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Scott Andrews

Philadelphia, PA - http://www.wow.com/category/officers-quarters/

Scott has been playing WoW since 2004. He writes the WoW Archivist and Officers' Quarters columns.

Did you miss in Pandaria?: Carefully packaged rodents

Deployed rodent crate
As we approach the end of Mists, you may have characters with a vast pile of Lion's Landing/Domination Point Commissions from patch 5.1's Krasarang war clogging up your bags. Temporary world PvP boosts probably aren't of much interest these days, so here is a great way to spend them that will give you a more permanent reward.

The Rodent Crate costs 2000 commissions. But what does it actually do? The tooltip doesn't specify.

Using it will spawn Sumprush Rodents for one hour that can be battled and captured by anyone wandering by. Like other battle pets, they have a chance to be rare when you engage them.

The crate is the only way to get this particular pet. If you haven't heard of these beaver-like rats, that may be because they are not part of the Pandaria Safari achievement. They have different abilities and colors than the similar Bucktooth Flapper from Jade Forest.

Be sure to tell your friends when you're releasing the rodents so everyone can get one. The actual crate is so cute and weird when you place it down, I hope it becomes a Toybox item someday.


Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience

Lucifron
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Are you ready to return to the Core? Last week, we learned that Blizzard is planning a 40-player LFR version of classic's Molten Core raid as part of WoW's 10th anniversary celebration. Regardless of what they have in mind, the experience is certain to be very different than it was back in 2005.

Sure, you've probably solo'ed MC or cleared it with a few friends. But what was a Molten Core run like during classic WoW, when conquering Ragnaros and his fiery lieutenants was the pinnacle of endgame content? Read on to find out.

Zoning in

To access Molten Core at release, raids had to fight their way through the 5-player Blackrock Depths dungeon in order to access the raid. Today that would be impossible, but originally, dungeons had the same 40-player cap as raids.

Those poor, poor fools in BRD didn't stand a chance with three dozen+ players carving their way through. Since clearing it offered nothing but a timesink, Blizzard changed the Molten Core discovery quest into an attunement in March 2005. You had to reach the entrance of Molten Core once, and then you could port there directly by jumping out of a small window in Blackrock Mountain.

The game sometimes failed to register the instance transfer and you plummeted into a vast lake of lava. Yes, Molten Core could kill you before you even set foot in it.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Did you miss in Pandaria?: Lost treasure of Old Man Thistle

Fighting Toxiclaw
As we reach the end of the Mists era, it's a great time to finish up some of the achievements and questlines we may have missed. Like the Pinch King, this questline is hidden. No marker indicates it. But you are given clues.

Once Fish Fellreed gets to know you better, she will tell you the story of Old Man Thistle, a farmer who found a secret cave full of treasure. It collapsed behind him after his mushan Bobo smashed through a wall, but he drew a map to its location. Unfortunately, the location of the map, like the cave, has been forgotten.

In order to start the questline, you need to be exalted with the Tillers faction and Best Friends with all of the Halfhill Market characters. You'll know you're done when the Friends on the Farm achievement pops up.

There's no quest for this, but you should head to Cattail Lake and hunt the Enormous Cattail Grouper. Be careful, though -- he's big enough to swallow you whole. (These groupers are also the target of the Gift for Haohan daily.) If you meet the requirements, the grouper will drop an Old Map and launch you on a brief but lucrative adventure.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Did you miss in Pandaria?: The Pinch King

Kril'Mandar Point
A few days ago, I was fishing along the coast of the northwestern Dread Wastes and something caught my eye: a red-named mob pathing back and forth behind a rock. It was a pretty obscure location, and the only enemies nearby were swimming in the water, so I decided to investigate. It was a makrura named Odd'nirok. It wasn't considered a rare spawn or a quest objective. Curious, I killed him. He put up a tougher fight than I expected, though by no means difficult. He dropped Odd'nirok's Clamshell and a book called Troubles From Without.

The book reads as follows:

Brothers and Sisters,

We need to keep our eyes beyond our shores. The mists have fallen. We, the Shado-Pan are the next and final line of defense.

The first to come, as you know, were the Horde and Alliance. While they have not shown themselves to be hostile, we continue to follow them with a wary eye.

The next to come did not arrive by air, but from beneath the sea. The makrura have shown increased activity on our shores, which suggests a possible future attack. I will highlight a few high-priority targets to look out for.

As I read through the book, it became clear that I had stumbled upon something awesome, and also something very much hidden. No skull marker or exclamation point indicates this "quest." No achievement hints at it. You just have to find one of these makrura, like I did, and then you're off. I was determined to find the five others that the book identified and see where this crazy clamshell led me.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

WoW Archivist: One night of payback in 2006

Theramore
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

An interesting aspect of the ongoing Ashran faction hub debate is the fear people express that their hubs will be raided by enemy players, since the new hubs are adjacent to a PvP zone. Blizzard pointed out that the hubs will be better defended by NPCs than the Shrines are now -- and the Shrines currently see few serious attacks on live realms, despite their close proximity.

On most realms today, little large-scale world PvP occurs, and even fewer faction raids. Faction raids were once a huge part of the game, even on PvE realms. You couldn't kill opposing players on PvE realms if they didn't want to be killed, but you could deny them their questgivers, flightmasters, and other crucial NPCs. And we did that, on both sides, throughout classic WoW.

Easy targets like the Crossroads, Astranaar, Grom'gol, and Refuge Pointe were raided almost daily. If your faction was heavily outnumbered, like mine was on Khadgar-US back then, it could be infuriating. We had our small victories at times, as I covered in my first Archivist column. But many days, all we could do was stand by and watch as the Alliance occupied our towns for hours at a time and took away our ability to level effectively.

On our first anniversary in 2006, my guild set out for some payback. Today I'd like to share that tale of classic world PvP, from the era when faction raids were serious business.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: More beta surprises

Sylvanas models through the years
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

As the Warlords of Draenor beta rolls onward, Blizzard keeps managing to surprise us. Recently we've learned about a huge overhaul to guild systems, random upgrades for quest rewards, and an extra-awesome core hound mount.

In the last WoW Archivist column, we looked at the surprises from the original beta and the betas of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. This time, we continue with Wrath and also look at the surprises during the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria betas.

(As before, I won't go into storyline surprises here. And I won't cover surprises announced at BlizzCon outside of a beta. BlizzCon already has its own feature for controversial surprises.)

Beta of the Lich King (continued)

Goodbye, night elf Sylvanas. Through vanilla and TBC, the Sylvanas model looked like a night elf rather than an undead high elf. With Sylvanas poised to play a big role in Northrend, Blizzard clearly needed to revamp her model. Players worried that they would have to look at the old night elf model through all her lore moments in Wrath.

A build in August 2008 gave her an initial makeover (middle image above) and lore-focused players breathed a sigh of relief. Clearly she still needed some work, but at least she wasn't a night elf anymore.

A later build in September gave her the fantastic model we see today. The same build also updated the models for Varian Wrynn and Alexstraza.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

Blizzard's vision and player choice

Temple of Karabor assaulted
This past Thursday, Cory Stockton (aka Mumper) answered a simple question on Twitter. He told players that the faction hubs would no longer be located in the Temple of Karabor and Bladespire Fortress, but on the island of Ashran.

The firestorm of controversy that followed seemed to take Blizzard by surprise. Lore took to the forums to explain the change. He gave Blizzard's reasoning, including the lore explanation for the new hubs. Far from mollifying the player base, it only served to inflame those who disagreed with the shift in locale.

My response is this: Why not both? Why must one city or the other be the One Hub to Rule Them All? Why can't we, the players, choose which city to bind our hearthstone to -- without being punished for it? Why does there have to be one "right" answer on such a basic quality of life issue? Let us choose and use phasing so we only see our own choice as a hub.

Although I don't condone the extremely negative way that some reacted to the announcement, the anger didn't surprise me at all. It points to a problem that has loomed over WoW for a long time: lack of player options and personalization.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: Expansion gaps

Gap in the bridge on the Timeless Isle
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Expansion gaps are the most reviled of all content gaps. It's not just because they are the longest -- it's because at the other end of the gap lies so much to look forward to. Expansions change WoW from top to bottom. They usher in brand new worlds to explore and bring us new ways to play the game. That's part of why it takes Blizzard so long to release them.

In the meantime, we wait, mired in the old, but excited about the new.

We are experiencing what is likely to be the longest expansion gap so far in WoW's 10-year history. But what about the expansion gaps of the past? How do they stack up? What did Blizzard offer and what were players' reactions to them? Read on to find out!

Classic WoW to The Burning Crusade

Dates: August 22, 2006 to January 16, 2007
Duration: 4 months, 25 days
Subscriptions: Rising
Mood: Excited

The first expansion gap was also the shortest. It felt like a long time to players back then, since classic WoW offered patches and content at a blistering pace for the first two years of the game. Players were impatient, yes. That never changes. But we knew WoW was a hit and we were thrilled that the success of the game had made an expansion possible. We couldn't wait to roll a blood elf or a draenei, or take to the skies and fly for the first time. Plus, most raiding guilds hadn't conquered every boss (or even close), so they had plenty to keep them busy.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Flight

Sparkle Pony
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Flying is second nature to WoW players. We've been doing it for almost eight years now. Sure, we've adventured in a few flightless places, like the Isle of Thunder, the Isle of Giants, and the Timeless Isle. Even The Burning Crusade, where flying originated, had a no-fly zone on the Isle of Quel'Danas. (What is it with these isles anyway?) But almost always, since 2006, we've flown. And we always expected to, for the vast majority of our in-game time.

Now, because of Blizzard's impassioned arguments against flight on Draenor, flying is suddenly controversial. If you look back, you can see why: flying has changed the game like no other feature before or since. Let's start where it all began, however, with classic WoW's humble flight paths.

They used to be cool

I'm about to express something that you may not believe. Once upon a time, flight paths were cool. Yep, I said it. Before flying mounts, when you couldn't even get a ground mount until level 40 and epic ground mounts were just a dream for most due to the steep cost, in that early version of the game where you spent most of your travel time walking or riding at the pace of a Throne of Thunder gastropod, flight paths were cool.

Not only did they get you around the continent at the fastest possible speed, they gave you a cinematic view of Azeroth from the skies. It was the only time you could get that view from above. The first time most classic WoW players rode a gryphon or wyvern from A to B, we loved it.

No other MMO at the time had anything like it. We felt like masters of the world -- at least, when we could afford to take the trip. Most players were broke in the early days, and using flight paths too liberally often meant forgoing buying a new skill when you leveled. Taking a flight path was an indulgence, a treat, instead of the annoying hassle we see them as today.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist