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Know Your Lore: The tauren peoples of Azeroth

Know Your Lore The tauren peoples of Azeroth
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.

As of right now, there are three known sub-families of tauren humanoids on Azeroth:
  • The shu'halo of Kalimdor, who believe in the provenance of the Earthmother and the sun and moon, An'she and Mu'sha.
  • The taunka of Northrend, who have grown to seek dominance over the elements via extortion and compulsion of the elemental spirits.
  • The yaungol of Pandaria, who are even more extreme in their dominant approach, viewing fire as both the weapon by which they will conquer the land and a source of mystical strength.
What's interesting to me about all three of these known offshoots of the tauren people is their diversity of beliefs as well as their physical differences from one another. Both yaungol and taunka have marked physical differences from the tauren of Kalimdor. Are any of these people similar to their pre-Sundering ancestors, or have all three groups diverged? More interestingly, despite there being no current record of the Titans having anything to do with the origin of the tauren, there are definitely tauren represented in the visual art of the Ulduar complex. Why?

At present we have no reason not to believe that the tauren are not native to Azeroth. Therefore, we have questions to ask. This particular KYL is dedicated to asking those questions, and speculating on what the answers might be.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria

Two Bosses Enter: Aethas Sunreaver vs. Roanauk Icemist

In Two Bosses Enter, WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches, bosses, leaders, and powerful figures of World of Warcraft face off in the squared circle. Your vote determines who wins and claims the season title.

In last week's thrilling episode of Two Bosses Enter, Scryer head honcho Voren'thal the Seer went head-to-head against Yorg Stormheart, king of the Frostborn dwarves. Vorenthal's magister abilities were not match for the dwarven mountain king and his crazy hammer of jormungar bashing. Yorg Stormheart, also known as Muradin Bronzebeard, easily trounced this round, giving the dwarf a bona fide win.

This week's matchup signals the end of the first round of exhibition season one with an all-Horde fight between Archmage Aethas Sunreaver of the Sunreaver faction versus Roanauk Icemist, proud taunka chieftain of the Dragonblight. Aethas' leadership, vigilence, and savvy goes up against the brute strength and cunning of an elder taunka warrior. Only you readers have the power to decide who goes on to the next round.

Vote now -- the fate of the universe depends on your action.

Who wins? Archmage Aethas Sunreaver vs. Roanauk Icemist
Archmage Aethas Sunreaver (The Sunreavers)1565 (55.4%)
Roanauk Icemist (The Taunka)1261 (44.6%)

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Filed under: Two Bosses Enter

Know Your Lore: Current Horde politics -- the tauren

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.

The tauren have often been viewed as the "good" guys of the Horde. While the orcs, blood elves, forsaken and trolls have all had various unsavory qualities, the tauren race stands out as a genuinely peaceful, altruistic race of spiritual people that want nothing but what's best for the earth and the spirits it contains. Despite their seemingly good intentions, this does not leave the tauren without conflicts of their own, and when a closer look is taken at their current activities, some questions still beg to be answered. The history of the tauren is arguably just as lengthy as that of the orcs or the blood elves, the major difference being that the history of the tauren race isn't really documented anywhere to be seen save for a small set of scrolls on Elder Rise in Thunder Bluff. Given that the Horde in general seems to lean more towards using violence to solve their conflicts, where do the tauren fit in, and why did they choose to sign up with the Horde in the first place?

The answer stretches all the way back to Warcraft III, when Warchief Thrall traveled to Kalimdor on the advice of the Prophet, a mysterious figure who would later be revealed as Medivh. After landing in Kalimdor, Thrall and his people found themselves in a much harsher land than the one they'd left, with new enemies like the centaur, a tribal race of primitive, bloodthirsty creatures, half-humanoid and half-horse in appearance. But Durotar was not without allies, as Thrall discovered when he happened across the tauren.

The tauren were originally nomads with no real "home" to speak of -- they simply traveled from place to place, living off the land in large groups or tribes. It is unknown as to how many of these different tribes actually exist, because of this nomadic nature. As they never really settled in any one particular place, the tauren were literally scattered all over the world, though the majority of them were concentrated in Kalimdor. Thrall came across a tauren who was under attack by the centaur and saved him, a tauren from the Bloodhoof tribe led by Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof. Chieftain Cairne was both grateful for the rescue of his tribesman and intrigued by the nobility and savagery of the orcish race. He explained to the warchief why the Bloodhoof were traveling; while his people had been nomads for centuries, Chieftain Cairne wished to return to the verdant lands of Mulgore, the ancestral homeland of his people. Thrall spoke of the orcs and their flight to Kalimdor to find their destiny, and Cairne told him of an oracle to the north, offering to give him the location of the oracle in exchange for protection from the savage centaur on their journey to Mulgore. Thrall agreed, doubtless feeling no small connection to the chieftain and his wish to find a stable place in which his people could settle and thrive.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The Queue: I'm back. It's me, DP.


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Today I am pleased to announce something even bigger than a new WoW expansion. In fact, it has nothing to do with WoW at all, but it's still something every single person reading this blog will want to know about. It's something that will bring excitement to all of our lives. Our inner children will burst forth in joy at this announcement. This is something that's 17 years in the making, folks. That's probably longer than some of you have been alive.

Yes, that's right. Don't Copy That Floppy is getting a sequel.

Naix asked...


"Will we ever see each faction get their own special class again like the Paladin and Shaman?"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

BlizzCast episode 9 released

BlizzCast #9 was released very recently, and it's quite short this time around, only about 11 minutes long. It's short because it only covers one thing. It contains Chris Metzen reading the prologue to Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.

The prologue is centered primarily on the native races in Northrend and how they react to the unnatural storms brought on by the Lich King's inner turmoil; the Tuskarr through community and the Taunka through defiance. We also see the exact nature of that turmoil, catching a glimpse of just how much of Arthas is left in there (or Ner'zhul for that matter), and we see it all to the tune of Metzen's sultry voice.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Winds of the North achievement getting fixed

When you log in the day after patch 3.0.8 goes live, odds are that if you've hit 80, you'll be picking up a relatively free achievement. Winds of the North is an achievement that's been more or less impossible to get since Wrath was released -- it requires you to get Exalted with all three of the "starter" reputations for your faction, depending on whether you're Horde or Alliance. But while it's relatively easy to get Exalted with the overall reputaiton for your faction (Horde Expedition or Alliance Vanguard), it's very tough to get Exalted with the reputations within that faction (Explorer's League, Valiance Expedition, Frostborn and the Silver Covenant for the Alliance, and Hand of Vengeance, Taunka, Warsong Offensive and the Sunreavers for the Horde -- whew). There are almost no daily quests for any of those factions, and even just doing all of the quests is designed to get you Exalted with the major faction, not the minor ones.

Patch 3.0.8 will fix this, and only require you to get Exalted with the overall faction. Which you probably already are, since if you don't wear a Champion tabard during the endgame instances, you'll instead earn rep with the starter reputation for your faction. (Not to mention that even before you get there, the mini-factions all add up to the major faction, so if you get Revered with two of the mini-factions, you'll be Exalted with the overall faction.) Got all that? In short, Blizzard built an achievement into the game without realizing how hard it really was to get. And in the next patch, they're going to change it so that even if you haven't been paying attentention, you've probably already gotten it. So enjoy the free points.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Factions, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath 101: Factions and reputation

Reputation in Wrath of the Lich King works a lot like it did in The Burning Crusade, except refined. Most of your reputation will come from dungeon runs and questing, and not grinding mobs off in some random corner of the world. At the same time, they've thrown in some 'extra' hooks to some of the reputations that make it pretty different from what it used to be, for better or for worse. That's what we'll be digging into here.

Factions
The Horde and the Alliance each get a set of factions: The Horde Expedition and the Alliance Vanguard. These are a bit unusual, because those two primary factions have four other secondary factions. For the most part, those secondary factions don't have any rewards of their own. As you gain reputation with the sub-factions, your overall Horde Expedition or Alliance Vanguard reputation goes up, and that determines your rewards. Why did they do it that way? I don't know, but they did!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Factions, Guides, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW Insider previews the zones of Northrend


We showed you what Northrend has to offer in pictoral form last night, but here's a rundown of the various zones you'll see up in the frozen north when you take that boat or zeppelin. Northrend definitely seems like some of the best work Blizzard has ever done -- there's a zone-wide city of Trolls, we're getting visits from new NPCs like the Oracles (talking Murlocs!) and the Tuskarr and Taunka, and old visits from groups like The Venture Company, the Titans, and old Hemet Nesingwary himself. And the richness of available landscapes here is amazing as well, from the chilly flats of the Borean Tundra to the sheltered heat of the rainforests of Sho'lazar to the windswept, battered Storm Peaks and the icy evil of Icecrown.

Northrend is going to be amazing -- here's one final preview before we take that step into the land of the Lich King.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Guides, Galleries, Wrath of the Lich King

Ask a Beta Tester: A closer look at the starting zones and other things


There's only about a week left of Ask a Beta Tester, so get your questions in while you still can! You can be special like Radiophonic and get your name all bold-like up here! I guess we could actually answer the questions, too...

So I'm hearing that there are tons of quests in all areas, has the allowable number of quests in your quest log expanded or should we all start getting those last 10 or so completed?

The number of quests you can have in your log is still limited to 25. If you stick to one zone at a time, it's very highly unlikely you'll ever have more than 15-20 quests in your log at once. If you're anything like I am though, curiosity will probably get the best of you and you'll end up questing in 2-3 different places at once and you'll need that space in your quest log.

You might want to finish up the quests you have now, or when Wrath comes around you can scribble down where you got them, abandon them and go back later.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Ask a Beta Tester: Leveling, the Taunka, and mounts


All of us here at WoW Insider are staggering around somewhat zombie-like in the wake of BlizzCon with the patch (probably) coming tomorrow and the amount of information we're hoping to get out in the next 24 hours. So in all truth I don't know whether the answers to today's questions are completely factual or just stuff that started swimming in front of my eyes at 1:00 this morning. Arthas is actually a girl underneath all that armor, just like Samus Aran. The zone music to Icecrown is "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who. The Hateful Gladiator cloth belt is a pink tutu. Flying bunnies will be available in the next expan-

(Sound of a short scuffle in the background, followed by a whip crack)

Thank you, Dan, a little perspective is always useful in these difficult times.

Jason asks...

Will Northrend be accessible at 68 like Outland was accessible at 58? Or do I need to be a solid 70 to quest and instance in Northrend?

Technically, Northrend will be accessible to anyone with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion installed; you can hop a boat or zeppelin on any character of any level. There's no "You must be THIS HIGH to cross through the portal to Outland" restriction, but you won't be able to pick up any of the quests available in Northrend until level 68. Could you grind your way to 68 in Northrend from the mid-60's? Maybe, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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Filed under: Expansions, Features, Humor, Lore, Leveling, Factions, NPCs, Alts, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

WoW Insider previews Wrath of the Lich King's Borean Tundra

Continuing the series of zone previews we began with the Howling Fjord and the Dragonblight, we now present you with the Borean Tundra. The Borean Tundra is one of two starter zones in Wrath of the Lich King (the other being the Fjord) and is accessed via the Stormwind Harbor for the Alliance, and the Orgrimmar zeppelin tower for the Horde.

Personally, most of this zone is my least favorite aesthetically with the exception of the Coldarra (above). The visuals are alright in those zone, but it's really carried by strong quests and stories. Still, that doesn't mean it's an ugly zone, certainly not. The others simply set the bar really high, and I still strongly recommend checking out the gallery if you don't mind being spoiled a little bit. Speaking of spoilers, there are a couple of story spoilers in this gallery but they're very minor. None of the massive, epic questlines are spoiled in this gallery. Especially not the one where you go to-

Filed under: Expansions, Galleries, Wrath of the Lich King

Ask a Lore Nerd: Now now, there's enough Light for everybody


Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, the column that answers your questions about the story and lore of the Warcraft universe. Click the Comments link below, ask your question, and blogger/columnist Alex Ziebart will answer you in a future installment!

Aydinn of Cenarion Circle
wrote in to ask...

My question is (which may seem obvious to some), who is the goblin statue at Booty Bay? Why does he deserve a statue?

Answer: Thanks for writing in! Good to hear from people from my home server. That statue on Janeiro Isle might be of Baron Revilgaz, the overseer and top dog of Booty Bay. He deserves a statue because... he wanted a statue, and he's freaking Baron Revilgaz. He runs the show. Really, though, it's kind of a generic Goblinoid figure so it could be nobody at all.

At one time, it was a statue of a Human Priest. It's a nod to a really cool landmark here in the real world. It's based on Christ the Redeemer, a statue found in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. You may recognize it from an episode of Lupin III. Eh? No? ...oh. Oh well. It's a pretty awesome sight to see in real life regardless of whether you put faith in what it represents or not. The in-game model was likely changed from a Human to a Goblin to back away from the religious overtones while keeping the reference, and Goblins fit the area better anyway.

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

Giving players some more race variants

I have to agree with Michael on WoW LJ: it would be nice to have a little more variance in the types of races that we choose at character creation. Of course, due to lore reasons, all the trolls we create are Darkspear Trolls, and likewise, all of our Taurens are of the Bloodhoof variety. But it would be nice to have a few more options, especially since we now know that some of the "foreign" tribes and clans might have a member or two interested in joining the Horde.

None of Michael's suggestions would really work -- the Taunka are almost a completely different race, the Forest Trolls can't be very happy that we've killed their leader, and neither the Dark Iron Dwarves or the Iron Dwarves are very friendly to either Horde or Alliance. But there are possible variants out there -- the Zanadalar tribe might have some members interested in joining the Horde, and certainly the Mag'har Orcs are friendly to players. Alliance doesn't have as many options come to mind, though all players are Bronzebeards, I believe, and surely the Stormpikes are Friendly by now.

We've got new hairstyles coming in the next expansion, of course, but it would be nice to vary up the races a little bit, and have even different backgrounds within the race choices. RPers would love it for sure, and even for other players, it would give a little more meaning and power to playing through the various racial areas in the game.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Dwarves, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Expansions, Lore, Factions

Overview of the Dragonblight

I've examined the Dragonblight before when Blizzard first gave us the preview of the zone, but some other news about the region has come into the spotlight in the last few days. I'm sure you've noticed, the Wrath news is everywhere, especially here on WoW Insider. Below I have a little breakdown of what we know so far.

  • The Dragonblight is both the beginning and the end of the dragon life cycle. The Titans granted the Dragonflights their powers here, and this is also where dragons go to die.
  • This zone contains a shrine for each of the Flights which surround Wyrmrest Temple. These shrines are under siege by the Scourge.
  • Alexstrasza herself is lending a hand in recruiting for the war effort in the Dragonblight.
  • The Scourge has been twisting the remains of fallen dragons into Frost Wyrms and potentially other monstrosities.
  • The Scarlet Crusade returns in this zone, renamed the Scarlet Onslaught.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

WotLK Bestiary Update: Taunka

Blizzard has updated the Wrath of the Lich King Bestiary this afternoon with the Tauren looking Taunka. These are large animals that have adapted to the cold of Northrend. Instead of being in harmony with nature like Taurens are, they are in contention to it.

We can't be exactly sure what the Taunka's role will be. The last paragraph in the update says that we'll soon recognize their "colossal hearts and unshakeable resolve." To me, this sounds like a possible faction we'll be grinding rep for. Perhaps something like the Orgri'la faction, where at first the Orges are hostile, and then they are friendly.

An interesting comment on WoWWiki suggest that Chieftain Ashtotem, known from a screenshot of the Howling Fjord in Northrend, might be a Taunka. What do you think? Personally, I think it's possible. The yellow name also lends credence to the theory that this might be a reputation faction.

We'll keep you updated on all the future Wrath of the Lich King news.

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

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