Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week blogger and columnist Alex Ziebart answers your questions about the lore and history of the World of Warcraft. Ask your questions in the comments section below, and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.
Welcome back! This week we're mostly tilted toward Scourge questions, whereas just a few of weeks ago we were all dragons, all the time. Things just happen that way, I don't plan it! Really! Anyway, let's get this party started.
Promethus asked... Does anyone actually know that Arthas merged with Ner'zhul? Any NPCs that is. Because there was no one besides those of the Legion like the Dreadlords and Kil'jadean who knew that the original Lich King was armor on a pedestal, everyone else like Thrall, Jaina, Rhonin, Bolvar, Wrynn, just know that Arthas was the one who marched to Icecrown and came back only to spread the plague and kill his father. No one but the player actually saw him walk up Icecrown Citadel and shatter Ner'zhul's prison.
It's a phenomenal time to be a Paladin these days. Let's face it, no matter how we spec, we're actually wanted all throughout Northrend. As Holy, we've got spots in parties, raids, and refreshingly even Arena teams of any bracket. As Retribution, we're actually sought after in groups and -- paired with the right teammates -- can actually shine in Arenas, too. Protection Paladins are just about the best tanks in the game right now, even in raids, what with all trash being AoE'd to kingdom come.
Patch 3.0.8 has a few changes that should boost us and balance us in some areas. One big change is how Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Avenging Wrath cannot be used within 30 seconds of each other anymore, and the removal of Forbearance from Avenging Wrath once again. This reworks the quick fix post 3.0 where Retribution Paladins were devastating opponents with wings and a bubble. It wasn't the most elegant solution and hurt Paladin tanking about as much as it toned down Retribution dominance in PvP. With Patch 3.0.8, Paladin tanks can look forward to frontloading massive threat comfortable with the thought that Divine Protection is a mere thirty seconds away. Furthermore, Divine Protection no longer has a penalty, making it nearly identical to a Warrior'sShield Wall. That's right, Tankadins get even better.
Strat guides for Wrath bosses come in all shapes and sizes. From a quick list of encounter highlights to PhD dissertations complete with graphs, charts, spell rotations and timed movements. Then there's this guide to the Sartharion fight from the guild <My Little Pwnies>. It illustrates positioning of the Obsidian Sanctum fight using, well, stuffed animals as visuals.
As you can see from the image above, the guide writer used a bear tank, two cat druids, a Moonkin and a Resto druid, but that's just to show tank, melee dps, ranged dps and healer positioning. I couldn't tell you if the strat is accurate, it may just be all for laught, so you may want to check out the more popular strat sites around the net for the lowdown on the entire encounter.
The next promised strat guide from this guild is Kel'Thuzad, played by baby seal with a knit Dr. Seuss hat. I can't wait.
So, as you might guess, knowing my previous background, I read WoW-related forums a lot. Old habits die hard, strapping young talbuks need to read a lot, and given that my career path is in Community at game companies, it pays to know what game communities (all of them) are saying. I obviously tend to gravitate toward games and topics that hold my interest (game design, indie games) or games for which I have a particular fondness (sup Aquaria, luv u baby gurl; yo Cave Story, holla back), but I'll read pretty much anything about a game as long as I can follow it.
And I'm gonna be straight with you, WoW community. You guys are incredibly fickle when it comes to lore, and it breaks my two-sizes-too-big heart to read your ramblings about how Blizzard "doesn't care" about it.
I examined the sitch in detail and I'm ready for you to apologize and mend the error of your ways once you've perused my summary of why you mean well, wrong though you are, when you use the phrase "lorelol". I've made charts and graphs that should finally make it clear--I've prepared a lecture.
Reputation gains on grey mobs changed in 3.0.8 - Sun, 18 Jan 2009 14:30:00 EST 3.0.8 just keeps giving us more surprises. The newest patch note update tosses us this fun number: Reputation gained from mobs no longer deprecates based on your level! This means that even if you're level 80 and killing mobs in Stratholme for rep, you'll still gain the full amount of Argent Dawn rep you would've gotten if you were level 60 (or the mobs were 80). Good news for those of you trying to get Argent Champion, Guardian of Cenarius, or Diplomat, although the folks that already ground those reps without this change might feel it trivializes those titles. For those of who you haven't started the grinds yet, maybe you should consider waiting a little bit and taking advantage of this change to save your sanity a bit. This isn't the first time a change like this has been made, but it's a welcome one.
WI reader Ray actually notified us of this change on the PTR a few days ago, but apparently I'm so slow that the change managed to make the updated 3.0.8 notes before I posted it. This is me hanging my head in shame. I'LL MAKE IT UP TO YOU, RAY.
Titanguard weapon enchant gone after all - Sun, 18 Jan 2009 14:00:00 EST Ok, so you remember how Titanguard, the 75 stamina weapon enchant, disappeared from 3.0.8? Apparently, that was intentional. Ghostcrawler spoke out yesterday on the rationale for removing it. In short, it was just too good. That 75 Stamina would have made it far and away the best tank enchant, and would have locked them into creating higher and higher tiers in future patches and expansions so tanks wouldn't just stick with Titanguard and be done with it. Not only would this lead to less variety in game, but the developers would be stuck specifically designing future encounters with the assumption that every single tank had that extra 75 stamina.
Blizzard's certainly shied away from making certain enchants too powerful before. For example, the Crusader enchantment was given diminishing returns after level 60 specifically so it wouldn't overshadow any other weapon enchants. With that in mind, this move does fit in with Blizzard's modus operandi. And if nothing else, it's good that this was nerfed now, before it made its way onto the live servers. While some tanks may not be happy with the outcome, this is certainly an instance where the PTR testing process worked.
Death Knights will still get to keep the +2% stamina on their Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle, in part to make up for the lack of a shield and a solid defense sigil. Ghostcrawler also did not rule out the possibility of future tanking enchants, but only if they could find out a way to prevent the same problems that caused them to take out Titanguard.
PuG dungeon loot etiquette for dummies - Sun, 18 Jan 2009 12:00:00 EST So with the dawn of Wrath, a lot of people have been heading into 5-man dungeons, both the normal and heroic type. They may be after experience, they may be after badges, they may be after achievements, but nearly everyone is also very interested in whatever loot may drop along the way.
To add to this, not everyone is so lucky as to have a pre-made 5 man ready to go when they log on for the night. Maybe they're guildless, maybe their guild is off in Naxxramas, maybe their guild is 10 levels below them, but whatever the reason, a lot of people end up looking for the pickup groups to get their dungeon diving done.
Anyhow, you probably know what happens next. Pickup group plus loot equals drama. You'd almost think that's some sort of universal constant in WoW. Sure, we've had some great PuGs, but we've had some bad ones too, and those bad ones seem to come complete with ready-made loot drama, and it seems like we're not alone. We're hearing from a lot of people lately who've had problems with loot distribution drama.
Blogatelle, a multi-author blog on WoW roleplay and commentary, has just finished an exhaustive series of play guides on the 10 playable races of Azeroth and how each perceives and interacts with the world, their allies, and their enemies. Regular readers of WoW Insider and particularly All the World's a Stage may also recognize the primary author, Sean, as one of our commenters here on the site.
Even if you're not a roleplayer, the guides are fascinating. They're well-written, thoroughly researched, and a supremely entertaining (and sometimes funny) guide to the mindset of each race. The guides also give some background into how each race arrived at the perspective that it did, and points out that there are several race combinations (notably Tauren/Gnome and Troll/Draenei) who really know very little about each other, and must rely on the often-biased opinions of their faction colleagues. And even beyond that, it keeps digging into the shifting nature of politics within each faction: why are the Forsaken and the Blood Elves on shakier ideological territory with each other now? Why are the Night Elves so standoffish with the Alliance as a whole, and why do the Humans in particular react badly?
I honestly can't say enough good things about these guides. No, they're not official lore, and there's necessarily some conjecture based on game mechanics and vague ingame hints concerning what's going on, but they seem pretty damn accurate to me. If you're in any way interested in Warcraft's lore, or in understanding why certain things in the game work the way they do, the full list of guides is here.
If you're interested in roleplaying your race and class in-game, check out our own series of guides, All The World's A Stage.
Even spiky-helmeted holy goatman warriors need a day off sometimes. While waiting around for his guild's Naxx run, Shiggy of <Apple Jacks> on Thunderlord decided to kick back and relax at the Dalaran Inn. A roast pig, a comely bartender with an endless liquor supply, and a comfy chair -- what more could one ask for on a Sunday? I bet if the camera was at a different angle, you'd see a wide-screen gnomish engineering television showing Azeroth's equivalent of the AFC Championship.
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Sunday Morning Funnies: Duel for the birds - Sun, 18 Jan 2009 09:00:00 EST This week, I have a nice sizeable list for you all! It seems that most artists are back and hard at work. I also have added a new comic for the list, so get comfortable and start reading.
Check out the latest from LFG. Thanks for your comment last week, boo. Technically, this list is for WoW-related comics. Sometimes I include comics for other games or MMO's in general, if the subject matter seems relevant to something WoW players experience, such as lag or loot issues. I include LFG because many people consider it to be appropriate here, and because I think that it is something that WoW players would likely enjoy. The classes and races are familiar, and it isn't too difficult to skim back even a few comics to find the beginning of the current storyline.
So I had a pretty lucky run in the heroics last Friday night. In particular, I ran heroic Culling of Stratholme for the first time. Not only did we handily beat the Infinite Corruptor with a few moments to spare on the timer, but I won the roll on the Bronze Drake, much to some of my more veteran group mates' chagrins.
I've been having a lot of fun with my buddy. It's pretty cool riding around the skies of Northrend and Outland on such a classic-feeling WoW mount, especially since I've been a fan of the bronze flight since helping them do some bug extermination back in the day. One thing does bother me a bit, though: It's pretty tough to show this dude off.
10 things I learned from a destitute alt on an RP realm - Sat, 17 Jan 2009 20:00:00 EST I have a few alts on an RP realm that I visit from time to time, and I remember thinking to myself at one point: "These characters are a bunch of deadbeats." I'd gotten too used to the alts on my main realm being a bunch of pampered brats, spoiled rotten by the presence of a hardworking main, so financial discipline had grown to be a thing of the past.
Not so on another realm where you don't have a main, and I realized that unless I went back to a few monetary basics, my alts would wind up dancing naked on mailboxes in pursuit of gold. This is a fine tactic with a long and storied history, but when your most promising alt is a level 16 Undead Mage, you're up the proverbial creek. No one wants to see a rotting, naked corpse.
So I started not being a deadbeat, and it was with surprise and delight that I logged on to find the little tyke sitting on a pretty respectable pile of gold by level 21 -- as in, he can afford to pay for his level 30 mount and training several times over, and still have enough left over to train himself all the way to 45 even if he doesn't make another penny.
In the World of Warcraft, just as in real life, your professional duties seem to extend beyond your job title. Perhaps most of your guild can cook, but are they all farming and contributing raid food? Which guildmate is the go-to-person for enchants, and who is donating materials instead of selling them on the Auction House for personal gain?
Don't get me wrong, here. Personal gain is a perfectly legitimate pursuit. We all have to support ourselves, and we all have expenses as well as things that we simply want. Still, there is a difference between someone who has maximized a skill and someone who really works it.
What is your niche? Are you the master of profits, a provider, or someone who brings the goods that no one else can? Today I'll be talking about how we practice our professions, and the roles and styles that we can adopt to enrich our in-game professional experiences.
Our friend Medivaldragon over at Blizzplanet brings word that the mind and man behind Warcraft himself, Chris Metzen, will be live at the New York Comic Con in just under a month. The con takes place in New York over February 6-8, 2009, and Mr. Metzen, the creative director and central creative force behind all of Blizzard's modern universes, will be signing books at both the DC Comics and Pocket Star Books booths (apparently for the promotion of WoW's comic books and novels). As Turpster is often inclined to say (along with many other Blizzard fans), "Chris Metzen is a god," so here's your chance to meet the deity himself.
There'll be some other expanded universe notables there as well, including Jim Lee (who'll no doubt be promoting DC Universe Online as well) and Walter Simonson will be there, and there will likely be some other familiar faces, either signing books or just stopping by. Those of you in New York who are free, consider yourselves lucky and head on over there. And bring a camera -- if you can capture the elusive Metzen on film (random adventurers are always freeing him), send us the pics.
Each week, Arcane Brilliance stirs you up a delightful goulash of Mage news, opinion, tips, and info, and seasons it all with an unhealthy sprinkling of Warlock hate. Mmmm. Tasty, delicious Warlock hate. Enjoy!
My formative years fell mainly within the late-80's and early 90's, back when Double Dare and Saved by the Bell were a daily afternoon ritual and it was perfectly acceptable to show up to school wearing parachute pants and looking like Brian Austin Green from 90210 (I'd be careful about clicking that last youtube link, the video contained therein quite literally made my brain bleed). My family was...um...frugal, so school shopping was always an exercise in humility.
I know that last one isn't at all related to education, but even while school shopping, my mind was on games. A lot of my best memories involve the Playchoice 10 display at Montgomery Ward.
All of these questions and many more elicited the same response:
"Chris, you shouldn't worry about what other kids have. You can't compare yourself to other people."
Oh Mom, how wrong you were. How very, very wrong.
In World of Warcraft, the late stages of the game revolve around how your class compares to those around you. Your raiding value is determined by how much healing you can muster, how many other classes and specs can out-DPS you, or how well you can hold aggro and mitigate damage. PvP is essentially a caste system so rigid and brutal India would be proud of it. So now that we've had the Lich King around for a solid two months and the classes have begun to settle into their roles, how do Mages stack up? Where do we rate? Can we walk down the cool kids' (Death Knights) hallway? Or are we the nerds, staying in the library at lunch to avoid getting beaten up because we bring Dragonlance novels and issues of Nintendo Power to school? Join me after the jump and we'll discuss where Mages stand.
Well, they promised a new RP transfer server, and here it is. Not only that, but to go along with it, they're giving us another brand new PvE realm, a transfer one this time.
These transfers opened up last night at 11 PM PST, and are scheduled to close on Friday, 1/23 at 9 PM PST/midnight EST (but could close early if enough people transfer, so go soon if you intend on going). The details:
Destination: Winterhoof (PvE), Wyrmrest Accord (RP). Both realms are in the Emberstorm battlegroup and the Pacific time zone.
There's a note in Zarhym's post to the effect that Wyrmrest Accord is in fact an RP server, and the RP rule set will be enforced there. Probably best to go to the other server if you want to grief RPers, roll a character named "Arthuss," or otherwise do non-RP-server-friendly things.
We got half-way through our available raid content last time we talked about raiding gear. Since the next big topic I intend to cover is stances and their current implementation, and since this column is a day late, I decided to finish up the topic before moving into one as controversial as stance penalties. This week we'll talk about armor, rings, trinkets and necklaces for both tanks and DPS in Naxxramas (or Naxxaramas, as my subconscious insists on misspelling it) and then we'll discuss Malygos and what booty he has in store for warriors if there's room.
Before we get going, I wanted to point out that in the most recent PTR patch notes, the change to Sudden Death (where no more than 30 rage is used on a Sudden Death execute) has been implemented, but there is as yet no change to Deep Wounds. This doesn't mean there won't be one, but for now it's not part of the notes, so it's possible any such change won't take place in time for 3.0.8 depending on when that happens. (Basically, if the patch happens this week we're probably clear until 3.1.)
To be honest, I don't like the reasoning for the change, that Deep Wounds damage is too high because it is damage unmitigated by armor, especially since (as many prot warriors reminded me in the column where I first mentioned it) it's used as a source of constant threat by a lot of tanking warriors. Since Deep Wounds puts a DoT on anyone the warrior crits, and tanks have a high crit chance with abilities like Incite, it's not hard for a warrior tank to get Deep Wounds up on a lot of mobs at once and thus keep ticking threat on them even when focusing on other mobs. Any change to Deep Wounds needs to keep this use of the talent in mind. (I went and specced prot for a heroic Utgarde run the other day just to try it out, and it's fantastic threat. It even seems to work when Thunder Clap crits.) We'll definitely be watching how this all plays out.
Reader Richie mailed us a review of the SteelseriesWorld of Warcraft mouse some time back, but it's gotten to the point where his frustration made him put a post up on his own blog. Some of his major concerns involve the custom software remapping his keys, such as making his character jump when he presses 'M' to bring up the map. He also claims that some of his buttons now stick, instead of springing back into place as they should after a few days of playing. He writes that he's contacted customer service several times and was told that it was "a known issue" and was told to "snap" his buttons.
How has your experience with the Steelseries mouse been? Are you one of the lucky Europeans who won one in Blizzard's Holiday giveaway or managed to snag one of these lately? There aren't too many reviews over the web by players who actually play World of Warcraft, so it's interesting to see if Richie's is an isolated case (although a couple of posters on his blog concur with his findings). The mouse doesn't have a driver for the Mac, and Steelseries doesn't seem to be producing one soon, so I haven't popped out the $99.99 (or more expensive 89.99 EUR) for it. After reading Richie's review -- or rant, rather -- I'm not certain I still want to, either.
36 realms down for maintenance - Sat, 17 Jan 2009 13:36:00 EST We started getting a few tips about realms going down about half an hour ago, and Blizzard's now confirmed that 3 dozen realms are down to address "some instancing issues." Interestingly, the brand-new realm Borean Tundra is among them, and I recognized a few others that are relatively new, as well as the usual forum whipping-boy Misha.
2 hours is the estimated downtime, so if you're on one of the affected realms, I'd start checking back around 2:45-3:00 pm EST. We'll keep you up to date if maintenance is extended. Read on for the list:
UPDATE 2:03 pm EST: Anub'arak is now listed as the only realm affected.
UPDATE 2:32 pm EST: Looks like all the affected realms are back up early.
And as usual we'll answer your emails and just generally have a great time. The show starts at 3:30pm Eastern, 8:30 GMT over on Ustream or right here (we've put an embed of the feed right after the break, so you can listen right from our site). Remember, if you're in the chat and you want to change your name, use "/nick name" (where name is the name you want), and if the feed cuts out for any reason, you can probably refresh the page and it'll come back up. Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times, and please don't feed the Turpster, his trainers give him plenty to eat as it is.