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Filed under: Alts

The problem of Outland in Cataclysm


Borex brings up a question I've heard ever since Blizzard first announced they were going to tear up Old Azeroth in Cataclysm: what's the deal with Outland? Up until now, continuity throughout the game has worked more or less the way it should: new content gets added on to the end of the game, so anyone leveling up sees the story as they're supposed to (more or less -- there have been a few elements that have had to be "dealt with" for sure, but for the most part Blizzard has just wiped those clean). But obviously, if Deathwing returns and starts messing with players right away at level 1, the whole continuity will get shaken up. Hence Borex's question: why will level 60s be bothering to go out to Outland and deal with the Burning Legion when, in the world Deathwing invades, the Burning Legion is no longer considered the most pressing threat? Is it logical for level 60s to leave the world, head to a distant planet, and then come back to Azeroth at level 70? Shouldn't they stay and fight?

Bornakk's reply hints that Blizzard will probably just gloss over it as best they can -- they're not going to build a whole new 1-85 experience involving Deathwing. When you constantly update a five-year-old persistent world game like this with new stories and content, something's got to give somewhere. My guess is that Blizzard, being the perfectionists they are, will probably come up with a quest or two that gives a lore reason to go out there ("Hmm, you're too green to face the power of Deathwing, but our companions in Outland need help holding what's left of the Burning Legion at bay!"), and leave it at that. They may increase the XP and get you out of there even quicker, but going to Outland at 58 is still a gameplay necessity (Northrend shares the problem at 70, but of course we don't actually know what's going to happen with the Lich King quite yet). It's likely the lore will just have to deal.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgen to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, Alts, Cataclysm

All the World's a Stage: The art of the alt

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

With all the talk lately about starting new characters once the Cataclysm arrives, it struck me that most roleplayers already have more than one, including myself. Like most players, I started with one, a night elf druid, and focused on playing that exclusively for quite some time. It didn't really occur to me that I would even want to play more than one.

Then, I began to notice that other people played more than one character, even within the same small group of friends. I had one friend in particular who had mastered the art of roleplaying multiple characters. She never said anything out of character to anyone in our group, and it took me ages to even realize that her characters were ally played by the same person in the first place. Each one had its own personality, and each had a different relationship with all our mutual friends.

Knowing her made something click inside my mind, and I began to see other possibilities for myself too, other sorts of characters I could play with different weaknesses, strengths, and entirely different stories to tell. As my roleplaying experience grew, I began to feel as though one character couldn't contain all the ideas I had jumbling about in my head, so... I started another one, then another, and ... another. Little did I know all the pitfalls I could run into with so many characters, nor the quirky little tricks that could become possible with multiple characters, a small group of friends, and a bit of creativity.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Guilds, RP, Classes, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Arcane Brilliance: Making your Mage raid-worthy, part 2

Welcome to the latest Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that believes there's no such thing as a wrong time to turn something into a sheep. Unless it was already a sheep to begin with. Then it would probably have been better to turn it into a pig or a rabbit or something. Or maybe just hit it with a Pyroblast. Mmmm. Lamb chops. What were we talking about again?

If you missed last week, here's a link to click on so you can catch up. If you can't be bothered to read the first part of this column, let me summarize the idea here: we're discussing ways to get your Mage all decked out in epic, raid-worthy gear without ever actually entering a raid instance. Now, more than ever before, we have so many options for obtaining raid-quality gear that actually raiding for it seems almost...old-fashioned.

Last week we talked about 5-mans in both their normal and heroic varieties, focusing on Trial of the Champion, because duh. But maybe you don't want to do 5-mans. Maybe your guildies aren't on, and maybe you hate pugs. Maybe you are a Mage, and because there are eighty-four DPSers looking for group for every one tank or healer, you threw your hands up after an hour of trying to get a group and went off to do dailies.

Well good news, everyone! Doing those dailies can get you epics too! Yes, it is entirely possible--even if you happen to be the guy on your server who ninjas gear in pugs and sucks at everything to the point that nobody invites you to groups anymore--to fill just every slot of your gear with sparkly purples without doing any instances of any kind. Isn't that wonderful? It tends to take a bit longer, overall, but these alternative methods for obtaining gear can be perfect for those of us who simply don't have a lot of time to commit to a group. Simply log in, craft an epic cloak, do a daily quest or two, blast out a couple Arena matches, and then repeat for a few weeks, and eventually you'll have epics too. Anyway, nice talking to you, see you next week! Wait...what's that? You want details? Oh fine. Clicky clicky.

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Filed under: Mage, Blacksmithing, Tailoring, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, PvP, Quests, Jewelcrafting, Features, Raiding, Factions, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

All the World's a Stage: Cataclysm's new race/class combinations


All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

As you know, the new race and class combinations coming up in the Cataclysm will open a whole new set of doors to people who want an alternative character choice that goes against the grain of their typical racial customs, to one degree or another. With the exception of a couple combinations that feel as though they should have been there from the beginning (such as blood elf warriors, which need no discussion here), each new possibility presents roleplayers with an opportunity to play an outcast of sorts, a character who has made a significant break from the traditions his or her race usually represent.

The lore behind each combination is not yet fully clear. We know tauren paladins will probably worship the sun and call themselves "Sunwalkers" for instance, but not much more than that. Some things are clear, though, and there's a lot to get the imagination going for those roleplayers who yearn to play something a little different.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Tauren, Undead, Trolls, Druid, Hunter, Paladin, Priest, Analysis / Opinion, RP, Classes, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: The You that you can't leave behind


I have been playing a human warrior for almost five years now. So I'm looking at the new faction (and upcoming race) change feature with a different eye than some.

I've played other characters, of course... I have three Shamans now, a DK, a Paladin, a Warlock I occasionally log onto and stare forlornly at, and of course several other warriors scattered around various servers, two of which even hit max level... but in one capacity or another, I have logged onto that Human Warrior for the past five years and run five mans, done quests, raided, crafted, even occasionally fished on him. I've done every single instance in the game on him at this point. I even did Naxx 40 on him.

He's been a tank, he's been DPS. He was even just a "Hey, guys, what's everyone up to?" toon for a few months when I tried my level best to switch to Horde. (I'm sorry, guys, but as much as I love Tauren I can't really like playing Horde when I keep running into quests that have me poisoning prisoners of war, or even my own people. I'm the kind of guy who ends up with butterflies and halo's over my head in Fable, even when I start out determined to ravage the land as a force of pure destruction.)

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Alts

Breakfast Topic: Your Cataclysm Bucket List



The Times, they are a-changin'. Cataclysm promises to bring massive amounts of change to Azeroth, reorganizing zones, streamlining quests, and the like. There's a good chance that a lot of the old quests and reputation grinds we know and love will be gone forever, or twisted so much that we hardly recognize them. With that in mind, even while their exact fate is up in the air, a lot of old achievements and titles seem much more urgent.

A lot of WoW bloggers, as a result, have been posting their bucket lists, a list of things they want to do in the Old World before the Cataclsym changes it for good, be it grabbing the Loremaster title or even leveling a character of the other faction just to see how their quests differ. For my own part, I've been inspired to start a bucket list myself. It's pretty simple, so far. The major thing is to finally finish getting my Druid Guardian of Cenarius. I'm also thinking my Death Knight could use Loremaster or Seeker. I'll probably also try to make sure my Death Knight gets all the old world raid bosses down, and I wouldn't mind getting an old school Ashkandi for him for fashion purposes.

Sure, we still have Patch 3.3 before Cataclysm, so it's not like we have to be in a big rush, but if you're after a title like Loremaster before Cataclysm, it may be a good idea to start now. What do you want to do or see in the old world before the curtain falls? What's your Cataclysm bucket list?
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Expansions, Bosses, Alts, Achievements, Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: How has Battleground experience been working out for you?



Since we didn't have a WRUP this weekend, I'll go ahead and tell you what I did: leveled alts using Alterac Valley. Just a few hours of play, and the levels were flying past without a care, even with only about a 50% win rate. And those times we won fast? Hoo Boy. 100-150k experience for about 10 minutes of work is nothing to sneeze at.

It might be possible that I could have leveled up quicker by loading up a few questing addons and buckling down, but I found PvPing a lot more fun and relaxing for some reason, and I don't think questing would have been all that much quicker.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Breakfast Topics, Leveling, Alts, Battlegrounds

All the World's a Stage: The new character experience in Cataclysm


All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

As you know, the Cataclysm is going to bring major changes to the whole world of Azeroth. There will only be 5 new zones for leveling above 80 and one new zone for each new race -- the rest of the work they're doing involves changing the old zones, bringing them up to the standards of zones in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, adding new quests that are more appropriate to the current timeline, and completely rebuilding the areas that just didn't work so well.

You are also probably aware that this is a much-needed improvement. The 1 - 60 leveling process (except for the draenei or blood elf starting areas) has long been fraught with serious flaws. Going through it the first time wasn't so bad, since exploring everything felt so new, but doing it the third and fourth times meant sheer boredom. I remember many times going to a zone, completing many or all of the quests there, and leaving without ever feeling as though I had really "been" there. Except for a few real gems, quests mostly involved spending a lot of time running long distances in order to kill more nameless bad guys -- they felt more like pest control than adventure. Just being there seemed to remove me from the story of Azeroth, and dump me in some other world where there was nothing important happening. Vast stretches of land on the Azeroth map meant absolutely nothing to me as a roleplayer: no character, no story, no meaning.

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Filed under: Quests, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, RP, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Cataclysm

Arcane Brilliance: What Cataclysm will mean to Mages, part 2


Welcome to the latest edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column and internet meeting place for IHATEWARLOCKS. If you can't remember what that acronym stands for, you can check last week's column, about two paragraphs from the end. If you can't be bothered, it doesn't matter. The name says it all, really.

When I was growing up, way back at the dawn of time, in the late eighties, I didn't have access to a lot of games. It wasn't like it is now, where I have an unplayed backlog of quality electronic entertainment so deep my house reeks of shrinkwrap and unfulfilled potential. No, back then, I remember saving my pennies for an entire summer with an eye on getting a new game, then going to the game store and having a choice between Lufia and 7th Saga. I chose 7th Saga (mostly because you could be a robot in that one), and even though time hasn't been particularly kind to that game, it still holds a special place in my heart. You know why? Because I played it. I played the crap out of it, and when I finished it, I started over and played it again. And the next time I saved up enough money for another game, or tricked a relative into buying one for me, I snagged Lufia, and repeated the process.

With the really great games--the Chrono Triggers, the Secrets of Mana, the Shining Forces--I played them so many times I came to the point where my fondest wish was that I could discover a way to excise them from my brain...to selectively forget I'd ever played them so I could plug them back in and experience their unique joys afresh. Yes, back in the late eighties and early nineties, we were pretty starved for games. But the ones we had, we loved.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing really, just thought I'd share. Ok fine. Read on, I promise I'll find a flimsy way to tie it in to the actual subject of this week's column.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Features, Classes, Talents, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm, Archaeology

Totem Talk: Revamped stats in Cataclysm and Dwarven/Goblin Shamans


Totem Talk is Wow.com's weekly column about all things Shamanistic. This week, we go "aaah aaah BlizzCon! Goblin and Dwarven Shamans! All sorts of stats changing! Aaaah!" with Matthew Rossi. Be warned that Cataclysm spoilers may be thick on the ground in this post.

The past few days have been a crazy basket of news for us Shaman players. The Alliance will have a second Shamanistic race with the inclusion of Dwarves (which makes sense, really, since Dwarves are effectively descended from beings of pure earth) and the Horde will get a fourth race of Shamans in the Goblins.

Frankly, an expansion based around the upheaval as Deathwing himself smashes the elemental plans pell-mell into Azeroth is pure bliss for a Shaman. This is what we're for! The elements in disarray, Ragnaros bucking wild on Mount Hyjal, the planes leaking through into Azeroth... time to get out there and do what we do best.

But that's not all. With stat simplification gear is changing, Mastery will change the way our talent trees function, and then there will be the Path of the Titans to help customize us even more than Glyphs did. Shamans are going to gear differently, have five more talent points (but the talents themselves will be changed and streamlined, we're told) and play differently in Cataclysm. Let's start talking about how.

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Filed under: Dwarves, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Classes, Buffs, Alts, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Forums, Cataclysm, Goblin

Arcane Brilliance: What Cataclysm will mean to Mages, part 1

Welcome to another installment of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that serves up piping hot Mage content, with a steaming side of inappropriate humor, a light sprinkling of random 80's pop culture references, and just a dash of incompetent attempts at math. Speaking of math, last week was awesome, guys. I was apparently so wrong it took 111 comments for you to decide exactly why and how stupid I am. The effort and the display of raw number-mastery you guys displayed made me proud to be one of you. You guys make me feel like the dumbest kid in class, being forced to do math problems at the chalkboard in front of everybody, and I couldn't be happier about it.

So, like many of you, I've been stuck here at home for the duration of BlizzCon. My day-job (what I like to refer to as my "what I do when I'm not being a Mage") has kept me here in sunny Las Vegas instead of in sunny Anaheim, and so I find myself at my computer, dividing my time between writing this column and furiously hitting the refresh button on my browser, hanging on every word my co-bloggers serve up from the convention floor. I wish I'd been able to make the reader meet-up this year, but that was not meant to be. I wanted to meet all of you, stammer like a dork while trying to say hello to Felica Day, and possibly get jumped by a gang of angry Warlocks while I screamed "Ice Block! Ice Block! Iiiiiice Bllloooccckkk!" at the top of my lungs. I will be there next year, with my level 85 Goblin Mage in tow, even if it kills me.

I'm really having difficulty processing all of the information out there, and the vast, universal, and sweeping impact it will have on everything about this virtual world we play in, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Guild leveling? Mastery system? Southshore... taken by the Horde? My mind is leaking from my ears. I'm not even kidding; it's gross. But the purposes of today's column will be to try and make some preliminary sense of this massive glut of newness, and apply it to the only class I care about: Mages. What will the new (old?) content mean for those of us who wander the current, relatively un-sundered Azeroth, conjuring portals and pastries? Read on for my initial impressions.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Features, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm, Worgen, Goblin

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Trial of the Champion Loot Part 2


Yes, technically that's a screenshot from last night's Ulduar alt PuG. Since there's a Marrowstrike and several other pieces of TotC gear in it, as well as a female draenei warrior (how often do you see that?) I'm gonna let it go. Draenei women hold polearms really weird, in my opinion.

Last week we covered weapons, trinkets and rings from both heroic and normal Trial of the Champion. This week, we'll cover plate drops, capes and neck pieces. We may actually be able to get it all in, although there's a decent amount of plate in this instance. I'm actually surprised at how expansive the loot table (for a 3 encounter instance) TotC has managed to support. For the short duration there's a lot of gear in here.

Also, I can confirm that Marrowstrike and Edge of Ruin are 212 DPS weapons now. (That's cause I'm using one in the back there.)

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Guides, Alts, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Speeding up Trial of the Champion


Trial of the Champion, the latest dungeon, has quickly become a popular daily destination. It's no wonder why; in under half an hour, with little difficulty, you can begin outfitting your character(s) with epics of Ulduar quality!

At first, I wasn't sure if I agreed with Blizzard's decision to start handing out welfare epics again. Surely we can't be that close to the next expansion, Cataclysm!

Then I realized how easily I could now gear one of my alts, which was something previously impossible to me. Being a main healer, I knew I would never have the opportunity to bring an alt to a raid, so my favorites have not even hit 80 yet. Now that I know I could get them Ulduar-ready in such a short time, I have renewed interest in leveling them.

I can also see why Blizzard would want to help players gear up at this point in time. In Burning Crusade, so few people got to see Sunwell and experience what the expansion was all about, that this time around, they seem to be gunning for the general raiding population to reach Arthas (Icecrown Citadel).

Having accepted this acceleration in "progress," I was left with one major qualm.

The introduction to Trial of the Champion, which must be endured each run, is way too long. Unbearably long. Go and make a triple-decker sandwich long.

Then a few guildmates and I discovered that there is indeed a way to hasten the process.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, Alts

Why am I suddenly so popular?


Right now I have two level 80 tank/DPS hybrid toons in epic gear. Now, when I leveled my Warrior to 80, and for the first few months, it seemed like everyone and his or her mother was a tank. There were Druid tanks everywhere, every Paladin and DK was a tank, and of course there were plenty of Warrior tanks to be had. There were so many tanks, in fact, that I figured that after my months of service to my BC guild, I could take a vacation and be DPS for a while on my Warrior. Sure, it ended up requiring me to learn a whole new set of skills, but I got to be the Titan's Grip DPS Warrior I'd longed to be ever since I saw my wife romper stomp her way through Diablo II.

Fast forward a few months. Ulduar is more or less on farm, the new Argent Tournament raid and five man are in effect, and I've leveled and geared out a DK for both DPS and tanking. Based on my experience as a Warrior I wasn't expecting to have many opportunities to tank. Instead, not only is the DK in crazy demand for tanking, I'm constantly being asked to tank on the Warrior as well! Since I like tanking, it's not a major concern, but what confuses me is, where did all those Warrior, Druid, DK and Paladin tanks from launch go?

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Classes, Alts, Death Knight

Totem Talk: Starting a Shaman

This week, Totem Talk's Matthew Rossi finds himself heading down nostalgia lane.

Before I explain who that fine orcish chap to the right is, I wanted to take a moment and share some things with you. Specifically, this, this, this, this, this and this. These are some of the drops of interest from the level 80 Onyxia raid coming in patch 3.2.2, and I'll just point out that these are all the 10 man iLevel 232 drops, meaning that for everything you're looking at, there will most likely be a 25 man iLevel 245 version.

Frankly, if you're an enhancement shaman (especially an orc) and you're not excited about the Empowered Deathbringer, I don't even know you anymore. With a 2.7 speed and a 628 dmg top end, it's hitting almost as hard as the Golden Saronite Dragon. Imagine how hard the 25 man version will hit? I'll admit to being a little disappointed they didn't leave the speed at 2.9, but even so great googly moogly is that not a hot little axe? Well, okay, a hot big axe.

if the 25 man version of Deathbringer keeps pace with the 25 man version of Vis'Kag, we're looking at one of the best possible Main Hand/Off Hand combos for Enhancement. I don't think it's possible for me to explain how excited I am over this. I start twitching when I think about it, to be honest with you.

Now that we've had this moment to geek out over upcoming loot, as is right and proper to do, what about this fine you lowbie horde you see before you?

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, Alts, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

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