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Posts with tag ubrs

WoW Archivist: The keys to content

Karazhan entrance
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?

Keys in WoW have come in many forms. Some hang around our neck. Some hide in belts. Others open aircraft hangars or other, very special places. Some let us pretend to be rogues. Some never made it to the live game. Some we eat or play with. Some help us get the mail or reach new heights. We find some in unexpected places. A few are just trash.

This column is not about those keys. This is about the keys that used to be a Big Deal. The keys that people went to extraordinary lengths to obtain. The keys that put you on everyone's friends list. The keys to content.

Literal gates

Today, content is rarely locked. Players take it for granted that when a new dungeon or raid goes live, they will have immediate access. For the first half of WoW's history, however, this was not the case at all.

Vanilla WoW locked away virtually all of its end-game content. Raids required attunement, which means that every single person in your raid had to complete a certain quest line.

Keys worked differently. Content that required a key wasn't gated according to some arbitrary release schedule, such as the Heart of Fear -- but by actual gates.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

And the dungeons keep on shrinking

I've run the new Scarlet Monastery dungeons on the beta several times now. They're fun, well-designed, interesting dungeons. They are a bit jarring if you're familiar with the current Scarlet Monastery, however. The current four dungeons have been cut down to two, and it's been achieved by removing a lot of the long hallways full of trash pulls we're familiar with now. The Armory section of the new dungeon almost feels abrupt if you (like me) ran SM over and over again in the olden days of WoW.

It's not that the new dungeons are bad. They're objectively good, even great at places, with a good sense of the history of the place and call-backs to the classic dungeon.

They just feel kind of short to me. Smaller. Actually smaller, not in terms of the size of the hallways or anything but in terms of how much real estate they cover. And while I often rail against nostalgia, lately that sense of scale has been driving me to run older content not even to gather loot for transmog but just to see it, to look around at the scope and scale of the older dungeons.

Now, I don't want to pretend that these dungeons weren't often hideously irritating to run at the time. Getting a 5-man group all the way through Stratholme back when it was all one big, interconnected burning city full of undead and no one ever wanted to clear both sides wasn't anything but an exercise in learning colorful new metaphors as they spewed from your own mouth. You'd end up amazed you even knew the Basque term for that particular deviancy.

Still, there is something to be said for the epic scale of some of the older 5-man dungeons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Collecting Armor Sets: Dungeon set 2

For the longest time in vanilla World of Warcraft, players were content with collecting the dungeon set 1 pieces from Stratholme, Scholomance and Blackrock Spire. A purple item was a incredibly rare thing to see in the early days of WoW. It was a status symbol, a badge of pride for raiders who managed to band together to defeat Onyxia or brave the depths of Molten Core. With epic items soon came epic discontent, largely from casual players who either didn't have the time or the inclination to raid. As time went on and more raid dungeons were released, the complaining continued; players who were unable to dedicate the time needed to successfully complete a 40-man raid dungeon felt it was unfair that they could not obtain epic gear.

It was a valid complaint, but it took well over two years before Blizzard finally did something about it. About four months after the release of Ahn'Quiraj, Blizzard implemented Patch 1.10, "Storms of Azeroth." Among the fun changes like the introduction of weather in Azeroth and quest-experience-to-gold conversion at level 60, casual players finally received what they'd been asking for: a quest line that didn't require raiding and would allow them to upgrade their dungeon sets one into new ones that included epic gear. This set is called, appropriately enough, dungeon set 2.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, RP

Armor Set Collecting: Dungeon Set One

Set collecting is one of those things that you either love or hate -- either the thought of running around in old gear is curiously nostalgic, or you simply don't care to fill your bank with a lot of useless junk. With the introduction of Cataclysm, a lot of these old dungeon sets appear to be changing or disappearing entirely, making them a hot commodity for set collectors. Since a lot of players these days picked up the game in the BC or Wrath eras, not everyone knows where these pieces come from and how to get them.

The first of these sets is the Dungeon Set One. Obtained through various level 60 instances, these blue armor sets were the top of the top before the days of Molten Core and purples everywhere. Originally, these sets had very boring graphics, until a patch was implemented in which all sets got a shiny new graphics update. In the early days of vanilla, these sets were pretty much all players needed to farm for, and the +8 to all resistances that served as a set bonus for each was handy in places like Molten Core, which was nothing but a fun fire factory in which you wanted to stack as much fire resistance as possible. There are nine sets to collect, and each set is class-specific. All set pieces can be found in Stratholme, Scholomance and Blackrock Spire (both lower and upper).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, RP

Breakfast Topic: Your best instance run ever

I love instances. They're far and above my favorite part of the game -- I'm definitely a co-op PvE kind of player, and PvE instances are, to me, what's really great about MMOs: a group of players can sit down, and in an hour or a few hours, take down dragons, kill some monsters, and nab some epic loot.

And of course I've had lots of bad instance runs. But today we're not talking about good or bad -- we're talking about the best. What's the best instance run you've ever done? If "best" can be described by how much loot you get, then a recent Naxx run probably meets the criteria for me, as by the time we'd toppled Kel'thuzad as a raid, my Hunter had picked up at least four epic upgrades (and gained probably a good thousand DPS along with those). If "best" means most fun, I can think of some old UBRS runs back in the day in which every single one of us knew the instance and each other so well that we weren't so much fighting bad guys as just hanging out and telling jokes while picking up loot.

If "best" means most exciting, then I have to think back to BlizzCon a few years ago, where we got our first hands-on of Wrath of the Lich King. I went into Utgarde Keep for the first time ever with a few guys from the press room, and though we only made it to the first boss (and I don't think we even beat him), I was just so fascinated by all of the new stuff we were seeing, my first look at the Vykrul and the huge Forge in the entryway there. So "best" can mean anything -- what's your best instance run?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: What if achievements had existed in classic WoW?

One of our readers, Eli, wrote in last night with a suggestion for a Breakfast Topic: if achievements had existed in classic WoW, what would they have been? It provoked some back-channel discussion here with staffers wondering how the game would have been different if beating the boss or dungeon wasn't the only thing on your plate:

Me: What would a hard-mode Ragnaros have been like?

Adam Holisky: Kill Ragnaros using only one tank!

Eliah Hecht: Domo comes back from the dead and starts randomly sheeping raid members in revenge.

Other suggestions included killing Hakkar with all of his priests still up, hearthing with Hakkar's debuffs and infecting at least 500 players with Corrupted Blood (back when this was still possible, of course), killing at least 500 Dwarves without dropping combat in the Lyceum, the Stratholme timed run, and -- as Sacco suggested -- "getting through an UBRS run without (anyone) quitting." Having recently leveled a Shaman through this content, I can tell you that's one achievement I wouldn't have managed.

If you were back in classic WoW again with no chance of advancing beyond level 60 talents and gear, what would make for a worthwhile achievement?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Humor, Achievements

Theming the login page

Toussaint is exactly right -- this took me back. Way back to the original login screen and music, when level 60 was the max and everyone was running UBRS and the Plaguelands instances, and "heroic" was just something us players were. Even the Burning Crusade login screen, right, brings back some memories, of wandering around Hellfire Peninsula and raiding in Netherstorm. The roar of the frost wyrm we have now is nice and all, but sometimes we long for earlier days.

Which brought me to the question: what about a theme-switching system? There's no real reason the login screen has to be set to the current expansion -- while it's nice to have a new look to that interface every time we reinstall the program, there's nothing the new one really does that the old one couldn't. You'd think they'd be easy to change around, and if Blizzard just gave us a drop-down switcher in the options, we could choose whichever one we wanted.

Let's not forget, however, that their code is weird -- you wouldn't think that they'd hard-wire the new Battle.net login code to the newest login screen, but maybe they did something silly like that, which would probably mean we'll never see the "classic" login screen again. But still, if there's a way to do it, it would be nice to see that old portal and hear that rousing anthem yet again.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King

The Queue: Item level, attunements, and more


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 morning/afternoon/generic time of day, everyone! I don't have anything funny or interesting to say here, so let's skip that part and pretend that I did it! Yay! Now imagine there's a silly poll for you to vote in! Exclamation points! More exclamation points! Not enough exclamation points yet! We need more!

Okay, that's enough of them.

Erogroth asked...


"How exactly does item level work? From what I gather its almost like talent points for an item. So any item that is the same level should be about equal in how good it is. However often items of the same item level are no where near equal. So what's the deal?"

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

The Queue: Wrath's current raids and their difficulty


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.

Today's edition of The Queue is a little raid-centric with a heavy splash of opinion, just as a warning, starting with kevin's question...

There are currently only four raids in Wrath: Vault of Archavon, Naxx, The Obsidian Sanctum, and The Eye of Eternity. Later on Icecrown Citadel. Is that all? What other raids are to be include into Wrath?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, The Queue

15 Minutes of Fame: A guild of achievers


15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

So – achievements. They're a pretty neat concept for casual players as well as ... well, over-achievers. Fans of the upcoming new feature have already begun setting up for various achievements, farming rep, running old-school content and collecting gear and quest completions in preparation for the expansion's launch.

Among the high achievers is <Hells Fury> of Eonar-EU. "Unlike most guilds," writes officer Nerfs in a news tip to 15 Minutes of Fame, "it is not focused on raiding or PvP. We are instead focusing on the achievements that will be released with the pre-expansion patch and the expansion itself." Pretty cool idea for a bunch of folks with mixed-up schedules and piled-on work and school responsibilities! We visited with Nerfs yesterday to see how the guild is pulling it all together – and we have to admit, this sounds like a fun new way to play as a group.

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Filed under: Guilds, Features, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, 15 Minutes of Fame, Achievements

Scholomance to be revisited?

Everybody's favorite trash bin, Scholomance, might be getting a revisit by Blizzard. Late last week, CM Wryxian posted on the WoW Europe forums asking players for their thoughts on the expansion, and since then, people have given it a general thumbs up -- while Scholo has always had issues with too much trash in too cramped quarters (in fact, it was already revamped a few times to be tuned down -- it used to be a 10 man raid equal in difficulty to UBRS), players still frequent it, and they have really enjoyed the fact that it was a branching dungeon that had some pretty cool lore associated with it -- the story of Darkmaster Gandling and his school of Necromancy (and all the hot teachers there) is a good one.

Of course, what Blizzard might do with the instance, we have no idea -- at this point, it's soloable at 70, but it still does provide a great source of Argent Dawn rep, and there are actually a few epics dropping in there now. Maybe they'll revamp it like Naxx, or it'll be the first "old world" instance to be given a Heroic setting? Or maybe Blizzard is asking players what they think about the instance because they're thinking of cutting it -- in order to introduce some new leveling content in the Plaguelands. The fact that they're asking about it at all means that there must be something in store for Gandling's old school, but what that is, we have no idea.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Quests, Lore, NPCs

Cutting the Karazhan timer

Karazhan is getting beat into the ground nightly by almost everyone on the realms -- isn't it about time, asks Heavymetal from Sargeras, that Blizzard lowered the timer? It certainly seems like the time has almost come -- by the time the last expansion released, UBRS, which was basically the precursor to Karazhan, had no timer and was getting raided like crazy. All of the gear is going to be replaced anyway, and the attunement's been lifted -- why not let players go nuts on Medivh's old stomping grounds?

Bornakk closes the thread due to caps, but we'll play devil's advocate and try to answer for him: Badges. With Karazhan basically a knockover for even beginner guilds, the only way Blizzard has to control the flow of badges from there is to keep the instance on a timer. The Kara gear might get replaced, but some of the Badge gear has to last for a while, and while Heroics do grant Badges (they're on a timer as well), Kara hands out more of them for free than those old ladies with meat on toothpicks at the grocery store.

Still, in Wrath we're probably looking at an all new Badge system, so you'd think Blizzard might as well open the floodgates at some point. Whether it'll be before or after the next expansion, though, we have no idea.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding

[1.Local]: Readers talk back

[1.Local] serves up a smattering of reader comments from the past week, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Readers put their heads together on all sorts of topics this week: the basics of tanking, the lore (or lack thereof) behind Deathknights from every race as well as Deathknight profession leveling, and a long thread on add-ons readers crave.

Readers also talked about the recent world-first raiding accomplishments – who cares, and who doesn't? Readers on both sides of the coin came together in a round of applause for SK's Kil'jaeden kill video. Readers got into a scramble again over the age-old issue of age, before finally uniting to reminisce about unconventional dungeon runs.

Be sure to dive into the comments area of each thread (not this one!) and add your own thoughts – unlike your mama, we like us some hot, fresh backtalk.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Add-Ons, Features, Death Knight, [1.Local]

Breakfast Topic: Repeat visits

Seeya from Dethecus has an interesting question for us to answer this Saturday morning: What's the total number of times you've visited the instance you've seen the most of?

Most guilds raided Molten Core many, many times to gear up everyone that needed it, and back at 60, I spent many weekends plowing through the lava packs down there. I've also run Shadow Labs many, many times since BC dropped, and Steam Vaults and the Arcatraz have also seen me go through quite a few times. Nowadays, Karazhan is probably getting the most traffic, although the cooldown on it probably keeps people going through there as often as they'd like. And don't forget lowbie instances-- I've been through SM and Deadmines on every character at least a few times.

But for me, the instance I've been through the most times overall is definitely UBRS. There were days, when I first hit 60, when we would run it twice a day. I've tanked it, healed it, and DPSed it. I've learned it, taught it, marked it, master looted it, done every quest in there and seen every drop. I've seen a hunter pull Drakk, a Mage pull Drakk, a Warrior tank them all, and even seen a Rogue do the pull. I can't count the number of times I've seen Eviscerate IX drop, and at one point, I could probably list off both all the pulls and Rend and Nef's dialogue to you-- without being near a computer. UBRS is my instance, and I'd put my runs through there at almost 100.

So what's the instance you've run the most, and how many times have you been through?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Raiding

"The Karazhan mistake"

AFK Gamer's got a great post up about what he calls "The Karazhan Mistake." At BlizzCon, and now in Leipzeig, Blizzard has been patting themselves on the back for the 10man raid of Karazhan-- it's clearly the most popular raid in the expansion (does that have anything to do with the fact that it's the first raid most guilds do?), and so they say the 10man raid idea of theirs is the bomb. Along with the new Zul'Aman, we can expect to see more 10mans in Wrath of the Lich King.

But AFK says they've learned the wrong lesson. While Karazhan is definitely popular, creating a 10man raid in the guild progression path (remember, UBRS didn't start as a 10man, and it wasn't really a progression instance) was a mistake. It's more or less where all the guild drama and frustration in the expansion has come from-- guilds with only 10 people are rare and far between, and so most guilds have to schedule and run multiple raid IDs just to get everyone through there. And now (eight months after the expansion has dropped), while most guilds have finally got Karazhan (and all that raid coordination) down pat, they're dealing with another problem: beefing back up to 25 for the rest of the raids. Blizzard's making guilds jump through all these hoops, and deal with all of this group A/B drama, and they're citing Karazhan as a success?

AFK's solution is a simple one: lower the cooldown on raid IDs. (His other solution is to have raid IDs be guildwide, but letting only 10 people in a guild run Karazhan weekly is a terrible idea.) That would more or less take the raid out of progression (in essence, turn it into UBRS), and let you go there whenever you had 10 people ready and willing, leaving the real raiding to the 25 mans.

Personally, I love Karazhan. It's a great dungeon with some cool bosses and lore, and Blizzard's right: it's how raids should be done. It's just too bad that, by creating a great 10 man in a world full of 25 man raids, they caused guilds (especially guilds just starting to raid) so much trouble.w

[ via Mystic Worlds ]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding

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