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Filed under: Expansions

IgroMir 2009: Cataclysm panel recaps

I touched on Blizzard's presence at IgroMir 2009, sort of the Russian E3, a bit previously, specifically about J. Allen Brack's panel regarding guild progression and leveling in Cataclysm. Of course, I had to Google-translate the panel from Russian (nyet, I do not know Russian, comrades), and not everything Blizzard-related from the whole convention was in the recaps I read.

Thankfully, Blizzard themselves have released their own recaps of the Cataclysm panel. In his talk, Brack discussed rated battlegrounds, Tol Barad (briefly), and guild progression. It turns out that I was pretty thorough in the guild leveling post, but here's the stuff I didn't cover:
  • Rated Battlegrounds will be an alternative way to gain Arena points for those who prefer large-scale PVP.
  • Your personal rating gain for a win will vary depending on the specific Battleground.
  • There'll be featured Battlegrounds each week with bonus rating gain for wins.
  • You will not lose points or rating for a Battleground loss.
  • Arena points can be used to purchase pets, mounts, vanity items, and perhaps best of all, the old honor system PVP titles like Grand Marshal.
  • Tol Barad will provide bonus daily quests and instances for the faction that wins the battle for the zone, somewhat like, as Brack put it, a cross between the Isle of Quel'Danas and Lake Wintergrasp.

You can check out our previous IgroMir post here, or read Blizzard's official recap on their IgroMir site.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In'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: News items, Expansions, Interviews, Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: Anticipation Syndrome

Okay, I admit it: waiting for Icecrown has started to drive me a little nuts.

Possibly it's as bad as it is because this time I'm much more aware of the incoming patch than I have been for previous ones. I've run the new five mans on the PTR and kept up with the Quel'Delar questline and watched the raid testing on streams. Meanwhile, one of my oldest WoW friends will not shut up about Blood Elf Warriors in Cataclysm. Seriously, he will not be quiet. I've tried ordering him to be quiet but then he just starts nattering on about the violence inherent in the system.

To a degree, all of this waiting for future patches and expansions is kind of getting in the way of enjoying what we have now. I'm starting to feel like I've lost track of all the current raiding and instance content and am just standing around trying to raid a dungeon that's not even in the game yet. (And it doesn't help with the song of Skinny the Belf Fury Warrior constantly ringing in my ears, either.) So now I turn once again to you, the viewers at home, and ask if you're feeling anticipation syndrome or not.

Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, Breakfast Topics, Expansions

Breakfast Topic: What falls away

My wife was watching the Cataclysm trailer last night on our TV (we've discovered the magical ability to stream video directly, it's all fantastic and magical and don't stare at me like that I know you all already knew how to do it) and turned to me with that particular look that means "I'm frustrated with something that you have no control over at all but you're the only one in the room" which, to be fair is a look I get as well from time to time.

Her brow furrowed as the list of upcoming features for Cataclysm scrolled by.Finally, she exhorted me to discover just what had happened to customizable dances. She also forced me to do an imitation of the voice over from the trailer if it were the only way anyone could talk. "I need to go raid the bathroom of unremembered eternity " I said in my best Chris Metzen as I considered her question. What did happen to customizable dances?

Or Stormwind Vault, for that matter? It's been in the game files since the game launched, but we've never heard a peep out of the place. It looks likely we'll get to raid Tol'Barad before we set foot inside the Vault. So now I'll ask you, what didn't make it into the game that still leaves you wondering, why?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Features

Know Your Lore: Highlord Darion Mograine

Welcome back to Know Your Lore,'s column about the story behind the game we all play.

Put simply, the Knights of the Ebon Blade are traitors to the Scourge. Like the Forsaken, they've broken free of the grasp of the Lich King due to the intercession of an external source - Sylvanas and the Forsaken escaped the Lich King's grasp when he was weakened due to the crack in the Frozen Throne and had to recall Arthas to Northrend, while the Knights were more autonomous than the average Scourge and regained their freedom following the events at Light's Hope Chapel. At LHC, the Knights were freed due to the actions of their Highlord, Darion Mograine.

If you played through the events of the Death Knight starting area, you already have a basic idea of the origins of the order, especially if you ran around Acherus reading books like I did. Some are funny, some are meaningful, and from them we can glean certain information about the history of the order before the events leading up to its break from the Lich King. If you've read the Ashbringer comic series, you're of course informed of some of this anyway. But there's still devils in those details for us to discuss.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Features, Lore, Know your Lore, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

[1.Local]: Preaching warlock hate with a sultry voice

Reader comments -- ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.

Last week was a milestone event for fans of Christian Belt, as he appeared for the first time ever on the WoW Insider Show. As of last weekend, however, fans who hadn't been able to catch the show live were still impatiently awaiting their chance to hear Archmage Pants in action.

Frank: Can't wait to hear Mr. Belt preach the warlock hate with his own sultry voice. Well, I assume it's sultry -- even if it's not, he could be channeling Fran Drescher, and I still would listen with rapt attention.

What other secret desires lurked among our readers' comments this week? Read on for more true confessions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Features, Humor, [1.Local]

China's GAPP halts WoW review, calls collecting subscriptions "illegal behavior"

Just when NetEase was finally getting back to business in China (they were even planning for a Wrath release next month), they hit a huge snag: China's General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) office has apparently halted their review of the game and told the company to stop collecting subscriptions and signing up new subscribers. They've also passed on the company's application to go into business, and have called the new subscription signups "illegal behavior," threatening even suspension of the company's Internet service.

We're not sure what happens from here -- an official from the country's Ministry of Culture has also said that the suspension of the review is "not appropriate," especially since the content under review had already been approved while the game was being run by The9, which may mean that it will be overturned just as quickly as it went down (and the game will be back in business before long). On the other hand, Netease may have jumped the gun -- they've been collecting subscriptions for a while, which they apparently weren't supposed to do without official GAPP approval (and we've heard before that GAPP might just want to delay the release of foreign games as long as possible). We'll keep an eye on the issue -- most analysts are saying that despite the threats, this is just another roadbump for NetEase, and they should still be back to collecting payments for the game soon.

Update: Stranger and stranger -- NetEase has released a statement saying they've gotten no official word from GAPP outside of the official press release. When you consider that along with the Ministry of Culture's comments, it seems that the government isn't quite sure whether they're approving the content or not.

Filed under: Realm News, Patches, News items, Expansions, The Burning Crusade

Breakfast Topic: The future of the Horde

One of the things that's continually surprised me since news broke on the likely changes to the Horde's leadership is how many otherwise die-hard Horde players have considered going Alliance. Yeah, yeah, most of it's probably idle threats anyway, but the real issue is one that's simmered for the length of Wrath's storyline. Lots of traditional Horde players are happy to fight under Thrall. Lots of traditional Horde players are...not so happy to fight under someone else.

The issue seems to be the growing rift between players and Horde leadership in Northrend, and the degree to which many of us can't identify with the sub-faction that eventually hijacks the Horde storyline. I burned Saurfang's letter as he asked. I nodded alongside Golluk Rockfist as he told Horde players, "You are leaving to the Ruby Dragonshrine. This is not a request." I sat with Thrall in his darkest moments in the Undercity throne room, when he realized that everything was lost.

By contrast, I /facepalmed my way through Icecrown.

Spoiler material past the break.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Lore, Factions

Breakfast topic: Faction fanboyism

It's not unusual to see player speculation on what we'll see when Cataclysm arrives, and most of us have our own private wish lists. I'm sure I could come up with my own if I thought about it, but while riding between Kamagua and Moa'ki Harbor last night on the Kalu'ak ferry lazily chatting with people, it occurred to me that one of the things I'd kill to have again is another faction like the Tuskarr.

These guys are, for lack of a better word, awesome. Their emotes are fantastic. They sell an evil penguin pet and a cool fishing item (the Mastercraft Kalu'ak Fishing Pole) that probably won't be replaced for the duration of the expansion. Their ships are giant turtles traveling along beautiful coastline with a vendor on board (seriously, riding these at night = an endless series of Kodak moments). They get my vote as the faction that immerses you most thoroughly in what they need and what they're doing to survive in an increasingly hostile Azeroth, and I'm wondering if, given Northrend's various difficulties, they might be convinced to seek warmer climes just so we don't have to give them up.

Agonizing rep grinds have plagued the game since classic, but the Tuskarr are such a well-realized bunch that even at exalted I love hanging around their villages. What's your favorite faction, and is there anything about them you'd like to see repeated with future reputation grinds?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Factions

New raid testing schedule posted: Festergut, Rotface, and the Gunship battle

Blizzard has posted the schedule this week for testing of the new bosses in Icecrown Citadel on the patch 3.3 PTR. Here's what Slorkuz on the EU forums says is going down:

October 21 at 7PM EDT / 4PM PDT - Festergut
October 22 at 7PM EDT / 4PM PDT - Icecrown Gunship Battle

October 21 at 19:30 CEST - Rotface
(this test is already over, unfortunately)
October 22 at 19:30 CEST - Icecrown Gunship Battle

As always, these schedules and everything else on the PTR is subject to change at a moment's notice. You can find short descriptions of what we know about the bosses after the break.

Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas.'s Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

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Filed under: Patches, Expansions, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Just like it used to be

This week, The Care and Feeding of Warriors chronicles a turn. After 11 months as fury, Matthew Rossi has changed gears and transitioned his role once more. Sometimes you can go home again.

I've given fury up for dead. Not because it actually is dead. You can do good DPS with it if you have best in slot gear in every slot, which is par for the course with fury, really... I'm sure we'll see some nerfs heading into patch 3.3 to soft reset fury DPS to keep it below everyone else the same way we did going into Ulduar. But for me, it's not even the fact that you have to gear with a spreadsheet and compete with every other physical DPS class for those few drops that actually have the stats you want, it's the fact that when you do this, you get to follow the exact same stultifying rotation we've had since forever. Fury may or may not be fine, but frankly, it's gotten boring.

Bloodsurge can only make up for so much. At least with an Arms spec, while the DPS is slightly less, you get to do fun things. And so my DPS spec is now arms all the way since I have Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader gear to support it, a honking great 2h sword (and so far I'm liking the retooled sword spec) and plenty of things to swing it at. Arms is active. You're constantly using abilities, and while it's ultimately almost as predictable as fury when you get right down to it, it doesn't feel like it is. Between keeping your Rend active (letting it fall off then reapplying it for maximum Overpowers), hitting Sudden Death Executes and Slam in between MS and Overpower feels less like a clunky, hit this key then that key then this key rotation and more like you're weaving in attacks.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Patch 3.3 PTR Roundup Madness

Totem Talk is the column for shamans. Matthew Rossi has been eying the PTR with an eye towards what path his shaman will take as we march on Icecrown. This week we talk about it.

Before I say anything else, let me reassure elemental shamans, your Tier 10 relic is going to have haste instead of crit. Coming from someone who is at best a middling elemental shaman, even I knew that crit isn't terribly compelling to a spec that can force a crit whenever it wants. We covered the relics the other day, but I wanted to make sure to go over that change in case anyone was scratching their head at a crit totem for a spec that doesn't really need it anymore.

Yesterday's changes on the PTR weren't terribly expansive, so let's reproduce the relevant ones here.
  • Elemental - Your Earth Shock, Flame Shock, and Frost Shock spells grant 73 critical strike rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. (We now know this will be haste for 30 seconds.)
  • Enhancement - Your Stormstrike ability grant 146 attack power rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
  • Restoration - Your Riptide spell grants 85 spell power for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Back to where you once belonged

I always knew this day would come.

I was a tank all through Burning Crusade. A proper tank, no less, none of that arms specced but tanking anyway nonsense you could get away with in the original raid game. I was prot spec and I liked it! Sure, our AoE threat was ludicrously bad. Sure, I had to spam Devastate and HS so much that I grew a nasty cyst on my wrist. Sure, I kept having to deal with DPS players who had never tanked a day in their lives giving me tanking advice in the middle of a fight. To say I got stressed out would be an understatement. To say I ran screaming to a guild I'd been in back in the old days of WoW to take up a DPS spec and get as far away from tanking as I could would be accurate.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: With great power...

Everyone once in a while it occurs to me that our various level 80 characters actually are, in terms of relative power, astonishing. We've killed Old Gods, fought a herald of the titans, even balked the Lich King himself. But to be honest, it's not any of those things that brings it home to me.

No. It's events like this weekend, when I was trying to get my level 41 paladin through Stranglethorn Vale as fast as possible (because, you know, it's bloody awful) and came upon a level 80 DK and his level 63 rogue buddy slaughtering all the quest givers. I couldn't see what levels they were (to the pally, they were skull level) so I decided to switch over to my warrior (after I got cocky and flagged hoping to draw them to attack me, which they did... level 41 pally went boom) and come clean them out. It wasn't until I arrived in Booty Bay I realized that the DK was wearing heirlooms and greens... well, to be honest, I only realized that when I hit him twice with my Sharpened Obsidian Edged Blade and he fell down. The rogue died from the ancillary whirlwind.

The first thing I did after cackling and thinking about how to work this into a post (which, as you can see, I managed - I realized about an hour later that I should have remember their names) was to think about how it rarely even occurs to me just how fast gear escalates. I can remember doing the daily quests for Knights of the Ebon Blade reputation out on the Scarlet Onslaught island, carefully pulling groups of one or two and stopping to eat or bandage between pulls. Now I pull groups of 8 to 10 at a time and don't even have to stop to eat, period. With patch 3.3 coming and with it a new raid of even more powerful gear, by the end of the expansion's cycle will we just pull the entire island in one go?

So once again I turn to you, readers - how much is too much? Are we even going to need to upgrade at all before we hit 85 in Cataclysm? Or are things progressing just as they should and the fact that my shaman can go resto and run through the Argent Tournament dailies letting his fire totems do they killing while he AFK's and trust Earth Shield and Healing Stream to keep him alive is just a consequence of gear evolution, nothing to be concerned about?

Filed under: Rogue, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Death Knight

The two steps of ability development

After someone asks a question on the forums about the new Mage Tier 10 bonus and the numbers behind it, Ghostcrawler brings up a little interesting insight into the way Blizzard puts these abilities and attributes together. He says that there are two steps to implementing a new ability: mechanics first, and then numbers later. That may seem common sense (and to a certain extent, it definitely is), but it's interesting to note that it's always what the ability does first, and then numbers later. Blizzard is much less likely (relatively speaking of course, and there are plenty of exceptions to this rule) to put a new ability into the game than just tweak current numbers.

It makes sense, and if there's a new ability you've been waiting to see in the game, maybe the reason Blizzard hasn't tackled it yet is that they're working on tweaking numbers to try and fix it without starting up a new mechanic. Ghostcrawler also says that this is the PTR we're dealing with, and so of course those Tier 10 bonuses aren't set in stone yet, just like everything else being tested. They don't call it the PTR for nothing.

Filed under: Mage, Tips, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions

Updating player graphics

Well, Jaina got her upgrade already, and we've heard that other NPCs may be looking a little better very soon. But what about us players? Don't we get a cool, slick new look too? Vaneras has the answer: erm, maybe. As you may have noticed, our armor has been getting updated as we've gone along -- the Tier 10 armor is much clearer and more stylish (well, depending on who you talk to) than the original tier gear that dropped way back when. But as for the actual player models, Vaneras says it's something that Blizzard would like to do, but it's all a matter of time and priority. They'll get around to it, sure, but only when it makes sense for them to spend the time on it.

Which is what we've heard before, really -- J. Allen Brack told us way back that things would be updated bit by bit rather than having a major patch be focused on updating everything you can see on screen. Still, Cataclysm, the expansion that redoes the old world and all of its old models, might be a good time to do exactly this and revamp players' looks as well. We can tell you for sure that the worgen and goblins are going to look very nice (not to mention the draenei and the blood elves, both with more detailed models than the launch races), so maybe it is time that the original races got smoother look of their own.

Filed under: Human, Orcs, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Expansions, Hardware, Cataclysm

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