June 2010


Everyone seems to have something to say about Blizzard’s new Real ID feature, so I suppose I’ll throw in my two coppers as well.

I’ve seen a variety of reactions to the Real ID feature. I’ve seen people state they were actually going to quit the game over the release of Real ID, which is a voluntary system. On the other side of things, I’ve seen a number of people openly giving out their email in guild chat to anyone who wants to be Real ID friends. I’m not in some cozy little guild either – I’m seeing this in one of the largest guilds in Warcraft, with more than 3000 members.

Me, I’m somewhere in between.

What I like: I love that I can see when my friends are on, no matter what toon I’m playing at the time. Even if I wander off to some other server to play a long-forgotten alt, if my friends come on, we can still chat or make game plans together. I like that I don’t have to try to keep track of all their alts anymore. Some of them have quite a few, let me tell you! Since I’m eagerly awaiting the release date for Starcraft II, it’s also nice to know we can reach each other cross-game.

What I don’t like: I can’t hide out on secret private toons that no one knows about. My bank alt’s name is no longer private. In reality, I never hide out like that anymore, and I’ve started to share my bank alt’s name with my friends so we don’t undercut each other too much at the Auction House. Still, I always knew I could have a private alt if I wanted to. I could change my bank alt if I needed to.

I really don’t like the Friend-of-a-Friend feature, and I know I’m not alone. Yes, I know this is the same thing as it is on Facebook. But on Facebook I don’t use my real legal name. Real ID gives your actual legal name to people you don’t even know. I’ll admit, my concern about this is general and vague. But I still don’t particularly like it.

Am I using Real ID? Yes, with a few select people. These are people I play with regularly; I’ve already given them my cell phone number and personal email, so I have no problem with being Real ID friends with them. I trust they are selective enough about who they have as Real ID friends that it quells my admittedly non-specific fears about the Friend-of-a-Friend feature.

I would like to see Blizz offer us privacy settings for the Friend of a Friend feature, as well as the choice to use a username instead of our actual Battle.net account email and our legal name. I plan to use Real ID sparingly, and I’m enjoying it so far, but I hope Blizzard will do some fine tuning on the privacy issues.

This week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was suggested by Spinks of Spinksville: Cataclysm is coming! The old world is going to be destroyed and remade.

Which town, quest, NPC, or zone really needs to be purged with fire, in your opinion? Will you enjoy dancing on the ashes of a particularly hated quest giver? Or is there some zone you avoid like the plague (Plaguelands excluded) where being nuked from orbit could only improve the experience? And why do you hate it/them so much?

What needs to die in a fire in Cataclysm? I’m not generally very big on complaining about the game. This is Blizzard’s world, and I usually think they are trying to do their best by its denizens. Will of the Forsaken nerf? It was overpowered! Change to the talent tree? Blizz is just trying to keep the playing field even. That said, I’m not a total fangirl. There are a few things that can go right ahead and die in Deathwing’s fire.

The shaman water totem quest: I suppose this quest could be viewed as a rite of passage. Want to be a shaman? You must suffer, grasshopper! Running all over the Barrens, Tarren Mill, Ashenvale and Silverpine–at level 20? And I had a mount when I did it! I shudder to think about doing it back when we didn’t get our mounts until 40. The consolation doesn’t come until you do your Air Totem quest, when you go to the questgiver and he just hands it to you. After all, you’ve been through enough.

Malygos: Can you hear the tears I cry when you are the weekly raid quest, Malygos? I hate you so much that I would actually skip the weekly if I didn’t have raiders who wanted the frost badges. For them, I go. I hate your 3-D space that I find so challenging to navigate. I hate the vehicle mechanic introduced in the third phase, so that if the raid doesn’t understand it and wipes, they have to start the whole damn thing over again. I hate the fact that we get a weekly raid quest that there’s a key for, so if no one present has the key, we have to do a separate boss in a separate instance to get the key. I know, we can port right to Sapphiron now. And I know, the fight’s not that hard anymore. I just think it’s unnecessary.

Azshara: Surely I am not alone in this. I avoid this zone at all costs. It’s too bad, because Azshara could be cool. The scenery is lovely. I like the hippogryphs and the dragonkin and hey — who doesn’t love to kill some naga? What I hate about this zone is how difficult it is to navigate. There’s no road system whatsoever. There are mountains blocking you at every turn. You fall off a cliff and never find your way back up.  There’s no inn; just some NPCs hanging out at a hardscrabble little camp without even a proper tent. I’m normally quite an environmentalist, but jeez! Let the goblins have at it with this place!

The idiot selling flasks in the auction house at a loss: I actually have no problem with healthy competition. If you’ve undercut me by 5g, well… fair play. But seriously, I was making a decent profit on flasks – nothing exorbitant, just a healthy little return on my investment. Then you come along and start selling below cost. Obviously Blizzard can’t do anything about this, but dude! You’re killing me! Knock it off, will you?

I sat down this morning to poke around at a Holy build, but since Holy is my offspec, I won’t drag you through a whole build the way I did with Discipline. Instead what I want to talk about is some of the new talents in Holy, and a few of the changes to the healing trees overall.

A number of spells have changed tiers, but I’m more interested in spells that have gone missing. Holy Specialization is gone, as I mentioned before, so your crit rating will be your crit rating. I enjoyed that extra five percent on my holy spells (i.e., everything I cared about), but no use crying over spilled crit.

Also gone:

Improved Power Word: Fortitude: Two points, Disc; increase the effect of Power Word: Fortitude by 30% and increase your stamina by 4%.

Meditation: Three points, Disc; increases your mana regen while casting by 50%.

Silent Resolve: Three points, Disc; reduces the threat of Holy and Discipline spells and and decreases the chance of your DoTs and healing spells to be dispelled.

Absolution: Three points, Disc; reduces the mana cost of Dispel, Mass Dispel, Cure Disease, and Abolish Disease.

Mental Strength: Three points, Disc; increases your Intellect by 15%.

Spiritual Guidance: Five points, Holy; increases your Spellpower by 25% of your spirit.

Spiritual Healing: Five points, Holy; increases your heals by 10%.

I’m bummed out about Improved Power Word: Fortitude and really bummed out about Meditation. I like not having to worry about my mana, but I know the devs want us to worry a little more about it. I get why, but I don’t have to like it. I’ll miss Mental Strength, Spiritual Guidance, and Spiritual Healing, but so it goes. Those straight-up buffs are exactly the sort of thing Blizz said they were going to get rid of. I never took Silent Resolve or Absolution, so I won’t miss them at all.

We’ve already talked about new talents in the Discipline tree, as well as Divine Accuracy and Deliverance (formerly Serendipity) in the Holy Tree, but there are other new talents in Holy as well:

Choir Leader: Two points; your Divine Hymn heals you for 10/20% of your total health during its duration, and the channeling time of your Hymn of Hope is reduced by 20%.

Improved Holy Nova: Two points; reduces global cooldown on Holy Nova by .25/.5 seconds and increases its chance to crit by 25/50%.

Chakra: Five points; When you use your Prayer of Healing, Renew, or Heal three times in a row, puts you in one of three Chakra states;

  • PoH: Increases your AOE healing by 10% and reduces the cooldown on Circle of Healing by 2.5 seconds
  • Renew: Increases the haste on Renew by 15% and reduces the global cooldown of Renew by .5 seconds
  • Heal: Increases the crit chance of your Heal by 5% and your Heal has a 100% chance of refreshing your Renew on the target
  • Smite: Increases the total damage done by your holy and shadow spells by 15%. (Smite is only mentioned in the second part of the tooltip)

I love Choir Leader.  I’m always nervous about the time I’m not healing when I need to use Hymn of Hope. I doubt I’d take Improved Holy Nova; maybe for AOE damage when soloing dailies or whatnot? The Chakra mechanic sounds like a lot of fun, and I think it will be really interesting to play with. It also sounds like it has some potential for being a pain in the neck, too, but I like that they are trying to make things more interesting.

As much as I’m sorry to see “required” talents like Meditation go, I do like how it opens up choices in the tree. Of course, the extra five talent points don’t hurt either, but it seems like there are really a lot of points to play with. So I don’t have to forgo anything important to me in order to take Body and Soul, for example. I can now grab Improved Power Word: Shield for a Holy Build.

The last two posts are really just my first takes on the new trees. For a complete listing of what exactly has been removed, added, changed or moved in the trees, check out Wowhead’s Priest Cataclysm Changes.

A real preview of a Disc Talent Tree this time

Not too long ago, I had some fun fooling around with leaked Cataclysm priest talents. But do you know what’s even more fun? Playing around with talents that Blizzard has actually released!

Actually, there seems to be a number of new damage buffs in both the Disc and Holy trees, which is interesting. Let’s go over my first swing at a Discipline build, shall we?

Tier 1 doesn’t look so different, and I keep what I currently have here: 5 points in Twin Disciplines.

In Tier 2, we have newcomer Penitence, which gives an increased crit chance for Smite and Penance.  I’m not too interested in Martyrdom or Focused Power (which decreases cast time on Mind Control and Mass Dispel), and after taking 3 points in Improved Inner Fire, I still need two points to get me to the next tier, so Penitence it is. I don’t much care about the improved crit on Smite, but who doesn’t like to see Penance crit?

Tier 3, now with more Smite in the form of Atonement: when you deal Smite damage, you get an instant heal on a nearby friendly, low health target. Three points in Improved Power Word: Shield and a point in Inner Focus leave me a point shy of the next tier, so Atonement it is. It’s beginning to look like Blizz wants me to do some damage.

Tier 4 has Improved Mana Burn, which I’m not interested in, and Mental Agility, which I am. That leaves Evangelism, which gives you a buff to Smite, Holy Nova, Holy Fire, and Penance when you cast… guess what? SMITE! Anyone else seeing a theme here? I take three points in Mental Agility, and then another two in Evangelism to get to the next tier.

Tier 5 brings us the much-awaited Power Word: Barrier, Enlightenment, and Archangel, which consumes Evangelism to restore mana and let you cast Penance on the fly. YES!

In Tier 6, Soul Warding is now three points, as alluded to in the leak. I take all three, naturally, but this leaves me two points shy of the next tier. I look back to see if there’s some Smite-related talent I’m supposed to take, and sure enough, I haven’t maxed out Atonement or Penitence. I take one more point in each.

Nothing new to see here in Tier 7: Divine Aegis, Power Infusion, and Improved Flash Heal. Same story in Tier 8: Renewed Hope, Aspiration, and Rapture.

For Tier 8, I take Pain Suppression and Grace, which now just two points. Five points in Borrowed Time in Tier 9 and a point in Penance for Tier 10 rounds out the Disc tree for this build.

Over in the Holy tree, I’ll start with five points in Divine Fury for reduced time on Greater Heal, which I seldom use; Heal, which is allegedly our new go-to heal; and Smite, which Blizzard clearly intends for me to use. As noted previously, Holy Specialization is gone.

In Tier 2, of course I’ll take Empowered Healing to buff Greater Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal, and the new go-to, Heal. The new talent in this tier is Divine Accuracy, which improves the chance to hit on Smite, Penance, Holy Fire, and Holy Nova. Accuracy might be nice if you’re going to also solo your dailies in this build, and may be a nice boost for all the Smite talents introduced in the Disc tree. But I’ll skip it for now, as well as Spell Warding.

I will, however, take everything in Tier 3: Desperate Prayer, Improved Renew, and Inspiration.

Tier 4 offers Improved Healing, Healing Prayers and Blessed Recovery. I’ll skip Blessed Recovery, since it requires at least one point in Spell Warding, which I didn’t take. It’s for PvP anyway, so I don’t want it. I’ll max out Improved Healing — moar buffs! — and take two points in Healing Prayers to reduce the cost of Prayer of Mending and Prayer of Healing.

Tier 5 gives me a couple of options I could take instead of Healing Prayers. I could take Holy Reach here to increase the range of my Holy Nova, Divine Hymn, and Prayer of Healing. But despite my recent threats to heal exclusively with Holy Nova, these really aren’t spells I use that much. Deliverance (the spell formerly known as Serendipity) could come in handy, and I could put points here to speed up Greater Heal enough to make it really useful. A Greater Heal cast with Deliverance and a Borrowed Time buff? That could be one big, fast heal!

My final point in this build will also be in Tier 5: Spirit of Redemption. I’m super excited to get this talent for Disc. First of all, spirit is actually going to be useful for Discipline priests come Cataclysm, so the buff will be great. Plus we’re losing the Divine Spirit buff, so maybe this will help out. Of course, what I’m most excited about is getting to turn into a Giant Angel of Free Haelz, valiantly saving the raid before finally accepting my battle rez. Not that I ever die in raid. I don’t care what the druids on my team told you!

Stay tuned for my try at a Holy build. I hear we’re going to have to take Lightwell.

It’s clear that Blizzard loves me because the four talent previews they released today happen to be the only four classes I really care about: priest, shaman, druid, and even one for my poor abandoned rogue! Sweet!

A more detailed post about the Priest talent trees will be forthcoming, but I was just so darned excited about this news, I had to post a little something. Seriously, I cannot wait to play with these.

Play with the talent trees at Wowhead, or head to WoW.com for a talent rundown.

Jaedia at The Lazy Sniper suggested the current Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: What are you doing to conquer the pre-expansion slump?

So after saying just the other day that I wasn’t a victim of the pre-expansion slump, I realized it wasn’t true. Sure, I’m still working on progression in ICC, so I’m still seeing new fights, moving through content that’s fresh for me. An advantage of being slightly behind in progression is that while other raid teams and guilds have no new content to keep them motivated right now, my team is still excited about ICC.

But my team raids just six hours a week, and I play WoW around 25 hours a week. Which means I’m still seeing lots of content I’ve seen before. Which means I’m definitely feeling the pre-expansion slump. I’m ready for Azeroth to be new again. I want to roll new races, see new starting zones, revisit all the changed places in the Old World. I still love this game, but I’m ready for it to be new and exciting again.

In the meantime, though, I find myself with a little pre-Cataclysm to-do list to work on, so I do Ginnger’s dailies. I do Sindei’s dailies. I transmute something on Marsha. I’m not going to lie – it’s not that exciting.

So, what am I doing to keep my game going?

It’s always been my in-game goals that have kept me playing. Whether it’s a certain achievement I’m after, a piece of gear, or even a vanity pet, I enjoy working toward something. That certainly remains true with Ginnger, for whom I have plenty of goals. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been running regular Pit of Saron in hopes of getting a shield upgrade for Ginnger. PuG after PuG, the shield wouldn’t drop. When it did, a pally tank rolled against me and won it. Finally, I ran it with a few friends, and voila! The shield dropped. Clearly, friends are the key to success!

I’ve also been leveling my druid, Aless, though in a very casual way. I’m leveling her as boomkin. It’s not the fastest, I know, but I just wasn’t feeling it with the cat melee. Naturally, I want to try out druid healing — maybe it would teach me to trust druid HoTs in raid — but I’m not committed enough to leveling her to shell out for dual spec yet. Maybe around 60, if I stick with her.

The other thing I’ve been spending more time doing is playing the Auction House. Not in a super serious way or anything, but just to have more of a steady income. It’s really kind of entertaining, watching the prices, knowing what I’m willing to pay for materials, what kind of profit margin I’m getting. If prices on the items I’m selling drop too low, I hold off for another day and a better price.

I made some use of the remote Auction House feature during the Beta, but I haven’t subscribed to the pay service. Yet. It’s tempting, since I could then do some of my Auction House stuff from work. I like the remote Auction House interface, and whatever I do remotely means I spend less time in game doing business, and more time collecting Emblems of Triumph for Ginnger’s Elemental Tier 9 set. Of course, my Auctioneer data is all in-game, but I’m involved in only a few markets, so I pretty much know what I need to buy and sell for. Honestly, $2.99 is less than what I might spend on coffee on any given day, but we’ll see.

Ardol from The World of Warcraft Philosophized (one of my favorite blogs, by the way) suggested this week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic:

The idea of this shared topic is to write a post about your favorite something(s). Maybe it could be your favorite movies, favorite books, or if you wish to write about WoW, your favorite quests, favorite abilities, etc. I won’t limit this to being in just list form; if you wish to expound on one particular tv show or dungeon, go right ahead. The true purpose of this kind of topic would be to help your readers get to know you as a person, but to focus on one particular aspect of who you are and what you like, and to see who agrees or disagrees with you.

So here are a few of my favorite (mostly WoW-related) things:

The beautiful gloom

Favorite starting zone: Organizationally, the Blood Elf starting zone is the best. That said, I have a soft spot for the Undead starting zone. It’s a nice change of pace from Durotar and the Barrens, and it’s not full of Blood Elves.  And I sort of like the gloom of the Forsaken. What can I say? I have a lot of inner angst.

Favorite quest / quest chain: My favorite quest, by far, is the shaman water totem quest.

KIDDING!

It’s not terribly interesting, but for whatever reason, I’m always pleased when it’s time to do Lost in Battle. I know, I know: Mankrik’s wife is nothing now but a Beaten Corpse. I’ve reported this fact to him countless times, but he just doesn’t get it. The truth hurts.

My favorite quest chain overall has to be the Wrathgate line. This is perhaps the most epic questline in the game, with the culminating cinematic, the betrayal of Varimathras and Putress, the tragedy of a father losing his son, and the Battle for the Undercity. The first time I did this line was on an undead character, and from that point of view in particular, the chain was amazing. I’ve made sure to do this on all three of my 80s, and I’ll be sure to do it on any future toons as well.

You dare post a screenshot of the Host of Souls???

Favorite instance: It kind of depends. If I’m trying to get a bunch of Triumph badges, Nexus is my favorite because it’s an easy five badges–maybe seven if you get it on random. I like Oculus because it’s easy, if you can get people to stay in it, and I’m still hoping the blue drake will drop for me. Yep, you heard me: I like Oculus. (I can spell it, too. One “c,” not two, people!) I used to love Culling of Stratholme, because I loved Warcraft III, but that’s before I had to run it eleventy thousand times as a random.

But I’d have to say my current favorite is Forge of Souls. It’s easy. It’s fast. I love Bronjahm for the awesome music, and I love the Devourer of Souls for the awesome intro. “YOU DARE LOOK UPON THE HOST OF SOULS???” It’s still reasonably fresh. I like Halls of Reflection, but with the wrong group, it’s a nightmare. I like Pit of Saron, but healing on Garfrost when people can’t figure out the whole Saronite Rock mechanic gives me hives. So there  you go. Forge of Souls. “I SHALL DEVOUR YOU WHOLE!”

You haven't worn socks till you've worn handknit socks.

Favorite thing to do outside of Azeroth: Knitting. I haven’t knit any Warcraft projects, despite the requests of my Wowcohol cohost, Daniel, but anything’s possible.  I’ve been knitting a lot of socks this year, but soon it will be time to start on winter knitting: I need to make a hat for my husband, a scarf for a friend, and a baby blanket for a young expectant mother who’s due right around Christmas. That’s a lot of knitting, so I’ve got to get on the stick(s) soon!