The inevitable loss - Wed, 09 Jul 2008 19:00:00 EST Around every 4th of July I reread Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels, which is a book about the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. There's an early passage about the Southern general James Longstreet's unease over the Confederate push north to Pennsylvania: He had never believed in this invasion...He did not believe in offensive warfare when the enemy outnumbered you and outgunned you and would come looking for you anyway if you waited somewhere on your own ground. Longstreet, one of the finest military minds of the age, spends much of the subsequent bloody fight knowing that Union forces had a terrain advantage impossible to overcome.
There's been a lot written about battleground strategy (particularly Alterac Valley) but I think all of us have known the sinking feeling you get when you realize that your side isn't going to win. Some causes of failure are relatively easy to pinpoint; starting a battleground with a heavy numbers or healing disadvantage often seals the fate of a match. And of course the collective quality of a team's gear will always play a role; people in Season 4 are unlikely to lose to those in Season 1.
All other things being equal, what I find most fascinating are the matches -- PuG versus PuG, or premade versus premade -- where the battle can swing either way depending entirely on each team's degree of foresight and strategy. Rarely, single players can sometimes decide the outcome; I once saw a protection paladin in a 2-cap versus 2-cap Eye of the Storm prevent the opposing side from taking any flags by parking himself in the middle and simply taking forever to die, and one of my own favorite techniques is to suicide/harass heavily-defended nodes in Arathi Basin and EOTS while Horde quietly caps elsewhere (you'd be amazed at the number of players who prefer an easy kill over responding to "Inc!" calls elsewhere). But failure and success are usually collective and hard to pin down. How do you convince people to do the less-glamorous jobs -- defense, distraction, crowd-control -- more likely to result in a victory? How do you know when the battleground is lost for sure?
Still, if we're looking at last year's Blizzcon, Blizzard actually has another month before they need to put tickets out to keep pace. In 2007, Blizzcon was held during the first week of August, and tickets went on sale June 12th. That means there was a little under 2 months between the time the first tickets went on sale and the time the event happened. If they follow the same basic timeline this year, we can expect tickets sometime in mid-August.
Then again, tickets for the Worldwide Invitational Paris went on sale on March 20th, around 3 months before the Invitational itself. In that case, Blizzard would need to start selling tickets within the next few days to keep pace. In that case, perhaps it's a bit futile to try to predict the exact date that we can expect Blizzcon ticket sales.
Either way, keep your browser tuned here, we'll be sure to let you know the minute tickets are available.
Wowhead releases Wrath talent calculators - Wed, 09 Jul 2008 17:00:00 EST For some of you, it may strike you as a little early to be thinking about your level 80 talent builds - especially given that Wrath is still in alpha and everything we think we know about it may change - but I say, it's never too early to theorycraft. That is why I'm pleased to report that Wowhead, having gotten a chance to play some Wrath at WWI, made talent calculators for the Wrath alpha talents, including Death Knights. Now we can play with our shiny new builds to our hearts' content. Paladins and Hunters have not had their talents implemented in the beta yet, so you won't find them there, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
Inveterate priest fan that I am, the first thing I did when I got my hands on this was make a build for my holy priest, and this is what I came up with: 14/57/0. Yes, I'm finally excited enough about Holy to spec away from Improved Divine Spirit; Guardian Spirit just looks too good to pass up, at least in its current form. As far as my Rogue goes, it depends on how Murder Spree ends up working, but I'm thinking either 21/50/0 (Cold Blood combat, yay!) or 20/51/0. Death Knights I still can't quite get my head around, but it sure is fun to play with their talents.
It's actually a great deal. For $20, you'll get the entire first season, two exclusive gag reels, commentary, interviews, subtitles, and even audition footage. Better yet, you get free shipping, and you'll have your dvd shortly after it releases on August 1st.
For fun facts about The Guild, check out the statistics and links on their Press Page. Did you miss the season finale? We have links and opinions for each episode.
Flying mounts and ruined PvP - Wed, 09 Jul 2008 16:00:00 EST Have flying mounts killed off world PvP in Outland? I'm on a PvE server, so I don't see it much anyway, but folks on a PvP server are complaining that whenever they find a good target and get close, the person just hops on their "carebear cloud" and flies away. Of course, "xxxx ruined PvP" is one of the most common types of QQ (although "xxxxx class is broken!" probably beats it), but is Blizzard protecting folks on flying mounts by letting them escape a fight too fast?
Neth says no, of course -- she says that flying away from (or into) a fight is just another method PvPers have in their arsenal. And a few commenters in the thread make the point that I would: odds are that if someone is running away from you, it's not really a fair fight -- flying mounts may have ruined ganking, but they haven't ruined actual PvP.
Of course, what people really want here is a way to attack someone in the sky, and fortunately, with Wrath of the Lich King, your prayers will be answered -- not only have we seen flying vehicles fighting in the air, but Blizzard has confirmed anti-air capabilities. If you're just looking for a gank, and are angry when that level 64 runs away from your kitted-out 70 Rogue, you're probably still going to be unhappy. But if you're looking for the fight to go up in the air when your opponent does, Northrend probably has what you need.
Authenticators are going out, via USPS - Wed, 09 Jul 2008 15:00:00 EST We had heard that there were problems with the Blizzard Authenticator (a few people who'd ordered them had gotten their money refunded by Blizzard), but apparently there are at least a few going out. Mania got hers -- she says that it works great, that she has already associated it with her accounts, and that she's thrilled with her purchase.
Not everybody is so lucky -- reader Tweaky emailed us to say that his order was supposed to go out UPS Next Day Air, but after it didn't show up and he had a tussle with Customer Support, he then found out it was actually going through the USPS and that it would show up late. No word on whether he's seen his yet or not. A few people commented on our last post that they actually had shipping returned to them, so maybe Blizzard originally planned to send some UPS, and then had to switch to a cheaper mailing method.
At this point, Blizzard has the keyfob sold out on their website, and there's no indication when we'll see any more (soon, probably). It appears that not only did they vastly underestimate demand for the Authenticator, but that people are seriously concerned about the security of their World of Warcraft account. No other game company has ever offered anything like this before, but given the response, it could soon become a standard.
DC Comics has released series 2 of their World of Warcraft action figures. Coming after series 1, and the next series due in November, this set includes a Draenei Paladin, a Gnome Warrior (looking great despite being mounted), a Human Warrior (rocking the Sword of a Thousand Truths), a Night Elf Druid, and a Troll Priest. You can see pictures of all the figures below -- they look great as usual, but as usual, it would be even better to have actual figures of our characters that look this good. Too bad FigurePrints hasn't got that figured out yet.
I was amazed by the Scarlet Crusade T-shirt tabard (and, you know, for wearability in public, it still kind of wins -- I still think my "custom tabard as t-shirt" business idea is a great one), but this is awesome, too -- Ammana of Dying Breed on my own home server of Cenarius-A was encouraged by her friend to send us this one, and we thank her for it -- she handcrafted a real-life, wearable version of her guild's tabard (you can click the picture above to see a bigger version of it). The crest is apparently hand-embroidered. She says she also made the dress and circlet herself, and the belt was crafted by a friend.
Very cool. Now all she need is those Pauldrons and that big axe and she's ready for some adventuring! I'm actually surprised by how well the tabard works in real-life. In game, it's kind of the least interesting thing on your character -- it's there for decoration, but the real show comes from your shoulders and helm. But when it's just the tabard, it's a much cooler piece of apparel. Not quite enough to start a new fashion trend, I think, but it does look good.
Despite producing what many feel are music videos with no substance, Baron Soosdon has inspired many machinimators in the WoW community. One such player, Eagleshadow, decided to create a machinima, Lost in Dreams, after seeing the Unlimited Escapism series. Armed with only Sony Vegas 8 and Fraps, he did a great job for this being his first video! While not recommended on Warcraftmovies yet, we have a feeling that we'll be seeing much more from him in the future.
If you missed the WoW PvP action at the Worldwide Invitational, now's your chance to catch up. Selections from the 3v3 Arena Tournament action in Paris, including the final match between Council of Mages and Improved Clicks, are now available for download at the WWI tournament page.
If you're interested in improving your PvP game, it's amazing how much watching videos of good players in action can help. You learn a lot about how to use your class, and how other classes operate when you look at them from a 3rd person point of view and watch for patterns.
Hey, I think someone dropped a gold coin at the bottom of the pool. Paraduxx of <Agents of Misfortune> took a picture of this unusual mass tauren death in Thunder Bluff on the Deathwing server. She speculates that the tauren had some kind of suicide pact. The only time I've ever seen something like this is in "corpse graffiti", where a group of people make characters with certain names and die in an pre-arranged area in an attempt at either a protest or a joke. I recall a gnome named "Welcomemat" marking the entrance to the Orgrimmar Auction House for at least a few days on one of my servers. Anyone from Deathwing care to enlighten us on what was going on?
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 email@example.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. And corpse graffiti of "lolblizzsux" is never funny.
The holiday weekend is over, and the time is night for you to vote for the winners of this week's Caption This contest. Sorry for the one-day delay -- the comments weren't showing up on some computers, including my home comp. As compensation, I upped the number of finalists from ten to an even dozen -- more chances to win! And now you get to decide who goes home with a 60-day game card, a choice of one of seven World of Warcraft action figures as detailed in the original post, or nothing but wistful memories. Just pick the best caption for the above picture. Voting closes tomorrow, Thursday, July 10, at 11:59 PM EST, and winners will be informed shortly afterward by e-mail.
Remember, entrants must be U.S. or non-Quebec Canadians at least 13 years old. If you'd like to peruse the contest's official rules, they can be found here. Thanks for voting!
NOTE: Holyground and Nectarofgods had great entries that unfortunately did not fit into the poll. So I'm putting them here instead, and you can vote for them below:
Six little maids from school are we, Pert as a school-girl well can be, Filled to the brim with girlish glee, Six little maids from school!
Six little maids who, all unwary, Come from a ladies' seminary, Freed from its genius tutelary - Six little maids from school!
Warlock: You know, I really thought those mages up in fancy Stormwind Keep would have the Burning Legion under control by now...
Priest: Yeah, King Llane must be pretty busy to let so many through the gates. Maybe we should warn someone?
Warlock: What are they gonna do...bite our ankles and cast spells at our knees?!?!
Priest: Right. I'll throw a piece of cheese and a cheap engineering pattern on the ground to distract them for now while you Seed of Corruption.
While this may happen some day, it doesn't look like that day is going to be coming any time soon. For example, the latest numbers on PC Game sales in the UK show World of Warcraft: Battle Chest reaching the top of the sales heap for the week, jumping up from the fourth position last week ahead of titles like Mass Effect and Age of Conan.
The surge in popularity might be attributable in part to the Worldwide Invitational. The hype was pretty hot and heavy both here and around the web, and I'm sure more than a few people might have hopped off the fence and decided to see what the fuss was about. Regardless, it's certainly good to see that WoW is not giving up its crown any time soon.
Breakfast Topic: Controllers R us - Wed, 09 Jul 2008 08:00:00 EST The Falcon controller just looks silly, doesn't it? Everything we've heard about it so far says it's pretty underwhelming -- the feedback doesn't work quite right, the controls seem a little less intuitive than a keyboard and mouse, and in general, it just looks strange. Fortunately, I'll be able to know for myself next week -- I've already got an appointment to check out the controller (and how it plays WoW) at E3 next week.
But in the meantime, until I can get my firsthand impressions of the Falcon up here, what are some other strange controllers that actually do work with WoW? We've heard a lot about the Zboard, which seems like a pretty good combination of a keyboard and a custom controller for Blizzard's MMO -- anyone used it? A lot of people have posted before that they use the Logitech G15, and that's really just a keyboard, except for the extra display and macros. I've used Switchblade to play with an Xbox 360 controller (and found it not nearly as easy as playing with a mouse and keyboard). And I know some players, multiboxers usually, will even use foot pedals to supplement keyboard and certain macros.
Ever played WoW with a weird controller? Is there something out there that you swear by that's not the standard mouse and keyboard? Me, I'm perfectly happy with an Apple Keyboard and my Logitech gaming mouse -- at least until I try the Falcon next week. You never know, maybe I'll fall in love with it and decide that $190 (!) is worth it.
Update: I couldn't remember the name of this one, but a lot of people in the comments (and a lot of folks before this post) have mentioned the n52 Speedpad as a good controller option.
The Ruin Battlegroup of the European servers will be getting a new English language PvE server named Blade's Edge, Thundgot has announced.
It will be a completely new realm, which means no transfers allowed for the first few months. In addition, the Ahn'Qiraj gates will be closed -- which means this is your chance to get a group over there and start powerleveling toward the Qiraji battle tank and the Scarab Lord title. Apparently, some people have been complaining about queue times in the Ruin battlegroup for some time, so hopefully this should ease those problems once people get on and start leveling.
The server will open today at 17:00 Paris time. Good luck to everyone who decides to reroll there!
Update:Strike that, it looks like they decided to let the it go live right after maintenance. Thanks for the heads up, Roelof.
Of course, the Oceanic realms still have their individual forums and this has caused some confusion among the forum posters regarding why the forums were established. And it wouldn't be forums without trolls.
I, for one, see the value of a forum for Oceanic players to discuss their specific issues and to be able to find players in similar situations without searching the U.S. forums and without being limited to specific servers.
If you are an Oceanic player, please take our poll:
In my humble opinion the refreshment table is pretty neat idea. A Mage spend two Arcane Powders and starts casting the ritual, then two others join in.Viola!A buffet of yummy, health-and-mana-regenerating, Manna Biscuit goodness appears before your raid. The table sticks around for five minutes or however long it takes to deplete its fifty stacks of food. This is probably one of Blizzard's best additions.
In it's own way, the Ritual of Refreshment is also kind of a curse for Mages.True- the reagents cost a total seventeen silver at the vendor, that's not hard to swallow.Keylogger of Stormscale is annoyed by requests for tables.She pointed out that anyone with a friendly level of reputation with the Shattered Sun Offensive can purchase Naaru Rations, no badgering required.Other posters agreed that it's not the process of casting that's at issue, but the sense of entitlement from other folks about a table.
There's a disturbing trend happening on the forums lately -- all the great drama threads are getting deleted. It's not like it's not out there -- this week's GW, as usual, is full of good drama, and the truth is that drama threads on guild forums are better anyway. But it seems like every time a tipster kindly sends us a link to an official forum thread, it's mysteriously disappeared? Could someone at Blizzard... not want us to make fun of drama? We'll keep an eye on it.
Until we figure that out, keep sending us the tips, whether they be about drama, downed news for your guild or others, or recruiting notices for up-and-coming raiding groups. The place to send it all is firstname.lastname@example.org, and clicking the link below will show you just what we heard about from the realms this week.
A little while back, we checked out a Facebook app to show your WoW characters in your profiles, and just this week, reader Orangelick asked for an update to the other app we linked to, called I Play WoW. Previously, I couldn't get it working, but I gave it another try, and as you can see above, it works just fine. In fact, it's pretty customizable, even moreso than what I implemented above -- you can upload a picture for your character, and even give status and description updates for every character on the roster.
If you're looking for some WoW representation on Facebook, it'll do you right. The only real complaint I have is that it doesn't by default show off any armor or stats that you have (the other app, WoW Armory, does, and here's another app that's even flashier if you want to go that way), but then again, how many of your Facebook friends really want to follow your characters that closely? And there's a quick link to the Armory page for those who do. All in all, nice app, and the perfect way to show a little WoW pride on Facebook.
3D touch interface for WoW due later this year - Tue, 08 Jul 2008 20:00:00 EST Keyboards, mice, and hand-controllers are so 2007. Get with the modern times, willya? Today we discovered that a 3D touch interface is on the horizon for WoW gamers. Using this weird robot-type gizmo, you'll be able to actually feel everything your character does in the game: casting spells, reeling from enemy attacks, feeling objects, bumping into things, and whacking ogres on the head! (I seriously want to bonk some ogres on the head with this thing. I expect it will feel somewhat hollow, like smacking a pumpkin.)
The gizmo is called a Falcon game controller and it aims to replace your mouse or joystick. The Falcon is already usable with some other games, but Novint Technologies is now creating WoW drivers for the device using the LUA scripting system. You can map up to 36 actions to it for which the controller will provide feedback that you can feel in your hand and arm. You can watch a demo on the company's website, or a more hands-on demo in the video below. When the drivers are released, you can download them at Novint's website. We'll keep you up to date so you'll know when you can grab them. The Falcon controller sells for $189.99 on Novint's website. No word on what the drivers will cost, if anything.