Patch notes: beta build 2011.12.01, Patch 0.742.27

New in this patch: Corso finally shuts up. Build notes after the jump. Also important to note - the known issues list.


  • Experience gains on Origin Worlds have been adjusted to help solo players reach level 10 more easily.

  • Improved the overall performance of vanity pets.

  • Using the /stuck command will no longer kill the player unless a safe location cannot be determined. Players can now only use /stuck every 120 seconds.

  • Moving to a new planet instance no longer uses the player's Quick Travel cooldown.

  • Mail sent to another player will now have a 30 minute delay.

Classes and Combat


  • Further improved and balanced all class content above level 30.

  • Slightly improved mouse targeting distance.

  • Implemented improvements that increase the responsiveness of combat actions.

  • Tab targeting now more accurately takes into account which enemies are on screen.

  • Tab targeting can now select enemies at a longer range.

  • Players can now use ground-targeted area of effect attacks in a 360 degree area around their character.

Jedi Knight

  • General

    • Jedi Knights can now obtain the Master title.
  • Sentinel

    • Healing done by Zen has been decreased to 1% per tick while Juyo Form is active.
  • Bug Fixes

    • Force critical bonuses conferred by Focused Resonance now display properly on the character sheet.

Sith Warrior

  • General

    • Sith Warriors can now obtain the Darth title.
  • Marauder

    • Healing done by Berserk has been decreased to 1% per tick while Juyo Form is active.
  • Bug Fixes

    • Force critical bonuses conferred by Dark Resonance now display properly on the character sheet.

Jedi Consular

  • General

    • Force Potency now increases the range of Telekinetic Throw.

    • Each use of Telekinetic Throw now uses a charge of Force Potency.

    • Players are no longer able to cancel Force Lift's debuff by right-clicking it.

  • Shadow - Infiltration

    • Situational Awareness now reduces the Force cost of Whirling Blow and no longer reduces the cooldown of Cloud Mind.

Sith Inquisitor

  • General

    • Recklessness now increases the range of Force Lightning.

    • Each use of Force Lightning now uses a charge of Recklessness.

    • Players are no longer able to cancel Whirlwind's debuff by right-clicking it.

  • Assassin - Deception

    • Resourcefulness now reduces the Force cost of Lacerate and no longer reduces the cooldown of Cloud Mind.


  • General

    • Cover now has a 1-second cooldown.

    • Recuperate can no longer be used from cover.

  • Scoundrel - Scrapper

    • Flechette Round now causes the next Shoot First or Back Blast to deal additional bleed damage and increases armor penetration by 50% for a moderate duration. It is not affected by the global cooldown and does not break stealth.

    • Sucker Punch now requires 15 energy and has had its damage output decreased by 15%.

    • Flying Fists' damage output has been decreased by 15%.

    • Sawed-Off now affects Flechette Round instead of Blaster Whip.

Imperial Agent

  • General

    • Cover now has a 1-second cooldown.

    • Explosive Probe's animation now correctly displays when the probe is resisted by an enemy.

    • Recuperate can no longer be used from cover.

  • Operative - Concealment

    • Acid Blade now causes the next Hidden Strike or Backstab to deal additional poison damage and increases armor penetration by 50% for a moderate duration. It is not affected by the global cooldown and does not break stealth.

    • Laceration now requires 15 energy and has had its damage output decreased by 15%.

    • Collateral Strikes' damage output has been decreased by 15%.

    • Waylay now affects Acid Blade instead of Shiv.


  • General

    • Adjusted resource bar visuals for ammo gain and use.
  • Bug Fixes

    • Fixed an issue that prevented the skill Kolto Recharge from healing as intended.

    • Concussive Force now properly increases the knockback damage of Concussive Charge.

General Combat Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue that caused multi-hit attacks to sometimes deal damage upon miss or deflect from the enemy.

  • Calling a Medical Probe upon death now properly applies damage to equipment the players is wearing.

  • The cooldown for calling a Medical Probe will now properly increase in phased areas.

Companion Characters

  • General

    • Companion Characters now vocalize less frequently during combat.

    • Companion Characters are now silent when entering stealth modes.

    • Companion names now display as PLAYERNAME's Companion.

Crew Skills

  • General

    • Added implants to the schematic filter for the crafting window and to trainers.

    • Slightly increased critical chance for crafting and missions for Orange difficulty tasks.

  • Crafting Skills

    • Cybertechs can now craft modifiable Droid armor.

    • Cybertech and Artifice modifications an enhancements have been updated.

    • Crafted relics and space upgrades now bind to the character when equipped.

    • Crafted items are no longer created with pre-slotted modifications.

  • Gathering Skills

    • The highest-level gathering nodes now spawn more regularly on Corellia and in the high-level mission area on Belsavis.
  • Mission Skills

    • Adjusted mission costs across all skill levels.

    • Treasure Hunting relics now bind to the character when equipped.

    • Luxury Fabrics and Underworld Metals are now obtained through different missions.

    • Investigation Mission Discoveries now yield Researched Compounds.

    • Rich yields no longer always provide Artifact quality resources.

    • Mission rewards now include higher quantities of Prototype quality crafted materials.

  • Bug Fixes

    • Fixed an issue where Crafting schematics were no properly updating within the schematic trainer.

    • Learned Biochem schematics no longer disappear from the Crafting window.

    • Prototype and Artifact quality crafted weapons now have the correct weapon damage values.

    • Reverse engineering mode no longer toggles off after reverse engineering an item.

    • Items of less than Premium quality can no longer be reverse engineered.

    • Corrected refresh and mission tier issues.

    • Weapon damage and armor ratings listed on schematics now indicate those values on the resulting crafted items correctly.

    • Certain Prototype quality schematics for Artifice are no longer assigned to Synthweaving.

Flashpoints and Operations

  • General

    • Flashpoint missions can now be obtained at level-appropriate locations on most planets with complementary shuttle service to the Republic or Imperial Fleet.

    • Flashpoint mission levels have been adjusted to more accurately reflect their difficulty.

    • Early-level Flashpoint bosses are now slightly less difficult.

    • Nightmare Mode Operations are now significantly more challenging.

    • Corrected an issue that prevented Codex entries associated with Nightmare Mode from unlocking.

  • Flashpoints

    •  The Black Talon

      • Yadira Ban's difficulty in Hard Mode has been increased.
    • Bringing Down the Hammer

      • Battlelord Kreshan now drops loot.
    • Colicoid War Games

      • This Flashpoint has undergone a difficulty balance pass.

      • The final boss no longer continually respawns.

    • Directive 7

      • Bulwark's mechanics now function properly.
    • The Esseles

      • Vokk's difficulty in Hard Mode has been increased.

      • Lieutenant Isric's difficulty has been corrected in Hard Mode.

    • The False Emperor

      • Normal Mode bosses now inflict less burst damage.

      • Boss mechanics in this Flashpoint now function properly in Normal and Hard mode.

    • The Foundry

      • A normal enemy NPC in this Flashpoint no longer drops boss loot
  • Operations

    • General

      • The Operations lockout window now displays the current boss lockouts for your group members.
    • Eternity Vault

      • Nightmare Mode chests now contain loot.

      • Enrage timers have been added to Annihilator Droid XRR-3 and Gharj.

      • The Ancient Pylon puzzle enemies now spawn.

      • Button use timing for the Ancient Pylon puzzle has been corrected.

      • The Infernal Council fight no longer resets as soon as the fight begins.

    • Karagga's Palace

      • Bonethrasher no longer enters a state that causes him to cease executing his combat mechanics.


  • General

    • Custom items now appear with an orange border in the inventory. All Custom items are modifiable.

    • The Lhosan Racer is now a level 40 vehicle.

    • Increased the stat diversity of medium armor drops on Origin Worlds.

    • The cost of Droid armor is now comparable to the cost of other armor.

    • Random relics now bind to the character when equipped.

    • Modifiable Artifact quality items now only feature modification and enhancement slots.

    • Some redundant random shield generators with Force stats have been replaced by random foci.

    • Decreased the chance for lockboxes to contain higher-quality loot.

  • Vendors

    • All standard modification vendors now sell a basic set of base modifications.

    • All modification vendors that accept commendations now provide a consistent set of modification upgrades for each class.

    • Prototype quality items sold by specialty goods vendors that accept credits can now also be found on the corresponding light, medium, and heavy armor vendors and weapon vendors.

    • Republic Fleet commendation vendors now sell the special ability items that their Imperial Counterparts sell.

  • Bug Fixes

    • The speeder vendor on the Imperial Fleet now properly displays the vehicles for sale.

    • Heavy Force armor no longer drops from levels one through nine.

    • Some items with Social rank requirements can no longer be equipped without meeting the requirement.

    • Many high-level items now have the correct appearance when worn.

    • Droid armor can now be auctioned.

    • Some Earpieces and Implants purchased with commendations are no longer mislabeled.


  • Advancement through Legacy Levels has been adjusted; it is now slower early on and does not increase dramatically as levels are gained.

  • Legacy surnames are now displayed by default.

Missions and NPCs

  • General

    • Experience gained from completing missions has been increased.

    • Taris (Republic) and Balmorra (Imperial) Bonus Series mission rewards are now the appropriate level.

  • Missions

    • Republic

      • Most Wanted: The weapon cache now provides a companion weapon.
    • Bug Fixes

      • Corrected several missions that failed to grant item rewards correctly.
  • NPCs

    • General

      • Decreased the difficulty level of several high-level class story bosses.

      • NPCs will now attempt to enter cover when fired upon.

    • Bug Fixes

      • Standard and Weak toughness enemies no longer regenerate health while under the effect of any 60-second crowd control abilities (such as Force Lift, Concussion Missile, etc.)


  • General

    • The center-screen message associated with the Deserter debuff now occurs after 50 seconds.

    • The decay time for Resolve has been significantly reduced, making characters susceptible to fewer crowd control effects over short periods of time.

    • The Glacial Fissure Imperial Mid Center is now a safe area for Empire Characters.

  • PvP Items

    • Added two new, exclusive vehicles to rare spawn Outlaw's Den vendors.

    • Level 20 and level 40 PvP gear is now available from vendors on the Republic and Imperial Fleets.

    • Battlemaster Gear Bags are now only available from daily and weekly PvP missions.

    • Battlemaster implants and earpieces can now be purchased for Warzone and Mercenary Commendations.

    • PvP vehicles now have Valor rank requirements.

    • PvP lockboxes under level 50 now cost 30 Warzone Commendations.

    • The Overcharge consumable now increases expertise by 15% for 20 seconds.

    • The PvP Heal consumable now restores 35% of maximum health.

    • Valor rank requirements on items now function properly.

    • Expertise has been added to many endgame PvP items.

  • Warzones

    • General

      • The Combatant medal is now awarded at 75k damage.

      • The Healer medal is now awarded at 75k healing.

    • Alderaan Civil War

      • Reduced the interaction time for the targeting console to 8 seconds.

      • The scoreboard now indicates which team score belongs to the player.

      • The large installation cannon now fires at the end of a match.

      • Scoring blasts from cannons now occur at roughly 20-second intervals and now remove 10 points of shield strength.

      • Art for the sky in this Warzone has been improved.

      • Bug Fixes

      • Corrected an issue that caused Republic players to see misaligned scores.

      • Small body type characters can no longer move behind the pipes near the side control nodes.

      • Small body type characters no longer become stuck in some areas of this Warzone.

      • Turret shots no longer hit invisible collision areas while firing at the Imperial dropship.

      • Players no longer receive a development debug message while interacting with turret control consoles.

      • A visual error during the destruction animation for dropships has been corrected.

    • Huttball

      • The ball now returns to a player in the combat space (or the middle if no player is in range) if a player uses Force Pull on a character carrying the ball to bring them into the safe area.

      • Players can no longer hold the ball on the edge of their respawn zone.

      • Performance inside the Huttball Warzone has been increased.

      • Bug Fixes

      • Players on the Frogdog team now properly lose the Deserter Detection debuff when they enter the combat area.

    • Voidstar

      • The interaction time to plant bombs, extend the bridge, and lower fields has been reduced to 8 seconds.

      • The detonation countdown time has been increased to 20 seconds.

      • Attackers will not advance to the next respawn point until at least one attacker reaches the next room.

      • Extending the bridges and lowering the forcefields now count as progress when determining tiebreakers for matches where neither team reached the datacore.

      • A platform has been added to the reactor room attacker spawn location to prevent fall damage.

      • The Voidstar intro cinematic has been improved.

      • Environmental visual effects have been added to this Warzone.

      • Radio transmission and broadcast audio (instructional and ambient) have been added.

      • Bug Fixes

      • Players now teleport to the correct respawn location for their side when joining the Warzone after it has started.

      • A crate that allowed players to bypass a forcefield has been removed.

      • Mapnotes now use the appropriate bomb planted icons when a bomb is placed on a door.

      • The bridges now appear extended correctly to players who were in the hangar room as the bridges were extended.

      • The Voidstar map on the loading screen is now correct.

      • Voidstar maps now take recent geometry changes into account and have bene updated.

      • The Revive window now closes properly between rounds.

      • Fixed an issue that could cause players to be teleported to the wrong location during the round transition.

      • Fixed an issue that could cause level matching in the matchmaking system to function improperly.

      • Corrected an issue that caused players that were unflagged upon entering a Warzone to remain flagged after leaving one.

  • World PvP

    • Battle for Ilum

      • The War Effort buffs now have a new icon.

      • Ambient music now plays during various events during the Battle of Ilum.

      • Bug Fixes

      • Corrected an issue that could cause objectives to become stuck in the "secured" state.

      • Corrected text inconsistencies in Battle for Ilum missions and objective notes.

      • Players who load directly into the Western Shelf PvP area now properly receive the area status effect if a faction controls the area.

      • The Republic and Imperial Bases now properly play aerial bombardment explosions when a faction controls the zone.

    • The Outlaw's Den (Tatooine)

      • Added two new, exclusive vehicles to the Outlaw's Den vendors.

      • Chests in Outlaw's Den now drop 20 Mercenary Commendations.

      • Bug Fixes

      • Mercenary Commendation chests no longer appear empty on being opened.

      • The text associated with the mission for Outlaw's Den has been corrected.

  • Bug Fixes

    • Alacrity no longer reduces the channel time of interacting with objects inside Warzones.

    • Characters now receive appropriate stat bonuses when bolstered.

    • Players are no longer awarded additional stealth time when reviving if they die inside an exhaustion area.

    • Players can no longer toggle their PvP flag while in contested, Team Free-for-All, Free-for-All, or opposing faction regions.

    • Corrected an issue that could cause characters to remain in combat longer than intended.

Space Combat

  • General

    • Player and companion voiceovers now sound like they are coming from the ship intercom.

    • EMP Generator damage is no longer scaled by the setting of your power conversion module.

    • Decreased the experience gained from daily Space Combat missions.


  • General

    • When the Group Leader changes to the Master Loot setting, a message will now display to all members of the group or team.

    • The server select screen now more accurately indicates the population of each server.

    • Servers that are currently offline are now displayed at the bottom of the server list.

    • Removed the /bug button from the User Interface. Players should now submit bugs using the Customer Service Portal.

    • The Inspect feature now shows some stats and other information that was previously missing.

    • Clicking on an item will now attach it to the mouse cursor.

    • Added the ability to right-click to add/remove item modifications.

    • Mail can now be opened using a single click.

    • The loot window will now close if players select Take All, regardless of whether or not items require a group roll.

    • Removed the Show Coverbar button from the main UI.

    • Nameplate health bars now match their color to the text instead of always displaying as red.

    • Added a Character Stuck button to the upper right corner of the Help Window.

    • The Trainer window no longer displays empty tabs.

    • Icons for high-level Commendation items now indicate the item type they provide.

    • The visual and sound effects for a player duel challenge have been updated.

    • Stackable items are now grouped together in the loot window.

    • Character limitations will now display in the error message when players enter a name that is too long.

    • The game credits can now be viewed by pressing the Credits button while on the character select screen.

    • The cinematics menu on the character select screen now functions properly.

    • Operations

      • The Operations lockout window now displays the current boss lockouts for your group members.

      • Information available on the Operation lockout window is now easier to understand and displays correctly.

      • Announcements in Operations are now more distinct.

      • Operation raidframes can now be toggled on and off.

    • Quickslots

      • Players will no longer be asked for confirmation when dragging items off the quickslot bar.

      • Quickslot bars will no longer duplicate when activating extended bars.

      • Passive abilities can no longer be moved to the quickslot bar.

    • Chat

      • Using /group in chat will now send communication to the highest group level (i.e. Operations Teams will take precedence over groups).

      • Chat channel input now defaults to /general instead of /say.

      • Some chat commands have been changed. The following commands now work when used followed by player-created chat channel names: /cjoin, /cleave, /cinvite, /ckick, /mute, and /unmute.

    • Codex

      • Added or corrected images for many Codex entries and tutorials.

      • Added several new Codex entries for Ilum.

    • Tooltips

      • Added several new tooltips.

      • Improved the explanation of rested experience in the experience tooltip.

      • Repair tooltips no longer display stats if the values are 0.

      • Player tooltips now display when a player is marked as Looking For Group.

      • Space Combat ability items now have tooltips.

    • Social

      • The Social Center will now update Looking For Group status more frequently and displays Looking For Group comments by default.

      • The UI no longer displays the Quick Group button when players select a character from the opposite faction.

      • Updated the art for Social Center notifications.

      • Inspecting other players now displays their values for Valor.

      • Reduced the number of available titles from alignment, social, and some missions.

    • Tutorials

      • Added level requirements to some tutorials.

      • Clarified the wording of many tutorials.

      • Closing the tutorial window now closes all read tutorials.

      • Added new tips to loading screens and adjusted many tips such that they will display at more relevant times.

    • Galactic Trade Network

      • Improved the overall UI for the GTN.

      • Added many new category and subcategory filter choices.

      • Fixed category issues that could cause incorrect listings or other GTN problems.

    • Preferences

      • Players can now map the mouse wheel up and down to any game function, and the Camera Zoom In/Out can be mapped to keys.

      • Removed several obsolete entries from the Preferences Menu.

      • Moved some preferences to make them easier to find.

      • Preference tooltips will now include which options will result in better performance.

      • Chat fade is now toggled off by default.

      • The Social Invites as Social Center messages preference is now toggled off by default.

      • Players will now have fifteen seconds to confirm after changing the game resolution.

      • The Automatic Cover bar can now be disabled via the Preferences Menu.

      • Added a preference that will cause the map to flash red while in combat.

      • Added a preference to toggle off the Legacy Bar.

    • Maps

      • Updated the appearance of the minimap filter toggle buttons.

      • Unusable enemy vendors no longer display on the map.

      • Crew Skill trainers now show up correctly on the map and minimap

    • PvP

      • The UI no longer enters a bad state when it is reloaded at the end of a Warzone match.

      • The Warzone Invitation window now reappears if it is active when the player loads into another area.

      • The character sheet now properly displays bolstered weapon damage inside Warzones.

      • PvP Codex images have bene added for PvP unlockable entries.

    • Bug Fixes

      • The server login queue now displays more accurate estimations.

      • The maximum count of Codex entries now displays correctly for all planets.

      • Corrected several incorrect preference tooltips.

      • Preferences defaults now have the correct initial settings.

      • Shift+F12 can now be remapped.

      • Fixed an issue that caused chat to be unviewable when switching from portrait to widescreen.

      • Players no longer lose their chat reply target upon area transition.

      • The active companion bar no longer remains occasionally after unsummoning a companion.

      • The Looking for Group icon no longer displays on the nameplates of players that are not looking for groups.

      • Fixed an issue that could cause a player's Legacy to incorrectly display other player characters' Legacy.

      • The players castbar can no longer incorrectly display another character's castbar.

      • Addressed an issue that caused the minimap arrow to sometimes point in the wrong direction and display an incorrect location.

      • The Friends List now updates properly to display friends who are online.

      • Trades are now cancelled when the trade window is closed.

      • The character sheet now resets when reloading the UI with Ctrl-U.

      • Fixed an issue with character rotation in the item preview window.

      • Fixed an issue that caused inventory tabs to incorrectly display their capacity.

      • Social notifications (like group invitations) now display and behave properly.

      • Fixed a tooltip bug that could cause "Main Hand" to incorrectly display in red text.

      • Many incorrect icons have been replaced.

Miscellaneous Bug Fixes

  • Dark Side appearances should now always be visible to other players.

  • Players who initially lose conversation rolls will now correctly gain bonuses to future rolls until a roll is won.

  • Characters now face forward and move at full speed when strafing left or right.

  • Players will no longer be dismounted when speaking to a vendor.

  • Players are no longer invulnerable after surrendering in a duel.

  • Fixed an issue that was causing lag in Warzones and Flashpoints.

  • Using strafe after using backwards strafe will now allow the character to move at full speed.

  • Players no longer receive rewards for participating in a single-player conversation with quests.

  • Fixed several issues that caused weapons to not sheath or unsheath properly.

  • Groupmates that are too far away or are in another phase when a chest is looted are no longer eligible to roll on that chest's loot.

  • Made overall improvements to the profanity filter.

  • French and German game clients now have their own profanity filters.

  • Invalid names can no longer be created by the random name generator.

TOR by numbers: a (very quick) stat primer

New game, new stats, new numbers to stack - isn't that how the story always goes?SWTOR's no different, fundamentally, from many other MMOs. Plus, to make things a little simple for the new player, each class basically has its own stat, so you won't spend a lot of time fighting with people who share your armor type - just people who share your class.

SWTOR actually does a lot better of a job recently as far as getting you used to seeing a certain stat on your gear. Early on in beta, quest rewards would sometimes offer you one stat or another, and unless you really enjoyed reading tooltips, it was kind of hard to tell what each stat actually did - so as a fledgling adventurer, you're left wondering, what stat do I want? I'm wielding a dual-bladed lightsaber - do I want Willpower or Strength? Troopers and Smugglers both use guns - but do I want Cunning or Aim? Or both? Those kind of questions naturally arose early on, but a lot of the gear from quests now passively points you in the right direction.

Here's a short rundown of what each of the stats you'll see means - most of them should look pretty familiar if you've got any MMO experience (and if you don't... welcome!).

(Reminder: this is beta, this is technically still subject to change, yadda yadda. Also my familiarity with the tank stats is pretty low; it's been my least-played role in the beta.)

Any screenshot below can be clicked to embiggen. Also, these screenshots were taken on a Smuggler, so some of the tooltips contain extra info that only applies to Smugglers (and Imperial Agents) - but it never hurts to look.

Primary Stats

Strength - the choice of melee beatsticks everywhere. The primary stat of Jedi Knights and Sith Warriors, this increases your aptitude in melee combat. It could be considered a secondary stat for Jedi Shadows and Sith Assassins, but certainly not at the expense of their primary stat, Willpower - and finding both together on one item is rare. For those classes for whom it is a primary stat, Strength will increase the damage and crit chance of their melee abilities. Sample Item: Ascendant Warlord's Lightsaber, a weapon geared towards melee DPS.

Presence - the amazing solo stat. Presence, as you can see, enhances your companion's damage, health, and healing - it's the all-purpose companion stat. Mostly useful for soloing, but I could see it having some use if, say, you needed your companion to fill a role in a flashpoint for a missing player character. Notable in the above screenshot is that Presence is one of the few stats that doesn't increase crit chance - your companion's crit chance is improved by their own stats & gear, most likely. Sample item: Advanced Command Augment 14, which isn't actually a piece of gear so much as it is an augment to upgrade other pieces of weapons and armor.

Aim - it comes between "ready" and "fire" for a reason. Largely the purview of Republic Troopers and Bounty Hunters, this is also an occasional secondary stat for Imperial Agents and Smugglers. Aim, as it says, increases aptitude with ranged weapons, and for the troopers and hunters, it increases the damage, crit chance, and healing (yes, healing) of their abilities. Sample item: M-008 Deadeye, a ranged DPS blaster rifle. Healers would probably look to replace the accuracy with alacrity or crit rating - heals can't miss, after all.

Cunning - for those of us who use our brains... to tell us when to shoot first. Cunning is the primary stat, as you can probably tell from the info in the screenshots, of Smugglers and Imperial Agents, and a secondary stat for Troopers and Bounty Hunters. Cunning covers ranged damage/crit and tech damage/crit - and tech is what Smugglers and Agents do best. Sample item: Ace in the Hole, an off-hand blaster pistol (meant entirely for the Gunslinger class, more or less).

Endurance - it's what keeps you alive, literally. Endurance shows up on almost all your gear, and serves to increase both health and out-of-combat health regen. Everyone will get some of it pretty much by default, but the six tank specs (that's Vanguards, Powertechs, Sith Juggernauts, Jedi Guardians, Sith Assassins, and Jedi Shadows, for those of you keeping track at home) will probably want the most of it. Sample item: Ascendant Guardian's Lightsaber, a tank's lightsaber, with high amounts of endurance, a threat stat (accuracy), and a defense stat (absorption).

Willpower - for our Force-using friends. The primary stat for the Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor - yes, even the melee Advanced Classes in each of these! - and the (very rarely used) secondary stat for the Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight. These increase the Force damage and healing of your Consular and Inquisitor powers - and if you're a Shadow or Assassin, they'll increase your melee effectiveness too. Sample item: Ascendant Consular's Lightsaber, meant for our caster-type Force-users - the alacrity is a good indicator of this.

Expertise - the vaguest stat in the land. "Increases your effectiveness in PvP combat" - what does that mean exactly? Well, as it turns out, Expertise makes you better at everything in PvP combat, as these three screenshots show - dealing damage, healing, and resisting damage to and from other players in PvP only. Sample item: Battlemaster Combat Medic's Cannon, a trooper assault cannon meant for healers.

Secondary Stats

Power - overwhelming? Power (which can show up on items as the more generic "power" or occasionally the more specific "Force power" or "tech power") is a simple statistic that increases tech or Force powers'... power. Redundant much? Basically power makes you better at whatever it is you do - more damage, more healing. Sample item: Colicoid Watchman Scattergun, an off-hand item for Scoundrels which would improve either their damage or their healing, depending on how they've allocated talents. (The accuracy is better for damage-dealing scoundrels, though.)

Crit Rating and Surge - two closely related stats. Crit increases your crit chance, while surge increases the effect of your crits. Simple enough. Sample item: Battlemaster Force-Master's Focus, sporting both crit and surge, meant for PvP casters or healers of the Sage or Sorcerer variety.

Alacrity - it's like someone checked the thesaurus for "haste" and just used the first one they found. Alacrity increases the activation time of non-instant abilities. It does not affect the global cooldown, which seems to be constant.  Sample item: Ultratech Combat Medic's Enhancer.

Accuracy - straightforward, although unfortunately lacking in good screenshottage. Accuracy helps you hit. But there's a plus side - once you pass 100% accuracy, accuracy also helps you start bypassing armor and resistance! The concept of a 'hit cap' is thus somewhat lessened - more hit will still help you do damage, even past 100% hit.

Tank Stats - sadly, I do not have a good screenshot for these, largely on account of not having any of those stats. Here's a quick rundown, though.

  • Shield Rating - the chance that a shield will be triggered in reaction to an attack. Shielding is useful for all tanks (even the Assassin and Shadow, who somehow have an invisible third hand to use a shield generator - maybe they're holding it with the Force).

  • Absorption Rating - the amount of damage absorbed when your shield activates. Easy-peasy.

  • Defense Rating - increases parry (turning aside ranged attacks) and deflection (turning aside ranged attacks) at an equal rate.

  • Resistance - applicable to any one of TOR's four damage types, which are Kinetic, Elemental, Internal, and Energy. Elemental and Internal damage bypasses armor. Kinetic and Energy do not seem to do so. If an attack doesn't say what it is, thus far, you can safely assume it's Kinetic.

  • Glance Rating - to be honest, I have no idea what this is. It's possible it's one of the other stats under a new name.

That just about wraps it up for stats. Special thanks to Gankstah's Tanking: A Primer -  FAQs for help in deciphering the tank stats. It's a good read if you're interested in the meat and potatoes of tanking - it actually contains a good deal of the formulas for deciphering how to convert from rating to chance of resistance, shield, et cetera.

What's in it for me?

Perhaps you think this is about the "loot bag" announcement from this week. Afraid not. My feelings on that (I'm for it!) hardly justify an entire post to themselves. No, this is something else entirely - gaming personality types, and their relationship to SWTOR.

Have you heard of the Bartle Test? In 1996, a professor by the name of Richard Bartle wrote a paper - specifically mentioning MUDs, but still highly applicable today - called "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs." It's available to read online, if you wish. Bartle's personality categorization was converted into an online test in the late 90s by Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey, and later - due to popularity and infeasibility of scaling the database side - moved to gamerDNA, where it resides today.

The four card suits mentioned in Bartle's title align with four "gaming personality" types. See if they sound like you or anyone you know:

  • Diamonds are Achievers. They love concrete signs of advancement. Scores, money, points, achievements, gear - if it can be collected and/or improved upon, a Diamond will do it. Diamonds are notable for pursuing in-game challenges or rewards that are of no actual use to them simply for the notability of having done so. MMO creators love Achievers, for obvious reasons. Someone who levels characters for the love of leveling, or your typical achievement hounds (guilty as charged) are, to some extent, Diamonds.

  • Spades are Explorers. They got their suit due to their tendency to "dig around." Seen someone post a vid where they were exploring in a closed-off region of a game just because it was there to be explored? You've seen someone with some Spade leanings in action. Spades delight in new areas, Easter eggs, and sometimes new glitches. Explorers are the most likely to dig into a game, but are the most likely to leave when a game transitions from fun to chore. Once again, yours truly is a prime example.

  • Hearts are Socializers. Hearts are there for the people. Maybe they never advance above level 20 because they're roleplaying. Maybe they're those people who genuinely do raid for the people - not the boss-killing, or the loot, but the people. Hearts are usually the most helpful to other players, and are usually that person that everyone gets along with because that's just how a Heart rolls. Most people who play online games are, to some extent, Hearts - even if it's just a little bit - and their relationships don't necessarily have to be with people! A Warlock who's attached to her minions, or those people asking about relationships with companions in SWTOR, are to some extent a little Heart-y.

  • Clubs are Killers. (There's an obvious joke here about clubbing people.) The "Killer" archetype often seems to have a lot of negative aspects associated with it, but at the heart of it, Clubs are just extremely competitive. A lot of Killers are focused on PvP, true to their name, but sometimes Killers can be found in other aspects of the game - controlling markets on the Auction House, for instance, or guiding their guild to World First Boss Kills. Don't take the name to mean they're griefers or trolls - many Killers are very nice people who just happen to thrive in a competitive environment. Bored Killers are usually bad news, though; 'bad' Killers will turn into trolls, while 'good' Killers will often seek environments that give them the competition they can't find in their current environment. Cynwise is a Club who competes with players directly, Basil Berntsen does it in the auction house, and anyone leading a bleeding-edge progression raid guild is more than a little bit Clubby.

So now that you've read that summary - and perhaps you've taken the test yourself, so you know what your gaming personality looks like (yours truly comes in as 73% Explorer, 60% Socializer, 53% Achiever, 13% Killer) - you might be wondering what TOR has to offer for each aspect.

  • Diamonds may have been a little disappointed to discover that there wasn't an actual Achievement system in the game, but there's still all those hallmarks of MMOs that you've come to love - leveling, stats, cash, skills, et cetera. You may not have actual capital-A Achievements, but there's still plenty of things for an Achiever to point at and say, "I did this."

  • Spades will have intricate stories to play through and enormous frickin' planets to traverse, and lots of lore to delve into - including the Bioware Codex. Plus, for the first time in a long time (outside of Rift's placement of artifacts and cairns far off the beaten path), SWTOR is set to reward Spades with an actual, tangible reward for exploring - Holocrons, which give nice permanent stat bonuses to a character, fill in a spot in the Codex, and most are said to be solely findable by dedicated and crafty Explorers.

  • Hearts will find all the usual tools they're used to in order to foster kinship - guilds, et cetera. In fact, Bioware's gotten a head start with its guilds with their Guild HQ site. Go ahead and form your guild now! (We certainly did, and you're welcome to join us!) Declare other guilds as friends or enemies, and Bioware will do their level best to get you onto the same server and everything. In addition, SWTOR should help Socializers with relationships with non-player characters, too - each class gets its own, unique set of Companion Characters who travel with you, respond to your conversations, and (in some cases) can grow into an actual relationship with your character. (However, for Jedi, that's more than likely the road to some Dark Side points. Choose carefully!)

  • Clubs will likewise find the aspects they've always been used to competing in. Raids, aka Operations? Check. PvP, aka Warzones? Check. Auction house, aka Galactic Market? Check. Whether you're killing threats to the galaxy or just beating up those pesky Imperials/Republicans, you too can flex your inner Killer. World PvP is available on PvP realms for those who enjoy that aspect of the game, as well.

I, for one, will be hunting Holocrons til the cows come home - after I dive into the storyline Bioware's put before us, probably several times over. What's your "gaming personality" like - and what aspect of the game are you most looking forward to? Do those fit with one another?

Taking Battleground PvP Lessons from Team Fortress 2

Not pictured: Spy. OR IS HE??

While taking a brief break from World of Warcraft, I played quite a bit of Team Fortress 2. It's always an entertaining break from the same old games - I like the concept of a class-based shooter, but I'm not into the gritty realness of a Battlefield or Modern Warfare, so TF2 it is. I also did a little bit of PvP on my warlock, and it occurred to me that there's a lot of similarities between a class-based team FPS game and WoW battleground PvP.

Seriously, hear me out.

Lesson #1: Everyone has their own job

In TF2, I typically play the Heavy. Big, high-health, slow, and wields a friggin' mini-gun. For a change of pace, I occasionally switch to the Scout - moves faster than anyone, has a variety of dirty tricks to stun people while on the move and harassing them with a multitude of small hits (sound familiar?) - or the Medic - his gun shoots medicine, don't ask.

Heavies specialize in dealing massive damage; Medics specialize in healing; Scouts specializing in being really fast and capturing points. Everyone can do these things, but generally classes are good at certain things.

In WoW, you might be a rogue, sneaky with your stunlocks and the ability to make everyone in a 20-mile radius hate your guts for simply being in the same battleground. You might be a prot warrior, wading into combat and shrugging off damage like water off a murloc's slimy fins. Me? I'm a death knight, and I'm going to go straight for the squishiest-looking caster, interrupt him eight ways from Sunday, and hopefully pummel him into the ground with this big ol' axe. (I am Heavy Weapons Guy, and this... is my weapon.)

The first thing to accept about PvP is that everyone is good at something, but not everyone is good at everything. Not every class is fantastic at running flags, holding towers, or fighting in the middle of the road (though everyone always seems to be practicing that one). One of the keys to success is finding what you're good at and doing it well, then learning to get passable at the things you're not. I, for one, try to never get into a one-on-one fight with an arms warrior - on top of reducing my self-healing, they also deal massive damage with Bladestorms and Sweeping Strikes, and generally just turn me into a messy pulp. Give me a warlock, I'll fight him instead.

Lesson #2: Stand on the dang point, mister

A Heavy on his own is easy pickings for a Sniper. They have extremely fat heads and they move very slowly, especially when firing. This is especially true for a Heavy away from his team, especially the loving embrace of a Medic's Medigun, and when I can get ubercharged? That invincible 8 seconds is the pinnacle of damage-causing teamwork, and can usually clear a capture point or stop a team from moving their payload towards our base - at least for a little bit.

In WoW, especially in maps like WSG - where two people are usually the focal point of everyone's attention at any time - or AV - where you might not see anyone for minutes at a time, depending on how spread out the fights are - it's tempting to just go do your own thing. However, one thing you can't forget is that you are there to do a job, whether it's capturing flags or capturing towers, and if you're not helping accomplish one of those goals, you're not helping your team win. Furthermore, you're away from teammates who are there to do their job, and who would help you, if you weren't fighting in the middle of the road. Strength in numbers.

Who cares if you're not capping the flag? You can still go slow down the people who are. Pester them with ranged attacks, stun them, slow them, do whatever you can to attain team glory. That's really what it's all about: teamwork. Not personal glory. Things like massive numbers of honorable kills will come in time!

Lesson #3: You're going to die a lot - learn something from it

It's just a matter of life: you're going to die. A lot. This one's universal across TF2 or WoW or nearly any multiplayer game, in fact - especially when you're new, but even at all levels of skill, you will die a lot, and people will probably call you a n00b. Stop and think, though: do you really care about earning the respect of the kind of person who feels the need to belittle new or unskilled players? Help them learn. Don't be that guy yelling across battleground chat about how much your team sucks. As Dusk said:

Less Talk More Fight

Enough is enough. BG chat is for calling incoming, not telling some guy from Suramar he's a scrub because he didn't heal you exactly when you wanted to be healed.

It's far too easy to trash talk your own team when there's almost no chance you'll ever see them again (1.12 damn near ruined bgs), but god, enough.
It's a video game, calm down and look at what you're typing. What are you getting so upset over? It's a video game.
It's not worth it, whatever it is, whatever he said, whatever he did, who cares?
Do you care?
Stop for a moment here, please, take a very deep breath and ask yourself "why do i care?"

When you engage in a fruitless, useless and ultimately retarded flame war over something you will not remember in one hour, you are:
*Distracting your entire team
*Obscuring vital information, like where the hell the flag is or how many people are coming to the LM
*Removing yourself, your flame war opponent, and anyone who responds on any point, from your side. When you are typing, you are doing nothing useful.

Nobody is ever impressed with tough talk on the internet.
Speaking of which:

First complains, least skilled. No exceptions.

The first person to say "you guys all suck" when you are losing is the worst player on your team.
No exceptions.

So with that out of the way, the only thing to get over is dying. If you're coming from PvE (in WoW) or a game where you're used to thrashing the AI (say, going from Half-Life 2 to TF2), you're going to die. A lot. But take heart! In both games, basically all it costs you is a respawn timer. No repair bill, no corpse run. The important thing is to learn from your death. During the 30 seconds you're down waiting on the Spirit Healer to rez you, think to yourself: what did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Sometimes there's nothing you could do - you simply get rolled over by an entire team from the other side because everyone else is fighting in the road.

Sometimes, though, there's a lesson there. Maybe you need to put your Frost Nova in a more easily reachable position so you can quickly Blink away from a frozen opponent and rain arcane death down upon them. Maybe you need to pace out your Strangulates and not use them on less-useful spells. Maybe you need to not use your trinket on the first stun the rogue puts down, because he's just going to apply another. Things like that!

You're going to die a lot. Learn from it. Don't let it get you down.**

(EDIT) Lesson #4, courtesy of nagrarok

@stoppableforce On a related note: than a minute ago via TweetDeckChris V.

Death Knight Cataclysm preview, much like everyone else

Seriously, what the shit?I feel this dog pretty accurately sums up my reaction to the preview. The shaman preview made me have to change my pants with joy; the warlock preview kinda sucked until I realized it was mostly outright or stealth buffs to my all-time favorite tree, demonology. I actually enjoyed reading the warrior changes more than this, and my warrior is level 24. The DK posts mostly left me going, "well, what the hell was that?"

And now, the blue post(s), with commentary. Follow along after the jump, 'cos this is a big ol' wall of text. As you may have guessed, there's the occasional bit of foul language in this post.

Shaking off the dust; WoW resolutions

Unrelated note: how many times did I type "reoslutions" instead of resolutions? If you guessed 3, you're a winner.

So the holiday lull is over and the new year begins. My real life resolutions for 2010 aren't anything impressive, and I've been cheating on WoW with consoles so I could really use some goal setting... so let's take a look at what I intend to get done in WoW this year.


  • Finish *Insane in the Membrane before Cataclysm - or at least the goblin and Shen'drelar portions*. Ideally I'd like to have all of this done by the expansion, so I can march into Deepholm and prove that I really am insane - see, it says so right above my head... Barring that, I'd like to at least finish the Steamwheedle Cartel and Shen'drelar reputations. Feralas is marked for some pretty heavy changes, and as it's the easiest source for both of those (or at least the best for this title), I'd like to get done with that place while I can. Goblin I can do - Shen'drelar will be hell on the pocketbook... I suck at making money. This also has a sub-resolution:

  • Get my rogue to 60+. This is the only way I'm going to be able to pickpocket all those Heavy Junkboxes unless a miracle occurs. The problem is, I really don't like playing my rogue, so I need to use my remaining month of recruit-a-friend time and power-level her.

  • Finish *The Loremaster on my warlock.* This is the title I originally wanted for him back when he was a little Forsaken warlock. Then he was a gnome warlock on Kael'thas and I'm sorry, I just can't play gnomes. Now he's an orc warlock back on Feathermoon and is only a few levels higher than he was at the end of Wrath. He's halfway done with basically all of Loremaster, barring Northrend, so I guess I should also add:

  • Finally (FINALLY) finish *Higher Learning.* Do you know how close I am to this? I need one book. One. It is never there. I have seen its joke replacements for the last four months. I WILL FINISH THIS ACHIEVEMENT THIS YEAR. Finished on January 18, 2010.

  • Get my warlock to 80 before Cataclysm. That way I can ignore him until it's almost time for the expansion after that. Ha ha, I kid.

  • Get my *Violet Proto-Drake. *As it stands, I'll get this during the Midsummer Fire Festival - assuming I don't get boned by the RNG again during Valentine's Day. The Midsummer Fire Festival is the only event I'm not at least 33-50% done with, because it was the only holiday that passed during the time that I quit playing WoW. I've been cleaning up so far, and I've got no reason to stop. Hot Pink Drake of Speed, here I come!

  • Level a druid, paladin, or shaman to 80. Really, just level anything to 80. I'm pretty sure I'm the last remaining person in World of Warcraft with one level 80 character. And I've really had the urge to level a kitty druid lately... and I do have the leather heirlooms for it... I've just been trying to hold off on it until I finish leveling my rogue, and I was also kind of waiting until troll and worgen druids were available. However, I'm bad at not giving in to temptation.

So yeah, that's it. There's my list. It's a short list of resolutions (spoiler: I typed "reoslutions" again), but it should be enough to keep me occupied.

Especially Insane in the Membrane, which some days feels so overwhelming that I start to think maybe Battlemaster would've been a better idea.

Oh wait! I forgot one!

  • Post informative stuff about Death Knights again. The death knight blogosphere shrank about as fast as it grew, didn't it? And my old guides could really use a good revamp. So yeah, I figure 2010 is a good time for me to get back into posting about the art of death knighting again.

So what are your goals for the year?

Ask a reasonable question … get a stupid answer.

question-mark I decided to take a page from Saresa's Hermia's playbook and ask Twitter to do all the work for me. Little did I know Twitter wanted to find out about things other than WoW, so now it's time to pretend to be an authority on things. Wheee!

TheMightyGresh:* _do you really want to huuuurt me? Do you really want to make me cryyyy?_*

Yes. Warlocks are some of my favorite PvP targets, mostly because I still remember how warlocks work. Other classes might have tricks up their sleeves, but I know your arsenal pretty well. Plus affliction warlocks are a pretty good challenge, since unlike many casters - who I can lock out with my eight billion interrupts - affliction has a ton of instant casts, so I have to settle for a general silence and a beating with a sack of quarters.

Oh, and Fear? So underpowered. Hello, diminishing returns; hello, Every Man for Himself.

Trizophenie: Cloud or Squall? And why?

Neither. I haven't actually liked a Square-Enix hero since the days of FF6. Cloud's a doofus who's too wrapped up in himself to see the bigger picture of "hey dummy save the world," while Squall is a whiny emo boy-- wait a sec, I'm seeing a trend here. To contrast, I did kind of like Tidus, I just wish his dialogue writer hadn't made a concerted effort to make him sound like an idiot. Then again, Tidus kind of was an idiot, wasn't he? "Durrrr what do you mean Zanarkand's destroyed? Why is Auron sparkling? Durrrrrrrr."

Sabiba:_ here's a question for you: Why does blizzard hate hunters in PVP?_

I'm going to assume this is an arena question, because hunters seem to be doing fine in Battlegrounds. Here's your answer: they hate everyone, at different times, in arenas. Reason being, as they stated in an interview a while ago, arenas were basically shoved clumsily into the game and it's been hell for balance ever since. Frankly, I'd be just as happy if Cataclysm brought with it the removal of arenas.

Llanion: What toppings go on a correct pizza?

Anything except anchovies. The last pizza I had was the Socrates' Revenge from Dewey's Pizza: olive oil, minced garlic, Mozzarella-Fontina blend, spinach, black olives, green olives, Feta cheese, red Onions, tomatoes. Fantastic!

Krizzlybear: I have excellent rhythm, but I can't get the crossfader to work properly. Any suggestions? Oh right, WoW questions only...

Heck if I know, man, you're a full two difficulties above me. It would help if the crossfader locked a little more solidly into the 'center' position; as it is I tend to swing too far back when I hit a crossfade spike (I spike left, then accidentally go all the way right instead of back to center). I found that rather than trying to use it the way the tutorial shows, I positioned it between two of my fingers with my hand laying flat on the turntable controller - I tend to get better control that way.

Sleepyrabite: As I have nothing to ask about for WoW... What's your current favourite offline game?

Funny you should ask - I just recently moved the rather clumsy "Hey Phil Whatcha Playin'" feature to a site I recently found that is designed for exactly this kind of thing - here's my Backloggery! I'm currently dividing my attention between Half-Minute Hero, the Persona PSP remake, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, and (as you may have surmised from my answer to Krizz) DJ Hero. When my girlfriend is in town, we also play some co-op Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires. I also admit curiosity about Dragon Age: Origins; however, I may be the only gamer alive who didn't really like Torchlight.

Ladygypsy: how is mana pronounced? MAN-a or MAHHHN-a? (srsly, I can't pronounce squat in WoW.)

Well, I know how I pronounce it, but I wasn't sure it's correct, so I asked an authority. Apparently "mah-nah" - your second pronunciation - not "man-uh" is the correct pronunciation. It's apparently a Maori word! I've learned something new today.

Lightning Round! Nibuca asks 12 million questions!

  • _If you were trapped on a "Lost" isle.. and had access to only one game/console/pc which would you choose? _WoW. Surely no one expected that, but look at it this way: I can try and get my guildies to send a helicopter to get me off this stupid island!

  • If a boss falls in the game.. and the last of the raid members dies at the same time.. is it a wipe? Nope. Sure, you have to get back up and repair and heal, but you still get phat lewtz, making it not-a-wipe.

  • _What pie is best for T-day? _Pumpkin.

  • Should all pie be topped with whipped cream? No - apple pies, or other warm fruit pies, deserve ice cream. Any pie with a meringue doesn't need whipped cream - it brought its own topping to the table.

  • Is ice cream optional? For most pies, yes. I really only prefer it with fruit pies. It'll do for whipped cream in a pinch. Again, though, not really necessary for meringue pies at all.

  • Boxers briefs or commando.. which do you think @brigwyn_ chooses... {evil grin}_ I refuse to consider Brigwyn's undies or lack thereof; the fact that he showed up in my dreams on tour with Daft Punk was bad enough (at least he was fully clothed).

  • Harvest festival overview.. Grinding reputation with the "running circles in Dalaran" faction... RP for the uninitiated... _That's not a question, but lucky for you, I'm nice. I know as much about the Harvest Festival as you, I'm not sure what the second one is, and I'm not on an RP server anymore and never RP'd when I _was on one. NEXT!

  • How is the "Mr T hand grenade" better/worse than the zombie infestation from last year?

    • Better, for people who didn't enjoy the zombie infestation: you can click off the Mohawked buff instead of hoping for a healer to pass by, or waiting to zombify then exploding.

    • Worse, for people who did enjoy the zombie infestation: sorry, you don't get to fight your own faction and infect them with zombiedom.

    • Better, for everyone all around: the Mohawked buff isn't going to stop you from going about your business.

    • Worse, period: it doesn't really lead up to anything. Unless... Mr. T is the final boss of Cataclysm?! So now we know where Deathwing's been hiding all these long years: the A-Team van.

There, I think I won! Now if only there was a prize.

Orphans? Bah

orcish_orphan Ordinarily, I'd be all about a holiday, but Blizzard's desire to shove nonsensical PvP requirements into primarily PvE achievements is getting really old. There's a reason why Zulfon can be "Zulfon the Noble," and Queklain is always "Queklain the Hallowed," but you'll probably never see either be "Merrymaker."

I'm not entirely able to explain why I hate this, but I think it's the same thing as why I don't play on PvP servers: if I want to PvP, I'll go PvP. If I don't, I don't. By throwing in these achievements, in order to receive two tangible in-game rewards (the title and, eventually, the mount), Blizzard is essentially saying "suck it up: you have to go do PvP, no matter how much you hate it." Yeah, I know, no one is forced to do them, but no one is forced to get a 2200 arena rating either: arena people arena because they enjoy that, and I hunt achievements because I enjoy that, but when my achievements force me to do meaningless PvP-based sub-achievements? Screw it. Holidays can piss off.

On top of that, I don't even think Blizzard has completely thought through how these holiday PvP achievements work. I wouldn't want to be a battleground-runner this week. I had a feeling that hundreds of non-PvPers struggling to complete objectives that more or less pit them against their own team and the other team would be an... inhospitable environment. Apparently I was right. Euripedes has a plea from the PvP side of the fence for Blizzard to please, stop this nonsense:

So here's a suggestion, Blizzard:

Stop it.


Nobody likes it this way.

The people who want to PvP are frustrated because their battlegrounds are filling up with these incompetent morons who haven't the slightest idea what to do and have absolutely no will to change that.

The people who don't want to PvP are frustrated because they have to participate in something that, at best, has no interest to them and, at worst, is akin to smashing their face into mirrors and then stabbing themselves in the legs with the shards.

You want to have these people participate in PvP for an achievement? Fine. Then do it this way:

  • Win all five battlegrounds with your orphan out!

Shazam. You still force them to do something they don't want to do, but at least this time they don't have to completely screw up the battleground to do so.

Let me clarify: I'm not totally against PvP achievements. I think forcing them into the meta-achievement is a stupid idea, but I can understand maybe they're there to give the event a more well-rounded flavor. Fine. What I am against is poorly-designed PvP achievements. Here's a few examples of what I consider good and bad PvP achievement design:

  • Well-Designed

    • G.N.E.R.D. Rage*. *Neither side is negatively-impacted by the G.N.E.R.D.S. buff. If you die, applying the G.N.E.R.D.s buff is super-easy, because you get them out of every damn candy bucket in Azeroth, and you can trade them between people - so if you're out, but your buddy has a ton, just let him give you some before you queue up. In fact, this one has the bonus that you can do it anywhere - world PvP, Wintergrasp, Battlegrounds, maybe Arenas even. You name it, if you can get an HK, you can finish G.N.E.R.D. Rage.

    • Rotten Hallow (H)*. *This is the Horde PvP Hallows' End achievement, and it's really only PvP in the loosest sense of the term. It's quick, it's fun, and on some servers (Feathermoon, looking at you) it's not even going to get you flagged or attacked.

    • Elders of the Alliance* / Elders of the Horde. *It might not be the easiest achievement for some people (heck, you might have spent some time running around the city as a ghost looking for the elder), but at the very least, you could strip naked and corpse-run your way to victory. It may not be easy or enjoyable, but it's sure as hell not going to run anyone else's day.

    • All the Midsummer events: Desecration of the Horde / Desecration of the Alliance and King of the Fire Festival. I did these before there was an achievement for them on Queklain (well, I think I missed a few fires in Outland), and I look forward to doing them again as Zulfon. Stomping out fires is quick and easy and earns you a skirmish here and there from dedicated defenders (unlike Rotten Hallow, stomping out the fires does flag you), and as for the city fire retrieval... these things are a lot easier to find than the elders (well, except for Orgrimmar's, because we have bonfires everywhere all the time - but in, say, Stormwind, a bonfire in the park really sticks out), and sneaking from spot to spot as a non-stealth class? Hell, it was like Metal Gear Solid meets World of Warcraft. One of my fondest memories was riding into Stormwind on my dreadsteed, stealing the fire of Stormwind, sprinting north, and jumping into the canals; the guards gave up, though an intrepid hunter didn't. Deep underwater, I died, then self-rezzed... then, sneaking through the canal system of an unfamiliar city, I made my way nearly all the way to the castle itself without ever drowning. Finally, I found a boat next to a low section of the wall... leaping out, I mounted up my dreadsteed again and rode like a bat out of Hell to the tram, /cackle'ing all the way IRL. It was awesome, and I look forward to doing it again (and finishing it as Queklain - Flame Keeper Queklain seems apropos for a warlock!).

  • Poorly-Designed

    • Rotten Hallow (A). The Alliance side of the Rotten Hallow achievement is at least partially like the Horde one, in that they have a "crash the party" achievement, and the wickerman area well outside of Undercity is arguably even easier to get to than the Southshore Inn. The issue is the other half of the achievement: the Alliance is relying on being around the Inn when someone from the Horde does their Hallows' End thing to get this finished. This is ultimately unfair, and if this is the design Blizzard truly wanted, than the Horde should have been forced to clean up the mess at the wickerman as well.

    • With a Little Helper from My Friends. This would have been a lot better if there was a Winter Wondervolt machine in the battlegrounds and in Wintergrasp, or if the buff didn't wear off after death. I tried doing this one: tons of gnomes show up, swarm out, get a few HKs, die, lose the buff, and /afk ou t to get a new one rather than wasting their time. Great job on this one, Blizzard.

    • And lastly, the inspiration for this, School of Hard Knocks. *I don't curse often, so when I do, you know I mean it: Blizzard Entertainment World Event Designers, *what the fuck were you thinking? I entirely agree with ‘rip: if this had been "win once in each Battleground with your orphan out," this would have been (1) entertaining, (2) possibly enjoyable, and (3) at least contributing to the point of the battleground, i.e., to win. As it is? Let's take Eye of the Storm: not only does your average PvE achievement hunter not bother taking any towers this week, you also end up with a giant clusterfuck around the center flag, with no one doing any kind of D and eventually a win is achieved (for the other team, of course) via the towers because there were only 2 people on your team who weren't chasing the flag and only the flag. Alterac Valley and Arathi Basin are even worse, I'm sure: I don't dare poke my head in to find out.

So no, you won't see me in Alterac Valley with an orcish orphan trying to keep up, or letting the Alliance cap farm so I can take it back and get a quarter of an achievement. That's not my style. Brewfest? Midsummer Fire Festival? I'm all over those. But as for my orphan... all he gets is a day away from the orphanage, and I get a pig and a beholder.

Sorry Blizzard: maybe next year, if you've started thinking these things through.

3.1: The Frustration of Ulduar


Yeah, that sums up 3.1 pretty nicely, for me. I won't lie, there's good parts to it - I'm liking my death knight and warlock (yes, you read that right, warlock) better than ever, and love the new options available to most of my toons. The Argent Tournament is fantastic - I absolutely love it. But everything else? Frustrating.

Last night, it came in threes:

  1. I ran into a delightful bug with the dual spec feature. Mild compared to others, but consistent. Non-spellcasters who have abilities in their talent trees where rank 1 is bought with talents and every rank afterwards is bought from a trainer will find that often switching between trees removes the lowest such talent and anything below it. This means that every time I switch to my DPS spec, I have to reapply 7 points into the Blood tree; when I switch to tank, everything between Frost Strike and Howling Blast needs to be retalented. I can only imagine how annoying this would be for Unholy DKs; if I'm wrong and it's the highest, not the lowest, everything between Corpse Explosion and the bottom of the tree could potentially get removed.

  2. I've been trying for a while to get a spot in a 25-man team with members of The Aftermath. Unfortunately my contact guy and I have been missing each other. Last night we finally got in touch and he says "hey, you want to come do 25-man Emalon with us?" New boss? Of _course _I want to go! So I hearthed from Outland, where I had been working on Loremaster stuff, to Northrend and notice we don't have Wintergrasp. Wuh-oh. We fielded maybe 40-ish people in our group, with a few more besides... and still had from 3 to 7 stacks of Tenacity at all times. In short, it was an enormous lagfest that we lost through sheer numbers. So, no Emalon.

    • Also? I doubt we'd have been able to go to Emalon if we'd won. The instance servers had been down for going on four hours at that point and showed no signs of recovery.
  3. Oh, and then I disconnected, and the login servers were fried, so I couldn't get back on for at least an hour, maybe more, by which time my desire to log on had completely waned. Instead, I watched the debut episode of Pitchmen (Billy Mays is awesome) and played ... incoming blasphemy... City of Heroes.

So yeah, that's how 3.1 is for me: so good, it drove me to another MMO. Parts of it are good, but much like when 3.0.8 came out, the game is in a largely unplayable state at the moment. So how're things for you?

Failing towards victory: Banana Force M

WoWScrnShot<em>031609</em>212151 In 2009, their mission began. Three bloggers, out to "compete" (/airquotes) in the arena tournament, for the promise of prizes for participation. Pondering the big questions, like "where is my Moonfire keybind," and "how the hell did they just get off a heal," and "what if we run into someone who reads our blogs?" They are...

Banana Force M, proudly failing their way to a murloc. What could possess a team to have such a silly name? Simple: we took a component of each blog name to form the title of this tri-national arena team:

  • Siha, of Banana Shoulders, representing the Deep (Really Deep) South, hailin' from Australia (and feeling kind of dirty because we're making her play a blood elf instead of her usual human),

  • me, of course, reppin' for the U.S. of A., (and unnecessarily crippling my team further by playing a class and spec I've never played before, an Arms Warrior), and

  • Llanion, of Mad Cow Chronicles, holdin' it down for the Great Frozen Northlands of Canada.

We entered with one goal in mind: to win a murloc! Specifically Murkimus the Gladiator, the prize for playing 200 matches. We have no illusions of making it into the top 1000 in order to get the Vanquisher title (as I think I mentioned after viewing our rank last night, "all we need is for 1,325 teams to be worse than us and we're in"). But by , we'll get that fishman!

Some highlights:

  • Realizing that our team name sounds like some kind of 80's cartoon superhero combo, and reacting accordingly:

  • Llanion killing a death knight in single combat. (He was so proud, it was adorable, sort of. To be fair, the death knight kept spamming Chains of Ice despite diminishing returns, was in full Deadly Gladiator gear, and apparently had forgotten where his/her strangulate button was.)

  • Is something missing here? (Click to embiggen)

  • Leaping onto the tomb in the center of the Ruins of Lordaeron to /chicken at a priest on a team that was just cowering in the doorway. Luckily, we won, so I didn't look like a huge idiot.


  • Losing to teams with such names as Just Here For The Murloc, ThisWasTheOnlyNameLeft, WERE ALL GUYS IRL LOL, and Crazy Cat Ladies.

  • Beating teams with names like Two Jews and Marcello and the Power Rangers.

  • Look, ma, we briefly had a winning record!

Sometimes you roflstomp over the other team, sometimes it is you who gets roflstomped. We're all very zen about it, and we really do win our share of matches. Despite having a losing record, I freely admit I expected to be doing a lot worse - Llanion claims to be terrible at PvP, I'm playing a class I never played before, and Siha's the only one with any extensive experience on our team.

Also, impromptu dance parties.


1/3 of the way done. We're almost there! Our squishy little metal murloc is in our reach! o/