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Buff(ing) for BlizzCon: Well fed


Buff(ing) for BlizzCon is a bi-weekly fitness series written by ShrinkGeek authors Rafe Brox and Michael McGreevy. Join the WoW.com team in getting in shape for the ultimate WoW geek event: BlizzCon 2010.

People will ingest a lot of weird things in the name of health, strength, recovery, or "hey, I dare ya!" All right, sure, I'm extrapolating to "people" from "me," but have you looked at the ingredient list for some of the buffing consumables we make our characters choke down? Look, buddy, I don't care what kind of stat boost it gives, I'm not eating any damn Kaldorei Spider Kabobs (and I've eaten tempura sushi dipped in molten chocolate. See "I dare ya," above, with the "I will if you will" proviso). But, really, would our toons get much benefit from eating this stuff, and, if so, would it square with what the buff they receive is?

What about characters who role-play having a dietary restriction, whether or not that mirrors their behavior in real life? Could a vegetarian find some stat-boosting snacks? What about folks who hew to something like the raw-food credo - are any of the recipes obviously something that won't have to be concocted over high heat? Primalists and Paleo diet aficionados would be in their element, and might even make up the majority of Azeroth's population.

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Filed under: BlizzCon, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: 3 fresh ideas for world PvP events

What was the best world PvP event you've ever enjoyed? Was it a cross-faction event? Did players from other realms join in? Was there an element of surprise for the other faction? Was it, perhaps, a more peaceful type of party? And now, what if you were in charge of designing and organizing a world PvP event ... what would it be like?

WoW.com is accepting article submissions describing three fresh ideas for organized world PvP events. Submissions should be between 750 and 1,000 words. We will not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your real name and email. Artwork is not mandatory, but any you choose to include must be your own work or from creative commons.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, PvP, Guest Posts

The magical alchemy of mouseovers plus a Razer Naga

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

Healers have one of the more ambiguous roles in the World of Warcraft. DPS players mostly thrive by topping the damage meters, using the most optimal rotations, glyphs, etc. Tanks enjoy a form of tunnel vision where their task is ever so straightforward and clear. A healer, however, must keep watch on a whole group of individuals, react to their choices and keep the game itself from defeating them.

The worst kind of healer will select one, two or possibly three go-to spells to spam often and early. This player will use healing meters as a measure of success and frequently use them to lay the blame on others when things don't work out. The best kind of healer uses a wide array of abilities at exactly the time required. He conserves mana, keeps everyone alive and even contributes to the raid's overall DPS when possible. The best kind of healer isn't simply the reason you lived; rather, they're the reason things went smoothly.

Many healers rely on mods as they strive for this goal. Healbot, for example, creates a special frame for click-casting. It assigns certain spells to certain mouse buttons by default, making healing a breeze. The chief limitation of Healbot, however, is the link to physical buttons on a mouse and the lack of native support for more than five of them. Without keyboard mods, a Healbot healer is restricted to no more than five heals that are ready at a moment's notice. This player will also need a fair bit of practice to get beyond the defaults of "left click, little heal; right click, big heal." Memory plays a role, as Healbot does little to notify you visually of which keys do which action, especially once you've sized the bars down to the point that you can view the entire raid.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, Guest Posts

15 tips for brand new healers

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

So you're ready to venture into the thankless realm of healing? It's not for the faint of heart. You will be begged to heal an instance you hate and blamed for deaths that aren't your fault, only to lose gear upgrades to DPS -- all in the same run! On the other hand, healing can be a nice diversion from faceroll macro-mashing, and it's definitely nice to have instant dungeon queues.

Whether you're changing specs at level 80 to help your guild progression, stepping into The Deadmines as a level 18 healer or twinking out a battleground medic -- here are some helpful hints as you prepare to make those health bars greener.

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Alt-zheimer's

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

My pally will always stay near and dear to my heart. He's my beloved main, and no other class is ever going to take that coveted position from him. Recently, however, I've found myself leveling a few alts just for the fun of it. I always used to be a one-character kind of guy, so the experience has been new and exciting for me. During these excursions into altoholism, I've learned that I find a death knight's blood DPS -- may it rest in peace -- to be extremely fun to play. I've also learned that healing isn't quite the frightening endeavor I once thought it would be.

However, there are a few other things I've learned during this time, which I'd like to share with you now.

  1. Priests are not tanks, and running head on into the first pack of mobs in a dungeon will likely make one die.
  2. Death knights cannot leap from ridiculous heights with impunity because they do not have Divine Shield.
  3. Paladins cannot Death Grip loose mobs.
  4. It's dangerous to bind Divine Intervention to the same key as Power Word: Fortitude.
  5. Responding to a trade chat ad for Vault of Archavon from a level 45 character will get you ignored rather quickly.

I could go on, but I'll spare you all of my stories of momentary in-game fugue. The point being, bouncing between alts can make it very easy to forget exactly what you're doing at any given time. Of course, the more alts you're leveling at once, the harder it becomes to keep track of each little difference.

For many of us, World of Warcraft is full of moments like these. People jump off of cliffs because they fail to remember that their trusty epic land mount can't fly. Keybind discrepancies lead to interesting mistakes with unintentionally hilarious results. The myriad of abilities offered by the 10 classes can make even the sharpest player forget that some of them exist.

As you may know, the internet is partially fueled on the most renewable resource in existence: embarrassment. So, let's do our part in keeping it powered for one more day. We want to hear your stories of alt-induced failures. While you're at it, let us know if you've got any clever tricks up your sleeve to help the rest of us avoid these symptoms of Alt-zheimer's disease.

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: A few of your favorite things

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

Every once in a while, Blizzard truly raises the bar in designing a raid. My personal favorite is Ulduar from patch 3.1. The boss encounters required strategy, while still remaining unique, and the graphics in the zone are some of the coolest things in the game. However, one of the only things that a character can permanently keep from a raid is the loot.The legendary mace Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings and the Starshard Edge off Algalon the Observer are by far some of the coolest item graphics I've seen in this expansion.

Even in Icecrown Citadel, few items can measure up to the epicness of these stellar designs. After all, one can only see so many bone-spiked maces before they begin to get old. While a few items like Bryntroll the Bone Arbiter are pretty exciting and unique, Blizzard didn't even create new item models for the climactic boss in the Lich King: only two of the 28 weapons (excluding heroic versions) that the final boss drops are unique, and one of those is repeated between 10- and 25-man. In my opinion, Blizzard could have taken a few more days to design some really exciting and unique weapon designs before releasing the Lich King. While I'm no hardcore raider, I would really love to sit in Dalaran exhibiting a one-of-a-kind weapon from the hardest boss in the expansion, just as the Ulduar raiders could back in 3.1.

What do you think? Is there an item that sets the bar in graphic design? Do you think Blizzard should spend more time on item graphics so there aren't as many repeats for end-game encounters, or does a simple recoloring make the item cool enough for you?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!


Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

10 ways to build a healing mentality

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

The below could probably be applied to most things, though it's targeted to healing and PvE. My advice is general, because if you have the attitudes and habits of a great player, you'll find the specifics. Some might claim my advice is also targeted at newer healers; while this is true in a sense, having trouble with the issues below is common even amongst veterans.

1. No, you didn't have lag -- accept responsibility. Lag is to healing as dogs are to homework. Let's take a moment to be honest with ourselves: Most of your healing errors occurred because you messed up. Step up and admit to your group that you mistimed, misjudged, zoned, went AFK, etc. People appreciate others who take responsibility. "I'm sorry about that, everyone, it won't happen again," will earn you respect much more than, "I had lag -- don't look at me!" How will you progress as a healer if all your healing mistakes occur at the same time as "OMG LAG"?

2. Be critically positive.
When I used to raid lead, I tried to foster an environment of taking responsibility. After one wipe, the other healer whispered me to list every mistake she made. Five minutes later, I got her calmed down and we won. Hooray, loot for ... oh no! Five more minutes ... Next boss ... We wiped ... Elune, please not again! Ten more minutes of said healer apologizing for every mistake. I considered what I could say to restore her confidence and make her more positively critical. Ahem: "Get over yourself. You will make mistakes."

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Gotta go!

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

Sometimes real life gets in the way of playing WoW. I understand that it's healthy to have a life outside of WoW and I agree, but when you sit down to raid or run dailies, "real life" can have different plans for you. Either you have been in a group where some one just up and leaves or says "g2g" before exiting group. Maybe you have been that person.

I've been healing when the tank who just pulled the first hall up to Sorrowgrave in heroic Utgarde Keep then /yell(ed), "On call -- sorry, I have to go." Needless to say, I dropped aggro and ran, then laughed with the hunter as the 'lock ran back, all while rezzing the rogue. I understand people have to go and wasn't that mad, but the 'lock and rogue were upset. You could tell, because their chat looked like @#$! and @#&.

I don't read wingdings, but it got me thinking. I needed a macro to hit when I have to leave before I can finish a global cooldown. I can only think of three times in the last year I couldn't finish a pull before logging unexpectedly, but I prepared two macros to entertain those who I unfortunately leave in a bind. Combined, they read as:

/s By the time you read this I have already disconnected. I have some emergency I have to attend to and could only afford four key strokes. It's probably has to do with my children, pets, and or fire. At the very least it could be the rapture and I am sorry you are still around to read this. Elune be with you or other race appropriate farewell.

Do you have a dropping-group macro? Have you had to leave group unexpectedly? Why?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: When your gaming gets emotionally charged

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

It was going to be a regular Tuesday night for me: Get home from work, have dinner, lounge around on the couch with my hubby before bed. I didn't even really want to log into WoW that night, but I logged in just out of habit. Once there I thought, "Ah, I'll just queue a random and get my two frosts; hopefully it's a quick run." And then, almost half-heartedly, just because I had to find something to do during the 20-minute DPS wait, I hopped on a flight path to my favorite fishing ground, the lake next to Camp Winterhoof.

Exactly four casts later, I'm whooping at the top of my lungs like I had just won a million dollars. I hadn't just won a million dollars -- I just happened to fish up the Dark Herring, an achievement that had been evading me for the better part of a year. I look over at my spouse, eager to share the fantastic news. I can't blame him, the poor guy is looking at me like I just lost my mind. ... At which point I more or less simmered down, got a grip and proceeded to my dungeon. I was still ecstatic, mind you. Days later, I was still ecstatic. I would be sitting on the couch with my hubby, calmly watching TV, and all of a sudden I'd burst out giggling, "Can you believe I caught that fish? I can't believe I caught that fish! Heehee."

If that's not having an emotional stake in this game, I don't know what is.

Another example: I had only been playing WoW for a few weeks, after my spouse finally got me to try out the game. I was only level 20 or so, questing in Ashenvale, when I got a random group invite -- my first ever. I figure, "Why not? He wants help on the same quest I'm doing; it can only go faster." Being new to the game, I hadn't quite grasped the concept of rez sickness ... Two minutes and five mobs later, my new-found friend and I were both dead. Two seconds after that, my new-found friend dropped group without saying anything (probably for the best, given the choice words he could have had for me if he'd wanted). I was devastated. I felt like I had let this person down. I started bawling -- tears, sobs, the whole bit. I turned to my hubby for comfort and he immediately burst out laughing. (OK, right now I'm laughing, too, but at the time it was very distressing.)

My point is, I often find myself emotionally invested in this game. And while my husband can laugh and raise eyebrows and roll his eyes, he's felt it too; he rerolled on a PvE server two weeks after Wrath of the Lich King came out because leveling in a PvP environment was stressing him out too much.

How about it, fellow gamers? When has this game had you jumping for joy, crying in sadness, seething with anger or wringing your hands in desperation?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: I believe I can fly

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

Many things are eagerly anticipated with the release of Cataclysm: guild achievements, level 85, Deathwing. Little has been discussed about flying mounts in all of Azeroth. It is just a snippet in the trailer, but I do remember its getting a huge cheer. Gone will be the days of flying into Southshore and then riding (I mean, really -- once we can fly, who is going to ride?) north to battle the Abominable Greench. You'll fly -- and yes, I know, Alliance won't be using Southshore, but that's a different topic. We will be flying up and out of Stormwind, heading south into Searing Gorge to Blackrock Mountain and a new instance with Nefarian, and we will be using our own mounts. Can't get that one piece of ore on the side of a hill? Fly up and get it. Need to help a low-level guild member outside Jintha'Alor? Fly there from Aerie Peak or Revantusk Village. You'll be able to scout where those nasty Devilsaurs are in Un'Goro without getting stomped on (not that it matters to a level 85).

So once you can fly anywhere in Azeroth, where are you going first? If you are Alliance, I would wager 85% of you are going to the airport above Ironforge. There is a gryphon master at the north end of that area. He always waves when you fly over on your way to Menethil. I'm thinking that will become an active flight point, but I suspect most of you will fly up there on your own, simply because now you can. A few of you will probably go to the fishing hut above Stormwind.

Me? That's not the first place I'm going. I have long wanted to get to one particular spot on the map. I've tried getting there a few times, particularly during the Lunar Festival because there's an elder near this spot. The gryphon flies over it and I so desperately want to get off, right there. No, I'm not telling.

Where are you going to go first? Anyplace in particular, or do you think you will just hop on your flying mount and savor the wind in your face as you fly anywhere?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

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 WoW.com.

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 WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Take your tanking to the next level

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

Whether you are a first-time tank or a grizzled hardcore raid veteran, a death knight, druid, paladin or warrior, you will find some useful nuggets in these top 10 tank tips.

10. Pay attention to what abilities trigger the global cooldown (and pay more attention to those that do not). For example, warriors can generate threat on a large group by charging a mob in the back and using Thunder Clap on the mobs in the front as you pass through them. This is possible because Charge does not trigger the global cooldown. Likewise, abilities like Concussion Blow and Rune Strike can be macroed into other abilities.

9. Use a unit frames addon. An addon like Grid, which is generally regarded as specific to healing can be invaluable to a tank because of the sheer amount of information that can be concisely displayed. Grab a few additional Grid modules like GridStatusThreat and GridStatusRaidDebuffs and, at a glance, you can see your threat situation, major debuffs, etc. as well as having a handy mouseover frame for the next tip.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: My paladin turned out to be a ninja

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

Back around the time faction changes came out, my old guild decided en masse to change over to the Horde. I logged on one morning after a week's vacation, saw nobody in the guild, and when I popped into Vent, I found out where everyone had gone. I transferred over my main, we wrecked ToC and then later ICC and For the Horde, and all was good. A few weeks ago, I realized I was bored and wanted to transfer over my level 80 draenei pally for another alt to play and to farm frost badges with. My choices were obviously limited to blood elf. I didn't particularly like either character model or their animations, and after 15 minutes of staring at the character recustomization screen, I flipped a coin and it came down to blood elf female.

I absolutely hated it at first. The animations were silly looking, and she ran funny. I was broke after that, so I decided to grin and bear it. A few days passed, and I tanked my way from one end of the dungeon finder to the other. It was in a heroic Drak'tharon Keep, after I had pulled the entirety of the room before Trollgore and was facing down 13 or 14 Scourge trying desperately to kill my overgeared self, that I watched my paladin dodge, parry and block at a rapid pace. She wasn't just mitigating damage; it honestly looked like she was dancing. I was reminded of gun-fu scenes like from The Matrix where characters duck, dodge and dash their way around dangers. My paladin was a ninja.

From then on, I loved my blood elf female pally and all her silly animations (except for the casting ones ... still not too keen on them). What similar situations have you been in, when something you thought would be awful turned out to be absolutely amazing?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Keep Azeroth clean

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

Is it just me, or is the air a bit dirtier than it used to be? Turbo-Charged Flying Machines, Mekgineer's Choppers, the new Refer-A-Friend X-53 Touring Rocket and not to mention all of the vehicles in Ulduar and Wintergrasp. Soon goblins will be driving their very own cars! Yes, it seems the once fresh, clean atmosphere of Azeroth is destined to become more polluted than trade chat.

At first I thought the whole Ice Stone melting incident was a farce .. just a part of our natural, cyclical climate change. But what if all of this engineering exhaust is causing irreparable damage? Perhaps it's the pollution itself that causes "Cataclysm" and not the return of Deathwing, like we've been told. It seems we are amidst the industrial revolution of Azeroth, and the progression of technology cannot be stifled any longer. As an engineer myself, I have to wonder about the effects I have personally had on WoW's environment -- crafting machines, bombs and even extracting motes and eternals on a daily basis. For shame.

Have you contributed to polluting Azeroth? If so what can we do to improve the air quality or prevent the situation from getting out of control?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Reining in the ease of collecting mounts


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

Mounts are everywhere -- rightfully so, as they're an absolute necessity. These furry, feathery, leathery or mechanical steeds practically fall from the sky. You can get them from in-game vendors, out-of-game vendors, random drops, timed heroic runs, fishing, trading cards and even just having a bunch of mounts. With so many ways to get them, it's easy to forget how hard they were to get just a few scant years ago.

My first character at level cap was my much-missed warlock. As if slinging curses, ordering around demons and sipping the tears of my enemies weren't enough, I was treated to one of the best climaxes to a quest chain in game. The sheer wildness of trying to keep everything working while simultaneously fending off droves of enemies, culminating in a fantastic boss fight, is something everyone should experience. True, the quests leading up to the final showdown were annoying and expensive, but they were worth it in the end.

However, Blizzard has gone out of their way to make mounts very easy to get. Paladins and warlocks no longer have to go on an epic adventure for their noble or demonic steeds; they simply have to talk to their trainers. The minimum level to get the first mount has been dropped from 40 to 30 to 20, while epic mounts are now under the rumps of those much lower than level 60. Even flying mounts are now available almost as soon as you step into the Outland.

So I've been pondering: Does the huge variety, abundance and awesomeness of mounts these days make up for the ease of obtaining them? Or do you think it was better when you had to walk for a much longer time and scrounge up much more gold (when gold was hard to get)? Are new players missing out on something special by not having to triumph over waves of demons to get their new demon, or are they simply bypassing an unnecessary annoyance to get to the real meat of the game?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? 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 WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!



Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

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