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Know Your Lore: The Troll Wars

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 past is prologue.
Melodramatic, perhaps, but it bears stating. The world of Azeroth, known to us for the three most recent wars, has in fact seen many -- the War of the Ancients, the War of the Shifting Sands, the war between the ancient troll empires and the aqir. One of these wars went far to set the stage for the First and Second Wars by creating, in effect, three of the major players in those conflicts. Without the Troll Wars, there would today be no Silvermoon, no human nations (and thus no Forsaken), and the troll nation of Zul'Aman would rule all of northern Lordaeron, perhaps all the way south to Khaz Modan.

The Troll Wars were named by their victors. To the trolls of Zul'Aman, they never really ended. Pushed back by the elves of Quel'Thalas and their human allies, the once-great northern troll empire receded but never actually died. Technically, even after repeated raids by outsiders, the Amani still hold onto their ancestral home. But all around it, the direct descendants (barely two elven generations) of their conquerors hold the Ghostlands, forests scarred by the Scourge during the Third War. War seems to never leave the gates of the troll kingdoms.

However, to be fair, it's not as if the trolls are shy about warring on others, either.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Vol'jin vs. the Zandalar

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.

I was going to do the Dark Trolls this week (seriously, whatever happened to these guys?), but then those darn Zandalari went and recruited the Gurubashi and Amani for a world-spanning plan to restore troll hegemony and bring back the empires of the past. Amazingly, the primary opponent of King Rastakhan's plan to unite all the troll tribes on Azeroth is, in fact, a troll himself.

Vol'jin, leader of the Darkspear tribe and long-standing ally to Thrall, is no stranger to confronting the mighty. He flat out threatened to kill Garrosh Hellscream, the new warchief, right to his face. He took part in the military operations against Daelin Proudmoore, spearheaded the reclamation of the Echo Isles against his old friend Zalazane, and has worked tirelessly to unify and bolster the Darkspear ranks, going so far as to ultimately defeat and destroy the Sea Witch that killed his father Sen'jin.

Since his people have joined the Horde, Vol'jin has balanced on the knife's edge between ancient troll customs and the demands of the Horde. Despite those who mistook his caution for weakness, Vol'jin has in recent days proven that he simply acts exactly when he believes the time is right, with precisely calculated choices that give maximum effect for minimum cost. Vol'jin has mastered the economy of action. Why, therefore, would he refuse the Zandalari offer? Is it merely because of his loyalty to Thrall and the Horde he himself helped create? Or is there more?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Cataclysm

Know Your Lore: Rise of the Zandalari

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.

In the beginning, there was Azeroth. It existed as one continent called Kalimdor. Prior to the Sundering -- indeed, prior to the rise of the elven race at all -- there were the trolls. The troll race is one of the first sentient races on Azeroth, it's been suggested on more than one occasion that the troll race predates even the arrival of the Titans. Needless to say, Azeroth is full of trolls, from the Darkspear, Horde allies that joined during the orcs' trek to Kalimdor from the Eastern Kingdoms, to the various splinter tribes scattered across Azeroth.

But the troll races share a common point of interest -- once, long, long ago, these trolls were all part of one empire, one tribe of trolls from which all others originated. The Zandalari tribe isn't an unfamiliar name to those that have played through Northrend content. The Zandalari were assisting both Alliance and Horde against the maddened remnants of the Drakari ice trolls. However, players were first introduced to the Zandalari in vanilla, when the mysterious progenitors of the troll race appeared to ask for help from both Alliance and Horde against the combined might of the Atal'ai trolls to conquer Zul'Gurub -- once the capital of the Gurubashi Empire.

Please note: This edition of Know Your Lore spoils some elements of the upcoming 4.1 patch, Rise of the Zandalari. If you'd like to avoid spoilers for upcoming content, turn away now, before it's too late!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Patch 4.1 PTR: Zul'Aman examined

After spending many hours and relying on the dungeon finder to pick up tanks on the 4.1 PTR, I managed to get a nice handle on the updated bosses in Zul'Aman. Unfortunately due to time constraints, the group was only able to challenge the first four animal bosses. We weren't able to progress past the Lynx or Dragonhawk bosses. While there were new mechanics introduced, after wiping over 10 times to the Dragonhawk boss, I can safely say that there need to be some slight numbers adjustments. WoW Insider rogue specialist Anne was able to join me as we continually wiped, figuring out new mechanics. Thank goodness for repair bots.

As an aside, perhaps someone can answer me this question: Why are raid groups looking for players for Icecrown Citadel on the test realm?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Know Your Lore: The Eternals part two -- the Loa gods of the trolls

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 took a brief look at the Eternals known as Ancients -- immortal beings that were worshiped largely by the night elves, though other races also paid their respects to these ancient beings. This week we'll be moving from the demigods of the night elves to the gods, demigods and Loa of the trolls. The pantheon of Loa is vast and largely undefined, though we've seen glimpses of gods here and there, and will see at least one more of them during the Echo Isles event that will be coming sometime before Cataclysm's release. Some of the Loa gods referenced in today's article originate from the Warcraft role-playing games, and should not be taken as full-on canon as a result, however there are several other Loa that are featured in game.

To begin, the Loa are essentially primal gods, with each god representing a different animal or domain. Where the Ancients covered various types of creatures, the Loa cover various aspects of creatures -- there's a very subtle different between the two. The Loa tend to be a little darker, and some could be called "evil." In order to make this a bit more organized, I'll be sorting the Loa according to tribe.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Ask a Lore Nerd: Of Nerubians, Dwarves and Titans

Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week blogger and columnist Alex Ziebart answers your questions about the lore and history of the World of Warcraft. Ask your questions in the comments section below, and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.

I'm going to get this out of the way right off the bat since I know I'll get a dozen people asking again this week: Yes, Know Your Lore will be coming back, it is not gone forever. I promise. I will pinkie swear on it, even. Come on, who wants to pinkie swear? Anybody? Anybody?

Aler asked...

"On the topic of the Nerubians and the Qiraji, is there any relation in the lore between the two? Or are two insect civilizations coincidental?"

There's absolutely a relation between the two. They hold a common ancestry. Both the Qiraji and the Nerubians are offshoots of an even more ancient race, the Aqir. Way back when Azeroth was still very primal, and Trolls were the top dogs. There were three major players in the world: The Amani Trolls, the Gurubashi Trolls, and the Aqir. They warred for thousands of years. Thousands. It was a war of attrition on the grandest scale possible, and all involved more or less broke under the weight of their losses.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Ask a Lore Nerd

WoW Moviewatch: Redshift: Pursuit

Redshift: Pursuit, by Slashdance, is a direct sequal to the piece "Redshift: Ty'zamar and Aislynn," and pretty much cements Redshift as an episodic series. A "diviner" has a foreseen the death of a Night Elf, and the conflict ensues from there. We brought you the trailer for this piece back in October, and are happy to be able to see the final product.

I was impressed with "Redshift: Pursuit", mostly for story and narrative purposes. I felt like the causal action from scene to scene was fairly meaningful, though the opening sequence was a little slow for my tastes. (It's probably just my personal preferences, but I like openings to get banging to action right away.)

Of course, the shout out to the Amani trolls really brings the story "home" to Azeroth, for me. Inclusiveness with the game's lore helps us identify characters and motivations, and provides a more solid base for the action to take place. I will definitely be interested to see what Redshift brings us next.

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, WoW Moviewatch, Lore

Breakfast Topic: Does the levity mess up the lore?

Warning: Wrath spoilers ahead!

Blizzard's pretty good at Lore when they want to be, with the whole 2.4 storyline, the Battle of Ahn'Qiraj, and many epic storylines promising to come out of Northrend. At the same time, they also have their own offbeat brand of humor that is never far gone from their design philosophy, and it shows up in their stories too.

Sometimes it serves them well and adds a bit of levity, but other time, it seems to take on a life of its own, a life that can strangle what could have otherwise been something compelling and interesting. Zul'Aman is perhaps the most pertinent example. What could have been the last attempt of the Farstriders to shut down the troll menace threatening their people, what could have been a revival of the Troll killing tradition of the Arathi, or an examination of the High Elves who stayed loyal to the Alliance but still hate the Amani, instead turned into a cheap redneck treasure hunt. It killed much of the allure of the zone and turned what could have been a epic struggle against a former hero of the Horde into a run of the mill bunny bashing session.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics, Lore, RP, Wrath of the Lich King

Poll: How much would you pay for an Amani War Bear?

We've covered the topic of an insane amount of money being paid for an Amani War Bear before, namely about 20,000g. Gold is much easier to come by now-a-days, and most people are finding it easier to amass a small fortune. This number of 20,000g for a bear mount isn't seeming all that far off.

My guild is running two bear groups through Zul'Aman a few times a week, and many of us have our bear mounts now. Those that don't are going to get it quite soon. When this is done we have some different options. We can either run some of our alts and what not through and have a character in greens-galore with a bear mount, or we can sell one of the spots on our run.

This selling thing has got me thinking. While our guild doesn't need any more money for repairs and such (we have plenty in the coffers), we can definitely all go to have a few thousand more gold individually. If we ran one person through on a run for 20,000g we'd each make 2,000g for doing 45 minutes of farm content. That's not too bad.

How much would you pay for an Amani War Bear?
500g to 2,500g3926 (56.9%)
2,501g to 5,000g1431 (20.7%)
5,001g to 7,500g663 (9.6%)
7,501g to 10,000g357 (5.2%)
10,000g to 15,000g185 (2.7%)
15,001g to 20,000g343 (5.0%)

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy, Raiding, Mounts

Blow a kiss to Mojo and and watch your mount grow

My friends and I discovered a nice little "bug" the other day. We were sitting around Ironforge with nothing to do other than to give a friendly ribbing to our Shadow Priest friend over that fact that she didn't have her Amani War Bear yet. We had our Mojo's out hopping around the feet of our Bears, trying not to get squished. We found out that if we blew them a kiss, we turned into a frog and our mounts grew quite a bit.

Obviously this is some kind of flaw in the model coding that allows this, but it's a fun enough and harmless enough bug that I can't stop myself from doing it every chance I get. More so, drink some Winterfall Firewater and pop Heroism for a real big frog on a bear mount.

This is definitely hilarious enough that I suggest everyone goes out and tries it at least once. Just leave my Mojo alone. He's spoken for.

Filed under: Tips, Tricks, Bugs, Odds and ends, Humor, Mounts

Know Your Lore: Hakkar the Soulflayer

Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm.

Today we're going to take a step back from out pre-emptive study of Wrath subjects and look at something a little more old school. We'll get back to catching up for Wrath of the Lich King soon enough, don't you worry about that. I'm far too excited about the expansion to not come back to it soon.

Today we're going to look at Hakkar the Soulflayer, not to be confused with Hakkar the Houndmaster which apparently came first in the lore, but I don't really care which of them came first because the Blood God (that one's the Soulflayer) is way cooler. What the Soulflayer actually is is largely a mystery. He's a god, certainly, but Azeroth has many flavors of gods and demigods. He is probably just a Loa god, but our buddy Brann Bronzebeard seems to think he's more than that. Specifically, Hakkar might be the son of an Old God.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Know your Lore

Ready Check: Zul'Aman -- Getting your first bear

Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Kara or BT, everyone can get in on the action and down them some bosses. This week, a bear talks about... bears.

Since the introduction of Zul'Aman many raiding guilds have been fascinated by the time trial; defeat all four animal bosses within 45 minutes and the last prisoner will gift you with a scary-looking bear mount, plus the adoration of your entire server. This article will take you through preparing for, and succeeding at, the Zul'Aman timed run.

Okay, so you want to get a bear.

Perhaps there are ten people in your guild who, bored with farming or wiping, want a slightly different challenge to take up an evening or two a week. The end goal of getting a bear mount (or ten) is an incredibly fun one to aim for, but it's also a lot of hard work (provided you don't just want to pay 20,000 gold).

The first stage in collecting your very own bear cavalry is to assemble a good team. While you can put together a run with whichever guildies feel like going from week to week, we recommend at least starting with a fixed group that's optimised for success. As you become experienced at running the gauntlet, it won't matter quite as much if the team isn't static.

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Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

Getting your first bear: The boss fights

Akil'zon (Eagle)

If the patrol at the bottom of the steps is in your way, kill it; you'll have to kill it on the way to Nalorakk otherwise. On the gauntlet, AoE the eagles as soon as possible, then pull the Amani'shi Tempest as early as you can to stop the flow of birds.

On the boss: the offtank DPSes, have the raid move in towards the boss before he casts Electrical Storm to save running time. As with all bosses, blow your cooldowns, chain-chug pots and do everything you can to perform your best.

Nalorakk (Bear)

You can use Soothe Animal to bypass a bear pack; hug the left wall. Run forward as soon as possible. The pull before the boss is a tough one, so don't rush it.

On the boss: go all out (respecting threat): the troll form tank can DPS during bear phase.

Jan'Alai (Dragonhawk)

Don't let scouts summon reinforcements! This is the single biggest timesink we find on our runs. Stun, charge, root and kill them ASAP, yell on Vent if you see one, and learn their routes.

Spellsteal the Flame Casters (we sheep them if possible, due to the huge raid damage). The patrols of hawks and Amani'shi Trainers to the right can be avoided if your timing is right; have the entire raid hug and run up the stairs at once, and fight the pack at the base of the stairs in place.

On the boss: let your hatchers hatch one side at a time, it's hectic for the offtank but saves a lot of time. A paladin tank can help keep adds under control, but it's doable without. We found fire resistance gear on the offtank helped a little.

Halazzi (Lynx)

The second Lynx trash pull, a patrol, can be skipped -- as can the hut.

AoEing the lynx packs usually gets AoErs killed so your healers have to be on the ball; the stealthed packs can run straight for healers, so your tanks need to be ready to deal with it. Pull the patrols as soon as possible, including the one in Halazzi's room. If time is getting tight, you can pull the boss as the last trash mob dies.

On the boss: during spirit phase, DPS stays on the boss, as it's debuffed; the offtank can DPS the boss once aggro is solid on the spirit. Rinse and repeat until boss is dead.

Filed under: How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Bosses, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

Getting your first bear: Optimizing for speed

Optimizing for speed

You've run the instance before and maybe downed three bosses within the time limit without really trying. However, adding a fourth into that time is tough. There are various things you can do to speed up the run, both as a raid and individually:
  • Consumables. Using buff potions/flasks (including sharpening stones, scrolls, food, etc) should go without saying, as well as health/mana pots; drums also make a difference.
  • Be smart with downtime. Drink a little between pulls. Innervate the shadow priest as you approach a boss, and don't be afraid to pull without full mana or health.
  • Know the instance and don't be stupid. Getting reinforcements on the way to Jan'alai is simply a waste of time, as is running into patrols, over-aggroing, etc.
  • Don't linger over loot. Using group loot with need/pass (a designated disenchanter Greeds) speeds up loot considerably; have one assigned DPSer speak to the freed captive while the group moves on.
  • Communicate. Voice chat is great, and well-timed communication can turn around a wipe.
It really helps to get everyone into the right mindset before you begin, so go over these ground rules first. Make sure people know to bring consumables, and know the route you're taking. Encourage people to read up on the timed run, to watch videos and actually think about what they're going to be doing.

Okay, okay. Can we kill now?

The most logical kill order is Eagle, Bear, Dragonhawk, Lynx. You'll spend most of your time killing trash, so make sure your tanks' threat is top-notch, chainpull like mad and bypass as much as possible.

Our second run was videoed by one of our healers, and it's available here -- the download's large because of the length of the run. Screenshots from the video accompany the walkthrough below.

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

Getting your first bear: The final analysis

Congratulations, you should now be the proud owners of your first bear!

Lessons from our bears

We learnt a few things from doing the bear runs, both individually and as a raid group -- it's a lot of fun to see how far you can be pushed.
  • Setups that look "okay" on paper don't cut it. The run's all about the group. You can bring one or two slightly dim-witted members along but it makes life harder for everyone else.
  • You need to have people who're fully awake for the whole run -- if your paladins suck at refreshing 10 minute blessings, if your melee love aggro, if your healer's prone to 5 minute afks, replace them.
  • Once the first set of bears are in their new homes, we found interest and quality of the runs dropped. Other groups have reported different things, so your mileage may vary, but all it needs is one enthusiastic person to put the next set of runs together.
  • The melee ring never drops from the third chest. Never.
Further reading

Especially if you're interested in group setup and the best speed runs out there, this Elitist Jerks forum thread is a goldmine of information and opinions. Gurgthock's video is also worth a watch. If you're not quite making the timer, looking at WWS reports can be a great help -- here's our second run, videoed above, to give you some idea (I'm Fog).

Finally, we'll leave you with these timeless words: Practice is perfect. There are plenty of stories of raid groups narrowly missing a bear, then coming back the next reset and having plenty of time left on the clock. Don't give up and you'll get there in the end!

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

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