Love what you've done with the smell, really. The little air freshener attached to the runeblade is a nice touch. Now that I'm in the beta, I've had the opportunity group with -- conservatively -- billions of you. I've healed a lot of Death Knight tanks, and tanked for a lot of Death Knight DPS. Most of you seem like cool people, so I say this with sincere love in my little Druid heart and a touch of worry over what will happen in November:
Most of you are awful.
I don't wish to be needlessly cruel here, mind you, or to overlook that the class is still new. Blizzard endlessly tinkers with you, so it's not like your rotations haven't changed, or your talents and skills are stable. And I know you're not coming to Northrend with a bank full of awesome gear from Burning Crusade. This isn't about your wearing greens or using the wrong attack or tanking rotation; I'm not even going to bother with the theorycraft surrounding the ideal DPS rotation until Wrath actually ships. But I'm seeing an awful lot of you running around playing as if...almost as if...you haven't played a tank or a melee class before. It's uncanny. But when I switched from playing a balance to a feral druid more than a year ago and knew nothing about playing a melee DPS/tank, I made all the mistakes you're making right now. Help me help you!
Last night's beta patch introduced a quite absurd change to Divine Plea (which you can see in the tooltip there), rendering it more or less worthless for Holy Paladins, useful only to Retribution and Protection. In one of the faster turnarounds in the beta, Ghostcrawler has already posted a new version of the spell.
In response to player feedback (mana issues, boredom) Divine Plea will now only reduce your healing by 20% (instead of this patch's 100%), but the tradeoff is that it will be able to be dispelled. As someone who primarily plays PvE, this seems like a much, much better version of the spell. I mean, come on. Last night's version of the spell was, "You take a nap for 15 seconds while some of your mana comes back." That's not exactly how you make an engaging and entertaining class. People who PvP heavily may disagree with me, but I'm not sure. I have a feeling naptime is as unwelcome in PvP as it is in PvE.
Paladins also seem to be concerned about mobility while healing. There are some potential changes that could come, but Ghostcrawler and the developers seem to want to see the current state of things in action a little more before they make any updates there.
The folks at GotGame kindly sent us a note about their new service -- they're running a "closed beta" (which just means you have to sign up for it, but they're increasing the number of people in it each week) of some software that will let you actually crack open a web browser ingame, with some social networking services attached (so you can keep track of your friends in the service and what they're playing).
You can see some screenshots of how it works in the gallery below. Personally, I've never been too big a fan of any of the "cross-game" social networking services (Xfire is a really popular one that we've talked about before, and a friend invited me to Raptr as well recently), mostly because I already know what my gaming friends are playing, and I've got enough social services running to distract me from my work anyway. And while an ingame browser is kind of nice (EVE Online actually has one built-in to the game), my own browser is already just an alt-tab away (and I've always got Lightheaded when I just need to pull up some game help). It's nice that this one works in more than just World of Warcraft, but really, why bother playing anything else?
So the GotGame software didn't really strike a chord with me, but maybe if your friends are already on it, and you're looking for a more robust ingame browser, it's just what you need. Get Adobe Air installed, and then you can try getting into the beta on their website. Any other ingame browsers that you guys use regularly or, like me, do you prefer that things outside the game stay there?
Welcome back to Ask a Beta Tester! We'll jump right into things today with Graham's question...
What is the music like in Dalaran? Is there a web site where I can hear some/all of it?
Dalaran's music is some kind of weird cross between Draenei-style and Human-style music. It's like they picked up Stormwind City and dropped it on Azuremyst Isle. I don't think there's anywhere that you can download the entire Wrath of the Lich King soundtrack yet, but for sample you can stream just about anything on Songza if it's somewhere on the intertubes. And really, nowadays, what isn't?
Upper Deck has announced an official release date for the WoW Miniatures game, and surprise, it's in early November, too (it's going to be a busy couple of months for WoW fans). You'll be able to buy a four-figure starter set or a three-figure booster pack in stores on November 11th -- we're not sure about the prices yet, but if the MSRP we saw a while back hasn't changed, they'll end up at around $20-25 for starter packs, and $10-15 for boosters. Each starter will also contain a sampler of the WoW TCG cards, and while we haven't heard anything about ingame loot items for the minis game, those samplers may have some Loot cards in them if you're lucky.
Upper Deck also was kind enough to provide us with a preview of a few figures from the set, including some concept and reference art for some of the characters and figures. You can see it all in the gallery below -- there's a nice sampling of characters from the MMO game, a few from the TCG, and even some new character types from Northrend in there. Looks like fun.
Our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe - it's not all just World of Warcraft. This week's round up will try to give you a look at the best WoW-related content on the site from the last week. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.
MMOGology: WoW on easy mode My buddy Rob and I play World of Warcraft frequently, but between the two of us he's got the most /played time. He's got a few 70s on a PvP server and a few 70s on the PvE server where we're spending most of our time. He's also an alt-a-holic and has tons of mid-level characters. He's played every class in the game; most of them thoroughly. After spending so much time leveling so many characters he recently resolved not to level another character until the release of Wrath of the Lich King.
Mark Jacobs makes the case for playing WAR instead of WoW Tracey John over on the MTV multiplayer blog recently caught up with Mark Jacobs, General Manager of EA Mythic and lead Warhammer Online designer. Some of the questions posed have already been covered, and we've been busy giving out all the information we can get our eager little hands on, but possibly the most loaded of them all has been left until the day of WAR's launch: why should a World of Warcraft player come over and play WAR?
The allegedly incontestable momentum of World of Warcraft We relish informed opinion pieces here at Massively. That's what the professional site gamesindustry.biz is serving up for us, in the form of an editorial by site founder Rob Fahey. He tackles a subject we've looked at ourselves fairly often in the last few weeks: the nature of World of Warcraft's dominion, how long it can last, and whether challenging WoW is even worthwhile.
WoW Insider Show Episode 57: The return of the Turp - Wed, 01 Oct 2008 15:00:00 EST Our latest podcast is now available for your listening pleasure over on WoW Radio (and in iTunes), and we've got a few familiar faces returning to the fold -- Amanda Dean and Turpster are on this week, and we haven't talked with them in a while. Turpster is back from his trip to the US, and Amanda is back with a whole new character and a new PvE outlook. We hit on:
Brewfest, how it's going, and whether it's safe for minors (or miners, as Turpster may have heard) to celebrate a holiday that revolves around drinking and riding rams fast right afterwards.
And as usual we answered your emails, including where to get started with WoW Lore and whether Mages or Shamans cry more (I think Shamans probably cry more, but Mages do more unnecessary crying).
Plus, we did a giveaway! One lucky listener picked up a code for a Papa Hummel's Old Fashioned Pet Biscuit (boy they're delicious, made from real pets!). And if you didn't win, don't worry -- I hear next week we'll have an even better prize to give away.
And yes, speaking of next week, we do this every Saturday at 3:30pm Eastern right there on WoW Radio -- if you've never listened to the show live, it's a hoot. Definitely give the show a listen this week (or subscribe to us in iTunes if you haven't yet), and we'll be back next Saturday as usual with lots more WoW news, views, and fun in tow.
Raids rebalanced for Patch 3.0.2 - Wed, 01 Oct 2008 15:00:00 EST As of last night's beta (and PTR) patch, players have been reporting that mob health throughout all of the Burning Crusade raid zones have been reduced by up to 30%. That struck me as really, really odd, so I decided to pop into Sunwell Plateau and Black Temple to take a look. It is, in fact, completely true. Every mob and boss that I could see in both zones (and I could see a lot- Mind Vision hopping through raids for the win) had their HP drastically reduced.
My gut instinct was, "Ugh, why are they nerfing everything so badly? That's ridiculous. Just because it's the end of the expansion doesn't mean they need to make it easy mode for us." Then I actually thought (gasp!) about it for a little bit. Looking at the changes coming in Patch 3.0.2, this was a change they needed to make to let us still raid until Wrath. A lot of encounters probably became impossible to beat as they were with those changes, Sunwell Plateau especially. Sunwell was designed with all of the insanely OP stuff players were doing to win in mind. Stacking Shadow Priests for mana regen, stacking Shaman to chain-cast Heroism/Bloodlust, half the raid going Leatherworking for Drums, yadda yadda.
After playing The Burning Crusade for nearly two years now, most Rogues have gotten into their level 70 groove. They know where the poison vendors are in Shattrath and where to acquire some good leather gear. They know where to level up their lockpicking and the best way to organize reagents in their bags. However, all that is about to change.
Blizzard is implementing a ton of new simple changes to the Rogue class that are guaranteed to have many of us confused at first. I've tried to make this transition a little bit easier by outlining some of the differences between your time at 70 and the upcoming road to 80. Read on to find out what these changes mean to your daily Rogue lifestyle.
We certainly enjoyed the model changes to Varian Wrynn and Sylvanas Windrunner, and now Blizzard's finished the unique models for Alexstrasza (human form, that is; you can see her dragon model update here) and Varimathras, as befits their key roles in the storyline for Wrath. I'm a tiny bit disappointed with Alexstrasza's model; her armor is mostly a red copy of Sylvanas' new threads, which are admittedly all sorts of awesome but makes me wonder if there's some kind of Armor Barn in Azeroth for hipster bosses. Alexstrasza does, however, show even more skin than Sylvanas does, so from some peoples' perspectives this might be a feature rather than a bug.
Varimathras is a nice update although he retains his old animations and emotes (you can't really see it from the perspective of the screenshot above, but I think his legs and hooves are a significant improvement on the shaky anatomy of the current dreadlord model). Both he and Alexstrasza's changes are somewhat less shocking than the complete overhaul to Wrynn and Sylvanas, but we're still pleased to see Blizzard taking an interest in the visual badassery of major faction leaders and NPC's. I would tend to agree with Zach Yonzon's contention that it would be amazing to see an update to all the faction leaders if Blizzard could swing it at some point, although I have the sneaking suspicion, judging from what CM's have said about the difficulty of programming in new Druid forms, that this is a fairly lengthy process. However, after seeing the model changes in the beta, I don't think anyone's going to argue it's not worth it, and a number of people have argued for player model changes as well. The extraordinary design work in Northrend will probably add fuel to that fire.
It's October 1st, and Brewfest will be over at the end of this week. But fortunately we have Hallow's End starting on October 18 to look forward to. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, filmmaker Konack1 made a trailer to prepare us all for the visit of the Headless Horseman. This is his sixth machinima attempt and he's making wonderful progress. This trailer features a spooky kid whispering warnings (The Sixth Sense, anyone?) and a professional-quality narrator whose deep voice sounds remarkably like the late Don LaFontaine. Konack1 even uses the dip-to-black technique so popular with movie trailers these days. The visuals of the Horseman rising from his grave and stalking his way to the city combined with the child's creepy voiceover are very effective in creating a Hallow's End mood.
Konack1 is still posting his work on YouTube, so we don't have a higher quality version of this video to show you. However, I would urge you to check out some of his previous work. Especially My Immortal - Tribute to Cody, an ode to a lost pet, that left me in tears.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
Patch 3.0.2 release date revealed - Wed, 01 Oct 2008 11:30:00 EST If you remember from yesterday, various developers and CMs posted across the official WoW forums that Season 4 will be mostly ending on the day patch 3.0.2 is released. Today, Nethaera posted some additional information: Season 4 will end on October 14th. It was not explicitly stated by Nethaera that patch 3.0.2 will be that day, but two plus two equals four, you know?
This is pretty much exactly in line with the date most of us have been guessing here at WoW Insider, but let's be honest. It wasn't hard to figure out, and I'm sure all of you guys were thinking much the same thing. It'll be almost exactly one month between patch 3.0.2 and the release of Wrath of the Lich King on November 13th. It will also be afterBlizzCon and not before it, so if anything goes wrong their lead devs can jump right back into work instead of needing to worry about the convention.
Blizzard wins $6 million in court case with MMO Glider - Wed, 01 Oct 2008 11:00:00 EST Another chapter of the Blizzard versus Glider story has come to a close. Blizzard and MDY Industries have been going at it over Glider since 2006, in a battle that's been rather important. Not only has it been about Glider doing something wrong, it's been about how well an EULA will hold up in court. That's something the entire gaming industry, especially MMOs, have their eyes on. If Blizzard had lost, it would have had a negative impact across the entire industry.
Blizzard is most certainly not losing. According to BBC News (among other sources), they just won $6 million from MDY Industries, which is less than what was expected of them. This isn't their first victory in the war, but it's the first involving money. Blizzard could still appeal the ruling, so it may not necessarily be over, though I personally think the point has been made as far as damages. There are still further chapters in the story that await, because they'll be in court again in January of 2009 to resolve further issues.
We at Around Azeroth do not support exploring the game map beyond the boundaries set by Blizzard, except of course when it results in a really cool screenshot. (As someone who used to lead tour groups into the Caverns of Time pre-BC, and who still possesses a screenshot map of Shadowmoon Valley with developer's notes scrawled across it, I really have very little room to criticize here.)
Lymara of <Critical Mass> on Bronzebeard-EU decided to make a solo expedition to Old Ironforge. But a draenei girl can't be down there alone, especially in such a pretty dress, so she brought along two guard dogs: her Grimtotem Spirit Guide and what seems to be a Worg Pup. Hopefully these beasties are enough to protect her from harm, or at least from lascivious Dark Iron dwarves.
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing email@example.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.
Breakfast Topic: Honorary wipe - Wed, 01 Oct 2008 09:30:00 EST Well so much for the honor wipe. As you can already see from the comments on that post, players have all kinds of opinions about this -- some believe that Blizzard should have gone through with the wipe, giving everyone a clean slate as the expansion started. Some players disagree, saying that honor is honor -- if you earned it, you should keep it. Some players are unhappy that the prices for level 80 items are going to be raised as part of the non-wipe, leaving new players in the dust. And even other players are just angry because they listened to Blizzard, and already spent the honor they thought they were losing anyway.
So the question this morning isn't how you feel about the Honor non-wipe, since odds are you've already expressed that. But it is: where do we go from here? Are you going to step up Honor farming in the hopes of picking up new, expensive items right away at level 80? Or are you just done with the system completely, and planning to worry about what's available at level 80 when you get there?
You should keep in mind that for all of the gnashing of teeth, we still don't know for sure how rewards will worth in Wrath -- Tigole has even said that tuning is still happening, and so any tweaks Blizzard may make might actually turn out to make the whole thing easier on everyone. But now that you know the Honor isn't going anywhere, what's your plan before the expansion?
This is another good change, meant to make Imp Inner Fire more accesible to Shadow Priests. Originally, Improved Inner Fire was pitched to swap with Improved Power Word: Shield, but that would cause talent allocation issues for PvP Shadow Priests while fixing it for PvE Shadow Priests. Losing Improved Fortitude in PvE is pretty lame, but probably the better swap in the end.
It's been a while since we posted a downed picture here at the top of Guildwatch (usually it's some hilarious chat log from our drama section), but let's try to stay upbeat this week. Here's the Deathknight Trainers hanging out with Akama after a successful boss attempt -- congrats to them and all the other guilds making progress in our weekly column.
And if that doesn't excite you, well we've still got drama, too. Click the link below to see everything we've got this week, and if you've got a tip on some good drama, downed or recruiting news for next week, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org with an email (don't forget to include the guild's name and server so we can make sure it's listed below, too).
Once again for clarity: honor points and PvP tokens will not be reset when WotLK is released. According to a post by Zarhym today, Arena points and teams will still be wiped immediately prior to Wrath's release.
This is a very interesting change of policy. Blizzard announced last week that all honor points and tokens would be reset. Since that announcement, there has been significant outrage by many players that have saved up large amounts of honor and tokens. With this change players will be able to stockpile points and purchase level 80 PvP gear. However this gear will be "significantly more expensive" than current level 70 gear.
We'll bring you any updates that develop on this breaking news.
The realms are back up now, but we've all been through that wait before -- you've got things to do in Azeroth, but Blizzard is doing their updating, so you're stuck browsing around WoW Insider in Firefox. And here's a handy little tool to help you get back in the game as soon as possible -- the Realm Status Tool Firefox plugin will let you see the status of all the realms from right in the browser's toolbar, or even monitor a realm for you, and drop a note when its status changes.
Of course, if you just need to see what's up and down, the Realm Status page on Blizzard's site will do it for you, but the plugin will actually put up a popup when your selected realm is back up. So you can browse all you want, and know exactly the right time to log back into the game. It's been around for quite a while, though it's only at version .4, but I haven't had any problems with it yet. And it supports both US and EU realms, so no matter where you are, you can have it keep an eye on what your realm is up to.
The statement was met with mixed reactions among the playerbase, as many have agitated for an existing class to be cannibalized and its sweet innards redistributed in order to preserve raid balance in Wrath of the Lich King. Other, less pointless ranged DPS classes saw much debate concerning the issue. While Hunters could regrettably not be reached for comment as it was dinnertime and Mom was calling, the Warlock community, found at their collective den of iniquity, replied, "Nerfing us is not the answer. Buff other classes." When asked about Mages, they thought for a moment and said, "Classes worth buffing."
WoW Insider has thus far been unable to confirm with a developer that Mages will indeed remain in the game through patch 3.02. Reached at his office late Tuesday afternoon, Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan responded, "The what class?"
Disclaimer: the author of this post may possibly be bored and prone to making things up about expansion hysteria.