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World of Warcraft's 10th anniversary preview

Molten Corgi
Ten years is a long time. Ten years ago, in 2004, I was 20 years old and entering my third semester of college--also entangled in endless piles of paperwork while I prepared to spend a year studying at the University of New South Wales in Sydney for the calender year 2005. Ten years ago, in November 2004, World of Warcraft officially launched.

The mark that WoW has left on the gaming industry is indisputable--but we're not here for musing retrospectives. At least, not yet. We're here because there's going to be a whole bunch of fun in-game events to celebrate WoW's first decade of existence, and Blizzard has given us a lovely preview of what at least a few of them are.

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items

Hearthstone Cinematic

Blizzard has just released the cinematic for HearthStone, embedded above. It's fun and goofy, which is the impression I have of the game itself! The voice-over goes through some of Warcraft's most notable heroes: Thrall, Jaina, Illidan, Garrosh, and settles on some beer-swilling dwarves telling you to forget about blood and honor and just sit back and enjoy yourself. Kind of sounds like a Saturday night in Ironforge, doesn't it?

I'm already looking forward to this game more than I would have thought. I'm a sucker for cartoonish fun, which this game looks to have in spades. I've always enjoyed card games like Magic: The Gathering but I hate physically collecting cards, and I've moved so much in the last ten years that I lose them anyway. Digital card games are growing in popularity, and Hearthstone seems like a solid addition to the genre.

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider

WoW Insider's Guild of the Month contest returns

Is your guild the best in World of Warcraft? In 2009, we ran a monthly contest rewarding the best guilds in Azeroth. This month we begin again, with a contest sponsored by SwagDog. We are giving the winner a $100 gift certificate to use toward custom guild apparel for his or her guildies. We'll also profile the winning guild here on WoW Insider. Here's how to enter:
  • Email 200 words or less describing why your guild deserves to win Guild of the Month to contests@wowinsider.com.
  • Send it from an email you check often.
  • Include your guild's name and server.
  • Enter by 11:59 p.m. ET Feb. 8, 2011.
We wish that everyone were eligible to enter, but the rules of wherever you live greatly limit what we can do. It's not you. It's not us. It's your government. So in order to enter, you must:
  • be 18 years or older
  • live in the United States or non-Québécois Canada
Full rules for the contest are listed here.

How is your guild different from other guilds? What do you think your guild's greatest accomplishments are? What kind of things does your guild do together? For hints as to what we are looking for, browse through our previous winners. If you've entered before, you can enter again, as long as you didn't win.

So email your entry telling us why your guild is the best for a chance to win some cool stuff from SwagDog.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Guilds, Contests

Cataclysm live beta stream plus new direction for Choose My Adventure

Choose the adventures of WoW Insider's Robin Torres as she levels multiple alts in the Cataclysm beta, live every Monday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. EDT.

Note: The stream is of the Cataclysm beta. It and the chat below are full of spoilers. You have been warned.

Update: The stream is now over. Please click on the image above to watch the video replay.

Hello and welcome to the live version of Choose My Adventure (beta edition). The winner of the polls was Roblinator, the goblin shaman, so I will be starting her adventures today. Join me after the break while I narrate, read quests and take requests from the chat room. The show will run for at least an hour and be viewable on video, if you weren't able to watch it live.

In addition to today's show, there are big changes coming to Choose My Adventure. So please join us after the break for the announcement and the polls for next week.

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Filed under: It Came from the Blog, Choose My Adventure

Pandaren in the World of Warcraft

In among all of the "omg fake pets for real money" drama from this week's announcement, we may have missed something big: the Pandaren are now live in the World of Warcraft. The Pandaren are my favorite Azerothian race, even though they're essentially a joke -- Samwise Didier just loves pandas, and he made art for an April Fool's joke that Chris Metzen loved so much they decided to include the bears as real characters in Warcraft III. Since then, they've become fan favorites (not least of all, especially for me, because alcohol and ale are a big part of their culture), but we've only seen hints of them in World of Warcraft. There was a rumor going around a while back that they would never appear in the game because China didn't allow depictions of violence against the bears, but that was just a rumor. Still, the Pandaren have existed in WoW only as a Blizzard in-joke. We assume they're out there somewhere, but until now, no one has ever seen one.

Of course we say "until now" because there are now little Pandaren monk noncombat pets running around, bowing, and doing magical kung-fu. Does this mean that the future Emerald Dream expansion will have us all playing as Brewmasters? While yes that would be awesome, not so fast again: Diablo and the Zergling from Starcraft are both in the game as noncombat pets, and they don't mean anything at all (although they were both included in the game before the announcements of Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 -- maybe Blizzard is working on a Pandaren-based puzzle game? Conspiracy theorists, assemble!). And just because we all have Grunty doesn't mean murlocs are suddenly going to take to spaceships with battle rifles in the official lore. But it's cool to see Pandaren actually in the game, even in pet form, and who knows, maybe we will one day find the legendary realm of Pandaria in our own version of Azeroth.

Filed under: Alliance, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs

Blizzard announces official YouTube channel


To go along with their recently created Twitter accounts, Blizzard has now started up an official YouTube channel as well. Right now, the channel just contains animations and cinematics that we've mostly seen before (not that we mind watching that Burning Crusade cinematic for the umpteenth time), but we presume that in the future, we might see newly released videos, including possibly interviews with Blizzard staff, and maybe even some (gasp!) gameplay videos as well.

Whoever's in charge of social media over at Blizzard has really been working it lately -- we can't wait to see their Last.fm account (Most Played: the artists formerly known as Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain) or their OkCupid account (Adam Holisky & Alex Ziebart would be at least 87% friends with Ghostcrawler, no question). Definitely fun to see Blizzard, historically a very closed-door company, opening up a little bit to the various outlets where they can correspond with fans.

Filed under: Machinima, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade

Breakfast Topic: What BlizzCon announcement are you waiting for?

BlizzCon is just a day away now! WoW.com staffers are gonna be haunting the grounds in full force and are likely to leave some ectoplasmic residue (read: drool) on a number of demo tables and panel floors, depending on what's announced and shown at the event. And the announcements are, at least for most everyone but Blizzard, still a mystery. Popular opinion (and the ability to put two and two together) seems to indicate the unveiling of a new WoW expansion, but why stop there? After all, there are three other games that Blizzard is working on -- or so they say -- so it's quite possible that we'll see some big ol' infodrops about those titles too.

Or maybe Blizzard will through us for a loop and treat us to two days of Premonition raids and panels about J. Allen Brack's ponytail. It is a mystery!

So what are you holding out for? StarCraft II release date? Diablo 3 bombshell? Next-gen MMO reveal? Glossy eight-by-tens of Zarhym in shades and a leather jacket (so dreamy)?

BlizzCon 2009 is coming up on August 21st and 22nd! We've got all the latest news and information. At BlizzCon you can play the latest games, meet your guildmates, and ask the developers your questions. Plus, there's some great looking costumes.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, BlizzCon

Blizzard headed back to PAX this year

Can't make it to BlizzCon but still want to check out Blizzard's latest offerings? Blizzard has appeared on the list of sponsors for Penny Arcade's PAX convention, which takes place later this year on September 4-6, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. PAX is a great time and a ton of fun -- I went a few years ago, and really enjoyed it. In addition to a terrific lineup of geeky musicians and demo panels from game developers, they always have a nice open floor full of the latest games to check out and play. And since PAX will be going down after BlizzCon (which takes place in two weeks), if you go, you'll likely have a chance to check out whatever Blizzard wants to put on display, be that Starcraft II or Diablo 3, or, you know... anything else they might announce.

Plus, tickets to PAX are cheaper and even easier to get than BlizzCon tickets anyway, not to mention that you'll be seeing way more games and companies than just Blizzard. In fact, why am I going to BlizzCon again? I'd almost rather go to PAX this year. I'd love to see Freezepop!

Oh, right, I can't miss our legendary meetup (wait until you guys see the giveaways we have planned!). But even if you're going to Penny Arcade's show because you can't make it to Blizzard's convention, stay tuned here to WoW.com -- we'll make you feel like you're there anyway.

Filed under: Items, Events, Fan stuff, WoW Social Conventions, BlizzCon, Cataclysm

More fuel for the "Ozzy at BlizzCon" fire

Here's another rumor that points at just who we might be seeing on stage BlizzCon -- over on Roadrunner Records' Blabbermouth.net news website, there's a rumor going around that guitarist Gus G., who's part of a band called Firewind, will be playing with Ozzy Osbourne at this year's BlizzCon. This isn't the first time we've heard Ozzy might be there -- Zakk Wylde, who is apparently on his way out of Ozzy's band, previously mentioned that he might be playing there, but Blabbermouth says Zakk is out and Gus is in.

Now, before you go all nuts over the excitement of seeing the Prince of Darkness at BlizzCon (and we don't mean Arthas), keep in mind that this is only the second in a series of rumors, both from sources who may not exactly be familiar with BlizzCon anyway (they're only writing about this because they're interested in who's playing guitar with Ozzy, not what's going on at Blizzard's convention). So we definitely don't know for sure what's going on at BlizzCon yet -- don't pack your "Bark at the Moon" t-shirt until you've heard the official announcement from Blizzard.

Still, that would be an incredible show. I like Video Games Live and all, but they've never performed "Crazy Train" for us.

Thanks, Rob!

BlizzCon 2009 is coming up on August 21st and 22nd! We've got all the latest news and information. At BlizzCon, you can play the latest games, meet your guildmates, and ask the developers your questions. Plus, there are some great looking costumes.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, Bosses, BlizzCon, Rumors

Why we should expect an expansion announcement at Blizzcon

We're almost six months into Wrath's lifespan. Patch 3.1 is just around the corner, and before too long we'll be talking about 3.2. I anticipate 3.2 will come out quicker than most content patches and that 3.3 will be on its way soon after. After that, I'm willing to put good money on an expansion following it. We've had a lot of hints and solid information ready to back up a Q4 2009 expansion release, and even hints about what the content in it would be.

Here's what we know.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

More teasing from the Blues, this time about phasing

Oh Blizzard why do you torture us so? Last time it was all about Gilneas, and this time, Wyrxian winks at a player suggestion that phasing gets used more in the old world. Take this all as you will -- Blizzard is just pulling our chain on this stuff, and whatever they have in mind, they're not giving away quite yet.

But, let's speculate a little, shall we? We already know that there's one more Lich King mystery content patch: Ulduar is coming first in patch 3.1, and Icecrown will likely be the final raid of the expansion, but there's one more raid that they haven't told us about yet. So we could guess that we'll finally see what's been going on in Gilneas all these years, and that it'll be a phased experience, much like what we saw in the Sunwell patch before the expansion. Plus, the announcement for that patch could be right around now -- with 3.1 set to go live any day now, Blizzard could release that patch and then throw out a preview for the next release right away.

That's all guessing, of course. And we have no idea whether the phasing reference and Gilneas are even in the same patch -- I speculated long ago that the Emerald Dream expansion could be an entirely phased version of old Azeroth, which could completely revamp the 1-60 experience. So who knows? But Blizzard, as they always do, know something, and while they might let on soon, they're not telling right now.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Arena Season 5 start date announced

The big announcement has been made, and it's about what one might have expected. Season 5 for the Arena will begin on December 16th, when level 80 characters will begin rated play to compete for gear and end-of-season rewards.

This announcement came during a reminder that the "Limbo Season" will end this Tuesday. That means you're not going to get Arena points for any rated matches you're playing this week. There will be no rated Arenas again until December 16th, which is kind of a shame when you consider the two new Arenas in place.

A side effect of this announcement, of course, is that we now know for certain when Blizzard expects most of their players to reach level 80. Since you have to be 80 to get into the rated matches, you can guess the developers were waiting for a significant portion of the playerbase to be ready before starting the season. No doubt, high end Arena fighters will already have been storming the battlegrounds and collecting honor before the season starts.

WIth the gear changes and mechanics changes, it's going to be exciting to see the first season of Wrath. I'm definitely excited to see what new dynamic Death Knights bring. It's certainly going to be a different show. Good luck!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Arena

Patch 3.0.2 finally confirmed to arrive today

Slorkuz, a blue poster on the EU forums, finally confirmed outright that the realms are down to apply patch 3.0.2. I always find it odd that Blizzard waits until the last possible second to confirm any sort of release date – no matter how many hints and "read between the lines" announcements they make.

And as usual, the announcement is coming off the EU official forums. I'd bet some money that we'll see the patch notes up in EU before the US.

Filed under: Patches, News items

Last remaning BlizzCon tickets go on sale at 8:00 p.m. PDT tonight

If you want to go to BlizzCon in October, you have one last window to buy your tickets: 8:00 p.m. PDT tonight. That's 11:00 p.m. Eastern, and 10:00 p.m. Central. This news comes from an announcement on the main page of the WoW website. The announcement further tells us that all the available tickets were sold out within minutes of the Blizzard Store coming on-line this afternoon.

Considering there will be a third hall open this year, we believe around 12,000 tickets have been made available (this number has also been reportedly confirmed by phone sales reps), which is 50% more than the 8,000 that were sold last year. The World Wide Invitational that took place in June also sold out very quickly.

In the case of the WWI, additional tickets were made available after the primary batch had sold out. However, and this is important, there is no indication Blizzard will do this again.

We'll update with any further information when we have it.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, BlizzCon

Bornakk doesn't outright deny the July 3rd rumor

Of course, he hasn't confirmed it, either. Ever since that German CM apparently hinted at a July 3rd start date for the WoTLK Beta at the Worldwide Invitational, people have been searching for further confirmation or denial of the rumor. Bornakk, in true Blizzard style, has been staying mum, saying only that a date for the beta test has yet to be announced.

When someone expressed fear that we'd only hear about the beta at Blizzcon, Bornakk assured them that Blizzcon is not the only place to release information, but reiterated that there's no actual start date for the beta announced yet. On a later thread, when someone said that the WoTLK Beta would start this week, he linked back to that same thread, once again not outright denying it, but saying only that it had not yet been announced.

So what does this mean, exactly?

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Rumors

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