There are two main complaints: first, that Blizzard doesn't supply any onsite Arena servers. We know this is true -- Blizzard has event servers that they use for events like this, kept offsite so they don't have to set them up all the time. But GotGame claims that this causes problems -- as much as 300+ ping, which in the quick world of Arena matches, is practically unplayable. We're not sure why Blizzard doesn't allow setups on site, but that seems like a reasonable step to take if they're serious about making professional Arena big.
The second is a little tougher: this post claims that Blizzard has brought the pro Arena servers up to the Season 4 patch, but locked the gear down at Season 2. Our own Zach Yonzon says he's not sure where the Arenas are -- he doesn't believe that official Arena matches are underway after Wrath yet, and if that's true, then Blizzard may already be updating this (bringing the gear on the realms up to level 80 levels to match the talents). But either way, it's strange to hear someone say that Blizzard isn't supporting professional Arena matches correctly. You'd think that if they were as into supporting WoW as an e-sport as they say, that they'd address some of these concerns.
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Are you a talentless n00b? It's really ok to admit it here, among friends -- you wouldn't be the first player in the world to have overlooked (or been completely befuddled by) talent points. Just take a peek at this post about a player who purposely skipped training his talent points, just to see what would happen. If you read through the comments after the post, you'll find plenty of players who missed training their talents along the way, either through not knowing that talent points existed or after becoming paralyzed by the sheer variety of choices.
The talents you choose for your character can completely change the way you play the game. Your "spec" (specialization) is determined by where you've distributed your points among the three talent trees available to your class. So-called "hybrid" classes such as Druids or Paladins take on entirely different roles depending how they are specced: tanking, DPSing or healing. For other classes, spec is more of a flavor tool that determines how your character goes about doing his or her thing.
Our friends at Massively and GamerDNA are at it again -- they're digging into their database of players, this time to determine some Death Knight demographics. They want to know what kinds of players are picking up the new Hero class. Unfortunately, their sample size is super small -- only 500, according to Sanya Weathers, which seems way too tiny to determine anything about the Death Knight class at large. But we'll go with it anyway, and see what we can get.
As you can see above, Blood Elves and Humans dominate the race choice in our little group, which seems about right, considering that those are the two most popular races overall. Death Knight players in this study generally tend to have reported themselves as male in real life. And GamerDNA also lays their Death Knights up against the Bartle test and while WoW players trend pretty well to the norm, Death Knights go way more towards the "Killer" and to a lesser extent the "Explorer" end of the scales.
So according to this little survey (and we'll remind you that this is 500 people, so there are plenty of exceptions out there), the average Death Knight is male, chooses whatever race is most familiar to them, and wants to go kill and do damage rather than worry about socializing or achieving. In other words, lots and lots of former Ret Paladins. It'll be interesting to see how this changes over time -- lots of these players are interested in the newest thing, obviously, since they've switched their mains to a new class at the first chance, but as things settle down and more people head back to get new alts, maybe we'll see a different crowd coming out of Acherus.
The Queue: Wrap me up, baby - Wed, 14 Jan 2009 16:00:00 EST 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.
In the comments of yesterday's edition of The Queue, Gilgamesh mentioned that you're actually able to attack the projection of Mr. Bigglesworth in Wintergarde Keep, or at least, you could for a long time. It's inspired me to... tell a little story.
Once upon a time, The Queue was Ask a Beta Tester. We were still in the midst of exploring Northrend before every Joe and Jane could waltz in there, and I was a puny level 71 traipsing all over the world and taking in its beauty. Ohh! Dragons! Ooo! Yetis! Oh look, hehe, there's a kitty on the projector! Let's click on it!
Oh no! Oh nooo! It's attacking me! Oh gosh, it's just a critter, I can just 1-shot it. Unfortunately for me, it was level 80, and I was a level 71 caster. It resisted absolutely everything. I ran around Wintergarde flailing my arms in horrified desperation, hoping and praying it would leash and leave me be. Unfortunately, it did not, but I had healing spells and managed to weather its furious paws until my Prot Paladin friend showed up to tank it for me. Not my proudest moment, that's for sure.
At any rate, we wouldn't quite recommend jumping in headfirst yet -- they haven't, as far as we can see, revealed any prices, and while you can register your characters, you can't actually get any sort of payout quite yet, as they say they're still working on the system. For all we know the site could be an elaborate scam at this point. But it is an intriguing idea, and if they're really ready to put their money where their FAQ is, these guys may have an actual business plan that depends on Blizzard keeping the servers up. Just like all insurance companies, they must have figured out that the servers stay up more often than not, and that there was money to be made there.
It's quite an interesting plan, and we'll keep an eye on it to see if they ever announce a fee or explain themselves better. The math doesn't quite seem right here, but if somehow their fees are low enough and the payouts are high enough, it's possible that you really could be compensated for downtime by a completely separate company other than Blizzard. Very interesting.
Update: The company has contacted WoW Insider, and we've requested an interview. Stay tuned.
WoW Europe's Valentine's Day contest seems to be becoming an annual event, which should be good news for our EU brethren. Vaneras officially announced the contest and its rules Monday, which you can find on the official EU website.
It seems pretty straightforward, as far as what you need to do. Make a Valentine's Day card! You know, like those ones you handed out in school as a little kid? If you need to see some examples before you get crackin' on it yourself, they still have last year's winners on display for all to see.
They're taking submissions from now until February 1st, and you're limited to five submissions per household. There are some regional restrictions and the usual terms and conditions you'll need to agree to, so head on over and check it out! Good luck to everyone that enters, we look forward to seeing the winners!
Our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe - it's not all just World of Warcraft over there. Which is not to say we don't love WoW! Our weekly roundup will try to give you a look at the best WoW-related content on Massively from the last week. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed to follow our ongoing coverage of your favorite game.
GamerDNA and Massively offer up Death Knight data goodness The sample for today's column is a little more than 500 people, all of whom were active WOW players before the launch, and now continue to actively play their Death Knight. "Actively" as measured by playing sessions - just having one of the new class in the character list isn't enough to count here. Read on to see how the Arthas' legions stack up!
'Beat World of Warcraft' a game developer resolution for 2009 GameDaily has put together a short piece titled "Game Developers Resolutions for 2009", which is essentially a look at the state of the industry and how they think it can improve. While the piece focuses on video games in general, it does fire a shot at the MMO industry specifically -- namely its dominance by one company, and one title.
Analyzing WoW's growth by the numbers When you get down to the nitty gritty numbers, World of Warcraft's growth has stayed fairly consistent over the last three years or so. This of course is after the initial boom in 2005, and thanks mostly to a continued schedule of expansions the last two years. But where will it go from here?
Class balance in a post-WotLK World of Warcraft Class balance is always a touchy subject, depending on the class a person plays. But WoWRIOT has put together an impressive look a class balance in a post-WotLK World of Warcraft. After looking through much of the post, we're pretty impressed with its accuracy and overall take on current class balance, especially as it pertains to arena and PvP.
World of Warcraft tops most played list of 2008 Nielsen Research has published its January through October numbers about the top 10 PC games and top 10 consoles by amount of time played. Once again World of Warcraft tops the charts. In fact, WoW has more time played than the other nine titles listed - combined.
Depending on how long you've been playing World of Warcraft, and which faction you play, the subject of The Lament of Captain Placeholder will require either no explanation, or a lot of explanation. I'll sum up. Back in the days of yore, the boats of Menethil Harbor were tricksy things. As you rode them into the distance, the boats could suddenly disappear out from under you. Stranded in murky waters, you were unable to swim to safety before Fatigue overwhelmed you, and you drowned. This was, obviously, a pretty rough state of affairs. The solution was Captain Placeholder, a man of such fame and skill that people still miss him. While Blizzard repaired the boats, Captain Placeholder simply teleported you across the ocean for free.
Eledainn of Graystar long ago penned the words to "The Lament of Captain Placeholder." Now, Cranius has taken it a step further and created a music and video to commemorate the good Captain.
I was floored by this piece. The music is absolutely fantastic. I was impressed by not only the music's composition, but the talent and skill of the singer. The tone and singing style do a lot to bring about a proper WoW feel. The video itself is perfect for the song and soundtrack. The footage is there to provide visual counterpoints and compliments to the music, and that's exactly what it does. With a piece like this, you really want your audience focused on the sound, anyway. I think the transitioning credits did a great job complimenting the style of the song, giving the entire piece an effective classic feel.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
According to the SK-Gaming Top 100, Rogues are doing pretty well. Our fraternity of assassins has a solid hold on the coveted #3 slot, behind the insanely dominant Death Knight / Holy Paladin combination. With Druids and Warriors being as powerful as they were in Seasons 3 and 4, seeing them bring up the bottom of the Top 100 representation is the truest indicator of significant balance changes that Wrath brought with it.
Luckily, I feel that Rogues are far stronger than our 10% representation shows. We are poised to absorb the market share that Paladin and Death Knights will be hemorrhaging when the long-awaited patch 3.0.8 comes to right all the wrongs that this team has committed. Four of the top six classes in the SK-100 are being nerfed significantly, with Rogues being the least affected by these changes. After the cut, I'll cover important changes for Rogues in 3.0.8, as well as a few changes that will alter our top opponents as well.
Come over here a minute, little gazelle. I'm not going to hurt you. Look, see how relaxed I am? I just want to talk. I've seen you around this place before, but we've never really gotten to know one another. So, who are your parents? Which watering hole do they go to? On a scale of one to ten, how succulent do you think they would be? And I don't even know where you live. Over in the tall grass, huh? What kinds of herbs grow over there? Garlic ... onions ... and basil. Okay, then. Thanks for the help. You'll be delicious.
(Thanks to Valderon of Blade's Edge-EU for the screenshot.)
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I like the heroic dungeon achievements a lot. They give you something to strive for if you're bored if the instance, or just want an extra challenge. I recently had a great time getting Zombiefest! in what would have otherwise been a pedestrian CoS clear (not enough DPS to try for the timed boss; we were running with some fresh 80s and a Holy paladin DPSing).
However, some of the achievements are currently though to be near-impossible. One that is often talked about is Gotta Go!; typically, it's Anub'arak's burrowing that throws attempts off. Good news to those of you working towards your Red Proto-Drake: the time limit on Gotta Go! is being doubled to four minutes in 3.0.8. Many groups were getting quite close to two minutes before, so this change ought to make it relatively easy.
Now we're getting some where -- this is the first real week where we've seen lots of achievements reported in terms of what guilds are doing, rather than actual boss progression. I think this is the future of raiding in the endgame -- you'll walk through content pretty easily, but the achievements will be what really taxes your guild. We've seen our first Sartharion with three drakes achievement in Guildwatch this week (above), and our first "The Undying" mention, too. Here's to many more.
Lots more drama, downed and recruiting news after the break. Enjoy.
Back in the beginning of Burning Crusade, when heroic instances were originally introduced, you had to get to Revered standing with a dungeon's associated faction to buy a key that would let you into heroic mode. Later, that requirement was relaxed to Honored. This was taken one step further in Wrath of the Lich King, where there is, technically, no requirement to enter a heroic besides being level 80.
However, this doesn't mean you're ready for heroics (and Naxxramas-10, which is about the same difficulty) the moment you ding 80 and go train. This is something I found out on my own first 80, when I scratched and clawed my way through healing a heroic Old Kingdom in mid-70s dungeon and quest gear (we never did get the last boss down). I was told that I was rather undergeared for heroics, and to go do some normal-mode level 80 dungeons first (Halls of Lightning, Utgarde Pinnacle, Oculus, Culling of Stratholme).
This was some of the best advice I ever got in WoW. I ran each of the L80 normal-mode dungeons once, and my gear level improved by about 50% in the space of a day or two. There are some extremely serviceable quest rewards in all of these dungeons, not to mention drops and rep gains. There is also some excellent crafted gear out there, if you have some any spare change or mats kicking around. And from that moment on I wasn't that guy trying to tank heroics with 20,000 HP, or the DPS doing 1,000 in Naxxramas. Please, don't be that guy: run some normal-mode level 80s, and maybe pick up a bit of crafted gear or rep rewards, before you try to do heroics or raids.
Roll a Death Knight (almost) anywhere in 3.0.8 - Tue, 13 Jan 2009 19:00:00 EST Oh, you poor unfortunate souls! Forced by the cruel silver hand of fate to roll a Death Knight only on realms on which you already have a level 55 character. You've cried out in pain as the lashes of this restriction struck you, and through the anguish you've yelled "Yo Blizz! Lemme roll my DK anywhere, aight?"
Starting with the launch of 3.0.8, you'll be able to roll a new Death Knight on any realm as long as you have a level 55 character somewhere. The normal restrictions for character creation are still in place, though--can't make an opposite-faction DK on a PVP server, can't roll a DK on a server closed to transfers unless you've got a 55 there already, etc. All fair!
Before you ask why this feature wasn't implemented from the get-go, remember that it wasn't even very long ago that the developers were deciding "how is dk formed?" (though they did say that the restriction would be lifted soon after Wrath launched).
So fret not, ye oppressed. Soon, your chains (of ice) will be broken.
This morning, when we started receiving tips that the realms were coming back up early, I eagerly checked to see if my own realm was among those that had been brought up. I have some serious DK leveling to do (75 and my De-raged Waraxe has made the class even more fun). Of course, poor little Shadow Council was not up yet. I didn't want to keep reloading the realm status page, but I did want to know as soon as the server was up. What's a person to do?
Enter wowrealmstatus.net. It's a simple service: it sends you one email when your realm is brought up. (It can also be set to send you an email when your realm is brought down, or when its load is low, medium, or high, but I have yet to find a use for this functionality.) Enter your email, pick your realm from the menu, click the "Alert Me" button, and you're done. It only ever sends the one email; if you want another alert in the future, just set it up again then. Simple, effective, not annoying: a great web tool.
And if you didn't know already, your mobile phone almost certainly has an email address which translates to text messages (AT&T phones, for instance, are [phone number]@mobile.att.net, like firstname.lastname@example.org), so you can get alerts that way too, though your carrier will bill you for it if you don't have a text plan.
15 Minutes of Fame: The most untalented player - Tue, 13 Jan 2009 17:30:00 EST 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.
We admit to developing a soft spot for hard-headed, level-80-by-hook-or-crook metagamers like Noor the pacifist and Gweryc the melee Hunter. How can you resist this much sheer creative enthusiasm? These guys undercut their own characters just to see if they can manage without: without killing anything, without wearing any armor - and now, without training any talents.
Lithiumflowr of Bronze Dragonflight-EU started making plans for his second Hunter not long after dinging level 80 with his first. But this time, he had an investigation to conduct: At a time when epic-length forum threads split hairs over moving a single point between trees, what would be the effect of going 0/0/0? How could he compensate for a lack of talents? Could he compensate at all?
Evidently, he's compensating rather well. Lithiumflowr is humming right along, moving into Burning Crusade with an eye on level 80. He may be the most untalented player you've ever seen - but he's definitely no Huntard.
Another Tuesday, another maintenance. As much as I'd like to write something amusing here to entertain you on your slow, boring day, I've got nothin'. Bone dry. I'm like the freaking Shimmering Flats here. Well, you know, like the north parts. Not the south parts with that little lake. Just the dry stuff, people. ...Oh, screw it. Jamesisgreat asked...
Now I've hit level 80 and am looking at all the loot available to me as a feral druid, I've spotted a few of the PvP pieces that you can purchase with just honor. So my question is - where's the best place to grind honor nowadays? AV? Wintergrasp? Elsewhere?
Episode 7 of The Guild's second season is out now, and it should be out on Xbox Live and the Zune Marketplace soon, and it's revelations for everyone: Codex tackles some issues, and Zaboo and Vork end up learning a little something about themselves. And at the end of the episode, there's a new twist, which will probably end up being pretty timely to those of you who've been suffering on your own lately. Great show as always.
Forum post of the day: Serious business decisions - Tue, 13 Jan 2009 13:00:00 EST WoW has changed considerably over the years, often for the better and sometimes for the worse. Better and worse are, of course, a matter of perspective. Slovotsky of Turalyon is getting fed up with people complaining about the easing of raids. He's confident that Blizzard made the choice to lower the difficulty on raids because more of the player base can now have a chance to experience them. He disagrees that casual players have ruined the game. Familiarity may also lead to boredom. Some of the guilds that have progressed through Naxx have already done so either in the Pre-BC era or on the PTR.
As some pointed out, Blizzard is a for-profit business. The company's job is to sell a product, not to rule with a heavy hand or coddle the incompetent. The switch to an inclusive raiding environment was most likely a marketing decision. Caydence of Draka drove this point home, to rebut the argument that players will quit WoW because it's easier. It is simply a better business decision for Blizzard to alienate the "hardcore" players who make up a small minority. She suggested that the subscriber base has grown with each ease in difficulty.