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All my bets are lost. I was dead-sure that WotLK would only be released in 2009, but fortunately, it seems that me and my fellow horde of skeptics (no pun intended) were wrong. If you visit the WoW website right now, odds are you'll be greeted with a page announcing the release date for the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion - "In Stores 11.13.08". That's like... really bloody soon! Better get your pre-orders sorted out, fast.


The same thing is also beeing announced by Blizzard in a full-fledged press release, which also sheds some light on when the expansion will land in different territories: November 13 in North America, Europe, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Russia. November 14 in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. And finally November 18 in Korea and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The Lich King's wrath will be sealed in a DVD box inscriptioned with a $39.99 price tag, and a special Collector's Edition priced at $69.99 will also be available "in select regions".
Playing catch-up with some Blizzard news while patching WoW to version 2.4.2, I noticed something everyone else must have known about since two days ago: BlizzCon 2008 was announced this week, "now with 50% more hall space for your convention-going enjoyment". This will be the third edition of Blizzard's gaming convention, and for those interested in attending, the venue and dates are Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, on October 10-11. Tickets will go on sale in the next few weeks, priced at $100 per person.
"BlizzCon will offer a wide variety of activities to help all attendees get the most out of the two-day event. In addition to serving as a gathering place for the different Blizzard Entertainment gaming communities, attendees will be able to enjoy:

- Hands-on play time with upcoming Blizzard Entertainment releases
- Discussion panels with Blizzard Entertainment developers
- Competitive and casual tournaments for players to showcase their talents
- Areas and activities devoted to licensed products such as the World of Warcraft - Trading Card Game
- Costume, machinima, and character sound-alike contests with great prizes
- Commemorative merchandise based on the Blizzard Entertainment franchises
- A silent auction
- More exciting activities to be announced"

The press release isn't hinting at any new game announcements during the event, but you never know...
Blizzard has announced a new format for their 2008 World of Warcraft Arena Tournaments that are set to begin this April, with more than $200,000 in cash prizes. This new type of competition will be using the game's Arena system, and it will take place on special realms that will allow competitors to instantly create level 70 characters with epic equipment. Thus, they say, the focus will be placed on tactics and execution, rather than normal adventuring.
"The tournaments are scheduled to start in April with two rounds of online qualifiers in Europe, South Korea, North America, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Each qualifier round will have a per-competitor entry fee - €15/£12 in Europe; 20,000 won in South Korea; $20 in North America; and NT$450 in the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau - and will run for six weeks. During this time, teams will play 3-vs.-3 matches on the tournament realm in their region, with the top four teams from each round advancing to the regional finals to compete for more than $27,000 in cash prizes. Winners from each regional will then be invited to a global championship event to compete for $120,000 in cash prizes, including a $75,000 grand prize."

Further details will be posted in due time on the World of Warcraft website.
A new area from Northrend is being detailed this week on the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King website, called Grizzly Hills. Located on the Eastern coasts of the continent, this is where the ancestral home of the furbolgs, Grizzlemaw lies. "For generations the tribal furbolgs have worshipped a colossal prehistoric bear that roams the surrounding wilderness", the preview subtly warns, and the fluffyballs aren't as peaceful as they used to be either. We can thank the goblin Venture Company's deforesting operations for that, but most of all the undead Drakkari ice trolls invading from their Drak’Tharon Keep stronghold to the north. To get a better picture of this vast and dangerous wilderness, you can watch this new Grizzly Hills silent film. Sure looks huge.
Well, gank me silly and call me a gnome! Plans for some kind of World of Warcraft mobile functionality really are underway over at Blizzard. Mind you, the idea of an actual WoW MMO on cell phones still sounds just as ludicrous as before, but that's not what they're aiming for at all. In fact, they don't seem to be aiming for anything in particular right now, just idly fiddling with a small team of mobile developers, to see what they can come up with. That, according to Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce, quoted in an MTV article yesterday:
"We want to look at the mobile devices as something we can use to enhance the experience of our existing games. So we're going to have to look at ways to use the mobile device to enhance their 'World of Warcraft' experience. We'll see what kind of applications we can come up with.

(...) So as an example, one thing I think would be really cool - and whether we're going to be able to do this, I don't know, but it would be really cool - is if we could have a client on your mobile device like [Google Chat] that hooks you into your guild chat in the game. That would be really cool. Or the ability to view your in-game mail or view your in-game auctions. We probably wouldn't allow you to actually buy or sell via the mobile device, but you could certainly monitor."

If there's no hope for buying / selling at the Auction House, then seriously, what's the point?
Here's a video of Prince Kael'thas getting his ass served in his cozy new home, up on Sunwell Isle. This of course happened on the Public Test Realm, while the rest of us are waiting patiently (more or less) for Blizzard to deploy the 2.4 patch, one of these Wednesdays.

In case you've been living at the Auction House for the last couple of months, Kael'thas is the last boss from The Magister's Terrace, the new 5-man dungeon being introduced in World of Warcraft with version 2.4. You can read the tactics for this fight on Blizzplanet, if you really want to spoil the fun of an oblivious wipe. Not me, though. I got a challenge to attend with my guildies, to see who can clear out that place first, without reading tacts on the nets.

To this day, I still congratulate myself for this artsy screenshot of M'uru I took during the TBC beta (almost as artsy as this one), showing the former Naaru guardian of Tempest Keep, now shackled and sucked dry by those gay blood elves in Silvermoon City. Well, that image will soon be worth its 100K weight in gold, because M'uru will have vanished from Silvermoon in patch 2.4, after the "felbloods" commanded by Kael'Thas paid him a visit and took him away to the Sunwell Plateau. Apparently those channelers were too dizzy busy puffing the magic dragon, with reports from the PTR saying "the Magisters who were restraining him are now standing dazed". Bloody junkies!

So the question now is, how will he appear like in Sunwell? At this point, the best theory is that M'uru becomes the Dark Naaru - one of the bosses in the new 25-man raid dungeon. This is even backed-up by the dark naaru model's filename, "Muru", on the PTR. Sounds like a very cool turn of events, one of many that await us on the Sunwell Island - including the radical transformation of Kael'Thas himself! But that's another story...

I'm tired of waiting for the resident drunken boomkin to move his lazy ass and post this already, so here's the short version: the official 2.4 patch notes are up! True, they're only for the Public Test Realm at this point, but I'm willing to bet a Lavender Mageweave Shirt that they'll hold true for the real thing. Any (Wednes)day now... It's gonna take a while...
While we were busy putting the finishing touches on our shiny new website Playkon, some folks from Blizzard were having a laugh over in Los Angeles at the D.I.C.E. Summit, reminiscing various stories and their past failures. Fortunately, we'll never know just how bad those failed games were, since they were cancelled long before they could reach us. But we did find out what games exactly they cancelled - some of which 99.9% of humanity had no idea even existed at all, prior to seeing this list.
- Games People Play
- Crixa
- Shattered Nations
- Pax Imperia
- Denizen
- Warcraft Adventures
- Nomad
- Raiko

The most dubious absence from that list is of course StarCraft: Ghost, which was clearly left out on purpose. So, in other words, it's still not dead and burried. Yep, Blizzard is "still in denial about that one”. Jeez, wake up and smell the fucking napalm already!

Another absence spotted by Blizzplanet is Diablo II: Salvation, a brand which Blizzard abandoned back in 2005. And finally, that same story points to Gamespot's "lengthy article covering the D.I.C.E. event with quotes from Mike Morhaime and a few screenshots"... Umm, screenshots?! This may come as a shock to whoever wrote that story, but those are actually photos of something called real-life. You know, that thing we all have to face once in while, when we're out of booze and need to run down to the store. Speaking of which, brb.
Looks like a Blizzard webmaster pulled a Leeroy Jenkins this morning, when he did a sloppy update revealing the upcoming World of Warcraft Miniatures Game, with a link curiously directing to a StarCraft 2 page... Nothing a vigorous mashing of the Refresh button couldn't fix, though: a few minutes later, a brand new announcement dated February 7 (kek) brought with it the first details for this tabletop game - lovingly called WoW Minis.
"Following the success of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, Upper Deck Entertainment is releasing a World of Warcraft Miniatures Game. Starting this fall, you’ll be able to do battle on your tabletop with premium quality, highly detailed 3-D renderings of characters of every race and class, as well as iconic individuals like Warchief Thrall and Leeroy Jenkins.

Each premium pre-painted miniature will be mounted on a uniquely engineered removable base, allowing the figure to serve as a collectible as well as a game piece. The game will feature both head-to-head battles and stand-alone raid and dungeon scenarios, which players can cooperate to overcome."

So, any questions? Yes, no, none of the above? Either way, go check out the WoW Minis website. Over and logout.

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