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Faction Changes Q&A


Perhaps the biggest news in the past week -- aside from 'Cataclysm', that is -- hasn't been Patch 3.2 itself but a service Blizzard has apparently been working on for some time. Paid faction changes. We received quite a number of tips about it and even saw our story make a cameo on Attack of the Show. Players have been asking for something like this for a while, and there have been incidents of entire guilds rerolling from scratch to defect.

Of course, with the shocking news comes a lot of questions, so Nethaera hops on over to the forums and answered a few concerns that players had. The biggest bummer for me was that I couldn't change race within my own faction! So... let me get this straight... I can change faction and become a totally different race but I can't swap my Blood Elf Death Knight into an Orc? Blasphemy! Unfortunately Blizzard doesn't think choice of race isn't something you can regret unlike faction choice. Anyway, more answers after the jump...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Forums

Breakfast Topic: Would you change your faction?


Earlier this week we reported on Nethaera's stunning revelation that faction changes were in the works. Yeah, I was just as amazed. It might just be an idea at the moment, a work in progress which we might not get access to until a patch or even the next expansion. The logistics are mind-boggling. Would this be a literally blending of species into factions so Humans could join the Horde and Taurens the Alliance or would your character literally be transformed into another species? How exactly would the lore work around that? We've had character customisation for a while now and the ability to change gender but changing faction and possibly even species. That a whole new kettle of fish.

So, constant readers, in the wake of this bombshell I'm very eager to know what you think. Does the very idea of changing faction seem contrary to how the game works? Would you consider jumping factions? Would you rather see characters choose whether to become Horde or Alliance? Could you change your very species to join the opposing faction? From a lore perspective, how do you think would this work and, indeed, does it need to have a basis in lore? After all no one questioned the gender change. What do you think?

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Breakfast Topics, Forums

Breakfast topic: When Blizzard listens

For years it has been a running joke that the level 11 elite Hogger should be a high level raid boss. Every server will have heard talk of a 40-man Hogger run or re-rolling a bunch of level 1's just to tackle this insurmountable foe. He is surely the scourge of Alliance toons everywhere simply because he is the first elite we encounter as we explore Elwynn. Well, it seems Blizzard have listened, Boubouille over at MMO Champion has been datamining the 3.2 patch files and has discovered tidbits about some of the bosses we'll be fighting. Indeed the most interesting part involves memories of past encounters -- including Hogger. Yes, you can also fight Algalon, Onyxia, Illidan and Edwin VanCleef but Hogger is the most important. What confuses me though is whose memories are you fighting? Those of your own past encounters or those of one of the Argent Crusade? If it's the former, what happens if you've not fought said boss? What if you're Horde?

But I digress. While you can bet Hogger won't be a level 11 anymore, it's a shocking revelation. While we know Blizzard pays attention to what WoW players are saying, it's nice to be reminded of that. So I want to know your reactions? Is it a good thing for Blizzard to pander to player's whims? Do you think reminding players where they came from and their past triumphs is a good thing? Not so keen? Is it just an excuse to be lazy and rehash old content? Tell us, constant readers, and drop your thoughts in the box below.

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Raiding, Lore, Bosses, RP, Forums

World first of "Alone in the Darkness" a possible exploit

We reported last week that a guild named Exodus on the US realm of Ysondre had come out of nowhere to topple the world first of the Heroic: Alone in the Darkness achievement, which requires that you bring down the biggest bad currently in the game, Yogg-Saron, with no help from any of the Keepers in Ulduar. But not so fast, says Serennia over at WoWRiot -- over on their forums Ensidia is claiming that Exodus used an exploit, and that their kill doesn't count at all. Apparently, having Thorim help on the fight keeps the "Immortal Guardians" in the last phase of the fight from being a problem, and without Thorim, you have to not only do the fight without his extra 10% damage bonus (each Keeper ups your DPS that much), but you have to deal with the Guardians messing up your melee classes, and oh yeah: they both heal and get healed by Yogg. Not that it's impossible to do it, but it's definitely not easy, and Ensidia claims that Exodus found a known exploit that allows you to evade the Guardians out completely, thus turning the last phase into a straight tank-and-spank, obviously much easier.

After that, it gets into some guild back and forth (Ensidia apparently did something that might have been an exploit on Hodir, and when people call them out on that, they say that the exploits were different -- Ensidia's tactic was just an interesting use of game mechanics, while the exploit Exodus is suspected of using is more of a cheat), but the fact remains that Exodus is clearly not a guild that anyone expected to clear what might be the toughest raiding achievement in the game before anyone else, and yet that's exactly what they did. Ensidia says they won't be killing Yogg for the achievement using the exploit, and that they've reported the Exodus kill to the devs, so we'll have to see if the devs decide that Exodus did cheat, or if they let Exodus keep their achievements and mounts. We're not sure how much it all matters, with world first kills not being all that important any more (and that's exactly what the devs might say as well), but Ensidia is claiming that an exploit took place -- we'll have to see if that turns out to be true.

Thanks, Nimrod!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding, Bosses, Forums

Arcane Brilliance: More questions than answers

Each week Arcane Brilliance endeavors to bring you all the latest news and notes from the land of Mages. This week, the subject is questions and the answers they conjure forth. The way it works is this: you wiggle your fingers for a while, ask some questions, and then poof! Blizzard gives you a cinnamon roll and a glass of water and sends you on your way.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, really, when Blizzard proposed this whole "class Q&A" series over on the official forums. When the initial post showed up, asking us to pose questions of the development team, Mages everywhere seized the opportunity to air grievances, request clarification, and make suggestions. The thread quickly swelled to epic proportions, and I waited, intensely curious, for Ghostcrawler's response. How many of our questions would be answered, and in how much detail? How much concrete information would we get? Which of the issues raised in the thread would be addressed, instead of just glossed over?

We got our answer post last week, and it turns out the answer to almost all of those questions appears to be: "Not a whole lot."

Join me after the break where we'll break it down Hammer-style.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Raiding, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Forums

Ghostcrawler on why Bluetrackers suck

Ghostcrawler has finally said on the forums what I've been saying for a while here on WoW.com and elsewhere: using blue text on the forums as a way of disseminating information is "a strange way to communicate." He's been appending the words "[Not tracked]" to some of his posts so they don't end up on the official "bluetracker," because a lot of what he posts is just silly and fun and not to be pored over and examined (especially without the context of the other posts around it). But all of those posts are still picked up by the unofficial bluetrackers that many players follow, and he laments that it's annoying to have people jump in on threads without reading all the context: "you end up looking like a real jerk half the time."

I would never call GC a jerk, but it's clear to see what he means -- sending out information via official posts on the forum is something Blizzard has done for a long time, and it's really a bad way to go about it. To their credit, they've been trying lots of new things lately, from official interviews to class Q&As and just plain releasing official information on the site. But I've always thought (and still think) that the company could use an official blog -- back when I was playing Dark Age of Camelot, I really enjoyed all of their work on the Camelot Herald, and I think Blizzard would benefit from something more like that. They do have a section for official news on the front page, but that's mostly licensed items and marketing information, not actual updates to the game.

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Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, Forums

The long wait for a Green Proto-drake


The WoW CMs continue their polling of rare and hard-to-find items: first, we got queried on Mr. Pinchy, and now the forums have a poll about that more recent bounty, the Reins of the Green Proto-drake. As you probably already know, you have to first get revered with the Murloc faction of the Oracles, and then you have to buy a "Mysterious Egg" once every seven days from their quartermaster... that probably hasn't yet given you the mount you want. Personally, I've gotten plenty of Aged Yolks and quite a few noncombat pets, but not my Proto-drake.

And my experience is hardly singular -- according to the poll, a full 55% of respondents have not yet opened up their Cracked Eggs to find the mount. 4% found it on their first try (bastards -- that number seems incredibly high), and almost 14% went for the joke "Oracles?" answer, or maybe just have no idea what the question is about. Obviously this is hardly a scientific poll, so we can't calculate drop rates or anything like that (most database sites put the drop at around 2%, which means on average 50 eggs to a drake, or almost a year of farming), but it's pretty clear that the Proto-drake is a supremely rare commodity.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Mounts, Forums

Blizzard discusses the state of PvP


One thread over at the forums sparked quite a discussion when it asked what the problem was with World of Warcraft PvP. It's a pretty good question and definitely not something with a simple answer, but Ghostcrawler took up the task and addressed several issues in his usual forthcoming fashion. In a nutshell, Blizzard views the following issues as the primary problems of PvP:
  • Too much emphasis on Arenas and not enough on Battlegrounds.
  • Too much emphasis on 2s and not enough on 3s and 5s.
  • Not enough class / spec representation in Arena. Warlock, hunter and shaman numbers in particular are too low, but they're not the only ones.
  • Too fast-paced.
Ghostcrawler proceeded to explain the last point in detail, talking once again about burst damage and reiterating their intent that PvP should be a balance between damage, healing, and crowd control. He says that Blizzard plans to "add an extra GCD or two" in the small window where a player can either be healed to full or fall to enemy fire, allowing players to better use their full toolbox. Anyone who has ever played Arenas should know that that's a pretty tall order.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Forums, Battlegrounds, Arena

Ghostcrawler talks about 3.2 Hunter changes

I don't know about you, but with all these announcements about the 3.2 Patch being released. I have been sitting idly by gnawing at the bit and tempted to shout out, "Ghostcrawler! What are you going to do about us Hunters! Show us some love already!"

Well it seems that our favorite Lead Systems Designer must have had the same thought as he posted up some insights over on the Official Forums in the Hunter's Questions and Commentary thread.

In typical Ghostcrawler style we get no promises (I guess that pony is still not happening. Sorry Eliah.). But we do get some pretty interesting insights on what the Blizzard development team is considering to do to fix some very common complaints.

  • Ammo costs
  • Pet scaling
  • Crowd control and trapping

Read on for more details.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Blizzard, News items, Forums

Ghostcrawler: Totem position will always matter

We've talked about the limits and benefits of totems before, but Shamans have pretty much agreed that, especially since totems are starting to see some shared usage with other classes' spells, they could really use a revamp in terms of base mechanics. The main issue is simply mobility -- totems are designed to be dropped and immobile, and that on its own starts them at a disadvantage when compared to buffs that are placed directly on players. There have been lots of ideas passed around about how to get out from under that limit -- a "relay" totem that could spread buffs around, a mobile totem attached to the Shaman him/herself, or just a kind of totem pet that could be directed by the Shaman as needed.

But Ghostcrawler just plain says no. In response to many issues with the totem mechanic, he chooses to focus on mobility, saying the fact that Shaman totems have limited range and must be placed in certain places is intrinsic to the way the class functions. He admits that totem mechanics are being examined (the main issue the OP has is totem health, and indeed, it may be tough for Shamans to keep both their totems and their mana up), but says that mobility is not a change they're planning for: totems are designed to be strategically placed once, and that's the way they'll stay.

Bad news? Not really -- when I played as a Shaman, and for most of the Shamans I know, the totem mechanic is something to be proud of. Sure it's a pain, but a physical manifestation of the spells and buffs we cast is unique to the class. The only issue will be whether Blizzard makes up for that disadvantage in some other way -- so far, it seems most totem-droppers would say they haven't.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Classes, Buffs, Forums

Totem Talk: Analysis of Shaman Q&A


This week saw the first of Blizzard's class Q&A columns. Amazingly, we shamans got to go first. While Eliah already covered the basics for us, I thought going in depth with the discussion would be worthwhile. There's a lot of information in the Q&A as a whole to go over and discuss. For example:

  • One longer-term change we are considering is removing the buff totems (replacing them with normal spells) and making all of the totems do something more active, like the current damage or healing totems. We've even discussed letting shamans carry a totem on their back (the tauren do it already) but that may be too far out there.
No, no it's not too out there. Make it happen, make it happen now please. I don't care if you have to make a new weapon category that only shamans can equip for this to happen, I want to see shamans with those great big honking totems on their backs already.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Forums

Breakfast Topic: Have you ever actually met a GM in-game?


One of the things which captivated me when I first started playing WoW were the whispered myths surrounding GMs. Being that this was my first proper foray into the magical and mysterious world of online gaming I had no real idea of what exactly their strange beings where except that they were uber-powerful and acted as both peacekeepers on the forums and tech support in-game.

Over the years, I've submitted my fair share of tickets. Indeed once during the Wrath beta I and a bunch of other hapless explorers got trapped under Dalaran bank and I had to ask a GM to teleport them out (being a druid I just teleported to Moonglade -- after twenty minutes of waiting for my hearthstone to cooldown and them remembering I had an escape route). However in all my dealings with them in-game I've never actually met a GM in-game (on the other hand I've met a bunch in real life). So I want to know, readers, have you ever seen a GM with your own (virtual) eyes? Did they appear to you in that robe get up seen in the manual or as something a little more scary? Come on and spill the beans, I want to hear about all your fascinating GM encounters!

Filed under: Virtual selves, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Zarhym explains Druid form colour combos


Doubtless Druids all around the world are still absorbing the new-look Night Elf cat form which was announced yesterday. We know Blizzard was going for something of a colour-coded approach, trying to match skins to that of their owners but what does it all mean? Well, blue Zarhym posted on the forums this morning and went into a little more detail.

It seems that rather than being able to go 'oh I'll have the white kitty with the cut pink gem on it's collar', that your form is actually linked to your toon's physical appearance. Yes, you can easily change how your bear or cat form will look but the only was to do this, in my understanding, is by visiting a barber shop and changing the skin tone (and/or hair) of your Druid in humanoid form.

Zarhym puts it better than I:

"Now that everyone has had a chance to check out the new art for druid cat and bear forms, we'd like to share with you the current break down of Tauren skin tones and Night Elf hair colors associated with each form color. Please note that, while we have attempted to associate each form color as carefully as possible, this list is subject to change before the next major content patch goes live. All options for skin tone (Tauren) and hair color (Night Elves) are listed below followed by the forms that will be associated with each set of tones/colors."

Click on the jump to see what your druid is going to look like.

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Filed under: Druid, Patches, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Forums

Should rage only come from damage dealt?

Should warriors and druids no longer generate rage from damage taken? Ghostcrawler mentions this as a possibility being considered to change the way warriors and druids tank, one that would eliminate difficulties when rage-using tanks take too little damage/avoid too many attacks and have trouble tanking content that they outgear or are using avoidance heavy gear to tank.

  • Having warriors only or mostly generate rage from damage done is an intriguing idea that has come up a few times. It would help the problem where better gear leads to rage starvation (at least in lower instances) and where warriors have trouble OT'ing because they aren't getting hit. It might also get warriors to care slightly more about dps stats instead of focusing mostly on survival stats. This would all apply to druids too. This isn't a change we have in the pipe, but it is something we discuss from time to time.

Of course, this would require a real shift in how warrior/druid tanking mechanics worked. It would also have massive effects in PvP: it would essentially break the pattern of design that makes focus firing a warrior in PvP a slightly more risky proposition, since if you don't kill them they'll turn your own damage back on you. (It could also mean that switching to bear as a survival strategy in PvP for druids would become hobbling.) It's a very interesting idea: as a warrior who is currently DPS, I know that rage starvation can be a real issue when you're reliant on damage dealt, any misses or dodged/parried attacks can sink your rotation, so hit and expertise would become even more aggressively important stats for tanks.

There's a lot of issues to consider, but it would make all warriors and all rage based tanks more balanced with each other. No more praying for rage after a dodge streak, no more taking off your pants to run a heroic if you're in raid gear, and more attention paid to parity between DPS and tanking rage use. I'm not sure I want to see so big a change in the game, and I'm certainly hoping they do it right if they do it at all.

Filed under: Druid, Warrior, News items, Instances, Raiding, Forums

Some realms suffer extended downtime [Updated]


Bornakk hopped on to the forums to confirm the fears of many players who don't happen to have their World of Warcraft clients handy to tell them the same thing: some realms are going to be down for a while and Blizzard doesn't know when they're coming back up. According to Bornakk, they are experiencing "additional issues" with some realms as well as issues with the launcher being unable to update game clients. They currently have no estimate for the return of the realms, which do not appear on the game client's realm list, but will provide more details at around 2:30 3:30pm PDT. A complete list of affected realms after the jump.

[UPDATE: Nethaera reports that Blizzard "encountered a serious error" with the listed realms and are working towards a resolution. Unfortunately, there is still no estimate for when the realms will come back up and more details should be available at 5:30pm PDT. The situation has a small silver lining, however, as Blizzard is considering "appropriate compensation" for the additional downtime experienced by players on those realms. Stay tuned to WoW.com for further updates.]

[UPDATE 2:
Nethaera updates her post to explain that the network improvements intended for all realms resulted in a connection error which has taken some time to identify and fix. While she notes that the connection error itself has for the most part been resolved (which is why some of the affected realms now show up on the realm list), the affected realms have yet to undergo the regular weekly maintenance and patching procedure. This means a much, much longer downtime than anticipated. Nethaera hopes to give further updates by 7:30pm PDT. Time to reroll, I guess.]

[UPDATE 3:
Looks like they're doing a little more work tonight on all realms to address a few issues. More information in our post here.]

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Filed under: Realm News, Bugs, Realm Status, Blizzard, Forums

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