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Faction, race, and World of Warcraft

Would it be World of Warcraft without the Horde and Alliance? Even if they don't need to be in direct conflict, do they need to be for it to be the Warcraft setting? It's certainly been argued in the past, both that the factions are absolutely necessary and that they are not. I've personally argued in the past that, whether or not the game has factions, it shouldn't prevent people from playing with their friends, but the counter argument must be considered - if I can play with my friends on the Horde side, and vice versa, what purpose do factions serve?

So let's actually ask that question, then - what purpose do factions serve in World of Warcraft?

We can break down the purpose of the faction divide as follows, at least in terms of intent.
  • Factions exist in World of Warcraft because at its heart, the setting was born in the original RTS. The factions help keep this flavor alive.
  • Factions allow for PvP content to be more channeled and to have team-building potential built right in. Horde players fight Alliance players, and vice versa. In the Warcraft setting, you always know who the enemy is.
  • Factions allow for more variety of experience. The quests differ - sometimes vastly so - and there can be elements at every point of the game that make use of the distinction between the factions.
There could be more arguments for factional divide - for instance, it's very hard to imagine a WoW where orcs and draenei were on the same faction - but let's discuss how these three work, or if they work.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore

Breakfast Topic: Which playable race would you like to see come to WoW?

Those players who dreamed of a future in which they could be naga had their dreams realized and crushed in less than a day because of foreign language interviews with Ghostcrawler. But instead of being disappointed in what we won't have let's talk about what races we want to see made playable in the next expansion and beyond.

Personally, I'm holding out for murlocs. Perhaps that MRGRGL sound we've been terrified of hearing for so long was actually a friendly greeting, a request for a hug or even just a handshake. Perhaps making them a playable race would be the first step towards reaching out in friendship to our semi-aquatic neighbors. Come on, Ghostcrawler, if you can't give us naga, surely you can make murlocs happen, right?

But that's probably a long shot. What do you think, readers? Which playable race is going to be headed to WoW next?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Do unlikely race/role combos disturb you?

Breakfast Topic Do unlikely racerole combos disturb you
Gnome warrior tanks disturb me. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I just can't hang with a gnome in this role. Especially in PvP content, their size relative to other PC races sends any semblance of reality out the window. In raids, their small size makes them annoyingly more difficult to spot. But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this role/race combo to me is how much less confidence-inspiring these tiny tidbits of tanking are to me than, say, an orc warrior. I'll follow my orc warrior anywhere, even the proverbial cliff, because I trust him to fight off the baddies once we've rezzed at the bottom. But a gnome? Sorry, guys and gals. You're like Chicklets chewing gum. It's just not working for me.

I have a friend who doesn't like to see human males in magic-using roles. He has a pretty classic view of spellcasters as refined in both intellect and physique, and he just doesn't enjoy seeing WoW's rather beefy-looking male models flinging spells in the field.

Whether your reasons are aesthetic or practical, have you found any particular race/class combinations to feel a bit dodgy? Is there a race/roll combination in game that just doesn't work for you?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Why do you play what you play?

Why do you play what you play
Life is complicated. There's no simple answers to most of our problems, and even if you think there are, there are lots of people who disagree with you. Life is fraught with tension, with situations that require tact and even diplomacy to navigate.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy playing warriors. I enjoy their straightforward approach to problem solving. In the real world, my troubles are usually things that simply can't be dealt with via the application of a gigantic axe to their heads (my bills just refuse to die no matter how much I try and stab them) but I face no such difficulty in World of Warcraft. To me, the game is escapism, a couple of hours in a world where the stakes are larger than life, but the solutions are much more primal and basic. Sometimes you just want to yell Hulk smash.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

All races will be playable by everyone in patch 5.0.4

All races will be playable in patch 504
In a stunning move, Blizzard has decided to make all races playable --including pandaren-- in the pre-expansion patch, while the pandaren will be available to all after launch. Even if you only have vanilla WoW or The Burning Crusade and even if you don't plan on getting Mists of Pandaria, you will be able to roll a character from any race.

With the release of patch 5.0.4, we're making all the races of Azeroth playable by anyone, no matter which version or expansion of World of Warcraft they own. This includes the enigmatic pandaren, who will become available for play when Mists of Pandaria is released on Tuesday, September 25. We want the entire World of Warcraft community to be able to embrace their inner goblin, blood elf, worgen, draenei, or pandaren from the moment they step foot into the world of Azeroth.

Now, the only hard part will be choosing a name. Who will you be next?


The upper levels and their accompanying lands will still only be available to those with the appropriate expansions, of course. I think this will be especially good for new players, as well as those you bring in with the Scroll of Resurrection or Recruit-A-Friend.

Update: Pandaren won't be available until after Mists of Pandaria is released but will still be playable by anyone, regardless of latest expansion owned. Full clarification by Zarhym is after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: Would you like to change factions without changing races?

Breakfast Topic Would you want to change faction, but keep your race
When I first heard that Blizzard was implementing faction changes, I was so excited. I want my gnome to go Horde! But it was nothing that fun (or complicated). Finding out I would also have to change races took all the fun out of it.

I have always wanted (in any MMO with factions) the ability to change sides without having to change anything else. In the physical world, we have defectors, immigrants, and slaves who have become citizens. My Russian professor was an escapee from the Soviet Union. It was her lifelong wish to change factions, and she was so happy to be in the United States.

I know it is complicated design-wise, and I completely understand why Blizzard doesn't do it, but I think it would be perfectly logical that some residents of Azeroth would want to change sides. A human might want to live the simple life of a tauren. A blood elf may long to return to nature and attempt to fit in with the night elves. A gnome and a goblin might fall in love.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Which WoW race do you resemble the most?

Image
I really enjoy how the races in WoW have such distinct characters. Yes, they look different, but that's not the same thing. And it isn't so much about the accents, either. Their lore, their attitude, the way they die -- it's all so much fun. It also makes it difficult to enjoy the distinctness of your character in other games, when your race doesn't change how you speak or even dance. (Spoiler: SWTOR.)

Now, as much as I love Lady Sylvanas and even though I am drawn (by our Kelly Aarons) as a blood elf, I think I most resemble a gnome. I'm average height, mind you. And I have a large collection of Horde clothing. But my voice, my laugh and my attitude are rather gnomish.

If I were restricted to only Horde races, I'd have to go with troll -- even though I had the tusks removed years ago. (HAHAHAHAHHA. Sorry.) They have fun hairstyles, they are pretty mellow unless roused, and they have a curvier body type than the evil blood elves.

Which race do you most resemble and why? Is it primarily a personality thing or a physical similarity? And no, the race you choose doesn't have to be a playable one -- so if you think you resemble a naga, tell us all about it!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Crowd control basics by class

So, crowd control. Contrary to the name, it isn't really a good way of controlling crowds; rather, it's a great way to control the size of the crowd of mobs mercilessly attacking your tank. Crowd control in this post means abilities that can be applied prior to a pull. We'll get to abilites like Psychic Scream, warriors' Intimidating Shout and Shadowfury a bit later, but they're not our primary concern right now. There are some situations, particularly in the Rise of the Zandalari dungeons where pre-pull CC isn't possible (such as the adds on the way to Nalorakk in Zul'Aman) where you'll need to CC on the fly, but this is rarely the case.

Not all classes have crowd control abilities of the type we're talking about here. Warriors and death knights have a few stuns, fears and Hungering Cold, all of which can be put to excellent use but aren't really crowd control in this sense as they can't be cast prior to the pull.

So which classes have these pre-pull crowd control abilities, and what are they?

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Race to World First documentary releasing soon

Looking for Group Productions has been hard at work on its documentary Race to World First for a good long while now, capturing many top-tier World of Warcraft guilds' attempts at claiming coveted world firsts in the raiding game as well as following Blood Legion's race to a top spot. Set to release in a few weeks, Race to World First looks like it's going to be an introspective look at the time and energy that many of these guilds put into the raiding game, as well as an examination of the multicultural nature of the game and the general excitement that goes along with MMO accomplishments.

Each week, Race to World First looks at clips from players in guilds that have been fighting for or actually achieved world firsts. Looking back a bit, this clip with Narilka of Ensidia chronicles her time spent with the guild downing Kil'jaeden at the end of The Burning Crusade when she was still just 16 years old.

We loved having the Race to World First production team at the WoW Insider reader meetup at BlizzCon in 2010 -- they were some of the nicest guys and had a blast talking to real players and real fans. I am excited to see this documentary. Check out the trailer -- you might even see some familiar faces!

Filed under: Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Do you have a favorite race?

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

The majority of the people who play chose their main character's race because it appealed to them for one reason or another. Some people play a certain race because of the racial traits and the benefits they provide in a raid. The extra crit or intellect can be the defining choice when a raider is picking his or her race. A serious PvP player may choose his race based on the offensive or defensive racial traits for that race. For the average player, though, we choose our race because something appealed to us: the look of that race, the lore, or maybe it was the thought of how playing a certain race and class combination would play out.

My very first toon in WoW was a gnome rogue. The thought of something so small jumping out from the shadows and stabbing you in the kneecaps before vanishing made me laugh. I moved onto a dwarf hunter a few weeks later and never looked back. The dwarven race has always been my favorite because of their lore, the way they carry themselves, their attitude. When I think of dwarves, I think of Scotland and bagpipe music. In Wrath of the Lich King, I spent more time in the Howling Fjord than any other zone. If I could have taken the music from the Fjord and put it in Ironforge, my dwarf would have been drunk on ale and in heaven. Every character I have, save for my first rogue and my priest, is a dwarf.

What is your favorite race? Why does that race appeal to you? Are there any races that you can't stand to play or dislike in general?

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

Spiritual Guidance: So you wanna play a priest, part 2

The word priest is derived from the Greek work presbyteros, meaning "elder." While Dawn Moore is neither Greek nor an elder, she has 300 days played between her various priests (two-thirds of which was probably spent AFK) and will do her best to relay the information learned in those days each week in Spiritual Guidance.

This week instead of one of my typical, eloquent (ha!) introductions, I am going to tell you a story. A story about a machine. The machine was an ancient treasure, crafted by the titans and unearthed by a young priestess. The machine was very powerful and was said to hold the answers to all questions, even the ultimate ones. The priestess honored this machine with her life and wished only to do good with it.

One day, while traversing the icy northern valleys of the Storm Peaks, the priestess crossed paths with a leopard. A snow leopard. The priestess slowly took guard, not wishing to agitate the beast. It seemed to be of no matter, however, as the beast was furious with hunger, and it leapt at her without hesitation. The priestess scrambled to her right, calling up a protective shield as the leopard came at her. It seemed she would have to do combat; she began to recite the words to a holy prayer aloud. Unfortunately, before she could finish her prayer, the beast broke her barrier and tackled her to the ground. As she fell, she panicked, thinking of the machine tucked carefully in her satchel. The sound of metal crunching and contorting split through the sounds of the leopard's growls. Or maybe it was just the sound of the priestess' heart? Whatever it was, the priestess screeched in anger, frightening the animal off of her as she called forth the shadows. A protodrake later dined on the leopard's broken corpse.

The priestess hurried to Mimiron, master tinkerer and watcher of the titans. She begged him to repair the machine but he shook his head sadly. The machine was ruined, and only the absent titans themselves could restore it. The priestess lowered her head solemnly.

Don't understand what that story is about? Don't worry about it. It's time for the second installment of my holy and discipline healing guide. Let's get started.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Breakfast Topic: The other kind of hybrids

In conversations about WoW, the word "hybrid" brings forth images of paladins, druids and so forth. But interestingly enough, WoW has another kind of hybrid. I am referring, of course, to characters with inter-species ancestry. For those who care about the lore of Warcraft, feelings on hybrids range from "I don't really care" to "They're awesome!" to "They ruin the lore!" An example of a character who elicits the first opinion is Lantresor of the Blade. Is he a hybrid? Yes. Do people make a big deal out of it? Not really. His ancestry simply adds a nice bit of backstory to (at the time Burning Crusade was released) a new character.

Two examples of well-received hybrids are Garona Halforcen and Rexxar. Garona, originally created as a half-human, half-orc hybrid, has in recent times been retconned into a half-orc, half-draenei -- still a popular character among those that know of her. Rexxar, the half-ogre, half-orc Champion of the Horde, has been a popular character since his creation in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne's orc bonus campaign.

However, hybrids can also be targets of immense hatred from the fan base. Rhonin, while not a hybrid himself, is often accused of being a "Mary Sue" by fans, with one of the most popular reasons being that he is married to a high elf, Veressa Windrunner. His twin sons, by extension, have been poorly received. There was some anger when it was revealed that the first Guardian of Tirisfal was Alodi, a half-elf.

But among all the disputed hybrids, none is more controversial than Med'an. The son of the aforementioned Garona Halforcen and Medivh, last Guardian of the original Council of Tirisfal, Med'an is quarter-orc, quarter-draenei and half-human. This apparently gives him the natural aptitude to not only be a mage, but a shaman and paladin as well. Not only this, but he becomes a new Guardian of Tirisfal, which drives some to say that he "ruins the point" of Warcraft III. Regardless of your opinions on the character, the controversy created by Med'an has few rivals within Warcraft's history.

In addition to hybrid characters, some races are alleged by some to be hybrids. The drakonid, humanoid dragons, are said in some places to be half-dragon. The same goes for harpies and other races.

What are your feelings about hybrids? Should drakonid be the next playable race, or should Deathwing just eliminate them all in Cataclysm? Or are you somewhere in between?

This article has been brought to you by Seed, Aol's guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com. Watch for the next call for submissions and a chance to submit your own article. The next new byline you see here may be yours!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

The Queue: Grey guilds



Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's (almost) daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky be your host today.

I'm just going to let that video speak for itself today, and get started on the questions.

@sammagher asked...

"Why do grey items even exist, if only to be sold to vendors or occasionally used as RP gear?"

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Filed under: The Queue

Race changes confirmed



The possibility of changing your character's race was indicated at BlizzCon 2009, during one of the panels. But then the news about it really got hot when Faction changes were officially announced, because eagle-eyed players noticed the following damning question in the new program's FAQs: Can I use this service to change race on my existing faction? The answer was confirmation enough for most folks: No. We will be releasing a Race change service in the near future for this purpose.

But, this wouldn't be the first time a bit of miscommunication or other confusion has occurred. The final confirmation of upcoming race changes came today, confirmed by Neth again in an official forum thread. All she was actually doing there was referencing the original thread about Faction changes, which had already said Race changes were coming. The announcement even showed up on the official Warcraft Twitter account. So this isn't exactly a brand new thing. Still, it's nice to have it confirmed all over again.

Race changes, of course, subtly differ from Faction changes because you'll still stay Alliance if you're Alliance, or Horde if you're Horde. Race changes might be performed for aesthetic reasons -- you might just prefer the look of a sexy little gnome. Still, I bet most Race changes will be to get access to "better" racials. Especially if racials do get revamped in Cataclysm, a lot of players will see the grass a little greener on the other side. Every Man For Himself, anyone?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Forums

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