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Know Your Lore: Quests, story, and you in Warlords of Draenor

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.

A new expansion is certainly about delivering new content, but it's also a vehicle for story progression -- and the end of Mists of Pandaria left behind plenty of questions waiting to be answered. Unfortunately, any questions having to do with Pandaria or Azeroth will have to wait, as we have other, more pressing matters to think about. In Warlords of Draenor, the Iron Horde looms just over the horizon, a threat eerily reminiscent of the old Horde that began the First War so many years ago. Except the Iron Horde is stronger, more organized, and bolstered by the knowledge of just what's on the other side of that Dark Portal they are constructing, thanks to Garrosh Hellscream.

That story, the story of Warlords of Draenor, is taking us in a different kind of direction, the likes of which we haven't seen before. While Mists may have pushed the button on innovation as far as max-level content was concerned, its seemingly never-ending cycle of daily quests upon daily quests quickly grew from entertainment to frustration as players quickly grew tired of the cycle of daily gated content and rewards. Warlords has none of that -- but it does have a whole host of new ways to make the story feel important, without overpowering how the player approaches the game.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains small spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.

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

Know Your Lore: Gul'dan, the soul of evil

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.

Every villain in the Warcraft universe has a story behind why exactly they're a villain. For some, it was the corruption of the Old Gods that slowly drove them mad. For others, it was the promise of great power by agents of the Burning Legion. But it's rare that we see a villain that is simply a villain without any kind of outside influence. Garrosh Hellscream is one of the better villains in Warcraft solely because he does evil things, but doesn't believe that they are evil -- instead, he believes that they are simply the right thing to do.

But before Garrosh Hellscream was an orc who pretty much represented pure, unmitigated evil in its most concentrated form. He knew the corruption of his entire race was at stake, and he went ahead and traded it for the one thing he craved above all else -- power. Gul'dan may not have come from bloodlines that boasted glory, but he was ridiculously intelligent, cunning, and cruel. To Gul'dan, it wasn't about performing evil deeds. It was about amassing as much power and prestige as he could -- and the rest of the world could burn, for all he cared.

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

Warcraft and its "Joker Problem"

The "Joker Problem" is, in its simplest terms, based around the old Batman villain, first introduced in 1940. In his original appearance, the Joker was a homicidal madman who used complicated toxins to murder people as part of a crime wave that only he really understood. In his original appearances, the Joker was slated for death, because back then Batman routinely killed people or allowed them to die, but the editors realized that if they went around killing off all the good villains they'd run out of them, and so the Joker was spared. He went on to become Batman's greatest adversary.

World of Warcraft has a Joker Problem, because we keep murdering our Jokers.

Oh, it's hard to blame us - how many times have people pointed out how ludicrous it is that Batman or someone else hasn't murdered the Joker at this point? Plus, they drops shiny goodies when we kill them, and there's nothing players in an MMO like more than trinkets and baubles. Tirion Fordring once held a death sport that was entirely based around bribing us into gladiatorial combat with goodies, and we totally went for it. Sometimes we'd run that thing four times a week. But the fact remains - we barely get a good villain rolling for an expansion before we storm his or her castle, keep, subterranean lair, floating sky palace, old temple... you get the picture, I'm sure... and do war upon said villain. At the end, a sparkly corpse is left at our feet, the day is temporarily saved, and then someone else ignores all the evidence to the contrary and starts the whole thing up again.

Not all of the dead Jokers in our track were Jokers, of course. Some were Riddlers, or Penguins, or even just barely Calendar Mans. But we've definitely left a few Jokers strewn among the pile of dead would-be world destroyers, conquerors, and assorted evil people. Lady Vashj, Illidan, Arthas, Deathwing, Ragnaros, Al'Akir, Kel'Thuzad, Malygos, we've taken out some important figures with a great deal of significance to the setting. The up side is that it demonstrates the stakes and gives a player a sense of accomplishment to finally take down an archnemesis. The downside is, they're gone.

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

What If: Shadows of the Assassin

What If Shadows of the Assassin
When we last left off with the what-if challenges, Rossi wrote up a perfectly delightful idea for the premise of Shandris Feathermoon being a main antagonist for an expansion, then left me with the notorious half-orc assassin Garona Halforcen for my next challenge. One would think it'd be easy enough to build an expansion around someone who makes a habit of stabbing people, but Garona has essentially been a non-entity since we last saw her, briefly, in the Twilight Highlands.

Her absence from the final fight with Cho'gall was noticeable. One would think that she'd be more than happy to pitch in and help defeat the creature that had been controlling her the majority of her life, forcing her to do things that colored her fate in such a way that she's been forced into hiding. Yet ... Garona wasn't there. In fact, she's all but disappeared. Which makes one wonder ... how much of Garona is, in fact, Garona -- and what would she do if given the unique opportunity to change her fate?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Know Your Lore: The top 10 lore reveals of Cataclysm, part 1

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.

Spoilers for every single Cataclysm raid and zone to be found here.

On the whole, Cataclysm has revealed a great deal of lore for the Warcraft universe. We've been to all four of the elemental planes and destabilized two of them by destroying the elemental lords who were effectively the dictatorial forces of their respective elementals. As of this writing, only Therazane remains as undisputed master of her elemental plane. (Indeed, with the destruction of Deathwing, she's actually in a stronger place than she was.) We've seen the Twilight's Hammer cult rise to world-shaking prominence and played a role in setting them back by destroying Cho'gall. We've finally managed to balk them on the eve of their Old God masters' final triumph by destroying Deathwing just as he was about to unleash an even more destructive assault on Azeroth than his first.

The Dragon Aspects lost their immortality just after we discovered that there were actually safeguards in place to appoint new ones. We discovered the secret land of Uldum and its Titanic ruins, and we prevented the activation of the Halls of Origination at Deathwing's behest and discovered the connection between the Qiraji and Uldum. We also saw the war between the Alliance and Horde begin lurching toward a new phase. We discovered the fate of Gilneas and the Gilneans, saw tantalizing hints as to the development of the goblin people and their mysterious kajamite, and even more. It's been an eventful expansion in terms of what it established. For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to talk about where Cataclysm took us and what we discovered.

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

Know Your Lore: Brotherhood of the Horse

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.

They saved the people of Stormwind, and not only did it cost them their lives, but then their bodies were taken by the invaders and desecrated into Undead, used as unliving weapons possessed by Orc necrolytes. In life, these heroes fought the Orcs to a standstill and even drove them back at times. In death, their debased frames were the first death knights created by Gul'dan the warlock.

They earned heaven and were instead given hell. They were the Brotherhood of the Horse, the finest knights and warriors the Kingdom of Stormwind had to offer. Their greatest leader and last member died on Blackrock Mountain, and since his death, no one has raised their banner. They gave everything to save their world and received only a mockery of death in return.

Before this fate, however, they served their kingdom as its most elite -- the best soldiers it had, the most feared military force humanity could then muster, and they proved it time and again. During the First War, the Orcs learned fear when they heard their horses approach and died battling against their lances and greatswords. It was this prowess that made them the targets of Gul'dan's ire.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Death Knight

The Light and How to Swing It: Tanking the Bastion of Twilight, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 24 other people, obsessing over his hair (a blood elf racial!), and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Last we left off, Halfus was laid low and the Twin Dragons were plucked from the sky. Now we come to the exciting conclusion of my "Months Behind Raid Guides" in preparation for the opening of the Firelands in the coming weeks. Before you set foot in that sulfuric realm, you'll likely want to make sure you have the current content cleared to allow you a running start in pursuit of Ragnaros' legions.

To assist you with that, this guide will help you push aside the Ascendant Council and overthrow Cho'gall, the head(s) honcho -- polycephaly joke! -- of the Cult of Twilight. The Council in particular is one of the most chaotic fights of tier 11 and will definitely prove a challenge to your raid the first time you hit it. There's a lot going on here, and the best tool you can arm yourself with is knowledge of everything this pseudo-Captain Planet will be throwing at you. And of course, Cho'gall will be a handful, as he throws varying kinds of damage your way. Steel yourself for the incoming torrent of elemental and corrupted damage.

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Spiritual Guidance: Priest healing tips for tier 11 heroic mode raids

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen is busy looking in the mirror instead of playing a proper spec. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com, produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

In previous weeks, Spiritual Guidance has tackled how to heal the various raid encounters in tier 11. This week, we're going to revisit each boss on heroic difficulty. Once more, I'll be examining which spec is better equipped to handle the fight while also examining the differences in the new encounter and how to deal with them. We have a lot to talk about, so let's get started.

First, I want to point out that a major difference between any heroic and normal mode encounter is that abilities in heroic do an increased amount of damage. In order to avoid being redundant, please keep in mind that when I point out the differences between modes that the need for more healing will be assumed. If the increased damage significantly impacts the strategy of the fight, however, I will explain how.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Patch 4.2: Normal mode tier 11 encounters nerfed

Patch 4.2 PTR testing is in full swing, and we've got another round of patch notes, courtesy of Zarhym and the official Warcraft blog. Today's notes are primarily a metric ton of nerfs to normal mode encounters in Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the Four Winds. The nerfs were explained by Nethaera as follows:

Nethaera
With the upcoming content patch, 10- and 25-person Normal mode raid encounters will be receiving a comprehensive set of tuning adjustments to decrease their difficulty.

These changes will allow players, groups, and guilds who have yet to experience the content in Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the the Four Winds an opportunity to do so.

With the addition of a new tier of armor and weapons, we want to make the previous tier more accessible in ways other than just a shift of currency type, so we are making item level 359 gear purchasable for Justice points in the upcoming content patch.


Follow us after the break for the full list of patch notes.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Raid Rx: Pick the best moments for Rallying Cry

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading on the Matticast.

4.1's out! I've been busy killing trolls in Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub, grabbing healing loot for my alts. I wasn't able to get a chance to explore the new healing synergies with all the new healer abilities and Rallying Cry. Warriors have that new ability which temporarily grants 20% maximum health to members in your party or raid for 10 seconds before the health fades away.

Like it or not, warriors are now a part of the arsenal that healing leaders have.

Also, a nifty trick includes combining both Rallying Cry and Last Stand that leads to mega-health for your tank. Doing this requires two warriors. From what I can see, Rallying Cry needs to be used first, before Last Stand, to maximize benefits. Get your tanking warrior to use Enraged Regeneration, and that'll just about outheal anything most healers can do.

Get used to adding Rallying Cry to your skills. Warriors, please remind your leaders that you have it available. Now, on what fights would your warriors be doing their whole yelling thing? I've got several in mind.

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Filed under: Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Shifting Perspectives: Feral cat raiding strategies, part 3

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our weekly feral cat edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. Let the face clawing begin!

In the previous installments of our series on raiding strategies for feral cat druids (part 1 and part 2), we've looked at some of the easier bosses in this raid tier. This week, we'll finish up Nefarian's minions in Blackwing Descent and clear out Bastion of Twilight.

First up: Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Spiritual Guidance: Priest healing strategies for Cho'gall in The Bastion of Twilight

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen dabbles in shadow. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

I've had this idea for a social experiment in my head for the past few weeks, where you lock five priests together in a room with nothing but Highland Spirits and force them to have a round table discussion about Lightwell. While I work on my hypothesis and proposal -- and find a way to bait Fox Van Allen into this possum trap -- you guys can finish reading up on the finer points of healing Cho'gall as a holy or discipline priest. Seeing as this is the last boss of The Bastion of Twilight, this will be the final installment of Spiritual Guidance's priest healing guides for this tier.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

The Light and How to Swing It: A holy paladin guide to Bastion of Twilight, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Every Sunday, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email me with any questions you want answered, like why paladins are so awesome.

As we delve deeper into the Bastion of Twilight, each boss is more powerful than the last. While Halfus Wymbreaker and the dragon twins aren't the easiest raid bosses by far, the Ascendant Council and Cho'gall are on another level of difficulty. They're not only more complicated, but simply more punishing as well. You're going to use your full spectrum of abilities on these fights.

The Ascendant Council encounter emphasizes the importance of good positioning and healing on the move, while Cho'gall will stress both your AoE and single-target healing throughout the fight. Holy paladins have several abilities that are uniquely suited to each encounter, and knowing how to use those spells will be crucial to healing effectively.

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Know Your Lore: Garona: A study on stealth and treachery, part 2

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.
Human or orc... An orc would say that it's a human hand -- too slender to be really useful, not enough muscle to hold an ax or bash a skull in properly -- too pale, too weak, and too ugly. You see the parts of me that are orcish. My orcish superiors, and all other orcs, see the parts of me that are human. I am both, and neither, and considered an inferior being by both sides.
-- The Last Guardian

Garona spent the first half of her life unaware of her true bloodline -- and unaware of the mental controls placed in her mind by the Shadow Council. After escaping Doomhammer's forces, she fled, gave birth to her son Med'an, and then handed him over to an old friend for safekeeping. It wasn't that she didn't want to raise the boy; it was that she thought she was a danger to the child.

There were two moments that stuck with Garona the most. The first was that moment in Karazhan's tower, in which she witnessed herself killing King Llane. The second was the moment in which that horrifying vision came to pass -- and there was nothing she could do to stop it. The combination of these two events made Garona realize, in terror, that she seemed to be destined to play the part of the villain, no matter what she had to say to the contrary.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The Queue: Entering the modern era

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.

I have a horrible confession to make. Until late last week, I've been playing WoW with only 2 GB of RAM in my gaming PC. It didn't run well, but I managed to do everything with it, including the highest levels of raid content in Wrath of the Lich King. Sure, my FPS wasn't great, but I still managed to kick ass. Cataclysm ... no. Never. It was never going to happen. 2 GB is not nearly enough, especially if you run any mods. Let me tell you, fighting the Omnotron Defense System with 2 FPS is not a good time. So I've upgraded to 4 GB. It's much nicer.

As an added bonus, I can now actually keep a browser window open while I raid. I am standing over Magmaw's broken husk as I write this. Feels good, man. Feels good.

Zack asked:

Now that Sinestra is down, what is the "terrible secret" she was guarding? I can't find a link to it anywhere!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

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