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The top five things you need to know about patch 5.3

patch 5.3 scenario
Patch 5.3 has arrived, and there are a truly staggering number of changes to the game, many of them with significant effects to gameplay. You can check out Blizzard's complete patch notes on their blog, but for the sake of brevity, WoW Insider has compiled a list of the top five changes that are most likely to be of the biggest interest to the average player. If you haven't been paying much attention, this is the stuff you probably really want to know!

1. The experience required to go from level 85 to 90 has been reduced by 33%

Mists of Pandaria has been called very alt-unfriendly, and while this particular change won't entirely fix that, it does help. Along with the changes to reputation factions -- the Shado Pan and August Celestials dailies are no longer hidden behind the gate of "Revered" with the Golden Lotus -- this will make it easier to get your army of alts up to speed to hop into max-level content.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Rock on with Kang's Bindstone

Stone Yaungol
I'm going to have to humbly beg everyone for their forgiveness for my terrible title pun. Get it?! Okay, but seriously. We know we've got Phat Loot Friday and all that, but Kang's Bindstone is such a neat item that it deserves its own post. The Bindstone is an item that buffs you with a chance to turn an enemy to stone upon delivering a killing blow instead of triggering the normal death effect. Loot and such is unaffected - this is a purely cosmetic item. The buff lasts ten minutes and works against critters, mobs, enemy players, and even bosses.

Kang's Bindstone drops from Kang the Soul Thief, a rare mogu elite in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. He can be found in the far west of the zone, on Autumnshade Ridge north of the Five Sisters site on the map. He's a mogu sorcerer and does some nasty shadow-based attacks, but he should be soloable for a level 90 character. Happy hunting!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Nethaera wants to know your most coveted and unusual items

nelf map emote
Over at the official forums Community Manager Nethaera has a bit of an unusual question for everyone: do you dream of electric sheep? Well, okay, it's not exactly that question. She wants to know what unusual or unique items you hoard, keep, or carry and the reason why. Do you hang onto Pamela Redpath's tea for courage when you face the undead? Do you keep Archmage Vargoth's Staff for some company on those long, Netherstorm nights? Or is it a practical item that you prefer - a repair bot or the Direbrew Remote for when you simply must have some of that Dark Iron brew?

This question is actually a tough one for me to answer. Not because I don't have an answer but because I have entirely too many answers. My bags and bank are stuffed full of random items that I refuse to get rid of, even now-useless stuff like Shard of the Fallen Star. I guess if I had to choose, I'd say it'd be a tie for two: my Orb of Deception and Orb of the Sin'dorei. I love turning my night elf into an undead or blood elf, respectively, though unfortunately the Orb of Deception requires being equipped in a trinket slot to work, so it's not very practical for raiding. The Orb of the Sin'dorei you can just click to use. True story: once upon a time back in Wrath I was hanging out, transformed into a blood elf, at the Ulduar summoning stone helping bring my guildmates to the raid. Another Alliance player walked up and /spit on me. When I whispered him with a frowny face emote, he freaked out and thought I was a hacker. Helpful tip, my friend: a blood elf in full tier 7 druid gear is not actually a blood elf! Also, you shouldn't /spit on people, it's really rude!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Humor

Mists of Pandaria Beta: The evolution of itemization

Image
Let me introduce you to the Massacre Sword. It was, and still is, a solid leveling green with a rather good model. I point it out to you to show you the odds of getting one with stats you'd actually want on a warrior, paladin or hunter (the three classes that would be using the sword at the time the game launched) and how likely it was you'd get, say, a Massacre Sword of the Boar or Whale. Granted, you could get a few fairly useful combinations (one of Strength or Agility, say, or a good two stat combo like Bear, Tiger, Eagle, Monkey or Gorilla depending on your class.

This was a green drop, of course. It wasn't meant to be the best of the best, just something to pick up and use on your way to dungeon loot. It's hard to compare it to what it would be replaced by nowadays, because a lot of that gear was re-itemized when Cataclysm came out and the dungeon levels were adjusted up or down. I remember replacing it with Lord Alexander's Battle Axe, followed by a Demonshear and an Arcanite Champion, before forays into Molten Core and Blackwing Lair. It's fascinating to consider how itemization works as a tool in driving players forward. Bad itemization, while baffling at times when encountered in game, actually serves a purpose in the hands of the developers. An item with too good of a stat spread can actually serve as a hanging burr, sticking to your character long after it should have been replaced.

I mention this because, to my mind, Mists of Pandaria is the first expansion to really know this, forwards and backwards. This is the expansion that will use gear design to motivate you better, more skillfully, and more expansively than ever before.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard launches Battle.net Item Restoration service

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With the advent of transmogrification, void storage, account-wide pets, and lots of other item-dependent features, it's seemed a little odd that Blizzard hasn't been allowing item restores via the GM queue. Well, that apparently ends today -- both the inability to do so and requesting to do so via GM ticket. Now, your Battle.net account page has a brand-new service: Item Restoration. It's a free service that you can perform once every 30 days to retrieve lost, deleted, or vendored items immediately. In the event that you disenchanted an item instead of deleting or selling it, you'll still go through the regular GM ticket line to have your case looked at.

Kudos to Blizzard for finally making this service available -- it was a huge stress on the GM queue and an inconvenience for players. Now everybody's happy. Probably.

Announcing: Battle.net Item Restoration
Starting today, players can access a new system that will allow players to recover World of Warcraft items that they may have sold, destroyed or disenchanted: Battle.net Item Restoration.

With this new self-service option the recovery of an item or items that were recently deleted or sold to a vendor can be restored to a character immediately when using the ticket submission system on our support site. For any items that were accidentally disenchanted the same method can be used to request a review by Customer Support for restoration.

This restoration option may only be used once every 30 days on active World of Warcraft accounts that are in good standing. As this option has a limited availability and use, we still encourage caution when selling, deleting or disenchanting items.

While Customer Service always strives to help whenever we can, with the introduction of this self-help feature we will no longer be able to assist with these types of requests.

Additional details can be found in the following Support Article: Battle.net Item Restoration.

Filed under: Blizzard

Famous poetry responsible for Cataclysm item names?

The incredible Perculia (content manager over at Wowhead) has just put up one of my favorite posts about World of Warcraft ever -- Cataclysm starter epics, justice point gear, blue drops from instances, and more are all named after or refer to famous lines and fragments from poetry by T.S. Eliot and John Keats.

Truth be told, I want to know the story of the moment when all of this snapped into place for Perculia and it became about finding an item for almost every stanza from these poems. It's a spectacular effort. As I read her post and clicked on items, it became abundantly clear that this is far from coincidence.

For instance, from the blog, Perculia has analyzed this particular stanza from Keat's Ode to a Nightingale:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
From Perculia's finding, we see that Keats' poems are used mostly for justice point gear at ilevel 359, with most of the dungeon 346 blues owing their monikers to his work. Eliot's poems are the source of many reputation rewards. Check out the full post on the Flavor Text blog.

Filed under: Lore, Cataclysm

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

Patch 3.3.3 PTR: Frozo the Renowned takes your Frozen Orbs

Frozen Orbs have been sort of a weird little problem since Patch 3.3 came out. Since they automatically drop off every heroic end boss, the dungeon finder has pretty much guaranteed that there's thousands of them created every single day. However, the Emblems of Triumph that come out of those same dungeons pretty much make most of the profession gear made with Frozen Orbs obsolete.

As a result, many of us have at least a couple stacks rotting in our banks or backpacks, and I know I personally have started outright passing on them, having nothing better to do with them. Now I sort of wish I hadn't, if only because they're finally useful as currency in Patch 3.3.3.

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Filed under: News items

New seasonal vanity pet, the Toxic Wasteling


Vanity pet collectors, rejoice! The Crown Chemical Co. apothecaries not only drop some pretty nice necklaces, they're also the source of a new vanity pet, the Toxic Wasteling. You may think this looks a lot like the Disgusting Oozeling, but there's a major difference -- rather than a debuff applied to your character, the Wasteling is a hungry little guy. So hungry in fact, that he'll eat random critters, and as he does, he grows in size.

Check out the video to see the Toxic Wasteling in action -- and for those pet collectors wondering about the Truesilver Shafted Arrow for the Perma-Peddle achievement, he's now available on holiday vendors for the low price of 40 Love Tokens.

Filed under: Events

Fool for Love just got easier


Love is in the Air on most servers by now, and players should notice a substantial change in the way the event is being run this year. No longer do you have to furtively log on each hour on the hour during the course of the event in the hopes that you'll get that candy bag with that ONE piece of candy you need for the Be Mine! achievement. The candy bag, as well as all other random rewards from previous years are available on vendors in each capital city, and purchased with Love Tokens. How do you get the tokens? Well, you certainly don't have to run around begging people to give you cards and building gifts. This year, the tokens are available through daily quests. Since it's the first day of the event, we may not have seen all of the possible dailies, but here's the rundown on two of them:

Remember the Gifts of Adoration? This year, faction leaders are looking for jewelry. You can turn in a Lovely Charm Bracelet to the faction leader of your choice for a Lovely Card that will give you an hour long buff, and 5 Love Tokens. The method used to obtain these bracelets? Kwee will give you a Lovely Charm Collector's Kit with the following flavor text: "Pliers, bone saw, scalpel and sundry other tools allow for the collection of Lovely Charms from worthwhile enemies. Collect 10 charms to make a bracelet!"

Yes, you read that correctly. You murder beasts and creatures in your level range, and hack Lovely Charms off of their corpses.

I'm thinking I love this event already.

Other ways to obtain Love Tokens include the daily quest "A Perfect Puff of Perfume," which requires you to hose down ten players or NPC's with perfume. Vendors and city guards will work just as well as other players, so don't worry about running out of people to spray. This quest will also earn you 5 tokens.

The changes so far to the event make it much, much simpler to get that coveted Fool For Love meta achievement, and should provide a welcome change to players used to the same old grind from previous years. Check out the gallery below for the complete list of items available on the vendors, and stay tuned for more Love is in the Air info as it comes in!

Filed under: Events

Loot is in the air

Love is already in the air on the European realms and MMO Champion has the details on the loot which drops from the three new Love is in the Air bosses. Three apothecaries have taken up shop in Shadowfang Keep: Baxter, Hummel and Frye. They'll be there for the duration of the holiday as daily quest bosses and following is a list of what they drop (mouseover for their stats): But the drop from Apothecary Hummel that I am most excited about is the Big Love Rocket Mount. It's pink, it has zhevra seats and a naughty, naughty name. Naughty.

Stay tuned for more Love is in the Air info as it comes in.

Filed under: Events

Lich King's loot table revealed

This is surprising: the entire loot table for the Arthas fight, on both 10 and 25-man (normal and hard, judging by the item levels) has just been posted to the Armory. Edit: the loot is also on Wowhead now, complete with 3D models. As tipster Micah noted, if this is really the whole loot table, it consists entirely of armor tokens, weapons, and Invincible's Reins (which is listed as a guaranteed drop on 25-man heroic). The focus on weapons isn't exactly new for raid end bosses, but it's interesting nonetheless.

I haven't had a chance to go through the whole list yet, but as far as I can tell, there aren't any of the nifty proc-based items we've been seeing elsewhere in Icecrown. It's pure stats on Arthas drops (though Alex points out that they all the 25-man heroic items have flavor text). Still, I wouldn't say no to a nice Tainted Twig of Nordrassil for my druid.

Which one's your favorite?

Filed under: Raiding

Have emblems ruined heroics? (Hint: no)

Ardol has made a compelling post at World of Warcraft Philosophized, a blog which I can't remember adding to my feed reader, but which I'm now glad I (evidently) did, arguing that the current emblem system has ruined heroic instances. You should go read the whole post if you can, because it's well written, but here's his argument in a nutshell, as I understand it:
  • A player who mainly runs heroics will quickly amass many Emblems of Triumph, thereby becoming easily overgeared for all but the most challenging heroics (i.e. Halls of Reflection). This makes them much less fun.
  • Raid-oriented players who are running heroics just for the two Emblems of Frost at the end are not very fun to run with.
He also proposes a solution: five-man instances should be ordered into tiers, like raids, and should award emblems on the same schedule as raids do. The first part of this suggestion is already partially implemented: Trial of the Crusader already came with Trial of the Champion, and Icecrown Citadel with the Frozen Halls trio of instances. But Ulduar did not have any attendant five-mans, and the same quality of emblems drop in every heroic (although the loot quality is differentiated).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The Light and How to Swing It: Looting Icecrown's lower spire

With the Light as his strength, Gregg Reece of The Light and How to Swing It faces down the demons of the Burning Legion, the undead of the Scourge, and helps with the puppet shows at the Argent Ren Faire up in Icecrown.

Sometimes, you just have that maddening compulsion to make your wish list of various things you want to acquire. I've got one on Amazon for a woodworking shop and another of things I want on WoW (which does happen to include a pony, Ghostcrawler). However, with the last of the loot being divvied up in these final days of Wrath, let's go through Icecrown Citadel and make a shopping list of gear we'd kill for.

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Filed under: Paladin, Items, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW.com's gift guide for 2009

It's that time of year again -- if you (like me) haven't gotten gifts for everyone on your list, it's time to start scrambling to find something nice to get under the tree this year. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about finding something good for the World of Warcraft fan in your life: we've got you covered there. In the gallery below, we've got a nice bunch of gift ideas for everything Warcraft, from the cheap to the expensive, from the silly to the practical, from in-game presents you can wrap with shiny paper, to out-of-game classics that you can... also wrap with shiny paper. If you need to give a gift to a WoW player this year, you'll find it below for sure.

And if you happen to be a Warcraft player, faced with the annual awkward question of "What do you want me to give you this year?", just feel free to drop this link surreptitiously as a reply, maybe even with a hint or two towards a specific item. We've included links to everything and kept it easy to understand even for someone who hasn't visited Azeroth before. That's our gift to you. Happy holidays, and good gift hunting!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Guides, Galleries, Fan art

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