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AT&T maintenance tonight to cause connection issues - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST
A news announcement on the login screen is letting us all know that AT&T, the people who provide data center service to Blizzard, will be performing maintenance tonight from 12:00 a.m. EST until 5:00 a.m. EST.

This will likely cause problems with both being able to login to the game and stay connected. This is an odd maintenance announcement, and one that I don't recall seeing before.

Hopefully this will not develop into anything more serious - such as extended network outages or other such issues.

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First impressions: 5-man healing in the beta - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 19:00:00 EST


I specced resto in the beta the other week to try out the new talents and abilities Druids are getting in Wrath, and decided to brave the horrors of LFG and scribble some notes for your sake, dear readers. By the way, the aspect of beta that I will miss most? The 1 copper respec fee. Can we keep this?

Please note that this is written from the perspective of a 70 Restoration Druid, so unfortunately I can't comment on whether Priests, Shamans, or Paladins might have had an easier or harder time healing the instances. I have a good but not jaw-dropping resto set, and on the live realms clock in around +1998 to +2100 healing unbuffed. If your gear's better or worse, then just adjust the potential difficulty level as needed. And even if you're not a healer, you still might find something useful here:

Continue reading First impressions: 5-man healing in the beta

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Tips for Brewfest keg runs - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST


Brewfest is in full swing, and there's on aspect that most participants dread: Keg running. It's not terribly hard once you know how it goes, but figuring it out can be a real pain. Let's see if we can ease the learning process, shall we? Here are some things that worked for me:
  1. Take a walk (or run) up and down the course before you start the race. Find out where all of the apple barrels are on the course. There should be one at the beginning, one at the end, and two spaced out in the middle. You don't need all four of them, but knowing where they are is the important part.
  2. Let's pick which ones you want to use. Let's number them: The barrel at the beginning is #1, and they're in numerical order from there, #4 at the end. Ignore #1 and #3. Pretend they don't exist. They aren't there. There are only two apple buckets, #2 and #4.

Continue reading Tips for Brewfest keg runs

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Honor points and marks reset in WotLK - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 17:30:00 EST
We all had an inkling this was coming, right? I mean, it is Blizzard and they do things that are occasionally "evil." So it should be no surprise to anyone that Eyonix announced today that they will be resetting all the honor points when Wrath of the Lich King is released.

In his post he does mention that they will be putting in a few new items that are purchasable with honor points only. At least those that have piles of points saved up can get something. Let's just hope that it's something you can use. They will be appearing on the PTR shortly.

The reasoning behind this is that Blizzard wants there to be an even playing field when everyone hits 80. If people saved up tons of honor points and marks, they could be used to immediately purchase the newest PvP gear. That would create an imbalance.

Continue reading Honor points and marks reset in WotLK

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15 Minutes of Fame: 10-boxing Karazhan, Part 1 - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST


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.

This week's 15 Minutes of Fame is about a multiboxing team - but it's not that team that just ganked you in your last Battleground. Absolute Power-H of Archimonde and its team leader/main tank, Nixi, have made their mark not in Battlegrounds but in Karazhan.

Ever curious about a unique perspective of the World of Warcraft, we visited with Nixi & Co. to find out what it's like to "solo" Karazhan. This week in Part 1 of our interview, we go straight for the throat with Nixi's Kara strats. Next week, Part 2 of 15 Minutes of Fame: 10-boxing Karazhan brings you a look at Nixi's hardware setup and his top five tips for new multiboxers.

Continue reading 15 Minutes of Fame: 10-boxing Karazhan, Part 1

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WoW Insider Show Episode 56: Mage madness - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 16:30:00 EST
Just because this last week's WoW Insider Show was prerecorded doesn't make it any less good -- we finally had some excellent Mage talk (Aurdon of ISheepThings.com came on to chat with us), and John "BigBearButt" Patricelli and Duncor and I also talked about lots of other stuff, including (but not limited to):

In fact, Aurdon showed us all up this week -- he's got a nice summary transcript up of everything he said in the show, including some great links to all the stuff we talked about. As usual, the show is up for listening right now over on WoW Radio, and in iTunes as well.

Next weekend, we'll be back live on Saturday afternoon, and Turpster, at long last, should be returning to the studio as well. Enjoy the show this week and we'll see you then.

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A BlizzCon-ticket winning piece of fan fiction - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about Pixelated Executioner's little fanfic contest, in which he was giving away a BlizzCon ticket (sans goodie bag) to someone who sent in the best piece of WotLK fan fiction, and here's the payoff: he's now posted the winning piece on his website. I have to say that I'm not usually a huge fan of fan fiction (mostly because it's not usually any good -- PE does mention that there were plenty of Mary and Gary Sues in the mix, and technically the winning piece features another one), but any story that adds a little personality to the spider-people of Azjol-Nerub, not to mention throws in an appearance by the Explorers' League, is a winner in my book.

Plus, it worked out well for everyone -- PE decided that he would give away the goodie bag to the winner, and apparently she submitted the story for her brother, so they could go to BlizzCon together. Very nice. Of course they (and everyone else at BlizzCon) are formally invited to come say hi to us at the to-be-announced WoW Insider reader meetup. Very nice story, Anujaresh, glad to see the BlizzCon ticket found its way into some worthy hands.

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Stepping away from +threat - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 15:00:00 EST

Threat is at the heart of tanking. However, it's totally hidden from the player, and many players don't understand it well or at all. A thumbnail sketch: every point of damage you do causes 1 threat. Every point of healing you do causes 0.5 threat (unless you're a paladin, in which case it's 0.25 for reasons I've never fully understood). This is base threat; many classes have threat modifiers. Rogues, for instance, have an innate 30% reduction to threat. Warriors and Druids get 30% improved threat in their tanking modes (Defensive Stance/Dire Bear Form); this will be raised to 45% in LK, I believe. Paladins get 90% extra threat for their Holy damage from Righteous Fury.

Then there are various tanking skills which have special threat modifiers. Sunder Armor is one that has been around forever; it wouldn't cause much threat inherently, but it's got extra threat built in. Lacerate and Revenge are other examples.

In short, the way Blizzard has traditionally made tanking work - made sure the tanks are causing more threat than everyone else, so the mobs will attack them - is by keeping their damage low, but raising their threat with threat-increasing auras and threat-boosted abilities. This is not the tack they're taking in LK, based on some trends that have been emerging in blue posts over the last month or two. For instance, Ghostcrawler: "We'd like to get away more from +threat abilities for all classes if we can."

Continue reading Stepping away from +threat

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Ask a Beta Tester: Championing clarification, raiding, and more - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 14:30:00 EST

Quite a few people wanted some clarification on the Championing system mentioned in previous editions of Ask a Beta Tester, so I'll try to do just that: The Championing system is not retroactive, and by that I mean old factions are not included in it. You can't use this to grind Orgrimmar or Honor Hold or whatever in level 80 dungeons. It only applies to Wrath reputations, and so far, not even all of those.

It only counts towards the 'big four' of Northrend as far as I can see. Those reputations are: The Kirin Tor, The Argent Crusade, The Knights of the Ebon Blade, and the Wyrmrest Accord. You should be able to get really, really high reputation with the Valiance Expedition/Warsong Offensive just through questing, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a Tabard for them soon, too. The little people like the Kalu'ak are, so far, not included in this system.

Read on for more answers to your questions!

Continue reading Ask a Beta Tester: Championing clarification, raiding, and more

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The Engineer's dilemma - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 14:00:00 EST


After a recent article on how the Engineering motorcycles of Wrath are going to be BoE items usable even by non-engineers, there's been a lot of commentary both here and on the forums about many Engineers' preference for the mount to be BoP -- or at least usable only by fellow Engineers. Last night we heard from reader Deftek who made the following three points: a). the motorcycle would be the only mount in the game beside your own faction's that doesn't require a rep/token grind or a profession; b). the vast majority of Engineering's gadgets have always been for Engineers only, and; c). everyone is going to have one if all you have to do is buy the reagents on the AH and track down an Engineer.

It's an interesting conundrum. Profitability and accessibility seem to be zero-sum in the game, and Engineers have complained for years that the profession was a complete money sink because they could sell so few items or services. I'm leveling Engineering on my Warrior right now and it became apparent pretty early that the profession lacked the usual lucrative items available to others; there's no real equivalent to Tailoring's bags, Leatherworking's armor kits, or Alchemy's raid potions. I've made money selling Mechanical Squirrels and that's it. So while I understand where Deftek's coming from, I still think the profession would benefit greatly from the addition of marketable BoE items, and Engineers have just been handed something that basically sells itself.

Having said that, a mount isn't an equivalent to, say, super mana potions or golden spellthread; you buy the motorcycle once and you never need to replace, consume, or update it, so the market for it will never extend beyond these one-time purchases. So while Engineering needs more moneymaking items, from an economics perspective the mount isn't a good choice and possibly should be BoP. But it sure looks cool, and I'd love to have one on my (non-Engineering) main.

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Interesting items in the data files - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST


I've been looking through the Wowhead latest additions page, and found some interesting-looking things. Caveat: some of these are probably datamined, we may never see them in game, etc. Still, it's fun to look at.
  • Intravenous Healing Potion. This does the same thing as Mage-summoned Conjured Mana Strudel (except for the whole group), and shares a cooldown with food. Despite the name, I'd say this is not meant to be used in combat. And based on the medical-themed name, I'd say it's probably going to be created via First Aid.
  • Wintergrasp Commendation. Apparently bought with marks from Wintergrasp; the interesting thing here, of course, is that these are bind to account (BtA), so you can effectively PvP on one character and send honor to another. Does this open the door for my much-coveted BtA badge-type tokens? I hope so.
  • Ghostly Skull. This small pet is apparently sold in Dalaran for 40g, and it looks awesome, in my opinion (see screenshot above -- the skull is in the top-left corner). I will be getting one as soon as possible on my DK. Tacky? Maybe. But I don't care.

I like that Blizzard is going in a lot of different directions in LK; this really seems like more innovation than it was from classic to BC, from items to class skills to world environment. I'm sure there's more cool stuff that I've overlooked. Have you come across anything interesting, either in the beta or on the various sites?

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WoW Moviewatch: The last goodbye - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 12:45:00 EST

This is a hard post to make. I've grown so fond of the commentary and insults that it's difficult for me to tell you that today is my last day at WoW Insider. I've received an opportunity to work in machinima that will allow me to help machinimators in a whole new way. However, my replacement, Natalie Mootz, is an excellent blogger and I'm sure she'll make you proud! I'll miss you guys.

Instead of being overly sappy, I thought I'd do a top five list of my favorite machinimas and scandals:
  1. Here Without You - This love story is three and a half years old, but has stood the test of time.
  2. First of May - This extremely not-safe-for-work video caused a riot on Valentine's Day!
  3. Thaenor Chronicles: Chapter One - The only movie where I've been accused of ruining a PR campaign.
  4. Tunasushi - The time I accidentally blogged a movie with questionable subliminal images.
  5. How to Paladin: Insanity Remix - I honestly have no words to even describe this video ...
  6. 9 Crimes - A bonus video that was blogged before I got to WoW Insider, but touched me nonetheless.
Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Shifting Perspectives: Dealing with Crushing Blows - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 11:00:00 EST

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives is supposed to explore issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week John Patricelli, the Big Bear Butt Blogger, does what no one seems to want, and discusses playing a druid in the game as it is still known, rather than the expansion that is still two months away. Although it is likely Wrath of the Lich King will worm it's way in somehow.

I'd like to take a minute to talk about a mechanic that has defined the Feral Druid tanking philosophy, even though you might not know it.

I'm talking here about Crushing Blows.

A Crushing Blow is an attack made only by NPCs that does 150% of normal attack damage.

A Crushing Blow can happen if the NPC you are fighting has a base weapon skill 15 or more points higher than your base defense skill. Base defense skill is the only thing that counts towards the chance of a Crushing Blow; Defense Rating and Expertise are of no help whatsoever.

At level 70, if you are fully trained up, your defense and weapon skills should be 350 each.

Raid Bosses are level 73. They have 365 weapon skill. That's 15 weapon skill points higher than your possible defense.

Do you see the connection, my friends? If you are main tanking a raid boss that is level 73, then you are susceptible to Crushing Blows

As you might expect, tanks wish to know how to avoid taking these suddenly massive chunks of damage, if at all possible.

You may have heard before that Paladins and Warriors can "push Crushing Blows off the table", but you might not know what that means, exactly.

What kind of table is it? A nice mahogany? Teak? Perhaps inlaid parquet? Are they pushed off the table vigorously, so that they clatter all over the floor?

You may also have heard that having your attacks Parried by a raid boss can cause BAD THINGS to happen, especially if you can suffer from Crushing Blows.

Well, let's talk about this whole thing a little more after the break, shall we?

Continue reading Shifting Perspectives: Dealing with Crushing Blows

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Around Azeroth: Thank you, Captain Oblivious - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 10:00:00 EST

Everyone knows that you have to be careful when taking pictures on a vacation. If you don't watch out, the background of your shot will be filled with shirtless hairy men, teenagers giving the finger to the camera, or, in the case of Deepees of Stormreaver's first trip to Karazhan, a dead master mage attacking a giant transparent dragon. Deepees seems oblivious of the battle raging behind him. I suspect the next picture in this series is of his gailly dressed corpse beneath the feet of a giant, burning dragon skeleton.

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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Caption This! - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 09:30:00 EST

Is Wrath out yet? Is Wrath out yet? It's not? Well, here's another Caption This! contest to fill in your lonely hours.

First off, congratulations to the winners of the last contest: thebmf with "None of the Tallstriders had the heart to tell the orc he was adopted," and runner-up Kakura with "Grog never wanted to be a peon. Grog always wanted to be... a lumberjack!"

Here's how the story goes: I post a picture during Tuesday maintenance. You write a humorous caption for this picture by Friday, September 26 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 of those favorites will be chosen for the final vote. On Tuesday morning, we put the top ten up for a public vote in a new post. Voting ends Wednesday, October 1 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.

And what are these prizes, you ask? Well, first place winner gets a 60-day game card, worth approximately $30. And the second-place winner will get his choice of an Eastvale Logging Camp or a Camp Taurajo ringer 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 kicked out of the beta by Tigole!

This picture, featuring a zombie invasion, comes from the official WoW screenshot archives. Click here for a larger version. Good luck!

Gallery: Caption This!

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Forum post of the day: Mobile love - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST

Recently, rumors have been spreading about a mobile application for WoW. Blizzard has been trying to get some information through a series of mobile service polls on the forums. Bornakk began a poll regarding the number of times forum users have downloaded games or applications for cellular devices. In the cellular era, Blizzard appears to be making our favorite MMORPG more mobile friendly.

Many of the posters indicated that they have the latest in smartphones and thus are constantly adding new aps. This will likely encourage Blizzard to provide better mobile support. This will be handy considering that they have been resistant to third party mobile applications.


Continue reading Forum post of the day: Mobile love

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Breakfast topic: Vacation to Northrend - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST

Hooray! After months of speculation, we finally have a release date for Wrath of the Lich King. The World (of Warcraft) will soon be chock full of Death Knights and Inscriptionists. There are so many things to look forward to. I can't decide which character to level first. I'll have some time.

As promised, I put in my Paid Time Off request for a few days after the release. I'm very surprised at Thursday release date, but I'm not complaining. I'm taking the twelfth through the sixteenth of November off work. I beat the release-request rush at work, so my time is approved. See you in Northrend.

Are you rearranging your schedule for the coming of Wrath?

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The Tuesday Morning Post: Bejeweled at the Brewfest edition - Tue, 23 Sep 2008 05:30:00 EST
Good Tuesday morning, Everyone! It's a long bit of downtime today, 3 AM to 11 AM PDT. That means that you'll have plenty of non-WoW time ahead of you. As usual, I'm going to suggest that you devote some of that to catch up on this week's news from around WoW. Here's a few suggestions:

Hot News and Cool Features

Continue reading The Tuesday Morning Post: Bejeweled at the Brewfest edition

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Blood Sport: Healing in Arenas - Mon, 22 Sep 2008 21:00:00 EST


Healing in Arenas is necessary. It's that simple. Outside of the 2v2 bracket, it is virtually impossible to find an Arena team comp without a healer. Of course, in the 2v2 and 3v3 brackets, that usually means a Druid. There's no question, however, that healing is key to every strategy and a good healer can spell the difference between a 2 rating win or a 26 rating loss. And just like in most cases, a healer gets the most of the flak for botching a match because it's easier to spot a missed heal than if your Rogue mistimed a Blind or your Shaman blew Elemental Mastery too soon.

In fact, some team members will nerd rage on their healers for missing heals but the DPS classes have an equally important responsibility to peel enemies off their healers. Healing is a thankless job but someone's got to do it. If you happen to be the healer on your team, or luckily one of two or more, I salute you. You've taken on one of the most important roles in Arena PvP. When you heal in Arenas, you basically have to master three important skills: humping, juking, and drinking. Getting those three down pat should help your team coast to more wins than losses... or at least help you get a lot less nerd rage.

Continue reading Blood Sport: Healing in Arenas

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The marathon raid day? - Mon, 22 Sep 2008 20:00:00 EST
A friend and I were idly wondering about the possibility of tackling all Burning Crusade raid content the way you'd watch the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy on a rainy weekend: doing it all without stopping, intent on a glorious finish. Nobody's arguing that the point of such a marathon is to have fun every second while you're doing it; I'd say this is the classic undertaking where it really is about the destination and not so much the journey. But let's say you had an enterprising bunch of raiders sitting around bored on a weekend and your choices were either raiding Tarren Mill again or trying something adventurous. Or if you had Wrath coming up the next week and you wanted to conduct a triumphal tour of the content your guild had conquered, stopping only to relish the wholesale slaughter of bosses who'd given you so much trouble (here's looking at you, Gurtogg). Would it be possible to cut a swathe of destruction across the BC raiding landscape all within the space of a day?

Assuming a bunch of experienced raiders, we came up with the following figures:

Karazhan: 2-3 hours
Gruul's Lair: 1 hour
Magtheridon: 45 minutes
Serpentshrine Cavern: 3-4 hours
Tempest Keep: 3 hours
Zul'Aman: 1 1/2 hours
Mount Hyjal: 2 1/2 hours
Black Temple: 3-4 hours
Sunwell Plateau: 4-5 hours

On the low end, that's 20 hours and 45 minutes. On the high end, it's 25 hours (and I have to pause here for a moment's respect over just how much raid content Blizzard programmed for BC). If you lopped Kara and ZA off the marathon in the interest of doing only 25-man content, an experienced (albeit insane) raid that stomped each site and methodically proceeded to the next with no wipes along the way (probably not likely in Sunwell) could probably wreck BC raid content in maybe 18 hours start to finish (giving them a little extra time for travel and bathroom breaks). Has anyone been crazy enough to try this? Should anyone be crazy enough to try this?

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