Each week Arcane Brilliance gathers energy from the nether, spinning it from the bowels of the universe itself, then threads that dark matter together into a tapestry of destruction. This is a fancy way of saying that Arcane Brilliance summons up a column about Mages each Saturday. Then, over the course of a 5 second cast-time, it balls that column up into a giant ball of flame and nukes your face with it.
Patch 3.0.2 hurled a new profession into our little virtual pond, and like Jewelcrafting before it, Inscription has plunged beneath the surface like a cannonball. We'll likely be sorting out the various waves and ripples that splash has created for months to come, but having spent the better part of three weeks with it, we can begin to see some results of the impact. Some of us have dived right in, picking up the profession and leveling it with gusto. Some of us only know that we saw a big splash, and that we are now very wet.
As a Mage, this profession intrigues me more than most. Several of the glyphs for Mages are quite powerful, the Scribe-only shoulder enchants are pretty spectacular, and the off-hand weapons Scribes can create and equip seem like an attractive leveling option going into Wrath. What are the pros and cons of this new profession? Is it worth dropping old standards like Enchanting or Tailoring for? As a Mage, is Inscription worth learning, or am I better off just buying glyphs when I need them?
Though we're still in the early stages of learning about this new tradeskill, we're at a point now where we can start to weigh its costs and benefits. After the break, we'll evaluate Inscription as a profession for Mages, and go over the glyphs available to us both now and after November 13th.
Please, Blizzard, no more. I've been extremely understanding of the nerfs done to the Paladin class as a whole, intended to reduce the so-called "dominance" of Retribution in PvP. I've always said Blizzard was doing the right thing and was on the right track towards balancing the class. I celebrated the fact that Paladins were actively tuned and assessed -- it was a refreshing change of pace. When nerfs were done to the class, I supported it because I valued game balance.
But now this. I'm tired. I'm broken. This latest nerf -- intended for Retribution but affects the entire class -- has brought me to my knees. Blizzard has found a way to undermine Faith, and I no longer feel the comfort and safety of my Divine Shield of naiveté. In fact, right now I feel quite vulnerable with Forbearance, and the weight is quite heavy upon my shoulders. Right now, I just feel really disillusioned, disappointed, and lost.
Blizzard's annual pumpkin carving contest has come to a close and the winners have been announced. I gotta say, some of them look incredible. The sheer amount of detail these people are able to pack into a pumpkin is pretty mind blowing. Like I mentioned when we displayed the Ghostcrawler pumpkin here, I'm barely capable of cutting big triangle eyes. My oafish hands would scream in horror if someone asked me to do something like these carvings. I wonder if the people who did these carvings are the sort that do it professionally for various holiday events. If not, they should be.
The winners of the contest were each awarded a Logitech G51 Surround Sound Speaker System. That rig retails for about $200, so that's not a bad deal at all. Since I don't even currently own speakers and use a pair of $15 headphones, I'm a little jealous. Maybe I'll go out and buy some speakers soon. Not a $200 set, but speakers nonetheless.
Brew of the Month: Bartlett's Bitter Brew - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST It's November 1st, the start of a new month, which means all of WoW's monthly events and quests have turned over. This includes the Brew of the Month club from Brewfest, and this month's brew is Bartlett's Bitter Brew.
After September's Binary Brew and October's Acorn Ale, this month is a little underwhelming. Drinking a bottle of Bitter Brew gives you a debuff called Nauseous. Once the debuff has run its course (or you click it off) your character will spew, and you get the Girded Gut debuff, preventing further barf for 60 seconds. Oh, and you can barf on other people. Um... gross. I think I prefer the squirrels.
At least drinking the Brew of the Month still gives you Empty Brew Bottles to smash over your friends' heads. I think that alone was worth the price of subscription.
Good news! No corny jokes today! Just pure, delicious Ask a Beta Tester. Let's start with Actuality's question...
When I first ran around TBC, the Fel Reaver scared the hell outta me. Ground shaking, crazily running everywhichwhere to get away. And the Draenei spiders still creep me out. But by and large the monsters now have a "ho hum" quality because I'm too used to them. My question is, are there any monsters in LK that will scare me or creep me out for at least a while?
There are most certainly a bunch of those. There's a lot of "whoa, cool" mobs and "holy crap what the hell is that" mobs. My favorite is the geist (pictured above), and it sounds like a lot of our other readers adore that one as well. It has a very maniacal laugh when you aggro it. The Revenants are cool as hell, except for the Earth revenants which look like floating poo. I don't mean they look bad, I mean they actually look like poo. Also: Thrym in Zul'Drak. I won't tell you what he is or what he looks like, but you'll know him when you see him. Just remember the name Thrym. There's plenty of other cool/freaky models in Wrath, too many to name, so yes. There are monsters that will scare you and/or creep you out.
Reader Aaron sent us a link to his new site called Path of a Hero earlier this week, and it's an interesting little endeavor. Basically, you just punch in your realm and character, and then you can add entries to your character page by putting in a screenshot. The system itself also grabs your stats from the Armory, and puts it all in a nice readable format, so what you end up with is basically a blog/timeline of what your character has been up to lately.
You can even follow your friends (or create rivalries with other players), and you can check "gear scores" as well, so you can track your and others' progress over time. And the whole thing is actually controlled with a slider interface with a cool fade animation -- if you update often, you can watch your character grow from level 1 up to 70 and beyond.
The only issue with the site seems to be that it's a little shakey -- it takes a while to deal with all of that data, and I wouldn't be surprised (even on a Saturday like today) if we bring the site down by linking it for you readers. But it is a good idea, and if Aaron can make sure it scales well (and maybe throw a few ads in there, just to make sure his work pays off a bit), it could turn out to be a nice place to keep track of what your character's path has been like so far.
Pop quiz, hotshots! What's going on in this picture, submitted by Ben?
A mage is demonstrating the new Arcane Barrage spell from Wrath.
The ghostly spirits of all those who have fallen into the Ironforge lava are coming back for vengeance.
A male and a female gas cloud are totally hooking up right in the middle of town where everyone can see them.
Someone put a Torch of Retribution up to an ogre's behind after the yearly Bean Dip Tasting Festival.
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.
It's November, the onset of the cool months, the time when winter's chill begins its fast approach. In less than two weeks, the World of Warcraft will be transformed completely with the arrival of one of the most anticipated games of the year. We've been given a teaser through the game-changing Echoes of Doom, but most of the good stuff is in Northrend. It's an entire new continent with more quests, more mobs to kill, ten more levels, and one totally badass bad guy we eventually need to kill.
There will be midnight launches all over the United States and select countries all over the world. Some of you have already pre-ordered, some will be lining up at the stores, while a few will wait out the initial rush of players who will be needing a bigger boat. Are you excited? How are you playing the game these last few days of The Burning Crusade? Are there things you wish to accomplish before Northrend opens up? Like reach Level 70, maybe? Well, you have about two weeks. Get hopping. The weather's about to get really cold.
[UPDATED] Invincible vengeance no more - Fri, 31 Oct 2008 23:45:00 EST Retribution Paladins continue to take a beating. As much as Ghostcrawler tried to soften the blow in his post, there just isn't any nice way to go about this -- Blizzard is looking for a way to make Divine Shield and Avenging Wrath to be mutually exclusive once again. He says that the combination of both spells contribute to the impression that the spec is overpowered.
Blizzard might do this through Forebearance, but says that they're also looking to reduce the duration of Forebearance through a hotfix. This means it's a pretty serious issue considering the duration of Forebearance was also intended to balance or space out the use of Divine Shield and Divine Protection. They have no timetable for the change, although it should be expected that it will be applied soon. Blizzard doesn't seem to hold back on nerfing the Paladin class, stating that "the last round of pretty severe nerfs didn't seem to do enough to Ret's dominance of PvP".
These are very fast reactions to nerf a spec that was "dominant" for all of a few weeks in a metagame that is tuned for Level 80. This is an extremely disappointing course of action in comparison to the complete absence of nerfs to Druids despite their utter dominance of the Arena format for three seasons (reducing Cyclone's range wasn't quite the solution, was it?). Paladin representation in Arenas went on sharp decline through all four seasons -- and this includes the Holy spec.
[UPDATE: The nerf has been applied on live realms. So much for the advanced warning Ghostcrawler was talking about. Avenging Wrath now causes Forebearance, and Forebearance's duration has been reduced to 2 minutes.]
From comedians Rich Kuras and Sandeep Parikh (who you know best from The Guild, most likely) comes a look at the United States presidential election through the eyes of Azeroth. If all of the 11 million active World of Warcraft subscriptions were US citizens, Azeroth would be the 8th largest state in the union. Rich Kuras looks to find out whether Azeroth would be a red or a blue state. I think the last thing any of us want is political fisticuffs, so just take this video as the light political humor that it is and don't read too much into it.
The polling stats at the end are a little silly because the numbers most certainly wouldn't come out that way on a larger scale survey, but that's alright, it's not meant to be super accurate. It's just a silly little thing, and I chuckled at the commentary from the people they spoke to on both sides of the fence. Deep political commentary? No. Mildly entertaining? Yes! And I admit, I smirked at the mention of Mike Gravel.
Thanks to all of you that wrote in about this video the last few days!
Yes, the Reaper, like 40 man raiding, has basically gone the way of the dodo. But with the coming of the Arcanite Ripper and even more references in Wrath, you kids today might not realize that there was once a weapon that everybody simultaneously loved and feared.
Name: Arcanite Reaper (Wowhead, Thottbot, Wowwiki) Type: Rare (yes, it's not even Epic) Two-Hand Axe Damage/Speed: 153-256/3.80 (53.8 DPS) Abilities:
+13 Stamina (this was before resilience was introduced to the game), +62 Attack Power (which is still substantial, but back then was phenomenal)
And the main reason the Reaper was so nuts was because of it's slow attack, but high damage. Back in the day, before things got all normalized, Mortal Strike was the shiznit. It was an instant attack based on weapon damage, and since this weapon's damage was so high, pushed forward by the Attack Power bonus, Warriors basically owned PvP back around early level 60 times. In fact, you might even be able to trace the current population of Warriors back to this weapon alone, and for that reason, it's earned not only a place in Warriors' hearts, but in Blizzard's culture as well.
I should also mention Shaman and Windfury weapon here, because back before all the changes were made to Windfury, and even before Shammies could dual wield, one Shaman with Windfury and this weapon could one-shot almost anyone. Nowadays, everything's mitigated, with nerfs and resilience and all the changes to endgame and Arena PvP. But back then, the Arcanite Reaper ruled the roost.
Which explains why it's everywhere -- the Arcanite Ripper is a direct rip, if you will, off the old weapon, and brought many a tear to a Warrior's eye when it returned to the game as a guitar. The skin has also been reused a few times, as with the Spinal Reaper. And in the next expansion, there'll be an heirloom item bound to account called the Bloodied Arcanite Reaper, so all of your two-handed melee characters can relive the old days as they level up.
Oh, and take a close look at that summoned Felguard running towards you while the Warlock's DoTs are ripping you apart -- he's carrying an old Arcanite Reaper as well.
How to Get It: Here's another reason why the Reaper was such a big deal -- not only was it the best weapon to have for any class that wielded two-hand melee and counted on Attack Power, but it was craftable and BoE, so pretty much anyone who wanted one could get one. The plans drop from Bannok Grimaxe, a rare spawn found in Lower Blackrock Spire, which is actually an instance that's getting some traffic nowadays with not one but two vanity pets and an achievement in there. You can probably solo to him without too much trouble, but the drop is the problem -- it's only around 6%, so you've got to be lucky.
But maybe you can find a Blacksmith with the plans already -- in that case, you'll need 20 Arcanite Bars, six Enchanted Leathers (made by an Enchanter from a Rugged Leather and a Lesser Eternal Essence), and two Dense Grinding Stones. Not a tall order, actually (yet another reason why this weapon was so popular). Melt it all together, and voila, you've got a classic weapon. Won't do much good these days, as mechanics and upgrades have rendered the once great Reaper into a not very attractive blue. But don't tell any grizzled old Warriors that -- they'll make you remember the old days whether you like it or not.
Getting Rid of It: Sells to vendors for 6g 57s 36c. Disenchants into a Large Brilliant Shard. Has killed more Mages than you'll ever meet, consarnit!
Reminder: Now's the time to get your necrotic runes - Fri, 31 Oct 2008 18:30:00 EST No matter what you call those big floating pyramids above Azeroth, right now is the right time to chase them down and kill the Scourge hanging around beneath them. If you don't have epic gloves or shoulders on right now, odds are that you could use the upgrades from the Argent Dawn, and while the necropoli were completely camped early on in the event, things have died down a bit now, especially in the off-prime hours. I was able to pick up my 30 runes earlier this week, and when I got lucky on a leggings drop (I love that my Hunter is in a mail kilt-y thing now), I picked up two nice new epics, a cool tabard and an achievement.
We don't know exactly when this stuff is all ending -- it might be soon, or it might run right up to the Wrath release, but either way, now is probably the time to play it safe and pick up your runes. Look on your map for the purple skulls when they spawn and make a beeline for the zone when you see them, keep an eye around the zone as you fly in where the necro might be, and with most people already having nabbed all the runes they need, the pickings are probably about as good as they're going to get. You'll have a tougher time nabbing the rare spawns that drop the legs and the chest, but if you just want to nab some runes for the various Argent Dawn rewards, it'll go fast.
Now if I could just get people to stop camping my fish pools until I get Mr. Pinchy...
A plea on behalf of frustrated tanks everywhere - Fri, 31 Oct 2008 18:00:00 EST Several classes and specs have gotten "knockback" abilities as part of patch 3.02 and the game's transition to Wrath of the Lich King, and I've had fun watching these skills be deployed in battlegrounds to extensive and quite possibly evil use. It's pretty funny watching an elemental Shaman defend AB's lumber mill now, and the AV bridge? Even funnier.
And yet...as I laughed, I started to cry inside, because I knew that these skills would also be deployed in 5-man groups and raids to much less amusing effect. And man, it's a real burden being right so often.
Readers have already started sending in a few costumes for Halloween this year -- if you're dressing up as something from the World of Warcraft, don't forget to take a picture and send it through our tipline. Reader Taytayflann of Frostmane assembled this great Bloodfang costume from a Horde hoodie that he bought -- the shoulders, which took the longest to make, he says, are made out of shin pads, cardboard, wire, red and black cloth, and staples. They turned out really well, and even though it was probably tough putting them together, it was probably still easier and faster than traipsing around Blackwing Lair with 40 people trying to get the virtual set.
There are only a few pictures in the gallery below, but we'll be adding in your entries from the tipline throughout the weekend (both of real-life and ingame costumes), so check back to see more. And don't forget to have a safe and happy Halloween tonight from all of us here at WoW Insider.
From one of the original authors of Omen and the maker of Chatter (among other things) comes the simply (and appropriately) named SexyMap. Using spell effects already in the game files (I believe the default uses Hand of Freedom as the outside ring and Hand of Salvation on the inside), SexyMap makes your map look... sexy. It's difficult to see just how awesome it is from pictures, but I don't have video handy, unfortunately. What you can't see there is the two rings are animated, one moving clockwise and the other counter-clockwise.
If you've ever worried about how to bring all your Gold with you when moving to another server, you should rejoice at this recent bit of news. Blizzard announced at the forums earlier today that characters Level 70 and above may now bring up to 20,000 Gold when transferring to another realm. This limit was previously set at 10,000 Gold for Level 70 characters, although the limits for other character levels do not appear to have been raised. This feature will become available on November 4, after the regular weekly maintenance.
This should come as welcome news to some players who find that accumulating money in the current environment has become increasingly easier with daily quests and increased activity in the Auction Houses. The amount is still a far cry from the maximum amount of Gold a character can possess, but it's enough Gold to purchase a Grand Caravan Mammoth, currently the most expensive item in the Wrath Beta, with some change to spare. I'm not certain why there's a Gold limit to begin with, especially for max-level characters, but the raised cap should ease the burden for some well-heeled characters when making the leap. With a mere 300 Gold to my name, it's not something I think I'll be concerned with for quite some time, though...
Totem Talk: Elemental, my dear Watson - Fri, 31 Oct 2008 16:00:00 EST So, what's the score with Elemental as a spec? Why, Mister Rossi, have you been so assiduously avoiding any discussion of it?
Well, in part it's because I don't really like playing as an elemental shaman. It's a personal preference issue: when I'm DPS, I like to be up in mob faces, not standing back casting spells. My default spec for when I'm not enhancement is restoration, if only because I seem to be able to keep people alive fairly well with that spec and usually healing is at a premium. But I would have no difficulty in admitting that not only am I not particularly enthused with elemental (unlike Mike Schramm, one of our big elemental boosters) I'm also not very good at playing one. So speccing elemental this week and testing out the spec was to some degree like asking Wayne Gretsky to go figure skating: sure, the guy can skate, and skate well, but he's really not known for that particular kind of skating. Still, I did it, and I have to say that as is always the case when I do it I found the spec much less agonizing to play than I expected. It's actually pretty fun. (Yes, I use basically the same gear as I do when I go resto now, which means my crit sucks, but I'm not going to blow all my badges on elemental gear just to test the spec.)
His last two points are probably more solid, though -- he says that unlike Lord of the Rings, which the Warcraft movie is often compared to, most people (even players of the games who skip cutscenes) would walk in having no idea what the story was about, which means the story would have to be dumbed down or just be a confusing mess. And finally, we can't really argue with the last point: since that first piece of concept art, we haven't heard a peep out of Legendary or Blizzard about what's happening, so maybe the flick's not getting made anyway.
And by the end of the piece, we've got to agree with Kevin: even if a big-budget worldwide movie release didn't get made, we'd much rather have a high-quality DVD of Blizzard's cinematics anyway (or maybe even a feature-length put together by the same department -- they do awesome work). The odds are against a live-action Warcraft movie already, it seems -- maybe it would be a better idea for Blizzard to just release something themselves.
My daughter the murloc - Fri, 31 Oct 2008 15:00:00 EST What happens when Halloween rolls around and you haven't gotten around to buying your almost one year old daughter a costume for the holiday because you've been spending too much time playing and writing about the World of Warcraft? Well, you make her a murloc costume, of course!
From the moment my daughter was born, I just knew I had to dress her up as a character from my favorite game. I initially wanted to make a Moonkin costume but thought that it'd be best if she wore that when she was already walking proficiently. A miniature Moonkin waddling around would be priceless.
This year, however, found me short of time and ideas so I decided to steal the idea of a baby in a murloc suit from last year's crop of Halloween costumes over at the Blizzard site. Since I don't have mad sewing skills, I made a quick jaunt to a shoe supplies store and picked up a bunch of slice foam and some cyanoacrylate.
Should be a great show tomorrow on the podcast, as we welcome two terrific WoW bloggers to the table. In one place together for the first (second? third?) time ever, both Daniel "BigRedKitty" Howell (who has his own very popular, very well-done podcast, by the way, if you haven't heard it yet) and John "BigBearButt" Patricelli will be in attendance. And we'll be talking about, as usual, all the biggest stories from the past week in Warcraft, including how the new Kara boss is going (and almost gone), whether Karazhan itself is too easy these days, and that whole class forums megaton yesterday (that turned out to be a dud, more or less). And we'll cover the end of the zombie event, too, and whether or not it worked the way Blizzard planned it to, or if they cut it short early because of all the griefing.
The show will air live at 3:30pm Eastern (time zone calculator) over on our Ustream page. Lots of people have had questions about how to get the show lately (and of course, it hasn't helped that our feed is going through some growing pains), but all of your questions should be answered in our last podcast post. And we're working on the quality issues, too -- I can assure you that the recording issue has been fixed, so no more tinny voices this week.
But you don't want to wait until the recording anyway -- join us on the Ustream page tomorrow (or just come back to this post -- the stream is embedded after the break), and you can chat with us and other listeners live, as well as vote in polls and participate in a rumored "aftershow" that's been popping up after we're done recording lately. See you tomorrow!