Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Druid Digest Service Outage

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone and a slightly premature Happy New Year!

You may have noticed over the last several weeks that Druid Digest was offline. Unfortunately, the website was accidentally flagged by one of Blogger's blog crawling robots as spam and immediately yanked from the web. Apparently, this is a rather common occurrence. At the moment, it appears as if that problem has been resolved and, hopefully, we will not encounter any similar snags moving forward.

I wanted to provide this information both to explain the website's temporary absence and to provide advice and information to other Blogger users who find themselves similarly situated.

The process for getting a robot tagged website back online is only slightly cumbersome. First, if the Blog is still on your dashboard, follow the Restore link. Second, follow the steps on the Blogger Help Forum as outlined in my help request. The sooner you complete those steps, the sooner your Blog will be reviewed and back online, so doing all of them at once is highly recommended.

As for how long these little snafus will put your Blog out of commission, it is hard for me to say. Druid Digest had the unfortunate distinction of ticking off the robots right before Christmas, so the two weeks it was down might be slightly exaggerated. Blogger says it will process review requests within two business days, but that does not appear to be the case 100% of the time.

The best piece of advice I can give you if you find yourself in this position is stay calm. For at least twenty days, your Blog still exists even if you or anyone else is unable to access it. It is not gone forever. Follow the protocol, make polite, informative posts in the Help Forum and wait it out. You will be back online before you know it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Beat Deathbringer Saurfang in ICC 10

In World of Warcraft patch 3.3, Blizzard unveiled the first section of Icecrown Citadel's raid instance, the Lower Spire. The Lower Spire consists of four boss encounters including Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, the Icecrown Gunship Battle, and lastly, Deathbringer Saurfang.

Though each of the Lower Spire encounters is challenging in its own way, odds are, Deathbringer Saurfang will present the gravest threat to your raid. This is because, though the fight appears rather simple, unless each role is executed flawlessly, the combination of Saurfang's heal mechanics and Mark of the Fallen Champion will leave your raid dead and disappointed.

Below is a quick guide to defeating the Deathbringer in ICC 10 man. Some of the advice will also apply to 25 man and feel free to modify the strategy to fit your raids particular strengths. This is not the only way to defeat Saurfang, but it certainly appears to be one of the easiest.

1. Raid Stacking

The first key to defeating Deathbringer is having the right combination of classes and roles on board. To efficiently take down Deathbringer, you will want the following in your raid:

2 x Tank
2 x Healers
6 x DPS

Many people hit a wall with Deathbringer because they bring too many healers. Though it may not appear so because of relatively slow damage output, the Saurfang encounter is one long burn phase that requires huge amounts of dps. Replacing your third healer with a dps works because burning Saurfang quicker greatly reduces the healing needed at the end of the fight. I would recommend bringing a healer with a geared dps offspec whenever you go to ICC 10, so that they can make the switch for this encounter. Keep in mind, two healing this encounter is challenging, so you will need very solid healers to pull it off.

2. Positioning

Deathbringer should be tanked right where he spawns facing directly back towards the door he came out of. It is important that he be facing right at the door, because that will make managing the Blood Beast spawns infinity easier. Melee dps will obviously want to stand directly behind Saurfang. Healers will stack on top of melee dps.

Ranged the ranged dps will form a large arc around Deathbringer, being sure to stay at least 15 yards apart from each other so as to prevent Blood Nova damage from becoming an issue and giving Saurfang extra Blood Power. At the point of the semi-circle preferably put a Mage or Elemental Shaman. To either side of that point your ranged dps will fan out in semi-circle.

All raid members should spend as much time as possible in these positions so as to limit the effectiveness of Blood Nova and to make the Blood Beast burning as quick and efficient as possible.

3. Managing Blood Power

The central mechanic of the Deathbringer Saurfang encounter is Blood Power. Most of Saurfang's abilities, as well as the attacks of his summoned minions, cause him to generate points of Blood Power. These points increase his damage done, but even with full Blood Power, his output is more than manageable. Blood Power is a problem because every time Deathbringer reaches 100 Blood Power, he resets his counter to zero and casts Mark of the Fallen Champion on a random raid member. Mark of the Fallen Champion not only does very large amounts of damage, but also generates Blood Power every time it procs. As a result, Saurfang's Blood Power generation rate increases exponentially every time a Mark is applied.

To prevent your healers being overwhelmed by Mark of the Fallen Champion damage, it is then important to minimize Deathbringer's Blood Power generation whenever possible. Staying spread out is step one as Blood Nova AoE damage gives the boss points of Blood Power. The second step is properly dealing with the Blood Beasts.

4. Blood Beasts

One of the most important elements of this fight are the Blood Beasts Saurfang summons every 30 seconds. In Icecrown Citadel 10 man, Deathbringer will summon two Blood Beasts at a time, one directly on his left and one directly on the right. The Blood Beasts do relatively little damage and have no remarkable special abilities other than a resistance to AoE damage, but every time they do damage, Saurfang gains a point of Blood Power. As a result, one of the keys to this encounter is killing the Blood Beasts quickly and preventing them from attacking anyone.

To minimize the Blood Beasts attacks, they must be stunned as much as possible and burned immediately. Have your raid focus fire on the right Blood Beast, then the left. While the right blood beast is blown up by your dps, have a Rogue or other class with a decent disable mechanic incapacitate the one on the left. If necessary set up stun rotations to maximize Blood Beast down time. Do not forget your tank's stuns either as they will easily be able to turn and hit the Blood Beast where it stands.

The Beasts are also susceptible to snares and stuns, so Frost Traps and Concussive Shots are a must. This makes kiting the Blood Beasts directly back another viable strategy if your raid is low on stuns. The Blood Beasts have relatively little health and if your dps is tuned to the encounter, you should be able to burn them well before they threaten your kiter. If you are having trouble, make sure all dps is switching as soon as possible and is doing single target dps to the focus target.

5. Rune of Blood

Fairly frequently, Saurfang will cast Rune of Blood on the tank. This causes the Deathbringer to heal himself for 10% of the damage he does to that target. Back when 3.3 was released, it was 5% so many raids went with only a single tank. Now, however, tank swapping is necessary and the tanks will need to taunt back and forth to take Deathbringer's attention off of whoever has the Rune.

If a taunt fails or a tank is down, one can still mitigate some of the effects of Rune of Blood by using damage reduction cooldowns when the Rune is active. Since the healing received is tied to the damage done, less damage converts to less healing. Saurfang's overall damage on the tank is low and steady enough that you should be able to save some of your damage reduction effects for limiting his Rune of Blood heals.

6. Mark of the Fallen Champion

Once Saurfang reaches 100 Blood Power, the first Mark of the Fallen Champion will hit one of your raid members. If you have been minimizing Blood Power gains and your dps is geared enough for the encounter, Saurfang should be at around 50-60% health before this happens. At this point, your raid needs to make an important choice: keep them alive or let them die.

If one of your miscellaneous dps gets the Mark and dies immediately, Saurfang loses the benefit of the Blood Power he would otherwise get from the Mark. This means your raid will have significantly more time before a subsequent mark drops, but you will be sacrificing a dps for that luxury. Base this decision off the strength of your heals and dps. Also, when someone with Mark of the Fallen Champion dies, Saurfang regains 5% of his total health, so keep that in mind as well.

Regardless, Saurfang will reach 100 Blood Power again and a second Mark of the Fallen Champion will hit someone. The same choice presents itself again, but it will be exceptionally challenging to counteract Saurfang's heals with two dps out of commission. Usually after the third Mark, but almost certainly at the fourth, the healing required becomes too much and your raid will wipe. It is therefore critical that you prolong the time between Marks by limiting Blood Power gains and burn the boss hard.

Before you even try it, keep in mind that the Mark cannot be erased. Even if a player dies and is resurrected, they will still come back complete with the debuff. There is, unfortunately, no way around it.

7. Frenzy

At 30% health, Saurfang goes into a Frenzy, increasing his attack speed by 30%. This increases the Tank's incoming damage as well as the damage done to raid members with Mark of the Fallen Champion as the debuff ticks are tied to his melee attacks. Additionally, he will be gaining Blood Power from his melee attacks and the Marks 30% faster. If that is not enough to deal with, he will also be procing his Rune of Blood heals 30% quicker meaning the hill your dps has been climbing the whole battle will become slightly steeper.

During the Frenzy, the Tank's incoming damage should still be manageable, but the Marked raid members will need noticeably more healing. If Blood Lust or Heroism is available, using it during the Frenzy is advised.

8. Boiling Blood

Boiling Blood is a damage over time effect Saurfang will occasionally apply to random raid members. Its ticks grant Blood Power to Deathbringer, so shedding it however possible is advised. A priest's shield will also absorb the ticks and prevent Blood Power gains, so having a Discipline Priest makes this encounter much easier. Otherwise, the target raid member will simply need some attention from the healers.

9. Concluding Tips

The combination of Frenzy and the exponential increase in Blood Power gains caused by Mark of the Fallen Champion means that your attempts will generally not fall apart until the closing seconds of the encounter. It is not uncommon for Deathbringer to take a group that is doing "well" and quickly blow them up when he is at less than 5%. Do not get discouraged and just remember that this fight is all about the details. Even one or two unnecessary Blood Power points can make all the difference. With a little practice, precision, and encounter appropriate gear, however, you will down this Deathbringer in no time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

World of Warcraft Patch 3.3 Trailer

Since all the official World of Warcraft website have become barely accessible, I figured I would embed the 3.3 Trailer here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Here is hoping that the servers come back online sooner rather than later. I know I am eager to see what Icecrown Citadel has to offer.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Great World of Warcraft Websites You Have Not Visited

Every World of Warcraft player worth his salt knows about major World of Warcraft online resources like WoWHead, Wowwiki, or MMO Champions. Did you know, however, that there is a whole other world out there of fringe Warcraft websites that slides by unseen by most of Azeroth's population. Below are links to some of these hidden gems. Prepare to be in the know...

WOW Jackass

Ever been the victim of a ninja looter? Ever wanted to reach through your monitor and slap that jerk in trade chat? Are you tired of Azeroth being a world without consequence or personal responsibility? If so, WowJackass.com is the website for you!

Using a slightly clunky interface WOW Jackass allows you to call out a player who has wronged you for all to see. You can also review and respond to others comments or check to see if a given player has ever been reported on the website. Unfortunately, the website is not yet well known, so there are relatively few reports. The concept, however, is great and if the website can generate additional traffic it could be a dream for PuG organizers and guild leaders everywhere.

World of Warcraft Unofficial Papercrafts

Yes, you read that correctly. There is an entire blog devoted only to making World of Warcraft items out of paper. Now, before you dismiss the concept completely, let me assure that what these paper wizards manage to whip up is at the apex of nerd cool. If you give the website a look, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. To add a cherry on top of this delightfully geeky sunday, there are free patterns a plenty to be had should you want to attempt making your own paper masterpieces.

Some of my favorite loose-leaf Warcraft toys are the Paper Kael'thas and the Paper Moonkin. Again, did I mention how cool this website is?

WoW Drama

Admit it, we have all laughed at others' World of Warcraft misfortunes at one time or another. So long as it is not coming from us, QQ can often be quite entertaining. The good folks over at WoW Drama have taken that concept and run with it by devoting an entire website to celebrating all brands of World of Warcraft drama.

Whether it is screen shots of egregious acts of ninja looting, a video of a classic Warcraft meltdown, or a Ventrilo recording of a seriously burnt out raid leader, you will find it all at WoW Drama. The website is relatively well designed and good for more than a few laughs. You should definitely check it out.

WoW Item Creator

This website is less an overlooked gem than a forgotten World of Warcraft classic. The website lets you generate the flavor text and stats for any item or ability you can imagine and then makes it look like a real World of Warcraft item. There is fun to be had both in creating realistic items in an attempt to outdo the developers and in creating crazy items to try and get a laugh out of yourself or your friends.

If you are not a creative type, there is an option to peruse, comment on and rate the creations of others. There are plenty of gems to be found here. I would offer the Crotch Seeking Missile Launcher and Gnome Buster as examples. Sure it is nothing more than World of Warcraft Build-A-Bear, but who doesn't enjoy Build-A-Bear?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Onyxia Quick Tips

After getting some positive responses from our Trial of the Crusader Quick Tips guide, I have decided to follow it up by giving Onyxia's Lair the same treatment. As with that guide, the tips below do not cover every intricacy of the Onyxia encounter, but they should give you the knowledge you need to prove a valuable member of any Onyxia raid.

Onyxia's Lair Trash Tips:

Tanks: The Onyxian Warders have a large aggro radius and long paths so pull carefully. Off-tank should pick up a second Warder if it patrols into the group. Point the Warders away from melee dps.

DPS: Stay behind the Warder's because they cleave.

Healers: AoE heal the melee dps through Fire Nova. Tank will be taking relatively heavy damage.

Onyxia Phase One Tips:

Tanks: Main tank should run right down the middle, straight through Onyxia and back into the back wall. Use mitigation cooldowns on the pull and right before Flame Breath casts. Off-tanks watch your aggro and pick up whelps if needed.

DPS: Wait until the tank has turned Onyxia before getting close to avoid a Tail Sweep. Stand on her left side between where she cleaves and her tail swipe.

Healers: All heals on the tank. Big heals after Flame Breath.

Onyxia Phase Two Tips:

Tanks: Grab whelps from openings in the cavern's sides and draw them to the center for AoE. One tank grabs Onyxian Guardians who spawn at entrance and tanks them near where they enter. Other tank(s) help dps Guardians and pick up later whelp spawns. Move yourself and your aggro target to the side of the cavern when Onyxia "takes a deep breath."

DPS: Ranged and Melee AoE the first whelp spawn. Ranged burn down Onyxia stopping only to AoE whelp spawns. Melee burn down the Onyxian Guardians as quickly as possible and help with whelps when idle. Move to the side of the cavern when Onyxia "takes a deep breath."

Healers: Assign a healer to each tank. Be prepared for heavy tank damage especially from Guardians. Stand in the center as much as possible to help whelp gathering. Move to the side of the cavern when Onyxia "takes a deep breath."

Onyxia Phase Three Tips:

Tanks: Main tank needs to be ready for Onyxia to land at 40% health. Bring her back so she is cleanly facing the back wall. Use fear avoidance/breaking abilities before Bellowing Roar. Off tanks should pick up any remaining whelps or guardians and tank them away from Onyxia. Off tanks should watch aggro on Onyxia.

DPS: Stay out of Onyxia's way as she is being positioned to avoid being hit by Cleve or Flame Breath. Kill any remaining whelps and Guardians before targeting Onyxia. Stand at Onyxia's side to dps. Use fear negating abilities on the tank.

Healers: Stay out of Onyxia's way as she is being positioned to avoid being hit by Cleve or Flame Breath. Heal your target tank until adds are dead and then focus heals on main tank. Stand on Onyxia's side. Use fear negating abilities on the tank. Cast protective spells and HoT effects on the tank right before Bellowing Roars.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tips for Creating a Successful Guild

Running a successful World of Warcraft guild takes a great deal of time and effort. With proper planning, the right attitude and a hearty helping of patience, however, anyone can sit atop the guild of their dreams. Below are some tips to help you make your World of Warcraft guild leader dreams a reality.

1. Decide What Type of Guild You Want and Plan Accordingly

What makes a guild "successful" is inherently defined by the drive of its members. If a guild exists only as a social space for friends, the bar for success might be as low as having a couple bank tabs and keeping everyone happy. On the other hand, a progression guild might only be successful if it is capable of clearing the latest raid content or if it can master challenging achievements. Lastly, a leveling guild might solely be judged by the size of its membership.

If you have low expectations for your guild, your initial effort and ongoing administrative burden will similarly be low. If, however, you plan to compete with the top guilds on your server, you better be prepared to do your homework and put serious time into keeping your guild rolling. Make sure to not bite off more than you can chew while similarly not falling short of your own reasonable expectations.

Contemplating the kind of guild you want is also important in that you must be able to clearly express your expectations for the guild to potential members. If you do not have a clear idea of what goals you have for the guild, it is going to be impossible for other players to know if joining your guild will help them further their own personal goals.

2. Choose a Reasonable Name

John Locke once said that there is much in a name and that holds true for guilds as well. Though you and your friends may find the name "ZomgPawners" hilarious, odds are you will have a harder time recruiting your server's top players into a guild where the first impression your name creates is "these guys are ridiculous."

If you do not care about your guild's "status" or the size of its membership, the name you pick is largely irrelevant so long as it is not obscene or a violation of the World of Warcraft Terms of Service. If, however, you want to grow your guild, try to pick a name that will appeal to a broad audience. Lacking inspiration, try paging through a dictionary to get your creative juices flowing.

3. Form, Then Fill

Every guild, no matter its type, starts with 10 signatures on a Guild Charter. Many players make the mistake of trying to track down the entirety of their guild's membership BEFORE the Guild even exists.

If you are truly committed to forming your own guild, do not get too hung up on who signs your charter. Obviously, if you have friends or acquaintances who are on board and available, may as well have them be founding members. Otherwise, any warm body will do. Targeting new players and or offering a gold or two per signature can quickly fill your charter and have your Guild ready for business.

4. Offer Guild Benefits to Draw and Keep Members

Though there is a great deal to be said for the sense of community and organizational benefits a guild provides, that is not enough for most players. If you want to draw quality players into your guild, you are going to need to offer perks.

The perks start with a guild bank. A well stocked, multi-tab guild bank with reasonable use restrictions is a must for any respectable guild. Be certain to protect the bank from ninjas by restricting access to new members, but also do not preclude its use entirely. Give your members the trust they deserve, but nothing more. A guild tabbard is also a nice touch even though most high level characters will neglect it entirely. For a leveling or PvP guild, however, it is nearly a must.

If you are serious about your guild competing with the big boys, you will need to offer meta game benefits as well. For any serious raiding guild, a Ventrilo server is a necessity. You can purchase these servers for only a couple bucks a month from companies like Dark Star Communications. A website will also go a long way towards boosting guild communication and organization. There are many free guild website hosting providers available. I generally recommend Guildtag.com as they offer lots of customization options at a truly free price point.

5. Screen Applicants Carefully

Never forget, your guild can never be more successful than its members. If you are only looking to create a large guild, go ahead and invite whoever you can. If, however, you are trying to form a raid guild of any kind, quality is always superior to quantity. It is better to have a strong core group of players and have to PuG a couple slots for raids than to have bad attitudes and lazy players poisoning your guild. Eventually, the quality players you meet in those PuGs can be brought into the fold. It will take a while for your guild to be independently raid ready, but the results will be well worth the extra time and effort.

6. Be Flexible

As your guild grows and changes, it is important that your leadership grow and change with it. Allow trusted members to take on certain guild administration responsibilities. Modify schedules, raid targets, and policies as needed. It is your guild afterall, but unless you are flexible and adaptive, it will ultimately be a guild of one, sitting in Dalaran and wondering what might have been.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

To celebrate Thanksgiving, along with scarfing down my body weight in turkey, I decided to put together a short list of some of the World of Warcraft related things we all have had to be thankful for this past year. Enjoy the list and have a wonderful holiday!

New Onyxia

To celebrate World of Warcraft's fifth anniversary, Blizzard treated Azeroth's inhabitants with the re-release of an epic classic encounter: Onyxia's Lair. Not only was the encounter tweaked for level 80 play, but the designers went the extra mile and retooled the Brood Mother's loot table with updated versions of her classic drops. Dripping with nostalgia for long time players and presenting a living piece of Warcraft's history for new recruits, the new Onyxia's Lair is definitely something to be thankful for.


In patch 3.1, Blizzard opened up the whole of the Titan facility Ulduar for exploration. Azeroth's adventurers were treated to a massive raid dungeon with fourteen entirely distinct boss encounters. When one considers the 10, 25, and heroic versions of many of these battles the amount of content crammed into the instance is staggering.

It is not just the size of Ulduar, however, that makes it one of the past years highlights. The innovation demonstrated within the instance's walls is also cause for celebration. Each of the boss encounters is challenging and unique, presenting interesting hurdles to even the most hardy of adventurers. Further, tweaks such as teleporters and progressive heroic modes changed the face of World of Warcraft raiding forever. Ulduar is certainly worth our thanks.

The Argent Tournament

Aside from a new five player dungeon, a new raid, tons of quests, and unique, enjoyable rewards, the Argent Tournament has gone a long way to relight the fires of animosity between the factions while simultaneously bringing the factions in close proximity to one another. Though players are constantly representing their faction, it has rarely been so clear or grand as within the context of the Argent Tournament. Whether you like or hate jousting, there is still much to be thankful for resting atop (and beneath) the Argent Tournament Grounds.

Isle of Conquest

With an expansive map, complex resource system, and tons of explosions, the Isle of Conquest Battle Ground is clearly a spiritual successor to Alterac Valley. It is hard not to smile as you parachute from a massive airship, drop a bomb at your enemy's gate, or charge into the opposing faction's keep. Isle of Conquest increased the scope of what is possible in a World of Warcraft Battleground and I am certainly thankful for that.

Dual Specs

Rarely has a new feature added as much to the average player's quality of experience as the addition of Dual Specs. Even if you have not dumped the thousand gold to unlock your second talent tree, if you have ever grouped with someone who is running as their "off spec," you owe this feature some gratitude. Obviously, talent point allocation should be a commitment and I would argue that it still is. With Dual Specs, however, a player can PvP and PvE or fill two different group rolls without the incredible hassle and minor expense of relearning talents. I love this feature.

Updated Druid Forms

It was a long time coming, but during the past year Druid's finally got updated Feral Form models. Not only do the new models look great, but they are also tied to your characters appearance giving a sense of personality to your Druid even when in Feral Forms. Here is hoping next year we can be thankful for new Moonkin and Tree Form models.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hot Video: Invincible Mount and Perky Pug

The good folks over at MMO Champion have just released a set of videos featuring content data-mined from the upcoming World of Warcraft Patch 3.3. In the first video, we can catch a glimpse of a new mount being added to the game, the flying horse Invincible. In life, Invincible was Arthas' loyal steed. In death, he is a crazy looking mount you can nab in Icecrown Citadel. Odds are Invincible will be the Mimiron's Head of Icecrown, but no details have been released as of yet. Enjoy the video:

The next video is of a new pet being introduced in 3.3, the Perky Pug. This pet will be available as a reward for participating in World of Warcraft Patch 3.3's random dungeon feature. Be sure to watch this one to the end as the little dog's funniest animation lies at the end of the clip.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mr. T in World of Warcraft: Really!?!

Earlier this month, Blizzard unveiled the first in a new series of World of Warcraft commercials featuring the largely irrelevant Mr. T. Feel free to check out the commercial below:

The second commercial was unveiled just two days ago and is already circulating on around the airwaves. Here it is:

Aside from being relatively silly and based entirely on another World of Warcraft commercial which aired nearly two years ago (check it out below), the Mr. T ads are relatively harmless.

Where things get bizarre, however, is the in game impact of Blizzard's latest advertising campaign. To coincide with the release of the first commercial, Blizzard introduced a new item to the World of Warcraft: the Mohawk Grenade. The Grenades can be obtained from NPCs positioned in Azeroth's starter areas. Anyone caught in the blast radius of one of these grenades will find themselves looking a bit like a college mascot wearing a giant "Nightelf Mowhawk" head.

The creation of the Mohawk Grenade is a bit of an odd move for Blizzard. Obviously, it is not World of Warcraft's first in game promotion. I am sure we all remember battling Mountain Dew powered robots not too long ago. What sets the Mohawk campaign apart, however, is that the promotion is for World of Warcraft itself. An in game promotion only reaches consumers who have already purchased Blizzard's product. Why Blizzard would devote its limited resources towards such a project I do not know.

The Mohawk Grenade is also another indication of Blizzard's increasing commercialization of Azeroth through both meta-game promotions and micro-transactions. It began with paid "character services" such as name changes and paid transfers, and continues with race changes, faction changes, and likely eventually class changes. Even more marked is the recent addition of purchasable in game pets including the Pandaren Monk and Lil' KT.

Most have speculated, and rightfully so, that most of these changes are the result of the Blizzard - Activision merge and "greedy Activision's" desire to squeeze every possible cent out of World of Warcraft. If that is the case, no one can really fault Activision for attempting to maximize their profit. It is a business after all. One does have to wonder though if at some point, the commercialization of Azeroth will cross a line and the increased micro transactional revenue will be offset by the attrition of an increasingly alienated player base. I guess only time will tell. In the meantime, however, Mr. T's Nightelf Mohawks have taken root in Azeroth, like it or lump it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trial of the Crusader Quick Tips

Say you have just gotten into a Trial of the Crusader PuG and realize you have no idea what you are supposed to do. Now imagine it is your Guild's first run at the instance and you keep wiping, but you are not sure why. Lastly, picture you are a raid leader putting together a group for Trial of the Crusader and you need a quick easy way to explain the fights to that one new dps you just invited. In any of those situations, the Trial of the Crusader quick tips below are for you!

These tips do not lay out all the nuances of each encounter, but they should be sufficient to keep you alive and productive in both the 10 and 25 man version of Trial of the Crusader.

Beasts of Northrend Tips:

Gormok the Impaler

Tanks: Taunt off the other tank whenever the stacking debuff reaches three. Taunt the target back when your debuffs have gone away.

DPS: Do not stand in the fire. Immediately shift your dps to any Snobolds which are attacking you or your party members.

Healers: Do not stand in the fire. Call out for help if a Snobold is on you. Increase heals on the tanks when their debuff is at three.

Acidmaw and Dreadscale

Tanks: Point your worm away from the raid. Move the mobile worm out of poison clouds. If you get a Paralytic Toxin debuff, call out for a raid member with a Burning Bile debuff to come to you or, if necessary, go to them.

DPS: Burn down Acidmaw. Stay spread out. If you get a Paralytic Toxin debuff, immediately run to a raid member with the Burning Bile debuff. Do not stand in the poison clouds.

Healers: Stay spread out. If you get a Paralytic Toxin debuff, immediately run to a raid member with the Burning Bile debuff. When one worm dies, the other increases its damage, so step up the heals. Do not stand in the poison clouds.


Tanks: Only one tank is required. Tank him near the center of the room. After he knocks everyone to the wall, run out of his way if he is aimed to charge towards you.

DPS: Stay spread out. After he knocks everyone to the wall, run out of his way if he is aimed to charge towards you. Blow your cooldowns and hit him hard after he crashes into a wall.

Healers: Stay spread out. After he knocks everyone to the wall, run out of his way if he is aimed to charge towards you. Land big heals to keep the tank alive after Ferocious Butt.

Lord Jaraxxus

Tanks: Main needs to hold Lord Jaraxxus in the center of the room and interrupt Fel Fireball casts whenever possible. Off tank needs to pick up the Mistress of Pain who spawns from each Nether Portal and tank her away from the raid. Off tank needs to pick up the three Felflame Infernals who spawn from each Fel Volcano and tank them away from the raid as much as possible despite their aggro dumps.

DPS: Stay spread out. Interrupt Fel Fireball whenever possible. Spellsteal or dispell the Jaraxxus' Nether Power buff. When you are standing in green flame, run out of it towards the wall. Ranged dps should immediately switch to burning Felflame Infernals or Mistresses of Pain whenever they spawn.

Healers: Stay spread out. When you are standing in green flame, run out of it towards the wall. When a player gets the Incinerate Flesh debuff, immediately heal them until the debuff is removed. This fight is healing intensive.

Faction Champions:

Tanks: Go to more PvP viable offspecs if you can. Keep melee dps classes off of other players using Taunts, snares, and crowd control (subject to diminishing returns). Contribute damage to focus fire targets as much as possible.

DPS: Focus fire. Kill healers first. Use all crowd control and snares at your disposal. Heal yourself if you can. Kite mobs if necessary to survive.

Healers: Use all crowd control and snares at your disposal. Land heavy heals on the mobs focus fire target. Keep yourself alive and kite as needed.

Twin Val'kyr:

Tanks: Click the portal of the opposite color of the Val'kyr you plan to tank. Tank the Val'kyr close together. Touch orbs that match your color when possible.

DPS: Click the portal of the opposite color of the Val'kyr you are dpsing. If a Val'kyr begins casting Twin's Pact, switch dps to it (switching your color if needed) to break its shield and then interrupt the spell. If a Val'kyr begins casting Vortex, immediately switch to that Val'kyr's color to avoid being killed by the resulting AoE. Touch same color orbs whenever you can. Avoid opposite color orbs. The Twins share a health pool so dps whichever is convenient at any given time.

Healers: If a Val'kyr begins casting Vortex, immediately switch to that Val'kyr's color to avoid being killed by the resulting AoE. Touch same color orbs whenever you can. Avoid opposite color orbs. Try to stay the opposite color of the dps so as to increase orb absorption.


Tanks: Main tank holds Anub'arak where he starts, facing him away from the raid. Off tank picks up adds and tanks them on top of blue permafrost. When Anub'arak is underground, tanks help dps kite small adds and run from spikes if chased. Draw spikes into permafrost to destroy them if they you can no longer outrun them.

DPS: One ranged dps shoots floating orbs so as to scatter permafrost around area. Switch target to big adds and burn them down whenever they appear. Kite and kill small adds when Anub'arak is underground. Run from spikes if chased. Draw spikes into permafrost to destroy them if they you can no longer outrun them.

Healers: Run from small adds when Anub'arak is underground. Run from spikes if chased. Draw spikes into permafrost to destroy them if they you can no longer outrun them. When Anub'arak begins casing Leeching Swarm, let everyone but the tanks' health hover as low as you can.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bear Form Threat Guide

For some time now, Feral Druid tanks have been a viable option for even the most challenging of World of Warcraft's encounters. When designing a new Bear tank, most players put a great deal of thought into survivability, tweaking gear, gems, glyphs, and enchants to generate huge health pools and a hearty dodge percentage. That is all well and good, but absorbing damage is only half of a good Druid tank's job. Aggro management, or holding your targets' attention, is the other piece of the tanking puzzle and is just as important.

For a fresh level eighty Feral Druid, maintaining threat can be a huge problem. In heroics and introductory raids, you will frequently find yourself fighting alongside veteran damage dealers. Aside from generating well over 3k dps with little effort, these players are likely accustomed to an AoE burn play-style that pays little attention to threat management. As a result, any Feral Tank who neglects threat maximization will quickly find them self surrounded by the corpses of soon to be former group members. To help you avoid this terrible fate, I have laid out some Bear Form threat tips below that should help your targets stick to you like glue.

1. Bear Form Rotation

Using the right abilities in the right order is key to maintaining threat.

For Single Targets:

Generally speaking, you should always open a pull with Feral Faerie Fire because it is ranged, super high threat, and free. If you cast this while closing on your target or Charging, your global cool down should be up by the time you reach it meaning you can immediately follow up with Mangle. Then, it is time to start stacking Lacerates up to five. To maximize your initial threat, interrupt your Lacerate stacking whenever Mangle or Feral Faerie Fire is available. Once you hit five stacks of Lacerate, use Swipe in its place making sure to Lacerate only enough to keep the debuff rolling at five stacks.

It is also important that you Maul on every single melee attack. Maul generates huge amounts of threat and a missed Maul can spell disaster for your party. Obviously you must make concessions if your rage is limited, but you will want to cut your post five stack Swipes rather than your Mauls. They are just that important.

In summary, for single target Bear threat:
Keep Maul up throughout, open with Feral Faerie Fire, Mangle, stack Lacerate to five interrupting to Mangle or Feral Faerie Fire whenever possible, and then Swipe whenever Faerie Fire and Mangle is on cool down except where Lacerate is needed to prevent the debuff falling off

For Multiple Targets:

For large pulls, simply spam Swipe and Maul while cycling targets. Use the Infected Wounds debuff to track which targets have yet to feel the wrath of your Maul and keep them targeted until they get the debuff. As long as you are spreading around your Mauls and pounding mercilessly on your Swipe key, you should be able to hold on. If trouble strikes, use Challenging Roar to lock down the group while you catch back up to the dps.

For smaller multiple target pulls, Berserk and Mangle/Maul spam can quickly lock down your targets. If Berserk is unavailable, Maul and Swipe while target cycling just like with the larger pulls. If a particular target is threatening to pull away, hit it with Mangle. This will not only generate a quick burst of threat, but will enhance Maul damage on the target for the duration of the debuff increasing your chances of holding it for the long run. Just be sure not to neglect too many Swipes as you may lose track of your other targets.

2. Glyph for Threat

Unless there is a very specific reason to the contrary, every Bear Druid should have Glyph of Maul equipped. Hitting two targets at once with this threat hammer is key to holding the attention of more than one mob at a time. Bear Tanks with serious threat problems may also want to swap out Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration or Glyph of Survival Instincts for Glyph of Growl to increase the chances of recovering from dropped threat.

3. Gear for Threat

Particularly in a raid setting, when a Bear Tank has threat problems it is often due to not enough of a Druid's attacks connecting. This problem is easily remedied through increasing Expertise. Though you should not gem for Expertise, working it into your gear will appreciably help your threat by reducing the percentage of your attacks which are dodged or parried. Push your Expertise Rating to 213 then feel free to start mixing in Hit Rating to further increase your threat generation. A Druid tank will stop seeing any benefit for Expertise at a 492 rating and for Hit at 262.

There are also threat boosting glove enchants available in the form of Enchant Gloves - Threat and Enchant Gloves - Armsman, but you should try to stay away from these as you would be better served by Stamina boosting Heavy Borean Armor Kits. If you are going to get one of these enchants anyway, may as well go with Threat as it will likely be cheaper and Bears do not benefit from Armsman's parry boost.

4. Prepare for Pulls

Going into a pull with a healthy amount of Rage and targets marked will make maintaining threat infinity easier. As for Rage, shift in and out until your Furor procs and then pop Enrage. If your threat is exceptionally weak, let Enrage run its full course before charging in. If you have a little wiggle room, simply take the initial Rage dump for the ability, cancel the debuff (so as to avoid the damage reduction) and head in swinging.

For the exceptionally lazy Bear you can auto mark the primary attack target with Faerie Fire by using the following macro:

#showtooltip Faerie Fire
/cast Faerie Fire (Feral)
/script SetRaidTarget("target",8)

5. Macro for Threat

As mentioned in the rotation section, to maximize your threat, you will want to
Maul on every single white attack. Firing up all those Mauls manually can be exhausting, distracting, and can easily lead to mistakes. As a result, automating your Mauls can not only make your life much easier, but can also help increase your threat output.

Thankfully, automating your Mauls is as simple as creating Macros for all your key abilities (Faerie Fire,
Lacerate, Swipe, and Mangle) which causes them to also trigger Maul. Use the template below to generate your Macros replacing ABILITY with Swipe, Lacerate, etc.

/cast !Maul

6. When All Else Fails

Sometimes your dps will out gear you to such an extent that even despite following all the tips above, aggro will still be an issue. At that point, it is time to turn to your group mates for help. A Hunter's Misdirection or a Rogue's Tricks of the Trade can really help you lock down a target, especially if used as many times as their cooldowns allow. Additionally, many dps classes have threat reducing or dropping abilities and you would be wise to caution them to watch their threat and use those abilities as needed.

Also, do not forget your Growl and be quick to use it whenever a target turns away. Increased hit rating will help your Growls land more consistently. Also, immediately follow up your Growls with a high threat ability like Mangle or Faerie Fire to lock your target back in place. If Growl fails Challenging Roar is your go to backup. If both fail or are unavailable, Berserk driven Mangle spam will give you the best chance of reclaiming aggro. Good luck and happy tanking!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Druid Set Bonus Guide

In World of Warcraft, everyone would love to get their hands on the latest armor set. The bonuses which accompany collecting the pieces of these sets provide powerful benefits which generally cannot be otherwise gained. As a result, when gearing up your Druid, it is important to keep these set bonuses in mind. To help you, I have broken down the set bonuses for all the level 80 Druid Armor sets below. Use this information to target those bonuses which would most benefit your character.

Druid Tier Seven Armor Set: Dreamwalker
Found in Naxxramas, on Sartharion and Archavon, and purchased with Emblems of Valor

Restoration: Dreamwalker Regalia
2/5 Bonus: The Cost of Your Lifebloom is Reduced by 5%
4/5 Bonus: Your Nourish heals for an additional 5% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target

Balance: Dreamwalker Garb
2/5 Bonus: Your Insect Swarm deals an additional 10% damage
4/5 Bonus: Your Wrath and Starfire Spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance

Feral: Dreamwalker Battlegear
2/5 Bonus: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage
4/5 Bonus: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds and decreases the cooldown of Tiger's Fury by 3 seconds

Druid Tier Eight Armor Set: Nightsong
Found in Ulduar, on Emalon, and purchased with Emblems of Conquest

Restoration: Nightsong Regalia
2/5 Bonus: Increases the healing done by your Swiftmend spell by 10%
4/5 Bonus: Your Rejuvenation spell also provides an instant heal for your target

Balance: Nightsong Garb
2/5 Bonus: Increases the bonus granted by Eclipse for Starfire and Wrath by 15%
4/5 Bonus: Each time your Insect Swarm deals damage, it has a chance to make your next Starfire cast within 10 seconds instant cast

Feral: Nightsong Battlegear
2/5 Bonus: The periodic damage dealt by your Rake, Rip, and Lacerate abilities has a chance to cause you to enter a Clearcasting state
4/5 Bonus: Increases the duration of Savage Roar and Survival Instincts by 8 seconds

Druid Tier Nine Armor Set: Malfurion's/Runetotem's
Found in Trial of the Champion, on Koralon, and purchased with Emblems of Triumph

Restoration: Malfurion's/Runetotem's Garb
2/5 Bonus: Increases the critical strike chance of your Nourish spell by 5%
4/5 Bonus: You Rejuvenation ability now has a chance for its healing to be critical strikes

Balance: Malfurion's/Runetotem's Regalia
2/5 Bonus: Your Moonfire now has a chance for its periodic damage to be critical strikes
4/5 Bonus: Increases the damage done by your Starfire and Wrath spells by 4%

Feral: Malfurion's/Runetotem's Battlegear
2/5 Bonus: Decreases the cooldown on your Growl ability by 2 seconds, increases the periodic damage done by your Lacerate ability by 5%, and increases the duration of your Rake by 3 seconds
4/5 Bonus: Reduces the cooldown on Barkskin by 12 seconds and increases the critical strike chance of Rip and Ferocious Bite by 5%

Druid Tier Ten Armor Set: Name Unknown
Likely found in Icecrown Citadel raids and purchased with the new Emblems of Frost in Patch 3.3 (Bonuses not yet set in stone)

Restoration: Name Unknown
2/5 Bonus: The healing granted by your Wild Growth spell reduces 30% less over time
4/5 Bonus: Each time your Rejuvenation spell heals a target, it has a 2% chance to jump to a new target at full duration

Balance: Name Unknown
2/5 Bonus: When you gain Clearcasting from your Omen of Clarity talent, you deal 15% additional Nature and Arcane damage for 6 seconds
4/5 Bonus: Your critical strikes from Starfire and Wrath cause your target to languish for an additional 5% of your spell's damage over 4 seconds

Feral: Name Unknown
2/5 Bonus: Your Swipe (Bear) and Lacerate abilities deal 20% additional damage and the cost of your Rip ability is reduced 10 energy
4/5 Bonus: Your Enrage no longer decreases armor and instead decreases all damage taken by 12%, and the periodic damage of your Rake ability can now be a critical strike

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Essential Druid Glyphs

In World of Warcraft, Glyphs are used to customize a player's character by slightly modifying that character's abilities or attributes. Next to talent specialization and itemization, Glyphs are the surest way to adapt your character's capabilities to your play style. For hybrid classes, such as Druids, Glyphs go a long way in defining your characters role, be that healing, tanking, or damage dealing.

Though there is a great deal of flexibility in the Glyphs you choose for your Druid, it is generally accepted that to fill certain roles you ought to have certain Glyphs in place. Below, I will explore these "essential Glyphs" for each of the Druid's main roles as well as providing information on other Glyphs you might use to fill out your character.

Bear Tanking Glyphs


Glyph of Maul - In terms of multi-target threat, this Glyph is 100% necessary. It also helps survivability in that it allows you to quickly spread around your Infected Wounds debuff. No Druid tank should ever be without this Glyph.

Glyph of Frenzied Regeneration - One of these glyphs off of the Auction House... about 9 gold. Adding a 20% boost to ALL healing received for the entire 10 second duration of one of your few panic buttons... priceless!


Glyph of Survival Instincts - An extra 10% of you maximum health for a full 20 seconds whenever you use Survival Instincts certainly can make the difference between life and death, but it probably will not. Assuming you use the skill whenever the cool down is up (which you probably shouldn't be doing), this Glyph increases your effective health by just over 1%.

Glyph of Berserk - An extra 5 seconds of unrestricted Mangles will certainly help your front end threat. This Glyph also slightly buffs Cat Form so it is a good option for those Ferals who haven't committed to a role.

Glyph of Growl - An extra 8% chance for your Growl to hit is hardly worth a Glyph slot, especially considering a decent geared Bear will not hardly miss anyway, but it is an option.

Feral DPS Glyphs


Glyph of Savage Roar - As a good Kitty, you should have Savage Roar up constantly. As a result, this single Glyph will buff all damage you do by 3%. Take this Glyph.


Glyph of Rip - This is a go to Glyph for most Cats. Rip accounts for a great deal of feral damage and bumping its duration by 4 seconds both helps overall dps and smooths out World of Warcraft's most complicated DPS system. If you are on the fence or uncertain as to what you should take, grab this Glyph.

Glyph of Shred - Most Feral DPS will have this Glyph alongside Rip and Savage Roar. An extra six seconds on Rip is a boon to any Cat trying to juggle buffs and debuffs. Obviously this Glyph shines the most on bosses and requires positioning to function, but it is still more than solid for any Feral dps.

Glyph of Berserk - Though it seems great, this Glyph is more for Bears than Cats. Odds are, you will have little to no energy left when you hit those extra 5 seconds making them largely a waste. The Glyphs above are better options for Feral DPS.

Glyph of Mangle - If someone else in your groups handles bleed debuffs, another Feral or an Arms Warrior, obviously stay away from this Glyph. If you need to keep Mangle up, however, this can smooth out your rotation and make your life a little easier. That comfort, however, will generally cost you some of the dps the other Glyphs bring to the table.

Druid Healing Glyphs


Glyph of Swiftmend - Swiftmend is an amazing instant heal, but who wants to blow global cool downs and mana replacing the heal over time spells it eats. As a liberal use panic button, you will want Swiftmend to come with as few strings attached as possible making this a great Glyph.

Glyph of Nourish - If you plan on doing any tank healing, you will be casting Nourish quite a bit and this Glyph is a huge bonus to those heals. If you are an endgame healer, you will want this Glyph.


Glyph of Wild Growth - Unless you do not raid, this Glyph takes up the third slot for most Restoration Druids. It will shine more in 25 man raids than in 10, but is a solid healing boost either way. Take this Glyph unless you have a strong reason to pick up one of the others.

Glyph of Lifebloom - If you are consistently rolling Lifeblooms up to a stack of three, you will see a slight return from this Glyph. Otherwise, certainly stay away.

Glyph of Regrowth - In those situations where this Glyph would be helpful, you should probably be casting Nourish instead. Unless you cast Regrowth more than you should, this Glyph is a waste of a slot.

Glyph of Rejuvenation - Odds are you will not want to rely on Rejuvenation to help out a target below 50% health, meaning the mileage you will get out of this Glyph is likely low.

Glyph of Innervate - If you are often hitting other targets with your Innervate, yet also somehow find yourself having mana problems, you lack judgment and this may be the Glyph for you.

Moonkin Glyphs


Glyph of Starfire - Any experienced Balance Druid knows that Moonfire's damage is really about the damage over time effect. Extending that effect with a spell you cast anyway both boosts your damage output and smooths out your rotation.

Glyph of Insect Swarm - With this Glyph, you can trade in a -3% chance to hit debuff for an extra 30% damage for the spell. That is one deal you do not want to leave on the table.


Glyph of Moonfire - As mentioned before, for sustained damage, Moonfire's initial impact takes a back seat to its DoT. This ability appreciably increases the total damage per Moonfire cast, but you may miss seeing those initial blasts. Take this Glyph if you are concerned about numbers and can stomach the change.

Glyph of Starfall - Being able to bust out this AoE superstar 30 seconds sooner obviously will not hurt, but you will likely get more mileage out of the Glyphs above.

Glyph of Focus - The Glyph provides a noticeable boost to Starfall's damage, but at the cost of having to cozy up to within 15 yards of your targets. If you are set on buffing Starfall, you would be better served to take the Glyph above instead.

These are certainly not all the Druid Glyphs available, only those which will provide you with the most overall benefit in PvE encounters. If you are interested in PvP, the essential Glyphs become less essential and you may want to consider the possibility of working Glyph of Barkskin, Glyph of Monsoon, or Glyph of Entangling Roots into your collection depending on your talents and play style.

As for Minor Glyphs, check out our Druid Minor Glyph Breakdown for advice on what you should take.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World of Warcraft New Dungeon System Unveiled

Today, Blizzard lifted the curtain on several of the details for its new Looking For Group (LFG) Dungeon system. Be sure to check out the Official New Dungeon System Preview on the World of Warcraft website for details.

The most noteworthy feature, and one which has been the buzz around Blizzard for some time now, is cross realm instancing. Using the new interface, players can be placed in an instance group with players from their Battlegroup rather than being limited to the pool of players on their server. To accommodate these groups, the system will also port players directly into their instances similar to how the Battleground system currently functions.

Among the more minor, but positive changes being introduced are the elimination of the three instance que cap, more intelligent automatic group formation, and a vote driven player kick system. There is also some controversy built into the LFG interface in the form of a new mandatory Need vs. Greed loot system and automatic disenchanting. The new Need vs. Greed system has irked Paladins, Druids, and Shaman in that it restricts Need rolls to class ideal armor types meaning Paladins can only need on Plate, Druids on Leather, and Shaman on Mail. The automatic DE feature, which is active whenever you are grouped with an Enchanter, has been stoutly opposed by a segment of the Enchanting population as a hijacking of their trade skill.

Ultimately, the new system seems like much more good than bad. Unfortunately, the fear of change ingrained in all World of Warcraft players will cause many to be blind to the improvements the new Dungeon interface brings to the table. This, my friends, is progress, like it or lump it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is Buying Gold a Violation of World of Warcraft's Terms of Use?

It has long been understood that Blizzard is opposed to companies who offer World of Warcraft power leveling services and sell World of Warcraft gold. That antipathy and the reasons underlying it were crystallized yesterday when Blizzard posted an article on the Negative Impacts of Buying Gold on the official World of Warcraft website. The question remains, however, are buying gold or using a power leveling service violations of World of Warcraft's Terms of Use?

Let me start by saying that I have never purchased gold or used a power leveling service. I actually enjoy leveling and playing the auction house, so I have never felt the need. It also likely does not help that I am outstandingly cheap and hold on to my money like you likely hold on to that "first epic" which has been sitting in your bank since you were a lowbie. I know players who have done both with good and bad experiences being reported. This discussion, however, is not about the ethics, merits, or safety of buying gold/power leveling, merely whether those actions appear to violate World of Warcraft's Terms of Use, last updated July 29, 2009, on its face.

Section 2(B) of the Terms of Use prohibits "exploiting the game... for any commercial purpose." This includes, but is not limited to gathering in game resources or providing in game services in exchange for payment outside the game. The World of Warcraft End User License Agreement contains an identical provision. This language expressly bars sale of in game currency and in game services, such as power leveling, but does not bar purchase. No other provision in either document even references these kinds of out of game transactions.

Though it does not specifically mention commercial transactions, the Code of Conduct contained in the Terms of Use may also, arguably, implicate gold and power level service purchasers. Section 9(C)(iii) of the agreement prohibits acts "Blizzard considers contrary to the 'essence' of the game." The recent article from Blizzard on Negative Impacts of Buying Gold as well the company's overt animus towards these services may demonstrate that, according to Blizzard, the act of supporting these rogue vendors is contrary to the game's "essence." The company has not, however, officially declared that position even though yesterday's article would have been the perfect opportunity to do so. It can then honestly be said that gold buying and power level service purchases do not expressly violate World of Warcraft's Terms of Use or End User License Agreement, but may theoretically run afoul of the agreements at Blizzard's discretion.

That, however, is not the end of the discussion. There is a lovely provision in the Terms of Use which states: "Blizzard may suspend, terminate, modify, or delete accounts at any time for any reason or for no reason, with or without notice to you." The End User License contains a similar section. This means that even absent a violation of the specific prohibitions contained in the document, you could still lose your World of Warcraft account if Blizzard so chose. As the document itself indicates, most suspensions and terminations are the result of Terms of Use or End User License violations and that seems to be Blizzard's practice, but such restrictions are not required under the language of the agreement.

In conclusion, purchasing gold or a power leveling service is not an overt contravention of World of Warcraft's Terms of Use, where as selling gold or offering a power leveling service certainly is. Despite this, Blizzard has a great deal of discretion in whether or not your character remains in Azeroth and the company certainly does not appreciate players using these vendors. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to use these services is not one to be made lightly and the best thing you can do is make sure you are adequately informed before you commit one way or the other.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

World of Warcraft Hallow's End Achievement Guide 2009

Below is a guide to completing all the Achievements for World of Warcrafts Hallow's End 2009. For a general guide on the holiday or more information, check out the World of Warcraft Hollow's End Guide 2009.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

To complete this seasonal meta-achievement and earn the title "The Hallowed," you will need to complete all the Achievements explored below.

Trick or Treat

This is the easiest achievement of the bunch. Go to a candy bucket in almost any World of Warcraft inn and accept/complete the quest it offers. No effort of any kind required for this one and you get some tasty candy to boot.

Bring Me the Head of... Oh Wait

The Headless Horseman is a seasonal boss which can be summoned in the Scarlett Monastery Graveyard in Tirisfal Glades during Hallow's End. Like Brewfest's Coren Direbrew, each player may summon the Horseman once per day using a daily quest obtainable in the instance. Any player level 75 or higher can summon him.

The Headless Horseman is incredibly easy to kill, so completing this achievement is simply a matter of finding a group. For level 80s, this is a piece of cake, especially early in the holiday when everyone is scrambling to complete the achievement and gather loot. Even from level 75 through 79, you are likely to be able to find a group willing to take you along as you bring a summon to the party. If you are in this range and have a hard time finding a group, try forming your own.

Below level 75, you will likely need to buy your way into a Headless Horseman group. As you do not have the ability to summon the Horseman before 75, you are dead weight for a group. It will then take some greasing of the wheels to get yourself the kill you need. Find some friends, charitable strangers, or open your pocket books if you want to finish this achievement before level 75.

That Sparkling Smile

All this achievement requires is a single Tooth Pick. These novelty items can be found in the Treat Bags you get from Trick or Treating at any World of Warcraft innkeeper once per hour. You can also find them in the Crudely Wrapped Gift you can loot once per day from the Large Jack-o'-Lantern left behind after thwarting the Headless Horseman's attacks on Goldshire, Azure Watch, Kharanos, Brill, Razor Hill, or Silvermoon City.

Tooth Picks are rather uncommon in both Treat Bags and Crudely Wrapped Gifts, so you will want to maximize your potential finds to complete this achievement. This requires completing the dailies each day and Trick or Treating as many times as you can. If you are diligent in doing your hourly Trick or Treat, you will almost certainly complete this achievement in time.

G.N.E.R.D. Rage

The G.N.E.R.D. buff referred to in the achievement is gained by eating G.N.E.R.D.S. candy. This candy is one of four different pieces of candy which can be found in the Handful of Candy rewarded whenever you complete the quest at the Buckets of Candy found in World of Warcraft's many inns. Each Handful of Candy can contain multiple G.N.E.R.D.S., making obtaining a supply for this achievement incredibly easy.

As for getting your honorable kills, simply make your way into Alterac Valley or any other Battle Ground. Keep popping G.N.E.R.D.S. whenever you resurrect and try to stay near the action. The achievement requires honorable kills, not killing blows, so you should be able to wrack up 50 in no time.

The Masquerade

Of all the Hallow's End achievements, this one will likely take the most work. The wands needed to cause the achievement's transformations can be found in both Treat Bags and Crudely Wrapped Gifts. Unfortunately, they cannot be used on yourself and can only be used to transform party members. As a result, you will need to rely entirely on other players to secure the transformations you need.

Absent having an army of helpful friends at your disposal, there is no simple way to complete this achievement. There are, however, two primary methods of getting the job done. First, you can simply buy the transformations you need. Many players harvest wands during Hallow's End and then sell the transformations to players working on the achievement for anywhere from 5 to 25 gold. If you have deep pockets and not a lot of time, this may be the way to go. You could also harvest your own wands by Trick or Treating and doing the daily and then trade your transformations with other players. This method may take longer, but costs nothing and should ultimately get the job done.

Keep in mind that Hallowed Wand - Random transformations do not count for the achievement. Also, you do not need to be transformed to get credit, the relevant wand simply needs to be used on you. This means that other transformations which might defeat the wand's effect will not prevent you from checking a particular wand off your achievement list.

Tricks and Treats of Azeroth

There is no trick to completing this achievement, it will just require some traveling. Hit the candy buckets at all the locations listed in Tricks and Treats of Eastern Kingdoms, Tricks and Treats of Kalimdor, and Tricks and Treats of Outland achievements to polish off this challenge. Do not forget that the Handful of Candy is unique meaning you will need to empty it between buckets. Also, if you want to hit Northrend's candy buckets as well, be sure to do it before working on this achievement due to a bug which Blizzard had yet to fix. Lastly, do not forget to save your G.N.E.R.D.S. if you have not completed G.N.E.R.D. Rage.

Out With It

Eating 5 or 6 pieces of candy from a Handful of Candy in a row will trigger the spew needed to complete this achievement. The Hallow's End Pumpkin Treats you get from doing the Hallow's End daily quests can also cause achievement completing vomit if consumed in excess. As a heads up, the candy from Trick or Treating's Treat Bags, such as Lollipops and Candy Bars, do not make you sick despite the fact they would seem to fit within the achievement's language. Stick to the buff candy and you will be puking in no time.

The Savior of Hallows End

To complete this achievement you will need to complete one of the quests given by the Masked Orphan Matron in Goldshire, Azure Watch, Kharanos, Brill, Razor Hill, or Silvermoon City. To complete the quests, simply use buckets of water obtained from the nearby basin to put out the fires the Headless Horseman starts every 15 minutes. If you are having trouble completing the quests, move to a more populated town as combined effort assures success. As long as all the fires are put out, it does not matter whether your character even participated. This is a simple achievement easily completed by players even at low levels.

Rotten Hollow/Rotten Hollow

For this achievement, you will have to complete two faction specific quests involving spoiling the other factions Hallow's End fun and possibly some PvP combat. For the Horde, visit Darkcaller Yanka west of the Undercity. He will send you on two quests to cause havoc in Southshore in Hillsbrad. Complete the quests and claim the achievement.

For the Alliance, speak with Sergeant Hartman in Southshore. He will have you clean up stink bomb debris in South Shore and will also send you on a quest to visit the Forsaken's Wickerman Festival which takes place due west of the Undercity in Tirisfal Glades. Do as he says and the achievement is yours. It really is as simple as that.

Check Your Head

To start this achievement, you will need to get your hands on some Weighted Jack-o'-Lanterns. You can get a steady supply of these by completing the daily Hallow's End quests in Goldshire, Azure Watch, Kharanos, Brill, Razor Hill, or Silvermoon City both as rewards for the quests themselves and inside Crudely Wrapped Gifts. The Headless Horseman also drops these in large numbers, so looting him a handful of times should give you all the ammunition you need to get the achievement.

To hit all your targets either hang around a major city like Dalaran or take to the Battle Grounds. To get credit for a hit, your target must not be in any way transformed and must also not already have a pumpkin head. Keep in mind that if you throw a Weighted Jack-o'-Lantern at a player who already has a pumpkin head or is otherwise transformed you will not get credit and your Weighted Jack-'o-Lantern will be wasted, so be careful if you have a limited supply.

Sinister Calling

If you are going for the Hallow's End meta-achievement, this achievement will likely cause you a great deal of stress between now and November 1st. Neither the Sinister Squashling nor the Hallowed Helm are easy to come by and you will need both. Each has a tiny, tiny chance of being found in a Treat Bag or Crudely Wrapped Gift, with the latter appearing to have a slightly better chance of containing one. So completing the dailies and Trick or Treating whenever possible are good ways to maximize your chances of landing this achievement. The Headless Horseman also drops both of these items somewhat rarely, but you will likely see at least one of the two most of your runs. Be sure to kill him each day if you are working on this achievement.

Though they are slightly buggy and somewhat unreliable, there are also a couple tricks which might help you with this achievement. When the Headless Horseman drops a Hallowed Helm, the player who wins the role will get credit for collecting the helm. They can then trade the helm to other group members who, upon logging out and back in, will usually also get credit for the achievement, though their have been some reports of this method failing, sometimes even the next day. A single Sinister Squashling drop can also meet two players achievement needs as the looting player often gets immediate credit for the achievement. When this occurs, they can then trade the pet to a group member to learn how to summon the pet, also triggering the achievement. Again, these methods are inconsistently effective and you would be best served to simply maximizing your opportunities for obtaining the items.

Other Hallows End Achievements:

Though NOT needed for the Hallowed be Thy Name and "the Hallowed" title, the following Achievements can also only be completed during Hallow's End:

The Mask Task

For this achievement, you simply need to loot a single mask from either a Treat Bag or a Crudely Wrapped Gifts. A daily quests or Trick or Treat attempt is all that is required to generate a chance at a mask. Any mask will do, so even the least dedicated of Hallow's End revelers should finish this achievement early on in the holiday. Once the achievement is completed, feel free to get rid of the mask without fear of losing your Achievement Points.

A Mask for All Occasions

This achievement was removed from the Hallowed be Thy Name Requirements this year and with good reason. To complete the achievement, you must collect all 20 of the different Hallow's End masks found in Treat Bags and Crudely Wrapped Gifts. What makes this extremely difficult is that the masks repeat and you can find the same mask multiple times during the course of the holiday.

To accomplish this feat, you will want to maximize your mask finding chances by religiously completing the holiday daily quests and Trick or Treating every hour. Only 20 Achievement Points are on the line, so many players will likely take a "if it happens, it happens" approach to this achievement. If, however, you are committed to doing it, it can certainly be completed in a single year. Also, no need to hold on to those masks as you go as your progress is permanently recorded when you loot them. This also means you can work on this achievement again next year should you intentionally or unintentionally come up short in 2009.

For more information, check out our World of Warcraft Hollow's End Guide 2009.

World of Warcraft Hallow's End Guide 2009

The pumpkins have been carved, the Headless Horseman has donned his spurs, and Hallow's End has arrived in Azeroth. Hallow's End is often set beside Brewfest and Winter Veil as one of World of Warcraft's most involved and popular holidays. There is a lot to do before the holiday ends on November 1, so it is easy to get overwhelmed and miss some of the opportunities the holiday has to offer. To help you sort through all the mayhem, below are some tips for getting the most out of Hallow's End. Reader beware, you are in for a scare!

Trick or Treating

Once every hour during Hallow's End, your character can "Trick or Treat" at any one of Azeroth's many inns. To take your chance at delicious treats, simply talk to an Innkeeper and select the "Trick or Treat" chat option. If you are lucky, you will get a treat in the form of a Treat Bag which can contain candy themed food, a random mask, a wand used to put costumes on your party members, or another more rare treasure such as a Tooth Pick, a Penny Pouch, a Sinister Squashling pet, or a Hallowed Helm. If you are unlucky, you will be tricked and transformed into one of a number of random creatures including a cat, bat, or ghost.

You will want to take advantage of as many opportunities to Trick or Treat as you can both to obtain fun items and to make progress on the various Hallow's End achievements. There is also profit to be made in that many players working on The Masquerade achievement will pay for needed wand costumes. Check out our separate Hallow's End Achievements Guide more information.

Candy Buckets

As part of Hallow's End, there are quest giving candy buckets in many Inn's across Azeroth. These buckets provide a quick turn in quest for a Handful of Candy with no travel required. The locations of Azeroth's buckets are listed in the Tricks and Treats of Eastern Kingdoms and Tricks and Treats of Kalimdor achievements. Outland's buckets are to be found in the locations listed in the Tricks and Treats of Outland achievement. There are also buckets available across Northrend, but they are not tied to an achievement and are currently bugged and therefore may not be accessible. The candies received from the quest provide stackable buffs to hit rating, spell power, and defense, but be sure not to eat to many at once or you will lose your lunch and your buffs.

These buckets are a boon to lower level players as the quest turn in at each bucket awards experience and, even in the upper 70s, dropping by all the inns can net you a relatively easy half a level. For level 80 players, unless you are chasing achievements or really want the buffs, which do stack with each other and other food buffs, you may not want to bother tracking them all down.

The Headless Horseman

One of the more exciting parts of Hallow's End is the season specific level 80 boss, the Headless Horseman. The Horseman is located in the Scarlett Monastery Graveyard in Tirisfal Glades and can be summoned once per day by any character level 75 or higher through a daily quest which can be picked up in the instance. On your first day doing him, you can summon him twice by thwarting the Horseman's efforts in Goldshire, Azure Watch, Kharanos, Brill, Razor Hill, or Silvermoon City by fighting fires as per the Costumed Orphan Matron's quests. You can do both that quest chain's summon and the daily summon on your first go around. Savvy players might use this day of double summons to participate in two Horseman Groups, giving you 10 or more shots at loot rather than just 6.

As for equipment, the Headless Horseman drops the Ring of Ghoulish Glee, The Horseman's Seal, the Wicked Witch's Band, The Horseman's Horrific Helm, and The Horseman's Baleful Blade. He also drops several Weighted Jack-o'-Lanterns which can be used for the Check Your Head achievement. Lastly, he has a smaller chance of dropping either a magic broom mount which can be ridden during the holiday, a Sinister Squashling pet, a Hallowed Helm, or even the Horseman's own mount through The Horseman's Reins.

The Headless Horseman is an incredibly easy kill. Even level 75 players should be able to survive the encounter without much difficulty. All you need to know strategy wise is that whenever the Horseman dismounts, shift all dps to his floating head. As long as your healer isn't afk, your tank picks up the adds, the ranged dps spreads out, and you burn the head, this fight is no challenge at all for even just three level 80 players. If you are over level 75, try to kill him everyday until you have the loot you desire. If you are not 80 and are having a hard time getting into groups, make one yourself.

Hallow's End Profit

For the entrepreneurial player, Hallow's End can be a very profitable time of year and it is all thanks to the achievement The Masquerade. To complete that achievement, a player must rely on other players to transform them using the different transformation wands found in Treat Bags and Crudely Wrapped Gifts. Many players are willing to pay between 5 and 25 gold per transformation. An army of alts camped at innkeepers who Trick or Treat once an hour can generate a healthy supply of wands, the charges from which can then be sold for a decent profit. Considering the wands are free, this is a pure gold making method that requires no investment and has absolutely no chance of loss. If you have time, the spirit of a salesman, and a handful of alts, Hollows End can be a great opportunity to expand your coffers.


Check out our separate World of Warcraft Hallow's End Achievement Guide 2009 to learn all you need to know to complete all of the Hallow's End Achievements.