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Back in the Day: A week of EBay, Karazhan and class QQ - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 21:30:00 EST


What was going on in World of Warcraft this time last year? Back in the Day looks into the past of WoW Insider and brings back posts notable, controversial and sometimes humorous reflecting the state of the game one year ago this week.

For the week of January 27 - February 2, 2007:

The big news in the third week of TBC was E-bay's announcement: they de-listed all the gold sellers. Not that that stopped the black market for in-game gold sold for real life cash, but just today Blizzard struck another blow in the unending battle: they used the U.S. courts to shut out a major player in the gold selling industry from doing business on the Blizzard servers. The dance continues.

On the official forums, there was a mixture of apprehension about how classes were falling into their new roles and speculation about the nature of the post-60 raid game. One article addressed both these issues when it brought together the concerns of the community about Karazhan. Complaints included trash mobs in the zone being too difficult, bosses being too tough on melee classes, Nightbane's fear unfair to Horde and itemization out of line with the difficulty of the encounter.

Nowadays, the trash has been nerfed repeatedly, some bosses are still tough on melee classes, all Priests have Fear Ward, but a nerfed version making the Nightbane encounter difficult for both factions and the debate rages on whether itemization is good or not, but really, it depends on your class (hint: don't get a Priest started on the subject.)

Continue reading Back in the Day: A week of EBay, Karazhan and class QQ

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Phat Loot Phriday: Crystal Charge - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 20:07:00 EST


Going back to just hefty loot today, since we've been doing high end stuff for a few weeks now. This is a non-engineer explosive that packs about as big a punch as you're going to get.

Name: Crystal Charge (Wowhead, Thottbot, MMODB)
Type: Consumable
Damage/Speed: N/A (See below)
Abilities:
  • Use: Inflicts 383 to 517 fire damage in a three yard radius.
  • Does not require an engineer to throw, although it is consumable. And I'll make another extreme statement (even though, like I said last week, you wily commenters usually prove me wrong): this is the most damaging non-Engineer thrown consumable. The Essence of Eranikus actually does more damage over time, but it's a trinket, and this is the highest damage non-Engineer grenade that I could find.
  • And, dear readers, I actually went into the game and did a little playtesting with this stuff just for you. Unfortunately, I have to report that it does not add spell damage (I wasn't surprised by that, but I can confirm that it doesn't).
  • But it does in fact crit-- I had one of my charges break 575. And I also used it on multiple targets, so if you can fit more than one thing in the (small) 3 yard radius, you can hit them all with ~400+ fire damage.
How to Get It: As you may have guessed, it's part of the Un'Goro Crystals setup. To start collecting and using crystals, you have to do the chain offered by J.D. Collie at Marshal's Refuge there. He'll show you how to get the crystals and the spires you'll need to take them to. And once you've finished all his Fedex-ing (it's easy enough to do if you're leveling through Un'Goro around the early 50s anyway), you'll be able to get a quest from the Northern Spire itself called Crystal Charge.

That quest requires that you grab 10 Red Power Crystals and 10 Yellow Power Crystals from the deposits around Un'Goro. Bring those back (or just bring them along-- you don't need the quest to collect the crystals, and you might even find them on the AH if someone on your server is trying to clean out their bags), and you'll get 6 Crystal Charges for each turn-in of 10.

Getting Rid of It: Sells to vendors for 10s. While the Power Crystals themselves are BoE (or at least not soulbound), the Charges are BoP, so sell them or use them.

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Good news for chronic respecs - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 19:30:00 EST
With all of the buzz related to patch 2.4 lately, I wanted to take a moment to look at one particular change that our friendly neighborhood healers and tanks will really appreciate.

Respecs have always been a bit of a pain in the butt. Unless you are willing to align and keep your talents so that you are proficient at one aspect of the game, but weakened significantly in all others, you likely find yourself paying through the nose periodically to change your specialization and talents.

In fact, healers, tanks, and hybrids can find themselves making the switch several times a day, sending their expenses soaring. Well, once patch 2.4 hits, your costs will be subsidized. Thyvenne on the European forums let this information slip.

Specifically, although you will need to still pay for the actual switch, you will no longer be asked to shell out gold to relearn talents and spells from your trainer.

I think we should dub 2.4 patch day "Hybrid, Healer and Tank Appreciation Day". Well, we might look for a catchier name; something with pizazz.

Will you be making use of this change? Are you jumping out of your seat with excitement, or are you feeling somewhat clueless right now? Along those lines, are you
addicted to respecs, or do you feel pressured or even forced into them?

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TCG wallpaper plus new fan art - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 19:04:00 EST


Even if you don't play the official Trading Card Game, the latest wallpaper released is certainly worth a download. While you're there grabbing your new desktop background, you might as well peruse some of the newest fan artwork. My personal pick is the brooding dwarf, submitted by http://fdiskart.deviantart.com.

Don't forget: Blizzard is currently seeking top notch screenshots from Auchindoun: Auchenai Crypts. Whether you focus on the beauty and architecture, or are taking real-time combat shots, Blizzard wants your submissions.

Not feeling confident in your photographic talents? Check out our mini-guide to getting the perfect snapshot.

Do you like to use World of Warcraft desktop wallpapers? If so, do you prefer the official ones released by Blizzard, or so you have another source for your decorative needs?

Bonus: If you are a fan of Chris Jahosky's Tales from the Lion's Pride Inn webcomic, I strongly recommend checking out the latest wallpaper he's released.

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Blizzard puts Peons4Hire out of work - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 18:00:00 EST
This is probably the best news I've heard so far all year: Blizzard has won an injunction against Peons4Hire (we'll say their name now), which means that the one-time constant chat spammer is now legally banned from interfering with the game. It sounds like Blizzard sued on nearly all the causes that were speculated on a while ago, and as a result, have outright won their case: according to the injunction, In Game Dollar (the company that advertised Peons4Hire) is "permanently enjoined" from "making any use of the World of Warcraft in-game communication or chat system to advertise any website, business, or commercial endeavor."

Which means, in no uncertain terms, that we'll never see those ingame tells again. The only drawback is that, as Virtually Blind says, this is an injunction, not a decision, and so it doesn't have the "precedential weight" that a decision might-- Blizzard can't really legally use this to walk away with an easy win in the next case that comes along. But over the course of a few different settlements, including stuff happening in other virtual worlds, there is a legal precedent being established against using one company's service without permission to advertise another.

I'm just happy that, after being driven nuts by all that chat spam for so long, Blizzard was able to walk away with a solid victory.

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Insider Trader: Crafting a future for professions - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 17:00:00 EST


Insider Trader is your weekly inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

Are you a tradesman -- or are you simply a player who crafts? The determining factor is yet another question: Do you care? For the vast majority of WoW players, crafting is a means to an end: better gear, more money, consumables and resources. For others, though, crafting is a game in and of itself. The WoW tradesman relishes the entire process of crafting: training up, obtaining rare recipes, scrounging mats, actually crafting items, researching new possibilities, interacting with customers ... an enjoyable pursuit in its own right.

WoW's crafting system is by no means complex or even especially compelling - and perhaps even anachronistic. This week, Insider Trader brings you musings on professions inspired by well-known MMORPG blogger Tobold's predictions on the shape of MMORPGs in the year 2020. We have a lot for you to ponder and pontificate about - so please come join the conversation, after the break.

Continue reading Insider Trader: Crafting a future for professions

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Other patch 2.4 reveals: Fishing quests, Pally gear, and Spellsteal tweak - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 16:45:00 EST
Lots of activity today over on the forums from the Blizzard CMs. A few miscellaneous items in patch 2.4 that are sure to make people happy:

First there is the fishing daily. Blizzard is continuing their trend of increasing the number of daily quests we can choose from. Drysc tells us that in 2.4 we'll be able to visit "the mysterious old man" near Silmyr Lake outside of Shattrath for the quest.

Second, all of the Retribution Paladins will rejoice with the increase in damage their gear will provide. While we haven't been told exactly what the changes will be, we were told that overall stats will be tweaked.

Third, Mages will enjoy a minor tweak to their Spellsteal ability, in that it will no longer override a buff that's longer in duration.

And finally, healing grace will now reduce the chance that all of your spells will be dispelled by 10/20/30%.

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A little more patch 2.4 love for casters - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 16:30:00 EST
Continuing the deluge of patch 2.4 news, Eyonix and Bornakk, the brave souls they are, took to the class forums to bring us some joy! So far, they're relatively minor, but every little bit helps.

My personal favorite, the priests. Bornakk drops in to let us know that Fear Ward is now able to be cast in Shadowform. This is small potatoes for the folks that don't play a shadow priest, but I can say that this is a pretty big deal. It'll be a great boon in PvP, and gone are the days of blowing my entire mana pool dropping in and out of Shadowform on Nightbane and Archimonde just for a Fear Ward.

Up next, mages! Blizzard stops the pain caused by battleground gluttons, by limiting the amount of manna biscuits you can carry from a snackwell to 80. As was pointed out by a mage friend of mine, this means you can't summon a table and carry extras around to hand out later, but I think this is the lesser of two evils.

Finally, warlocks will be able to summon party members into instances. No more standing around waiting for your buddy to get to the Black Temple from Goldshire, just summon away!

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2.4 gives tanks some love - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 16:15:00 EST
Whether you're a bear or you clank around in plate, the two rage-based tanking classes have some changes incoming in patch 2.4, according to Bornaak. First up, you druid tanks, Lacerate is seeing a damage increase to scale with attack power, which should help you whether you're a tank or not, but since lacerate is a key threat move for bear tanks it seems like good news on that front.

Secondly, for warriors, two new changes in 2.4: Endless Rage is finally going to be adjusted to work as the tooltip indicates (so less of a buff than a bug fix, but still welcome) and more importantly, a long time problem, offhand critical hits from attacks like Whirlwind will now proc Flurry and Rampage, a nice improvement for Fury warriors everywhere.

Seems like both bear druids and warriors will be seeing improvements to both tanking and DPS options with these changes or fixes.

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Kazzak and Doomwalker go BoE, 25man raids get more set pieces per drop - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 15:45:00 EST
The European forums see some 2.4 news dropping, as we find out that Doom Lord Kazzak and Doomwalker will see their drops go from BoP to BoE, 25 man raid content will see their token drops increase by one to three tokens per token dropping boss, gems from Heroics will no longer be unique, and reputation with the Scale of the Sands will now be greatly increased.

Meanwhile, Drysc returns again with news that the looting UI system is undergoing some changes, especially involving BoP items. If only you can loot it, you won't be asked if you want to anymore, and you'll see the name of the item in the confirmation window from now on.

In addition to news about enchanting, PvP honor and spell haste dropping today, it looks very likely that patch 2.4 is due sooner rather than later. Of course, it's also possible that they're doing all this to confuse and bewilder us.

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Spell Haste will affect global cooldown, to minimum of one second - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 15:25:00 EST
The CMs are doing a real drive-by on the forums this afternoon. The latest tidbit dropped by Drysc (in an only barely related thread) is that spell haste will reduce the global cooldown on spells, to a minimum of one second. It will not apply to melee or ranged attacks. Previously (and currently, as of this writing), Spell Haste was capped out by the Global Cooldown-- it doesn't matter how fast your spellcasting went, because you were stuck with the 1.5 second Global Cooldown every time you cast. But as of 2.4, that cap will go bye-bye for casters, leaving them to rack up as much Spell Haste as they can, aiming towards a 1 second global cooldown.

Now, Drysc does say that it would take a lot of Spell Haste to reach that one second-- more, he supposes, than is possible in the game at this point. One player speculates that it would take 785 Spell Haste rating to go from 1.5 to 1 second (+50% spell casting speed basically), and while I'm not sure about the math on that, there's no question that you'll need a lot of Spell Haste with the current gear to cast that fast. In the expansion, however...

Non-casters are unhappy, to say the least-- especially hunters, who are distraught that while mages will be able to shoot off fireballs faster, they won't be able to shoot off Arcane Shots any quicker. Melee don't have much of a leg to stand on (their attacks aren't limited by mana as caster attacks are), but hunters may have a point-- they get charged mana and can't go faster. They shouldn't get too ruffled yet, though-- odds are we haven't heard the last of the big changes in patch 2.4.

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Enchanting market balancing act - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 14:30:00 EST
Drysc, in response to a fledgling prophet, just made an interesting announcement regarding Enchanting, and certainly one that most people will love.

Every 24 hours, an Enchanter will be able to split a Void Crystal into two Large Prismatic Shards. Good stuff! At least, for most people. I'll admit, my main is an enchanter and I'll miss tossing a handful of Large Prismatics on the auction house for 30 gold a pop every day or two just to line my pockets. In all honesty, though, that was a bit ridiculous and while I usually tried to give my guildmates a hand with shards, I always felt bad when they had to hit the auction house for their materials.

The price of Void Crystals will receive a nice boost from this as well, which is a good thing. With the abundance of epics in the Burning Crusade, the price of Void Crystals just tanked more and more every day. It seems the devs are working on a few others things to help out crystal prices, too. Right now, there's very little to take Void Crystals out of the market, so that will definitely be welcome, all depending on their methods. Like I said before, my inner enchanter weeps at the impending dive of shard prices, but its a possibility the rebalancing of Void Crystals will even that out. One can hope!

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WoW Insider Show live on WoW Radio tomorrow afternoon - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 14:00:00 EST

Our podcast is going live on the air again tomorrow afternoon (as we do every Saturday afternoon). This week, Mike Schramm (that's me, in case you don't read blogger credit lines) and Alex Ziebart (one of our new bloggers) are taking the virtual airwaves, as well as someone from WoW Radio. Yes, unfortunately, we're told that Turpster can't make it this week, but I'm sure we'll have someone just as qualified (and probably even more talented) on-- I hear Duncor (he of WoW Things Considered fame) may be able to make it in for a chat.

And we'll be chatting, as usual, about all the hottest topics of the past week in Warcraft, including but not limited to the Mojo mixup, raiding with and without addons, what you claimed was your favorite 5-man instance (Caverns of Time? really?), and just what heroics are for. And in typical irreverant fashion, we'll dissect your emails of the past week, and chat with you live on IM-- mmoirc.com in #wowradio is the place to be.

The show starts at 3:30pm EST, and we'll go skirt-length-- long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting, know what I mean? See you then.

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2.4 lifts diminishing returns on honor - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 13:30:00 EST
According to Drysc, 2.4 will fix one of the biggest issues causing minimal honor gain for losing teams in Battlegrounds, namely Diminishing Returns.

As things stand currently, according to Drysc, "What diminishing returns mean for honor is that each subsequent kill of the same target will reward you with less and less honor; 10% less per kill to be exact. One of the major downsides to diminishing returns is that the calculations, for potentially hundreds of thousands of players, is too intense to do real time, so they are calculated during off-peak hours. This in turn requires that the honor you gain be temporarily displayed as "estimated" until the calculations are run. It's a system that we've certainly improved (moving the calculation from weekly to daily) but still always disliked. It creates a very uninteresting and sometimes aggravating or confusing detachment from your achievements and the actual reward."

I can't say I disagree with him on that score, I hate waiting till the next day rolls around. It's interesting to me to see that Blizzard always disliked it, too, as I would not have guessed that to be the case.

Drysc goes on to further point out that the original reason for DR on honor was to prevent exploitation of the system that is no longer a real problem, what with battlegrounds providing a more reasonable reward for effort as far as honor is concerned compared to trying to exploit by corpse camping or otherwise killing the same mob over and over. The new system still only allows you to kill a single target so often, though: after 50 deaths, a player in a BG is worth no more honor until that BG is over. Better still, with the new system, honor gain will be instant. No more waiting for tomorrow, you get your honor as soon as you make a kill and can spend it as soon as you're done.

Thanks to World of Raids and our tipsters for the heads up.

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Rage and how to use it - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 13:00:00 EST
The Care and Feeding of Warriors is as always here for you, the reader, oh and also because Matthew Rossi is some kind of demented idiot who will do something like get out of tanking a raid and then spend two hours grinding on some Blade's Edge quests on his draenei warrior before logging onto his tauren for some PvP. We figure it's best to let him do all his rambling about the class in one place before he has an aneurysm.

Reader Arnold Luschin emailed in recently with what seemed to me a worthy topic for this week's column. Rather than mangle what he said, I'll reproduce it here.

Having played a druid to 70, and done a lot of tanking, I am familiar with aggro/rage etc, but I have a warrior specific question for you. Could you possible cover the basics of warrior tanking/fighting ability rotations (i.e. the names of the abilities, and the best time to use them in tanking and grinding/questing)? E.g. for warriors, one would use sunder whereas for us bear tanks the most equivalent ability is lacerate (which we incidentally don't get till about level 66 or so...).

And the answer is, sure, I can do that. The first caveat is that warriors tend to be the twitchiest tanking class, especially as you first learn the class. It can often feel like you have to mash buttons constantly in order to hold onto your aggro lead, and even then adds will often peel away from you when they'd stay right in place for a bear or paladin tank. It takes time to really learn and get comfortable with the somewhat frenetic style of the class, and to a degree this translates out into soloing or questing, depending on what spec you're using. I'd suggest checking out Tankspot and browsing the forums, although the theorycrafting can get pretty thick over there. This article is one of my favorites, though. Bookmark it.

Continue reading The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Rage and how to use it

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WoW Moviewatch: Burning Crusade The Movie - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 12:00:00 EST

Easy Productions, the producers of Naxxramus The Movie, have finally released the epic Burning Crusade The Movie. It features the Empire Guild going through four full dungeons worth of 25-man high end raids from the Burning Crusade expansion. Apparently only 6% of WoW players can reach these areas!

I'll admit that when I first heard of this movie, I thought it would be your typical cheesy PvE video. However, I'm really impressed with what Jack has done to make fighting cinematic! There are two versions, French and English, of the stream on Gametube, as well as a high quality version available for download on Warcraftmovies.

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

Previously on Moviewatch...

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Ready Check: Progression - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 11:00:00 EST


Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Kara or BT, everyone can get in on the action and down them some bosses. Sadly this week, Hong his stuck clearing trash in SSC. It's bad news when the little fishes come back, trust me.

There are a number of things that drive people to raid. Character improvement is one aspect, but for most raiders that I've run across, it's all about seeing content. These are the explorer/achievers who see bosses not as just a challenge, but as a stepping stone to where even more reclusive mobs and areas exist.

In the past, raids experienced pretty linear difficulty levels as they plowed through instances. You could skip ahead some if you stumbled across a particularly nasty boss (/wave C'thun), but you pretty much just worked down the list of baddies since each one got slightly harder. Even in Naxx where you had four different hallways of death to pick from, and the attunement wasn't dependent whatsoever on previous content you've completed, the progressive levels of boss difficulty kept you on the straight and narrow. You didn't have a chance killing the Instructor if you weren't skilled and geared well enough, no matter how much the Argent Dawn loved you.

Continue reading Ready Check: Progression

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Around Azeroth: A bone headed move - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 10:00:00 EST


A reader who didn't leave their character name or server sent us this shot of what appears to be one skeleton looting the other on the docks in Ratchet. I'm guessing the looter used to be a Rogue, but what is he expecting to get? Any ideas?

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!

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Blizzard says 2.4 not quite ready yet... - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 09:00:00 EST

It's been close to three months since the exciting, change-filled Patch 2.3 hit the live servers and a lot of people seem to be waiting in anticipation for the upcoming Patch 2.4. So much speculation has gone into what other changes will be accompanying the previously announced Sunwell 25-man raid and 5-man dungeon. In fact, some have gone so far as to post a wishlist fake patch notes and details have leaked of some phat-looking epics.

Bornakk from the forums comes to douse the flames of excitement, though, by announcing that Patch 2.4 just isn't quite ready yet. He states the obvious that Blizzard has "made no announcement regarding (Arena) Season 4," as well as the not-so-obvious that there's more to Patch 2.4 than just Sunwell. Bornakk -- who's been doing the rounds of the forums lately -- also reiterates Blizzard's tried-and-true motto of releasing "when it's ready." Leave it to Blizzard to whet appetites by announcing that there's nothing to announce. Does this mean another month before we see Patch 2.4 on the PTRs? That could mean an extra month of testing before it goes live. The wait continues...

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Breakfast Topic: Have you made a mailbox blunder? - Fri, 01 Feb 2008 08:00:00 EST


Your friendly neighborhood mailbox has many uses. More than just sending messages to offline friends, it also doubles as a second bank. Mail a bunch of items to an alt. After 30 days it will bounce back to you if you didn't retrieve it before then. The trick is remembering what you have sent off to remote storage.

Blogger McGoo used an alt to store all sorts of things he knows he'll need. But last week, he needed to farm Netherweave to finish off his Tailoring goals. So he and a buddy went on an ogre killing spree in Nagrand to get what he needed. He happily skilled up and made the robe he had been after.

Then, a few days later, he found his mailbox stuffed to the gills with Netherweave he had sent to an alt a month earlier and forgot about. Doh!

Have you made any mailbox blunders? How do you keep track of what you send to alts?

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