Mounts: They get your ass from point A to point B, and if you're lucky, they'll do it as stylishly as possible. They're the most immediately visible status symbol in WoW and often give you a one-glance note on the kind of player at whom you're looking. People astride Invincible can be counted upon to be hardcore raiders from the Wrath of the Lich King era, someone riding a Violet Proto-Drake is never new to the game, and players rocking a White Stallion are seriously old school.
Players who have been around for any length of time almost inevitably accrue a stable's worth of beasties to cart them around, but some folks go the extra mile for the Leading the Cavalry and Mountain o' Mounts achievements. In Cataclysm, these are a lot easier than they once were, although you should still be prepared to dump a ton of gold and time into them no matter what. Fortunately, the first part of the Mountain o' Mounts trek should also net you The Ambassador achievement and title.
Fair warning: No matter how cheaply you try to do this, getting to 100 mounts is always an expensive undertaking. I'm going to assume that your priority is the overall ease of getting to 100 rather than keeping the process as cheap as possible, so I'll reserve the ultra-expensive options for future columns. Today we're going to focus on extracting the maximum possible number of mounts from the least number of reputation grinds -- and picking up a bonus title along the way.
Racial mounts and The Ambassador grind
With the introduction of city quartermasters in Cataclysm, grinding reputation with your home faction's races has never been simpler. You can be exalted with all six of your faction's races before ever reaching max level these days, and after that, it's a quick matter of visiting mount vendors.
- Stormwind Humans take enormous pride in the quality and bloodlines of their war horses. Quartermaster: Captain Lancy Revshon at the entrance to the flight master in Stormwind. Mount vendors: Humans are actually the only race to have multiple mount vendors, but you can pick up all of the horses from Katie Stokx at 77,67 in Stormwind's Old Town.
- Ironforge Dwarves, always inclined to mountainous territory, have made good use of the sure-footed rams from the peaks surrounding Dun Morogh and Loch Modan. Quartermaster: Captain Stonehelm next to the Ironforge flight master. Mount vendor: Veron Amberstill at 70,49 at the Amberstill Ranch in Dun Morogh.
- Gnomeregan The gnomes are interesting in that they build their mounts and claim that mechanostriders -- if ridden by experienced operators -- are just as responsive and loyal as real animals. Until the appearance of the engineering gyrocopters in The Burning Crusade and the goblin trikes in Cataclysm, I think these were the only mechanical mounts in the game. Quartermaster: Master Tinker Trini next to the Ironforge flight master. Mount vendor: Milli Featherwhistle at 56,46 at Steelgrill's Depot north of Kharanos in Dun Morogh.
- Darnassus The night elves, trolls, and orcs are fairly unique in offering carnivorous mounts (more on this below with the orcs), and the elves are fond of the nightsabers that roam Teldrassil and northwestern Kalimdor. Quartermaster: Moon Priestess Lasara at 36,49 in Darnassus (next to the flight master). Mount vendor: Lelanai at 42,33 in the Cenarion Enclave in Darnassus.
- The Exodar The draenei had a herd of elekks from Outland with them when they crashed into Azuremyst Isle, and I presume their mount stock's been bred from within this group. These seem to be among the least popular land mounts in the game, regrettably. Quartermaster: Kadu at 69,61 next to the Exodar flight master. Mount vendor: Torallius the Pack Handler at 81,52 (a short walk from Kadu) outside the Exodar.
- Gilneas Sorry, folks; the Gilneans don't offer anything. Before the Cataclysm beta launched, we all thought we'd be seeing the vaguely warthoggish/boar-type creature glimpsed on a screen at BlizzCon 2009, but Blizzard scrapped that in favor of Running Wild. In fairness, Running Wild is the hell of a lot cooler, but it does leave Alliance players without the additional two options granted by the goblin trikes for Horde. Quartermaster: Lord Candren at 37,48 in Darnassus (next to the flight master and Darnassus quartermaster).
- Orgrimmar Destron Allicant of Travels through Azeroth and Outland makes a cogent observation in the second portion of his Nagrand records concerning the traditional orcish wolf: The logistics of supplying a large force of carnivorous mounts must be an absolute nightmare in comparison to horses or kodo that simply graze. Within the Warcraft universe, I think Destron's speculation that the Horde's Outland sojourn will result in regiments of talbuk-equipped cavalry -- leaving wolves only to elite units -- makes a lot of sense. Quartermaster: Stoneguard Nargol next to the Orgrimmar flight master. Mount vendor: Ogunaro Wolfrunner at 61,34 in Orgrimmar.
- Undercity The undead humans of Lordaeron, never granted the peace of a natural death, seem unwilling to afford that luxury to their own horses. Curiously, undeath apparently makes said horses grow horns. Quartermaster: Captain Donald Adams next to the Undercity flight master. Mount vendor: Zachariah Post at 61,59 in Brill of Tirisfal Glades.
- The Darkspear The trolls round off the last of the three races to offer carnivorous mounts. As a note on the most recent lore concerning this, Gonk -- the loa who's spurred the creation of troll druids -- is a raptor. They are very highly regarded in trollish culture. Quartermaster: Champion Uru'zin next to the Orgrimmar Flight Master. Mount vendor: Zjolnir at 55,76 in Sen'jin Village in Durotar.
- The Bilgewater goblins The goblins only offer two trikes, presumably as a means of keeping Alliance from getting screwed over for the mount achievements. Quartermaster: Frizzo Villamar next to the Orgrimmar Flight Master. Mount vendor: Kall Worthaton at 36,86 in the goblin slums of Orgrimmar.
- Thunder Bluff Kodo are everything to the tauren; they provide meat, transportation, hides, and porterage. The 100% mount speed animation is a little on the implausible side, but eh. Quartermaster: Brave Tuho next to the Thunder Bluff flight master. Mount vendor: Harb Clawhoof at 47,58 in Bloodhoof Village in central Mulgore.
- Silvermoon WoW's answer to the Final Fantasy chocobo, hawkstriders have an amusing animation set and are hands-down my favorite ground mount for a tauren due to the sheer "Huh?" factor involved. Quartermaster: Magistrix Nizara next to the Silvermoon flight master (west of the city gates). I really wish they'd move these NPCs inside the city beause it's a hassle to reach them if you have to port in and then out. Mount vendor: Winaestra at 61,54 in Eversong Woods.
Working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! Count on us for advice on Azeroth's holidays and special events, including new achievements, how to get 310% flight speed with achievement mounts, and Cataclysm reputation factions and achievements.