Gnomewarrior, a site devoted to tracking Arena matches, has a growing database of over 23,000 Arena matches contributed by over 400 players. It's a pretty small player sampling right now, but the match data that the site shows are pretty interesting. Even with a small overview, visitors can check out specific Arena teams (that have contributed their data) and details on their matches such as match duration, their Team Rating, the maps they fought on, and the all-important team compositions. Mousing over a class icon will show that player's spec, which is extremely useful.
Arena enthusiasts looking to contribute should download ArenaHistorian from WoW Interface and upload their data on Gnomewarrior. The mod itself tracks pretty much everything in an Arena match such as the "exact race, gender, talents, healing and damage done for both the enemy arena team and yours, along with which map it was in, how long it took and if you won or lost." It's a lot of data, and as with all databases, the more data you've got, the better. Gnomewarrior collects all that data and makes it extremely searchable, allowing visitors to search for how teams or even how certain class / specs performed.
Perhaps we'll see tools that will parse the data, like finding out the average time for matches depending on the brackets and maps (glossing over the lists, for example, it looks like most matches last from 3-6 minutes). It's also interesting to see how certain -- sometimes oddball -- comps do against others. As it is now, it's interesting enough to browse through and visualize the tons of matches they display. With a big enough sampling, I'm looking forward to Gnomewarrior working alongside other sites like Realm History's Arena Statistics in becoming a valuable resource for analyzing Arena play.
Reminder: Two chances left to win a Tabard of Flame from WoW Insider - Thu, 28 Aug 2008 19:00:00 EST Pssst. Hey evening readers. We know you guys usually can't visit us at work or school -- you have to wait until you get home to check the site every day. Maybe you're eating dinner right now, chowing down on leftover takeout and catching up on all the WoW news of the day while flying around to do your daily quests. We appreciate you tuning in, and that's why we've waited until your time of the day to remind you that you've got two chances left to enter to win a Tabard of Flame from WoW Insider and WoW TCG Loot.
We started this contest on Tuesday (in the morning, which is why we were worried you guys might not see it), and since you can put a comment on the contest post every day (until tomorrow night at midnight), that means that you all have two days left to enter a comment. So even if you missed the contest before, you can still get in on the action. Please note that to enter, you must leave a comment on the contest post, not this post. Leaving a comment on this post gets you nothing but our satisfaction, and while that's worth a lot, you probably want a Tabard of Flame even more. And make sure to use a real email that you check often, so we can get in touch with you if you win.
So thanks, evening readers, for tuning in every night here after a long day's work. We appreciate it, and we really hope you win the tabard. Because as much as we love our early morning and late night readers, they don't read the site at quite the same time as you do, if you know what we mean.
Earlier today, I posted a huge roundup of links to get you started on your first machinima, or just polish your current work. The reason behind that post was to announce the incredible contest that Dell is having! They're offering up not one, but two systems as prizes, but I'm getting ahead of myself. WoW Insider is lucky enough to have two of their staffers, Dan O'Halloran and myself, as judges for this event.
How to enter:
Download the Dell XPS asset package from their site.
Create a World of Warcraft machinima under 3 minutes long that features their system.
Upload the video to YouTube and put it in this post on their forum.
Bornakk clarifies Achievements and Feats of Strength - Thu, 28 Aug 2008 18:20:00 EST Bornakk drops some serious knowledge about the difference between Achievements and Feats of Strength (both of which, apparently, are showing up as of patch 3.0). Achievements grant points, and are apparently things that you can accomplish in the game while they're given out -- if there is an achievement on the list, you can earn it. But Feats of Strength are different; not only do they not give points, but "some of them may no longer be possible to do." So Feats of Strength may include things like opening the AQ gates, and so on. The good news is that if there's an Achievement for something in the game, Blizzard will make sure that it's possible to jump through the hoops you need to do it.
But the bad news is that there's really no way to know whether you'll get credit for either Achievements or Feats of Strength until the system shows up on the live realms. As we've heard, Blizzard is going to try to be as retroactive as possible -- they'll be looking at quests and maybe even equipment to determine who's killed which boss in the past. But nothing, as Bornakk says, is guaranteed -- you may get one achievement for an old boss, but you may need to redo another old boss again.
There's one more great thing coming out of all of this as well -- hopefully, Achievements and Feats of Strength both will drive traffic back to the old content, and people who've never run Naxx or AQ, for example, will be able to find regular groups for "Achievement runs." Even people who've already downed the content will want to do back if their Feats of Strength don't register, so lots of people who didn't should have new chances to see it.
Well Fed Buff: Rock-Salted Pretzels - Thu, 28 Aug 2008 18:00:00 EST Well Fed Buff serves up tasty dishes to boost your HP, stats and appetite - with that special WoW twist, of course.
I would hate to be accused of waxing melodramatic about a snack food (or a computer game, for that matter) - but have you ever noticed how positively persistent fans of pretzels can be about their gnosh of choice? There seem to be two camps among homemade pretzel lovers: those who crave the satisfying simplicity of recipes that send pretzels straight into the oven for a quick and easy bake, versus others who want dyed-in-the-wool traditional pretzels made the old-fashioned way.
While the 'net-addicted crew at WoW Insider is easily mesmerized by clicking around the intertubes in search of authentic pretzel history and methodology, we recognize that our intrepid readers may want to get on with the show, make the pretzels already and log in to play. Well Fed Buff brings you what we think is the best of the quickie pretzel recipes. Keep reading for a link to the whole fermented truth about pretzels.
This week's comic I have decided to do by hand while waiting around for various people and events to catch up to my time line. In other words, the only thing I used my computer for this week was some minor touch ups, framing, straightening, and of course sticking it up here for all of you to razz.
I don't know how common a problem this is for other people, but when I'm actually playing World of Warcraft in the same room as my significant other, he tends to use me as his hotkeys. I'm the "M" key when he wants to know where we are on the map, for instance. I don't know if this is something that happens with everyone who plays in the same room as another person, or if it is just a singular case. Do any of you have instances like this one where you end up being the macro, hotkey, or info guide for someone else?
For the record, I'll go back to doing things with photoshop next week. Small drawings are evil.
Barrens Chat is a weekly comic strip that has gone back in time to the good old days of markers and pencils. Although the emo oozes were shiny, and the water elemental looked like a fun time, nothing beats some retro action. Don't worry, everything should be back to normal next week!
Anyone who's done much research on Feral druiding, especially cat form, has probably run across the concept of powershifting. Basically, powershifting plays off Furor (a talent that pretty much every Feral druid has) by shifting out of cat form and straight back into it to reset your energy to 40. If you do this at 80 energy, of course, you've just lost 40 energy, some mana, and a global cooldown, and there's no point to that. But if you do it at 0 energy, you've just traded a GCD and some mana for 40 energy, which is often worth it. Powershifting was made even easier in a recent patch with the door opened to macros like "/cast !Cat Form", which shifts you in and out with one button press instantaneously.
This no longer works in the current LK beta build. Now, as explicated at length by blue poster Jimmythenumbers (who we here at WI have never heard of), Furor works by setting your energy to the amount you would have if your energy regen had been working while shifted out, up to a maximum of 40 energy [reworded for clarity]. For instance:
Last week we took a look at some of the BattlegroundsAchievements that can be unlocked in Wrath of the Lich King and examined how they could change the game for the better. Goal-oriented Battlegrounds PvP is certainly something to look forward to in this age of mindless fighting in the mid-field or roads. Having Achievements certainly make it prone to the glory hounds, but it also helps to keep everyone's eyes on the prize. Eye of the Storm Because it's a new Battleground not associated with any faction (which makes me feel like I'm not fighting for anything worthy), there's no reputation to be gained and no associated gear to be obtained. This means that there are virtually no retroactive Achievements for the Eye of the Storm. There is the basic Achievement of Eye of the Storm Victory, which all but the most hapless and luckless of combatants will get. There is the Eye of the Storm Veteran iteration, which requires 100 wins in the Battleground. Not quite as easy to get, but most of us will get there eventually.
Well, this week we found out that we're going to get a taste of the new talents and skills for Wrath of the Lich King, which wasn't exactly a surprise, as we got a similar content patch before the launch of The Burning Crusade. However, as we've been getting quite a bit of mail asking what, exactly, it means for shamans when patch 3.0 goes live. While I always try to avoid Wrath spoilers, in this case I feel like we're not talking about expansion secrets: there are changes that will be affecting you in your day to day playing before you set foot in Northrend. So a brief overview out in the open seems warranted.
For starters, we know that the new skills and talents for each class will be implemented. What does that mean for your shaman? Well, as best as we can tell at this point, this will be your talent tree.At level 70 (since new levels and skills that require those levels will not be unlocked) you will be able to spend 61 points, placing the 51 point talents within reach. It means that the spell power changes are certain to be implemented, since many of the talents require that new mechanic. (This is of course subject to change, but there's been no sign that Blizzard's thinking differently about the change.) It means that totems will most likely be raid wide, that Windfury Totem and Wrath of Air Totem will change to the haste mechanic, that enhancement shamans will now gain 1 AP per point of strength, 1 AP per point of agility, and will be able to gain 1 AP per point of Intellect as well, changing their ideal itemization. (This may actually increase the attack power of some shaman tier gear.) And there will be entirely new abilities open to shamans of all three talent builds. (As pointed out in the comments, we'll also get Earthliving Weapon.)
Please keep in mind that there will be changes to these trees. There's already discussion of changes to Anticipation, Shamanistic Focus and Windfury Weapon in recent blue posts and any such changes are inherently going to be reflected in patch 3.0.
Nesingwary's extinction plan (hasn't worked) - Thu, 28 Aug 2008 15:30:00 EST Players have been doing the math on the notorious Hemet Nesingwary (murderer of animals everywhere), and on the forums, Stubblez has figured out that if you follow all of Nesingwary's beast-killing instructions to the letter, you're responsible for murdering 278 of Azeroth and Outland's fauna. Of course, most players kill even more than that (and there are other quests that ask you to kill even more animals), but even if you take those total numbers and multiply them by the 10 million players Blizzard claims, you get two billion, seven hundred and eighty million animals, all slaughtered in the name of Nesingwary. And that doesn't even count alts.
Fortunately, as Neroblanc notes, all that killing hasn't actually thinned the Azerothian animal population at all -- if anything, the beasts in Stranglethorn Vale are herding thicker than they used to be. We'll have to nuke them from orbit just to get rid of all those Raptors down there.
But that, of course, doesn't keep the hippie animal lovers from fighting back -- as you might know by now, in the expansion Nesingwary is going to face some opposition in the form of D.E.H.T.A., or Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals. We have a feeling that Hemet's impeccable taste in leather and animal-skin based wear, not to mention his classic novel, probably won't be too much protection against the do-gooders.
Until now, this charming technique has been a well-kept secret, passed down through the ages to only the most devoted crafters and dark magicians. Use the knowledge contained herein to fabricate your very own WoW Trinkets. Here is what you will need:
Maybe not, but he's going to call out WoW anyway. In an interview with Videogaming 24/7, he claims that while he enjoyed World of Warcraft, EVE Online was for him personally the better game. He claims EVE has more depth than WoW, and is "a lot harder core." And he says that both games made him force himself to stop playing -- apparently they both just took too much time to play.
We've played both as well, and EVE certainly is a very deep and complex game (almost too complex for many players' tastes, we'd guess). But we'll leave the question of which game is actually better up to you. We will, however, point out that while lots of people have opinions about which games are best, not all of them are developers. If you have strong opinions about which games to play and not to play, shouldn't you be making even better games than the ones you don't like?
Fan offers custom-made BlizzCon badges - Thu, 28 Aug 2008 13:30:00 EST That Blizzard-issued BlizzCon badge not enough for you? Want something a little more customized for your character? Of course, if this year is anything like last year, Blizzard's badges will have some custom art on there (that's why they asked your character, realm, and favorite Blizzard game when you bought tickets), but just in case you want to go the extra mile, Shyka's got you covered.
She's offering custom art of your character to wear around at BlizzCon in October -- for $40 and a screenshot or two, she'll make a piece of custom art that she'll print laminate, and clasp right up for you just in time to show it off at the Anahiem Convention Center. Her art looks great -- no matter what your character is like, odds are that she can come up with something cool for you. Her schedule's way open as of this writing, too, so while the price may be a little steep (it is a custom, ready-made piece of art), you can probably jump right in and be sure to get one.
We'll tell you right now, also, that our WoW Insider folks will also be custom badged, so consider this your first invitation: if you see us walking around wearing a custom-made official WoW Insider badge (in addition to our standard BlizzCon passes), feel free to walk right up and say hello. We'd love to meet you.
Ever since we first heard about the spell, I have been without a doubt drooling over Army of the Dead. This level 80 Death Knight spell allows you to summon an army to your beck and call. In specific, it's a 6 second channel spell that summons several weak undead to taunt and fight your enemies. In addition, you take less damage equal to your dodge plus parry chance. It costs one of each basic rune type, and has a 10 minute 20 minute cooldown (You see how swiftly things change in the Beta?).
You can see the spell in action above (video found on Deathknight.info). You may notice some problems. For example, some the ghouls stand around and do nothing. In addition, the damage reduction on channeling does not seem to be working. Still, it's pretty cool seeing all those ghouls decend on the enemy, even if they are lowbie scarlets.
(Dell is holding a machinima contest, which we'll discuss shortly. They asked me to write a tutorial to help new machinimators get their start.)
Every day, I feature a video by some brave soul that dived in head first into the world of machinima. For those that aren't familiar with the term, it stands for machine and cinema. The literal definition is movies made in a 3D gaming platform. Using this basic guide, as well as the other tutorials and resources available to you, you'll be creating your first project in no time!
Here is what you'll need if you want to make a machinima for free:
Halaa is like a set of jumper cables. Most of the time, you don't care whether it's there or not -- but when you suddenly need access to it, it's the most important thing you can possibly think of. Borings, from the Dark Iron server, was recently forced to take Halaa alone. While waiting for the final cap, he felt moved to climb up the city's flag pole and proclaim his victory. His voidwalker, Tanggrave, seems to be even more excited. Why is his voidwalker called Tanggrave? According to Borings, "he is after all a big blue grave full of tang." Ah, the joys of Blizzard's random demon name generator. At least it's better than Krakho or Nublok..
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. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more sunsets.
With how fascinated players are with using Onyxia as a benchmark, it was only a matter of time before our new legions of Death Knights tried their hand at it. Scarblade, a poster from the MMO-Champion forums, seems to hold the prize for world first solo Onyxia kill by a Death Knight. At least, as far as we know, and as of the latest beta patch. Will it count when Wrath goes retail? Who knows? We're a fickle bunch. Either way, I sincerely doubt many others attempted this as a Death Knight before Scarblade, because running around doing those attunement quests on the beta realms must be brutal even at level 80. You're just going to have to do it all over again!
Still, Scarblade was a trooper and went through the whole ridiculous attunement process. He says he tried both Frost and Blood specs before ultimately settling on an Unholy build that won the day for him. Personally, I expected this kill to have been done using a deep Blood talent spec with how well they solo. I suppose Onyxia isn't the same as your random elite thug hanging out in the middle of a field somewhere, so it makes sense that what works there might not be best in Ony's Lair. Unholy does make sense though, controlling those whelps can make or break an Onyxia attempt no matter how many people you take with you. Unholy Blight is a beautiful thing.
Yes, Scarblade did earn an Achievement for killing the ol' gal. Two, actually. One for just plain killing her, and one for killing her solo.
Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.
Worms. We're not gonna mess up the pronunciation of THIS one. Yeeha!
But really, worms? Hunter pets? Tenacity pets?
Worm-Tanks, that's the concept Blizzard wants to sell us. Are you buying? How about you watch our little movie and then make up your mind.
You are invited to download the YouTube version (81MB) of this movie here, and the full-sized version (295MB) here. They're big files because the movie is almost ten minutes long; we wanted to give worms a fair-shake.
As always, a great big Thank You to the WoW Insider editors for allowing us to publish this movie both here and on our little blog at the same time!
Breakfast Topic: Getting to know your NPCs - Thu, 28 Aug 2008 08:00:00 EST One of the coolest things about the World of Warcraft are the various NPCs that we see all over the place. Players who've played Warcraft 3 get an extra thrill when meeting characters from the popular RTS, for example. There's Thrall in Orgrimmar, whose life story has been all over books and re-told in past Blizzard games. In Dalaran, the overrated Rhonin and his wife, whose lives have been chronicled over several Richard A. Knaak books, make an appearance. Lor'themar Theron first appeared in the Warcraft manga and subsequently showed up in Silvermoon City when The Burning Crusade was launched.
Of course, not all NPCs get the benefit of books or comics to tell their story. Our favorite Griftah only has his story told through the game. Then there are those NPCs whose origins come from somewhere closer to home -- real people who have made some impact on the game one way or the other. These include quest giver Ahab Wheathoof, who is an homage to young fan Ezra Chatterton, and Dalaran pet supplies vendor Breanni, who is a nod to the creator of the popular WarcraftPets site devoted to vanity pets. There are many, many more NPCs in the game world we all love. Whose story would you like to know more about? Is there an NPC that has piqued your curiosity? What could be the story behind the unassuming Kaja? How about we learn more about Cro Threadstrong and his hatred for apples? There are so many stories in WoW... which one would you like to hear?
It's not an iPhone Armory app, but Blizzard did release some official content for your mobile phones. They've set up a mobile.blizzard.com site, at which you can buy wallpapers and ringtones from WoW and the other Blizz franchises. At this point, you're probably asking yourself one question: can I get a murloc gurgle ringtone? The answer, thankfully, is yes. Yes you can. (Though I can't guarantee it's a good idea.)
There is a big catch: the ringtones are priced at $2.99 each. Yikes. I know ringtones are big business, and I know Blizz is all about the tie-ins, but this is foolishness. Who would pay this over recording an MP3 and sending it to their phone? The wallpapers are $1.99, which is equally dumb for something I could just as easily screenshot off Blizz's concept art pages and email to my phone. Also I can't find the USA or Canada on the list of countries; it seems, at least at the moment, that these are not available here.
It's a shame that these are so oddly expensive, and that they're not even available in the US, because some of them are pretty well-done. It would be awesome to play the WoW intro theme when my guildies text me to go raid. I guess I'll just have to make my own ringtone for it.