April 10, 2009

Fixing your Hunter's dps

There are a lot of factors that play a part in making up your damage output: your gear, your talents, your gems and enchants, your glyphs, your ammo, your consumables, your shot rotation, your pet, your pet's talents, and even your latency and frame rate. Today I'd like to spend some time talking about all the pieces that make up the Hunter dps puzzle and offer some ways to help you figure out where you might be going wrong. After all, we've all had those nights where our numbers just weren't what we were expecting, and it's important to know how to identify the problem so you can find a solution.

Before you can start problem solving, you need to have all the information available to you at your fingertips. It's hard to know what went wrong without knowing what actually happened, after all! Raiding Hunters -- in fact, all raiders -- should have a means of going back and reviewing their combat logs. WoW Web Stats and WoW Meter Online are two great resources to help you parse your combat log and make sense of what happened during a fight. However, before you can make use of one or both of these services, you have to know how (and remember!) to record your combat log. To record your combat log, you can type /combatlog manually into chat, or you can automate the process through an addon called Loggerhead. When you install Loggerhead, you can configure it to automatically record your combat log any time you're in a particular zone, and it will save your logs to your hard drive automaticlly for you so you can refer to them later.

Now that you know how to collect the information you need, let's talk about all the pieces that make up the whole. There are three major aspects that make up your damage output: your character, your pet, and your hardware performance. For your Hunter alone there are many variables that contribute to your dps.

First, it's hard to overestimate the impact gear can have on your performance. Everyone knows that having the "best" gear is important, but not everyone knows what the best gear is or how to get it. There are tons of resources available to you to help you figure out what your next upgrade is and where it's coming from. Start with the Armory and use the "Find an Upgrade" feature to give you a point of reference to start from. Be Imba! is another great site to help you gauge your character's strength. By now, you should already know what stats to focus on: Hit, Agility, Attack Power, Intellect and Crit. Once you've got a list of possible upgrades, check out WoWHead's item comparison tool to get a side-by-side glance at your items to help you decide which might be the best for you. Alternatively, you can also use various dps spreadsheets, like Shandara's Spreadsheet from Elitist Jerks, to help you find potential upgrades. You can also use sites like CharDev or Warcrafter to preview items and gear sets before going to the effort of actually farming items to see if the items you've found will really be an upgrade as a whole.

Once you've got the best items you can, it's important to make sure you're getting the most out of them. Make sure your items are properly gemmed and enchanted! If you're not sure what gems or enchants to look for, there are guides for both. The key is to look for gems and enchants that have the same stats you look for on your gear: Hit (if you're still below the cap), Agility, Attack Power, and Crit. If you can, make use of socket bonuses to give yourself an extra boost. Likewise, it's important to make sure you're always making use of consumables, and that you're using the right ones! There's a guide for that, too.

If you're trying to min/max, having the optimum talent spec is important. Currently, a 51-point Survival build that makes use of Explosive Shot is considered the best raiding spec, but patches and class changes often change what we consider to be "the best" spec, so it's important to pay close attention to patch notes. At the moment, this 6/14/51 Survival build, or slight variations thereof, is considered the best for raiding. Make sure your talents closely resemble this build and you should be fine.

With your character taken care of, you can focus on the other pieces of the dps puzzle. For the best damage output, you should always bring a Ferocity pet to raids. Currently, cats or raptors are considered the best pets for overall damage output, and most theorycrafters recommend a Ferocity build similar to this one. With your choice of pet talents taken care of, it's important to note that pet management in a raid environment is equally important. After all, dead pets deal no damage! Make sure you're pulling your pet out of harmful AoE effects and healing them sufficiently when appropriate. If your pet dies, it's important to resurrect them so they can get back into the fight. The damage output lost during the few seconds it takes to resurrect your pet is worth the dps you'll get back once your pet is alive again, so keep an eye on your furry companion!

Next, it's important to pay close attention to your shot rotation as that's another major factor in determining your dps. While in some cases a shot rotation macro can be beneficial, it's usually recommended to use a manual rotation that will allow you more control so you can adapt easily to changes during a fight. For Survival Hunters, Explosive Shot should make up roughly 30-35% of your overall damage, giving it a prominent place in your rotation. Second, Auto Shot should make up roughly 22-26% of your overall damage, and Steady Shout should come in at about 12-15%. Remember to keep Serpent Sting active throughout the fight! You want to aim for at least 90% up-time to get the most mileage out of it. Beyond that, don't forget to utilize Kill Shot where appropriate, and use Aimed Shot to fill any gaps in your rotation if you're got it. Don't forget to use your trinkets and cooldowns (such as Rapid Fire) as well! Efficient aspect swapping also plays a part in the effectiveness of your rotation, so keep a close eye on your aspects and your mana bar.

Finally, your hardware and computer performance can also play a major role in your damage output. Don't underestimate the affect that high latency and/or low frame rates can have on your damage output! While there's little you can do to improve your latency, there's a lot you can do to help improve your frame rate. If you've got cash to spare, investing in better hardware is a wise choice if you're looking for optimal performance, no matter what game you may be playing. If you're on a tight budget, there are still some things you can do to help get that frame rate up. Typically, anything higher than 200-300ms latency will begin to affect your performance, and likewise anything lower than 20-30fps frame rate will cause your dps to suffer.

If you're suffering from low frame rates, make sure you're closing any unnecessary background programs before launching the game. Also, make sure you're not playing in Windowed mode! Playing in Full-screen mode will, surpringinly, up your frame rate considerably. Additionally, make sure you're keeping your addons folder cleaned out regularly and get rid of any addons you're not using, as they can hog a lot of system resources and thus bring down your frame rate. If you're still experiencing less than ideal frame rates, start paring down on the number of addons you've got installed, even if some of them are "necessary". For example, get rid of Recount and Auctioneer! These two addons are major resource hogs, and there are better alternatives. In Recount's case, the addon becomes unnecessary when you start using services like WWS and WMO to review your logs. In the cast of Auctioneer, think about switchign to AuctionLite, or at the very least disable Auctioneer on any of your raiding toons and restrict it to loading only on a banking alt, for example.

Once you understand all the pieces of the puzzle, it becomes much easier to make sense of what you're seeing when you parse your combat logs, and once you can identify the problem, finding the solution becomes just a matter of identifying which puzzle piece was missing. I've found that keeping a checklist handy helps me when I go back and review logs:

Did I have my best items equipped? Did I bring the best ammo? Did I use consumables? Was my rotation what it should have been? Did my pet die a lot? What was my latency? What was my frame rate? All of these things play a part, and it's important to take note of all of them each time you step into a raid zone. If you need to, keep a notebook handy each time you raid. Create and date an entry for each raid, note your frame rate and latency, make sure you've got the right ammo and trinkets equipped, and jot down any other details you think might be important to remember when you go back and review your logs. Fixing your dps when you think something's amiss is just a matter of having information available to you.

Five tips for inventory management

So I've been leveling an alt lately (yes, despite the fact that it makes my skin crawl a little bit, I've been leveling a Paladin so I can tank and heal with dual specs when they show up), and my biggest problem isn't the XP, since Blizzard has nerfed the leveling time so much. It's not the quests, either -- between Questhelper and having done the 1-60 jig five or six times before, I'm all set for quests now. Nope, it's managing my inventory -- I'm questing so quickly that the biggest problem I have is just keeping bag space open.

So here's a few tips I've picked up along the way. Even if you're not leveling, maybe some of these will help. And I'm sure there are plenty of great ways to make sure your bags are clear that I haven't discovered yet (I know for a fact that there are plenty of addons out there that I haven't had an interest in yet) -- feel free to share your own tips in the comments below.

1. Sell the junk (even if you think it's not junk). The quickest way to clear out some inventory is to run to a vendor and just start selling. It can be a tough decision sometimes in both ways: I tend to want to keep things because I have a base packrat tendency as it is, and I always know there's a use somewhere for even the cheapest junk: maybe some Shaman will want that Fish Oil! But the fact is that you have to be kind of ruthless when clearing out the bags -- sell the grays (there are addons that will help with this, though I haven't used any), sell the whites unless you know there's a market for them, and I often even sell the greens -- while die-hard AHers will say you can always make more than vendor for AH on green items, I'm just not patient enough to keep posting (along with the fee that goes with it) until the items sell for a gold or two more than they would for a vendor. Yes, maybe that's why I've never been able to buy a Traveler's Tundra mount, but especially in these days of level 80 dailies and the gold you can earn from them, the bag space is worth more to me than the pennies I'd earn otherwise. If you really can't bear to sell things to a vendor, then...

2. Get a bank alt, and use it for everything. Bank alts are awesome for freeing up bag space. My Paladin is a Miner and an Engineer, and all the ore and Engie doodads that I collect go straight back to my bank alt until I need them again. Given that mail between alts is almost instant and super cheap, there's no reason you can't have a dedicated alt standing by the mailbox in Ironforge or Org with a bank of its own running all of your main's equipment. If you really want to go all out, you can use a character that's already at a relatively high level, and powerlevel their enchanting high enough that they can disenchant all of those greens and make some real money. Just make sure to deck them out nice so everyone knows what they're there for.

3. Gear up right. The number one investment you can make in your character, no matter what class or spec or level you are, is more bag space. Buying bigger bags is always worth it -- if you can fill up that one extra bag slot with something you can see for a few g on the Auction House, your bag will pay for itself within a few hours of leveling or grinding. And don't forget profession bags -- while they have some weird requirements (why don't jewels fit into my Mammoth Mining Bag again?), they're almost always worth it, especially while leveling or grinding for a profession (and when you're done with them, put them in your bank and have them hold profession stuff there). We're also lucky, because we're playing in the time of the Gnomish Army Knife -- if you can afford one or if you have an alt or guildie who's willing to make one for you, pick it up early and use it often. On my Miner/Engineer, that thing saves five slots of my bag space.

4. Organize! Everyone has their bags set up different. Unfortunately, Blizzard still hasn't implemented my bag naming idea yet, but you know you how you like your inventory set up -- I like to keep oft-used permanent items like tools and food in my backpack, extra and off-spec gear in my second bag, crafting mats in my third, and empty space out from there. Everyone has their own scheme for organizing, but as long as you have a scheme that works, stick to it, and you'll be able to not only find things when you need them (I keep my potions on the action bars, but occassionally I'll forget to drag the healthstone over and have to dive into my bags to grab it before I'm killed during a raid), but you'll know when things are out of place that need to go elsewhere.

5. Regular maintenance is better than emergency cleaning. This is one I'm still bad on -- in fact, I know I've forgotten to fly back and train up for the past few even levels I've hit. If you stop by a vendor and clean things up every time you're in town, then you'll be better off when you do start picking up lots of junk. Keep an eye out for quest items, especially -- I tend to turn in quests that I picked up a while ago, leaving one weird spot in a strange place in my bag that then gets filled up with vendor trash that I miss over time. Addons like Onebag can help with this as well, but really, the more organized your bags are and the more time you take to make sure they're in order, the less chance you'll end up having full bags when you really need to pick up that quest item.

Argent Tournament Dailies: Jack Me Some Lumber

Jack Me Some Lumber is one of the first daily quests you'll encounter upon arriving at the Argent Tournament. Neither of them have any impact on the tournament itself, so they can be skipped if you so choose. They only award gold, no reputation or items, so avoiding them won't hinder your progress through the Tournament content whatsoever. However, the gold is pretty good and the quests are quick, so if it's gold you want then it's gold you'll get.

What's going on in these quests, you ask? Well, the Argent Crusade has outsourced the construction of their coliseum to the Goblins. I don't think I need to elaborate on how catastrophically dumb that is, do I? If you want to help these Goblins strip Northrend of its many natural treasures, just talk to Bezzle Blastbolt and his brother Bozzle Blastbolt. The latter of the two offers A Chip Off the Ulduar Block which we will discuss another time.

So what do you need to do here? Accept the quest, fly out to the western portion of Crystalsong Forest, just north of the Violet Stand. You'll find yourself in amongst a load of trees, as you'll see in the picture at the top of this article. Ask yourself, "One of these things is not like the other things. One of these just doesn't belong! Can you guess which thing is not like the other things before we finish this song?"

Yes, the green trees tossed in with all of the purples, pinks and oranges is what you're looking for. Waltz up to the green ones, use the saw that the Blastbolt Brothers supplied, and stand back! You need to cut the right trees down until you have a total of 12 Hewn Planks. You get two planks per tree.

You lop the tree over, a little treant spirit pops out for you to kill, and all is right in the world again. After six trees, you're done. That's it. Go collect your reward.

Your Reward: 13gold 23silver at level 80

April 9, 2009

WotLK 3.1.0 Profession Changes - UPDATED

Patch 3.1.0 is now available on the PTR downloader. Below you can find the list of changes related to professions.

March 14, 2009 - The post is updated with all of the latest changes.


  • Blackmouth Oil and Fire Oil no longer require a vial.
  • Increased the health granted by the Flask of Stoneblood.
  • The Mercurial Stone is no longer required as a tool for alchemists. It is instead a green quality bind-on-equip trinket.
  • Elixir of Greater Spellpower now grants spell power to all schools of magic.
  • The Crazy Alchemist Potion is now correctly increased by Alchemist Stones.
  • You can now sometimes find Alchemist's Caches from bosses in Ulduar. Only players with an Alchemy skill of 425 or higher can loot these secret caches.


  • Most of the recipes in the 1-300 skill range of blacksmithing have had their stats updated to be more useful.
  • Added a new recipe for the Titansteel Spellblade.
  • Titanium Plating now reduces the duration of disarm effects by 50% as well as increasing your block value.
  • Added a new recipe for the Titansteel Spellblade, an epic one-handed caster dagger, available from trainers.
  • Added new recipes for epic gear, found rarely on Ulduar bosses. These recipes are unbound and can be traded.


  • Grub now sells the Dig Rat Stew recipe to players who completed the quest.
  • Prospector Khazgorm, found in Bael Modan in southern Barrens, now sells the recipe for Dig Rat Stew to the Alliance.
  • A new recipe has been added to cooking trainers for making Black Jelly, using several Borean Man 'O War as ingredients. While it looks disgusting, it restores more health and mana than the highest level food.
  • Flint and Tinder is no longer necessary for creating a campfire. You're just that resourceful!
  • Ingredients such as Spices, Apples, and the like have been removed from most cooking recipes.
  • Players no longer need to complete the Clamlette Surprise quest to gain Artisan cooking. The quest now offers the unique recipe, Clamlette Magnifique. If you already completed the quest, you can visit Dirge Quickcleave in Gadgetzan to learn this recipe (for free).
  • Several Northrend recipes were given greater skill up ranges to make it easier to reach 450 cooking skill.
  • You no longer need to learn cooking from books. The trainers have finally done their reading and are able to teach you the same thing.


  • Added a recipe for enchanting staves with spell power.
  • Greatly increased the drop rate of recipes found in pre-Lich King dungeons and raids.
  • Several recipes in the 250-300 skill range have been rebalanced, and the reagent requirements have been reduced.
  • Some enchants now have level restrictions. Note: the enchant is never removed from the item to which it's applied, however, the player no longer receives its benefit until they reach the required level. Any enchants modified in this way have had their tooltips updated.
  • The enchanting interface now correctly sorts grey recipes by skill difficulty.


  • Added a new Reticulated Armor Webbing engineering enchant that increases the armor on plate gloves.
  • Added a new Springy Arachnoweave engineering enchant that grants passive spell power in addition to turning your cloak into a parachute.
  • Flexweave Underlay now grants passive agility in addition to its normal effect.
  • Nitro Boosts now grant passive critical strike rating in addition to their speed boost.
  • Nitro Boosts now make you drop PVP flags when used, as well as preventing you from picking them up while the effect is active.


  • A new (and very rare) special mount can now be caught from Northrend fishing pools.
  • A new clam, the Giant Darkwater Clam, can be obtained by fishing in Wintergrasp. This mighty clam has a greatly increased chance to drop pearls, and yields up to five times the regular amount of clam meat.
  • New fishing dailies are now offered from Marcia Chase in Dalaran City!
  • Players are no longer required to do the Nat Pagle, Angler Extreme quest to gain Artisan fishing. The quest now offers a special superior-quality fishing pole instead. If you already completed the quest, you can visit Nat Pagle in Dustwallow Marsh to receive this new fishing pole.
  • The time needed to catch fish has been reduced.
  • You can now fish anywhere, regardless of skill. Every catch has the potential for fishing skill gains, but you are likely to catch worthless junk in areas that are too difficult for your skill.
  • You can now fish in Wintergrasp, and the fishin' is good!
  • You no longer need to learn fishing from books. The trainers have finally done their reading and are able to teach you the same thing.

Gathering Skills

  • Toughness, Master of Anatomy, and Lifeblood now have level requirements equal to the level required for the corresponding skill rank: Apprentice (1), Journeyman (1), Expert (10), Artisan (25), Master (40), Grand Master (55).
  • You can no longer fail when Mining, Herbing, and Skinning.


  • Added a recipe to trainers for creating a level 70 superior-quality off-hand item.
  • Added a recipe for creating a different level 70 superior-quality off-hand item. Scribes will find the recipe is dropped from residents of Silverbrook.
  • Added around 50 new glyph recipes. These new recipes can be obtained from Books of Glyph Mastery found as world drops on Northrend monsters. Reading a Book of Glyph Mastery randomly discovers one of the newly-added recipes.
  • Glyph icons have been updated so it is easy to distinguish between classes.
  • Players will now learn 3 recipes the very first time they perform Northrend Inscription Research. This does not apply to players who have already discovered recipes from Northrend Inscription Research (sorry).


  • Find Herbs no longer tracks Glowcaps.
  • Northrend herbs now yield more herbs on average.
  • The herbalism requirement for gathering Tiger Lily has been reduced to 375.
  • The time it takes to gather herbs has been reduced.


  • Added a new recipe to cut black diamonds.
  • Added a recipe for Shifting Twilight Opal to the daily jewelcrafting vendor.
  • Added recipes for superior-quality PVP rings and necklaces to Northrend jewelcrafting trainers.


  • Shadowskin Gloves and Dusky Boots no longer require Shadowcat Hide to create, but instead require an equal quantity of Shadow Silk. Shadowcat Hides can no longer be obtained from skinning.
  • Added a recipe for combining Borean Leather Scraps into Borean Leather. You can still use Borean Scraps from your inventory to combine them.
  • Added new recipes for epic gear, found rarely on Ulduar bosses. These recipes are unbound and can be traded.
  • Several lower-level items crafted by leatherworkers have received major changes to make them more appealing.


  • Northrend deposits now despawn 1 minute after mining them. This change was made to speed up respawning when nodes were partially looted.


  • Added new recipes for epic gear, found rarely on Ulduar bosses. These recipes are unbound and can be traded.
  • Added recipes for superior-quality PVP cloaks to Northrend tailoring trainers.
  • The Lightweave tailoring enchant now sometimes grants a temporary spell power bonus instead of dealing direct damage to your target.
  • Several lower-level items crafted by tailors have received major changes to make them more appealing.

April 8, 2009

Dedicated dual wield tree for Death Knights a possibility

A few days ago, Bornakk responded to yet another thread regarding dual wielding for Death Knights. I read it, shrugged, moved on with life, but I found myself digging up the thread again because I started to warm up to the idea Bornakk put forth: They're considering (that's the key word here) "something like making the frost tree the dual-wield tree" and letting the strikes hit with both weapons like Mutilate and Stormstrike.

Bornakk says balancing both Dual Wielding and 2Handers in each talent tree has been exceptionally challenging, and I think we've seen that firsthand. Talents aimed for one build make their way into another, and things quickly get out of hand. Turning one of the trees specifically into the Dual Wielding tree (whether it be Frost or Unholy or whatever) is something I can get behind, even if it runs counter to what they've been trying to do with the talent trees since the Wrath beta.

Allowing all three talent trees to tank and DPS depending on point allocation isn't that much of a stretch, but I think that trying to make them great tanking trees, dual wielding trees, and 2H trees does stretch things a little thin. Having one dedicated Dual Wield tree along with dedicated 2Hander trees would probably make the individual specs stronger overall in the long run.

I admit that it would probably suck to be the Death Knight that loves the 2Handed Frost play style and gets that pulled out from under them because it became the dual wield tree, but I still can't help but feel it would be better for the overall design of the class. Assuming they can keep Dual Wielding and using a 2Hander roughly equal as far as DPS goes, anyway.

Ghostcrawler respondes to balance questions

Our buddy Ghostcrawler has appeared on the forums answering (or re-answering, as he says) a few concerns about the balance of the game. Most of his answer is about PvP: he says that Death Knights and Holy Pallies are overpowered, but that while Blizzard does believe there are more imbalances, debate is still raging about exactly where they are. And he does say that while burst damage is still a concern, he feels that Blizzard did a lot to combat that when they started Season 5, and that the bigger concern now is getting mana pools under control. Too many fights now have healers just going and going, and while they don't want fights to end super fast, they can't all drag out, either.

He also talks more in-depth about the balance between gear you can get from PvP and PvE and how it needs to be fixed: he straight out says that 25-man Naxx is too easy to PuG, and agrees that Ulduar and future PvP weapons "should ideally require the same amount of investment." Likewise, when Blizzard tried to reset the resilience stacking at the start of Season 5, they had players facing very powerful weapons from the PvE raids like Kel'thuzad, which lead to, as he says, "a perfect storm for fast Arena deaths." Which is probably why so many players left the Arenas.

The plan for the future? Ulduar's hard modes will be way tougher than Heroic Naxx, so players won't be able to PuG PvE and then go kill in PvP right away. Of course Death Knights are still cruising for a nerfing, if patch 3.1 doesn't bring them down off their high Deathcharger. And GC suggests that in the future, starter PvP gear may beef up resilience at the cost of offensive stats, so that players don't begin with gear that has great defense and offense right away.

Argent Tournament dailies: The Edge of Winter

All of the Argent Tournament competitors want to best their rivals, and the best way to do that is (clearly) to grab some mythical weapons and bash their heads in. In this case, you're after the Edge of Winter, a mythical blade held safe by the Maiden of Winter's Breath Lake ... but not for yourself, of course. You don't need any kind of special advantage to compete.

The first thing you'll want to do is head to Crystalsong Forest, near the entrance of the Crystal Vice.

Keep an eye out for a fire revenant named Lord Everblaze. He's patrolling the bluff above the Crystal Vice and the spot is marked with a bunch of flaming torches.

Kill homeboy, grab his Everburning Ember, and head to Winter's Breath Lake in northwest Howlin' Fjord! You'll see an ice floe near the lake's north bank.

Land there and target the conspicuously-frozen dryad, then use your Everburning Ember to set her free! In her gratitude, she'll give you the Edge of Winter, which, good independent contractor you are, you can bring back to your client for your reward.

Reward: 2 Valiant's Seals, 13g 23s

Ulduar class preview

Hail and well met, Druids. For the next three Shifting Perspectives columns, I'm going to take a look at Druid class roles on Ulduar fights. If patch 3.1 hits earlier than expected (I'm currently betting that it hits in late April/early May), I'll try to squeeze these in a little bit faster than once per week. But with luck (and, I hope, a parade of annoying bugs for Blizzard to hunt down and squash before they let the patch go live), we should have some information to chew on before we set foot in a live Ulduar.

Now watch Blizzard deploy the frickin' patch next week.

I have not gotten the opportunity to test all of these fights personally because I'm only on the North American PTR, and some fights -- like Yogg-Saron -- haven't been available for testing at all. What I write here is going to be a compilation of personal experience, details concerning boss abilities available on the PTR version of Wowhead, information I've gotten from pestering various people on both PTR's, and news available around the web, principally from WoW Insider's previous PTR testing, Wowwiki, MMO Champion, and World of Raids. Bear in mind that some things here may wind up being very different when Ulduar actually goes live, so take numbers and conjecture here with a grain of salt. I'm going to assume that basic boss mechanics are likely to remain the same or similar, so let's get started with the first three encounters.

As a general note concerning this instance, Blizzard knocked it out of the park design-wise. A lot of time went into Ulduar and it shows; it's a gorgeous raid. I was so enthralled by the scenery that I spent a good hour just running around the place while my poor guild leader was occupied trying to track down which guildie had what name on the PTR. Unfortunately, my opportunities for screenshots during actual fights were few and far between (my computer lags a little while screenshotting, which isn't a good idea while trying to learn a fight), so most of the pictures you'll see in this series were not taken during boss encounters.


This isn't a fight where class abilities will really wind up playing a serious role. Most of your time will be spent in vehicles blasting the living snot out of everything that moves, or looks like it's thinking about moving, or even if it's not moving anymore and you just need more explosions in your life.

If you're a DPS or a healer in a Salvaged Demolisher, however, at some point you'll probably need to get your ass into a catapult for the Throw Passenger ability (side note: best ability name ever, and I think Blizzard should use that instead of the mealymouthed "ask (passenger) to leave" option you get on the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth, because sales would triple) to go destroy one of the Leviathan's four turrets. Once the turret is down, you can Overload Circuit to stun the Leviathan, causing it to take extra damage from player vehicles, so just be aware of this if you're a Cat/Boomkin/Tree.

A lot of the current difficulty of the fight lies with people learning how to use the different vehicles and their abilities on the fly, but it's not too difficult to figure out with a bit of practice. My guild was able to 15-man the 25-man version down to about 60% health with a lot of people completely new to the fight in the single attempt we got before Ulduar was shut down that night.
Regardless of spec, root around your inventory and bank for the highest i-level gear you've got in order to improve your vehicles' health (which is currently how item level affects vehicular "scaling" -- we haven't observed a damage bonus from better i-level gear, but the extra health helps a lot). Are you Balance but you've got, say, a Journey's End sitting in your bank? Pack it.

As an additional side note, this one fight temporarily turns WoW into a third-person shooter and is an awful lot of fun, although it may also give you the opportunity to discover that you are terrible at third-person shooters.


From what I've seen, the biggest deal on this fight for Balance and Resto will be not casting while Ignis is charging up his Flame Jets ability. Flame Jets is a 2.7-second cast that deals fire damage to the raid while tossing players into the air, with an additional 8-second silence penalty if you were in the middle of casting something when it hit. This will be a slightly bigger problem for Resto with the 3.1 changes pushing direct heals, and because you typically won't have Ignis targeted, but in general the penalty should still be easy to avoid. /Focus Ignis, make sure you have options enabled through the default UI or your mods to see enemy cast bars, and try to have Wild Growth and Swiftmend off cooldown immediately afterward. You should reasonably expect that a lot of players learning this fight will suffer the 8-second silence, and with three insta-cast heals we are much better placed to deal with this than Paladins and Shamans.

Balance players will also have to be vigilant about not getting caught casting when the Flame Jets ability hits (8 seconds is a huge DPS loss), and may want to take the opportunity while tossed in the air to refresh Insect Swarm or Moonfire (if this is possible, and on early versions of the fight I don't believe it was). Ranged DPS will probably be dealing with the adds that Ignis spawns -- more on this in a moment.

Bears should expect to keep Ignis turned away from the raid at all times in order to avoid his frontal cone ability, Scorch, hitting anyone but themselves. Scorch will leave a 3-K per tick fire damage slick in its wake, and you should rotate or move the boss in order to avoid this area. If you're offtanking the Iron Constructs that Ignis will spawn at various intervals, you'll want to drag them up and down the Scorch slick until the Construct turns Molten (It should be possible to position the Construct in such a way that you can strafe outside of the slick while keeping the Construct within it), at which point it can be dragged into nearby water. It will turn Brittle and can be easily killed, removing the 20% damage buff Ignis gains each time a Construct is active. As of the mid-March version of this fight, PTR forum posters claimed you couldn't afford to have more than two Constructs up at a time before Ignis started treading into "one-shot-the-MT" territory, so with a little napkin math I think that means you can realistically expect his melee damage to have been buffed to somewhere in the region of 15-25K with a corresponding increase to Scorch as well.

For Cat DPS, I will tentatively say that this is a melee-friendly fight, at least in the sense that you are functionally immune to the silence from Flame Jets and are likely to be on Ignis for the duration of the fight. Because Constructs will probaby have to be kited on the live version of this fight, it makes a lot more sense for ranged DPS to handle them as they're not likely to suffer any damage from Scorch's AoE.

If you're the target of Slag Pot, all Druids regardless of spec should pop Barkskin and Bear Form as quickly as possible (if it's possible -- and if you're Resto, you may just want to stay in Tree and heal yourself).


Remember Skadi from Utgarde Pinnacle? This fight is kind of like Skadi, but with a bunch of Dwarves running around repairing the harpoon launchers and shouting, "I canna go any faster, cap'n! I've given her all Ah've got!" Well, not really, but it would be amazing if they did. There's also a touch of Shade of Akama and Illidan to this fight, as:

a). A lot of the encounter will be spent handling adds while Razorscale flies around.

b). You'll have a lot of AoE to avoid from Razorscale's air phase.

c). You'll need to spread out once you get Razorscale to land, and:

d). She'll take additional damage harpooned and stunned.

The story is that in Phase 1 you've got to keep the adds off the Dwarves, who will fix the launchers so you can get the maddened drake harpooned and weakened and Queequeg will sacrifice himself in an act of incredible valiance to -- dammit, no more Moby Dick for me this week. In Phase 2, Razorscale hits the deck and it's a DPS race to see how far you can knock her health down before she takes off again. From what I've read on World of Raids, at 35% health she's on the ground for good.

Restoration's role should be pretty straightforward, pending more information on add abilities and damage. Yell at the raid to spread the hell out on phase 2 once Razorscale lands, because healers should not under any circumstances have to deal with the splash damage from Devouring Flame. Be prepared for Flame Buffet to increase Flame Breath damage on the main tank significantly.

Bears on main-tank duty should keep Razorscale turned away from the raid in Phase 2 at all times to keep Flame Breath from hitting anyone but themselves, and be prepared to pop a cooldown or a health potion for Flame Breath if necessary. Bears on off-tank duty will get the chance to see how well the new Swipe mechanic works at picking up adds. I want to say pretty well, and the increased damage from Feral Faerie Fire should help out a lot here too on single-target snap aggro, but I still don't know what the adds' spawn pattern or frequency is like.

Moonkin may or may not get a chance to DPS Razorscale herself while she's in the air; from reports I've seen, she is within range of ranged DPS at times and you may be able to spare a few players to put some damage on her before she gets harpooned. I do not know whether or not she's tauntable, however; if she is, this is a viable tactic, and if she isn't, it's a no-go. Otherwise, consider yourself an add nuker on Phase 1 but save your trinkets and cooldowns for Phase 2. Ideally you want to get her to 35% as quickly as possible.

Cats, by contrast, are out of luck on Phase 1 Razorscale damage no matter what -- she'll never be in range. Your job is DPS the adds down and chortle at how much damage you can get out of Swipe. For Phase 2, make sure you have Feral Charge - Cat hotkeyed somewhere convenient due to the boss' Wing Buffet ability. As with Balance, save your trinkets and cooldowns for Phase 2.

Razorscale seems to be popularly considered the easiest Ulduar boss to learn and execute as things are currently tuned, but as always, this may change.