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Reminder: Enter to win a BlizzCon Badge from Shyka and WoW Insider

Have you entered our BlizzCon badge contest yet? There's just about two days left to enter your comment on our contest post (leave a comment on that post, not this post, as entering your comment on this post earns you nothing but some snarky comments from readers making fun of you for posting on the wrong post), so if you haven't yet, head over there and do so right now.

Remember, we're not giving away an official BlizzCon ticket (yet), but we are giving away some custom-made art of the character of your choice, conveniently laminated in badge form for wearing around BlizzCon. The art is made just for you by Shyka, who is a great artist and who kindly offered us a badge to give away. Tomorrow night at midnight we'll choose one lucky commenter to win the badge, and if you do win it, make sure to come see us at BlizzCon so we can check out how awesome it is.

Official rules and other information are over on the contest post -- leave a comment over there to make sure you're entered for the random drawing tomorrow night. Good luck!

Filed under: Items, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Virtual selves, Contests, Fan art

WoW Insider giveaway: Manaprincess swag


Manaprincess has a new store, and to celebrate, WoW Insider is giving away some of her stuff! One lucky winner will get a Manaprincess gift pack, which consists of a Hearthstone key ring and cell phone charm, as well as one each of the Health and Mana potion pendants, as seen above. Usually, a pack like this would set you back $45 (though don't forget, from now until August 31st, you can get 25% off your order with the code "wowinsider"), but thanks to Manaprincess, we're giving one away free.

To enter, all you've got to do is put a comment on this post. You can say whatever you want, but just for fun, we'll have you answer the question: What would you use a Health or Mana potion for in real life? You can enter only once, and make sure you use a real email address, one that you check often (because we'll be emailing the winner to get the necessary info). On Friday, July 11th, at 11:59pm Eastern time, we'll close the comments and choose one commenter randomly to win the gift pack from Manaprincess, valued at $45.

As always, you've got to follow all the rules (you can click here for complete official rules) -- only people 18+ years of age and living in the US or Canada are eligible to win, and you can enter only once. Good luck!

Update: Contest is over! Check your emails to see if you're the winner.

Filed under: Items, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Odds and ends, Contests

More Mad Alchemist's Potion buffs and testing

Jagoex sent a followup on the speculation around the Mad Alchemist's Potion that us Alchemists are getting in the next patch. We've already seen a few buffs come in, but Jagoex found a few more: Adept's Elixir, Earthen Elixir, and Elixir of Mastery and Major Fortitude all popped up from the potion proccing. It's pretty wild how random these buffs will get, and unfortunately, that makes them fairly useless-- there's no way a strength buff would help casters. However, as cheap as these are (we're told that it only takes a few Ragveil to make them-- AH speculators take heed), it might be worth it to make a bunch, and then just keep canceling buffs and drinking until the right buff is achieved.

The good news is that the buff isn't completely random-- in his testing Jagoex found that most of the time, the potion put a complementing buff on the player. That is, if the player has a Guardian Elixir buff, the potion would apply a Battle Elixir buff, and vice versa. He's only tried it a few times, so more testing is probably necessary, but there are indicators that the MAP's buff is not completely random.

Good news for Alchemists. This is definitely looking like a fun potion, and as long as it stays cheap, it could be a really useful for players who regularly need elixir buffs.

Filed under: Herbalism, Alchemy, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Buffs

The pros and cons of set loot tables

Hardcore Casual has a short but interesting piece up comparing EVE's loot system to that of WoW and EQ. WoW uses what's called a fixed loot table system, which means that everything you kill in game has a set list of loot that drops from it, in varying degrees. If you kill Illidan, you know exactly what he might drop, even if you don't know exactly which piece on that list will drop. But EVE Online apparently uses a much more random loot system-- when you loot, you might get anything.

A better comparison (especially for Blizzard fans) might be Diablo, where almost anything can drop almost anywhere. The problem with a random loot system like this, however, is exactly what I ran into in Titan Quest (a pretty darn good Diablo clone): halfway through the game, a great item will randomly drop, and you'll get a thrill from getting a sweet weapon. However, because you randomly hit it big, you'll have the problem of nothing better ever dropping again, and the game is pretty much over. Diablo fixed this by having separate areas to go through (and I believe TQ got patched in the expansion to fix this a little bit). But in WoW, you don't have that problem-- every new instance you go into will have better gear than the one before it, guaranteed. You can look it up on WoW Wiki, or look at the loot lists, and know exactly what's there.

In fact, some say WoW's loot tables are too random-- I always see Paladin loot drop whenever there's no Paladin in the group. But it does take a little bit of fun out of the game world when everyone is huddled around the Curator saying "cmon staff, cmon staff, cmon staff!" Giving us a boss or two where the loot is totally and completely random (out of almost any item in the game) could actually be fun.

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

WoW TCG: Interview with Ben Drago, Manager of Organized Play


When I came upon Ben Drago at the Darkmoon Faire in Chicago, he was yelling like Ragnaros. He was facing off against three WoW TCG players-- one was playing a Paladin, the second a Mage, and the last a Hunter. It was a Molten Core raiding event, and Drago was more than giving the guys a run for their money. The Paladin dropped quick (the player complained that Drago's Shazzrah "wouldn't let me heal!"), and while the mage and hunter held their own for a while, Drago eventually crushed them all with Rag's firey might.

He handed out a few booster packs as prizes anyway, and then sat down to talk with me about the WoW TCG that he promotes all over the country and the world, what player reaction has been like, and Upper Deck's event plans for Blizzcon and beyond.

Read more →

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Blizzard, Features, Interviews

Are loot drops really random?

If you've been to a few raids, there's no question that you've heard some interesting theories about loot distribution. The drops are determined by the precise time (to the second!) that the first player zones into the instance. Or perhaps the drops are determined by the class of the group leader. Or maybe by the first letter of the group leader's name. Does the current phase of the moon have something to do with it? Perhaps it's a little of all these things!

Trust me, I've heard every theory that's tried to make sense of what Blizzard constantly assures us are completely random loot drops. However, EU forum-goer Rooted came across a post by Blizzard employee Issuntril which stated:

There are many other variables which effect which items are going to drop. I'm afraid this is information not intended for the community however, and is not something I can comment further on.


Other variables, you say? So... loot isn't random? The conspiracy theorists were right all along?!

Read more →

Filed under: Items, Blizzard

What's in a name?

Last night over guild chat the subject of naming our characters arose. Someone asked exactly how we chose our character names. It's a pretty personal question, at least it is for me. Being a writer pretty much all my life, my player character names are mostly names from my writing. There are also those characters that have been created out of jokes, or as representations of their jobs like Donations. I've built character names out of thin air as well, mostly because I love character creation beyond all other things. Most of my characters' names are fantasy in nature since being a fantasy writer I tend to be a stickler on that sort of thing. But some of my characters have looser based names. My priest is named Mandie, for obvious reasons. My paladin I've called Vashlyra, which is a combination of my dogs' names. I once even had a gnome rogue named Runnt.

Perhaps that is part of why I love creating new characters so much. I get to give them a name, and infuse them with personality and back story. Every new character is a chance to rewrite the story, and each name is so important to me. But I am just one player in millions. I know my guild mates choose names differently. We have one player whose characters are all named variations of the same word. We have another who picks all his names from the random name generator. And yes, we are a guild populated mostly by alts, if you must know, so there are plenty of characters to name.

On the other hand, I have seen many, many names that I cannot stand. I have actually found a correlation between horrible players and those who named their characters by picking a cool word they like and tacking on the letter X at the end (CipherX, you know who you are.) On our server I have run into Linksys, Pallyman and my personal favorite Ooitsahamster. I have even seen some I cannot believe haven't been reported. Now while I am more of a name snob, I can see why people choose to have fun with their character's names. What I cannot see is playing a character with a ridiculous name until 70.

How do you choose your character names? Is it something tied to characters you have always played, or do you close your eyes and hit 'random?' What makes you connect with a name, or do you have no connection to it at all?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves

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