October 22, 2009

Patch 3.3 PTR: New LFG interface

In the latest build of the PTR, Blizzard has included the new Looking for Group interface they've got in the works. As they had announced in at BlizzCon, the recent fix for the "Additional Instances" errors that were plaguing us a few months ago also adds the ability for them to allow cross-realm LFG. A new feature usually means a new interface and the trend proves true. It incorporates a lot of the long asked for features as well as removes several older features from the panel.

They've taken the current system that allows you to select your available roles (healer, tank, or dps) as well as select if you're willing to lead the instance. One thing that should help out is the ability to earn emblems as well as gold for doing just a completely random pug each day. While some of you might be groaning at this thought, they are willing to reimburse you for the inconvenience with 68G for completing a random level 80 heroic. This money scales based on how much of your party is random and how much is premade. The less random your party is the lower the cash return.

It's still early in the PTR and several features, like the ability to use the LFG panel to look for a raid, don't appear to be completely finished yet. I've included a gallery of what the new interface looks like thus far.


WoW Patch 3.3 PTR: Festergut impressions

I cleared out the tail end of my afternoon in the hopes of getting a glimpse at the latest raid boss to be tested in the patch 3.3 PTR. Festergut was open for testing on North American servers while the European servers had Rotface. There were some issues with Rotface earlier in the day (namely that the 25 man version of Rotface had health that was meant for the 10 man). Anyway, I managed to get in a few attempts on Festergut here while playing on my priest.

First, let's talk trash.
Gallery: Icecrown Citadel http://www.wow.com/gallery/icecrown-citadel/

Zoning in, you'll see the Ashen Verdict (which I assume is the new faction pairing the Ebon Blade and Argent Crusade forces together) with a forward command post on the bottom floor of Icecrown. Tirion and his boys are standing by holding down the fort here while your forces are slowly infiltrating Icecrown.

There's a teleporter right at the entrance. Festergut is located in the Plagueworks section of the citadel. After you step off the teleporter and step forward a bit, you'll be greeted by an extremely vast chasm. The whole place feels very Black Temple-esque in size and scope. I couldn't help but take a few seconds to really appreciate just how massive this one area was. There was nothing but fog when I looked down over the bridge.

Anyway, our group didn't move more than a few steps before engaging one of the pesky Val'kyrs. She went down without too much of a fight.

Of course, what's an undead dungeon without a couple of abominations guarding the wings? I think these guys did a knock back. Regardless, the abominations presented no problems for our (mostly) pre-made group of players.

We rounded the bend and stopped short. There were not only one but two Gluth-like dogs patrolling the hallway. What the heck, let's pull one and see what happens, eh? The tank pulls one of these oversized dogs and the raid starts opening up on him. Piece of cake, we think to ourselves.


A few seconds later he takes a big chomp out of the raid. Everyone's health drops down to 10% and zombies start streaming in.

Yeah, I'm not kidding.

It's the first wipe of the night to Gluth version 2.0.

We were two healing the trash and I found it tough. You'd think a disc priest and a resto shaman would have that stuff covered. The second time around, I zeroed in on the tanks after he took a bite again (Binding Heal is your friend, priests). We were prepared for the zombies this time.

For future reference though, please don't drop an Earthbind Totem or Frost Nova the zombies when they're next to the healers. We don't like getting beat on when we're near death. Once we shut down the oversized mutt, we snuck by the other dog and took a left towards Festergut.

This guy looks hideous.

Attempt 1

We had no idea what to expect. We were also shorthanded one player resulting in us 9 manning the first try. We didn't know much about the boss and we figured we'd use the time to explore his abilities.

Didn't last very long. The area was permeated with and orange gas. We were caught off-guard and I know I panicked. I was running around the room looking for an off switch of some sorts. Everyone in the raid continued to take damage and the shaman and myself were hard-pressed to keep everyone alive.

My party members fell one by one. I couldn't keep them alive fast enough or Festergut got to them before I could. I felt like I was 2 seconds behind his every move. Eventually, we wiped.

But we did learn several things.

The gimmick

That orange gas in the room is called Gaseous Blight. It deals constant damage to the players within the room. Festergut will periodically inhale this. Gas Spores are going to infect a couple of players (2 on 10 man). After it wears off, it explodes and deals shadow damage to the players around you and increases their resistance to the Blight effect (assuming they get hit by Blighted Spores). It's called Inoculation. Shadow damage taken is decreased by 25%. So the goal is to run into a crowd of players when a player has a gas spore (or have the players run to you if you have it, do whatever works).

Once he finishes inhaling the blight a few times, as you can guess, all the gas has to be released somehow. And ugh, he passes enough wind to effectively wipe the raid if they're not inoculated to that stuff. It's no longer gaseous blight. It's become Pungent Blight.

We found that out on the second try.

Oh, and for you smart guys who are thinking "Why don't we just stack the raid and heal through the Gas Spore damage so that everyone around them gets Inoculated," there's one ability called Vile Gas. If a player gets hit, they start vomiting. This isn't ordinary vomit either. It deals damage to nearby players.

On the last try, I raised the white flag in surrender. We couldn't two heal it just yet. We weren't able to recognize the abilities quick enough nor were the players able to identify when to run in and when to stay out. We needed an extra healer to function as a cushion for us. Our druid tank switched to tree form since it didn't seem like we needed a second tank for this boss. Players stayed alive longer and we were slowly getting the hang of the encounter.

Unfortunately, it was over. Boss testing time was finished and I wasn't able to claim my first PTR boss kill.

All in all, from a healing standpoint, Festergut presents a tough challenge. There's no way a raid group's going to be able to 2 heal Icecrown initially. Most of us were using pre-made characters so we had some pretty sweet hardware. The trash at this level of the instance seemed difficult enough. Sure they recycled a boss mechanics as a trash mob, but it's an interesting spin nonetheless which kept the healers working. Just experiencing this one wing leads me to believe that Icecrown may very well be Blizzard's crowning raid dungeon. All the bosses we've fought in Northrend and the instances we've healed through?

I suspect it's nothing compared to what awaits inside the citadel.

October 20, 2009

WOW Icecrown and Hallow's End edition

Happy Tuesday morning and happy Hallow's End, everyone. That's right, WoW's coolest holiday's in full swing. Or is when the servers are up. If you're going after the Hallowed title, we have a Hallow's End achievement guide for you. If you're thinking of going after everyone's favorite cackling headless holiday boss, we have a guide to the new Headless Horseman loot. Of course, maybe you just want to do some good old fashioned trick or treating. We have something for that too.

Of course, while the revelry continues on live servers, the testing continues on the test servers, and there's been quite a bit of activity.

The icecrown raid has now seen some testing, and we have a list of abilities and achievements for the first boss, Lord Marrowgar. On the raid lore front -- don't click these next couple links unless you want to be spoiled -- we have animation for the Lich King himself and news of Bolvar Fordragon.

There's also speedier reputation grinds coming, as well as bind on account status for the Sons of Hodir shoulder enchantments. We may also be able to transfer bind on account items between factions. Also, leatherworkers will be glad to know that Arctic Fur is now purchasable, and aspiring Loremasters will finally get a list of their completed quests to help their search.

Of course, what with the 5 AM to 11 AM Pacific downtime, you'll have time to read all of the above and more, I'm sure. With that in mind, here's a few more choice tidbits from the past week for your approval:

Hot News and Features

If you've already signed up for Battle.net, be sure to grab Mr. Chilly!
You still have time to get in on our latest Creative WoW headset giveaway.
The Patch 3.3 PTR soldiers on with new builds and new information. Here's some of the latest stuff from the newest build. Have you followed the official Warcraft twitter yet? If not, you may be missing out. Take a sneak peek at the Death Knight manga. Congratulations to Armed Forces, September's Guild of the Month. The WoW devs will be taking questions live on twitter.
Class News and Guides

Shadow priests got some sweet buffs in Patch 3.3.
Warlocks got some changes in the latest Patch 3.3 PTR build as well, and a look at their tier 10 gear.
Totem Talk rounds up the shaman Patch 3.3 PTR changes..
Mages got a simplified Scorch and a buffed Elemental in the latest PTR build, among other things. Arcane Brilliance also has a more in-depth look at the Patch 3.3 changes for Mages thus far.

The Light And How to Swing It looks at the latest news from the Patch 3.3 PTR on paladin Tier 10.
Encrypted Text starts from scratch with rogue character creation.
Rossi's Warrior is getting back to where he once belonged.
Rossi also thinks Whirlwind may need to go.

Items, Professions, PvP, and More

Here's some raiding UI news: Lowbie Raids are gone, everyone gets to place marks, and in general, chaos chaos and anarachy reign in Patch 3.3.
WoW Rookie discusses making time for raiding.
Ready Check takes on the Twin Val'kyr.
Ghostcrawler has some clarification on the removal of armor penetration.=

Odds and Ends
15 Minutes of Fame sits down with WoW, Eh?

Cartoonist Cadistra.
Deathwing comes to life in this fan's sculpture.
Episode 7 of Season 3 of The Guild is up.

WoW Guide to Patch 3.3

With patch 3.3 on the PTR, the information is flowing out fast and furiously. We've had our first glimpse at the new raid, and have gotten our hands on some of the 5-man action. Lots of fun for everyone involved.

Everything that we've been publishing is listed in the handy WoW.com Guide to Patch 3.3. We've organized the information for you in a few ways. First, you can look at it week by week to see exactly what you might have missed. Second, the information is sorted into individual class sections so you can quickly and easily find out what's happening with your class. And finally, the information is sorted into a patch notes like structure so you can find out about all the details to the changes.

Check out the guide, and enjoy the patch on the PTR!