January 13, 2010

Upcoming Adjustments announced for Old Kingdom, Nexus, Culling of Stratholme

Zarhym popped into one of the many official forum topics complaining about the seemingly inordinate amount of times Old Kingdom pops on the Dungeon Finder to offer some welcome news for exhausted dungeon runners: Old Kingdom and Nexus alike will be receiving some adjustments meant to bring the dungeons in line with other Wrath heroics.

Old Kingdom will receive the most changes. Elder Nadox will spawn only one Ahn'Kahar Guardian and Jedoga Shadowseeker will ascend only once in their respective encounters. In addition, some static trash groups will be removed, while some roaming groups will have their paths altered. He stressed that these changes are not meant to make the dungeon easier, but rather to make it a slightly quicker run, more in line with other heroics. He also acknowledged that the dungeon finder made the daily quest associated with the dungeon somewhat complicated to obtain and turn in, and while the dev team would like to fix it, they still haven't found a satisfactory solution.

Later in the thread, he announced a similar change to Nexus, namely that Anomalus will use his Create Rift ability much less often. Finally, he revealed that a "quick start" option for the Culling of Stratholme is in the works, but will likely not be ready for the next minor patch due to the complicated scripting required.

All of these changes, I am sure, will cause great joy among the badge running crowd. I admit I never disliked the lore of the Culling of Stratholme instance, but after the first 10 times, you know, it loses some of the lustre. This also makes me wonder which dungeon is next. It seems like Halls of Stone is really the only dungeon left that still has a problem with people dropping group. I'm guessing we might see a reduction of the time to victory on the Tribunal of Ages event, and possibly a pruning of the trash before Krystallus and Maiden of Grief to give more incentive to grab them.

Regardless, there's no word on when these changes will be implemented, but all the same, they should be welcome. Stay tuned for any more news on this stealthily announced "minor patch" as we hear it.

A death knight primer for tanking 5-man dungeons

So when the Dungeon Finder came out, it was pretty cool even for DPS. A 10 minute wait for a DPS slot for a 5-man dungeon is pretty insanely awesome. If nothing else, it was certainly faster than the old way of sitting in Dalaran for 2 hours picking your nose and watching the LFG channel.

Now that the dungeon finder has been around for a while though, things are getting a bit stickier for DPS. My server averages around 15-20 minutes for a level 80, and I've heard some battlegroups are up to 30-45 minutes, even at prime time. To make matters worse, tanks and healers can continue to boast instant or near-instant queues almost everywhere, leaving the poor DPS green with envy.

Now technically, this is how it's almost always worked. Tanks and Healers get groups pretty quick, DPS has to wait around. And all told, the dungeon finder system is still pretty cool, and you still get a group faster than the old way. That said, now that we've had a taste of true power, I'm sure we're all loathe to lose it. Luckily, death knights have an out: We can go tank.

Whether you're a DPS DK considering going tank for shorter queue times, or a 5-man DK tank newbie looking to up their game, this column's for you.

Talents and Specs

The death knight tanking spec in itself is a mysterious concept to many. There's those who hold on to the outmoded pre-Beta idea that Frost is the only viable tanking tree. There's those who assume that "DKs can tank in any tree" means they can tank in any spec. We know the truth. You can tank in any tree, but you really need a specific spec to tank.Luckily, dual speccing makes it much less painful for most of us to tank on a tanking spec (Sorry PvP and PvE DPS specced death knights, though, you need to make a choice).

The start to a good death knight tank spec is 5/5/5. That's Blade Barrier, Toughness, and Anticipation. These are three basic defense skills that will start you off on the right foot to survival. Sure, every once in a while someone will put forth some esoteric spec that skips one or more of them for some strange reason, but those builds almost never last more than a patch, if at all. Besides, we're just trying to get in shape to tank 5-man PUGs, not reinvent DK tanking, so let's stick with the basics and start with 5/5/5.

Once you got that in place, move up the tree of your choice, grabbing the defensive talents and cool downs. Don't forget a few DPS talents too, you'll need to be able to hold threat. Of course, while basic tank builds, from my way of thinking, are pretty intuitive, it doesn't hurt to spell it out too. Here's a look at 3 possible builds, one for each tree.

This Blood tank spec gives you most of the bells and whistles of Blood, while also delving into Frost and Unholy for some extra slowing power on Icy Touch and a cool down reduction for Death and Decay. With this build, you'll have solid single target threat, and Spell Deflection will let you laugh in the face of casters. You'll be slightly weaker at AoE threat than the other two trees, but your Blood Boil and Death and Decay will still be potent. You'll also have extra self-healing from using Death Strike as your main Frost/Unholy strike, which will help if you drew a lackluster healer. Of course, in return, you won't have as much purely reactive damage soaking ability as the other two trees. Even Vampiric Blood requires you to be healed to reap the full benefits.

This Unholy spec starts by delving into Blood for some extra threat help and Frost for the extra Icy Touch debuff. Building up the Unholy tree, we focus mostly on getting AE threat tools, grabbing the requisite defensive cool downs as well. I ignored Reaping just because you'll be using those Blood runes for Death and Decay, Pestilence, and Blood Boil. Some would argue that one should clear points out of Desecration and Wandering Plague and finish out Desolation instead. Admittedly, there's a lot to be said for this argument at the raid level. That said, I do like having the extra debuff of Desecration at a 5 man level to wrangle in runners, since you won't always be able to trust your DPS to take care of them, and you may have a hard time keeping Blood Strike in your AoE rotation to keep the Desolation buff up anyway.

Unholy has slightly less pure defensive power than the other groups at lower gear levels, although Bone Shield gets a lot more powerful the more avoidance you get. It also has some amazing AE threat, and Ebon Plaguebringer will make any smart caster DPS you pick up love you forever, especially since you can spread it to multiple targets so easily.

For 2-handed Frost Tanking, try this build. Frost is actually a pretty amazingly nice build for absorbing damage, between things like Frigid Dreadplate and Improved Frost Presence, you'll absorb a lot of extra damage without even trying. Hungering Cold is great emergency snap threat and crowd control, and Howling Blast adds another nice bit of AE threat gathering. The downside to this build is that you don't bring as much group utility as Blood and Unholy. But then again, most PUG groups are just going to be happy there's a tank around.

Now, I honestly would caution against trying to do dual wield tanking until you are very well geared, but if you insist, you can take points out of Morbidity, Two-Handed Weapon specialization, and Merciless Combat to grab Threat of Thassarian and Nerves of Cold Steel pretty easily.

As far glyphs go, I've added glyphs to all three links above, so you can get a general idea of what to chose from those links. I should note that while I gave every spec the Death and Decay glyph, a lot of death knights at higher gear levels will pass on that one, especially since it's less than useful on single-target fights. I've included it in these builds because we're talking PUG 5-man tanking, which presumes you'll be mostly AEing down all your trash. In that case, that extra 20% damage on your main AE threat ability is a very nice buffer when you're starting out as a tank.


Once you have your spec figured out, you'll need to get geared up. The first rule of tank gearing, at least until Cataclysm comes out, is pretty simple: Get 540 defense skill. This will get you immune to all critical strikes at level 80. Now admittedly, you only strictly need 535 Defense skill to get to uncrittable in heroic dungeons, but getting to 540 is good practice for raid tanking (If nothing else, you may want to move on to PUG Vault of Archavon raids somewhere down the line, right?), and the extra defense skill still provides dodge and parry.

Most of the gearing advice you need for starting out in heroic dungeon running you can find in back issues of Lichborne, so I'll go ahead and summarize what to look for in those articles here. You should be able to pick out gear from these articles that'll get you started on heroic tanking easily enough:

This article summarizes basic defense gear for the fresh level 80 Death Knight tank. It should be useful to find some quick and dirty upgrades as you start your tank career, although some of them will be a bit low powered for the harder heroics.

This article discussed pre-raid defense gearing back before Patch 3.2, but it's still a handy list for what to look out for in heroics.
Both of the above articles were written before Patch 3.2 and the Crusader's Coliseum, so you'll want to check out our Crusader's Coliseum death knight tank gearing guide, since that stuff will almost always be superior to the gear mentioned in the two articles above.

Don't forget to get enchantments and gems too. As a rule of thumb, use Thick gems to get to 540 defense, then Solid gems to buff up your health - it's a little bit simple, but it'll work for heroic 5-man tanking. The Austere Earthsiege Diamond should work fine for your metagem -- You can grab a Resolute or Stalwart gem to get the red gem requirement.

As far as what quality of gem to use, it depends on the gear. Once you're grabbing Emblem of Triumph and t9 tank gear, I'd strongly recommend investing in epic gems, but anything lower than that, you can get away with blue, maybe even green if you expect you'll upgrade it once or twice more before replacing it with t9 or a raid drop. Rotation Basics

As a PUG 5-man tank, you'll find that just about any group just wants to blast groups over as quickly as possible, willy nilly. Therefore, it's going to be to your best interest to establish AE threat as soon as possible.

First things first: lay down Death and Decay. Yes, even you, Unholy death knights. I know you want to get your Ebon Plaguedown first, but the fact is, your DPS is not going to hold back. They're going to start unloading on whatever target they please, and you'll want to have the threat to keep aggro right off the bat. Use the high threat move first, then spread your diseases. In other words, your first set of runes should be spent something like this:

Death and Decay->Icy Touch->Plague Strike->Pestilence.

You'll now be doing continuous damage to the entire group, enough that you should at least have locked down against incidental damage and light healing. With your next set of runes, you can bring it all home. If you can manage to do it without losing threat, tab over to a new target. Hit your Frost/Unholy Strike (Scourge Strike for Unholy, Death Strike for Blood, Howling Blast for Frost), hit a Blood Boil, then hit a pestilence to spread the diseases again. Since you tabbed to a new target, you'll have refreshed the diseases on your original target as well.

The basic rotation above will get through pretty much every AE battle. Then you just need to learn to weave in basic defensive cool downs and runic power dumps, and you're set. Your basic single target DPS rotation should work fine against bosses.

Other Tips

Of course, part of being a tank is staying aware and adapting to circumstances so you can keep your group members alive, so it's good keep on your toes. The first thing you should do upon zoning into a new dungeon as a tank is to make sure your Frost Presence is on. I know that seems sort of like newbie stuff there, but you'd be surprised how often you might forget, especially if you are switching between DPS and Tank specs a lot. Frost Presence makes up a good portion of your survivability and threat, and if you don't have it up, your group will suffer, if not outright wipe.

Beyond that, learn to adapt and use positioning to your advantage otherwise. If you're still running as a DPS, observe where other successful tanks are pulling and positioning stuff. Chances are, that spot might be a good spot to pull stuff when it's your turn to tank. When deciding on a pull, try to position your Death and Decay such that it hits as much of the group as possible to better establish initial aggro. If there's a caster in the group, LOS him or use Death Grip or Strangulate to pull him right onto the Death and Decay. Have Blood Tap handy in case you need an emergency Death Rune for your major tanking cool down.

Also, don't be afraid to lead. Even if you aren't technically assigned the leader slot, chances are you'll be the defacto leader, setting the pace of the pulls and whatnot. If you see a way to make things more efficient, put it into effect. If you're having trouble keeping aggro or staying alive because DPS is all scattered willy-nilly, start marking targets and setting kill orders.

Once you have all of this together, I also might encourage you to try a few test runs with patient guildies or even on a normal dungeon in dungeon finder. That way you can practice your new tanking skills in a friendlier environment, or at least one where it's easier to recover if you lose control for a second. It takes a little preparation, but if you can pull all this off, the emblems will roll in that much faster.

One last tip: Don't believe the hype. Death Knights are good, solid tanks right now. Yes, we take a little bit more damage in 5 mans because of lack of block, but it's far from unmanageable. Yes, there's bad Death Knight tanks out there, but no more or less than any other tanking class. I think my worse tank in a Dungeon Finder PUG thus far as has been a paladin, with the best being an Unholy death knight. Still, we're the new kids on the block, even if we are over a year old as a class. For that reason alone, you'll probably meet some people who are inclined to dislike death knight tanks. Look at it as an opportunity to prove them wrong.

AddOn Spotlight: EveryQuest

In patch 3.3 we gained the ability to view what quests we had completed. This ability was given to us through a backend API call that returned a list of completed quest IDs. While the normal user wouldn't be able to do anything with this data, addon authors rejoiced as they now had a mechanism to find out exactly what quests you had, and thus hadn't, completed yet.

There are a few addons now that let you see exactly what quests you have left to do on your way to Loremaster, and in this AddOn Spotlight we'll take a look at my personal favorite, EveryQuest. EveryQuest is a well integrated addon that existed prior to patch 3.3, where it would track all the quests you did since you installed EveryQuest. However now the functionality has been extended and serves as my preferred method in advancing my questing achievements.


Install EveryQuest just like every other addon, drag the EveryQuest folder into the addons folder and run the game. Once you get in however, you're going to need to click a few buttons to get EveryQuest to populate itself with your previously completed quests. To do this go type "/everyquest" in the chat box and then click on the "Options" button. You can get to the options screen a few different ways, but that's the easiest.

Once in the options window go down to "Server Query" and click the "Auto Populate" check box, just as pictured above. Then click the "Query Server" button. This will have EveryQuest automatically query the server for every completed quest and use the results of that query to fill in its own database. The game will appear to hang for a few moments, but that's normal as the server and your client work together. Don't Alt-F4 or get jittery, relax and let things happen.

Once all your quests have been populated into EveryQuest's database, you'll see some information spit out in your chat box, including the number of quests that were added. My neglected warrior had done 2,226 quests, for instance.

Using the AddOn

Through the command line you can access EveryQuest by typing "/everyquest". But the preferred way, at least for me, is to access it through the quest log window by clicking the "EQ" button, as shown above. You'll then be presented with the EveryQuest window that lets you browse quests by zones. Completed quests are shown in green, incomplete quests are shown in white.

With this information you can easily see what quests you have left to do, and discover more information about the quests by typing the quest name into Wowhead. However, EveryQuest integrates amazingly well with the in-game Wowhead addon LightHeaded, and if you have both installed, clicking on the quest in EveryQuest's list will open up the LightHeaded information in your Quest Log window. From there you see if the quest is part of a chain, find what you have to do in order to get the quest, and read the various Wowhead comments about the quest.

Additional Options

There are a bunch of great additional options that you can use to configure EveryQuest's behavior to meet your own exacting needs. If you're using EveryQuest to help you level, you can setup filters to only show quests that are level appropriate. If you're using it to help you complete the questing achievements, like Loremaster, you can have it only display uncompleted quests.

It's worth it to take a few minutes and poke around at the various selections and filters in the options window, especially if you'll be using EveryQuest often.

Complementary AddOns

Kandarz, the EveryQuest author recommends that you install a few other addons with EveryQuest, and I fully agree with him. The recommended complimentary addons are:

You can grab EveryQuest from the usual sources:

EveryQuest's WoWAce Homepage


January 12, 2010

WoW Blood Pact: Leveling a warlock, 40 to 60

Blood Pact is your weekly warlock digest brought to you by Dominic Hobbs. "Closer! Come closer... and burn!" ~ Keli'dan the Breaker

Once again Blood Pact turns its gaze towards those up-and-coming warlocks; those who are learning the craft, battling foes to hone their skills and sharpen their minds. I've said before that leveling a warlock is great fun and part of this is due to the diverse ways in which you can go about it. By the time you start getting a decent pile of talent points to spend you can shape your lock in many and varied forms. There's the unstoppable train of death that is the affliction lock, cursing and corrupting all around it as it passes smoothly through the world. The demonologist, pouring their power into their minion and pushing them into the fore while sitting back and calmly picking off their foes. And of course, the destruction warlock, blazing a trail of raw power in an explosive display of mental prowess over physical frailty.

Let's see how these locks in training are getting on.

As I said in the last leveling guide, it's not Blood Pact's job to teach you how to level. The gathering of experience through quests and the like is very important and following a guide can be very handy, but this is not that guide. This is about being a warlock for the time between level 40 and 60. If you do want some help in questing then I linked a couple of very good addons in that last article, these can help a lot, as can many others.

I'm also not going to focus too heavily on our minions or skills that are general to the class through all the levels. Regular readers of Blood Pact will know that this is being covered in the 'meet the minions' series. This has covered such important topics as imps and the control of minions, voidwalkers and threat, the succubus and crowd control and the felhunter and mage-hate (as well as a look at the infernal and doomguard).


As I said in the 10-40 guide, you can place your talents all over the place and still have a lot of fun. This is certainly true if you focus on one tree in particular. The tree we focused on in that article was affliction, the reason being that it is considered the quickest leveling build until around the 50+ mark. We left you with this build as an example of something to work to at level 40, this can be continued to level 49 with this setup:

Example level 49 affliction build.

This is very much an example and you can move a lot of the points about as you see fit to work with your play-style and preference. At level 50 you have a choice to make. Do you want to carry on with affliction or swap over to demonology and get a felguard?

If you decide to stay with affliction then you can learn Unstable Affliction which is another DoT and a really nice spell. When I say 'nice' I'm referring to how I think it's a very warlock-y spell, especially with its dispel mechanic. It also is a requirement for Pandemic, which is also a great talent.

Moving over to demonology and getting yourself another pet is the 'standard form' though some suggest waiting until you can support the build with talents from another tree (to boost your own damage). Personally I don't think that's necessary. You may be a little nerfed but since you have just swapped spec it's probably a good idea to spend some time cleaning up some green quests while you learn the new setup.

The felguard will be the subject of a meet the minions article before long but briefly, for those who have never had one before, he does more damage than any of your other minions (only exception is the doomguard but you have to wait till 60 for him), generates more threat than a voidwalker and is almost as hard to kill. This makes him a great front-man to your background machinations. I was uncertain about the guy to begin with but after a very short time I came to really enjoy having him around; both for solo and party/raid work.

If you do want to swap to demonology at 50 here's an example build that will make your new demon nice and strong.

Example level 50 demonology build.

For those of you going with destruction at this point you will have found that you can now reach Shadowfury. There are those that love this spell and while I agree that it is great fun to use and opens up a number of cool tricks, it's generally too much bother for me to worry about. If you enjoy it then go for your life, it's very cool, but I wouldn't worry if you find yourself under-whelmed by it.


What happened to all the new spells? Between levels 11 and 40 you gain 25 brand new spells to cast, but between 41 and 60 there are 5. You do get a lot of spell upgrades however, so it's still worth going back to the trainer often. I'll add the spells from talents below as well.

Level 42 - Death Coil - Sometimes referred to as 'Skill Coil' by those who look on it as a warlock 'I WIN' button. This is pretty unfair as most classes have something that takes their opponent out of the game for a short time and many have more than us locks. That said, it's a great panic button with a 'run-away' effect that is short enough to use in tight spaces without calling down the fury of every mob in the area.

Level 48 - Soul Fire - Without Decimation this is a spell that tends to get dusty in the back of the spell book. With Decimation, it covers the execute phase with great big fiery balls of crit.

Level 50 - Inferno - You fight not just this warlock alone but the legions he commands! Summon forth meteors from the heavens to smite your enemy and raise up rock-demons terrify the populous. Well, that's what it's like in my head but you can read the last Blood Pact for what it's really like.

Level 50 minimum - Unstable Affliction - An awesome extra DoT with a sting in its tail.

Level 50 minimum - Summon Felguard - New and hugely powerful minion to play with.

Level 50 minimum - Shadowfury - AoE, ranged and damaging stun. A lot of fun if a little novelty/situational.

Level 60 - Ritual of Doom - Summon the most powerful demon available to players; but only if you have been on a long and arduous quest, have four other people with you and remembered to go to the shops beforehand. Great spell, sadly too much hassle for too little gain. Also a topic of last week's Blood Pact.

Level 60 - Curse of Doom - The spell that does the highest damage in a single strike and has the best damage-per-execute-time as well. Unfortunately your enemies have time to make tea and buttered crumpets between cast and damage. So unless this fight is going to take some time you don't need this spell.


No real change in the gear during this phase in leveling as it's still almost all Old-world stuff. Check out the last piece for a bit more detail. When you reach level 58 you are eligible for the Outland quests which will start throwing massive (though somewhat ugly) upgrades at you; so don't go investing in anything expensive in the latter half of the 50s.


Scarlet Monastery is probably getting a bit old for you now so Zul'Farrak, Maraudon and Sunken Temple should do you through the 40s with Blackrock Depths, Dire maul, Blackrock Spire (lower first, then maybe upper later), Scholomance and Stratholme through the 50s. Don't feel you have to go into these places if you like to play solo but they can get some nice upgrades, complete some nice quests and also teach some important warlock skills.

PvP / Balltlegrounds

If you like. I wouldn't, but don't let that stop you. Apparently there are lots of mages there that you can kill, so can't be all bad.

Final note

While playing about on Wowhead for this article I stumbled across a poem about the felguard that seems to be written by a disgruntled DPS warrior. Worth a read if you have the time.

WoW Guide to the Oculus

Really, WoW.com? A guide to the Oculus of all things? Over a year after the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, you're doing an Oculus walkthrough? Is that necessary? Boy, I wish it weren't. We're all sick of hearing about this place by now, but of all the instances and raids in the game, this is the one where nobody seems to be sure what to do or where to go. I haven't seen players this confused since Sunwell.

All strategy and ability discussion in this guide discuss the heroic version of the Oculus. Beyond the cut below you will find simple strategies for each of the bosses in the Oculus, as well as maps to help you find your way through the environment.

Band of Variance

Drakos the Interrogator is the first boss in the Oculus, coming just after the bridge of many whelps. Despite what the visuals of his encounter suggest, the fight doesn't require a very heavy amount of movement or coordination.

His abilities are as follows:
Magic Pull: Teleports all nearby enemy targets to the caster.
Thundering Stomp: Stomp the ground, dealing Physical damage to enemies in a large area and knocking them into the air. On heroic, this ability also slows your movement speed for five seconds.
Summon explosives: Drakos summons a bunch of bombs that scuttle along the ground and explode after a few seconds.

The tank pulls Drakos, and tanks him wherever he pleases. The healer and DPS do their thing. The bombs that scurry around do not explode upon contact or proximity, they're just on a timer. They also do not do a lot of damage, so don't panic. Just make sure you're not standing near four or five of them at a time. If you're starting to get worried, just move.

When Drakos uses Magic Pull (and he will use it often) the ranged and healer should just go back out to where they were. Thundering Stomp might make this difficult at times, but it just slows you down. It doesn't stop you from moving entirely.

Drakos should die fairly easily, at which point your party gets to choose your drakes for the run by talking to one of the three NPCs that step out of their cages.

To sum up: Don't panic. Tank. Spank.

Band of Acceleration
This is where the instance gets "hard" for many people. Note the quotes there. If I were saying this out loud, I would be making those obnoxious air quotes with my fingers. In reality, it's very easy and the hardest part of it all is getting your party to stick together and move in one direction. As I said in The Queue the other day, most people who have had bad experiences with Oculus had them simply because people split up and got lost. If you think your party will need a visual aid, mark someone with a target marker (not the blue square, for the love of all things righteous) and tell everyone to follow them.

Here are your current drake abilities:

Ruby Drake:
Searing Wrath http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50232
Evasive Aura http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50248
Evasive Maneuvers http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50240

Emerald Drake:
Leeching Poison http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50328
Touch the Nightmare http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=50341

Amber Drake:
Shock Lance http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49840
Stop Time http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49838

The Ruby Drake is the tank, the Emerald Drake is the healer, and the Amber Drakes are DPS. In this stretch of the instance, when you're just killing trash blue drakes flying around, it would be a good idea to learn how your abilities work together. The Ruby Drake generates a lot of threat, then avoids the damage with the second ability. The Amber Drake stops time, which applies a debuff that boosts the damage of their nuke. The Emerald Drake drains the opponents' life and can use that to debuff the enemy.

My composition recommendation is one red, one green, and three bronze drakes. Your party may decide otherwise (especially if someone is doing achievements) and that's fine. Any combination is workable. My recommendation is simply what I've found to be the easiest.

If you are not at all familiar with how these drakes work, you choose your drake by talking to the appropriate NPC. The drake appears as an item in your inventory, which you can summon and dismiss as you please. You will be using them to fly from platform to platform, kill the flying drake trash, and you will fight the final boss astride them.

Now, You want to fly straight up until you're level with the next tier of platforms. Kill all of the blue drakes in between you and your target, the ten Centrifuge Constructs littering this tier of the Oculus. I've detailed on this map my recommended flight path, which will have the least resistance. You don't need to use it, but if you've never done Oculus before I recommend it. Once you've killed all ten constructs, the next boss will drop his big purple shield and you can go shiv the poor guy.

Varos Cloudstrider is one of those bosses that players die to constantly for no good reason at all. A couple of things tend to go wrong with this guy.
Groups pull Varos before killing the blue drakes above him. The drakes aggro onto someone when you pull Varos, and suddenly you have to deal with a pissed off blue dragon without the help of your own dragons. To avoid this, just kill everything around his platform. If you neglect to kill them all and you do get an add, a death knight can Death Grip the drake down into melee range if you happen to have one in your party.

Players stand right in Varos's only dangerous ability: Energize Cores. It's a cone attack that is displayed in the video you will see in just a moment.

Varos's other abilities:

Amplify Magic: Increases magic damage taken by up to 1800 and healing by up to 3600. Can be dispelled.

Summon Azure Ring Captain: Varos calls for help, and a drake shoots a laser beam down on your party. Just move out of the way of the laser.
Pull Varos, move out of his cone, move out of the laser, dispel Amplify Magic if you're able. That's the entire fight. To see the cone and the laser in motion, simply watch the video below.


To sum up: Take one red drake, one green drake, three bronze drakes. When you reach Varos, stay out of the laser cone, don't stand in the sky laser.

Band of TransmutationOnce Varos is dead, you want to fly straight up until you're level with the next tier, just like last time. Now you're chasing down Mage-Lord Urom. The type of movement you want to use here on your drakes can be seen on this map, though which platform is your starting point doesn't really matter. Approach Urom, he'll chicken out and leave you with some magical constructs, which you can dispatch pretty easily. Repeat this on the next two platforms, and then he'll appear down on the center area of the big sparkly tower.

Mage-Lord Urom is incredibly simple for a group of primarily ranged DPS, and a bit harder for pure melee.

His abilities are:

Frostbomb: Launches a Frostbomb that deals Frost damage and freezes the ground, dealing periodic damage and slowing the movement speed of enemies in an area. Urom uses this on the tank.

Time Bomb: Deals 4560 to 5040 Arcane damage and plants a time bomb in an enemy target. After 6 seconds the bomb explodes, dealing additional Arcane damage to nearby enemies equal to the amount of health missing from the target.

Empowered Arcane Explosion: Sends out a blast wave of magic, inflicting Arcane damage to nearby enemies.

If you have primarily melee DPS, your healer will need to put some effort into keeping them all alive through the stacking Frostbomb debuff. The tank can pull Urom out of the AOE, but he uses it frequently enough that you're probably not going to be out of the first one before he drops another one. Ranged DPS don't even need to worry about it.

Time Bomb is non-threatening if your healer is on the ball. If your healer is falling behind, it gets more and more dangerous as everyone's health gets progressively lower.

Empowered Arcane Explosion (with its 6 second cast time) is the ability that tends to murder people. When Mage-Lord Urom teleports to the very center of the Oculus, your job is to get out of line of sight. If you look around the area before pulling Urom, you'll notice there are a few pillars at regular intervals around the ring. If you try to tank Urom near one of those, you can just scurry behind it when he teleports and you will never be hit by the Arcane Explosion.

If you're not mindful of where he's being tanked, you might get caught with your pants down in the middle of a Frostbomb, totally unable to reach a column before he finishes casting. That's bad, so just pay attention to where you are.

Of course, all of this is completely moot if your group is extremely well geared. Especially if you have a shaman. Pop Bloodlust/Heroism, your group goes crazy on Urom, and you will probably kill him before he even teleports once.

To sum up: If your group is poorly geared, try to move Urom out of the frost on the ground so the DoT doesn't murder your melee. If you're well geared, it doesn't even matter and this is just a tank and spank. When Urom teleports to the middle, stand behind a column to avoid the incoming damage.

Band of Alignment

Once you've killed Urom and looted his bloodied corpse, it's time to learn another ability or two on your drake, as their true potential has completely randomly and arbitrarily unlocked.

Ruby Drake:

Martyr: Redirect all harmful spells cast at friendly drakes to yourself for 10 sec. When combined with Evasive Maneuvers, the tank essentially gets to pull damage away from everyone else and then avoid it himself.

Emerald Drake:

Dream Funnel: Transfers 5% of the caster's max health to a friendly drake every second for 10 seconds as long as the caster channels. Use this to heal your party members. Since it's draining your health to heal them, you'll want to keep three stacks of your Leeching Poison on the boss at all times.

Amber Drake:
Temporal Rift: Channels a temporal rift on an enemy dragon for 10 sec. While trapped in the rift, all damage done to the target is increased by 100%. In addition, for every 15,000 damage done to a target affected by Temporal Rift, 1 Shock Charge is generated. Essentially, you want to channel this spell until you see 10 Shock Charges on the boss. When it hits 10, use your Shock Lance to use it up for a great, big nuke. Repeat until boss is dead.

The next boss, Ley-Guardian Eregos, is directly above you. It is the first and only boss you actually fight astride your drakes. If you need to practice your new abilities you should do so on the whelps in your way up to him before it's too late.

When pulling Eregos, try to do so starting at one of the three platforms rotating around his tier. Wait for him to come around to where you are, and have your Ruby rider start nuking away at him to build threat. Eregos's basic offensive abilities are very straightforward nukes, so I won't go into too much detail there. However, there are two major abilities worth noting.
Enraged Assault: Increases damage done by 25% and casting speed by 100% for 12 seconds. When Eregos uses this, his damage output goes way up. However, an Amber Drake can use Stop Time, which will prevent Eregos from taking advantage of this buff.

Planar Shift: At set intervals, Eregos will 'phase out' and become immune to damage. At this time, he will summon a few blinky orbs which will slowly move in your direction. After 18 seconds, these orbs will explode for massive damage. This is typically what wipes groups, but like Enraged Assault, completely avoidable. Following the map for this tier, your group needs to simply move to the next platform. Once there, you can just wait for Eregos to phase back in and you can let him come to you to continue the fight.

After the many nerfs to this instance, Eregos will die in no time with three Amber Drakes nuking away. Fly down to the platform that holds your loot, and don't forget to check the chest if you ended up with Oculus via the random dungeon tool. There's prizes waiting for you!

Spider-Man 4 canceled; Warcraft movie soon?

Sam Raimi will no longer be directing Spider-Man 4, and neither will anyone else for that matter. Sony Pictures announced today that they are canning the current Spider-Man franchise and will be rebooting it in the summer of 2012 with an entirely new director, cast, and crew.

Raimi's decision to withdraw from the project supposedly stems from the summer 2011 release date, and how it would compromise the creative integrity of the film. This all comes after news that complications in the Spider-Man 4 script threatened to delay the film.

For Blizzard fans, this could mean that Raimi is now free to shift his focus to the World of Warcraft movie. However, Mike Fleming of Deadline Hollywood cites an alternative project option to the Azerothian epic, The Given Day, a novel written by Dennis Lehane, author of Shutter Island and Mystic River.

No official announcements from Raimi or Blizzard yet, however Fleming is a very reliable source for rumors in Hollywood.

[Thanks to everyone for the tips!]

WoW Daily Quest: Feral cat druid guides and goodness

Feral cat guides on the internet seem harder to find than other spec guides, so I've collected a few here for those of you looking to claw faces with greater efficiency.

*WoW Wiki's Feral DPS Guide: A very comprehensive guide for cat druids covering specs and glyphs, dps rotation, gear stat explanations, Rawr video walkthrough, enchants, gems, consumables and more. http://www.wowwiki.com/Feral_DPS_guide

*Melee hit table FAQ for feral druids: The Fluid Druid blog breaks down why cat druids need to hit the hit cap. http://thefluiddruid.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/melee-hit-table-faq/

*Cat Druid best in slot gear list updated for Icecrown: Kalon has actually rated a long list of top items available to cat druids for each slot, but don't we all just look at the best in slot and skip the rest? http://wowthinktank.blogspot.com/2009/12/druid-icecrown-gear-list-for-cats.html

*Best 3.3 non-tier cat gear: Kalon is at it again, this time listing the best gear you can get for the 5 tier slots if you don't have new T10 gear, yet. http://wowthinktank.blogspot.com/2009/12/druidbest-non-set-piece-for-cats-in.html

*Cat dps guide for Icecrown Citadel: Lower Spire: Jacemora gives a down and dirty bullet point listing of strats for each one of the ICC bosses. http://jacemora.com/raiding-as-feral/a-short-guide-to-kitty-dps-in-icc-lower-spire/