Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day of the Dead

Edit: Day of the Dead has come and passed, this article was written prior to the holiday.

This year, tucked into the latest issue of the Gadgetzan Times, is a small excerpt concerning an upcoming but little known holiday: the Day of the Dead. While little is currently known, perhaps we can glean a bit more from these descriptions:

So what do we truly know about the Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead

According to wikipedia, the Day of the Dead (or El Día de los Muertos), is a traditional holiday celebrated by Latin Americans, primarily in Mexico. "The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints'Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on November 2nd.

So what's in it for us?

Well, the text above reads: "During the Day of the Dead, people gather in graveyards to celebrate with and cherish the spirits of those they have lost. One can find the festivities in the cemeteries of any major city, where celebrants cook, dance and don costumes, and more." We also know there is a related acheivement, Dead Man's Party, which requires the player to honor the dead by dancing with a mysterious woman named Cristina. Purportedly, this in turn transforms the player into a skeleton. The properties of the buff read "Apply Aura: Transform," which I assume will be the buff du jour that provides the skeleton transformation.

(Edit: Actually, it transformed you into either a male or female version of the Day of the Dead celebrants.)

We also know there is a related quest, "The Grateful Dead". This, of course, comes with standard buff food in the form of Bread of the Dead. You should be able to redeem this quest in the following locations: Dalaran, Ironforge (both dwarf and gnome spirits), Exodar, Darnassus, Silvermoon City, Orgrimmar (both Troll and Orc spirits), Thunder Bluff, as well as a seperate Aldor and Scryer turn-in. All of the spirits should be located within their respective graveyards, (although it is not clear why Stormwind was left out.)

And what do we get for all of this?

This currently unknown item.

I've heard rumors that it is actually this as-of-yet unreleased mini-pet, but who knows?

(Edit: Confirmed. The mini-pet was added!)

But what about all this talk about dancing, donning costumes and... more? It could very well be just a reference to the items mentioned above, but I am curious about this deliberate vagueness on behalf of Blizzard. What is this... 'more'? Is this the new 'Soon'TM? =D

Stay tuned for a guide to the upcoming Pilgrim's Bounty holiday!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sons of Hodir and You: A Complete Guide


Sons of Hodir represents one of the most difficult factions in Northrend for which to gain reputation. For one, they don't have a tabard, so you can't "champion" them in your dives into the dungeons of the icy north. Second, merely getting to neutral requires you to slog through a good portion of the quests in Storm Peaks. However, recent patches have brought the Sons of Hodir Commendation Badges that grant 500 reputation. Needless to say, with patch 3.3 bringing even more value to this faction for your alts, you'll have to get at least one of your characters to exalted to reap the benefits that this faction has to offer.

Getting Started

First things first, you're going to want to find good ol' Gretchen Fizzlespark and accept the quest entitled "They Took Our Men!" (Before doing so, a fresh level 80 will begin as "Unfriendly") These quests will start you down the path to neutral status with the faction. If you're starting from the beginning, make sure to loot the Slag Covered Metal from the Stormforged Iron Giants for the quest "The Refiner's Fire" while doing the quest "Mending Fences". Turning in the latter quest will grant you a whopping 22,000 reputation and allow you to open several daily quests.

Relics of Ulduar and Everfrost Chips

The easiest way to gain reputation with the Sons of Hodir is to collect and turn in Relics of Ulduar. These items drop from a ton of different humanoid or elemental mobs throughout Storm Peaks and within any of the Ulduar instances. Gather 10 of these and turn them in for the repeatable quest "Hodir's Tribute" to Lillehoff for 250 reputation.

A more difficult way to gather reputation is to gather Everfrost Chips. The chips will randomly spawn throughout the Valley of Ancient Winters, Thunderfall, Dun Niffelem, and Frostfield Lake. A complete and thorough guide to collecting these rare and hard-to-find items is outside the scope of this primer, so I'll point you in the direction of some insightful tips on how to find them. Generally speaking, a good place to look would be the cliffsides throughout in between groves of trees or on the cliff ledges themselves. I couldn't wait for the next day to reach Exalted so I spent a good hour and a half flying around each subzone looking for these. The first chip you loot opens up the quest "Everfrost" which will in turn open up the repeatable quest, "Remember Everfrost," both of which will grant 350 reputation.

Polishing the Helm

There are a couple of small quests you'll have to turn in before you have access to this daily, namely "Forging a Head" and "Mounting Hodir's Helm". Completing these two will place a gigantic helm suspended above Dun Nifflem, where you'll be able to start the daily.

The quest requires you to collect 5 Viscous Oil from the mobs of the same name residing in the Hibernal Cavern to the west of Dun Niffelem. This quest is rather straightforward: enter the cave, fight through the Ravenous Jormungar to get to the little blackish blobs and destroy them. You shouldn't have too much trouble if a room is already cleared out, just head in a loop around the cave, as the respawn rate is remarkably fast. You can turn this quest in at the giant helm suspended from one of the slabs of ice on the northern side of Dun Niffelem. Turning in this quest will grant you 250 reputation.

Blowing Hodir's Horn

You will have to complete both "In Memoriam" and "A Monument to the Fallen", which in turn will unveil a gigantic horn on which (you guessed it) you blow. And blow you will. This daily is also rather straightforward, requiring you to travel to Thunderfall and destroy 5 Niffelem Forefathers and 5 Restless Frostborn. Once they expire, simply used the provided quest item and send them floating away as demonstrated in this example.

Unlike the previous quest, if there are a lot of other people doing this quest, you may have to fly around a bit to locate another pair of mobs to take down. This is also a great quest to do while looking for Everfrost Chips on the eastern hillside (see below for more information.) Return to Dun Niffelem to turn this quest in at the horn pictured above, which will grant you 250 reputation.

Hot and Cold

Once you complete the quest "Forging an Alliance", it will open up the daily quest, "Hot and Cold." The daily itself comes in two stages: collecting 5 Essence of Ice from the Brittle Revenants in Frostfield lake, and using them on the smoldering scraps near Fjorn's Anvil to create Frozen Iron Scraps. A higher number of players doing the same quest may require you to fly around the lake a bit, but the spawn rates are pretty quick. Bonus loot: Crystallized Earth will drop from the revenants at a 25% drop rate.

Head over to the east and fight your way through the Seething Revenants to the small, smoking piles of scrap metal. The scraps may be easier to recognize against the snow, but you only need to click on the quest item and it will automatically target one, turning it into a Frozen Iron Scrap. Once you've collected all 5, head back to the anvil in Dun Niffelem to turn in the quest. Bonus loot: Crystallized Fire will drop from the revenants at a 25% drop rate.

Turning in this quest will grant you 250 reputation.

Spy Hunter

So, you've turned in a couple relics and done a couple days worth of daily quests, and you've progressed to Honored with the Sons of Hodir. This opens up two more dailies for you to add to your options. You will find the new daily "Spy Hunter" by speaking to the Frostworg Denmother located in the northwest corner of Dun Niffelem. I would start doing this in coordination with Polishing the Helm. Both quests are right next to each other, so finish one and head over to do the other.

The quest itself involves following a spirit wolf around the Valley of Ancient Winters as he tracks down Stormforged Infiltrators. Once you call the worg, his speed will match yours. If you are set to /walk, the worg will do the same. Similarly, if you are on an epic flying mount, the worg will be running all over the place at epic speeds. (This can come in handy later when paired with another daily quest, see below.) The worg will eventually howl and the infiltrator will appear. Kill three of them and turn in this quest for 350 reputation.

Thrusting Hodir's Spear

The second quest that opens up will become available after completing the quest "Raising Hodir's Spear." Soon afterwards, you will open up the most entertaining daily quest in the game, "Thrusting Hodir's Spear." This quest can also be done in coordination with Spy Hunter and Polishing the Helm, as the Wild Wyrms you need for the quest are also in the Valley of Ancient Winters. Simply get close to one and click on the provided quest item, the Spear of Hodir. You will then mount the wyrm and begin an epic battle over the Storm Peaks to slay the wild beast.

The bulk of the quest is divided into two parts, wearing the beast down and then killing it. This little tutorial will ensure that you complete the quest the first time through.

Ride 'em

You will be given four talents when first mounted on the wyrm, which functions as a vehicle for all intents and purposes. These talents are hotkeyed onto your main button bar:

  1. Grab On
  2. Dodge Claw
  3. Thrust Spear
  4. Mighty Spear Thrust
You will be suspended hundreds of feet off the ground, so if you lose your grip or fail to kill the wyrm before it kills you, you will be thrown off the beast to your bone-crushing demise. (Snowfall Lager can come in handy for this quest if you're not familiar with it, and will save your ass if used before you hit the ground. However, I recommend that you save every Relic of Ulduar you can for reputation.)

As soon as the abilities are made available, use a Mighty Spear Thrust. This talent has a 10 second cooldown, and also puts your Dodge Claw on cooldown for several seconds. This is very important to note for two reasons: first, you should only use Mighty Spear Thrust directly after you dodge a claw swipe (see below) and second, you can die rather quickly if you ignore the claw swipes altogether.

So, you jumped on the wyrm and immediately thrust your spear into the wild beast. You will begin a familiar sequence of keys, spamming Grab On (1) followed by Thrust Spear (3). Watch for the claw swipe, which will reduce your health by a small amount. It's ok if you miss a claw swipe, but you will want to stay as healthy as possible for the second stage of this quest. As soon as you hear the sound and see the message ("The wyrm swipes its claws at you!") hit your Dodge Claw ability (2). Directly afterwards, use your Mighty Spear Thrust (4). If you find that you are losing grip, spam Grab On (1) for a couple seconds and continue with your normal rotation.

To summarize stage 1:
  1. Capture and mount the wyrm
  2. Mighty Spear Thrust (4)
  3. Grab On (1)
  4. Thrust Spear (3)
  5. Repeat step 3 and 4 until you receive the claw swipe warning
  6. Dodge Claws (2)
  7. Repeat rotation starting with step 2.
You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

Well, now you've done it. After poking the poor creature in the head with a gigantic pointy stick, you've really pissed the bugger off. Way to go. The wyrm will now start biting and thrashing at you, diminishing your health over time. And now you've got to fight for your own life. So, you're given two new abilities:

  1. Pry Jaws Open
  2. (Empty)
  3. Fatal Strike
Your goal here is to pry the jaws open, and shove your spear into the neck of the beast. The Pry Jaws(1) ability is a stacking ability with a 1 second cooldown. The Fatal Strike ability (3) has a much longer cooldown. My first instinct was to use the Fatal Strike ability as often as possible. However, your odds of killing the beast are determined solely by how wide you can pry open the jaws of the wyrm (i.e. how many stacks of the debuff you can place on the wyrm.) Hold off using Fatal Strike until you've reached 10 stacks.

Also keep in mind that your health is slowly diminishing. If you don't kill the beast in time, you will most certainly die. This is why the Dodge Claw ability above is so important. The more health you have in stage 2, the more opportunities for the Fatal Strike abilities. For stage 2, the pattern is quite simple:
  1. Pry Jaws Open (1)
  2. Wait until 10 stacks
  3. Fatal Strike (3)
  4. Pry Jaws Open
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4, using Fatal Strike as soon as it comes off cooldown
Once you've succeeded, you will fall with the slain wyrm to the ground. For some reason, the wyrms are actually giant animated pillows, preventing you from taking any damage when landing on them. Turn this quest in for a whopping 500 reputation. This quest is still one of my favorite dailies in the game.

Feeding Arngrim

The last daily quest you will be able to access opens up when you have reached Revered with Sons of Hodir. This quest is best paired with Spy Hunter, as the mobs you'll need are wandering around the Valley of Ancient Winters. In addition, your spirit worg will help you attack the mob itself. The quest "Feeding Arngrim" requires you to disembody the Roaming Jormungar with Arngrim's Tooth, allowing the former King of the Sons of Hodir to feed off their disembodied souls. You'll only need to get them down below 25% of their health and the former king's spirit will appear to devour the ugly beasts. Feed the king 5 of these mobs and turn in the quest for 350 reputation.


You can definately boost your efforts by running Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning and farming Relics of Ulduar, which drop from nearly every single mob in the instance. If you really want to get to exalted as quickly as possible, you'll want to spend some time searching for Everfrost chips as well. And finally, run as many of the daily normal dungeon quests as you can and collect the Commendation Badges for a whopping 500 reputation.

And what do you get for all your hard work? Well, some pretty cool mounts and the best shoulder enchants in the game, that's what. And with patch 3.3, we'll be able to pass these enchants on to our alts without having to farm the reputation all over again (you just have to be level 80.) Blizzard has tried to make Sons of Hodir reputation easier and easier to get over the various patches, and with this guide, you should be able to get there in no time! Good luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New widget

Not sure if you noticed or not, but I've added a nice little widget linking to questions on the new website! If you don't know what it is, definately go check it out. Have a question that needs answered? Don't want to bother searching through hundreds of possibly irrelevant forum posts? No need to look any further, your question is waiting to be answered by hundreds of fellow WoW players!

Right now, the widget is displaying questions about 'shaman' (the most recent questions with the shaman tag will display), but it can be configured to display pretty much any topic. Let me know if you'd like to see something else.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shaman: Totems and Relics and Patch Notes, Oh My!

Taking a recent look at the patch notes gives you the impression that some pretty nice updates are coming for shaman everywhere. So, let's start off the bat with some of the things that shaman can expect in 3.3.
Default Equipment: Starting weapons are now more uniform. Rogues now start with a pair of daggers equipped. All other classes except shamans start with a 2-handed weapon equipped and the required skill already known. Shamans start with a 1-handed weapon and a shield, as they benefit more from the shield than they would from a 2-handed weapon.
Not much of a change here, but shamans now get a 1-handed weapon and a shield. I guess this one is for those players that really, really struggle with levels 1-5. Still, it seems like an appropriate change.
Orc and troll shamans now have their own unique totem art.
A cosmetic change, but definitely a fun one. As you may already know, dwarves will be the new shaman race for the Alliance, and we got a sneak peek at these totems even though they won't be in the game for quite some time. As the saying goes, pictures speak louder than words. (Or video, if you prefer.)




Fun, yes?
Fire Nova Totem: This totem has been replaced with a new spell, Fire Nova, which is available at the same ranks as the old Fire Nova Totem. Existing characters will automatically learn this new spell in place of the totem. With a Fire Totem active, shamans will be able to use Fire Nova (fire magic) to emit the same area-of-effect damage as the old Fire Nova Totem from the active Fire Totem, not consuming the totem in the process. Fire Nova will activate a 1.5-second global cooldown when used and has a 10-second spell cooldown. The caster must be within 30 yards of the totem to use this ability, but does not need to be within line of sight of the totem.
Improved Fire Nova Totem: Renamed Improved Fire Nova. This talent now provides an additional 10/20% damage to the spell and reduces the cooldown by 2/4 seconds.
Glyph of Fire Nova Totem: Renamed Glyph of Fire Nova. This glyph now reduces the cooldown of Fire Nova by 3 seconds.
This will allow elemental and enhancement shaman to use this AoE effect as a spell with a 10 second cooldown and a 1.5 second global cooldown, removing the totem itself from all of our totem bars. The end result will allow us to actually use this talent rather than substituting it for the more powerful and beneficial Magma Totem, Flametongue Totem or Totem of Wrath.
Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 50 minutes (Improved Reincarnation will continue to lower the cooldown by 10/20 minutes).
When fully talented, that's a free self-resurrect every 30 minutes. With plans to reduce the cooldown on the warlock's soulstone ability to 15 minutes, this means quicker wipe recoveries all around. Updated: Ghostcrawler has stated that they are considering lowering the cooldown from 60 minutes to 30, talented to 15.

We've also been fortunate to get a sneak peak at some of the latest T10 set bonuses:
  • 2 Pieces (Enhancement): When you activate your Shamanistic Rage ability you also deal 12% additional damage for 15 second.
  • 4 Pieces (Enhancement): Each time the beneficial effect of your Maelstrom Weapon talent reaches 5 charges, you have a 15% chance to gain 20% attack power for 10 second.
  • 2 Pieces (Elemental): Your Lightning Bolt spell reduces the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 1 second.
  • 4 Pieces (Elemental): (Updated) The cooldown on your Lava Burst ability is reduced by 1.5 seconds.
  • 2 Pieces (Heal): Your Riptide spell grants 20% spell haste for your next spellcast.
  • 4 Pieces (Heal): Your Chain Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount.
For Enhancement, we see some really nice damage increases when Shamanistic Rage pops and a good reason to wait until Maelstrom Weapon to hit 5 charges. The changes to Shamanistic Rage are probably the most interesting since the cooldown was reduced with the last patch, so you'll have more incentive other than damage reduction and mana replenishment to pop this every chance you get.

With Elemental we get a nice little cooldown on Elemental Mastery. Each lightning bolt you toss will take it down another second, which will provide significantly faster recovery time. (On a side note, I'm not specced Elemental... how many lightning bolts does one throw in 3 minutes?) Lava Burst gets reduced down to 6.5 seconds from 8, and you should be able to throw hot liquid magma a bit more often. Say it with me... Mag. Ma.

And last, but certainly not least, Resto gets some nice buffs to Riptide and Chain Heal. The 20% haste is a nice buff, especially since I usually use this mana expensive talent to provide a quick HoT in those "Oh, #^$!" moments. I've been trying to figure precisely what happens with the Chain Heal, but it sounds like an extra 25% healing done to any target that crits. Nice buffs all around, if you asked me.

We also got a look at some of the new T10 relics available:
Elemental - Your Earth Shock, Flame Shock, and Frost Shock spells grant 73 critical strike haste rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. (Edited)
Enhancement - Your Stormstrike ability grant 146 attack power rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
Restoration - Your Riptide spell grants 85 spell power for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
It's not entirely clear to me if the Elemental relic will be better for either Enhancement or Elemental, but it seems that the 219 crit rating is a significant buff and may grant more DPS than 438 AP on face value. Both have a 15 second duration, and I'm not quite if it will constantly replenish like Maelstrom Weapon. (Maybe I should get on the PTR and test it out, huh? =D) Of course, 255 SP is good any day of the week for your healer. It will be interesting what comes out of the PTR testing and simulations. I'm sure the guys at Elitist Jerks are already on it.

Now there's lots of other changes not specific to the shaman class that are covered, particularly for low-level characters to make the race to level much easier. In addition to Icecrown and its multiple 5-man dungeons and some really fun daily and heroic quests, there's lots of changes to other classes and some well-needed bug fixes. Feel free to check out all of the patch notes yourself for the latest official updates.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Impending Doom

With Cataclysm upcoming, I've decided to revive the blog. I'm also working on my stories again, and in the time since the last post I've been developing some alts. Who knows, I may be even writing some stories for them, too!

I'll let you all know how that is going and keep you up to date on some of the latest stuff from the next patch. Icecrown is right around the corner (even though I haven't yet stepped foot into Ulduar) and there's sure to be lots of interesting things in the next month. I'll mostly be focusing on changes to the Shaman class, but I'll try and give a little love to the rest of you.

It's good to be back!