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Battle of the Bots: The clamor, commotion, and cogwheels of combat toys - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 20:00:00 EST

The mind of the Engineer is an engine: always running, always in need of service. For the quizzical tinker, puzzles and games are the lubrication of that engine, allowing the Engineer to relax the gears in his head while employing their ceaseless motion upon diversions, that the mind's mainspring might be fully wound and its cogs sheened with oil when again the Engineer returns to the bench. Also, we like playing with toys.

As is often the case, Engineering's innovations in the field of toymakery and diversionology set us ahead of our counterparts in less distinguished professional fields. Herein, we will discuss two of Engineering's least appreciated and most rarefied devices: the combat robots.

There are two models of robot made by the Engineer whose sole purpose is the eradication of others of their kind. The Crashin' Thrashin' Robot and the Steam Tonk Controller are both popular choices, for those able to produce them. The Crashin' Thrashin' Robot operates on its own internal Decisionometer, so the Engineer has no capacity to control it. The Steam Tonk, however, is a tribute to the mastery not only of the crafter, but the skill of the Tonkateer who operates it.

Continue reading Battle of the Bots: The clamor, commotion, and cogwheels of combat toys

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World of WarCrafts: What would Thrall sleep in? - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 19:36:00 EST
Even a Warchief has to sleep sometimes but his bedding has to be totally awesome for him to do so. I think that these sheets and blankets would certainly fit that bill and make even the mighty Thrall sleep well at night. Made by a girlfriend of a WoWer these sheets are any Hordey's dream. (Get it...dream, sheets?)

To make your own Horde sheet all you need are some acrylic or fabric paints, plain sheets a stencil you can make yourself and a sponge or sponge brush. Assuming you can find or create a picture of the Horde logo (is it called a logo?) you can pretty easily print out a template. There are some tips on making your own stencil later on in the comments.

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The perils of progressive testing - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 19:04:00 EST
After Skellum of Dalaran posts on the forums asking just where all these PTR changes are coming from, Nethaera sobers us all up about what the PTR is all about: progressive testing. She says that Blizzard has said from the beginning that there will be changes in the notes, and that things we thought were the end of the world in the beginning have changed or been completely removed. Welcome to the perilous world of progressive testing.

And it occurs to me that I've broken my own rule about patience on the PTRs. When those Shaman notes dropped with only a Stormstrike icon, it didn't occur to me (or almost any other players) that Blizzard wasn't done yet. And while the latest changes still aren't done (we're still waiting for an Elemental buff), things have been fixed somewhat since then.

But is this really just players doubting Blizzard? They posted the patch notes with just one small disclaimer -- would they have been able to quell the furor a bit more if they'd made it more clear that what's posted on the PTR notes has almost no connection to what will show up on the live realms? But then again, Neth never really answered the question of where these changes are coming from -- if Shamans hadn't QQ'd so much over the Elemental Mastery and Nature's Swiftness nerf, would it ever have been reverted? Blizzard seems to be simultaneously telling players to be patient and also give feedback. If players had been patient when the EM and NS nerf came down, and it hadn't caused such an uproar, would it have been changed back at all?

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Forum Post of the Day: Pray for the warlocks - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 18:30:00 EST


Sure, QQing can get old after a while, but as long as you do it creatively, a good whine is always welcomed. That's why this forum thread, offering up prayers in many religions for Warlocks after their troubles with Lifetap, is so funny. Yeah, it's Warlocks whining -- they've been doing that for a long time. But it's Warlocks whining in a creative and interesting way, so that makes it much better.

Who knows what deity might encourage Blizzard to lift the nerfs for good and bless us all with buffs aplenty? We don't know it's Jesus, St. St. Maximilian Mary Kolber (the patron saint of addicts), Jebus, Thor, Sargeras (for the Legion!), or Buddha, pretty much the only recourse left to save your class from debilitating nerfs is just to pray (or meditate, if you'd rather do that) as hard as you can.

Thanks, rjvv!

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Totem Talk: PTR changes - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 18:00:00 EST


Totem Talk is about Shamans. Matthew Rossi would just like to say "What the heck, did we just get buffed, did I miss a meeting where they decided that shamans get buffed now, holy Puck!" Puck is Matthew Rossi's cat. Yes, he named one of his cat's Puck and the other Aurora. Eventually he supposes he will have a whole host of pets named after members of Alpha Flight. You'll notice they have a team member named Shaman.

If you managed to miss yesterday's post about changes to the PTR, let me link back to it. Okay, now that I've done that, let me shamelessly copy and paste the pertinent information. (My apologies, Eliah.)

  • Flametongue weapon puts a 50% healing reduction on the target for 5 seconds, refreshing with every hit.
  • Toughness: each point in the talent now reduces the duration of movement-impairing effects by 10%, in addition to the previous effect of increasing armor. This means 50% reduced duration at 5/5.
  • Shamanistic Rage changed; now reduces all damage taken by 30% and gives a chance to regenerate mana equal to 30% [was 15%] of your AP. Lasts 15 s [was 30 s].
  • Global cooldown on dropping totems reduced from 1.5 s to 1 s.
Okay, now take a look at that. The first thing that jumps out at me is that Flametongue buff. Now, I play both a shaman and a warrior. So speaking as a warrior, I'll tell you now that's going to be nerfed - there is no way on this planet that there is going to be a five second duration healing debuff that costs minimal mana to apply to your weapon and which can be constantly refreshed with no additional cost. Especially when it doesn't require any specialization or talent selection: if this went live, all shamans could apply this debuff. (Granted, elemental and restoration shaman don't want to melee with you.) As a shaman, I don't think it's enormously imbalanced, but I doubt highly that it will stand as it is now. Still, it made me go ooh when I saw it. (The warrior in me also kind of wants it to stick around so that MS won't get nerfed.) It also made me giggle to imagine my poor resto shaman running up to whack someone with his Hand of Eternity to apply the debuff. (Also, according to some folks, it's currently bugged in an amusing fashion.) Apparently it also works for Flametongue Totem.

Obviously the flametongue change is aimed at arenas and other PvP venues. But what about the rest of the changes? Are they good or bad and who are they good or bad for?

Continue reading Totem Talk: PTR changes

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My pipe dream - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 17:30:00 EST
I'm one of those odd players who likes to play multiples of the same class. I've got a tauren, human, night elf and draenei warriors at 70 and to be honest, my human currently way out-gears them all. Not only does he sport T4/T5 level gear for tanking, his DPS gear is also at that level even though I rarely DPS with him. Now, this isn't a problem, exactly. It's not that I dislike having good gear for the content.

It's that I hate playing my human.

When I first started playing World of Warcraft, I started a paladin, and then switched quickly to this warrior. I've been playing him on and off ever since, he's got close to 170 days played on him. I've come up with a personality for him (I wouldn't actually say I roleplay him so much as I emphasize my curmudegonly side when I play him... I like to roleplay, mind, but I don't really put enough effort into it) but while he's got a lot of sentimental attachment for me, his major flaw is that he's a human, and Blizzard gave humans the dumbest emotes and /silly jokes in the game.

Well, okay, a couple of towers is funny. But the rest really just doesn't work for me anymore after having played the other options. In fact, what I really want to do is play my 70 draenei warrior instead. The problem there is, while he's on the same server, he's nowhere near as well geared for the content my guild is doing, and it's hardly fair to ask them to gear up another warrior for me.

Yes, I realize this is a really minor problem. But since WotLK is promising us more cutomization in the form of dances and haircuts, my pipe dream is that they'd allow me to either pay to transfer my soulbound equipment between my level 70 toons or allow me to pay a similar fee to a server transfer to change my race. I know there are PvE and PvP balance issues to be considered here, and I got myself into this situation by playing all these characters to 70, so I don't ever expect to see it happen. But man, I'd really like it if it did.

What about you? What one ridiculous, you know it's never going to happen but you can't stop wishing it would dream do you hold dear for the game?

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What's new in Blizzcast 2? - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 17:00:00 EST
As I mentioned a little while ago, episode two of Blizzcast was released today. It features interviews with Chris Metzen and Geoff Goodman, the second of whom was a new name to me. You can go download or listen to it, or read the transcript, at Blizzard's site, but if you don't feel like it, or can't, here's a highlights version for you.

Chris Metzen talks about story stuff, since that's what his job is: vice president of creative development. What does he have to say about WoW?

  • Not that this should surprise anyone, but the story team is "looking forward to future expansions".
  • The original WoW was basically a snapshot, story-wise, with not much in the way of dynamic content. The expansions get more back to linear stories.
  • We'll see themes in Wrath of the Lich King like Titans, the creation of the world, the dragon flights, and why Azeroth is so central to the events of this universe.
Geoff Goodman was on mostly to be interviewed about Magtheridon, by my favorite illuminating CM, Nethaera. Here's what I found interesting in his segment:

Continue reading What's new in Blizzcast 2?

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Mortal Strike for all! - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 16:30:00 EST

In the wake of the most recent PTR change to Flametongue Weapon applying a -50% healing debuff over 5 seconds and -- it now appears -- the Flametongue totem itself doing the same for others' melee attacks, a number of forum threads have popped up questioning the increasing number of these debuffs in the game. The funniest asks, "Is there some sort of Mortal Strike non-proliferation treaty that stops me from having Mortal Strike on my priest?" (short of Hex of Weakness, I guess). Suggestions include an MS effect on Crusader Strike, "MORTAL SHEEEEEEEEP!", and "Mortal Portal" for mages.

The best argument I've seen is not that Mortal Strike or MS-like effects like Aimed Shot are themselves imbalanced, but they're bound to seem that way if healing is overpowered in PvP. Healing per second is nearly always more efficient than damage per second if you're specced for it, although that's cold comfort to yours truly while resto-specced and under heavy fire in battlegrounds or arena. Nobody knows if the newest version of MS is really going to help Shamans in arena, but between this and the nerf to drinking, it does look more and more as if PvP is increasingly being balanced around the notion of healers staying exposed (and vulnerable) for longer.

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About the Bloggers: Lisa Poisso - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 16:00:00 EST


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 more About the Bloggers.

What do you do for WoW Insider?
I'm the writer behind Insider Trader (although as of this week, I'm inside trading it to the capable Amanda Miller), 15 Minutes of Fame, Gamers on the Street and the occasional Well Fed Buff. Behind the scenes, I'm features editor for the Joystiq MMOs, which means keeping an eagle eye on MMO nooks and crannies for offbeat stories, special series, fresh column ideas - all the chewy goodness that keeps WoW Insider and Massively readers munching on stories in between the latest news bulletins.

What's your main right now?
A handful of guildies and I recently restarted on a new server with characters specifically designed for world PvP. I tried my best to start a class I was less used to playing, but I quickly found myself back in the groove as an undead priest. I've unexpectedly remained shadow specced the whole way, and I love the view from the shadows. (And so do all the guildies who have look at me in my Outlands clown gear - Shadowform lends the outfit an aura of chic style).

Continue reading About the Bloggers: Lisa Poisso

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PTR Notes: Patch note watch 2/28 - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 15:30:00 EST
As Matt Rossi is analyzing in more detail, the attunement requirement for Karazhan has been removed, although at least one person in the raid does need to have the key to get in the door. How do we know? New patch notes.

Here, in full, is everything that's changed in the latest iteration of Blizzard's official test realm patch notes, brought to you, as always, by the power of diff. Much of this has been covered on WoW Insider already, because Blizzard is slow to update the patch notes; the stuff that looks new to me is in bold (which in this particular case is only that the new Mortal Strike-esque effect on Flametongue Weapon applies to Flametongue Totem as well).

  • Removed: "The benefits of drinking out of combat have been delayed. It will now take five seconds before the full benefit of the mana regeneration will come into effect." (now restricted to arenas only)
  • [Druid] Lifebloom will no longer cause error messages when interacting with Spellsteal or while the Druid is under the effects of a Mind Control.
  • Mage
    • Improved Blink: This talent no longer reduces the mana cost of Blink. Instead, it increases the chance for all attacks to miss the Mage by 25% for 2/4 sec after Blink is cast.
    • Icy Veins no longer stacks with Power Infusion (as well as Bloodlust/Heroism from the last patch notes)
    • Mana Shield: This spell will now get a percentage of the Mage's bonus to spell damage as an additional effect.

Continue reading PTR Notes: Patch note watch 2/28

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No more attunement for Karazhan? - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 15:15:00 EST
That's what the fine folks at MMO Champion are telling us, anway - on the PTR, the attunement process for Karazhan has been removed. Or more accurately, altered... in order to get into Kara, one person in the party has to have the Master's Key, making Karazhan more like Upper Blackrock Spire.

The attunement process to date isn't horribly restrictive... run Shadow Labs, Arcatraz, Steam Vaults and then Black Morass with the proper quests and bang, you're keyed. I can see this coming in handy for newly 70 alts or guilds who are trying to run up to Karazhan at the same time, and it's clearly part of the process of opening up content that we saw when SSC and TK were opened up, or that we will see with Hyjal and the Black Temple in patch 2.4 as well.

On the other hand, is this just going to lead to groups running Kara without much grouping experience and then complaining when they have to start coordinating to run it? I'm not personally worried about that, but I try and anticipate these things. Eyonix comments on a thread discussing it that it wasn't about difficulty, but rather accessibility.

With Kara opening up like this, will we see more people pushing through to Sunwell faster? Is the patch signaling that Wrath of the Lich King may be closer than we think?

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Scattered Shots: Threat management - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 15:00:00 EST
Last week David discussed finding and training your pet. This is a great time to start practicing threat management. When you attack a target in a group, your target will be threatened to varying degrees by everyone in the group. This becomes really important later in your career, when you will more often be facing targets in instances, or larger targets which require a full group to kill. Take advantage of the early levels of Hunter to practice threat management, and bring more to those groups than they might be expecting.

Most classes have to group with someone before they ever have a chance to think about, much less practice, threat management. But we have a built in tank: our pet. We can practice this as clumsily as we need to, dying as often as we have to, all without an audience to mock us. Your pet'll never mock you. He's your best friend! Just don't ask what he tells the other pets when you're not listening.

I'll be discussing "threat," also known as "aggro" or "hate" depending on the group. All of these words refer to one thing: how mad the target is at you and all your allies. Lots of things can cause threat to rise, such as standing within a mob's range, smacking a mob with a gigantic slab of marble, or even healing a party member who is in the process of doing either of those things. Lots of things can also cause threat to drop, such as being feared, being polymorphed, or being killed. Understanding a little about how to manage your own threat will help you prevent that last option from happening to you or your party members.

Continue reading Scattered Shots: Threat management

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Blizzcast episode 2 now out - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 14:48:00 EST


The second episode of Blizzcast, Blizzard's official podcast, has just been released. This one is double the length of the previous installment, at just over 49 minutes. Interviewees are Chris Metzen, VP of creative development, as well as WoW designer Geoff Goodman. The interviews are followed by a reader question-and-answer segment. You can see our coverage of the first episode in case you've forgotten what happened last time, and if you need some more WoW podcast goodness, why not check out our own WoW Insider show?

Another post is forthcoming as soon as I get a chance to analyze what's revealed in this episode; I just wanted to get this news out as quick as possible.

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Activison faces lawsuit, says MMO market is "insurmountable" - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 14:30:00 EST
Two bits of news about soon to-be-Blizzard's-overlords Activision: first, a group of investors are apparently planning to sue Activision about the whole merger thing, apparently saying that Activision didn't do enough to cash in on the deal. They're complaining that in the deal with Vivendi (Blizzard's owners), Activision settled for an "unfavorable minority poisition." The company hasn't responded yet, but if this lawsuit goes forward, we could find out a whole lot more about the exact terms of the deal between the two companies.

And for their own part, Activision is thrilled to be in the business of Warcraft: Activision CEO Bobby Kotick sees MMOs as an "insurmountable product category," and says that if they were competing with WoW, they'd have to toss at least half a billion to a billion dollars into the deal, and even then they wouldn't be guaranteed success. Which means that at this time, in this market, Kotick says that companies entering into the MMO market are basically throwing money away.

Can't say we're surprised that the CEO of the company that now owns WoW says it's unbeatable, but as you know by now, EA and Funcom (Warhammer Online and Age of Conan's publishers, respectively) surely disagree. We should see who's right by the end of the year.

[Via Incgamers]

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Well Fed Buff: Savory Deviate Delight - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 14:00:00 EST
Every Thursday, Well Fed Buff will be serving up the tastiest dishes to boost your HP and stats, just in time for your weekend gaming.

Hands down, the best recipe in all of World of Warcraft is Savory Deviate Delight. I will hear no arguments or opinions on this. I decided to try making it for dinner. I don't know what happened. All of a sudden there was a loud "Yaaarrr!" And my friend turned into a pirate in a puff of smoke. It was absolutely incredible. Your results may vary.

Savory Deviate Delight is always in demand. It can turn players into a Human pirate or a ninja for an hour. It doesn't really benefit the player in anyway, but who wouldn't want to be a pirate or a ninja. The Savory Deviate Delight Recipe randomly drops in the Barrens. The materials for the in-game version are Deviate Fish which can be caught in pools in the Barrens Oases and Mild Spices which can be purchased from cooking and trade vendors. Wowhead lists auction house buyout prices of 36 gold for the recipe and 63 silver for the individual consumables.

The real-life version is somewhat more complicated than the in-game rendition. Read on for my Savory Deviate Delight recipe. Get it while it's hot!

Continue reading Well Fed Buff: Savory Deviate Delight

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New Flametongue bugged - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 13:30:00 EST


As predicted, Enhancement Shamans got some nice buffs yesterday, including the addition of a Mortal Strike-like effect of reduced healing to the Flametongue weapon.

But the weapon hasn't quite had the desired effect yet on the PTR. In fact, as World of Raids has posted, it actually does exactly the opposite. As you can see above, Flametongue is actually adding to heals on the target of the attack, not halving them as its now meant to. No doubt this will be fixed before long, but a note to whoever's working on the Shaman class on the PTR: you should have used that minus sign in the code there, not the plus one.

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Addon Spotlight: Bagnon - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 13:00:00 EST


Many of you may be familiar with EngBags and Tbag, two addons that sort and organize your bag space for you. These are great little programs that can keep your inventory squeaky clean, but what about something for those of us who just want one bag frame without sorting and with little configuration out of the box?

Fear not, my friends, Bagnon is here to solve your dilemma. It has been mentioned by WoW Insider before, and many believed it had fallen through the cracks into obscurity. Given your newfound hope for something simple yet elegant, I'll move right into its features and options.

Continue reading Addon Spotlight: Bagnon

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WoW Moviewatch: Gametrotting machinima documentary - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 12:00:00 EST

Lifeskool highlighted machinima as part of their Gametrotting series last year. According to Jun Falkenstein, of Stone Falcon Productions, those interviewed were asked to speak to the audience as if they'd never heard of this emerging medium. While most coverage of gaming and machinima tends to miss the mark, I found this documentary to be humorous and quite informative.

Some of the juicy morsels of this short doc include commentary by Philip Debevoise, of Machinima.com, and machinima from a variety of different platforms. World of Warcraft is discussed pretty heavily in the documentary, showcasing clips from Snacky's Journal, WoW 300, the South Park WoW episode.

[Via Jun Falkenstein]

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Know Your Lore: Oshu'gun - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 11:00:00 EST


Oshu'gun, the largest known diamond in the universe, means many things to many people. To the ethereals of the Consortium, Oshu'gun means profit. To the Orcs of old, it was holy ground. To the Draenei and the Naaru, Oshu'gun is a transdimensional spaceship that was used to save a dying race from their doomed homeworld which had been overrun by demons. Sweet.

We all know, or should know, the story of the Draenei by now. It's been beaten into our heads in many different ways in the World of Warcraft. If you don't know the story, let me sum it up for you: About 25,000 years ago, Velen, Archimonde, and Kil'jaeden were the top cats of a race called the Eredar. Sargeras approached them with promises of power and whatever else, with a hidden malicious intent. Archimonde and Kil'jaeden jumped on it, but Velen, being a prophet, had bad feelings about the arrangement. He and those loyal to him avoided falling into the grasp of the Destroyer of Worlds until a savior(...sort of) in the form of K'ure came along. K'ure explained the nature of the Naaru to the Prophet, and Velen gathered the Eredar loyal to him. They loaded up into a ship(later named Oshu'gun by the orcs) and escaped Argus, taking the name "draenei" meaning "exiled ones" in the language of the Eredar.

They rocketed around space for awhile, all was good. Then they crashed on some random planet. That's okay though, it was a pretty cool planet so they decided to name it after themselves. They named it 'Draenor' which translates to "Exile's Refuge." It beats me how 'or' means 'refuge' but who am I to question galactic fantasy languages? When Oshu'gun crashed, the Naaru that dwelled within and powered the vessel were severely damaged or outright killed. K'ure was severely wounded and still dwells within the vessel, sitting on the brink between life and death. D'ore, the other Naaru involved in the crash, died on impact. He was relocated to the area now known as Auchindoun and buried there, the first to be buried in the area later known as the Auchenai Crypts.

Continue reading Know Your Lore: Oshu'gun

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Around Azeroth: The juggling Pally - Thu, 28 Feb 2008 10:00:00 EST


Little did we know the Draenei racial ability in Patch 2.4 was going to be juggling! No, not really, just a clever screenshot utilizing an ooze corpse that died at an interesting angle. Still, that juggling thing would be pretty sweet, eh?

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.

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