Since today's first question in Maelstrom-themed, we've decided today's edition of The Queue was a good time to link the supposed leaked trailer of the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, to be announced at BlizzCon '09. We haven't embedded the video to try and dodge waking up to a DMCA tomorrow, so just check it out on YouTube. We'll let Google deal with the mess, eh?
"What instances would you suggest for a Maelstrom expansion?"
All of the things you suggested yesterday would work pretty well. Nazjatar and the Tomb of Sargeras would definitely be raid zones in a future expansion. I suspect we would also have a hella fun time in The Eye of the Maelstrom, which is the center of the whole storm there. Maybe we'd even visit Mak'aru, which is where all the gross crab people live. It probably wouldn't be a raid, but I could see a 5-man there. That is, if we don't ally with the gross crabfolk. Did I mention they're gross? Gross. I'd also lay down money that we'll get an Onyxia/Gruul/Malygos-style raid with a sea monster of some sort. The Lurker Below v2.0, now with eye lasers?
Anybody have any other ideas? Anything they'd want to see out in the Maelstrom? I could probably make things up that I'd like to see all day, but that's not very fun in the context of The Queue!
"I play a Mage, and I notice that spell crits can vary widely in their damage. For instance, while raiding, my Frostfire Bolt will usually crit for about 8k or so. But sometimes, it crits for 11, 12, or even 13k.
Why the big difference in damage? Multiple talents proccing at the same time? RNG?"
There are a lot of factors that play into this, such as procs and talents, but the largest culprit is the Crit muliplier and the base damage range spells have. If you look at the tooltip for a spell, in this case Frostfire Bolt, you won't see one flat number for how hard it hits. You'll see a range. Frostfire Bolt rank 2 causes 722 to 838 Frostfire damage before any spellpower is taken into consideration. That's a gap of 116 damage. When a spell crits, most spell casters will have talents that allow their spells to do 200% of their damage, rather than the base 100%. So the crit range, before spell power, is 1444 to 1676. That becomes a gap of 232 damage and the spell can hit for anything in that range.
And then you take things like spellpower into consideration, some of which can come from trinket procs, so it's not always a stagnant number. And then you consider talents that increase damage by 3% or 5% or whatever-other-percent. That range between the low end of your crits grows significantly once you start including all of those things.
For extra hilarity, you take that range into a boss like Hodir and you crit for 55,000 one second and 15,000 the next.
"Will the new Thanksgiving achievements be required for What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been? I'd much rather get my Proto Drake in September than late November."
The new holiday stuff hasn't been added to What a Long, Strange Trip its Been yet on the PTR, but that doesn't mean it won't be. My gut says the meta will let us skip Day of the Dead and Pirate Day, but I'm not so sure about the Thanksgiving stuff. So basically, what I'm saying is that I have no idea. Brace yourself just in case it does get added, though.
"Why do the major cities, including those introduced in the expansions, have vendors selling white (common) quality weapons? Even the lowest quest reward is an upgrade, so they can't serve any real purpose. Yet Blizzard keeps putting them in. Any idea why?"
Nowadays, white items are just used for fun little flavor items. The vendors in Dalaran sell white items named after the town, such as the Dalaran Greatsword. Throughout all of WoW, these items come with an added bonus of being useful for skilling various things up. Taking that Greatsword as an example, it has a 2.10 weapon speed. You won't find a faster Two-handed Sword in the game.
Most often though, white items are used as flavor/entertainment items. Fluff to put on the vendors to make it interesting. You probably won't use any of the white items named for Dalaran, but the vendors offering up the towns' wares is kind of neat. Even if it all sucks.
As for Vanilla WoW specifically, white items were actually very useful back then! Enchanting a white, non-binding 1.30 speed dagger with Fiery and passing it around to guild mates rolling new characters was awesome. 2-shotting things straight to level 15 simply through Fiery procs? Yes, please!