WAWK: Mage Artifact Edition

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Unsatisfied with dominating the damage charts in previous expansions – sometimes even to the point where stacking them late into the tier could be used to skip mechanics entirely and speedkill bosses, mages get an assortment of artifacts this expansion that belong to very well known mages in lore. Arcane get access to Aluneth, the staff of Aegwynn, the only female Guardian of Tirisfal and mother of Medivh; fire wields Felo’melorn, the spellblade belonging to the Sunstrider family through the War of the Ancients, the Troll Wars and the fight against the death knight Arthas; and frost mages will be able to use Ebonchill, the staff of the first Guardian of Tirisfal, Alodi.

Introductory Quests

Meryl Felstorm calls upon you to meet with him in Dalaran, at the Violet Gate, to warn you of an escaped dreadlord on your hands (cue Jaina memes). Kathra’natir, who he banished and trapped within his own body in the comics, has broken free. The dreadlord seeks a relic called the Forge of the Guardian – an item used to infuse the Council of Tirisfal’s power into the Guardian. You join Felstorm to confront the dreadlord in Violet Hold, where the Forge was hidden.

When you head inside, you fight with Kathra’natir (don’t forget to spellsteal his leech ability) shortly before Felstorm freezes him into a block of ice. He claims that the dreadlord is too strong, so you’ll have to use the Forge of the Guardian, being siphoned by rifts for its magic to be infused with the power of the Guardian Alodi temporarily to defeat him.

After defeating him, Alodi forms as a spirit and tells Felstorm that the Legion will continue to seek the Forge of the Guardian once Kathra’natir returns to strength again. You have to transport it to an even safer location than the Violet Hold – to your class hall, the Hall of the Guardian. Felstorm says he will reform the Tirisgarde, and elite order of mages, with you as its champion.

The Tirisgarde themselves weren’t as powerful as the Guardian themselves, though they were able to use powerful artifacts and work together in order to overcome obstacles, and it is now that you’re prompted to pursue which artifact to go for first: Aluneth, Felo’melorn or Ebonchill.

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Arcane – Aluneth, Greatstaff of the Magna

Aluneth was most notably wielded for a time by Aegwynn, the only female Guardian of Tirisfal, although stories indicate that it is far older than she. She is said to have found the staff roughly a century after she took up the mantle of Guardian, and to have wielded Aluneth in many battles against the Burning Legion. Several years before relinquishing her title, she retired the staff, but none know where she might have stored it.

Felstorm starts the search with the blue dragonflight, as the Kirin Tor entrusted the staff with them, fearing its unbridled power. Fortunately, the Kirin Tor have a blue dragon on their Council, so you’re told to meet with him at the Violet Citadel, along with taking some scrolls that Aegwynn used to bind the elemental Aluneth into the staff.

When you meet up with the blue dragon, he tells you that the staff was kept within the Nexus Vault and warns you that after the blue dragonflight was dissolved, the Nexus was all but abandoned – there’s no knowing what may be waiting for us down there. He instructs you to go to the Azure Dragonshrine to find out what’s happening within Coldarra since the end of the Nexus War.

When you get there, you find the area filled with void beings so you have to find clues as to what happened here. Ethereal portals, void-tainted blades on the corpses of focus wizards and void siphons placed where void energy was released when Malygos forced Azeroth’s ley lines into the Twisting Nether are all clues as to what’s happened at the shrine, before finding an ethereal communication device at the south-eastern corner of the shrine. It appears that to find out more we’re going to have to turn the device on!

Turning it on causes Nexus-Prince Bilaal to appear and tell you that you’re too late, that the powers within the Nexus Vault already widen the breach into the Twisting Nether, and that the Ethereum (remember these guys from TBC?) will be able to use this power to become void creatures themselves. Kalec tells you to scout out a few key locations in Coldarra and report back to him what you find.

The Ethereum have altered the Surge Needles and are tapping into the void energy caused by a rift that’s created underneath them, shielding the Nexus foundations, and inspecting the nexus building itself tells Kalec that the energy from Aluneth appears to be breaking free from the weakened vault. He formulates a plan to use the altered Surge Needles against the Ethereum. To begin with, you need to empower yourself with the unstable arcane energy around the foundation of the Nexus by either defeating the arcane aberrants around the area or siphoning the breaches of arcane energy.

Once you infuse yourself with enough energy, you turn into a disco ball of light, Kalec tells you to unleash that energy on the focused void underneath all three of the Surge Needles. When you do, Azuregos of all blue dragons senses your presence within Coldarra, and Kalec asks that you put an end to the ethereals within the vault and claim Aluneth for yourself, to free Azuregos from their grip.

When you enter, Azuregos tells you that the Ethereum have stolen anything of worth, and tells you to take the fight to them instead of taking the treasures straight from him. Nothing is ever simple these days, is it? Defeating the scions of fire, ice and magic releases Azuregos from the trap and will aid you in getting to the vault. Making your way through the Nexus, it becomes apparent that Aluneth is no longer fully contained and there are series of traps around the halls that would be harmful toward you if you happened to step in them. Blinking over arcane flood and avoiding the explosions will make light work of the instability as you fight your way through the Nexus.

When you reach the Librarium, Azuregos claims that Malygos broke the entrance to the vault when he breached the Twisting Nether during the Nexus Wars. Before you can continue to find another way into the vault, an echo of Aluneth appears and tries to kill you. After dealing with that, you continue through the Nexus to find another way into the vault – through the rift.

Since you last came here, it seems that the Ethereum have done some internal decorating by removing the bridge to the rift, so you ride atop Azuregos to make your way over to Nexus-Prince Bilaal, who has turned himself into a void revenant – similar to Xhul’horac in Hellfire Citadel’s void version. Once you defeat him, Azuregos can open a portal to the Nexus Vault and explains to you that you can only leave the vault with the weapon, you must first gain control over it.

Using the three scrolls Felstorm gave you at the start of your journey, you must place them in positions around the vault in order to calm the volatile arcane projections spinning around the room. The staff proceeds to insult you as you calm the energies around him, and claims you’re not as powerful as Aegwynn… Well no shit! She’s a Guardian! Still, you claim the staff as your own, and I’m sure it’ll carry on giving you sass throughout the expansion.

When you return to the Nexus, Azuregos congratulates you on acquiring the staff, thanks you for freeing him, and tells you that he will secure the Nexus to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands again. When you are done, he provides you with a portal back to Dalaran to notify Kalec of what’s happened, before you return to a now-rebuilt Hall of the Guardian, to begin your journey against the Legion in the Broken Isles.

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Fire – Felo’melorn

One of the more famous weapons on the list for mages, its history of wielders are still just as important as its frost and arcane counterparts. The Sunstrider dynasty have used this weapon against the Burning Legion back in the War of the Ancients, as well as against their adversaries in the Troll Wars before Kael’thas Sunstrider reforged it to be used against the Lich King and Frostmourne. Unfortunately the blood elf lost in the conflict, and was forced to leave the weapon behind in his retreat of the frigid wastes of Northrend.

Felstorm tells you that Archmage Modera has recently uncovered some information on the whereabouts of this artifact, where she tells you to meet with her at Dalaran Crater as her lead on the artifact is unable to enter the city of Dalaran. When you meet with her at the crater, Aethas Sunreaver, the betrayer of Dalaran at the Divine Bell incident during Mists of Pandaria, arrives to aid you and tells you of Lyandra Sunstrider’s quest to find Felo’melorn after Kael’thas’s betrayal. He tells you that after years of no contact, he decided to search for the blade when the Legion came knocking on our doorstep. He saw a vision of Lyandra with the weapon in hand, standing in front of Icecrown Citadel.

Sunreaver creates a portal for you to take you to Icecrown, to take the blade from Lyandra and warns you that she won’t relinquish it easily… And that the Lich King may bring some minions to prevent your access of the Citadel. As soon as you portal in, the Lich King senses you in his halls and sets you trials that you’ll have to pass in order to take the blade for your own. He threatens that if you fall, you will become a mindless minion of the Scourge… Seems Bolvar’s influence is working on the new Lich King!

Going through the first hallway you’re met with blocks of ice that break open when you walk near them, unleashing a geist on you, alongside some patrols to keep you occupied. The harder part of the trial is the miniboss at the end of the hallway constantly blowing winds down the hall in central or outer edge passages, constantly pushing you back while you fight your way through. Defeat the conjurer, and you’re met with a permafrost wall to destroy with your AoE abilities.

When you break through, Lyandra Sunstrider, now more clearly an agent of undeath, taunts you and tells you that if you try to take the blade, she will strike you down. You’re also met with a room that has falling chunks of ice that you have to navigate through, while AoEing packs of mobs and keeping away from those same ice blocks as before.

Eventually you will make your way to the Crimson Hall where you will find Lyandra waiting for you. She will send packs of burning undead at you before fleeing back further into the hall. You will fight against her for a small while before a fiery version of Marrowgar, named Gorewing, becomes reanimated. Aethas picks that moment to rejoin your effort in fighting against Lyandra and holds her at bay while you deal with Gorewing.

Once you’ve dealt with the flaming Marrowgar, Lyandra becomes targetable again and you can finish her off. When you do, the Lich King will congratulate you on your new weapon and tells you to leave, claiming that the living have no place within his citadel of ice. Claim your new weapon, and return to Dalaran with your floating orbs of fire in tow over your head… Now you can really RP like a Blood Mage! When you return, Aethas is under trial for his return to Dalaran, and after some discussion among the Council, is free to go – let’s hope he doesn’t have any ulterior motives to betray the Kirin Tor once more. You’re then prompted to return to the newly refurbished Hall of the Guardian to begin your journey into the Broken Isles.

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Frost – Ebonchill

Frost Mages get to use the staff of the first Guardian of Tirisfal, Alodi. You meet him during the introductory quests and appears in the manga as well as the Warcraft movie. When he stepped down from Guardian, he kept the staff until his dying day, and passed it onto his favourite apprentice and so on up until archmage Arrexis wielded it during the First War.

Being frost mages, apparently all we want to do is to study, so we must look through the stacks of books in the Hall of the Guardian for clues as to what happened to the fate of Arrexis. We learn of a Phantasm Zone, a prison dimension within a dimension that would fly through the Twisting Nether forever, with its occupant able to see out, but never escape – this occupant being Millhouse Manastorm’s father, Magnus Manastorm. A missive dating back to when the first mages were being taught magic by the high elves lies in one corner, though more interesting and related to Arrexis in another book we find out about an eredar lord named Balaadur, who convinces or forces archmages to enter tears in reality where he can finish them off and use their weapons as his own trophies.

A hint of Medivh’s corruption to Sargeras is in an old journal underneath a bookcase, where Arrexis speaks with the last Guardian about experiments made to bring up wards brought about droves of mana leeches, as well as mentioning the weakness of reality within Karazhan to Medivh. In a brief moment, Medivh had a strange smile when staring at the wards and telling Arrexis to continue with his ritual on the demonic realms.

Finally, we learn from an old scrap of paper that apparently his ritual was successful, but he and all his apprentices died. From what we learn, many of the Council also died, and they wanted no repeat of it, so scrubbed all records of Arrexis and his ritual – despite considering it an accident and failed experiment, with the death of other members in the Tirisgarde foul play was suspected. Someone named Daio was also sent packing for his part in the debacle, and mentions Balaadur as a key player within this experiment.

Telling Felstorm of what you’ve learned, linking Balaadur with Arrexis, and the new owner of Ebonchill, Felstorm suggests recreating the ritual to attract the eredar lord’s attention and attempt to ambush us. So we now have to head out to Karazhan to find and retrieve information, to the Blasted Lands to seek out Daio the Decrepit, and to go to the Bank of Dalaran to gain access to Alodi’s Mana Gems as we have no access to apprentices to fund extra mana for the ritual.

Heading to Alodi’s vault to begin with and you’ll find that guardian orbs are floating around exploding, so quickly dispatching them allows you to freely walk around the room for a few brief moments before they turn themselves back on. You can then take the portal in central Dalaran to Karazhan to begin the next two stages of finding out what the ritual was that Arrexis attempted. When you arrive at the camp, you find the place is overrun by arcane hunters and mana scavengers – clearly the ritual site is still infused with energy after all these years!

Grabbing a functional ward, you then can find the ritual notes a little further up the camp, which will then trigger Merina’s spirit who tells you to find the focus crystal near her corpse at the back of the camp. With focus crystal in your possession, we can go and seek out Daio the Decrepit, at the small part of the Taunted Scar in Blasted Lands that’s still desolate of life. He explains that the ritual caused Arrexis to be dragged screaming into the Nether and his entire cadre of mages to be slaughtered. It caused Daio to give up the arcane in pursuit of the fel to understand what happened and how to bring justice to Balaadur.

Daio is not particularly trusting of your ability to take on Balaadur and his minions, so summons demons of his own before joining your cause. When you’re successful, he gives you a demonic stone from Baladuur’s realm to attune the ritual to demonic energies. Returning to the Hall of the Guardian, you’re told to go somewhere highly visible to draw the attention of the eredar lord, so Faronaar, a Legion-entrenched area in Azsuna is suggested as the ritual site.

Once you land, you’re told to set up wards at key locations and then to go to the Altar of End Times to activate the ritual focus. Once you do, several waves of demons will attempt to stop you until you reach near-completion of powering the focus. When that happens, Balaadur will come for you and drag you into his realm, where you will fight one against one until either of you triumph. When you take him down, take Ebonchill as your own and head back through the portal to Faronaar, before taking another portal back to the Hall of the Guardian to find it all repaired, and for you to begin your journey into the Broken Isles.

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BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: World of Warcraft Q&A

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23:18: How will we find groups for the new Keystone dungeons? The plan is the group finder, guild and general social circles. Unused Keystones will be rare enough so that people will have things to do at the end of the week once all raid lockouts are spent.

Loot funneling for the world first race? No best way to stop it. Personal loot is an option, but overall wouldn’t be good for the rest of the game. They want us to roll an alt to have an alt, not to feed mains.

Will Nefarian in BWL have a new class call for Demon Hunters? Yes. Possibly linked to double jump.

What is the one thing you think people won’t notice but you think they should? Hunting down the new legendary items. UI improvements such as nameplates, cast bars etc – less requirement of addons. Animations for melee classes improved. Scaling levels of world mobs. Class accessories could be worked on better for WoD, but are now part of artifacts – in future we might see them when we leave artifacts behind? Talking head tech – lots more voiceovers in Legion than ever before! Overall goal of bringing 5man content back into the game as an important feature!

If you can mention it, your favourite artifact weapon? Developers give their opinions on their favourite weapons – Blood DK weapon, Ashbringer, Felo’melorn, Holy Priest weapon, Ashbringer again, Frost DK swords, and again, and the Eagle Spear for Survival Hunters.

Final question: Is Jaina a Dreadlord? No.

23:08: Are people locked into the weapons they get from artifacts? Yes, sort of. Dual wield is definitely going to be the theme for Frost DKs. You can transmog your artifacts to look like something else, but you can’t make other weapons look like artifacts.

Alliance character development without them dying or being lost? No… But any time something dies, they try to find ways to bring them back!

Language barrier still exists in Class Halls? Yes, but one exception will be that DHs can speak demonic cross faction.

In Legion, will we see alternate universe heroes? Just Gul’dan will be here, but TBD.

Will we see any more Gilneas? Genn plays a big part, and meet Gilneans that don’t get affected by the curse.

Will we see the final boss in the levelling experience or in the early dungeons/raids? Yes.

Do you plan to make raid finder and mythic flex size? It already is. Only change would be to invite friends to make it more difficult. For mythic raiding, flex would have way too many problems attached to it. 20 man will still be the standard with 12 classes to have enough moving cogs in raid design. Recruiting for guilds of any raid size can be a challenge, it was just more of a challenge to upgrade from 10 to 20, but keeping a healthy roster will be a challenge regardless.

Warlock tanks? No. Doesn’t fit the fantasy at the moment.

23:00: Is there any way to make old world material relevant for professions? Hard to implement because that will lead to having to hoard many items.

Will we get more lore on Worgen, Gnome, Forsaken, Tauren? Tauren-esque things in Highmountain, Forsaken lore coming up, Genn is a prominant player in Legion. Nothing for Gnomes. Tauren x Moose happy times!

Will there be more than one raid per tier in Legion? There’s two at launch, but they want to have varying environments for raids if it fits into the story well.

What if I don’t have time for the larger raids? There are tools in place to unlock shortcuts and have non-linear progression

Reforging? Not coming back. Maybe ONLY to versatility? Haha.

Events after Legion? Garrison will stay in Draenor, and artifacts may be the same for Legion – including the core gameplay mechanics that are the traits

Bad luck protection for rare items? Part of the coolness is how rare and how hard the items are to get. They don’t really want to touch them.

Where is the Dance Studio? In the new garrison under Tirisfal Glades. Something they want to do, but low priority.

22:49: Pre-orders for physical/digital copies? Same rules as before

Multirole classes and artifacts? People who play multiple specs will have a boost to their secondary weapons later on. In addition, catchup mechanics will be in place if you do quit and return halfway through the expansion. Relics won’t have this treatment however.

Three specs? Sure! Even if you’re a Druid, you can now quad-spec!

Why remove multistrike but not versatility? Multistrike for Blizz is just a different form of crit. Some classes have extra interaction to make it a viable stat (such as all tanks). PvP/tanks like versatility. Crit = burstier, Haste = faster, Mastery = do something more special, Versa = just pure extra damage/less damage taken.

Catchup for alts: repgrinds? In place for certain things such as legendary questline and artifacts. Part of the desire to have an alt is to start anew without having to create a new account altogether.

Any event like the AQ gates? No. Invasions will happen across Azeroth, but no plans for it so far.

Will Karazhan be relevant in Legion? Yes. A lot of secrets about the Burning Legion will be found in Karazhan… Teasing leak of a 5man in 7.1 from Chilton?

Where is Wrathion? He’s there. He has interest in Highmountain, where Neltharion’s Lair is. He might not look the same as he has done in previous expansions.

Will there be any more interesting mechanisms? Chequers event instead of Chess event! Haha

Battle for Undercity? No. (aww) It essentially was a scenario, just before scenario tech was there!

22:40: Are there any plans to improve guilds – housing/quests? Killing raid bosses = guild quests? I guess guild objectives already work toward this. They want to get people to be able to join multiple guilds and have multiple circles of friends!

Will there be a new PvP Battleground? No. Focus is on the new honor system for now.

Updates to old zones – Exodar etc? No planned changes.

What is protecting Dalaran on the Lost Isles? Dalaran has been upgraded dramatically – you’ll see in Legion what those are!

Do you have any plans to resolve open ends from Cataclysm? Yes. No time/date, but they’ll get around to it.

Won’t people running CMs only bring people with the best keystones to make it easier? All keystones are standardised, everyone will have the same combination of keystones.

When will the inventory system be updated – more bags for bank? Transmog will be overhauled to help in this.

Warriors – TG for Fury dead? No, the artifact is just too small, but they will be sized up. (does this mean death of SMF?)

Can we get a clear answer for the Legion transcending all realities? Find out in Legion! The Archimonde deal has a few kinks, but we’ll get a clear answer one or multiple Legions

More character slots? (sigh) One more slot per server!

Will Legion have new scenarios? Scenarios in Mists: no. But introducing scenarios that will be integrated into the world instead of pressing a UI button to join one while in town.

22:31: Jesse Cox is moderating the questions this year for the Q&A! This year things have been done differently: questions could be submitted in the Darkmoon Faire and online too!

Red Shirt Guy! Alleria and Turalyon – told they were returning, but weren’t told that orcs aren’t as bad so will they hate the Horde? No, but when we finally discover A+T, the way you view WoW will change (spooky?), so there’s amazing things in store.

Any hope of sub races, such as taunka? Sell the fantasy behind the races, then adding the extra customisable options. They want to, but don’t know how to implement it just yet – I guess Taunka can’t start in Mulgore?

Community – cross guild chat and calendar events? Something that they can’t do for launch, but want to do later on to provide cross-server chat etc.

Will the flying in Lost Isles achievement be able to be done at launch? Not completable, but you can start progress for it from launch

Bolvar Fordragon? Small cameo for Bolvar (I guess for the DK artifact experience?)

Will there be more cosmetic class quests, such as green fire? Yes/no/maybe. There are already class quests with artifacts and class halls. More of a focus this expansion but nothing like green fire.

Shared tap system on TI, introduced for older content for rares/bosses? Taking a step further, revolutionising how tapping works – for quest mobs in general you can have up to 5 people tap a mob, quest bosses will still have fully open taps.

Expansions every year or two? Still a goal, not sure when it will happen to have annual expansions. Quality over speed is priority.

22:30: Judging by how the Q&A’s went last night with just 10 minutes or so of questions and answers, I’m hoping the questions here have been pre-vetted to make sure that the questions are worth the time as well being easy to understand. Here I’ll be doing ~5-10min updates for groups of questions and answers, so relax your F5 key for this next hour!

Over on the panel stage, they’re looking more into the other mainstay of fanmade content – machinimas! Though I believe it’s more Blizzard’s own artists rather than the community’s, they’ll discuss how they create animated stories using in-game character models, environments and other art.

Stay Frosty! Jaina is Brought into the Nexus!

Between Warlords of Draenor, BlizzCon and other real life commitments, I haven’t had much opportunity to sit down and play Heroes recently, however this week I’ve managed to sit down and get a few games in – and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Jaina Proudmoore, Ruler of Theramore, has been introduced to the game shortly after getting showcased at BlizzCon, and she’s certainly shattered her way into being a quick favourite amongst many people!

For those that haven’t played Warcraft, the Jaina we see in Heroes is at a time between Warcraft III and the events of Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War – that is, while she still has her golden hair and as seen in the trailer above, we can assume that Theramore stands under her leadership. For more information about her, check out her lore article on Wowpedia as there’s simply too much to sum up here. She is an accomplished Mage that usually dabbles in all forms of arcane magic, though in Heroes focuses more on frost, rather than fire or arcane schools of magic. As such, she is a bit of a glass cannon when it comes to her assassin role in Heroes of the Storm (think even squishier than Nova or Valla) and really comes into play in team fights to control the fight and pick off anyone who’s bitten more than they can chew.

As always, please remember that while writing this article, Heroes of the Storm is in technical alpha, and especially when the hero is new we may find that some parts of this spotlight may be old or outdated in the near future as balance occurs.

Jaina_proudmoore_by_tamplierpainter-d46e6keAbilities

Frostbite_IconTrait – Frostbite: All abilities Chill targets, slowing Movement Speed by 25% and amplifying damage from your abilities by 50%. Lasts 4 seconds.

The bread and butter of Jaina’s arsenal. All of her casted abilities will Chill targets, which makes her chasing potential skyrocket for enemies she catches out. They most likely won’t escape, especially in late-game when she can spam Frostbolt every 2 seconds, so this also encounters a problem for Jaina players – if anyone’s caught by her, they either face trying to kite and juke or they’ll just turn around and smack her in the face. With a lack of escape options, you have to be good at the kiting game yourself or else you’ll get caught out and sent to the fountain.

Despite the lack of escape in her basic abilities, she’s great at solo laning at the start of games largely because she can just chill any enemies coming toward her and hide behind the gates, and her Blizzard and Cone of Cold abilities can quickly decimate creep waves coming her way.

Frostbolt_Icon[Q] Frostbolt: 30 Mana – Cooldown: 4 seconds  Deal 60 (+ 16) damage and Chill the target.

A heavy single target nuke, though with the cooldown being 4 seconds at untalented and Chill lasting 4 seconds, when you’re not doing your shatter combo you want to follow up with Frostbolts after your other attacks. It is a skillshot that will stop on the first target it hits, be it creeps, heroes or buildings, so unless you’re great at threading the needle it is something to take into account when you go for your combos that generally, people will be hiding to save themselves from potential nukes.

As such, there may be many cases, such as the shatter combo, where opening up with the Frostbolt is going to be the better option so that once you get the surprise hit in, the rest of your attacks can hit without worry about where they’re standing (unless it’s out of range).

Blizzard_Icon[W] Blizzard: 75 Mana – Cooldown: 15 seconds – Bombard an area with 2 waves of ice, dealing 40 (+15) damage each. Damaged enemies are Chilled.

A wave clearer, but also great at grabbing escaping targets, this ability has more often than not granted my team kills from heroes that thought they were going to get away with it. Not always from the damage itself, but more because of the Chill it brings, allowing us to catch up and take the kill. Do note that the first wave will Chill a target, so if you can position it to hit a target twice, that second wave will crit.

Cone_of_Cold_Icon[E] Cone of Cold: 50 Mana – Cooldown: 10 seconds – Deal 40 (+13) damage and Chill targets.

A quick nuke that is a short-range cone, I can never help but feel this ability could use some kind of buff to make it more worthwhile. Currently it’s mainly used to help clear creep waves and jungle camps, or to get that last nuke off if you find yourself in melee range. Similarly, it’s a quick nuke to get off so that you can escape if needs be if you get jumped. Overall however, I just feel that Cone of Cold is too small a cone and requires your enemies to be where you don’t want to be in order to make it useful.

It’s certainly a nice addition to the shatter combo however, and I can’t think of many other iconic frost mage abilities that would help in this light. Maybe a Frost Nova for control? Frozen Orb?

Ring_of_Frost_Icon[R1] Ring of Frost: 70 Mana – Cooldown: 100 seconds – After a short delay, create a Ring of Frost at target location that deals 680 (224 + 24 per level) damage and roots enemies for 3 seconds. The ring persists for 3 seconds afterward, Chilling any enemies who touch it.

The first heroic ability available to Jaina players is the Ring of Frost. Noticeably as annoying as the WoW version, with a massive amount of damage tied to it, it’s certainly my preferred talent in not just the shatter combo style of play, but just in general. Especially on maps where chokepoints are abundant, Ring of Frost will create so much space for your team in that enemies are just stopped in their tracks as soon as they see it coalescing, it’s hard to pick the Water Elemental over this.

As much as the name implies it, please realise that the damage and root only applies to those hit by the actual RING of Frost, rather than the entire AoE inside the cast area. You can improve the talent at level 20 to make the ring pulse again for the area inside the ring, but the AoE is roughly the same size as Blizzard in that regard.

Summon_Water_Elemental_Icon[R2] Summon Water Elemental: 75 Mana – Cooldown: 80 seconds – Summons a Water Elemental at target location, dealing 170 (56 + 6 per level) damage and Chilling nearby enemies. The Water Elemental’s Basic Attacks splash for 25% damage and Chill.

The second of Jaina’s heroics was the one I was more excited about to try out at BlizzCon, and was a little sad that it was the level 2 ability that you had to unlock after a game or two once she was available to play at home. However, upon playing both talents live, I’m really feeling that this one, albeit the “cool” option (no pun intended) is very lackluster in my opinion. Like Jaina, it’s also very squishy, and you can’t rely on games lasting until level 20 to make it mediocre enough to be viable over Ring of Frost and/or Bolt of the Storm.

That being said, he can be useful for helping Jaina jungle, or to tank creep waves for her. In team fights however, the elemental will likely just get targeted and nuked down too quickly for how long that cooldown is.

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Talents

First of all, I’d like to preface this with the fact that I love what Blizzard have done with Jaina’s talents. If you needed any extra flavour carried over from WoW in terms of frost mages, this is where to find it. With talents like Icy Veins, Frost Armor, Arcane Intellect, Ice Lance, etc I do wonder if Blizzard will carry this theme onto other heroes like Thrall bringing Shaman abilities over as talents.

In this overview, I’m going to focus mainly on the shatter combo, as I believe this is the most fun way to play Jaina in her assassin role. There may be small discrepancies between talents depending on battleground or team comps, but overall this is my general build for most games.

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At the start of the game, you want to be starting off with Winter’s Reach. The only other talent worth potentially getting is Conjurer’s Pursuit, but that’s only when you’re not comfortable with your regen and don’t know when it’s best to run back to fountain or moon well. Improving your trait isn’t as great in this tier because Lingering Chill is pretty much obsolete – all your spells Chill in any case so making it last longer won’t do much. For Deep Chill, if your enemies are getting away from you at 25% speed, you’re probably better off mounting up and chasing for a new chill anyway, or leaving to gank/push elsewhere. You’ll likely have other heroes in your team capable of slowing enemies baseline or have access to Shrink Ray.

The extra range on Frostbolt will help in Jaina’s biggest weakness – being caught out in a bad place. Winter’s Reach will help scout bushes and get initiations done at a safer distance for Jaina to be at, and to turn around if things turn sour.

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At level 4, you’re going to be unfortunate in that you’ll have to have Jaina fully unlocked to get the full shatter combo out. Envenom is hands-down the best talent in the tier, allowing you to rot down anyone still standing after your combo and finish off the kill.

Arcane Intellect again is a fairly good choice, similar to Conjurer’s Pursuit, if you just have the advanced talents as it will keep you on the field longer and allows more constant pressure outside of your combo.

For level 1/2 Jaina’s, both Frost Shards and Snowstorm aren’t great talents to pick up, as it largely requires your enemies to have bad awareness. The targets for your shatter combo are preferably squishies, so Frost Shards could be a good pickup for those hiding behind creeps/Warriors until you get access to Envenom.

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Jaina’s of all levels have access to the best talent in this tier for her shatter combo – Frostbitten! As for the alternatives in the tier, Ice Floes isn’t too great because it upgrades Cone of Cold to not be too much better than it’s already used for. Enemies aren’t going to be clumped up enough to make the talent worthwhile.

For Frost Armor, it’s ok for kiting but the second part of the talent isn’t great. The damage could proc off of a low damage hero like Li Li and then let the full damage of a Nova hit you. The block mechanic is great on Warriors that are designed to take hits, but you don’t want to be taking many if any hits on Jaina at all.

Ice Lance is a fairly nice chasing/kiting tool, but it requires enemies to not be juking your skillshots, and requires the target to already be Chilled. For the shatter combo to work, you’ll be opening with Frostbolt anyway so Ice Lance’s utility is reduced significantly, especially in comparison to picking up the damage bonus of your trait.

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As explained above in the abilities overview, Ring of Frost is the best pickup here between the two, especially for the shatter combo. At level 20 the Wintermute talent may make the Water Elemental worth it, but it involves the game lasting until level 20 to make your mid-game talent useful. Plus, if you die then you can no longer direct your Elemental to go to places or kill specific targets – on top of the elemental itself being squishy. At least with Ring of Frost you’re almost guaranteed to get it’s full effects whenever you cast it.

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Level 13 has the most choice in the talents of any tier. If you’re winning, go for Icy Veins without a doubt. It’ll reduce the cost of your combo to allow you to continue pressure afterwards. If you’re losing, you may want to consider Improved Ice Block or Sprint – the former if your enemies will still be able to catch up to you or CC you when you’re attempting to escape with Sprint.

Storm Front isn’t the best of talents for the tier, you don’t really need the extra range on Blizzard, only if people are running away from you. Otherwise you don’t want to state your intentions early with it, and it’ll be on cooldown for the shatter.

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The level 16 talents include one of the more important aspects of the combo, and actually makes Cone of Cold useful. Northern Exposure is what makes the shatter combo reminiscent of the frost mage combo – you have two seconds to make sure all your damage hits, AND it stacks with Envenom too.

Snow Crash isn’t worth it in a non-AI game. There’s an AoE on the floor even before the first wave goes down. Most people leave by the second, and if they’re still there by the third… Get out of that MMR! For Numbing Blast, it requires to be clumped up after getting hit by a Blizzard for it to work properly, or you can root someone for a second to try and gain some distance. Ice Barrier isn’t too bad of a survival talent during team fights, but with better positioning you shouldn’t have too much need for this talent.

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The final choice again isn’t really much of a choice. I don’t really know why Swift Storm is here on Jaina, perhaps for lack of use for the other Storm abilities – she doesn’t do enough auto attack damage for Fury; she’s an assassin and they don’t seem to be targets to get Resurgence; and Shield is usually reserved to support. Bolt and Swift would have to be the ones that make the most sense for Jaina in that regard, though again I don’t see any scenario where Swift will be useful over anything else in late-game.

I haven’t had a game last long enough to test Wintermute properly, so I can’t vouch for or against it for the moment, but between Cold Snap and Bolt of the Storm, I’d have to say I prefer Bolt in any situation. Used offensively or defensively to get into correct positions, this can either save your skin or make someone else have a bad time.

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Shatter Combo

I’ve mentioned the shatter combo a few times this article, and I guess I’d better explain myself here, now that we know what toolkit is available to Jaina. As we know, she’s a bit of a glass cannon and can control large zones of the fight extremely well. With this in mind, we can almost recreate a shatter combo like we see in WoW from frost mages – tons of damage in an extremely short space of time. At level 20 you’ll be dealing around 2/3 of a Warrior’s health in just a few seconds, so you can see how much you can remove from the fight and send your foes to the fountain.

It’s 5 abilities in total that you’ll be hitting in just a couple of seconds, so the combo is quick and hard, but practice will make perfect. The combo is as follows:

  1. Start off with a Frostbolt to apply the Frostbite debuff, this is the hardest to hit spell if your foes are hiding behind creeps, so it’s easy to work out if you can continue the combo or not right here.
  2. Follow it up with a Ring of Frost
  3. As soon as the animation starts on the Ring of Frost, cast Blizzard.
  4. Before the first wave of Blizzard lands and the Ring of Frost finishes coalescing, hit Cone of Cold to apply Northern Exposure to increase their damage taken by 25%
  5. Finish up with Envenom to rot them down.

That’s the shatter combo in a nutshell! As I said, practice does make perfect, so if you want to try it out against Arthas a few times in try mode, by all means go for it – being in such close range to get the Cone of Cold to hit makes it high risk, high reward so you don’t want to get your timing’s off or else it’ll be YOUR team in a 4v5 situation.