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by Published on 2011-04-01 03:59 AM

World of Warcraft 5.0 - Panda Mania!
In the latest Patch 4.1 PTR Build, two new halloween masks textures have been added to the game files:


  • Helm_MaskHalloween_PaF.blp
  • Helm_MaskHalloween_PaM.blp

They seem to be early-alpha texture but according to what happened with the datamining/leak of the Cataclysm races 2 years ago, it looks like Pandarens will be the race of the next expansion! The name of texture for any piece of headset always ends with the first 2 character of the name of the race (Pa) and the gender (M/F), according to how the textures look it's really easy to conclude what the new race is.


More datamining reveals that the expansion is apparently named Panda Mania! and also uncovered a possible trailer ....

by Published on 2011-04-01 12:01 AM

Paragon Sneak Peek: Ragnaros, the Firelord
Paragon just released a Sneak Peek of the Patch 4.2 Ragnaros Raid Encounter! It looks like today will be a very eventful day in the world of WoW!




Message from Paragon
As many of you have been suspecting, we have been playing on Blizzard’s private Test Realm (pTR) for quite some time now doing specialized raid encounter testing. We have had the chance to test all of the 7 encounters in the Firelands raid instance coming in patch 4.2, and wanted to give a small sneak peek of the upcoming content.

Since most of the abilities from the Ragnaros 2.0 encounter seem to have been datamined already, we thought we’d start from that, and release a complete strategy guide for the 25-man heroic mode of the encounter based on our pTR experience.

Between the intensive testing sessions we asked Lazei to write down a few words about the boss:


Lazeil:
"First I have to thank Blizzard for this amazing opportunity; we were given an unique chance to directly make an impact on WoW raid development. We love the game and we of course want to help Blizzard to make the game as good as possible. The first raid tier of Cataclysm wasn't exactly as polished and perfect as we have come to expect from Blizzard, and I guess the developers themselves probably weren't quite happy with how some of the bosses ended up dying. They contacted us, as we had already established ourselves as experts on raid stacking, clever use of game mechanics, and non-stop raiding for days on end, which made us the perfect quality assurance team for fine-tuning heroic mode encounters.

The pTR provided us with almost unlimited raid setup potential. We tried out pretty much everything, as is the Paragon raid mentality. Let's just say that the encounter initially wasn't balanced around having 20 paladins in the raid… Many changes were made, and we're happy to say that the encounter in its current state has near perfect class/spec balance. Even shamans are somewhat useful, despite the pretty much complete revamp they did with the class

As for the fight itself, what an amazing encounter. It's requires a brutal combination of LK25H-like teamplay and pre-change Al'Akir 25H P1 individual player skill. All the other Cataclysm bosses, which were all pretty damn hard to begin with, are easily blown away by Ragnaros 2.0. On top of that, we were told that in the live version there will be a surpise they didn't want to show us yet.

Unfortunately our NDA disallows making available unreleased in-game art, so we cannot share videos or screenshots from our testing. The strategy itself is fair game though, and we wanted to release it beforehand so we wouldn’t have an unfair advantage in the upcoming race. I hope you have as much fun theorycrafting the fight as we did!"
by Published on 2011-03-31 02:06 AM

Patch 4.1 Public Test Realm Notes - March 30
The Patch 4.1 Public Test Realm Notes have been updated once again and contain a lot of interesting changes!


  • Many "Account Bound" heirlooms are now labeled as "Battle.net Account Bound". (See the notes for more info)
  • A couple of classes changes from the past 2 PTR builds
  • A lot of 5-man dungeons changes
  • The rate at which Honor Points are earned has been doubled.
  • Guild Challenges are now available for testing.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Achievements
PvP
  • The following Battleground achievements have been permanently removed from the game, as they do not function correctly with the achievement tracking system:
    • Guild Gankin' in Gilneas
    • Guild Gulch
    • The Peak of Perfection
    • The Perfect Guild Storm
    • Storming the Beach

Achievements Bug Fixes
  • The guild achievements for earning exalted reputation with factions (Ambassador, Diplomacy, and United Nations) have been fixed to now correctly count cumulative guild members with exalted factions. Previously, these achievements would only count exalted factions on one guild member.
  • The guild rated Battleground title achievements should now properly be awarded.

Items
Account Bound Items
  • Many "Account Bound" heirlooms are now labeled as "Battle.net Account Bound", meaning that they can also be traded or mailed to characters that are on different World of Warcraft accounts under the same Battle.net account.
  • Mail sent to characters on the same Battle.net account now arrives instantaneously, as it does for the same World of Warcraft account.
  • Mailing account-bound items to characters of the opposite faction on the same Battle.net account will now correctly translate faction-specific items to their appropriate equivalent.

Raids & Dungeons
Blackrock Caverns
  • Aura of Arcane Haste now has a clearer visual on the bearer of the aura.
  • Bound Flames in the Karsh Steelbender encounter no longer create Lava Pools when they are killed.
  • The Short Throw ability used by Twilight Sadists has had its range reduced to 10 yards.

Deadmines
  • Ragezone cast by Defias Blood Wizards now only increases damage dealt, no longer increasing damage taken.

Grim Batol
  • Bleeding Wound damge from General Umbriss has been lowered by 20%.
  • Malignant Trogg now moves more slowly.
  • Encumbered damage bonus from Forgemaster Throngus has been reduced by 50%.
  • Invoked Flaming Spirits should prefer non-tank targets to fixate on.
  • The Twilight Flame Patch from the Twilight Drake has been removed.
  • The cooldown portion of the Twisted Arcane buff cast by Azureborne Seers has been removed.

The Stonecore
  • Ground Slam now has a pre-cast visual on the ground in front of Ozruk. In addition, Ground Slam's damage and radius have been reduced.
  • High Priestess Azil's Seismic Shard now has a more obvious warning visual.

Throne of Tides
  • Gilgoblin Hunters' Poisoned Spear direct and periodic damage has been reduced.
  • Gilgoblin Aquamages' Tsunami damage has been reduced.
  • Visual effects during the Lady Naz'jar encounter have been improved for clarity.
  • Blight Beasts summoned during the Ozumat encounter now deal less damage with Aura of Dread.

Vortex Pinnacle
  • The Air Nova ability triggered when a Gust Soldier is killed has had its knockback effect reduced.
  • Altairus now spawns closer to the center of his platform, away from the edge.
  • Temple Adepts and Ministers of Air now wait 2 seconds before starting a spell cast when they are first engaged.

Wailing Caverns
  • The maze section has been removed, and nearby creatures and bosses have been adjusted to compensate.

Guilds
  • Guild Challenges are now available for testing.
    • These challenges can be found in the Info pane of the guild UI.
    • Guild Challenges fall into three categories: Guild Dungeon Run, Guild Raid, and Guild Rated Battleground.
    • Each challenge can be completed a set number of times per week. Guild groups participating in level-appropriate Heroic or normal difficulty dungeons and raids, or Rated Battlegrounds, will automatically qualify for challenge credit.
    • Each time a Guild Challenge is completed, the guild will be awarded experience and gold deposited directly into the Guild Vault, as well as the opportunity to earn all-new achievements. A popup or “toast” will be displayed to confirm a Guild Challenge has been completed (similar to achievement alerts).
    • Guild experience earned via Guild Challenges will be awarded above the daily cap. The experience cap will move forward relative to the amount of experience obtained through completing Guild Challenges (similar to rested experience for characters).
    • Guilds already at the level cap will be awarded substantially more gold in place of guild experience.
    • Gold rewards require the qualified guild members of the group to be honored with their guild, and the guild must be level 5.
Professions
Alchemy
  • Flask of Steelskin now grants 450 Stamina, up from 300. The Mixology bonus for alchemists remains at 120 stamina.

Player vs. Player
  • The rate at which Honor Points are earned has been doubled.

Arenas
  • Arena matchmaking can now extend beyond a team's Battlegroup.
  • Battleground raid leaders can now move players from other realms among raid subgroups.

Classes: General
  • All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown will now always hit the target. This includes Pummel, Shield Bash, Kick, Mind Freeze, Rebuke, Skull Bash, Counterspell, Wind Shear, Solar Beam, Silencing Shot, and related player pet abilities.

Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Unholy
  • Desecration no longer triggers when an applicable strike hits a snare-immune target. This is primarily to avoid unnecessary spell effect clutter during boss encounters.

Druid (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
  • Cyclone duration has been reduced to 5 seconds, down from 6.
  • Lacerate bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased initial damage done.
  • Savage Defense has been redesigned slightly. Instead of a single charge absorption, it now places an absorption effect on the druid absorbing up to 35% of the druid's attack power (modified by mastery, if applicable) in damage and lasting 10 seconds. There are no longer any charges on the effect.
  • Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6, and is now trainable at level 18 (training cost has been reduced). In addition, the bonus threat from this ability has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
  • Thrash bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.

Restoration
  • Nature's Swiftness now also increases the healing done by th eaffected nature spell by 50%.

Hunter (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Pets
  • Summoned pets now start with 100 focus, up from 0.

Hunter Bug Fixes
  • Hunters will automatically acquire a new target if the current target dies in the middle of a cast.
  • Aimed Shot and Steady Shot should no longer start casting Auto Shot on a new target when the "Stop Auto Attack" option is enabled.
  • Auto Shot now automatically turns off until reactivated once Freezing Trap is cast on an enemy player.
  • Scatter Shot's disorient effect should no longer sometimes be broken by the hunter's Auto Shot.

Mage (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Arcane
  • Arcane Blast damage has been increased by 13%. cast time has been reduced to 2.0 seconds, down from 2.35 seconds.
  • Arcane Explosion damage has been increased by 30% 13%.

Frost
  • Fingers of Frost bonus damage applied to Ice Lance has been increased to 25%, up from 15%.

Paladin (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Protection
  • Sacred Duty can now be activated by Avenger's Shield in addition to Judgements. The effect now lasts 10 seconds, down from 15.

Priest (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Holy
  • Holy Word: Sanctuary healing done has been increased by 35%. In addition, it has a new spell effect.

Shaman (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Restoration
  • Cleansing Waters now has a 6-second internal cooldown.

Warlock (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Affliction
  • Unstable Affliction damage done when it is dispelled has been doubled, but this damage can no longer be critical.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Soul Swap now increases the cooldown of Soul Swap by 15 seconds, up from 10 seconds.

Warrior (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
  • Heroic Leap is no longer on the global cooldown, similar to other warrior movement abilities.

Protection
  • Gag Order now applies to Pummel and only affects Heroic Throw, giving these abilities a 100% chance to silence the target for 3 seconds. In addition, Gag Order lowers the cooldown of Heroic Throw by 30 seconds.
by Published on 2011-03-30 06:18 PM

Update
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
When you head into a mine, take a light.

There are a number of corrections to the text of tooltips in the latest test build, but the actual damage done by most of those abilities hasn't changed.

The tooltips for Frost Strike, Death Strike, Festering Strike, Devastate, Blood Frenzy and Critical Mass were all corrected. The damage on these abilities has NOT changed.

There are actual changes to Savage Defense, Swipe, Thrash, Cleansing Waters, Arcane Blast and Arcane Explosion in recent builds.

Patch 4.1 - PTR Build 13812
A new PTR build will be deployed on test realms very soon.

Achievements Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Feats of Strength

Guild - General

Guild - PvP



Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Frost
  • Frost Strike base additional damage has been reduced by 23%,

Blood
  • Death Strike base additional damage has been reduced by 33%, from 495 to 330.

Unholy
  • Festering Strike base additional damage has been reduced by 33%, from 840 to 560

Druid (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Feral
  • Savage Defense now absorbs damage equal to 35% of your attack power for 10 sec instead of reducing the damage taken from the next physical attack.
  • Swipe (Bear) damage has been increased by 75%, from 143 to 215.
  • Thrash (Bear) now scales from 19.2% of Attack Power, up from 12.8%. Bleed damage now scales from 9.78% of Attack Power, up from 6.51%.

Mage (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Arcane
  • Arcane Blast now has a 2 sec cast time, down from 2.2 sec.
  • Arcane Explosion damage has been increased by 15%, from [ 287 - 311 ] to [ 331 - 358 ].

Fire

Shaman (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Restoration

Warrior (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Protection
  • Devastate additional damage has been increased by 150%, from 336 to 854.

Arms
  • Blood Frenzy now causes the target to take 30% more damage from bleed effects when a bleed effect is applied.
by Published on 2011-03-30 01:40 AM

Patch 4.1: Guild Challenges
Blizzard released an official preview of the guild challenges found on test realms earlier this week.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
In addition to updating Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman for level-85 players, we're also excited about another patch 4.1 feature: Guild Challenges. Built into the Info panel of the guild user interface, Guild Challenges will be weekly tasks guild groups can tackle for additional guild experience, achievements, and gold.

This feature has been designed and implemented to be quite simple. At the top of the guild user interface Info pane, a new Guild Challenges section will be displayed and broken into three categories: Dungeons, Raids, and Rated Battlegrounds. Any guild group will qualify for Guild Challenges credit and there is a set number of times each challenge can be completed per week. There’s no need to add a quest to your Quest Log or anything of that nature. Just grab a guild group eligible for any of the challenges and go.

Completing a Guild Challenge will result in a popup to confirm credit has been awarded, similar to achievement popups (or “toasts”). The participating guild members will then earn experience for their guild. In addition, a gold reward will be deposited directly to the Guild Vault. The gold and experience rewarded varies for each challenge type, but you won’t have to worry about receiving reduced rewards if, say, you happen to be in a guild group that completes a raid or dungeon on normal difficulty. Since there is a limited number of times each challenge type can be completed per week, we want to make sure guilds don’t feel set back if a guild group of level-18 players receives credit for completing Deadmines, versus a level-85 guild group completing Heroic Deadmines. The same applies to normal and Heroic difficulty raid progression. Provided the content is level-appropriate for your guild group, you’ll earn experience and gold for your guild.

To earn Guild Dungeon Challenge credit, the 5-player party must be composed of at least 3 guild members. Raid and Rated Battleground Challenges require that 8 out of 10 players be guild members, while 20 guild members are required to earn credit for 25-player raids. To earn gold for Guild Challenge rewards, a guild must be level 5 or higher and the participating members must have earned honored reputation with the guild. For example, 3 out of 5 guild members in a 5-player party must be honored to earn gold for the guild. If those three guild members have only reached friendly reputation, they would still receive credit and earn guild experience, but the guild would not receive gold.

So, let’s say your guild has been regularly hitting the daily experience cap. You might be wondering how beneficial it’d be to do Guild Challenges. Well wonder no more, amigos: Guild Challenges award guild experience above the cap. Think of it like rested experience. The guild experience cap will extend itself relative to the guild experience earned by completing these challenges. It’s a great way to get an extra edge on your guild leveling! Not only that, if your guild reaches the level cap, continuing to partake in Guild Challenges will yield a much more substantial sum of gold deposited directly into the Guild Vault.

We’re very happy with Guild Challenges and feel that they’re a fun way to continue expanding upon all of the new guild features added in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Your feedback regarding this system is always appreciated, as you can be sure we’ll be looking for ways to beef it up in future patches.


Update - Patch 4.0.6 Hotfixes - March 29
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
March 25 - March 29
Dungeons & Raids
The Bastion of Twilight
  • A bug has been fixed that could cause Flame Strike during the Ascendant Council encounter (Heroic difficulty) to target an existing fire patch, instead of creating a new one.

Guilds
  • The guild perk “Have Group, Will Travel” no longer allows players to summon guild mates inside dungeons, raids, Battlegrounds, or Tol Barad when the battle is in progress. It will also not function while the player is on any transport.

Quests & Creatures
Uldum
  • Hostile NPCs are no longer present at the Temple of Uldum once the cutscene from picking up "Harrison Jones and the Temple of Uldum" finishes playing.

Ensidia is Awesome
Don't blame me for the title, that's what the game said! Ensidia was the first guild in the world to complete the I Can't Hear You Over the Sound of How Awesome I Am achievement! Congratulations to them!



Rogers (Canadian ISP) admits throttling World of Warcraft
ArsTechnica has a very interesting article about how Rogers has been throttling traffic from WoW for the past few weeks. According to the reply from Rogers (pasted below), the problem might not be fixed before June.

"Our tests have determined that there is a problem with our traffic management equipment that can interfere with World of Warcraft," said Rogers. "We have been in contact with the game manufacturer and we have been working with our equipment supplier to overcome this problem.

"We recently introduced a software modification to solve the problems our customers are experiencing with World of Warcraft. However, there have been recent changes to the game, which has created new problems. A second software modification to address these new issues will not be ready until June."


Read the full article on ArsTechnica.com


Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Paladin (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Word of Glory 20sec cooldown in Patch 4.1
I recently spoke to the devs about this, and their direction on it has not changed. We want Ret to be able to heal. However, if a Ret paladin is healing so often that a 20 second cooldown is a constraint, then that Ret paladin is spending too many GCDs healing. Spending a lot of GCDs on heals isn’t what we want a DPS spec to be doing.

We’d rather it be a big heal that is used infrequently, than a small heal that is only makes a difference to you if you give a lot of your GCDs to it. (Source)

Priest (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Holy Word: Sanctuary
I had a talk with the devs about this very issue yesterday, and they are well aware of this subject, and tend to agree with those of us (one of my mains is a holy priest) who have noticed that Sanctuary could do with a buff.

There are two things that have to be dealt with here: 1) Holy priest AE healing is pretty decent as-is, and 2) we don’t want Sanctuary to be so similar to Healing Rain.

Again, the devs agree that a modest buff is a fair solution, although it is hard to know when or by what magnitude such a buff might come along. (Source)

Warlock (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Unstable Affliction Dispell Penalty
We think the silence from dispelling Unstable Affliction is sufficiently punitive, but the damage may be too low currently - - that it isn’t scary enough to make it a decision to dispel or not.

In general, it’s not our goal to offer dispel protection for every dot or hot out there, but Unstable Affliction is a spell and mechanic we like and we want to make sure it’s doing its job. Maybe a damage bump would be enough, but in any case it's an ability we're looking at. (Source)
by Published on 2011-03-29 04:20 PM

Dev Watercooler -- Rude Interruptions
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
‘Dev Watercooler’ is a blog series that provides an inside look into the thoughts and discussions happening within the World of Warcraft development team. In our first entry, Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostctrawler" Street laid down a few ground rules:


  • 1. No promises are being made in these Dev Watercooler blogs.

  • 2. Don’t read too much between the lines.

  • 3. No complaints about the topic not being what you want to see covered.

Are spellcast interrupt abilities, such as Kick, too good? It’s easy to make that argument. We think their ease of use and low cooldown has led to a whole cascade of events in PvP. Because interrupts are so good, casters without a lot of instant spells or mobility are weak. For that reason, we tend to give casters a lot of instant spells or movement abilities, and casters who excel at those (say, Frost mages) are very powerful, while those without (say, Elemental shaman) have more difficulty.

Because interrupts are good, classes without them feel uncompetitive, which has led to us giving interrupts to paladins and druids, which in turn has led to them being even more prevalent. Because casters tend to fire off lots of instant spells while jumping around, melee can be really easy to kite. Because melee can be easy to kite, melee classes without strong mobility can suffer, and we have to consider giving high mobility to all melee, which increases the amount of uptime melee have on casters, which means we have to give casters even more powerful escape mechanisms to survive... and the arms race continues.

See where I’m going with this? Because instant spells tend to be so powerful, we have to make cast time spells insanely powerful to compete or they’ll never see use in PvP. But we have to make those spells so powerful that when they do get off, we can have PvP burst issues. (Look at how much better Frostbolt has to be than Ice Lance for mages to even consider the “long” cast.)

Nerfing all of the interrupts across the board isn’t the kind of thing we can realistically do mid-expansion. Anyone working on the raid content can tell you how important interrupts are to today's encounter design. We’d have to redesign nearly all of the raid encounters and many of the dungeon encounters as well. Of course once you increase the cooldown on interrupts, then availability of stuns gains relative power, so you have that balance consideration as well.

Instant spells do have their place in the game. If you’re worried about being interrupted because someone is chasing you, or you are chasing them, that’s a great time to use an instant spell. But actual 2.5 sec cast time spells need to have their place too and, if anything, they should be the norm.

Here's one other way in which interrupts have wide-reaching effects on the game via the chain of consequences discussed above. One of the advantages melee used to have in PvE was on movement fights. If the boss has to be kited or stays in motion, the rogues and warriors can follow along and still deal damage. It will be less damage for sure, but they’ll still get a lot of auto attacks in. It used to be the case that asking the Balance druid or Fire mage to move was a huge dps loss for them, because they were always interrupting their spells. In today’s PvE environment, that role has almost flipped. Many casters can shoot on the run and take only a very minimal DPS hit to do so. For this reason (and a few others) melee classes can feel like a liability on certain encounters. We’d prefer for raids to want a fairly even distribution of ranged to melee classes and ideally groups would have a lot of flexibility in who they bring. It’s okay to have fights that are really good for casters, but there need to be at least a couple that feel great for melee as well.

Is there a design lesson to learn here? I guess it’s some variant of the butterfly effect -- apparently innocuous designs (in this case the short cooldown on interrupt abilities) can have wide-ranging effects on all aspects of the game. I’m not sure what the game would look like if Pummel and Kick and Wind Shear had 30 second cooldowns. Clearly we’d have to redesign a lot of other abilities, mechanics, and numbers to make it work. Again, this isn’t a change you’ll see anytime soon. But it might feel better in the long run if we could get to that point.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer on World of Warcraft. He knows how to get to R’lyeh.

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