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WoW Archivist: Warlords of Draenor hates The Burning Crusade

Draining a naaru
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

In many ways, The Burning Crusade was the birth of modern WoW. Most of TBC's innovations are still going strong in WoW today and have been ever since their introduction. Looking back, it's striking how many key features of WoW were absent in classic, only unveiled during the game's first expansion.

Even more striking, however, is how many of these innovations Warlords of Draenor seems poised to undo. Just as Garrosh will undo the transformation of Draenor into Outland, Warlords seeks to unravel most of what Blizzard innovated during TBC. The next expansion will take us through a portal into a very different WoW.

Archivist has now covered all the major patches of The Burning Crusade: patch 2.0.1, patch 2.0.3, patch 2.1, patch 2.2, patch 2.3, and patch 2.4. Now it's time to review the expansion as a whole -- and explore how Warlords will make most of TBC's innovations disappear into the nether.

Dawn of the quest hub

The idea seems so obvious it's hard to imagine that classic WoW actually didn't have quest hubs, at least not in the strict sense. WoW was the first MMO to promote the idea of leveling mainly through quests rather than grinding mobs. So Blizzard had no model to look at when they were designing the original quests.

In classic WoW, quests were put into the game wherever the developers thought they made sense, mostly from a lore perspective. Quests didn't necessarily guide you through a zone area by area. Quests were scattered, and their objectives were, too. They weren't breadcrumbs -- they were meant to be discovered. They didn't hold your hand -- they sent you on an adventure, like it or not.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Rookie: Emblem gear for the fresh level 80

New around here? We've got your back! See all our collected tips, tricks and how-to's for new players in the WoW Rookie Guide.

Emblems of this, emblems of that ... What are all these emblems that everyone swears you simply must have once you hit level 80? WoW Rookie's got your back with the basics. An advanced, comprehensive path to the best gear for your class and spec to raid in? No, not really. A down-and-dirty orientation to which of these currencies matters most to you as a new level 80? Absolutely.

First, understand this: There's more to gearing at level 80 than emblem gear. Questing, instance drops, reputation gear, BoEs from the auction house and crafted pieces all play a role in your evolving gear set. Get your feet wet with our fresh 80's guide to getting started in 5-mans. If you especially enjoy digging your way through and savoring all the content, if you're a completist or if you're making your way toward raiding at something less than today's typically breakneck pace, you'll want to explore all of these options as you build your character.

If you're headed straight for end-game raiding, you'll want to focus on emblem gear. Emblems are probably the single most important tool for vaulting yourself to raid readiness. That's not to say that the other options are without merit; you'll definitely want to shore up your kit with non-emblem items. But emblem gear offers a clear, reliable, seamless path from level 80 right into raiding. Let's see how it all comes together.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

The Queue: Elephants


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Mike Sacco will be your host today.


Re: the title -- unlike them, I do forget. To write The Queue.


Wil asked...

"Is Blizzard considering making emblems bind-to-account? For someone who's got multiple alts (and intends to level more), this would be a godsend. What would be the pros and cons of such a change?"

Blizzard has said that they intend for emblems to be an endgame, character-specific reward. Heirlooms, purchasable with said emblems, are a secondary reward to help your alts get to the point of being able to get their own badges.

Will this change for Cataclysm, though? Do we ever really know the answer to that?


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Filed under: The Queue, Cataclysm

Time Is Money: Putting your emblems to work


Kebina Trudough here, offering you the best gold making secrets they don't want you to know about! I was like you once, poor and homely, before I discovered my patented system. Now you too can fill your pockets with the good stuff without ever breaking a sweat! Why spend all your time toiling when you could be vacationing in the Hot Springs? I'm not offering these tips for 100 gold, or 90 gold, or even 50 gold! No, not even 20 gold! My system is yours for FREE! Satisfaction guaranteed or I'll give you a full refund (handling charges may apply). After all, Time Is Money.

If you're like me, you have a lot of excess emblems sitting around. Maybe you never got around to spending them before the next tier came out, or maybe the badge gear just never quite compared to your raid drops. Whatever the case, there is no sense letting them go to waste when you could put them to work and earn some gold!

First, here is a quick breakdown of the current badge system, from most recent and difficult to acquire on down:
  1. Emblem of Frost: These can be acquired primarily by raiding Icecrown, completing the Raid Boss Per Week "weekly," or by completing one WotLK heroic dungeon per day using the Random tool.
  2. Emblem of Triumph: Most raids now drop these badges, as well as heroics. You will also be awarded these for doing any number of WotLK heroic dungeons past your first one per day using the Random tool. You will also get some by completing your first normal WotLK dungeon per day using the Random tool, as well as completing the Raid Boss Per Week "weekly." Also of note: If you get Heroic Oculus using the random tool, don't drop group! Not only has it been nerfed like crazy, but when you defeat the end boss, every player will receive a loot bag that will contain these badges and more, plus a chance at getting the super rare Reigns of the Blue Drake, which used to be available only by killing Malygos, who now drops his 25-man version (Azure) in both 10 and 25-man.
  3. Emblem of Conquest: Originally, these were acquired by running 10-man Coliseum, or 25-man Ulduar.
  4. Emblem of Valor: Originally these dropped from Ulduar 10-man and Naxxramas 25-man.
  5. Emblem of Heroism: These were among the first WotLK badges, and dropped from Naxxramas 10-man and heroic dungeons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Economy, Features, Guides, Making money, Time Is Money

Dungeon Finder reactions from players

The long-awaited Dungeon Finder is finally out on the servers, and people have had a few days with it now, so let's jump in and gauge some early reactions. Overall, it seems to be a big hit -- tanks and healers are jumping into groups right away, and while we've heard of longer waits for DPS, it doesn't seem bad at all. While of course the initial flood of people brought instance servers down (I'd expect to see the same thing happen during peak time this weekend), everything seems to be working well since then: disenchanters are correctly dropping items out, loot is getting distributed correctly, and groups are doing what they were always supposed to do: rake in the badges and rewards for players.

Hots and Dots actually has a long take on the Dungeon Finder, including "15 Things You Should Know," like that tanks and healers are still as important as ever (if you sign up for DPS and another role, you likely won't be doing DPS), and that we're finding out very quickly just how skilled or knowledgeable people really are ("the Party Leader will be forced to confess midway [through] that they actually know nothing about the instance").

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Leveling

Officers' Quarters: Patch 3.3 -- An officer's perspective


Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

Much as I've done with Patch 3.2 and other major patches in the past, I'd like to examine what 3.3 will mean for officers. All major patches require some forethought and adjustment, and this one just happens to be a doozy!

Icecrown Citadel

The ultimate raid of this expansion, Icecrown Citadel is poised to be one of the most exciting raids that Blizzard has ever released. As such, I can virtually guarantee you'll have long-lost players coming out of the woodwork to get back into the raiding scene for a chance to face off with the Lich King. Make sure you review your guild's policies for inviting players to raids to make sure that slots will be awarded in a way that's as fair as possible while still giving your raid a solid chance at success.

One debate that's sure to rage among officers and raid leaders this time around is whether to extend lockouts until you beat the zone and unlock the hard mode toggle or to reset the instance each week to farm the early bosses. I'm still not sure how my guild is going to handle this. It will certainly depend on how quickly we can clear those first bosses and which bosses present more of a roadblock. If we're clearing quickly, we'll probably keep going until we hit a boss we can't beat. Then we'll reset and farm up more loot and Frost Badges.


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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

We Have a Tabard: It's not cheating if...


Looking for a guild? Well, you can join ours! We have a tabard and everything! Check back for Amanda Dean talking about guilds and guild leadership in We Have a Tabard.

As I've mentioned before I'm not totally against PUGging raids. I find its actually an excellent way to get to know people on the server and sometimes a handy recruiting tool. Depending on your guild rules, there are some raids to PUG and some raids to save your lockout for your guild.

I had a guildie today all distraught because he was saved to Naxx 10 helping a guildie out. He apologized profusely when someone was putting together a "Badge Run Blitz" but couldn't heal it. At this point Naxx 10 is like running an extended heroic with more gold and shards. We've progressed beyond it, so lockouts are fair game.

I get a wee bit crabbier when folks get locked out of our current progression. We're actually still working on Ulduar 10, and need to draw upon any available resources to move forward. Guildies can feel free to run Naxx, Vault, and Obsidian Sanctum to their heart's content. Usually when someone asks for my blessing to run with another group, I give it if they have to miss guild times or we're unable to get into the group.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Features, Raiding, (Guild Leadership) We Have a Tabard

The next level of questing

Elnia at the Pink Pigtail Inn has some excellent and interesting advice for Blizzard's quest designers (or whoever they hire for the current position). As big a component as quests are in the game, they haven't been innovated on much since the game's release. Blizzard has played around a little bit with allowing us to repeat certain quests, and they've streamlined the group questing mechanic, but other than that, quests are pretty much the same: pick up a task, do it, and bring it back for a reward.

So how can it be done differently? Elnia has some great ideas: she asks for quests that span a little farther, that push players through a storyline that might even follow them all the way up to 80 (of course, there are quests like that, though they're few and far between -- and not all players have the patience to finish them). Rewards could be mixed up, too -- instead of the old gold and XP, how about some profession skill, or a tradeoff of badges based on certain quests done. Finally, Elnia suggests that every quest in the game become repeatable. Questing is paced to keep us interested in from 1-60, but we all know how the game works now -- why not let us do some of our favorite quests over more than once?

I'd suggest we go even farther -- Warhammer Online offers Public Quests that are an interesting twist on the usual "go kill boars" mechanic. I'd like to see branching quests with more than one outcome -- maybe a moral choice to make that affects the storyline of the quest you're doing. And talking real pie-in-the-sky here, I'd like to see questgivers treat you different based on the way you look or maybe what title you've got equipped. If you've got "Jenkins," they might not expect you to do much, but with "Champion of Ulduar" over your head, they should probably be groveling at your feet.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Quests, Leveling

Patch 3.2 changes the tiered Emblem system

There are a lot of things in the patch 3.2 test realm notes that jumped out at me, but the changes to the Emblem system seem like an especially big deal. The developers made it quite clear that they wanted a tiered token system in Wrath of the Lich King, they didn't want players just farming Heroics all day and night to get the best possible gear. In patch 3.2, it looks like they're backing off on that pretty heavily, likely an attempt to reignite interest in running Heroics. If you haven't seen the patch notes, here are the points I'm referring to:
  • Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead. Emblems of Conquest can still be converted to Valor or Heroism.
  • Both the 10 and 25 player instances of the Crusaders' Coliseum drop a new Emblem of Triumph.
  • The heroic dungeon daily quest will now reward 2 Emblems of Triumph and the normal daily dungeon quest will reward 1 Emblem of Triumph.
  • The existing achievements to collect 1, 25, 50, etc. Emblems of Heroism, Valor, and Conquest have been converted to Feats of Strength since Heroism and Valor Emblems are no longer attainable.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

The opposite of Heroics

Reader Malos on Nagrand sent me an interesting idea that I thought was worth some discussion. For a long time now, I've been a big fan of the idea of turning the old instances into Heroic versions -- I think it would be really fun to play Deadmines as a level 80, or roll through Scarlet Monastery for badges. But obviously the problem there is that Blizzard already has enough to do -- they're focused on creating new content, not revamping old instances that people have already played.

So Malos has a solution: instead of tweaking the instances to us, how about tweaking us to the instances? He suggests a set of gear, much like the Heirloom gear, that matches your character to whatever instance you happen to step into -- if you enter Deadmines, it powers down your level 80 character to an appropriate power and level for the instance. That way, all Blizzard has to do is make one set of gear per class (that could even scale upwards, so they never have to make it again), and boom, every instance could be played at the standard difficulty by any character any time.

Will it happen? Probably not. But I really like the idea of tweaking the players, not the instances, and I think there's a lot of possibility there for Blizzard. They've had such a tough time trying to balance out content for all kinds of players (including all of the hard modes and extra gameplay in Ulduar), that it might be interesting to try and measure the difficulty by going the other way -- balancing players out for all kinds of content.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Instances

Polling for Mr. Pinchy

Blizzard EU Community Blue Ancilorn has posted a poll over on the EU forums asking players about one of the more prickly pieces of loot in the game: Mr. Pinchy. Usually with loot, Blizzard has been pretty good lately: if there's a piece that you want, there are usually a few different ways to get it, one of which usually requires grinding (i.e. picking up tons of Badges) rather than just getting really, really lucky. But with vanity stuff, it seems like they feel free to just put us at the will of the dice roll, and almost no other pet is more random than Mr. Pinchy. Not only do you need to level fishing (which, admittedly, is much less random than it used to be), and not only do you need to fish up a random item, but then, you need to hit a random choice of five different options. It's a slim chance on a rare chance on a nearly impossible chance.

Which explains why even those who have been trying for him for so long (ahem, me -- as you've probably heard on our podcast) haven't picked him up yet. The biggest percentage in the poll (about 26% of respondents, as of this writing) says they've been trying a lot and haven't gotten him. But strangely enough, the lowest percentage says "an absolutely enormous amount" of effort went into getting him. Which suggests that the people who are getting him are underestimating the amount of time they're putting in -- just how much fishing is "a moderate amount"?

At any rate, it seems like Ancilorn is just asking to be asking. Mr. Pinchy is definitely as much of a vanity item as they come, and there should at least be some items in the game that are very, very rare. It does seem at times that every time I suggest Blizzard won't move on something, they do, but I'd say in this case Mr. Pinchy will stay as rare as he is.

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

BlizzCon badges are back

Danielle "Shyka" Brown is back again, and making custom art badges of your character to put in your BlizzCon lanyard. We covered her last year before the convention, and so if you're headed to BlizzCon and want to put a little custom memento of what your character looks like, now's the time to order them. She's starting a little earlier, so they're a bit cheaper, only $30 per badge, but any orders after June 16th will go up to $40 because presumably she'll be in crunch time. The good news is that since the last set of BlizzCon ticket sales are on May 30th, you should know for sure by then whether you're going or not.

And as you can see from the pictures at left, the quality of her work is pretty darn good -- there's a whole collection of her work from last year over on the blog, and it would be neat to have any of those hanging from your neck at BlizzCon.

If past years are any indication, Blizzard will definitely put your character's name somewhere on your ID badge for the convention (and they've also asked for your faction affiliation and/or class in the past, so those may make an appearance as well). But this is something a little extra, especially if you're planning to meet up with in-game friends or guildies (or attend the sure-to-be-awesome WoW Insider bash, which we'll be having on Thursday night yet again), to identify yourself on the convention floor.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, BlizzCon, Fan art

The pros and cons of autolooting

Gnomeaggedon has a really insightful post about one of my favorite "hidden" features in patch 3.1. The first time I ran Naxx after the patch, I was a little worried on the first boss that I couldn't loot my badges or Stone Keeper's Shards. But of course, I'd missed it in the patch notes: all of that currency stuff now works like currency should. Whenever one person in the group or raid loots it, everyone gets their own as well. No more forgetting to loot your Badge, as it all goes automatically into the currency screen. Very nice change.

But as Gnomeaggedon says, there are still a few kinks in the program (aren't there always?). Quest items still don't get auto-looted, and since Badges do, that's even less encouragement to go check the loot to see if there's anything you need. He'd also like it if items got autolinked while Master Looter is on -- right now, it's the responsibility of the Master Looter to link and give out items that get looted, and that doesn't always get done clearly. That second one is kind of a good point -- my raid looter does pretty well with showing off items, so I don't really have much of an issue with that, but it would be helpful to see for sure what's in there.

But back to autolooting: the flip side of this is that if Blizzard uses autolooting too much, the game becomes that much more simple -- they already show you where the monster is and how to kill it, and now you want them to give you the loot automatically too? While it would be easier to have quest items sent to your backpack automatically, let's not forget that mobs with loot on them are shiney. It might make sense in raids to do autolooting (since everyone is grabbing for the same quest item), but autolooting while soloing might be a little too streamlined.

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

Badge purchases now refundable for two hours

A previously unannounced relatively un-promoted feature is apparently going live in patch 3.1 today: buyback for "alternate currency" items. "Alternate currency" means any currency except gold - Emblems of Heroism, Arena Points, etc. According to Vaneras, when the patch goes live, you'll have two hours after buying an item with an alternate currency to sell it back and get a refund. I've never accidentally bought something with badges, but I know people who have, and it sucks; this is a nice fix.

A few caveats:

  • Stackable items (such as Frozen Orbs) are non-refundable.
  • Items that grant achievements are non-refundable.
  • Augments will not be returned - if you buy an item, enchant it, and then sell it back for badges, you don't get your enchant mats back.
  • This only works one step back: If you buy a tier token for emblems, then exchange that tier token for a tier piece, you can trade the tier piece back for the token if you want. You can not, however, trade that token back for emblems after doing that.

Even with these limitations, it's still good protection against accidental purchases. Thanks, Blizz!

Filed under: Items

Why too many currencies actually helps progression

Badges of Justice, Battleground marks, Marks of Honor Hold and Thrallmar, Spirit Shards, Stone Keeper's Shards, Emblems of Valor, Emblems of Heroism, and now Emblems of Conquest: Ulduar will add yet another currency item into the game and Cypruss of Draka wonders, rightfully, if it's all just too much. The good news is that since the currency system was introduced, all of this stuff is out of our bags, but wouldn't it just be easier if instead of creating a whole new token system, Blizzard just charged a lot more for the gear?

Bornakk says no -- he says that if they just kept the same tokens and charged more per item, people would end up doing Naxx, Ulduar, OS, and any other instances that dropped that token every single week rather than actually moving up through the content, which is what Blizzard wants us to do. He also says that the Emblem exchange mechanic is designed to help this -- you can do Ulduar and go backwards for the gear, but you can't do Naxx ten extra times to get Ulduar gear.

Which, we have to give it to Blizzard, is actually pretty smart. Yes, it does keep players from farming up the tokens (Blizzard knows that if you could run all the instances per week just to get one kind of token, there'd be lots of players who would), but it also keeps people progressing to get gear they can upgrade to. As Bornakk says, they've been trying to improve the Badge system ever since it was introduced in BC, and this method of introducing new currency to send players up the ladder is a result of their work there.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Raiding, Bosses, Making money, Battlegrounds

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