The Hottest Online Game

Monday, April 27, 2009

Throw your own egg hunt with Noblegarden Eggs

I've been looking at the Noblegarden items for awhile now, since they first showed up on the PTR. For some reason, it never hit me until I saw it on live realms how cool one item in particular actually is. For five chocolates you can buy your own Noblegarden Egg, which allows you to lay a Brightly Colored Egg. Yes, that's five eggs for one egg of your own, which is a pretty horrible exchange rate.

What's so cool about it? They're the exact same eggs you've been picking up that whole time, except that you can set them out. You can loot them right away for an added chance of whatever loot may be in them, but I'm not sure why you'd do that, except for possibly completing Dressed for the Occasion/Sunday's Finest. What makes it better is that other people can loot them.

What makes that so great? If you can get an organized crew (and their alts) together, you can set up your own Noblegarden Hunt for your guild or your friends and family. Laying an egg has a 1 hour cooldown, so each of you will only be able to set out one egg each, but with a sizable group that might not be too terrible. A brief hunt, but you can make it exciting! Feralas, perhaps? Icecrown? The interior of a cleared Ulduar? Just take it far, far away from busy cities or hubs. You don't want to lay an egg out in the Stormwind Trade District. Joe McMullet will loot that thing in a flash, and that's no good.

I don't know for sure how long the eggs stick around, but it seems a fairly long time. I managed to set one up in Darnassus and it was there for at least 45 minutes before a nude level 1 Druidess named Sxxybabby ground it to dust beneath her haphazardly-thrusting hips of feral fury. Hence my suggestion that you take your hunt away from major cities. Very far away.

I'll be honest here, though. The one hour cooldown on these is pretty lame and sort of limits the size of what you can coordinate. I'd love for Blizzard to hotfix the eggs to have no cooldown, or a much shorter cooldown. Being able to throw our own egg hunts (in an easier way than rotating alts to get 10 eggs down) would add a lot of extra flavor this this event, rather than it just being an egg (and achievement) grind for a day then forgotten forever. Drop the cooldown, and expand upon the concept for future holidays. This could be good stuff.

WoW Guide: Gearing your Mage for PvP

Of all the new stuff patch 3.1 brought us, perhaps this single most significant change was the addition of dual specs. Suddenly everybody and their second cousins can tank (or think they can tank), and every Druid/Paladin/Shaman has a resto/holy spec waiting in the wings. Everybody rolls on everything in every dungeon because they're "gearing up for their second spec"...or third spec...or whatever.

Mages don't have multiple roles to fill. We can't use our second talent spec slot for a tank or healer build. Our choices are and always have been DPS or DPS, just as God intended. And so, the advent of dual specs have instead opened up a different kind of door for a lot of Mages: PvP.

For the first time, we can keep our mana-efficient, DPS-maximized raiding build, and still have a second PvP-centric build on stand-by. A lot of Mages are taking advantage of this, and many are taking their first real steps into the strange and somewhat intimidating world of player-versus-player combat. For the Mage making that first foray into PvP, the culture shock can be very real, and the gear gap can seem insurmountable.

Fear not. Arcane Brilliance is here to tell you how to quickly and easily close that gap. Click the link below, and we'll have you mounting Warlock heads on your wall in no time.

Wrath of the Lich King has made PvP accessible like never before. Gear is easier to obtain, resilience isn't the absolute necessity it once was, and the options for fighting other players have never been so numerous and varied. In Burning Crusade, if you wanted to start getting PvP gear, you had two choices. You could start grinding honor in battlegrounds--a process that quickly became so repetitive and boring that a common practice was to simply plant your character in Alterac Valley and then go eat a sandwich or something while he soaked up honor--or you could try out Arena combat, which meant getting your face pounded mercilessly ten times a week until you'd gotten enough points to buy your first piece of gear, then repeating the process. In the old system, the die-hards got ever better gear, while the more casual PvPer fell further and further behind.

Thankfully, none of that is true anymore. Getting into PvP can still be daunting, but it isn't the exercise in humility it once was. Today, we'll cover the numerous ways to quickly and easily start building your Mage's PvP arsenal.

The Currency

There are several ways to purchase PvP gear, and in some cases, you can choose which way you want to buy certain items. There are even ways to exchange one form of PvP currency for another, so in a very real sense, you can gear up in whatever way you prefer. Hate Arena, but love Wintergrasp? There are ways to get a lot of what you want without having to do the things you don't like.

  • Honor

Everytime you kill another player, you get honor (except in Arenas). Battlegrounds net you a certain amount of bonus honor for winning (and losing), and there are numerous PvP quests that will grant large amounts of honor for completing certain PvP objectives. Honor is probably the fastest currency to amass, which is why you generally need copious amounts of it to purchase things.

  • Arena Points

To get this currency, you must fight in Arenas. You must compete in at least ten matches every week, and at the end of each week, you are awarded Arena points based on your team's rating. Season 6 changed the way this system works, and in my own humble opinion, did so in a very positive way.

Every new team now starts at a rating of zero, and each win gains you rating, usually in large amounts. As you approach the old midpoint of a 1500 rating, you'll start to see smaller gains for wins and larger point-loss for defeats. The upshot of this is that it is now far less of a blow to your self-esteem to start out in Arenas. Some of those you fight will be good, but others will suck just as hard as you do, and at first, at least, you'll see your rating steadily rise.

You use this currency in conjunction with honor to buy gear, and the better gear has a minimum Arena rating requirement to purchase. In other words, you can only suck for so long before you run out of things to spend your Arena points on.

  • Marks of Honor

These are awarded for participating in battlegrounds, and Wintergrasp. You get three for winning, and one for losing. The Wintergrasp marks, in particular, are used to purchase exclusive gear and items, many of which are very nice indeed. You can trade the marks from the other battlegrounds in for honor, or use them to buy mounts or lower level PvP gear.

The Gear

You can get PvP gear very quickly in Wrath, and with a minimum of grinding. There is quite a lot of it that requires no Arena rating whatsoever. Seriously, hop in and out of Wintergrasp a few times, do a few battlegrounds in-between, and you'll be able to buy a piece or two. The idea here is to start building up a little resilience, so that you can survive long enough to kill something.

This Tailoring set is easily craftable, made cheaply, and is pretty rock solid. Patch 3.1 even upped the ante by giving it a couple of nice set-bonuses. You can pick it up rather cheaply on the auction house, or simply gather the mats yourself and have your own set made. This was designed as an entry-level PvP option for players to don before ever having to set foot in an Arena or battleground, and it fills that role quite nicely.

    With the start of Arena season 6, this set no longer has a rating requirement. The easiest way to start obtaining the major pieces (chest, legs, gloves, head, shoulder) is to jump into Arena right away. Form yourself a team, get at least one other person to play with, and do your ten matches a week, or more if you develop a taste for it. Each week or two, you should be able to buy a new piece for a small amount of Arena points and a little bit of honor.

    If you absolutely hate Arena, you can also purchase these items (as well as their non-set counterparts) with straight honor, but the required amount is much larger.

    • Deadly Gladiator Non-set pieces

    These can now be purchased at the PvP vendor in Orgrimmar straight up for honor with no rating requirements. You can fill a lot of your slots with these (neck, waist, ring, wrist, feet, cloak, trinket) with just a little work in battlegrounds or Wintergrasp.

    • Wintergrasp items

    These are purchased with Wintergrasp marks, so to buy them, you'll need to start participating in Wintergrasp as often as possible. Patch 3.1 added a bunch more of these, and they provide nice alternatives to fill in gaps in your gear when you run out of honor/Arena points. They now include options for the following slots: head, belt, chest, boots, and a number of very nice new trinkets. So before you spend your hard-earned honor or Arena points on an item for any of those slots, check your Wintergrasp marks and see if you can't fill that slot another way.

    If you've been doing a lot of raiding, and have a lot of extra Emblems of Valor/Heroism, you can use them to purchase the lower-level PvP sets if you so choose. This can be a decent enough way to fill in gaps, especially if you want to gear up for PvP quickly and have the spare emblems lying around. The nice thing about all of these Gladiator's sets is that you can mix and match from them and still retain your set bonuses. One less thing to worry about, right?

    The Deadly set was top-tier in season 5, and still isn't shabby. You can obtain the various pieces at a lower Arena rating than the new Ulduar-comparable Furious set, so as your ratings rise, you may wish to invest in a piece or two of Deadly stuff to get by on in the meantime.

    The Furious set, on the other hand, is the new hotness added with Season 6, and it is sexy. If Arena is your cup of tea, then this set is your goal. Build up your rating, save up your honor and Arena points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    You can also use the new Emblems of Conquest from Ulduar to buy the items from this set, but I'm not sure why anybody'd want to do that. If you've been tooling around Ulduar so long already that you've got Emblems to spare, you should be able to kick the crap out of enough people in PvP to obtain this gear far easier by hitting the Arena.

    • Gladiator's Weapons

    Again, these all require high Arena ratings to obtain. They should be a goal for now, but expect getting them to take a while. Initially, you'll be perfectly fine bringing in a nice PvE weapon with some good PvP stats on it (stamina, spellpower, haste, crit, intellect, etc.). Just grab your favorite staff or spellblade and take the plunge.

    • Meta Gems/Enchants

    These can actually be purchased in Wintergrasp with Stone Keeper's Shards, which if you've been playing at all since the expansion hit, should be sitting around in large piles around your house, collecting dust and making your wife angry. The metas are quite nice, and generally geared toward PvP benefits, like run speed or stun resist, and the head/shoulder enchants are good for adding a bit of resilience and spellpower.

    In the history of WoW, I can safely say there has absolutely never been a better time to jump into PvP. My personal advice is this: Wintergrasp, Wintergrasp, Wintergrasp. Go as often as you can. Do all of the daily quests there as often as you can. Do the Battleground victory daily if you have time, unless it's Alterac Valley and you're in one of the many battlegroups where that battleground is impossible to win for your faction. I swear, I had that frigging daily in my log for a month straight before I got into a match where there was something resembling an equal number of Horde to Alliance and we actually won one. I hate that place now. I hate it so much.

    In addition, form a team and get your ten Arena matches in a week. Even if you're losing all ten, and you feel terrible about yourself afterwards, the points are worth it. For pure time-spent to gear obtained, Arena and Wintergrasp are the ways to go.

    You can also get a lot of the various Gladiator's gear as drops from the Wintergrasp raid bosses, so keep an eye out for people asking for more DPS for those raids. They're short, easy (well, the first one is), and if your faction has Wintergrasp, people are always looking for more. Nothing beats winning the roll on a piece of Furious gear you don't even have the rating requirement to otherwise purchase.

    If nothing else, you should consider hopping on the PvP bandwagon for the opportunity to kill more Warlocks. As the old saying goes: "every time a Warlock dies, and angel gets its wings." I'm not sure that's exactly how it goes, but that's how I'm teaching it to my children.

    WoW Guide: Noblegarden FAQ

    Noblegarden 2009 should be going live on the European realms in a few hours and then start popping up on realms elsewhere over the next day. Because so much of the holiday has changed and we've fielded a lot of questions from players about what's going on, we decided to write up a quick FAQ to the new (and vastly improved!) holiday.

    Help! Where do I go to get started?

    If you're Alliance, head to Azure Watch, Dolanaar, Goldshire, or Kharanos.

    If you're Horde, head to Bloodhoof Village, Brill, Falconwing Square, or Razor Hill.

    What am I supposed to do when I get there?

    There will be questgivers in all of these towns who will give you a new daily, The Great Egg Hunt, and A Tisket, a Tasket, a Noblegarden Basket. The former will reward you with an item that will come in handy for an achievement (more on this in a little bit), but for both you're going to want to get started hunting down eggs in and around these level-5 towns. Once you've finished these quests, in order to get Noblegarden achievements done, you're going to need to be a dedicated egg hunter for a little while.

    What do the Brightly Colored Eggs look like?

    See the egg in the article's picture above? They're all variations on these colors and patterns and not generally tough to spot.

    What do the eggs drop?

    Most of the time they'll drop Noblegarden Chocolate, which can be eaten at any level and provide a stamina/spirit buff. Sound unexciting? They can also be saved and used as currency for ingame items at Noblegarden vendors located in all of the aforementioned towns. Each egg also has a small chance to drop the items you can buy at these vendors (like a noncombat pet or Noblegarden clothing) -- and you'll need almost all of them to get the meta-achievement Noble Gardener completed.

    What are these vendors selling?

    Thanks to Lesley, we have a screenshot of the Noblegarden vendor offerings (which are all the same regardless of location):

    How many eggs do I need for Noblegarden achievements?

    It's actually Noblegarden Chocolates and not eggs per se that you have to keep track of. How many pieces you'll need will depend on how lucky you get with drops from the eggs. If you wind up getting a lot of item drops, you won't need to spend as much chocolate at the vendors, but if you don't get any, plan on setting aside at least 365 chocolates. They add up quickly, so this isn't as time-consuming as it sounds.

    Isn't this just going to be a nightmare of dozens of players trying to hunt down the few Noblegarden egg spawns?

    Nope. Blizzard has vastly increased the number of egg spawns, and has also promised that the number of spawns won't be affected by the number of players hunting for them (which we think means that one egg being looted will cause another to immediately spawn elsewhere).

    So older maps of Noblegarden egg spawns don't work?

    Nope. Toss 'em out.

    How important are the Noblegarden achievements?

    The achievement Noble Gardener (which rewards the title "(Name) the Noble") has been added to the meta-achievement What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been. In other words, you'll be needing Noblegarden for the Violet Proto-Drake, but the good news is that completion of this holiday's master achievement is relatively unaffected by luck. If you never get a noncombat pet, clothing, flowers, etc. out of the eggs, you can save the Noblegarden Chocolate drops and buy 'em at a vendor.

    Which items do I need to get in order to get the achievements done?

    For more detail on this, hit our special Noblegarden edition of the OverAchiever -- we'll walk you through how to get everything sorted. Long story short, though, you'll probably need one Noblegarden Egg, one Blossoming Branch, one Spring Flowers, one Spring Robe, the shirt and pants, and the noncombat pet. Again, if you don't find any of these as drops in eggs, plan on budgeting around 365 Chocolates.

    If you have any other questions, drop 'em in the comments and I'll see what I can do to get them answered tonight!

    WoW Guide: 2009 Noblegarden Season Guide

    It has been my first attempt at Noblegarden since seasonal events were introduced. It took a bit of a learning curve at the beginning, but I might say I have mastered it from knowing nothing of this event. Started yesterday in the evening, and I have completed most of the achievements already. Only two more to be done and claim my seasonal title. One step closer to that Violet Proto-Dragon Mount obtained by finishing all the achievements of each season event.

    You will find a commoner NPC sitting in any city giving you a quest to visit the Spring Gatherer NPC at a local town. The quest is titled: Spring Gatherers. Otherwise, you can find the Noblegarden NPCs at:

    HORDE: Brill (Tirisfal Glades), Razor HIll (Durotar), Bloodhoof Village (Mulgore) and Falconwing Square (Silvermoon)

    ALLIANCE: Goldshire (Elwynn Forest), Kharanos (Dun Morough), Dolanaar (Teldrassil) and Azure Watch (Azuremyst Isle).

    You will be given two quests: The Great Egg Hunt and A Tisket, A Taskest, a Noblegarden Basket.

    All you have to do is to find purple eggs hidden around the town. When you click egg items in your inventory, a random item will be looted, destroying the egg in the process. Most of what you will loot are chocolates. These are not just good to eat and to give you a buff. No. It is also your currency to buy items off the Noblegarden Merchant.

    These are the items available for purchase:

    My first choice after studying all the Noblegarden achievements was to go for the pet: Spring Rabbit. I have been collecting pets for the first time in a mad spree in the past 48 hours. Thus far I have 53 pets. So I chose to start by gathering 100 chocolates to buy the Noblegarden exclusive pet. What’s special about this pet? While you are walking away or riding away, the Spring Rabbit will randomly stand still and stay behind. Suddenly it will jump across high above the ground to catch up with you.

    Once that was out of the way, I gathered 50 chocolates to buy the Spring Flowers. It is necessary to complete the achievement: Shake Your Bunny-Maker. Use: Shake your Spring Flowers to place rabbit ears on yourself or someone else. (5 minutes Cooldown)

    So here you can see why I chose to do this achievement in particular first. It has a 5 minutes cooldown, and you need to find a female of each of the 10 races: Blood Elf, Human, Troll, Draaenei, Night Elf, Undead, Dwarf, Orc, Gnome and Tauren.

    This achievement will take you 50 minutes worth of Cooldowns—and that’s not considering the amount of time spent running around Dalaran in circles for some races in specific. Those players who don’t have a lot of time in the evenings to do this achievement—due to their jobs or school, might be in trouble. So I advice you to get your pet first and the Shake Your Bunny-Maker achievement next. Noblegarden ends on Saturday, May 2. Hurry up! There are only two quests during the Noblegarden seasonal world event, but none is consequential toward the Noble Gardener achievement. Let’s get started with the guide. You will find both quest NPCs at the door of an Inn at the otwns mentioned earlier: The Spring Gatherer and the Noblegarden Merchant.


    Note: This is a daily quest until Noblegarden season is over.


    Note: You will get an Egg Basket. It is not there on your character’s off-hand for looks. Drag the item icon on your keybinding slot. Each time you press 1 in your keyboard you will get a speed boost of 60% for 10 sec. It can give you an edge if you are the ninja-type. Don’t waste time looking outside the borders of your town. Stay within the small area. Eggs can be hidden inside bushes, in corners of buildings (outdoor). Some eggs can be found below furniture, inside boxes, water fountains, and below wagons. You won’t find eggs inside buildings. Once you finish gathering 10 eggs, return to the Noblegarden Merchant to turn in the quest. He will give you an Egg Basket that binds to you permanently.

    Note: Very straight forward. The first egg you gather will trigger this achievement.

    Note: Since you are gathering 100 eggs to purchase your Spring Rabbit and need to gather 100 chocolates for the Chocoholic achievement, you don’t need to worry too much. Eventually one of the eggs will grant you a White Tuxedo Dress and a Black Tuxedo Pants. Sometimes more than one of each.

    Note: Remember I suggested to buy the Spring Rabbit as your first thing to go after? This achievement needs you to already have a Spring Rabbit. Once you have it, summon it. Walk into other players who have a Spring Rabbit, or ask a guild member to come along with you. When both rabbits stand nearby, you will see red heart animations pop above their head, along with a sound effect. They will spring bunny babies. Go to each of the four towns requested and do the same to complete the achievement requirements.

    Note: As soon as you get a White Tuxedo Shirt and a Black Tuxedo Pants find a player wearing a pink Elegant Dress. Type /kiss. You will get this achievement completed. Dalaran, Orgrimmar or Ironforge are good places to find people wearing the Elegant Dress. Otherwise, ask your guild members to wear it for you.

    Note: The Spring Robes will drop for you randomly from Eggs. You can also buy it if it hasn’t dropped from an egg yet, but it costs 50 chocolates. Once it drops, go to the places mentioned in the list. All you need to do is to wear the Spring Robes. Take a flightmaster trip to those locations and click your robe to plant a flower. You get credit silently for each location you go and plant a flower.

    Horde: I suggest to go first to Badlands to plant your Spring Flower there. Then use the Hearthstone to return to Dalaran City in Northrend. Take the portal to Thunder Bluff. Take the flightpath to Desolace, then to Thousand Needles, Tanaris and Silithus.

    Alliance Players: I suggest to go first to Badlands to plant your Spring Flower there. Then use the Hearthstone to return to Dalaran City in Northrend. Go to the Violet Citadel and teleport to Caverns of Time. Plant your Spring Flower there. Ride to Gadgetzan in Tanaris and take the flightmaster to Silithus. Then to Thousand Needles, and to Desolace.

    Note: The Elegant Dress is a random drop from the eggs. If it doesn’t drop by the time you bought a Spring Rabbit and completed the Chocoholic achievement, you should start worrying. You can also buy it from the Noblegarden Merchant for 50 chocolates

    Note: First thing you should do is to buy Noblegarden Egg from the Noblegarden Merchant for 5 chocolates. Remember the reward from the first quest (The Great Egg Hunt) given by the Spring Gatherer? Ask a player or one of your guild members to help you complete this achievement. Ask him/her if he/she has a Blossoming Branch. It is very necessary to complete this achievement. Both of you must go to the Golakka Hot Springs in Un’goro Crater [31,52]. Once you are atop the geyser, ask your friend to zap you with the Blossoming Branch. It will transform you into a rabbit. Open your inventory bag and click the Noblegarden Egg (the one you purchased for 5 chocolates at the merchant). Place it on the hot spring water. Achievement completed.

    Note: After you have purchased your Spring Rabbit (100 chocolates), you should consider to buy a Spring Flowers for 50 chocolates. It will allow you to complete this achievement. Go to Dalaran (Wrath of the Lich King players) or to Orgrimmar (Horde) / Ironforge (Alliance). The Darkmoon Faire if you can’t find anywhere an opposite faction player. Now click the Spring Flowers while targeting a player. That person MUST-NOT have bunny ears already. If they do, and you click the flowers, you wasted it. The Spring Flowers has a 5 minutes cooldown. You can’t attempt another one until the cooldown is over. This achievement requires you to spend a minimum of 50 minutes due to the 9 cooldowns you have to wait for, and the time spent looking around Dalaran or other city for a race/female player required to complete this achievement.

    Note: Go to the Noblegarden Merchant and buy a Noblegarden Egg for 5 chocolates. Go to Silvermoon City (Horde) or Exodar (Alliance). Within the city, click the Noblegarden Egg item in your inventory bag and hover the mouse over a corner, bush or furniture/box. The achievement will be completed.

    Note: Upon completion of all the Noblegarden achievements you will get the Title: the Noble. If you complete all the seasonal world events throughout the year, you will be rewarded with a Violet Proto-drake Mount. Happy Noblegarden !

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    China: "WoW" Card Sales Slow

    Prepaid online game card distributors report that sales of game cards for Blizzard Entertainment's 3D MMORPG World of Warcraft (WoW) have recently declined, according to DoNews. Beijing-based distributor Junnet Omnimedia has seen WoW card sales fall 25% since April 15, and an unnamed distributor said almost all its competitors have stopped purchasing WoW cards, the report said. According to the unnamed source, distributors worry that the cards will not sell since Blizzard announced that the game's Chinese operator will change from The9 (Nasdaq:NCTY) to NetEase (Nasdaq:NTES). The9 has not confirmed rumors that said it would stop selling WoW prepaid cards on Wednesday, said the report.

    Blizzard and NetEase announced April 16 that a NetEase affiliate will license WoW for three years after the game's current licensing agreement expires on June 8.

    WoW Article: World of Warcraft-avoid addiction

    Video games can be a great thing. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of me and my dad playing "Super Mario Bros." on the original Nintendo for hours during the winter months. My brother and I still play "Super Smash Bros." on my N64 when we're both at home.

    However, video games also have a dark side, a seedy underbelly that can leave even the most jaded of gamers wasted and useless. A side of gaming that can trap people, awash in a sea of digital addiction. The sinister epidemic in question? "World of Warcraft."

    Game company Blizzard Entertainment premiered "World of Warcraft," or "WoW," in November 2004 with much celebration. Already rabidly loyal to the company, fans of Blizzard were excited to see how the "Warcraft" world was going to look up close and personal.

    The game, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or MMORPG, brought thousands of players together to share a game experience in the exact same world.

    Games like this existed before, such as "Everquest," but none had the backing of a beloved company like Blizzard. Neither did any others have such a rich history, courtesy of three prior games, to build upon with a new story.

    Not all would stay as idyllic as this though. As the game progressed and more people began playing, it began taking over their lives. People would forsake everything else, family, jobs, school, spouses, even their own children, just to keep playing the game.

    I had seen it happen to my own friends, and eventually, even I fell into the trap. I spent six to seven hours a day playing it, and I was on the low end of obsession. Stories abound the world over of people literally playing for so long they died of exhaustion.

    Well, I'm here to help. I managed to escape the time sink, and am quite well away from it today. If you have let "WoW," or any other game for that matter, take over your life, here are a few tips to help you

    regain control.

    1. Simply cancel your account. This may seem drastic, but sometimes it is the only way to keep from playing a game. If there isn't a game available, it doesn't matter how much it tempts you: you can't play it.

    2. Strictly limit your playtime. Set a timer when you begin, for whatever amount of time you wish to play for, and immediately stop when it goes off. You will train yourself to be able to quit at any time.

    3. Don't get involved in any long tasks in the game unless you are sure you have time to do them. If you have class in an hour, don't start trying to find a group in the game to do anything. Start getting ready to quit.

    These three things helped me immensely when I had to break my habit, and they should help anyone else as well who wishes to quit.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    First day for Champions in the Argent Tournament

    Well, if you have been working on the Argent Tournament dailies since Tuesday's release of patch 3.1 then you're set to become some of the first Champions today, earning your home city's achievement.

    After you finish off the five dailies today, you'll need to go through a couple more quests. The first is The Valiant's Challenge, where you have to go and challenge a rider via Squire Danny. After that you'll want to go and complete A Champion Rises to get an Argent Squire or Argent Gruntling pet (pictured above) and 10 Champion's Seals.

    Once you're done with that, the next step is to begin the dailies, which will allow you to begin stacking up on more Champion's Seals for things like Tabards, Pets, and Mounts. Of course the other thing you can do is repeat the The Valliant's Charge line of dailies to earn the right to represent other factions in the Tournament.

    The four daily quests which you can obtain Champion's Seals are listed below.

    • Threat From Above

    • Taking Battle To The Enemy

    • Battle Before The Citadel

    • Among the Champions

    Each of these quests, sans Threat From Above, is just like previous iterations of the quests you've done before, except beefed up. For instance, instead of killing 10 scourage you have to kill 15.
    You'll also be able to complete the Black Knight quest line and earn the most execellently named achievement It's Just A Flesh Wound.

    The other bonus today will be if you're exalted with your race's faction already. You'll automatically earn the Exalted Champion of BlahBlahBlah once you get Champion of BlahBlahBlah. I'm an Alliance Shaman, so I'll earn Champion of the Exodar and Exalted Champion of the Exodar today. And everyone will see me walking about with the title "Adam'sAwesomeShaman of the Exodar" before I get tired of it.

    WoW Article: Going to the Chapel

    Last week, we talked about some tips for setting up a roleplay event. These included a small series of steps that would help you formalize and execute an actual plan for such a gathering. Today, we're going to focus in on a specific kind of roleplay event -- the "roleplay wedding."

    Roleplay weddings come and go in popularity. Just now, it's been a long while since I've heard of one happening on my server. But around this time last year, it seemed that I couldn't take a quiet stroll in Darnassus without tripping across a pair of Night Elves getting handfasted.

    So, let's talk about that most sacred and beloved of roleplay subjects -- the wedding.

    The first thing to consider when you're planning your roleplay wedding isn't the proposal. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that if you're considering how to put on a wedding, you've already found the boy or girl of your character's dreams.

    Still, it's fair for the very first caveat to be "Know what you're up to." While this is not you, the player, getting married, you should still be aware that your characters are about to get joined at the hip. You probably want to make sure you're okay playing that level of emotion or intimacy with the other player.

    Many roleplay weddings come at the end of a long, complicated storyline. It's a sort of "end" for the characters, an event that happens after the many trials and tribulations they've encountered. Other roleplay weddings can be the very beginning of a new story for characters, starting a whole new chapter in the characters' lives.

    For whatever reason you may choose to have your characters tie the knot, many people enjoy the celebration of a roleplay wedding. It's a chance to get together with the community, and share some portions of your personal story.

    Let's get to the nitty gritty, though, and talk about something you should consider when planning this sucker.

    1. Invitations

    This may sound a little implausible, but you should consider doing something a little special to invite your guests to your roleplay event. You can include not only a short, well-crafted paragraph in your in-game mail, but maybe a small present to make the mail a little more unique.

    Maybe you want to a farm a particular gray drop item, like a roleplay hat. If you're feeling whimsical, you could even fish up a few fish. They mail just fine. Mailing gifts out to your guests will definitely imprint the event in their minds.

    Some folks use real life email to communicate when not logged into the game. If you go that route, any number of graphic possibilities exist. Take some screen shots of important locations - they're great for conveying a sense of in-game history. You could even send some favorite music samples, to help communicate the general theme of your wedding.

    2. Guest List

    I mostly bring up "guest list" for a single important reason. You have to decide whether you're going to invite members of the opposite faction. Not to bring up the eternal "Are we at war?" argument, it's undeniable that the Horde and Alliance don't often get along.

    If you plan on inviting members of the opposite faction, the location for your wedding might best be served being one of the "Sanctuary" cities. We'll talk about location in a moment, but it's important to know that whom you invite will definitely inform that location decision. Having your guests break out in PvP combat in the middle of your vows would not only be horrible and tragic for your characters, but you will also play hell trying to get the players back under control.

    A large roleplay wedding can quickly become unmanageable. Any raid leader will tell you that getting 25 WoW players to move in synch is an exercise in herding cats. Be careful to make sure that you don't invite so many people that you sacrifice the fun of your personal roleplay in favor of putting on a show for the masses.

    Ideally, you want to strike a balance so that there's enough people to truly feel like this is a big "event," but not so many that you lose any fun in the heat of keeping everything moving along.

    3. Location

    The old real estate adage for this situation is "location! location! location!" Hosting a roleplay wedding is no different.

    Certainly, the personality and histories of your characters will play a very large part in deciding where you might hold a roleplay wedding. However, a few practical matters should come into play as well. Do you want to hold your wedding in a building? There are nice amphitheaters throughout the Nagrand zone. The striking forests of Teldrassil can be a gorgeous place to celebrate both your characters' love, and the beauty of nature.

    You should be careful to find someplace relatively private. While I know a lot of people have had wedding success in even a busy city like Dalaran, many still prefer to avoid the random tells and interruptions you might get in public. It's not that you're trying to hide the event, exactly, as much as you're trying to make sure that it keeps moving smoothly.

    And definitely choose your location purposefully. You want to be sure you have an answer if someone asks "Why are you holding your wedding in Booty Bay?"

    4. Ceremony

    Contrary to what some new roleplayers may think, you don't necessarily have to roleplay the entire ceremony. You could pre-write your entire ceremony, and simply copy and paste the summary into chat.

    During your ceremony, you'll have dozens of people standing there, staring at your characters. If you don't summarize the vows, you want to make sure you have a good show for your guests. This is more a matter of showmanship than immersion. I'm a huge fan of escapist experiences, but I have to admit it can be a little easy to go stir-crazy if you're just watching the action.

    One of my favorite roleplay weddings from another game (DAoC) created a web site for their event. When the time came to exchange vows, the "groom" simply posted the URL to the site. The guests could simply Alt+Tab to check out the entire outline.

    Of course, there's something to be said for the emotional impact of the wedding procession. Everyone should be decked out in their finest clothing, and move through the crowd at a good, roleplay-walk pace. I think matching mounts for the entire bridal party looks especially snazzy, and that's fairly easy to do now in Wrath.

    5. The Party

    The party after your wedding can be as varied and unique as the wedding itself. If you're a gnome, you might put on a loud, raucous party. Dwarves and Trolls will both be certain to have vibrant, exciting spirits available for their guests to consume. It might be the humanist in me, but I can't help but think that both Nelfs and Belfs will probably put on an austere, reserved banquet to celebrate the nuptials.


    This is, admittedly, simply the tip of the iceberg. The wedding industry is a vast business in the real world, and that's just for humans. Imagine adding a half-dozen other races into the mix!

    Feel free to drop us some notes about your wedding experiences in game. I'd love to hear more about them, if you have can share those anecdotes.

    WoW Article: Mute of Terenas

    Season 5 is over. The dawning of Season 6 is peaking over the distant horizon, the bright traces of new challenges and adventures casting long shadows over the victors of Season 5. Reflecting over the first season of Wrath of the Lich King, one 2v2 composition has clearly dominated the ladder. The Death Knight / Paladin synergy had definite control of the season.

    For all the power of the composition itself, however, two identical teams have the same advantage to one another. The determining factors in a mirror match are a little bit of RNG luck, but mostly the skill and tactics of the competing teams. Since the top teams are all swimming in the same composition types, only their relative abilities determine who rises.

    And so we come to the last interview of season 5, by visiting with Mute of Terenas. While we're still waiting to see what the final ratings return for titles, Mute and his partner Unicornz have both executed wonderfully in Season 5. Check out what Mute has to say behind the cut.

    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?

    Mute: For this season, I'm only competing in 2v2 games. As a Holy Paladin, I have a Death Knight partner. We use different strategies against each different teams, but mostly we try to kill the other team's healer.

    At this point, our only problem is teams with hunters; it's difficult to heal through the damage the hunter's putting on my partner. It's also difficult for the Death Knight to attack our opponent's healer.

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

    Mute: We usually charge in as soon as the gate opens, and my partner throws a Death and Decay to find stealth players. But I usually just try to stay out of line of sight.

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

    Mute: The only mod I use is Gladius, just to see the other team's players. But until a few weeks ago, I wasn't even using Gladius and just playing default.

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

    Mute: Well, there are only so many combos in game, and after playing more than 300 arena games the odds are that you've faced them all. Although, each combo consists of different players with different game plays, therefore we start off as the usual plan, but might change it mid-way through the fight.

    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?

    Mute: Me and my partner live in different countries and we really can't make a schedule for weekdays to Arena. However, we both play this game for a couple of hours a day and we usually get to play at least 100 games a week.

    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?

    Muse: I don't think we had any problems in the 1500s until 1900s, but after that you need to be prepared for anything!

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

    Mute: We're always talking throughout the game, and if one of us did something that totally changes the game plan we call it out. For instance, even if we're trying to bring down the healer, sometimes the other player is going down first.

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

    Mute: Our combo has enough DPS and CC to bring down a player in a few seconds, but that's the whole point of these arenas, to be able to live through all of them.

    Still, if we can use them properly and at the best times we can have 2 minute wins.

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

    Mute: I used to play WarCraft TFT a while ago and back then I started to use the key binds the game itself had for each thing. So that basically made me realize how much easier a game can be! Right now almost everything I use in game has a bind.

    WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?

    Mute: Right now, we're just trying to see what are the fastest and easiest ways for our combo to beat other combos. But almost every day we learn new things and we try new thing, so it's pretty fun.

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

    Mute: Yeah, ever since this season came everyone was talking about how druids can't heal anymore and things like that.

    But the truth is,there are healing druids in high ratings so I don't think it's impossible.

    I played a Warlock prior to Wrath of the Lich King, and after the patch everyone said the same about locks and how "nerfed" they got. But even then it was pretty obvious that locks are still pretty awesome!

    WoW Guide: Handling Incoming AoE as Discipline

    The first week of Ulduar is almost done! For those in there, how far have you managed to go? I've found it to be a test and a challenge for not only myself, but for the crew I raid with. Thank goodness for dual spec as it's saved me both time and money for switching between different roles.

    I wanted to share a few tip I picked up in my experience so far as a raiding Discipline Priest.

    The mass shield technique

    I admit that it took me a while to break this habit. I knew that Power Word: Shield didn't have a cooldown anymore on the cast. Yes, Weakened Soul is still there. But having the 4 second limit dropped (Soul Warding) and being able to cast rapid fire shields on players around me?Heck, I got so trigger happy I even threw some on a Ghoul and Succubus just for fun in Warsong Gulch!

    That's just made pure awesome wyn.

    Especially in a fun AoE raid damage filled instance like Ulduar where my ability to massively heal groups is limited, I feel I can still contribute in some way.

    Let's apply it to a raid boss. For those of you that have managed to work your way up to Deconstructor, you'll know what I mean.

    Tymapnic Tantrum – 10% health lost per second for 12 seconds. That's a lot of raid damage being handed out.

    If I feel a Tantrum is about to hit the raid, I'll start shielding as many players as I can around me. It's a whole field of bubbles that can mitigate enough damage to allow healers to play catch up! Keep this technique in mind when you anticipate a number of players about to take hits. Granted, it's not wise or feasible to shield the entire raid. It's not logistical either since some players will be too far away from you.

    But if you're standing with a group of 5-8 players, it's a technique that should be considered.

    Are there consequences?

    Power Word: Shield costs 532 mana (for me as Dwarf). Shielding 5 targets will set me back ~2500 mana. When Rapture kicks in, I'm only getting back ~600 mana (assuming I have a mana pool of 25000). I don't advocate using this the whole time. You'll run out of mana trying to keep active shields up on everyone. Used sparingly and in anticipation of incoming damage, it will buy enough time for the rest of the healers in your group to pitch in.

    But let's not read too much into this! I'm not going to lie, I've felt the mana pinch too while healing. Stocking with Flask of Pure Mojo and other mana regen goodies have helped soften the blow.

    Other thoughts

    I did set up my dual spec when I had the opportunity. I did grab Holy as my 2nd spec for the time being. I'm starting to wonder if that was the right thing to do. In order to effectively play Holy, I have to completely rewire my gear. New enchants, gems, and different pieces of gear are going to be needed in order to play Holy at the level that Ulduar needs.

    Perhaps what I should've done was spec in a similar Disc like fashion with a different set of glyphs. Let's hope I figure something out soon before I lose my mind.

    Good luck and good fortune to players continuing to work their way through Ulduar (both via easy or hard mode)!

    WoW Guide: How to activate Ulduar's hard modes

    You may have heard that a number of guilds have cleared Ulduar to Yogg-Saron already, which to me is perfectly fine. I like to think that a lot of good, properly-coordinated guilds will kill Yoggy this week, and the Blues agree with me. Of course, this week's Yoggy kills were on the easiest possible difficulty, so world first or not, it doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of fame and fortune.

    This is the beauty of Ulduar -- if you want prestige (and the best gear), you have to earn it by flexing your raiding muscle and beating encounters on their respective hard modes. If you don't have the chops or the time for the highest difficulty content, then you can still beat the instance and see every encounter.

    But, of course, you want those 239-level items.

    So you should probably read after the jump and find out how to activate each boss' hard mode, yeah?

    Flame Leviathan: Speak to the Lore Keeper of Norgannon first and select his gossip option, then speak to Brann. Leave one to four large colored towers up to have Flame Leviathan's HP, damage, and abilities scale. Four towers up is the hardest mode.

    Ignis the Furnace Master: Ignis has no hard mode.

    Razorscale: Razorscale has no hard mode.

    XT-002 Deconstructor: When his heart becomes exposed, destroy it. This is a DPS race. When the heart is destroyed, XT-002 gains 50% more HP and does 30% more damage. Destroying the heart also heals him to 100%.

    Iron Council: This encounter scales depending on what order you kill the NPCs. The NPCs will gain new abilities and do more damage depending on who's left up with them. Leaving the dwarf up last is considered the easiest, followed by the vrykul for medium mode, and the giant being the last add is considered the hardest.

    Kologarn: Kologarn has no hard mode, though it's significantly harder anyway if you kill both of his arms.

    Auriaya: Auriaya has no hard mode, so far as I'm aware.

    Hodir: Hodir's hard mode is simply a DPS race. Kill him before three minutes are up to get both Rare Caches of Hodir; kill him before six minutes are up to get just one. He enrages at nine minutes.

    Thorim: Battling through the Arena and engaging Thorim within 3 minutes causes Sif not to despawn and assist Thorim in the fight. Sif cannot be targeted and will nuke the raid.

    Freya: Just like Sartharion -- leave her Keepers (up to three) up during the fight. She gains new abilities for each Keeper -- just like Sartharion.

    Mimiron: Have someone sneak behind him and hit the Big Red Button. Pressing it activates an 8-minute enrage timer and increases the health and damage done by the vehicles in the encounter by 25%.

    General Vezax: Don't use the Saronite Vapors to regain mana. If no member of your raid makes use of the Saronite Vapors, then after 8 Saronite Shards are dropped, the Saronite Animus will spawn. It's got 8 million health on heroic and applies a debuff to the raid that increases shadow damage taken by 10% every 2 seconds. Kill it and kill General Vezax for your hard mode reward.

    Yogg-Saron: During the fight, if you've defeated any of the Watchers (Hodir, Thorim, Freya, Mimiron) before engaging Yogg-Saron, then they'll assist you in the fight, but only if you've talked to them outside their hall before you engage Yoggy. Don't activate one to four Watchers for scaling loot. The meta achievement requires you leave one or fewer Watchers up.

    Algalon: Algalon has no hard mode -- he IS hard mode.

    WoW News: Gear changers for dual spec

    A few weeks ago, when it looked like Oufitter was dead and Blizzard's Equipment Manager was on the way, I did a rundown of some alternatives to Outfitter. Now patch 3.1 is here, dual spec is upon us, and the situation is reversed: Outfitter is still in action, and Equipment Manager is not (yet).

    As a gear switcher makes dual spec even easier, I thought it would be helpful to do a quick rundown of support for dual specs in the various gear switchers that are out there.

    • Outfitter fully supports dual specs, letting you select gear sets to automatically swap into when you activate your primary or secondary talents (see screenshot).

    • For ItemRack, you can set up a custom event to switch gear when you switch specs.

    • ClosetGnome can do it with the SwapSpecs plugin.

    • WardrobeAL doesn't seem to have particular support for dual spec.

    For users who don't already have a favorite gear switcher, I recommend Outfitter for dual-spec purposes; it's quite easy to use, and has dual-spec capabilities built in. Are there any other good options out there I'm missing?

    What's the best pun name you've ever seen?

    We've all seen some Alliance kiddie named "ikillhoarde" or a Warlock named "ifearyoudie." After all, what Horde wouldn't run for cover from a Hunter who's named after his very death? And woe is the person who actually thinks he can get away from a Warlock's fear. Phear the lock, baby.

    Add titles into the mix. "Doora the Explorer" is probably my favorite of all time. Every time I see someone named that I yell out "Swiper, No Swiping!" Of course insert the obligatory NSFW Kevin Smith reference here.

    Another favorite of mine that I've seen is "Highlander the Immortal."

    What's the best pun name that you've encountered in the game? Ever thought about renaming your character to make yourself pun-famous?

    WoW Article: Professions for Mages, the thrilling conclusion

    So how's everything? Did you make it through patch day unscathed? Did you log in, like me, and find that your Mage's face, forearms, and feet were gone, and there was a hole through his chest (pro tip: upgrade your video card drivers more than once every three years)? Are you running out of mana at an outrageous clip? Are your crit numbers from Molten Armor up or down? Did your guild manage to make it into Ulduar yet, and if so, did you manage to snag any phat loot? Did you dual spec your Mage so he can now both DPS and DPS? I went Frostfire/Firefrost, myself. When triple-specs hit, I'm taking a Frarcano-fire spec. Mark my words.

    All in all, I'd say 3.1 wasn't too bad. We have some new glyphs to play with, the Argent Tournament is good, clean fun, our mounts can swim, and we have a whole new batch of loot-pinatas to blow up. Our DPS seems to be down a bit, but we're still beating Warlocks, so I'm not going to mail any angry, expletive-laced letters to Blizzard just yet. I've written them--rest assured--but I'm not yet prepared to actually invest in stamps for them. Those things are like a buck apiece these days.

    So now we turn to the third and final installment in our guide to professions for Mages. If you missed them, the first two parts can be found here and here. This week we'll investigate the merits of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Engineering. As an added bonus, we'll take a quick peek at the three secondary professions and enumerate the reasons for investing in them. Yes, even though you can conjure Strudel from the very air around you with but a word and a snap of your fingers, you still need to learn how to cook


    For Mages, this profession is flat-out horrible for approximately 79.99 levels. Then it becomes completely fantastic.

    • Leveling

    Nope. This is not a profession you want your Mage to be anchored to while you level him. I'm not kidding, it's godawful. With a few very minor exceptions, Blacksmithing doesn't allow you to craft anything your Mage can even use. Seriously, there are like three Blacksmithing swords/daggers that have stats you even give a crap about. Everything else is mail or plate or a frigging shield or something. You can make skeleton keys, though. That's something.

    • End-game

    ...And now you can forget everything I just said, because at level 80, Blacksmithing is absolutely stellar. You can make yourself a very nice pre-Naxx dagger, but then again, you don't have to actually be a blacksmith to equip it. The real advantage to this profession at end-game is in a couple little spells that add an extra socket to your gloves and bracers. Only blacksmiths can benefit from these two extra sockets, so if you're looking for a reason to hit the forge, this would be it.

    A popular choice among min-maxers is to pair Blacksmithing with Jewelcrafting, allowing you the extra spellpower of the JC-only epic gems and the flexibility of the two bonus BS sockets. The bottom line here is that you can place an extra 38 spellpower's-worth of gems in those two sockets, and you have a lot more options as to which stats you gem for, due to the extra room. If/when the new epic gems get implemented, these extra two sockets become even more valuable.


    This is another profession that was obviously intended to be utilized by classes other than Mages. It's tough to recommend this profession, even at end-game. In fact, of all the crafting professions, this is probably the least useful to Mages.

    • Leveling

    As with Blacksmithing, there simply isn't much here for the leveling Mage. We can't wear leather, so a profession that creates that type of armor almost exclusively is a hard sell.

    • End-game

    The main bonus this profession has to offer is a bracer enchant. Fur Lining - Spellpower is admittedly quite nice, offering a whopping 67 spellpower, but it replaces Enchant Bracers - Superior Spellpower, meaning that the net gain is only 37 spellpower. Compared to other professions, Leatherworking just falls short. There simply isn't a good enough reason for a Mage to be a Leatherworker as the profession currently exists.


    From a standpoint of pure fun, Engineering shines. Unfortunately, until Blizzard adds in a talent that converts a percentage of your fun into crit rating or whatever, fun simply doesn't help us much. If you choose Engineering, you'll have access to toys and mounts and random conveniences that non-engineers will be jealous of, but non-engineers will have access to spellpower that will have you green with envy. If only you could attach a scope to a wand...

    • Leveling

    Engineering is and always has been a pretty useful choice for a Mage to level with. As you level, you'll have access to a number of items that will make your life significantly easier. Here are a few of the highlights:

    Goggles: These are awesome. As head-gear goes, these will often be the best options available at the level, rife with spellpower and intellect, and most importantly, made of cloth.

    Trinkets and random trinket-like items: These will allow you to do a bunch of things that Mages can't usually do, from rezzing people, to summoning a combat pet, to stealthing. Plus, hilarious and deadly side-effects!

    Explosives: You may not think that you need more ways to blow things up, but I'm here to tell you that you're wrong, my friend. Dead-wrong. I have two words for you. One is sheep and the other is explosive. In all seriousness, these actually help quite a bit as you level, providing a cheap and powerful AoE/stunning option.

    I really don't have enough room here to describe all of the fun stuff you can make with Engineering as you level. The mileage of these gadgets will vary with each player, but suffice it to say that though it's difficult to quantify this profession's value in pure stats, you will be hard pressed to find anything more fun to level with.

    • End-game

    Now, if you're weighing your professions from a purely min-maxing point of view, you may as well ignore Engineering. The numbers are just too hard to nail down. It offers a few assorted niceties, specifically:

    1. A glove haste enchant that is probably the best glove enchant out there for Mages, but not by a whole lot.

    2. A cloak enchant that is the only way to get spellpower on a cloak in the game currently. It's not much better than the traditional haste enchant, but certainly isn't worse.

    3. BoP epic goggles. For Mages, it's the hilariously named Visage Liquification Goggles. Prior to Heroic Naxx, these will be just about the best thing out there for your Mage to put on his/her head.

    4. Random assorted other junk.

    The advantages of being an Engineer at end-game are quite useful but incredibly difficult to measure. How do you assign a numerical value to the ability to make your own mailbox? Which is better: 18 spellpower or a giant freaking squirrel? I don't know!

    If you're looking to maximize your performance, you should probably pick something else. If you're more interested in creating a tiny robot and then selling him all your trash, pick Engineering. Did I mention the motorcycle? You get to ride around on a motorcycle!

    Secondary Professions

    I'm not going to say a whole lot here, except to assert that if you are ignoring any of these professions, as a Mage (or any other class, for that manner), you should reconsider. All of them are worth leveling. Even Fishing.

    First Aid

    We're Mages. We just don't have that many ways to get health back. in PvP, especially, the ability to slap a quick bandage on is often invaluable. Keep your First Aid maxed out, guys.


    Now, don't get me wrong. I love Strudel as much as the next Mage. It's free, available in massive quantities, tastes great, and is less filling. Still, eating it won't increase your spellpower at all. Sad, but true. If you cook your own food, on the other hand, you'll be able to do just that, or your hit rating, or your crit rating, or your haste rating, or your whatever else you might want to increase. Level Cooking, seriously. Quit mooching off your guildies.


    I know it's mind-numbingly boring. I know it takes a million years to max out. I know. But leveling this will help you level Cooking, and allow you multiple options for making some tasty spellpower food. Plus, the new Fishing dailies give fun loot, and you can fish up a turtle and then ride it about town. Bite the bullet, grab your pole, and go fish.

    So now that we've spent the last three weeks discussing professions at length, what better way to end than by condensing all of the relevant information into one handy table, rendering the previous five thousand or so words almost entirely moot?

    Let's break it down, taking into account only the bonuses each profession offers above what is normally available:

    Alchemy: +37 spellpower, and whatever you can squeeze out of your Crazy Alchemist's Potions.

    Blacksmithing: +38 spellpower, plus the flexibility of two extra prismatic sockets.

    Enchanting: +38 spellpower

    Engineering: 340 haste rating for 10 seconds once every minute on your gloves instead of the 28 spellpower you'd normally have there, plus 18 spellpower on your cloak instead of the normal 23 haste you'd otherwise have there, plus a bunch of situational extras from trinkets and such. Seriously, your guess is as good as mine.

    Inscription: +37 spellpower, plus you don't have to grind any rep with the Sons of Hodir.

    Jewelcrafting: +59 spellpower

    Leatherworking: +37 spellpower

    Tailoring: Lightweave Embroidery, which now translates to approximately +60 spellpower, assuming it replaces the 23 haste enchant and procs normally.

    Mining: 500 health

    Herbalism: 2,000 health over 5 seconds, three minute cooldown.

    Skinning: +25 crit rating

    So, after all of that, what should you choose? Beats me. Do what you want.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    WoW Article: Hosting your own roleplay event

    So, you're a roleplayer. You may be a deep immersionist, an escapist, or a light roleplayer. But, for whatever reason, you've decided now is your time to go that extra mile. You're not only enjoying what roleplay has to offer but you now want to gather up a group of roleplayers to interact all at once. And you don't just mean in the same Guild. You want to gather them in a single in-game location, at a single in-game time, and all play together. You want to host your own roleplay event.

    A lot of the best roleplay events happen spontaneously. The best roleplay event I've recently intended was entirely accidental. Three or four folks were squatting in front of the Eventide bank in Dalaran, chillin' on their riding bears while waiting for the next instance. I thought it was funny, and parked my own white riding bear next to them. And then someone else did. And someone else. Within a few moments, there was a horde of forty or so bears walking through Dalaran. Someone asked "WTF are you guys doing?" Thinking fast, the leader of the procession said "This is an in-character mourning parade, in honor of the fallen Alliance hero." I can't say the name of that hero for fear of spoilers, but I'm sure the readers of ATWAS get the idea. It was awesome, and spontaneous. But that's not usually how events happen.

    Usually, someone has to invest time, effort, and even money into formulating the idea, building the event and agenda, and then executing the whole shebang. And don't think that a successful roleplay event doesn't take a lot of time. You'll get out of your event what you put into it. So, let's take a moment this week and talk about what you can do to build your own successful roleplay event.

    1. Start with a theme. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you're going to gather up more than a handful of players, you probably want a reason for them to gather. It doesn't have to be an elaborate, complicated storyline, but you should have a nominal excuse for so many characters to get together.

    Some good examples of roleplay event themes include:

    • A birth, marriage or death. These are the same reasons people gather in real life, and there's no reason to think our characters wouldn't also get together for these events. The downside of a birth, marriage, or death related event is that most attendees should be related or associated to the "main character" in some way. This is going to be a relatively limited event, that way, and should mostly be used for Guild gatherings.

    • A coronation. Holy public affair! Perhaps the good Knight Dudeguy has finally killed Onyxia, and King Wrynn is rewarding him with an official lordship. A coronation is a good way to get new players into your roleplay circle, because you really only need a very light excuse to attend. Simply being a member of the Alliance or Horde is enough to attend such an event.

    • The Villain is dead! (Alternate: The Villain needs killin'!). Imagine that your roleplay event took place at the opening of Northrend. (If we can pretend that Kel'Thuzad doesn't come back from the dead and get ganked daily, we can probably pretend a group of characters are just getting sent to Northrend for the first time.) Imagine those characters gathering at the docks of Stormwind, ready to ride the boat in a heroic glory. That sounds like a great opportunity for character interaction and drama doesn't it? This event can be yours, complete with weeping children watching their parents ride off to war.

    The opportunities for roleplay events are endless. Your event doesn't even need to be this lofty. My Guild recently had a crafting bazarre, where we parked our butts in front of the Ironforge bank and barked our wares to one another and the Alliance at large. Storytelling circles are very common, especially if your group wants a long-running, intimate affair.

    And while the world's your oyster when it comes to creating an event theme, the important part is to make sure that a theme does exist. It makes roleplay much easier.

    2. Pick your date and time wisely. If the roleplaying community on your server tends to raid on Wednesday nights, plopping your event down in the middle of that won't net you huge attendance. For that matter, it's been my experience that roleplay events during "prime time" don't pull in a huge number of people.

    It's not that folks wouldn't want to attend. It's that after a long day at work or school, WoW players usually want something to show for their time. A little bit of rep, a shiny new epic, or maybe just a mount. And while roleplaying can be a full-time vocation for many roleplayers, if you want to pull in a big crowd -- aim for when people can attend en masse.

    Try early the evening, or an hour or two before you log off for the night. These "book end" timeframes often net big numbers because there's nothing else going on right then.

    The week or two before patches to be tough, for similar reasons. People are either trying to squeeze in those last, few objectives before the new raid hits -- or they're just not playing due to ennui. You want to schedule your event somewhere in the middle.

    3. Advertise, promote, and remind! This is probably the single most important part of getting people to show up to your event. Post on your official forums. If you're really shooting for the moon, aiming to get lots and lots of people to show up? Drop a note to online news sites like WoW Insider. If your event is well concieved and detailed, folks are usually happy to help you with a quick article.

    More often in the last few months, I've seen Guilds put out machinima trailers to drum up interest. While I wouldn't say that's mandatory, it's certainly seemed successful. Maybe a promotional poster will get the same job done for you, if you can link to it from your Guild's web site.

    The point here is to try to make people aware of your events. If I don't know about it, I can't attend. Right behind "promote" though, is "remind." Even up to the hour before your event, try to remind players that it's about to happen. Everyone's busy, nowadays, and if you don't make it easy for your roleplayers to make your event a priority, they'll simply forget about it.

    4. Have an agenda. Okay, so at this point, you have a theme for your event. You've planned it to take place early Sunday night. You've posted about it on your realm forums, and they event mentioned it on WoW Insider. But now's the tricky part.

    What are you actually going to do with all these people? "Stand around and talk in-character" is fine for a lot of people. Hell, I enjoy it myself. But you're only going to get so much mileage out of it.

    Dances, archery contests, and in-game hunts often work. This is where you have to get creative, though. You need to have something for all these people to do or see. Maybe a "Hero's Auction," where participants bid on lucky "bachelors" to run alts through dungeons. There's a lot of opportunity here, but you need to take time to make sure people have things to do. That's the secret to fun: doing something.

    5. Follow-up. If you've run one successful event, you might want to run another. Take the time after your event to contact attendees. See if they had a good time, and what they liked or didn't like. Use that information in crafting your next event.

    Different strokes for different folks. Maybe your roleplaying circle really likes storyline-based events. Maybe it wants more competition. When you follow up after an event, you'll get the opportunity to craft further, more specific events based on what you now know. Lastly, people will respond to the dedication and caring you're showing to your event. They spent time showing up for you, and will feel gratified that you took their presence seriously.

    Obviously, there's a lot more to be said about how to host an event. This is just a "high level" glance at five things I think are most important to getting started. What do you think is important to starting a roleplay event?

    WoW Article: Patch 3.1 and you

    With Patch 3.1 looming ever closer (there's a good bet it comes out this Tuesday or the next, but I won't promise to eat a hat it if it doesn't), it's time to examine just how the content will affect our favorite class. The patch is huge, with new features and a massive raid dungeon that should keep us all busy for at least a few months before everyone starts whining about having nothing to do. Except those freaks in Ensidia, maybe, who'll be paid to finish all the content in -- oh -- 27 minutes or something.

    For the rest of us, it'll be a brave new world and a time to relearn a few things. First off, we'll all be getting free respecs, which is good because the talent trees have changed considerably, particularly Protection and a bit of Retribution. Holy didn't get shaken up too much, but it did get a solid nerfing, so some Holy Paladins might want to ditch the tree for something else. Or not. Patch 3.1 will also introduce Dual Specs, which will allow players to have two different, toggleable talent trees for the special price of 1,000 Gold. So yeah, Holy Paladins can grumpily keep being Holy with the option to switch to another spec like a Transformer. I suppose the best way to go about this is to look at what's in store for Paladins per spec, so let's get right to it.

    Blizzard swung the nerf bat hard, and Holy unfortunately got whacked. This is in no small part due to the fact that Holy Paladins dominated Arenas in Season 5, with half a second Holy Lights healing for a gajillion points forcing everyone to rock back and forth in a fetal position sucking their thumbs. Healing Paladins will have to adjust to this change quite a bit, with some baseline talents adjusted, as well.

    One big baseline change is how Sacred Shield can now only affect one target at a time, which lowers its versatility but redirects the Paladin back to being single target specialists. With the rework to Infusion of Light (no longer reduces cast time of Holy Light but instead increases crit chance), Paladins lose out on the fast heals, but return to large nukes that crit like monsters. The higher crit will improve sustainability through Illumination, compensating for the hardly palpable loss of Spiritual Attunement, which will become a deep Protection talent. You may not feel its loss now, but with the promised raidwide pain in Ulduar, you just might. Raiding healers will simply return to their roots -- reawakening preemptive awareness instead of the reactive mindset instilled by fast-cast nukes. It'll be just like the old days, except we've got Beacon of Light.

    In PvP, things will be a little less fun. More crit on Holy Light isn't going to be of any use if you can't get to cast it. Enlightened Judgements no longer increase the range of the premiere PvP Judgement, so healers won't be able to engage right away or limit opponents' movement from afar. These nerfs along with buffs to other classes should help balance class (or spec) representation in Arenas, which started this whole nerfing nonsense in the first place.

    Holy glyphs
    The first big downer is that Glyph of Holy Light can no longer crit, which sucks but at least it won't be as embarrassing when a Discipline Priest posts the Overhealing Done. That said, this glyph is still our best healing glyph. So the first two Major Glyph slots are pretty much locked in with Glyph of Holy Light and Glyph of Seal of Light, but the third slot is now an interesting choice with a host of new glyphs in Patch 3.1. Seal of Wisdom might still be a contender, particularly in Ulduar, which Blizzard has specifically designed to challenge players' abilities to manage their mana.

    Glyph of Divinity is going to be an extremely tempting choice, especially coupled with the reworked minor glyph, the Glyph of Lay on Hands which lowers the cooldown of our OH $#!+ button by 5 minutes. With 2/2 Improved Lay on Hands, that's a potential reset (depending on your target) every 11 minutes. That's practically every boss encounter. The new Glyph of Beacon of Light saves considerable mana, as well. There's the option to shave a second off Holy Shock's cooldown, too, so that just might float some boats. Overall, there are pretty decent choices for raiding Holy Paladins.

    Tier 8
    While the new armor sets from Ulduar may look pretty good and are definite upgrades stats-wise from T7/7.5, the set bonuses aren't so hot. Let's take a look at the 2- and 4-piece bonuses:

    Your Holy Shock critical heals now also place a periodic healing effect on the target, healing for 15% of the Holy Shock's heal amount over 9 sec.
    At first glance it looks cool. Paladins always get excited with Heal over Time effects. But upon closer inspection, you'll realize how much junk it is. First of all, it only procs off a crit on Holy Shock -- yet another effect that 'encourages' healing Paladins to use Holy Shock and hope it crits. I don't understand why Blizzard insists on building things around Holy Shock crits. Second, the HoT itself is piddly. I mean, it's 15% of your Holy Shock crit. I'll let you do the math, but trust me when I use the word piddly. Note that the Glyph of Holy Shock doesn't do jack for crit, so repeat after me: piddly.

    Your Sacred Shield can now trigger its effect every 4 sec instead of every 6.
    This was thankfully changed from the old bonus which increased Sacred Shield's effect by 10%. We're not even going to go there. This bonus, on the other hand, is pretty cool. Considering we won't be throwing out half-a-second Holy Lights anymore, the mitigation provided by Sacred Shield becomes doubly valuable. The idea is to maintain a 100% uptime for Sacred Shield, and having it proc every 4 seconds gives us a lot more breathing room. Going for the 4-piece bonus negates the 2-piece bonus of Tier 7, which increases Holy Shock crit by 10% which actually helps the 2-piece Tier 8 bonus. Funny how that works out.

    The skinny
    Overall, Holy doesn't actually get hit that hard in PvE. It just requires a different attitude. Without the benefit of fast heals, Paladin healers will need to return to their precognitive state and throw big nuke heals ahead of time... usually on the Main Tank who's likely to get beaten down hard. The good news is that we still have access to some burst healing courtesy of Holy Shock and proc-reliant instant Flash of Lights. Just remember to keep Sacred Shield up, and things should be rosy.

    In PvP, however, Holy Paladins will get taken down a proper notch, literally losing a step as casting Holy Lights will actually need a bit of juking once again. Dispellable Divine Plea also means opponents will actually manage to burn down Holy Paladin mana more efficiently (read: they actually can now). The reworked Aura Mastery brings a cooldown skill into the mix, making it more interesting. Holy Paladins will still be a force to be reckoned with in Arenas, as long as they're played right.

    WoW Article: How to decide who's getting Val'anyr

    With Ulduar due to hit in the near future, Tales of a Priest addressed a pretty timely subject for 25-man raiders yesterday with a blog post on Val'anyr and how you're going to assign it. As it's a constructed Legendary like Atiesh rather than being a dropped item like the Warglaives and Thori'dal (sudden thought: why do the caster Legendaries have to be assembled, whereas the melee/ranged Legendaries just drop?), you're going to have to put some time and thought into which one of your healers is going to get this baby first.

    It's not exactly the world's most comfortable question for a guild leader, but I like how Derevka lays the issue out so matter-of-factly, and then goes on to address an interesting point concerning Val'anyr's proc. Your ideal candidate is a good healer with great attendance who plans on hanging around for a while, but then there's the question -- which class gets the most use out of the proc?

    Between Derevka's commentary and a few notes from the Wowhead thread, it does seem as if Paladins and Discipline Priests are the classes/specs most suited to Val'anyr's shield proc. This is somewhat disappointing for me as a Druid, but then, nothing about the mace is set in stone until 3.1 actually goes live. How is your guild deciding how to assign this much sought-after piece?

    WoW Guide: Leveling gear

    Jason writes in about WoW leveling gear for the playtime-challenged:


    As a casual WoW player, I find myself completely overwhelmed when it comes to getting gear for my Paladin. I keep hearing about greens, blues, certain equipment can get you laughed out of guilds. I'm level 55 and have never gone on a raid, and honestly never intend to. How can the average casual gamer know what equipment to pursue, though? Logically, the best stuff would come from the end-game content, but since most casual gamers don't head in that direction, it can be very intimidating to figure out what "good" gear really is.

    Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.


    - Jason

    There really is a huge difference between gear required for leveling and gear required for raiding, heroic instances or hardcore PvP. You absolutely do not have to be a gear expert until you want to participate in endgame instances, so don't get too stressed out about it. Following is a guide for collecting the best gear while casually leveling your character -- or as in my case, characters.


    First of all, don't sweat the purples. They are nice to have, but not worth the hit to your pocket. And if you get a world drop, it is almost always better to make a fortune at the Auction House (when possible), than to actually wear the item and replace it a few levels later. This is particularly the case for practically useless items like the ubiquitous Icemail Jerkin. I think I've had 5 of these drop for me, usually in Feralas, and the best thing you can do with it is to hope for a purple-crazy sucker on the AH. Basically greens are fine for leveling and try to pick up blues from quests and instances when possible, otherwise they are not worth the extra cost.


    When deciding what quests to do, definitely check out the quest rewards to see what the rewards are. Quests offer some decent leveling greens and blues. If you are Horde between level 10 and 20, the Ghostlands quests and the accompanying Tranquillien rep will outfit you nicely. If you are 58 to 70, the Outlands quest rewards and drops are huge upgrades over the old world gear and you probably won't have to spend any money on gear at the AH during this time.


    Instances are great for gear, gold and experience. But the instances you encounter while leveling can be frustrating timesucks with the wrong group. And we just don't have the time to waste. If you have competent guildies/friends with characters near your level and similar schedules, you have hit the jackpot. Otherwise, your best bet if you want the instance goodies is to get someone to run you through them. Personally, I think it's dullsville to be run through instances, but The Spousal Unit and I have had some fun taking turns running each other's alts through dungeons for gear.


    Professions are a great way to outfit your character while leveling. If you keep your professions at or above your level, you will always have goodies to wear or improve what you are wearing. (If you are a mage, see the Arcane Brilliance series on professions.) Also, pay attention to the professions your guildies are grinding. They are usually more than happy to provide you with free crafted gear rather than vending all of their products.

    The Auction House

    Every 10 levels or so, take inventory of your slots and see what items are pushing obsolescence. Some blues can be worn for 20 levels, but most greens should be replaced after no more than 10 levels. Then go to the AH with a slot list and shop for greens that are improvements and are at or a level above you. Again, don't waste money on Bind on Equip blues and purples. Your cash is better spent on crafting and mounts.

    The Armory

    If you want to spend some time and effort micromanaging your gear (which can be fun), then hop over to the WoW Armory and find your character. Mousing over each equipment slot will show you the full stats of the item you are currently wearing along with where you got it. For example, I'm wearing the Robes of Arugal on my priest, which I got from Archmage Arugal in Shadowfang Keep and has a medium drop rate. If you mouseover the arrow on the outside of the slot, you get a button to push that will check for upgrades. If you don't like the level range of what you are seeing, you can click on Show Item Filters and adjust the search to suit your needs. From here you can make a shopping list with which you can plan your questing and/or shopping.

    Of course, each class has different stat requirements, but they also have different dependencies on their gear quality. For example, I have found it much more important to keep the gear current while leveling my rogue as opposed to leveling my mage. While my advice above is great in general, you should also try to keep up with what stats are best for your specific class and spec. Keep reading your weekly class columns here on WoW Insider and monitor the The Daily Quest for articles on other blogs that will help you make your gear decisions. Using break times to keep up on the latest will save you time and money during your playsessions.

    Have fun shopping for gear and enjoy your second Chocolate Day of the year! (There are four. Some may celebrate today as Easter.)