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WoW Archivist: 10 years, 10 amazing moments, part 2

Red dragonflight purges the plague
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?

Reflecting back on 10 years of WoW, I find it hard not to smile and shake my head in disbelief. If someone had told me early in 2004 that a game would be released that year and I'd still be playing it week in, week out in 2015, I never would have believed it.

If you missed part 1, I covered world PvP near Uldaman, founding a guild, getting lost in Gnomeregan, earning my Rhok'delar bow, and my first night in Outland. Here are five more amazing moments.

6. The Wrathgate. In the weeks after Wrath of the Lich King launched, one achievement got instant attention in your guild chat: Veteran of the Wrathgate. Those who had already experienced the awesomeness congratulated the player who earned it. Those who hadn't waited in anticipation of that moment (and hopefully remained unspoiled until they did). And those who had just earned the achievement were left saying, simply, "whoa."

It's a quest line that deserves its own Archivist column someday, so I won't go into detail about the lead-up to this incredible event. Once you completed it, the cinematic began.

Going into it, we thought we knew what Wrath was all about. We thought it would be straightforward: The Lich King attacked us, so the Horde and Alliance would put aside their differences to take him down. No mess, no fuss. Four and a half minutes later, the champion of each faction was (apparently) dead, the Forsaken were in open rebellion, everything was on fire, and we realized that this story would be far messier and more interesting than we thought.

Afterward, we gazed over the charred remains on the battlefield and listened to the screams of the dying, shellshocked from this devastating moment. It was over, or so it seemed. But Blizzard had another surprise in store for us a few quests later: the Battle for the Undercity.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: 10 years, 10 amazing moments

Uldaman portal
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 2004, I bought a brown box with some discs inside it. On the cover was a close-up of a woman with crazy purple eyebrows and an angry bearded guy -- possibly Matt Rossi -- holding a gun. I didn't know anything about the Warcraft universe at the time. I'd watched someone play Warcraft III once (or was it II?). I remember chuckling at the peons' comments as they got to work. That was the extent of my experience.

I'd been playing Final Fantasy XI and I loved the concept of an online world. I was hoping for a game that was more accessible than FFXI but with all the cool monsters, grouping, exploration, and loot. I never imagined the journey that I was about to take, the people I would meet, the opportunities that would become open to me as a result of that purchase. Many of us who played back then had no idea what was about to happen to the gaming world because of that brown box.

world of warcraft game boxWith all the hoopla surrounding Warlords of Draenor, Archivist has been busy covering yesterday's precursors to current content, such as the zombie plague pre-expansion event, patch 3.0, and the original Upper Blackrock Spire. WoW's 10th anniversary events officially ended this week (after an unscheduled extension), and it is past time that I looked back on my own ten years in Azeroth.

Here are ten of my favorite WoW moments, in order.

1. Showdown at Uldaman. One of my first PvP experiences in WoW was a complete accident. In late 2004, a friend and I were questing in the cave outside of Uldaman in the Badlands. We were in our mid to high 30s at the time on our first characters. One of the mushrooms we had to gather sat behind an Alliance NPC. I went to right-click to gather it but instead I clicked the NPC and started attacking him. We were flagged for PvP on a PvE realm. We knew it was now open season on us. And on Khadgar-US, Horde players were heavily outnumbered by the Alliance.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: 3.0.8, the "disaster" patch

A Wintergrasp battle
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?

Any game that survives for 10 years and counting will have its growing pains. There will be moments when the urge to deliver the best possible content gets the better of the developers, when they reach too far but only figure that out after it's too late.

Wrath of the Lich King was so ambitious in scope, as originally conceived, that Blizzard simply couldn't deliver what they announced. Blizzard cut major features before the expansion even went into beta testing. Wrath's systems went live with patch 3.0.2 in October 2008, and the expansion hit live realms two months later. As with most expansions, there were early problems.

In patch 3.0.8, Blizzard tried to fix those problems. Instead, they made them worse. Far worse. WoW Insider called the patch a "disaster." Read on to find out why!

Wintercrash

Rebalancing the popular Wintergrasp outdoor battle was one of the patch's biggest features. Blizzard buffed vehicles and turrets to make them less fragile. The keep walls also became sturdier, while the final door received a nerf. Other adjustments and fixes went into effect.

So did a bug so catastrophic that players couldn't believe it ever found its way to a live realm.

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Filed under: Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

Should Warcraft be an Olympic sport?

Professional e-sports exist and can draw in significant interest - people watch streams on Twitch, top players can earn significant money, and we've seen people come out to watch them at places like BlizzCon and the Worldwide Invitational. But is it really a sport, and should we be seeing it in the Olympics? Rob Pardo, former chief creative officer at Blizzard, argues yes in this interview with the BBC.

In the interview, Pardo discusses the physical and mental ability of some of the best players in the world, how many decisions they made in a short period of time, as well as the draw of the games as a spectator sport. To be fair, he's mostly talking about games like Starcraft, but his other point about games and cultural definition as to what is and isn't a sport seems more likely to hamper gaming at an Olympic level than anything else. It's just not very common for an activity that takes place in front of a computer to be seen as a sport.

For the complete interview, head over to the BBC.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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

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