Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we get psychological on your posterior.
We're all familiar with caricatures of raiders, from the aggressive aggro-hungry warlock to the placid, gentle priest. Generalising to quite this extent is perhaps a little unfair, but it's certainly true that many raiders share common personality traits; by looking at research into personality and learning types, we can understand our raid force better and perhaps even find out a thing or two about how to manage them.
Have you ever wondered what makes your raid group tick? Why people with seemingly conflicting behaviour and goals get on just fine when there are dragons to be slain? Psychology research explains it all.
Can you compete with a DK? We've all heard the scuttle about how overpowered Death Knights are. Just how bad is it, really? "I know this may sound a little bit inflammatory -- heck, even a lot -- but keep with me, mkay?," requests Taladan. "The current problem with DKs is that you don't need to understand the class to play well. Take, for example, Paladins: Yes, we wear plate; yes, we have high mitigation; yes, we can heal ourselves. And, yet, people need to understand the class to play well: Bubble will cut your Wrath; Flash of Light/Holy Light different manage usage, timing (which is important if there is a Rogue kicking you around), healing effectiveness; how to 'restart' the combat when you do something wrong ... that kind of stuff.
"DKs, currently, require none of this. Just jump there with your Blood Aura and blow your runes and runic power. If you have the proper gear, your damage should be pretty high, your mitigation will be high and, contrary to every other class in the game, you don't need to directly worry about your health, 'cause all that damage will turn into healing -- and you don't even need to stop hitting someone to heal yourself."
Can you relate? kabshiel could: "I royally suck at PVP, but I actually do decently well on my DK. That's a red flag right there."
Each week, Arcane Brilliance reports on Mages and the ever-changing game they inhabit. This week, Arcane Brilliance has discovered, before anybody else, a couple of notes from the next build of the PTR:
Mage: New spell: Anti-Anti-Magic Shell - Conjures a shell that makes a Mage's spells actually go through that cheap Death Knight Ability, Anti-Magic Shell, making it possible for a Mage to actually kill a Death Knight.
Death Knight: New Spell: Anti-Anti-Anti-Magic Shell - Conjures a shell that counteracts the new Mage spell, Anti-Anti-Magic Shell.
Disclaimer: Arcane Brilliance is totally lying. These patch notes could not possibly be more fake. But Arcane Brilliance can hope, right?
When I posted the Mage changes on Tuesday night, I was hoping that as the week went on we'd get some new information, perhaps some clarification or updated patch notes. Though other classes have gotten those things, Mages have not. I was also hoping that perhaps I'd be able to get my Mage on the PTR to test some of this stuff out firsthand, but that hasn't happened either. I keep checking my empty PTR character list (on the rare occasion that I can actually log in and the servers are up) with my fingers crossed and my brow furrowed, willing my bald, undead buddy to show up there, to no avail. Maybe next week.
In the meantime, I'm stuck doing what I imagine 99.9% of the rest of are doing: waiting and wondering and scouring the interwebs for info. This patch is far from finished, with the testing process barely underway. Some of the changes announced so far won't make it live in their current form, if at all, and there are undoubtedly other changes to come in future PTR builds. Today I'd like to discuss what we were told to expect, what we actually got, and what we hope for, with as little wild, unsubstantiated guesswork as possible (Actual amount of wild, unsubstantiated guesswork may vary). Follow me through the jump, won't you?
Not that it bothers us -- most of those changes are welcome. The good thing about Blizzard caving is that at least it'll make somebody happy. But on the other hand (just to play devil's advocate here), this game is great because the devs made it, not because the players did. If Blizzard caves in every time players throw a fit on the forums, won't that hurt the game?
It's not happening, says Zarhym. He says the Hearthstone change, as well as presumably all of the other changes above, came about not because of constant pestering of the devs, but because they sat down and made the decision that it was right for the game. He doesn't say they never cave (we can probably all agree that the dual spec at 40 change likely came about from player feedback, even if it was very insightful feedback), but Zarhym says the devs won't move on stands they believe in. Given that patch 3.1 is like an early tax return with all of the bonuses we're getting back, we wonder what exactly those are.
Patch 3.1 is still burning up the PTR and sending most classes into a tail spin trying to figure out what their new talent builds will be when the patch goes live. Forget the madness of the ever-changing class mechanics for a few minutes to peruse today's WoW-related posts from around the blogosphere.
Hoping for more class-specific quests? You'll have to wait a little longer according to European CM Vaneras. They take time to create and implement. He doesn't specifically say they are making more, but does go into the process involved.
Raiders are preparing this very moment to get the very first crack at Ulduar raid boss Freya on the PTR. Click on the Ustream video above to watch it in action if you are reading this right now (early Saturday afternoon.) The raid is being tested on the European PTR this afternoon and this stream is coming from one of the top EU raid guilds, Numen. You can head directly to the Ustream page if you want to jump into the group chat of those watching.
We've been wondering for a while how exactly the Ulduar storyline plays out in 3.1; this may seem a bit silly or lorelol, given how much time is going to be spent running the instance itself or its myriad of raid bosses and hard modes, but I like to know what's driving me to complete an instance beyond phatty purpz.
You can obviously infer a lot from the instance itself and the names of each respective room, but for those seeking a little more information, Wowhead's PTR page has you covered. There were a few quests added in this most recent PTR build that give us tantalizing bits of Ulduar storyline and show Blizzard's intention to create clear progressions -- not only in the 10- and 25-man versions of Ulduar, but a reward and progression path for those blazing a trail in the hard mode versions of each instance. A fine notion indeed.
Oh, and if you wanted to know just how to forge that new legendary mace...
This writeup will be spoiler-heavy! If you don't wish to know anything about the secrets that lie within Ulduar, don't click the link below. You've been warned.
Whew. If you guessed it would be a busy show, you're probably right. Plus, if all goes according to plan (I know Turpster is having some issues with some of the musicians he's hired), we will hopefully have the new song all ready to play for you, as the reward for hitting 4,000 fans on our Facebook page. And don't forget that our Twitter challenge is still ongoing -- if we can get "over 9000" followers on our Twitter account, we'll do a video version of the podcast. So join Twitter (if you haven't yet) and get all of your friends to follow us as well!
Should be a good time. We'll see you tomorrow afternoon at 3:30pm Eastern, or 20:30 GMT, or whatever time that is in your neck of the woods, either over on the Ustream page or right here on the feed after the break. Talk to you then.
A 280% speed increase might not be faster than a speeding bullet, but it's close enough. Tatertots of Muradin was granted the power of flight a while back when a series of disconnects let her continue "swimming" through the air after dismounting her epic flyer. I suppose that we can add a new item to the list of superpower-granting items: radioactive spiders, supersoldier serums, and now Comcast connections.
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And if we wanted a snack, we got ourselves a three-course meal: The Iron Council, a veritable Three's Company of dudes made of metal. Except Three's Company really had one dude in it regularly, and the other two were women. And none of the Iron Councilmen are Councilwomen. Clearly Iron society is not as progressive as ours.
As expected, the server couldn't be convinced to just let us get in and do what we needed to do, so we spent an inordinately long time logging in, stalling at the loading screen, getting in, crashing out, getting stuck in queue, swearing loudly in Ventrilo, and getting alcohol to ease the pain.
But we did manage to try the fight a few times.
This writeup is spoiler-heavy! If you don't wish to know anything about the strategy for this or any Ulduar boss, don't click below. You've been warned.
Breakfast Topic: Murphy's Alt Law - Sat, 28 Feb 2009 08:00:00 EST The other day while doing her usual mystic rituals at the Auction House, my wife who was on her recently-turned-80 Priest saw an LFG for 25-man Archavon. She decides to hop onto her Warlock, who still needed the Valorous version of her gloves, and proceeds to do the raid. When the group fells Archavon some minutes later, surprise surprise -- the big lug drops the Valorous Leggings of Faith and the Valorous Robes of Faith. The painful irony is that there wasn't even a Priest in the raid. Head against keyboard, she couldn't help but think "if only I had brought my Priest..." but I've got a feeling that if she did, the Valorous Plagueheart Gloves would've dropped. It's kind of Murphy's Alt Law. Whatever loot drops will be what you alt needs.
It's something that everyone who has an alt has experienced. Last week while doing Malygos, one of our officers hopped onto his Mage to give the raid some more DPS since his Paladin tank wasn't needed for the fight. Sure enough, Alexstraza's Gift opened up containing the Barricade of Eternity, which his alt needed. Have you guys ever experienced this? Running on your tank only to see the drop, which would have been better suited for your caster, get disenchanted or rolled off for greed? The kind of situations where you wish everything was Binds-to-Account, instead. If only you could pay off the RNG...
It's Alterac Valley weekend once again, and although you can't currently use the Alterac Valley Marks of Honor for anything other than old world rewards right now, the Battleground still remains one of the best places to farm Honor. In case you're hitting up the frozen valley this weekend, here's a handy guide that should help you through the Achievements you need to get Master of Alterac Valley. Alterac Valley Veteran Win 100 games. I don't know about you, but I personally don't enjoy Alterac Valley enough to slog through the number of games required to win 100 times. That's probably because of my Battlegroup, where I find myself losing more than I win. Like all veteran Achievements, this really is just a matter of time, and the only real problem is finding yourself on the losing faction -- which tends to be a trend in many Battlegroups unlike other maps, which are largely symmetrical. Alterac Valley is asymmetrical, so a Battlegroup with a faction that knows how to take advantage of the asymmetry will tend to win most of the time. I'll peg this one at hard, and I think some of you will agree. Difficulty: Hard
Alterac Grave Robber This is ridiculously easy because it doesn't require you to actually capture or convert the flag, just tag it. During the course of one game, there'll be many opportunities for you to do so. Snowfall Graveyard, the uncontrolled graveyard at the start of the game, is an excellent target that can be taken over and over. Difficulty: Easy
After players got a taste of Hodir yesterday, Blizzard earlier opened up another Ulduar boss encounter on the Patch 3.1 PTR. The Iron Council were ready and waiting for raiders eager to have a shot at them -- and as you can see from the screenshot above, they don't look like pushovers. However, numerous crashes and related problems prevented full testing of the encounter, and Blizzard shut down Ulduar testing for the meantime. We had some of our team from WoW Insider who tried to take a crack at the Iron Council but were repelled by various iterations of server fail.
[UPDATE: According to some reports, well-known raiding guilds Death & Taxes, Method, and Fusion all managed to stay inside Ulduar for some time after Blizzard booted everyone else out of the instance. This is sort of expected, considering Blizzard wanted to truly test the encounter -- numerous players formed 2-man raids just to be able to enter Ulduar, thus maxing out the instance limit.]
Players who can't get on the PTR or who have similarly given up in frustration because the world server isn't exactly in the stablest of conditions, you can live the encounters vicariously through the streaming video of other intrepid players such as the folks from Rawrcast or Thelastrace on Justin TV. You mileage may vary. In the meantime, you can enjoy the screenshots of the encounter below. We guarantee they won't crash.
Oh, public test realms, so full of new and exciting content, we love you. No, really, we do! We hadn't realized it was possible to fall like this for testing hardware, but we think it's true love. Oh, no, it won't be like patch 3.0.8 again, where we hung out with you for a little while before running back to the live realms. You know the live realms don't mean anything to us, don't you? With your recent upgrade to patch 3.1, you have dual specs and Ulduar -- what's not to love about that? (And how's the occasional world server crash going to get in the way of the true love we feel for patch 3.1?) We promise, the live realms don't hold a candle to you. And didn't you like those flowers we sent you?
Now could you please, perhaps, let us log on? Just for a little while?
Oh, right, and if anyone wants to know what the WoW Insider team is up to -- just log on to the test realm. (Or if the world server is down, as it so often is, you can keep reading.)
You may have noticed an interesting little change in the 3.1 patch notes: ground mounts are now able to swim! This made us curious: how does a Mechanostrider swim? How does a Kodo swim? So, Adam and I ran off to the test realms to capture video of it all. And, before you ask, no bears were harmed in the making of these videos. (The Talbuks, though, whose heads seem to be under water even when you're on the surface, we make no promises about.)
As always, these notes should be considered incomplete (it's in bold because we can't say it enough). A number of things that are on the PTR are not reflected in the patch notes, and several things that will eventually be on the PTR aren't in the notes either (many of the class changes, for example).
Friday night authentication server trouble [UPDATED x2] - Fri, 27 Feb 2009 19:25:00 EST The login server has announced that Blizzard is aware of some authentication server problems going around tonight. It didn't seem very widespread when the notice first went up, but we've been gradually getting more reports of it as the night has gone on.
Oddly, I was able to log into WoW when the notice was first posted, but I can't anymore. I wasn't doing anything important, so I decided to check it out and sure thing, it was time for a ride on the failboat. I'm also stuck on a loading screen while trying to test out the Iron Council on the PTR, so I'm currently riding on a Cruise Failboat. How decadent!
If we get any other updates before the authentication server starts working again, we'll be sure to keep you all posted.
Edit: Welp, it works again. Go forth and play!
Edit: Welp, it (mostly) works again. Go forth and play (some of you)!
One of the things Patch 3.1 is supplying in spades is glyphs and glyph changes. Every class is getting a ton of them, and it's really hard to keep up with them there are so many. Priests are coming out alright so far through the whole process, with a lot of our current glyphs being improved and our new glyphs being legitimately useful, if situational. Let's see what's new, shall we?
Glyph of Fade - Reduces the cooldown of your Fade spell by 9 sec. (Old: Increases the duration and cooldown of your Fade spell by 50%.)
This is massively better than what it was previously, and I suspect that this will become a popular Shadow Priest glyph in PvP. Two points in Veiled Shadows plus this glyph means a 15 second cooldown on Fade. Every 15 seconds, a Shadow Priest will be able to clear all movement impairing effects, assuming they have Improved Shadowform. That's pretty friggin' sweet.