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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Artcraft previews the male draenei model


It's no secret that I love the draenei -- with getting a chance to play through Shadowmoon Valley on the Beta, they've leapt into the lead and are now my favorite race. Now, thanks to Blizzard's official Artcraft previews, we get a chance to look at the new draenei male. Having experienced it on the beta (as a work in progress, mind you) I already felt like it was a vast improvement. The proportions, the expressions, even the way the facial tendrils move is much, much better.

Head on over to the official site and take a look for yourself.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New Ashran achievements

Wowhead has datamined a whole bunch of new achievements, and the ones for Ashran interested me greatly - since I did some level 100 PvP recently (I didn't do very well at it, but I think at least part of that is my sheer unfamiliarity with it at this point) I'm definitely interested in how Ashran turns out.

I assume one of those two Take Them Out achievements will eventually be switched to Alliance, and hopefully captain will be spelled correctly. (The achievements have different ID's.) It seems the Alliance gets to summon something called Fangraal (presumably this fellow), and there's something called The Everbloom where Kirin-Tor Battle Mages can die while fighting something called Yalnu (since there's an achievement for them not dying, I assume it's fairly easy for that to happen) - these are pretty tantalizing hints for what we're going to see once we get in there. I'm wondering if there's a Horde equivalent to Fangraal - possibly this Lifeless Ancient Protector, or this Ancient Protector (both are relatively close in ID and come up on a search for 'Horde Guardian')? Time will tell.
  • Ashran Victory: Kill the opposing faction Commander while controlling all points on the Road of Glory.
  • Bounty Hunter: Loot all the following off Alliance player corpses:
  • Bounty Hunter: Loot all the following off Horde player corpses:
  • Tour Of Duty: Complete each Event at the following areas listed below.
  • Just For Me: Activate a Class Specific Book Epic Item found within Ashran.
  • High-value Targets: Defeat all of the creatures within Ashran listed below.
  • Opperation Counterattack: Defeat Fangraal within 5 minutes of it being summoned by the Alliance.
  • Grand Theft, 1st Degree: Loot 100 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Grand Theft, 2nd Degree: Loot 500 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Grand Theft, 3rd Degree: Loot 1000 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Divide And Conquer: Kill 5000 enemy Players anywhere outside the Road of Glory within Ashran.
  • Weed Wacker: Defeat Yalnu without any Kirin Tor Battle-Mages dying in The Everbloom on Heroic Difficulty.
  • Take Them Out: Defeat all of the Horde Captians within The Road of Glory listed below.
  • Take Them Out: Defeat all of the Horde Captians within The Road of Glory listed below.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Achievements, Warlords of Draenor

Why Testing Matters 2: The Beta Tank Bug

I did a post a while back on why beta testing matters. The point was, no matter how we might wish that the game could be finished and rushed out, you have to test this stuff in a controlled environment first. And this particular bug is a perfect example of why that is. Because on the beta servers, tank specs were unkillable gods.

We discovered a teeny tiny little issue with the Battle Fatigue debuff. Turns out, it was set to increase tank damage taken by -25%. Yes, that's an increase of negative 25%... which means that Battle Fatigue was actually reducing the damage tank-specced characters were taking.

This should now be fixed on Beta servers, which should make quite a difference. Let us know how things feel now.

That kind of error is exactly why the beta process is necessary and important, but moreover it's why it's kind of awesome - you see, stuff like this is terrible for game balance, but it's also astonishingly fun to discover and experience a few times. Yes, as a tester you should absolutely report it as soon as possible. But in order to report it reliably (it's hard to know for sure what's actually happening, after all, your combat log doesn't report that you're taking less damage) you need to repeat it. And that's really pretty awesome.

It's better -- far better, in fact -- that we get this stuff found out before it goes live. Even though I'm sure all of us with a tank spec kind of secretly wish it didn't. The feeling of being overpowered wouldn't keep us from the crushing disappointment when they found and fixed it.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Warlords of Draenor

My change from hardcore through casual

The time between expansions is a great opportunity to change your play style. You can become more proficient with PvP, learn to not stand in fire, or pick up a new class. It can be hard to find guilds to take you in as an undergeared, fresh class player, but things are also a lot more forgiving. You'll be under geared but with everyone else around you rocking some of the best gear in the game, you don't really have to worry about your gear being too huge of an issue.

For me, this is also a great time to switch between overall play styles. Back in Burning Crusade I was a hardcore raider. 25 hours a week of raiding, our guild made it into the top 150 in the world, and I'd tank like an army drill sergeant. When Wrath came around I floundered and had enough, I went down to being "mid core" -- the gray area between casual and hardcore. I'd raid with dedicated groups, but I wouldn't do more than 10 hours a week.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Know Your Lore: Shadowmoon Valley and the Dark Star

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Warning - there will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in this post. Specifically for the Shadowmoon Valley zone.

One of the most fascinating things for me about the unfolding lore in this first zone is the new vision of the draenei it provides us. Far from the ragtag band of embittered survivors clinging on to a crashed dimension ship, the draenei of Warlords are a proud society of expatriated beings who are caught between conflicting impulses. Do they fight to hold on to the world they were forced to leave and its ancient ways, or do they adopt new ones to become more fully part of the world they find themselves on? And how many times have they had to make this choice?

As you quest through the zone, you come to discover that Shadowmoon Valley wasn't chosen as a draenei holy spot through random chance - the interaction between the draenei and the orcs in this area presages developments in other parts of the world. Just as the draenei have had to choose how they will adapt to a new world, the orcs of the Shadowmoon Clan were forced to contend with a power they did not understand. Each exists in a kind of opposition to the other, and the choices of one affect how the other develops.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Watcher on Raid Consumables and Enchants in Warlords

One of the things that people concern themselves with when raiding progression is all the little things you can do to eke out just that extra little bit more. However, with the advent of Warlords of Draenor and its sweeping systems changes, stat squishes and ability pruning, there seems to be some confusion about what players will and won't be able to do to get that extra bit. Yes, reforging is gone, but Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas assures us you will still be able to enchant and gem your gear. And also, raid consumables like food and flasks totally are going to be around in Warlords.

What seems to be confusing people is that enchanting and gemming are getting a slim-down. There will be fewer enchant slots and gems on gear, but they're not going to be removed.
It's important to keep in mind that people will still have the ability to tweak and go for incremental performance increases in these ways. Some players may choose to use these on a frequent basis, but for the most part, it's expected that most players will be able to use more gear immediately on getting it with the new system.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Random quest item upgrades

One of the most interesting changes to quest gearing in Warlords of Draenor is that you have a chance for any item you get as a quest reward to end up upgrading from a quest green to a blue (rare) quality drop, and even an epic (purple) on rare occasions. For example, the Karabor Honor Guard Legguards are a green quest reward usually. As you can see, they're not a green for me here, because I got lucky. They're not an earth-shattering upgrade, mind you (although with the stat squish, a few points is a lot bigger than it used to be) but it's still a nice little bump.

You don't have to do anything for this to happen - it's completely out of your hands. It may happen, it may not. Purely from my own experience it's not that uncommon for greens to end up as blues (I've had it happen four or five times) but these are the first epic I've seen on my second playthrough in SMV. Your own rates will vary, of course.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Sunday Morning Funnies: Not my chipmunk

Best in Slot
Sunday Morning Funnies is your weekly list of WoW-related web comics.

This week, in comics: Making art (in war), peon clones, practicing faces, no credit sharing. Plus: Create a paradox, break some magic.

In comic news this week, you will notice that Fox Rain is back! Plus, WoW, eh? has updated again, with a new nefarious plot brewing.

To celebrate July 4th, Gratz has posted a special, and taken a break from storytelling for the week. Speaking of celebrations, Kelly Aarons (of WoW, eh?) celebrated a birthday last week. Happy Birthday, Kelly! Plus, apparently Cadi will be in the game at some point! How awesome is that? Finally, I have to say congratulations to Rug for finishing and publishing a novel (see last week's comments section for more details).

There are also still a few comics on hiatus. As a reminder, Contested Territory and From Draenor With Love (which missed our deadline) should be listed next week, while Chat Channeling is on hiatus indefinitely, and updates from Sara & Kleeyo and Kibble & Bit will be sporadic.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Comics, Sunday Morning Funnies

WRUP: The news is finally happening

fireworks in azshara
There's been a surprising amount of news this week. It's like warlords from some not-quite-time-travel location are finally catching up to us. Whether we're talking about the night time being dark or just kind of dim, or exciting new fiery corgis, it feels like things are finally happening.

So when we asked What R U Playing this weekend, we also asked: what's been your favorite bit of news? What's on your mind about recent events? Also, most importantly, is the Corgi the best pet ever, or just the best pet available?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Soloing the Black Temple with Blizzard


Daxxari is back with another guide to soloing old raids, this time, The Black Temple. Whether it's transmog loot you're looking for, a chance at a warglaive, reputation with another faction (The Ashtongue Deathsworn) or just giggles, Black Temple has it all from Tier 6 sets and lookalikes to some of the coolest scenery the game's ever seen.

Black Temple is by far one of my favorite raids. It's quite soloable by a max-level character -- the hardest fight is the Reliquary of Souls because you can easily do enough damage to yourself and the interrupts get brutal -- and it has some really awesome looking loot, cool fight mechanics, and some big lore deals like Teron Gorefiend and of course Illidan himself waiting for you. Daxxari explains the fight mechanics and how they work for a solo player, so head over to the official site and read up before heading into the Black Temple.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Raid Guides

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Changes coming for DPS warriors

Count nothing in the beta done until the beta is itself done. It's the modern equivalent of 'count no man happy before he is dead' (at least it when it comes to betas) and it's especially true for warriors this time around. Arms has seen huge changes, fury has seen a backlash over the loss of Heroic Strike, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Now we get to see what the intended direction for warriors is, thanks to a forum post from Celestalon.

So what's the haps? I'm glad you asked. The usual caveats (it's all still subject to change, it's the beta, don't get too worked up) apply, of course.

Celestalon - Fury Feedback
So, we don't often share our thoughts on upcoming changes this early, as plans can change very rapidly. Please keep in mind that none of the following is set in stone – it hasn't even been developed yet – and there's any number of issues that could cause us to decide to take a different approach. That said, we definitely agree that Arms feels a bit empty at the moment, and want to fill it out a bit more, and we want to add some talent choices to both Arms and Fury that provide options for more involved gameplay. Here's what we're thinking:
  • Rage generation increased by 25% for Arms.
  • Rend returns for Arms. Costs 10 Rage, deals damage over 18sec, with a burst of bleed damage at the end. Total damage is similar to a Mortal Strike.
  • Thunder Clap is usable in any stance. AoE damage and snares, 6sec cooldown. 30 Rage cost for Arms, free for Protection.
  • We're replace the level 45 talent row (Staggering Shout / Piercing Howl / Disrupting Shout) with:
  • Varies by spec:Arms –
    • Taste for Blood: Passive. Rend ticks grant 3 Rage.
    • Fury – Furious Strikes: Passive. Reduces the cost of Wild Strike by 10 Rage
    • Protection – Heavy Repercussions: Passive. Shield Slam deals 50% additional damage while Shield Block is active.
  • Sudden Death: Passive. Auto attacks have a chance to trigger Sudden Death, making your next Execute free and usable on targets above 20% health.
  • Varies by spec:
    • Arms – Slam: Active ability. Costs 10 Rage. Deals 100% weapon damage. Each consecutive use increases Slam's damage by 50% and Rage cost by 100%, stacking up to 5 times.
    • Fury – Unquenchable Thirst: Passive. Bloodthirst has no cooldown.
    • Protection – Unyielding Strikes: Passive. Devastate reduces the Rage cost of Heroic Strike by 6, stacking up to 5 times. Lasts 10 sec. No longer refreshes while at 5 stacks.

Again, this is all very much in the formative stages. Any or all of the above could end up changing in any number of ways. But we are listening, and are doing our best to make Warrior gameplay awesome in Warlords.


Some of this I don't expect to see last very long - Unquenchable Thirst in particular strikes me as an ability that will become wholly abused if it goes live. No cooldown on Bloodthirst? So, what, you just hit Bloodthirst constantly in-between Colossus Smashes? Now, I personally like that kind of rage generation option - it's very Barbarian from Diablo III really, constantly filling up the rage bar. But I don't expect to see it actually get implemented. Still, it's very interesting to see Slam as a talent (even if it is an Arms only talent - frankly I'd like to see fury get a bite of that apple).

Still, arms really is desperately in need of some more attacks, so overall I'm curious and interested.


Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Man at Arms makes Frostmourne

If you haven't started watching Man at Arms, the awesome webseries where weapons from movies and video games are recreated by master blacksmith Tony Swatton, I have to wonder why not. The real draw of the show is that they go out of their way to make functional replicas, even when that's impractical - the weapons Swatton and his team create actually can be used, and usually are used at the end of the episode.

This week, after a round of voting, we finally get to see Swatton's take on Frostmourne, the infamous runeblade of the Lich King. Now, as far as I can tell they haven't mastered the necromancy that made Frostmourne so dangerous, but they did make a sword you can cut stuff up real good. Keep your eyes peeled at the end for a guest appearance by Michele Morrow at the end.

I won't lie, I'm still a little bummed we didn't get a Gorehowl. But this is a heck of an impressive build. I really think Blizzard should commission an Ashkandi from Mr. Swatton. And then give it to me.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Arts and Crafts

Most of Ghostcrawler's ideas were terrible, and that's awesome


Greg Street doesn't work at Blizzard anymore, but that hasn't stopped him (at all) from talking about game design and general product building concepts. As a industry nerd I find what he has to say incredibly interesting. A particular exchange recently happened:
Greg Street
My humble suggestion is that if you're not on board with a change, explain why, not that it was "promised."

-----

And even if it was a promise, you should still be thankful if bad ideas get killed.

-----

To underline even more: most of our ideas will be TERRIBLE. You don't want them in the game! Some will survive.

I absolutely love this. Designers fail, they're not perfect -- far from it. They're much like the artist who tries different combinations of things dozens of times until the music is perfected. And even then the song could be just a little bit better with just a little bit of a tweak. What Greg says here is entirely true and relevant, especially with today's issues the community is having with Blizzard.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Editorial: Change is hard, but not changing is even harder


Warcraft isn't what it used to be. There's been a lot of changes to everything over the past decade. While the base of the game is there in some regards, it's hard to say that the experience of WoW is anything like it was when some of us first picked it up. In 2004 the game was, quite literally, your second life. Now? It can be a casual companion, one that you can come and go from with ease.

This fundamental change doesn't sit well with some people, but with others its something that's allowed the game to keep with their lives after all these years. I fall into that category -- there's no way I'd be able to enjoy the WoW of 2004. I can't farm mats forever, and I can't spend five hours every night raiding. Some days I can only log in and play for 30 minutes, others I can binge for hours and hours. WoW has evolved as my life has evolved, and I love it for that.

Lately there has been a lot of unhappiness in the community. Changes that people don't agree with, things that have happened that make little sense to a lot of people. I'm in that group too -- I don't like everything I've heard out of Blizzard lately. I don't get the change of the capital locations. I don't understand the mass removal of abilities. And even though I'm happy about something like the auction house combination, I don't feel like we have all the answers and it leaves me wanting more details.

But, all that is secondary and needs to be put into some context -- and this context is something that the community needs to come to terms with quickly.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The Queue: Spikes

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

We have a number of quickie questions today. Some longer ones, but a lot of quickies, too.

BoltzmannHatchling asked:

Talking about Gorgrond, where all the spikes in Blade's Edge Mountains? I thought it was a remarkable and unique orogeny of that place, but Draenor lacks the "spikes" and can't seem to pin point them on the alphabeta maps. But if they are gone like my pools and volcanoes of green lava, then I understand...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

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