Jame is someone whose work I've enjoyed for much of my WoW-playing career. For those of you who might not be familiar with the name, he is the author of a series of leveling guides hosted over at WoW-Pro, which currently cover levels 30 to 77 on both factions (the rest of Northrend will be coming soon). Most recently, he's posted an addon version of the guides, so you can play along without even having to tab out. And did I mention this is all free?
I recently got the opportunity to interview Jame on his guides, how he plays, and what he thinks of recent changes. Come on behind the cut to find out what he had to say.
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.
Sometimes late at night when the sun is down and the moon is up, the writers at WoW Insider sit around the campfire and talk about things. Weird things. Like owning a pet snake and cat at the same time (Sacco), or how putting together a desk can be a pain (Alex). More and more often these days there has been a little friendly feud going on between Alex and Sacco. You can readtheir little quips at each other over a few posts. So today in the Queue I want to ask you: who would win in a writer cage match? Alex Ziebart or Mike Sacco?
"Will the emblems of Heroism be really useless now? If there is no more badge gear I need, have plenty of Frozen Orbs I can throw a stick at, is there going to be any point in me ever doing the current Wrath heroics again other than just to help out mates all of which are in the same boat anyway? Or will it be likely that there will be some form of Heroism to Valor exchange?"
Noblegarden extended to a week on the PTR - Thu, 05 Mar 2009 18:00:00 EST Elizabeth's wishes have been answered -- in-game Easter holiday Noblegarden has been extended to a full week according to the calendar on the PTR. That's six more days to run around getting eggs, not to mention doing all of the new Noblegarden achievements being included in the holiday. In the past, Noblegarden hasn't meant that much to players -- the rewards were never that great, and the fact that it was on only one day (a day usually reserved by most celebrating for family dinners away from the game) made it much less active than it could have been. But Blizzard has revamped the holiday, apparently, so be on the lookout for some eggs and bunnies starting on Sunday, April 12th.
One quick note for those of you worried about your Violet Proto-drakes: apparently still none of the Nobelgarden quests are included in the meta achievement. So there won't be any Bags of Candy or monthly Brews to get -- just enjoy the festivities.
And we'll give a shout-out to Kisirani here as well -- since she took over World Events on the Blizzard team, we've seen some great changes. Despite the issues with the Zombie launch event for Wrath, it was still a ton of fun, and we're pretty sure that she and her team also been behind the popular Brewfest and Hallow's End holidays as well. Excellent work -- we can't wait to see what the new Noblegarden is like.
I'm sure that one good question has been running through the minds of a lot of PvP players is if Resilience is worth it. The trend early on in Arena Season 5 was the predominance of burst, keeping matches fast and putting the worth of Resilience under the microscope. Blizzard has repeatedly said that Resilience would make a difference, but the truth is, this only applies to higher levels of Arena play where players have access to the best Resilience gear. Because of the high item budget of Resilience, most players won't feel its impact with only a few items.
Ghostcrawler chimes in with Blizzard's analysis of how this happened in Wrath of the Lich King. He explains how PvE content was made very accessible, thus giving many players access to powerful gear (or weapons) while introductory PvP gear came much later and was difficult to get. This resulted in players entering Arenas with low life and no resilience -- you can probably imagine how that turned out. It didn't help that classes were dealing too much burst to begin with, which led to class changes through several patches. A final point he mentions is how BC granted a lot of Stamina that wasn't replicated in Wrath, which made players "feel a little fragile initially".
Scattered Shots is your weekly guide to improving your Hunter skills, brought to you by Jessica "Lassirra" Klein of The Hunter's Mark, covering a variety of Huntery topics. Today, we'll be talking about Hunter consumables.
Getting ready to run heroics and raids takes time. You need certain gear, enchants, glyphs and plenty of ammo to see you through the content you face, and there's one more thing you can add to your bag of tricks to help give you the extra edge you need to down those bosses and top the damage meters: consumables. Flasks, elixirs and that handy Well Fed buff are there to help you maximize your performance and it's important to know, as a Hunter, which ones you should be looking for on the Auction House or farming before it's time to zone into your instance of choice.
We'll start with the easy one first, since there's really only one flask (at least for Wrath-level content) that Hunters need to be aware of: the Flask of Endless Rage. This flask increases your attack power by 180 for two hours, and the effect lasts through death so if you wipe for some reason you're not out the cost of the consumable itself or the materials you used to make it.
Totem Talk: Shaman, go you to Northrend - Thu, 05 Mar 2009 15:00:00 EST Well, I finally decided to level my orc shaman, as only having my alliance shaman experience the fun of raiding and see all that mail that dropped like rain when I was on my warrior vanish like smoke. Nothing but plate the second I can't wear plate. Plus, my orc has bear heads on his shoulders, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Since it's my second shaman to 80 I decided to play with leveling strategies. I started the day as enhancement (working on my telekinesis as you can see) and then moved on to elemental after digging my old ZA gear out of the bank. My experience as elemental indicates that I need to suck a lot less at elemental. Somehow on every pull, I would end up with six or seven mobs crawling all over me giving me awful slobbering undead kisses. Or biting me. One of the two, I always get them confused. I'd like to thank Thunderstorm for its support.
My first tip to shamans newly leveling through Northrend is this: do both starting zones. Now that the big push of people getting to 80 has subsided, neither zone is especially packed with people. We've talked before about the loot available in those zones, which if you're like me and trying to test out multiple specs as you level or even just want to have a backup spellpower set in case you absolutely cannot find a healer for that Nexus run is very helpful.
If you do both zones, you will easily be level 73 to 74 by the time you're done. There's a lot of quests there. This means that you can skip Grizzly Hills and go to Dragonblight if you'd prefer (it's what I did on my Draenei, actually going back to Grizzly Hills afterwards) but on my orc I'm planning to go Borean - Howling Fjord - Grizzly Hills - Dragonblight because I'm a sucker for the group quests in Grizzly.
Guardian talks to Chinese goldsellers and UK buyers - Thu, 05 Mar 2009 14:00:00 EST UK paper The Guardian has a look at what life is like at a Chinese goldselling company. It's interesting, but we've basically seen it before -- the small room of young people working almost 24/7 to make and deliver gold in-game, the concerns about worker livelihood and the supposedly large amounts of money going through these businesses (there's one figure quoted of £700m, which is about $980 million, but that's an estimate -- no one really knows how much these companies are making).
But what's really interesting about this piece is that it seems to treat goldselling as more of an "opportunity" than anything else. The people running the companies are making money, the employees are getting a roof over their head and a steady paycheck, and even the guy making the film talks about how governments should start taking a cut of this industry. Nowhere is it actually mentioned that Blizzard considers these companies to be against the terms of service, or that many times the gold obtained by these companies isn't earned through simple grinding, but by hacking, keylogging, and exploiting. Even if (emphasis on the if) these companies are making millions of dollars a year, they're stealing accounts and cheating in-game to do it.
Rowenna Davis also did interviews with both the gold farmer and a player in the UK buying money from him (bannz0red?), but again, there's no insight at all from the player whose account was hacked and bank was looted, or the player who is able to earn as much gold as they need and have a life outside the game (there are plenty of those to go around). Would have been nice to see the issue from players who aren't actually breaking the game's terms of service.
Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches. This season's duelists hail from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.
This week's boss matchup pulls two prisoners from The Violet Hold: Moragg vs. Lavanthor. Let's take a look at the eye-popping action to find out whose bark is worse than his bite.
The usual rules apply: assume that the opponents share similar levels, health pools and damage output, and that they are fighting right there in the prison. Let's keep the debate on the three S's: Style, Story and Scale. Don't get caught up in game mechanics and what players might do in each encounter. Consider the flavor each villainous gladiator brings to bear, then cast your vote for who you think would come out on top.
If you'd told me two days ago that I'd be featuring a WoW music video based on a Britney Spears song, I'd have called you a bloody liar. But. Well. Here I am, featuring a WoW music video based on a Britney Spears song. Real life is stranger than fiction, I guess. Check out Britney Spears - Piece of Me.
This video was posted anonymously on Machinima.com. I didn't really expect a lot from the video. First, it was anonymous. Usually, that means the author is expecting to get flamed and burned for their efforts, and don't want to associate his or her identity with the piece. Second, the anonymous author also said it's a first-time-out piece, and that he or she is learning the ropes. Lastly, it's a Britney Spears song. I mean, c'mon.
I was pleasantly surprised. No, shocked! While I can't say that I loved the song and that it's going to change the world, the quality of the video absolutely astounded me. The Blood Elf singer is an obvious choice to represent Spears, but the screen glows, white-outs, and effects are perfectly suited to the persona. The graphics and settings are well chosen and cleverly pieced together, exactly as I'd expect a Spears video to go.
So, while this might not be your schtick, exactly, you've got to applaud the incredible first effort from this Anonymous author. Well done, and here's hoping for more. My only real note to the author is that you should go ahead and reveal your identity with this -- you've got some growing skills, and should be proud of what you've done.
Cooked Crab Claw. Crab Cake. Fine Crab Chunks. Crawler Leg. Crawler Mucus. Long Crawler Limb. Spiced Chili Crab. Tender Crab Meat. In the last eighty levels, you've probably had most of these items in your inventory at some point. And now Eskel of <Absolution> on Argent Dawn-EU is about to suffer for your cruelty to our clawed brethren. At least Eskel can take comfort in the fact that his remains will benefit the marine life of Dragonblight -- after he's sautéed with green onions, parsley, chives, butter and lime, and served over toast points.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
One Boss Leaves: Gal'darah overcomes Krystallus - Thu, 05 Mar 2009 09:30:00 EST Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches. This season's bosses come from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.
This season of Two Bosses Enter, One Boss Leaves rolls inexorably onward with an easy victory for Gal'darah, the High Prophet of Akali from Gundrak, over Halls of Stone Collosus Krystallus. Spectators tightened the focus on balancing mechanics vs. the spirit of the fight this time around, with Hoggersbud observing, "I think an assumption how close you are to Krystallus affecting the shatter damage would be silly reasoning, since as you say, he does do a knockback. If you're going to make it a proximity to Krystallus, make it increase the further away you are instead. At least that'd be something worthwhile. Otherwise you might as well just ignore the shatter effect. ... Just handwave that shatter is going to hurt Gal'darah for some reasonably acceptable amount, and work from there."
Vote later today in the next matchup of this season's Two Bosses Enter ... One Boss Leaves.
Time is Money: Selling your quest rewards - Thu, 05 Mar 2009 09:00:00 EST Kebina Trudough here, offering you the best gold making secrets they don't want you to know about! I was like you once, poor and homely, before I discovered my patented system. Now you too can fill your pockets with the good stuff without ever breaking a sweat! Why spend all your time toiling when you could be vacationing in the Hot Springs? I'm not offering these tips for 100 gold, or 90 gold, or even 50 gold! No, not even 20 gold! My system is yours for FREE! Satisfaction guaranteed or I'll give you a full refund (handling charges may apply).
Today, I'm going to help you make the most out of your questing experience. The most gold, that is! Quests often reward hard-working Azerothians with items that are useless to them.
The items are usually peddled off to a vendor at a price of their choosing.
When given a choice of rewards, how do you decide which item to select? Some players pick at random, or because the item has an interesting name or looks cool. Some think that they have figured out the rules, and always pick plate over mail and weaponry over armor.
What the average citizen doesn't know is that there's a complex, hidden system. It's practically a Goblin-Vendor cover-up, but I'm here to end all that.
Goblin Rules of Acquisition, subsection K4, under the heading, Quest Rewards.
They don't mean picking from what's available via achievements or quests, but what would you make up to give yourself? I asked this question to the WoW Insider HQ before writing this up to see what the gang would want, and Michael Sacco was the first to chime in. His joke answer was 'Ancient Chinese Wizard' as a nod to Zhang Bao, a character made infamous by the Dynasty Warriors series. Being a Shaman, he's pretty good at the whole Thunderstorm spiel. His more serious answer was Stormcaller. That's a pretty good one, I think!
Coming back to my post as official 3.1PTR raid reporter after an offensive usurping by my dubiously sentient coworker Alex Ziebart, it's time for a new roundup of tonight's PTR Ulduar testing events. Last night we got a taste of the Flame Leviathan fight, which brought us motorcycles and tanks and floating pyrite containers, but tonight ... tonight we got a taste of a good, old-fashion player vs. comically gigantic dude raid encounter with Ignis, the Furnace Master.
Matt "Matticus" Low, the aforementioned plantlike Mr. Ziebart, and I formed a 10-man raid. As usual, Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer, a.k.a. Daelo, was around for the fun. Making travel considerably easier was last night's addition of a teleporter to different areas of the dungeon. Our trip past the large gate guarding the end of the Iron Concourse to the Colossal Forge was instant and uneventful. Then we waited for our barrel-chested braid-bearded friend to spawn.
This writeup will be spoiler-heavy. If you don't wish to know anything about this fight, don't click below. You've been warned.
WoW Rookie: Bank on it - Wed, 04 Mar 2009 20:00:00 EST New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the resources they need to get acclimated. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic.
Got stuff? You need a banker. Creating a dedicated character to do nothing but hang out in town, store goods and handle your finances may sound redundant at first. But time is money, friend -- and a banker can save you both.
Eliminate travel time. No more hearthing back to the city at the end of every session, and no more trudging back to your current base of operations when you're ready for some action. Trust us - when you hit the Outlands and have to travel from Shattrath City all the way back to the Old World to use an Auction House, you'll be glad to skip that whole process.
Put the entire Auction House at your fingertips. Anything item you need is instantly at your disposal when your banker is at the ready. Log in the banker, buy what you need, mail it to whichever character needs it. (Remember, mail between characters on the same account is now instant.) It's that quick and easy.
I don't want to invoke BTPNTC again, but it's a common perception that one of the goals in class balance in Wrath has been to bring the damage various DPS specs more in line with each other. This, in turn, has raised questions like "if a feral druid does as much damage as a rogue, what's the point of the rogue?" This question is arguable, but fortunately, that lovable crustacean Ghostcrawler has laid bare the developers' goal for how the classes should be positioned relatively in terms of DPS.
Here it is:
Hunters, mages, rogues, and warlocks.
It's important to note that the gap between 1 and 2 is meant to be quite small, and that it will probably be swallowed up by gear, player skill, and the particulars of individual encounters in most cases. As GC puts it, "If you know your class cold, I mean really know it, then there is no reason you can't be topping meters."
I think this is a good design goal. The pure classes have a slight edge, but skilled players of any class should do well. Of course, we're not quite there yet, class balance being a perennially moving target, but they're working on it.
Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. After playing around some more on the PTR, Matt's got some more extended thoughts.
That's a picture of the upgraded Penance! It looks really weird when you cast it on yourself. I imagined that the bolts would fly forward before arcing skyward and back down towards the original caster. Too much to hope for sadly. Maybe in a future patch!
Hymn of Hope makes its triumphant return back to the Priest arsenal! For the past week, I've been receiving emails and DMs on Twitter asking me the same question:
Why put in a Hymn of Hope glyph if Hymn of Hope is going to be removed?
My personal theory is that it was just a general brain fart. Upon closer inspection and reflection, the motive's a bit different. We know Resto Shaman mana regeneration is the new standard that all healing classes are going to reach. Perhaps the theory is to nuke certain Priestly mana regenerative capabilities and then start from there.
And that seems to be Drayner's main issue with Blizzard: they aren't consistent on twinking. They'll make changes that level the twink field, and then they'll ignore bugs that almost completely break it. They kept the latest enchants off of players below level 60, but then they grandfathered in players with the 450 profession buffs. He's got a whole list of changes they've made for and against twinking, and basically asks Blizzard to either support twinking, or (and obviously he's less happy with this decision) end it for good.
Unfortunately for him, he probably won't get an answer. There are plenty of players twinking, but not nearly enough for Blizzard to consider making changes based on twinks alone (and while twinks are howling at some of the changes, the rest of the player population either dislikes the whole idea of twinking, or couldn't care either way). And considering that twinking does draw some players into the game, it's not likely Blizzard will ditch it anytime either. Twinks, they would likely say, are playing a meta game already based on made-up rules, so why should it matter that they've also got to abide by other inconsistent rules? Based on what we've heard from them in the past, it seems twinking is a player creation, not a Blizzard creation, so it's up to players to deal with the issues, not Blizzard.
We suppose it had to happen at some point -- with PTR interest kicking in this past week, and the game having sold so many copies already, there had to be a point where something else jumped up above Wrath. But don't count the award winning expansion out of the number one spot yet. While Dawn of War II is getting reviewed very favorably, this little bump is likely due to an audience of fans who wanted to get the sequel on day one. Once first-week sales for that game level off, it's entirely likely that we'll see WotLK back up on top. Not that Blizzard needs any more money, of course. But it is good to be the (Lich) King.