Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where to Find 2 Handed Melee DPS Weapons?

Nothing makes plate dps happier than a shiny new two hand weapon loaded with Strength and ready to rock. Unfortunately, top of the line weapons fit for a dps Warrior, Paladin, or Death Knight are not easy to come by. To help out these hard hitting fiends, I have compiled a list of the best PvE plate dps two handers and where to find them. The weapons are ordered in terms of item level.

Colossal Skull-Clad Cleaver: Loken in Heroic HoL
Death's Bite: Kel'Thuzad in Naxx 10
Stormedge: Hordir in Ulduar 10
Betrayer of Humanity: Kel'Thuzad in Naxx 25
World Carver: Ignis in Ulduar 25

Demise: Heigan in Naxx 10
Titansteel Destroyer: Blacksmithing Crafted BoE
Inevitable Defeat: Random Trash Drop in Naxx 25
The Jawbone: Maexxna in Naxx 25
Ironsoul: Flame Leviathan in Ulduar 10
Earthshaper: Yogg-Saron in Ulduar 25
Hammer of Crushing Whispers: Yogg-Saron in Ulduar 10 (hard mode)

Greatsword of the Sin'dorei: Tournament Reward (Horde)
Claymore of the Prophet: Tournament Reward (Alliance)
Armageddon: Four Horsemen in Naxx 25
Abaddon: Yogg-Saron in Ulduar 10
Rune Edge: The Assembly of Iron in Ulduar 25
Aesir's Edge: Xt-002 Deconstructor in Ulduar 10 (hard mode)
Voldrethar, Dark Blade of Oblivion: General Vezax in Ulduar 25 (hard mode)

I left off Polearms because there is not a single Polearm over item level 200 that has even a drop of Strength on it. I also trimmed out the exclusively Agility laden weapons in the above categories to get you straight to the good stuff.

For those of you with an eye to the future, here are the only Strength centric two hand PvE weapons you will be able to get your hands on in the Crusaders' Coliseum when 3.2 drops:

Edge of Ruin: Trial of the Champion (Heroic)
Justicebringer/Dual-Blade Butcher: Trial of the Grand Crusader (Normal and Heroic)

Good luck!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Classic Video: Here Without You

Here is a dusty video from the World of Warcraft vault. The film is a very well executed tale about love, loss, and the undead. If you have ever had the desire to feel sympathy for the Foresaken, this video should do the trick. Do not worry, the sound takes a little while to kick in.

For the more emotional viewers, you may want to have a tissue ready. Well done Dimoroc.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Devolution of PvP

I was trolling the forums this afternoon when I came across a rather interesting thread about the changes in PvP from Vanilla Warcraft to now. The original poster, Legz from Skullcrusher, wanted to know why fewer players take PvP seriously today than back before Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. The posts that followed drifted around the question and, although there were some interesting responses, few followups actually addressed the questions posed. I will attempt to do so here.

Back when Warcraft was young, PvP combat was only about two things: pride and fun. There was no honor system of any kind until patch 1.4 and the first battle grounds were not in place until patch 1.5. Players engaged in PvP because they enjoyed it and to build up personal notoriety on their servers. Even once rewards were implemented in Vanilla WoW, attaining them was more a matter of status than performance. The rewards were good and exceptionally shiny, but not by any means necessary for rocking other players.

In the shadow of Burning Crusade and again in Wrath of the Lich King the honor system grew more complex and due to mechanical tweaks PvP loot became both more distinct from PvE gear as well as necessary for PvP performance. PvP equipment was no longer a status symbol, but was instead a means to an end, a key to the gates of "endgame PvP." This transformed most PvP into a gear grind and established a system in which only those who had completed the gear grind were truely "competing." This transformed all group PvP except top arena competition and duels into the equivalent of PvE PuGs.

This devolution has left the majority of World of Warcraft players in a spot where winning in PvP is only important in that it shortens the grind needed to gear up for more "serious" PvP. Only a select few finish the grind and ever get to the point where taking things seriously provides any more returns than mindless que and spew. That is why few players take PvP seriously any more, and I honestly cannot blame them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Warcraft Movie Details

Blizzard issued a press release this morning revealing some of the details for a live action Warcraft movie which will eventually be entering production. Check out the official press release here.

The major announcement was the selection of Sam Raimi to direct the film. Sam Raimi's directorial highlight reel includes The Evil Dead, as well as the Spiderman series. Though he has not directed a fantasy picture, he has produced fantasy driven television shows such as and Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He also was publicly interested in directing the upcoming movie to be based on The Hobbit, but the job went to Guillermo del Toro instead.

One concern about the selection of Raimi is his involvement in Spiderman 4 which will be entering production in March of 2010. This means it will likely be quite some time before fans will see Warcraft on the big screen. Regardless, Raimi is clearly capable of taking deep, lore based source material and turning it into something everyone can be happy with (Spiderman). Here's hoping he doesn't drop the ball (Spiderman 3).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Triple Specs on the Horizon

In a thread posing some design questions to resident WoW developer Ghostcrawler it was revealed that Blizzard has no intentions of expanding the functionality of the Dual Specialization feature to include additional specs. Check out the thread here. The occasionally coy Blizzard poster opined that spec is supposed to be a long term commitment and not akin to swapping gear.

I am a huge fan of Dual Specializations. Anyone who spends any significant amount of time in the looking for group channel knows that filling every role in a budding group can be a huge pain in the neck. If each hybrid class you recruit can fill two different roles, it makes assembling a pick up group all the easier. It also allows dedicated role classes the chance to spec for PvP and PvE meaning the inconvenience and expense of a respec is never a limiting factor in terms of what content a player chooses to engage.

Even while being grateful for the new feature, in the back of my mind I secretly wanted more. My Druid and Paladin couldn't help but imagine a World of Warcraft in which they could heal, dps, and tank all without a respec. Unfortunately it seems as though additional specialization tabs are simply not to be. Isn't the investment of time and resources needed to cultivate an entirely new armor set a sufficiently "long term comitment" to a particular spec? I would say yes. Consider me slightly disappointed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Classic Video: C'Thun

Below is a clip from the end of Ahn'Quiraj: The Movie. It is basically a bunch of clips of the C'Thun boss encounter set to relatively bearable techno music. I would put up the whole movie, but certain parts of the early soundtrack can cause errors for Windows users. If you have not had the pleasure of completing AQ40, his video will definitely give you a taste of just how epic the instances final encounter was. You've got to love the Old Gods.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Real Final Boss for Trial of the Crusader?

In my post 3.2 PTR Now Open, I speculated that forces of the Lich King would derail the Trial of the Crusader, the new 10/25 man raid to be released in 3.2. With Anub'Arak now available for public testing it is official that the instance involves more than the beasties gathered by the Crusaders. Check out a video of the famous Crypt Lord taken from the PTR below:

Feel free to call me paranoid, but I am fairly confident that Blizzard still has at least one Ace in its collective 3.2 sleeve. As interesting as Anub'Arak is lore wise, the encounter seems to lack a certain something players have come to expect from an raid instance's final boss. Also, the encounter is currently far too easy and though I am certain that will change before release, I doubt that even a beefed up Anub'Arak is the greatest challenge the Trial of the Crusader or Trial of the Grand Crusader has to offer. It would also be rather odd for Blizzard to introduce a challenge related super raid boss in 3.1 (Algalon) and then not do the same in 3.2.

My prediction: There will be another unlockable raid boss in the Trial of the Crusader and/or Trial of the Grand Crusader instances beyond Anub'Arak. If I had to guess, end-game raiders would be wise to study up on Faceless Ones.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Druid Class Q & A Drops

Blizzard has continued its class based Question and Answer series by turning its sites on Druids. Check out the Druid Q & A here.

To give a quick overview of the information provided, I thought it might be helpful to separate the more interesting tidbits by what they reveal about the past, present, and future of each Druid role.

The Past

In terms of the history of the Druid class, Restoration has been the only spec to maintain endgame PvE viability since release. Bear tanks joined them in Burning Crusade with kitty dps pouncing into the party in Wrath of the Lich King. Balance Druids made great strides in Burning Crusade and have continually improved in terms of endgame PvE performance, but they have still yet to find a solid place to call their own.

As for PvP, although Feral has always been a viable option, Restoration became king with the advent of Burning Crusade and never left its throne. Though Balance has gained many PvP tools during the evolutions which preceded the release of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, things have never quite come together the way the developers and players would like.

The Present

The Q & A highlighted several strengths and weaknesses for the Druid class as it exists today. In terms of strengths, Feral dps and tanking roles are both well defined and viable. Though kitty dps is complicated, it is hitting a nice target and fills the needs of players desiring a more involved dps role. Bears are also tanking on par with other tanking classes. Restoration Druids are also excelling, able to fill a wide range of PvE healing roles and hold their own in the Arena.

As for weaknesses, Balance rotations have become boring as a result of the similarities between Wrath and Starfire and Eclipse not cutting the mustard in terms of keeping things interesting. Moonkins are also generally poor performers in PvP. Restoration Druids are apparently spending too much time in Tree of Life Form. Additionally, though the developers are largely happy with Tranquility and Healing Touch, they are not especially pleased with the spells' prominence in the Restoration talent tree.

The Future

In terms of changes, Balance Druids were presented as being the most in need of some help. Unfortunately, it also seemed as though very little changes were on the way. Though there were some hints at shaking up the Moonkin rotation, the developers seem to have no clear road map for making that happen. Some more prominent distinction will ultimately be made between Wrath and Starfire, but it remains to be seen what form that distinction will take. Also, Moonkin PvP survivability needs fixed, but Blizzard doesn't want to simply retool mage spells and doesn't have the time to create something unique. Oh well.

Restoration Druids will likely find themselves shaken out of Tree of Life Form in the distant future. Though Blizzard seems committed to having the form in the game, they do not like that there is little to no incentive for Resto Druids to be in caster form. Possible fixes included beefing up the form and putting it on a cooldown or splitting healing spells between Tree of Life and Caster forms. It is also likely that some PvP nerfs might be hitting Resto in the foreseeable future.

Feral Druids seem to be in a relatively good spot as far as the developers are concerned. Bear survivability will be high in 3.2 and cat form is performing as intended in both PvP and PvE. Likely no significant Feral changes will be coming down the pipe any time soon.

More generally speaking, throughout the entire interview, Ghostcrawler frequently bemoaned the fact that Druids are not shifting often enough and hinted that mana free and perhaps global cooldown free shifts might ultimately be the solution. There were also hints that new art for Travel Form and Aquatic Form may be in the works. Blizzard also intends to stay the course in terms of itemization and keep all Druids in leather whenever possible.

All in all, the Q & A was interesting and promising for everyone except Balance Druids. Here's hoping the future isn't quite as dire for Moonkins as it may seem.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trial of the Champion Loot List

World of Raids has released a full loot list for Trial of the Champion, the five man dungeon component of the Crusaders' Coliseum to be released in World of Warcraft Patch 3.2. Check it out to see all the shiny new epics to be found in both the heroic and regular versions of this three boss encounter.

Some of the more interesting looking pieces include Aledar's Battlestar, Edge of Ruin, Mariel's Sorrow, Marrowstrike, and Peacekeeper Blade. Mask of Distant Memory earns honors as being the most ridiculous looking head piece since the Reinforced Velvet Helm. In terms of utility, tank trinket The Black Heart is turning some heads. Not bad for a regular five man drop!

As shiny as these new pieces of loot are, the piles of Champion's Seals you will build up running even the normal version of this instance will certainly shine more. Sorry Black Knight, but I foresee much doom in your future.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hot Video: Edys Darkbane and Fjola Lightbane Loot

Though U.S. testing of Lord Jaraxxus may have been derailed by technical troubles, twin Val'kyr Edyis Darkbane and Fjola Lightbane have hit the PTR in Europe. Check out a video from Affenjungs below to get a sneak peek at the encounter:

I was also able to scrounge up a loot table for the Val'kyr in an MMO Champion Thread complete with links to view weapon and armor models. Some of the particularly impressive models on the Horde side are the Twins Pact staff, Lightbane Focus offhand, and the Edge of Agony 2 handed sword. The top pieces of Alliance eye candy are the Twin Spike dagger, the Chalice of Benedictus offhand, the Enlightenment staff, The Diplomat gun, and the Reckoning 2 handed sword. Taking the awards for most bizarre models are the matching moon emblem healms for the Horde's Helm of the High Mesa and the Alliance's Helm of the Snowy Grotto.

So far the Alliance loot models seem more attractive and interesting than those on the Horde side, but the Crusaders' Colliseum still has plenty of love to give. Here's hoping things will get ironed out on the U.S. PTR soon and there is more loot to be seen in the next couple days.

World of Warcraft Peggle

In a moment of boredom yesterday, I decided to give the trial World of Warcraft Edition of PopCap's Peggle game a try. I have never played the original Peggle and likely never will, but I do tend to enjoy PopCap's games so I figured it was worth a shot. You can download the free trial of Peggle: World of Warcraft Edition here.

The concept of Peggle is relatively simple. You take a limited number of ball bearings and pop them one by one out of a chute at the top of the screen which you can aim left and right. Scattered about the play field below are little "pegs" which your ball will light up and bounce off of. Once your ball drops off the bottom of the screen, the pegs you activated disappear and you continue playing until you run out of balls or you erase all the red pegs on the level. There are special pegs strewn about with game altering effects and both completion and high score chasing keep you coming back for more. The end effect is something of a hybrid between pinball, Arcanoid, and a pachinko machine.

The free download lets you roll through ten full levels of peg clearing goodness and is certainly worth a look. The Blizzard artwork is nice, but if you expect the World of Warcraft tie in to be anything but cosmetic, you might be disappointed. The "story" is atrocious, but the game did not really need a story in the first place. The game's aesthetics are enjoyable especially the super slow mo that kicks on when you are gunning for the last peg and the over the top ending sequence. One or two of the levels err a bit on the side of frustrating (stupid goblin airship....), but most play well. Also, though the pin locations on each level are set, the assortment of red, generic, and specialty pins is randomized so there is some replay value.

If you are like me, it will be unlikely you will get much more than an hour of play out of Peggle: World of Warcraft Edition, but that is certainly enough to warrant paying the download's $0.00 price tag. Even if you do not enjoy WoW Peggle, if the game draws a lot of traffic it may spur future collaberations between Blizzard and PopCap and that can be nothing but a good thing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Warcraft Instance Lock Extension Feature

Blizzard has just announced a new feature to be released in World of Warcraft Patch 3.2: Instance Lock Extensions. With the feature, a player will have the option of foregoing daily or weekly instance resets on a periodic basis. The feature is controlled exclusively on an individual level rather than being raid or instance based. This means if you want to take multiple weeks to push through a single clear of Ulduar, you can prevent the reset on a week by week basis. Check out the official announcement thread here.

This is a novel feature and it will be interesting to see how it is put to use. I would imagine it will not be extensively utilized for its intended purpose. For a guild hoping to extend its progression, gear more often than time is the limiting factor. Suspending an instance reset simply prevents a gear building charge through an instance's early bosses. Sure, fighting those bosses each week is redundant, but it does build the gear base and raid cohesion necessary to topple later bosses.

As an example, a guild fresh out of Naxxramas will have very little chance clearing Ulduar in a single pass regardless of how much time they are given. Ulduar's final bosses are only feasible with a cushion of early Ulduar gear already saturating the raid. As a result, it seems as though progression oriented guilds would be better served to allow periodic resets to happen. There is however room for reasonable minds to disagree.

It would then seem to me that the raid lock extension option is more likely to be used as tool for griefing and exploits than for its intended purpose, but I am still glad that Blizzard is evolving World of Warcraft's feature set. I guess we will all need to wait and see how this new tool is put to use.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fewer Rewards for 2v2 Bracket

Blizzard has announced that in Arena Season 7, the 2v2 bracket will no longer be a ticket to all Arena rewards. More specifically, Season 7 Arena weapons, shoulders, and titles may only be unlocked through 3v3 or 5v5 Arena matches. Check out the official announcement thread here.

Reactions have been mixed thus far, but have leaned appreciably towards the negative. The Arena weapons and shoulders are far and away the best and hardest to attain pieces of PvP gear available. Several 2v2 aficionados have gone so far as to argue that only allowing access to the other pieces is a meaningless token. Obviously, these arguments are false and merely an attempt to get the shoulders and weapons back, but a segment of the player base is certainly fired up. The only legitimate arguments on that front have come from Death Knight and Druid tanks who value the PvP weapons for PvE and want to be able to equip themselves for instances without becoming top tier Arena players.

Aside from those who obsess over the arena titles, few can argue that this approach is not an improvement over Blizzard's original plan. At first, Blizzard had asserted the 2v2 bracket in Season 7 would not unlock any gear and only titles. Though it is natural for exclusively 2v2 players to want everything, the new plan is clearly an improvement over the old.

I think this change to arena rewards is largely a cop out on Blizzards part. Though it is true that there are severe balance problems in the 2v2 bracket, rather than neutering the rewards, Blizzard should fix the problems. Though I can appreciate that fixing those issues is not an easy task, this change simply recognizes the issues and attempts to put Blizzard in a position where they never need to be fixed. It is the equivalent of Blizzard lowering the quality of the loot in the Crusaders' Coliseum after 3.2 drops because the bosses turn out to be exploitable. Obviously I am hopeful that Blizzard ultimately fixes the bracket and restores the rewards, but I am far from optimistic.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tier 9 Reveal a Disappointment

Blizzard revealed some of the models for the tier 9 gear which will be found in the Crusaders' Colliseum drops in Patch 3.2. Unfortunately, things are not looking good. Check out the official reveal page here to judge for yourself.

In a nutshell, players are up in arms because it appears as though Blizzard's plan to make the gear vary across faction lines has resulted in little appreciable difference between the models for individual classes. Just look at the Alliance Warlock, Priest, and Mage sets below:




I think the images speak for themselves. Poor form Blizzard.