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Totem Talk: Elemental Combat in the Wrath Beta - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST
In testing elemental this week (and trying to get through the bugs, crashes, etcetera) I've come to several conclusion about the spec. One is that it still needs work, but probably not as much work as my experiences with it would make you think. For starters, I'm poorly geared in Karazhan/Heroics level gear (some of which was originally restoration gear) and a few quest trinkets. Secondly, I'm not a talented caster DPS player. It's not my prefered playstyle. Thirdly, I spend way too much time running around, gathering piles of mobs and Thunderstorming them off of cliffs in Borean Tundra. I'm not sure if I love this spell or hate it: the long cooldown means it's basically a gimmick, and I have yet to use it in an instance run, but it makes farming quests (kill X of Y) hilarious fun. How many Loot Crazed Poachers can I send hurtling to their watery graves today?

In general, if you're playing an elemental shaman on live, you won't change your playstyle very much until level 75, when you finally get Lava Burst. Just one video I found showing the damage potential of Lava Burst is this one, which highlights the effective synergy of the spell. There's some debate as to whether or not having to put the flame shock up to get the guaranteed critical Lava Burst throws off the rotation and lowers your DPS, which is not something I can answer effectively as I have a hard enough time with rotations as it is. For soloing, however, the Flame Shock - Lightning Bolt - Chain Lightning - Lightning Bolt - Lighting Bolt - Lightning Bolt - Lava Burst rotation I tried out doesn't let FS tick for the full amount but same level mobs don't often even last this long. (I often have to go Flame Shock - Chain Lightning - Lava Burst because if I wait longer things will be dead before the Lava Burst.) Even in instances, mobs sometimes don't last long enough for a full rotation, although if you weren't as quick to mash spells off as I was you could probably get it to full duration on a boss fight.

Continue reading Totem Talk: Elemental Combat in the Wrath Beta

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Less QQ More Pew Pew holding Tabard contest - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 18:30:00 EST
Didn't win the Tabard of Flame in our recent contest? Worry not, Less QQ More Pew Pew has another chance at a great tabard for you -- all you've got to do is answer a few questions about the blog over there, and submit them by tomorrow evening. And then, oh yeah, you need to be the first person to email in all the answers (not likely), or be one of two random people who sent the answers in. That last part is the hard one.

Just to help you out, we'll answer the first question for you: "Khagan." Cheating? Maybe, but we really want you to have that tabard. Good luck to everyone who enters, always nice to see members of the community holding fun contests like this to hand out some special items to the public.

[via Mania]

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Scattered Shots: Suggestion Box - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 18:06:00 EST


Scattered Shots is here for you. As long as you're a hunter, you get to tell us what to write about, and we get to ignore you do whatever you say.

I love these months just before the next expansion is released. There's such a sense of anticipation, where the whole game, including your own class, is in fluid motion, constantly changing. This is the time when the developers actually want you to give them your feedback, to tell them what they're doing wrong; and -- strange as it may seem -- there is actually a chance they will listen to you, take your advice, and actually implement whatever change you suggest!

That's why the last few days I've had my eye on the beta hunter forums, looking for the latest ideas about my favorite class. Lots of the player suggestions they have there are really neat, but unfortunately there's also some of what we call "QQ" (which stands for whining because it looks like two little eyes with tears coming down). It's hard to get good suggestions on the forums without also getting bad QQ. Sometimes when forum-goers clash, they get into an annoying argument and the whole thing devolves into boring name-calling.

So let's weed out all the muck and jumble, shall we? Let's just cut to the prime-rib-beef of what really good ideas are out there and skip all the blah blah blah about who's stupid, who's an idiot, and who's just dumb.

Continue reading Scattered Shots: Suggestion Box

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The 10 people you need to know in WoW - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST


One of my favorite people to read online is a fellow by the name of Pjammer on Livejournal. He's smart, funny, and a gifted writer, and if you are not sobbing by the end of "King of Masochists" then you are pretty much a terrible person. But another great entry is "The 16 Essential People In Your Life," which lists such valuable acquaintances as the Computer Security Guru, the Wolf, the Consigliere, and (most importantly) the Best Friend. Pjammer, quoting Harvey Mackay, correctly notes that 2 am is a bad time to make new friends. These are the kind of people you want in your life as early as possible, and to exercise a positive influence on its course.

My realm's seen a number of guild instability issues of late, which is something most of us have come to expect with an upcoming expansion. I've found reason to mull over how the virtual world differs from the real world with respect to friendship, backstabbing, greed, betrayal, honor, and how people choose to handle their problems. In my considered opinion it doesn't differ at all, and your experience ingame is largely determined by the network of players assembled around you, whether that alliance is a recognized one in the form of a guild or simply a more informal group of friends.

So, from my own experience and with a hat tip to Pjammer, these are the people you want in your posse for the best possible experience in the game:

Continue reading The 10 people you need to know in WoW

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Gameplay trailer for this Fall's most anticipated MMO - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 16:30:00 EST

Don't worry, we're not going back to HKO Insider (although you really did want us to), but we know there's a good number of you out there tracking that other big MMO release this Fall, the one with the "Lich Kitty." And here's the first gameplay trailer for the game we're really hoping to play this November -- forget about Death Knights and siege vehicles and new pets and hairstyles, we're waiting for solving mysteries and Sanrio characters and... well, new pets and hairstyles.

But seriously, it does look fun, doesn't it? WoW could certainly use a farming profession (maybe to go along with some player housing), and everything is just so bright and shiny and fun. The most popular zone in Outland was Nagrand, and we like to think it's because of the rolling green hills and the sparkling blue skies. If you ever get tired of Knights dressed in black metal and dark magics that curse and torment the leaders of the Horde, just know that Hello Kitty Online is out there, waiting just for you.

[via WoW Ladies LJ]

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Skill Mastery: Living Bomb - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST



Those of you who read my last Arcane Brilliance column may already know I'm not terribly fond of this spell so far. How much my dislike stems from using the buggy version of it that exists on the beta and how much comes from the spell actually being sub-par I can't be sure. We'll find out when patch 3.0.2 hits the live servers I guess, and probably not a moment sooner. In this edition of Skill Mastery, though, I will endeavor to be as fair and objective as I can manage. This could end up being a very, very good spell, if it lives up to its potential.

The 51 point talent for the Fire tree, Living Bomb is potentially a very fitting cap talent. The Fire tree has always been about blowing things up good and fast. Fire's purpose has traditionally been high single-target DPS, low survivability, and enormous AoE. This spell, current bugginess notwithstanding, is the natural evolution of that purpose. It has gone through multiple incarnations in its short existence, but the current form could end up being the best of the bunch once it works properly. Follow me after the jump for the details.

Continue reading Skill Mastery: Living Bomb

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European and North American Arena Finals this weekend - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 15:45:00 EST


The World of Warcraft Arena Tournament hosted by Blizzard is coming to a head. The Regional Finals for Europe and North America will take place this weekend, with eight highest rated teams from each region clashing for the right to compete in the Global Finals. The North American Finals will be held at Hard Rock Cafe in Boston, Massachusets and the usual suspects seem to be present -- the Fnatic-sponsored Orz team of Hafu and company, Duelist Going For Gladiator and their standard RMP, as well as Team EG, GotGame West, MoB Shadowplay, and some old faces sporting a new banner as Gravitas Gaming.

Most of the finalists from both regions are Arena tournament veterans who have won or finished well in numerous LAN tournaments. The European Finals will take place in Madrid, Spain, at the Circulo de Bellas Artes and covered on live stream by ESL TV. The winning team will bag a $15,000 top prize, but two teams from each region will advance to the Global Finals, earning a chance to compete for the massive $75,000 grand prize.

Taiwan Regional Finals winners 海軍陸戰隊 (which translates roughly into 'Marine Corps') and Made in Taiwan, announced last August 6, are waiting for the rest of the Global Finalists alongside the Korean Finals winners H O N and Council of Mages (who won the Worldwide Invitational tournament) -- both Rogue, Mage, Priest teams -- who qualified last August 31.

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More murmurs from the mobile front - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 15:25:00 EST
Blizzplanet continues to track down hints at what Blizzard might be planning in the mobile space, i.e. on the iPhone or another mobile computing platform (that Android Dream demo looked pretty sweet, too). Recently, Blizzard posted a job opening for a web software engineer, and while of course that could be for improvements to the Armory, or for the upcoming changes to Battle.net, but considering that many mobile apps are web apps nowadays, that position could definitely be put to work developing a web interface specifically for mobile platforms.

And the second hint is a little more concrete: our sister site Massively has mentioned Vollee before -- they're a company that claims to be able to stream a PC game experience to a mobile platform like the iPhone. They've already created a Second Life client, and Blizzplanet notes that in one of their recent press releases, they mention that they've been working with Activision Blizzard on a partnership. There are a lot of games under the Activision Blizzard banner nowadays, of course, but WoW is the biggest one of them, and it's definitely the MMO Vollee would want to be working on.

Blizzard hasn't officially announced any version or WoW application for any mobile platforms, of course, and even if one was in the planning stages, there's no guarantee we'd ever see it in an releaseable form. But there's definitely a call to bring facets of World of Warcraft to mobile computing, and if they can work it out in a form they find acceptable, it would undoubtedly be popular.

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Barrens Chat: Evolution revolution - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST



I mentioned in an earlier strip that I greatly dislike the Recruit-a-Friend program in an earlier comic. Mainly because the last two people we could have possibly talked into playing World of Warcraft started playing long before the benefit was offered. Needless to say, we're helping them out the old fashioned way, which occasionally includes hopping on an alt and running around with them.

After the jump, I actually have more to babble about today.

Gallery: Barrens Chat

Continue reading Barrens Chat: Evolution revolution

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Realm first level 80 titles removed - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 14:30:00 EST

The Feats of Strength for realm-firsts have been raising some controversy for a little while now. Briefly, the worry is that it only rewards people who are willing and able to either play 24 hours a day from when Wrath is released to when they reach their goal, or share their account with friends and play in shifts. Either way, it's not really a measure of skill or accomplishment so much as a measure of who's got a lot of uninterrupted time on their hands. There is additional worry that playing for 24+ hours straight is just not healthy, and Blizzard probably doesn't want people rushing through the content either.

So it is with some pleasure that I report that the titles for the feats of strength for realm-first level 80 with each class, for first 80 on each realm, and for first to 450 in the various professions are being removed. The title for realm-first Northrend Vanguard (achieve exalted with various factions) is also getting removed. Note that the Feats of Strength themselves are still in - the game still keeps track of who got to 80 first, and will tell you if it's you - but there's no longer a title to show off for other players. This is an interesting compromise; the feat is still noted, but there's much less incentive to do it now. Finally, Tigole notes that the realm-first boss kills will still give titles, which is as it should be in my book. Given raid lockouts, you couldn't raid 24/7 even if you wanted to, so this is more of an indication of skill.

One interesting alternative, for those who still want titles like this to be in the game, is presented on Blessing of Kings. Basically, the suggestion is that the titles should be given to those who take the least time /played to get from 70 to 80. This would mean you'd have to optimize your playing in a different way, and it would also mean you could lose the title if someone outdoes you in the future, which I see as a plus (though some here at WoW Insider vigorously disagree with me). Edit: on second thought, I agree that this is probably not a great idea. Hopefully they'll come up with some kind of very long questline for each class or something.

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60-70 XP changes coming in 3.0.2 - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST

Patch 3.0.2 is going to bring us much of Wrath, without the new content. Specifically, we'll be getting the new spells and talents, which come out to a total class revamp for many classes. We'll also be getting a couple other fixes, like learnable mounts and mini-pets. And Tigole just confirmed today that among these will be a reduction in the amount of experience required to level between 60 and 70.

Levels 20-60 were sped up dramatically a little while ago, which I have been very much enjoying on my various alts. But the Outland levels have remained at the same rate as always. This isn't so much of an issue now, when 70 is the endgame, but of course we're getting another ten levels in LK, and trudging through Outland then will feel a lot like dragging yet another toon through Plaguelands now. (I know some of you like Plaguelands, but I just don't understand it.) So I'm glad this is coming a little sooner, so that hopefully I can have at least three 70s poised to go into Northrend instead of the two I have now.

What kind of a speed increase are we looking at? Well, the only hard numbers I've seen so far are 30% less XP required per level, and possibly 20% more XP given per mob, with no changes on quests. This is fairly substantial; I would be pleased.

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[UPDATED] Tankadins and Retadins! Speak! - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 13:30:00 EST
While I effused about the great change to the otherwise lackluster Blessing of Sanctuary -- it should really be named Blessing of Badass -- Paladins have yet to receive the promised second pass. There have been massive changes to the class itself, but there's more to come. Hopefully on the positive side.

The Paladin community's new "Beacon of Light", Ghostcrawler, has popped up on the forums saying that the second pass is forthcoming. Blizzard is looking at making major changes to the Protection tree, stating that the developers feel that there are too many mandatory talents and mitigation talents that don't do anything interesting.

If you've got brilliant ideas about how to improve the Protection tree, now's your chance to speak up. Ghostcrawler is putting the entire Paladin community up to task by giving feedback on which talents are fun and which ones aren't; what areas feel bloated and what feels barren; and talents that seem mandatory, talents that seem fun but optional, and talents that often get the shaft. Head on up to the forums now and let Blizzard hear your thoughts. Given all the great changes to the Paladin class that have shown up in the Wrath Beta, I have a very good feeling that Blizzard actually listens. [EDIT: Ghostcrawler also mentions that the Beta forums aren't the only source of feedback they have, so head over to the Paladin forums, too, in the hopes of getting heard]

[UPDATE:
Ghostcrawler has made the same call to Retribution Paladins, as well. Jump over to the thread now...]

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Weapon Mastery as a single weapon skill stat - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST
Forum poster Exodeus has made a suggestion that I heartily endorse: abandon the weapon skill mechanic for a universal weapon mastery system. It's not just for the reasons he suggests that I'm on board. His examples (of a hunter having to go AFK on Dr. Boom after getting a new gun drop because he's always used bows, or a rogue having to mindlessly slaughter low level mobs to get that dagger skill up) resonate for sure... we have a talented DPS warrior in my guild who had to go buy a green 2h axe because he hadn't used one since the old Arcanite Reaper days and he was supposed to be using the 2h legendary in the Kael fight, so I know how ridiculous the skilling up process can be... but because his suggestion makes sense in light of all the other ways the folks at Blizzard are unifying things like spell power, hit rating, crit rating and so on. His point about how the introduction of Expertise effectively made the whole system obsolete is dead on in my eyes.

I personally even like his proposed mechanic, but adopting it wouldn't be necessary: I'd be fine if they simply abandoned weapon skill entirely and just based everything on your character level to start with (so that if you were a level 80 paladin and you got a new hammer, you'd automatically hit with it as if you had a 400 weapon skill, no muss, no fuss) if you're dead set on keeping things simple. No matter how they go about it, since training dummies still don't provide weapon skill on use, I'd have to believe that some change or revamp of the system would be a very nice improvement to the gameplay. Getting a nice drop shouldn't send you into the Blasted Lands to find Servants of Razelikh. Those poor guys -- not only are they cursed to be unable to die, but they get smacked in the head by guys way higher level then they are all day. It's a hard life being an unkillable mob.

If Blizzard was a pixie one could make wishes to, this would definitely be one of mine. Also, I'd try and keep them safe from Captain Hook.

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PTR forums up, more beta invites going out - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 12:30:00 EST


As a few of our readers have noted (thanks Nicholas!), the Public Test Realm Forum is back up and running, apparently in anticipation for the impending test cycle of patch 3.0.2, the pre-Wrath content patch set to release in the next few weeks or months. As of this writing, Blizzard hasn't posted anything in there yet, but considering Blizzard apparently likes to break open servers right before the weekend, we could have access to 3.0.2 as soon as tomorrow evening.

And more folks are getting into the Wrath beta as well -- we've heard from quite a few people on our tips line, and there's been lots of murmuring on the forums that new beta invites are going out. Looks like Blizzard is ratcheting up testing of the new content in a big way. That doesn't mean that we'll move our expectation of the release date up, as there's still a lot of work to be done on what we've seen in the beta. But if you've been waiting patiently for your chance to check out some of the new content, it could be right around the corner.

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WoW Moviewatch: Le Terroriste - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 12:20:00 EST

(Warning: This is a double whammy. It's an Olibith film, which means it may offend you, and it also has English subtitles, so you'll have to watch carefully.)

The WeGame machinima contest closed days ago, but on Friday, September 4th 5th, we'll finally know the results of the contest. In the meantime, the highlighting of some of the best videos will continue! Interestingly enough, with Olibith receiving the help of machinimator Phil Rice, this is the first combination World of Warcraft and Mass Effect machinima that I've seen.

Le Terroriste is exactly what you'd expect from Olibith, which is to say that there's some off-color humor that some may not like. The year is 2139 and the crew of the Normandy spaceship is on a mission that will soon be struck by tragedy. If you're a gnome, well ... I'm sorry! When you're done watching, be sure to download the high resolution version.

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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Ask a Beta Tester: Scourge Strike, titles, and flying mounts - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST


What you're seeing up above is a flaming quill in a well of frozen ink. Is it useful? No. It looks wicked awesome sitting in the Inscription trainers' shop, doesn't it? Heck yeah it does! We'll kick off today's Ask a Beta Tester with Askhill's question...

Does Lake Wintergrasp seem dominated by only one class, or is it pretty even among the 80s?

Unholy Death Knights are the current "overpowered spec of the day" (formerly the role of Ret Paladins) so there's tons of those rocking face right now. Beyond that it's pretty difficult to judge, since Blizzard hasn't balanced all of the numbers yet and few people are in Resilience gear. The only really memorable thing are the absolutely enormous Scourge Strike crits. By enormous I'm talking numbers anywhere from 10,000 to 16,000, and since it's Shadow damage, your armor isn't going to do a darn thing to help. Luckily, I was healbotting one of those Unholy Death Knights rather than being on the receiving end. Death Knights are bloody fantastic at keeping people off of Healers, by the way.

yazah asked a couple of questions...

Why does the Scarlet Crusade employ Death Knights in Northrend? Doesn't that seem unlikely since they were slaughtered by them back in Tyr's Hand?

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Scourge Strike, titles, and flying mounts

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The world's deadliest dessert - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 10:30:00 EST

We've seen Hordecake, Alliance cake, Horde-oken cake, and now we have a cake from Fatalis Sciurus, the 'Deadly Squirrels' of the Uldum realm. According to Kronq, a member of the guild, Fatalis Sciurus is a pretty small, tight knit group that all gets together in person now and then for "food, drinks, and whatever." Guildie Hallana decided to go the extra mile and put together a themed chocolate cake for the gang, bearing their adorable yet deadly namesake. I don't know about you guys, but that picture makes me want to lick the Horde emblem right off of the thing. Delicious, delicious sugar!

I have to admit, I have some pretty serious envy about the regular guild get-togethers. I enjoy gaming with my long distance friends (and yes, I consider them real friends), but there's just no substitute for hanging out in person sometimes. I wish I could have more of my guildies over at my place or vice versa regularly, the few times I've been able to do it were amazingly fun.

From now on, I think we of WoW Insider should start requiring that you guys send us a piece of the cake along with the pictures. It's just not fair to taunt us with sweets like this!

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Around Azeroth: Abby Normal - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST

Namus of Korialstrasz is back with another cool Wrath of the Lich King beta shot, this time from the road into Zul'Drak. While meandering along the path, Namus ran into this hideous flesh titan, also known as Thrym <The Hope-Ender>. Namus described him as "the size of a Fel Reaver but as sneaky as a Devilsaur", words that can strike fear into any WoW player's heart. Apparently he has 630,000 HP, hits for 7K+ on plate, and is considered the hardest outdoor boss in beta. He also doesn't seem to fall for the old angsty "we belong dead" routine -- that glow by his right foot is the remains of Namus. Ick.

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 sunsets.

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Flintlocke returns, now with more Horde - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 09:30:00 EST
Fan favorite webcomic Flintlocke's Guide to Azeroth is back in business after a far-too-long hiatus. Sort of. The GameSpy hosted webcomic is back in sequel form, entitled Flintlocke vs. The Horde. With a plan to release five panels/pages each week from the original Flintlocke author Dave Kosak, I'm pretty excited about it. Flintlocke's Guide to Azeroth was by far one of my favorite WoW comics when it was still running.

Flintlocke vs. The Horde actually has no Flintlocke in sight yet. It's told from the point of view of the Horde rather than our old pals from the previous series. We'll see them eventually, I'm sure. So far the comic has gotten some laughs out of me, but it's been a little too heavy on the stoner humor. Don't get me wrong, stoner humor can be hilarious, but it usually works better as a support joke rather than the punchline. That's just my thoughts on it, though. Regardless, I've bookmarked this comic to see where it goes and I recommend at least giving it a look.

[ Thanks, Bryn! ]

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Free EU character transfer destinations revealed - Thu, 04 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST
Toward the end of August, European CM Vaneras had announced the closure of a few English-speaking EU servers due to the great success of their Russian localization, with a note that destination realms for free character transfers would be announced later on. Later on is, apparently, last night. Thundgot has posted the destination realms, and each set includes one that is part of the same battlegroup as the realm of origin.

  • From Molten Core you can transfer to Burning Steppes*, Deathwing, Dentarg
  • From Shadowmoon you can transfer to Boulderfist, Spinebreaker*, Xavius
  • From Stonemaul you can transfer to Ahn'Qiraj, Burning Blade, Jaedenar*
  • From Warsong you can transfer to Auchindoun, Bladefist*, Haomarush
If you call one of the four closing realms home, I strongly recommend you go research your options and choose your destination while you still can. If you haven't moved yourself somewhere by the time their nebulous deadline (post-patch 3.0.2) hits, you'll have your destination chosen for you when the realms are ultimately brought down. Make sure you end up somewhere you'll like.

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