June 11, 2009

World of Warcraft Patch 3.2 Updates

WoW Patch 3.2?

Yes, Patch 3.2 seems to be far away from now but plans are on going. Let us have a look at what’s in store for us all.

Surely there are plenty of goodness for us all.

[via World of Warcraft]

The upcoming major content patch, Call of the Crusade, will bring a host of new features for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

The Argent Tournament Expands: With the help of Azeroth’s heroes, the Argent Crusade will finish the Argent Coliseum just in time to call for all brave citizens to prepare for battle with the Lich King. New dailies, rewards, and more will be available at the Argent Tournament grounds to lure adventurers into the coliseum.
Crusaders’ Coliseum: In order to prepare for a siege on Icecrown Citadel, players will be called by the Argent Crusade to test their mettle in the Coliseum. 5-player, 10-player, and 25-player challenges await inside.
New Battleground: Isle of Conquest, a new large-scale siege Battleground, will be open. The Horde and Alliance will battle head-to-head for control of strategic resources to lay siege to the keeps of their opponents.
New Arena Season: Season 7 will officially start, paving the way for all-new items and challenges.
What do you have in mind? Do you like these updates?

WoW Patch 3.1.3 - Client Patch Notes

There are gossips about Patch 3.2 but here we have updates on Patch 3.1.3, which seems to be still in development.

This is what we can expect from Patch 3.1.3.

Death Knight

* Frost Presence: Armor bonus is now 60% down from 80%.


* Improved Barkskin: This talent now also grants 80/160% additional armor while in Travel Form or not shapeshifted.
* Improved Tree of Life: The armor bonus to Tree of Life Form from this talent has been reduced to 67/133/200% bonus armor.


* Hunter’s Mark: The ranged attack power bonus from this ability has been increased from 300 to 500.
* Master Marksman: This talent now also decreases the cost of Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot by 5/10/15/20/25%.


* Eye For An Eye: This talent now deals 5/10% of the critical strike damage taken by the paladin back at the attacker.
* Hand of Freedom: The base duration of this buff has been reduced from 10 seconds to 6 seconds.


* Overkill: Talent redesigned. Now increases energy regeneration by 30% while stealthed, and for 20 seconds after breaking stealth.


* Chaos Bolt: This spell no longer ignores damage reduction effects of the target.


* Blood Frenzy: This talent now provides 5/10% haste instead of 3/6%.
* Bloodthirst: Cooldown reduced from 5 seconds to 4 seconds, and rage cost reduced from 30 rage to 20 rage.
* Juggernaut: This talent now also increases the cooldown on Charge by 5 seconds.


* Death Knight PvP Gauntlets: The chance to refresh a Frost Rune when casting Chains of Ice has been removed. When equipped, these gloves now generate 5 additional runic power whenever Chains of Ice is used.

Raids & Dungeons
Ulduar - Mimiron

* The flight time of Rocket Strikes has been increased, and Rocket Strikes will try to prefer players at range.
* The Leviathan Mk II component of the V-07-TR-0N will become stunned during Phase 4 when the VX-001 component begins to cast the P3Wx2 Laser Barrage ability.
* Proximity mines now deal less damage and have a lower duration. A small arming time has also been added so proximity mines will not immediately detonate on creation.

Bug Fixes

* Druid Tier 8 Balance Set: The 4-piece bonus no longer has its effect consumed by Starfire casts in progress when it triggers. The chance for the effect to be triggered has been reduced down to 8%, as it was originally inflated to compensate.
* Ice Layered Barrier: Upgraded to item level 232. In addition, the stats in the tooltip have been correctly adjusted to 78 spell power, 48 haste rating, 16 mana per 5 seconds, 52 Intellect, and 50 Stamina.
* Pulsing Spellshield: The stats listed in the tooltip for this item were incorrect and have been adjusted. This item provides 69 spell power, 34 haste rating, 42 critical strike rating, 45 intellect, and 45 stamina.

Time to get on with a nice QuesthelpPatch 3.2 Updateser for your game.

Quest helper for wow patch 3.1.3

To use a questhelper has nowadays become a very popular mod to use. People love how easy it is to complete the quests and time it saves. If you want to levelup a new char, you need every help you can get to decrease the incredible amount of time it takes to level.

With the latest WoW patch 3.1.3 there was some compatibility problems but now most questhelpers are updated to work correctly.

Don’t spend loads of money on a powerlevel service and risk getting banned from Blizzard (yes, it happens quite often even if the leveling service seem very professional). Using a quest helper is a better way to level up quickly and it works really well. Just be aware that Blizzard are coming down on people using addons that include in game advertising so make sure you choose the right kind of quest helpers.

Some people think questhelpers is ruining the game, just following the arrow accepting and following the quests without having to think or read what the quest is all about. For newbies, I recommend at least reading the quest text in order to get a bit of the wonderful World of Warcraft storyline.

There are several free WotLK quest helping addons in development, but be careful where you download them because several has reported to contain trojans or account stealing functions. An example of a free popular wotlk quest helper is the one made by ZorbaThut and his team.

However, if you want to be 100% sure to get a professional developed, tested and trojan/advertisement free Wotlk Quest helper that works for the latest wow patch 3.1.3, I recommend taking a look at Zygor Guides. I’ve personally tried quite a few of these in-game quest helpers and I must tell you that Zygor offer the most stable and easy to use experience for people in need of ultra high speed leveling.

Just you remember to enjoy the wow/wotlk storyline and don’t stare yourself blind on the leveling speed.

June 8, 2009

Failoc-alypse bursts onto the scene!

During today's BlizzCon ticket sales (which are now sold out, by the way), you were able to play the game Failoc-alypse. You take the form of a Terran Marine with a gun, a Draenei Death Knight, or a Witchdoctor. Your goal is to kill as many fail-locs as possible.

"Oops flag? You're one dead Murloc!" World of Warcraft

I recommend everyone takes a bit to play the game. It's good fun. As you progress in levels more people come out to watch you play. Around level 40 Arthas himself comes out to cheer you on. It's unknown what happens at later levels, if there really is a cow level, and what the gold cap is.

You can also click through for a bunch of basic instructions at the loading screen, and there's some funny ones hidden amongst them.

Let's look at some Failoc-alypse hints.

Use your charge attack

Stand in the middle and kill with your charge attack as a Dranei, or if you're a Witch Doctor or Marine stand off to one side and let a rip. You'll kill a lot more.

Farm wow gold for the later levels

Just like in WoW, you want to farm as much gold as possible for the later levels. Each nuke you release costs 250g and destroys everyone on screen. Since more Murlocs come out during the end game, be sure to save your nukes until then.

Don't worry about letting Murlocs slip by

There is apparently no negative consequences for allowing a Murloc to exit the game area. Personally, I think this will be nerfed in wow patch 1.1. Ghostcrawler has mentioned how Blizzard's side scrolling games have a tendency to give "too much room for error" for casual players who doesn't feel the need to kill everything. There was some initial math he presented in which he mentioned the ratio of Murlocs killed to Murlocs escaped should be right around (1 + sqrt(5))/2. We'll see if he can't correct this serious flaw. And he better, because he promised me a pony, damnit.

Addon Spotlight: Ackis Recipe List

Addon Spotlight takes a look at the little bits of Lua and XML that make our interfaces special. From bar mods to unit frames and beyond, if it goes in your Addons folder, we'll cover it here.

Just a short one today, but an addon that I know will please a small number of very passionate folks out there. It's easy to see what recipes you know: just look at your tradeskill window. But what if you want to see a list of recipes you don't know? Ackis Recipe List. Completists rejoice.

This mod is dedicated to listing all recipes in your tradeskills that you have not yet learned. But it doesn't stop there. It also tells you where to find them, even putting waypoints on your world map and minimap for vendors if you want it to. ARL also supports sophisticated filtering of recipes, so if I want to see all the Death Knight glyphs of skill level less than 400 that drop from mobs (although I don't think there are any), I can do that.

The interface is also pretty nice, given the amount of complexity it contains. There's a button to scan your tradeskills on your tradeskill window, which also allows access to the ARL frame once you've scanned. /arl will bring up more, including in-game documentation, which I especially appreciate - I haven't seen that in many mods before.

Overall, this mod does a great job at what it sets out to do. Highly recommended if you want to see what recipes you don't have. Thanks, Ackis!

The Colosseum: Ogc the Warlock

And now for something completely different. Ogc is a Warlock. Specifically, he's the team captain for one of the highest rated 5v5 teams in the world. We've been hoping for a Warlock for the Colosseum for a little while, so we were thrilled with this opportunity.

Check out what Ogc had to say after the cut.
WoW Insider: What comps do you run? Why Warlock? What is it about the class's toolbox that appeals to you for competitive Arena?

Ogc: Before our warrior recently transferred, we were running Affliction Warlock / MS Warrior / Holy Paladin in 3s, and we run a cookie cutter 2346 setup in 5s. 2346 stands for Disc Priest / Holy Paladin / MS Warrior / Elemental Shaman / Warlock (Destruction for now). I don't have a 2v2 nailed down, although I was doing 2s at around 2600 rating with a Discipline Priest. But I have recently gotten out of that to help powerlevel people for gold.

Warlock has always been my favorite class. I've tried to get into several other classes since I've gotten into competitive arena, but always come back to my demons and DoTs. I enjoy the playstyle of a utility class with a ton of buttons and lots of role shifting in different positions and situations.

On my Warlock, I feel like I make a significant difference in every game, unlike when I played my healer. I just felt like I was keeping my partners up and they were doing all the work. I got Brutal Gladiator on a 5v5 running a three-healer comp as Felguard spec, and it was one of the most fun experiences I've had playing WoW.

Competitive arena is not friendly to warlocks right now. According to SK-100 we have approximately 2% representation in terms of all three brackets, which drops lower than that in 2s and 3s, but is considerably higher in 5s. The three different Warlock specs all offer vastly different tools in PvP. The toolbox that we bring to the table could be considerably improved,even though I definitely like it as is.

With Affliction, you get high consistent damage, a unique protecting debuff in Unstable Affliction, and lots of multi-target damage that doesn't require the opposing team to bunch up. Unfortunately, Affliction suffers from survival problems, long games which will hurt you because of pet survivability, and virtually no burst capability whatsoever.

In Demonology, the warlock gets a great pet that can take a good amount of hits as well as a large amount of sustained survivability and consistent damage with some burst. The down sides are that you have to pass up the Felhunter (which gimps you a dispel and a spell lock), and you don't really have anything special about the spec. If you go deep enough to get Metamorphosis, the 51 point talent can actually hurt you more than it can help you due to opposing Turn Evil and Banish. This tree is my personal favorite, and I really wish it would bring more unique crowd control components to the table. Currently the Felguard is missing a slot on his pet bar (no joke!), giving him something simple like a hamstring would go a long way to making this spec arena-viable.

Destruction offers ridiculously high burst damage currently (I expect a heavy nerf soon), and a lot of different kinds of CC (thanks to Shadowfury stun, and Succubus Seduce, if you choose to use her). Unfortunately, Destruction is the easiest warlock spec to 'lock down' with melee as so much of its damage is dependent on cast times. Melee can interrupt, silence, or cause a fair amount of spell pushback on the warlock to prevent Incinerate spam. Also, Destruction suffers from not having any Immolate protection, which is fundamental to virtually all of our burst spells. Dispel the Immolate and our Chaos Bolt and Incinerate spells drop in damage by a ridiculous margin, and we're not even able to use our Conflagrate.

Overall, I enjoy being able to completely dominate an arena game when we're winning via CCing healers with spell lock,shadowfury, Death Coil, and of course Fear. I also enjoy dispelling teammates or opponents and either putting out lots of multi-target damage or bursting like crazy. That's easier said than done since the opposing team has ways to limit both my CC and my damage, but we seem to make it work alright.

WoW Insider: So, given the state of the Arena right now, what's your analysis of this season's dynamics?

Ogc: I'll try to answer this question more generally than specifically, as we could talk about the differences not only between 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5, but also between different successful comps. Burst is still very high. Ghostcrawler has gone on what seems to be a personal tirade lately, trying to assure everyone that burst is much better than it was in S5, but I'm not so sure it is. I mean, if I'm left to free-cast, wearing full PvP gear and Demon Armor, I can still take out someone in a global pretty easily if my Chaos Bolt, Incinerate proc (or Searing Pain) and Conflagrate all crit at the same time. I've heard of other classes doing things just as (or nearly as) ridiculous, and it's just kind of disheartening to die in a global based on RNG crits.

WoW Insider: There's obviously concerns about melee domination of the ladder, about 2v2 maybe being a lost cause. Additionally, Ghostcrawler did just say they're not happy with Warlock representation. What do you think's going on to make things this way?

Ogc: Melee are very good right now, for reasons I could probably spend 12 pages listing and analyzing. However, I think an eloquent way to summarize some of the problems warlocks is the following...

Pyrilus (a Brutal Gladiator Warlock like myself) wrote the following post on the Melee vs. Caster imbalance:

"Speaking from a warlock's perspective, the one thing that I knew for sure while leveling my warlock was that a warlock was an anti-caster caster, and that mages were anti-melee casters. I absolutely enjoyed the dichotomy and really believed in my role as a caster-controller. As the patches have been pushed through, many changes were made to warlocks to make them less of an anti-caster, especially against mages. Magic resistance was removed (but subsequently given to mages) and Tongues was toned down (as well as all other cast time increasing effects). Other side-effects include the fact that many healers that relied solely on casted heals were given castable options and many classes were given anti-fear abilities and effects.

Some things still in place that give warlocks an anti-caster edge are things like Unstable Affliction, Soul Link being a consistent mitigating ability for both magic and physical, and Nether Protection. But these aren't as potent in some respects as many of the things other classes now have. Cloak of Shadows, AMS, AMZ, the plethora of silence and interrupts that almost every class has access to. The disconnect is that there aren't as many disarms, pacifications, or immunities available to the rest of the casters, and CC has become so much less a part of the game than it used to be. Warlocks used to have the ability to tank melee and had the highest HP pools among anyone, all gear being equal (besides PvE tanks).

Simply put, the game has evolved into an arms race (as was mentioned) that, from a warlock's perspective, has not been kind to warlocks or casters. It's a mess that I frankly don't envy the developers of having to fix.

However, I don't agree that casters need more escapes. Or rather, I don't think that's the only solution. I think the whole caster/cloth defense system needs to be rethought, because as items continue to inflate in power, physical damage classes will continue to have an easier time of pushing damage out and generally being able to "cleave" their opponents with greater and greater efficiency.

Not only that, but facing requirements in a game where melee classes are generally on top of their targets really does not allow for a very viable mechanism in a game that punishes casts either by interrupting them or completely negating their effects after a successful cast."

WoW Insider: Will the Hand of Freedom and Juggernaut nerf really make a difference?

Ogc: No. These are specific changes to certain classes (and only Paladin / Warrior at that) that don't address the true issue of the Melee vs. Caster imbalance. The true problem lies in the instant-cast immunity-type defenses that melee classes get and the plethora of interrupts that the physical DPS classes get.

In addition to this, melee has infinite resource mechanics while offensive casters need to sacrifice something to get mana back, whether it's time (Evocation), health (Life Tap), or damage (Aspect of the Viper), and yes I'm lumping hunters in there. I mean, when's the last time you saw a rogue take a second out of his busy day to 8 second channel adrenaline rush?

WoW Insider: What can reasonably help Warlock representation?

Ogc: Pets. Warlocks' #1 issue is pet scaling. It needs to exist. Right now, Felhunters are basically level 74 Enhancement Shamans in full greens. They need to scale with spell penetration and resilience on a 1:1 ratio basis. In fact, they need to scale everything on a 1:1 basis. If you need to make the base Hit Points of the pets worse in order to adapt, so be it.

The cost of losing a pet to a Warlock in incredibly devastating. Not only do they lose key abilities from the pet (usually Devour Magic and Spell Lock), the ability to keep an opposing class in combat, and a meager amount of damage, but warlocks lose Soul Link which is currently what their survivability is based on. They can use a ridiculously long cooldown to get a summon on a new pet, but that one dies just as easily as the first. The opposing team is not CCing itself to kill the warlock's pet (contrary to the developer's belief), they're destroying his survivability and utility by killing it. If you don't want to use Fel Domination to get a new pet out, you have to sit there for 5.5 seconds trying to get a new pet out,then Soul Link it with another global cooldown afterwards.

Compare this to the Death Knight pet. Not only does it have better abilities than the Felhunter, (Gnaw, Huddle, Leap), but it's instant-cast, and much more easy to recast with Night of the Dead. The Death Knight also doesn't depend on the pet for his survivability.

I'm not saying that Warlocks should have Death Knight pets, or that Death Knights should even have Death Knight pets. But the fact that Warlocks are a pet class, yet have to go through all this red tape just to get a key part of our class into the game (and if we don't have it we're probably subsequently dead as our survivability is tied up with our pet) is just kind of ridiculous. It can get very depressing when comparing Warlock pets (or Hunter pets for that matter) to DK pets, so I think I'm going to stop here. DK pets need to get toned down, but all pets need to scale with all stats on a 1:1 basis to solve these problems.

All other issues for Warlocks are secondary. In 5v5, we're actually a fairly survivable class because of Nether Protection (melee doesn't dominate in 5v5 like it does in 2v2 and 3v3, although lots of high-end PvPers will probably tell you that a Mortal Strike class is completely necessary, but that having a melee on the team to lock down the opposing [insert caster class here] is extremely beneficial).

Warlocks can benefit from overall survivability increases (and not depending on Soul Link for it), as well as some interesting changes to the Demonology tree that I would really like to see. Immolate protection would be nice, as would removing frontal requirements on spells. Shaman and Warlocks both could really benefit from an immunity-type instant cast spell like Ice Block, AMS, Cloak of Shadows, etc, that works vs. physical damage.

WoW Insider: In terms of casters, who do you think the worst off would be? I'd guess Boomkin and maybe Shadow Priests, but I don't seem to see a lot of Elemental Shaman in there either.

Ogc: It depends on bracket. Elemental Shamans are exceptional in 5v5, just absolutely fantastic. This doesn't come from their survivability, it comes from the ability to put out enormous amounts of damage while retaining some totems for some cool buffs and Shocking when they need to.

In 2v2 and 3v3 they are much worse because their class mechanics are not as important. Shocking is not good when they have to sacrifice DPS to do it (the other two people can pick up on DPS in a 5v5 if they're going to interrupt a heal), and the totems affect less players.

As for Boomkins and S. Priests, I don't have much experience with playing with either, in any bracket recently. If I had to pick an absolute worst caster, I would go with either Demonology Warlock or Fire Mage, just because they have better options available to them and don't really ever try to make it work.

I've seen some Shadow Priest / Rogues in 2v2, but it's much better for the shadow priest to just go Disc for that team, so you rarely see that as well.

I'd really like to see every class of every spec equally viable in arena, but realistically that's probably never going to happen (too many rainbows), and I kind of like Blizzard's philosophy of making sure that a class is represented fairly well in arena rather than worrying about specs first.

WoW Insider: What would you say to new Arena fighters?

Ogc: Find partners who are willing to do lots of games with you. Try to find a good "popular"comp and play it, don't worry about losses that much, you're just learning. Focus on what you're doing well. Ask people on your server for advice. Try to always see the 'big picture' of what's going on. A lot of times you'll die and you'll have no idea what happened. Other times, you'll know it's because they chained a Fear into a Blind into a Sap into a Mind Control. It's not a big deal, figure out what you can do to make it better and move on. Most of all, if nothing else, try to have fun and do what you enjoy doing.

WoW Insider: Where's the best resource for a new player, and how long should they wait before thinking "Maybe I'm not cut out for this"?

Ogc: www.arenajunkies.com is by far the best resource on the web for arena advice and research. As for the "Maybe I'm not cut out for this," it takes time. Think of when you started playing the game and how much more you know now. It's a lot. In the same way, when you take your first steps into an arena, you're going to get dominated. If you stick with it and really enjoy your class, you're bound to get better with every arena game. You'll soon find yourself vanishing Death Coils or spell locking Fel Dominations in no time.

WoW Insider: Serennia recently suggested abandoning the 2v2 bracket, instead pushing for the creation of a 4v4 bracket. But others suggest that would simply make 3v3 "the" bracket, and may or may not be better. What's your thuoghts on this?

Ogc: 4v4 is without a doubt the worst thing that could happen to Arena. The games would be most similar to 2v2. I'll explain this really quickly. The differences in arena brackets are usually due to healer to dps ratio.

2v2: Most teams are 50% healer (1:1)
3v3: Most teams are 33% healer (1:2)
5v5: Most teams are 40% healer (2:3)

Based on this data, you would naturally assume what practice has shown us over 5 seasons of arena play. 2v2 is primarily the outlast bracket, 3v3 is the bursty bracket, and 5v5 can be either but normally tends to be a bit more bursty than normal. Of course, if you go up vs. a two healer 3v3 or three healer 5v5, you're probably going to be in there a while, especially if the opposing team is good at healing but bad at doing dps.

4v4 would be almost unanimously 2 healer, 2 dps with a MS class and a high damage class. Consider already that 5v5s caneasily be healed by 2 healers in most regards. Sometimes, my burst-comp 5v5 can go for 4-5 minutes versus a similarly stacked team just because of how defensive cooldowns work when you put them on your teammates at the right time.

Consider also that the opposing team has 5 people to try to lock down my healers, but they often can't because of the additional people (DPS) on my team preventing them from doing such, in addition to the double healing / double defensive cooldowns that we have.

A three DPS / one healer team vs. a double healer / double DPS team would find itself in a very bad position. Not only does the double healer team have 4 people to lock out that single healer if they want to go for a burst kill, but they also have enough adequate DPS and healing to sustain themselves through the opposing three dps (just like they do in 5v5).

Because mana efficiency is so important on this 4v4 setup, a Mortal Strike class would be 100% necessary. This means that you would need to have a Warrior, Rogue, or Hunter. You would also probably want a priest for mana burn, but I can see shaman-paladin or paladin-druid working as the healers, even though I think priest-paladin or priest-druid would work best.

The other DPS class that you would need would most likely be something that already goes well with a mortal strike class in 3v3 that has an infinite resource (because remember, these games are long). Death Knights and Ret Paladins, because of their large damage output in addition to utility would be fantastic additions to a 4v4 team like this, Affliction Warlocks would be fine in theory too, but you'll probably be going up vs. Warrior-DK, Warrior-Ret, Rogue-Ret, Rogue-DK, etc, so you might want to rethink that Warlock. :P

Overall, the 4v4 bracket would be the penultimate outlast bracket that would go to time far more often than 2v2 matches, and would be in general incredibly annoying to play for most teams. I believe at high levels you would see incredibly small variance in team composition compared to the other three (current) brackets, even less variance than 2v2.

I could mention some good things about the 4v4 bracket, but I could make the same arguments for 3v3 and 5v5 and nothing good would really be unique to 4v4 as I see it. It seems that the trend in these later seasons has been the larger the bracket, the better the balance. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know.

WoW Insider: Before we finish up, is there anything in particular you'd really like people to know, or think about?

Ogc: Our warrior recently transferred because he wanted to move to a better BG (we're currently on one of the worst ones). He was with us for all of our 187 games in 5v5, and was holding #1 spot just like the rest of us, but he wanted to move on to greener pastures. Arena isn't just about winning, it's about having fun, and in my experience most high-rated players feel this way. I'm sure many readers are probably telling themselves "Why would he leave a #1 5v5? He was gonna get Furious Gladiator!?"

Sure, but the important thing was him having fun the way he wanted to. He thought transferring to another server would make him happier and I think he's probably accomplished that. So I just hope everyone continues to have fun with the game, especially in PvP, because at the top you can really get focused on just winning-winning-winning instead of having a good time.

And uhh... yeah, for a plug, WE NEED ANOTHER AMAZING WARRIOR FOR 5v5. Please make a character on Tortheldrin-Alliance or PM me on Arena Junkies if you wanna apply.

WoW Insider: What do you wish people would keep in mind more about the Arena?

Ogc: The big picture. Arena is all about figuring out what's going on at that time for your team vs. their team. A lot of that has to do with the positioning of the players and what cooldowns are being popped. If the opposing team is LOSing you defensively, then you might not wanna rush around that corner, especially if you're at low health or vulnerable because you popped defensive cooldowns. They might be setting you up to kill you by LOSing your healer. That's just one example. Always try to keep the big picture in mind, and always try to keep having fun.

PUG Checker shows players' boss kills

Although most of us, I suspect, prefer guild runs, most of us also have to PuG it up every once in a while. LFG can be a bit of a crap shoot; you can get an Ulduar-geared player doing 3,000 DPS in your heroic, or a fresh 80 who has a thing or two to learn doing 1,000.

Fortunately, we have the Armory to help us separate the good from the bad, or at least the geared from the ungeared. Sites like Be Imba and WoW Heroes have been around for a while to help us more easily check a character's gear level.

Now a new site, PUG Checker, can show you at a glance what bosses a character has killed, and how many times - or rather, what bosses they've been present for a kill of. Above right you can see what it shows for raids on my priest (I don't like Malygos very much). If you click "show bosses," you can see specific raid bosses in raids; otherwise, it just counts kills of the end boss. It uses Armory data, of course, which is pretty accurate, but not always perfect. Like the site says, "don't shoot the messenger" if the numbers aren't quite right.

Like Be Imba and WoW Heroes, this isn't an infallible guide to whether a player is good or not. It does probably correlate to some degree, though. In fact, if PUG Checker just added the average ilvl of the equipped gear of the person I'm checking, it would be my go-to site for checking puggies. It does load data much quicker than either of those equipment sites, which alone is enough that I will probably use it. I also really dig the clean design and the number-circles that look like subway indicators.

BlizzCon 2009 ticket sales are done

BlizzCon 2009 tickets went on sale for the last time on Saturday at 10am PST, and were reported as sold out less than 30 minutes later. As expected, there were lots of disappointed Blizzard fans, but compared to the way things worked last year, this year's system was much more fair and much less frustrating. Unfortunately, you had to be quick -- while the sellout time was actually around 10:24, tickets really sold out in a matter of seconds, because if you clicked the buy button even 30 seconds to a minute after it went live, you were too far back in the queue to buy tickets at all. But even though it was a very small window of chance, it was at least a fair chance -- Blizzard's meter for tickets left on Saturday started at around 50%, which indicates that they split the two days of sales right down the middle. As long as you showed up and clicked at the right time, you had as much chance as anyone else. At least we got a great game out of it.

If you have tickets, enjoy the show (and don't forget: our meetup will be on Thursday night!). But if you don't, what now? The DirecTV stream will be available both via their service and on the Internet. And even if you don't jump in on that deal, we'll of course have plenty of up-to-date coverage, as will lots of folks in the community. And if you want to go a little black market, tickets will probably be available online in a few different places. We've already heard that Blizzard is starting to crack down on eBay, but certainly there are other places tickets will appear for sale. And as time goes on, we're sure people who were planning to go won't be able to make it, contests will be held in various places, and a few more tickets will free up.

So all hope may not be lost. But unless you want to call in a favor or pay a premium, BlizzCon tickets are sold. We say: the fourth weekend in August can't come soon enough.

World of Warcraft Patch 3.1.3 going live

Word is coming through the grapevine that patch 3.1.3 will be released tomorrow. MMO-Champion is also confirming this, so given both of our information I'd say it's a sure bet.

We posted the patch notes last week when Zarhym released them, and they're after the break so you can become reacquainted with the small changes that'll be happening. If there are suddenly new notes tomorrow we'll let you know.

When a mirror is available for download we'll get a post up; probably sometime early tomorrow afternoon. This patch is also likely a harbinger of maintenance tomorrow, however there has been no official announcement yet.

The patch notes after the break.

World of Warcraft Client Patch 3.1.3

The latest patch notes can always be found at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/patchnotes/
The latest test realm patch notes can always be found at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/patchnotes/test-realm-patchnotes.html

Death Knights

Frost Presence: Armor bonus is now 60% down from 80%.


Improved Barkskin: This talent now also grants 80/160% additional armor while in Travel Form or not shapeshifted.
Improved Tree of Life: The armor bonus to Tree of Life Form from this talent has been reduced to 67/133/200% bonus armor.


Hunter's Mark: The ranged attack power bonus from this ability has been increased from 300 to 500.
Master Marksman: This talent now also decreases the cost of Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot by 5/10/15/20/25%.


Eye For An Eye: This talent now deals 5/10% of the critical strike damage taken by the paladin back at the attacker.
Hand of Freedom: The base duration of this buff has been reduced from 10 seconds to 6 seconds.


Overkill: Talent redesigned. Now increases energy regeneration by 30% while stealthed, and for 20 seconds after breaking stealth.


Chaos Bolt: This spell no longer ignores damage reduction effects of the target.


Blood Frenzy: This talent now provides 5/10% haste instead of 3/6%.
Bloodthirst: Cooldown reduced from 5 seconds to 4 seconds, and rage cost reduced from 30 rage to 20 rage.
Juggernaut: This talent now also increases the cooldown on Charge by 5 seconds.


Death Knight PvP Gauntlets: The chance to refresh a Frost Rune when casting Chains of Ice has been removed. When equipped, these gloves now generate 5 additional runic power whenever Chains of Ice is used.




The flight time of Rocket Strikes has been increased, and Rocket Strikes will try to prefer players at range.
The Leviathan Mk II component of the V-07-TR-0N will become stunned during Phase 4 when the VX-001 component begins to cast the P3Wx2 Laser Barrage ability.
Proximity mines now deal less damage and have a lower duration. A small arming time has also been added so proximity mines will not immediately detonate on creation.

Bug Fixes

Druid Tier 8 Balance Set: The 4-piece bonus no longer has its effect consumed by Starfire casts in progress when it triggers. The chance for the effect to be triggered has been reduced down to 8%, as it was originally inflated to compensate.
Ice Layered Barrier: Upgraded to item level 232. In addition, the stats in the tooltip have been correctly adjusted to 78 spell power, 48 haste rating, 16 mana per 5 seconds, 52 Intellect, and 50 Stamina.

Pulsing Spellshield: The stats listed in the tooltip for this item were incorrect and have been adjusted. This item provides 69 spell power, 34 haste rating, 42 critical strike rating, 45 intellect, and 45 stamina. a favor or pay a premium, BlizzCon tickets are sold. We say: the fourth weekend in August can't come soon enough.

Patch 3.1.3 download failing for many users

In addition to the realms being down, there seems to be a problem with the patch distribution servers. Today's WoW patch 3.1.3 is not downloading for many users, myself included, on both Mac and Windows. People are seeing a lot of "tracker not responding," and downloads stalling at 10%, if they start at all.

World of Warcaft
Blizzard knows about it - it is apparently an issue with their trackers, like the error messages say. There are, however, some patch mirrors they recommend, at least for Windows users, if you want to get patched up in a hurry. Of course, patching now isn't much use, since the servers won't be up for a little while, but it does give you something to do. I haven't seen any Mac mirrors floating around yet, although I'd bet that the trackers will be fixed before the servers are up.

New Tauren cat forms in WoW revealed

As you probably know by now if you play a druid, new feral form graphics are finally coming in WoW patch 3.2. Druids will have their choice of five different versions for each race and form (bear/cat); what form you get corresponds to your hair color for Night Elves and your skin tone for Tauren, both of which will be changeable at the barber shop.

So far we've already seen the bear forms for Tauren and Night Elves. Today, Blizzard unveiled the replacements for the much-maligned Tauren cat form. You can see the results above. My initial reaction is that they're still a bit ugly, but way better than the previous Tauren cat form (which is marked "Old Cat form" above).

Here's what a few of our staff members thought:
Elizabeth: "A million times better. Still not as cool as night elf, but better."
Allison: "The eyes are way too small. Still going to be glad I play a bear."
Lesley: "Those horns are evil."
Alex: "I'm gonna roll a Tauren Druid so I can play that black one with the grey mane. I'm going to RP an old grizzled war vet Druid."

What do you think?

WoW Farming for Nerubian Chitins

World of Warcraft - WoW Farming for Nerubian Chitins
Nerubian Chitins are gathered by Skinners and used by Leatherworkers, and although they show up on a number of mobs, there are only a handful of areas that are actually worth farming.

They sell for around 5g a piece, and Leatherworkers consume them in bunches from one up to 40! In fact, for several levels, the chitins provide some of the best and cheapest leveling options. On the low end, they are used for leg armor enhancement kits, and on the high end, epic gear.

Azjol-Nerub World of Warcraft
If you can get a group to run Azjol-Nerub with you a few times, with you as the only Skinner, you'll make quite the profit. The skinnable mobs there have an average drop rate of about 25%.

In Icecrown, before you start questing...
Upon entering Icecrown, your first stop will likely be the Argent Vanguard, a mid-size outpost with several quests available to you. Before you begin these quests, or at least, before you hand in A Cold Front Approaches, start farming the mobs around the camp. Once you hand in that quest, you phase out permanently, and all of those spiders will be gone.
You will also notice that you can kite groups of mobs to the town guards for quicker killing. Just make sure to use some AoE to tag each one, or you won't be able to loot and then skin them!

Another good spot is a little further north, around Scourgeholme. Both of these spots have high respawn rates, making them ideal.

Zul'Drak World of Warcraft
Many of the mobs around Kolramas have a chance to drop chitins when skinned as well.

Borean Tundra World of Warcraft
Just outside of Warsong Hold, you will find plenty of skinnable mobs with high respawn rates, that are frequently being killed by the questing Horde. This is a great place to level your Skinning, pick up some leather, and although the drop rate isn't high, the chitins do indeed drop.

WoW Retribution tips and tricks in Ulduar

I know, it's another Retribution post, but since we got hit with the nerf bat again (ever so slightly) I decided to devote one last column to the spec before I rotate back to Protection. Besides, my past month or so has been spent wow raiding Ulduar as Retribution (with the first few forays as Holy) so I think that's what I'll talk about for now. Rather than talk about specific boss strategies, we'll talk about the little things we can do to perform at our best in Ulduar.

Flame Leviathan
First up is Flame Leviathan. Obviously, none of the usual strategies will apply here but one key point players should remember is that the vehicles scale with gear. This means having to prepare an outfit set optimized for the encounter. One thing to note about vehicle scaling is that it doesn't look at stats, just iLevel. Optimizing a gear set for this means putting the highest iLevel item you have in every slot. For "pure" classes, this is usually their normal set-up, but for Paladins who keep several sets of gear, an iLevel-optimized outfit can be composed of healing items, a few tank items, some DPS items, and even PvP gear. Players can use AddOns such as RatingBuster to determine an item's iLevel and outfit managers such as Outfitter or Blizzard's new in-game equipment manager to quickly swap gear.

Vehicle strategies are everywhere, but Retribution Paladins who would prefer to do something familiar should hop on a Salvaged Siege Engine, which plays the most like melee. The difference is that this isn't a DPS role, and steam pressure should be kept in reserve for Electroshock to interrupt Flame Vents and Steam Rush to create some distance when Flame Leviathan targets the player. It's still more about learning the fight and vehicle roles and less about any particular class.

Ignis the Furnace Master
This is a very good fight for Retribution Paladins, despite the need to move the boss around. This is because Ignis' most devastating attacks are easily avoidable by melee -- Scorch won't be a problem as long as players manage to keep behind the boss and Flame Jets won't interrupt anything as everything is instant cast. Even the geyser knockback (or up) won't make a difference because players staying close enough can keep hitting the boss.

The best thing a Retribution Paladin can do in this fight is actually during a non-DPS phase, when she's picked up an placed into the Slag Pot. Players specced for Divine Sacrifice should use it following a Divine Shield when placed in Ignis' belly, as well as ease burden on the healers by calling out immunity and even healing themselves. It's also a good time to remind players that they can (and probably should) use Fire Resistance Aura during this fight because all the talented benefit are granted through any aura.

This fight requires a lot of switches, which is actually better in practice than it is on paper for Retribution DPS. Retribution can pump a lot of burst DPS in the opening seconds of a switch, and players should always hit Crusader Strike first. Vengeance will likely be at full stacks, and Exorcism should be used while jockeying to get into melee range. Similarly, since Exorcism is low on the spell priority list, it's easy to reserve it for Wing Buffets which knock players out of melee range. Needless to say, step out of the fire -- staying out of the large circle on the ground should minimize this problem.

XT-002 Deconstructor
DPS on this fight is largely a matter of luck. If players get a Light or Gravity Bomb more than a few times, DPS will drop significantly. AddOns such as DeadlyBossMods allow players to check their range with a /range command, which should help remove the guesswork from knowing if the player's debuff will hurt anyone. Default range is at 10 yards and should be set to 15 to ensure that nobody else gets affected. Knowing exactly when to stop running away will also ensure players get back into DPS range much quicker.

As a melee class, World of Warcraft Retribution Paladins are ideally assigned on the boss exclusively to optimize DPS to the heart when it pops out. Needless to say, always reserve Avenging Wrath for the exposed heart. Depending on the relative strength of your raid it may or may not be advisable to pop wings from the get go. Some raids get to the 25% threshold in under two minutes, in which case the players' DPS will be lower overall. If you bring Potions of Speed to raids, the last heart phase with Bloodlust is about the best time to use for optimal DPS.

The Assembly of Iron
This fight changes quite a bit depending on which boss your raid decides to do first, but whomever the raid chooses, the encounter is generally not very conducive to melee. The easiest fight and most common fight will be taking down the giant Steelbreaker first. Because Molgeim places Runes of Power underneath the bosses, the tank will move Steelbreaker around quite often. Ideally, the boss gets pulled out of the rune just far enough to remove the buff from the boss but still allowing melee to attack while on the rune but this won't always be the case. The most important advice to keep in mind here is to not pay attention to the DPS meters. DPS in this fight is artificially inflated by Runes of Power, so don't worry about it. Stay alive.

Players should be mindful of Art of War procs, easing healer burden by popping a Flash of Light between cooldowns. Keep up Sacred Shield because the damage from High Voltage (among other, non-persistent sources) is a nuisance. There really are no other tips for this fight other than paying close attention and know when to run away. Pursuit of Justice is awesome here because there's just a lot of running (away) involved.

This is a good fight for Retribution because it doesn't involve a lot of running around, and because Focused Eyebeams have a minimum range. Melee simply have to focus on Kologarn himself, with ranged DPS classes usually assigned to the arms. Retribution DPS is quite excellent on this fight because when positioned properly, Divine Storm and Consecration will hit all three targets. The arms are also close enough to switch to without having to move muchFarming for Nerubian Chitins or at all. Relish this opportunity and enjoy the fight as it's one of the few bosses in Ulduar where a Retribution Paladin for World of Warcraft can shine.

The Colosseum: Ninchuu the WoW Hunter

Gladiator Ninchuu is one of the new breed of Hunters doing battle with success in the last two seasons. While Burning Crusades could be considered a dark time for the class, confining the masters of ranged weapons to the slow, highly technical "drain team," Wrath of the Lich King has introduced several different interesting possibilities for the Hunter.

Ninchuu took the time to talk with us about the Hunter class, how they relate to other classes, and how he conducts his time in the Arena. He's got some especially great tips about how Arena hopefuls should be aware of their mindset when stepping foot in the virtual squared circle.

WoW Insider: So, what made you choose your class? What about it appeals to you?

Ninchuu: Originally when WoW came out, I played a Tauren Warrior on US-Magtheridon because I found the rage mechanic unique. I was having tons of fun on my warrior. That is until some random Night Elf Hunter 100% kited me to death multiple times. This happened when I was level 29, one level short before Intercept.

So, I decided to make an Orc Hunter alt, named Chuunin just to see how dumb a hunter was when matched with a melee in world PvP. Pretty soon, I grew attached to my hunter alt. The pet mechanic and kiting aspect was a lot more enjoyable then getting snared non-stop on my warrior, so I stuck with the hunter class from then right up to today.

WoW Insider: One thing that has significantly improved with Wrath is that Warriors have more gap closing options now. Being on the other side of the fence, how much trouble do you find you have with melee now?

Ninchuu: They are definitely much harder to handle now, and I believe the higher representation of Warriors in Arenas is one of the prime reasons why hunters have a lower representation in arenas now. Sure, the hunter nerfs were bad, but when you give any melee class more mobility it will slaughter any ranged class in every bracket of arena.

However, in hindsight, the charge buff and other buffs they received were necessary if they wanted to have a chance in lower brackets.

Early into Season 6, when Disengage was nerfed to a 30 sec cooldown (21 second if glyphed and talented) versus a Warrior's 15 sec (12 sec glyphed) gap closer, it was almost impossible for me to get range versus a good warrior. Sometimes I had to blow Deterrence just to deflect the charge-stun. This is because it was possible for them to instagib me from 60% life to 0% in a span of a few seconds if I didn't have Disengage up.

However, now that Disengage is back to a 25 second cooldown and Charge is stuck at a 15 second cooldown, I find that Blizzard for once did a great job balancing out the gap versus Warriors and Hunters. Overall, I find that warriors are a lot harder to handle than the joke of a class they were in S5, but not as ridiculous as they were before the Juggernaut nerf. They are still a high threat to hunters, but also add some great flavour to arenas, unlike the sea of Death Knight/Paladins or Death Knight/Paladin/Warlock comps seen last season.

WoW Insider: Considering the noise on the official forums, though, Warriors aren't the biggest threat right now. How do you do against Death Knights and Retribution Paladins?

Ninchuu: Melee in general is a big threat, warriors are just bigger because they have so much more potential than others to counter strategies my teammates and I come up with. They do heavy random burst damage, ping pong charge and intercept to interrupt heals, they have a dependable Mortal Strike debuff and, of course, Bladestorm over my Frost and Freezing traps to negate them.

Death Knights have been toned down considerably, but of the three aforementioned melee classes I find that DKs are the hardest to kill. Anti-Magic Shield hasn't changed since S5, Bone Armor and Icebound in Frost Presence provide quite a solid defense (even versus the fire damage of explosive shot) and saccing their pet is another issue I have to deal with. Frost DKs are even worse, they have the most burst potential and can instagib my pet very early in a game, which will compromise my ability to mitigate damage, kite the DK, and keep his or her healer in combat. However, their lack of a Mortal Strike debuff and only one gap closer (Death Grip) make them predictable and easy to kite.

Retribution Paladins are similar to Death Knights in some ways, because they have no Mortal Strike debuff and predictable heavy burst. Retribution paladins are relatively easy to handle, even if it's Ret/Priest in 2s. Good Retribution Paladins Freedom themselves before running over my frost traps. (I lose Lock and Load and kiting area.) They cleanse their partner as soon as possible when I trap or sleep them. Aside from that, I feel as if Retributions are limited to what they're capable of doing, and from what I've seen on the Arena Junkies Paladin boards, I'm not the only one who feels that way.

The only time I lose to Death Knights or Retadins is when they instagib my pet early on, but there have been rumours about making pets scale with resilience, so the future might not be so grim.

WoW Insider: That's an incredibly good summary of your situation with melee -- though, you didn't mention Rogues. Is that because Rogues aren't much of a threat to Hunters?

Ninchuu: This question is tricky. Unlike Death Knights, Retadins, or Warriors, the way a Rogue is handled differs on an extreme scale depending on who his partner(s) are, which in turn affects how dangerous they are as well.

I like to speak in terms of 2s, so I'll start there. As Rogue/Mage or Rogue/Paladin, they tunnel me while controlling my Priest. A good rogue times his stuns flawlessly, anticipates my deterrence and disarms me offensively as opposed to defensively (can't detterence without a weapon). Without deterrence, I'm a sitting duck. If that fails, they'll reset and have a second go at it. Games are very intense and it usually comes down to how well they play, as opposed to how well we play. In 3s they're not as bad, but that might be because we run a double Healer setup and outlast a rogue's CDs.

As for rogue and healer (usually Priest) setups, it's tough. The rogue will sit on my Priest, and the other Priest will just tunnel Mana Burn. Evasion messes me up big time, one missed aimed shot or scatter shot determines the game. Life gets even harder if they're double Undead.

If I had to rank melee in terms of threat it would be as follows: Warriors = Rogues > DKs > Retadins.

WoW Insider: How do you do against casters?

Ninchuu: Mages are relatively (note, relatively) easy to handle, and it's a matter of timing Deterrence before the Shatter and well timed pet Freedoms. The same could be said for Destruction Warlocks.

Affliction warlocks are the only threat. They can do so much damage and utilize line of sight whenever they please. The RNG factor of Fear is also ridiculously hard to handle, especially if it's on the sewers of Dalaran where I can run all the way behind a box or ground floor into a corner.

Since pets don't have resilience, DoTs just eat my pet up and my healer can't afford to burn mana all the time healing it. I firmly believe a hard counter to Hunter/Priest is Warlock/Paladin, but thanks to the higher representation of good melee in 2s, we don't encounter those.

The other casters don't show up often enough for me to form a good analysis of what they're capable of, but I hope down the road Blizzard will diversify arena compositions without homogenizing classes (IE giving everyone a disarm, a MS, an X second invulnerability ability).

WoW Insider: Well, with that being said, you've painted an informative picture of how Hunters play against other classes. Let's talk about your partner a bit, though -- what class is your partner? Why did you choose that one instead of another? Have you ever tried running a Hunter as part of a double-DPS team?

Ninchuu: I play with Smarba (NE disc priest) for 2s, Snoozletoes (Resto Shaman) and Smarba for 3s and the infamous Tugget, Brewkz, and Gordonbombay along with Snoozletoes for 5s.

Saying I chose to play with certain classes would be wrong. All of us, and including some random others, formed our own community and we just kinda mix and match partners without thinking about it. In S5 I played with Snoozzletoes since I've known him forever. This season, I'm with Smarba because I've also known him for a long time and heard priests got buffed up. Admittedly I was quite lucky, because Resto Sham/Surv Hunter in S5 had high synergy, and now Disc Priest / Surv (or Marks) Hunter in S6 have high synergy. Who knows, I might try Druid/Hunter next season for the hell of it.

I want to run a Rogue/Hunter or Ele Sham/Hunter 2s comp, but haven't found the people with the skill or right attitude to do it with.

I find playing with people you know really makes arenas a lot more enjoyable. I would much rather run a bad composition with people I know than a high synergy comp with people I've never played with before. But I'm pretty sure thats how most people feel anyways.

WoW Insider: What do you think your best secrets are for your success?

Ninchuu: The best 'secret' I can share for success in arena, is to enjoy the arena. As geeky as it sounds, if anyone takes arenas seriously they should treat it like a sport. Don't play while under stress or when you're in a bad mood, this only creates tension between you and your teammates and ultimately causes nerd rage. Don't play while sleepy or when hungry, your mind will wander off. And finally, never ever point fingers when you lose an arena match. This isn't dueling, this is a team-based effort, always question what you could've done better rather than demanding more from your teammate.

Another key to success in arenas is to be creative. Just because hunter X uses spec Y with gear setup Z doesn't mean that it's the best thing out there. If survival is the dominating spec, swap to Marksmanship. If marksmanship doesn't work, tweak your build to cover weaknesses in your play style.

In S4, there was a double hunter 2s team that hit gladiator, and last season Mage/Warlock teams were up there in the 2600s. Who knows, next a Fire Mage/Shadow Priest might be the next best thing. I speak from experience that trying new things with your class makes you a better player.

WoW Insider: In terms of creating new stuff and trying out new things, what are you doing right now? What are you working on?

Ninchuu: As of right now I'm trying to make marksmanship work. It's such a fun spec as opposed to survival, despite its mana issues. It took around 2 or 3 different specs and hours of dummy, BG, and Arena testing, but I believe I have found a spec that finally works.

I have yet to test this spec out in 5s, but I have high expectations of it.

As mentioned earlier I wanted to try Elemental Shaman and Marksmanship Hunter in 2s, but I'm committed to my current teams so that'll have to wait for another time.