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Posts with tag faction

My own private faction bias

There's a lot of talk about faction bias in the game among the designers and even in terms of the playerbase. Some realms have heavy faction representation issues; some players would never, ever play a member of the opposite faction; and so on.

Around this time last year, I transferred my main (a character who had been Alliance since his creation) to the Horde to raid with a guild that ended up being an excellent home for me and a great place to raid. I stayed with that guild up until we'd completed heroic Dragon Soul, but recently I transferred to a new guild. And one of the biggest reasons I moved back had nothing to do with either guild (both are fine guilds) or the people in them. My Horde guild was full of people I enjoyed raiding with, cracking wise, doing old content, even making occasional forays into PvP. No, in addition to feeling burned out and needing to raid less, the main reason I transferred back was related to the faction concept in WoW.

Frankly, I wish WoW didn't have factions -- at least, not the big Horde/Alliance split. Because it's made my game playing experience less fun over the years.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Cataclysm

The case for cross-faction Real ID raiding

I have seen dozens of forum posts, Twitter conversations, and even a knitted wool hat that argued for the concept of cross-faction Real ID grouping, so I thought why not throw my own hat into this contentious debate? I'm old, I'm grumpy -- it's what I do.

First, to be up front, I think cross-faction Real ID is a fabulous idea. This is motivated by pure selfishness on my part. Half of my Real ID friends are Horde, the other half are Alliance. To a degree, this is ameliorated because we have a lot of alts on both factions, but it's not totally addressed. Some of my friends have no alts; others only have alts on the same faction; and still others have one main they dedicate 90% of their playtime to and a host of alts who barely make level 20. We'd easily be able to put together a raid for any of the content in the game, save for that faction wall. We can talk to each other and put together smaller groups fairly easily to steamroll old raids, but doing content like Blackwing Descent or Firelands is arduous.

I do understand that not everyone would be on board with this, and there are good reasons to be discussed. Cross-faction Real ID raiding would not only be a huge change, but it would also cross a line Blizzard has managed never to deliberately cross in all its time of allowing new services like faction and server transfers and character customization. Sure, your Alliance warrior can join a Horde raiding group now, but in order to do so, he or she must become a Horde character. There are no humans raiding with orcs. It's been the case in the game since launch (to the point that Forsaken players lost the ability to speak with human players to preserve it) that the two factions are separate and cannot group together at all. To change that, even for just Real ID friends, would be a huge change in the game.

That being said, here are my reasons for cross-faction Real ID raiding.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Choose your own adventure

Green Proto-Drake
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

In many games, plot outcomes are affected by choices the player makes throughout the course of the game. This is obviously not the case in WoW -- but what if it were?

Currently there are actually a few decisions for players to make in the game. For instance, a quest in Eastern Plaguelands gives players the option of adding varying amounts of a solution to a plague cauldron, with different results depending on the player's choice. The option to associate with either the Aldor or the Scryers was a key dilemma players faced in The Burning Crusade. Similarly, in Wrath, players had to decide whether they would assist the Oracles or the Frenzyheart tribe, with each faction offering different rewards.

None of these choices influenced the unfolding story, however. So imagine how much more compelling it would be if the decision to support the Oracles or Frenzyheart tribe had some effect on, say, the Icecrown raid. What if the Oracles showed up and played a song on their instruments to paralyze the Lich King for a short time? And what if the Frenzyheart charged in and set traps that made him take more damage when triggered? Raids groups would then need to have at least one player supporting each faction in order to have them both show up.

Which storylines and events would you want to influence if player decisions really mattered? Would you have voted for someone besides Garrosh to become the new Warchief? Would you try to promote peace and cooperation between the Horde and the Alliance? Or would you pledge allegiance to the Old Gods and stymie the efforts made by other players to stop Deathwing and his ilk?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Could there be more than two factions?

Kaluak boat
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

As World of Warcraft grows older, perhaps it's time to shake up things a bit to keep things interesting. After seven years of a war between two groups being the focus of the storyline, could we return to a time of four factions? That's right, a return. After all, Warcraft 3 had four opposing armies: Humans, Undead, Night Elves and Orcs. Presently, we have 12 races among the two factions, and considering all the new class/race combinations implemented in Cataclysm, perhaps four separate groups are not as unthinkable as they once were.

With the political climate of the Horde being what it is and Sylvanas going farther off the grid all the time, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the Banshee Queen pulling the Foresaken and her Blood Elf relatives out of the Horde, establishing her own nation in Northern Lorderon. (For the sake of racial number balance, maybe she bribes the goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel into joining her with a new home city of ... Gilneas!) Or frustrated by the unwillingness of King Varian to stop the Orc's systematic destruction of Ashenvale , could Tyrande (finally doing something in-game for once) decide to defect from the Alliance, bringing her Worgen and Draenei allies with her?

Do you think additional factions would be interesting? How would they work in game? What do you think they would look like?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: "Blizzard's Horde bias" -- fact or delusion?

Alliance and Horde crests
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

It seems every week on the official forums, other game sites, and in daily conversation in Azeroth or Earth, the topic comes up that Blizzard favors the Horde. When the claim is directed toward lore development, even Horde players sometimes agree. But is there merit to the accusation?

Chris Metzen admits he loves Thrall and gets excited talking about the Orc's story, but he's also named Malfurion Stormrage as his favorite character in the past. Developers incite cheers of Lok'tar Ogar and For the Horde! at BlizzCon while suggesting Not the face! for the Alliance's new battlecry.

Most of this, however, is not where players look for their sole source of faction pride. It's in the game. The Horde's story has gotten very interesting with Sylvanas' darker path, Garrosh's controversial leadership, and Thrall's place on center stage in Cataclysm. The Alliance, however, has seen very little involvement from its leaders, and some players feel what they have seen has been out of character for their leaders. Malfurion neutral as Ashenvale burns -- or worse, as Tyrande is attacked?

Perhaps the strongest supporting evidence for or against bias (depending how you interpret it) are Metzen's recent comments that the Alliance will get some needed attention to strengthen that faction pride in two novels focusing on the Alliance, first with Wolfheart by Richard Knaack, followed by a still-untitled novel about Jaina Proudmoore by Christie Golden. But is that enough?

Do you think novels will stir the passion in the Alliance players' hearts, or is Blizzard going down the wrong path for the right desire? Do you think there's any merit to the claim of bias to begin with, or is it just more faction feuding amongst players?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Do you have qualms about playing the other faction?

Horde and Alliance crests
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Talk to any self-proclaimed altoholic: They'll tell you stories of rolling characters on both sides of the two factions that split the World of Warcraft. For many, their attachment to one side or the other is merely dependent on "What do I want to play today?" However, for me, playing the other faction has some serious consequences: pangs of agony, nervous twitches, tummy trouble, you name it.

I started WoW on one side but quickly found myself tempted to try the other (I heard they had cookies) and never looked back for years. I filled out all 10 slots with the faction I loved. Seven 85s later, I get the whisper from my officers that they are swapping sides as a pet project. The worst of all isn't really that I'd consider playing the dark side again; it's that my closest of guildies are happily getting entrenched. Lured by the real-life friend of another, lo and behold, they found a level 25 guild that would gladly receive some potential recruits... and now my guildies want me to join them, too.

Now don't get me wrong -- I don't deny the opposite faction their right to exist (well, except every time I get killed in Tol Barad), but it feels so completely wrong to be rolling this character (not to mention having to delete my mid-30s mage). What about you? Have you ever had a question of conscience to even begin to create a character of the opposite faction?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Did changing factions change how you play?

I've had both Horde and Alliance alts throughout my time playing World of Warcraft, of course. With the exception of the Forsaken, I've always viewed the Horde as more or less morally equivalent with the Alliance. Sure, there were some things that bugged me, like naming the capital city of the Horde after Orgrim Doomhammer, a guy who enslaved the dragonqueen Alexstrasza and who went along with Gul'dan even though the warlock in question murdered his best friend and best friend's wife. But these were minor hiccups, and I especially loved the tauren, having leveled both a DK and warrior tauren to level 80 in the Wrath years.

Ironically, although I was somewhat negatively inclined towards Garrosh Hellscream, it wasn't until I switched factions on my main to play Horde with a new guild (and an excellent one, to be sure) that I started really, really hating the Horde. Every quest I've gotten so far on my main or my two leveling alts Hordeside has involved murdering people and stealing their land simply because I could (or because a guy using an axe I outgrew 15 levels ago says I should).

But it's done more than make me dislike the faction I'm playing. Paradoxically, it's made me fight really, really hard for that faction. I PVP a lot more now than I ever did when I was playing a worgen personally offended by what happened to Gilneas. For some reason, being in the Horde makes the semi-military feel of battleground PVP seem more like it has a point to me, as if I'd expect to find myself there. I'm more aggressive as a Horde player. My paladin has run through Desolace and now Feralas with abandon, thinking nothing of doing quests that massacre entire Alliance settlements for the crime of trying to continue to exist. For all that I often decry the Horde and its current Warchief, I'm certainly also part of the problem, because I'm the one doing the quests. I am the unprovoked fist of the Horde, crushing innocents and stealing their homes. Granted, I'm not known for my stability, but I have to wonder if anyone else has experienced this.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Firelands reputation rewards

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Patch 4.2 is still here. And we're all rolling through the Firelands, some of us already on heroic modes, some of us still clearing some bosses, others working on the dailies. Something for everyone. Today, we're going to talk about the loot you can get out of the Firelands without actually getting a single drop from a boss. Some of these rewards require you to kill trash for rep (or even bosses, in the case of Avengers of Hyjal rewards past honored), but others you can get through Marks of the World Tree or even from the Thrall quest line added in patch 4.2.

Before we talk about all that, though, I have to say that if you're able to raid Firelands, even on a limited schedule, you really should. These are some of the best-designed, most well thought-out boss encounters I've seen in years of playing the game. Trash runs are absolutely puggable (and the trash drops are worth pugging for, as last week covered); a coordinated group in 359 epics from tier 11 raids absolutely can do the first four bosses and can probably learn to do Baleroc in a week or two. There's no reason to avoid this raid. It's fun, well-designed, and within your grasp. Of the five bosses I've now seen, none of them is so easy as to be boring nor so hard as to be daunting.

Now, let's talk about gear you can get before or just after setting foot in here.

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Filed under: Warrior, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Cataclysm

Patch 4.2: Crystallized Firestone makes gear heroic

The folks at Wowhead News have found a very interesting new vendor outside of patch 4.2's Firelands raid. Lurah Wrathvine, who is also riding on a Flameward Hippogryph for maximum pizzazz, will upgrade various normal tier 12 raid and valor point gear for the low, low price of a Crystallized Firestone. This is an item that drops off of the bosses therein when they are killed on heroic difficulty.

What's interesting about this system is that it affects items that don't even drop in the Firelands, especially the difficult-to-upgrade relics like the Hardheart Relic that makes my shaman scream "Me want!" like a caveman. Since relics are usually a valor point purchase, this makes them difficult (if not impossible) to upgrade, in comparison to other items. In general, this whole system is currently only in place to upgrade 21 items, but with some of those items being weapons or armor pieces, we may see more soon. It makes me remember Sunmotes and the Sunwell Plateau's exchange system. Crystallized Firestone definitely seems like the next iteration.

Also new on the test realms: The Avengers of Hyjal have a new strength DPS trinket. Looks like new itemization is being implemented as we speak.

The news is already rolling out for the upcoming WoW Patch 4.2! Preview the new Firelands raid, marvel at the new legendary staff, and get the inside scoop on new quest hubs -- plus new Tier 12 armor!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Raiding, Cataclysm

Patch 4.1 PTR: Wintersaber mount grind goes daily

For a long time now, the Wintersaber Trainer grind (for the Reins of the Winterspring Frostsaber) has been one of the last holdouts of the old world's long, slogging reputation grinds, featuring repeatable quests that give relatively small chunks of reputation and require slogging all over a zone. Admittedly, the grind is a lot easier these days thanks to tweaked drop rates, slightly higher reputation gains, and old world flight, but it still stands as a symbol of a different time.

In patch 4.1, this will stand no longer. The Wowhead blog is reporting the Wintersaber grind is being turned into a series of daily quests that put you in charge of the care and feeding of a Winterspring Cub on the PTR. After 20 days worth of dailies which earn you Winterspring Cub Whiskers, you'll be able to turn in the They Grow Up So Fast quest for your very own set of reins. In addition, you can buy a Winterspring Cub permapet from a vendor in Everlook. It's Bind on Equip and sold by a neutral vendor, so even Horde and Bloodsail Admirals can get thier hands on it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Breakfast Topic: Are rep grinds too easy now?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

I'm going to admit it: I miss the old style of rep grinds. Okay, just put down the torch while I clarify, please. My fond reminiscences do not extend to the Hydraxian Waterlords or the Wintersaber Trainers. Simply being time-consuming does not make a rep grind good. Also, reputation shouldn't impede progress. Locking people out of heroics until hitting revered -- or even honored -- is a silly and artificial barrier.

What I would like to see return to rep grinds, however, is a little heart. In the past, there was often some planning involved in finding the best route to pleasing your favorite factions. The Cenarion Expedition is a good example. Pro rep fiends started out with wide-scale slaughter in Zangermarsh. They turned in Unidentified Plant Parts through friendly but saved all their Uncatalogued Species to give them a quick burst of rep once they hit honored. Only then did they start doing quests and running Underbog. There was a definite strategy involved, and it made your rise through the ranks seem meaningful.

Ever since the introduction of championing tabards in Wrath, rep grinding feels less like a metagame and more like a series of bars that slowly and inevitably fill up automatically. All that's required of you is to wear the proper gang colors, and eventually you'll be well regarded by all. As popular as it is, I wouldn't suggest getting rid of championing -- but perhaps we could compromise by adding additional, more engaging methods of gaining rep? I'd love to do more than two daily tasks for our riparian friends in Uldum, for example.

So tell me if I'm crazy. Do you think championing tabards are the best thing since spiced bread, or like me, do you feel that they currently lack something?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Is your race or faction choice based on sticking with friends?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

I'll admit it: I'm a gnome-aholic. If I had my way, every single one of my characters would be a gnome. My warlock? Originally a gnome. My rogue? Also used to be a gnome. My hunter? Sometimes I dream at night of a gnome, pink pigtails bouncing, as she charges into battle riding her devilsaur pet. They're just so cute!

That said, since moving in with my current roommates, I've found that there is no way I can express my gnome love. Both of my roomies are die-hard Hordies, and in order to play together with them, I've had to transfer all of my beloved gnomes into not-so-beloved Horde equivalents. Not that there's nothing to love in the Horde (I would marry a troll and adore goblins!), but sometimes when I'm in a battleground and I see a gnome charging, I ... I just can't find it in my heart to melt his/her adorable face off.

Sometimes I fantasize about transferring all of my characters back to the Alliance and making them all gnomes again or making myself a secret gnome toon. However, I've realized that I would miss playing with my friends too much. Sure, if I rolled a gnome, I would still be able to talk to them, but I wouldn't be able to run a few random heroics with them, pop into Silvermoon for some RP or ask them to run my level 23 alt through a dungeon so I can get all the loots for myself.

So what about you? Have you ever rolled a certain race or class in order to fit in with your friends?

Is your race or faction choice based on what your friends wanted to play?
Yes, and I'm having a good time with it.3024 (33.1%)
Yes, and I sometimes miss what my characters could have been.2679 (29.3%)
No, I do my own thing.3436 (37.6%)

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Totem Talk: Restoration shaman guide to Cataclysm reputation gear

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement and restoration shaman. Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration will show you how, brought to you by Joe Perez, otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and host of the BDTU: Lore edition podcast

Last week, we consolidated the expansion's changes for restoration shaman in a Cataclysm 101 post -- just the basics there, nothing too fancy quite yet. This week, I fully intended to begin writing restoration guides for the various 5-man dungeons and heroics, but instead, I'd like to take some time and talk about gearing up before you even set foot in dungeons at level 85.

Over the last week, I've received a massive influx of email asking about what gear is available through questing and through the various factions. While it is very true that you can receive quite a bit of gear from questing, the reputation rewards are quite stellar. You will gain a sizeable chunk of reputation simply from leveling to 85, so let's see what gear you can pick up along the way. For today, we'll keep Mail Specialization in mind and stick with the mail gear, rings and trinkets available from the various factions.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Cataclysm rewards low-level faction loyalty with cloaks, bags

While stomping around your home city in Cataclysm, you might notice a new quartermaster NPC hanging around the travel area. He or she stocks a total of five items (at least so far), shown above:
  • a high-resolution city tabard that requires friendly standing with that city;
  • a reasonably-priced 16-slot bag (unique) requiring revered standing to purchase; and
  • level 35 blue cloaks (also in gorgeous high resolution) in caster, agility and strength varieties, requiring exalted standing.
What's interesting about the required reputation on these items is how they relate to the leveling process. If you choose to stay on your "main" continent -- Kalimdor for night elves, for example, or Eastern Kingdoms for Forsaken -- then your reputation will hit the proper level just as these items become useful.

The tabard can be picked up at any time, since almost every race starts at friendly standing with its faction's cities. The bag, on the other hand, shows up at a point in the leveling process when a new player (or fresh reroll on a new server/faction) is going to start wishing he had another big bag like the backpack. And the cloaks are available at level 35 -- a level at which, on my worgen fire mage, I had just hit exalted with Darnassus and was very close to hitting exalted with Stormwind. So on top of a cloak tailored to my spec, I also had two 16-slot bags available -- which for a new player is like winning the lottery. This is a great way to educate new players on how WoW's reputation system works, and it provides some neat rewards to boot.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

Filed under: Cataclysm

Is faction antagonism story-driven or player-driven?

Spoilers for Cataclysm in this post, me hearties.

One of the things I've noticed in my time back-and-forthing between Alliance and Horde toons is that each faction seems to have many, many vocal partisans who believe the opposite faction to be filled to the brim with churls, knaves and scalawags. Perhaps even hooligans and ne'er-do-wells. You see it all the time in general chat: "Those ally fellows are nothing but mountebanks!" Or perhaps: "Horde? Nothing but disreputable scoundrels, bounders and cads!"

What I find interesting is how much of this factional divide is created by the game itself ... how much comes from quest lines and zone design and world events ... and how much is purely based on the players. It's true that over the past several expansions, we've seen a shift in the game itself from the days of the AQ gate event and the opening of the Dark Portal, when Horde and Alliance stood shoulder-to-shoulder against threats to Azeroth, to the present Wrath/Cataclysm direction when even Old Gods, Lich Kings and insane dragon aspects can't get the Horde and Alliance to cooperate.

Still, until fairly recently, I'd never really felt much of the infamous Horde/Alliance hatred from the game itself. Even the Wrathgate /Battle for Undercity and the Broken Front quests didn't come close to matching the intensity of a forum flame war or a really acrimonious Wintergrasp battle. Playing Horde back in the day, you couldn't help but notice the perception of superiority Horde players (including myself, at the time) felt over Alliance. But the story didn't really have much to do with it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

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