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Arena talent guide for baby mages

Shaan on the European forums has taken the time to write out a guide to building a mage Arena spec. Although the guide itself is not new, the information within it is still extremely valuable. Now, while PvP pros out there probably know all this information, this is the sort of post that gives me the massive amount of information I need as an Arena beginner. Think of the thread as a spec buffet, only each dish is laid out with pros, cons, and a rating on a scale between 1 and 10.

Shaan not only talks about PvP builds in the thread, he also gives some pretty sound advice for those of us new to Arena battles. For example, he suggests using rank 1 spells for many of the standard mage actions: Polymorph, Frost Nova, rank 1 Frostbolt and rank 1Cone of Cold keybound for kiting. Yes yes, I realize that you've already got a 1800 rating and this is all baby stuff to you, but there are plenty of us out there that simply need direction when it comes to the Arena, myself included. It's a good enough guide that Salthem recently added it to the useful mage sticky thread, which is how I found this gem of a guide. Do you have any suggestions to add to the guide now that Patch 2.3 is changing things up a bit?

Filed under: Mage, PvP, Talents

Warcraft the TV show

I'm sure that many of us would like to have more WoW time in our day. That's the reason I started reading WoW Insider, so that I would be able to be as close to the game I love while I was doing the annoying part -- working to pay for my subscription and the utility bills that run my computer. Now this doesn't mean I spend the majority of my day perusing the latest theorycraft threads trying to figure out the best spell rotation for a 5v5 arena battle versus one warrior, two shammies, a priest and a rogue. What it does mean, however, is that I look for interesting ways to tap into WoW when I am not able to log in.

So when Ray tipped us off that there was a new Justin.TV channel where I could watch someone level a character all the way to 70, I wasn't all that surprised. Sure it might sound a little strange to watch someone else play, but really, don't we do this all the time in real life? I know I have more than once sat down to watch another person run an instance I wasn't a part of. That's how I experienced the Sunken Temple for the first time. WoW Adventures runs without a specific schedule, so you will have to catch it when it's playing. I assume this is because Gelu Nex enjoys sleeping and eating on occasion, and I suspect might also need to do the annoying work part. If you would like to watch someone else play the game when you aren't able to, stop by WoW Adventures and perhaps we can nail down exactly how long it takes to get to 70.

[thanks Ray!]

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Leveling

Mysterious Mysteries: What's that NPC about?

Recently on an research mission in Dun Morogh (read starting yet another alt) I came across Father Gavin, an elderly gentleman standing in the Dwarven starting area with a pleasant enough expression on his mustachioed face. What makes Father Gavin so very intriguing is not what we know about him -- he wears the tabard of the Argent Dawn, and I must assume is the Dwarves first introduction to the human race in Azeroth -- but what we don't know about him, which is just about everything else. Looking this fellow up on WoW Wiki yeilds little more than a description of his location, because, really well, there's no quest line connected to him.

There are a couple NPCs out there who seem to be disconnected from society in a way Tabatha the recluse could never hope to be. How about my favorite Wetlands cipher Terl Arakor? According to WoW Head he was supposed to be a vendor, but his only use these days appears to be keeping his wagon from rolling away and providing the Horde with an easy source of wool cloth. Was he once a sheep perhaps?

There are stories out there for these people, but we can't seem to find them. What exactly is the story behind Jane and Nova (besides the obvious Final Fantasy 7 reference) trying to wake their father on the shores of Eversong Woods? Perhaps he was on a bender, and will wake up with a Thrall-sized headache just about the time the Sunwell raid instance opens. Have you seen any NPCs that seemed to have a name, seemed to have been meant to be linked to quests that no one is able to get?

Filed under: Odds and ends, NPCs

Series 1 Warcraft action figures on sale yesterday announced that the Series 1 World of Warcraft Action Figures are now in stores and ready to fill up your Christmas shopping list. Series 1, created by DC Unlimited, currently has five figures in it, and they are exquisite in their detail. These are high quality babies with multiple points of articulation, and I know I am definitely going to want to get me a set.

Comic book stores across the country currently have them in stock and ready to take home, or if you prefer, stop by your local Toy-R-Us. I did a little web digging and found that they are also available on for about $12.00, although they are listed as a Pre-Order item still, so you might have to wait a couple of weeks on an Internet purchase.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard

Will merging servers help low pop realms?

When the subject of low population realms comes up, some people suggest the ultimate way to fix the problem is to merge servers. On the surface it looks like the perfect solution. If you have two servers struggling with low populations, mixing them together would create one medium population server. Problem solved. Not really.

Coriel on Blessing of Kings mentions that the real problem isn't simply the low population, it's also player retention. Hardcore gamers leave the low population realms to go where they can achieve their goals, namely raiding end-game content (I would also add high -level PvP to this.) Simply having more bodies to a server won't keep that player there. Coriel's analogy of server buckets with holes is a valid one. The only thing that keeps a hardcore player on a server is a guild (or arena team) that can get them where they need to go. The guild is the plug that keeps the leaky bucket full.

Read more →

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion

March of the loot cards

We've heard for a while now about the new TCG loot items coming into the game. Upper Deck today made a formal announcement about the three loot cards available with the March of the Legion set soon to be released. It only makes sense that we talk about these. When you hear about any new battle you're about to fight, your first inclination is to find out what items you'll receive. Let's take a look at our loots, shall we?

The first Legion Loot card available with March of the Legion is the Paper Airplane. This is exactly as much fun as it sounds. The code is turned in for the paper airplane manual, an on-use item that creates either paper zeppelins or paper gyrocopters. It's a 50/50 chance which one you'll get. What's the point of these? Why paper airplane fights of course! Throw them at your friends, and best of all, since you can keep several in your bag at once, you can throw a bunch at once and no one will suspect a thing until they see them soaring through the air.

Read more →

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items, WoW TCG

Christie Golden talks with The Shadow Council Strider

Christie Golden, author of the Warcraft novels Rise of the Horde and Lord of the Clans, sat down to answer questions with The Shadow Council Strider. For several weeks readers submitted questions via email, and Christie was kind enough to respond to them in an article published today. We learn that Christie will be writing more novels in the Warcraft universe, having just signed a contract for a trilogy.

The discussion I found most fascinating in this first part of the article series had to do with Christie's access to The Burning Crusade. Basically the reader wanted to know if she had influence over the game design of Outland, or if her stories were wrapped around the content that was already put into the game. As it turns out, while most of the world was already in place when Christie was hired on, she did get to flush out some concepts in Outland, particularly having to do with Oshu-gun and that Ata'amal crystals. Because she had already finished her first draft, several of the creatures she created in the novel were put into the game, for instance the majestic Talbuk.

The last two questions had to do with Christie's life as a writer. Christie talked about her "Trunk novel," that first book she wasn't able to sell, and the subsequent novels she did publish that were set in the same universe. Because of her non-fiction writing and editing experience with USA Today she wasn't new to dealing with selling the written word. It's interesting to note that Christie never wrote fan fiction for WoW, which is certain surprising considering how well she writes about the world of Azeroth. When asked about suggestions for those new to writing, her advice to new writers was to write as often as you can, and also spend some time outlining to better plan out your work.

The next section of the Q & A is due out soon, and I'm definitely eager to find what else she has to say. If you had a question for Christie Golden, what would it be?

Filed under: Blizzard, Lore, Interviews

PTR Patch notes for Sunday, Nov. 4

WorldofRaids is reporting today on a couple significant changes in the most recent patch uploaded to the PTR. First and foremost, a major change to the guild bank system. Earlier we let you know that it would cost mucho gold to purchase all storage tabs available to a guild. Now we hear that tabs 5 and 6 have had their costs reduced by 50%, making their prices now 2.5k and 5k gold respectively. It sounds like the devs are listening to the feedback they are receiving from the players.

In addition to the great news about guild banks, WorldofRaids is confirming what we already reported about the pet buff food Kibler's Bits coming in Patch 2.3. It looks like my hunter will have to work on her cooking skills after all.

Also of note is a change to PvP combat. Silence and Interrupt are now affected by diminishing returns when used on PvP targets. This is welcome information for the arena fighters among us, knowing that your spells will eventually break down an interrupt or silence.

I don't know about you, but these look like finishing touches to me. I am crossing my fingers that we will see the patch on Tuesday. Yeah, I said I'm crossing my fingers, but I am sure as heck not going to hold my breath.

Filed under: Patches

Running PUGs for the guild

The PUG has been a subject of several discussions lately, on WoW Insider and elsewhere. Today WoWGrrl wrote about how PUGs might be used to help out your guild. I can hear you, gentle reader, exclaim from the other side of the blog, but I am in a guild so that I don't have to run PUGs, so that I will always have people to group with. Yes, I know, but hear me out.

WoWGrrl explains that PUGs are an excellent way to add new guild members to your roster, since for the most part they consist of people who have never grouped before running an instance together. I know from personal experience that much of my guild recruitment in the early days was based in PUGs: a few of us would run an instance, find a player with a great sense of humor who knew their class well, and we would invite them to join us. If we were charming enough as a group, proved we could work together, then every great once in a while that person deigned to join our guild.

Once you're in the guild, however, the tendency is to try to get guild-only runs. After all, you joined the guild for support, right? Only a guild is made up of people of varying levels and interests, and while sometimes guild runs will fall magically into place, more times than not you're left feeling like guild chat is your own worst version of the LFG. This is where the PUG comes in. Where the guild might only be on at certain times, looking to work on specific tasks, a PUG is more consistently available. I say this because mathematically, there are more people who are out of your guild than people in your guild.

Reading WoWGrrl's discussion has reminded me that PUGs can be useful tools even when you are in a guild. Heck, they even strengthen the guild itself when done consistently. I think I'll log in and start a recruiting PUG of my own.

Filed under: Guilds

Baron Soosdon talks about TFH

For those of you who are fans of Baron Soosdon -- those of you, who am I kidding? -- for those of us who are fans of Baron Soosdon, his blog on Friday gave us a peek into his creative process. He sat down to discuss the making of his Halloween machinima The Fifth Horseman.

The inspiration for the film, he says came quite soon after the Halloween machinima contest was announced. He had been thinking of creating something dark, based on psychological thriller and horror movies. Of the rushed feel of the film, he says that inspiration to finish did not come until late in the project, and can be reflected in the final product.

I have always been curious about exactly how movies like this are made. Baron mentions that he filmed most of this piece in game, with only partial usage of the model viewer at the end. Therefore he considers this a very simplistic film technology-wise, and that simplicity comes through in the atmosphere and mood.

It's also interesting to note that is considering redoing this movie, perhaps adding film noir narration. I would love to see this, because as beautiful as this film was, it felt disjointed in parts and I wasn't sure where it was going. Giving some narration to it might give it the focus it was missing.

Filed under: Machinima