an effort to change this, I will find new avenues of the game I enjoy to bring to the fore, and try and expand the focus a bit to provide more reading tidbits.

That said, if any of you ever have specific subjects you would like more information about or would like to see me write on, don’t hesitate to comment here or drop me a mail. Even in my absence the visits to Twisted Faith have been massively stable, and I would like to thank you all for your continued interest.

Soon there will be regular programming again on this blog (and that’s not a Blizzard Soon [tm])

Controlling Heroics

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , on January 7, 2011 by Natarumah

Anyone who’s rolling in heroics at this time in Cataclysm will attest to the fact that their difficulty has been increased substantially from what they were in Wrath. With proper skill, crowd control and tactics, they are very doable. Without, they are nightmares. Shadowpriests have never been the kings of crowd control, nor are we likely to be in the future. But what we can do is prepare ourselves for control over brute DPS, and smoothen the ride.

Why a control spec?

I am currently running a dual Shadow spec – one is my raid spec with all the maximum DPS talents, the other is this set of talents, which is based around control.

My reasons for adopting this spec, despite it’s lower DPS (8-9K in heroics in an average party with 333 average iLevel) is that I found a lot of wipes were caused by a few things, even with proper tactics:

  • Mob(s) has an ability that stacks damage rapidly, or inflicts high burst damage
  • Crowd Control could not be re-applied when broken, adding mobs on to the tank
  • Mob(s) were casters, and someone did not LoS them during a corner-pull

A good example of the first issue is Throngus the Forgemaster in Grim Batol. He switches weapons, and the group tactics change depending on what weapons he uses. This fight does get easier with experience, but it demands a lot from the healer as well. When he picks up a big mace he has to be kited around, leaves fire patches on the ground and sometimes picks a person up and deals heavy damage. But if right after that he picks up his twin set of blades, he will be stacking debuffs on the tank, attacking rapidly. If the healer isn’t quick to switch from the group (during mace phase) to the tank (for the twin weapon phase) it can go downhill quickly.

In this case, any good Shadowpriest will help out the healer by putting a shield on a low-health party member or pop Divine Hymn if the whole group is low on health. But having Psychic Horror (which inflicts a Horror as well as a Disarm on the target) you can actually remove one of Throngus’ weapons during his twin weapons phase.

This improves tank survivability a lot, allowing the healer to re-assert control even if the situation went bad before.

For the second example, having a previously-sheeped or -hexed mob run into the AoE of, for instance, a Paladin tank means the tank and healer will have to deal with the extra mob. Nothing to be done about this except with some fancy chain-CC, repositioning and coordination.

What I like to do here is use a Psychic Horror or a glyphed Psychic Scream to root the mobs in place before they get too close to the party. To prepare for this, just make sure to stand in between the party and the CC’d mobs, if the fight allows it. Applying CC often takes a second or two, and if you buy this time for the group, your effective DPS and healing has just skyrocketed into hero spheres.

The last example can be found a lot in Grim Batol, Stonecore and Halls of Origination – all of which have a plethora of casters. During a cornerpull or LoS pull, everyone gets out of sight of the mobs when the tank pulls, drawing ranged mobs close to the party.

The problem with this is basically perception. Not everyone realizes exactly when they are out of LoS of a mob (even though they seem quite capable of it when it concerns LoS to the healer) or dares to admit they don’t know what a cornerpull means. In this case, all is not lost by a quick application of Silence (to draw the mob in) or Psychic Horror (to allow a person to take cover) and assertion of control over the pull by the tank.

But it’s lower DPS – and why’s Phantasm in there?

Times have changed, it’s about control and saving healer mana now in heroics, not about who can run through them the fastest. In fact, bringing more control, and more CC, will make the run quicker than high-powered DPS that doesn’t know anything except massively AoE’ing down the mobs.

Phantasm’s an odd talent, I will say that. It’s part of that spec because in Wrath there were a lot of Snares to deal with, but they seem less prevalent in Cataclysm. Still, I feel safe in the notion that I can pop Fade and get out of slows and snares. It also means this spec is a lot more useful in PvP (which would work quite well, I imagine).

You can always switch some points around if you want; Improved Mind Blast is a good contender, although I find that in heroics individual non-boss mobs die rather quickly with proper CC and tactics, so I go with MSx3, MB, SW:D combos on tiny adds more often.

It’s still a bit of a development, since heroics are being adjusted a lot currently, making things easier or harder on us. And I try to anticipate a bit on the heroics yet to come in future patches as well. But that’s what makes life fun, preparing for the unknown eventuality.

How to start over again

Posted in Guides, Professions, Reputation, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on January 3, 2011 by Natarumah

With the coming of Cataclysm and the upheavals in the old world, many people have now started to roll new priests for themselves. Some always wanted a priest for an alternative character, others had it gather dust until an excuse came along to level it. And finally, the lure of the Worgen and Goblin races brough some to roll priests of those races (and sometimes even a second priest).

For those people, I’d like to start the new year with a post dedicated to leveling a priest, whether to watch the scenery or to plow through levels as quickly as humanly possible.

The importance of guilds

The new guild system, with its levels and perks, has a large impact on the leveling experience. Not only does the perk Fast Track give a 5% or 10% bonus to experience gained, the perk Mr. Popularity does a similar thing for reputations.  And finally Hasty Hearth, the perk gained at guild level 7 reduces the cooldown on your hearthstone to 15 minutes, down from 30.

This means that in a large and active guild (at the time of writing, Stormwind Academy is on the verge of reaching level 9) you can easily have yourself a 10% boost to experience and a much faster return to base camp.

Guild reputation

Guild reputation involves all the achievements you gain and quests you complete. As a new character, you will start racking up guild reputation from the moment you log in, up to a maximum per week. I am not sure what the real cap is, but so far it seems to be about 5-6K per week.

There are several rewards unlocked that require the guild to have gained a certain achievement, and you to have a certain reputation with your guild. For leveling purposes, there are a few that can be quickly gained by most guilds, and help you while advancing your new priest:

Shroud of Cooperation – A cloak with the guild logo and colors, which allows you to teleport to Stormwind/Orgrimmar with an 8 hour cooldown. This requires the guild to have the Class Act achievement (one member of every class) and you to be Honored with the guild. Not only will this help you in returning to Azeroth from Outland or Northrend now that the portals are gone, it will also allow you to get to Eastern Kingdoms if you started a character in Kalimdor (Night Elf, Draenei, Goblin) or vice versa (everyone else).

There are several cloaks with lower cooldowns, but these require more involved achievements, higher guild levels or more than Honored reputation.

Guild Page – A noncombat pet which has an 8 hour cooldown. He comes bearing a standard with your guild banner, but more importantly will buy your grey vendor trash, unwanted quest rewards and similar stuff, keeping your bags clean. He will remain for 5 minutes, but sadly can’t repair your gear. As an aside, he also offers to sell you any other guild rewards you have access to.

Heirlooms

As always, if you want to level fast, you want some heirlooms. While they are currently rather pricy when bought for Justice Points (and you might have uses for them on your main) they still sell for the same cost at the Argent Tournament. Two or three runs doing all the Tournament dailies on your main will allow you to buy one heirloom, as well as some minor pocket change.

The most important heirlooms for leveling fast are the Chest and Shoulder items, since these boost your XP with 10% each. After that, a good set of trinkets and weapons will make you practically unkillable to anything in the old world.

There is an heirloom ring, Dread Pirate Ring, which boosts XP gained by 5%. However, to get this ring you will need to win the Kal’uak Fishing Derby in Northrend, always a gamble. Fortunately, most people will be more involved with the new content, meaning your chances improve.

Finally, new heirloom cloaks will become available from the Guild Vendor once your guild reaches level 10 (possible this week if you made the cap every day since Cataclysm launch) and you are Honored with the Guild. These cloaks offer Crit and Haste, as well as a nice portion of Stamina and Intellect. More importantly, they will level with you until 85, meaning their value stays for much longer.

Power-plowing Professions

For speedy leveling, nothing beats being a Miner/Herbalist. While not the most glorious professions to have (certainly once you hit max level) they will offer you a lot of experience on the way. And best of all, this experience scales with your profession level, meaning that it will be beneficial all the way.

The Herbalist benefit of Lifeblood (small heal and a Haste bonus) fits well with a Shadowpriest, and allows you to burst down tough quest mobs or hold your own against Elites in Azeroth and Outland. Mining offers increased Stamina which, while not all that required until Northrend finishes, will serve you well in Cataclysm. Quest mobs from level 83 on start hitting really hard, and if you pull too many mobs, this Stamina might just save your day.

Questing or instancing?

When playing a Shadowpriest, you will find that queuing for a dungeon can be hard. Even with all these people starting new characters, you are going to wait a long time for a dungeon unless you queue as Healer. For this, I’d suggest getting a healing spec on the side once you can, because the lower-level dungeons have been slightly retuned with better loot and (slightly) increased challenge.

Questing, on the other hand, has become much simpler. You can say goodbye to your old questing addons, since every capital city has billboards with “Call to Arms” quests sending you to level-appropriate zones. And within these zones, quests are arranged in hubs with frequent flight paths in between. Every quest (as usual) is also displayed prominently on your map, so you will have no trouble finding anything.

On the whole, questing and gathering while waiting for your queue to pop as DPS seems to be the most efficient route. Quests for a dungeon are all located at the entrance, so no need to go around and gather those up anymore either. Questing and leveling have never been as easy as today.

The slow road

In fact, a more frequent complaint these days is that leveling is too fast, and that you outlevel the quests in an area before you even finish it. Sadly, there’s not much to be done here. Without heirloom boosts and mining/herbalism you will slow down a bit, but you can’t shut off the guild perk for the 10% boost unless you leave the guild, negating your hard-won reputation with it.

But people who love the questing and sight-seeing experience won’t be deterred by being too high level for them, and the new world has been enriched with very fun new quests, a plotline that evolved since classic (no more searching for Mankrik’s wife) and incorporating many of the madcap antics found in Northrend quest (cutscenes, bumping goats off cliffs, races, and much more) making questing fun rather than a chore or a race.

Talents

When leveling up, you will get to pick being a Shadowpriest from level 10 (yay!) granting you the awesome Mind Flay ability. If you’ve visited Twisted Faith before, you probably know the drill, so what I present below will be control-based specs (survival and control > DPS) while leveling rather than the raid specs.

Level 21: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-zr.a8t.priest.
Level 31: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-u0g.a8t.priest.
Level 41: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-uBkG.a8t.priest.
Level 51: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-uBpa.a8t.priest.
Level 61: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-CIQI.a8t.priest.
Level 71: http://wowtal.com/#k=f-AhuP3.a8t.priest.
Level 81: http://wowtal.com/#k=8-AL_n-.a8t.priest.
Level 85: http://wowtal.com/#k=a5FN4KMg.a8t.priest. (requires a respec)

The level 85 talent choices are what I use for a Dungeon spec. I chose Improved Psychic Scream (Panic Button), Silence (Interrupt) and Psychic Horror (Disarm/Stun) as I have seen how much damage can be prevented on the party or the tank, and how much level 85 heroics require control.

In the next post I will give attention to Shadowpriests in Heroics, elaborate on the Control spec, and give tips regarding specific bosses.

Gear

When it comes to gear, things have become really simple. While leveling, you want gear with as much Intellect as possible, augmented by Spirit (for the Hit and lower downtime between combat). Haste is still a primary stat across all levels, balanced out with a bit of Crit.

You don’t want to get any talent related to Mastery until level 80 (when you learn the ability) and gear at level 80 or below does not have Mastery on it.

Once your character reaches level 79,  get your hands on a set of Deathsilk, crafted by tailors. This is one of the starter tailoring sets which also is used to level tailoring on, making it cheap and affordable. The robe and helm are blue quality items and require volatile fire, the others only cloth and thread. It’s not uncommon to see an entire set on the Auction House for less than 800 gold, even at the height of the expansion’s leveling streak.

This set will be good enough to fearlessly challenge level 81-84 content, and you will find that replacements come only in Uldum and perhaps the last quests of Deepholme. Therefore, it’s a great investment. As mobs will be hitting much harder, the additional Stamina on the pieces will make things much easier, even if you were draped in ICC epics before.

Raid preparation for Cataclysm

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Reputation, Theory with tags , , on December 9, 2010 by Natarumah

As the race continues to level 85 (and many of the more fervent players have already reached that point) it is time to review the gear we will be needing to enter the level 85 raids and heroics. Reputation factions will, as always, give us our head and shoulder enchants, and our gear will require much of the same modification as always.

A quick and dirty overview of what is a good setup to begin with:

  • For heroics, you will need 6% hit rating, which is 615 rating
  • For raids, you will need 17% hit rating, which is 1742 rating
  • Focus will be on Haste-heavy gear, Spirit/Haste gear is good if you need Hit
  • Mastery is ok, but we don’t focus on it – same with Crit
  • If an item is linked below, the item that drops in Heroic mode is the same item but with better stats; this follows the Wrath raid model, where 10man and 10man heroic had the same loot but with better quality, as an example. Some items don’t follow this model, notably Trinkets (often from the final boss)

Head (Enchant: Arcanum of Hyjal, 60 Intellect and 35 Crit)

Helm of Temperance – Hit/Crit head item, requires Earthen Ring Honored

Crown of Enfeebled Bodies – Crit/Haste head item, drops from Erudax in Grim Batol

Neck

Tauntka’s Necklace – Haste/Crit neck, drops from High Prophet Barim in Tol’vir

Chest (Enchant: Peerless Stats)

Robes of Rampant Growth – Haste/Crit robes, drop from Ammunae in Halls of Origination

Shoulder (Enchant: Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone, 50 Intellect and 25 Haste, required Therazane Exalted or Inscription enchant)

Mantle of Master Cho – Haste/Crit shoulder item, drops from Siamat in Tol’Vir

Legs (Enchant: Powerful Ghostly Spellthread)

Legwraps of Astral Rain: Crit/Mastery legs, so not very good but there are few options. Drops from Isiset in Halls of Origination

Pensive Legwraps: Crit/Haste legs of a good iLevel, but obtained through JP in major cities.

Back (Enchant: Greater Intellect or Tailoring embroidery)

Cloak of Ancient Wisdom – Crit and Haste cloak, requires Earthen Ring Revered

Mainhand/Staff (Enchant: Hurricane or Power Torrent)

Insidious Staff – Haste/Mastery staff, requires Baradin’s Wardens Revered

Biting Wind – Crit/Haste dagger, drops from Ertan in the Vortex Pinnacle

Modgud’s Blade – Hit/Crit dagger but with huge spellpower, drops from Umbriss in Grim Batol

Offhand (Enchant: Superior Intellect)

Book of Origination – Haste/Crit offhand, zone drop from Halls of Origination

Hands (Enchant: Haste or Engineering Tinker)

Flamebloom Gloves – Haste/Mastery gloves, requires Earthen Ring Exalted

Dolomite Adorned Gloves – Spirit/Haste gloves, drops from Corborus in the Stonecore

Wrist (Enchant: Greater Speed or Leatherworking enchant)

Sand Silk Wristband – Hit/Crit piece, drops from Augh in Lost City of Tol’Vir

Armbands of Exiled Architects – Crit/Mastery wrists dropping from Vanessa von Cleef in Deadmines

Waist (Enchant: Belt socket with additional gem)

Beauty’s Silken Ribbon – Crit/Haste wrists, drop from Beauty in Blackrock Caverns

Evelyn’s Belt – Spirit/Haste piece with a socket (haste bonus), dropping from Siamat in Lost City of the Tol’vir

Rings (Enchant: Intellect if Enchanter, else none)

Dimanat’s Ring of Temperance – Crit and Haste ring, requires Therazane Revered)

Abandoned Dark Iron Ring – Haste/Crit ring, Dungeon drop in Grim Batol

Trinkets

Stump of Time – A trinket with Hit, and a spellpower proc. Requires Baradin’s Wardens Exalted

Anhuur’s Hymnal – Hit trinket with spellpower proc, drops from Anhuur in Tol’vir

Gale of Shadows – Haste trinket with stacking spellpower, drops from Erudax in Grim Batol Heroic. Very good!

Sorrowsong – Interesting trinket for grinding, with Mastery and Execute proc, drops from Siamat in Tol’vir Heroic

Wand

Wand of Dark Worship – Haste/Crit wand, zone drop in the Stonecore

Wand of Untainted Power – Spirit/Haste wand, drops from Forgemaster Throngus in Grim Batol

Feet (Enchant: Enchant Boots – Haste)

Desert Walker Sandals – Haste/Hit piece, requires Ramkahen Exalted

Conclusion

The addition of Mastery on just about every second item makes it a bit harder for us than before to get a set together. The good news is that the items above (accompanied by a quest item or drop I missed) are more than enough to puzzle together a set with Hit Cap and as much Haste as you can get. There should also be sufficient Crit and Mastery to proc our talents, so overall impressions are favorable.

Now let’s just hope that the Legendary DPS staff that was announced is within our reach – since I’d hate to be told I had no shot at it because there’d be Mastery on it and it’s not so good for us. So here’s to hoping Mastery will be improved to be more beneficial to us than it is now – somewhere between Haste and Crit would be nice.

Edit: On the whole, to get the most out of things you want to look up the Justice Points vendors and buy what they have, since most of their gear is iLevel 346, equal to Heroic Dungeon drops. I would suggest running Heroics for about a day or three, four – and buy from the JP vendor critical items that you were not lucky enough to find.

Preparations for the great run

Posted in Guides, News, Theory with tags , on December 7, 2010 by Natarumah

After the inital confusion with failing login servers, rage over people getting server-first cooking within 15 minutes of launch and of course the general malaise of people feeling rushed by their now-level-83+ guildies, time to make a short recap on how to make the most of your time. Follow this info so you can also enjoy the expansion, instead of just rushing.

Old World Flying

Don’t go to a trainer in the old world, in most places these NPCs are covered by players like a swarm of bees. This will likely continue as more people log on. Instead, go to Dalaran or Shattrath and learn it there – these places are extinct. For a mere 250 gold, you can now go and fly in the old world.

Dailies

If you happen to be in Dalaran to get your flying, hop by the Argent Tournament arena and pick up the dailies. You can get some done while waiting in the dungeon queue for the next-best level 81 instance, and the place is not very busy at this time.

Training

I am not sure 100% whether this is available in Dalaran as well, but train your professions. Cooking, Fishing, Archaeology and your two main professions. If you’ve been diligent with your cooking and fishing dailies the last few days, you should be able to get some crates of meat shipped over from your alts and some recipes to use the meat for on your main.

Don’t bother with first aid yet – if you are a tailor, you want the cloth that drops in Cataclysm. If you are not, you want to sell it. Prices are high at the start, so don’t waste good cloth on bandages. Same goes for fishing, if you find a pool, fish it. The fish make good money for those who didn’t do the dailies, and if you need them for your own cooking, all the better.

Why cooking? Well, the food provides good buffs, and will make questing a lot easier. Especially if you take on somewhat high-level mobs, since they hit hard. The extra Stamina and secondary stat buff help a way there.

Questing

You know that the main questing area’s pretty camped, and not all of it can be solved by Blizzard’s phasing technology. You can try leveling through dungeons, but to be honest, the instance servers will likely not stand the weight of all those players. Consider making groups with your guild members, and leveling in 5man teams. That way, quests are done quicker, you don’t need to wait half as long for quest respawns, and you get a group XP bonus to boot!

Enjoy

Don’t forget that part of the charm in leveling is seeing something completely new. The urge to go to 85 TODAY! must be very strong, but resist it…slightly. You won’t be raiding unless enough people in your group are 85 and somewhat geared anyway – besides, we’ve been seeing the same content for about a year now…enjoy the fresh air!

On Twisted Faith

I am currently working on updating the site – a lot of information needs updating, and I am trying to make it look a bit snazzy. This being a wordpress.com blog, I don’t have a lot of freedom in altering the layout without paying, something I am not planning on doing. So, we have to make do with what we have.

I am hoping to be able to get the updated material live next monday!