May 8, 2009

Patch 3.1 Shaman Gear P4

One of the interesting things about new content is the transitional period as you clear the new bosses and start gearing up. Pictured alongside today's column is an illustration of that process, as Tier 7 blends into Tier 8 and Calamity's Grasp is paired with Vulmir.

Myself, I've mostly been screaming "Why won't you drop" again, as I so often do (I have terrible loot luck) at various healing rings, trinkets, necks, and shields. Having recently healed my first 25 man since I switched from resto to elemental in SSC, I've also found that I hate spirit with a passion.

Why there has been no effort to make spirit more useful for shamans as casters or healers, I can't tell you, because it's on every freaking thing. Yes, it helps on mana regeneration out of combat and if you can take five seconds in combat, but otherwise it's totally useless for shamans.

Doesn't increase spell power or crit or do anything, really, just sits there like a less effective version of MP5. (And at least at my current gear and comfort level for healing, I don't spend a lot of time standing around not casting healing spells unless I'm forced to by the dreaded OOM.) Every time I see a healing weapon with spirit on it I want to go back in time and stab myself. I don't know what that would accomplish, exactly, but that's how much I hate spirit. I'd really like to see a talent in either mid-level elemental or restoration (resto would be better, and if it was fairly low in the tier elemental could pick it up too) that made spirit actually useful for shamans, but I'm not holding my breath.This is why I almost always wait for a shield instead of picking up a spell offhand.

And now, on to our show, looking at the items that as of now we know about in Ulduar.

First off, I'm convinced there are a lot more shields to come. We're already seeing new weapons since the last time we discussed Ulduar gear, I'm sure new shields are coming too. For now, we have three contenders to discuss.

Pulsing Spellshield - Yes, the spellpower is too low. Way, way too low. I've read that on the PTR it has 73 spellpower and not 37, so if it drops, bank it for the future. Although to be honest, even with 73 spell power, it's really not a terribly compelling upgrade over the Voice of Reason from 25 man Naxx. (Then again, the VoR is a Kel'Thuzad drop, he drops iLevel 226 items and this shield is ilevel 219.) Once the stats are corrected, however, this shield will definitely be an upgrade from the Aegis of Damnation, which also drops in a 10 man instance and as such is more comparable. Until they fix that spellpower, however, this isn't worth getting unless you need the stam for a particular fight. This drops from XT - 002 in normal mode.

Ice Layered Barrier - this is one of the nicest shield options for a resto shaman in Ulduar. It compares very favorably to the Voice of Reason, with a slightly different spread of stats favoring mana regen over crit and with a touch more haste. However, while it's a very nice shield with a iLevel of 226, at this point it is probably significantly harder to get than the VoR, since it drops from normal Hodir on hard mode. (Then again, we're already seeing reports of hard mode boss kills, so maybe I'm just being a grouch.)

Wisdom's Hold - And here we have the shield all elemental and restoration shamans are going to want. With a socket for flexibility and comparable to superior stats to VoR (less crit, a LOT more haste, and a whopping 1 SP more) I do think that it could be buffed somewhat for a 25 man hard mode drop. Frankly, the massive stamina over other stats concerns me. Yes, there's a lot of AoE damage in some Ulduar fights, but I still think this would be an excellent shield with 10 or 20 of that stamina converted to spell power or crit. Then again, it's an excellent shield now. I'm still of the opinion it could use a touch more spell power.


Remember my rant about spirit? Several of the rings in Ulduar are just loaded with the icky stuff. Still, there are non-spirit options that I'll discuss in more depth (and then I'll just list the other caster rings). My suggestion is to let the priests, mages, druids and I think warlocks fight over the spirit rings.

However, let's not forget that enhancement shamans exist. Since we just talked caster shields, we'll now switch gears and discuss the ring options for them first.

Band of Draconic Guile - 129 AP on a ring isn't bad at all. The haste scales with Maelstrom Weapon, allowing you more chances for an instant cast LB, so all in all I'd call it a solid choice for enhancement. However, I might still prefer the next ring over it, assuming I couldn't get both. This ring drops from Razorscale in normal mode.

Loop of the Agile - It's a higher iLevel than the Band, which means it's probably a hard mode drop from Iron Council. (iLevel 226) More AP, with crit rating instead of ArP (I know they buffed ArP for shamans but with magic damage coming in from Maelstrom I like a stat that can help with that too) and a gem socket.

Bladebearer's Signet - This zone drop from heroic Ulduar has one reason I'm even mentioning it, since it's a STR ring and thus poorly itemized for an enhancement shaman (we only get one AP from str now, so a str ring usually will have half the AP for a shaman that an agi/AP ring will) - that large amount of expertise. Even with the new Unleashed Rage granting expertise, it's not a very often seen stat on mail gear aside from enhancement tier sets, so if you're low keep this ring in mind. There's also Sif's Promise, but I'm already risking getting you killed by every warrior, DK and paladin in the universe as it is. When looking at expertise rings, please always consider if it's a strength or agi/AP ring, and if it's the former it's probably best to pass to strength loving classes just so you can make the argument that you should get priority on Vulmir.

Godbane's Signet - Now, this ring? This ring is exactly what you're looking for in an expertise ring. You will of course be fighting with rogues over it, not much you can do about that, but at least the strength classes won't try and poison your milkshake over it. This is a Yogg-Saron drop in 25 man.

Cindershard Ring - Heroic Ignis drops this ring, with good agi and AP and hit rating as well as ArP. Even with Maelstrom jacking up our magical damage, we do a lot of bashing and chopping, and armor does tend to hinder our efforts there.

Metallic Loop of the Sufferer - With haste for Maelstrom stacking, crit, Agi and AP this is a solid ring for enhancement. (To a degree, when a ring is really good, there's not much else to say after a while.) This ring drops from General Vezax in 25 man.

What about casters, you say? I say behold the Frozen Loop. Hit, haste and spell power for your demanding elemental shaman. You can loot this from the Cache of Winter after defeating Hodir in 25 man. The only other option for an elemental shaman (who, after all, doesn't want spirit or even MP5 on his or her rings, since mana regen isn't the main concern for them and they have no talents that make any offensive use of spirit) would be the Pyrelight Circle from 25 man Ignis.

If you're doing 10 man content exclusively, elemental shamans, you're probably going to have to eat some spirit (at least until more rings are discovered). If it makes you feel any better, 10 man resto shamans are in the same basic boat for now. The best healing ring for shamans in 10 man Ulduar is the Fire Orchid Signet, which drops from Freya 10 hard mode. With stats befitting an iLevel 226 item and a gem socket, elemental shamans might even want to suck up the MP5 because at least it's not spirit.

In 25 man content, resto shamans will have the Radiant Seal from heroic Iron Council and the Ring of the Faithful Servant from heroic Auriaya. (And if you're okay on MP5 the Pyrelight Circle's not bad at all for resto either.)

Okay, next week we may take a break from Ulduar (we've been discussing the gear here for weeks now and we're not even half done and there's more stuff we don't even know about yet, so it's not like it's going anywhere) and instead we'll shift gears to talk about Flametongue Weapon, Frozen Power, and Enhancement shamans since 3.1 came out. Unless we don't. I like to keep you guessing. There's also this alarming post and blue response to consider.

So much for Children's Week

So, WoW Children's Week came and went, and for the most part I think it went by largely unnoticed. Aside from the first few days where Battlegrounds were overrun with orphans -- a truly disturbing thought if you stop to think about it -- most people pretty much completed the Children's Week meta-Achievement on the first day. In theory, this was one of those holidays that had the potential to screw players over with Daily Chores, which required players to complete a daily quest every day for five consecutive days. That would've meant that anyone unable to log on for 24 hours would have to wait until the next year to complete the Achievement. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), the Achievement bugged out and players were able to complete it in one day.

Admittedly, as much as I disliked the design principle of the School of Hard Knocks -- I still think it didn't give a good impression of the Battlegrounds to new players -- a lot of people got the Achievement within a day or two. By mid-week, it was back to normal again. Which meant that in my Battlegroup, Horde weren't playing Alterac Valley again. If there was anything good about the School of Hard Knocks, virtually every Battleground started with even numbers every time. Never mind that most of them were recklessly endangering their wards and couldn't care less about winning, but even numbers are always a good start!

Anyway, how did WoW Children's Week go for you guys? Did you get everything you wanted? Pets? Items? Did you complete the Achievement? Was it difficult, easy, or not even worth bothering with? Share your thoughts on what is arguably the most lackluster yearly event yet. I mean, where were the orphans in Northrend? Surely it wouldn't have been too hard to make quests for little Wolvar or maybe Frenzyheart and Oracle children, would it? Maybe next year?

First WoW Minis expansion: Spoils of War

Upper Deck has released the first expansion to the WoW minis game, called Spoils of War. The new set of figures introduces legendary lore figures like Jaina and Kael'thas into the mix, and they can now jump onto the gameboard with player characters and duke it out in the streamlined Arena-style turn-based battles. The new set also contains Action Bar cards, which can modify your characters and party's abilities before a battle (like casting a Wrath of Air totem to modify all of your team's die rolls). And finally, the new expansion also brings items into the mix, so there's one more medium in which you can wield Sulfuras, the Hand of Ragnaros. (And no, unfortunately, real life isn't one... yet.)

The new set is available in booster packs at a hobby and collectible store near you -- the MSRP is about $14.99, but they'll probably be around for cheaper than that eventually, if they're not already. If you're a regular player of the minis game, it sounds like it'll be a must-have addition, and if you've never picked it up before, maybe the prospect of playing some of the more famous lore figures will get you interested.

MMOUI Minion is coming

With all this talk about the Curse client and WoWMatrix, it's easy to forget that another major player is entering the scene soon (™): MMOUI Minion, from the people at WoWInterface. According to the FAQ for the forthcoming client, the target date for open beta testing is May 17, 10 days from today.

Here are some salient points about Minion:

Will work on Windows, Mac and Linux. Has an option to auto-update, set to "off" by default. There will be a premium version, but the only difference will be that premium users don't see ads. In contrast to the Curse client, the non-premium version of Minion is not crippled, and will have an update-all button and full download speed. If an author enables donation requests, they will show up in the updater. Most interesting to me is the module system that the client will support. There's going to be an API in Minion so that anyone who wants to can write plug-in modules; for instance, Curse could write a module that would let Minion users update addons from Curse in Minion. They could show their own ads, and make their own decisions about whether to enable/disable "premium" features for the module. Security concerns for third-party modules are addressed here.

WoWInterface is asking that feedback be left on their MMOUI Minion forum. Without having used it, all I can say is the UI looks a little iffy (somewhere between Curse and Matrix in quality, in my opinion) - for instance, Mac apps don't generally have menus under a window's title bar. Anyway, I'm looking forward to giving it a spin, and kudos to the WoW Interface team for not crippling their free client.

Blizzard cinematic team appears at Chapman University

Nick Markham is a student at Chapman University , and he recently dropped us a tip about something special that happened there. Chapman University is fairly close to Blizzard's Irvine headquarters, which could be why they were able to take the time to drop by. One of their film classes had a treat when six members of the Blizzard cinematic team came by to give a three hour presentation about what they do, how they do it, and other miscellaneous film-related issues. So what's the news?

The most crushing news is another confirmation that we shouldn't expect to ever see a gnome in an official World of Warcraft cinematic. The quote from Jeff Chamberlain, the director of the cinematic team, is "Not if I can help it!" Apparently, while gnomes are arguably one of the coolest races in WoW, the director doesn't feel that they're "epic" enough. I can see that viewpoint, I guess, but that just means we'll have to rely on Baron Soosdon to brings us the gnome love.

The Wrathgate animation, of course, was a significant topic. According to Nick's report, the cinematic team and Blizzard both consider Wrathgate to be a complete success. We should expect to see a new, similar animated event with each significant content patch, though it's going to take a little bit to get that going.
As for machinima, the presenters said they are continually impressed by the work fan machinimators produce. There was even a time when they wanted to publish a tool to help machinima creators, but that was unfortunately unable to come to fruition. The idea had been to build something like a Map Editor, or even an official WoW Model Viewer, but since the project never completed, we may never know.

There were a few hints about the World of Warcraft movie, though not a lot of details since the cinematic team isn't directly involved with it. Metzen's writing it, and the movie will not be about Arthas. However, the panel confirmed that Legendary Pictures will do the CGI and special effects. That's not outside speculation we've seen already, but it's pretty nice to have confirmation.

Finally, apparently there are going to be openings on the cinematic team. What's more, the team will be showing off some kind of new animation at the upcoming BlizzCon. They'll also be there, and might be looking to meet members of the machinima community. Machinima creators might want to shine up their pixels, as it were, if they're looking for an audition with the team.

All in all, it sounds like the presentation was pretty neat. It was definitely worth the time, and it whets my appetite for what we might start hearing about upcoming BlizzCon news.

Edit: Changed "Anaheim" to "Irvine." I guess I'm too excited about BlizzCon!

May 7, 2009

Mountain Dew Game Fuel website revealed, counting down

We announced Mountain Dew Game Fuel quite awhile ago now, but it wasn't until recently that we've seen the official Game Fuel website. As you can see in the picture above, when you visit the site you're greeted with a countdown. The countdown says you can 'start earning tokens' when the countdown hits 0, which I assume means we'll be able to get our grubby nerd hands on the soda itself in just under 9 days. Unless they have some odd, magical way of gaining tokens beyond buying and drinking Game Fuel.

Players with any interest in PC gaming or WoW swag at all will be pretty impressed with who they have on board for the prizes they'll supposedly be giving away every 15 minutes. J!NX handles most of the official WoW clothing, and Alienware... well, I've never actually used an Alienware product, but at least their stuff looks cool. That's a good thing, right?

So far there's no evidence of those battle bots we saw being attached to the Game Fuel at all on that website, but there's that whole convoluted saying that's become so cliche over the years. The absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. We don't see it yet, but we may yet see it.

[Thanks, Jeztur!]

Two more WoW-related iPhone apps off the App Store

Blizzard has laid the legal smackdown on two more WoW-related iPhone apps. As Double Bubble reports, both Warcraft Chest and WoW Realm Status have bit the dust, most likely after Blizzard's legal department sent them a cease-and-desist (that's what recently happened to the popular Warcraft Characters app). We don't know for sure that Blizzard went after them, but considering that Warcraft Chest was completely free, there can't be that many other reasons why it's not on the App Store any more.

It's still not clear yet either why Blizzard is doing this -- originally, since they started off going after only paid applications, it was plausible that they just didn't want other people profiting off of their game (similar to the new addon policy). But they've taken down both free and paid apps here so far, and Double Bubble also has a list of both free and paid addons still up. At this point, we have to wonder what Blizzard's real intentions are here -- they're squashing valuable resources that fans have made and are giving away for free. If they were planning an Armory or realm status app of their own, that's one thing, but the only reason we can see so far is that their legal department has decided to act against the company's own loyal fans for their own interests. Not a great strategy for encouraging customer loyalty.

And what about sites like Wowhead or the Firefox realm status addon? Why is Blizzard only targeting helpful applications on the iPhone? We can only guess that Blizzard will eventually go after the rest of the apps on the App Store, so if you're working on one or planning to release one soon, guess you might want to think again about how that time might be better spent.

Fourth volume of Warcraft: Legends manga revealed

Medievaldragon over at has a nice exclusive for fans of the on-going Warcraft: Legends manga. Volume four is out on June 9th and he's posted the cover art and ten pages for you to drool over.

Even better this volume promises contributions from Dan Jolley (who I recently interviewed), Arthas-authoress Christie Golden and, of course, Richard Knaak himself.

I'm a huge fan of the manga and read it avidly so I'm especially keen to find out what happens to poor old Trag. Indeed, that's possibly the best part of this preview as it shows ten pages from the Trag-centric, Knaak authored story 'Fate'. I think this just made my day. However for those needing a Bloodsail Buccanneers fix, Medievaldragon also posted some concept sketches for you to enjoy!

Oh and if you've not caught it already, don't forget to check out our interview with series editor Troy Lewter.

May 6, 2009

Encrypted Text: Tips for Rogues in 2v2

An old friend approached me last week with the prospect of playing some 2v2 arena with his mage, who had recently hit level 80. Luckily his rolls are amazingly gifted, and he already had a pretty nice set of gear to play with. I equipped my Sinister Revenge and switched one of my dual specs to Mutilate, and that night we entered the arena to play as one of my favorite comps (behind Rogue+Rogue of course!).

Because of my high ratings in Season 5, we were instantly matched against 2000+ players in our very first games. While 2000 isn't quite 'Gladiator' status yet, we were definitely playing teams with some experience under their belts. I had a great time playing, as it was my first set of arena games since the end of Season 5. Mage & Rogue is a comp with some very potent synergy, and a fast-paced playstyle that brings out the best in our class.

When I first started Season 5, I was playing with a Holy Paladin partner. Our goal was to run the opposing team out of mana while using our defensive cooldowns to prolong a match. What a switch when playing Mage & Rogue! Most of our fights are over in 60 seconds or less, unless something has gone terribly wrong. This bursty style of play seems to favor quick damage over all else, but in reality it's not about the damage.

Crowd Control:
Rogues in 2v2 are defined completely by their ability to effectively crowd control one target for long periods of time. Between Sap, Gouge, Kidney Shot, and Blind, our CC capabilities are the best amongst any of the classes. The key to playing any successful Rogue combo is to coordinate CC with your partner, and to execute on those CC opportunities.

Against a traditional DPS and healer combo, there are two approaches to CC. One method is to CC the DPS class, which will allow you easy access to the healer without being "peeled" by the DPS. The alternative is to CC the healer, which gives you the ability to kill the DPS class before they are able to be healed. Which you choose to use depends greatly on the partner you are playing with, along with the enemy composition.

Trying to CC a Death Knight's healer and kill the DK is a mistake in most cases, as the DK will be able to use defensive cooldowns to survive your enslaught. However, if you are able to crowd control a Rogue's healer, they are typically able to be killed in just a few seconds of focus fire. Similarly, it may not be the best approach to try CC'ing a Druid if you have a Mage partner, as the Druid is immune to most of the Mage's CC and will be able to easily trinket out of your Blind (as they are also immune to our Sap in tree form). Knowing who is vulnerable to which of your CCs is a key ingredient in using your cooldowns wisely.

Tunnel Vision:
One symptom of a novice Rogue in the arena is the tendency to "tunnel vision" a particular target. This refers to the idea of focusing solely on the target you're DPS'ing, while ignoring your partner as well as your opponent's partner. This will cause you to lose opportunities to CC the enemy or assist your partner, as well as possibly forgetting to watch your own health meter. I suggest playing a few skirmish games for fun, and practicing simply watching the health, mana, and cast bars of both teams. Don't worry too much about your particular target, simply do your best to "watch the field" and see how you do.

Focus Macros:
A great way to get away from the idea of tunnel vision is to start making use of a few Focus macros. These take advantage of a new "target frame" of sorts. Basically, you choose your Focus target by selecting any NPC/player and typing /focus. This will bring up a new unit frame window for that NPC, which is similar to your target window. You can then write macros that will automatically cast spells on your Focus target, without ever needing to switch from your current target. Here's a sample formula:

/cast [target=focus] Blind

This will automatically Blind whoever is in your Focus target window. I find that Focusing the healer/caster of any given team is the most efficient, as they are typically the class you will find yourself Blinding or Kicking or anything else you choose to bind to a macro. By using these macros, you'll get yourself used to watching two targets at once, and observing the situation with a bird's eye view.

Clutch Plays:
The defining trait of any great Rogue is the ability to make a quick call and a great move with miraculous reaction times. Seeing a healer casting a spell, knowing that the healer's PvP trinket is on cooldown, and knowing that your partner is in a position to assist with a kill of the DPS, and using your Focus macro to Blind the target mid-cast: key plays like these are what set us apart. In order to truly excel in the arena, quick reaction times to CC and interrupt your opponents are vital. There was a time where the mark of Rogue excellence was "kicking a Fel Dom", which was simply a spell with a 0.5s cast time.

Watching your own abilities and actions are not enough in a PvP environment. If you're spending time looking for a button to click (which you shouldn't be) or worrying about which of your abilities are on cooldown, you're wasting time that could be used to monitor your opponents actions. This sort of "full court" observation is the most crucial skill to develop and exploit. Playing a lot of skirmishes and simply observing is a great way to learn these talents.

Wintergrasp lag a big issue after patch 3.1

Zarhym has got some answers to the widespread problem of lag in Wintergrasp after patch 3.1 the other week. He says Blizzard figures the problem is simply population based -- there are many more people playing in the battleground than there were before the patch. For that reason, they're having trouble coming up with good solutions: the battleground is designed to be non-instanced, and that's why a lot of people like it, so putting a limit on the amount of people in there is not the way to go. Hardware isn't a solution either -- Blizzard's hardware is already top-of-the-line, and not only would upgrading it take a while anyway, but my guess is that most of the lag issues come not from Blizzard's side, but from the connections between players and them, which they may not have any control over anyway.

So yes, we're more or less out of luck -- as long as Wintergrasp is extremely popular (and even Zarhym remembers the naysayers before the release with a smirk), there will always be a certain amount of lag in there. There are a few good suggestions floating around the comments thread -- one is that Wintergrasp should always be conquerable, which seems like it would keep down on the flood of people, though of course there'd be other issues if that were implemented.

At this point, Wintergrasp lag may just be something we have to live with. Eventually, you have to think the population will drop back down, and then those of us still in there will enjoy lag-free battles again. But Blizzard has taken on quite a goal trying to do non-instanced PvP full of vehicles and towers without any lag at all.

May 5, 2009

Wow Patch 3.1.2 probably won't go live quite yet

Happy Tuesday Morning, everyone. We're expecting a short downtime this morning, 5 AM - 11 AM Pacific. Wow Patch 3.1.2 probably won't go live quite yet what with the new build on the PTR, so hopefully this will be a relatively smooth downtime. As always, the downtimes is great time to catch up on the news from the past week, and there were a few good stories that broke over the past 7 days.

The biggest news was the epic tale of Karatechop. From Armory sleuthing, we discovered that he'd been one-shotting Ulduar thanks to a GM Item. Blizzard shut down his account and the accounts of most of his guild, and he talked to us about it. The debate on what he should have done rages on. Of course, if you've had your fill of Martin Fury, we have more for you to browse:
Hot News and Features

Oh yeah, that whole Children's Week thing is going on, too. You'll want this guide to the achievements. And since School of Hard Knocks is sort of annoying to everyone involved, you'll probably want this seperate guide to that achievement. Lowered Expectations has a pretty insightful interview with Ghostcrawler. Blizzard's once again given us a slight peek behind the theorycrafting curtain, this time with an explanation of Val'anyr's proc.
As we mentioned, Patch 3.1.2 is on the PTR, and there are premades. There's also new Argent mounts and the Equipment Manager.
Class News and Guides

Encrypted Text studies the logic and accuracy of Rogue Idioms. Rossi discusses drop luck for Warriors. Mages gets some welcome news for WoW 3.1.2 as Mirror Images get smarter. Innervate got a little bit of a nerf. Professions, Items, Instances, and More

The Ulduar nerfs are rolling in, and will continue to roll in. In fact, you should expect another round soon. If you think Algalon is shiny, wait til you see some of his loot. Blizzard continues to tweak their raid instance notification system to prevent you from being saved to an instance when you don't want to be. WoW Rookie discusses doing business in the Trade channel. Time is Money discusses farming Sholozar Basin. Odds and Ends:

This is picture proof: Goth Gnome Girls rock. Curse's add-on client now has a premium paid edition. It looks like Blizzard is starting to shut down independent WoW iPhone apps. Could this mean they want in the app business, or do they just want to protect their IP? It seems to us that Activision-Blizzard stock is looking like a good buy these days, but don't take our word for it. No, seriously, don't. We're not the Motley Fool here, people. With the right addon, you can twitter from Warcraft without alt-tabbing. You lazy bum.

Ulduar "tuning tweaks"

Ulduar nerfs continue, tonight being called "tuning tweaks" - but nerfs they are, at least the vast majority of them. Several hard modes have been made easier (XT-002, Assembly of Iron, and Hodir). I'm told that the change to Hodir-hard is particularly significant - the timer on the hard mode was increased from 2 minutes to 3 minutes, which means this encounter might actually be possible on 25-man now. The Hodir change will not go live until maintenance.

There were also normal-mode tweaks to Auriya, Thorim, and Freya, and some of the trash (Conservatory, Vezax, Sappers) was beat up a little bit. The Ulduar nerf parade may have slowed down over the weekend, but it's back in force for Monday. I'm starting to feel a little sorry for all the bosses, seeing their power slowly drained away.

Win more TCG loot with WoW Insider

Yes, courtesy of, we have another batch of loot codes to give away to you guys today. Be warned: These codes are region locked, so they're only valid in North America. Sorry, rest of the world. We'll do what we can for you guys another time.

What loot cards do we have today? Well, thanks for asking! We have...
2 Sandbox Tiger 2 Party G.R.E.N.A.D.E. 1 D.I.S.C.O. Ball
If you want a chance to win one of the above loot cards, simply leave a comment on this post. At midnight tonight, comments on this post will be turned off and our winners will be picked at random, and given a random code. You may only enter this giveaway once or you will be disqualified. Remember, post your comment using a valid e-mail address that you check on a regular basis. That's how we'll be contacting you with your loot. Note: You will not be receiving the card, only the loot code.

Good luck to all participants! If you don't pull off a win today, don't worry! We're always giving things away, and you might want to follow us over on Twitter. We've been handing out a lot of loot there, too.

Are achievements putting too much pressure on players?

I'm not in a WoW place right now. I tend to move through phases of being a casual or a hardcore player. It depends on the content available (such as a new patch) and my workload. I did most of the Noblegarden achievements but now Children's Week is here I suddenly feel burnt out. Except for a quick romp through Gun'drak with my guildies last night and a pit stop to pick up my orphans, I've been strangely distant from Azeroth.

The thing is, I know precisely why. It's the pressure of achievements and festivals. Let me be clear, no one is making me do these things but me. Last year I enjoyed Children's Week because it was my first time doing the Outland version, I got rep, money and the smug feeling you get from taking a cute Draenei orphan around to see her heritage. Now all my guildies and most of the other people on my sever are frantically going for the achievements and, in some ways, it feels like the holiday has been cheapened a little. Being so close to Noblegarden probably hasn't helped either.

But it makes me wonder if I'm the only one? Right now I'm a casual player, but do you think the point of these holidays has been lost by the desire to get a Violet Proto-Drake?