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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Tauren at the end of Mists

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.

There are an awful lot of loose threads around the tauren right now. The Grimtotem are scattered, making temporary pacts with the Alliance in Stonetalon, besieging the night elves in Feralas, and their greatest leader was last seen claiming an artifact of elemental power. In the wake of Cairne's death, Baine Bloodhoof chose to allow Garrosh to rule uncontested - but that position clearly changed over time, and Baine led tauren troops to the support of Vol'jin's rebellion against the Warchief, rather than simply challenging him as his father did. Ironically, this choice shows a certain political maturity - recognizing that trial by personal combat might not be the best means to effect regime change in the Horde - while it also shows a bit of a break with the old ways of both the Horde, and the tauren people.

Baine's father Cairne chose to live, and die, by the older ways of ritual and honor. Betrayed by Magatha, he died from poison on Garrosh Hellscream's axe and with him seems to have died the last vestiges of the tauren ways of the past. Baine led an expulsion of those Grimtotem that would not swear allegiance to him over Magatha that culminated in a battle against their last leaders in Mulgore, and at the end of that battle, Baine ruled the shu'halo as undisputed chieftain of all. But in doing so, he also led his people into their last break with the past, and following the defeat of Garrosh and the ascension of Vol'jin to the seat of power as Warchief, one must ask - what role do the tauren fill in the Horde to come, and where will Baine's current choices lead them in the future?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.4.7 Hotfixes for March 25

A small but perfectly formed set of hotfixes have just been published on the official World of Warcraft website. There's just a few minor fixes, but significant bug fixes to boosted level 90s and to priest healing in PvP.
Blizzard

Character Boost

  • Resolved an issue where some boosted characters were unable to see the portal to Pandaria in capital cities.

Classes

  • Priest
    • General
      • Resolved an issue where the amount of healing received from Prayer of Mending was not benefitting from PvP Power.

Raids, Dungeons, and Scenarios

  • Throne of Thunder
    • Reduced the health and damage of Gurubashi, Amani, Drakkari, and Farraki adds during the Horridon encounter by 20% on Raid Finder difficulty.

Filed under: Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria

I'm so bored with the Horde

This isn't a rant about how the Horde is bad, or how you should feel bad for playing them, or anything. If you like playing Horde, I'm not arguing that you're wrong to do so. I know that's a subjective thing, and some folks just plain like specific Horde races better. This is more about how, after Mists of Pandaria, I'm completely exhausted as a player with Horde stories and the Horde/Alliance conflict. I'm not inherently opposed to Horde/Alliance conflict. In fact, I think it made Mists of Pandaria a very strong expansion, with a strong and interesting story. I especially liked patch 5.1, and played both the Horde and Alliance storylines.

And frankly, that was the last time any of my Horde characters got any serious play.

Since 5.1 I've felt myself shifting away from the Horde. Part of that was going back to raiding on my draenei warrior, of course. But a bigger part of it was simple ennui, and a general culture shift in the Horde that left me feeling totally unable to connect to it. When I rolled my first Horde characters (an orc shaman and tauren warrior back in vanilla days) there was a real, concrete tone shift when I played them vs, when I played my Alliance characters. A sense of desperate odds, of outcasts banding together to stand against a hostile world, facing off against a monolithic power.

That's gone. It's probably gone forever. Even after the events of Mists of Pandaria, it's impossible to view the faction that banded together from the events of Warcraft III as the same entity anymore - over the course of two expansions, the Horde went from underdogs to aggressors. And while I've heard many players say things like "the orcs are not the whole Horde" to attempt to distance ourselves, fact is, my tauren did the quests in Twilight Highlands. My blood elf led the charge onto Pandaria's shores, and he stole the Divine Bell so that Garrosh could make use of it. Up until patch 5.3, if you played Horde, there was no real way to not aid Garrosh's cause - you were complicit in everything that helped make the Warchief's plan work. The orcs may not be the whole Horde, but what excuse does that give your pandaren or forsaken, when they're the ones who delivered the keys to the kingdom into Garrosh's hands?

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

Watcher: Mythic raiding in Siege of Orgrimmar "for a few weeks" before Draenor

So, if you're wondering how raiding is going to look in the future, one thing's for sure - you'll get a preview of the Warlords of Draenor changes when patch 6.0 drops, because when it does, Siege of Orgrimmar will be converting fully to the new flex normal/heroic and 20 player mythic difficulties.

What this means is that we'll get a completely redesigned SoO with the class changes and other new systems in mind, but that older raids won't be changed, since they're considered trivial in comparison thanks to gear. It also means we know the 6.0 patch will be relatively shortly followed by Warlords of Draenor, and not well in advance of it, as some have speculated. So if you're wondering how your guild will fare with the change, patch 6.0 will be your test drive.

Filed under: Machinima, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Siege of Orgrimmar and the waiting game

I've played World of Warcraft for the entire history of the game, since about a month after launch (my wife actually played in beta, and she's the one who got me into WoW in the first place) and I've raided for pretty much the entire time - I took a few months off after The Burning Crusade dropped, and had to catch up in BC raids. Since that time, though, I've raided - I was in my server's most progressed guild in Wrath, switched servers but ended up in the same situation in Cataclysm, and have settled down to a still well progressed but less aggressive heroic raid in Mists of Pandaria, cruising at 10/14H and working on Thok. We have one pally, so Thok's a bit of a gigantic cinderblock wall, but we're still plugging away.

Being that I've been raiding so long, I sometimes see patterns. There's one I saw in BC, and repeated in Wrath and Cataclysm - the end of expansion lull. Once we get into the last tier of content, there's a surge of interest and everyone leaps to get in there and work on it... and that lasts a couple of months. After that, however, interest starts to wane. Players get burned out, stop playing, need to be replaced. Each player who needs to be replaced causes tension as the guild slows down due to the losses. Recruitment means bringing in people with less gear, less experience, and even if you manage to get a player with both the gear and the experience, it doesn't always mean they know how you do things. I was once recruited, after my Horde guild had killed all of Heroic Dragon Soul, by an Alliance guild that was on Spine. I took the jump because I wanted to play Alliance again - and even though I was geared as well or better than they were, I still had to relearn the fights based on their strats, and make suggestions based on my own experience that meant delays as they learned these new ideas.

This can lead to a feedback loop - players burn out, leave, this stresses the guild, more players get burned out. It's always present in raiding - churn is inevitable, recruitment must be continuous - but the promise of future content to come creates a counter pressure. You don't just raid to see the current content, you do it to be ready to get into the guts of the new stuff when it drops. But when you get into the last tier of raiding, there is no new content to keep you interested. And so, when that last raid tier takes months and months - sometimes, as in the case of ICC in Wrath, over a year - it becomes very difficult to keep guilds focused on progressing through it. Talking on twitter about all this after reading multiple posts on the issue, I started thinking about how it works out.

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

Taking the roleplay out of WoW

I like messing around with roleplay every now and again, especially during the waning months of an expansion. When there's little else to do, roleplay helps keep me entertained, and has the added side vantage of giving me a space where I can indulge in trying to answer lore questions that invariably make their way into lore columns. But beyond that, there's just something kind of fun about taking an hour or two off every now and again and just letting my brain be creative without the pressure of stress.

But one of the big problems with roleplay in WoW is the actual process of any kind of meaningful roleplay itself. Major, sweeping campaigns that are common with tabletop roleplaying systems just aren't possible in WoW -- trying to get everyone on an entire roleplay server to agree to a set list of rules for combat is an exercise in futility. Because of this, there's always been a limited scope to roleplay, a wall that simply couldn't be broken within the confines of an MMO. NPCs can't be controlled, players can't really influence major events in fear of somehow running into contradictions with canon lore. You can either dance around the limits, or you can ignore them entirely.

Or, as I recently discovered, you can simply leave it all behind. How do you make the limits in WoW work for your roleplay guild? By taking your roleplay out of WoW entirely.

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Filed under: RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Mists of Pandaria

Cynwise talks about faction imbalance in random battlegrounds

If you only read one post about faction imbalance in random BG's this year, it should be this one. The always excellent Cynwise of Cynwise's Warcraft Manual (ask for it by name) does his usual thorough job exploring the numbers behind the game. If you were a fan of Nate Silver's election coverage, then you should be reading Cyn's work, as he does much the same kind of thing with the information behind what's going on in World of Warcraft.

This particular post is too dense for me to do it any justice, but just as a summation, Cyn explores the way faction imbalance affects random BG's in several ways - how perceived imbalance affects player choices, how the overall popularity of the factions plays out, and the way in which dividing players into factions in the first place causes instability in the representation. It's really a remarkable and remarkably well presented post, and I urge you to go read it.

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

How to fix the Censer of Eternal Agony

The Censer of Eternal Agony has been an interesting piece of game design. If you're not aware of just what the Censer is, it's an item purchased on the Timeless Isle for 1,000 Timeless Coins that makes you hostile to all players, including your faction. If you kill players while the Censer is active, you get a currency, Bloody Coins, one per kill, that can be traded for a mount, a pet, and some other items.

So what's the problem? What needs fixing? Well, the Timeless Isle is home to three types of character. First up, you've got the intended audience -- new level 90 characters. They're there for the catch-up gear, the easy boost to ilvl 496. There's an influx of them at the moment, thanks to the boosts. The second group is people who are there for the Celestials. They zone in, grab their kill, and leave. Then, there's the third group -- high-geared players who are there with the specific purpose of using the Censer to kill other players.

That third group is mostly targeting the first group. Entering the Celestial Court with the Censer up will get you some attention from the guards, so the Censer people are roaming the island, in search of low-geared players to kill. Some servers have it worse than others, and before you dismiss it, this problem caused the devs to hotfix the boosted 90 spawn-in to be the Shrine instead of the Timeless Isle.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Pre-emptive criticism and Warlords news

It's hard to not get excited, one way or another, about new information. As players, we don't exactly have a lot to think about at the moment with Mists -- with the advent of cross-realm Siege of Orgrimmar on all difficulties, our options are suddenly opened in terms of things to do, but the story of the expansion itself has been completed. So we wait, somewhat impatiently, for new information on the next expansion, or excerpts from novels, something to think about, something to look forward to.

Yet with every Dev Watercooler released, with every small excerpt published, there seems to be an overwhelming sense of negativity from players in regards to the information. The healing dev watercooler, while clearly explained, was judged at first as a series of colossal nerfs to the various healing classes in the game currently. Excerpts from Christie Golden's next novel have been dissected and torn apart, with many suggesting they aren't in character or that Garrosh's listed crimes aren't in line with anything we've seen so far.

We're jumping the gun, we're doing so in a big way, and we might just be shooting ourselves in the foot while we're at it.

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

Patch 5.4.7 hotfixes for March 18

A new round of hotfixes for patch 5.4.7 have been released and posted on the official blog. Of course the biggest news from today's hotfixes is the implementation allowing players to cross-realm raid on both normal and heroic difficulty in the Siege of Orgrimmar. However, there are a few other small bugs and tweaks that have been made as well.
  • A number of questing and phasing issues for boosted characters have been resolved.
  • An issue that caused camps for both the Kirin Tor Offensive, the Sunreaver Onslaught and other areas on the Isle of Thunder to revert to an earlier progression stage has been resolved.
  • An issue preventing monks from using Roll, Chi Torpedo, or Flying Serpent Kick while carrying the flag in Battlegrounds has now been resolved.
Read on for the full list of hotfixes.

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Filed under: Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria

The surprising importance of visual improvement

Before the introduction of transmogrification, I had no idea why anyone wanted it.

Back then, I was a pretty involved raider (still am, but probably a step or so less) and almost all of my effort in-game was dedicated towards improving my gear's stats. I didn't give much thought to how it looked. Occasionally I'd make fun of myself for looks like the one above, when I simply couldn't get a hat or shoulders to drop in the first tier of Cataclysm raiding and had to settle for ones from Zul'Gurub or Zul'Aman. I wore them, because they were the best I could get, and every week I cursed the bosses in Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight for not dropping better. But I always thought it was the stats that were important, not the fact that I looked like some demented tauren clown pretending to be a murloc to scare tauren children.

It took me a long time to understand how important a feature that allows you to customize your character's look can be to get you invested in that character. My groaning bank and void storage, filled to bursting with transmog items, can certainly attest that I quickly learned that lesson. But it shouldn't have been so surprising to me, considering I played in vanilla -- and back in vanilla, it was the fact that the tier raiding sets were such stark visual improvements that was half the motivation in pursuing them.

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

Cross-realm raiding now enabled on all servers

Raiders, rejoice -- a new cross-realm raiding feature has now been implemented. In a blue post by Rygarius, it was announced that cross-realm raiding via BattleTag and RealID has been enabled not just for Flex mode, but for Normal and Heroic mode raiding on all servers. These cross-realm raids will be allowed to get the Reins of the Kor'kron War Wolf and all titles associated with the Siege of Orgrimmar, none of which were previously allowed on Flex or LFR difficulty.

Rygarius
We've recently implemented an often requested feature to enable cross-realm raiding for Siege of Orgrimmar. Cross-realm BattleTag™ and Real ID friends can now raid together and take the fight to Garrosh on Normal or Heroic difficulty. Players will be able to earn greater rewards such as Reins of the Kor'kron War Wolf or the title of Conqueror/Liberator of Orgrimmar; both of which aren't available to be earned within Flexible or Raid Finder difficulty.

This change is currently live.


If your cross-realm Flex group has been doing well and defeating Garrosh, now might just be the time to step into Normal mode, test the waters against the forces of Hellscream on a higher difficulty, and reap all the rewards for doing so. Good luck!

Edit: Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has stepped into the thread in question to clarify a few points. Read on after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

How to learn what you're doing on a boosted 90

Look, it's okay to admit that in some cases, players who've pre-ordered Warlords of Draenor or even bought the level 90 boost are on level 90 characters that they don't actually know how to play. In some cases, this isn't the case -- if I used the boost, for instance, I'd probably know how to play that 12th warrior I boosted to 90. But if I were to boost my hunter, there would suddenly be 29 levels of huntering to absorb and take in, and if I were to use the boost on a rogue I'd hate myself for it and quit playing in a storm of recriminations. Also, I would have zero idea what I was doing on a rogue for the ten seconds before I realized what I'd done.

Now that I've had my fun, let's get serious - how would I play a rogue at 90? Or a mage, or a priest, or another class that I'd never played before? Well, there are resources out there -- WoW Insider has a rookie guide, for starters -- and there are other sites like Wowhead and Icy-Veins that can and do give you an overview of what your new class does.

There's also a very useful resource built into the game itself. Your spellbook has a great deal of information for you about what your class can do and how to go about playing it, that can get you pointed in the right direction to begin play. We're assuming you're a returning player who has not played in a while or a new player just getting started with this article - established players starting a new alt may already know much of this.

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

How much should an expansion cost?

We've talked about this briefly in a recent Breakfast Topic, but that's not the same as actually standing up and taking a position on an issue, and I (specifically, I, Matthew Rossi, not all of WoW Insider) do have a position on this one - namely, that this expansion will likely contain as much if not more gameplay, art assets, and overall design work as any game coming out, and that frankly the last couple of expansions have been under what they should have cost.

I didn't come to this decision in a vacuum, either - I come to it as someone who does not want to pay the price as established. I'm extremely penurious. almost outright parsimonious when it comes to money. I don't like spending it. So when I heard how much the expansion was going to cost (the day the pre-orders became available) I immediately balked at it. It's only ten bucks more to buy Titanfall, I said to myself, and that's a completely new game. And then I read this post by Kim Acuff (who often comments here at WoW Insider as Ember Dione) a developer on Skylanders, and I started to rethink my position on the relative cost of the expansion, how much it should cost, and the validity of the whole "as expensive as a new game" discussion.

Because here's the fact - each WoW expansion has effectively been a new game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Diablo 3, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 5.4.7 hotfixes for March 11

A new round of hotfixes for patch 5.4.7 have been released and posted to the official blog. Along with the changes to Honor in certain battlegrounds that were announced a couple weeks ago, there are also some minor changes to various NPCs and encounters -- and one change that would-be Brawlers should be relieved to see.
  • Players fighting Hexos in the Brawler's Guild should no longer be killed by the maze after successfully defeating Hexos.
  • Guards at both Huojin and Tushui Landing on the Timeless Isle are now significantly more deadly.
  • Worgen players, Darkflight's speed increase no longer stacks with Burning Rush or Burst of Speed.
Read on for the full list of hotfixes.

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Filed under: Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria

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