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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Garrisons and their role in Warlords of Draenor

We're all talking about garrisons these days. Whether it's how they're going to work, where they're going to be, or what we're going to do with them they're the big new feature for Warlords of Draenor and we're all constantly worrying at the bone to try and squeeze more information out of them. It's understandable. Players have wanted something akin to player housing for years, and the garrison goes beyond that - it's effectively your own fortified town. It brings back memories for players of old school pen and paper RPG's like me of hitting the end of the expert levels in D&D and getting a dominion.

We've recently found out that the garrison will be heavily integrated into the leveling experience, requiring it to have a stable location (Frostfire Ridge for Horde, Shadowmoon Valley for Alliance) and that there will be specific racial-themed buildings for the professions section of your garrison. There's even going to be group content for garrisons. Mumper has even assured us that the garrison will not be required to level. Meanwhile, Muffinus has asked players who, out of the entire World of Warcraft, would they want as a follower - I'm personally pulling for Rexxar and Marhsall Windsor. Yes, I know.

What this all means is in flux, of course, as Mumper himself acknowledges - design is iterative, and changes happen. We're still waiting for more details, but what I wanted to talk about now is how the garrison is shaping up to become one of those rare things, a feature that can completely transform your playing experience in fundamental ways, yet not directly.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Who I want to see in Warlords of Draenor: Restalaan

Yep, another one there's no art for. Enjoy this picture of some random draenei instead.

Who was Restalaan and why should you care? I'm glad you asked. Restalaan was the closest thing Velen had to a buddy - a close friend and confidant, a right hand who led the defense of the draenei city of Telmor. Having been with the prophet since the exodus from Argus, Restalaan was technically an ancient eredar, born during the time when Velen, Kil'jaeden and Archimonde were the triumvirate and led all eredar before the coming of Sargeras.

Restalaan was always there, serving as Velen's sounding board and anchor. In the history outlined in Rise of the Horde it was Restalaan who led the patrol that saved Durotan and Orgrim Doomhammer when they were children - an event that should still have happened in the Warlords of Draenor timeline, since both Durotan and Doomhammer are confirmed to be alive. In the original timeline, Restalaan would come to have reason to regret this decision, since in the process of saving the two young orcs and leading them to Telmor to meet with the prophet he exposed Durotan to the use of the Ata'mal fragment Leafshadow. This enabled Durotan to later expose Telmor to the Horde, which destroyed the city - Durotan killed Restalaan during the battle. So died Restalaan, captain of the guard of Telmore, Velen's best friend, survivor of the exodus from Argus - killed by the boy who's life he saved.

But that fate is not set on the Draenor of Warlords.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Gnomes, the inheritors of the future

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

The gnomes are one of two people of modern Azeroth who can lay claim to being the most intelligent, most adept with technology, most innovative of the mortal races. Unlike their goblin rivals, however, the gnomes are not materialists in the sense of always seeking a means to profit - their mindset is far more exploratory. A goblin looks at a situation and bends her mind to determine how best to exploit it, while a gnome seeks to learn how it works. And in a way, the gnome is far more dangerous, because they're never satisfied.

Consider this - the gnomes invented a weapon so destructive it rendered their own city unlivable for years. Even today, Gnomeregan isn't fully recovered. This radiation bomb (the work of Sicco Thermaplugg, the ambitious madman who once ruled Gnomeregan in its fallen state after Gelbin Mekkatorque led those gnomes he could out of the city) is proof positive of just how terrifying gnomish ingenuity can really be. Unlike the mana bomb Garrosh Hellscream used on Theramore, the radiation bomb doesn't destroy building - it kills without ruining structures. Furthermore, the mana bomb was a discovery, created by blood elves serving Kael'thas Sunstrider who had the chance to study naaru technology in Tempest Keep, but the radiation bomb was entirely a gnomish invention. From their origins as a titan created construct race, the gnomes have persevered through to the modern day as a clever, resourceful, inventive people. But Sicco Thermaplugg also shows that gnomes can be treacherous, deceitful, arrogant and even contemptuous of others.

Now, following the Siege of Orgrimmar, is there any limit to what the gnomes can achieve?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Who I want to see in Warlords of Draenor: Griselda Blackhand

No, this is not actually a picture of Griselda.
If you don't know who Griselda was, that's not really your fault - she was a character who lived and died during the original Warcraft game. But to my mind Griselda is a perfect example of the way you can make use of the parallel world of Draenor we're going to visit, a character who can highlight the ways that things have changed.

Originally, Griselda was one of the three children of Blackhand the Destroyer, and like her brothers Rend and Maim, she was artificially aged to adulthood via warlock magic and trained to fight. But unlike her brothers, her father denied her the blood of Mannoroth (so, ironically, she was spared the blood curse) and would not give her a position of authority like the ones he'd given Rend and Maim. This was a colossal act of disdain on his part - he'd stolen her childhood from her, turned her into a weapon, and then refused to make use of her. Why he did this is unclear - it's often said it was a punishment for her insolence, but we don't know what that insolence entailed.

Her fate in our timeline (turning against her father, running to the Deadmines alongside an ogre named Turok, assassinated by her father's warriors) isn't what I'm interested in, however. It's how the Griselda of this Draenor could turn out that interests me.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Story and Sound: Mozart would be writing the World of Warcraft


I've been thinking a lot lately about the dynamics of telling a story. What exactly is a story? How do you tell it most effectively, both from an artistic narrative stand point, and a consumer-friendly attention grabbing one? I've also been concerned with new ways to tell a story, especially one that people might discount at first since the story mechanism lives on the edge of pop culture.

Besides working on WoW Insider, I also make my home at the Minnesota Opera, working on their website and advancing an opera's story through digital mediums. Opera is an old art form, one that if not nurtured and brought into the next century is at risk of becoming obscure. I'm proud to work for a company that realizes this and does some really ground breaking things.

It struck me recently when sitting through a dress rehearsal the eerie similarities between Warcraft and an opera like The Magic Flute. After thinking about how very like these two story-telling vehicles are, I realized that they are both just a natural progression in humanity's ability to tell a story.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The mistakes of the World of Warcraft

It's been a long time, hasn't it? World of Warcraft has lasted ten years, and in that time things are bound to go wrong. It's inevitable. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, I make references to William Butler Yeats and then talk about video games. No game lasts as long as World of Warcraft without making some bad steps along the way. Like Indiana Jones stepping on the wrong tile, all we can do is clamber back up.

Some of these were completely unforeseen, others in retrospect were pretty obvious, but at the time not so much, and others you have to wonder how they managed to make it live in the first place. We're going to talk about them now.

Vanilla WoW: The PvP ladder

Before the ladder, there was mainly world PvP. Spots like the Crossroads in the Barrens (close to a convenient neutral port so Alliance could get there easily) and Tarren Mill/Southshore were hotly contended for almost no good reason at all besides simple factional hatred and a desire from players to kill players. All of that changed with the introduction of battleground and honor rewards, the best of which required a player to achieve a certain rank to attain. What happened next was simple - some players hit upon a means to achieve that high PvP rank, namely, play in shifts.

The ladder was abused from the moment of its introduction. People formed groups who hit the BGs together, sure, but that wasn't the abuse part. The abuse came in the form of people sharing their account information and playing a specific character in shifts, literally keeping said character in the BGs for days at a time. If you were trying to play your character fairly, you simply couldn't compete with the five people who were playing that one warlock nonstop until it had all the high ranking PvP gear, and then shifting to the next player's warrior or paladin. I knew people who tried to stay awake for two solid days doing nothing but hitting up Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch. It was painful to watch. The ladder ended up being removed before the end of vanilla, and it was the best change they could have made.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Expansions, introductions, and the rails


I was reading through twitter (like you do) when I came across an interesting conversation involving Jeremy "Muffinus" Feasel - he asked the question how long is too long for an expansion intro? Well, he asked it better than that.
But it still amounts to the same question, and it got me interested. Some expansions had extremely minimal introductions - The Burning Crusade, for instance, basically shoved you through the portal, handed you a few breadcrumb quests and said you figure it out, while Wrath basically had two starter zones so four different starts (two per faction) but still got you into the questing fairly quickly. Ultimately, though, those expansions had new races or classes, so you still got an introductory experience, just not necessarily for your max level character. Rolling a DK, blood elf or draenei, you had a more involved introduction to the expansion than you did as a formerly max level character embarking on the new climb to max level.

Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria continued this to some extent - if you were a level 80 character, you didn't get much more introduction than 'bad stuff is happening, you can go here or here' but the two zone options, Hyjal and Vashj'ir, were very detailed and had extended sections of on-rails questing. Cataclysm also had two complete starting zones for worgen and goblins that served as introductions to the meat of the expansion. Mists had the pandaren starting zone, but it also had the Jade Forest which had an outright introductory feel that was a lot stronger than any zone introduction had ever been, combining elements of the DK starting zone and the Vashj'ir start.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Of sharks and trolls

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Happy Monday morning, ladies and gentlemen!

@poopsiekins2010 asked:

when will Orgrimmar be updated with the new Warchief?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Sunday Morning Funnies: Better than gold

WoW, eh?
Sunday Morning Funnies is your weekly list of WoW-related web comics.

This week, in comics: Sailor Moon (sort of)! Linola tries out a new companion. Tax season is afoot. Plus, there's a lucky worgen.

The comic news this week is light, as is typical of a week leading up to a holiday, let alone a week that included tax deadlines. There are a few notable absences, including Experience Boost and The Trolling of Azeroth. Contested Territory is scheduled to return to this list next week, however.

In the meantime, Gratz has posted an Easter comic. WoW, eh? is back with a new, not depressing, even kind of sparkly update! It's nice to see Cadi happy again. And although our list is a bit short this week, Trigonometry came through with two installments of the Trigonometry interview (on Gnomeregan Forever).

As always, we are accepting suggestions for inclusions on this list, as well as tips relating to WoW comics. If you have a tip, drop it into the comments section.

And of course, enjoy your holidays!

This week's WoW-related comics from around the web:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Comics, Sunday Morning Funnies

WRUP: Breaking Gnome

This week saw the premiere episode of Azeroth Choppers, a new webseries featuring Paul Jr. from American Chopper. Two teams, Alliance and Horde, are being challenged to construct the ultimate chopper for the faction they represent -- and both bikes will be put up to player vote, with the most popular chopper being given a model in World of Warcraft itself. Sure, it might sound kind of silly, but it was also pretty fun -- and in the spirit of fun, we decided to ask our staff not only what they are playing this weekend, but what television spoof they would like to see next?

Alex Ziebart (@AlexZiebart) I'm going to be doing more Heroes of the Storm this weekend. I genuinely expected we'd have the Warlords alpha/beta by this point, so I don't have much to do in WoW for the time being. I want an Azerothian version of Hoarders. They can start with Anne and Rossi's banks and void storage. Puns that combine hoard and Horde need not apply.

Touché, Alex ... touché.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Shadowmoon Valley behind the scenes

If you guys have noticed, we like to feature the various throwback thursdays that developers have posted to twitter. Today we have another doozy from Cory Stockton. Previously he's shared really awesome looks back at places like Dalaran, today he gives us this look at Shadowmoon Valley in its conceptual stage. Looking it over you can see that things are still in the 'generic name' version, for instance 'Dwarf' and 'Broken Draenei Village' instead of names yet, but most of what we recognize as the Shadowmoon Valley of The Burning Crusade is on there. Considering we're going to be getting a look at an entirely new SMV as an Alliance starting zone, I find this look back very interesting.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade

The Queue: I really have no idea what this means

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

Look, blame Scott Leyes. All I know is, with Azeroth Choppers debuting yesterday, I couldn't in good conscience not feature this today. Samwise Didier absolutely is so fluffy, we just have to accept it. He is the fluffiest. His beard is a thing of wonder.

Okay, let's get started on the over 800 comments in yesterday's Queue. That sound? The one that sounds like me sobbing? That's me sobbing.

Kameron Hoffs asks:

What changes are needed for Warriors in WoD?

I'm not quite arrogant enough to think I am in possession of all the answers in terms of warrior design for Warlords. I know what I would like to see, but I'm hardly unbiased - I identify with warriors to closely to even pretend that I'm not invested in the outcome here. That said, there are a few things I think we haven't heard much about yet, and which I think need to be absolutely there in the future.
  1. Headlong Rush needs to actually work and make warriors like haste at least a little bit. Especially when it comes to protection, a spec that currently gets absolutely nothing from haste.
  2. If not Titan's Grip for protection (letting us use 2h weapons and shields) then it's long past time for Blizzard to design 1h spears. Yes, this isn't just a warrior deal, but it's important.
  3. Warriors have lost a lot of flavor. We're losing two of our three banners (the only really unique thing we got in Mists of Pandaria) and a host of other abilities. I get that we needed to lose them for ability purge sake, but we're losing things like Sunder Armor, Cleave, Berserker Stance and in general we're suffering from a lack of coolness factor. It's time for something iconic and viscerally awesome to be added to the warrior toolbox.
  4. We need to hear some details about how rage is going to work. I can't really speculate more on this one until we hear some details, but we just lost any way to get rage from damage taken, a way to generate rage on demand, and a way to get enraged on demand. Are we just expected to Charge and use our rage generation attacks and that's it for rage? Is haste expected to fill the gap? It's time for this design to be explained to us.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

War Crimes novel release date details

So if you're wondering when War Crimes (the upcoming Christie Golden novel about post-Siege of Orgrimmar Garrosh Hellscream and his trial) will be released, we have the details straight from author Christie Golden's Twitter account.
So not only do you know that the book will be released on May 6th, but if you just can't wait that long, you can go to Denver to the StarFest convention and snag a copy there three days early. I'm not saying you have to do this, nor am I saying to get me a copy while you're there, but I wouldn't mind it, either.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

I haven't touched my boosted character


I went and pre-ordered Warlords of Draenor along with everyone else a couple months ago (well, most everyone else, it seems like). I'd been thinking about which character I wanted to boost up to 90 and get maxed professions with for a while, and after a fair amount of time I took the jump and maxed out my rogue.

After the boost I played around on it a little bit. Did some timeless isle, ran some troll raids, and that was that. She just sits there now, not moving, not doing anything in particular. I've parked her next to a pet trainer. Occasionally I'll log on to her and battle the trainer whenever I remember to -- so that's a nice thing, I guess.

But you know what? For me the character became pointless, just a thing sitting there that doesn't get any attention or play time. I might as well have left her at 61, forever toiling around Mount Hyjal

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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