World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King has been nominated for yet another award -- this time, Wrath has received a nod for Best Game of the Year by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Videogame awards. UK residents can vote for the game right now over on their site, and a nice set of prizes, including a big TV, a Playstation 3, and copies of all ten nominated games going to one lucky voter. Voting is closed on March 9th, and the winners should be announced soon after that.
And in case you've been wondering about the AIAS nominations we mentioned a little while ago, Blizzard is going about 33%. While they did win the award for best MMO game of the year (beating out Warhammer Online), Wrath of the Lich Kinglost its other two categories -- Left 4 Dead was awarded Best Computer Game, and Metal Gear Solid 4 won for Best Music over the Lich King's silky tones.
Guess you can't win them all. But considering that the second expansion of a years-old MMO is still garnering honors, Blizzard has nothing to be ashamed of.
Tips on completing Higher Learning - Mon, 02 Mar 2009 19:00:00 EST Higher Learning is one of the most peaceful achievements in the game (all you have to do are read a few books that spawn around Dalaran), but it's no less desirable for that -- the achievement grants a miniature Arcane Elemental pet that looks awesome. Teniblue over on WoW Ladies has a few good tips if you're trying to get all edumacated in Dalaran -- she's got links to two addons (including the perfectly-named Dalaran University) to use to help you track spawn times, and she's got a link to Breanni's great guide over on WarcraftPets.com (which our own Allison R. touched on briefly in a recent OverAchiever post).
What's fun about this achievement is that reading the books won't delete them, so it can be very social -- people have created #bookclub channels on many servers to keep track of when and where books are appearing in the city. That makes it a lot more fun than the, say, cooking daily quest that sends you after mushrooms in the sewers. It actually makes this social game, well, social.
So next time you see a book sitting around the city, be sure to give a shout to the chat channel -- here's one in-game situation where everybody can benefit from a little extra chatting.
Neither of these two galleries have anything nearly as cool as the two Tauren in silly hats and lumberjack shirts contained within the Motorcycle gallery, but there's still some neat pictures. The one above is one of my personal favorites. They're kissing or possibly trying to eat eachother! How sweet! I'm also a big fan of the flying carpet that's either shooting or absorbing purple lightning bolts. You'll need to go to the official site to see that one, I'm afraid.
It's brews like the Aromatic Honey Brew that make the whole Brew of the Month membership worth it. Sure, all of the bodily fluid/fume brews are pretty boring, but this month's brew? Beautiful. I can finally fulfill my lifelong dream: Get drunk while on fire and covered in bees. Alternate caption for the image above? I like my ale like I like my women. Covered in bees.
I'm sure those of you that haven't tried this month's brew are pretty confused right now. What the hell am I talking about? Well, every Brew of the Month has a proc that goes off now and then when you're chugging down the booze. This month, the proc is a buff called Honey Touched. The sweet, sticky honey in the brew gets all over you, and you attract some friends. Horrible, stingy friends. Friends that put you under a Fear effect for 7 seconds. I think this rivals BigRedPriestess as my favorite Brew of the Month. If I'm gonna get wasted, I might as well do it in style. Mead and bees. Bees are stylish, right?
As an extra little note, the fact that there's a new brew out means that it's the beginning of the month. If you're the sort of person that will take all the freebies you can get, you can pick up your free gems from the Consortium in Nagrand. They're Burning Crusade gems, but maybe you'll find some use for them.
The week has rolled around, the planets have aligned, and it's time again for Blood Pact! Here to keep you up to date with all the unspeakable horrors perpetrated by Warlocks. Presiding over this week's dark ritual is Nick Deathcaller -- I mean Whelan.
I was perusing the Blood Pact archives this week, trying to think of a topic which would be a little less dry than my last topic, and I noticed that an in-depth look at a Warlock's minions is rather over-due!
I've long been of the opinion that Warlock minions are far more similar to a Warrior's stances than they are to a Hunter's pets. Hunter pets are very much a separate entity from the hunter them self. They have their own talent trees, different abilities they can train, and regardless of spec can account for 25% or more of the Hunter's total DPS in any given encounter -- closer to 50% if the Hunter is speced beast mastery! Warlock minions, on the other hand, have no customisability whatsoever, save the various talents which can be used to improve them. Often times a minion is used for no other reason than for the buff it provides -- or in the case of affliction Warlocks -- as a mana battery for Dark Pact.
Be warned that the very end of today's edition of The Queue contains minor spoilers for the upcoming Ulduar raid zone. Everything is perfectly safe until the very last question, and even then the spoilers are very minor. Minor as in it describes a couple of the bosses found within the zone. It doesn't give away any story or plot. If you want your experience to remain pure, stop at the last question. If you don't care so much about knowing who you'll see in Ulduar, it's perfectly safe.
I warn because I love. mindor asked...
What is the deal with the Greymane wall in Silverpine forest? Is there an old raid set in there? What is on the other side of that monstrous wall?
Dual specs have been one of several hot topics while we watch patch 3.1 progress on the PTR. People have waffled about whether they mean to spend the 1,000 gold it's going to cost, we've learned that you'll be able to do it anywhere and at level 40, and players of all ten classes are pondering what to use their second spec slot for. However, according to Ghostcrawler, Blizzard is pretending dual spec does not exist.
Maybe I should clarify: with respect to design decisions, they're pretending dual spec does not exist. Raids and talent trees will be balanced without reference to the fact that some players will be able to easily swap out. GC gives some specific examples of things the devs will not be doing, such as "Have a fight that requires 8 tanks, because you know, half the raid can change specs," or "Let Arms be the PvP tree and Fury be the PvE tree, because warriors can just switch out."
This is good news to many, including myself. Although if I had been asked to guess, I would probably have predicted they would take this direction, it's good to know that (for instance) raiders won't be effectively required to take spec X and spec Y in order to complete encounter Z. Dual specs are there to offer us more flexibility, not as another way the devs can make us jump through hoops. And I know I'll be taking it on at least a few of my characters.
The Intel Extreme MastersWorld of Warcraft Arena tournament will be culminating at the CeBit in Hanover, Germany from March 3rd to 8th, featuring the European Continental Finals as well as the Global Finals, which will determine the overall winner of the 3v3 Arena tournament. The event closes the third season of a globe-hopping event that spanned Dubai to Chengdu to Los Angeles, and a total of $280,000 in prizes is ready for the taking.
The event in Hannover is significant in that it will be the first Level 80 tournament on the pro level, with special rules changes to reduce the effects of RNG. One example is banning speccing into talents like Hunters' T.N.T., Mages' Impact, or Priests' Blackout. ESL has also elected to exclude the new Arena maps -- the gimmicky Dalaran Sewer and Orgrimmar Arena -- from the tournament. This should make the competition notably different from live realms.
The Electronic Sports League will feature live streaming videos of the matches throughout the event, with live commentary from the ESL hosts. Archives of matches throughout the tournament can also be viewed on the site or on youtube, even including popular clips outside of matches such as Swarm's infamous nerdrage breakdown. The program can be viewed through the ESL TV, as well as the live stream of all the matches. All games will be broadcast in English.
Machinima based on PvP can be tricky. It's very easy to fall into the trap of just stringing together huge crit numbers, ultimate pwnage, and a Linkin Park soundtrack. So, when I first read the summary text for Gazzamah's Crestfallen III trailer, I wasn't expecting much. It's a teaser for an upcoming PvP video. "What's this going to be?" I thought. "Only one or two big crit numbers?" And it's a trailer, after all. Too often, trailers promise a beautiful movie that will ultimately never get made.
When I watched the trailer, however, I was pleasantly proven wrong. It's very short, so don't go looking for Shakespearean epic here. The trailer opens with shots of Northrend, with ponderous, thoughtful music haunting in the background. An orc climbs an ice slope, looking over the scenery. A voiceover regrets sins made in the past, and then closes with hope that this new place could be different from what's come before.
This is going to be a PvP video? Okay, I'm sold -- I can't wait to see it. If this trailer is indicative of what the full video will be like, I think Gazzamah could really do something special in terms of that limited genre. Actual story in my PvP? I'm all for it!
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
WoW Insider Show Episode 79: Argently competing - Mon, 02 Mar 2009 11:00:00 EST We had a great time as usual last weekend on the podcast -- Dan O'Halloran and BigRedKitty joined me on the WoW Insider Show, and we chatted about the most popular stories in WoW from the last week. We answered your emails, including how to fill up your guild with quality raiders and what kinds of things you can do to make leveling an alt easier (including not leveling an alt at all).
Get the podcast: [iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes. [Ustream] Listen to the unedited recording in Ustream. [RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator. [MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
How does Kaligasta of <Knights Templar> on Executus manage to look so serene after being killed by Malygos? Here's a note we found on her corpse:
A long time ago, I jumped ship in the Borean Tundra and headed over to Coldarra to do a spot of healing. I told them I was a real pro healer, and who do you think they give me? Jaina Proudmoore, herself. The flowing robes, the long hair ... striking. So we're on the first boss, and Jaina hauls off and pulls aggro, wipes us all. Do you know what Jaina says? "Welcome to Theramore. Have you come to help the Alliance?" So we finish the raid and she's gonna stiff me on loot. And I say "Hey, Jaina, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And Jaina says "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you'll receive total enlightenment." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
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. 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.
Ulduar revealed on full map - Mon, 02 Mar 2009 09:00:00 EST Stompalina over at Rawrbitchrawr pointed us in the direction of a map of Ulduar that was meticulously pieced together by a guild mate. The map contains major spoilers, so do not click on the links if you want everything to be a surprise. The map contains a list of all the possible bosses, including those that haven't been announced yet.
The map also reveals a possible progression through the dungeon, which should be indicative of the relative difficulty of the bosses as players head towards the final boss. It's a rather interesting map, if you're willing to see spoilers. The map is spawling and looks massive. Head on over for a peek at the big dungeon of Patch 3.1. Have I said it was filled with spoilers yet? Well,it's filled with spoilers!
Breakfast Topic: Why reroll? - Mon, 02 Mar 2009 08:00:00 EST I probably should've mentioned this in my Breakfast Topic yesterday, which asked about your favorite noob moments, but my brother-in-law had a major one with his very first character. Playing a Druid, he eventually found himself in Moonglade. Not the best person with directions, he actually got lost in Nighthaven, unable to find his way out. He even tried to kill his Tauren by drowning in a Moonwell. Didn't work. In frustration, he deleted his toon and rerolled another Druid.
My cousin had a similar experience when, at Level 12, we pointed out that his horns were white while the rest of his Tauren was black. He immediately logged off, and met up with us an hour later with an all-black Tauren with the same name. Speaking of names, my wife leveled a Priest but decided at some point that she didn't like the name and rerolled. These were the days before paid character customization, of course.
I suppose we all have different reasons to reroll. Before the days of PvE-to-PvP transfers, a bunch of us decided to start from scratch and reroll on a PvP server because we couldn't progress on our original one. As painful as that was at the time (we all had a couple of Level 60 toons already), it turned out to be a great decision as we ended up being able to experience the endgame. Have you ever felt the need to reroll, or start from scratch? Not quite the same as leveling an alt, but to start fresh entirely. With paid server transfers and character customization, I'm certain the need is less urgent, but for those of you who started anew, what were your reasons?
Tailoring is another aspect of Warcraft which people tend to just gloss over without realizing it is an important element of your character's backstory and personality. "I am Zorlastine the wicked Forsaken warlock!" one might say, "I have come to wreak havoc and destruction upon this world! I also sell extremely large bags on the auction house!" Often it's an element that doesn't quite jive with the rest of one's character, but at the same time, nobody really notices. A powerful mage capable of teleportation, massive explosions, and yes, even KNITTING! Makes perfect sense, right?
No it doesn't.
So today we have gathered a few ideas for how to weave your cloth-wearing character's capability to create cloth wearables into the actual story and roleplay of your character. You think making clothes is a tedious profession? A pastime just for old ladies? No, tailoring is an avant-garde artistic activity of the elite, an excellent way for a starving hero to make cash, and even a mystical philosophy all on its own.
So we have one week down in the PTR. We've had a chance to get more familiar with the Death Knight changes, both the documented and undocumented, and to see how they'll affect the way we play once 3.1 goes live.
Of course, by the time 3.1 goes live, they could be changed pretty extensively, but for now, it's a good idea to check out where they are right now, and not only predict where they might go, but let the developers know by our feedback, based on testing, where we think the class should go. With that in mind, let's take a look at the current state of the class on the PTR, where we're going and where we want to be heading.
A forum thread like this one is a huge help, but still, there's no way in the game to really go back and easily find which ones we've missed. Even with a list like that, you might spend twenty minutes trying for a drop before realizing you've already done that quest. Blizzard promised us a little while back that they'd be changing the "discovery" mechanic (so that we'd be able to see on the map which areas we hadn't discovered for the achivements yet), and an option like that might be helpful for cleaning up old quest -- say that low level quest tracking might work over the entire map, or there might be a magic box in Dalaran that would have whatever quest items we might need.
The good news here is that Blizzard has built a fair amount of leeway into the quest achievements -- you won't need every single one to get the points, so the more obscure drop-based quests can probably go undone without worry. But just like the World Exploration achievements, a little more help finding the quests we might have missed would go a long way.
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.
Updated: There's been a lot of talk about this being an unsatisfactory change to the soul shard situation. I think it's important to note that Ghostcrawler mentioned two changes would be coming for drain soul. One will be a very large change that will significantly alter gameplay, and the other is more of a minor tweak. A stopgap measure while the larger change is worked on. I think it's safe to say that the above changes announced for 3.1 fall into the latter category, and we can look forward to more significant alterations later on. 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.