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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

Mists of Pandaria Beta: A look at the level 90 priest talents

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

On my journey to level 90, the new priest talent Divine Star was what I found myself looking forward to the most. When the ability had first been announced at BlizzCon 2012, a few commenters suggested that the spell would probably behave just like Prismatic Barrier, an ability from League of Legends. Prismatic Barrier allows your character (specifically the character Lux) to throw her wand to a targeted location, shielding any allies standing in the wands path, then return to your character. When the wand returns, it returns to Lux's current location, as opposed to the location where she was standing when she first threw it, thus allowing you the potential to heal several different players in the two paths of the wand.

The prospect of being able to do this in WoW had a huge appeal to me because it required a certain degree of raid awareness that went beyond just staying out of the fire. Using it to its full potential would mean knowing where everyone in your raid was and positioning yourself in optimal locations to get the best of it. In League of Legends, these types of abilities are called skillshots because they require good aim and timing to be effective. I loved the idea of having that in WoW.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: New priest talents in the Mists of Pandaria beta

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: We've already lost Path of the Devout on beta. The good news is that in its place, we now have Feathers From Heaven, a talent that allows priests to lay out a little track of speed-boosting feathers. Think of them as those little speed arrows in Mario Kart, only they're feathers, and you can put them wherever you please.

The individual feathers have no expiration that I can tell, so you can lay them out in advance on one end of the room for special tactics in your raid encounters or PvP, if it suits your fancy. The ability has no mana cost at the moment. Instead, it is limited by charges: one feather per charge, and you can have three charges at a time. You can place one feather right after the other, but it takes 10 seconds to restore one charge. This allows you to spam three of them on the ground in succession if you like (something you can't do with Body and Soul) or spread them out gradually ahead of you in your path. They can be used by any friendly target, not just party members, so be mindful of people's stealing them if you're using them while leveling to snatch up quest items. Oh yeah, and the feathers can be used on top of water with Levitate.

So, you're excited about Mists of Pandaria now, right?

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: First hands-on look at the Mists of Pandaria shadow priest

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

Beta access, sweet, delicious beta access. After weeks of waiting, I'm finally in the Mists of Pandaria beta. And man, does it taste sweet. Sure, in reality, I'd only been waiting a few weeks to get in. But when you're not in the beta and it seems like everyone else is, those weeks can feel like an eternity.

But you likely don't care about my emotions (you cruel, sadistic readers, you). You care about shadow priests and the changes made to them in the beta. And believe me, there are a lot of changes to shadow priests coming for MoP.

Yeah, I know, we've discussed a lot of those changes here in Spiritual Guidance. But already, there are changes to those changes. And frankly, the latest batch of changes is shocking. Every single spell that we hold dear is seeing a major change to it. Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch, Vampiric Embrace, and even Shadowy Apparitions -- it seems no spell is safe.

Are these changes the end of the world? Maybe they are. But you should know by now that I'm not going to tell you anything definite about that until you follow me after the break.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Mists of Pandaria

WoW in the running for Game of the Decade

2009 is coming to a close, and with it, "the aughts," which means we're about to get flooded with list after list of the best of the decade. It's been a raucous ten years for gaming (some, including me, might call it the best ten years in gaming so far), and Crispy Gamer is the first to step up and try to pick the best games we've seen so far. In their Game of the Decade showdown, World of Warcraft is still in the running, up against Bioware's legendary Knights of the Old Republic RPG, as the latest post has readers trying to pick the final four choices. If you think our game is more deserving than KotOR (note that this isn't the MMO, it's the old RPG with your friendly meatbag hater droid, HK-47), you can vote for WoW over on this page until Tuesday at 6pm.

KotOR is a great game, but as a decade-defining game, I'd have to think WoW will pull that one off. After that, though, there's some tough competition: BioShock and Half-Life 2 are up against each other, Halo and Left 4 Dead are facing off in another bracket, and Super Smash Brothers Melee and Shadow of the Colossus (which I guess I need to go play now) are the challengers in the third. I have to say -- as a "Game of the Decade," BioShock and Half-Life 2 are definitely in competition, but if you want to pick a game which has really defined both the online and casual gaming movements of the last ten years? We'll have to see what the readers choose, but I'd have to think World of Warcraft is your game.

[ via BlizzPlanet and kyleorl ]

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

Golden's Arthas on NY Times bestseller list


Need any more evidence that World of Warcraft has gone mainstream? Arthas, the latest expanded universe novel about none other than our own Lich King (that got rave reviews from our own writers), has reached number 16 on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction. We're sure that makes Christie Golden happy -- I don't believe that any Warcraft-related novels have ever made the list before. Rise of the Horde is the most popular one I can think of, and I don't think that appeared there on first release. It's not the only videogame-related book of fiction to make the NYT, though -- the latest Halo novel did that a few years ago.

At any rate, just shows you how popular the Warcraft universe really is, even outside of the videogame audience. You can pick up the Arthas book at a bookstore near you, or order it up from Amazon as well.

[via WorldofWar]

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

World of Warcraft partners with Hungry Man

Blizzard's merchandising hasn't stopped with Mountain Dew, no sir. This past week the WoW Insider staff received a lovely surprise in the form of a package from Swanson. Many of the producers of Blizzard-licensed products (such as UpperDeck) tend to send us advance, review copies of new products. Swanson followed suit and has sent us a variety of the new Hungry Man dinners that will be hitting stores this summer.

Hungry Man Gamer Grub (which we've dubbed 'Hungry Gamer') is a line of World of Warcraft themed frozen dinners. It seems this is yet another company jumping on the bandwagon of catering to the gaming demographic, but it would be unfair of us to write this product off from the start. To be completely fair to them, neither the box art nor the documentation that came with our package made any cracks about gamers as these things usually do. Essentially, it just seems like Hungry Man is trying something new. Gaming is 'in' now, you know! After the WoW line, I'd bet we'll see Halo Hungry Man or Noby Noby Boy Hungry Man. Well, maybe not that second one.

Anyway, we were given one or two of each of the upcoming dinners to taste test. We took volunteers from the staff to try them out, and in the following pages you'll find our thoughts and reviews. Some were a hit, but others? Not so much. Click through the button below to find our reviews, and if you want to see a larger picture of the box art for each of the meals, simply click on the picture and it will take you to our gallery.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features

GamerTrainer offers tutoring for WoW gamers

Having trouble making your way through Stranglethorn Vale? Can't quite figure out how to farm all that gold for your epic mount? Maybe what you need is a tutor! GamerTrainer is a site that claims to provide tutors for gamers who need a little extra personalized help with their games, and right there on their list, among Halo, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Call of Duty is our very own World of Warcraft. It'll cost ya, though -- $130 for five hours is as cheap as it comes per hour, going all the way up to $30 for one hour of personalized training. And just because you pay, it doesn't mean you'll actually get help -- "Mister_Llanowar" is apparently standing by to give you some helpful tips, and for all you know, he's just another 13-year-old who's really good at ganking with a 70.

As you might have noticed, we're a little skeptical -- there's nothing you couldn't learn from these trainers that you couldn't pick up on, say, sites like the one you're reading right now (we've got you covered on STV and raising all that mount money). Not to mention that the whole point of a game (any game) is to sit down, mess around with it, experiment and explore, and pick it up on your own -- having someone tell you personally what to do and where to go is the exact opposite of fun.

And if you still disagree, hey, call me up. I'll be happy to sit down and play with you on Skype for a measley $30 an hour. I call all disenchants, though, so if you don't need those greens, they're mine!

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

Video Games Live to release CD

Record company EMI Classics has announced the release of Video Games Live Volume One, a recording of the famous traveling orchestra (led by friend of WoW Insider Tommy Tallarico) that plays videogame music, including that of the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo series. You may have seen the group last year at BlizzCon, this year at WWI, or (likely) this year again at BlizzCon, and they got rave reviews every time they played.

The recording was conducted by Tallarico, recorded at Abbey Road, and features the Slovak National Orchestra, The Crouch End Festival Chorus, and "the videogame pianist," Martin Leung. The CD will have eleven tracks (full tracklist after the jump), and will feature music from a slew of terrific videogame soundtracks, including our own Warcraft series (and Civ IV, which is probably the best music I've ever heard in a videogame, ever). EMI plans to release the CD in America on July 24th, and in Europe and the rest of the world on August 20th. It should be available for digital download right now in the UK, and an iTunes exclusive release will be available on the 20th.

Sounds like an amazing recording -- fans of Video Games Live will certainly enjoy it. You can see the full tracklist below.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, BlizzCon, Worldwide Invitational

Warsong Gulch changes may not have helped much

Aloud on the podcast last week, I wondered if the patch 2.4 changes to WSG had made a difference (I haven't been able to make it in there yet -- too busy writing about Hello Kitty Online, of course), and now maxomi is wondering the same thing: since the changes dropped, has WSG actually been fixed?

Unfortunately, from what we're told, the answer is no. The changes, designed to cut off turtling and players who ran around with the flag without capturing it, first made the enemy flag carriers trackable after 45 seconds, and then gave a damage debuff to the flag carrier after ten minutes (which doubled at fifteen). But all the reports from players say that makes no difference -- people still turtle away, even with the tracking and debuff, and eventually both drop the flag and the whole thing resets.

So what's the solution? If you crib some notes from other capture the flag games, a match timer sounds like the best option, and indeed, that's what most people are suggesting. Blizzard would have to determine how long to tune it, but the idea would be that after a given amount of time, if there was no winner, the match would end in a draw, with both sides losing in terms of a reward. It doesn't seem like Blizzard can force players to fight, so the best option overall might be to just call it in a time limit, and keep the matches from going on for long amounts of time.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Battlegrounds

Upper Deck announces WoW minis game

Upper Deck has dropped an announcement about the final conquest of the Warcraft universe over the complete whole of nerd-dom: they're going to make a WoW minis game (yes, there's already an RPG system, so until someone puts together an official LARPing league, I think we're done here). The miniatures will come out in Fall of this year, and the game will feature standalone raid and dungeon scenarios, which means you can play against your friends or play by yourself against "automated dungeons." Upper Deck also says that there will be an Organized Play structure for the game, including Local and World Championships.

There's nothing yet about any "loot minis"-- Blizzard is apparently working closely with Upper Deck to put this together, so you'd think they might try to replicate the loot cards of the TCG, but I'm sure that if they do come up with something like that, we'll hear about it. There's also no word on actual gameplay yet, but Upper Deck says that they'll update the site with a downloadable gameplay demo, so we can see exactly how it will work.

Excited about this? Halo has been to the mini universe already, as has Marvel and DC. Will Warcraft have success in this, the last of the realms of nerd-dom?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, WoW TCG

WotLK is one of Yahoo!'s most anticipated games of 2008


Wrath of the Lich King made Yahoo! Games' list of 10 anticipated games in 2008. It's the only expansion on the list, and it stands proudly alongside other legendary intellectual properties like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Halo, Fallout, and Grand Theft Auto.

It's definitely unusual for an expansion pack to make a list like this; that just goes to show you how extraordinary World of Warcraft is as a cultural phenomenon. Now if only I knew when this blasted expansion might be coming out, I could stop sitting around and fantasizing about playing as a Death Knight. No, wait ... I'd still be doing that anyway.

Filed under: News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW is among five most popular game communities

ActionTrip put together a pretty interesting list that includes World of Warcraft-- they've tried to list the top five most popular game communities. Online gaming is just a huge pasttime, obviously (thanks in large part to Blizzard's magnum online opus), and so there are quite a few communities that have built up around various games. But they've supposedly crunched the numbers, and they say they've come up with the five biggest.

The Sims, Counterstrike, and Halo are all predictably on the list, as is World of Warcraft. Not too unexpected-- these aren't just the biggest communities in online gaming, they're also four of the biggest games of all time. But most surprising, RuneScape also joins the others. It's a Java-based (as in played in your browser) MMORPG that's basically an updated, graphical MUD. And their numbers are very surprising-- they have 9 million free accounts playing, as well as 1 million paid accounts, which (if those were all separate users, which I doubt) would put them in range of WoW itself. Of course, a free game (that's played in a browser and not bought in a store) will always have a larger available playerbase than a retail game that has a subscription charge, but considering that 13% of all PC gamers have reportedly played RuneScape, that's a pretty big deal.

The other interesting, WoW-related fact that ActionTrip dug up is this: apparently PC gamers are still playing WoW more than four times as much as any other PC game. There's no question that since its inception, WoW has changed the face of PC gaming, and no matter what happens in the future, it's currently one of the biggest videogame communities in history.

[ via WorldofWar.net ]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items

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