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The Colosseum: Retrospective and Analysis, pt. I - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 20:00:00 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.

Season 4 ended some time ago, and Wrath is only a few weeks away. While we don't have official word about when Season 5 will start, it probably won't be until Blizzard's finished balancing the classes. Right now, the Arena is a sort of blasted land, filled with teams taking advantage of the relatively unrated play to experiment with new compositions, new talents, and new strategies.

We're going to take advantage of the break ourselves, by looking at the collective of interviews we've gathered in our three months of the Colosseum. There are definitely common themes across what each Arena fighter had to say, and it'd be helpful to take some time and understand what those common themes are, and what they say about the Arena.

Continue reading The Colosseum: Retrospective and Analysis, pt. I

The Colosseum: Retrospective and Analysis, pt. I originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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All the World's a Stage: So you still want to be a blood elf - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 19:00:00 EST


This installment of All the World's a Stage is the eleventh in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself. This article is largely a continuation of last week's article, which has been updated for accuracy.

There has been a great deal of change and evolution of the world of World of Warcraft, and to a certain extent, all the available player races have gone through changes because of the events that have taken place. The original release content had lots of dungeons and quests and things going on, but each one seemed to tell the story of a place rather than the story of a people. Like each place, the stories told there seemed static, as the players grew and moved on, the places all remained the same.

The Burning Crusade, however, began to change all that. Instead of just adding new content with each patch, some aspects of the old content were changed as well, with certain characters and peoples coming to the foreground as major antagonists. Players were no longer merely vague adventurers tasked with saving the world from one giant evil monster or another, their characters had vested interests in bringing about some change in their circumstances.

For no group of player-aligned characters was this as true as it was with the blood elves. From the time The Burning Crusade was released, up to now, when the next chapter of the Warcraft story (Wrath of the Lich King) is starting to unfold, the blood elves are the only player faction whose leader has turned into a major boss in a dungeon (not once but twice!), whose capital city has been deprived of one of its most significant residents (who also ended up turned into a major dungeon boss), and whose culture has undergone a complete turnaround over the course of this expansion's expanding storyline.

The draenei, of course, played a huge role in the story of The Burning Crusade, but in the end, they were mostly just very strong supporting characters. The blood elves were the stars of the show.

Continue reading All the World's a Stage: So you still want to be a blood elf

All the World's a Stage: So you still want to be a blood elf originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wrath or rise of the Which King? - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 18:00:00 EST


Reader Duck Knight tipped us off to the box-art of the Battle for Middle-Earth II expansion from Electronic Arts. Also known as The Rise of the Witch-King, which sounds confusingly similar to the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King, the 2006 game's cover art looks curiously reminiscent of Blizzard's latest offering. Or vice versa. The game, which was based on the the movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, takes its art cue from the films. On the other hand, Arthas' armor is based on the cinematic from 2003's Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. I don't suppose Tolkien ever actually drew the Nazgûl armor...

Who copied whom? Probably nobody, really. It just so happens that ghastly blue seems to be the favorite color of evil leader-types and their undead minions. Witch Kings and Lich Kings also probably shop from the same armor boutiques, considering the similarity in their helmets -- eyelets, open-mouth design, and crown-like extensions. Fortunately for all of us, the Lord of the Rings video game is already a few years old, so we probably won't make the mistake of picking the wrong game up from the shelves when Wrath finally arrives this November 13.

Wrath or rise of the Which King? originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ask a Lore Nerd: The Eye of the Tiger and the Warglaives of Azzinoth - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 17:00:00 EST

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week Alex Ziebart answers your quests about the lore in the World of Warcraft. If you have any questions, no matter how big or small they might be, ask them in the comments section below and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

Last week on Ask a Lore Nerd, Offsprnge (one of your fellow readers) asked me to write this week's edition with some Eye of the Tiger playing. I guess I came across a little tired last week, so I'm going to do just that. To fit the groove, I ask all of you guys one favor: Read the questions and answers in the voice of Rocky Balboa. If it will help you get in the mood, go ahead and read it out loud in that voice.

And since we're already talking about it, Offsprnge asked...

Right, I think I got a good one by the way, perhaps it is so obvious I should slap myself, but the whole battle for Mount Hyjal features the Burning Legion invading with it's commander Archimonde, however, why are there hordes of ghouls, liches, necromancers, frost wyrms and "all that kind of thing!" (find the reference).

Again, like another reader mentioned, at the time the Lich King was still feigning allegiance to the Burning Legion. It doesn't pay to make the Legion suspicious too early. At the same time, the Lich King played a role in weakening Archimonde's forces: He used Illidan to destroy Tichondrius and his forces, which were to play support for Archimonde. The Scourge that were at the Battle of Mount Hyjal were sacrifices, pawns to keep Archimonde overconfident.

Continue reading Ask a Lore Nerd: The Eye of the Tiger and the Warglaives of Azzinoth

Ask a Lore Nerd: The Eye of the Tiger and the Warglaives of Azzinoth originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Beast Mastery: Spiders - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 16:00:00 EST


I like the creepy-crawlies. As soon as my hunter hit Level 15, I made my way to the Skittering Dark in Silverpine Forest and hunted down Krethis Shadowspinner. Sure, she looked exactly like the low-level spiders in Tirisfal Glades, but how could I not want her? With a name like that, she was sure to be deadly. Sure enough, she was, and she managed to kill me several times before I was finally able to tame her. If I had waited 5 more levels, Freezing Trap would've made things much easier.

Of course, over the course of leveling, I had to abandon her (leveling pets was nowhere near as easy as it is post-Patch 3.0.2) but these days I keep the company of Leech Widow from the Wetlands. Yes, it's a generic white spider, but you'll understand these things if you have a Hunter. The cool thing is, Spiders now appropriately have the Web ability that we only used to envy from NPCs. It entraps opponents for 4 seconds from 20 yards and has a 40 second cooldown. It's a damage-less version of the Exotic Pet Silithid's Venom Web Spray. The good news is, the damage doesn't really matter. You'll want to use the web merely to keep opponents at a distance. This ability makes them a great choice for Level 19 twinks.

Continue reading Beast Mastery: Spiders

Beast Mastery: Spiders originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Get your freebies! - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 15:00:00 EST
It's a new month, and those lovable little swindlers we call the Consortium are offering up free gems once again.

Of course, they don't give away their best stuff to just anyone.

The better your reputation, the higher the chance you have of being granted a blue quality gem, although nothing is a guarantee, even at exalted.

Head out to Aeris Landing in South Western Nagrand and try your luck. You're guaranteed to come away with something, and you might get more than you'd hoped!

Check out our complete list of the bags you get at each reputation level for more information.

Didn't get what you needed? Check out our Consumer's Guide to Gems to get the scoop on how to go about choosing and acquiring gems for your gear.

Get your freebies! originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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An end to Hallow's End - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST


Hallow's End went away today at 4am server time, just as sneakily as it arrived. The end of the Seasonal Event brought to a close about a month of the Scarlet Monastery being just about the most popular instance in the game. Some players ended the event completing the Meta-Achievement while others, like myself, fell short. With a mere twenty-eight minutes to go, I rounded up a bunch of guildies and used up about five summons to try and complete Sinister Calling.

While I ended up missing the Hallowed Helm, two Squashling pets dropped out of five tries, which was a pretty good deal for the short time we had. We ran out of time on the last summon... as my guildie completed the quest to call out the Headless Horseman, he was able to utter the challenge but nothing came out from the grave. In fact, as the clock struck precisely at 4pm, the giant pumpkin disappeared, leaving us stupefied.

It was a fun Hallow's End event, even if it did get rudely interrupted by zombies. I hope that unlike me, most of you got what you needed from the event. The mount would've been nice, but I suppose there's always next year. By that time, I hope Blizzard will update the encounter for Level 80 with matching new loot. The Headless Horseman has about 12 months to level up.

An end to Hallow's End originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday Morning Funnies: No whiners - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 13:30:00 EST
Sunday is once again upon us. Today is your last day to attempt to get your Arcanite Ripper, and in only eleven days, Wrath of the Lich King will be upon us!

Know of a WoW-related comic you'd like to see featured here? Post it in the comments section!

Sunday Morning Funnies: No whiners originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ask a Beta Tester: Lordaeron, epic quests, and other things - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 12:00:00 EST


Welcome back to Ask a Beta Tester, where we answer your questions about the Wrath of the Lich King beta! Let's get things started with Chris's question...

I really enjoy the Epic quest in Nagrand to bring Thrall to meet his grandmother. Is there anything like that in Wrath where you have to complete all the quests in one zone before you get an epic quest to complete?

Well, there are a lot of quest chains. Maybe not that long, but certainly not less epic. That doesn't mean the chains are short, either. They just don't necessarily require completing every other quest in the zone. Some of the stories start the moment you step into a zone and last straight through until you're ready to leave it again, but there are plenty of other quests you do on the way. They're less of a prize for 'beating the zone' and more an everpresent story.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Lordaeron, epic quests, and other things

Ask a Beta Tester: Lordaeron, epic quests, and other things originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Around Azeroth: Put your head on my shoulder - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 10:00:00 EST

It's traditional to have a metaphorical angel and devil on your shoulders when you're making tough decisions. The inveterately good tauren must be the angel, but it doesn't look like this malevolent statue (located in Nagrand) has been taking angelic advice. It might be time for Salamando of <Team Wasted> on Spinebreaker-EU to hop on his flying mount and hit the road, before the statue shakes him off into the Twisting Nether and he has to search around for his corpse.

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 aroundazeroth@wowinsider.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.

Around Azeroth: Put your head on my shoulder originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ghostcrawler and the bears - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 09:00:00 EST
The developers have been communicative to an unprecedented extent (for them) during the final phases of Wrath of the Lich King's development, but several classes and specs still have concerns. One of those is Feral Druids. We've been set up to tank as well as anyone, and DPS as well as most (not with the same spec, but dual specs should make this easy to handle). However, we still have some obvious weak points. For instance, take mana in PvP. Our class's defining feature is our ability to shift between forms, but if we have a puny mana pool (as most Ferals do), we can't do this very often.

Ghostcrawler has a "Feral Q&A" thread up where he answers several questions that he's noticed people asking around the boards. Unfortunately, we're not necessarily going to like a lot of the answers, which (in this blogger's opinion) tend towards "working as intended" and "it's fine, learn to play." To be fair, he gives much more nuanced explanations, but that's the bottom line in most cases. That may be because Feral actually is fine, but I definitely think there are some valid concerns. Protector of the Pack is just goofy the way it is, as well as taking away the fun of being super-durable while out soloing. Swipe should really be 360°; every single other tank class has a 360° AoE, and we don't really have anything to compensate. And don't get me started about feral form customization (which GC says is coming eventually, but they've been saying that for years).

Continue reading Ghostcrawler and the bears

Ghostcrawler and the bears originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Breakfast Topic: A knock on knockbacks - Sun, 02 Nov 2008 08:00:00 EST
The game-changing Echoes of Doom patch brought in a slew of new abilities and some of them included this nifty little feature called 'knockback', which effectively knocks back enemy players and NPCs. It's a whole lot of fun, particularly if you're knocking them off the bridge in Dun Baldar. I've been on the nasty receiving end of a knockback that sent me to my death in Eye of the Storm. I think it's a lot of fun, and it really does create some interesting conundrums in Arenas.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled by them. Our very own Allison Robert, bear tank extraordinaire, has torn out about half her hair (poor Allie!) in frustration from knockbacks messing with tanking. She implores you to use these abilities with restraint for the sake of her sanity. It's a level-headed request that Blizzard hears. They've recently hinted at new Glyphs that will remove the knockback effect from certain spells such as Blast Wave, Typhoon, and Thunderstorm.

How's your experience with knockback effects? Have you used it to kill enemies in Battlegrounds? Used it to escape some pesky Rogue slicing and dicing your butt? Maybe you've even used it in *gasp* an instance and rearranged the mobs that the tank so painstakingly positioned through the pull. How have you been (ab)using knockbacks? What's your take on the new mechanic? Yay? Nay? Art-fay?

Breakfast Topic: A knock on knockbacks originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sun, 02 Nov 2008 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Arcane Brilliance: Inscription and the common Mage - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 20:00:00 EST



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.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Inscription and the common Mage

Arcane Brilliance: Inscription and the common Mage originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Light and How to Swing It: Uncle - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 18:00:00 EST


Uncle.

I cry uncle.

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.

Continue reading The Light and How to Swing It: Uncle

The Light and How to Swing It: Uncle originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Blizzard's 2008 pumpkin carving contest winners announced - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 16:00:00 EST


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.

Blizzard's 2008 pumpkin carving contest winners announced originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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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.

Brew of the Month: Bartlett's Bitter Brew originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ask a Beta Tester: Icecrown, quest rewards, and scary monsters - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 13:00:00 EST


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.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Icecrown, quest rewards, and scary monsters

Ask a Beta Tester: Icecrown, quest rewards, and scary monsters originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Path of a Hero lets you blog your character - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 12:00:00 EST


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.

Path of a Hero lets you blog your character originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Around Azeroth: Fairy lights - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 10:00:00 EST


Pop quiz, hotshots! What's going on in this picture, submitted by Ben?
  1. A mage is demonstrating the new Arcane Barrage spell from Wrath.
  2. The ghostly spirits of all those who have fallen into the Ironforge lava are coming back for vengeance.
  3. A male and a female gas cloud are totally hooking up right in the middle of town where everyone can see them.
  4. 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 aroundazeroth@wowinsider.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.

Around Azeroth: Fairy lights originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Breakfast Topic: The month of the Lich King - Sat, 01 Nov 2008 08:00:00 EST


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.

Breakfast Topic: The month of the Lich King originally appeared on WoW Insider on Sat, 01 Nov 2008 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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