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Filed under: Odds and ends

Breakfast Topic: Not This Again

As much as I love the dungeon finder, it's not perfect. One of the ways it's most imperfect (or least perfect if you prefer) is in the way I keep getting the same instance, five, six, or even more times in a day. It's possible that if I'm capable of running seven heroics a day I'm running too many heroics in the first place, of course. Still, as a guy with two tanks, I often feel compelled to answer the call of a DPS guildmate looking for a few runs.

But man oh man, am I tired of Halls of Stone. Ridiculously, completely, utterly sick of the place. When I see the HoS loading screen pop up (and by now I'm as familiar with that screen as I am with my own apartment) I actually feel my whole body shudder with faint disgust and slight loathing. Ah man, not this place again! And always, someone's going to insist we do every single boss instead of skipping Maiden and Krystallus so I'll be in here even longer. Since I try to only drop groups when I find it absolutely necessary as part of the whole 'I'm tanking so I'm responsible' ideal I have, I find being stuck in HoS over and over again to be my own personal purgatory.

So how about you? Have an instance you dread seeing yet again? Or have you been mercifully spared Violet Hold threepeating in one day? (Seriously, VH, followed by VH, followed by Nexus, followed by VH? That was just cruel, dungeon finder.) Is this just the price I pay for getting nearly instant runs? I suppose it's not so bad in that case. (Oh, who am I kidding, go away Halls of Stone, I don't want to talk to you no more.)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Wrath of the Lich King

The best of October 2009

October, as with August, was mostly a lot of news reporting. The patch 3.3 PTR dropped on October 1st and everyone went nuts for the last (we think) major content patch of Wrath of the Lich King. Next up? The content patch heralding the approach of Cataclysm, but with a lot of gated content between ourselves and that, we've got a ways to go.

Ask a Faction Leader: Cairne Bloodhoof
: Among all the AAFL columns he's done so far, Sacco's personal favorite is Cairne.

Spiritual Guidance: Don't be that priest: Matt Low not-so-gently lectures his fellow priests on the failings to which the class is prone while not paying attention or entering an encounter unprepared.

Searching for the most popular server
: Schramm takes a look at some data and wonders -- what's the busiest and/or most crowded server out there?

Patch 3.3 PTR: New Tauren skins found
: So what are those things anyway? A new set of NPCs for Icecrown? A new barbershop option? Tribal markings for the Grimtotem?

Chill of the Throne: Dodge nerfed 20% in Icecrown Citadel
: The debuff is quickly termed "Icewell Radiance" by disgruntled tanks everywhere.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Features

Halls of Reflection exploit trivializes Lich King encounter

Today a guildy induced me to run Heroic Halls of Reflection on my tanking warrior. Sighing, I slapped on my heroic set and we went into the instance (actually, we ran all three ICC heroics) and when we finally got to the Lich King, said guildmate said "Okay, we'll do the ledge strat." I had no idea what the ledge strat entailed, and told him so. He said "go stand over there" and so, bewildered, I did as he asked.

What followed completely trivialized the event. So much so that I'm torn: on the one hand, I hate HoR in no small part due to the difficulty of picking up multiple abominations and tanking them while also trying to get aggro on the spell casting Risen Witch Doctors. The 'ledge' strategy is very simple: let Arthas walk past you and lumber his slow way up the tunnel after Jaina or Sylvanas like he always does. Meanwhile, the hordes of undead he spawns? They come running back to you, even if you're still at the door to the ledge. Since you could never stop the Lich King from getting to Jaina anyway, you don't lose anything for staying behind him, except that you no longer have to adjust in the event that the Lich King is getting closer to you with his aura of hurty.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, Instances, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Warcraft the Animated Series

No, I haven't actually heard of one happening. That doesn't mean I don't think one could be very cool, especially after seeing this video of all the voices Chris Metzen has done for the various Blizzard franchises over the years. The idea that one man is the voice behind Thrall, Varian, Ragnaros, and other luminaries got me to thinking that maybe a film isn't the right way to go with the franchise. Now, of course I know about as much about making movies and managing beloved franchises as I do about installing thermonuclear reactors in submarines, but I'm not going to let that stop me from speculating about how awesome a Warcraft animated movie or series could be. (I also admit I've been watching a lot of DC Animated Movies lately, and the tenuous Blizzard - Wildstorm - DC connection has me all aflutter.)

If done right, a Warcraft cartoon has a lot of potential. I think quite a few fans of animation could point at various styles that would work for the franchise... I would personally stay away from the overtly computer animation of a Clone Wars (unless we could somehow get Pixar to do it. I mean, while I'm dreaming) and would try to go with something more like the actual game, with deliberately exaggerated and unrealistic lines. But I'll leave it up to you: who should star? Who would you choose to do their voices? What art style, what kind of direction would you take it? The sky's the limit for the Warcraft animated series, because as far as we know it's not going to happen.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Comics

Tuesday Morning Post: Same Old Auld Lang Syne edition

Happy Tuesday morning, everyone. Winter Veil is winding down, and as we here at the offices fight over the last carton of eggnog, we've been taking a lot of time to look over the past year and celebrate. Of course, here in the Tuesday Morning Post, we generally look at the past 7 days or so. So yeah, there's plenty of the navel gazing stuff, but there's a good smattering of news too. Nothing too major, I suppose. Even the dev team likes to see their family over the holidays, I guess. But it's there. And in the meantime, a little bit of a navel gazing never hurt anyone. Our navels are pretty awesome anyway.

Join me for the last Tuesday morning of 2009 and catch up on your WoW reading. The usual list is after the break.

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Filed under: Realm Status, Odds and ends, News items

The best of September 2009

One of the things that jumps out at me while reviewing September is that it was a fantastic month for Moviewatch. Apart from that players were occupied with the new version of Onyxia, the Argent Coliseum, still discussing some questions raised by BlizzCon, and arguing over whether Garrosh was a jerk or what.

WoW Moviewatch: Warrior's Dream
: My nomination for the best Moviewatch of the year. A lovely film, well-made, beautifully scored, and it crammed a thoughtful story (and insight concerning the sometimes-uncomfortable perspective on ourselves granted by nightmares) into 5 minutes.

Faction change service now available
: A feature players had been wondering about getting for years suddenly went live. Did things go crazy? Maybe a little.

A critical examination of Garrosh Hellscream
: Garrosh, as we'd previously observed, is not among the more well-received NPCs these days. Rossi asks -- how did this guy go from the demoralized Orc we see in Nagrand to the arrogant jerk we find in Northrend?

Ask a Faction Leader: Garrosh Hellscream
: On the subject of Garrosh, personally I found this AAFL to be among the funniest in the series. If that whole Warchief bid doesn't work out for him, Garrosh has a bright future as an interior designer.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Features

The Wrath you never saw

As we're heading towards the final confrontation with the Lich King and the end of this chapter of the World of Warcraft saga, we end up reminded of how much of Wrath of the Lich King was designed and never used, or used sparingly, or even resurrected later, fittingly enough. But not only do we have loads of models that either weren't used at all or were used later in places completely unrelated to where they were supposed to drop, we have entire zones that either didn't happen at all, or did but which don't seem to go anywhere.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Landro's Pet Box available for UDE points

Upper Deck recently announced a new item available in-game for players to claim using UDE points accrued from collecting the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. The item, Landro's Pet Box, is a grab bag of sorts that can randomly give the character one of the following loot items: Papa Hummel's Old-Fashioned Pet Biscuit, Path of Cenarius, Sandbox Tiger, Dragon Kite, Ethereal Soul-Trader, or Bananas, the Monkey. Items previously available through UDE points were limited to a selection of epic tabards, permanent fireworks, and a Carved Ogre Idol that turns characters into ogres for 10 minutes.

According to the product description, Landro's Pet Box will more commonly give out Pet Biscuits, Paths of Cenarius, or the Sandbox Tiger, but will occasionally grant the rarer vanity pets. Players will not receive duplicates of vanity pets already obtained through the Pet Box. The item can be purchased through the UDE points store for 2,000 UDE points (the same cost as tabards) and is only available on US and EU realms. Landro's Pet Box marks the first time items previously available only through loot cards would be made available through UDE points, allowing players who miss out on elusive loot cards another shot at obtaining the items.

Filed under: Items, Fan stuff, Odds and ends

Naxxramas Raid Deck and Treasure Packs now available

Following the success of their previous raid sets, Onyxia's Lair, Molten Core, Magtheridon's Lair, and the Black Temple, Upper Deck has released the first Wrath-themed event pack with the Naxxramas Raid Deck and Treasure Pack last December 22. Unlike their previous raid offerings, however, the Naxxramas Treasure Packs are stand-alone products which can be used separately from the raid deck.

According to Dan Bojanowski, Upper Deck's World of Warcraft TCG Senior Brand Manager, the stand-alone approach "was created as a direct result of customer feedback." Aside from containing the standard content such as exclusive foil cards, the set would also include "alternate art heroes featuring heroes from the Drums of War block in Naxxramas-themed gear and settings."

The Raid Deck, which is available for $29.99, contains a 110-card raid deck, 15 oversized boss cards, a 16-card Treasure Pack, and a UDE points card (or Loot card) and rulebook. Treasure Packs retail for $9.99 apiece and contain 15 random foil Treasure Pack cards out of a total of thirty collectible cards, a hero in Naxxramas-themed armor, and a UDE points card or Loot card. Hero cards are drawn from the Drums of War expansion set with variant art, with a total of ten cards with new art to collect. Each Treasure Pack also has a chance to contain a random Loot card from the Fields of Honor expansion set.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Raiding, WoW TCG

Breakfast Topic: Celebrated Mechanics

While thinking about the lack of tanking fist weapons, I got into a discussion with my wife about her favorite ability (or perhaps my favorite ability of hers), Misdirection. The discussion came out of the fact that I basically threw her into the deep water by having her misdirect the adds on a TotC 25 Anub kill last night (which she did spectacularly, of course) and from there we started talking about one of the seventy billion Halls of Lightning runs we did yesterday. (Seriously, Halls of Lightning? You can stop now. No, really, I'm fairly certain I've killed Loken enough times.) The rogue in this group was simply phenomenal. Solid DPS, didn't stun mobs when I tried to pull them back, didn't constantly say 'go go go', and used Tricks of the Trade whenever he was going to open up on a big trash pull. Seriously, if you could adopt gnome rogues from another realm and just keep them in your backpack to pop into the open DPS slot in your pugs I'd have done so. I salute you, sir or madam.

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Features, Classes, Talents, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

The best of August 2009

BlizzCon, BlizzCon, BlizzCon! That's pretty much what August was all about -- well, that and patch 3.2. Because this month was mostly crammed full of pure, unadulterated news about the upcoming convention and Cataclysm, there weren't quite as many one-off features this time around.

All the World's a Stage: Reflections on the passing of a roleplayer's mom
: This isn't a very easy article to summarize. All I can say is -- please read it. One of David Bowers' most elegant and introspective pieces: "WoW is not an escape from life, it is a reflection of it."'s Patch 3.2 Guide and content for the day
: Patch 3.2 went live on August 4th and was (oddly enough) one of the top stories for the year. In hindsight, it probably wasn't that surprising -- it had been a while since Ulduar had gone live, and the Argent Tournament patch heralded the introduction of a slew of new pets, mounts, titles, and new druid forms. Huzzah!

Playing WoW for charity: Interview with the WoWathon team
: Three college students managed to raise $5,000 for Child's Play with a marathon WoW session coupled with "dramatic readings of bad fanfiction."

Researchers study WoW to see how gangs form and fade
: A UC-Irvine team has been studying guild and group formation ingame for data on "group ecology." As Schramm observed, "Listen, guys, all you have to do to break up gangs is ensure there's not enough loot to go around."

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Features

Breakfast Topic: Lamented Mechanics

This isn't a breakfast topic where I protest. I'm not signing petitions or grumping, I'm simply looking back and saying "Gee, I wish X".

For instance, I wish there were tanking fist weapons. I love, love, love fist weapons. I'd settle for a fist that had hit and expertise on it, even. But while I'm willing to switch to a slow main hander when I have a full rage bar to dump as Devastate threat (or for huge Cleaves when tanking lots of trash) it's just not really suitable for a good 80 to 90% of my time tanking. And yet, how I love fist weapons. I have an enhancement shaman, of course, and yet fists almost never drop for him (he's using axes at the moment) while they rain from the heavens and are almost constantly sharded when I'm tanking. I've taken to just picking them up and using them for fun. I understand there will most likely never be a dedicated tanking fist, as the only class that could use it would be a warrior (Paladins and DKs can't use fist weapons, Druids can but would almost never use one over a staff since they can't use shields).

Similarly, whenever I go elemental I always end up drooling over caster swords, and there have been a few times I've heard paladin healers sigh at a dagger drop. So what I turn to ask you is, what do you wish you could use? What drop can you either not equip or just can't effectively use?

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Shaman, Warrior, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Death Knight

The best of July 2009

July 2009 was defined by two dominant trends -- waiting for patch 3.2 to hit, and an increasing amount of information starting to flow that would be confirmed one month later at BlizzCon.

Blizzard files trademark for
: Gee, we wonder why?

Arcane Brilliance: Five things every mage should do before they ding 80
: Archmage Pants guides you through some things that should be on every leveling mage's checklist before the endgame.

Encrypted Text: Fan of Knives mechanics deep-dive
: Chase Christian runs across a rogue on his server who's able to kill people in an interesting manner, and goes on the theorycrafting warpath to figure out how he's doing it.

Worgen Garwal hotfixed, now untameable
: Worgen pets were, for a brief period, universally agreed to be the coolest thing in the game before being hotfixed into oblivion. Reason given? Something vague concerning why Blizzard doesn't want hunters to have humanoid pets. Yes. Yes, that must be it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Features

WoW magazine preview now online

The World of Warcraft magazine, which hit a bit of a bump when it lost its Editor-in-Chief some time ago, is showing off some preview pages from its maiden issue. The whopping 40-page preview gives a glimpse of the magazine, which is scheduled to arrive at subscribers' doorsteps before the year is out (they're running out of time). The 148-page, advertising-free magazine is only available through subscription and will not be out on store shelves.

The quarterly magazine is available in one- and two-year subscriptions of at least $39.95 and $69.95 respectively (price varies depending on your location). Published by Future PLC, the company behind official licensed magazines of XBox, PlayStation, and other magazines such as ImagineFX, PC Gamer, and T3, the World of Warcraft official magazine is as visually stunning as the other titles in its stable, albeit somewhat light on text. The magazine shows off exclusive commissioned art, such as some gorgeous pieces by fantasy art star and Dungeons & Dragons veteran Wayne Reynolds.

The first issue's articles include lore visitations such as the story behind Sylvanas Windrunner, columns on class roles, and even an interview with vanity pet guru Breanni of The art and lay-out of the magazine looks gorgeous and seems to be a seamless fusion between the World of Warcraft aesthetic and Future PLC titles, although it remains to be seen how a quarterly print magazine can keep up-to-date material with an ever-changing online world. At any rate, the archival magazine looks beautiful, even if players might be better served by online, current articles on the game.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard

The best of June 2009

Raids were still rolling through Ulduar and experimenting with hard modes, and we were waiting for patch 3.2 to hit the PTR, but the most interesting thing about this month was definitely the increased notice we started taking of account security.

Patch 3.2:
Argent Coliseum 5-man and raid story/encounters: Sacco ventures deep into the wilds of the PTR, and an insane amount of work on his part produced a comprehensive guide to what happened in the Coliseum, the accompanying lore, and the boss abilities you needed to plan for.

New Tauren cat forms and new Night Elf cat forms revealed: Allison cries harder. I wasn't initially warm to the new Tauren cat form, but it grew on me as soon as I saw it in motion on the PTR.

WoW, Casually: What is casual?: The $64,000 question -- what does it even mean to be a casual player these days? Robin weighs in.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Features

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