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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore TFH: First the ripples, then the stone

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.

For my last KYL, a hat made of tinfoil. You know the drill - for the farewell of this column, Anne and I are going to go out speculating. This one's mine. You might want to read this old KYL to get a handle on the concepts I'm going to be throwing around. The idea is simple enough to start with, however. We know that at some point in the distant past, over twenty five thousand years ago, the fallen Titan Sargeras sought out a world whose inhabitants were powerful, with great potential for magic. Their culture was ancient - so very ancient that it had already risen and fallen and risen again, creating not one, but two golden ages. They were the eredar. Sargeras's offer was accepted, and the majority of the race along with two of the three triumvirs that ruled Argus entire became man'ari, corrupted.

Barely a tenth of the race resisted and escaped, led by Velen and aided by the naaru, who sent the mighty Genedar, a dimension ship, to rescue them from this corruption. Velen first contacted the naaru using the Ata'mal Crystal, an ancient artifact of their people which was said to be a relic of their distant past. This has always interested me - the Ata'mal Crystal is said to be an eredar relic, yet it summons the naaru and their dimension ship, and when it is used in this fashion it shatters into seven fragments, each of which manifest strange new powers when used properly.

Where am I going with this? Well, Sargeras was a Titan. Like all Titans, he has strange and almost unfathomable powers, and he seeks to undo the works of his fellow Titans, his former friends and allies in the Pantheon. He sought out the eredar - he went looking for them. This has always struck me as interesting, because the eredar resemble a race created by the Titans here on Azeroth, namely the mogu.

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

Know Your Lore: Cinematics, character development, and story in 2014

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.

Last week, we began to take a look at 2014 in review for World of Warcraft -- not from a general game standpoint, but from the standpoint of lore and story development. While we had some written material and media released midway through the year, in game the year didn't really get started until the release of patch 6.0 and the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. But despite only being out for a little over a month, Warlords has made an pretty sizeable impression so far.

From a perspective of sheer story delivery, the leveling game in the new expansion is hands down the best thing Blizzard has ever delivered. There's not really more than a moment or two that you aren't being hammered with story from one direction or another, whether it's the unique struggles of two different factions on two different sides of the world as they establish their bases on Draenor, or the struggles of Draenor's natives as they deal with threats from the Iron Horde and beyond. Obviously, quests are everything -- what else contributed to lore in 2014?

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

Know Your Lore: Breakout Characters of 2014, Part One

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.

Since 2014 saw the end of one expansion and the beginning of another, it's actually got quite a list of characters that got an expanded role in the lore. Some of these are fairly predictable, and others less so. Since I like to talk about lore (it's what the column is about) I decided to round up some of the ones I found the most interesting. I've set myself a few arbitrary rules for this. One, Mists of Pandaria characters are fair game. I know the last patch was in 2013, I don't care. Secondly, they had to do something in terms of story. Sorry, Varian, but you really didn't do much at all in Siege and you haven't done much in Warlords, either.

This isn't listed by priority - the last character we talk about isn't more or less important than the first. So let's get down to brass tacks - who do I think broke out in the past year? (If somehow you still haven't had any exposure to Warlords of Draenor's story, be warned, Here Are Spoilers.)

Vol'jin
This one is kind of borderline for me - while he certainly took a big role in the end of Mists of Pandaria, he hasn't done a whole lot yet in Warlords. But I think it's an indisputable fact that Vol'jin's mere presence as a non-orc (a troll, even) atop the Horde power structure is a very significant change in terms of what it means for the Horde going forward. Before Vol'jin's rise to power, there had only been four warchiefs, two from the old Horde and two for the new, and all were orcs - the institution of warchief itself was an orcish one, brought over from Draenor when the Horde invaded.

No other change in the history of the Horde has done more to draw a strong line of demarcation between past and present. The ascension of Vol'jin says to the world of Azeroth (and beyond it) that the Horde is no longer Orcs and their Amazing Friends, but instead a collective of races banded together for mutual survival, and one where no particular race predominates (at least in theory). We have yet to see how successful Vol'jin is in the role, but he definitely changes the status quo dramatically for the Horde.

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

Tuesday will be a normal server reset

I've been asked several times if we're going to have a server reset this Tuesday, and I assumed we were, but I didn't actually know. Because people have asked me, I decided to settle this question by the most expedient manner possible - I asked Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas. I'd do this more often, but frankly I think he has better things to do than tell me what color shoes I should buy.

So there you have it - are we going to have a normal server reset this tuesday, and a last two days to farm those old raids, run SoO for Heirlooms, or whatever? All signs point to yes. Enjoy your last two days in Pandaria, guys. Midnight pacific time on Thursday morning, we're all off to Draenor.

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

World of Warcraft: Looking for Group documentary debuts at BlizzCon

This Saturday during BlizzCon, we're going to get to take a look at a new documentary about World of Warcraft, with a lot of familiar faces (seriously, the trailer alone is packed with celebrities) and an interesting perspective on how WoW took what was a pretty niche market in MMO's and made them a lot more mainstream.

My first reaction was "Wow, that's a heck of a Garona cosplay!" Which is why I headed up the post with that picture. Seriously, she looks more like Garona than Garona does. WHoever you are, Garona cosplayer, please let me know so I can put your name in this post. But beyond that, as someone who's been playing for ten years, I found it amazing to see it all laid out like that, how we were all just stumbling our way through the game, having no idea what it was or what it would lead to.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Why updated graphics matter

What you see above is the result of time marching on - in my draenei's right hand is Sulfuras, the Extinguished Hand, a drop from Firelands. In the left hand, Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros, the legendary drop from the original Molten Core. (Yes, I know technically it doesn't drop, the Eye drops, you craft a Sulfuron Hammer and then use the Eye on it, I've had the thing since MC I know how I got it.) What I'm showing you is essentially the orderly progression of time via graphic upgrades - you can essentially see the history of the game unfolding via the difference between these two weapons.

Everything from the spikes to the grip to the shape of the head, it's all more detailed and crisp on the newer model. The older model is a collection of polygonal shapes that bear only a vague resemblance to a hammer compared to the newer model, which is itself still not as good as models we have in the game now, never mind some of the Warlords drops we're about to see. The gap between these two hammers is the gap between 2004 and 2011, and here we are, three years later than that - and they show us how much a ten year old game can in fact change.

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

Honor gain increased for resource gathering in battlegrounds

There's been a bit of discussion and consternation about how honor gains are working currently. Rygarius posted to clarify how they're working (turns out there was no bonus honor at the beginning of patch 6.0.2, which was later mistakenly hotfixed to apply bonus honor to all battlegrounds, when it was intended for random BG's only) and that fixing the hotfix error was what had caused people to mistakenly think they weren't be awarded the proper honor. In the middle of that discussion, Rygarius shared the following.

Rygarius - What's Going On With Honor?
Wanted to give a heads-up that there's a hotfix being worked on (no ETA but soon without the TM) to increase the amount of Honor gains for Arathi Basin, Deepwind Gorge, Eye of the Storm, and The Battle for Gilneas. We're changing it so Honor is awarded for every 150 resources gathered (up from Honor awarding for every 250 resources gathered).


That's an interesting change and one I approve of - one of the things I dislike about that style of BG is how they can suck you into a prolonged and pointless battle (you know you're going to lose) and people stop even trying to take and hold places. With the resource gain now more strongly tied to honor points, maybe people will be more inclined to do their best.

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

How I came to love the Timeless Isle

I make it no secret that I don't have much love for Mists of Pandaria. For reasons I haven't been able to quantify, most of it bored me beyond belief. I can make some guesses, but no individual thing clicks with me as the reason, though all of it combined may be the cause: the tedium of daily quests in the earliest stages of the expansion, the lack of new 5-man dungeons in content patches, a general disinterest in the renewed faction war, and not being compelled by the story or aesthetic elements that formed Pandaria. I kept on trucking through those early months, and I did find some fun in it, but the fun faded quickly and I found myself less and less engaged throughout the expansion. Because of that, I ignored many of the expansion's later additions, particularly the Timeless Isle. When it released, I poked around on the island, but left quickly. Now, in the final stretch of the expansion, I gave the Timeless Isle another shot ... and realized too late that it's wonderful.

One of the things I once loved about World of Warcraft was the daily choice between structured and unstructured gameplay. If I wanted to go questing, I could do so -- and Blizzard's quest design has consistently improved since the game's launch. If I didn't want to quest, just screw around solo and fight monsters, that option was available, and not only available, but rewarding. That changed over time.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Did you miss in Pandaria?: BFFs with Huggalon

Huggalon
Looking to build toward 150 toys for the Toymaster achievement? There's an easily obtainable toy in Townlong Steppes, but it's quite hidden, and also ... kind of disturbing.

In the caves beneath Niuzao Temple lurks an ancient watcher, apparently from the same Titan brand as Archavon. His name is Huggalon the Heart Watcher. He looks just like the Wrath-era raid boss, if you ignore the giant purple bow on his head. And you should.

To find him, enter the caves on the west side of the island. Take the first right and follow the right-hand walls. Just before you pass through an entrance lit by glowing beetles, you'll see a small passage up and to the right. At the end of this passage, Huggalon waits. You won't see a rare icon on your map because he is not a rare spawn.

He's easily soloable in Siege of Orgrimmar gear, but feel free to bring friends if you might need backup. He does hit hard against cloth and has a decent chunk of health. Or, you can give this lonely giant the hug he yearns for and walk away.

If you opt for murder, you'll be rewarded with the B.F.F. Necklace. You can place it in your toybox and then choose a player to be Friends Forever! with once per day. But honestly, who wants to be friends with a cold-blooded killer like you?

While you're in the cave, keep an eye out for Fragment of Dread, part of the Riches of Pandaria achievement.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Patch 6.0.2: How to queue for UBRS at 90

Players are of course salivating at the idea of exploring the first new content we've seen in World of Warcraft since Patch 5.4 dropped well over a year ago. That being said, it's worth remembering that there are always issues on patch day of a big new patch like 6.0.2, and also that this particular dungeon is a special case - it's a dungeon that will ultimately be for level 100 players, and we're getting a taste of it now at level 90. So it's worth keeping the following in mind.
So remember, when you're trying to run UBRS when the servers come back up, please keep these two facts in mind, as it will make your experience more pleasant. And also remember, this is new content tuned for ilevel 510 and up - if you've been steamrolling Mists of Pandaria dungeons for a while, those were tuned for much lower gear requirements. Maybe slow your roll a tiny bit until you get the feel of the place.

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

Last minute ideas for your justice points


Justice points are going away forever, perhaps as soon as next Tuesday. You can hold onto them and get the gold conversion if you want. They'll net you 47 silver per point, or 1880 gold for a full cap of 4000. It's a decent chunk of change, but there may be a few things you want to purchase with them while you still can.

The most obvious one is heirlooms. PvE heirlooms will be unavailable from the justice point vendors in 6.0, and your only option to get those will be to spend Darkmoon Prize Tickets at the Darkmoon Faire or Champion's Seals at the Argent Tournament. These heirlooms will return in another form sometime in the future, just not for 6.0.

The one you may have missed is the Reins of the Wooly Mammoth mount sold in Dalaran. If you're trying to pad your mount collection for the collection achievements and you still don't have this one, it's a good way to spend your points. It costs 2175 justice points, or a little over 1,000 gold after the conversion. Once 6.0 hits, this mount is going to cost 8,000 gold instead of justice points. Now is the time to get it.

The last thing is useful if you didn't play much at level cap during Wrath of the Lich King. The commendation badges for the various Wrath reputations are being removed completely. They only cost a mere 16 justice points for 520 reputation points and are also sold in Dalaran. There's badges available for Wyrmrest Accord, Sons of Hodir, Kirin Tor, Argent Crusade, and Knights of the Ebon Blade. It's a quick way to get exalted with these factions. Again, there are some mounts you may be interested in from both Wyrmrest Accord and Sons of Hodir which require revered or exalted reputation. It's certainly quicker than grinding out those reputations the old fashioned way.

All other items which currently cost justice points should cost gold in 6.0, so you don't have to worry about missing out on any potential transmog opportunities.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Patch 6.0: Treasure room keys removed

If you're trying to get the achievement In The Hall Of The Thunder King, get working on it not, because as soon as Patch 6.0 drops the achievement becomes a Feat of Strength, and the key will no longer drop. That's the word from Kaivax on the forums.

Kaivax - Treasure Room Achievement -> Feat of Strength
n WoW Patch 6.0.2, we will be retiring the Achievement In The Hall Of The Thunder King, as the treasure room will no longer be accessible. That achievement will become a Feat of Strength, and Elder Charm of Good Fortune will drop in place of the key to the room.


I admit I don't understand the reasoning behind this. First the legendary cloak, then the Brawler's Guild, and now the Treasure Room, all effectively removed in a few weeks. Seems strange to see so much content going inaccessible like this. But you've been warned, so if you're working on this, get a move on.

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

PvP Season 15 to end "in a couple of weeks"

For those of us waiting with bated breath (look it up, that's how it's spelled) for any idea of when Patch 6.0 will be dropping, the answer is soon. Blizzard has done a warning post for the end of the season, and in their own words, it's not far off.

After many grueling bouts in the Arenas and Battlegrounds, the time has nearly come to see who will reign supreme in this action-packed PvP season. Prepare to fight your last battles, and remember-to the victors go the spoils!

Arena and Rated Battleground Season 15 will be coming to an end in a couple of weeks. Once the season wraps, we'll begin an approximately two week process to determine end-of-season reward eligibility.

So, since today was a rolling restart maintenance day, it's fair to speculate that it'll be two weeks into October, most likely October 14th, when Patch 6.0 drops. That falls into line with the usual month between the pre-expansion patch and the actual expansion that we saw in Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria.

Please remember, if you're an Arena/Rated BG player waiting for your end of the season rewards, to not transfer your character to another realm until after the PvP season has ended if you want to remain eligible.

Filed under: News items, PvP, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Who is the Celestial Tournament for?

Wrathion's pet battle team
As we wait (and wait) for new content to arrive, I've been fiddling around in the game with all the things I never bothered to do before. I got my Sha'tari Skyguard rep to exalted for the creepy nether ray mounts. I hunted the treasures of Pandaria. I completed a full circuit of gold challenge mode runs. And most recently I've been doing pet battles. My goal was to start completing the Celestial Tournament every week so I could eventually earn all four celestial pets.

I took my first stab at it this week. The first time I tried to enter the scenario, I was disappointed to learn that you had to level 15 pets to 25, not just possess them. The two that I'd purchased on the auction house didn't help me get there. Extra level grinding was required. I came back with 17 max-level pets and thought I'd have more than enough to beat the tourney and start adopting baby immortal spirit animals. Boy was I wrong.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Reminder: Get your content cleared before 6.0.2

Blizzard posted a reminder earlier this week regarding several features that will either be changed or removed from the game entirely in patch 6.0.2. While we don't at present time have a release date set for the introductory patch of Warlords of Draenor, it would still be in your best interests to complete the content now, rather than waiting and possibly missing out for good. And of course, removed content means those achievements you've gathered will be filed away as either Legacy achievements, or Feats of Strength in the upcoming expansion.

Challenge Modes should be top priority if you've got your eyes on those Mists of Pandaria sets, because they will no longer be available as of 6.0.2 -- the phoenix mounts will also be going away, although players that have earned one of the mounts will have access to all variations. Players looking for heirloom weapons from Garrosh Hellscream should hop to it, as those will also be removed once Warlords of Draenor is released in November. In addition, the Brawler's Guild will be taking a hiatus once patch 6.0.2 hits -- the bosses and encounters in the Brawler's Guild will be re-tuned for level 100. However, if you've already gained access to the Brawler's Guild, you'll still retain that access when the new expansion launches -- no need to dig up another invite.

Lastly, if you have not started the legendary cloak quest chain by patch 6.0.2, you'll no longer be able to obtain it. Players already on the chain will still retain the quests, although they will be slightly altered, as the section of the chain that requires players to collect Valor Points will be gone altogether with the removal of Valor Points in 6.0.2. For more information on changes and removals with the arrival of both patch 6.0.2 and Warlords of Draenor itself, take a look at Blizzard's full post on the official site.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

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