Gamers on the Street logs onto U.S. servers to get the word from the front on what's going on in and around the World of Warcraft. Lisa is absent this week, so instead Mike Schramm went to Cenarius to talk directly to ingame players.
When I headed into the game this week to do this column, both Krystalle and Lisa (who usually does GotS) warned me that it was rough out there, and that players weren't really into chatting with random people about what they thought about the past week in Warcraft. But I have to say -- the denizens of Cenarius treated me as well as can be expected. I logged in on my level 30 mage Erban, sent out a tell in /Trade (sorry for spamming, Cenarius-ians), and pretty soon I got two nice players to chat with me. We talked mostly about what they'd been up to in game, what they're looking ahead to with patch 2.4, whether Noblegarden sucks (spoiler: it does), and just how much they'd pay (or their guild would charge) for that Zul'aman bear mount.
Every Wednesday (it's usually Wednesday, anyway), Chris Jahosky brings you another page of Tales from the Lion's Pride Inn, a WoW webcomic you'll find only on WoW Insider!
This week, our characters are starting to deal with the aftermath of the Naga attack. For some, the loss is a little more personal. As the Naga will soon find out, they killed the wrong person. As usual, click the image above to view today's page, or the gallery below to start from the beginning.
Don't forget to click the "High Res" button in the upper right of the gallery to view today's page at full size!
The WoTLK Bestiary has been updated today with the next monster in the series: the Iron Dwarf. These fearsome creatures, uncovered by the Dwarven Explorer's League in the Howling Fjord, are apparently a missing link between the Earthen and the Dwarves, an Iron-skinned race with runes of power etched on their skin. Unfortunately, they appear to be nearly as surly and destructive as the Troggs, not only fighting against the Explorer's League, but outright destroying any artifacts that the Explorer's League could find useful.
There's not too much info on them yet, only a few paragraphs and a sketch, but it's certainly exciting to see a new chapter in the storyline of the Dwarves. The Iron Dwarves look like they may be the next step in the storyline that began at Uldaman, another piece of the puzzle of the Titans, so that could have reprecussions for all races, and give us more insight into the origin of Azeroth itself. Perhaps we'll encounter more of them at Ulduar, or at the ancient Dwarven citadel of Thor Modan, or find out that they have their own copy of the Plates of Uldum or other such historical artifacts.
I'm making another claim, so armorsmiths, get ready to jump in the comments and prove me wrong: This helmet is the highest non-shield armor item in the game. We've covered some niceshields before (and those are pretty much all Armor), but this helm from Zul'Aman has the highest armor value of a non-shield piece of armor that I could find. Update: Yup, commenters have a few pieces with more armor on them (although, yes, PLP only deals with gear on the live realms, so 2.4 gear doesn't count yet). I'll get you next time, readers!
Red, Yellow, and Blue sockets, with a socket bonus of +6 Stamina
Equip: increases your Dodge rating by 23, shield block rating by 40, and block value of your shield by 51
Word is going around that this is going to change after patch 2.4, however: the shield block rating will be dropped, and the helm will instead raise defense rating directly by 40. That's not confirmed yet, and even if it's been seen on the PTR, there's no guarantee it'll make it to the live realms.
But either way, this is a great tanking helm. In some situations, it even rivals T6, but the best part about it is that you don't even need 25 people to get it. (see below)
Plus, it does look pretty cool. At first I thought that was a bird of some kind, but instead it's a Troll's face, complete with jutting tusks. If you like the tribal look of the Zul'Aman gear (and I do), you'll like this helm.
How to Get It: It drops from Hex Lord Malacrass, the second to last boss in Zul'Aman. He's not a super nice guy (and he's got a mean Soul Drain), but the good news is that even though he's tough, ZA is still only a 10 man instance. So even if you don't have more than 9 friends to raid with, you can still pick up a great helm like this. It won't be easy, but get him down a few times (drop rate is about 15-20%), be a tank (if your MT is good, he may have gotten something better already, so offtanks have a pretty good chance at this too), and the helm is all yours.
Getting Rid of It: Disenchants into a Void Crystal, and sells to vendors for 7g 30s 2c. You may want to keep it around for Halloween, though -- that's a troll face that only a troll mama could love.
Episode 8 of The Guild is up for your viewing pleasure, and the whole cast rebounds in the aftermath of Zaboo's rash action last time around. And tragedy strikes when a familiar face returns. In fact, it's a familiar "toolface." Funny.
And in other Guild news, you can probably chalk us up as hitmakers now -- they won that series YouTube award they were up for, and in fact picked up another award as well over at Yahoo! Video. And Felicia Day, writer and star of the series (whom we interviewed back in the beginning), is picking up some buzz as well -- she's not only shown up in that Cheetos commercial you've seen like 500 times now, but she's going to be starring in a (trust me, if you haven't heard this yet, your mind is about to be blown) a musical web series called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog," which also stars Nathon Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris, and written and directed by none other than Joss Whedon. No, I am not kidding -- it's a fanstravaganza.
So exciting times for The Guild. Hopefully they can figure out what to do about the "toolface," and hopefully Felicia won't get too famous to remember her little web series about World of Warcraft. Save Zaboo!
I know I'm a curmudgeon and a grinch. Many times I just have to step back and say okay, I just don't get it.
But seriously, why exactly does everyone seem to want a Figureprint? I just don't understand the appeal. I mean, at this point I have fairly decent gear, but I just don't understand why I would want a little model of my character. For one thing, it's not like the gear I'd end up immortalized in would stay good very long (there' s an expansion on the way and all) and furthermore, it's not like you can get the Figureprint updated, you'd basically have to buy another.
That of course assumes you'd get to buy one at all. The way it works, you don't get to order a Figureprint, you sign up for a drawing and if you get lucky, then you can buy one. Are these things really that awesome that it's worth waiting months for a chance to get one? There's some back and forth on the construction process and the finished product in this forum thread but that didn't really help me any. Reading the interview Mike did with the founder of the company made it sound pretty cool, actually. But thinking printing stuff on plastic in the manner described sounds cool doesn't really help me figure out why folks are so astonishingly into these things.
Is it to motivate you to get better gear? Honestly, help me out here. Has anyone reading this actually bought one yet? How does it look? Did you think it was worth it, and why'd you decide to get one in the first place?
If you listened to the show last week, you may have heard that this week's podcast was supposed to be all about multiboxing, with a special guest, but unfortunately we've had to postpone that show (so look for it at some point in the future). But worry not, because this week on the podcast we're bringing back fan favorite Elizabeth Wachowski (and we're going to ask her to talk about some of the lore in the Burning Crusade), and other fan favorite Amanda Dean, who is always insightful. Fan super favorite Turpster will be on as well, and fan not-so-favorite Mike Schramm, also known as me, will be present and accounted for, too.
Welcome back, my friends, today we are going to inspect Quartz, a cast-bar addon. Let me start this off by noting that this addon not only changes the default cast bars, but also adds some great features for those of you who want more feedback from the World of Warcraft client.
If you check out any of the major addon sites, you will more than likely find an older version, one that still functions, so it might suit your needs. If you want the most recent version, the WoW Ace Files site has the continuously updated version.
To open the configuration window for Quartz, use the following slash command:
This will open up the options interface, where you can change the cast bars to your liking. One feature I found nice was the Merge Tradeskill option, which will take multiple casts of the same tradeskill and puts them into one cast bar, with a countdown timer. I like to know how much time I have to run and grab a beer when creating what seems like a thousand bandages.
Scattered Shots: Weapon choices - Fri, 21 Mar 2008 15:00:00 EST (Apologies for the late posting of Scattered Shots. Next week we'll be back on our Thursday schedule.)
Last week I covered crowd control using traps. This week, filling in for David, I'll discuss the options available to hunters for weapon choice: ranged and melee alike. Hunters have a wide variety of weapons we can train, but our main concern is usually going to be ranged weapons: the bow, crossbow, and gun. Secondary to the ranged weapon of course is what we carry at our sides. Hunters can train in every weapon style except for maces (one and two hand) and wands. It's not technically a weapon, but for the sake of this discussion it's important to note that hunters cannot train in the use of shields. What this means is that there's a lot of weapons we can use, while not all of them are weapons that we should.
Adding to the decision is the fact that we hunters can learn to dual wield one handed weapons at level twenty. With one weapon, you tend to get more punch close up, but with two weapons you might lose some damage in melee, but gain an extra weapon's worth of stat bonuses, enchantments, and other augmentations. Each weapon you have equipped contributes its individual bonuses, if any, so it's a good idea to weigh the options, even for melee weapons which you might hardly ever use.
Earlier in the column, I recommended a low level hunter train in a two handed weapon early, since the first ten levels involve a greater percentage of melee combat, prior to getting a pet to handle your aggro. I'll talk about where to train what weapons, what augmentations you can add to weapons, and which ranged weapons are the best, after the jump!
V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.
You've formed your ideal Arena team. You have great expectations and diligently put in time and effort to claw your way up the ratings. You dust yourself off after defeats and trudge on, knowing that great things will come your way if you persist.
Gradually your team rating improves, and the sweet taste of victory more than makes up for the disappointment of defeats. You move past 1600, and 1700 eventually. You notice that victories are becoming scarcer, and defeats seem a lot more painful. Your team hits 1800 - woot! - and suddenly match wins seem to all but dry up - and your weekly matches start to feel like exercises in futility.
Welcome to hardcore Arena - where your opponents are much more likely to be decked out in full Season 3 gear and less likely to give you an "easy" win. You start to run into a lot more cookie-cutter comps - you know, the ones you read about here. The queues are long but the matches are short - and you've run out of encouraging or witty things to say to your team while waiting. It's almost an awkward, seething silence between matches, and the game becomes a test of patience. "Did I sign up for this?" You ask yourself.
The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Yikes, don't do that! - Fri, 21 Mar 2008 13:30:00 EST The Care and Feeding of Warriors grinds ever onward. This week, Matthew Rossi has picked out one of his 70 warriors who hasn't been getting as much love and has dedicated him to PvP, trying to gear him up for Arena. At the moment, he has a nice mace and not much else. In the process, he's also had to farm up some money for enchants and armor kits, leading to witnessing some interesting behavior. Interesting like the times can get, if you know what we mean.
I try and keep my various characters separate financially when they're on the same server, because the temptation to rob all of your alts to pay for your main can be overwhelming at times. I mean, I've done it. Only two of my 70's have their flying mounts because every time it looks like one of the others might make the cash, I get a hankering for a flask or what have you and I raid them. Sad for poor Sarnie pictured over there, in his mix of crafted blues and whatever greens dropped/were quest rewards. In a quest to find some use for him I've decided to take him into the Arena, which has led to increased BG's for the guy. I had enough honor for a couple of pieces of armor for him, but my impulse buying soul grabbed the mace instead.
In addition to it making PvP possible (mace stun means that even my crappy 9k health behind can contribute, if I eat some stam food and use commanding shout to get him above 10k health) the mace has made farming cobra scales and signets/marks easier in Shadowmoon. I like farming there because not many people seem to on my server of choice for Alliance, good ol' Norgannon, or maybe I'm just an insomniac.
Preparations for the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational are in full swing. Tickets are on sale for the event, which will take place on June 28th and 29th in Paris, France. Of course, your ticket gives you access to both days, but what Blizzard event ticket wouldn't be complete without a good old fashioned goody bag? Blizzard goody bags usually contains some pretty awesome swag (check out the contents of the Blizzcon '07 goody bag if you need a refresher), and it looks like this bag won't be any different.
So far, Blizzard has revealed that you can expect to find a beta key for an upcoming Blizzard game and an exclusive in-game pet for the World of Warcraft in your bag. There's no word on which game the beta will be, which makes me wonder if it might even be an as yet unannounced title. After all, They've told us that Starcraft 2 and Wrath of the Lich King will be playable at the event, so it might be a bit late to hand out beta keys for those games. Then again, perhaps I'm just really, really wishing for a new Diablo game. They're keeping mum on the identity of the in-game pet so far as well. We've already had 2 Murloc-relatedrewards from the Blizzcons, so with Wrath of the Lich King coming out, perhaps we'll see a pet Gorloc. Then again, Murlocs might be a little played out, so I'm going to root for a penguin, I think. Blizzard's promised to reveal more about the contents of the goody bag as the date of the Invitational draws nearer, so hopefully we'll have more news for you on that front soon.
Of course, if the goody bag alone isn't quite enough, Blizzard's promised that there will be exclusive commemorative swag to win in contests or buy at the event as well, just like at last year's Blizzcon. Be sure to keep your browser tuned right here to WoW Insider, we'll let you in on all future loot announcements and all the Worldwide Invitational news as it happens.
According to Ian Beckman, Blizzard has a trailer for the new 2.4 patch that they don't want you to see. In the Blizzard-issued version, Kael'thas believes that the Sunwell is the root of all evil and destroys it. When the destruction makes things worse, he turns to Illidan Stormrage for help.
Ian's version, however, tells the story of monsters that overtake the "pool of awesome." Kael'thas has an identity crisis and it just gets really random from there. If you like all things fun and happy, then this is the Sunwell for you! I wonder why Blizzard would cover up something so cool?
While alchemy is certainly not the most flashy or popular profession out there, alchemists are an integral part of the game, and any guild worth its salt has at least one, preferably several, working to supply guildmates and fill the guild bank with stacks of consumables and transmuted items.
This week's leveling guide will feature the usual cheapest route, and the most useful, to 375 for solos and casuals.
For those of you who will be working for your guild (and hopefully are also being financed, or supported by herbalists), we'll show you how to reach 375 by making the most useful items. They might cost more, but your guild will be requiring them anyway, so you might as well get your skill points that way, rather than making stacks of items you won't be using.
Player Ariochlee of the Ghostland realm was questing in Un'goro Crater when he came across this tree. And as anyone who spent any time in that jungle oasis in the desert knows, this is a sign that something large and prehistoric is sneaking up behind you to send you on a one way trip to the graveyard. Boy, I don't miss that place.
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 email@example.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. This means you. I'm not kidding, yours is not the exception. No, really. Sigh.
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.
You are most welcome to download this movie (36.4MB) by right-clicking here.
A great big Thank You to the WoWInsider editors for allowing us to publish this movie both here and on our little blog at the same time!
Daniel Howell continues his quest to enslave... NO, EDUCATE! yeah, educate the WoW-playing masses as the hunter-pet duo extraordinaire known to lore as BigRedKitty. More of his theorycrafting and slanderous belittling of the lesser classes can be found at www.bigredkitty.net.
As recently reported, Kharmen EU Talnivarr has reportedly paid 20,000 gold for the Amani War Bear.Kharmen reportedly raised the cash for the enormous land epic ride on her which raised questions about how much gold grinding would trigger a gold farming alert.
The 20,000 price tag seems pretty outrageous considering I'm still puttering along, like many others, on my regular Windriders on all of my 70s.If the Artisan Riding Skill were important to me, I'd make more of an effort to save the 5,000 gold for the mount, but I find it to be low on my priority list.There is no indication that the cost of epic flight will be reduced in the future.
Boubouille from MMO-Champion has recently posted this "leaked" screenshot of Kil'jaeden in-game. According to the sender, this shot of Sunwell Plateau's final boss was leaked from a GM.
"Keep in mind that it could be a fake, it's not "that" hard to get the 2.4 running on an emulated server and spawn Kil'jaeden, in this case his scale on live servers could be different," warns Boubouille.
Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, as we all know, is the eredar Supreme Commander of the Burning Legion, perhaps only second to Sargeras in the badass pecking order. With his appearance in-game and a chance for 25 intrepid mortals to "take him down", the lore implications are interesting. Granted, we only get to deal with "half" of him (the rest of him is submerged in the Sunwell), but lore-inclined raiders will certainly be itching to take a shot at him, at least until Arthas/Ner'Zhul/the Lich King makes an appearance in WoTLK.
I'm not certain of the authenticity of the screenshot myself, but Killie definitely looks constipated and evil enough here to be the real deal.
Tickets for the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, being held this year in Paris, France, are now on sale according to the official website. The event, taking place on June 28th and 29th, promises to be a big one. Not only will there be invitational tournaments, but you can expect developer panels, auctions, loot galore, and the thing we're most looking forward, playable versions of Wrath of the Lich King and Starcraft 2.
If you have any chance of being able to make it out to the City of Lights this summer, we'd strongly recommend buying a ticket, it sounds like it's going to be a blast for Blizzard fans, whether competitive tournament play is your thing or not. We'd also recommend staying tuned to WoW Insider for all the latest information on this event and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion!
Blizzard's internal tools need an upgrade - Thu, 20 Mar 2008 17:00:00 EST Susana of Hyjal speculates about something I've thought about a few times before -- just what exactly are Blizzard's internal development tools like? Most games that have mapmakers can churn out new maps pretty rapidly, but we've had the same BG maps for years now, and only one or two per year since then. And even the created maps aren't fixed easily, apparently -- a few map tweaks on WSG would probably fix the turtling problem, but Blizzard instead is tweaking the rules to fix things. Just what is Blizzard using to make their game that they take so long with development?
To be fair, the rules here are a little more complicated than most first-person shooters (since you can do a lot more than just shoot at each other), so obviously the maps would presumably be a little more complicated as well. But in the age when players have access to the Neverwinter Nights toolset and even the Forge on Halo 3, surely it's a little crazy that Blizzard takes months to release one map, when other great games can pump out whole packs of them in the same time.
Now, this is WoW Insider, so it's ok if you're a Blizzard apologist. It's fine for you to say "Blizzard has the biggest game in the world not despite the fact that they're so slow, but because of it," and it's fine for you to be a fanboy/girl and say you'd rather wait three years for a Blizzard-quality Arathi Basin than play a whole "Hidden Fronts" pack. And the truth is that when Blizzard does release content, they don't disappoint. But we're still left wondering just why, after doing this for so long and having so much practice at it, it still takes them so long to do it.