Friday, January 30, 2015

WoW Insider Closing Down

I'm sad to report that WoW Insider, the World of Warcraft blog/news site, will be shutting down as the greater Joystiq network appears to be in turmoil due to financial reasons at AOL. I've read WoW Insider since 2008, and it has always been my favorite source for WoW news and analysis. While MMO-Champion and WoWHead might be the ones who data-mine new expansions, WoW Insider had a personal touch, not to mention far more regular posts with charming writers.

Given that WoW Insider is still a very popular site for the world's most popular subscription-based MMORPG (I have no idea what the number look like on the F2P side of things,) I hope that they can somehow manage to relaunch the site independent of AOL. But while I imagine the writers will continue to blog about WoW, we might not have the same familiar format we once knew. Reading WoW Insider has been a big part of my WoW-playing experience for most of the time I've been playing the game, and so its absence will be deeply felt.

I wish all the writers from the site the best of luck.

UPDATE: It looks like the WoW Insider staff are working on something to possibly just find a new host for the website. So I certainly hope that this simply means we'll see only a brief interruption in the site's content, and perhaps a new URL. Fingers Crossed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chapter II: Gul'dan Strikes Back

I got my last few Abrogator Stones out of Highmaul this week. With the items off the final two bosses (which are very easy to attain in LFR quite early of course,) this completes the final part of the Highmaul portion of the legendary chain (and considering that I've got all the Protection pieces and all but the Retribution necklace from LFR, I might have my main step away from LFR until Blackrock Foundry opens up.)

Spoilers to Follow:

Returning to Khadgar, the Archmage uses the stones to augment his scrying spell. He faces off against Gul'dan - who has now uncovered his doppelganget's past with the Khadgar. Gul'dan tells Khadgar that the scrying spell has worked both ways, and he sends Garona to assassinate the Archmage.

Unlike in Shadowmoon/Frostfire, Khadgar doesn't get off his Iceblock in time, and he is grievously wounded. You then take off after Garona through Zangarra, eventually getting poisoned as you pursue her into a cave, where you'll face off against her (I did this in Protection spec and had no difficulties whatsoever, though my bodyguard didn't fare as well.) After defeating Garona, you use a rune of incarceration given to you by Cordana which then allows you to capture her.

Bringing her dagger, Cordana and Jaina Proudmoore (though I imagine it might be a different character if you're Horde) come to cure Khadgar of the Fel-tainted poison. Feeling better, if still quite shaken, Khadgar augments your ring up to 690, adding a proc that I believe boosts your primary stats, and then sends you on to Blackrock Foundry, where you'll have to collect a ton of Elemental Runes to put together into tablets as well as items off the three wing bosses.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blackrock Foundry Release Schedule

Highmaul is currently enjoying its brief time in the limelight as the pinnacle raid in World of Warcraft, but its days are numbered. Blackrock Foundry is coming, and with it, the actual tier 17, with armor sets and everything.

Blackrock Foundry will open up in Normal and Heroic mode on February 3rd. Additionally, Rukhmar, the bird-god the Adherents of Rukhmar worship, will start appearing in Spires of Arak.

On February 10th (a week later,) Mythic Mode will open up for the hardcore.

February 17: Raid Finder Wing 1, the Slagworks (Gruul, Oregorger, and The Blast Furnace)

February 24th: Raid Finder Wing 2, the Black Forge (Hans'gar and Frank, Flamebender Ka'graz, and Kromog)

March 10th (so a two-week gap there): Raid Finder Wing 3: Iron Assembly (Beastlord Tarmac, Operator Thogar, The Iron Maidens)

March 24th: Raid Finder Wing 4, Blackhand's Crucible (Blackhand) unlocks, giving us the whole raid on LFR.

So you'll have almost two months to clear the raid before the plebeians in LFR get to take down Blackhand (I'll most likely be among them.) With ten bosses, BRF should last us a good long while, and while I'm sure there are plenty of guilds who will be finished with Highmaul on their preferred difficulty by the time the Foundry comes out, a lot of us will most likely still be working on it, which means that there will be even more longevity to the raids of 6.0.

There still hasn't been any hint as to what we'll be getting in terms of future raids. Blizzard had said before the expansion was released that they might only do two raid tiers if they can get their "one expansion per year" rate up to speed (though I think one every 1.5 years would be a bit more realistic.)

As of last fall, they had said that if they can get expansion six out soon enough (meaning possibly even this year - though color me skeptical) they might just race to the finish and have us handle the final raid next. Personally, I think there's a fair amount of potential left in the Draenor setting (though some adversaries seem to be more the objective of garrison campaign quests than raid-worthy enemies.)

Monday, January 12, 2015

6.1 PTR

The 6.1 PTR has apparently gone live. What is coming for us in 6.1? What defines the patch?

Well, first off, I think it's very clear that we'll be getting a sort of in-between patch much like 5.1's Landfall. While this one is coming a little later in the expansion cycle than Landfall was, it seems it will be adding new quests around the Iron Docks in Gorgrond, and will involve a continuation of the Legendary chain in which we (SPOILERS, I guess) rescue a certain half-orc/half-draenei assassin from the mental domination of her master, and gain her as a legendary follower.

While there will be that bit of content (and I really don't know how extensive the Iron Docks quests will be,) it looks like this is going to be primarily a mechanical update. (Which is probably fine, as we haven't even gained access to Blackrock Foundry yet, meaning we've still got the meat of the first raid tier to experience.)

One exciting feature, for those of you who like heirlooms (personally I've actually enjoyed going back to non-heirloom leveling, though I haven't touched any low-level alts since the expansion came out,) is that they will now be stored in a collection-style panel like mounts, pets, and toys. Presumably you'll be able to drag these into your inventory or something, and hopefully that means you'll only need one of any dual-wielded weapon (also, it'd be cool if they'd change the parry on the strength 1-h to crit so that there's something for DW Frost and SMF. And crit is straight-up parry now, so...) Also, those heirlooms will be upgradable to level 90 and level 100 (so those Garrosh heirlooms are probably less exciting now, though if you care that much, you've almost certainly gotten your main to 100 already anyway.)

There are a number of under-the-hood things, like anti-aliasing options. One exciting thing is that you'll now be able to cancel flightpaths without logging out, which will cause you to land at the next stop in your path.

The garrison is getting a bunch of new features, though no new plots or buildings. But we're getting a jukebox, which will allow you to collect music to play at Lunarfall/Frostwall. Likewise, you'll now be able to get platinum invasion ratings, which will presumably give better rewards.

Finally, Blood Elves will finally get their own model upgrades, making Goblins and Worgen the oldest character models (unless you for some reason prefer to run with the old models.)

At the moment, I think most guilds are still working on Highmaul (indeed, my guild's just getting started) so I'm not all that worried that 6.1 has no new raid content. Indeed, it almost seems like it'll be releasing right as we get into Blackrock Foundry, meaning that it could very well be a "raid patch" in a sense, even though BRF is theoretically a 6.0 feature.

Still, I'm very curious to see how the patch cycle of the expansion works out. Will we see a true middle-tier, or race on to deal with Grommash? What role will the Burning Legion play as we deal a crippling blow to the Iron Horde? Will Gul'dan be the target of those on the Legendary chain? Will he be the true final raid boss? Or will he live to continue tormenting us after we leave this strange alternate Draenor?