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Last Week on Massively: WoW-related stories - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 17:00:00 EST

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This week's round up of WoW-related posts on our sister site Massively spans the range from NSFW to Tauren Chefs. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.

Building a better MMOusetrap: PPOrnography in games
How is the ESRB rating system affecting your favorite MMO?




The WoW starts now!
A Second Life fan tries World of Warcraft for the first time. Read her impressions of an MMO newbie.



WoW comic artist on keeping the fans happy
The MTV Multiplayer staff interview the penciller behind the World of Warcraft comic.




Animations to die for
Should WoW have encounter specific death animations?




A tale of grinding, sucking and snowboarding
Should WoW add a snowboarding mini-game to make it more casual? Kyle Horner investigates the ramifications.



Behind the Curtain: Great Expectations
Craig Whithers uses this week's Behind the Curtain column to explore expectations players have going into many of the major MMOs (including WoW) and how well each game fulfills them.


WoW Europe spotlights noted machinima artists
Machinimist extraordinaire Baron Soosdon is interviewed by WoW Euorpe. Hear what he has to say about his art. Also, Olibith has his own interview exploring how he approaches his popular work.


The Escapist spends a day in the life of a WoW addict
Not all stories about playing WoW are downers about too much time in Azeroth. This one is about how WoW brought two people together.



Is that a Tauren in the kitchen?
A book of real life recipes based on in-game foods? Sounds familiar.




MMOGology: Leaving home
In his weekly column MMOGology, Marc Nottke asks "Do you have to stop playing one MMO to start a new one?"

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All the World's a Stage: A little help from my friends - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 15:00:00 EST

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All the World's a Stage is a column for cooperative minds, playing with roles every Sunday evening.

Roleplaying a new character can be hard, even for advanced roleplayers. Usually you only begin with the fragment of a character, some vague idea of what you want your character to be like. Even if you have a pretty clear idea of your character already in mind, you may discover that actually playing that role in communication with others causes issues to come up that you never could have thought of all on your own.

Thankfully, roleplaying is a cooperative activity. Unlike PvE and PvP, there is no "versus" in RP. Even if two characters are bitter nemeses, still their characters must cooperate with one another to share an interesting story. Otherwise, they will find themselves "god-modding," or roleplaying in such a way that they don't give one another any room to improvise. (Two god-modders may fight something like this, using custom emotes: "Darkmystery stabs Elfman and cuts out his heart," followed by, "Elfman dodges Darkmystery's sword and then rips his head off," and so on.) These people aren't really roleplaying in the same way that two people shouting at each other in different languages are not really communicating. Roleplaying's very nature requires that each person work together with every other person, or else it isn't really roleplaying at all.

Though the rare "god-modder" can attract a lot of attention, in fact most roleplayers are quite eager to cooperate and assist one another as much as possible. For every one drama queen or king who simply must be the center of attention at all times, there are 5 roleplayers standing in the background listening quietly, wishing that someone else would talk, and 15 more who went off to roleplay their own stories instead. Most roleplayers reach out to each other for support, suggestions, background story ideas, and are more than willing to lend a helping hand in these areas to anyone who asks. Such mutual reciprocity forms the foundation of what roleplaying is all about.

Continue reading All the World's a Stage: A little help from my friends

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WoW Moviewatch: Damaged Dreams - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 12:00:00 EST

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After watching Arithmomania yesterday, I decided to dig into the vault and discovered that we hadn't featured Yume before that! Today, we're highlighting Damaged Dreams, an older music video of his. I declare this a Yume weekend.

Damaged Dreams was completed in October 2007, and it's not as polished as Arithmomania, but I'm not sure that it was meant to be. The song is edgy and you can feel the beats in each lightning-fast cut that he makes. An interesting tidbit is that he filmed it all in Burning Crusade, without the help of the model or map viewers. There are too many favorite scenes to list here, so you'll have to watch for yourself. If you enjoyed it, check out the high-resolution version!

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

Previously on Moviewatch...

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Around Azeroth: A thorny screenshot - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 10:00:00 EST

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Mike sends in this shot of an impressively large bramble outside of Brambleblade Ravine in the Tauren starting area. Or maybe it's not Brambleblade Ravine... Says Mike, "'At least I'm pretty sure it is. But you know, it could be outside Razorfen Kraul too. Anyway, it's a cool bramble!" We concur wholeheartedly.

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see your idea of the best looking instance 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!

Gallery: Around Azeroth

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Sunday Morning Funnies: Dark forces - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 08:30:00 EST

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This week there seems to be a running theme of dark forces throughout the comics. From naga and murder to Blizzard employees, you won't want to miss the intrigue.

Continue reading Sunday Morning Funnies: Dark forces

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Breakfast Topic: Instance hour - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 08:00:00 EST

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I don't know about you, but my guild tends to run its raids and instances during "prime time" server hours, from around 8PM to midnight. But then there are a dedicated group of night owls who stay up for the "late night" instance run after any officially scheduled runs, sneaking in one last instance somewhere between 1 and 2 in the morning. (And I have to say, sometimes these casual groups, filled with players half-asleep or perhaps a bit tipsy, are sometimes the most fun to be in.) So this morning I ask you: when's your instance hour? What time of day do you always manage to get your circle of friends online and hitting up the instances you all need?

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Unable to connect? [Updated x 2] - Sun, 20 Jan 2008 01:16:00 EST

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Network outages started plaguing the realms late Saturday night, with connection issues across all US realms. It appears to be a network issue, preventing many, but not all players from connecting to the servers. (So if you were wondering why you were the only one who showed up for your guild's late night raiding session, that would be why.) The forums are offline as well, so the only official information we have from Blizzard comes from the breaking news box on the login screen, shown right, which gives us no ETA but thanks us for our patience.


Update, 1:22 AM EST: The breaking news box has been updated, telling us that there's an issue with AT&T's network. Blizzard is in contact with AT&T and waiting on an ETA for resolution. We should have an update on status within the next 30 minutes (as of the time of this writing, quite soon), but for those of you on the east coast, this probably means it's time to go to bed.

Update, 1:28 AM EST: Though there's no official update from Blizzard, authentication is working for at least some players. (Read: my Shattered Halls group is back at it. You can 3-man Shattered Halls, right?) The realms haven't been offline through this period, so you should be able to pick up right where you left off. (Presuming you can get back online.)

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Two Bosses Enter: Lady Vashj vs. Princess Huhuran - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 21:30:00 EST

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Two bosses may enter... but only one will get to leave in WoW Insider's fantasy deathmatch series. Every week we pit two of the World of Warcraft's raid bosses against one another in a battle that your votes get to decide. This week we have Lady Vashj from Serpentshrine Caverns in Outland matching up against Princess Huhuran from Ahn'Qiraj in old Azeroth. Though both of them are perfectly happy to wipe player raids, how would they fare against one another? Ultimately, that's for you to decide -- so read on!

Continue reading Two Bosses Enter: Lady Vashj vs. Princess Huhuran

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One Boss Leaves: Twin Emperors vs. Chromaggus wrap-up - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 18:30:00 EST

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As you might guess from the image above, the Twin Emperors came out ahead in our last matchup, though the final votes were close. As usual, debate raged over the abilities each boss would be able to use, with complaints being raised over both the Twins' healing ability (which we considered out -- and come on, folks, if it were allowed, there wouldn't have been any point) and Chromaggus' breaths (which eventually turned the target into a drakonoid) considered in. In the end, however, the Twins winning by 40 votes. Interested in more boss on boss action? Check back tonight for the next fight in our line-up, Lady Vashj vs. Princess Huhuran!

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Around Azeroth: Dreamcatcher - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 16:00:00 EST

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Reader supun sends in this shot taken in the Draenei starting area on Azuremyst Isle. This Azerothian device bears a resemblance to a dreamcatcher -- though you rarely see those hanging against the lovely purple skies that are a hallmark of Azuremyst.

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see your idea of the best looking instance 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!

Gallery: Around Azeroth

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WoW EU Valentine's card contest is on - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 15:00:00 EST

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World of Warcraft Europe is now accepting entries for its annual Valentine's card contest. European players are invited to create a card using screenshots and/or original art showing their love of WoW. Twenty winners (five per language) will receive a Gurky key. The key can be redeemed in-game for a summonable baby pet murloc.

Looking through last year's winners, I'm very impressed with the original art as well as how creatively players were able to modify screenshots. Hopefully this year we will see even more experimental entries. I'd love to see a few done in the visual style of Baron Soosdon (a nonsenscial but stunningly beautiful Valentine's) or Among Fables and Men.

Unfortunately, for you pet completists, the reward Gurky is only available through contests. If you're not a player on the EU servers, you'll still be lacking this prized non-combat pet. Hopefully, the US WoW servers will be offering a similar contest in the future.

The WoW Valentine's seasonal event, Love is in the Air, begins February 10 and goes through February 15.

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WoW Insider Weekly - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 14:00:00 EST

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Every week, our weekly columnists post tons of commentary and analysis, just for you. And every weekend, we wrap up all that weekly content in one big post, so you can catch anything you may have missed. Enjoy!

Two Bosses Enter: Twin Emperors vs. Chromaggus
Two (actually three) old school bosses face down in our ongoing deathmatch series.

All the World's a Stage: If looks could kill
You can't judge a look by its character... or can you?

Spiritual Guidance: So, you want to play a Priest...
Good. Roll up so I can get some heals!

Officers' Quarters: The wrong stuff
After telling us who to choose for an officer last week, Scott now lays out who not to choose.

WoW Insider Show Episode 20: Droods and drama
Crank dat druid boy on our weekly podcast.

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling and talent specs
Feral building for leveling druids.

Raid Rx: Overhealing FTW?
Why overhealing is actually a good thing.

The Light and How to Swing It: Blacksmithing for the rest of us
When you want the armor, but don't want to do the crafting.

Build Shop: Rogue 19/42/0
A little stabby stabby, a little dodgy dodgy.

Guildwatch: First come, first served
You get to the gates, you get to open them.

Tales from the Lion's Pride Inn: One last sunset
Oh it's on now.

Encrypted Text: Examining your spec
If you're not speccing Subtlety, you're not really a rogue.

World of WarCrafts: Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops
Man, good luck getting fresh Chimaerok at this time of year.

Gamers on the Street: Today's small raider
So this column is all about gnome raiders, right? What? It's about raiders who raid with small guilds? Oh. Nevermind.

Know Your Lore: Anduin Lothar
KYL returns with an Alliance hero. New (old) battlecry: "For Lothar!"

Brrzzap: The requirements, regulations, and rigamarole of ray guns
'Hoof looks at the various ways to ray gun your enemies (and sometimes yourself).

Totem Talk: Beyond the Dark Portal
What happens to your shaman in Outland, says in... I can't do it. That joke is so tired.

Insider Trader: Of fishscales, glowcaps, and other crafting minutiae
A few random bits from our crafting column.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: What comes next
Where are warriors going? Besides, you know, to the arenas to win.

Phat Loot Phriday: Cataclysm's Edge
Because sometimes you just need a big, badass sword.

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The PvE + PvP instance - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 13:01:00 EST

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"Lowlifescum" over on the official WoW forums has had an interesting idea, to combine PvE instances and Battleground instances into a kind of "race-to-the-boss" PvP and PvE experience combined. According to his idea, players would queue up for the instance, and when both 5-man teams are ready, begin on opposite ends of a dungeon. From there, they have to fight their way through normal monsters and 1 or 2 regular bosses before finally reaching the final boss in the middle. They would have to choose between rushing through as quickly as possible in order to reach the final boss first, or else moving slowly and steadily enough that they can avoid setbacks along the way, and arrive at the last boss fully prepared for the other team to attack in the middle of the fight.

The first existing instance your mind jumps to is likely Alterac Valley, but this new instance would be different in that the players are not marching towards two separate goals, split up into two offensive and defensive groups, but rather going after the very same bosses and getting in each others way to a certain extent. Obviously it would also be a lot smaller than AV too, and, like Arenas, based from the beginning on teamwork with your friends rather than random groupings of strangers.

Obviously balancing such a battle would be very difficult, and the losers should feel as though they gain something of value even if they don't beat the other team. When I imagine this sort of instance, I envision something like a maze where players can not only meet up at the last boss, but also sneak around and PvP with each other the whole way through. Different sections of the instance could be designed to provide advantages to different sorts of classes, whether melee or ranged, damage or healing, and monsters could be designed to interact with the two groups of players in some very dynamic ways. Perhaps the bosses and maps could even vary a bit from battle to battle to keep everything fresh.

A Blizzard representative showed up in the original thread to say that he liked the idea too, and hopes that someday we might be able to see something like it. What do you think about it, and what elements would you pay special attention to in order to make it work?

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WoW Moviewatch: Arithmomania - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 12:00:00 EST

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Artists like Yume, the creator of Arithmomania, and Baron Soosdon are proving that you don't need a storyline to produce a quality machinima. With a heart pumping soundtrack provided by Dogzilla, Yume uses a variety of transitions and filters that would normally bog down a movie. Here, it all fits into place.

You won't find much of a point to this video, but if looking upon the vast scenery of WoW makes you sentimental, you'll definitely enjoy it. The editing is right on target, and the filters are applied to coincide with the music. I'd have to say that my two favorite scenes involved the spinning stats, and the split screens that slowly moved in opposite directions. If you liked Arithmomania, definitely check out the high-res version.

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

Previously on Moviewatch...

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Brunch Topic: What's the most beautiful weapon? - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 11:01:00 EST

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Now that we have 3D renditions of items on Wowhead.com, I've been playing with them a bit, and it really does give a completely different sense of what a particular item looks like. Since I'm on a Mac, I've never had a chance to play with the WoW Model Viewer before, and I imagine such a web-based version is pretty fresh and interesting for many other players as well.

Since there are so very many new 3D models to choose from, let's narrow the choices a little bit and just talk about weapons. Have a look at all the different weapon models, copy your favorite link into a comment, and then tell us why you think it looks the best so that we can go check it out for ourselves!

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Wowhead now in 3D - Sat, 19 Jan 2008 10:00:00 EST

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It's no secret that I love the comprehensive WoW database site Wowhead. And pretty much every time they add a new feature, I love them even more. This latest one, just launched yesterday, is a biggie: 3D models of items and NPCs, fully rotatable and zoomable. Screen shots, after all, will only tell you so much; sometimes one feels the need to see how an item looks from above, or how an NPC looks from below. And more importantly, this is just plain fun. You can also see some items that aren't available to players this way.

So far they just have the NPCs and the items that aren't tied to player models; player models are in the works. For instance, gloves, chest armor, and boots are all linked to the models of player characters, so there are no models for those yet, but weapons and shoulders are not, so those models are up. There's a Flash version and a Java version of the model viewer; the Java version is significantly higher-quality and works better on a Mac than the Flash version, so I'd recommend using that one unless you don't have Java for some reason. One more thing -- throughout Wowhead, item and spell links now have mouse-over tooltips, so like us, Wowhead is now powered by Wowhead.

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WoW Insider Show is live tomorrow at 3:30pm EST on WoW Radio - Fri, 18 Jan 2008 19:00:00 EST

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Episode 21 of the WoW Insider show is live tomorrow afternoon over on WoW Radio, starting right up at 3:30pm EST. And last week's episode was so much fun that we've got the exact same group back together-- John P, Turpster and I will cover everything that's happened in the last week of WoW, including AV imbalances, the QQing over the Ghost Wolves (and why Blizzard was wrong), hitting the gold limit, and when to (and when not to) overheal during raids.

Plus, we'll answer your emails and questions (theshow@wowinsider.com is the address, and we'll be in IRC as usual), and undoubtedly Turpster will have something funny and/or inappropriate to say. Definitely will be a good time-- if you're around tomorrow afternoon at 3:30pm, log into WoW Radio and give us a listen. See you then.

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Phat Loot Phriday: Cataclysm's Edge - Fri, 18 Jan 2008 18:36:00 EST

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No messing around here. Just a big, bad sword. This is why half of us are playing a sword and sorcery game in the first place, right?

Name: Cataclysm's Edge (Wowhead, Thottbot, WoWWiki, WoWDigger)
Type: Epic Two-hand Sword
Damage/Speed: 386 - 580 / 3.50 (138.0 DPS)
Abilities:
  • +75 (!) Strength, +49 Stamina
  • Equip: your attacks ignore 335 of your opponent's armor. And that's not a proc, that's an equip. Wild. The math around that is complicated to say the least, but suffice it to say that whenever you attack anything with the sword, you treat the opponent like it has 335 less armor than it really does. Which means even more damage.
  • And all that strength adds damage as well, since strength adds to attack power, which adds to melee damage, too. In short, when something gets hit with this sword, it feels it.
  • And I always get called out and shown up when I make statements like this, but according to WoWWiki, this is the highest DPS melee weapon in the game. Theorycrafters, if you would like to challenge that, feel free to do so in the comments below. WoWWiki shows that the Axe from the Illidan Kael'thas (you're right, I'm drunk) event does more damage, but that's a summoned axe, and not a player-useable weapon. Same deal with the Artifact Twin Blades of Azzinoth. So I'm standing by the original claim. Prove me wrong if you must.
How to Get It: Drops from Archimonde, the last boss in Mount Hyjal (and arguably, the game itself). It's a 10 to 15% drop, so you'll need to get him down a few times for the odds to fall in your favor. And you'll have to fight all those Mortal Strike warriors and ret pallies for the roll, since everybody who likes chopping things in half will be after this one.

But the good news is that this will last long after the "gear reset" coming in the expansion. I hesitate to say that it will actually be able to challenge Frostmourne (because who knows how they'll implement that in the game), but odds are that if you're lucky enough to get this now, you'll be chopping things with it for quite a while.

Getting Rid of It: Are you nuts? If you have so many of these things laying around that you have to get rid of one, go talk to Matthew Rossi, our warrior writer-- I'm sure he'll want one. But if you must vendor it, you'll get 19g 57s and 38c for it. Disenchants, as usual, into a Void Crystal.

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: What comes next - Fri, 18 Jan 2008 14:30:00 EST

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors spent some time looking back at 2007 not so long ago, and finds itself looking forward to 2008 and beyond this week. Matthew Rossi wants you to imagine a big swirly tube and either the Stargate or Dr. Who music playing, whichever you prefer. I'm more of a Dr. Who man myself, but as the omnipresent third person narrative device I don't think my opinion is much consulted. It's a hard life being a narrative device. No one ever asks you out for coffee.

As the somewhat emo italic text stated, this week we're going to look forward at where the Warrior class is going, a discussion I quite frankly think will be more interesting in the comments you leave than in my own ramblings. My goal here is mainly to serve as a firestarter, hoping to initiate a few sparks of brilliance from you. As a result, I'm going to just throw my musings and opinions at the wall here and see what sticks with you guys, what you accept and what you reject. After all, in the end it's the players who will ultimately determine what warriors will become, as they're the ones who'll chose what they do with their characters.

My first thought is, looking over the past few years, the trend is that warrior successes in PvP tend to be followed by large nerfs. So PvP warriors are almost certainly going to be nerfed in a rather large way if they remain dominant in PvP. I expect mace spec to see the lion's share of this nerfing, perhaps changed into an entirely unrecognizable form removing stuns entirely, but mortal strike is also up for a few changes. It will probably be safe for the next few months, as they just gave a similar effect to hunters and to change MS now would mean having to change that, too, but it will most likely come in whatever patch lays the preparations for Wrath of the Lich King. If not these, then some change to a fundamental warrior DPS/PvP mechanic, similar to the way weapon speed and rage generation were normalized.

Warriors with better gear still, despite nerfs like rage normalization, perform at a much higher rate than before they achieved it. My tauren warrior does much, much better in PvP now, even against opponents who substantially outgear him. In my biased experience, right around the time I start winning in PvP is when the nerfs start coming.

Continue reading The Care and Feeding of Warriors: What comes next

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New loot cards announced for TCG Servants of the Betrayer expansion - Fri, 18 Jan 2008 13:30:00 EST

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Upper Deck has announced the loot cards that will be appearing in their new Servants of the Betrayer expansion pack for the TCG. As seen on their website, the new loot cards are:
  • Papa Hummel's Old-Fashioned Pet Biscuit, the pet-enlarging consumable that we heard about here yesterday.
  • A "Personalized Weather-making Machine," that will create a random weather effect over a person's head. The options we've heard so far include, sun, blue skies, thunder, rain, and snow.
  • And an X-51 Nether Rocket, which is an epic flying mount. Yes, finally, you can ride around the skies of Outland Slim Pickens-style, on the top of a rocket. Unfortunately, the mount doesn't go rocket speed, it just goes regular speed-- it's available in regular or epic flavors, just like the other loot card mounts.
Pretty cool, I guess. The rocket will probably end up being the fan favorite. Although considering that the Pet Biscuit is supposed to be pretty common (it is a consumable, after all), that's probably the one we'll see the most of.

In fact, the most interesting thing about the expansion isn't even these loot cards-- it's the fact that these boosters will also have a new hero type in them: "Traitor heroes." For the first time, TCG players will be able to play non-Alliance or Horde NPCs. Interesting. The booster set releases in March of 2008.

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