The top arena teams of Season 4 have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of their rewards since the launch of patch 3.0.2, but things haven't turned out quite right. The Customer Service forum is full of reports of titles not being handed out correctly, and an ongoing Blizzard investigation into the matter. A little digging of our own (and a firsthand account from our Rogue guru Chase Christian) confirms that there's a problem, but obviously we don't know the cause.
In a lot of cases, the top (the tippy-top, the #1) team in a bracket is receiving the title of Duelist, when they should be getting Brutal Gladiator and their Netherdrake pets. Players with a rating of 2100 or higher are earning only the Challenger title in some cases, and I think it's very, very safe to say that those players would be in a bracket higher than just the top 35%. Season 4 is not exactly known for having a glut of people nearing the 2200 needed for shoulders.
According to the Patch 3.0.3patch notes, the Druid Swift Flight Form, Paladin Charger, and Warlock Dreadsteed spells will soon become trainable. Before you all celebrate (or throw out invectives...), it should be noted that these spells will only become available at a level above the minimum required level to obtain the mounts or form and will require the appropriate riding skill. Swift Flight Form will be trainable at Level 71 and require Artisan or 300 Riding skill, while both the Charger and Dreadsteed will become available at Level 61 and require Journeyman or 150 Riding skill.
This means that players will still need to pony up for the cash required to train for the riding skill, which means an affordable 480-600 Gold for the land mounts and a not-quite-as-affordable 5,000 Gold for the epic flying skill. If you would like to get the satisfaction of doing some of the coolest quest lines in the game, you can check out the Dreadsteed guide on WoWwiki and our guides for the Paladin Charger for both the Alliance and the Horde. If you've got that 5,000 to plunk down -- which our very own Dan O'Halloran has been penny-pinching to avoid -- you can check out the epic flight form, too. And why not? You might even get a shot at getting one of the coolest ground mounts ever. If anything, doing the quest will grant you the mount a whopping one full level ahead of everyone else!
Too bad it's straight out nonsense -- we were at the PvP panel at last year's BlizzCon, where Blizzard explained all of the experiments they'd made with world PvP, from the very sad Silithus, to the more successful Halaa and Auchindoun, and how they'd landed on the concept for Lake Wintergrasp -- the worldwide buff, the raid boss, the persistent rewards, and so on -- from all of the world PvP that had come before. That's not to say that Blizzard doesn't want to borrow the best things from Warhammer and other popular games out there, but to claim Wintergrasp is an attempt to emulate Warhammer's PvP is just plain reaching. And leveling through PvP? Considering you need a flying mount to get to Wintergrasp and you can't actually get that until three levels left in the game, it's as stretchy as it gets to claim that's Blizzard's attempt at emulating WAR. If Blizzard really did want to rip off WAR, they'd do it better than that, no?
15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
If you've made even the occasional pass through the Blizzard forums, you're likely to have run up on at least one of the periodic flamefests with players stomping their virtual feetsies and pointing in horror at the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender (GLBT) guilds clustered on the Proudmoore server. Never one to ignore the elephant in the room, we got curious about what these guilds are all about and how they ended up on Proudmoore.
Our interview with Venfelder, a long-time member from the rank and file of Taint, paints a picture of a mature, friendly, open community of players making the most of WoW's many opportunities for raiding, PvPing and just plain hanging out together.
We all know Blizzard hasn't exactly been a fan of consoles and that our favorite game isn't likely to arrive in console form anytime soon, but reader Spazzer showed us how he plays World of Warcraft with a PlayStation 3 controller. Spazzer attached his PS3 controller to his MacBook Pro and hooked up his laptop to the TV, which he says is "effectively the same as playing on a PS3." So it's not exactly playing on a PS3 but it also sorta kinda is.
Spazzer points Mac users in the direction of two freely downloadable programs to play WoW console-style -- an obscure driver for the PS3 controller and a game pad emulator to help with all the key bindings. When Blizzard game designer Jonathan LeCraft was interviewed last year, he stressed that "you really do need a keyboard to play WoW". It seems like someone seems to have already sidestepped that limitation using readily available tools, and Spazzer points out that resourceful Windows users will easily be able to replicate the same trick. Could this herald a new era for WoW or console gaming? Or, uh, just a bunch of free HKs?
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.
At level 80, we hunters are getting a new type of trap called a Freezing Arrow. We'll show you how it works.
Even better, we'll show you how it works as we hunt down, tame, and introduce you to the latest beta Wolf-skin!
You are invited to download the YouTube version (36MB) of this movie here, and the full-sized version (53MB) here.
As always, a great big Thank You to the WoW Insider editors for allowing us to publish this movie both here and on our little blog at the same time!
Tipster vpr pointed our way to the forums where Blizzard poster Orlyla acknowledges the issue about Patch 3.0.2 removing the levels that could be granted from the Recruit-a-Friend program and says that the issue is being addressed by today's maintenance. It's a reassuring and appropriate response to the issue which makes up for Game Master Issuntril's initial unsympathetic "sorry for the inconvenience" remark.
As many of you readers pointed out in a related post, Blizzard could open themselves up to a potential class action lawsuit if the levels aren't restored. The free levels gained are part of the appeal of the Recruit-a-Friend program or product, and is one that I suspect really gets a lot of conversions. Of course, Orlyla is keeping his (or her... you never know with these Blizzard people...) fingers crossed, too, saying that the levels should be working fine once the servers are back up "if all goes well". As Dan pointed out a coupleoftimes, all has not been going well in Azeroth lately.
I'm hoping to see this issue fixed, and even though some of you guys have expressed disapproval of the free levels feature, I personally think it's a great and much-needed way to reach the endgame quickly. I already have several 70s, I seriously don't want to go through the pain of leveling through the same zones all over again. Some people might enjoy that, but I don't. I just wish I actually had friends to recruit -- pretty much all of them already play the game!
PTR 3.0.3 Patch Notes - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 14:00:00 EST Blizzard has released the notes for the Patch 3.0.3 on PTR (Public Test Realm). With the PTRs going to patch 3.0.3, I wouldn't be surprised to see 3.0.3 hit the live servers next week. Also, please note that these patch notes appear to be in flux and are being updated. We'll keep you posted with any changes.
While patch 3.0.2 has a lot of great new content, there have been a fair share of bugs in the game. This patch will fix some of those, and change around a few other things. Remember, there will be an ongoing series of changes - the game itself won't seem normal until Wrath of the Lich King.
Some highlights of this patch include:
Druid talent points are refunded (only Druids)
Hunter aspects are off the global cooldown
Vampiric Touch has had its spell power coefficient doubled
Warlocks can now use an Infernal indoors
Bloodthirst cooldown is now 5 seconds
No more level requirement to train gathering skills
Read on after the break for the full PTR patch notes.
WoW Insider Show Episode 60: Inside Blizzard HQ - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 13:30:00 EST The WoW Insider Show landed at its new home, our new Ustream channel, last Saturday, and things went pretty darn well. We had a nice turnout of listeners from all over, and we had Adam Holisky and Turpster on, along with our guest Patrick Beja (of Azeroth.fr, How I WoW, and all of the other podcasts and features at his site Frenchspin). We had a few contests (one of which is still ongoing for you non-live listeners, so make sure to listen for the details if you haven't heard them yet), and we took some of the new features over at Ustream for a spin, including some fun polls.
I'm told our new iTunes feed isn't quite up and running yet, but in the future you'll see an iTunes link here as well. Show notes are after the break.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show in iTunes. (link coming soon) [Ustream] Listen to the unedited recording in Ustream. [RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator. [MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Free high pop to low pop server transfers incoming - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 13:00:00 EST Thundgot over on the EU forums says there's a pretty drastic solution incoming to the busy servers incoming: Blizzard is going to offer free server transfers from high pop servers to low pop, so if you've really been driven nuts by all the queues and lag lately, this might be just what you need. On the other hand, don't jump into anything too quickly -- traffic problems are pretty common, especially when big patches (and, you know, expansions) come down, and odds are that once the expansion actually releases, things will die back down after a little while.
Of course, if you just don't want to wait, and don't have any particular ties to the server you happen to be on, then by all means, keep an eye out for the transfers. We're not quite sure which servers will be affected yet, but We Hate PUGs saw Quel'thelas on the list already along with a long list of high pop realms, so while we'll probably see more servers added to the low pop side, the high pop side there now is probably a fairly good indicator of the realms Blizzard sees as trouble. If you're on one of those realms and ready to transfer, sit tight and wait for the announcement today, help is on the way.
Our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe - it's not all just World of Warcraft. This week's round up will try to give you a look at the best WoW-related content on the site from the last week. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.
The Star Wars / BioWare announcement is just hours away We're just hours away from the highly anticipated announcement of the BioWare/LucasArts project most gamers expect to be a Knights of the Old Republic MMO. We here at Massively has been waiting for this day ... oh, for years. More recently, though, we've had some more concrete elements to talk about. Ever since the July confirmation of the project by EA's head, we've been very busy thinking, plotting, and planning.
WAR has only just begun to compete with WoW, declares Mark Jacobs If you've been following this particular exchange you'll know the score, but let's recap: Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan just like turned around and said some stuff about Warhammer Online, about how he wasn't even in the Beta and stuff, and Mark Jacobs was like whoa, and he totally turned around and said some stuff about World of Warcraft, and now Mark Jacobs is all, like, dude, bring it, and everybody's like, ohmygawd, it is so on.
Analysts see World of Warcraft adding another million subscribers Despite the success of Warhammer Online, analysts looking in on the MMO industry are of the opinion that Wrath of the Lich King will be another huge win for Blizzard's World of Warcraft. In fact, Eurogamer reports, Colin Sebastian at the Lazard analysis firm thinks the expansion will tack on another million subscribers to the game's already somewhat ludicrous playerbase.
Blizzard: Next MMO won't be WoW 2 Go ahead a strike the possibility of a World of Warcraft 2 off your list of possible next-gen Blizzard MMOs because it's officially not happening. In an interview with Wired, Blizzard's recently talkative Mike Morhaime flat out said that their next MMO project isn't a sequel to their first.
The Gnomeregan Revenge: Red Alert is an original tale told in pre-Arthas Azeroth, the first of a new trilogy by filmmaker Odessa. The Gnomish race is cast in the role of Soviet revolutionaries against the Alliance. In this episode they use their technological superiority to stage a surprise attack on Ironforge. The Gnomes even speak Russian, albeit with English subtitles.
The machinima is excellent and the handheld out-of-focus shots work superbly to convey the surprise and confusion of the first wave of copter attacks. Since I don't speak French or Russian, it's difficult to tell the quality of the voice acting but the other sound effects are deftly done. (The English subtitles need some work; there are a lot of typos.) Still, I think it's possible to follow the story just from the visuals. The cliffhanger at the end prepares us for the next two episodes which promise to show us the war and its outcome. From just this first episode, it's difficult to tell if the film will have an allegoric theme with a larger message or if this was merely a creative tangent invented by the filmmaker. The follow-up episodes should come before the end of the year, so I guess we'll find out soon enough.
If you've been exploring your capital city, you may have noticed something new. Grandmaster's Training Dummies now hang out in the cities, casually waiting for enterprising player characters to come and beat them. (I don't judge their lifestyles, I'm just reporting the facts.) If you're looking at the picture on the right, you're correct in your keen observation -- the clever training dummies even carry the flag of your opposing faction.
The dummies are level 80, obviously in preparation for Wrath's release on November 13th. We were fortunate enough to get them in the content patch, but it does lead to a few questions. What are these masochistic constructions for? What is their purpose? Do they give you anything?
Dr. Boom in Netherstorm was a staple of Hunters', Warlocks' and Mages' theorycrafting. The analysts of the communities would park themselves on a crate, and fire away at the goblin. Using AddOns likes Recount, or combat log parsers like WWS, they'd leverage the information to draw conclusions about which damage rotations and talents yielded the best results.
Target Dummies fulfill the same role, but are a little more universally accessible. (Melee had problems with Dr. Boom, since they could find themselves getting blown up by adds.) They also have benefit of not being out in the field. While safe and protected in your capital city, you can fire away until you feel confident in the data you're seeing.
There's a caveat to the dummies, however. Some spells (like Siphon Life) don't seem to give accurate results. Also, since the dummies aren't the specific bosses you'll be fighting, you're not going to get the exact same numbers as you would against the real thing. They're intended, after all, characters to practice on, not simulate the actual fights.
Edit: As some commenters have pointed out, there are level 70 and 60 dummies to be had also, in the same general area as the level 80 versions.
I love everything about Achievements. I love getting them, striving for them, perusing them, hearing about them and watching other people get them. (And, obviously, I love writing about them.) They have really added more enjoyment to my gameplay. I loved hearing "Grats noob" in guildchat when I hit 30 on my Mage. I even love it when I get spammed by a bunch of guildies achieving a Jenkins title at the same time. But not everybody does.
Some are turning off their Achievement Announcements. Whether it is Achievement envy or an aversion to fun (yes, I'm not objective), they have figured out how to turn off being notified every time someone in the vicinity loads up their pets and Tricks or Treats for the first time. It's easy to do:
Right click on the chat tab that you want to remove the notifications from.
Uncheck Achievement Announce.
For turning off Guildchat announcements, select Chat and then uncheck Guild Announce -- but this turns off all Guild announcements.
(Edit: Updated for accuracy. Will update for guildchat when the servers come back up.) Once Hallow's End is over and the flurry of easy Achievements have been conquered, the spam will die down. The messages will definitely not be a constant throughout Wrath. But, even if it were, I'd still be happily reading about my guildies and the people around me achieving things. But maybe that's because I'm a casual player in a guild full of hardcore raiders -- I get to read about the Achievements I will probably never earn. I admit it. Sometimes I play vicariously.
It may not seem like much, but this picture is representative of about ten similar shots I've gotten in the past two days. All of them feature multiple Headless Horseman corpses, large groups of frustrated people, and comments along the lines of "AIIEEEEE why won't the STUPID PET drop to get the STUPID ACHIEVEMENT for the STUPID DRAKE." After summoning in his whole guild and still failing to get the drop, Caegal of Genjuros-EU expresses his frustration in the only way available to in-game avatars.
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 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 strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.
Is this the Tuesday that will finally fix all the patch-related problems? No? Well, I suppose we can all play Fable II/Dead Alive/Oblivion for the fortieth time instead. Or you can join in this week's Caption This! contest.
The winner of the last contest, which featured three little gnomes, was Naram, with "Millhouse Manastorm long dreamed of his first night out of Arcatraz." Repeat winner Swordchucks came in second with "Gnome mating rituals are rich and varied, owing primarily to the race's three genders: male, female, and pink pigtailed incarnate of evil. Most non-gnome researchers on the topic quickly go mad." Congratulations, and to the victors go the spoils!
Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, to tell you how to participate in this week's contest. I post a picture during Tuesday maintenance. You write a humorous caption for this picture by Friday, October 24 at 11:59 PM EST. It could be a funny description of the situation or a quote that you imagine the characters in the screenshot saying. Examples of previous winners can be found here, here and here. Leave your captions in a comment on this post, and keep it clean -- if Blizzard would warn you for saying it in-game, don't enter it in the contest. During the weekend, I e-mail the post to our list, members of the WoW Insider team respond with their favorites, and ten (or so) of those favorites will be chosen for the final vote. On Tuesday morning, we put the top choices up for a public vote in a new post. Voting ends Wednesday, October 29 at 11:59 PM EST. After the voting, we notify the winners. If they respond to our e-mail and confirm that they're eligible to win, we mail out their prizes.
Let's show the people our fabulous prizes! First place winner gets a 60-day game card, worth approximately $30. And in honor of old-school raiding achievements, the second-place winner will get his choice of a More Dots! or Ding! Grats shirt from J!NX, worth about $20.
However, to win you have to be eligible -- and to be eligible, you have to be a U.S. or non-Quebec Canadian resident at least 13 years of age. Sorry, EU, Oceanic and other readers, but legal restrictions make it impossible to include everyone. The official rules for the contest can be found here. Read them or be stuck in tree form for all eternity!
This picture, featuring a most unusual farm, comes from the official WoW screenshot archives. A larger version can be found here. Good luck!
Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. This week Matticus is going to try to shed some light on the Discipline spec in a raiding environment!
I'll admit it. I've been Holy my entire life. I'd only go Discipline just to have some fun in PvP on the weekends in order to grab myself some extra Arena points for PvP gear and what not. In the past, I did try to go all out Discipline because we had some many Priests. Variety is the spice of life right? As time went on, my Guild slowly started losing to Priests to real life until I was the only one remaining. The guild could not afford me to experiment any longer and I switched back to the comfort of Holy.
Over the past weekend, I had a chance to try out Discipline in full with the new spells and expanded tree on both live and beta servers. How did it go?
You can save Honor points, of course, until you reach level 80, even though everything at that stage will be much more expensive, and you won't be able to buy as much with what you earn today. Is this inflation enough to make you just wait till later to PvP in battlegrounds? Or do you want to hit 80 with us many points stored up as possible? Do any of the current PvP rewards look attractive enough for you to purchase them now instead of waiting?
The Arena is a somewhat simpler proposition. Any points you have will be gone as you start leveling up again, so you have to spend them now. Are they still worth earning? If so, will you spend them on gear? Or will you buy the special PvP gems in order to put them in gear you get later on?
Tuesday Morning Post: The Headless Horseman burned down my server - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 07:30:00 EST Happy Hallow's End, everyone! So it's been one week since the Echoes of Doom patch hit live servers. It's been a lot of fun playing around with all the news toys, if you can actually log on. Servers have been unstable across the world, and even those that allow people on have been having tons of problems. My own server has been hitting the instance limit, disallowing the creation of new dungeons, thus preventing people from holding raids. Some people are unable to log on to certain characters on their account. It's a bit of a mess in some quarters.
With the downtime from 5 AM - 11 AM PDT this morning, we can hope that a solution is forthcoming. It's not quite enough to apply a new patch, but hopefully Blizzard is using this downtime as an opportunity to kick start the servers a little bit.
Still, once you get past the server problems, this patch has been pretty enjoyable for the most part, although some people are starting to think it may be a bit too easy. If you're still getting into the swing of the patch, this is the perfect time to browse WoW Insider and check out all of our guides and information about the new features in the 3.0.2 patch. Here's some highlights of the past week's news from the patch and beyond:
You all know about the new in-game calendar feature that came with patch 3.0.2, right? Right! The calendar has just been integrated into the Armory as well, and it's really quite cool. By logging into the Armory and clicking on the Guild tab, you can check out all of the events your guild has listed on the calendar via the interwebs. You can Accept and Decline event invitations right from the Armory, but I haven't seen an option to create new ones from there. That's something you'll still need to do in-game.
When I saw this on the official WoW website, I sort of rolled my eyes because the Armory hasn't updated my Shadow Priest's gear or spec in months. How can it possibly keep up with the calendar? I did a little poking around with it, and I was pleasantly surprised. I created a new event in-game on our guild calendar, and it showed up on the Armory about ten minutes later. I accepted the event on my alt on the Armory, and that showed up in-game almost instantly. If the features keeps that kind of stability long term, I will definitely appreciate having it. Little conveniences like this really help the community feel of guilds.
Now to bug people about integrating this into Facebook and the like.