Category Archives: Memories of Azeroth

6×6(x6) challenge

State of the blog: I’m still alive!

Over the past little while I’ve had a big case of the whatevers, in the fact that I have had not much drive to work on my blog. However, thanks to the friendly pestering of some fellow bloggers, I’ve decided to try to get back into the swing of things.

Also, I’ve had a little something – or someone – that has kept me busy for the past week.

The Spawnling at a day old

Meet The Spawnling, born last Saturday. She is absolutely adorable and is totally in control of our house already. She’s going to have her daddy wrapped around her pinky so very quickly, I’m sure.

The Challenge

Go into your image folder, open the sixth sub-folder and choose the sixth image. Show the image, and share some thoughts about it. Challenge six new bloggers, and link to them.

Fannon at Dwarven Battle Medic started to complicate things a bit by making it more than just one folder, which Aidrana from Miss Pew Pew followed – and since they bugged me, and I want to write, you get more for your non-spent money!

1 – World of Warcraft (852 pictures total)

My Tauren Druid main, as a baby character

I used to have more pictures, but unfortunately after reformatting a few times there were some that had been lost. Thankfully this one was saved, which was my very first screenshot of my main character. At the time his name was Asok (after the Dilbert character), and is now Korath – the closest I can get to my usual name as I could on the Thrall server.

As you can see, he is very much a baby character. This was during Burning Crusade when I was leveling up with my wife’s new character, as she had just recently bought WoW and was leveling her way through it. Back in the day, you had to go all the way to Silvermoon just to train Jewelcrafting for the Horde, as you had to go to Exodar for the Alliance. Those days sucked.

2 – Muse Concert (6 pictures total)

Muse concert in Edmonton, March 2010

Unfortunately, these were very bad pictures taken with my old mobile phone. Thankfully it is now dead, and I have a new fancy iPhone 4S to replace it.  However, amazingly enough the pictures are somewhat recognizable. Muse is my favourite band, and my wife and I were fortunate enough to see them in March 2010.

3 – Blog Stuff (144 pictures total)

What I do is whenever I have anything specifically for the blog from something else, I would usually save a copy of it in my Blog folder, renamed for whatever purpose.  However, in this case since I’m using something that I’ve already done… then I don’t bother.

I have only a few sub-folders: one specifically for third party images, so I know which ones are mine and which ones are not; one for my Screenshots of the Week (which is definitely not weekly anymore); and a sub-folder of the SSOTW where I move over the images that I have used.

Why hello, Archaeology survey tool from my Archaeology 101 guide.

4 and 5 – Third Party and Screenshots of the Week (52 pictures total)

Moon and Aurora in Howling Fjord

As mentioned above, these are just pictures from my separate sub-folders.

Howling Fjord is still one of my favourite zones for many reasons. It was one of our first tastes of Wrath of the Lich King, and it really sets the tone for this Northern land. Living in Canada, I’m fortunate enough to see the real Aurora Borealis from time to time, and it never gets old.  I just love it so very much.

Verming concept art for Mists of Pandaria

The Verming concept art was one that just made me laugh so very much. We were watching the BlizzCon live stream this year, and they had this during the Mists of Pandaria preview panel. I can’t wait to kill these guys, as I’m pretty sure that they’re the new kobolds or murlocs and we’ll hate them soon enough.

6 – The Spawn/The Spawnling (1964 pictures total)

The Spawn

What parent doesn’t like to take pictures of their kids?  If anyone follows me on Twitter, they’ll know that I refer to my kids as The Spawn and the new one as The Spawnling. I’m a bit paranoid so I prefer not to use their real names, as Fannon from Dwarven Battle Medic frequently uses the same idea with the Dwarfling.

The Spawn is two and a half years old, and The Spawnling is a week old now.  We have our hands full with them, but as I’ve said many times – being a Dad is the best job in the world.

This picture happened to turn out really well. I was trying to get a picture of The Spawn with my iPhone, and of course he was running around. I figured I’d see what happens, and it ended up being one of my favourite pictures.

Bonus – Too much cute to handle

The Spawn holding The Spawnling

It’s quite handy having a phone to capture some great moments. Of course, when The Spawnling was first born we weren’t sure how The Spawn would react. Thankfully, he’s been an amazing big brother – we just really hope that it continues.

Challenging Others

The last part of the challenge was to tag six other bloggers to do the same thing.  Unfortunately, most of the bloggers that I know have already done this challenge, so I’m going to call out a fellow Band of Thorns member to get off his butt and update his blog.  Sharden of 15 Minutes of WoW – I hereby challenge you!

Next Steps

Thanks to my blogger friends, I should be back into the swing of things. With having two children under three in the house now, updates will most definitely not be as consistent as I would like, but I will try to keep things going as much as possible.

Here’s to a new chapter, I hope that it turns out to be as good on paper as it is in my head.

Memories of Azeroth: Zangarmarsh

Click for full size

After Hellfire Peninsula, the next stop is Zangarmarsh.  Whereas Hellfire looked a lot like the Blasted Lands, and wasn’t too “alien”, Zangarmarsh is a completely brand new world.  It’s basically a reminder of the Warcraft II expansion set “Beyond the Dark Portal”, as there were forests of mushrooms there.  Well, here’s your forest of mushrooms!

Cenarion Refuge - Click for full size

Telredor - Click for full size

Starting in the zone, characters would have breadcrumb quests leading to Cenarion Refuge, and their respective faction camps of Swamprat Post for the Horde or Telredor fot the Alliance.  I must admit that I was always a little choked that the Alliance got this amazing looking outpost built into a mushroom, and the Horde just gets a generic Troll camp.  The quests here would take up half the zone, eventually leading west.

The Dead Mire - Click for full size

The Spawning Glen - Click for full size

The zone’s story has a lot to do with the Naga, and how they’re draining the lakes for their own purposes.  They don’t say exactly what purpose that is, but I think it’s along the lines of: “It’s MINE! Go away!”  The Dead Mire is an example of what happens to an area once the water has been drained out completely.  Among the inhabitants affected by this are the mushroom people of Sporeggar.  There are some quests to help them out, and a faction associated with them.  The rewards include a non-combat pet, but it takes a very long time to get the reputation required.

Ango'rosh Stronghold - Click for full size

Orebor Harborage - Click for full size

The west side of the zone dealt mainly with the Ogres, and that they were chopping down the mushrooms for themselves and messing things up for Sporeggar.  Because the fungal giants didn’t have mushrooms to eat, they decided to eat Sporeggar’s young while they were growing in the Spawning Glen.  It’s up to the player to go and crush the Ogres at their stronghold, which is a small island using a downed mushroom as a bridge.  Altogether you get to lay a beat down on a bunch of things to try and bring things as close to normal as possible.

To Terokkar Forest - Click for full size

To Nagrand - Click for full size

After Zangarmarsh, it’s off to Terokkar Forest – normally.  I try to skip Terokkar, as I’m not too fond of the zone, so I try to go right to Nagrand.  There are entrances to Terokkar, Nagrand, and Blade’s Edge from Zangarmarsh, very much the crossroads of the continent.

 

Memories of Azeroth – Hellfire Peninsula

Through my Screenshots of the Week, I’ve had a few people comment about perhaps expanding it. One person suggested I do a whole post about Nagrand, since I said how much I loved it.  So, here’s the first of my focus on a specific zone – in screenshots. I try to limit myself on how many I will use, as it’s quite easy to take a whole lot of them.

Click for full size

The first thing anyone notices going into Hellfire Peninsula, and the rest of Outland, is the Dark Portal. Anyone who has played any of the RTS games will know about this, and I know the first time that I went through it I was a little bit in awe. The Azeroth size of it is quite small, but seeing the enormity of the Outland side was amazing.

Thrallmar - Click for full size

Honor Hold - Click for full size

After going through the portal, the next stop would be your faction’s respective home base: Thrallmar for the Horde, and Honor Hold for the Alliance.  Each of the bases has a history, but the Alliance has a little bit more – it was founded by the Alliance Expedition Force who went through the Dark Portal many years back (the events of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal expansion).  Alleria and Turalyon and the rest of the force prevented the corruption of Outland to spread into Azeroth, and basically saved the world… along with beating up Deathwing and a few others.

Falcon Watch - Click for full size

Temple of Telhamat - Click for full size

Other quest hubs in the zone include Falcon Watch for the Horde, run by the Blood Elves who were longing to get to Outland to drink in the energies, and the Temple of Telhamat, run by Draenei who are also wanting to get back to Outland for different reasons.  The landscapes here always strike me, even through how desolate it all is. Take the large red crystal, a focus for a small quest chain. Simply adding that in gives the area a lot more character.

Skies of Outland - Click for full size

Pools of Aggonar - Click for full size

Since Outland is an alien world, there has to be things that set it apart from what is considered normal. Simply looking up at the sky, and seeing energies flow across will show you that you’re not in Azeroth anymore. That, along with multiple moons, gives the zone that much more of an exotic look. Before Outland was what it is now, it was a world called Draenor, but succumed to demonic corruption. One area is called the Pools of Aggonar, which is where a pit lord was once killed. His skeleton remains, along with many pools of his sickly green “blood”, and creatures that feed off of it and are born of it. Definitely corrupted.

Hellfire Citadel - Click for full size

Towards Zangarmarsh - Click for full size

In the middle of the zone is Hellfire Citadel, where there are four instances – three 5-man dungeons and a 25-man raid. The biggest change of the instances from Vanilla to Burning Crusade was that many of them were tremendously shorter and more streamlined than before. People weren’t used to being able to complete an instance in under three hours.

Once Hellfire Peninsula was done the next destination was Zangarmarsh, which will be the subject of next week’s Memories of Azeroth.

Memories of Azeroth: Naxxramas

Lately I’ve had difficulty having inspiration for a new post, and have been thinking about what to post about. Patch 4.2 has just recently dropped, but sites such as WoW Insider have much more comprehensive coverage of things in there than I could ever give. However, one thing that I can give is where I’ve come from through my time in WoW. Let’s take a trip with the way-back machine to Wrath of the Lich King and look back at Naxxramas.

Courtesy WoW College

Naxx was one of the entry raids of WotLK, the other being Malygos in the Eye of Eternity. It was originally a 40-man raid at the end of Vanilla, but the difficulty level and attunement process was quite high at the time. Very few people were able to experience it, even through Burning Crusade. Thus Blizzard decided to bring it back in Wrath, along with updated items and tier armours.

This tier of raiding was the first time people got to experience having the choice between 10 and 25-man groups of the same instance. They were on separate lockouts, so if someone had enough time they could do both versions of the raid to get gear faster. Personally I felt it was better suited for 25-man raiding, as it is such a very large instance, and it feels even larger when there aren’t as many people. The size of the instance and rooms were not changed from the original 40-man raid, so that probably has a bit to do with it.

There were four wings, each with a boss at the end that needed to be defeated before moving on to Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad (originally – later through Wrath it was possible to skip the wings and go directly to them). The four quarters were: Military (or Death Knight), Plague, Spider, and Construct. Each wing was themed with similar trash mobs and bosses, with each having their own little special thing.

Back in Vanilla, Patchwerk was the DPS check for the instance. If the raid DPS was high enough to kill Patchwerk before he enrages, the group is probably ready to do the rest of the instance. Fortunately with Naxx being the first raid of the expansion, it was a little more forgiving.

I never had the chance to do it in Vanilla, but I have heard that the entire instance retains much of the original feel. Fights like Loatheb are still very difficult due to the very big mechanic of not being able to heal except for a few brief seconds every minute. Heigan still requires the entire raid to dance between the flames. Kel’Thuzad is still a royal pain if you’re melee-heavy with the ice blocks.

Altogether it wasn’t a bad instance, and I certainly enjoyed the time we had through it. There were certainly things that could have been improved, however. Standing out to me was the Instructor Razuvious fight in 25-man mode. It was a requirement for there to be two priests in the raid, as there are two adds that need to be mind controlled for the fight to tank the boss. In 10-man mode, there were crystals that were used for this reason so anyone could do it. Even though there are 25 people in a raid, there were a few times our guild couldn’t do that quarter because we didn’t have enough priests.

There were a LOT of bosses. 16 altogether (I’m counting the Four Horsemen as one boss), and while that allowed a lot of loot to be given out, it also made for a lot of time in one zone looking at the same stuff over and over again. I’m all for a lot of content, but sometimes there’s a bit too much.

Class tier item sets dropped were re-skinned Tier 3, updated for Wrath. Some of my favourite tier sets are in tiers 3 and 7, so I was quite happy when I got my sets. Along with it were some very interesting looking weapons, including Journey’s End and Origin of Nightmares (guess what spec I was during that time). Unfortunately, as much as feral Druids loved these two items we suffered the usual pains of not being able to see them while in combat.

This instance was a very good raid to start off the expansion with. It was perfect for Wrath’s lore, and had a variety of fights that people had to adapt to very quickly. Thaddius and the positive/negative gimmick was always a lot of fun and very frustrating at the same time.

If you ask me, that’s what raiding is supposed to be like – have fun while ripping your hair out. Good times.

Cataclysmic Beginnings, Part 2: Horde

In my continuing coverage of the new starting areas for the changed Azeroth, we come to the Horde. My preferred faction, the one that I’ve played a majority of my World of Warcraft career with. I’ve rolled alts galore before the changes, and I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only one who has. After a while, the mind just goes numb and the starting zones became a blur until you just plow through it and get it over and done with.

Pre-Cataclysm, I know that all of my characters went over to Eversong Forest and Ghostlands as soon as possible. The rewards were better than any given in the other areas, and the flow was much smoother than doing the other ones. It’s a little bit sad that it’s now the opposite – any Blood Elf will likely try to go to Tirisfal Glades and Silverpine Forest as fast as they can, and with good reason.

One great thing that has been changed for all starting zones that is extremely useful is that there are flight paths in the starting towns, like Razor Hill or Bloodhoof Village. Less travel time is always appreciated.

Each of the remaining Horde races will be covered here: Orcs and Trolls in Durotar, Tauren in Mulgore, Blood Elves in Eversong Forest, and Forsaken in Tirisfal Glades. There will be spoilers ahead.

Read the rest of this entry

Cataclysmic Beginnings, Part 1

Having gone through both of the new races’ starting zones, I thought I’d give my opinions on how they turned out. They were both well done, but in different ways. The Goblin starting zone was very goblin-esque: it was fun, campy, had some entertaining moments. The Worgen starting zone was very sober: it was like you were in an industrial revolution time period, and you’re fighting for your survival.

This is going to be part one in a series of going through the changed starting zones of all the races, finishing up their respective starting areas – Durotar, Tirisfal, and so on.

My biggest disappointment was what happens to the Worgen after the starting zone is done, but we’ll get to that part later.

There will be lots of spoilers forthcoming.  Follow along after the break to go through my thoughts about these two great areas.

Read the rest of this entry

Twilight Highlands Roundup

By the time someone reaches Twilight Highlands, they’ve gone through quite a bit of stuff. At the minimum, that person would have completed or at least done part of the zones of Hyjal or Vashj’ir, Deepholm, and possibly Uldum. At this point there is a lot of expectations to live up to, since we’ve seen the new questing and zone design philosophies that Blizzard has implemented in full force. When you’re in Twilight Highlands, you expect to have the best of the best – and Blizzard delivers.

(As always, this is from a Horde point of view, and will contain spoilers)

The lead-up quests to going into Twilight Highlands were really the only part that I didn’t like. Going to the gate in Azshara to inspect the gear that will go with you into the attack and then collecting the gear in Bilgewater Harbour was a little bit boring. I understand that the intent was to show that it’s a big effort and that you have an effect on the big attack. It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Once you step on the zeppelin and head out towards the zone is when it gets fun.

You are on a zeppelin with a fleet of others, along with small fighters to provide escort towards the landing site by Dragonmaw Port. Along the way the fleet gets attacked by Twilight dragons, and Garrosh (strangely enough by himself on his own zeppelin) and his zeppelin go down, and you follow shortly after. The only “friendly” people in the zone for you are the Dragonmaw, which are under the rule of someone who isn’t too fond of giving up his power over the clan. He styles himself Warchief of the Dragonmaw, so being the patriotic Horde member you are, you decide to help lead a revolt that brings the death of the impostor and the promotion of Zaela – the new leader of the Dragonmaw. She is quite a bit more reasonable and is more than willing to help the Horde combat the Twilight’s Hammer in the Highlands.

Throughout the zone, it’s a constant battle: Horde vs Alliance, Horde & red dragons vs Twilight people, Deathwing vs Alexstrasza, lots of fun stuff. Very quickly about each part:

  • Horde vs Alliance: I like the tensions in the zone. Everyone knows that the major enemy is Deathwing and Twilight’s Hammer, but the temptation to strike a major blow at the Alliance is just too much to pass up. The zeppelin gunship battle against the Alliance base was great, along with attacking the Dwarf camp. The dailies are a little annoying, but that’s to be expected with daily quests.
  • Horde & red dragons vs Twilight people: the major plotline of the entire zone. Starting with the Dragonmaw joining the Horde and ending with an assault on the Twilight base camp along the side of Garona Halforcen, it’s a lot of very fun quests. The Isorath questline where you battle inside the stomach of a big “thing” is really neat, especially seeing Deathwing attack people at the Maelstrom and not knowing it isn’t real until the end.
  • Deathwing vs Alextrasza: best cinematic of all quests that I’ve seen so far. Seeing the two of them battle, then following them to attack the smaller drakes was a great sense of accomplishment. I took a great many screenshots, a version of the one above is my current desktop background right now. I really can’t wait to see what the Deathwing raid encounter will look like.

All in all, the zone was incredibly well done. A very fitting end to the questing chain through the Cataclysm zones, and really making me want more storyline through the raids that will eventually be added through future patches. Now, all that stands between me and Loremaster of Cataclysm is Hyjal.

Uldum Roundup

I’m back from my little vacation, and we’re right back into the thick of things in WoW.  I never mentioned it, but I hit 85 before I left – the night before, as a matter of fact.  The unfortunate part of this is that I get to gear up so I can get into heroics, then get the gear required to start raiding again.  That is another post, thankfully.

Uldum was where I hit 85, and I’m glad that I decided to go there instead of right to Twilight Highlands.  It was a nice zone, but I do have to say that it wasn’t as good as the other zones have been.  A number of people from a number of blogs have mentioned that there’s just too much pop culture references in the zone, namely the fact that a large chunk of the quests deal with Harrison Jones and trying to keep the Coffer of Promise away from Schnottz and the black dragons (or, Indiana Jones and trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant away from the Nazis).  There were definitely some entertaining parts, but I feel that the Harrison Jones thing should be put to rest now.  It was good, but just be done with it.

The other half of the zone, dealing with the Ramkahen and their plight against the Neferset and the black dragon allies, was a lot of fun.  There was a good variety of quests, and almost a little bit of Real-Time Strategy involved in a few of them as well.  Commanding troops to move across a battlefield to defend against incoming attackers was a neat change.  As I’ve said before, I’m not the best at RTS games, but I still enjoy them.

I do have to say that the zone played out quite differently than I expected.  At first, I expected it to be a lot like Ulduar – a big city with titan stuff in a small area, not a whole zone.  There were times when it seemed they were fishing for quests, trying to make up things that people could have fun with and not caring about the story.  Fortunately, I don’t care too much about times like that since I do play the game to have fun.  Yet, I just think it could have been done better.  You don’t get the same sense of accomplishment as you do at the end of Deepholm.

On to Twilight Highlands!

Deepholm roundup

One of the biggest thoughts that I have after going through Deepholm is pretty simple, actually.  Therazane is quite ugly – now I know where Princess Theradras gets it from.  That being said, the zone was awesome.  From the very epic flight in at the beginning to the end where you get to ally with Therazane herself, it just keeps getting better.

As I said, the entrance was something which I had hoped would happen: you talk to Thrall on the edge of the Maelstrom, and he sends you down into the very centre of the vortex to enter into Deepholm, the elemental plane of Earth where Deathwing was licking his wounds.  I was hoping that we could just jump in, but a flight in is a close second.

The story of the zone is fairly simple.  When Deathwing broke out, he shattered the “world pillar”, which separates the elemental plane from Azeroth.  Doing so lets us go in, but also the other stuff like: the Alliance (boo!), fungal spores, Twilight’s Hammer guys – you know, the usual suspects.  We get to fix what was broken.

It’s broken up (see what I did there?) into three parts to get the fragments of the world pillar to make it whole again.  Each part deals with a different group of denizens of the realm, such as the Earthen or elementals, and by the end they either like you or are willing to put up with you long enough to finish up what is needed.

All in all, it was (once again) excellent.  There were some good story driven parts, great characters, and the quests were fun.  The dailies opened up for Therazane at the end aren’t even that bad – not even close to the Sons of Hodir ones.  What makes the rep grind less of a grind is that you can also get a tabard to wear in dungeons, making the time to get the required shoulder enchants not take nearly as long.

I’m now about 40% through level 84, and working on Uldum right now.  Hopefully I can get to 85 soon and join my guild in doing heroics and other fun stuff… like Archaeology!

Vashj’ir Roundup

I finished up Vashj’ir last night, and I am very impressed with how it turned out.  From start to finish, the entire zone was one big ocean o’ fun.  (See what I did there?)

Entering the zone, you get taken into the story immediately.  I expected that you would take the boat out to an island and then start the quest hubs from there, not get attacked by a giant leviathan.  The fact that you are fighting to survive the entire time you’re in the zone makes the story flesh out very well.  Budd, as always, is good comic relief.  I thought that we wouldn’t see him again after he jumped off the boat on the way in, but there he was by Smugglers’ Cove with some entertaining quests to do for him.

When Burning Crusade came out, I know a lot of people would make alts that they would run though the 60-70 content just to make money from quest rewards – until Blizzard nerfed the amount that was gained.  I feel that it’s the same deal now, as I’ve made a few hundred gold just from questing and selling the junk or rewards I didn’t use along with the cash that is given with the reward.

I liked the pacing for the most part, but it was just different from what I’m used to.  With the amount of phasing through the zone, I can understand why you would only have 4-5 quests in your log at once instead of the 10-15+ that you could get through some Wrath zones.  As much as I liked the phasing where it showed the fruits of your labour, it almost seemed like too much at times.  It was weird thinking that the old Nesingwary quests in Outland were fun, just killing everything that was in front of you and not worrying about much else.

The final quest chain was great, as it tied everything together.  The creature that attacks you at the beginning of the zone makes its triumphant return and we get to deal with the consequences.  Just another day in the office, right?

I’m moving on to Deepholm now, after working on my Goblin for a little bit.  I eagerly look forward to what is ahead.

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