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New BlizzCon 2009 schedule available


Mere minutes after we posted the fact that Blizzard had retracted their previous schedule, they released a new one. The layout of the new schedule is less pleasing to the eyes and a bit harder to read, but there's certainly some interesting stuff there.

For example, the first panel after the opening ceremonies is a "World of Warcraft Preview Panel." Previewing... what? Personally, I'm going to throw money down on Cataclysm. Also, it appears the PvP panel is gone. Folded into the two 1-hour long "class, item and profession" panels, perhaps? Then again, the PvP panel was really about the arena and battleground maps last year, wasn't it? If there's a Cataclysm preview, it very well might be a part of that. The Guild is also no longer competing with a WoW panel, and there's a new panel first thing on Saturday about breaking into the gaming industry. Plus, a 'live raid' panel probably similar to what they had at the last Worldwide Invitational: Watch one of the top guilds in the world tackle a high-end raid boss. Algalon, perhaps? Cool stuff.

BlizzCon 2009 is coming up on August 21st and 22nd! We've got all the latest news and information. At BlizzCon you can play the latest games, meet your guildmates, and ask the developers your questions. Plus, there's some great looking costumes.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, BlizzCon

WoW Insider Show Episode 88: Child's play

Here's our podcast from last week -- Lesley Smith joined Turpster, Patrick Beja of How I WoW and I to chat about the Martin Fury controversy, how Children's Week and Noblegarden are going on the live realms, and what we've been up to lately in the World of Warcraft. And as usual we answered your email, including sharing ideas for our upcoming video show (we're planning on doing it on May 23rd, so stay tuned for that), how to transfer away from a guild if you happen to be a guildleader, and both why Blizzard canceled WWI, and when BlizzCon tickets might go on sale.

We also talked about the ongoing Children's Week Charity Auction -- bidding has slowed down a bit over the weekend, so if you're interested in helping out kids in hospitals by donating some money to buy them videogames, go on over to the auction page and find something to bid on. All the money raised goes directly to Child's Play, so get your bids in now while you can.

And as we mentioned on the show, here's the schedule for the next few weeks: we'll have a show as usual next Saturday the 9th, and then we'll have a special midweek show on the 13th of May. And then on the 23rd, we'll be live on camera for the video show. Should be really interesting -- we'll see you then!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes.
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[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.

Listen here on the page:

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasts, Podcasting, Events, Odds and ends, Humor, WoW Insider Show

U.K. Times covers BlizzCon

One of the Technology writers, Murad Ahmed, from the U.K. Times went to BlizzCon this past week and apparently had a pretty good time. I'm positive he doesn't actually play the game, and he admits to being a little lost, especially when it comes to the frenetic action of the professional arena tournament (although, truthfully, I often have a hard time following it too). But he did seem to hit upon the major draw of the convention -- namely, getting to hang with your fellow gamers, and hopefully guildies if you're lucky, and enjoying a giant get-together where the person next to you is virtually certain to get a WoW-related joke.

As a bonus, Mr. Ahmed got to interview James Taplin, one of our readers (BlizzCon attendees will know him as one of the people at the WoW Insider meet-up, and later the 3rd place winner in the /silly competition), who confirmed that the social aspect of both the game and convention are really the big attraction. I think it's precisely that aspect that has a tendency to be somewhat overlooked by the mainstream media (although let's face it; it's probably not something you'll pick up on unless you've played the game with people you genuinely like), but the Times also covered the WorldWide Invitational here, so they're no strangers to Blizzard events. While there's no information in the article that's really new, it's an interesting and generally positive perspective on the convention.

Thanks to James and Rhys for writing in!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, BlizzCon, Worldwide Invitational

Wowhead offers another chance to win Tyrael


Do you still need a Wrath of the Lich King beta key? Or perhaps you covet your very own mini-Tyrael (which you can now bestow on all your characters)? If so, you may want to check out Wowhead's latest contest, which is once again giving away cards from the Worldwide Invitational with codes for the LK beta and for Tyraels. Happily, this one is open to both EU and US. It's happening today, starting at 4:00 EST (1:00 PST), which is just under two hours from now. It's a similar format to their previous contest (which unfortunately had to be cancelled), but with a twist:
  • The goal is to identify five screenshots, figuring out which exact Wowhead pages those screenshots are displayed on.
  • When you get all five answers, put the URLs of the Wowhead pages corresponding to the screenshots in an email to contest@wowhead.com. Make sure your answers are in order.
  • At 4:00, a heavily altered version of the screenshots are posted (seems to be run through a random Photoshop filter). This is phase one, and if anyone could recognize a phase one screenshot, I'd be amazed (see above for an example).
  • At 4:20 (phase two), the images are posted in a slightly less altered form, though they're still pretty hard to recognize.
  • At 4:40, for phase three, the images are brought even closer to their original form. In yesterday's round, the winning entries were sent within two minutes after phase three started.
  • At 5:00, the original images are posted.
  • The first five people to email in a correct set of answers will receive a WWI card.

To see yesterday's pictures, including the answer to what the heck the screenshot above is (no, I'm not going to give it away here), check out the contest thread on the Wowhead forums. That's also where today's screenshots are going to be posted, starting at 4:00 EST (1:00 PST). Get ready!

Filed under: Contests, Wrath of the Lich King

Patch 3.0 PTR round-up


The public test realm has just gone live, and if you've got any characters on it (or if you'd like to go copy some), you can head on over to enjoy all of the patchtastic frivolity likely to descend sometime soon.

In case you're catching up to the rest of us, patch 3.0 is another large content patch specifically designed to transition the player base to the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King. We won't be seeing Death Knights or Northrend (or at least, we're pretty sure we won't, unless they're planning on a big surprise). We will be seeing all of the 1-70 class changes, new features added to the default UI, barbershops, Inscription, a raid buff system overhaul, and more, in addition to four European servers closing due to Russian player migration. Read on for a quick guide to what you can expect:

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Patches, Blizzard, News items, PvP, Expansions, Mounts, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Arena

Win beta keys and Tyraels from Wowhead

It's just one contest after another for the good people at Wowhead. They just wrapped up their Olympics contest for some Wrath beta keys. Not to be outdone by themselves, their newest contest is giving away WWI goodie bag cards, which means a Wrath beta invite and a Tyrael pet for each of 20 winners. And the grand prize is a FigurePrint for one lucky competitor.

So what do you have to do for these fabulous prizes? For today and the next three days after (that's August 21, 22, 23, and 24), at 10 AM pacific time (1 PM Eastern), Wowhead is going to post five screenshots in the contest thread, without telling you what they are screenshots of. Your task is to identify them all; the first five people to correctly identify all the pictures each day will get a WWI card. Send your responses to contest@wowhead.com, with the Wowhead URLs, in order, of the things in the screenshots. You must list all five URLs, and no extras.

On the fifth day of the contest (August 25), the FigurePrint competition will be revealed. And European readers will be pleased to note that these prizes work for both US and EU accounts.

The first round of screenshots should be up in about fifteen minutes; keep an eye on the forum thread.

Filed under: Contests, Wrath of the Lich King

How Blizzard mishandled the BlizzCon ticket situation

As you may or may not know, we here at WoW Insider are not an official Blizzard fansite. There are a few different reasons for that, but one of them is that within the Fansite Program Code of Conduct, there is a clause that states, "fansites should present content that is supportive of World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment." We don't disagree with that clause -- fansites are run by fans, and they should support Blizzard. But our status as an unofficial site leaves us completely free to talk indepth about situations where Blizzard has messed up big time. And as many players already know, the BlizzCon ticket sales process that took place earlier this week is definitely one of those situations.

Blizzard is, of course, a game company. No one expects them to put on events like WWI and BlizzCon -- they do so to serve the community that's grown up around their games (and, let's be fair, market and advertise their products to the core of their fanbase). And the community loves those events, both hearing about and attending them. Which is why it was a surprise to no one (except maybe Blizzard themselves) that when the ticket sales kicked off Monday morning, it was a nightmare -- the site was hammered by fans trying desperately to buy tickets, the Failoc was a familiar sight, and within a few hours, even Blizzard.com's main site was down.

Everyone could have predicted that there'd be problems like that -- when a fanbase of 11 million tries to buy 12,000 tickets, of course you're going to have technical problems. But Blizzard's mishandling of the situation didn't happen on Monday morning -- anyone can suffer from server outages. It happened over the next two days, days full of frustration, endless page refreshing, and a lack of useful communication from Blizzard about just what was happening.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Blizzard, News items, Guides, BlizzCon

Last remaning BlizzCon tickets go on sale at 8:00 p.m. PDT tonight

If you want to go to BlizzCon in October, you have one last window to buy your tickets: 8:00 p.m. PDT tonight. That's 11:00 p.m. Eastern, and 10:00 p.m. Central. This news comes from an announcement on the main page of the WoW website. The announcement further tells us that all the available tickets were sold out within minutes of the Blizzard Store coming on-line this afternoon.

Considering there will be a third hall open this year, we believe around 12,000 tickets have been made available (this number has also been reportedly confirmed by phone sales reps), which is 50% more than the 8,000 that were sold last year. The World Wide Invitational that took place in June also sold out very quickly.

In the case of the WWI, additional tickets were made available after the primary batch had sold out. However, and this is important, there is no indication Blizzard will do this again.

We'll update with any further information when we have it.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, BlizzCon

WoW Radio Pass the Torch contest on August 8

If you're not completely holed up in a cave somewhere, you're probably aware that some big sports event called the Olympics is happening in August. Of course, August also marks the start of a new season for our friends over at WoW Radio, who are holding a contest to celebrate their onslaught of shows. In keeping with the Olympics, WoW Radio is calling their August contest "Pass the Torch", and are giving away twenty (!) Worldwide Invitational cards as prizes. Just in case you didn't know, those cards contain the codes for a key to the Wrath Beta and a mini-Tyrael pet.

How do you join? Simple. Listen to their radio shows! Starting August 8 (or what the Chinese consider to be the lucky 08/08/08), five of their radio shows will be their torch-bearers. During each show, there'll be an 'Olympic ring' -- you'll know them when you hear them, according to WoW Radio -- containing a secret word. The five secret words will form a phrase, which you should then send to their e-mail address to be entered in their grand prize draw. Winners will be announced on the 15th of August on Blue Plz! Head on over to WoW Radio now and keep an ear out for those secret words!

Filed under: Blizzard, Contests, Worldwide Invitational

WoW Insider Show Episode 48: We just can't wait for Lich King

Our latest podcast is now up for your listening enjoyment, but beware: there's an aural bomb hidden inside it -- as we suggested last week, if you listen to the show, you just may hear not only Turpster's famous singing voice, but mine and John Patricelli's as well. Please note: WoW Insider can not be held responsible for any trauma caused by hearing our "Just Can't Wait for Lich King" song. It is scary.
  • We also chatted about achievements and why I can't wait for them. And I forgot to mention: the best thing about achievements? Blizzard is giving us another ding graphic for them, this time white! I love that graphic!
  • We talked about the Authenticator, and how it's not quite as secure as everything thought.
  • We all agreed that the mounts and small pets getting out of our bags was a great change.
  • Turpster told us about his experience playing the Wrath beta so far and what he thinks of Death Knights and the new zones.
  • And we answered a lot of emails: we talked about /played time and why it shouldn't be completely embarrassing, and why raiding isn't quite yet done before the next expansion.
Oh, and we did give away a beta key, direct from Turpster's goodie bag at WWI. We've selected a winner in our contest already, so if you didn't enter, time is up (that's why we said to listen to the show last week!), and if you did enter, check your email.

And finally, Turpster has not yet posted the mp3 of our song (though I'm not sure why you'd want to listen to it any more than you have to), but dotOrion on the WoW Radio forums has cut it directly out of the podcast recording, so if you really want an MP3 of the tune (for blackmail purposes or anything else you need it for), there you go.

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Virtual selves, Humor, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Insider Show, Achievements

Wrath Beta keys sent out to BlizzCon and WWI code holders

Numerous reports are coming in that the Wrath Beta keys are making their way to players now. Attendees of last year's BlizzCon in Anaheim, California, and the Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France, received a card with a code for a "future Blizzard title" as part of their goody bags. Wryxian confirmed over at the official forums that the said title was Wrath of the Lich King and urged everyone to register their codes immediately. Players who do so will be prompted to enter the codes from the cards as well as their e-mail address, as Beta access information is sent through e-mail.

Reader Phi mentions that it doesn't matter when the codes were claimed. She registered her code right after BlizzCon last year while her boyfriend registered only yesterday after Blizzard's announcement, and both received their keys today. If you're one of the lucky few who attended either Blizzard event or managed to snag a beta code through other channels like eBay, registering the code should see you receiving invites in the mail. WoW Insider's Elizabeth Harper, who attended both, received two invites to the Beta eight minutes apart from each other. The official e-mail from prompts players to follow the step-by-step instructions over at Blizzard's official Beta page. Thanks to everyone who tipped this in!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

Arcane Brilliance: Why Frostfire Bolt could change everything



Each week Arcane Brilliance serves up a big slice of Mage-cake. Of course, Mages have a very different idea of what it means to "bake" and then "frost" something, so Mage-cake might not be quite what you're expecting. Unless of course you were expecting a blackened husk of indeterminate (vaguely Gnomish) origin frozen into a block of ice, in which case you'll get exactly what you thought you were getting.


So last week was fun, huh?

I have to say, I expected some controversy, but nothing like that. My earlier column about how much I love being a Mage got 32 almost universally positive comments, which seemed quite respectable to me at the time. This one, in which I bemoaned what I perceive to be a very fixable problem with the class (the fact that our DPS doesn't balance out our incredibly poor survivability) is at 200 and counting. Reading through them over the course of this week, terrified to post any sort of response lest I be torn limb from limb and devoured, it seemed like there was no middle ground. Responses ranged from "Please consider discontinuing this article from here on" to "I think this is the most well written piece on this site that I've ever read." Of the 200 responses, I'd wager 150 or so were negative.

So what have I learned? You guys prefer optimism. Apparently.

This week, I went in search of things to feel good about. I do still love to play my Mage--much moreso than any other character I have--and I truly want to be optimistic about the direction we're headed as a class. Once I went actively searching for happy thoughts, I found they were out there, in abundance. In fact, many of them were suggested within those same 200 comments.

You see, as it turns out, Frostfire Bolt has the potential to be very, very nice. In fact, Frostfire Bolt could actually change everything. Come back after the jump to find out why.

Read more →

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

Video Games Live to release CD

Record company EMI Classics has announced the release of Video Games Live Volume One, a recording of the famous traveling orchestra (led by friend of WoW Insider Tommy Tallarico) that plays videogame music, including that of the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo series. You may have seen the group last year at BlizzCon, this year at WWI, or (likely) this year again at BlizzCon, and they got rave reviews every time they played.

The recording was conducted by Tallarico, recorded at Abbey Road, and features the Slovak National Orchestra, The Crouch End Festival Chorus, and "the videogame pianist," Martin Leung. The CD will have eleven tracks (full tracklist after the jump), and will feature music from a slew of terrific videogame soundtracks, including our own Warcraft series (and Civ IV, which is probably the best music I've ever heard in a videogame, ever). EMI plans to release the CD in America on July 24th, and in Europe and the rest of the world on August 20th. It should be available for digital download right now in the UK, and an iTunes exclusive release will be available on the 20th.

Sounds like an amazing recording -- fans of Video Games Live will certainly enjoy it. You can see the full tracklist below.

Read more →

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, BlizzCon, Worldwide Invitational

Arcane Brilliance: How to fix Mages



Each week, Arcane Brilliance puts a Mage-related joke at the beginning of a column about Mages. This week, though, after the class panels at the WWI, Arcane Brilliance is not in a joking mood.


Warriors are unique in that they are the strongest, most durable melee class, can use all of the biggest and best weapons and armor in the game, and make highly-sought-after tanks.

Rogues are unique in that they can Stealth past almost anything, are downright impossible to hit at times, and can contribute incredibly high single-target DPS in groups.

Druids are unique in that they can shape-shift into awesome animal forms that amount to slightly lesser versions of several other classes, can be excellent tanks, DPS, and healers, have incredible buffs, and are the single most annoying Arena class in the game.

Priests are unique in that they can be both an incredibly effective caster DPS class as well as the best (and surprisingly durable) pure healing class, while providing some of the best buffs around.

Hunters are unique in that they can tame their own pets, then use them to tank for them while they sit back and provide top-tier ranged DPS.

Paladins are unique in that they are the only healing class that can wear plate, can perform the duties of the best multiple mob tanking class, the best single-target healing class, or an effective melee DPS class. Also, they have a bubble.

Shamans are broken currently, but will soon have some of the best raid-wide buffs in the game via their totems, and are still sort of unique in that they can spec to provide both melee and caster DPS, as well as very nice healing, and have an incredibly nice panic button.

Warlocks are unique in that they can provide what is possibly the best caster DPS, both single-target and AoE, have Life Tap, which makes their mana almost never-ending in groups where they have a healer willing to throw them a heal every now and again, have a pet which can add to their DPS, tank for them, destroy casters in PvP, or provide CC.

Mages...Mages are Warlocks without pets.

Ok, to be entirely fair, we can also make food and open a portal to Shattrath at the end of every instance.

Mages need help (Shamans need help too, but Arcane Brilliance isn't a column about Shamans). Come back after the break and we'll talk about what needs to be done.

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Features, Classes, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

Beta opt-in F.A.Q.

More beta news for everyone to enjoy tonight. Bornakk has posted what Nethaera promised earlier in the day, a Wrath of the Lich King beta opt-in F.A.Q. The complete F.A.Q. is republished here for your convenience, and is definitely something everyone should read and re-read. Some of the key things to come out of the F.A.Q.:
  • You are not guaranteed to get into the WotLK beta if you have a BlizzCon or WWI beta keys. These keys might go to another beta (like Diablo III).
  • You can opt-in on multiple accounts, but each account can only opt-in once.
  • If you get a key with one account, you can use it on another account of your choosing. However the key can only be used once.
  • Opting in early does not necessarily mean you will get a beta slot early. Everything is random (as we previous reported).
  • If you get a beta key from another source and are selected via the opt-in process, you can give your key to a friend or family member.
Full F.A.Q. after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

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