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Illidan enters TCG play in Black Temple as Master Hero - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST

Mike Hummel at the official WoW Trading Card Game site posted some interesting teasers about the upcoming Black Temple expansion. Specifically, the man behind Papa Hummel's biscuits brings us news of the new, bad-mofo Master hero: Illidan himself.

Illidan's going to be a Master Hero. At first glance, they play like most any other card. They start off in your deck, and they get shuffled into your hand as normal. However, when you can afford the resources to bring Illidan into play, he replaces your existing hero. He starts off with same states and effects as the hero he replaces -- this includes any counters and damage, or other effects like Gouge.

Of course, folks on the TCG forums aren't entirely convinced of Illidan's uberosity. As Zubino points out, you have to wait at least until turn 11 to get him out. If you're stalling until turn 11, then you need a whole lot of other oomph in your deck to be able to prop up the card. Still, being able to call out a Traitor ally every round is a nice ability, and we can all hope to boost him up a little more with Warglaives. And don't forget -- 35 health is nothing to sneeze at in a Hero card.

The Master hero definitely brings another facet of play to the TCG, which is about more than just the loot cards. Of course, now I have to wonder who the next Master hero will be.

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Arthas novel to be released April 2009 - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST


Author Christie Golden has posted a little more information about the Arthas novel coming next year -- she lists the release date as April of 2009 (Arthas will probably still be alive then -- if "alive" is what he is now), and says that it'll be a nice hardback edition, which should be cool to see. She also says that while they were considering throwing a sample chapter in the BlizzCon goodie bag, all they were able to get in is a little postcard art of the book's cover. Too bad -- it would have been fun reading a little preview of the book while waiting in line to play, say, Diablo III.

And for the Starcraft fans, she's also got a Dark Templar book coming out a month after that, in May 2009. It was supposed to be out sooner, but apparently Arthas' book got pushed forward, and she had to switch up schedules a bit. So two good pieces of extended universe fiction for Blizzard's games to look forward to next year.

[via Blizzplanet]

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No Wrath without Burning Crusade - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 17:10:00 EST
We kind of already figured this (and who is really jumping into Northrend without first having finished up with Outland anyway?), but Datth has confirmed it on the forums: in order to install Wrath of the Lich King, you'll have to have Burning Crusade installed as well. Not a huge surprise, but just in case you were recruiting someone to come up to level 80 with you, make sure to tell them to buy all three versions of the game when Wrath comes out, because they'll need them.

The bigger question is: when will get a battlechest? It took about seven months for Blizzard to put Burning Crusade and World of Warcraft in the same box, but can we expect them to do it faster with Wrath of the Lich King? Probably not -- while the price may drop a bit on the current Battlechest (if you wanted to jump into the game the day of Wrath's release, it would cost you $70 total, and our guess is that that's about $10 more than Blizzard will end up charging), odds are that anyone getting in now would have to buy that and Wrath to play.

Of course, odds are that you've made up your mind about buying the expansion anyway. Anyone out there still playing with vanilla WoW? As much as Blizzard has been about skipping past all that 1-60 content as fast as possible, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they even tweaked the subscription pricing on that end to try and pull more people into buying the expansions. They already will let you try the game and first expansion for free, and you'd have to think eventually they'll try to convince the last few demographics holding out to join up as well.

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Collector's Edition and Blizzard Events items will become "Bound to Account" - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 16:40:00 EST
Jeff Kaplan a.k.a. "Tigole" announced today that the following items will become "Account Bound":

This is an interesting change to say the least. Blizzard will set this change in motion on the Beta first, and if everything goes smoothly it'll go live (no word if it will happen in Wrath of the Lich King or patch 3.0.2).

Kaplan notes that with this change Collector's Edition pets will no longer disappear when you put them into your pet spell book. The spell will still be added, but you will be able to send the pet item around to your other characters on your account.

He does point out that if you've already put your pet into the pet spell book, you won't be able to be refunded the pet on the beta. Of course, that does not apply to the live realms - since the pet spell book isn't implemented in live.

Continue reading Collector's Edition and Blizzard Events items will become "Bound to Account"

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Demonology 101: the Doomguard - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST
I have a confession to make. I don't know the Ritual of Doom. I guess I'm just not hardcore that way. I wish I did the quest chain, although after this post, I might actually make my way to the Blasted Lands and start it. I've actually died to the Ritual of Doom, so I know what fun I'm missing.

Anyway, here we go. The Doomguard is the last demon we'll discuss on Demonology 101. Lazy Warlocks such as myself can luck out on a Doomguard with Curse of Doom, our favorite spell on Netherspite. It's a fairly low percentage to spawn one, and Curse of Doom needs to deliver the killing blow on the mob... which can be a long wait considering the curse only deals damage at the end of one minute.

Continue reading Demonology 101: the Doomguard

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Skill Mastery: Savage Roar - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST

In Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard is clearly committed to ditching the "master of none" part of Druids' "Jack of all trades" for good. In particular, regarding the topic at hand, they're trying to ensure that Feral druids can be either first-rate DPS or first-rate tanks (though not with the exact same spec). And Savage Roar, I suspect, will be a big part of bringing that first-rate DPS for kitty form:

Savage Roar (Rank 1)
25 Energy, 100 yd range
Instant
Requires Cat Form
Finishing move that increases attack power by 40%. Lasts longer per combo point:
1 point : 14 seconds
2 points: 19 seconds
3 points: 24 seconds
4 points: 29 seconds
5 points: 34 seconds

Continue reading Skill Mastery: Savage Roar

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Get your Amani War Bear before it's too late - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST

Assuming the time table of Wrath of the Lich King's pre-patch and release will be similar to that of The Burning Crusade, we're probably looking at an early to mid October release with patch 3.0.2. The 2.0.1 patch hit on December 5th, 2006. The Burning Crusade went live January 16th, 2007. The gap was slightly over a month. Assuming Wrath makes its release date of November 13th, early October is a really safe bet. This means you have a little less than 30 days to finish the things that are going away when that patch hits. Specifically: Your Amani War Bear.

Whether your guild is on the cusp of getting their first bear or you're in the queue to get your turn (or even if you're looking to buy a bear from a raid group), time is short. Remember that Zul'Aman is only on a 3 day lockout, not 7 like most raids. Most groups only run the place once a week regardless, but you may want to consider rallying your raid to push for twice a week until patch 3.0.2 hits. You may only have 8 or 9 raid resets left before you're out of luck. I very strongly recommend WoW Insider's Zul'Aman Bear Run guide from our Jennie Lees if you just need to shave off those last few minutes.

Good luck, ladies and gentlemen. I hope to see many bear mounts in your future.

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Forum post of the day: I'm just not that into you - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST

Tymestryker of Aerie Peak is frustrated because players are leaving his guild. Despite his loyalty to the guild and the effort he's put into the guild, he's facing some significant churn. His guild, though apparently a friendly, social place lacks in endgame experience. He seems to be taking it personally that people are leaving for guilds in endgame progression. He feels that others should share his loyalty.

Many responders pointed out that heart only goes so far in World of Warcraft, but there's a lot more to the game. Most successful guilds have a purpose, maybe doing regular raids or being the best they can be at PvP. Some suggested that the original poster chose not to take the situation personally.

Continue reading Forum post of the day: I'm just not that into you

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WoW Moviewatch: A GM says goodbye to his guild - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

When you've been playing a game as long as World of Warcraft, it's easy to get burnt out and want to take a break. However, Kampftrinker seems to think he's going for the last goodbye. He released this homage to his friends, and guildmates at Kampftrinker Ironforge, as a way to share the memories with them.

While there's nothing particularly outstanding about this video, it's not horrible either. It serves to remind us that friendship is important, even if it's in an MMO. If you're interested in knowing what the end credit text says, check out his Warcraftmovies page.

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

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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BigRedKitty: Channeling Larry King - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 11:30:00 EST
Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.

Dear BigRedKitty,

WWWUUUAAAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!

Yours In Friendship,

The Non-WotLK Beta Hunter Community

P.S. WWWUUUAAGHHH!! Seriously.

So. Are you hunters suitably Wrath-Freaked yet? Now now, be honest. You've read articles, forums, and some bloggers. You've been skimming the talent lists, the spells, and the patch notes. And your world is spinning.

Aspect Mastery is nerfed! Lock and Load has been gutted! Did you see what they did to Expose Weakness! Cats got kneecapped! Too many pets! Sporebats don't suck? Where'd the crit go! Rogues can avoid Flares?! Haste is a Lie! A damn lie, I say!

Oh behave. We've been in the beta a long time, leveled as all three specs, tried just about every pet there is, had the game lock up due to lag in every zone available in Northrend, and we're still breathing.

So grab yourself a raspberry latte and come join us in a calm, cool discussion about what hunters are going to be doing in WotLK.

Continue reading BigRedKitty: Channeling Larry King

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Ask a Beta Tester: Murlocs, mounts, and minimaps - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST

You want mounts? We got mounts. Just waltz on through the intimidating portal above flanked by deadly drakonids, and they're giving em out like candy! Actually, no, I'm lying. Kind of. Locke asked...

Any word on new flying mounts or anything like that?


A little, but not a lot. We're not seeing a cornucopia of mounts yet. The ones we have seen are pretty cool, though. As I mentioned yesterday in my post on the Obsidian Sanctum, they're running with the design of Zul'Aman and offering mounts as special rewards from completing 'extra challenges' in raid zones.

The Obsidian Sanctum offers up a Black Drake Mount for completing the special challenge in the 10 man version, and it seems you get a Twilight Drake from the 25 man version, but I haven't seen that personally. Either way, these drakes are pretty hard to get, at least at first. They're not quite giving them out for nothing. Other colors of drake mounts have been datamined, but we haven't seen them drop yet.

For more answers to your beta questions, read on!

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Murlocs, mounts, and minimaps

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Around Azeroth: When I grow up - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST


Listen, kid, I think it's great that you want to be like your old man. I really do. But you need to think things through before committing to a career path. Do you want to have twenty-four other people calling you to complain if you're out sick for a day? Do you want to be blamed for every little thing that goes wrong at your job? And the repair bills. My God, the repair bills. That's part of the reason things didn't work out between me and your mom. She's a mage, she doesn't know what it's like to come home from a hard day at work forty gold in the hole. Oh, there she is. Is it five o'clock already? Have a good week, kiddo, and if you've still got this cockamamie tanking idea in your head next Saturday, I'll help you out with a spec. (Thanks to submitter Noor!)

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 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. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.

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Last Week on Massively: WoW-related stories - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST
This week's round up of WoW-related posts on our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe dominated by World of Warcraft. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.

A World of Warcraft player's guide to Warhammer Online
Whether or not you see many similarities between Blizzard's epically popular title and Mythic's Warhammer Online, the reality is that World of Warcraft players are going to feel very comfortable in the brand-new game.
Is WoW hitting a plateau?
Seems like a silly question with the imminent release of their second expansion just within our grasp, but over at Dailygame.net, they've speculated a bit on when that plateau might finally hit World of Warcraft.
Burning Crusade's quality delayed WAR, says Jacobs
While Warhammer Online is decidedly not trying to be World of Warcraft, a recent interview with EA Mythic's Mark Jacobs shows that they were at least influenced by the quality of WoW's The Burning Crusade.
Braid creator rips on WoW, talks artificial rewards and social gaming
In an interview with Gamasutra, game designer Jon Blow (who created the critically acclaimed Xbox Live Arcade game Braid) had a few things to say about World of Warcraft. His criticisms could be just as easily leveled against any Diku-based, WoW-like MMO.

Continue reading Last Week on Massively: WoW-related stories

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Breakfast Topic: Back to square one - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST


So I finally did it. I transferred my Hunter, once and for a long time my favorite character, from our original PvE realm to our new PvP home. It was the most excitement I've had about the game in a while. I giddily headed off to Hellfire Peninsula to begin journey to Level 70 before the arrival of Wrath. That giddiness rapidly turned to unease when, upon pulling, I realized that I had forgotten how to play a Hunter.

I mean, I know my CTRL-1 and my Aimed Shot, which was instinctive to me... but I fumbled around for my Scatter Shot, forgot which bars I had put my traps on, kept pulling aggro because I had forgotten to turn Growl on, and realized that I didn't have a single key bound to this character. As decent as I might have once been, I was now clumsy, slow, and had to -- shamefully -- click on my abilities. Whenever I had to feed my pet I needed to open my bags to select the food because I no longer had a macro for it. Whenever I pressed my mount key combo -- which was standard across my other characters -- I would Track Beasts instead. After two years of not playing a Hunter, I was back to being... a noob.

Have you ever had to start from square one? Are there characters you stopped playing for a long time and found that you'd forgotten how to play them? Or perhaps you took a long break from the game due to school or other RL concerns and started playing again only to get completely lost? I'm sure it's happened to all of us... right? Tell me I'm not the only noob in the house.

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Ghostcrawler announces upcoming DK changes - Wed, 17 Sep 2008 07:00:00 EST
For those of us who either are playing one in the beta or intend to play one when Wrath of the Lich King goes live, here's the list of upcoming changes to the Death Knight straight from Ghostcrawler.

The list is divided into DPS changes, tanking changes, DK buff changes and changes to the Runeforging system. Among the highlights, in Ghostcrawler's own particular idiom:

  • Ravenous Dead no longer affects Ghoul duration, but grants your rotting little buddy 60% more of your Str and Sta. (Stam goes from 30% of yours to ~50% of yours. Strength goes from 100% to 160%.)
  • Veteran of the Third War increased to 6/6/6 Str / Sta / Exp to match warriors.
  • Strikes that scale with diseases changed so that the weapon damage, not just the flat damage, scales with the disease.
  • No doubt many awesome small tweaks I am forgetting.

    AWESOME SMALL TWEAKS.
I'm sure those small tweaks will indeed be awesome. Go ahead and check out the full list to see if it piques your interest in all things dark and dangerous, all ghouls and death knight's stout, putrid, four and gangrenous, that dark and sinister lot.

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The Creamy GUI Center: Beginner Addons - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 22:00:00 EST


Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.

Welcome readers to this week's The Creamy GUI Center. With the expansion's release imminent and the new Recruit a Friend system creating buzz and attracting new and returning players, I thought this week we'd get back to basics with a look at addon essentials. Don't worry UI enthusiasts, in the coming weeks I'll be taking a look at more advanced addons, and what to expect from interface enhancements in Wrath. This week we'll look at addons that help new players and are considered "must haves." So if you're a new player or just want to take the first plunge into the addictive world of addons and UI enhancements, this one's for you.

Continue reading The Creamy GUI Center: Beginner Addons

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Guildwatch: It's not me, it must be you - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 21:00:00 EST


I don't think I've ever seen the fall of a guild as documented as Underscore is in Guildwatch this week -- someone has been taking screenshots aplenty of all the whispers going back and forth, and surprisingly, most of them have actually come from the guildleader of the guild in question. If you've ever wanted to see how a guild can fall apart from tell to tell, here's your chance.

That and lots more (including some actual good news) in Guildwatch this week, which starts right after the link below. Guild news is slowing down for Wrath, so please help us fill our inbox: send your downed, drama, and recruiting tips to wowguildwatch@gmail.com if you have them, so we can make sure the column is nice and packed next week. Thanks!

Continue reading Guildwatch: It's not me, it must be you

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Onyxia attunement to be lifted - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST


Valnoth announced today that with the return of King Wrynn in Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard will be removing the attunement necessary for Onyxia. In vanilla WoW, Ony was an achievement and many peoples first introduction to raiding in Warcraft. In Burning Crusade it was often ran as a quick way to make a buck or get a nice helmet for an alt.

Ony was one of the last, great old school attunements required in the game. With it gone, only Black Wing Lair and Molten Core remain as attunement required raids. This is a sad day for those of us that enjoyed the quest chain. A friend of mine and I were going to run this through on his Shaman and my up-and-coming Mage. Apparently we'll have to actually kick ourselves into gear and do it soon.

There is no indication if this change will come with WotLK or with patch 3.0.2. However the King returns in 3.0.2, so I would have to assume the attunement will be lifted then. It should be noted however, that Valnoth did say they would attempt to return the chain some day in the future. But we all know how that can go...

Thanks to Jarred for the tip!

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Patch 3.1 and beyond, a look at what's after Wrath - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST

We've got the hot pre-Wrath patch 3.0.2 coming soon, with the much-anticipated Wrath of the Lich King storming along in mid-November. But the game doesn't stop there. Blizzard's already planning for the time after Arthas stomps his kicky, icy little boots into Northrend. The big-MVP-on-campus Schwick has already started building his "what we know" thread for 3.1 and beyond.

I'll grant that what we know right now is a little slim, and doesn't include the myriad of buffs and nerfs we should expect after the expansion. Schwick -- and WoW Insider -- will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

For now, after Wrath releases, we're already expecting:

  • Icecrown Citadel -- A raid instance for groups to explore, this will be released after Wrath's initial live date.
  • A built-in Outfitter -- The ability to organize your gear in convenient, logical, and easy-to-swap functionality. Now you're in tank gear, and then one second later, now you're in DPS gear!
  • Guild Bank upgrades -- Better controls and organization for the often-ninja-plagued Guild banks.
  • Personally customized tabards -- The ability to create your own, personal tabard.

Of course, there's a lot of stuff on the "to-do" list that isn't necessarily going to be put in 3.1. Dance studios, cross-server chat functions, and account-based achievements, to name a few.

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Activision doing well, Blizzard has spent $200M in upkeep on WoW - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST
Activision Blizzard (the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment) held an Analyst's Day earlier this week (in which a bunch of stock analysts sit down to crunch numbers and predict the future), and they came out of it really well -- according to those in the know, Activision Blizzard is set to do very well in the future. Buoyed by Blizzard and their other big franchises (do we have to name them by now? Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, etc.), 99% of analysts give the stock a "Buy" or "Hold" rating, and many were impressed with what Activision told them about their releases in 2009.

And we got another interesting insight into just what kind of money Blizzard is looking at -- they reported on the call that since 2004, they've spent $200 million on the upkeep of World of Warcraft alone. That includes things like payroll, customer support, and hardware updates, of which there have been plenty of those. $200 million does seem like a lot, but of course when you consider just how much revenue they've pulled in via subscriptions (ten million players paying up to $15 a month, though Blizzard has all kinds of different subscription plans around the world), $200 million over four years isn't all that much.

We're told, though, that that money doesn't include any development costs (pre-release, and we're not sure if it includes patch/expansion development or not, either). And it certainly doesn't include Blizzard-wide costs, like their new HQ, or what they spend on advertising, promotion, and those big events held around the world. There's no question, however, that there's plenty of money coming both in and out of Blizzard's doors.

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