Archive for the “Expansions” Category

There is a moment in the Shadowmoon Valley experience that is one of the most supremely heroic and noble and tragic and triumphant of the game so far. Nothing in all the expansions or the original game can match this for emotional punch or impact. It is truly one of the Big Moments of video gaming. This is a genuine “Aeris moment”. The people at Blizz that are responsible for this should take each other out for copious rounds of hard cider and pizza; they’ve achieved a high point in this franchise. I state this without hesitation.

Those of you that have seen the cinematic sneak peeks, or completed this zone, know of that which I speak.

And yet that there is more to the story of Shadowmoon Valley. You still have work to do, and you’re inspired to do so.  And that, friends, is the point of a good cinematic.  It drags you in and involves you in the story.


There is a scene before this in which you are involved in the final battle to save Karabor. You are participating in a future-vision with alt!Velen, and in the dream you fight beside him and Yrel. Just as things look grimmest, alt!Velen cries out and gives rise to the Holy Light, and the enemy begins to fall back!  And then there is evil laughter, and Ner’zhul, and then … well, I won’t spoil it, but if you were there, you probably whispered … “oh, gods, no.”  It was that bad.

As I and alt!Velen awoke from this nightmarish dream, I felt a resolve … “Hell, no!”  Just that.  The thing that we saw. We’ve seen it before. And regardless of the outcome of the previous event that we have seen before, the cost is just so damned high. Never again.

Never again.


After That Cinematic Moment, the game kicks into high gear.  The moment of supreme sacrifice cannot be dwelled upon. The Iron Horde is storming Karabor!  You know now that the nightmare of alt!Velen’s vision will not come to pass. But will it be enough?

I hope you have the music playing, because they milk it for all it’s worth as you, Yrel, and Maraad take to the skies as air support for your garrison’s denizens as you all, together, storm the city. Your job is to plow the road so the garrison troops can break through to the docks.

Once accomplished, you link up with Yrel after taking out a mini-boss1 and end up once again in the final defense of Karabor.  Will the Aeris moment pay off?

Of course it does, but the final moments of the battle are involving and emotional.  If you can imagine a Dwarf riding a giant rooster, his rampaging polar bear at his side, yelling FOR [REDACTED]!!!! at the top of his wee Dwarven lungs, charging into battle as if he’d forgotten that he never quite mastered the art of shooting and moving at the same time, well, you’ve got a good handle on where I was living for five minutes of my life.

At the end, you’re given a ride back to Embaari, where the music swells, speeches are made, and the natives cheer you and your doughty troops for, well, as long as you stick around, it looks like. The moments of tragedy, tension, and triumph all culminate in this final moment, in which you not only get to bask in the glow of your own sense of achievement, but share it with the people that you were fighting for.  Again, it was quite an emotional moment.


Here now, in the wee hours of the morning, I hurry to push that emotion out onto virtual page before it’s gone. It’s not enough to feel it; I want to share what it’s like, even though I know that this sense is completely derived from pixels and logical constructs living inside a silicon wafer.  And I just don’t care.

A year ago, I was mocking Blizzard for many reasons, and justifiably so.  They appeared to be inept, tone-deaf, and downright hostile to the culture they said they were a part of.  Boy, a year does make one hell of a difference. Blizzcon 2014 saw a complete about-face, right down to the host of the cosplay event. The Overwatch reveal was a huge success2, the outreach felt genuine, and the tone of the game launch, while marred by a DDoS and subsequent messy mop-up3 was aimed squarely at us, the gamers.

I’ll proudly be among the first to step up to the buffet and eat a large plate of crow.  If Shadowmoon is any indication at all, this game has received a much needed injection of “Panda? What’s a fucking panda?”

Story matters. It has to be a good story. It has to be a relevant story. I’m sure some poor fellow worked long and hard on the Pandaria lore, but bottom line is, nobody cared.

Draenor, for all the contrivance involved in its invocation, is nevertheless relevant, in spades.  And the story of Draenor thus far is, by the Light, GOOD. I know the high spots of what’s coming, but this zone.  Guys, this goddamned zone. Tears of anguish. Tears of betrayal.  Tears of hopelessness. Tears of loss. Tears of joy. Tears of triumph.

A very moist zone, this Shadowmoon Valley.

I don’t know if I’m emotionally up to coping with what is yet to come.  And I damned well don’t know if I’m up to bringing three more alts through this zone over the next month or two.  But for some reason, I have the feeling that the giddy feeling that I get coming out of it will make it worth the while.

Game on, nerds.


  1. Honestly, I have no idea how Jas or Illume are going to survive that dude without a tanky pet. []
  2. I’m not into that kind of game, but by the Light it was one hella reveal, even a jaded old husk like me can admit that. []
  3. Which, despite the bleats of the nonbelievers, was done in cracking good time. []

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I missed all the launch day angst this year because I had my own personal launch day angst.  My boot drive died, and I was without PC. 1  So I set forth to reinstall Windows for the third time in as many months2

I handled this a lot better than some did about the inevitable launch week collywobbles3 in that I shrugged my shoulders, and used the down time to catch up on back recordings of @Midnight4.

Last night was Right Out due to OS upgrades, but also the servers still appeared to be having problems. This morning they were free and clear, at least the ones I’m involved with.  Kudos to Blizz for repairing the damage resulting from the DDoS attack  as quickly as they have. That shizzle ain’t easy, yo, and if you ever start to think it’s easy, come talk to me. I’ll dissuade you of that sad delusion.

As opposed to the abortive effort that was Blizzcon 2013, Blizzcon 2014 was an amazing success. That coupled with the +700K sub numbers indicates that the old warlord is far from dead. I can see Metzen up on stage saying BRANG EET, BASTIGES, and imma for once stand with him on this. Blizz seems to have turned something around, and while it’s only supposition, one can’t help but look at a moderately recent departure for clues on the change in tone.

And this launch was, from my perspective, amazing once I got into the game.  Here are my initial impressions.

  • NOW’S OUR CHANCE! STORM THE PORTAL! Well, I gotta say beardless!Khadgar was a bit of a disappointment, but after working with him, I totally didn’t care. Whiskers or not5 he’s a total badass and I am happy to fight at his side.  I would have preferred that the premier mage on Azeroth, Jaina Proudmoore, lead this charge, but at least they wrote this guy well.
  • For the first time in what seems over a year, I swapped out my Spirit Beast, Cheezburger for my default tanky pet, Bumbles.  SRS BSNS, FOSHIZZLE
  • I actually got THANKED by a representative of the Shadow Council on behalf of the Shadow Council.  Flora might have been cool with that, but I just felt a little skeevy.
  • Yrel’s evolution is apparently going to be a lot faster than I expected6. When I first meet her, she “has never killed before.”  Amazing for a race that is undergoing systematic extermination.  Protip, Yrie – get on that shit as soon as possible to avoid extinction.  kay?
  • Start of garrison – hello, Baros!  That’s an unexpected and familiar face from the past!  I love how they’ve managed to merge old-school Azeroth into this expansion.
  • Being called “Commander” really makes me feel a sense of obligation … maybe grimmtooth!Actual’s military experience comes into play here, but the feeling that the whole garrison’s population is looking up to you makes it a LOT more personal than I expected.
  • And speaking of personal, the barracks appears to be inhabited by slobs, and/or college freshmen7.

 

All in all, this has been an excellent start to an expansion that I was – at best – dubious about when it was announced. While it’s not as advertised as the brodawg Orc shit, the Draenai lore is really shaping up nicely. The mechanics of things is working out well. The questing process has been, so far, well done, if unchanged from the MoP questing model.

And the player involvement in Things of Import is really well done. I feel like a player in this. I feel like I am being looked up to, a true “commander” of the Alliance force in old!Draenor. The quest and zone designers have done an amazing job of putting this all together, and I am going to be first in line8 to call them out on (1) a job well done recovering from an unexpected launch event, and (2) a job well done on the design of the expansion.

Ops team, Quest Design team – take a well-deserved break at your earliest convenience.  You’ve earned it.


  1. Word to the wise: just don’t buy OCZ SSD drives.  This is the third hard failure in as many years.  Lonomonkey has already chastised me for this poor purchasing choice on Twitter, so consider your chastisement obligations fullfilled in proxy. I mean it. []
  2. Time the first: moved to Win7-64 to play WildStar. Time the second: upgraded motherboard two weeks ago. Time the third. F!CK F!CK F!CK []
  3. SERIOUSLY – were you asleep the last five expansions or something, people?  You’re amazing. In some non-complimentary form of the word. []
  4. That’s the same guy that did the Blizzcon costume contest, by the way. He’s One Of Us. []
  5. Whiskers have a strong union, expect class action in the near future. []
  6. I’ve seen the end-of-Shadowmoon cinematic, so I know where she stands. []
  7. Same thing []
  8. Or at least as First as I an manage []

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There’s been quite a bit of – well, “whinging” might not be totally inaccurate, but it might be viewed as some as offensive1, so we’ll call it “whinge-like sounding critique” – about the pre-expansion event associated with Wierdos of Draenor2, and that puzzles me. It’s as if they remember other pre-expansion events that I do not. Neither Pre-WotLK nor Pre-Cata were all that big a deal, and were done after a handful of quests, unless you were the kind of jerk that liked to get the zombie curse and grief your own faction3.  I’d even say that the Cata event was much shorter.  And maybe I missed the Panda event, but I really don’t remember one. So whatsamatta for u? 

I just don’t get the haters. Well, I do. Haters gotta hate.  If they got nothing to hate, they make something to hate.  So yeah I get it, but I hatin. 

OH DAMN. NOW I BE A HATR!

(deep breath)

I do have one issue with the event, and it’s with the way that quest events are indicated in the game.  They’ve moved from a “sparkle” highlight or a “gear” highlight to a “faint outline” highlight that I absolutely hate.  Maybe I’ll get used to it, but right now I can see a LOT of trips to WoWHead in my future as I grapple with hidden items in Draenor.

If I had been ambivalent about the Iron Horde before, this would have changed it.

Keri

YOU KILLED KERI!  YOU BASTARDS!

Us Dwarves have a fairly low threshold of outrage when it come to killing off our booze vendors.

Clearly, somebody’s going to have to pay for this.

/cocks rifle

And I’m comin’ for payment, you bastiges4.


  1. Not intended to be offensive, but A==B, B==C therefore A==C kinda thing. Sorry. Your baggage is your own, please claim it at the point of debarkation. []
  2. Or whatever it’s called. []
  3. In which case, go spin on a stick. []
  4. Bastiges. It’s a Wildhammer thing. []

Comments 7 Comments »

Collecting data from many sources, I submit the Big Fat Glyph Table for WoD. I submit without comment, except the following.

  • I celebrate at last the removal of one of the two Stampede glyphs. Such a pain to track two different ones.
  • Let’s discuss this table.
    • Unchanged – The same glyph will exist in WoD. There is no guarantee that it will function precisely the same, but it’s more or less survived intact.
    • Removed – The glyph with this Item ID is being replaced with a thing called Charred Glyph, an item worth exactly 50s in the coming expansion. So sell it for whatever you can get unless all you can get for it is less than 50s.
    • Changed – The glyph you have now will change to something else, but it will still be a glyph that you can sell. Look at the “Comments” column for the name of the glyph it will change to. Not that matters a whole lot pre-patch.
    • New – A new glyph will be introduced with a new Item ID. You are not prepared.
    • Uncertain – I am getting conflicting information.  For example, one source says the glyph is being added, but the datamined data on wod.wowhead.com says it doesn’t exist.  Since this doesn’t affect the pre-patch activities that much, just keep an eye on it.  See the comments column for any relevant info.

The table itself can be filtered, segmented, or sorted at your whimsy.  And that’s pretty much all I have to say.  Enjoy.

UnchangedRemovedChangedNewUncertainComments
Absorb Magic
Afterlife
Aimed Shot
Ambush
Angels
Animal Bond
Anti-magic Shell
Aquatic Form
Arcane Explosion
Arcane Language
Arcane Power
Ardent Defender
Armors
Army of the Dead
Aspect of the Beast
Aspect of the Cheetah
Aspect of the Pack
Aspects
Astral Communion
Astral Recall
Avenging Wrath
Barkskin
Beacon of Light
Binding Heal
Black Ice
Blackout Kick
Blade Flurry
Bladed Judgement
Blessed Life
Blind
Blinding Light
Blink
Blitz
Bloodcurdling Shout
Bloodthirst
Bloody Healing
Blooming
Blurred Speed
Borrowed Time
Breath of Fire
Bull Rush
Burden of Guilt
Burning Anger
Camouflage
Capacitor Totem
Carrion Swarm
Cat Form
Celestial Alignment
Certificate of Ownership
Chain Lightning
Chaining
Chains of Ice
Charm Woodland Creatures
Cheap Shot
Chimera Shot
Circle of Healing
Clash
Cleansing Waters
Cleave
Cloak of Shadows
Colossus Smash
Combustion
Condensation
Cone of Cold
Confession
Conflagrate
Conjure Familiar
Consecration
Contemplation
Corpse Explosion
Counterspell
Crackling Tiger Lightning
Crimson Banish
Crittermorph
Crow Feast
Curse of Exhaustion
Curse of the Elements
CursesIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Cyclone
Dancing Rune Weapon
Dark Archangel
Dark Simulacrum
Dark Soul
Dark Succor
Dash
Dazing Shield
Deadly Momentum
Death and Decay
Death Coil
Death from Above
Death Gate
Death Grip
Death's Embrace
Decoy
Deep Freeze
Deep FrostIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Deep Wells
Delayed Coalescence
Deluge
Demon Hunting
Demon Training
Demonic Circle
Denounce
Detection
Deterrence
Detox
Devotion Aura
Die by the Sword
Direction
Disappearance
Disengage
Disguise
Dispel Magic
Dispersion
Distract
Distracting Shot
Divine Plea
Divine Protection
Divine Shield
Divine Storm
Divine Wrath
Divinity
Double Jeopardy
Dragon's Breath
Drain Life
Efflorescence
Elusiveness
Ember Tap
Empowerment
Enchanted Bark
Endless Wrath
Enduring Deceit
Enduring Healing Sphere
Enduring Infection
Energy
Energy Flows
Enraged Speed
Enslave Demon
Entangling Roots
Ephermal Spirits
Eternal Resolve
Evaporation
Evasion
Evocation
Expel Harm
Explosive Trap
Expose Armor
Eye of Kilrogg
Fade
Fae Silence
Faerie Fire
Falling Meteor
Far Sight
Fear
Fear Ward
Feint
Felguard
Feral Spirit
Ferocious Bite
Festering Blood
Fetch
Fighting Pose
Final Wrath
Fire Elemental Totem
Fire from the Heavens
Fire Nova
Fireworks
Fists of Fury
Flame Shock
Flames of XorothIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Flaming Serpent
Flash of Light
Flawless Defense
Flying Serpent Kick
Focused Mending
Focused Shield
Focused Wrath
Fortifying Brew
Fortuitous Spheres
Foul Menagerie
Free Action
Freedom Roll
Freezing Trap
Frenzied Regeneration
Frost Nova
Frost Shock
Frostfire Bolt
Gag Order
Garrote
Gateway Attunement
Ghost Wolf
Ghostly Speed
Gouge
Grace
Grounding
Grounding Totem
Guard
Guardian Spirit
Guided Stars
Gushing Wound
Hammer of the Righteous
Hamstring
Hand of Freedom
Hand of Gul'dan
Hand of Sacrafice
Harsh Words
Havoc
Headhunting
Healing Storm
Healing Stream Totem
Healing Touch
Healing Wave
Health Funnel
Healthstone
Heavy Repercussions
Hemorraghing Veins
Hemorrhage
Heroic Leap
Hex
Hindering Strikes
Hoarse Voice
Hold the Line
Holy Fire
Holy Nova
Holy Resurrection
Holy Shock
Holy Wrath
Honor
Horn of Winter
Hurricane
Ice Block
Ice Trap
Icebound Fortitude
Icy Runes
Icy Touch
Icy Veins
Illumination
Illusion
Imbued Bark
Immediate Truth
Imp Swarm
Impaling Throws
Improved Distraction
Incite
Inferno Blast
Inner Fire
Inner Sanctum
Innervate
Inquisition
Inspired Hymns
InterruptionIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Intimidating Shout
Jab
Judgement
Keg Smash
Kick
Killing Spree
Lava Lash
Lava Spread
Leap of Faith
Leer of the Ox
Lesser Proportion
Levitate
Liberation
Life Cocoon
Life Pact
Life Tap
Light of Dawn
Lightning Shield
Lightwell
Lingering Ancestors
Long Charge
Loose Mana
Loud Horn
Maim
Mana Gem
Mana Tea
Marking
Mass Dispel
Mass Exorcism
Master Shapeshifter
Master's Call
Maul
Mend Pet
Mending
Metamorphosis
Might of Ursoc
Mighty Victory
Mind Blast
Mind Flay
Mind Freeze
Mind Spike
Miraculous Dispelling
Mirror Image
Mirrored Blades
Misdirection
Mocking Banner
Momentum
Moonwarding
Mortal Strike
Mystic Shout
Nature's Grasp
Necrotic StrikeIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Nightmares
Nimble Brew
No Escape
Omens
One with Nature
Outbreak
Paralysis
Path of Frost
Pathfinding
Penance
Pestilenceto Boil Blood
Pick Lock
Pick Pocket
Pillar of Frost
Pillar of Light
Play Dead
Poisons
Polymorph
Pounceto Rake
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Mending
Protector of the Innocent
Prowl
Psychic Horror
Psychic Scream
Purge
Purify
Quick Revival
Raging Blow
Raging Wind
Rain of Frogs
Raise Ally
Rallying Cry
Rapid Displacement
Rapid Rolling
Rapid Teleportation
Reactive Shielding
Rebirth
Recklessness
Recovery
Recuperate
Redirect
Reflective Shield
Regenerative Ice
Regenerative Magic
Regrowth
Rejuvenation
Remove Curse
Renew
Renewed Tea
Renewing Mists
Resilient Grip
Resonating Power
Restored Faith
Revive Pet
Riptide
Rising Tiger Kick
Rude Interruption
Rune Tap
Runic Power
Safe Fall
Savagery
Scatter Shot
Scourge Imprisonment
Seal of Blood
Shackle Undead
Shadow
Shadow Bolt
Shadow Magic
Shadow Ravens
Shadow Walk
Shadow Word: Death
Shadowflame
Shadowy Friends
Shamanistic Rage
Shamanistic Resolve
Sharp Knives
Shattering Throw
Shield Slam
Shield Wall
Shifted Appearances
Shifting Presences
Shiv
Shocks
Shred
Silence
Siphon Life
Skull Bash
Slow
Smite
Smoke Bomb
Snake Trap
Snake TrapNew rune, old name.
Solace
Soothing Mist
Soul Consumption
Soul Swap
Soulstone
Soulwell
Sparring
Spell Reflection
Spellsteal
Spinning Crane Kick
Spinning Fire Blossom
Spirit of Redemption
Spirit Raptors
Spirit Roll
Spirit Walk
Spirit Wolf
Spiritwalker's Aegis
Spiritwalker's Focus
Spiritwalker's Grace
Splitting Ice
Sprint
StampedeAt last, we only have one glyph by this name to track!
Stampede
Stampeding Roar
Stars
Stealth
Strangulate
Strengthened Resolve
Subtlety
Sudden EclipseIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Surging Mist
Survival Instincts
Sweeping Strikes
Tame Beast
Targeted Expulsionto Detoxing
Telluric Currents
Templar's Verdict
the Alabaster Sheild
the Battle Healer
the Bear Cub
the Blazing Trail
the Chameleon
the Cheetah
the Compy
the Consecrator
the Drawn Sword
The Executor
the Exorcist
the Falling Avenger
the Floating Butterfly
the Flying Serpent
the Geist
the Heavens
the Ice Reaper
the Inquisitor
the Lakestrider
the Lean Pack
the Liberator
the Long Winter
the Luminous Charger
the Monkey
the Mounted King
the Ninth Life
the Orca
the Penguin
the Porcupine
the Predator
the Raging Whirlwind
the Redeemer
the Righteous Retreat
the Sha
the Shapemender
the Spectral Wolf
the Sprouting Mushroom
the Stag
the Subtle Defender
the Treant
the Val'kyr
the Watchful Eye
the Weaponmaster
Thunder
Thunder Strike
Thunderstorm
Totemic Encirclement
Totemic Recall
Totemic Vigor
Touch of Death
Touch of Karma
Tranquil Grip
Tranquilizing Shot
Transcendence
Travel
Tricks of the Trade
Twilight Ward
Unending Breath
Unending Rage
Unending Resolve
Unholy Command
Unholy Frenzy
Unstable Affliction
Unstable Earth
Ursol's DefenseIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Vampiric Blood
Vampiric Embrace
Vanish
Vendetta
Verdant Spheres
Victorious Throw
Victory Roll
Victory Rush
Water Elemental
Water Roll
Water Shield
Weakened Soul
Whirlwindto Wind and Thunder
Wild Growth
Wind Shear
Winged Vengance
Word of Glory
Zen Flight
Zen Focus
Zen Meditation

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If I’m sober enough to type, I’m sober enough to post.

Ennyhoo.

The latest news on bag management – and especially reagent management – in patch 6.0.2 is exciting and very smexxay. Allowing you to use your reagents bank from any location is a game-changer, no doubt about it.  I hope that cooking mats are included, not that that’s a big deal to me these days1.

Without attributing to any specific incident, let me say that the ladies of WoW are an especially awesome group of people.  I might get worn out trying to keep up with some of them2, but the thoughts that they put forth on the topics of gender equality are well worth the time it takes to read and digest. I may not agree 100%3 with all that is stated by them, but overall they fight the good fight and I am totally okay with that. Not that it matters, right ladies?

It occurs to me, though, that there are very few male bloggers whose opinions I cherish. A lot of them come from a position of privilege and seem to somehow carry that with them, but others have multiple points of view and therefore bring something interesting to the party. Which I find interesting4. I’ll always have interest in the various hunter fora 5 without actually endorsing them, but it’s the blogs that have opinions on the issues that matter that keep me coming back.

A long time ago I used Amiga computers pretty much exclusively, and participated in a FidoNet “echo” that the current WoW “twitterverse” has a strong resemblance to. Those people – more than any blog, forum, or website – epitomize the goodness to be found in the WoW social universe, in the same way that nothing that mattered on amiga,org seemed to matter in #AmigaGeneral.. Not the pustulant sewers of the WoW fora, and certainly not the reeking crevasses that represent the ‘discourse’ to be found on MMO-C, 4Chan, or Reddit.

Cultivate the proper list of tweeters on Twitter, and your life will be better in every respect.

Ai  swarez.


  1. Raids? I’ve heard of them. []
  2. And I’ve dropped a few twitterz because of that. []
  3. And I suspect that my XY chromosome arrangement renders my opinions to some of them irrelevant. []
  4. I remembered ‘Rades’ but not the name of his blog. Go figure. []
  5. BTW, WHU is back, Metzen be praised. []

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Yesterday, the cinematic for Warlords of Draenor was released to much excitement.  At the end, was the release date for the game.  If you haven’t seen yet, I’ve thoughtfully provided it here.

It was a really well-done cinematic, but continues the trend of WoW cinematics becoming smaller and smaller in scope.  The cinematics for Vanilla and BC were broad, inclusive.  But then WotLK went small, focused on Arthas1. Cata broadened back out in one dimension, but we were notably missing. It might have gone big, but it was all about Deathwing.  The MoP cinematic focused on a single moment, by way of introducing kung-fu pandas.

And now, this one … again, we’re focused on a single moment in time.  An important moment, yes, but the scope is, well, small, and doesn’t have us anywhere in it.

This is perhaps the most complicated – or maybe the better term is convoluted – setup for an expansion to date. The problem is that while there is indeed one vector from the end of MoP – Garrosh’s escape and subsequent Marty McFly to Draenor of old – the rest of the setup requires knowledge of lore that has not been on our minds for over a decade.  And, because of this, because Blizz wants us to feel like we’re part of this, regardless, they’ve worked up a huge backstory.  We’ve gotten a comic. We’ve gotten history lessons. We’ve gotten a lot of build-up to the moment that is depicted in the trailer.

But it’s not enough. Because, even if we appreciate the enormity of what we see in this cinematic, we still can’t see ourselves in this trailer. We don’t see our place in this drama that is presented to us. For all the work put into this cinematic, the “intro” trailer of last year’s Blizzcon was actually a lot more exciting.  We’re going to Draenor!  See – there we are!

The scene being depicted in the trailer – as well as in the lead-in comic – is pivotal in Warcraft lore. The whispers around the electronic water fountains is that Blizz – as the 20th anniversary of Orcs vs Humans comes nigh – wants us all to appreciate where it All Came From.  They’re obviously missing the flavor of WOvH and want us all to experience that, to remember where we all came from.

But, as the trailer shows, that’s not going to happen.

Mannoroth has been put down. Gul’dan has been cowed; he’s considered an enemy of the state.  The Burning Legion will not be driving the Iron Horde, and that means that nothing that the Orcs did in the original Warcraft series will be part of this expansion. The invasion’s not even taking place in the same time-period – it’ll be in modern times, for some reason2 We’re not witnessing history here. The only part of that history that we get to see here is the players – on the Orcish side – themselves. There is no historical significance. There is only the cult of Orcish personality.

Orcs be savage and cool. Yo.

The only real history we can get from this is an appreciation of the significance of Grom dumping the cup of demon blood on the ground, the smugness of Garrosh as he mocks Gul’dan, and the beginning of an oddly-familiar3 portal structure.

And the only reason most of us ‘get’ that is because we were told so. Not by Blizzard, not via any of their story-telling mechanisms. Most of us weren’t paying that much attention when playing, or didn’t care, or – if you’re me – were busy playing other sorts of games. No, those of us that ‘get’ it probably ‘got’ it by reading up on it after the fact, and go, “Oh, that’s interesting” in the same way we noted that Churchill preferred a particular brand of cigar over others as he ordered the destruction of the French Navy.

Yeah, sure, that’s why we’re in Karazhan. Blah blah blah.  Pull, for Metzen’s sake, I’m not getting younger.

In the end, all I can say is this.  10 out 10 for execution, but 1 out of 1000 for relevancy.   And it answers none of the concerns many of us have on terms of relevancy and inclusiveness. The sorts of players that get into the back-slapping, chest-thumping, testosterone-driven culture depicted in that trailer just don’t give two shits about “lore”.

I’m starting to get a strong feeling that part of Blizz’s “getting back to the beginning” includes pushing away people that aren’t into this man-child power fantasy crap, and being okay with that.  I think a number of people that I know and respect have already picked up on that, and left the game for good because of it, which, again, Blizz is apparently okay with.

I may be slow to pick up on this, and I’m still on the fence, but it may be right there and I’m just not looking directly at it. Fortunately, one does not have to actually buy the expansion and play the expansion to figure this out for good. I may decide to wait to see, by proxy, how it’s playing out after release, and then decide whether to buy it or not. 

The upshot is that the cinematic – and thus far, none of the comics – have done nothing to assuage my concerns, or make me want to buy it, or assure me that if I buy it, I’m not contributing to funding a bunch of genetic throwbacks that should be working at a circus instead of a software company. The trailer, while “interesting” and “well executed”, is also … impenetrable.

If I were commissioning a trailer for a product that so many people had expressed doubts – or outright dislike – about, I’d ask that the trailer convey the kind of imagery that would bring those people back.  Instead, they presented one that actually reinforces the doubts and concerns that people have expressed.

I am convinced, at the end of the day, that the Blizzard public relations department is manned by drunken wombats that live in a bubble universe where information flows out, but never in.


  1. To be fair, that’s what the whole expansion was about, the ultimate Vanity Project if your name was Arthas. []
  2. Timey-wimey. []
  3. I say oddly, since I have no logical reason why two completely different parties are building the Dark Portal to look exactly the same way, especially given the Orcish fondless for spikes on everything including their breakfast cereal. []

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Today, while I was up to my neck in the gubbins of an uncooperative database server, the pre-purchase program for WoD went live. A few things of note:

  1. The cost of the pre-purchase1 will be $70.00
  2. We have context for a release date, and this is unprecedented this far out from the actual release – Blizz tends to play close to the vest. To wit: "Before 12/20/2014", or, "Fall 2012", which frames it as Sep-Dec 2014.
  3. The cost of a level 90 boost is, indeed, $60.00.  I am not surprise.

I am also not surprised at the release date itself – somebody once asked me if I expected everyone to wait several months for new content, and my answer was that basically I’m just saying that that’s when I think it’s going to be. New expansions have traditionally been released in the 4Q time frame, with one exception2 .

I realize that Blizz have said that they "want" to iterate more frequently, but "want" isn’t "can do", and they have a lousy record for being able to accomplish what they "want" to do unless it brings money to the table.  Hiss invective at me all you want, but it’s an observation that’s pretty well bankable at this point. It just is.

I’m sure3 that Blizz knows that this will probably mark a pretty drastic bleed-off of subs for the summer months.  Too many people are bored with with SoO content already, and even more are fed up with Timeless Isle4. There are too many opportunities for enjoyment out there that do NOT require endless grinding on old content.  I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure they’re about to take a hit, and I’m pretty sure they’re not deluded enough to not expect it.

(I also have a very strong suspicion that they weren’t planning on it being this long when they announced WoD, but they’ve revised deadlines.)

I know a lot of people that are going to be very disheartened by this announcement’s implications. I’m not too happy about it myself, but at least I have the familiar embrace of low expectations to fall back on. Sadly, I think I have to fall back into that a bit too much. A premier software company can afford the resources to eliminate this kind of recurring disappointment. But it has to have the will to do so.

"Want" isn’t will.


  1. Digital Deluxe, AKA Collector’s Edition []
  2. And that one was late because of Blizz’s famed "It’s done when it’s done" tradition. []
  3. Well, maybe not sure, but I’d like to think! []
  4. The darling of patch 5.4.2 has lost its luster, apparently. []

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An article on WoW Insider takes one of my points about the character boost to 90 issue and expands it way the hells out to a mathematically precise word count of "large".  Anne states far more effectively than I have about one of the unpleasant side effects of the leveling "squish" – the way that the "story" of the game loses its cohesiveness due to the way that people are rushed through levels most expeditiously.

Anne provides a lot of good suggestions to address this self-inflicted wound, though the possible solution that Anne’s article leaves out is this: stop messing with the older levels. Stop messing with the XP scaling, stop messing with XP returns, stop dropping level requirements.

In short, don’t compress the leveling process at lower levels. Anyone that wants to rush through the 1-90 (or whatever) experience can go buy a boost.  This is my primary reason for wanting the boost in the first place. I really don’t give two damns about anything else, I just want to see the lore of the game coupled back with the leveling experience.

Unfortunately, that’ll never happen. The first reason is that Blizz just doesn’t have the PR capacity to handle the negative feedback without making a mess of things. They can’t even announcing an expansion without offending 1/2 the population of the gaming world, so let’s assume they just won’t be able to manage the awareness and deft touch required to make an unpopular decision and then weather the storm.

The other reason is that resources would be required in order to reset the leveling experience back to that which it was in the first place. In the case of the 1-60 process, they don’t even have an "original" setting to go back to, since they were redesigned in the first place to provide an accelerated leveling experience.  The old 1-60 leveling process was eliminated in toto when they were redesigned more or less completely from the ground up.

And those resources are just not going to be provided. They’re already pushing things with something as fundamental as introducing new character models with an expansion based on previously established lore (rewrit). They don’t have the bandwidth to also re-adjust and re-write all the old leveling content. There is no big red lever marked "reset to previous status", and, even so, they’d still need to test it, and they probably don’t have time or resources for that, either.

But Anne’s article truly does illustrate the folly of trying to mask a defect in design with workarounds. Eventually they pile up to the point where you can’t help but notice the flaws, no matter what your skill or perception level is. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that you can get from 1-60 without seeing but 3/4 of a single continent (rather than all of two continents).

Maybe somebody’s watching that will be implementing the next generation MMO that we all go to play, and they’ll not make the same fundamental mistakes that Blizzard has made.  Maybe they’ll offer level boosts to the "threshold" at the very first expansion, rather than five in.

Or, if it’s Blizzard and "Titan", maybe they’ll make all the same mistakes all over again.

Won’t that be fun.

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Well, they’ve finally done something I’ve been asking for for a long time – it is likely that Blizz will offer paid "boosts" to level 90 for the toons of your choice once WoD launches.  Naturally, there are those that claim that this will ruin the game, but I’ll counter – and have been for years – that the LACK of this paid service has ruined a lot of the game for a lot of people.

I want to get something out of the way, first. I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for people that are in a hurry to get to max level. None. Zip. Nada. I am happy for this paid service not on their behalf, but on behalf of everyone that has had to endure the after-effects of these people.

Blizzard has, in the past, altered the game in many ways to accommodate people that were ‘bored’ of leveling yet-another-alt to max level. They have nerfed the entire leveling game.

There are zones that you cannot get XP from all quests because the final ones go gray before you’re done! 

Entire expansions have been nerfed so that you spend minimal time in them – My Rogue completed ONE zone on Northrend before he dinged 80! He had done maybe 3/4 of Sholazar!  My DK barely finished Deepholm before she dinged 85.  The assumption has been made that if you want to do all the quests, you’ll do so anyway, regardless of any XP you might get, and otherwise you just want to be gone as fast as you can.

There are pretty much NO challenges left. Coming up in Vanilla pre-Cata, you could count on a few tough runs out there, some elites hanging around outside of instances, some big rares that required some teamwork to take down. All gone. Even Stiches is a pushover.

So, overall, the way that Blizz was trying to accommodate the speed-levelers pretty much subverted anything interesting about the lower level areas – and rather than help, that just made it worse, because now the power levelers were trying to get through areas that were pretty much as interesting as naval lint and about as attractive.  Leveling went from being tediously annoying to annoyingly annoying.

The biggest tragedy of them all is how much time and manpower that Blizz has invested in these changes that had no good effect, that pretty much subverted everything about the lower level zones, and pretty much rendered 90% of the game’s content irrelevant to a large subset of the playerbase.

The lower level areas are not the problem. The people that want to get OUT of them are the problem.  They wasted time and money on the wrong solution.

Boosting to max-for-last-expansion level is the RIGHT solution. It has a minimal footprint. It doesn’t give max level away for free. They enhance their revenue on the impatience of impatient people. Those that wish to level the traditional way get some peace from the miserable hordes of people that would rather be somewhere else.  Everybody wins.

This marginalizes nobody.  It isn’t "pay to win" – you still have whatever the current expansion is go level through. If you get any gear from it it’ll be inferior to anything you get in the expansion, so who cares?

When I saw the WoD reveal mention a free boost for one toon, I had hoped that it would lead to this. I’m so very pleased to see that it has.

I have absolutely no plans to avail myself of this.  I see paying to bypass content that you’re paying to see to be a non-sequitorian concept. But I have no reason to hate on those that will. Go in peace, kill some dragons, and tell Garrosh I said hello.

See ya in Draenor.

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Well, the big Reveal has taken place at Blizzcon, and we now know details of the next expansion.  Hopefully you followed #TeamFaff at Godmother’s liveblog.  I had to bail out right after the reveal because we had our weekly planning meeting at work, and the boss was most unsympathetic to the cause.

Now that the dust has settled, and I’ve had time to breathe, let’s talk about it.

My Scorecard

I made some cheeky predictions, so let’s see how I did!

There will be an expansion announcement and it will be called "Warlords of Draenor"

WoD LogoThat was a pretty easy one, really.  If they didn’t, it would have been ugly. The title this time was given to us by the trademark offices in several countries.  +2 for me.

It will involve a new "lost" continent of Draenor

WoD ZonesIt’s Draenor, Jim, but not as we know it.  Instead of a lost continent floating about in the Twisted Nether, we’re going back to the past. Specifically, Garrosh escapes captivity and through means as of yet unrevealed, journeys back in time to prevent the Old Horde from becoming subjugated by the Burning legion. What we, the denizens of Azeroth, then face is the Iron Horde – the united fury of the Orc clans united and at full strength.

My score: –1 (net total 1)

Alleria and Turalyon will return

No, they won’t. Though, to be fair, the new world of Old Draenor doesn’t have them to begin with. Since the First War didn’t happen, they didn’t get trapped when the Portal was closed.  But THAT is a whole new can of worms, something I’ll exposit in another post.

Score: –1, for a net of 0.

It will involve the Burning Legion

Not so much. While it’s obvious that the Legion will be involved at SOME point, the net effect is that the Orcs turn their backs on the Legion and the power it offers.  But the overall theme of this expansion is All Orc, All the Time.

WoD WarlordsScore: –1, now netting –1.

Ethereals will be the new player race

There will be no new player races.

-1 for me, for a net of –2. Oh dear.

Outland will not get revamped

Technically true, though they do move the door a bit.  Since the history leading to Outland hasn’t happened, Outland becomes an alternate timeline, and thus its entrance is moved to the Caverns of Time.  Which I have to admit, is a pretty good way to deal with it.

I’m going to claim a win, netting me back to –1.

The new level cap will be 100

Got that one right. So we’ll see a realm first Level 100 in 2 days, not 1.1

+1, back to breaking even.

There are no indications of any new classes

Got that one right, too.  This will make WoD the first WoW expansion where neither a new class or race was introduced.

+1, and I’m back in the black.

Release Date: Holidays, 2014

No mention was made of a release date. This is my surprised face.  Though I keep hearing rumors of a Q1/Q2 release timeframe, there is nothing official to back that up that I am aware of.

No points either way.

You face Jaraxxus!

I was close, but he appears in Hearthstone, not WoD.

-1 to zero me out again.

Character remodels

New Female GnomeI totally didn’t call it, but it’s such a big one that I think I deserve to be dinged for missing it. 

And that’s the news: all character races are to get remodels with higher poly counts and a lot of new emotes and expressions. The samples shown – especially for the female Gnome – were amazing.

There IS a tiny bit of drama here, in that it’s stated that there are currently no plans to offer a free appearance change when the changes go into effect. But the door’s been left open just a crack, so let’s wait and see.

-1, putting me back in the red.

Gender Crisis

No WomenEvery Blizzcon, Blizz tends to offend someone, and this year was no exception.  After the buzz died down, people started noting a highly testosterone-driven theme to this expansion.  Female characters, when mentioned at all, were either minor in comparison, or they were told to go home, take care of the baby, and make Thrall a sammich.

I’ll revisit this at some future time.  Other than to say, if you throw your keyboard over this, you know what happens? It breaks, dumbass.  So I guess you showed them.

RedSo I get a point there, bringing me back to even.

The overall results are

As is usually the case with this sort of thing, if you guess wildly the best you can really hope for is 50/50, which I did achieve.  I was wrong as much as I was right.  But I’m not displeased with the result.

And now the other stuff

One of the big things for this expansion seems to be "systems", our friend GhostCrawler’s domain.

There’s a big change to bags and inventory – a lot of items are going account-wide similar to how companion pets are handled now.  This’ll clear up tons of space in our bags. A lot of materials are going from 20 to 100 per stack, freeing more room. And Tabards are a possibility for this, hooray!  Also, quest items, though I’m worried for Archmage Vargoth’s Staff.

Another big "system" change will be "item squish".  Basically, the huge numbers we currently have will be reduced by several orders of magnitude, possibly to double or even single digit values, with some sort of hidden scaling system to keep it manageable.

Related to that, itemization is changing drastically, with most secondary stats like Hit and Expertise going away and primary stats possibly varying by spec, effectively ending the spec-change-shuffle.

Convenience Features

You will be able to bring one character to 90, or "boost", per account.  So if you decide to change to a different raiding main, for example, you won’t have to spend weeks getting up to raiding level. I’ve been pushing for this for a while, because I hate that the lower level zones continue to get gimped in order to make life easier for raiders. Raiding and the leveling game are two different activities, and changes in one should not make life harder or less satisfying for either group.  By allowing a character boost, they provide raiders with what they want without punishing those that are not raiding. Right now, it’s one per account, but I suspect that there will be infrastructure in place to make additional boosts possible as a paid service. And I think that’s a good thing.

This is actually an "in"-convenience feature, but another bit of drama – including threatened or actual sub cancellations – is that flight will not be available in Draenor until at least the 6.1 patch. I’m okay with that. In fact, if they want to get rid of flight completely, I’d be completely behind it.  But a lot of people are NOT thrilled.

Garrisons

WoD GarrisonGarrisons were an unexpected new feature, which more or less amount to a cross between player housing and the Tillers farm. Other trade skills in addition to cooking will be involved, you get minions, and they can do things for you even while you’re offline.  It’s all rather non-specific right now, and it’s hard to get a read on it, but overall it has been well received.

Raiding

WoD RaidsThe big change to raiding is that all levels of raiding will be flex in WoD except the highest form, which will be called Mythic, and serves a step further than Heroic.  The raid difficulty is tuned for 20 players, which Blizz claims is important since tuning at that difficulty will be too complex otherwise.


And that’s a wrap.  I will be revisiting several of these topics in upcoming posts, but I wanted to first set the stage, as it were, for what is to come.  Specifically, I want to discuss the lore, Blizzard’s ongoing PR issues,  the game mechanics that are changing, and probably more lore, because, damn.


  1. Actually, we won’t, because Realm First achievements are being removed from the game. []

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