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Kalgan says Season 4 not coming anytime soon - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 20:00:00 EST
Although we've speculated in the past as to when Arena Season 4 will be going live, our anticipation fanned by the revelation of more and more Brutal Gladiator gear, Kalgan pops by the WoW General discussion forums to pour cold water on everyone's expectations by saying that Season 4 will start "Not very soon." He explains further that "S3 rewards have quite a bit of life left in them before they start to feel obsoleted by pve gear." Given that the Arena items uncovered so far in the PTR are only a fraction of what is supposed to be a wide collection, this sounds more than plausible.

As Drysc explained earlier in the same post, PvP gear is designed to match PvE gear progression -- for instance, Arena Season 3 items are roughly on par with Black Temple and Mount Hyjal gear. The Sunwell Plateau needs to be unlocked in stages, as quests and raid drops open up more content, meaning most of the PvE gear that is a step up from BT/MH gear won't be available until at least a few weeks after Patch 2.4 goes live. It stands to reason that Arena Season 4 will only begin when most of the PvE progression has access to the Sunwell Plateau's latter bosses such as M'uru and Kil'jaeden. Considering that Patch 2.4 doesn't seem quite done yet, Season 4 is probably quite a ways off.

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Inscriptions hidden in patch 2.4 - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 19:33:00 EST

Blizzard has included the first look at inscriptions via hidden entries in the patch 2.4 data files. Inscription will be a new profession that will be released with Wrath of the Lich King. We are treated to an early glimpse at the Demonic Runes inscription that will increase fire damage done by the Mage Fireball spell by 50 additional points. The data is courtesy of WoW Head.

There are two important things to realize from this newly discovered information. First, it shows that Blizzard is hard at work on Wrath of the Lich King, and is already starting to include content in the patch files. We saw this same behavior in patch 2.0 with Jewelcrafting recipes.

Continue reading Inscriptions hidden in patch 2.4

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Last Week on Massively: WoW-related stories - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 19:00:00 EST
This week's round up of WoW-related posts on our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe dominated by World of Warcraft. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.

As the Worlds Turn: Get your fix
With so many games out there, presenting different worlds, different rules, different ways to play, what is it that grabs hold of players and, for some, doesn't let go?

Does WoW really need to be 'beaten'?
When will the constant cries of 'Will this be the WoW-killer?' be stifled once and for all? Let's instead concentrate on the far more interesting question: 'Why does there need to be a WoW-killer?'

Pong creator Nolan Bushnell to enter MMO space
The man many call 'the Father of Videogames' -- as he is responsible for founding Atari and creating Pong -- Nolan Bushnell was recently interviewed by GameSpot at this year's GDC.

Behind the Curtain: Should raiders get special treatment?
Loot should always be a secondary concern in MMOs. I've been seeing more and more, the idea that developers should put the concerns of those players whose sole or primary concern is the acquisition of loot above the concerns of other players.

Clan Gear: guild clothing for the masses
Adam and Freya Chapman have run Threadsafe, a direct-to-garment printing business, for the last two years. Now, in conjunction with Adam's brother Keith, they're opening Clan Gear, a direct-to-garment printing outlet for gamers, where the focus on the printing is your artwork, your character, and your designs.
Investment of $1 billion+ wouldn't dethrone WoW, exec says
According to a report, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick stated in an investor meeting that his company had done extensive research on the MMO category, and came to the conclusion that even a game bolstered by an initial investment of $500 million to $1 billion would still probably have a hell of a time competing in the same space as the Blizzard juggernaut.

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The Art of War(craft): Twinkage Part I - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 18:00:00 EST


In the wild and wooly world of WoW PvP, there's one interesting subcategory that deserves mention -- the twinks. Defined as characters who are disproportionately powerful for their level, twinks are either loved or hated. On one hand, if you have a Level 70 character (or a few max-level friends), it's rather easy to 'twink up' another toon. On the other hand, many players who are leveling for the first time may find their Battlegrounds experience diminish when they encounter (and consequently have their faces smashed in by) ridiculously-geared and enchanted opponents on the field. In fact, twinks are a subculture of their own, with more than a few guilds set up exclusively for twink PvP.

Love them or hate them, twinks are here to stay. In fact, in response to a question at last year's Blizzcon, Blizzard responded that they were actually considering Arenas for characters Levels 19 and 29 (the common twink level limits). The problem, they said, was designing rewards for them and if there was sufficient player demand. Designing rewards for twinks seems to be a hyperbolic response considering that it's likely that the only characters that will excel in those low levels are already well-geared. That said, there is a small subculture of players who enjoy PvP at low levels to the point of wanting an experience toggle to keep their toons at a comfortably low level.

The reasons why people twink up toons varies, although most of these players have one or more Level 70 toons and want to have a little fun being overpowered in the Battlegrounds. Personally, I enjoy PvP at max level because it affords me the greatest challenge and gives me the most skills to work with. At lower levels, all classes have a limited number of skills and -- here's the important part -- not all classes will be good to PvP with because not all classes have access to key PvP skills yet. However, I'm sure a lot of people find twink PvP a lot of fun, even if they eventually plan to level past the twink stage. For purposes of this article, we'll take a look at Level 29 twinkage... it's not too low to have extremely limited skills, yet not too high so as to have too much of a skill discrepancy between classes.

Continue reading The Art of War(craft): Twinkage Part I

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Epic Gems for Badges on the PTR - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 16:15:00 EST

Here's some news from the PTR hot off the presses via MMO Champion: Shaani the jewelcrafter is now selling epic gems previously only dropped in 25-man dungeons for 15 badges apiece, and all the recipes to cut them for gold at various levels of Shattered Sun Offensive Reputation. So if you don't raid, and don't mind doing 3 or 4 heroic runs for each gem, you'll be able to socket all that new badge gear too. It looks like it was unlocked with the Razorthorn Root daily, so if you want those gems, be sure to get your friends and guildies on doing that daily once it's unlocked on your server come 2.4

While you're there, you can also grab a new daily from Mar'nah the alchemist which will reward a Bloodberry Elixir, which provides +15 to all stats for an 2 hours, but only on the Sunwell Plateau itself (thanks for catching the Sunwell-only restriction, Aikiwoce).

The badgification of epic gear continues apace. What will be interesting to see is if Blizzard is primarily doing this to close the gear gap between casuals and raiders for WoTLK, or if this marks a new loot philosophy that will continue into WoTLK. Will we be able to buy Icecrown Glacier gems for badges as well?

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WoW Insider Weekly - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 15:30:00 EST
Here's your weekly sampling of our weekly content from the writers at WoW Insider. Every week we post columns about classes, guilds, addons, professions, and all aspects of this great game.

Know Your Lore: Oshu'gun
KYL takes a look at the secret Naaru spaceship embedded in Nagrand. Oh, didn't know that was there? It is.
Encrypted Text: Raiding as a rogue, part 1
Going instance running with your endgame rogue? Make sure to check out this guide to what to do with those daggers when you have 24 other people in the group.
Insider Trader: Rounding up 2.4 profession changes, part 1
What's changing in the world of professions in patch 2.4? Let Amanda M lay it all out for you.
Guildwatch: Running a Karathon
Backstabs, betrayals, and loot ninjas, oh my! It's all in your weekly look at guild drama, downed news, and recruiting from around the realms.
More of our best weekly content after the jump.

Continue reading WoW Insider Weekly

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New screenshot galleries up at the official World of Warcraft site - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 15:00:00 EST
If world PvP or looking at pretty pictures is your thing, you might want to head over to the main WoW site today, where Drysc has announced the posting of two new player submitted screen shot galleries showing world PvP action and Halaa fighting. It looks like some people had a lot of fun making these, and I have to admit, they've made me more nostalgic for the old Southshore-Tarren Mill fight days. Maybe I'll try heading out to Halaa and making some screen shots of my own. I've been meaning to get in some practice for Lake Wintergrasp anyhow, so this is as good a time as any!

How about the rest of you? Are these galleries inspiring you to go grab your sword and fight the Horde (Or grab your kitchen appliance and fight the Alliance, as the case may be)?


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WoW Insider Show Episode 27: Impressing class leads and improving Lifetap - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 14:30:00 EST


Turpster wasn't actually around for this episode of our podcast, but just in case you really enjoy his tunes (that we usually play during music breaks on the live show), both of his albums are now available for download in the WoW Insider Show forums. Enjoy. And the latest episode of the WoW Insider Show is also up for your listening pleasure right now on WoW Radio -- in this, Episode 27, Duncor, Daniel Whitcomb, and John "BigBearButt" Petricelli and I sat down and talked about the biggest issues in the last week in Warcraft:
  • We hit up reader email as usual, including whether the game is more "carebear" than it used to be, whether Blizzard should update pre-60 quests, and exactly how you can impress your guild's officers and class leads
  • We chatted about the Warlock's Lifetap nerf and what it means for the rest of the game
  • Does it matter to us exactly what classes the CMs or the devs play?
  • And we had a small bit of commentary about the results of our patch 2.4 guess contest
Plus much, much more. Make sure to give it a listen -- you can use any of the links below to jump right in and hear our podcast. And don't forget, we do this every Saturday, so next weekend at 3:30pm EST, you can tune in to WoW Radio and hear us do this live. See you then.

[Listen] to this week's show.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
[RSS] Get your favorite reader in on the fun.

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Raid Rx: Little guild, little guild... Let me in! - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 14:00:00 EST

Raid Rx is designed to encapsulate and cure the shock and horror that is 25-man raid healing. Ok, so it's mostly horror... Anyways, if you're a big fan of X-TREME Whack-A-Mole (or are being forced into it against your will) this is the column for you. I had planned to finish the title with "Not by the hair on this Dwarf's chinny chin chin!!" but I've been foiled by the T5 hood. Sad.

Many moons ago, I covered what a healing lead needed to get their 25-man off the ground and into mob-infested content. Today I'd like to look at the other side of the coin - what it takes to get into a 25-man raiding guild as a healer.

There are two common paths into 25-man raiding. The first is bum a ride with your Karazhan groups to Gruul, Mags and onward into infamy. This is pretty ideal since everyone you're playing with is continually at the same level of progression, like gear and raid faction rep. You should also have some experience playing with your fellow healers, at least in pairs.

The second way to get into 25-man raids is to transfer guilds, typically because your current one has been unable to progress for whatever reason. This isn't always an easy process, especially since guilds can be as picky as they choose and it's up to you to make a good impression. Since this is probably the most difficult way to get into 25-mans, I'm going to cover what you need to do to be successful at getting your foot in the door from entry to end-game guilds. Right after the break, that is!

Continue reading Raid Rx: Little guild, little guild... Let me in!

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Brutal Gladiator and Guardian goodness - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 13:30:00 EST


More news on the PvP item front: MMO Champion has uncovered more Season 4 items on the PTR. While they're not yet available from any vendor, it seems like the first Brutal Gladiator items have been appearing in trickles, including the first and so far only weapon, a 2-handed sword. The new sword seems to be taking after the trend started by Season 3 which added Armor Penetration into the item points. It's a good bet that all other Season 4 melee weapons will also contain Armor Penetration. The weapon also seems to be a massive upgrade over the previous season's Vengeful Gladiator's Greatsword, which has a top-end of 580 while the new weapon appears to have a top-end of 624, a full 44 more than its predecessor. In contrast, the Vengeful weapon only had 31 over the Merciless Gladiator's Greatsword. The PTR files peg the Season 4 2-hander at 144.4 damage per second, a whopping 10.2 DPS over Season 3's greatsword, which in turn was only 7.3 DPS over Season 2's greatsword.

The Honor-purchasable PvP non-set items have also been revealed to be called Guardian gear, following Season 1's General, Season 2's Veteran's, and Season 3's Vindicator's items. Just like their predecessors, the new belt, boots, and bracers are a visual match for their corresponding Arena set. This should be welcome news to those who like to look their prettiest in public. While the prices haven't been specified, there's good reason to believe that they'll match current Vindicator gear Honor prices, which means it's probably a good idea to start saving up those Honor and Arena points now. It looks like Season 4 might be coming out sooner than we think.

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Tournament Test Realm: The good, the bad, and the bovine - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 13:00:00 EST


The Arena Tournament Test Realm (TTR) has been live for a few days now. It seems there have been some hiccups, which is to be expected during a stress test. Hortus has popped up in a few instances on the TTR forum to address some of the major concerns that players have brought up.

Lag is far and away the biggest issue on the TTR. Hortus indicated that one of the main functions of the TTR is measuring the best way to handle the massive number of contenders on the official tournament server. Blizzard currently has no plans for opening up any new TTRs to relive the stress. Logging into the server, I find the term "laggy" to be an understatement. Movement is dizzying, and players crowd around.

Continue reading Tournament Test Realm: The good, the bad, and the bovine

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WoW Moviewatch: Second Skin Trailer and SXSW - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 12:00:00 EST

With my move to Austin complete, all that's left is to dominate South by Southwest (SXSW) this weekend. Pure West will be premiering their MMO documentary, Second Skin, on Friday, March 7th. Yours truly will be there to get the goods on all the WoW action.

Tune in this weekend for SXSW tips on video editing, sound formatting, and a slew of other fascinating topics. In the meantime, check out the high resolution version of the trailer.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Shifting Perspectives: Druid community speaks out on proposed Lifebloom nerf - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 11:30:00 EST

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week John Patricelli, sometimes known as the Big Bear Butt Blogger, discusses the proposed changes to Lifebloom in patch 2.4 and the reaction of various members of the Druid community.

As we've mentioned in a previous post here at WoW Insider, one of the proposed changes currently on the Public Test Realm is to the bread and butter ability of healing Druids; Lifebloom.

To remind you of what we're talking about, the following note went up on the PTR patch notes;

Lifebloom: the healing coefficient has been reduced. This spell will no longer cause error messages when interacting with Spellsteal or while the Druid is under the effects of a Mind Control.

Now, needless to say, that kind of vague description is enough to make the most toughened Tree blink and shed a leaf or two in sudden fear.

The healing coefficient has been reduced? Well, by how much? And how the heck is that gonna affect me in PvP? In raids? And above all else, how can we stop this from happening to us? Anybody? Please?

Well, today we're going to talk a little about what the Resto Druid community has discovered about this proposed change, and gather reactions from across the Druiding community.

Lots more after the break!

Continue reading Shifting Perspectives: Druid community speaks out on proposed Lifebloom nerf

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15 Minutes of Fame: Leadership by committee - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 11:00:00 EST


15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - both the renowned and the relatively anonymous.

At first glance, the tip 15 Minutes of Fame first received from Nocturne on the Khadgar realm appeared to be one of that "Interview my GM; he's the coolest evah!" kind of tips: "very helpful to all players"; "truthful"; "anxious to make compromises that suit all players"; blahblahblah ... But buried near the end of the note, we spotted this little gem: "We have a rotating GM system which sees all officers take a spot in the leader chair! Weird, huh?"

Being insatiably curious about anything even remotely "Weird, huh?" -- as well as harboring a voyeuristic fascination with what most people would consider the train wreck of leadership by committee - we hit the Reply button. What we found at the other end: a fun-loving group of European raiders that rotates administrative tasks so that everyone gets the chance to relax and enjoy the fruits of their common effort. We visited with a half-dozen of the officers' cadre to uncover the secrets of their success.

Continue reading 15 Minutes of Fame: Leadership by committee

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New PvP mounts: Swift Warstrider and Black War Elekk - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 10:30:00 EST


As previously reported, the latest push from the notoriously progressive Patch 2.4 revealed that a Black War Elekk has been added to the game, but some more digging has also unveiled the Swift Warstrider, a PvP version of the oversized chickens that Blood Elves ride. The models for both mounts have been in the game files since The Burning Crusade was launched but were never introduced into the game, despite slavering anticipation from many players. It looks like there'll be a use for those extra Marks of Honor, after all, as the mounts are finally available on the PTR from each faction's respective Mount vendors -- Raider Bork in the Hall of Legends for the Horde and Lieutenant Karter in the Champion's Hall for the Alliance -- for 30 Marks of Honor from Alterac Valley, Arathi Basin, and Warsong Gulch.

Strangely enough, the current model for the actual Warstrider on the PTR seems to be the Swift White Hawkstrider which drops of Kael'thas in the Magister's Terrace, rather than the customary black mount in the game files. This can possibly change when Patch 2.4 finally goes live, or it could stay the way it is... Patch 2.3 on the PTR had one color for the Cenarion War Hippogryph while there were several models found in the game files, including a lilac one that my wife fell in love with and was prepared to pony up 2,000 gold for. The Black War Elekk also currently shows the Hawkstrider icon, rather than the normal Elekk icon. It looks like the patch isn't quite ready to go live just yet. Enjoy the mounts!

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Around Azeroth: The Silithus landscape - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 10:00:00 EST


While the alien landscape of Silithus may be familiar to many of us, there are many more who are relatively new to the game and never spent time among the insect swarms and underground hives of the desert zone. Player Thirlwell of the Murder By Numbers guild on the Khadgar realm sends us this ominous shot to remind us of places yet unexplored by many on their race to cross through the Dark Portal.

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because 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 prefer full screen shots without the UI showing. And please, no more sunsets. No, really. Ok, only if it's a sunrise in new Patch 2.4 lands. We'll take those anytime.

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About the Bloggers: Marcie Knox - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 09:45:00 EST

Twice a week, our writers will tell you more about themselves, and let you get to know them and the characters they play a little better. Click here to read more About the Bloggers.

What do you do for WoW Insider?
I write the weekly Raid Rx column every Tuesday and filled in on Ready Check for a bit. Occasionally you'll see me put up a post about something I've come across or make a guest appearance on another column, but between work and WoW, Raid Rx is plenty for me.

What's your main right now?
I play Valyre, Blood Elf Holy Paladin, queen of lewts and all things pink and purple. Currently I'm my guild's healing lead, webmaster, recruitment officer, and general avoider of MH. Someday our Priests and Locks will have spent enough of their DKP for me to get the T6 shoulders. Until then, I drool on those that have them.

Continue reading About the Bloggers: Marcie Knox

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Omen in Patch 2.4: Even bigger, even better - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 09:30:00 EST
With Patch 2.4 comes a brand new combat log and logging system, with tons of new features and capabilities. As a side effect of this, any mod or addon that uses the combat log to gather information will need to be rewritten, including the raiders' sidekick Omen.

Good news! The author has not been idle since the patch 2.4 test realms have gone up. Luckily for all of you, I have the pleasure of raiding with Antiarc(that little screenshot you've seen so often on WoW Insider is my raid group), so I've been able to get a little bit of a preview. You see that Omen screenshot on the right side there? That's us. In the coming weeks, columnist Sean Forsgren will have something more in-depth and technical for you, but for now, I'm going to walk you through the basics.

The new version of Omen, while remaining light on CPU usage, has gained the ability to track threat on multiple mobs with the same name very accurately, thanks to Blizzard's combat log revamp. In addition to that, Omen 2.0 has a few other new features. Some of them are, as I said, quite technical and won' t mean much to anybody but the modding folk. Sean will handle that quite well, I'm sure. For those of us without extensive mod knowledge, there's still some really great stuff. If you're interested, hop on past the jump and we'll get right into it!

Continue reading Omen in Patch 2.4: Even bigger, even better

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WoW Lore: Zul'aman vs. Sunwell Plateau - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 09:00:00 EST


So... how is Blizzard doing on Lore?

Ever since the Burning Crusade came out, the battle cry of many a disgruntled fan has been "lollore," a cry which signifies a disgust with the direction the story has taken and a belief that many of the twists have betrayed the previous feel of the world or fallen short of some expected level of quality. Now honestly, There have been some lore twists I haven't really liked. Certainly, there were ways to give us the Draenei besides besides massively retconning the back story of the Burning Legion and making Sargeras corrupt them instead of the other way around. That said, I don't really mind that the Draenei came to us on a space ship. After all, the Orcs came to us through a Stargate!

I also appreciate that Blizzard has, in the lore arena, learned where they tripped up and tried to correct it. This is very apparent to me in the differences between the Lore behind Zul'Aman and the Lore behind the Sunwell Plateau. Where Zul'Aman's lore felt lackluster and weak, the lore behind patch 2.4 keeps getting better and better.

Continue reading WoW Lore: Zul'aman vs. Sunwell Plateau

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Breakfast Topic: Your favorite title - Tue, 04 Mar 2008 08:00:00 EST
We at WoW Insider like our titles. Mike once made a little rant about how he would've liked to see the return of the old PvP ranks. Having no Blood Elf High Warlords or Draenei Grand Marshals make me a little sad on the inside. Although Bornakk has already stated that they would like to keep titles "rare", it seems like we're getting a few more really cool titles with the juiciest patch to date. For example, even though attunement to the Black Temple and Mount Hyjal will be removed in Patch 2.4, players who have completed the quest line will be honored with the title "Hand of A'dal" just as players who completed the Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep attunement are called "Champion of the Naaru".

Some titles are cool, while some are mere remnants of the old world... who among you really wears their "Grunt" or "Private" ranks with pride? Patch 2.4 also promises an awesome title for those who achieve Exalted with the Shattered Sun offensive... and have money to burn. Perhaps the rarest title of all is the "Scarab Lord" which can only be obtained at one point in a server's lifetime, and it's no mean feat. Though there've been humorous suggestions as to what other titles should be made available in the game, what's your favorite title so far? Is it one of your in-game goals? Are you one of the few who managed to reach High Warlord or Grand Marshal? Or are you happy with Champion or Knight-Lieutenant? Personally, I'm trying to grind Conqueror with my Blood Elf although I've got 1,000 gold stashed away because "... of the Shattered Sun" sounds just so gosh-darned cool. What about you?

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