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How visible Achievements and Talents affect anonymity - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 19:00:00 EST
Reader Alex was kind enough to send along this forum post he wrote, and he hits on some interesting questions about achievements and how they might affect bullying and posturing on the forums. Right now, people can spout off pretty much any opinion they want without repercussions, but when achievements are added into the Armory, people won't be so anonymous -- we'll all be able to know, within a few clicks, what bosses you've downed and what you've really done in BGs and Arenas. Sure, people will still spout off whatever they feel like saying, but as Alex says, there'll be a little less anonymity.

I'm not sure how much of a change it will really bring -- when it was first announced that talents would immediately be viewable by other players, a few worried that it would cause more problems (people would be discriminated against because of their talent choices), but I haven't seen that happen in game -- just like always, if someone says they're a Feral Druid, you just assume they can tank as a bear, without checking out their talents closely.

And my guess is that it'll be the same with achievements -- people will still say whatever they want, and while there may be the occasional player called out for not getting the Onyxia achievement after he's claimed to have "been a raider from the beginning," there's always the old argument of "this is my alt!" At least, that is, until Blizzard shows us a way to see whose alt is whose...

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Warlock talent changes added to official talent calculators - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 18:00:00 EST

For every major class mechanic overhaul in the Wrath Beta, there's also a few minor tweaks for other classes as Blizzard works on perfecting the new talents and class balance for release. Today, it's the Warlocks' turn. MMO-Champion has discovered a few changes to the official talent calculator for the Warlock. Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading Warlock talent changes added to official talent calculators

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Blizzard planning Wrath launch in China "as soon as possible" after US - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 17:30:00 EST


Mike Morhaime spoke up about World of Warcraft in Activision's earnings conference call last week (strange, since there was almost no sign of Blizzard at the Activision press conference during E3), and he spoke about Blizzard's plan for Wrath of the Lich King's release in China. In the past, there's been a signficant delay between releases in the US and Eastern companies (not that it's hurt the popularity there). And Blizzard says they want to close that delay, but it's up to the government over there to approve the content -- in the past, the government of China has asked for changes to be made to the game, and Blizzard says the release schedule is dependent on their approval.

Morhaime also said that the game continues to grow -- they've seen big growth around marketing campaigns, the holiday season (when people buy the game for others), and the release of new content. And you don't have to be a WoW expert to see that they're going to hit a perfect storm of all three later this year. This could be the biggest winter the World of Warcraft has ever had.

[via WorldofWar.net]

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Only Arena skirmishes from level 71-79, ratings back in at 80 - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 16:30:00 EST
Just in case you wanted to know what the deal was with Arena ratings as we all headed to level 80, let Bornakk clarify for you -- while level 70 rated fights will still count, levels 71-79 are back to skirmishes, and rated fights can only happen again at level 80. And while Bornakk doesn't mention season timing at all (does Blizzard ever, beforehand?), our guess would be that they'll hold off on announcing any new PvP items until a good number of people have had a chance to level up to 80 and get situated in the brackets -- of course, depending on how fast people level up, that could be pretty quick.

But he does say that there will be no more new level 70 rewards, so what's out there right now is what you get. What we still don't know is whether Arena points from level 70 will carry over into the level 80 bracket, or whether there will be a complete reset of all the ratings and totals for the new bracket. There are good arguments for both sides (some players want a fresh start, while others don't want their winnings so far to count for nothing), but so far we haven't heard anything official yet.

So there are still a few things for Blizzard to decide with the higher level Arena system, but they've got time -- it's unlikely that they'll make people rush to 80 just to get involved in the Arena. It seems that when these next ten levels of content come out, Blizzard will switch some focus back to PvE and battleground PvP rather than the Arena game.

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Where is Blizzard going with Paladin changes? - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 16:00:00 EST
"Like I promised, the paladin changes were more sweeping than most changes. As such, it's going to take us some time to go through a second pass on the abilities and get everything polished up enough to evaluate the shiny, new paladin." - Ghostcrawler, on the Paladin forums

The Paladin changes we've seen so far have been pretty massive. There's been a reworking of our Seal and Judgement system, a shuffling of our talents, and the addition of interesting baseline spells like Divine Plea, a much needed mana recovery mechanic. The important thing to remember, though, is that this is Beta -- meaning a lot of things can still change from now until Wrath of the Lich King goes live. And as Ghostcrawler indicated, a lot of things will change.

In fact, some spells we might love now could change or be scrapped. The Art of War, a talent I raved about and was wreaking havoc in the Beta, was fundamentally changed. From a pure DPS talent usable by raiding Paladins, it has become a utility spell more geared towards PvP. Some old spells such as the poor man's Divine Shield, Divine Protection, was reworked to actually be more usable. While we won't go through all the changes one by one -- there are a lot and I expect more in the future -- we can examine some key changes and try to figure out what Blizzard wants to do with the class.

Continue reading Where is Blizzard going with Paladin changes?

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Addon Spotlight: Mr. Plow - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 15:00:00 EST
Welcome, my friends, to this week's late Addon Spotlight, where we'll be looking at a little tool to help manage your inventory. First of all, I would highly recommend reading through Matthew Porter's Big bag blowout series over at The Creamy GUI Center, it's not only a fantastic look at many inventory options, but builds a solid foundation for your inventory addon needs. Given all that good information, I thought I'd pipe in with a look at Mr. Plow, an inventory stacker I use in conjunction with Bagnon.

I never could get used to inventory addons that auto-sorted my bags into categories; I just wanted something to consolidate all of my bags into one window. That said, I am also somewhat obsessive about an orderly inventory, and had no problem taking time to organize my inventory so that items I got from grinding or quests were found at the top of the window, where I could easily sell and use them at my discretion.

Then came along Mr. Plow, the handy bag stacker that will organize and compress your bags for that neat and orderly look that former Army sergeants require of their inventory.

Continue reading Addon Spotlight: Mr. Plow

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MMOART stands up to cancer - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 14:30:00 EST
Our friends at MMOART (they make custom art of characters from MMOs, including World of Warcraft) recently "rebooted" their service and website, and in the process announced that from here on out, they're donating a percentage of all proceeds to the Stand Up To Cancer charity. They don't say just how much they're donating, but they do say that the disease has been a problem among their family, and they're taking a stand to fight back.

We know the studio's owner has had health problems of his own, but those aren't related to cancer, this is just something they're doing to commit to a charity for others. So now you can get some great looking art of your characters, and help out a worthy charity as well.

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Wrath's Fetch Ball lets you play with your pets - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 14:00:00 EST


This is hardly going to be one of the most amazing items in Wrath to those who clamor for epics and full dungeon sets, but for those of us who like the flavor that those cute little noncombat pets add, the Fetch Ball is a dream come true. The first thing you can see in this beta video is the pet and mount interface (which not only will let you choose pets or mounts, but also see a preview of each before you summon them), and the second thing you can see is, well, let's just say that Blizzard finally gave the noncombat pets something to do. And it's easy to get -- you can pick it up, along with a few other pet-related objects, from the NPC vendor named after the founder of the Warcraft Pets site.

Incredibly cute, and we're so glad to finally see some life from the little guys who've been following us around all this time. And who knows what else this will open the door to -- today, the noncombat pets can fetch, tomorrow they can pick up our loot, play dead or even go to a minigame battle? Maybe the whole "noncombat" term isn't quite their style anymore.

[via WoW Ladies LJ]

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WoW Insider previews Wrath of the Lich King's Dragonblight - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 13:30:00 EST

Continuing the series of Wrath of the Lich King zone galleries that we started with the Howling Fjord, I present to you... the Dragonblight! The Dragonblight is home to Wyrmrest Temple, sacred temple of the Dragonflights, as well as many more fun and exciting locations. This is another one of my favorite zones, though it isn't quite as photogenic as the Fjord was. A lot of what makes it awesome doesn't translate well to pictures, such as the lore and the things that make it feel alive, like the aerial dragon battles that take place overhead.

The gallery contains some minor spoilers, such as locations you may not have expected or really freaking cool looking locations you may have wanted to see for the first time in person, but I tried to avoid major plot spoilers. Nothing inside will ruin your enjoyment of the zone, I assure you. Go on, check it out. You know you wanna. Oh, by the way, it shows a small version of the pictures by default, but if you want to see them bigger you can click the Hi Res button in the upper right corner.

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Certain old keys, pets, and tabards to be retrievable in Wrath - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 13:00:00 EST

One of the nice things about Wrath is the consolidation of bag space. With mounts and pets becoming skills instead of items, it'll free up a lot of bag space for us pack rats. Unfortunately, for now, we still need that bag space, and to get enough of it, some of us have been forced to delete pets, tabards, and keys that we've otherwise outgrown.

But if you're lamenting the loss of your Miniwing, or if you're having second thoughts about deleting that Battle Tabard of the Defilers, take heart. Tigole's announced that Wrath of the Lich King will include a way to recover deleted unique tabards, keys, and vanity pets. For keys, you'll talk to a locksmith, for pets, a stable master, and for tabards, a tabard vendor (likely the ones in the capital town halls).

This only works on unique, one-per-character items, of course, so if you deleted a rare drop, you'll still have to go farm it again. It also doesn't appear to be currently implemented on Beta, but hopefully it is soon so we can test it and make sure all the right unique stuff can be recovered again -- I'm hoping they include non-key keys like the Scepter of Celebras.

In the meantime, it's nice to see that Blizzard's continuing to allow us just a little bit more leeway in character customization and giving us pack rats more options to keep the stuff we love. Next stop: Player housing with item display cases! Hey, I can dream.

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WoW Moviewatch: The Cold Dream, a WotLK exploration video - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 12:00:00 EST

(Warning: If you don't want WotLK spoilers, do not look in this post. The same goes for those that hate the style of Baron Soosdon.)

Inspired by his heroes, Razzik created this Wrath of the Lich King exploration video. Similar to Snoman's recent effort, WotLK White Dreamscape, as well as Wrath of the Lich King - WTF!?, it follows a dream world where a woman is floating along. He used an electronic soundtrack, color filters, and sped up some of his video for effect, all of which make for some gorgeous scenery!

In light of the recent news about Vimeo banning gameplay videos, many are questioning what they consider to be machinima these days. Razzik had his video uploaded there, but either they removed it, or he did, because of this policy. I guess exploration videos are out, so does that mean music video machinimas aren't safe?

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Officers' Quarters: My pre-Wrath rant - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 11:00:00 EST

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes
Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

Bleak is the word I would use to describe the current situation for raiding guilds. For many guilds, activity and recruitment are at all-time lows. It's becoming harder and harder to cobble together enough people to run anything these days. Must we simply endure? Is there no hope for us until Wrath launches? Will we officers respond to this crisis with moral fortitude -- or weakness? Will I actually use boldface to call out our officer community on their behavior? Find out after the break! But first, the author of this week's e-mail relates his own guild's experiences.

Hi Scott,

My name is Dmitry. [My guild is] a casual raiding guild made up mostly of people over 20, who either go to school, or work, or both, many of whom have kids. This is all taken into account and we have a very strong RL-before-WoW stance.

Unfortunately the past month or two has been really hard for us. Our MT was gone for 3 weeks because of a new job, lots of people went on vacation because of the summer, others stopped playing as much to spend more time with their kids, etc. After having guild firsts on Mag, Hydross, and Lurker in 3 weeks in June our guild has started to go backwards, having trouble taking down Gruul some nights.

Continue reading Officers' Quarters: My pre-Wrath rant

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Ask a Beta Tester: Daily quests, skill trainers, and Arthas, oh my! - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 10:30:00 EST


Another day is upon us -- and that means we've got yet another chance for more questions and answers straight from the Wrath of the Lich King beta. Elizabeth here today, and I'd like to start out with a tiny bit of extra information on a question Alex answered yesterday.

Vjax asks...

Can you still do level 70 dailies for gold, and do you get XP for doing them?

Alex said these wouldn't be worth your while, and he was right. For those of you interested in specifics, though, you seem to get 3g 40s and 9,500xp for your average daily quest in Wrath. On the other hand, you could be doing quests in one of the starting zones of Northrend and getting yourself 4 to 5g and in the 20,000xp range per quest. Executive summary: go to Northrend. Go directly to Northrend. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Daily quests, skill trainers, and Arthas, oh my!

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Around Azeroth: I go for penguins - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 10:00:00 EST


Because penguins are so sensitive to my needs. Well, they might not be too sensitive to the needs of Valormeer of Quel'Thalas-EU. Valormeer sent us this beta picture with the simple caption "I'm very scared and cold and you should be too." A threat, a comment on the Wrath beta, or just an expression of frustration at being stuck on a glacier with a bunch of seal bait? Who knows?

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 prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more sunsets -- but we would love some beta screenshots here. And I don't know much about penguins, but otters are definitely jerks. (Show-offs.)

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Alterac Valley, the Battle-less Battleground - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 09:00:00 EST


So much for Alterac Valley. With the Battleground Holiday this weekend, it was expected that a lot of players would be queuing up to farm their Honor points. I had looked forward to a lot of combat and hopefully rack up those Honorable Kills in the hopes of inching closer to the magic 100,000 number for a future Achievement. I know I said Alterac Valley was the place to farm HKs. Well, I was wrong.

Alterac Valley is the Battleground to join if you want to avoid PvP. I've been part of countless Alterac Valley races before, but these past few days have been ridiculous. Not only do players ride past each other -- that's expected in races -- but in the times I have engaged, players even run away. If they had Achievements already in the game, I would have unlocked The Sickly Gazelle over and over.

Continue reading Alterac Valley, the Battle-less Battleground

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Breakfast Topic: BlizzCon swag - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 08:00:00 EST


A bubble-hearth ball? Inflatable Frostmourne? Now that we know what they're giving away at BlizzCon '08, it looks like it's turning into a kiddie party. Don't get me wrong, though, I think I would have a lot of fun poking people with a poofy little sword of unadulterated, soul-sucking evil. I think I'll even good-humoredly kick around a bubble-hearth ball, one of the game's long-running gags on my favorite class. There are other cool stuff, like Diablo health and mana stress balls and Pandaren brewmaster bottle openers.

A while back, I asked what kind of WoW-related merchandise and spin-offs you had or liked. Let's turn the tables this time around and pretend you could make swag for BlizzCon, or any Blizzard event like the Worldwide Invitational (where they gave away keychains and door hangers). What if they gave away Halaa Battle Token soaps? What wacky stuff will you make or like to see? Surely it can't be any zanier than an inflatable cursed runeblade.

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Forum post of the day: Dialing it in - Mon, 04 Aug 2008 06:00:00 EST

I've been what you might call and internet junkie for about 15 years. I remember the old days of 2400 baud dialup. Highlighs of that era include bulletin boards, IRC, and elm for email. At this point I could not imagine life without high speed internet. Data transfer for WoW during playtime is minimal, but I had no idea that some people use dialup for WoW. Kaikais of Azgalor asked the general forums today how far one could go on dialup.

He says that he's reached level 70 and is now faced with the challenge of gearing up his characters. His concern is being able to seriously raid or PvP with such a connection. Some mentioned that they have either experienced dialup themselves or have had raid members that relied this type of internet connection. Many reported lag and limitations with Ventrilo, most seem to be getting along alright on an old school connection.

Continue reading Forum post of the day: Dialing it in

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Spiritual Guidance: Shadows of Wrath - Sun, 03 Aug 2008 20:30:00 EST


This Sunday, Spiritual Guidance, a haven for Holy Priests, has been bludgeoned with a large rock and shoved aside for the Shadows. Your host this week is Alex Ziebart, who is neither Matt Low nor the the grand poobah of World of Matticus. No worries, though. Matt will be back next week. Probably. Assuming he wakes up.

We haven't had a lot of Shadow love lately, so I figure it's about time we check out our new spells in Wrath of the Lich King. With the level cap currently 77 in the Wrath beta, it's a little hard to gauge just how effective the new Shadow spells really are. You can't see Dispersion in a raid setting or a competitive arena setting, and Mind Sear just doesn't seem balanced for the level you receive it.

I'll start off with Dispersion. Before I was able to use the spell myself, I was really doubtful of its usefulness. This is because for a PvE scenario, it largely just seemed like Evocation for Priests since it Silences you. I've heard time and time again that high-end Mages don't use Evocation at all because it's wasted DPS time when you can just chain potions (which can't be done in Wrath now), or all of the environmental damage break it anyway. Yeah, I can definitely understand that. Sunwell is brutal.

Continue reading Spiritual Guidance: Shadows of Wrath

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Increased lung capacity in Wrath Beta - Sun, 03 Aug 2008 19:00:00 EST

While there's no definite word from a blue on whether it's working as intended or not, there's an interesting buff on the Beta servers at the moment: Everyone seems to have a much longer breath timer when swimming underwater. Whereas it took about 1 minute for breath to run out, now it seems to last for approximately 3 minutes.

In effect then, it's like everyone has gained the Underwater Breathing racial of the Forsaken. If it's a permanent buff and not just some crossed wires, it should make underwater questing (and there is some in Wrath) a bit easier!

Of course, I'm not giving up my Hydrocane just yet, either. It seems like a strange change to make out of the blue, and it does negate one of the Forsaken's racials, more or less.

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Utgarde Keep beta impressions - Sun, 03 Aug 2008 18:15:00 EST

I've run Utgarde Keep a few times on the Wrath beta using a couple of different characters now, and it's... not bad. I like the atmosphere, the mobs, the visuals and the bosses had decent flavor, but it was hard to take it seriously. It was really, really easy.

I guess that aspect of things is to be expected, it's an entry level dungeon that needs to be balanced for people in full green gear. Still, I wish it was a little more challenging. Even in level 70 blues you can completely brute force your way through the dungeon, slamming your face on your keyboard willy nilly while the bad guys fall over. I don't really want the trash mobs to be terribly difficult, but even in pulls of four and five giant hulking vrykul there's not much reason to use all of that brand new CC some classes are getting.

Continue reading Utgarde Keep beta impressions

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