June 19, 2009

WoW Patch 3.2 brings some Hunter love

I discussed last week about how Hunter trapping and crowd control had gone the way of the dodo. And now as reported earlier today, we have much to celebrate with the release of the official Patch 3.2 PTR Notes. Ghostcrawler and the development team are really showing us Hunters some much needed luvin.
Aspect of the Cheetah: Can now be learned at level 16. I was really wondering what we were going to do now that mounts were available at 20. It seems we are in good hands. We only have 16 painful levels of slow run until we can get Aspect of the Cheetah and start zipping around.

Deterrence now has a new visual spell effect. New graphics are always cool.

The time that traps will exist in the world after being put down has been reduced to 30 seconds, down from 1 minute. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I guess if your target hasn't tripped your trap in 30 seconds, they probably never will.
Traps now have separate 30 second cooldown categories: Fire (Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap and Black Arrow), Frost (Freezing Trap, Frost Trap) and Nature (Snake Trap). A hunter can have one trap of each category placed at one time. Is this the best thing since peanut butter on pancakes or what! Separate cooldowns? Finally, the ability to fire off Black Arrow, drop both a Freeze and Snake traps basically at the same time. I can't wait to take this one on a test drive.

Beast Mastery
Catlike Reflexes now also reduces the cooldown of your Kill Command ability by 10/20/30 seconds. How about that folks, even our Beast Mastery Hunters got some help. Being able to use Kill Command more often will definitely help out the Beast Master's DPS.

Entrapment: This talent no longer works with Immolation Trap or Explosive Trap. Lock and Load: Now has a 22 second cooldown. The Lock and Load effect cannot be obtained on targets immune to snare effects when Frost Trap is used. Well, we might not be able to use Entrapment like we have in the past. But that's okay since Immolation or Explosive Traps still share a cooldown with Black Arrow. Since I don't see anything really big there, I have to be missing something. I need to look more into this one.

But did you catch that Lock and Load cooldown? I noticed a couple of things. First we're seeing it on a 22 second cooldown. Looks like this might give our Survival Hunter friends some extra procs. Too bad we can't just go off hootin' and hollerin' though, seems that if your enemy is immune to the snare effects of Frost Traps you won't be getting any Lock and Load procs. All that really means is we just need to be smarter than the average Rogue.


Roar of Sacrifice: Redesigned. This ability can now be used on any friendly target to make that target immune to critical strikes, but the Hunter pet takes 20% of all damage taken by that friendly target. Cool down increased to 2 minutes. This is a major sweet change. One of the things I've always wanted was to be able to use Roar of Sacrifice to help my party members out. Now I can do that. How unbelievably sweet is that!

Now for the down side, we might have to rethink some pet talents to give our pets some extra Health since they'll be taking a 20% hit on ALL damage taken by our friend.

The cooldown change will impact PvP Hunters since the cooldown will be 2 minutes versus the 30 seconds it is now. Also, we PvE Hunters will be limited to only once per battle now. That being the case, we'll need to make sure and keep an eye on that cooldown.


Macros and scripts will no longer be able to target totems by name. Seems we'll have to find a new macro to use while in PvP. We can't just spam our Attack Totem macro and let Fluffy wreak havoc. But don't despair. I'm sure us Hunters will come up with something.

Well, that wraps up what we have heard so far. These are some serious changes and I can't wait to take a deeper look into how they are going to impact how we play our favorite class. So stay tuned, I'll be on the case and keep you updated as the Patch 3.2 PTR progresses.

What Patch 3.2 means for PvP

If you've been keeping up with the many changes in Patch 3.2, you might get an inkling that PvP is going to change drastically and for the better. Adam has already gone through the whopper announcement that Blizzard hinted at some time back: players can now gain experience from the Battlegrounds. It's something I'd wished for since the days of vanilla WoW and the developers have finally gotten around to implementing it in the next major patch.

Does this mean the death of twinks? Not necessarily. Players can opt to toggle experience gains on and off by going to Behsten in Orgrimmar or Slahtz in Stormwind (best-in-slot, get it?) and ponying up 10 Gold. But wait, there's more! Players who turn off experience gains will only be placed in the same Battleground queues as other players who opt not to gain experience. That's right -- twinks will be facing off against twinks. Twinks who have always contended that it wasn't about the unfair gear advantage will finally get the opportunity to test their mettle against equally geared opponents. Enjoy.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. After the jump, we'll take a look at a whole bunch of changes that will impact World of Warcraft PvP from the obvious (Arena and Battleground changes) to the not-so-obvious (item and ability changes). Let's hit it.

2v2 is officially dead. Alright, it's technically not dead, but Blizzard took it to some back alley and beat it to an unrecognizable pulp. This little line in the patch notes dealt the beating all by its lonesome: "The newest season of Arena gear can only be purchased if you meet the requirements with your 3 or 5 player team rating." This means that players who want to gear up in the best PvP gear must participate in 3s and 5s. It's an artificial way of boosting participation in the bigger brackets, but it's guaranteed to work.

Ratings obtained in 2v2 is usable to purchase the previous season's gear, however. But given that points gain is lower and queues for the bigger brackets will improve... it's simply better to get at least one more person and play in the 3s. Farewell, poor 2v2, we hardly knew you.

Blizzard also changed the Dalaran Sewers map, increasing its size by 25% and allowing the use of mounts. The horrid crates on the corners of the raised platform which create nightmarish Line-of-Sight problems were also modified both in position and collision. The size increase gives ranged classes more breadth to move around and not as easily get trained by, say, a cleave team. The Ruins of Lordaeron have also been revised somewhat, with the alcoves in the starting chambers removed. I have no idea what that means. What they should really do is have players get shunted out of the rooms and close the doors, similar to the sewer pipes in Dalaran arena. Blizzard has also made the tombstone easier to move around, which should make Line-of-Sight less problematic.

Strangely, there's nothing in the patch notes about the Ring of Valor, which has numerous issues -- I've lost matches by being trapped in the bottom of the elevator as it rises -- and is generally abhorred by most Arena players. By most I mean anyone not playing a Hunter. Hunters just hop onto the pillar and pewpew things.

While the biggest news about the Battlegrounds is the long-awaited experience gains, Blizzard made a few other changes, too. For one thing, they're now removing Battlegrounds-specific NPCs in major cities, replacing them with a generic Battlemaster whom players can talk to and queue up for any Battleground. It's a cosmetic change and I totally called it wrong when I said that the Isle of Conquest will have new NPCs all over the place. It makes a lot more sense, actually, since if Blizzard adds more Battlegrounds, the war rooms will simply get more and more crowded and confusing.

So say goodbye to NPCs like Adam Eternum and Keldor the Lost, who will now only be seen during their particular Battleground Holiday (in this case, Arathi Basin). It's only natural that some things will fall by the wayside in this pruning and streamlining process -- after all, these NPCs became obsolete after Patch 3.1, when players gained the ability to queue from anywhere in the game. This means I'll need to make that trip to Shattrath with some flowers and send off Yula the Fair, who will only visit once every six weeks now.

In the meantime, as those NPCs take extended vacations, Battleground matches themselves will be much, much quicker paced now. Warsong Gulch now has a 20-minute timer, which means the game can actually end in a tie (which happens with some Battlegrounds). Expect more players to participate in this fast-paced map more with the changes.

Other Battlegrounds have been sped up, too, with the resources needed to win in Arathi Basin and Eye of Storm reduced to a mere 1600, down from 2000. It also only takes 8 seconds to take flags in either map as opposed to 10. As Blizzard aimed to balance the length of all Battleground playing times, most matches will last around 20 minutes. That's just freaking awesome. Casual players who have little time to play can gain a lot from playing a few Battleground matches.

Finally, Blizzard has implemented a buff called Honorable Defender, which gives players 50% more Honor when killing enemy players within the vicinity of a Battleground objective in Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, and Isle of Conquest. Take that, road fighters! Players will no longer exasperatingly implore mindless combatants to "fight on the flag." It's simply more rewarding to do the right thing.

Little things
While those are the PvP-specific changes, there are plenty of changes across the board that should affect PvP in general. One big one? The mount change that lowers the casting time of land mounts to 1.5 seconds from 3. That's the span of one GCD. This means players can flee or pursue opponents much quicker or get to a particular point in the map in less time. The availability of mounts at an earlier level will also make Battlegrounds a more enjoyable experience for leveling players, particularly in maps such as Arathi Basin.

The class changes will affect PvP, too, but that's an entirely different story altogether. One key point, however, is that pets will scale better with their masters in many aspects. In particular, pets gain 40% of their masters' Resilience, making them much more, uh... resilient targets in PvP. Many changes have been implemented in the past few patches that raised the survivability of pets, and imparted Resilience has been one of the most requested changes since the stat was introduced in The Burning Crusade.

[EDIT: Speaking of Resilience, some commenters reminded me about the small change to Resilience, which now reduces all incoming damage equally. Sorry, did I say small? I meant huge. Gargantuan. This makes Resilience even more important as a stat now. It also guarantees survivability in matches. Whoa.]

Oh, and did you read about the return of faction-specific armor sets? Sure it's from the PvE Argent Tournament, but I'll be darned if that isn't one of the coolest things about Patch 3.2. Maybe we'll see faction-specific PvP gear again, too. You know, just putting that out there.

WoW The Leveling Warrior in Wrath

I promise we'll get back to our Ulduar guide for tanks and DPS warriors next week. For this week, however, since we're midway through the sixth month of 2009 and we've seen patches up to 3.1 released (and we're waiting on 3.2) I thought it would be a good idea to go back and cover some of the things a leveling warrior might want discussed. We get emails from all kinds of warriors, and so it's only fair to cover the concerns of warriors who aren't raiding Ulduar but rather just setting foot off of the dock in Howling Fjord.

Before we get started, though, the upcoming Patch 3.2 changes for Warriors in their current entirety: Armored to the Teeth: This talent now provides 1/2/3 attack power per 108 armor, up from per 180 armor. Try not to get too excited, people.

First off, I'm often asked about stats for up-and-coming warriors. We have covered some of these before back in the beta, but the beta was a year ago now and things have been changed and polished. First off, I'm going to link all the posts of interest to a leveling warrior and discuss how they may have changed, and then I'll try and cover some more general advice.

Building Up To It covers some target numbers and stats to focus on. I should note that this was written before the changes to Armor Penetration made it much, much better as a DPS stat for warriors: the more ArP you have, the better it is as a DPS stat until you have enough ArP to reduce target armor by 100%. We covered Hit and Expertise in two posts, one for DPS warriors and one for Tanks. The tanking post is still accurate as of 3.1, but the talent changes to Arms and Fury mean that there is currently no talent that reduces chance to dodge for Fury Warriors and Arms has both Strength of Arms for passive expertise and Weapon Mastery. We discussed the dangers of overstacking a stat to the exclusion of other, also necessary stats. Finally, we covered gearing up in a four part post just before Wrath launched Parts one, two, three and four were all published before Wrath itself had actually come out, but they're still reasonably accurate to help your warrior get from 70 to 80, We covered weapons between 70 and 80 too.


Okay, to start with, if this is not your main and you have access to the heirloom shoulders, by all that's holy get them. Especially now that they give you 10% more experience from quests and from mobs you kill, even if you just have an old pair of the leather or mail ones hanging around, send them to your leveling warrior. When I decided to test leveling on my Draenei warrior this month I didn't think it would make that big of a deal, but between his rested bonus and those shoulders he went from 70 to 76 in a matter of days. (I'm letting him catch back up on the rested before I try and get him the rest of the way up.)

We've covered talent specs for leveling warriors before, but I'll touch on it again here to say that for leveling either Arms or Prot are probably the easiest to gear for and are both strong for the job. I'm leveling my Draenei Fury purely out of spite. I leveled my Tauren Arms and my human Protection, and so far I'd still give the nod to Protection as a really good leveling spec and my personal favorite for dealing with big trash pulls and group quests you may want to try and solo. A lot of this will depend on the gear your warrior has as you start the climb between 70 and 80, though. If you're bringing a warrior you started a couple of months ago to Northrend in Outland quest greens, Arms is probably a stronger choice for leveling than Protection since there's lots of decent Northrend greens that are itemized towards an Arms playstyle. If you're bringing an uber-geared Sunwell warrior out of retirement, go with whatever your gear supports.

Talents will, of course, vary by your spec, but some abilities go across the board and benefit all warriors: we get Shattering Throw at level 71 (since you won't get Heroic Throw until 80, Shattering Throw is not to be underestimated as a cheap pulling tool as well as a PvP talent), and the incredibly handy Enraged Regeneration at level 75, followed by Heroic Throw at 80. You also get new tanks of all your pre-existing abilities, of course. Unlike the 1-60 game but similar to Burning Crusade, you'll basically be able to train something every level so don't go too long without visiting the trainer.


I have to say that 70 to 80 as a warrior is much less painful than it was to level a warrior back in the old days. I promise not to regale you with tales of leveling my warrior in Winterspring uphill in the snow both ways, but I will say that as long as you play with reasonable attentiveness you'll find it much less of a slog than it was to kill oozes in Un'Goro and get diseased over and over again. I still stand by my first impression from all the way back into the Wrath beta and advise you to do both Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra, but it's not strictly speaking necessary. You could easily go from the Fjord to Dragonblight to do the Wrathgate questline (which, for a leveling warrior, not only has several decent rewards along the way, but is also a heck of a nice questline if you've not done it yet.)

You'll of course want to do the Borean Tundra questlines to get access to some very nice blues to start the climb to 80 with, but there are similarly rewarding quests in both starting zones. If you can manage to do the quests around Utgarde Keep and the Nexus you can accumulate quite a few blue quest items to supplement whatever gear you had when you arrived. Grizzly Hills has two major questlines and a third that points you towards Drak'Tharon Keep, Zul'Drak has the Ampitheatre of Anguish in addition to quests for a tanking weapon and ones that point you towards Gun'Drak, and the whole of Sholozar Basin has significant quests that involve Hemet Nesingwary and the Avatar of Feya. It's actually quite possible (even, dare I say it, easy) to level to 80 with minimal instance time if that's what you want to do, but with instances in both starting zones, Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills (Drak'Tharon Keep straddles GH and Zul'Drak), ZD and finally the Storm Peaks having two five man dungeons, there's certainly no lack of options.


As we covered in the gearing posts, you don't want to ignore the various factions of Northrend (please pick up a tabard for every faction available as soon as you can, even ones you won't immediately need to work on like the Kirin Tor), and it's fairly easy for a level 77 warrior to begin working on his Argent Crusade, Knights of the Ebon Blade and Sons of Hodir reputations once you reach Icecrown and the Storm Peaks. There are long, rewarding questlines for each of these factions (the Argent Crusade ones actually help you unlock the Ebon Blade ones, even) and in addition at level 77 you can even start working on your Argent Tournament questing. Generally speaking, even if you're not completely done with the other zones you can probably afford to go to Icecrown and the Storm Peaks as soon as you can fly in Northrend and start working on those reputations (Don't forget about championing to make those grinds go faster.) The Sons of Hodir have no tabard so you'll have to work that reputation via the daily quests and with Relic of Ulduar turn ins/Everfrost chips.

As a warrior I would try and get my Ebon Blade reputation to at least revered for the Arcanum of Torment and see about getting Argent Crusade to revered as well for the tanking helm enchant. Since the Argent Crusade has some quests in Dragonblight and a hub in Zul'Drak as well as a long quest chain in Icecrown and the Ebon Blade has quests and dailies in Icecrown, you can probably come close to these goals without even making use of championing or the daily quest in Dalaran for reputation. Adding those in and getting those reputations to revered is not difficult at all, and can even be done before you actually reach level 80. Once you're at revered with the aforementioned championable factions, the Wyrmrest Accord has a surprising amount of tanking gear you should consider. The Kirin Tor gloves are solid, but by now you'll probably be able to get better via Emblems of Heroism (the Tier 7 glove token) before you'll make the reputation needed to purchase them, assuming you don't just get an equivalent drop running Naxx-10.

If you're a new warrior or just new to Northrend, please feel free to ask for additional advice or an answer to a question I missed in the comments and if necessary I'll revisit this topic next week. If not, back to Ulduar.

WoW Guide to Midsummer Fire Festival achievements

A note on eligibility: your character will need to be at least 50 to hand in the items needed for King of the Fire Festival, and at least 65 to get the higher-level quests necessary for killing Lord Ahune in Slave Pens. With that said, we still recommend that lower-level characters participate, because you'll wind up with a ton of experience and gold even if you can't complete the meta-achievement.

Should you complete the meta, you will be awarded the "Flame Keeper" title. I've listed all of the required achievements in the order I think will be easiest/fastest for the average player to do.

The Fires of Azeroth

This is actually a meta-within-a-meta achievement as it encompasses Flame Keeper of the Eastern Kingdoms, Flame Keeper of Kalimdor, and Flame Keeper of Outland. It requires a lot of legwork and travel time, but should be easily doable for any 60+ character with a full set of flight paths. If you don't have a full set of flight paths, well, now would be a great time to get them; most fires are within a few seconds' walk of a flightmaster. For all new players, in order to "honor" or "desecrate" a fire, all you need to do is right-click on it.

Big thanks are due here to Wowwiki, which very helpfully had a set of coordinates for each fire. The sites for honoring flames aren't the same for the Alliance and the Horde, so I've split them up for separate notation below (but -- as you'll note from the achievement following this one -- you still need to know about the other factions' fires in order to complete Flame Keeper):

Alliance -- Flame Keeper of the Eastern Kingdoms: There are 14 Alliance fires in the Eastern kingdoms, located in:

Arathi Highlands -- Refuge Point at 50,44
Blasted Lands -- Nethergarde Keep at 58,17
Burning Steppes -- Morgan's Vigil at 81,63
Dun Morogh -- Kharanos at 46,47
Duskwood -- Darkshire at 73,54
Elwynn Forest -- Goldshire at 43,63
Hillsbrad Foothills -- Southshore at 50,47
Loch Modan -- Thelsamar at 32,40
Redridge Mountains -- Lakeshire at 26,60
Stranglethorn Vale -- Booty Bay at 33,74
The Hinterlands -- Aerie Peak at 14,50
Wetlands -- Menethil Harbor at 13,47
Western Plaguelands -- Chillwind Camp at 43,82
Westfall --Sentinel Hill at 55,52
Alliance -- Flame Keeper of Kalimdor: There are 11 Alliance fires in Kalimdor, located in:

Ashenvale -- Astranaar at 37,54
Azuremyst Isle -- Azure Watch at 44,52
Bloodmyst Isle -- Blood Watch at 55,67
Darkshore -- Auberdine at 37,45
Desolace -- Nijel's Point at 65,17
Dustwallow Marsh -- Theramore at 61,39
Feralas -- Feathermoon Stronghold at 28,43
Silithus --Cenarion Hold at 55,35
Tanaris -- Gadgetzan at 52,28
Teldrassil -- Dolanaar at 54,60
Winterspring -- Everlook at 62,35
Alliance -- Flame Keeper of Outland: There are 7 Alliance fires in Outland, located in:

Blade's Edge Mountains -- Sylvanaar at 41,65
Hellfire Peninsula -- Honor Hold at 62,58
Nagrand -- Telaar at 50,70
Netherstorm -- Area 52 at 31,62
Shadowmoon Valley -- Wildhammer Stronghold at 40,54
Terokkar Forest -- Allerian Stronghold at 54,56
Zangarmarsh -- Telredor at 69,52
Horde -- Flame Keeper of the Eastern Kingdoms: There are 11 Horde fires in the Eastern Kingdoms, located in:

Arathi Highlands -- Hammerfall at 73,41 Badlands -- Kargath at 4,50 Burning Steppes -- Flaming Crest at 61,30 Eversong Woods -- Falconwing Square at 46,50 Ghostlands -- Tranquillien at 47,26 Hillsbrad Foothills -- Tarren Mill at 58,25 Silverpine Forest -- The Sepulcher at 50,39 Stranglethorn Vale -- Booty Bay at 33,74 Swamp of Sorrows -- Stonard at 46,45 The Hinterlands -- Revantusk Village at 76,74 Tirisfal Glades -- Brill at 57,52
Horde -- Flame Keeper of Kalimdor: There are 12 Horde fires in Kalimdor, located in:

Ashenvale -- Splintertree Post at 69,69 Desolace -- Shadowprey Village at 26,77 Durotar -- Razor Hill at 51,46 Dustwallow Marsh -- Brackenwall Village at 33,31 Feralas -- Camp Mojache at 72,47 Mulgore -- Bloodhoof Village at 53,60 Silithus -- Cenarion Hold at 46,43 Stonetalon Mountains -- Sunrock Retreat at 50,60 Tanaris -- Gadgetzan at 49,28 The Barrens -- Crossroads at 51,26 Thousand Needles -- Freewind Post at 41,52 Winterspring -- Everlook at 59,35
Horde -- Flame Keeper of Outland: There are 7 Horde fires in Outland, located in:

Blade's Edge Mountains -- Thunderlord Stronghold at 50,58 Hellfire Peninsula -- Thrallmar at 57,42 Nagrand -- Garadar at 51,34 Netherstorm -- Area 52 at 32,68 Shadowmoon Valley - Shadowmoon Village at 33,31 Terokkar Forest -- Stonebreaker Hold at 52,43 Zangarmarsh -- Zabra'jin at 36,52
Desecration of the Alliance or Desecration of the Horde

See all those fires I just listed above? Namely, the ones that don't belong to your faction? You get to visit them anyway! Again, this is a lot of legwork, but for most zones you should be able to honor your faction's fire and desecrate the opposing faction's, then simply move on the next zone.

Please note that even on a PvE server you will get flagged by desecrating the other factions' fires, so if you're not overly fond of world PvP, you'll probably want to try this during a slow period (or, better yet, with a group). That said, if my experience is any indication, enemy players will usually leave you alone in the smaller townships and villages because they're occupied getting their own achievements. Enjoy it while it lasts, because after that you get to do
King of the Fire Festival

Stealing the enemy's fires from their capital cities, by comparison, is a riskier proposition, but still doable if you're not averse to the possibility of dying a lot. King of the Fire Festival is awarded for stealing the flames of four enemy cities. When you do this, each flame appears in your packs as a quest to turn in at a Festival Loremaster (located around major city fires everywhere). Do all four, turn them in, and you get the achievement.


Undercity and Thunder Bluff are fairly easy; Orgrimmar and Silvermoon can be a royal pain. Due to the relatively decentralized nature of the Horde's intercity transportation system, you will probably spend more time both in transit and stealing fires than your Horde counterparts. I would recommend starting with Thunder Bluff.

Stealing Thunder Bluff's Flame: Thunder Bluff can be a nuisance because the bridge system confuses players unfamiliar with the city, but TB is generally uncrowded. If you have Slow Fall/Levitate or a parachute cloak, you can just jump off the city after getting the flame and evade the guards and any players in the vicinity. Tip: follow the signposts, and then mouse over the doorway of each bridge-building to confirm it heads to the Rise you want. The Thunder Bluff flame is located on Spirit Rise at 20,26. After this, visit Bloodhoof Village to desecrate the flame there, then ride out of Mulgore, desecrate the Crossroad's flame, ride east to get Razor Hill's, then ride toward the extreme northwestern edge of Durotar to get to Orgrimmar's least-troublesome entrance.

Stealing Orgrimmar's Flame: This is the most difficult of the Horde fires to capture, as Orgrimmar is typically the most crowded city and the fire is located fairly far in. It is probably easiest to enter the city from the little-used western gates and just stay on that road until you reach the flame. While this leaves you susceptible to high-level players porting in from Dalaran in the Troll huts located over the pond to your right as you ride in, it doesn't expose you to the masses of players congregated between Orgrimmar's bank and AH (which is what you'd have to deal with going in through the southern gates). Either way, try to do Orgrimmar during a slow period. If you want to head straight to Undercity afterwards and there aren't any high-level players around looking to pick a fight, ride out of the city and take the zeppelin straight to UC.

Stealing Undercity's Flame: The Undercity flame is by far the easiest of the four Horde fires to steal and is located in the Ruins of Lordaeron courtyard at 68,9. You don't actually have to enter the city, although Alliance players will get flagged as the Ruins are Horde territory. Alliance players with higher-level toons than I've got will have to confirm this for me, but I don't think it's possible for Alliance to use the Orb of Translocation to get to Silvermoon. Ride to Chillwind Camp in the Western Plaguelands (detour to Brill to desecrate that flame) and take a flight up to Zul'Aman. Ride to Silvermoon (and desecrate the flame at Tranquillien along the way).

Stealing Silvermoon's Flame: The Silvermoon fire is located at 69,39 in the Court of the Sun at 69,43. Silvermoon itself is generally not crowded and you should have little trouble.


Historically it was a bigger hassle for Horde to get the Alliance fires than vice versa, because getting to either Ironforge or Stormwind's fires obligated you to run past the most crowded portions of the cities (even if afterwards you could use the Deeprun Tram to make the other city somewhat easier). These days, between the Stormwind docks and the Deeprun Tram, it's now possible for Horde to get all four Alliance fires without having to deal with the more crowded trade areas.

As such, I would recommend doing these in the following order:

Stealing Darnassus's Flame: Darnassus is the one freebie; you'll find the flame located outside of the city proper in Rut'theran Village as soon as you step off the boat from Auberdine (that said, you'll still have to get through the city to get the flame in Dolanaar for Flame Keeper of Kalimdor). When you're done with both fires, catch the boat back to Auberdine, desecrate the flame there, then transfer to the one heading to Azuremyst so you can do --

Stealing the Exodar's Flame: The Exodar's flame is located in the Crystal Hall at 41,25. The Exodar is generally uncrowded and this one shouldn't be too difficult, but the fire is still pretty far into the city. When you get off the boat, take the side entrance into the Exodar (located to your left off the road) in order to avoid as many players as possible. While you're on the Draenei islands, desecrate the flames at Azure Watch and Blood Watch. Afterwards, head back to Auberdine and transfer to the boat heading to Stormwind for --

Stealing Stormwind's Flame: The Stormwind flame is located at 38,61 around one of the entrances to the Stormwind Stockade. If you're coming from the docks, you should be able to avoid the more highly-trafficked portions of the city, but the odds of running into some high-level players are still decent. If you get mobbed, try to zone into the Stockades for a respite. Afterwards, mount up, ride for the Deeprun Tram, and head to Ironforge.

Stealing Ironforge's Flame: The Ironforge flame is located at 64,24 in the Hall of Explorers. You can get to it relatively fast if you're coming off the Tram (head out, hang a right, steal the fire, then sprint back to the Tram). Bear in mind that while the Tram is neutral territory (and on a PvE server your flag will drop there after 5 minutes), anyone who decides to make your life difficult can certainly follow you back there.

Got all four flames? Head back to a Festival Loremaster, turn them in, and enjoy your achievement.

Torch Juggler

It's a cruel joke on Blizzard's part to ask people to do this in Dalaran, which is such an almighty lagfest on so many servers, but it can't be helped. If your computer usually wheezes its way through the city at server high time, you'll definitely want to wait for a slow period in order to get this achievement done.

What you will need to do is purchase around 20-25 Juggling Torches from Midsummer vendors, then hotkey them somewhere convenient. Using a torch will allow you to target a specific area where you want it to land. Target it at your feet, then spam the hell out of your torch hotkey. This will automatically force each torch to come down where you're already standing, so you can instantly "juggle" it back. Use of the torches doesn't trigger the global cooldown, so as long as your latency and framerates are cooperating, you should be able to "juggle" 40 torches easily within the space of 15 seconds.

Ice the Frost Lord

Easy, easy, easy -- and if last year was any indication, lots of fun. You will already have this achievement if you're sitting on Tabard of Summer Skies or Tabard of Summer Flames, but for everyone else, the quest chain that leads to slaying Ahune starts with Earthen Ring Elders located around city fires everywhere. However, you need to be at least 65 to get the follow-up quest to head to Outland, then hit Slave Pens and kill Ahune. Ahune will drop an item (group loot) that starts Shards of Ahune, rewarding you with your choice of tabards and 20 Burning Blossoms.

For anyone doing the Ahune encounter for the first time this year, we wrote a guide on how to handle the fight here. To our knowledge, his loot list hasn't been altered from 2008, which means that the gear will be of the most use to players still leveling through Outland, but you can always keep trying for the wee Scorchling pet he drops.

Burning Hot Pole Dance

Sounds simple, right? Well, it would be, but buying these threads is going to cost you.

Do yourself a favor and get the Fires of Azeroth, Desecration, and King of the Fire Festival achievements done first. This will leave you with a ton of Burning Blossoms, which are the currency needed for purchasing items from Midsummer vendors, including the three clothing items required.

The 3 items you need for the set are:

Mantle of the Fire Festival: 100 blossoms Sandals of Summer: 200 blossoms Vestment of Summer: 100 blossoms Why the shoes cost so much compared to the much flashier chest and shoulder pieces, I can't say, but the full set will run you 400 blossoms. This should be easily doable if you've completed the achievements referenced above, but it will mean that if you're still interested in purchasing the Captured Flame pet and the Brazier of Dancing Flames, you're going to have to put some work into the torch-juggling dailies in order to get enough. Unless Blizzard has changed the number of Burning Blossoms awarded by Midsummer quests and achievements (or nerfed the cost of vendor items), I don't think it's possible to purchase everything if you're starting from scratch. It should be possible to get the clothing and either the noncombat pet or the brazier, but not the pet and the brazier.

Stay tuned, however. It's possible that Blizzard's changed the number of Blossoms awarded or nerfed the cost of the items you'll need, and I'll update the wow guide if so.

WoW Class Q&A: Mage Patch 3.2

Second up in the class Q&A (Shamans were first) are Mages, those lovable glass cannons. Or are they? The Q&A opens with Ghostcrawler discussing public perception of the class, with a prompt of "a lot has changed since the days when the 'glass cannon' description was applied."


GC describes the mage as "the iconic caster:" deals magic damage from range. They should be versatile enough to do single-target damage, AoE damage, and crowd control, and every group should want one. (I'm noticing a trend here -- GC also described Shamans as a class every group should want. I guess every group should want all classes.)

They like the different feel between the three trees is in a good place, with Frostfire possibly providing a fourth aesthetic. They have decided that "king of AoE" is no longer a good niche to put any class in, so now they're trying to give both AoE and single-target to all DPS specs (with "extra effort" to make sure mages do good AoE).

Why has Mage seen fewer changes than other classes during Wrath? "By and large, the class works." Not that it's perfect, but it's in pretty good shape.

This is something that's never occurred to me before. GC says one thing that makes Mages unique is that each spec is centered on one spell (like Fireball). Procs and cooldowns keep this from getting boring.

Mages are still a glass cannon (compared to the other cloth classes), and they're meant to be - escape abilities should be your main way to keep alive.


People are concerned that itemization supports Fire over Frost. GC responds that the design isn't to have Frost use vastly different items than Fire; they feel that some work is required here. They're making "a big pass" on talents and stats to try to help this for all classes.

Will mages get robes or the option of robes over tunics going forward? Answer: "this is not a huge priority for us at this time" (translation: we don't care).

Mana efficiency

Broadly speaking, the philosophy is that healers might run OOM if they're undergeared or misplayed, but DPS players should not run OOM. To support this, they are "likely" to lower the mana costs of the major mage nukes.

Is mage AoE too expensive? Well, they don't want casting Blizzard on one or two mobs to be attractive; efficiency is still good on many mobs. Some other mage spells could use boosts to make them as efficient as Blizzard.

This doesn't really fit into mana efficiency, but: they're considering making Spell Steal only steal spells that are beneficial to the mage.

Talent trees

Arcane is "a little bloated." The Warrior Prot tree and the Paladin Ret tree are good examples of talent trees they like - fewer required talents, more points to spend on "fun play-style choices."

They are not concerned that Torment the Weak is considered a mandatory talent for all mages; they don't think it's needed for Frostfire, and they don't think it's a problem for Frost or Fire to sub-spec into Arcane. Oh, mandatory Arcane points, will you never leave us?

There are plans to improve Fire in PvP, though the think it's "more important" to fix classes that have "no viable specs" for Arena. They do want to improve Dragon's Breath for PvP.

Fire's threat does concern the devs; they want to fix it through Invisibility (which they are changing to be uninterruptable in patch 3.2).

As ever, they want to make Frost PvE viable, but without over-buffing it in PvP. Ice Lance is a target for a buff, though they're not sure how to do that yet.

The Q&A wraps up with a question about Blink, and its many failings. GC recognizes that one of the places it seems to fail the most is in the WSG tunnels; they're working on it. They say if you have a Blink bug, the most helpful thing is to report it on the Bug Report forum with specifically where it was that the failure occurred, so they can hopefully fix the maps.

That's the end of the mage Q&A. Not a whole ton of substance here, but this fits with GC's assertion that Mages are mostly alright. Next up? Mages' arch-rivals, Warlocks.

WoW Patch 3.2 profession change analysis

Over the past few days, some upcoming professions changes for Patch 3.2 have been announced, and although they are not as detailed as they could be, several of the changes will have quite an impact.

First and foremost, every profession-specific buff is being upgraded. This includes an Enchanter's ability to enhance their own rings, a Leatherworker's bracer enchants, and more. For a complete list of the current profession bonuses, check out Insider Trader's guide to Profession-Specific Buffs, parts one through three.

WoW Patch 3.2 profession change analysis
These buffs also answer some of the concerns surrounding the upcoming Jewelcrafting nerf that epic gems might be introduced without a buff to the Dragon's Eyes, which, in combination with the fact that these gems will no longer be prismatic, would effectively squash the Jewelcrafting bonus.

Jewelcrafters will also do well to note that they will be able to acquire epic gems by prospecting Titanium. Combined with a Blacksmith's two extra prismatic sockets, this powerful duo is one of the most popular profession combinations.

WoW Patch 3.2 profession change analysis
In addition, Engineers will be seeing some welcome changes to their profession that may make it more appealing. Unfortunately, some of the details have not been made public, so the competitiveness of their self buffs, for example, remains to be seen.
Engineering Changes
For a complete list of the upcoming Engineering changes, check out Matt Low's announcement yesterday. Here, I will discuss a few of the more significant ones and the ways in which they're going to affect us.

In accordance with Ghostcrawler's statement that ammo prices are currently too high considering the fact that hunters die much more often than they used to, Engineered ammo will be cheaper to manufacture, will produce a full stack rather than several smaller ones, and can even be made on the run, as you will no longer need to be at an anvil. This is great news for all you hunters who seem to run out of ammo at the most inconvenient of times (myself included).

WoW Patch 3.2 profession change analysis
Although this profession is already popular with hunters, I feel that this is an added incentive to take up or keep Engineering. In the future, we may find that we no longer require ammunition at all, but the current trend seems to be leaning towards making it cheaper and less of a hindrance than removing it entirely, which would mean rebalancing, as the damage bonus would need to be worked into other class mechanics or weapons.

They are also changing the way in which Mote Tracking will work. Rather than have the ability attached to your goggles, you will be able to track them by simply keeping your extractor in your inventory. For those of you equipped with tier helms, carrying around goggles in your bag for farming excursions, this should be a welcome change. This means one less thing to carry, and more opportunities to profit.

MOLL-E is also getting a competitive upgrade, likely in response to the new Argent Squire pet, which can be summoned for three minutes every 8 hours, and will perform the roll of either a bank, vendor or mailbox. MOLL-E will have a "significantly" shorter cooldown. With new raids coming out, this may prove to be quite a beneficial change.

Since Wrath, Engineers have been asking for new Transporters, which sometimes teleport you to your desired destinations, and other times cause accidents, a random and fun occurrence of which many Engineers are quite proud. Well, we aren't going to see one yet, but you will no longer have to equip trinkets to make the leap. You will be able to use the objects while they are in your inventory. While this doesn't free up any space, it does work to smooth out the process.

Finally, Potion Injectors are getting an overhaul. Because patch 3.2 is revising potions to stack up to 20 naturally, the item becomes seemingly useless. This would be unfortunate, as they are commonly used to level your skill. Fortunately, they are being transformed into an Engineer-only buff. When used by an Engineer, the amount gained from the health and mana potions is increased by a decent 25%. Your recipes will also produce more injectors for the same materials.

Alchemy after WoW Patch 3.2
Along with full stacks of 20 potions, there will be new transmutes available that will allow you to produce some of the new epic-quality gems. In other news, Rage Potions will finally be usable by druids as well as warriors. This will be especially useful to young druids, whose only rage-boosting ability is Enrage, which also tends to get a young'un smooshed.

In fact, it seems that Blizzard is beginning to address some of the factors that make leveling a druid under 20 to be such a painful process. This is particularly appropriate, considering the fact that the new druid form artwork is drawing a crowd to the class. The infamous Aquatic Form quest line became optional, as an example, and now, a new glyph is being added called Glyph of Claw, which is intended specifically for young ferals who do not yet have Mangle. My young feral is already quite excited, having felt disappointed at the glyphs currently available to her.

Fishing and Cooking - WoW Patch 3.2 profession change analysis
I always love it when these two professions get some patch love, as they are quirky and enjoyable in addition to being useful. The Chef's Hat, introduced in Patch 3.1 as a novelty item, complete with accompanying achievement, will serve a new purpose after Patch 3.2. The owner of such a fashionable accessory will be able to speed up their cooking while wearing it, presumably because of the inherent powers that fancy hats provide.

If you've been bemoaning the 100 Dalaran Cooking Award cost, you will soon have cause to cheer. The drop rate in your goody bag is being increased, and if you also fish, you'll be able to dredge up Watterlogged Recipes that can be handed in for several of the tokens. If you don't fish, you'll be able to find them on the Auction House, as they are not soulbound.

World of Warcraft Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!