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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Never enough time

One of the absurdities of playing an MMO for any length of time, much less for ten years, is that you see certain cycles repeat again and again. For instance, I've seen players make the same assumptions about personal experiences in the game being universal so many times that I could republish that post every two weeks and it would be relevant. Another way I've seen the same cycle repeat multiple times since the end of Burning Crusade is this - people always complain (myself included) that the expansion is taking too long to get here and we're sick of the old content, and then, as soon as the new expansion is announced, we start panicking (myself included) to get certain things finished that we could have done long, long before the expansion ever got close to done.

I mean, I have six characters on various stages of the legendary cloak quest, that I just never bothered to finish up on because reasons. I don't think I can argue I haven't had enough time. It's September. Nine months seems more than adequate to have gotten that done, and yet, nope. Just never bothered to do it. In a way I feel like the extreme length of the content drought lulled me into a false complacency. A year in SoO seemed so monumentally long that it never really sank in that yes, it is long - but it still had an end date.

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

Get your Thundering Serpent Hatchling while you can

Challenge modes will be making an exit with the launch of Patch 6.0.2 -- players looking to get their Challenge Mode gear should do so before the patch hits. But one of the sometimes overlooked bonuses of Challenge Modes is going away as well. The Thundering Serpent Hatchling, a reward from the Challenge Conquerors: Gold - Guild Edition achievement, will also be taking its leave with the release of the patch, according to a tweet by Senior Game Designer Jonathan LeCraft.


Players might not know about this sparky little Battle Pet, especially if they've recently joined a guild. The Thundering Serpent Hatchling isn't rewarded solely to the people that earned the achievement for the guild, it's a pet that is unlocked on the Guild Vendor. Anyone with at least Revered guild reputation can purchase it, but the serpent cannot at this time be caged -- which means you aren't going to find this little guy floating around on the Auction House. If you haven't picked him up yet, you might want to do so now -- because there's been no mention made of any possible future return.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Voice acting in Warlords of Draenor

There was a moment in the Warlords of Draenor beta when I realized that I was getting a quest from Frank Welker. Aka Megatron. Aka Nibbler from Futurama. Aka a million other voices. The man has 728 credits as an actor on IMDB, and here he is, doing a voice in the Warlords beta. Specifically, Reshad the storekeeper. See, they recently added a ton of voice acting to the beta - pretty much every character you interact with has significant voice work put into it, and for the most part it's frankly stunning. I'm not trying to exaggerate here, but the difference between this expansion and, as an example, Lady Sindragosa's Betraaaaaaaaays you dialogue is night and day.

Heck, just pop over to Frostfire Ridge at level 90, or run through the Tanaan Jungle opening, and you'll hear a variety of voice actors, more so than World of Warcraft has ever boasted.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Did you miss in Pandaria?: Hopling hunt

Finding a golden hopling
Stormstout Brewery is all about the beer, but the coolest item from this dungeon actually involves tea. Specifically, you'll need Ling-Ting's Favorite Tea, which "may cause the user to see strange things." Who is Ling-Ting? What is she into? We don't know, but we can guess.

You can buy this tea from Auntie Stormstout at the beginning of the dungeon for 5 gold. I recommend buying more than one if you're going to try for this achievement during a run, since the buff only lasts 5 minutes. However, it's probably best to complete the dungeon first and go back so you aren't holding up the group.

With the buff active, you can see Golden Hoplings scattered around the dungeon. Turning on nameplates allows for easier hop-spotting. Track Humanoids abilities also reveal the hoplings on your minimap. Another way to find them is to target and mark them with a macro:

/target Golden Hopling
/script SetRaidTarget("target",4)

(Credit to Rakenaid on Wowhead.com)

You need to find 30 hoplings. The final one sits underneath the mask of the defeated Yan-Zhu the Uncasked, assuming you've cleared the place. Once you find them all, you'll earn the Ling-Ting's Herbal Journey achievement, which is required for the Glory of the Pandaria Hero meta.

You'll also receive the excellent Hopling pet in the mail. The only other way to get a virmen battle pet is to collect 250 pets for the Going to Need More Leashes achievement, which is much harder if you don't already have a large collection.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

The war between narrative and game mechanics

I've long had a complicated relationship with the story of Warcraft. Once, I was enamored by the world they've created -- I was one of the earlier contributors to Know Your Lore, eager to share my love of the franchise's narrative. I'm no longer so enamored. I don't hate it, but neither do I love it. I'm not angry, I'm disappointed. Yes, I often disagree with the narrative choices Blizzard has made with their story, but moreso I come to realize World of Warcraft is burdened by itself in respect to its narrative. Story and game mechanics are in constant conflict, and when you're looking at a game like WoW and a company like Blizzard (with their focus on tight gameplay), story will lose that battle every time. Blizzard has mentioned more than once that orcs versus humans is the core element of Warcraft. Whenever the narrative tries to move back to the roots of the franchise, that's where it goes. And that's the problem.

The war between the Alliance and the Horde can never end. Worse, it can never progress -- and the characters involved in that war story cannot progress unless removed from it. Mists of Pandaria made this more obvious than it has ever been before.

Boneheaded heroes

For the sake of parity, let's look at both Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall. These two characters have had a history together since Warcraft III. Not a romantic history as some like to claim, but a history. They were allies. Both of them held out hope for peace between the Horde and the Alliance for years. Both of them made sacrifices in the hopes of accomplishing it, Jaina moreso than any other, allowing the Horde to kill her orc-slaying father. They were both powerful, influential people in their respective factions. The events of Warcraft III made us believe they might achieve that peace. World of Warcraft showed us otherwise.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Mists of Pandaria in review

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.

With the introduction of the Warlords of Draenor cinematic, short story Hellscream, and the Lords of War animated shorts, we can pretty much tack an official "The End" on Mists of Pandaria. All tie in material has been or is in the process of being released, and all new and upcoming content seems to be focusing on the expansion ahead. Although Warlords of Draenor won't launch until November, we can pretty much consider Mists of Pandaria over and done with, story-wise.

Which means it's time to do one of my favorite things to do -- head back and review the expansion in its entirety. It's not really fair to review a book based solely on one chapter, after all. Mists of Pandaria might have seemed like a fairly simple concept from the announcement of the expansion, but it actually played out into a reasonably complex story over the course of four content patches. So how does the story of Mists hold up against its predecessors?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Currency Changes coming for Patch 6.0

We mentioned already that item upgrades would become purchasable with Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. Now, Blizzard has clarified a host of changes to how currency will work in Patch 6.0 and beyond. In addition to being used to upgrade items, Lesser Charms will now be directly tradeable for Warforged Seals, and there's no longer a restriction on how many you can get in a week - You can dump literally all of your Lesser Charms to Seals if you so desire.

Other changes include the utter removal of Valor and Justice points (not Honor/Conquest, those remain), the removal of the Test of Valor component of the legendary cloak quest (you can still get the cloak, you just don't need to get the Valor points first), and the switching of all honor/justice items over to costing gold to purchase, including heirloom items.

You can read the post here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Siege of Orgrimmar gear will not become multi-spec in 6.0

If you're waiting for the big multi-spec gear shift when patch 6.0 drops, you'll have to wait a little longer. Rygarius took to the forums today to clarify that the gear that drops in SoO will not be changed to the system announced for Warlords of Draenor.

Rygarius - 5.4 SoO Gear Conversion
Hey Danthedruid,

Gear obtained from Siege of Orgrimmar won't be multi-spec. That's for the new items that will be obtained in Warlords of Draenor. There's no change to existing item levels and they'll will retain their upgrade ranks. If they were reforged they'll be returned into an unreforged state.

Some of the details are still being worked out. We'll be posting more information once there's more info for the remaining stuff.


Basically, this means that you'll still need multiple sets to do things like tank or heal or DPS as long as your wearing gear from Mists of Pandaria - it's not until Warlords itself comes out that you'll get the gear which switches when you do.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

New players get World of Warcraft free until September 26th

You read that right. It's apparently as easy as downloading the Battle.net app, using it to download World of Warcraft and launching the game. If you're on the fence about returning or have someone you want to show the game off to, now is possibly the best time imaginable, since you won't have to pay for the majority of the month. There's also a helpful link to Blizzard's beginner's guide, which can help you dive in and get started in WoW.

Probably a pretty good time for a promotion like this, with a lot of people having let their subs lapse during the long content drought, it's an easy way to try and ease some of them back into the game while also giving new players a painless way to explore whether or not WoW is the game for them.

Edit: Turns out it's not all new players. It's part of a specific email promotion.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Did you miss in Pandaria? Gold from lost treasures

Swarmkeeper's Medallion in the marsh
Looking to increase your liquid assets before Warlords of Draenor launches? A little treasure hunting now can help you prepare for expansion expenses.

Mine smarter, not harder

The Ancient Pandaren Mining Pick grants more than just the basic +10 to mining bonus that any ordinary pick provides. It also gives you a chance to mine gems from ore nodes in Pandaria.

The pick is part of the Lost and Found achievement chain that eventually asks you to find 20 lost treasures. To find it, you'll need to travel to the Jade Forest and search the Greenstone Mine. It can spawn in several locations throughout the cave, either leaning against a wall or embedded in a vein of jade.

Even today, the pick is one of the more highly sought lost treasures. I recommend choosing a character you don't use very often and parking him or her in the mine to check for the pick every so often. Just note that you can't see any lost treasures unless your character is at least level 85. This ancient tool is bind on account, so you can mail it to your miner after you unearth it.

Swiftness of the swarm

While you're mining (or doing anything else) in the Dread Wastes, the Swarmkeeper's Medallion can help you get around the zone faster, increasing your income per hour. Look for a tiny necklace on a mound of dirt in a marshy area just north of Kypari Zar.

Unlike the pick, the medallion is bind on pickup. Make sure the character who loots it is the one who can use this speed boost to best effect.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Did you miss in Pandaria?: The (other) Butcher

Transformed into Krastinov
The Diablo series has a boss called The Butcher who's been more prominent lately with his appearance in Diablo III. But let's not forget that WoW has its own. Doctor Theolen "The Butcher" Krastinov was a boss in the original version of Scholomance. Upon engaging him, he would let you know that "The doctor is in!" You had to kill him to summon the optional boss Kirtonos. Like many other bosses, he was removed from Scholomance during its revamp.

Or was he?

Now, Krastinov is actually a rare spawn that has a small chance to replace one of the trash packs following Rattlegore. He only spawns in the level 90 heroic version of Scholomance. Krastinov has the same abilities as his first incarnation: a bleed, a stun, and a self-Bloodlust effect.

He only has one item on his loot table, with a 100% chance to drop. Krastinov's Bag of Horrors is a transformation item that lets you sport the doctor's fashion, including his trademark bloody cleavers, for 10 minutes. It's a tribute to the quest item of the same name from classic WoW's Ghosts of Caer Darrow chain. We never knew exactly what was in that bag, and we never wanted to.

For you collectors out there, the bag has already been flagged as a toy in Warlords of Draenor.


Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

The incredible aging demographic

Let me put it on the line - LFR and Flexible raid sizes are the most important raiding experiences currently available in World of Warcraft, and the upcoming Mythic 20 person raid difficulty is an atavism, barely even an appendix, that only a vanishing few players will experience when it is current. It exists for a sense of achievement and prestige that only a few players really have the time for anymore, and every year, that group of players gets smaller.

The reason for this is simple - as Tom Chilton put it, the demographic is getting older over time. People like me who played for the raid game back in classic are older. They have jobs, kids, schedules that don't permit the kind of time investment hard modes currently demand, the kind Mythic will demand. And it's not that you can't do cutting edge raiding in, say, six hours a week. I'm not arguing that you will have to put in 20 hours a week to do Mythic. I'm arguing that even scheduling one or two nights a week and being there reliably is actually really hard when you have other commitments that can often demand your time on a moment's notice - in essence. being able to go when you want/need to raid instead of when the group is scheduled to go is a huge boon to that aging demographic. For all the elitism, all the sneering, and all the slurs directed at the LFR player base, the feature allows people who love raiding but who can no longer commit to scheduled WoW play a place to do it.

You can ask if this is healthy for the game as a whole - whether or not your answer is yes or no, though, there is no escaping this simple fact. WoW is a decade old. Many of us playing it have been here for years now. Even players who started in Wrath or Cataclysm have now been playing for years. This is an aging game with aging players, this is the reality of the situation. And this means that more adaptive raiding solutions are going to keep presenting themselves.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Did you miss in Pandaria?: The broken burner

Shrine of Fellowship incense burner
Not long ago, Blizzard unveiled the action-packed Warlords of Draenor cinematic, a worthy follow-up to the one for Mists of Pandaria. But did you know there's an achievement that ties in to the Mists trailer?

Restore Balance sounds like it's just for druids, but anyone can earn it. The achievement asks you to "Visit the Shrine of Fellowship in the Jade Forest and follow in the footsteps of Chen Stormstout." What these cryptic instructions really mean is to find the in-game location where the Mists trailer happened.

Head northeast from Grookin Hill toward the mountain on your map. When you see Shrine of Fellowship pop up on your screen, you're in the right place. It's a flat, misty plateau with a prominent jade bell (it was featured in the cinematic).

Look for the Broken Incense Burner. You'll notice it's a bit crooked, just like in the trailer before Chen straightens it. Click on it to "restore balance" and you'll earn the achievement. I wonder if there will be a similar achievement for the Warlords trailer...

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Did you miss in Pandaria?: Shado-Pan Geyser Gun

Geyser gun in action
The latest build of the Warlords beta shows a number of achievements for toy collecting. You can earn a "Robo-Gnomebulator" (whatever that is) when you amass 150 of them. For those dedicated collectors, one of the most obscure toys in Mists is the Shado-Pan Geyser Gun.

To earn it, you must return to the Throne of Thunder raid. You can queue for the Forgotten Depths section of ToT's LFR if you can't convince your guild to clear to Tortos. Once your LFR group has defeated Ji-Kun, you can return to the Tortos area by clicking on a feather and flying into the red portal above. Make sure you don't aggro any leftover trash on the way back!

The geysers in ToT have a hidden minigame. Standing on top of one gives you a stacking debuff called Spray Water. Continue riding the geysers until the debuff stacks to 250, which takes both practice and patience. There's no achievement for this, so look for the "new mail" icon instead. You'll receive a message in your mailbox from Taoshi of the Shado-Pan congratulating you on your "ninja-like geyser-jumping abilities." She includes the geyser gun as a reward. Now you can douse friend and foe alike in lukewarm water that smells strongly of Tortos.

If you want to be a really awesome person, you can earn the gun for several friends at once by allowing them to ride on your mount while you deal with those fickle geysers. Good luck!


Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

New Hellscream Short Story available now

If you're curious about exactly what is going on with Garrosh, Kairoz, and the Draenor we're all about to find ourselves on, then you'll want to read Hellscream, the new short story by Robert Brooks that's up on the official site right now. It goes into detail, bridging the gap between the end of War Crimes and the beginning of the expansion. How does Garrosh motivate the orcs of Draenor to become the Iron Horde? Well, that's exactly what this story covers.

Without spoilers, it's definitely an interesting read, and it gives us a sense of what the major actors are up to, especially Garrosh and Kairoz. Head on over to the official site and check it out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

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