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World Explorers to get some help with achievement - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 20:00:00 EST

Demiron of the US-Elune server bought forth a concern about the new achievement system on the official forums recently: How does a World Explorer get all the world explored, especially the enemy faction capitals and cities?

I'd like to assure Demiron and people like him that it really is possible. Alex even wrote a nice handy mini-guide to sneaking into the cities to get Crown of the Fire Festival which should work for exploring too. If you're not a stealth class, it can be harder, but knowing the location of a few back doors and having an epic mount speedy enough to outrun guards can help a lot in those cases.

One other concern for a World Explorer, though, is figuring out exactly where they have and haven't been, and for that, Bornakk did drop a nice little hint in the thread: There will be a way to see which places you haven't explored so that you know where to go to get that shiny new achievement ding.

More help for achievements is certainly a good thing, and should help those of us scatterbrained enough that we can't quite remember if we covered every square inch of Stranglethorn or not. Hopefully, this type of help can extend to other achievements as well, so you don't have to figure out whether you have 500 daily quests to go for that achievement, or only 50.

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Moviewatch Smackdown: Tales of a Death Knight - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 19:30:00 EST

(Warning: If you do not want your Wrath of the Lich King gameplay experience ruined, do not watch this video. It contains spoiler commentary, as well as footage from the beta.)

Today I've featured movies in the action-storyline and PvP genres, but I'm curious to see if it's all about the WotLK beta. Nobunaga has created three movies so far in his Tales of a Death Knight series, which takes a deeper look at the Death Knight class. He uses commentary to describe what is going on, which isn't always clear in some of the other videos out there.

Episode 1 touches upon character creation, Episode 2 deals with the starting quest, and Episode 3 discusses the last scenario of the starting quest. I chose to feature the last of them because I feel that it's his best. By the third video, he drops the creepy voice and offers some interesting insight. I think that once he finds his format, his series will find success.

That's it for today's Moviewatch Smackdown! Would you like to see more videos like Trollbane, Tosan 4, or Tales of a Death Knight? Furthermore, why do you think that they all (unintentionally) start with a T?

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Bornakk says more about two specs per character in Wrath - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 19:00:00 EST


On the WoW forums this morning, there was renewed gurgling about the desire to be able to respec more easily, specifically between PvP specs and raiding specs. Blue Blizzard poster, Bornakk, reconfirmed what had already been discussed at the Worldwide Invitational -- that the developers are working on a way to have two swappable talent specs. They are still working out the details but it sounds like something that's definitely coming because the Blues could've easily let this thread just die of atrophy.

I'm not sure I agree with some posters who say that respeccing is a "huge pain." It's an inconvenience, yes, but then so is flying from one zone to another or waiting in line for battlegrounds. Also, as for the cost, 50 gold is merely a grain of sand to someone at level 70. (And if it isn't then, dude, what the heck are you doing out there? Buzzing on Bash Ale all day?) Conversely, how would having two different specs at your disposal make the game "too easy," as other commenters posted? My eyes are rolling so much that they may come right out of my head. (This is exactly why I try not to read much of the forums.) There was much musing about how the respec mechanic might be best implemented -- by player posters, not by Blues -- including ideas for 24 hour cool-downs, respec token systems, higher costs, lower costs and, for some reason, portals and summoning.

Regardless of what mass opinions are, Blizzard's developers seem to be looking hard at what the ramifications of twin specs would do to the game's balance. They obviously spend a lot of time studying how PvP and PvE are played
and seem to have an affinity for splitting these two gameplay styles and I don't think they will make it as simple as a mouse-click in Wrath.

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Moviewatch Smackdown: Tosan 4, or Trying Too Hard - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 18:30:00 EST

Earlier today, Moviewatch Smackdown looked at a story-related action flick, but some of you may be up for some pure action. Despite its title, as well as over 230,000 downloads and a 4.94 rating on Warcraftmovies, this Rogue PvP movie, Tosan 4 - Trying Too Hard, doesn't take itself too seriously. With a typical soundtrack involving Linkin Park, as well as some humorous dialogue peppered in between the fight scenes, Tosan seems to have scored himself a crowd favorite. While it's not my particular cup of tea, I can definitely see why it received so many views -- he had fun with it!

How does Tosan 4 fare against Trollbane? Is this preferrable to storyline or music videos?

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Neth hints at getting ready for Wrath - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 18:00:00 EST
Mookou asks for a "51-point talent preview" before the expansion, and while we probably won't actually get that, what we'll get is likely the same we got with the Burning Crusade release -- about a month before the expansion, there'll be a huge downloadable content patch for everyone (we've heard before that it will be patch 3.0) that will contain all of the updates everyone is getting: all of the talent updates, game mechanic changes, model updates, and so on that we're going to see in the expansion. Blizzard will make all the changes and fixes around that patch, and then when Wrath is actually released, you'll just be installing Northrend content, and the game itself will be (supposedly) ready for all of it to work together. And Neth confirms that this is probably the plan -- it should work much like last time around, though the patch will probably be closer to release day.

Now, Blizzard is much better at this than they used to be, so we'd imagine that (hopefully) things will go a little smoother this time around, and we won't have nearly as many problems or hotfixes as we saw last expansion. But then again, we do know they are planning things a little differently this time around -- they've divided the entry and exit zones up, so we won't see a big mess like we saw in Burning Steppes or Hellfire Peninsula. And there are rumors that we'll see a World Event go down before we actually go to Northrend, and as of right now, we don't know if there is going to be a testing phase for that or how long it might take. Last time around, too, you'll note, everyone got a free respec (and some even got two), and we haven't heard anything about that this time yet.

Of course, as always with Blizzard, time will tell. Given that we're expecting a November release, that would put a big 3.0 patch in October, and we already know Brewfest is going to have some changes then, so 3.0 could come in conjunction with those changes or around them. We'll have to wait and see.

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Moviewatch Smackdown: Trollbane - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 17:30:00 EST

We all know that I've been more than a little harsh on certain genres of WoW videos. Unless it's a storyline machinima or music video, you're not likely to see it on Moviewatch. However, I'm open to a little experimentation, so I bring you Moviewatch Smackdown. Today, I'm going to pit multiple genres against each other in a battle to the death.

Our first movie, Trollbane, is an action flick, but not in the hardcore sense. We previously wrote about DTB's beginning effort, Assassine, which some felt followed too typical of a storyline. This time, he's back with a story that's not too heavy on the dialogue, instead focusing on the battle. While the editing was good, the voice acting left something to be desired and the sound levels were a bit off. He seems to improve his skills with each new attempt, though!

[Via Warcraftmovies.com]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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Preview of the Motorbike vehicle in Grizzly Hills - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 17:00:00 EST

Did you doubt that engineers would be the coolest players in the expansion? This little demo of the motorbike coming (supposedly) to engineers in Wrath of the Lich King is, as our own Dan O'Halloran said when he saw it, the first movie of WoW where the death metal actually belong. The thing tools around Grizzly Hills at top speed. Maybe it's just the way it's been implemented on the private server, but if those jumps are possible on the live realms (physics? in WoW?), then vehicles in Wrath are going to be awesome.

Of course, this doesn't exactly signal the return to swords and sorcery that players were hoping for in Northrend -- what does it mean if we've replaced the spaceships of the last expansion with tanks? But WoW has always had a steampunk feel, and this does seem like a natural extension. Ladies and Orcs, start your engines!

[Thanks, Akussa!]

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Rob Pardo talks about how WoW gets developed - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 16:00:00 EST

Rob Pardo sat down to chat with PC Gamer recently about all things Blizzard, but as you might expect, WoW got a nice chunk of the conversation. He talks mostly about design -- after saying that PC gaming isn't dead (duh), he talks about the lore of a dungeon, and says that whenever you step into an instance, even if you haven't researched all the lore of it, and read all the quests for it, Blizzard wants you to know that the story is there.

He also talks a little bit about how Blizzard works as a team -- everyone working on the game has the power to veto something if they don't feel it works right, which is probably why we haven't seen things like player housing yet. It also explains why Blizzard takes their time -- when anyone can step in and say, "This isn't working" at any time, you get a lot of iterating and a lot of unreleased content. But as Pardo says, it pushes the whole team to do it better -- he can go to the people he'll know will have a problem with a certain mechanic and work with them to make it right.

Finally, they chat a little bit about whether, as Raph Koster is quoted, "the singleplayer game is an aberration." Pardo calls out Super Mario Galaxy's co-star mode as an example of a terrific singleplayer game that incorporates multiplayer in an innovative way, and says that singleplayer isn't gone forever -- it's just going to look a little different.

[via WorldofWar]

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No threat for Lifebloom - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 14:00:00 EST


Lume the Mad has done the math (very thoroughly), and he's got the answer for Druids: the end healing burst of Lifebloom doesn't cause any threat at all, either for the caster or the recipient. He first pared the entire situation of casting Lifebloom down to its basic elements -- you've got a player who body pulls a mob, and a Druid healing them. He took out all possible reactive abilities that might cause threat, and then set up a situation where the Druid obtained threat, and cast LIfebloom on another player, with an opposing faction Shaman purging the spell early (so it could jump straight to the end heal), and the mob stayed on the Druid -- the big heal didn't cause threat for the recipient at all. Finally, Lum tested if the Druid was recieving aggro, and as you can see above, neither the Druid caster or the Warlock is affected by the end heal of Lifebloom -- just one point of damage can still pull the mob around.

There's been a lot of discussion about this already -- the HoT aspect of Lifebloom still does cause threat (for the Druid), and so you combine that with the fact that lots of people were testing under "unsecure" situations, and the whole thing got very confusing. But Lum's tests seem very clear: Druids can cast away knowing that they won't pull aggro with that burst of healing at the end of the spell.

[Thanks, Matticus!]

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Hands-on with Inscription in the Wrath Beta - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 13:00:00 EST

By now you've heard of inscription, the new trade skill coming with Wrath of the Lich King. We've already given you a few sneak peeks, looking at glyphs, enchantment scrolls, and other beta insights. This time, though we had a chance to fiddle with Inscription directly, on the Beta servers themselves. The trade skill is most obviously only in the very first stages of implementation, but there's still enough to play around with to get an idea of how it will all work once things go live.

To start off with, we needed to do a little running. There's no inscription trainers to be found in Dalaran or any of the capitals. We found one in Vengeance Landing, so it seems likely that Alliance could find one in Valgarde as well. However, there are no Inscription suppliers nearby, so you'll still have to run to Dalaran to get the Scribe Tools and parchment you need for most recipes.

It's probably a given that that'll change for the better as we get closer to live, but for now it's a pain. You'll probably want to go buy the Scribe Tools and stock up on parchment before you go to train if you're doing it in Beta. Luckily, Light Parchments stack up to 20, so you can carry a lot -- be warned though, most of the scrolls you make out of them only stack to 5.

Anyhow, to the meat.

Continue reading Hands-on with Inscription in the Wrath Beta

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Ask a beta tester: Let's get this party started! - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 11:00:00 EST


So you haven't found your way into the Wrath of the Lich King beta. We're sorry for you -- no, really, we cried all through the beta login screen, after which point we were immediately distracted by, well, we'd tell you, but it would be a huge spoiler. However, we're here to ease the pain. Though we don't have the persuasive powers required to convince Blizzard to give you all beta keys of your very own, we can answer your beta-related questions. Do you have a burning Wrath question that you just have to have answered? Leave it in the comments below and tomorrow we'll be back here, same time, same place, to answer some of your questions. We'll keep this up until Wrath of the Lich King launches or until you run out of questions -- but I think we all know which of those is going to come first.

So lets get this party started -- ask us your beta questions!

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Around Azeroth: Extreme robot fighting - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:00:00 EST


I admit, I totally made the post title up. But I think you have to admit that extreme robot fighting sounds like tons of fun. Reader Forlune sends in this shot straight from the beta realms, explaining that this is a new daily PvP quest in the Grizzly Hills. Though I haven't tried this one out myself, judging from intel from our good friends at WoWhead, this is one of several new PvP-oriented dailies in th Blue Sky Logging Grounds -- this one just asks you to return several broken-down shredders for repair, while the others seem to encourage more direct punishment of the opposing faction. Robot fighting or no robot fighting, who's not into showing the Horde... or Alliance... who's boss?

This image came to us straight from the Wrath of the Lich King beta -- and we'd love to have your beta screenshots, too! If you have anything our readers might like, sharing it 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 -- use alt-Z to remove it. And, please, no more sunsets! (Well, okay, maybe if they are some really cool Northrend sunsets, we can consider.)

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Taking a look at Runeforging - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 09:00:00 EST


Death Knights certainly feel like a Hero class in every sense of the word. Aside from their impressive abilities, they also have a brand new resource system called Runes and Runic Power. These coupled with the fact that they jumpstart to Level 55 ensure that Death Knights feel epic. They are also unique in that they have a special bond with their weapon, called Runeweapons, and Blizzard wanted to give them a different mechanic here, too.

Death Knights have a class-specific profession called Runeforging, similar to the Rogue-specific Poisons and to a lesser degree, Lockpicking. However, unlike Rogue poisons, Runeforging a weapon supercedes weapon enchantments. Inscribing Runes onto the Death Knight's weapon also requires a Rune Forge, kind of like a Moonwell for making Mooncloth or a Forge for smelting metals. Currently, Rune Forges can only be found in Ebon Hold, the Death Knights' exclusive clubhouse.

There are currently six runes available for Death Knights to inscribe into their weapons -- Rune of Cinderglacier, Rune of Frostfever, Rune of Lichbane, Rune of Spellbreaking, Rune of Swordbreaking, and Rune of the Fallen Crusader. Some runes mimic existing enchantments, such as Crusader, while others seem very task-specific such as Spellbreaking for taking on caster-type mobs. Death Knights can change the rune on their weapon as often as they like, provided they have access to a Rune Forge. Inscribing weapons with runes also endow the weapon with an animation similar to enchants (Swordbreaking looks like Savagery, for example). Check out the gallery for screenshots of the Rune Forge and the different runes.

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Breakfast topic: Burning questions - Mon, 28 Jul 2008 08:00:00 EST

Wrath of the Lich King news started off as a trickle. First it was the development of the expansion than the addition of the Death Knight class. Then we had a lot of speculation and evasive answers from Blizzard. Now that the Beta test has been opened up there has been a flood of information. Most of this comes from the observations and mining of players, more so than Blizzard itself. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the WoW experience is waiting for Blizzard to give us information.

There are some tidbits that we're all excited to hear. When will we see Wrath go live? Will there be another expansion? Where does Kalgan live, and does he have decent body guards? I'd like to know if there are any plans for additional server types in the future.

We always do our best here to get as much information about WoW as possible as quickly as we can. If you had the opportunity to ask your three most burning questions of the game developers, what would you ask?

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Spiritual Guidance: Measuring a Priest - Sun, 27 Jul 2008 23:59:00 EST

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is now Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. With summer half way through and some guilds in various states of disarray, Matticus will help you figure out what to look for when recruiting a Holy Priest!

Stop me if you've heard this one. A guild you know of has stopped raiding due to the summer season. Players are losing interest or are leaving the game or the guild entirely to go pursue other activities. It just so happens one of the characters lost is a really good Holy Priest! The replacements picked up just didn't perform up to the standard of the old Priest! Even though the new Priest has more healing, more regen, and better gear, they're still struggling on their healing jobs! What gives? Don't worry! This week, I plan on helping you dispel (get it?) a few myths, provide some raiding benchmarks and provide a few places to go to get your raid back and running in full gear again.

Continue reading Spiritual Guidance: Measuring a Priest

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Death Knights will use sigils - Sun, 27 Jul 2008 20:00:00 EST

Exactly what weapons Death Knights will be able to wield has been the subject of some controversy. Originally, it was speculated by Blizzard that one- and two-handed swords and axes would be the extent of it. Currently in the beta, polearms and one- and two-handed swords, axes, and maces are usable. Daggers, fist weapons, staves, wands, and ranged weapons are not (updated with verified information).

But not many people have talked about what's going to go in that ranged slot. A moment's thought reminds us that every other class that can't use ranged weapons or wands (Druids, Shamans, and Paladins) have Relics in those slots. If you're not familiar, Relics are class-specific items that typically provide a boost to particular spells; they come in different flavors for the different classes. Druids get Idols, Shamans get Totems (confusing, yes), and Paladins get Librams.

Wrath will add one more to the list: Sigils, for Death Knights. So far only one has been implemented in the beta - Sigil of the Dark Rider, one of the first quest rewards in the DK's starting chain. Blood Strike, as far as I can tell, is meant to be a staple skill for many DKs, like Heroic Strike for Warriors, so this should come in handy. And unlike Paladins, DKs have plenty of ranged spells, so pulling shouldn't be problematic - they even have a spell that brings the enemy straight to them, Scorpion-style. Get over here!

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Token system discovered - Sun, 27 Jul 2008 18:00:00 EST

They're getting serious about easing inventory headaches in Wrath of the Lich King. Recently we heard all about the new storage system for mounts and vanity pets (you'll learn them as spells; they will not occupy space in your bags). Shortly thereafter it was hinted that tokens (such as Badges of Justice and Battleground marks) would face a similar treatment.

An enterprising and clever beta participant by the name of Xabora has discovered what form this treatment will take, by typing /tokens and hitting return. This is reminiscent of the way Achievements were first discovered to be in WoW, which was by someone in the alpha typing /achievements. Yay slash commands! Anyway, it looks like the new system will track all your tokens, as well as your honor points and arena points, with categories for each phase of the game (Classic, BC, Wrath), PvP, Holidays, Raid, Miscellaneous, and Unused.

I'm not entirely sure why there's a category for "unused" tokens, or why Raid is separate from Classic/BC/Wrath - are they planning on putting tier tokens into this system? Will raids in Wrath award different tokens than heroics? No telling just yet, I guess. But it's nice to know that even more bag spaces will be freed, and we won't have any more issues from having left our tokens in the bank.

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Addon Spotlight: GoGoMount - Sun, 27 Jul 2008 17:00:00 EST
For this week's addon, I thought I would share one that is built around a macro that we've hinted at over at Macro Anatomy. This addon has been abandoned by the author, but there is a patch available that will update it to work with 2.4. (Although I am using the "unpatched" version just fine.)

GoGoMount will pick the most appropriate mount for you based on given conditions. If you can use a flying mount, it will summon your flyer, otherwise it will randomly select from your ground mounts. (This includes summoned mounts for Paladins and Warlocks.) If you have multiple flying mounts, it will randomly select one of these as well.

It supports Druid travel forms and Ghost Wolf for Shamans as well. So, in less words; this addon is your one-stop mounting shop.

Continue reading Addon Spotlight: GoGoMount

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WoW Radio runs The Nexus - Sun, 27 Jul 2008 16:00:00 EST


Here's the second Northrend instance run from the guys at WoW Radio -- last time around, they took us through Utgarde Keep, and this time Totalbiscuit, Duncor, Gnomewise, Mugi, and Nachtsturm run us through The Nexus, a level 72ish instance on the Borean Tundra. This run is a little more spoileriffic than Utgarde -- there's some Blue Dragonflight lore floating around, so watch at your own risk if you don't want to know about that kind of stuff.

But the instance does look terrific -- there are some new looks at Blizzard's updated cavern shader system we heard about a long time ago, and considering that The Nexus is, well, a Nexus of magical energy, it provides for some fascinating vistas and magical effects, even on Totalbiscuit's older machine. And the fact that all that magic is floating around seems like it provides for some fun mana mechanics for casters. These instances are shaping up, even in this early Wrath of the Lich King beta, to look like the best Blizzard has ever created.

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[UPDATED!] A look at Wrath of the Lich King's Green quest rewards - Sun, 27 Jul 2008 14:00:00 EST


When Blizzard half-seriously apologized for the brutally ugly Season 4 Brutal Gladiator gear by saying that their artists were hard at work on the expansion, they weren't kidding. If any of us were afraid that there'd be massive clown action, we can rest easy because from the look of things, even green items have an epic feel to them. The designers over at Blizzard have done a fantastic job making the green quest rewards in Northrend look impressive and even menacing that players won't feel embarrassed to equip them.

I haven't checked out all of the armor pieces, but a quick perusal of the weapons shows that Northrend won't be a total circus when we finally get there. I mean, just look at the gun above. That looks really badass, specially with the skull and weathered metal. Check out pics of uncommon, or 'green', weapons found all over Northrend in the gallery below. [UPDATE!] By popular demand, I included a couple of green staves and as a bonus, took a sneak peek at the two blue quest reward items for Death Knights. I know they're not green, but they're pretty cool, nonetheless.

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