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Hearthstone's November Ranked Play season ending soon

If you were hoping to earn the goblin-themed card back above, only two days remain to do it. As the reward for November's ranked play season, you must earn ranked 20 or better before the end of the month. As we've said previously, you can't lose stars (or ranking) until you've surpassed rank 20. Until then, you have nowhere to go but up.

Given the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion launches next month, we're curious to see whether December's card back will follow the tinker theme or if we'll see a Winter Veil aesthetic.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

My Garrison of Discontent

Is it possible to admire something as well designed, a really excellent piece of game design, yet resent that it exists? Because I feel that way about the Garrison.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying the Garrison is bad, because I honestly believe it's one of the most intriguing things World of Warcraft has ever done. Instead of something like player housing, they've made you the head of a base, a forward war camp on hostile alien terrain. In essence, your Garrison is the tip of the Horde or Alliance spear onto Draenor. It's brilliantly executed. The feature, with its outposts and the follower minigame and the buildings that grant specific benefits all ties together, and feels organic - it makes sense that your base of operations, cut off as it is from home (at least in terms of story) would do as much as it could to become a self-sufficient entity. Frankly, although we have Warspear and Stormshield over on Ashran, the Garrison feels more like the official Horde or Alliance capital, at least to me.

And yet I've grown to hate my Garrison in some ways.

Perhaps it's simply that the Garrison is too good at hooking into the rat brain and making it dance. There's always some reason to be concerned about it - if you want to make use of your Garrison to its fullest extent, there's ore to be mined or plants to be gathered or missions to send your followers on, resources to be collected, buildings to be upgraded. It feels like I'm never allowed not to be thinking about my Garrison.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor launch woes featured on BBC's Watchdog

We all remember the launch. Even Blizzard admits it wasn't the smoothest, to the point where we were offered five days off our subs and an apology from J. Allen Brack. That's not something Blizzard does very often anymore, and it signifies that yes, this was a pretty big deal in terms of launch screwups. Ironically, for some of us (like myself) it was a pretty smooth launch overall. But for some of us it was so bad that they complained to the BBC, as the above clip showcases.

Incgamers has a long article about the show Watchdogs on the BBC that goes into detail about the piece and its conclusions for the Warlords launch. I feel forced to agree that Watchdogs doesn't seem to have tried very hard here - their example of someone not being able to play WoW is someone on an ancient computer running around Ashran, and he's level 100, so... he played sometime. It's definitely an interesting time to be a World of Warcraft player, as the ten year old MMO seems to regaining cultural relevance with a vengeance lately. I don't think anybody's surprised that the launch troubles have been a highly discussed issue, but this seems like a new extreme to me.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: What's up with Gorehowl?

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

Those of you who had a holiday yesterday, I hope it was festive. Those that didn't, I still hope it was festive. I hope you had random festivities just happen because you're cool and you should get to be festive all the time.

Now let's talk about World of Warcraft. Our first question is one I've mused about before.

ChaosInHyrule asks:
do both Garrosh and Grom wield Gorehowl? if so, did Grom ever notice?

Yes, and yes, sort of. When Garrosh was transported to Draenor, he didn't have Gorehowl - he left that behind in the chamber the Heart of Y'shaarj was discovered in and where the forces of the Alliance and Horde faced the Sha of Pride. When Garrosh informed Grommash of what Gul'dan's offer would mean, the elder Hellscream wielded Gorehowl in the fight against Mannoroth. But when Garrosh took Grommash's place as Warlord of the Warsong Clan from Garroshar in Nagrand, he was using Gorehowl, and when we see Grommash in flashback scenes like the one in Shadowmoon Valley, he isn't using Gorehowl, which implies that he entrusted it to Garrosh along with the responsibility of leading the Warsong. So, since it seems that Grommash let Garrosh use Gorehowl, he probably did notice that Garrosh was using it.

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Around Azeroth: The simple joy of tormenting cats

"Who's a good kitteh?" asks submitter Riyahnasheed of The Evil League of Evil on Zul'jin (US-A). "You're a good kitteh! While finishing up quest lines in Spires of Arak, I found a quest that proves Blizzard has its share of cat aficionados. The Strange Crystal Shard is one of the most entertaining items I have had dropped in my bags. The only thing missing was a saberon butt-wiggle as she got ready to pounce on my impromptu laser pointer."

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: Have you tried Ashran?

First off, let me complain that I have a terribly hard time calling it Ashran - I always correct it in my head to Ashram, because, well, ashrams are real things. Anyway, Ashran is a really rather sophisticated mix of elements, a development in terms of PvP that reminds me of Wintergrasp, of the old days of Tarren Mill and Southshore, and of ancient never-ending Alterac Valley matches, but better than that sounds.

I've really only gotten my feet wet in Ashran so far, haven't had a chance to really throw myself into it. So I'm asking you guys - have you tried Ashran? What did you think of it? Did you like it, did you hate it, do you wish you could move there? Give me the head's up before I start getting serious on PvP again.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

PSA: Beware the Hearthstone Strategy Guide and Supreme Manual of Dance

Though Blizzard issued its own warning previously, but as we're still seeing players make irreversible mistakes they regret, we'd like to mention it again: be careful when using the Hearthstone Strategy Guide or Supreme Manual of Dance on your garrison followers. The Strategy Guide's tooltip reads Use: Teaches a follower the Hearthstone Pro trait. What it doesn't tell you is the Hearthstone Pro trait will replace one of your follower's current traits and you cannot choose what is replaced. Numerous players have used the item under the (reasonable) assumption that it will be added on to the current list of traits, losing something essential in the process. If you accidentally wipe out the Blacksmithing trait from a follower you intended for your forge, you might not be able to get another follower with that trait unless you build a level 2 inn and recruit one from the headhunter.

The Hearthstone Pro trait increases experience earned on follower missions by 35%, so it can be useful for leveling new followers, but be cautious where you use it. Similarly, the Dancer trait from the Supreme Manual of Dance is also useful, granting a follower the capacity to counter Danger Zones on missions. Note that Dancer is a trait and not an ability, meaning the follower who uses it will be able to counter 3 abilities rather than the typical maximum of 2. The Supreme Manual of Dance is an excellent thing to use on a follower dedicated to running missions and does not already have the ability to counter Danger Zones, but use it with care.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Deathrattle in Hearthstone's Goblins vs Gnomes

The Deathrattle mechanic was a major focus of Hearthstone's Naxxramas adventure pack. While it isn't the central theme of Goblins vs Gnomes, Blizzard's latest look at the upcoming expansion makes it clear there may yet be strong synergy with Deathrattle cards. The expansion preview highlights three cards in particular:
  • Feign Death Trigger all Deathrattles on your minions.
  • Lil' Exorcist Taunt. Battlecry: Gain +1/+1 for each enemy Deathrattle minion.
  • Scarlet Purifier Battlecry: Deal 2 damage to all minions with Deathrattle.
Feign Death (a Hunter card, naturally) has the potential to be extremely powerful -- not only with Naxxramas cards, but also with the Hunter's own Savannah Highmane, which is already a powerhouse unto itself. Savannah Highmane on the field with Baron Rivendare followed by Feign Death would result in a full board of minions. Lil' Exorcist and Scarlet Purifier seem more of a reaction to Naxxramas, a small balance to some of the adventure pack's more powerful cards, though your Scarlet Purifier triggering an opponent's Nerubian Egg might be bad news.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Know Your Lore: Ner'zhul and the breaking of the pact

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

This is one of those times when we're talking about the Warlords version of a character, and not the original. This is not the Ner'zhul we know - this is not the elder shaman who united the orc clans while being manipulated by Kil'jaeden. Although this Ner'zhul is certainly a respected shaman and the leader of the Shadowmoon Clan, he's not the same as the orc we know - he hasn't made the same choices. And yet, he is Nerzhul. The deathspeaker, the shaman who watched the stars and listened to the stories they told him.

On the Draenor we now explore, history has unfolded differently. Some things are the same - Ner'zhul's student turned on his master and sold his soul for demonic power, and attempted to lead the orc clans as a whole into slavery and a genocidal war against the Draenei. But on this world, Ner'zhul wasn't so easily deceived. There are differences between the worlds even before Garrosh Hellscream's arrival - and those differences, great and small, have led to a different Ner'zhul, who made different decisions, and brought about a dark destiny for the Shadowmoon Clan. Was it worse than the rise of the Old Horde? In some ways, of course it couldn't be - at least the orcish clans of Draenor still own their own souls.

All, perhaps, except Ner'zhul and the Shadowmoon.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Blood elves, battle pets, and poop


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the
World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky (@adamholisky) will be your host today.

I'm going to go clean myself up here, brush my teeth real gud, and get ready to eat.

Diet be damned, today is stuffing.

Zheo asked:

Tinfoil Hat QFTQ: Do you think with the release of whatever patch brings in the Blood Elf Model update we'll see Blood Elf content? I'm thinking that Blizz may take advantage and make a Blood Elf or High Elf content patch with dungeons/quests.

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Filed under: The Queue