As I mentioned around a month ago, I have a new addition to the family who is demanding a great deal of my time and attention at the moment. This, combined with the fact my guild has been on a small summer break (students… exams… never a good combination) has made this blog rather devoid of content for the last couple of weeks. Summer raiding woes have kicked in for many guilds it seems and it feels like a lot of players are just kicking back and waiting for Cataclysm to go live.
I’m going to try and summarise what has been happening in WoW since my last blog, in regards to Cataclysm news, PTR testing and live updates.
AVR Will Be Broken in the Next Patch
I discussed this addon in a blog entry here and I made my views pretty clear on the subject. For me, one of the challenges of PvE raiding is the ability to react to the environmental events surrounding us. Part of learning new encounters is waiting for everyone in your raid group to learn what they are looking for and how to respond correctly to that trigger. The concept of drawing shapes into the game world was, for me, ludicrous and unacceptable.
Thankfully, Blizzard apparently agreed and announced here that as of patch 3.3.5 this addon should no longer work. They also stated that should the addon continue to work or should either the AVR developers or another mod arise that aims to perform the same function, they would take more drastic action to disable these kinds of mods.
AVR created quite a stir within the WoW community, partly due to the publicity it received from mmo-champion and partly due to how invasive and revolutionary it was. Most people seemed to be either firmly in favour of, or firmly against the idea of this addon. As such the news of it’s impending doom was met with equal controversy. I would never have supported anyone within my own guild choosing to use this addon and I’m personally glad, for the future of raiding in WoW, that it’s coming to and end. Perception and reaction are trainable and help improve your personal skill as a raider. For me, bettering myself as a player is always superior to looking for a quick fix that can encourage me to be lazy.
Ruby Sanctum Testing and Loot
Testing for the final raid content of the Wrath expansion is now well under way and we have preliminary loot tables. When Ruby Sanctum was first announced months ago (after it’s files were data mined from another PTR patch), it was confirmed that much like Obsidian Sanctum, we would be seeing some nice trinkets appear from this content. Sadly but predictably for the ten man guilds out there, these appear to be restricted to the twenty five man version of the instance, once again placing them off limits for any guilds abiding by the ten man strict policies outlined by guildox. (Though I also suspect that as Cataclysm grows closers, we’ll probably see more of these guilds sacrifice their rankings to allow their members the chance of obtaining some of those best in slot items that they have thus far been denied.)
The caster trinket can be seen above and is undoubtedly very, very nice though naturally, slightly inferior to the heroic version of the dislodged foreign object seen below.
Using the above trinkets together, however, will allow for new haste highs to be reached.
In addition to the new trinket, a new mail belt is also dropping from the twenty five man version of the encounter, boasting superior stats to the emblem of frost belt, the waistband of despair. A comparison of the two belts can be seen below.
The final offering from twenty five man Ruby Sanctum comes in the form of the following cloak.
For those of us bound by the strict ten man rules, the loot tables from Ruby Sanctum are much less exciting. There is the appearance of a caster hit belt, but it’s boasting crit rather than haste and is inferior to the emblem of frost belt mentioned above. For reference, it’s shown below.
Once again, there has been, in my opinion, a huge error made in regards to the loot tables. The same mistake seen in Trial of the Crusader with the reign trinkets is being made once again where no alternative is offered for the ten man guilds. At least Cataclysm will finally address the imbalance of loot tables and stop actively neglecting the players choosing to raid in smaller environments.
Remote Auction House Beta
A feature that was mentioned at Blizzcon 2009 has finally appeared in it’s beta incarnation. A remote auction house functionality has been added to both the armoury and to the armoury application available for the iphone. This application allows players to access the in game auction house without logging into WoW itself. For now, it’s limited to 25 transactions per day but once live, this will be increased (I believe it was to 200 but I can’t find the source of this for now.)
Once beta is completed, this functionality will fall into the category of a premium service and as such, will carry a $2.99 subscription fee per month. This shows a strong continuation of the micro transaction philosophy that Blizzard appear to be supporting as of late.
This is an interesting idea for me. As someone who spends a lot of time playing the auction house, it intrigues me undoubtedly. For many people, the economic side of WoW can be a reason to play all by itself. Will I be subscribing to this service? Yes, though as my primary market of interest is glyphs, the relatively small number of transactions will limit it’s use for me personally. (Glyphs, while lucrative, are very space intensive due to the sheer volume of glyphs you need to carry.)
Some features of the remote auction house will be enabled for all players, regardless of their choice to pay an additional fee. These are as follows:-
- Browse the auction house
- Get real-time notifications when your auctions sell or expire
- Get real-time notifications when you win auctions or when you are outbid
- View your characters’ current gold
- View the status of your auctions and search for similar auctions
- View the items you can sell in your bags, bank, and mailbox
- View the status of auctions you are bidding on
- View the items you’ve sold in the auction house
- View your expired auctions
- View the status of auctions you created
- View your successful auctions
The additional subscription only features are as follows:-
- Bid on auctions
- Buy out auctions
- Create auctions from items in your bags, bank, and mailbox
- Collect gold from successful auctions
- Collect gold from unsuccessful bids
- Collect all outstanding gold with a single click
- Cancel your auctions
- Relist items for sale from your expired auctions
I don’t imagine this service will be in beta for long, so it should be live relatively soon. (The thought of sneakily under cutting my competition while I’m out at lunch on a Saturday is vindictively enticing.)
Icecrown Citadel Buff Increased to 20%
Finally, in predictable news, the potency of the Icecrown Citadel Hellscream’s Warsong and Strength of Wrynn buffs has been increased to 20%. In addition, the number of attempts allocated to the final wing bosses has been increased to 50.
That just about covers the main news for the last couple of weeks. There are still screenshots of the new areas in Cataclysm being released on a daily basis and I’d urge anyone interested in checking those out to visit mmo-champion.com regularly. Cataclysm is still in it’s alpha stages of testing and still covered by a no disclosure policy so the amount of information coming forth has slowed to a trickle rather than the deluge we saw a month ago.
Personal apologies go out for the lack of updates on this blog recently. The puppy has been incredibly time demanding and coupled with my guild’s raiding break (and my own time being dedicated a great deal to the Starcraft II beta test), I have lacked the time to sit down and really write. I hope all my readers are still enjoying a steady rate of progress and that the summer raiding woes haven’t hit everyone too hard just yet!
What is set to be the final raid content patch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack; the Ruby Sanctum (patch 3.3.5) has just hit the PTRs. The source of these changes can be found here but I’ll run through what else we know about the raid instance.
- It’s located underneath Wyrmrest Temple in Dragonblight
- It features both 10 and 25 man variations and normal and heroic difficulties
- There is one “main boss” and three “sub-bosses” (in this cases lieutenants), much like the format for the Obsidian Sanctum
- The main boss is called Halion (The Twilight Destroyer)
- The lieutenants are Baltharus (The Warborn), Saviana Ragefire and General Zarithrian
- Each lieutenant will drop an Emblem of Frost
- Activation of the hard mode is unconfirmed, though it won’t be a +1, +2, +3 mechanism as utilised for Sartharian
- Some items will be on par with Lich King drops (think in the same way as Onyxia drops were on par with Trial of the Crusader
- While the patch is intended to provide additional raid content while we await the expansion. It’s also the start of the lore leading to Cataclysm
- A blue post confirmed that new trinkets will drop here, much like they did in Obsidian Sanctum
(Image courtesy of mmo-champion.com)
The above show the models for the boss and his lieutenants. These were data mined by mmo-champion months ago when some files first appeared on the PTRs.
In addition to the launch of Ruby Sanctum, there are also some interface changes going live along with the introduction of the Real ID system. The interface changes are improvements to the chat system and are as follows:-
Players can now right-click on any chat type (whisper, trade, general, party, raid, etc.) and choose the “Pop Out Chat” option. This will move that chat type to a separate tab in the chat frame which can be undocked and moved anywhere on the screen.
Using the “Pop Out Chat” option on a whisper will place the conversation with that player in a separate tab.
Any time a conversation with another player is put into its own tab, the tab will glow when a new message is received.
Hovering over the chat frame and using the mouse wheel will allow players to scroll through chat text.
Players can select “Classic Mode” under “Interface Options” to keep the chat frame functionality closer to what it was prior to patch 3.3.5.
The Simple Chat User Interface option has been removed.
A new icon has been added to the top left of the chat frame which will open up the friends list.
Personally, I believe these are great changes. Once again, Blizzard have taken features from commonly used addons to improve the default UI. There are a number of chat addons that have been adding exactly this type of functionalities for a long time. Being able to reduce the amount of addons we run with is always a good thing in regards to the performance of the game.
In addition to the above chat changes, Real ID will also launch with this patch.
- The friends list will now allow players to add battle.net accounts, otherwise known as Real IDs.
- Players will need to confirm that they are friends for this connection to be made (unlike the friends list in game)
- Real ID friends can communicate across different games, across factions and across realms
A new tab has been added to the UI where players can see all pending Real ID requests. Here you can decline, accept, report spam or block the other player entirely
A broadcast window features at the top of the frame. This allows you to broadcast a status to all Real ID friends. At present, these will be: available, away or busy. This status will be displayed under your Real ID contact information
- Real ID friends will be displayed by the player’s real name
- Real ID friends will be able to see all their friends characters both present and future. This eradicates the need to remember all your friends alt characters.
I know many players are meeting this particular change with scepticism due to privacy concerns. Real ID friends will be able to see your real name (and obviously, this discloses gender also.) Personally I love these changes. As someone who has friends on many servers and both factions, I welcome the chance to be able to chat to them without tabbing out to message them on MSN. Equally I won’t run the risk of missing an unannounced WoW raid because I’m playing SC2 or vice versa.
Finally, on the theme of Starcraft II, MMO-Champion created a small movie of the in game animations for the Thor vanity pet. This is the in game pet for the players who purchase the collectors edition of Starcraft II.
Image courtesy of mmo-champion.com)
You can see him in action here. I’m rather unsure what to think of this. I love the pet and I think his animation in game is great. Does he fit in with the lore of WoW? No, not really. However, as both a pet collector and a Starcraft II fan, I certainly couldn’t resist him.
Now onto a couple of points regarding the Cataclysm Alpha. In order to correct any confusion with my last update, I want to stress that the NDA is still very much in place on the alpha. The client was leaked onto torrents and can be run in a sandbox version. This doesn’t mean the NDA is lifted and discussing leaked information on the official forums will get you banned. There was some debate regarding some images released on MMO-Champion (and I featured them here) and specifically as to whether they could be the models for the goblin totems.
That is indeed what they are and in my opinion they look amazing! I sincerely hope Blizzard consider taking a look at the older totem models in light of this amazing goblin set otherwise I predict a lot of shaman’s out there with totem envy (myself included).
On a final note, we’re creeping to that time of year where attendance and play hours slumps massively. It’s already affecting my own guild as students have hit exam time. For those of us who still enjoy playing during the summer months but are frequently faced with drastically reduced raiding hours, completing some achievements can be an excellent way to pass time. I’m going to be releasing my own guide to the infamous feat of strength, Insane in the Membrane. Look out for that soon!
As most people are undoubtedly aware, Cataclysm friends and family testing started a few days ago. Normally this period of testing is covered by a very strict no disclosure policy. However for whatever reason, Blizzard have decided to ease the restrictions on this somewhat (exactly how much is probably only known by those in the testing). Considering Blizzard debated scrapping the friends and family testing phase entirely after it was held accountable for so many leaks in Wrath of the Lich King testing, this is arguably a sensible move. Whether this signifies a very short friends and family testing phase and a fast move to closed beta or not could be debated. For the masses, let’s hope so.
In addition the massive amount of Cataclysm information becoming available, there have been some significant announcements made regarding the future of battle.net.
The talent trees have been made available and can be seen here. It should be stressed that it’s still very early in the testing and there is a high chance that these will be changed before launch.
New Elemental Talents
Our new persistent AoE spell, earthquake. As previously thought, this is indeed channelled which makes sense to keep it consistent with most other class AoEs.
Another amazing change for the elemental shamans. Wrathful totems finally frees us of needing to use totem of wrath to boost party or raid spell power and allows us to use our arsenal of DPS totems. This buff scales with our own gear, exactly as the warlock’s demonic pact currently does. Our buff is no longer sub-par.
Previously un-reported, this talent gives the damage over time portion of flame shock a chance to reset our lava burst cooldown. Not only is this a great change in terms of DPS but hopefully, will make for slightly more dynamic game play as you’ll need to pay attention to this occurring rather than hammering out a relatively static rotation.
Another nice DPS increasing talent buffing our elemental overload spells.
There’s an absolute plethora of screenshots becoming available of the various areas and cities in their altered state. I’m not going to attempt to keep up with the speed at which they’re released but I will suggest interested parties spend some time browsing the front page of mmo-champion.com as the updates are coming thick and fast over there.
I will pick out the following though as it’s currently suspected to be the new totem graphics for the goblin race.
(Image courtesy of mmo-champion.com)
If so, I have to say that personally, I think it’s by far the best looking of any of the totem sets.
There have been two huge announcements regarding the future of battle.net. Firstly, when Starcraft 2 launches it will do so with facebook integration. Initially, this will allow the mass importation of contacts from facebook into your battle.net friends list. This should allow for individuals to find friends who are also playing very simply. I do have Starcraft 2 beta, so I’ll update this with more as soon as the feature is up and running there. We can assume that this will also apply to WoW in the future, most likely as part of Cataclysm’s launch.
Secondly, is the launch of battle.net real ID. This is boasting some amazing features such as:-
- Cross-Game Chat –
Whether your friends are playing Starcraft or WoW, you’ll be able to speak with them. In addition, their realm and faction within WoW will be irrelevant
- View All Characters –
Rather than needing to add every single alt of your friends (and then trying to keep track of who’s alt is who’s), adding someone as a real ID friend will automatically show all their characters both present and future
- Real Names for Friends –
Related to the above, real ID will use real names rather than in game character names or handles. This prevents you needing to remember which character belongs to who or exactly what the game nick of your friend playing SC2 actually is.
- Broadcasting –
You can broadcast status messages to all your real ID friends.
- Rich Presence –
You can see what your friends are actually upto, whether they’re raiding, playing a ranked SC2 match, PvPing or idling in a city.
This is a huge change in regards to opening up communication. For friends who have been separated in WoW by server or faction, real ID will allow them to chat in game again. Equally you can safely go and take a game of Starcraft 2 or play another character without missing an all important raid.
The Launch of Starcraft 2 and the WoW Vanity Pet
As was previously reported, the Starcraft 2 collectors edition will feature a new vanity pet for WoW players.
The official release date for Starcraft is now available as the 27th of July.
(Image courtesy of mmo-champion.com)
The availability of collector’s editions will be limited so those interested need to start sourcing their pre-orders now.