Yesterday, a couple new 3.1 changes for warlocks surfaced:
Drain Soul: Each time Drain Soul deals damage to a target which can grant experience, it now has a chance to generate a Soul Shard.
Soul Shard: This item now has a maximum count of 32 in inventory.
Upon reading the first change, my initial thought was something along the lines of, "aw man, now I get to spend half the raid throwing soul shards away!" Then I read the second change, and my QQ was nipped in the bud. I need to read faster!
This change is not yet on the test realms, so I have no first hand knowledge of how it will actually function. Fortunately, Ghostcrawler elaborated on what it will be like. Based on his commentary, it appears that this change is designed to keep warlocks from needing to meekly inform the raid leader that -- after so many wipes -- they need to head down to Dragonblight for some shard farming if they're to continue summoning pets and health stones.
Given the obtuse nature of this infernal reagent, I'm surprised this change was so long in coming. Warlocks have been complaining about how difficult it is to manage soul shards since before I rolled my first 'lock. I'm looking forward to seeing this change up on the PTR, where I can get a better idea of just how awesome it's going to be. Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.
There has been a sudden explosion in the population of the pygmy suckerfish Alchemists use for MP5 flasks. What's a fisherman to do with all the extra? WoWGrrl has a few suggestions, some of them quite entertaining.
CriticalQQ also has an interesting analysis of jump mechanics and AE effects in raid encounters. Based on the Best. Bug. Ever. post we made a few weeks ago, he talks about jump mechanics and how the game engine doesn't register your position until you land. Important concepts for those trying to dodge black holes and other AEs in boss encounters.
Gorilla Thunderstomp ability given to all tenacity pets - Sun, 01 Mar 2009 16:00:00 EST If you've been reading WoW Insider for a while, you probably remember Big Red Kitty's meditations on the Gorilladin. With judicious use of the Gorilla Hunter pet's Thunderstomp skill, you could grind multiple mobs at once and bring Hunter leveling and farming to a whole new level -- enough that Blizzard's had Gorillas under the microscope for a while. Now the word has come down: No more monkey business in 3.1. Gorillas are losing Thunderstomp as a unique pet family ability.
That doesn't mean, however, that Thunderstomp is going away. Rather, it means that all tenacity pets are getting it.
Traveling in patch 3.1 - Sun, 01 Mar 2009 14:00:00 EST Patch 3.1 will be changing how we all get around. Travel is usually a bit of a touchy subject, but there are some huge improvements on the way.
If you love Kirin'Tor bling, you'll be happy to note that their transportation rings are getting an upgrade. Should you purchase one, you get a free teleport to Dalaran once every hour.
The Hearthstone that you've carried with you since you day one, unless you deleted it and had to bribe an Innkeeper for a new one, is changing radically. The cooldown is being reduced from one hour to half an hour. This was done partially to appease the whining over nerf to ghetto hearthing.
Ghetto Hearthing is/was the process of dropping your group while in a dungeon and waiting one minute for a free hearth, provided your hearthstone was on a cooldown. In 3.1, you will no longer be able to do this. Fortunately, you can still use the method to get yourself out of a dungeon.
Ghetto hearthing will be less of a hearth and more of a shifting of your virtual person to the nearest graveyard, alive and well. This will stop people from doing things like entering Ragefire Chasm while grouped, dropping, and getting a free hearth.
Yogg-Saron, Old God of Death speculation - Sun, 01 Mar 2009 12:00:00 EST One of the things that caught my eye in the Ulduar preview that was posted awhile ago is the description of Yogg-Saron. The flavor text describes him as 'the Old God of death.' Considering our big target in this expansion, the Lich King, that's extremely interesting.
Wrath of the Lich King has heavily hinted at some sort of connection between Yogg-Saron and the Scourge, though we never quite find out what it is. The Scourge make heavy use of Saronite, an ore with Yogg-Saron himself as its origin. When the Alliance investigates this ore in the Dragonblight, they discover the Scourge says Yogg-Saron's name with some degree of hate and contempt.
A lot of people fear there's a "puppet of the master" thing surrounding the Lich King, that he's not actually his own power, he belongs to Yogg-Saron. I find this unlikely for one really big reason: The Scourge hates Yogg-Saron, and everybody else that we've run into that have fallen under Yogg-Saron's will either love him utterly or serve him faithfully. If you go to the Saronite Mines in Icecrown and do the quest Slaves to Saronite, you see just how faithful some of his servants become once they've been controlled. If Yogg-Saron were controlling the Lich King, we'd see a very different Scourge.
Here's a bit of news that some players might enjoy -- tipster Falrinn noted that Wintergrasp now has a global timer that lets players know when the next battle for the zone is slated to occur. This should eliminate quite a bit of clutter on the trade channels where players usually ask, "when is the next WG?" The timer is accessible through the world map, where the countdown updates live in increments of five seconds. On live servers, the only way to find out when the next battle occurs is to talk to your respective Wintergrasp Battle-Mages or using AddOns which all still need data from the zone.
It was, to say the least, rather inconvenient. The change also comes with a few minor changes, such as the wall icons on the maps -- they look flimsier. Blizzard also saw fit to change the icon for Essence of Wintergrasp again, making it look more like a tower instead of a trophy on a pedestal. The timer feature is a welcome one, although in the PTR it currently doesn't work when not in Northrend. The only thing that would be better than that would be a web-accessible timer that tells you when the next game is on your server...
With more people expected to participate in Children's Week for the achievement this year, the rulers of Stormwind and Orgrimmar have decided to increase their supply of orphans. Luckily, Varris of Icecrown was only temporarily transformed into a black whelp, so he only had to suffer the tragedy of seeing his mom's head over the gate for fifteen minutes. Upon turning back into an elf, he vowed to call his parents more often.
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Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Sunday Morning Funnies: Just a dream - Sun, 01 Mar 2009 09:00:00 EST It is March! You can grab your free gems from The Consortium in Nagrand (does anyone still do that?), chart out whether the month is starting as a Lion or a Lamb, or lament the hour of sleep you are going to lose mid-month. Other than that, read the comics!
We were all noobs once. Well, I certainly was, at least. My very first character was a Forsaken Rogue who used a white weapon way past Level 20. Wanting to better his equipment, I searched Thottbot for the fastest weapon, thinking that the more hits I got in, the better my damage would be. I found out about the Daring Dirk, a 1.6 speed dagger sold by vendors, and excitedly went to Stranglethorn Vale to camp it. I was so thrilled when I got it, a green weapon, I eventually dual-wielded them. A 1.6 weapon on my Main Hand. I felt powerful.
That was just one of my many, many noob moments back then. When we first started the game, our very first MMO, my wife and I had no concept of tanking or the archetypal roles and group compositions. We headed into Sunken Temple with our friends, a Warlock and a Mage, and we thought that since my wife played a Shaman who wore mail, she should take the hits. Of course, she was also our only healer. Also with no concept of threat, we took about five hours to finish that instance, wiping numerous times. I look back on those days with fondness.
The Colosseum: Dcane of Korgath - Sat, 28 Feb 2009 21:00:00 EST The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.
Admittedly, the first thing I noticed when I looked at Dcane's Armory profile wasn't anything about gear, class, or spec. Nope, what I noticed right away was that the character is a female Dwarf priest. They do exist! I almost never see those in the Arena!
That being said, Dcane actually has a pretty solid Arena record. Not only has this dwarf's experience spanned multiple seasons, but Dcane has earned the title "Gladiator." Additionally, Dcane's 5-man team "gwen stefani spell check" is ranked 9th in their battle group. Still, Dcane's first love is 2v2, and that's what we talked about in this week's interview.
More Druid changes on the 3.1 PTR - Sat, 28 Feb 2009 20:00:00 EST The above headline is a polite, succinct means of saying "I went AFK for a few hours yesterday and returned to 2/3 of the Druid class wanting to throw itself in front of an oncoming train."
Additions to the latest PTR build aren't extensive for Druids but include a 10% nerf to stamina returns from Heart of the Wild in the feral tree, and a doubling of Lifebloom's mana cost (and reworking of its bloom mechanics) in the Restoration tree.
Well, no point checking our watches waiting for the next harbinger of welcome death by way of light commuter rail. Let's take a look.
Before I write anything else, a quick note to the people spamming the Tanking and Druid forums with End-of-the-World proclamations; it's the frigging public test realm. None of this is set in stone. Calmez-vous.
I can finally stay on the PTR without disconnecting every 5-10 minutes, so I hopped on and started comparing the character sheet to my main's live version. The biggest problem right now is that the HotW change (in addition to the Survival of the Fittest armor nerf) has gone live on the PTR without Savage Defense going live alongside it. If you get any toons copied to the PTR or can just finally log on successfully, you'll find yourself down several thousand armor and several thousand HP without Savage Defense active to compensate.
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.