"The 11th set in the World of Warcraft TCG, Wrathgate features 220 new cards straight from Northrend and the new Argent Crusade faction. Yes, players can recruit figures from Warcraft lore like Highlord Tirion Fordring for the battle against the Scourge. Also, players can use new Wrathgate crafting materials to forge brand new gear for their TCG heroes.
Each booster pack contains 19 game cards. As with previous sets, players have a chance to open one of three new Loot cards randomly inserted into Wrathgate booster packs. The codes on the Loot cards are redeemed for cosmetic upgrades to World of Warcraft® MMORPG characters. The loot cards in Wrathgate are Landro's Gift, Statue Generator, and Blazing Hippogryph. The latter is another TCG exclusive mount -- a flying hippogryph to set the skies on fire."
To commemorate the occasion, Cryptozoic is running a special contest, the winner of which (and a friend) will attend the internal unveiling of the expansion, hang out with its creators and maybe even eat some food here and there. Check out the contest and official rules here.
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.
While the politics of Horde races such as the orcs, blood elves, tauren and trolls span literally thousands of years, and feelings and current beliefs held by both races are deep-seated within that history, not all of the Horde races have such an extensive past. In the case of the Forsaken, the history goes back not thousands of years but approximately six or seven by Blizzard's timeline. A relatively new race, the Forsaken were introduced in World of Warcraft as playable members of the Horde faction, a move which confused some of the player base as the Forsaken were most definitely up to no good. Why would Thrall, who has been presented as a good character, agree to ally with a group that were presented as primarily evil?
This was never directly addressed other than being waved off as an alliance of convenience, but most of the Horde seemed to either distrust or share outright loathing for the Forsaken. While other races started out on good terms with the rest of their Horde brethren, players rolling Forsaken found themselves at neutral standing with all three of the other Horde races available. There are exceptions, however. The Tauren -- particularly Magatha Grimtotem -- seem interested in working with the Forsaken and possibly developing a "cure" for their undead state and aren't quite as unforgiving when it comes to dealing with their undead comrades.
While the relative time of the Forsaken on Azeroth has been short, in the few years of their existence they've managed to accomplish much -- largely due to the efforts of their leader, Lady Sylvanas Windrunner. Sylvanas had quite a history of her own prior to becoming the banshee queen, and it is doubtful that the race would have accomplished anything, much less banded together, without her leadership. I've covered some of the history of the high elves in last week's post, but this week I'm going to look at Sylvanas in a little more detail as the leader and the driving force behind the Forsaken.
WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Players still leveling or playing through this expansion may want to veer away, especially if you want to avoid Icecrown Citadel spoilers. I'll throw another message in before we get to the really huge stuff, just in case!
The above image is a little special to me, as it is a screenshot of the first moment I saw Bolvar Fordragon in action, taken January 19th, 2005. I was playing with a friend, and we saw an odd procession in Stormwind headed to the throne room -- upon arriving, a level 60 told us that we probably ought to stand back. Being what I thought was a resourceful player, I hid behind one of the guards, counting on them to protect me. Needless to say, Onyxia appeared, the guards turned into dragonkin, and I had a split second of sheer panic before I got a "6 Minutes until release" message.
But this article isn't about my untimely death and subsequent 'when someone says stay far away, stay far, far away' lesson. This is about the man under that pile of dragonkin, who we observed in awe as he fought and killed the entire pack of elites single-handed -- Bolvar Fordragon. Bolvar in that moment became one of my favorite characters in the game, and I didn't even know who he was. It didn't matter.
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Michael Sacco will be your host today.
Editor's Note: The above image has now been fixed to include its original participants.
What a great week for dungeon running. Got my shaman his full tier 9 set, my rogue her 2-piece, and a myriad of other badges and loot for my other alts. Soon I'll start pawning off my alt's Emblems of Frost for Primordial Saronite and finance some epic flying. Plus I've gathered enough mats to get my rogue berserking on both of her weapons. Not bad, Patch 3.3. Not bad indeed.
But wait! The Queue is about you. Let's get some you in here.
What's the deal with the Scarlet Crusade? I thought they were against anything that is against the teachings of the Light, particularly the scourge. But in Dragonblight there are shadow priests and death knights in the various bases the crusade has in Northrend. Was wondering if I missed anything that explains their change in ideals.
Zubon has mostly high praise for the storyline -- I agree that Borean Tundra and the Howling Fjord are preludes to the real anti-Scourge action you find in the Wrathgate questline. But then he goes one step further, and says that the end just shows how old Blizzard's game really is. Even while such an epic story is unfurling, graphical glitches and the realities of Blizzard's game (one of the phases is essentially an ongoing fight in which you personally have no effect) bring the experience back down. Wrathgate is certainly an epic event, and every indication is that we're going to be feeling its repercussions a lot in the next dungeon. But five years after launch, it's also a sign that Blizzard is pushing this old game as hard as they can.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.
The WoW TCG has just finished up their year with the World Championships, but apparently they're not sitting back on their laurels -- they've just sent word that their Realm Championships will be going down November 14-15, 2009, in cities around the world like "San Diego, Philadelphia, Helsinki, Manchester (England), Singapore and Melbourne." These are invite-only tournaments, but they're always accompanied by events that are open to the public, including lots and lots of TCG playing, giveaways and door prizes, and sometimes even special realms of the online game set up for players to join. If you've never seen a TCG event and one is headed to your city, it's worth checking out.
Additionally, the TCG folks have outlined their plans for 2010 over on their website, and it sounds like it'll be a busy year. They're kicking things off with the Scourgewar release, including the TCG loot of the mini-mounts (finally, a pony!), the Tuskarr Kite, and a Spectral Tiger Cub. And later in the year, you can look forward to a Naxxramas dungeon deck, another expansion called Wrathgate (with likely more in-game loot to go after), and finally, an Icecrown Citadel raid deck release. Should be an exciting 2010 for the trading card game -- we'll definitely be watching for that new expansion and the loot items due out with it.
I was interested to find out via our very own Mike Schramm the Fleshcrafter that Blizzard has a YouTube channel now. The main reason I was interested? Because I can watch the Wrathgate cinematic several times a day and not get tired of it. It's simply one of the things I enjoyed most about Wrath of the Lich King, a potent, powerful and personally experienced series of soloable quests that leads to an awesome rampage through Undercity that creates more tension and drama than it solves. No matter what toon, I've made sure to go through this complete quest chain as soon as I can, as both Horde and Alliance get to see some fantastic lore goodness and interact as near equals with the big figures of their respective factions.
Who gets to escort Jaina to her meeting with Thrall? You do. Think of it this way: remember in WCIII when Rexxar and Thrall met up with Jaina? This time, it was you and Thrall. It really did an amazing job of injecting immediate, powerful connection between your character and the great figures of the factions, as well as bringing the war against the Lich King (and the presence of other forces seeking to take advantage of it, ala Putress and Varimathras) back home to the cities of old Azeroth. Who can forget seeing Orgrimmar crowded with refugees?
Moreover, watching the Alliance soldiers rally around Bolvar and the Horde come sweeping in under Saurfang the Younger always gives me a bit of a nostalgic feeling. This was the culmination of the 'This threat's so big we have to work together' mindset that saw us form the Might of Kalimdor under Saurfang, that united us against Kil'Jaeden at the Sunwell. This was the last, best hope for peace and unity. Had Bolvar and Saurfang not fallen, had the Forsaken not been split by civil war, if a unified front persisted against Arthas at this critical moment who knows? We might well be looking at the first steps of real detente between the factions, perhaps even a pan-Azerothian league of states and powers that includes all of the Horde and Alliance races as Putress strangles it aborning.
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?
Phasing seems to be Blizzard's new favorite toy. It's being used be more and more as we progress through Wrath. From the Wrathgate to those annoying out of body/spirit quests in Zul'Drak, phasing is changing how we see Azeroth itself. But it strikes me there's once area where phasing should sometimes be used and isn't: bosses. Specifically I mean the big guys ... Kil'Jaeden, Illidan, Loken, Yoggy, Algalon and, of course, Arthas himself.
The logic here is simple, these are bosses key to game lore and killing them not only takes an enormous amount of effort (or in the case of Kil'Jaeden, banishing him back to where ever he came from) but it also has an effect on the world itself. Think of the impacts the events of the Sunwell had - phasing was never implemented there, and definitely should have been once Wrath was released.
Now I know you will be thinking: "Why should we only kill a boss once?" I'm not suggesting that once you kill the Lich King, for example, you are locked out of killing him again. Rather that his death triggers a change in Azeroth - which is where the phasing comes in. Icecrown Citadel could collapse or be recycled by other NPCs, such as the Ebon Blade. Once this happens, you could then walk in, click on an NPC and 'relive' the fight in the form of a new raid. The same thing could be done with the Sunwell, for example, and it could open up a new quest chain and further the game's lore in new and fantastic ways.
We've already seen how phasing can change Northrend, just look at how it's used post-Wrathgate. How do you think it could be used (particularly considering that the new expansion is called Cataclysm) to change how we play, the bosses we kill, and how we raid?
Warning: This article contains spoilers of varying intensity for the Wrathgate world event, the new Arthas Novel , and the Warcraft Comic Series. It is also 3 pages long. Be sure to click the links at the bottom to head to the next part!
Among WoW players these days, it seems to be a popular opinion that King Varian Wrynn is a narrow minded short-sighted bigot who will lead the Alliance to ruin. This is an easy opinion to have, since he does show a considerable amount of anger at times when dealing with the Horde, and it's long been the general opinion that "no-one is truly evil" in the Horde and Alliance conflict. This is even the opinion of some of my fellow writers.
Here's my problem with this: The underlying causes of Varian Wrynn's anger are all unconditionally justified. Varian Wrynn is not angry at the Horde because of a series of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. He's been witness to or victim of multiple wrongdoings and atrocities perpetuated by the Horde time and time again, both the new Horde and the Old. Most, if not all of these times, the wrongdoings have been the result of outright maliciousness on the part of the Horde or its members, and in the case the so-called "peaceful" New Horde, there's been no sign whatsoever that Thrall is punishing or disciplining the perpetrators of these acts, and at the least, it is clear that he is not properly dealing with the consequences.
Leveling, questing, PvPing, raiding, Lunar Festival achievements... that's what the WoW Insider team is doing this weekend: a little bit of everything. And if you aren't up to anything Saturday afternoon, you could join us for some fun with our guild, It Came from the Blog, on Zangarmarsh (US), Horde-side, to hang out, collect some festival coins, and chat. But some of us, apparently, have been skipping Wrathgate, a quest-chain which is without question one of the most impressive in the game. Why would anyone do that to themselves?
Michael Gray explains it for us: Fishing up Old Crafty, so I can complete my Warthgate quest series. I really want to finish levelling my Paladin, but Old Crafty mocks me. In my sleep. In nightmares. Like some drooling, fanged monster.
And apparently Michael isn't the only one. Daniel chimed in to say "I leveled from 1 to 270 fishing in Instance Ogrimmar before finally giving up and finishing Wrathgate. Then I came back later and got Crafty on the second cast. Old Ironjaw in Ironforge still eludes me though." But, sadly, not all of us thought up this strategy in advance. Matt Rossi joined in with, "Wait, you're not finishing Wrathgate so you can go to the Org that's phased for Martial Law? Sneaky, I like it."
For the rest of the team -- and to add your own thoughts on skipping Wrathgate -- read on!
With the release of Wrath of the Lich King and its inclusion of world-changing phased events, Blizzard's stated goal of ramping up their dynamic storytelling seems more and more like a success, but it doesn't stop with quests alone. The in-game cinematic for the final legs of the epic Wrath Gate quest line really shows what Blizzard is capable of outside of CGI with the in-game engine and a bit of creative tinkering. Not to mention it's a huge lore explosion that fuels the story for the rest of the expansion!
Yes, yes, oldnews for some. For those of you among us who haven't yet experienced this particular quest line, of course, it's not to be missed. For those who've seen it in-game already or who just can't contain themselves, though, you can stream theincredibly spoiler-heavy cinematic in full HD on Blizzard's site now or download it directly from BigDownload. If you're into it, there's also a nice short story/summary of the momentous events directly under it.
We can hope for two things--that Blizzard continues to put these kinds of awesome scenes in the game, and that when they do, they give those of us with nice monitors/TVs the ability to watch them all pretty-like.
Here's a secret gem from BlizzCon from our sister site, Big Download: The DVD Production panel. The DVD Production team, despite the name, actually oversees most of the video produced by or at Blizzard. That means that they had a hand in the South Park episode "Make Love Not Warcraft," as well as the "What's your Game" and "Lawgiver" commercials.
They also work on the gameplay trailers from World of Warcraft, and walked us through the creative process for the patch 2.1 Black Temple trailer, revealing some interesting lore behind Akama's betrayal. Finally, they revealed that they were the force behind the Wrath Gate cinematic. It's no wonder they were able to make such an epic cut scene though: One of their team members was a member of Rufus Cubed Productions, the creations of the epic machinima Return.
There's some other nice information from the panel, including the real identity of the villain from "Make Love Not Warcraft" and a preview of the lore of Diablo 3. Be sure to go check it out at Big Download!