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Scott Andrews

Philadelphia, PA - http://www.wow.com/category/officers-quarters/

Scott has been playing WoW since 2004. He writes the WoW Archivist and Officers' Quarters columns.

Warlords of Draenor: New info from PAX East

Elekks on Draenor
PAX East 2014 has come and gone, but we at WoW Insider have come away from the weekend with juicy new information to share with you about Warlords of Draenor. During the expo, I sat down for a chat with senior game designers Steve Burke and Brian Holinka, lead class designer Kris Zierhut, and other developers.

In our brief time together, they told me some exciting info about garrisons, raiding, transmog, and the expansion's starting experience. They also provided insight into what a boosted level 90 will experience after the expansion launches.

Please note that mild spoilers about the early story of Warlords of Draenor will follow. Join me after the break for all the new info!

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Interviews, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: Talents have come full circle

Circle of Healing
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

The Warlords of Draenor patch 6.0 notes have revealed the latest changes to WoW's ever-evolving talent system. Talents have remained a core system in WoW since its earliest days, the primary method that allows players to make their characters distinct.

In the beta for WoW and throughout vanilla, talent trees were a bit of a mess, as Archivist covered. Today, we'll examine how those early trees came to be expanded, refined, and then scrapped for a very different system. We'll also look at how Warlords is bringing back the earliest version of talent trees in a brand new way.

The golden age of hybrids

Talent possibilities exploded during The Burning Crusade. Ten more levels granted players ten more points to assign. Players could now combine abilities in ways that vanilla's trees had never allowed, opening up exciting new gameplay paths.

Players didn't choose a specialization like they do today. Instead, they assigned points to three different "trees." Each tree represented a spec, but each also had talents that helped the other two specs as well. So players could pick and choose just how far down they wanted to go in a given tree, and thus how much to commit their character to one spec. "Hybrid" builds were not ideal from a min/max perspective, but they were popular. And TBC was the golden age of such builds.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Professions divorced from combat in 6.0

Armored draenei
The Warlords of Draenor 6.0 patch notes brought many surprises, but one of the biggest is that professions will no longer provide bonuses that affect combat.

Amidst the endless sea of notes, it's easy to miss these two sentences that will forever change the role of professions in WoW:
Warlords of Draenor: Alpha Patch Notes
Some of our goals with Professions in Warlords of Draenor are to make them more of a personal choice, and less of a mandatory "min/max" selection. To that end, we're removing the direct combat benefits of Professions.

For many years, theorycrafters and min/max'ers have baked profession bonuses into their calculations. The crit from skinning, the Synapse Springs of engineers, the eye gems of jewelcrafters, the warmer wrists of leatherworkers, etc. -- all of them have affected which professions are "best" for certain specs.

In recent expansions we've seen Blizzard try to make the bonuses more or less even across specs, with mixed success. Now, all of these bonuses are headed to the chopping block in patch 6.0, at least in their current incarnations.

Maxed-out professions will no longer be essential for high-end PvE or PvP activities. We will no longer need to weigh our personal preference against possible combat advantages. In fact, players will be able to skip leveling professions at all, if they choose, without penalty to their character's performance. This strikes me as a good change.

Will professions only provide an economic advantage from 6.0 on? Or will they give us other bonuses, such as extra lesser charms, bonus pet battle XP, or faster garrison construction? Will Blizzard tweak the existing combat-related recipes to provide different bonuses? Or will the developers remove them entirely? Many questions remain to be answered as the alpha progresses!

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: Warlords of Draenor hates The Burning Crusade

Draining a naaru
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

In many ways, The Burning Crusade was the birth of modern WoW. Most of TBC's innovations are still going strong in WoW today and have been ever since their introduction. Looking back, it's striking how many key features of WoW were absent in classic, only unveiled during the game's first expansion.

Even more striking, however, is how many of these innovations Warlords of Draenor seems poised to undo. Just as Garrosh will undo the transformation of Draenor into Outland, Warlords seeks to unravel most of what Blizzard innovated during TBC. The next expansion will take us through a portal into a very different WoW.

Archivist has now covered all the major patches of The Burning Crusade: patch 2.0.1, patch 2.0.3, patch 2.1, patch 2.2, patch 2.3, and patch 2.4. Now it's time to review the expansion as a whole -- and explore how Warlords will make most of TBC's innovations disappear into the nether.

Dawn of the quest hub

The idea seems so obvious it's hard to imagine that classic WoW actually didn't have quest hubs, at least not in the strict sense. WoW was the first MMO to promote the idea of leveling mainly through quests rather than grinding mobs. So Blizzard had no model to look at when they were designing the original quests.

In classic WoW, quests were put into the game wherever the developers thought they made sense, mostly from a lore perspective. Quests didn't necessarily guide you through a zone area by area. Quests were scattered, and their objectives were, too. They weren't breadcrumbs -- they were meant to be discovered. They didn't hold your hand -- they sent you on an adventure, like it or not.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

How Hearthstone won over a skeptical Magic veteran

New Hearthstone card backs
I started playing Magic: The Gathering in 1995. I've loved the game ever since a friend introduced me to it. I've played both face to face and online, in one-on-one tournaments and in 12-player free-for-alls. It's the only collectible card game I've ever committed myself to playing.

Then along came Hearthstone. I received an invitation to the closed beta. I gave it a few hours and then I dismissed it. I had a long list of reasons. The game was too simple. I felt helpless during my opponent's turn. I couldn't protect my most valuable creatures by keeping them out of combat. I didn't have enough interesting cards to develop the quirky strategies that I prefer in Magic.

A few weeks ago, on the advice of a fellow Magic player who had been playing Hearthstone nonstop since open beta, I gave it another shot. I tried to approach the game without my Magic prejudices. I soon discovered that Hearthstone has a lot more to offer than I first thought.

Here's how Blizzard won me over.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Hearthstone Insider

WoW Archivist: The battle for Hillsbrad

Fighting at TM
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Almost ten years later, people still talk about the Southshore versus Tarren Mill battles, the most infamous and celebrated world PvP in WoW history. They go on about how glorious it was, how they'd like to see that kind of intensity return to world PvP. It's not often, however, that they discuss the details.

If you want to know exactly what it was like to fight in those battles, keep reading. I lived it. My old tauren hunter still bears the scars. Pull up a bench and pour yourself a glass of ale. I will tell you about the war.

Why Hillsbrad?

Several places on Azeroth in classic WoW had two faction-specific towns in close proximity. You had Astranaar and Splintertree in Ashenvale. Arathi Highlands featured Refuge Pointe and Hammerfall. Theramore and Brackenwall squared off in Dustwallow Marsh. A few others had proximity also.

So why didn't any of these pairs become as legendary as Southshore and Tarren Mill? The fact is that battles did happen here -- some fairly major ones, too. World PvP ran rampant in the early days, even on PvE realms, and even before the honor system arrived to reward you for doing it.

Many raided faction villages for the simple joy of denying your enemy a stronghold, a questgiver, or a flight point. Such players sought out undefended towns, which these others often were, at least when you first struck.

Other players wanted resistance. They wanted to march forward as part of one vast army of players into an equally imposing force. They wanted the chaos, the rush, the endless bloodshed, the death cries of their foes echoing all around them. And they knew exactly one place you could find that experience, at virtually any hour of the day or night.

It had to be somewhere. Early forum threads began to buzz about such battles taking place. As word of mouth spread, more players wanted to make it happen on their own realm. It became the thing to do.

But why there?

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: WoW's 18 weirdest quest items

Rainbow!
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Adventuring in Azeroth has never been what some would call "conventional." The weird happens everyday for the heroes of the Alliance and the Horde. After all, we inhabit a world of talking walruses, and recreational marmot punting. But some quest items go above and beyond into the realm of the truly bizarre. In no particular order, here are my top 18.

1. Valoren's Shrinkage Totem

In a questionable mashup of Free Willy, Seinfeld, and a certain infamous subgenre of Japanese hentai, Wavespeaker Valoren asks you to use his "shrinkage totem" on the tentacle horrors imprisoning Wil'hai the whale shark. Why does Valoren carry such a thing around with him? It's better not to ask such questions.

As if we needed another reason to avoid questing in Vashj'ir, Blizzard went out of their way to remind us how all that cold water affects male genitalia. The totem works as advertised, and I can't help but feel a pang of sympathy for those tentacles when they shrivel up.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Officers' Quarters: Forging alliances for Mythic raiding

Weaponized Gronn
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

In the wake of Blizzard's announcement that Mythic raiding would only support 20-player raids, 10-player Heroic guilds have been left wondering how they will adjust. This week, one guild member wants to know how to manage a successful alliance with another 10-player raiding guild.

Hi Scott,

I'm a member of a small 10-man heroic raiding guild. We have been worried about the changes to raiding that are coming in Warlords of Draenor, since we are a very close-knit guild of friends. Most of us have been raiding together since early Wrath. We haven't been looking forward to recruiting 10+ more people, so we were thinking of resigning ourselves to running the new Heroic (current Normal) content and hoping not to get bored or lose too many members to other guilds.

We recently received the offer of a guild alliance from another 10-man heroic guild on our server.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

WoW Archivist: The evolution of Alterac Valley

This edition of WoW Archivist was originally published July 13, 2012. Given the Alterac Valley terrain changes introduced in patch 5.4.2, we felt this piece of Warcraft history is worth another look.

WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

The battle was nearly won. Back and forth, a 16-hour war between the Frostwolf Clan and the Stormpike Expedition had ravaged this once-remote valley. Towers and strongholds had been put to the torch. Countless heroes on both sides had fallen to blade and blast. A rampaging troll king had been defeated. Air strikes had rained fire from the sky. Elementals had been summoned and vanquished.

At last, but not without heavy losses, the Frostwolf orcs and their allies had fought their way across the narrow bridge to assault the final bastion of the dwarves. All had sworn to see Vanndar Stormpike dead that day and the valley seized. They would kill him or die in the attempt.

The AV "zone"

The original version of Alterac Valley went live with patch 1.5. Along with Warsong Gulch, these two Battlegrounds were the very first ever added to WoW. Warsong Gulch was designed to be a more traditional PvP experience that anyone who had played Unreal Tournament or Halo could recognize. Some matches could last for a while, but the experience was meant to be a short-term PvP engagement.

Alterac Valley, in its first incarnation, was absolutely nothing like that. AV was not, in any modern sense of the word, a Battleground. AV was a zone.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Officers' Quarters: The raid-aholic

Fighting the paragons
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

In this week's email, a raid leader has grave concerns about his guild leader, who puts personal performance and volume of raiding above the good of the guild.

Hi Scott

I'm a co-raid leader of a fairly successful raid team. Our guild leader describes himself as a raid-a-holic. It was something we used to tease him about but I'm now concerned it's becoming a problem.

He has never taken his turn sitting out on standby like the rest of us. He'll only ever accept being put on standby if it's farm night, and he doesn't need gear. My co-raid leader and I try and be absolutely fair on the confirms. When the GL was our top dps, it was an easy excuse to take him often, and then we didn't have to rock the boat.

Recently for the first time ever we standbyed him on progress night. That night there was just no other option unless we wanted to be grossly unfair and that was just a step too far. So we were fair and we standbyed him. As soon as he saw the calendar he went mad and started posting in /g, in /o, on battle tag status, on his twitter account which doubles as the guilds (where he posts all our kill videos), that he hoped we wiped all night, as the kill wouldn't count if he wasn't there.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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