Reader Nick writes in with a question we've been planning to tackle here at WoW Rookie for a while now: "Hey, I'm semi-new to the game, but I don't understand what a 'tier' is. My bro has a level 80 Blood Elf Hunter, and he's always saying 'Oh, he has Tier 5; I got Tier 8.' What does that mean?"
The answer to all this math is nothing more complex than the progression of class-specific armor sets. (Oh, and tell your brother he can't possibly have T8 on the live servers yet -- that's going to drop in Ulduar.) Over the course of the game, Blizzard has introduced three-, five- and eight-piece armor sets for each class. These are the so-called "Tier #" or "T#" sets that you hear so much about, all obtained by raiding. Distinguishing between the sets grew confusing as new dungeons, raids and expansions were added, so players began referring to these armor sets in numerical order.
We haven't heard much from the folks at You Play or We Pay lately, but maybe that's a good thing for them -- after all the noise from their initial launch, it seems like things have calmed down over there. They're giving out "Compensation Credits," it looks like they've started running a few ads, and it seems like they've finally settled on a model that works for everyone -- both the founders of the site and the people who sign up for compensation. While we heard the first month of slots filled up pretty fast, the second month seems to be going a little slower -- they've still got about half the slots for March still available as of this writing. But as you can see from the picture, they're promising some real items in exchange for those Compensation Credits. With 150 slots in March and about 100 credits given out last month, you may be waiting over a year to save up the credits to buy a 30-day game card, but the site is working the way they planned: you can sign up for free and eventually get something back for your realm's downtime.
And they're planning on expanding soon -- the site reports that by the 15th of March, English EU players will be able to sign up for compensation on their realms' downtime as well. This site caused a lot of controversy when it first opened up, but we have to give it to them: it looks like they've worked out a way to do what they want to do.
Intrepid 3.1PTR reporter Michael Sacco here, reporting for duty and giving you the skinny on all that Ulduar has to offer you. The developers have allowed players into Ulduar to test some encounters, usually one at a time, and they've been steadily gathering feedback each night. Prior to this engagement, the boss that was up was Flame Leviathan, but we've seen him a few times already. I was ready for something new.
Flame Leviathan may give me guns, but I want to go to the gun show. What do you say, Blizzard? How about you give me a boss who exercises his right to bear arms?
Business Insider (no relation) is reporting that Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin is intending to sue anyone who will not license their virtual worlds product through him, and since Kidrin claims they hold the patent to virtual worlds, everyone has to get a license. Since this is a legal issue I'll lay this out in a few easy to read steps:
Thom calls up Blizzard, Linden Lab, etc...
Thom says "Hey, I invented virtual worlds! Pay me money since you're making money off the concept."
Blizzard and Linden Lab laugh and hang up, assuming it's a prank call.
How did Worlds.com wind up with the patent to the idea of a scalable virtual world with thousands of users? Kidrin has said that they invented the virtual worlds with a product for sick kids called Starbright World back in 1997. (Though apparently the concept was thought up back in 1995.)
However, let's take a look at the definition of Cyberspace. It was first used in William Gibson's 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and again used in a few of his books, with "Neuromancer" being the most popular. Gibson's definition for Cyberspace reads:
Players interested in participating simply have to pony up $20 or €15 for a shot at winning prizes totalling $200,000. All ranked matches now count towards the qualifiers, and the players belonging to the Top 1000 teams will receive the title of 'Vanquisher' on all their characters Level 71 and above on the live realms. Players who don't crack the upper echelons of Arena rankings can still get the lovable armored murloc pet by playing 200 matches. The matches must be played on the same character and with the same team charter.
Blizzard has also opened up Arena Tournament forums for US realms and EU realms, which players can use to recruit for teams, discuss strategies or ask for advice, and generally keep up-to-date on the latest goings-on in the Tournament Realms. Of course, if you want a good shot at winning, it might help to take some pointers from Korea's H O N, who played RMP to a completely different level, taking home $30,000 at the recently concluded ESL Arena Tournament.
3D Armory offers a round of new improvements - Wed, 11 Mar 2009 16:00:00 EST We linked to 3D Armorya little while ago, and as Eliah says, it does what it says it'll do: provides a picture of your character as they are in the Armory in 3D. The site's founder recently emailed us about a few improvements, and as you can see over there, there's lots of new additions. All the different regions are now reachable, and while there was an issue with special characters in the realm name, it's been fixed, so you can get any character that's online into the 3D viewer. They've added character customization, so you can make sure that the model in the picture matches your model in game. Screenshots can now be taken, and even uploaded to Facebook through their Facebook app.
And there are some inter-character features as well: you can now comment on character profiles, which might be a good or a bad thing -- you could mark a good player or maybe label a ninja (though we're not sure what kind of moderation there is for that. And finally they've created something called the PuGchecker, which lets you quickly and easily enter character names and see what raid achievements those characters have earned (so if someone says they've been to OS before, you can make sure it's true). And they've even got an ingame macro you can use to run the script from directly in the game.
The rate of development over there is pretty impressive, and the site has definitely grown into much more than just your average Armory substitute. At some point you wonder just how many of the features are necessary (if you ever want to see your character in 3D, you can pretty much just log into the game), but they're definitely getting creative.
We dropped the ball a little bit by failing to post about this week's Ulduar testing schedule yesterday when Daelo posted it to the official forums, but that's alright. We didn't miss much. Last night was just more Hodir testing. The rest of the week should prove more interesting, because they're re-testing a couple of bosses that were pretty widely considered much too easy, like Ignis the Furnace Master, which I hear received a little extra testing last night for some reason. Again, both the US and EU realms are getting their own testing schedule.
North American realms:
Wednesday, 3/11 (today), 4 PM PDT: Mimiron
Thursday, 3/12, 4 PM PDT: Ignis the Furnace Master
Friday, 3/13, 4 PM PDT: XT-002 Deconstructor
Saturday, 3/14, 4PM PDT: Kologarn
Sunday, 3/15, 11 AM PDT: Flame Leviathan
Wednesday, 3/11, 19:00 CET: Auriaya
Thursday, 3/12, 19:00 CET: Mimiron
Friday, 3/13, 19:00 CET: Thorim
Saturday, 3/14, 19:00 CET: General Vezax
Sunday, 3/15, 19:00 CET: Flame Leviathan
I don't believe we've seen anything about Auriaya yet, so that's what I'm looking forward to the most. We haven't seen much of Mimiron either, but we already know he's just another mechagnome. Gotta say, not a fan of the mechagnomes.
The reasoning? Eyonix says that Blizzard feels that Pallies and Shamans brought too many unique buffs to a group, and that this change was designed to pull in an either/or choice: either Pallies can hit up Blessing of Wisdom, and Shaman can go with Healing Stream (which isn't, apparently, being combined with the Mana Spring totem as we first heard) or do some cleansing with their Water totem slot, or Shaman can use the raid-wide Mana Spring, leaving Paladins open to use Blessing of Kings.
Which makes a strange kind of sense, even though lots of Pallies and Shammies will likely be disappointed to hear of one less unique buff they can bring to a raid. There is one hidden benefit here, however: since raids were previously recieving both benefits together (and now can only get one or the other), we can probably look forward to a buff for at least one (since the Totem suffers the weakness of not being portable, you'd expect it to have some extra ability) or both.
Chinese release of Wrath of the Lich King still delayed - Wed, 11 Mar 2009 14:00:00 EST Around early February, it was reported that Wrath of the Lich King's Chinese release had been delayed. It was suspected that the launch was postponed until after the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) which occurred in the first week of March, but things are starting to look a little bleak.
There are rumors abounds that Blizzard and The9 are having something of a falling out, but it's being reported that things are going much more poorly on The9's end. Specifically, they've hit some trouble with the censorship board. You might recall that China has some very, very strict rules when it comes to things like video games and movies. Many of the models in the base World of Warcraft game needed to be altered to conform to these rules, such as the exposed bones on the Forsaken and the bones left behind when a player dies.
The ESL global arena finals took place last weekend, pitting some of the best WoW players against each other in a battle for glory (and quite a bit of cash and prizes). After two days of close calls and amazing comebacks, the global roster of teams was reduced to two: team HON and team COM. Both of these teams play the traditional Rogue / Mage / Priest 3v3 composition, with one twist: nobody played with the same talents two games in a row.
The Mages fluctuated between Frost and Arcane specs every other game, making it difficult to predict just how much survivability or burst damage they were capable of until they showed their hand. The Rogues were also switching specs between games, from Mutilate to Shadow Dance, and back. This strategy was used to keep the enemy on their toes, and gave me the opportunity to watch Shadow Dance played at its absolute highest level. My report on this display of elegance and Ambush-spamming follows after the cut.
I've been looking forward to this one for quite some time. Firebolt Productions has released the promotional trailer for their upcoming film, Unbroken. It is a movie about a group of Draenei refugees hiding from the barbarous Orc invaders. While I know the Orcs were the original inhabitants of Draenor, I can't wait to see how the rich tapestry of lore is going to play out in the movie.
It's nothing short of legendary to see the cast of folks involved in "Unbroken." Selserene, the Hackleman brothers, and Matt Greenberg, just to name a few. With this kind of talent all operating under one roof, I have to expect greatness from the movie.
The preview trailer is gorgeous. The opening lines in the voiceover promise a heartrending story. The animation is just beautiful. The landscapes of Outland reveal an alien but thriving world. The brief character shots and profiles all look like Firebolt spent an immense effort to choose the best models possible for their actors.
It's a trailer, so it's hard to say how compelling the final dialogue will be. But everything about this trailer tells me Unbroken is going to be awesome.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com. Previously on Moviewatch ..
Just a reminder -- the WoW Insider Show is not going live on Saturday this week, but will go live this evening at 9pm Eastern over on our Ustream page. We're recording the show at a special time, so that people who normally can't tune in on Saturday afternoons can get a chance to chat with us live (and even if you can't make it, don't worry -- this show will be out on the iTunes feed as normal, so everyone can hear it).
It all starts tonight at 9pm Eastern over on our Ustream page or in the embedded stream after the jump (and as usual, I'll be on a little bit before for a preshow and we'll be around a little bit afterwards for the aftershow). See you then.
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. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.
Good morning, ladies and gents! Or afternoon for some of you. Probably evening for a few others! It's morning for me, though. That's all that matters, isn't it? Indeed. Adam is out of the office today thanks to a blizzard murdering his internet connection, so I'll be covering for him even though today is technically his turn to do The Queue. Lazy such-and-such, letting weather get in his way. Grumble. Ian R. asked... Do you think the first couple of bosses in Ulduar can be PUG'd on easy mode? Like Sartharion and Vault of Archavon?
Hey! Stop hanging your head out of the sidecar like that. It's dangerous. If your horns hook on a gazelle or something, it's going to tear your head clear off, and I am not going to waste my mana rezzing you. And if we crash because of your shenanigans, I'm charging you for repairs to the bike. Those engineers do not work for cheap. I mean it. Stop it right now, or I'm going to turn this bike around. You have until the count of three. That's it! We're going straight back to Mulgore, young man. You'll have to run to Orgrimmar like everyone else.
(Thanks to Ayumeria of Norgannon, who welcomed her friend Chimal back to the game with a celebratory mechano-hog ride.)
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Bornakk announced over at the forums that Arena Season 5 is nearing its end. He notes that the current season is slated to end "with or shortly after"Patch 3.1 is released. Season 5 kicked off in December 16 last year and has run around 12 weeks to date. In comparison, the shortest Arena Season was the pre-Wrath Season 4, which lasted for 17 weeks while the extremely lengthy Season 3 dragged on for 29. Season 1 lasted for 20 weeks and Season 2 lasted for 23, so all seasons thus far except for the Wrath-preempted Season 4 have run for a good length of time.
The reason for the extended Season 3 was because Blizzard had wanted PvP progression to match PvE progression, so were waiting for more guilds to gear up with Sunwell-level items. Considering how difficult Sunwell Plateau was, this took some time, delaying Season 4 considerably. PvE content in Wrath, on the other hand, was so accessible that by the time Season 5 started a month after release of the expansion, players were decked out in the best PvE gear -- which changed the balance of Arena play for the first few weeks.
Blizzard is looking to address that by starting Season 6 simultaneously with the "first tier of raid content" or essentially make PvP gear more accessible to prepare for the next season of Arena play, according to Ghostcrawler. Although Blizzard hasn't given a starting date for either Season 6 or Patch 3.1, the new Arena seasons are looking to match the shortened Season 4 in length and might indicate a trend in PvP season progression. That is an exciting change of pace and a comforting message to PvP enthusiasts that Blizzard is committed to keeping PvE and PvP progression at a similar pace. And if the development of Ulduar is any indication, that seems to be a fast one.
I picked up an interesting gray item in Wintergrasp the other day -- the Broken U.L.O.S.E. Button. Players who've played Alterac Valley will recognize it as the answer to the zone's gray drop, the Broken I.W.I.N. button. Even the flavor text complimented each other and added more whimsy to the already humorous items. One of the most memorable junk items from The Burning Crusade was The Stoppable Force, a parody of another Alterac Valley item, the epic Unstoppable Force.
My wife enjoys fishing not just for the relaxing aspect but definitely for the profit. Take, for example, the Goldenscale Vendorfish. The name speaks for itself, as this piece of inedible junk sells for 6 Gold. That's still not her favorite gray item, though. The Broken Engine Part is another thing that anglers can get from fishing, and sells for 10 Gold. Not bad, huh? In Patch 3.1, though, Blizzard ups the ante with Porcelain Bell, a gray item that comes randomly from the Bag of Fishing Treasures. Lucky fishermen can sell this junk item for a pocket-fattening 100 Gold!
Of course, Wrath of the Lich King introuduced us to a plethora of fountain coins, a lot of which are gray items. Among other things, I think Blizzard does an excellent job of infusing flavor into the game with junk items. There are over a thousand gray items that it's kind of difficult to pick just one. From puns like A Frayed Knot to lore-infused junk like the Dalaran coins to plain silly stuff like the Romance Novel series, there's just a lot of cool things going on with grays. What are your favorite or most memorable grays?
We don't really know how or why you would make an intro movie for a raiding guild, but there you go. That's the intro for Goon of Kil'jaeden, who are apparently currently working on Sarth 3D. I like the music, although as a trailer, it doesn't really work that well. Exactly what is coming soon?
Looking for your fix of guild drama, downed and recruiting news for the week? It's right here in GW. If you've got a tip about any guild from around the realms, feel free to send it in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (we've got tons of tips coming in lately, so if you don't see your guild here this week, it'll probably be in next week). Click the link below to read on.
I may prefer Shadow as my Priest's primary spec, but the Discipline tree has also made a special little place for itself in my heart. When I need a change of pace, playing Discipline is really enjoyable. I probably pay attention to changes to the Discipline tree almost as close as the Shadow tree for that reason. Even if I don't play it a lot, I love it. When they announced a new spell coming for the spec, Power Word: Barrier, I geeked out over it just as much as Matticus, our resident Discipline Fanatic.
Unfortunately, Power Word: Barrier has yet to make an appearance on the PTR, and it turns out that we may not see it at all. It's still a possibility, but that's the extent of it. I can sort of see why they would hold off on it, or even change their mind about it. Discipline has gone through a lot of changes in patch 3.1, most of it a really big numbers game. Discipline is a great tree, and while most players might not 'get' the damage mitigation/prevention thing, it's a really powerful mechanic and probably one they need to be careful with.
MMO-Champion's updated Tier 8 preview - Tue, 10 Mar 2009 19:00:00 EST MMO-Champion put up an update for its Tier 8 listings today, including some high res screenshots showing off the high res skins, and a video of all of the sets. Most of this is stuff that we've seen before, but some of it is new. New and wonderful. I'm really not a fan of the Paladin set this time around, but there also seems to be a robe version which I like much better. It's still pretty awful on Females, though. Again, I ask, why in the world did they bring midriff back on tier sets? Leave that to the greens and blues!
We've also started to see stats for some of these sets on the PTR, but not many. A lot of the raid items that are becoming available on the PTR haven't actually had their stats adjusted from the Tier 7 items they were copy-pasted from. In this case, the Warrior set that we've seen is from Ulduar-10 and shares stats with gear from Naxxramas-25. That might actually be a pretty accurate indicator of what it will be on live, with maybe a little extra tweaking upwards to make the 10-man still useful for people who did Naxx-25 previously.
15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
Playing WoW is an exercise in organization. You need to organize your bank, you bags, your gear, even your talents. You need to plan which dailies you need today, which factions you're grinding and where you need to farm for what. Oh, and don't forget to check your banker and update your auctions.
Legend of the Alliance from Eonar-EU has ridden methodical organization from scratch to the top of the PvE game. The two-year-old guild has climbed from a chatty, rag-tag gaggle of newbies to a lean raiding organization thanks to careful planning and guidance. We visited with GM Loverose about the guild's history, its custom web site functionality, and the mature, methodical leadership that has steered its course.