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Ready Check: First steps into Naxxramas-10 - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we fight lag and Kel'Thuzad.

Being back in Naxxramas is strange. At level 60, Naxx represented the pinnacle of raiding -- hard work, shiny epics and some really interesting boss encounters. At 70, overcome with nostalgia and spare time, revisiting Naxx meant taking a casual disregard for most tactics and simply overpowering bosses with the force of purples.

So what's it like stepping back into the dread citadel as a fresh level 80, over two years since my first adventures therein? Read on for spoilers...

Continue reading Ready Check: First steps into Naxxramas-10

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PTR 3.0.2 client is available for download - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 18:42:00 EST


You can now begin downloading the PTR (Public Test Realm) client for patch 3.0.2. We reported earlier today that character copies have been made active, and those are going along nicely as far as we can tell (my Warrior copied across with no problem). To download the client and copy your characters over to the PTR, login to your account administration at worldofwarcraft.com.

We are expecting a lot of out of this patch. From new talent trees, to class and raid mechanics changes, to the removal of the Amani War Bear. We'll have a lot more on this as we get more information in. Patch notes are not available yet - though we expect to get our hands on them soon.

Stay tuned!

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Demonology 101: the Imp - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST


Ok, this is fun. Out of all the demons I can summon, I hate the imp the most. Not for any other reason than it has major lip. Fortunately for me, because I prefer Affliction, I don't have to deal with Rupjub's tinny whining in Wrath of the Lich King. On the other hand, Destruction Warlocks will have to suffer them because they're the perfect pets for the tree.

Some basic stuff first... imps don't need a Soul Shard to summon, so it's great for lazy Warlocks. It also has a basic Firebolt that you'll need to set to auto-cast because that's pretty much all it can do once you've toggled it to attack. Firebolt was nerfed to a 2.5 second cast -- up from 2 -- but there are a lot of talents that pump up the imp's DPS (including the silly Demonic Power which brings back Firebolt's casting time to the original 2). It also provides a couple of group buffs -- the Fire Shield, which is kind of like a Druid's Thorns but with a Fire Resistance bonus; and Blood Pact, a Stamina buff that used to get a Warlock grouped with the tank. Blood Pact has been changed to grant a health bonus, rather than Stamina, so it will no longer stack with Commanding Shout.

Finally, an imp can Phase Shift, a sort of self-Banish that only breaks when the imp attacks. A Phase Shifted imp used to be standard for Affliction Warlocks with Dark Pact, because of the imp's high mana pool and monstrous regeneration rate. That's all set to change in Wrath, however, with the improvements to the Felhunter. The imp blows things up, that's kind of its nature, so in Wrath of the Lich King, if you're a Warlock that likes to blow things up, the imp is the demon that blows things up right with you.

Continue reading Demonology 101: the Imp

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Heirloom items are for leveling - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST


You've read already about Heirloom items, which were implemented in the latest beta build and are bind-to-account. You can equip them, and then when you get a replacement, send them to any alt you have on the server; the stats on the items scale with level. They're bought with heroic/raid badges, as far as I can tell.

So what are these items for? My interpretation is that they're largely to help your alts level, and to give you something to do with badges if you have too many on your mains. Although the stats do scale down when you equip them on lower-level characters, they're still quite powerful items, on par blues. And here's one thing that's reinforcing that impression: I've found four Heirloom shoulders so far that give +10% experience from killing monsters. This is a great idea. You know that anyone who has these shoulders has at least one character at level 80, so why not let them level 5% faster? (5% is based on an estimate of half of one's experience being from quests and half from mobs.)

Continue reading Heirloom items are for leveling

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Coming home to PvP - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST


I've waited for this opportunity for years. When my wife and friends decided to re-roll on a PvP server in early 2006, I had already spent weeks after weeks of sleepless nights grinding through the punishing decaying Honor system. I was a couple of weeks removed from the next rank but we had all decided to move on. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in the game.

Over the course of the past years, I would pay my original characters -- an Undead Rogue and a Troll Hunter -- on our first server, the occasional visit. I missed playing them a whole lot, but I could never bring myself to play them seriously on a normal realm. I created a Blood Elf Rogue and a Tauren Hunter on our new home but it just wasn't the same. I missed my Ressan the Needler, a pet I'd had since Level 11. I missed my Rogue in a twill suit. I wanted nothing more than to bring over my original guys to where we were playing now.

Of course, up until two days ago, that wasn't possible. Their original reasoning, that it was easier to level on a normal server than on a PvP server, no longer held true. To be honest, I didn't think it was that big a deal two years ago. In fact, I relished it. I enjoyed the idea that there was real danger lurking everywhere, and that enemies could kill me -- and I could kill them in turn -- at any time. But the truth is, the dreaded griefing happened so occasionally I could count the number of times I got frustrated on one hand. Maybe even two fingers.

Continue reading Coming home to PvP

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Arcane Brilliance: Six things I love about being a Mage in the beta - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST



Each week Arcane Brilliance peeks takes a quick peek into the world of Mages. The peek has to be quick indeed, for to look any longer into that world is to invite madness. I mean, have you looked in there? There are people making copies of themselves, then their copies are turning people into penguins, then those penguins are getting set on fire and frozen, all at the same time...it's...it's not right. I don't know what it is, but it isn't right, people.

So...the giant nerf-patch of doom came down this week. It hit everyone. Except...Mages? Huh? What...how...who?

I had myself all braced for the nerf-bat to hit us, and well, I guess it whiffed? I dunno. Our Mirror Image is still awesome, our Deep Freeze still stuns, does good damage, and is instant, our Arcane Barrage is still on a glorious 3 second cooldown, and our Frostfire Bolt still benefits from every talent that affects either Fire or Frost spells. Surely Blizzard can't be happy with Mages being the actual, genuine kings of DPS in a physical universe that actually exists.

Virtually.

And only in beta form.

Cough.

We'll get a nerf in the cursed name of "balancing" eventually, I'm sure, but for now we get a reprieve. And I couldn't be happier.

This week, I'm going to list a few things--some of them big, some of them small--that I love about being a Mage in the beta right now. If even a few of these make it live, there is cause for rejoicing, and any that we lose in all of the class-polishing hobnobbery that goes on between now and that glorious day in which we install Northrend onto our hard drives will be cause to mourn. Join me after the jump for the list.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Six things I love about being a Mage in the beta

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Warrior tanking shields in Wrath - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST
Many people are wondering how long their Aldori Legacy Defender or Bulwark of Azzinoth will be lasting them in WotLK. While there will be no definitive answer until the official release of Wrath when items are more or less finalized, we can take a look at the various shield options now and at least get a feel for when they'll be replaced.

We'll compare shields by selecting a few key statistics: armor, block value, defense, and stamina. There might be other statistical factors in each shield, however these four values are the major stats that define a shield's power. We also show the strength on the shields which are coming in Wrath, since that attribute will be playing a larger role for the Protection Warrior post patch 3.0.2.

Read on after the break for a statistical break down of shield options for the Warrior tank, and why the iconic Bulwark of Azzinoth won't be replaced until at least level 77, if not level 80.

Continue reading Warrior tanking shields in Wrath

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3.0 PTR Character Copy open - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 13:15:00 EST

In a sign that the 3.0 patch may be nearly upon us, the US PTR Character Copy utility is now up and running. There are no sign of premade characters yet, but it does allow you to transfer 4 of your existing characters to the US PvE or PvP Test realms. As usual, you must have an active Burning Crusade enabled account to participate.

The 3.0 patch, as you may recall, is the harbinger of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and will include many of Wrath's new features, including the new class talents and spells, barber shops, and even the Inscription trade skill. This is a huge step toward the release of the expansion itself, and we'll keep you updated on any further news we receive on the 3.0 PTR and everything beyond it.

[Thanks to Shawn for the heads up!]

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WoW Insider Show live this afternoon on WoW Radio - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 12:30:00 EST


Yes, our weekly podcast will be live in a few hours on WoW Radio (starting up at 3:30pm Eastern), and it'll be a doozy -- Zach Yonzon will join us from his home in the Philippines to talk about PvP to PvE transfers, what's up with the nerfs in the latest beta build, and what other updates Blizzard has for racial abilities. Duncor will be back on (Turpster is, unfortunately, still in Florida), so we'll talk to him to see what he thinks about Mirror Image, Heirloom items, and whether he has any good insights about the AH.

Plus, we'll have your emails and insights from the IRC chat -- you can join us in IRC at irc.mmoirc.com in the #wowradio channel during the show, or just click "chat" on the top of the WoW Radio site. And even if you can't make it, you can definitely email us -- just drop a note to theshow@wowinsider.com, and you might even hear it on the air.

Should be a good time as always, and I'm very curious to hear how the PvE to PvP transfers discussion goes -- while I'm sure Zach is a big fan, not everyone is, so we'll see what can be said about that. See you at 3:30 this afternoon on WoW Radio!

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WoW Moviewatch: I really wish you didn't love the whole world - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

Look, I get that those Discovery Channel commercials featuring "Boom De Ah Dah!" are catchy, but something's gotta give. The original song was roughly 30-45 seconds, yet Ilcyra apparently set it on an incessant loop to make it a whopping eight times longer. Do you really love the load screen that much? What about moonkin fluff? I found my eyes glazing over at this love-fest gone bad.

Don't get me wrong. The video isn't that horrible, and neither is her voice. However, 4:39 is a bit overzealous, especially when the last minute of it is a guy jumping around for no reason. My advice would be to make an ordered list of the things that you love, and only sing about the first 20!

[Thanks, Alex!]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Forum post of the day: For fun and profit - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST

What does a spiffy rare mount cost? You can get a Spectral Tiger for about $900 (once sold for $2,000) on eBay. You could pay 20,000 gold for an Amani Warbear. BlizzCon 2008 World of Warcraft in-game polar bear mount with mounted, flag-waving murloc? $40 bucks. All you have to do is sign up for the DirecTV package and that fabulous bear is all yours. If I were a mount collector, I might persuade my friends to sign up for the package in my name.

Kothor of Skywall is ordering the video package even though he's planning on attending Blizzcon. He suggested that Blizzard should make all of the rare mounts available for purchase. This suggestion was welcomed by several who have spent countless hours grinding for their prized ponies.

Continue reading Forum post of the day: For fun and profit

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Around Azeroth: Neglected - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST


Just who does that penguin think she is? Look at her, with her new leash and shiny grooming kit and love in her eyes. Of course she's going to get all of Deborah's attention. Meanwhile, I've been slaving away at Deb's side for twenty levels, fighting demons and bears and even some of my own relatives, and now he won't even turn and look at me. I might not be the prettiest or most huggable, but don't they say that when you adopt a ghoul, you adopt it for life? Fine, then. Next time Deborah needs some backup in combat and calls out for help, Ms. Chilly there can pick up the phone. I'm going to go back to the Plaguelands and find a death knight who really cares about me. Maybe a draenei this time.

This image came to us straight from the Wrath of the Lich King beta -- and we'd love to have your beta screenshots, too! If you have anything our readers might like, beta or not, sharing it is as simple as e-mailing aroundazeroth@wowinsider.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 strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. No more battleground scoreboards, please.

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Harvest Festival ends today - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST

Just a friendly reminder for everyone: Today is the last day of the Harvest Festival, the annual event honoring the fallen heroes of the Horde and the Alliance. That means you have one more day to head to the front entrance of Ironforge and Orgrimmar to hang with some ghosts, buy some cheap fireworks (those Midsummer Ground Flowers are awesome, and I am totally stocking up), and go pay your respects to Grom or Uther.

Yeah, it's a small holiday, and a weird one at that. I mean, you either honor Uther, who was a jerk to Tirion Fordring, ineffective against the Scourge and was betrayed and killed by his protege, or Grom, who betrayed the Orcish race to the Burning Legion at least twice, and whose clan is still one of the major sources of strife and bad Horde-Alliance relations on Azeroth today.

And what about hanging out with all those ghosts? I mean, isn't anyone concerned that they could be scourge? And what about those Forsaken ancestors? Shouldn't they look like humans as ghosts, since they were humans in the first place? And wouldn't a good portion of those Orc and Troll ancestors come from the tradition of savagery and cannibalism and demon worship that the Horde is supposedly trying to break free from?

Oh well, at least it's free fireworks and free food. Enjoy it while you can! Brewfest is a scant week away too, so be sure to review the new Coren Direbrew loot and plan your trip to the Grim Guzzler now.

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Breakfast Topic: Who are you without your main? - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST
Let's say the grid goes down tomorrow. Or maybe The Pattern catches up to Blizzard and it happens to fry that small part of a server that houses your character because it really is you they're after. (Admittedly, there are more realistic ways that you can lose your WoW character, but that kind of takes the fun out of this topic.) From a philosophical point of view, how would you feel? Any kind of loss -- even an electronic one -- may inspire grief and all its stages. But no doubt you spent a lot of time, effort, and money leveling that character so in a way it's part of yourself. You've probably thought about what it would feel like to lose your main.

But what would you be like without your main? Would you lose a bit of confidence? Would your coworkers sense you withdraw just a bit? Or would you feel free, finally able to, I don't know, learn how to surf? Would you be any different at all? Would it be something you could (or would even want to) talk to your non-WoW friends or family about? I wonder if roleplayers would have a more difficult time -- or would it be easier because they are like actors? For me, since my main is much more powerful than I am and also provides me with a lot of laughs at his expense, I would feel just a little bit smaller and weaker. It would also be freeing. I don't think I'd level another main, but I might just try something new. Would the loss of your main have any impact on who you are on a daily basis?

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Misdirection gets a shorter cooldown in Wrath - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 19:15:00 EST

Since the addiiton of Tricks of the Trade to the Rogue repertoire in the Wrath of the Lich King Beta, Hunters have felt a little slighted. Not only did Rogues get Misdirection, a somewhat defining Hunter ability in PvE, they got Misdirection on a much shorter cooldown that also augmented the tank's damage for even more threat. Koraa brought good news late last night, mentioning that Misdirection's cooldown will be lowered to 30 seconds (down from 2 minutes) to match the cooldown of Tricks of the Trade.

While Misdirection still doesn't have any secondary effects like Tricks does, you have to consider the fact that it can be used at range which is a pretty big deal. While the abilities have similar effects, they'll be used for wholly different things. It's a threat management tool for Rogues, whereas it's a pulling ability for Hunters. The two abilities fill different roles despite their similarities. Hunter threat tends to have some pretty wild spikes sometimes, but I think they have all the threat management they need. Feign Death is on a 30 second cooldown, and the Rogue threat wipe is at 3 minutes.

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Phat Loot Phriday: Crossbow of Relentless Strikes - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST


BM Hunters, here's something you can spend those Badges on.

Name: Crossbow of Relentless Strikes (Wowhead, Thottbot, Goblin Workshop)
Type: Epic Crossbow
Damage/Speed: 182-339 / 2.80 (93.0 DPS)
Abilities:
  • It can strike relentlessly, obviously.
  • Improves hit rating by 14 and crit strike rating by 18, and increases attack power by 32.
  • The hit is very nice for a bow and it takes up a good chunk of the +hit you need to meet the hit cap, which means you probably will have a gem or two free elsewhere to add more Agility into the mix. The crit is nice, and more attack power is always a good thing obviously.
  • But the real stat on this bow is its speed -- while the damage ain't the best, the lower speed makes it easier for BM Hunters especially to match up their Steady Shot/Autoshot rotation, which means more DPS overall. This bow is a gift from Blizzard to Beastmaster Hunters,
How to Get It: It's relatively easy -- just lug 150 Badges of Justice (those things have to be heavy, right?) to the Badge Vendors in Quel'danas or Shattrath. There's 22 Badges in a full Karazhan clear, and Heroics have about 3-5 each (plus a few more for the daily quest), so run Kara and the daily Heroics all week long, and it should only take you about two or three weeks to pick up all the badges you need. Throw in some ZA if your guild is running that one, and add in the fact that you probably already have a few badges in the bank, and this baby's almost in your hands. It'll last you at least until Sunwell, too, and even if the expansion rolls around before you can make it in there, you should at least be able to get a level or two under your belt before it eventually gets replaced by a green. If you're looking for something to do ingame before the expansion, this bow's not a bad goal to have -- think of all the rep, other gear, and gold you'll pull out of running all these instances, too.

Getting Rid of It: Disenchants into a Void Crystal, but just like most Badge gear, vendors won't buy it back from you. As I said, odds are that if you don't replace it with a Sunwell piece, you'll probably replace it at some point in Northrend. But the thrill of gear isn't in having it, it's in chasing it, right?

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Skill Mastery: Deep Freeze - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST



I have to admit, when the three 51-point Mage talents were revealed, Deep Freeze was the one I was least excited about. In its initial form, the spell was 1.5 second cast, 5 second duration stun that only worked on frozen targets. Ok.../golfclap. I shelved the spell in the dark recesses of my brain and devoted most of my time to pleasant fantasies involving Arcane Barrage, Living Bomb, and a lot of Gnomes.

Then a funny thing happened. Over several new beta builds, the spell actually became good. When I finally got into the beta and was able to take the spell for a test-drive, I discovered it was very good. Not perfect, mind you, but highly effective.

Damage was added to the spell. High damage. Then the cast time was removed, making it instant. The spellpower coefficient remained what it had been when it had a 1.5 second cast. All of a sudden, Deep Freeze was an instant-cast nuke with a reasonable cooldown that also delivered a stun mechanic. Suddenly, the spell had become...well, pretty awesome, actually.

So how does it work in practice?

Continue reading Skill Mastery: Deep Freeze

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Great Divide Part 2 - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST
I had intended to talk about the new paradigm for Arms warriors in the Beta and, presumably, patch 3.0 when it goes live. I had intended this, but I'm not going to, because as of beta build 8926, I don't really know where either DPS spec is going. I've taken my human warrior into a very heavy prot spec and, quite frankly, am doing more damage with far higher survivability than I would have in arms or fury.

When I talked about how I felt prot was going to develop last week, I had no idea how far I was understating it. Talents like Damage Shield, the changes to Shockwave and Devastate, and how much crit you can get on your special abilities with Critical Block, Sword and Board and Incite make prot a remarkably strong tree for soloing/grinding/leveling. With 600 block value or more (not terribly hard to get now that 2 str = 1 SBV) Damage Shield and Shield Slam can rip mobs in half. 2000 point Shield Slams are far from rare with an extra 15% crit on your slams, and with full Improved Defensive Stance you can sit in D stance and have a 100% chance to enrage on any successful block, parry or dodge, giving you the option to do more damage or to spend the enrage to heal yourself for a significant chunk of your total health.

Continue reading The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Great Divide Part 2

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Skill Mastery: Horn of Winter - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST

Horn of Winter is a Death Knight skill that was added in a recent build. Much like the Shaman's Strength of Earth Totem, this skill will give a strength and agility buff to nearby party or raid members -- 155 at the highest rank, to be exact.

It has advantages over Strength of Earth to be sure. It lasts 2 minutes like the totem, but unlike the totem, it's quite a bit more mobile, being a straight-up buff. If there's one drawback to the skill, it's finding the time to cast it.

A Death Knight nearly never sits idle while DPSing. Every global cooldown is precious as you strive to use your runes as soon as they refresh and shed runic power as soon as you have enough for your chosen runic power dump. Some Death Knights think that shoehorning Horn of Winter into there might be asking a bit much, and want it to, at the least, not cost any runic power.

Still, it's a very nice "upgraded" version of the Shaman's Strength of Earth totem, and 20 runic power (10 with a glyph) isn't that bad a cost, so if you're in a physical DPS heavy group or raid, and any Shamans aren't putting out that specific totem, it's worth using it. Any slight hiccup in your damage rotation is probably worth all the nice extra AP and melee critical strike rating you'll get from the buff. Just skip a couple Rune Strikes and cast it already!

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Show your pet some love with Happy Pet Snacks - Fri, 12 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST


Ok, this is getting silly. Breanni from the pet store in Dalaran seems to be widening her offerings and now sells Happy Pet Snacks for 47 silver and 50 copper for a stack of five. While we're not exactly in the habit of promoting every little product she's peddling, it's really hard to resist something this cute. It's not quite the Papa Hummel's Old-Fashioned Biscuits I hinted at over at my last post about the Pet Grooming Kit, but it's a pet snack you can give to non-combat pet to make them love you more. Literally -- when you feed them, a tiny heart pops up over their heads, just like when Love Is In The Air. The coolest part? It stacks with the grooming kit! So we can actually have sparkly pets that show us just how much they love us.

Unfortunately, this won't work on Hunter pets to get their mood up -- you'll have to give them real food for that! Vanity pets have always been one of small things in the game that I enjoyed, even if I didn't obsessively collect all of them. I even have my Mini Tyrael key bound, although I have yet to install the MiniPet AddOn that reminds me when I don't have him out. Even though this build was loaded with nerfs, the developers managed to insert a lot of happy things, too, like lots of new icons for items and spells, including a proper one for my Captured Firefly!

While it's easy to notice huge changes like world zones, class nerfs, and whopper talents, it's little touches like these that keep the game light and fun for me. Blizzard always manages to keep a sense of humor about the game, and it just works. When Mumper talked about having vendors sell more interesting stuff in Dalaran, I'm sure he was thinking of Breanni, too. When Wrath of the Lich King finally goes live, a trip to her little store is definitely on my agenda. As usual, thanks to Wietkop for the heads up!

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