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Scattered Shots: It ain't over till it's over


Scattered Shots occasionally wanders around collecting arrows and bullets when they totally miss the target.

The key to understanding hunters in the beta is to look at the big picture. This is something affecting all classes currently, but I'm going to discuss it in relation to hunters in particular. Beta testing buffs and nerfs ultimately come down to a matter of perspective -- do you see your class changes happening in isolation, for now and forever as long as you and your pet shall live? Or are your particular class changes happening as part of an ever-evolving system involving you, me and everyone else over time?

As you've probably heard, hunters got some nerfs in the latest beta update, and some people are understandably upset about them. I'm not worried about it though -- and now I'll tell you why.

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Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Expansions, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Beta patch possible today with changes to XP, Storm Peaks, and premade characters

According to Tigole, Blizzard will "try to patch" the Wrath of the Lich King beta today. Storm Peaks will open back up and should not crash the sever. No word yet if Naxx will be introduced in this patch. The servers should be up between 4:30 p.m. PDT and 6:30 p.m. PDT.

The XP required to level will also be reduced by 10% this beta patch. Things should go faster for all you playing around with leveling.

Finally, there will be a new beta realm opening up named Murmur. Tigole mentioned that the premade characters should not have been made available on the existing realms. He tells us that "they are being removed." There is no indication as to whether or not current premade characters will be moved to the new realm or just outright deleted.

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast topic: Why should you be in the Beta?

Not long ago Blizzard opened up the expansion content to selected friends and family. We've had a few days to sign up for the Wrath of the Lich King beta test. Blizzard has made it clear that assignment in the Beta test that aside from a better chance of selection among* World Wide Invitational attendees, the beta testers will be selected by a random lottery. But what is it that makes a good beta tester?

I've entered twice for the Beta, as I have two accounts. I'm not sure how many participants will be selected, but I really hope I get in. If I wasn't with WoW Insider, I probably would avoid the beta. I'm rather in favor of delicious surprised once the expansion is actually released. Recent iterations of the Public Test Realm have invited everyone to come and play. Many have taken that challenge to see nifty, new gear and test new mechanics. Blizzard has proven open to feedback through progressive testing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

Test the loot items on the PTR

We've never seen this one before, but then again, we've never seen a loot item as complicated as that Ethereal Soul-trader before. Blizzard wants to test those new Upper Deck loot items on the PTR, so if you go Landro Longshot in Booty Bay on the test realm only, you can input special test codes for each of the new items: 1111 for the Path of Illidan item, 2222 for the D.I.S.C.O. ball, and 3333 for the one everyone wants: the Ethereal Soul-trader.

The only news coming off of the PTR is that the disco ball object still has the placeholder tag on it ("[PH] Disco ball"), which means the name might be a little more formalized when it actually appears on the live realms. But this testing might answer one of the more pressing questions we've got about the Soul-trader -- we already know that any player (not just the one who summoned it) can exchange the "Etherium" currency that you use to buy items off of the vendor, but does that mean that any players who kill mobs that give experience or honor near the trader can gain currency, or only the person who summoned?

We'd assume that everyone can do it -- in that sense, getting this card is really like opening up a special vendor rather than just getting all the trader's items for yourself. And there's one more bit of news we can take from this: since these cards are going into stores on July 1st, we'll very likely see patch 2.4.3 on the live realms before then. To the PTR!

Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Items, Fan stuff, Blizzard

Testing strategy reading abilities, Part I

Everyone reading this site knows that it's pretty important to read strategies for the various boss encounters in WoW. No matter if they're from Boss Killers, our own Ready Check, long threads over at Elitist Jerks, or home made modifications, studying boss fights outside of the game is essential to success.

However sometimes it's kind of hard to tell if everyone is actually spending the 15 minutes to read over and understand the strategies outside of the raid. This is particularly troublesome for the raid leaders and officers, since some of the fights can be very hard to explain without first having an understanding of where and what things look like.

We're having this problem in our guild right now. Not that big of a problem, granted, but it's still something we'd like to get better at. So last night our guild master made a map of the Kalecgos play field, detailing where everyone should stand (I know that some readers will comment that it's not necessary, but it's what works for us). In the bottom right hand corner there's a derogatory yet funny message about yours truly, something along the lines of a suggested act I can go do to/with myself. It's obvious, it's funny, and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Tonight the GM will go around and ask each of the 35 or so raiders we have in the guild, "What was out of place on the strategy map I posted today?" If they can't answer correctly, they won't be raiding with us again anytime soon.

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Filed under: Raiding, Guides

PTR goes up

Usually Blizzard is pretty definitive when they take something down. However today they've decided to take down the PTR (Public Test Realm) in the morning, and then put it back up early tonight. I'm reminded of a recent Simpsons episode I watched where Homer is sitting in his hospital bed awaiting a heart bypass surgery and goes "Bed goes up, bed goes down. Bed goes up, bed goes down." PTR goes down, PTR goes up.

All of these announcements come from the same person, Hortus, so it's not an issue of him being confused or anything (unless the whirly jig in his head has gotten to him). Hortus does tell us that they've put it up for "some additional testing," which really isn't a surprise given it's a test realm.

This probably means that patch 2.4.2 won't go live tomorrow if there is maintenance. Once we know more we'll post and keep you updated.

Filed under: Patches, News items

PTR is closed

Hortus just posted that the PTR server for patch 2.4.2 has been taken down, and that the PTR phase for the patch has ended. This is a strong indicator that patch 2.4.2 is on its way soon, perhaps during some expected maintenance tomorrow.

Take a look at the official and un-official notes for a comprehensive look at what will change. Nothing in the patch is game-breaking, in my opinion, but there are some nice changes. Some of the major highlights include:
  • Changes to the way arena points are calculated.
  • Void Shatter no longer has a cooldown, and other cooldowns have been reduced.
  • If you are sheeped / polymorphed by a mob, you will no longer gain back health (ie: the mass sheep in Aran, which regens your health before he fire blasts the raid).
  • Many main hand weapons are now one hand weapons.
WoW Insider will carry the latest on the patch, including as soon as we know when it's set to go live. Stay tuned!

Edit 3:24 p.m. EDT: It should be noted that the final version of the patch notes have not been released yet, however they are usually close to what the PTR patch notes are.

Filed under: Patches, News items

Patch 2.4.2 notes released

Blizzard has released tonight the patch notes for patch 2.4.2, which means the PTR will probably be up and running sometime soon. Patch 2.4 will likely be the last major patch before Wrath of the Lich King, and we expect to see a couple more of these minor patches before WotLK comes out.

Highlights of 2.4.2 include:
  • Changes to the way arena points are calculated - essentially what Drysc talked about earlier.
  • Void Shatter no longer has a cooldown, and other cooldowns have been reduced.
  • Illidan will no longer despawn if a raid wipes during his death speech.
  • If you are sheeped / polymorphed by a mob, you will no longer gain back health (ie: the mass sheep in Aran, which regens your health before he fire blasts the raid). This is a potentially large change.
  • Many main hand weapons are now one hand weapons.
  • A good list of bug fixes, including several problems associated with sounds.
Full patch notes for your convenience after the break!

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Filed under: Patches, News items

Development servers in live?

With the game updated to patch 2.4, and the servers "scheduled" (I use the term loosely) to come online in 15 minutes, I'm presented with a nice little server selection box when I log in. Complete with a new location (Blizzard's catogorization, not mine) to choose: "Development."

What is this?

When clicking the name I'm not seeing anything different. It still shows the realms off line. In fact, it's the only option. Now my memory isn't completely clear here, as it's something I've always just clicked on, but for my U.S. account the options there have always been "United States" and "Oceanic." So what's this new tag about? The only time I've seen this has been on the PTR.

I have a few guesses.

First, and quite likely the most plausible explanation, is that it is an artifact of the servers being upgraded. Blizzard takes the servers down, the put them into a special mode, and they update them as needed. That could be all this tag is about.

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Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

PTR is up and running


Good evening ladies and gentlemen (cue the WoW Insider Show intro music). For tonight's entertainment, I present to you a fully functional PTR – complete with Sunwell Plateau and lots of goodies to play around with. Well, at least it's evening if you're up with me at 3:00 a.m. when I'm posting this.

But even if you're not a night owl, now is probably your last chance to head over to the PTR and test out all the goodness that is patch 2.4. Blizzard had shut it down until now, possibly to just test out one or two other things before releasing the patch soon. My bet is still on March 25th. I have no little birdie in my ear saying that's a for sure thing, but I just have this gut feeling I'm right. If you've participated in the guess the release date contest, you might be under a week away from winning a nice 60 day game card.

I had to apply a couple of patches when logging onto the game tonight. It only took about 10 minutes though. Not too bad. We've looked over the patch notes and in-game items and can't find anything different – although perhaps there are some changes we're overlooking. However with that said, often times Blizzard will make the "undocumented" changes on the PTR right before they release the live patch. Who knows what those are...

Happy PTRing!

Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Realm Status, News items

PTR is down, TTR is up

Hortus, the spinning whirly jig wearing gnome, announced on the forms today that the PTR will be closed until further notice. This closure is in order to encourage more people to test out the TTR, which will remain open for the time being.

This is important news. First, it signifies that Blizzard is at least comfortable in stopping the testing of PvE content. This might not be the best news for those that were still engaged in PTR activities; or for those that think there are still serious concerns regarding the content and class changes. We might be seeing the Druid Cyclone nerf stay.

Secondly, we can infer that the two stress tests they've held might not have been everything they wanted. If they're asking for more testing we can make an educated guess that Blizzard either did not see the kind of numbers they were hoping for, or they have made additional server changes that warrant additional tests. Judging from the lack luster stress test that went on Wednesday night, I'm leaning towards the former as being the reason for the change.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items

Wednesday Night Live!

Blizzard is at it again and so are we! We'll be live blogging the stress test event part deux tonight, on the scene with both Alliance and Horde characters. Be sure to give a /wave to any "Insider" you see walking around. We'll be trying to stay where the action is – be it in arena's attempting to best our own 8-1 record, or watching the GMs hand out more 'phat lewts'.

Right now the server is up and running, quite smoothly actually. Keep an eye out here and we'll keep you updated with the latest!

Check out after the break for all the action.

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Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Events, Realm Status, PvP

WoW Insider at the Stress Test, Part Deux

What? Stress Test, Part Deux
Who? Blizzard CMs, GMs, Devs, and the WoW Insider Arena Team
Where? Tournament Test Server
When? Tonight at 5:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m, PST

Got all that? Good. Drysc announced last night Blizzard will be holding another round of stress testing on the tournament test realm. Why? Because they want more attention. I for one, am going to give it to them. In fact, WoW Insider will again have a crew on the server covering all the action. We'll all be hopping around on toons named like "Insideradam", "Insideralex", and "Insiderzach". So be sure to drop by and say hello again!

If you missed the last stress test, it was a ton of fun. We have a huge gallery of screen shots of just about everything you could want to see. Blizzard devs were there handing out mounts, chicken and gnome costumes, and even teleporting the WoW Insider staff away for some quite alone time with a Brutallus disguised Englewood.

If you're lucky enough to see us, just give us a /wave or a /hug and we'll try to snap a screen shot with you for our upcoming Stress Test Part Deux gallery. We'll also be live blogging all the activity on the TTR during the event, so even if you can't make it - you can still see what's happening. Our live blog is also a really good place to check and see if the server is up or down.

See you on all over there!

Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Events, Blizzard, News items, PvP

Englewood poses, and the live coverage wraps up


Englewood, a GM on the Tournament Test Realm, poised for some pictures today with the WoW Insider Arena Team covering the event. We were all pretty psyched to find us all teleported right outside Dalaran, with Englewood, to pose for some pics. He was in his Brutallus getup, and was lookin' pretty sweet.

Thanks Englewood!

It looks like the Blizzard staff is dwindling down on the TTR, and I've got a raid to run off to in 30 minutes. So while our live coverage is wrapping up, expect to see lots more commentary and analysis over the next few days.

And of course, the best part of the day for all of us was all you fans - I was getting so many tells at points I couldn't keep up! Thanks for saying hello!

Filed under: Events, News items

Stress test live blog

We've been preparing for the stress test, are mostly gemmed and enchanted up, and are looking to fight! I'll be updating this post as things happen, hopefully with riveting tales of victory and triumph over Alliance Care Bears. (Kidding of course, my main is an Human warrior.)

Read on after the break for the updates! We'll keep this front page only for things that are affecting everyone.

Updated 5:23 p.m. PST: Live blogging wrapped up for the day. Many many thanks to all the fans and GMs out there! It was a great day with lots of cool stuff happening. More analysis over the next couple days!

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Events, News items, PvP, Mounts, Arena

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