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The problem of Outland in Cataclysm

Borex brings up a question I've heard ever since Blizzard first announced they were going to tear up Old Azeroth in Cataclysm: what's the deal with Outland? Up until now, continuity throughout the game has worked more or less the way it should: new content gets added on to the end of the game, so anyone leveling up sees the story as they're supposed to (more or less -- there have been a few elements that have had to be "dealt with" for sure, but for the most part Blizzard has just wiped those clean). But obviously, if Deathwing returns and starts messing with players right away at level 1, the whole continuity will get shaken up. Hence Borex's question: why will level 60s be bothering to go out to Outland and deal with the Burning Legion when, in the world Deathwing invades, the Burning Legion is no longer considered the most pressing threat? Is it logical for level 60s to leave the world, head to a distant planet, and then come back to Azeroth at level 70? Shouldn't they stay and fight?

Bornakk's reply hints that Blizzard will probably just gloss over it as best they can -- they're not going to build a whole new 1-85 experience involving Deathwing. When you constantly update a five-year-old persistent world game like this with new stories and content, something's got to give somewhere. My guess is that Blizzard, being the perfectionists they are, will probably come up with a quest or two that gives a lore reason to go out there ("Hmm, you're too green to face the power of Deathwing, but our companions in Outland need help holding what's left of the Burning Legion at bay!"), and leave it at that. They may increase the XP and get you out of there even quicker, but going to Outland at 58 is still a gameplay necessity (Northrend shares the problem at 70, but of course we don't actually know what's going to happen with the Lich King quite yet). It's likely the lore will just have to deal.

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, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, Alts, Cataclysm

Where in time is Azeroth?

There's a great question fluttering around the community lately: just when are we anyway? It's a good one for the Lore Nerd, actually, and maybe he can answer it in more detail than I can, but it's almost a question of relativity as much as it is of lore. The official lore says that World of Warcraft takes place four years after Warcraft III (hence the reason for the "four years have passed..." in the opening cinematic). And since then, we've heard from Blizzard that they consider every expansion to be another year in the history of Azeroth -- Burning Crusade takes place a year after the original game, and Wrath of the Lich King two years after that. But when, for example, did Van Cleef fall? Has it been just under two years since his plan to attack Stormwind was defeated? And what about our characters -- you'd assume that if you started from level 1 today, the story would be beginning four years after the events of Warcraft III again, so have our characters aged two years since they first stepped foot out of Elwynn or Durotar? And we'll ignore that when you get to Orgrimmar, you might see Death Knights walking around, who technically won't join the Horde until two years in the future.

See how confusing? Of course, the right answer to all of these questions is "it's just a game," but there are plenty of interesting thought experiments here. Time and story in the World of Warcraft aren't necessarily connected, which is why Blizzard can get away with things like having Kael'thas in two places at once, but still tripped up by things like getting Onyxia out of Stormwind. Phasing helps a little bit (and who knows what WoW would be like if Blizzard designed it from the ground up with phasing -- we'll have to wait for the next-gen MMO to see how that works). The official timeline has Arthas brooding in Icecrown for around six years. But just like real relativity, our characters have experienced that time period in all sorts of different ways.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs

Relic beats Activision-Blizzard in developer showdown

Here's an update, albeit slightly unexpected, from The Escapist's big "March Mayhem" tournament that we reported on a little while ago. They were pitting Relic Entertainment up against Activision-Blizzard in a developer vote-down, and apparently, after a tie and a little ballot box stuffing, Relic, not Blizzard, has emerged out on top. Quite an upset in a number of ways -- Relic was seeded #12 in the bracket, and Activision-Blizzard was seeded as number one (the bracket also included Harmonix, Infinity Ward, and another big MMO developer, Mythic). In fact, Relic also went on to beat Harmonix, and is now facing Bioware for a spot in the final matchup.

Is it fair to say, then, that the mighty have fallen? Blizzard was (and still is, for the most part) held in high esteem as a developer -- most of the games they've released in their vast history aren't just hits, they're classics. But even commenters here on our site felt that the "Activision" on the front of the dev's name was distasteful: Blizzard's new owners don't demand as much respect as the studio itself does. And Blizzard has definitely changed lately. Some might say that the developer that allowed Diablo 2 players to play for free on (which, to be fair, has had its own issues) isn't the same company that's planning to sell Starcraft II three different times.

And let's not forget that, ballot-stuffing or not, Relic has moved on to beat Harmonix, and still has a chance to win it all, so it could just be that they have a much bigger fan following than anyone expected. But does a loss like this mean Blizzard has fallen from their fans' grace?

Has your estimation of Blizzard raised or lowered since they joined up with Activision?
Raised496 (5.0%)
Lowered6207 (62.0%)
About the same3304 (33.0%)

Filed under: Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard

World of WarCrafts: Garden art

Every Thursday, Shelbi Roach of The Bronze Kettle guides you in creating WoW-inspired crafts using real world mats with World of WarCrafts.

If you're looking to enhance your home away from Northrend, you might find these WoW-themed glass and brass garden sculptures to be right up your alley! Constructed with solid brass, these stakes are said to be wind and water proof.

FeralGlass offers a variety of punctuation, including yellow, gold and blue question and exclamation marks.

Filed under: World of WarCrafts

Ask WoW Insider: Minimum raiding requirements

Every Monday, we put a question back to you readers, and see what you have to say about a current issue in the World of Warcraft. This week's question actually comes from our Guildwatch column -- Lugbruz is an officer in Reforged on Runetotem (they just downed M'uru -- grats!), and he has a question about how much you need to raid to be successful:

Are there other guilds who have a 3 night/week raid schedule (or less) who have enjoyed success in high-end raiding? We killed Mu'ru before the nerf and don't know of any other crew has gone so far with so little time. Our primary competition of the server was at equal progression with us pre-nerf and they're a 5 night/week crew.

We assume that 3 nights (4 hours per raid) is the minimum, but can endgame be done with less?


Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Ask WoW Insider, Bosses

Ask WoW Insider: Loot rolls and seasonal boss summons

Time once again to put a question to you, dear readers, and see what you have to say about a current issue in the World of Warcraft. This time around, Rylia has a question about loot ethics with seasonal bosses -- everyone and their guildie is taking down the Headless Horseman (making the Scarlet Graveyard an actual destination, strangely), and Rylia wants to know what the policy is when an item drops:

What's your group loot policy for seasonal bosses? (a) Use the usual in-game loot roller; everyone roll Need on the rare items (mounts, small pets, etc.) (b) Whoever summons the boss for that particular attempt gets the rare item drop from that attempt. The logic behind (b) is that it prevents people who've used up their daily summons from getting more than one chance per day (and thus making their groupmates get less than one chance per day). If someone who didn't have a summon in your seasonal group wins a rare roll, do you think that's a ninja?


Personally, I think all the summons should get settled before you enter the instance -- if you invite someone in without a summon (for example, because they're a tank, and you just need them rather than waiting for a tank with a summon), they're a part of the group after that and have as much chance as anyone else to win a roll. And yes, if an item drops that someone can use, it should be a Need roll. So if that mount drops, everyone's got a chance to win it. That's just me, though -- I can see the point about someone without a summon taking loot from people who entered with a summon.

Though I have no idea what to do if a mount and pet drops on the same run -- would the person who won one not get a chance on the second? What think you, readers, both of general loot rules on season bosses and of Rylia's summon policy?

Previously on Ask WoW Insider...

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Ask WoW Insider, Bosses, NPCs

Ask WoW Insider: Defining mains and alts

There's a ton of asking going on around this site lately -- between "Ask a Lore Nerd" and "Ask a Beta Tester," you guys are asking more questions than a two-year old who just learned what "why" means. But this column, Ask WoW Insider, is the O.G. of Ask columns here on the site, and unlike all of the other Ask columns, we put the question back to you readers. Chippen of EU Doomhammer sent in this great question this week:
We are having a discussion in our guild whether alts have priority on loot before guild members and we do have different views on this. Some say that an alt is an alt, and need to wait to be geared up, while others can't really see the problem. What is a main and what is an alt?

I suppose a main is the...well...I don't know. The first character I created? Or is it the character I play the most? Or is it the character I want to play the most and also enjoying playing the most? When does an alt become a main, and is it possible to swap between the two?
If you're asking me, I'd say it's definitely possible to switch mains (I've done it a few times) -- your main is currently the character that's getting the majority of your playtime, and the one where loot matters the most to you. Some guilds ask you to declare a main, so that they can make a clear distinction for passing out loot, while other guilds just have players switch alts depending only on what situations require what.

So let's show up those other Ask columns and give this great, open-ended question out to you, our dear readers: what is a main and what is an alt? And what's the difference between the two?

If you've got a question for our readers to be posted right here in the original Ask column, be sure to send it along to And there's lots more Ask WoW Insider, including this question on abusing the /roll, and how to make friends and influence raiders on a new server.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Ask WoW Insider, Making money

Breakfast Topic: What's your anti-class?

We're not talking about drugs here, and I don't mean to ask what class you just can't seem to beat in PvP. Nope, today's topic is a little more humbling and personal. Charly over on WoW Ladies wants to know: what class can't you play?

Me, I've never been able to play a Paladin to my satisfaction-- despite my obvious concerns (which have come up before and which I won't belabor here), the class just never vibed with my playstyle. Warlock is another one that, for whatever reason, I've just never been able to play past about level 10 or so. It's not that I think they're bad classes-- it's just that I personally just don't vibe with their playstyle.

What about you? Are there any classes that you just can't seem to play and get into? What's your anti-class?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Classes

Is the Horseman too easy?

Now, a little while ago, Blizzard implemented an Arena points system, where as long as you ran 10 arena matches, you could stock up points and then use them for Arena weapons. So raiders (who didn't PvP much, but wanted the weapons) would save up their points even if they lost, and buy the weapons once they'd saved enough. Arena players, however, cried foul-- they said the Arena weapons had become "welfare epics." So Blizzard required a good Arena rating to buy those weapons.

As of Tuesday, it's Hallow's End in Azeroth, and there is now a Headless Horseman event in Scarlet Monastery's Graveyard. Everyone I know (including me) has run the event multiple times, and Epics are dropping like Hallow's End candy. So here's the question: should Blizzard really be giving out Epics for an event that takes just a few minutes and only a modicum of skill? Aren't these as "welfare epics" as they come? Is the Horseman event too easy to be giving out loot like this?

Now, obviously, the rings and helm that the Horseman drops are hardly the Arena weapons that Blizzard had to put behind a rating. Though they are Epic, they're not that amazing-- one trip through Karazhan could probably replace all of them. But Karazhan is a ten main raid, and this is an event that can be done with as little as three people once every day (and I wouldn't be surprised to see it soloed by some ambitious Paladin before long). Already, three days into the event, my guild was running a 66 Mage in there just to get a "free" epic ring for him to use, four levels from now. Isn't that a bit much?

Read more →

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding

A friend for life, or pet of the week?

00hshiny is asking a question about what Hunter pet to get for raiding on WoW Ladies, but something even more interesting struck me about her situation: she's made it all the way to 67 with a pet she's had since the beginning.

I know it happens (my friend went all the way with his first pet), but I've leveled one Hunter and am now working on a second, and I can't imagine leveling all the way up with just one pet-- it would get too boring after a while! Hunters, have you done it?

Of course you'd need to train other pets at some point, just to get more skills. And it's very common for Hunters to reach 70, and then get different pets for different activities-- a PvP pet vs. a soloing or raiding pet. But I wonder exactly how many pets Hunters actually play with (as in, fight with enough to reach the highest loyalty levels). BRK apparently changes pets all the time, but what about the rest of you Hunters? How many pets have you had, in terms of actually using, not just taming for learning skills, from 1-70?

Hunters: How many pets have you had from 1-70?
Just one, we're BFF847 (32.2%)
Two, one for each stable slot479 (18.2%)
Three-- PvP, Raiding, and Solo363 (13.8%)
Definitely more than three237 (9.0%)
From three to ten412 (15.6%)
More than ten but less than sixty185 (7.0%)
One for every level!111 (4.2%)

Filed under: Hunter, Polls, Analysis / Opinion

The most powerful character in Azeroth

Killah sent us a interesting question: who is the most powerful character in all of Azeroth? We've talked about this one before, but it's been a while, and considering that we've learned a lot since last December about Azeroth and what's happening in it, I'd say it's worth another look.

So who's on top? Last time around, we said Sargeras or Elune, but let's refine things a bit-- those two may both be very powerful, but Sargeras is currently "ceased to be," and Elune, who supposedly created the world, doesn't actually use that power much, does she? If she was so peaceful and in charge, why's the world called Warcraft?

Still, looking down the list, Elune does seem to top it-- if you're talking about potential power, she's it. Aman'thul and the Pantheon are up there-- they toppled Sargeras and have even killed the Old Gods. But the most powerful character that we know for certain is actually in Azeroth right now? Besides the winner of the our One Boss Leaves tournament, I'm not sure. Nozdormu? The Lich King?

Unless by "most powerful character," Killah actually means player character. In that case, I have no idea. Awake? One of the guys from Team Pandemic?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs

Questions answered at BlizzCon

There were so many questions I as I stood in line on Thursday to pick up my BlizzCon badge, and now looking back, I am surprised at how many of them were answered. There were just as many questions that popped up because of BlizzCon, I'm not exactly sure if I'm better off.

I know, for instance, that my three favorite lost concepts will finally get treatment, namely the creation myth surround the dwarves in Uldaman, Dalaran the bubble city, and the mysterious Grim Batol. I also know that one of my favorite characters from the War of the Ancients trilogy will finally get into the game, the red haired mage Rhonin. But what happens to his twin children, and his wife, the sister of Sylvanas? What will happen to the area where Dalaran is currently? Will they update the quest in Uldaman to reflect the additional info about the creation myth?

You see what I mean? The more questions are answered, the more arise. It's a vicious, tantalizing cycle, and one I am definitely enjoying being caught up in.

Filed under: BlizzCon

Breakfast Topic: You're in charge

Richard Bartle (who also blogs over at Terra Nova) gained notoriety among WoW players this week for saying that if Blizzard put him in charge, he'd shut the game down for good. His point was not that he's angry at WoW, but that if players suddenly woke up without it, they'd move on to other, more interesting and varied virtual worlds. WoW is the 800 lb. gorilla in MMO gaming (and in some cases, videogaming) right now, and if Bartle could do one thing with that gorilla, he'd get it out of the picture, so other games would have a chance to shine brighter.

Yesterday on Terra Nova, he asked players the same question he was asked, and today, we'll ask it to you. If Blizzard called you up this afternoon, and said "Boy, we really love the way you're playing this game, and we want to put you in charge," what would you do? And not just in terms of the game world (although I'd love to finally buff Shamans), but in terms of the game business itself. Would you start working on a sequel, or make plans to push out expansions every six months instead of every year? Would you combine the realms together, or create an hourly payment plan instead of a monthly one?

Or would you shut the whole thing down and let players have a chance to play something else (or get back to their lives)? If you were in charge, what would you do?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Have Questions for the WoW Developers?

Well, World of Warcraft Stratics has been given the chance to interview the game's developers and is taking questions from you.  They will be selecting 15 of the best questions to forward on to the development team.  So if you have questions, here's a chance to get some answers.  The deadline for entry is May 7th, so you have a couple of weeks to consider.

Filed under: Blizzard

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