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Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The curious neutrality of Anduin Wrynn

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition The curious neutrality of Anduin Wrynn
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.

Prince Anduin Llane Wrynn is the sole heir to Stormwind's throne. Named after Varian's father, the beloved King Llane, and the hero of all heroes, Anduin Lothar, he's got two major figures to live up to. Yet rather than turn down the path of Lothar's heroics, he seems to be gravitating towards the direction that King Llane ultimately followed: A beloved leader, one who treated all in his kingdom with kindness and respect, up to and including Garona -- a member of the Old Horde who by all rights, despite her background as a half-breed, was still the face of the enemy.

And in the end, that spelled King Llane's undoing. His trust was his weakness, and it resulted in his assassination. King Llane died in part because of the machinations of the Shadow Council, but in even larger part because he simply didn't exercise caution like he should. King Llane's death is a cautionary tale that his son Varian took to heart -- but Varian's son is a different story altogether. Anduin Wrynn presents a peculiar puzzle that has yet to be fully explained.

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on what is to come as a result. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Poll: Do you cheat on your faction?

Poll Do you cheat on your faction
We all know how it starts. A stolen glance across the sands of Silithus. That moment where you eyes meet, a shared second in the Deeprun Tram as you chase your foe back down the tunnel with your finger hovering over the Hammer of Wrath, but hesitate to hurl it home. You know your past, your history, your ambitions, you're a draenei, you're a member of the Alliance, it's all so clear. But somewhere, somewhere there's a longing for something more. Something different. Something... green.

And before you know it, you're being catapulted from Kezan into a new world, a world of orcs and blood elves, of trolls and tauren, of bloodlust rather than heroism. It's new, it's exciting, but is it anything more than just a fleeting visit? Can you really stay in this place, with the in-fighting and the slums and the ramshackle, riotous city of Orgrimmar as your home?

Have you ever cheated on your faction? Been deepsing with the enemy? You're far from alone. It's certainly safe to say that some players are like swans: when it comes to factions, they mate for life. But others are like sparrows, flitting from faction to faction. If you're a sparrow rather than a swan, are your dalliances with the dark side flippant flings, or full-blown affairs? Are you truly bi-factional, or will one always take precedence, always be your home and your heart?
Do you cheat on your faction?
Yes2646 (59.6%)
No1796 (40.4%)

Filed under: Humor

Know Your Lore: Is Garrosh Hellscream corrupt?

Know Your Lore Is Garrosh Hellscream corrupt
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.

As the expansion rolls on, we are lurching towards something that we've known was coming since the beta for Mists of Pandaria -- Garrosh Hellscream's downfall and the Siege of Orgrimmar. Yet what we didn't know that day that were were informed of the expansions focus, is just how the new Warchief's reign would end. And as the patches have continued to roll out, we have more of an idea and a solid picture of both the Alliance and the Horde's place in this conflict. Make no mistake, Hellscream has made far too many enemies in his short reign, both within and without.

Yet there are those who point out Garrosh's actions and the possibility that his actions may not be under his control. That perhaps he's been corrupted by the Sha while searching for power in Pandaria. Or perhaps the bones of Mannoroth that Garrosh uses as his throne still have some vestige of darkness that lingers within. Or that perhaps the Old Gods have been slowly leeching their influence into Garrosh. Regardless of the methods behind it, there are plenty of people all wondering the same thing -- is Garrosh Hellscream corrupt? Are we going to fight the Warchief, only to discover a far greater horror waiting for us?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The Queue: Not an opera

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.

Today's Queue is not about opera. Rejoice.

Donald asked:

Alex, I was reading your post on what the Alliance is missing. As a Horde player, it felt like our faction could use similar things like more familiar faces questing etc. How would you feel if the horde got the same treatment?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Another take: What is the Alliance missing?

Another take What is the Alliance missing
Yesterday, our own Anne Stickney posted an article here on WoW Insider asking -- and trying to explain -- what the Alliance is missing in its lore, story, and gameplay. In some aspects, I agreed. In others, I did not, as any person will. We all have our own opinions and preferences when it comes to gameplay. I've been playing Alliance since World of Warcraft launched, and I've spent nearly as long contemplating why the Alliance feels so flat compared to the Horde. As long as I have this soapbox to stand on, I'm going to use it.

Action and reaction

Anne brought up the topic of active vs. proactive stories. I'm glad she did, because Anne and I discussed it together before that article was written. I want to reiterate it, because I feel it's the most important issue at hand. This problem has been made obvious in Mists of Pandaria and Cataclysm before it: the Alliance doesn't seem to have a story of its own. The Alliance has been written as a reactive entity, not proactive. On the other hand, the Horde is almost entirely proactive. The Alliance's actions only happen in the context of the Horde, but the Horde forges its own path. Take Mists of Pandaria, for example. Why is the Alliance on Pandaria? Because the Horde got there first. Why is the Alliance bringing down Garrosh Hellscream? Because Vol'jin began his rebellion and we chose to aid him and follow his lead.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Know Your Lore: What is the Alliance missing?

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.

Alliance lore and the Alliance storyline in general have both been subjects of contention since some point early in Cataclysm, and the complaints don't seem to be getting any quieter. In the upcoming patch 5.3, the Alliance will be taking a direct hand in the events playing out near Orgrimmar, but not in the way you would readily expect. And oddly, this has Alliance players worked up in a near frenzy on realm and story forums, bitter and angry about the direction the Alliance storyline has been taking and repeatedly demanding more.

And it is incredibly difficult to understand just what all the fuss is about. There isn't a tangible moment that one can point to, there isn't a cohesive example of what has been happening. There's just a sense of unhappiness that is, to Alliance players, absolutely real. So this week, we're going to take a slightly different route for Know Your Lore. We're going to look at the nuts and bolts behind Mists of Pandaria, the Alliance, and the story so far. And we're going to do so in as analytical and constructive a manner as possible, to try and find that specific what-happened that seems to be bothering so many players.

Let's take a deep breath, dive in, and ask ourselves not "what is wrong," but instead, "what is the Alliance missing?"

Please note: Today's Know Your Lore contains some spoilers for patch 5.3 content. If you're trying to avoid spoilers, you may want to turn away.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Patch 5.3 PTR: Vol'jin and the Darkspear Rebellion

Patch 53 PTR Vol'jin and the Darkspear Rebellion
When I began playing Horde sometime in 2005, I vividly remember running through the barren hills of Durotar and completing the quests. According to the quests, I was just a new character that may or may not have the potential to be a hero someday -- and I felt suitably lowly, yet willing to help out. But I tell you what, I never, ever in a million years expected to be at Vol'jin's side, leading a fleet of angry Darkspear on a charge through the shallow canyons to Razor Hill, and eventually Orgrimmar itself.

It may just be on the PTR for now, but it is seriously one of the most sweeping, awesome, coolest moments I can remember in all the years I've been playing this game.

Vol'jin's back in Kalimdor, and he's ticked. But then, being the target of an assassination attempt ordered by the Warchief of the Horde is probably more than enough to make anyone cranky. If there's anything we're learning in patch 5.3, it's that while the Darkspear may be small, they are far from helpless -- and kicking that bees' nest is an action that will ultimately be sorely regretted. Both Horde and Alliance are on the prowl in patch 5.3, but the stories on each side of the faction fence look very, very different in patch 5.3, although the goal at hand is ultimately the same.

Please note: This post discusses patch 5.3 content. If you're avoiding spoilers, turn away now.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Vol'jin and conflicted loyalties

Know Your Lore Vol'jin and conflicted loyalties
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.
"Why?" a voice asked. Vol'jin felt the voice in his bones; it rumbled inside him. "Why you lead our people to subjugation? Surely it be better to fight alone an' proud, to die alone an' proud." "No," Vol'jin said, thinking it through. "De Darkspears should always be free an' proud. But we got to be alive to be free. If we dead, we lost. Better to bide our time, to endure. We be an ancient race, mon, and we endure."
Vol'jin may have been abruptly thrown into the role of leader for the Darkspear tribe, but that doesn't mean he wasn't prepared for it. The leader of the Darkspear is far more clever than one would think. And although he readily agreed to think over what Thrall had said regarding Garrosh Hellscream, it seems in Mists of Pandaria that the conclusion he's come to is that while Thrall's intentions may have been good, the placement of Garrosh as Warchief of the Horde was an error ... one that needs to be corrected.

All around Azeroth, the Horde is crumbling to pieces, and the blame lies on the actions of Garrosh Hellscream. Yet how can Vol'jin justify turning his back on the Horde, leading the Darkspear into the unknown? How can Vol'jin justify his actions in Cataclysm, Mists, and the upcoming release of patch 5.3?

Please note: Today's Know Your Lore contains some brief spoilers for patch 5.3 content. If you're trying to avoid spoilers, you may want to turn away.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The Horde rebellion, loyalty, and leadership

imposting garrosh
Loyalty, and its limits, are pretty big underlying themes in WoW's current story arc. As of patch 5.1, the WoW poster child for complex loyalties and their consequences is Aethas Sunreaver. Aethas has a divided heart. He is a blood elf (and was, once upon a time, a high elf) and as such, he is loyal to Quel'Thalas. But he is also a citizen of Dalaran, it's his adopted homeland, and he also wishes to be loyal to Dalaran. These are loyalties he has tried to juggle for three expansions now, and they finally, inevitably, came to a head. Aethas' failure in patch 5.1 lies in either his own arrogance or naivete, that he couldn't see the truth: in this day and age, in Azeroth, those loyalties were irreconcilable. Once Quel'Thalas had decided to ally with the Horde, a longtime enemy of Dalaran, it was only a matter of time before that political division bore consequences for individuals. Aethas' own refusal to choose is ultimately what led to his choice being forced.

I feel for Aethas, in this sense. I sympathize with his impulse toward reconciliation. Why shouldn't he have tried? History was on his side. Quel'Thalas and Dalaran have, in fact, been traditional allies for quite a long time, much longer than they have been enemies. I don't think his hope was unreasonable, but it did turn out to be impossible. There is just too much bad blood - on many sides - for any sort of truce to exist at this point, and it will likely be a very long time before those wounds are healed enough for bridges to be rebuilt. Sometimes compromise just isn't an option.

Fair warning: there are minor spoilers for patch 5.3 below the cut.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

War is All Hell: The use of moral ambiguity in Warcraft

There's a long-standing rumor that Winston Churchill allowed the bombing of Coventry, even though he could have prevented it via intelligence gathered by cracking German war codes, in order to preserve the advantage of having cracked those codes. Is it true? I have no idea. More important for our discussion, however, is the idea of that decision. Imagine a leader having to decide to sacrifice civilians in order to preserve an advantage that might well win the entire conflict. It's often called the brutal algebra of warfare - you lose 10 million here, so that 20 million will live over there. You send a company off to die so that a regiment can survive and accomplish its mission. One of the great horrors of war is not just that people die, but that other people have to countenance their deaths.

One of my biggest problems with the Alliance/Horde conflict is that so far, it hasn't really demonstrated this idea. We've gotten to see the consequences of war - the survivors crying out for vengeance, settlements and towns destroyed, cities bombed, even the ruthless pragmatism of a leader willing to find and use any weapon he can to destroy his enemies. But while Garrosh Hellscream has played the role of relentless aggressor to the hilt, his opposite number hasn't shown how far he's willing to go. Varian Wrynn's participation in the 'A Little Patience' scenario shows that he's a more measured and contemplative leader than he once was, but we've yet to see just how extreme the measures he's willing to countenance are. So far, the only time the Alliance was willing to make morally questionable choices to win was in Dalaran, actions that were clearly the work of Jaina Proudmoore and Vereesa Windrunner. However you personally found those actions, it can't be denied that they not only advanced the story but showed a new side to Alliance leadership.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.2: Wrathion and the legendary chain

Patch 52, Wrathion, and the legendary chain
Wrathion's waiting for you, friends. If you have completed all the steps so far in the legendary chain, Wrathion will have some new tasks for you to complete in patch 5.2. While we still aren't entirely certain whether or not he's telling the truth about his motives -- or even whether those motives are bad or good -- we can be absolutely certain of one thing. As long as we help Wrathion, Wrathion keeps handing over the goods. And you can't really argue with that!

Last patch, Wrathion pitted Alliance against Horde in Krasarang Wilds and had us gleefully murdering the opposing faction in an attempt to discover who the true heroes and hearts of the Alliance and Horde really were. While it seems counterproductive to murder the army you're trying to gather together, Wrathion rewarded us with a nice socket for our time. In patch 5.2, Wrathion's concerns have shifted -- and his rewards are worth the effort.

Please note that there are potential minor spoilers for patch 5.2 after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Jaina Proudmoore and the Kirin Tor

Know Your Lore Jaina Proudmoore and the Kirin Tor SUN
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 most players, the Kirin Tor are simply one of many factions available during Wrath of the Lich King. They ran the city of Dalaran, once located just north of the Hillsbrad Foothills, then later relocated to Northrend. In Wrath, players both Alliance and Horde could earn reputation with the Kirin Tor -- the Kirin Tor didn't have a faction bias. They were quite happily a neutral organization, far more interested in matters of magic and learning than any political matters.

But there is far more to the story of the Kirin Tor, and to the city-state of Dalaran. And now that the Kirin Tor has a new leader, it's taking those first few steps away from neutrality and into alignment. Because of this, the Kirin Tor has stepped into a dangerous new light, one with some ethical questions that are far, far more political than one would expect from a collection of mages and intellectuals united under one banner.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: The evolution of Varian Wrynn

Know Your Lore The evolution of Varian Wrynn
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.

We can't really take a good look at Garrosh Hellscream without taking a look at his Alliance counterpart, King Varian Wrynn. Varian is an enigma in his own right, although for different reasons than Garrosh. Where Garrosh was a character that was introduced and shown in every aspect in the game itself, Varian is notable for being ... absent. He wasn't there for vanilla WoW. He wasn't there for Burning Crusade. Varian didn't make his first appearance in game until the launch event for Wrath of the Lich King, and exploded onto the scene with an attitude that threw a lot of players off.

Where Garrosh saw all of his development play out in-game, even the odd disconnected moments, Varian saw his play out through a series of comics and novels. Most of his history is a big question mark to many players. While not quite as big an unknown as Lor'themar Theron, people still wonder -- who is this guy? Where did he come from, and why was he so angry when he returned? And perhaps most importantly -- where did he turn from angry leader in the Ulduar cinematic to the far more patient leader we're seeing in Mists?

Oddly enough, his story and Garrosh's mirror each other far more than you'd think.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Patch 5.2 PTR: The return of the unlockable Isle

Patch 52 PTR The return of the unlockable Isle
For a brief moment in time, it looked as though the Krasarang Wilds in patch 5.1 were going to be a return, albeit a slightly tweaked one, to the days of Halaa in Burning Crusade. This ended up very much not being the case, but the area still acted somewhat like a fond reminder of the days of open-world PvP. However, patch 5.2 seems to be bringing back yet more of that Burning Crusade nostalgia with the Isle of Thunder -- an island that contains elements that will be unlocked over time.

Sounds suspiciously like the Isle of Quel'Danas, doesn't it? Well, there are a few notable changes to the dynamic. Because the Horde and Alliance are working separately this time, instead of united under the banner of the Shattered Sun Offensive, each faction gets their own progress bar towards unlocking goals. You can see a glimpse of the progress bar above. As players complete daily quests and objectives, the bar will fill up. Once it's full, another section of the Isle will unlock for players to explore.

Blizzard recently released an Under Development guide to patch 5.2 that clarifies this concept a little further.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Mists of Pandaria is our Emerald Dream expansion

Back in the days of vanilla, life was very much about exploration. Even though the world of Azeroth was admittedly massive, there were still areas players couldn't get to -- tantalizing areas that were made inaccessible either by steep mountain faces, or simply being someplace under the world map where no one could get to. One of these areas was the Emerald Dream, shown above. Despite not being in the game as playable content, the zones still existed.

This led to all kinds of speculation about an upcoming Emerald Dream expansion. Players assumed that these files meant that we were eventually headed for the lush green lands of Ysera and her amazing druid friends. Yet despite the presence of the maps, it never happened. Ysera is now devoid of her powers as of the end of Cataclysm, whatever that implies towards her relationship with the Emerald Dream. By Cataclysm, it became apparent that whatever mysteries those old maps held, the Emerald Dream was just an idea lost in time.

Or was it? Maybe we're playing through the Emerald Dream right now.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

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