Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Familiar Poem of Season's Greetings

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'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the nether
Not a blogger was blogging, not even Bellweather
Their posts were scheduled for prearranged times
Most likely were poems with silly little rhymes

Their children were nestled all snug in their beds
While the parents had 25-man Naxx in their heads
With Leyola, Wimzig, and Bashertin specced Ice
They were a trio of Lovely, Naughty, and Nice

Meanwhile in Ironforge, there was a loud "clank!"
The group was in LFG, asking "need DPS and tank!"
Bash Ported to IF to buy reagents and dust
thinking "I must grind my rep, I MUST I MUST!"

The heat of the forge made sweat beads appear
As they rolled down his brows, his nose and his ear
He stopped by the bank, where he saw such a site
A jolly man in red, with beard of snow white

An interesting fellow, with gadgets and printers
Bash knew right away it was Greatfather Winter;
"Oh mage," greatfather said, "how timely that you came!
My reindeer was kidnapped, but I forgot his name!"

"Was it Dasher, Dancer, Prancer? No Blitzen?
Comet, Cupid, Donder? No, wait! It was Metzen!
I need him back, because he crafted my sleigh
So go off to Lost Rigger cove! Off off and away!"

Not since the BC days of Magister's Terrace
Bash flew to Kalimdor, to the deserts of Tanaris
He arrived at the cove, and saw Metzen stabled
Bound and chained, quite clearly disabled

Invisibility up, he sneaked to the roof
He could hear the chains jingle, attached to each hoof
As Bash drew out his wand and jumped to the ground
A mob of Southsea pirates cluttered around

They wore swashbuckler clothes, wielded swords on each hand
Their faces were covered by the desert sand
With murderous intent, they threatened the gnome
"We'll slice ya and dice ya, then mail you back home!"

Then a surge of rage grew in old Bashertin's eyes
The pirates instead foretold their own demise
The bandits were quick when they gave the mage chase
But suddenly they were all Frost nova'd in place!

The mage blinked away quickly, like a warp-stalking lizard
Then he turned back to the mobs, and cast a huge Blizzard
The crits were enormous, giant numbers abound
When the spell was over, corpses littered the ground

Bashertin turned giddy, at the one-sided fight
And Metzen stared blankly back at the sight
Bash turned to the reindeer and said, "It's okay!"
"I came to rescue you, so you can craft the Greatfather's sleigh!"

With Metzen unbound, they escaped from the gorge
With Bash making a portal straight home to Ironforge
Soon, Greatfather Winter was again with his deer
Who happened to be a 450 engineer

Metzen crafted the sleigh, and they were off in a whistle
And they all flew like the down of a thistle
Bash heard him exclaim, knowing next year he'd be back,
"Merry Christmas to all, from Frost is the new Black!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Frosty Foes: Keristrasza

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"Keristrasza was a servant of Alexstrasza's flight. She planned to stall Malygos's advance in the Nexus War by eliminating his consort and facing his retribution with a fleet of red dragons. While the plan worked and Malygos was distracted, he used his considerable power to imprison Keristrasza within The Nexus and slowly bind her to his will as a new consort. She is currently being held there and players are tasked with killing her to preserve her freedom." - WoWWiki

General Strategy

The only thing that you have to worry about this fight is the Intense Cold debuff that is applied when your mage stands still for a period of time. This debuff will both deal damage and increase cast time on your spells. To combat this, you will have to jump in between each spell cast (even instant cast spells) to maintain minimal casting time on your frostbolt, as well as minimal damage.

Keristrasza also casts Crystal Chains, a spell that does Frost damage and roots everyone in place, making them vulnerable to Intense Cold. Fortunately, mages have spells that free themselves out of it.

When Fingers of Frost Procs, you can squeeze in a shatter combo on the second charge before having to jump. For Brain Freeze procs, toss a Fireball in place of a Frostbolt in between jumps, since doing so during a jump will result in the inability to cast a frostbolt as you land, forcing you to jump anyways.

Offensive Spells

Mirror Image clones will die quickly. Don't bother using them. Your Water Elemental is immune to Intense Cold, so summon him as soon as the fight starts. Icy Veins as soon as possible as well. After Cold Snap, use your second Icy Veins when Keristrasza enrages, minimizing damage done to the tank. Depending on how long the encounter lasts for a particular group, you might want to save your trinkets for the enrage if you can only use it once during the fight.

Defensive Spells

Your tools of choice here are Ice Barrier and Frost Ward. If you can keep both up whenever their respective cooldowns are available, you will not take any damage for the duration of the fight. You can Blink, Ice Block, or Escape Artist your way out of chains.

Mage Armor is useful for this fight due to its Frost resist. Use it to decrease damage taken, and to increase the duration of your bubbles in the process.

Phat Lewtz

Gloves of Glistening Runes - Decent stats, but the large amount of Spirit and lack of +Hit signals that this is more suited to priests. The T7 gloves and Ebonweave Gloves have +Hit, and the former has better +Crit.

Conclusion

With the wide variety of tools at your disposal to counteract Keristrasza's damage, it is certainly possible to take absolutely no damage during the fight (see screenshot below!). With a frost-immune Elemental, this fight is a cakewalk for Frost Mages. Healers will be love you for not having to worry about you, as this is a healer-intensive fight due to having to heal multiple targets pinned down by the chain.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five - Keeping Up Appearances

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The theme for F5 this week over at Too Many Annas is about appearances. Due to my current ailment, I'll limit the response to just one character. And in celebration of the big healy christmas tree reaching her 75th season, this week's installment will feature Leyola Swiftwillow.

Describe your characters general appearance - is it exactly what you see in the avatar?

Leyola is somewhat typical for a Night Elf with regards to general appearance, except somewhat lankier for her height. She's quite tall, pale purple-grey skin, and wavy silver-white hair, which, at moderate length, she'll style according to the needs of her helm.

What are their opinions on baths/showers/etc?

Taken whenever available, but her journeys limit herself to doing so at night, at a nearby lake, where nobody can see. For hot, relaxing baths, she prefers natural springs rather than man-made devices.

Do they fuss about their looks (and if female, wear makeup)?

Spending most of her time in the Tree-of-Life form, she has no qualms about her looks, since there's no saving the ugliness of barked skin. Outside of her druidic duties, she's too exhasted to bother with her appearance. Besides, it's not like anybody's looking anyways.

If they could pick an outfit out of an infinite closet, what would it look like?

She doesn't care much about clothes outside of her healing form, but if she could pick any tree in the entire world of Azeroth to shift into, she would probably want to be one of those beautiful tall oaks in Grizzly Hills. Simply remarkable, in her opinion.

For the guys - boxers, briefs, or commando trousers? For the girls - bikinis, thongs, or boyshorts?

She wears a thong underneath all that armor, for comfort. But that doesn't mean she'll be dancing on top of Stormwind mailboxes anytime soon.

On Guild Exhaustion

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If you haven't noticed, I've been posting slightly less this month, and for good reason. I just don't do too well in the winter months. Despite my penchant for the concept of everything frosty and cold, I get sick rather easily. I've been battling an on-and-off temperature for a few days. WoW certainly doesn't help the cause either. But I still fight on! I don't give up! I remain standing through rough times. In real life, I'm a trooper.

In WoW, not so much.

I've been demoralized by events that have transpired in my guild. Due to the allure of the new raid dungeons, the guild has been actively recruiting for 10-mans. The possibility of 25's will probably come later when the vast majority of our guild is at 80. Due to the casual nature of the guild, we're pretty lax about levelling.

At first, no one was under any sort of pressure to get to the cap (due to my sheer awesomeness, I was the first to ding 80 in my guild!). But when the first wave of 80's hit, the hunger for Kel'Thuzad's blood stirred, and all of a sudden, raiding couldn't come any sooner.

Motivated to get back into the BC raiding schedule, the first wave started doing heroics together to gear up. To their dismay, they were surprisingly difficult. Perhaps they were too used to being overgeared for BC heroics, or perhaps there was still some rust to shake off, the reality of having to overcome heroics first has shaken a few members. This was not a problem though, since they were quite well for themselves, and geared up accordingly.

This was all fine and dandy. Having been part of the guild for quite a time now, it's always been about slow and steady. Questing and regular dungeons progressed into heroic dungeons, which then progressed into the entry-level raids. Those who were part of the first wave of 80's, recruited very late into BC (pre-Wrath) began to contribute to a hemorrhage of sorts that continues until today.

"This guild isn't serious enough for me."

"This guild is progressing way too slowly."

"I was only here to level."

Many reasons why new recruits left. The first two were quite reasonable. The third irked me so much. Yes, we're casual, but we're still a raiding guild! We still expect some sort of commitment to stay and be a part of the progression, despite the pace of it. It was disheartening, and perhaps I amongst the other core members took the gquits too personally.

In reaction to this wave of departures, the officers have begun to feel desperate, and frankly, I could only wish there was something that I could do to alleviate this restlessness. There's a bunch of members who are still not at the level cap, and perhaps this second wave will be the panacea. I don't want to be restless about it, but it's only a matter of time before further hemorrhaging will result in an increased amount of pressure put on these members to hit the cap.

I for one really don't mind the pace. I'm just not sure about the others. It's a whole new world of heroics and raiding out there, and I feel that there shouldn't be a rush. Yet at the same time, it's that lax that drives potential or existing recruits away. It's the casual dilemma. Only time will tell what will happen, and I, for one, will be sure to still be there when the guild gets back into the groove of things.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Having A Greenchy Winter Veil!

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For this holiday season, I decided to go the way of the sneaky crook, and stole a lot of money from "lazy-minded" individuals.

You know, the usual. Buying items from seasonal vendors for several copper, then selling them for a few gold. Farming Small Eggs in Westfall, then selling them for even more ridiculous prices. Reposting people's Winter Boots on the AH even though I never crafted them in the first place. That sort of thing.

As an alliance mage, the greatest joy of all was to venture into the depths of the Stormwind Stockade, clear it out in one giant pull (plus a leftovers pull), and repeating as many times as the server could allow me. Dusting off the old dungeon soloing guide the other day, I figured now is a good a time as ever to start doing that sort of thing again just for the sheer fun of it.

And make unfair amounts of money in the process. Not a lot of money, just an unfair amount of it.

At the end of the day, I was selling single bolts of wool for 4g buyouts, reposting undercutters all day, and selling nearly every one of them. In addition, I was letting lowbies tag along for a generous fee of 10g per run (which, by he way, adds up over several runs and a full group of people wanting free, fast experience.) Approximately five to six hundred gold for an honest day's work of facerolling Dextran Ward and about eighty others at once, just for sheer giggles.

And I apologize for neglecting the blog yesterday, but I was on a roll! I'm sure Gevlon would have been proud, but it is ironic that he's showing his softer side during this time around, spending his hard-earned cash in-game on his girlfriend. Sure, if I had a girlfriend, I probably would have done something similar, but that's an issue that I'd prefer to touch upon later.

Unable to stress this enough, I'm having a greedy little time, and having fun in the process. I truly learned the value of a "throwaway" BG. In Alterac Valley, I arrived late, after the customary zerg failed. I knew this was the situation primarily because everyone and their uncle was in a gnome costume trying out the achievement.

As a range class, I had no problem camping people from the back ranks, sniping them with shatter combos and blizzarding them at the chokepoints. On top of the Beatles-themed achievement that I earned (all during the same 30-minute buff, no less), I had acquired the Damage Control achievement, doing 300k damage even though the Stormpike reinforcements were less than 300 when I had entered initially. I managed to get the thousandth honorable kill as well. 'Tis the Season, indeed.

Merrily on my way towards the title, I'm only missing the Ogrila achievement, the Frosty Shake achievement, the cooking achievement (225 iLvl makes this a challenge, but not an impossible one), and the ones that can't be done until much later. Grandfather Winter may very well leave a lump of coal in the Boots of Foretelling that I hung up on my wall this year, but more often than not, the best gifts are often the ones you conjure for yourself.

Have a merry holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Five: What Dreams May Come

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Anna has another exciting F5 post, and now that the FitNB gang is all caught up and united, it's time for the first official full edition of Friday Five!

1) Describe your character’s sleep habits. Do they eat breakfast or have other routines?

Bashertin has the average sleep schedule. Give or take, he'll have regular hours, but is quite flexible depending on the situation. He's too eager to conjure up his own breakfast, but will spend more time than most mages to make the perfect meal.

Leyola sleeps only when necessary. She doesn't eat much, so she's not picky about what she has for breakfast or when she has it. She's a working girl, so it's always on the go.

Wimzig doesn't sleep. Period. He eats whatever is available to him at the time.

2) What do they dream about at night, if anything?

Bashertin has vague, abstract dreams. They usually involve fantastic colors swirling around in an elaborate dance, and magical leylines flowing through the patterns. It's a natural effect of studying the arcanum for a very long time.

Although Leyola does not sleep often, but when she does, she has vivid dreams of the landscapes of Azeroth. Often, she will "recreates" the Emerald Dream in her sleep, but without the residual effects of actually being out-of-body.

Wimzig doesn't sleep because of his dreams. He is haunted by the Lich King in his sleep. Fortunately, undeath has no requirements for sleep.

3) Is your character a night owl or a morning songbird?

Bashertin can more easily detect the flow of arcane energy in the environment when it's daytime. Thus, he plans his actions accordingly.

Leyola is a night owl by racial nature, but is capable of operating normally under daylight conditions thanks to her training in the druidic arts.

Wimzig is a night owl, only because he likes seeing the sun go up. It invigorates his spirit.

4) What do they wear to sleep?

Bashertin has a personal collection of sleeping robes that he crafted himself, made out of mystical spellthread and the finest bolts of Imbued Frostweave Cloth. It helps keep him attuned to the arcane even as he sleeps.

Leyola prefers to to sleep outdoors amongst the trees. She will choose to sleep while in the Tree of Life form, as a means of training.

If Wimzig ever sleeps, it is probably unintentional, and thus he will be in his plate armor.

5) Is your character ticklish?

Bashertin is ticklish by nature, augmented further by the shivers he gets while casting his Frost spells. It doesn't help that his clothes are thinly layered, either!

Leyola spends a lot of her time in the Tree form, and her bark skin does not make her ticklish one bit. As a result, she is the same outside of form.

Wimzig is indeed ticklish, but is covered in plate most of the time, making the point moot. It's probably for the best anyways. His laugh, thanks to his voice augmentation as a Death Knight, tends to strike fear into others, even though he doesn't mean to do so.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Even More Clam Love

3 comments
Straight from the horse's mouth (aka 3.0.8 PTR patch notes):

"Players can now open clams while riding a vehicle, sitting, mounted, stealthed, and invisible."

ZOMG, NERF CLAMS!

I Think Ghostcrawler is a Pretty Cool Guy.

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eh buffs Arcane Mages and doesn't afraid of anything.

I'm sorry, dear internet, for having to stoop to the lowest common denominator for that remark. But whether or not you enjoy the digital cesspool that is 4chan, there is some grain of truth in the humor and sarcasm that can be found there, especially when you apply it to WoW (which in some cases, can contain the same content up on the boards from time to time).

Yes, what I mean to say is that Ghostcrawler is indeed a guy to keep your eye on. One day he's nerfing hunters to the ground without remorse, and the next day he's being so nice to Arcane Mages that everyone turns a suspicious eye towards him, wondering with the fullest extent of paranoia if he's going to bat us to the ground too. Let's take a look at the 6-step program, shall we?

1) Evocation – cooldown reduced to 4 min.
2) Arcane Flows – now also reduces the cooldown of Evocation by an additional 1 / 2 min.

If by chance you misread Arcane Flows, the Evocation cooldown is not reduced by half a minute, but rather by one or two minutes, depending on how many points you invest in the talent. This means that fully talented, your purple funnel of delicious mana is reduced to a 2 minute cooldown. Great for all Arcane mages, but specifically for PvP. With the Evoc glyph, you're looking at considerable HP and mana regeneration every 2 minutes, coming from an mage built for increased mobility over his Frosty counterpart.

Sounds very threatening to the PvP balance, but good ol' ghosty is quite aware, saying "If every PvP mage invests in this glyph and you find they just never die then we can chill out the amount healed." So not only is he pretty cool, but pretty chill as well. Excellent!

3) Arcane Blast – overhauled. Will now increase the damage of your next Arcane spell by 15%. However using Arcane Blast itself does not consume the charge, but instead increases the mana of your next Arcane Blast, up to a maximum of 3 stacks (and a 45% buff). You can alternate Blast and Barrage to keep buffing Barrage, or you can build Blast up higher for a heavy mana cost.

Euripides over at Criticl QQ has a very spot-on analogy regarding the overhaul of Arcane Blast and the new Arcane mage playstyle in PvE (but moreso in PvP). Claiming the mage to be a caster version of a rogue, you use arcane blast as a means to build up combo points, and use your Arcane Barrage or Arcane Missiles as your finishing move, potentially doing massive damage if you land a crit, or have cooldowns boosting the spell damage.

Yet at the same time, the rotation comes back to the old BC days, where the purple mage can once again cast a certain amount of stacks of ABlast depending on the his or her current mana pool, the enemy's health bar, the mobility conditions, and many other things. The decision tree aspect is restored, and it looks like Arcane is getting some love once again.

4) Torment the Weak – now works with Arcane Blast and does bonus damage to targets afflicted by any kind of slowing effect (e.g. Thunder Clap).

The question that remains now is whether or not bosses will be affected by Torment the Weak through means other than Slow when the patch hits. Having read through both the actual topic posted and the blue post watcher on MMO-champion, there hasn't been a clear-cut answer.

If it is a yes, then Deep Frost will really have to take some consideration into investing in the Arcane Tree. Unlike Fire mages, who are already investing in this talent for the cookie cutter build, Frost doesn't need a "Slow slave" to apply the snare effect to boost damage.

And besides, it's never a bad thing to be able pick up clearcasting and Focus Magic along the way for increased damage and mana efficiency. With Spell Impact increasing your Ice Lance and Fireball damage during Brain Freeze and Fingers of Frost procs, you get one free point to invest to your discretion. I've noticed that I'm taking a lot of raid damage, and despite having the convenience of Ice Barrier to buffer the hurt, the 40 resistance from rank 1 Arcane Absorption is a personal decision, and is probably the right choice for many mages for survivability purposes.

So, if the answer to the original question is yes (and my frosty intuition leads me to believe it to be so), then expect to see me use a 18/0/53 build for raids. I lose my blizzard grindy goodness, but I gain a significant amount of damage and mana efficiency.

Suddenly, that dual-spec idea doesn't sound as useless to mages as it used to be.

5) Elemental Precision – renamed Precision and now works on all spells.

This has two main implications. One, it removes the double-dipping hit bug that Frostfire Bolt used to have. Due to being both a fire and frost spell, it would often reduce the hit rating for the spell by six percent instead of three. This change essentially brings FFB back to three percent. At first glance, bringing the this would appear to be a nerf, but in reality, FFB mages were gearing up for 3% anyways, because while slushbolt was affected by the "bug," Pyroblast and Scorch were not.

Instead, you're looking at an additional three percent reduction to all spells, meaning that Precision and Arcane Focus will stack and lower the hit cap for Arcane Mages by a considerable amount. Since they are already going so deep into the frost tree for better itemization freedom due to less points needed in hit rating, they can might as well go the full eleven points for Icy Veins, thus reliving the good old days of 40/0/21 Arcane in the Burning Crusade, except with an overhaul to Arcane Blast as warranted by Ghostcrawler and the development team.

LarĂ­sa, you might want to consider coming back to them, I kinda miss the old spec wars. They made for some excellent posts, and some really nice traffic. Wait, did I say that out loud? Moving on! :3

6) Improved Blizzard – snaring effect reduced to 20/40/50%.

At first glance, the change is inconsequential as far as raiding or instancing goes, but when it comes to AoE grinding, we end up with less snare than we originally did before Chilled to the Bone was introduced. Fully taleted, the current snare effect of blizzard is 85%, 75% if you ignore CttB. With the change to Imp. Blizzard, the total snare effect of Blizzard, including CttB will be 70%, five percent less than what it was before 3.0 was even released!

What this means for AoE grinders out there is that we have to revert to the pre-3.0 methods of grinding, before CttB. This means that once again, we cannot use Frostbite in our spec because of the separation created by the snare and root effects, and we will once again have to blink out of Frost Nova range to gain adequate space for our blizzards to do the full duration of its damage. But with the ability of Blizzard to hit, we will still only have to do one iteration of Blink->Blizzard to kill them off. Any survivors will simply be Cone of Colded or Arcane Assploded for style points. Fine by me, it will make for more entertaining youtube videos.

As an AoE purist, I welcome the change, since it brings back the finesse required to do the elaborate channel-dance known as Blizzard. The learning curve will be even worse for those who want to try it out for the first time, but will make it much more exciting to those with experience. The only thing I don't like is having to edit my Northrend grinding guide once again. Damn you ghostcrawler! *shakesfist*

Closing Thoughts

Despite these great changes to the arcane tree, as well as the somewhat deserved nerf to AoE grinding, things still look very great for mages everywhere. With the adjustment of Hunter DPS, it is now more viable for mages to compete with them on the DPS charts with a multitude of specs. Some will say that mages will come out on top with this round of changes, and I'm inclined to agree.

We will now have to look out over our shoulders with a paranoia. As Ghostcrawler stated, "Mage PvE damage in general is something we are keeping a close eye on. With the recent hunter changes, many of which were nerfs to PvE damage, we want to make sure mages now don’t break away from the pack of damage-dealing specs."

Even as Frost, we will have to watch out, because any possible chance that the frost tree is indirectly affected by nerfs to frostfire, the current king of mage dps, will cripple us as well. Ghostcrawler won't hesitate to make the call. He doesn't afraid of anything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Open Letter of Apology to Hunters Everywhere

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Dear Hunters of Azeroth,

Please let me get this off my chest. As a mage, I grew very envious of hunters as a class after the expansion hit. I was squeezing every last cooldown available, and the hunter in my heroic pug always pulled away on the dps charts. All this time, I had thought it was a gear issue, but having run with a guildie of mine who had JUST turned 80, and barely passing me (who has been quietly acquiring gear over the past few weeks). With comparable cc skills and MQoSRDPS, I truly felt threatened to be replaced in PuGs and raids. For my envy, I apologize.

And it wasn't just single-target dps. Volley was starting to irk me some. Just when I thought that the addition of crit to blizzard would make us awesome at AoE again, the hunter came along with his removed cooldown and raining absolute death on the multi-mob pull. No, it wasn't the fact that the ability was instant-cast, only cost seventeen percent of base mana compared to our fifty million, and allowed hunters to continue pewpewing while the spell took effect. Rather, it was the tendency to lean on this spell on every pull that involved more than two mobs and an adequately skilled AoE tank. I thought, what were these guys trying to do? Become mages? For thinking that my class was getting quietly usurped, I am sorry.

Last but not least, your pet was doing some fierce damage. For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted my Water Elemental to simply stay by my side forever as a combat pet. Quite aware that this line of thinking was stepping on the toes of the uniqueness of pet classes such as Hunters and especially warlocks, I still thought that they wouldn't mind the fixture, especially since it would help with Frost Mage DPS quite well. But when I see the BM hunter come along with his ferocity pet, I knew that Squirtle was not going to cut it this run. For even considering thinking twice about my water elemental, I have let myself down, and I apologize for putting even the tiniest shrivel of a percent of blame on your class.

I'm sorry for the envy. And the xenophobia. And the Pet-class blasphemy.

But seriously, it didn't have to end up this way.

I die a little each time now, thinking that my thoughts and actions have led to this decision/proposition put forth by Ghostcrawler and the Blizzard Devellopment team. The nerfs to single-target, multi-target, and pet-based DPS are simply staggering, and I just hate to see all of it adjusted at once.

To me, it's like putting the damage tax back onto Frostbolt.

To me, it's like removing critical hits from Blizzard.

To me, it's like removing Summon Water Elemental off of Cold Snap.

That third one hit home, and it hit hard. And if I were any more sensitive than I already am, I probably would have broken down to unthinkable levels of emo.

So hunters, In spite of my subtle and hidden, well, spite, for your class performance, I wish to start things over again. Unlike the Retribution Paladin Nerfs, this was one that hit a class more related to mine. Pure, unadulterated DPS, taken away, with no option to respec into a different role without having to reroll another class.

That's not how it should be, even though the intent was justified. I wish to turn over a new leaf with regards to my perception of hunters. No more anger against huntards, since a large number of them rerolled Death Knights anyways. No more envy, since we're on closer footing with regards to our DPS.

I shall work even harder now to compete with you. But if you ever need anything, just ask. I've got some strudels that will keep your Gorilladin happy for quite a while. It even has the swirly icing on top, shaped like a thunderstomp.

Thanks much,

Krizzlybear

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hit-Capped, and Ready for Naxx!

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Neat little story about how I managed to get the last piece of gear to reach the oh-so-elusive hit cap.

I flew to Wyrmrest Temple (am I the only one who initially read the faction as Wyrmnest?) after crafting my ebonweave. Having hit honored a few nights ago during a heroic Violet Hold run (my second favorite instance in LK), I visited the quartermaster on the top floor to grab my sash, assuming that it would bring me to the hit cap.

No dice. After equipping it, both my hit rating and spellpower went down instead. What? Was there soemthing I was missing? I checked my bag again for the item that I had replaced with the sash. It was a badge reward. *dumb dumb dumb*

Waste of a few pieces of gold. Penny-pincher that I am, I looked around for a quest that I could do to reimburse me the gold spent on getting that inferior rep reward. I checked the radar for "!", and it was Chromie who was in need of my assistance.

"Do you remember that time when you defended the infinite hourglass with your future self?" She asked. "Well, he's now your past self, and you gotta help him out!"

Well, off I went! At the bronze dragonshrine, I laid out the houglass, and lo and behold, Past Basertin was there.

If I recall, the last time I did this quest, Future Bashertin was a dagger wielding maniac. I was rather amused, so I joined in on the shennanigans, since he was doing quite a bit of damage by himself.

This time around, it was pretty much the same thing. He daggered. I daggered. Laughs were had. Insults were hurled.

Past you whispers: This equipment looks cool and all, but couldn't we have done a little better? Are you even raiding?

After completing the quest, I can finally say "Yes. Now I can!" The quest reward was an awesome trinket that brought me up to the hit cap. Thank you, Rune of Infinite Power! Time to add you to the Hit gear post. Once the servers are back up, I'm gonna pug it out and check out this so-called Naxxramas. Those Scourge won't even know what hit em!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Meet the Cast

5 comments
Name: Bash (Bashertin) Fizzleblock
Level 80 Gnome Mage
Professions: Tailoring and Enchanting
Armory Profile



An enigma to many, but gifted nonetheless, this gnomish mage is a member of the Kirin Tor. He was discovered by the mage council in Northrend, where he was encased in a giant block of ice in the southern reaches of Crystalsong, trapped for an unknown amount of time. Brought up as one of their own, the mage displayed a knack for cryomancy, which some believe to be tied to how he was discovered in the first place. Like all mages, he is currently a target of Malygos and his crusade against the arcanists of Azeroth.

Name: Wimzig Wintersprug
Level 70 Gnome Death Knight
Professions: Jewelcrafting and Inscription
Armory Profile



A former agent of the argent dawn, Wimzig was tragically slain by the Scarlet Crusade in a top-secret experiment of manipulating the undead. Due to the powers of a runic necklace that he kept as a good luck charm, the Lich King sought him out and raised him as a Death Knight. Rescued by the Knights of the Ebon Blade, he was freed from the clutches of Arthas and was reunited with his dear friend, Leyola Swiftwillow. Having no memory of his previous life, he keeps a journal that he had kept prior to his first death, called "Wimzig's Whimsy." An enthusiast of writing and calligraphy, he is a skilled scribe.

Name: Leyola Swiftwillow
Level 73 Night Elf Druid
Professions: Herbalism and Mining
Armory Profile



A second-generation Druid, Leyola's parents were veterans of the Third War, particularly the Battle of Mount Hyjal. Unlike her parents, who were trained in Feral Combat, Leyola chose to pursue the art of Restoration, healing those she would meet during her journeys. Daring to forge her own path, she joined the Argent Dawn, where she met Wimzig Wintersprug, a Frost Mage at the time. Somewhat shaken by his turn of evets, she swears to avenge her friend, and hopes to one day find the "natural cure" for undeath.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The "Jack of All Trades" Dilemma

6 comments
Straightforward and to the point, I'm going to start this post with some advice. Play what you love.

Something interesting came up today, while I was healing an Old Kingdom PuG with the lovely Leyola. Originally, I was lounging around in Dalaran with the boisterous Bashertin, and saw a few messages in the trade and lfg channels wanting heals for Old Kingdom. Leyola, still a good way into her 72nd season, could potentially heal it, and I was in the mood. So why not? I whispered the group leader, telling them I was on my way with a resto druid.

While game went through its loading process, I whipped up good old WoWHead to check out the instance info, since it had been a while since I last ventured into that dungeon. Levels 73-75, it had suggested. I began to have second thoughts regarding the appropriateness of both the level and gear of my Night Elf for the instance. Those chilling words words from Illidan, "You are not prepared!" suddenly rushed into my head. I warned the group that I was undergeared and underlevelled, being both a level under the suggested range as well as having the gear equivalent of a fresh 70; approximately 700 spellpower and a below average amount of health and mana.

The Pally tank shrugged. "Whatever," he said. "We'll adjust as we go. Might as well try."

We dawdled along through the dungeon as expected. The run went as smooth as it could, despite numerous individual deaths during the bosses and pulls (as expected). This was a great run, and I enjoyed healing. The kicker though, was the two individual whispers I got when it was all over, and I left the group.

"Thanks for the awesome healing. We couldn't have done it without you."

"TYVM for coming! I'll add you to my friends for the next time we do an instance."

Leyola is just an alt, yet she gets such praise from groups due to her ability to heal. In my entire time with Bashertin, I really don't think I've gotten as many compliments on my DPS. Attribute this to the fact that DPS is a group responsibility, but the fact remains that I have an ability to heal as well. This seeped into the guild as well, having received accolades for healing guild runs with efficiency.

"Bash, we need some healers. Think you can get Leyola up to 80 and help us heal Naxx?"

Let's switch back to my life, because this is the reason why I wrote up this post in the first place.

I'm Asian, and by stereotypical nature, I happen to be smart. I obtained very good marks in High School, across a wide variety of subjects. I got accepted into all the colleges/universities that I applied for, and the family praise was just as stereotypical.

"Oh, he should be a doctor."

I could be a doctor, but I don't want to. It's the "Jack of all trades" dilemma. When you're capable of doing many things well, it is often asked of you to do things that are optimum benefit. You may not like it, but you're damned good at it.

Well, 4 years later, and I'm about to graduate at the University of Toronto with a degree in Forensic Science. No doctoring here. Instead of preventing people from dying, I'm investigating people who are dead. Instead of administrating blood tests, I'm analyzing blood samples. So on, and so forth.

What happened to the doctor thing? I was capable. I could have been something that provided me all the financial stability anyone could ever ask for. But I didn't go through with it. I didn't like being a doctor. I loved Forensic Science. It's not because of the glamor and romance of the the show, CSI (sorry matticus, I actually don't like the show at all!), but the hunkered-down laboratory aspects of analysis, and working with the justice system via expert witness testimony. These avenues were enthralling, and I choose to do it, despite being skilled in a lot of other things too.

The situation has reared its head again in WoW, and currently I have 3 toons that I play, and play well (for completion's sake, I tanked with Wimzig through BC content all the way up to 69 with no problems, and lots of praise as well). And guess what? I will still keep blogging about Frost Mages, and I will still keep raiding with my mage as my main. Leyola remains second fiddle with Wimzig in tow.

Of course, if and when Leyola reaches 80, I won't mind throwing her out there if the guild is short on heals for a heroic run or heck, even a naxx run. I love the guild too much to hold it back whenever we hit a snag in progression or general activity. It's just that when given the choice, I will be logging into Bashertin at every available opportunity.

Why? Because I love the thrill of riding the threat wave with my Water Elemental by my side. I love the utility of being able to port and make tables and counterspelling and spellstealing. I love the survivability of Ice Block and Ice Barrier. And no amount of rolled lifeblooms or critted Frost Strikes could change that.

I tell you now, denizens of the internether. Do what you love, and do it well. Don't let anyone dictate who you ought to be if you don't like it. You will end up burnt out in a dead-end situation, feeling like you're doing a chore, while everyone else is enjoying themselves.

This is my belief in life, and once again, WoW conveniently reaffirms it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Spell Hit Your Way Into Naxxramas!

14 comments
If you're familiar with my previous iteration of this spell hit guide, "Spell Hit Your Way Into Karazhan," then there's really no need to explain further. But it has been a while, and since the outdated version, the blog has grown (if at all) in its readership, so an outline is always good.

When preparing your fresh 80 for the endgame raid content, the most important stat to stack on your mage is hit rating. Theorycrafting aside, the general conclusion is that up until your character's hit cap, hit rating is the most efficient stat, point-for-point, to increase your overall DPS.

Generally, ??? level bosses in raids 3 levels above your own, meaning that the chance of your spell to hit is a mere 83%. By investing points in your gear in Spell Hit, you can potentially raise that percentage to 100. And depending on your talent spec and race, the required amount of points to raise that percentage is relatively low. Thus, Spell Hit is the first stat that you will need to stack if you want to start raiding. But once your chance to hit bosses reaches 100%, any excess points will do nothing. Thus, as you gear up, it is always important to make sure you have the bare minimum, regardless of your Spell Damage, Spell haste, and Stamina.

At level 80, the hit cap for mages is 368, requiring that they invest 3 points into either Elemental Precision or Arcane Focus, depending on spec. With Heroic Presence, a buff from having a Draenei in your raid composition, the hit cap is lowered to 342.

Let's get onto the gear!

2-Handed Weapons

Tower of the Infinite Mind - 32 hit
Quest reward from the group quest Last Rites in Borean Tundra. The spell power is disappointingly low, but it's worth picking up while levelling.

Zabra's Misplaced Staff - 34 hit
World Drop BoE. If you can find a good deal on the AH, it might be worth buying out. There are other more cost-efficient methods, however.

Stave of Youthful Sorrow - 44 hit
Quest reward from the quest Tirion's Gambit in Icecrown. It's a great combination of hit and critical strike rating, with nice spellpower to boot.

Chilly Slobberknocker - 50 hit
Quest reward from the group quest The Champion of Anguish in Zul'Drak. It's the Wrath equivalent to the Ring of Blood, so it's a great piece to pick up if you can find a group of people to run it with.

1-Handed Weapons

Flameheart Spell Scalpel - 34 hit
Kirin Tor Quartermaster, requires Revered reputation. Very nice spell power. Start wearing that tabard ASAP! No excuses, either, since mages start out Friendly, and thus are eligible right away to wear one.

Cursed Lich Blade - 34 hit
Drops from Novos the Summoner in Heroic Drak'tharon Keep. Another great spell power blade. Tip: Repeatedly do Drak'tharon while wearing the Kirin Tor tabard, and see which one you get first.

Off-Hand Frills

Telestra's Journal - 39 hit
Drops from Grand Magus Telestra in Heroic The Nexus. A good early option if you decide against the badge reward.

Ward of the violet Citadel - 38 hit
Purchasable for a cool 25 Emblems of Heroism. Start farming up hose badges!

Wands

Ancient Measuring Rod - 11 hit
Drops from Loken in Halls of Lightning. Good all-around stats.

Wand of the San'layn - 14 hit
Drops from Prince Keleseth in Heroic Utgarde Keep. Has haste, which is always a good thing. I prefer the HoL rod for the overall stats.

Head

The Argent Skullcap - 61 hit
Quest Reward from the quest The Crusader's Pinnacle. Aside from its staggering amount of hit rating, it also looks like a turban, so it will look pretty awesome with your flying carpet while you sing "A whole new world," while flying through Icecrown.

Hat of Wintry Doom - 44 hit
Craftable by a tailor. You might be able to pick one up at the AH, but expect a very steep cost due to ebonweave cooldowns. You'll probably want this because of the Meta Gem slot, but the skullcap is much easier to obtain and has a higher hit rating.

Shoulder

None outside of Naxx-25. Ain't that a kick in the gnuts?

Chest

Turtle-Minders Robe - 38 hit
Kalu'ak Quartermaster, requires Honored rating. Very easy to get, as long as you do a the Kalu'ak quests in Borean Tundra, Howling Fjord, and Dragonblight.

Robes of Lightning - 55 hit
Quest reward from the dungeon quest http://www.wowhead.com/?quest=13108 Whatever it Takes! in Storm Peaks. Very nice stats overall, lots of spell power. Look at that Stamina!

Water-Drenched Robe - 62 hit
Drops from Ichoron in Heroic Violet Hold. Considering the odds of this boss appearing in VH, combined with the drop rate, it will take a few runs for this to drop, but it remains as the best and cheapest alternative to the Ebonweave Robe.

Ebonweave Robe - 68 hit
Craftable by a slvl 440 tailor. Very expensive and costly to make. With proper gemming, The Violet Hold robe is only slightly inferior, stat-wise, and will save you a large number of cooldowns and mats.

Wrist

None Available pre-naxx. There's a badge item, but it's only purchasable with valor emblems from 25-mans. /sadpanda.

Hands

Lava Burn Gloves - 36 hit
Drops from Lavanthor in Violet Hold. The only viable alternative to ebonweave tailoring.

Ebonweave Gloves - 51 hitCraftable by a Slvl 435 tailor. Not as costly as the Ebonweave, but offers excellent stats. I highly suggest crafting this item first in your set, compared to the others.

Waist

Sash of the Wizened Wyrm - 40 hit
Wyrmrest Accord quartermaster, requires Honored reputation. By far the easiest piece to obtain, but compared to the next belt listed, leaves MUCH to be desired. Take it for the +Hit only.

Girdle of Bane - 48 hit
Drops from King Ymiron in Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle. Best belt available, given that you can make it past Skadi the Ruthless, who is probably one of the more difficult encounters in the game, pre-raid.

Flowing Sash of Order - 31 hit
Drops from Loken in Heroic Halls of Lightning. Inferior to to the girdle, even with the socket. Use a green +Hit gem or +Damage gem, and you're still short in stats compared to its utgarde counterpart.

Legs

None outside of Naxx-25. Boo!

Feet

Available from a badge vendor, but requires emblems of Valor, which you can only get from Naxx-25. Again, we're shortchanged with spell hit.

Neck

Necklace of Taldaram - 43 hit
Dropped by Prince Taldaram in Heroic Old Kingdom. Better overall stats than Emeline's Locket, but lacks the socket flexibility.

Emeline's Locket - 25 hit
Quest Reward from The Admiral Revealed in Icecrown. The socket bonus, when gemmed with a Rigid Autumn's Glow only amounts to 1 more point of hit raiting than Taldaram's Necklace, but the flexibility of socketing allows you to socket more spell damage if you reach the hit cap, at the cost of some points in intellect and stamina.

Finger

Ring of Northern Tears - 31 Hit
Crafted by slvl 420 Jewelcrafters, but are Bind on Equip. Grab one off the AH as early as you can! This is the best entry level ring, and will go for quite a good amount. Socket it with pure hit, or with a spirit/hit or mp5/hit gem for the socket bonus and meta gem requirement.

Voodoo Signet - 24 hit
Quest reward from the dungeon quest For Posterity in Gundrak. The stamina and intellect stats are delicious, and goes well with the jewelcrafter's ring.

Trinkets

Figurine - Twilight Serpent - 42 hit
Crafted by an slvl 425 Jewelcrafter, requires slvl 400 Jewelcrafting to use. The great boon here is the additional two gem sockets. You could put +Hit gems on it, but even with two Rigid Autumn's Glow, the trinket will end up statistically worse than the Mark of the War Prisoner, mentioned below. But at the hit cap, you can gem for spell damage, making this trinket very valuable afterwards.

Mark of the War Prisoner - 73 hit
Drops from Cyanigosa in Heroic Violet Hold. This is the level 80 version of the Scryer's Bloodgem, giving the same % increase to spell hit at 80 as the Bloodgem at 70. Thankfully, this item does not require you to choose one faction over the other. With so much hit, this item will last for a VERY long time. Pound for pound, this should be the most sought-after item for casters looking to get into raiding.

Enchants

With the staggeringly small list of gear offering hit rating, you're left with bugging the enchanter in your guild for the following:

Enchant Gloves - Precision - 20 hit
Requires 15 Infinite Dust, 5 Greater Cosmic Essence

Enchant Boots - Icewalker - 12 hit, 12 critical strike
Requires 8 Infinite Dust, 1 Crystallized Water.

Enchant Weapon - Accuracy - 25 hit, 25 critical strike
Requiers 40 Infinite Dust, 8 Greater Cosmic Essence, 6 Abyss Crystal

Conclusion

From the looks of the list above, one should immediately notice that there is a limited amount of gear with hit rating for caster classes. Due to the limited availability of each item listed above, it is imperative to plan your raiding preparation strategically. Wear the right tabards concurrently with heroics that offer gear that provide hit rating upgrades. The secondary route towards the hit cap is to obtain gear with plenty of sockets for yellow gems that increase your hit rating.

My suggestion would have to be farming Violet Hold while wearing your Kirin Tor Tabard. There are a LOT of hit rating items that drops from each of the bosses, and with Northern Cloth Scavenging, you can also acquire a reasonable amount of cloth each run to help level up your Tailoring for those ebonweave pieces.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ask a Krizzlybear: Frostfire Bolt Edition

6 comments
Christopher asked a question in the comment section on ony of my recent blog posts. He writes, "could you share a little knowledge about the newest Mage trick, Frostfire bolt? How does it affect us frosties with deep frost builds? Is it worth it to use? Does it replace frostbolt in our rotation of frostbolt, frostbolt, frostbolt with the procced fireball and ice lance when appropriate?"

Well Christopher, let's begin by examining the properties of Frostfire Bolt. Frostfire Bolt is a 3-second nuke that counts as both a frost spell and fire spell. This means that any and all effects that would affect either school would apply to Frostfire Bolt as well. However, when it comes to damage, it doesn't count as either frost or fire at all. Instead, it counts as frostfire, and because of this, it ignores resistances and immunities to either school. But, if the target has a general resist/immunity to spells, it will affect it.

So what does this mean for frost mages? As a deep frost raider, no longer will you be completely shut out of a fight where he boss has phases of frost immunity. An example of this would be Hydross in Serpentshrine Cavern. When he gets pulled through the beam and takes on his frost phase, your Frostbolts will be rendered useless, but your Frostfire Bolts will be able to damage him. The spell will benefit from a large number of talents in your build, excluding Improved Frostbolt and Empowered Frostbolt. This is a definite asset to have, but that's as far as it goes with regards to the spell's use. Your frostbolt still has greater DPS capability in a deep frost build, thanks to Empowered Frostbolt and a faster casting time than Frostfire Bolt.

Thus, in order to maximize the effect of a Frostfire Bolt-centric raiding build, you will have to "double dip," taking talents in both the Frost and Fire trees to boost the abilities of your spell in order to maximize DPS. Due to the placement of such talents in both trees, you simply cannot take them all. It will require proper tuning and balance of talents to both improve its damage, and cater to your playstyle.

At the end, you will end up making one of three choices with regards to the spec: deep frost with leftover fire, deep fire with leftover frost, or an elementalist spec with approximately equal amounts of points invested in each. From what I've been reading on the net, it would appear that deep fire is the ideal route to maximize the damage of frostfire bolt, and thus has more of a fire spec feel than frost.

And from one look at the talent tree, this is quite the case. Most of the fire-buffing talents on the fire tree is in the higher tiers, while the frost-buffing talents are more spread out on the frost tree. More importantly, by homogenizing the effects of Improved Scorch and Winter's Chill, it is no longer required to invest points into both, making Winter's Chill a less attractive option, as it is in a deeper tier than Improved Scorch.

But as a diehard frost fanatic, I will tell you that you can still have lots of fun with Frostfire Bolt with a deep frost build. Here's a spec that may tickle your fancy. It plays a lot like a deep frost build, but replaces Frostbolt spam with Frostfire Bolt spam. Of course this will output less single-target dps than Frostbolt spam, but by going into the fire tree, your AoE dps becomes absolutely DISGUSTING.

World in Flames, meet Blizzard, your new best friend.

Or, how about an elementalist spec? Let's emphasize more fire, but keep to the spirit of deep frost. Try this 0/30/41 spec on for size. You grab Fire Power for an awesome 10% increase in Frostfire damage, you retain sufficient snare to AoE grind effectively, AND you get to keep Squirtle! Hot damn!

With these two builds, you can do your best frost mage impression while you get acquainted with this awesome new spell. Now all blizzard needs to do is to make a dual-school AoE spell. Frostfire Storm, anybody?

Frostfire Storm
110% of Base Mana, 30 yd range
Pelts the enemy with shards of frostfire, doing 3000 damage over 8 seconds, slowing movement speed by 10% and causing an additional 50 damage over 5 seconds to each target. If the target is more vulnerable to Frost damage than Fire damage, then this spell will cause Frost damage instead of Fire damage.

Tomorrow: Frost Death Knight Impressions

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wimzig's Whimsy: I am Reborn!

4 comments


It feels...strange. The sensation of death undone. I remember nothing, yet my goal is clearer than ever. I serve the ebon hand, and I fight for them until my last breath. I fight for those I have lost. I fight for those who have lost me. I am a Death Knight, a pawn of the scourge, reformed to deliver cold vengence. Hated by many, merly tolerated by few. I accept my destiny to take arms against Arthas in his quest for power.

A mage no more, but the ice still flows coldly in my veins. Frost I shall remain, now and forever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Screenshot: A Whole New World!

10 comments

A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming!

A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew
But when I'm way up here
It's crystal clear
That now I'm in a whole new world with youuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The All-Purpose Lich King AoE Grinding Guide

103 comments
Sick of questing now? Still only level 70? Tired yourself out from camping baby murloc cages in Borean Tundra, or opening crab traps in Howling Fjord?

Need to make some money?

If you're a mage, all of this can be answered, and then some, with my frost-tastic Northrend AoE guide! In this post, I'll teach you the ins and outs of gathering up a bunch of mobs and absolutely murdering them! And by the end, you should have the know-how to blizzard your way to 80!

Part the First: The level 70 Build!

0/0/51 (+10) - The bare bones

This build picks up ALL of the necssary talents required to maximize your AoE grind. Let me break it down to you Talent by Talent.

Frostbite - Combined with shatter, allows for blizzard crits pretty much all the time.

Ice Floes - Gets your Frost Nova sooner, so you can use it just in case something goes wrong. If you're lucky, you won't even have to use it at all!

Ice Shards - Makes blizzard crits absolutely ridiculous.

Elemental Precision - guarantees that Frost Nova hits everybody. Just in case you have to grind on mobs 1 level above you, you don't have to invest as much in Hit rating to achieve 100% accuracy.

Permafrost - Makes them go as slow as possible, giving you more time to hit with blizzard.

Piercing Ice - Increases blizzard damage.

Improved Blizzard - Makes them go even slower, giving you more time to hit with blizzard.

Arctic Reach - Lets you freeze more mobs with frost nova/Shattered Barrier. Also lets you blizzard after a blink.

Frost Channeling - Ensures that you don't go OOM sooner than you need to. Also lets you do more pulls without having to eat/drink.

Cold Snap - Your panic button, in case something goes terribly wrong.

Cold As Ice - Gets your Ice Barrier back sooner, just in case you really need it.

Winter's Chill - Increases the crit chance of Blizzard. Each blizzard tick applies a stack of debuff, so by the time you cast your second blizzard, you essentially have 10% increased chance of critting each tick.

Arctic Winds - Increases your blizzard damage. Also increases your dodge slightly, making your Ice Barrier last a tiny bit longer.

Fingers of Frost - Proc increases crit chance of Blizzard ticks by 50%, thanks to Shatter. It procs ALL THE TIME.

Summon Water Elemental - Take him only for the free ranged frost nova. Keep him on passive, so that he doesn't aggro some random mob from one of your pulls.

Chilled to the Bone - Increases chill effect of your blizzard by another 10%, bringing the total to a disgusting 85%.

This minimal build is good enough to start grinding in outlands, but since we're talking about Northrend, you have another 10 talent points to spend. If you are looking to do other things besides AoE grinding, I suggest putting the remaining points into Improved Frostbolt, Improved Water Elemental, and either Brain Freeze or Empowered Frostbolt.

If you want to really go pure AoE from 70-80 (although I really advise against it), go down the Fire tree and pick up World in Flames, which increases your crit chance of Blizzard by another 10%!

Part the Second: The Gear!

The most important stats for AoE grinding are Stamina, Intellect, Spell Power, and Critical Strike Rating. Stam and Int are important for staying alive long enough to cast your blizzard spells, and to make sure that you don't run out of mana in the middle of a pull. Spell power increases (albeit slightly) the damage done by blizzard. Not as important as the other stats, but it's very good to have. Besides, most quest reward gear give adequate amounts of spellpower anyways. Critical Strike Rating is good too, now that blizzard can crit.

Now for Trinkets, there are two items in the game that I'm glad that I saved up and/or quested for. The Lightning Capacitor and Thunder Capacitor. The Lightning Capacitor drops from Illhoof in Karazhan. Alliance-side, the Thunder Capacitor is a quest reward from a quest chain in Dragonblight given by the NPC Zivlix, located at 54,23, just north of Galakron's rest. Anybody who knows details on how to get it horde-side feel free to drop off a comment.

Why I mention these two trinkets in particular is that they have stacking effects. Each tick tha crits will add a charge to BOTH items. Since Blizzard is going to crit A LOT, you're going to have charges proccing left and right, dealing a whole ton of damage in the meantime. Testing naked on 6 theramore combat dummies, The two capacitors alone increased my DPS by about 800, compared to using the badge trinket and its brewfest equivalent.

Part the Third: The NEW AoE sequence!

Thanks to new features in 3.0, such as Blizzard critting, as well as Shattered Barrier, it's easier than ever to take down multiple mobs. Just follow these easy steps!

1) Cast Ice Barrier. Wait for the cooldown to run down a bit.
2) Run around and gather some mobs. Make sure to just get into their aggro radius, rather than walking right into them, to minimize their damage done to you.
3) When Ice Barrier's cooldown is up, cast it again as you wait for the mobs to gather around you.
4) Let the mobs pound on you until Ice Barrier breaks. Shattered Barrier will freeze all the mobs in on space.
5) As soon as it breaks, BLINK AWAY, RIGHT AWAY. Make sure you blink to a spot that's not close to another mob.
6) Turn around and cast Blizzard, making sure that the farthest edge of the targetting circle is touching the frozen mobs.
7) Cast blizzard again when the channel is close to zero. Make sure to aim it so that they walk right into the blizzard as its being cast.
8) Repeat #7 as necessary. Thanks to the snaring talents, You can fit up to 3 blizzards before they reach you. With adequate gear, you should be able to kill them before they reach you as well. If not, then Frost Nova, Blink, repeat.

Alternatively, for #3-4, you can simply frost nova while your Ice Barrier is still up, but I prefer to save that for just in case you pull another mob to you while you're in the middle of a sequence.

Also, If you have Water Elemental out before you start the pull, you can have it cast freeze during the first cast of Blizzard, so they stay in one place. They're also good for protection, just in case a mob breaks free, or aggros you from elsewhere during the sequence.

Part the Foruth: Grinding on Yellows!

Some of the best mobs that can be AoE'd do not have an aggro radius at all, and will only attack if they are provoked by an attacker. These exist mainly in the form of animals scattered around the place. You can find some that noticeably travel together in formation, thus they can be AoE'd at once, without having to lure each to a particular spot.

However, there's usually a "bull" version of that mob that does have an aggro radius, so it's wise to grab that one and lure it to the rest of the pack. Once you meet up with the rest of the pack, use Arcane Explosion to aggro the entire group, and continue with the grind, either by Shattered Barrier or Frost Nova.

Part the Fifth: IDEAL GRINDING SPOTS!

Just remember, this method works ideally when you gather a group of mobs that are purely melee-class. You don't want to be pulling any ranged classes or casters. Sometimes there are mobs that charge after aggroing, which completely disrupts the pulling process. So skip these. Here are a few of my choice favs.

68-70

Wooly Rhinos, Borean Tundra

They travel in packs, and are often accompanied by bull rhinos. Just stay away from D.E.H.T.A while you're doing this, k?

70-71

Gorloc Waddlers and Gorloc Steam Belchers, Borean Tundra

These guys are scattered close to the coast, just south of the geyser fields. You can probably grab a good number of them and then lure them onto the main path, ensuring that you don't aggro anything else. Just start at one edge of the stretch and work your way down to the other edge. When you get back to the first part, there will be respawns. Excellent group.

Iron Dwarfs, Howling Fjord

There's a large line of them surrounding the excavation. You can pull a few of them, but don't do too many, since their attacks leave a stackable DoT that is sure to kill you. A caster patrols the area, but you can pull it separately from the pack without too much trouble. Respawn is fairly good.

72-73
Wastes Diggers, Dragonblight

These guys have stackable DoT's as well, so watch out and don't pull too many at once. You can rotate between excavation pits and they should respawn by the time you get back to the first one. The Taskmaster is ranged, so be sure to pull him seperately when he patrols to the edge of the area.

Scarlet Onslaught, Dragonblight

Northeast of Wintergarde, there's a large encampment of Onslaught mobs that are purely melee. there are so many groups here that you can have a field day with multiple pulls and respawns will occur when you go back to the beginning.

74-75
Highland Mustang, Grizzly Hills


OH MAN. There are a few herds that gallop in groups of 8-10. These are the ones you want to go for. OH BOY ARE THEY GREAT TO GRIND ON. Remember. Arcane explosion to have the circle collapse on you, then Frost Nova in place. Highly Recommended!

75-76
Venture Corp., Sholazar Basin

JACKPOT! The entire Venture Corp Encampment on the northwest side of the Suntouched Pillar is made of melee mobs. Plan out your pulls, and be sure to stay a safe distance from the "boss" mobs. They're not elite, but they have some nifty ablities that can throw off your pull by a lot. As you work your way through the encampment in a circuit, you'll hit respawns again. As a tailor, I get about 3 or 4 stacks of Frostweave in 10 minutes of AoE'ing here. Great experience as well.

77-80
Skeletal Runesmiths, Icecrown

MEGAJACKPOT! Once you hit 77, you can start "attempting" to grind on these guys. All the mobs in the area are level 80, so you will need quite a bit of hit rating to ensure that Frost Nova never misses on a single person if you're only 77. There are two elongated, slightly elevated platforms with mobs on each side of them. If you do a circle around one of them, you'll grab mobs from three of the four sides. If you're feeling adventurous, you can pull all four sides. With the large amount of mobs aggroed, your ice barrier will break early for sure, so remember to refresh it in the middle of the pull, and to give some time for your cooldown to go down somewhat before you start the pull. Ice Blocking before casting Nova is an asset, and highly advised for such a large number of mobs to pull.

The best part? The respawn timer here is ridiculously low. Once you finish the pull, loot, and run off to the side to drink, they will instantly respawn by the time you're ready to start another pull.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Level 74!

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I've made about 200g selling ports to Dalaran (EDIT: 310 now, but newer figures are periodically updated on the blog banner) No lies. It helps to be one of the first mages to hit 74 on US Arygos. There are about 2 or 3 ahead of me, but I don't mind staying back to make some nice coin. The inner goblin tells me to go for the gold, not the glory!

Tomorrow or sometime this weekend, I'll be putting up some Northrend AoE guides as well as Frost boss strats for the first few dungeons that I've done so far.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

C'MON!!!

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/e taps his foot impatiently.

Future Shop is the Best Electronics Store Ever!

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Made my way down to the midnight release in one of the future shops in Mississauga, Ontario. I forged some comraderies with a bunch of people who shared the same passion for the game. We shared war stories, glory days, and our secret love for Frost Mages. Seriously, the two people in front of me and the two people behind me, THREE of them have Frost mages. TWO of them are mained.

Oh. And Because Future Shop is the coolest place ever, we get an extra bonus to our Collector's Edition:



Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be reading my artbook while I wait for the installation process to finish. You can bet your sweet canadian dollar that I'll still be wearing this helm well into Naxx-10!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

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Akin to Veteran's day in the US (who celebrate the end of the war on the Sunday), Canadians (and Australians) everywhere pay their respects today to those who fought in the first World War. In a symbollic sense, veterans of the wars that proceeded WWI are also honored. Let me take today's post to reflect on what their sacrifices have meant. Without them, we may not have had the freedom to do the simple things that we may take for granted today. For example, blogging in itself may have been outlawed if our freedom of speech was taken away.

Praise Elune for their efforts. May the light bless those who live peacefully now, and those who rest in peace. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

5 Ways to Occupy Yourself Before Wrath, Frost Style

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Thursday, right? Is that when it comes out? It's practically sitting behind me in class, teasing me and making me cry, bringing back horrid childhood memories of preschool, kindergarten and the like. And I will be the first to admit that NaNo has minimized the pre-wrath jitters and anxiety. But they're still there, so what I have now is both NaNo and Wrath Anxiety. (On a side note, I'm still writing for the Scarlet Dawn, but it just so happens that these extras are out of sequence, and I don't want to post them in that manner. Not yet, at least.)

So to deal with the compounded nature of both "deadlines," I'm compiling a tiny list to remind myself of my wrath specific goals, while at the same time find time to chunk up a few thousand words a day to catch up with the pace. Oh, I'm unemployed right now, but that's a post waiting for another day. So here you go, Cryomaniacs, have some fun.

1. Solo Dungeons

Even if it means certain death. Start small, but work your way up to bigger things. I'm talking dungeons and elites. Go to deadmines and the stockades, pull the entire room, and kill them without casting a single spell other than Molten Armor. When you're done that, stealth your way to each boss in Scarlet Monastery with proper uses of blink through patrols.

And when you're done that, solo the stairs event in Zul'Farrak. Free the Prisoners, and Slow Fall all the way down to the bottom steps and proceed to Blizzard everything in your way.

Heck, Solo Stratholme if you think you're adequately geared. Some timely Blinks and stealthy sneaking through mobs can potentially earn you your very own mount. Spicytuna has a great guide for that sort of thing. If you get the mount, go visit his site and thank him! Or rub it in, whatever, just tell him I sent ya there!

There's probably some old-world dungeon achievements that you've yet to complete. Might as well do them yourself, rather than helplessly look for others.

2. Solo Elites

Same thing as dungeons, except with elite mobs that roam around Azeroth and perhaps Outland. Go to WoWhead. Look up every single elite mob that exists, and see if it can be chilled or snared. General rule of thumb. If they can do either or both, they are killable by a Frost Mage. Start with hogger, then work your way up to those Scourge Shadow of Doom guys. Trust me, I've brought one down to 25% before the other mobs started respawning and killed me.

Simple rules for fighting elites.
- If they can't be chilled, DON'T DO IT.
- Talent yourself to maximize chill effects. Get Frostbite.
- Pop Water Elemental AFTER your first Frost Nova. Get distance, pop the ranged Nova as soon as he breaks free.
- Shatter Combo at EVERY opportunity.
- Save Brain Freeze Procs for when you're on the move.
- Pop cooldowns as soon as you can. Get your Water Elemental Back ASAP.
- NEVER Blink after a Frost Nova. Simply run/strafe away. Use blink while they're chilled for essentially the same effect, and it spreads out your kiting cooldowns (Nova/Blink)
- Plan out a kiting route ahead of time. Don't pull any extra mobs. Be aware of the Elite's maximum kiting distance (before it resets and runs back home)

3. AoE Your Way into Northrend

If you're not yet 70, there's nothing wrong with taking your time before the big expansion comes. Take the road less travelled. Go to Hellfire Peninsula and learn to AoE grind on vultures in the Valley of Bones, or just south of the Temple of Thalmat. When you're a little bit higher in level, go to Netherstorm, and take out some guys at the Junk Heap, just south of Area 52. You get some nice rep turn-in items in the process.

If you're pretty well geared as a 70 as it is, look for some interesting ways to flex your AoE-peen. For starters, on your last Kara run before the expansion, ask your raid to let you solo the non-elite trash pulls. They're grouped up in a circle that perfectly fits the ranged nova perfectly for a reason.

Or do some scourge fighting! Go look for an invasion spot that's uninhabited by players, and AoE a few of them at a time. They're melee for the most part, but they do have a ranged slow attack that deals a lot of damage when they all do it at the same time. With sufficient spellpower and HP, you probably don't have to Nova the second time anyways.

The necrotic runes are so easy to farm with a frost mage, second only to perhaps T6 prot pallies. If you're an enchanter, you can buy epics from the vendor with those runes, and DE them into Void Crystals.

4. Read up on Frost Death Knights

If you're a die-hard cryophile like me, either these guys will become your best friends, or you'll simply roll one when the expansion comes. So do yourself a favor, and go look up information about Frost Knights, and have yourself drool at the promise of some good times playing (with) one.

5. Level a Druid

Apparently, mages have a thing for druid alts, or associating with druids. Heck, even some Druids have a thing for mage alts as well, or are former mage mains themselves. With good reason, too. As a DPS spec, it's only natural that one would try out the different roles. Resto healing is perhaps the most fun thing to do when you get to a certain level. Hell, pewpewing with the chickenform is very gratifying as an alternate style of DPS. I have no qualms against bear tanking either. I've done it a few times, and currently am doing so with leyola as she ferlols her way to 70 before the patch hits. She's 66 right now, and taking up pretty much all of my time.

Okay, fine, it doesn't have to be a druid. But level something, because that's what Frost Mages excell at, and feeling the rush all over again can tide you over before Yarrrthas sticks his nose into our business.

Final Thoughts

It's coming soon. I'm excited, yes, but with all the fun I've been having lately, I wouldn't mind if it didn't come as soon as it is.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Sarlet Dawn - Four

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((The Scarlet Dawn is the title of a derivative piece of fiction set in the WoW universe, written by Krizzlybear for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). As per the word count demands of NaNoWriMo, all spelling and grammar errors, continuity problems, and failures to adhere to canon, are unintentional, and will not be attended to until the end of November. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.))

A black widow spider crawled up a nearby wall. It was a combination of a brick and mortar understructure, panneled by polished oak and red velvet linings filling in the gaps. But that was when it was new. Now it was a mess. The oak was worn and rotted, its holes revealing the understructures. The velvet was soiled, its crimson color hiding the various stains of blood that had spilt onto it over the numerous years.

It crawled up into rafters, overlooking the room below. Large enough to fit a committee of evildoers, but private enough to keep an evil mastermind comfortable in its vacancy. The lair was adequate for the master’s likings, but due to his sheer insanity, he paid no heed to its details and nuances.

Instead, the master nestled back onto his makeshift chair, crafted from panels ripped off the floor, as well as the bones of numerous henchemen who had displeased him over the years. It was a justified action, since any form of ineptitude could have been caused by the slightest form of Scourge taint. Yes, he would think to himself. It was necessary to kill them, otherwise he had risked that his Crusade was tainted by the Scourge, the unrelenting force of undead that threatened the livelihood of the Human race, or, in light of recent events, his Human race.
The black widow receded into a crack in the ceiling. His room was completely shut out from the rest of the cathedral.

"Ah, yes. They should be here by now...if they lived"

Earlier, he had sent a trio of henchmen to the depths of Khaz Modan, where a large contingent of lepper gnomes dwelled. If his creation worked as intended, he would be able to spawn a countless horde of undead, each at the cost of mortal lives and souls. He cackled in anticipation, completely absorbed in his self-accepted lunacy.
He sensed a figure skulking behind the door to his lair.

“Enter!” Said the master.

A frightened man stepped through the doorway, paying no heed to his surroundings, or his master, who sat in the unspeakably horrid chair. He learned from his peers not to look at the master straight into his eyes in order to avoid any chance of angerring him. If he had, the consequences could cost the man his worthless, pathetic life.

“Speak, coward!” The master said. “How goes Gnomeregan?”

Trembling, the man kept focus on the floor close to his feet. Stammering at first, he struggled to force the unfortunate news from his mouth.

“S-S-Sir!”

Sweat began dripping from his forehead, running down his neck into his armor.

“Sir...We did as you asked. We went to Gnomeregan, and was able to use the orb successfully. The lepper turned into a ghoulish monster!”

“Hrmm...” The master looked down at his henchman, aware of his discomfort. He continued studying his state of anxiety.

“You’ve done well.” He finally said. “Where are the other two?”

“D-d-dead, sir. I mean, they’re gone. The monster ran after us after the transformation, and killed the others. They turned into monsters themselves. I managed to escape.”

The master considered what he had heard. If the orb worked as intended, then the afflicted would turn into zombies. They became undead horrors much like those of the Scourge, if not the exact same.

“You’ve done well, dog!” The master rejoiced, laughing maniacally. Whether it was at the man, or at the success of his plan, or due to plain hysteria, niether of the two knew. “I can carry out the next phase of my plan. Leave, or else I will use you as a test subject!”

The henchman gave no remark of acknowledgement or gratitude. He disappeared as quickly as he could, avoiding his demise in case the master had changed his mind.
Yes, the master thought, slouching further into his chair of human remains. The orb worked, but perhaps too well. If he wanted to create his own army equal to the scourge, he would have to make sure that those who had used the orb survived themselves. It was a conundrum that puzzled him for a moment, but he conceded that there was no way to preserve the numbers of his troops, unless somehow they were immune to the effects of transformation.

The ones who used the orbs were those would need to be undead in the first place.

Arriving at this conclusion, the master stood up from his chair, skulking towards a bookshelf that took up an entire wall of the room. Sliding his fingers against the numerous spines of texts that were neatly arranged in front of him, he stopped at a spot of interest, reading the label as he tilted his head sideways.

THE DEATH KNIGHTS OF ACHERUS

He removed the book from the shelf, and opened the cover. Scanning through its contents, he let out a sigh of disapproval.

“My plans will need to be modified,” The master said. “If they are to succeed.”

((Running word count: 6001))

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Scarlet Dawn - Three

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((The Scarlet Dawn is the title of a derivative piece of fiction set in the WoW universe, written by Krizzlybear for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). As per the word count demands of NaNoWriMo, all spelling and grammar errors, continuity problems, and failures to adhere to canon, are unintentional, and will not be attended to until the end of November. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.))

In the depths of a wooded area to the east of Auberdine, the Night Elven port village, a meager squirrel scampered its way up and down an oaken tree. One by one, nuts were carried up to an enclosed area towards the top of the tree's trunk. Mindlessly going along with its instincts as the world's winter drew ominously near, the squirrel continued obliviously until it had met its fate.

Midway through the seventeenth trip, the tiny critter was interrupted by a fatal swipe of a rabid bear's claw. In nature, this particular grizzly would have minded its own business as it made its own preparations for the colder months. Instead, however, a force unknown to both the predator and its prey had caused this sudden change in behaviour.

The grizzly intently stared down at its dead victim, instinctively proud of its catch, yet at the same time clouded by its sudden burst of primal rage. Soon, that rush of aggression had returned, and the bear thirsted for more violence.

Then it fell asleep.

As if under some sort of spell, a spiritual force beckoned to the animal's most basic nurturing instinct, pleading with it to regain a hold of its natural role in the forest.

No, it had said. Never will you do that.

The voice had spoken with a somber tone, and ragged the bear's brain with a calming aura. It drifted off into nothingness and ceased to be a physical threat to any living being within its vicinity.

Meanwhile, the druid who had cast the spell wiped the sweat off her brow as she took out a tiny dart from a pocket of her simple brown tunic. Confident that she had successfully subdued the bear, she neatly stuck the dart into the hide of the hibernating animal. She tensed herself in anticipation of the bear possibly emerging from sleep in primal rage, but the effects of the dart had done its job.

The druid closed her eyes, and sensed the serenity of the bear's spirit, as if it were freed from an unseen evil grasp. She accepted its thanks, and quickly disappeared from the spiritual realm that she had entered.

Minutes later, the druid appeared once again amidst the other inhabitants of Auberdine. She sneaked up to another Night elf, and handed to him several darts that were left unused during her chore.

"Your service is deeply appreciated, Leyola."

She nodded. Leyola Swiftwillow was a helpful druid, well-known to the working people of Auberdine. Even without her valued service, her pale, purple-grey skin and mysterious visage highlighted by long, wavy silver hair stood out amongst her kin. She was very tall for a Night Elf, yet her curves were apparent from her fitted tunic and thin, jet black cloak. She was an intriguing sight, and that alone may have had merit free passage from Auberdine to her home in Darnassus, a mere boat ride away.

But these were troubling times in Kalimdor, the Western island continent of the world of Azeroth. Auberdine, a town developed on the northwest coast of the continent, was no exception. Leyola was summoned to the presence of her druid teacher during the middle of an independent training exercise aimed at strengthening her mental and spiritual focus towards her own abilities.

She had meditated for hours, but a voice of concern from her master had undone all of her work, but justifiably so. If she was interrupted in such a way, it was probably due to a very troubling situation. Because of this, she was anxious to return to her home. But despite this, she did not anticipate having to pay a boat fare to get back to the Night Elven capital.

"As a servant of Elune," Leyola Swiftwillow jested in a manner that did not suggest a strong allegiance to the moon goddess, "I had figured you to grant me passage so that I could hastily fulfill my duties."

"I apologize miss Leyola," the patron said, "but I didn't know who to turn to at the time. Perhaps you can report the situation in the forest to your shan'do."

"Fair enough."

She had observed the obscurity of the behaviour of the local fauna, and attributed their radical changes to some external agent that threatened the natural balance within the woods surrounding Auberdine. Leyola acknowledged the Night Elf's plea, having sensed the disturbance, and was determined to bring up the topic with her teacher when she had the chance.

A boat pulled up to the docks closeby, large enough only to carry a few passengers and a limited amount of cargo. The architecture and build of the boat was clearly of Night Elf origin, which indicated that the female druid would be able to take her leave. With a wave farewell, she inwardly worried for the man, hoping that the Mother Moon would protect him and his town of Auberdine during this trying time.

She boarded the vessel, tightening the wrap of her cloak around her slender body.

The boat disappeared into the mists, the evening fog surrounding Leyola as she leaned unassumingly onto the portside rails. She contemplated her future amongst the Night Elves. One part of her considered that her success as a member of the Cenarion Circle was undeserved; as a child of two veterans of the Third War, their clout amongst the Cenarion Enclave was apparent, and Leyola's favor amongst her instructors was apparent. Regardless, she worked hard to become as skilled as she was, and she had vowed to put forth an effort in her work, despite what others thought.

She kept abosrbing herself into her thoughts as the boat was into the mist. Several hours passed before she arrived in Darnassus.

Darnassus was a bustling city, and the Night Elven Capital. It resided miles above the sea, nestled in the boughs of Teldrassil, the last World Tree of Azeroth. Above the clouds, the city comfortably nested its inhabitants, who scuffled about their business in the same manner they had done for as long as it had existed. Amongst its citizens, an uneasy social tnsion could be felt between both the Druids and priests and priestesses of Elune, the moon goddess worshipped by the Night Elves themselves.

The boat finished its trip, its captain tying the vessel to a rickety dock, several yards away from solid ground. Leyola, not one to take chances on the structural integrity of the makeshift port, hurried her way onto dry land. Once she had done so, she had finally reached the World Tree, standing on its very roots, thousands upon thousands of feet below the canopy where the capital lay.

She stepped into a chamber near the base of the tree. It radiated with a magical lunar pink energy, perhaps powered by the Moon Goddess Herself. As soon as she had entered, she was instantly in Darnassus. Amongst her was the chatter of passers-by, and immediately she sought the tranquility of the more rustic scenery of the Cenarion Enclave.

The Cenarion Enclave was an open, grassy sector in Darnassus that catered to all Night Elf Druids. Compared to its neighbouring district, the more commercial Craftsman Terrace, its structures were carved into the trees themselves, rather than made of its material as the numerous shops and inns were in the terraced sector. Here, the druids lived in harmony with the flora, which were merely extensions of the world tree itself.

The tallest and most grandoise tree in the Enclave housed the Archdruid Fangren Staghelm, leader of the Druids. It also served as the training center for up and coming Druids. A recent alumnus of the program, Leyola no longer visited the training center, and preferred to have her meetings with her mentor out in the open, amongst the trees themselves, rather than within.

She arrived at a spot to her liking, and sat down with crossed legs. Closing her eyes, she opened her soul to the nature around her. Her breathing settling into a slow rhythm, she emptied her mind, and a spiritual aspect of her seperate from her body. The world around her new form faded out of color into a dim, faded monochrome. She was now floating above and amongst the the clouds. She felt that she was still in Darnassus, but somehow she had returned to a time before the World Tree itself, before the separation of the contents.

The Emerald Dream. The refuge of druid meditation. She had finally perfected control over herself as she soared through it, thanks to the teachings of her teacher, who she now knew was observing her physical form.

"My child, you have come a long way."

A deep voice swirled through her from without, as if spoken from the wind as it blew through the foliage of Teldrassil itself. Having found him, she prompted herself to return to her earthly self.

Her eyes opened, revealing pupiless, silver orbits, characteristic of her race. In front of her was the form of her mentor. "My shan'do. What is it that you called me for?"

Leyola's Shan'do, or beloved teacher, Valfare Stormsong was a master of the restorative druidic arts. With great authority, he wielded the power to heal and nourish those that suffered. He channeled the power of the trees with such command, to the extent that he took the form of a tree himself. A treant, his body features mimicked that of the forests themselves. His legs curled around themselves as roots, but was capable of walking like any elf. His arms stretched out sideways and in front of himself like branches. His skin was literally bark, hardened to protect him against the harshest environments, and wrinkled around his face, making him look older and wiser than his years.

"My child, I apologize for calling you here on short notice."

Leyola stood up slowly and respectfully. "Shan'do, there is something wrong with the balance of nature?"

Valfare sighed, the features on his stonelike face drooping with slight subtlety.

"It is as you fear, dear Leyola. A dark force threatens to not only encroach on the balance of nature, but the laws of life and death itself!"

Life and death itself, the thought sent a haunting chill down Leyola's lengthy spine. Whether or this unseen evil was related to Auberdine and the rabid bears, she did not know. She never even bothered questioned Valfare about Auberdine, considering that this threat was of greater concern.

"What can I..." She lost herself mid-sentence. "...How can I be of any use? I'm just a novice!"

Leyola bowed her head apologetically, as if she had failed her master in some way.

Valfare let out a deep chuckle, one that ruffled the leaves on his own branches. He turned at the waist, looking around for something or someone.

"Novice? You don't think highly enough of yourself, my child. Your reputation reaches further than you would expect!"

Leyola's face darkened, akin to a blush. She was quite aware that she drew attention to herself unwillingly wherever she went. Partly she thought it was due to her uncommon appearance by Night Elf standards. In another way, she remembered that her parents were war veterans, and that the Swiftwillow household had a nobility due to their contribution to the third War, and their efforts at the Battle of Mount Hyjal.

In fact, she had begun to notice that her surname took on synonymity with Hyjal itself, according to talks between her former druid peers and instructors.

She shrugged. "I suppose just a bit. But I still want to earn my praise, teacher."

Her shan'do smiled. "Yes. It is as you say, Leyola. Your parents were fine warriors."

He shared his reminiscence with his student. Having fought with her parents at Hyjal, he knew the elder Swiftwillows as if they were siblings. He even took pride in bringing the two together romantically. Returning the favor, his closest friends entrusted their only daughter to his care, hoping that he could help her walk the path of the Cenarion circle.

Leyola smiled regretfully whenever her teacher told her that story. She missed them dearly, and hoped that they would return from their duties in Outland, the dreaded place beyond the Dark Portal of Azeroth.

She shook off her sudden wave of emotion, replacing her saddened face with a stern look at Valfare. "I am at your service."

Valfare shot a look of disappointment.

"I'm sorry, Leyola. There's not enough time for me to teach you. You've learned a great deal from me, I can only hope that your skills would be of best use against this looming darkness. I suppose that you know about the Argent Dawn?"

Leyola curled an eyebrow in slight misunderstanding. "Yes...I suppose I have."

The tree sighed with relief. "Great. Go to them. They'll be waiting for you in front of the Temple of the Moon."

Leyola acknowledged his request and began to make her leave. She barely took two steps before she was grabbed by a branch. Instantly, she was caught in a warm embrace.

"Take care, my child." He smiled. "You were taught by one of the best healing druids in the Cenarion Circle. You will do well."

Leyola smiled, her skin darker once more. "Thank you."

She proudly walked away, heading in the direction of the temple, a short distance south of the Enclave.

Mother Moon, watch over my student. Valfare prayed to himself. She just might have what it takes to become the Tree of Life.

((Running word coun: 5162))