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Know Your Lore: The History of Draenor

Adam's project
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.

It may not be Azeroth, but it's got a history just as rich and just as convoluted. In the Warcraft universe, the planet Draenor plays a secondary role to Azeroth in terms of storyline -- consider it something like a sister planet, one whose history is irrevocably entwined with Azeroth's. Although these days Draenor exists as a mere shell of what it once was, Draenor, its inhabitants, and its fate are all one of the most significant pieces of Warcraft lore out there. After all, if there were no Draenor, there would be no First or Second wars. There would be no Horde.

Why is this planet so important? It certainly didn't have very much to do with the original inhabitants. In fact, Draenor would have likely lived on in obscurity were it not for the strange, peaceful settlers from another world. Peaceful they may have been, but they had a history they could not escape -- a past that forever linked them with the Burning Legion ... and the Burning Legion knows little of forgiveness or mercy for those that incur its wrath.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Anveena Teague and the Sunwell

Know Your Lore Anveena Teague and the Sunwell
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.

Those who travel to Sunwell Plateau may have seen her -- the inexplicable human girl trapped in a bubble above the Sunwell itself, even as demons channel dark energies below. Her story is a sad one, one of the more poignant tales in Warcraft's history, but it's by and large unknown to many who play. Which is kind of a pity, when you think about it -- Anveena Teague is one of those clear in-game representations of when written material and game content collide with little success. Despite her story being told in the manga series The Sunwell Trilogy, that story never really made it into the game in any capacity.

It also means that every time myself, one of my guildmates, or simply random people that follow me over on Twitter head into Sunwell Plateau, I'm asked who that girl the bubble is, where she came from, and why she's there. And since we have yet to address Anveena's full story in Know Your Lore, I thought it was high time she was featured in a column of her own. So we're taking a break from Pandaria this week, and instead turning our attention back in time to the days of Lordaeron's fall, the days when draconic intervention was a far more common occurrence, the days when the Scourge marched en masse over the land, to a quiet little hamlet known as Tarren Mill.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Why the Burning Crusade didn't suck

Why the Burning Crusade didn't suck
Yesterday, Brian Wood explored his thoughts on why Burning Crusade sucked. He did it in-character, playing the role of Grandpappy Frostheim, laying out his thoughts in the persona of a grumpy, crusty old dwarf telling the young'uns how bad things were back in his day. You can't take a persona like that seriously -- and you're not supposed to -- but the piece made me think about why I love Burning Crusade so much. Even after all of this time, it remains my favorite expansion, though Mists of Pandaria is pretty darn good.

Yeah, Burning Crusade had its faults. It wasn't as well-balanced as most remember, it had more than its fair share of annoying gameplay mechanics, and the fact that the developers hadn't yet solidified the roles of 10- and 25-man raids was a real drag at times. If Burning Crusade were released this year, it would have a terrible reception. There have been so many quality-of-life improvements made since its release that players would never want to live as we did in Burning Crusade ever again. Despite that, it still had many elements that I loved, and still love. Many of these things are nebulous and completely up to personal tastes -- what I love, you may hate, and that's fine. That's how opinions work.

Stranger in a strange land

To me, Outland defined the Warcraft franchise's storytelling capabilities. Though Warcraft often utilizes the same fantasy tropes you see just about everywhere in the genre, it wasn't afraid to be different -- we went to a new, completely alien planet. The playable draenei were a race of people who traverse the stars. The ethereals were merchants from another plane of existence. Outland was not just a subcontinent of Azeroth, it was a new world entirely. While it has been done in fantasy, it isn't done very often.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade

Know Your Lore: Lor'themar Theron, Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas

Know Your Lore Lor'themar Theron, Regent Lord of Quel'Thalas 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.

Who?

Generally speaking, that's the reaction you'll get when you mention Lor'themar. Though he's been leader of the blood elves since The Burning Crusade launched in 2006, barely a word has been heard from him, and few know his history. Indeed, the sindorei themselves have done little since the events involving the Sunwell's restoration. They hardly seem like strong supporters of the Horde at all. Given this, it's almost easy to see where Garrosh's viewpoint regarding the blood elves comes from.

But the very fact that few know of Lor'themar's exploits, that few know of any tales spun from the lands of Quel'Thalas, is a subtle indication of something far deeper that is actually going on in the forests. The blood elves have had to deal with the most crippling blow their society has ever faced, the destruction of the Sunwell, and the decision of how to proceed after the damage was done is something that plagues the Regent Lord to this day.

It's not easy being a leader. It's even more difficult to be a leader in the face of constant adversity and to do so while still retaining what parts of a decent creature you are while you're at it.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The OverAchiever: Why Icecrown was less fun than Sunwell

Every Thursday, The Overachiever shows you how to work toward those sweet achievement points. This week, we contemplate the effect wrought by raid achievements.

Achievements as a whole are great for World of Warcraft; they ask you to look at the game a bit differently, to create challenges for yourself, and to get involved with zones and stories that you might otherwise ignore. Unfortunately, they can also spur players and guilds to approach raid content in a way that's not necessarily fulfilling for all concerned.

Since Wrath of the Lich King, I've slowly gotten the sense that raiding as a whole is much less rewarding than it used to be, and this is a sentiment that's been echoed by a number of other players. Unfortunately, achievements -- originally intended to add another means of accomplishment to raids -- may well be among the causes.

EDIT: This article resulted in a lot of discussion, and the subject was revisited two weeks later. You'll find it here, at OverAchiever: Reconsidering achievements and raids.

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Filed under: Achievements, The Overachiever

The OverAchiever: Mountain O' Mounts in raids

Every Thursday, The Overachiever shows you how to work toward those sweet achievement points. This week, we return to flogging the guts out of bosses that might puke up a horse.

Today we're going to look at mounts that drop in (or, in one case, as part of a quest within) raids. I'd initially expected to include mounts like the Ulduar proto-drakes and Icecrown frostwyrms, but they're really more the result of a series of achievements rather than encounters themselves. Otherwise, there are more than enough pure drops to keep us occupied today; Blizzard's always been fond of making unique mounts the potential reward of difficult raid encounters, and you'll get a few extra feats of strength if you nab some of these beauties.

Also read:

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Filed under: Achievements, The Overachiever

The OverAchiever: Mountain O' Mounts in 5-man dungeons

Every Thursday, The Overachiever shows you how to work toward those sweet achievement points. This week, we continue our Mountain o' Mounts grind by beating the crap out of various bosses in the hopes that they'll barf up some transportation.

This week's article addresses the mounts you can find in 5-man content, of which there are quite a few. However, please note that I haven't included special holiday mounts like the Headless Horseman's mount or the Big Love Rocket. Even though they technically drop from 5-man content, they're only available under special circumstances, so they'll pop up in a later guide.

As a note to anyone following the Mountain o' Mounts series, I'll be preempting it for two weeks to run full guides on the Noblegarden and Children's Week 2011 holidays, which begin on April 24 and May 1 respectively. We'll return to Mountain o' Mounts on May 5.

Also read: Combining The Ambassador and Mountain O' Mounts, Mountain O' Mounts in Outland, and Mountain O' Mounts in Northrend.

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Filed under: Achievements, The Overachiever

Know Your Lore: Current Horde politics -- the Blood Elves

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.

Before I begin, I'd like to thank all of the people that commented on the last post I made that covered orc politics. Apparently orcs are a hot topic of conversation, and while I didn't respond to everyone, I did read through everything said. I do have a couple of points to address, however. First, yes, I am aware that orcs are not all brute-minded savages. There's a lot more to orcs than simple savagery; however, that savagery is something that is a basic part of what makes an orc ... orcish. It's an innate part of being an orc. Thrall seems to lack that savagery for the most part and almost seems to want to cull it from orc society in favor of a more gentle and diplomatic disposition. Garrosh, on the other hand, embraces that savagery to an alarming degree. That's where the conflict between the two of them rests. One has what the other does not. Both are extreme cases in either direction.

Second, evoking the name Garrosh Hellscream sets people off. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but I'd have to say it's a telling statement to the storytelling department that Garrosh, regardless of how much or how little he's been developed, is provoking this kind of reaction from players. Given that most writers like to evoke some sort of emotion in their readers, I can only imagine they are secretly pleased with the outrage. Right, moving on!

The blood elves, or sin'dorei as they've taken to calling themselves, have been a largely quiet presence in Wrath of the Lich King. Given this, they may seem like an odd choice to cover. Why bother talking about a race that hasn't done much to speak of since the days of Burning Crusade? Well... that's sort of the point. While the orcs, trolls, and tauren were natural additions, and the forsaken a little different but accepted at large, the blood elves were a very odd choice for an ally to many Horde players, and through the course of Burning Crusade, there was very little light shed on what made these creatures a valuable ally to the Horde because a large amount of blood elf history stemmed from events that happened prior to World of Warcraft.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Breakfast Topic: Suffer mortals, as your pathetic eardrums betray you

I hate Sindragosa. It's not the fight -- sure, the stacks of Permeating Chill are annoying as a mutilate rogue, but you can cloak them away. The Ice Tombs are even kind of fun, especially if you can /dance with her before getting frozen -- see what kind of crazy contortionist positions you can get stuck in! The Blistering Cold isn't that hard to book it out of if you keep your camera facing whatever direction you have to run, just hold down both mouse buttons when she pulls you in and you're out like lightning.

No, it's none of the above. It's her voice. It's that awful, rasping, screeching bellow. It's the way she draws out the word 'betray' that wasn't so bad the first time I heard it but let me tell you three wipes in and I was ready to turn off the sound effects entirely. I want to kill her every week not because there is loot to be had, but so that I do not have to listen to her anymore.

On the other hand, back in the days of Blackwing Lair I begged my raid leader to let me trigger the Nefarian event, just because I really wanted to hear him talk. I forget the exact number of times we wiped on Nefarian before finally killing him for the first time, but the silky way in which he said "Let the games begin" made it a little easier to take. There are other bosses and encounter voices I love -- nobody can forget Millhouse Manastorm, he of the infamous "I'm gonna light you up, sweet cheeks!" I always loved the voice of C'thun. The first time I stepped foot into AQ40 and heard that eerie, low voice from out of nowhere, politely informing me that my friends would abandon me and that I would die, I nearly yelped aloud.

But Sindragosa. Ah, Sindragosa, you have reached a level of irritation with me that rivals even Jaina Proudmoore's incessant sobbing or Kael'thas' never ending bantering in Magister's Terrace -- which now takes longer to listen to than it takes to kill him. So how about you guys -- who's tops on the voice acting in your opinion? Who do you love to hear every time you kill them? Whose voice makes you reach for the mute button?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Awesome animations



There have been some truly spectacular visual moments in Azeroth; scenes that make you gasp and glee. I'm thinking of occasions like the Scourge Invasion of Stormwind and Orgrimar or Kael'thas blowing up his room in Tempest Keep. Who can deny Wrathgate was incredible. However, there are also some awesome little animations that really add so much to the game. It's these little things that we can take for granted but sometimes jump out at us as something wonderful.

Even on a hard night of raid wiping in our guild, if someone chugs a stack of Pygmy Oil and /cower's it's bound to bring a laugh. Many a machinima has featured a /dance, from one race or many, with variously spectacular and humorous results.

Who's /flex is better, Draenei or Blood Elf? Have you ever left one of your characters alone for a while and then had their idle-animation surprise you? Are there any actions or animations you wish were in the game? What animations bring a smile to your face?

Filed under: Gnomes, Machinima, Breakfast Topics, Draenei, Blood Elves

Ask a Lore Nerd: Speculative speculation

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.

Today's edition of Ask a Lore Nerd is a bit heavy on the speculation side, so be warned before you start reading. We've had a lot of questions recently that we don't yet have answers to, but are asked frequently enough that I suppose I should see what I can say!

vyx asked...

"Okay, so speaking of life and death, this has bugged me for a while -- how do we explain the fact that some characters (Horde and Alliance legends for example) have died, but yet every Priest, Pally, Shammy and Druid can rez people anytime they want?

I realize it's a game and it wouldn't be so much fun if you died and then had to reroll a level 1, but there needs to be some type of lore explanation as to why people can be rezzed, but also can 'really die.' Are we supposed to just not worry about this or is there an explanation?"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Ask a Lore Nerd

Shifting Perspectives: State of the class, part 1 - Balance


Every Tuesday, or possibly Thursday when the writer votes on Tuesday and spends Wednesday screaming and beating her laptop over formatting errors, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week Allison Robert steals John Patricelli's column once again, secure in the knowledge that she will never be forced to atone for her crime as long as she writes something nice about ferals and keeps a respectful distance from Dan O'Halloran's whip.

I hate Tauren cat form.

Good. I got that out of my system and can write something productive. Although, believe me, if I could get away with it, an entire Shifting Perspectives would be devoted to just how much I hate Tauren cat form. I mean, just look at it! Look at the angle on the horns! The cat can't bite anything! Christ, I just -- hi, Dan. Yes, I'm totally writing the column! Look at me go!

This week, mindful as always of American election-year politicking, I'm going to borrow a page from presidential duties and write a little something I like to call "State of the Class." Druids have undergone a number of changes in the transition to Wrath of the Lich King, and will acquire even more as they level to 80. We are one of Blizzard's primary targets for both gear and role consolidation, which raises a few questions over how comfortably we're going to scale in relation to pure classes and what we can realistically expect on the march to a new level cap.

The TL:DR version of this article -- I believe our future is generally bright, the Druid community continues to have a few concerns over certain aspects of the class, our focus in PvP seems to be changing the most, and I hate Tauren cat form. This is a three-part post, so let's get started with balance. However, if you want to jump ahead to feral, you'll find that here; and the third part, restoration, is here.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Instances, Expansions, Features, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, Buffs, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King, Battlegrounds, Arena

"Inside Higher Ed" compares raiding and teaching


Inside Higher Ed was pretty much the last place I ever expected to see a serious article on World of Warcraft. The study of MMORPG's isn't really part of mainstream academia (...yet), so imagine my surprise at finding an article comparing effective raid leading to teaching. Alex Golub, an anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii, contributed an article on his guild's attempts to kill Kael'thas pre-patch.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Raiding, Bosses

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a blood elf

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the tenth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

One look at the blood elves and you might think "arrogant pop star," but their story entails much more suffering and tragedy than is at first evident. Like so many in the World of Warcraft, they have very nearly lost everything that was important to them, and more than once their entire way of life has been upset, turned around, and set in an entirely new direction. They are at once brilliant and desperate, beautiful and woefully flawed, addicted to evil magic and yet not yet beyond hope of redemption.

The blood elves are the descendants of the original "Highborne" of the night elves 10,000 years before the setting of World of Warcraft, who used to follow Queen Azshara and studied the arcane magical energies flowing through the Well of Eternity. Following the "War of the Ancients," (discussed in the article on night elves), most of their peers at the time observed that arcane energies tended to attract evil demons from the darkest dimensions in the universe, and thought the world would be better off without it. The Highborne who survived that war had gotten very used to the power of arcane magic coursing through their bodies, however, and they suffered from serious magical withdrawal when those energies were no longer available to them. From their point of view, it was cowardly not to try again, to simply conceal themselves from the demons rather than to give up arcane magic entirely. Their addiction and powerlessness made them desperate enough to turn to violence, though they were no match for the new rulers of the night elf people.

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Filed under: Horde, Blood Elves, Lore, Guides, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

The funny, morbid, and sad coins of the Dalaran fountain


Level up fishing so you can fish in the Dalaran fountain.

I'm serious. This completely nonsensible and illogical statement is brought to you by the 53 tiny lore moments you'll get if you'll just sit yourself down somewhere and level up fishing. Yes, it's boring having to fish up dozens of useless fish to get to the good stuff in Outland and Northrend. Yes, you could be farming up gold or materials that will help you level in Wrath. I don't care. Go fish.

You see, while you'll be fishing up a lot of equally useless fish in the Dalaran fountain, you'll also get coins. No, not in the sense that you'll be fishing up ingame money, but you'll fish up coins tossed into the fountain of this very old city by 53 people, many of whom will be known to you if you've played the game for any length of time. Some of them, perhaps most of them, are funny. Some are serious. Some are heartbreaking. I admit to a touch of being a lore geek, and it was wonderful being allowed a peek into the irreverent or hopeful or sad heads of Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall, or Stalvan Mistmantle. It is idiosyncratic little touches like this that make WoW hopelessly fun to play, and it is my fondest wish that whatever person at Blizzard who thought this up is pulled off whatever they're doing right now and chained to a desk until they come up with more stuff like this.

So, if you don't do anything else with your time between patch 3.02 hitting and Wrath going live...level up fishing so you can fish in the Dalaran fountain. But don't read any further if you're not interested in Wrath spoilers, because there are a few here...

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Filed under: Fishing, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Odds and ends, Expansions, Humor, Lore, Guides, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

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