For the first time ever, I got into the beta for an expansion.
I spent virtually no time in it. Frankly, work pushed me about as close to my limit in June as it possibly could, and I could never justify jumping into beta during very limited play-time/energy when there were things to do in Live. So the invite was, sadly, basically wasted on me. Hopefully next time – if there is a next time – I will have more time to be a contributor, both here and in the beta.
Anyway, I said all of that to say this: I know very little about the upcoming expansion. I have read some, class-mechanic, stat, and gear-wise, but I got basically no experience on beta other than some time on a target dummy about a month or so ago.
That being said, here are my rough priority lists for Legion:
- Feral druid leveled through Legion, in a Loremaster-y – as opposed to world-first-y – type fashion.
- Once I finally hit 100: world quests, dungeons, PvP, and whatever the class hall requires, in order to have fun and possibly get geared for raiding.
- Her professions on their way to being whatever they end up as in Legion.
There are 5 other toons I want to bring into Legion, in relatively this order:
1. Frost Mage – if my druid is my melee toon (and possible healer) for competitive or instance play, the mage may be my ranged option. Fire is cool too, but I love frost from a greater conceptual standpoint, and so far I am enjoying playing him in the pre-patch.
(As a bonus, he is also my Tailor / Jewelcrafter, which I get some value out of…)
2a. Prot warrior – I really respect prot warriors and enjoy the challenge of playing mine. As frustrating as he is to play in certain situations, I love this toon, and I want him to get his sword and shield, and at least see how the spec plays in Legion. So far, he feels fairly powerful in Tanaan, given his relatively low gear level.
2b. Frost DK – because his weapons are reforged from the shards of Frostmourne! Do I get to talk to the new-and-improved Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon? I’ll find out soon enough (those who know, DON’T tell me!!)… Heck, that’s almost enough to make me take this toon into the Broken Isles FIRST.
(But I won’t. But it will happen sooner than later!)
2c. Mushan (hunter) – because he is my hunter, and because I still want to try to live my fantasy of the class in a casual sense, even if it means not prepping him for all the raiding stuff, etc. But his stock is sinking rapidly with respect to having a fun gameplay experience, in my observation thus far this patch.
3. Ret Paladin – …do I really have to say?
This is, admittedly, a tertiary priority, because I really just want the artifact – I don’t know if I will really be able to give much time to her. But, since the expansion will apparently be at least 2 years in length, I have time to maybe do so.
– I am making a Demon Hunter, just to check it out.
– Can you believe I have not ever played a Pandaren toon yet?
– Can you believe I have not leveled a shaman to 100?
– Can you believe I have never leveled a Horde character to max level?
– Or a warlock, monk, or priest?
– . . .
Well, if I at any point thought that there was nothing left for me to do in-game, I was overlooking a lot. Now, it’s not like I’m retiring from my job and plan on spending the next several years immersing myself in everything WoW before the servers go down. But I would like to tackle a few of these, if not all. Here’s what I have in mind:
- As noted above, make a Demon Hunter (the easiest, obviously, to get to max level at this point).
- Level a Pandaren Monk. Alliance side.
- Level a Shaman (probably Dwarf, otherwise Tauren).
- Level a Tauren Druid if the sham is a Dwarf, otherwise Tauren Shaman).
*Side note: I still have both my level 90 and 100 boosts. I may use the 100 boost at some point if I get one of these toons to 90, because I like the leveling process – I’m just done with the WoD process. But the 90 boost I may never use. We’ll see.
I was going to try to list some other things I have in mind, but really that stuff is so far off anyone’s radar right now that I won’t. The above list is enough to cover me for activity into the foreseeable future, especially if my future schedule ends up allowing me to do some raiding!
I’m not terribly interested in Professions this time around. Let me rephrase that: In Legion, I’m not going to go for broke on maxing out each and every profession to cover all of my bases. I’ll get Ana all done, and probably the mage, and the rest may or may not follow. My main focus is one to two toons, and I’m determined to leave a few of my 100s on the bench this time. That’s an idea that’s a direct rejection of the ‘jack of all trades’ meta-game in WoW. I need to focus on having fun. I already have a job. I worked 70 hours at it last week.
Three months ago, my plan for the Legion expansion period was to make a bunch of new toons and level them to 100 without taking them past Pandaria / to Draenor, because I do not really want to play WoD again for a long time, and wasn’t interested in working my WoW endgame ‘job’ again in Legion, in addition to my real job. Now, I’ve got plenty of potential fun on my plate along with some energy to direct toward it!
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.
I started playing Warlords on launch day – November 13th – during the day. I took my time with it. Regardless of my decision not to blow through the content, I didn’t have much of a choice anyway. In real life, I work retail, and during the past month-plus the place has been devouring all of my time and energy. As such, I started playing that Thursday, spent the next week doing little more than a few quests at a time when I could snatch an hour to play, and finally hit 100 eleven days later, on Sunday the 23rd.
(And here I am, nine days later, finally writing about it. Yeah.)
I had a good time. The game looks beautiful; I took more than 2800 screenshots along the way to 100, both to have a record of quest progress and to simply capture the beauty from time to time. I read the quest texts, and will re-read them the next time I take a character through.
However, now that I’m 100, I don’t know what to do. Since I am not raiding, I’m not trying very hard to gear. The only real post-100 gear that I’ve been going after, very occasionally, is PvP gear. More on that in a moment. I’m basically spending time at 100 doing Garrison dailies, a little bit of PvP, and trying to decide which toon to bring to Draenor next. And that’s about it for now.
Anyway, here are some of my early thoughts on the expansion…
Gearing for Leveling
So far, only Mushan has stepped through the Dark Portal, so I can only vouch for how this worked for that character. However, I can tell you that early-Pandaria heroic dungeon gear is more than adequate for leveling on Draenor.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I started WoD with an item level of 471 (upgraded Heroic dungeon gear). I kept every piece until I was a good way past 92, at which point I picked out the best pieces I had gotten from quests and rares and equipped those. This brought me to ilvl 511. Then, I kept all of those pieces equipped until I was 95, at which point I swapped gear again and bumped my ilvl to 543.
So halfway through the leveling process, I was still basically wearing gear roughly equivalent to Siege of Orgrimmar flex, before upgrades, with no set bonuses.
Before I go further, let me also mention that I did the first couple of levels without a pet. My first use of a pet was during my first Garrison invasion, before which I tamed a wolf because I felt that it was time, and because I did not know what to expect during the invasion. Before that, though, I did the group quest where you kill the elekk elite near your fort by myself, with no pet. I took some hits, but I managed to kite it well enough that I was able to persevere and take it down with little problem.
Anyway, I kept that gear until I was level 98, and when that swap was complete I was up to 580 and had finally eclipsed my top Mists ilvl.
I rode that gear until I hit 100, and then I made my final mass-swap and jumped up to 604. I haven’t built much upon that since, although I haven’t had any real problems out in the world with that gear.
I like that I was able to get some use out of the gear acquired through leveling. I enjoy that part of the leveling process – getting gear as I progress – and I believe it helped me appreciate the enemy encounters along the way much more than if I had Husqvarna-ed my way through Draenor with SoO gear.
It was also nice not banging my head against the wall in SoO over the last couple of months trying to get gear and the heirloom weapons (or legendary cloaks for my alts). I got weapons at regular intervals throught Draenor, as I had suspected I would, and they served me well. It was a much less stressful way for me to play.
After hitting 100, I went to check out Ashran.
After about an hour and a half of play there over three occasions, I don’t have many thoughts on it, other than that the same two bosses always seem to be engaged, and that the fighting always seems to be taking place on the road in the same place. The zone is pretty cool – I’ve enjoyed exploring around – and has been compared to Wintergrasp, but my early impression is that it doesn’t hold a candle to Wintergrasp. I’m pretty disappointed overall. I still want to try out Southshore vs. Tarren Mill, and get my feet wet in some other BGs again. But overall, my time in Ashran has caused me to be more interested in leveling my next toon than in PvP.
I’ve enjoyed the Garrisons more than I thought I would have. I’m glad that I didn’t fuss over them extensively before the launch. It was fun to have the ins and outs revealed to me as I progressed.
I decided to go with the Barn and Tannery to supplement my Leatherworking and Skinning. This has turned out to be beneficial, since I don’t really have time to go out and acquire mats for the daily cooldowns. I also went with the Salvage Yard, Stables, Storehouse, Barracks, and Gladiator’s Sanctum. I’m still leveling my buildings, since I missed a lot of days leading up to and during the holiday. It’s fun, but it also seems like a lot of busy work.
I like having followers. There are some cool people hanging out at my Garrison now: I really like having Admiral Taylor, Rulkan, and Lantresor of the Blade around. I like doing missions, although I’m somewhat handicapped by the fact that I have no followers who can mitigate spells. I’ve got, like, 37 rogues, 12 priests, 15 warriors, and 26 paladins. At least, it seems that way. For now, though, I don’t really mind. I’m still not done doing everything in the game yet, like some of the quests and all of the dungeons, so we’ll see what happens.
I just wonder what spending time in my Garrison will look like six weeks from now…
As much as I love dungeons, I haven’t gotten into any of them yet. I got invited to one last week while I was partially afk, and didn’t have time to do it. Other than that, though, I’ve only been doing content that I can leave at any time, because, as I mentioned, I’ve been very busy, and when I get home from work, I am usually extremely tired.
Story (Alert!! Possible spoilers below, if you haven’t finished all of the questlines yet!)
A couple of random story thoughts…
– Deaths. AU Velen, I was feeling a little shocked, but I understood and admired his sacrifice. Maraad, I was quite saddened by. AU Orgrim, I thought to myself, “oh shit, no way!” but that didn’t affect me like Maraad’s death, and I was just glad that AU Durotan was still alive.
However, I absolutely loved the cinematic at the end of the Nagrand storyline. Dude had it coming, and he got his in epic fashion!
– At the end of the Auchindoun questline, we defeat a demon, and then take the gate to Auchindoun, where Exarch Maladaar and Soulbinder Tuulani seem to have different and somewhat bizarre reactions to the disappearance of Gul’dan and Teron’gor…
The Exarch is happy that we slayed several baddies. His reaction is completely without regard to the situation on the ground, or in Auchindoun:
Meanwhile, Tuulani is saddened and mystified:
Apparently neither really knows how instance portals work…
Generally, the leveling story was pretty good, but I felt there was something important missing at the end of this questline. Any normal player/hero knows that they jumped into the instance, which took them out of PvP. Right? And Teron’gor is a boss in the Auchindoun dungeon, so… yeah.
It just didn’t seem written well at all.
Man, I miss Scatter Shot.
I also kind of miss Arcane Shot as Marksmanship, but I’m okay without it. In Warlords, it would have made rotations smoother. But I generally enjoyed MM for leveling: the Aimed/Chimaera double-whammy was nice on single mobs. And while Multishot seems terribly ineffective, Explosive Trap is awesome when you pull a bunch of little podling b-holes…
As I said, I had no problem leveling with no pet for a while, and with simply using the leveling gear.
There are a lot of words in this post, and not a heck of a lot of substance. Oh well. I hope you don’t mind; I just wanted to check in since I have a rare day off and the servers are down for maintenance. I’m still here, and checking the game out a little bit at a time.
I’d like to decide today who I want to take over there next. I’m actually thinking of starting more than one: I have a mage, warrior, and death knight, and I’d like to see which of them I want to take to 100 first. The problem with the plate toons is that I don’t know if I want to level them as tanks or damage specs. I’ll probably stay Blood/Prot, because ultimately I’d like to tank some dungeons once the holidays are over and I (theoretically) have more time, but we’ll see.
If I get all three into Draenor this week, I can start on their profession stuff, which will be nice.
Until next time, hope you’re all having fun!
* * *
It’s been quite a while since I chimed in here…
But now, with November 13th now solidly penciled in on the calendar, we have some long, long,
-awaited closure with respect to the Warlords of Draenor release date.
As I mentioned back in March, the 11/13/14 release date means, since it is indeed after October 21st, that
“Warlords will have both A) taken the longest time-after-previous-expansion to release of any expansion in the game’s history and B) given players the greatest amount of down-time after the previous expansion’s final content patch in the game’s history.”
So, we’ll have to see how this expansion unfolds, with respect to measured content updates and shorter downtime between final patches and new expansions. That will be another year or two (or more). Blizzard says that they are already working on the next one, but we’ve heard that before. They’re still bleeding subscriptions, and they failed to solve that problem this go-round, so we’ll see.
The question is, how many of us will see…
* * *
Anyway, how about that cinematic? I have to say, I loved it, in spite of the exclusion of anything other than male orcs and a demon. The setting was compelling, the production spectacular, and the action was thrilling. I absolutely loved the flying-Grommash-axe-to-the-head killing of Mannoroth.
I’ve watched the cinematic approximately twenty times. It makes me want to do two things: re-read Rise Of The Horde, and read all of the books post-The Shattering – in particular, War Crimes. That’s something to put on the list of things to get done within the next three months.
It was quite possibly the best cinematic yet. As good as Cataclysm’s seemed at the time, this and the trailer for Mists absolutely destroy it, in my opinion. Wrath’s was awesome too, and I loved the original WoW trailer as well. Darkbrew published a list of his favorites, and mine would be similar.
Here’s a recurring thought I have every time we get the expansion trailer: Blizzard should make a complete movie with CGI. I’m willing to be impressed by the live-action movie that will grace us in a couple of years, but I would love to see something killer like the past couple of cinematics become a major motion picture. Perhaps the cost/risk would be too great – I don’t know about these things. But hey, a guy can dream, right?
* * *
I’m still playing, although I basically stopped raiding near the end of June. My job has been stressful, and I wasn’t finding it a productive use of my time to come home from work and promptly beat my head against a wall until a couple of hours after midnight, particularly when I would have to be back at work early the next day.
In fact, I’m becoming convinced that my raiding days may be behind me. Barring a change of circumstances, I’m not going to have the time and focus to commit to raiding and raiding well. Real life comes first, and I am at an age and in a situation where I can’t let structure in WoW interfere with my future. The idea of not raiding can be a painful one, but the way I’ve felt the past few months, I don’t know that I can do it going forward.
With that (and other things) in mind, my plans for Warlords have been shifting over the past couple of weeks.
I had already planned to not race to level 100. What’s shifting may surprise the socks off of some of you…
I’m thinking of leveling a different toon first. As in, not Mushan.
* * *
Why not Mushan? I know, it seems anathema to lifelong hunters out there, but I’m not the average WoW hunter. I’ll be honest: I’m not terribly happy with what I’ve read about the changes to Survival. It seems like it’s a shadow of its former self. I know that’s a simplified way to look at changes to the spec – and I’ll certainly try it out when Patch 6.0 goes live – but I’m not feeling it right now.
And, while I feel a little better about Marksmanship than SV, it seems like, pre-numbers-pass, Beast Mastery is the way to go. And (here’s where I know I differ from other hunters) I don’t enjoy BM. To me, it’s like being a guy with a water gun and a remote-control car, and you shoot your water gun and remotely control your car, which sometimes gets stuck on a rock in the dirt or some other protrusion and ends up getting stepped on. Perhaps this reflects the true lack of skill I have in the game, but I’ve never enjoyed playing a hunter less in the post-mana era than when I went BM for Council of the Elders in ToT.
Anyway… *washes hands of the issue* I’ll be able to better make a decision on that when the patch goes live and I’ve had a chance to try out each spec to see if I like one of them.
* * *
As for what I’ve been up to in WoW, there hasn’t been much of note.
I’m steadily making cloth for Royal Satchels: So far, Mushan and my druid, Anacrusa, are fully Satcheled-up, with a few other Satchels on various other toons. Now that we have a release date, I’m certain that I will not have full Panda-bags on each of my main toons, but I won’t need that space immediately since I am not racing them all to 100 ASAP, so I will probably leave Modhriel (my Tailor) at Halfhill for the foreseeable future while that project is going on.
I’ve taken up PvP on my druid, which has been interesting. With a gear set largely composed of Timeless Isle gear, about a week ago I stepped in and started losing a lot of random BGs. Compounding the gear problem was my inability to play the spec well, and vice-versa. It’s been a long time since I PvPed regularly on my druid – three years or so – so there has been a lot to learn. I felt a bit guilty for holding my teams back, but I shouldn’t have – I wasn’t the main problem. Most games, we were getting crushed. Ana in full Prideful gear wasn’t going to turn most of those matches into wins, believe me.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few pieces of Grievous, and the weapon will be next (and a huge upgrade). Things are getting better: I’m getting the hang of the spec, which is my #1(a) goal, with #1 being to have fun doing something that is both old and new.
Aside from that, I’m casually grinding Valor on my warrior, druid, DK, and paladin. My mage has had horrible luck getting a weapon to replace his T14 Sha-Touched sword, so I’ve basically given up on that (and on grinding other gear and Valor) with him. When he finally gets to Draenor, he’s going to destroy mobs anyway, so I’m not terribly worried about it. Frickin’ guy has a 544 ilvl, so I think he’s going to be just fine, even in spite of his 491 weapon…
I’ve also been hitting up some old raids on Mushan. A couple of friends and I went into Ulduar last weekend and wiped the floor with 25-player mode, which scored me a boatload of achievement points. Before that, we did the same in ICC-25. I also finally completed my Valorous Cryptstalker set on my hunter (at least to a point where I could use the gear), which I may talk about in the near future.
* * *
Without making this a book, these are just some miscellaneous bits from the world of Mushan.
More, soon. :)
* * *
This past weekend, we were treated to some new models – including several beasts, ancients, pets, mounts, and some faction leaders – from the Warlords of Draenor alpha, courtesy of Datamining. One of these is a new Thrall model.
My first impression was that, in general, I liked him. Upon reflection, however, there are definitely aspects of this new model that irritate me, and cause me to have questions that will probably never be answered to my satisfaction.
Much has been made (correctly) of the male-centric-ness of this brutish new expansion that we’re awaiting. The announcement page at Battle.net has a header with seven male orc legends on it, and further down there is a “meet the big bad (or good) dudes” section, which features ten males: the seven orcs, plus Prophet Velen, Vindicator Maraad, and Khadgar. It’s like the ‘The Stone Age meets the Steroid Era in pro baseball’ expansion, with a couple of good guys thrown in. Oh, and there’s ONE (1) female Draenei paladin Champion that we don’t know much of anything about. Things are very male and barbaric and stuff, at any rate. Hopefully that imbalance will be alleviated somewhat once we get involved, but I’m not holding my breath.
Anyway, with that in mind, here’s a picture of Thrall’s new model (via MMO-Champion):
For comparison purposes, here’s a model from April 2011, from Blizzard’s 4.2 ‘Elemental Bonds’ preview:
This second model is the one we saw for a good portion of Cataclysm’s life cycle. He appears in basically this form in the Elemental Bonds questline, the Hour of Twilight dungeon, Dragon Soul, his wedding to Aggra, and at the Maelstrom, striving to hold the world together.
Finally, for the sake of further comparison, here is a picture of (the old) Thrall at the Argent Tournament (screenshot taken by Jocelyn at DK Diaries):
In between this time and the second shot above, Thrall went to Outland and met Aggra and began his growth/ascent into less-Warchief/more-uberShaman-ness, and ended up holding the world together at the Maelstrom while we found the pieces to the pillar in Deepholm, and so on. He emerged at the beginning of Cataclysm in his new shaman garb, with upright posture and some long braids. This is the Thrall the vast majority of us have known since he ceded his position to Garrosh and went on to address the bigger, more urgent problems that Deathwing caused.
At the time, the old model was fairly impressive, although artist renderings were more impressive than his in-game model, which was a very common Orc model with unique Thrall trappings. The Thrall of the past two expansions has been more reflective of his new position in society – a hero to all in the world (rather than just Orcs/Horde) regardless of faction, a shaman of great power, the substitute Earth Warder – as well as his visibility and importance in the game.
As for this new Thrall, I can only speculate.
I can tell you one thing: I miss the long hair/braids. This new shaved-head-with-top-knot look does nothing for me. In fact, if we look at the WoD Orc faction leaders that I mentioned in the beginning, three of the seven – Kilrogg Deadeye, Ner’zhul, and Grommash Hellscream – also have top knots. This leaves me to wonder if there is some explanation for this.
Does Thrall travel to the old Draenor and decide that he wants to look more brutal? He seems to have dropped some, but not all, of his shaman garb and slapped on some, but not all, of his plate armor. Perhaps he anticipates more hand-to-hand combat, and wants to be prepared… or, perhaps he thinks he looks more intimidating this way, with plate armor, a weirdly-hemmed cloak, and his top knot.
Honestly, if that’s the case, I would have left the hair the way it was before WoD, ditched the cloak, and definitely equipped the ol’ black pauldrons, because that would have looked way more badass than this does. But if he (or someone advising him) thinks this is both more impressive-looking and more statesmanlike, then so be it. I don’t personally know any old-world Orc leaders, so I’m not sure what impresses/intimidates them.
* * *
@gloriaboboria wrote a post this weekend called Thrall – What Happened, Man? over at Corgi Island, lamenting Thrall’s descent into Human-ness. In it, she describes Thrall’s new WoD alpha model, and compares it, side-by-side, with the new Orc model and the regular human male model. (Her post is a great read, by the way – check it out!)
And she has this to say about it (with visual comparison below):
“The model is of a vaguely orc-like looking guy in a trenchcoat…robe…thing. The outfit is interesting, but now Thrall stands completely erect. Shoulders back, neck held high. The main thing that marks Thrall as an orc at this point is his green skin. He actually looks more like a human than an orc. If you don’t believe me, here’s a side-by-side image comparison of the new male orc model, Thrall’s new model, and Gilbert the improverished (. . .) human warrior.”
The picture illustrates how well Thrall stands apart from other Orcs, while looking more like a human (in the general male, He-Man-ish way that males tend to look in WoW anyway).
However, while @Gloriaboboria and others express dismay at the new model and its Human-ness – and while I see her/their point – I would argue two Things:
1a) The new model is structurally almost identical to the old model – the one we’ve seen for the past three years. His straight back, high neck, slender-er torso, etc., are evident all over Cataclysm in the places I mentioned in the beginning of this post, and in the picture from April 2011. It can also be seen in this rather recent video (WARNING: Siege of Orgrimmar spoilers…):
1b) As such, his “Human-ness” looks exaggerated in the new model because the old “new” model was already so human. Rather than having the Roid-lats and hulking shoulders that the common Orc model has, Thrall circa Cata and MoP has a very Human body as well. Add all that thick plate armor – sans shoulder plates – and that hulking appearance is lessened even more. Take a look at (Human) King Varian Wrynn, another faction leader and warrior (via WoWWiki):
This isn’t the best pic for this illustration, but I’m currently on break from paying for WoW, so I grabbed this one for convenience’s sake. It shows something that I’ve noticed about Varian for a while, which is that the combination of his belt and chestplate serve to somewhat smooth out the tapered-torso/huge lats/big shoulders (Varian’s huge shoulder plates notwithstanding) look that many of the male races sport in WoW. His torso also seems to stick out in the front a bit more than I think it should, but I’ve always chalked that up to the cartoony-ness of the game.
In a similar way, on top of Thrall’s established (Cata-forward) model, Blizz took away his hood, gave him a trench-cloak, slapped his plate back on him, and gave him (something of) a midlife-crisis hairstyle. Upon putting that armor on, Thrall’s silhouette evolves even closer to a cylindrical shape, and less orc-like. Here’s that new-model picture again; in particular, you can see what I mean in the image on the left:
(I personally think it makes him look short…)
(I also think his huge boots make him look like the Hero of Oakvale in the first Fable game… but I digress.)
So, I would argue that, other than refined textures and new armor/hair/cloak, Thrall’s basic model is actually the same as it has been for the past three years. Of the in-game models, I personally like the current in-game shaman look best.
* * *
I like Thrall. He’s a fairly polarizing character… and his wedding annoyed me because I was thinking “Why isn’t other, more interesting lore about Thrall in the game instead?” And also because it basically marked the beginning of the end of players interacting with Aggra, who I think could be written as a prominent, enduring, strong female character. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will see that for a while, from what I’m reading…
But despite Thrall’s many critics (and critiques), I still enjoy learning about his life experiences and seeing what he will do next in the game. That holds true for Warlords, in spite of all of the likely social justice-related mis-steps in the expansion that are bound to stick out like awkward boners. I still like Thrall. But I think his WoD alpha model looks a little stupid, and that’s in part* because Blizzard’s artists didn’t flex his figure (OR his armor) to make his wearing of plate look more proportionally appropriate. (To me, humans and Thrall and others sometimes look like they’re wearing huge shields on their bodies instead of custom-fit chest armor.) In this instance, not doing so diminishes the silhouette and the general figure of Thrall as we go forward.
But who knows? Perhaps the design will change between now and Warlords. There’s always a chance…
*And in part because of his hair. Did I mention his hair?? :P
* * *
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
In my “free time” – which, in World of Warcraft, generally constitutes time spent “not advancing” my level 90 characters or professions in some shape or form – lately, I’ve been leveling a new hunter.
Now, there is no need for me to make a new hunter, at least for the sake of hunters per se. I already have three hunters on my realm, and two of them are max level. However, I do love the class, and so when the time came to work on a new project, it was a fairly easy choice for me.
Anyway, I’ve got this new hunter. And this hunter has a purpose. Due to this purpose, it’s extremely likely that he will never reach max level.
* * *
If I think about the history of my experience in WoW, with an eye toward my favorite parts of the leveling experience, something interesting happens.
Some people love(d) Vanilla WoW. And, the truth is, I did too; I didn’t start playing WoW until the month after TBC launched, but I did spend a ton of time leveling through the “Vanilla” parts of the game when I started playing – I didn’t have my first level 70 toon until just over a month before Wrath launched! And while there were frustrating and faulty aspects of that part of the game, I have a lot of good – fuzzy, but good – memories from that time.
However, that part of the game is gone. Forever.
It’s not 100% gone, of course: there are areas of the game that survived the revamp (the “kill 10 Young Stranglethorn Tigers -> Stranglethorn Tigers -> Elder Stranglethorn Tigers”-type questlines come to mind, for one), but they’re relatively few in number. As a whole, the Vanilla WoW experience no longer exists.
As such – and this is the interesting thing that I realized – the earliest “nostalgia-era” content that is still available in anything collectively resembling its original form is The Burning Crusade. And Wrath follows that, of course… and those two zones are the reasons that I made this new hunter.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, as well as some of those from before, you may know that I’m at something of a crisis point as far as the game goes with me. A lot of times, what’s needed in these situations is a break from the everyday endgame experience (or lack thereof), and that’s what I’ve been looking for lately. Looking at the game, I realized recently that I had no characters that could play in Outland at-level – seven 90s, an 85, and two toons at or below 30. One of those lowbies is a hunter, and the other a shaman. I don’t enjoy the shaman as much as I had hoped, and the other hunter is reserved for a different project, should I ever return to it.
Anyway, I decided that, while I’m not a fan of leveling the revamped content on Azeroth, I wanted to take another toon into Outland and Northrend… and I didn’t feel like leveling a second DK (not that that isn’t fun, but my DK is the last toon I leveled, so I’d like to give DKs a bit of a rest for the moment). So, hunter it was.
But, why Outland?
When I look back at the past few years and think about the toons I’ve brought to max level, starting with Mushan and including a (now deleted) mage, warrior, replacement mage, second hunter, and DK, I realized that my favorite zones to revisit during the leveling process are Outland and Northrend. They were the continents/expansions that I played before I raided, which means “back when I sucked.” Back when I had no idea what was going on, or how to play. Back when the world was a complete wonder to me. When things were scary and new.
For some reason, nostalgia brings me back to those zones, to those expansions’ content. To a simpler time. That’s the number one reason. The revamped Vanilla content was okay for the first play-through, but there are certain aspects to the leveling process that make the experience uninteresting to me, including the lack of virtually any challenges along the way and the updating of the content to the current-as-of-Cataclysm time period.
* * *
I’ve set some parameters to encourage discovery, exploration, and learning… and also to ensure that I do not simply blow through to the higher levels like I usually do.
No heirlooms past level 58. I did use several heirlooms through level 57, because the goal here was absolutely to zip through large chunks of the pre-58 content at a time. Once I hit 58, I did away with them, replacing them with quest greens I had saved for exactly that purpose. I even equipped a level 15 (ilvl 22) cloak as I prepared for Outland, because that was the last one I had saved. Not that that mattered – everything has been nerfed, so the simple fact that I had something appropriate equipped in every slot ensured that questing would still be very easy.
I’m also not in a guild, for guild perk reasons (including the bonus XP perk).
Based on past (post-4.0) experience, a player can hit Hellfire, Terrokar, Nagrand, and SMV or Netherstorm, run a couple of dungeons along the way, and easily be 68 (and ready for Northrend) before completing any zones, and skipping the vast majority of the Outland content. My aim with this toon is to spend time in Outland, so skipping content is anathema in that scenario. Therefore, I went to Wowhead and looked up the required levels for quests in each zone. For instance, virtually all of the quests in Hellfire are available by the time players hit 61; thus, when I hit 61, I lock my XP. This means that, once I finish the zone, I can unlock my XP, move on to Zangarmarsh, and continue gaining XP until I get to 62 (when all quests in Zangar become available). Then, when I finish Zangar, I can start Terrokar with unlocked XP and re-lock it again at 64 for Nagrand. This preserves some semblance of “I’m playing at-level,” which is another goal that I have. I could do each zone and run each dungeon without locking XP, but I would quickly outgrow each zone well before I finish it if I did it that way. I’m likely going to spend more time in Outland with my XP locked than unlocked, but that’s ok.
By the way, I discovered the other day that locking XP also interrupts the accrual of “rest,” which, for these purposes, does not disappoint me. Knowing that I won’t be out-leveling a zone quite so fast makes for more fluid progression within the zone than 30 bars of rest would – to a point, of course.
Ground mounts only. Some people may think this is crazy, but I’m determined to play it very much like I did when I first took Anacrusa through it in 2007-08. And I couldn’t fly back then. Taxis (flight paths) are allowed, of course.
Additionally, while I do have a vendor mount, I will not use it with this toon.
There are quests in zones, once you get to a certain point/level, that send you to a dungeon that corresponds with the story; in Hellfire, it’s Hellfire Ramparts. In the interest of playing through the story, I will run the dungeons. However, I will only do this while XP-locked.
It’s fairly clear, at this point, that managing the throttling of XP-gain is a large part of this endeavor. Part of this is an experiment to see how it affects immersion; I’m of the opinion that while going back several times to Stormwind to (un)lock XP is a slight annoyance, it’s no more immersion-breaking than any other non-core activity in the game, such as doing my farms every day on max-level toons, or raiding the same instance every week.
* * *
It’s an imperfect science, obviously: there are several aspects of the game that are impossible to recreate. LFD didn’t exist back then, there were group quest elites, stats and specs and talents have been revamped, glyphs have been added, and things have been heavily nerfed. There’s no way to go back 100%, but that’s something I was fully aware of as I began the project.
The goal is to immerse myself in Outland. Revisit and enjoy the lore, and experience it as authentically as possible from a playstyle perspective. Revisit some memories of formative times in my WoW-childhood. There really isn’t a way to completely and accurately replicate that experience any more, but I can do things to mitigate the hyper-leveling paradigm that plagues** old content.
** “Plague” indicating a certain perspective; I know that there are many who are absolutely done with Outland in every way, but I also know that there are a lot of people who love TBC and love spending time there. So for my purposes, leveling quickly is the opposite of what I’m interested in. However, for others, it’s a necessity.
At any rate, along the way, I am taking a lot of screenshots, reading quest text, and completing each zone the best I can.
By the way, I’m leveling as Marksman on this hunter, which is what I leveled Mushan and Ghilleadh with back in the day. I don’t play Marks anymore on those toons, but it is absolutely killer for leveling. I approach the mob. I plant, and (unglyphed) Aim, and Shoot. 95% of the time, the mob either dies from a single shot or is critically injured (and is subsequently finished off with a Kill Shot). For elites or higher-level-than-me mobs, I do the “Aimed/Chimera” combo, and if it doesn’t kill them, it usually does serious damage. Even without heirlooms, the damage is punishing if it crits, and with Careful Aim, that happens quite often…
Playing this way makes me feel more like a ranger than just about anything else in the game. And that’s a fun aspect of this project, too.
* * *
As I mentioned above (and in a previous post), there’s no way to 100% accurately replicate the experience of playing WoW or a new expansion for the first time – once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. However, there are ways to revisit it. I’m a leave-my-poor-arms-at-the-emergency-room-afterward raider, but I also love leveling, and I love some of the old parts of the game. It’s fun and relaxing to lose myself in my new character, imagining him seeing this content for the first time and experiencing that wonder and awe with him. I’ve seen it before, but I also like seeing it again. And perhaps I’ll learn something new along the way.
Of course, this dovetails somewhat nicely with the idea that it’s nice to see Outland as it was a couple of years ago on the eve of Warlords of Draenor, since a great deal of that lore (along with that of the relevant books) will be somewhat pertinent to that expansion as well…
* * *
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
On Monday, I got my first ever hit via Reddit.
That’s what I said to myself when I saw that. As far as I know, I have never been linked on Reddit before. Since I was curious, I followed the link back, and it was to a thread by someone who is new to the game and chose to roll a hunter.
The link to Mushan, Etc. was put there by my friend Cheap Boss Attack, who referred to my blog as “a nice hunter blog.” To which I say, thanks! and /salute! @ Cheap Boss Attack. :)
But at the same time, I was troubled, for two reasons…
1) While this may be a decent blog – and perhaps even fun to read from time to time – I don’t know that I have much specifically helpful hunter content to offer a new hunter here; and
2) There is no longer quite as long of a list of places to send a new player/hunter for advice.
Nonetheless, in case other brand new players come to my blog looking for guides or whatever, there are a few places that I can, in turn, recommend.
Resources for new hunters/players (Not a complete list by any stretch!)
WoW Insider is a wonderful site. It’s extremely active, with many new posts a day concerning most aspects of the game. There are weekly class columns for most of the classes, including hunters. WoW Insider is also a great source for up-to-date news, lore, commentary on the design of the game, daily Breakfast Topics to promote reader discussion, raiding and PvP columns, a weekly podcast, and much more. It’s a site with something (or many things!) for virtually everyone, and has a very large base of active commenters. Additionally, there is information in the form of new-player “getting started” guides there for new players (of any stripe), which can be very helpful for someone just beginning to explore this huge game.
Scattered Shots – specifically – is the hunter class column. It has been written by different people over the years, and went through a long hiatus during the spring and summer between columnists. However, it is currently active and is being written by Adam Koebel, who seems to be doing a great job. The previous columnist, Brian Wood, wrote Scattered Shots for several years until this spring, and although the game tends to change from patch to patch and expansion to expansion, the pre-Adam posts are definitely worth the read if you’re looking to get a feel for the history and culture of the class and the hunter community.
If you’re looking for a site that is chock full of information on gear/items, quests, NPCs, professions, loot tables, and more information than I am willing to categorize in this post, WoWhead is your place. It’s a massive database/news site/blog that has a just a ton of info on just about anything you could need to find. Definitely a place to bookmark and visit often.
For good basic guides on how to raid with your class once you hit the max level – as well as dungeon/raid boss guides, news, forums, reputation guides, lengthy quest lines, etc., Icy-Veins is a great resource for any class.
Darkbrew (The Brew Hall) not only blogs about hunters, but he’s a co-founder of the Hunting Party Podcast, which is the podcast for World of Warcraft Hunters. He posts each episode on his site, and you can also find podcast information at OutDPS!, which Darkbrew recently took over when the podcast’s co-founder, Euripides (founder of OutDPS!), retired. The Hunting Party Podcast is both entertaining and informative, and listening to back episodes can provide a further look into the history of the hunter community, and of the game itself.
For all the latest news, datamining, first looks at new gear/quests/mounts and pets/blue posts and changes, etc, MMO-Champion is a great site. Not only do they have frequent posts (and updates to those posts) with info on the game as it changes, but there are also forums with helpful guides to many aspects of the game. Additionally, in the past couple of years they’ve put together a great site in WoWdb, which is, among other things, a comprehensive item database with some excellent search-filtering features. Another great resource.
Have a question about hunter pets? Wondering what special abilities certain pets have, which pets are best in certain situations, or which pets bring which buffs to your group? Want to know which food you can give your pet without him spitting it back at you? Petopia is your one-stop shop for pet info!
Fishing can be both an enjoyable and profitable activity. If it interests you, or if you need to find certain fish, or have any other questions about anything fishing-related in WoW, El’s Anglin’ is the top resource. He cover’s fishing, cooking, achievements, and related topics on his site.
WoWpedia is the wiki source I use whenever there’s something I want to know about the game that I feel they might cover better than most. There’s information on almost everything – I tend to use it most for lore and history, but over the years I’ve gone there for information on just about anything you can think of.
Looking to optimize your gear and character for end-game raiding, dungeons, or PvP? Mr. Robot can help you gem, enchant, and reforge your gear, as well as find upgrades, and also has an in-game addon for all of that. There’s a lot to explore on Ask Mr. Robot – I use it all the time. Check it out!
As I noted above, this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of resources. There are also some important links to resources that I didn’t include on this list at the right side of my blog, so feel free to check them out. Additionally, check out resources you can find on other peoples’ blogrolls, and links to great sources of info in articles on the sites I mentioned. There’s a lot of info – and fun stuff to read – out there, and I don’t even know about all of it!
World of Warcraft is a big game – and by that, I’m not referring to how many copies it sells or subscribers it has. What I do mean is this: we’re four full expansions past the game’s release, and looking at possibly a fifth during the next year, which is also the 10th anniversary of the game’s release. That’s a lot of lore and history and community and commentary to discover: you could theoretically lose yourself for hours on some of the sites I mentioned above, and for days on others!
I hope that someone finds this post helpful. I’m not a guide-writer or a theory-crafter, and I’m not even a nine-year “been here since WoW-beta” veteran. But I’ve been around a while, and have found all of these tools useful. Hopefully, sharing them with you can open your eyes to new things as well.
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!
I’m just sort of winging it here…
The past couple of days, I’ve been thinking a bit about the next expansion and how I want to approach the opening week(s) of play.
With the past two expansion releases, I made increasingly concerted efforts to get to 90 quickly. In Cataclysm, my druid went first, leveling as a tank, and my hunter came second, leveling as… well, as a killing machine!
(/queue a Joe Swanson “YEEAAAHHHH!!! LOCK N LOOOAAD!!!”).
The druid took longer, obviously – I finished on Friday after playing almost non-stop other than sleep and meals since the Tuesday morning of that launch. The hunter wasn’t speed-leveled, but it took less play-time regardless. In MoP, I reversed course, leveling my hunter in about 30 hours and finishing on the Thursday, after starting at about 6pm on the Tuesday of that launch. The druid and warrior soon followed, but the speed-leveling was done at that point.
The reason I leveled the druid so fast in Cataclysm was because I wanted to devour the content. In retrospect, I should have done that on the hunter, but I wasn’t thinking about it that way at that point. In MoP, however, the reason that I speed-leveled the hunter was because I wanted to be ready for raiding as soon as it was available. I was chomping at the bit to start raiding, without a doubt.
So, how did that go?
Well, it had its positives and negatives.
I had fun leveling on Mushan, because it’s the toon I would have the most fun doing most things with anyway, but I also blew through content that I could have enjoyed more, particularly given the speed at which we actually started raiding. (For those not in the know, it took us more than six weeks to get into Mogu’shan Vaults.)
In light of those general facts, I’m contemplating different leveling strategies for BC2*. More on those later in the post.
In addition to the 90-95 or 90-100 grind that is forthcoming, I’ve also been thinking about the leveling game as a whole recently.
Right now, I have seven 90s. Of those, one raids, two can do LFR whenever I want, and the others are currently in various states of “profession mule”/”play when I feel like”-ness. In addition to these, I have my 85 scribe druid – and I am loathe to level her right now (although I probably will sometime before the next xpac, because I do like having a scribe) – and low-level (25-30) hunter and shaman.
I usually enjoy leveling, and had some good fun leveling my death knight during this expansion. But I can’t get into leveling either of my lowbie toons right now.
This is a somewhat sad thing for me, because I remember a time just five years ago when the game seemed much bigger. There was so much that I didn’t know about it: I was leveling my druid, and having so much fun. The quests were awesome (if painful at times), there was no way to fly around and air-drop into quest spots, there were a ton of materials and items that I had to figure out what to do with. As this was my first MMO, and one of my first RPGs, there was a lot to learn about crafting and questing and the like. I made my way through this completely huge world in constant awe of everything before my eyes, which is something that I miss – indeed, it’s even something that’s easy to forget when you become a jaded veteran, which is what I sort of consider myself.
These were the days before I was a raider. The days when I was scared shitless just thinking about PvP. When I got stuck on some quests in Dragonblight and got so frustrated with questing that I grinded Crystalized Water at The Mirror of Dawn (to sell on the AH) for two-thirds of a level so that I could just skip to Grizzly Hills… which took me for-EVER…
Yes, you read that right.
There is something terrifying and wondrous about being a complete noob and learning new things through the sheer experience of encountering them in the game. It causes you to work through problems in your own way, even if your solution seems completely asinine to others or upon reflection – like what I did back then in Dragonblight. It causes you to tread with care, to learn by trial and error what you can handle and what you can’t. It causes you to make mistakes – like using a rare crafting mat to make something that maybe you don’t need, or wearing something from the wrong armor class because you thought it might help, or spending your gold on something dumb and then not having enough to buy your first mount – and to learn to both live with the consequences of that choice and to get by in spite of it. This all comes in addition to the constant joy of new discovery through exploration and interaction.
In some ways, those experiences are both irreplaceable and unrepeatable. You can look back nostalgically, and revisit, and even still learn new things, but the first wave of eye-opening is a powerful thing.
There’s one time you can do this again (without rolling a toon on the opposite faction, which is still an incompletely new experience), and it comes every couple of years or so: when a new expansion drops. And even then, it can’t be a completely new experience, because there are elements of the game that are the same as they’ve been since the beginning, and you’ve already experienced them to some degree or another.
Regarding what I said toward the top of the post, I’m thinking about these things as I imagine Week 1 of BC2*.
*BC2, for those who haven’t read me lately, is my attempt at a semi-humorous working title/reference for the next expansion, which may, or may not, be about the Burning Legion. Your mileage may vary… and we’ll find out in about a month what’s really going to happen!
There’s not much that we know about it at this point. There’s speculation, based on the tooltip for the heirloom weapons in Siege of Orgrimmar, that the next expansion will feature a level cap of 100. Presumably, this will mean that individual levels will be achievable more quickly, since the last thing many people want is an even more brutal leveling experience..
Beyond that – and that there will be many changes to how we play the game – not much has been confirmed. But it’s pretty much certain that there will be new zones to explore, new characters to meet, and so on.
My current m.o. is that I prepare and conquer, but I’m not so sure that that’s the way to go in “6.0.Whatever.” Based on my experience at the beginning of MoP, there probably wasn’t much value for me in getting to level 90, and getting geared to the teeth, as fast as possible. I sat and waited – impatiently, I’ll admit – for six weeks before we started raiding. And it took a long time for the raid team to come together even after that.
Oh, there was definitely value in being as geared as possible when we made our first foray into raiding. That extra preparedness on my part certainly didn’t hurt our efforts to kill the first boss or two in MsV. Being 90 in less than a week meant reaching the Valor cap the first week, being able to do LFR on schedule, getting the long rep grinds underway, getting the legendary grind started, and so on. But was it more fun than the alternative?
At the time, I spent a sizable portion of my time stewing over the fact that people weren’t leveling as fast as I thought they should. Several people had talked enthusiastically about raiding, but then disappeared, or whatever, and while there were several of us that were getting there, ready to go, there were others that took longer than I liked or even fell off the map. And the key here – given that switching guilds isn’t really an option that I’m interested in, since I’m playing with my friends (Period.) – is that I spent time resenting people when I could have been enjoying myself and my game-time more.
So the value was there, but I think I went about it the wrong way. Perhaps the uber-intense Mushan isn’t the best Mushan for Mushan’s guild.
We’re a casual guild – like, hard core. And I think that I’d like to embrace the opportunity that that can afford by enjoying my leveling time and experience in the next expansion. I’d like to complete more zones, get into the story a little more, and not worry about being the first to everything, the most heavily armored, one of the best-geared peeps on the server right away; that sort of thing.
I think that taking a different approach to this next expansion can help heal some of the malaise that I’m feeling about the leveling game right now. If I’m going to raid with good players / friends in a casual guild – in due time – perhaps I would have more fun if I allowed myself to enjoy the process of getting to that point.
I know this is all sort of general and abstract, but hopefully it makes sense.
This morning, I talked with a Pandaren NPC. Of course, at the end of the encounter, he left me with “Slow down. Life is to be savored!” I thought to myself that, given what I am contemplating for the next xpac, there’s a certain irony that I’m thinking of “slowing down and savoring” my experience a bit more, but an expansion late.
Ah well, better late than…
P.S. I’m going to suggest that the new expansion could be called “World of Warcraft: 100″… not that it should be, of course! But “100” and level 100 both go with the 10th anniversary kind of well, do they not? :)
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan by Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
The Vale of Eternal Blossoms represents different things to different people.
In fact, it represents different things to the same people, too.
At level 87, leveling players do a short questline at the Temple of the White Tiger which leads to their participation in the opening of the Vale by Xuen and the other celestials. Once this veritable paradise is opened, visitors, heroes, and refugees alike are treated to wonders both natural and constructed: majestic waterfalls and sparkling water, brilliant autumnal colors, colossal statues, magnificent buildings, and a beautiful soundtrack. The opening of the Vale represents opportunity, hope for a new and better existence, for all who enter (including players).
To many players, the Vale also represents the brutal Golden Lotus reputation grind. Players spent weeks, doing more than a dozen quests per day for a pittance of reputation per quest. (I know that it was mid-November before I myself reached Exalted.) The Golden Lotus became the poster boy for the complaints about dailies leading to burnout due to the gating of gear behind reputation requirements. I remember finishing my Golden Lotus grind, getting my necklace, and swearing off that faction for a while. And mine was one of the kinder reactions: many players finished and never looked back.
This is unfortunate, because Blizzard’s basic design for the Vale as a questing and dailies zone was extremely well-crafted. We got to know the Golden Lotus pretty well, and their story was vital to the telling of the story of Pandaria itself. It’s a place and faction rich in lore, and tied in with raids in both tiers so far (and will, of course, with the 5.4 raid as well). Blizzard crafted more than 80 quests that made it into the game in the form of dailies, which is really just phenomenal, and the Golden Lotus questline as a whole was very interesting if one both a) cares and b) can look beyond the brain-numbness that the daily grind brought to so many of us.
In truth, while the rep gear gating and the resultant grind were a bit of an overreach, it was an honest attempt on the part of Blizzard to ensure that players had plenty to do when the leveling process was over. And the result was a fantastic zone and faction that were, unfortunately, tarnished by the amount of repetitive slog that players felt forced to put into them for the sake of gear.
The Vale and the Golden Lotus at the end of 5.3
As our time with Mists of Pandaria pre-5.4 drew to a close, I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to take a bunch of screenshots for posterity and memory, since we know that Garrosh is going to do something today…
(We players are a prescient and privileged bunch, aren’t we!)
…and then on Sunday, Matthew Rossi of WoW Insider tweeted this:
…and I thought that was an excellent idea. So I, Mushan, went back out into the Vale and dutifully did every Golden Lotus daily available that day. It was fun and fairly easy, and as I quested, I visited with old friends in the GL, thought about how I felt about the places I visited, and recalled some of my memories of times of yore (such as when killing Thundermaws was a perilous undertaking early on…).
That was a great experience, and I’m completely glad that I did it. But in doing so, I almost forgot to take screenshots.
I would have regretted that error, so on Monday night, I decided to buckle down and take some screenshots, which was an adventure of its own. I took 58 pictures, and then I remembered that, while I have a decent computer, I typically run with custom settings for better performance during raids, since I’m not running a top-of-the-line rig. So I stuck all of those shots in a folder, moved my settings to high/ultra, and took another trip around the Vale to the tune of 64 more screenshots. They turned out beautifully, and I’d like to share a couple dozen of them with you.
Without further ado, here we go. (Click pictures to enlarge.)
The Summer Fields/Mogu’shan Palace
The Golden Pogoda/The Emperor’s Approach
Mistfall Village/Whitepetal Lake
Ruins of Gou-Lai/Setting Sun Garrison
Thankfully, from what I understand, Setting Sun Garrison will be untouched by the coming destruction. Because, you know, they don’t drink water there, and stuff.
And finally, a bonus…
When the coming destruction was first announced, I watched the video and looked at the pictures, but that was months ago. I know what some of it looks like, but I will be seeing it again with new eyes when I log in later today. I’m looking forward to it… but I’m not looking forward to the awfulness, if you know what I mean.
The changes to the the Vale are devastating and probably irrevocable. They are also not phased, so every player will see the same thing, even those opening the Vale for the first time post-5.4. The Vale may heal at some point, but it will never be quite the same. I wanted to document how the Vale used to be for posterity, so that I can tell the young night elves about it when I am an old one.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and my amateur photography. This is a sad day, but we press on. Garrosh will fall!
Saya from Heals n Heels posted a haiku yesterday that is fitting for how many of us feel about what has happened and what is to come. Check it out here.
Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!
As 5.4 – reportedly the final raid patch of Mists of Pandaria – draws near, along with Blizzcon 2013, speculation is ramping up as to the exact setting and nature of the next WoW expansion. We’ve seen announcements and hoaxes and so on… I won’t go into those here.
However, I do wonder about how the story in the next expansion will affect our gaming experience, with respect to the intensity of conflict between the Horde and Alliance. As I see it, there are several possible factors that will determine this – beyond, of course, how much priority the game’s creators give to the conflict itself.
Here of a few of them, and, while they’re all related of course, to my way of thinking, these fit into two subsets of the equation.
A) The Antagonist and The Setting
1. Who is the big baddie, and what is the nature of the threat that he or she presents to the entirety of Azeroth?
2. Where will this entity come from / where will we be questing and fighting it?
Let’s expand a bit upon these questions.
1. Who is the big baddie?
I don’t know about you all, but to me, Garrosh Hellscream, the Thunder King, and the Shas don’t seem… quite as much the dire threats that recent end-bosses have been.
We’re coming off the threat, and subsequent destruction, of Deathwing. As in Deathwing the Destroyer. Consider that during the Madness of Deathwing fight, Deathwing periodically attempts to invoke a second cataclysm. The spell tooltip states that he is “trying to finish the job he started” – during the boss fight! It doesn’t get more dire than that, in my opinion.
Previous to this, we fought through a fairly long mess of Arthas’ minions en route to the Frozen Throne, where we fought the Lich King himself. Arthas, who murdered his own father and destroyed his kingdom and birthright, along with the lives of untold numbers from virtually every race and civilization on the known planet. Who made his presence felt all over Azeroth – even before players stepped onto one of the boats to Northrend – and constantly threatened and taunted us thereafter, until we came face to face with him.
While we did fight the Lich King in the coldness of his throne room, as opposed “out in the world” with Deathwing, it was still the climax of a story that went carried us throughout the expansion. One of the overarching themes of Wrath was that fighting the Lich King was a do-or-die task: if we did not defeat him once and for ever, he would eventually overwhelm the entirety of Azeroth with his might and that of his ever-growing Scourge army, and we would join him in our own unwilling undeath. And Icecrown, with its constant threats, the undead and insectoid trash, the ever-presence of his voice, all had a creepy effect on the raid instance, giving it a vast yet claustrophobic feel that enhanced one’s dread. The Lich King was an amazing antagonist for an expansion.
In contrast, the mogu and the sha – while obviously fascinating from the Titan connection and the burying of emotions manifested in as corporeal malevolent power – seem to really only be an imminent threat to the serenity and normalcy of Pandaria and those who live or go there. Sure, we’ll be descending on Orgrimmar shortly, and Garrosh is intent on using heretofore unseen power to expand the strength of his New Horde, but it still seems to me to be isolated in a way that we didn’t see in the past two expansions or so. Ok, so it’s Pandaria and Orgrimmar. And Theramore, before the expansion came out. Certainly not insignificant, but we’re already looking beyond this raid, and it’s not even out yet. And we’ve been looking for a while now.
In summary: while the Lich King and Deathwing were omnipresent threats to the whole of the peoples of Azeroth for the entirety of their respective expansions, Garrosh still seems like something of a noob, comparatively. And while his transformation has been swift and terrible, as apparently are his dreams of destruction, the situation seems less like a world-wide threat like those others, or like the Burning Legion.
2. Where does this entity come from, and where will we be playing?
This is a huge unknown. While the speculation recently has been about Azshara and N’zoth, and about the return of the Burning Legion, we really don’t know who and where we’ll be fighting. Will it be Azeroth, phased? Will it be a new place, like an underground/underwater expansion (please, dear Lord, no…)? Will it be a phased Azeroth and a phased Outland? Will there be some other dimension that we go to, or some island off the coast of whatever that has only ever previously been hinted at?
In BC, Wrath, and Cata, we had a host of neutral factions that chose to put themselves apart from / above the Alliance and Horde for the good of the world. In MoP, we have several as well, but we seem to have more Alliance or Horde factions than we’ve seen recently. The Kirin Tor Offensive vs. the ousted Sunreavers. Dominance Offensive vs. Operation: Shieldwall. Jinyu vs. Hozen. Tushui Pandaren vs Huojin Pandaren. And while we’ve had conflicting Horde-based and Alliance-based factions before, it has long seemed that we were generally fighting for a common cause, regardless of affiliation: the Argent Crusade/Ebon Blade/Ashen Verdict. The Avengers of Hyjal, and so on.
Based on Wrathion’s forboding conversations during parts of the Legendary questline, it’s easy to presume that there is an imminent, dire threat to the world. When he beheld an image of the world, and spoke of an unimaginable power threatening Azeroth, it was easy to let our thoughts go to their speculative space. “Hmm, does he mean Sargeras? Old gods? Bolvar Fordragon going insane? Azshara? Something we’ve never heard of before?” Etc.
While we don’t know what we will face, if Wrathion is right and, in the next expansion, that unknown power surfaces and threatens the fabric of the Azerothian universe, the Horde and Alliance will likely have to put aside their differences again.
B) The Warchief, the Horde, the Alliance, and the world
3. Who replaces Garrosh?
Names have been thrown about. Some are reasonable, others seem less so. The popular ones include Vol’jin, Sylvanas, Lor’themar Theron, Baine Bloodhoof, and Varok Saurfang. The most divisive idea – even more so than Sylvanas – seems to be that Thrall could reassume his position.
There seem to be some generally accepted thoughts on the levels of Alliance-Horde conflict that could result from the choosing of some of these people. Baine, Vol’jin, Thrall, Lor’themar, and Varok seem to be somewhat less hostile and more reasonable. Sylvanas has been one of the more aggressively anti-Alliance leaders of late (see: the northern part of Eastern Kingdoms, post-Shattering), and would likely be the leader that the Alliance would have the most objection to. Which leads to the next part of this subset…
4. How does his replacement come into power? Who has influence over that decision?
One of the biggest questions, post-Garrosh, is how much influence certain entities will have over the selection of the next warchief.
Assuming that Thrall isn’t reinstated, will he have a say? And will his be a “final say,” giving credence to the idea that he ultimately has the most universal respect among Horde-related leaders (and the Alliance, for that matter)?
And, for that matter, how will the Alliance be involved in all of this? Are they going to march on Orgrimmar – the combined might of all of the factions along with the Darkspear Rebellion – unseat Garrosh, and then say, “Well, good work, all. Grats on loots, see you next time” and head back to their respective homelands? Or will they insist upon sitting at council with the remaining leaders of the Horde and the “neutral” parties involved (such as Thrall), in order to monitor, moderate, or otherwise influence the picking of the next warchief, directly or indirectly?
Will they allow the Horde to be as they were – allowing them autonomy, while insisting on some treaties to keep things copacetic – or will there be an Alliance Kor’kron-like presence in Orgrimmar for the foreseeable future?
Or, will Wrathion’s prophecy fall upon us and the world before there is any resolution?
Looking at what has happened doesn’t make predicting the future any easier. The general questions I ask in this post merely splash the waves in the sea of possibilities regarding the next expansion, and I’m not enough of a lore nut to write cogently about anything much deeper than this.
I do think that we’re facing multiple “mind. blown.” scenarios in the next several months. Assuming that Blizzard announces the next expansion sometime within the month-long window leading up to and including Blizzcon, it’s likely that we’ll soon have a grasp of the nature of the next expansion’s lead antagonist, the new “area” – if there is one – and perhaps even some idea of the level of faction antagonism. And if there is indeed a post-Siege patch that wraps up the warchief question and begins to lay out foundations for Expansion #5, we’ll have some closure there, too… maybe.
My gut feeling is that we will face a danger that once again makes the Alliance-Horde squabbles seem trivial, and that, while there will be different flavor to the factions’ leveling experiences, the anti- nature of those differences will be toned down compared to what we’ve seen in Mists of Pandaria.
Of course, I could be completely wrong.
Thanks for reading this incomplete thought by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!