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Breakfast Topic: Alt-o-holism bad for WotLK?

Players who like leveling alts - or alt-o-holics - may find leveling in the first few levels of the WotLK expansion difficult.

With the accessibility of epics from badges and Arenas, the average level 70 character is now a far cry from a freshly-minted 70. The gear bar has certainly been raised among level 70s, compared to pre-BC 60s. This has led some to proclaim that "epics are the new blue."

Despite the proliferation of "welfare epics", there are still level 70 characters who are in their leveling blues and greens. They typically belong to alt-o-holics or really casual players who simply do not invest enough time to gear them up in pace with the general populace.

Some alt-o-holics even put their characters, mains or otherwise, into cold storage as soon as they ding 70 and move on to leveling a new alt. No Arenas, no heroics and certainly no raids for them. There's nothing wrong with avoiding the "endgame" really, but the gear level of their toons will be unavoidably lower than someone who chooses to focus on just one or two characters. Of course, there are alt-o-holics who do a good job of gearing up multiple 70s; if you're one of them, more power to you.

If Blizzard tunes the difficulty of the inital WotLK game to the "average" 70 with epics, will undergeared 70s and alt-o-holics be left in the dust?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Leveling, Alts

Blood Sport: Arena Season 4 in early June?

V'Ming has freed himself from the duct tape and still thinks that gnome warlocks need to be KOSed. He shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas and dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.

WoW players are ravenous. The dust of patch 2.4 has barely settled and we are already looking forward to the next thing on the WoW calendar before the expansion lands - Arena Season 4. If Blizzard thinks we'd ever be content with their content rollouts, they are seriously underestimating the appetite of 10 million subscribers.

After Kalgan killed expectations of Season 4 coming with patch 2.4, the big question on the minds of many players, whether they're saving honor for S2 gear or waiting to replace their Vengefuls with Brutals, is: when is Season 4?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, PvP, Contests, Raiding, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Arena

Blood Pact: Dressing for the occasion

After a serving a short stint with the intern babes - involving tape and piñatas - V'Ming returns to laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's rocking SSC and TK with his 0/21/40 build and still bragging about consecutive 8k shadow bolts.

Your comments in my previous Badge loot shopping article got me thinking about warlocks having multiple outfits, just like tanks and hybrids. Warlocks usually serve a single role - DPS - so our outfits aren't generally as dramatically diverse as what a druid, for instance, might pack.

After accumulating a bunch of epics with varying stats, most of us have moved beyond the "one outfit for everything" situation. In fact, I'd say we're spoilt for choice now and can afford to use the right gear for the right situation.

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Filed under: Warlock, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Latest MMO pop report shows a WoW growth spurt

This is old news really: we all know that there are 10 million of us playing Blizzard's MMORPG juggernaut. In MMOGChart's latest report however, there appears to be a little growth spurt in the early part of this year.

This is surprising when we consider the fact that WoW is three years old. In the video and computer game business, three years is considered "old", even for a game that is constantly updated. Other games would usually see a tapering off in terms of population growth at this stage. Not only is market-dominating WoW bucking the trend, it's actually enjoying a surge in its population!

Is this growth spike the result of anticipation for Wrath of the Lich King? Probably so, according to MMOGChart: "There appears to be a slight acceleration of growth a month or two before the release of an expansion, which then continues for approximately 3-6 months afterwards." With the unprecedented size of WoW's playerbase, we can probably expect the hype to be built up a lot sooner than "a month or two".

The report has gone on to break down WoW's existing 10 million subscribers by territory:

  • North America: 2.5 million
  • Europe: 2 million
  • Asia: 5.5 million (primarily China)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions

About the Bloggers: V'Ming Chew

Twice a week, our writers will tell you more about themselves, and let you get to know them and the characters they play a little better. Click here to read more About the Bloggers.

What do you do for WoW Insider?

I'm the columnist for both Blood Pact and Blood Sport. Coincidence?

What's your main right now?

My main is an orc Warlock - currently destro - in gear from Karazhan, Gruul's Lair and the Arenas.

For the Horde or Glory to the Alliance?

For the Horde!! I did dabble a little on The Other Side, but decided that Horde (on my server at least) was a little friendlier. I also can't stand being surrounded by short people, having the irrepressible urge to punt a certain dimunitive race ...

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Filed under: About the Bloggers

Blood Pact: Badge loot shopping!

Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.

I don't know about you, but the first thing I'm going to do when patch 2.4 goes live AND when Smith Hauthaa becomes available (added for clarity) will be to spend my hard-earned badges on some new shiny loot. I've been wearing my Frozen Shadoweave Robe since forever (no luck with Magtheridon for my T4 - *cry*), and frozen or not, the dress is smelling a little ... musty.

Gearing up, as we know, is serious business and I'll walk through my Warlock loot decisions here with you. We also know that the new 2.4 badge loot is pretty expensive, and with a finite amount of badges, players need to make some hard buying decisions - which is the fun part really. Personally, I evaluate each item based on the following criteria:
  • Incremental upgrade vs existing gear, keeping set bonuses in mind: Duh.
  • Future progression: Will I be replacing this piece one week from now with drops, PvP gear or other loot?
  • Cost: Can I get two cheaper pieces to get a greater upgrade than a single expensive piece? The cost of enchanting and gemming the new pieces should also be taken into account.
  • Last but not least, looks! How will the new piece fit in with the rest of my wardrobe?

Now let's look at the shiny purples!

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Filed under: Warlock, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Guides, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Sport: Hitting the brick wall of 1800

V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.

You've formed your ideal Arena team. You have great expectations and diligently put in time and effort to claw your way up the ratings. You dust yourself off after defeats and trudge on, knowing that great things will come your way if you persist.

Gradually your team rating improves, and the sweet taste of victory more than makes up for the disappointment of defeats. You move past 1600, and 1700 eventually. You notice that victories are becoming scarcer, and defeats seem a lot more painful. Your team hits 1800 - woot! - and suddenly match wins seem to all but dry up - and your weekly matches start to feel like exercises in futility.

Welcome to hardcore Arena - where your opponents are much more likely to be decked out in full Season 3 gear and less likely to give you an "easy" win. You start to run into a lot more cookie-cutter comps - you know, the ones you read about here. The queues are long but the matches are short - and you've run out of encouraging or witty things to say to your team while waiting. It's almost an awkward, seething silence between matches, and the game becomes a test of patience. "Did I sign up for this?" You ask yourself.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Guides, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Arena

Kil'jaeden makes first appearance in screenshot?

Boubouille from MMO-Champion has recently posted this "leaked" screenshot of Kil'jaeden in-game. According to the sender, this shot of Sunwell Plateau's final boss was leaked from a GM.

"Keep in mind that it could be a fake, it's not "that" hard to get the 2.4 running on an emulated server and spawn Kil'jaeden, in this case his scale on live servers could be different," warns Boubouille.

Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, as we all know, is the eredar Supreme Commander of the Burning Legion, perhaps only second to Sargeras in the badass pecking order. With his appearance in-game and a chance for 25 intrepid mortals to "take him down", the lore implications are interesting. Granted, we only get to deal with "half" of him (the rest of him is submerged in the Sunwell), but lore-inclined raiders will certainly be itching to take a shot at him, at least until Arthas/Ner'Zhul/the Lich King makes an appearance in WoTLK.

I'm not certain of the authenticity of the screenshot myself, but Killie definitely looks constipated and evil enough here to be the real deal.

Filed under: Patches, News items, Screenshots, The Burning Crusade, Bosses, NPCs, Rumors

Blood Pact: Warlock tips and tricks

Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.

The internet is a beautiful thing. It gives everybody a voice and an easily accessible goldmine of human ingenuity and intelligence. (It is also a repository of human scum and stupidity, but we're not going there today.) As a warlock player, there are TONS of resources out there that you can use to improve your game. Unfortunately many of these resources are scattered far and wide - and it takes a certain deftness with search engines to separate the wheat from the chaff, or simply to find what fits your playstyle.

So, for the benefit of the newly initiated and the time-challenged, I'll start and maintain this list of tried and tested Warlock tips, from the frivolous to the essential. I will not claim credit for these tips, but humbly serve as the chronicler of community content in this case, and will give due credit wherever possible. If you have pet tips that you swear by as a Warlock, please feel free to share them - and I'll add it to this list after the jump.

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Filed under: Warlock, Tips, Tricks, Cheats, PvP, Add-Ons, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Blood Pact: Warlocks are red, mages are blue

Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.

One of the most enduring and fiercest rivalries in WoW is the bitterness between mages and warlocks. I'll like to characterize my relationship with Mage friends to be one of friendly, respectful rivalry. In fact, Christian Belt - our Mage columnist - will be my guest here today to offer his side of the story in beautiful italics.

By now, many mage players would have dabbled in at least a little warlocky DoT-slinging, and the converse is probably true. If you haven't, go on - roll a Mage or a Warlock, I'll wait.

So there really isn't any grounds for misconceptions when it comes to the abilities of both classes, and we should all live in contented peace. Or is there?

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Filed under: Mage, Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, (Warlock) Blood Pact