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WoW Insider reviews Christie Golden's Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects

Just under 10 years ago, on Oct. 1, 2001, a novel was released as a new addition to the Warcraft universe that would change the history and lore of the games forever. Lord of the Clans outlined the history and childhood of a young orc named Thrall. Son of Durotan and Draka, the former slave would break free from his imprisonment at the hands of Aedelas Blackmoore, step forward to unite the shattered and lethargic clans of the orcs, and lead the Horde in a manner that none that had played the original Warcraft games could possibly comprehend at that point in time.

Almost a year later, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos was released, and that orc's journey from the beleaguered, Scourge-ridden lands of the Eastern Kingdoms to the dusty and barren shores of Kalimdor was told in a tale that captured the hearts of players. No longer simply a character in a novel, Thrall's travels and ultimate triumph, united with the night elves and humans at the peaks of Mount Hyjal and working as one to defeat Archimonde, would forever seal his place as true Warchief of the Horde.

It is only appropriate then that the latest novel written for the Warcraft franchise, detailing the further journeys of Thrall, be undertaken by the woman who started it all -- Christie Golden. Not just an author with a host of Warcraft novels under her belt, Golden is the voice of the former Warchief, the author who gave him a life of his own. Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects continues the journey that Thrall began nearly 10 years ago -- and what a journey it is.

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Filed under: Lore, Cataclysm

The Queue: Patience is a virtue


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

This is usually the part where I try to be funny and write an eye-grabbing intro to The Queue. Today, that goes right out the window. Why? Because I'm busy. Busy doing what, you ask? Picking our new columnists! We have some good ones this time around, folks. Keep an eye out.

Anonymoose asked...

"Why does Keristrasza always yell "Preserve? Why? There's no truth in it! No, no, no!" whenever you engage? How is it relevant, lore-wise, to anything we did for the Red Dragonflight in and around the Nexus? Why is she frozen there in the first place?"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Upcoming Adjustments announced for Old Kingdom, Nexus, Culling of Stratholme

Zarhym popped into one of the many official forum topics complaining about the seemingly inordinate amount of times Old Kingdom pops on the Dungeon Finder to offer some welcome news for exhausted dungeon runners: Old Kingdom and Nexus alike will be receiving some adjustments meant to bring the dungeons in line with other Wrath heroics.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Instances, Bosses

The OverAchiever: Voyage of the Glory of the Hero


98 out of 100 people at that party would walk over my corpse for free gum. -- "Veronica Mars."

Ah, poor Veronica; so young, and yet so...correct. Well, let's not dwell on that for too long, because we've got more heroics to steamroll in pursuit of a badass mount. If you're just joining us or want a quick set of links, here's what we've covered in our Glory of the Hero series so far:
Let's get cracking. Head west, young player!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Instances, Features, Guides, Achievements, The Overachiever

53 Emblems per day


This is great -- it's probably more WoW playing than I could do in one day, but maybe I'll try it this weekend anyway. loztaylor has designed a heck of an instance run that rolls through thirteen Heroics and will nab you 53 Emblems of Conquest (along with all of the other spoils of war) in one day. Basically, you'll be sweeping across the land of Northrend, hitting every Heroic you come across, and if by some chance you're able to keep the group together the whole time, and keep from passing out from all the WoW playing you're doing, at the end you'll end up with 53 Emblems, more than enough to purchase most of the Emblem gear, and almost enough to pick up a Tier piece.

Of course, if you're wearing a rep tabard, you'll also rein in a ton of dungeon rep. And if you hit the new Trial of the Champion, you'll pick up your Champion's Seals as well. And you'll have 13 Frozen Orbs to divvy among the group, a few extra Emblems and gold from doing the daily quests, and if you're good and/or lucky, you might even be able to clear up a few of the achievements or snag that blue proto-drake. Of course, doing this much of anything in the game will probably nab you plenty of rewards. But here's a tuned route to follow all the way around the world of Heroics. If I can find a willing group of suckers guildies, I think I'll give it a shot.

Filed under: How-tos, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Instances, Bosses, Making money

Two Bosses Enter: Anomalus vs. Tribunal of Ages


Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches. This season's bosses come from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.

This week's Two Bosses Enter is less boss-versus-boss than it is boss-versus-event: The Nexus' Anomalus versus the Tribunal of Ages encounter in the Halls of Stone. The Tribunal of Ages event tasks adventurers with protecting Dwarven explorer Brann Bronzebeard from waves of mobs as part of the Halls of Stone quest -- a boss-level encounter in terms of difficulty and loot, if not in actual boss-versus-boss combat. It'll be Anomalus' Chaotic Rifts and Crazed Mana-Wraiths against the Tribunal of Ages' Kaddrak, Abedneum and Marnak plus the cadre of Dark Rune Protectors, Dark Rune Stormcallers and the Iron Golem Custodian.

The ground rules:
  • For the sake of this deathmatch, we'll have to get a little (ok, a lot) creative with Anomalus' presence here in the Tribunal. In this scenario, we'll retain the basic mechanic of the Tribunal of Ages encounter. Brann Bronzebeard's survival still determines the success or failure of the mission. Anomalus is therefore challenged with holding the Tribunal at bay long enough for Bronzebeard to complete his task.
  • This match takes place inside the Tribunal of Ages in the Halls of Stone.
  • If you assume that Anomalus is "too dumb to move," we'll have a very boring match indeed. Be open to other possibilities.
  • Assume that foes share similar levels, health pools and a comparative overall damage output.
  • Don't get caught up in game mechanics and what actual players might do in each encounter.
  • Style and scale are your main considerations.

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Filed under: Features, Bosses, Two Bosses Enter

Completion rates on Wrath heroics


Yeah, we all know that Oculus kinda sucks, but now we've got some numbers on it -- or, more accurately, Flyv does. One of my feral Druid colleagues has been examining Armory data on completion rates of Wrath heroics (and incidentally took a peek at how long it takes for the average person to go from dinging 80 to a full Naxx clear). The numbers aren't too surprising: heroics that correspond to the earliest Wrath "regular" dungeons -- Violet Hold, Utgarde Keep, and the Nexus -- are far and away the most-completed heroics. Oculus -- and to a lesser extent, Ahn'kahet and Halls of Stone -- languish at 40, 51, and 58% completion rates respectively.

Halls of Stone surprises me somewhat, as I really didn't think it was a difficult heroic (outside of running a Druid tank on the Brann Bronzebeard event), but Ahn'kahet is universally cited amongst tanks and healers for LOS issues and nasty damage. And Oculus...well, we've talked about Oculus here before. I still think the concept of the dungeon itself is fantastic, but the moment that one or two embarrassed people in your group admit that it's their first time on the drakes, you know you're in for a long and ugly run.

I hope Flyv revisits this data at some point, because I'd love to see how the numbers change over the course of Wrath. With achievements introduced only as BC was ending, we don't really have a good look at how dungeon popularity and completion rates evolved there, and I think the numbers say a lot about the content players prioritize when they get a toon (or multiple toons) to the level cap.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Achievements

The Queue: Strategery


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Good afternoon, everybody! I apologize for missing yesterday's edition of The Queue, I sort of forgot about it in my rush to get our April Fool's joke pieced together. The entire team got together to bring that little joke to life. Getting it all put together was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Fun, but it took awhile! Hopefully you guys enjoyed it. If not, oh well! We had a good time bringing it to life.

I don't think you want to listen to me ramble about that, though. Onto the Q&A!

Ghola asked...

"Why would the Argent Tournament set up camp in Icecrown, at the back end of the glacier? This makes absolutely no sense to me. Crystal Song seems way better: no quests there, plenty of space, and much better weather!"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

The Queue: Genn, you're such a jerk

Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Be warned that the very end of today's edition of The Queue contains minor spoilers for the upcoming Ulduar raid zone. Everything is perfectly safe until the very last question, and even then the spoilers are very minor. Minor as in it describes a couple of the bosses found within the zone. It doesn't give away any story or plot. If you want your experience to remain pure, stop at the last question. If you don't care so much about knowing who you'll see in Ulduar, it's perfectly safe.

I warn because I love.

mindor asked...


What is the deal with the Greymane wall in Silverpine forest? Is there an old raid set in there? What is on the other side of that monstrous wall?

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, The Queue

The Queue: Plate, plate and more plate


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.

Good afternoon, WoW Insider! I have nothing useful to say in my preface today, because I need to go put my new power supply and video card in my PC so I can actually play WoW again. Man, have you seen some of the newer video cards these days? If I had enough of these things I could build a fort capable of surviving a nuke out of them. This thing is a beast.

Trech asked...

A couple questions regarding DK tanking... How much Defense rating am I going to need at level 80 to hit 540 defense skill. How much base defense skill will I have at 80? I'm levelling Unholy with a DPS build. If I throw on a few pieces of +def gear can I safely go tank Nexus or Utgarde Keep at level 72?

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Filed under: Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, The Queue

The Azeroth Ethicist: Why (or why not) to take a player

I had a lot of fun reading the comments on two articles we ran concerning a knotty moral issue, and readers wrote a lot of interesting things about how the problem could be considered from both an ingame and nongame perspective.

This article's about a problem that's existed since the game's launch, but seems to have become more common since Wrath's release due to a substantial demographic shift with plate classes (more on this in a bit). Simply put; is it appropriate to turn down a potential member of a group over loot competition? Players generally don't want to face the prospect of losing a roll, especially if they've been endlessly running a dungeon trying to get a particular piece. But while you'll get a lot of sympathy if you've run, say, heroic Nexus 17 times trying to get the War Mace of Unrequited Love, people will generally elect to take a competitor if it's a choice between that and not doing the dungeon at all.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore: Dalaran


Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below!

Dalaran has been one of the most prominent nations in the Eastern Kingdoms since its founding, though it's actually quite small. A nation only thousands strong at its height has perhaps held more sway over world leaders in its time than any other nation, and has attracted the ire of some of the most powerful entities Azeroth has ever seen.

Dalaran, located in the heart of former Lordaeron territory, has been the center of Arcane knowledge since its creation, and could be considered the Humans' answer to Quel'Thalas, though the nation accepts Elves (and many others) in its ranks as well. Magic is Dalaran's lifeblood, and is even ruled through the strength and wisdom of its magi. Dalaran is a magocracy, a government ruled by a council of mages known as the Kirin Tor, elected by citizens of the nation. Their icon is the Violet Eye, with Violet being the motif used for the nation itself, and the color purple representing the Arcane as a whole in Warcraft (Arcane Missiles, Netherstorm).

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

Lichborne: Gear upgrades for Death Knights in the starting zones

Welcome to Lichborne, where Daniel Whitcomb really needs a bigger boat. And maybe a more imposing minion to steer it.

So by now, I assume a good chunk of us are managing to get through Outland again and are hitting the 68-70 level range, ready to jump onto a boat or zeppelin and head to Northrend. Now, up til now, I'm sure a lot of you have been sticking with your Death Knight quest gear, hoping to avoid the clown look of Northrend, or have been leveling so fast through Outland that you haven't had time to replace most of it anyway.

But we're in Northrend now, guys. The difficulty is ramped up a bit, and you're really going to have to start replacing stuff pretty quickly. No worries though, Blizzard's art team has done a pretty decent job of making most of the Northrend quest rewards look like something you'd be willing to be caught dead wearing, so to speak, especially if you're into Norse mythology and imagery like I am.

Today, we'll be discussing some of the best quest upgrades for a Death Knight in the first few zones of Northrend, but before we do that, I'd like to mention one more gear-related thing from our tanking column last week: The Cobalt "set."

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Filed under: Items, Tips, Instances, Quests, Leveling, Guides, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Scattered Shots: Wrath of the Lich King starting zone upgrades, Part I

Here's a Hunter ready for upgrades.Welcome to Scattered Shots, the weekly Hunter column, now with 100% more Northrend!

So you're on the shore in Northrend by now, one hopes, and maybe you're level 71, still tooling around the starting zones, looking for the right quests to do to get some decent gear for yourselves. Now if you've spent a decent amount of time in Tier 4 or better content, or if you decked yourself out in badge gear, I'll be honest, you may not find too many upgrades here. But for people who started their Hunter a little late or didn't quite clear Karazhan before the expansion, there's some very nice stuff here.

Let's take a look at the quest rewards of Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra and their attached dungeons, and see what they offer:

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Filed under: Hunter, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Quests, Leveling, Guides, Wrath of the Lich King, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Ask A Beta Tester: So long, and thanks for all the fish

Yes, folks, the proverbial fat lady has sung, and this is the last "real" Ask A Beta Tester. Tomorrow we're going to run an AABT that showcases the best, funniest, and most prescient questions we received, and after that -- bowing to popular demand -- the column's going to change gears somewhat and become Ask A Guy (or Girl) Something, or...I dunno, whatever we decide to call it. AAGoGS is cumbersome but oddly endearing, I admit.

Deri (among others) asks...

At 77, approximately how much money will I have made levelling up through quests?


At 77 you'll be eligible to train Cold Weather Flying for 1,000g, which I assume is what this is about. Will you have made that much questing? I'd made...I want to say somewhere in the region of 800g leveling between 70 and 77, but I also tanked and healed a LOT of instance runs, so my quest income was on the low side. So I'd say it's probably going to be very easy to finance Cold Weather Flying just from Northrend quests. If you're occupied with a lot of instance runs, just keep in mind that you'll be leveling proportionately faster than you're making money, though.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Features, Leveling, Factions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

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