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WoW Archivist: What has never changed?

Party fights a dragon
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

With WoW's tenth anniversary fast approaching, one thing is clear: virtually everything in this game has been changed, updated, or replaced at one time or another. The UI, the stats, character creation, raid systems, class abilities, questing -- all have undergone necessary overhauls to keep the game relevant and modern. A question for the Queue last month asked a very interesting question: What in WoW has never, ever changed?

You might think so, but no

Many aspects of the game seem like they have never changed, but they have.

The act of gathering: Sure, Blizzard added bonuses to the professions in Wrath such as the crit bonus for skinning or the HoT from herbalism. And as of Cataclysm, you can now earn XP by gathering. Gathering no longer requires tools. Yet the fundamental mechanics have always been the same: you right click stuff, get the stuff, and skill up so you can click on better stuff. Right?

Back in classic, gathering actually had a chance to fail. Orange difficulty nodes would not cough up their resources to anyone who wandered past with the minimum required skill. Failing three or four times on a node before a successful gathering attempt was not unheard of.

This led to some interesting "PvP" gathering scenarios, even on PvE realms. If two players converged on the node, the first to click it didn't necessarily get the goods. This situation sometimes led to a hilarious "duel" in which both players failed at gathering over and over again. It became a matter of luck, persistence, and rapid clicking. Mining was especially bad, because it used to take multiple strikes to clear out a node. Two players could spend minutes trying to outmine each other on a single rock.

Racial bonuses, enchantments, and items that boosted gathering skills all mattered much more, not just to save time from the failed attempts, but to beat other players to the punch.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

GuildOx debuts specialization tracking for PvP and PvE

GuildOx debuts specialization tracking for PvP and PvE
Are you ever curious as to which specs are the most popular for raiding or PvP? Well, GuildOx has you covered. Both for PvE and PvP in fact. There's a lot of interesting things to pull out of this data. For starters, just looking at the PvP data, where are the rogues? Seeing rogues so low in PvP (an area they've dominated as recently as Cataclysm) is kind of a shocker. Frost mages, shadow priests, arms warriors, beast mastery hunters and frost DK's are the most dominant non-healing specs in PvP right now.

Over on the PvE side of the fence, (drawn from the top 5% of raiding characters) we see that Blood DK's and Guardian Druids are the most popular raid tanks, but that all tank classes are fairly close together save for brewmaster monks. I don't know why but clearly they're not taking off as tanks yet, perhaps due to entrenchment. Most raids tend towards established tanks, after all. For DPS classes, fire mages and shadow priests are the most popular, followed by beast mastery hunters and affliction warlocks. This is interesting when contrasted with the actual state of DPS classes in normal and heroic raiding atm. Rogues are interestingly split between assassination and combat, keeping them from challenging any of these classes. As for healing, restoration shamans and druids and holy paladins seem to be on top, but discipline priests look strong as well, with mistweaver monks trailing behind.

You can head over to GuildOx and dig around for yourself.


Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

New Blizzard support site lets you track, edit, and update your GM tickets

Submitting a GM ticket has always been sort of an arcane process -- you're not really sure where your ticket goes, or to who, or what steps have been taken to resolve your particular issue. It's a pain! Thankfully, it's always been a long-term goal of the support department to demystify and improve the support process for players, and Blizzard has unveiled a big new step in that direction: a new support website.

What's so great about it? Well, it collects all lines of communication for support in one place and attempts to provide automated help for your request where applicable, while you wait for a representative. The biggest improvement, though, is that the site lets you track the progress of your support requests. This includes tech support emails, billing inquiries, and yes, GM tickets. You can edit your ticket while it's in the queue, track it, and even update your ticket and place it back in queue after it's been closed if you feel it wasn't addressed properly.

The full text of Blizzard's announcement is after the cut.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Tips on using Recount for tanks and others

Just in case you missed this excellent post about how to use Recount to its full potential (we also snuck it in our Daily Quest column a little while back), it's definitely worth a look. Most players just use Recount to check their own damage numbers, but as 4 Haelz points out, there's definitely a lot more to it than just that. Not only can it be used to examine overall output on fights and instances, but you can use it as a tool to monitor what kinds of spells are producing the most for you, and how your damage or healing output changes over time. You can also have it track who you've healed the most, or which targets you've really gone to town on, and you can then make adjustments to your play style from there.

Now, Honor's Code has another great post about the addon, this one specifically for tanks. Recount will actually let you bring up a "Death Report" feature that will allow you, as a tank, to suss out exactly what went wrong on that last wipe, whether it was something you were late on, or whether your teammates should have done something that they didn't. You can even broadcast that Death Report, so you can show the person at fault (of course you have to be tactful with this -- you have to make sure the person you're "correcting" understands that you're just trying to get better, not attacking them) exactly what happened and when.

Recount is such an excellent addon, and so many of us just use the top level functions of watching the meters (sometimes to the point where it isn't helpful at all). But used in the right way, Recount provides a treasure trove of information on what you've done during a boss fight, and how you can make yourself and the rest of your raid even better.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Odds and ends, Add-Ons, Raiding, Bosses

Zarkmark tries to help you rate PuG players

There have been a number of sites lately, especially with the recent rise in endgame pickup groups, designed to help you find and examine potential PuGgers quickly. But none of them have made it quite as easy as Zarkmark, a site that allows you to quickly rate anybody you come across ingame by "zarking" (rating them up) or "marking" (rating them down) them. Then, they offer a quick search, which will not only give you a one-click link to the Armory, but an easy-to-read screen of how many people have rated the player you're looking at. Theoretically, ninjas will never find a group again.

Of course, theory is theory, and right now, the Zarkmark directory is pretty empty, so odds are that for any given player you look up, you won't really get much feedback. But you never know -- if players jump in and populate the site (and it wouldn't help to have a little help from them -- instead of just an Armory link, it would be nice to see a player's gear and achievements right there on the page), we might eventually get a pretty accurate picture of what someone's reputation looks like.

In fact, I'm a little surprised that Blizzard hasn't ever considered a reputation system in-game. Xbox Live carries one off pretty well -- even though I've never actually used it to consider who I do and don't play against, I have rated players and I know it's very easy to see scores if I wanted to. Given the rising numbers of VoA ninjas and PuGing in general, it might be worth it for them to give each player a socially-created rating in the LFG interface.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances

WoW-Achievements.com starts tracking achievements as best they can

You knew this was coming, but I'm impressed with how it's done over on WoW-Achievements.com. With points to track and players to compare, it was inevitable that we'd have a site show up to track achievements, and here it is. While the Armory itself doesn't show individual achievements (yet), they've apparently come up with a way to figure out a number per player, and there's a worldwide player list (or at least a list of the 53, 901 characters they surveyed somehow). You can also post a pic of your achievement info, and they'll update it on the site. There's no way to see your individual stats yet, but if and when Blizzard adds that functionality to the Armory, we'll probably see a couple of sites show up like this, that allow you to do more with achievements and tracking them than the official UI does.

Of course, the Xbox 360 is the gold standard for achievements at this point -- while other MMOs and WoW have used the mechanic in their own way, Microsoft has built achievements into Xbox 360 profiles available online to anyone, so that's where most of the great web tools are right now. But the one that stands out for me, that I'd love to see replicated in World of Warcraft, is 360voice.com -- it basically creates a blog of what you've been up to on the Xbox that presents your activity in a readable, fun format. With Achievements build into the Armory, something like that could be easily used to power a timeline of your character, and let your friends see from day to day where you've been and what you've done. Lots of very cool ideas to develop here -- hopefully Blizzard will release Achievement info in an API sooner rather than later.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Achievements

Ask a Beta Tester: Attunements, achievements, more low level quests


Welcome to another edition of Ask a Beta Tester, wherein we all sit around, drink ale, smoke cigars, talk about our awesome hogs and then tear up the road of Dalaran, risking our lives with extreme stunts just for the thrill and the feeling of adrenaline flowing through our veins.

...Wait, that's not what we do at all.

Swiss
asked...

I'm interested in the Low Level Quest Tracker. Does this replace other trackers such as Find Herbs or Find Minerals? Or does it stack with other tracking as well?

It does not stack with other tracking, but you generally wouldn't need both at once. Turn it on in town, grab your quests, turn your other tracking back on when you leave. That'll be problematic for finding low level quests out in the wilds, but does your level 80 Death Knight need that Peacebloom while you're off looking for quests?

Read on for more of your Wrath of the Lich King Beta questions!

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Filed under: Mounts, Wrath of the Lich King

Ask a Beta Tester: Murlocs, mounts, and minimaps

You want mounts? We got mounts. Just waltz on through the intimidating portal above flanked by deadly drakonids, and they're giving em out like candy! Actually, no, I'm lying. Kind of. Locke asked...

Any word on new flying mounts or anything like that?


A little, but not a lot. We're not seeing a cornucopia of mounts yet. The ones we have seen are pretty cool, though. As I mentioned yesterday in my post on the Obsidian Sanctum, they're running with the design of Zul'Aman and offering mounts as special rewards from completing 'extra challenges' in raid zones.

The Obsidian Sanctum offers up a Black Drake Mount for completing the special challenge in the 10 man version, and it seems you get a Twilight Drake from the 25 man version, but I haven't seen that personally. Either way, these drakes are pretty hard to get, at least at first. They're not quite giving them out for nothing. Other colors of drake mounts have been datamined, but we haven't seen them drop yet.

For more answers to your beta questions, read on!

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Filed under: Mounts, Wrath of the Lich King

Tracking alts officially within the guild interface

It's been almost a full year since I last saw this brought up, and we still haven't seen anything from Blizzard on it. Eric over on WoW LJ brings up the issue of tracking alts within a guild. As we found out last time, most people just use guild notes (or helpful addons) to keep track of whose alt is whose inside a guild, and it works OK -- assuming people are up front about when they're logging in on another toon.

But still, it seems like an official interface would work much better. And especially considering that Blizzard is actually going to start encouraging alts as a part of the gameplay (you have to have a character at least 55 on the account to start up a Death Knight, and there are rumors that alts will benefit from reputation grinds as well), it seems like they might be interested in making the connection between characters on the account a little more obvious.

And as we said last time, there are benefits to the guild as well -- you never know when that lowbie leveling through Westfall might actually have a Death Knight ready to tank for you. I'm still not sure about marking alts in the Armory, but if you join up to a guild, I'd think guilds should have the right to know, officially, who's an alt of whom.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Alts, Death Knight

Hunter changes in 2.4

When information began to trickle down about patch 2.4, hunters, like most classes, were groaning. Which nerf bat would we be hit with next? Fortunately, it seems that we have slipped under the radar. For now. Maybe Aspect of the Beast finally did us some good.

Let's break down the changes and see how this is going to be affecting us. With no major patches between now and Wrath, we might be living with these changes for awhile.

Bug fixes:
  1. Equipping a thrown weapon while in the middle of an Auto-Shot will no longer cause animation issues. Since no one likes animation issues, I'm filing this under "win." Not that I've ever tried to equip a thrown weapon while already shooting, mind you.
  2. Casting Flare while in any way not visible, will no longer cause your flare to be invisible to other players. To me, this sounds fair. Also, I want to be invisible. Rogues can, so why not hunters? Right? No?
  3. Hunter's Mark: Hunters with Improved Hunter's Mark will now properly overwrite Hunter's Mark cast by Hunters without the talent. This used to be, but then was not. Now, it will be again. While it might rub your ego the wrong way always reading the message "a more powerful spell is already active," it is better for overall DPS this way.
  4. The stamina tooltip for hunter pets will now display the proper health increase. Personally, I find that most of my tooltips on most of my characters do not reflect the changes made by my talent points. At least one more will appear correctly, and I will try not to be sad about the others.
  5. Hunters will no longer spin around if they cast Aimed Shot or Steady Shot while facing away from their target. So this was a nice little bug we had for awhile, but let's face it; it wasn't fair. It also doesn't help the "huntard" image any when hunters are caught whining that now, we will have to learn to actually face our targets; and that's just too hard. What does this mean you ask? Do note that these are our two channeled shots, and as such, if another player sees us channeling, they need only run around us far enough to interrupt the channel. Prior to 2.4, we would have spun with the runner.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Classes, Talents, Buffs

Details on the new minimap tracking system

In addition to letting us know about the new hunter pets in Patch 2.3, Mania's Arcania (of Petopia fame) has also written up a pretty detailed explanation of how the new minimap tracking system works, with helpful screenshots and everything. We've mentioned this before, but now here are some of the new details she has uncovered for us:
  • The "!" and "?" quest-giver symbols now show up on the minimap very clearly.
  • Clicking on the new magnifying glass button gives you a list of all the different things you can track, including existing tracking abilities, as well as places to repair, buy ammo, aucions, banks, and so on.
  • Flight Masters you haven't met yet will always show up, whether you are tracking them or not.
  • Quest-givers' "!" symbols disappear from the minimap if their quest is too low-level for you (which is too bad if you are going back for more reputation).
  • For hunters: the various creature-tracking abilities now distinguish between neutral and hostile mobs, via yellow and red dots, respectively.
  • Special tracking-assistant addons like Gazmik Fizzwidget's famous TrackMenu may no longer be needed.

Filed under: Hunter, Odds and ends, Quests

Insider Trader: Here, fishy-fishy ...

Insider Trader is your weekly inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

Amid all the hubbub over impending patch 2.3 changes, crafters could conceivably feel a little left out – that is, unless you're a fisher. Fishers (who tend to be a pretty chill crew, anyway) are already contentedly casting their lines with several small but relatively pleasing changes from patch 2.2. Newly announced improvements for patch 2.3 broadened those placid smiles into all-out grins as fishers anticipate a smoother, more user-friendly fishing experience.

Already in place is a fix to the problem introduced in patch 2.1, in which the bobber timing at the end of a cast period was preventing all but the quickest clickers from landing a catch. In the same line of Not Earthshattering But Basically Sweet™ changes, fishing lines now appear as you cast them, saving lots of time when you're waiting on schools. And the tool tip for the Aquadynamic Fish Attractor has been officially changed to indicate its new 10-minute duration, so fishers can quit losing sleep over whether or not the duration was an unintended buff they'd find whisked away some cold morning on the shores of Azshara.

What's ahead for fishing in 2.3, after the jump.

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Filed under: Fishing, Tips, Insider Trader (Professions)

AddOn Spotlight: Fizzwidget's Trackmenu

Do you suffer from buttonitus? (I'm amused that word didn't trip a spell-check alert.) Symptoms of this dreaded disease include having more spells and abilities than you have buttons, exploring assorted action bar add-ons that allow you to have more buttons than the default UI, and overall general frustration. Although this plague is not limited to a single class in World of Warcraft, hunters in particular have it worse than most.

In addition to the usual combat abilities, the shots, the traps, and whatever other profession-based buttons a hunter may have setup they have an added burden: tracking skills. I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that nobody can track as many different kinds of things as hunters, especially if the hunter is a miner or herbalist as well, or even a dwarf.

So, listen to me hunters (and others). Look at your action bars and all the tracking skills you have hot-keyed there. Now describe to me in a hundred words or less (in the comments section if you wish) the happy dance you will launch into if you could reclaim each and every one of those buttons and use them for something else. Allow me to introduce you to Fizzwidget's Trackmenu.

Installation of the add-on could not be simpler. Simply open it in your archiver of choice and extract the folder into your \Addons folder as per usual. Then launch World of Warcraft and look where the tracking indicator used to be on your mini-map. In it's place is the Trackmenu button. Click this button, and a list of all your tracking skills will drop down allowing you to make a selection. Unless there are some you want to hot-key you can now safely remove all your tracking abilities from action bars.

Enjoy one of my absolute favourite add-ons. You can look forward to further reviews of other Fizzwidget products in the future. He's got what you need!

Filed under: Dwarves, Hunter, Herbalism, Mining, Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

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