How To Avoid Three Monthers

Yep, the “Three Monther” debate is still going – but interestingly, the discussion has now moved into ways to create MMOs with longer-term appeal, with two really constructive, interesting posts.

First up, Syncaine shows the other side of his blogging nature as someone who’s really passionate about MMOs as a genre, with this fascinating piece on how, in his opinion, a games company can avoid – or profit from – the “three monther” phenomenon

“Consider these two stark contrasts. In GW2 you have access to EVERYTHING your character can do combat-wise at level 30, which lets be really kind and say takes 30 days to reach. In EVE, you won’t be able to sit (forget flying well) in one of the biggest ships (Titan) in the first 177 days, assuming you do NOTHING but straight train towards that (and completely ignoring how you would actually acquire one).

The question at hand is not which method you would prefer, or which one is more ‘fun’. The question is simply this: out of the two options above, which one sounds like it’s designed for a game that the devs expect you to play long-term, and which one is designed to be played in a short burst?

Of course for the 177 day training to be found worthwhile, everything else around it must also work to some extent, and in EVE it does. I’m by no means saying that long-term retention is as simple as extending the ‘grind’ and calling it a day. As I’ve said thousands of times now, long-term retention design is HARD. Really, really hard. But hard does not mean impossible, and under the right conditions, long-term retention done well can yield WoW (12m subs). Most likely it yields EVE (400k subs). Maybe if you really go niche it yields Darkfall (100b subs). So long as you properly identify your market size and deliver something for it, you can be successful on a variety of levels. Not everyone (anyone?) can be WoW, and that’s ok.”

There’s some very good advice here, and I hope that the people we don’t know of who are sitting in meeting rooms right now designing 2016’s MMORPG offerings are reading and taking notes!

Meanwhile, Keen and Graev take a different tactic – looking at the origins of WoW, and what it did to succeed

“Blizzard did exactly what they needed to do with World of Warcraft back in 2004: Make something unique that addresses a need in the market. As this GameIndustry.biz article points out, Blizzard’s success is not magic. GameIndustry thinks it is hard work setting World of Warcraft apart. It’s not hard work at play here; No, it’s good work. Success is enjoyed because WoW is unique.

Back in 2004, WoW was unique because it was different. Today, it’s unique for being the best and most innovating leader among its clone army. You see, despite what the GameIndustry article says, WoW is indeed an outlier deviating markedly from other members of the sample. Among many other reasons — and I do mean many – a major factor in success then and now is uniqueness.”*

This is a short piece but an interesting one. One of the traps of MMORPG design theory is that it’s easy to take the current state of a game – or the entire field – as being representative of how it has always been. Particularly in the case of WoW, we’re starting to see how untrue that is, and how important an understanding of the game’s evolution is to study of MMORPGs as a whole.

What do you think? Are there reliable, repeatable ways to build a long-term MMO these days?

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Mists of Pandaria information – Monk class, Pandaren, Dungeon Challenge, Pet Battle… UPDATED FOR BLIZZCON 2011

Breaking News – Yes, the fourth WoW expansion is indeed Mists of Pandaria. We’re told that the expansion will focus on the battle between Alliance and Horde “in a place that has been lost in time to close to ten thousands years. It is a land of balance, harmony, and hope — that is, until we arrived.”

New features in Mists of Pandaria

  • Pandaren race for both Alliance AND Horde.
  • New Monk class
  • Level cap raised to 90
  • Dungeon Challenge system with normalised iLevels and time challenges.
  • “Scenario” instances for small numbers of people, replacing group quests.
  • Entire new Asian-inspired continent with 5 areas, each larger than Twilight Highlands (allegedly).
  • Pandaren start on the back of a giant turtle. Really.
  • Pet battle system – it’s Pokemon in WOW!
  • 5 new zones – to quote the official site, “Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.”
  • Completely redesigned talent system – one talent every 15 levels, choice of three per “tier”.
  • 9 dungeons and 3 raids on launch, including Heroic Scholomance and Heroic Scarlet Monastery (split into two dungeons).

Smaller features

  • Ranged slots have been removed. Hunters now use ranged weapons as their main weapon. Casters use wands.
  • 4 new PvP battlegrounds with a variety of new formats.
  • Passive buff totems for Shamans have been removed.
  • Stats will be normalised to reverse the “stat inflation” of previous expansions.
  • No flying in the new zones until you reach level cap.
  • Many Achievements will now be account-wide.
  • The graphics engine of WoW is getting some significant tweaks.
  • Resilience is now becoming a base stat, which will increase as you level.
  • Druids now have 4 specs: Bear is being separated out into “Guardian”.
  • Spells now automatically learned. Trainers are just for changing talent spec.

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Trailers

Main Expansion Trailer:

“B-roll” zone trailer:

More soon!

Original article follows:

The discovery of a patent filed by Blizzard for something called Mists Of Pandaria has caused a virtual mexican wave of excited speculation around the blogosphere. But just how much Mists of Pandaria information is there out there? Some, but not that much. Much of what we think we know is speculation.

The most popular theory, of course, is that Mists Of Pandaria will be the name of the next World Of Warcraft Expansion, but at this stage it remains just that: a theory.

What we know

Nothing.

Blizzard have indeed filed a trademark, as you can see from the original post on MMO Champion which kicked off the fuss. Many people are saying that Blizzard could be doing this for all sorts of reasons, including just to put people off the trail. That seems unlikely – an international trademark costs several thousand dollars including legal fees, and even Blizzard doesn’t throw thousands of dollars around on a whim. However, that doesn’t mean it is the name of the next expansion. Trademarks are registered for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes don’t end up being used for anything.

Similar trademarks were filed for previous World Of Warcraft expansions, so if Mists Of Pandaria were to be the next expansion, this trademark application would certainly fit. Either way, if Blizzard follows the pattern they’ve established for previous expansions, we won’t hear anything concrete until Blizzcon in October, at the very earliest. If this leaked Blizzard product slate is anything to go by, the next WoW expansion will be released in Q2 of 2012.

Of course, that’s not going to stop the community from speculating wildly. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular theories (as well as some of the most preposterous).

Playable pandas – the Pandaren race

It’s a safe bet that an expansion called Mists Of Pandaria will feature the Pandaren in some way. These cuddly, ale-loving, ninja pandas have been a part of Warcraft lore for years, but have never featured heavily in World Of Warcraft. Whether the Pandaren become a new playable race, as some commentators are hoping (others dreading), or whether the Pandaren are merely an important faction to the new expansion’s storyline, this would be a major deal.

It’d be an extrordinary journey for the Pandaren – a race which was originally born as an April Fool’s joke! Players responded so positively to the idea of a race of ninja pandas that they became incorporated into the game lore.

Azshara and the Naga

Early rumors and speculation for the Cataclysm expansion hinted that a major player would be the Naga Queen, Azshara. That never really came to pass (although Cataclysm does expand significantly on the Naga, particularly through some of the questlines in Vashj’ir) but it may be that the Queen Azshara content was merely deferred. An expansion set in the southern Pandaran islands would be the perfect setting for a final confrontation with Azshara, and the idea of the Naga queen as an end-of-expansion boss has got a lot of people excited.

Kvaldir in the mists

The ‘Pandaria’ aspect of the thing-that-might-just-possibly-be-an-expansion is firing the most gossip, of course, but the ‘Mists’ aspect is potentially interesting, too. Mist is very closely associated with the race of giants known as the Vrykul, particularly the seafaring Vrykul known as the Kvaldir.

Their storyline opened up as part of Wrath Of The Lich King, but we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far. Everything we know about the Vrykul has only led to more questions. Were they created directly by the Titans? Are they the progenitors of the human race on Azeroth? What exactly is the relationship between the Kvaldir and the Naga?

What do you think? Do you have more hard information? Let us know below!

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Easy mounts to get in WoW

Where would Gandalf be without Shadowfax? Where would Don Quixote be without Rocinante? Where would Shrek be without Donkey? Whatever type of hero you want to play, one thing’s for sure: you’ll need a suitably heroic steed. To help you along, here’s our list of easy mounts to get in WoW.

Once your World of Warcraft character hits level 20, you’ll be able to learn the Apprentice Riding skill, which sounds rather unpleasant for the poor apprentice, but is actually just the skill you need to be able to ride at all. Once you’ve trained that skill, you’ll be able to obtain and ride a mount. As well as making you travel faster, mounts come in a wide variety of types, colors and sizes. Some of the more exotic mounts require you to be either very lucky, very persistant, or – most often – both in order to aquire them, but there are some basic mounts which are easy to get hold of.

Racial mounts

By far the easiest mounts to get hold of are those provided by your own race. For Horde characters, these will be Wolves for Orcs, Kodos for Tauren, Raptors for Trolls, Skeletal Horses for Undead, Hawkstriders for Blood Elves, and Trikes for Goblins. For Alliance characters, the choices are Elekk for Draenei, Rams for Dwarves, Mechanostriders for Gnomes, Horses for Humans, and Sabers for Night Elves. Worgen have no racial mount – instead they just get down on all fours and run!

You’ll automatically be able to buy the mounts for your own race, but you can obtain the mounts for other races of your faction once you hit Exalted reputation with that race. The exception to this is the Worgen Running Wild ability, which only Worgen characters can learn.

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Class mounts

Depending on your class, you may have another easy way to get a mount: your class mount. Not every class has a mount, but those that do usually learn the ability automatically and for free at level 20. Warlocks will learn to summon a Felsteed. Paladins will also automatically gain a mount – the exact nature of which will depend on the paladin’s race.

If you’re playing a druid or a shaman, you won’t have access to any class specific mounts, but you will be able to transform yourself into a form with faster movement – a cat for a druid, and a ghost wolf for a shaman.

Easy quest mounts

While the aquisition of most mounts will require some effort, there are a few which are easier than others. If you’re looking for an ususual mount that won’t require too much work to obtain, try one of these:

Venomhide Ravasaur

Available to Horde characters only, this rideable raptor is a reward from a series of daily quests given out by Mor’vek in Un’Goro crater. You’ll need to be of a high enough level to wander around Un’Goro crater without being instantly eaten, but the quests are easy. It’ll take you 20 days in total to get your mount.

Brown Riding Camel and Tan Riding Camel

Once you’re Exalted with the Ramkahen faction in Uldum, you’ll be able to buy these mounts from Blacksmith Abasi.

Armored Brown Bear

There are several mounts which can be bought for cold, hard cash, but this is among the cheapest. At 800g, it’ll still leave your pockets lighter, but if you want to ride an armored bear into battle like Lyra Belacqua, visit Mei Francis in Dalaran.

Talbuks

Getting to Exalted reputation with the Kurenai or Mag’har in Outland can be a bit of a grind, but you’ll get access to eight different talbuk mounts if you do so, which makes it worth considering.

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WoW: How to leave a guild

Sometimes you’ve just had enough of WoW. How to leave a guild can be a tricky dilema – for you and for your fellow guild members. It’s easy to accidentally create resentment and anger. Sometimes, too, it’s hard to know how best to leave.

Here are our top tips for leaving your guild with the minimum of drama.

How to leave your guild

Guild membership is seperate for every character, so if you have more than one character in the same guild, you’ll need to quit seperately for each one. It’s entirely possible to have a character in one guild, and another character in an entirely different guild.

When you’re ready to actually leave, there are several ways to do the deed.

  • Type /gquit into any chat box, and you’ll be removed from your current guild.
  • Open the Guild window from the mini-menu (default keyboard shortcut J, and select the Roster tab. Right-click your name, and select Leave Guild.
  • Your guild leader (or another high-ranking guild official) can ‘kick’ you from the guild.

It’s not you, it’s me

There are plenty of good reasons for leaving your current guild, not all of them acrimonious. Perhaps your guild is simply not the sort of guild you’re looking for – maybe you want to participate in 25-man raids, but your guild only ever runs 10-man raids. Maybe you’ve got really addicted to PvP arenas and you want to find a guild which specializes in PvP. Or perhaps you just find yourself online at different times to the rest of your guild and therefore miss out on the social aspect.

Whatever the reason, if you don’t feel that your current guild is working out, there’s no reason not to raise your concerns with your guild leaders and discuss it. Most guild leaders will be happy to talk to you about it, and in many cases will entirely understand your reasons for leaving. It’s hard for one guild to be all things to all players, after all.

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When things turn bad

Unfortunately, sometime your desire to leave your guild will stem from less pleasant reasons.

You may wish to leave because you feel that you’re not being treated fairly – being disproportionately passed over for raid spots or loot. If that’s the case, it’s still worth at least trying to talk it over with your guild leaders first. These situations do sometimes arise unintentionally, and if the guild can make moves to rectify the balance, you may not need to leave after all.

A more troubling scenario would be one in which you felt uncomfortable with some or all of your guildmates. Tasteless jokes in guild chat are not against the rules in WoW (although they may very well contravene your guild’s own policies) but if you feel you’re being harrased or abused by one or more members of a guild, you should report it. The first person to turn to is your guild leader: detail the abuse you’ve received and explain why you think it’s unacceptable. Your guild leader may be able to resolve the problem. If that doesn’t work, you can report abuse to a Blizzard GM. Blizzard’s definitions of “abuse” are quite strict, but you will be listened to.

Of course, it’s usually a good idea to talk to the abusive player directly first of all. What you viewed as unacceptable abuse may have been meant by them as merely a joke, or light-hearted teasing. Raising your concerns with the player in question is sometimes enough to warrant an apology and the end of the abusive behaviour.

The downsides of /gquit

If you quit your guild, you’ll eventually lose any points of Reputation you may have built up. When you join a new guild, you’ll have to start the grind again from scratch. Any reputation-dependant items you may have aquired from your old guild (recipes, heirloom items, etc) will not be taken away from you. You’ll also lose access to any guild perks, of course – so your 15-minute hearstone, 10% experience boost, and other guild perks will no longer be yours to command.

If you don’t join another guild and rejoin your old guild within 30 days of quitting, your points of Reputation will remain intact. Joining a new guild will reset your guild reputation.

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Firelands Boss Guides: Healing Shannox

Shannox, along with his two pet dogs, is one of the first bosses you’ll encounter in the new Firelands raids. Although not the hardest boss in terms of healing, Shannox will definitely require your healing team to be on the ball.

As you’ll see from our detailed guides to Shannox strategy, this is a two-phase fight. The first phase requires you to keep healing your assigned targets while avoiding Shannox’s traps. The second phase is a burn phase during which Shannox will be pumping out truly shocking amounts of damage. Your job during that second phase is to help your raid cling on to life until the DPS can take Shannox down.

A lot of the damage in this fight will be Fire damage, so fire resistance buffs are mandatory.

Starting positions

The fight consists of three mobs, all of whom you’ll be fighting at once. The main tank will be on Shannox, with the off-tank taking Riplimb some distance away. Rageface can’t be tanked, so he’ll be running amok through your raid. Spread out at the start of the fight. Ranged DPS will be doing the same.

Things not to stand in (spoiler alert – one of them is fire)

Shannox will regularly drop _Immolation Trap_s and _Crystal Prison Trap_s. Both of these look like standard Hunter traps, so they’re easy to spot. You should avoid standing in either of them. The _Immolation Trap_s will do fire damage, but the _Crystal Prison Trap_s will prevent you from performing any action at all until the rest of the raid frees you. Getting a healer caught in a trap like that can often mean an unexpected meeting with the spirit healer, so watch where you stand.

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Shannox will frequently throw his spear in the direction of Riplimb. Any player standing in that spot when the spear lands is dead, so move out of the way as soon as you see the indicator appear (it’s a big fiery circle on the ground).

Once the spear has been thrown, there’s a secondary effect – a lot of smaller, one hit only, fires on the ground. Avoid standing directly on those and they won’t trigger.

Healing the tanks

As well as regular melee damage, both tanks will quickly acquire the debuff Jagged Tear. Not only is this a DoT, it can stack, so you’ll need to be ready to compensate with sparkly feelgood green HoTs.

The tanks should be coordinating so that Jagged Tear drops off when Shannox throws his spear. This will give you a bit of breathing space , but be prepared for Jagged Tear to start stacking up again soon afterwards.

Healing the raid

Shannox does a Cleave attack, which in an ideal world shouldn’t hit anyone other than the main tank, but be prepared for melee DPS to be accidentally caught in the cone from time to time. You know what they’re like.

It’s also a good bet that some players will trigger an Immolation Trap, especially during the first few attempts at this boss. The trap will do immediate fire damage, plus additional fire damage over the next three seconds. It will also apply a debuff which lowers the target’s fire resistance.

When Shannox’s Hurl Spear ability lands, it’ll do a nasty 50k damage to everyone, which will need to be healed through. Watch out for the fiery explosions which come immediately afterwards, too, in case some raid members get caught out.

_Crystal Prison_s will be being triggered fairly regularly. Be aware that these block line-of-sight, so you may need to move to continue healing your target.

Off the leash

Rageface will be another source of continuous damage to your raid. He’ll target a random raid member and start to do serious amounts of damage. Your raid leader or healing leader will probably assign one healer specifically to track Rageface’s targets, and heal them through the damage.

Final phase

If everything’s gone according to plan, your raid will kill both dogs when Shannox is on about 35% health. At that point, Shannox will enrage. Expect the damage to the tanks to increase significantly. Your healing cooldowns should be saved for this phase if you possibly can. Coordinate with your tanks, too – they should be cycling mitigation cooldowns during this final phase.

Shannox will no longer be throwing his spear, but will instead regularly cast Magma Rupture, which does AoE fire damage and also increases the amount of fire damage taken. Be prepared for the main tank to die during this phase, even if your healing is top notch: it’s a difficult phase to endure unscathed.

That final phase can be a bit hair-raising, but if your DPS team are on the ball it shouldn’t last too long.

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Firelands Boss Guides – Shannox tactics

Welcome to the Firelands! It’s full of fire. You probably shouldn’t stand in it. The initial few bosses of the Firelands raid can be killed in any order, but the first one most raids attempt is Shannox. Tactics for this big bully and his fiery pets are simple, once you’ve got the hang of the fight mechanics.

Here’s our top tips guide to killing Shannox … and his little dawgs too.

Preparation

Shannox patrols throughout the middle area of the raid, with his two dogs Riplimb and Rageface. Before pulling Shannox, you should clear all the trash around the central area of the map.

You’ll need two tanks for this fight; one for Shannox and one for Riplimb. Rageface can’t be tanked – he’ll attack raid members at random, and generally cause a nuisance.

Things not to stand in

Shannox will regularly drop traps on the ground. These should be avoided at all costs. There are two types of trap – _Immolation Trap_s and _Crystal Fire Trap_s. Importantly, Shannox is not a very considerate pet owner, so his traps can (and will) affect Riplimb and Rageface as well as affecting players. Each trap will only affect one player (or dog), so once triggered will do no further damage.

_Immolation Trap_s cause fire damage. _Crystal Prison Trap_s encase their target in a crystal block, rendering the target incapable of performing any action until freed. If a raid member accidentally becomes trapped, DPS should switch to free them. The crystal prisons have a high health pool, so it’ll take several seconds of sustained DPS to destroy them.

Shannox will also regularly throw his spear to somewhere near Riplimb. Any player caught by the spear when it lands will be killed outright, so be sure to move away as soon as you see the indicator appear. It takes the form of a big red circle on the ground, and it’s easy to spot.

Once the spear throw has gone off, the ground will be covered with lots of little fiery explosions. They appear in a spiral pattern emanating from where the spear landed. Make sure not to be standing on them. Note that they don’t have any AoE effect, so there’s no need to move away from the spiral completely, just be sure not to be standing directly on one of the small fires.

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Playing dog-catcher

The sight of Shannox’s spear flying over his head is too much for Riplimb, and his doggie instincts take over. He’ll stop what he’s doing to chase the stick, grabbing it in his mouth and running back to Shannox to return it. You should spoil Riplimb’s fun by trapping him in a Crystal Prison Trap, thereby allowing your tanks a precious few seconds’ relief from the Ragged Tear debuff that both Shannox and Riplimb apply. Check out our detailed guide to tanking Shannox for more information.

Balancing act

Your eventual aim is to kill both dogs at roughly the same time. To complicate matters even further, you need to do this when Shannox is at about 35% health. Have your DPS switch targets if necessary to balance it out.

If Shannox dies before the dogs, the dogs will enrage and wipe the raid. If the dogs die before Shannox, Shannox will also enrage – but this at least is just about manageable. Each doggie death will give Shannox a 30% boost to his damage and a 30% boost to his attack speed – he really loved those dogs. Once the dogs are dead the fight becomes a classic burn phase – DPS hard, and let your tanks and healers cycle mitigation cooldowns to keep the tanks alive. Obviously, this is the time to call for Heroism/Bloodlust/Timewarp.

Dealing with Rageface

Rageface is one of those annoying, yappy dogs that runs round the room wanting to make friends with everyone. Once Rageface has picked his target the only way to distract him is giving him a firm, hard smack on the nose. In this case, the smack needs to take the form of a 30k crit. Unless and until Rageface receives 30,000 points of damage from a single blow, he’ll continue to maul the poor unfortunate soul he’s targeted. Luckily, while he’s doing so he gains a debuff which makes each shot that lands on him much more likely to be a critical.

Summary

The two keys to this fight are ensuring that all raid members avoid the various nasties on the floor, and making sure that your tanks manage to drop their stacks of Ragged Tear regularly. Once you’ve got those two tricks mastered, the fight becomes quite an easy one.

Why not check out our dedicated guides for Shannox melee DPS, Shannox as ranged DPS and healing Shannox?

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Firelands boss guides: Shannox – Ranged DPS duties

The first boss you’re likely to encounter in the Firelands raid is Shannox. Ranged DPS have an easier job in this fight than healers or tanks, but it can still be a little tricky to figure out the mechanics of this fight.

First of all, take a look over our guide to Shannox tactics to give you a good idea of Shannox tactics. You’ll see that your primary job is to avoid traps, and your secondary job is to focus DPS on your assigned target.

Initial positioning

You’ll most likely have two tanks for this fight – one on Shannox himself, and one on Riplimb. Rageface (Shannox’s other dog) can’t be tanked and is going to be a constant pain in the neck for you throughout this fight – perhaps even literally.

Once the tanks have positioned Shannox and Riplimb, spread out. The healers will be doing the same, so coordinate your position relative to the rest of the raid.

Your raid leader will assign a DPS target for you. This is most likely to be Riplimb, but you may be asked to DPS Shannox instead. Either way, this target will be your sole target for most of the fight – there’s very little target switching required.

Don’t stand in the … well, you get the idea

Your primary task during this fight is to avoid the traps that Shannox regularly drops. This takes priority over everything, even DPS. The traps in this fight look like standard Hunter traps, and are easy to spot.

There are two types of trap. The first is an Immolation Trap, which will burn your lovely shoes right off if you stand in it. It’s not an instant kill, but it throws out some nasty damage, and you’ll have a ‘fire hurts more’ debuff at various points during the fight, so be nice to your healers and don’t stand on the fire traps.

The second type of trap is called a Crystal Prison Trap, and is basically an ice-block. Stand on this nasty little device and it’ll encase you in crystal. You won’t be able to do anything at all until the crystal is shattered. That means that the rest of the raid will have to stop what they’re doing and DPS your prison to free you. The crystals have lots of health, so this is a distraction you don’t need.

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There’s another fight mechanic which effectively counts as a third type of trap. When Shannox throws his spear he’ll do colossal damage to anybody standing in the way. If you’re standing in the circle of fire once the spear comes down you’re virtually guaranteed to die. It’s easy to avoid – just look out for the big pillar of fire and make sure you step away from it as soon as it appears.

The secondary effect of Shannox’s spear throw is lots of little fires that appear on the ground after the spear throw triggers. There’ll be a lot of them, which can be quite panic-inducing the first time you see it, but – like the spear throw itself – they’re easy to avoid. They appear in a spiral pattern, moving outwards from the spear’s point of impact. Just make sure you’re not standing directly on one of them. They don’t have any AoE effect, so there’s no need to run right out of the spiral. Just move away from the individual fires.

The ‘hitting things’ part

Once you’re confident in your trap-avoidance skills, the actual DPS mechanics of this fight are pretty easy. Keep up sustained DPS on your assigned target, and watch the health meters of all three opponents. You’re aiming to kill both dogs when Shannox is on about 35% health.

Once the dogs are dead, Shannox will enrage and start doing very unpleasant things to your poor tanks. This is a classic burn phase, so DPS like a loon. Your big DPS cooldowns should all be saved for this phase. With a bit of luck, you should be able to take Shannox down before he turns the tanks into liquid smears of shame.

Here, boy!

If your single-target DPS is particularly hard-hitting, your raid leader may assign you to hit Rageface instead of Riplimb. Rageface can’t be tanked, and will regularly pick a random raid member to be mean to. Once Rageface has picked his target the only way to distract him is giving him a firm, hard smack on the nose. In this case, the smack needs to take the form of a 30k crit. Unless and until Rageface receives 30,000 points of damage from a single blow, he’ll continue to maul the poor unfortunate soul he’s targeted. Luckily, while he’s doing so he gains a debuff which makes each shot that lands on him much more likely to be a critical.

If you’ve been assigned to Rageface-distraction duty, your job is to hit him with a high-damage strike as soon as he picks a new target. After that, you can kite him until he picks a new target, then repeat the process.

Extra credit

When Shannox throws his spear, Riplimb will grab it and run back to Shannox to return it. If you have any slowing abilities, this is the time to use them. Riplimb can be slowed, and doing so will really help your tanks.

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Firelands Boss Guides – Shannox Tanking Tips

The first boss you’re likely to encounter in the new Firelands raid is Shannox. Tanking Shannox and his pets can be very challenging, but our tanking guide will help you along.

If you haven’t already done so, check out our guide to Shannox tactics, which will give you a good grounding in the basics of this encounter. Like the rest of the raid, you too should avoid the traps that Shannox throws down.

Of the three mobs in the encounter – Shannox, Riplimb and Rageface – only Shannox and Riplimb can be tanked. Rageface has no aggro table and will attack random raid members throughout the fight.

Shannox and Riplimb will both repeatedly apply a debuff, called Jagged Tear. This is a standard bleed effect, and it stacks. Managing Jagged Tear is the main challenge for tanks in this fight.

Both Shannox and Riplimb are immune to taunts, so you’ll have to build up threat the old-fashioned way.

The main tank role – getting all up in Shannox’s face

The main tank will be tanking Shannox himself. Position in standard raid boss style: in the center, towards the back, facing away from the raid. Maintaining a predictable facing for this boss is particularly important, as he cleaves in a 120° cone in front of him. Don’t let him hit the squishies.

Shannox will regularly throw his spear to somewhere near Riplimb. When this happens, he will be unable to reapply Jagged Tear until Riplimb runs back to him with the spear. This is the only opportunity you’ll have to allow your stacks of Jagged Tear to fall off.

He’s probably more scared of you than you are of him – off-tanking Riplimb

The off-tank task in this fight is to keep control of Riplimb. Riplimb should be tanked some distance away from Shannox, but be careful not to get too far. Further than 60 yards will cause both Riplimb and Shannox to enrage – something which can be firmly classed as a Bad Thing. Ideally, you want to position Riplimb just next to – but not on – a Crystal Prison Trap.

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The trick to this fight is to balance the stacks of Jagged Tear. Riplimb will continue to apply this debuff to you at all times, except for when he returns Shannox’s spear. You need to slow him down as much as possible at that point, so that you and your fellow tank get the maximum amount of ‘downtime’, allowing your stacks of Jagged Tear to fall off.

The first, and most important, way to slow Riplimb is to trap him in one of Shannox’s _Crystal Prison Trap_s. As soon as you see the red circle appear, indicating the target area for Shannox’s Hurl Spear ability, kite Riplimb into a Crystal Prison Trap (being very careful not to trigger it yourself). If you’ve positioned Riplimb correctly, there should be a suitable trap very near to you.

Riplimb will find his own way out of the trap after 10 seconds, at which point he will head back to Shannox. Slows can help here – Chains of Ice from a Death Knight, for instance.

When Riplimb has returned the stick – sorry, spear – he’ll go back to attacking the raid. Hopefully, you’ll still be at the top of his aggro table so he’ll run towards you. At this point, abilities which put distance between you and Riplimb (Heroic Leap, for example) are useful. Just be careful to keep him within the 60 yard range.

Alternative Tank-swap strategy

An alternative strategy is to have one tank take on both Shannox and Riplimb at the same time. Once Jagged Tear reaches about 8 stacks, swap to the other tank. Since both mobs are immune to taunt, this strategy requires some serious tanking skill, but it can make things easier for your healers.

The horrible bit at the end during which you’ll probably die

The DPS will be aiming to kill both dogs when Shannox is on about 35% health. Each canine fatality enrages Shannox, to the tune of an extra 30% damage and an extra 30% speed. Once that kicks in, he will hit like a truck that has won the Which Truck? Best Truck To Hit Like award three years running. There’s no getting away from it: this is gonna hurt.

You should try to save your mitigation cooldowns for this final phase, and coordinate cooldowns with your healers. You won’t have to worry about Hurl Spear any more, but Shannox will more than make up for that by repeatedly slamming the spear into the ground instead, doing large amounts of AoE fire damage and applying a debuff that increases fire damage taken.

Grit your teeth and take the pain, and it’ll soon be over.

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Firelands Boss Guides: Shannox – Melee DPS tactics

The first Firelands boss most raids will tackle is Shannox. Melee DPS, frankly, have it easy for this fight, so there’s no excuse not to be on top form. Take a look at our general guide to Shannox tactics, then come back here for specific melee DPS tactics.

Initial positioning

As melee DPS you’ll be focusing all your attention on Shannox himself. Ignore the two dogs unless your raid leader specifically tells you otherwise. Your job in this fight is to avoid Shannox’s Cleave attack, avoid the traps he regularly drops, and hit him with your big weapon of choice – in that order.

Yes, Shannox does have a nasty cleave attack which will hit any target in a 120° arc, so your first priority should be to make sure you’re standing behind him. Your tank shouldn’t need to turn Shannox once the fight starts, so get yourself entrenched right behind his fiery rear end and prepare to do some damage.

Avoid the traps

Your primary task during this fight is to avoid the traps that Shannox regularly drops. This takes priority over everything, even DPS. The traps in this fight look like standard Hunter traps, and are easy to spot.

There are two types of trap. The first is an Immolation Trap, which will burn your lovely shoes right off if you stand in it. It’s not an instant kill, but it throws out some nasty damage, and you’ll have a ‘fire hurts more’ debuff at various points during the fight, so be nice to your healers and don’t stand on the fire traps.

The second type of trap is called a Crystal Prison Trap, and is basically an iceblock. Stand on this nasty little device and it’ll encase you in crystal. You won’t be able to do anything at all until the crystal is shattered. That means that the rest of the raid will have to stop what they’re doing and DPS your prison to free you. The crystals have lots of health, so this is a distraction you don’t need.

There’s another fight mechanic which effectively counts as a third type of trap. When Shannox throws his spear he’ll do colossal damage to anybody standing in the way. If you’re standing in the circle of fire once the spear comes down you’re virtually guaranteed to die. It’s easy to avoid – just look out for the big pillar of fire and make sure you step away from it as soon as it appears.

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The secondary effect of Shannox’s spear throw is lots of little fires that appear on the ground after the spear throw triggers. There’ll be a lot of them, which can be quite panic-inducing the first time you see it, but – like the spear throw itself – they’re easy to avoid. They appear in a spiral pattern, moving outwards from the spear’s point of impact. Just make sure you’re not standing directly on one of them.

Remember – none of these do any AoE damage, so they’ll only ever affect one person. It’s also worth noting that the _Immolation Trap_s and the _Crystal Prison Trap_s can be disarmed by Rogues. Rageface and Riplimb can be affected by the traps, so you normally want to keep them all in place, but occasionally it might be worth disarming a trap which is in an awkward place, or which is in danger of hitting a tank.

The moment you’ve been waiting for

Your aim in this fight is to kill both the dogs when Shannox is at about 35% health. When that happens, he’ll enrage and start to give your tanks a very bad day. That’s your time to shine. Turn the DPS dial up to 11 and pop every cooldown in your arsenal. Burn, burn, burn – you need to kill Shannox before he kills your tanks (and shortly thereafter, you).

This fight is all about awareness. Watch out for the traps and you should be fine.

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Cata rep rewards – our guide to the essential cata reputation rewards

You’re likely to build up reputation with the various Cataclysm factions as you level from 80 to 85. Just as with previous expansions, each new level of reputation will unlock new purchasable ‘rewards’ from that faction’s vendor. The various Cata rep rewards usually take the form of equipment and armor, which can really give you an initial boost when gearing up your newly-minted level 85 toon.

There are even reputation rewards which will be of use to end-game raiders. The Avengers of Hyjal, the new faction for the Patch 4.2 Firelands daily quests, provide epic items at i-Level 378 and above.

The best rewards will depend on your class and role, but will inevitably be spread among several faction vendors. Here’s our breakdown guide.

Reputation rewards for tanks

Head enchant – you’ll want the Arcanum of the Earthen Ring. See our complete guide to enchanting your helm.

FeetBoots of Sullen Rock requires Exalted reputation with the Dragonmaw Clan. The Alliance equivalent are the Gryphon Rider’s Boots, required Exalted reputation with the Wildhammer Clan.

Back – Exalted reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal gives access to the Wrap of the Great Turtle. Once you’re Friendly with the Avengers of Hyjal, you can replace that with a Durable Flamewrath Greatcloak.

WristSandguard Bracers, available when Exalted with Ramkahen.

Shoulder enchant – The Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz. Take a glance at our guide to shoulder enchants in Cata.

Waist – You’ll need to be Honored with the Avengers of Hyjal to purchase a Girdle of the Indomitable Flame.

Trinket – Revered rep with the Avengers of Hyjal gives you Stay of Execution.

Finger – The Adamantine Signet of the Avengers is very nice indeed. Unfortunately it requires Exalted reputation with the Avengers of Hyjal to purchase, so don’t expect to be seeing it without a monstrous grind.

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Reputation rewards for healers and casters

Head enchant – The Arcanum of Hyjal is the obvious choice. For a more detailed discussion of head enchants, see our guide.

Neck – Exalted reputation with the Dragonmaw or Wildhammer clans gives the Yellow Smoke Pendant/Lightning Flash Pendant.

Waist – Clothies will need Exalted rep with the Guardians of Hyjal to get the Cord of the Raven Queen. For leather wearers, it’s Dragonmaw/Wildhammer once again. The Horde item is called Withered Dream Belt, whereas the Alliance equivalent is Belt of the Untamed. Once you hit Honored with the Avengers of Hyjal, you can upgrade to the Embereye Belt or the Firescar Sash.

Feet – The Desert Walker Sandals from Ramhaken.

Hands – Exalted reputation with the Earthen Ring will provide Flamebloom Gloves.

Shoulder enchant – use the Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone. See our complete guide.

Back – You’ll need to be Friendly with the Avengers of Hyjal to get either the Flowing Flamewrath Cape or the Rippling Flamewrath Drape.

TrinketFiery Quintessence and the Rune of Zeth are both available from the Avengers of Hyjal upon hitting Honored reputation.

Finger – Your reward for hitting Exalted rep with the Avengers of Hyjal is an awesome ring – either the Infernal Signet of the Avengers or the Quicksilver Signet of the Avengers.

Reputation rewards for DPS classes

Head enchant – Depending on whether you favor Strength or Agility, you’ll want the Arcanum of the Dragonmaw/Arcanum of the Wildhammer or the Arcanum of the Ramkahen. Check out our complete guide to helm enchants if you’re not sure which to choose.

Hands – Exalted rep with the Dragonmaw/Wildhammer clans will give you access to Liar’s Handwraps, or the Alliance equivalent Stormbolt Gloves. Alternatively, try the World Keeper’s Gauntlets from the Earthen Ring quartermaster.

Waist – If you’re a plate DPS class, work on your Guardians of Hyjal reputation to get access to the excellent Belt of The Ferocious Wold. For Paladins, choose the Sun King’s Girdle from Ramkahen instead. That will probably last you until you reach Honored with the Avengers of Hyjal, at which point you’ll upgrade to either the Firearrow Belt, Firemend Cinch, Flamebinding Girdle, Girdle of the Indomitable Flame, Girdle of the Indomitable Flame, Belt of the Seven Seals or Cinch of the Flaming Ember.

Feet – Mail-wearers will want either the Treads of Malorne from the Guardians of Hyjal or the Earthmender’s Boots from the Earthen Ring.

Neck – For Strength-based classes, the Gift of Nadun from Ramkahen is a good upgrade.

Finger – With Exalted reputation with the Earthen Ring, you’ll be able to purchase the Signet of the Elder Council.

Shoulder enchant – Read our complete guide to shoulder enchants to find the best enchant for your shoulders. You’ll want either the Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone or the Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal.

Back – After a few Molten Front dailies, you’ll be Friendly with the Avengers of Hyjal and be able to buy either the Bladed Flamewrath Cover or the Sleek Flamewrath Cloak.

Trinket – You’ll need to become Revered with the Avengers of Hyjal, at which point you’ll have either an Ancient Petrified Seed or an Essence of the Eternal Flame.

Finger – The DPS rewards for Exalted reputation with the Avengers of Hyjal are either the Obsidian Signet of the Avengers or the Viridian Signet of the Avengers.

The Secret Camels of Ramkahen

Grinding your reputation with Ramkahen all the way to Exalted has another, hidden bonus. You’ll be able to purchase your very own ridable camel. Strangely, whilst most reputation rewards can be seen in the vendor’s inventory but can’t be purchased until the correct reputation has been achieved, the Ramkahen camel mounts do not appear in Blacksmith Abasi‘s inventory until you’re Exalted with Ramkahen. Once you hit Exalted, though, they’ll be there and ready for purchase. There are two camels available – the Brown Riding Camel and the Tan Riding Camel.

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