World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Class Previews – Rounds Two & Three

Posted by on April 11, 2010 - No Comments »

In short order after releasing the first round of previews, Blizzard has released the second and third, each chock full of information on the expected Cataclysm class changes. Represented now are nine of the ten classes – all but the lonely Paladins now have small smoulderings of information to keep them warm through the cold nights of anticipation. What have the holy knights done to earn such disdain from the gods of World of Warcraft? A mystery indeed, but for now let’s content ourselves with the rest – as before I have only plucked the new abilities from the previews and included links for the full articles due to their length.

New Warrior Abilities:

Inner Rage (Level 81): Whenever the character reaches a full 100 Rage, he or she will gain a buff that causes attacks to consume 50% more Rage and do 15% more damage for a short amount of time. This is a passive ability so it won’t need to be activated by the player. The goal for this ability is to provide a benefit for hitting max Rage instead of it feeling like a penalty. However, we also don’t want warriors to feel like they’re supposed to pool Rage and do nothing until they hit 100, so we’ll be closely monitoring how this plays out during the beta testing, and making adjustments as needed.

Gushing Wound (Level 83): This ability will apply a bleed effect to the target. If the target moves, the bleed gains an extra stack and refreshes its duration, up to a maximum of three stacks. The ability is currently planned to have no cooldown, cost 10 Rage, and have a 9-second duration. Gushing Wound is designed to be weaker than Rend with one stack, but better with three stacks, which will be reached when fighting a moving target.

Heroic Leap (Level 85): This ability makes the character leap at their target and apply the Thunder Clap ability to all enemies in the area when they land. Heroic Leap will be usable in Battle Stance and shares a cooldown with Charge, but the Juggernaut and Warbringer talents will allow Heroic Leap to be used in any stance and possibly while in combat. The cooldown for this ability might be longer than the Charge ability, but it will also apply a stun effect so you can make sure the target will still be there when you land.

New Death Knight Abilities:

Outbreak (level 81): Outbreak infects the target with both Frost Fever and Blood Plague at no rune cost. This ability allows death knights to apply diseases quickly when they are switching targets or when their diseases have been dispelled.

Necrotic Strike (level 83): Necrotic Strike is a new attack that deals weapon damage and applies a debuff that absorbs an amount of healing based on the damage done. For context, imagine that the death knight can choose between doing 8,000 damage outright with a certain ability, or dealing 6,000 damage and absorbing 4,000 points in incoming heals with Necrotic Strike — the burst is smaller, but a larger overall amount of healing would be required to bring the target back to full health.

This ability is meant to bring back some of the old flavor from when death knights could dispel heal-over-time (HoT) effects. It also gives the class a bit more PvP utility without simply replicating a Mortal Strike-style effect.

Dark Simulacrum (level 85): The death knight strikes a target, applying a debuff that allows the death knight to copy the opponent’s next spell cast and unleash it. Unlike Spell Reflection, Dark Simulacrum does not cancel the incoming spell. In general, if you can’t reflect an ability, you won’t be able to copy it either.

New Rogue Abilities:

Redirect (available at level 81): Rogues will be getting a new ability to help them deal with changing targets. Redirect will transfer any active combo points to the rogue’s current target, helping to ensure combo points aren’t wasted when swapping targets or when targets die. In addition, self-buff abilities like Slice and Dice will no longer require a target, so rogues can spend extra combo points on those types of abilities (more on this below). Redirect will have a 1-minute cooldown and no other costs.

Combat Readiness (level 83): Combat Readiness is a new ability that we intend rogues to trigger defensively. While this ability is active, whenever the rogue is struck by a melee or ranged attack, he or she will gain a stacking buff called Combat Insight that results in a 10% reduction in damage taken. Combat Insight will stack up to 5 times and the timer will be refreshed whenever a new stack is applied. Our goal is to make rogues better equipped to go toe-to-toe with other melee classes when Evasion or stuns are not in play. This ability lasts 6 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown.

Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.

New Hunter Abilities:

Cobra Shot (level 81): A new shot that deals Nature damage instead of Physical damage. This ability will share a cooldown with Steady Shot. This will give hunters an alternative to Steady Shot on heavily-armored targets, and we will have talent incentives in the Beast Mastery tree to make this a signature shot.

Trap Launcher (level 83): When used, the next trap can be shot to a location within 40 yards. This provides the current Freezing Arrow treatment to all traps and, as a result, we will be removing the current ability Freezing Arrow. 1-minute cooldown. No global cooldown.

Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).

New Druid Abilities:

Thrash (Level 81): Thrash deals damage and causes all targets within 10 yards to bleed every 2 seconds for 6 seconds. The intent here is to give bears another button to hit while tanking. Talents will affect the bleed, such as causing Swipe to deal more damage to bleeding targets. 5-second cooldown. 25 Rage.

Stampeding Roar (Level 83): The druid roars, increasing the movement of all allies within 10 yards by 40% for 8 seconds. Stampeding Roar can be used in cat or bear form, but bears might have a talent to drop the cooldown. The goal of this ability is to give both bears and cats a little more situational group utility. 3-minute cooldown. No cost.

Wild Mushroom (Level 85): Grows a magical mushroom at the target location. After 4 seconds the mushroom becomes invisible. Enemies who cross the mushroom detonate it, causing it to deal area-of-effect damage, though its damage component will remain very effective against single targets. The druid can also choose to detonate the mushroom ahead of time. This is primarily a tool for the Balance druid, and there will be talents that play off of it. No cooldown. 40-yard range. Instant cast.

New Mage Abilites:

Flame Orb (available at level 81): Inspired by Prince Taldaram’s abilities in Ahn’kahet and Icecrown Citadel, this spell allows the mage to cast a flaming orb that travels in front in a straight line, sending beams that cause fire damage to passing targets. Once it’s cast, the mage is free to begin casting other spells as the Flame Orb travels. While the spell will be useful to any spec, Fire mages will have talents that improve it, possibly causing the Flame Orb to explode when it reaches its destination.

Time Warp (level 83): Grants a passive Haste effect much like Bloodlust or Heroism to party or raid members. It also temporarily increases the mage’s own movement speed. Time Warp will be exclusive with Bloodlust and Heroism, meaning you can’t benefit from both if you’ve got the Exhaustion debuff, though the movement-speed increase will still work even when under the effects of Exhaustion.

Wall of Fog (level 85): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Wall of Fog efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channeled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.

Cataclysm Class Updates: Mage

Posted by on April 10, 2010 - 3 Comments »

Prince Taldaram lends his signature attack to the Mage class.

The final class update has arrived (well, except for Paladins, which are next week), and if you ask me, Mages are getting some rather powerful new abilities. As opposed to those of most other classes, every one of them seems useful.

Flame Orb is introduced at Level 81, and it’s a spell you’re probably already familiar with if you’ve gone toe-to-toe with Prince Taldaram. His signature ability is now the Mage’s to command and it functions very much in the same way. The combustible sphere travels forward in a straight line, lashing out at targets as it passes by them. Talents may also allow the orb to explode upon contacting the target.

Few abilities seem as raid-essential as good old Bloodlust, but the new spell Time Warp adds a similar buff to the Mage’s arsenal. Using it boosts your group’s Haste rating, while also increasing the caster’s personal movement speed. As both (and other) spells cause Exhaustion, they cannot be used simultaneously. However, on long fights, there is the potential to cast them at different times.

Finally, the Mage gets a great new utility spell called Wall of Fog. Maintaining some sort of distance between you and the enemy seems like a key theme in many of the abilities we’ve seen introduced over the past few days, and this is no different. Casting Wall of Fog will erect a barrier of frost 30-feet-long in front of the caster. Any foe who passes over it takes damage and becomes ensnared for a short amount of time. The benefits of such a spell, especially in PvP, should be obvious.

There are a couple of mechanical changes to be aware of: Arcane Missiles will be a proc-based spell instead of a channeled one, making it no longer spammable, many extraneous spells such as Amplify/Dampen Magic will be removed, and you will not get access to created food until probably around Level 40 (low-level Mages will have other ways to deal with mana shortages).

Everything else is behind the cut! Read more…

Cataclysm Class Updates: Druid

Posted by on April 10, 2010 - 2 Comments »

Boomkins. Now with more "boom."

Boomkins. Now with more "boom."

We’re hitting the home stretch on class updates, folks. But that doesn’t make the last few classes any less important. In fact, I think the Druid changes might be the best set so far. Sure, there are no major mechanical changes for the class that is already sort of the “master of everything,” and Resto is getting no new spells at this point, but the other specs have a few interesting spells to mess about with.

Thrash is a new AoE tanking ability intended to add a little bit more depth to Bear form. It causes all melee-range targets to bleed every 2 seconds for a duration of 6, and the fact that talents can cause it to buff other powerful abilities such as Swipe should ensure Druids a role as a strong multi-target tanking choice.

Stampeding Roar is a utility spell that can be used in either Bear or Cat form, which buffs allies in melee range with 40% extra movement speed for eight seconds. Think of it like a Sprint you can give to your friends, which should be helpful on fights where everyone needs to suddenly run away from the boss.

The last is the most interesting as it poses a new strategic element for Balance Druid combat. Wild Mushroom allows you to place a magical toadstool on the field that disappears after four seconds. When an enemy runs past it or the Druid activates it, the fungus explodes, dealing either AoE damage to all baddies in the area or massive damage to a single foe. Maybe I’ve just been playing too much Modern Warfare 2/Bad Company 2 lately, but that sounds cool as hell to me.

Once again, there are no new abilities for Resto Druids because Blizzard thinks they’re already versatile enough (and going by those healing numbers I always see in Recount, I’d have to agree). But for everything else, hit the jump. Read more…

Cataclysm Class Updates: Hunter

Posted by on April 9, 2010 - 2 Comments »

Round three of the critical class updates started the day with Hunters. Like Warlocks, this is another class that we already know a lot about from the preview back at BlizzCon. But as a quick refresher: Hunters now use an Energy-like mechanic called Focus instead of Mana, you can stable more pets (and call one of three “active” ones in the field), and ammo has been completely removed from the game.

As for completely new content, we’ve got a fresh set of spells to look over. Cobra Shot is a Nature-based ability that is meant to be an alternative to Steady Shot when attacking heavily-armored targets. Then there’s Trap Launcher, which allows you to place any of your traps remotely from up to 40 yards away (with a 1-minute cooldown).

Finally, you’ve got a Level 85 skill called Camouflage. Like the Warrior’s Heroic Leap, this is a mechanic that Blizzard once toyed with, but removed because it proved too complicated to deal with at the time. They also want to emphasize that this is not just a name-swap for Stealth (something that is more thoroughly explained towards the bottom of the post). Instead, using Camouflage will cloak the Hunter in a Predator-like sheen (as opposed to being completely invisible), allowing them to move around and set up traps. Similar to the Rogue’s new ability, Smoke Bomb, Hunters cannot be targeted by ranged attacks in this state, but they won’t be able to fight back, either. Assaulting the enemy breaks the camo effect, but also provides a temporary damage boost.

I think that about covers it for the major changes, though there are plenty of other small mechanical and talent tweaks someone having more experience with the class than I would have an easier time parsing. Hit the break for all the juice. Read more…

Lore Hound WoWcast: Episode 2

Posted by on April 9, 2010 - No Comments »

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Join the Lore Hounds this week as we discuss tons of WoW news coming out of Blizzard. This week’s lineup is Juggynaut, iTZKooPA, Heartbourne, and pixiestixy. The discussion covers some of the Cataclysm Class Previews, a recruit-a-friend update, Starcraft II, and more. Click the player above to listen, download the podcast, or subscribe via RSS, and leave a comment to let us know how you liked it!

SWTOR – Voss

Posted by on April 9, 2010 - No Comments »

Today Bioware announced a new planet for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Voss is a planet of a utopian society society of force users, which strives to distance itself from all outside sources. Because of the existence of the force on that planet, the Sith are compelled to conquer it. Likewise, the Republic seeks to defend the planet. Setting the scene for conflict, one can only wonder what mysteries will await. Voss is the 12th planet to be announced for SWTOR, and hopefully that means a lot of content variety. For more screenshots and a video of Voss, head over to Bioware’s website.

Celebrating Dungeons & Dragons Online – Update 4 By Playing The Game

Posted by on April 9, 2010 - 5 Comments »

That’s right folks, I am simply not content with capturing zombie pirates on a camcorder, HD or not.  I must get in the game and face them myself.  The fact of the matter is that I refuse to play this game alone.  To remedy this situation I have recruited Lore Hound’s own Amatera to adventure with me.  But that only makes up one-third of a party.  Here’s an open invitation to come join me and Amatera in some barrel smashing, mob targeting, free-to-play fun.

We’re going to play Dungeons & Dragons Online starting around 11:00 AM EST on weekends (Saturday and/or Sunday) starting Sunday, April 11th on the Khyber server.  That means you have just a few days to make an account, grab the client, research which class you’d like to play and get out of the tutorial zone.

Perks from Turbine and Lore Hound after the jump. Read more…

Zhevra Still Available for Recruit a Friend, For Now (Plus a Special FTH Tribute)

Posted by on April 9, 2010 - 3 Comments »

Earlier this week, we heard the unexpected news that a sensational X-53, dual-passenger Touring Rocket that scales up to 310 percent speed is soon to become the new reward for recruiting a friend to play WoW.  The only downside – this means the retirement of the Swift Zhevra mount that until now has been the reward.

But not so fast! We just got word that you may still have time to get your own Zhevra, if you haven’t yet. Blizz Blue poster Nethaera just gave some of us reason to celebrate.

While we had originally announced the new Recruit-A-Friend X-53 Touring Rocket reward would be coming in just a few short days, it turns out there are still a few bolts to tighten, some loose wires to tuck inconspicuously under the upholstery, and a handful of parts leftover that we’re going to ponder and then assume we can safely throw away. As a result, we’ll be releasing this beauty a bit later than we’d first anticipated. This will also give anyone interested in the current Zhevra mount reward some extra time to claim one. While we don’t have an exact release date nailed down yet, we’ll make an announcement once the new mount becomes available.

Unfortunately, this also means that we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see the X-53 in action. But it’s not a bad idea for those of us who want it as soon as it comes out to go ahead and start the Recruit-a-Friend process so when it does come out, you’ll be ready.

And now in tribute, a special short episode of For the Hoard in honor of the Zhevra mount, one of my faves now and always.

How many of you were lucky enough to get your own Zhevra? Those of you who haven’t, will you still try? And who’s already planning for that X-53?