And Robin was right -- these have a ton of caffeine in them. ThinkGeek says there's 160mg of caffeine in each bottle. That's not exactly lethal, of course (the lethal dose is about 150mg per kg of body mass), but finishing off a six pack of these over a weekend of gaming will not be good for us. Still, if you want them after all that, there you go.
This week on Encrypted Text is the first part in a small mini-series of articles that should serve as a guide for any up and coming rogues looking to start raiding. I will cover a few of the more raid-friendly specs, talk about their strengths and weaknesses, the hit and expertise caps, and the type of gear you should be looking for.
Combat vs. Assassination and Subtlety I'll be the first to admit that many Combat heavy builds, especially Combat daggers (which I was for a long time while raiding), are not inherently fun to play.
Reminder: Guess when Patch 2.4 goes live, win free WoW - Wed, 27 Feb 2008 17:01:00 EST Don't forget that we're asking for your guesses on when patch 2.4 will hit the live realms. To enter our contest, just head over to the original post (don't leave a comment on this post, because you can't) and leave a comment with your guess of when the patch will go live using the XX/XX date format (as in, 03/12 for a guess of March 12th).
Personally, I think it will be during March, but later, so Adam's mathematical guess of March 25th is pretty good. Then again, I always predict things to come later than they do, so knowing Blizzard, they might drop it earlier in March. But your actual guess is up to you, of course.
Enter your comment on that post (not this one) before March 3rd, and be a US resident and 18 years of age or older to enter to win a game card if you pick the correct date (or are closest, or are one of four random people who picked the date, if there are more than four). Good luck everybody, and we'll find out the winner when Blizzard finally drops the new content patch!
For the first time in a very long time , we are getting a brand-new non-transfer realm, open to create characters on and explore its untouched reaches. As a non-transfer realm, character transfers to it are disabled for six months. I believe this is the first such realm since Burning Crusade launched, though we did get a new transfer realm at the end of last month. The realm is called Cairne, and it's a PvE realm, in Central time, in the Emberstorm battlegroup. Reroll locusts, start your engines.
Do you need a new beginning? It's kind of tempting to go roll on a realm where nobody's been out of the noob zones yet, where the Dark Portal has yet to be traversed by players and everything is ripe for the conquering. But then again, it's also nice to be on a realm with a mature economy and people I know, so I will probably not be rushing out to Cairne myself. I know, however, that many of you have been clamoring for a new realm for some time -- go to it.
Update: Bornakk adds that there are no plans for new PvP realms, "as there are several low population PvP realms you can transfer or re-roll on right now."
Europe joins in the free move fun - Wed, 27 Feb 2008 16:00:00 EST To go along with the set of free North American character transfers that started yesterday, Blizzard Europe has seen fit to open the following free character transfers:
The transfers are scheduled to be active from today until next Tuesday, March 4, although the standard disclaimer applies that the transfers may be shut down early if the desired population levels are reached.
Since Blizz bases their transfer decision off of their stats for what realms need it most, this should be the appropriate set of servers, but I'll ask you anyway: if you're on one of the "from" servers, are you overcrowded now? If you're on one of the "to" servers, are you glad to have some new company coming? And if you're on another server altogether, do you need some transfer loving? Sound off in the comments.
PTRs going down for another new push - Wed, 27 Feb 2008 15:10:00 EST The public test realms have really been going offline a lot over the past week or so. Though it seems like they just came back up, and we don't even know what the current changes are, aside from a Shaman de-nerf, they're going down again, as of a few minutes ago (noon PST). Hortus merely says the downtime is "to apply a new build," and the patch notes still haven't been updated, so I can't tell you what's coming, although tipster Khanmora's guess that we may see the promised Life Tap modifications is one that I share. The downtime is expected to be between four and six hours.
Built-in threat meter coming in future patch - Wed, 27 Feb 2008 15:00:00 EST As time moves forward, so does WoW's built-in interface. Last patch we got some big additions in voice chat and guild banks (alright, that's not quite interface, but it's not quite gameplay either), as well as cursors and tracking for various types of objects and NPCs. There's not much in terms of interface news in patch 2.4, but Nethaera has just confirmed that a future patch will bring a big new feature: threat meters. (We first heard about this back at Blizzcon.)
Required by many raid groups, two big threat meter add-ons have been available for a while: KLHThreatMeter (a.k.a. KTM) and Omen Threat Meter. They both work very well (and Omen's new version is going to have some shiny new features), but they share a flaw: they don't have direct access to the game's threat info, relying instead on databases of clever deductions and discoveries painstakingly built up over months. This means whenever a new patch comes out, the developers have to figure out what, if anything, has changed in terms of threat numbers, and how much. Presumably, Blizzard's threat meter will have direct access to the numbers. And hopefully when the threat meter is added to the game there will me methods added to the API for accessing the numbers, so KTM and Omen can become even better alongside the new official meter.
But it does serve as a reminder that no matter how bad some PTR nerfs may seem, nothing is finalized until it hits the live realms. The Test Realm is for testing, so we shouldn't be surprised when Blizzard does exactly that with it.
Wealthy elves I have known - Wed, 27 Feb 2008 14:00:00 EST It's probably true that the best way to make money in the game is to farm primals, but sometimes you just can't stomach the idea of killing yet another elemental or -- given how busy most of the primal hot-spots are -- having to compete to kill them. It's in trying times like these that your thoughts turn to quieter pursuits like flower-picking, finishing some quests you left lying around, or at least taking your mindless slaughter act on the road.
For my money, nothing beats the manaforges in Netherstorm. The elves there are like hundreds of milling, unsuspecting piñatas, ripe for the clobbering. Over an hourlong grind session with not-terrible gear, and with occasional breaks to tell people that you will never set foot in Shattered Halls ever again even if it is the daily, you can get the following:
Grand Prize Winner: "Spectral Tiger loot card" from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, and one World of Warcraft TCG Expansion, "March of the Legion," booster box.
Second Prize: "Robotic Homing Chicken Loot Card," from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, and oneWorld of Warcraft TCG Expansion, "March of the Legion," booster box.
Three Runner's Up WinnersWorld of Warcraft TCG Expansion, "March of the Legion," booster box.
You don't have to play the card game to win. In order to enter all you have to do is submit an exciting screenshot of your character. Only submissions that include a chat bubble that says "Safari" will be accepted into the contest.Judges will be looking for high-quality, unmodified screenshots.Blizzard reminds you to "Use all the elements you can to give some spice to your pictures: landscape, monsters, other players, etc."
Why do you want a TCG card?The Spectral Tiger loot card has a code that translates into a rare in-game mount.The deadline for submission is 12:00 PM on March 5th.Check out Blizzard's official contest page for further information.
Before Telemora went on to make his Warcraftmovies recommended The Luckiest, he created a little music video, We Will Rock You. He finished the film way back in March 2006, but it just reached over one million views on YouTube yesterday! The video is part music video, part battle, but all rock and roll.
By today's standards, this might not be considered a spectacular machinima, but back then, it was chock full of special effects, color correction, and transitions, in a time when not so many were doing that. Telemora went on to be one of the higher ranked WCM contributors, however hasn't released anything since last year, which is a shame. If you'd like to watch a higher quality stream, check out the version on WeGame.
Regular Paladin columnist Elizabeth was crit by an insane amount of work at, well, work and her co-columnist Chris is away completing his own epic quest, so like those duplicitous Blood Elves, I'll be stealing the Light for this week and swinging it around. Since most of the stuff I write on the site concern the one thing I really like to do -- PvP -- I think I'll get into character and write about something that some people find taboo... Retribution PvP. After writing about a few rules on healing in PvP, let's indulge ourselves with a little retributive mayhem. Despite being the most ridiculed spec in the entire game, Retribution can be a lot of fun -- and painful for your opponents -- once you get some fundamentals down pat.
Step one: gear up If you are at all interested in PvP as a Retribution Paladin, you must get geared up. There are no two ways about this. Unless you have the proper gear, you will simply not perform as well as similarly-geared classes and your PvP experience will be diminished greatly. Retribution is one of the most equipment-dependent specs in the game, and you will feel it in PvP. Chris has written an excellent starterguide for all aspiring Ret Pallies, which is an excellent read for learning about the perfect Retribution gear. In order to do some PvP, we'll then need to take the next step and go beyond what Chris suggested and aim much higher as far as at least one piece of equipment is concerned -- your weapon.
We've all come across two-headed ogres, but Kodosoul of the Cowboys from Hell guild on the Burning Blade server may have found the next mutation. Either that or Escher art via Azeroth.
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 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. 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.
Twice a week, our writers will tell you more about themselves, and let you get to know them and the characters they play a little better. Click here to read moreAbout the Bloggers. This week features one of our "semi-alumni" bloggers, Krystalle. (She's the short one with the pink hair above -- the rest of the above folks would be some of her many guild-mates.) What do you do for WoW Insider? These days? Some back-end smacktalking helping out where you guys don't see it. I tend to float in and out giving a hand when things are quiet, and am bringing back both Reader UI and Reader WoWspace. Before I landed my current spot as one of the leads on Massively, I was a blogger here, Guild Leader & event coordinator for It Came from the Blog. I had a lot of great times with the WoW Insider readers both there and at Dragon*Con 2007, where I got to co-host several panels with Elizabeth Harper and several other great folks. (And for anyone curious, we're doing it again at Dragon*Con this year too!)
What's your main right now? She's a L70 sword-specced Troll Rogue who I primarily just raid on these days. I also have a L42 Rogue that I'm bringing up, just to see how the other (dagger) side lives. Well, that and because I can't break away from the Rogues. I just love them too much.
WoW quests seem to be pretty formulaic."Bring me some number of this item or kill that number of mobs." I guess there only so many types of quests that the developers can make. In order to ensure that you get enough experience from some quests, they assign a ridiculously low drop rate.Sometimes I think there are sensors in the keyboard that measure one's level of the frustration by how hard you hit the keys. Once you reach a certain threshold, the item drops. I'm probably wrong about that.
Got more insider guild jargon for us? If so, send them (and all your other guild news tips, anonymous as always) to email@example.com, and click the link below to see this week's Guildwatch, chock full of drama, downed, and recruiting news.
John's previously covered a number of the changes you can expect to see in the upcoming patch 2.4, but more recently we're heard of changes to the feral talent Nurturing Instinct. Currently the talent increases healing spells by up to 50% of your Strength. It's not such a bad bonus, but you'd be a rare feral indeed if you found a lot of leather gear with +Strength on it outside of the tier or arena sets. The vast majority of ferals continue to use specialized pieces like the Heavy Clefthoof set for bear tanking and mostly rogue gear for cat dps. Either way, the talent was of considerably less use than it might have been if more pieces like the Shadowprowler's Chestguard existed ingame (although the addition of badge gear has made it possible, albeit time-consuming, to get leather with "Druid stats"). Moreover, with the change to the Heart of the Wild talent in patch 2.3 (altering the full talent from a 20% increase to your Strength in cat form to a 10% increase to your AP in cat form), Strength became less important than ever. Take a tour through Emmerald's feral gear guide (updated to include 2.3 badge gear and - I hope - soon to be updated to include 2.4 badge gear) and you'll find that most of the best cat pieces are rogue leather with a ton of Agility.
Blizzard must have recognized that it didn't make much sense to keep Nurturing Instinct the way it was, so the talent has now been changed to increase your healing spells by 50%/100% of your Agility, and healing done to you by 10/20% of your AP in cat form. There still seems to be some confusion over how this change will play out, but the official PTR patch notes still say it's 10/20% of your AP in cat. While this will obviously depend a lot on how much attack power you're packing, this could be a considerable buff to your healing taken in cat form (approaching and, with AP increases, probably exceeding the average additional healing by a warlock's Fel Armor). Fully talented, this could mean an extra +400 healing done to you assuming you're at the druid boards' minimum standards of 2,000 AP and 30% crit in cat form for entry to Karazhan.
Still, Nurturing Instinct is problematic. Not because it's bad, exactly, but because it's one of those troublesome talents rife among hybrid talent trees that force you to ask what you really want to be playing that character for.
Special maintance for some realms tomorrow - Tue, 26 Feb 2008 20:30:00 EST Because Blizzard loves you so much, the following realms will get a brief, exclusive maintenance period tomorrow morning, February 26 27, from 5:00 AM PST to about 6:15 AM PST: Agamaggan Azshara Baelgun Dark Iron Detheroc Emerald Dream Greymane Kalecgos Lightninghoof Maelstrom Malfurion Moonrunner Nazjatar Sargeras Staghelm Twisting Nether Ursin Wildhammer
Prepare your emergency Caturday festivities. Or you could always visit another realm or the PTR, or make some breakfast. May I suggest these popovers? They are easy and delicious. If you start them when the realms go down, they should be ready to pull out of the oven for fresh play-snacking when the realms come back up.
Every Tuesday, Chris Jahosky contributes Build Shop, which takes a look into one of the many talent specs available to players.
This week's build comes to you courtesy of reader James (who put this together anticipating the changes to the Fury tree coming in 2.4), so today I'm going to dissect his build. Fury heavy builds are quite strong and very popular for PvE encounters through the end game (the most famous perhaps being a variant of 17/44, sometimes called a RiP (Rogue in Plate), which is desirable for the high damage output).
However, this kind of hybrid build has started to see more use in other areas. While not as effective as a RiP build in PvE, these hybrid builds often pick up a weapon specialization from the Arms tree in addition to some utility talents, making them more adaptable in PvP and solo play. James' build is 28/33, and seems to be based off of the standard Fury/Weapon Spec build of 26/35. They have a good bit of variation, though -- James' focus seems to be on PvP, with talents like Iron Will and Improved Intercept, whereas the standard build focuses on damage output.
After the break, I'm diving into my thoughts on the build, but make sure to share your experience and suggestions with James in the comments!
At first glance, I didn't really think there was much out of the ordinary about a post made by one of Nihilum's resto Shaman, Neg. A number of raiding guilds have complained strenuously about the presence of easy-to-obtain epics in the game, but any post entitled, "Does Blizzard Hate Raiders?" is typically going to get a scoff and little else.
I had read the article shortly before zoning into Black Temple for the third time ever, and for the first time with the ingame sound on. My guild had recently killed both High Warlord Naj'entus and Supremus, and while the Karabor Sewers portion of the instance is interesting to look at, it pales in comparison to what you'll see once you're offered a teleport to a different floor by a member of the Ashtongue Deathsworn. My guildies and I were really just there to farm Hearts of Darkness for resist gear and to explore a little bit, with nothing really important on our minds. Nevertheless, what we saw that night was beautiful. The floor you're ported to has a tiny, friendly area with the Ashtongue Quartermaster, but beyond that lie a number of sinister things. The ceiling is pillared by giant statues much like those that guard the portal into Outland, and rogues lurk in pairs seemingly all around you. Not infrequently you find yourself turning around to shouts on vent to see them rapidly killing off members of the raid; we finally hit upon the strategy of sending our own rogues off to sniff out the presence of danger while the raid itself was ringed and guarded on all sides by the tanks. Once another set of rogues was found, our hunters set up Flares to flush them out of hiding, marked them, and pulled carefully. You were only really safe if you were in the middle portion of the raid; wandering off to go explore on your own was unthinkable.
The music is lovely, the atmosphere is stellar, and for the first time ever in a raid I felt the real sense of a dangerous place with violent, unpredictable creatures that didn't want us there. It was one of the few times that we've actually had to use real strategy as a raid outside of a boss fight. Black Temple makes it abundantly obvious that you are a small, embattled group struggling to survive against overwhelming odds. Most raids are pretty straightforward - learn the tricks to the trash, pull the trash, clear the trash, ask "What's the respawn timer?", and then kill the boss. Tempest Keep is a pretty cold and sterile environment; Serpentshrine Cavern is more interesting visually but the trash is, in many cases, just pull after pull after pull of the exact same stuff (weirdly enough, Karazhan and Zul'Aman seem to come a little closer to the Black Temple raid mentality than their Tier 5 brothers). But there is so much obvious care and attention lavished on the endgame raids, I said to myself (while taking tons of screenshots and turning the sound up), that I just don't buy the argument that Blizzard doesn't give a hoot about raiders.
But Neg isn't really writing about the conflict between raiders and the rest of us, which has been a pretty thoroughly discussed in one form or another. It's his contention that the raiding world - what I saw on Thursday and what Nihilum practically does professionally - is becoming obsolete in this, the Age of Purple.