As Adam pointed out earlier this afternoon, the changes for patch 2.4 are starting to be less and less dramatic, which may indicate that the patch is nearing completion. Here's another such indication: parts of the patch (251 MB for me) are now being sent out to the background downloader. This means that some of the patch data is finalized, and we can get those parts of the patch now instead of having to get everything on patch day.
Note that the patch is not, in fact, being released today, or even necessarily next week. But I would bet that it won't be more than a few weeks until the Sunwell is upon us. And when the patch does drop, someone's going to win fabulous prizes! More importantly, I'll have some new dailies to do. Hurry it up, Blizz (but don't release it before it's ready, of course).
Edit: Patch 2.3 was on the background downloader for 12 days before it was released, and 2.1 was 11 days. But 2.2 was on for over a month, so it's hard to predict for sure how this will go.
A petition for penguins in WotLK - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 18:00:00 EST As you may have heard, there is a serious issue awaiting us in the next expansion. Blizzard has kept us in the dark for a while, but after careful consideration, we at WoW Insider believe it's time to throw our considerable weight (we are, after all, one of the top 50 most influential blogs in the world, with all of the benefits and perks contained therein) behind what the players have asked for, time and time and time again.
Yes, we're making our stance official: there definitely need to, in some way, shape or form, be penguins in Northrend. Not only would it obviously win us the Linux vote, but consider the facts: penguins are birds, they don't fly, and penguins lay eggs. Of course, there is one problem: Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are only found in Antarctic regions, which means there aren't any in the Northern parts of the world (which, in Azeroth, is right where the aptly named Northrend is). But then again, this is a world where dragons can turn into women and people can shoot fire out of their fingertips -- surely, Blizzard can stretch the science just so we can have some cute little formally-dressed birds up there.
So while petitions are banned on the forums, we here at WoW Insider know the power that you, our readers, carry, and we want you to add your voice to ours. Sign the comments section below if you agree: when the Alliance and the Horde hit the shores of Northrend, we of course want to see Arthas, and we'd like to have Death Knights, and we want a floating Dalaran and Tuskarr (yes, with a bukkit quest) and Forsaken architecture. But everyone who leaves a comment on this post, Blizzard, wants, almost more than all of that other stuff, just one thing in Northrend: penguins.
Choosing pets on the TTR - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 18:00:00 EST Mania has an interesting post about all the different pets available to Hunters on the Arena tournament realm (which, by the way, our own Arena team is making an appearance in this evening, along with some folks from some "Blizzard" company -- they're probably posers). The strange thing is not that Blizzard is offering pets to Hunters, but that they're only offering some pet families. So if you want to duck into the tournament with a tallstrider or a gorilla or turtle at your side, you just don't have the option.
Interesting. Some of the choices Blizzard made are pretty obvious -- for high end Arena play, a crab probably isn't going to do much for you. But Mania's big problem is with Blizzard including the spider family, and excluding the gorilla -- spiders don't bring too much extra to the table, but gorillas bring Thunderstomp, an AoE damage effect that isn't necessarily overpowered, but can help in some cases. There may be other factors at play here -- 15 sounds like a round number that Blizzard may have had to adhere to, so maybe that's why the others aren't included.
And if nothing else, as Mania says, making these choices might encourage Blizzard to look at some of the weaker families and beef them up a bit, either for endgame or PvP. And all Hunters, no matter what pet they choose, will probably appreciate that.
Every Wednesday, Elizabeth Wachowski or Chris Jahosky write Encrypted Text, a look into the shadowy world of rogues.
Last time, when I discussed raiding on your rogue, I talked about the differences between the 3 talent trees as they relate to raiding, and the Hit cap. A couple of people made comments that basically say there is no magic number for Hit rating that you need to be at, and this is true. I'm not advocating stacking hit at the expense of all your other stats. There should be a balance, and you don't want to gimp yourself in other areas just to stack Hit rating.
Today, one of the things I'm talking about is the Expertise cap, which should be viewed in a similar light -- the information is there so that you can make good decisions regarding your gear. Don't just run out and start stacking Hit and Expertise and leave your other stats to twist in the wind.
It's been almost a month since the last installment of Tales, and I'm very sorry for the delay. About a month ago, my old computer died, taking a good chunk of the comic with it. I've since recovered, and I have a new computer, so Tales will resume it's normal Wednesday updates. As a peace offering, I've made a new wallpaper based on one of today's panels. It's 1920x1200, and you can find it here. Enjoy!
As for the comic, you can view today's page by clicking the image above, or browse to it from the gallery below if you need a small refresher. Looks like Kat arrived with help just in time to save Byron!
Note: When going to the gallery page, click on the HI RES button in the upper left of the screen to see a full sized version of the image.
Not only is Vista not exactly setting even high-end gamers' hearts afire, but Blizzard is traditionally about as lenient as it gets on system requirements. They did up the ante a little bit when Burning Crusade was released, and we do know that Wrath will require a little more of your computer with those shiny ice shaders (not too much more -- they may ask for more RAM or a faster than the current 800mhz processor). But as much as Microsoft would love what may again be the best selling expansion in the world to require Vista, it's just not going to happen -- Blizzard has too many subscribers here to lock a good number of them with an operating system that's not going over so well.
So ignore what your smirking friend tells you -- if you can run Burning Crusade, you'll be able to run Wrath on the same box.
He's a man of myth, legend, and internet memes -- a Paladin crusader for Truthiness, justice, and the Alliance way. His name is Stefen Colbear, and he's putting the Horde on notice. That's how it would have been anyway, but sadly, this hero never came to be. Upper Deck hired artist Todd Lockwood to produce the above image for a special WoW TCG card inspired by The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert -- a known video-gaming and role-playing enthusiast. Lockwood's finished product depicts a microphone-sword wielding Human Paladin named Stefen Colbear, who exudes the very essence of Truthiness.
Unfortunately, Colbert's agent nipped the idea in the bud. According to Lockwood, he didn't even show the artwork to his client. Blizzard and Upper Deck presumably had hoped Colbert would feature the card on his show, giving them mega-publicity. An unknown individual leaked the image onto the net a few weeks ago, and WoW and Colbert fans excitedly spread it around in both card and wallpaper forms.
I for one always enjoy looking at the new artwork Blizzard posts. Professionally done, and always a twist to it. Today there's a new piece of TCG artwork on the European site. Featuring a "hot warlock [who] is hot" (as WoW Insider's Mike Schramm put it), she's got a nasty arrow sticking out of her.
To be fair, World of Warcraft has always had its own charms -- Dwarves have always been able to fire guns, something that's not usually in traditional fantasy, and even Goblins with their zeppelins (and Gnomes with their engineering) have always added a little extra flavor to the game that goes beyond purist fantasy. But it's true -- zones like Netherstorm and even Auchindoun go a little overboard for real fantasy fans.
So hopefully, as we hear in the thread, we'll see a little more traditional fantasy setting in Wrath of the Lich King. So far, lots of things we've seen there have had a bit of a Norse trend to them, from the Frozen Tundra to the Vykrul race found in the early zones. But there's more to this expansion that we haven't seen -- Icecrown Citadel is an old-fashioned ice fortress, according to the lore, and with the movement of Dalaran and the rumors of dragons up there, we definitely have a possibility of a return to the magic and steel that made this series so popular in the first place.
A new PTR build hit the test realms today, and just in time for the second stress test that'll be getting underway later tonight. A few of the big highlights:
The Druid Cyclone spell has had the range reduced to 20 yards, from 30 yards.
The newly purchasable epic gem crafting patterns have had their prices dramatically increased. For example, the epic gem patterns used to cost 1.5g each to buy, now they're 50g each. This will make them harder for casual players to acquire.
All in all, it looks like Blizzard is winding down the changes. They seem to be targeting some very specific areas right now, and the list of changes each week is getting shorter and shorter. This might mean the patch will be going live soon. And remember, as soon as it goes live, we'll select a winner from the Patch 2.4 release date contest we held.
What? Stress Test, Part Deux Who? Blizzard CMs, GMs, Devs, and the WoW Insider Arena Team Where? Tournament Test Server When? Tonight at 5:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m, PST
Got all that? Good. Drysc announced last night Blizzard will be holding another round of stress testing on the tournament test realm. Why? Because they want more attention. I for one, am going to give it to them. In fact, WoW Insider will again have a crew on the server covering all the action. We'll all be hopping around on toons named like "Insideradam", "Insideralex", and "Insiderzach". So be sure to drop by and say hello again!
If you're lucky enough to see us, just give us a /wave or a /hug and we'll try to snap a screen shot with you for our upcoming Stress Test Part Deux gallery. We'll also be live blogging all the activity on the TTR during the event, so even if you can't make it - you can still see what's happening. Our live blog is also a really good place to check and see if the server is up or down.
Every Tuesday (and sometimes Wednesday, when dealing with broken computers), Chris Jahosky contributes Build Shop, which takes a look into one of the many talent specs available to players.
I'm sure some of you noticed that Build Shop went on an unscheduled vacation -- this was unfortunately due to the death of my old computer. My new computer is all set up and ready to go (and plays WoW better than ever), and so I'm now officially back on the scene. There was a lot of talk in the comments from last time about the RiP (Rogue in Plate) build, so this week I'm taking a look at it for those who are interested.
RiPper builds (like 17/44, the one I'm examining) are so named because their DPS potential is quite close to rogues (hence, Rogue in Plate). It's a sustained damage build, similar to a combat spec Rogue, but because of their ability to wear plate (and a shield) have more survivability and off-tank potential. They're quite capable of inflicting incredible damage, and can be especially nasty when paired with a Shaman's Windfury totem.
The Fury tree is utilized extensively for this build -- points are mostly put into Arms in order to grab Impale, which increases critical damage, but it also picks up a few nice talents for tanking and utility.
Thorvall from the Stormforge guild on the Blackhand realm created this piece. Set to on unlisted hard rockin' song, it combines in-game raid footage, Blizzard cinematics and psychedelic guitar work. I'm not sure what the intent of the video is, but for me, it's a nice look at raid encounters I'll never see.
Player Sphingx sent us this shot of the carnage her Paladin wreaked on the local crocodile population (and one cat.) Somehow after the dust settled, the corpses had arranged themselves into a neat pattern. Nice trophy shot!
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because 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. And please, no more sunsets. No, really. Ok, only if it's a sunrise in new Patch 2.4 lands. We'll take those anytime.
Blizzard explains hunter suspension - Wed, 12 Mar 2008 09:00:00 EST WoW Insider recently reported that Megatf, the highest ranked Arena Hunter and hunter community personality, was banned from the forums. Initially thought to be a permanent ban from playing World of Warcraft, Drysc explained that Megatf had violated the Forum Code of Conduct and was temporarily banned from the forums, with no impact on his ability to access WoW. The violation was also not because Megatf has posted keyloggers or gold selling sites, as earlier reported, only that the ban was erroneously categorized elsewhere. An unfortunate side effect of the ban was the subsequent deletion of all threads created by Megatf, some of which also happened to be stickied guides that the hunter community held in high regard. Drysc also explained that the deletion was part of the suspension and could not be undone, so those useful hunter guides were gone forever unless they were archived.
Timbal explains Blizzard's actions in detail and in a rare display of verbosity, proceeds to rationalize the process by which Blizzard's moderators deal with errant threads and posters. He apologizes on behalf of the company for deleting the valuable threads but also cautions players against unwarranted and ill-worded protests against "perceived class balance issues" that might be in violation of the forum rules. He also explains that the scarcity of blue, or Blizzard, responses from the forums do not necessarily indicate that players are not being heard although it often feels that way for many. This only reinforces the fact that Blizzard is extremely vigilant about forum violations and spares no one from reprimand. As always, Blizzard encourages feedback as long as it is done in a constructive manner.
In this thread over on the WoW forums, poster Davinchi of the Chogall server asks where you'll log out for the last time.
Now for me, I don't really like the question as-is. it's sort of a bit too final, you know? I expect I have quite a few years of Warcraft playing left in me. That said, the concept is sort of fun to think about in that I have to admit I sort of have ideas where my characters might retire. I've never seen my characters as completely dependent on me. Maybe I'm just too much a Roleplayer, but I can't really make a character without seeing their personality and disposition, and what they'll end up liking and disliking, and how they react to the various quests and grinds I send them on. So I have a pretty good idea, I think, of where they might end up should I ever stop playing them to move on to other characters.
There will be drama, and when there is, Guildwatch is there to ridicule and call out all parties involved. Because WoW is serious business! I've abandoned my main tank! I've abandoned my boy! I am the Third Revelation!
Whoops, got a little carried away there. Meanwhile, this week's look at guild drama, downed and recruiting from across the realms starts right after the jump. And be sure to send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org -- this column flows directly from them like so much black, slick oil.
Drysc reports that a number of realms are under investigation for performance issues and will be undergoing a scheduled maintenance at 5:00 AM PDT on Wednesday, March 12 with a foreseeable downtime of 1 hour (update: Zorayn notes that downtime will be extended to 2 hours as opposed to one). As Drysc edits the thread, realms are added (or removed) regularly. From a quick perusal of the realms, it seems as though it is the Nightfall Battlegroup that is affected. Blizzard currently lists the affected realms as follows:
Aerie Peak Altar of Storms Alterac Mountains Anvilmar Arygos Blackwing Lair Deathwing Demon Soul Doomhammer Gnomeregan Icecrown Jaedenar Kel'Thuzad Lethon Onyxia Sentinels Tanaris The Venture Co Uldaman Undermine
Drysc further notes that other Battlegroups are under close observation and will be taken down for maintenance should any issues arise that might require it.
Drysc has issued a challenge to the World of Warcraft community to meet Blizzard teams out on the Tournament Test Realm and compete in the 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 Arena brackets. This follows a relatively successful worldwide brawl over the TTR last Sunday, where WoW Insider fielded a team of its own, although most of the time was spent waiting for the realm to get back online. Blizzard reached record numbers for the TTR tournament, prompting hardware upgrades which will be put to the test on Wednesday, between 5:00pm and 8:00pm PDT.
Blizzard employees will make special appearances on the TTR near the vendors and Arena promoters, easily spotted as they will be the only characters with Guild tags -- <Blizzard Entertainment> for their Horde team and <Blizzard> for their Alliance team. If you can't spot the Guild tag, you still probably won't have trouble finding them and their gigantic mounts. Drysc says he expects problems to crop up -- it is a stress test, after all -- but that Blizzard is ready to resolve any issues that might arise.
If you haven't gotten onto the TTR, now's a good time to download the PTR client and make your own pimped out Level 70 characters. The more players log on to the TTR during the tournament, the better Blizzard will be able to test their new build and hardware. Plus, it's always good to see what crazy antics Blizzard employees will be up to.