One of the most irritating things about raiding would have to be ninja AFK's. You wait for the results of a ready check only to see that -- oh, crap -- someone hasn't returned a verdict. Now, AFK's can happen for good reasons (children, explosions, children with explosives), but just as often they don't. On farm content, it's an irritating wait. On progression content, you check your watch and realize you're inching that much closer to a respawn timer and a raid leader who'll need a prescription for that skyrocketing blood pressure of his. As time passes, the clamor to just pull the boss rises, but that's not really possible on an achievement-oriented run like The Undying or something like a 3-drake Sartharion.
There are still a few fights where you can AFK entirely and no one would be the wiser (here's looking at you, Patchwerk), but they're a dying breed. Too Many Annas, much to our surprise, managed a successful Heigan kill with an AFK player, and Heigan's notoriously unforgiving even to the inattentive. The tactic involves a Paladin and what I assume to be a supremely annoyed heal team, but apparently it worked -- and I am mightily tempted to suggest it for our next Naxx clear.
Each week Arcane Brilliance dispeneses a tall glass of sweet Mage content. Sometimes this content consists of pure, undistilled truth. Other times, there's some crap in the mix. I blame Blizzard, for putting the truth and the crap right next to each other on the same shelf. You'd think they'd put the truth all alone on its own shelf--you know, to prevent any misunderstandings--or maybe put labels on this stuff, clearly distinguish the truth from the crap. If it were me, I think I'd just stop stocking the crap all together. They must know something I don't. I guess that's why they're the giant game developer and I'm the guy sitting in front of my computer in my pajamas eating pop tarts and trying not to get too many crumbs on the keyboard.
In case you've been stranded on a remote island for the past week with nothing but a volleyball for company and only just made it back to civilization, put a shirt on, shave your beard and brace yourself: we finally got some solid patch 3.1 info. I know, it totally makes that week of eating coconuts and talking to yourself worthwhile, right?
We've been waiting for this patch almost since day one of Wrath, with its tantalizing promises of Ulduar and dual specs, and now Blizzard has given us a lot more details. There will a huge amount of class changes, and Mages will not be left out of the mix. The announced changes are intriguing, even if they are infuriatingly vague. We're definitely getting some new stuff, some buffs, some nerfs, some buff-nerfs...but as to the specifics, who knows, really? Pending more detail, we're going to have to take our best educated guesses as to what all of this means. Follow me after the jump for as much unsubstantiated conclusion-jumping as you can handle.
Once you start throwing multiple drakes into the mix, I love the Sartharion encounter. It's very frantic, and takes everyone performing. What I don't love is how hard it is to see the shadow fissures that spawn in the encounter when there's a lot going on. Red on red is awful, and then when you throw a Death Knight's Death and Decay into the mix if you're using one? It's pretty much an orgy of red, and you can't really tell which red is from what source.
I quite literally leapt for joy when Daelo, lead encounter designer, mentioned that they'll be turning blue in a future patch. It's a minor tweak to the encounter, but it will seriously help those moments when you have a void zone beneath a Death and Decay and you have a tank who is tanking loads of whelps and elementals which are already obscuring their vision. The hardest part of the fight isn't the movements, the hardest part is being able to see.
This does make me wonder what they'll do with future, similar things. The terrain alone makes the void zones hard to see during Sartharion, but the largest issue (I think) is Death and Decay. It's big, fluffy, and extremely red. Will they simply not be able to use red ground effects anymore? My raid doesn't do it, but there are raids out there that forbid Death Knights from using Death and Decay for the specific reason that it hides AOEs beneath it, so I have to wonder if there's a better solution to the problem than changing colors without removing the 'cool factor' of the DnD particle effect.
Unfortunately, it looks like he's not going to be able to continue the "Flintlocke" comics while at Blizzard (whether for time-related or legal reasons, I'm not sure), so that's kind of a downer. The current Horde comic has already been planned all the way to its end, which will occur at some point in late April. I was disappointed to read this -- I love Flintlocke, and the Horde storyline is amazing ("What kind of combat skills you got on that thing?" "Probably flee and mate") -- but I expect we'll be seeing some of Kosak's influence ingame.
Congratulations, Mr. Kosak, and from all of us here at WoW Insider, good luck!
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...
In amongst detailed tactical explanations of the various bosses currently residing in the available level 80 raid instances, let's take a break to look at the bigger picture. Many guilds are in a situation several of you can relate to: having cleared Naxxramas, the Eye of Eternity and the Obsidian Sanctum (let's not pretend Vault of Archavon's a proper raid instance), there's nothing left to do but clear them again. And again. And again...
Welcome to farm status. Whether you struggled to defeat the final denizens of these dungeons or facerolled it all in the first week, eventually raiders reach a common plateau with everything killed and these kills more or less easily repeatable. When at this point, there are several different directions you can go, and I'm sure we've all seen other people do one or more of the following: get bored and simply stop showing up; get greedy and focus entirely on loot, playing sloppily and angsting over drops; level an alt and suddenly have the world revolve around that character, trying to get it into raids because your main doesn't need loot; or hunker down and start preparing for the future.
This week's column deals with the latter, but if you're seeing people exhibit less-than-savoury behaviour now you clear everything in one night a week, it can be very telling -- especially if they're a recent recruit. With the leisure of a farm period, you have time to deal with these people as your guild sees fit, although boredom is a real problem when farm periods are long (such as the gap between Black Temple and Sunwell Plateau). With nothing to interest hardcore raiders in the game any more, real life starts rearing its head, and many guilds lose important players at this time, replacing them with untried raiders who might seem great on farm content but whose skill on progress raids is an unknown. There's no real solution to this, it happens, and it's up to your guild how you deal with it.
So how does a guild prepare for a raid instance nobody knows much about?
This is long overdue, but with the Strand of the Ancients weekend upon us, it's a fine time to take a look at the Battleground introduced to us in Wrath of the Lich King. Strand of the Ancients is presumably located off the Southern coast of Dragonblight, and works differently than any other Battleground before it. It is the first timed Battleground and guarantees that the game will end in about twenty minutes or less.
The 15-player Battleground has an attack and defend scenario, where the objective is to capture the Titan Relic housed inside a keep at the southern end of the map. It is very similar to Wintergrasp, and is a fast-paced Battleground where players literally race against time. Attackers, split into two groups, arrive on two boats on the Northeast and Northwest portions of the map. When they land on the beach, four siege vehicles are initially available to attackers, who must break down gates to get to their goal.
These siege vehicles are identical to the demolishers found in Wintergrasp, with about 80,000 hp and the same offensive capabilites. Players on foot can pick up Massive Seaforium Charges in Seaforium Barrels throughout the map. These explosives can be placed near gates to deal damage to them. Players on defense, meanwhile, can man cannons that flank each gate. These cannons have 60,000 hp and have very long range.
Toth had all of the images saved over on Photobucket, but we've combined them all in the gallery below for easy browsing -- make sure to click "Hi Res" in the gallery so you can see the pics full size for the full effect. Unfortunately, Toth doesn't share any details on exactly how he made these (unless he did just take one picture, and then move slightly to take the second, which anyone could try). But the effect of the shots is pretty cool.
Some walruses are more angry than mellow. Some walruses are tired of lame internet memes about their buckets. Some walruses want only buckets ... of blood. Varris of Icecrown took this panic-inducing screenshot while testing out if druid aquatic form worked when swimming in lava. Unfortunately for our prospects of a good night's sleep, it did.
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.
Today on the show, we're gonna have a good ol' podcastin' time. Michael Sacco, formerly known as "Belfaire," is returning to the show, as is Turpster, and we'll be talking all about patch 3.1 and all of the changes we heard about this week (there's lots of them, if you haven't been paying attention), specifically what we've been told about mana regeneration and what's up with all of the classes (no ammo?!?). We'll also chat about the Darkmoon cards, and about playing the Horde and why so many people are into it.
Should be fun -- come visit us on the Ustream page this afternoon at 3:30pm Eastern (or just head right below the cut of this post -- I've embedded the stream below), and be ready to chat some Warcraft with us (both during the show and the usual aftershow). Don't forget that you can email us as well -- the address is email@example.com, so hit us up if you've got a comment or question.
What a dizzying experience. A good number of our raiders recently took advantage of Blizzard's Paid Character Customization feature introduced in December last year. This resulted in a rise of our Tauren female population, more hip-grinding female orcs, and one or two more female Blood Elves. Yes, most of these players paid for their characters' gender reassignment. The odd thing is, since they were at it, anyway, none of them changed their names (the paid customization feature also includes a name change, which is also available as a separate service).
So we had essentially the same roster of raiders, except that this time, they were females. And all of these players were male. I haven't met anyone yet who's paid to change from female to male, although I'm sure there are more than a few out there. My wife couldn't bear the thought of changing her characters' gender -- she identified with them too much. I feel the same way about my characters, too, so they're staying male. For now, anyway. A month and change after the feature was introduced, do you know anyone who has gone for a character overhaul? Have you taken advantage of this feature? Would you? If yes, what would you change?
[1.Local] Levity in the face of change - Fri, 06 Feb 2009 21:30:00 EST Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.
A grammatical clamity In a week replete with anxiety-provoking change, readers went off on a tangent (who'd-a thunk it?) about Adam Holisky's original use of "abated" in the phrase "bated breath." Not the type to clam up, readers ran with the new direction. "Dude, I think he just called us all a bunch of idioms!" exclaimed Arturis. "He has insulted our family homage, and I, for one, will not stanza for this any more! Let us cliche together and phrase this peril! 0_O"
The repartee didn't end there. "Did you really say clamity in your title?" asked chiaroscuro. "I think you mean 'calamity.'"
"Whooosh -- right over your head ..." zweitblom popped back.
"LOL, nice one, chiaroscuro," chuckled Graargh. "Your humor went right over the top of zweitblom's head. :)"
More stuff and nonsense (more or less earth-shattering? you decide) from our readers, after the break.
This will be like beating on a dead horse or something since Blizzard keepsmakingpostsaboutit, but Aratil put up a comprehensive FAQ about the new and mysterious Arena matchmaking system. This is probably the most enlightening post of all, and should clear up many questions players have about their ratings versus their performance. It explains why some teams are experiencing drops in personal and team ratings even when they sport winning records.
In a nutshell, the system is continuously trying to place players and teams in the bracket. This means a 50% win ratio, where teams are fighting other teams of equal skill (and thus have an even chance to win or lose). If players get winning records but still drop in ratings, it means that they are beating far inferior teams and the system will adjust their Matchmaking Ratings or MMR to the appropriate level. It is by far the best post about the subject, answering important concerns clearly and without any smoke and mirrors. The way Aratil explains it shows how the new system is superior to the old one. If you're going to read just one post about the new system (and there's a lot), this should be it.
Whether you're looking to reel someone in, set up a romantic excursion, or send an enemy a delicious surprise, you'll find that preparation is the key. This year, crafted items are the hot new trend. What better to say, "Darling, I can't get enough of the way your eyes puss" than with handmade?
First, you have to look the part. For all of you gents out there, I recommend seeking out a tailor for your very own Tuxedo Jacket, Tuxedo Pants, and coordinating Tuxedo Shirt. Alternatively, a Festival Suit will have you standing apart from the crowd, while a Colorful Kilt will set up some easy access to um, cultural traditions.
For the gals, we have the lovely and sophisticated Festival Dress, or the elaborate and vaguely desperate White Wedding Dress. If you want to attract a different sort of attention, then try the Red Winter Clothes on for size! They aren't just for Winter Veil, and are snazzier than anything Victoria keeps secret.
"Emergency" rolling restarts - Fri, 06 Feb 2009 19:40:00 EST Logging on and playing might be rather difficult. All US servers are undergoing what now appears to be multiple restarts (Eldre'Thalas has restarted twice in the last 30 minutes).
The logon announcement tells us that the process will take two hours, and each realm will be down for about 15 minutes.
Ideally this won't be something that impacts the game too long. And dang nabit, it better not, because yours truly has a lot of free time this weekend he plans to use leveling up his Shaman.
Oh, don't worry, Alex. We don't fire people for playing other MMOs. Not often, anyway. But regardless of Alex's fate, for the rest of the team -- and to let us know what you're up to in-game this weekend (Warcraft or otherwise) -- keep reading!
That doesn't look like a sword. It just looks like a terrifying swath of death! We love it.
Name: Avool's Sword of Jin (Wowhead, Thottbot, WoW-Arsenal) Type: Epic One-hand Sword Damage/Speed: 150-280 / 1.50 (143.3 DPS) Abilities:
+38 Agility, +36 Stamina
Improves hit rating by 31 and attack power by 62
Great sword for Rogues or Hunters, though the method of obtaining it (see below) probably outweighs the actual stats of it, unless you really, really want one. The hit is great, the fact that it can be dual wielded is nice, and the attack power is just icing on the cake.
Plus, just look at it. If someone is running at you and holding that thing, it's pretty clear they don't want to give you a hug and take you out to dinner. It reminds me of the Kill-O-Zap guns from the Hitchhiker's Guide: "the designers of which decided to make it totally clear that it had a right end, and a wrong end, and if that meant sticking blacked and evil-looking devices and prongs all over the wrong end, so be it."
Hi, I'm Matthew Rossi, your host for The Care and Feeding of Warriors. Unfortunately for my plans to talk about Hit/Expertise for DPS warriors this week Blizzard went and dropped a huge mess of news on upcoming changes to every class in patch 3.1, including warriors. I analyzed the changes yesterday and I was more or less positive when I did so. After all, this is hardly all the changes incoming (they even say things like We are also adding increased damage to Arms, possibly through Overpower or Slam) so obviously not everything is finalized yet.
But in the cold light of day, I'm frustrated. Fair warning: this is not going to be a fair and balanced overview piece. This is an opinion, an editorial, of the way Blizzard keeps underestimating what the warrior class needs. Why is arms still broken in PvE months after the beta? Why is one of the biggest changes to warriors in this patch a change to the shielding mechanic we can't even choose to apply to ourselves?
Yeah, turns out it's not going to be happening after all.
While "Activision Blizzard" is going, only the Activison part will be showing up to smile for everyone. It appears the Blizzard part will be staying at home playing Wrath or tiddlywinks and sticking their tongue out at everyone, much like the girl in the picture (which I shamelessly have stolen from our sister site Joystiq who brings us this news).
But I can understand, because Blizzard really doesn't have anything to show at E3. I mean, it's not like they're making three of the hottest games on the planet or anything... Wrath? Diablo 3? StarCraft 2? Never heard of 'em.
Kalgan hopped on over to the forums to make a significant post that previews what can happen in Arena Season 6, the tiers of gear available, and what will happen to the Vault of Archavon. One of my fears going into the next Arena Season was that Archavon the Stone Watcher would lose his relevance, as he drops significantly lower tier gear a full season behind the current one. This would have greatly devalued control of Wintergrasp.
However, Kalgan reveals that a new boss in another wing of the Vault of Archavon will drop the Furious Gladiator pieces. He makes no mention of past season's gear, and says that the new boss' loot table will be structured slightly differently drom Archavon's. This could mean that the 10-man version can drop the Honor-bought non-set pieces rather than a lower tier of Arena gear and notes that the boss will not drop the chest piece. In the same post, he pegs the chest piece at a 1750 rating requirement, which should probably indicate that the boss will not drop items with a higher requirement (head, shoulder, weapon, etc.). This is an important announcement that ensures the relevance of Wintergrasp. The boss is also expected to drop Tier 8 pieces, making it equally appealing to PvE players.
We've had some rather...bumpy... patches as of late from Blizzard. In patch 3.0.2 the servers were down for what was nearly a day before hand, and when the patch finally did arrive not everything was as it should have been. It took a month's time for all the changes to make their way to the live server.
When Wrath of the Lich King was launched, there were countless servers inflicted with near game-ending lag and connection problems for people. And that's not to mention the hour long queues many of us faced (and still face to some degree).
So while we sit here with bated breath waiting for new information about patch 3.1, there is a little voice going on in the back of my head. "Do you really want this, Adam? Do you really want your email box to be flooded with tips about how buggy the patch is?"
But then I think of happier things, like clam stacking, and I smile.
I want to take a poll today. Do you think patch 3.1 will be a clamity or a cheering celebration?