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Ask a Beta Tester: Northrend, tanking, and pop culture


Step off the zeppelin or boat to Northrend and you're in a new world. Even when there's not snow, Northrend simply feels cold. Piano playing in the background in Dragonblight even sounds like ice should feel. It's a brave new world of strange sights, unusual architecture, and unheard of beasts. Curious about what you should expect? Read on.


Have you seen much of the Nordic influence that Wrath is supposed to have? I know you've discussed the Vrykul and the Val'kyr before, but I'm wondering if you've seen any more esoteric or obscure references? I'd find it mighty entertaining if there was a baker who sold Kransekake, or a cooking recipe to make Lutefisk.

I think this question pretty much floored most of the team -- because none of us really experts in Norse mythology. Your friend and mine, Alex, had this to say about Norse influences in the expansion: There are the jormungar, of course, and the Avatar of Freya in the Sholazar Basin. The Avatar of Freya is a vaguely Druidic being that is battling the Scourge and Freya is one of the Titans. The Titans themselves are heavily inspired by Norse and Greek mythology.

For more of your questions -- and our answers! -- read on! But if you're the sort who wants to avoid spoilers, turn back now. We're aiming to avoid major story spoilers, but this feature is all about beta content and we can't talk about the beta without giving a few things away.

t_d asked....

I loved the addition of the Arakkoa and Consortium with Burning Crusade. Have you seen any more pop in Wrath of the Lich King and further more, has their stories been expanded on?

No Arakkoa of yet, but some Etherials have found their way into Wrath -- the "evil" etherals whom you fight in Netherstorm.

One of the best things that Blizzard is known for is placing clever pop culture references throughout their games. What has been some of the more obvious ones you've spotted with the beta?

There is Saffron Reynolds the Poison Vendor... but hardly have time to list them all! I promise a fuller exploration of pop culture references in Wrath in a future post.

Corusis asked....

In BC, we were treated to such disgusting quests as picking through Talbuk poop, fetching rotten eggs that cause you to projectile vomit, and rescuing Corki. What sort of unpleasant tasks will Blizz make players slog through in their desperation to get to 80?

Of course Wrath has its own unpleasantries to deal with.... Daniel notes that there's a quest in which you get to sort through your own, uh, leavings in order to recover some seeds. Matticus tells us there's an Alliance quest in Borean that had something about Gnomes and a downed pilot -- you had to feed wolves because the wolves ate some fancy Gnome things and have to poop them out. Aren't you looking forward to the expansion now?

Freelier asked....

How much rep will I get with the old world reps while leveling in Northrend?

I checked with the team to make sure I wasn't missing anything, but no one seems to have run into any of the major city factions. (No Orgrimmar, no Stormwind, no Dalaran, etc.) Alliance forces mostly seem to fall under the Valiance Expedition faction, while Horde forces fall under The Hand of Vengeance and Warsong Expedition. There are a couple of familiar factions, though: we've found the Explorer's League and the Cenarion Expedition (in the form of a group known as D.E.H.T.A. -- of whom I get the feeling the Cenarion Circle wouldn't really approve).

Fantus said....

I am curious how the Paladin Protection Spec is doing at the moment in beta. Solo or grouped, but mainly solo since that was what I always found hard leveling that spec from 1-70.

Being that my Paladin is Holy spec and only level 72 at the moment, I asked the team for their thoughts. Alex has been putting his prot-adin through the paces. He tells us, "They're awesome 5-man tanks, but that's been true since early BC, if not before that. Playing one, they're much more active tanks now. More buttons to push, which is fun. Soloing is roughly the same. Again, a little more active. A little faster, because of Touched by the Light [a Protection talent that increases your spell power by a percentage of your stamina]. Soloing as a Protection Paladin is still faster if you pull multiple mobs at once instad of one at a time, so that hasn't really changed much except you do a little more damage. Shield of Righteousness probably helps soloing as well, but I haven't gotten that yet. [It's a level 75 ability, and with now needing 80% more experience to level...]"

h8rain mentioned....

"...and DK's... well, okay, so far no DK I've run with has wanted to tank." Does not surprise me one bit. I expect a flood of DK and when you PST them if they can tank, the macro'ed response will be "Sorry, I am 'DPS' spec."

I chatted with the rest of the team to see what they thought of the Death Knight's tanking ability. Alex notes that, in his experience, their damage seems very spiky and their mitigation, in part, relies on cooldowns. However, the random leveling blues and greens everyone's equipped with are hardly ideal tanking gear. "Their threat is pretty awesome though!"

Commenter macster seems to think that the trouble with DKs tanking in beta is that "they arrive in Northrend in leveling greens/blues, while everyone else in the group will be pimped out in epics. I've seen a few complaints from DK tanks about them struggling to hold aggro in Utgarde because the DPS has their Sunwell gear on." I'm not sure this will be a problem for everyone, or that it's a unique problem -- gearing up is a problem for every new tank, especially when they're running instances with people over their gear level.

Conner Murphy and Azzarrea both wanted to know about the fate of the Black Tabby Cat, which currently drops from Dalaran mages in the Alterac Mountains. The question being: will it still be attainable in Wrath?

Yes, the famous Black Tabby will still be around for your pet-collecting pleasure when Wrath rolls around. Why? Because the same Dalaran mages are still hanging around in the ruins in Alterac Mountains, ripe for the killing.

muxecold asked....

Does damage from Thorns and Retribution aura scale with spell power now? Does it scale with AP?

I can confirm that Retribution Aura scales with spell power. I can't confirm about Thorns, but if Retribution is scaling with AP, it makes sense for Thorns to have some sort of scaling as well.

Talamarr asked....

Do you forsee issues where players will be camping spawn points of vehicles, not even attempting to play the match?

At present, vehicles spawn at capturable points throughout the Lake Wintergrasp map. However, Wintergrasp isn't complete yet. Right now, the spawn points aren't respawning unless the server reboots.

Sikachi asked....

What spec for DKs is best for AoE farming/grinding and how does it compare to other AoEing classes like Mages?

Though all of a Death Knight's possible specs have some AoE ability (Corpse Explosion, Death & Decay, Unholy Blight, Wandering Plague, and Desecration), they don't quite compare to other AoE classes. Daniel suggests that Unholy is probably the best spec for AoE (with Corpse Explosion, Unholy blight, Wandering Plague, and Desecration), but you shouldn't expect to see a Death Knight wandering around, as a Mage might, grinding with the use of a single AoE spell. (Blizzard, Blizzard, Blizzard, Frost Nova, etc.)

Says Daniel, "You can actually do some pretty decent farming with those and Death & Decay, but you'll be Death Striking a lot to get health back. Most DKs will probably go Blood for grinding. It's not strictly AE, but you pretty much never die because you gain back so much health. You can AoE grind, but you'll be using a lot of melee abilities, too. I do quasi-AoE with Unholy, and it is fun, but it's probably a bit slower and less efficient than Blood. But with Morbidity, Corpse Explosion, Unholy Blight, Wandering Plague, and Desecration in talents, and Pestilence, Blood Boil, and Death and Decay in baseline, you can AE to some degree."

The Wrath of the Lich King beta is in full swing, and the WoW Insider crew is here to sate your curiosity with Ask a Beta Tester! Leave your beta questions in the comments and we'll do our best to answer 'em! And if you can't get enough Wrath, don't forget to check WoW Insider's Wrath Roundup page for anything we haven't answered here!

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