November 28, 2009

WOW Free 7 days of game time for select unsubscribed players

Blizzard is offering, via email, select inactive accounts the chance to return to the game with free seven days worth of game time. These emails are what appears to be a special unannounced promotion for those that have left Azeroth, coinciding with the five year anniversary of WoW.

We can confirm these emails are legitimate, the links and headers all point back to servers. And indeed a blue over in the Customer Service forums has more or less confirmed that it's legit.

These kinds of promotions are not all that uncommon in the MMO world. Several companies that have MMOs of varying degrees of success have offered them in the past -- they're a nice way to get some old players back and make them feel like part of the community again.

We want to be sure we're clear: it appears these emails are not going to all unsubscribed accounts. If you have an unsubscribed account, don't count on getting one; right now it looks like it's just random chance whether or not you'll get some free game time.

Thanks to AishaLove for the help!

FigurePets mark WoW's 5th Birthday Spyro style

I love FigurePrints and this has been widely documented. I stare at my FigurePrint of Turpster a hundred times a day. A model? Not just a model, but a FigurePrint. Handmade in Italy, they carve it out of illegal whalebone. They only make eleven of them a year. This one cost me $12,000 or 30 million liras. Perfectly balanced, low drag, minimal torque. (Please note: FigurePrints aren't constructed from illegal whalebone, nor do they cost $12,000 (only $129.95/€99.95) but Turpster's been watching far too many Will Farrell films lately.) No exaggeration, I could not love a human baby as much as I love my miniature real life version of my favorite fantasy Warcraft character.

The folks over at FigurePrints and FigurePets are introducing some great new products and features to coincide with WoW's 5th Anniversary. You'll find all of the new features now available on their site after the break.

They include:

An Onyxian Whelpling FigurePet. This cute little guy matches the in-game pet Blizzard is introducing and will be available on the FigurePets website through the end of the year.

A Slain Onyxia Base. Now your character can be posed next to the head of the slain Onxyia! This base caries a small additional charge ($9.95, €7,99).

Along with the anniversary items FigurePrints/Pets also are introducing a few things to get ready for the holidays:

"Gift Certificates! This is something we've had a lot of requests for from customers. Now you can give a FigurePrints gift certificate for the holidays in any amount from $5 to $500 (or €5 to €500 for us Europeans)."

Holiday Armor Sets! What better way to celebrate the holidays than by posing your naughty night elf in Winter Garb? Red and green are both available.

So if you are stuck for what gift to get the WoW fan who has it all this upcoming holiday season I can personally recommend a FigurePrint, and the gift certificate means that they can have their FigurePrint just how they want it.

WoW Rookie: Recruit-a-Friend

New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. Visit's WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.

Your evil plan has come to fruition: your significant other, best buddy, school pal or co-worker has finally confessed an interest in playing World of Warcraft. Send your buddy a Recruit-A-Friend invitation, and let the bodies hit the floor. You're about to cut a mean swath through Azeroth while enjoying some sweet side benefits:

300% XP bonus for both you and your recruit (when grouped)

10% reputation bonus for you and your recruit

The ability to summon one another to each other's locations across the world

30 levels of "free" XP from your recruit, granted to any of your lower-level veteran characters

A free month of game time for every recruit who upgrades to a retail account

The ever-so-sweet, exclusive Zhevra mount for one of your characters, once your recruit pays for 60 days' worth of game time

Recruit-A-Friend bonuses have been woven into all sorts of mad leveling schemes (which you'll undoubtedly hear tell of in the comments). At its foundation, RAF is designed to get you teamed up and moving forward with a buddy who's new to the game. Because you already know the ropes, Blizzard gives you XP and rep bonuses to allow you to zip through the early levels faster. That may sound as if it's aimed squarely at long-time players, but we think RAF's a great way for new players to enjoy WoW, too. Not only do you get a boost through the early levels, but you get a regular partner throughout the more sparsely populated territories of Azeroth.

If you're wondering if RAF is right for you, consider these points:

In order to gain triple XP, you need to be grouped with your recruit and within 100 yards of one another.

Low-level quests and grey mobs or quests are not eligible for triple XP.

For bonus quest XP, both party members must be present for all kills and at quest completion.

Holiday events are eligible for RAF XP bonuses.

Players who level this quickly will definitely outstrip their crafting and gathering skills, weapon skills and the ability to earn enough money to train new spells and abilities. As the veteran player, be ready to help fund the cause! Plan to catch up on weapon and profession skills, cash flow and gear once you've hit 60.

Your recruit can give one of your veteran characters some 30 "granted" levels up to level 60. Recruits earn one "gift" level to give for every two levels they earn.

Recruit-A-Friend "links" (the period of time that you and your recruit gain bonuses and other benefits) last for 90 days.

RAF benefits are effective only until level 60.

XP bonuses from heirloom items do stack with RAF bonuses; rested XP and other XP bonuses do not.

There are enough rules, regulations and loopholes to the Recruit-A-Friend program that we won't go into all the arcane details here. Visit Blizzard's Recruit-A-Friend FAQ and the Recruit-A-Friend page for the entire scoop.

World of Warcraft and Battle Chest on sale for Black Friday

Yes indeed, this Friday is none other than Black Friday, which means the deals will be aplenty, the crowds will be horrendous, and the holiday money drain will begin (of course, you could go with Buy Nothing Day, but that seems a little too grinchy to me -- why not go ahead and buy while the buying's good?). Fortunately, there are a few WoW deals floating around out there, in case you need to pick up a copy of the game for a loved one (or that Recruit-a-friend account you've been planning to make).

The regular WoW vanilla game (useful for leveling to 60, but if you want to go past that, you'll have to buy the expansions) is on sale in a few places for super cheap -- the Ladies of Leet saw it at Best Buy for just five bucks, and Gamestop's matching that price. Gamestop also will have the Battle Chest (with WoW and BC and a few other goodies) for $19.99, and Newegg has the same price if you don't want to fight the crowds. Unfortunately, there's no sign of Wrath on sale -- you'll still have to pony up the $40 if that's the one you want. But stay tuned in the comments -- if readers can find better prices on this stuff, we're sure you'll see them below. Good luck out there, happy deal finding.

Encrypted Text: Notes from the Patch 3.3 PTR

If you've logged into WoW at any point in the past few days, chances are you've been a target of the infamous Turkey Shooter. Someone on the Blizzard World Event team decided to put us in the crosshairs during this Pilgrim's Bounty holiday season, via the Turkey Lurkey achievement. Orc and dwarf rogues are especially vulnerable, as your rarity will have people spamming trade chat with shouts of "I found one near the North Dalaran bank!"

Outside of this Thanksgiving-themed festival, there have been a ton of changes for rogues in other aspects of the game. The patch 3.3 PTR has been buzzing with new changes, affecting us from levels 1 to 80. Considering it's likely to be the last major content patch before Arthas goes down, this is Blizzard's last real attempt to finalize any balancing issues before they're pushed to Catacylsm. I believe that with a few tweaks, rogues can be more versatile than we ever have before.

Low level changes:

Those of you who have been considering starting a new rogue, I would caution you to wait until patch 3.3 if you really want to streamline the process. Blizzard is making the leveling period of 1-10 much, much easier, and they're starting rogues out with weapons in both hands right out of the gate: a dual-wielding death dealer. In addition, Stealth is being reduced to a single rank (in prep for Cataclysm) which reduces your speed while Stealthed to 70% of normal. Chalk up a 20% boost to Stealthed speed and greatly improved damage and health regeneration, all starting at level 1, and it's clear that the devs goal is to make starting a new rogue as accessible as possible. For more tips on leveling your rogue, check out Encrypted Text's guide to rogue leveling.

Preparation is also seeing a tweak, with its CD being lowered from 10 minutes to 8 minutes. This is due to the new Arena policy of "no 10 minute cooldowns", and Cataclysm's removal of all of the 'long CDs' from each class. They adjusted Filthy Tricks accordingly (from a 5 minute reduction to a 3 minute reduction), as 3 minute Preparations would be slightly overpowered.

Deadly Poison's dirty little secret:

Deadly Poison is the only pure stacking DoT in World of Warcraft, at least at the moment. While there are a few stacking DoTs, like a druid's Lacerate, Deadly Poison is the only one that doesn't include some sort of base effect outside of the DoT. If you Lacerate when you already have a 5 stack on your target, they take some amount of damage instantly, in addition to refreshing the effect. If you proc Deadly Poison when you're already at 5 stacks? Nothing but a stack refresh and a nice pat on the back for being a good rogue and remembering to use the right poisons.

In order for Deadly Poison's effect to be truly maximized, you don't want to 'waste' poison procs constantly refreshing it. Imagine if you could turn those extra Deadly Poison procs, when there's plenty of time left on your DP stack, into some sort of instant damage. Now you're gaining a ton of extra poison DPS, because you're essentially weaving those instant poison procs in with occasional DP procs to keep the stack maintained. There are so many wasted DP procs, especially now that Mutilate's favorite finisher, Envenom, doesn't consume the stack anymore. So why are we wasting so many poison procs for absolutely no gain?

In comes Adrine, addon author extraordinaire, with a shiny new mod: PoisonSwapper. A simple mod designed to automatically switch your offhand weapon (and therefor, poison) while in combat. It can detect your poison stack and the time remaining on it, and swap to a secondary offhand with Wound or Instant Poison on it when your DP stack is safely ticking away. Due to Blizzard not restricting the automatic swapping of items in combat, the entire addon is scripted and doesn't require any input on your end. If your DP stack is at 5 with plenty of time left, your backup OH swaps in and starts procing Instant or Wound Poison for you. Once the stack gets low, it swaps back until you get a Deadly Poison refresh, and then the process repeats itself.

The addon took the forums and community by storm, and with claims of triple-digit DPS gains, there was no reason NOT to be using the mod. It was advertised as "free DPS" and it truly was, but it also raised a concern that there was now a 'required' addon involved with playing a rogue in PvE. The issue is not with the addon itself, but with DP's poor scaling when the rogue is at the poison hit cap with growing haste values. Adrine found a way around that limitation, and it opened Blizzard's eyes to the problem underneath.

Mutilate had already seen a significant buff via a Murder change to make it affect all targets. Murder was often the 4% margin of difference between Combat and Mutilate on many fights, and setting it to 4% against all targets pushed Mutilate into a truly solid raiding build for any environment. This latest change that Blizzard implemented to fix the Deadly Poison problem showed up like a Christmas present on December 26th for Assassination rogues everywhere.

The fix for Deadly Poison:

Let's start off with adding 10% to Deadly Poison's proc rate by doubling the effect of Improved Poisons (from 10% to 20%). Alone, this change would be a slap in the face to those who complained about DP's broken state, as MORE waste procs would only compound the problem. The game-changer for DP comes from the second change, to Deadly Poison's base tooltip:

Deadly Poison: In addition to its existing effects, when a rogue applies Deadly Poison to a target which has already reached the maximum number of applications, this will also trigger the poison which the rogue is using on his or her other weapon.

In other words, if you have a 5-stack of Deadly Poison on your target, and Deadly Poison procs again, it actually procs the poison on your other hand instead. Assuming that you'd be using the PoisonSwapper mod to swap to the same poison as your main hand (since there is only one 'best' instant-type poison for each spec), this performs essentially the same function without the addon. You don't have to run an addon for it to work, you don't lose a GCD when the addon makes the swap, and Deadly Poison stacks faster in all situations.

Previously, a Mutilate rogue could count on Instant Poison having around a 40% proc rate on their main hand, and a constant 5 stack of Deadly Poison on their 1.4 speed offhands. Now that Improved Poisons will bring Deadly Poison's proc rate up to 50% (DP is not a PPM poison!), that means that your offhand weapon will be proc'ing your Main Hand's Instant Poison at a 50% chance every 1.4 seconds, meaning that your offhand will be doing more poison damage than both of your hands combined used to do. Unless Blizzard changes DP to be a PPM before then, Mutilate will demand the quickest OH possible in every situation and will blow every other DPS spec out of the water.


With Mutilate's poison damage spiking and Murder's new species agnosticism, Assassination has been absolutely destroying every other spec, build, and class on the PTR. Either Deadly Poison needs to be switched to PPM, or the MH poison proc it causes needs to be at half damage, or some other nerf to bring Mutilate back into the realm of every other class. Once properly tuned, Mutilate and Combat will be able to truly compete on any fight, regardless of mob type. The more that different rogue specs compete, the stronger and more balanced we will become as a class.

WoW Raid Rx: Maximizing the proc

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the idea of using spells based around procs or on-use trinkets. Now I don't know about you, but I sometimes tend to forget that I have these on-use abilities. Other times I never notice procs going off.

But first, what is a proc anyway?

A proc is short for procedure. They are events that happen when conditions are triggered. For example, Val'anyr will trigger a buff for the user when they heal players. This buff then grants the player to place shields on anyone they heal.

Chance on use procs

These ones are a bit trickier to base spells around of. They're random and the effects will only kick in after you meet a condition (heal a player, damage a target, etc). Something like Solace of the Defeated will kick in every time. All a healer needs to do is continue casting, and the mp5 buff will always be up. However, if the healer stops casting for a prolonged period of time, the buff falls off and they'll have to develop their stack again.

In contrast, you have the chance trinkets. A good example is Pandora's Plea (which has eluded me in 5 months of Ulduar farming). Your spells have a chance to increase spellpower by 751 for 10 seconds. It's good for any DPS or healer. I seem to have this problem where my trinkets will activate after a boss dies or during moments when I'm busy running around trying to survive. However, in the off chance that I'm in a good position where I'm not distracted, this is where you'll want to pop your strongest heals to take advantage of it.

Raid take a whole bunch of damage? If Pandora's Plea goes off, start dumping obscene amounts of Prayer of Healing or some other raid wide heal (Tranquility? Chain Heal? Glyphed Holy Light spam?). That's 10 seconds where your spells gain a massive bonus to healing. Take advantage of the situation.

If you're forgetful like me, there's a few addons out there that'll flash stuff on your screen to help remind you when they're active. Power Auras Classic is the standard that many players like to use in order to track what buffs happen to be up. I personally found it a bit too complicated for my taste, so I relied on something simpler like Surgetrack. It's the same idea where it'll show the icon of the proc in the middle of your screen when it's up and a timer that shows when it's going to run out.

Activated procs

Now activated procs are a different story. You get to control when these benefits occur. Talisman of Resurgence is a trinket that's accessible to any healer. Use it and gain 599 spellpower for 20 seconds. Spellpower boosting trinkets for healers should be saved when things get hectic in fights or when spike healing is required. An example of this would be say if Incinerate Flesh is active on a player and it needs to be removed at once. Activate the spellpower boost and unload your largest heals. When these trinkets should be used is largely situational and up to the player to decide.

A common question I hear players ask themselves (especially in the heat of battle) is should I save the activation of a trinket for later when I need it or use it now?

Here's a great guideline to follow when deciding trinket use that has served me well over the years.

If you have to ask yourself if this is a good time to use a trinket, it probably is.

Don't kick yourself in the butt later when you reflect and think that you could've prevented that wipe if you had that slight extra boost. It's happened to me too many times to count.

One more thing I want to add is in regards to mana regeneration trinkets. This typically applies to Druids and Priests as they're less reliant on mp5. If you're in possession of a trinket that adds a lot of Spirit like Spirit-world Glass, it's best to use it when you're not doing anything. Let the Spirit regeneration take effect without interfering.

Anything that provides stacking mp5 buffs such as Meteorite Crystal is better off used as often as possible. Mana per 5 regeneration is a constant no matter what you're doing. Use it early and every chance it's available.

Again, I'm suffering from not remembering to use these trinkets. There's two strategies behind trinket use and I'll let you in on a few tips to use these at key moments.

If you prefer manual activation, I suggest making a bar that contains your trinkets on them. Make the bar larger than your usual ones and place it somewhere prominent (perhaps in the middle of the screen but off to the side). There should be 1 or 2 icons there tops. I like to add a bit of transparency to them but that's just aesthetics.

If you prefer automatic activation, create a macro that combines your class cooldown spells with trinket use. They usually last the same amount of time (although most trinkets are 2 minute cooldowns and some classes have 3 minute cooldowns).

As an example, you could macro Talisman of Resurgence and Inner Focus together. Something like this:

/use 13
/cast Inner Focus

13 refers to the item slot number. In this case, 13 is the trinket in the top slot. 14 would be the trinket in the bottom slot. Between the two methods, you shouldn't have any difficulties with trinkets. Good luck!