The Hottest Online Game

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Undying experience of a Priest

I wanted to share some thoughts and tips this week on a successful Undying run I participated in with my guild. It continues to be one of the most challenging achievements in the game. To put it bluntly your entire raid group must navigate and clear out every encounter in Naxxramas without dying to any of the bosses. The amount of coordination, luck and skill needed is high. Remember that dying on trash is perfectly okay. It's the bosses where you can't afford to lose players on.

But I want to let you all in on a secret. There's a trick to earning the Undying.

What is it?


Take a deep breath and relax. My group got through all four quarters before we realized that no one died. I was still Discipline. I had a Resto Druid for support up to that point and we flew through all of the quarters flawlessly.

I read a great article in Wired magazine about air traffic controllers. In it one of the observers mentioned that you can tell how relaxed a flight controller is by the angle of their back. If a person's back was upright at 90 degrees or if he was leaning back slightly at 100 degrees, then you would know the controller was at ease. However, if the flight controller's back angled any lower than 90 (leaning forward), then they were under a considerable amount of stress.

My back was either straightened or slightly relaxed up until we reached Sapphiron before the Ret Paladin made the decision to go Holy just to help.

Priest tips

  • Don't hold yourself back: Take advantage of the correct regen mechanics as much as possible. I wager most Priests aren't using their Shadowfiends or potions regularly. You still have those in reserve along with Hymn of Hope.

  • Use cooldowns at the first sign of trouble: As a healing Priest, you're either going to have access to Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit. Use those spells liberally when you feel things become dangerous.

  • Prayer of Healing glyph: I personally like this glyph. It's like having additional 5 additional HoT spells at your disposal.

Here are a few things that I kept in the back of my head when I was working my way through the various Naxx quarters.

Military Quarter

Instructor Razuvious

I stayed primarily on the Understudies the whole time. I let my partner worry about the raid. Use your judgment on this especially when it comes down to when to heal them. I waited for their health to drop down to around 90% or so before I unloaded healing spells.

Gothik the Harvester

Cover the undead side. Shackle if things get out of hand. I did not have to use it but it was nice having the option there.

Four Horsemen

I tanked the rear ads (Sir Zelik and Lady Blameaux) in tandem with a Boomkin. I healed the two of us. The Resto Druid was up front covering Thane and Rivendare.

Construct Wing


You stay full time on the off tank. Let your partners worry about the main tank. They should assist you in anyway possible on the offtank as well but I never deviated from the off tank at all.


Stay in range of diseased victims. You never know. Have a quick heal ready for them if they happen to step in the wrong direction.


Heal your zombie kiters here. In fact, I even kited with them. Just like Gothik, I had a shackle ready in case a zombie managed to come in close.


Nothing particularly special here. Keep firing the Prayer of Mendings non step. Heh, do levitate when dealing with the ledge boss. He managed to get me a few times before in the past. How embarrassing.

Plague Wing

Noth the Plaguebringer

Positions yourself in the corner opposite from the entrance. If you happen to pull any unfriendlies toward you, they have to go through your tanks first.


If you know there of a player in your raid group who can't dance, keep a shield and a Prayer of Mending on them during the dance phase at all times. If they get hit, it should still take 2 more eruptions to kill them (in theory at least).


Nothing special here. I placed myself in the tank group so that Prayer of Healing could hit the tank.

Spider Wing


He's a walkover. Do what you normally do and make sure you are not getting caught by locust swarms.


We didn't really bother with ad control. The raid group just blitzed her down and AoE'd the rest at the same time.


I didn't do anything special here. I kept track of webbed victims and watched the timers for any web wraps past the enrage timer. I remember using Pain Suppression during this point. She only wrapped once.

Frostwyrm Lair and Kel'Thuzad's Chamber


I had my Frost Resist gear handy and tossed it on. I mentioned earlier that our Ret Paladin turned Holy to help out. Yes it took an air phase longer. But better to be safe then to be sorry. There's nothing wrong with adding an extra thousand or two thousand hitpoints.


The tension during this encounter was really high. I'm not kidding. My hands were literally frozen. We split up the healers. Holy Paladin to my right, Resto Druid to my left, and I took center stage in the middle of the green circle. Other than the tank, there were only two melee. Each healer had a dedicated melee just in case they got blocked. I had my camera at max distance to spot the ice blocks as they formed over the raid.

The most important thing any player can do is to remain calm and not panic. Because the moment one player starts to panic, it will start a ripple effect and the rest of the players will start panicking. If you can stay cool, then Undying will be yours.

The Colosseum: Gladiator Lamures

Rogues were certainly a dominant force in Season 4. However, while it's easy to say Rogues were powerful, that does mean that any rogue struggling for the highest tiers of achievements had to fight other, equally powered opponents. In that highly competitive atmostphere, Lamures from Twisting Nether graduated to the Gladiator title.

Now firmly rooted in Season 5, however, rogues are struggling. Death Knights dominate the season, highlighting the weakpoints of Rogue class. Undaunted, Lamures continues to achieve a 2454 team rating. With that in mind, the Gladiator spared time to talk to the Colosseum about his experience in the Arena.

WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?

Lamures: My only real serious team would be my 2v2. (My 3v3 is with an alcoholic hunter, Snolas who breaks CC). My 2v2 is Discipline Priest/Rogue. My teamate is Eragoan, a Priest and myself, Lamures, A rogue.

As priest/rogue we usually CC/Mana Burn a target and focus something else.

Hunter/healers are extreme pains in the ass to fight as Priest/Rogue. They just place Viper Sting on the priest and CC myself, then kill the priest (if they're smart). Otherwise, if they're dumb, they let me get a Sap and opener, run around with the Diablo 2 Barbarian's Jawbone helmet and Wing Clip me, we'll win.

I'd like to believe that we run a Priest/Rogue comp fairly aggressively.

WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?

Lamures: Aside from being horribly ADD on listing the class comp and naming the wrong one 3 times in a row, I usually find a target to set as my focus for CC, sap it and open on the other enemy. (Also, I make sure I get a bubble from a priest so I can run through Concescration and Death & decay.)

WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?

Lamures: I use quite a lot. X-perl, Dominoes, Omnicc, Afflicted, Gladius, and Recount are the most prominent in Arena. (I check back in Arena to see what went wrong.)

WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)

Lamures: The both of us generally know what we're going to do, but I call out alot of focus targets. However, if we see something crucial that involves a target switch, either of us will call it out depending on who noticed it first.

WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?" Is this different now than in previous seasons?

Lamures: Whenever the two of us are online, feel like doing arenas, and not raiding. We don't try to do them at specific times. Some people we know like to wait until 6 am on Monday to do arenas, which is pretty much cheating to get your rating since you fight stupidly easy teams... over... and over again... and farm them.

WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?

Lamures: At the higher brackets, you need to be alot more aggresive. My priest can be a lot more defensive and just sit back and heal in the lower brackets. But as you progress in the brackets, both the priest and myself have to be coordinated and offensive to get a win against teams.

WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)

Lamures: Well, if our burst fails and what we're doing isn't working, or my priest needs mana, I need to be defensive/aggresive at the same time. (I know that sounds retarded but I'll explain.)

What I tend to do is play defensive to avoid taking as much damage as I can, but play aggresive enough where the opponent will feel like he needs to stick on me to survive. I only need to do this for 10 seconds or so for a good drink in on the priest. As a rogue, this generally means using stunlock, gouging every time it's up, and a small bit of kiting when you're out of energy.

WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?

Lamures: For the most part, there's 3 ways we win a match that went in our favor.

Mana Burn the healer and kill the dps.

Chain CC one of the targets and wear down the second one eventually killing it in a good CC.

And my favorite, get a really good opening Sap and Fear (generally both targets eating the fear), then popping Tricks of the Trade on my priest and nuking a target right away before it gets time to do anything. If they live through this burst, it usually means both of them blew their trinkets and quite a few large cooldowns to survive, and we're definetly getting ready to claim victory.

WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?

Lamures: I don't think anyone should be clicking anything you use in PvP combat in arenas. I have everything bound from bandages to Preparation, even my weapon swap macro! There's two moves I click in Arena, and that's Mount and my "/tar a-z" macro, which is only pressed once right as the gate opens. As a rogue, I don't even mount up.

WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?

Lamures: A lot of losses are due to just class mechanics and such. Death Knight gets Freedom, pops Icebound Fortitude, Anti-Magic Shell, and sits on my priest. I go to Disarm him for 10 seconds and he's still able to spam Icy Touch and Death Coil on my priest to burn him down. Not much I can improve on for that.

But in terms of what we can do to improve, I'd say getting better survivability for our priest against DK teams and making sure I get a Sap and Opener on the other team.

WoW Insider: A lot has been made of healers not having a strong role in Season 5. What do you think about that commentary?

Lamures: World of Burstcraft is definitely what they'll call this season. But healers are still good. Not going to lie, Shamans and Paladins definitely have it significantly easier than Druids and Priests do.

WoW Insider: What are you hoping to see improved in 3.1? We've seen some changes, obviously, but there's more to come.

Lamures: The only change I'm looking forward to is poisons on a Proc Per Minute basis and glyph changes for rogues. Nothing much in our ability list getting changed.

Though the changes to Priests are pretty significant, I'm going to imagine the shadowfiend changes will be the biggest since they won't be kited as much. (Almost every time it's used, the shadowfiend is kited or sits there swapping between targets. Even when told otherwise, which gives no mana back to the priest.)

The evolutionary design of Arena gear

What many players who don't like the sets seem to miss on is that this is something entirely new in the game. Blizzard has always done recolored versions of armor, but this is the first time by my reckoning that they have done evolutionary tier gear. [EDIT: This isn't entirely true. Reader Suzaku pointed out that the leather armor from Level 60 PvP sets evolved. My bad on missing out on that.] When I first encountered Blizzard's new multi-tiered PvP gear system, I was apprehensive about the next season's gear because I was afraid it would be difficult to match pieces visually. Arena gear had, prior to Season 5, been mere recolors of PvE raid sets, so there was no contuity from the one season to the next.

The problem with that was upgrading from one season's set to the other created visual clashes. As much as we like to min/max, PvPers like to look good, too. Enter Season 5 and the multi-tier gear system. There were three different sets of gear but all of them melded seamlessly into the other, with minor discrepancies in color. The introduction of an entirely new set of gear with completely different designs in Season 6 would have invalidated not just one but three sets of gear. However, the new design philosophy builds upon the older models, evolving -- as Alex put it -- like Azerothian Pokemon.

This approach solves the problem of clashing sets across seasons. The important distinction here is that, unlike PvE sets, PvP gear share set bonuses across tiers. That is to say, wearing one piece from each of the three -- soon to be four -- tiers of PvP gear will confer set bonuses. More than in PvE, players are led to upgrade directly through PvP tier gear, so wearing pieces across different tiers will always happen. The evolutionary designs ensure that transitioning from one tier to the next will keep character appearance cohesive. I know there's a bit of a debate about similar-looking sets, but this is a different animal.

If you don't like the base sets (Season 5), then obviously, fancier shoulders and helmets won't do anything for you. It took me a while to digest the understated designs of Wrath PvP gear, but the whole nipples-of-dragons argument made sense to me. Don't get me wrong, I still pine for faction-specific PvP sets, and I think the old Marshal / Warlord item sets were still some of the best designed gear, but I have grown to appreciate this new design philosophy. When I'm raiding, I'm in shiny green and gold, fancy winged Gundam armor. But when I PvP, I slap on a gunmetal set that's designed for business. I like that. I think it's a great idea.

The biggest and arguably only fault of the design team, really, is that there's decidedly a dearth of badassery. I mean, PvE gear is supposed to look regal and impressive and sometimes even awe-inspiring. They usually get that with raid sets. PvP gear, on the other hand, is supposed to be badass. That's all. Zarhym's whole soldiers-in-battle-ready-gear is a good concept, but man, the sets just really need more attitude. The good news is that the latest iterations show that they're trying to give these same sets some attitude.

The potential is pretty awesome. Remember that Blizzard's artists can just as easily change the skin of other pieces, not just "grow" the shoulders in future sets (if I'm not mistaken, they've very subtly changed the Shaman chest graphic). It's extremely possible to have different, badass PvP sets in future seasons, but hearkens to the base designs of Season 5. Zarhym stated that the looks of the sets would improve over the seasons -- while the original designs might have been underwhelming for some of the classes, the new sets are an improvement.

I really love that Blizzard is taking a completely different approach to armor design. It's evolutionary, if not revolutionary. There is no abandonment of previous designs, there's growth from them. This is really what Michael was so enthused about when he reported about Season 6 gear. I wish we'd seen that right away with the Deadly Gladiator shoulders and head pieces, but that might have tipped off their hand too early. I mean, alright, Season 5 Shamans looked like turtles, but they get to break away from that in Season 6. From funny-looking to fearsome? Not yet, sorry, but you get the idea.

Instead of expecting to see a new set each season, I'm excited to see how it evolves from the old. How the design team will utilize existing themes and build upon them. For the first time ever, we'll have entire sets that are direct upgrades or evolutions visually from their lower tier counterparts. As an artist, that's a different design challenge altogether. As underwhelmed as I was with the designs of the first iteration of Wrath PvP gear, I'm pretty stoked to see how far Blizzard's team will take this.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blizzard's new raid model and why it works

The game is easy now. Really. Naxxramas was a breeze, and the only thing that gave a real challenge to raids in Wrath of the Lich King was the Obsidian Sanctum with three drakes up. Blizzard tuned raids and dungeons to become very accessible, and nowadays pretty much every Level 80 has at least stepped into Naxxramas. You know what? I think it's brilliant. There are those of you who think the game has been dumbed down, and that's kind of valid. I'd like to think of it as the game opening up.

I mean, back then, who was able to raid the original Naxxramas? Sure, it was released pretty close to The Burning Crusade, but only the best of the best guilds got to try it. That's a thimbleful in a large bucket of players. I never stepped in Naxxramas before Wrath. I never did Black Temple, either, although it was being pugged after the nerfs. Quite obviously, the closest I got to Kil'jaeden was through the cinematic in Magisters' Terrace. These days, I quite enjoy being able to relate to my high end raiding colleagues in WoW Insider.

Of course, most of them have done three drakes, and I haven't. My guild's come close, but when our our brother and sister team of healer and tank get disconnected during the most data intensive part of the encounter... well, it's a taller order for us. But that's besides the point. We get to experience it. We get to enjoy it. Ghostcrawler lays out Blizzard's new philosophy on raiding, and I for one appreciate it. He explains that it takes a lot of resources to produce a raid, and that "it seems an odd choice to lavish all that attention on such a tiny percent of the player base."

Instead, Blizzard has designed Ulduar to have "hard modes" or ways to tackle the encounter with varying degrees of difficulty. Ghostcrawler hopes that this will provide the cutting edge guilds with the challenge they need. After testing the water with Obsidian Sanctum, they're "going full bore with Ulduar". That's an excellent design philosophy which allows majority of the players base to see what Ghostcrawler calls "the coolest stuff in the game," but still gives the hardcore raiders "a lot to chew on". I mean, Ensidia might have cleared all the content in three days, but it took them a few days more to do Sartharion with three drakes, and Method beat them to 10-man World First.

If Blizzard does their job right, Ulduar will be something like that. Many guilds will be able to clear it, but only the most dedicated ones will be able to complete the hard modes. Naturally, the rewards for the hard modes will be appropriate for the difficulty. For many players it will be enough that they get to see a lot of what drives the story of the game. For the dedicated few, they'll get to experience it and have something test their mettle. There are 10- and 25-man raids, opening up the content to even more players. From a very basic perspective, that's squeezing the most out of a limited resource. I mean, it's just smart.

To Blizzard, though, it's more than that. They want you -- us to see what they've been working so hard on. Unlike Naxxramas, which reuses old models and textures, Ulduar is brand new. New models, new art, new textures, new encounters, maybe even new music! I'm thankful that I'll get to see all of that. Maybe I'll get to do it in hard mode, maybe not. But I'll get to see it. I'll get to enjoy it. Most of you will, too. That's the beautiful thing about the game now. More people than ever will get to experience it in full. Say what you will about how "easy" this game has become, but I'm grateful that I don't have to be in a bleeding edge guild just to enjoy the endgame.

Guess what? There will be rewards. Ghostcrawler said that "Ulduar has more items than all of BC's raids put together" which means that there's just been a ton of work put into it. Fourteen bosses in one raid... that's massive. I don't care how hardcore your guild is, fourteen bosses is going to keep people busy for a while. And just when you think you've cleared it, there's the hard mode. Think about it... there are drops from fourteen bosses in 10- and 25-man plus the hard mode rewards. That's a lot of loot for everyone at all levels of play.

When Patch 3.1 finally arrives, what Ghostcrawler calls "the 'World First' crowd" should find themselves busy with the hard modes while the rest of us will be enjoying the scenery. Kind of. I'm sure we'll be wiping quite a bit on the bosses, but I can assure you we'll be doing it with a smile on our faces.

Warlock: Deep in the third tree

For my second foray into non-Affliction specs, I decided it was time to go deep Destruction with 7 / 7 / 57. There aren't a lot of people who champion this spec, or any spec that includes Chaos Bolt really. But I tried the more popular 0 / 31 / 40 earlier in the week and found it far too similar to the spec I covered last week to justify posting about it so soon. So I did some research into what deep Destruction Warlocks are doing these days, and this is what I came up with.

I was somewhat surprised that this spec decides to put points in Affliction rather than spend the full 13 points in Demonology required to get Demonic Aegis, but part of the experiment is that I don't tweak the specs in any way that might affect DPS. Still, I'm tempted to switch some points into Demonic Aegis over the weekend to see if there's any improvement -- but I digress. Lets get down to business.

Health: 16,854 (Improved by stat food)
Mana: 16,454
Spell Power: 1887
Spell Haste: 262 (7.99%)
Spell Crit: 21.29% (Improved by both Firestone and Stat food)
Hit: Capped.

For my Glyphs, I picked up the soon-to-be-improved Glyph of Imp to boost my pet's damage. I also grabbed Glyph of Conflagrate because getting more than one Conflagrate out of each Immolate seems like a good thing to me -- particularly because I was always really bad about casting Conflagrate during the very last Immolate tick. I also stuck with Glyph of Immolate, because it actually turns out to be a pretty decent damage increase for Immolate, which I'm casting as Destruction anyway. I promise it has absolutely nothing to do with the glyph costing 40 gold, and me being too cheap to buy it again when I spec back to Affliction. Honestly, each of these glyphs seems so important to the spec that I really don't know what will be the glyphs of choice once Glyph of Incinerate and Glyph of Chaos Bolt are released in patch 3.1.

The tactic of this spec shares the basic philosophy of last week's 0 / 41 / 30. The casting sequences begins with shadow dots to proc Molten Core, then the bulk of the damage is done by keeping Immolate up and hammering the target with Incinerate. The difference with this spec is that Chaos Bolt and Conflagrate are both thrown into the mix. The latter of which is particularly essential to the success of this spec, because every time it's cast it causes the Backdraft effect, which is like a miniature version of Bloodlust / Heroism with a 10 second cooldown instead of a 5 minute one.

I decided that instead of casting both Curse of Agony and Corruption, as I did during last week's test, I'd cast only the former, to see what the difference was in Molten Core uptime. After doing some fiddling, I must agree that Corruption is a largely unnecessary addition to the rotation, as CoA is enough to keep Molten Core active almost constantly. And the global cooldown I saved myself every 18 seconds was put to much better use I think.

With that in mind, my rotation began with Curse of Agony, followed by Immolate. I usually got a little lag between casting Immolate and Conflagrate becoming available to me. So, I'd follow Immolate up with Chaos Bolt, then hit Conflagrate, which of course procs Backdraft. The massive haste increase allowed me to blast the target with 3 quick incinerates before losing the effect. One or two slower Incinerates was usually enough to finish up the Conflagrate cooldown. If I was quick, I could pop Conflagrate just before immolate ran out, then use the haste bonus to re-apply Immolate before continuing my Incinerate and Chaos Bolt spam. Of course, Life Tap and Curse of Agony need to be cast now and again, but if you time them to coincide with when you'd usually be casting slow Incinerates, it doesn't break up the rotation too much.

Deep Destruction is a peculiar kind of spec to play. I commented to a friend on vent that it half like playing Affliction, and half like playing some weird sort of bizzaro-Affliction. Playing this spec you've got 2 dots that you want to keep up, and avoid clipping, as well as 2 cooldowns that you want to keep on top of. Personally, I found this to be more difficult and complex than the simple whack-a-mole of refreshing Affliction dots. Focus on two different kinds of count-downs rather than just one resulted in a sort of split-brain thing. It made this spec an interesting challenge to play.

After spending a bit of time on a training dummy to get a feel for the rotation, I headed to Heroic Culling of Stratholme (which was the heroic and normal daily on my server that day) to do some field tests. It didn't go well. To be fair, my group had 2 pugs, and 3 people who were playing outside of their usual spec, but that didn't stop my cheeks from turning red when we didn't manage to complete the timed event. Worse yet was my personal performance in there. Rain of Fire doesn't seem to pack the same punch that it does when you've got all those sexy Demonology buffs, like you do as Fel / Emberstorm; and my dps on the bosses was so abysmal I'd be ashamed to talk about it.

At first I chalked this up to the spec, and was starting to pen some disappointed, yet biting, comments in my mind. But one instance is hardly a sufficient sample, particularly one where almost every single boss has the ability to interrupt your casting in some way; and they all took advantage of that ability against me. The way Mal'Ganis was putting me to sleep, I started to wonder if my character had suddenly developed narcolepsy.

Next our group headed to Violet Hold, where my performance improved considerably. I regularly pulled 2.2k DPS on the single target trash pulls, which swelled to 2.3 or 2.4 on bosses. If I actually had the crit rating this spec is designed for, it would certainly be even higher. Once Dalaran was safe from the invading dragonflight, my group and I set off for Halls of Lightning to try and get some pants for our Mage. There, my performance continued to hover steadily around 2.2k -- 2.4k -- save for that one huge trash pull where I managed to break 9k before stealing aggro from the tank and getting my butt franchised.

After Halls of Lightning, the tank decided to call it a night and the rest of the group agreed. I would have liked to get some more testing done in the name of scientific rigor. But, I think three instances was enough to get a reasonable idea for how the spec plays. I was rather disappointed the group didn't have it in them to tackle Azjol-Nerub, though. Affliction does terrible DPS against Anub'arak, and I would have loved to see how Destruction fared.

My astounding improvement between the the first and second instances can, I think, be attributed to several factors. The two most relevant being firstly my own ineptitude with the spec. Once I got the hang of things the rotation was easy enough, but it certainly took a bit more getting used to than I thought it would, and I'm glad I gave it several instances before making any final judgments. Secondly, I think it has a lot to do with a weakness of the spec. As Affliction, getting put to sleep or stunned is obviously a DPS loss, but the DoTs that were already on the boss will keep ticking away. While as Destruction, being temporarily taken out of the fight is much more damning, since you're doing almost no damage at all during that period.

All in all, I didn't do as much damage with this spec as I do when I'm Affliction; but there are a lot of other factors to consider here. Any respectable deep Destruction Warlock would have at least 25% crit unbuffed -- 5% more than I had. And while I haven't been on the PTR to gather any hard data on this, it looks like Affliction's damage output will be at least slightly reduced come 3.1. On the other hand, 7 / 7 / 57 looks like it's going to get some buffs, with Glyph of Imp having its affects raised from 10% to 20%, and replenishment being added to Improved Soul Leech. Furthermore, considering the interesting complexity of the rotation, I wouldn't be surprised if some Affliction locks switched to deep Destro after Affliction is 'simplified' in 3.1. On the other hand of course, Molten Core is being moved deep into the Demonology tree, so at this point, who can really say?

For now, though, 7 / 7 / 57 is overshadowed by 0 / 41 / 30. They have similar play styles and, for me, had almost equivalent damage output. But the buffs offered by the Demonology tree makes 0 / 41 / 30 much less demanding in terms of gear, and the rotation is far more bang for the buck. Still, 7 / 7 / 57 is by no means a bad spec, and I await trying it post-3.1 with great anticipation.

Level restrictions hotfixed into Wintergrasp

In an interesting note over the weekend, Bornakk updated the list of recent in-game fixes.

The Wintergrasp PvP zone now has two level restrictions in place:

You must be level 70 or higher to count towards the tenacity tally, obtain the tenacity buff, and get credit for a victory or defeat.
You must be level 50 or higher to be able to use the portal of Wintergrasp.

The immediate implications of this is that players cannot leave a low level alt sitting about collecting honor and Wintergrasp marks before level 70. While I don't know anyone personally who has done this, I have heard it talked about around the intertubes a bit.

For the majority of us however, this change won't have any real effect. Interesting nonetheless. Don't forget that there are several upcoming changes to Wintergrasp in Patch 3.1; including a world wide timer and a new raid boss.

Sneak peek at new Wintergrasp raid

Boubouille of MMO Champion was nice enough to send us some screenshots of the new wing of the raid in Wintergrasp, something he describes as "just a corridor" and too uninteresting to take pictures of. Still, he dove in there and took quite a bunch of screenshots of the vault's new wing, replete with Titan ornaments and columnar architecture. It's all reminiscent of things you've probably already seen, but still a good portent of things to come.

Kalgan spoke at length about the plans for Season 6, which included some drops from the new wing of the Vault of Archavon. Just like Archavon the Stone Watcher, the new raid boss -- currently a mystery -- will also drop PvE or Tier 8 gear. There's no sign of him on the PTR, either, although I wouldn't be surprised if the boss uses an existing giant model. Check out the gallery below courtesy of those fine folk at MMO Champion for more shots of... a corridor.

WoW Video: Downside Up by Lex

Lex only says about fifty times that his video, Downside Up, does not make sense. I have to disagree. Wookies on Endor? That doesn't make sense. This video makes sense. It's a music video, with various and meaningless scenes of an orc running. It's a showcase for music, with imagery meant to provide some kind of context to the sounds. It doesn't really have a story or a theme, but that doesn't mean it's sense-less.

Lex created this entire piece within four hours, so it's a quick one-off. But there are still some things to say about it. Lex did a good job of choosing scenery for his orc to run through. I like quick vistas like this. It shows off some of the beautiful landscapes and images that are present in the game. It's kind of nice.

Really, I can picture this video playing on a monitor above a club's dance floor. The action taking place in the video isn't the point, it's just setting up ambiance. I think Lex should explore this kind of thing, setting up a kind of YouTube play list of music videos. For all that he said "This makes no sense," I was able to appreciate the video as a showcase for the music.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Colosseum: The man known as Varl

The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.

In the world of the Arena, one Paladin's name stands alone. It is a name of pride and success. It is a name that veritably screams, "I am a gladiator." It is a name that is very, very hard to spell. That's why Varluneyna's friends simply call him "Varl."

If you're not familiar with him, Varl is a Holy Paladin. His 2v2 team is the top rated team on the Reckoning battlegroup, while his 3v3 team ain't doing shabby either. He's also the top rated Paladin in the world right now, but his live server ratings. Varl took the time to talk to us (which was awesome) about both his 2v2 and his 3v3 experienes (which is totally awesome.)

Check out what Varl had to say behind the cut.

Varl answered regarding 2v2s first. For readability, we're keeping this as if two separate interviews.

WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?

Varl: My teammate right now is Ehkz who is a Death Knight. The general plan for our composition is to get their healer into a position where they cannot escape. The biggest challenge that we face is any team with a Warlock, as they are the hardest counter to our team. I have heard that Paladin / Hunter is a counter to us as well, though the ones I have faced are not the best. Against a healer / DPS team, their DPS is usually on me so Ehkz helps where he can. But mostly, we focus on killing their healer before I die.

WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?

Varl: When the gates first drop, we see who we will be facing for the game and make plans based off of that. We try to make the other team fight us on our terms rather than running directly to them, aside for on Ring of Valor which is thankfully removed.

WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?

Varl: The mods that I most heavily rely on are Gladius and Xperl. Gladius since it allows me to quickly see who we are facing and be able to quickly target them if needed, and Xperl because it allows me to move target / party frames around. I use Dominos for a bar mod, though it's not a need-to-have thing in my opinion.

WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)

Varl: Most of the time Ehkz calls out the target. For 2s, this isn't a big deal, but it is for 3s.

WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?" Is this different now than in previous seasons?

Varl: Honestly, we just play whenever we are both on and have time to play. We really have to schedule time for getting to the rating we want to be at, as well as time for gaining points back if we should lose.

WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?

Varl: If me and Ehkz were to start over at 1500 in 2s right now, we would play it the same as we do now at 2700. Why would you purposefully play worse in a worse bracket? is my reasoning behind it.

WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)

Varl: It really depends on what the other team is doing. If they were going hard on Ehkz and suddenly stop doing as much damage, I realize that they are either trying to switch to me or get him into a position that I can't heal him.

WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?

Varl: Mostly, the strategy is just to DPS the healer while I help burst with Holy Shock / Judgements and assist with a stun. There is not much we can do as we have no CC.

WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?

Varl: The only skills on my bars that I click are my water, pre-Arena buffs (Might and Wisdom) and my Res (Which is almost never used). I have everything that I use in any sort of frequency bound to a key, so you are able to focus on the game rather than where you placed a spell.

WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?

Varl: What I am trying to improve right now is when a DPS is on me, going towards Ehkz rather than away from him. I am also trying to find ways to improve against Warlocks in terms of combating their Fear. If Ehkz gets feared away from me, I have to reveal myself in order to heal him and risk getting feared myself.

WoW Insider: A lot has been made of healers not having a strong role in Season 5. What do you think about that commentary?

Varl: I disagree that healers are not having a strong role in Season 5. How many 2s teams do you see without a healer on them? There are some, like past seasons, but I feel that a healer is just as strong as they were in past, except maybe for priests and druids. They really do seem to be quite weak compared to the other healers.

WoW Insider: What are you hoping to see improved in 3.1? We've seen some changes, obviously, but there's more to come.

Varl: I am quite happy with paladins at this current time. The buffs that we have received (Aura Mastery and Prot tree buffs) are quite nice, though the one thing I don't quite understand is the Sacred Shield nerf. It will just make us weaker in 3v3 and 5v5 where we are not nearly as strong as 2v2. It will not have much effect at all in 2v2.

And now, let's talk about 3v3 . . .

WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?

Varl: My teammates right now are Bobblehead and Ehkz. The general plan behind this comp is to take the strength of DKs -- which is killing most anything -- and combine it with a rogue's CC, poisons and DPS to kill people quickly.

The biggest challenge that our team has are teams that can counterspell me while still keeping pressure on one of my partners. If I get counterspelled during a cast, one of them will die. If I do not bubble as soon as I get counterspelled, one of them dies.

WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?

Varl: What we try to do is have Bobblehead get a sap off on one of them and then just rush someone on their team and hope to kill him before we die. Once we have opened up on them, we try to stay on a single target while slowing / blinding another target.

WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?

Varl: For the lower level brackets, Bobblehead was able to be out of stealth at the start of the game. As we got into the higher brackets, he was just focused and was forced into a role of applying wounding poison on someone and then vanishing so he did not die before I could get a heal off on him.

WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)

Varl: Who they get on makes me change how I play dramatically. If they get on Ehkz, I am able to help damage and stun targets when I can, but if they are on Bobble, I basically have to heal him full time. If they make a switch, it can be very hard to prevent Bobble from dying.

WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?

Varl: What we try to do is kill their healer before they can do damage. There are multiple ways that we can play this. If they are on Ehkz from the very start and are putting out decent damage -- not just auto attacking -- then Bobble can afford to come out of stealth and open up on our target. However, if they seem to be waiting for Bobble to come out, he has to play it really defensively and can usually only afford to Cheap Shot, mutilate, kidney shot and then vanish to avoid dying.

WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?

Varl: The biggest thing that I am trying to improve right now is not being bad, as Bobble constantly reminds me I am. Just minor mistakes that I make can usually cost us the game.

WoW Article: Ghostcrawler talks about Spiritual Attunement

If you've been keeping tabs on the Paladin changes lately, you might've noticed one thing that jumps out -- Spiritual Attunement will no longer be a skill but a talent deep in the Protection tree. Essentially a mechanic designed to help Paladin tanks keep their mana up, it was also key to Retribution Paladins' mana regeneration as it works synergistically with Seal of Blood / of the Martyr, the primary Retribution Seal.

Of course, if Spiritual Attunement being removed from trainers, the self-damage of Seal of Blood becomes little more than a gimmick and an inconvenience. It also tended to invalidate one glyph, which was the Glyph of Seal of Blood. If Spiritual Attunement is deep in the Protection tree, then the glyph becomes aimed at tanks... who don't use the seal. When players pointed this out on the forums, Dresorull replied to test it out in a future build (I still had Spiritual Attunement as a skill on the PTR) and locked the thread.

In a related post, Ghostcrawler lays out Blizzard's intentions for Paladin mana regeneration, saying that Spiritual Attunement is critical to Protection, but they "don't actually like Holy and Ret having (it)". He explains that such a mechanic depends too much on the encounter and gave Patchwerk as one example where SA won't return mana to anyone but a tank. He notes that Blizzard would still like to tune Paladin mana regeneration -- Holy through Illumination and Retribution through Judgements of the Wise.

When I first read about the change, my first fear was that Retribution mana regeneration would take a hit. And it will. But Blizzard clearly knows this and either planned for it or have plans to compensate. I'm curious to see how they will "tune" Illumination, which has been nerfed several times over the course of the game. It'll also be interesting how they will deal with Seal of Blood, whose feedback damage only makes Retribution Paladins a healing liability in raids. I really like the feedback mechanic, but it won't make any sense without Spiritual Attunement. Will Blizzard keep the damage now that SA will be too deep in Protection for Retribution to reach? Stay tuned. Or I should say, stay attuned.

The Daily Quest: Of macros, mother-in-laws and Addon movies

We here at WoW Insider are on a Daily Quest to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere.

  • Darraxus the Warrior has laid down the Commandments of Pugging. He only lists six, but they're enough to make the difference between a succesful run and another nightmare PuG..

  • Wulf's Warcraft Weblog has been dreaming of a Wolf Spirit Beast to tame. So they made one. Check out their concept art.

  • The Master's Call blog has a guide on Gearing For Raids for Newbies. They're just getting into raiding and sharing what they are learning in a series of posts.

  • Gnomeaggedon shares his views on Why WoW Is Like Bringing Up Kids. From crowd control to rolling restarts to bear form. Head on over and add your own suggestion.

  • Miss Elf is considering the pros and cons and introducing her mother-in-law to WoW. How would she react encountering her first ninja looter? The response is classic.

  • One Rogue's Journey continues their Friday Morning AddOn series, this time with a movie explaining ag_UnitFrames.

  • Big Hit Box, a blog focusing on posts for all melee DPS specs, has a new post up on macros for PVE Enhancement Shamans.

Submit a guide, post, podcast or resource for inclusion in TDQ, by using our tip line and we'll consider it for a future TDQ post.

WoW Article: Time is Money: Selling vs. Disenchanting

Kebina Trudough here, offering you the best gold making secrets they don't want you to know about! I was like you once, poor and homely, before I discovered my patented system. Now you too can fill your pockets with the good stuff without ever breaking a sweat! Why spend all your time toiling when you could be vacationing in the Hot Springs? I'm not offering these tips for 100 gold, or 90 gold, or even 50 gold! No, not even 20 gold! My system is yours for FREE! Satisfaction guaranteed or I'll give you a full refund (handling charges may apply).

Today we'll be discussing the benefits of disenchanting items, and weigh them against your other options, such as vendoring and auctioning.

For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume that you aren't using the materials to level, but rather, are interested in making the most gold possible.

Perhaps you have met the Enchanters who proclaim on every forum and in each comments section that Enchanting is the only way to go for making money from greens and quest rewards.

While Enchanting, or rather, Disenchanting, is an incredibly useful tool for making money, it is a myth that you will make more money by always disenchanting everything.

Magic Number 73
The lowest level greens from Northrend are level 67 to 72. The magic number is 73. For some reason, level 73 greens suddenly begin to grant more materials when disenchanted.

As a general rule, you will make more money disenchanting an item 73 and above and selling the materials.

Items on the lower end are trickier. The "good" items, such as weapons, and "heavy" items, should be vendored, while the "light" armor pieces like cloaks, bracers, belts and gloves, are better off disenchanted. Check out Time is Money: Selling your quest rewards for more information.

What you get
Items level 73-80 will grant you 3-5 Infinite Dust, or 1-2 Greater Cosmic Essences.

Items level 67-72 from Northrend will give you 1-2 Infinite Dust, or rarely, 1-2 Lesser Cosmic Essence.

For today's purposes, I'll be ignoring blues and Dream Shards, as the shards are also used as currency.

Quest rewards do not have level requirements. Instead, look at the item levels (this is different from the level required to equip the item). Anything level 154 and above is generally equivalent to level 73 and above, but going with quests that require you to be level 73 are is a safe bet.

This means that any quests from the starting areas reward you with items that are below level 73, Dragonblight is also low, and Grizzly Hills and other areas are mostly in the clear.

Armor and weapons are very different when it comes to disenchanting. Armor has a 75% chance of granting dust instead of essences, while weaponry has a 75% chance to grant the more expensive essences, rather than dust.

Knowing your prices
It is important that you start monitoring the Auction House, if you don't already. If you don't have fun doing it manually, then consider installing an addon such as Auctioneer to help you do it at a glance.

You will want to determine the usual price for Infinite Dust and Greater Cosmic Essences on your server. As an example, each dust might sell for 5g while each essence might sell for 18g.

It is also important to know how much every item would sell for to a vendor. There are lightweight addons to help you do this, if you don't like addons that use up a lot of memory, although if you run Auctioneer, you can configure it to do this for you as well.

The Math
Yes, there is math involved, if you would like to be specific, although I will also hand you a couple of rules to avoid the math if you choose. The quick and easy way is to assume that you'll get dust for armor and essences for weapons, and take it from there:

V = the price the item will sell for to a vendor.
M = the average price of the materials that you are likely to get.

M is more complicated than V. For the lower end items described above, M is the price of 1.5 Infinite Dust on your server, because that is the average that you can expect to get.

For the higher level items, you will want to set M to the price of 3 dust on your server or 1 Greater Cosmic Essence. You might even make an average of the two. If three dust sell for 15g and one essence sells for 18g, then set M to 16.5g (15 + 18 = 33. Then divide 33 by 2, because two is the number of things that you added up).

Where V > M, vendor the item, or try to sell it at auction for more than the value of M. Where M > V, disenchant it.

When you're looking at weapons, set M to the cost of one Greater Cosmic Essence for higher level weapons, and and one Lesser Cosmic Essence for weapons level 67-72.

For the more advanced version:

  • High level armor: 4 dusts (avg) x 3 + 1 cosmic, divide this all by 4.

  • High level weaponry: 3 cosmics + 1 dust, divided by 4.

Rules for the Mathematically Challenged

  1. Disenchant anything level 73 and up.

  2. Vendoring weapons will give you a reliable income. They will also grant reliable profit when disenchanted.

  3. Items below level 73 grant very few materials. Sell them at auction for the price of one Infinite Dust or more, or learn the rule about "heavy" items and how they relate to an item's value. Disenchant lightweight items, and sell the heavier ones.

Bob, the rules, and buying greens to disenchant
Good old Bob heads to the Auction House every morning to purchase greens to disenchant. Bob usually buys anything 10g and under that comes from Northrend, hoping that after all is said and done, the amount that he paid that day (C) will be less than the total value (T) of the materials he got from disenchanting the items.

T - C = P and P stands for Profit. Bob hopes this is a positive number, and the higher, the better.

Bob's success is based on chance, or dumb luck. Bob could increase his profits in the following ways:

  1. Do a search for armor, level 67-72, and buy everything 5g and under. Here, I am assuming that one Infinite Dust sells for 5g. If it sells differently on your server, use that number instead.

  2. Do a search for armor, level 73-80. Purchase everything under the cost of three Infinite Dust.

  3. Do a search for weapons, level 67-80, and buy everything under the cost of three Infinite Dust.

  4. Always use your addon to double check that anything in the 67-70 range actually comes from Northrend and not Outland. People lose a lot of money by finding out that half of what they bought gave them Arcane Dust! Tip: If you don't want to use an addon, read the Disenchanting requirements at the bottom on the tooltip by clicking on your disenchant button and mousing over the item. If it says "requires Enchanting 275" then it is an Outland green. Northrend items will require a higher level of Enchanting.

  5. This will sound obvious but I do know people who mess this up on a regular basis. Set the Rarity to Uncommon so that you don't accidentally buy whites and grays.

Outsmart other Bobs by selling your greens that vendor for less than the cost of one Infinite Dust on your server, for more 1.5 times the cost of one dust or more. You can disenchant them yourself, but you will sometimes get one dust, and sometimes two. By selling them to other Enchanters sweeping through the AH for more than the cost of 1.5 times the price of one dust, you are ensuring that you always beat the average profit that you'd make if you disenchanted them yourself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WoW Video: "Ninja-ing mount, sry"

We don't really know how or why you would make an intro movie for a raiding guild, but there you go. That's the intro for Goon of Kil'jaeden, who are apparently currently working on Sarth 3D. I like the music, although as a trailer, it doesn't really work that well. Exactly what is coming soon?

Looking for your fix of guild drama, downed and recruiting news for the week? It's right here in GW. If you've got a tip about any guild from around the realms, feel free to send it in to us at (we've got tons of tips coming in lately, so if you don't see your guild here this week, it'll probably be in next week). Click the link below to read on.


  • Ninja alert: Pudge on Hellscream was leading a successful raid the other day in OS when he "accidentally" gave the bag to a Paladin named Spinnaz instead of the player, Tott, who actually won the roll. We hear Tott rolled a 94 to win the loot, but Spinnaz rolled a "/roll 95-100," and after the loot got passed out to the wrong person, Pudge apologized and said he didn't realize it was a joke. A ticket was sent to the GMs as the raid broke up, but then Tott noticed something interesting: Spinnaz and Pudge were fighting in the same Arena together. "Accidental" mis-looting doesn't seem so likely after all.

  • Karmok, Alizey and Potgrum also ninja'ed all of the loot from a Sarth run, and apparently got kicked from Dark Chaos on Maelstrom for doing so. We also hear the guild folded, but kudos to the folks on Maelstrom for calling out idiocy -- apparently Alizey had an alt in Saint of Killers and he got /gkicked, too. That's cold!

  • Of course, there's usually no /gkicking involved if the ninja is a guildleader. Like Cãt of Outbot on the Alliance side of Maelstrom. "I just wanted it, so I took it." I have to say, I wouldn't be in a guild with that guy.

  • Larias of WoA on Illidan is reportedly on quite a power trip -- when he announced he was leaving the guild for another server, many of the people in the guild weren't quite keen on going with him (not to mention his looting of the guild bank to finance the new guild elsewhere). So two guildies apparently had a nice chat on Vent about it, saying to each other that they were bummed about leaving the server and that they didn't think it was very fair that Larias was ditching them and taking the loot with him. As fate would have it, he happened to be listening, and /gkicked both guildies for talking about him behind his back. Since then, he's kicked all of the guild's old members, leaving them with nothing. Sounds like you're better off without him, guys -- sucks he took all of the loot, but it's time to pay the money for another charter and start rebuilding without the jerk.

  • This isn't a ninja per se, but it is someone to keep an eye out for. Lungbutter, formerly of Under Construction on Kul Tiras apparently picked up Betrayer of Humanity from a guild run in Naxx 25 (as well as a guild-supplied enchant), and then ditched the guild and the server. He changed his name, and they don't know where he went, but they're asking everyone to keep an eye out for a dual-wielding female Undead Fury Warrior with Betrayer of Humanity and the Jawbone and Berserker enchanted on both. He'll probably be with his girlfriend, a female Blood Elf Holy Priest, and his girlfriend's brother, a female Tauren Elemental Shaman. So if a Fury Warrior fitting that description shows up trying to get into your guild, definitely ask which guild he left behind.

  • This one was apparently big this week: a Paladin decided he needed The Turning Tide to help with his tanking skills. Guys, I hate Paladins, and know almost nothing about them, and even I know that's not a Pally tanking sword. But the thread really gets good when a little Internet detecting gets done and we get Armory links of the raiders in question.

  • Azerothian Protectorate over on Zuluhed had about enough of the racial slurs and obnoxious behavior of the two idiots on their server, Masiah and Holyherbman, and have publicly called them out on the guild website (bewarned, there is some offensive and NSFW language in screenshots on that page). These guys don't seem like much more than your run of the mill Xbox Live idiots, but who knows -- maybe calling them out for other guilds to see will teach them a lesson. As our tipster says, if people are going to go to those lengths to show off that they're idiots, the least you can do is show everyone else for them.

  • I've been known to have a beer or two while I raid, but we hear that Hakkapolita of Guardians of Azeroth on Gnomeregan took it a little too far -- he showed up to a raid drunk and belligerent. When he messed up some of the raid strategy (he planted the Grobbulous clouds right in the middle of the raid), they tried their best to correct him, and he snapped back at them with insults. Eventually, the raid had wiped again and again thanks to this guy (racking up a 175g repair for the main tank), and when they finally called it, Hakka took the profanity off to guild chat. When he was asked once more to cut it out, he /gquit. What a mess. Coincidentally, the guild's message of the day happened to be "don't drink and DPS" -- too bad Hakka didn't get the message.

  • After careful consideration, we have concluded we have no idea what's really going on here (probably not what either of these guys are saying), but this is funny: apparently Ownsjo on Nazrethim got called out Hiiji of Savant for supposedly stealing a loot card code from a disabled kid who was wondering how to enter it into the game, and got suckered on the phone into giving it away. Unfortunately, we have no idea if that's true or not, or if the kid even exists or how you can convince a kid to give up his loot card code. But don't worry, it gets better. Apparently something happened, because Ownsjo shows up later on in another thread saying that he didn't do it -- he got hacked! How is that an explanation for his supposedly calling the kid up and taking the code from him that way? We have no idea, but remember, we didn't say it made sense. We just said it was funny.

  • Hey, a ninja from my old realm Thunderhorn! Brud lead a raid with Paranoid and a few PuGs, and then when the Grand Black War Mammoth dropped, he took it and said "ninjaing mount, sry." Sure, he apologized, but it was still a jerk thing to do.

  • Shadow Syndicate on Exodar had an interesting guild bank ninja recently. Their GM logged on one day and was unresponsive, then proceeded to take everything in the guild bank, all four tabs of it. They sent him tells, they asked him what was up, but he didn't answer at all. Turns out the GM had actually eBayed the character he was using to run the guild, and whoever sold him the character decided to turn back up and take it back. Lame, but then again -- if you bought a character on eBay (which you already shouldn't even bother doing) and were in charge of a big guild, would you use that character as the guildleader?

  • Finally, a bombshell: Vicarious on Area 52, one of the top guilds in the US, has apparently been bored in game while waiting for Ulduar. So bored, in fact, that their guildleader is reported to be selling large amounts of gold off to China for real-life money. And not only that, but he's apparently selling loot for RL money as well. There was an accusation on the forums, but it got deleted -- so it's been moved off of the official forums and onto the realm's unofficial forums. There's other accusations in there (favoritism towards certain guild members and a few other things), but wow. We have to echo the first question: Blizzard can track gold sellers. How did that much gold go around (600k is the figure quoted) without them noticing?


  • NEED A DISPENSER HERE of Darkspear-H has cleared all Wrath content except Sarth 3Dand will be taking serious runs at Ulduar once it drops. They are actively recruiting Warlocks, Priests (disc and shadow), Boomkin and Elemental shamans, but will consider all apps.

  • Horde Defense League on Zul'jin took down Malygos this week, completing all 10-man content. They're 9/15 in 25-man Naxxramas, but need more players! If you're interested in a casual, older raiding group, with no mandatory attendance, and a focus on camaraderie first, then give them a look.

  • Awakening on Uther dropped KaelThuzad in 10-man Naxx the other week, and joined up with Chaos Incarnate to finish off the Spider, Plague, and Military Quarters of 25-man Naxx. They've also finished off 10 and 25-man OS, and are still working on drakes. They're also recruiting: 1-2 Healers, 2-3 DPS (casters preferred). Contact an officer in game if interested to apply.

  • Beartron on Eonar cleared out Naxx 10 the other week, and also OS 10 (with three drakes, we assume) as well. They're seeking a few more healers and ranged DPS, including an elemental Shammy, for the 25-man team.

  • Silent Redemption on Feathermoon has downed Malygos 25. Grats!

  • Over the past several weeks, Knights of Ni on Dawnbringer have been rocking it. They cleared 10-man Malygos a few times, 25-man Naxx has been conquered, and they've taken out Sarth 1D so far. 25-man Malygos is on notice next, and Sarth 2 and 3D will go down soon after that.

  • The Schadenfreudian Slips (winner of this week's Best Guild name award -- someone asked why we didn't have it last week, and it was just because none of the names tickled me) of Hyjal have finally taken down Naxx 10. Malygos 10 is up next, and eventually they're planning to do some 25s together.

  • Burnination of Elune cleared Sarth 3D the other night -- they formed about five months before Wrath launched with the goal of downing Illidan, and they've done way more than that since, including completing all of the 25-man raid content in the game so far.

  • Dissonance of Alleria finally downed Sarth3D in the 10-man version the other night. Grats on the black drake!

  • dulcis quod decet on EU Zenedar-H had their first guild Naxx-10 run the other week, downing Arachnid and Plague in quick succession, getting past Patchwerk and eventually calling it on Grobbulus. They're a casual guild looking around for caster DPS and healers to round out the raiding team. If you join, please bring your sense of humour and a reasonable grasp of English.

  • The Empire on Eitrigg downed Naxx 25 the other week. This was their first attempt at Sapphirion and KT in Heroic. They send out big thanks to everyone that put in the effort, showed determination and got this done! Malygos is on notice, and they're currently recruiting Hunters, Shamans, DPS Priests and Warlocks.

  • ULrebels of Uther-A has finally cleared 25-man Naxx in only their second week attempting it. Not to mention that all bosses were one-shots except for Thaddius who took three. 10-man Malygos has also been finished off, and Sarth 1D got dropped using only one tank. Grats!

  • Reroll on Drakkari finally cleared out Sartharion 3D to get the realm first Vanquishers titles. They used a VW tank (which they probably won't be able to do again), and here's the real kicker: the guy who won the drake picked it up and then when asked to show it off, discovered he didn't actually have the epic riding skill. Whoops.

  • Gurubashi Gurus on Durotan cleared both Obsidian Sanctum and Naxx this week (we're guessing it was the 10-man versions). Malygos is on notice, and then it's onto achievement raiding.

  • TheCloakAndDagger of Drenden successfully cleared Naxx 10 the other night on their first run. Next up, they're headed to Malygos, and they want to send out special thanks to the folks from Fail.

  • Liquid Courage on Ysera cleared a guild first 10-man Sarth 1D, Malygos, and came within an ill-timed frost tomb from getting Undying. Sarth 2D is on notice.

  • Eternal Scars on the Turalyon has cleared VoA, OS and Spider Quarter of Naxx on 10-man. Plague is on notice.

  • The Murloc Noise on Rivendare got the Undying achievement on 10-man Naxx, with two new guildies being in there for the first time. Sarth 2D is on notice.

  • Enduring Vision of Tanaris took down Heroic Malygos to clear all endgame content to date. Next up is gearing up for 3.1.

  • Who Pulled on Aman'thul-H has now cleared Malygos... finally. Took 3 nights of attempts, we hear, with a couple of single digit wipes, but he's finally down. Sarth 1D is on notice, and they're headed up to 3D. They'll report back when they do that -- we're waiting with baited breath.

  • Seraph Templara on Daggerspine-H downed 25-man Sarth 1D and bumped their heads up against Malygos for the first time, but he'll have to go down next time.

  • The Schwartz of Alleria has downed Malygos 10 but unfortunately broke down after that: the guildleader apparently thought the raidleader was aparently trying to take over the guild (the real question is: was he?). Anyway, they're all in Nouvel Riché now and raid plans are still on schedule. Grats?

  • Cubik and Proud Crusaders of EU Hellscream banded together to clear Naxx 25 out completely. Very nice job.

  • Electric Sheep of Kargath Successfully did Sarth 3D 10-man for an Alliance first and realm second. Grats!

  • Knights Templar on Boulderfist downed 25-man Malygos. Sarth 3D is on notice, as that's the only thing left before the patch.

  • Heavens Plague of Spirestone downed Sarth 2D. They're going for all three next week, and everything else before the patch is dead already.

  • FYSK on Frostwolf downed Sarth 3D a little while ago. Grats!

  • Aint Afraid Of No Ghosts on Kil'jaeden has downed all content except Sarth 3D Heroic (which we assume is on notice) and are looking for Holy Priests and Pallies.

  • The raiding collective Adjective Noun Raiding (of Earthen Ring) has downed Sarth 3D. Grats!

  • Ruin (on Nessingwary) downed Heroic Sartharion with three drakes, which means they have now officially cleared all 25-man content until Ulduar is released!

  • The Vigil on Moon Guard cleared Naxx 10 on their fourth foray into the floating citadel, snagging the Safety Dance achievement as well. It was also their first time up against KT, who they one shotted to add some icing to their victory cake!

  • Reign on EU Quel'Thalas managed to get both the Dedicated Few and Undying done in one run the other week. Pretty impressive.

  • Shadow on Firetree has cleared all Wrath content with the downing of Sarth 3D. Ulduar is being put on notice early.

  • Knights of the Talon on Draka have downed Sarth 10 man with no drakes up in their first guild event. They even one-shotted him, too, and just for the heck of it, took out the 25-man version as well. They're also recruiting -- they're semi-casual and planning to raid 1-2 days a week while learning the endgame content.

  • Distortion of Caelestrasz took out Sarth 3D and then nabbed the Dedicated Few achievement in Naxx for good measure. They're heading to Ulduar next when it comes out. They're also recruiting -- please be experienced and ready.

  • Lucid on Dethecus-H downed Sartharion 2D. Sartharion 3D is on notice if they haven't completed it already.

  • Red Phoenix Crusaders on Twilight's Hammer cleared out Naxx 10, which is quite an achievement considering they only had six active members in the guild a few weeks ago. Congrats to everyone who went in on the raid and helped out.

  • Tre Lowen on EU Hellfire downed Sarth 3D Heroic the other night, and apparently there was even some drunken singing in their Vent channel. Can't say we really want to know, actually.


  • We Punt Gnomes is a new social / co-op guild on Korialstrasz inviting all classes and levels to join up and help progress through content. Please be mature and casual, ready to have fun while moving forward -- the game should be a game, not a second job. They have a tabard, bank slots, and as they get more members, a Vent server is on the way. Apply on the site if interested.

  • MINISTRY OF TRUTH is recruiting Horde players on Winterhoof. With a mix of seasoned veterans and brand-new players still learning the basics, they welcome any player, regardless of class or current level.

  • Not The Face, an Alliance guild on Aman'Thul, is recruiting all classes and specs to round out the 25man team. They've cleared all content save Heroic Eye of Eternity, and are currently farming Heroic Naxx. They're de'ing lots of good loot, so anyone who can commit to at least two days of raiding is welcome to come along.

  • Northrend Explorers of EU Quel'Thalas are recruiting. They have cleared all Naxx10 and Sarth +1 drake, and are looking for more people to start raiding Naxx 25 regularly. Almost every class and spec needed.

  • Echoes In Eternity on Dunemaul-A are looking to recruit easygoing casual players in the Australasia region or up late anywhere else. They're running Heroics now, and gearing up for raids soon.

  • Fueled by Ignorance on Baelgun-H is recruiting healers and DPS. They raid two days a week, Saturday and Sunday.

  • Scions of Proteus on EU Nagrand are desperately in need of tanks. A DKP system has caused some guild dropouts, and now they need tanks to farm the 10-man content and progress through the 25-man. So if you don't mind DKP, like friendly people, and are preferably over 16, hit them up.

  • E M F of Perenolde is on the lookout for quality players. Said players must be able to jump out of void zones, and always be prepared to move out of fire waves! It's true -- endgame raiding is mostly a game of not standing in stuff.

  • Two Percent on Uldaman-H is looking for some more healers and tanks who want to join their two Naxx and OS groups, with an eye towards Malygos. They are one of the oldest casual guilds on the server, so if you'd like a guild to hang out, quest, instance, and even raid with, but aren't expected to raid 4-5 days a week or forced into respecs, they may be the guild for you!

  • Inquisition on Kilrogg is recruiting all classes to help fill out their 25 man groups. They've downed all but KT in 10-man Naxx, Four Horsemen and Thaddius in Naxx 25, and are working on making Sartharion with one drake consistent. They are a fun, nice group of people, and are looking for people who fit in with a tight-knit group and are respectful and mature.

  • Dragon Knights on Area 52-A are recruiting any interested raiders to pursue 25 man content. Go say hi on the website if interested.

  • Italian Most Wanted is an Italian guild on EU Darkspear and have recently cleared Naxxramas 25 and OS with one drake up. They are a friendly guild but with an eye on progression and are looking for Italian Paladins, Shamans, and DKs.

  • Forgot to Wipe on Thunderlord-A is currently looking for DPS and Healers for Sarth 3D and in preparation for Ulduar! They recently transferred to Thunderlord and have all other content on farm, so they're really gunning for the achievement before 3.1.

Barrier may not be coming

I may prefer Shadow as my Priest's primary spec, but the Discipline tree has also made a special little place for itself in my heart. When I need a change of pace, playing Discipline is really enjoyable. I probably pay attention to changes to the Discipline tree almost as close as the Shadow tree for that reason. Even if I don't play it a lot, I love it. When they announced a new spell coming for the spec, Power Word: Barrier, I geeked out over it just as much as Matticus, our resident Discipline Fanatic.

Unfortunately, Power Word: Barrier has yet to make an appearance on the PTR, and it turns out that we may not see it at all. It's still a possibility, but that's the extent of it. I can sort of see why they would hold off on it, or even change their mind about it. Discipline has gone through a lot of changes in patch 3.1, most of it a really big numbers game. Discipline is a great tree, and while most players might not 'get' the damage mitigation/prevention thing, it's a really powerful mechanic and probably one they need to be careful with.

The combat effect of too much absorption is important to consider of course, but, I can see how it would even have a psychological effect on players. If a Discipline Priest's absorption became too powerful and it seemed like nobody was really taking damage, wouldn't things seem really, really easy? Even if the Discipline Priest was working their tails off? Malygos's Vortex is certainly not dangerous anymore once the raid has enough HP to live through it, but what if a Priest just popped Power Word: Barrier during it? You wouldn't take any damage at all.

There's something to be said about the psychological side of raiding, and I think that plays a role here. If someone sees they didn't take any damage, they're going to think things are too easy. If they're taking massive amounts of damage and someone is healing them through it, they'll be impressed. That was a lot of damage, and that Healer was on top of things! The Discipline Priest could do the same thing via absorption, but people wouldn't be as impressed. Their health bar wouldn't be bouncing wildly, they just wouldn't be getting hurt at all.

I certainly hope that we see the spell in patch 3.1, but I don't think I would be heart broken if we didn't. It would be nice to have an answer to the Holy Priest's Circle of Healing, but that in itself is a whole new can of worms. If we have Circle of Absorption, does that have a negative impact of Circle of Healing? We'll see how this all plays out eventually, I suppose

It's all in the planning

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

Playing WoW is an exercise in organization. You need to organize your bank, you bags, your gear, even your talents. You need to plan which dailies you need today, which factions you're grinding and where you need to farm for what. Oh, and don't forget to check your banker and update your auctions.

Legend of the Alliance from Eonar-EU has ridden methodical organization from scratch to the top of the PvE game. The two-year-old guild has climbed from a chatty, rag-tag gaggle of newbies to a lean raiding organization thanks to careful planning and guidance. We visited with GM Loverose about the guild's history, its custom web site functionality, and the mature, methodical leadership that has steered its course.

15 Minutes of Fame: We understand that Legend of the Alliance has its roots way back in n00bdom. How did the guild get started?
Loverose: Legend of the Alliance started two years ago. It consisted of random people who met in Redridge. None of us knew each other when we joined the guild. We evolved from a very small, unknown social guild with few members to one of the biggest social/raiding guilds of Eonar. At the first stages of our guild, most of us didn't even know about talent specs, raids, etc., but just leveled along.

When we all hit 60, the TBC expansion came out. We moved into levelling again and geared up in level 70 dungeons. After investing a lot of time in guild organization together, ... we made a successful transition into a social raiding guild around March 2007. As much as we wanted to enjoy our game, we also wanted to make progress and see endgame content. With the great efforts of the whole guild, we made one of the fastest progressions on our server, becoming one of the server's Top 20 guilds according to Bosskillers in a few months only.

WotLK transition took a bit more time. As all our players in our guild are 18+, have jobs, families with limited game time, we waited till everyone got considerable amount of time to level at their own speed before posting any raid content. None of this became an obstacle to move on as a guild together. Now, we farm Naxx-10 and -25 plus the one-boss raids. At our two-year guild anniversary (Feb. 15, 2009), we cleared EOE-25 as well, clearing WotLK content.

They tend to say that social raiding guilds tend to fall apart quicker or less progression or harder to manage, but I do think that Legend of the Alliance is a good example of how to maintain a WoW/real life balance and experience endgame content in a fun, enjoyable, relaxing way.

How would you characterize the guild today?
Legend of the Alliance is a social/raiding guild. Although our guildies come from several backgrounds and cultures, the main characteristics of our guildies are social and very helpful, and we enjoy our game by having a good time together. Raiding has always been our secondary objective.

All our members are above 18+. Average age of the guild is around 30. Some examples of the professions of our guildies: engineers, doctors, lawyers, workers, IT specialists, students, cooks, cameramen.

The common language used within our guild is English. This is also the common language on our server in general. Our guild consists of people across the whole of Europe, through three time zones, (mainly) the UK, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Croatia.

We see from your web site that you have an extensive guild member ranking system.
Raiding costs time, effort, preparation, organization and patience. Experienced raiders understand the frustration that accompanies numerous wipes while a team learns to work together on new content. That frustration can be caused or compounded when inexperienced, improperly equipped players end up in a raid that they are not suited for when other, more appropriate players could have come to the raid instead.

Therefore, we have introduced a ranking system in our guild in TBC which allows us to create a logical progression within the guild for the members that loosely corresponds to their skill and equipment level. This helps us all identify if a player is suited for Kara or if they could solo Sunwell. We have assigned class leaders to assess the person's performance, gear and raiding capabilities to give them a certain guild rank.

The current ranking is as follows:

  • Social member

  • Senior member

  • Naxxist (10-man content -- level 80; some level 80 heroic dungeon experience; show some gear improvements from WotLK quests, dungeons or crafted items; gear properly gemmed and enchanted)

  • Legend (25-man content -- the achievement The Fall of Naxxramas; Imba score of around 400; frost resistance set for Sapphiron)

  • VIP member (ex-officers of LotA)

  • Assistant officer (assistants of raid managers and class officers)

  • Class officer (first contact point for members, instructor for new members)

  • Raid manager (organizer of raids, leader or assigner of a raid leader, loot manager/loot master)

  • Vice presidents (bank management, technical management, guild management when GM is not around)

  • GM

What's a typical weekly guild schedule?
In WotLK, we usually plan three nights of 25-man raids: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. The rest of the nights are free for members to post 10-man content. We have strict time schedules for evening raids: 20:00-23:00 server time. These times were chosen by taking the three time zones of our raiders into account. The time planned is usually sufficient to finish some raid content but also not affect the real lives of guildies.

From time to time, we plan some TBC instances with players under level 80.

As most of us are people with families, friends and jobs, not all our members can afford to play seven days a week. As Legend of the Alliance, we never require people to attend or sign up for a minimum amount of raids, nor is it compulsory to attend raids.

We encourage the people to sign up for the raids if they are available and want to raid. If we don't have sufficient sign ups for certain raids, we either convert 25-man raids into 10-man groups or have an evening of other activities which will increase the social interactivity in the guild. We believe it is the social aspect which keeps a guild together in long-term, not only progression in raids. We usually have a very good atmosphere during raids, even at wipe nights. It's our common principle that we don't raid with pressure, we all have fun all together, and no one is told off if someone makes a mistake.

What is the guild working on right now?
Currently we have cleared the WotLK content and doing achievement runs, including Sartharion with drakes up.

Is there anything else you think has been instrumental in the guild's long-term success?
We have a very active guild website with excellent tools that are quite unique in comparison to many other guild websites, which was designed and coded by our officer Frankers.

According to Frankers:

  • Application system Our application form simplifies the process of recruiting by simply asking the name of the applicant and a few questions about why they want to join. After submission, the system generates an application form that includes Armory and Imba data, so that officers can get a one-stop, quick view of the applicant and their abilities.

  • Videos Our system automatically embeds videos from URLs pasted into posts using a system I wrote called AME. It's juicy stuff, really.

  • Roster There are a few roster systems out there, but none I particularly liked, so I wrote an AJAX-powered system that displays filtered results in a grid or card view. The roster is updated automatically from the Armory and Imba.

  • Alt control I struggled for a while to create a method for easily linking alts and mains together, and think I finally got it right in our new Toon Manager. The system automatically links alts and mains in throughout various areas of the site (i.e. in each post header, in post text and even the raid calendar).

  • Raid calendar We use GroupCalendar for our raid and event scheduling. Officers automatically sync up GroupCalendar and our raid calendar using a unique batch uploading system. My theory is that the less people have to do to keep the site updated, the better.

  • Wow to go We run a light version of the site for mobile devices, for busy officers on the go.

  • WoW Insider feeds We have a forum for Specific RSS feeds and mainly rely on feeds to fill the WoW news forum.

Your guild is so organized! What's ahead for the group?
We are looking forward to gear all our raiders to be ready for Ulduar once it comes out, run achievement runs and get 3-D Sarth down. WoW is the main and only game the guild plays.

Best of luck to LotA -- we're sure it will accomplish what it sets out to do!

WoW News:New Cooking recipes coming in patch 3.1

I was excited to hear the other day that leveling cooking will be a little easier, as more recipes are likely to go grey a little later, but Bornakk has more good news for cooks after patch 3.1. He confirms that new recipes are going in as well, and he can think of two off of the top of his head (so hopefully we'll see even more than that).

That will, as he says, make the Chef de Cuisine achievement that much easier as well -- it'll probably still be a pain, but at least there'll be a few more options to pick up new recipes. And I'm curious to see what the new food does, too: I like cooking the usual stat food as much as the next culinary expert, but I'm almost more interested in the fun stuff like Last Week's Mammoth (what a bummer) and the good old Delicious Chocolate Cake. Those cosmetic items make cooking much more fun than just the usual stat buffs that most food give.

So we'll keep an eye out for new recipes. Completists will have at least two more to grab with the new patch.

Spirit Beast pull toy available from BRK

Big Red Kitty may have just created the most ideal training tool for up-and-coming Hunters within an age range of "walking" to "why do you still play with toys?" If you've yearned for the elusive Spirit Beast from Sholazar, you can now own one yourself with this unique Spirit Beast pull toy. I have to admit, I didn't expect to ever see this. Now that I do, it's totally cool, and I wish I'd thought of it myself.

You can order one of the "SBPTs" to either include the wheels, or leave the wheels off. Of course, without the wheels, it's not much of a pull toy, but I don't think anyone will judge your choices. Wheel-less, the silhouette would probably look good mounted.

If you get the wheeled-and-ready-for-rolling version, the Spirit Beast is about 4 inches tall and 9 inches long. It's only about 40 bucks from his store. These are only available to be ordered through this upcoming weekend (March 14th). You should probably hurry if you want one.

While I don't foresee myself rocking one of these in my workplace, I have a certain nephew who should expect one for Christmas. I don't know if Mr. Kitty is signing these pieces, but maybe that can happen if I ask real nicely. For my nephew, you see. He's a fan.

The Daily Quest: Of Mage lore, Elemental builds and Player Housing speculation

The Daily Quest brings you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere. Today we bring you a lot of lists.