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How will Warlords affect low-level characters?

It's something that's fairly easy to forget in all the talk of item squishes and character boosts, but Warlords of Draenor is going to make a lot of significant changes to how it feels to play a low level character and level up. That's why forum threads like this one interest me so much, because it's important to get that low level balance right. Yes, we have the boost, we have things like heirlooms, but in the end the game has to function at low levels for people without them. If it doesn't or can't, then people who try the game on trial or who decide to start an alt after using the boost are going to end up feeling lost, and that's a feeling that leads to people not playing at all.

So I decided to roll a low level character and level him without heirlooms on the beta, just to try it out for myself. And so far, I feel like they've made pretty decent strides in balancing things out - I'm at level 7 now after a half hour and I could probably get to ten after another 20 minutes. I am, however, concerned with what Kalyeatrish says about the level 8-9 relative weak spot in leveling. If players can't get stuff done at those levels, it'll be a hard slog to get to 10. And most people who try out WoW don't get past 10 - that's a barrier to entry you don't want to imbalance when you make game changes.

Hopefully it's something Blizzard keeps watching, and I hope everyone in the beta manages to find time to roll a character and test it out at low levels - it may seem like a waste of time, but it's actually incredibly important for the game long term.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: How many characters do you have?

Some players are focused on advancing and perfecting a single character. But others can't resist the lure of trying out other classes, races, and even factions for a change of pace. Some players could be certified professional alt-a-holics, with level 90s of each class. Today's question is simple: how many WoW characters do you have?

Of course, a true alt-a-holic knows the real answer goes further than that. How many characters do you actively play? How many characters do you have at max level? And just how do you make time for them all?

So, tell us readers -- in as much or as little detail as you'd like -- just how many characters do you have?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

What makes a compelling character?

Faction Leaders
I don't know how many of you frequent the official Story Forum. It can be an intimidating place. Beware, all ye who may mention the words "Lordaeron," "Sylvanas," or "Southshore;" and these days add "Sunreaver" and "Dalaran" to the list of ten-foot-pole topics. I still visit the Story Forum regularly and if you're a lore buff its often a good source for varied discussion and debate. The amount of detail folks are able to recite at a moment's notice never fails to impress me, and has more than once sent me scurrying to my personal Warcraft library to fact-check or reread something with an eye for a new interpretation.

Recently, Nethaera has paid a visit to the story forum, and she asks you all directly: What makes a compelling character? What makes a character strong or weak or interesting or boring? What makes a character your favorite? What are the things that draw you to a fictional personality, what are the things that repulse you? As for me personally, well, I'm pretty sure the WoW community is more than familiar with some of my favorites (shameless self promotion). The reasons why I find those characters compelling are varied, but mostly boil down to the situation of being between a rock and a hard place. I like stories where there aren't good answers, where every way you look, you lose. Maybe I'm a Debbie-downer, but if the path to victory is obvious, I am bored to tears. Don't give me that, I don't want to read it. Give me someone who has struggled and fought and who will never be sure if they did the right thing. Give me something, and someone, that will haunt me.

What makes a character compelling to you? What fuels your imagination? If you've ever wanted the chance to talk with a blue about your favorite WoW personalities and share your personal idea of what you'd like to see out of WoW's canon characters, now is your opportunity!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore

Breakfast Topic: Which Mists character grates on your last nerve?

Breakfast Topic What Mists character grates on your last nerve
Remember Corki? Really, now ... Who could forget the most annoying little twit ever to grace not one but four quests in Nagrand during The Burning Crusade? There really aren't many NPCs that can set my teeth on edge like Corki could, but Li Li Stormstout sure is making a run for the title. I know she's supposed to be loosely modeled on an actual little girl (the daughter of Blizzard Senior Writer Micky Neilson, also the author of the graphic novel about her), and yeah, I'm a mom with a little girl of about that age, but this little flibbertigibbet drives me batty -- which has done nothing to put me in any decent frame of mind to deal with Dook Ookem, Chief Kah Kah and their ilk, now that I'm running up my team Horde-side.

I know, I know, many of you love those little bundles of comic relief. Maybe I'm just "lazy and old," as Li Li might claim. I'm all pumped up and ready for war, though, and I hate being sidetracked by these knuckleheads. I guess I could try leapfrogging the storylines I don't care for, but it's part of my storyline. I don't wanna skip anything!

Commiserate with me. I know plenty of you are agonizing over more important matters, grinding your gears over Garrosh while I'm merely fretting about a little girl and bunch of monkeys. So tell me, what characters in Mists grate on your last nerve -- and what are you doing to mitigate the pain?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Of monks, mains, and the ability to change

I've changed my main exactly once in all of my years playing World of Warcraft. It wasn't out of need or necessity for a guild -- in fact, I was guildless at the point I decided to switch. And I wasn't really planning on switching so much as I really wanted to play a rogue. I wasn't tied down to a guild, and I figured I could simply have fun with the experience. Over the course of leveling that rogue, I met a group of friends in a raiding guild, and once I hit level 70, they encouraged me to apply.

Going from a healing class to a pure melee DPS class wasn't as much of a stretch as you'd think. In fact, I think I almost fared better than most because as a former healer, I keenly understood the importance of staying alive. More importantly, I understood that as a pure melee DPS player who was not a tank or a healer, my priority on most heal lists was fairly low. So it was up to me to keep myself alive and happily stab things.

I don't think, however, that I could ever make that switch again -- although honestly, I've thought about it.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: Do you have any characters that've slipped off your radar?

Character selection screen
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Sometimes we lose track of things.

As I was working through my third Mass Effect 2 campaign the other day, I was reminded of my first play through Mass Effect 1 in which I had painstakingly developed the perfect version of Commander Shepard. I lost that first save game file, unfortunately, and had to play through ME1 again in order to set myself up for a character import into the sequel. Alas, for some reason, I have never been able to recreate perfectly the masterpiece that was my first Shepard.

I also have a character on WoW that I no longer play, the loss of which distresses me greatly. I created this character, a blood elf gunter, shortly after The Burning Crusade came out. I loved my hunter's name scheme, as he and all his pets had the word "Blood-" prefixed to their names. At that time, I had just begun to play with a group of RL friends who attended the same college I did. The five of us would all bring our laptops to one guy's room and play late into the night. We leveled quickly, each filling one of the roles necessary for running 5-man content. It was a blast, but unfortunately it ended when they graduated.

Eventually I began to play with new people who were committed to the opposite faction. They were already active on a different realm, so I switched and left my beloved hunter behind. I've missed him ever since. Sometimes I think about transferring him to my new realm, but all my characters are Alliance and I don't know anyone on the Horde side. And how could I change him into a night elf or some other race when he is perfect just the way he is?

Do you have any characters that have slipped away? Do you ever think about what could have been if they hadn't?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Who are the most robust characters of the expansion?

We're many months out after the launch of Cataclysm, and the changes to the world have finally become the norm for me. Orgrimmar's refit is finally Orgrimmar for me. Stormwind's high-res streets do not surprise me as much as they used to. One of the greatest achievements that Cataclysm earned for itself was the robustness of its characters and pumping up the old vanilla world.

Character robustness is something that Blizzard has been honing for a long while. It's a tough deal sometimes, when you're creating a host of citizens and military personnel who exist at some podunk outpost handing out quests to player characters. The changes to the questing paradigms, as well as the new emphasis on the environments of Cataclysm telling the story just as much as the quest text, have placed a new burden on NPCs that might be in the spotlight for moments. There's an expectation that these characters, however minor, are required to have a modicum of depth.

The Southern Barrens takes this expectation to heart and delivers. Both the Horde and the Alliance have de facto leaders, infantrymen, conflicts, and battles that all make sense, given the environment and characters with interesting and robust personalities. General Hawthorne is either a sinner or a saint, depending on your questing experience, as are the hunters of Taurajo that have fled to the hills and are engaging in guerrilla warfare, with a questing hub that geographically defines their fight as well as characters who succinctly give players a glimpse into the conflict. Alliance players are sent straight through Horde territory, over a blockade and behind enemy lines to the Northwatch advance. The story is robust, and the characters are multifaceted.

Cataclysm has given bit players their time in the sun by fleshing out their stories, giving them tasks and information, and using the environment to make even the smallest NPC a robust member of the Alliance or the Horde. Which characters and places in Cataclysm do you think got the robust treatment, and which are your new favorite stories?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: How does your character react to quest storylines?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Imagine this scenario: You play on a non-RP PvE or PvP server. You come across a quest such as The Art of Persuasion that brings out some sort of reaction in you. A while later, you're leveling a different character and come across the same quest. Is your reaction the same, or does the toon you're playing affect your reaction? Do you react at all?

For me, my character colors my reactions to the quest. The Art of Persuasion made me cringe on my druid, hunter and paladin, but I absolutely reveled in it on my warlock and death knight. The Nesingwary quests, D.E.H.T.A. quests, and even whole zones can make me elated or squirm. Now that Cataclysm has hit, it has only gotten worse. I could barely stay in my seat questing in Hyjal, I was so involved in the quests. I made snarky comments in /say to NPCs, I refused some quests I found distasteful, and I reacted like I think my druid would have to the events around me. Even at the end, after the final quest, I felt like I have many times at the end of a large campaign in a traditional tabletop RPG: I felt accomplished. My character had done something.

Granted, I come from a long background of roleplaying. From tabletop games to LARPs, I've played one character or another for over a decade, so it's second nature to create and act out a new persona. I don't play on an RP realm because I generally don't agree with where many WoW RPers take things, but I do enjoy getting to know my character as more than just my avatar in Azeroth. No matter how hard I try to keep him quiet, my character will eventually get a few words in.

Does RP get into your gaming, no matter what? Can you withstand a character's call to live and not just be?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Who is your favorite Warcraft character?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

From the ever-(un)popular Garrosh Hellscream to everyone's favorite golden girl, Jaina Proudmoore, the World of Warcraft story is packed full of dynamic and interesting characters. As a player of the Warcraft series before it became an entire world (most notably Warcraft 3), I have a pretty strong bias toward Thrall as a favorite character. I'm fairly certain many players share this sentiment. Thrall is smart, kind and stuffed full of courage. He also isn't afraid to rock your universe if you're a threat to the Horde or the world as a whole. I love a character who can be both a warrior (yes, I know he is the shaman class) and an intelligent leader.

King Wrynn, leader of the Alliance, has similar qualities when it comes down to the core, though most of the time only his wrathful nature shows through, and he isn't as able to think rationally to make decisions that could lead toward peace and the betterment of his people. He does have pretty compelling history to form his opinions, though.

Honestly, as I read The Shattering novel and learn more of his lore and story, Garrosh is working his way up my favorite character list. Although he is mostly a brash hothead, preferring to cut through and beat down any problem that arises, he is still somehow able to galvanize his people and lead a very successful campain in Northrend. On top of that, Thrall (the intelligent leader) thought it best to place him as acting Warchief of the Horde. There must be something to this orc.

Do you prefer those like the logical, caring Jaina or the impulsive Wrynn/Hellscreem types? Maybe you still have a soft spot for the boy who eventually became the Lich King. Who is your favorite Warcraft character?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Lore, Guest Posts

Status update on current patch 4.0.1 issues

Vrakthris (Blizzard customer service representative) posted a list of major issues people are coming across in patch 4.0.1, along with updates and expected timetables on when some of them will be resolved. If you're having issues with any of the following topics, read on to find out what is currently being done about the situation.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Account Security

Breakfast Topic: Lil Timmy, destroyer of worlds

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to

Every few hours or so, an NPC named Lil Timmy magically appears on the streets of Stormwind. He walks through town, musing to himself about the meaning of the word "allergic," offering one lucky person the chance to buy an adorable white kitten. He's a sweet little boy, right?

Wrong! Lil Timmy has fooled all of you. Think about it ... A 9-year-old with an endless supply of cats who wanders around at all hours of the night? There's something sinister going on here. It's obvious that this kid is all part of some nefarious plot. If you were to part the fur and look closely at that kitten's belly, I bet you'd find a timer, ticking down the days until detonation. It all makes perfect sense if you think about it. Lil Timmy is the herald of Deathwing, hiding in plain sight in the form of an unkillable child, selling you the very exploding kittens that will help bring on the coming Cataclysm. At least that's what I like to think ...

The World of Warcraft is full of characters. I'm not talking about those major lore characters we've watched develop over the years. I'm referring instead to the one-dimensional extras that help make Azeroth feel more alive. I've found that some of these unimportant NPCs have left even more of an impact on me than the Tirions and Thralls of the world. Sure, Arthas may have a compelling story, but I just can't relate to him as much as the "work is da poop" guys out in Netherwing Ledge. (Hang in there, my disobedient red brothers.)

So what about you, Breakfast Topiceers? Do you have any favorite bit characters? If so, have you ever given any of them your own background stories and personalities?

Have you ever wanted to write for Your chance may be right around the corner. Watch for our next call for submissions for articles via Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to The next byline you see here may be yours!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Your character's quest

I like quests. I like reading quests. Sure, every now and again it's a straightforward "Please go kill x animals for y body parts and I will give you z gold," but sometimes the stories involved with the quests or the quest NPCs themselves are tremendously entertaining. Take Ragged John, for example -- while the little weirdo no longer gets to tell his epic tale, listening to his story while working on the Onyxia chain was a ... rare treat. Or one of my personal favorites, Jenal over in Darnassus. There's not much to Jenal, but the tiny bit of character interaction when you speak with him always left me wondering what exactly Jenal's full story was. As for the Horde, I always loved Valormok out in Azshara and the story of the little band of Horde that had been sent out there, especially Jediga and her little, uh, side business of stealing artifacts for people. I have to admit while I'm looking forward to seeing the "new" Azshara come Cataclysm, there's part of me that is going to miss the little wayward band.

One of the other things I like are the realm forums. Sure, there's an unending supply of depressing drama and whining. But sometimes you end up with a little chunk of gold in the middle of it all, and those gold moments make it worth trawling -- well, to me, anyway. The gold for the day today is from Nozz over on US Sisters of Elune, who brought up an old topic from way back that ties my love for quests together nicely with my love for playing the game in general: If your character were a quest giver, what would his/her quest be? The thread already has some interesting answers, but I'd love to see some answers from you guys. Would it be a straightforward "Kill 20 zhevras and pray they have hooves?" A simple request to listen to a story? A long chain sending players all over the world? Or a simple "I'm hungry; go get me some bread"? What would you give as a reward, if anything? Have at it, readers!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Blizzard launches Facebook Armory app

Earlier this evening we received a tip (thanks, Taylor) that Blizzard has launched a WoW Armory Facebook application. It promises to publish data about your WoW characters to all your Facebook buddies in real time. I figured I'd give it a spin, not so much because I want to spam my friends with it as because I'm curious what they've come up with.

You can see the results in the gallery below. Here are my brief impressions:

  • It's a bit scary that it asks you to log in with your account, but if you look at the URL of the popup window it is in fact from, one of the legitimate domains. Still, I'm not sure it's good training for users for Blizzard to ask us to log in within random popups.
  • The login form does not ask for your authenticator.
  • It doesn't tell you this in the brief description, but you choose up to five characters for the app to report to your followers. It doesn't just indiscriminately report the progress of your latest bank alt.
  • By default, it publishes updates on your characters to your Facebook feed, but that box is easily unchecked (fortunately).
  • It also by default posts to your feed that you've installed the app, which is something I can't forgive a Facebook (or Twitter) developer for. If I really want to tell all my friends I'm using your app, I'll tell them. Don't do it for me. At least this too is an option that can be unchecked.
After choosing your characters and what you want to show, you may be worried that it's not working, but just give it a minute - it doesn't populate immediately. Mine started showing data in about ten minutes.

Overall, assuming they manage to make it work, if you want your Facebook friends to know about your WoW characters, this is the app for you. If not, why are you still reading this post? Anyway, I'm glad to see Blizzard following through on some of the promise the Armory has always showed, even if I don't approve of all their methods. Innovation is always welcome.

Filed under: Blizzard

New official Jaina and Sylvanas character bios

Blizzard continues to leak out the official information about Icecrown (the raid, as you know, coming in patch 3.3), this time updating their Under Development site with official bios for Jaina Proudmoore and Sylvanas Windrunner, two ladies (one living, one not-so-much) that will likely have a large role in the fight against Arthas Menethil, better known as The Lich King.

Sylvanas, you'll remember, featured in the Lament of the Highborne video early on in BC, where the story of her death and resurrection at Arthas' hands made it clear she's got unfinished business with the onetime-paladin turned Lord of the Scourge. And Jaina... well, Jaina's had a front row seat to Arthas' undoing -- they were childhood friends who looked like they were headed towards being more than friends, until Arthas found a big bad sword that turned him into a big baddie. It's going to be awesome seeing all of these storylines start meeting up together in The Frozen Halls and the raid beyond -- we can't wait.

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Quests, Raiding, Lore, NPCs, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Deathwing and Arthas, and how different they'll be

Zarhym has shared a little insight about how much we'll see of the big bad Deathwing in the Cataclysm expansion. He says, rightly so, that Deathwing is a very different character from Arthas, and that while Arthas had no problem stepping in and trying to corrupt us (as he himself was corrupted) from level 71, Deathwing will be a little tougher game to play -- in his regular dragon form, he'd pretty much turn us to cinders rather than try playing mind games. When your opening gambit is to blow up the entire world, just how much subtlety do you really have?

So as Zarhym says, he'll certainly have a presence both as we level and at the farthest endgame content (his presence will at least be felt everywhere, even if he's not standing right in front of you). Medievaldragon suggests we'll see him as Daval Prestor some more, but Deathwing seems almost completely lost to rage -- my guess is that we'll see more of his servants in the Black Dragonflight poking around in human form rather than the main man himself (plus, by now you'd think anyone with the last name "Prestor" would send red flags flying in the Alliance anyway). At any rate, it's sure to be a much different experience than what we've seen of Arthas so far -- and I can't wait.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgen to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Lore, Leveling, NPCs, Cataclysm

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