Will 7 fresh days draw an old player back to Azeroth?

He thought he got out. But Blizzard might just have sucked him back in.

Yes, The Ancient Gaming Noob has once again returned to Azeroth’s increasingly blocky but still comforting shores, courtesy of Blizzard’s free 7-day re-trial offer. (The same one, I might note, that they keep offering me – someone who still has a subscription. But I digress.)

And it was good! He was taken in again by the quest design, by the slick UI, by the familiarity. But will Azeroth succeed in reclaiming another blogger?

At the rebel camp I was greeted with several familiar quests. If Red Ridge had been almost completely redone, then it looked like Northern Stranglethorn had retained a large number of its old stable of quests. There was the one for the jungle remedy and for finding documents in the Kurzen camp along with the pointer quest to the Nesingwary campsite. I started filling up my quest log, then ran along to add in the expected hunting quests from the Nesingwary expedition.

And I got what I expected. There was a quest for croc skins along with the panther, tiger, raptor (10 each please) hunting quests. The first real surprise was the Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest. Once a wonder in its inventory clogging ability, it now needs just one drop. It appears that only page 14 is still missing from the book, and it showed up with my first kill.

Read The Seductive Comfort Of Azeroth

And read Wilhelm’s follow-up post, too: Wrapping Up Seven Days Of Azeroth

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Hate Cross-Realm Zones? There may be a refuge.

Just a quick mini-post to round off the week – if you’re one of the many people who hate WoW’s Cross-Realm Zones, there may be a refuge!

That’s right – as Olivia Grace at WoW Insider reports, it’s been discovered that several US realms are actually not connected to the Cross-Realm Zone system:

“The tweeter who tipped us off sent over a Game Master’s response to his ticket asking if there were any CRZ-free realms, confirming that The Venture Company and Ravenholdt are both exempt from the cross-realm zone system. A little research confirms that the Venture Company forums have various threads discussing the absence of CRZ on their realm, and welcoming what they call “CRZ refugees” with open arms.”

Read about it here

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What Do Raiders Do When They’re Not Raiding?

Man – or woman – cannot live on raids alone. But what do raiders do when they’re not raiding?

A hell of a lot, as it turns out. Jasyla of Cannot Be Tamed wrote a fascinating post this week looking at what her guild, Apothesis, does to help the guild bond and have fun when they’re not raiding. It’s an interesting, varied list, and might be quite inspirational for any guild leaders struggling to keep things fresh:

“Sunday afternoons a bunch of us meet up in the Deeprun Tram for some Brawler’s Guild. We all get on Mumble to chat, share strategies and cheer each other on as we try to beat everything Gizmo can throw at us. I know Brawler’s Guild was sold as a solo PVE activity, but being grouped for matches is a great bonus since we can get fully buffed up and have the spectators act as coaches.

Sure, having ~10 people from our guild alone makes for longer queues, but having people to chat with makes it much more fun. These have been temporarily put off as most people have completed all ranks or have hit a brick wall but they’ll start up again soon, once people get a bit more gear. For now, people are doing old raids on Sunday instead.”

Read “Anatomy Of A Raid: Extracurriculars” here

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No New Dungeons? What Does That Mean For WoW?

Yep, the word is out – there will be no new 5-man dungeons, at all, for the rest of Mists of Pandaria.

That’s pretty startling news – but what does it mean?

Well, several bloggers have been looking into that very question – and they’ve got some interesting theories…

  • Azuriel thinks that the very notion of a 5-man dungeon is outdated in modern WoW, and he thinks we might be inches away from them disappearing entirely“Are they necessary for anything anymore? “Practice for raiding?” I don’t know if anyone would agree that they have such an effect, if they ever did. “
  • And The Grumpy Elf actually thinks this is a really good thing that will free up resources for other areas of the game“As far as I see it, no new five mans means we have the potential for more content, better content, and I actually am being pushed to play those characters I do not play often more. “

What do you think?

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New And Exciting In the MMO World

To round off this week, we’ve got a bit of a grab-bag of coolness. Yes, it seems that the MMOsphere is starting to recover from its release-stupor, and there are all sorts of new things starting to look shiny on the horizon – or here already…

See you next week!

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Get Your Fascinating WoW Dataz Right Here

Cynwise is back! That’s a cause for general jubliation, but in particular, I’m excited because he’s got his data analysis hat on, and he’s back looking at the State Of WoW Gaming.

This week, he’s got some preliminary statistics on WoW pre-Patch 5.2 – who’s playing what, when and why. So if you want a unique, fascinating insight into the state of the game, look no further:

“The reason I think Rogues aren’t in any new state of crisis is because of the data above. When you look at the class across all levels, they’re pretty solid (and don’t show any decline.) But as soon as you get past level 85, the numbers fall off precipitously. People haven’t wanted to level them – yet. Perhaps they leveled one so their guild could get the legendary daggers in Dragon Soul. Perhaps they saw how they were performing in PvP and switched (more on that later.) But they’re there – just not at the endgame.

There’s a different set of problems there, of course. Why is there this drop off? Why do people not want to level Rogues to 90 but do want to level Paladins or Shamans or Warriors instead? There are problems here, but they’re not as simple as the problems affecting Warlocks in Cata.”

Read The Rest Of Cynwise’s Analysis

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Is WoW’s Votekick System Still Ridiculous?

It’s not a new topic of discussion, but that’s because it’s still annoying. Yep, it’s the perennial WoW debate around griefers, LFD, and the votekick system – a system which many players have argued for several years is completely broken.

Today, veteran blog That Was An Accident is the latest to express frustration with the votekick system, in an excellent, heartfelt piece of blogging. They argue that LFD votekick is a system which they argue holds the rest of the group hostage so as not to risk offending griefers:

“I have seen times ranging from seconds to four hours. If the delay remaining is under ten seconds, just let the player be kicked now. Any wait period over five or even ten minutes is ridiculous given the speed at which most folks rocket through dungeons. Any duration longer than the time needed to actually complete the dungeon is pointless – you can’t kick them, ever, no matter how badly they treat you or the party. With the current setup, you can only leave (or abandon, whatever you’d like to call it) and get Deserter status for refusing to feed the trolls/get stressed out/play in a world where inconsiderate behavior is the norm.

Look, beating your head up against a brick wall does nothing to build community, protect people from trollish behavior or help people learn how to cooperate with each other. It makes tanks quit and turns the rest into cynics who talk about how Barrens chat was better than Trade and woe the WoW community is a piece of crap nowadays RIP Vanilla forever. I’d gladly take Deserter status over dying with every other pull, and I’m the sort of person who tries to teach huntards how to turn off Growl.”

Read That Was An Accident’s post here

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Readjusting To Life In The Casual Lane

Ever had a huge project, one which has consumed most of your life? And then, one day, it’s finished – and you don’t know quite what to do?

I’m a filmmaker, so I certainly know that feeling. And that was what I found so interesting about Beruthiel’s latest post – she’s going through a very similar experience, having decided to stop raiding in WoW. From the feelings of “what now?” to the new activities she’s loving, it’s a really interesting piece:

“It took me some time, but eventually I realized that stopping raiding wasn’t closing a door for me – but rather it was opening about one hundred other doors. All of the sudden I had all of this free time to do whatever I felt like doing, and this realization was freeing. It was like someone turned on a light bulb over my head, and all of the sudden I was making lists of things I wanted to accomplish in WoW and started checking those things off those lists.

And the best part? Everything is on my schedule.

If I want to log in and play, I can. If I’d rather sit down at watch 4 hours of Buffy, I can. And it is…liberating (in its own way). I guess it just took me a bit of time to be comfortable with this new found free time and work out, in my own way, how WoW now fit into my (suddenly open) schedule. I will admit, making the adjustment was more challenging that I thought it would be. The adjustment of more free time was immediate and welcome, but the adjustment of figuring out how new WoW fit into my life was not as seamless as I would have thought.”

Read the rest of the article

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Is Valor Point Upgrading Stressing Raiders Out?

Theck’s back today with another really interesting, in-depth column – this time, looking at the effects of the new Valor Point mechanics on raiders, alts, and the game as a whole.

He starts out talking about alts in Mists – but there’s more to this discussion than that, as he takes in an overview of raiding vs time in this entire WoW expansion:

“In previous expansions, there was a distinct cycle to a player’s involvement throughout an expansion. When a new raid tier or patch arrived, it generally added new stuff to do, and most importantly new reasons to care about valor points. Generally, those reasons were valor point gear rewards, and for a long stretch of time that included tier items. A patch might also introduce new reputations to grind, or new dailies to do (or both), or other new “stuff” like quest lines, pets, or what have you.

And the response of a raider was predictable: you’d log in and do a bunch of that stuff on your main character for a few weeks. Valor accrual was the most important part of those activities – if you considered yourself a serious raider, you were making sure to cap your valor point income each week during that period to make sure you got your hands on that new gear as soon as possible. If you weren’t already clearing enough raid bosses to cap each week, you were out there running heroics to make up the difference.

However, a month or two into the tier, the situation became totally different. ”

Read the rest of the article here

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Did Vanilla WoW Really Suck?

There’s been a popular backlash against Vanilla WoW lately. It’s not surprising – for a while, a lot of players have been loudly complaining that they wanted the “old WoW” back. It was inevitable that many other people would point out that the old game did indeed have flaws.

But was it really as bad as all that? I don’t think so, actually – and neither does Erinys, who writes an excellent summary of the arguments against “Old WoW”, and where she feels they fall down:

“An officer in my first proper guild said to me one late night, “All you have in WoW is your reputation” and back then it was true. Behave badly and your chances of a decent guild, good runs or being asked anywhere were pretty much zero. Community mattered, both in and out of guilds and was cemented by the same server battlegrounds. I knew pretty much everyone on my faction at level 60, either because I’d played with them on some dungeon run or other or through pvp or simply by word of mouth. Now I know a handful of people on my current server and through the use of LFR, LFD and random battlegrounds have no incentive to get to know anyone.”

Read The Rest Here…

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