Surprise! Expansion releasing mid-November!

Good morning, sunshine!

You know how, when you went to bed last night, you figured it was going to be a slow news day?


In a move my more cynical and bitter readers will no doubt attribute to a sneaky ploy by Blizzards marketing team to cut Warhammer off at the knees, Blizzard has apparently set a hard release date for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to be November 13th, 2008.

Hey, I was figuring that was when we were going to see it, I think I even went so far as to say so on a WoW Insider podcast months ago…

I just didn’t expect to see that in the news at WoW Insider first thing this morning.

After all, Blizzard is famous for the “We ship it when it’s done, and we ain’t saying when that will be until we are SURE” philosophy, and I for one love them for that.

But if they are going to buy ad space at WoWhead trumpeting it, I figure they must have some firm plans in place… either that, or their marketing team is still high from snorting lithium after the massive success of the “Recruit a Friend/Multibox a Zhevra” program.

So, eight and a half weeks from now. Two months. PLENTY of time for more adjusting of Talents.

Yes, I counted. Two months. Plenty of time.

How do these Beta invites affect your expansion preparations?

Newsflash of the utterly obvious; there have been a LOT of Beta invites going out the last week.

Word is, there has been such a deluge of new Beta players on the three Beta realms (2 PvE realms, one PvP realm) that, at least in the starter zones, things are virtually unplayable from lag.

As the old quote goes, “Cry me a river, liberal.”

Sorry, movie quotes make up 56%* of my vocabulary. If you take them away from me, I would no longer be able to string together these word-type thingies into what I like to call complete sentences, but what my old english teacher might have better called “A brutal violation of the rules of English, and a crime against the very concept of language itself.”


Yes, there are many, many, MANY people playing in the Beta right now.

Chances are good that many of you, however, are not amongst that number.

Let me speak, for a moment, to those of you not in the Beta.

Right now, there is a large group of people that are acquiring that most sacred and valuable of things, from which all other power is derived; knowledge.

They are finding out where to go. They are discovering who the quest givers are. They are finding out where the mobs are to complete those quests. And they are exploring the land, mapping it out, and getting a solid feel for where flight paths, vendors, Inns, mailboxes, and quest hubs are all located.

When the expansion is released, there will be a very large group of people that have already done it all once, and they are going to make a mad, crazed sprint for the front lines to get a jump on everyone else in the race to 80.

Even better for them, they are learning lessons right now, in the Beta, that are helping them to prepare their live characters for what to do.

Like clearing out their quest logs of old filler, so they are clean for the new quests in Northrend.

Or clearing out bank space and bag space of old world things that they will not want cluttering up room, like tons of Netherweave Cloth or Adamantite Ore.

When BC was released, remember all the Enchanting mats that were suddenly worthless on the AH? The other formerly end game mats for crafting that tanked?

The market found a new balance for those old world mats, based on the age of the BC expansion, and altitis as people finished their first level 70s and began making new alts and powerleveling new tradeskills. But it took a long time to happen before the value of those mats rose again.

After about 4 months, most folks that hit 70 already made alts, took their massive reserves of money, and bought mats to level powerskills right off the AH instead of farming themselves. You have had time to become used to the going rates for Thorium Ore, Heavy Knothide Leather, Felweed and Void Crystals.

Kiss that market goodbye. The stuff that is your current end game material will be tomorrow’s vendor trash.

And the people in the Beta know this now, and are clearing their bags of hoarded goodies right now while there might still be decent demand.

And that’s just the financial part of what is to come.

So you have some decisions to make.

Do you want to be on the leading edge of the leveling to 80 wave or not?  

If so, and you are not in the Beta, you need to be looking for maps of the area, and trying to mentally chart where you will go first, and figure out in advance where flight paths and quest hubs are, and profession trainers, and know in advance how you will repsec and where to train class skills (Hint: See old world class trainers. Still.).

If you want to be in the front of the pack, you will need to work harder to develop that knowledge.

But it can certainly be done. And if you do it, you can take pride in not having gained an advantage through the Beta… no matter how much of your research depended on the efforts of those Beta testers to help you out by sharing their experiences.

But there is a flip side to this.

As the mad dash floods the harbor of Stormwind, ready to catch that boat to Northrend, there might be another option for you.

For most of us, that moment when we finally nailed 70 was the moment we stopped really completing quests, and started working on Professions, doing 5 man instances, raiding, and working on leveling alts.

I know there are those folks that did every quest at 70 for the money to get an Epic Flying Mount, but for most of us, the option remains to stay in the Outlands, and hit up those quest givers in Shadowmoon Valley and Netherstorm.

Even if you did clear every single possible Outland quest on your main, you probably have at least one level 70 alt that could do those quests for, say… a week. Right? Quests that will suddenly be giving you XP all over again.

So you have to decide… do you compete with other folks, who will know where to go and will be flooding the new zone, causing lag, server instability, and a crushing competition for mob spawns…

Or do you take a week/weekend off from Northrend, let the rest of the players get a weeks head start on you and level past the starting zones, while you continue to gain XP in Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley on known mobs and locations, in places where your epic flight mount still works?

It’s a tough call. No, I’m not kidding. It really is.

The desire to see new things and experience new challenges burns strong in us adventurers…

And you know most of your friends will be rushing forward, and trumpeting in guild chat every drop and quest reward that is an upgrade, making you feel left out, no matter how much fun you’re having.

But it’s a serious question… if you go into Northrend on opening week, and you weren’t here when Burning Crusade was released, you have NO IDEA how swamped that first zone will be, and just how… heck, theres no other way to put it, how downright nasty so many other players truly show themselves to be.

That first week in Hellfire Peninsula was an eye opener for me, I’ll tell you that.

The most obvious ones were the soloers and small group or guild players that you never saw before, the ones that are strangers to everyone. People who either have no guild tag, or have guild names you just can’t remmeber ever having seen before in the entire time you’ve been playing.

They came pouring out of the woodwork as massive ganking kill-stealing large group chain-pulling mob-slaying loot-whoring asshats, reveling in the fact that they can get to a mob just a millisecond before you did… and then /spit at you, just for fun.

Do you remember them? After a week or two, they disappeared again, having speed leveled up to 70 and returned to whereever the heck hole they came from. Maybe that expains why the asshats in Trade channel have so much free time.

But there are the other problems, problems mostly seen in raiding guilds. Raiding guilds filled with people that had always been friendly in raids and quests and instances, laid back and ready to drop what they were putzing with and coe lend a hand, or hang out and just have fun. People that would see something drop and say “No, you go aherad and take it, it’s cool. That’s a nice upgrade for you.” People that just seemed to like to hang out and enjoy playing with others in the guild…

And then when the expansion came, they showed themselves to just have been bored and not cared about that stuff cause it wasn’t that big a deal to their bored selves, but once there was a new expansion, and new stuff they actually WANTED dropped or was possible to be found in instances, or there were new shinies to go find… they vanished into small, tight cliques of 5 people and no longer had time for anyone or anything else, including civility to their guilds.

Previously unsuspected inner cliques were revealed, and people that thought they were friends found out they were just there to fill out 40 man raids.

Guilds crashed big time, do you remember? Guilds wouldn’t have been torn apart as bad if they hadn’t cut the numbers needed to raid from 40 to 25, and even to 10 at the beginning, but all that means is that the inner cliques would have kept kissing up to people they didn’t really like that were just there for raids. It wouldn’t change the fact that the inner cliques existed.

There will still be 25 man raids… but all content can be done with 10 people now. Are you certain that the 25 man raiding guild you’re in now actaully WANTS you on the runs?

Yeah, so did most people in most guilds.

Were you there that first week? Do you really REMEMBER?

Burning Cursade, in that first week, changed a lot of things, and brought out a side of people we really didn’t want to see, no matter whether we knew it was there or not.

After a week or two, things calmed WAY the heck down. The ramifications of guild politics were long lasting, but the immediate asshattedness was short lived.

Yeah, it’s a serious question… how badly do you want to hit Northrend first? Or are you willing to follow behind the wave, and be behind the discovery curve, and listen to others talk about what they saw, and what they did…  and wait until the crush of players clear a little so you have a calmer, more relaxed trip through the fresh new content?

Whether you are in the Beta or not, now is the time to prepare yourself mentally and decide just what it is you want to do…

Are you going to clear your existing quest log and be ready to dash to Northrend…

Or are you going to seek out every quest you can find in Outlands, and be ready to level in familiar territory?

Either way…

Right now, it pays to at least find out where the new Profession trainers are, and where you will need to go to get your next level of mastery. Because whether you are in the new world or the old, you’ll still be farming Herbs, Ore or Skins that will give you skillups, and there is no sense in wasting that time without reason.

The rest… well, the rest will come when it comes.

EDIT Added:

Well, there is one more thought for ya’all…

Death Knights are super awesome cool… so cool that tons of people are going to want to play one. And they are designed to level super fast in their starting zone, so that right when they finish their quests, they are actually dinging 58 and can go straight to Outlands.

So as Lady Jess said, there will be a flood of brand new 58 Death Knights, of both factions, invading Hellfire Peninsula, and desiring mats to powerlevel their professions.

I’m sure some of them will be in the old Azeroth zones leveling Mining, Herbing and Skinning, but I’m gonna guess most will want to get higher in Outlands first, to get their 51 point Talents.

Be that as it may… on PvP servers, you will have an entire zone loaded with level 58 characters…

That first week of leveling in Hellfire is going to be HELL for those level 58s.

I am POSITIVE that there will be lonely level 70 gankers just wandering around, slaughtering at will.

My advice? Find some leveling buddies to team with who will also play a DK at start, so you can present a force of five or more level 58s to show a united front.

Or, of course, enlist a friend or two from your guild to chaperone! But where is the fun in that? Wouldn’t it be more fun to take them down as a roaming pack of 58+?

* By the way, did you know that over 96.4% of most published statistics are made up on the spot?

A look at our Bear Tanking future in Wrath

Welcome to my first ever look at the future direction of Bear Tanking in Wrath.

Remember, I am not going to be telling you that things as they are in the Beta right now are finished. From what Ghostcrawler has said, we have to believe that what we see now is two builds previous to what they are working on. But I think there is enough history built up now to talk about a few directions we seem to be headed.

So buckle up, buttercup!

Continue reading

I think the new Beta build was a hit

I was browsing the new changes from last night’s Beta build that MMO-Champion posted.

Cassie was standing over my shoulder, watching as I scrolled through the undocumented class changes.

You know… you KNOW you have scored a hit with your latest changes, when I scrolled past the Paladin section, and heard Cassie draw an involuntary breath like she’d just been sucker punched.

I looked up, and saw her eyes shining with a vindictive glow, like she had seen the fires of hell unleashed, and it was her hands that set them free.

I looked back at the screen to see what could have prompted this unholy glee.

There was only one Retribution change listed;

retadin oomph

I looked back up at her, and she said, “That’ll teach them to try to run away from me! Oooh, I hate that!”

I want my Hunter to be a biker chick

I’ve mentioned my plans to mess around with Professions before WotLK comes out.

One thing that makes it easier for me to think about dropping Engineering on my Druid and taking it on my Hunter, is that there are only a handful of recipes that are drops to worry about. I don’t have that many to try and replace.

Plus, the things that Engineering gives a Druid? Not so useful.

But for a Hunter? Pretty awesome.

Engineering gives you the ability to make Jumper Cables that can rez others. With Feign Death, a Hunter can realistically have a chance to drop a Freezing Trap, run like heck, then Feign Death and survive a wipe. With Jumper Cables, the Hunter might be able to then rez a Healer that can bring the rest of the group back up.

I’ve seen it work. Really! Sometimes, anyway.

Hey, even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Jumper cables work… sometimes. I think.

With a Druid, if he survives, he can rez anyway. In WotLK, there will be unlimited non-combat ressurection, so even less need for a Druid with Jumper Cables.

There are the teleports. I love having the teleport to Gadgetzan, but realistically, Druids can Teleport directly to Moonglade whenever they like. It’s a long flight to Gadgetzan from Moonglade, sure, but hey. It’s cool.

Having a Teleport to Gadgetzan for my Hunter would be pure fun. 

An Engineer can make a very cool mechanized Gyrocopter.

On my Druid, I use Swift Flight Form ONLY. So, I made my Gyrocopter, but it’s in the bank. Kind of sad. And for a land mount, I have my awesome Birdie from Sethekk Halls.

But in WotLK, not only will my Hunter be able to make the Gyrocopter, but it has been confirmed that there is a new Engineering spell called ‘The Hog’, where you will be able to craft and have a motorcycle with passenger-carrying sidecar.

Okay, are you serious? Really?

C’mon… a motorcycle?

I have a vision, my friends. I have a vision of a group of bad ass biker chicks, wearing cool outfits, roaring across the land.

My hunter has the eyepatch already, and I NEED, not want but need a leather jacket craftable by Leatherworkers that displays your Tabard insignia on the back.

Black. With silver chains and spikes.

I’d make sure our guild logo was a bunny faster than you could imagine.


I know that Warhammer 40k, the tabletop miniature version anyway, had the Orc race have those options, because I had biker Orcs with the full leather jacket/spiky helmet. So I doubt WoW will go that direction, and we probably won’t get Leatherworker leather jackets, biker boots, or any of the other fun stuff.

And it wouldn’t really fit with the WoW theme anyway, no matter how much I’d like it.

But I can haz motorcycles… and big guns.. and teleports, and scopes and jumper cables and the chicken gun. And repair bots. And ammo.

Yep, my only thought now is, I need to switch to Engineering fast so I can level it up and get into Karazhan so I can get that Scope recipe off Attumen before I drop it from Windshadow.

How do you folks feel about the motorcycle?

Do you feel like I do, and want to make a biker gang, or do you think that this is just another thing you wish they didn’t do to ruin the fantasy feel of the game?

I have to admit, I have seen folks say they hope to see Northrend bring a return to the fantasy roots of Warcraft, because the Outlands to some extent brought us too much sci-fi.

I can appreciate that point of view. I just want my biker gang!

I just wonder, where in Azeroth will I decide to place the setting for the first Sturgis Biker Rally.

My first thought would be to hold the First Annual Sturgis Bike Rally at Gadgetzan. It’s good for both factions, you can get drunk on Nogginfogger and brawl in the PvP arena no matter what your faction, and then head north across the hills (the Black Hills?) to race at the gnome’s speedway.

Oh, I am so there.

Melpo, it may not go live, but for now it is posted in the site and on Wowheads’ WotLK info database… so I’m going to accept it as real. For now. Subject to revisionistic meanies.

Where can I stick this filter?

As Wrath of the Lich King slowly approaches, every beta build change brings a new wave of beta testers flooding the internet with info about the latest tiny tweaks.

I see various different opinions around the blogosphere about how good or bad this is, and I wanted to share with you my own personal outlook on the subject. I thought some of you might be interested, since if you know where I stand on it, then you will know what to expect from my blog over the next few months.

Sound fair?

Continue reading

Hairstyles of the Wrath and Lichness!

It is with great pleasure that I share with you the first real preview of the new hairstyles for male characters in Wrath of the Lich King!

These images are collections of wowmodelviewer characters datamined by Andrige from the beta, as he describes in the comments below. Andrige submitted these here that they might be shared with others as a glimpse into some of the new hairstyles we have to look forward to.

You should expect that, as we are still very early into the beta process, there are many more still to come, but I think that it is cute to see some of what we have to look forward to.

Andrige is a well known and highly talented WoW cummunity artist, best known for his modified shapeshift skins and a host of other Druid-related art projects.

He sent the male images to me and the female images to Phaelia of Resto4Life.

You can check out the male images by following the links below, and you can check out the female images by going to Resto4Life’s article here!

Take a good long look at the male night elf hairstyle on the left side… is that? I think it is!

Woot! Bonus style points!

Thanks, Andrige!!

*Disclaimer: Andrige wanted me to mention that, because he isn’t familiar with all of the existing hairstyles, that it’s possible some of these may already be in the game. Also, that the first batch he sent me was supposed to have the other hairstyles, but that he was having too much fun admiring the Night Elf Mohawk and forgot.*

*And to those wonderful people in the WoW Insider comments claiming that Andrige drew all this stuff, I refer you to his flat out statement in the comments of exactly where and how he obtained these images, and how you can too… so next time, please read before making an ass of yourself and accusing everyone of fraud.*

Links to each full sized image!

Edit: Added the dwarf pics that I forgot, thanks to Erthshade for pointing that out. Thanks bud!