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All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a gnome - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 17:55:00 EST

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the fifth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Gnomes are probably the easiest race to roleplay in World of Warcraft. They have a strong (and mostly accurate) stereotype that people just get instantly, and there's a childlike "blank-slate" quality about them that means that they don't have to have complicated backstories.

In fact, you could define the gnomes as a race without a history to speak of. They are so very curious and inquisitive that they ask questions about everything, that they try to unravel any mysteries they encounter, and consider their personal life stories to be of little account. They've written tomes upon tomes on the inner workings of multi-polar data transfer relays and eletro-magnified parallel power circuits, but it never really occurred to them that they should write down the history of their species. They are a people always looking into the future, and whatever passes beyond the infinitely precious present becomes lost to them in the unseen reaches of the past -- out of sight, out of mind.

That's not to say they have no memory -- they make use of their superb memories in carefully constructing their world-renown masterpieces of technological craftsmanship! Rather, it would be better to say that their minds only serve up memories relevant to the inquiry at hand. So if the orcs paved through azeroth a while back and destroyed everything in their path, well that was bad and all but it was a long time ago and who wants to hold a grudge? If the monstrous troggs came from the bowels of the earth and destroyed their cherished technological city of Gnomeregan... well, they'd love to get it back, but it's no reason to be unkind or uncheerful!

Continue reading All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a gnome

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Ask a Lore Nerd: Your curiosity will be the death of you - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week Alex Ziebart answers your quests about the lore in the World of Warcraft. If you have any questions, no matter how big or small they might be, ask them in the comments section below and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

This edition of Ask a Lore Nerd is very heavy on the Scourge and various other Wrath-related questions. Love it or hate it, that's what we've got this week. I tried to dance around spoilers where possible this week, but starting next week the spoilers are gonna come rollin' in. There will be warnings, of course, but they'll be there. Just sayin'.

Meethan asked...

What are Liches raised from? When encountered, Liches have sorceror and somewhat necromatic powers. Can they be raised from anyone or must it be a mage? Would you consider Kel'thuzad to be "Lord of the Lich"?

As far as Kel'thuzad goes, I believe the title that was given to him is "Archlich." Almost all liches were raised from necromancers, warlocks and mages, though the Lich King pretty much does whatever the hell he wants and can raise other people as a lich if he really wants to do that. That's probably rare, because turning someone that isn't skilled at spellcasting into a being that is built for spellcasting would just be silly. The Burning Legion used to employ a lot of liches as well, but they lost most of them when the Scourge betrayed them.

Continue reading Ask a Lore Nerd: Your curiosity will be the death of you

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Forum Post of the Day: How do you like DEM clams? - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST

I love it when an amusing blue response to a forum post crops up, and this one made my day.

Earlier in the week, Ghostcrawler made a light-hearted and funny little post mimicking a Beta tester testing a talent tree that includes such gems as "Clever Banter" and "Sarcastic Yet Suspiciously Unfunny."

At the end of it, she announced that clams are becoming stackable items in order to cheer us all up.

As good-natured as all forum-goers are, the jokes surfaced about how amazing this change is, how it's going to crash the clam market, and how Blizzard is clearly pandering to casuals again.

In response, Ghostcrawler wrote up the product of a fictitious emergency developers meeting, held with the goal of bringing clam-related things to do for the hardcore.

I actually laughed out loud: this one is not to be missed.

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WoW Radio runs CoT: Stratholme - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST

Our good friends at WoW Radio have continued their beta instance-running ways -- previously, they've taken runs through Utgarde Keep and The Nexus, and after a short break (they're busy folks, pushing out great radio 24/7), they've done a run through CoT: Stratholme, viewable right there if you want to see it.

We should warn you that there are spoilers, of course, and personally, I think I might not watch the whole thing -- I'd kind of rather experience the Culling of Stratholme on my own. But for those of you willing to take the plunge with the WoW Radio folks, enjoy. We hear there is some good lore commentary going on, and there's even a bug where, Totalbiscuit tells us, "all Gnome females are default naked." Shudder.

Yeah I think I will pass, actually. But if you do choose to press play, enjoy the video.

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LOL Abuse in patch 3.0.2 - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST

The new achievement system that will be introduced with the 3.0.2 patch is going to make this game a bit more interesting. People will begin to do things just so they can have the achievement. In my opinion, this is great. It extends the game play and gives everyone something more to 'achieve.'

What is not great in the eyes of some is the potential and actual abuse from the system that will result.

Take for instance what happened when I created simple macro that did /lol, and spammed it for 60 seconds. I got a nice number of 258 "Total times LOL'd" written down in my achievements page, right there for everyone to see. This just opens up the door for abuse of the worst kind - lol abuse.

What do I mean by lol abuse?

Continue reading LOL Abuse in patch 3.0.2

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WoW Moviewatch: Devour - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

(Warning: This machinima apparently contains some spoiler elements for the game F.E.A.R.)

Inspired by Baron Soosdon, first time machinimator, Buzz Dawson, learned to make machinima in just three days with not only World of Warcraft, but also F.E.A.R. He even bought the editing program, Sony Vegas 9, just for this project, which is quite ambitious for an inaugural effort. The result of his educational experiment, Devour, a music video for the song by Shinedown, isn't a literal interpretation, employs creative use of the L70ETC character models, and contains some great cut scenes.

While I wish WoW was featured a bit more prominently, for a new effort, this is fantastic. The aspect ratio doesn't jump, the characters don't randomly fade in and out, and the transitions are fairly smooth. What say you, (constructively) critical commenters?


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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Skill Mastery: Haunt - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST

When Blizzard started work on the Warlock class for Wrath of the Lich King, I imagine one of their goals was to make the underrated Affliction tree viable for raiding. Unstable Affliction was a great spell for PvP, but anyone specced deep enough for it wouldn't have Soul Link and thus were practically free kills in the Arena format. In raids, it was a wasted spell because most mobs and bosses don't dispel. It also had a cast time that ate into the Warlock's spell cycle. It was a great spell on paper, but lost a lot of luster in practice.

Now along comes Haunt, the 51-point talent in the Affliction tree. It's a direct damage spell that applies a 12 second debuff that increases the damage of the Warlock's DoTs on the target by 20%. In addition, at the end of the debuff's duration or if it's dispelled, it heals the Warlock for 20% of the damage it dealt. It's a nice effect but the amount healed is rather negligible so I hope that aspect of the spell gets tweaked some more before it goes live.

Continue reading Skill Mastery: Haunt

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New PvP title and mount - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 10:30:00 EST

Tigole announced a slight change to PvP Achievements and excited more than a few people -- myself included -- by noting that players who complete the Achievements For The Horde! and For The Alliance! will be rewarded a Black War Bear. Players who manage to reach the respectable 100,000 Honorable Kill plateau will unlock the 'of the Horde' and 'of the Alliance' titles. Currently in Beta, slaying four enemy faction leaders award the title while getting 100k HK gave no rewards.

While the Amani War Bear will be unattainable when Patch 3.0 hits, but it seems like there might just be a replacement -- will guilds be organizing these new 'bear runs'? I certainly hope so. I was never a fan of the Amani War Bear, or bears as mounts in general, but a PvP mount that rewards killing all four of the opposing faction's leaders? Oh man. Where do I sign up? I certainly hope that the mount will sport a different, non-troll armor model as well as faction insignias and the requisite reds or blues. These new bear mounts might just be incentive enough to get players to raid enemy cities and, hopefully, get to 100k HK along the way.

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Around Azeroth: A voyeur's guide to Maraudon - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST

Flashdance! What a feeling! While dragging his alt druid through Maraudon, John found this hidey-hole behind a leaf with a wonderful view of a luminous flower. All it was missing was a willing performer. So John logged onto his wife's blood elf (of course) priest and brought her in for a little private dance on the flowery stage. I hope you used the time to get her some items, John, or she's going to be pretty upset to find herself in a bikini in the middle of an instance next time she logs on.

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing 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. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.

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Tailoring additions in 8902 - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST

Some interesting things got added for tailoring in the latest LK beta build. Tailoring is the first production profession I got to 375, and although I'm angry at the Primal Mooncloth set for having no stamina which causes me to die all the time, the profession still holds a special place in my heart.

Particularly interesting is A Guide to Northern Cloth Scavenging, which is a tailoring recipe that seems to give the tailor an increased chance to get cloth drops in Northrend. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I'll certainly be glad to get my hands on it.

The other additions came in the form of several sets. The Frostsavage items aren't really a set as of yet, in that they don't have a set bonus, but otherwise they're similar to BC's Imbued Netherweave set. Blue quality, BoE, level 80, relatively cheap mats, decent stats to fill in spots where you haven't found anything good from a quest. Eight pieces of Frostsavage are available.

Continue reading Tailoring additions in 8902

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Sunday Morning Funnies: Shover of kids - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 08:30:00 EST
Our list of WoW-related web comics this week is longer than usual, and includes a Penny Arcade comic strip that had the WoW Insider staff cracking up.


Humor with a storyline

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Naxxramas gone from Plaguelands in 3.0.2 - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 02:00:00 EST
You've already heard that the Amani War Bear is disappearing from the live servers ahead of schedule in 3.0, but here's one more thing for you to hurry up on: 40-man Naxxramas. As of now on the 3.0 PTR, Naxxramas is gone from Eastern Plaguelands.

The whole of the Eastern Plaguelands has already changed, in fact. When you open your map, you can already see Archerus looming ominously over Light's Hope chapel and the remains of the Scarlet Crusade's holdings in Eastern Plaguelands. As a result, the entire map has shifted, but I still combed the Plaguewoods looking for the entrance to Naxxramas.

Due to the map shifting, the old locations for Naxxramas are rather off. At the original location coordinates for Naxxramas stands one of the old ruined villages that dot the area. The area where Naxxramas used to be relative to that Scourge ziggurat on the map is now marked by a plague cauldron. Regardless, It looks like the entrance is gone. Come 3.0, it looks like Naxxramas will have retreated to Northrend, and we'll have to bide our time before we can follow it.

So if you've been waiting on getting those last few splinters, or you've been thinking about picking up a Corrupted Ashbringer or what have you, you'd better get on it fast. When the 3.0 leaves the PTR and goes to live servers, 40-man Naxxramas will be gone indefinitely.

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Patching behavior and another download - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 01:30:00 EST
The PTR patch that is applied when you download and install the PTR Patch 3.0.2 files will create a completely new copy of WoW for itself, taking up approximately 7.46 Gigabytes of space. For those of us running Windows Vista, the files are stored in the location C:\Users\Public\Games\World of Warcraft Public Test. This follows Vista style guidelines set by Microsoft. We saw this same "new" behavior with the 2.4 patch files, when they saved themselves into a directory outside of the World of Warcraft program files.

This PTR patching process has other odd behavior right now. When you start to patch the actual game, you'll be able to watch your system resources shoot up. I'm running a very nice laptop where I typically get between 50 and 65 frames a second in raids. The patching ground my computer to a virtual stand-still. This behavior has been reported by others. The patching program decided to use nearly every ounce of CPU power it could. This might be "working as intended" - but it is certainly something that could work better.

Continue reading Patching behavior and another download

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PTR 3.0.2 Patch Notes - Sun, 14 Sep 2008 00:30:00 EST
Patch 3.0.2 will bring with it major changes to the way the game is played, all in preparation for Wrath of the Lich King. Mechanics for virtually all aspects of game-play will change somewhat, and all classes will get new talent trees and spells. The patch notes are long and extensive, and they're not even done.

The notes give a clear warning "The current patch notes are incomplete, but will be progressively more comprehensive in each patch." Things are not done. Indeed, these notes even go on to mention that Blizzard is still modifying and balancing the classes.

Read below after the break for the complete PTR 3.0.2 patch notes. Sit back with a drink and read over them all, it's going to be an interesting patch!

Continue reading PTR 3.0.2 Patch Notes

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The Colosseum: Apox, Warlock - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 22:00:00 EST
The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.

Last week, we talked to Ryzer, who is a member of an unorthodox 3v3 Arena team. In that bracket, it's not uncommon to see Warlocks and it's not uncommon to Druids. What is much less common, however, is the Two Warlock, One Druid makeup of SUPER CUTIE FEAR SQUAD. (The caps are theirs, not mine.) In a bracket of Arena often reserved for Rogue-teams (including the feared Rogue-Mage-Priest composition), the over-time based gladiators have achieved the 10th ranking on their battlegroup.

After Ryzer's interview, several folks dropped me a line wanting to know more about this team. The good news is that Apox was also able to interview with your intrepid WoW Insider staff. Check out what he had to say behind the cut.

Continue reading The Colosseum: Apox, Warlock

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Patch 3.0 PTR round-up - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 21:00:00 EST

The public test realm has just gone live, and if you've got any characters on it (or if you'd like to go copy some), you can head on over to enjoy all of the patchtastic frivolity likely to descend sometime soon.

In case you're catching up to the rest of us, patch 3.0 is another large content patch specifically designed to transition the player base to the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King. We won't be seeing Death Knights or Northrend (or at least, we're pretty sure we won't, unless they're planning on a big surprise). We will be seeing all of the 1-70 class changes, new features added to the default UI, barbershops, Inscription, a raid buff system overhaul, and more, in addition to four European servers closing due to Russian player migration. Read on for a quick guide to what you can expect:

Continue reading Patch 3.0 PTR round-up

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Blizzard seeks PTR feedback - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 20:30:00 EST
If you're testing on the PTR to try and determine what changes patch 3.0.2 have on your character, take some time and give some feedback on these specific issues. Blizzard is specifically asking folks to note if they've lost any abilities they should have or gained ones they shouldn't, if the new token panel is functioning correctly, if mounts and pets are being properly learned from their respective items, if all of your bags and bank slots are working properly, and if you're gaining all of the Achievements you should have.

So, please help our blue overlords determine that everything is working smootly for the launch of 3.0.2 so that we don't all end up with abilities we shouldn't have or tokens lost in the ether. I would, but beta testers aren't able to.

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Tank Talk: should the main tank position still exist? - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST

Tank Talk is WoW Insider's raid-tanking column, promising you an exciting and educational look at the world of getting the stuffing thrashed out of you in a 10- or 25-man raid. The column will be rotated amongst Matthew Rossi (Warrior/Paladin), Adam Holisky (Warrior), Michael Gray (Paladin), and myself (Druid). Our aim is to use this column to debate and discuss class differences, raid-tanking strategies, tips, tricks, and news concerning all things meatshieldish. Today, dear readers, we might make ourselves hated by the entire population of undisputed, royal-bloodlined, main tanks, but that's OK. We are used to staying at the top of someone's hate list.

One of the accepted facts of raiding life used to be that the main tank was the guild's gearing priority. As Adam Holisky's observed, "Everything that happens in the raid eventually makes it back to the tank." Healers undergeared? You're screwed. DPS incompetent or just badly grouped? Buh-bye. Random number generator wreaking all manner of havoc on healer crits and boss parries? Thar be the graveyard. A truly cynical mind would opine that the tank should be as well-geared as possible if only because it makes it easier for the raid to forget that person existed as anything other than a rapidly-advancing line on the Omen screen that: a). always stayed above their own, and b). never died. There are enough random variables while the raid's learning a new boss that the tank needs to be eliminated as one, and in vanilla WoW that was certainly the goal. Raid and offtank damage on most encounters hadn't scaled to the point where you could make a compelling argument in favor of gear equilibrium across your tanking roster. What was the point of something like that when 95% of the damage in a fight was going to be absorbed by a single person?

That changed.

Continue reading Tank Talk: should the main tank position still exist?

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Bug prevents beta testers from participating in the PTR - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 19:35:00 EST
Blue poster Tyren made an announcement on the PTR forums this afternoon that those of us who have an account in the Wrath of the Lich King beta cannot participate in the 3.0.2 PTR. This is most unfortunate news for the numerous people in that situation.

If you have more than one account, your second account could probably work with the PTR (assuming it is not enrolled in the beta). I haven't been able to test this yet with my other accounts, but will update this post when I get the chance to.

Tyren does say that they are working to resolve the issue, and that it should be fixed early next week. In my opinion, it can't be resolved fast enough.

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Best. Guild. Application. Ever. - Sat, 13 Sep 2008 19:30:00 EST
I've only ever written two guild applications, but I used to pride myself on writing a damn good one, the sort of application you might see written by the manager of a successful hedge fund, or possibly Mother Teresa. So I had my doubts when tipster Roflharris wrote in to tell us that a friend of his, MsFahrenheit of Sylvanas-EU, had submitted what was possibly the best guild application of all time to Anointed, but it's completely true. You'd have to try pretty hard to top this fully-animated, written and visual joke-infested riot. I just about died when he hit the part about how he got class leader and what attempts on Kalecgos were like.

MsFahrenheit applied as a resto Druid and it looks like he was accepted, not that I would have expected anything less. There's not much more I can say apart from please see this; you'll be glad you did. Just so you know, it takes about 6 minutes to play from start to finish.

(A non-audio version is here if you absolutely must, but the audio version is funnier).

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