Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level:59 Zone Levels: 49-52
Quests: 40 Quests Over Required Completed: 3
Altar of Storm:
These relics of the old war were originally used to imbue Ogre-Magi with power by Gul'dan. As it stands in current Azeroth there are only three easily found Altars of Storm, even though Thrall supposedly had several re-purposed for shamanistic purposes. You will see me mention the other two in Azeroth when we see them because I feel they were a very important part of the Old Horde that still exists in Azeroth. Sure splinter elements of the Old Horde still exist such as the Blackrock Orcs and Blackrock Mountian but when I see the Altar of Storm it always reminds me of Warcraft II.
I have mentioned the importance of this mountain before in the Searing Gorge review but as Blackrock dominates the landscape of the Burning Steppes and the Blackrock Orcs play the most important role in the area in terms of politics it is worth mentioning the Mountain again.
Originally home only to the Dreadmaul Ogres and a decent place to farm cloth in vanilla, Dreadmaul has become home to more of an allegiance between the Dreadmaul Ogres and the Blackrock Orcs in their efforts to push both the Alliance and the horde out of the Burning Steppes.
Reward for Seven!Up! for the alliance. Not a whole lot of new armor options from this zone but it is always nice to get a fairly easy to find vanity pet. Only two of this model pet exist in WoW and you can't get the other until Zangarmarsh.
This quest is nothing new in terms of mechanics it is just a basic kill quest but what I like about it is that as your fight the golems they supposedly learn from you and change their tactics. Of course all the learning is purely surface dressing from a game development standpoint but I also like the change up that you are trusted enough as a random person in the world to be held accountable to training Golems in the defense of the Alliance. There is always a line between make a quest to centric on the characters importance of the world. We as players are faceless adventurers some quests attribute great actions to us such as the whole of Deepholm while other quests our actions really don't effect the overall world. I like this quest because it is one of those nice quests that finds the happy middle ground between most important person in game and random adventurer.
It is nice to see John J. back in the alliance quest lines. Quests around him always have an air of macho bravado. I especially like this line because it is one of my favorite style quests in the game the subversion type. You get to pretend to be a member of the enemy and ruin their plans. A lot of times these quests are cover mechanics for simple kill quest lines but I like that through the disguise system you can see and feel your actions taking their toll on the enemy instead of simply "thinning the herd".
Okay let me say out right that this is probably one of my favorite subversion quests in the entire game. You give an orc the runs, another an uncontrollable demon object, and another leader a pile of dead imps that he can't rez. Then you proceed to blast the hell out of the camp with a dragon while the Blackrock Orcs think they are friendly. It has the great line of "I never called any dragons...". You also get to see the fruits of your subversion attacks on other areas in the zone as the orc commanders you kill are unable to come to defend the rock. Really this is a great way to end any zone as it ties everything you have done up in a nice tight bow.
How was the Burning Steppes in Vanilla? Crappy. I never understood why this zone which should have had so much importance in the WoW narrative was such a poorly planned zone in vanilla. The Burning Steppes is the gateway between the Alliance and what remains of the Old Horde. Every threat from the Blackrock Clan, who was one of the major enemies of the Vanilla content, emanates or passes through this zone and it always felt empty.
But my how the times have changed. I really feel like the zone now conveys that importance to the zone. Does it have the grand scale of an invasionary feel like Icecrown in Northrend or Twilight Highlands (more the horde here then the Alliance)? Not really but you have to be realistic that the Alliance and the Horde can not commit full invasion and defense armies to every zone. What you get in Burning Steppes is what you would expect from a kingdom spread thin- a small group of the Alliance's best bringing down an entire army of the Blackrock Orcs. Through the good story telling and quest design of this zone you feel right there in the action if not completely responsible for the safety of Red Ridge to your south and the greater human empire. I never really felt lost in this zone. The hub flow was great and the story of the zones quests keeps you wanting to finish the zone. It was easy to go over the required quest limit for this zone.
I give the overall zone four out of five stars.
Sorry I have been away from this blog for a bit now. As I explained earlier I had been giving SWTOR a try, then I started running raids of old content for Reddit (which consumes a good deal of my saturday nights and I will continue to do), and I finished up leveling my retadin. I finally have her at a point where I really only can do LFR and the 1000 VP cap grind for gear each week. I am also currently actively developing the idea of taking this blog to video format when I hit the outlands. Mainly to do supplemental videos and to prepare for my MoP beta invite. I hope to have all of the loremaster content done by the time that invite happens and I can start cranking out videos about the zones and lore of MoP. I do have the year sub that promises me a MoP open beta invite, before you ask, and I have gotten the closed beta invite for the last two expansiosn so *fingers crossed* that I get in a little early.
Did you enjoy this zone? Do you hate it? Do you think the idea of me starting to do more content for Youtube is a good idea? Let me know in the comments.
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level:57 Zone Levels: 45-50
Ending Level: 57
Quests: 35 Quests Over Required Completed:3
This is a large area of the Dark Iron Dwarves outside of their normal dwellings with in Blackrock Mountain. This is one of the few large communities that lives outside of the mountain, sustained. There are several small groups attacking other parts of the Eastern Kingdoms but the Cauldron is clearly one of their working cities and outposts. The Dark Iron dwarves have a large amount of slaves in this area mining and crafting both weapons and golems for their army.
I don't think I need to go into too much detail about this area but I can. Blackrock Mountain is just not only the home of Dark Iron Dwarves, the entire mountain is a giant struggle for control. Prior to Cataclysm the Black Dragonflight and Ragnaros via the Dark Iron Dwarves did not get along. The Orcs that serve the Black Dragonflight here were fighting for a long time with the Dark Iron Dwarves to control this mountain with the upper half belonging to the Dragonflight while the bowels belonged to Ragnaros and the Dark Iron Dwarves.
This is the site from where the Thorium brotherhood strikes out at the Dark Iron dwarves. Most players may not realize that the Thorium brotherhood is not a faction of the traditional alliance dwarves but rather a splinter group of the Dark Iron dwarves, and yes I know that the Dark Iron dwarves are now sudo part of the alliance because of Moria returning to Ironforge but we will get to that later.
Reward for Rise, Obsidion. This axe shares three other models in the game but this zone is rather scant for good looking new models. When I saw this one I liked it, so you get it.
Reward for Welcome to the Brotherhood. Again fairly commonly modeled shoulders but they have a nice look.
Lunk related quests:
There is several quests through out this zone that Lunk the Ogre will give to you. The funny part of these quests is that Lunk is a pacifistic who doesn't like killing. Often he will show up in the progress of a general kill quest and give you an option to collect the objects you need without killing enemies. For example he will ride spiders and then let you scrap venom off his stomach instead of killing them or sit on dwarves to put them to sleep instead of killing them. Lunk also plays an important role in the zone that working with him you get an ally in later recruiting more dwarves to the Thorium Brotherhood's cause.
Recruit the mountain lords to support the Thorium Brotherhood. The mountain-lord's weakness? Dancing it turns out. Which I found hilarious.
I liked this quest because it begins your quests to take down the Cauldron area. This starts by you killing a large number of the Dark Iron dwarves at the start which makes more sense as to why you the player and a handful of NPCs can go into the Cauldron and bring it down.
A simple collect quest but you humorously weaken the Dark Iron dwarves by taking their comfy pillows. As a former military person I say if you take an entire armies pillows they will really have their will to fight taken from em. Careful though occasionally large groups of sleep deprived pissed off dwarves can spawn. I didn't have much trouble swiping em down but a non-AOE class might get frustrated by them.
My memory of this zone from Vanilla was mainly passing through it on my way to raids for the Blackrock area and grinding the Thorium brotherhood reputation. The Cauldron was a decent part of the zone by the story line wasn't very fleshed out at the time. I did notice in the process of going through this zone that they have taken out a rather interesting questline where you once helped a black dragon gather some items and he gives you some black dragon scales.
Now though the zone is pretty well fleshed out. I like that the zone consists of working with the Thorium brotherhood. You have to gather allies in their war against the Dark Iron and then lay siege to major Dark Iron production facility in the area. The zone didn't have too many new inventive quests but it created a good in zone story line that you can progress through.
I do want to say something about the Dark Iron dwarves that we need to understand while going through this zone. Players doing this zone might wonder if it actually fits into the WoW timeline after Cata's start because the Dark Iron dwarves should be docile towards the Alliance now with Moria sitting on the council of Ironforge. The answer is yes Searing Gorge does exist after the start of Cata in the timeline. I believe the Dark Iron dwarves are continuing their plans with Moria's knowledge because they seek to control all of the dwarf kingdom. An example of this in the past before Cata was Magatha Grimtotem's presence in Thunderbluff as an adviser despite her clan's openly hostile actions against the horde in other parts of Kalimdor. I assume Moria is feigning the same kind of ignorance about the rest of the Dark Iron dwarves actions when she is fully aware of them much like Magatha was. I speculate we will see Moria eventually do something to get herself kicked out of the Alliance for good. She is in away becoming the Sylvannas of the Alliance. We aren't meant to trust her.
Overall I give this zone a 3 out of 5 stars.
Next is off to Un'goro
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level:52 Zone Levels: 44-48
Ending Level: 54
Quests: 35 Quests Over Required Completed:2
Uldaman is one of the three known titan complexes. It is not 100% clear what the original purpose of Uldaman was, where as Ulduar was a prison and Uldum houses a titan weapon. There is some chance that Uldaman was simply a city built for the titan's first experiment, which was the troggs, and the titans seal Uldaman when the troggs became infected with the curse of flesh. Although a decent number of stone dwarf also exist in Uldaman so the titans had moved on to their second attempt to create life at least before the city was sealed.
Main base of operations for the Dark Iron dwarves in their attempts to breach Uldaman. It is not clear if Angor was built before or after the War of the Three Hammers but I would assume it was before and was part of the Dark Iron empire before they started serving Ragnaros.
Ruins of Kargath:
This used to be a decent hub for the Horde prior to Cataclysm. After the Cataclysm the city was destoryed and over run by the blackflight.
Scar of the Worldbreaker:
A massive section of the Badlands that has been scared by Deathwing. It is not explained if the scar is caused by direct actions of Deathwing or if he crashed here for some reason. We know the scar existed before Martek and others saw Deathwing. However I personally do not think the scar looks like Deathwing's normal world breaking efforts so I suggest, and this is purely speculation, that Deathwing may have crashed here after breaking through the Maelstrom.
Reward for The Day that Deathwing Came: What Really Happened. This fist weapon shares it's model with only one other fist weapon in the game. I prefer this style of fist weapon because it is big enough for you to be able to actually see it on a character and it is has big spikes. Nothing like punching someone in the face with a metal punching glove with spikes.
Reward for The Egg Lives On. This trinket summons a red whelpling to help in battle. I said before these summon trinkets are fun even if they don't really help statwise.
Lets talk about quest design for a second. Most quests in the game have simple mechanics that can be broken down into fetch or kill format. And most quests develop the overall zone or expansion story in someway. What I love about The Day Deathwing Came is it is clearly the kind of quest line that developers created for their own fun. It doesn't really progress the story and doesn't really follow the staple format.
That said what makes The Day Deathwing Came is the quest is more about male machismo then it is actual game story. You get to see three NPCs doing what men do best, which is make up bullshit biggest fish stories. I personally love the last part with Martek and getting in a knife fight with Deathwing. At the end of this quest line the quests start to break the fourth wall as other NPCs interject into Martek's memory of events as you play him. It puts a nice twist on flashback quests.
Three Vikings Quests
This quest line is towards the end of the zone and references, heavily, another Blizzard game. Plenty of easter eggs exist in the game world (like the Queen of Blades being on shredders) but this quest line is the most blatant call out to another Blizzard game. On top of that it is actually kinda fun where you control the three vikings as pets and they each have two special skills just like in the Lost Vikings games. They help you defeat elites, all though I was so over zone I could have soloed those mobs.
In Vanilla the badlands was, if I can be puntastic, bad. Watch out pun-police... what is my pun-ishment. Okay I will stop. I didn't care much for this zone in Vanilla. It had Uldaman and that was about it for me. When I played horde for most of BC and WOTLK I stayed even farther away from this zone. Which doesn't surprise me as to why the quest development team marked this zone for serious help.
Well it worked. Badlands is a short zone still but it has a seriously different feel compared to what it used to have. There is still the presence of the Dark Iron dwarves, which is logical this close to their capital, and the ogres it used to have but adding Red Flight related quests and the Day Deathwing Came to this zone really adds to the zone.
For those of you who don't know the events with Rhea very much reflect the time when Alexstraza was captured by the horde and Deathwing tried to steal her eggs. This whole quest line is a bit of a nod to that time in Azeroth History.
And I already talked at length about the Day Deathwing Came in the quest section.
Is Badlands perfect? No, it is still heavy on the fetch and kill style quests. It is still rather short. But it is worth your while to go out of your way to at least do the Day Deathwing Came. If you only fly to this zone to do this one quest line it is worth your time.
All that considered I give the zone a 4 out of 5 stars.
And next time readers I have been requests to do Tanaris first. Something about a murderous harvester... I am looking forward to it. Also expect some more lorecrafting posts soon.
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level:47 Zone Levels: 40-45
Ending Level: 51
Quests: 70 Quests Over Required Completed:75
Additional Achievements: Full Caravan (anyone having trouble getting the full caravan, Beezil Linkspanner is located at Light's Hope Chapel. He was the one guy I ended up missing).
Darrowshire is one of those tragic areas, which is somewhat the overall mood of the Plaguelands in general. The human resistance at Darrowshire made headway in the defense of their village from the scourge but eventually feel to the Deathknight Marduk Blackpool. The quests involving re-enacting the battle of Darrowshire is pretty much mandatory now in order to get zone achievement, during vanilla it was much more of a pain to get this quest line done. Ghosts still wonder Darrowshire mourning the events that happened here.
I meantion the Stead because is the home of Nathanos Blightcaller, who prior to Cata could have been consider the champion of the scourge. Nathanos used to be a raid boss that the alliance could fight for a quest line. He has since moved to the Undercity and acts as a hunter trainer, I think because he lost his place of prestige to the Valkyries.
Light's Hope Chapel:
Light's Hope plays an very important role in the story of the scourge, if not the most important of any place not in Northrend. During the Death Knight storyline you find that Light's Hope is the place that the Ashbringer is redeemed by Tirion Fordring but also during this event their players discover that their is something beneath Light's Hope Chapel that weakens or repels the scourge. What this power is not clearly explained through game play but is explained in the Ashbringer comics.
Beneath Light's Hope Chapel is the bodies of many of the heroes of Lordaeron, moved there by Maxwell Tyrosus to protect the dead from being raised as scourge. When Arthas marched Light's Hope was seiged, during the battle Darion Morgraine impaled himself with the Ashbringer. The act rose the ghosts of all the dead heroes who laid waste to the scourge and protected Light's Hope.
Most players are familiar with the burning of Stratholme by Arthas during his corruption before he became a death knight. Not as many players know that this is the city where the Order of the Silver Hand (Tirion's current army) was originally founded.
So I lost the notes I take along the way for Eastern Plaguelands so I do not have a report on specific gear that looks good for transmog.
Mr. Grubbs drops from Hidden Stash which begins dropping as you build Fiona's caravan. It is generally accepted that the larger your caravan is the more chance you will get for Hidden Stashes out of mobs. It should be noted that Mr. Grubbs is not 100% drop rate out of these stashes but I find by the time you finish the zone you generally get one.
It is hard for me to isolate specific quests for this zone that are fun since a lot of the awesomeness that is the Eastern Plaguelands comes from doing the zones storylines.
This is a fun quest as you get to re-enact the Battle of Darrowshire with the ghosts living in the area. It can seem long and often aimless but the end wrap up is nice.
From start to finish this is a great way to move through a zone. You can't really do the zone without doing it but I must insist to even a casual gamer that you must do this quest line. Really it is perfect quest and story telling.
I generally like quests where you dress up as a member of the enemy in order to infiltrate their ranks and cause some kind of chaos. It is a nice break from the traditional kill and fetch quests that populate so much of all MMOs.
During vanilla Eastern Plaguelands was a fun zone but not a zone I would willingly do more then once. It was always rich with lore but I never found it as a great place to want to come back to and work on. I spent a lot of time here farming blood of heroes or making my way to Stratholme to run that instance. The zone felt half finished as a lot of the areas didn't really seem to tell an overall consistent story. They tried to spice up the zone by adding world PVP with capture towers in the zone but once the zone was no longer at level it didn't really see a lot of action.
To understand how much better Eastern Plaguelands is now then it used to be, I actually had finished the zone and not realized I hate the drop item to see the end of Fiona and her caravan's event. I was working in 1k needles when I found it. I stopped and flew back just to do one more quest to see this zone to it's end.
The overall quest line to find members for Fiona's caravan and help the paladin boys join the Argent Dawn and then help free them when they get captured is a great in zone story. It is how each zone's quest hubs should work. The quest walks new players from hub to hub with a sense of purpose and brings the zone to a nice finish with a completion of the overall story. Each member of the caravan has their own story and special quarks that I enjoyed.
I give this zone a rare five out of five stars.
Next zone is 1k needles. I might however do a lorecrafting on the Ashbringer next since it is relevant to the current post and people seem to really enjoy the lorecrafting posts.
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level: 45 Zone Levels: 35-40
Ending Level: 47
Quests: 45 Quests Over Required Completed:6
Let me out right say this at the start that the lore associated with the Scourge and Fall of Lorderan is some of the richest and deepest lore in World of Warcraft next to the Night Elf empire and I feel it strikes so close to home for lore WoW players because it is forefront of the previous expansion and so recent in the over-arching history of Warcraft. With that said you wont be surprised that this blog today is going to be more lore-centeric then normal, which is saying something for a blog called Operation Loremaster...
Scholomance, proper, is the former estate of the Barov family. You can meet most of the members of the Barov family as either ghosts in and around Scholomance as well as as members of the Cult of The Damned within Scholomance. Two members of the family joined the Horde and the Alliance respectively. Kel'thuzad used Scholomance as a school of sorts to train the Cult of the Damned in the dark arts as well as a place to cultivate the original plague when the scourge marched on Lorderan when Arthas returned as the champion of the Lich King.
Andorhal was once the main grain hub for all of the Lorderan empire which made it a natural choice for Kel'thuzad to spread the plague from. During the Third War, Arthas killed Kel'thuzad here but eventually returned to get Kel'thuzad's remains in order to revive him in the sunwell. Andorhal spent a great deal of time in the control of the scourge but after the fall of the Lich King it has become a battle ground between the Horde and the Alliance as both attempt to "reclaim" Andorhal from the remaining scourge.
Enshrined here is Uther, considered to be one of the greatest paladin's to ever live, maybe next to Tirion Fordring. I would argue that Uther was a more important paladin as Tirion only grew in WoW fame after Metzen wrote a book about Tirion and decided to make Tirion his poster child for WOTLK. Prior to WOTLK Fordring was essentially a hermit in the Eastern Plaguelands. Anyway.... It should be noted for lore sight seers that this is the place where Uther fell protecting the cremated remains of Teneras from Arthas.
This was a city, once, with in the Lorderan empire ruled by Tirion at before he was exiled for aiding an orc. After the scourge struck the Lorderan empire Hearthglen fell under the control of the Scarlet Crusade. After the fall of Arthas at the end of WOTLK the city was reclaimed by the Silver Hand is back under Tirion's control.
Reward for This Means WAR. Yes that is exactly what it looks like... a two handed frying pan and that is exactly why it made this list.
Reward from Alas, Andorhal. This staff shares it's model with only one other staff in the game making it rather rare. I think it is a great looking staff for caster or healer druids.
Not finding the quest in WoWhead for this item but I know for a fact you get it from completing the Hearthglen quest line revolving around finding a traitor in Hearthglen and Tirion gives you this shield as a quest reward option.
You do several quests with Zen through out the Western Plaguelands but this is the one that starts it all. I love Zen because he is the typical player of a druid for the first time. Watch his comments and interactions with you. He manages to moonfire himself while screaming "It burns like the moon" and even manages to go in to swim form on dry land and flop around. He is absolutely worthless when it comes to helping you quest but is a shit ton of fun (metric measurement look it up...) to have around.
First let me say I hate that this quest has a Kayne reference in it, but WoW is full of pop culture references so I will deal with it. I do however love the idea of killing evil vegetables because it feels so campy. I can see the B film now being made about the attack of the "over-ripe" pumpkins on Lorderan.
Everything about Andorhal:
I am not going to link a specific quest. It is pretty much impossible to finish this zone without going into the Andorhal quest line (actually completely impossible if trying to get the quest achievement). This quest line is a great story telling quest line from the initial Alliance attack against the scourge in Andorhal to the return quests to battle the Horde. Having done this quest on both sides I can sadly say the Horde get a better experience in this quest line. The interaction between Koltira and Sylvanas begins to sow the seeds of a loaming issue with in the forsaken. Plus I am a big Banshee Queen fan, she has been driving WoW men to consider necrophilia since her Wraith Gate reskin (maybe even launch day).
Western Plaguelands is grade A awesome. Like a 24 ounce steak of WoW awesome. It brims with perfection like a lumberjack's beard or an 21 year old Asian girl. Wait... What... sorry...
Seriously Western Plaguelands has a great deal of everything players are looking for. The story telling and lorecrafting in the zone is top notch and some of the best zone story telling before Cata specific zones. The quest takes you between Andorhal, the Cenarion Circle, and Hearthglen enough that you never really feel stuck in any area too long. When you do these quests you get a healthy does of lore related activities along the way. Andorhal used to be an absolute bear to travel around or quest in during Vanilla, often leading to level 60 players getting ravaged by 400 ghouls and an elite Lich. But the quest design team took the whole zone and reworked it to be a friendly questing experience. If I was looking for one experience in a zone that I could point to with the questing team and say "yes... MOAR of this!" It would be Western Plaguelands. A little secret, not like you can't look at my armory, but I always post blogs generally two zones behind my actual player to give myself a buffer and Eastern Plaguelands is pretty damn polished a zone as well.
I like that the quest designers took two zones that drip with lore and always felt sparse on quests and really took that questing experience and turned it enjoyable while keeping lore relevant. I also like that even though this zone is slowly changing because of the fall of Arthas and was revamped for a Deathwing heavy expansion they were not afraid to keep to the actual lore of what makes this zone great and not try to hard to shoehorn it into the Cataclysm story arch. I suggest this as the only zone that you really must do as both Horde and Alliance. I am damn impressed by the mini-story going on with in Cata about the Forsaken and Sylvanas, which has not turned out to be a quick and done story arch. I expect events started here in Cata with the Forsaken to continue to build in MoP and likely come to a head post MoP before we directly confront Sageras.
As you might have noticed I am deeply impressed with this zone from both a lore building and questing stand point. I am giving it a rare, for me, five out of five stars.
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level: 43 Zone Levels: 30-35
Ending Level: 43
Quests: 50 Quests Over Required Completed:7
Field of Giants-
This is the northern most spot you can find the Sithilid hives in Kalimdor. Not as far north as you might expect but since most of the Sithilid army was unable to pass through Ungoro, due to the Titan machinery in the area, and went around Ungoro. It is safe to say the Night Elf armies stopped the Sithilid from coming any further north as they were known to hunt the Barrens before the Sundering.
Rare is it to see a Dwarven fortress on Kalimdor, even rarer to see the Gnomes. Bael Modan is a small Dwarven fortress that the Dwarves settled after coming through Theramore on to Kalmidor. For ages this site had no real importance to alliance players and was one of the quest spots for the horde to go in an clear our Bael Modan, it is interesting to see the spot now change hands in terms of quests.
Reward for the Nightmare Scar and possibly a leather chest I have mentioned before as it is pretty common in the game but it has a really nice look on female players for a green item. Not so revealing that it looks like a bikini but just enough to have a little sex appeal, as a male player I likey.
Reward for Batteries Not Yet Included, this gun shares its model with 4 other guns in the game so it is not super common. What I like about it is that in this day and age of mainly crossbows with in the game this is a wide barrel musket with what I can only describe as Crocodile Dundee's knife attached to it giving it a scythe like feel.
This quest is straight out of pirate related movies. The Northwatch is being over run, there is a shortage of cannonballs (I know there are actually a few in piles around), and you the player have to find anything metal not nailed down to shoot out of the cannons at the horde. What I especially enjoyed about the game is the NPCs responses as your grab items. I will always remember the one NPC that informed me that I had taken the Admiral's finest china as I loaded forks and spoons into a cannon to blast the invading horde, as if the Admiral's dinner receptions were out greatest concern at that moment.
Is it just me or is nothing the druids ever try to do with the corruption from the Emerald Dream leaking into Azeroth ever work? This is another quest where the druids have you gather items and then try to "cleanse" the infected wildlife. I cackled out loud as the first infected raptor I tried to treat exploded like a grenade. I suppose that is one way to cleanse a raptor.
Stormwind is fairly new to occupying land in the barrens area, sure Theramore has had a long presence in Dustwallow Marsh but this the first time Stormwind troops have started placing troops in the barrens. This quest is a good ending to trying to make allies out of another horde enemy, this time the quill boars (who Manrik has been single handedly causing genocide on since launch day). I enjoyed the end of this quest when you defeat the head quill boar and all the smaller quill boar run for their lives.
Ah, the Barrens. An area with chat so bad at one time it was once consider the reason Deathwing returned and intentionally sundered this zone in two. Birthplace of all WoW related Chuck Norris jokes and eventually were all the jokes about Saurfang arose from. The alliance never really had to deal with the "humor" of the Barrens, we had Goldshire. I always enjoyed sending new players to the far ends of Kalimdor looking for Manrik's wife but those times have changed.
Here are a couple of gem's that came out of the old Barrens:
Saurfang's overpower could cure cancer, but Saurfang's attacks are never dodged.
Saurfang is the only person who can emote /teabag, but he never does it because nothing is ever left of those he cleaves.
Humans run from orcs. Orcs run from Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris runs from Saurfang.
Old Barren's chat rest in peace.
With that out of the way I actually enjoyed the new Southern Barren's feel. It is the first time in leveling it has felt to me like the humans are taking it to the Orcs on their own home soil instead of letting the Night Elves do all the burden of war. The zone's quest lines lead you nicely from Stonetalon through the entire zone with enough quests at the end to spare in case you missed the one pick up item to start quest I saw. There is even a nice little defend the hill quest that feels like Arathi Basin PVP except against NPCs instead of against other players. You also get a quest line to seal out the Nightmare scar from the Southern Barrens, I suppose despite Malfurion's victory in the Emerald Dream the druids still have some cleaning up to do (and by cleaning up I mean blowing up raptors).
Overall I give this zone a 3 out of 5.
Off to Duskwallow Marsh next. It feels good to be back at this after a week long convention. I had a mobile app place in the finals but we didn't win. Sadly. With enough work you might be able to find them interviewing me but I wont link the video from YouTube because the camera adds like 40 pounds to me, all though my beard does look boss.
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level: 40 Zone Levels: 30-35
Ending Level: 41
Quests: 30 Quests Over Required Completed:3
Jinth'Alor- This is the captial of the Vilebranch Tribe and second largest city among all the Forest Troll tribes except Zul'Aman. This area used to be full of elites but when Blizzard took most of the world elites out of the game all these trolls because normal mobs and the questing for this area became easier. Rumor is claimed that one of the eggs of Hakkar the Bloodflayer can be found in Jinth'Alor but I am not sure I believe that since Jinth'Alor is a Forest Troll city and not an Jungle Troll and it is pretty clear the Vilebranch tolls are worshiping spider gods instead of the Blood gods of the Gurubashi empire. Questing at one time did have you retrieve parts of a mallet for Zul'furak from the Vilebranch here. So the Desert Trolls his parts of a summon tool for their gods with the Forest Trolls (on a different continent no less) or you can simply overlook this technicality as a "wizard did it" not use it to shape lore theory. .
Raventusk Village- Don't get too close if you are Alliance as this is the captial city of the Raventusk, one of the few troll groups that choose to stay with the Horde after the fall of Zul'jin. It should be noted for Alliance players this is not the same troll tribe from which players on the Horde side hail.
Quel'Danil Lodge- One of the last remaining High Elf camps in the game that are not considered part of the Blood Elf kingdom. In fact I have a hard time thinking of any Lodge other then this still in the game that is passive to Alliance players, there had been a lodge in Loch Modan but it is now filled with Dwarves mainly. Prior to Cata the Alliance actually had little interaction with this High Elf camp and the horde had a series of quests to destroy it and disrupt the communications of the High Elves. A nice change now is that Alliance players get a phased questline to defend Quel'Danil from assault. For those interested in the linguistics of Azeroth, the word Quel appears to mean High in High Elven which explains how common it is in the naming of their weapons and cities.
Aerie Peak- Home to the Wildhammer Dwarves, or the other "good" faction of Dwarves since the Dwarves broke in to three factions during the War of the Hammers. It should be noted that Aerie Peak is not the original capital of the Wildhammer Dwarves, Grim Batol was their capital city until the death of Modgud (Tharrisan of the Dark Iron's Wife) with in the walls of Grim Batol left a taint upon the city. It could be safe to say Modgud's death was the cause that drew the the Faceless into the Grim Batol. The Wildhammer are lead by Falstad Wildhammer who is now at the new council of three hammers in Iron Forge and is also immortalized when Red Shirt guy "got one up" on Metzen at BlizzCon.
Reward for Snapjaws, Lad! This is a common fishing pole look but it is awesome to own a pole specifically dedicated to the fishing king himself this early in the game. Imagine these poles having their own display case at Bass Pro Shops and a dwarf trying to convince you how much better the 5000 is over the old 2500 poles.
All of the quest Jintha'Alor now for the alliance. Take note by the way if you need to travel to the top of the Troll city you can get a ride from Razorbeak instead of trekking by foot you can also travel back down with Razorbeak. Around the 3rd set of quest groupings for Jinth'Alor it is quicker to use Razorbeak to get up the mountain.
Summon and kill yourself a Troll Spider god. Some dwarves will eventually help you take down this massive spider. The quest is a fun little quest but is also a nice completion of the overall zone story of dealing with the Vilebranch Trolls.
Hinterlands was a painful zone in Vanilla. Getting there without the flight points proved to be almost murder for the Horde because there was no fast way to Raventusk Village other then running through the entire zone. Jintha'Alor used to be a major pain in the ass area to do questing because everything was outdoor elite so if you were level you had to find friends, you had to compete for kills against other groups, and you had to run all the way back to either Raventusk or Aerie Peak to turn in quests. I didn't care much for this zone pre-cata and generally avoided it like the plague.
I was pleasantly surprised by the revamp of the zone. Not a lot of the story being told in this zone has changed but the quality by which it is being told and how the questing is handled is much better. Having the quest givers at the bottom of Jinth'Alor much easier but you still run into the problem of if someone else is doing the quests you may have to wait for some respawn to get quest quotas. The story being told here with the trolls and their attempts to summons Shadra is a pretty good quest line to see from start to end. I love that they made Quel'Danil Lodge a mini-quest hub for the Alliance in this zone so you can get a little exposure to the High Elves. The only real issue I have with the zone overall is you do maybe 2-3 quests from actual Aerie peak in this zone as an Alliance player. I know the Horde get a lot more interaction with Raventusk Village through out this zone.
Overall I give this zone three out of five stars.
Everything seems to be very Troll centeric lately. I promise this not turning into Operation : Trollmaster. Which sounds like my attempt to get all my toons banned from the official forums. Up next is Desolace, I am not sure if I should be excited or not... at least... hey it is Centaur lore and not Troll lore...
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level: 38 Zone Levels: 30-35
Ending Level: 40
Quests: 60 Quests Over Required Completed:2
Booty Bay: Pirate cove run by the Blackwater Raiders even if the reputation is associated with Steamwheedle Cartel. This port has existed in the WoW universe since Warcraft III but I am having a hard time placing the general age of Booty Bay as a city in the overall timeline. Clearly it has been built long after the fall and splintering of jungle Troll empires.
Several Gurubashi ruins: The arena stands out as a place to run by but the whole landscape of Cape of Stranglethorn is littered with Gurubashi ruins much like Northern Stranglethorn. This is no real surprise considering at a time Stranglethorn was the main area with in the Jungle Troll empire, much like you see several troll ruins around the Ghostlands because there was a time when Ghostlands was the seat of the Forest Troll empire.
Reward for Our Mortal Enemies, while this is not an uncommon eye-patch model. But I always thought the eye patch helms made cool helms for rogues and hunters. Plus this zone was hurting pretty bad for unique models that you can get through questing.
Fun quest that starts with you trying to infiltrate the Bloodsail buccaneers and do a series of quests to prove your loyalty to the Bloodsail while secretly learning about their intent to attack Booty Bay. In the end you defend Booty Bay from a Bloodsail attack.
This quest was fun to be teleported into Zul'grub and try to stop Zanzil from resurrecting various memebers of the Gurubashi tribe with in Zul'grub (remember my rant during Northern Stranglethorn). This would have been a great lead in to the troll heroic instances had they not slapdash dropped the Zandalari into the mix.
Generally I have enjoyed the splititing of Stranglethorn into two parts. The zone used to feel massive and like a rather difficult slog to get through pre-Cataclysm. The spit of the zone has allowed them to develop two stories to tell in each zone.
Cape of Stranglethorn does a lot more with the conflict between the Bloodsail buccaneers and the Booty Bay pirates which I mentioned in the cool quest sections. In the past there was a couple of quests to kill some of the Bloodsail from Booty Bay and there was the very tedious achievement to get rep with the Bloodsail. But now they actually added a lot of detail into the quest hub relating around this conflict so you actually have a vested interest if you go back now and start working on your Bloodsail rep (and god help you if you do).
I also really enjoyed going into ZG again to try to stop Zanzil. They did a really good job starting to setup a reason for ZG to be relevant again as a heroic with these quests even if they were low level compared to the actual heroics. You may not have done the new part of the zone the first time you did a heroic ZG and saw Zanzil as a boss but when you go back and do the zone now it is a very "ooooooh" moment. I would have made for an even more spectacular zone and quest line if they had given Zanzil more credit for the return of ZG for the actual instance.
With all that in mind, and yes my fun in this zone really did revolve around two quest lines but they both told great stories and sometimes you only need one or two quest lines to make a good zone.
Cape of Stranglethorn gets three out of five stars.
My images for stars are still driving me mad but next up is Hinterlands!
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level: 36 Zone Levels: 25-30
Ending Level: 37
Quests: 18 Quests Over Required Completed:8
Founded early in the history of the human tribes during the Troll wars, the kingdom of Stormgarde eventually swore it's allegiance to Lordaeron. Repelling even the scourge during the third war Stormgarde was one of the last human kingdoms outside of Stormwind (in my opinion) to fall as it feel due to the assassination of Galen Trollbane after the Third War had ended. Some of the Stormgarde defenders still defend parts of the keep but most of the keep is under control of the Syndicate and ogres. Since Cataclysm, Galen Trollbane has become a member of the Forsaken. It is yet to be seen if this will cause Stormgarde to swear it's allegiance to the Dark Lady and the new ruler of Loderaeron.
A splinter tribe of the Armani empire. The Witherbark allied themselves with the Horde during the second war but left the Horde after Zul'jin's disappearance. This village in Arathi is only a smaller part of the larger tribe that mainly resides in the Hinterlands.
Reward for Wanted! Marez Cowl . Not the rarest dagger in the game but I think it is a pretty nice looking dagger.
Reward for Attack on the Tower. Only one other model in the game uses this dagger and I think it is pretty sick looking.
Reward for Sunken Treasure. Not the most rare Elven Spear but it looks pretty sweat and its not another dagger for this zone.
Nope Chuck Testa.... Serious this zone has all of 20 odd quest in them and they are all basic kill and fetch quests.
Okay Arathi Highlands is not hurting for relevant lore as you noticed in the lore areas but this zone seems to have gotten NONE of the revamp wand on the Alliance side. The horde have a more fleshed out storyline going on in the zone and it almost feels like Blizzard should have just removed Refugee Point from Arathi so the Alliance no longer has a presence there because the quests feel that way. I literally went out of my to do half as many quests as half of Stranglethorn. This zone needs some serious help in the story department through it's quest story telling. The story of the fall of Stormgarde could make a great 20-30 quests and we get 5-6 to go in and kill random people.
I am dissapointed with this zone overal so I am giving it a 1 out of 5.
Still better then Bloodmyst Isles.
Next off to Stonetalon Mountains and the last of the 25-30 zones. (Having already done the zone but not the write up I can tell you it will be better this this one)
Achievement Completion Comments
Starting Level: 33 Zone Levels: 25-30
Ending Level: 36
Quests: 50 Quests Over Required Completed:3
Additional Zone Achievements: The Green Hills of Stranglethorn
Northern Stranglethorn is littered with the ruins of the Gurubashi empire, which at one time was a single unified powerful jungle troll empire. As the Gurubashi grew in power their worship of the blood god Hakkar also grew and the cruel demands of Hakkar drove a wedge into the Gurubashi empire splintering the empire during civil war. From this war the forest trolls were split among factions which included the Gurubashi, who maintain control of Zul'Grub, the Darkspear tribe, who are now part of the Horde under Vol'jin's leadership, and the Zandalar tribe...
Ah the Zandalar tribe... I might as well get this out of the way in the Northern Stranglethorn section before I do Stranglethorn Coast. In Vanilla the Zandalar were a neutral faction to both the Horde and the Alliance who seek both sides aid to stop the Gurubashi from spreading out of Zul'Gurb and to destroy Hakkar. This all changed not through dynamic story telling but for a rushed need for 2 more heroics in a content patch. The Zandalar, who spent Vanilla and 2 expansions, as the only truly neutral Troll tribe suddenly without reason decide to call all the troll empires back together and declare war on the Horde and the Alliance. (Nevermind Jungle and Forest trolls are not friendly)To make it even worse the Darkspear, who are firmly Horde, suddenly raise the battle cry against the Zandalar. It is flat out stupid. Just bring back the Amani and Gurubashi tribes on their own with out this WWF style swerve. It would be like the Ashen Verdict waiting 2 expansions then deciding to align with the Scourge to declare war on the factions in the name of putting 2 more heroics into the rotation.
I realize this is a long and slightly off topic Noteworthy Lore section for this zone but I played a troll shaman on Horde from the end of Vanilla till the end of WOTLK. I consider myself a bit of a lore nut (SUPRISE) and this just smacks us lore buffs in the face. Granted it is not as painful as the War of Ancients retcon through the Well of Eternity books... but that is for another day and another rant.
Back to our regularly scheduled zone review.
Reward for Panther Mastery and sharing it's model with only 2 other guns in the game. Nothing says serious hunter like a double barrel boomstick.
All the mastery quests for Nesingwary.
Love him or hate, depending if you are a druid or not, Nesingwary is one of the best re-occuring fun characters in the game. He encompasses the ideal of discovering new lands by killing everything you see. During vanilla these quest lines were a murderous gauntlet of running back to the quest givers over and over while gorillas chased you down, stunned you, and helped you visit the pretty pretty resurrection ghost. Now with the new Cataclysm quest the quest givers at Nesingwary's camp update as you complete the quests and the final quest feature non-elites. Plus you need to find one messily page for the Hills of Stranglethorn book. Vanilla players will tell their kids how they had to find all 400 pages of that book while walking up hill both ways and then bind the book from their own flesh. Needless to say the overall hub has been streamlined and actually makes doing these quests fun instead of brutal.
Another quest that makes me thing the Zandalar were slap dash thrown in as the main enemies for the troll heroics. This quest has been in since 4.0.3 practically Cata launch.. GWAR!!!!! But that aside this is an amazing little quest that has you adopt a baby Lashtail Raptor and raise it only to have your work cause the resurrection of Bloodlord Mandokir and for him to steal your beloved pet. You get a fun, some people say frustrating, vision quest to play as the baby raptor and attempt to escape Zul'Grub. You fail to escape but if you complete this quest line and then go kill Mandokir in (H)Zul'Grub you can get a quest to visit your grown raptor baby who gives you a Lashtail companion pet.
During Vanilla I got stuck in Stranglethorn for what seemed like my entire level 30 to 50 leveling process, that might be wrong but I know it felt that way. I never did the zone again ever on another character till I was trying to get WOTLK loremaster. In vanilla version this zone would have gotten a big fat zero stars out of me, some people liked it, I hated trying to run that long road from northern Stranglethorn to Booty Bay for the first time.
This was a top zone in my opinion in need of a revamp and the teams at Blizzard did it right. Split this beast into two parts and make it fun again. I clearly enjoyed the zone as you can tell by the length of this post and I had some fundamental lore issues with the zone but that does not detract from the over all fun of the zone.
Nothern Stranglethorn gets four of five stars