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WoW Archivist: Talents have come full circle

Circle of Healing
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?

The Warlords of Draenor patch 6.0 notes have revealed the latest changes to WoW's ever-evolving talent system. Talents have remained a core system in WoW since its earliest days, the primary method that allows players to make their characters distinct.

In the beta for WoW and throughout vanilla, talent trees were a bit of a mess, as Archivist covered. Today, we'll examine how those early trees came to be expanded, refined, and then scrapped for a very different system. We'll also look at how Warlords is bringing back the earliest version of talent trees in a brand new way.

The golden age of hybrids

Talent possibilities exploded during The Burning Crusade. Ten more levels granted players ten more points to assign. Players could now combine abilities in ways that vanilla's trees had never allowed, opening up exciting new gameplay paths.

Players didn't choose a specialization like they do today. Instead, they assigned points to three different "trees." Each tree represented a spec, but each also had talents that helped the other two specs as well. So players could pick and choose just how far down they wanted to go in a given tree, and thus how much to commit their character to one spec. "Hybrid" builds were not ideal from a min/max perspective, but they were popular. And TBC was the golden age of such builds.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Around Azeroth: Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Submitter Auntie Ed of Off the Air on Madoran (US-H) isn't afraid of the "swirly skull of doom" that haunts the entrance to heroic dungeons. But when his (her? its?) staff caught the angle just right, giving the skull one floating, off-center eye, he felt a bit of a chill. Now if only there was a warlock around to summon an Eye of Kilrogg, then we could finally give Heroic Skull back his sight! Ha ha, just kidding. No one actually remembers that Eye of Kilrogg exists.

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

The Queue: Torvosaurus, the offical dinosaur of Warlords of Draenor

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

It's been a hideous month for me so far. So much bad crap happened, you don't know. Anyway, to take my mind off of all of that, I tanked heroic Siege of Orgrimmar last night up to Malkorok, and then sat down to find a perfect subject for today's Queue header. Something that would scream "Rossi wrote today's Queue". Something perfect. And I found it in Torvosaurus.

Why is Torvosaurus the perfect dinosaur to be in today's Queue? Why did I so boldly declare Torvosaurus to be the official dinosaur of Warlords of Draenor? Because, my friends, the name Torvosaurus means 'Savage Lizard' and that's all we need. Sure, he was an impressive ten meter long carnivore, a megalosaurid, among the largest predatory dinosaurs ever found in Europe, and that's all great. But really, he had me at savage lizard. I demand that Torvosaurus get brought into World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor and I demand that it happen as soon as possible, because a savage expansion without this savage lizard simply isn't savage enough.

I know that's not a particularly savage picture of Torvosaurus, above. Hey, it's still a ten meter long carnivore with teeth like steak knives. Even if it is snuggling with its babies.

Benjamin Seeburger asks:

What do you think is the chance Blizzard will release a fourth spec (like for druids) for every class in the game (eventually)? If you could have a fourth spec for your class, what would it be and why?

I'd pick a hunter melee spec, that had all of my basic ranged attacks replaced by melee attacks that do roughly the same damage with the same focus usage (except being melee), but with an upped percentage to my armor.

What about you?

I think the chances are very, very slim. Druids got the fourth spec because, essentially, they'd always had it - feral was a confusing hodgepodge talent tree before Cataclysm, and it just made sense in Mists to break it apart into Feral and Guardian. So no, I don't expect it to happen.

However, I do love speculating. So if warriors got a fourth spec and I was the one in charge of it, I would basically break Fury up into two specs, one a fast spec that uses two 1h weapons and another being a spec using two 2h weapons. They would get different mechanics, the 1h spec (I'd call them Berserkers) being all about weapon speed and fast, rapid attacks of attrition while the 2h spec (Destroyers) would be about crushing through enemy defenses and bringing raw power to bear.

Either that, or I'd finally make that warrior healing spec where you yell at people until they stop being dead.

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: What have you never done in WoW?

I've never played as ranged DPS. I've tanked, I've healed (briefly, but I did it for about half of The Burning Crusade before they nerfed downranking and I decided my shaman was done) and I've been melee DPS, but I've never played as ranged beyond some leveling toons. It's just not something that's appealed to me. Even when I played a shaman, I rarely even specced elemental and I never raided or ran a dungeon on it. It's just not something I've ever wanted to do.

So it occurs to me that I can't be alone in this, right? How about you? Have you just always been tanking adverse? Do you have PvP? Have you never stepped foot in a raid? What haven't you done?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

What is data mining and why is everyone talking about it?

The recent release of the alpha client for Warlords of Draenor means that there's a lot of talk about data mining that's going around the community. But if you aren't up on your tech jargon, this might not mean much to you -- and Googling the term will send you to a Wikipedia page that tells you data mining aims "to extract information from a data set and transform it into an understandable structure for further use." Even if you are up on your tech jargon, you might not grasp what that means, especially in the context of World of Warcraft.

So let's start with a straightforward definition: data mining is the process of digging through WoW's data files and looking for information like maps, graphics, models, or sounds. It's not hacking or exploiting the game, just looking at the game files -- often, but not always, files that are publicly available -- to see what's there. These files can be from the current game client or come from a PTR or beta build, any of which could have new content that players can't access in the game world. Similar to looking up filming photos from a favorite TV show or movie, data mining gives you a sneak peek at game content that hasn't been publicly released, which can range from hints at the next patch to hints to the next expansion. Hungry for information, plenty of players turn to data mining for answers -- but because Blizzard can change, remove, or expand on unreleased content without any warning, anything data mined needs to be taken with a pretty big grain of salt.

So should you be paying attention to data mined info? In the end, the choice is up to you -- but we'll give you some background on just what WoW data mining might tell you.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

The Queue: Squish, models, warlocks, and datamining


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky (@adamholisky) will be your host today.

Let's hop into the Queue talking about our favorite subject: the item squish.

Pvpscrub asked:

Come WoD's stat squish, how close are our weapons going to be, to be more specific is it worth getting 550 iLvl weapons for a lesser played alt or just stick with 522? If they're going to be within 1 level of each other come WOD then maybe its better to just pass.

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Filed under: The Queue

Around Azeroth: Orange is the new Stylish Black Shirt

"According to the patch notes from April 1, 'For safety, all hunters must now wear bright orange vests at all times,'" writes submitter Gimlette. "Absolutely. Spectacular Death on Llane (US-A) decided we'd better follow the patch notes. We started forming up for Tortos and we made sure our hunters had their safety vests."

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: What is WoW missing?


I often find myself talking about what WoW has or will have -- that's the nature of the news cycle here. But what I don't discuss enough is what WoW is just missing entirely. There are features of the game that are just not present at all, and that potentially should be present.

One of the big things I'm thinking of is an honest to god in-game browser, one that you can hit up sites like Wowhead and WoW Insider on without leaving the game. I'm pretty surprised Blizzard hasn't done this yet (although it'd create a security nightmare, so I can see why they might be hesitant). This would stop people from having to tab out -- there's just a ton of uses for this kind of feature. And in Blizzard's business, the more time you spend in the game, the better.

Another thing that WoW doesn't have at all is an option to post to social media from within the game itself. Other major MMOs have this, and it seems that WoW might never see it. But it'd be smart -- Blizzard relies on social media more and more to connect with their fans. Maybe a surprise 6.0 feature will be the inclusion of a Warcraft Twitter client? It can be called ThrallTweet (you're welcome, Blizzard, that one is on me).

What do you think WoW is missing? What has taken off and left WoW in the dust with? What does Blizzard need to implement? Your thoughts, dear readers, are always keenly appreciated.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

WoW Moviewatch: Hump Day

It's not often you see a commercial parody in a WoW machinima--well, maybe parody isn't the right word. This Brad Bergman video isn't so much making fun of the commercial as it is recasting it using WoW as footage, instead of the original.

The manipulations around the characters mouths and the clever use of idle animations are what really sell this clip. Unusual as the genre may be, it's worth a shot. Give it a watch if you get a kick out of WoW-ified film audio, and I hope it brings a smile to your face, as it did mine!
Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at moviewatch@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Humor, WoW Moviewatch

Know Your Lore: Warriors of Azeroth and beyond, Part 2

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Second verse, same as the first - we're talking warriors of lore and story in the Warcraft universe. What does it take to get on either of these lists?
  1. Don't obviously be a member of another class. I skirted the edge of this one for last week's list, but not this week - these are the warriors. No Bolvars, no Turalyons, no Rexxars or the like. If you cast spells or skulk in the shadows or are a death knight, you're not on this list. Sorry, Highlord Alexandros Mograine, but you were a paladin, and you don't count. Maiev Shadowsong definitely uses stealth, she's out.
  2. You have to be somehow more iconic than the badasses on last week's list. That means, in my opinion, you're more important in terms of lore than Muradin Bronzebeard, Baine Bloodhoof, and Broxigar the Red. That's not an easy bar to jump over.
  3. Those are my criteria. I just think lists with less than three points on them look weird.
Let's get started on the list.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Around Azeroth: Greyscale

It's pretty fitting that a discipline priest can find balance in the light and the dark, isn't it? Submitter Sarieen of Ronae Before on Argent Dawn (EU-H) will commit to neither the shadow nor the holy paths, but instead navigates the spaces in between. Or maybe she's just super into shielding and smiting things. Someone's got to be the healer, right?

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: Why I'm not reading the spoilers


I'm going to be doing something different this time around in the beta -- I'm not going to be reading all the leaks and spoilers. Over the past decade I've had all of Warcraft spoiled for me, there's never been a surprise that I didn't know about well in advance. And really that means there's never been a surprise at all.

That's disappointing. I knew for months what happened at the end of Wrath, we heard long ago who the "big bad" of MoP was going to be. In my line of work finding out these things is par for the course. A lot of time we don't publish anything because they're just rumors; but obviously some of them become true.

This time though? I'm not going to pay attention to them. Already I'm making it a point not to read quest text or conversation strings. I'm not going to watch videos of cinematics, and I'm not going to participate in lore discussions when leaks or spoilers are involved. In fact, I'm going to do everything I possibly can from editing those posts. There's other editors around that can do that. /cough Alex and Anne

I know some of you are going to want to read them. Heck I can see it in the hits every time we post a spoiler (I'm looking at you new leader of the Horde post, which was one of AOL's most viewed posts the day it happened). We'll still do that stuff. But you know what? I'm just going to close my eyes and pretend they don't exist. As long as Alex and Anne don't kill me.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

WoW Moviewatch: Back to Cata

With the long wait for new game content, maybe it's time to go back in time with Back to Cata by Slightly Impressive. After all, there's Cataclysm raids to be raided and achievements to be gotten -- not to mention that whole revamped leveling experience to enjoy. And maybe the occasional fiery death, but only occasional. (Probably.)

If this isn't going back quite far enough for you, you can also go Back to Vanilla, Back to BC, Back to Wrath, and Back to Wrath 2. Happy adventuring, time travelers!
Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at moviewatch@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: WoW Moviewatch, Cataclysm

Around Azeroth: Next season on Game of Thrones!

Let me tell you a story, adventurer. This is the tale of an age long past, when the pandaren were forced to worship the larger, levitating pandaren. Someone was carrying around a red ball. There was also the ghost of a dead saurok, and a statue of a dragon, I guess. And ... all the larger pandaren were doing the YMCA dance? None of this makes any sense! Assistant Lorewalker Martin! This story is incredibly long and confusing. When will you have the next tale prepared? Six years, you say? Adventurer, do you still have that blackjack you used on those Lazy Peons so many years ago? I have a new quest for you. (Thanks to Qaeto of Trollbane [US-A] for the screenshot!)

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

The Queue: The Iron Horde Skunk Works

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

The Warlords of Draenor alpha has been datamined and we're seeing things like new models, and some of those have been item models. And frankly, these models have me curious about how the Iron Horde weapon development process works. So far, there seems to be three or four camps - there's the recycle broken weapons (like you can see above and with this sword, which frankly I don't believe for a second would actually work twice), the stick a jawbone on it model, multiple varieties of trees. There are rocks on sticks, there's this thing which I think is supposed to be an enormous horn or tooth tied to a stick, and so far none of it requires Garrosh Hellscream to step through a dimensional portal to give you the secrets of this miraculous technology.

I flash to two orcs bent over a blueprint, brows furrowed in concentration. "What if... we tied a fang... to a rock... and then made it an axe?"

"You're a genius, Gruulthak. This is the pinnacle of Iron Horde weapons technology!"

LarGand asks:

Any news on whether or not we are going to see a real update on the Draenei female model, or was that whole thing supposed to be funny? I got the joke on the first, but they had made a statement that there would be an update available to see and they have not really done so.


Yes, they are working on an update for the draenei female model.

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

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