So, Arena Season 5 has started. Have you taken a loot at all the new gear? It's pretty cool how it's easily available to everyone, isn't it? Except for the top gear, pretty much everything can be farmed even without having to do any PvP whatsoever. All very well and good, but have you actually taken a look at any of the new PvP gear? Back in Burning Crusade, the Arena sets were mere re-colors of the raid sets, a mistake that Blizzard said they'd avoid in Wrath. They made good on that promise with Season 5, but somehow, the appearance of the sets are kind of... meh.
The lackluster designs came under fire on the forums a few days back, and Zarhym was quick to defend the art team, saying that "the looks of the sets will improve as the seasons continue," and that if Blizzard had started the first sets with awesome designs, the latter seasons might see Thrall being worn around players' heads. It's a pretty funny joke, but I'm not quite sure it holds water. Zarhym continues to say that the design philosophy is that "in PvE you're killing very rare and challenging creatures of Azeroth, while in PvP you're receiving gear from the crafters (so to speak) of your faction to get you battle-ready."
He goes on to make a truly memorable line, "chances are you're going to be given the gear that'll get the job done rather than the gear that has to be constructed entirely out of the nipples of a 7,000 year-old dragon." Now that's pretty clever. It makes a lot of sense, too. Except, my question is, why can't 'crafted' gear that 'gets the job done' be, well, badass? Remember the Level 60 PvP sets? Now those were totally badass.
Each week, Arcane Brilliance comes down the chimney with a sack-full of Mage. We Blink into your living room, conjure our own milk and cookies, set fire to the tree, and turn the family cat into a sheep. Then laying a finger aside of our nose, we turn invisible and walk out the front door, because that's how we roll.
In case your recurring stress dreams aren't enough of a reminder, let me throw it out there that you have less than a week to do your Christmas shopping. Seriously, you probably ought to just go now, bring a cattle prod, a ballistics vest, and possibly a taser, head to the mall, and let the carnage begin. If you get in line now, you might be able to check out by Thursday.
The good news is that if you're shopping for a Mage, your job isn't quite so difficult, and not nearly as perilous. Mages aren't picky about gifts. If it has spellpower on it, chances are we'll love it. We tend to like big sticks and fancy dresses, and GnomishWarlocks always make great stocking stuffers.
Follow me after the break, and I'll give you my short-list of great things to get for the Mage in your life this holiday season.
Have you seen any Warlocks lately? For some reason, the only remnant of Warlocks that I see are the odd Demonic Circles scattered here and there in Dalaran. Otherwise, pretty much everybody's re-rolled the flavor-of-the-month Death Knight or a Retribution Paladin. Where's the love? As much as Warlocks are reputedly overpowered in PvP, exactly how a Warlock deals with Death Grip, Strangulate, and a string of crits from the Death Knight and his friends isn't exactly the kind of stuff that make PvP legends.
In fact, the way we're designed to deal damage in a slow, painful stream, Warlocks downright blow in PvP -- particularly Arenas -- right now. The king of Arenas today is burst damage, and instagibbing an opponent with a zerg is the order of the day. With very few players stacking the necessary Resilience, Arenas are dominated by players who have gear from heroic Naxxramas.
Out of all the cloth classes, Warlocks are the only one without a natural 'out' of a zerg save for the preparation-heavy Demonic Circle (which doesn't break a stun, by the way, and has a meager 40 yard range). Mages still have Ice Block, Blink, and the target-removing Mirror Image. Priests, more than ever, have higher survivability across the board, specially with Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit, and Dispersion across three trees and a plethora of instant heals. This makes Warlocks Target #1 when it comes to a zerg train in Arenas. And it takes about 4 seconds for us to blow up.
So you've won Wintergrasp. Now what? Well, the very first thing that most players do when they wrest or maintain control of the zone is head into the Vault of Archavon. The vault is a raid instance accessible only to members of the faction that control Wintergrasp. It is one of the more important reasons why control of Wintergrasp is so important. Archavon the Stone Watcher is an extremely easy raid boss who drops pieces of Tier 7 and Arena gear. In short, he means free epics.
While there are no level restrictions to entering Wintergrasp (though if you can't fly you'll either have to take the portal or be summoned), players must be Level 80 and in a raid group in order to enter the Vault of Archavon raid instance. It's a very short raid with exactly four trash mobs who have special abilities, but are essentially tank and spank and prepare the raid for how the boss will be like. Archavon is a DPS race.
Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime.
Nothing says Winter Veil like a skanky santa outfit. Ho ho ho, indeed. The winter holidays in Azeroth have enough sex and violence (mostly violence) to counteract all of the feel-good, family-friendly holiday cheer going on in the real world. It's exactly what you need after going anywhere near a mall parking lot at this time of year.
In-game holidays are always good for those of us with limited playtime because the quests give good experience, fun loot and there are often entertaining stories and activities to go along with it. The Feast of Winter Veil is no exception. While it doesn't have the ridiculous xp of the Midsummer Fire Festival or Hallows End, it does have some great Achievements, virtual toys and enough xp to make it worth your while. Following is a casual player's guide to the festivities.
Now that you've familiarized yourselves with the zone and Wintergrasp gameplay, it's time to look at the strategies used in order to win. As you can probably guess, the strategies for offense and defense are somewhat different. Playing defense, you must play for the full 40 minutes in order to win while playing offense, you want to finish the game as quickly as possible. If the timer hits ten minutes and offense hasn't broken down the doors to the inner sanctum, it's in trouble.
Just like other Battlegrounds, organization goes a long way. Unlike other Battlegrounds, however, you won't automatically be grouped into a raid, so a lot of the time players will be looking to join a group when the battles start. As long as you know what you're supposed to do, you should be fine, though. The good thing about the zone is that the map will show you where battles are and where vehicle movement is taking place, so even if you're going solo, you'll have an idea of where to head for some action.
If you're on the fence about picking up this album (or some of its tracks), remember that the Echoes of War site has some sample music that you can check out. Personally? I'm a fan. I adore how Blizzard uses music in their games. Still, there are a few tracks I don't care for since Diablo III will be the first one I'll have ever played (shameful, I know), and I have no emotional attachment or memories tied to those tracks at all. They're pretty music but not something I'd listen to every day. The Starcraft and Warcraft tracks are definitely cool to have, though.
Yes, our weekly podcast is going live again today, and it should be a great show: BRK is returning to us again (though I promise there won't be nearly as much Hunter talk in the show this week), and our own Amanda Dean will join us on the virtual airwaves. We'll be talking about Winter's Veil, how to take down Loken, good deals gone bad, Blizzard's new ads, and everything else that happened in the World of Warcraft this past week.
And as usual we'll be chatting live and answering your emails -- you can send us questions, comments, insights or insanity at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you send something right now you might even hear it on the show today. It all starts at 3:30pm Eastern over on our Ustream page, or I've embedded the feed right here on this post after the break. And as usual, we'll have a quick aftershow right after we turn off the recording, so if you tune in live, that's about 10% more show to listen to (and that's when we say all the fun stuff).
See you this afternoon, and hope you enjoy the show.
This picture, taken in Ironforge by Zenaik of <Alts Anonymous> on Turalyon, shows that the power of the holiday spirit quickly pales next to the prospect of acquiring a Black War Bear. But I suppose that peace on Earth and good will towards men can take another one for the team again this year, hmm?
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I have a confession to make. I don't have as much time to play this game as I'd like. With the Holidays coming around, there's just a lot to be done... last minute shopping for gifts, family dinners, and rushing work all on top of taking care of an increasingly hyperactive thirteen month old toddler. My wife and I find it difficult to raid with our future Horde crying for attention and trying to tug at our set-ups' wires from underneath our tables. With merely a few hours a week to play, I think my wife and I have become something of casual players.
That said, we've gotten our share of playing time and snagged a few epics here and there. I made sure to craft myself a Titansteel Destroyer and a Spiked Titansteel Helm just so I don't have to worry about drops from normal Naxxramas. Not that we do it a lot, anyway. I log in roughly every 2.5 hours to make sure I play some Wintergrasp and do the dailies there. My wife makes sure to do at least her Jewelcrafting daily quest and logs in to Research or Smelt Titansteel. Even casually, though, the game's been pretty good to us. Wrath gives such awesome rewards now that even with little playing time, we slowly get geared up.
What would you say are the best things to do with casual play? I thought it was an appropriate question because a lot of us are going to get some playing time this weekend and with the Holidays coming around. This is usually Robin Torres' domain, and she has excellent suggestions every time (another WoW Casually is coming out today, yay!). What are you casual players doing this weekend? What gives the most bang for the buck? I was planning to do Wintergrasp, but maybe you've got a better suggestion...
Whether you enjoy achievements or not, Winter's Veil has arrived in the world of Azeroth with a full set of achievements and its own title. (Doesn't everyone want to be a merrymaker?) And just in time for the holidays we're launching WRUP (read as "what are youplaying") where the WoW Insider team talks about what they're going to be up to this weekend in-game and we invite you to, as well. But what's this about achievements? I point you to Daniel and Daniel's weekend to-do lists:
Daniel "BigRedKitty" Howell: Cramming guildies through heroics, running 10-man Naxx and Satharian, putting down the tools after getting leatherworking to 450, chugging through Sons of Hodir, and trying to find the one quest I need in Borean Tundra to get that zone done, thus completing the achievement for getting all zone-quest-achievements done. I loathe achievements. Daniel Whitcomb: Trying to ding 80 on Death Knight and get revered with both Wyrmrest Accord and Argent Crusade while also finishing up my Winter Veil achievements. I love achievements.
I think this is the start of a beautiful argument. For the rest of the team, read on.
No matter what your political persuasion is, we can all find the above animation funny. President Bush had a shoe thrown at him last week, and this week we've seen the incident take on a World of Warcraft spin.
The person throwing the shoe is playing an Elemental Shaman. He or she really needs to clean up their UI: as you can see in the above picture, it's not very good. Way too many buttons spaced out at odd intervals.
While we were originally under the impression that the shoe throwing incident took place in Iraq, it appears via the mini-map that it actually took place in Thousand Needles. Perhaps if the President ate some Tracker Snacks he'd have avoided the incident all together, as "Ghostrunner" (aka "Greg Highway") say the buff will include reporter tracking in patch 3.0.8.
And just to be completely bipartisan, after the break is a screenshot of President Elect Obama's WoW screen after he earned the "President of the United States" achievement.
Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.
Engineering has seen many changes over the past year, and Wrath of the Lich King brought even more. Today, Insider Trader is taking a look at some of the highlights of the profession to help you set goals and plan ahead with your leveling.
Holy Paladin goggles added in patch 3.0.8 - Fri, 19 Dec 2008 18:00:00 EST Holy Paladin Engineers can finally rejoice, because patch 3.0.8 is bringing them the goggles that have been oddly missing from Wrath thus far. The highly anticipated Unbreakable Healing Amplifiers are pretty good, and just like the other Northrend goggles, they only require level 72 to wear. While many peoples' mains will outgrow these goggles in 10-man raids, they're perfect for breaking into raids or twinking out an Engineering alt. Along with all the usual Engineering sorts of things, the stats are:
So they're pretty good! But they don't really hold up to raid gear. As for our Feral Druid buddies who also happen to be missing some goggles, I'm not 100% sure if they've opened up the Leather goggles to you yet, but if it hasn't happened yet it probably will. The addition of these goggles shows that they're aware of the problem, at least. If I had a Druid I would hop onto the PTR and take a look, but alas, I do not.
Widespread connectivity issues abound today - Fri, 19 Dec 2008 17:30:00 EST Users of Comcast and Verizon are experiencing technical difficulties today in their connectivity to the game. They are experiencing this in both connecting to the actual game, and then maintaining a good connection once in the game.
Blue poster Claudiog is seeking more information from the community on the technical support forums. In particular he's looking for traceroutes from affected users. Head over to their forums (ignoring their own ads) and help them out if you're struck with these issues.
Some users are stating that the Los Angeles datacenters are the culprits for the connectivity issues. However we want to caution users that Blizzard has made no official statement about their datacenters.
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.
I have to admit, there were one idea brought up in the comments yesterday that I'm completely in support of: Kael'thas returning as a Lich. Hell. Yes. Not aligned with the Scourge, but self-fueled and up to his own machinations again. Kael'thas has been one of my favorite villains, watching his fall into desperation through WCIII and The Burning Crusade. Lich Kael would own so hard.
That's enough of that, though. On with the questions!
Leprakahn asked... I remember reading during Wrath beta that at the end of inscription scribes were going to get a 7th glyph slot, what happened to that? Did it get scrapped completely or will it come with a later patch?
[1:Local]: Perspectives on WoW past, present and future - Fri, 19 Dec 2008 16:00:00 EST Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week. Be sure to dive into the comments area of each thread (not this one!) and add your own thoughts - unlike your mama, we like us some hot, fresh backtalk.
We don't miss that at all This Breakfast Topic, which looked back at the little annoyances we're not sorry have gone the way of the dodo, included plenty of nostalgia for the epic-length Alterac Valleys of old. Players claimed to have hated them back then - but they seem to miss them now that they're a thing of the past.
A number of readers pegged a different annoyance that early WoW players remember with chagrin. "One of the things I remember with the least amount of fondness is unconnected flight paths," noted lightningjynx. "There wasn't the clicking a destination halfway across the world and going to do something productive while you waited. No, you had to stare at your character flying to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, unless you had all the flight path times memorized and played that way.""Wow, yeah, I had forgotten about that," agreed MadScientist17. "Had to try to remember which flight points went where."
We agree, too - but ultimately, we think Veil has the pointiest point: "Definitely don't miss old Andorhal. That place was an f'ing death trap."
After loading the first addon, you must subscribe to a list appropriate to your region. The second addon gets rid of the grey frame left where the ad was. The original poster gave us handy dandy instructions on how to use it:
Load a random thread on the WoW forums, any will do. See that annoying grey frame?
Right click on the frame.
Go to RIP Advanced.
First choose "Remove from this Domain"
Go to RIP Advanced again, Next click "Remove all similar parent items."
The entire process took less than three minutes and my forums look just like they did before. For the most part we should be used to online advertising. You can just ignore them, but if you're really that annoyed by it do something about it. I also won't hear the objection that you don't use Firefox. You should. I'd check into how to remove ads for IE, but I'm not willing to load Exploder on either of my computers.
Thanks to Lure and everyone else who offered similar simple solutions. If only there were an addon to block the trolls, we'd be all set.
When coming into a new spec and role, one of the things you find yourself doing at first is making constant small adjustments. Part of this is simply the nature of the beast. You've been a PvP arms warrior for most of TBC, for example, but now you're a raiding Arms DPS warrior and you need different things from your spec, which in addition is pretty significantly changed from what it was at level 70. Or you were a tank for the original endgame, but stepped away for a while and then came back in time to level to 70 just before the expansion, and are now looking at what you need to do to get ready to tank 10 man raids for your small guild, and are realizing that the leveling prot spec you were using isn't quite up to it.
Or you could be fury again after tanking for over a year and you realize that your spec has points in all the wrong places and you have too much hit and not enough crit or AP on your gear. Not that I'd know what that was like. Okay, so I do. In fairness to me, it's not like I intended to be sitting at 550 hit rating and once I stopped and looked at the upgrades I've recently acquired, I realized that I'd gone overboard on hit to the detriment of crit and AP. It's true that the white hit cap for fury is somewhere around 950 hit rating but I'm easily over the 361 or so you need for specials while dual wielding. Assuming that the miss chance for special attacks is 9%, and not 8%, as I've been hearing lately - if it's 8% now, which seems fairly well tested and proved by this point, then you can shift how much hit I need with TG down the table. Once they drop the 5% penalty on specials, you can drop it even further. So while making that soft hit cap on special attacks is very important, you can do it with roughly half the hit rating I've accidentally collected. What I need now is crit and AP. Not related to any of this, but check out this post from the EJ forums and boggle at the significance of passive haste somehow adding hit.