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MMO Roundup: Last week on Massively

Sometimes you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all MMOs, including WoW! Check out this roundup of the latest news from the wider MMO world.
Champions Online Press NDA lifts: See our impressions
This last weekend, press had the opportunity to spend my time within the Champions Online beta. After playing more than I would safely recommend, I bring you my personal takeaway in an effort to get out as much crunchy information goodness on the upcoming MMO as possible.
Five free to play MMOs that are ahead of the class
Times are tough, the wallet is tight, and you still need a game to play. But what free games can you wrap your hands around that just don't suck, right? That seems to be the trouble with free to play games -- many selections all with very low quality. But the market is not as bad as you might think. There are certainly some gems out there in the free to play market, just waiting for you to wrap your hands around them and play. Finding them however, hasn't always been easy, until now.
Massively's post-launch interview with Free Realms
Free Realms has launched, the floodgates have been opened and the servers have multiplied like little fluffy bunnies. Despite a slight delay, the launch's feedback has been predominantly positive. Not only is this rare for an MMO launch these days, considering the factors, but it's also a testament to the team involved.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Features

Player reactions to dual specs

Just in case you haven't been following what people have been saying about the dual spec system lately, Slashhug has a terrific post up covering all of the concerns and thoughts about the new system and how it will affect groups and raids. It's long, but he covers all of the bases, from how hybrids with two specs will affect which players get chosen for groups, to loot and how that will work (the same -- main specs first, offspecs if needed), and even soloing and why dual specs will be a blessing for classes who are normally built more for group play.

There's not a lot of new complaints or answers in here -- lots of it has already been discussed on the forums and in our own posts. But Slashhug does a great job of wrapping it all up into one big tasty dual spec sandwich, so you can catch up on all the thinking about dual specs so far. The bottom line, in terms of player reaction, is that dual specs will allow you to do more with your class than you can with just one spec. If you want to heal, you can still heal, or if you're built for tanking, you can still do that. But in groups where things don't quite fit (you've got a few tanks and your DPS is a little low, or your Priest could use a little extra help healing for this boss fight), dual specs will let you make the necessary tweaks right then and there, and excel that much more.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Classes, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Tuesday morning at WoW Insider

It's Tuesday morning and the hamsters that run the servers are being fed by Blizzard, which means all the realms are down for extended maintenance until at least 11:00 a.m. PDT. There is no patch 2.4.2 to look forward to when the servers go back up this afternoon, but that might not be that bad of a thing. Usually patch days mean add-on trouble and serious server stability issues. Those spell disaster for anyone expecting to enjoy the evening.

While the servers are offline, go ahead and get your WoW fix from us! We've got a few dandy articles to entice you and keep your WoW addiction in full swing.
  • Take a look at the official and unofficial patch notes for patch 2.4.2. Highlights include reduced cooldown timers, changes in the hand specifications of some weapons, and new polymorphing mechanics.
  • A talented rogue was able to tank the seventh boss in the Black Temple, Mother Shahraz, by stacking insane amounts of avoidance and agility. Take a look at the video of the encounter, definitely worth watching if you have a minute.
  • SK-Gaming killed M'uru (the next-to-last boss in the Sunwell Plateau) over the weekend. M'uru dropped some nice loot for them. Check out what they got in their world first kill.
  • Did you know Blizzard launched a new and improved online store? The best part about it is that if you buy something, you can click a little check box that gives you a chance to be selected to participate in a beta. I ordered a tee-shirt over the weekend, and have my fingers crossed that I'll get in a certain beta test pretty soon (I could care less about the tee-shirt, naturally).
  • Sean Forsgren recently profiled one of my favorite add-ons, Dr. Damage. It's a great tool that gives you very useful statistics about all your spells in the form of extended tooltips. Take a minute to look into it now, and get it all downloaded and setup for when the servers come back online later today.
When the severs do come back online, WoW Insider will let you know. Hopefully there won't be any major stability issues tonight, but if there are, we'll be covering that too. Enjoy your downtime!

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status

Tuesday morning maintenance

Sometimes I feel like Blizzard chooses a handful of random servers to Ice Block every few days – not letting players on, and giving a (hopefully) short window when the servers will be offline.

If you're on the unlucky servers of Agamaggan, Azshara, Baelgun, Dark Iron, Detheroc, Emerald Dream, Greymane, Kalecgos, Lightninghoof, Maelstrom, Malfurion, Moonrunner, Nazjatar, Sargeras, Staghelm, Twisting Nether, Ursin, WildHammer, or either of the Tournamenet Servers, you're going to have at least two hours of downtime from 5:00 a.m. PDT until 7:00 a.m. PDT. Blizzard will also be doing rolling restarts across all realms this morning.

For those of you waiting to get your morning fix of WoW, fear not. There are several pieces of news and entertaining reads to catch up on.

New WotLK alpha screenshots – Did you know that WotLK is in alpha, and the first batch of new screenshots has been leaked? We've got them confirmed from an inside source and mirrored here for your enjoyment.

As a tank, I hate to pug. Our Warrior columnist Matthew Rossi agrees with me. Check out his enlightening piece for One reason tanks won't pug. And I hope the subject of his piece, Primula, enjoys his or her new found fame as one lowly ninja-looter.

Do you have a life outside of WoW? Not that I do, but if I did I would be a casual player and appreciate Robin Torres' advice from WoW, Casually: Finding groups fast. Just remember that they don't always have to be random pug groups.

Two pieces of Season 4 gear have been accidently enabled by a GM on the live realms. You can check out the new stats and have look at them. They remind me a bit of the Ori from Stargate, so I have to ask: Hallowed are the Ori, anyone? Hopefully the bosses at Blizzard are a bit more understand than the Ori and will let the GM that made this mistake keep his job.

And finally you can check out my new favorite column of the week, [1. Local] by Lisa Poisso. Lisa takes a look at all the comments posted on WoW Insider and rounds up the best of them for us to marvel over. I know that I've sent her a few lately.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Gallery: WotLK Leaks

Filed under: Realm News, Realm Status, News items

WoW Insider Weekly

Wondering what to do on this lazy Saturday afternoon? Why not enjoy some of our terrific weekly features from the past week? Here they are, all in one post. It's a week's worth of WoW Insider content, all served right up for you.

Two Bosses Enter: Moam vs. Hakkar the Soulflayer
I completely agree, Elizabeth-- Batman can (and has, multiple times) beat Superman like a drum.

Sunday Morning Funnies: The beginning
Our new weekly look at the best in Warcraft comics.

Arcane Brilliance: Fun with utility spells
Why else do you roll a mage in the first place? To mess with people!

Addon Spotlight: Comix - the return
This is definitely an addon that some people really hate, and some people really love.

Officers' Quarters: A case of the blahs
How to shake the ennui from your guild.

The Art of War(craft): Idyllic Arathi Basin
Zach takes you into my favorite battleground for some fun and strategy.

Shifting Perspectives: So you're thinking of playing a Druid
Think our new Druid blogger sounds familiar? He's none other than Big Bear Butt, right here on WoW Insider.

Build Shop: Warlock 43/0/18
Chris dissects one of the most "feared" builds around-- Affliction.

The Light and How to Swing It: Ret gear part 1
Stuff to wear when you're going Ret.

Guildwatch: Worth every wipe
Is the drama worth it? Ask a guild after they down Gruul for the first time.

Blood Pact: The final stretch
Bringing Warlocks home to 70.

Tales from the Lion's Pride Inn: The story begins
WoW Insider presents a new standard in graphic storytelling for the WoW universe.

World of WarCrafts: Murloc Fin Soup
A brand new column about making things in real life for and by Warcraft fans.

Well Fed Buff: Winter's Veil Bark
Our other new column, about RL cooking, breaks out a tasty snack for Winter's Veil.

Totem Talk: Gearing up Elemental 66-69
Get the gear you're going to be tossing for all those phat epix.

Blood Sport: Gearing up for Arenas
What to wear in there.

WoW, Casually: December 14-20 and Feast of Winter's Veil
Fun things you can do this week in just a short time.

Insider Trader: Hawking wares via the web
An interview with Elite Fish Vendor.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Tanking knicknacks
Tasty tidbits about tanking.

Ask WoW Insider: Are you who you play?
When you get in a car accident, you don't say, "His car hit my car!" You say, "He hit me!" Weird, right?

Phat Loot Phriday: Delicious Chocolate Cake
It makes you happy. Do you really need to know anything else?

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Instances, Leveling, Classes, Battlegrounds, Arena

WoW Insider Weekly

Here's your weekly look at all the great work our columnists are doing here on WoW Insider. It's all of our weekly columns, wrapped up into one groovy post.

Arcane Brilliance: Adventures on the PTR
Amanda does a character copy and gets the numbers on here to there.

All the World's a Stage: Getting Started with Roleplaying
David starts you off on the path to being someone else.

Spiritual Guidance: The spirit debate
Elizabeth and Eliah get together to figure out what Spirit means to you.

Azeroth Interrupted: Escape from Los Angeles
What's keeping you out of Azeroth?

Officers' Quarters: Reinforcements
Recruiting for your guild with panache and style.

The Light and How to Swing It: Pre-epic plate healing gear, part 3
Ready to raid? Not so fast-- get that healing gear on.

Guildwatch: Smooth sailing
Huge Guildwatch this week, with lots of great drama, downed, and recruiting news.

/silly: At a slight disadvantage
If only our totems really could do this.

Totem Talk: Odds and more odds
How is the PTR treating you elemental Shammies?

Insider Trader: Blacksmithing's final stretch
Insider Trader talks with a specialist on how to finish off the Blacksmithing grind.

Know Your Lore: Bad dragons
Wachowski returns to KYL to take on the bad dragons of Azeroth.

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Plate
Strap on that metal, we're going to battle.

Phat Loot Phriday: Serpentshrine Shuriken
A look at a thrown weapon (for the first time ever) on Phat Loot.

Ask WoW Insider: Proving your worth
With specs so easy to find in 2.3, will you judge players based on their talents?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Insider Business, Features, Humor, Guides

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