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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

WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience, part 2

A rune in Molten Core
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 the last WoW Archivist, we covered the early parts of Molten Core: the "attunement," the grueling trash clear to Lucifron, and the weird hunter-focused mechanics of Magmadar. As we left off, the raid had just reached its first rune. To douse the rune and (eventually) summon Majordomo Executus, you had to make friends with an angry royal guy made of water.

The duke of douse

Duke Hydraxis, as a water elemental, wasn't very fond of other elemental types, particularly Ragnaros or his fiery kin. His Hydraxian Waterlords were the first raid-based reputation in WoW. You could rep up with them before setting foot in Molten Core by killing certain elementals out in the world, but only up to just shy of honored. After that, you had to run MC to get additional rep. Trash gave rep until revered, but only boss kills got you through the slow grind to exalted.

Meanwhile, you could complete a small quest chain for the Duke. He first sent you to kill elementals in Plaguelands and Silithus, and then to obtain an item from Pyroguard Emberseer in Blackrock Spire. Further quests involved killing specific trash mobs and bosses in Molten Core. Hands of the Enemy quite literally asked you to bring him the severed hands of Lucifron, Gehennas, Shazzrah, and Sulfuron. Once completed, you could loot the duke's coffer and choose one of two very valuable fire resistance rings. At this point, the duke also gave you an Aqual Quintessence, one of the most famous items from classic WoW.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blizzard donates to bring back GaymerX

It takes a lot of money to throw a gaming convention, which is why second-year LGBTQ gaming convention GaymerX wasn't certain there would be a third year of the event -- especially after NIS America backed out of a sponsorship deal (though the company eventually came through). Now the GaymerX crew is working on a third convention, which they're calling GX3, and they've pulled together some impressive financial backing in advance.

The biggest donor on the list -- besides dating app Hornet, which donated ad space -- is Blizzard Entertainment, which has pledged to chip in $10,000 to the convention. Blizzard doesn't have the best track record on supporting diversity lately -- especially where women are concerned -- and this seems like a solid move to change some of that public perception... and help keep an awesome gaming con going.

If you'd like to attend GX3 yourself, it will be held in November or December 2015 in San Francisco and you can pick up early tickets -- and other goodies -- on Kickstarter.

Editor's Note: Our moderators have bedded down for the night, so we're disabling comments on this post.

[Thanks, Orkchop, for the tip!]

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

New Hellscream Short Story available now

If you're curious about exactly what is going on with Garrosh, Kairoz, and the Draenor we're all about to find ourselves on, then you'll want to read Hellscream, the new short story by Robert Brooks that's up on the official site right now. It goes into detail, bridging the gap between the end of War Crimes and the beginning of the expansion. How does Garrosh motivate the orcs of Draenor to become the Iron Horde? Well, that's exactly what this story covers.

Without spoilers, it's definitely an interesting read, and it gives us a sense of what the major actors are up to, especially Garrosh and Kairoz. Head on over to the official site and check it out.

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

WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience

Lucifron
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?

Are you ready to return to the Core? Last week, we learned that Blizzard is planning a 40-player LFR version of classic's Molten Core raid as part of WoW's 10th anniversary celebration. Regardless of what they have in mind, the experience is certain to be very different than it was back in 2005.

Sure, you've probably solo'ed MC or cleared it with a few friends. But what was a Molten Core run like during classic WoW, when conquering Ragnaros and his fiery lieutenants was the pinnacle of endgame content? Read on to find out.

Zoning in

To access Molten Core at release, raids had to fight their way through the 5-player Blackrock Depths dungeon in order to access the raid. Today that would be impossible, but originally, dungeons had the same 40-player cap as raids.

Those poor, poor fools in BRD didn't stand a chance with three dozen+ players carving their way through. Since clearing it offered nothing but a timesink, Blizzard changed the Molten Core discovery quest into an attunement in March 2005. You had to reach the entrance of Molten Core once, and then you could port there directly by jumping out of a small window in Blackrock Mountain.

The game sometimes failed to register the instance transfer and you plummeted into a vast lake of lava. Yes, Molten Core could kill you before you even set foot in it.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Breakfast Topic: What Warcraft swag do you want to see?

Between their own official gear store and the merchandise on J!NX and other retailers, there's plenty of WoW (and Blizzard in general) swag out there for the buying. But with time-limited exclusives -- like the immensely popular (and quickly sold out) Nether Faerie Dragon plush at San Diego Comic-Con -- you can't always get your hands on the swag you want... and maybe Blizzard just hasn't gotten around to making the swag you want yet. (For example, I'd love to see more of swag based on Carbot's properties, like the StarCrafts hoodies.)

But just what Blizzard swag would get you shopping? Do you want more plushies, more hoodies, or something else entirely?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

WoW Archivist: One night of payback in 2006

Theramore
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?

An interesting aspect of the ongoing Ashran faction hub debate is the fear people express that their hubs will be raided by enemy players, since the new hubs are adjacent to a PvP zone. Blizzard pointed out that the hubs will be better defended by NPCs than the Shrines are now -- and the Shrines currently see few serious attacks on live realms, despite their close proximity.

On most realms today, little large-scale world PvP occurs, and even fewer faction raids. Faction raids were once a huge part of the game, even on PvE realms. You couldn't kill opposing players on PvE realms if they didn't want to be killed, but you could deny them their questgivers, flightmasters, and other crucial NPCs. And we did that, on both sides, throughout classic WoW.

Easy targets like the Crossroads, Astranaar, Grom'gol, and Refuge Pointe were raided almost daily. If your faction was heavily outnumbered, like mine was on Khadgar-US back then, it could be infuriating. We had our small victories at times, as I covered in my first Archivist column. But many days, all we could do was stand by and watch as the Alliance occupied our towns for hours at a time and took away our ability to level effectively.

On our first anniversary in 2006, my guild set out for some payback. Today I'd like to share that tale of classic world PvP, from the era when faction raids were serious business.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blizzard opens dedicated gamescom page

Coming this August, gamescom 2014 will continue the tradition of one of the biggest and most important video game conventions in the world. And this year, Blizzard plans on letting even people who don't get to travel to Cologne (it's in Germany) keep track of what they're up to at this massive con, with a dedicated web page for their presence, including livestreaming coverage. It's an interesting move for Blizzard, and an understandable one - gamescom is, on the whole, a big deal and it's likely that they'll be putting a lot of effort into their presentations there, so why not let people from outside the con get a look as well? It's just good PR.

This year's gamescom runs from August 13th to August 17th in Cologne, Germany. Dare we hope for a release date for Warlords of Draenor by then? Yes. Yes, we dare to hope for that. Maybe the cinematic? Why not? I'm from Rhode Island and I say release it all! Sorry, got excited, referenced Starship Troopers. it won't happen again.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?

Okay, I'm sure with a headline like "Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?" you're already thinking this is it. Rossi has finally snapped. But hear me out for a second. We've had BlizzCons since 2005, before The Burning Crusade was even released. While they haven't happened every year (there was no BlizzCon 2006 and no BlizzCon 2012) it's been fairly regular since its introduction. Last year, Warlords of Draenor was previewed at BlizzCon 2013 - for many of us it's the source of pretty much every opinion we have on the expansion.

That, in fact, is exactly what got me thinking that it's possible that BlizzCon itself is bad for the game, for the game community at large, and for the future of the franchise. BlizzCon, by its very nature, is a hype machine. It's where we learn details about the expansion - its name, its features, its setting and goals - before they are even close to being ready for players. People play demos. Developers give talks about the games. In many ways it's very exciting. I've never been myself, but most of my coworkers and a lot of my in-game friends have. So my argument isn't that BlizzCon itself is bad.

But looking over the past year or so, in terms of Warlords of Draenor and player interaction with it, I start to wonder if having the big reveal at the convention does more harm than good, overall. Expectations are set at the convention - looking at the recent player reaction to the news that Karabor and Bladespire wouldn't be capital cities in Draenor, the issue can in part be traced back to the fact that we were told they would be at BlizzCon. Players (like myself) had months to get excited about the idea of Karabor as a capital city. Then, suddenly, we were told (almost as an afterthought) that no, the capitals were moved to Ashran.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft earns over $1 billion a year

According to statistics from SuperData Research, World of Warcraft still dominates the MMO market with 36% market share. The game raked in just over a billion dollars in revenue in 2013, putting it well ahead of its nearest competition -- $253 million for NCSoft's 1998 title Lineage. The ranking of top subscription titles suggests that MMOs need staying power -- WoW is nearly 10 years old and Lineage is 16 -- and a strong Asian presence -- the top 3 are all big titles in Asia -- to sustain them over the long haul.

However, even though WoW continues to pull in strong subscription numbers, the industry has seen the subscription model declining sharply while microtransaction revenue has been on an upswing. With both a healthy subscriber base and its own microtransaction strategy, WoW seems prepared to succeed no matter which direction the industry goes. However, the overall subscription trend begs the question: will we ever see a free-to-play version of WoW? Blizzard has said no, and with subscription stats like this we can see why.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

WoW Archivist: More beta surprises

Sylvanas models through the years
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?

As the Warlords of Draenor beta rolls onward, Blizzard keeps managing to surprise us. Recently we've learned about a huge overhaul to guild systems, random upgrades for quest rewards, and an extra-awesome core hound mount.

In the last WoW Archivist column, we looked at the surprises from the original beta and the betas of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. This time, we continue with Wrath and also look at the surprises during the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria betas.

(As before, I won't go into storyline surprises here. And I won't cover surprises announced at BlizzCon outside of a beta. BlizzCon already has its own feature for controversial surprises.)

Beta of the Lich King (continued)

Goodbye, night elf Sylvanas. Through vanilla and TBC, the Sylvanas model looked like a night elf rather than an undead high elf. With Sylvanas poised to play a big role in Northrend, Blizzard clearly needed to revamp her model. Players worried that they would have to look at the old night elf model through all her lore moments in Wrath.

A build in August 2008 gave her an initial makeover (middle image above) and lore-focused players breathed a sigh of relief. Clearly she still needed some work, but at least she wasn't a night elf anymore.

A later build in September gave her the fantastic model we see today. The same build also updated the models for Varian Wrynn and Alexstraza.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Mike Morhaime apologizes for lack of diversity in Blizzard games

It's been a bad year or so for women in Blizzard games, for a lot of reasons. At BlizzCon, Warlords of Draenor was described as a "boy's trip" that Aggra wasn't invited to -- which fits with the Warlords marketing material that shows almost exclusively male characters (a few women appear in the trailer and one in the art, but they're unnamed). But Warlords isn't the only concern: the company's April Fool's joke came off as tone-deaf to many, Heroes of the Storm uses female characters as eye candy (which game director Dustin Browder argued didn't send a message), and, recently, Rob Pardo stated in a talk at MIT that diversity wasn't really a value for the company.

Though Warlords has come a long way since BlizzCon and both Browder and Pardo apologized, the fact that any of these things were an issue in the first place is off-putting -- at best -- to female gamers. Even long-term Blizzard fans have started to wonder why they're continuing to play in a gaming world that didn't accept women amongst the cast of heroes. It's from this place of disappointment that Starcunning wrote to Mike Morhaime, explaining why she's walked away from Blizzard's games. The surprise, however, is that Mike Morhaime responded stressing Blizzard's commitment to listening to the playerbase and building games that are fun for everyone.
Mike Morhaime
We are very conscious of the issues you raise and are discussing them more than ever, at every level of the company, in an effort to make sure our games and stories are as epic and inclusive as possible. Blizzard's employees form a broad and diverse group that cares deeply about the experiences we are creating for our players. And we know that actions speak louder than words, so we are challenging ourselves to draw from more diverse voices within and outside of the company and create more diverse heroes and content. We are also actively looking at our story development and other processes to ensure that our values are fully represented. We've always believed that positive, lasting change comes from examination, discussion, and iteration, and this applies as much to story as to gameplay. There is no reason why inclusivity should come at the expense of an amazing game experience.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Rob Pardo is leaving Blizzard

Rob Pardo, currently Blizzard's Chief Creative officer, announced on the forums that he's parting ways with Blizzard Entertainment. Pardo has been a fixture of the company for 17 years now, and though he isn't saying -- yet -- where he's headed next, he did offer a thank you to Blizzard's fans and community:

Rob Pardo
The Blizzard community is ultimately the reason why we come to work every day and pour our souls into every world and experience we create. Blizzard's players are the most passionate in the world and your commitment and dedication are truly awesome to behold. Creating entertainment for you has been an incredible opportunity, and I know that you will continue to grow and become even stronger as a community over the years to come. It has been so meaningful on a personal level to help create joy for all of you.


Thanks for the games, Rob -- we'll be keeping our eyes open for what you're working on next.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
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?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

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