Matters of Rage

Today, de Alliance opened a new front in de war. But not against de Horde, but against de Cenarion Circle.

Scouts had seen a large Alliance force movin' from Theramore towards Mulgore, so I set out to investigate. I feared yet another attempt at de taurens' bossman Cairne, so I bended de Nether to reach 'im in time. And I was. Just as I arrived to one of de middle rises, I saw countless humans, dwarves and elves pourin' out of de back elevators. I had mentioned many times dat de elevator was poorly protected, but de defenses were only improved marginally. I did wat I could to slow deir advance, but someting was wrong. Dey braved de frost and dinna even try to get rid of me, even though I stood in de way. Dey were not climbin' up to de highest Rise. Dey were headin' to de bridge and Elder Rise.

I abandoned my vantage point and ran along de odder bridge, hopin' dat I was not too late. Dey were already fightin' on de odder bridge, but I could not fire witout hittin' de support ropes and keelin' both defenders and attackers. Wen I reached de Elder Rise de carnage had already started outside de druids' tent. Hamuul..

I took a few potshots at dem, but dere were too many. I could not keel all of dem, but I could slow dem down. I closed my eyes and thought of home. Winds circled around my arms. My fingertips tingled. I focused my thoughts on de storm dat almost killed me. De winds grew stronger. And stronger. I raised my arms up and opened my eyes.

De winds howled upwards, and chunks of ice began to rain down upon my enemies. Ice clanged against steel and de shards fractured and fell to de ground. De cacophony of screams, orders, spells and dark incantations was deafenin'. Maintainin' de winds was getting more difficult by each second, and de attackers still continued to fight. I canna hold dem off forever, and I dunno even if it is already too late. My arms were starting to feel numb. Den I heard heavy steps rattlin' de rope bridge behind me. Many steps. Reinforcements. As the tauren charged into defense of their archdruid, I let the winds free. Some of de humans tried to run, but outrunnin' an angry tauren is hard wen yer feet are numb from de cold.

It took just a few minutes until only tauren were left standin'. I walked to de tent and saw dat dey were treatin' de archdruid. I dunna know whether he did fall or was just injured heavily. I walked among de bodies litterin' de Elder Rise. I recognized a few. A couple of elves who had been stirrin' up trouble before, and.. Syskae. His dented armor was pressin' on 'is chest and 'is breath was as quiet as a whisper. Why was he part of dis madness? I watched as de guards unceremoniously carried de bodies away, Syskae as well. Even though one whack from a mace would have been enough to finish off de survivors, de druids dinna wanna keel any more. One of dem told me dat de bodies, livin' or dead, were bein' carried off de bluffs into de graveyard. Dose dat wanted to leave could do so, and de rest would be buried de next day.

I rested a bit among de druids, who were mendin' deir own wounds and takin' care of deir fallen. Why would elves, especially elf druids go to such lengths to keel deir supposed allies? Hamuul Runetotem, deir target, was appointed to de Cenarion Circle by dat who both elves and tauren call Shan'do. A rare exception among elves, and someone whose wisdom was direly needed. But I knew dat he would not be able to come and sort out dis mess. His work against de corruption started by de Faceless One is more important. Odders would have to do dis for him, to ensure dat dere would be a Cenarion Circle left wen he got back. I had to find de excuse behind dis madness.

Syskae should probably have regained conciousness by now. I stood up and walked out from de tent, out of sight from de taurens. I put on de ring dat Syskae had gave me and asked him de reason for dis madness. Someone had told 'im dat de Cult of de Void was involved and controllin' de Runetotem. Preposterous. If dey needed to go after a druid, dey should go after Fandral! His crimes a millennia ago were not forgotten, and dere were reports dat he had been stockpilin' poisons under de guise of research, a lie so obvious dat not even all elves believed it.

De conversation was interrupted by sounds of battle, dis time from de main bluff. I hastily ran along de bridge and towards de bossman's tent. Again, bodies littered de whole rise. Guards were chasin' de survivors, who were drank some potions and den jumped from de bluff. Noggenfogger. Some floated gently down, odders fell like rocks. De battle was too short to be a credible attempt. Dis was an attempt to disguise de attack to be against a valid military target. De Bloodhoof had made short work out of dem. Wit de immediate threat passed for now, I located an empty tent and started gatherin' my thoughts.

Wat was behind dis silly story about de Runetotem and de Cult? I knew da some of de.. lesser-minded druids had been persuaded to join dat bunch of.. unsane people, but would de Alliance seriously tink dat all tauren druids were in it? Surely dey would see plenty of sane druids at de front in Silithus or Nighthaven at Moonglade to see de truth. But den again, dose tincan tacticians had leetle reason to leave deir cities of white stone. A deception would be all too easy to arrange. But why? Who would benefit from such a ting?

A series of loud thumps interrupted my thoughts. De danger was over, why would a tauren approach deir chieftain in such a hurry? Worried looks and a few words said out loud told everytin' I needed. Regrouped. Taurajo. I was on my way to de wyvern master before de messenger had finished 'is business.

I arrived into a slaughter. De Taurajo wyverns were desperately tryin' to defend deir master, and mine decided to join de fray wit me still on it. Drat. I had to jump, and my awkward landin' attracted de attention of de attackers. I could not defeat dem on my own, so I ran towards de inn. I stepped into a pool of sometin', and I looked down to see dat my robe's hem was already drenched in blood. It was a slaughterhouse. Nothin' lived in de inn anymore. De innkeeper was half-skinned, de orcish couple was impaled to de wall wit spears, and blood seeped from de ceilin'. Dat must have been de tauren family who had rented de upper room earlier today. I tried to run up, but I felt a dagger between my ribs and searin' light at my back.

I found myself from quite an awkward position, and my left arm was bent unnaturally. Why had dey not finished me off? De sounds of battle were now further away. Dey had to be lookin' for de next massacre. I forced myself and wedged my broken arm between my legs. And den I twisted. We trolls might not die easily, but de pain sometimes makes me wish dat we did. I carefully bandaged myself and put on a different robe. Dere was still work to be done, and I canna show dem dat I'm hurt. Any sign of weakness will be exploited by dis bunch. I used my whistle to call Windclaw, but climbin' on a raptor taller dan me wit a broken arm proved to be.. difficult. I had to wait for reinforcements. I sat down to watch de smoke plumes risin' from de north. Dey had not just hit Crossroads, but also de settlements around it. One of dem was inhabited by two orc younglings. Deir parents had been called to reinforce de northern border, and dey never came back. Deir farm was on fire as well. And all I could do is watch. Actin' on flawed information is one ting, but dis.. Dis were no strategic purpose in any of dis. Dis was pure pent-up rage.

After wat seemed like forever, de reinforcements came. I took de first wyvern and dinna even bother to count de fee. I had to put a stop to dis. Lookin' from above confirmed my suspicions. De farm and de towers had been put to de flame, but de main force was still at Crossroads. Dis time my landin' was better, although a sharp pain in my arm reminded me dat I was in no shape to fight. I hurled ice against a few of de attackers, but dey simply laughed and continued deir dirty deeds in de protaction of deir gods. And again I was gettin' too much attention, so I had to retreat outside where I had some more time to react. I looked for isolated targets and did wat I could, but deir rage was not dat easily controlled. Eventually I saw an armored human barkin' orders, but he had his back turned towards me. Perfect. A loss of a leader would help dem reconsider. I released my rage and whispered ancient Zandalarian incantations. My vision was covered in a red haze. I saw only my target, and nottin' else. I pictured de biggest shard of ice I could in my mind, impalin' dis human. Winds danced around my good arm and I felt de frost weave itself into a shard in my hand. I shouted de last syllables of de incantation and threw de instrument of my vengeance at my prey.

He dinna even turn. De shard pierced his armor slightly above his waist on de right side. I heard de shard clang against his front armor from inside and shatter. I caught him mid-sentence, and he lowered his head to look at his wound, but it was not dere. He fell to his knees, and den to de ground, wit shards of ice still pointin' up from his back. With the blood haze still upon me, I ran to his body and grabbed his shoulder with my good hand and violently grabbed him to turn him around. As his back hit de ground I heard de shards embed demselves deeper into him. I spat at him, only to realize dat I recognized de face lookin' up.

It was Syskae.


Raiding, buffs and the vicious circle of content churn

WoW Insider spotted a debate at the Elitist Jerks forum about the relative power of raid buffs. And I have to say that I agree with them to a large degree. Buffs do make a huge difference when you progress further into endgame.

Personally, the furthest I've seen endgame is Huhuran (and Razuvious, but he isn't a gear-dependent fight), but the effects they describe are clearly visible at easier instances as well. Back when we were trying to down Ragnaros or Hakkar or even 45-minute Baron for the first time, we buffed up like crazy and barely made it.

At our first successfull Ragnaros kill, I had Night Dragon's Breaths, Windblossom Berries, Mageblood, Wizard Oil, Flask of Supreme Power, a bunch of Greater Fire Protection potions, Major Mana Potions, Nightfin Soup, Blasted Lands buffs and even Juju Embers from Winterspring. Farming materials or cash for all that took several hours for each raid. Now, two tiers of gear later Ragnaros goes down with just a few Major Mana Potions.

At the time, I kept justifying the grinding to myself by the fact that we were still learning the encounter, and the buffs were covering up for any mistakes we might make. Increased survivablity meants that healers could spare that small bit of extra mana to keeping the tank alive and the extra DPS could down the boss just before the raid would start dropping like flies. We told ourselves that this was just a phase and it would get easier once we geared up some more and ironed out all the mistakes. We obviously did that and could phase out buffs, turning raiding into a profitable venture once again. So far so good.

However, the graph in the initial post does scare me. If top endgame continues to be balanced around all available buffs and even top-of-the-line gear from the final bosses isn't enough to slowly phase out buffs, then burnout is a very real possibility. A burnout on something you're supposed to be doing for fun. To relax. It's easy to justify doing some extra effort now to save effort later, but what if it never gets any easier? Especially when your grinding speed doesn't improve at the same pace (which is the case with healer classes and their raiding sets), it's very tempting to take the easy way out and to just buy your gold.

Personally, I think that every encounter should be tested with multiple tiers of gear. First, the gear you are supposed to be wearing when you start doing the instance. It should be very hard to progress, but not impossible. Secondly, with parts of the gear you get from the said instance. The encounter should be doable with proper focus and coordination. Finally, the encounter should be fairly easy once you've got most of the gear from the instance. No excessive buffing should be required at this point, and the relative lack of challenge should gently prod raiders towards the next encounter.

Of course, this kind of balancing assumes that there's always the next encounter. There isn't any when it comes to Kel'Thuzad now. Both Blizzard and the raiders knew that there wouldn't be anything to do after Kel'Thuzad. Blizzard wanted Kel to last until the expansion, so they needed to slow down raiding progress. They have tried hard tactics-based encounters before. They have tried straight-out DPS slugfests. They have tried resistance-based fights. And they have tried combinations. None of them worked for as long as Blizzard hoped. Determined raiders would analyze logs, crunch numbers, grind gear and practice until they cracked the encounters. So they used the one thing that even determined raiders wouldn't have enough: time. In other words, time required to farm buffs. If every attempt required a few hundred gold for each raider and enough instance runs to buff all of them, the raiders would not have any other choice than to limit the times they would attempt the encounter. In the end, not even that was enough.

So now Blizzard finds itself yet again in the vicious circle. There are several orders of magnitude more players than they have designers. Content will always be consumed much faster than it is generated. This applies to any form of entertainment, not just MMORPGs or games in general. Blizzard currently has several options. They could keep the status quo and accept that at any given time, they will have some amount of bored customers. They could make bleeding-edge content even more time-consuming to crack. However, this can pull the effort/reward ratio dangerously low and alienate customers who feel that they are not seeing any rewards (read: enjoyment) for their work. Yes, work. Work that you pay for. Customers might realize the absurdity of their actions and quit altogether.

Blizzard could increase the rate they produce content. There are two ways to do it. First way is to lower their standards of quality and just churn out more stuff with less polish. Blizzard knows that it would hurt both the game in the long run and more importantly the image of the firm itself. Blizzard has long been known as a firm that doesn't necessarily break new ground, but does everything better than the comptetition. Compromising quality would be suicidal.

The last option is most viable. Increase the volume of new content by hiring more designers. NCSoft, the company behind Guild Wars has an interesting solution: concurrent design teams. By interleaving releases they can keep the development cycle intact, yet churn out content at an increased rate. Imagine if Blizzard did the same. We could see stuff like the rumored South Seas expansion before Illidan bites the dust. And before Queen Azshara is on farm status the shores of Northrend would be at the horizon. Of course, hiring more designers costs money, which in turn cuts into the profit margin. However, WoW is the 500-pound gorilla of the MMORPG market. It is the undisputed market leader. And if Blizzard wants to keep it that way, they better have a big enough kitchen to keep feeding it.


Creepy Gnome

Gnomes are evil! Evil I tell you!


The Face of True Evil

Forget Illidan, this is the face of true evil.


Honor distribution loses it's significance

Back when Blizzard first implemented the honor system, they added one small detail to encourage so-called fair fights. In essence, the honor points you gained from killing an enemy was propotional to the damage you caused to said enemy, as well as the enemy's rank and level. Killing level 60 Grand Marshals who were at 100% health yielded the most honor, and ganking a level 49 unranked players with 1% health yielded only a minimal amount. In addition, honor was distributed evenly among your party or raid group, assuming everyone was near the victim.

Now that Blizzard had first cut all honor by 90% and then cut it by another 30%, the honor distribution system starts to break down. Whenever you gain honor, the system rounds down the final amount, but gives you at least 1 honor per kill. When you take into account diminishing returns, even the highest-ranking players net less than 10 honor, your average honor gain per enemy is pretty close to 1.

Why is this significant? First of all, it completely negates the benefit gained from seeking out tough opponents. Corpsecamping a low-level player can be more valuable as a gentlemanly duel. Therefore intelligent players will avoid tough fights as much as possible, and seek out fights that are over in a heartbeat.

Secondly, the change overemphasizes the meaning of Battleground and World PvP objectives that give you bonus honor. While the net effect is less visible in Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch, the effects are more than apparent in Alterac Valley. It is only a matter of time before someone realizes that collusion will be more profitable than combat.


The Spider and the Gnome

The gnome recoiled back. He anticipated a trap. And in a sense, he was right. But he was curious. Too curious to allow his assassin to accompany him this time. He was alone. The prey was isolated, and it was the perfect time to strike. But not with steel. Or even frost or flame. No. It was time to use a deadlier weapon.


He calmed down a bit when he saw the scroll in my hand. And with careful movements, he accepted the scroll. It was done. One more strand of my web had been woven. He had been given a choice.

Of course, getting to this point was not easy. It had taken too many resources and backalley deals to know about the Empire's movements. But I had gotten a clue. Hammerfall. The free orc outpost was quiet when I arrived, and the perimeter was secure. But when they started arriving, it was obvious that something was up. Gurubashi. Atai Guards. Red Blade orcs. Wolves of Mannoroth. Maahe of Burning Dawn. Others. And finally Mischa. It was time to step away from the shadows and take my place in this charade. I walked around them like I was minding my business. Unguarded words escaped their lips, betraying their intentions. They would go to Refuge Pointe. And if they were going to attack the Sons of Strom, it would mean that a certain human prince would be there at the front lines.

When the leaders started organizing their troops, it was time for me to take my position. I climbed on the walls and watched as the troops marched out from the gates. Typically the Empire allowed the orcs to go out first.

"Don't bite off more than you can chew."

Those simple words were more than enough to stir them up. Helpful advice disguised as an insult. And so predictably the Atai started to bark at me. They spewed off empty promises about killing me. Especially from Kel'jin. He had already failed once in killing me, so we both knew how hollow his words were. But he was more than willing to show it to others as well. Mischa stopped him from embarassing himself further, and the Gurubashi moved on. The orcs had probably already reached the front line. I waited for some time to make sure any followers would get bored, and then I rode to the front lines.

When I arrived, the massacre was already in progress. Human blood gathered into ponds at the base of the valley. Trollbane arrived late, and with inadequate troops. Fitting for a human, his self-preservation instinct was nonexistant, so he tried a few unsuccessful manouvers, even futilely trying to strike Mischa. The massacre continued for a while. He was probably being gripped with despair. It was time to make my move. I rode on top a small hill and showed myself. He took the bait, almost too easily and followed me away from the battle. I of course could not understand his words, but the pain behind them was all too apparent. But he also understood I was not here to fight him. The screams called him back into battle. And then I saw him. The gnome.

The gnome's eyes were hidden by his cowl, but I bet he didn't even blink when he unleashed forbidden magic at me. The assault was fierce, but he left an opening for me to teach him a lesson. A simple conjuration took him out of the picture, and I slaughtered his pet demon in front of him. But his infernal conjurations had also taken a toll on me. I had to retreat.

After mending my wounds, I slowly approached the massacre again. I spotted the gnome and lured him away from the group. I kept my gestures controlled, and convinced him to approach me. I was just about to reach into my robe when I felt metal between my ribs. Blood filled my lungs.


I was careless. No Alliance diplomat ever goes anywhere without an assassin. I limped back to the river and washed my bloodstained robe. I stitched the tears back together. At this rate, I would have to buy a new robe soon. Cloth doesn't heal like we do. The assasin probably broke some of my ribs just for kicks as well. I could not afford get struck again. The Empire must not see any weakness. Not yet, at least. I rode back towards the battle, and saw him again. The gnome Melnerag and Syskae had referred to as Tiberio. And this time, I would succeed.

OOC: Tiberio's account of the events is also available.

No such thing as a free lunch

Apparently Blizzard has decided that a High Warlord weapon isn't worth just one day's honor after all.


PvP sets will be even cheaper in the expansion

Apparently PvP sets will be even cheaper in the expansion. While the stated reason is that expansion items are so much superior that PvP sets should not take so much effort to get, I wonder whether there are other reasons as well.

Anyway, since the PvP sets are now the Blizzard-sanctioned way to go to gear yourself up for the Expansion, I think that all level 60 PvE content before Naxxramas will be mothballed.

I'm still wondering about the difficulty level of Burning Crusade instances. The expansion was obviously tested with well-geared characters, so a fresh level 60 character might want to grind some honor before stepping through the Dark Portal.

All in all, this makes gear progression quite interesting. My guess is that the most cost-efficient way to gear up your character from scratch would be to do PvE for the low- and midlevels, and then start PvPing heavily when you get closer to 60. When you have enough PvP gear, you go to Outlands and gear up solely on PvE until level 70, where you start the Arena battles and get your tier 4. Raiders will go up one more notch and farm Illidan, Magtheridon, Kael'thas, Lady Vashj and Archimonde for their tier 5, though.

Sin'Dorei the Musical

Apparently there's a Ghostlands quest where you return Sylvanas' locket to her, and she starts to sing.


My RP is better than your RP

For those who want to satisfy their morbid sense of humor, there's two hilarious threads in the Defias Brotherhood forums.

First, there's a thread about a serverwide plotline involving the opening of the Dark Portal. The thread quickly got hijacked when one guild claimed that they have already been to Outland, courtesy of the 25 beta keys Blizzard sent them. Then other people said that it was impossible, because nobody can enter Outland on our server yet. The thread got derailed, and the rest is history..

..at least until the flames were fanned again. This trainwreck is still ongoing, so set up camp and get your marshmellows ready. Maybe you'll get to see some survivors crawl away from the flames while you're enjoying your snacks.

Bad Tseric, bad!

Tseric comments on the cross-faction loot issue:

I'm sure it's easier to pass that judgement from your well-informed, armchair designing position. Because of the way in the whole expansion is being pushed out, the gap that we are currently in was expected to cause a number of issues. With so much content that is being pre-released, we are going to see a number of inconsistencies that will be resolved on release of the expansion. Plain fact is that this is about production schedules and not about you. This is needed for smooth production of the game, because when expansion hits and people are actually patching the rest of the content, we will have more pressing issues than going back to check some loot tables. This is about putting in order as much as we can as soon as we can, so when serious matters come down the road, we have as many resources available to address them quickly. Issues that, I assure you, will be more important than this. This isn't about you. It's about the game. Find something more worthwhile to complain about. This issue will not change until the expansion is released, so railing against me or anyone else on the boards is a categorical waste of your time.
Someone needs to be reminded that he works in the service industry, where it's generally a bad idea to badmouth your customers. And that censoring your own outbursts on the Internet is harder than you think.

Sources: Kill Ten Rats and N3rfed.


Patch 2.0.1 afterthroughts

It's now been just two days since the patch was applied to Defias Brotherhood, but the effects are becoming quite clear. Tonight there were 196 active Arathi Basin games in battlegroup 5. WorldDefense has been blaring the whole time, mostly about Crossroads. In the meantime, there were a grand total of 3 PvE raids in progress on Horde side at prime time. With just a single patch, Blizzard turned the game completely around.

Whether it's a good thing is up to debate.

But first, let's take a look on why this sudden change has happened. The most obvious reason is the new honor system. There is no such thing as honor decay anymore, and you can buy your items in any order you like. There is no longer any need to quit your job for 3 months to get the High Warlord gear. Any PvP counts, no matter how random. If you PvP, you will eventually get the gear you want. In addition to pure honor points, the gear requires honor tokens from Arathi Basin, Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley. However, the relative amounts of tokens required is small when compared to the honor needed. If you grind honor in the most efficient way possible, you will do it in battlegrounds. And many people have done just that. The addition of new PvP skills to several classes is also a big contributing factor. Everyone wants to try out their new skills. So, Battlegrounds are now extremely popular. Even up to the point where players have started reporting symptoms commonly associated with an inpending server crash. High lag with movement and skills. Invisible players. Warping back. However, chatting on various channels is not affected at all. These symptoms were previously associated with massive World PvP events. Even the shared battleground servers have their limits.

Second phenomenon is the dwindling of interest in PvE. This has two primary causes. First, there's the honor system upheaval, which made almost full sets of good gear available to everyone. The second reason is the incoming expansion and the gear available in it. The common consensus seems that even soloable quest rewards are superior to gear which currently requires a balanced raid group to get. Why raid now when you can get vastly superior gear with less effort in a few weeks? In addition, Blizzard snuck in several changes that also contribute to the lack of interest. The most obvious one is the UI changes which disabled several prominent raiding addons. This change made healing a whole lot more challenging. The emergence of new interesting PvP specs has made many players spec away from PvE.

One change is the unconfirmed nerf to massive AoE. In essence, AoE damage went down when the number of targets increased. I admit that as a mage, I was quite worried about this. If true, it would have made several encounters much more difficult. For example, the Skeletal Construct zerg at Nefarian's phase 3 or Fankriss the Unyielding's adds. However, based on my pleliminary testing in Scarlet Monastery Armory and reports from Blackrock Depths' Lycaeum, AoE damage inside instances seems to be the same as before. Still, even the perception of AoE-based encounters being more difficult can shy people away from them.

Finally, there's an unannounced change that made Shaman loot drop for Alliance, and Paladin loot drop for Horde. While this is obviously preparation for Draenei Shamans and Blood Elf Paladins, the change was made too soon. There are no Draenei Shamans or Blood Elf Paladins yet, and definitely not ones that could even enter raid instances. The result is that those guilds that do raid now get loot that they cannot use at all. Molten Core and Blackwing Lair are most affected by this change, because those instances contain bind-on-pickup class-specific loot. Five-man instances are less affected, because tier 0 gear is not class-specific. While a warrior cannot use all bonuses on Lightforge, he can still wear it. A hunter can wear pieces of the Elements. Thanks to the token system, Zul'Gurub and Ahn'Qiraj are unaffected, because the loot can also be used by other classes. However, when Blizzard implemented token-based loot for Naxxramas, they overlooked one vital piece of loot: The tier 3 rings from Kel'Thuzad. Every other piece of the tier 3 sets is token-based, but not the ring. Why would a top-level guild go through all the trouble of clearing Naxxramas and spending hundreds of gold on repairs and consumables just to get a piece of loot that nobody can use?

The third phenomenon is the resurgence of World PvP. This can primarily be attributed to both the honor system and the removal of dishonorable kills. Even relatively small rewards attainable with world PvP do now add up. More importantly, your gains are not negated even if you took a swing at a civilian. However, the activity seems to be concentrated on very limited areas. This is caused by an another change that arrived with the patch. Namely, level 65 guards. Unlike their level 55 counterparts, these are not simple annoying wasps to level 60 players. These are hard to stop and quite deadly up close. Any smart player will try to avoid any contact. And so they have. The hotspots have so far been cities and settlements that do not have such protection. Namely, low-to-mid level towns like Crossroads, Splintertree Post, Astranaar, Camp Taurajo, Darkshire, Sentinel Hill, Lakeshire, Menethil..

What is the effect of town raids against these targets? Devastation. Now that dishonorable kills are not an issue, anything and everything can be killed. This means guards, questgivers, vendors, trainers.. everything. And it doesn't even require a large raid. Even a handful of level 60ies will have no problem whatsoever downing a few dozen level 40 NPCs and shutting down the town. Whether this will be a big issue remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised if town raids drove also low-level players to PvP. While high-level players can stop by, they can't be guarding the town all the time.

All in all, the changes were indeed radical, and have seemed to shift the balance from a PvE-heavy game towards a PvP-heavy game. But what does it mean? It could be seen as an inevitable result. Current endgame will be replaced by Burning Crusade endgame. This patch just started the shift earlier. Blizzard will not redo the current raid instances to be viable after the expansion. And especially when talking about Molten Core, perhaps it is time to let it die.

So, we're back to the million-dollar question: All in all, are these changes a good thing? As always, it depends. If you like instanced PvP, you'll love the patch. If you like World PvP, you'll like it. If you like endgame PvE, it's is undoubtedly a disappointment, and some soul-searching is definitely in order if you want to continue playing.

Me? I enjoy a bit of everything. I love RP and enjoy World PvP. I like a good raid, and battlegrounds are ideal for letting off some steam now and then. I think that the shift was a bit radical, but nevertheless manageable. I'll live. I'll keep outwitting ganker squads. I'll grind some cash. I'll finish off some lingering quests. I'll snipe in battlegrounds. And I'll grumble about the lack of raids. And I'll buy the expansion.

Premonitions, Theories and Revelations

The world is changing. I can feel it. It has been mere days since I acquired the map of the Ley Lines surrounding the Dark Portal, and still I have a lingering suspicion that everything the humans of Nethergarde knew has just been made obsolete. So, I had to see it for myself.

I landed at Grom'Gol, and the other changes were apparent. The dull looks on the guards' eyes were gone, and their posture has improved. Apparently the Empire's "protection" has proved ineffective, and Thrall has seen fit to beef up the defenses. Good for them.

The jungle seemed the same as always. The guards around Darkshire were as dullminded as always, and could barely notice my passing. But then.. at Deadwind Pass, I felt it again. A sense of change. A foreboding feeling. The Magus' tower has been dormant for a long time, but this.. The Portal could wait for a moment.

The feeling of foreboding only increased in intensity when I approached the Hourglass Tower. It was best to prepare. I changed into more suitable clothes, in case I ran into trouble. And this.. staff infused with infidel energies might prove to be useful. I moved closer when I was attacked by the restless spirits. I had fought them before, but now they attacked with unparallered fury!

I managed to elude them. The side entrance was unchanged, but there were three people at the main gate. Two of them were clearly mages, but the third.. I'm not sure about him.

Violet Eye

Anyway, I approached them carefully. To my surprise, they were fairly civil. Arrogant of course, but civil enough to speak to me and not attack me on sight. After a short discussion, it became apparent that they were from de fabled Violet Citadel of the Human Spellweavers. Dalaran I believe what it was called in their language. I have passed it many times on my travels, but didn't give them much thought. But if they are moving, something is festering here. Since they have not entered the tower themselves, the Magus' barriers still hold. I had to find out more, but the spirits' fury was not to be underestimated. Fortunately there was an another way.

I took out a vial of purple liquid from my backpack. Despite my doubts, this has proven useful before. I drank the vial with one gulp. I never get used to the effect. It feels like vertigo, even if I'm standing on solid ground. I look down and see my body on the ground. Perfect. This won't last forever, so I have to move quickly.

My spirit moves past the wraiths like I was not even there. I float down the stairs and confirm some of my suspicions. The cellars are writhing with spirits, wraiths, banshees and ghosts. They too feel it. I also try to enter the crypt, but something has enforced the wards, preventing me from entering. I'm sure that the key to this mystery would be there, but my divination skills are inadequate for this task. There is nothing more to be done here.

I rode back to the pass and towards the Swamp. I was already some distance away from the Hourglass Tower, but still the feeling of foreboding has not passed. But I had to move on. It was time to see the Portal. Oddly, the demonic guards were not at their posts, and a powerful force seemed to have burrowed a small passageway in the ground.

Signs of Victory?

Astonishing. It seems that all of the demonic guards have been defeated by Thrall's orcs. But where are they? Their camp is intact with no signs of combat. None whatsoever. And the portal..


The portal has been powered back up. But I don't see Outland.. This is.. bad. It's good that the demons are gone, but activating the portal now could be bad. Worse than the War of the Shifting Sands. Worse for all. I dug out the illustration from my backpack. I had borrowed it from Nethergarde just a few days ago, and it took considerable effort to decipher the meaning. The humans had just mapped the Ley Lines and left it at that. They never thought what this configuration meant. And now the Ley Lines have changed again..

Yes.. This confirms a part of my hypothesis. Creating permanent portals requires a whole lot of power. More than any being, save for the Spellweaver itself could handle. Perhaps even more. I guess that even the Ancient of Secrets would struggle with these amounts. The Magus never had a chance of opening the Dark Portal with only his own power. Not even if he had brought an army of sorcerers. But this.. this was simply.. elegant. And so simple on the surface.

Creating a rift to the Nether is easy. The hard part is to maintain it. His solution was to draw out the power from the planet itself through the Ley Lines. Then he.. streched them towards Draenor, while the orc warlock Gul'dan did the same from his side. And when the Ley Lines from the two worlds met, they were weaved together, linking the worlds. Then the pathway was carefully stretched to usable size. Despite it's elegance, it was also dangerous. If one drew too much power and stretched the Ley Lines too much, they could.. break.

Without the protection offered by the Ley Lines, the planet could not hold together. Pieces would fall off, and the complex web of the Lines would slowly unravel. Yes. This is probably what happened to the orc homeworld. They didn't know when to stop stretching. They broke the Ley Lines. They broke the world. If the Portal had not been shut down, the released energies would have travelled back here to Azeroth through the crumbling Ley Lines. The unraveling would have continued, with the power of two planets being forced to travel through less and less Lines. Azeroth would have been cut to pieces like.. hot steel wires cut a fruit.

And now something was stretching the Ley Lines again. Who would be so reckless? I had to investigate more. The Portal would not give me more answers now. I had to go elsewhere. Or else..when. Yes. They know, but they probably won't tell me. Still, it was a possibility.

When I rode towards the Caverns of Time, the feeling of foreboding returned. Were the Qiraji repeating their attempt against the guardian? Fortunately, Anachronos seemed unchanged. But.. the Caverns were open! Like a moth to the flame, I had to go in. Pieces from here and there.. boats.. buildings.. trees.. people. Yes. Humans, orcs, dwarves, elves, dragons. Familiar faces, also driven here by curiosity. Beings that I have never seen before. But something was wrong here as well. I passed a patrol of heavily armed Bronze Dragonkin on my way inside. If the Bronze prepare for war, it is always for the direst need. But then I looked up. I saw it.

All That Is

Him. The Timeless One. Nozdormu. And.. I.. I don't know. I don't know at all. I have no idea what that majestic thing is. But at the same time.. I know that it is important. More important than anything.

I found myself later at Gadgetzan. I don't know how much time I spent in that wondorous place. I don't even rember riding back. I suppose it doesn't matter. But.. I completely forgot to ask about the Portal. Drat.


Outland Map

A map of the Outland is now available with a Google Maps interface.


He's baack..

Thanks to some meddling adventurers, Teron Gorefiend makes a comeback.



Apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed some issues with faction balance.


The Frozen Gallery

Another night, another graveyard shift. Lariel loved the night shifts. Not even the lesser races liked fighting at night. There was still the occasional undead, but they rarely reached the library. That left him ample time to familiarize himself with the books salvaged from Lordaeron. Especially tales of the Lightbringer fascinated him. Bless his soul, too many good men have died already in these cursed lands. Or worse. Lariel was not planning to become one of them. Quiet nights like these..

..too quiet, actually. And where are all the brothers?

Lariel slowly unsheathed his sword. Like his armor, it was passed on to him by his father. He was so proud when Lariel had told him that he was enlisting to retake the north. His tabard looked so majestic that day. But now, in the flickering torchlight, the Scarlet Flame seemed to pale. Shivers travelled down his spine. Had the wretched undead entered through the windows? He slowly crept forward towards the doorway to the library. Then something grabbed him and pulled him inside an alcove.

Brother Munson? How many undead are there?
Not undead. One. troll.
Then let's be done with it!
Ssh! She'll hear you! Did she hear you? I bet she heard you.
Calm down. It's just one troll. I will NOT let a an infidel..
That's what they said! No, no don't look!
A powerful mage..
..she froze their faces first..
..killed a whole squad of our brothers..
..then she proceeded downwards..
..in the middle of our monastery..
..until they were completely covered..
..and nobody heard a thing?
I just said she froze their faces! They couldn't even scream!
Weren't you trying to shut me up a minute ago?
Was I shouting?
Yes you were.
What is it doing there?
Reading? Those degenerates couldn't even count to seven without their feet..
This one reads.
What are we going to do? We can't just let it be.
That's what I was planning to do. Maybe she didn't hear us. Maybe she'll just walk past us when she leaves. I don't want to die here.
If she leaves. We need some backup.


Sir! We were discussing strategy to eliminate intruders in the library. Sir!
Intruders? In my library? Seize them!
By the Light.. Sir, I think you should see this.
Where are the intruders?
Nowhere to be found, sir!
Do I have to do everything here myself? Step aside, imbecile!
They are indeed gone. You two! To my quarters. Now!
The rest of you.. get rid of this.. gallery. And I want a full inventory on my desk first thing in the morning.
Sir, a full inventory would take at least..
No excuses. You'll catalogue every book, scroll and scribbling by morning or I'll let Whitemane flay the flesh from your bones.

You have exactly two minutes to explain why my library is full of frozen corpses and why the intruders are not hanging from the trees like they should.
Sir, I was on my way..

I see. It was quite a predicament. Frankly, I'm surprised that you survived. You two are relieved of your duties for now. Report back to me at first light.
Sir, yes sir.

Sir, privates Springvale and Munson reporting as ordered, sir.
At ease. Private Munson.
You are to report to the Master of the Watch at the front gates at once. This scroll contains his new orders. Dismissed.
Sir, yes sir.
Private Springvale.
You are to deliver this scroll personally to Brother Crowley in Stormwind City as soon as humanly possible. Check with the stable master before you leave. You will be provided with a horse and travel expenses.
Sir, yes sir.


Contents of Munson's scroll:
The bearer of this scroll is a traitor. You are to hang him immediately.
--Arcanist Doan

Contents of Springvale's scroll:
Brother Crowley,

It has been too long since we last met, dear friend. Your skills are direly needed here at the North. Vishas has his hands full, and his current apprentices lack the finesse you possess. However, I understand the importance of your current assignment and thus you must stay in Stormwind. We need all recruits we can get.

Speaking of recruits, you probably recognize the bearer of this letter. I believe he was sent here by you four months ago. Unfortunately he has severely disappointed me, and his cowardice has cost the Monastery Library several irreplaceable volumes. This letter serves three purposes. First, it is a reminder to you to pay attention to the quality of recruits. Secondly, this is my gift to you. I know you are bored. I want you to practice with Private Springvale here. Thirdly, this is a reminder for all of Stormwind on the importance of our task. When you practice with him, do it publicly and to the fullest extent of the law. Let all of Stormwind know the price of failure.

--Arcanist Doan


Healbots and bikini waxes

Zubon at Kill Ten Rats offers some insights on the economics and psychology of playing a support class.

Getting "paid" to play

Gitr has done some math on the average salary of a gold farmer.

RIP Capital City Raids

I took a short spin around the public test realm to have a look at new possibilities for World PvP. While the removal of dishonorable kills will no doubt have a positive effect, there was one other change that can cancel the benefits and potentially make the situation even worse. Blizzard has buffed all level 55 NPC guards to level 65. Since the level cap will still be 60 until the expansion, this will make town raids quite difficult.

Since even the average guards will be 5 levels higher than maximum-level players, they both resist and dodge most attacks. Melee will find that their attacks are reduced to glancing blows, and that the guards hit them with crushing blows quite often. Raiding builds and gear that add +hit, weapon skills and defense skills will be quite important.

How does this work with the removal of dishonorable kills? Simply put, the civilians still act the same way and call guards when you approach or attack them. Even if you kill the civilian with one blow, he still gets to call a guard to attack you. If you attack a settlement that normally has level 65 guards, the spawned guards will be level 65 as well. If a raid group passes a civilian, one guard is spawned for every character. Even with good gear and concentration, killing a level 65 guard on your own will be quite hard. In a chaotic situation like a town raid, a level 65 guard zerg will probably kill your whole raid group. This means that town raiders will have to seek out and kill all civilians in their path to limit the amount of guards that spawn.

However, Blizzard was hardly thorough when they adjusted guard levels. They only touched the level 55 guards, leaving everything else intact. This oversight will create serious imbalances between factions. With the exception of Highlord Bolvar Fordragon, all Alliance racial leaders are guarded by standard-issue level 65 guards. Horde racial leaders are guarded by level 60 non-elite special guards (with the exception of Sylvanas Windrunner, who has level 60 elite guards). This means that once you get to Horde racial leaders they are much more easier to kill than their Alliance counterparts. Also, since it will be much harder to clear the way to the racial leader than to kill the leader itself, raid groups will try to find ways to skip most of the fighting, and will end up summoning their raid groups in the vicinity of the leaders themselves.

Finally, the addition of level 65 guards means that druids and rogues will have a much harder time stealthing inside enemy cities. Say goodbye to ganking someone at the mailbox.


Faction Wars

Wowzer recently tackled the old issue of competing factions. Currently, there are three sets of competing factions in the game. The Gelkis and Magram Centaurs, Steamwheedle Cartel and Bloodsail Pirates, and finally Ravenholdt and the Syndicate. Of these three, only the centaur factions can be compared to teach other, because they are equal in power. Choosing between an unique hat and access to four important cities should be a no-brainer, so the Bloodsail mostly get ignored. The disrepancy is even greater with Ravenholdt and the Syndicate. While it is possible to gain reputation with the Syndicate by killing Ravenholdt personnel, there are no Syndicate NPCs that would talk to you. None. The faction exists in the game, but the various Syndicate at Hillsbrad, Arathi Highlands and Alterac Mountains do not count as members. You can kill them without losing Syndicate reputation. In fact, a very patient person could go kill some Ravenholdt personnel and then go pickpocket some Syndicate Emblems to regain their reputation with Ravenholdt. This can be repeated as long as necessary.

In addition to these, there were the Wildhammer Clan and the Revantusk Tribe at Hinterlands, but since you could gain reputation on only one of them, they were never really a choice and were removed as factions a few patches ago.

Fortunately, Burning Crusade will add one other pairing into the game, and this time they are equal in power and have rewards. In the neutral city of Shattrath, there are the Blood Elf Scryers and the Draenei Aldor, who compete for the favor of the Naaru A'dal. Working for Scryers decreases Aldor reputation (and vice versa), but working for either increases reputation with the Naaru. In addition, there is one more unrelated faction in Shattrath, the Lower City, which is mostly composed of refugees.

Wowzer did miss one important aspect of the factions, though. Too many of them are simply worthless. For example, there is a faction for the surviving Highborne in Dire Maul, the Shen'dalar, but the reputation bar is just for show. They offer no new quests and no new rewards depending on your reputation. The viability of high Timbermaw Furbolgs reputation depends heavily on your crafting skills. Unless you want the novelty trinket, many players never have a reason to grind their reputation higher than Unfriendly, which is required to pass Timbermaw Hold in peace.

The remaining factions have better rewards, but they are also tied to their respective dungeons. For example, the only way to gain Zandalar Tribe reputation is to clear Zul'Gurub repeatedly. Achieving high Thorium Brotherhood reputation requires your guild to farm Molten Core. What makes it worse is that you need the reputation to obtain enough fire resistance gear to eventually kill Ragnaros. Argent Dawn is somewhat better. While you can get to Exalted by grinding alone, it's much faster to run Stratholme and Scholomance with a good group. However, the best faction currently in the game is the Cenarion Circle. They offer both tangible items and crafting patterns. You can solo farm reputation, but there's also quests for parties and raids of all sizes, ranging from two-man parties for Field Duty to 40-man raids to Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. In addition, there are three-item sets for all classes obtainable from Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj.


Stranglethorn Heaven

Relmstein and a few others are agonizing over one of the most action-packed zones in the game, Stranglethorn Vale.

Personally, I love the place. Why? Because it teaches you how to survive in a changing environment. You learn to conserve your health, mana and cooldowns. It teaches you to pay attention to your surroundings, the dangers of respawn waves, select escape routes, deaggro mobs, how to approach hot spots, the value of friends and so on. It's excellent practice for other shared questing areas, like Tanaris, Searing Gorge or Silithus.

WoW Raids Compilation 2006

Curse Gaming has a neat video made by Conquest which makes even Molten Bore look exciting.

RP, lol

What follows is a clearheaded, comprehensive discussion about the state of roleplay in World of Warcraft.

..just kidding. If you are still unconvinced, the nice folks at Something Awful have found some more samples.


originally uploaded by Shalkis.
Ah, Blood Elf diplomats. Such grace and elegance. I'm going to have so much fun with these guys.

Video clips from a goldfarming operation

Although gold farming operations are usually quite secretive, one San Diego grad student has scored some interviews with goldfarmers and even has footage of their daily operations.
(Shamelessly stolen from Tobold)


Joking about suicide

For some reason, this guy had trouble convincing the police that he was just kidding after he threatened to kill himself after getting banned by Blizzard. Could it be that if he had killed himself, Blizzard would have been sued because of neglicence? Naah.. I'm sure it's just Blizzard bullying poor innocent players.


In defense of the gold farmers?

Friggingawesome.com has an article written by an author who, strangely enough, advocates buying gold. He first tries to justify the advantage gained by buying gold:

It's unfair for those players who does not have the extra cash to spare or would prefer to play it the old fashion way. But for example, we all know what Nintendo is right? Well when game shark came out did Nintendo try to stop or prevent them from selling? No, they didn't.
Although Nintendo did temporarily shut down the sales of Game Shark's precessor, the Game Genie, let's allow him to refute his own arguments:
But of course, for those who chose to cheat the game was not required to play with others that didn't want to cheat.
Incidentally, this is the same reason why game verification addons were very popular emong FPS gamers before they were integrated into the game engines themselves. Nobody wants to play at a clear disadvantage and lose.

Let's move on to the distruption caused by farmbots stealing all the kills. Let's allow him to describe the problem:
Yes I'm sure we've all experienced that farming now a days have been a little difficult due to the overwhelming population of WoW gold farmers. If gold wasn't able to be sold using real money the farmers wouldn't exist and players would probably be able to enjoy the game more.
Shock and horror, players being able to enjoy the game more? We can't have that.
Perhaps blizzard should enforce a law to farming? Or allow players to tag a mob and allow them preparation time to kill the mob they were targeting? Well, Blizzard is not a government and even if so, the government today isn't perfect either.
Fortunately, we don't have to rely on the big bad government. All you need to do is to contact a helpful player on the opposite faction. Tell him where the farmbot is and he'll take care of it. You'll be able to resume your farming and he'll get some free honor. Win-win. Unfortunately this doesn't work on PvE servers, so you'll just have to tag mobs just before the farmbot attacks them.

Let's move to economic effects, shall we?
Another reason why I can understand players hate the idea of buying/selling gold is because it disrupts the economy. If there is excess gold, then the value of gold drops and the value of the item will rise causing players to spend more gold on the item than what they would normally need to pay. Basic economics 101, inflation and deflation. A player can only farm an X amount of gold over a given period of time. The more gold there is, the more the item will cost, the more a player will have to farm unless they purchase the gold of course.
In other words, goldfarming results in a vicious circle that requires you to keep buying more gold. Surprisingly he doesn't want to refute his own arguments, and instead blames the almighty Blizzard:
Well with all these problems involving selling gold, why hasn't Blizzard done something? I believe they probably are working on a solution but believe it not, farmers do make up about 30% of their population. Somewhere in the back of their mind I'm sure they don't want to get rid of all subscribers. What they do instead is ban a few at a time and they would be required to buy a new world of warcraft cd key. Extra cash flow for the mighty O Blizzard. Yes farmers and sellers do get their accounts banned. But have not heard of any buyers getting banned however. Lucky for us?
While the buyers can be tracked, it might not be worth the trouble. Cutting the gold supply and making goldfarming unprofitable is most likely more effective.

He then moves on the topic of developer-sanctioned gold selling:
The Sony Exchange is a secure market place for players to auction their currencies and items to other players for real cash. In return SOE of course takes in a small fee for themselves. Charming isn't it?
Of course Sony can do whatever they want with their own games. Of course, it might have some consequences:
Believe it or not, but World of Warcraft subscriber base more than quadruples what SOE has in total.
I'm not saying that Blizzard's gold selling policy is the sole reason to WoW's success, but reactions to the Station Exchange weren't exactly favorable.
As you can see SOE is accepting the new trend and making a huge load of profit, I'm sure Blizzard would follow up on the idea as well. EverQuest was the first mmorpg hit ever, Blizzard known for their real time strategy games now has the most popular mmorpg as well. I wouldn't see why they won't follow and collect some of the cash themselves.
How about not wanting to kill the golden goose? Blizzard's competitors are already lining up and promising not to repeat their precedessors' mistakes. While the network effect might provide WoW some protection, customer goodwill can only go so far. Blizzard does need to keep their customer base happy, even if it means passing on some short-term profits.


Farmbot maker vs Blizzard

This is quite interesting. Blizzard tracked down the maker of a farmbot software known as WoW Glider. Blizzard told them to stop making it. Farmbot maker denies any wrongdoing and requests a jury trial.


World of Warcraft Roleplaying Wiki

I've recently started to write a biography of my character to the WoWRP wiki. Feel free to join in and add your own characters.


Pre-Burning Crusade Public Test Realm

PC: WoW-

Mac: WoW-

Patch notes:

- World of Warcraft Test Patch 2.0.1

The latest patch notes can always be found at


  • All players will have talent points reimbursed and will have access to new talents throughout their trees; this includes the 41-point talents. Several new abilities have also been added for all classes.
  • All pets now receive a percentage of their master's armor, spell damage, spell resistances, attack power, and stamina.
  • Low-level spells cast by high-level players will receive smaller bonuses from +healing and +spell damage.
  • HoTs, DoTs, and channeled spells have been re balanced to receive a more appropriate (higher) percentage of +spell damage and +healing.
  • HoTs from different sources will now stack (i.e. multiple druids can cast the Rejuvenation spell on 1 target).
  • New item property "Resilience" has been introduced. Resilience reduces your chance to be the victim of a critical strike, and reduces the amount of damage critical strikes do to you.
  • Weapon Skill now does the following:
    • Weapon skill will no longer reduce the percentage damage lost due to glancing.
    • The player will gain 0.1% to their critical strike rating per weapon skill against monsters above their level.

  • When casting a buff on a low level target, the appropriate rank of the buff will be automatically be applied.
  • Crowd Control effects in PvP will last no longer than 12 seconds instead of the full duration, with a chance of a heartbeat resist.
  • Players will no longer lose faction when under the influence of "Mind Control" or the Gnomish Mind Control Cap.


  • Honor System Revamp

    • Current honor totals have been reset.
    • Players may display their highest lifetime rank title (accessible from character sheet).
    • Honor points earned each day may now be spent as a form of currency. Check the PvP tab of your character sheet to see your honor information.
    • PvP rewards are no longer unique.

      • Marks of Honor earned from battlegrounds are no longer turned in for reputation or honor. They are now used in addition to honor points in order to purchase rewards.

  • Two New Arenas are now available in three different modes.
    • 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 matches
    • Players may queue up at Goblin NPC's in Stormwind, Ironforge, Orgrimmar, Undercity, and Gadgetzan


  • The talent "Swiftmend" will now include bonus healing from the talents "Improved Rejuvenation" and "Empowered Rejuvenation".


  • Traps can be set while in combat, but require a 2 second arming time.
  • Auto shot will be automatically enabled if the Hunter steps out of melee range while in combat with target.
  • 1 agility will now grant 1 ranged attack power.
  • Auto shot is now reset when casting Aimed Shot.


  • Shaman with the appropriate talent spec are now able to dual-wield. Both main and off-hand weapons can be affected by self-weapon buffs such as Windfury.
  • Rockbiter's weapon functionality has been changed. It is now a damage proc instead of a flat attack power bonus.
  • Windfury Weapon and Rockbiter Weapon enchantments will only benefit the weapon with the enchantment on it.


  • Range of "Drain Life" and "Drain Mana" spells have been increased.


  • Rage generation from dealing damage has been normalized.
    • All Rage awards are averaged with our expected rage per swing (adjusted for weapon speed).


  • The "Far Sight" effect has changed so that the camera now zooms in to a distant location, rather than instantly showing the distant view. This also affects the items: Ultra-Spectropic Vision Goggles, the Ornate Spyglass, and the Hunter ability "Eagle Eye."
  • Spells can now require either a totem item or a totem category item to cast a spell. This means that the Enchanting Rods now count as all of the lower level enchanting rods as well, so you only need a single enchanting rod instead of all six. This also means that "Finkel's Skinner" now counts as a Skinning Knife. Several weapons that are picks have been flagged as counting as a Mining pick as well.
  • Items that give bonuses, such as + to crit, have been modified to adhere to a combat rating system.
    • All current items will provide the exact same benefit from ratings at level 60 as they provided before the ratings system.

  • Thrown weapon items no longer stack, but use durability instead. One unit of durability is lost per throw, and these items can be repaired.
  • The tool tip for the Great Staff of the Guardian now shows the proper increase of 28 to the party spell critical rating.
  • Items that are useable from player inventory with a cooldown will now update the cooldown in real-time.
  • Players will no longer be able to sell the "Blue Skeletal Horse" to vendors.
  • The damage Proc from the item "Misplaced Servo Arm" will no longer break the Rogue ability "Gouge".
  • The "Skull of Impending Doom" has been changed and will now increase run speed by 60% for 10 seconds, but deals damage equal to 60% of your maximum health and drains 60% of your maximum mana for over 10 seconds.
  • The Backfire effect on the "Net-O-Matic" will no longer break on damage.


  • All of the profession-made items that have been created up to now have been given proper stats based on the current expansion item level progression table.
  • Most of the items made by Tailoring/Leatherworking/Blacksmithing have had their creation time reduced. Now the cap on time required to make an item in those professions is based on quality and level.
    • New Max times required.
      • Level 31+ Green Items at least 8 sec
      • Level 31+ Blue Items at least 15 sec
      • Level 31+ Purple Items at least 25 sec

  • Skill level now determines what items you can disenchant.
    • Skill 1= Level 1-20
    • Skill 25= Level 20-25
    • Skill 50= Level 25-30
    • Skill 75= Level 30-35
    • Skill 100= Level 35-40
    • Skill 125= Level 40-45
    • Skill 150= Level 45-50
    • Skill 175= Level 50-55
    • Skill 200= Level 55-60
    • Skill 225= Level 60-65

  • Players will no longer lose an item when attempting to disenchant on a boat when the loading screen appears.

User Interface

  • Meeting Stone gossip options have been removed from Innkeepers in preparation for the new LFG system.
    • Tips have been added to Loading Screen tips and new player tips
    • Meeting Stones now function similar to a Warlock Summon spell.
      • Player's select party member to be summoned and right click the stone.
      • A second party member then clicks the portal to summon.

  • Enchanting UI has been vastly improved.
  • Raid UI now supports frame for Main Tank.
  • Spell Alert (Enemy Cast bar)
    • Defaults to off
    • Enabled through Interface Options
    • Displays targeted enemy's cast bar when they are casting.
    • May also be displayed with "V" key functionality.

  • Auto-loot may be enabled with just one click in the Interface Options.
  • Character sheet UI now displays more precise melee, ranged, and spell stats.
  • Players can now cast item targetable spells on items that are in your action bar. For instance you can cast feed pet and have the food you want the pet to be fed in one of your action bars.
  • Semi-charged items can no longer be placed in the Auction House.
  • A knowledge base has been added to the in-game UI.
    • Searchable database of FAQ's and common support issues.

  • Keyrings have been expanded to hold more key-type items and will now size dynamically for the number of keys in possession.
  • The Hunter ability "Mend Pet" will now turn red when a pet is out of range.
  • Players will now be able to disable ability messages in the floating combat text.
  • Players will now be able to scroll down their ignore list if it extends beyond one page.
  • The tooltips for the Show Dispellable Debuffs and Show Castable Buffs options will now specify they only apply to raid pullout groups.
  • Significant changes have been made to User Interface customization. For specific details, please visit http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=36975623&sid=1 .


  • The Rend Blackhand arena event in Upper Blackrock Spire will now properly reset after a wipe.
  • Players will no longer resurrect with low mana and health if they died and released on a Zeppelin or Ship.
  • Fixed an issue where effects with 100% chance to be applied were being resisted.
  • Fixed an issue where high level players were not being properly credited the right amount of faction reputation.
  • Party members will now be properly credited for completing the "Dead Man's Plea" quest when a totem or pet gets the killing blow on Baron Rivendare.
  • Slowing abilities and spells will no longer decrease the speed of a player when traveling by Gryphon.
  • Fixed an issue where players were re-taining talent based abilities even after re-training.
  • Fixed an issue where the Warlock spell "Shadowburn" was improperly consuming two Soul Shards.
  • Fixed an issue where players were unable to click on anything if they had any add-ons installed.
  • Fixed an issue where players were able to use "Mana Burn" on mobs and players without mana.
  • Fixed an issue where spells that proc while a player was standing would not proc if they were sitting or lying down.
  • Fixed many interface overlapping graphic issues.
  • Fixed an issue where Seal of Justice (Rank 2) will now refresh with melee strikes.
  • Blood Elf mobs in Azshara will now have the correct model.
  • Fixed an issue where a spell with two procs would be reflected and one of the procs would still hit the player that reflected the spell.
  • Fixed an issue that was putting Hunters back into combat when they have the "Spirit Bond" Talent or have the Cryptstalker set bonus.
  • Fixed an issue where players were being awarded the wrong item when double looting a corpse under the master loot option.
  • Fixed an issue where players interrupted while casting would have a longer cast time than normal.
  • Fixed an issue where players could not see enchants when inspecting another player.
  • Fixed an issue where extra attacks from "Windfury Weapon" would not proc "Flurry" when they crit.
  • Fixed an issue where players that were killed in freezing traps would be stuck there until releasing.
  • Fixed an issue where Warlocks were able to despawn a pet to gain a free "Soul Shard"in the Battlegrounds.
  • Warrior "Shield Slam" and "Shield Bash" will no longer trigger a proc from an equipped weapon.
  • Fixed an issue where players were able to consume a Mana Emerald at full mana.
  • The totem, "Wrath of Air," will no longer be useable in "Ghost Wolf" form.
  • Fixed an issue where Warrior "Battle Shout" was causing too much threat.
  • Fixed an issue where computers with ATi video cards were sometimes having problems when displaying a certain texture.
  • Fixed an issue where the Warlock spell "Death Coil" gained double the benefit from the talent "Shadow Mastery".
  • Player pets will no longer attack CC'ed targets while in Passive mode.
  • "Prayer of Spirit" will no longer cast on the user if there is no other target selected.
  • "Lightning Shield" will now have the appropriate cool-down time between uses.
  • Fixed an issue where materials were being consumed if a player logged out before an enchantment had finished being applied.
  • The Hunter, "Auto Shot," ability will no longer activate on resurrection.
  • Fixed a bug where "Inner Focus" was not being consumed when using "Mind Soothe."
  • Fixed a bug where Rogues were able to use the ability "Ghostly Strike" when not facing their target.
  • Warlock pet dismiss sounds will now play properly.
  • Fixed an issue where Fist weapons were sheathing improperly.
  • Bags will no longer overlap the Bank UI when the game window is resized.
  • Players will no longer be able to whisper to enemy players in Battlegrounds.
  • The Skeletal Gryphon ride for the Eastern Plaguelands PvP event will now fly at its correct speed.
  • Players will no longer be able to whisper to enemy players in Battlegrounds.
  • Players will no longer be able to jump onto the top of the Dun Baldur Fortress in Alterac Valley and get behind the terrain to attack other players.
  • Shapeshifting will now break "Nogginfogger Elixir" effect.
  • You will no longer die when Feign Death is finished channeling.
  • "Scatter Shot" will now properly do damage even if the target is immune to the confuse effect.
  • "Aspect of the Cheetah" will now properly trigger with absorbed damage.
  • Casting a lower rank polymorph on a target that is already under the effect of a higher rank will cause an error message and not consume mana.
  • The talent, "Master of Elements," will now properly proc off of totems.
  • Players will no longer be attacked by same faction guards when using mind control on an enemy player to attack.
  • "Vanish" will now properly un-target the Rogue from the attacker when the attacker is in the same party.
  • The talent, "Improved Chain Heal," will now properly add to the base healing done.
  • "Healing Wave" Ranks 11 and 12 will now benefit from the Shaman talent, "Healing Way."
  • "Improved Curse of Agony" will now properly increase the base and spell power.
  • Warlocks will now be properly credited a Soul Shard from their pet when they take a flight path.
  • Warlocks will now be properly credited a Soul Shard from their pet when they are dead at the end of a Battleground match.
  • Warlocks will now be properly credited a Soul Shard from their pet when they enter an Arena.
  • Casting "Dark Pact" after exiting combat will no longer put you back in combat.
  • The tool tip for the "Great Staff of the Guardian" now shows the proper increase of 28 to the party spell critical rating.
  • Several Chest spawns in Dustwallow Marsh will now properly spawn above ground.
  • Items that can give +Stamina/Intellect from random suffixes will now properly apply while dead.
  • "Beastmaster's Gloves" will now give the proper 2% crit chance for Hunter pets.
  • Various graphical errors will be noticeable while viewing maps.


Hell hath no fury..

After de fiasco in de Arena, I set tings into motion. I was hopin' dat de enemy of my enemy could be my friend. At least unwillingly, if not odderwise.

I had heard reports of attacks against Grom'Gol, so I set out to investigate.


At first, nottin' interestin' seemed to be happanin'. Just a lone elf lurin' guards out from the protection of de walls. Wait.. I know dis one. Melaisis. Melnerag had informed be dat dis one had hired de clumsy assassin who tried to keel me in de Council meetin'. Hmm..

I used my trusty spyglass to take a closer look. Nottin' at de back or side gates, but at de front.. Perfect.


Several members of de Shinin' Strand, includin' Trollbane, de gnome known as Tiberio and odders. Even de clanky assassin from de meetin' had shown up. I see dat dey got my message and acted like I had foreseen. But dis play also required de villain, and de Empire was nowhere to be seen..


Hmm, only a handful. Oh well. Dat'll have to do for now. De board is set and de pieces are movin'.

Inevitable results

Of course, it was over soon, and ended just like I predicted. De Gurubashi would be lickin' deir wounds today and proddin' deir.. Prophet into action. But.. wat's dis?


Perfect. I did not intend for dis.. Taerak to be here, but perhaps it's best dat someone odder witnessed dis as well. Dis is not over yet. Not over at all. Perhaps dere is some part in de web for him as well.


Theory of Magic on Azeroth

Here's my theory on the source of magic and how the Well of Eternity, Sunwell and the Eye of Dalaran fit into it:

All magic on Azeroth originated from the Twisting Nether. When the Titans arrived, they created the Well of Eternity to speed up the terraforming of Azeroth. Norgannon, being the cataloguer of magic, was probably responsible for it's creation. Using the Well of Eternity as a conduit to the raw power of the Twisting Nether, they amplified their own powers, kicked the Old Gods around, shaped seas and mountains, made things grow and so on. The Titans finish their work and teach/modify five dragons on how to use the Well of Eternity. They leave the dragons to guard it, pack up and leave.

Note that at this point, magic only exists near the Well of Eternity, in the Five Aspects and nowhere else.

An unnamed troll tribe wanders near the Well and mutates into Night Elves. They begin to dabble on magic. This dabbling catches the attention of Cenarius, who becomes their mentor. The ancient Night Elf civilization is born. Despite Cenarius' warnings, they continue to dabble with magic and build the magical city of Zin'Ashari around the Well. They catch the attention of Sargeras.

Having lived in the Twisting Nether for ages, Sargeras and the rest of the Burning Legion have started to consider it their turf, and don't like the Night Elves siphoning "their" energy. The Burning Legion convinces Xavius, Azshara & co to shut down the spells distributing magic to the rest of the Night Elf civilization. This accomplishes two things. First, there's more magic to be used for enlargening the portal, and it stops the Night Elves from stealing "their" magic. Felhounds are dispatched to leech magic back from any beings that contain it. However, these events alert Malfurion, Illidan and Cenarius. After some fighting, the Highborne and the Burning Legion forces that already arrived get beaten back, the Well implodes and scatters large amounts of magic energy around the world. However, Illidan did have time to scoop up a few vials of concentrated magical energy from the Well before the implosion. A few of these vials are used to create the new Well of Eternity, an another conduit to the Twisting Nether. One vial is used by the Highborne to create the Sunwell in newly found Quel'Thalas.

The implosion of the Well created the current conditions where magic can be wielded all around Azeroth. The ambient magic can be accounted for the natural mana regeneration of the mages of various races. In addition, experienced mages can tap directly into the Twisting Nether (Evocation) whenever they need more power. This is both tiring and dangerous, though. Because the Burning Legion is continously looking for thieves stealing "their" energy, long-term conduits need to be shielded. Otherwise the Burning Legion will track them down and kill or enslave the spellcaster.

Fast-forward a few thousand years. Forest trolls keep attacking the High Elves, and they have to enlist the help of the humans. Dalaran is founded, and yet another conduit, the Eye of Dalaran, is created to power the spells around the city. While magic can be wielded anywhere, it is much easier to use it in the vicinity of established conduits, because there's more ambient energy around. In addition, the output of the conduit can be increased when necessary for large spells. Having lived in a magic-saturated environment for generations, the High Elves get used to it, just like their Highborne precedessors got used to living near the Well of Eternity.

Fast-forward a few more hundred years. Horde invades and steals the runestones protecting Quel'Thalas from detection. The demon-controlled Horde ultimately fails in it's task, but Quel'Thalas is nevertheless exposed and becomes known to the Burning Legion. Ner'zhul orders Grom & co to steal the Eye of Dalaran. He uses this conduit to power his portal spells, but lacks the know-how to keep them stable. After failing to create stable portals, Ner'zhul escapes from the doomed Draenor and is captured by the Burning Legion. He is turned into the Lich King and is sent to Azeroth.

Fast-forward a few years. Dar'khan screws things up and severs the connection the Sunwell has to the Twisting Nether. Nevertheless, enough magic remains in the Sunwell for Arthas to reanimate Kel'Thuzad. Kel'Thuzad summons Archimonde, who immediately punishes the mages of Dalaran for "wielding our fire as their own". Now that both the Eye of Dalaran and the Sunwell are out of commission, the only remaining conduit on Azeroth is the Well of Eternity under Nordrassil. The Burning Legion travels to Kalimdor.

Archimonde ultimately fails and the Burning Legion is unable to both shut down the remaining "leak" and to reclaim the magical energies still remaining on Azeroth.

Meanwhile, the High Elves are in serious withdrawal and are having difficulties adjusting to the normal levels of ambient magic. Kael'thas finds Illidan, who instructs him on how to tap into magic-saturated demons themselves. Rommath is sent back to Azeroth to instruct the remaining Blood Elves and brings along the Naaru captured from the Tempest Keep. Armed with both the knowledge originated from Illidan and the Naaru, the Blood Elves rebuild Silvermoon using their new magical energies. The big green floating stones found around the city are captured demons used to power the gravity-defying architecture of the Blood Elves.


Symbolically cast... in a bad light

The Pig's significant other gives him an important lesson on WoW masculinity, while the Pig himself is trying to get accustomed to his new identity as John Elfovich.




Nothing seems to work out how it's supposed to. First the failure at the Arena and now this. I had just by chance encountered the nephew of Syskae Anahain, recently reawakened from the grave. I thought it was a prime opportunity shake up the paladin's beliefs, but.. Their words are polite and regretful, but their eyes betray their true feelings. Disgust.

Illan Anahain 01

There was nothing new in a Forsaken that hates what he has become, but I had underestimated just how strong the disgust the humans have against the undead is. Family bonds are the only thing that are keeping this reunion from exploding in a shower of bone splinters. The girl.. Nieve is too busy trying to keep her last meal in to say anything, and even this.. Trianon has problems controlling himself. If this was anyone else but Illan Anahain, the meeting would already be over.

Illan Anahain 02


And the stubborness of this.. Illan is something quite remarkable indeed. Even though there is living, breathing evidence that he did not fail in protecting his family, he still blames himself. I had hoped this would make Syskae more receptive to things I have planned for him, but I fear it's having an opposite effect. How is he supposed to get along with likes of Sir Leonid Bartholomew if his own nephew spews this crap?

Illan Anahain 03

Using my wounds as an excuse, I allowed them some privacy. Illan did not wait even until I was out of earshot. The moment I said I'd be moving further away for a while, his tone of voice changed into anger and his words to Common. No doubt he is sowing mistrust and hate into their minds. Why can't they just understand this is for their own best interest?

Illan Anahain 04

Still, I had to play out my part in this chapter with elegance. Altruism can be a very powerful mask. Hopefully powerful enough to stay their hand and overcome their minds with guilt. Their belief in their own virtue will be my shield. I will need one in the months ahead. If things are lat to progress on their own weight, I'll have plenty of enemies in both sides soon.

Illan Anahain 05

After Illan's tearful goodbyes, it was time to set things in motion. I may have failed in the Arena, but I would make sure that the He would have to fight to the death for every scrap of power. It was time to let the enemies of my enemies to be my friends. It was time to let them know.

The Gurubashi had a new Emperor, and blood would yet again flow like rivers in Stranglethorn.

Googling for Warcraft

For all your Warcraft-related searches, there's a customized Google search available. This one automatically understands the context, so search results from WoWWiki, Thottbot, Allakhazam and other WoW-related sites are usually found at the top.

Google Maps & Azeroth

This Google Maps version of Azeroth is pretty cool. Google Maps Mania also reports that all of the trading cards are viewable with the same interface.


Carbon Copy WoW?

What is the WoW Island? Apparently it's a fan-created web-based MMOG that rides on the name and success of the real game. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this one is outright plagiarism. A lot of the content seems to be datamined straight out of WoW, including graphics, items, monsters and so on. I can't see how this could be legal. Blizzard did get a lot of flak from the fan community when they lawyered up and shut down bnetd, the Battle.Net emulator for the RTS games, but I doubt many tears will be shed when this one gets shut down.

Warcraft Encyclopedia

Blizzard has recently released their official Warcraft Encyclopedia. While it is nowhere near as comprehensive as the WoW Wiki, it does seem to be written in-character. Because of this, it is unlikely to contain major spoilers to in-game quests or events. However, this also restricts the scope of the Encyclopedia severely. On the other hand, the Encyclopedia authors do have one major advantage over the more numerous WoW Wiki authors. It is much easier for them to get clarifications to unsolved issues from Chris Metzen or any other Blizzard employees responsible for the lore. WoWWiki staff will have to rely on in-game sources, books, the roleplaying game, interviews or even mere speculation.



There had been rumors in the air about an attack. Distant sounds of cavalry, moving around at the Highlands. The smell of death was in the air, and it wasn't from the Defilers. They would come tonight. Slavers.

Hammerfall was a thorn in the humans' behinds. The empty cages swayed quietly in the wind, as a reminder of what was. The guards were sharpening their blades, and a single thought was apparent on everyone's faces. Never again. It had been a prison. A place where the orcish race would wither away, out of sight, out of mind. A place of utter and complete defeat. In mind, soul and body. Especially soul. It had worked for a while. Until..

The sound of hooves interrupted my thoughts. My spyglass revealed their frontman. And.. oh crap. The pointman is heading straight towards the gates, too quickly for the guards to close it. The others were not far behind. Humans, with some gnomes, dwarves and even elves. This spearhead charge has no doubt been preceded by hours of talks of camadaderie, virtue and justice. The humans are no strangers to bloodlust. They just have prettier words for it. No matter. Spears can be broken and their morale can be shattered by killing their pointman. A sudden reminder of their mortality will take the force out of their charge.

And here he comes, straight into my trap. Now I'll just..

I awoke moments later with my face in the dirt. I felt I had been stepped upon, repeatedly. They had descended upon me like a swarm of wasps. I smell smoke. And I hear screams. It's not yet over. Good. I lift myself up. The ground is filled with hoofprints. I must have underestimated their speed. Their main force seems to be busy with the wyverns, but the hospital seems untouched. I run to the hospital while the enemies are still busy with the rest of the guards. Doctor Victor seems worried. It's only a matter of time before they are spotted. The patients wouldn't even have a chance of dying in battle. It would just be a slaughter. No doubt a messenger has already been sent to Tarren Mill. All I need to do is to keep them occupied long enough. I sneak out of the main gate, past the dead guards.

Ah, there. Hubris was quickly taking hold of them. While the others were busy slaughtering everyone at the inn, a single warrior was left at the back gate. Easy prey. Others had already started to arrive, and the gnome's life was forfeit in mere seconds. Her screams would attract the rest, so I circled around the main building, looking for my next target. And yet another slowpoke felt the chill of death. Confusion is starting to take hold of them. I snuck inside the empty inn, knowing that they would see me.

Predictably, they followed me in. I backed away, luring two of them after me while the others were delayed by the patrons. With cold steel swinging right above my head and arrows being deflected by my protective barrier, I ran to the top floor. And they followed me. Perfect. Before they could react, I leaped over the railing and back to the first floor. The main group didn't even react when I made my way through the battle.

The cat and mouse -game seemed to last for hours, but eventually they were forced to regroup outside the gates. Several of their more foolhardy comrades were cut down by the barrage of spells and arrows. It was almost time to end this. A final charge to shatter their spirits. With spinechilling battlecries, the orcs took the point, with me following right behind them. I danced among the chaos. And then.. I was cut down.

When I regained conciousness, it was already over. I limped back inside the walls and let the others drag the bodies back. The doctor was busy counting the dead at the courtyard. He was already in a fouler mood than usual, so I did not want to bother him. I leaned against the inner metal fence and started bandaging my wounds. Too many died, but at least Hammerfall stands.

For now.

Thrall's grandma

Jaynez recently witnessed an event where Thrall returns to Outland to see the folks. Apparently the event is so well-made that even PvPers /kneel when he arrives.

Interview of a Gold Farmer

RPG Beacon has interviewed a gold farmer. Apparently the mass bans by Blizzard are effective in shutting these "no-pollution factories" down.


World of Warcraft trading card game is the spawn of Satan

Apparently Elüna was right. Slashdot is reporting that other people are also quite unhappy about the cost of the in-game benefits available by collecting the cards.