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Filed under: BlizzCon

Hearthstone World Championships announced for BlizzCon 2014

BlizzCon 2014 was announced earlier today and details for events at the convention have been trickling out since. The Hearthstone World Championship will pit 16 of the world's best players against one another: 4 from the Americas, 4 from Europe, 4 from China, 2 from Korea, and 2 from Taiwan.

The official Hearthstone site has the full details of the event, including how qualifying players will be chosen, which differs from region to region. It's interesting to note that some participants will be drawn from community-run events. The full rules for the event, however, have not yet been released.

Filed under: BlizzCon, Hearthstone Insider

BlizzCon 2014 on the way?

Sharp eyes over at MMO-Champion discovered a small change to a page on the official BlizzCon site yesterday. The Terms and Conditions section of the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket page has been updated to read BlizzCon 2014 on the header title. At this time, there doesn't appear to be any other adjustments made to any page on the site -- not even in the Terms and Conditions itself, which still lists the year as 2013.

While this is by no means any kind of a definite confirmation that we'll be seeing another BlizzCon this year, it's the first sign we've seen of another event happening. Statements made at a panel at BlizzCon 2013 indicated that Blizzard very clearly didn't want to take another year off from the event. This year marks not only the tenth anniversary of World of Warcraft, but the twentieth of the Warcraft franchise -- which is more than enough reason to throw another convention, even beyond the multiple games being released this year.

Although we don't have any real confirmation, information about BlizzCon is usually released in the spring -- so we might just be hearing more about the event soon.

Filed under: News items, BlizzCon

Do not panic about paid character boost prices

As of this writing it appears that the paid character boost will be priced at $60. Since this was taken down quickly and with no comment by Blizzard, it seems fair to say the following:
  • This was clearly not intended to be visible yet.
  • No announcement has been made officially about the actual price.
  • The pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor are not even available yet, so it's unlikely that the paid option will be sooner than those.
In a general sense, this is a non-issue: no price for the feature has been established. We don't know what it will cost, only that when servers briefly came up Tuesday morning, it was visible at $60. I know this because I personally saw it. But that's all we know - that price might have been an internal joke, a default setting, or potentially the price we'll end up paying for the service. Until the actual price is announced, it's not worth getting upset over.

In fact, even if the price was announced at $80, or $100, or even more, it's still not worth getting upset over. Here's why.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Hearthstone Innkeeper's Invitational first rounds online

The Hearthstone Innkeeper's Invitational was a rousing success at BlizzCon 2013, and now you can view the first-round videos online. Hearthstone's official Youtube channel has just posted videos of all four of the first rounds of the Innkeeper's Invitational -- the semi-finals and finals are of course still available on BlizzCon's official website, or over at Twitch, for those interested in seeing the tournament from beginning to end.

The first four matches feature Day[9] vs. Reckful, Hafu vs. Kripparrian, Trump vs. Husky, and Noxious vs. Artosis. Hearthstone may not be out just yet, but even in beta, the game has managed to capture the attention and devotion of those in the beta. With open beta not too far away, hopefully the enthusiasm for this entertaining little card game will continue -- and hopefully we'll see a second Innkeeper's Invitational at the next BlizzCon. For coverage of all of the first-round games, visit Hearthstone's official Youtube channel -- and if you'd like more information on the players involved, you can check out the cards each player was packing for the tournament on Hearthstone's official blog.

Filed under: News items, BlizzCon, Hearthstone Insider

What are you looking forward to in Warlords of Draenor?

There's always a lot to be excited about at BlizzCon, where announcements and new game information tumble freely from developers' lips. But now that things have calmed down and we've all had some time to think about it, we'd like to know what you're most looking forward to in World of Warcraft's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. With ten new levels, the new/old continent of Draenor, and player-built garrisons, there are a lot of cool features on offer here -- but just which one is your favorite? (And which, like the long-discussed dance studio, will be lost to time?) Let us know what feature most piques your interest -- and if it's not anything in our poll, let us know in the comments!

What are you looking forward to in Warlords of Draenor?
100 new levels to advance through395 (4.5%)
New zones, dungeons, and other content to explore2514 (28.4%)
Building my own garrison2498 (28.3%)
The crazy time-travel plot728 (8.2%)
Any new content is good content1393 (15.8%)
Bah humbug!477 (5.4%)
Something else entirely837 (9.5%)

Filed under: BlizzCon

WoW Source talks Warlords of Draenor, new female Forsaken models

In the latest episode of WoW Source, Morgan Webb sits down with Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, Senior Art Director Chris Robinson, and Game Director Tom Chilton to talk BlizzCon 2013 and the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Along with an overview of the various features of Warlords, there's an exclusive look at the new female Forsaken models. Although these are just stills of the character model in progress, they're gorgeous -- and I can't wait to see them in action and live.

Check out the full video for insights and news about BlizzCon 2013, the development of Warlords of Draenor, and more. Those amazing new character models pop up at about thirteen minutes into the video, along with more footage of the other new character models already revealed at BlizzCon 2013.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, BlizzCon

Conan plays WoW, talks to the devs at BlizzCon

Conan O'Brien stopped by BlizzCon to do some arena match commentating, which you may have seen earlier, but what you didn't see was that he also interviewed Game Director Tom Chilton and sat down to play a little Warlords of Draenor with Production Director J Allen Brack. He also interviews one of the arena teams.

There's the usual jabs at gaming stereotypes, but I got some laughs from him trying to trash talk another player and complaining about dying from a fall into snow. The earlier video showing the full 25 minutes of arena commentating was a little bit much to slog through, but once edited down for TV it's a lot funnier.

Filed under: BlizzCon

Lichborne: BlizzCon 2013 news for Death Knights

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

BlizzCon 2013 bought with it a new expansion, Warlords of Draenor, and while we did learn a lot about upcoming changes, very few of it was actually class-specific. Mostly what we got in class specific news was the level 100 talents, which, while awesome, will likely change pretty significantly even between now and the beta, to say nothing of when Warlords of Draenor goes live. That said, there were still a lot of very interesting system changes that herald great things for death knights, and we'll go over those today as well.

New Talents and Skills

The level 100 talents continue the storied tradition of level 90 talents in that they very obviously take their cue from the prime death knight, Arthas himself, the Lich King. They also address something we've talked about before, ability bloat. Instead of adding new skills, 2 of them simply replace existing things.

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Filed under: BlizzCon, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Warlords of Draenor's Trial of the Gladiator

Warlords of Draenor is bringing some big changes to many parts of the game and PvP is no exception. Not only are there various long-overdue UI changes coming in, but we're also going to be seeing a whole new PvP island zone, a new system of measuring battleground performance and a new arena ladder: Trial of the Gladiator. Of these, the biggest change, the biggest thing people are worried about is certainly the Trial of the Gladiator system. So, let's dispel some myths about that.
Lore
I don't know where this idea came from, but just to clear things up, we have no plans to remove the current Arena ladder.

World of Warcraft Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka was also very clear on the BlizzCon Global Invitationals stream, on the virtual ticket videos, at 8:43:28 on the second video of the first day's play, that the existing ladder wasn't changing. The Trial of the Gladiator is going to be a completely new system on top of what currently exists.

Trial of the Gladiator: What is it, and why?

Trial of the Gladiator is, on a very basic level, a system that allows players to gain rating and ladder position at specific times through the week. So, for example, if you want to gain rating and try for a title this season, you'd want to be playing at these times. They might be Saturday at 10am, maybe also Wednesday at 6pm, Monday at 8pm, Tuesday at 4pm, and so on.

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Filed under: PvP, BlizzCon, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Breakfast Topic: Should there be a BlizzCon next year?

BlizzCon main stage
So, I heard that some convention or other happened earlier this month, and apparently it was kind of a big deal or some junk.

Oh, whoa, look at that: It was a big deal! More than 20,000 people attended the two-day affair, and many thousands more no doubt bought virtual tickets. We learned about a new WoW expansion, an upcoming Diablo expansion, an online card game, an upcoming movie -- heck, we even learned about an entirely new game based around cooperative team PvP. There were contests, tournaments, live bands and a guy in a red shirt. Wowhead and WoW Insider threw a party, and oh my dear lord so many people came.

Was it all worth it? Undoubtedly. The amount of excitement, community buzz and media coverage coming out of this conference was absolutely incredible, and it was a transformative moment in Blizzard history.

But is it worth doing again next year?

Making BlizzCon happen takes an absolutely stunning amount of time, energy, money and resources. In the weeks -- no, months -- leading up to it, people up and down the Blizzard company ladder have to stop what they're doing in order to prepare for the convention and then make it all happen. Designers, developers, artists, community managers, you name it: Their work becomes increasingly consumed by BlizzCon, which means it becomes increasingly not consumed by, you know, their actual regular jobs making and managing the games we so deeply love to play (and complain about).

In 2012, the awareness of how much work they had to do on their games, and their desire to meet the demands of their players (and perhaps their shareholders and corporate boardmembers, too), led Blizzard's top brass to cancel BlizzCon entirely. If they hadn't, it's very likely Mists of Pandaria would have been released many weeks, even months, later than it was.

So. Given how much BlizzCon takes away from Blizzard employees' regular duties, which would you rather see: Another convention next year, or a potentially faster release schedule for new games, expansions and features? What if BlizzCon always occurred just once every two years, but lasted for three or four days instead of two?

Or is there some other kind of happy medium? (Besides cloning the entire Blizzard company directory.)

Should there be a BlizzCon in 2014?
Yes! Bring on the BlizzCon!2989 (49.9%)
Nah, let's skip a year and bring it back in 2015.2821 (47.1%)
I've got a better idea entirely, and I'm gonna post a comment about it, just you wait and see.185 (3.1%)

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, BlizzCon

Why Heroes of the Storm is the MOBA for me

First and foremost, if that trailer from CarBot didn't even crack a smile, you have a heart of stone. This trailer, or tribute as CarBot calls it, was shown at BlizzCon to introduce gamers to Blizzard's newest offering: Heroes of the Storm. Anyone who's been keeping an eye on my Twitter will know that I was almost as excited about Heroes of the Storm as I was about Warlords of Draenor, so I took the earliest opportunity to go and play it. And then two subsequent opportunities to go back and play it again.

I've played a fair bit of League of Legends, and more recently quite a bit of SMITE, and I enjoy both games, and the MOBA genre as a whole. Blizzard is, I should mention, apparently keen to get away from calling this a MOBA, and move towards the idea of a "Hero Brawler". There are several important differences between the mechanics of Heroes compared to League, particularly, which I really think are fantastic shifts away from a bloated system.

Talents over Item Shop

Now I will not pretend for a second that I am a pro League of Legends player. Heck, I'm probably not even a good one. I got into LoL very late, very late indeed, and there are a couple of elements that have stood in my way as a newer player. The item shop is definitely one of those elements. Even since the introduction of the Shopping List system, and with the Recommended Items list, it's confusing when you're just getting started. Working out what you need and knowing what's good are second nature to a seasoned player, but tricky to a beginner.

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Filed under: Blizzard, BlizzCon, Heroes of the Storm

Warlords of Draenor and the draenei

Okay, let's just put our cards on the table. The only thing I want to do with orcs in Warlords of Draenor is kill them. Bring on the Iron Horde for me to stomp on. I will eventually level my Horde characters, sure. But I'm not particularly interested in the Frostwolves and how the Horde is going to relate to them and the Horde's search for an identity somewhere between murderous lunatics and Thrall's happy fun-time frolic friends - it's certainly not a bad hook for a Horde storyline. But I don't care about it. We've had a lot of the Horde and their civil war and their struggle to stay united under Hellscream. It was often very interesting stuff - I very much liked the Dominance Offensive quests - and I'm glad we got to see it. Mists of Pandaria ended up being a very dark expansion in a lot of ways, with themes of personal responsibility and how good intentions can go bad, missed opportunities and the fog of war, and I thought that the Siege of Orgrimmar made a lot of sense.

I wasn't one of the Alliance players who was upset about the Horde rebels having a role in SoO. I don't feel like it diminished the Alliance story any to show us working alongside them, I wasn't bothered by seeing Varian's actions at the end of the raid. I thought it was all good and proper.

But frankly, I'm done with the Horde's problems. I play Alliance. I want to see Alliance stories. Horde players should have their stories, too, I'm not saying they shouldn't -- more power to y'all solving that whole issue of inheriting a legacy of murderous psychopathic lunacy from the Old Horde, that's gotta be rough for you -- but I am done. Because Warlords of Draenor has promised me the one thing I've wanted to see since Burning Crusade itself failed to deliver it, and that's draenei. Draenei cities, as they appeared at their height. Draenei culture, not the ruined remnants of it. The draenei we saw in BC were the ragged remnants cast adrift on Azeroth, survivors of a near total extermination. They were the embattled refugees desperately seeking a place to rebuild. I fell in love with them in no small part due to their tenacity and willingness to keep going, but I've always wondered what they were really like before the horrors Ner'zhul and later Gul'dan unleashed upon them at Kil'jaeden's behest. And at last, I'm going to get to find out.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, BlizzCon, Mists of Pandaria

Can't get enough of BlizzCon? Check out the post-BlizzCon swag sale!

If you've spent the week lonesome for more BlizzCon excitement, then some shopping in the BlizzCon store may be just the thing. This is the same loot that was available in the store for virtual ticket holders and on sale at BlizzCon itself -- plus some extras from BlizzCons past -- but if you missed anything, you can now pick it up online even if you don't have a virtual ticket. Unfortunately, some things are sold out -- like Hearthstone tshirts and mugs -- but there's plenty of loot to go around, like Warlords of Draenor tees, the Lil' Chen plushie, and the epic purple lanyard.

So if you still have cash to spare after BlizzCon, there's shopping to be done! If there's anything you want, you should act fast, because supplies are limited.

Filed under: BlizzCon

7 things casual players need to know about Warlords of Draenor

The dust has finally settled from the BlizzCon newstravaganza, which means it's time for us more casual players to figure out just what's going on with World of Warcraft's upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Here's the basics:
  • Where's the expansion set? Draenor, before it became Outland. Yep, we're heading back in time for this expansion.
  • What's the new level cap? 100. But don't panic if you haven't even reached the Mists level cap yet, because Blizzard is going to boost one of your characters to level 90 so you can play in Draenor.
  • What can I do in Draenor? In addition to the standard leveling, questing, dungeoning, and raiding, the expansion will have garrisons for you to build. Think of them as a seriously amped up version of the farms in Mists, letting build your own in-game city.
  • What new classes or races are coming? None -- however, all of the current classes are getting new models. It may not sound like much, but it makes the original WoW races look brand new.
  • When will I be able to play? We don't know yet. But as with most Blizzard games, we suspect it will be out "when it's ready."

So that's what the next expansion has in store for us. But there are some upcoming gameplay changes that will definitely help low-level or more casual players find their footing and get through the game -- if that means you, read on for 7 things you'll want to know about the next expansion.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie, BlizzCon

Warlords of Draenor and the absence of Aggra

Let me tell you a little about my sister. My sister is married, in her thirties, and has four children -- all boys -- ranging from four to sixteen. Her house is a wild cacophony of boys being boys and the calls of various animals that she's acquired. It's a mini-farm, if you will, full of chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, a couple of snakes, and possibly a species or two that I've missed. In addition to raising four boys with her husband, she also owns her own business. She runs her own grooming company here in town, and is both the sole employee and owner, successful enough that she's usually booked for at least a month out, if not more.

In addition to that, she runs two Renaissance festivals a year, hauls her family to regular camp-outs with the faire crew, regularly plays D&D with the gang, and knows how to shoot a longbow and a black powder rifle (and is a pretty good shot with both of them), along with cannons and trebuchets. She's a dab hand at cooking at home and over a campfire out in the wild, knows how to kill, gut and butcher just about anything, and how to tan and stretch a hide. On top of all that, I've heard she's a marvel at breaking up fights, reading bedtime stories, wiping tears from faces, kissing boo-boo's away, and snuggling in the mornings when little ones are sleepy and grumpy about getting up for school.

And god help anyone that comes between her and her family.

I'm telling you this story not to brag about my sister, although I love her very dearly, but to make a point that seems to have been sorely missed somewhere in the story of Warcraft. My sister isn't just a wife and mother. She's a warrior. She's a fighter. She's a spark of ferocity that will not be quenched. Where is her counterpart in Warcraft? That's a really good question.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, BlizzCon

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