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WoW Archivist: A Glyphmas story

Scrolls of glyphs
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?

Professions in Warlords of Draenor feel completely different than at any other era in WoW. Creating powerful items is no longer a matter of farming, luck, or gold. Instead, we have to produce their key ingredients via garrison work orders. Leveling crafting professions is no longer about creating a bunch of useless items that we instantly vendor or disenchant, and reaching max level is now a slow burn instead of a quick grind. This is the first expansion where I haven't hit max level on all my professions within the first week or two.

The profession that has changed the most is the most recent: Wrath of the Lich King's inscription, added in 2008. Even the interface changed: the glyph window was originally part of the spellbook UI, not the talent pane. Because of those changes, for a few very special weeks, inscription transformed the financial futures of countless WoW players. I was one of them. We called it Glyphmas, and it was magical.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Select pets and mounts 50% off until January 5th

Well, it's Christmas (or Winter Veil if you're Azerothian) and it seems like Blizzard's taking the opportunity to hook into your last minute gift buying impulse with this holiday sale. Selected mounts and pets (you can see which by looking at this page) are available for half price. And worry not, European players, you haven't been left out. So yay for everyone who can finally snag that pet or mount they wanted, whether as a gift or just buying it for yourself.

I'm considering finally getting that Enchanted Fey Dragon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

WoW Archivist: Upper Blackrock Spire

Whelps and eggs in the Rookery
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?

You may have taken Upper Blackrock Spire, Warlord Zaela, but the classic version lives in our hearts, where your orc friends can't get to it. In 2005, UBRS was the dungeon everyone desperately aspired to run. They begged to run it. They paid to run it. They sat in capital cities for hours just hoping, dreaming, that someone, somehow, would put together a UBRS group.

The dungeon was the pinnacle of content for classic WoW's "nonraiders" and the gateway to raiding for raiders. Quests here attuned you for Onyxia's Lair and Blackwing Lair. (And who doesn't love a good lair?) Another quest allowed your Molten Core raid to summon Majordomo Executus. No endgame PvE'er could avoid UBRS, even if they wanted to. We didn't avoid it, though, because the original "Ubers" (OO bers), as players affectionately called it, was awesome.

What made it so special? Why was it so revered, and why are some players sad that it has been removed from WoW forever? Let's turn back the Empowered Hourglass to 2005 to find out.

Ascension

UBRS, like many of WoW's classic endgame dungeons, required a key to enter. It was not nearly as simple as grinding out some reputation -- click the link for the full rundown of just how painful getting this key was. Even the quest giver knew trying to get a key would be awful. He told you, "Understand this, mortal: the chance that one of the three generals of the lower citadel would carry a gemstone at any given time is rare. You must be vigilant in your quest. Remain determined!"

In early 2005, when many players were finally hitting the endgame, very few had a Seal of Ascension to grant UBRS access. To put this in perspective, by the end of classic, my guild of more than 200 people only had about five or six keys. If you had a key, you had two choices. You could hide in your guild and only do guild runs. Or you could advertise that you had one to your realm, find yourself on everyone's friend list, and get requests day and night, every time you logged in, to run UBRS. Even if you tried to keep it a secret, someone in your guild may have outed you. Once that cat was out of the bag, your WoW experience changed dramatically. You were now a realm celebrity.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Epics

Bulwark of Azzinoth
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?

Leveling through Draenor has been a blast, but as a player from classic WoW, a few things have struck me as incredibly strange. Triple-digit numbers in the guild panel. Sending NPCs to do quests on my behalf. And most of all, getting epic armor and weapons from solo leveling quests.

Many players in classic WoW (and not just raiders) opposed making epics more available to players. They called Blizzard's evolving attitude a slippery slope. "What's next," they argued, "epics for doing solo quests?" They never actually imagined that would happen. In 2005 it would have been unthinkable. Eight years later, here we are. But it's all been by design -- an evolving design with many steps along the way. Let's look at how we got here, one random drop at a time.

The few, the proud, the epic

In early classic WoW, only one path allowed you to deck out your character in purple items: 40-player raiding. Other raiding didn't cut it. Bosses in the 15-player (later 10-player) Upper Blackrock Spire dropped rares. Even bosses in the 20-player raids, Zul'Gurub and Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, dropped mostly rares when they first opened their instance portals. Only their end bosses consistently dropped epic loot.

Outside of 40-man raids, a handful of bosses had a very small chance to drop an epic item. Emperor Thaurissan in Blackrock Depths had a tiny chance to drop Ironfoe. The "tribute run" chest from Dire Maul very rarely offered up Treant's Bane -- and I'll never forget the joy in my warrior friend's voice when it dropped for him, all those years ago. DM was also the source of the highly coveted tanking weapon Quel'Serrar, but the quest item to obtain it had an incredibly low drop rate.

Back then, even the recipes to craft epics (such as the awesome Force Reactive Disk) could only be obtained from 40-player raids.

Even if you were raiding with 39 of your closest online friends, earning purples was no picnic. With two drops per boss at first, odds of getting an item on any given run were slim. You could complete a full clear without a single drop for your class and spec. Each epic you equipped generally represented several weeks of endgame effort. When a player sauntered through Orgrimmar or Ironforge in head-to-toe purples, players knew this was a person who had spent many, many hours on that character.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blizzard reveals how new character models are made

It turns out it's a little rougher on them than you might expect. This is one of those times that the video pretty much speaks for itself. The ending is a nice reveal, though.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Patch 6.0.3 hotfixes for November 5th

Once again into the breach, dear friends, and instead of using dead bodies as material for a wall, we're going to look at the hotfixes that Blizzard made for November 5th. Shall we? Let's do.
  • Hunter's tenacity pets saw a couple of fixes.
    • Tenacity Pet Specialization: Blood of the Rhino now reduces the pet's physical damage taken by 15% instead of increasing armor by 20%.
    • Tenacity Pet Specialization: Great Stamina now increases the pet's health by 60% (up from 12%).
  • Priests saw a 15% nerf to Holy Nova's healing, while Divine Star's healing or damage (based on spec) was buffed by 15%
  • Fixed an issue where Zidormi may send players to an incorrect phase in the Blasted Lands.
  • Once a Challenge Mode has started, characters can no longer change specializations, talents, or glyphs.
For a full list of the hotfixes, follow us beyond the curtain.

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Filed under: Hunter, Priest, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Death Knight, Hotfixes, Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: The zombie plague event

Zombies attack
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?

We have one more week of the Iron Horde invasion event before we can take the fight through the portal to Draenor. Most players seem to think this event is serviceable, if unexciting. Like all such events, it lives in the shadow of the most memorable pre-expansion event in WoW's long history: the zombie plague. It debuted almost exactly six years ago, and Blizzard has never topped it.

If you need evidence, just look at the comments on the previous WoW Archivist about patch 3.0. I only mentioned the event in passing as a topic for a future column. Even so, readers posted more about the plague event than about any of the other 3.0 features like achievements, glyphs, or pally nerfs.

Shaking the foundations

Although the players knew some kind of Scourge-based event awaited us, no one knew the details or the scope. At midnight on October 22, 2008, it began. Argent Dawn members appeared in capital cities to warn us. "The Lich King is attempting to make his presence known," they said. "We must not let this occur."

At the event's inception, WoW Insider posted an article speculating on what we might soon face, and our hopes turned out to be prophetic:

Will it be a simple replay of the Scourge Invasion that brought Naxxramas to our shores for the first time? Or will it be something even more sinister, a world event that shakes the very foundations of the World of Warcraft as we know it?

Call us destructive, but we're kind of hoping for the second.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Patch 3.0 -- Echoes of Doom

Patch 3.0.2 official poster
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?

Patch 6.0 is finally upon us. Like all pre-expansion patches, it has been both invigorating and chaotic. Almost exactly six years ago, a similar patch went live to begin a new era in WoW. Blizzard called Wrath of the Lich King's pre-expansion patch "Echoes of Doom." On October 14, 2008, this third version of the game gave us the brand-new achievement system, inscription and glyphs, 51-point talent trees, the zombie plague event, and TO THE GROUND, BABY. Read on to see what WoW was like for those turbulent few weeks before Wrath of the Lich King's launch.

Dalaran, where art thou?

Through all of classic and The Burning Crusade, Dalaran sat in northern Hillsbrad, but players couldn't see it. An opaque purple dome walled off the Kirin Tor from the world at large. At the time, the enormous structure was one of the most striking landmarks in Azeroth. Although a few quests hinted at what lay beneath it, players new to the WoW universe had no idea what was there.

And then it was gone.

All that remained was a city-sized crater. I remember making a pilgrimage to this site during the 3.0 prepatch just to see it for myself. We couldn't go to Northrend yet to see the city first-hand. We had to wait for the launch of Wrath to do that. But looking at that crater certainly fired the imagination. I couldn't wait to find out what had been lurking under that dome for the first four years of the game.

I have to say, the city lived up to my high expectations.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

What is BlizzCon and how can I keep up with it?

If you're new to the game or play casually, you may be wondering just what all the fuss is about BlizzCon. So just what is BlizzCon and what does it mean to you?

We'll start at the beginning: BlizzCon is a convention held by Blizzard where they announce new games (and expansions), hold panels with developers, let the best players in the world show off their skills in tournaments, offer hands-on demos of just-announced games, host costume and talent contests, and other fun Blizzard-centric activities. The con is held in sunny Anaheim, California on a standard Blizzard "when it's ready" schedule -- typically every couple of years, though sometimes it's an annual event. This year's convention will be on the weekend of November 7 - 8th and if you want to attend... well, unfortunately tickets are sold out. However, you can still pick up a virtual ticket which will let you watch live streams from the convention floor, access the BlizzCon-exclusive store, and pick up some in-game goodies -- like this year's Grommloc murloc pet -- for $40.

But is it worth it -- and do you even care? Well, maybe. Here's a rundown of what you can expect to happen at BlizzCon this year -- and how to keep up with the news from afar.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie, BlizzCon

New Blackhand comic at the official site

So, have you ever wondered how he got the name Blackhand? Wonder no more. The latest Warlords of Draenor comic, Blackhand, gives you a glimpse into the history of the Blackrock orcs on Draenor, shows us a tantalizing glimpse of a character we haven't seen much of yet, and answers questions like What happened to Blackhand in this timeline with more questions, really. Still, if watching orcs battle ogres, negotiate with the spirits, and risk death for their people sounds good to you, this is the comic you want to read. Written by Robert Brooks and with art by Alex Horley, it's up now, so go get it.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: Class protests and the Million Gnome March

Naked gnomes everywhere
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?

Betas make players nervous about their class. It happens every time. Blizzard makes changes, often drastically, and for better or worse some people hate the changes. I've been keeping my eye on the beta class forums since the Warlords beta began, and I've seen a lot of unhappiness this time around. The ability pruning that was one of Blizzard's major design goals for classes this year has removed depth from rotations, taken away both utility and cosmetic options, and in some cases radically altered or deleted abilities that players enjoyed. Beta testers have voiced strong opposition to many of the changes.

In ten years, I haven't seen players this up in arms about class issues since classic WoW -- an era when many specs and mechanics were simply broken in PvE, PvP, or both.

This past Friday, something happened that I believed would never again happen in WoW: an in-game class protest. With much more open lines of communication from developers to players in recent years, I thought the game had matured beyond the point where such things would ever be necessary. But here we are, almost ten years after the most famous class protest in WoW's history, and players once again felt the need to gather in Azeroth to voice their complaints.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

New Undelete Character feature for World of Warcraft

I have to admit, I didn't see it coming, and I probably should with the push to get players to return for Warlords of Draenor. A new automated service, useable once every 30 days, will allow you to restore a deleted character. What are the restrictions on this service? Well, for starters, level 10 and below characters are just plain gone. Same with level 55 DK's. If you barely even played it, don't try to undelete it, it's gone.
New Feature Incoming: Undelete Character
In the upcoming pre-Warlords of Draenor content patch, we're adding a new feature that allows players to undelete characters. But before you delete that character, there are a few limitations we want you to let you to know about first.
  • Characters under level 10 and Death Knights at level 55 are not eligible to be undeleted.
  • Characters between level 10 and level 29 will no longer recoverable after 90 days.
  • Characters between level 30 and 49 will no longer recoverable after 120 days.
  • All other characters level 50 and above are eligible to be undeleted at any time.
  • Please keep in mind you will only be able to use the undelete option once every 30 days.
Undeleting a character restores all of its enchantments, gems, and items fully intact. You'll be able to get back into action right away, and your character won't remember being deleted-we won't tell, either.

Shhhh. . . .

Reclaiming Your Name: What About Flugur?

We'll be holding deleted character names for a limited time, and the original creator can reclaim it for use on a new character during that time. If you create a new character with the same name as one of your deleted characters (let's say Flugur), the new character must be renamed, transferred, or deleted to complete the restoration of the original Flugur.


That last bit seems odd to me - wouldn't it be easier to just force Flugur to be renamed? Does this mean if I created a new warrior named Flugur and leveled him to 90, I'd have to fork out for a rename if I wanted my old BC era Flugur back? But otherwise it's a cool thing to have added, and I might even make use of it for that paladin I deleted back in BC. He had some weird stuff in his bags from Naxx.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

WoW Archivist: Bottlenecks

Gyrocopter jam
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?

Wherever thousands of players try to complete on-rails content, bottlenecks are inevitable. For Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard is trying to be proactive about eliminating them. Back in July, CM Zorbrix posted a "targeted feedback request" about bottlenecks in the beta. Given that the introductory experience is completely on rails before the expansion unleashes players into its less structured zones, this is a real concern.

WoW hasn't had the best track record when it comes to bottlenecks. As we help Blizzard loosen the bottlenecks of the future, let's revisit those of the past.

The great gyrocopter jam of 2012

Blizzard's server tech has come a long way since the game's launch. Lag and crashes are no longer rampant during expansion launches. But sometimes, other problems can prohibit players from progressing on Day 1. If we're talking bottlenecks, we have to start with the most infamous one in all of WoW, which also happens to be one of the most recent.

This was a problem that people saw coming. I found a thread on MMO Champion from September 2012 where a poster writes, "On Beta - everyone had to funnel through a single vehicle quest to proceed on the Jade Forest quest line. I'm a touch concerned that this is going to be way worse than any other expansion..."

And this guy was totally right. OK, maybe Mists wasn't as bad as The Burning Crusade overall, but the ironically named Unleash Hell was still the biggest -- and most dramatic -- bottleneck ever caused by a single quest.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience, part 3

Ragnaros

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?

If you missed part 1 and part 2, that means you were late for the raid and we're docking you 50 DKP. Next time get here early to help the warlocks farm soul shards.

OK, fellow archivists! We've cleared trash, we've decursed, we've pulled Geddon to Garr's room, we've brefriended the Duke, and we've doused every fiery rune. It's time to delve into the core of the Core to take on the Majordomo and Ragnaros himself, 2005 edition.

The invincible majordomo

Undefeated in battle, Executus rose through the ranks of Ragnaros's lieutenants to become the Firelord's majordomo. He did not appear until you doused all the runes, so the earliest raids on Molten Core had to stop after Golemagg and Sulfuron due to an Aqual Quintessence shortage.

After raiders repped up with the Hydraxian Waterlords and could finally summon the Majordomo, they were faced with an invincible warrior -- literally. Executus could not be killed. His Aegis of Ragnaros spell gave him a 30K damage absorb buff and healed him to full, so it was pointless to DPS him.

Instead, raids had to manage his eight adds: four Flamewaker Elites and four Flamewaker Healers. Mages were the key to this fight as they had the only reliable, long-term crowd control spell for humanoids. The fight required at least five tanks, one for the majordomo and one for each elite. All four healers were sheeped until all the elites were dead. Then the raid could kill the healers one at a time.

But it wasn't that simple. The fight had some interesting complications.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

New players get World of Warcraft free until September 26th

You read that right. It's apparently as easy as downloading the Battle.net app, using it to download World of Warcraft and launching the game. If you're on the fence about returning or have someone you want to show the game off to, now is possibly the best time imaginable, since you won't have to pay for the majority of the month. There's also a helpful link to Blizzard's beginner's guide, which can help you dive in and get started in WoW.

Probably a pretty good time for a promotion like this, with a lot of people having let their subs lapse during the long content drought, it's an easy way to try and ease some of them back into the game while also giving new players a painless way to explore whether or not WoW is the game for them.

Edit: Turns out it's not all new players. It's part of a specific email promotion.


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

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