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Posts with tag Alpha

Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes for June 18th

The updated patch notes for the Warlords of Draenor alpha have some significant changes in store for monks and warriors. Abilities have been removed, returned, folded into one another - it's a lot of change for those two classes. Just to give you an idea here's some highlights:
  • Several abilities have been folded together. As an example, Stance of the Sturdy Ox and Stance of the Fierce Tiger both provide the benefits of other abilities that have now been removed. For example, Stance of the Fierce Tiger now provides the benefit of Combo Breaker and Combat Conditioning, while Stance of the Sturdy Ox now provides Brewmaster Training and Desperate Measures. Likewise, Crazed Berserker for fury warriors provides both Titan's Grip and Single-Minded Fury, both of which are removed.
  • Several monk and warrior abilities have been removed. Monks lose Dematerialize, Sparring and Swift Reflexes while Touch of Death, Transcendence and Zen Meditation are no longer available to Mistweaver monks (and Zen Meditation no longer redirects harmful spells cast against party/raid members).
  • Warriors not only lose Flurry and Meat Cleaver, but a whole host of abilities have been made stance specific - Taunt, Shield Slam, Revenge, Mass Spell Reflection, Mocking Banner, Rallying Cry and many others are either Defensive Stance only, or Defensive Stance/Gladiator Stance only. Whirlwind is back for arms warriors, but is Battle Stance only, and Deep Wounds is only for protection warriors now. Slam has been removed.
Here are the patch notes themselves, and we'll be paying close attention as this definitely seems like more changes are coming.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor Alpha: Updated patch notes for June 13th

Well, it's another update to the Warlords of Draenor Alpha and its patch notes. What's new, what's changed, what's going on with the Alpha? Here's a few highlights:
  • There's a new section called Secondary Stat Attunement that basically comes right out and tells you what stat you're expected to want for each specialization. Fury warriors, you'll notice it's still crit. Fire mages? Same thing. We're still angry and hot. We both still love crit. We should totally form a band.
  • Other new sections include the Self-Sustainability section (which explains how your ability to not die has been changed) and the Tooltip Clarity section, which explains why they've made changes to various tooltips. Of extra import is the mention that, just because the tooltip has changed, that doesn't mean the ability has, unless the patch notes say it has. So keep that in mind.
  • There have been several changes to the Ability Pruning section - Death Knights lose Blood Strike and Necrotic Strike, druids see a mountain of changes (seriously, if you're a druid, go check that out, it's crazy) - paladins, priests, rogues and especially shamans have gotten some significant pruning as well (I'd put shamans just behind druids).
Head on over to the official patch notes and take a look for yourselves. If you're playing a class like a shaman or druid that just saw a lot of change it's especially a good idea to read up on the current state of affairs.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: What do you want to see in the alpha?

The Warlords of Draenor alpha is here, though this early version only contains a rather limited amount of content. Of course, an alpha test most definitely a testing phase, and an early one at that. Unlike the game at release where we'll have a whole expansion's worth of content ready for us the moment we log in, the alpha is both piecemeal and buggy -- since it's the alpha and other testing phases that get us to the pristine game we see at launch.

That said, we'll soon be seeing the alliance joining the fight on the alpha as Blizzard opens Shadowmoon Valley for testing in the next build. When Shadowmoon opens, however, the horde's Frostfire Ridge zone will shut down, at least for now. But with Shadowmoon and alliance content on the alpha horizon, let's talk about what you want to see next in the alpha. Are you just waiting for more garrison details -- in which case this next build will be of great interest to you -- or are you craving end-game information? Tell us about it!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Why testing matters

People often look at things like the current Friends and Family Alpha test and wonder why they exist. Why not go straight to beta, or even just do everything via internal testing? Well, there's lots of reasons. One of them is one expressed very well in this tweet by Russ Petersen.
What we've seen happen through several betas is that content has been changed, reworked and redesigned based on Alpha or Beta feedback. I'm reminded of the Cataclysm expansion and Paragon's effort to be World First on Heroic Sinestra, a fight that simply hadn't been tested very much externally, in order to keep it relatively unknown. This meant that it was a heroic-only boss, being attempted for world-first status, while the fight was being hotfixed. It was necessary to preserve some of the mystery of the fight, because let's face it, if it had been open to testing someone would have written up the strategy and Paragon would have been going in knowing what the fight was and wasn't. But it also meant that Paragon had to learn what the fight was and wasn't while it was being changed, during the attempts.

Similarly, the drastic revamp of the Jade Forest during Mists beta can't be undersold here. This happened right in the middle of the beta -- players who were testing out content had to be moved to the next zone and leveled up while the Forest was completely redesigned. In both cases, we see how the presence or absence of testing can have wide consequences for everyone.

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

Breakfast Topic: Do you play betas?

Though there's always a lot of excitement when a new Blizzard game goes into alpha or beta testing stages -- both Heroes of the Storm and Warlords of Draenor are currently in an early alpha stage -- actually playing games at this point is sometimes less than fun. Alpha and beta games are meant for testing, which means they're full of bugs and prone to changes. But the worst of it, for me, is the fact that none of my character progress is kept -- anything I do in an alpha or beta version I'll have to do again later when the final game goes live.

It's completely understandable that Blizzard -- and other game developers -- need to wipe progress made while the game was still being tested, but for me it kills a lot of the fun because on launch day the starting content is already becoming a repetitive grind. The end result is that while I enjoy reading early news about betas, I don't tend to play them for fun. But what about you, readers? Are you already looking forward jumping into the Heroes or Warlords betas -- or would you rather wait for the finished product?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Warlords of Draenor: Attack and Spell power changes

One of the changes the Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes mentions is a pretty large change to how our primary stats work and interact with critical strike and attack or spell power (depending on which you care about). It can be broken down as follows - first, agility and intellect no longer increase physical and spell critical strike chances respectively. In addition, there no longer is any such thing as spell critical strike chance, ranged chance, or melee chance, merely critical strike chance that applies to all three. Since this is no longer affected by primary stats, it's set at a base 5% chance before gear. (Among other things this removes the last tiny vestiges of any use for agility for strength classes.)

Next, agility based class gain a new passive ability called Critical Strikes which increases base critical strike chance by 10%, likely to compensate for all the crit they lose from agility. Those of us who never got crit from our primary stat (strength DPS) are left wondering where our free 10% crit is.

Next, how primary stats react with attack or spell power has also been changed. Attack power from Agility or Strength has been halved - each point of Agi or Str only gives 1 AP, down from the 2 it gains currently. In addition, weapon damage has been reduced by 20% across the board. This is because Attack Power now contributes more significantly to weapon damage - 1 DPS per 3.5 AP, which is a pretty significant increase from the current 1 DPS per 14 AP. Finally, weapon damage and attack and/or spell power now contributes to the entire throughput of player spells - if you're a healer, your weapon damage and spell power will much more directly contribute to the strength of your heals, and casters will see a similar benefit from their weapons. Weapons have just become far more important for many players, if not all.

To read this section of the patch notes in their entirety, just click on through to the other side.

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

Breakfast Topic: Which WoW characters belong in Heroes of the Storm?

As you might have heard, Heroes of the Storm has landed in technical alpha. So go over to your Battle.net account page and make sure you're flagged for the Heroes beta if you're interested -- once you've signed in, click on Beta Profile Settings on the summary page -- because this definitely means we'll be seeing more of Heroes sooner rather than later. Once you've done that, come back here and we'll talk.

Okay, set for getting into the beta when it arrives? Good. Now let's talk about the Warcraft heroes that grace Heroes of the Storm. Warcraft has an entire world's worth of characters begging to be added -- which begs the question of which ones ought to find their way into Heroes.

So tell us, readers: which Warcraft heroes do you most want to see in HotS? And which characters will you play when you jump into the game?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Heroes of the Storm

These alpha screenshots aren't quite the World of Warcraft you used to know

Alpha screens
Just how long have you been playing World of Warcraft? Whatever the answer, there's a very good chance you weren't playing when these screenshots were taken, back in the game's alpha phase. The above screenshot, taken off the coast of Stranglethorn Vale in the game's earliest of days, was posted to Reddit along with many others, all carefully annotated.

While it's not quite a comprehensive directory of Azeroth as it was, it's a more complete record than any we've seen and a great nostalgia trip for players who have been there as well as players who haven't. Some of the scenery will be familiar to anyone who played before Cataclysm, though a great deal of it is subtly off from the WoW you may remember. And then there are oddball shots like the one above.

Head to Reddit or Imgur to browse the whole gallery for yourself or read on to see a selection of our favorites.

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Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard

Spiritual Guidance: Ghostly aspects of our shadowy hatepower


Every Wednesday, Fox Van Allen climbs atop the Shandor Building to summon Vinz Clortho, the keymaster, and Zuul, the gatekeeper. Once gathered, all three sit down at a computer keyboard and take control of Spiritual Guidance. Subcreatures! Fox the Van Allen, Van Allen the destructor, Foxus Van Allenarian, the traveler has come. Choose and perish.

My not-so-gentle Spiritual Guidance readers, I have a confession to make. I'm filled with hate.

I hate cats. I hate Hummel figurines. I hate trifling gnome Wilfred Fizzlebang. I hate the taste of whatever brand ketchup they use at McDonalds. Lots and lots of hate. Oh, if only there were a way to channel this magnificent ... shadowy hatepower.

Ask and ye shall receive, my brethren! Not from me, mind you -- from Blizzard. (I mostly just give out shadow priesting knowledge with the occasional nod to pop culture.)
This week, Spiritual Guidance is tackling the changes to the shadow priest spec that currently exist within the Cataclysm alpha. If you're adamant on being surprised and don't want anything spoiled, I recommend you stop reading now and instead invest your time in the following YouTube video. I feel it provides a respectable alternative.

But if you want to take your loathing for the formulaic CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men and channel it into a spiritual agent of death, and you just can't wait until later this year to find out how ... follow me past the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Cataclysm

Cataclysm Leak: Maps, models and more from MMO-Champion

MMO-Champion has just updated with a host of new Cataclysm information datamined from the alpha client. Needless to say there are numerous spoilers for the Cataclysm expansion contained in these files; readers avoiding spoiler material -- this falls firmly under that category. More details and links under the break.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm press beta invites going out

The wave of Cataclysm class changes being announced this week seems to be a harbinger of things to come -- it appears we'll be skipping the normal semi-public Friends & Family Alpha phase completely and moving right on to open beta! Blizzard PR has sent out several pre-invites to members of the media for the Cataclysm beta. These are confirmed not to be phishing emails -- they're definitely the real deal.

In the pre-invite email, Blizzard says that they're gearing up for the Cataclysm beta, and that a Battle.net account is required to participate. Members of the press with a BNet account who received the email can then sign up for the invite pool.

What we don't know: when it's happening. Press registration for the beta is open until April 15th, but Blizzard specifically states that they have no start date ready to announce. We'll keep you updated with more information, including the beta launch date and any new info that comes out of the beta, as soon as it becomes available.

Right now, if you are not a member of the press and get one of these, it is likely a scam. Practice safe browsing.


World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

You are not invited to the Cataclysm alpha

In the wake of yesterday's rumor that the Cataclysm Friends and Family alpha will be starting this Tuesday, January 12, we should expect an increase in scammers trying to get your account details by offering phony alpha invites. We saw a lot of these for both Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King as well, and some of them were very well crafted.

At this phase of Cataclysm's development, though, it will be comparatively easy to keep yourself safe. Since this is a friends and family alpha, if you don't have friends or family that work at Blizzard, you will not get an invite. Therefore, anyone offering you one is trying to pull a scam. Basically, everyone who's going to be getting legitimate access to the alpha should know who they are already. Everyone else, sit tight and stay tuned to WoW.com for the latest on WoW's next chapter.


World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Expansions, Account Security, Cataclysm

Cataclysm Friends and Family Alpha to begin Tuesday [Updated]

Earlier this afternoon, we received a tip stating the following:
  • The Cataclysm alpha will be starting Tuesday, January 12th.
  • The alpha will not be distributed digitally, but burned to disc.
This information has recently appeared on the Twitter account wowleak, along with the image of what appears to be a Cataclysm DVD. We reached out to our sources on the topic, and while they were not able to confirm whether or not the DVD is the real deal, they were able to confirm the alpha phase's tentative starting date. Barring any unexpected hurdles appearing in the next few days, the Friends and Family Alpha Phase will begin on the 12th of January.

Update: Various parties have come forth to confirm the suspicions that the disc in the original image is faked. However, our sources stand by the alpha starting within the next week. It is very possible that whoever faked the disc stumbled upon a convenient coincidence. If we hear any more, we will keep you updated.



World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Cataclysm

WoW Moviewatch: Stormwind and Ironforge Alpha



In celebration of today ushering in five years of WoW, let's take a step away from traditional Moviewatch material and look at some early alpha and beta footage from Stormwind and Ironforge.

The footage is quite astounding when you watch it. You'll notice that there are entire sections of both cities which have changed dramatically, and indeed Ironforge itself was nearly entirely revamped to remove the "second level" from it. You can see remnants of the second level of Ironforge today in that there are some oddly placed balconies and doors -- it all looks normal to us now, but when you watch the video you can see that it looks much more natural the way it was.

The "internet consensus" is that alpha Ironforge was changed because people were getting themselves lost all the time in it -- something which isn't very good for a starting city. However as far as I can tell that never came out of published comments from a WoW designer, so take it with a grain of salt.

And yes, before some you inevitably ask, Patches of Yesteryear will be returning this week -- although we'll only be running it once every other week due to time constraints.


Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an e-mail at machinima AT wow DOT com.


Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

Around Azeroth: Five years later...

You'll be hearing a lot about WoW's five years today. We've done some hard work in pulling up some interesting things to show you all, and are going to start giving away some cool stuff too.

So for today's Around Azeroth we wanted to do something a little unique. Instead of your typical awesome screenshot, we went with your untypically awesome alpha shot. Back from when WoW was version 0.01 and stuff like that. In the above screenshot you can see some of the early looking models. I don't think they look particularly bad.

Do you have any unusual, beautiful or interesting World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see them on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing aroundazeroth@gmail.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!

Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, Val'kyr on mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran. Older screenshots can be found here.

Filed under: Around Azeroth, Galleries

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