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Posts with tag karazhan

WoW Archivist: The keys to content

Karazhan entrance
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Keys in WoW have come in many forms. Some hang around our neck. Some hide in belts. Others open aircraft hangars or other, very special places. Some let us pretend to be rogues. Some never made it to the live game. Some we eat or play with. Some help us get the mail or reach new heights. We find some in unexpected places. A few are just trash.

This column is not about those keys. This is about the keys that used to be a Big Deal. The keys that people went to extraordinary lengths to obtain. The keys that put you on everyone's friends list. The keys to content.

Literal gates

Today, content is rarely locked. Players take it for granted that when a new dungeon or raid goes live, they will have immediate access. For the first half of WoW's history, however, this was not the case at all.

Vanilla WoW locked away virtually all of its end-game content. Raids required attunement, which means that every single person in your raid had to complete a certain quest line.

Keys worked differently. Content that required a key wasn't gated according to some arbitrary release schedule, such as the Heart of Fear -- but by actual gates.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Breakfast Topic: What characterizes WoW's best raids?

Breakfast Topic What characterizes WoW's best raids
People disagree a lot as to what WoW's best raids have been, not least because it's tough to evaluate how "good" a raid was until after some time has passed. For example, an MMO Champion forum poll a few months ago selected Icecrown Citadel as the game's best "final raid," and yet, I remember lots of players complaining that it hadn't been anywhere near as good as Black Temple a the time. You also have to wonder about the extent to which accessibility plays a role. Most people who saw Sunwell at level 70 loved it, but that wasn't a lot of people.

Anyway, three of the most frequently cited "best raids" of WoW are Karazhan, Black Temple, and Ulduar. I thought it might be worthwhile to ask -- what made them so good?
  • Iconic drops or rewards Many of the drops from these places are instantly recognizable. Everybody wanted the "squid staff" off Illhoof and the Nightbane shield, and you can't swing a dead cat in trade chat without hitting another Black Temple transmog run. Even Ulduar, in the age of gear consolidation, had memorable drops.
  • Atmosphere Karazhan was essentially an overgrown haunted house. Black Temple was a fortress full of Broken that would be hostile until you set Akama's soul free, with the brooding Illidan perched on top. Ulduar was an exceptionally beautiful fortress concealing its true purpose as a prison.
  • At least one unexpected encounter You couldn't beat Kara without besting Medivh's ghost at chess, Illidan was one of WoW's most inventive fights, and, as nightmarishly difficult as it was, I still cherish my guild's first Yogg-0 kill.
What made something WoW's "best raid" for you? What mechanics or features would you most like to see repeated in a future raid?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Raiding

World of Warcraft: Dark Riders now available for preorder

World of Warcraft Dark Riders now available for preorder ANY
Once upon a time, there was a Warcraft comic series. It ended in 2009 with a special issue that featured an entirely new cast of characters, both Alliance and Horde. The premise was that the series would continue on with two individual comics, one Alliance-themed, and one Horde. This shifted over the years into two graphic novels -- World of Warcraft: Blood Sworn for the Horde and World of Warcraft: Dark Riders for the Alliance.

While we've heard nothing more about Blood Sworn other than it's in development, Blizzplanet has some new news for those waiting eagerly for Dark Riders. You can now preorder Dark Riders on Amazon.com for $21.04, and it has a release date set for May 7, 2013. This 144-page hardcover graphic novel from DC Comics features an all-new story by Michael Costa, better known for his work on Transformers, and artwork by the talented Neil Googe.

Dark Riders revolves around the story of the Scythe of Elune and, more importantly, the mysterious Dark Riders of Deadwind Pass, who have been mentioned more than once in quests but never really delved into. The title characters for the book are not your usual Warcraft heroes. They're adventurers like us -- ordinary Azeroth folk who have been plunged into extraordinary situations. It's been a long time coming, but I'm looking forward to finally having this one in my hands.

Filed under: News items, Lore

Breakfast Topic: Thankfully I can now wear pants when I tank

Breakfast Topic Thankfully I can now wear pants when I tank
I have never forgotten how annoying it was to tank content I outgeared back in The Burning Crusade.

For everyone else, going back to older content was a delightful romp, a chance to flex one's digital muscles and unleash the power gained through gearing up. For a tank, it was often an excuse in taking off pieces of armor in order to lower your chances of dodging or otherwise avoiding damage so that you could generate enough rage (or take enough damage that you could get healed in the case of prot paladins), because if you went in your full raid gear, you could forget about generating any kind of threat whatsoever.

I remember the day we were getting two people through the lengthy Karazhan attunement quests, which meant I had to tank Steam Vault, Shadow Labyrinth and the Arcatraz. This meant I was going pantsless the whole time.

Honestly, one of the joys of being a bitter, cynical, grumpy ol' guy is that I remember every single annoyance I endured during The Burning Crusade. Not only am I not wearing rose-colored glasses, the second they start to form on my brow, I whip them off, stomping up and down and them while screaming no pants no pants never any pants no pants and then I alternate between demented laughter and hideous shrieking wails of agony. Well, or I just smirk. One of those.

How about you? What mechanical change have you enjoyed the most in recent expansions?

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Why World of Warcraft lore matters

The importance of lore
I started playing World of Warcraft with no real idea of the Warcraft universe. I'd played a lot of RPGs, but I wasn't a big RTS player and I was generally more into tabletop play. My gateway drugs for the MMO genre were games like Planescape: Torment. (Man, I loved Planescape.)

As a result, my first time through the game, I barely paid attention to what I was doing, who I was fighting or why. It wasn't until I got to Molten Core that I started really thinking about what was going on. How did Thaurissan summon Ragnaros when he clearly had not intended to, and what was the Firelord up to? At the time, Ragnaros seemed astonishing to me, an entity of pure fire older than the whole world. The war between his Dark Iron servants and the dragons and orcs atop the Blackrock Spire became a central part of my game as I moved on to Blackwing Lair. I started paying a lot more attention to the dungeons and quests I was running.

Once we hit Outland and I got to Shadowmoon Valley, I ran the Cipher of Damnation quest line (a quest that is all I could hope for in a long quest chain, frankly), and the end of that quest line raised so many questions that I often point to it as the beginning of my lore nerd status.

What is the Cipher of Damnation? If it's the spell Kil'jaeden taught to Gul'dan that he used to raise the Hand of Gul'dan and sever the connection between the orcs and the elements, it's clearly not all it can do. Since using it summons Cyrukh the Firelord and since Oronok Torn-heart says it has been used "in the history of our worlds," I am now convinced that the Cipher is the spell that Thaurissan used to summon Ragnaros. But where did he learn it? It was also the spell Kael'thas used to try and summon Kil'jaeden through the Sunwell, which continued past Kael's death in Magister's Terrace.

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

Weapons of Lore: Atiesh and Andonisus, Reaper of Souls

It was the first caster legendary available to players, but the amount of time and devotion it took to get almost guaranteed that only a tiny piece of the player population actually obtained it. Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian wasn't a particularly fancy weapon by today's standards. It was simple, smooth staff topped with the carving of a raven and quietly adorned with a bit of ribbon. But to those that followed Warcraft's lore, the simple design was easily recognized as the staff of one of the most powerful casters of all time.

Atiesh was the epitome of everything a caster desired, largely because of its roots within the history of Warcraft. This wasn't just a simple staff; this was the weapon of choice for the last known Guardian of Azeroth, the wizard Medivh. Medivh was featured heavily in the original Warcraft RTS games but hasn't been seen since the end of Warcraft III. Atiesh, on the other hand, was seen by many -- and craved by many more. And the fate of this unusual staff ties in with another legendary weapon most never encountered: Andonisus, Reaper of Souls.

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Filed under: Lore

The missed opportunity of 20-man raiding

With the release of the Raid Finder and the recent changes to valor points, the debate about 10- vs. 25-man raiding, which is harder to run, and which is harder to balance rages on. I have friends on both sides of the 10/25 debate. I understand both points of view, and I think both are utterly wrong. Completely, absolutely wrong. The issue to me is when we went from 40-man raids down to the current raid sizes, the decision to offer 25-man raids didn't really work. I think we should have gone to 10- and 20-man raiding at the dawn of The Burning Crusade, and I still think we should.

We had 20-man raids back in classic WoW -- two of them, in fact, Zul'Gurub and Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj. Neither exists as a 20-man raid any more, so this may seem odd to players who didn't raid then, but these were considered the small raids. People who had just spent hours raiding in Molten Core, Blackwing Lair or AQ40 would put together these runs on the fly to gear their alts or get a shot at off-spec loot, while other guilds that didn't have the numbers for 40-man raids would spend their time raiding these while trying to build up their numbers.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King

World of Wardrobe: Going out in Outland for tier 4

Heading back to pick up some awesome armor sets from vanilla WoW or that dazzling weapon that'll have your enemies cowering in fear? Transmogrification makes it possible -- and World of Wardrobe shows you how.

Now that we've finished our whirlwind tour of Medivh's home and have two pieces of tier 4 in our pockets to show for it, it's time to head to the main highlight of The Burning Crusade expansion and dig up the rest of it. While Karazhan existed on Azeroth, the rest of tier 4 exists in Outland, scattered between two smaller raids -- the lairs of the pitlord Magtheridon and Gruul the Dragonkiller. Both raids were mercifully short when compared to the length of Karazhan, but both required some precision timing by raids to complete successfully.

Last week, we touched a little on attunement chains for The Burning Crusade. Long, arduous and a complete pain for those trying to get in on raiding late in the game, the attunement chains in Burning Crusade were systematically removed as the expansion went on. For those who jumped into raiding when The Burning Crusade was launched, however, both Gruul and Magtheridon were required kills to get to the next level of raiding content with the next tier of raiding gear.

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Filed under: World of Wardrobe

World of Wardrobe: Kicking around Karazhan for tier 4, part 2

Heading back to pick up some awesome armor sets from vanilla WoW or that dazzling weapon that'll have your enemies cowering in fear? Transmogrification makes it possible -- and World of Wardrobe shows you how.

Last week, we started the journey to pick up the first raiding tier of The Burning Crusade. Tier 4 was a bit of a revolution in the way that tier gear was obtained. Players no longer had to wait for their particular piece of gear to drop; instead, they looted tokens that were then turned in for the gear of their choice. We saw the beginnings of this back in tier 2.5, but the organizational element of it was sadly missing. By the time The Burning Crusade launched, players no longer had to obtain secondary items for their tier; the tokens were all that was required. But there were other differences that were unique to Burning Crusade raids -- mainly, the placement of tier loot.

If you wanted to raid in vanilla WoW, doing so required attuning yourself to the various raids available. In the case of Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Onyxia's Lair, this was done by completing a quest chain and obtaining an item or clicking an object that would allow you passage into the raid zone. When Ahn'Qiraj was launched, raiders had to complete an epic quest chain in order to open the gates to the raid, and non-raiders had to gather resources and supplies for the battle that would happen after. By the time the 40-man version of Naxxramas rolled around, all that was required was reputation, some gold, and a few items to get in.

This all changed with The Burning Crusade, and so did tier sets.

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Filed under: World of Wardrobe

World of Wardrobe: Kicking around Karazhan for tier 4, part 1

Heading back to pick up some awesome armor sets from vanilla WoW or that dazzling weapon that'll have your enemies cowering in fear? Transmogrification makes it possible -- and World of Wardrobe shows you how.

After the sheer confusion of tier 2.5, players had one more opportunity to get tier pieces in the form of tier 3, available solely from the 40-man version of Naxxramas. As of the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, Naxxramas relocated to Northrend and tier 3 went goodbye, to the disappointment of tier collectors. It's been hinted that the new Darkmoon Faire in patch 4.3 may offer ways to obtain tier sets that are no longer obtainable -- hopefully, this includes the long-lost tier 3.

Tier 4, on the other hand, was a step in a new direction. Players were no longer required to obtain additional materials to pick up their tier pieces; all they needed was their class token, and they were good to go. However, tier 4 wasn't found in just a single raid dungeon; it was spread all over Outland in a series of introductory raids meant to prepare raiders for the rigors of Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, and eventually The Battle for Hyjal and Black Temple.

Tier 4 is scattered through three different raid zones, and today we're going to venture into a zone that still stands out as a favorite in many raider's eyes -- the incomprehensible tower of Karazhan. Once the home of Medivh, Karazhan also offers a variety of cool weapons and off-set armor pieces along with the elusive tier 4.

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Filed under: World of Wardrobe

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

About the Bloggers: Daniel Whitcomb

About the Bloggers introduces you to the people behind WoW Insider. You can find articles on more of our staffers in earlier About the Bloggers profiles.

What do you do for WoW Insider?

My primary focus these days is to write Lichborne, the weekly death knight column. I also write the Tuesday Morning Post, a weekly maintenance day roundup of all the news that's fit to print from the past few days of WoW. I used to do a lot more posting of general news, spending at least a few hours a day just scouring everywhere for juicy stuff, but then I had to get a day job again. Still, I try to do what I can. WoW Insider is a great place to work. I have pretty cool coworkers, and I get to write about stuff I love. What's not to like?

What's your main?

My main is, of course, a human death knight. (Yes, I'd rather be a high elf. I won't even lie.) I do a little bit of everything, if only so I can write with authority about whatever I need to for Lichborne, but my preferred spec of the moment is 2H PVE frost DPS. Right now, it feels like the tree and spec with the most consistent and flavorful rotation and role to it.

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Filed under: About the Bloggers

About the Bloggers: Anne Stickney

About the Bloggers introduces you to the people behind WoW Insider. You can find articles on more WI staffers in earlier About the Bloggers entries.

What do you do for WoW Insider?

Oh, man. I write Know Your Lore on Sundays, along with the roleplay column All the World's a Stage. On Mondays, you can catch the Weekly Podcast Roundup. On Thursdays, I write World of WarCrafts, and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I write up The Daily Quest. In addition, I sometimes fill in on The Queue, pop in on the WoW Insider Show when asked, and I do those little guide graphics on the side of the site, too.

In short, I write. A lot. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Filed under: About the Bloggers

How I learned to stop worrying and love level 70

It all started on a lark. Some friends wanted to run BWL, but for whatever reason I said, "Hey, why not do Black Temple instead?" In my opinion, BT is one of the best instances in the game, with some fantastic architecture and art and really excellent boss design, both visually and in terms of what the designers did mechanically at the time. The Reliquary of Souls encounter is still fascinating to watch, and I'm kind of a fanboy for Teron Gorefiend. To be honest, I still find myself wondering if Illidan was being controlled by Gul'dan, considering that Gorefiend, Gul'dan's first death knight, ended up gravitating to the Temple.

On our way to the Black Temple, as a lark, I asked if I could bring my level 70 warrior I'd started the week before Cataclysm dropped in order to test the new talent spec and leveling changes. Oh, and because I have a problem. I figured what the heck, I could maybe snag a couple of pieces of gear that would last into the mid-70s if I ever played her again.

Six drops later, I'd locked her XP gain and run Hyjal, Karazhan, ZA and Sunwell on her, and I am probably going to do so again.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade

Shifting Perspectives: A history of feral weapons

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. This week, we visit a now-vanished world.

Once upon a time, feral druids had their own specialized set of weapons. This was very good, because it meant that you weren't rolling against half the raid when an upgrade dropped. This was also very bad, because it meant that 98% of the game's weapons were completely useless for us.

This was before the dark times. Before gear consolidation. Before every two-bit jackass with a hard-on for agility thought himself entitled to the armory of the game's noblest class.

They were elegant weapons for a more civilized age.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

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