I have to preface this with the obvious warning – I haven’t played in the beta.  I haven’t played in the PTR.  Hell, I haven’t played in live in forever and a day.  This series is compiled purely on my intuition, and a smidgen of research.  As I have a minimal depth of knowledge of the other trees, my choices in talents there could be very questionable.  There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of information floating around on the interwebs about Warlocks in Cataclysm (perhaps because there is a lot of discontent with the state of the class currently, but I am not really qualified to comment on that, being that I haven’t been playing and all!)

So.  With the arrival of Patch 4.0 staring us in the face, I am sure we are all asking ourselves ‘What the fricking hell am I going to do when my talents reset?’  Which, of course, is a damned good question.

Cataclysm and 4.0 bring us the most drastic overhaul to talent trees I have ever seen.  With a mass culling of talents, the introduction of ‘masteries’, and a different way to approach talents, the game is looking very different.  But, of course, you knew all this already.  So let’s get down into the nitty gritty.

Talent trees info

Affliction: Shadow Mastery grants you a lovely 25% increase to Shadow damage.  Certainly nothing to scoff at. At 80, you are able to train into your Mastery: Potent Afflictions (no link available, alas), which also increases all periodic shadow damage by 13.04% at level 80, increasing by 1.63% with each point you gain in Mastery.

Demonology: Demonic Knowledge grants you a 15% increase to Fire and Shadow spell damage.  Your Mastery: Master Demonologist, Increases damage done by your demons and by yourself in demon form by 12% at level 80.  This increases by 1.5% per point.

Destruction: Cataclysm (see, Destro is so damned awesome that the name of the expansion is in our talent tree!) increases fire damage by a shiny 25%.  Our Mastery: Firey Apocalypse, increases all fire damage by 10% at level 80, increasing by 1.25% per point.

While the above are interesting to consider, they don’t actually help you much in the way of choosing a tree to follow.  I can’t make a substantive judgement at this point to say which tree is shaping up to be the best damage in Cataclysm, and (unless I am blind, which is very likely), there is little around on EJ or other sites to suggest which is most viable at the moment.  I would say to go with the playstyle you are most comfortable and happy with for the remainder of Wrath, operating on the (perhaps foolish) assumption that each of the specs will be more than viable for end game raiding at this point.  Preliminary speculation suggests that Affliction is the strongest tree, with Destruction being a close second (Affliction edges us out with their Execute) and Demonology being third (which I personally find to be rather disappointing).

A breakdown of the talent trees and glyph choices will be published over the next few days.  As each post is published, I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post for future reference.  I more than welcome any criticisms or queries on any of the following – I know that my research is bound to be flawed, and I’d love to be able to fix errors!

4.0 Destruction Derby: Guide to speccing for Destruction ‘Locks

All About Affliction: Guide to speccing for Affliction ‘Locks

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I have the mobile armory on my iPhone, but I’ll readily admit I almost never make use of it.  I don’t know too many people who play WoW, so I don’t do the whole ‘Hey, check my toon out!’ thing.  Hell, even if I did know a heap of people, I still wouldn’t do that.  I don’t bother looking up other people, because I have no real reason to.

However, I was lying in bed last night, and I was bored, so I thought I’d have a little poke around and see what it did (especially since there was an update!)  I didn’t find any fun new features, but I did find out some interesting information.

Turns out, I haven’t done anything meaningful on my Warlock in three months.  Three months ago, I got a Frost Emblem.  That is the last thing I can see in my activity feed.

Which, to me, sounds about right.  I quit playing my 80’s just before the new raid came out.  I just didn’t realise it was that long ago.

I also haven’t logged in to the game at all in a month.  Which is actually really terrible, and means I’ve been neglecting my guild, as well as an awful lot of other things (see: this blog).  I keep telling myself that I’ll play more when my desktop is functional again, but I think that’s just an excuse.  A few months ago, I would have been repairing my desktop the minute it died.  I wouldn’t let it sit there, broken, for a month.  I wouldn’t let my WoW account lie there, untouched, for a month.  I’d be on, I’d be trying to recruit, I’d be working on getting my alt to 80, I’d be working on keeping my Warlock at least somewhat up to date.

Now? Nothing.

I know I’m a little disenchanted with the whole game.  Heaven knows a break may have been a good thing.  But, you can’t just take time off when you have some level of responsibility.  The responsibility to be seen, the responsibility to be organising stuff, the responsibility to be around when people need you or want something.

I sound like an utter lunatic just for thinking this stuff, I’m sure.  I should put aside some of the things I have been spending my time on (futile chasing after a guy?  Excessive socialising [read: drinking]?  Re-reading every book on my bookshelf?) so that I can get back in the game and do all the crap I am meant to be doing.  My non-WoW playing friends would think I was insane, and no doubt some of you do as well.

I guess the big question here is, just how much of a space in your life should the game have?  I know this isn’t the first time I’ve grappled with this, and it won’t be the last.  How much should I push life aside for the game?  When is it OK to say, no, sorry, I don’t want to do that because I want to work on my video game?

All I know is, I’m going to log in today, see what the hell is left of my guild, and begin working on it again.  And pray that not everyone wants to kill me for mysteriously disappearing for so long.

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I’ve forgotten how long it was between levels when you hit 70. Between 50 – 70 it was very easy for me to gain 2 or 3 levels per day. Now in Northrend I find myself going 2 or 3 days between leveling. I forgot how much Blizzard nerfed the experience requirements for all the pre-Wrath levels. However, I’m not really minding it all too much because questing through Northrend is pretty damn fun. Today I’m going to take a look back at the leveling experience and see how it compared to BC and Vanilla.

I absolutely hated leveling in Burning Crusade. Hellfire Peninsula was a barren waste land that sapped the energy right out of me. It felt like an absolute chore leveling through that area and the first time through almost ruined the game for me. I never really felt engaged at all while leveling and the constant abuse I got from max level Horde players did not help in the least. Hellfire being the only place for level 60 characters to quest made it a gankers paradise until the introduction of the Isle of Quel’Danas. Another chief complaint I heard from players who were around at the start of the expansion was that the huge volume of players each vying for the same quest mobs or quest items made leveling a cut throat experience. It was dog eat dog on the road to level 70.

The quest designers at Blizzard learned their lesson and Wrath of the Lich King brought with it to two unique starting zones. By not having the entire player base funneled into one starting area, the competition for quest mobs was drastically reduced which resulted in a much calmer leveling experience. The other benefit of having two starter zones was that if one of the zones was currently populated with griefers, you could make your way over to the other zone and continue with your leveling. Score a win here for Wrath.

My other chief complaint about leveling in BC is that I never really felt involved in the storyline. Aside from a handful of quests, it didn’t really seem as if I was taking the fight to the Burning Legion or to Illidan. It wasn’t until Shadowmoon Valley and the Akama quests that I even remember seeing anything about Illidan and by that point I was already close to level 70. Unlike in BC, the quest chains in Wrath got you involved with the main story lines right from the get go. In the Borean Tundra, one of the two starter zones, you get involved in a quest line that leads you face to face with the Lich King. By the end of the Thassarian quest chain in Borean, I was completely hooked. And it only got better from there. the pinnacle of questing in Wrath may have been the chain of events leading up to what unfolded at the Wrathgate. That was the first time I could honestly say I was blown away by an event in game. Personally, I was never bored while questing in Northrend nor did I ever find it to be a chore. Each new zone promised a new and exciting story arc with quest chains that helped build upon them. From the Worgen in Grizzly Hills to Freya in Sholazar Basin, there was always something new to explore.

For me, Wrath hit a home run in the leveling department. Some folks complained that they saw Arthas way too much and were kind of burnt out on him by the end of the expansion. I whole heatedly disagree. His presence and subsequent defeats made it feel as if I really were an important cog in the fight against the Scourge. And it was certainly a vast improvement over the invisible Illidan. The best part of leveling in Wrath however, was that it continued to improve the more we progressed into the expansion. Later patches would add Heirloom items that could be passed onto lower level characters to improve the early leveling experience and they would also introduce the Dungeon Finder tool, making it much simpler to find a group for an instance run. Overall, I was extremely happy with the changes Blizzard made to the leveling game in Wrath and I’m looking forward to what changes they have in store for us come Cataclysm.

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So late Tuesday afternoon, it finally happened. I reached my next major milestone on my journey to discover the ways of the Warlock. I finally hit level 70!

Gingerlei hits 70

Hooray for me! Looking back, I can honestly say that I’ve had a really good time leveling this character. I love this class and I’m really enjoying every minute of playing my little warlock. It’s to the point where I would almost rather give up raiding on my other toons to focus solely on leveling my Warlock. I must admit this is rather surprising for me since I have always considered myself in WoW to be a Boomkin before anything else. Now, realistically, I couldn’t give up raiding even if I wanted to. I’m the Raid Leader for my little 10 man guild and right now I’m in charge of training a bunch of new recruits and dragging them through ICC in the hopes of reforming a progression group for Cataclysm.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Druid. She has been my main for the entirety of my WoW career and may very well still be for Cata, but this whole Warlock thing is really giving me a reason to reconsider. I’ve been reading through a lot of the information coming out of the Beta and the PTR and I’m not digging what I’m seeing for Boomkins. I keep reminding myself that it’s still only Beta, and a lot could change between now and then, but the luster has come off a bit for me. Meanwhile, I’m absolutely loving the play style of Warlocks, specifically Affliction and the changes I’ve seen from the Beta have me even more excited about the class. If you’ve been through this type of thing before, I’d love to hear your story in the comments.

P.S. Seed of Corruption is the greatest spell ever! I can’t begin to describe the pure level of awesome this spell is and how giddy it makes me to seed spam my way to the top of the DPS meters on AOE trash pulls. Doing more damage than the rest of the group combined on trash is just pure freakin win!

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It’s been a while guys.  I’ve been stupid amounts of busy, my desktop is still mildly borked (totally repairable, just a matter of time, a commodity I have none of nowadays!), and I’ve been pursuing other, um, interests, as those of you who follow me on Twitter may or may not know.

As we all know, it’s getting closer and closer to expansion time.  Almost time to make decisions about which toons to keep, which to put on the backburner, and which to forget forever.  Now, I’m not going to tell you that you should most definitely play a Warlock in Cataclysm (even if I think they are really damned awesome and most anyone should enjoy them).  I am going to tell you that you should play the character that you know is you.  The one that, deep down inside your bones, you identify with and love.

I love playing my Druid and Hunter.  I really enjoy them.  They are great fun, they let me change it up a bit, and I get to experiment.  But they aren’t my Warlock.  She fits me like another skin.  Or maybe I fit her.  I can not touch her for months, but when I load her up and get rolling, it’s like rediscovering an old friend.

Your main should feel like an extension of yourself.  I might be (OK, I am most likely) psychotic, but my Warlock just makes me grin, and smile, and immediately think nasty awful thoughts of killing bunnies and roasting babies.  There is nothing wrong with any of that, by the way.  I can play her with my eyes closed most of the time, and if I really feel up to the effort, I can turn her into an almost unstoppable killing machine.  My alts?  Yeah, they’re fun… but they aren’t me.  They are like some sick twisted experiment that someone stitched on to me, and they just don’t ever feel quite natural.  Playing my Hunter is like wearing someone else’s pants: they might fit, they might look awesome, but damn it if they don’t give me a wedgie every so often.

So, when you choose who you stick with in WoW?  Choose the toon you love, choose the one who is as much a part of you as you are of them.  And if you don’t have a character like that?  Maybe it’s about time you found one!

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The end of Wrath is just about here and most of us are tying up a few loose ends in preparation for Cataclysm. For some this may be finishing off some last raid achievements and for others it could be getting an alt to 80 so that you can switch mains come the expansion. With the end of the expansion rapidly approaching, I thought it might be fun (if not entirely over done) to look back at Wrath of the Lich King from a couple of different angles and see what I did and did not like about it. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the new dungeons and that shipped with the expansion and at the change in philosophy they brought with them.

Anyone who played WoW during the Burning Crusades expansion should be very familiar with the bulk of instances we had to play with. From Hellfire Ramparts to Magister’s Terrace, I think it’s safe to assume we all spent a good deal of time in each and every one of those instances. In my opinion, it was probably too much time. I remember on more than one occasion spending upwards of two hours in any one BC instance due to the size and complexity of the trash mobs within. I absolutely dreaded running those dungeons and I was left with such a bad impression of them that I flat out refused to run a single one when I leveled my Death Knight through Outlands. Having to spend an hour in an instance carefully orchestrating trash pulls for little to no reward was not my idea of a good time. This is to say nothing of having to run an instance multiple times on regular mode to grind the faction reputation necessary to unlock heroic modes. Needless to say, instancing in Burning Crusades required a crazy amount of time commitment.

Wrath of the Lich King saw a totally different approach to dungeons. While at first, many of us were indeed taking the time to mark targets and organize crowd control, it would not be long before each instance would become an AOE pullfest that could be completed in under half an hour. Dungeons in Wrath were drastically smaller than the ones in BC. Even if a group were to take the time to organize crowd control, a Wrath instance could be completed in half the time of one in BC. For those of us with limited opportunities to play, this was a very welcome change. It became very possible for some folks to log on during their lunch breaks and crank out a quick five man dungeon. This also made it possible for small groups of friends to run multiple instances in one night and experience a variety of different environments.

This not to say that instancing in Wrath was not without its faults. As I alluded to earlier, once you got past a certain gear level there was very little thought involved in clearing a dungeon. Grab yourself an over geared tank, have him grab up every mob in sight, then fire up your AOE. Repeat a few more times and the dungeon is cleared. Many veterans were left wanting more of a challenge out of the dungeons and had to wait until patch 3.3 and the introduction of the Icecrown dungeons to get their fix. Wrath also brought us one of the most hated instances in the history of WoW with The Oculus. The Oculus was so hated in fact, that Blizzard had to introduce additional rewards at the end of the instance just to keep the majority of players from dropping the group should they have had the misfortune of being placed into it using the dungeon finder tool.

Give me the choice of which expansions dungeons to run and I’ll pick Wrath’s everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. Wrath had easily the most visually appealing dungeons in the game to date. I still get all wide eyed at all the beautiful Celtic and Norse imagery in the Utgarde Keep and Utgarde Pinnacle. The introduction of achievements gave me a reason to continue running the same dungeons over and over despite out gearing and not needing badges from them. Cataclysm looks to build on everything I feel Blizzard did right by dungeons and improve upon them. There have been numerous posts from the developers about toning down AOE and bringing back the crowd control element into dungeon runs. Should Blizzard be able to find the right balance between the strategy of Burning Crusades and the speed of Wrath of the Lich King, I would consider dungeons in Cataclysm to be a huge success.

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I don’t care when Cataclysm comes out.

I don’t care what happens in it.

I don’t care if it is all new and shiny and everything in between.

Why?

Because I am already sick to death of hearing about it.

Today, I unsubscribed to almost every single WoW blog I read.  You in the beta?  I don’t read you anymore.  You talking about stuff that’s in the beta, or the PTR, or anything else?  Sorry, on the hit list.  I’m sticking my head in the sand and waiting for this to all pass me by.

I realised I was having a bit of a weird reaction to the plethora of beta news that’s floating around when I had a rather snippy reaction to someone today.  “Have you seen the awesome lock changes?” they ask me.  “No, don’t know, don’t care!” I growled.  Wait, what?  Since when do I not care what is happening to Warlocks?  Since when do I not care whether things are good or lame or what have you? Well… since people started nattering on about it constantly.

There’s only ever been one real reason why I’ve been excited about Cataclysm coming out, and that was because I thought Wrath was a stinking pile of felhunter poop.  Anything to get away from the expansion that I have had so much difficulty enjoying.  I don’t care about what is actually happening in Cataclysm, so long as it’s more interesting than Wrath.  I don’t much care about class mechanics at this point, so long as they come out OK in the end.  Stuff gets changed, and changed, and changed again before it makes it to live, so I’m not going to bother my pretty little head about it now.  Sure, it may be exciting to some, but at this point… it’s kinda like having a friend narrate the whole plot of a movie to me without me being able to watch it.  And yeah, I know I could download the PTR and poke around, but I can’t be bothered.  Which is how WoW seems to be affecting a heck of a lot of people these days.  I should really make a new character and call it Bartleby, because that’s who I most resemble with my current attitude to WoW, Cataclysm, and blogging about it in general.

Yep, I’m suffering ‘Cataclysm: DILIGAF’ syndrome.  How about you?  Excited, or just plain over it already?

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A few quick observations for you guys on this lovely, and I use that word loosely, Monday morning. The leveling grind from 50 – 70 has gone relatively quick. Much quicker than I remember the first two times I’ve done it. The dungeon finder has been an absolute wonder for leveling. From 50 to about 58 or so I would just pop into the queue and roam around Western or Eastern Plaguelands finishing up quests until it was time to hop into a dungeon. In my battlegroup the wait for a dungeon as DPS could take upwards of 30 minutes, but it’s not so bad when you’re actively doing something else. Taking the time to do quests between dungeons, I would average two or three dungeons per level.

I really enjoyed questing through both EPL and WPL. For me it was fun because you’re it’s the first chance you’re given to take the fight to the scourge. Also, it proved to be a very nice source for runecloth and allowed me to crank up my tailoring skill in a huge way. The first couple of times I leveled, I did the 55-60 grind in Silithus and I gotta say EPL and WPL was much more entertaining and felt a lot less soul crushing. Not to mention no having to listen to that awful buzzing noise was a very nice perk. There is also an interesting quest chain that begins with current scourge killing badass, Tirion Fordring. You can find him hanging out in Eastern Plaguelands near the river that marks the boundary between it and the Western Plaguelands. It’s a cool little look at the man who would someday hold the Ashbringer and lead the fight into Icecrown Citadel. Worth checking out if you’re in the area.

The dungeon finder tool provided a nice little break from all the questing and was a fantastic source of experience. One thing I noticed in a lot of these dungeons is the rather large quantity of idiotic Deathknight tanks. I understand the allure of the class being that I have one myself. The thing that really drew me to it was being able to start at 58 and skip that horrific leveling grind. And it’s really great that you can tank on your new DK and get instant queues in the dungeon finder. But is it really THAT hard to take 10 minutes before you queue for a dungeon to research a proper spec for your Death Knight? Yes all three talent trees make for very viable tanks, but there are key talents in each tree that you need to pick up to be a successful tank. Please don’t be that guy and queue as a tank in your DPS spec. You’ll make everyone’s lives that much simpler if you just invest a few minutes of time into picking up a proper tanking spec. Even if you can’t be bothered to take an honest to goodness tanking spec, for the love of my freaking sanity, make sure you’re at least in FROST PRESENCE.

One last thing I discovered this weekend while leveling is that the Alterac Valley Battleground Weekend freaking rocks. Even if you don’t really dig PVP, you really should give it a try. You will gain obscene amounts of experience during AV. All it takes is a few victories per level to gain you a level and since the queue is relatively short due to the large amount of people taking part coupled with the fact that it’s a 40 man BG you could easily gain a couple of levels an hour. It’s also a good opportunity to try out some PVP and get a feel for it. I find AV to be the easiest on folks new to PVP since you can just move with the pack and not feel as if you’re being too big of a drag on the team for not really knowing what you’re doing. Definitely easier to hide in the crowd in AV as opposed to say Warsong Gulch.

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In my quest to get my warlock to 80, I had the distinct pleasure of spending a lot of time leveling through Stranglethorn Vale. A lot of people who play on PvP servers are probably calling me crazy right now, and they’re probably right, however it is one of my favorite zones in all of WoW. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and there is a good variety of quests to keep you entertained. Best of all, most of the quests keep you firmly in the zone. The biggest drawback to questing in Stranglethorn, especially on PvP servers, is the near constant threat of being ganked.

Personally, I have never understood the appeal of ganking. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some good PvP as much as the next guy but that’s just it. I enjoy GOOD PvP. I like the idea of going up against other players of your level and matching wits and blades in open combat. I like knowing that if I’m not at the top of game there is a very real chance that I will get my ass handed to me. It’s that knowing that drives me to improve and excel as a PvPer. Ganking doesn’t provide any of that. Ganking is the absolute antithesis of that.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, ganking is the act of killing another player multiple levels below your own. This is a very popular past time for a lot of players at max level and many enjoy targeting players between levels 20 – 40. Often times these max level characters will kill their prey in just one attack. Here is where my analogy of squishing a bug comes into play. Most people will kill bug that is annoying them without thinking. It’s quick and effortless to kill a bug. A lot of us don’t feel any remorse for doing, heck we usually don’t feel anything at all. It’s just something you do and just as quickly forget about it.

Gankers are different. Gankers are that mean little kid, sitting on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass burning ants alive. They relish in playing God over these little creatures and delight in watching them burn. In game, they’re the max level characters laying siege to Southshore or Stranglethorn for no other reason than that they enjoy lording over those who can’t do anything about it. Most days, I couldn’t go an hour in Stranglethorn on my warlock without getting wailed on by someone with too much time on their hands and too little to do.

Most times you just have to shrug it off and keep going on about your business. But sometimes, you’ll get that one guy who just manages to push your buttons and drive you absolutely bonkers. It was a mage oddly enough that finally made me snap. I was mounted up, making my way over to the Rebel Camp to turn in some quests when I passed the mage on the road. He was on foot helping a buddy of his kill some trolls for another quest as I passed. I kept on, thinking I was in the clear when I took a frostbolt to the back and died instantly. This guy saw me, mounted up, and followed me for a good minute or so until he caught up just so he could kill me. That’s like you walking down the street and seeing lady bug on the sidewalk across the street then deciding to go dash across the street just to stomp it. What was the point? What sick feeling of exhilaration could you possibly get from that? This is what was going through my head after he killed me and I just snapped. I immediately logged off and hopped onto my Death Knight.

My Death Knight is level 80 and fully geared in Vengeful and Wrathful PvP gear. I’m not the greatest PvPer. I’ll never see the 2000+ arena bracket but I can more than hold my own in a fight. I immediately flew down to Stranglethorn and began to hunt that idiot mage down. Long story short, I found the mage and made his life miserable for a good 30 minutes. I corpse camped him all the way to the Horde base in the area and then proceeded to kill every living Horde creature in sight. So now I pose the question to you dear readers. Do you have any good ganking stories from either side of the fence?

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So, the Hunters (as usual!) are all ‘raargh raargh raargh’ because Volley has been removed from the game.

“We’ll be at a disadvantage!” “No one will take us to raids!” “I can’t AoE while I’m questing!”

So, I have an idea.

Blizzard, give Volley back to the Hunters.  Please.  Please please please.  That lot is so damn loud and everything, and I just want some peace, damn it.

Take my Rain of Fire instead.

Yes.  I’m serious.  If Blizzard took away Rain of Fire, I’d do a little victory dance.  Naked.  In the middle of my lounge room.  That’s how excited I’d be.

Don’t you guys get bored using channelled spells?  Seriously?  I mean, yeah, they are handy for a few things.  You can cast it, then tab out.  You can cast it, then get a snack.  You can cast it and wax your legs at the same time.  You can cast it, then check out the guy washing his car over the back fence.

But oh my fricking ever loving monkey god is it boring to cast a channelled spell over and over.

I’ve had instance runs on my Hunter where I use Volley almost exclusively.  I’ve had the same on my Warlock.  Sure, my Warlock is slightly more awesome, simply because fire balls coming from the damned sky kicks the arse of arrows any day of the week.  But it’s the same old snorefest.  Press button.  Wait.  Press button.  Wait.  Press button.

I want to have to use a rotation.  I want trash where I might have to think (gasp!) a little.  I don’t want to watch my bloody cast bar crawling downwards, and I don’t want to play a game where the main advantage is I can wax and play at the same time.

Besides, you only have so much body hair, and then what do you do?

So, Blizzard: abolish all channelled AoE’s.  I’m putting this one down to Hunter bias: why are they allowed to have a fun playstyle experience while the rest of us get to suffer the crawling cast bar of doom?  Damn you Hunters.  Damn you!

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