Blizzard poster Ancilorn posted the lowdown on ArenaSeason 6, which is slated to begin at around the same time that Patch 3.1 is released. There will be some key changes to this season, the biggest of which will be that all teams will start at 0 rating instead of the traditional 1500. This way, players will generally have an upward progression throughout the season before plateauing at their estimated skill level.
Another change is that Blizzard has reevaluated the item requirements, feeling that many of them were too difficult to obtain. The lowest rating requirement for an item is currently set at 1250, which may seem low but considering players will be progressing from 0, that's a 1250 point spread. In Season 5, the lowest rating requirement is 1615, which is a mere 115 points from the starting point of 1500. It remains to be seen how much of the continually changing Arena system will award points and how easy or hard it will be to move upwards from 0. More details on the ratings after the jump.
Authenticators to be optional for the Forums and Armory - Wed, 25 Mar 2009 19:30:00 EST Many of the people who are actually allowed to surf the official World of Warcraft forums were a little unhappy with the change to Battle.net accounts simply due to the fact that it meant that if you had an authenticator attached to your account, you now had to use that authenticator to log onto the forums, which wasn't needed before. Even if you're allowed to surf at work, and even if the authenticator has a ring on it to so it can be attached to your keys, not everyone feels comfortable carrying that thing around all of the time. You lose it, you're out of luck for awhile.
The other day, Bornakk announced some good news that I think a lot of those individuals may have missed: They've temporarily removed the requirement to use an authenticator for the forums and the Armory. In the future, they'll be making this feature optional. You'll be able to choose whether or not you want to use the authenticator on the forums. Why would you want to do that? Well, if your account uses an authenticator, it's going to keep keyloggers and hackers/scammers from stealing your account or characters, but if the authenticator isn't attached to your account on the forums, it can still be used for spamming keylogger links since all that's needed there is your password. If you have your authenticator turned off, it's going to do a whole load of nothing to stop that from happening.
It's nice that it will be optional, but if you frequent the WoW forums and don't plan on using your authenticator there, keep in mind that you'll still want to be very careful about where you surf and what you click if forum access is something you enjoy having. In my experience, the forum mods are much less forgiving and not nearly as quick to respond as the in-game GM team.
Blizzard vs. Relic Entertainment in The Escapist's March Mayhem - Wed, 25 Mar 2009 19:00:00 EST The good folks over at the Escapist are giving March Madness a little game developer spin -- they've pitted 64 different videogame developers up against each other in an NCAA Basketball-style showdown, with readers voting for which dev moves on to the next match. And our favorite developer, Activision-Blizzard, is still in the running after a few rounds: they've beaten Wideload Games and Crytek, and are currently facing Relic Entertainment (makers of the Dawn of War RTS series, as well as the classic Homeworld). Unfortunately, Escapist had to list them as "Activision-Blizzard," though what we're really voting for here is Blizzard, since companies who make Activision's other hits (like Infinity Ward, who make the best Call of Duty games, as well as Neversoft, who've overseen most of the Guitar Hero games lately) have their own places in the showdown.
Blizzard's got a tough road ahead, though -- if they win, they're likely facing fan favorite Harmonix (heck, I love Harmonix), and then will probably show down against either Bioware or Rockstar, both extremely popular developers. The other side of the bracket will likely have heavyweights like Nintendo and Valve coming out of it, too, so it'll be a tough road if Blizzard wants to make it to the top.
To vote, you just have to head over to The Escapist's forums -- the next round starts tomorrow morning, and every few days they're moving the developers on to the next matchup. The final round will be decided on April 8th, and while of course winning means nothing at all, this is a nice chance to show off your developer pride. Say what you want about the recent class changes, but Blizzard has given you Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft -- how can you not vote for them?
Your character's name is literally the essence of your World of Warcraft experience. Think about it: from the way you think of your character (a roleplaying personality, a tool for gaming achievements, an expression of yourself) to the way others see you, your name plays a defining role.
While Blizzard indulges in the occasional sly riff on pop culture and even pays homage to the WoW community when naming NPCs (non-player characters) and items, you may find yourself dismayed by the results after attempting to do the same with your own characters. The way we see it, character names are like tattoos - and what seemed like a great idea at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night might not smell so fresh in the harsh light of day.
Naming characters can seem overwhelming to a new player, especially if you're creating a character on an established server where many popular name combinations have already been claimed. Let's cover the basics of finding an appealing name that won't wear thin or break any rules.
Aratil posted another weekly update on the top teams on the US Tournament Realms, with last week's number one BARKSDALE CREW remaining stagnant at 2501 rating, allowing last week's third placers well then to move past them into first place. Curiously, well-known pro gamer Serennia's We Met on eHarmony, another Death Knight/ Paladin/ Warlock comp, which was fifth last week tanked to 43rd place. Interestingly, Serennia openly dissed NO LIGHTNING GEN BRAH in his blog as "not-so-surprisingly horrible," while taking a potshot at less popular Battlegroups. The players of NO LIGHTNING GEN BRAH currently hold the top spot of the 3v3 bracket on the Rampage Battlegroup and maintained status quo in the rankings on the Tournament Realms.
Of course, it's important to note that none of these rankings really matter at this point. As Serennia noted in the same blog entry, players only need their teams to be in the top 1000 to qualify for the invitational phase of the tournament. Standings right now are merely observational benchmarks and Aratil's regular updates are nothing more than that -- updates. Although the US Tournament Realms indicate a trend towards the Death Knight/ Paladin/ Warlock team comp, the European side has a fair share of Rogue/ Mage/ Priest teams. That said, the top team in Europe as of this writing is also a DK/Pally/Lock comp that wasn't in the Top 10 last week. In Korea, where teams are still working their way to crack 2000, the most popular comps are the expected RMP with the current top team being a Death Knight/ Paladin/ Hunter. Yep, it's almost the same dominant setup with a Survival Hunter instead of a Warlock.
At this point I've memorized where all of the weird little ingredients are in Finklestein's lab, but now that I've started reading Flame Shock, a Shaman blog, I realize how silly I've been. I don't use a lot of mods, so I never think to look for mods for very small, very specific things like a single quest, but it turns out I really should have, just like when most everyone was using Ogri'Lazy and I was still typing "blue red red red green red yellow" in /say to myself.
The blogger behind Flame Shock lists two different addons that are worth checking out for this quest: EasySerum and a much less elegantly named "Finklestein daily serum quest helper." Flame Shock has pictures of both in action, with EasySerum listing the location of the item you need in your chatbox and the second mod putting a dot on your minimap, showing the item's location visually. Your days of needing to start the quest because you ran to the wrong side? Over!
A Gnome Death Knight appropriately named Nutshell from Mug'thol reported on the forums that he had completed the requirements for the upcoming AchievementInsane in the Membrane. The Achievement, to be implemented in Patch 3.1, requires a character to gain Exalted reputation with the Steamwheedle Cartel (Everlook, Booty Bay, Ratchet, and Gadgetzan), Darkmoon Faire, Ravenholdt, the Shen'dralar, and Honored with the Bloodsail Buccaneers. Unlocking this Achievement also rewards the fitting title 'the Insane', arguably one of the cooler titles in the new patch.
Most of the faction reputations listed aren't easy to grind, particularly the little known Ravenholdt faction in Hillsbrad Foothills. Most players who have been playing for years are unlikely to have considerable reputation with them nor the come-and-go Darkmoon Faire and the Dire Maul-based Shen'dralar. It's an impressive feat for any character, and even more impressive for a Death Knight -- Nutshell might possibly be the first one to complete it. Considering Loremaster Nutshell has 5870 Achievement points to date, it's probably not that surprising the player made the grind. To all of this, Bornakk simply responded, "you're insane."
In Saturday'sArcane Brilliance, I linked you to a Ghostcrawler post on the official forums in which he answered a good number of pressing Mage questions. Some of his answers were encouraging, some were vague, but all of them served to give a Mage community very concerned about its future a more enlightening look at Blizzard's development goals for our class than we've had in some time.
On the heels of that post comes this truly epic thread on the EU forums from Vaneras. He begins by reposting Ghostcrawler's earlier Q&A in its entirety. Five pages of Mage questions later, he presents us with no fewer than four more gigantic posts filled with more questions and developer answers (whether this is direct from Ghostcrawler or not isn't made clear).
This may be, quite frankly, more direct communication between the developers and Mages in one day than in the rest of the six months of Wrath's existence combined. I found a lot contained within that was encouraging. I found a few things that concerned me. Mostly, though, I'm just happy we're on speaking terms again. I was beginning to think that maybe all those things some of us said about "slaps in the face" and "re-rolling a Lock" and "quitting the game" had offended Blizzard, and they'd finally taken our number out of their phone and changed their Myspace status to "Stop calling me, Mages." My thoughts on this wealth of information after the jump.
Don't miss out on your chance to cook up the zaniest, most Blizzard-worthy idea of a theme park -- the deadline for submissions to Blizzard's Theme Park Contest is on March 30. Blizzard called on fanboys everywhere to submit their ideas for a theme park based on their properties, Diablo, StarCraft, and Warcraft, and anything from theme park maps to ride schematics to landscape pictures of the park are welcome. Selected entries will be shown during BlizzCon 2009.
The best entry incorporating all three properties will receive a Wacom Cintiq 12WX, along with the Echoes of War soundtrack and a pair of StarCraft II Beta keys. Three other winners with the best Diablo, StarCraft, or Warcraft themes will win Echoes of War and two StarCraft II Beta keys each. With just under five days to go, designer hopefuls should submit their designs soon! You never know, Blizzard just might make that theme park happen...
Registration for the 2009 Arena Tournament closed last Tuesday and the competition has now moved on to its third phase. Teams have been locked down, meaning existing teams may no longer add players to their roster. Players may continue to create new teams but will be unable to invite additional members beyond those that sign the original charter. Games played prior to the lockdown will still count towards the final tally that determines which teams advance to the next round.
This is the home stretch for players who wish to qualify for the next stage in the Arena Tournament, where the top 1000 teams will move on. Players looking to obtain Murkimus the Gladiator need to play 200 games between March 10 to April 6, while players aiming for the Vanquisher title need to get within the top 1,000 teams within the same time period. Currently, the 1,000th team on US Tournament Realms is hovering around 1,600 rating so finishing somewhere between 1,700-1,800 would probably be a safe bet for the title. Good luck to everyone!
As a member of the Rogue community, I do my best to stay abreast of the different topics of discussion. Every true Rogue's goal is to see the class excel in every area we attempt to conquer. By melding our collective brain power, we can come up with solutions for some of the problems and challenges facing us today.
Two concepts that I've seen discussed recently by both Aldriana (of Elitist Jerks / theorycrafting fame) and Akrios (of roguerogue.com) is the idea of skill, and our relationship with it. I define skill as the ability of a player to rapidly react to incoming stimuli, such as watching your opponents' cast bars. Skill is our ability to counter unknown actions quickly. However, it seems like it has been taking a back seat to RNG in WotLK so far.
WoW Insider streams from the PTR tonight - Wed, 25 Mar 2009 12:30:00 EST We're going to be heading out into the PTR tonight again to see what there is to see, and we're inviting you to come with us. Tonight at 9pm Eastern, we'll be streaming live video from the PTR over on our Ustream page, as well as chatting live with you and anyone else who stops by.
We're planning to check out the Argent Tournament first, and probably run through a few of the dailies there, though there's a VoA boss to test and we may get some PvP testing in as well. It should be a good time no matter what we end up doing.
You can see the stream over on Ustream, or just click through to the second half of this post, where we've placed an embedded stream for you to watch and chat with. We'll sign on to the server around 9pm Eastern (don't worry, you can DVR Lost -- we will be), and it'll go until we're done for the evening, whenever that is. See you there!
The production quality of DWMM is absolutely perfect for its scope. DWMM is basically a long series of gags, one liners, and sitcom-like comedy. It really is damned funny. In the opening of Episode 9, there's a boat floating in lava. It's a quick sight gag, but I laughed. And then one of the characters is shown fleeing a pack of squirrels, screaming "They're like furry raptors!" Funny stuff. The voice actors now do a great job, and I can't imagine changing anything about that.
But, having said that, some of the jokes are making me wince more and more. This episode takes place, largely, in a strip club called "Tigole Bitties." I thought that kind of thing was funny once, I guess, but not so much nowadays. The racial jokes, the boob jokes, and the whole objectification angle kind of makes this whole episode a guilty pleasure, at best. Now, I'm not trying to get into a rant about this stuff, because there's nothing I can say that would convince anyone of anything they don't already believe. But I will say, wincing over and over did detract from my enjoyment of the series, and I feel like that's happening more each episode.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com. Previously on Moviewatch ..
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.
Hi again, everyone! I may be covering The Queue for the rest of the week while Adam Holisky flees from a righteous flood. We usually trade off days, but he's kind of a wuss and can't take a little water, so I'll spare him the tragedy of needing to toddle through a puddle or whatever. pants asked...
"I know that they are taking away the proto-drakes for the raid achievements in 3.1, but will the title "Champion of the Frozen Wastes" be gone as well for it's respective achievement?"
Man, the Scourge of Zul'Drak are living the sweet life. First off, they've got Drakuru as a boss, who is possibly the most helpful and appreciative of all quest givers in the game. They've got a nicely decorated floating fortress to work in, and plenty of time off to pursue hobbies like torture and mayhem. Their benefits are great -- the company health plan means that you'll never die. And now Vienne of <Wacky Weasel Weekend> on Uther has learned that they don't even need mounts to fly, but can just swim on the air currents. I wish I'd known that when I blew that 5k gold on my braindead windrider.
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 email@example.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. 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.
A random pet macro for your noncombat buddies - Wed, 25 Mar 2009 09:00:00 EST This is pretty simple (I know there are a few versions floating around), and just a few minutes with the macro API will probably get you something just like this (or probably better), but if you, like Bornakk, have so many noncombat pets that you don't know what to do with them, this macro that a guildie gave me a while back might help. Plug this text into a macro, save it as "Critter" and throw it on your toolbar.
As you've probably surmised, it'll choose a random critter from your noncombat pets and bring it out for you to play with. As I said, this is super-simple -- you could add /dismount on to the front of this and use it as a one-stop "dismount and summon pet" macro, or I'm sure our commenters (who are much better at this macro stuff than I am) will have lots of other ways to play. We posted a more complicated one a while back, and you can still replace CRITTER with MOUNT, but this one's even easier than that.
But like Bornakk, I tend to collect way too many noncombat pets and I can never choose which is my favorite. A random macro like this helps pull out a friend I haven't seen lately.
I have to say that I'm enjoying the game now more than ever. There are a lot of things that keep me occupied, "ez-mode" notwithstanding. I think it works, and I don't feel like I have to make such a huge commitment to the game just to feel like I've accomplished anything. Patch 3.1 looks like it's shaping up to be an awesome content patch, and my guild is excited to take a crack at Ulduar and see how far and how fast we can go.
That said, not everything's perfect. I haven't played Arenas in quite a while, and apparently a lot of people haven't been queuing up, either. I do enjoy all the Battlegrounds, and I definitely try to get my daily (or several times daily) dose of Wintergrasp. But Wintergrasp still lags like a poor version of a Ray Harryhausen movie. As much as Blizzard has gotten a lot of things right in Wrath, I'm sure a lot of people feel that they've gotten things wrong, too. In fact, some of the things I like might be the exact same things some people don't like.
So far, what do you think is WoW's biggest mistake? Do you think opening up raiding to more people was bad? I know a lot of you will yell 'Arenas' at the top of their cyberspatial lungs. Were Death Knights a mistake? Frankly, I can't think of anything truly egregious -- I'm having a lot of fun like I mentioned -- but maybe some of you feel otherwise. Where has Blizzard taken a misstep? What direction do you think is wrong or would be wrong for the game?
This isn't guild drama, but what a move -- Kokor of Draka convinced a PuG to help him through a second run of Gun'drak just so he could ding level 80. And take a guess what he did as soon as he dinged -- yup, split off to Naxx, leaving the PuG, who'd just helped him level the last few points, in the lurch. The jerk store called, and they just ran out of Kokor.
More stories of drama in this week's Guildwatch below, including a prodigal son that isn't so welcome. Plus, we've got downed and recruiting news from around the realms -- if you want to know what the guilds are up to on your server, it's in here. And don't forget, send your tips on drama, downed and recruiting news to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you'll see them right here in the future.
(Almost) every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, the second half of the Cat Druids gear guide to get you closer to Wrath raiding.
Sorry for the wait on the second half. Better late than never, eh?
Ahem, moving on.
In part one, I covered Head, Neck, Shoulder, Back, Chest, Wrists and Weapon slots choices for gear available to pre-Wrath raiding level 80 Cat Druids. I also explained my methods, listed a recommended build and went over gems. Go read it on the initial post if you're interested. Otherwise, let's get this show on the road.
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.
Looking for a friendlier sort of advice for your Hunter? Make sure you're in range of Aspect of the Hare. Pike (aka Pikestaff, aka Tawyn of Silver Hand-US) not only fires off solid advice for Hunters (Heigan dancing lessons for your pet, anyone?) but also scattershots the kind of musings that remind you there are witty, interesting, adventurous, real people behind the 'toons your character plays with.
We caught up with a somewhat bashful Pike to chat about her WoW game and find out what makes Aspect of the Hare so welcoming to readers and fellow players.