WoW: Amber, Loot, and Panda Experiences

And finally, the 300-lb panda of them all – WoW. What’s been happening in Pandaria this week?

  • Apple Cider looked at the question of whether the Mantids are actually the first gender-neutral, meritocratic race in WoW“Granted, I still believe that this is by accident, but the idea of the Mantid society defining themselves by accomplishment seems more a true reflection of the Warcraft gender politics than even us as player characters are.”
  • The Godmother looks at how we react to quests that give us the choice of being nice or nasty, especially when provoked“grant you, punching him in the mouth is not the answer, in an ideal world, but I don’t like to be told to scurry off anywhere. Use your good looks for stuff other than pretending being handsome got you where you are today. Frankly, you can stump up, pal.”
  • Want to know what the leader of the Horde thought when he met some Pandaren for the first time? Well, fortunately, as regular readers will know, he blogs” And, first impressions…well, I’ll be honest. First impressions weren’t so impressive. I mean, I realize I should know better than to jump to conclusions based on appearances, but…well…the words “roly poly” come to mind. “
  • Shy looks at the question of whether off-spec healers should be nerfed, and comes to some very interesting conclusions“Yaknow, that big ability that the boss does and everybody needs to press their cooldown button at that specific moment? Yes, that, not a ‘nice save’, pre-programmed.”
  • And Big Bear Butt comes up with a really intriguing idea/prediction for some new things that the LFR loot system might allow Blizzard to do“They could conceivably increase the chance items drop for players of lower average iLevel while reducing the chance for players decked to the nines.”

And look – no reputations!

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And In Lighter News – Pandaren, Another Shattering, and Things That Happened

There have been two pretty serious topics today, one quite upsetting. But there’s still plenty of room for lighter, more fun game-focussed writing too, as the remainder of today’s links prove.

  • The Godmother offers us her thoughts on the early beta Pandaren levelling experience – I won’t quote from this one due to spoiler potential, but it’s a really interesting post.
  • The Grumpy Elf muses on the possibilities offered by a healing class that doesn’t use manaRage:Pros: If it is based on damage you or people you are with receive it could mean unlimited resources. It would most likely need to require you to buff someone, or a few people, as the main generator of rage for you meaning in most cases it would be put it on the tank, a set it and forget it mechanic.”
  • Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer wonders if there are clues out there pointing to a second Shattering“By 2014’s expansion, the early questlines of the Shattering, in which, for example, Sylvanas and Garrosh discuss the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Lich King, will be three years out of date. Will Blizzard want this to be the first thing new visitors to Azeroth encounter? “
  • And A Sunnier Bear presents a really fun list – a look back at the distant past of 2004, and things that happened the year WoW was released“the dominant consoles were the GameCube, the Gameboy Advance, the PS2, and the XBox. My favorite game was Pokemon Leafgreen, and everyone else’s favorite game was Halo 2. The best selling game of the year was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the one with the controversial “Hot Coffee” mod).”

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Cloud Serpents, the Mists of Pandaria / Pandaren pet and mount – quests, the Order, and how to get a Cloud Serpent Mount

Oh, now this is cool. Announced in the Mists of Pandaria press event of March 2012, the Pandaren mount is the Cloud Serpent – and for the first time ever, you won’t just be given one full-grown. Oh, no. Instead, you’ll have to raise one from the egg, through to it being a mini-pet, and then finally from a pet to a mount, before training it with the Order of The Cloud Serpent in a race arena!. So, want to know how to get a Cloud Serpent of your very own? Read on!

Updated 20th September 2012

How do we get our Cloud Serpent mounts?

You’ll learn how to ride a Cloud Serpent from the Order of the Cloud Serpent in the Arboretum in Jade Forest.

Here’s the bad news, first of all: you’ll need to be level 90 before you can even start on the Cloud Serpent questline.

In order to get a Cloud Serpent of your very own to ride, you’ll first need to join the Order of the Cloud Serpent – which you can do by finding Instructor Tong in the Jade Forest. He’ll give you the quest Wild Things, which will start you on the path to joining the Order.

You’ll then need to complete three quests – Beating the Odds, Empty Nests and Egg Collection – before you get Choosing The One, at which point you’ll pick a colour and you’ll be given an egg. Yes, an egg. The egg will promptly hatch into a tiny little mini-Serpent. Note that the colour you choose is the colour of the Serpent you’ll eventually get.

Over the next days, you’ll have to do daily quests with your mini-Serpent in order to grow him to full, rideable size. You’ll need to get your reputation with the Order to Exalted before they’ll teach you to ride him – you’ll start out by doing 3 dailies defending the Order and its serpents, then add in more quests related to playing with your Serpent, using secondary professions, and more.

We’ll have more details on exactly what you need to do to get your Serpent as soon as they’re confirmed on Live.

Once he’s full-grown, can you just leap on and ride away into the sunset? Hell no. You’ll then need to undergo a further series of quests to train your Dragon – uh – Serpent, this time definitely in the Order’s racetrack – with spectators cheering you on.

You can find other Cloud Serpents elsewhere in Pandaria – but you’ll still need Exalted with the Order of the Cloud Serpent to ride them.

I won’t lie, I’m kinda excited by all this.

Haven’t we seen a “Cloud Serpent” somewhere before?

Indeed we have. In fact, Cloud Serpents are a type of Wind Serpent already in the game, mostly found in Thousand Needles pre-Cataclysm.

However, the new Cloud Serpents bear no resemblance to Wind Serpents – instead, they’re inspired by art of Chinese Dragons:

Eastern Dragon

What will the Cloud Serpents look like?

Cloud Serpents are fantastic-looking mounts. As expected, they look rather like the classical Chinese dragon, in a variety of colours.

Here’s a good video of all the available Cloud Serpent colours, from the guys at MMO Champion:

So who are these Order of the Cloud Serpent guys, then?

According to the Blizz press blitz, they’re an ancient order of flying warriors – presumably flying with the aid of the aforementioned Cloud Serpents, although in Chinese Mythology Land, it’s hard to be sure.

They’re also a faction in Mists of Pandaria, and you’ll need to grind reputation with them in order to get your Cloud Serpent in the first place.

What else do we or don’t we know?

  • We know that the designers are using the Winterspring Cub questline and rep grind as the inspiration for the Cloud Serpent chain, along with the Ungoro Crater Baby Raptor quest chain.
  • We know they sound really cool. Did I mention that?

Do you know anything else about the Cloud Serpents? Do you think they sound cool too? Let us know below!

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Blizzcon 2011 Blogosphere Reactions: Pandaren

The first two Blizzard hot topics – the new talent trees and the Annual Pass offer – I predicted. But the third hot topic has taken me by surprise.

I was expecting, maybe, a bunch of posts on pet battles, or on the Monk class. But the thing that seems to have everyone talking – or the other thing – is one word:

Pandaren :

And a quick reminder – there were more quick-fire reactions to the Pandas in our Saturday roundup

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WoW Monk Class in Mists of Pandaria – Chi, Pandaren, Brewmasters, Windwalkers, Mistweavers, talents and more

Want to play a Pandaren Monk – or any other type of Monk – in Mists of Pandaria? Well, read on – and find our Quick-Read Guides for Brewmaster, Windwalker and Mistweaver monks!

Attacks

Monks balance two resources – Chi, which can be thought of as Combo Points for the class, and either Mana (Mistweavers) or Energy (Brewmasters and Windwalkers)

Blizzard originally designed the class to not use auto-attack, but subsequently went back on that decision. Monks CAN auto-attack.

New energy type: Chi

Chi is used to power your Finisher attacks. Mistweavers use it for powerful heals, Windwalkers for powerful attacks, and Brewmasters to stay alive.

Monk weapons and armour

We know that Monks can use one-handed axes, maces , and swords, staves and fist weapons- however, they mostly use hand-to-hand attacks to build their power, then use weapons for “finishing moves”.

Monks wear leather armour.

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Monk healing

Monk healing is one of the most unique aspects of the class. Whilst they can take a more conventional healing role, Mistweavers can also heal by DPSing in melee combat!

Monk Talent Trees

Monks have three talent trees, of course.

Monk Races

All races but Goblin and Worgen can play Monks. Pandaren, Night Elves, Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes (!), Blood Elves, Orcs, Trolls and Tauren will all be able to play Monks.

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Mists of Pandaria information – Monk class, Pandaren, Dungeon Challenge, Pet Battle… UPDATED FOR BLIZZCON 2011

Breaking News – Yes, the fourth WoW expansion is indeed Mists of Pandaria. We’re told that the expansion will focus on the battle between Alliance and Horde “in a place that has been lost in time to close to ten thousands years. It is a land of balance, harmony, and hope — that is, until we arrived.”

New features in Mists of Pandaria

  • Pandaren race for both Alliance AND Horde.
  • New Monk class
  • Level cap raised to 90
  • Dungeon Challenge system with normalised iLevels and time challenges.
  • “Scenario” instances for small numbers of people, replacing group quests.
  • Entire new Asian-inspired continent with 5 areas, each larger than Twilight Highlands (allegedly).
  • Pandaren start on the back of a giant turtle. Really.
  • Pet battle system – it’s Pokemon in WOW!
  • 5 new zones – to quote the official site, “Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.”
  • Completely redesigned talent system – one talent every 15 levels, choice of three per “tier”.
  • 9 dungeons and 3 raids on launch, including Heroic Scholomance and Heroic Scarlet Monastery (split into two dungeons).

Smaller features

  • Ranged slots have been removed. Hunters now use ranged weapons as their main weapon. Casters use wands.
  • 4 new PvP battlegrounds with a variety of new formats.
  • Passive buff totems for Shamans have been removed.
  • Stats will be normalised to reverse the “stat inflation” of previous expansions.
  • No flying in the new zones until you reach level cap.
  • Many Achievements will now be account-wide.
  • The graphics engine of WoW is getting some significant tweaks.
  • Resilience is now becoming a base stat, which will increase as you level.
  • Druids now have 4 specs: Bear is being separated out into “Guardian”.
  • Spells now automatically learned. Trainers are just for changing talent spec.

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Trailers

Main Expansion Trailer:

“B-roll” zone trailer:

More soon!

Original article follows:

The discovery of a patent filed by Blizzard for something called Mists Of Pandaria has caused a virtual mexican wave of excited speculation around the blogosphere. But just how much Mists of Pandaria information is there out there? Some, but not that much. Much of what we think we know is speculation.

The most popular theory, of course, is that Mists Of Pandaria will be the name of the next World Of Warcraft Expansion, but at this stage it remains just that: a theory.

What we know

Nothing.

Blizzard have indeed filed a trademark, as you can see from the original post on MMO Champion which kicked off the fuss. Many people are saying that Blizzard could be doing this for all sorts of reasons, including just to put people off the trail. That seems unlikely – an international trademark costs several thousand dollars including legal fees, and even Blizzard doesn’t throw thousands of dollars around on a whim. However, that doesn’t mean it is the name of the next expansion. Trademarks are registered for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes don’t end up being used for anything.

Similar trademarks were filed for previous World Of Warcraft expansions, so if Mists Of Pandaria were to be the next expansion, this trademark application would certainly fit. Either way, if Blizzard follows the pattern they’ve established for previous expansions, we won’t hear anything concrete until Blizzcon in October, at the very earliest. If this leaked Blizzard product slate is anything to go by, the next WoW expansion will be released in Q2 of 2012.

Of course, that’s not going to stop the community from speculating wildly. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular theories (as well as some of the most preposterous).

Playable pandas – the Pandaren race

It’s a safe bet that an expansion called Mists Of Pandaria will feature the Pandaren in some way. These cuddly, ale-loving, ninja pandas have been a part of Warcraft lore for years, but have never featured heavily in World Of Warcraft. Whether the Pandaren become a new playable race, as some commentators are hoping (others dreading), or whether the Pandaren are merely an important faction to the new expansion’s storyline, this would be a major deal.

It’d be an extrordinary journey for the Pandaren – a race which was originally born as an April Fool’s joke! Players responded so positively to the idea of a race of ninja pandas that they became incorporated into the game lore.

Azshara and the Naga

Early rumors and speculation for the Cataclysm expansion hinted that a major player would be the Naga Queen, Azshara. That never really came to pass (although Cataclysm does expand significantly on the Naga, particularly through some of the questlines in Vashj’ir) but it may be that the Queen Azshara content was merely deferred. An expansion set in the southern Pandaran islands would be the perfect setting for a final confrontation with Azshara, and the idea of the Naga queen as an end-of-expansion boss has got a lot of people excited.

Kvaldir in the mists

The ‘Pandaria’ aspect of the thing-that-might-just-possibly-be-an-expansion is firing the most gossip, of course, but the ‘Mists’ aspect is potentially interesting, too. Mist is very closely associated with the race of giants known as the Vrykul, particularly the seafaring Vrykul known as the Kvaldir.

Their storyline opened up as part of Wrath Of The Lich King, but we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far. Everything we know about the Vrykul has only led to more questions. Were they created directly by the Titans? Are they the progenitors of the human race on Azeroth? What exactly is the relationship between the Kvaldir and the Naga?

What do you think? Do you have more hard information? Let us know below!

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Badges suck, Draenai confuse, and Pandas (presumably) Kung their Fu – the roundup

Lots of good posts today, and I’ve already selfishly taken up one spot talking about people getting their legs broken for Diablo III swords. So, it’s that time again – time for an awesome post roundup!

  • Pandas. Srsly. The Dead Good Tanking Guide has an, erm, dead good piece on the “Mists of Pandaria” possible expansion. “The gloom that has wrapped around me with Cataclysm has lifted, just a little, since thinking about what “Mists of Pandaria” could imply.” They actually make it sound good!
  • Cynwise continues the new trend of “playing WoW with your kids”, talking about just how confusing Azuremist Isle actually is, all the major time boo-boos, and what could be done about it“Dad, what do you mean they changed some parts of the story but not others? How can a story work like that? Why didn’t they change it to all fit? What are development resources? Why? Why?”
  • Big Bear Butt achieves the impossible – he actually makes the Firelands daily quests sound fun “And they’ve got this blazing phoenix flight form too, it makes me swoon with desire. Have you seen them flying around in that form, leaving blazing contrails across the sky?”. (Bonus points for making one quest sound absolutely filthy.)
  • Kurn is having an absolutely fascinating dilemma – she’s starting to think that voice chat actually makes her a worse player. “I still feel as though my play is lacking and although I have all this other stuff to take into consideration (raid leader stuff, etc), I’m not convinced that it’s not just pure laziness stemming from voice communication being available to me.”
  • And finally, Procrastination Amplification makes me facepalm with the news that in SWTOR, all loot will be purchasable with badges – “All items that bosses can drop will also be available in stores for badges? This is the epitome of boring loot. Do you know how people say that if you never take any risks you never get the chance of good things happening to you? “

Do you love badges? Understand Azuremist Isle? Still hate the idea of pandas? Find voice makes you smarter? Or just not want spiders to spew their sticky fluid on you? Comment below.

All quotes taken directly from their respective articles.

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