We had an article here not too long ago about the SteelSeries WoW mouse, purportedly das ubermaus, replete with glowing fissures and lookin' all like a Templar helmet. We actually had kind of a hard time finding out just how the mouse performed -- it was advertised months before it came out, and it doesn't appear that many gamers actually got to use the mouse prior to pre-ordering it and did so based on Blizzard's official licensing of the WoW name on the product.
The few that did use it, those that played around with it at BlizzCon, actually reported to us that it felt cheap, flimsy, and about to break. That was a bit disconcerting to read, of course, and it wasn't actually an isolated incident--all of the emails we've received about it thus far have been negative reviews. Folks complained of broken buttons or strange key reassignments with the accompanying software.
The inconsistency in reviews of the product thus far isn't what really bothers me, though. It's the fact that the mouse is a WoW-licensed product that performs functions that are against Blizzard's policies.
Ready Check: Guide to Naxxramas (Sapphiron) - Sat, 24 Jan 2009 19:00:00 EST 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 heading to Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad to visit a few old friends, complete Naxxramas, and wonder to ourselves why everyone on the server has a Journey's End but us.
Welcome back! With the Spider Quarter, Construct Quarter, Plague Quarter, and Death Knight Quarter out of your way, the teleport to Sapphiron's room (and from there, Kel'Thuzad) will become available. There's no trash to worry about, just two big, ugly bosses between you and the completion of Naxxramas. Tonight we'll deal with Sapphiron; tomorrow we'll head in to finish off the big lich himself.
Our favorite game made not one but two big appearances on TV this past week. First up, looks like the writer of TNT's Leverage (that Dan already interviewed a while back) is wasting no time getting his characters to fly the Horde flag, as you can see in the clip above (thanks to Massively for digging that up for us). The writer, John Rogers, told Dan that Blizzard actually vetted the dialogue above, which makes us wonder why they were ok with saying Burning Crusade, but didn't want to mention the second expansion by name. Maybe the episode was filmed so long ago that the name hadn't quite been confirmed yet.
And in other television news, we're told World of Warcraft made an appearance as a category on Jeopardy this week. We don't have video of that one (yet), but you can see a quick teaser over on Jeopardy's webpage that mentions the game as a category. World of Warcraft has of course appeared in the game show before as an answer, but this time around, there was a whole column of questions about it. If you see video anywhere online, let us know, and we'll add it here to the post.
Each week Arcane Brilliance drops at a 100% rate from your computer screen. It can be equipped in any slot, and doesn't bind to your character in any way, shape or form. It can be disenchanted into whatever you want, and sells to merchants for a million gold. It is of legendary quality. When equipped, it raises all of your stats exponentially, to the power of awesome. It also has an on-use ability with no cooldown: Arcane Brilliance instantly turns any targetted Warlock into a ridable mount.
I have to begin by admitting my deep bias here. Since midway through The Burning Crusade I've been a deep Arcane Mage. I loved the Arcane tree when it was bad, and I love it now that it's good. It's entirely possible that this fact disqualifies me from even speaking rationally about this topic, but I've never let a crippling lack of impartiality stop me before.
Even those who now hate this spec and cry loudly (and as frequently as the refresh button on their internet browsers will allow) for massive and immediate nerfs will agree that there has never been a better time to be an Arcane Mage. Already quite powerful in PvP and fairly solid in PvE, patch 3.0.8 has only increased the effectiveness of this formidable spec. Playing an Arcane Mage is easy to pick up and challenging to master, and more out-and-out fun than it has any right to be. Follow me after the break and we'll discuss some of the ins and outs of this very potent school of magic.
New Critter-related achievements in 3.0.8 - Sat, 24 Jan 2009 16:00:00 EST Critter killing is a favorite past time of many a WoW player. Some would even say it comes close to bordering on obsession. You may know someone like this, or even be that someone. You have a rank 1 Moonfire or Arcane Shot hot key just for taking out critters. Your critter killing has been known to fake out the tank, making him think you're pulling early. You let neither wind, nor rain, nor snow, nor DPS meters keep from killing a critter. Some people call you unbalanced, but you know you're just dedicated.
If you've been thinking of jumping into the wide world of obliterating small fuzzy creatures in WoW, now is a good time to start, because since 3.0.8 went live, it's official: killing critters is cool. Pest Control is a new achievement introduced with the patch that gives you credit for killing the creepiest and crawliest of critters on Azeroth, the insects, arachnids, snakes, and other such vermin. You've probably accidentally killed these fellows with a stray Fan of Knives or Pestilence or what have you anyway, but next time that happens, you'll get credit.
If you're a critter lover and need to assuage your guilty conscience, have no fear. You can always do To All The Squirrels Who Shared My Life while you're killing the pests. That way there's some sort of balance. You can be a lover, a killer, or both. Rather zen of Blizzard, don't you think?
If you've already started in on your Elder visits, you may have noticed this, but it's worth pointing out for everyone. In a very touching tribute by Blizzard, the Tauren capital of Thunder Bluff has a new elder this year in the form of Ezra Wheathoof. The Wheathoof clan, as you may remember, is the creation of Ezra Chatterton, a young brain cancer sufferer who became a game designer for a day via Make A Wish.
The young fan, who captured the hearts of many a WoW player, and obviously the dev team itself, passed away late last year. In another nice touch, Elder Wheathoof also has a phoenix pet, a tribute to Ezra's character name, Ephoenix.
Putting in his character as a lasting part of Azeroth's history in the form of an Azerothian elder is certainly a fitting and sweet tribute for a boy who used WoW to connect and touch the lives of others even as his own life was fading away. It's also a nice reminder of the human side of playing World of Warcraft, and the connections we make that will never fade, no matter what.
Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.
Patch 3.0.8. has introduced a new term to many hunters: Trap Dancing. A mainstay of the en-vogue 2/18/51 Survivalist hunter, the concept is to keep your enemy engulfed in an Immolation Trap to provide 100% chance that Lock and Load will proc, after which the SV hunter will reap mondo-benefits. The trick is: how to stay in melee-range to trap while continuing to fire from range. This movie will give you the basics of how this is accomplished.
Hey! No pictures, buddy. This is a private military installation. We wouldn't want these photos finding their way to those filthy Scarlets now, would we? Wait, have you been using this camera all day? That's it. Hand over the camera and sit down. You've just earned yourself a date with the Truthinator 3000, which is Rivendare with a couple of hot pokers and Chain Lightning spells. (Thanks to Dôra of Venture Company-EU for the screenshot!)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
This could be the end of the strange story of YouPlayorWePay.com -- or a new beginning. We posted about the site when it first appeared, and even interviewed the founders, but apparently they've decided to make some major adjustments to the site, as it's now down for "reconstruction." A forum post by George Tung says that they are not only redesigning the site, but "re-doing our whole concept." One of our tipsters suggests that Blizzard legal may have gotten involved, but that seems unlikely -- Tung also posts that "when we are done, there will not be any more concerns about our service not being worth or if what we are doing is legal."
So there you have it. We'll have to see what they've got in store for us (though, of course, there's a chance the site may not return at all). Lots of people have had questions and concerns about the concept behind this site from the beginning, and we remain curious to see how this "reconstruction" will answer them.
Breakfast Topics: 37! In a row? - Sat, 24 Jan 2009 08:00:00 EST Yesterday I was out tromping around Nagrand with my Shaman leveling her up, killing mob after mob. There was a point that when I killed about 10 mobs in a row, and I thought to myself "Killing Spree!" Harking back to the days of yore and Quake 3.
This got me thinking. There is one critical achievement that is missing in the game.
A killing spree achievement, ideally reached when you kill 37 mobs in a row without stopping. In fact, there's a great title for it featured as the name of this article. Go ahead Blizzard, take this one idea for free. To you, from me; your friend Adam.
Kazug of EU-Defias Brotherhood is afraid that he will never be able to take on the role of main taink against Heroic Malygos. He pointed out that although tanks are relatively scarce in five man instances, there is fierce competetion for tanking slots in 25 mans. One out of five players must be a tank in five mans, whereas only one in twenty-five can be main tank in a raid. He feels that only the best of the best, the ones with the most time as he defines it, are able to take on the role of main tank.
Other tanks are left taking out the trash on single-tank fights. Several posters echoed Kazug's sentiment. Despite a dedication to tanking, they're relegated to the roll of picking up adds in most fights. Others indicated that their guilds rotate MTs or even have tanks roll off for main tanking responsibilities. For some guilds the MT is the MT and that's all there is to it.
[1.Local] The week in chaos - Fri, 23 Jan 2009 20:00:00 EST Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.
Our world is in chaos! We open this week's [1.Local] with a smattering of the reaction here at WI to various stages of the Great Patch 3.0.8 Meltdown. Players had a lot to gripe about this week - and gripe, they did.
"It's only a game" "'It's ONLY a game man... I mean you ONLY pay real money for it...'" Basic incredulously quotes a previous poster. "That phrase completely trivializes the time and care people put into this game (both development and by playing). If you really don't think there is any value to this game and nothing lost when something goes this badly you should just uninstall and get back to the important things in your life."
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.
Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.
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.