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Posts with tag Magic

Wizards of the Coast sues Cryptozoic over Hex TCG


After Cryptozoic stopped producing the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game -- and around the time Blizzard announced Hearthstone -- the company turned its attentions to its own digital card game, Hex: Shards of Fate. Hex wound up with $2.2 million in Kickstarter funding and is currently in alpha testing. But the game's success hasn't been missed by the biggest player in TCGs, and Wizards of the Coast has sued Cryptozoic for willfully infringing on its intellectual property -- which is to say Magic: The Gathering. Wizards accuses Cryptozoic of copying cards, plot, elements, circumstances, theme, mood, creatures, pace, play sequence, and flow from Magic.

Hex is markedly similar to Magic -- though many trading card games draw their inspiration from that base -- and even the community has commented on it. In fact, the body of the lawsuit copies substantial material from a blog post on Threshold: The Hex Podcast comparing the two games as well as quoting forum posts in which commenters have noted the same. If this seems like a weak source of evidence to you, then you're in agreement with Cryptozoic, which has come out stating that the lawsuit is meritless and it intends to fight.

If Wizards wins this round, we have to wonder what it means for other card games like our recent favorite Hearthstone.

Filed under: News items

Four ideas Hearthstone should borrow from Magic

Faceless manipulator card art
I've been playing Magic for almost 20 years. In all that time, Hearthstone is the only other collectible card game that has ever really won me over. Hearthstone is a very different game from Magic, despite some obvious similarities. I want Hearthstone to remain a very different game. Even as wildly successful as Hearthstone has been, however, Magic and other card games have some great ideas that I think Blizzard should borrow to make their own game even better.

1. Format variants

Magic has many fun variants, most of them multiplayer: free-for-all, Commander, Two-Headed Giant, Star (or Color Wheel), Planechase, etc. Some of these were invented by players and later adopted and supported by Wizards of the Coast. One of the joys of Magic is how flexible its formats can be.

Compared to that, the single format of one-on-one battles in Hearthstone is less exciting. (Of course, Hearthstone is limited by its technology in a way that real cards aren't.) Sure, we're getting a raid in Curse of Naxxramas, which could shape up to be a fantastic single-player variant. But an online game like Hearthstone, with millions of available players, begs for multiplayer formats. They could be competitive or cooperative, playing against other teams or "bosses."

A Planechase variant could be adapted quite easily by using the different game boards, once Blizzard adds a few more. Multiplayer variants will be more tricky due to the game's current layout, but I have faith that the developers can make it work.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

How Hearthstone won over a skeptical Magic veteran

New Hearthstone card backs
I started playing Magic: The Gathering in 1995. I've loved the game ever since a friend introduced me to it. I've played both face to face and online, in one-on-one tournaments and in 12-player free-for-alls. It's the only collectible card game I've ever committed myself to playing.

Then along came Hearthstone. I received an invitation to the closed beta. I gave it a few hours and then I dismissed it. I had a long list of reasons. The game was too simple. I felt helpless during my opponent's turn. I couldn't protect my most valuable creatures by keeping them out of combat. I didn't have enough interesting cards to develop the quirky strategies that I prefer in Magic.

A few weeks ago, on the advice of a fellow Magic player who had been playing Hearthstone nonstop since open beta, I gave it another shot. I tried to approach the game without my Magic prejudices. I soon discovered that Hearthstone has a lot more to offer than I first thought.

Here's how Blizzard won me over.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Hearthstone Insider

Know Your Lore: The color of magic

Know Your Lore The color of magic
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.
Earlier this week, Blizzard Historian Sean Copeland was answering questions on Twitter when the above answer came up. People were upset about it because the answer, while seemingly pretty simplistic, seemed to devalue the importance of Elune and the unique nature of night elf philosophy and religion. Magic, in all its forms and function in Warcraft, is one of those tricky subjects to understand -- almost as tricky as trying to wrap one's brain around the cosmos of the Warcraft universe.

These types of questions get asked a lot, however. And while not everything regarding magic in Warcraft has been fully defined, we can definitely take a look at these different schools of magic and how they relate to one another on Azeroth.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Lesser Voidcaller brings all the spirits to the yard

Lesser Voidcaller

Since the introduction of the new Raiding with Leashes achievement, I've been farming the old BC raids for new pets. I've only managed to farm up about half, but I'm sure Lady RNG will be kind to me at some point. In my collecting adventures, I've come across a few battle pets that are so irresistibly cute that I could care less about abilities, pet family, or how to obtain them. Lesser Voidcaller definitely falls under that category because of its unique idle animation that summons small spirits.

Lesser Voidcaller drops from High Astromancer Solarian in The Eye, so it's not tough to obtain. Before you engage the boss, be sure to at least kill the two packs patrolling the room, as the casters will use a mind control and force a reset. The entire room will pull with the boss if you don't clear it, but I've never had an issue AoEing everything, even on my squishier priest.

Lesser Voidcaller is of the Magic family and its abilities are as follows:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Achievements, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Magic is...

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.

For the past several weeks we've discussed magic in the World of Warcraft setting. We've talked about where it comes from and the various ways it manifests in the universe. We've talked about druidic, shamanistic, fel, arcane, shadow and the magic of the Holy Light. We've even talked about subsets of arcane such as necromancy. This week, things veer off into the speculative.

We've seen that there are different ways to achieve the same thing. Kel'Thuzad, a magus of Dalaran, learned necromancy from the Lich King. The Lich King gained his necromantic powers from Kil'jaeden, an eredar and second in command of the Burning Legion, which makes heavy use of fel magics, and the Lich King himself was originally Ner'zhul, a former shaman. Meanwhile, it was Ner'zhul's former studen Gul'dan who took demonic secrets from Kil'jaeden and developed Horde necromancy and invented the first death knights. Meanwhile, the mage Naberius developed his own form of the ritual of undeath that created liches with no help from any of them.

Likewise, we've seen that the naaru can tap into powers of the Light and also of shadow, just as priests can. And yet warlocks tap a similar shadowy power despite having no connection at all to the Light that fuels the naaru life cycle. Indeed, warlocks tap arcane magic to fuel their shadowy arms, even as priests tap the Light and its opposite. What does all of this mean? Ironically enough, a broken who became the first shaman of the draenei may well have stumbled upon the answer.

Everything that is, is alive. And magic? Magic is.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The sources of magic, part 3

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.

Last week, we talked about arcane magic (including fel energy and shadow) and the magic of the Holy Light (which also has shadow as a kind of opposite force). If that's not confusing enough, this week, we talk about the magic of shaman and druids, either of which could in its own way be called natural magic.

In part 1 of this series, we talked about the various means by which magical energy can be tapped. One of these magical "fonts" is the Emerald Dream, a kind of palimpsest dimension that lays beneath and mimics Azeroth. It is, essentially, the first draft of creation, the blueprint to which the world would be returned to in the event of reorigination. It's Azeroth before the original Sundering, before intelligent life, as it was the second the Titans considered their creation complete. The reason Ysera of the dream is charged with protecting and safeguarding the Dream is that it is the world's base state.

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Filed under: Druid, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Cataclysm

Know Your Lore: The Sources of Magic, part 1

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.

Where does magic come from?

Specifically, in the Warcraft universe, where does it come from? That's actually a complex question, because there are many different kinds of magic practiced in the setting as a whole. We know of the nature magic of the druids and the elemental magic of the shaman (and that these two disparate types of magic often seem to relate to each other while remaining discrete; we know of the fel magic practiced by warlocks and the Burning Legion, and the pure arcane arts of mages. There's also the Holy Light as demonstrated by priests and paladins, the shadowy magics also tapped by some kinds of priests and warlocks as well, and even the raw necromantic power that seems unique to the Scourge, some Forsaken, and death knights. All of these different kinds of magic are magic, and yet each seems to draw from its own source.

Just on Azeroth, we have seen many kinds of magical power and many focusing points, or fonts, of various kinds of power. Several have descended from one another, while still others have intruded due to the interference of various entities. One thing is clear, that there are many paths to power beyond that inherent to the average denizen of the world.

What, therefore, are these sources of magic?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Rumors of WoW TCG's demise greatly exaggerated

Rumors have been swirling around the Internet this weekend, reporting that the WoW Trading Card Game was ending this year after the release of the upcoming Scourgewar expansion set due to mishandling of marketing by the Upper Deck team. The rumor apparently started at Rawrcast, where it was attributed to a "reliable source".

Apparently not that reliable! Catching wind of the rumor, Upper Deck responded through its Senior Director, Scott Gaeta, saying that not only was the TCG not "over," but that it was steaming along right on schedule. Said Gaeta:
"Plans for future sets have been moving along as normal and we even announced a good chunk of the 2010 product schedule a week ago. Just recently the Upper Deck team was at Blizzard to discuss plans for 2011 and just today we were at Blizzard to get a sneak peak of Icecrown Citadel, to help in the development of the 2010 Raid Deck and Treasure Packs. We have lots of great plans for 2010 and beyond and look forward to another great year for the WOW TCG. Thanks for your enthusiasm and support! "
Good enough for me. Interneterati who heard the rumor attributed the TCG's purported demise to a myriad of culprits, including Blizzard's new microtransactional Pet Store, Activision grand poobah and laser-precise IP exploiter Bobby Kotick, or even the iron tabletop gaming fist of Magic: The Gathering. Of course, none of those ended up being the case.

Me, I'm glad to see that the TCG isn't going away, but let's start seeing some of those cool vanity loot card items attainable through other means, yeah? And the rocket mount an Engineering item.

Filed under: Fan stuff, News items, Rumors

The future of the ingame Darkmoon Faire


Larisa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn misunderstood the news we posted the other day about the Darkmoon Faire live event in France being canceled, and instead thought that the actual ingame event had been shut down for good. And that brought up an interesting question to her: so what if it was? The original Faire was an interesting idea, a way to bring the fun of a regular holiday (along with the usual quests, special items, and even a reputation to grind) around every month or so. But just like having Christmas every month would get old after a while, the Faire has sort of worn out its welcome -- players really only go there for following some arcane questline, and when they do get there, they're undoubtedly disappointed by how barren the place is.

So what to do? Larisa suggests that the Cataclysm might just claim the whole thing -- Azeroth gets rocked, and no more Darkmoon Faire. I'd actually like to see the story go the other way: if there's a traveling group of performers with vast magical powers that's allowed to move at will between Horde and Alliance lands, wouldn't it be great if they were actually part of a secret society that had bigger interests rise to the top in a disaster situation? I'm sure Blizzard has more than enough on their plate for the next few content patches, but the Faire itself is due for an update, too, and it'd be nice to see it included in the larger storyline somehow.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs, Cataclysm

Crygil wants to know what you think of class roles

CM Crygil has posted a very general thread over on the forums asking players what they think of the various class roles out there: "Ranged/Melee/DPS, Tanking and Healing." As you probably have noticed, those three roles make up what are often called the Holy Trinity in role-playing games and MMOs: either you do damage, prevent damage, or recover from damage, and those three roles make up the basics of most roleplaying combat systems, including the battles in World of Warcraft.

But as quite a few people in the thread say, they're not quite sure just why Crygil is asking for this information. Sure, there are lots of good and informative answers in here (most people actually spread out "the trinity" to four roles, splitting melee/close combat and ranged/magic combat into two parts), but as there has always been, there's really nothing outside of the kind of thinking that's been done before on the subject -- anytime developers try to break out a new part of the trinity of roles, they either fall right back into the stereotypes (a bard that casts magic damage "songs" is really just a dressed up Mage), or they end up breaking the game (mind control/crowd controller is a new class idea that's been played around with before, but as Blizzard has discovered, it's extremely hard to balance that exactly right).

As Crygil later says, these questions are his, not Blizzard's -- he just wants to get some perspective on what the forums dwellers think of how the current roles work. And he promises that CC is "on its way back," so maybe Blizzard will try to do some more experimenting with the different types of roles classes can play.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Forums

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a Priest

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the seventeenth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Priests in the World of Warcraft are a single class that incorporates a wide variety of characters. They are best known for casting spells that call forth the power of the Holy Light, but the priest using these spells in the game mechanics doesn't necessarily have much connection to the Light as such -- rather they have a connection with their own religion which grants them similar effects to those of the Light.

When WoW was being developed, Blizzard realized that night elves and trolls, for instance, would not follow the Light in the same way humans and dwarves do, so they tried to represent a bit of this diversity through race-specific spells. It didn't work out, though -- some were too powerful, while others weren't worth reading about, much less putting on one's action bar. The end result was that they made some of these spells universally available to all priests, and completely removed the rest. Here the lore had to surrender to the game mechanics in order to provide the best game balance.

In roleplaying, however, there is a lot of room for players of different races to behave differently, and draw their powers from totally different sources. Greater Heal, for instance, could come either from the Light or the power of Elune. A Shadowfiend could either be a spawn of the Forgotten Shadow, or a dark trollish voodoo spirit. If you are roleplaying a priest, the only thing that really matters is that your character have some sort of faith or profound belief, which could serve as the source of their divine magical power. A priest's magic revolves around his or her strong beliefs and ideas -- but what those beliefs are is entirely up to you.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Human, Night Elves, Dwarves, Undead, Trolls, Priest, Analysis / Opinion, Draenei, Blood Elves, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a Mage

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the sixteenth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself. It's also the first installment with a title that rhymes!

The Mage is the foremost master of magic in the Warcraft universe. Although all the other classes excluding the Warrior and the Rogue use magic of one sort or another with equally wonderful effects, the Mage is the class that's named after the stuff.

But what is magic? What does it feel like to harness it? Does the mage have to do a strange ritual or utter incomprehensible words in an ancient language in order to cast her spells? Other fantasy settings often have one or more of these elements together, but as far as I can tell, Warcraft lacks them.

Arcane magic in the World of Warcraft is an ever-present energy field surrounding the whole world. Mages access it by concentrating in the magic energy within themselves, feeling it rush through their body, and directing it as they please. Those spells that require reagents need an extra focusing item with magical properties of its own in order to bring about the desired effect, but for the most part, fireballs, frostbolts and arcane explosions can be created through the mere act of will on the part of a properly educated mind.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Human, Gnomes, Undead, Trolls, Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Draenei, Blood Elves, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Know Your Lore: Dalaran


Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below!

Dalaran has been one of the most prominent nations in the Eastern Kingdoms since its founding, though it's actually quite small. A nation only thousands strong at its height has perhaps held more sway over world leaders in its time than any other nation, and has attracted the ire of some of the most powerful entities Azeroth has ever seen.

Dalaran, located in the heart of former Lordaeron territory, has been the center of Arcane knowledge since its creation, and could be considered the Humans' answer to Quel'Thalas, though the nation accepts Elves (and many others) in its ranks as well. Magic is Dalaran's lifeblood, and is even ruled through the strength and wisdom of its magi. Dalaran is a magocracy, a government ruled by a council of mages known as the Kirin Tor, elected by citizens of the nation. Their icon is the Violet Eye, with Violet being the motif used for the nation itself, and the color purple representing the Arcane as a whole in Warcraft (Arcane Missiles, Netherstorm).

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

Ask a Lore Nerd: So You Think You Can Dance, Naxxramas edition


Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week blogger and columnist Alex Ziebart answers your questions about the lore and history of the World of Warcraft. Ask your questions in the comments section below, and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

Today's Ask a Lore Nerd is best read while under the influence of obscene amounts of caffeine and sugar, and while listening to catchy J-Pop (or similar music). Tsuguru is preferred, though most anything the Yoshida Brothers have created is acceptable.

Bjara asked...

When you are in the DK starting area, you can have a funny little chat with Noth at the plague cauldron and you find out he really, really hates Heigan from Naxx. Do you know why? I'm still trying to find a way to work "slime and crap filled dance studio" into conversations on a daily basis.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Wrath of the Lich King, Ask a Lore Nerd

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