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Below is a list of Article headlines from WOW Insider. This are used on our main page and updated daily. Each article contains links back to WOWinsider, which allow you to view the whole article

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Thrall gets a new big brother: US government wants to search for terrorists on WoW - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 18:45:00 EST

The Rogue in your next instance or battleground may just be a spy- not from the opposite faction, from the United States Government. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted a report to Congress [Via Wired] on their plans to use data mining in virtual communities to root out spies. The project will involve sifting through vast amounts of data, looking for suspicious behavior and actions. The Intelligence Community wants to target MMOs because they typically fall outside the purview of study. The spying project would only use publicly available data. The findings of the endeavor would not be classified.

Data mining is the process of going through large amounts of information for specific relevant information. This is a process that has long been used in the business industry for product and market research. The government plans to use these same techniques to root out terrorist messages in online content.

Continue reading Thrall gets a new big brother: US government wants to search for terrorists on WoW

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One Boss Leaves: Illidan vs Twin Emperors wrap up - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 17:00:00 EST


Last week, Illidan Stormrage the Betrayer, entered the arena against double threat of Ahn'Qiraj, the Twin Emperors. Did Illidan's Shear decimate the Qiraji brothers or did the Lord of the Outlands fall to the siblings' superior numbers?

Reader Dierle summed it up well: [Illidan would] use his normal elf form to slice up the melee vulnerable twin, and his giant demon caster form to blast apart the magic vulnerable twin. Even if they DID get allowed to use their proximity heal, Illidan could throw down his warglaives and use his fire elementals to keep them separated. That would make it game over for the Twin Emperors.

Illidan moves on to the Final Four. His opponent will be determined when the voting opens tomorrow in the death match of Ahn'Qiraj bosses: Princess Huhuran vs. C'thun.

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Meet Lord Ahune - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 16:00:00 EST
First off, I'd like to warn everyone that this post contains fairly detailed spoilers for the upcoming holiday, the Midsummer Fire Festival. If you'd like the details of the new boss to remain a surprise, this post probably isn't for you! But I know quite well that most WoW players can't stand not knowing what's what, so I'm sure many of you will continue.

As mentioned in Daniel's post a few days ago, this Festival will bring us another Headless Horseman-esque boss, complete with phat lewts. You can check it all out on the PTR right now. Found within the Slave Pens, this boss, named Lord Ahune, is another Ragnaros look-alike. As you can probably guess from his appearance alone, Ahune is another lieutenant of the Elemental Lords, like Prince Thunderaaan. Ahune is serving one of the Lords in particular: Neptulon. Is this another bit of the story of Skar'this? Time will tell!

The Lord Ahune encounter is an alternating two phase battle, again similar to the Headless Horseman. Without giving away too many details, be prepared to fight a number of adds in one of the two phases and have some burst damage queued up for the other. Most any group worth their salt should be able to put away Ahune relatively easily.

While the battle is fun, the loot is funner. More fun? Funnerer.

Continue reading Meet Lord Ahune

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What to do about perpetual losers? - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 15:03:00 EST
Many Alliance players have this impression that the Horde is constantly united, more cooperative, and generally understands how to play better than the Alliance does. Whether this is true or not is not something I myself can speak for, though I have heard my Horde friends say they have just as many clueless PvP people as the Alliance does.

So perhaps both factions can relate to Mendax's complaint that so many people seem to go into the battlegrounds with no idea how to win, and somehow fail to learn how, even in spite of playing a great deal and getting a lot of good gear. Their tendency is just to go in and lose over and over again, repeating the same old proven-to-fail methods for various reasons: possibly because they don't know anything better, possibly because they don't care anymore, and possibly because they've already identified themselves, their faction, or everyone else in their faction as born losers.

In any case, Mendax thinks that Blizzard should make the battlegrounds themselves reward you for better play, so that the game mechanics themselves encourage you to play in such a way that you're more likely to actually win. First of all, they could provide more honor for kills near contested objectives (such as flags or towers), and secondly, they could deny all bonus honor if you lose. His first idea quite interesting -- I like the possibility that the reward system of the battlegrounds could somehow teach you to play better in itself, if that's really possible. However, while I can understand his reasoning in removing all bonus honor gain for losing teams, I think this would just make the "losers" stop queueing up altogether. We might be happy to get rid of whiners, complainers and all them, but in the end would the increase the waiting time in between battles be worth it? And in any case, would the "losers" really go away, or would they just look for ways to get around the system?

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Shifting Tanzanite shifts - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 14:00:00 EST
A minor(but interesting) change was included in the last PTR push: The Shifting Tanzanite has had its stats changed up a bit. Previously a Strength/Agility gem, it is now Agility/Stamina, as you can see above.

Previously, this was arguably the best blue gem in the game for melee DPS classes. With the introduction of the Heroic gems no longer being Unique in patch 2.4, it was a little exciting to be able to slot more than one of these at a time, even if blues aren't the most desirable color for physical damage dealers. Now, the Shifting Tanzanite is still desired, but not necessarily to fill that same role or by the same people. One of the few highly sought after Heroic gems has been gutted.

Why? Nobody knows but Blizzard. One of my theories is these Heroic gems are not meant to be a "best in slot" but an alternative option, even now that you can socket multiples in your armor. It probably won't bother too many melee DPS because as good as that gem was, it was only the best blue for melee. Most melee do not stack blues at all. Tanks do stack blues, however. While this gem has become a little better for the tanks, it most likely does not outweigh Solid Stars of Elune and most certainly is not better than Solid Empyrean Sapphires for the raiders among us.

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Hybrid Theory: What's a hybrid? v2.0 - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 13:00:00 EST


Hybrid Theory returns under the banner of column-newb Alex Ziebart. Incredibly biased opinions await you. If you are reading this, you have already been made a victim of his inability to create interesting graphics. No World of Warcraft players were harmed in the creation of the previous image, though that does not mean it won't hurt you.

When I decided on my topic for today, I was mighty excited. A fire raged within me, and my fingers flew over the keyboard as soon as I sat down at the computer. My first column! Awesome! Yes! About three paragraphs in, I realized I should probably make sure my predecessor, Jason Lotito, hadn't done the topic yet. Unfortunately, he did. Fortunately, I completely disagree with what he said in every possible way.

Perfect.

What is a hybrid class? The basic answer is pretty simple: A class with multiple viable roles. Paladins, Druids and Shaman are obvious examples of a hybrid class. If you disagree with the fact that they're hybrids, you must be playing the wrong game. Holy, Retribution, Protection. Feral, Balance, Restoration. Elemental, Enhancement, Restoration. All of them are viable specs, especially in raiding. As fun as it is to mock Retribution Paladins, even they have a place in the end-game.

Basically, Shamadruidins are hybrids. Don't try to argue that they aren't because you will lose.

Continue reading Hybrid Theory: What's a hybrid? v2.0

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WoW Moviewatch: Streamline - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 12:00:00 EST

It looks like Fishface went a little filter-happy this weekend. He created Streamline, a short music video based on the Pendulum song by the same name. As Baron Soosdon said on the video page, it would be a lot better if the cuts were in sync with the music. In addition, the L70ETC band didn't really fit in with the type of music that he used.

Otherwise, I found it to be enjoyable. There's not much of a plot to go on, so just sit back and enjoy the billions of color filters that he applied. If you liked Streamline, check out the high resolution version!

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Blizzard lays down the science on gold selling - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 11:31:00 EST


It may seem like it didn't need to be said, but they're saying it anyway: gold buyers are financing the hacking of accounts and the selling off of people's gear. Since we at WoW Insider have seen a lot of these cases (have even had them happen to some of us) we know how profoundly irritating and even emotionally painful it can be to have all of your work on a character or characters gone in a heartbeat, much less seeing them transfered to other servers and even in some cases having their names changed. Blizzard points out power leveling services as a particular culprit in this trade, saying "Through our normal support processes and the assistance of players, we also find that many accounts that have been shared with power-leveling services are then hacked into months later, and all of the items on the account are stripped and sold off. Basically, players have paid money to these companies, sometimes large amounts, and they're then targeted by these same companies down the road."

Now, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't still be careful with add-ons you download or keep a good anti-virus program on your computer, as we know there are many malicious trojans out there targeting World of Warcraft players. But just as clearly, if you use a power leveling service or buy gold, not only are you funding account hacking, you're in danger of seeing your own account hacked as well.

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Macro Anatomy: Primer - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 11:00:00 EST

Have you ever lost a battle because you fumbled through a sequence of actions? Perhaps when trying to run from a rogue you dropped a Stoneclaw Totem rather than the intended Earthbind Totem. Alternatively, you may have cast Frost Nova rather than Counterspell on a Warlock casting her 1.5 second Fear. Missed clicks or keystrokes have been the bane of many players. This is where the magic of macros can save you from keyboard fumbling.

Among their many uses, macros can be used to establish cast sequences, "I win" buttons and evasive action commands.

Macros are something many players have heard of, but shy away from because they require some basic scripting knowledge. For the uninitiated, macros are commands built by users to execute customized actions or action sequences. A macro, known in the Computer Science world as a macro instruction, are defined as a rule that specifies how a certain input sequence should be mapped to an output sequence. Sounds horrible, I know, so let's make it easier.

Macros in World of Warcraft, are really just new and simplified ways to do the same old things. For a Mage, this can be a Presence of Mind / Pyroblast button, the "I win!" macro for Fire / Arcane mages. From simple commands to eat and drink at the same time, to determining a target's status (friendly or hostile) and casting an appropriate spell, macros can be used to streamline game play and clean up your User Interface.

Continue reading Macro Anatomy: Primer

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Arcane Brilliance: Azeroth's got talent - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 10:30:00 EST

Each week, Arcane Brilliance endeavors to bring you small peek into the strange and wonderful world of Mages. We're simple creatures, we Mages. We like to live fast, die fast, and turn things into other, funnier-looking things. We also enjoy giant, juicy crits. We don't need much, just absolute power.

When a Mage is born, he or she springs to life in Deathknell or some such place, tumbling out of the nether fully grown and wearing a dress. As they take their first tremulous steps into the World of Warcraft, they discover that they can summon balls of flame and hurl them at zombies. Soon they learn to freeze the very air itself and fling bolts of freezing death at boars. In time, as they venture into the great world beyond their starting area, they ding 10 and gain their first talent point.

Suddenly, these young magelings discover they can hone their craft, direct their studies along three distinct paths. Will they walk the devastating road of Fire? The subtle alleyways of the Arcane? The deadly tundra of Frost? Or dabble in all three? Reading this, you may be tuning out at this point, saying something to yourself like "duh...17/0/44." Some of you may be thinking, "Arcane? There are talents in that tree beyond Improved Counterspell? You sure?" You may also be thinking "ltp n00btard! you got pwned," but quite frankly, if you think in leetspeak I fear for your very soul. If you're thinking any of those things, read on. I stand before you to assert that there are absolutely must-have talents in every tree that you can fit into other more popular specs, and after the jump I'll explore some ways to do it.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Azeroth's got talent

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Around Azeorth: Ancient mystery unearthed - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 10:00:00 EST


You've probably seen plenty of screenshots of the floating islands of Nagrand, but this one stands out among the others. Look closer and you'll see something a little different embedded in the side: a fossil of...what? Player Sin of Alexstrasza who sent us the shot suggests perhaps ancient flying clefthoof. What do you think?

Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing 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 prefer full screen shots without the UI showing. And please, no more sunsets. No, really. Ok, only if it's a sunrise in new Patch 2.4 lands. We'll take those anytime. Oh, and no more shots of Omen killed in Ogrimmar. It's cool, we get it. A lot of it.

Gallery: Around Azeroth

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Magister's Terrace and the meatshield: Drops to look for - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 09:00:00 EST
Recently on the forums there have been a number of threads popping up wondering what the average tank's situation is going to look like, gear-wise, after patch 2.4 hits. Assuming you won't be raiding Sunwell Plateau anytime soon, the new 5-man dungeon Magister's Terrace is the obvious choice for new loot drops if you're raising a Warrior, Druid, or Paladin whose primary responsibility will be tanking. My guild is raiding Tier 6 at this point, but I have to admit: 5-mans are still my favorite part of the game and I've been looking forward to seeing Magister's Terrace more than anything else. But after running across a now-departed forum thread complaining that it was going to be even more difficult than usual pugging a tank for a dungeon where virtually no tanking loot drops, it occurred to me that spoiling myself a little with a look through the known drops might be in order, especially as I had heard rumors of a truly amazing drop.

Well, it turns out the forum poster was right. Sort of. Thankfully, so were the rumors.

If you're looking for an excellent first impression of Magister's Terrace from a tank, Adam Holisky has a write-up, but here we're going to take a closer look at the gear you can expect to see dropping.

Continue reading Magister's Terrace and the meatshield: Drops to look for

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Breakfast Topic: Meeting WoW folks - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 08:00:00 EST


I've met some really cool people playing World of Warcraft. With the exception of a small handful of my RL friends, most of them are just friendly voices on Ventrilo. I had the opportunity to hang out with a guildie last spring. It was an awesome time.

We had been running lowbies on a new server. We had a Warrior, a Rogue, a Warlock and a Shaman that we were leveling together. All but the Warlock player live in Las Vegas. decided to spend part of his spring break with us. I went to pick him up at the airport holding a sign with his character name on it- probably not the strangest thing you'll ever see at McCarran International Airport. With the exception of a couple dinners out, we spent the entire weekend playing WoW. No casinos, no strip, no shows, no clubs- just WoW. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Continue reading Breakfast Topic: Meeting WoW folks

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Epic jewelcrafting recipes go factional on the PTR, goggles and tier 6 gear also get changes. - Sat, 23 Feb 2008 05:25:00 EST
World of Raids has discovered something hiding in the latest patch build: All the epic gem cut recipes from current 25 mans will now be available from the Shattered Sun Offensive at various reputation levels.

While no vendor has been found for them, the most likely candidate would seem be Shaani, one of the new NPCs we mentioned yesterday. In fact, I would call this even further evidence for the likelihood of epic gem transmutes from the lab set up by Mar'nah from the Razorthorn Rise daily, also mentioned in that article. Certainly, if casuals will be able to learn epic gem cuts from a daily grind reputation, it would make sense that they'd also be able to obtain epic gems to cut from somewhere other than the AH. It really does seem like Blizzard is preparing for Wrath of the Lich King with this patch, giving more and more opportunities for the casual player to catch up so they can start the expansion on a much more equal footing with the raiding player than they did for the Burning Crusade.

In other item and trade skill news from the latest build, the new goggles will now require more ingredients to make, mostly extra primals of various types.

Finally, most of the new tier 6 gear had previously been stripped of stamina, but now has it back, though in slightly smaller amounts than before. This should be good news to all those Druid Tanks who were a bit concerned about what use the gear would be for them, at the least.

Oh, and the scaling bug continues to be hilarious.

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Giant news from the PTR: A new build brings a new bug [UPDATED] - Fri, 22 Feb 2008 19:40:00 EST


A New build has just been pushed to the PTR. There's been some changes to Mage and Warlock talents according to World of Raids, including an addition of up to a 10% cast time reduction on Incinerate from the Warlock's Emberstorm Talent, the changing of the Mage Icy Veins talent to add 100% pushback resistance instead of 10% more chance for chilling effects to freeze the enemy, and a reduced chance to be hit for up to 4 seconds from the Mage Improved Blink talent.

For the raiders, the Sunwell Plateau raid is available again as well.

In addition, a rather amusing bug has popped up. The scaling has gone a bit wonky on the Test Server, and you can now find massive Clockwork Rocket Bots patrolling around next to oversized Kwee Q. Peddlefeets. Warlock pets also seem to have gotten a shot of Giant Growth Elixir as well, while the Ogres hanging out above Shattrath City have been shrunk. Hortus is aware of the bug, and (unfortunately) it will be fixed. So if you're on the PTR, enjoy your oversized pets while you can! And Mages and Warlocks, enjoy your new talent changes.

UPDATE: Other class changes have been noticed now as well. The 41-point Shaman Enhancement talent, Shamanistic rage, is no longer dispellable. In addition, the Warlock Lifetap spell now is now percentage-based. It converts 26% of max hp into 26% of max mana.

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Blood Sport: Is WoW turning into a PvP game? - Fri, 22 Feb 2008 19:00:00 EST


V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.

Looking at some of the upcoming class changes in patch 2.4, I can't help but feel that many of them are driven by PvP - particularly Arena - issues. Blizzard is undoubtedly trying to level the playing field for the classes before the 3v3 Arena Tournament, tentatively set to begin in April. That's a very short time to iron out problems and further imbalances that the patch will bring.

A design philosophy that Blizzard has insisted on from the beginning is that each class should play similarly in both PvP and PvP. Tom Chilton (Lead Designer, or Kalgan) said at last year's Blizzcon that the game "shouldn't have significantly different rules for spells in PvP vs PvE."

"Slower" water in Arenas is the latest change that depart from this philosophy, in addition to PvP-only diminishing returns, and PvP-oriented stats like Resilience and Spell Penetration. However, since many class changes apply to both PvP and PvE, PvE players seem to be "dragged" along by changes meant to tune their classes' PvP performance. Shamans and druids seem to be most affected this patch with changes to Nature's Swiftness, Elemental Mastery, Call of Thunder for shamans, and Lifebloom for druids.

Continue reading Blood Sport: Is WoW turning into a PvP game?

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Phat Loot Phriday: Winterfall Firewater - Fri, 22 Feb 2008 18:00:00 EST


This is probably old news to a lot of you, but just in case you happened to join us after Burning Crusade dropped, you might not know about this magical liquid available only in the snowy wastes of Winterfall. Here's something fun that almost anyone after 55 can get.

Name: Winterfall Firewater (Wowhead, Thottbot, Wowdigger)
Type: Consumable
Damage/Speed: N/A
Abilities:
  • Increases your attack power by 35 for 20 minutes. This counts as a Battle Elixir -- you can only use one Battle Elixir and one Guardian Elixir at a time.
  • But the best part of this nowadays (since 35 attack power ain't that much, especially when you scale up to 70) is that it makes you grow in size, which lets you do funny things like the picture above.
  • There are a couple of other ways to grow in size -- the most common is the Shaman spell Bloodlust. Stack a few of these together with the Firewater, and you can see some pretty crazy stuff. You can put your own "huge player" experiences in the comments below.
  • Finally, "firewater" is also a slang term for alcohol, and is also offensively used to refer to the problem of alcoholism among Native Americans. In the quest mentioned below, you find out that the Furblog (a bear-like people with tribal similarities to Native Americans) is being corrupted by this "firewater," and one of your tasks is to attack the Furblog leader and cure them of that corruption. A very interesting social background to the whole idea of the Furbolg in Azeroth.
How to Get It: This is a drop only from Furbolg in Winterspring, and though most of the percentages out there say it drops only about 4-6%, experience tells us that it drops pretty regularly. Anyone who's ever grinded those bears for Timbermaw Hold rep will tell you that they've seen tons of these. And for that reason, they're also pretty readily available on the AH as well, for as cheap as a gold or two.

Still, it's always fun to have a few around, just in case things get a little boring during a raid, and you feel the need to, y'know, be big.

Getting Rid of It: AH it, because vendors won't buy it. Or just drink it, specifically during raids when Bloodlust gets dropped. Always fun.

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Details on the WoW Minis game - Fri, 22 Feb 2008 17:29:00 EST
WoW Insider has obtained a copy of the "sell sheet" sent to distributors about the upcoming WoW minis game, and it contains information about pricing, pack size, and even some hints at a release date.

Basically, the minis will become available in three different ways: there will be the core booster sets, which will contain three minis of the same Horde or Alliance faction, plus three character cards and six ability cards, and will have a suggested retail price (SRP) of $14.99 per booster. Additionally, each booster will have a chance to include an ingame Loot Card, supposedly from the Trading Card Game (there is no word if there will be loot cards specifically for the minis game), and a 1/8 chance to have an "epic" character.

More info on the starter sets, including the full text of the "sell sheet," after the break.

Continue reading Details on the WoW Minis game

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Insider Trader: The crafter's toolbench - Fri, 22 Feb 2008 17:00:00 EST
Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

This week's Insider Trader rounds up some of our favorite professions-related add-ons - and more importantly, it's a spot to share your favorites. I've learned that no matter how much time you spend poring over add-on sites and forum threads, as soon as you mention your latest cool find to a friend, he'll pop back with the name of another great new mod that you've never heard of. It's a fast-moving field, certainly.

As you browse the list of mods we've discussed in the past, be sure to scan all the comments for more ideas. Keep in mind, too, that some of the mods mentioned may have been replaced by newer, shinier mods or might even be defunct and no longer maintained. Read on for a taste of some of the sweet little tools that make life easier for every profession.

Continue reading Insider Trader: The crafter's toolbench

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WoW Insider Show goes live tomorrow afternoon - Fri, 22 Feb 2008 16:00:00 EST


Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, February 23rd at 3:30pm EST on WoW Radio, we'll go live on the air yet again with our august podcast. This week, we've got myself and Turpster as usual (did you hear that he's doing something every week on Tuesday over at Massively nowadays?), and relative WI newbies Amanda Dean and Adam Holisky will be along for the ride. We'll be chatting about all those patch 2.4 changes we've seen in the past week (including the vaporous promise of Shaman buffs), what Heroic Badges are really for, what our compadre Elizabeth Harper heard at GDC, and of course we've got to get the inside story from Adam about what made him so bitter about PuGs.

Should be a good time as always. Meet up with us at 3:30pm EST tomorrow afternoon on WoW Radio, and if you'd like (and you have IRC), you can also join us in chat on irc.mmoirc.com, in the #wowradio channel during the show. And if you have a comment, complaint, conundrum, or compliment for us, you can always send it along to theshow@wowinsider.com. We're getting tons of great emails there lately, so we can't answer them all on the show, but we'll answer yours if we can. See you tomorrow!

P.S. Oh, and I almost forgot -- as promised last week, we will have exclusive news of a brand new, upcoming WoW Insider contest. Listen in to the show to find out what we're planning!

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