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Breakfast Topic: What makes a great raid leader?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Raids are a tricky thing. You have to have good tanking, healing, and DPS in the right proportions, people who listen and prepare and pay attention. You have to get those people online and motivated at the same time, and you have to be able to learn from your mistakes and change your strategy for the better. Most important of all, I think, you need a great raid leader.

When I first joined a raiding guild in BC, I was thrilled with the raid leader. He was Australian, so it was great listening to his accent over Ventrilo. I remember him as being very cool-headed and completely on top of what was going on each pull. If we wiped, he'd tell us what had gone wrong and what we were going to do to fix it, and he led us to many victories. He played a tank, a tiny gnome warrior with a shield nearly as big as he was, but he had alts of almost every class and he knew all their abilities perfectly. When he eventually decided to leave WoW due to real-life issues just at the start of Ulduar, the guild tried to go on without him, but it just wasn't the same. I eventually left and went through a few guilds with mediocre raid leaders before finally founding my own. Now I'm once again lucky enough to have a great raid leader, a paladin tank who studies the fights, analyzes the data, keeps his cool and quarterbacks our raids to victory.

What are the qualities that you look for in a great raid leader? Do you need someone calm and relaxed, or does a fiery raid leader push your performance to the next level? Is raid role (tank, healer, DPS) a factor in a leader's quality?

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Breakfast Topic: What's your favorite piece of music in WoW?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

World of Warcraft is a game with great sound and great sound design. Players might not always notice it, but for those of us who play with the music on, these themes can really set the tone for the game. Ashenvale music never fails to remind me of my first foray into the zone; after Darkshore, which was a bit bleak, my baby druid stepped into Ashenvale and it seemed like all of Azeroth opened up, wide and colorful and filled with swelling orchestral tracks. Though the game world seems much smaller to me now, I still remember that moment whenever I hear the Ashenvale theme.

My favorite piece of WoW music, however, has got to be the one in Mulgore. I play mainly Alliance, so I don't go there often, but every time I visit the zone for the Darkmoon Faire or head to Thunder Bluff for some holiday achievement, I'm struck by the beauty and tranquility of the Mulgore music. It really fits the environment, and it never fails to relax me when I fly through. The slow, soft yearning reminds me of the Tauren people and their culture, while the undercurrent of tension hints at the conflict brewing in the world outside that secluded valley.

What's your favorite piece of WoW music? Does it remind you of a particular time or a nostalgic feeling, or is it the pure beauty of the composition that you admire? When do you feel the WoW music is at its most epic?

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Breakfast Topic: Should Blizzard take away earned titles and rewards?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

When patch 4.0.6 hit, I logged into the game excited and eager to see all of the new changes. The first thing that I noticed was that I was no longer The Exalted, a title I'd worked hard to achieve, but had somehow been demoted to Chef. Strange. Maybe Blizzard just reset everyone's titles. I went through my title collection, intending to turn The Exalted back on, and saw that it had been removed entirely. I checked my achievements. I still had 40 exalted reputations, but it no longer conferred a title; nor did 45 exalted reputations, which I don't have yet. The Exalted was my favorite title and the one I wore at all times. What had Blizzard done with it?

Turns out that unlike other achievements and rewards, which stay with you once you've earned them, Blizzard has made the decision to move this title, taking it away from those who had earned it previously. As I understand it, you can get your title back once you've hit 50 exalted reputations, which seems to be the new standard, but it sounds like Blizzard plans to take the title away again every time it adds a new batch of reputations.

Personally, I think that's a terrible idea. Other rewards aren't rescinded when something new comes along. Stinker, the reward for collecting 50 companion pets, was not magically unlearned when the 75 pet achievement was released. Ulduar drakes did not vanish into smoke when ICC drakes came around. Yes, it's true that Blizzard picked the perfect title for The Exalted, and anything else would be inferior. That doesn't diminish the efforts of the people who already worked for it.

What do you think? Was removing the title (and changing it to the 50 reputations achievement) the right thing to do? Or did Blizzard drop the ball on this one?

Should Blizzard have pulled The Exalted title and changed its requirements?
Yes, the decision was appropriate.2662 (18.6%)
No, players who earned the title should have kept it and another title should have been chosen for a new achievement.11660 (81.4%)




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Breakfast Topic: What made you decide to get an authenticator?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Once again, Blizzard is encouraging its players to use authenticators to protect their Battle.net accounts. In addition to the incentive of a lovable Core Hound Pup pet provided to all World of Warcraft characters on an account that has an authenticator attached, there is now a contest going on to win an iPad for your best Core Hound Pup screenshot, and we've even received reports that free authenticators are being offered to owners of accounts that have previously been compromised. Still, incentives alone aren't enough for some players. Sometimes it takes an incident to drive the point home.

For me, it was a hacking scare involving my girlfriend's account. We had just resubbed to WoW in preparation for Cataclysm and were having a blast when she got a notification from Blizzard that her account had been locked due to an unauthorized break-in. Nothing was gone, no items destroyed, no gibberish-named level 1s created, but she did have to change her password and verify to Blizzard that she was still herself. She was playing on a Mac, used Adblock and had disabled Flash on her browser, and she only visited a handful of websites on a daily basis, all very innocuous places like Gmail and WoW Insider. We figured it was an isolated incident, but just to make sure, she wiped her hard drive and reinstalled WoW. Then, a week later, it happened again. I couldn't believe it, and I still don't know how or why she was targeted, but I ordered our authenticators the very next day. We haven't had a problem since.

What convinced you to get an authenticator? Was it a contest, a promotion by Blizzard, or a hacking scare? If you don't have an authenticator yet, what's holding you back?

Breakfast Topic: Achievements that should have been

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The advent of achievements changed the game of WoW in many ways. Not only do they provide recognition for time and devotion put into the game, such as the Loremaster or Justicar achievements, but in Wrath content and beyond, they can actually change players' approaches to game encounters. Consider the meta achievements for the Wrath raids. Who would have actually tried downing Sartharion with all three drakes alive if there had been no reward? Achievements prompt us to try more daring or difficult strategies for boss fights, do crazy or counterintuitive things in PvP combat, or run headlong into live mine fields. They also allow Blizzard developers to work in hard modes for certain bosses, giving them a scaling difficulty that provides accessibility for casual players and challenge for the hardcore.

So what about the vanilla and BC encounters? With a few notable exceptions, classic and Burning Crusade content has not received the achievement treatment.

If achievements had been part of WoW from the beginning, what would they have been like? Which crazy boss strategies deserved their own achievements in classic and BC encounters? Have you ever done something awesome in older content and thought, "Man, that should have been an achievement"?

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Breakfast Topic: How do you cope with muggles who don't "get" WoW?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

We have a hunter in our guild whose mother does not understand World of Warcraft at all. She's the type who doesn't use computers, refused to have an internet connection in the house until this very year, and thinks that MMOs sound the death knell for her hopes of having grandchildren. My friend the hunter has painstakingly explained that raids are a group activity, that there are real people behind the colorful avatars, and that it's not polite to jump up and leave in the middle of fighting a raid boss -- to no avail. The mother still doesn't understand what could be so compelling on a computer screen that her child can't be at her beck and call.

We all know people who are not WoW players, and most of us have had the experience of trying to explain our favorite game to someone who just doesn't get it, whether that someone is a parent, a significant other, a coworker, or a friend. My own efforts have met with varying results. My family still can't quite wrap their heads around a gaming hobby, but after much persuading I was able to convince my last girlfriend to give WoW a try. She's a valued guildie to this day.

Have you ever had to explain your World of Warcraft hobby to the uninitiated? What was the hardest thing for them to understand? What kind of reaction did you get? Have you convinced any of them to try the game themselves?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: What post-launch game features do you most appreciate?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

World of Warcraft has been up and running for six years now, and to anyone who played in the early days, the game is barely recognizable. I'm not talking about the Shattering; I'm talking about the meat of the game, the interface and UI and mechanics that allow us to interact with Azeroth. Blizzard is a great innovator, and over the years we've gained such features as battlegrounds, linked auction houses, meeting stones, heroic dungeons, arenas, the dungeon finder, heirlooms, and the in-game calendar. None of these were present at launch, but they all affect our playstyles today.

These are all great, but that doesn't mean I stop daydreaming about what else Blizzard could do. I love the armory calendar view, but I'd be thrilled if the Blizzard calendar integrated with my Google calendar so I could see raids and guild events alongside my real-life schedule. I also yearn for variable speed scrolling quest text. Instant text encourages me to skip to the end, but the scrolling option is vastly slower than my reading speed, and I just can't handle it.

Which feature added after launch do you think was the biggest game-changer and why? What new innovations would you like to see? Which new Cataclysm features do you think will have the greatest impact on the way we play?

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Breakfast Topic: What makes a guild great?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

With the advent of Cataclysm, Blizzard has dramatically improved guild functionality in World of Warcraft. We have an updated guild UI, new rank options to allow guild masters more control, guild reputation, guild vendors, guild levels, and guild perks. It's fair to say that the guild is more important to the WoW experience than ever. It stands to reason, therefore, that players expect more from their guilds than ever before.

The new expansion is also a huge time for guild recruitment. Lately, you can't step into trade chat without being bombarded by guild advertisements. Maybe you've been shopping around for a new home, or maybe you're a recruiter trying to bring new players into your own guild. Either way, you probably know what you like -- and what you don't like -- in a guild.

Personally, I love my guild. It's a mixture of everything I enjoy about WoW: raiding, PvP, achievement hunting, and altoholism. We put personality before GearScore and encourage new players to raid with us so that they can learn and get better. However, that's not everyone's cup of tea. Many hardcore raiders would get frustrated if they had to put up with less experienced group members, and many guilds prefer to focus on one type of content (raiding, PvP, leveling, roleplaying) and hone their skills in that area.

So what's the magic formula for you? If you're in a great guild, what makes it awesome? If you're searching for a new guild, what are you looking for? What stands out for you in guild advertisements, and what do you think is the best way to recruit players to a guild?

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Cataclysm Daily Quests, Part 5: Uldum, Twilight Highlands and daily priorities

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Welcome to part 5 of the epic guide to Cataclysm daily quests! Previously, we discussed profession dailies, Therazane dailies, Tol Barad permanent dailies, and Tol Barad dailies received by the faction in control of Tol Barad. Today, we'll wrap up the last few dailies in Uldum and Twilight Highlands and then discuss getting the most out of your Cataclysm daily limit.

Uldum dailies There are only two dailies in Uldum, one infinitely preferable to the other. The first is a short, sweet, entertaining quest called Thieving Little Pluckers. It's fast, fun to do, located near the center of Uldum where you port in, and awards 150 reputation with Ramkahen, otherwise known as the guys who'll sell you a camel when you hit exalted.

The other, Fire From the Sky, is the daily version of the quest by the same name that is part of the Harrison Jones quest line. This was hands down the most broken, miserable quest I had to do on my way to 85. It involves using a cannon vehicle to shoot slow-moving bombs at tiny, moving soldiers on a large map. Initially, all players shared the available mobs; grouped players' kills did not count for other group members; and worst, you couldn't see any bombs except your own. The group you'd been oh so carefully targeting would blow up seconds before your bomb hit, leading to massive nerd rage.

Luckily, this has been hotfixed. Mobs are still shared, but group kills count for everyone, and all players' bomb targets are visible on the map. I still advise skipping it as soon as you get the associated achievement.

Read more →

Filed under: Cataclysm, Guest Posts

Cataclysm Daily Quests, Part 4: Tol Barad proper


This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Welcome back to the fourth installment of this comprehensive guide to Cataclysm daily quests! In the first article, we discussed the basics of dailies and the profession dailies in capital cities. In part 2, we covered the Therazane dailies in Deepholm. Then in part 3, we went over the permanently available dailies in Tol Barad Peninsula. Today, we'll pick up where we left off and talk about the dailies obtained when your faction is victorious in the battle for Tol Barad, as well as the rewards available.

Read more →

Filed under: Cataclysm, Guest Posts

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