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Ask a Lore Nerd: Portals, pandaren, and Jaina Proudmoore - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week Alex Ziebart answers your quests about the lore in the World of Warcraft. If you have any questions, no matter how big or small they might be, ask them in the comments section below and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

Let's get this party started with Lionheart's question...

What is that barred off instance looking portal thing in Stormwind, by Old Town? Were the gates once open?

There are actually two of these in Stormwind. Neither of them were ever open, they're relics of unfinished projects. One is a closed off little guarded island in the Canals. That one was going to be the Stormwind Vault, probably a dungeon like Arcatraz or the upcoming Violet Hold in Dalaran. Probably.

There's also the barred off one at the end of the Canals, right down the way from that one. This is probably the one you're referring to, I'm going to guess? I don't think we've gotten a real answer on this was supposed to be, but it was probably going to be the portal to player housing. They actually did start work on player housing at one point, but never got far. There are relics of it in the game files. Half completed houses/structures, things like that. They all use the Stormwind motif for their appearance, and they would have to put it somewhere. Through this portal is a safe bet.

thinice asked...

Jaina Proudmoore and Arthas. Any chance they'll hook up against in the future? What are the details of their history together?

Continue reading Ask a Lore Nerd: Portals, pandaren, and Jaina Proudmoore

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WoW, Casually: Get thee to Brewfest! - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player who has limited playtime.

Brewfest is here and unless you are opposed to virtual beer-related events, you should get down to Ironforge or Orgrimmar and join the fun. It isn't as casual-friendly as the Midsummer Fire Festival, but it's a blast and every activity can be done by a player with very little playtime, even the boss: Coren Direbrew.

Unlike the Fire Festival, you don't get experience by the fistfuls for levelers or cash rewards to fill your coffers, but there is the Brew of the Month Club and, seriously, how can you resist that? There will be Achievements awarded for obtaining many of the Brewfest goodies, including drinking every beer you get in the club, so belly up to the bar and start Chugging and Chucking.

Join us after the break for some tips and tricks to get the most out of your Brewfest experience.

Continue reading WoW, Casually: Get thee to Brewfest!

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"Tigole Deep-Breaths more" - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST
Interesting note from the forums, although apparently quite a few threads are being deleted or locked even as I write this; Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan appeared momentarily in this thread written by a player complaining about the 51-point Restoration Shaman talent, Riptide. The original poster notes Blizzard's guiding philosophy of never shipping a game before they're truly done with it, and contrasts that with the fact that some of Riptide's visual and audio effects are unlikely to be finished in time for Wrath (the spell itself is apparently 100% functional, just not the bells and whistles Blizzard usually programs to accompany player spells and abilities).

Another player down the thread characterizes this as Blizzard caving to demands made by Activision. Tigole appears a few comments down to ban the first commenter for "trolling," adding that the game is still being worked on. The second of the two commenters mentioned is then handed a ban by Tigole as well. One of the response threads that appears to have survived is here, with a set of reactions ranging from sympathy to Tigole to a recountment of EverQuest history to concern over how the two players were banned.

I'm somewhat torn, and had wondered whether the whole thing was a joke; I've not seen Tigole appear on the forums to ban people before (although it's entirely possible he has and I've just missed it). I've seen worse behavior on the forums escape official comment, but it does seem as if the number of complaints (rational or not) has hit fever pitch on the discussion boards. And -- let's be frank -- a lot of it does seem like pretty pointless carping. I've had a chance to see the beta myself now, and I don't think anyone could realistically accuse Blizzard of skipping its usual attention to detail (indeed, the only running complaint I've seen on the beta servers is that they're too popular). Still, these particular bans seem a little out of the ordinary, unless there's something going on I haven't seen.

**EDIT: as of 4:12 pm EST, it looks like the above referenced response post has also been deleted, but the original source thread is still intact.**

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PvE to PvP transfer impact - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST
Since PvE to PvP transfer option became available, I've kept a close eye on my own realm to see if there'd be any discernible change to transfer patterns both on and off. As far as I can tell -- no. I've seen a few people transfer off but there doesn't seem to be any more so than usual. Only a few players did so purely for the purpose of PvPing on a different battlegroup, and most of them, like Zach Yonzon, had previously been PvP-realm transfers or rerolls anyway.

The flood of high-level PvE to PvP transfers gloomily predicted by many doesn't seem to have materialized. People who'd rather play on a PvE realm are doing just that, and most of the people who'd rather play on a PvP realm were already there (never saw that one coming, eh?). I thought at the time that Blizzard's decision would probably have its biggest impact, not on PvP players, but on PvE raiders who had previously been restricted to recruiting PvP-to-PvP, PvE-to-PvE or (much less commonly) PvP-to-PvE only. If you've ever been in a raiding guild which found great recruits from the "wrong" kind of realm, you're probably familiar with what a headache that was.

I play on a medium population PvE realm that launched when Burning Crusade hit. Since we're not really at the cutting edge of either PvE or PvP content as a result, mine is probably a bad sample size as we're not a hotbed of transfers either way. So, I'm not sure if my own experience is representative. If you're playing on a medium-to-high population realm, either PvE or PvP, are you noticing any difference to the traffic patterns, on or off? If you're on a low-population realm, has your situation improved or worsened?

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Wowhead offers another chance to win Tyrael - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 14:10:00 EST


Do you still need a Wrath of the Lich King beta key? Or perhaps you covet your very own mini-Tyrael (which you can now bestow on all your characters)? If so, you may want to check out Wowhead's latest contest, which is once again giving away cards from the Worldwide Invitational with codes for the LK beta and for Tyraels. Happily, this one is open to both EU and US. It's happening today, starting at 4:00 EST (1:00 PST), which is just under two hours from now. It's a similar format to their previous contest (which unfortunately had to be cancelled), but with a twist:
  • The goal is to identify five screenshots, figuring out which exact Wowhead pages those screenshots are displayed on.
  • When you get all five answers, put the URLs of the Wowhead pages corresponding to the screenshots in an email to contest@wowhead.com. Make sure your answers are in order.
  • At 4:00, a heavily altered version of the screenshots are posted (seems to be run through a random Photoshop filter). This is phase one, and if anyone could recognize a phase one screenshot, I'd be amazed (see above for an example).
  • At 4:20 (phase two), the images are posted in a slightly less altered form, though they're still pretty hard to recognize.
  • At 4:40, for phase three, the images are brought even closer to their original form. In yesterday's round, the winning entries were sent within two minutes after phase three started.
  • At 5:00, the original images are posted.
  • The first five people to email in a correct set of answers will receive a WWI card.

To see yesterday's pictures, including the answer to what the heck the screenshot above is (no, I'm not going to give it away here), check out the contest thread on the Wowhead forums. That's also where today's screenshots are going to be posted, starting at 4:00 EST (1:00 PST). Get ready!

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WoW Moviewatch: The evolution of a Warlock - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

Inspired by Noah Kalina, the Brooklyn photographer that took his picture every day for six and a half years, DerangedTaco captured a photo of his Warlock every time he changed gear. The resulting timelapse is a journey from roughly level 20, all the way up to level 70. He worked his way from level 70 blues, and then progressed into S1 and S2 items. Due to the upcoming release of Wrath of the Lich King, he doesn't plan to get anymore upgrades, but the video is still pretty interesting!

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Lichborne: Guys and Ghouls - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST
Welcome to Lichborne, where we ask the tough questions: Will Death Knights be ready for launch? Will they really have 3 trees that can tank and DPS? And what kind of a ghoul name is Eyeslobber?

Ghouls
have been one of my most beloved features of the Death Knight for some now. I like having an undead squire by my side, and they can be pretty useful for some extra dps and even some lifesaving interference in a pinch. However, they also felt like one of the least firmed up aspects of a Death Knight for some time now, with abilities coming and going on a patchly basis, and bugs that kept the ghoul from being summoned or allowed to summon a massive army of ghouls in no time flat.

Still, they have their uses, and despite still being incredibly flimsy healthwise, do offer a decent amount of extra damage when they're up. The drawback is that 50 silver is a lot for a pet that lasts less than 5 minutes, and without points in the Unholy tree, the Ghoul is completely uncontrollable, and may have a tendency to run into suicidal situations without listening to a word you say.

As far as perfecting the Ghoul and deciding on its place in the class, there seems to be two schools of thought. The first, mostly made of Unholy specced Death Knights, sees the Ghoul as a fun and useful part of the class, and wants to see it tweaked to have good survivability, good dps, and generally be worth keeping out. The other class see Ghouls as mostly a novelty, a thing to be bought out occasionally, and such a pain to upkeep that they don't really want to have to deal with it as a pillar of the class. They'd rather be able to forget it exists when they want to.

Both positions have their passionate supporters, but Blizzard seems to have found a rather ingenious way to give both sides what they want: Talents. Recent talent changes provide a lot of buffs, and if you collect them all, you should have a much easier time using your ghoul to your hearts content.


Continue reading Lichborne: Guys and Ghouls

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Around Azeroth: Jump in the line - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST

We all knew that druids often cooperate cross-faction, but hunters? This multicultural line of hunters was witnessed by Lohrr of The Venture Company on the latest PTR, after beast mastery hunters gained the 51-point-talent ability to tame exotic pets. Among the most popular pets was the core hound, and the unique skin of the Kurken in the draenei starting area lured many hunters to Azuremyst Isle. Plus, who wants to go back to Molten Core? Instead of fighting for the tame, the hunters apparently made a line and helped each other out, frost trapping and /cheering after a successful attempt. If only the queue had been that orderly back when I was attempting to get the Core Hound Tooth!

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? 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 strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.

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Sunday Morning Funnies: 10-20 years and 50% off your teeth - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST
Another Sunday, another list of comics, and a friendly reminder that the annual holiday, Brewfest, is underway! If you haven't headed over yet, or haven't done any of the holiday dailies for today, then move along! If you plan ahead, you can even get the achievement and title! There are also mounts, trinkets and a host of prizes to be had.

Humor

Humor on a plot-line
Other

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Breakfast Topic: Steak on eggs - Sun, 21 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST
After posting two articles concerning mount-related issues yesterday (Engineering mounts in Wrath and the changes to the Brewfest ram/kodo), I went back to Blackrock Depths with a group to have another crack at everyone's newest best friend, Coren Direbrew. This time I was in the company of a half-crazed warlock determined to get both Brewfest mounts. He'd missed his chance at the ram last year and sworn up and down that it would never happen again, only to be aghast at Blizzard's decision to make both mounts a boss drop. To him, I imagine, it was time to knuckle down and show that ugly, yellow-bellied, boot-licking, random-number-generator just who was boss. However, as the day wore on, he realized that -- insulting the random number generator? Not a good idea.

Continue reading Breakfast Topic: Steak on eggs

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Planning for the Brewmaster title in advance - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST


A lot of people are understandably upset that the Brewfest mounts are now boss drops instead of buyable items. I've heard from no small number of folks who saved their Brewfest tickets from last year's event in order to purchase the mount with less hassle this year, only to discover that -- oops -- that wasn't in the cards. One particularly irate guildie logged off to go enjoy a mini-Brewfest of her own courtesy of the fridge after discovering that the ingame version wasn't going to cough up a ram.

The new boss, Coren Direbrew, is pretty cool and I'm happy to see older content being made relevant again (especially when it's an instance as cool as BRD), but as far as I can tell from the forums and various data sites, the drop rate on the mounts is...less than spectacular. I'm seeing estimates that range from as little as 1% to as much as 15%. Blue poster Kisirani pops up to say it's "much, much easier" to get a Brewfest mount drop than it was to get the Sinister Squashling off the Headless Horseman. Wowhead lists the Squashling as a 2% drop, so maybe the 15% figure for the Brewfest mounts is more accurate.

The mount might be a crapshoot, but you can cover the other bases on an upcoming Achievement and title by planning ahead:

Continue reading Planning for the Brewmaster title in advance

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Blizzard unveils the Blizzcon store - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST
The 2008 Blizzcon is coming rapidly, and with it, of course, comes exclusive Blizzcon swag. In addition to the goody bag, the Blizzcon store will also be open for business, and Blizzard's previewing the loot you can buy. Among the highlights:

  • You may remember that the goody bags will come with either an inflatable Frostmourne or an Inflatable Paladin-in-a-Bubble. Luckily, if you don't get the one you want, you can buy it at the store.
  • Alliance and Horde T-shirts
  • A talking Pandaren bottle opener.
  • The hardcover version of the WoW comic.
  • Arthas' Helm.
  • A WoTLK cinematic book.
  • There will be lots of Diablo 3 and Starcraft II loot as well, including posters, stress balls, and t-shirts.

Check out all the gear at Blizzard's official site, and start planning your budget to buy some stuff. I know I'm planning mine!

[Thanks for the heads up, Nicholas!]

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Gamestop has stopped online WotLK Collector's Edition pre-orders - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 16:35:00 EST
Until recently, Gamestop was offering pre-orders of the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, the Collector's Edition.

At this point, you can still pre-order, but you'll have to drop in at one of their locations, because according to their website, they are "currently not available online."

Being Canadian, I'm an awfully sad panda right now. I could not decide if I wanted to pay the extra $20, plus customs, and have to wait an extra week at least in order to get my hands on one, and now I'm regretting not putting in the order. At least it would have been a back-up I could have canceled later!

I stopped into my local EB Games last night and was told that they do not know if, when, or how many copies they'll be getting.

Of course, if you're willing to shell out approximately $300 for a copy, Amazon has you covered. Anyone else have any leads?

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Arcane Brilliance: How long will my gear last me? - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST



Each week, Arcane Brilliance emerges from the sewers beneath Dalaran, weary from dueling (and winning!) over
and over in the Circle of Wills, to deliver to you a column about Mages. What's that you say? What good are sewers in a floating city? Where does all the sewage go? Does the city drift over the countryside, forever trailing a series of sewage waterfalls? Ah, but you forget: Dalaran is a city of Mages! Even our poo is magical.

After reading our own Adam Holisky's excellent post on upgrading tanking shields in Wrath, I decided I wanted to know how long my Mage's gear would last in the frozen north. It's a fair question, and I suspect a common concern. We've worked hard for our shiny epics--either by raiding like crazy or grinding for honor or Arena points, and often a bit of both--and the thought of leaving them behind in one of the expansion's first zones for some green quality item that drops off a random mob is a little bit depressing.

We want to feel--in these last months before Wrath arrives--as if our efforts have not been in vain. If we're still rolling in Karazhan gear, is it worthwhile for us to spend the time upgrading? If our guild has worked its way up through Sunwell Plateau, are we going to replace that gear right away, or will it last us a few levels? How motivated should we be to try to obtain the best that Burning Crusade has to offer before making the trip to Northrend?

Well, fear not. Arcane Brilliance is here to show you how long you have before you retire your level 70 purples. And relax: it'll be longer than you think. Come back after the jump, won't you?

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: How long will my gear last me?

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Inscription gets researching recipes in build 8970 - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST
In the small patch that was applied to the Beta servers last night, there were a few Inscription tweaks. Of course there were some minor tweaks to various class glyphs, but the most interesting change came in the form of 2 new recipes: Minor Inscription Research and Northrend Inscription Research.

The former creates items that may teach you a new minor glyph, while the latter creates items that may teach you a new major glyph. Minor Inscription Research looks to be a very cheap spell, using the basic Moonglow Ink, while Northrend Inscription Research is a little more expensive, requiring Ink of the Sea and Snowfall Ink, both of which are created with pigments made from milling Northrend herbs. Both abilities also have a 20 hour cooldown, so no spamming them to collect all the glyphs even if you do lay in a massive stockpile of ink and parchment.

It's sort of like the old spell research for casters from Everquest combined with the alchemy discovery system. Of course, you don't have to gather rare drops like with research, and in theory, you won't have to make hundreds of items hoping for a discovery like discovery.

The type and caliber of the glyphs to be discovered this way is still unknown. If they turn out to be some of the better or more desirable recipes, though, it should certainly give Inscriptionists a good cash flow, as not everyone will know the glyph in question. The 20 hour cooldown and the uncommon pigments needed for the Northrend recipe should add to this is well. It's an intriguing new mechanic for the class, and we'll be interested to see how well it fares. As long as the discovery rate of unique glyphs is relatively high, it should do well enough.

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Engineering motorcycles to be BoE - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST


I met a player in the beta a few nights ago riding one of the brand-new Engineering ground mounts, and he was kind enough to pose for a few pictures and chat with me about it. At the time he confirmed that the mount was being sold in Dalaran for a fraction of its actual value, presumably for the sake of testing its passenger function (which unfortunately still seems to be bugged, so don't count on hauling a buddy along if you run out and buy one right now). He also said the mount was BoE, which both I and Alex had a hard time believing would remain a permanent feature. Blizzard seems to keep most engineering gewgaws in the family, as it were.

Well, it looks like we were wrong; CM Valnoth has confirmed that the new Engineering-made ground mount for Wrath is going to be Bind on Equip, so I'd advise making friends with a good Engineer sometime soon (by the way, don't miss Jaylynn's #68 comment on the next page of the thread). We're not sure how expensive the mats are going to be once Wrath goes live, although the player I spoke to estimated it would be less than the current cost of a Turbo-Charged Flying Machine (though quite likely to be more expensive before the Northrend-fueled economy settles somewhat). Daniel Whitcomb's also observed it's likely to remain BoE as having one of these babies is linked to the achievement Get to the Choppa!, so with any luck Engineering is going to be a somewhat more lucrative profession in the expansion.

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WoW Insider's preview of PopCap Games' Bejeweled addon - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST


As anyone who's ever stayed up late for a raiding or grinding session will tell you, World of Warcraft is already an addictive game. About the only thing you could do to make it more addictive is have a game company like PopCap Games (they make some of the most popular casual games around, from Bejeweled to Bookworm to Peggle) stick one of their time-wasters in an addon. And so when PopCap came to WoW Insider earlier this week to tell us that they're planning to do just that, our minds understandably exploded.

They sent us a beta version, and for the past few days, we've wasted as much time in Azeroth as in real-life. That's not exactly true -- I've been leveling up my fishing and cooking lately, and the addon has been really helpful with all of the downtime and flight time (even if I do miss catching a cast every once in a while because I'm on a big streak). After the break, read more about just how the free Bejeweled addon (to be released later this week from PopCap) will devastate all of your formerly empty downtime in Azeroth, and check out our gallery to see the beta version of Bejeweled being played on the live realms.

Continue reading WoW Insider's preview of PopCap Games' Bejeweled addon

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WoW Moviewatch: Some Brewfest highlights from last year - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 12:00:00 EST

It's been an exciting couple of weeks in World of Warcraft. First there was the Harvest Festival, then Talk Like a Pirate Day, and now, Brewfest. Players are invited to kick back and relax with their friends while they participate in fun activities related to the alcoholic beverage we know and love -- beer.

Some of the festivities include the Dark Iron Dwarves, racing rams, and beer goggles. While the special mounts are rare drops now, it doesn't hurt to get out your stein and have a good time trying to get it. If you fail, well, you're still drinking, so that's a plus!

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Forum post of the day: No table for you! - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST

There has been much debate over whether mages should always use their Ritual of Refreshment spell in battlegrounds. Shadowavatar of Boulderfist believes that this practice will become even less common because the cost of the spell is slated to increase from two arcane powder to five in Wrath of the Lich King. This brings the total cost of the spell to fifty silver per cast plus requires the use of additional bag space for mages who are not keen on restocking. Withunter of Arathor commented, "At least you know Blizzard is paying close attention to what players complain about. They identify problems with the game, and spare no effort to make them worse."

While some posters see this change as a major disservice, some point out that the is really quite justifiable. Darkintent of Bleeding hollow noted that the inflated reagent cost is reflective of the greater benefit of the spell. Many responders indicated that this difference will be negligible due to gold inflation in the next expansion. The amount of space it will take to carry reagents is of a greater concern to many posters.

Continue reading Forum post of the day: No table for you!

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Around Azeroth: It's a beautiful morning - Sat, 20 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST

One of the best things about Wrath beta is going on during off-peak hours and just admiring the beauty of the zones, before dozens of people show up to overpopulate the landscape, steal your quest mobs as you're about to pull, and conduct incoherent political arguments in General chat. This early morning picture of some grazing shoveltusks in Howling Fjord, taken by Koenig of Destromath, really shows off the care the developers took in designing the new zones.

This image came to us straight from the Wrath of the Lich King beta -- and we'd love to have your beta screenshots, too! If you have anything our readers might like, beta or not, sharing it 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 strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. No more battleground scoreboards, please.

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