Earlier this week, the World of Warcraftcommunity sites (multi-regional) updated with a gallery from WoW China. Chinese WoW players participated in an event called, "I Love World of Warcraft, I Love Spring Festival" that combined a passion for WoW with the Lunar New Year celebrations. Chinese players submitted pictures of themselves that incorporated both of these things and the community picked their favorites.
This is, by far, one of my favorite galleries that any of the official community teams has ever done. As a blogger here on WoW Insider, I see every day just how much community has been built up around this game, and I know very well that there are faces behind the characters. I've met many of my guildmates in person, and I hear similar stories every single day through WoW Insider's tipline. I love seeing the faces behind the characters, and that is exactly what this gallery does. Sure, they posed for these things and they're not exactly candid, but it still shows that the game is very personal.
We're all players, but we're also people. I much prefer galleries that display that, rather than yet another mount gallery. Mount galleries are cool and all, I just like this better. Go on, check it out!
Ghostcrawler posted numerous responses in a long thread that referenced the findings that far fewer players were participating in Arenas in Season 5. It's an extremely good thread where he addresses numerous posts, defending Blizzard's treatment of Arenas, attempting to explain the drop in participation, and conceding various points to players sharing their thoughts. Here are a few things that Ghostcrawler mentions that stood out for me:
"Players go where the loot is." - on why he thinks Season 5 has less participation, pointing to the fact that it's easier to gear up through PvE
"Getting 100% of WoW players into Arenas is not our goal. Getting 100% of players who like to do Arenas into Arenas is a goal."
"I hope it's obvious we would not have gone for that new system if we did not think it would offer an enormous improvement over the old one." - on Blizzard's planned move to a new rating system (again) in Season 6, where teams start from 0
"It actually takes a great deal of time to make a BG. It isn't the map creation; it is making all of the rules work. We are working on building better tools though to streamline that process." - responding to a post saying that Blizzard can crank out a Battleground every 8 weeks
"If we offered epics through BGs, it would basically be (right now at least) some kind of grind fest."
"We would LOVE to offer good gear through BGs, don't get me wrong. We just haven't figured out a great way to do it yet."
"I think this is fair. We have some BG plans up our sleeve." - on the accusation that Blizzard has focused on Arenas and largely ignored Battlegrounds
He also digresses a little into discussions about raid difficulty, challenging players to get to Algalon. Overall, it's a rather engaging thread where Ghostcrawler explains (as he usually does) Blizzard's philosophy on building things. He also clarifies that "bring the player not the class" is a PvE goal and doesn't necessarily apply to Arenas. Although he continues to defend Arenas by noting that many factors contribute to its lowered popularity in Season 5, it's a good sign that they are starting to give more focus to Battlegrounds. As excited as I am for Season 6, I think the new Battleground has whet my appetite even more.
Each week Arcane Brilliance glances around to make sure there are no Death Knights in the area, then daintily tiptoes out from cover long enough to throw together a column about Mages. Usually, this ends badly for Arcane Brilliance. Out of nowhere, a big purple rope-looking thingy wraps itself around Arcane Brilliance's neck and drags it backward into a big stabby implement of some type. Arcane Brilliance tries to fight back, but finds it has been silenced three different ways and the Death Knight that just jumped it has enclosed them both beneath some kind of ugly anti-magic igloo. So, Arcane Brilliance no longer want to hear any complaints about misspelled words or grammatical errors. Arcane Brilliance is simply too busy getting ganked by Death Knights to proofread. I swear.
When I posted on Wednesday about the giant Mage Q&A session hosted by the developers, I was cautiously optimistic. The developers repeatedly assured Mages in that Q&A thread that they were keeping a close eye on our performance on the PTR, that a lot of our concerns would shake themselves out as we continued along through the testing process. Chief among these concerns of late has been the nerf to Molten Armor and its glyph, a change that tied the formerly static 5% crit buff those offered to spirit and turned out to be a nerf to the large majority of Mages and a slight buff to only the most well-geared among us. As nerfs went, it wasn't the most devastating one in recent memory, but was disproportionately reviled by Mages because it forced us to pay attention to a stat that was otherwise of little value to us. In the Q&A thread, we were told that the developers were aware of our concerns and would consider upping the spirit-to-crit conversion rate if they felt it necessary. I remained positive, but wasn't exactly holding my breath.
It appears I needn't have been skeptical. The latest PTR build already reflects a few very nice changes for those of us who like to wear robes, waggle sticks in the air, and hurl large flaming orbs of magical death at Warlocks. That's right, my fellow Mages: It appears the nerf-train has at least temporarily run itself off the rails. Follow me after the break, and we'll go over the specific changes.
It's fairly common to see professional Arena teams to concede defeat after losing a member in tournaments. It happens all the time. You wouldn't fault them for it, either, considering that if you do the math, 3 will always be more than 2, and 2 will always be more than 1. So it was no surprise that when SK-Gaming Asia went up two players to one in the fourth match of their best of five series against H O N, even the commentator was congratulating them and writing H O N off. Most players would've left the match.
Orangemarmalade, H O N's Mage who was left in a lopsided situation against SK-Gaming's Priest and Mage, showed us all why he's one of the greatest Mages to ever PvP. Korean team H O N won the ESL Global Finals in a most dramatic fashion and will always be remembered as one of the best moments in professional Arena competition. This video from th Electronic Sports League gives us the play-by-play on how Orange pulled off such an improbable win.
Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.
Marty wrote in earlier this month about a common occurrence among casual players: finding yourself guildless.
This morning I woke up and jumped on WoW to work the Auction house and found a letter from my Guild Master saying he has closed the Guild and moved on because the guild wasn't progressing the way he wanted. This was very surprising for me for many reasons. Primarily because I was a "Co-Leader" of the guild and had no idea this was coming, but also because for the 1.5 years the guild had been around we were really just Casual.... no expectations just basically a "Helping/Social" guild members out doing various activities and running instances together if we had enough people on... or if we didn't have enough we simply filled the holes with LFM on the channels. We never really ran any Sunwell Content in the BC days, and just recently started giving the WoTLK instances a shot on Heroic and I think we were doing alright with them! We wiped from time to time but tackled pretty much all of them..
Jeff Kaplan has said some interesting things at this year's GDC (expect a full account from us soon). One of them concerned a new technology that debuted in Wrath of the Lich King which I, for one, had not heard of before: progressive drop rates for quest items.
Pre-Wrath, if you're on a collection quest, whatever you're trying to collect will drop at a constant rate (35% was apparently the standard). Overall, this averages to a predictable amount of kills per quest. But probability being the way it is, it was altogether possible to have terrible luck and have to kill 100 foozles to get your four gizmos, or to have great luck and get your gizmos in only four kills. It was the bad streaks that the devs were particularly concerned about, as those are very memorable and never fun.
In Wrath, according to Kaplan, drop rates for quest items are progressive - the more foozles you kill, the higher chance each one has to drop a gizmo. The standard quest item drop rate has been raised to 45%, and each kill you make raises that drop rate by some amount. Kaplan said that it can eventually reach 100%, at which point every kill would drop your item. This puts a hard cap on just how frustrating a collection quest can be. Seems like a smart idea to me. I hadn't really noticed Wrath collection quests being easier, but then, I wouldn't - I simply wouldn't have bad-luck streaks, the absence of which might not be easy to notice.
After four years of WoW, it's rare that someone discovers a hidden secret in Azeroth. But Adda of Tarren Mill-EU seems to have done just that. While traveling through Duskwood, Adda spied a pair of blinking, glowing eyes in the bushes. On further examination, Adda discovered that the eyes didn't belong to any of the local fauna, as she previously thought. They were just ... disembodied eyes. I checked this out on my troll shammy, and sure enough, there are eyes in the bushes. It seems that a couple of other people have spotted them, as evidenced in this entertaining video. The exact spot is (26.93, 38.60), just northeast of the Raven Hill Cemetery. Go check them out!
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.
As if the Southern Graveyard wasn't enticing enough for all the scrubs out there who have no clue how to play Strand of the Ancients, Blizzard has made a tiny change in Patch 3.1 that will make the Battleground hell for players who actually know what they're doing. According to the patch notes:
"Capturing the Southern Graveyard will now automatically capture both the East and West Graveyards."
Great. Give all those scrubs an excuse to capture it while on offense. Thanks, Blizzard.
Let me explain why capturing Southern Graveyard is one of the worst things you can do for your team while on offense. You see, when you capture Southern Graveyard and your team is progressing Southwards through the Gate of the Yellow Moon and the Keep, members of your team who die during the effort will rezz near the yellow gate. Where are the tanks and charges that you need? That's right. They're downhill to the Northeast and Northwest. This means that your team will need to run down just to get a tank. In a timed Battleground, time spent running down just to get a tank is time wasted.
Breakfast Topic: Awesome Animations - Sat, 28 Mar 2009 08:00:00 EST So hot on the heels of the best mob noise in game discussion, I thought I'd ask another question: What about the animations? We probably don't think about it too much, but the sounds and animations of PCs and NPCs alike probably end up making a lot of atmosphere we take for granted. It fills out the world and makes it feel more immersive, more real.
Beyond that, even PC animations can have their awesome looks, such as a Draenei twirling a Polearm to attack or a male Blood Elf dying with Shakespearean dramatics. Ethereals also have some pretty graceful moves overall, even in the way their bandages move and their energy pulses.
What animations and graphics have you encountered in WoW that have made you stop and say, "Hey, that's pretty neat?"
There appears to be connection problems going around as multiple people are unable to log in tonight, including multiple tipsters and yours truly. It's definitely a widespread problem, as the Blizzard Tech Support team is currently asking for ISP and tracert information over on the official forums while they try to track it down.
While some people are positing that this is a merged battle.net account problem, it's worth noting that we also know of many people, including a couple of our bloggers, are still able to log in fine with a battle.net account. At the same time, some posters in the aforementioned thread are saying that they can log on fine when they use an unmerged pre-battle.net account from a family member or roommate.
Once we get a clearer idea of what the problem is or when it's been fixed, we'll let you know.
UPDATE, 10:30 PM EST:Okay, This is Daniel again, and I can log on with a battle.net account. This is the same one that wasn't working not 10 minutes ago, for the record. UPDATE, 11 PM EST: It looks everything is working fine again. Play on!
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Patch 3.1, for all of its grand changes, has also dedicated itself to imposing smaller tweaks aimed at making some mechanics more convenient, logical, and fair.
The application of applying a glyph is one of the latest in a line of positive changes that we'll be seeing on patch day. While the old (current) process is an annoying charming ritual, the new method is better for the Azerothian on the go.
Currently, applying a glyph requires that the player be standing in front of a Lexicon of Power, usually found in main cities. With patch 3.1, this will change, and we will be able to re-glyph at will.
This means that if you asked your buddy to hook you up for the raid that night, and it arrives in the mail a few minutes before go time, you can just switch it in without having to hearth and be re-summoned. Heck, I'll just be happy to be able to do it from the mailbox rather than having to ride through the city!
While some may complain that this makes the process less special, it might be wise to consider the glyphing change that is accompanying dual specs. Once we glyph our main and off-spec, we will not need to glyph again unless we change our minds on which glyph we want, or spec to our third spec.
The only hitch is that you cannot switch them during combat, in Arenas, or in Battlegrounds once the fight has started, which sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
Another major, and welcome change, relates to flasks, which brings us to our topic of the week. I will be addressing the new mechanics of flask creation, and discussing the benefits of the new system.
Well, say goodbye to patch 3.1, guys. Tevri of Shandris has made sure that the developers will never release it. All those who say Blizzard never listens to its customers, well, here's your proof you're wrong. 3.1 is cancelled. Forever.
In a thread innocently asking when 3.1 would be coming out, Blizzard CM Crygil remarked that it would be out soon. Tevri, in his infinite wisdom, decided that this was, in fact, too soon, and told Crygil as much. Crygil immediately responded that he would inform the devs to cancel 3.1 development.
So, great job, Tevri! Way to royally screw us! My dream of not being able to cast Slow Fall on NPCs has completely disappeared, and it's all your fault.
Tomorrow's Breakfast Topic: How are we going to gank Tevri?
WoW Insider had correspondents there on the site, and they sent back audio of Kaplan's speech. We've paraphrased the salient points, and you can find them all after the break. There's some really interesting stuff in there, including the fact that in the past two years, 80 billion quests have been completed in North America's Azeroth alone, and just who is behind the frustration that is The Green Hills of Stranglethorn (hint: it's Kaplan himself).
Hit the link below to see what Kaplan told the crowd at GDC.
The tournament itself involves a minigame of mounted combat -- you can ride around on a mount, lance equipped, that has a few different abilities. There's a ranged attack that will let you break down an opponent's shield, there's a Defend ability that will let you build up your own shield, and then there's a Thrust melee attack that just does damage, and a Charge attack that will do damage as well as break down your opponent's shield. And out of combat, you can fully heal your mount or challenge someone else to a duel. The Aspirant quests teach you all of this, and then the Valiant quests really put your knowledge to the test as you move up through the ranks, fighting NPC mobs as challengers to the title.
The Argent Tournament definitely seems like a lot of fun -- as I said way back when, the whole event seems like a one-stop shop for picking up rep and items in Northrend, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if Blizzard plans to add more events and more daily quests on to what we're building up there. Banana Shoulders will be posting part three of their guide soon, and of course you can stay tuned to WoW Insider -- as we get closer to the patch 3.1 release on the live realms, we'll have everything you need to know about the Tournament and then some.
As they sometimes do, Blizzard has updated the official 3.1 PTR patch notes. Most of it won't be new to you if you've been following along with all the latest developments, but if not, there's some good stuff in there. The entire patch notes are replicated after the cut, in case you are (for instance) at work and unable to access the Blizzard forums.
All Ground Mounts may now swim without dismounting the rider. Flying Mounts still may NOT, and will dismount the rider upon entering water.
Ulduar is now available for limited testing. Please visit the Public Test Realms for more details. http://forums.wow-europe.com/board.html?forumId=11095&sid=1
Players level 40 and higher will now be able to visit their trainer to pay a one-time fee and access the dual talent specialization feature.
The achievement Brew of the Year has been removed from the Brewmaster meta-achievement. The achievement Brew of the Month has been added in its place.
Noblegarden has been redesigned into a week-long holiday with new items, quests, and more. Various achievements have been added, including the meta-achievement Noble Gardener, which is now required for the meta-achievement What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been.
Applying a glyph no longer requires a Lexicon of Power. The same rules for switching between dual talent specializations now apply to switching glyphs and cannot be performed while in combat, Battlegrounds (except when Preparation is up), or Arenas (no exceptions).
Copied Test Realm characters will no longer be copied with their achievement history in order to better facilitate the character copy process.
A few days ago, Blizzard semi-accidentally revealed that they were working on a cell-phone version of the authenticator (which works well along with the whole Battle.net account thing). Excitingly for many of us here, the iPhone was one of the supported platforms. Today, the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator has appeared in the app store, and I've got it installed on my iPhone. And it's free!
You can find it in the app store on your phone by searching for "Blizzard" and scrolling down near the bottom. Or you can just click this iTunes link. Anyway, once you install it, it's a pretty simple matter to attach the authenticator serial number to your Battle.net account, and then use the generated codes to log in to WoW.
It is also supposed to work on the iPod Touch, with the caveat that you need to be in wifi during the setup; thereafter, it can work without a network connection (on the Touch as well as the iPhone).
Although this wasn't the biggest PTR patch in the world (they're coming smaller and faster now, perhaps suggesting that 3.1 is near), there were still some notable changes for my new favorite melee class. The changes for Death Knights are as follows:
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.
One of our questions today comes from a reader who's moving to London for a couple of months, and I just wanted to take a moment to say that I've always wanted to go there. Consider yourself very, very lucky! London has all kinds of great things I've always wanted to see, like Big Ben, Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon, and Papahānaumokuākea. One day, hopefully, I'll get to go myself!
Let's get started, hm? SithVicious asked a pair of questions...
A new build was pushed to the patch 3.1 PTR yesterday, and while the list of changes wasn't huge, there are a few significant ones for paladins:
Seal of the Martyr/Seal of Blood now add 48% of weapon damage, up from 22%, to all your melee attacks as holy damage. However, the Judgment was changed from 16% of AP + 25% of spell power + 26% of minimum weapon damage to 11% AP + 18% SP + 26% min weapon damage.
In other words, the bonus damage per attack was roughly doubled, while the coefficients of AP and SP on the judgment were cut by 30% (approximately).
The general expectation is that this will keep overall damage pretty much the same, while reducing burst damage. This makes the seal play a bit differently in PvP - it's no longer going to hit like a truck when you judge, but you'll get more consistent damage out of it (edited). A benefit of the change is that you won't see quite as big hits on your health when you judge the seal: more survivability in PvE, which is something the blues have shown concern about with respect to this seal.
There was one other change: a new talent called Divine Guardian was added, at tier 4 in the Protection tree. Note that this is not the same as the old Divine Guardian, which was reworked and renamed Divine Sacrifice. I do really like the icon, so I'm glad they're reusing it, but the naming is slightly confusing.