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BlizzCon contests open for submission - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 20:30:00 EST
If you like winning stuff, you might want to check out BlizzCon and its contests. Whether or not you'll be going to the sold-out event this October, there's something for you to participate in. Obviously, if you're not going, you won't be able to join staples like the costume contest or the impressive (and often hilarious) dance contest, but most of the BlizzCon contests can be joined online.

If you think you've got the chops for stuff like making movies, ace graphic design skills to make motivational posters, or even songwriting skills and making dioramas, then head over to the BlizzCon contest page and read about how to submit your entries. Unfortunately, if you think you're a funny guy (or gal), Blizzard wants to see you in person.

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New racial abilities for Wrath - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST


It looks like Blizzard isn't done tinkering with everything for Wrath of the Lich King. This time, they've turned their attention to racial abilities, which many have pointed out to be imbalanced. Kalgan dropped by the forums to answer a good question regarding the Orc racial Hardiness, which grants a passive 15% resistance to stuns. It's been nerfed a long way from its original 25% resistance, but the poster made a good point about the game's direction towards reduced durations instead of resistances.

Kalgan responds by saying that Hardiness was being changed into exactly that -- an effect duration reduction of 15%. He also goes over all the other racials, some of which were changed, others of which were buffed, and yet a few others of which were inevitably nerfed. The changes should make it into the next Beta push. Check after the break to see the complete list. [CLARIFICATION: This isn't the complete list of racial abilities. Abilities not listed here are unchanged or, if they will be changed, will be mentioned in the future.]

Continue reading New racial abilities for Wrath

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Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.0.2 and you - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST



Each week, Arcane Brilliance journeys to the heart of Mageland, braves all the perils of Blinking backwards, premature sheep-breakage, and table-ninjas that infest that mystical place, and returns triumphant, bearing with it the spoils of its epic victory: one-to-two-thousand words, a center-aligned image of some type, and several dozen Wowhead links. It then distributes these treasures among the citizenry, spreading word of its conquests throughout the villages and townships, before kneeling before the King of Mageland and presenting him with the head of a Warlock.

And there is much rejoicing.


I don't know about you, but the idea of patch 3.0.2 scares the living crap out of me. I mean, I'm excited about a lot of it--changing my Mage's hairstyle and restoring his lower jaw, for instance (it still perplexes me how a barber can alter my entire facial structure)--but there are things about the impending patch that absolutely terrify me. Chief among these is that free respec.

Choosing a spec on the beta, where respecs cost a whopping 1 copper, has been difficult enough. Almost every talent we have now will be changed (in most cases improved), moved, or flat-out abolished when the patch hits, and many new talents will appear. Believe me when I say that none of the currently accepted level 70 talent specs will remain intact. In many ways, Mages, like every other class, are getting what amounts to a complete class reset. Everything we know about talent builds will essentially have to be forgotten and relearned. Even raids your guild knows frontward and back will become a crazy new adventure, and PvP will become a giant crap-shoot. The good news is that for at least that first week, the Arena playing field will be leveled completely.

But don't worry. Arcane Brilliance is here to help. Follow me after the break to see what kind of fun we can have with our 61 talent points after the patch hits.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.0.2 and you

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Ready Check: In Limbo - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we look to the future...

Raiding's in an interesting place at the moment. With the upcoming raid changes and dungeons we'll see in WotLK, a lot of people are looking forward and feeling less enthusiasm for the present. Some of those with bosses yet to kill in the game are becoming despondent at ever seeing the end of the tunnel, and people with everything on farm are finding excuses not to raid once they have their desired gear under their belts.

So what can raiders do now to prepare for the expansion, and how can raid guilds deal with the pre-expansion blues?

Continue reading Ready Check: In Limbo

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Blame beta crashes on Unholy Blight - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST

The beta realms have been even less stable than normal this weekend, which is a bit inconvenient when everybody is trying to test Naxxramas. Apparently the cause of the crashes has been pinpointed, and it's the Death Knight spell Unholy Blight (specifically Rank 2). It seems that whenever that spell was used, it would bring down the world servers. Perhaps it was mistakenly coded to surround the world servers with a vile swarm of unholy insects, instead of the DK's target.

So the devs have hotfix-disabled it; you will still see it in your spellbook, but it will have no effect if you try to cast it. A worthwhile trade-off for the servers staying up for more than five minutes at a time, I'd say. The other ranks, including the level 80 rank 4 version, are still available. The Storm Peaks and Icecrown zones were also causing issues, and will not be able to be hotfixed, so we'll have to continue to do without them until the next patch.

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Penguin noncombat pets appear in the beta - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST


Well, folks, it looks like we're definitely getting our wish. After incessant begging, peevish requests, heart-rending pleas, and no small amount of outright nagging on the part of...actually, I think everyone in the game has asked for this at one point or another, but never mind. People in the beta have started getting penguin pets!

A much earlier data-mined image gave us a glimpse of what we could only assume were penguin noncombat pets, but reader Alassiel has written in to confirm that two of her characters in the beta have now received them in the mail. You can see Alassiel's screenshots of her Death Knight getting hers here and here.

Elizabeth Wachowski and Zach Yonzon braved a constantly-crashing beta server to get more information and pictures for us. It looks like the pet, named "Chilly," is currently being mailed to players in the beta as a gift for switching to a Blizzard account. And yes, it is pretty much the cutest thing ever, which I suspect is an effort to compensate for Northrend being a continent full of animated corpses. As Alassiel's gotten them on at least two characters so far, I assume it's being sent to all active toons on a Blizzard account. We're not sure if that's going to remain the only way to get Chilly, but if you're in the beta and have a Blizzard account (or want to switch to one -- it's free), don't forget to check your mailbox!

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Ask a Beta Tester: More about inscription - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST


We might have had more news today -- if Blizzard's beta servers could stay online for more than five minutes consecutively. We've been staring a lot at the "World Server Down" message since Blizzard rolled out patch 8905 late last night (or early this morning, depending on how you look at these things). Let's start today off with more on Inscription. A new beta patch went up last night with a few changes, including....
  • "Pomaces" have been renamed "Pigments" and have shiny new icons that look less like dust (they were various colors of enchanting dust icons) and look more like... well, I suppose, pigments.You can judge for yourself what you think they look most like.
  • New Glyphs for Shamans, Warlocks, and Warriors.
  • More Glyphs with realistic, skill level appropriate material costs. (Though the majority of them still need the exact same ink, herb, and one of each kind of parchment.)
  • The Glyph cooldown has been changed. Though applying a Glyph still starts an hour cooldown, the cooldown is only for that Glyph, specifically. So if, for example, my Paladin applies Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom, I cannot apply Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom again for an hour. However, I could instantly swap six healing Glyphs for six tanking Glyphs -- I'd just have to wait to switch back to my original healing Glyphs. (And, of course, I'd have to have a new set of healing Glyphs to swap to, as removing them to put in tank-oriented Glyphs would destroy them.)
And, though apparently not new, several people in the comments noted that a Glyph can be removed by shift right-clicking -- however, this still destroys the Glyph in the process.
For more of your beta questions -- and our beta answers -- read on! But if you're the sort who wants to avoid spoilers, turn back now. We're aiming to avoid major story spoilers, but this feature is all about beta content and we can't talk about the beta without giving a few things away.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: More about inscription

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Widget shows character name statistics - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST


If you've ever been fascinated by the MMORPG statistics provided at sites like the Daedalus Project, here's something right up your alley; the WoW Armory Character Distribution widget, programmed to comb both the U.S. and E.U. Armories and capture data on the popularity of character names across race, class, faction, and sex.

The project is still in the testing stage, and it's a bit finicky about how you enter character names. Make sure you're always hitting the submit button and not using your enter key, as otherwise the widget will keep searching for the last name you looked for instead of your new query. Its creator, Emilis, also wrote to warn that it uses live information from both armories and will occasionally be slow as a result. I imagine it might also be inaccurate if either Armory is having problems.

The widget is tremendously fun to play with and has yielded some rather interesting results even with the completely random names I keep trying. "John" and "Mary," as you might expect, are overwhelmingly Human toons, whereas the greater share of people playing a "Sergei" and "Yekaterina" are Draenei. 3 people with a "Brutus" are actually playing female characters, and 1 person with a "Laura" is playing a male character (Emilis notes that gender-bending names are surprisingly common, although from what I can tell so far this seems to be a lot more true of male names for female toons than the other way around). Most people with a "Killer" are playing a Hunter, Rogue, or Warrior. Characters named "Bank" are mostly Human Warriors, but "Banktoon(s)" are mostly Orcs. And, yes, most of the people playing a toon named Legolas are Night Elf Hunters. Are you really that surprised?

Thanks to Emilis for writing in!

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WoW Moviewatch: WeGame contest winners announced - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

The winners of the WeGame machinima contest were finally announced last night. Of course, I blogged about all three top World of Warcraft entries already. Pinkhair's The Robber Baron of Warsong Gulch took first place, Martin Falch's Divided Soul took third, and Firebolt Production's The Way of Life took fourth. Congratulations to everyone!

Since the winners were already discussed, I'd like to show off some of the Honorable Mentions. Today's video comes from Mike "Spiff" Booth, otherwise known as the guy that makes Jonathan Coulton music video machinimas. It may surprise you to know that the soundtrack to Live is by Paul and Storm, though!

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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Gear Wishlist tells you where to go next - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST


I've been looking around for something exactly like this -- while Kaliban's Class Loot is a great resource for figuring out what kind of loot to dress in right before the endgame, and our gearing for Karazhan guides are a great resource for good drops and pieces around that level (including the rep sets you can get for each class and spec), the next biggest question to answer is "what comes after that?" And Gear Wishlist, a site made and sent to us by Darrell Anderson, tries to answer exactly that question.

After putting in your character and realm, you get a list of all the gear you've got equipped, matched up against a list of all the gear available at the item level you're looking at (you can customize exactly where the item levels come from, if there's a site whose estimations of the gear you value more), with yours highlighted. So basically, you get an up and down list of where to go from the gear you've got, and you can easily see where it all comes from and what kinds of stats it gives.

Of course, this is still more of a guideline -- just because gear appears above yours on this list doesn't mean that it's better than yours for your class and spec. And attainability is a big factor as well -- if you're not in a raiding guild, your time might be better spent grinding rep rather than trying to suffer through with PuGs. But as an overview of the gear available to you, Gear Wishlist works great. Hopefully the site will stay up under our linkage, and if it doesn't, check back in a few days to see if it's slowed down.

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Around Azeroth: The circle of death - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST


One of the great joys of being a high level in WoW is when you get to go back and completely decimate enemies that owned you forty levels ago. This is why you often run into bitter level 70s repeatedly killing Mor'Ladim or Sons of Arugal. From what I could gather from his e-mail, Flobot of Turalyon was in a Deadmines group with such a vengeance-minded hunter. The "hunter runner" dragged all the local mobs back to the group, resulting in the carnage you see here. What did the miners ever do to you, unnamed hunter? Oh, right. The repair bills. Sorry about that.

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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BigRedKitty: Core Hound - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 09:20:00 EST


Daniel Howell contributes
BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.

Basically... hunters have just been dubbed the Most Loved Class in WoW. If the ultimate goal in this game is to have fun, then hunters own the place and the rest of you lesser-classes just live here.

Continue reading BigRedKitty: Core Hound

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Naxx-10 loot discovered - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 08:40:00 EST

The ten-man version of Naxxramas was enabled in last night's beta patch, including loot. And thanks to insomniac beta testers and to MMO-Champion, we now get to see a whole bunch of that loot, including class sets, which is what I'm most interested in at the moment. The class sets aren't quite finished yet - their names are things like "Naxxramas 10 Rogue Set," and there aren't any set bonuses - but it's still interesting to see what sort of stats Blizz is planning on giving us.

Some observations:

  • The item level on all this stuff is 200; Kil'jaeden's drops are ilvl 164.
  • Given that two tiers are typically about 14 ilvls apart, this implies that when we see Naxx-25 loot it will probably be ilvl 214 or so.
  • I know that we've got spell power now, and no +healing, but it still took me a few minutes to figure out why I couldn't find a healing weapon.
  • Melee one-handed weapons are doing 143 DPS; by comparison, Hand of the Deceiver, from Kil'jaeden, does 114 (the highest currently available in a one-handed weaopn).
  • I don't like to see items with shield block on them that aren't shields (Deflection Band, Waistguard of the Tutor), since only half of the tanks can use them.
  • There's an oddly large amount of crit rating on the Priest healing set. Is this a consequence of some change I haven't quite digested yet?

Anyway, this all looks good; go look at the items yourself at MMO-Champion. I can't wait to see what they're going to do with tokens, and to see some of the Naxx-25 stuff start to drop.

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WoW Insider Show live this afternoon on WoW Radio - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 07:00:00 EST


Yes, our weekly podcast is returning to the virtual airwaves this afternoon, and while Turpster is off cavorting around Florida, Duncor, myself, and BRK will be live on WoW Radio talking about the most popular stories in the past week of Warcraft. We're sure to hit on the whole Recruit-a-Friend leveling extravaganza (and if it's hurting the game), Blizzard's removal of the "first to 80" titles (and whether they are hurting the game), and the soon-to-be rarity of the Zul'Aman bears (and whether, you guessed it, that's hurting the game) and our favorite achievements (even though BRK thinks they're hurting the game).

Also, all three of us are in and playing the beta, so we'll do another live version of "Ask a Beta Tester" with the people in the IRC channel during the show -- you can join us on IRC at irc.mmoirc.org in the #wowradio channel, or send your question to theshow@wowinsider.com right now and we might answer it on the show for you.

Should be a fun podcast, especially since our little show is one of the "eight podcasts geek gamers shouldn't live without"! (Thanks, Patrick!) We'll kick things off around 3:30pm Eastern time, and you can tune in just by visiting the WoW Radio homepage (as always, if you can't make it, a recording of the show will be available later in the week). See you then!

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Misery slightly less miserable - Sat, 06 Sep 2008 04:00:00 EST
Last night's beta push, 8905, introduced another change to Misery. The former 5 point talent has gone through a number of changes already, and the latest one seems to be an attempt at healing the wounds of its previous nerf.

As of 8905, Misery now supplies its 3% spell hit as well as a 15% spell power coefficient increase on Mind Flay, Mind Sear, and Mind Blast. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and just how much a difference that makes. The original version of Misery was 5% spell damage across the entire raid, including your personal damage. Mind Blast and Mind Flay are definitely huge sources of a Shadow Priest's damage, but it's less than half of the spells used in our damage 'rotation.'

Will 15% more damage on those spells make up for the loss of 5% damage on all spells, as far as your personal damage is concerned? It's certainly possible, probably even likely. While the damage from Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death (especially Pain) shouldn't be underestimated, Blast and Flay are definitely the major players here. Plus we have news that Mind Flay's coefficient is going up and gaining the ability to crit soon, so an extra 15% on that spell will scale very, very well.

Now that Naxxramas has opened up on the beta realms, we should start seeing some numbers and math soon. However, the new Mind Flay isn't implemented yet, so how this scale may completely change when that happens. At the very least, the bare minimum, this is an improvement over what they did to it originally. How much of an improvement remains to be seen.

Edit: Fixed to reflect the talent's wording.

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Warlock glyphs in Beta build 8905 - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 22:35:00 EST
I'm having a lot of fun with the new Inscription profession. Not necessarily as an Inscriber, but as the recipient of these cool new customization features. As Daniel noted the last time, the Warlock glyphs look pretty sweet, and more glyphs for Warlocks appeared recently in the Wrath Beta. And just like the last time, a few of them really do look pretty spiffy, like this one for example...

Glyph of Drain Soul
Your Drain Soul ability occasionally creates an additional soul shard.
We might as well call this the Soul Shard specialization glyph -- an extra shard for Drain Soul? Yes please! Even if you pack your bag full with 28 Soul Shards before heading into an instance or raid, Warlocks still find themselves in situations where they run out of it, specially for those who have Shadowburn thrown in. Timing Drain Soul just right so it doesn't gimp your DPS is a pain in itself, so an extra shard for the effort is pure win. Besides, procs like these are like an Azerothian mini-lottery. This is also perfect for those lazy Warlocks -- and there are a ton of those -- who only bring a handful of shards to an instance.

Continue reading Warlock glyphs in Beta build 8905

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Shaman glyphs in Beta build 8905 - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 22:00:00 EST


The inimitable Matthew Rossi, our burly Shaman and Warrior expert, had his hands full with the overwhelming number of Warrior glyphs that popped up in the new Wrath Beta build. Since the few Shaman glyphs this build got me a little excited -- more than the yawn-inducing Paladin ones last week, anyway -- I thought I'd cover this one while Matt does the heavy lifting with the Warrior changes.

Glyph of Water Breathing
Your Water Breathing spell no longer requires a reagent.
An excellent glyph. I'm a huge fan of these no-reagent glyphs for obvious reasons. Although Shiny Fish Scales are abundant and cheap, they do take up bag space. What I like about these types of glyphs is that they'll literally pay for themselves over time because there's a direct cost. The best part of this? It now works exactly like the Warlock spell and can be used as an additional buff in PvP without worrying about running out of Shiny Fish Scales (e.g., it still consumes a reagent in Arenas).

Continue reading Shaman glyphs in Beta build 8905

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Warrior glyphs and talent changes in Beta build 8905 - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 21:30:00 EST


We were just talking about the state of protection warriors in the Beta, and lo and behond, not only do we get a new prot-heavy beta build to try out, but we also get those long sought warrior glyphs to drool over. So what are the big changes? Well, MMO Champion and World of Raids have the lists but some of the standouts are worth mentioning here.

For starters, warriors get a variety of changes aimed at tanking: Warbringer allows a prot warrior to charge in combat, in any stance, Thunder Clap's damage is increased by 50%, and Damage Shield, a new ability, causes warriors to deal damage whenever hit by a damaging attack or when they block an incoming attack equal to 10/20% of block value. With the new way strength adds to block, this is an indirectly scaling with AP ability. Improved Shield Block now is folded into Shield Mastery, Vitality now adds expertise in addition to strength and stamina, and several abilities have had their threat reduced but their direct damage increased to compensate. A change that surprised me greatly was seeing Sword and Board now adding yup to 15% critical strike chance to Devastate in addition to resetting Shield Slam's cooldown and reducing it's rage cost by 100%. This could make devastate a very attractive DPS option in the right gear.

And Shield Wall is back up to 60% damage reduction for 12 seconds. The Improved Shield Wall talent is gone, replaced by Improved Disciplines, which lowers the cooldown on Retaliation, Recklessness and Shield Wall by 60 seconds max.

Continue reading Warrior glyphs and talent changes in Beta build 8905

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Aspect of the Viper changed again - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST

The Hunter mana regeneration tool, Aspect of the Viper, has been revised again. Currently, in live, it provides passive mana regen. It was recently announced that it was going to be changed to provide 100% of your damage as mana regen, but cut your damage output by 50% (less with talents). This lets the hunter switch it on when they need mana, fill up their mana pool, and switch back to Hawk to DPS some more, as opposed to being in Viper all the time as many hunters do these days.

Apparently, though, it was just a bit too powerful, as many users have commented. Hunters with good gear were filling up their mana bar way too fast. So it's going to be changed again, this time to restore a percentage of your base mana each time you hit. While this does do away with some scaling issues, it seems to introduce others. For instance, this makes a fast weapon vastly more desirable for mana regen. But (say it with me) it's still beta, so I'm confident that they'll work out any game-breaking flaws there may be in this new incarnation.

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New options button in beta - Fri, 05 Sep 2008 19:30:00 EST
In the LK beta build that just went live tonight, build number 8905, there's a new Options button on the login screen, just above Cinematics, Credits, and Terms of Use. What lies behind its blue mystery? [Edit: apparently it was there in the last build too. I never noticed.]

Unsurprisingly enough, it contains some options that you might want to change before entering the game. Specifically, it has options for video resolution, video effect quality, and sound. For the most part, these are the same options currently available in-game. "Enable Reverb," "Headphone Mode," and "Death Knight Voices" have been added to the sound pane. "Disable Resize" has been added under "Windowed Mode" in the resolution pane; I'm not sure why you'd want to do that, though, unless you kept accidentally resizing the window (which I've never had an issue with, and I often play windowed).

The big innovation here (and yes, I realize innovations in option dialogs may not strike you as particularly interesting) is a master slider for video quality. Now you don't have to fiddle separately with terrain distance and ground clutter density if you don't want to; just drag the slider somewhere on the scale from "Low" to "High," whatever's prettiest without being too devastating to your framerates on your particular system. Of course, there's a "Custom" setting, so if you want to tweak all the little sliders, you are still free to do so. A nice change, and it will especially benefit people who don't necessarily know what all the options mean.


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