Sunday, 28 November 2010

I'm going to punch that dragon in the face! New quests after the Shattering.

It's been an interesting week! The Shattering has come at last and I must say, I've been really impressed with the results. I've been checking out some of the revamped zones, both on alts and on my main, and the new quests are really impressive (not to mention the landscape changes!).

The levelling experience has been improved dramatically. Certainly it seems to have sped up a lot (that or you really do just get caught up so don't notice the time going by!). Each zone feels much more coordinated now - story and quest lines all flow together, leading you logically from one area to the next. There are still some little quests around which you can either skip or come back to later, but the majority seem to be interconnected, often starting with one or two quests to introduce you to the zone which develop into a whole host of additional quests.

For those who will be working on Loremaster in this expansion, the new zone objectives will make it a lot easier, and it's also very easy (and fun) to get all the quests in each zone to get them. Many friends and myself checking out the new zones on alts found it very easy to get the achievements by simply following all the quest lines, completing the zone and moving on to the next.

The quests themselves are a ton of fun. There's a mix of old and new quests as far as I've seen - most all have been revamped in some way, but there are still ones that are unchanged (the two children in Redridge are still losing their necklace in the Lake, for example). The quests are really interesting and fun, and though there are still the 'kill x amount of creatures' and 'collect y amount of items', they're mixed in with a lot of unique tasks and mechanics and just all around fun. I highly recommend reading the quest text! You're definitely missing out if you don't.

I haven't had a chance yet to check out all the zones (some guildies I know have been working quite quickly through all the Loremaster achievements), but I've really enjoyed the ones I've seen so far, and thought I'd share some (...many) screenshots of some of the highlights so far!

Spoiler alert: The screenshots and text below may contain some spoilers if you haven't yet done the zones. I'll try not to give away too much, but just in case, read on with caution!

More treants!
I'll start with Darkshore, as that is where I went to first. I was particularly keen to find Withers, who is a new quest reward (I believe he's also available via an NPC purchase for horde). At first I was a bit disappointed that the quest wasn't available right away, but I'm now very glad it wasn't, as it gave me a chance to do all the Darkshore quests. It was incredibly fun and felt like a great place to start on my druid, who likely would have been home in Teldrassil following the long adventure in Northrend and would of course go to help his fellow Night Elves following the devastation to Auberdine and Darkshore.
Surveying the ruins of Auberdine.
The opening quests have you helping the survivors and plunge you straight into the aftermath of the Cataclysm. You begin closer to Lor'danel, the new base, and gradually expand outward into the zone. Eventually you'll be sent all the way down to Auberdine. The devastation to the town is quite staggering and many of the quests are tinged with the tragedy that has befallen the Night Elves and other inhabitants of Darkshore. I think the saddest thing I picked up was this: Broken Timepiece. It's earned a permanent spot in my bags as a memory to those lost. There are some very sad quests especially in Auberdine, and those familiar with the zone may recognise some of the NPCs lost in the wreckage. It's not all sad, though, and there are plenty of funny moments as well (in particular a rather senile Dwarf).

I was very excited to find Shan'do Stormrage in Darkshore, who had not yet travelled to Mount Hyjal. There are some fun quests as you travel around gathering help for him to repair the land.

A very sad Moonkin.
Assistance from the Green Dragonflight.
Protecting Darkshore from trolls.
If the new Tree of Life form looked like this, I might not have glyphed Treant form.
Finally I returned to Lor'danel and got little Withers.
I really enjoyed questing around Darkshore. The new quest lines really get you wrapped up and involved in the stories. It takes a little bit longer when reading all the quest texts but it's definitely worth it (and for those levelling, XP rewards are really quite good, so it shouldn't slow down your actual levelling too much). There are a lot of new mechanics too, of vehicles and disguises and tasks (don't assume you need to just kill mobs, some require that you don't kill things!), but they're all done very well so they're fun rather than annoying.

After Darkshore I made a quick swing by Alterac Mountains to check out one of the other new pets, the Singing Sunflower. There's also Mr Grubbs from the Eastern Plaguelands, who's not as long a grind as I had first thought (I found him quite quickly). The Sunflower is from the Plants vs Zombies game and quests, which was quite a lot of fun. I'd never played PvZ before so it was an interesting experience!

I then went to the Badlands. There were a ton of great quests here, including a nice long chain involving dragons and some fun little riddles and games. By far though the best quests were the three 'The Day that Deathwing Came' quests. They take place just by Dragon's Mouth at the Scar of the Worldbreaker.

As you can tell just from those screenshots, this is an amazing quest! One of the best quests I've done. I won't include the screenshots from all three of the quests here, as they're definitely best as a surprise, but if there's any quests you make sure to do, these three are it. The only thing I'd change is to implement an option for you to go back and speak to the NPCs and ask to see their stories again, so that you could repeat the little quests over and over (without any XP gain though). I'll be going back on all my alts! I'll include this last shot as the red sky just looks amazing behind Deathwing.

That is really just the smallest sample of some of the amazing new quests out there, and even just those two zones there are a ton of great quests. I've gone through all of Westfall and Redridge now as well, and Alliance (and even Horde who wouldn't mind levelling up a toon 1-20 Alliance-side) should definitely check these zones out.
Playing in the tornadoes in Westfall.
Epic battles in Redridge.
I was also lucky (or unlucky) enough to get the following:

Unfortunately I don't have a good screenshot of that as it was incredibly unexpected! I was running through the Burning Steppes to Blackrock Mountain, so the sky was already quite red, and had just noticed something large in the sky in the distance and was thinking 'What is that?' when BAM. Dead druid.

I'm looking forward to checking out all the other zones and working on Loremaster. I'm very glad I didn't bother trying to complete it before 4.0, as going through all the new zones is going to be great. I'm also looking forward to levelling a new toon, though I think I'll be waiting for Cata to land so I can roll a Worgen warrior. I just might even level another druid at some point (troll perhaps?) but we'll see!

Also, for those who don't play with the in-game music on, I definitely suggest turning it on! The new music is really great and definitely adds to the atmosphere in the zones.

I'll leave this here for now. Just over a week now until Cataclysm arrives! I can't believe it's almost December already. I'm working on getting the guides updated so they'll be ready for the launch and the push to 85. I imagine they'll be getting many little updates over the initial weeks and months of Cataclysm as well, as I'm sure Blizz will be making adjustments and changes as everything goes live and much more data than they had on Beta starts to flood in.

Happy questing!

Scar of the WorldBreaker.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I survived the Shattering! Quick update post-4.0.3a

Thought I'd do a quick post with some updates from the 4.0.3a patch.

- I finally found out how to train Glyph of the Treant - it can be learned through a Minor Inscription Research discovery. Rather less convenient than learning it from a trainer, especially now when very few will know it (and with the long cooldown on the Research), so Auction House gouging will likely take place over this week. It only requires 3 Jadefire Ink and a Common Parchment, though, so cheapest would likely be to find someone who's learned it and see if they'll make it for mats+tip.

Nitro Boosts are now a belt tinker (rather than a boot tinker), so be sure to update your items. As far as I know this is an intended change (I'd seen a post asking if it was or was not). They will overwrite the Frag Belt and other belt tinkers. The Nitro Boosts seem to be bugged, though, and are malfunctioning much more frequently than they used to, including in raids. A large portion of our raiders are engineers and all last night they were exploding in every fight. I had a rather nice one during HMLK, at least I had my parachute at the ready.

- Meta gem requirements for some gems were changed to 'require more blue gems than red gems', however, Blizzard has already said they will be reverting the gems to their original requirements. This cannot be hotfixed, though, so will be addressed in an upcoming patch. (source)

- There are some new quests which reward pets, one is the Plants vs Zombies quest which rewards a flower. Another is the Remembrance of Auberdine quest which rewards a withered treant named Withers. I'll be setting to work on that one, appears as though you need to do most of the zone to open up the quest though! There's some info on WoWhead on how to get to the quest - check out the comments for the quests you need to complete to open it. Here. Should be a nice way to see the new Darkshore though. The opening quest regarding the destroyed Auberdine is quite sad as you search for survivors. ETA: Been working on the quests in the zone, and am very glad I did! The new quests are brilliant, loving Darkshore. Think this will swing it for me in which race to level a mage, nelf! Looking forward to checking out all the new zones... may give a go at Loremaster.

- The change in Rejuvenation mana cost does seem noticeable following a night's raiding, my mana bar was actually moving all tonight! Cata has landed officially. Though I do wonder whether a little bit may be due to me opting for Purified Lunar Dust over my Solace of the Defeated, as I believe Solace still returns better mana (I switched for the spellpower gain), however it was too large a difference from last week to be solely a trinket swap. You have been warned!

- I was very happy healing Valithria Dreamwalker last night now that the revamped Empowered Touch was on live. Throw on a Rejuv, Swiftmend her for Efflorescence, 3 stacks of LB and Healing Touch away! No longer wasting GCDs refreshing the stack after each cast, it was great. Some nice throughput doing that throughout the fight, though I'm undecided just when and how to use Tree of Life best on that fight. It would seem saving ToL for the end with max stacks is best for the additional healing boost. The instant-Regrowths seem like they edge out Healing Touch at that point, as you're getting two Regrowths out in about the same time as one Healing Touch cast (assuming 2 GCD's ~ 2 seconds for 2 instant Regrowths, vs ~2-second cast time HT), which tends to end up about being the same amount of healing done in that time frame. Nature's Bounty may be what pushes it, as the increased critical effect, especially then with the bonus to heals from portal stacks + ToL increased healing really adds up. I'd be interested in hearing what some other's strategies are. Though I suppose it doesn't matter too much at this point! Still, interesting.

- I was disappointed to find that my Mimiron's Head mount seems to be bugged, he makes noise when he's sat on the ground idling, but when I try flying forwards or strafing he goes silent. The little chopper-y noises the mount makes is one of my favourite things about it so I'm hoping that gets fixed soon!

- For those who don't know, there is now an Auction House and Bank in the Dwarven District of Stormwind (so you can avoid the more congested area in the Trade District). There's also an Auction House by the Justice Point vendors in Dalaran.

That's all for now! Enjoy the new zones and do some exploring! There are lots of new flypoints and tons of new quests to do. The new class/race combos are up too, along with the new starting zones for gnomes and trolls.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Shattering! 4.0.3a lands tomorrow

MMO-Champ is reporting that patch 4.0.3a is landing on live servers this week! We're only two weeks away from Cataclysm's launch (where did the time go??), and this patch will bring about all the landscape, zone and quest changes as well as new class/race combinations (though Worgen and Goblin characters are only available with Cataclysm). There will also no longer be portals in Dalaran or Shattrath, so I suggest resetting your hearthstones to places like Stormwind/Orgrimmar or else placing your toons at places with convenient transport to major cities (Valiance Keep and Warsong Hold in Borean Tundra are decent ideas, with transport direct to SW/Org).

For those in Stormwind, there will be a new auction house and bank in the Dwarven District (along with additional innkeepers), so you don't have to be stuck in the busy Trade District if you don't want to. I think there are similar changes in Orgrimmar, but I don't know the specific details.

There are a lot of Druid changes in this patch, which is basically just bringing us in line with Beta and ultimately Cataclysm.

  • Bear Form now provides 10% bonus health, down from 20%.
  • Nourish no longer consumes Omen of Clarity.
  • Rejuvenation has had its mana cost increased by 30%.
  • Soothe now has a 1.5-second cast time.
  • Swipe (Cat Form) can now be used even if the druid does not have a primary target selected.
  • Thorns: beginner tooltip revised to no longer imply the spell could be kept up at all times. In addition, Thorns damage has been reduced by 60%.
  • Brutal Impact now increases the mana cost of spells on the victim by 5/10% for 10 seconds, down from 15/30%.
  • Leader of the Pack now heals for 4%, down from 8%.
  • Survival Instincts now provides 50% damage reduction, down from 60%, and its cooldown has been lowered from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
  • Swipe (Bear Form) damage has been reduced by 20%.
  • Vengeance is no longer cleared on exiting Bear Form, and instead is cleared upon entering Cat Form.
  • Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
  • Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
  • Malfurion's Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
  • Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
  • Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid's total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
  • Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
  • Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.
  • Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature's Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
  • Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look... if they must. Must they?
Bug Fixes
  • Blood in the Water now refreshes Rip to the correct value.
  • Flight Form now properly appears in the trainer window before Expert Riding is learned.

A lot of changes in there. Some nerfs in there, but overall it's nothing too massive. You'll likely feel a bit of a hit at level 80, but at 85 things balance back out again. Not mentioned in there is also the change to Efflorescence, where it now has a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once. There's been some debate over just how this is working now (if it's healing 6 for full and less for the additional people in, if it's healing only 6, if it's healing everyone stood in for less... etc) and, as far as I'm aware, no official confirmation/clarification yet on it (someone let me know please if you've seen something). I'd like to state, though, this is NOT restricted to Druids - ALL healing classes are having their AE spells reduced in exactly the same way. Shammy Healing Rain, Priest Holy Word: Sanctuary, and Holy Radiance all have the same changes. So don't panic!

There are some nice changes for the Resto talent tree with this patch which finally bring us in line with Beta. Empowered Touch now allows both Nourish and Healing Touch to refresh Lifebloom stacks, which is an excellent change. Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, which is nice as it frees up a talent point to put elsewhere and, in a similar vein, Swift Rejuvenation is now only a 1-point talent. Another very nice change is Malfurion's Gift no longer requires Fury of Stormrage, so if you either cannot afford the points or simply don't wish to spec it, you can still pick up Malfurion's Gift.

With those changes in mind, I suggest picking up the following spec at level 80, which should carry you nicely into levelling from 80-85 in Cata 2/0/34.
Largely this is picking up Malfurion's Gift, though if you don't feel you need the extra Omen of Clarity proc chance at 80, you can opt to put one or no points into this talent. I opted for Malfurion's Gift over Blessing of the Grove for both 80 and eventual 85 spec. OoC with Regrowths (especially when in ToL form using instant-regrowths and being able to cast Lifeblooms on multiple targets) will be extremely helpful for mana management both now and especially at 85. Though, you can move points into there if you like, especially at 80 where Rejuv-spamming is still doable with little mana consequence. If you're having mana problems or simply want a larger mana pool you can still move some points over into Furor as well.

ETA: I've updated my Resto guide to include the above 4.0.3a changes: Resto Guide.

The Feral tree is largely unchanged. For kitty I suggest sticking with the 0/33/3 spec, as this picks up the max DPS talents as well as some nice survivability talents.
This can be a nice spec to begin the levelling process at 80 as well, as picking up Thick Hide will make you uncrittable. Brutal Impact is a very useful talent but will likely be less useful while levelling, and you can easily pop two points in there as you hit 81 and 82. The point in Survival Instincts could be moved around as well, I personally like it for emergencies, especially if I ended up pulling too many mobs.

It also looks like the new Tree of Life model will be coming with 4.0.3a (much to my dismay), but the Glyph of the Treant should be available if you want to keep your old Tree-form. I'll be hunting down an Inscriptionist to get that made! I'm hoping it's just trainable at the Inscriptionist trainers.

Otherwise, enjoy the last moments of the old world! Grab any last screenshots, head through any last ZG runs (no raptor for me!), take a stroll through the Park in Stormwind one last time, and so forth!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Beta Raid Testing - Chimaeron (Blackwing Descent)

Cataclysm is less than three weeks away! Time is really flying by. I've been quite busy this week so I've fallen behind a bit on getting some posts up. There's still a couple more bosses I've yet to cover in Blackwing Descent, though, so I thought I'd get a post up on one more of them. The deceptively simple but very hard-hitting Chimaeron.


The Chimaeron encounter isn't too difficult conceptually, but the fight itself can be quite rough and will likely be a harsh gear-check for raids.

Essentially the fight is a tank-and-spank, with one key mechanic - the Bile-o-Tron. When you walk into the room, Chimaeron will be asleep in the centre. Behind him is a gnome in a cage, Finkle, who you must speak with before engaging Chimaeron. He activates the Bile-o-Tron which spews forth Finkle's Mixture - this mixture will buff all raiders so that anyone above 10,000 health cannot have their health reduced below 1. As long as the Bile-o-Tron is active (and this is key), if raid members are above 10,000 health, they won't die from Chimaeron's other two key abilities. Let's touch on his abilities now (source).

Caustic Slime: Deals 280,000 Nature damage and briefly reduces the chance to hit for all enemies in an area. Damage is split between all enemies within 6 yards of the impact crater.
Massacre: Inflicts maximum damage to all enemy players.
Feud: Chimaeron's heads are fighting amongst themselves, and so Chimaeron cannot perform melee attacks.
Double Attack: Chimaeron will strike twice on his next attack.
Break: Chimaeron breaks through his target's defenses, increasing physical damage taken by 25% for one minute. This ability stacks.

In phase 2 (which begins once Chimaeron reaches 20% health), Chimaeron keeps his Double Attack and also Mortality: Chimaeron goes into a rage, becoming immune to Taunt effects, increasing his damage taken by 20%, and reducing healing effects for all enemies by 99%.

Basically, you enter into the room, and do NOT attack Chimaeron. If anyone strikes him, he'll instantly engage (and if anyone but a tank strikes him, they'll probably be one-shot). You must talk with Finkle to get the Bile-o-Tron active. After that, you can either wait for Chimaeron to wake up (he will eventually once the machine's come online) or have your tanks start up the fight by engaging him. There is a stacking debuff placed on the tanks (Break), so you'll likely need two to taunt off each other. The tanks will be taking big hits (particularly the Double Attack, which will likely be helpful for the tanks to call it out when it's coming to help the healers). The tanks must warn before doing their tank swaps so the healers are ready.

The rest of the raid should be spread around the room. There are basically two parts to the fight in the first phase - when the Bile-o-Tron is Active and when it is Inactive. When the Bile-o-Tron is active, the raid will be buffed by Finkle's Mixture, and the raid need only be kept above 10,000 health each. Do not fall into the trap of trying to top everyone off - there's no need to do so and you'll only be wasting mana. Raiders should be prepared to use healthstones or health pots if needed. Caustic Slime and Massacre will not kill anyone above 10,000 health while the Bile-o-Tron is active.

The tricky moments will come when the Bile-o-Tron goes offline. The entire raid should collapse and stack up on melee (excluding the tanks) and healed up to full - all the new AE healing spells are wonderful here, throwing on Healing Rains, Efflorescences, Holy Word: Sanctuary, etc. On normal mode, Feud will temporarily stop Chimaeron's melee attacks on the tanks during this time, so healing on them should be easier to manage as you top up the raid. Stacking up will spread the Caustic Slime damage (which will still be cast during Feud) amongst the entire raid, so as long as everyone is stacked and getting those heals, no one should die during this phase. The moment the Bile-o-Tron comes back online, the raid should spread back out so new Caustic Slimes don't splash.

Phase 2, which begins when Chimaeron hits 20% health, turns into something of a burn phase. Chimaeron will take 20% more damage, however he is immune to taunt at this stage and your tanks may likely end up dying to him at some point during this stage (he hits hard). He does move fairly slowly, though, so if you've reached this stage and a tank goes down, it's not an instant-wipe - if necessary, kite him while continuing to DPS. The Mortality debuff also reduces all healing received by raid members by 99%. Watching his health percentage will be extremely helpful in order to try to maximise people's remaining health before he transitions into phase 2. While healing won't be useless in phase 2, it will be drastically reduced, and this may be a time for some healers to assist in DPSing along with healing.

Again, the fight is fairly simple in its overall strategy and execution. The big hits on the tanks and dealing effectively with the damage from Caustic Slime and Massacre will be the most challenging aspects to the fight (as well as, as ever, laying in decent DPS). It's crucial healers resist the urge to try to top up everyone in the raid while the Bile-o-Tron is on-line. It's unnecessary and will waste mana. As long as everyone remains above 10,000 health in those phases, they should be fine. (There have been some bugs on beta where players above 10,000 health have been killed, but, it is a bug).

Overall, most will likely find this a challenging fight. The general simplicity of it may be nice after many more complex fights involving target switches or de/buff watching. DPS should certainly be doing what they can to help keep themselves alive, though (or at least above the 10,000 health) and healers should be concerned with keeping the raid above that point but no more while the Bile-o-Tron is active. Topping the healing meters in this fight will mean nothing if you're out of mana within a minute.

Have fun!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Cataclysm Faction Rep Guide for Resto and Feral Druids

By the way - Druid Tier 11 looks amazing on Beta.

There are plenty of new factions in Cataclysm, all with useful items for Resto and Feral druids available from their quartermasters with rep. I still need to go through more of the items from dungeons and heroics to see the full extent of items available and start building early BiS lists, however, this should give you a good idea of what's available through rep and which reps you'll need to work on as you level up. I'm also including the faction items available before level 85, as you will likely find them useful while leveling and first encountering heroics while you work on getting more upgrades. All factions have tabards which will raise your reputation with that faction in Level 85 dungeons.

Firstly, your helm and shoulder enchant reps! Regardless of what gear you have or how you obtain it, you will need these enchants. It appears the helm enchants are still Account-bound, but not the Shoulder enchants.

Helm Enchants
-Arcanum of Hyjal - 60 Intellect / 35 Crit
Requires: Guardians of Hyjal - Revered

-Arcanum of the Ramkahen - 60 Agility / 35 Haste
Requires: Ramkahen - Revered

Shoulder Enchants - Therazane (Deepholm)
All shoulder enchants are available with Therazane rep. You begin hated with Therazane and completion of the full questline in Deepholm should bring you to Honoured with Therazane. Dailies or wearing their Tabard will get you to Exalted.

-Lesser Inscription of Charged Lodestone - 30 Intellect / 20 Haste - Honoured
-Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone - 50 Intellect / 25 Haste - Exalted

-Lesser Inscription of Shattered Crystal - 30 Agility / 20 Mastery - Honoured
-Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal - 50 Agility / 25 Mastery - Exalted

Onto the individual faction items!

I'll organise this as Factions - Spec - Items. For Resto items, I'm listing both items with Spirit and without, as both are viable, though in some cases items with Spirit may be preferred for mana regen. I have not listed any caster items with +hit or damaging spell procs.

Each item is listed as follows:
Name - iLvl - Level Required - Rep Required - Item Slot - Item Stats

Guardians of Hyjal (Mount Hyjal)
-Cloak of the Dryads - 333 - 83 - Honoured - Back - Intellect / Spirit / Mastery
-Thousand Bandage Drape - 325 - 84 - Honoured - Back - Intellect / Spirit / Mastery
-Aessina-Blessed Gloves - 346 - 85 - Revered - Intellect / Haste / Mastery

-Sly Fox Jerkin - 333 - 83 - Honoured - Chest - Agility / Crit / Mastery
-Acorn of the Daughter Tree - 346 - 85 - Revered - Neck - Agility / Crit / Haste
-Nightrend Choker - 333 - 85 - Revered - Neck - Agility / Crit / Haste

Ramkahen (Uldum)
-Ammunae's Blessing - 333 - 83 - Honoured - Finger - Intellect / Spirit / Mastery

-Quicksand Belt - 346 - 85 - Revered - Waist - Agility / Hit / Crit

-Reins of the Brown Riding Camel - Exalted
-Reins of the Tan Riding Camel - Exalted

The Earthen Ring (Vashj'ir)
-Pendant of Elemental Balance - 333 - 83 - Honoured - Neck - Intellect / Spirit / Mastery
-Cloak of Ancient Wisdom - 346 - 85 - Revered - Back - Intellect / Crit / Haste
-Leggings of Clutching Roots - 346 - 85 - Revered - Legs - Intellect / Spirit / Crit

-Softwind Cape - 346 - 85 - Revered - Back - Agility / Hit / Haste
-Signet of the Elder Council - 359 - 85 - Exalted - Finger - Agility / Haste / Mastery

Wildhammer Clan (Twilight Highlands)
-Mantle of Wild Feathers - 333 - 83 - Honoured - Shoulder - Intellect / Spirit / Haste
-Belt of the Untamed - 359 - 85 - Exalted - Waist - Intellect / Spirit / Haste
-Lightning Flash Pendant - 359 - 85 - Exalted - Neck - Intellect / Crit / Mastery

-Swiftflight Leggings - 333 - 83 - Honoured - Legs - Agility / Crit / Haste
-Stormbolt Gloves - 359 - 85 - Exalted - Hands - Agility / Crit / Haste

Baradin's Wardens (Tol Barad)
-Insidious Staff - 346 - 85 - Revered - Staff - Intellect / Haste / Spellpower / Mastery
-Shimmering Morningstar - 346 - 85 - Revered - Main Hand - Intellect / Spirit / Crit / Spellpower
-Mandala of Stirring Patterns - 359 - 85 - Exalted - Trinket - Spirit / Mastery Proc

-Spear of Trailing Shadows - 346 - 85 - Revered - Polearm - Agility / Hit / Haste
-Unsolvable Riddle - 359 - 85 - Exalted - Trinket - Mastery / Agility (use)

-Reins of the Drake of the West Wind - Exalted
-Reins of the Spectral Steed - Exalted

Justice Point Vendors
There are also many items available to purchase with Justice Points. This is why it will be very helpful to cap your Justice Points on your toons before Cataclysm launches (the cap is currently at 4000JP) - you will be able to buy 1-2 pieces of blue 85 (iLvl 346) gear from the Justice Point vendors if you have 4000JP saved. You'll be able to earn more Justice Points at 85 in the heroic dungeons.

-Cluster of Stars - 2200JP - 346 - 85 - Helm - Intellect / Spirit / Haste
-Robes of Forgetfulness - 2200JP - 346 - 85 - Chest - Intellect / Spirit / Haste
-Somber Shawl - 1650JP - 346 - 85 - Shoulder - Intellect / Spirit / Mastery
-Blessed Hands of Elune - 1650JP - 346 - 85 - Hands - Intellect / Spirit / Crit
-Leggings of Late Blooms - 2200JP - 346 - 85 - Legs - Intellect / Haste / Mastery
-Apple-Bent Bough - 950JP - 346 - 85 - Offhand - Intellect / Spirit / Haste
-Celadon Pendant - 1250JP - 346 - 85 - Neck - Intellect / Spirit / Mastery
-Thatch Eave Vines - 1650JP - 346 - 85 - Waist - Intellect / Spirit / Haste

-Mask of Vines - 2200JP - 346 - 85 - Helm - Agility / Crit / Haste
-Tunic of Sinking Envy - 2200JP - 346 - 85 - Chest - Agility / Crit / Hit
-Embrace of the Night - 1650JP - 346 - 85 - Shoulder - Agility / Crit / Hit
-Sticky Fingers - 1650JP - 346 - 85 - Hands - Agility / Haste / Mastery
-Leggings of the Burrowing Mole - 2200JP - 346 - 85 - Legs - Agility / Mastery / Expertise
-Amulet of Dull Dreaming - 1250JP - 346 - 85 - Neck - Agility / Crit / Haste
-Sash of Musing - 1650JP - 346 - 85 - Waist - Agility / Mastery / Expertise

There are also some crafted items which will be available:

-Chestguard of Nature's Fury - 359 - 85 - Chest - Intellect / Crit / Mastery
-Lightning Lash - 359 - 85 - Waist - Intellect / Spirit / Haste

-Assassin's Chestplate - 359 - 85 - Chest - Agility / Hit / Crit
-Belt of Nefarious Whispers - 359 - 85 - Agility / Hit / Mastery
-Razor-Edged Cloak - 346 - 85 - Agility / Crit / Mastery

-Eye of Many Deaths - 346 - 85 - Neck - Intellect / Haste / Mastery
-Ring of Warring Elements - 346 - 85 - Finger - Intellect / Crit / Mastery

-Band of Blades - 346 - 85 - Finger - Agility / Hit / Crit
-Elementium Destroyer's Ring - 346 - 85 - Finger - Agility / Crit / Mastery
-Brazen Elementium Medallion - 346 - 85 - Neck - Agility / Crit / Haste
-Entwined Elementium Choker - 346 - 85 - Neck - Agility / Crit / Haste

That's a pretty big list to be getting on with! There will also be some profession-specific pieces which you may be able to use, for example: Engineering; Agile Bio-Optic KillshadesCamouflage Bio-Optic Killshades. Alchemy; Lifebound Alchemist Stone. Etc!

I'll leave the list at that for now. Hopefully it will give you a better idea of where to look for upgrades and enchants and help you plan your levelling route to get as much rep as you can as you quest and level up.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Video: 2-manning Sapphiron 10!

ETA: Added information from myself and Rexdart about our specs, gear, and strategy on this - all below the video!

In follow up to my post about 2-manning Sapphiron 10 the other week, my friend and I went back in the other night and took him down again! I remembered to video it this time (and actually insisted we wipe it the first time when the recording had a fault and stopped midway through the fight, so I could make sure I had a good video of the whole thing. Repair bills went into this recording!).

It was a ton of fun, and we learned from our kill last week and sped up the kill time by over a minute (though it still took 13 minutes - don't worry, the video has been sped up!). Mostly it was just being a little more strategic in our placement to avoid getting out of range of each other and deciding how we wanted to deal with the blizzards - we decided to just sit and take some of it, as keeping up the healing for it wasn't too demanding and constantly moving was hampering our DPS a bit.

Enjoy the video! (and share it around!) Link to the video here. You can watch it in HD! I'm embedding it at a smaller size just so as not to take up too much space on the blog page.

Also, on the topic of videos, I'd like to give a plug for my friend Bouncydemon's new YouTube page - he does some amazing videos (he made the official video for our Halion HM 25 kill) and will be making more in Cataclysm, so keep an eye on his channel! Bouncydemon's YouTube Channel

ETA: Also now have an official YouTube Channel for the Blog - FeralTree YouTube Channel

We didn't do anything too special for the fight itself - a lot is mostly the joys of overgearing content (and the healthpool boosts from 4.0.1 don't hurt either). We grabbed a food buff for this kill but we didn't have any for our last kill. The only buff used was Gift of the Wild and, apart from Wild's inherent Frost resist, we didn't use any additional Frost resist pieces.

My spec was my standard raiding spec (2/0/34) and my PvE gear (armoury) which is mostly 277 pieces. If you wanted to use a spec specifically for things like this, Fury of Stormrage would probably be a good talent to pick up to boost your DPS a bit more. I didn't find it necessary, but it would definitely be a nice talent to use to get some Starfires worked in there as well. I used my Tree of Life as a DPS cooldown in this rather than a healing cooldown (though as you can see my first one was poorly timed, as I wasted half of it in an ice tomb), tree-form Wrath spamming can pull some great DPS if you can keep it up, plus the instant-Regrowths make it much easier to recover quick big heals should anyone fall behind while you're DPSing. In hindsight, I probably could have thrown on a piece or two of +hit gear - missing wasn't costly at all, but it was a nuisance, particularly at one point where my Faerie Fire missed three times in a row. I mostly kept my Wraths to tree-form as it's such a long cast in caster form, but I tried to keep Moonfire and Insect Swarm up as often as I could as well as Faerie Fire from the start. I also tossed Thorns on Ortega whenever I remembered to add in a little more DPS there. Along with keeping HoTs up, I popped Efflorescence pretty exclusively onto Ortega, both for the big Swiftmend heal and to add that additional healing tick to give me more time to DPS or move.

For Rexdart, his spec is a PvE Beast Mastery spec (31/2/3) and his gear was also PvE gear of mostly 264 pieces (armoury). Glyph of Misdirection is a pretty great glyph to help pets build up good threat if it's needed. Ortega's spec is this (Tenacity). A pretty key talent Ortega has is Blood of the Rhino, increasing all healing effects on the pet by 40%. You can see in the video, too, Ortega has cooldowns as well - Shell Shield, effectively a shield wall with a 50% damage reduction, is used frequently.

From Rexdart:
"As for things like building threat, Kill Command with some reforging of excess hit into mastery was more than enough threat generation. I honestly only needed to use MD once at the very beginning and that was it. Disengage was used to escape out of blizzards faster, and mend pet was used to help during transitions between air phases, assuming he didn't run out of range to the opposite side of where we were.

There's actually two turtle damage reduction effects, which is why they are one of the best pets for tanking now: Shell Shield and Cower. Shell Shield when put on auto-cast seems to use some fairly smart AI, and I only see it activate when the pet drops to about 50% or less HP. Cower gets used whenever it's up when it's put on autocast. Being BM spec with Longevity, the cooldowns on these two get reduced to 42 seconds on SS and 31.5 on Cower, so the cooldown coverage is pretty good even with spamming.

A few other solo-style hunters have a stamina gem set they use to boost up their pet's health even more. Currently I don't have this, but I could see a turtle tanking some of the bosses in ICC without too much trouble given a decent +stamina setup."

For the most part, the fight wasn't really complicated - ultimately it was a tank and spank, really. The air  phase was trivial as both Rexdart and myself were icetombed each time, and Ortega's passive AE damage reductions (as a pet) protected him from the frost bombs. For me, I was focussing on balancing keeping us all alive and putting out DPS to help ensure we beat the enrage timer, and also decursing (as that curse heals Sapph). Rex will have been more focussed on managing Ortega's threat and survivability along with dishing out the damage. The main nuisance of the fight were the Blizzards, as they would inevitably target onto us (as there was no one else to target), but just intelligent decisions on when to remain standing in it and when to move out of it was all that was needed to deal with it. For positioning, we had to adapt after each air phase as Ortega would often shift positions, but we simply communicated that on vent to ensure we both went the same direction.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Who needs a tank when you have a turtle!

ETA: Video up here!

It can be a lot of fun seeing what you can take on in the game, and I was quite pleased with this kill a friend and I managed to get. We often go out to Hellfire to take out Magtheridon, usually he tanking on his warrior while I'm healing and helping dps. He's been working on his hunter recently though and thought we should try it with his pet tanking, which worked out pretty well and sped up our kill a lot.

We decided to see what else we could take out. We ended up heading to Northrend to check out Naxx 10. Some of the trash was a real nuisance - we thought about tackling Noth but decided not to bother this time as the trash would be a pain to clear. We had an alright time with Anub'Rekhan, but were falling a bit behind the enrage timer (the adds were causing some issues as their debuff required proper healing on Ortega (the turtle), taking away dps that I could do).

We decided to give Sapphiron a try, since it was a straightforward fight with no trash to clear. It was really quite good! We were a bit precariously close to the enrage timer, around 30 seconds off I think, though next time we should be better off as we got a good idea of what some of our positioning should be throughout.

The blizzards were the most annoying mechanic of the fight to deal with - since there was only two of us it usually came and sat right on us or drifted in rather irritating paths where we wanted to move to. Towards the end I just sat in it because moving seemed to keep putting us out of range of each other. Next time I may just sit in it briefly then shift slightly to step out once it's finished pathing, or just find a more coordinated way for us both to shift to keep in range of each other and minimise DPS time losses. Air phases were really simple to deal with as both of us were blocked each time, so it was simply a matter of waiting to be freed. Ortega was an excellent tank, held good threat and the AE damage reduction pets have mitigated a ton of the damage taken, especially from breaths.

I used my Tree of Life cooldown for DPS bursts rather than healing - the healing boost was still helpful, but I was timing the cooldown to try to get as many Wraths out as I could in the 30 second duration. I've been playing with this in dungeons especially - ToL Wrathing can pull some pretty good DPS if you're able to Wrath nonstop for the full 30 seconds. Moonfire and Insect Swarm are great helpers as you heal as well (though both will shift you out of ToL, so don't try to reapply them while in tree form). Three stacks of Faerie Fire should be up too for the armour reduction.

We should be heading back in again this week after the reset, I'd especially like to in order to video it this time (I thought to myself pre-pull 'I should record this', but of course I ended up not doing so), so hopefully we'll get back in again and I'll be able to upload a video of that as well. ETA: Video up here!

Very tempted to see what else we can take on around Outlands and Northrend. We managed to take down two of the Twilight Drakes in OS, Shadron and Vesperon, though Tenebron's whelps proved to be an issue. If we can get Tenebron down I imagine we may be able to take Sartharion down - the biggest issue I think would be the fire adds, as healing aggro really rips anything other than the primary target off of our turtle tank at the moment. Sarth has less HP than Sapphiron, so theoretically we could do it. We shall see!

Definitely some fun things to do while waiting for Cata!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Where will you be when the Cataclysm hits?

Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket had an interesting post recently about completing achievements before the xpac (Screw Bucket Lists), or rather, about not completing achievements:
'’s almost as though I want to leave these things half finished, as a reminder that the Sundering hit us without warning. My character isn’t privy to “patch notes” and announcements. She is going about her business, returned from Icecrown Citadel, having killed the Lich King. She is just a citizen now, a returned hero, enjoying some well-earned rest. She wonders what the mysterious rumblings are when she visits Orgrimmar, but doesn’t suspect anything dire on the horizon.'
I've always been pretty PVE focussed and haven't really delved into the RP world within WoW, but I do love all the lore and stories behind all the things in WoW. I didn't know much about raiding when I first began playing, I thought the game mostly revolved around quests, so I had a lot of fun with them as I levelled up. It's fun to see the stories and adventures you come across, and I enjoy thinking about what the stories are behind my characters, what their motivations are and how they would react to the world and challenges around them. There's a tremendous (and almost surprising) amount of depth in WoW - everywhere you turn there's history, from the actual books scattered around towns and cities to the NPCs themselves and what they do. It can be great fun to immerse yourself in the quests and zones.

There are some really memorable storylines within quests - many who levelled Night Elves in Darkshore will remember the questline For Love Eternal, telling the sad story of a loved one lost in the battles at the Well of Eternity. I remember how creepy Duskwood was the first time I levelled there, and the horror upon completing the Stitches questline at what I had released on Darkshire (though I'm bemused that after that first horrible deception by a questgiver that none of my toons ever learned to be less trusting when helping strangers). The Spectral Essence, which allows communication with the spirits on Caer Darrow gives a glimpse into the history around Scholomance, is a great item. The Lady's Necklace remains another favourite questline of mine, and why my Music Box is one of my favourite mementos. The quest to help save Crusader Bridenbrad is a wonderful questline (along with many in Icecrown and Storm Peaks) which gives so much more depth to everything in the zone. There are many hidden little spots around the game as well which can be a joy to explore, let alone some of the amazing art and architecture which make up the zones.

Reading Keeva's post got me thinking about just where my toons will be and what they'll be doing when the Shattering occurs. While there's some achievements I'd still like to wrap up (and even just getting the Tripping the Rifts achievement) and preparations for Cata, most of my toons are, like Keeva, returning to the Old World having fought in Icecrown Citadel and brought an end to the Lich King. Already (to avoid patch-time lag) many of my toons now have their hearths in Darnassus, my favourite of the home cities. I imagine most would end up there, returning home after the trials faced in Northrend, perhaps sharing stories of their adventures with Tyrande and the residents of Darnassus, with no idea of the events to come.

Where will you and your toons be when the Shattering occurs? Will they be caught off guard, shocked as the land is ripped apart? Or have they taken the word of the Cultists invading the cities and are expecting the world to be engulfed in flames? Or have they not paid attention to any of the ominous signs, ignoring the earthquakes and elementals as they reflect upon their adventures in Icecrown and Ulduar?

Combat Rez Changes

This news seemed too big to neglect mentioning: Official word on changes to Combat Resurrections in Cataclysm.
The design for combat resurrection effects has changed a good deal for Cataclysm, and we want to make sure players are clear on how spells like Rebirth and Create Soulstone now function. Rebirth has a 10-minute cooldown and Create Soulstone has a 15-minute cooldown. On raid boss encounters, you can only use one of these combat resurrection spells (so one Rebirth or one Soulstone) per attempt for 10-player raids. For 25-player raids you can use three forms of combat resurrection per raid boss attempt (so three of any combination of Rebirth and Soulstone). The count is incremented as soon as a player accepts a resurrection, so one can always choose not to accept if he or she wants someone else to get the resurrection instead. There is no equivalent of the Sated debuff (which tracks Bloodlust/Heroism usage), but you will get an error message if you try to resurrect too many players, and we might add tracking to our raid interface if there is demand for it. Outside of raid content, you can use as many battle resurrections as you have available. (source)
This is quite a big and interesting change for the use of combat rezzes in Cata (and in live currently, as these changes do seem to be in effect judging by attempts to BR during a run I was in last night).

Essentially, battle rezzes are now being limited per attempt (1 for 10 mans, 3 for 25 mans). The shorter cooldown (10 minutes) for Rebirth is likely to ensure the cooldown doesn't interfere with multiple wipes/attempts within a short period of time. I imagine this was to stop not necessarily stacking druids in a raid, but preventing BRs being used as either a strategy or a crutch in downing encounters. This will certainly make effective communication and timing of BRs critical, as well as debating whether you want to rez someone or to save the rez in case it's needed later.

The biggest thing I think this goes along with though is the whole changes Blizzard seems to be aiming for with Cataclysm: Gone are the days of mindlessly ploughing through content without worry of using CCs, AEing mobs down, and not worrying about raid damage or healer mana or people dying because they can 'just be rezzed'. The biggest thing I've gotten out of beta raids so far is raid awareness is crucial - raid members will need to be paying attention and doing more than just spamming 1-1-2 or whatever their rotation may be. Raid members need to be mitigating the damage they take, avoiding damage, quick on stuns and CCs, and working together to get bosses down. No one can rely on unlimited healer mana or combat rezzes anymore. Should make for more involved gameplay I think! I'm genuinely looking forward to all the changes (though less enthusiastic about pugging things), as so far everything is shaping up to be very fun in Cata!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Beta Raid Testing - Throne of the Four Winds

Thought I'd change tack on this post and give a preview of the raid instance in Uldum, Throne of the Four Winds. I unfortunately don't have as many lovely screenshots of this instance as it was a bit harder to grab shots of some of the bosses (the first boss is actually three bosses spread around the instance), but I have got a few still!

This is definitely one of the most unique instances I've seen. The place itself is all the way up in the sky, rising out of the clouds, and the art and architecture inside are just amazing. The design is really stunning, and it's a really lovely shift from the dark gloom and the lava in the Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent.

There are only two encounters in this instance. From my understanding, this instance is supposed to be roughly equivalent to encounters like Malygos in that it's a short instance with no trash to deal with.

Inside is really quite unique - there are a total of five platforms, one in the centre surrounded by four smaller ones. The first platform is where you zone in on, the three others surrounding the centre hold the bosses for the first boss, Conclave of Wind, and the largest, centre platform is where Al'Akir sits (the final boss). To get to each platform you walk (carefully) onto a ramp of air, which will launch you up and over to the next platform. These can be a bit tricky - especially during the first encounter (where you will need people transferring platforms) - you want to move slowly and directly onto them. Also, don't levitate or slow fall before going onto one, as it will launch you too far and you'll likely end up flying off to your death.

Conclave of Wind

The Conclave of Wind is made up of three bosses, the Djinn: Anshal, Rohash and Nezir. All three bosses have an energy bar which, when it reaches 90 energy, will allow them to cast their special ability and will reset their energy to zero. You cannot jump between platforms during a special ability, and there MUST be raid members at each boss at all times - if any boss is left completely alone, they will wipe the raid. All three bosses must be killed at roughly the same time or they will regenerate.

Ability information sourced from

Soothing Winds: Summons an area of calm winds on a random friendly target creating a green circle which will heal allies for 20,000 per second. Enemies (raiders) in the area will be silenced/pacified while in the area.
Nurture: Summons a Ravenous Creeper every second for five seconds.
Toxic Spores: Caused by Ravenous Creepers, spores erupt every second for five second afflicting those within 8 yards iwth a deadly toxin which deals stacking Nature damage for five seconds.
Zephyr: Cast at full energy, this healls all allies within 15 yards for 25,000 health per second and afflicted targets gain 15% damage for 15 seconds. Stacks.

Wind Chill: Deals Frost damage to all enemies within 15 yards and increases all frost damage taken by 10% for 30 seconds. Stacks.
Permafrost: Channels a Frost blast at Nezir's current target dealing ~10,000 damage per second in a frontal cone for 3 seconds.
Ice Patch: Deals ~7000 frost damage per second to all enemies within 20 yards and slowing their movement speed. Stacks, lasts 3 seconds.
Sleet Storm: Cast at full energy, deals ~30,000 Frost damage per second to all enemies within 100 yards. Damage is split among all targets.

Slicing Gale: Cast instead of a melee attack - Winds slice through a random enemy target dealing ~12,000 nature damage and increasing Nature damage received by 5% for 30 seconds.
Wind Blast: Slowly spins around the platform, blasting the area in front of the caster for ~10,000 nature damage and will knock back anyone struck 200 yards.
Tornado: Summons 3 tornados which move randomly and deal damage to anyone within 10 yards of them and will knock back.
Hurricane: Cast at full energy, this creates a vortex of wind, catching nearby enemies and lifting them into the air. Causes Nature damage and drops enemies at the end of the cast, causing fall damage.

As you can see, each boss has their own unique abilities and specials. Strategy can be pretty variable it seems like, and we tried several different strategies. In general, for having them die at the same time, what seems to work is beginning with one boss and burning him down to roughly 10%, moving to the next boss and repeating, then moving to the final boss, burning him down completely, then moving back and finishing off the first two. If you can split your dps up enough (more likely in 25s probably) you may be able to try burning all three at the same time rather than moving. As of now, your best bet may be being open to experimentation and working with your group makeup and how you're able to handle abilities. On our 25s kill, we used the movement strategy, burning down first Rohash, then Nezir, then Anshar, then returning to the previous bosses to finish them off after Anshar went down.

There MUST be raid members at each boss at all times - you cannot move your entire raid from boss to boss. If any of the three bosses is left on their own, they will cast an ability which will wipe the raid. You will generally be fine with leaving a tank with 1-2 healers at each boss as the rest of the raid moves to the next boss. All the bosses need to die within a very short time of each other (roughly at the same time) or they will regenerate.

Some key things to note for each boss:

As Rohash doesn't have a melee attack, you don't necessarily need a tank for this boss, which is particularly useful for 10 mans (on 25s you can easily just have a tank for him, and have the tank remain with the boss along with a healer when the rest of the raid moves to the next boss.

Sleet Storm, cast by Nezir, can do a significant amount of damage, but it is split amongst the targets in range, so if your raid is mostly on Nezir when he casts his ability, damage will be mitigated.

There are several stacking abilities which may require tank swaps throughout the fight, so it's important your tanks (and healers who have remained at each boss with them) communicate. In particular are Wind Chill and Slicing Gale, and potentially Toxic Spores.

The bosses won't aggro if you just step onto their platform, so what seems to be the best pre-pull strategy is for the raid to buff up on the first platform, then for everyone to move to their designated platform and prepare to pull together. Also keep in mind raid-wide buffs vs range buffs - for instance, any warlocks should turn off their imp's Pact and instead have your priests buff Fortitude to ensure no one loses range on Pact.

Unfortunately I don't have a good screenshot as yet of the three Djinn. But after you kill them, Al'Akir (above) will appear. In that screenshot I've clicked on the wind current on the first platform which will launch you up and onto his platform.


This is a pretty interesting boss. There are three phases to the fight. Abilities sourced from

Phase 1:
The first phase is from 100% down to 80% HP. We found the best positioning was to have basically two groups for this phase, the tank up front and the melee and ranged stacked up at the back, and possibly a couple of healers inched in towards the tank to keep him in range.

He has a few abilities in phase 1 to be aware of. One is Ice Storm, which creates a blizzard that moves around the platform and leaves a path of frost, which deals frost damage and slows movement speed. Not killer, but best to stay out of. Another is Static Shock, which deals damage to nearby enemies and interrupts spells cast, lasts for 5 seconds. This may be avoidable at range, but staying in melee will be helpful for his other main ability, Wind Burst. Wind Burst deals ~30,000 Nature damage to all enemies and knocks them back. It is best to run into melee range for this cast to prevent getting knocked off the platform. While getting knocked off won't kill you, it takes a few moments for you to get caught in the winds and swirled back up onto the platform, so it will waste a fair bit of time. You can resist the knockback, but don't count on it.

In Phase 1 and in Phase 2, Al'Akir also has an ability called Electrocute, which channels a bolt of electricity to Al'Akir's target (the tank) and does increasing damage over time. Al'Akir is only able to use this ability when he is unable to melee the target, so it will likely be up whenever the tank is either knocked away or has to move out of melee range. The tank and healers should be ready for this when the tank needs to move.

Phase 2:
Phase 2 keeps only two of the abilities of Phase 1, Static Shock and Electrocute. Several new abilities are introduced. One is Acid Rain, a stacking Nature damage which will continue to stack until you hit Phase 3. This is essentially a soft enrage - if you take too long to get to phase 3 (30%), this will eventually kill you. Al'Akir also summons adds in this phase called Stormlings - when these are killed, they can apply Feedback to Al'Akir, a debuff which will increase the damage he receives by 10% per stack, lasting 20 seconds. You want to try to kill these Stormlings to stack up that debuff as much as you can.

The biggest ability he will do is a Squall Line - this creates a wall of tornados which circle Al'Akir around the platform. Each wall will have a gap the width of one tornado, which players must move to to avoid getting hit by the tornados. Getting hit by one will trap you in the tornado, dealing damage and eventually flinging you off the edge. You can survive this if you are healed through it, but ideally you do not want anyone getting hit, as you will lose DPS time, heals and mana. You can see where each set is going to spawn, as they will start forming as gold-white wind swirls and solidify into the gray tornados.

Phase 3:
I imagine this will be another phase people will love or hate - at 30%, Al'Akir will shatter the platform and engage phase 3, tossing everyone up into the air. Everyone is in flight with their movement speed increased by 300%. The best strategy this phase seems to be coordinating everyone's movement, as his abilities this phase will be cast at random raid members and can quickly eat up usable space. We began by flying everyone to the very highest we could go. Al'Akir will summon Lightning Clouds, which will create a thick dark gray layer of clouds at the targeted player's level. After 5 seconds, these clouds will erupt in lightning, dealing ~50,000 damage to anyone caught in it. The best way to avoid this is, by having the raid all at the same level, the instant a Lightning Cloud forms, the entire raid can shift down slightly to the next level, and continue moving down and up to avoid the new layers as they spawn.

The raid wants to be spread out on each level due to Chain Lightning, which is cast constantly during the phase, and damage increases with each jump. Al'Akir will also cast Lightning Rod, which causes a random target to emit lightning, damaging themself and nearby allies. Anyone with Lightning Rod will want to move away from the raid, preferably back (rather than down) to avoid summoning Lightning Clouds on clear levels.

Al'Akir will also resume casting Wind Burst, so you will have knockbacks as well. The most annoying ability, which seems to be quite random, is Relentless Storm - random raid members will find themselves caught inside the Relentless Storm. While in the Relentless Storm, you are spun around in a windstorm around Al'Akir, and you are unable to control your character.

The entire fight is pretty intensive all around. Phase 2 and Phase 3 are very heal-intensive (especially if DPS can't push him into Phase 3 quickly enough, as Acid Rain will stack too high). Phase 3 needs to have very careful movement to ensure the raid doesn't run out of room to avoid Lightning Clouds.

Raid awareness is really key in this fight, particularly for avoiding the tornado walls. While they won't necessarily kill raid members (assuming those caught are given heals), it will waste valuable time and healer mana dealing with them. You also want to handle the Stormling adds well in order to build up the debuff on Al'Akir to help push Phase 3. You don't necessarily need a tank for those - we had them aggro on to the melee and had our DKs deathgrip them into melee to help burn them down, which seemed to work fine. It's best to avoid them latching on to healers or ranged, though.

All in all it's a pretty interesting instance with some unique encounters! Have fun!