Move over, BigRedKitty. For January, BigRedPriestess is the new hotness with Wild Winter Pilsner. When you take a swig of the brew, you will sometimes get a buff: The Beast Within. It doesn't have the crazy powerful effect of the actual Hunter ability, but it does turn you big and red, and the buff lasts 5 minutes. When the buff wears off (or you click it off yourself), you'll Unleash the Beast. You roar, and give everyone's screen a little shake. Yes, everyone nearby, not just your screen.
This is briliant -- after Anna joking asked for pictures of Snowshaman, she actually got one. Niyahti and her husband built this snowshaman, complete with two totems (though we're not sure which ones they are -- Wrath of Air and Frost Resist maybe?). Sure, it loses a little something in the translation from polygons to frozen water, but remember the medium. Considering it's handmade with snow, that's a pretty good snowshaman. The horns on the head must mean it's a Draenei, right? Though I have no idea what the sticks are coming out of the front.
And hey, if you happen to get a nice bit of snowfall this month and feel like you can make a better one, feel free. We'd love to see it.
[1.Local]: Readers gone Blind - Fri, 02 Jan 2009 17:00:00 EST Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.
You'd have to be "Blind" not to have seen the machinima everyone's been talking about this week. We posted about it not once, not twice but three times - and we're still receiving chastising notes to get busy and run it. (Come on, folks, read the blog!)
So what's all the fuss about? This machinima has garnered rave reviews (and even offers to have "man2man babies") from virtually everyone corner - although some viewers aren't fans of the music selection. "I disagree with many of the others about the music choice," observed Fawkes, who took up a midstream position between hotly contested views. "While these weren't my favorite genres to listen to, I must say I found the 'Hide and Seek' song a playful match with the action scenes. My advice to Percula would be to take their complaints into consideration, but still take this your own way."
But we didn't hear only from WI readers. Machinima rock star Baron Soosdon and "Blind" creator Percula himself weighed in.
Here's another tattoo, this one faction-independent. Adikchun on Zul'jin (who is a Forsaken Priest -- maybe Alliance don't get tattoos?) sent me this one after we posted the big Horde tattoo the other day, and while yes, she plays Horde, she says she got the Sprite Darter pre-BC because it was the only pet that only Alliance could get. I'm not quite sure I understand the logic there, but it is a cool tattoo, and she's right: it is a little more subtle and original than all of the Horde insignias. And while it means something special to WoW fans, it works as just a nice piece of art if you don't actually know what a Sprite Darter is.
We've added this picture to our brand new gallery of all the tattoos we've collected so far over the years. If you've got a nice WoW-related piece of body art that you'd like to share, feel free to send it in and we'll give it a look.
Have you seen the WoW Insider Show live yet? You've probably heard it, through a subscription over on iTunes or even on our sidebar (we post the new episodes there every Monday morning), but if you haven't come to see it live, you're missing out on half the fun. We're going live again on Ustream tomorrow afternoon at 3:30pm Eastern (as we do every Saturday), and we're starting off 2009 with a bang: Turpster is back after all of his holiday hijinx, we'll have one or two WoW Insider bloggers to talk about the news of the past week, we'll have a brand new intro (you can create your own as an mp3 file and email it to us at email@example.com), and one more thing: we're giving away an Authenticator. That's right, straight from BlizzCon, we've got a limited edition Authenticator to give away to one lucky listener of the live show. They're out of stock and hard to find, but you can win one just by tuning in on Saturday.
And of course we'll do all of the usual stuff -- answer your emails, chat with our live chatters, and talk about the most popular posts on WoW Insider from the past week. It's sure to be a great time, so if you've been a regular in the chat room from day one or have never heard the show live before, definitely tune in. We've even placed the Ustream feed right after this break, so just tune in right here at 3:30pm Eastern tomorrow (here's a time zone calculator if you need it) to hear our podcast the best way you can: live.
Ulduar and Blizzard's "hard modes" - Fri, 02 Jan 2009 13:30:00 EST We're only a day into 2009, and we've already got an update on one of our predictions. Vaneras has appeared on the EU forums talking about Ulduar's difficulty level and he says that yes, it will make a PTR appearance, and yes, it will be hard, but probably not in the way that we'd expect. He says that Blizzard is pleased with the way the "Sartharion with no drakes" worked, so they're planning to expand on that idea in the upcoming raids, by including more "hard modes" and more achievements, with "an increase of reward level if successful."
So the odds are that we'll still see Ulduar's normal mode downed within days if not minutes on the live realms -- it won't actually be "hard" in the sense that the guilds with high level gear won't be able to plow right through it. But there will likely be multiple challenges within that are very hard, and achievements that will likely reward special gear or titles that will take guilds a while to do. This probably won't satisfy most of the really hardcore raiders, but we've been over this one -- Blizzard would rather have the majority of the playerbase play these raids, and since challenges and achievements don't take as much development time, that's what the minority of really hardcore players will get.
Of course, as with everything, we'll have to see how it works out -- Blizzard is clearly trying to make sure everyone coming to these raids finds what they're looking for in terms of a challenge. Ulduar itself might not be as hard as we predicted, but if Blizzard really ramps up the "hard modes" within the instance, it could be a while before we see anyone able to topple all of the challenges in there.
I can't help it. I'm an absolute fangirl when it comes to Jonathan Coulton and Mike "Spiff" Booth. That's why when Michael Gray let the team know he was having Internet problems, I simply had to jump in and share the most recent Spiffworld WoW machinima, Shop Vac.
Spiff notes at the end of the video, this song is all about suburban angst, and how people want to live there until they realize the 'burbs are kind of boring. As he says, "This phenomenon is exemplified in the shop vac, a tool found in many suburban garages for sucking up leaves, dirt, nails, or whatever. When you first use a shop vac, it seems like the most awesome thing ever. But then you realize it's just a vaccum cleaner."
Another fun aspect of the video is the return of one character from previous videos. See if you can spot who it is causing trouble once again. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for what must be the saddest achievement ever. Now, with all that said, check out Shop Vac for some lunchtime movie fun that doesn't suck. (Pun intended.)
At this time last year, I wrote about the launch of The Burning Crusade and rage normalization as the big, defining change in the warrior class. Let there be no mistake. Even two years later I am still furious at rage normalization. I was so angry then that I picked normalization over expertise as the big change to the class, which in a way was fair, as it wasn't clear yet just how important expertise would be for both DPS and tanking warriors. At this point last year, I was a tanking warrior finishing up 10 man content and moving into 25 mans: I had just completed my first full ZA clear the week before, if I remember correctly.
Fast forward a year: I've gained 10 levels, I'm DPS, we've cleared all 10 and 25 man content and are waiting for Ulduar. The game has changed and I've changed substantially with it, my role, my play time, even my guild is different than it was a year ago. Rather than do what I did last year and focus on one change, let's take some time to look at 8 changes (yes, in honor of the year) that have really changed the warrior class. None of these changes is meant to be any more or less important. The first one I list isn't the ultimate change and neither is the last (well, technically yes, the last is the ultimate because that's what ultimate means, last, but you understand the colloquial meaning of the word) these are just eight very important (to my eyes, at least) changes to warriors that took place in the past year.
Now that we've stomped that explanation into the ground, let us discuss warriors in 2008.
Take out a pencil and a sheet of paper, folks, because it's pop quiz time! Well, you need something to pass the time while waiting in those queues. So what's going on in this screenshot?
Blizzard has decided to be a bit less subtle in its warnings to people who are exploring out of bounds.
Outland is now a no smoking area. Please take your cigarettes to a different universe.
iGy of Dunemaul-EU could probably use a new video card. He would also like to give a shoutout to all his ex-guildies in <Ravenous>.
Around Azeroth would like you to stop sending in screenshots of the sky in Outland.
The correct answer is 3, although about a year and a half ago 4 would have definitely been the right choice. Now that we're spending all our time in the land of the ice and snow, it's sort of nice to see that old familiar landscape. Although it looks like a lot of us aren't in the land of ice and snow right now. Hmm. Queue is ... 441. Forget it, I'm going to go start Bioshock.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 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.
Welcome to Scattered Shots! This week, your author has managed to take a break from lamenting that the stores about to stop selling eggnog to make a few Hunter-specific resolutions.
The New Year is considered by many people to be the time for a fresh start, a time to wipe the slate clean of past missteps, or just to make some changes to your life to make it even better. In that spirit, I'd like to propose some Hunter-related resolutions for both Blizzard and for Hunters in the spirit of promoting peace, harmony, and understanding in the new year for all Survivalists, Marksmen, and Beastmasters.
If you've ever played in a group or run a dungeon, then you know the nuisance and frustration of playing in a bad group. I'm sure most of us have been there -- a dungeon run that seems a never-ending string of wipes, a PVP group that's unable to stick together long enough to accomplish any objectives, and the inevitable repair bills that arise from a group of players that doesn't quite mesh. At this point in my healing career, I practically never group with people I don't know. Too many things can go wrong and any rewards that might come from running an instance aren't worth the sanity that would be lost by trudging onward after the fifth or sixth or seventh or eighth wipe. (And even sticking with people you know doesn't always lead you to pain-free groups -- I'll just say that Loken and I are never on friendly terms.) But a thousand complants about bad group experiences aside, when you're unfortunate enough to find yourself in a bad group, how do you know when to cut your losses and call it quits? Do you flee at the first sign of trouble? Hang in until the group leader calls it quits? Or do you have some other breaking point?
Queue queue moar noob - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 22:45:00 EST It's 10:40 p.m. EST on my server and there is a 30 minute wait to login with a queue of over 300. Oh me oh my, time to get out my BlizzCon goodie bag and head for the QQ n00b tissues.
Many users across most of the servers, both in the U.S. and E.U., are reporting long queues again. While the population always seems to uptick around this time of year, one has to raise an eyebrow at this happening a second time in as many months.
November was understandable. Wrath was a big deal. But after a week or so the queues died down. Is this just the second insurgent of Wrath's wrath?
One can surmise that a large number of people received Wrath as a Christmas gift. The assumption is probably correct. Another popular theory is that with all the vacation time on folk's plate right now, people are using it to log into the game and enjoy a bit of Northrend adventuring.
15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
So how have a year's time and a new expansion been treating our subjects? Some dove into Northrend with gusto. Many reported inspiring new developments and directions, stemming from the publicity they received here on 15 Minutes of Fame. Other players have stopped playing entirely.
We caught up with all but a handful of this year's interviewees for fresh updates. Click into our gallery, just below, to find out what they're doing today.
Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below! This week, the role of Alex Ziebart will be played by Matthew Rossi.
Hi. You may remember me from not finishing the KYL on Thrall. Well, since this week our Alex Ziebart has to take a small breather, I'm filling in for him as part of our "Hey, I finished that post you didn't so you owe me, and also the pictures are back from the developer and I'd hate to have to post them to the website" arrangement. Alex informed me as he handed over the package in that park, just before my trained snipers totally failed me, that this week would be discussing the Sons of Hodir from a lore perspective. Since until such time as Agent Deathwolf tracks him down and retrieves the microfilm I have no choice, that will be the topic of today's post.
Since I happen to be exalted twice with these guys, it seems a fair enough question to ask who they are and where they come from. So far, we have fragments of the story, but not the whole picture as yet. If it even needs to be said at this late point, I will be dropping spoilers for Storm Peaks quests like they were remarkably heavy antiques that you asked me to help you move into your new apartment on the 17th floor and I wanted to make sure you never asked again.
IBM exec: Games are great for employees - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 17:00:00 EST Hot on the heels of last week's news that employers are staying away from hiring WoW players comes this article from the BBC, quoting an IBM executive who says that gamers are actually exactly the kind of people you want on a team: David Laux, global executive in charge of games and interactive entertainment (wait, maybe that's why he's so keen on game players) says that casual games can improve memorization and the abilty to discern details, first person shooters can help with rapid decision making, and games like World of Warcraft can boost leadership skills. He says WoW specifically helps players learn how to work well on a team, assess risks, and put the group first to achieve a common goal.
Which is true -- if you're actually the one in charge of groups. I'm of the opinion that it's very possible to play a game like WoW and get a nice boost to your leadership skills (leading a guild is often a job in itself), but I think it's also very possible that you could play WoW and not get a thing out of it -- I know quite a few people I've grouped with that I'd never want to have sitting next to me in a real office.
The bottom line, as always, is somewhere inbetween the two opinions. If you're already interested in taking charge and being a leader, WoW is a great simlulation to let you do those things. And if you're already a lazy worker and interested in helping yourself more than whatever team you're on, WoW probably won't cure you of that (there are certainly plenty of selfish people running around the game every day). In short, if your hiring policies are based on whether or not someone plays videogames, you might want to reconsider them completely.
Totem Talk: 2008, a Shaman Odyssey - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 16:00:00 EST Right now, as I type this I'm imagining Conan O'Brien's old "In the Year 2000" bit, which they kept doing way past 2000. This really has nothing to do with the shaman class, except that it's funny to imagine an orc in Earthshatter holding a searing totem to his face and doing it. Hey, it's New Years, I was up late, you're going to have to accept that my already tenuous grip on reality is a trifle frayed today.
2008 was an interesting year for shamans. When we covered 2007 for shamans, the general consensus for the class was that it needed some work. Now, a day into 2009, did it get the work it needed? Wrath of the Lich King has really only been out for over a month, but it (and the patch preceding it) more or less dominated the year for every class, shamans included. However, the year started off with another big content patch which more or less dominated everything up until the release of Wrath, namely Fury of the Sunwell. It's fair to say that most shamans didn't get to raid Sunwell (although they were in demand for Sunwell raiding guilds, which we'll discuss) but almost any shaman who was level 70 could do the various Sunwell dailies, get to exalted and pick up a nice necklace or three as well as various other pieces for your offsets.
Teen arrested for making suicide threat to a GM - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 15:00:00 EST After a 17-year-old in Fairfield, Ohio told a GM "he was suicidal and the game was the only thing he had to live for," the Blizzard rep called 911, and the kid was apparently arrested, according to the Middletown Journal. We've seen this before -- Blizzard won't put up with suicide threats -- but as far as I know, this is the first we've heard of an arrest coming about because of it. Apparently the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, and though the kid was released to his father, he's got a court date to face next week.
The dumbest part? The kid wasn't even suicidal -- he told officers when questioned that it was a joke "to try and get what he wanted for the game." We doubt this will lead to anything big (we'd put the kid in community service and give him a slap on the wrist -- he's probably scared enough after being handcuffed and put in a patrol car), but Blizzard's policy is exactly right on this one, if you ask us. If the threat is real, this could prevent a tragedy, and if it's just some kid messing around to try and get his banned account back, he might learn a little lesson in the process.
Nielsen says WoW still tops the list - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 14:00:00 EST GameCyte has gone over the Nielsen ratings for 2008, and they're basically saying exactly what we've heard with other sites like GamerDNA: that WoW commanded PC playtime this year. On a list with such oldies on it as The Sims, CounterStrike, and even Blizzard's own Diablo II,World of Warcraft sits at the top of the charts with an average of 671 minutes (about 11 hours) played per week. This tells us two things: one, lots of people are playing World of Warcraft a lot. And two, PCs need some better games.
There is an interesting trend in these numbers, especially when you compare them with last year. Last year, Nielsen claimed about 17 hours a week of playtime for WoW players, so playtime this year is actually down overall (and while we don't see month to month numbers, GameCyte says it was before the Wrath release, which makes sense). Sure, you could say that with dailies and the easier instances, players just don't have to play the game as much, but really, this seems to reflect the bigger trend: that WoW is leveling out.
There are probably years left in this game -- as we said on the podcast last week, the only real way people will stop playing WoW is when Blizzard finally turns the servers off. But all the numbers we've seen definitely point to a slowing down point among the game's subscribers. Lots of people (11.5 milion) are still playing World of Warcraft a lot. But not as much as they used to.
WoW Insider's predictions for 2009 - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 13:00:00 EST Another year has come and gone, and we're on the verge of WoW's fifth year of existence. So it's time once again to look into the crystal ball, and pull out some predictions. Some of these are surefire (we're definitely going to hear more about the content patches for Wrath this year), some are tossups depending on who you ask (will we see another expansion in the works?), and some are just random guesses. But we're guaranteed one thing: 2009 is going to be a wild year, so if you want our very first insight on what might happen, here you go.
These are compiled from the WoW Insider staff -- we differed in a few places, and where we did, I've pointed out who thought what. Keep in mind that no one can predict the future, of course, so these are predictions, and that's all. By now we should all know that Blizzard will do all they can to keep us guessing. And feel free to put your own predictions (or just respond to ours in the comments below. Happy New Year -- here's to a great 2009!