Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Fractured Alt Podcast

My wife and I have decided to start a podcast based on one of our favorite activities in WoW – rolling Alts!

If you would like to drop in and share your thoughts as we prepare for our first show, here’s a link for you Fractured Alt.

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Posted by on May 11, 2011 in World of Warcraft


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High Heals: Shaman

From the replies I received on the blog itself and on twitter from those who read it, the Shaman was voted as the top choice for being the first class to use in this project. I’m sure I probably influenced that vote a bit as I mentioned that I had already enjoyed a bit of Resto Shaman leveling in the recent past, but that’s fine.

For those of you who have not read the introductory post, Project: High Heals, I’ll give you a quick recap. Most guides that you find online in relation to healing are all aimed at end game content, making it hard to find quality information on leveling your healing character beyond a simple layout of when/where to spend your talent points. Since writing guides to help people level, and have fun while they do it, is what I do – that’s what I’m going to do with this project. I’m going to level each of the four healing classes from 1-85 without using a non-healing spec the entire time.

Today I’m going to do a bit of outlining for my plans to level the first of the Project: High Heals leveling guides, Bottledwatah the Restoration Shaman.

Healing Tools
Shamans have one of the most balanced healing sets of all the healers, which makes them a good choice for both single-target and multi-target healing. You don’t get active multi-target heals until level 40 where you get the Shaman signature, Chain Heal, but your spec-specific bonus heal of Earth Shield allows you to passively heal a target with it while you focus your healing spells on others when necessary. You do get a glimpse of some of your group healing at level 20 when you get Healing Stream Totem, but it’s a bit of a passive heal while the totem is in play, and while the healing from it certainly helps, it’s not something you can rely on if there’s any real amount of damage being applied to your group.

As far as defensive dispels go, Shamans by default can remove Curses and can spend talent points to also remove Magic effects. You can also spec so that using your dispel (Cleanse Spirit) heals the target when you remove a harmful effect so that you’re both cleansing and healing with the same spell.

While not exactly a healing ability, Shamans also have the unique ability to resurrect themselves when they die. Warlocks can use soul stones to mimic the effect, but theirs is a “use it or lose it” option so if you die at a time where resurrecting isn’t important the effect is kind of wasted where a Shaman can chose to resurrect or not any time they die so long as the 30 minute cooldown is up. It’s not really crucial by any means from a leveling standpoint, but it does have its uses and advantages now and then.

Leveling Tools
The Shaman’s other two talent trees are both DPS, one caster and one melee. This gives the Shaman an interesting advantage when it comes to leveling as Resto because you’re collecting gear that naturally makes you good at casting offensive spells while also having built-in melee attacks that they give you to help you level early on. To compare, the Paladin has melee attacks it can use but there is no Paladin caster spec to draw from, the Priest has two other caster specs that can deal damage but no melee benefit, and while the Druid shares the ability to use melee attacks it requires weaving in and out of forms to switch between casting and melee.

Shamans also have the wonderful use of Ghost Wolf. Granted, you get the spell four levels shy of getting a mount, and it does have a cast time for non-Enhancement Shamans until end game (if you spend the talent points on it), but it’s still a great mobility spell that can be used both in doors and during combat. They also have spells that allow them to breath underwater and to walk on top of it.

You can’t talk about the Shaman class as a whole without mentioning Reincarnation, the self resurrection spell that you can use after any death so long as it’s not on cooldown (30 minutes). The other, big signature feature of the class is the use of Totems. Totems allow you to provide a great number of different buffs to your party which can also be put to good use when leveling solo. Combining the passive/reactive healing of Earth Shield with the glyphed bubble from Stoneclaw Totem for example can give you some incredible survivability.

Leveling Strengths
One of the major advantages of leveling a Restoration Shaman is that you have a solid offensive tool belt that includes both melee and casting attacks, and when you combine that with healing from Earth Shield questing becomes incredibly easy (though not necessarily fast since you get none of the damage buffs that the two DPS specs receive).

As I’ve mentioned before, you also have the use of Ghost Wolf which can make a lot of your questing faster by increasing your movement speed in doors and such. While you don’t have access to them until you’re in Northrend levels, you also receive two totems which act as pets and can be a great help while leveling as well. The Fire and Earth Elemental totems are both really good for when you find yourself being attacked my multiple mobs, or when you want to contribute a bit of damage to a boss fight where your other totems aren’t necessary.

Leveling Weaknesses
One of the major drawbacks while leveling is that you have no form of crowd control (other than slows) until you reach level 80. Until that point if you happen to pull more mobs than you intended to your only options are to either run away until they reset, or say a prayer to the elements that you can heal yourself enough to survive the pull.

You also have a disadvantage when it comes to gear. While you’re leveling you’ll often find that Cloth pieces are the best items you can get your hands on when you should be wearing Leather (1-39) or Mail (40+) instead. Caster Leather/Mail pieces and caster shields aren’t impossible to find, but they aren’t as abundant thanks to the small number of classes and specs that use them.

Intended Leveling Focus
I haven’t decided 100% which path I’m going to focus on with Bottledwatah. As I said in the initial post, I’m going to do a bit of everything with these little healers, but each of them is also going to lean towards a certain aspect of the game more than others. The Druid will likely focus more on PvP, for example, where the Paladin may focus more on questing.

Right now I’m leaning towards keeping this one pretty evenly focused on all of the different aspects of the game. I have really been enjoying PvP with her, but I’ve had a some fun in LFG as well (though I got more queues to pop as DPS in my Resto spec than I have healing so far). Questing is sort of the in between to pass the time between whichever queue I’m in except for when I’m leveling my professions in which case questing is the norm while I gather materials.

Right now Bottledwatah has Herbalism and Alchemy, but with an 85 Tauren Druid with herbalism on the same server I’m considering dropping Bottle’s herbs for Tailoring instead. Doing this would remove the benefit of gathering experience (which can really help when you’re leveling a healer), but it would make her professions more useful in the long run. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of that in the actual leveling guides, though.

Planned Spec
This is the spec that I’m planning to use while I level. My healing experience on a Shaman is pretty limited, so hopefully I’ve chosen a good build there but I can’t say for sure since I’m only level 20. Time will tell, and I’ll be sure to pass on any information it happens to share with me.

And as always I’ll share the details of the spec along with the order in which I spend the talent points in the actual leveling guides.


Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Caster, Class, Leveling, Play Styles, Shaman


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Project: High Heals

Finding information on how to level a particular class in a DPS spec isn’t hard to do. Most classes (except Rogues, apparently nobody likes being a Rogue) have at least a decent blogging community dedicated to them and/or you can find posts for it on forums all over the place. You can find most of the same for leveling as a tank as well. But when it comes to healing guides, almost all of them are aimed at healing in heroics or raids, or how to switch from a non-healing spec to the healing spec.

Personally, I don’t like just grabbing a random spec I’ve never tried before when my character is a high level. I don’t like learning when I have all the tools I’ll ever need thrown at me all at once. Rather than grabbing a spec I know nothing about I prefer to reroll the character, especially if the spec in question is tanking or healing because of their nature. If I pick up an unfamiliar DPS spec my team can usually carry me while I’m busying sucking and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, but I can’t do that as a tank or a healer because I’m the only one filling that role at the time and my failure would lead to the group’s failure.

I believe that the best way to become truly skilled and knowledgeable about a particular spec is to level in it. I’m not saying it’s the only way, you could certainly do it without ever experiencing the spec until you reach max level, but that knowledge is so much easier to pick up if you’ve had the time to learn about each and every ability as it becomes available to you rather than just having them all thrown at you at once.

So I’m going to do a little mini-project, which is to level a character form 1-85 in their healing spec the entire way. I know it can be done, my wife did it on her first Paladin. The results of this test, which are going to be based on how fun it was and how hard/easy it is will determine whether it becomes a larger project (leveling all of the healing classes in their healing spec), or if I just say, “that was fun, but uh…yeah, never again.”

But I’m not going to take the easy route, I’m not just sticking to LFG where four other people do my leveling for me; I’m going to experience the leveling content in every aspect of the game. So I’m going to take the healer(s) into dungeons, I’m going to take them into battlegrounds and I’m going to quest with them all with the healing spec. I’m not even going to purchase dual specs for them because I know if I do I’m going to be tempted to cheat and grab a DPS spec that I’m sure I’ll tell myself “oh, it’s just for a BG or two so I can throw someone off of the Lumber Mill in AB.” None of that, these suckers are going to live or die (/delete) by their own healing power.

Having done at least some leveling with all of the healing classes with varying degrees of healing experience, I already know a few things off the bat about each class:

  • Druid: Can be very boring as HoT’s are very powerful and quick/instant cast.
  • Paladin: Some healing spells or related spells can be used offensively to help leveling.
  • Priest: Similar to the Pally, they have some heals that can be used offensively.
  • Shaman: Passive healing from Earth Shield can make up for time spent DPSing.

Knowing that Druid healing is frequently boring, I’m less inclined to have them be the class I use for the first test. On the flip side, their powerful HoT’s could very well make up for their boring factor by allowing me to deal damage during the downtime. I’m still considering the druid, but right now they’re the lowest on the list.

Paladin healing I’ve only done in the low level battlegrounds and tiny bit in Northrend during Wrath. I don’t think I have any real “need” for another Paladin right now, so I might leave this one for one of the last slots as well as the character would likely end up deleted and rarely/never played.

The Priest is a class I’m really enjoying right now, but still in the Shadow spec that I’ve recently blogged about. I’m not a great Priest healer and that’s something that I want to work on, and I’d really love to learn it by leveling instead of just flailing into it on my 85. As such, this is a big contender for first or second. I would likely go Holy over Disc because Holy is labeled more as the “used for heals only” spec where Disc is more “use for heals or leveling”.

Lastly we have the Shaman, a class I’m also having a lot of fun leveling right now, but both of my existing Shaman are in DPS specs. My Resto Shaman experience extends to about level 25 as my current Enhancement Shaman was originally a level 19 Resto Twink (which is why he’s named Tiklemonster, btw). I know that Shaman healers are very powerful at low levels as even after Cataclysm I managed to solo a couple of the low level dungeons, one of which (SFK) my buddy Cynwise hasn’t managed to solo yet on his super-twinked 19 Prot Warrior…yet. This ranks the Shaman near the Priest in priority as I had a lot of fun with the Resto spec.

So for right now I’m left with the big question – Resto Shaman or Holy Priest.


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Shaman Leveling: 30-49 Enhancement

Leveling Enhancement 1-29

This post’s MS Paint was done on a laptop with just the trackpad, so they’re even “better” then usual. Enjoy!

Playing an Enhancement Shaman
There isn’t all that much that changes in this particular level range from the 1-29 range. You’re still primarily a melee DPS class that weaves spells in between your attacks. But, you do start to get a better feel for how the class is going to play at max level as you finally get access to some of your really key features such as dropping all four totems with a single cast, actually having access to all four totems in the first place, and the ability to resurrect yourself.

As Enhancement, you’ll still have a very hybrid combat style where you weave melee and spells into a deadly mixture of ferocity, and the higher you get in level the more apparent that becomes. You don’t quite hit the premium level of that mixture in this level range, but you’re getting closer.

Enhancement-Specific Tips
The biggest suggestion I have for this bracket is directed at those of you who have played Enhancement in the past and are now leveling new ones or trying to get back into the class/spec after a long time away from it – do not use dual Windfury Weapon buffs. I loved rocking dual WF back in the day and seeing those swirly black tornados of doom popping left and right, but you’re gimping your own DPS if you do it. Also, don’t think you can get away with using spell caster weapons or fast weapons either, that’s all been nerfed.

Windfury Main Hand – Flametongue Off Hand

Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual compared to the last guide. The main difference is that Windfury is going to drastically increase how fast you kill things. This is where you’ll really be able to appreciate the greatness that is instant-Ghost Wolf, and where you’ll start to develop a closer relationship with your totems as casting them all is much easier as is removing them all and restoring mana in the process.

Important Spells & Abilities
Note that all numeric values are taken from the level 49 version of the spell for the purposes of this post.

Level 30-39

  • Ancestral Recall (30): Yanks the caster through the twisting nether back to their Hearthstone Location. Speak to an Innkeeper in a different place to change your home location.
  • Call of the Elements (30): Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar.
  • Reincarnation (30): Allows you to resurrect yourself upon death with 20% health and mana. [Reagent: Ankh]
  • Totemic Recall (30): Returns your totems to the earth, giving you 25% of the mana required to cast each totem destroyed by Totemic Recall.
  • Windfury Totem (30): Summons a Windfury Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster. The totem increases the melee and ranged attack speed of all party and raid members within 40 yards by 10%. Lasts 5 min.
  • Windfury Weapon (32): Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with wind. Each hit has a 20% chance of triggering three extra attacks with 310 bonus attack power. Lasts 30 minutes.
  • Lava Burst (34): You hurl molten lava at the target, dealing 120 to 152 Fire damage. If your Flame Shock is on the target, Lava Burst will deal a critical strike.
  • Far Sight (36): Changes the caster’s viewpoint to the targeted location. Lasts 1 min. Only useable outdoors.
  • Magma Totem (36): Summons a Magma Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for (21 sec) sec that causes Fire damage to creatures within 8 yards every 2 seconds.
  • Grounding Totem (38): Summons a Grounding Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster that will redirect one harmful spell cast on a nearby party member to itself, destroying the totem. Will not redirect area of effect spells. Lasts 45 sec.

Ancestral Recall was one of my favorite things about the Shaman when I first started playing; back when your hearthstone had a one hour cooldown. It’s still useful, but with the cooldown on your hearth lowered to 30 minutes, or 15 with the guild perk that most people have by now, it’s not quite as good as it used to be. But, it’s still a really useful spell if you’re doing a lot of travel (anyone doing Archeology out there?).

Call of the Elements and Totemic Recall are the both spells I would have killed for back in the day when I leveled my first shaman. Being able to drop all four totems (or fewer if you wish) with a single click/cast is a fantastic upgrade from the multiple GCD’s it would have taken you before. Totemic Recall destroys all of your existing totems and gives you a portion of their mana cost back when you do. The main benefit of this spell, as Enhancement, is to clear your totems from an area where they might draw some accidental agro.

Reincarnation is one of the signature abilities of the Shaman, allowing you to resurrect yourself when you die. If you’ve ever played a Warlock it works more or less the same as a Soul Stone, except that you can’t cast it on anyone else and you don’t have to cast it on yourself beforehand as you can cast it anytime you die as long as it’s not on cooldown.

Windfury Totem gives you melee haste, and it’s your best default Air totem with its duration and general benefit. In dungeons it’s going to be a great help when you have melee or hunters in your group. Magma Totem is your AoE totem of choice as it deals AoE damage itself as well as allowing you to cast your Fire Nova through it. If you have several mobs around you, go ahead and drop the Magma Totem, but remember that Searing Totem will give you more damage for single targets, especially as you get higher in level.

Windfury Weapon is THE reason why I love the Shaman class and the Enhancement spec. Windfury Weapon procs cause you to get three free, instant attacks on your target. I like to call the “swirly black tornado of DOOM” because that’s what it looks like, and that’s what it is. If you have a decent weapon for your level then Windfury procs generally mean that your target is dead, even if they were at full health.

Lava Burst isn’t really associated with being Enhancement, but I want to mention it anyway for its auto-crit property. You won’t often end up in situations where casting spells trumps melee, but for those rare instances where you end up rooted/snared or that your target is fleeing, this can be a really great option. You’ll be in the habit of having Flame Shock on all of your targets anyway, so this one’s basically a free ranged crit on demand. Since I’m mentioning PvP in my leveling posts now as well, this is especially worth mentioning even if it’s not something you’re casting in every battle.

Grounding Totem is another great spell that further increases the Shaman’s varied tool set. It’s often dismissed as a PvP totem, for which it is fantastic (and is getting buffed, though the cooldown is getting nerfed), but it does have some solid usefulness in PvE as well. You’ll find more spell casters in dungeons than in just questing, but any time you’re up against casters you might as well utilize your get-out-of-target-free card.

Another one of my favorite spells for the Shaman is Far Sight, which many players simply dismiss. For PvE, yeah, it’s about half a step above worthless. But, it’s still both fun and useful. It’s biggest benefit is PvP, where you can scout areas at range. In Arathi Basin I like to defend the Mine while casting Far Sight on the top of the Blacksmith which gives me a clear view of the entire map, including Lumber Mill. In Warsong Gulch you can spy on the enemy base from the safety of your own (you need to be on the “outside” section between the tunnel and the roof to do this from “inside” the bases).

I love casting Far Sight in PvE to hunt rare spawns. The great thing about Far Sight is that you cast it on any area that you can see on your screen, but you can recast it to any point that you can see from the place you’re already looking at with Far Sight, so you can chain cast this to look at the entire continent. You can also use it to hunt vanity pets from raptor nests such as the Ravasaur Hatchling, Leaping Hatchling, and Darting Hatchling.

Level 40-49
It’s important to note that at level 40 you also gain the ability (finally) to wear Mail armor, and you’ll want to upgrade your gear as soon as possible as not only do you get more armor from Mail, but you’re also about to enter the level range where you get a buff to your primary stat (Agility) only if you’re wearing your class’s particular armor type in all slots, which happens to be Mail for Shamans.

  • Call of the Ancestors (40): Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar. Can call different totems than Call of the Elements.
  • Mana Spring Totem (42): Summons a Mana Spring Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 5 min that restores 326 mana every 5 seconds to all party and raid members within 40 yards.
  • Wrath of Air Totem (44): Summons a Wrath of Air Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster. The totem provides 5% spell haste to all party and raid members within 40 yards. Lasts 5 min.

Call of the Ancestors is the same thing as Call of the Elements at level 30, except that it allows you to set a different group of the totems so you can work with the tools you need in any situation without a lot of time spent juggling them around. You’ll end up with four of these all together and that’s basically what they’re for. I like having one set up for general questing and dungeons and another for PvP.

As I’ve said before, mana isn’t a big deal for Enhancement, but Mana Spring Totem is worth mentioning because your totems are great buffs for your party and mana is one of the major obstacles for people to deal with in dungeon settings. This is my default Water Totem for that very reason. Wrath of Air Totem I mention for the same reason I do Mana Spring; you aren’t a caster but you’ll definitely end up with at least one in any dungeon or battleground that you go to.

There are a few other spells you get in this range as well, and while they are useful they aren’t that great for Enhancement. Chain Heal is the biggest potential exception there, but it’s not as good at this level as it will be in another 20 levels when you can cast it instantly.

Leveling an Enhancement Shaman

Weapon Imbues: Windfury Weapon (main hand), Flametongue Weapon (off hand)
Totems:Strength of Earth Totem, Searing Totem (Magma for AoE), Mana Spring Totem, Windfury Totem

While Windfury Weapon is fantastic, it has an internal cooldown on it that will make your off hand weapon occasionally rob you of procs on your main hand which will result in decreased DPS. At level 62 I lost roughly 220 DPS using dual Windfury Weapon, and I didn’t even have all the talents that make Flametongue Weapon really shine for the off hand.

  • Questing Single Mob: Earth Shock, Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Earth Shock
  • Questing Multi-Mob: Call of the Elements, Flame Shock, Stormstrike, (swap targets), Lava Lash, Flame Shock
  • LFG Trash Rotation: Call of the Elements, Earth Shock, Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Earth Shock [Wind Shear]
  • LFG Boss Rotations: Call of the Elements, Flame Shock, Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Earth Shock [Wind Shear]

[EDIT: I had Primal Strike listed in the rotations instead of Stormstrike. Primal Strike is worthless once you have Stormstrike, so remove it from your bars and forget that it exists. The two share a cooldown, and Stormstrike out performs Primal Strike in every way.]

Questing Single Mob (no change from the 29 Guide)
In this rotation you’re just going to destroy targets as fast as possible. If you’re using heirloom weapons then I definitely suggest you stick to using Earth Shock as your go-to shock spell, but if you’re not using heirlooms then you might find Flame Shock to be a better option for the opening cast as it’s DoT damage will add up over time to be even more than Earth Shock. Any shocks you cast after the first one should be Earth Shocks though, unless you missed with the Flame Shock cast.

Questing Multi-Mob
Now that you can drop all four of your totems with a single cast I suggest you drop them as you rush into combat instead of planting them in advance as it just saves time. You can plant them ahead of time if you’d like, I just prefer doing it on the move. If the group of mobs you’re going to fight are close together, go ahead and pull them with a Chain Lightning, otherwise just stick to the rotation.

The point here is primarily to get Flame Shock cast on all of your targets so that they’re all taking damage, and then speeding up their deaths with your melee attacks. Light one up, bash them in the face a time or two, switch targets and repeat. Windfury procs will speed up your multi-mob combat speed a lot when it procs.

If you need to heal in these situations, go ahead and do so. If you find yourself running short on mana because you’re healing go ahead and switch over to Water Shield for the mana return and switch back to Lightning Shield when your health and mana are at a more manageable level.

LFG Trash
This one is the same as solo questing, except that sometimes you might want to bother with totems and others you might not. I don’t cast my totems by default at this level when I’m doing LFG, instead I wait to see how quickly we’re progressing through the instance. If we’re moving at a fast pace then I usually don’t bother with any of them until we see a boss. If we’re going kind of slow or we have people who are /afk or something, then I’ll go ahead and drop the totems to increase everyone’s performance.

For most trash pulls though, just stick to Earth Shocks and using your melee strikes as often as possible.

Wind Shear: Deserves a special mention here though. Shamans have crazy-good spell interruption capabilities thanks to Wind Shear. If you see a mob casting spells, particularly a healer, interrupt as many of their spells as possible. If you’re in instances with caster mobs who are especially annoying then be sure to make use of Wind Shear when they’re casting the spell you don’t want to go through.

During boss fights you can also use this to lower your Threat as you can cast it even if there’s not a spell to interrupt. With Windfury procs, each extra attack can generate a critical hit which can send your threat through the roof. With such a short cooldown and the fact that it can be cast regardless of the GCD, there’s really no reason for you not to use it.

LFG Boss
For bosses you want to maximize your DPS potential. That means that you’re going to make sure Flame Shock stays active on the boss as long as possible, and that you’re going to utilize your totems for the good of your group.

Totems: Strength of Earth, Flametongue (2+ casters, Searing otherwise), Mana Spring, Windfury (Wrath of Air for 2 casters)

Using Searing Totem will give you a higher, personal DPS score on a boss fight, but if you have at least one caster DPS in your group then you should probably lean towards Flametongue as both they and the healer will benefit from it as will you (though to a lesser extent). If there are no caster DPS in the group then switch your Fire totem over to Searing and drop it right next to the boss when you move into melee range. Mana Spring is the choice for Water as your mini heals from the other won’t help nearly as much. Windfury is your default Air, but if your other two DPS are both casters then go for Wrath of Air instead since Haste really isn’t your top priority anyway.

Once Flame Shock is dealing its damage you’ll start rotating through your melee attacks and casting Earth Shock as filler while you wait to refresh Flame Shock. If you time your shocks just right you can get two Earth Shocks off with almost perfect timing for your shocks to refresh just as Flame Shock ends, allowing you to reapply it immediately with no time lost.

Wind Shear will still work on many boss abilities at low levels, so be ready to use it when you get the chance as Shamans have a fairly flexible and laid back rotation at this point. Spells you want to interrupt in particular are healing spells and AoE damage spells such as Chain Lightning. I could go into specifics, but this is a class guide, not a boss guide, so just use your own judgment. Remember that Wind Shear also lowers your threat, which can be a big deal now that you have Windfury Weapon on your main hand and can generate some very high burst threat.

Talent Spec: 49 Enhancement Shaman

  • Static Shock 3/3: When you use your Primal Strike, Stormstrike, or Lava Lash abilities while having Lightning Shield active, you have a 45% chance to deal damage equal to a Lightning Shield orb without consuming a charge.
  • Elemental Devastation 1/3: When you deal critical damage with a non-periodic spell, your chance to get a critical strike with melee attacks increases by 3% for 10 sec.
  • Searing Flames 3/3: Causes the Searing Bolts from your Searing Totem to have a 100% chance to set their targets aflame, dealing damage equal to the Searing Bolt’s impact damage over 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Elemental Devastation +2 (3/3): When you deal critical damage with a non-periodic spell, your chance to get a critical strike with melee attacks increases by 9% for 10 sec.
  • Unleashed Rage 1/2:
    Increases your expertise by 4, and increases all party and raid members’ attack power by 5% while within 100 yards of the Shaman.

Honorable Mention: Frozen Power 2/2: Increases the damage done by your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Lash, and Shock spells by 10% on targets afflicted by your Frostbrand Attack effect, and your Frost Shock has a 100% chance to root the target in ice for 5 sec. when used on targets at or further than 15 yards from you.

Static Shock is first on my list because I like to have more consistent DPS increases rather than relying on something like crit chance. While there’s only a 45% chance to proc the talent, that’s still much more consistent than a bit of crit chance. That being said, I do like Elemental Devastation for additional crit on my melee attacks when I crit with spells. With the Shaman’s hybrid melee/caster play style you’ll deal with a lot of opportunities to get this to proc. I suggest splitting the points you spend it though, because of this next talent.

Searing Flames is the reason why your Flame totem of choice is Searing Totem. It causes the totem to turn into a stacking DoT debuff. While level 49 opens you up to another key class/spec ability (Shamanistic Rage), I don’t feel that this one in particular needs to be rushed into as survivability is typically a non-issue while leveling and you don’t really have enough high-cost spells to need the mana benefits of it just yet. Instead I suggest you increase our DPS through Unleashed Rage as it not only gives you 5% more attack power (10% once you spend the other point in it), but it also reduces your chance to be avoided. Not only that, but it gives that benefit to your whole party/raid.

The Honorable Mention is a talent that I spent points in instead of topping off Elemental Devastation right away. It’s usually considered a PvP talent since it freezes people in place and gives extra buffs when using Frostbrand Weapon (the PvP imbue), but I really enjoy using it in PvE as well. I use it often when gathering to freeze mobs that would otherwise stop me from gathering, I use it to stop runners (though I could use a totem for that), and of course I do love using it in PvP as well. I like having types of control in my tool set for any class that I play, and this talent fits very well into my play style.


Prime Glyphs

With Lava Lash being a staple attack and the fact that you get it at level 10, this is my first choice of Prime Glyphs, increasing its damage by 20%. Next up is Stormstrike as the bonus crit can be useful with how many spells you cast in combat. Finally I have Flame Shock listed though it’s important to note that it’s really only useful in LFG boss fights or in PvP as typical mobs and dungeon trash will not live long enough for even the normal duration to matter.

Major Glyphs

Lightning Shield is overall going to be the most useful glyph for you here; it’s how you turn your Lightning Shield into a solid 10 minute buff instead of lasting only for three hits worth. Ghost Wolf is my next choice because moving faster is always a good thing, both in PvE and PvP. Frost Shock deserves a mention for those of you interested in getting into some low level PvP, though I would generally always suggest Ghost Wolf above this one for that purpose.

Fire Nova is probably the best investment if you’re looking to beef up your AoE ability in dungeons by increasing its radius and taking away the hassle of replanting your totems. Chain Lightning is one I haven’t used myself, but it deserves a mention for AoE if you enjoy it.

Minor Glyphs

I’m a huge fan of getting rid of reagents, so Water Walking is the definite first choice here. We have a few more options that do the same thing for spells that opened in this range, with Water Breathing and Renewed Life. Of the three, you’ll cast Water Walking more often (I do, at least), but Renewed Life is probably more valuable overall. The other cool option is Ancestral Recall, which cuts the cooldown in half. It’s not super useful in today’s short hearthstone world, but if you need to do a lot of back and forth travel (*cough*archeology*cough*) then it can be really useful. Arctic Wolf is a simple vanity glyph that just changes the way you look in Ghost Wolf form.

Gearing Up Your Shaman
As Enhancement your primary stat is Agility. Each point gives you 2 Attack Power and it also boosts your Melee Crit (and Dodge). Intellect boosts your Spell Power on a 1:1 ratio, and it also increases your Spell Crit and your mana. Strength is a decent stat for you as it still gives a 1:1 ratio for Attack Power, but it’s not something you really want to seek out unless you just cannot find any Agility pieces at all for those slots.

You also want to look for gear with Hit on it in particular since you take a penalty to melee hits for dual wielding. You don’t need a ton of Hit to get you by while you’re leveling, but if you find some good Agility pieces that also have Hit on them then be sure to pick them up.

For green gear with random enchants you’re probably most interested in “..of the Falcon” (Agility and Intellect), “..of the Tiger” (Agility and Strength), and “..of the Monkey” (Agility and Stamina).

As you get into running random dungeons you’re looking for items with the “..of Agility” and “..of the Bandit” (Agility, Stamina, and Crit) enchant on them from the Satchel of Helpful Goods.

There are two ways you can look at gearing up your low level Shaman. You can either go for maximum killing potential, which is stacking Agility above all else, or you can go with a more balanced build where you look for gear with both Agility and Stamina. I prefer maximizing my damage potential, personally, and going for good survival pieces in slots that I have no Agility piece to fill in. If you’re not used to healing on the fly as a DPS spec though, you might want to lean more towards survival.

Dungeon Gear
I got some good feedback from putting the dungeon drop list in the last post, so here’s one for this level range as well. Again, I’m not going to go into detail as far as which pieces to pair up from which dungeons to get a “best in slot” list, but I will give you a list of the items that if they dropped for me, I would consider rolling on if they were an upgrade to what I currently had.

A lot of the “good” lower level gear is tuned more towards Strength, which is still good though it’s not great. Agility is where it’s at, so don’t pass up an Agility piece for a Strength piece unless the value is at least twice that of the Agility piece.

Also remember that while Leather is still really good gear for you, you should try to upgrade all of your armor slots to Mail as soon as possible from level 40 on.

Scarlet Monastery: Graveyard
Bloody Brass Knuckles: Fist Weapon, +5 Agility, +5 Hit
Ebon Vise: Leather Gloves, +9 Agility, +6 Stamina, +6 Crit
Ironspine’s Eye: Ring, +9 Agility, +4 Crit
Ironspine’s Fist: 1H Mace, +3 Agility, +5 Stamina, +3 Hit
Ironspine’s Ribcage: Mail Chest, +8 Strength, +11 Stamina, +8 Crit
Gloves of the Pure: Leather Gloves, +5 Agility, +8 Stamina, +5 Hit

The Ebon Vise gloves drop from a rare spawn. Ironspine’s Eye also comes from a rare spawn, as does his Fist and Ribcage. Ironspine’s Fist isn’t the best weapon for us, as it’s a little bit fast, but at least it has both Agility and Hit. The Gloves of the Pure are a quest reward.

Scarlet Monastery: Library
Dog Training Gloves: Leather Gloves, +9 Agility, +6 Stamina, +6 Hit
Houndmaster’s Belt: Leather Belt, +6 Agility, +9 Stamina, +6 Crit

The Houndmaster’s Belt is a quest reward.

Scarlet Monastery: Armory
Herod’s Shoulder: Mail Shoulder, +11 Strength, +7 Stamina, +7 Crit
Raging Berserker’s Helmet: Mail Helm, +16 Strength, +5 Agility, +8 Crit
Herod’s Medallion: Neck, +5 Strength, +7 Stamina, +5 Hit
Cloak of the False Champion: Cloak, +5 Agility, +7 Stamina, +5 Crit

Herod’s Medallion, and the items listed below it, are all quest rewards, and they’re all from the same quest as well. Pick whichever item is the best upgrade for your current gear.

Scarlet Monastery: Cathedral
Branded Leather Bracers: Leather Bracer, +10 Agility, +6 Stamina
Gauntlets of Divinity: Mail Gloves, +13 Agility, +7 Stamina, +4 Hit
Hand of Righteousness: 1H Mace, +7 Intellect, +7 Spirit
Scarlet Leggings: Mail Legs, +20 Strength, +10 Stamina
Grasps of the Insane: Mail Gloves, +7 Strength, +11 Stamina, +7 Haste
Band of Grandiose Illusions: Ring, +5 Agility, +8 Stamina, +5 Crit

I mention the Hand of Righteousness only because if you don’t have access to heirlooms then despite the fact that the bonus stats on it kind of suck for your spec, the damage and speed on it aren’t too bad. While it’s definitely more of a caster weapon, if nobody needs it and it’s an upgrade for you, go ahead and take it.

The Grasps of the Insane and Band of Grandiose Illusions are both quest rewards from the same quest.

Razorfen Kraul
Ferine Leggings: Leather Legs, +15 Agility, +10 Stamina
Whisperwind Headdress: +8 Stamina, +15 Intellect, +5 Crit
Tusken Helmet: Mail Helm, +11 Agility, +11 Stamina, +11 Crit
Pronged Reaver: 1H Axe, +6 Agility, +4 Hit
Agamaggan’s Clutch: Ring, +6 Stamina, +6 Intellect, +6 Spirit
Monkey Ring: Ring, +8 Agility, +6 Crit
Agamaggan’s Silent Tear: Ring, +5 Agility, +8 Stamina, +5 Hit
Boots of the Noble Path: Mail Boots, +7 Strength, +11 Stamina, +7 Crit

The Ferine Leggings may be leather, but they have great stats on them. The Tusken Helm and Pronged Reaver are particularly great drops, assuming you don’t have heirlooms to fill those slots instead.

The Monkey Ring, and the items below it, are all quest rewards. The Ring is from one quest, the rest from another. Again, some are listed just as upgrades to slots that you might be struggling with, not necessarily because they’re “great” items.

Grovekeeper’s Drape: Cloak, +8 Agility, +5 Stamina, +5 Crit
Claw of Celebras: Off Hand Fist Weapon, Chance on hit: Poisons target for 9 Nature damage every 2 sec for 20 sec.
Albino Crocscale Boots: Leather Boots, +12 Agility, +6 Stamina, +4 Hit
Fungus Shroud Armor: Leather Chest, +17 Agility, +11 Stamina
Phytoskin Spaulders: Leather Shoulders, +12 Agility, +6 Stamina, +4 Hit
Bloomsprout Headpiece: Mail Helm, +15 Strength, +15 Stamina
Bracers of the Stone Princess: Mail Bracers, +8 Agility, +5 Stamina, +5 Hit
Elemental Rockridge Leggings: Mail Legs, +15 Strength, +10 Stamina, +10 Crit
Infernal Trickster Leggings: Mail Legs, +13 Agility, +9 Stamina, +9 Hit
Rockgrip Gauntlets: Mail Gloves, +11 Agility, +7 Stamina, +7 Crit
Fist of Stone: 1H Mace, Chance on hit: Restores 50 mana.
Blackstone Ring: Ring, +6 Strength, +6 Stamina, +6 Hit
Leggings of the Verdant Oasis: Leather Legs, +10 Agility, +15 Stamina, +10 Hit

The Leggings of the Verdant Oasis are a quest reward.

Oilskin Leggings: Leather Legs, +15 Agility, +15 Stamina
Revelosh’s Spaulders: Leather Shoulders, +10 Stamina, +Random Enchant
Rockshard Paulders: Leather Shoulders, +11 Agility, +8 Stamina, +8 Hit
Worn Running Boots: Leather Boots, +13 Agility, +9 Stamina
Cragfists: Mail Gloves, +8 Crit, +Random Enchant
Horned Viking Helmet: Mail Helm, +17 Strength, +17 Stamina, Use: Charge an enemy, knocking it silly for 30 seconds. Also knocks you down, stunning you for a short period of time. Any damage caused will revive the target. Chance to fizzle when used against targets over level 60. (30 Min Cooldown)
Ironaya’s Bracers: Mail Bracers, +Random Enchant
Revelosh’s Armguards: Mail Bracers, +8 Stamina, +Random Enchant
Revelosh’s Boots: Mail Boots, +10 Stamina, +Random Enchant
Galgann’s Firehammer: 1H Mace, +7 Stamina, Chance on hit: Blasts a target for 80 to 112 Fire damage.
Archaedic Stone: Ring, +50 Armor, +Random Enchant
Durdin’s Hammer: 1H Mace, +4 Agility, +7 Stamina, +4 Hit
Band of Uldaman: Ring, +9 Stamina, +6 Intellect, +6 Spirit

Uldaman is kind of cool in that a lot of the boss drops have random enchants. At the same time, it sucks for that very same reason. You’re looking for enchants with Agility or Attack Power, Intellect isn’t too bad, nor is Strength. Galgann’s Firehammer is a great weapon if you don’t have heirlooms; it’s just a big faster than optimum, but the damage proc can add up fast with Windfury Weapon procs as all four attacks can proc the extra damage.

The following items are Horde-only because the “bosses” they drop from are friendly to Alliance toons: Worn Running Boots, Horned Viking Helmet. I would love to get my hands on that helmet, and I might farm it with my Tauren just so I can have it. This item used to be Plate, but was switched to Mail in Cataclysm.

The last 2 items there are quest rewards.

Has an insane amount of gear in it. Since we’re getting into level 40 content, I’m only going to list Mail Armor from now on, even though there may be some really nice upgrades for you that are Leather. I’m also going to stop listing items that do not give a bonus to Agility, except for weapons, and special slots such as trinkets and relics.

If you want a full list of the items that drop, you can follow this link and search through them yourself.
Bloodmail Armor Set: Mail Belt, Boots, Gloves, Chest, Legs: +58 Agility, +58 Stamina, +34 Crit, +24 Hit
Bone Golem Shoulders: Mail Shoulders, +14 Agility, +10 Stamina
Shadowy Mail Greaves: Mail Boots, +10 Agility, +10 Stamina, +10 Haste
Windreaver Greaves: Mail Boots, +14 Agility, +10 Hit
Iceblade Hacker: 1H Axe, +7 Agility, +7 Crit
Bonechill Hammer: 1H Mace, Chance on hit: Blasts a target for 90 Frost damage.
Hammer of the Vesper: 1H Mace, +7 Strength, +7 Stamina
Libram of Divinity: Relic, +4 Stamina, +4 Intellect, +4 Spirit, 1 Prismatic Gem Slot
Totem of Sustaining: Relic, +4 Stamina, +4 Intellect, +4 Spirit, 1 Prismatic Gem Slot
Discipline Rod: 1H Mace, +5 Strength, +7 Stamina, +5 Hit
Shackles of Punishment: Mail Bracers, +6 Agility, +9 Stamina, +6 Crit

Of particular note are the Libram of Divinity and Totem of Sustaining as they are both Relics which you’ve likely not had access to up to this point, nor will you likely have access to another for quite some time. They also have a gem slot which can give you even more stats, though depending on which gem you put in you may not be able to benefit from the extra stats for quite a while.

You can use up to a Delicate Cardinal Ruby in this relic for +20 Agility, or if you can’t find/make/afford one then you can go with a Delicate Scarlet Ruby for +16 Agility instead. There are also lesser versions that will cost less gold on the AH (and give you less Agility), but those are the top two you’re looking for and they should be easy to find since people are still using them in some of their Cataclysm gear.

You may also consider using one of these Hit Gems since dual wielding requires more Hit, or you may even want to consider one of these Intellect Gems to increase the damage and crit rate of your spells as well as the size of your mana pool. Being able to use up to Wrath level gems in a level 40 item is pretty fantastic.

The last two items are quest rewards.

Razorfen Downs
Boar Champion’s Belt: Mail Belt, +13 Agility, +8 Stamina, +8 Crit
Koriastrasza’s Amulet: Neck, +7 Agility, +10 Stamina, +7 Hit

The Amulet is a quest reward.

Dire Maul
Dire Maul has even more loot in it than Scholomance does, and that’s saying something. Again, I’m going to leave out all non-Mail gear and all non-Agility gear save for Weapons and other exceptional non-armor pieces.
Evil Eye Pendant: Neck, +11 Agility, +5 Hit, +4 Crit
Fluctuating Cloak: Cloak, +7 Agility, +7 Stamina, +7 Haste, +4 HP/5 seconds
Jagged Bone Fist: 1H Fist Weapon, +6 Agility, +6 Stamina, +6 Crit
Demon Howl Wristguards: Mail Bracers, +7 Agility, +7 Stamina, +7 Crit
Gauntlets of Accuracy: Mail Gloves, +14 Agility, +10 Hit
Leggings of Destruction: Mail Legs, +15 Agility, +15 Stamina, +15 Crit
Odious Greaves: Mail Boots, +10 Agility, +10 Stamina, +10 Haste
Ogre Forged Hauberk: Mail Chest, +21 Agility, +9 Stamina, +9 Crit
Warpwood Binding: Mail Belt, +10 Agility, +10 Stamina, +10 Crit
Well Balanced Axe: 1H Axe, +7 Agility, +7 Stamina
Hammer of Revitalization Main Hand Mace, +5 Stamina, +12 Intellect
Ring of Demonic Potency: Ring, +7 Agility, +7 Stamina, +7 Crit
Tarnished Elven Ring: Ring, +12 Agility, +8 Hit
Counterattack Lodestone: Trinket, +14 Strength, +14 parry
Dire Maul: 1H Mace, +5 Agility, +7 Stamina, +5 Haste

The Hammer of Revitalization gets a special mention because of its damage. It doesn’t give us the best stats, but that 12 Intellect is still pretty good and the damage is higher than the other weapons listed here.

The Counterattack Lodestone should go to a tank, of course, but if they don’t want it then you might as well take it as you’re not likely to have anything especially better.

The Dire Maul is a quest reward.

Ripsaw: 1H Axe, Chance on hit: Wounds the target for 75 damage.
The Hand of Antu’sul: 1H Mace, Chance on hit: Blasts nearby enemies with thunder increasing the time between their attacks by 11% for 10 sec and doing 7 Nature damage to them. Will affect up to 4 targets.

The Hand of Antu’sul is a great weapon. It doesn’t have any stats on it, but it has solid damage and the proc on it has no cooldown, meaning when you dual wield them you can have several back-to-back procs off of all of your attacks and all of your Windfury-procced attacks as well, turning you into quite the low level AoE melee machine.

Here’s another instance with a huge loot table, so again I’m skipping non-Mail, non-Agility Armors, but including any good weapons or otherwise exceptional pieces of gear.
Cape of the Black Barron: Cloak, +9 Agility, +9 Stamina, +9 Haste
Stoneskin Gargoyle Cape: Cloak, +9 Agility, +9 Stamina, +9 Haste
Gargoyle Shredder Talons: Off Hand Fist Weapon, Chance on hit: Wounds the target causing them to bleed for 110 damage over 30 sec.
Willey’s Back Scratcher: Main Hand Fist Weapon, +6 Agility, +6 Stamina, +6 Crit
Beaststalker’s Boots: Mail Boots, +14 Agility, +23 Stamina
Crown of Tyranny: Mail Helm, +14 Agility, +14 Stamina, +14 Crit
Gauntlets of Deftness: Mail Gloves, +17 Agility, +8 Stamina, +8 Hit
Timmy’s Galoshes: Mail Boots, +11 Agility, +11 Stamina, +11 Haste
Darkspinner Claws: Mail Gloves, +9 Agility, +9 Stamina, +13 Nature Resist, +13 Shadow Resist, +9 Crit
Bone Slicing Hatchet: 1H Axe, +9 Agility, +6 Stamina, +6 Crit
Soul Breaker: 1H Axe, Chance on hit: Target enemy loses 12 health and mana every 3 sec for 30 sec.
The Cruel Hand of Timmy: 1H Mace, Chance on hit: Lowers all attributes of target by 15 for 1 min.
Idol of Brutality: Relic, +5 Agility, +5 Stamina, +5 Dodge
Ramstein’s Lightning Bolts: Trinket, +8 Hit, Use: Harness the power of lightning to strike down all enemies around you for 200 Nature damage. (5 Min Cooldown)
Balnazzar’s Hide: Cloak, +7 Agility, +10 Stamina, +7 Hit
Idol of the Paragon: Relic, +5 Agility, +5 Stamina, +5 Hit , +1 Prismatic Gem Socket
Book of the Paragon: Relic, +5 Stamina, +5 Intellect, +5 Haste, +1 Prismatic Gem Socket
Relic of the Paragon: Relic, +5 Stamina, +5 Dodge, +5 Hit, +1 Prismatic Gem Socket
Statue of the Paragon: Relic, +5 Strength, +5 Stamina, +5 Crit, +1 Prismatic Gem Socket

Balnazzar’s Hide is a quest reward, as are the four relics at the end of that list. With a sure way to get your hands on an early relic, I highly suggest you run Strath once you reach the level required to get one (Idol is the one you want, btw). Slap a Wrath level gem in that sucker for +20 Agility, +20 Hit, +20 Intellect or anything else you please.

I mention the Lightning Bolts trinket primarily because it’s additional Hit, but also because it has an AoE Lightning effect which just screams Shaman while also being interesting.

PvP Rewards
Sentinel’s Medallion: Neck, +12 Agility, +8 Stamina (45 Honor)
Highlander’s Chain Greaves: Mail Boots, +8 Agility, +17 Stamina, +8 Crit, +8% Run Speed (70 Honor)
Highlander’s Chain Girdle: Mail Belt, +10 Agility, +8 Stamina, +14 Crit (70 Honor)
Protector’s Band: Ring, +10 Strength, +9 Agility, +6 Stamina (45 Honor)

These are all the Alliance versions of the items, but there are links to the Horde version on each page.


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Call to Arms: Update

According to Wowhead there was some clarification made by Blizzard last night in regards to Call to Arms, particularly about the extra incentive reward.

The extra items and such that you get come in the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries, which is similar to the satchels you get for running random dungeons while you level. Except for one very key point – these satchels are BoA, meaning you can farm randoms on your tanking alt and send the rare mounts or pets to your main. If you get your hands on the Baron’s mount, but you’ve already got one, just send it over to another one of your alts.

There was also false information put out in relation to the flasks and elixirs. Rather than being suited to the spec of the tank/healer that you get the satchel on they will be randomly generated so that you have a variety of flasks to send to different characters (or sell on the AH if you don’t have one that can use it).

They also clarified that the drop rate of the rare mounts is going to be exactly the same as the actual mount drop rate from the bosses that drop them, which addresses one of my concerns that I hadn’t vocalized yet.

I think making these items BoA does give it a lot more potential to be successful as players will be more likely to switch to their alts when they don’t have anything pressing to do and queue up for a random at a chance to win those mounts for their main. It also has the potential to overcome the problems I mentioned yesterday about tanks getting the items they’re interested in and then not using the Dungeon Finder anymore. Being able to send them to other toons is a pretty big deal in my opinion.

As for whether or not this will help it be more than just a band-aid fix, I think this will definitely add some more longevity to it, but I’m not convinced this is the definitive answer. As far as mounts are concerned, as they’re the major draw here, I don’t know how long a series of ground mounts is really going to thrill people in a world we can now fly in, but at least they did pick some of the more sought-out mounts to use for it.

I do think that this was a big step in the right direction for being such a small change, and at this point I’m ready to kick back and watch to see how it all turns out. Making them BoA may very well encourage a large number of players to tank on their alts to win mounts for their mains, which may prove to be just the kind of response that Blizzard is looking for.


Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Patch Notes, World of Warcraft


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Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

In case you’re behind on your 4.1 information, like I was, there’s a new drama queen in town called Call to Arms. Before I get into it, lets have a look at it:

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.

Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Parrot Cage (Cockatiel), and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magisters’ Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme.

This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.

While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.

We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.

So to sum that up, tanks and healers potentially receive extra rewards for solo-queuing for random heroics. If you’re DPS then you’re basically screwed out of the deal. The rewards are some extra gold (no amount mentioned), a low chance of rare gems or flasks/elixirs suited to your spec, a good chance at receiving vanity pets, and a rare chance at a mount.

The idea is to shorten queue times for DPS by offering more rewards to the tanks and healers who are in shorter supply and in essence the reason for your DPS queue taking so freaking long. When there’s 50 of you waiting to team up with 8 of them, you’re going to have to wait your turn.

The primary point of drama on this is that it’s statistically impossible for DPS to ever get anything out of this deal, so four of the game’s ten classes which are pure DPS classes (no tank or healing spec) are given the inverted hybrid tax by never even having the option of changing spec to benefit from this. The next point of drama comes in which items are being rewarded, particularly the mounts, as people in many cases dedicated a great deal of time to farming those mounts and now people are theoretically getting them “for free”.

I love the irony in looking at my feed reader this morning looking for people who posted about Call to Arms and found that Cold had a new post on Opportunity Cost of Free Items, which applies quite well to the current situation. So remember here, DPS, they aren’t actually getting these items “for free”, they’re having to do the same content that you are. Granted, DPS get nothing but a theoretical faster queue time, but the DPS wouldn’t get anything at all if those tanks/healers hadn’t queued in the first place.

Now seems like a good time to mention that while I’m an obsessive altoholic, I am a DPS. My main during BC/Wrath was a Mage and my main right now is a Shadow Priest. Sure, I can heal on the Priest, but I suck at it and it’s not what I like or want to do on her. I do have six level 85 toons, two of which are tanks and one that’s a healer, but they don’t get any play time.

To give you a little bit of hope at least, this does give me at least a small stirring of interest in actually playing my Paladin again. I don’t think I’ll bother taking my healers out, but I might do some tanking for another chance at that stupid Baron’s mount that I’ve tried to farm over 300 times and still never even seen it drop.

Visible Problems
The major problem with the system is that it doesn’t actually address the issue of queue times, it simply puts a band-aid on it that will last for a short while and then fall off as the PUG tanks claim the items they want and then stop queuing. Several people have written about problems they see with the system, but the one that I felt was the best read without being over the top ranty or dismissive was Kurn with Why Bribery Won’t Help – Much.

There are always new toons to be leveled and new players joining the game, so the tank and healing pools do get refreshed all the time, but it’s not like every tank out there is going to spend a few hours in LFG every night for the next two years. Basically, the pool is going to constantly dwindle down even though it won’t disappear completely, but we will eventually get back to the point where we are right now.

Another good post I saw on the matter came from Thisius at DoTs and ‘Locks who pointed out that the real issue with people not wanting to queue as tanks and heals is more often the actual community, the people running with them that feed them nothing but criticism and insults or who do stupid crap to make their jobs harder and thus turn them off of tanking all together or at least turn them off of using LFG as opposed to guild runs. Though I would expand the suggestion of giving the tank the ability to kick people to instead give it to whichever of the tank/healer it is that got the Call.

For many people this band-aid will work great for the time that it’s useful, and then things will slide back to how they are right now once all of the special items have been collected. Eventually those tanks and healers are going to get the pets and mounts they want and then they’ll have no more reason to bother with heroics. Not to mention they’ve likely ran enough of them in trying to get those mounts that they’ve got every possible gear upgrade twice over.

Going back to Thisius’s post, we may very well see even more bad attitudes in LFG thanks to this once the dungeon is finished and the DPS see the tank score a rare mount. While some people like myself might congratulate the tank on their new mount, this may very well piss off the DPS to the point that they become dickish where perhaps they weren’t before. And I’m sure you’ll have tanks/healers that will flaunt it and do their best to piss you off even if you didn’t mind before. Just keep in mind that this particular problem is with the players, not something Blizzard has or hasn’t done.

Hidden Issues
This is where I go ahead and turn the tables a little bit to point out some of the things that not everybody thinks about or is aware of. And for this I’m going to quote one of my friends on twitter, @Feisttherogue, “Fact: the DPS role in WoW has the highest skill cap, fiercest competition, and most objectively measurable performance. The new system takes those players most able to ensure a new tank or healer succeeds OUT of the system, by denying them incentives. All while making it easier for those least prepared to take part to flood the matchmaking system and lower the quality of everyone’s run.”

It’s a simple truth that you cannot get through dungeons at the proper character/gear level without a tank and healer. They are vital roles and even more vital at this early point in the expansion. But good DPS is just as vital and potentially even more so with the recent changes to healing. The point here is that every single person in that group plays an important part in the outcome of any dungeon run. If you don’t have the DPS then those bosses aren’t going down. If you don’t have a tank then your healer’s going to die, and if you don’t have a healer then you’re all going to die. Round and round we go, everyone does their job and we all win, do it not and we all fail.

Feist makes an excellent point here that many people don’t understand or don’t take the time to consider. A somewhat poor tank can still perform well overall if the DPS can throttle their agro and use CC, and if the healer knows how to work within their mana budget, and a somewhat poor healer can still keep everyone alive if the tank is especially good or well geared and your DPS are strong enough to kill the mobs before they pose a major threat and can avoid unnecessary damage like standing in bad stuff. Tanks and healers can’t compensate for fail DPS, though.

So there’s the biggest “hidden” issue, that we’re denying rewards to what are potentially the most important factor in overall success/failure. In defense of this particular problem, at least Blizzard made the rewards mostly vanity items and that all of them can be obtained outside of the Call to Arms system. But, I think they would be better served by giving additional rewards to those dealing with the long queues than by giving them to those with instant queues.

My Thoughts
I applaud Blizzard in acknowledging that there’s a problem and making steps to overcome it. I don’t think this system is the answer, but it will serve as a decent short term band-aid. As a DPS, I really don’t care what rewards other people get if it really does result in shorter queues for me.

Blizzard, “..the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.” They hope to accomplish that by rewarding tanks and healers to speed up queues for DPS. I haven’t sat down long enough to say “this” is what they should have done, as it will work better because of x, y and z. I have thought about it and gotten a couple of ideas, but I haven’t sat to think about the drawbacks of those suggestions.

I think they could better address the issue of gearing if they simply increased the amount of DPS gear that dropped. My point really is that rather than rewarding tanks and healers for queuing, they should reward DPS for enduring the longer queue times. Granted, that might make some tanks/healers queue as DPS instead, thus lengthening the queues, but at least it’s more directed at the real problem which is gearing up DPS.

By giving the DPS more gear you’re potentially addressing both issues at once. If you drop more DPS gear in dungeons then the DPS get geared faster and then stop running LFG because they already have the gear they need from them, thus lessening the DPS pool and increasing queue rates for the others. If you reward more Justice Points to the DPS then those who can spec into a tank/healing role are more likely to do so once they’ve earned the points to purchase their gear to fill that other role. Pure DPS of course wouldn’t benefit from it beyond purchasing heirlooms or professions mats, but Pure DPS are used to being screwed like that as their reward is (supposedly) higher DPS values than Hybrid DPS. Not that I’m justifying the screwing of the pures, that’s a whole other blog post all it’s own.

Like I said, I don’t think this is a bad short term fix for the issue at hand, but I don’t think it’s worth anywhere near the amount of drama that it’s caused so far. I do think that this is the wrong approach overall though, I feel that the DPS should be more rewarded for their longer queues instead of giving even more rewards to those with already near instant queues. I wouldn’t mind giving an extra 10 minutes to the queue if it meant I was going to get extra items, though I also wouldn’t mind cutting 10 minutes off of my queue if it meant someone else gets extra items.

[EDIT: Forgot the section below.]
Speculative Problem
What most people are speculating will happen is that people will stay in their DPS gear, swap over to a tank/healing spec, and expect you to carry them through the dungeon so that they can get their freebies while you do all of the work. I can see some people trying to do this, I certainly wouldn’t put it beyond some of the players I’ve seen in my day, but this kind of reaction always provokes and eyeroll from me.

This situation is just like any other – there’s potential for both bad and good. There are dicks in the world, the system will be abused. But, there are still plenty of good players out there who will take advantage of the system as well. We all have different experiences with different aspects of this game, we find parts that we love and parts that we hate. We can both do the exact same content, maybe even in the same guild/group, and both come to different conclusions as to how enjoyable it was or was not. My experience with LFG for example has been very positive; I don’t run into morons or dickheads very often, but it does still happen even to me. Other people have had little-to-no good experiences in LFG at all and refuse to use it.

The fact is you’re not going to get a decent supply of good new tanks and healers if they’re never given an opportunity to try it out and succeed. Some of them are going to fail, you’ll have tanks that leveled in a DPS spec and have mostly DPS gear, but they’re working towards getting a decent set of tank gear and they’re looking for some practice. With any luck they’ll start in non-heroics, but some of them will not. The same applies to healers, of course.

Keep in mind that with the stat changes in Cataclysm it is significantly easier for someone who doesn’t have “tank” gear to step into the tanking role because Defense no longer exists as a stat. He’s probably lacking some Stamina and his avoidance stats could probably use some help as well, but his DPS gear will also give him better threat generation (in theory) so at least the healer should be able to focus primarily on him. Most of the healers (non-Paladin) can make a fairly smooth transition from DPS spec to healing spec while still using their caster DPS gear.

That doesn’t really get across the point I was trying to make…

Alright, let me put it this way – don’t jump to extreme conclusions. Yes, it’s going to happen, but you’re not going to have DPS-tanks in every single heroic you ever run. If you only run a handful, then yeah you might have a handful of them and thus assume that they’re all like that, but that’s just your particular experience up to that point. Give the little guy a chance before you shoot him in the head and leave his body to rot, he just might grow up to surprise you.


Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Patch Notes, World of Warcraft


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