Connected Realms: So it Begins…

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Update: In order to implement our first Connected Realms, Boulderfist and Bloodscalp will be taken down for an extended maintenance beginning Wednesday, September 25, at 3:00 a.m. PDT until approximately 11:00 a.m. PDT. During this time these realms will be unavailable for play. Additional realm connections are planned for the near future, and we’ll be posting a full list at WorldofWarcraft.com as soon as we’ve finalized the details.

Nethaera posted on the forums yesterday to give us a brief update on the status of connected realms, letting us know that the first two connected realms will happen today! For those that haven’t been on the internet anywhere regarding WoW recently, connected realms are a new feature coming into WoW that will (as the name says on the tin) connect realms. This is to combat the crippling decline of server populations, and hopefully bring the life back into the game again, with regards to capital cities, the auction house and PUG runs in /2. It’s basically an improved version of CRZ’s that we have at the moment, apart from it will always be the same realm you’re linked with, so you can do things with these realms that CRZ’s are limited toward.

First and foremost, this includes being able to see each other in Stormwind, Orgrimmar and Pandaria without having to get them to group with someone from your realm to get there. It also links the Auction Houses so that the supply of items should go up, which is a huge bane for some of us on quieter realms when suddenly you can’t find any Vermilion Onyx’s or other items to buy. Of course, demand will also go up, so the moneymakers among you will also be able to swindle some poor player out of far too much money than what they should have had in the first place. People on Connected Realms are also able to raid current content, and even join guilds without having to pay for a server transfer (but you have to be on the same realm list).

Overall, I think it’s a pretty good idea with little to no bad points about it. Having only moved to Nagrand recently, I can’t say I’m as close to the server community as I was to Doomhammer, so my initial backlash has all but become moot in my point of view – though there may be others who do share that point of view that I did. As mentioned above, the first two realms to receive this treatment will be Boulderfist and Bloodscalp on the US realms, to be used as guinea pigs for the rest of us. If they make it work smoothly and efficiently, we should find out more realms that will be connected in the near future afterwards. From what I’ve heard and read, the things that will be taken into consideration for which realms you will be merged with are things such as:

  • PvE realms will always be linked with PvE realms, same with PvP link with PvP, RP with RP and RPPVP with RPPVP
  • Same data centers – so for us EU players realms on one of the Frankfurt data centers won’t be paired up with realms on one of the Paris centers.
  • Faction balance will be taken into account, but we won’t see a 1:1 split A:H – Blizzard have purposefully allowed CR’s to be delayed into 5.4 to see what server populations are like when the new patch dropped, considering many people likely quit playing toward the end of ToT, and will try to balance things out slightly.

All extremely exciting times for those of us on smaller realms. For the larger realms, I believe that they’re not going to be touched by this feature, so they have nothing to worry about. What do you guys think? Looking forward to the Connected Realms, or would you prefer to be hidden away on your own realm where you know everybody already? Is there any part of the CR’s that you’re especially looking forward to, or even ones that you’re not looking forward to?

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What Addon Could You Not Live Without?

WoWScrnShot_072813_001507So, my UI is pretty messy most of the time. I have plenty of areas that could be tidied up and made to look prettier, but it’s a functional mess to say the least. 5.4 dawned on us last week, and as always there will be me grumbling that I’ll never pay for Curse Premium, but only being able to update 2 addons at once when you’re nearing 100 (of which about 30 needs updating on patch day alone) really does begin to suck. And every single time, someone asks why I have so many addons. Do I really need that many? Most likely not, but there are a few key addons that I probably couldn’t live without. Could I nail them down to a single one that I possibly couldn’t live without? Let’s find out.

Addon List

Well, here’s the embarrassing part to begin with. Currently ingame at the moment while standing in front of Ordos I am using 212MB on addons, the largest culprits being Wowhead Looter, ArkInventory and one of my Auctioneer modules. Otherwise, I have:

  • Advanced Trade Skill Window
  • Altoholic
  • AMFG Lazy Symbiosis
  • Archy
  • ArkInventory
  • AskMrRobot
  • Atlasloot
  • Auctioneer
  • BalancePowerTracker
  • Bartender4
  • BattlegroundTargets
  • BattlePetQualityNotifier
  • BGDefender
  • BigBrother
  • BLTRaidCooldowns
  • CollectMe
  • DBM
  • EnsidiaFails
  • EPGP
  • EPGP Lootmaster
  • GladiatorlosSA
  • Gladius
  • GoGoMount
  • GTFO
  • Healers Have To Die
  • LoggerHead
  • LoseControl
  • MikScrollingBattleText
  • MinimapButtonFrame
  • MogIt
  • NPCScan
  • OmniCC
  • Oqueue
  • Outfitter
  • Paste
  • PhoenixStyle
  • Postal
  • Prat
  • Quartz
  • RaidAchievement
  • RaidBuffStatus
  • ReforgeLite
  • SellJunk
  • ShaOfFearAssist
  • Skada
  • Stuf
  • TidyPlates
  • TipTac
  • TomTom
  • TradeForwarder
  • TradeSkillMaster
  • VuhDo
  • WeakAuras
  • WIM
  • Wowhead Looter
  • ZygorGuides

Quite a long list, I’m sure you’ll agree. Some parts of it can easily be pruned down, and some I don’t activate unless I’m partaking in that part of the game (Gladius, HHTD, Auctioneer, etc), but it’s still a massive list. Some just make the screen look more palatable (Stuf, Tidyplates), some are leftovers from raid leading (RaidBuffStatus, BLTRaidCooldowns), some are decent quality of life changes (Postal, ReforgeLite), and some are for achievement purposes (RaidAchievement, CollectMe). Of course there are those for raiding (DBM, Skada) as well as those for PvP (Battleground Targets, GladiatorlosSA) too, which are a godsend. But out of all the addons listed above, I’d probably say the one I’d miss the most if I had to get rid of all of them would be Weak Auras.

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Following on from the might of Power Auras, Blizzard decided to have a go at their own version of the addon, and created visual HUD images and sounds whenever a specific ability procced. This is all very nice and that, and for the casual player these effects are tremendously useful. When you get into raiding, especially heroic raiding, these simple ability Power Auras just don’t hold up too well on their own. Weak Auras is an incredibly powerful addon that will allow you to track pretty much anything. I can’t even wrap my head around all of the features and how to work them just yet, and often ask people or google for their Weak Auras to get a full pack of pop-ups on my screen. Theck over at Sacred Duty has an excellent collection of Weak Auras for many classes, and many raiders also swear by it for different encounters.

For example, on Durumu I had both GTFO as well as a weak aura to tell me if I was standing in purple stuff in the maze during Disintegration Beam phase. On Malkorok there was a Weak Aura I saw that could tell me how much of a shield I had, and if it was low I could call out for heals or yell at someone nearby to take the pool instead of me. There’s plenty of other encounters that has use for Weak Auras, like Amber Shaper’s vehicle HUD, and more. In PvP, I can track enemy buffs and debuffs so I know when they’ve used a specific ability, such as Cloak of Shadows, AMS or even have a Cyclone on them. I can track enrage effects for my Druid, Hunter and Rogue to make sure to dispel them if necessary, and my Priest, Shaman and Mage have access to magical buffs that I can purge or steal.

As a raider, I could live without DBM. Blizzard have massively improved their encounters so that anything special does have something easy to track, for example energy bars on Iron Juggernaut, Malkorok or Tortos. Or there are big warning signs that appear in the middle of your screen to tell you that something is about to happen. Skada is always nice to keep track of how well you’re performing (assuming you use it correctly) and I’ve left Omen in the dust long ago in favour of Blizzard’s threat bars – plus with 500% threat there’s little chance for me to rip aggro after the first 15secs into the fight. For PvP, although I’d be even more terrible without them, I could live without Gladius in arena if I set my current macros aside and created new ones especially for PvP/arenas. I could live without Battleground Targets and just use name plates to find targets to CC or to kill. When I play the AH, I’ve found no better addon than TSM to help me with everything – and although the quality of life coming from that addon would be severely reduced from no longer having it, I think I could live without it.

But I’d have to say that WeakAuras is the one addon I couldn’t live without. How about you guys? Are you particularly keen to stick to something like Battleground Targets, because your scene is more PvE than PvP? Maybe you’re stuck on a dead realm and you can’t live without Oqueue? Have an excellent weekend, and I’ll see you for another article on Monday!

Da T’under King Be No More

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Two posts in one day? What is this?!

As we draw a close to the 15th raiding tier in WoW, I thought it would be a good time to post my thoughts and feelings of how I thought the tier went, as well as a few other things we’ve seen over the past few months.

Starting the tier, I had to finish off my uni work, so I promoted Búllrog to raid leader for <Ex Cineribus> while I raided as a standard player and didn’t have to focus on knowing what everyone had to do and just focused on my own role. He did a stellar job, and we got to 2/13hc before I took the reigns for a short time and took us to 4/13hc before the raid team disbanded and we moved over to our new home in <OMFG Kittens>. Once there, we finished the raid tier on extremely high spirits and ended on a nice 10/13hc with plenty of time to have downtime before Siege of Orgrimmar!

And I honestly can’t say I’ve been happier with my new home!

Raiding

Looking at the raid itself, and from my personal perspectives – Blizzard did a really, really good job with Throne of Thunder. It gave us the return of Jin’rokh and several important trolls in lore in Council of Elders. Of course, the final boss Lei Shen is also a recognisable character from the questing done in Pandaria. So while we had the majority of the raid of unknown/new faces, we can safely tick the box of having bosses in the raid of ones we actually know of before going in – a continuing trend in the next tier!

The storyline for the raid worked really well too. We’re taking the fight to Lei Shen (though I’d prefer to have some Shado-pan accompany us for the first 3 bosses, or pile in after we kill bosses) until we get to the bridge between Council and Iron Qon, where we ended up getting the pathway crumble underneath our feet, to get fed to the beasts below the Throne.

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After fighting our way through the forgotten creations and beasts below the Isle of Thunder (along with a secret from years past) we finally come up against the tyrant mogu warlord and his most prized acquaintances. It is a fantastic story, the aesthetics look amazing, the fights are tuned very well on both 10 and 25 – with 10s actually having the prestige of difficulty this time around! But is it the Ulduar 2.0 we were led on to believe?

Ulduar is still my favourite raid, though Throne of Thunder does come in at third on the list behind Karazhan – but the addition of LFR has somewhat deadened what would have been an awesome tier with being able to run the place multiple times (and getting angry at people for failing mechanics). Ulduar was great because it was so short a tier that you rarely ran more than once per week – you were left wanting more because ToC was released shortly after, that simply provided better gear. Ulduar was FILLED with Titan lore, again another item that leaves you wanting more. Ulduar also provided plenty of achievements that extended beyond hard mode, beyond the standard metas – it kept you coming back again for wanting more. Ulduar was a MASSIVE raid that had tons of potential, and no matter what it always gave people a reason to want to go back and experience it some more.

Does ToT provide the same experience? Thanks to being in a much better guild than where I was back in Ulduar, the completionist side of me has been viably sated for this tier. Similar to Ulduar, the heroic-only encounter provides something that leaves you wanting more information about the Titans, but this time he’s a relatively simple fight in comparison to how Algalon was in comparison to Yogg-Saron (or so I’m led to believe). Is it the fact that I can run the place multiple times on multiple characters, and I’m just getting burnout from the raid? It certainly feels like I’ve been inside the halls of the Thunder King for many more hours than I was inside Yogg-Saron’s jail.

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Non-Raiding

Both the dailies of 5.2 and the weekly of 5.3 have been bearable, the Battlefield: Barrens even continuing my interest on some occasions after I’ve gotten everything I need achievement- or gear-wise from there. I still maintain the best daily hub for this expansion has been the Operation: Shieldwall and Dominance Offensive, with a questline intermittent between dailies at certain thresholds. Although I haven’t been to Krasarang since getting both of my gryphons, it was still an incredible questing experience, as far as WoW goes.

While this hasn’t been a heavy PvP patch for me, it does need a slight mention. With the addition of Deepwind Gorge in 5.3, I have to say I’m surprised I have yet to be motivated enough to get that Gorgeous title. I haven’t really touched much arena since moving to Nagrand, though hopefully in 5.4 with cross-realm arenas, I’ll be able to team up with my old PvP buddies I left behind on Doomhammer.

Preparation for 5.4

Even though there are plenty of resources available on what to expect later on this week, here’s another source for you to reference to in case you get lost on the way to Orgrimmar:

  • Valor points are staying – make sure to cap this week! Though there’s no new gear for valor, upgrades will be available straight away, and the current valor rewards are either changing to Justice rewards, or in the case of the Shado-pan Assault, being reduced by 34% in cost.
  • Conquest points on the other hand will turn to Honor points. Extra honor over 4k will turn into gold.
  • Lesser Charms will be able to be turned into Warforged Seal for use on tier 16 bosses. Mogu Runes of Fate can be bought from the Timeless Isle for 2500 Timeless Coins
  • Once raiding Siege of Orgrimmar you will get ilvl 528 from LFR, 540 Flex, 553 Normal, 559 Warforged, 566 Heroic, and 572 Heroic Warforged. LFR requires iLvl 496 to enter, although the Timeless Isle brings us BoA 496 gear that will turn into an item suitable for that character’s loot spec. The raid unlock schedule can be found here.
  • Crafters will want to hold onto or stockpile Bolts of Windwool Cloth, Magnificent Hide, Trillium Bars and Ghost Iron Bars to create the new 476 PvP gear, or used with 5.4’s Haunting Spirits (Spirits of War) to create 553 iLvl PvE items. Scribes have new glyphs, and Engineers get a new mount, new pet, and more!

So what did you guys think of the last tier? Did it live up to your standards? Did Blizzard bitterly disappoint you again? Are you looking forward to punching Garrosh in the face? I’ll see you later on this week after 5.4 has hit live servers!