But maybe not for the reason you think. Beatus on Kul Tiras posted a pretty well-written complaint about the layout of Wintergrasp on the EU forums, and new blue poster Ancilorn speaks up with a little insight into just how Blizzard was planning to keep down the lag in WG. They were planning to spread players around to the towers in the southern side of the zone, thus allowing hundreds of players to play, but in a few separate groups conquering different objectives.
The only problem, says Ancilorn, is that there's not enough incentive to split players up -- people who go south miss out on honor and daily quests, and there's not enough reward to make them go that far. He says a retuning of the map will eventually be done to try and spread out the battle a little more.
Emblems of Conquest are the new Emblems of Valor - that is to say, they drop from the 25-man version of Ulduar and enable you to buy ilvl 226 stuff. This much we knew. What we haven't known, until now, is what exactly they'd let you buy.
With this latest PTR patch, the gear sold for Emblems of Conquest is now availabe. The names are placeholders ("Emblem of Conquest Healer Neck"), and the stats may also be relatively placeholder-y as well, but it's something to look at, anyway.
Currently up are:
Runed Orbs for 15 EoC; these are like Frozen Orbs and will be used for crafting.
Necklaces for 16 EoC.
Belts and gloves for 23 EoC.
Legs for 32 EoC.
Deadly Gladiator gear (38 EoC for hands and shoulders, 48 EoC for head, legs, and chest).
Tier 8.5 chest and head tokens for 48 EoC each.
Emblems of Valor for one EoC.
You can see the stats on everything over on the inimitable MMO-Champion, although I don't think the tier 8 vendors are implemented yet, so we still don't know the precise numbers on those. What I'm really anxious to have confirmed is that we'll be able to buy tier 8.0 with the Emblems of Valor that drop out of 10-man Ulduar - if that's not the case, I will be one very upset raider. And what's with some of those prices? 38 badges? Really?
A small patch was pushed to the 3.1 PTR earlier this afternoon, incrementing the build number from 9626 to 9627. Among other things, it contained a few changes for the professionals among us - specifically cooks, tailors, and scribes. These changes were of course data-mined by the MMO-Champion people, so they're not 100% reliable, but usually they work out to be correct.
A new recipe, Clamlette Magnifique, has been added, with the modest reagents of one Zesty Clam Meat. This will really help; there's a big hole in the cooking progression around that point, especially if you aren't also doing fishing at the time.
Lightweave Embroidery, a tailor-only cloak enchant, has been changed to give a chance to increase your spell power by 250 for 15 seconds when you cast a spell. This makes it much more appealing for healers, among other things, although with the squeeze on mana regeneration I'll probably keep my Darkglow.
Two new recipes have been added for Scribe-crafted offhands: Twilight Tome and Rituals of the New Moon. They each require five Ink of the Sea, five Resilient Parchment, and two Eternal Life. You can see a screenshot of the tooltips above (although the percentage breakdowns on those combat ratings are probably based on a level 1 character). They look cool, anyhow.
Some good stuff. I love PTRs; it's like Christmas for bloggers. I must say, though, I still find professions a little tedious and overall under-rewarding, considering the time and gold investments. On the other hand, I am really enjoying my very fast rug, so it's a bit of a toss-up.
So, my fellow shamans, we come to yet another PTR build. What changes are in store for shamans? Well, if you're elemental or resto... not much as yet. What's in store is two changes for enhancement shamans.
Stormstrike now lasts 12 sec (Up from 10 sec), cooldown lowered to 8 sec (Down from 10 sec)
Unleashed Rage now properly increases the expertise by 3/6/9 instead of the agility.
The Stormstrike changes are just plain buffs: more time to use the debuff properly and less time waiting for it to cool down. The only concern will be in fitting it properly into a rotation with Lava Lash, which has a six second cooldown. Frankly, it won't be that big a deal, it's still better to have access to it quicker.
We're reported on the new in-game dungeon maps that Blizzard has implemented before, and we've got the Ulduar maps for you tonight. These are coming fresh off the latest Patch 3.1 PTR build (#9637 for those keeping track).
The map seems to indicate there are five floor to Ulduar. There is also a mini-map overview that was complied a few days ago you can also check out.
Boss testing is commencing tonight, and we should have some more information and impressions up for you by tomorrow morning. We're also on the PTR now checking out other reported changes, we'll let you know what we dig up!
Daelo, our cloth-wrapped lead encounter designer, has just posted the schedule for which bosses will be tested in Ulduar on the 3.1 PTR this week. As you may be aware, they're not opening all bosses for testing at once (at least, not yet), and bosses are up only during certain hours, to let the devs watch players (try to) beat them.
This week, here's the schedule for the North American realms:
Tonight, Tuesday 3/3, starting at 4 PM PSTnow: Flame Leviathan, the (in-)famous vehicle boss. Only the 10-man version should be tested, as the 25-man one is "not properly tuned." I'm really curious to see how this fight is going to work out.
Wednesday, 3/4, starting at 4 PM PST: Ignis the Furnace Maker.
Thursday, 3/5, starting 4 PM PST: Hodir.
And for the European realms:
Wednesday, 4/3, 1 AM CET: Flame Leviathan, 10-man only.
Thursday, 5/3, 7 PM CET: Thorim.
Friday, 6/3, 7 PM CET: Freya.
Thorim on Thursday, Freya on friday? I think they did that on purpose. Daelo also promises that General Vezax and Razorscale will be soon available for European testers, and XT-002 Deconstructor for US testers.
Patch 3.1 PTR build 9637 Priest changes - Tue, 03 Mar 2009 18:00:00 EST As mentioned earlier today, a new build is being rolled out on the PTR this evening. The class changes contained within aren't as extensive as we first expected, but what Priests do have is pretty incredible... and somewhat expected, since we heard about a few of them before! There are a couple that are total news to us too, though. The PvP Shadow Priest is going to be very pleased with this patch. Let's take a look, shall we?
New Ability: Psychic Horror - You terrify the target, causing them to tremble in horror for 3 sec and drop all weapons for 10 sec. (Instant cast, 30 yard range, 1 minute cooldown.)
Um, yes please. This is going to be pretty incredible in PvP, especially the arena. Something like Psychic Horror is definitely a defense that the Shadow Priest needs. It's currently a 41 point talent in the Shadow tree, most certainly out of reach of Discipline or Holy. It's only a one point investment for Shadow Priests, so I fully expect this ability to make its way into a lot of PvE builds as well, at least pre-raiding. I could see myself using this quite thoroughly in 5-mans to take some heat off of the tank with the Disarm effect.
Quests added to mob tooltips on the PTR - Tue, 03 Mar 2009 17:00:00 EST The Godmother over at ALT:ernative ducked into the PTR recently, and noticed something new: Blizzard is apparently testing adding Questhelper-style notes to tooltips of the quest-related mobs you come across. This looks so familiar that I thought it was an addon, but no, apparently Blizzard really is planning to tell you when a mob you're looking at happens to be the target of a quest.
It shocked me for a second -- not only is this dumbing down the questing game even further (maybe someday we will have a large red arrow pointing out a quest target from zones away), but it seems to be an awfully big break in immersion. Blizzard is basically telling you that "this is the mob you need, right here," and actually reading the quest text becomes even less necessary.
But then I realized that tooltips themselves aren't exactly paragons of game immersion -- it's already a little jump in the reality of the game to see a box with a mob's name and level whenever you mouse over it. Tooltips are already where the UI meets the road, so to speak. And as for the "dumbing down" of the game, most experienced players already had this functionality through addons like Questhelper and MonkeyQuest anyway (and if you do plan to complain that this makes things way too easy, make sure Questhelper is out of your Addon directory before you start typing). But if the tips stay in the game when the patch goes live, questing will be that much easier for people who stick to the basic UI.
If you've never traded in a TCG code before, to do it you need to go down to the docks of Booty Bay and look for Landro Longshot. He's flanked by guards, so you can't really miss him. Ask him what he has to offer, select the Blood Of Gladiators set, and put in the following codes for the item you want:
Unless you've been living under a rock this past week, you've no doubt heard about this whole "Patch 3.1" thing. Yesterday Blizzard called it their largest content patch to date, and it certainly is shaping up to be that way.
The only problem with large content updates like this is that, well, they're large. They're ginormious. Mom! Meatloaf! Now! (Who can resist using two completely unrelated Will Ferrell quotes in the same paragraph?)
We've been updating the WoW Insider's Guide to Patch 3.1 quite a bit this past week, and have included all the content we've published concerning patch 3.1. Take a look at it and get all your questions answered. And if you have more questions, be sure to hop on over to The Queue and ask away.
Some of the highlight from this past week include:
Dresorull, a member of Blizzard's QA team, has just posted that the PTR is coming down (has come down by now, actually) for maintenance and a new build will be pushed through There's no ETA for when the realms will be coming back up, but it's safe to say that it will be a few hours at least. Dresorull also says they'll update the maintenance thread when they do have an ETA, so that's something we'll be keeping our eyes on.
There's sure to be a ton of changes in the patch, and as soon as we have more information, we'll be sure to pass it on to you. Personally, I'm looking forward to some of the little bugs in the Argent Tournament being cleared up so I can test out the rest of that chain, but I'll take what I can get! Tonight is going to be a busy night at the WoW Insider HQ, I suspect.
Of course, an achievement like that isn't meant to be easy. Some people in the thread suggest making it more like The Dedicated Few (so that not all the bosses have to be flawless in one run), but Bornakk says it's an achievement -- it's not required and if you really want to get the meaningless points, you'll just have to work around the disconnects. He's also shoring up discontent on the other side of things -- people are complaining that the Gonna Go When the Volcano Blows achievement is messing up their Sarth runs, because they're dodging insignificant damage rather than actually downing the boss. In fact, the easiest way to do that one is just to suicide in the very beginning (because the AoE can't hit corpses), and lots of people are doing that. Bornakk says change isn't likely -- the achievement is designed to be separate from gaining loot from the boss.
Bottom line on both of these is that they're achievements -- if they're hard or random or waste time, that's kind of the point. Blizzard may have caved on a few of the holiday achievements, but these endgame achievements aren't meant to be gotten easily or even without a little RNG help.
Why now's the best time to run BC content - Tue, 03 Mar 2009 13:00:00 EST Spartonian over on WoW LJ has been running some old content, and he points out something that everyone should hear: now is the absolute best time to be running the old Burning Crusade endgame. He says the contest is laughably easy with current endgame levels and gear, and yet, because we're still basically at the beginning of this expansion's endgame, there are still quite a few items that can be picked off of the end bosses in Black Temple and Sunwell (not to mention you can pick up the achievements for those places if you weren't able to down them before.
And he's right -- there are some nice trinkets still found in those old instances, and who wouldn't want to complete their Warglaive set or grab a Thori'dal from Sunwell? Sure, the stats may not be the best, but until the ammo changes go in, you can save money while soloing -- and own a legendary to boot.
Of course, when Ulduar shows up, we'll all likely be too busy with the new content (be it the raids or the Argent Tournment or whatever else you got) to go back to Burning Crusade. But now, during the downtime post-OS and Naxx, is the perfect time to go back and clean up the old content.
Northrend Newsflash, by Ninth Batter, is a really great idea. It's a video in the style of old American propaganda videos, but told from the perspective of the Scourge. The Lich King wants you!
I liked the shifting camera perspectives, since that really mimics the WWII style the author was aiming for. The voiceover's accent was close enough to get the job done. I appreciate that he wasn't quite as tinny or nasally as most of those old commenters tended to be, since that also tends to drive me up the wall.
The only segments during which the video lost me a bit were the interviews. They felt slow to me, and dragged down the pace of the rest of the video. While I understand what he was getting at, I could have skipped them in favor of a little faster tempo. This kind of video relies on the stylization in short bursts, and the longer interviews interrupt the flow of that, in my opinion. I'm not saying the interviews were bad, just that they seemed off-pace to me.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.
Ah, Rambo. He has a striking resemblance to certain staff members here at WoW Insider. But in the good way, sort of like the good way where I answer six of your questions today - with perhaps the best question saved for last.
"If you dual spec at 40 and in the process find out that you made a mistake on either one of your specs and need to fix it, is the cost 1000g again or the normal progression in cost to change a spec? Also, say you are leveling a pally and dual spec Ret and Prot and then get to 80 and want to do Prot and Holy. Are we looking at another 1000g?"
What are those fighter planes doing in the sky over Storm Peaks? And why is one red and smoking? Has Snoopy finally succeeded in his quest to take down the World War I flying ace? Or has the plane, upon dipping down below 20% health, simply enraged? (Thanks to Sqtsquish of Bloodhoof for the shot!)
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.
Introducing WoW Insider's Guild of the Month contest - Tue, 03 Mar 2009 09:00:00 EST Think your guild is one of the best in all of the World of Warcraft? Have you dominated your server since vanilla WoW, or run a packed RP event every week for years? Are you leading one of the biggest guilds in the game, running group after group through Naxx without any drama or wipes? Think your guild is awesome? Prove it!
WoW Insider is proud to present our brand new Guild of the Month contest. Each month, we'll be choosing a guild from the game who impresses us through performance in raiding, originality in what they do as a group, or just plain old community (because casual guilds need love, too). And the winner will not only get profiled here on the site as our Guild of the Month, but they'll also get a $100 gift certificate to Warcraft.Swagdog.com, where they'll be able to pick up custom-made guild shirts for the top members of the guild.
To nominate your guild, just send a short message (no longer than 200 words, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org stating why your guild should be chosen as a winner. Make sure to tell us why your guild stands out from the rest -- you don't have to have conquered all of the raid content, but you do have to be doing something extraordinary and special with your little ingame community. Every month, we'll choose a winner from those entries, and profile them here on the site (so don't enter if you don't want to get profiled), as well as award them the gift certificate from the kind folks at Swagdog. More rules after the break:
Our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe - it's not all just World of Warcraft over there. Which is not to say we don't love WoW! Our weekly roundup will try to give you a look at the best WoW-related content on Massively from the last week. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed to follow our ongoing coverage of your favorite game.
World of Warcraft as addictive as cocaine? BS! Swedish news outlet, The Local, interprets this with the headline 'World of Warcraft is as addictive as cocaine', a statement that is neither supported by the quotes, nor apparently supported in fact.
The Daily Grind: Will you be taking advantage of Dual Specs? Will you be making use of dual specs in World of Warcraft, or are you pretty set with your current spec? If you're not going to use it regularly, will you instead use it for trying out other builds for fun? If you will be using it, have you got your two favorite specs planned out yet? What will you be switching between?
Sometimes, it's the little things in (virtual) life After playing so many games, there are moments that stick out in my mind that make me smile. Some of them are these really epic stories about boss battles, or hard fought PvP moments, or personal notes of glory and triumph. Yet others are drastically different. They're calm, touching moments, where the game either really affected me on an emotional level or wowed me with some attention to detail.
WoW Lead Systems Designer tells people to play other games It must be nice to dominate the MMORPG market so thoroughly that you actually recommend your players try out other competitors to stave off burnout in your game. Ghostcrawler, Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft did just that. "If you're just burned out, it's also not the worst thing in the world to try out some other games -- the past couple of years has been great for them. Just check back in with WoW every now and then."
MMOGology: Phasing phwns the phuture It's been fascinating to watch MMOGs evolve over the past fifteen years I've been playing them. They started out as text based worlds populated by a few hundred people with over-active imaginations. Today they're a mainstream hobby endorsed by celebrities like Mr. T and William Shatner. Whoulda thunk?
Some days, I just don't feel like playing my main character, so I hop onto an alt. Before long, I encounter some poor clothie of the opposite faction camping an elite quest mob hoping that someone else will show up and offer to group. Usually, the ground is speckled with skeletons.
Then the dance ensues. I salute, and the Mage waves. The Mage starts /saying things that I don't understand. I shrug. I wait for awhile, hoping that this will signal that I am willing to let the Mage go first. I'm hoping that my politeness infers that I will help.
Finally, I point at the Mage, then at the mob. Taking a leap of faith, the Mage tags it, and I run around behind to help, perhaps with a guildmate at my side.
After our parting farewells, I sit down to await a respawn. Personally, I think it would be much easier if I could say "I'm here to save the day!" or "I come in peace." Of course, there is some charm involved in finding a way to use our current emotes to communicate other messages, especially after Blizz added new ones in 2008.
How do you communicate to a player of the opposite faction messages that aren't directly built-in to emotes? Are you aching for a certain emote that would help you do this, or do you enjoy having to puzzle it out by piecing together existing ones?