The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Raiding Gear III the Gearening - Fri, 23 Jan 2009 19:00:00 EST And at last we finish our look at raiding gear, including emblem of valor and emblem of heroism gear. Last time while covering Naxxramas, we forgot (well, I forgot) to cover capes, so before we move on to Malygos and Emblem gear, we'll take a look at tanking and DPS capes for warriors in Naxx.
Before we get started, though, I should admit that I'm having one of my usual mood swings on the Horde/Alliance axis lately, so if I start posting a lot of pictures of a tauren here don't be alarmed. The fact that I'm done with raid content as a player and Ulduar is a ways away is also making me want to spend time Horde-side as well. Maybe get back to my prot roots. Maybe not, who knows?
Yes, this is the legendary Mallet of Zul'Farrak, the one you had to fight all the way up to the top of Jintha'alor to get in order to summon Gahz'rilla in the midlevel instance of Zul'Farrak down in Tanaris. But as of patch 3.0.8, this mallet, and a few other items, are now not necessary any more. Still, instead of deleting them completely, Blizzard decided to turn them into real items, much like Pinocchio was turned into a "real boy!"
Plus, they used a pretty awesome model, too, especially if, like me, you're a fan of the Troll aesthetic. Pretty nice weapon for a one-handed mace at level 35, even if it's a pain to actually get.
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Back in patch 3.0.3, you might have missed one of the changes. This one line in the patch notes informed us that leveling requirements to train gathering professions had been removed. The reasoning seemed to be that they are self-restricted, as you can't exactly go romping around Northrend at level 15.
The problem with this logic is that you can, in fact, with some help, and this change definitely did not go unnoticed in the twink community. With a little patience and some dedicated high level friends, you too could become a level 19 PvP terror with two of the following buffs; 32 critical strike rating, 500 stamina, and/or an instant cast self-heal for 2000 health over 5 seconds every 3 minutes.
The critical strike buff would vary depending on your class, but as an example, a level 19 rogue would gain 10.8% critical strike chance.
The Lunar Festival will be starting tomorrow and though the WoW Insider team is doing all of their usual leveling and raiding and PvPing and whatever else they do... but with the achievement system and its associated swanky titles (and the long-term promise of a Violet Proto-Drake), everyone's going to be interested in hunting down Elders. (Hunting, at least, in the friendliest possible way.)
And our resident Priest, Matticus? He's clearly fallen to the dark side.
Matt Low: Whipping out Jin Rock. Time to level the Ret Pally of Doom.
For the rest of the team -- and to chime in with what you're doing this weekend -- read on!
The high latency while raiding places like Naxxramas and Malygos is still there. The servers are still packed with queue. The patch was a near disaster. And we're still getting bug reports in every 10 minutes, both in comments and via our tip-line.
Many people want to know why this hasn't been fixed. People are out looking for blood. The whole head on a pike sort of thing.
A better way to approach the situation is to try to come up with contingency plans and other activities to do. If Blizzard cannot get their servers to work, to the point that many consider the game playable, then people will need to focus on other aspects of the game or try to work around the problematic parts.
On the couple servers I play on many of the top guilds have decided to stop raiding for the night if there are any problems with high latency in the raid instances. On Alex's server people raid only for a couple hours after 10pm when the queues and population have dropped off. And still other guilds I know have just said forget it completely and are on hiatus until these issues are fixed.
(Or 20:30 GMT, or whatever time it is then where you are. We live in a global society people, it's not that hard!) Yes, our world famous podcast returns to the airwaves tomorrow, as Turpster, BRK and I will be on the Ustream channel (we've also embedded right on this post, so you can just come right back here) talking about all of the most popular stories in the last week of Warcraft. We'll definitely bring up patch 3.0.8, and talk about the Lunar Festival (which also starts tomorrow). And of course we'll answer your emails and chat live with everyone during the show and the aftershow.
Don't forget, too, that we're still trying to round up some more fans on Facebook -- we've just recently topped the 3,000 mark, which means we're on the home stretch to 4,000, where Turpster says he will create a brand new song for us to play on the WoW Insider Show. So get your Facebook profile on there (or create one if you haven't yet, and then sign on as a fan), and tell your friends and guilds to get over there and become a fan of ours.
The show starts up tomorrow afternoon at 3:30pm Eastern, and I usually come on a little bit before then to chat with whoever shows up and play some tunes. Should be fun -- see you then.
Blizzard puts advertising on the WoW front page - Fri, 23 Jan 2009 13:00:00 EST Bornakk has fessed up to Blizzard's little slip yesterday of letting gold buying ads sneak onto the official forums. As expected, he says it was a complete mistake, and that Blizzard is taking steps to keep it from happening. I'm surprised this isn't the action Blizzard took from the beginning -- when the ads first showed up yesterday, Blizzard's forum moderators were deleting (and presumably banning) anyone who mentioned the ads. But almost all of Blizzard's fansites (and even WoW Insider) have had problems with gold ads appearing in advertising content outside our control, so it doesn't seem like Blizzard need worry about it. Sure, it was a mistake, and sure, it was hilarious, but there was no reason to hide the fact that it had happened -- especially since there were screenshots aplenty right away.
However, Blizzard apparently still hasn't learned their lesson: they've now also got external advertisements being served right on the game's front page. These ads are served up by the same company responsible for the ads on the forums, and thus clearly they have the same possible problems -- if one gold ad can appear, more can as well. And while the ad that appeared on the forums was not harmful (other than the fact that it linked to a website that offered a service that would get you banned from the game), anytime you're bringing outside content to your own site, you run that risk. Blizzard has decided to monetize their presence on the web, but it's costing their customers a little bit of security as well.
The emergency maintenance ran a little over the given estimate, but not terrible so. The four hour maintenance lasted for about four hours and forty minutes, which is certainly an annoyance, but here's to hoping that extra time actually gave them the buffer they needed to do what they needed to do.
The official forums have been quite fickly over the past few days. Sometimes you'll be lucky and you'll be greeted by what you're trying to look at, other times you'll get an "error500" message, and still other times you'll see a message like the one pictured above.
The plight of the official forums seems to mirror the activity on the servers. Queue (har har har) the Homer Simpson-esq: Forums go up; forums go down... Forums go up; forums go down...
The past few days of hellish lag, unstable forums, and broken parts of the game have been like the song that never ends. (Note to self: Eat some lamb chops tonight.) After four days of the patch, we're still getting a constant stream of tips detailing bugs and other errors.
I wish I could say that we'll report to you when this is all fixed, but honestly I don't think that is going to come anytime soon. Perhaps next Tuesday they'll roll out another patch to fix some of this, or change something in the datacenters, etc... It's really nearly impossible for us to know exactly what's wrong.
WoW Moviewatch: Story of the Jarhead - Fri, 23 Jan 2009 12:00:00 EST Story of the Jarhead (which has some mature language, as a warning) is one of those machinimas that initially make you think it's a pretty cool idea, but as it goes on you wish they had done more with it. The silhouetted intro piqued my curiosity right off the bat, but there simply wasn't enough to the video overall to keep that interest. I'm not a movie buff, but I assume that the soundtrack and dialogue is from a movie (Jarhead, probably?). Maybe if I had seen the movie, I'd feel greater attachment to the machinima, but I don't really have that connection and thus the nod is lost on me.
That said, the models and setting were pretty good choices to represent the sound and dialogue. The desert setting of Tanaris is fitting (certainly moreso than Stranglethorn Vale or Icecrown), and those 'uniforms' are probably as close to desert camo as you'll get in WoW. The animation fit great in some places, but in others? Not so much. Keeping movements more fluid from scene to scene would be great, I don't think anybody sits or stands absolutely perfectly still at any given moment.
Overall, I think this video is a good starting point with a lot of potential, but is a bit too bare for the dialogue to carry. You, more or less, get the same experience if you just listen to the sound and look away from the video itself. I assume that the monologue was the basis for the video to begin with so that's understandable to some extent, but the visuals should be able to stand upright as well.
Servers still down for emergency maintenance this morning [UPDATED] - Fri, 23 Jan 2009 11:10:00 EST Realms were taken down for emergency maintenance early this morning, with a 2-4 hour estimated window of downtime. I woke up this morning long after the maintenance had started, so my assumption was the servers would probably be up pretty quickly. That was not the case, unfortunately! Luckily I have other things to do today (like write all of this stuff for you), so I'm not terribly broken up about it, but I'm sure a lot of you were planning to get some gaming in this morning.
It's currently a little after 8 am in Irvine, and assuming the maintenance started at the intended 5 am, we only have a little under an hour left of the estimated maintenance duration. Here's hoping that's actually the case, and we see servers coming up within the hour. If that's not how today plays out, we'll be sure to let you know.
Update: We've hit the 4 hour mark and run over, it's been just shy of 40 minutes past the estimate. We'll see how much longer this goes on. Personally, I'd be fine if the servers were down all day long if it meant the rampant lag across many servers was resolved because of it... but that's just me! Either way, we'll be keeping an eye on it.
Update #2: Servers are starting to come back on, ladies and gents.
When Blizzard first introduced the idea of the role forums, players were generally unenthusiastic because the original plan was to dissolve the cherished class forums as well. People warmed up to the idea once Blizzard decided to keep the class forums intact while still warning that they would probably devote a lot more developer attention to the role forums. With the addition of a new class, that made sense; being able to give more attention to just 3 forums is a lot more efficient than trying to spread individual replies around 10.
I don't spend as much time on the Damage Dealing and Healing forums because my main spends most of her time tanking, and things are a little more volatile over there (mostly because of current PvP concerns). Were the role forums ultimately a good idea? Are they -- shall we say -- working as intended?
I guess discrimination against Death Knights doesn't end after the vendors stop throwing fruit and trying to lynch you. Dolohov of <Court of the Ruby Grail> on Maelstrom was simply riding around trying to get his World Explorer achievement when he was unceremoniously ejected from Ratchet. Unable to go back on shore or board the boat, he had no choice but to huddle on some overturned cargo until his hearthstone was up. Luckily, Frost Presence managed to help stave off hypothermia. Next time you go hang out in a major city, Dolohov, may I suggest some Engineering goggles? They hide those creepy blue eyes quite well.
(Actually, Dolohov just snapped this shot while taking a shortcut from Ratchet to Tanaris via Path of Frost. Thanks for the submission, Dolohov!)
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Okay, let's be serious, this is actually a fairly decent (and convenient) change. Is it absolutely needed? No, not at all, but how many of us carried around Simple Wood and Flint and Tinder at all times? Who took those things to raids with them? Very few people, if anybody at all. And I can recall tons of times that people have rushed to a raid just after getting home from work and had forgotten to cook up their consumables. These fires would've been legitimately useful right then, but the small annoyance of carrying stacks of Wood around made it pretty unlikely that anybody had them. Nowadays, I think just about everyone carries a Gnomish Army Knife (and they should if they don't), so this is actually very convenient! You don't need to carry anything extra at all.
My guild had Tuesday night off (our raid leader sensed the coming of doom on the wind, I think, and had canceled the raid as of Sunday), so Wednesday night I found myself at the Naxxramas summoning stone doing what I do every time I run Naxx: trying to right-click the ever-shrinking portion of the stone to be found under dozens of flapping wings and giant mammoth butts in a forlorn attempt to actually -- I don't know -- summon people.
Now, it's no secret that a select portion of WoW's playerbase is comprised of people whom we might politely term "jerks," and the Naxx summoning stone is an almost unparalleled environment for them to practice their delightful skills. The stone is set on a very small ledge, servicing the summoning needs for a very popular instance, and no matter what the area was bound to be crowded. But the situation's made so much worse by the constant presence of players going /afk on top of the stone while conveniently perched on their largest or otherwise unnecessary mounts.
Arenas to be reset - Fri, 23 Jan 2009 02:40:00 EST Along with the many bugs of Patch 3.0.8 was the undocumented new Arena matching and rating system which, similar to the Wintergrasp brouhaha, created disastrous results. Many teams skyrocketed to 2200 ratings, with wins garnering up to 30 points and losses resulting in... nothing. As you can imagine, this newfangled system which Blizzard didn't bother to tell anyone about until after the fact sort of trivialized Arena Achievements such as The Arena Master. Bornakk reveals in that post that the new system may exhibit "some odd behavior" but expects that things should "straighten out fairly quickly."
I'm sure that Blizzard didn't intend odd behavior to mean teams skyrocketing to 2k ratings with ease, with none of the risk involved in competitive ladder play. Straightening out also ended up as being the complete disabling of the whole system while Blizzard investigates "current rating calculation discrepancies." However, Zarhym posted earlier today on the forums that Blizzard will be bringing Arenas back up and all ratings rolled back to pre-weekly maintenance status. All items (and Achievements) gained "illegitimately" will be removed, Arena points refunded, and all gems and enchanting materials returned. As far as that 50 Gold tip you gave to enchant your gear is concerned, however, you're out of luck.
Patch 3.0.8 brought in quite a number of changes to the game, many of which affect PvP directly. I wrote about most of the changes in the other day's column, but as you can imagine, trying to cover all the bases with all the classes can get quite hefty. So before I reach Blizzard levels of 'soon', I'm cheating and appending the rest of the class balance changes here and pretend the whole Wintergrasp fiasco never happened. Oh, and yes, that button should work now. CLASS BALANCE Mages Despite all the calls for nerfs for many classes, for some reason Mages have tiptoed past the madding crowd and continued to Pyroblast unsuspecting enemies for 10k damage without anyone batting an eyelash. Maybe it's their Invisibility, I don't know, but Mages are incredibly powerful opponents in PvP but don't elicit calls for nerfs. Christian was right in saying that Frost is no longer the spec for PvP. It now shares the spotlight with Arcane, with the highest ranked Mage in the world sporting a 60/ 0/ 11 build (although a Frost-specced 20/ 0/ 51 gnome isn't far behind).
So you think Mages are strong in PvP? Well, they've just been buffed. Evocation's cooldown was reduced to four minutes, and with Arcane Mages having access to the improved Arcane Flows, they can Evocate every 2 minutes. It was never a viable tactic to try and drain a Mage, but even with the spark of hope given by the change to mana drain mechanics, Mages will never run out of mana. The extremely RNG behavior of Mirror ImagesPolymorphing the most unlikely targets has been curtailed somewhat with the range of the copy's Polymorph down to a mere 8 yards. This is pretty good.
Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week we're on our way to the last two bosses of Naxxramas -- but not without a stop at the ultimate boss of the Construct Quarter.
If you didn't get to see Naxxramas at 60 but did the first boss of the Mechanar in Burning Crusade, you're already familiar with the major "trick" to the Thaddius fight. Actually, you can make a pretty compelling case that Thaddius is easier than Mechano-Lord Capacitus, mostly because the platform on which Thaddius is situated is ideally configured for the encounter. Mechano-Lord was usually a mess of planning beforehand about where you'd go if you were melee and your charge was different from the tank's, etc. That's not a problem here. But before you get to Thaddius -- who, by the way, is the source of most of the eerie cries you'll hear in this quarter -- you have to deal with a few mobs along the way.
Having experienced this event twice, the big question is what's new this year? Though all of the Achievements are new, they cover older quests. The only difference is the brand new Elders of Northrend Achievement and the additional elders added to the Elders of Dungeons Achievement.
After the jump, an overview of how to complete To Honor One's Elders.
Okay, first off: I haven't been able to play my shaman much at all since patch 3.0.8 dropped. It's not that I haven't tried to. No, no, I've tried and tried and tried. I had an elemental spec all picked out and everything. Unfortunately, whenever I log on to my shaman I immediately disconnect. It's not the Wintergrasp bug (which wouldn't be an issue anyway, what with Wintergrasp being disabled) and having a GM move my character didn't fix it. I can log on to other characters fine, but the shaman sits in Dalaran, unable to be on for more than a few seconds. (My death knight is having similar problems.) Edited for joy: a second move seems to have finally unlocked my shaman! Yay!
As you can probably surmise, this has limited my ability to test my shaman out with the changes. I'm going to try and take him to some heroics and possibly a 10 man Naxx run today, but that's in the future from the point where I'm writing this. Still, I will say this much: I really enjoy free respecs, and I really REALLY enjoy Shamanism. The amount of bonus damage I'm seeing on my Lava Bursts in particular is just so much fun. I'll be speccing between all three trees for the next few days to try and get a feel for how things have changed post patch, but for now we'll talk about elemental, as it's the most changed at the moment.