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WoW Insider Show Episode 25: Craziness on the PTR - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 19:00:00 EST


We reached our 25th episode of the podcast this last Saturday, and it's all up right now for you to listen to over on WoW Radio's site. Turpster (who, I hear, has posted something on Massively today), Matthew Rossi, and I all sat down to talk about all the biggest stories in World of Warcraft over the past week, including, but not limited to:
I'll give you a hint: it's not Uwe Boll. Listen in to the podcast every Saturday afternoon starting at 3:30pm EST on WoW Radio, and hear intelligent er, interesting, um, audible commentary like this every single week! And in the meantime, if you have something want to share with us, feel free to drop an email to theshow@wowinsider.com, and you may hear us talk about it on the next show.

Enjoy this week's podcast, and we'll see you next week.

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Build Shop: Mage 17/0/44 - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 18:15:00 EST


Every Tuesday, Chris Jahosky contributes Build Shop, which takes a look into one of the many talent specs available to players.

Today's build has been sent in by a number of people now, so this week I'm taking a look at one of the more popular Arena Frost Mage builds -- 17/0/44. There are a number of variations of deep Frost builds, but this one goes far enough in the Arcane tree to grab the very useful and powerful Improved Counterspell. The Frost tree has been synonymous with survivability for a long time, so it's no wonder that it is so often seen in the Arena. As with other builds of this nature, it picks up talents that increase your damage output as well as those that boost your ability to stay alive. Frost allows you to kite your opponents, or hit them with reliable burst damage utilizing Shatter.

As usual, there is some wiggle room with the talent spread, so you may want to shift points around depending on your personal taste, or even the Arena bracket you spend most of your time in.

Continue reading Build Shop: Mage 17/0/44

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Patch 2.4 has better ways to go - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 17:30:00 EST
Blizzard has started to realize that travel (as in real life) can be boring in the game. On the Public Test Realm (PTR), they have put a few new ideas to good use when forcing players to travel long distances to get to new content.

I copied my character to the PVE test server (once it started working again), and began a flight to Quel'Danas from Ironforge. First off, I already had the flight path, which was refreshing to start with. The odd thing is that upon reaching the gates of Ironforge, the bird rocketed straight up vertically which panicked me a little until I realized that it was on purpose. All the sudden, welcome to a loading screen appeared. I was dropped on the far side of the Ghostlands gate and continued my flight all the way north to the new content at Quel'Danas. This shaved off several minutes flying time and provided an easy way to bridge an old flight path to a new one easily. A flight path spanning from the original content to the content now in the expansion (technically a patch is both and neither) is the type of crossover innovation I knew Blizzard was capable of doing.

Another new idea is to provide a quest reward to transport you to Shattrath, Darnarian's Scroll of Teleportation from the new quest Know Your Ley Lines. This is as opposed to the hearthstone you get. This item only has a 20 second cool down, so at least the outbound trip from Quel'Danas to Shat will be quick and painless.

Blizzard is adding some creative ideas to help travel become a bit easier especially for those who have run around the world and picked up every last flight path during the course of their rise to 70, and now are tired of flying everywhere.

Now what I wonder is how travel to and from the floating city of Dalaran will work, not to mention other destinations, once it has blasted off from Hillsbrad and begun to hover over Northrend. Perhaps travel will be done in much the same way. This isn't all that new, since boats already use a very similar mechanism from Darkshore to Azuremyst Isle. I imagine things will get even trickier to manage with 2 expansions up and running, from a technical perspective for Blizz, so it is nice to know that they are thinking ahead on how we will get there, get back, and generally move about the world we love. Nice to know indeed.

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WoW Insider Weekly - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 16:00:00 EST
We have moved our weekly features wrapup to Tuesday, since it seemed like a good idea at the time. So here's all of the weekly features from the past week (and a few days) here on WoW Insider, for your reading enjoyment.

Sunday Morning Funnies: Rogue stables
Laugh away with our weekly wrapup of WoW-related comics.

Spiritual Guidance: Holyform and lesser holy talents
Don't get your hopes up-- Holyform might not be yours to use quite yet.

All the World's a Stage: The passing of the beast
Playing a role in the Lunar Festival.

Officers' Quarters: Kicking and screaming
As in, first you do the /gkicking, and then comes the screaming.

Lots more right after the link below.

Continue reading WoW Insider Weekly

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Raid Rx: I feel the need... the need for speed Part 3 - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 15:30:00 EST


Raid Rx is designed to encapsulate and cure the shock and horror that is 25-man raid healing. Ok, so it's mostly horror... Anyways, if you're a big fan of X-TREME Whack-A-Mole (or are being forced into it against your will) this is the column for you. Btw, Kil'jaeden says hi! Ok, maybe not...

This is like the song that never ends. It goes on and on my friends. Who knew there was so much to say about casting faster? I swear this is the last week of it. I'll find something... anything... else to talk about next week. Just stick it out. You can do it!

For a bit of a recap, Part 1 explained how you can reduce casting lag, the first step in getting your heals to land faster. If you haven't read the details, please take the time to do so before you hit up Part 2, the fundamentals of haste. This section covers what haste is, the typical reasons someone would want it, and a breakdown of the common haste healing items as they compare to regular healing gear.

This week I'm going to finish the series with an in-depth look at the remaining haste gear by class, including what's available now and what's coming up in Patch 2.4.

Continue reading Raid Rx: I feel the need... the need for speed Part 3

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15 Minutes of Fame: Retro raiders stroll through old content - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 15:00:00 EST
15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - both the renowned and the relatively anonymous. Know an interesting player you'd like to see profiled? E-mail us at 15minutesoffame AT wowinsider DOT com.

Sometimes, WoW feels like a sprint for the next hot instance, the next hot gear. Just look at the flurry of interest in the details of patch 2.4 -- and the content's not even on the live servers yet! But something odd is happening: Even while Blizzard is funneling players into end-game content with accelerated XP curves and more gear than ever that can be purchased with badges, plenty of players are picking their own paths. These "softcore" players play on their own terms: shorter raids, smaller raids, alternative character concepts ... WoW's definitely big enough to hold it all.

One of the more intriguing trends to appear on the scene is retro raiding - going back to cover all the Old World content, from Dire Maul to Zul'Gurub, from Molten Core to Naxxramas. Even though some of this content will be retooled in the future, much of it is simply outdated. Why would anyone want to run old instances that are no longer any challenge and don't offer any gear worth saving? Some want to see if they can short-man Onyxia. (Answer: They can.) Some want to see all the sights, all the sounds, all the bosses that have sent chills down the spines of so many raiders. This week, 15 Minutes of Fame talks to the GM of a guild that's forming up with the specific intent of hitting all the golden oldies.

Continue reading 15 Minutes of Fame: Retro raiders stroll through old content

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Alliance to get Seal of Blood in 2.4? - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 14:00:00 EST


Poster Tamerland from The Scryers posted an interesting nugget to consider over at the Paladin forums today, stating unequivocally that the Alliance will be getting the Blood Elf-only Seal of Blood in Patch 2.4. Conversely, the Horde should be receiving Seal of Vengeance. What's the big deal, you ask? Well, Alliance Retribution Paladins have been crying for Seal of Blood because it has, with numerous calculations, proven to be the superior PvE DPS Seal. In light of the removal of spell damage in Retribution gear and the focus on Strength (and consequently Attack Power), this has become less of a debate and more of a simple fact. Furthermore, Seal of Blood inflicts damage on the Paladin, which is absolutely great as this is incredibly synergistic with Spiritual Attunement, allowing Ret Pallies to regenerate mana as they're healed. While Seal of Vengeance has been argued to be an excellent tanking seal, Horde Paladin tanks have coasted along fine with Seal of Righteousness.

Up until now, Alliance Retribution Paladins have had to balance spell damage along with other stats to optimize Seal of Command while Horde Ret Pallies happily picked up, um... *cough* Warrior gear. If the changes in 2.4 push through, the removal of spell damage severely gimps Seal of Command for PvE and consequently, raiding Alliance Retribution Paladins (yes, such things exist, believe it or not). Tamerland says that the writing is on the wall, and from the lore-shaking changes glimpsed on the PTR, his claims don't seem too far off. The chained up Naaru in the Blood Knights' basement is gone, and the lovely Lady Liadrin (I had to editorialize that. We swore these blood oaths, you know.) comes to Shattrath City to pledge allegiance to A'dal, who welcomes the Light-stealing, Naaru-shackling, demon-blood using Blood Knight matriarch in a totally WWJD moment. The stage really does seem set for such a change, and it wouldn't be the first time that Blizzard has shaken things up in order to balance things out. Paladins were formerly an Alliance-only class once upon a time, after all. Personally, I'm stoked at the possibility. I'm not too thrilled about the Alliance getting Seal of Blood ("my... precious..."), but if it does happen, it means Blizzard is actually listening to its community -- even if they don't say anything most of the time.

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Shifting Perspectives: Bear Tanking Strategies Part 1 - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 13:30:00 EST

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week John Patricelli, sometimes known as the Big Bear Butt Blogger, launches into part 1 of a 2 part discussion on Bear Tanking Strategies.

I'm going to go over a lot of information related to how Bear Tanking works over the next two articles, because I am often asked about how all of the various elements of Threat management fit together.

Much of this discussion will center around tanking after reaching level 70, but the foundation of this series will explore information valuable to bear tanks of all levels, including exactly how Threat works, various methods of pulling, and how to work with your group to keep the target's attentions on you, and not your squishy friends.

Part 1 will focus on the most basic fundamental issue of tanking; How Threat works in a group.

Let's go ahead and get started after the jump!

Continue reading Shifting Perspectives: Bear Tanking Strategies Part 1

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How many Badges of Justice do you need? - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 13:00:00 EST
So with the new badge gear vendor showing up on the 2.4 PTR, I know a lot of people who are getting a little bit of shell shock seeing just how many Badges of Justice they'll need to get that gear. At this point, I've got two words for them: Don't Panic. You'll have plenty of time. With 2.4 likely needing at least another month or so to go live, and then at least a few more weeks before most servers do enough dailies to unlock the vendor, I'm betting on somewhere around a good 10 weeks before we're even able to spend the badges we gather. In 10 weeks, you can gather a lot of badges starting right now, and add a few more badge gaining methods when 2.4 itself goes live.

Let's look at the options for collecting badges and see how much bang for your buck they give you after the jump. Hopefully, almost everyone can find themselves able to do at least one of them, and we can all look forward to fitting ourselves out when we finally make it to the Sun's Reach Armory.

Continue reading How many Badges of Justice do you need?

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New area: Razorthorn Rise - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 12:30:00 EST
We all know patch 2.4 is going to center around a new zone in Azeroth, the Isle of Quel'Danas. But did you know there was a new Outlands area as well? I didn't either, until we got a tip from loyal reader Austin. This new area is called Razorthorn Rise, and apparently sits between Hellfire Peninsula and Terokkar Forest, just above Razorthorn Shelf. The tip says it's full of level 70 ravagers and flayers, and speculates that the ravagers would make good Hunter pets.

I wasn't able to turn up any more information about this area, aside from one new daily quest that mentions it, where a Shattered Sun Offensive NPC sends you to the area to collect five "Razorthorn Roots." Sounds like a ground pick-up. The quest is filed under Terokkar Forest, so I'd guess that's where Razorthorn Rise officially resides. Does anyone know anything else about this zone?

Update: Maybe not a new area after all. Still, this is the first I've heard of it.

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WoW Moviewatch: Snacky 4 Teaser - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 12:00:00 EST

Snacky's Journal, the award-winning series by Stone Falcon Productions, may be coming to a close soon. Jun Falkenstein, the creator of the series, has taken on a job directing a sci-fi film. However, she released this teaser for Snacky 4 yesterday.

It looks like Episode 4 may bring Snacky a girlfriend! This preview is short and sweet, but shows much promise, as Snacky and a lady friend are checking out Mechanistriders. How do you think the series will end?

[Thanks, Drewbie!]

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Heartless gamer delays dinging 70 as long as possible; writer sympathizes. - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 11:00:00 EST



Heartless Gamer sent in his (or hers) story of an intentional delay in dinging level 70 here. He says:

"Also, the auction house was full of bargains when I started. I easily replaced nearly every item on my character with a TBC green for just a few gold per slot. Due to the mudflation of items in TBC, I was far more powerful than most players that started TBC at it's (sic) launch. This made the first few levels relatively painless.

Unfortunately, there are a couple things that surfaced due to my late start: lack of groups and level 70 gankers."


As a recent level 70 dinger, I can certainly sympathize with taking the long route. Not as bad as college, though; I'm on the 20+ year plan there. I did a mad dash to 60 to do the TBC review (a pace that would have made Cartman proud), did the review, got burnt out and logged in again mid-summer and got to 65. Eventually the embarrassment of writing for a WoW website and not being 70 got to me and I ground it out.

"In the end, levels 60 through 69 came and went and 70 arrived. In reality, I am back at level 1. I'm just a baby 70, barely able to hold my own in dungeons five levels below me"

I feel that pain. I was a level 70 hunter in quest blues and greens, steadily holding the bottom spot in the DPS charts--I'm pretty sure the healer was ranked higher. After running some instances to get my Kara key things got a little better, but the saving grace for me was my first Kara run--the Loot Gods bestowed favor on me and I had a four-drop day in Kara, and then Murmur dropped the Sonic Spear that night. Now that I'm half-epiced, gemed and enchanted things are a lot better.

How about you? Any of you take the scenic route to 70? Will you take your time getting to 80 when Wrath launches or rush like there's no tomorrow?

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Around Azeroth: The blind chair - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:00:00 EST


Player Kyprianos of the Icecrown server was in Serpentshrine Cavern with his guild Indecisive after their very first kill of Leotheras the Blind. After being forced to "face his inner demon" by the Blood Elf Demon Hunter, Kyp decided to take a breather in Leo's chair. But shouldn't there be two seats?

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing 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 prefer full screen shots without the UI showing. And please, no more sunsets. No, really. Ok, only if it's a sunrise in new Patch 2.4 lands. We'll take those anytime. Oh, and no more shots of Omen killed in Ogrimmar. It's cool, we get it. A lot of it.

Gallery: Around Azeroth


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Last week on Massively: WoW-related stories - Tue, 19 Feb 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.

Wrath of the Lich King could be very very sneaky

Is Wrath going to launch as early as Spring? Kyle Horner explores the possibilities.



Are games Art? It doesn't matter
Does an MMO have to qualify as "art" to be good? Akela Talamasca looks into the theory and how it applies to our beloved World of Warcraft.


MMOs: the finishing schools of the Internet

Are MMOs the online equivalent of real world girls schools for social training? Chris Colon thinks so. Read on to find out why.

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Breakfast Topic: Consumables: Buy, gather, or make? - Tue, 19 Feb 2008 08:00:00 EST
As I was searching the AH yet again the other day, whining to myself about how high prices were getting on Elixirs of Major Agility, it occurred to me to wonder... If they're so high, why don't I just make them myself?

Actually, before the Burning Crusade -- or more specifically, daily quests -- came along, I generally would, or rather, I'd buy the herbs and find a friend to do the combines. Others besides me took it one step further and started an alt character specifically to have someone to gather herbs and make potions for them. But even without herbalism, if you watched the AH and herb prices for a bit, you could buy herbs when they were a bit on the cheap side and get yourself a stockpile of cheap elixirs, potions, and flasks.

Ever since daily quests, however, I've been a lot more lazy. I'll find myself at the Auction House less than an hour before raid time praying that someone has the potions I need for sale at a less than soul-gouging prices. I'll buy them at the soul-gouging prices anyway, of course, because I need them, and I have the extra money from dailies, but I wonder if I should go back to the old way of getting the herbs and stockpiling. It'd lead to fewer last minute buying sprees, at least.

So how do you do your consumables? Do you do the last minute buying spree, do you watch for good deals, or do you just do the herbalism and/or alchemy yourself?

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Dress yourself completely in Badge loot - Mon, 18 Feb 2008 21:30:00 EST
Our awesome friends over at MMO Champion have discovered more about the new loot that have been previously uncovered, revealing the prices of Badge of Justice loot from the much-awaited Patch 2.4. Prices start at 45 Badges for off-hand frills, a moderate price jump from the 25 Badges of the original loot and 35 for the two new items from Patch 2.3. The as-of-yet-unnamed rings (creatively named "Sunwell Badge Loot - <insert class archetype here> Ring") cost 60 Badges while it takes 75 Badges to purchase belts or gloves. The high prices are a precedent set by Patch 2.3 with such items as the Amani Mask of Death or the Battlemaster trinkets (75 Badges).

Of course, with better gear comes a higher price, and some armor pieces go for a whopping 100 Badges. What's truly cool about the new Badge loot, however, is the availability of Main Hand (and Two-Handed) weapons, which top the price list at a staggering 150 Badges! The good news is, Badges of Justice are dropping everywhere now, with the patch notes stating that all raid bosses now drop Badges of Justice, including the 25-man ones, who drop 2.

More Badge loot-y goodness after the jump.

Continue reading Dress yourself completely in Badge loot

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New badge gear vendor unlocked on PTR - Mon, 18 Feb 2008 20:30:00 EST
We've already discussed the loot, but we now have official confirmation: It is badge gear, and the vendor is unlocked with the "Make Ready" quest from the smith herself after the Armory phase of the daily chain is unlocked. You're going to want to start saving up the badges now, though. the prices are as follows:

-150 badges for the two-handers, the crossbow and the one-handed caster weapons.
-105 badges for the main hand melee weapons.
-45 badges for the off-hand melee weapons.
-100 badges for chest and leg armor.
-75 badges for waist, belt, and foot armor.
-60 badges for the rings.

This is the PTR of course, so these totals could easily change, but if you want to get yourself some of this phat loot the moment the vendor gets unlocked on your server, you'll probably want to start planning those Karazhan runs and Heroic sessions now.

If you want to go check it out yourself, by the way, the portal to Quel'danas from Shattrath has been opened on test server as well, so you can just head to the center of Shattrath city and teleport directly there.

Thanks to our various tipsters for the heads up.

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Balancing crowd control - Mon, 18 Feb 2008 20:00:00 EST
Relmstein has an interesting commentary up about crowd control in World of Warcraft, and how balancing it is imperative to get PvP done right. It used to be that fear was the main problem, but now that fear has been nerfed and balanced with so many other abilities, it's just crowd control in general that has become the main issue. Instead of Warlocks and Mages ruling the roost with Fear and Polymorph, almost every class has picked up their own little methods of stopping other players in their tracks momentarily.

And thus, says Relmstein, the quicker abilities are becoming more powerful. Blind and Cyclone are the two main abilities he mentions, and both are extremely powerful in that they can be used by Rogues and Druids in conjunction with their escape abilities. And on the other side of the equation, Relmstein says that burst damage is king-- doing serious damage in between those moments where crowd control can stop you is critical. And that's why Warriors (and to an extent, he says, Hunters) are doing so well in the Arenas. When you can break out a ton of damage and debuffs during someone else's global cooldown, you're going to go a long way towards winning.

And it'll be interesting to see where this all goes in the future. With the recent changes to spell haste and the curving up of gear in the expansion, things are just going to get faster and faster-- players are going to be able to push out damage quicker and quicker, and crowd control will be more and more powerful.

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Rob Pardo to speak at the 2008 Game Developers Conference - Mon, 18 Feb 2008 19:00:00 EST
The 2008 Game Developers Conference is underway in San Francisco right now, and this means there should be quite a bit of gaming news and juicy bites to report on in the next few days. Blizzard's own Rob Pardo is there as a featured speaker, participating in a panel on the future of MMORPGs and giving a talk on Blizzard's approach to multiplayer gaming design. Hopefully that means we might even get a few pieces of new information about Warcraft and the expansion, or even beyond.

Our colleagues at Massively will be watching the whole conference closely, as will we, and we'll be sure to keep you up to date if Blizzard drops any bombshells of the Lich King variety or otherwise.

And speaking of conference news, Gamespot's posted more video coverage of the DICE 08 Summit, including Blizzard's presentation, which you can watch here.

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Shattered Sun Offensive phase 3: Sun's Reach Harbor - Mon, 18 Feb 2008 18:30:00 EST
Friday afternoon, when I checked the PTR, only about thirty percent progress had been made on retaking the Sun's Reach Armory. Less than twenty four hours later, we were about ten percent into the next phase, retaking Sun's Reach Harbor. Either a lot of new testers hit the PTR due to the weekend and the new patch build or Blizz helped us along. Either way, here's a quick overview of the new content that's unlocked in this third phase of the Shattered Sun Offensive.

Once the Armory is retaken, it's filled with Shattered Sun guards, three new daily quests become available and several new vendors are spawned in the building. Dragonhawks, piloted by Kael's minions, circle the building, doing battle with the archers on the upper level. On the bottom floor, you'll find an ammo vendor, the only one I've been able to find on the Isle. Upstairs are several new "Exotic Gear Purveyors". This is where you'll find all the PvP gear available for Badges of Justice or T4/5/6 armor tokens.

Continue reading Shattered Sun Offensive phase 3: Sun's Reach Harbor

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