I've been having fun with Wowhead's new Wrath of the Lich Kingtalent calculators lately. Since I couldn't fiddle around with my favorite class' talents just yet, I decided to play with the Death Knight talent trees. Although I have yet to actually playtest the class (keeping my fingers crossed for that elusive Beta key...), studying the new talents and spells made it apparent to me that Blizzard was now working on a completely different level. The class design is so bold, fresh, and completely unlike any class we've seen before.
With each patch and expansion, Blizzard has demonstrated a keen sense of learning. One of the things I truly enjoy about their talks, such as the panels during the Worldwide Invitational event in Paris, France last month, is when they illustrate their learnings and what they've come up with in response. For the most part, each iteration of their designs is progressively better than the last. Take World PvP, for example. Their first attempts were silly and laughable, such as the sandlol in Silithus. In Outlands, however, they implemented several World PvP objectives that were more successful, particularly Halaa and the Bone Wastes. In Blizzcon 2007, they talked about the things they learned so far, which make me truly excited for Lake Wintergrasp.
The Death Knight is another matter altogether. It's a new class. With the Burning Crusade, Blizzard simply added new races, which wasn't too difficult to balance. With the coming expansion, they've designed a class from the ground up -- and from what I can see so far, they've broken the mold and created something that doesn't quite follow the conventions we're become accustomed to. If anything, the Death Knight is a shock to the system. Looking through the talents and spells, a few key design points stood out for me.
I still remember hitting 40 on each of my shamans. In each of their cases I'd been running Scarlet Monastery non-stop collecting the mail pieces that dropped off of each of the bosses, and I'd managed to acquire the helmet, shoulder, legs and chestplate before I dinged on my draenei. (I didn't do as well on my orc, I only got the helmet.) When I hit 40 and trained to wear mail, I was ecstatic. No more leather, I swore then and there. No more rogue squishiness without rogue stealth! I went forth to level through the 40's and 50's thrilled with my new gear (I wore that shoulder for a very long time, at least into the mid 50's) and eager to sing the praises of mail. Sure, it's not plate, but it's the second highest armor available, and if you're a shaman you can even equip a shield and get even more armor if you're a healer or ranged DPS, making you even less squishy in those roles.
In short, I love mail for my shaman, and my other shaman. I don't like wearing cloth, or leather armor for elemental or enhancement. (In fact, I really don't recommend wearing cloth for enhancement.) Sometimes, however, you will end up stepping down your gear to leather or even cloth for a variety of reasons. Before we attempt to work up a comprehensive 'this is the leather/cloth gear you want for this role' post, let's discuss the reasons you may find yourself turning to those kinds of armor over mail.
LA Times covers the WoW community - Thu, 10 Jul 2008 16:30:00 EST Wait, what's this? A mainstream media story that actually -- gasp -- shows the world that playing MMO games together can actually be fun and healthy for relationships? Thrall be praised, apparently someone at the LA Times gets it. Yup, Brad and Cynthia Murdock, like millions of other players of this game, play the game together and have a great time doing it. Of course, near the end of the article, they get back to Mike Akers, a "self-described recluse" who plays against his wife's wishes and once made her wait for 10 minutes while in labor so he could defeat an "end boss," but we guess we can look past that -- the headline is about people playing the game in a healthy way, and we need more stories like that. since there are a lot more players like that.
Blizzard's Frank Pearce also shows up in the story, and admits that Mages could use a higher damage output at endgame. No, we're just kidding, this is a story meant for non-players, so he just says that the game has a "huge social element," and a giant community that supports everyone who logs in. That's you guys! Take a bow!
And not even the LA Times can get Blizzard to give us a Wrath release date -- they try, but Pearce waves them off with an understatement: "We typically try to avoid launch windows." Blizzard? Avoiding release dates? Sounds about right.
Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? E-mail us!
Know Your Lore has covered the benevolent dragons in Warcraft before, but I've decided to highlight a few of them in preparation for Wrath of the Lich King. I feel that saving the best for last is a bunch of crap, so I'm going to start with my personal favorite: Alexstrasza. Admittedly, it isn't terribly hard for her to seal that favorite slot right now. Deathwing and Alexstrasza are the only two Aspects we've been exposed to in a very direct way for a substantial amount of time. To make things even better, she's a headlining character in Wrath.
Alexstrasza is one of five Dragon Aspects chosen and empowered by the Titans prior to their departure from Azeroth. Each of the Aspects was given a domain that they would protect, and have the power to control. Alexstrasza's domain is perhaps the most broad: Life. While all of the Aspects are interconnected and have some sway over one another, Alexstrasza is perhaps the most connected to the others because of her connection to life. Many use this to say she is the 'leader' of the Aspects, but as far as we know, they don't really have one. At least, not until Wrath. Maybe.
I hope everyone who celebrated this weekend had a save and fun filled holiday.
This comic strip was actually brought about by a comment I saw made by a Blue, which one I can't recall as I read the thread it was made in two weeks ago and bookmarked the wrong one. The comment was more or less along the lines of if you want a good thing, don't rush it, and was made in response to people demanding new BGs.
The comic is a result of my being laid up with some sort of crazy bug all last week, and certain medications making me hallucinate. Fun, really, if it weren't for the fact I kept waking up thinking my scanner was talking to me.
Barrens Chat is a weekly installment of comic insanity from around Azeroth. Barrens Chat is not edible, and swallowing may cause delirium in small children and the elderly. Barrens Chat is not intended to be used as a flotation device, so please use caution around water. If you are feeling like licking your Draenei friend might be a good idea, I'd suggest against it. Instead, come back next week for another comic.
So you're finally 70. Welcome to the select order of masochistic players who endured the tedious grind (or, if you leveled as Protection, the happy AoE grind) to max level with a class sometimes considered to be a WoW developer's afterthought. The Paladin class, popular as it is, has traditionally had a slow development cycle. That said, one can choose to see it as a blessing (pardon the pun) rather than a curse, in the hopes that developers will build Paladin talents adaptively and from the lessons provided by other classes. Don't hold your breath.
Anyway, so you're Level 70. You're now ready to enter Karazhan. Well, ok, not really. Right about now is when you should be gearing up for Karazhan, The Burning Crusade's entry level and most popular raid instance. With the removal of the attunement process in Patch 2.4, you won't even need to have The Master's Key, but you'll need to have a friend who can open the gate for you. More than a few Holy Paladins will have an easy time getting into a group for Karazhan because let's face it, everybody loves a healer. Then there are the Paladin tanks who'll get that loving invite to visit Deadwind Pass because, again, everybody loves a tank. But you, the vindictive 2-hander-wielding, Judgement-spamming, Crusader Striking champion of truth and justice... well, nobody loves you.
Zarhym: Wrath changes are still coming - Thu, 10 Jul 2008 14:00:00 EST Just in case, like Jaguarpaw, you thought that the little we heard about Mages in Wrath of the Lich King at WWI was all they were going to get, worry not: changes, believe it or not, are still coming. Zarhym says it, but did he really have to? We haven't heard the end of all the changes in Wrath -- not from the alpha, not from the upcoming beta, and odds are that we won't even have found everything in the expansion when it actually releases. That was certainly the case with Burning Crusade, and it will undoubtedly be the case with Wrath.
Unfortunately, that doesn't actually mean that all of your concerns will be answered -- Blizzard has promised, specifically for Mages, to make these same changes before, and the changes haven't been made to players' satisfaction. And players, as I know because I happen to be one myself, are picky people -- even if Blizzard fixes everything, we'll still find something to complain about. But don't write off Wrath just because you were disappointed by what you heard at WWI -- we've only seen the earliest of previews so far.
And just in case you missed it yesterday, Wowhead decided to go ahead and release all of the talents for all of the classes they could see in the alpha, including all of the new talents for Mages. This is far from the last we'll hear about Wrath, but that info, official or otherwise, should tide you over until the next round of releases.
Well Fed Buff: Soft Banana Bread - Thu, 10 Jul 2008 13:00:00 EST Well Fed Buff serves up tasty dishes to boost your HP, stats and appetite - with that special WoW twist, of course.
I don't have a fancy introduction for this week's recipe -- I'm just doing it. That's by direct order, in fact, after my daughter got a look at the page I was pondering from our well-worn file of favorite recipes: "Banana bread - Mommy, that is in World of Warcraft! DO it!"
She has a point. We eat this stuff up, in game and out. And while it may not be as sexy as stat food, its wholesome goodness patches a player's hp right up for the next challenge - all via an easily trainable recipe with no rare mats required.
In 1997, a little game called Fallout was released. Since then, millions of boys grew up searching for another game to take its place. Some of them, including Gnomechewer, ended up in World of Warcraft, machinimating their adventures.
As I've previously stated, Anduin Lothar is one of the few Alliance heroes I can really get behind. In this pic, taken by Dingomir of <Ramen> on Shattered Hand, Lothar's statue appears to be picking up where the fallen hero left off -- he's leading a charge into Blackrock Mountain. Astute loremasters will know that Lothar was the first guy to be ganked by a rogue in BRM. Now his statue sits in the middle of the Burning Steppes and aggravates the local orcs, who prefer ragged tents and spiky buildings to marble statues.
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. We prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. And sorry, Malfurion "Too Good For WoW" Stormrage is not cooler than Lothar.
Manaprincess has a new store, and to celebrate, WoW Insider is giving away some of her stuff! One lucky winner will get a Manaprincess gift pack, which consists of a Hearthstone key ring and cell phone charm, as well as one each of the Health and Mana potion pendants, as seen above. Usually, a pack like this would set you back $45 (though don't forget, from now until August 31st, you can get 25% off your order with the code "wowinsider"), but thanks to Manaprincess, we're giving one away free.
To enter, all you've got to do is put a comment on this post. You can say whatever you want, but just for fun, we'll have you answer the question: What would you use a Health or Mana potion for in real life? You can enter only once, and make sure you use a real email address, one that you check often (because we'll be emailing the winner to get the necessary info). On Friday, July 11th, at 11:59pm Eastern time, we'll close the comments and choose one commenter randomly to win the gift pack from Manaprincess, valued at $45.
As always, you've got to follow all the rules (you can click here for complete official rules) -- only people 18+ years of age and living in the US or Canada are eligible to win, and you can enter only once. Good luck!
As much as I love instances, I've already run them so much, and I worry that most of my five hours would be taken up with trying to find a group, so I'd probably quest solo (assuming the servers would actually stay up). My Hunter, at 65, would probably too far behind to finish off at 70, so I'd probably do a mad dash for 70 on my Rogue, currently 68. And I'd end the world just as I dinged the highest level on my second 70, which I would consider a proud accomplishment. What would you do with your last five hours in Azeroth?
Bornakk announced last night that selected US PvP realms will be given free character moves starting at Noon pacific time today, July 10th, and ending on July 17th. As always, Blizzard does reserve the right to close transfers early once their quotas are met, so be sure to get your transfer request in as early as possible if you plan to move. Once the transfers are open, you can visit the character move page to request a transfer.
The realm transfers are as follows:
Characters from the Barthilas and Frostmourne realms may move to the Dreadmaul realm.
Characters from the Illidan, Mal'ganis, and Warsong realms may move to the Zuluhed realm.
Since its inception World of Warcraft has been an evolving game.Someone who played only shortly after release would hardly recognize the game now.Blizzard has always welcomed feedback, but some changes have elicited more feedback than others.In a thread entitled "Epic moments in WoW QQ history," Gatsukaa chronicled some of the most upsetting events that have occurred in the evolution of our game:
Moment 1: WoW is first released. Hunter and warlock pets could be one-shot. Hunter dps was pretty lackluster. Soulstones gave you rez sickness (I think). No soulshards from PvP. The first emo whiners in WoW were born: Hunters and Warlocks. World of Roguecraft video is released showing how a rogue in crap gear could wtfpwn people while warlocks were so gimp. Result is that warlocks went on to get buffed in nearly every patch as they were on their way to god-hood. No more world of roguecraft videos. Hunters saw substantial improvements as well, but weren't made into demigods.
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.