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DirecTV replay still available, showing tomorrow - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST
Reader Stephen dropped us a note to let us know that if you missed the DirecTV stream of BlizzCon the first time around, you've got another chance tomorrow: they're going to show the whole thing again starting tomorrow morning. Seems pretty meh to us -- from what we heard, the stream wasn't all that great. And what you missed in terms of official panel information, you can get right from us here on the site. Anybody hear otherwise? Is this worth watching at all?

Of course, even if it's not, there is still one reason to order it, and that is of course the BlizzCon bear. Apparently people who purchase this replay will still get a code good for an ingame bear, and given that the bear and the Starcraft II code from the convention is going for as high as $200 already on eBay, shelling out $40 for just the code might be worth it to you.

And you'll pick up 16 hours of high-quality video along with it -- who wouldn't want to see Ghostcrawler in HD, right?

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WotLK world event going underway - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 18:20:00 EST


And thus it begins. Midnight just rang out across the EU's servers, and with it brings the Argent Dawn, appearing in capital cities all over Azeroth warning of the coming of the Lich King. "The plagued tendrils of the Lich King," they say, "lurk close."

We knew it was coming (heavy spoilers on that link!), though we still don't know for sure exactly what form the Lich King's re-arrival into Azeroth will take. Will it be a simple replay of the Scourge Invasion that brought Naxxramas to our shores for the first time? Or will it be something even more sinister, a world event that shakes the very foundations of the World of Warcraft as we know it?

Call us destructive, but we're kind of hoping for the second. Stay tuned for more news of the world event leading up to Wrath of the Lich King as we hear it.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!



Update: MMO Champion has more -- apparently there are also zombies appearing outside the major cities that will infect players with a plague (infected players get their own spells and can spread the plague to others), and the Argent Healers are there to try and stop it.

Update2: We just logged on to Cenarius US, and while the Argent Healers were there, there were no signs of zombies yet. Looks to us like the world event itself will go live at midnight server.

Scratch that -- it's on right now. More after the break.

Continue reading WotLK world event going underway

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Solving the holiday boss summon problem - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 18:00:00 EST
We've heard about a lot of problems with the Headless Horseman summon this year already (and Coren Direbrew had issues as well), but Kimberly over on WoW LJ has the worst story I've heard so far -- a group asked her to heal, claimed they all had summons, and then after killing the HH with her summon, ditched her, presumably to find some other sucker with a summon. That's not just scamming someone into taking you along for a round of summons (as we heard about in Guildwatch yesterday), it's actually scamming someone out of the rest of their chances, because, assuming Kimberly is honest for the rest of the day, why would another group take her?

So this is clearly a problem. Let's fix it for Blizzard: how can we make sure everyone has five chances a day at summoning the Headless Horseman (one per day per group member) without ripping off people for helping their guildies or friends? Basically, we need a clear way of seeing whether someone has a summon or not -- maybe a debuff that resets at midnight every night, or a changing number of candles on the pedestal based on how many people in the instance can still do the daily quest? Right now, there's no accountability at all, and with droprates the way they are, getting screwed out of another chance at the HH (or even four chances, in the worst cases) can make the difference between having the achievement and not.

Any other good ideas on how to solve this problem and keep players accountable? I'm sure players with less than upright morals have no problem claiming their brother used their summon or lying to steal the summons of others, but it would be a lot more fair for everyone if the possibility for scamming wasn't there at all.

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Ask a Beta Tester: Factions and reputation - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 17:00:00 EST


Welcome back to Ask a Beta Tester, wherein I sigh at names like fungus and then answer their question anyway. Questions such as:

Will we be able to do the BC heroics for the achievements after Wrath comes out?

Yep! Just like you can still earn achievements for the Classic dungeons in The Burning Crusade, you'll be able to do the BC dungeon achievements in Wrath.

Beath asked...

Does Culling of Stratholme grant Keepers of Time reputation? If not, is there a new faction associated with this instance?

Last time I ran this dungeon, it wasn't awarding any reputation at all. That may have changed since then, but a peek at Wowhead and Wowwiki doesn't show any associated reputations.

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Factions and reputation

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A Warcraft Retrospective from Gametrailers.com - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 16:00:00 EST

The fine folk over at Gametrailers.com are preparing for Wrath of the Lich King in their own, fun little way. And by little, I mean totally awesome. They've posted the first part of their Warcraft Retrospective, looking back on the history of the Warcraft series of games. This first installment talks a little about Warcraft I, Warcraft II, and the adventure game Warcraft Adventures that ended up getting canned.

On top of the nostalgia-riddled look at past incarnations of Warcraft, the retrospective provides insight into the origins of things such as the RTS genre itself and perhaps one of the first map editors that ended up in user hands, setting the stage for just about every RTS to start providing one baseline. Entertaining and educational! Uh, sort of. I really do recommend watching it, though. It's only a click away, so go on! Hit play!

[ Thanks, Ray, James and Colyn! ]

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Dr. Phil confronts WoW players - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 15:30:00 EST
Yes, Oprah's psychologist (actually, I heard just the other day on Wait Wait that Dr. Phil was originally hired as a jury consultant on Oprah's beef slander case) has turned his mustachioed and Texas-accented attention to MMO gamers, and it's the usual rundown: someone's been playing the game way too much, and it's time for Dr. Phil to draw out the stereotype to anyone who finds a little fun in the online world of Azeroth.

To be fair, I haven't seen the show itself, so maybe Phil does admit that millions of people around the world play these games in their free time, and that the vast majority of them have paying jobs, lead healthy lives and have happy relationships. But he doesn't feature any of those on his website -- instead, he's got the story of lives ruined over and over again because folks without self control took their game too far. And all the usual TV culprits are there -- flash cuts of chaotic keyboard and controller pressing, blurred video, and pictures of pasty gamers playing late into the night while the rest of their lives go ignored. Worried that you might be addicted? Dr. Phil's also got a "gaming behavior audit" that will let you know, in just ten questions, whether you're an addict or not. Here's a helpful question: do you feel you play online games to deal with anxiety or depression in your life? If so, you may have anxiety or depression in your life! Thanks, Dr. Phil!

In all seriousness, sure, it's possible to play these games too much, and if you're playing the game even after you've lost a job or sacrificed a relationship, it's time to get help (or even better, just unplug the computer). But it would be nice to see a healthy gamer on these shows once in a while -- there's definitely plenty of them around, too.

[via BlizzPlanet]

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Squashling, Hallowed Helm trick-or-treatable - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 15:00:00 EST


Like many of you, I've been heading into the Scarlet Monastery to fight the Headless Horseman every day since Hallow's End started. It's a fun fight, I like the Magic Broom, and I've gotten some decent rings for my off-specs, but the main attraction, at least for me, is a chance at some rare drops: the pet, the hat, and the mount. The first two of these, in addition to being pretty cool on their own, are required for the Sinister Calling achievement, which is in turn required for the Hallowed Be Thy Name meta-achievement.

I've taken him down a couple dozen times at this point. I've seen the hat twice (didn't get it either time), I've never seen the pet drop, and I don't think anyone on my server has gotten the mount. Some people in the forums are a bit upset about the drop rates on the pet and the hat, given that they're required for the achievement - they don't like the fact that the meta-achievement requires a chance-based event.

I have some good news for those people, via Wow_Ladies: it seems that the Sinister Squashling and the Hallowed Helm both have a chance to come out of the Treat Bags that you can get from trick-or-treating once an hour. This doesn't make it less chance-based, but it does raise your chances, although I imagine the chance to get either of those items from trick-or-treating is very low. Still, if you're interested in getting these items, stay on top of those one-hour cooldowns.

[thanks, Flairy]

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Disengage buffed, raid damage nerfed for hunters - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 14:00:00 EST

It's good news/bad news time for Hunters in the Wrath beta. I'll give you the good news first. There are some upcoming buffs to Disengage, primarily for PvP:

  • The cooldown is being lowered from 30 seconds to 25 (16 with talents).
  • It no longer requires you to have a target selected; now you can slam it as soon as you see someone getting close without pausing to click on them. It does require you to be in combat, to prevent this becoming some kind of crazy Hunter Blink.

Bad news: you're getting nerfed for PvE. It seems that hunters were simply doing too much damage in level 80 raid situations, so the following steps are being taken to address that:

  • Raid boss armor is being raised by 10%. This will affect all physical damage dealers, though Ghostcrawler says classes will be buffed back up as necessary (like the recent Fury buffs).
  • Windfury Totem and Improved Icy Talons will no longer benefit ranged attacks.

If that's what they had to do to get Hunter DPS in line, fine. But I'm not really happy to see increased separation of what works on melee and what works on ranged; I'm still irritated about when ranged AP and melee AP were split and no-one knew what items and enchants affected which classes.

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Forum post of the day: Happy Hallow's End, or is it? - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 13:00:00 EST

It seems the jury is out on this year's Hallow's End celebration. Chakras of Cenarius is loving the event. She's excited about the holiday achievements. In her thread she was met with agreement from many posters. Ritsuka of the Thorium Brotherhood agreed that it's been fun to farm decent gear off an easy boss with her friends. Halloween is a favorite holiday amongst many WoW players, and it's a good addition to the game.

Not everyone is entirely thrilled with their experiences so far. Some folks are frustrated that they've not yet gotten the Sinister Squashling or the Horseman's helm despite many attempts. Some like Crexia of Hyjal have made better than twenty-five attempts today without seeing either of those items drop all. Her attitude is to try again tomorrow since Blizzard has stated that there will not be a change to the event. (EDIT: though now it appears you can get these items from trick or treating and Blizzard has stated the drop rates of the pet are significantly higher than last year.) On the other hand Orcshock of Archimonde reported seeing two drops out of five attempts today. Such is our fate when using Random Number Generators (RNG).

I have to admit, since the patch I've had other goals in mind so I've turned down most invites for holiday groups. So how has your Hallow's End been?

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WoW Moviewatch: The Grasshappa Chronicles - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 12:00:00 EST


Happy Hallow's End! Today we bring you a fluffy treat from TRiBViDs called The Grasshappa Chronicles. The most recent installment to the series, Episode 4, is linked above. (Previous episodes are 1, 2, and 3.) These movies are all treat, no trick, like the G.N.E.R.D.S. handed out these days by Innkeepers. A tasty, not too filling, but definitely an enjoyable confection featuring two dudes who pay the price for ripping off intellectual properties in previous episodes. The guys are goofy and have amusing songs running through their heads starring Justin Timberlake and Vanessa Carlton. Oh, and there's also a Hello Kitty reference for good measure.

I think we all have some guilty pleasures like this in our movie-watching closets. My favorite guilty pleasures contain ram-a-lama ding-dong, Brando singing, and R.O.U.S.'s in them. I know some of you out there are Goonies freaks. Confess!

[Via Machinima.com]

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

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Encrypted Text: The fuzzy math of theorycrafting - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 11:00:00 EST
Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, we'll be talking about the methods used to break down gear and talents into their fundamental parts, and compare them intelligently.

While it's not recognized as an official term by the Oxford Dictionary, "theorycrafting" is definitely the biggest buzzword in the Rogue community. Originally coined by Starcraft players looking to use their mathematics knowledge to perfect their strategies and unit build orders, it refers to the idea of using math to guide your choices, instead of simply playing from your gut.

From the lowest level of forum troll to the most serious raiders, many Rogues love to punch numbers into spreadsheets and talk about the PPM (proc-per-minute) chance of Mongoose. Theorycrafting is a largely arcane art, and unfortunately an inability to play ball with these math magicians can be grounds for ostracism from the discussion at hand. Asking for talent or skill help on the Public Rogue Forums will likely result in recommendations like "Check the spreadsheet or delete your character."

Obviously you've become attached to your assassin of the shadows, so after the cut we'll talk about how to become a theorycrafter even if you weren't first in your algebra class.

Continue reading Encrypted Text: The fuzzy math of theorycrafting

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Around Azeroth: Don't take the brown elixir - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 10:00:00 EST


Ooookay. This is bad. I knew I shouldn't have drank that Insane Strength Potion I bought from that troll vendor. I'm a mage, for crying out loud! And in Terokkar Forest, of all places? I'll be attacked by a multichromatic wolf within five seconds. And how am I supposed to tell if those spiders devouring me are real or not? Oh, hey, I can just look at the giant red bar floating above my head. Oh God ... why is there a giant red bar above my head? Why are all my fantastic skills in little boxes under my feet? And why do I see a giant face staring at me whenever I turn around? I'm freaking out, man! (Thanks to Ollo of <Jubilance> on Muradin, who sent in the best of the many glitch/bug/crash shots post-patch.)

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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It came from the Blog: Join us for a Hallow's End in-game event! - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 09:00:00 EST

We're back and spookier than ever. After (another) long hiatus, It came from the Blog is back and ready to put out some fires. Our previous fire fighting abilities are well documented and now we are taking them to Brill to help with the constant attacks from the Headless Horseman. Here are the details:
  • Where: Zangarmarsh U.S. Server, Horde side -- Brill, Tirisfal Glades (on the other side of the Zeppelin tower from The Undercity)
  • When: 6:30pm Pacific time (7:30pm Server Time, 9:30PM Eastern/Blog time), Friday, October 24
  • Who: Any level, any Horde race, any class
  • How: Send a tell to Robiness or anyone in the It came from the Blog guild for an invite
We will be doing the Hallow's End quests in Brill and socializing, so any level is encouraged to attend -- even if you just created a character before the event. Summons will be provided for noobie Taurens, but all others should be able to get to Brill pretty easily.

So take time out of your Headless Horseman and nerfed raid boss farming to come join us for a little bit of casual fun. We look forward to seeing you!

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Titan's Grip hit penalty down to 5% - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 08:30:00 EST

Titan's Grip, in case there are any of you in the audience who are not familiar with it, is the Fury Warrior 51-point talent. It allows the warrior to wield two 2-handed weapons (or a 2h and a shield, I guess, if they wanted to). Pretty awesome, right? Yes. But as a counterbalance, to make sure Fury isn't doing overly insane DPS, it imposes a penalty in the form of a decreased chance to hit with "damage-dealing abilities that require a weapon" (i.e. most special attacks). That decrease started out at 15%, and was changed to 12% before 3.0.2 went live. Ghostcrawler has now announced that they're changing it again, to only 5% decreased chance to hit with special attacks.

This is a massive buff. Part of it is in response to raising raid boss armor by 10%, but this goes well beyond correcting for that. GC says that this probably makes TG a bit overpowered for a 51-pointer. I have, though, seen many, many Warriors complaining about the huge miss chance when the talent is picked up, so hopefully those complaints will be put to rest now. Oh, and the attack power coefficient of Bloodthirst is up too, from 45% to 50% (i.e. it will scale better as you get more AP). But man, TG is going to be crazy good now.

Updated for accuracy.

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Breakfast Topic: What is your favorite holiday? - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 08:00:00 EST

The Feast of Winter Veil is nice and Brewfest is fun (though a disappointment over last year's), but my favorite holiday this year in Azeroth is Hallow's End. The Midsummer Fire Festival is a close second, mind you. It was fun and profitable. But Hallow's End has better lore and better accessories.

Sure, I love my dancing flames chickie, but my Rickety Magic Broom is the best thing ever -- and it's only temporary. The masks, the candy, the pumpkin heads -- it's just fun.

Continue reading Breakfast Topic: What is your favorite holiday?

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Guildwatch: Slow going - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 01:00:00 EST


It's a little silly, we admit, to say "every time an expansion patch comes around," because this is really only the second time it's happened, but every time an expansion patch comes around, guild action slows down a bit, and as a result, this week (and probably the next few weeks) will find Guildwatch poking around for a little more guild news.

But the good news is that lots of guilds are taking advantage of the easier endgame, so if yours is, be sure to drop us a line at wowguildwatch@gmail.com -- no down is too small, and no drama is too minor. Whether it's your guild or someone else's, we want to hear about it, and then post it here on GW for all to see.

Continue reading Guildwatch: Slow going

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Realm issues for the evening of October 21st - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 22:29:00 EST
Blizzard is well aware of the realm issues that are plaguing the game tonight, October 21st. They have said in the opening in-game announcement that they're working on it, and now have posted as much on the forums. They will also be restarting all realms shortly.

For those of you not experiencing the issue, just about every time you try to enter an instance you receive a "transfer aborted" message or some other such error. This is causing quite a bit of havoc on guild as they try to push hard during the last few weeks of Burning Crusade raiding.

We'll update this post throughout the evening when Blizzard releases any more statements.

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Season 4 arena titles awarded incorrectly - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST

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.

Continue reading Season 4 arena titles awarded incorrectly

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Quested mounts and forms to be trainable in Patch 3.0.3 - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 18:00:00 EST


According to the Patch 3.0.3 patch 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!

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Mark Jacobs of WAR: "I'm flattered" by Wrath's PvP - Tue, 21 Oct 2008 17:00:00 EST
Oh, this is rich. We'll admit that WoW's achievements system is Blizzard's reaction to Warhammer Online's Tome of Knowledge system, and sure, we'll even go so far as to say that the PvE to PvP transfers are a shot off the bow of WAR, but claiming that WoW's Lake Wintergrasp is a straight rip from Warhammer? We'd think not. Still, that won't keep Mythic's CEO Mark Jacobs from claiming exactly that -- the outspoken developer says he's "flattered" by what he calls Blizzard's attempts at open world PvP.

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?

Can't say we're that surprised, though. Jacobs and his team do have a habit of biting off more than they can chew already.

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