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Filed under: News items

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

Rob Pardo is leaving Blizzard

Rob Pardo, currently Blizzard's Chief Creative officer, announced on the forums that he's parting ways with Blizzard Entertainment. Pardo has been a fixture of the company for 17 years now, and though he isn't saying -- yet -- where he's headed next, he did offer a thank you to Blizzard's fans and community:

Rob Pardo
The Blizzard community is ultimately the reason why we come to work every day and pour our souls into every world and experience we create. Blizzard's players are the most passionate in the world and your commitment and dedication are truly awesome to behold. Creating entertainment for you has been an incredible opportunity, and I know that you will continue to grow and become even stronger as a community over the years to come. It has been so meaningful on a personal level to help create joy for all of you.


Thanks for the games, Rob -- we'll be keeping our eyes open for what you're working on next.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Warlords of Draenor: Frostfire Ridge preview

Frostfire Ridge
So far we've had official previews of Shadowmoon Valley and the Tanaan Jungle, and today Frostfire Ridge joins that cohort. Game Designer Ryan Shwayder and Associate Game Designer Zachariah Owens are the interviewees leading us through this glimpse of the zone and giving us an idea of what we can expect when we arrive there. If you had access to the Warlords alpha, you're likely already somewhat familiar with Frostfire Ridge--it's the Horde's starting zone, the zone where Horde players will build their garrisons, and was the first zone available for alpha testing. In Frostfire Ridge, the Frostwolf clan stages the defense of their ancestral homeland against the other orc clans who have thrown their lot in with the Iron Horde. The overarching story of the zone, as summarized by Zachariah Owens, is thus: survive.

The choice to put pieces of zone music at the beginning of these previews is one of my favorite things about them, and Frostfire Ridge is no exception. The zone music, titled "Magnificent Desolation," is haunting and, well, magnificent. It really does capture the scale and harshness of the zone--cold, snowy mountain peaks, frozen lakes, and constant struggle. In Frostfire Ridge, players will find the Thunderlord clan, Iron Horde loyalists who seek to prove themselves by wiping the Frostwolf off the face of the planet. In addition, two groups of ogres: the Bloodmaul and the Bladespire, cling to the remnants of power that the ogres once possessed in Draenor by any means necessary. In the eastern part of the zone, the masters of the gronn, the magnaron, plot and scheme to their own ends.

I didn't expect to be all that interested in Frostfire Ridge--I play Alliance-side, after all--but this preview, plus the music, kind of has me sold! Head on over to the official site to see what Zachariah Owens and Ryan Shwayder have to say about this hostile, fascinating zone.

Filed under: News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Hearthstone tournament now open to all

Yesterday we reported about the oddity of a Hearthstone tournament that didn't allow women to compete. The reason? The International e-Sports Federation wanted gaming to be recognized as a "true sport," and was following the professional sports model of gender division. With fewer women competitors than men, this led to tournaments with a large selection of gaming events for men, but few for women -- in the case of this tournament, Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Ultra Street Fighter IV were all men-only events.

While e-Sports are often gender-divided (competitive StarCraft is notable in this regard), the idea of a men-only Hearthstone tournament was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back. Among many others, Blizzard spoke out against IeSF policy, telling VentureBeat, "One of our goals with e-sports is to ensure that there's a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games. We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal."

The end result is that the IeSF has reversed the policy, and offers events open to all genders as well as women-only events to encourage the participation of women in the male-dominated field of pro gaming. It's a setup that's similar to the competitive chess scene, which has both a World Chess Championship in which anyone can compete and a Women's World Chess Championship. Now, at the 6th e-Sports World Championship BAKU 2014, men and women will be able to compete together in StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone tournaments, while there's also a women's only StarCraft 2 tournament. Time to get your game on!

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider

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

Hearthstone tournament bans female competitors

No girls are allowed to compete in Finland's Assembly Summer 2014 Dota 2, Ultra Street Fighter IV, and Hearthstone tournaments, which are open to men only. According to the International e-Sports Federation's rules, the genders of competitors in e-sports are separated to help the competition be recognized as a "true sport." In response to complaints, the IeSF posted the following on their Facebook page: "The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports."

And while this means separate but equal style treatment for some events, for others -- like Hearthstone -- it means women simply can't compete at all. At Assembly Summer 2014, women aren't allowed into these tournaments because if they won, they wouldn't be allowed into the IeSF men-only world finals. Markus Koskivirta, head admin of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier, speaking to PC Gamer, said that the Finnish eSports Federation is lobbying for equal rights for male and female gamers... but with the long and strange tradition of segregated e-sports (StarCraft competition often has such divisions), that could be a long time coming.

Though the IeSF says it wants to promote female gamers by hosting women's only events, the end result of this is to keep women on the outskirts of pro gaming by relegating their participation to smaller events and smaller stages. All this goes towards suggesting that women aren't good enough to compete with the men -- something that in an all-digital "sport" is difficult, at best, to justify.

We all love the same games, so why can't we play them together?

Filed under: News items

Blizzard announces SDCC exclusive merchandise

SDCC 2014
Blizzard is once again making an appearance at San Diego Comic Con, and this year, they have some fantastic goodies going with them. The Blizzard SDCC exclusive line includes a completely adorable Nether Faerie Dragon plush toy, a Whimsyshire Treasure Goblin plush toy, a Funko Pop! Vinyl Primal Kerrigan, and a Cute But Deadly Cloaking Zeratul. There will also be a number items that debut at SDCC, but will become available on the Blizzard gear store after the convention--including a minature zergling plush keychain, and a plush Hearthstone (yes, a Hearthstone) with light and sound effects.

The bad news is that none of the exclusive stuff will be available outside of SDCC. The good news is that recolored versions will be available for sale to the general public on the website. I won't repeat the sound I made when I saw the plush Faerie Dragons, but it was somewhere in the range of a squeal. I may not be able to get my hands on the SDCC version, but whenever the regular colors show up online, that thing will be mine.

For those of you headed to SDCC, I hope you have a good time, and good luck grabbing one of these limited edition Blizzard goodies!

Filed under: News items

Warlords of Draenor: Bag space solutions, illustrated

I will be the first to admit that I am probably a little overzealous when it comes to collecting items and carrying stuff around in WoW. Most of what I collect is one of two things -- armor and weapons for transmogrification, or toys and little trinkets that were pretty cool while I was leveling. Because of this, I was ridiculously excited to hear about getting a new Void Storage tab, as well as the new Toy Box tab. Anything that opens up more bag space for the stuff I like to collect is automatically a good thing.

That image above is my main character's bags and my bank when I first logged on to the beta servers. It's a chaotic mess, I know. At the time of that screenshot, I had 20 bag spaces free, and one spot in my bank. As for Void Storage, it's completely full on live. So how much bag space can you expect to get with just the Toy Box and Void Storage tabs available to play with? If there was anyone to test that out on, it was me and my admittedly insane collection.

Read more →

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

EU Connected Realm updates for June 27

The list of EU realms slated for the Realm Connection service has at last been updated with new information and new realms in regards to upcoming dates for the service. At the present time, there are no additional updates for US realms -- this list is for European servers only.

The following EU realms are scheduled for connection on Wednesday, July 2.

English Realms
  • (PvE) Darkspear and Terokkar
  • (PvE) Aszune and Shadowsong
  • (PvP) The Maelstrom and Karazhan/Lightning's Blade/Deathwing
  • (PvP) Frostwhisper and Zenedar/Bladefist
German Realms
  • (PvE) Malygos and Malfurion

Read more →

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Warlords of Draenor: More details on the Ashran faction hubs

So in case you didn't hear, this morning we learned that in Warlords of Draenor, the faction hubs will be moving from Karabor and Bladespire Fortress to Ashran. Now CM Lore has posted to the official forums with a more detailed post explaining exactly what's entailed in the change and why it was made.
Lore - Hubs no longer Karabor/Bladespire
Okay, there's a LOT of misunderstandings and misinformation floating around, so let me try to clarify what I can.

Warlords of Draenor's story is about the people of Azeroth (namely, the Alliance and the Horde) venturing into an unknown world and building up a force strong enough to take out an enemy stronger than anything they've encountered before, on that enemy's own turf. While there are certainly some alliances to be made along the way, and those are definitely major parts of the story, the core theme is about you and your faction fighting for survival.

So, as development continued, we came to the realization that it just doesn't make sense for the Horde and Alliance to spend so much energy and resources building up a stronghold on Draenor, only to base their efforts out of someone else's city. We're not helping the Draenei or Frostwolves fight off the Iron Horde – they're helping us. The Alliance and Horde both have major bases of operation on Draenor. That should be where they're working from.

That, along with the continued development of Garrisons into the overall quest and story flow of the expansion, led us to the decision to develop the Horde and Alliance bases on Ashran into the major faction hubs instead of Bladespire and Karabor. Promoting the world PvP area on Ashran is a nice perk, but it wasn't a factor in making that decision.

That said, the Temple of Karabor and Bladespire Fortress are still there. We haven't removed them or anything like that. You won't be able to use your bank or check your auctions there, but they're still fully built home cities for the Karabor Draenei and Frostwolf Orcs, respectively. You'll still be able to explore them in their full glory.

As to the Alliance and Horde staging areas on Ashran, allow me to lay out a few key facts to hopefully allay some concerns:
  • They're located on Ashran as a geographical location on the map, but they're not part of the Ashran world PvP zone. They won't be subjected to the realm coalescing we're using to keep Ashran's PvP area populated, and they won't flag you for PvP on non-PvP realms.
  • We've also made some major improvements to the way PvP flagging works on non-PvP realms that removes "accidental flagging" from mistargeted abilities or ground effects. Unless you manually flag yourself by typing /pvp, you will simply not be able to attack enemy players, or heal friendly players who have flagged themselves.
  • They're populated with guards, and the only land-based entrance is directly through the Ashran world PvP zone (including a major fortress). It's certainly possible for someone from another faction to attack it, but it's not any easier to do so than it is to attack the enemy faction's shrine in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
  • There will be a fast travel option between the staging areas and your Garrison. You can pop over there quickly, conduct your business, and leave again if you like.

This isn't a question of whether or not Bladespire and Karabor are cities. They are. It's just a question of whether the portals to Orgrimmar or Stormwind are there or somewhere else. You'll still be able to explore them, they'll still be fully populated, and they're still going to be every bit as beautiful as they would have been with a Transmog NPC. We're looking forward to them ourselves!


This is a well thought out and cogent explanation of the process behind the decision. However, as a player, it's not a decision I personally like -- one of the real draws for me as a player was the idea of getting to have Karabor as my home city, with the portals and vendors mentioned above. I want the freedom to never see Ashran, if that's what I decide to do. I understand the reasoning, I simply don't agree with it, and I hope it's rolled back.

For now, though, Ashran is where the Horde and Alliance home cities will be located in Warlords of Draenor.


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

Warlords of Draenor Beta: New in-game Character Copy

One new feature worth mentioning in the beta is the new in-game character copy option. Enabled currently only in North America (sorry, Europe) this feature allows you to directly copy a character from the live realms to the beta without using the website. Simply click the button to the side maked Copy Character and then a box pops up (like the one in the header image) with a list of your eligible characters and the servers they're on. Then select one and it copies over to the beta server. I've used it twice (on warriors, of course) and while there were some issues with it, it did work.

It's very handy. Perhaps eventually all character services could be available in this manner. Right now you can buy the level 90 character boost, but you can't buy a faction change or server transfer via the in-game client -- this seems like it could lead to that kind of functionality.

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

First wave of Warlords of Draenor beta invites out

If you've been waiting patiently (or impatiently) for access to Warlords of Draenor you should check your account - you may have been invited to the Warlords of Draenor beta test, starting this Friday, June 27th, at 2:00 PM PDT. Emails are already being sent out, but remember, you don't have to do anything with those emails - don't email back anything, just check your account at battle.net and if you're in the beta, you'll be able to proceed from there. And if you didn't get in, don't panic -- as Rygarius tweeted, there will be more beta invites.
I'm really happy to see the Beta test commence - it makes the game feel more solid and getting ready to launch. I'm very excited. Let's all be good beta testers, guys.

Update 1:00 p.m.: The beta is also live in Europe.

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

Warlords of Draenor Alpha: Transmog changes

On live servers you can't transmog polearms over swords, axes or maces (and vice versa), but on the Alpha it's a totally different story, as you can see in the header image above. No idea if this is an intended change or not (I hope it is) but it's certainly a welcome one for those of us who happen to carry a Hellreaver in our bags.

Read more →

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

All-priest raid downs Lei Shen 25 man

Single-class raids are not unheard of in WoW, but I've found I'm more accustomed to finding all-paladin and all-druid efforts -- you know, hybrids who can traditionally provide all the roles a raid would need: tanking, DPSing, and healing. An all-priest raid -- while I'm sure it's been done before -- is a new take for me!

And I have to say, it's fantastic. Organized by Usha (Aerie Peak-US) and Valley (Frostmourne-US) and billed as "All Saints Day", these 25 priests managed to clear the Throne of Thunder, as seen in their Lei Shen kill video above. For the interested, their spec breakdown was 2 Holy, 11 Discipline, and 12 Shadow. Next week they are moving on to Siege of Orgrimmar, so if you're an interested Alliance priest on a North American server, this might be worth checking out. They maintain Flex gear as the minimum requirement to join the raid, so keep that in mind as well.

Congratulations to the All Saints! I think events like this are a great way to pass time, have fun, and challenge yourself while we're all waiting for patch 6.0. Good luck in Orgrimmar!

Filed under: News items, Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: Raids get their own graphic setting


Coming out of last night's alpha build is a new section in the "System" settings. I usually don't go nuts over such minor details in the game, but this one has the potential to be huge.

Come Warlords of Draenor, you'll be able to configure graphic settings just for raid encounters. This is a huge thing to add to the game, given that for most people it's very unwise to raid with the settings turned all the way up. Questing, milling around in town, etc... that's all fine to have settings at ultra. But in raids? With 25 other people doing tons of stuff, it's best to back it off a bit.

I often just leave my settings in-place for raids and don't change them when running around doing other stuff. I like to just set things and forget them. This feature will allow more people to experience Azeroth in its grand detail.

Best feature ever? Yes.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

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