Hi folks, it's me again. Somehow, Liz's computer got unplugged from the Light at the last minute and wiped her draft for this week clean. The task has fallen upon me once to swing the Light and wreak havoc upon these pages with blood and fury. Or something like that. In the wake of the admittedly lackluster (what, no giant GMs or gnome-transfigurations or demons run amuck?) second take on the TTR stress test, I've decided to write up the experience about making your own Paladin on the Tournament Test Realm, aka the TTRadin. If you haven't logged on to the TTR, now's a good time to download the PTR client and get yourself started. Paladin without the pain If you've never played a Paladin before, the TTR is an excellent way to experience some Paladin goodness without having to go through the entire leveling experience -- some parts of which even self-confessed altaholic and column co-writer Chris Jahosky admits to having a dislike for. Of course, leveling is part of the education process, so don't expect to know all the abilities and talents a Paladin -- or any class you make, for that matter -- right off the bat if you don't have a max-level character of that class on the live servers. That said, making a character on the TTR is well worth the effort and is definitely something any player can use to explore their options. Getting a taste of a max-level character, in our case a Paladin (this is a Paladin column, after all), is something players can learn from.
So where do we start? We have the usual racial choices: Human, Dwarf, or Draenei for the Alliance; and Blood Elf for the Horde. Because it isn't a PvP server by definition, you can make an Alliance and a Horde character. The tournament server also isn't like the live realms in that there are no quests or NPCs aside from the trainers, vendors, and arena representatives. I haven't explored the tournament realm completely, but it's safe to assume that it's a barren world. The NPCs are all Goblins, by the way, which is a bit unsettling and bizarre. There are few things stranger than seeing little green men and women in full Tier 2.
If you want to hear a sad song about a lack of bag space, just talk to a hybrid or tank-capable class. Those guys are lugging around three or more sets of gear, plus variations - it's enough to bust a Foror's Crate of Endless Resist Gear Storage wide open. (Yeah, we know you wish you had one of those; we do, too.) We talked with a player who definitely has storage issues, but from a little different perspective: Rattleshirt of Uldaman, who displays her finery not in raid instances or battlegrounds but on the catwalk.
Some players think vanity gear is a ridiculous waste of bank and bag space. Not Rattleshirt. When Rattleshirt decided to transfer realms not too long ago, she had to pare down to five full packs - yes, that's five full packs - from her existing 90-something ensembles. She had so many outfits that she began giving impromptu fashion shows in Orgrimmar every night before logging out, complete with audience requests for particular rare robes. We snagged a backstage visit with Rattleshirt to find out, well, what all the rattle is behind her many shirts.
Each week, Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player who has 2 hours or less to play at a time. Well, it used to be weekly and it will be again, starting today.
When last I wrote, which was ages ago, I promised to answer some reader mail about getting groups quickly. And then I vanished for a bit. I'm sorry about the interruption in this column and I will get to the reader mail, but not this week. With the new patch getting closer to release, I think I need to talk about some of the changes that will affect those of us with limited playtime.
First of all, our coverage of Patch 2.4 is very extensive and perhaps a bit overwhelming. I do recommend, however, spending some free time that you have access to WoW Insider catching up with the changes for your class, professions and playstyle. You don't want to spend your precious WoW session discovering unexpected changes after the new patch comes out.
Drysc talks about Battlegrounds and class balance in PvP - Thu, 13 Mar 2008 18:30:00 EST In a thread started by quitting player whose final rants include issues such as class balance and the limited number of Battlegrounds, Drysc responds with a rare, long explanation. He mentions that Blizzard understands that not all classes and specs are as viable in PvP, particularly in the extremely competitive Arena environment, and concedes that they are trying to make at least all classes contributive in some way. Protection Warriors, for example, should be able to jump into Battlegrounds or Arenas and "be able to do something with some small amount of success." The 'small amount' comes from the fact that he also unequivocally states that it is Blizzard's philosophy that they have to be ok with all specs not being as viable as others.
He also explains that the dearth of new Battlegrounds or Battleground maps is not due to queue times (they have little to do with each other), but that each Battleground requires a fair amount of work on Blizzard's end and that most of their developmental focus lies in the expansion Wrath of the Lich King. He says that playtesting, balancing, and other efforts are extremely labor intensive. Oddly, Drysc mentions Warsong Gulch, the smallest of all the Battlegrounds, has "terrain issues here and there." Hopefully this isn't indicative of what Blizzard sees as the problems with WSG, as the game suffers from more than just some terrain issues. It's a good thing that Patch 2.4 promises changes to WSG, but it's even better that Drysc has been more vocal on the forums as of late.
Totem Talk: Chaos at the back of the party! - Thu, 13 Mar 2008 18:00:00 EST Totem Talk is written by Matthew Rossi for shamans, and the people who love them. You'd better be one of those people that love them or are them... is them? Wait, how did this paragraph get away from me so fast? Crap, don't die, don't die, don't....whew, the heal landed! I'd better burn an NS and drop a Healing Wave on it, just to be sure. Man, the paragraph's health just started bombing!
So you've decided to heal.
Maybe you're full resto, or maybe you're an enhancement or elemental shaman but you have good healing gear and you need to heal for some reason. Perhaps your raid needs just a little extra healing. Perhaps you really just want to get that Shadow Labs run out of the way before 2.4 comes in and the only slot open is for a healer. Maybe you just like being yelled at by people if you don't keep them at full health at all times. I'm not going to sit here and psychoanalyze you, oh my no. First off, have you seen my picture? If I were you (and I'm not, I'm me) I wouldn't take any mental health advice from that guy. He looks kind of insane. Secondly, it's not Totem Talk's aim to discourage you, but rather to facilitate you in any way we can. If you want to spec resto and heal, we want to help you. If you want to heal as an enhancement or elemental shaman, we're on board. If you want to rob several banks and then flee to Prince Edward Island, you're on your own. We're terribly lazy.
We've discussed the nuts and bolts of shaman healing before, so today we'll mostly touch on it but not go into detail to that extent.
There is one viewpoint here (and it's not one that I necessarily espouse) that HC is just falling into the old "hardcore/casual" trap that Penny Arcade put so well this week -- he thinks that he's casual, when actually, if you're running higher-level-than-you're-meant-to five man instances with your friends (and theorycrafting a bit), you're actually what Blizzard would consider a hardcore player, and thus of course the game is easy for you. But while I think there's a little bit of that going on here, I don't think we need to go that far: the fact is that WoW is an easy game. That's how it's garnered such a big audience. And anyone who has ever beaten Diablo is going to find that yes, if you read a guide or two, run the right instances at the right times, and put some thought into your specs, you'll have an easy time.
So what HC asks for is the difficulty to scale -- instead of just Normal and Heroic, have three or four modes that players can choose to set their own experience. A few games have done this already, and indeed, Blizzard may decide that that's called for in future instances (though it seems unlikely that they'll do this on older content, considering how they've abandoned it so far). But for now, WoW is an easy game, and that's the way Blizzard wants it. After all, you don't get a 10 million subscriber base by beating players up.
In the wake of Alex Ziebart's recent post for Hybrid Theory, we received a number of comments from paladins on their ability to main-tank a 25-man raid. Behind the scenes, the subject was equally controversial; many of us here play tanks and we all feel passionate about our classes. An email discussion started about hybrid tanks in general, and it got to be so interesting that we were threatened with being fired if we didn't post it we were asked to share it with our readers.
Warriors? Druids? Paladins? And the people who love them? This one's for you. Now, I've previously fielded complaints that my posts are too long, so far warning; if you're not in the mood for a pretty thorough look at the current state of hybrid tanking, you'll probably want to keep moving. If you play any tank at all, just want to know more about them and the people who choose to play tanks, or are considering rolling a tank class, I hope you find the following to be of interest.
Please note that the headers below are not, as in portions of Matthew Rossi's post, quotes from anybody involved; they're just a means of helping me organize my thoughts and translate our email conversations into the blogging format. I'm attempting to condense the content of multiple email conversations.
My perspective on Alex's post
For reference, my main is a tanking feral druid in a Tier 6 raiding guild. Our main tank is a protection paladin, and we're on Reliquary of Souls at the moment. This guy main-tanked Vashj, main-tanked Kael for a certain period until we found out his computer settings made it really tough for him to see Flamestrikes (so we substituted a warrior for that reason, not because of the pally/warrior divide), and has main-tanked most of Hyjal and a fairish amount of Black Temple.
Engineers have among the greatest freedom to choose our allegiances throughout Azeroth and Outland. While Jewelcrafters and leatherworkers spend hours and days making a name for themselves with the Furbolgs of the Timbermaw, or the druids of Cenarion, Engineers remain free. No such slaves to the grind of reputation, we. For what could we learn from the various factions of the lands? It's little they can teach us, and little we would gain from the work done. No, our main choice of faction has always been to join M.E.G.A. or to take our lives in our hands and join G.E.E.K.
With few exceptions. There are several factions we can seek out whose expertise in Engineering allows us to learn a thing or two (quite literally) from them. In this lecture we will discuss where an enterprising Engineer can go to learn some of the rarest schemata known: those derived from earned reputations.
The factions with which you'll need to work are the Zandalar Tribe of trolls in Stranglethorn Vale, the Cenarion Expedition, predominantly in Zangarmarsh, and the Consortium, predominantly in Netherstorm. Zandalar trolls will require you to join their battle against Hakkar, the Blood God, and his priests in Zul'Gurub. This will require a raid 20 strong, though if you've mastered the art of flying you'll likely find you need somewhat fewer than that to be effective. The Cenarion Expedition has agents posted in the western barrens of Hellfire Peninsula, but the main camp can be found further west in Zangarmarsh. They offer work mostly in and around Zangarmarsh itself, including, most prominently, reputation earned from delving into the Coilfang Reservoir: Underbog, Slave Pens, and Steam Vaults. Consortium reputation can be earned in Auchindoun, but only in the Mana Tombs, and that only until you've reached Honored. Beyond that you'll need to visit Nagrand for Ogre beads or, ultimately, Netherstorm for a variety of work.
In the interests of fairness, we should remind you that you should vote for the series you like best -- Collegehumor's "Street Fighter: The Later Years" series is a funny bit of video, especially if you're a fan of the old fighting game. But we here at WoW Insider have a soft spot for The Guild, not only because it captures so perfect (and so weirdly) what it's like to have friends you've only known through Azeroth, but because, you know, they're WoW players, too.
Man, you European players just can't seem to balance server load, can you? /cast Evasion. Once again, here's a round of free character migrations for European servers, open from yesterday to next Tuesday, March 18 (my birthday!).
Standard disclaimer: the transfers may be closed early if the desired population levels are attained, so transfer ASAP if you want to. However, I'm not sure that this happens very often; in fact, last time the transfers were extended for another week because not enough people had taken advantage of it. Standard closing questions: if you're on one of the "from" realms, will you be taking advantage of this? If you're on one of the "to" realms, do you welcome the newcomers?
If it is a joke, whoever's behind it isn't showing their hand at all -- the about and submission pages talk pretty seriously about their conviction for crafting. Although they don't win any points from me for saying "Dungeons and Dragons is kinda played and we don't condone or support dorkyness in hi-school." The tone is almost too perfect to be real, though, and it seems like commenters are in on the joke.
Earlier today, The Dragonblight has been added to the Wrath of the Lich King official website. For those of you unaware, The Dragonblight is essentially a Dragon graveyard, though there are obviously other aspects of the zone as well.
It seems there are many factions at work in this zone. The Horde and the Alliance, obviously. The Scourge is another obvious one, seeing as it is in Northrend. In addition to that we have the Red and Blue Dragonflights, and the remnants of the Scarlet Crusade, the Scarlet Onslaught. I may be a horrible person for looking forward to faction grinds, but I've wanted Red Dragonflight rep since the World of Warcraft began. We have three Bronze Dragonflight reputation grinds, but zero Red? C'mon!
The official website has some excellent shots of the zone, and a fly-over of the terrain. If you haven't seen it yet, definitely go check it out.
Have prot warriors been left behind? - Thu, 13 Mar 2008 14:03:00 EST So we've been having a back and forth about various tanking classes, and our overlords have commanded us to share this with you, the readers. So I enter into the fray, girded for battle (you have to gird, you'll pull something) and ready to provide unto you my opinions once again. For I am an opinionated cuss. Also, I just dropped something like 100g to respec fury for the night in SSC because we had a surplus of prot warriors, prot paladins and feral druids for once. So I got to see how the DPS half of the warrior class lives in raids, and it got me to thinking about how, of all three tanking classes, it was the warrior who got asked to respec.
My responses here are unabashedly pro warrior and from my own experiences. Some of them will be extreme cases. Some of them will be stressing a worst case scenario. I'll admit my bias now. I love warriors. I don't love druids or paladins. I try and leave this bias out of the people... I have a lot of druid or pally friends in the tanking corps, because, well, I'm a tank first and foremost and not a DPS player anymore. So fury warriors and I have only our class in common most of the time (except for, say, last night in SSC), while those off spec tanks and I are tanks together. I try very hard never to call for a nerf to another class. And I don't think paladins or druids should be nerfed as tanks now.
If you're interested on a perspective from the hybrid tanking side of the issue, please check out Allison Robert's post when it goes live.
I'm going to reiterate that. I do not think paladins or druids need to be nerfed as tanks now. I hate nerfing. I hate taking abilities away from a class. I do not think they are overly weak, no: in fact, I find them fiendishly strong tanks. Paladins can AoE tank to a degree that I find irritating, to be honest, and ferals are just plain better as offtanks because they can tank as well as a prot warrior (specific boss gimmicks aside) and DPS far, far better than a prot warrior, no matter what gear switching he does. You'll notice that no one asked a feral to respec to offtank and DPS, because that would be absurd. All he needs to do is switch gear. I had to re-train in order to contribute.
This doesn't mean that I don't feel that prot warriors can tank. Hell yes we can. We can tank any boss in the game... if you'll let us. I will say this about the paradigm I'm seeing, the idea that paladins and druids are getting shoved aside for warrior tanks in late endgame raiding, that it's not fair that warrior threat starts to catch up in Hyjal and Black Temple, catch up or exceed. If so, where was all the complaint from hybrids when warrior tanks got to watch their archaic static threat mechanism sideline them to an extent post TBC?
The Improved Fizzy Faire Drinks can be prepared in a variety of styles and flavors, with fun colors and yummy garnishes. As such, several different combinations will be featured, and their mysterious buffs revealed.
In fact, I wanted to create a purple and green float as a symbol of the Darkmoon Faire, but all my local grocery store offered would have made a grape-mint combination. If any brave souls try this, or can snag lime instead of mint, send us a screenshot!
If you're curious, and itching to start off the ice cream season a little early, hop on through the break.
It looks like Oxhorn's WeGamegig is paying off for fans. After nine months, he has released the sequel to Orcs in SPACE! Since Stage6 is gone and Oxhorn is exclusive with WeGame, the best extra we can link to is the script.
Orcs in SPACE! 2 is about two orcs, Dr. Strange Orc and Dink, in ... (You guessed it!) space! They trade witty banter back and forth, and put on a song and dance. Along the way, a strange moon joins in on the action. While this is definitely not my favorite Oxhorn machinima, I enjoyed the rap in the end.
Scattered Shots: Crowd control - Thu, 13 Mar 2008 11:00:00 EST Last week David covered Arenas for the hunter, while I laid low and did a little more leveling. I'm to the point now where crowd control becomes not only an option, but at times a requirement. Hunters are known for our ranged damage output. It's practically the thing hunters are made to do: stand back and shoot. We are also quite good at crowd control using our traps, though. You'll see it in the Looking for Group channel fairly regularly: "LF1M DPS/CC."
That's us. Damage per Second and Crowd Control. They might be thinking Rogue or Warlock, but you should see those five letters and think "that's me." Not only is crowd control something hunters are good at, it's something which not all hunters do reliably or well. Being able to trap, and trap competently, will go a long way towards making you friends in both instances and the open road.
In this article I'll be discussing ways to use your Freezing Trap as a method of both controlling crowds and making friends. For those of you who haven't yet learned it, Freezing Trap is learned at level twenty. Rank One provides a ten second freeze. Rank Two upgrades at level forty for a fifteen second freeze. Rank three upgrades at level sixty for a twenty second freeze. Once the trap is laid, it will remain in place for sixty seconds before fading if it is not sprung. Meanwhile, the trap's cooldown is thirty seconds. Laying one trap while another is ready to spring will cancel the first one in favor of the second one.
Several talents exist to assist with trapping, in the Survival talent tree. Points spent on Entrapment give your traps an increasing chance to snare any opponent which trips them. Points spent on Clever Traps increase the duration of Frost and Freezing traps, the damage from Explosive and Immolation traps, and the number of snakes summoned from Snake traps. Points spent on Trap Mastery decrease the chance your opponents have to resist your traps. Points spent on Resourcefulness decrease the mana cost of traps (and melee abilities) as well as their cooldown. Talent specialization is up to you, but be aware that some or all of these talents will make your job as a trapper much easier.
Player Ohayou of Roflcers of the Lawl on the Shattered Halls realm was having some fun with his buddies in Booty Bay when he was attacked. Was it the opposing faction in a coordinated attack? Elementals spawned by a world event intent on overruning the goblin outpost? The newest raid boss of Sunwell Plateau?? Well, it turned out to be a well framed shot of a fish hanging from the mast. Don't give me that look. It's still kinda scary.
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. This means you. I'm not kidding, yours is not the exception. No, really. Sigh.
Multiboxing, the process of one person playing multiple characters on multiple accounts at one time, usually by the use of multiple computers (thus the term) and macros that can be activated on all accounts by the push of a single button, has most recently seen coverage here on WoW with our 2-man Karazhan report. The act of multiboxing is one that has been the subject of some debates, mostly centered around whether or not it violates the EULA. Those in favor of multiboxing can breathe easier today, as Blizzard poster Belfaire has stated in no uncertain terms that Blizzard has no problem with the practice in a post on the customer service forums.
In short, he says that the advantages of multiboxing are no different than the advantages offered by normal grouping. Since multiboxers can be damaged, feared and CC'd as easily as separate people playing separate accounts, and since they can't do anything the same amount of characters couldn't do when played by different people, there is no reason to consider it an unfair advantage in PvP or PvE. He also answers quite a few specific questions posed by thread starter and multiboxer Velath that clarify why Blizzard accepts Multiboxing and does not consider it an exploit or an unfair advantage.
Wrath of the Lich King is still some time away, it's true. Many gaming stores and websites seem to be anticipating an October or November release, but Blizzard's keeping mum on the exact date so far.
Luckily, they aren't leaving us completely high and dry, since we still get small trickles of information in the form of bestiary updates, pages on zones, and blue posts that offer tantalizing hints as to the new content. Still, It never seems like enough. I'm sure we all have specific things we're hoping to find out about. I'm a Death Knight fan, so I want to know more about what the new class will be able to do, so I can plan how best to spread grim death unto my enemies when I roll mine. I also wouldn't mind a bit more information on what the Nerubians are up to these days, and whether we'll find them to be friend or foe when we come to Azjol-Nerub.
What WotLK news are you dying for? Do you want to see new talent trees for your main's class? Is there a dungeon that you're dying to see? Is there some little piece of old lore you're hoping to see pop back up in Northrend?