Twice a week, our writers will tell you more about themselves, and let you get to know them and the characters they play a little better. Click here to read moreAbout the Bloggers.
What do you do for WoW Insider?
I'm a regular blogger. Right now, I'm the chronically late co-writer for Know Your Lore, the paladin column The Light and How to Swing It, and the rogue column Encrypted Text. I swear to Thrall there will finally be a new KYL this week. I also contributed to Arcane Brilliance for a short time until I realized that I don't really like playing a mage. I used to do a lot of short pieces on the forums and social aspects of WoW, but due to a new work schedule, those have decreased in recent months.
What's your main right now?
Right now, I have no main. Kelstar, the troll rogue pictured above, was my first character and the only one I've seriously raided on. I recently leveled a blood elf protadin, Sandinista, and am in the process of building up an undead affliction warlock, Sabra. All these characters are on Magtheridon-US. Yes, I am fully aware that my gear, rep, spec, appearance and entire being suck, so don't bother to look up my characters and tell me that. Most recently, I've been working on a new class, faction and server -- Mehitabel is my lowbie night elf druid on Warsong. WTS Blood Elf Bandit Mask plz.
We've heard quite a few times before that WoW can help you on the job, but I don't know that I've ever seen the roles detailed so clearly. Josh says the Main Tank is the outside communications person for the project, and fends off managers and other departments to make sure members can get their jobs done. The Main Healer keeps motivation up rather than hit points, and make sure everyone stays on task and working. And the DPS are the meat of the project, doing the day-to-day damage to accomplish objectives. The idea works pretty darn well, actually-- at least until your project manager starts taunting the CEO and your senior producer stays up late one night and catches aggro. But definitely an interesting read if you've ever been given the task of running a team of people, in or out of game.
First of all, let me state that the daily quests from phase one were still available on the PTR even after the Sanctum was taken from the Wretched. The names and quest text are a little different to reflect the changed state of the Isle, but the quest objectives and rewards remain exactly the same. It should be safe to assume that this trend will continue throughout every stage of the Shattered Sun Offensive.
WoW-Europe.com offers up some Valentines Day fun today, showing off the winners of their Valentine's Day art contest, as well as offering a free Valentine's Day e-card to send to your sweetie.
Interestingly enough, a lot of the winners seem to have had Murlocs on their minds. Not exactly the most romantic Warcraft race that I can think of, personally. Well, I suppose a bouquet of Murloc Heads to a sweetie who's been killed by them one too many times could technically be a pretty romantic gesture. You know, in a "I will crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and let you hear the lamentation of their womenfolk" way. Do Murlocs even have womenfolk? I suppose they must, considering how many of them there are.
Anyway, check them out, and have a happy Valentine's Day!
New WoTLK zone Grizzly Hills now previewing on the main WoW site - Thu, 14 Feb 2008 16:55:00 EST We have some awesome WoTLK news for you today, as Blizzard has just updated their site with a preview of the Grizzly Hills, a Northrend zone that will adjoin the Howling Fjord. Not only are there some really beautiful screen shots, but there's a video with a fly-through tour of parts of the zone, show casing what look to be Human, Orcish, and Furbolg settlements.
The zone will be the home of the Grizzlemaw Furbolgs, a peaceful tribe that is currently arming for war due to encroachment by trappers and the goblin Venture Company, as well as an invasion by the undead Drakkari Ice Trolls (Who are listed on the Beastiary page, although still grayed out).
Not only does the zone look amazing, but it sounds like there's going to be a lot of great lore and story to go with it as well. It's good to see an old nemesis return in the form of the Venture Company, whom we really haven't seen much of since Stranglethorn Vale, and hopefully we'll have one more Furbolg tribe to ally with in the Grizzlemaw. It's also mentioned that they worship a giant bear that roams the wilderness, which feels like it could lead to a bit of new lore for druids as well perhaps, especially if the bear is related to Ursoc and Ursol somehow. Finally, the Drakkari Ice Trolls seem to have gone the same way as the Mossflayers, and it should be interesting to find out how they fell.
World firsts on the PTR - Thu, 14 Feb 2008 16:31:00 EST So here's the question: Do PTR world first kills count? MMO Champion has done a great job of following along with world firsts in the Sunwell on the PTR, and Vis Maior, an Alliance guild on Bonechewer has done most, if not all, of them-- they were the documented first to topple Kalecgos, Brutallus, and Felmyst (Forgotten Heroes and our old friends in Death and Taxes are also among the first boss downers on the PTR). But do kills on the PTR count as world firsts, or do the kills need to happen on live realms before they're considered world firsts?
Now, I know lots of you readers don't care about world first kills anyway (and you've got a point-- the only down that matter is the one you do with your guild), but lots of players believe there is value in being the first guild in the game to down a boss, and certainly the best guilds in the world work really hard for that honor. But technically, a boss isn't really "done" until it reaches the live realms. Then again, it usually isn't "done" yet anyway even after that.
Personally, I don't think they do count, which is one reason why we haven't yet reported them on this site. I have to applaud Vis Maior and the other guilds for their hard work, and I'm definitely impressed by what they've done, but this content isn't done yet, and in terms of documenting who got there first, my opinion is that we need to wait until after the bosses hit the live realms. You readers disagree?
Hunters have it easy. They get a pet to hang around with and keep them company. They don't get hit that often (or at least for very long, one way or the other), and they have one of the best ways to shake off foes in the game. Furthermore, and most tellingly, Hunters can pretty much get to the level cap without ever working in a group or running a dungeon. It's our blessing and our curse, our boon and our bane. We have a built in tank that we can heal, and we're our own DPS support. What this means is that we can reach the heights of leveling in a multiplayer game, without once needing to play with multiple players.
A problem for hunters often comes there: a level 70 character is often expected to know how to do things in a group, with multiple players. And many a hunter has gone into a level 70 instance as their first dungeon run, resulting in less than optimal outcomes.
In this column, which I'll be sharing duty with one of my colleagues here at WoW Insider, I'll be discussing the Hunter class from the ground up, from a casual point of view. Starting from level 1 and going all the way to the level cap, I'll share my experience and advice, and ask for yours as well. For new hunters, I hope this column will let you avoid some stereotypical mistakes Hunters make. For old hunters, I hope this column will let you point out my shortcomings, offer your own advice, or notice some of your own.
A physical limit on bag space - Thu, 14 Feb 2008 15:31:00 EST Just the other day, Adam suggested that more bag space was always a good thing, but now Drysc tells us that's not exactly true-- even though 20-slotters are more common than ever, Blizzard has no plans to let us replace the normal 16-slot backpack anytime soon. And the reason he cites is interesting: it has nothing to do necessarily with ingame limits, but more to do with out-of-game limits. WoW has 10 million players, and if each one of those players has easily 10 alts average and each alt has a bunch of 20-slot bags and even more items in the bank, then pretty soon you're starting to talk real amounts of physical computer memory.
We don't know what that limit is (and of course it depends on how Blizzard stores their information), but Drysc tells us that it's there. And that also gives you a little hint into just how huge their operation is-- nobody else has even come close to dealing with the problem of handling inventory and stats information for ten million players and countless numbers of characters. But Drysc says Blizzard is working on it as always-- despite the technical headaches, we may see bigger backpacks soon.
Gamers on the Street logs into U.S. servers to get the word from the front on what's going on in and around the World of Warcraft.
When we logged onto Aerie Peak to visit with players for this week's installment of Gamers on the Street, we thought we'd be in for a nice chat about patch 2.4, The Sunwell Isle. But that's not exactly what we got. It's not as if there weren't players to talk to. At prime time on this heavy-load server, there was plenty of hustle and bustle in the major cities. In fact, there was more activity than usual. But it wasn't an infusion of energy from reading about the new content now being tested on the PTRs that inspired all this activity: love was in the air.
We gave up trying to make direct contact with players after being soundly ignored by an award-winning streak of more than 20 Horde players, all intent on curing their broken hearts. Most of the players who replied to a general query for their impressions on the patch reports responded with a question of their own: "Hey man, I heard about that patch thing. What exactly is gonna be in there?" In desperation, we finally shot a whisper to the lovely young troll who had been pelting us with rose petals for the past five minutes. She was generous enough to share her thoughts on what was ahead - and her rose petals cheered us up long enough to finish surveying several other players. Thus, we bring you this week's word on the street - such as it is - of what's on players' minds about the upcoming patch.
Totem Talk is the column for Shamans. Matthew Rossi not only plays a shaman, he's come to appreciate their presence even when he's playing one of his other characters. That's his ridiculously mustached human warrior (who is still wearing a green belt to tank in SSC) next to one of the raid-saving shamans.
It can at times be easy to forget why we rolled a shaman in the first place. Sometimes it seems shamans are overlooked and underplayed, and its fair to say that the last year hasn't been the kindest to the class. With all this negativity and upset, it's fair to say that sometimes shamans must feel like there's no point to playing their class at all. So here I am to tell you that, while shamans may indeed have suffered (especially in PvP) over the past year, they're still incredibly viable in PvE, and if anything I wish we had more of them.
We've talked before about the shaman as a pinch hitter or panic button class, and these are both functions that they do excel at. But in running the 10 and 25 man instances, another aspect of shaman versatility is their broad array of totems and abilities - there's almost always a situation where a totem, a shock or a special ability like Heroism can help immensely with an encounter. I know having the ability to cycle in shamans to our DPS groups for heroism made a huge difference in our Tidewalker and Lurker kills, as well as finding the particular strength of Chain Heal very, very useful when a group of us are trying desperately to keep those murlocs tanked. Furthermore, I personally love having an elemental shaman in my group taking care of the priest add on Fathom-Lord Karathress, not only due to the damage they can inflict (and having seen it, I have had to re-evaluate my understanding of elemental shaman DPS - it's much, much better than I'd believed when geared properly) but due to their ability to buff not only their own DPS but the healer's healing at the same time with Totem of Wrath and Wrath of Air as well as being able to interrupt the heals after a tidal surge.
"We can dance/ We can dance/ Wearin' the Safety Pants!"
Engineering is a dangerous line of work. At every turn there's caustic chemicals, grinding machinery, explosive reagents, angry law enforcement officials, disgruntled fire brigades, out of control dragonlings, and steam tonks running amok. Many an Engineer has lost track of a finger or two from time to time, and many others have put considerable research, born of necessity, into the design of prosthetic limbs to offset such professional risk.
But there's no need for such damage to occur to a right-thinking Engineer. While we're no great hand (or hoof) at stitching together many garments, there exist plenty of items which can be worn not only for protective purposes, but also great aesthetic effect. Herein, we will discuss the varieties of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, available to Engineers, with an eye to not only safety, but fashion.
Head Protection: You'll shoot your eye out, kid. Headgear is where we'll start with this lecture, as it's the part of your PPE gear you're likely to be able to make yourself. Of course the signature of the Engineer's look has long been thought to be the goggles. This is the easiest part of the PPE ensemble to obtain. A monocular goggle is better than nothing at all, but any number of goggles exist which provide better coverage as well as better utility. Remember, always keep your head on a swivel, and keep that swivel calibrated to within acceptable limits of swivelocity.
For those Engineers who are unwise Goblin enough to be unconcerned with the eyes, there is also the pair of Foreman's Helmets: the Enchanted version for spell slingers, and the Reinforced version for mail wearers. Even the most staunch M.E.G.A. member must admit that the head is also important, though some Taurens in the workshop have never quite understood the need to protect their already well-protected (and some say solid bone) heads. The production of the Foreman's Helmets is left to those of you who are members of G.E.E.K. Hoof and Horn, as ever, disavows all knowledge, responsibility, or even vague understanding of the Goblin Engineer's craft.
The good news just keeps on coming as Patch 2.4 is shaping up to be one incredibly sweet patch. Following the news of what might just be the coolest non-combat pet -- aside from the Pet Bombling, imho -- the Phoenix Hatchling, it appears that Kael'thas drops even more amazing stuff like the new Swift White Chocobo Hawkstrider. The model for the Swift White Hawkstrider has been in the files for quite some time now, and former speculation was that it was the PvP reward mount similar to Red Skeletal Warhorses or Black War Kodos. However, according to MMO Champion -- which has been on a massive roll uncovering the sweet loot hidden in Patch 2.4 -- the mount drops off Kael'thas in Heroic Magister's Terrace.
The new patch is shaping up to be very casual-friendly, as the vanity items such as the phoenix pet and this bragging-rights mount both drop from the 5-man instance (albeit in different modes), something that all players can reasonably aspire towards. Mount aficionados can now add this to their wish list along with (if they don't already have it) Zul'Aman's Amani War Bear or the Druid epic quest boss bonus drop Reins of the Raven Lord. The bad news is that these Hawkstriders can't support the heft of Tauren or Draenei, so players dreaming of cows on chickens will have to keep on dreaming.
Well Fed Buff: Tender Wolf Steak - Thu, 14 Feb 2008 13:00:00 EST Every Thursday, Well Fed Buff will be serving up the tastiest dishes to boost your HP and stats, just in time for your weekend gaming.
Almost every cook in Azeroth knows the recipe for Tender Wolf Steaks by heart. After all, many of us made the final push to 300 cooking skill by making them over and over and over and over again. But really, while there's nothing wrong with a good spice rub, sometimes you want to try something else. My version of Tender Wolf Steak uses some of the rarest ingredients in all of Azeroth and beyond to produce a mouth-watering marinade that's sure to please.
By the way, for cooks outside of Azeroth making this, be sure to check the translation key at the end of the recipe to find the real world equivalents to our ingredients!
(UPDATE: Videos are now under the jump. On this special day dedicated to love, I've chosen not one, but two videos! Both are NSFW, but sum up Valentine's Day perfectly. They contain pixel nudity and adult content. You've been warned.)
The first video was recommended by #machinima on Quakenet (IRC). "First of May" centers around what to do with your special friends when Spring arrives. The machinimator, Mike "Spiff" Booth, recreates Jonathan Coulton songs set in World of Warcraft, with the most popular being Code Monkey, another love song.
Thanks to tipster Panagiotis of <Horde Hit Squad> (EU-Mazrigos-A), and to valiant PTR testers, we now know where patch 2.4's new non-combat Phoenix Hatchling pet can be found: it drops from Kael'thas, in Magister's Terrace. This is kind of cute if you think about it, since the version of Kael'thas in the Eye drops the Ashes of Al'ar. Big Kael'thas, big phoenix; little Kael'thas, little phoenix. According to MMO-Champion, it drops it normal mode, but not in Heroic. If you need any help with your normal-mode Kael'thas strategy, check out this video. Still unknown is what the drop rate is. I'd guess pretty low, as these "frill" items tend to be that way (Baron's mount, anyone?).
Player Gruelon of the Shadows & Dust guild on the Garona server saw something amiss with this holiday wreath. While traveling through Silvermoon City he came across the scene above outside the entrance to the Royal Exchange Auction House. He suspects some hooligan gnomes were up to no good in Silvermoon City. No love for Blood Elves, it seems.
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.
If you want a quick rundown of how to play through Blizzard's Valentine's Day quests, you can check out our Sex in the Undercity feature from last year, or hit up WoWWiki's great guide to the holiday. Today's the big day-- are you getting something nice for your sweetie, ingame or in RL? Call me a grump (and put me in the same column as J. Geils), but even I can see that love is in the air. Have a happy Valentine's Day!
Happy Valentine's Day! Even in WoW, love is in the air. The heart of this unexplained in-game phenomenon is a popularity contest between the faction leaders. Players can vote for their choice by turning in a Horde or Alliance Gift Collection near their favorite leader. The winner of the contest gets the pleasure of havingKwee Q. Peddlefeet around for a week of hit point buffs for anyone audacious enough to /kiss him.
Many of us will be forgoing our Azeroth adventures in favor of spending time with the objects of our affections. Some couples will share special in-game moments with their significant others. May I suggest a Bouquet of Red Roses and some Delicious Chocolate Cake for your sweetheart? We would love to hear your stories of love and romance in WoW.
Bornakk revealed a welcome bit of future patch info on the general forums recently, announcing that there is an incoming improvement on a future 2.4 update that should lower arena queuing times across the board. This is definitely welcome news for many of us, although those who counted on getting chores done during the queue might get a little disappointed!
We've heard in the past that blizzard didn't want to rush in to any quick fixes and was considering the queue time issue carefully, so hopefully that means they've found a solution that will stick. Thus far, aside from the occasional mishap from a sneaky warlock and the lack of certain expected class changes, they seem to have had a smooth and well received patch on their hands.
While some people were asking for a hot fix in the thread, Bornakk assured them that the change was complicated enough that needed a patch. Being someone who often ends up running his 2v2s on Saturday or Sunday evening and experiences queue times that sometimes climb to 10 minutes or more, I'd say the wait will be worth it if it means I don't have to wait around quite so long in the future. Faster queue times, at the least, mean I can fit another daily or two in.
Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.
With the current furore over patch 2.4, one may be hard-pressed to keep up with the latest news and developments, especially if you've got raid/ work/ school schedules to keep to and tax forms to struggle with. Ultimately, few of us really read through the patch notes line-by-line, often just skimming for parts that matter to us. As warlocks, we'd naturally be concerned with how patch 2.4 affects us - are we nerfed or buffed? Can warlocks ever not cause the world to end?
Allow this intrepid columnist to dive into the murky depths of patch 2.4, to surface with hopefully some pearls of wisdom that answer the hundred-dollar question: What does it mean for me?
For really busy warlocks, 2.4, in a nutshell, is a buff in terms of group and raid utility for warlocks.