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WoW Archivist: Epics

Bulwark of Azzinoth
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?

Leveling through Draenor has been a blast, but as a player from classic WoW, a few things have struck me as incredibly strange. Triple-digit numbers in the guild panel. Sending NPCs to do quests on my behalf. And most of all, getting epic armor and weapons from solo leveling quests.

Many players in classic WoW (and not just raiders) opposed making epics more available to players. They called Blizzard's evolving attitude a slippery slope. "What's next," they argued, "epics for doing solo quests?" They never actually imagined that would happen. In 2005 it would have been unthinkable. Eight years later, here we are. But it's all been by design -- an evolving design with many steps along the way. Let's look at how we got here, one random drop at a time.

The few, the proud, the epic

In early classic WoW, only one path allowed you to deck out your character in purple items: 40-player raiding. Other raiding didn't cut it. Bosses in the 15-player (later 10-player) Upper Blackrock Spire dropped rares. Even bosses in the 20-player raids, Zul'Gurub and Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, dropped mostly rares when they first opened their instance portals. Only their end bosses consistently dropped epic loot.

Outside of 40-man raids, a handful of bosses had a very small chance to drop an epic item. Emperor Thaurissan in Blackrock Depths had a tiny chance to drop Ironfoe. The "tribute run" chest from Dire Maul very rarely offered up Treant's Bane -- and I'll never forget the joy in my warrior friend's voice when it dropped for him, all those years ago. DM was also the source of the highly coveted tanking weapon Quel'Serrar, but the quest item to obtain it had an incredibly low drop rate.

Back then, even the recipes to craft epics (such as the awesome Force Reactive Disk) could only be obtained from 40-player raids.

Even if you were raiding with 39 of your closest online friends, earning purples was no picnic. With two drops per boss at first, odds of getting an item on any given run were slim. You could complete a full clear without a single drop for your class and spec. Each epic you equipped generally represented several weeks of endgame effort. When a player sauntered through Orgrimmar or Ironforge in head-to-toe purples, players knew this was a person who had spent many, many hours on that character.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

The Queue: Looking back on 10 years of WoW

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.

Consider this one a slightly more personal Queue than most, because today's the start of WoW's 10th anniversary celebration, and that means telling a little story. That screenshot above is from just before I got my Sulfuras, which I still have - I've had it for eight years now. But I wouldn't have gotten it, or done any of the raiding I did then, or even played this game at all if not for the fact that WoW let me talk to Julian, my wife (she wasn't my wife yet then) when we were separated.

World of Warcraft was our means to stay in touch after we were parted for a while, and it became something we did together - we ran through Southshore and up to Scarlet Monastery together, back before you could just queue for dungeons, when the only way to get summoned was via a warlock. Before Blackwing Lair was even out, we ran Molten Core together. We were both guilded together, raided together, and before that we leveled together. World of Warcraft has been special for me entirely because of how it made a bad patch for the two of us better, let us share sunsets on the docks, let us camp that annoying Horde druid who kept ganking lowbies outside Southshore and just kill him until it wasn't any fun for him anymore. I proposed to Julian during a Molten Core run.

The game has been a part of our lives. It is just a game, admittedly so, but it's a game we shared, a game that we met friends in, a game we played together. A game where I was once forced to level a character entirely so I could stand in a swamp and cast Heroism so that my wife could tame a special rare pet.

It's been a heck of a decade, World of Warcraft. I might not be married if not for you. I certainly wouldn't have a job writing about you if you didn't exist. So thank you.

And now, for your questions.

Zheo asks:
QFTQ: Next expansion - Legion or something else?

I can guess if you want. I have absolutely no evidence to support this, I'm making up an answer based entirely on my personal beliefs, no one's told me anything - but I think it's pretty likely that at the end of this expansion we well and truly tick the Legion off. I would not be surprised if the next expansion was the Legion come around again.

That being said, I'd be okay with a completely different expansion. I still think a gnome themed expansion could work.

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Around Azeroth: Unfinished business

"Hey there, AA!" writes today's submitter. "It's me again, your old pal -- oh. Hmmm. Maybe I ought to keep my identity on the DL for this one. You can just call me ... Deep Gnome. You see, today's screenshots are extra secret. Really juicy. Eyes-only kind of stuff. And by "eyes-only" I guess I mean everyone's eyes, since I'm giving it to you to show everyone.

Anyway, on to the pictures. I was messing around in game and found myself seeing the future! Or rather, the past. Er ... the future of the past. Yeah. It's the unfinished Tanaan Jungle as it is in game right now! This is a screenshot of that classic fortress, Hellfire Citadel (Tanaan Citadel?) As you can see, it's partially untextured. There's little else of interest in the zone so far. There's one strange rock formation, but I didn't think it picture-worthy.

Anyway, I hope you liked this glimpse of the forbidden, but that's it for to- Oh, my God. They found me. I don't know how, but they found me. Run for it!"
[TRANSMISSION ENDED]

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: Happy birthday, WoW!

Admittedly, we're sending World of Warcraft its birthday wishes a little early -- the game officially launched on November 23rd, 2004 -- but since the 10th anniversary event kicks off today, it seems fair. Ten years is a good long run for any game, but Blizzard certainly isn't calling it quits yet.

Since we're celebrating it seems like a great time to look back on our time in WoW, so today let's talk about our favorite WoW memories. How long have you been playing? What's your first memory of World of Warcraft? And will you be joining in the anniversary events to celebrate the nostalgia?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Know Your Lore: Nobundo

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.

One of the fantastic things about Warlords of Draenor is getting to see the way history provides context for a life. By seeing how people have changed, and how they could have been we get a sense of how they are, as we know them - and for me one of the most fantastic changes to contemplate and understand is that of Vindicator Nobundo, a stalwart draenei paladin, who in a different life became Farseer Nobundo, first draenei shaman. Nobundo's story is one of overcoming horrific loss, enduring not just the destruction of his way of life but a corrosion of the body that threatened his very soul, and his ability to overcome and become someone who could inspire his people to a new path displays his strength of spirit.

The Vindicator Nobundo we meet on Draenor - the one who helps fight the Burning Legion forces in Talador, who comes to Nagrand to help calm the elements - has not endured the same trials as Farseer Nobundo. He has not come out the other side of seeing his people nearly destroyed, his body warped by fel energies, his connection to the Holy Light severed. And yet, he is Nobundo - he embodies everything the Farseer was, everything he lost to become who he is today.

So who is Farseer Nobundo? And who is Vindicator Nobundo?

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

The Queue: Dungeon difficulty, Dungeon Queues, Boost a warrior.

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.

I'm one of those people who liked Mists of Pandaria. I thought and still think that it was a solid, well designed, well developed expac with a lot of solid new lore, well designed content, and that its major flaws were a lack of dungeons as the expansion continued, some PvP issues, and that deadly year plus with no new content at the end. So while I'm heartened to see Warlords having a positive effect and people excited for it, I'm not down on the 'stupid pandas' trip a lot of people seem to be on. If you didn't like Pandaria, that's your call, but it doesn't make those of us who did less intelligent than you. It's just a matter of taste.

That said, I'm in a paraoxysm of joy over the draenei lore in this expansion. I haven't leveled Horde yet - my tauren's getting impatient, but I have so much to do on my main it doesn't feel like the right time yet. Draenor is an incredibly well designed and executed expansion so far. It's a joy to play through.

Bugboy asks:
Q4tQ: I haven't gotten into the new dungeons yet, but recall that, difficulty-wise, they're supposed to be somewhere between Cata and MoP. Is that about where they are?

I'm of the opinion (based both on my own experiences and those of my friends) that some dungeons are harder than others. Slag Mines has issues if you're melee, as an example. I'd definitely argue that they veer towards the Cataclysm side of things. Skyreach and Auchindoun didn't seem too bad.

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Around Azeroth: And the seas shall run red with blood or lava or ketchup or something

Submitter Yseora of Fights Like a Girl on Blackwater Raiders (US-A) writes, "I was running Dragon Soul a few weeks ago and at the end of the raid when Deathwing had been dealt with for the thousandth time, I couldn't help but notice how big and mysterious the whole area was and how little of it you could actually explore. Taking a swig out of my Filled Festive Mug, I ran and jumped off the edge, hoping to get to another rock. Obviously, I wasn't able to make it that far, but I was able to get to the middle of The Maelstrom. Having a rare view of the surrounding area and of Thrall/The Dragon Aspects, it was interesting to see Deathwing's view and how small even the most powerful beings in Azeroth really are."

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: The Warlords surge

The other night, while recording the WoW Insider Show podcast, we talked about the general feeling we had that subscriptions to World of Warcraft had gone up. The basic consensus was that our friend's lists were full, we were seeing lots of people online for the first time in a while, that in general WoW had almost certainly seen a sub bump. We weren't expecting a three million sub jump, though. And it seems likely that Blizzard wasn't expecting it either - while some of the launch problems were the fault of a DDoS attack, some were undoubtedly the result of this unprecedented player surge.

This got me to thinking about what it means that Warlords saw this many people come back. We've talked a lot about the plot being hard for some folks to follow, but just as clearly, that didn't stop people from coming back. WoW dropped below 10 million subs back in 2012, during the Cataclysm expansion.

I don't personally think that WoW needs 10 million subs to be viable - not even close, in fact. Even at its lowest sub numbers this year it had more than two million subs over its Burning Crusade number of 5 million subs, and more than seven times its competitors. WoW is a phenomenon, and one that will continue as long as Blizzard wants to support it. But it's interesting to see this jump - what is it about Warlords that got players to come back?


Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

Around Azeroth: Postcards from Draenor

Submitter Pinkbunnie of Azeroth Alliance Raiders on Ghostlands (EU-A) continues her adventures on Draenor! In this picture, taken to send home to her parents in Gnomeregan, she poses with some of her new orc friends. They don't seem particularly happy to be showing their giant strategic map to a member of the Alliance, much less a filthy pink gnomelette, but they'll get over it. At least she's having a good time.

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: Old familiar faces

One of the biggest thrills of this expansion for me has been running into slightly different versions of people I already know. If you rolled a draenei shaman (as I did) back in the BC days, one of the big figures is Nobundo, the hero of the Unbroken short story. He's one of my favorite characters. So going to Draenor and seeing him still as a Vindicator, not affected by the fel energies that twisted him into a broken, it was an emotional moment for me. I really had a moment of 'aw, Nobundo' when I saw him.

Have you had any such moments in Warlords? Or do you barely know who any of these guys are?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

WoW Rookie guide updated with garrison guides

If you're just jumping into WoW -- or back into WoW -- for Warlords of Draenor, you may be a little lost when it comes to the addition of garrisons to the game. But whether you're trying to figure out what to build or how to best gather resources, we've put together a section of the Rookie Guide that's all about garrisons. And for the players just hitting level 100 and trying to decide what next, we have a section to help out new to 100 players, too. So why wait? Head over to the Rookie Guide and get caught up on what's new in Warlords of Draenor now.

Of course, Warlords of Draenor is still brand new and there will be more content on both of these fronts in the weeks to come. If you have burning questions about what to do or where to go in Warlords, send them our way and we'll look into covering it for a future WoW Rookie!
Just because you don't know everything there is to know about World of Warcraft doesn't mean you can't play your A-game. Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new (or returning) player, with new sections on garrisons and what to do at level 100.

Filed under: WoW Rookie, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: DDoS, WoW's population spike, and flying


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky (@adamholisky) will be your host today.

I've only answered two questions in the Queue today. Enjoy.

Keleli asked:

Are the DDoS attacks still ongoing or are these queues the norm now?

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Filed under: The Queue

Around Azeroth: There can only be two

"I've been making headway against the Iron Horde, but it seemed for every step forward, I'd take two back," writes submitter Dimmak of Gilneas (US-A). "I turned to my adviser Khadgar looking for help. He just shrugged off my worries though, making a joke about keeping my cool. Then he pulled out an iCrystal. 'Vargi? Yeah it's Kargi. Could you pop over to Draenor for a bit? No, my Draenor not yours. 'Kay, thanks, you're the best, buh-bye.' He tucked his iCrystal away and before he could finish saying 'Help is on the way,' poof, there he was. You know things are getting savagely dangerous when one Archmage is just not enough."

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: Your favorite Draenor characters

With Warlords of Draenor, we have a whole new cast of characters in WoW... as well as the return of some classic characters of Warcraft lore. And while we haven't had quite enough time with the expansion to play through every quest and turn over every rock, we've probably played long enough to have decided on some favorites amongst the cast.

So this morning, let's talk characters. Who's your favorite member of the cast of Warlords? For my part -- and the part, no doubt, of many alliance players -- I've got to nominate Yrel, who is going to push me over the edge into making a draenei paladin so I can help bring the Light to the Iron Horde. (In 90 levels, anyway.) But what about you, readers? Do you have a favorite of the new characters Warlords has brought to the game? Or are you enjoying an old character that particularly shines?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

The Queue: Exploration, garrison resources, and more

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.

After the long drought, we now have a deluge of Warlords of Draenor questions. And I couldn't be happier.

ArthurN asked:

Is there supposed to be an easy way for Horde to get into Shadowmoon Valley? I had a Garrison quest to tame an animal in Shadowmoon Valley. I made it in, even picked up a flight path with the Shadowmoon Exiles (they were yellow to me instead of red like everyone else in the zone). But I had to run around the coastline a bit to find some passable beach. The only way in by land that I found was guarded by Alliance. Am I missing something? And is it similarly tricky for Alliance to get into Frostfire Ridge?

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

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