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Long Time, No Update
Well, it's been a while since I posted an update here on the website. There's been a ton of Mists of Pandaria news, so I hope everyone's been checking out MMO-Champion for all of that information.

On the guild front, raiding has been slow. Between the fact that Dragon Soul is getting stale and the release of Diablo 3, there just hasn't been much interest shown from anyone. As such, all recruiting is currently closed, though it may open again soon. As a guild, we're not going anywhere. Whether we hop back in the saddle by dropping into Dragon Soul in the next few weeks or whether we wait until Mists, we're intent on still being here.

Feel free to post in our forum and let us know what's going on with you. If you have a piece of news that you'd like posted, feel free to pass it on to Allisu. Here's hoping it's not too long before we're all back in game together, beating raid bosses in the face.
Mists of Pandaria - Talent Calculator Update
Zarhym mentioned on Twitter that the devs have been working on updating the talent calculator on the main site.

Quote from: Zarhym (Source)
We're working on an update to the Mists web talent calculator. Things are still in flux, but we hope you enjoy the class design progress.


Blizzard vs Valve
Well, it appears the whole DotA thing is about to come to a head. Blizzard pretty much considers the name its own, based on its use throughout the life of Warcraft 3. Valve has tried to trademark it, and that seems to have let loose a bit of anger from Blizzard. Quoting Rob Pardo:

"The issue with that was, when we were talking with IceFrog originally, he wanted to build the sequel to DOTA. So the reason to call it Dota 2 is it actually does a pretty good job of communicating to gamers what it is the game is going to be. If a gamer looks at this game and you ask them, is that Dota 2? They're going to say yeah, that makes sense. That's a good name for it. That's really what's driving that. I haven't had any customers or gamers react negatively to it. They seem to be pretty comfortable with it."

Valve's only argument seems to be that the gaming community is fine with it. Gabe Newell said:

"The issue with that was, when we were talking with IceFrog originally, he wanted to build the sequel to DOTA. So the reason to call it Dota 2 is it actually does a pretty good job of communicating to gamers what it is the game is going to be. If a gamer looks at this game and you ask them, is that Dota 2? They're going to say yeah, that makes sense. That's a good name for it. That's really what's driving that. I haven't had any customers or gamers react negatively to it. They seem to be pretty comfortable with it."

The original developers of the Warcraft 3 addon DotA have already filed to block Valve's trademark application, which is still an ongoing case. In Blizzard's opposition filing, they state fairly bluntly that they've been using the term DotA for much of the long history of Warcraft 3, while Valve has never used it publicly with a product before.

"DOTA, that for more than seven years has been used exclusively by Blizzard and its fan community, under license from Blizzard. By virtue of that use, the DOTA mark has become firmly associated in the mind of consumers with Blizzard, including to signify a highly popular scenario or variant of one of Blizzard's best-selling computer games, Warcraft III...

In contrast to Blizzard, Applicant Valve Corporation ("Valve") has never used the mark DOTA in connection with any product or service that currently is available to the public. By attempting to register the mark DOTA, Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft III computer game and take for itself a name that has come to signify the product of years of time and energy expended by Blizzard and by fans of Warcraft III."

Blizzard then goes on to argue that the World Editor EULA requires Blizzard's prior written consent to use for any commercial purpose, which they have granted to various 3rd parties for the promotion of the DotA mod. Valve's response is a denial or lack of sufficient information claim of anything that mentions Blizzard's widespread and long standing use of the mark.

At this point, either the companies will come to some sort of out-of-court agreement, or the case will move on to trial, probably later this year.


Blue Posts
Quote from: Blizzard
World of Warcraft War College – Getting Geared
The battlefields of World of Warcraft are littered with the bones of those who have become casualties in the ongoing conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. You do not need to become one of them. One of the keys to victory is knowledge, and that is where the World of Warcraft War College enters the picture. In these discussions between players, you can learn and share strategies with other players to improve your tactics and improve your odds of emerging victorious from the field of battle.

Are you a veteran Gladiator with countless victories tallied? Are you new to World of Warcraft and striving to improve your PvP skills? In this weekly feature, we invite players of all skill levels to ask questions, share tips and tactics, and join a conversation dedicated to surviving and thriving in World of Warcraft PvP.

This week, the topic of discussion is:

Getting Geared – Whether getting ready to jump into PvP with a new character or preparing for a new PvP season, it’s important to get enough Resilience on your items to be competitive. What are the best techniques you've found to gear up fast?

Join the War College forum thread here. (Official Forums)

Bind on Account items
In terms of Bind on Account items, we believe that using the mail system to transfer heirlooms from one character to another is less than ideal. We’d like to work ourselves away from that sort of item distribution model, and have some design goals in mind that would change the mechanics of how heirlooms are distributed in-game.

We think it would be wonderful to simplify the system so that, for example, you might have a constant heirloom page across all your characters that you could peruse and select from at your leisure. Conceivably, we could do something similar for pets and mounts.

As always, these sorts of design ideas are constantly being evaluated. I just think it’s worth pointing out we’re not currently aiming to create a system that would allow players to mail heirlooms across realms or accounts. We believe that would be a sub-optimal design, and we have better solutions in mind for the future. (Official Forums)

Winning Multiple Items in LFR
Our patch note is wrong and we apologize for the confusion. We'll get it updated.

The way it currently works is you'll lose the Need+ roll bonus if you win an item that drops twice from the same boss, but you won't be made completely ineligible to win it twice. If no one else has the Need+ bonus or rolls Need on the item, you'd still win it.

We have updated the 4.3.2 patch notes to better describe the way this system change works.

Players no longer benefit from a role-based need bonus on the second of multiple copies of the same item on a single Raid Finder boss kill. For example, a player who chooses Need on two set piece tokens or two weapons (and wins the first) will only automatically roll 1-100 for the second from that particular boss. (Official Forums)

Low Population Realms
That thread is one that we are monitoring continuously for feedback, and those who wish to get their voice heard on this topic will certainly get their wish granted if they post in said thread.

We acknowledge that this is a very important topic for those of you playing on realms with low population, and it is an important topic for us as well. We are looking into ways to improve the situation, but as we mentioned in the thread linked to by Danellos above, there is no simple and easy fix to this. (Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Talent Calculator
Thank you for your feedback on the Warlock talents, however as you have mentioned the talents are not set in stone right now and may change. You have to remember that the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator was placed on the website towards the end of November last year and it has not been updated on the website since. During these past few months of development though, there would have been major changes that are not able to see yet.

We will probably not be updating the talent calculator until we're around about at the point of the friends and family alpha test. The reason for this is that it is not exactly useful or efficient for us to be continuously updating the calculator at this stage.

There have been no announcements for when an update to the Talent Calculator will be released. But I am sure we are all hoping for a more up-to-date talent calculator to be revealed, because I know everyone would like to see what has been done to refine and improve upon the ones we see now! (Official Forums)

Annual Pass and Diablo III Release Date
I've seen these threads before, and it’s concerning to me. I'm confused as to what people believed the Annual Pass provided when they signed up.

It's a year-long World of Warcraft contract for people who would be playing World of Warcraft for the next year, but who also want to play Diablo III. In those cases we say Ok, agree to pay through for that year, and you don't have to make the choice, we'll give you Diablo III for free, plus a bunch of other goodies just in case you're not totally sold.

I'm not sure how a Diablo III release date impacts your intent to continue playing and paying for World of Warcraft for a year. Or maybe a better question is, how does a free copy of Diablo III being released at any different point in time affect your intent to pay for World of Warcraft for a year?

Even if Diablo III was to release after your 1 year contract was up and paid off, you're saving the cost of a copy of Diablo III, and keeping all the extras. I don't see how that's a trick, or a scam, or otherwise a bad deal. Unless you were buying it, not intending to play WoW, believing it would get you Diablo III sooner than other people?

I sympathize with people excited about the game, and disappointed it’s not out, I want it to be finished as much as anyone, but I just have trouble understanding this point as I see it consistently made.

I know there was some wording on a website page somewhere saying 'early next year', but I'm not aware of the actual Annual Pass agreement having any release date schedule ever mentioned for Diablo III or the Mists beta.

In any case, assumptions that a contract was in any way changed aside, it doesn't change the value of the Annual Pass and the fact that you're getting Diablo III for free. (Official Forums)



WoW Monopoly and StarCraft Risk
Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
We’re pleased to announce a partnership with USAopoly to release fresh takes on two classic board games. Monopoly®: World of Warcraft® and RISK®: StarCraft® combine tried-and-true foundations with new designs and gameplay elements inspired by our popular gaming universes. Those who dare to engage will discover a new chance to claim supremacy, both over their friends and over the battle-torn lands of Azeroth and the Koprulu Sector.

These games will formally debut at the 109th annual Toy Fair this Sunday, February 12 in New York City.

We’re holding a poll on Facebook right now where you can vote on which player pieces will make it into the final Monopoly: World of Warcraft board game! Ten options, including Murky, Chen’s Keg, Mechagnome, and a Spellbook are present, and the six most popular pieces will be represented in the game when it launches this May. [...]



The MMO Report
I haven't posted one of these in a while, so why don't I just give you TWO? Yeah, who's the best web guy ever? Yeah, this guy... with the thumbs.



Blue Posts
Well, there have been a lot of blue posts lately that needed to be posted. I'll just get out of the way and put them here to be read.

Dragon Soul Difficulty Changes
Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
During the scheduled server maintenance on the week of January 31, the Dragon Soul raid will become enveloped by the “Power of the Aspects” spell, reducing the health and damage dealt of all enemies in the raid by 5%. This spell will grow progressively stronger over time to reduce the difficulty and make the encounters more accessible. The spell will affect both normal and Heroic difficulties, but it will not affect the Looking for Raid difficulty.

The spell can also be disabled by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz at the beginning of Dragon Soul, if a raid wishes to attempt the encounters without the aid of the Dragon Aspects.

For those of you who raided in Firelands and/or Icecrown you’re no doubt aware that as time goes on we want to keep people progressing by adjusting the difficulty. For any number of reasons a group may be having difficulty on a specific encounter each week, and our intent in adjusting the content is to ensure the ability to keep progressing, enjoying the content, and gearing up. With Icecrown we progressively buffed the players, and while this slow progression (and ability to opt-out of the buff) were both beneficial, it led to an expectation of your characters power, and once you left the raid you could certainly feel less effective. For Firelands we attempted to fix that by nerfing the content instead of buffing players, but we nerfed the content difficulty all at one time, which was counterproductive for players who really didn’t need as severe a change as we made. With Dragon Soul we’re attempting to do the best of both by having a progressive nerf to the content, keeping player power constant while providing small increases in assistance over a long period of time, as well as allowing players to opt-out of the assistance by speaking to Lord Afrasastrasz.

We hope you continue to enjoy Dragon Soul, and that these changes encourage you to attempt a higher difficulty, or just keep pushing to down that next boss.


Mists of Pandaria PvP
Quote from: Vaeflare (Source)
One of our upcoming goals in Mists of Pandaria is to make the gap between the overall DPS/healing of both PvE and PvP items smaller. In fact, we have design plans for new PvP combat mechanics that will make PvP gear and weapons markedly better in PvP than equivalent level PvE gear and weapons.

The overall goal is to reduce the barrier for crossing between PvE and PvP (and vice versa), as well as to also ensure that PvP gear is the best in PvP, and PvE gear is the best in PvE. More details on these upcoming changes will be posted as they become available.

Regardless of anyone’s rankings past or present, the process of learning and striving to improve never stops: it helps even the most battle-hardened gladiator remain able to go toe-to-toe with their fiercest opponents.

In team-based combat such as Arenas, pressuring an enemy in order to go for a kill or striving to protect your comrade from being the brunt of a focused assault are part of the experience, no matter what classes are driving to get the job done. Most matches are an incredibly complicated dance between combatants: a push and pull of offensive and defensive tactics, of coordinating switches, interrupts, dispels, crowd control, and of learning when to use your particular cooldowns or abilities, and when to change your tactics on the fly. Depending on who you ask, what class they are, what brackets they are in, and what team compositions they run, you are likely to get a totally different answer as to what particular class gives them the most trouble at any given time.

As far as the current balance of various classes: it’s something we are, as always, keeping a close watch on. We welcome you to post constructively about your observations in the appropriate threads, and the more focused and on-topic you can keep it, the better.

While it's not possible to address every individual thread or concern of the community, rest assured we are listening, regardless if you see us post within a particular thread or not.


Miscellaneous Blue Posts
Quote from: Blizzard
Allow Players to Turn Off Enchant Effects
I realize this thread has been around for a while but the topic is still relevant. As many of you may or may not know, weapon enchants have been a feature of World of Warcraft since the beginning. Providing iconic and recognizable looks to various enchants is something that’s added an element of uniqueness to the game and to your character. However, we do understand they can sometimes overpower the aesthetics of the awesome weapons you can obtain in game now. It’s certainly something we have discussed with the developers recently and we’ll be looking into potentially allowing an enchant toggle. If and when such a feature is introduced, we’ll be sure to let the community know as soon as possible. (Official Forums)

Damage in Arenas
As you already mentioned, in the upcoming patch there is a change to Vial of Shadows that should reduce some of the burst damage you are experiencing in PvP.

Dying in openers certainly isn't fun, and can be incredibly frustrating if you're the one on the receiving end of such a coordinated attack, but don't give up! In addition to perhaps taking some time to focus on other activities such as Rated and unrated Battlegrounds where you have more people to watch your back, you might also consider browsing some PvP videos from other members of the community to not only help inspire you, but to also arm you with a further arsenal of tactics that you can use to your own advantage against opposing teams.

Also, from my own experience, when I was having a lot of trouble against a certain class or spec that I felt countered my usual tactics, I found it helpful to sometimes grab a friend that played that class and spent some time dueling them so that they could critique me on areas where I could improve my skills, including my timing on using certain abilities, and how I could counter some of their own tactics. That way when I stepped back into arenas, I was more confident in my own skills and felt better-prepared for how to expose the weaknesses of my enemies.

Keep at it, and remember there are players out there equally as scared to see you step out onto the Arena floor.(Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Expansion Name
It's not irrelevant, particularly given almost everything that happens after the Cataclysm and Deathwing's demise is centered around the discovery of this new continent. These forgotten lands, as well as the way the Horde and Alliance go about exploring them, are central to the overall story line (much like Illidan and the Burning Legion were to The Burning Crusade, the Lich King and his Scourge were to Wrath of the Lich King, and Deathwing's destructive return to Azeroth was in Cataclysm).

I'm not sure I understand your argument. It feels like you're claiming we're naming the expansion after a new race's starting zone (not true) and arguing that's "jumping the shark." If you're only taking issue with the title, I don't think that qualifies for such a label at all. More importantly though, I get the sense you learned only two bulleted details about the expansion (new race and new land to explore) before deciding to post this thread. (Official Forums)

Encounter Designers Who Worked on Ulduar
What a coincidence! We happened to talk about raid design and results with Ghostcrawler and Mumper yesterday, and everyone looked back fondly on Ulduar, among others. Yes, the same designers and artists who worked on Ulduar are still working on raids.

Here's the thing -- Ulduar is an example of a raid where lots of players got to enjoy the first few bosses, and very few players ever saw the last few. Yogg Saron and Algalon were among the least-killed bosses ever, and not because they were exceedingly difficult. Rather, clearing the dungeon all the way to Yogg took up a big chunk of a raiding week (and you only had an hour to kill Algalon), and the ability to extend raid lockouts came later in 3.2.0 (but extending raid lockouts means getting less loot overall). Raid Finder partially resolves the length-of-raid problem, so we can consider designing longer raids, but that's not always an easy call. Long raids mean longer development time, and while some players might be willing to wait, we understand why others might get impatient.

Of course, having multiple raids in a tier (like the combination of Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent) has the advantage of giving players different environments to play in while potentially making scheduling and logistics easier.

Pushing a big red button for Mimiron was very cool, and again is fondly remembered. We have created something like 40 raid bosses since the creation of those encounters however, and we cant help but think that it would start to feel really gimmicky and forced if every raid encounter had its difficulty set by pushing a button, (or not killing adds, or changing the order you kill the bosses, or the other mechanics we used in Ulduar). We think Mimiron would feel less special if there were six more bosses in the game with big red buttons, and we’re just not sure the design space is there to have a near infinite variety of means by which players launch a heroic mode in game.

Nonetheless, because there are so many requests for those style mechanics, we are considering doing a few bosses with optional modes (in the same way Mimiron, Freya or Sartharion had them) in Mists of Pandaria. (Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Talent Trees
One of the problems we're specifically trying to address with the new talent system is getting back a little to the sense that there are 10 classes in the game (soon 11) instead of 30 (soon 34). A common complaint we saw about the Cataclysm talent design was that hybridization was greatly downplayed. Now it’s easy to dismiss going down two trees as never really having worked out, but it’s clear that many players are in love with the idea of doing so.

We also just want to keep the total number of talents under control, since the intent is that they have pretty big effects. If you're facing a Frost mage in PvP in Mists of Pandaria, you’ll have even less of an idea of what is in their toolbox than you do today. If you're a raid leader, you won’t be so certain what abilities your Discipline priest has to deal with the upcoming boss. A little of that keeps gameplay feeling fresh, but too much of it can be overwhelming. If each of the three mage specs, for example, had different talent choices, then we would have 612 total talents in the game instead of 198. Even 198 is a lot to learn. We also have the suspicion that coming up with 612 really awesome talents will be much more challenging. One of our design philosophies is concentrated coolness: have a few awesome things instead of a lot of mediocre things.

Now in some ways we are strengthening the concept of a spec by really pushing rotations and some other signature spells to specific specs. Immolate is Destruction only. Backstab is Subtlety only. Given that, talents are a great vehicle to make sure that your character still feels like a warlock or a rogue at the end of the day.

We really want to avoid talent synergies where only one talent on a tier makes sense for your character. This would be the case if say Fire mages did bonus damage with only Fire spells, or there was one healing talent on a tier competing against two DPS talents for your priest. Please continue to bring up concerns you have in this regard (though not necessarily all in this thread) and we will try to address them. (Official Forums)

Intellect on Plate
The situation with intellect plate is an ongoing discussion among the designers, but we have yet to come up with a solution that's better than just continuing to make intellect plate.
  • Let Holy paladins wear Strength plate – This would require a lot of conversions. Does hit become Spirit? What happens to expertise? Do all Strength items convert or just actual armor pieces? Can paladins mix and match with Intellect jewelry and trinkets? Do Holy paladins also hit really hard in melee, or do they lose that ability? Does it make paladins too effective as hybrid classes if they can share much of their gear across three different roles?
  • Let Holy paladins wear mail – Our mail is designed to look like shaman or hunters, not paladins. It’s cruel not to let a paladin wear the paladin tier armor, and also weird that a given tier piece could be plate or mail even though it looks identical.
  • Let priests wear plate – We like the design for priests as cloth-wearers, we would not want to drop less cloth overall (since only mages and locks would need it at that point), and we don’t want priests to look like warriors, DKs or paladins.
Individually these aren't difficult problems, and we have the ability to solve each of them, but at the end of the day the designers don’t think any of those solutions are preferable to just keep on making Intellect plate for Holy paladins. Maybe someday there will be a new class that also uses Intellect plate. (Official Forums)
MMO-Champion reports that the Lunar Festival is coming around again this year. They have added two new pets this time!


Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
Every year the druids of Moonglade hold a celebration of their city’s great triumph over an ancient evil. During the Lunar Festival, citizens of Azeroth have the opportunity to honor their elders by celebrating their sage wisdom, sharing in magnificent feasts, and of course…shooting fireworks!

The Lunar Festival returns to Azeroth in a cascade of pyrotechnics on Sunday, January 22! With the start of a new year, elders of generations past manifest around the world to impart their wisdom upon all who would listen. Should you encounter these venerable spirits in your travels and take the time to heed their wisdom, they may even pass along tokens of their gratitude -- Coins of Ancestry, the lessons of a past age in physical form. Gather enough of these Coins of Ancestry and the Cenarion Circle will open to you their stores of celebratory fireworks, trinkets, garbs, and recipes!

The Cenarion Circle have even more cause to celebrate this year than any previous, for this year also marks the first Lunar Festival since the return of many Ancients that had fallen in battles past: Goldrinn, Malorne, Aviana, and Cenarius himself. But this celebration is muted by the eternal torment of one of their own -- Omen, blessed by the moon goddess Elune, has risen again from the depths of Moonglade’s lake. Driven mad by the Burning Legion’s tainted magics during the War of the Ancients, Elune’s blessing of immortality means that he will forever be cursed to return in his maddened state at the advent of a new year. Heroes are called to help ease this tormented Ancient’s suffering, in the hopes that perhaps next year will see him return with a clearer mind.

Lunar Festivities end Sunday, February 12.