Archive for the ‘Raiding’ Category

Ulduar: Defiance – Part III

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRLgx1sjwp0[/youtube]

So today’s the big day: the final installment of Ulduar: Defiance has been posted, and it’s just as amazing as the first two. I mentioned the first video back at the beginning of September, and the second video was posted only a few weeks ago. Now, the final episode is up in all of its high-quality, epic, beautifully created glory.

The video above doesn’t really do it justice: you have to head over to YouTube and watch it in high-quality and full-screen. The last video takes our intrepid crusaders through the last remaining bosses in Ulduar, complete with audio and beautiful shots that do an excellent job of re-creating the epic feel, the visions and sounds you hear, and ultimately the entire experience of the dungeon itself.

It’s my hope that the creator of the trilogy, Atraira, doesn’t stop with the Ulduar series of movies (and to be fair – without spoilers – there’s an indication in the video that there may be something more, or at least we’ll see the primary character again) – they’ve been spectacular, and considering this is probably the only way I’ll personally see the content anytime soon, I hope she moves on to create more videos – maybe for Icecrown Citadel?

Blizzard Releases Details on Icecrown Citadel

Icecrown_Citadel

Blizzard hasn’t made the announcement in the United States yet, but up on the EU World of Warcraft site you’ll find tons of details about Icecrown Citadel, part of which is already live on the PTRs, and all of which is scheduled to arrive in the upcoming patch, 3.3 – expected to be the last major content patch in Wrath, setting the stage for a few minor patches to prep us all for the Cataclysm.

Given the speed with which we’re seeing announcements and testing from Blizzard, a couple of things are possible – either Cataclysm is much closer than we thought, there’s another planned content patch before the end of Wrath, Blizzard was listening to the people who look at the Trial of the Crusader and Trial of the Champion as somewhat drawn-out content, or some combination of the above. In any event, The EU site has a rundown on what we can expect in Icecrown, and what the 5-man dungeons and 10-25-man raids within will look like:

Icecrown Citadel will feature a massive five-player dungeon sprawling across three wings of the citadel’s foundation. While the Lich King’s attention is focused on the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade ripping through the front gates, players will be tested as they assist Jaina Proudmoore (Alliance) and Sylvanas Windrunner (Horde) in infiltrating the citadel through an alternate entrance.

An epic quest line will present adventurers with the task of weakening Icecrown Citadel’s forces, requiring that players defeat the challenges in each dungeon wing before venturing into the next one. Normal and Heroic versions of the dungeon will be accessible to players, although each wing will be considered a separate instance; therefore, on Heroic difficulty, each wing will have its own separate lockout timer. All-new rewards — including item level 219 (normal) and level 232 (Heroic) loot — will be offered to those who destroy some of the Lich King’s most formidable allies.

The Forge of Souls
Serving as the first wing in this expansive dungeon, the Forge of Souls will quickly put players to the test of carving through the Scourge stronghold into deeper, more treacherous locations. Jaina will command Alliance forces, and Sylvanas will direct Horde forces. The goal is to ruin the twisted engines known as soul grinders found in this portion of the citadel, and then players can advance — that is, if the Horde and Alliance forces can overcome the foes who confront them.

*** Bosses
* Bronjahm, the Godfather of Souls: An instrument of reckoning, Bronjahm watches over the engines in the Forge of Souls. He must be killed if the soul grinders are to be destroyed.
* The Devourer of Souls: As the chief operator of the engines found in this wing, the Devourer stands guard over the souls stolen by the Lich King.

Pit of Saron
Accessible only to those who have laid waste to the Forge of Souls’ unholy operations, the Pit of Saron will bring Horde and Alliance forces deeper into the Lich King’s domain. Players who venture here will immediately be confronted by the lord of this lair, Scourgelord Tyrannus. But defeating him will not be as easy as it seems. Before they can present a threat to Tyrannus, the adventurers, instructed by their leaders, will need to free enslaved allies who have been trapped by the Scourge. Until that happens, Tyrannus will leave all adversaries to his minions, workers of the citadel’s mines. Perhaps the challenges here will lend clues as to the whereabouts of the Lich King’s private chambers outside of the Frozen Throne, deep within the Halls of Reflection.

*** Bosses
* Forgemaster Garfrost: A master of Scourge weaponry, the forgemaster hauls stocks of saronite ore and other precious materials to the cold forges where the mechanisms of death are born. With a host of rime weapons and exotic alloys at his disposal, it could get cold in here.
* Krick and Ick: Zombies serve as mindless muscle in the Pit of Saron’s mines, stockpiling metals for Forgemaster Garfrost, and Krick — a devious leper gnome — supervises the operations from atop Ick, Krick’s ghastly means of transportation.
* Scourgelord Tyrannus: Tyrannus is a terrible force who will no doubt demonstrate his powers to those brave enough to enter the Pit of Saron. The scourgelord must die if players hope to make their way into the third and final wing of this dungeon.

Halls of Reflection
With Jaina and Sylvanas leading the way, adventurers who make it as far as these frigid halls will quickly recognize the weapon that lies ahead: Frostmourne, the corruptive, legendary device of the Lich King himself. The Lich King’s private chambers are within reach, although they may be the death of anyone who ventures there.

*** Bosses
* Falric and Marwyn: Captains for Arthas Menethil in life, Scourge commanders for the Lich King in death, Falric and Marwyn will be summoned to the Halls of Reflection for one purpose: destroying all intruders.
* The Lich King: Sylvanas, thirsty for vengeance against the corrupted prince who sentenced her to an existence as an undead monstrosity, and Jaina, eager to find a flicker of Arthas’s soul locked somewhere within the Lich King, have brought their hand-picked allies to this final confrontation. Arthas’s true power may only now be discovered. Is there any hope in this mission, or does only death await?

Looks like we’re marching quickly to a standoff with Arthas himself. Does he live or die? Do we fnid salvation for him or do we slay him, Ner’zhul (who’s posessing him – voluntarily), and shatter Frostmourne where they all reign?

Also, does Bronjahm get his groove on? Does he remind us all that it’s a man’s world but it don’t mean nothin’ without a woman to love? (Bronjahm, the Godfather of Souls, is clearly homage to the late great James Brown, also known as The Godfather of Soul.)

Keep an eye out for more announcements as 3.3 gets closer!

Ulduar: Defiance – Part II

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUOaq01rj0E[/youtube]

I mentioned Ulduar: Defiance a little while ago, and specifically how awesome it was and well made it was as a movie – it’s not super-advanced machinima, it doesn’t create a specifically new story in the form of its visuals, but what it does so well, what puts it above so many other WoW videos I’ve seen, is that it’s absolutely perfect at capturing the atmosphere and feeling of epic adventure and high stakes that comes with the story and lore that leads you into Ulduar as a champion, looking to free it – and Azeroth – from the creeping grip of something very ancient and very evil.

The second installment in the series (second of three) picks up where the first left off, and starts us off at the door to the Iron Council, and gives us the first piece of audio that I think isn’t directly lifted from the game itself in the series so far. I was a little disappointed, because I think the game audio is superior to almost anything a player could record (with some notable exceptions, like the player who essentially redid all the audio for Stratholme), but it fit in well and was quickly followed by in-game audio from there out.

The video takes us through the fights with the council and into the strategy session in the Archivum inside Ulduar before showing us each of the battles with each of the Watchers, and does so without getting into a ton of strats and revealing their exact endings. I think one of the things I really adore about this series of videos is that each of the battles really does have an epic feeling about it, you get the sense that the players in the fight really are crossing weapons with Hodir, for example, trying to convince him they they’re not his true enemy.

I’m not in the kind of guild that’ll probably get to see this content until we’re all 85 and Cataclysm is out, but for the time being? I’ll settle for this.

See it in high-quality at YouTube here.

Renaissance on Ravenholdt-US has Some Fun in Ulduar

Renaissance_Vidcap

I was turned onto this video thanks to WoW.com’s Guildwatch column, which is one of the best the site has, I have to admit – if it were all they ran I would still think it was a great blog, but since it’s not the only thing they run, they’re even better – but that being said, one of the entries was that this guild Renaissance, playing Alliance on Ravenholdt-US, had put together a truly fantastic video showcasing not only one of their recent Ulduar runs, but the fun they have together when they run.

And believe me, the video is hilarious. From the music selection (opening up with “United States of Whatever”) to the healers’ hilarious death/rezzing macro text to the absolutely glorious “air ganking squad” (near the end of the video, I won’t spoil how they do it if you don’t know), these guys look like they know how to have a great time, and considering they cleared Ulduar, they know what they’re doing too. Now if only they were recruiting hunters…

Ulduar: Defiance

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCG2Q8iQzEE[/youtube]

I picked this one up thanks to WoW.com, who highlighted it in a recent Moviewatch segment. The video, which is the first part in a trilogy (the other two parts haven’t been released yet) is incredibly well done: the only dialogue in the video is voicework from World of Warcraft set to music and sequences from Ulduar.

Backing up a bit, the premise of Ulduar: Defiance is that a Paladin, after suffering nightmares of fighting the scourge as they attack Lorderon, sees visions and hears voices beckoning her to Ulduar in her dreams. She collects her friends and fellow champions and together they march on the city, intent on fulfilling their destiny. The video is incredibly dramatic, and scene by scene we’re taken through Ulduar as she and her friends go forth and tear up some bosses.

The music is incredible and fantastically timed to the video, and I can’t emphasize how wonderful it is that the video creators allowed the characters and the in-game video they took to show emotion and expression all by itself – they didn’t dub over horribly mixed audio to create dialogue, and the only voices you hear are ones already in the game, professionally done, that sound fabulous. Head over to YouTube to watch Ulduar: Defiance in all it’s glory if the above isn’t enough for you.

Hogger: Elwynn Forest was Merely a Setback

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5URoWzt9UE[/youtube]

As a number of outlets have already reported, the guild Premonition did a very special raid during Blizzcon, live on stage with thousands of people watching. A number of the guildies were at home away from all of the action, but a few of them who had made the trek to Blizzon were set up on stage as the masses watched their guild coordinate and run through wave upon wave of bosses we’d seen before, some we hadn’t. In some cases, Premonition faced off against teams of bosses that would be more than a challenge on their own, and more than enough firepower to wipe even the hardiest of raids.

Even so, Premonition faced them all one at a time, frequently one-shotting waves of baddies, all until the final round, when one boss stood before them. One figure emerged to face the Premonition army, one face known to all and feared by many: Hogger.

What happened? Click play on the video above to see – or head over to YouTube to watch the video in higher quality. But know this. He certainly had more bones to gnaw on that day.

Onyxia’s Back, With a Vengeance

onyxia

The brood queen herself is back, so sayeth the Blizzard!

To celebrate World of Warcraft’s 5th anniversary, Blizzard has completely updated and re-worked the Onyxia dungeon and encounter for 10 and 25-man groups, complete with the same gear just updated for level 80 raiders, and tweaked to present a challenge to endgamers now! The announcement was made last night by Zarhym on the official WoW forums:

She has lurked in her lair and done battle with the many brave adventurers who travelled to that familiar location over the years. Now, in honor of the World of Warcraft 5-year anniversary, the dreaded brood mother Onyxia is being revamped to make a return to the forefront of Azeroth, as part of our big plans for the upcoming 3.2.2 content patch.

This permanent update to Onyxia will convert the dungeon into 10- and 25-player modes. We will be adding new items to Onyxia’s loot table that have the same model as some of the classic loot from this dungeon, like Tier 2 helms, with stats updated to match the current level of content. There will be a special new item too: a normal drake-sized 310% speed flying mount modeled after Onyxia herself called Brood of Onyxia. We will also be updating the encounter mechanics to be more fitting for modern raiding, but we can guarantee players will get to experience the frightening horror of deep breaths once again.

Then for a limited time, after the 5-year anniversary event officially begins in November, anybody who logs in will receive an Onyxia Brood Whelpling pet.

We’re very excited to bring this classic encounter back to provide a fun new experience for both new and veteran players. Further details will be available in the near future, and we will be setting up the Public Test Realms soon to help test out this fight along with all the new content we have planned for the patch. Keep an eye on the forums for updates!

Happy 5th, World of Warcraft! I can’t think of a more fitting way for Blizzard to celebrate the event with us – I for one look forward to taking Onyxia’s head. Again.

How Casual is Too Casual?

tumbleweed

I’ve known a number of people who gave hardcore raiding a try and left in favor of a more laid back casual guild environment: a group of people who were friends as well as teammates, where people logged in to do more than just hit the scheduled raid time. The huge hulking raiding guilds are usually comprised of people who are more serious about the game than they really are about being social with one another (yes, I realize there are a number of exceptions to this), so some players are confronted with the choice: raid and progress, or make friends and play together. Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of room in between these two, but most people will come down harder on one side or the other. This isn’t really an RP, PvE, PvP issue – there are plenty of people who come down on either side regardless of the game style they prefer. But let’s talk about the casual, friendly side for a bit.

I’ve been in a number of guilds since I started playing the game, some of them incredibly personal, some of them ridiculously impersonal and hostile to new people, some of them so insular that you could never penetrate the wall of clique that was already there, some of them warm and inviting. All of them however have been largely social guilds with light, casual raiding – never more than once or twice a week, usually weekends when everyone had some time off work or school. But one thing that’s happened to nearly all of them is that the casual simply grows too casual – people start drifting off, leveling alts that aren’t in the guild, the raids go from stuffed so full people have to get benched to so empty they’re cancelled for months at a time, and eventually to the point where you can sign on during peak hours and there’s no one there.

This happened in a guild that I ran for a while, and again in a guild that I’m happily a member of because I have many many friends in it. So this brings me to the question: how many of you has this happened to? Lots of people love casual guilds, but how casual is so casual that you’re willing to leave it for another guild-even if you have friends in it? Is there such a thing as a “too casual” guild, or is that the very definition of casual, and “casual raiding” is an oxymoron?

I’ll admit that partially this is me dealing with my own thoughts, but partially I’m curious how universal this experience is. Fire away in the comments, and I’ll include your responses in a follow up post later!

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