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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blood Sport: Warrior-Druid overpowered?

Every Thursday, V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.

A quick look at the chart above and one thing clearly leaps out. Clue: it has to do with mortal strikes, HoTs and cyclones.

Well, every third team you meet nowadays in 2v2 will probably be a Warrior-Druid team. This comp (short for composition) seems to be running away with the 2v2 bracket currently: 20 of the top 50 US teams are Warrior-Druid comps - that's 40%. For teams with ratings greater than 2200, close to 30% are Warrior-Druid. They also make up almost a quarter of all 2v2 teams, regardless of rating. That's a lot of Warrior-Druid teams.

What makes the comp tick?
In this comp, the Warrior is obviously the main, durable source of almost inexhaustible DPS. The Druid, usually specced resto (8/11/42), adds to the Warrior's survivability and brings versatility to the team. The win condition of this comp is simple: outlast their opponents.

The Warrior-Druid team will generally open with the Druid stealthed in cat form. This effectively hides the higher priority (healer) target from the other team, until heals are called for. The Warrior can usually hold the fort for a few seconds, while dismantling softer targets of the other team: clothies or other healers. They generally want to establish control while surviving as long as possible before their teammates step in with some healing love.

Resto druids are extremely mobile healers, with fire-and-forget HoTs cast on the go, travel form to zip around maps and immunity to polymorph. Their mobility is augmented by various abilities to immobilize threats: roots, cyclone, maim, and even bash and charge in bear form. Their job in the Arena is largely defensive and evasive - staying out of trouble by using LOS and CC abilities. That said, a well-timed CC on the other team's healer can be a devastating offensive move by this versatile class.

A match against a Warrior-Druid team often feels like the Warrior is unkillable, with the wily healer just prancing out of reach and LOS. This often forces their opponents to blow their cooldowns in an effort to burst down either, which is probably what the Warrior-Druid team wants. The premise of the team, after all, is to survive everything their opponents throw at them while maintaining a healthy mana for the Druid, so that the Warrior can continue to DPS the way to victory.

In a gaming environment, when one archetype is prevalent, we can expect a second archetype to emerge as an answer or counter to the dominant archetype. Looking at the three most popular team comps at the top of the 2v2 bracket, we have:

Warrior-Druid 29.5% (-4.5% from last week)
Rogue-Priest 15.2% (-0.8%)
Warlock-Druid 10.6% (not in top three last week)

Of the top 50 Rogue-Priest teams, about half field a shadow Priest (20/0/41). This is significant as only about 6% of priests in top Arena teams are specced shadow, with the vast majority being holy discipline (thanks Tyler) priests. In other words, most of the shadow priests in 2v2 are represented in Rogue-Priest teams. It comes as no surprise that this comp, while good against other archetypes, is probably also one of the tougher comps a Warrior-Druid team can find itself up against.

A Priest can dispel HoTs and silence the Druid - definitely cramping the latter's healing potential. Abolish Poison can also be dispelled, allowing time for the Rogue's wound poison to stack and further reducing the effectiveness of druidic healing. Most shadow priest and rogue teams will focus their fire on the Warrior to quickly force the Druid out of hiding. Thereafter, the Rogue will go after the healer while the shadow priest continues to wear the Warrior down. In this scenario of split DPS, Warrior-Druid teams will play very defensively to buy time for HoTs, exhaust the Rogue's tricks, and hopefully deplete the Priest's mana.

Interestingly, the Rogue and holy Priest comp is considered less dangerous by Warrior-Druid teams. While the Priest may try to dispel, silence or mana burn the Druid, the Warrior's damage output on the Rogue will force the healer to focus on healing to keep his teammate alive. In this matchup, both the Warrior's durability and the Druid's mobility against Rogue DPS are definitely assets.

A Warlock-Druid matchup is almost an endurance match, with both teams very capable of keep their main DPSer alive. The Warlock will try to take down the opposing Druid; mobility is important here for the Druid, to duck out of LOS of the Warlock's nukes and fear.

While the Warrior generally has nothing to fear (heh) from the Warlock, interference from the opposing Druid will make the durable Warlock hard to dispatch. The Warrior may also go after the Warlock's pet (twice if necessary, for Demonology warlocks) in an effort to disable Soul Link or other disruptive pet abilities. In this matchup, the toons will seem to be running in circles: Warrior hunts Warlock, Warlock hunts Druid A, Druid A trys to CC Druid B, Druid B tries to heal Warlock and CC Warrior. Thankfully, Druid B's mana is not inexhaustible and again, the Warrior-Druid team may triumph by simply outlasting their opponents.

A strategy that has emerged to counter the MS Warrior's ubiquity in all brackets is the 'Warrior gib'. The premise of this strategy is to burst gib the Warrior with multiple sources of burst DPS before his or her healers have any chance of healing. In the 2v2 bracket, this means two sources of burst DPS - which I suspect aren't fast enough to take down a well-geared Warrior who has stacked up on resilience. A dual-DPS team like the Rogue-Mage also means no healers. Against a field of other DPS-heal archetypes, dual-DPS teams probably do not do well enough to pose a viable threat. Rogue-Mage teams form only about 4% of the field in the US 2v2 bracket.

Are you in a Warrior-Druid team, and if you are, what are your experiences? Do you think that this comp is the "best" in 2v2? What other counter-strategies can you suggest against this team?

In other brackets, the most popular comps for top-level teams on the US servers are:

Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Warlock 16.9% (-0.2% from last week)
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Shaman-Mage 12.4% (+1%)
Warrior-Paladin-Priest-Hunter-Warlock 5.6% (-0.1%)

Rogue-Priest-Mage 18.9% (+1.3%)
Rogue-Druid-Warlock 8.7% (-1.1%)
Warrior-Priest-Druid 7.9% (-0.9%)

In the chart above, warlocks seemed to have relinquished their dueling superiority to the Warrior-Druid combo, although they are still the third most represented class in 2v2. Hunters have all but shrugged off their 'red-headed stepchild of Arenas' status by maintaining their fourth most represented class standing in 2v2. Pallies and shammies fill the 5v5 bracket, leaving their hybrid brethren - druids - to dominate the smaller brackets. Rogues are peculiarly prevalent in the middle-of-the-road 3v3 bracket.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

12 Days of Winter Veil contest winners!

Winter Veil

It's been a few weeks since we wrapped up our 12 Days of Winter Veil contest in cooperation with our friends at Ideazon, and though we're still trying to get in touch with some of our winners, there are a lot of WoW Insider readers who deserve congratulations! Winners of FragMat gamepads include: Melenor, Ragamuffin42, Mia, Wilkie, Ellyndia, SJPadbury, Nojj, Ed, Annai, Dachande, ceckjustin, Alu, Hostile, Stephen, Analogstd, pamoonbtc, Brian, TwhiT, Efigyuge, ArsenalFox, Rhiley, and ragecage. Winners of 60 day WoW game cards are Hostile, Stoney, and Vitasoy. Winners of GH-100 gaming headsets are Zoltargg and Jane. Winners of Zboard keyboards are Swarfy, Begonia, 1Adam12, and Chris. And, finally, G is taking home a class t-shirt and Leigh is taking home a Reaper gaming mouse.

Thanks to everyone for participating and a big congrats to all of our winners!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How much money Blizzard is really making from 10 million subscribers

An article on (which I found via Incgamers) tried to take the news about Blizzard's ten million subscribers from earlier this week, and suss out just how much money they're making. They do what most people would do, which is multiply their $15 subscription rate per month times ten million, which would mean that Blizzard is raking in $150 million a month, or about $1.7 billion a year is gross profits.

Except that's not right. Because while North American and European players pay about $15 a month, many Chinese and Asian subscribers don't pay monthly-- they pay hourly, at a much lower rate than what other players around the world pay. With 2.5 million and 2 million subscribers in North American and Europe respectively, Blizzard is still making $810 million a year (not to mention the cost to purchase the original game and the expansion pack, which at this point is probably negligible at this point given how much retailers like to take out) in those places. But that leaves 5.5 million players in other countries, and their payment plans aren't as rigidly defined.

Of course, obviously these are all estimates as well, and they're gross, too-- you have to remember that Blizzard pays a huge group of people money to keep up content, customer service, promotion, and administration, as well as maintenance on what must be a huge number of servers (each realm has at least three or four servers running on it, for each continent and all the instances). And Blizzard has other income coming in as well-- licensing fees, fees from The9 (the company that actually runs WoW in China, and likely collects subscription fees there), transfer fees from players, and so on.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

15 Minutes of Fame: Hammer time

auden 15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – both the renowned and the relatively anonymous. Know an interesting player you'd like to see profiled? E-mail us your tips.

This week's 15 Minutes of Fame subject has earned her time in the limelight – and it's actually worth more than a mere 15 minutes. Auden, creator of the wry and witty Hammer of Grammar, shines her sharp wit into all the little cracks and crevices of WoW culture and online life. Hammer isn't another off-the-grid, lore-based fantasy adventure; instead, through their doggedly domestic lives, Auden and her partner in crime Gweryc (yeah, the melee hunter guy) make us chuckle over the little things that endear the game world to us.

The proverbial "one tough cookie" IRL, Auden's unquenchable spirit comes through not only in her comic but in this exclusive interview with WoW Insider. Read more about what keeps her in the game and at her design desk, after the break.
15 Minutes of Fame: Tell us what sparked your interest in World of Warcraft. When did you start playing? What characters are you actively playing?

Auden: I've dabbled in various online virtual worlds since I had a 2400 baud modem, so WoW attracted my interest almost immediately. I held off on actually trying it until I was hit with a major case of writer's block, which was just before Christmas 2005. I thought it would be like the other MMORPGs I'd tried ... I'd play for a while, get bored and go back to writing. Damn you and your finest crack rock, Blizzard Entertainment!

Auden's become my main, but since 2.3 she's turned into an overdressed gold farmer for a druid and a mage that I'm raising. I'm a completely casual player; the closest thing I've done to raiding was road-tripping with my guild to loot the Headless Horseman of all his jewelry. My real-life commitments don't let me play on a stable schedule.

What inspired you to create Hammer of Grammar? When and how did it all begin?

Gweryc -- or rather, the dynamic between us -- was the primary inspiration. We've been on a 15-year quest to crack each other up, and when we're together, we tend to riff off each other. I have pounds of instant messenger logs that ought to be comedy sketches.

The original idea began one night after we'd broken out in spontaneous stupidity. I had the idea to throw some word bubbles on a screenshot of the evening and send it to him for lulz. It got a bit fancier than I'd planned, and the first comic was born.

Gweryc -- what's the connection there?

Contrary to popular belief, I am not his wife, his girlfriend, nor his alt ... Gweryc and I have been friends since high school. We have a beautiful relationship built on creativity, trust and the fact that I have videos of him drunk on Zima that I could upload to YouTube if he pisses me off.

What's your background in art/design?

I come from a creativity-saturated family. There seems to be a rule; you either get artistic talent, or you're smokin' hot, effortlessly thin and naturally blonde. Unfortunately, my sister won't trade with me.

I never had any formal training -- my actual degree is in psychology -- but I've had a lot of creative projects I wanted or needed to do that I taught myself the skills for as I went along. I didn't so much pursue a graphic design career as fall into it. A friend liked the arty things I did as a hobby, convinced me to join his company as a graphic designer ... And before you can say "This isn't my major," I had a reasonably impressive work history that kept me in beer money.

Influences? Let's talk about your favorites.

My most direct influence would have to be Flintlocke; I try hard not to rip him off. There was actually a comic in development that I'm not sure will see the light of day in which I poke fun at the many similarities. (Dammit, Gweryc, why couldn't you have rolled an orc?)

I didn't read any other Warcraft webcomics until I started Hammer of Grammar. Once someone pointed out the similarities between "Into the Black Temple" and "Azerothian Super-Villains" -- which I'd never heard of -- it occurred to me that I really ought to check and make sure I wasn't accidentally plagiarizing anyone else. My fear was justified. I found out that a major plot arc I'd been planning had already been done on "By Way of Booty Bay," and another was the entire basis of "The Scout Report." There are a lot of really great WoW webcomics out there, the vast majority far superior to mine.

In terms of favorite webcomics, though, nothing beats Penny Arcade. Those guys rule the cosmos.

It's obvious that readers are insatiably curious about how, technically, you put Hammer of Grammar together. Without spilling any of your trade secrets, can you tell us more about the tools and techniques you use in Hammer of Grammar?

It's basically a collage. The characters are posed in the model viewer, the word balloons are done in Illustrator, the backgrounds are either screenshots or "sets" I've built out of parts. I put it all together in Photoshop, then paint in anything that's missing.

The process has evolved a lot. I do a lot more work on shadows and coloring than I did at the beginning. For "On The Perils of Player Housing," I spent about a week building the set. It's a 100+ layer Photoshop file, designed so that I can change the time of day, the weather, the view outside, turn the fire on and off, have them sit in the furniture and be properly masked, etc. Most of it's painted -- the plants, the stained-glass windows, the candles, the books. Other bits were extracted from real WoW textures. It was a bit insane, but I figured I'd reuse the location.

Where do you "shop" for appropriate armor for each comic -- in game, online, a modeler ...?

Once I switched to the Windows model viewer, what you see Auden and Gweryc wearing is straight from the Armory. We should be a bit more fashionable when we return, since I finally completed my FSW set. For other characters, I shop in the modeler.

About how long does it take to produce one installment?

It really depends. If I already have an idea, and I'm slapping us on a screenshot -- and if I'm gifted with an unbroken block of free time -- I can pull it off in a night. It's generally a lot longer, though.

What part of creating the strip do you enjoy the most?

I think my favorite bit is the compositing. Getting the pieces together is really tedious. I have to swap between two computers and go through a lot of rigamarole. Once everything is together and I'm fine-tuning jokes and tweaking shadows, that's when I get to really concentrate and enjoy.

What's your favorite installment of Hammer of Grammar?

I'd say "On the Perils of Player Housing." That one took so damned long, it's my baby.

Let's talk about how RL and your subject matter in Hammer of Grammar intersect. How much of your character's lives and situations are pulled from ... well, yours?

I pull most of the material from real life -- or at least, things that have really happened to us in the game, although Auden and Gweryc are based on their roleplaying characters much more than the actual personalities of the players behind them. That's probably very obvious to anyone who has read Gweryc's blog. Gweryc the character is a loveable buffoon, but the guy who plays him is brilliant.

Overall, I've tried to leave real life out of it, ripe for mining as it might be; those are issues I don't want to have to deal with or work around. Auden logging off, driving to Gweryc's house and punching his real-life human in the stomach (which I have never and would never do, by the way) is probably as much of a mention of their offline friendship as will appear.

Look at all the WoW lore links on your site -- what a gold mine! Have you played all the Warcraft games as well?

I have not. I'm not much of a strategy gamer; I think I have a chip on my shoulder about it from all those nights I spent in college all dolled up, wearing the good underwear and lounged across this hot guy's bed while he ignored me to play Command and Conquer.

WoW was my first exposure to the Warcraft universe. Once I got into the lore, I went back and watched all the cut scenes I could get my hands on and researched the various characters. I'm that person who actually reads all those books lying around the inns.

What about the Warcraft books, the graphic novels ... Are you a fan?

I'd like to read them; I've read synopses of all of them. Someday, when my life's a little less crazy ...

What about this (WoW Insider blogger) Matt Rossi guy -- how do you know him?

Matt and I befriended each other years ago through our blogs, which eventually led to him coming for a visit. We visited caged gnomes, buried a cat, dyed his hair blue and decided to take a random road trip to visit another friend.

Protip: If you're leaving town with some random guy you met on the Internet -- particularly a blue-haired one built like a Viking raider and draped in black leather -- it's nice to tell people that you're leaving. Otherwise, you might come home to discover that you've been reported kidnapped.

What keeps you busy in the infamous RL?

My mother had a stroke in June, which left her profoundly disabled, and I quit my job to become her full-time caregiver. It's pretty wretched; she used to be this hilarious mad genius, and now she's a perma-toddler with receptive and expressive aphasia and a total lack of impulse control. So I'm pretty much a stay-at-home mom. I cook, I clean, I put her out when she sets herself on fire, I drag her back inside the house when she's standing naked in the front yard waving to people. Good times.

So when can we expect the next installment of Hammer of Grammar?

Soon, actually. I've been bouncing from state to state trying to take care of the godawful legal and financial mess that I hadn't realized my mother was in. The last time I bounced, I left my Windows box behind and just took my Mac laptop. I'd installed a new version of Parallels and genuinely thought I'd now be able to do all the comic work on one machine. I was wrong, so very wrong ... I'm now reunited with the desktop, so I should have a new comic out very soon.

Who's your daddy? 15 Minutes of Fame is looking for guild leaders and officers of the hardcore variety. Is your uberguild on the bleeding edge of raid content? Does your raid leader keep it together with skill and aplomb? Shoot us a tip and show us your leader's kung fu.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Art of War(craft): A Resilient Argument Part I

If you're interested in PvP in any way whatsoever, you've probably heard of a little statistic called Resilience. Introduced a little before The Burning Crusade was released, Resilience reduces the chance a player will be struck by critical strikes from spells or attacks. It also reduces the damage taken from critical strikes and Damage-over-Time (DoT) spells. It is a landmark change in PvP mechanics, qualifying as the most important improvement to World of Warcraft PvP since the game was launched. With the introduction of this new item property, PvP became less a matter of damage output -- although that's still important -- and more a matter of survivability or, well, resilience.

Battles are now intended to last a little longer, Resilience greatly reducing the chances of frustrating (for the recipient, anyway) instagibs. Prior to Patch 2.0, the premiere PvP stats used to be Stamina and Spell & Attack Critical Strikes, which were abundant in PvP-obtained items. However, both item properties were often also useful in PvE, which made many PvP items desirable even outside of PvP. Conversely, the sheer strength of PvE raid items were dominant on the PvP front, in many cases overpowering Stamina. This changed with the introduction of Resilience, which drew a defining line between PvP and PvE gear. With the new mechanic, in order to PvP more effectively, one had to wade into the thick of battle and earn Honor or Arena points. All players will start off with no Resilience, and it takes a conscious effort to accumulate the gear for it. Before undertaking such an endeavor, let's take a look at other forms of damage mitigation that are more accessible in the beginning stages of acquiring Resilience gear.

Hardening up for battle
Resilience takes up valuable item points which, in a PvE situation, might be better served for other stats such as raw Spell Damage or Attack Power. Where Resilience truly shines is in PvP, where damage mitigation is the name of the game. The current PvP environment has a slightly defensive mindset, where battles are designed to last longer. Each class has key talents and abilities that are designed to mitigate damage. When speccing for PvP, it might benefit some players to take those talents, particularly when only beginning to accumulate gear with Resilience. It might be good practice to be familiar with some forms of damage mitigation to start. Understanding how to soften your enemies' blows will ideally help you outlast your opponents or at least stay on your feet a tick or two longer.

Personally, I find that lasting longer during an encounter opens up more opportunities for creativity, forcing the use of more abilities and talents, item cooldowns, and consumables. That's when PvP becomes interesting and ultimately, for me, enjoyable. The legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi advocated the use of every available tool during an encounter, be it a chair or a bucket, and not just one's swords (or whatever weapon one might be wielding). So, how does one harden oneself for war?

Perhaps the most basic form of damage mitigation is armor. All classes have armor to varying degrees from their equipment, as well as some spells that increase it, such as a Priest's Inner Fire or a Warlock's Demon Armor. Some classes have talents that increase the armor bonus granted by items, such as Thick Hide for Druids and Toughness for Paladins and Shamans. There are also consumables and item enchantments that increase armor like Elixir of Superior Defense and the various lower-level armor kits crafted through Leatherworking. Armor only mitigates physical damage, granting no defense against spells or other magical effects.

Resistance is the attribute that mitigates magical damage, divided into different schools. Used mainly for boss fights where certain schools of magic are dominant, such as Fire Resistance for Ragnaros, resistance isn't a particularly useful item property to stack in PvP, where opponents' attacks are from different schools. However, it used to be a strategy in Arenas where some players would swap into a specific set of Resistance gear upon finding out their matchup. The ability to swap gear during an Arena match has since been disabled, although many classes have abilities that mitigate spell damage, such as Mages' Dampen Magic or resistance auras such as a Hunter's Aspect of the Wild or a Paladin's Shadow Resistance Aura.

One form of damage mitigation that can affect both physical and magical damage are absorb effects. Spells such as Priests' Power Word: Shield and a Warlock's Sacrifice absorb a set amount of damage from all sources while some school-specific spells or consumables such as various protection potions from Alchemy. Absorption, unlike most other forms of damage mitigation, is not a persistent effect in that it only works until a certain damage threshold is reached whereupon the effect must be recast or reapplied.

A talent for taking a hit
Of all the forms of damage mitigation mentioned above, nonesurvival mitigation work quite the same way as Resilience. Certain classes have talents that mimic an aspect of Resilience, however, in that they provide a baseline reduction to damage taken from physical attacks or spells or reduces the chances of a critical strike. Druids have the Feral Talent Survival of the Fittest, which increases all attributes by 3% at max rank (3/3) and reduces the chance the Druid will be critically hit by melee attacks by 3%. Coupled with the Feral tree's high armor (Thick Hide 3/3 and specially Dire Bear Form), Druids are a damage soaking nightmare for melee classes.

The aptly-named Survival tree for Hunters possesses numerous talents for damage mitigation and defense (dodge, parry, etc.). For purposes of this article, we'll be going over persistent talents (e.g., Deflection) as opposed to activated abilities (e.g., Deterrence). The 5th tier Survival talent Survival Instincts reduces all damage taken by 4% at max rank (2/2) in addition to increasing the Hunter's Attack Power by the same percentage. Hunters also have Thick Hide in the Beast Mastery tree, which increases the armor bonus granted by items by 10% at max rank (3/3).

Mages have excellent damage mitigation talents in the Arcane tree, such as Arcane Fortitude, which increases armor by 50% of the Mage's intellect. It's a negligible increase, but the D&D-reminiscent Prismatic Cloak complements Resilience by reducing all damage taken by 4%. The Frost talent Frost Warding increases the effectiveness of Frost and Ice Armor, while the higher tier talent Frozen Core further provides a thematic 6% damage reduction against Frost and Fire spells.

The hardy Paladin class has damage mitigation in all three trees, from the 7th tier Holy talent Blessed Life, which is an interesting complement to Resilience. Blessed Life grants a persistent 10% chance for all attacks to cause half damage, although proc-based abilities aren't as desirable as consistent damage reduction. In the Protection tree, there's Improved Righteous Fury, which reduces all damage taken by 6%. It's an activated ability, but Paladins who PvP should have it up most of the time, anyway, to provide a buffer against dispel abilities. The Protection tree isn't ideal for PvP, but the talents Blessing of Sanctuary and Ardent Defender, and even Spell Warding make Protection Paladins annoyingly difficult to take down. Finally, the Retribution tree offers Divine Purpose, which give further reduction against melee and ranged critical strikes.

Priests are the masters of damage absorption, with Discipline becoming highly desirable in Arena play because of Pain Suppression. The Discipline tree also improves on Power Word: Shield and Inner Fire, the former being a key spell to consistent damage mitigation in PvP. The Holy tree has the 2nd tier Spell Warding, which reduces all damage taken from spells by 10% at max rank (5/5). Shadow Priests have access to Shadow Resilience which -- like Resilience -- reduces the chance to be critically hit, albeit only by spells by 4%; and Shadowform, which grants an inherent 15% reduction to physical damage.

While not particularly inclined towards damage mitigation, Rogues are truly masters of, to put it uncreatively, cheating death. Sleight of Hand reduces the chance to be critically hit by melee or ranged attacks by 2%, which isn't much but only costs 2 talent points and is available low in the 2nd tier Subtlety tree. This coupled with the Assassination talent Deadened Nerves -- in addition to their defensive abilities -- make Rogues frighteningly enduring in melee. A particularly interesting Rogue talent is the apropos Cheat Death, which makes Subtlety Rogues virtually unkillable once every minute and, because of the 90% reduction to all damage taken, three seconds after. Because the baseline ability Cloak of Shadows also operates on a one-minute cooldown, opponents must basically kill a Subtlety Rogue between minutes.

Shamans have little by way of persistent damage mitigation, with only the thematic Elemental Warding providing a base 10% reduction to Fire, Frost, and Nature damage. The 41-point Restoration talent Earth Shield isn't technically damage reduction as damage will still go through before the healing effect procs. The enhancement tree has Toughness to increase armor, but otherwise, Shamans must rely on their plethora of totems for mitigation. Unfortunately, there are far more useful PvP totems in each element than those for mitigation. The little-used Windwall Totem, for example, shares the same element as the indispensable Grounding Totem; the Hemorrhage-stanching Stoneskin Totem is an Earth totem like Tremor and Earthbind. In this way, Shamans ironically have both versatility and limitation.

Demonology provides Warlocks with the dreaded 31-point talent Soul Link, an awesome spell that, coupled with high Resilience and, ahem, Demonic Resilience, makes Warlocks tremendously fearsome in PvP. Soul Link transfers 20% of all damage taken to the Warlock's pet while Demonic Resilience reduces all damage the demon takes by 15% in addition to a reduction in the chance the Warlock will be critically hit by melee attacks or spells. I can almost hear our resident Warlock and Arena expert Vims laughing maniacally at the whole concept.

Lastly, we have Warriors, who are loaded with defensive abilities and inherent damage mitigation, but little talent to show for it. I mean that literally, as the only persistent damage mitigation talent warriors have is Improved Defensive Stance, which conditionally reduces all spell damage taken by 6%... in Defensive Stance. Naturally, most of a Warrior's damage mitigation is available in Defensive Stance, such as Shield Wall. The irony lies in the fact that the Protection tree (and sometimes Defensive Stance) isn't always optimal for PvP. Fortunately, Warriors have inherently high Stamina and Armor, which can be complemented with a wide array of Resilience gear.

Onward to resilience
With a passing familiarity with most of the forms of damage mitigation, we can now turn our attention to gear. As mentioned above, there are no talents or spells that grant Resilience. It is a purely item property and all classes and races begin with 0 Resilience. In addition to equipment, there are gems and a few consumables and enchantments that grant Resilience. Next week, we'll go over the effects of Resilience and how much damage mitigation it provides, as well as the required Resilience rating to fully optimize on PvP gear. We'll also look at the sources of Resilience gear -- as you might have guessed, Blizzard's insistence on mixing PvP and PvE have led to some curious gear dropping from the most unlikely places. Until then, I highly recommend visiting the Battlegrounds. I hear the weather's lovely these days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The PvE + PvP instance

"Lowlifescum" over on the official WoW forums has had an interesting idea, to combine PvE instances and Battleground instances into a kind of "race-to-the-boss" PvP and PvE experience combined. According to his idea, players would queue up for the instance, and when both 5-man teams are ready, begin on opposite ends of a dungeon. From there, they have to fight their way through normal monsters and 1 or 2 regular bosses before finally reaching the final boss in the middle. They would have to choose between rushing through as quickly as possible in order to reach the final boss first, or else moving slowly and steadily enough that they can avoid setbacks along the way, and arrive at the last boss fully prepared for the other team to attack in the middle of the fight.

The first existing instance your mind jumps to is likely Alterac Valley, but this new instance would be different in that the players are not marching towards two separate goals, split up into two offensive and defensive groups, but rather going after the very same bosses and getting in each others way to a certain extent. Obviously it would also be a lot smaller than AV too, and, like Arenas, based from the beginning on teamwork with your friends rather than random groupings of strangers.

Obviously balancing such a battle would be very difficult, and the losers should feel as though they gain something of value even if they don't beat the other team. When I imagine this sort of instance, I envision something like a maze where players can not only meet up at the last boss, but also sneak around and PvP with each other the whole way through. Different sections of the instance could be designed to provide advantages to different sorts of classes, whether melee or ranged, damage or healing, and monsters could be designed to interact with the two groups of players in some very dynamic ways. Perhaps the bosses and maps could even vary a bit from battle to battle to keep everything fresh.

A Blizzard representative showed up in the original thread to say that he liked the idea too, and hopes that someday we might be able to see something like it. What do you think about it, and what elements would you pay special attention to in order to make it work?

WoW EU Valentine's card contest is on

World of Warcraft Europe is now accepting entries for its annual Valentine's card contest.Valentine's card European players are invited to create a card using screenshots and/or original art showing their love of WoW. Twenty winners (five per language) will receive a Gurky key. The key can be redeemed in-game for a summonable baby pet murloc.

Looking through last year's winners, I'm very impressed with the original art as well as how creatively players were able to modify screenshots. Hopefully this year we will see even more experimental entries. I'd love to see a few done in the visual style of Baron Soosdon (a nonsenscial but stunningly beautiful Valentine's) or Among Fables and Men.

Unfortunately, for you pet completists, the reward Gurky is only available through contests. If you're not a player on the EU servers, you'll still be lacking this prized non-combat pet. Hopefully, the US WoW servers will be offering a similar contest in the future.

The WoW Valentine's seasonal event, Love is in the Air, begins February 10 and goes through February 15.

Two Bosses Enter: Lady Vashj vs. Princess Huhuran

Lady Vashj vs. Princess Huhuran
Two bosses may enter... but only one will get to leave in WoW Insider's fantasy deathmatch series. Every week we pit two of the World of Warcraft's raid bosses against one another in a battle that your votes get to decide. This week we have Lady Vashj from Serpentshrine Caverns in Outland matching up against Princess Huhuran from Ahn'Qiraj in old Azeroth. Though both of them are perfectly happy to wipe player raids, how would they fare against one another? Ultimately, that's for you to decide -- so read on!
Lady Vashj
Lady Vashj relies on a combination of melee, ranged, and magic damage to take on her opponents. Since we're considering these fights to take place on neutral ground, with neither party having home court advantage, we're going to talk about Vashj's own attacks, and not her numerous helpers within Serpentshrine or her handy shield (basically, we're skipping phase 2). But even without these considerations, Vashj is no pushover, and has access to some powerful attacks:

  • Shoot/multishot: From range, Vashj can shoot single or multiple targets with her bow.
  • Shock Burst: Nature damage plus a 5-second stun.
  • Entangle: Roots the target in place and does nature damage over time.
  • Static Charge: Does nature damage to te target and anyone in the vecinty of the target.
  • Forked Lightning: More nature damage, targeting anyone in front of Lady Vashj.

  • Princess Huhuran
    From a player's perspective, Princess Huhuran is an annoying resistance-based fight. But just having a high enough nature resistance won't win this one for you -- beyond her nature damage, she can also deal immense amounts of melee damage, especially when in Frenzy or Berserk. Her abilities are as follows:

  • Frenzy: greatly increases melee damage.
  • Poison Bolt: high nature damage to the closest 15 targets, only happens when in Frenzy or Berserk.
  • Noxious Poison: high nature damage DoT which silences the target. Cast on a target at random.
  • Wyvern Sting: AoE sleep that deals nature damage if cleansed.
  • Acid Spit: low damage nature DoT on Huhuran's primary target -- but it stacks.
  • Berserk: at 30% health, Huhuran will Berserk, greatly increasing her attack speed and causing her to send out Poison Bolts.

  • Once Huhuran hits 30%, it's a fight against time for a raid, which usually has to burn every trinket and cooldown to bring Huhuran down before the increased damage causes a wipe.

    So there you have it -- we have two bosses that are problems for players, but might not pose such a threat to each other. Who wins and who loses in this epic battle? It's nearly time for you to to tell us, but before that, a reminder: we're considering these two bosses with approximately equal health and approximately equal damage output capabilities. We aren't making this into a math equation of who's got more health than who, so when you cast your vote, cast it on fighting style, not highest level. You're welcome to factor the lore of each character into the equation, but don't presume that one would win out because they're in a higher level dungeon.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Mage 5 vs 5 arena guide

    This is a pretty general guide for mage arena-play. It might be a bit biased from my own experience, I haven´t tried every setup. It´s mainly for 5 vs 5 but if you are totally new you can probably learn something from this for the other brackets aswell. This guide is assuming a 2 healer 3 dps setup and it´s written because I´ve seen requests for arena-guides on the forums here. Everything about arena PvP can´t be written in a guide but the aim with this guide is to provide some pointers for the mage-class general role in arena. If you feel something is terrably wrong, feel free to say so, just do it in a constructive way.

    Crowd Control:
    Your main role is crowdcontrol, keeping your team alive.

    Your main target to crowdcontrol is warrior, to keep mortal strike off your team as much as possible will make you win the mana-war. The warrior will become immune to sheep at times, then you have to resort to cone of cold / frostnova. Never ever start off with a polymorph in the beginning of a game, the enemy dispellers will just dispell it and your polymorph got diminishing returns on that target. It´s much better to wait until your team started dps:ing something so their dispellers have to choose between dispelling or healing, this makes their life harder. This also gives room for pulling their warrior to a nasty place for polymorph (fun when they fall for it, and they very often do :)).

    Against teams with 2 healers and 3 dps (the most common setup) your goal is to keep the other teams DPS away from the person in your team that gets targeted. This involves frostnovaing, polymorphing and slowing the enemy melee DPS. Doing this out of sight from the enemy dispellers is a good thing and you should strive towards that (example of this is sheep behind a pillar). This requires good communication between you and your focused teammate and good timing on your different CC abilities and diminishing returns. Against teams with two melee DPS it´s good to try and get both in the same frostnova for example, don´t just use nova as soon as you get hit by something, you got healers on your team. In solo pvp you usually want to get away as soon as possible taking no damage at all, this is not always the case in group pvp.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that if you see a warrior heading for your hamstered healer or yourself but not yet really in melee range, rather use a cone of cold then a frostnova, to have frostnova ready when someone is actually beating on you/your mate.

    Against teams with four DPS classes you really need to be fast. Counterspell should be used to keep your team alive rather then interupting healers. It is for exampel a good idea to interupt a shadowbolt/fireball/mindflay/unstable affliction/lightningbolt. When this is done, proceed to sheeping another target fast. You should be able to win fairly easy if your teammates also interupt the other dps:ers. If you got improved counterspell it may be a good idea to just silence an arcane power mage and sheep him since his damage is instant and high.

    To make polymorph harder to dispell, it´s good to put detect magic on your sheeps, paladin´s dispell can only dispell one debuff per cast so there is a 50% chance that the detect-magic debuff get dispelled instead of polymorph. Winters chill is also a great talent for this since it´s a magic debuff, it even stacks and paladins dispell will only remove one stack per cast. This is less useful against priests because their dispell removes two debuffs per cast. To make this even more effective, you can tell your teams paladin (if you have one) to put a judgement on the sheeps (crusader for example), it also counts as a magic debuff and with 2/2 in the stoicism talent it has a 30% chance to not get dispelled at all (zomg!).

    Interupting and DPS:
    When you get time, it´s time to interupt the enemy healers to give you a chance to finnish someone off. The best target to counterspell is the enemy paladin, second best is shaman, those two classes have no other way to heal then cast-time (except shamans natures swiftness which gives one instant heal every 3 minutes, and paladins holy shock which hardly is woth mentioning) spells and therefor sooner or later have to use something with cast-time. When the enemy team have a shaman it may be a good idea to use an ice-lance before counterspelling so your counterspell won´t hit a grounding-totem.

    The best time for you to deal damage is after a counterspell. If you got any cooldowns such as arcane power/pom/combustion they should be used after a counterspell. Assist the other dps:ers in your team.

    Otherwise just DPS when you feel you have time for it, though I wouldn´t recomend DPS:ing targets with high hitpoints when you are low on mana, enemy healers have lots of mana and not interupted. Rather save mana for CC then.

    Never try to cast frostbolts with much melee dps on you (not even with 2piece t4 bonus). Your frostbolt will get kicked/pummeled and your frost-school will be interupted so that you can´t iceblock.

    You will want iceblock to function well in 5 vs 5 arena. That said, you should pick the spec that fits best with your team. If you feel you very much need on-demand burst pick arcane power/spellpower + iceblock build. If you have a rogue in the team you almost have to pick water-elemental to help catching runners so the rogue can DPS (this is a very personal belief). Water elemental is also good for CC with the extra nova and it provides extra sustained DPS.

    If your battlegroup (like the one I play in) is filled with gimmick-teams with two warriors (no offence), i´d suggest a spec with blazing speed, frostbite and iceblock, even with icebarrier if it makes you feel better. It´s very effective. The warriors will give up on you since you are as slippery as an eal, this will give you better control over the fight and you can help others surviving and have an easier time counterspelling and dealing damage.

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    WoW Gold Guide: gold making and leveling

    This is a easy way to make about 18-54 wow gold an hour.

    There is a item called "Blood Elf Bandit mask," and consequently it is dropped by
    the Blood Elf bandit. He spawns on the island where Dranei start - Azymist Isle
    (can't remember how to spell it). He spawns next to the road in 10 places behind
    signs or barriers. You just follow the road in a big circle around the isle. The
    only trick is he is invisible so you have to listen for the sound invisible things
    make when they appear or you can just go look. He is only a level 5 so chances of
    aggro-ing it is slim if you're a high level. It's about a 25% drop rate.

    After that just go to the A/H and list it for about 6-8 gold. This was done on the
    Rexxar server, just simply because thats the only place in the game it spawns so
    it's rare and people usually dont know about it. Also just kind of pointing out the
    obvious you can farm the crap out of these things so you gain losts of gold. You can
    also sell these masks by just putting it on and walking through a main city. Trust
    me peoplewill offer you at least 3-4 gold just you walking around.

    AQ40 obsidian chunk:

    Right inside AQ40 are 4 giant mobs. If you kill one of them you will be able to mine
    a large obsidan chunk right outside the of the instance. Kill three of the four mobs
    and run out of the instance and there will be 3 mines that will appear. Just be sure
    that you don't kill all 4 mobs and you will be able to repeat this as many times as
    you want. The large obsidan chunks sell for 100 to 300 gold on the auction house. So
    you can make 600 to 1200 gold an hour doing this.

    One Day Grind

    Horde Grinding Spots:
    0-15 - Questing fastest possible exp.
    15-20 - The Barrens - Harpies *
    15-20 - The Barrens - Bristleback(s) *
    20-25 - The Barrens - Bael Dun Exavs *
    20-25 - Hillsbrad - Hillsbrad Farmers (etc)
    22-26 - Thousand Needles - Galak Scouts (etc) *
    26-30 - Hillsbrad - Mud Gnolls *
    25-30 - Thousand Needles - Grimtotems
    30-38 - Shimmering Flats - All monsters. *
    38-40 - Dustwallow Swamp - Very North East Islands, Murlock Warriors/Oracles.

    Horde And Alliance Grinding Spots:
    40-46 - Feralas - Woodpaws (stay away from the ones that disease for
    slow casting speeds) **
    46-48 - Feralas - Frayfeather Skystormers *
    48-50 - Feralas - Harpies
    48-51 - Southwest of Gadgetzan - Thistleshrubs *
    50-54 - Western Plaguelands - First 'field' to the left, assorted monsters.
    54-60 - Western Plaguelands - Scarlet Lumberjacks
    52-60 - Eastern Dire Maul - Lashers ****

    * = Recommended

    EXP Rates:
    Levels 30-40 = 18-20k exp/hour
    Levels 40-51 = 20-25k exp/hour

    The unwritten rules of raiding

    I really like this post over at Mystic Chicanery. Every guild, when raiding, has its own unwritten rules of play. You just know that by the end of your raid, the MT will be drunk, the priest will have died about five times, and if you insult the healers, you might or might not get healed. It's these little quirks that make raiding so much fun-- sure, the game is a good time, and downing bosses is definitely an achievement. But it's having fun with the people you're raiding with that make the game worth playing.

    So what are your guild's unwritten rules? I find that they usually revolve around people-- someone does something that gets them remembered, and then everyone knows the joke after that. Guildleaders tend to set a lot of the unwritten rules as well, since they're there at most of the raids anyway. And some of the rules just plain have to do with etiquette-- who belongs in group 1, who explains which fights, who runs the tasks of main looter and calls boss phases.

    None of this stuff is programmed into the game, obviously, but of all the hundreds (and thousands) of guilds out there, each one, I'd bet, does things their own way.

    WoW Guide: Easy gold for high lvl skinners

    WoW Guide: Easy gold for high lvl skinners

    IF you have the time required to make this profitable. Yes, it can yield you 500
    gold in 2 days but you will have to play 8 hours a day in order to do it! For
    some people this just isn't realistic.

    Angerclaw Maulers
    Felwood, X37, Y44.

    I'm taking it upon myself to let everyone know about this because I have made a
    sickly amount of gold here latley, and a very disturbing amount in the past 2 weeks.

    The respawn rate is insanely fast, When you kill the whole spawn camp of them which
    is about 11-12 and take a 1 minute break you'll start having respawns to kill.

    Where does the money come from you ask?

    First you have some stackable gray items that are very commonly dropped:

    Large Bear Bone(Non-Stackable) - 14s 84c each
    Bear Jaw(Stackable) - 8s 98c -- 89s 80c per Stack of 10.
    Savage Bear Claw(Stackable) - 5s 78c -- 57s 80c per Stack of 10.
    Bear Flank(Stackable) - 5s 78c -- 57s 80c per Stack of 10.
    Wicked Claw(Stackable) - 5s -- 25s per Stack of 5.

    I make anywhere from 9 to 13 gold in gray items per hour here.

    Even without the skinning compared to most places this is a great camp for gold/hr.
    But skinning is where a lot of the money to come from if you want the results like I

    You can skin Rugged and Thick leather off of these. My server prices are 2.50g per
    stack of Rugged and 1.50g per stack of Thick. Server prices are going to range, The
    intake of gold on this obviously is based only on my servers prices, But you will
    still make amazing gold here if you put the time in.

    So where does all the money come from?

    I take 8 hours a day and I run it here, Straight. Not every day, Usually in the
    evenings and into the late hours on the nights I'm not raiding and ocasionally if
    there is a third day I'll get up around 7am to start and I can be done around mid
    afternoon so I can enjoy the day or do something else in game.

    A single hour run brings on brings me in 6 Stacks of Rugged Leather and 5 stacks of
    Thick Leather. I don't know if it's because my kill rate is fast or just pure luck,
    But I can't remember when I have come away from this with less leather then that in
    an hours run.

    6x 2.50g = 15g per hour
    5x 1.50g = 7.5g per hour

    If I average out my usual grey items income per hour then I come away with 10.5g per
    hour. I'm going to edit this tomorrow and record all of my drops and leather intake
    from my 8 hours, But this is accurate. I've been making money like this for months

    Now, On to the juicy part...

    Intake per hour based on Leather sales on the AH is 22.50g Per HOUR.

    Intake per hour based on sellable greys averages out at about 10.50g

    33 Gold per hour.
    Wipe the drool off keyboard and keep reading

    I run this 8 hours per day, Two days a week. Sometimes 3 but rarely. Skinning is
    obviously required to get the bigger chuck of change for your time. Some of you all
    day BG'ers could make literally thousands of gold here in a week if you took a week
    off from all day long BG and went here, Just a thought. And I'm not exaggerating.

    I try to run these 2 days back to back and I generally refuse to put up my auctions
    and vendor until I have my 16 hours worth of loot. I just throw it all in the bank.

    At the end of my 2 days I usually end up taking 510g - 545g out of my mailbox. +\- a
    few gold for randomness of drops.

    I have over 5000g in my bag right now. If you want an exact number then it's 5649g.
    All of that gold was made in this spot except about 600g.

    Maybe some of you should thinking of switching professions

    Anyway, This made me rich. Simple as that, Hopfully it will do the same for you.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    The evolution of the gold farming industry

    It's a rare event when I wake up, walk to the computer, yawn, and think to myself what I could possibly write about only to have an article walk up to me, sit in my lap, and cuddle. Today it happened.

    We've all seen what I call the evolution of spam in-game. First it was just straight tell spam. Blizzard fixed that. Then it was group spam. Now it seems gold farmers have taken to just sitting in the capital cities and screaming their lungs off until they get reported and/or zapped by a GM.

    I think the reporting mechanism is starting to get to them though. Every time they lose an account (when it's reported) they have to make a new one. In the scope of the money they're making it's really not a big deal, but it's tedious repetition and I saw the first signs this morning that they've shifted their focus and are moving to more aggressive tactics.

    I fired up Adium (my Mac instant messenger) and was immediately greeted by a request for contact authorization. I'll stop here for a moment so you can gasp, because what happened after this is exactly what you think. I looked at the address that was requesting authentication and it didn't really ring a bell. I looked at the display picture and saw a cropped screenshot of two blood elves staring back at me. I reasoned that it had to be someone from my guild, even though I wasn't sure who. I accepted the request and the contact appeared on my contact list. As it turns out, they were online.

    I greeted this person and asked who they were because I was anxious to know. My question was ignored, and the response came "hello. how are you." Out of courtesy I responded to their question but repeated my original question. The mysterious contact responded "i'm betsy from xxx company. can i ask if you play the wow" at which point my gold farmer anger (which often transforms me into the Incredible Hulk) kicked in and I simply said "Good bye" and blocked the contact. My Adium privacy setting were borked though, and it took several seconds to effectively block this person. During this time she continued her sales pitch even though I had told her I wasn't interested.

    I have never ever bought gold, so I have no idea how this company got my Windows Live ID. You can rest assured though that if they got mine, they may have gotten some of yours as well. So if you get a contact authorization from a "corporate sounding" hotmail address with a WoW-themed display picture, be forewarned.

    What's next? Telemarketing? I cringe at the mere thought.

    [Note: The name of the company and the representative have been edited. I do not want to give this "company" any form of advertisement whatsoever. And as tempting as it is to reveal their Windows Live ID, I'm not going to do that either.

    World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Cheats

    General Commands
    Note that you can cycle through commands with similar starting letters by typing, for example, /a> and then hitting the tab button to cycle through the commands that start with a.

    /bind - Gives your current bind location.
    /cast * - Allows you to cast spells by name.
    /chat, /chathelp - Lists the chat commands.
    /follow, /f - Causes your character to follow the selected player.
    /ghelp - Lists the guild commands.
    /party , /p - Sends a message to party chat.
    /r - Sends a reply to the last person who sent you a tell.
    /say , /s - Sends a message to people near you.
    /who - Lists the players online.
    /yell , /y - Yells a message to the area around you.
    /em - Creates an emote. See Emotes for more info.
    /played - Reports the amount of time you've played the game with that character.

    * Type /cast (spell subtext) - Example: "/cast Fireball (Rank 1)". To add spell casting to a macro you can type it manually or shift-click a spell in your spell book to add the proper /cast line to the macro.

    Chat Channel Commands

    World of Warcraft will have a flexible chat channel system most likely familiar to players. Players can create custom chat channels in which to chat with friends. Players have the ability to set a password, create announcements, invite other players, ban/squelch players, and set moderators for the channel.

    Type /chat or /chathelp for a list of chat commands.

    /#, /c, /csay - Send text to channel # (E.G. /1 Hello!)
    /announcements, /ann - toggle join/leave announcements on a channel
    /afk, /dnd - Set your Away From Keyboard or Do Not Disturb flags
    /ban, /unban - ban/unban a player from a channel
    /chatlist, /chatwho, /chatinfo [channel] - List channels, or channel members
    /cinvite, /chatinvite - invite a player to a channel
    /join, /channel, /chan - Join a channel
    /kick - kick a player off a channel
    /leave, /chatleave, /chatexit [channel] - Leave a channel (or all channels)
    /mod, /moderator, /unmod, /unmoderator - change a player's moderator status
    /moderate - toggle moderation on a channel
    /mute, /squelch, /unvoice, /unmute, /unsquelch, /voice - change a player's permission
    /password, /pass - Change password

    Guild Commands

    Guild communication and management can be done through the guild commands. Players can get basic information about the guild, send guild chat messages, invite others to the guild, promote/demote them, remove them, set a message of the day, change the guild leader and even quit the guild.

    Type /ghelp for a list of guild commands. Note that some commands can only be used by the guild leader.

    /ginfo - Gives basic information about your guild
    /g - Sends a chat message to all members of your guild
    /o - Sends a chat message to all officers of your guild
    /ginvite - invites another player to join your guild
    /gremove - removes a player from your guild
    /gpromote - promotes a player one rank within your guild
    /gdemote - demotes a player one rank within your guild
    /gmotd - sets the guild's message of the day
    /gquit - removes you from your guild
    /groster - gives an entire guild roster
    /gleader - sets another player as the guild master (guild master only)
    /gdisband - disbands your guild (guild leader only)

    How to make world of warcraft gold - part 4

    With disenchanting
    In part also covered in this thread at the EJ forums.

    Firstly, you can obviously farm instances such as BRD for Large Brilliant Shards. These sell for about 6-8g currenly on my server. Check the linked article for more info on that.

    This post will detail a large part of making money by disenchanting items from crafting.
    Lets presume you either have a friend who can make and disenchant for you, or you have all the characters and patterns you need to do all this yourself.
    Note that it “really” helps here if you can do this all by yourself, as you won’t have to share your profits.

    This method involves the combination of trade crafts, and disenchanting the results.
    We’ll aim at the popular high end enchanting materials.

    Firstly the price list
    Large prismatic shard, sells for about 30-35g on our AH currently.
    3 Small prismatic shards can be converted into 1 Large, thus logically sell for about 1/3 their price.
    Arcane dust, sells for about 1g - 1g30s at the time of writing this.
    Greater planar essence, sells for about 8g.
    3 Lesser planar essences can be converted into 1 big one, funny enough they sell for about 1g cheaper.
    Void Crystal about 15g.

    Before you start, don’t try to scrape together cash too much by buying something for 20g, then selling it for 21g. Aside that you’d barely make any profit to begin with, the auction house always takes 5% of your earnings, thus you’d actually make out worse in the end.
    (Hence i didn’t buy out all the lesser planar essences and tried to resell them as large ones)

    Next, the cost of raw materials
    Adamantite Powder : Which is a waste product basically. If you’re a jewelcrafter you should have loads of these. But if needed can be obtained for about 1g ea on the AH. I recommend talking directly to anyone selling these though as you should be able to make a deal for some cheaper stuff. For the sake of example i’ll set it as 25s.
    Primal Earth : Currently selling for 3g at my auction house.
    Mercurial Adamantite, sells for 10g on the AH, but can be made for 4-7g if you do it yourself.

    Eternium bar : Sells for about 1g on our AH
    Fel iron bar : Sells for about 1g on our AH (Or better, 35-40s per ore)
    Felsteel bar : About 5g to make (3 fel iron 2 eternium bars)

    Let’s start with Jewelcrafting
    Braided Eternium Chain and Thick Felsteel Necklace, both have a pretty much guaranteed chance to produce a Large prismatic shard.
    Henceforth referred to as BEC, and TFN.

    Cost to craft BEC = 14g
    2x Eternium = 2g
    3x Mercurial Adamantite = 3*(4 powder + 1 Prinal Earth) = 12g

    Cost to craft TFN = 20g
    Same as BEC only requires 6 extra fel iron bars to produce.

    Disenchanting the BEC / TFN yields you a LPS about 99.5% of the time.
    Void crystals are only about 15g at the moment.
    So, even if you get a Void crystal you should still cut about even.
    If you sell the Large Prismatics at 30g, you’d get between 10-16g profit per item disenchanted.

    It’s a great way to get rid of those useless adamantite powders, or elemental earths.
    Mind you, if you’d bought the adamantite powder the TFN wouldn’t yield you any profits. The BEC would cost you 22g to make vs 30-35g profit however.

    Brilliant Pearl Band : 4-5g to make 10g return value
    8x Jaggal Pearl : 35-50s ea : 3-4g
    2x Eternium Bar : 1g ea

    Green gems
    Here things get tricky to calculate.
    Now, if you’re an addict prospecter i’m sure you’ve got a few hundred of each color of green quality gem sitting around in a bank alt somewhere.
    How would you like to make some easy profit out of them?
    Sure you could sell them to the vendor for 25s ea, as nobody will buy them off the AH anyway. But there is a better way.

    Azure Moonstone Ring : Lets say 2g to make.
    1x Fel Iron Bar : 1g
    2x Azure Moonstone : ~30s*2
    1x Deep Peridot : ~30s

    Disenchanting according to thottbot :
    Arcane Dust 178.5% : 1.78*1.15 : 2g 04s 7c
    Lesser Planar Essence 63.5% : 0.635*2.6667 : 1g 69s 33c
    Small Prismatic Shard 2.0% : 0.02*10 : 20s
    Total value : 3g 93s 4c

    Golden Draenite Ring : About 1g 60s to make, expected return value ~3g50s
    1x Fel Iron Bar : 1g
    2x Golden Draenite : ~30s*2

    Fel Iron Blood Ring : About 1g 60s to make, expected return value ~3g50s
    1x Fel Iron Bar : 1g
    2x Blood Garnet : ~30s*2

    Also somewhat interesting, but depends on what you can get for Small Radiant shards on your server.
    Aquamarine signet : About 2g-4g to make, 6-7g return value.
    3xAquamarine : 50s-1g *3 is about 1g50-3g, 2g25 median.
    4xFlask of Mojo : 10s-25s, 50s-1g total

    Arcanoweave bracers : 18g 60s to make, 30-35g return
    6x Bolt of Netherweave : 5g 60s
    12x Arcane Dust : 12g
    2x Rune Thread : 1g (Bit less depending on rep)

    Not much of interest that i can see at this time. The thread mentioned these 2, but my server’s economy doesn’t really support it as worthwhile. Perhaps yours is different.

    Fel Iron Breastplate : 10g to make, about 7g return value, got worth it.
    Arcane Dust 266.9% : 2.669*1.15 : 3g 6s 93c
    Greater Planar Essence 33.9% : 2g 71s 2c
    Large Prismatic Shard 3.7% : 1g 11s

    Fel iron Chain Coif : 4g to make, about 3g 70s return value, not worth it.
    Arcane Dust 183.2% : 2.1068
    Lesser Planar Essence 63.1% : 1.5775
    Small Prismatic Shard 1.5% : 15s

    Thick Draenic Gloves : about 4g to make, expected return value ~2g so probably not worth it.

    Not sure on some of the return values yet as thottbot just crashed. Go figure.
    I’ll need to update this article further at a later time. Enjoy the Jewelcrafting part so far.

    How to make world of warcraft gold - part 3

    The most obvious way to get what items you need is by farming for it.
    Farming can be tedious business, and because of this i highly recommend combining multiple farming actions into 1 session.

    Based on market prices, or your ability to farm a certain mob, you need to decide what to farm.

    Some modifiers:
    * You need scryer reputation
    * Your alt needs aldor reputation
    * You want to work on your sword skill
    * You need cash badly and fast
    * The AH value of primal air is huge at the moment
    * You need to farm some basilisk meat for the raid tomorrow
    * You’re working on your cooking skill and need fish or meat
    * You have some quests in a certain area that include killing a lot of mobs or a friend that needs certain mobs killed for a quest
    * You are trying to collect a certain recipe for your crafting profession
    * You (as a hunter) have recently trained a new pet, and it needs levels or loyalty

    You see, there’s all sorts of activities you can combine to make the farming more worthwhile.

    The core business however, is what to farm.
    Some examples of items that are commonly in demand (more near the bottom of this post) :
    * Arcane dust / Planar Essenses / Prismatic Shards. These are more of a side product while farming however.
    * Aldor / Scryer reputation items
    * Primal Air, Primal Water, Primal Fire, etc.
    * Reputation or Quest items such as: Unidentified plant parts, stranglethorn pages, certain meats, netherwing ore.
    * Gems, Ore, Herbs, Leather, etc. But those were already handled fairly well in section 2.

    Just pick something randomly, see if it’s on the auction house and check the value.
    Now, a key figure that many people forget is “when” to farm.
    Obviously between 1300-1700 server time, all the farmers will be out and about farming anything that’s profitable.
    If you can start early, or late at night you’ll have less competition, and so more profit.

    However, “when to farm” doesn’t only relate to the server time. It also requires you to look and compare the auction prices of popular items. Supply & Demand you know?
    For example, one day there are 20 Primal Air on the AH for about 30g each.
    Another day, there’s 5 Primal Air on the AH for about 50g each.
    You see what i’m thinking?

    I hope you have a stockpile of Primal Air, because it’s a good time to sell some when the supply is fairly low and people are busy and about farming for them. They’ll get tired of farming, check the AH, and notice your sales there which should be priced just that little bit below the competition. Profit!
    Now, when there’s 20 Primal Air already on the AH, don’t bother listing yours, Just stockpile some extra.
    When an item is readily available on the AH it’s also a lot less likely that people will be out in the world farming for the item. Not much difference though, perhaps 10-15% but enough to make a difference.

    Another thing you could do, is try to influence the AH supply and demand, by buying all the cheap items yourself, and relisting them for the higher price.
    Keep in mind that this will require some practice, and involves a lot of risk, time and starting money to do properly. But it can pay off bigtime and can be done with nearly any type of item available from the Auction House.
    If do you plan to do this, i recommend starting small, Copper, Iron, Mithril would be good candidates.

    One small thing to note however, is that Blizzard has made a statement that your server actually “tracks” how much of a certain item (primal air for example) is available, and regularly adjusts the mob drop chance of these items to create a medium.
    Obviously i can’t really test this, and many such rumors are just urban legend and supersticion.
    An example would be, that if there’s 100 primal air available on the AH, that the mob droprate of motes of air would be reduced by about 2%. Not so much that you’d really notice it unless you farm for several hours straight, but enough to reduce the input of primal airs into the economy.
    If there’s only 1-2 Primal airs on the AH, the server would “increase” the droprate by 2% thus making sure that the farmers will have a very good day indeed.

    Farming hotspots
    * Deviate fish : Wailing Caverns (just outside the instance portal works best)
    * Copper : Ghostlands works quite well, Dun moroch, and Durotar.
    * Iron : I get a lot of my iron from Arathi highlands, with the occassional mithril.
    * Mithril : The hinterlands work very nice.
    * Thorium : Silithus, especially now that the mobs aren’t elite anymore in the hives.
    * Adamantite : Nagrand is commonly known to be a good spot, but exactly because of that, it’s not. Try Shadowmoon, or netherstorm if you’re trying to farm during the more busy hours of the day.
    * Primal Air : Nagrand for Engineers, Elemental plateau is rather crowded and doesn’t have much spawn points, Shadowmoon valley both north and south side.
    * Primal Fire : North side of Blade’s edge, Elemental plateau - again rather crowded, Shadowmoon valley. Miners will also get these quite frequently from mining on netherwing ledge in shadowmoon, or mining fel iron.
    * Primal Mana : Engineers can fly around Netherstorm, lots drop in Karazhan, herbalists will pick up the occassional one from netherbloom, and there’s a great spot southeast in netherstorm as well to farm these.
    * Primal Life : Zangarmarsh northeast works “okish”, herbalists will get these from just about any plant and can also get them from killing the giants in Skettis (terrokar)`
    * Primal Water : Engineers can fly around Zangarmarsh, or if you have decent fishing these can be obtained pretty fast by just fishing “all” pools of special fish in nagrand / terrokar highs. (make sure you get the fish tracking book)
    * Primal Shadow : A bit tricky to get now that demons no longer drop them but netherstorm Manaforge Ultis (i think) has a lot of void elementals around it. There’s also a number of them southeast and south in hellfire peninsula but their droprate is a lot lower. And if you are an engineer, you can fly around Shadowmoon.
    * Primal Earth : These are quite easy to get and very commonly drop from Adamantite ore spots as a miner. Also available from (again) the elemental plateau, as well as the south side of nagrand.
    * Aldor rep items : A great place is the west side of shadowmoon, or north side of netherstorm.
    * Scryer rep items : Netherstorm has loads of farm spots, and there’s a good spot south in shadowmoon. Make sure you check thott as some of these can also drop a recipe for enchanters.
    * Medium leather : There’s a little hidden grove in the north side of Ashenvale where there are a number of “worgen”. They spawn incredibly fast and should be able to provide you with more corpses than you can skin.
    * Rugged leather : Winterspring, yeti cave. If you’re a miner as well there’s the occassional rich thorium here too.
    * Knothide leather : Nagrand works quite well. If you can skin the clefthoof bulls you’ll also be getting clefthoof meat which can be cooked into strength food, and more importantly “Thick Clefthoof Leather” which is worshipped by all tanking classes and twinks and usually sells quite easily.
    * Cobra Scales : These can be farmed near a cave in the north side of shadowmoon, or in the west side of nagrand. Personally i prefer the nagrand spot, you can ignore the birds even though they are “red”.
    * Small eggs : It’s christmas soon, that means eggs will be in demand. The absolute best spot to get these is westfall. There used to be a graveyard with 5 unlimited spawn points next to each other but that one’s been nerfed sadly. Another hotspot is still available directly east of Sentinel Hill, but the birds share a spawn cycle with the boars there. Don’t let this deter you however, just kill anything that spawns. Ranged class recommended.
    * Primal Nether : You can farm those? Well, not so much, but if you’re a member of a good guild you can clear Karazhan in 3-4 hours and get 22 heroic badges. 20 badges = 2 nethers. Not amazing profit as you can only do it once a week, but you’d get plenty of void crystals on top of that as well.

    How to make world of warcraft gold - part 2

    If you’re a regular raider and either losing money with 50g daily repair bills + potons + reagents, or barely cutting equal you’ll enjoy the knowledge that making wow gold is in fact quite easy. All it requires is a little effort.

    I’ll highlight the most commonly known ones :
    * Farming, this includes either farming mobs, fishing, mining, etc.
    * Pray for lucky drops, basically the same as farming but much less reliable.
    * Daily quests, if you have a lot of high level alts this can make a nice bunch of cash with minimal effort.
    * Play the auction house, buy low sell high.
    * Blackmail your guild leader, don’t ask.
    * Re-selling white vendor recipes, people are lazy you can make a profit out of this.
    * Disenchanting, whether it’s crafted items, or cheap junk off the auction house.
    * Speedlevelling alt characters, at lvl 70 each quest you complete gives about 12-18g each.
    * Scam people, don’t do this you will get banned. Plus you’ll need a good reputation to make reliable money. Scamming is bad, don’t do it.
    * Selling enchants, rare recipe crafts and generally spamming the “trade” channel in a public city.

    Firstly i’d like to make you aware of the following thread on the Elitist Jerks forum about the art of making gold. It’s a nice read and i can higly recommend checking it out sometime.

    Now, depending on your class, spec and gear you might want to consider your options.
    Obviously mob-farming isn’t quite as effective as a healer than it would be for a full epic warlock, mage or rogue. Even if you were to equip your dps gear.
    So, among the options listed earlier, you’d have to decide which is best for you. I’ll give more details on each subject later.

    Daily Quests
    A recent addition to the game is Daily quests, some of these such as:
    * Cooking quest 7g
    * Fires over Skettis : 12g
    * The relic’s emanations 9g
    * Bomb them again 12g
    * Wrangle more aether rays 12g
    * Booterang! 12g
    * Picking up the pieces 18g
    Obviously there are more quests you can do, but these seven are all quite easy to do even for a healer, and in total they pay about 80g
    While the profit per hour is somewhat low, it’s good money for very little effort, and minimal risk of death or partially lethal injury.
    Keep in mind that the last 2 (booterand + picking up the pieces) require you to have 300 mount skill. This means you’d have to spend 5000g to learn this skill before those quests become available.

    If you are a miner, skinner, herbalist, or engineer a good way to earn an extra buck outside of raid time is to gather materials.
    Whether purely for your own use, or for selling on the auctions a good gatherer can make a lot of money if he knows where to look.

    If you plan to use gathering as a source of income it’s highly recommended to buy a fast flying mount as soon as possible.
    Without a 310% speed mount you may not find gathering to be worth your time, as you’ll have a hard time competing with people who are a lot faster by air than you would be.

    On my server, fel iron bars are about 20g per stack, and adamantite about 30g per stack. Prices may fluctuate.
    Most people sell bars, however prospecting is quite profitable as well. Prospecting a stack of 100 adamantite (50g worth) ore may yield you an average 1-3 blue gems with a value between 10-80g, as well as several green gems, and some adamantite powder.
    I fear i haven’t actively mined in a good while, but on average i’d say 100-200 ore per hour is quite doable.
    This may seem low at first, but keeping in mind that while farming adamantite you’ll also get the occassional khorium vein, several random gems, motes of earth by the dozen, and eternium which sells for over 10g per bar.

    Herbalism is another good gathering profession, and again it helps to have a fast mount.
    Most popular herb sell for between 15-60g per stack. Even the common trash felweed can easily sell for 10g per stack.
    Terocone, Netherbloom, Ancient lichen also sell very well. You’d have to check the AH on your own server for comparing prices however.

    How to make world of warcraft gold - Part 1

    Gold, the lifeblood of the Wow economy.
    Many people will remember the first time they finally had “one whole gold” to call their own.
    Soon it became 10. 100. 1,000. 10,000
    But some, they never go above a certain value.

    Tanks and healers are mostly affected with this.
    But why, seriously?
    Why do some people have such a hard time getting money?

    As of patch 2.3 one of the changes that were implemented was the 33% spell damage from healing gear.
    So any healer with 1500 to +healing will now also have +500 spell damage.
    This change was welcomed by any and every healing class for obvious reasons, they could finally grind to a certain extent while simply swapping out 2-3 pieces of their lowest +healing items to get some extra spell damage out.
    Blizzard mainly did it for that purpose, making all classes and specs more equal for solo grinding.
    Aside that, they also greatly helped our healers who were struggling on Leotheras the Blind(SSC).
    And, made a lot of hybrid classes ridiculously overpowered in pvp.

    But, i digress.

    To an extent it’s easy to see who has a hard time getting money.
    Just look around and you’ll see people with over 100 played days flying around on a 60% speed mount.
    They are either casual players, or have an uncontrollable addiction for the auction house.

    Such players will at some point notice the disgusting slime that is known to many of us as “goldsellers”.
    I absolutely loathe the scum.
    I’d fly over to wherever the damn creeps hang out and give them a good old fashioned kick in the nuts.
    Sadly not everyone shares this loathing, else they wouldn’t spend all day creating bots to spam the bank with their crap. Just log on to any server, go to orgrimmar or ironforge and wait 5 minutes. I personally guarantee that you’ll be spammed, possibly more than once.

    On a side note, I’ve added the ToS violation / bad google adds list from WowWiki :
    So if at any time you see or notice a goldseller link on this blog, let me know and i’ll kick it off faster than you can think of complaining about it twice.

    A recent trend in the goldselling business is to create lvl 1 alts, and invite about 5-10 people into a raid, then spam them all together.
    This seems rather inefficient, as i simply decline all invited by default. But aparently it works for some of the more unsuspecting casual players else they wouldn’t be doing it still.
    If you’re getting pretty tired of the spam, I recommend taking a look at or another interface addon site and look for some spam blocking. I’ve used spamsentry for a while until 2.2 was released : and it seems to do the trick fairly well.

    Never buy gold, no matter how cheap their prices may seem to you.
    Even if you stole your mother’s credit card and the money isn’t your own anyway.
    Never ever buy gold, for these simple reasons:
    * At least half of all goldseller websites are scammers. You pay them, but don’t get the gold.
    * Most of the other half doesn’t even sell gold, but instead try to infect you with a trojan virus. The virus will then attempt to read your account name and password, and allow those same scammers i listed in #1 to take your gold and sell it to somebody else. At least 25% of all wow gold that is sold to players, is actually stolen from other players by the use of a trojan virus. By buying gold you are screwing over those players and helping the goldsellers ruin the game.
    * Goldsellers use bots, bots farm 24/7 and inflate the economy. More gold in the economy means that honest players will have a harder time getting money, and thus are more likely to have to buy gold to compete with the other players. It’s an evil circle right there.
    * It’s damn easy to get cash. What? That’s right, it’s damn easy to get gold in wow. It just doesn’t work if you’re a lazy bum that has to steal his mother’s credit card to even play the game.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Alliance leaders slaughtered on Moon Guard

    Alliance leaders slaughtered on Moon Guard

    Good news from Moon Guard-- despite a despicable assault by the Alliance on the Horde outpost of Orgrimmar, the valiant Horde there have grabbed their sword and fought the.. Alliance, taking the battle straight to their capital cities. Ok, "factionalism" aside, what the Horde on Moon Guard did is pretty impressive. They downed Velen, Bolvar, Mekkatorque, Magni, Staghelm (yay!), Tyrande, and Jaina. I'm surprised they didn't storm into Northshire Abbey and down Paxton, just for completeness' sake.

    And just like we said on last week's podcast, it's a shame that they didn't get much for their trouble. High level faction targets give a little honor, and they give some money, but other than that, there are no major rewards for the downings. A special title or a factionwide buff would be great, and wouldn't cause overfarming chaos in these cities, which we believe is Blizzard's main reason for keeping these bosses lootless.

    At any rate, grats to all the guilds on Moon Guard (the Horde guilds, and the Alliance guilds that killed Thrall and brought on this slaughter) for making this happen. Blizzard won't give you much but a little honor and some change, but we'll give you our gratitude for making sure there is war in Warcraft.

    Around Azeroth: Waiting...


    Reader Andy sends in this unique perspective of Arathi Basin, pre-battle. And though any of you who have run AB will know this view by heart as you autorun up against the gate, ready to spring forth as soon as possible, this particular moment of tension is rarely captured in screenshot form. Just look at the blacksmith in the distance, an undefended node, ripe for the capturing, as soon as these pesky gates open!

    Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see your idea of the best looking instance on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!

    The happiest class


    We all know which class QQs the most (I know, I know, low blow-- but it made me laugh), but which class smiles the most? Skrattin (who is actually a Warlock himself) speculates that it's 'Locks who are happiest with the game. Even though they've taken some nerfs (although they might still be OP, depending on who you listen to), they still seem to be pretty happy with their class and the game at large. And it's true-- I've never once heard of a Warlock protest out there on the realms.

    I generally think of Warriors are pretty happy guys, but even they have had their problems. And while most Priests I know tend to actually be pretty cheery about being the first to die when aggro is lost and playing whack-a-mole all the time, they've had their problems as well. And while I do like my Shaman, I can't really defend my class-- we're pretty big whiners (even if it is justified).

    So maybe it's true-- Warlocks just might be the happiest class in the game. It's not that there isn't Warlock QQ, it's just that, for most of the game, it's been about 'locks, not by them.

    The Art of War(craft): A rambling year in review


    In last week's column, where I went over the World PvP objectives in the Outlands, some players expressed indignation at how Blizzard supposedly "forces" PvE players into playing PvP. There are different views on this, such as Massively's Craig Withers, who wrote about a distaste for impersonal PvP in WoW and thus avoids it like the plague, and well, myself, who would actually like to see more PvP-oriented goals implemented in the game. As the shadow of the aptly-named WAR, or Warhammer Online -- which trumpets a supposedly rich PvP and RvR (Realm vs. Realm) experience -- looms, World of Warcraft appears increasingly lacking in PvP content. More and more, suspicion arises that WoW PvP is flawed by design. In his article, David points to reader Aviel's well-ordered thoughts on the matter -- that PvP's basic flaw is that it is an Honor grind, Honor being the currency for gear. As long as it is currency, Aviel says, people will find ways to earn it in the quickest manner possible (e.g. AFKing).

    For the most part, I agree with that statement. Blizzard has designed WoW PvP to be a task/reward system that is vulnerable to abuse. The simple fact, however, is that the entire game is a huge task/reward system, from the very existence of mobs (including bosses), which award loot when killed; to quests, which give rewards for completing certain tasks. Without that mechanic in place, the entire game would break. Players do daily quests not out of sheer enjoyment -- although some can be fun -- but because it's a reliable method for earning gold. When Patch 2.4 eventually hits, players can earn upwards of 300g by doing daily quests. I am willing to be that people will be doing daily quests not (just) because they're fun but because most players need gold.

    In its current iteration, Honor is a currency, making it a prime candidate for farming. This design is largely due to the fact that WoW PvP has mostly been an afterthought. Actual PvP objectives and rewards, i.e. the Honor system, didn't come into the game until Patch 1.4, about five months after the game's release. The first Battlegrounds came out a month later in a subsequent patch. Because PvP isn't deeply interwoven into the world, the Honor system feels tacked on, distinctly separated from other currencies or means of acquiring loot, or reward. What matters, however, is that Blizzard recognized the need for PvP and managed to find a way to incorporate it. Blizzard Vice-President of Game Design Rob Pardo, in his 2006 AGC keynote speech said, "Early on we really didn't know how the honor system was going to work, we didn't know if we were going to have titles and achievements but we knew we had to have PvP and we knew that it had to be fun."

    It has to be fun
    Thus, long-windedly, I come upon the key word: fun. PvP should be fun. In fact, the promised forthcoming changes to Alterac Valley will be geared towards making the Battleground a more fun experience. Lately, non-participation in the Battlegrounds, particularly Alterac Valley, have become such an issue that people are simply staying clear of them. Obviously, AFKers are only part of the problem, despite the welcome hard-line change to Blizzard's policy against them.The way Blizzard sees it, they need to figure out why people AFK in the first place. While it almost seems like a rhetorical question, the driving philosophy behind the query is this: is it fun enough?

    I wrote about my reasons for participating in PvP. The bottom line, for me, is that it's fun. Obviously, there are many out there who do not share this sentiment and prefer to experience the game from an entirely PvE perspective. I even wrote that PvP was inevitable and was promptly rebutted by staunch strictly-PvE players. I stand corrected despite the fact that I can't imagine playing World of Warcraft without participating in at least a single game of, say, Warsong Gulch. These days, most people are playing Battlegrounds and Arenas purely for the gear. Acquisition of gear is the end goal whereas in a perfect World of Warcraft, it is merely a byproduct of having fun in those scenarios. Some players target an Honor total, purchase their item, and are done with a Battleground entirely. Others, as I mentioned, feel "forced" into PvP to acquire gear. More and more, I am falling under the impression that PvP is something that many players are participating in simply because of the allure of (seemingly) easy epics.

    Gears of war
    Welfare epics. It's an excellent mechanic, really. Blizzard called these epic items "welfare" because everyone, even players who don't raid, has (or eventually will have) access to them. The call of shiny, new gear appeals to all players, even those not normally inclined to PvP. Without the promise of new items, will players still be queuing for the Battlegrounds? I'll be bold as to answer that myself -- probably not. Without any rewards at the end of the day, Battlegrounds and Arenas will likely become ghost towns because, as fun as they are to play (pure PvE players will just have to take my word for it on this one), they're just not that fun. The entire game is based on tasks and rewards, and PvP is no exception.

    Is Honor the best mechanic for it? I don't know, but I think Honor has worked really well in the past year. Then again, this might stem from the fact that I was weaned from a time when Honor bought nothing. Acquiring one million Honor points one week used to be a necessity in order to merely have access to the best gear (if you didn't have the gold to purchase your items within the week, tough luck!). It was a cruel, unforgiving system that only got harder the closer you got to your goal. Those million Honor points were gone by Tuesday's maintenance and the grind would begin again. Nowadays, the persistent Honor-as-currency system caters to even the most casual player, which is a good thing. AFKers are a natural by-product of the system but without it, there might be little to no PvP in WoW to speak of save for the occasional griefer with epeen issues.

    Ironically, 2007 was the year where Blizzard definitively drew the dividing line between PvE and PvP gear. The introduction of Resilience last year is one of the most important developments in PvP. In my opinion, it ranks as the biggest change to PvP in 2007. It dichotomized PvP and PvE so clearly that a player decked out in completely PvP gear is highly unlikely to outperform a player equally geared with PvE items in a PvE scenario. Conversely, players with high resilience were now more likely to last against -- if not outlast -- players in raid gear. In the old days, players who raided and were decked out in Tier 2 or Tier 3 gear were devastating in the Battlegrounds. With Resilience, you PvP to get gear for PvP and you PvE to get gear for PvE. Ideally, of course.

    Something that gets very low points for me in 2007 is the appearance of the PvP gear. They're lazy recolors of existing raid gear. They're nice enough, to be sure -- with some awful recolor choices -- but they're a far cry from the once-unique models of the old Honor system. In the old days, PvP gear was distinctive. Now, they're mere copies of PvE gear. In my opinion, many of those item sets were the best-designed gear in the game to this day. The coolest thing about them? There were different looks for Alliance and Horde players. Alliance set and weapons were proud and gleaming, while the Horde items were gritty and savage. 2007 saw that visual distinction give way to raid-recolor homogeneity.

    Other things... other quibbles
    Was 2007 a fun year for PvP? I certainly had my share of good times. 2007 was also the year a new Battleground was introduced but was also the same year that Blizzard confirmed that Eye of the Storm was going to be the last Battleground until Wrath of the Lich King comes out. The funny thing is, I think it would have been pretty exciting to have gotten additional maps for existing Battlegrounds, similar to Arenas. It is fairly easy for Blizzard to generate even symmetrical maps with the same mechanics in place as the existing games. The new Battleground simply doesn't do it for me. As I explained in an earlier column, Eye of the Storm seems like the least developed Battleground simply because it doesn't have a story. No factions, no real world location... for me it was just one of those things that made me feel more like PvP was just an afterthought in WoW. 2007 also saw the most changes to Alterac Valley, with more looming on the horizon.

    If there was anything big about PvP in WoW in 2007, it was definitely the Arena system. Aside from Arenas, 2007 was a rather lackluster year for PvP. Because of Arenas' such huge success (long queue times, anyone?), Blizzard has taken it as a barometer for class balance, dealing nerfs (Blessing of Freedom, Blessing of Sacrifice) and buffs (Arcane Shot, Aimed Shot) based mostly on a class's Arena performance and desirability (representation). The irony is that the changes made to classes affected them not only in PvP but in PvE, as well, despite the fact that the changes are meant to address imbalances made apparent in Arena scenarios.

    Looking ahead
    If there's anything I'm looking forward to this year, it's Lake Wintergrasp and all that that implies. As Warhammer Online touts a rich PvP experience in its core gameplay (some would say PvP is its core gameplay), Blizzard seems to have responded in turn with their announcement of a completely PvE-free zone in Wrath of the Lich King. It seems like a small concession to PvP players, but it's definitely a hopeful start. Will there be (uniquely modeled) gear available in the zone? Will there be quest chains or daily quests? Will there be new Battlegrounds? Will there be -- gasp! -- new titles obtained from participating in the zone? The new Westfall-sized zone has so much potential I can't wait to find out what Blizzard has in store.

    I don't expect major changes to PvP this coming year, despite how flawed the Honor or Arena systems might be. For the most part, they've worked well. I have a feeling people will be doing more PvP as WotLK draws near... as the prospect of Northrend greens replacing hard-earned raid purples trudges towards inevitability, people will start to raid less and less. I also expect Blizzard to deliver on a more integrated, consequential World PvP implementation, however. Although Lake Wintergrasp is a purely PvP zone, I fully expect Blizzard to have World PvP objectives in other zones, as well. With all the lessons learned from the past, I hope that World PvP will become more useful, compelling, rewarding, and ultimately, fun. If there's anything I hope for PvP to be this coming year, it's that Blizzard succeeds in making not only Alterac Valley more fun but World of Warcraft PvP in general. Beyond the glitz of the gear and the glamour of titles, PvP -- through its different channels (Battlegrounds, Arenas, World PvP) -- should be fun to play in and of itself. Make PvP fun enough, and even Mike Schramm won't be asking silly questions such as, "who says PvP matters?," up on Massively. Have a killer 2008, everyone!

    Zach Yonzon writes the weekly PvP column The Art of War(craft) while eagerly awaiting for the boat that will take him to Northrend. He is learning how to operate a siege-weapon in preparation for his siege license exam.