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Official interactive Northrend map - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST


In case you'd like to get a sneak peek at what you'll be rampaging all over in Wrath, Blizzard has just put up an interactive map of the new continent of Northrend on its site. It's pretty, of course, but also information-packed. For each zone, if you click on it, it lists the following information:
  • Level range of the zone; the two starting zones are listed as 68-72, as we expected.
  • Flight points, Alliance, Horde, and neutral. All the zones seem to have plenty of flight points, which will make it less painful not to have flying mounts until 77.
  • Instances, with levels for those.
  • Raids. Interestingly, both the raids currently in beta (Naxxramas and Chamber of Aspects) are in Dragonblight; I hadn't realized that.
  • Zone map

Obviously, if you're averse to these kinds of spoilers, don't click over. Otherwise, enjoy the pretty pictures. 55 days until LK; I can't wait.

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8962, professionally speaking - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:30:00 EST


There were a lot of profession changes in the latest LK beta build (8962). You've already seen what Inscription got, and if you're anything like me, you've salivated over the new Engineered motorcycles. But what else in this build is particularly interesting, for the other professions?
  • Tailoring got some new flying carpets added, though I'm pretty sure the Ebonweave/Mooncloth/Spellfire are just cosmetic variants. No word yet on what they look like.
  • Leatherworking got a ton of new BoE epics and blues. It looks like they're really trying to make it profitable to be a leatherworker, which will be nice to see.
  • Each of the armor-crafting professions (tailoring, LW, blacksmithing) got some high-stamina frost-resist sets. Previously, similar (and similarly-named) sets were used for the Sapphiron fight in the old Naxxramas; I wonder if something similar will be going on in the new Naxx. I hope not, because kitting out your whole raid for one fight is an annoying gimmick.
  • A few of the professions got recipes specifically to help them discover more recipes, like Northrend Alchemy Research and Northrend Inscription Research. An interesting approach to making the discovery system less frustrating.
  • A new epic fishing pole! Still not quite as much +fishing as the Arcanite Fishing Pole, but nice for those who have trouble winning the contest, and the underwater breathing will be convenient.

There are also a bunch of new enchants and elixirs, but it's just your typical +AP, +crit, +int, etc.; hardly fascinating. I'm particularly excited about all the stuff LW is getting. That skill needed some love. See MMO-Champion for full listings of all the recipes; there's just too much for me to list here.

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Is Leading the Cavalry possible? - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST
I mentioned the Leading the Cavalry achievement earlier, the achievement that requires 75 mounts to... well, achieve. The big question is, is that actually possible? Let's find out!

Let's use a Forsaken for our example, since they have no factors working against them like racial boundries on mounts. Keep in mind that some races will have a harder time, like Tauren can't use two of the five Horde mounts, and Gnomes don't allow anybody but Gnomes and Dwarves to use mechachickens.

The Horde has Peacocks, Raptors, Wolves, Skeletal Horses, and Kodo. From a glance at Wowhead, there seems to be...

Continue reading Is Leading the Cavalry possible?

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Balance buffed, Resto nerfed in 8962 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:30:00 EST

Druids still continue to evolve fairly rapidly. It makes sense that they would be undergoing a lot of change, because more than most other classes, Druids are almost like three classes in one (three and a half, when you consider how strongly they've been trying to differentiate bear ferals from cat ferals).

There are a lot of changes in this latest beta build; I'm not going to list them all, just the ones that seem most interesting to me. For the full story go take a peek at MMO-Champion.

  • Balance:

    • Barkskin is now usable in all forms. The primary use I envision for this is bear form, which has suffered from a lack of "oh snap" buttons for a while now. On a one-minute cooldown, it actually adds up to more mitigation over time than Shield Wall, although of course it's less mitigation at any one time, which is what SW is really used for. Still, good to have.
    • Earth and Moon buffed significantly; now increases your spell damage by 1/2/3/4/5% and is 100% to apply the effect at all ranks (previously did not boost spell damage and was 20/40/60/80/100% chance to apply effect).
    • Improved Faerie Fire now increases your crit chance against the target by 1/2/3%, as well as increasing the target's chance to be hit by spells.

Continue reading Balance buffed, Resto nerfed in 8962

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Guild alliances in the UI - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST
Violet_helix asks a good question over on WoW Ladies LJ -- is there a way in the official UI to form up guild alliances. And unfortunately, as the commenters answer her, there is not. Guilds who want to raid together just have to kind of do it.

The only little workaround that is available, of course, is the chat channels -- those can be created and even moderated in an ad-hoc way (though I believe that they can't be given permanent moderators, which means that if someone leaves the channel, they could lose moderation privledges). But even if a guild alliance is able to keep up a chat channel and keep it moderated, they can't do things like leave a message of the day, or store ingame information on guilds or members as regular guilds can. There is an addon called Guild Alliance that will do lots of that stuff, but there's nothing official.

Should there be an ingame UI for creating alliances? We've been promised more backend guild-based content (like guild battlegrounds and even guild housing), and if Blizzard does choose to heavily update the guild system, there could be a lot of benefit to guilds aligning. Not to mention with the 10/25 main raiding split in the expansion, it's not unexpected that we'll have smaller guilds who join up with each other for the big raids rather than huge guilds with big raiding teams. On the other hand, the practice isn't so widespread at this point -- there may not be enough alliances out there to start officially recognizing them within the game world anyway.

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Warrior changes in Beta build 8962 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 17:29:00 EST
So how have warriors fared in the current build? Well, while I'll be going into more detail tomorrow we can cover some specifics now.

The neverending saga of Titan's Grip continues as it now only imposes its melee miss chance penalty on damaging abilities that require a weapon. Bloodthirst's health return has been nerfed from 1.5% of total health to .6%, turning a great soloing ability into a much less great one. In addition, Bloodthirst now requires a weapon, making it useless when you are disarmed and making it clearly affected by the Titan's Grip miss penalty. Trauma is now going to work for all melee critical strikes, including specials. Improved Thunderclap moves from Arms to Prot, and Tactical Mastery moves back to Arms after having been switched to Prot in The Burning Crusade.

For all these changes and more, we shall adjourn to the viewing parlor and discuss. Jump with me, if you will.

Continue reading Warrior changes in Beta build 8962

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Totem Talk: The Beta Yo-Yo Effect - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST


The great and terrifying thing about the beta is watching everything about your character change from week to week. For instance, this week the level 70 PvP blues changed from looking like Sunwell gear to looking like the picture above.

Now stop laughing at me and let's discuss the changes aside from me looking ridiculous. Man, the difficulty in finding a good hat for a tauren.

We're seeing lots of small tweaks this time. Lava Burst is cheaper, does more damage, and only consumes your own flame shock, meaning that Elemental Shamans will not be able to use Enhancement Shamans shocks to trigger their own crits with the spell. Similarly, enhancement will now find that the Stormstrike debuff is enhanced (so to speak) and only affects your own spells, meaning that the days of shamans seeing rogue poisons eat those charges are also gone. Thunderstorm gets its range back, Ancestral Awakening chooses a target based on health percentage, and Spirit Link doesn't work on polymorphed targets anymore. All these changes and more, after the jump.

And yes, I know the hat looks dumb, thank you.

Continue reading Totem Talk: The Beta Yo-Yo Effect

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Mage changes in beta build 8962 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 16:45:00 EST



Ok Mages. Are you sitting down? We finally got our nerf. We sort of knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it suck any less. We got a few buffs, too, but the one major nerf was a whopper. It won't affect everyone, just Mages like me who had fallen in love with the new Arcane tree. This nerf, if it stands, almost singlehandedly kills the whole tree, at least as a stand-alone spec.

Here it is:

  • Arcane Blast changed. Each time you cast Arcane Blast, the damage is increased by 15% and mana cost is increased by 300% (used to be 25% damage and 75% mana cost)
Soak that in for a second. I really, really hope that's a typo. I went onto the beta this morning and spammed Arcane Blast on a training dummy for a bit. After 4 casts, I was suffering a 1200% increase in the mana cost of the spell, while only gaining a 60% increase in damage. The fourth spellcast was costing 2970 mana and doing about 3k damage per cast, fully talented and spell damaged out. That's about 1 point of damage per mana point, making it so ridiculously inefficient that only the first cast is worth the cost, and then only barely.

I'm praying that the 300% number is supposed to be 30%, and will be fixed. 30% sounds about right to me. With the nerf to the damage buff, that kind of mana cost reduction would work, though they could probably go as far as 50% and I wouldn't freak out. But to reduce the damage and make the mana cost so incredibly prohibitive? Just...wow.

You can find the full list of changes after the jump.

Continue reading Mage changes in beta build 8962

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The state of Inscription - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 16:25:00 EST
One thing I know is this: the 8962 beta patch which downloaded last night is not going to be the last beta patch we see. How do I know this? Because there are still no Warrior, Death Knight, or minor glyphs available to train yet. Yes, I know what some websites are reporting about Death Knight glyphs, but I assure that these glyphs are not at the trainers. The lack of clear information on the topic is making it interesting to be a scribe on the beta servers. (And by "interesting" I mean "lame.") While I'm standing in front of the trainer looking at the list of available glyphs, people on the Trade channel are calling me an idiot because I have no DK glyphs because they read about them. (Lolwut?) But my graphic for this post is my proof. They're not available yet, people!

Continue reading The state of Inscription

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Barrens Chat: Always a catch - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST


Right when we talk two of our friends into playing World of Warcraft with us again, the same two that talked us into playing in the first place, I miss out on all the fun. Almost a day without power, and the internet has, as of earlier today, finally gotten back up to par. At least I have the weekend to look forward to!

I hope I'm not the only person looking forward to my very own Frosty. I missed out on all the other fun vanity pets, but I finally (might) get a cute little Frost Wyrm, oh and the Collector's Edition's other extras as well. I just don't think I'll be cuddling it any time soon, he looks a little bony.

See you next week!

Gallery: Barrens Chat



Barrens Chat is a weekly comic installment created on caffeine and pixy sticks. Although often abusing Hunters in any way we can find, sometimes we go after the tankier players, too. Stop by every week to see a new comic, and hope that the sugar stash has run out by then.

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Hunter changes in beta 8962 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 15:45:00 EST
There are a slew of new updates to Hunters in the latest beta build, but the biggest one comes to Aspect of the Viper. Blizzard has been tuning this spell for a while -- originally it gave Hunters back their ranged damage as mana (pretty overpowered), and then was tuned down to each shot giving back mana based on twice the base ranged weapon speed. Now it's still based on the base ranged speed, but they've buffed it back up to a percentage of mana -- if you have a base ranged weapon speed of 2, for example, you'll get 4% mana back for every shot that hits. Not a bad deal, and hopefully Blizzard is getting close to settling on making itso that Hunters only need to switch to AotV sometimes, instead of leaving it up all the time.

Most of the other Hunter changes in 8962 are just tweaks -- Kill Shot no longer does a knockdown and got a little damage buff. Tranq shot got added utility, in that it will remove enrage and magic effects rather than just the frenzy effect that was so hard to come by. Misdirection's cooldown got dropped to 30 seconds from two minutes, which means Hunters will get more chances to dump aggro when necessary.

There's one new skill which will make things pretty interesting on the trapping side -- Freezing Arrow lets you fire off an arrow that will lay down a Freezing Trap (which, by the way, now has only a chance to break on damage, instead of 100% certainty). That, combined with some quick Misdirection, could make trapping a whole new game at level 80. Unfortunately, it looks like the tradeoff for that is that we're losing Camouflage, which some Hunters already aren't happy about. But as always, all of these skill and talents are still up for grabs, so maybe we'll see Camo back in some form before it's all over.

Update: Whoops, forgot to mention that AotV is still carrying that 50% damage penalty while on. That's pretty harsh, even with the mana coming back, so look for a buff on that end before 3.0.2 goes live.

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Talk Like a Pirate Day has arrived in Azeroth - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 15:25:00 EST
Here in the US, it's not yet Talk Like a Pirate Day (that happens on September 19th every year), but over in Oceania, it's already been 9/19 for a few hours, and players have discovered some scurvy-ridden sea dogs in Booty Bay celebrating the event. Apparently, there are a bevy of pirates (what do you call a group of pirates exactly?) hanging out above the Inn there, and their leader is Captain Demeza, who will give you a 12-hour buff that makes you look like a pirate. We're also told that her commoner cronies are hanging around the capital cities, so talking to any pirate should give you the buff.

Kisirani confirms that the holiday is new, and that while yes, it only lasts for one day (which means weekend warriors won't have a chance to see the proceedings), there are no lasting rewards to be found, just that 12-hour buff (which itself is just cosmetic anyway). So happy TLAP day, maties!*

*Yes, you landlubbers, I can do a better pirate than just "maties." But it's not September 19th here in the US yet. Stay tuned.

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World of WarCrafts: Horde earrings - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST
Every Thursday, Shelbi Roach of The Bronze Kettle guides you in creating WoW-inspired crafts using real world mats with World of WarCrafts.

There is nothing quite like the beacon of nerdiness that is video game apparel. These subtle yet straightforward earrings are sure to attract your fellow horde lover. A perfect accessory for that blind date outside of Orgrimmar.

Here is what you will need:

  • Black and Red Sculpey Clay
  • Fishhook Earrings
  • Eye Pins (4)
  • Red Beads (2)
  • Split Ring Pliers
  • Round Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cut Pliers
  • Clear Acrylic Spray
Click on the images below to view a gallery of step-by-step instructions.

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Wrath CE sold out at Gamestop, Amazon - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 14:30:00 EST
Gamestop employees got a memo yesterday that preorders of the Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Edition may have reached their limit, and we've just called and confirmed that -- the Collector's Edition is sold out already at Gamestop. Looks like Amazon also has also taken down their preorders, instead offering a signup to be notified "when this item becomes available." The thing has only been on sale for two days, and already it seems many retails have run out of their listed units -- in fact, Gamestop told their employees that they may not even have been able to fulfill all the orders taken so far.

Of course, we're still talking preorders here -- just because they got reserved doesn't mean that they'll all be sold, so there's still a chance that you could get one at release (Gamestop, we believe, will hold reserves for 24-48 hours after release, and then sell them first-come, first-serve). And there's a chance that Blizzard could put a larger order in (since the game hasn't gone gold yet, the sets aren't even manufactured yet), which would mean more preorders would be available.

But on the other hand, Blizzard has always wanted the Collector's Editions to be limited, and the guys at Gamestop assured us that there were still plenty of regular copies to reserve. It's hard to believe the CE could be completely sold out in just two days, two months ahead of the actual release, but it's clear that Wrath is going to be one of Blizzard's biggest releases ever.

Update: And now, for some reason, it looks like preorders are back up. Either Blizzard decided to make more or Gamestop figured out how they could sell more, so if you want to get one, better order it quick.

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BigRedKitty: Wolf, Bird of Prey, and Bear - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 14:00:00 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.

If you liked Wolves before, you're going to like them in Wrath; there's really no change.

Is there a difference between a Bird of Prey and a Carrion Bird? You bet, and we'll tell you.

Bears, foshizzle. They've been here forever, but they... well, we'll let the movie speak for itself.

You are invited to download the YouTube version (65MB) of this movie here, and the full-sized version (218MB) here.

As always, a great big Thank You to the WoW Insider editors for allowing us to publish this movie both here and on our little blog at the same time!
From his video guides to Karazhan For Hunter Dummies, nobody covers raid Hunters like BRK. Looking for more Hunter goodness? Check out our non-raid Hunter column, Scattered Shots or the WoW Insider Directory of Hunter Guides.

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New achievements and mount rewards in beta build 8962 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 13:30:00 EST

Like most Wrath beta patches, build 8962 comes packing new achievements. This patch doesn't have a massive list like some previous builds, but what it does have is pretty cool:
  • Leading the Cavalry - Obtain 75 mounts, be rewarded with an Albino Drake.
  • For the Alliance! - Slay the leaders of the Horde, be rewarded with a Black War Bear.
  • For the Horde! - Slay the leaders of the Alliance, be rewarded with a Black War Bear.
  • Glory of the Hero - Complete all of the Heroic Dungeon achievements, be rewarded with a Red Proto-Drake.
  • Glory of the Raider - Complete the Normal Difficulty raid achievements, be rewarded with a Plagued Proto-Drake.
  • Heroic: Glory of the Raider - Complete the Heroic Difficulty raid achievements, be rewarded wtih a Black Proto-Drake.
  • What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been - Complete the World Event achievements, be rewarded with a Violet Proto-Drake. (Note: World events means holidays here, like Brewfest, not things like the Ahn'qiraj gate event.)
The rewards are definitely the most noteworthy part of this. Wrath of the Lich King is introducing a ton of new mounts, so it won't surprise me to see massive diversity in what people are using after the expansion has been out for awhile. There are plenty that come from things other than Achievements as well, but we'll get to those later.

[ via MMO-Champion ]

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Motorcycles finally implemented in the Wrath beta - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST

I was a little mean earlier and dropped a teaser for the new motorcycle mounts from the Wrath of the Lich King beta on Ask a Beta Tester earlier, so let me make it up to you all. We've put together a little gallery of the highly anticipated (by some) motorbike mounts that were officially implemented just last night, so if you're interested, go on and take a look.

They're a little buggy, they use some slightly new mechanics. They're about halfway between a mount and a siege vehicle. Your action bars don't change or anything like that, but it is definitely considered a vehicle since a passenger can hop into your sidecar. It's also not Engineering only, but I think that is so they can get extra testing done on it. It's a seriously cool mount, and one I'm pretty okay with. If Azeroth can develop helicopters, airplanes and submarines, they can build motorcycles, too.

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Holy priests in 8962 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 12:30:00 EST

Holy priests were no more exempt than Shadow priests from the changes in 8962. Most were good, and many were previewed by Koraa, but let's look at them anyway, shall we?

  • Divine Hymn now does a HoT (10 closest targets within 15 yards, 348 every sec for 6 sec) as well as its previous effect of putting enemies to sleep and reducing incoming damage.

OK, I'm now officially convinced by this spell. It's on a six-minute CD, which is pretty good, and that is a good chunk of healing to ten targets for less than the cost of a max-rank Greater Heal. Even if it didn't put enemies to sleep or decrease damage taken, I would still use it as a cheaper, wider-effect Prayer of Healing. [Edit: just noticed I'd misread the skill; it makes enemies take less damage. That's a bit depressing.]

Continue reading Holy priests in 8962

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WoW Moviewatch: Muffins WotLK Exploration Part 77-80 - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

(Viewers be warned that this video contains spoilers for the Wrath of the Lich King beta.)

At the beginning of last month, I featured a video that explored levels 70-77 of the Wrath of the Lich King beta. It was apparently so popular that Muffins was contacted by a studio for a possible job! Since then, she realized that machinima was something that she wanted to do with her life. Nothing makes me happier than when someone says that, so congratulations, Muffins!

Muffins obviously only covered a portion of the levels last time, so she's back with an exploration video for the 77-80 crowd. In it, she checks out Storm Peaks, Halls of Lightning (Instance), The Oculus (Instance), Utgarde Pinnacle (Instance), The Culling of Stratholme (Instance), and Icecrown. She noted that The Violet Eye in Dalaran seemed like a less interesting version of Black Morass, and that Naxxramas was pretty much the same as the old one except for the trash.

[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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Ask a Beta Tester: Attunements, achievements, more low level quests - Thu, 18 Sep 2008 11:30:00 EST


Welcome to another edition of Ask a Beta Tester, wherein we all sit around, drink ale, smoke cigars, talk about our awesome hogs and then tear up the road of Dalaran, risking our lives with extreme stunts just for the thrill and the feeling of adrenaline flowing through our veins.

...Wait, that's not what we do at all.

Swiss
asked...

I'm interested in the Low Level Quest Tracker. Does this replace other trackers such as Find Herbs or Find Minerals? Or does it stack with other tracking as well?

It does not stack with other tracking, but you generally wouldn't need both at once. Turn it on in town, grab your quests, turn your other tracking back on when you leave. That'll be problematic for finding low level quests out in the wilds, but does your level 80 Death Knight need that Peacebloom while you're off looking for quests?

Read on for more of your Wrath of the Lich King Beta questions!

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Attunements, achievements, more low level quests

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