Many World of Warcraft players are bored with the overused mechanics (tanks swap at x number of stacks of this debuff), as well as feeling like certain encounters types are too common (like fights with dragons).  With that in mind, Matt over at the Outlandish Podcast, recently requested (as part of a competition to win some interesting in-game prizes) that followers of the podcast come up with their own encounter (or raid) design.

While I will lay out my plans for a specific raid encounter below, I encourage you all to also create a raid encounter of your own, and both submit it to the Outlandish Podcast and if you post it in your blog, put a link in the comments below.  Perhaps as a community, we can create enough unique encounters (or raids) that will keep our interest in the game for years to come.

The Setup
While I understand that people are bored with the fights against dragons, I also understand that dragons in general offer the ability to come up with new and exciting ideas when it comes to encounters.  Also, because I have been fascinated by dragons for a long time, I felt that a "dragon fight" would be an appropriate encounter for an idea, but I also realize that the encounter has to be nothing like other encounters (or like all of them combined).

The Story
Because I was always interested in more of the storyline that could have been when it comes to Nefarian's experiments with the Chromatic Dragonflight, and because we will be returning to Blackrock Mountain (where the experiments were taking place), and we may be seeing the return of these dragons, I would like to see specific encounters with his experimental dragonflight.

The Encounter
The encounter takes place in the Blackwing Corridor, a small instance that requires players to complete it before they can enter Deathwing's Lair (similar to the gated effect of the Icecrown 5-man instances and Blackrock Depths/Molten Core).  In this instance, which is reminiscent of Onyxia's Lair, you are first required to follow down a spiraling tunnel, and kill a series of trash mobs, made up of various species of dragonkin (i.e. whelps, drakonid, dragonspawn, and drakeadon).

When you reach the bottom of the tunnel, you are presented with a long, stone-walled room.  The room is very long, with high ceilings, and five doors on either of the side walls.  Above each door, there is a banner corresponding to each of the dragonflights (red, green, blue, bronze, and black).  At the far end of the room, in the center of the stone wall is a large doorway, with a door on either side.  Above one of the doors is a banner with the color of all five dragonflights, and above the other is a similar, but more translucent banner.  Before the large door is a throne, with two smaller thrones on either side.

As you enter the room, you immediately notice Lady Briana Voracia, a human female, with long hair that sparkles like the stars, dressed in noble attire, sitting in the center throne.  Flanked at her sides are an elf of either race.  The one to the right is a blood elf, who goes by the name Baron Edward Perilion, his hair is iridescent, and shimmers like a rainbow.  The other is a night elf named Lord Byron Seditian; he has long white hair that glows like the moon.

A dialog ensues, with Lady Voracia where she informs you that she cannot allow you to proceed.  As she stops speaking a band dragonkin pour out of each of the doors on the sides of the room.  These are obviously members of the individual dragonflights, but appear corrupted, as if by some strange power.  Amongst the kin, you see every type of dragon under the sun, drakonid, dragonspawn, whelps, and even the occasional drakeadon.

The Lady informs you that, while "The Master" is waiting for his children, there is nothing wrong with a little entertainment, and she instructs the dragonkin to dismantle the ragtag group that approaches her without an invitation.  You immediately begin to be attacked by dragons of every color, unable to determine when the onslaught will end.

As you finish taking care of the last remnants of the dragons, Lord Seditian informs Lady Voracia that he is becoming impatient, and transforms into a massive Twilight Dragon.  His translucent scales remind you of nightfall, and he quickly attacks with ferocity.  During the fight his scales seem to slowly change colors; from the color of the day shifting into nightfall, to the color of midnight, to the golden shade of dawn.

When Seditian eventually falls limply to the ground, a slumber falls over you, and you hear the crackle of lightning combined with the roar of a burning city.  When you awake from your sleep, you see that Lord Perilion has morphed into an large Chromatic Dragon, whose scales flicker in the light like a prism in the sun, and seem to be every color at the same time.  His wings span the width of the room, and his head reaches the vaulted ceiling, he is indeed a massive dragon.

The fight begins, and you soon find that Perilion fights with unmatched malice, he burns you with his engulfing breath and arcane magic is thrown about with ease, the earth quakes as he teleports around the room as if time has no meaning to him, and members of your party to fall into a deep slumber as he flaps his massive wings.  He seems to become more and more agitated as the fight progresses, and slowly moves away from his magical abilities, toward using brute force.

As his body falls to the ground in defeat, he transforms back into his humanoid form, warning the group of the terrors that lay ahead with "The Master".  As he lay on the floor, you see five sparks of life float toward the ceiling.

Seeing the lords fall in battle, Voracia yells to the group to come face her if they are brave enough.  As you reach her, she is joined by a small band of chromatic and twilight dragonkin.  As you dispatch of the lesser dragons, Voracia shifts into a dragon, the likes of which you have never seen before.

Voracia exclaims, "I am the sunlight and the shadows, the sinner and the saint! I am the 'Every Dragon!'" With that, she charges toward the party, rears up on her hind legs and spouts fire toward the ceiling.  As her front claws slam on the ground, the party is thrown to the back of the room by the entrance; you can see now that her size rivals that of the Aspects, with her wings touching both walls, and her spiked tail reaching the other end of the room.

After regrouping, the party engages Voracia, who attacks with lightning speed, and armor melting breath.  She occasionally rears up, casting a spell toward the shadows of the room, where lesser dragons spawn, seemingly out of thin air.  After a point, she rears again on her back legs, and again spouts toward the ceiling, and slams back into the ground, causing the party to once again be thrown toward the back of the room.  The quake causes a rift in the floor to open, out of which spawn elementals of molten flame.

Upon seeing the rift open, she takes flight, and opens a portal toward the back of the room.  As you finish clearing up the elementals, a flock of whelps exits the portal.  Once the whelps exit the portal, the portal closes and she flies toward the opposite end of the room spouting flames at the party.

When she reaches the other side, she begins opening another portal, this one spawns drakonids, who attack very quickly, targeting the weakest amongst you.  When this portal closes, Voracia once again flies toward the other end of the room, spouting flames at the floor as she travels.  She begins opening a third portal.

When the drakonid are taken care of, a drake spawns from the third portal, and Voracia lands.  She instructs this drake to rid her of your presence, turns and starts out the exit on the other end of the room.  The drake flies at you quickly, and attacks you in the center of the room.  While still a drake, the enemy has impressive strength, but due to its limited experience the drake is sloppy, and makes many mistakes that allow you to take advantage.

After a short period fighting the drake, you notice that the ceiling is beginning to cave in behind you, forcing you to kill the drake quickly, and make your way to the exit in pursuit of Voracia.

There is a short hallway once you take the exit, with a small door at the other end.  Upon entering the room, you see Voracia at the ready, but once you take a few steps toward her, a sleep spell is placed on the entire group, at which point, Voracia attacks the party.  Upon being attacked, the members of the party are awakened, and the fight continues.

Voracia uses the abilities of every dragonflight seemingly at random; when she realizes that she may actually lose the fight, she becomes extremely angry, and starts spouting off random spells in every direction, which are amazingly potent, but easily avoidable.

Once Voracia falls in battle, the group is rewarded for their efforts, and a group of representatives from the Wyrmrest Accord appears, and decide to collect a scale from the Broodmother of the Every Dragons for examination.  After examining the Scale of the Every Dragons, Alextrasza informs the group that the scale has magical properties that will allow entrance into Deathwing's Lair.

The Conclusion
That is the end of my idea for a raid encounter, and I hope you enjoyed it.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.  Remember, if you have any ideas for a raid, or encounter, either post them in the comments or post them on your own blog and put a link to it below.  I plan on posting a follow-up to this one eventually, which will include links to the various ideas, as well as possibly combining ideas into full blown raids (but no promises).

See you in the Shadows,
The loss of a family member, a loved one, or a friend is never something that is easy to deal with, nor is it something that most people like to talk about.  However, death is a fact of life, and something that is rarely ever discussed in the realm of online gaming.  The only time I have seen death discussed in regards to gaming is either when someone decides to play themselves to death (by not sleeping/eating/drinking for days), or the occasional in-game funeral for a fallen friend.

While I have never personally experienced the death of one of my online friends, I do know that if one of them were to slip into the shadows, I would want to know.  Which brings about the question, if you were to pass away, how would you want your online friends to be informed about your passing?

After reading an article recently about an in-game funeral, I have pondered this, and have decided that like so many other aspects of life, "it depends" is once again the best response to this question, because it really does depend on both your personal life (Are you single or married? Do you have a will? Have you been experiencing any illness?) as well as your relationship with your online community (How well do you know each other? Have you been interacting with each other for a long time?).

If you are or have been experiencing any illness or disease which would be life threatening, and are relatively close with your online community, I would suggest informing them of the situation, at least in part, so that they are not caught off-guard should something happen.  If you are married or have children, it may be beneficial to discuss with them what you would want done if you were to pass away.

While it may sound almost morbid to discuss these topics, it is very much similar to preparing your last will and testament (and could likely be included as part of your will, if you have one), and is intended to make your passing easier for your loved ones.  Some things you might want to consider are the following:
  1. Of your online friends, which ones would you want to inform? (As many people as possible, or only the ones you interact with on a regular basis, like your guild or raid group?)
  2. Who from your real life community would you want to inform your online friends? (Wife, siblings, real life friend, etc.)
  3. Which method of communication would you want used to inform your online friends? (Posting on a website, Twitter, Facebook, VoIP (i.e. Ventrilo, Teamspeak, Mumble)).
  4. When would you like to have your friends informed of your passing? (Immediately after passing? A week or so after passing?)
  5. What would you want to have done with your online account? (Cancel the account all together? Sell the account (which is against the ToS)?)
  6. If you have any in-game wealth, would you want it distributed to the members of your community?
  7. Would you want an in-game funeral?

Personally, because I am married, I would prefer to take the burden of telling my online friends off the shoulders of my wife, as I would expect her to have other things on her mind.  Instead, I would want one of my brothers to let my friends know via either our guild website, or via whichever VoIP software we are using (which is Mumble if you are curious), as soon as possible after my passing. This is partially because they are more familiar with technology than my wife, especially when it comes to VoIP software, and because I think they would be able to relate to my online community better.

As far as my account is concerned, I would prefer to have as many of my belongings as possible sold off, and the resulting wealth distributed amongst my friends.  This way, I would be able offer them a small bit of joy in the midst of the sadness.  I would not, however, wish to have an in-game funeral, as that would bring about sadness from both my online community, and unnecessary sadness for the person that would have to play my character for the event.  Instead, if my friends wanted to honor my memory in some way in-game, I would much rather have a celebration.  Assuming my current WoW community, I would prefer to have fireworks, drinks, food, and dancing.

While I hope that both you and your online community never have to experience the loss of an online friend, I will pose the question: What would you like done if you were to slip into the shadows?

See you in the Shadows,
Recently, a member of my guild decided to post on our website a question inquiring about the origin of our screen/character names (sorry, it was a guild only post, so you won't be able to see their responses).  The post received an amazing response from guild members, all with their own little reason for the name.  I thought it was an interesting idea, one that could promote a sense of "family" amongst guild members, I decided to provide a post there as well.

The history of my character's name is actually a long one; one that as of today spans about 27 years.  That's right, it goes back to when I was a baby (aww, how cute, I know).  When I was a baby, I was given the nickname "Moosie" by one of my relatives.  Nobody actually recalls the reason why I was given the nickname, but many members of my family still refer to me by the name.

The nickname has followed me throughout life; when I was in middle/high school, the nickname "Moose" was used when I was participating in sports.  The reason for this: most athletes in our school were just referred to by their last name, however, I was always participating in the same sports as my older brother, he was referred to by our last name already, so I needed a nickname, so I provided one that I had for years already, and didn't mind.

When I went to college, our Community (a.k.a. Resident) Adviser wanted to know our nicknames for some door decorations.  Once again, I provided my nickname, and because we had 5 other people with the same first name (Eric) as me on my floor, it was just easier to call me by my nickname.

A short while into my freshman year of college, I began playing Counter Strike and joined a "clan" with the rest of the guys on my floor that played (I believe there were 7-8 guys total).  The name of the clan was "[Spaz]", and each of the players (except my roommate for some reason) had a screen name related to an animal of some sort (Cowz, Monkey, etc); thus, I became [Spaz]Moose.

A few years later, I was elected as president of our Residence Hall Association (and was still known by the nickname "Moose"), and was having a conversation with one of the other officers in the organization.  I was playfully teasing her about something, and she said that I was like a little devil, and began calling me "Moosifer" (which is a combination of "Moose" and "Lucifer").

After I had graduated from college, I was having difficulties finding a job, and began playing WoW.  My first character was a Tauren Hunter named Spazmoose, a continuation of my name from Counter Strike.  I didn't care for playing a hunter much at the time, and then ran into one of my former co-workers who mentioned that his guild was looking for priests.  I said that I would give it a try, and he told me to let him know when I got to level 60. 

I thought about being a healer, but didn't think it fit my play (or life) style, so I decided to turn to the darkside.  Because my character was leaning toward more fiendish things I felt that the name had to fit the character, and that "Spazmoose" just wouldn't be a good name for him.  However, I did want to stay with a similar name (so that others could find me if they wanted), so I decided to combine some of my past nicknames, resulting in "Spazmoosifer, Priest of the Shadows", and he has been my main character ever since.

Well, there you have it, that is the history of my main character's name.  Now, I ask you, "What's in a name?"

See you in the Shadows,
When playing on my priest lately, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of whispers that I receive with regards to both "rotation" and gear for shadow priests.  Many of these whispers are from guild-mates who play a shadow priest as an alt or as their secondary talent specialization (or spec).  However, I have also begun receiving whispers from players that I see in PuG raids and even from random priest that I have never met before (but are likely told to ask me by guild-mates).  I am actually amazed by the number of whispers, but I am happy to help as much as I can.

The two major things that people have been asking about are gear (and how to choose which gear to use) and rotation (*).  While both are major topics in their own right, I would like to focus on current gearing for the spriest.

The entire focus of a spriest is to maximize damage-per-second (DPS) while also providing appropriate utility to the raid group.  Much of the utility brought by spriests is in the form of buffs/debuffs that are applied simply by the use of our normal combat mechanics.  Thus, we can focus on maximizing our DPS, which will in turn maximize our utility.

One of the ways to maximize DPS is by properly gearing a spriest, which has changed recently (in patch 3.3) due to how haste now affects certain damage-over-time spells (DoTs).  This change basically allows DoTs to tick faster depending on the amount of haste that you have available. Note, however, that with the current implementation, SWP does not benefit from haste (so you will not need to re-cast it during Bloodlust/Heroism).

Anyway, if you are interested in min/max-ing your spriest, I would suggest stopping by the BRG (Best Raid Gear) forums on, but make sure you are looking at the information for the current patch (3.3).  If you are not really the min/max type of player, but would rather settle for a general idea of how to gear, just follow this simple rule:

Hit (**) > Spellpower = Haste Rating > Critical Strike Rating > Spirit > Intellect

Keep in mind that is using raw (rating) values, so 1 point of Spellpower would be equivalent to 1 point of Haste Rating (not 1% Haste).

While that is the general rule, you may want to also keep in mind that Haste is a stepped type of stat, where 1 point of Haste Rating may not be entirely equivalent to 1 point of Spellpower.  In fact, depending on what your current haste rating is, it may be significantly higher than spellpower.  If you were to see a graph of the two, it would look something like the image above (though likely more of a curve than entirely stepped).  The idea is to get enough haste so that your spells coincide with your global cooldown, which (if I remember correctly) happens somewhere around the 600 Haste rating and 900 Haste Rating marks (a.k.a. the sweet spots), though I wouldn't quote me on those numbers.

So, with that, I wish you good luck in picking out your new gear, and hope that I have steered you in the right direction.

See you in the Shadows,

* Spriests don't necessarily have a "rotation" to speak of, but should focus on using a priority list.
** When under hit cap.

My previous post had me delving into the lighter side of things, and joining in with the "non-meme" Circle of Healers thing.  This time, I am joining Death Goddess in filling out the DPS Survey, which I have decided to call the Circle of Killers.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?
Spazmoosifer, Priest, Shadow (13/0/58)
Spazknight, Death Knight, currently Blood/Unholy

What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Spazmoosifer: Mostly 10 & 25-man raids, with the occasional 5-man run.
Spazknight: Primarily 5-man instances and some 10-man raids.

What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?
Spazmoosifer: I don't have one particular spell or ability that I like necessarily more than others. I do like the synergy between various spells, for example, I love the fact that Vampiric Touch and Mind Blast work together for replenishment, while Mind Flay and Shadow Word: Pain mix well too.

Spazknight: Prior to the changes to Unholy Blight, that would have been my favorite ability, however, I have become rather fond of Hysteria lately, which I like to cast on other melee DPS in order to help out the entire group.

What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?
Spazmoosifer: Shadow Word: Death has pretty much fallen out of my casting priority all together, except when I am running into a fight and need a filler spell.  The reason being is that other spells generally take a higher priority due to higher damage gains, and I don't suffer the backlash (that can kill you on some fights like Hodir if not managed properly).

Spazknight: I have the horrible tendency to not use Rune Strike at all.  Though I am planning on adding it to my macros in order to make it more of a "without thinking" kind of ability.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?
Spazmoosifer: Shadow priests are amazingly adaptive, especially with the ability to switch to healing on a whim.  When played properly, a well geared shadow priest can surprise even seasoned veteran DPSers.

Spazknight: The biggest strength of a death knight, in my opinion, is their ability to switch from a DPSer to a Tank with little more than a gear change, and likewise, a DK Tank can easily switch to DPS if necessary.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?
Spazmoosifer: Shadow priests have had consistent issues with scaling for quite a long time.  A result of these issues is that in lower tiers of content, they are very much sought after, and become less sought after when moving to higher tier content.

: Death knights are still a baby when it comes to the evolution of the information that is available when compared to other classes.  This is due to both being the newest available class, as well as the fact that there are many more options available for talent trees when compared to other classes, allowing for a wide variety of game play.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?
Spazmoosifer: Because I think it is the biggest strength of the shadow priest, I believe that any assignment that I am given is appropriate, as long as the raid leader is assigning other DPS to appropriate roles.  If I am asked to single target DPS, I will single target DPS like a mad man.  If I am asked to AoE DPS, I will wipe them all out.

Spazknight: Because I am less comfortable overall with my death knight, I do prefer to do more single target damage. Specifically, if the target is moving very little, or moving around but slowly, I can usually keep up with others.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?
Spazmoosifer: When playing on my shadow priest, I absolutely love DPSing with Warlocks and Boomkins.  The buffs that they provide help increase my overall damage by a lot if the players know what they are doing.

Spazknight: Because Hysteria is my current favorite ability, I absolutely love throwing it on a warrior.  It is even more fun when they don't quite realize what is going on.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?
Spazmoosifer: I actually don't like mages when it comes to DPS, as they seem like they are overly self focused as a class, though I do appreciate the biscuits and intellect buff I get from them.  Also, the fact that mages seem to be able to get much higher on the DPS charts with a lot less trouble is rather annoying, along with the fact that many of them have issues controlling their threat, and end up dying.

Spazknight: Paladins.  Never liked DPSing with them...not quite sure why.

What is your worst habit as a dps?
Spazmoosifer: My worst habit (and possibly most beneficial to the raid as a whole) is that I am very willing to stop DPSing and begin healing if I determine it is necessary.  I am not sure, but I think that this may annoy some people, especially when all it does is prolong a wipe.

Spazknight: Pulling aggro, but not by overtaking the tank in threat.  Rather I don't rely on the tank always having a taunt, etc. on cooldown when another DPSer pulls threat, so I will try to bring the target back via Death Grip.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?
Spazmoosifer: People that don't move out of the fire.  If you are running DBM or BigWigs, you should never have a problem with this if it is set up properly. Move your ass out of the fire, and pay attention.

Spazknight: Not getting heals.  A lot of times, melee DPS are given less priority because of their relative location compared to the tanks.  However, I do appreciate those healers that use their "smart" heals, such as Circle of Healing or Chain Heal.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?
Spazmoosifer: I actually don't feel that the shadow priest is balanced well with other DPS classes.  Blizzard has made the comment that "hybrid" classes should have lower DPS than "pure" classes, which I am completely okay with.  I do have a problem, however, when a DPS class that is more than one tier under me is able to throw out more damage during a fight.

Spazknight: I don't really feel comfortable with giving a definitive answer to this, as I have just recently picked up on playing my death knight again, though from what I have seen, I think the class is relatively well balanced when compared to the other melee DPS classes.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a damage dealer?
Spazmoosifer: I use a number of tools to evaluate my performance, including Recount, World of Logs, WoWMeterOnline, ShadowFriend, doing DPS testing on target dummies, and keeping a mental note of where my performance was previously on encounters.

Spazknight: Because I play my death knight more casually than my priest, the only real tool that I use to evaluate my performance is Recount.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
Spazmoosifer: The biggest misconception about shadow priests is that they cannot compete with other classes in DPS.  There have been numerous times when I have gotten whispers asking how I am so high on the "DPS meters".  I believe that this misconception comes from people that don't spend the time to learn how to properly play the class.  Just a note for people: if you know your class, you can beat out others on the meters.

Spazknight: Death knights are overpowered.  While at the beginnings of the class, the death knight was indeed overpowered, which was a class balancing issue.  Now after people have geared up more, and Blizzard has implemented changes, the classes seem much more balanced.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new dpsers of your class to learn?
Spazmoosifer: The most difficult thing for new shadow priests is how to manage your spells when casting.  The biggest problem that I see is that people don't know how to manage the various DoTs, and casting spells at inopportune times, causing a loss of DPS.

Spazknight: Many people playing death knights switch over from being casters, and managing the runic power along with the runes can be a major issue.

What dps class do you feel you understand least?
Paladins are probably my least understood DPS class, this is likely due to the fact that I have never played a paladin, and during my play time, I have actually run with relatively few paladin DPSers.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?
I am what I like to call an add-on-aholic.  All together, I have 82 different add-ons installed right now.  However, I am constantly switching between add-ons, getting rid of the ones I don't like, and finding new ones.  However, if I were to recommend any add-ons to aid in DPS, I would say the Forte group of add-ons are spectacular (and were actually created by people on my server which is pure win).

Strength over other stats or balanced stat allocation, and why?
For both my priest and my death knight I try to keep my stats pretty well balanced, and watch the areas where there are "caps" in place (such as hit, expertise, etc.) so that I don't stray too far away from those "cap" values.  I do keep more up to date on my priest by regularly viewing the forums over at