Category Archives: World of Warcraft

A collection of Oddities, Rants, and other funny things about the World of Warcraft

Welcome the OddCraft Archive!

Basic Campfire Makes A Simple Statement

Long ago, in the distant past of 2008 – almost ten years now – I started blogging.  I did not however start with this blog.  The Land of Odd wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye back then.  When I first began, I had another blog titled “The World of OddCraft” or simply “OddCraft”.  It was a collection of thoughts and observations about the World of Warcraft which was pretty much the only MMO I played back then (I had a Mac, my options were quite limited.)   OddCraft slowly evolved into a series of “Oddities” that I had found in the World of Warcraft: References, strange details, weird doodads placed around the world, and unusual NPCs.  All of them organized by location, expasion, faction, etc.  Although page views rarely broke into the triple digits, I was quite proud of it and I had a small following of regular readers and commenters.

However, as time went on and more notable I grew disillusioned with the Cataclysm expansion, I withdrew from WoW and focused on other things.  Naturally, OddCraft didn’t update as much at that point.  I would still do posts here and there and it did eventually lead to the creation of the Original Version of the WoW Ironman Challenge (We didn’t include a ‘No Death’ clause.  Mostly because we were curious about what you could accomplish with the bare minimum, and the No Death thing seemed to encourage playing it safe over experimentation).  But yes, the original version with the original rules that were first laid out on Twitter by myself, Psynister and a few others were laid into stone on the OddCraft website.  It was also where we did the Warchief Election when it was announced that come Cataclysm the Horde’s leadership was gonna be shaken up.  Six different notable faces ran campaigns and debated on the blog and it ended with a big vote to decide who won to become the new Warchief of the Horde.

Ultimately, OddCraft was sadly more or less abandoned when I decided I wanted to write about far more than just Warcraft and the Land of Odd was created in its place.  But I never forgot about that old site that started things out.  That’s why I am proud to announce that we have officially imported all of the old OddCraft content right here on the Land of Odd in the ‘Warcraft’ section of the blog under ‘Oddities’.  All the old categorization still applied, and I’m working on fixing any images that were lost in the transition.  The old site isn’t gone, but this way my entire blogging history is now under one roof.

So fans of Warcraft, funny things or just people who take interest in some of the weird stuff that pops up in a big MMO, I welcome you to take a gander at the OddCraft Archive, now hosted locally on the Land of Odd!

LFR vs Normals: How Easy is Too Easy?

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So the big thing yesterday was the release of the first LFR wing for the Emerald Nightmare in World of Warcraft: Legion and the immediate revelation that the quest items for the Balance of Power questline were not dropping from it.  This was soon confirmed by Blizzard that these items were not intended to drop from LFR, and that the questline and the artifact appearances it unlocked (as unlocking the first appearance in any row is required to receive the other three) were reserved for those who tackled Normal or higher difficulties of the raids only as the appearances were meant to be a cosmetic reward for tackling challenging pre-made group content.

This sparked a massive debate across the internet and most of it could be boiled down into the age old ‘casual vs hardcore’ nonsense that has plagued gaming for years now.  However, the thing that struck me was more so the idea that people shouldn’t complain because ‘normals are easy’.  Wait.  Isn’t that the exact reason you said this SHOULDN’T be in LFR?  Because LFR is easy?  I saw this argument used dozens of times in the past 24 hours:

Content X should be gated behind difficulty Y because difficulty Z isn’t challenging. But people shouldn’t complain because difficulty Y isn’t challenging.

If you are confused by that statement, welcome to my world.  The only explanation I can get is that the ‘challenge’ comes from assembling a premade group and actually staying as a cohesive whole long enough to kill the bosses.  An easy task for those who have existing guilds and raid teams that they are part of, less so for those who are without.  The ‘challenge’ for them becomes convincing a guild to give them a slot on the raid team or the far more daunting task of convincing a pick up group to let them come along.

That latter situation is where the headaches come from for most who are complaining about this change.  Be it social anxiety, scheduling conflicts, or simply impossible recruitment requirements (Day 1 Emerald Nightmare ‘Plz know the fights’, item level requirements that eclipse what the content drops, requiring 1+ legendaries) finding a PUG is simultaneously easy to do and difficult to join.  Oh sure, there’s a group finder, but let’s hope you get lucky on whether or not you get an invite in any timely fashion.

The same can be said about Mythic Dungeons.  As a Retribution Paladin, I’ve managed to snag one invite to a Mythic after dozens of applications to join one. Which then promptly fell apart when the tank and healer bailed due to “low dps”.  However, Mythics are a gate for a number of quests including my professions.  But it’s okay, people tell me, Mythics are mind numbingly easy.  Perhaps but then the most difficult boss again becomes actually getting a group.

So what seems to be the crux of this whole thing seems less to be about what is easy or difficulty and more so a push back against matchmaking groups.  The Dungeon Finder/LFR tools make the process of getting a group too easy. So we must reward those who eschew convenience and reward them with cosmetics and their own dungeon tier that is completely optional except for when it is not (again with the Engineer profession quest requiring a Mythic dungeon – that drops ilvl 840 gear – to get a recipe that makes a ilvl 815 item.)

I suppose in some ways we’ve gone full circle.  We’re back to the Molten Core days where “wrangling the cats” was the hardest part of the job.  Only now you get exclusive rewards along with the better gear.

So am I upset about this? Eh. Maybe a bit peeved, but hardly anything I’d quit the game over.  Blizzard did confirm in a blue post that story/profession quests that require raids will be doable in LFR, so you won’t get locked out of finishing Suramar and getting the last Pillar of Creation.  It’s just the “Valorous” artifact appearance that is locked behind the wall.  And while my inner completionist screams “nooooooo!” I’ve long learned how to deal with him.  Mostly single player RPGs.

(I AM still irritated about that Mythic dungeon engineering quest though. Because that’s just dumb. 830 ilevel requirement to get an 815 helm? Who did that math?)

World of Wacraft: Warlords of Draenor – Legendary Ring Story Summary

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So with Legion, Blizzard decided to remove the Legendary Ring storyline from the game.  Since this storyline does a lot to set up the explanation behind the Legion expansion, as well as go into many of the motivations for staying around on Draenor after the destruction of the Dark Portal, I felt that it was deserving of a story summary so that people can have some level of reference if you want to know what went down in Warlords of Draenor.

Chapter I: Call of the Archmage

Upon reaching max level, you will find a familiar glowing friend wandering around your garrison.  This arcane construct brings word to you from Archmage Khadgar who requests your aid with a mission he has and asks that you come meet with him at his tower in Zangarra.  There he, along with trusty Watcher bodyguard Cordana Felsong, explain that to accomplish this mission he will need your help and to do so you will need a special tool that will help you along the way. A powerful piece of equipment that will not only give you the strength for the challenges that lie ahead but tether you to Khadgar so that he can keep an eye on you and your actions in the dire days to come.  He suggests the item be a ring and asks you to seek out the Arrakoa of Skyreach to retrieve a ring made of pure Solium, a rare metal heated and infused with the raw power of Draenor’s sun, to act as a base material for your new ring.

After fetching the material, Khadgar begins work on infusing your ring with new power and bringing out its own latent strength.  While working he explains that while the Horde and Alliance continue their battle against the forces of the Iron Horde, Khadgar has a different and far more threatening target in mind: Gul’dan.  The Orc Warlock who forged a pact with the demons of the Burning Legion and has a noted history of manipulating events from the shadows to get what he wants.  Khadgar wants to flush the warlock out of the shadows and the best way to do that would be to start by gathering powerful reagents for a tracking spell.  Khadgar requests that you retrieve a Core of Flame from the Slag Mines belonging to the Bloodmaul Ogres in Frostfire Ridge, the Core of Iron that is used to power the Iron Horde’s Iron Star trains that depart from the Grimrail Depot in Gorgrond, and finally to adventure deep into the Everbloom to extract the Core of Life from the closest thing on Draenor to the progenitor of life – a Genesaur.  Khadgar has also heard word from Talador that Gul’dan’s Shadow Council has infiltrated the hallowed halls of the Auchindoun and suspects that Teron’gor, Gul’dan’s right hand, is behind it.  He wants you to retrieve a sample of Teron’gor’s foul fel-touched blood to be used a focus for the tracking ritual.

In exchange for your assistance, Khadgar offers to empower your ring even further but to do so he will require additional materials.  This time he wants to imbue the solium with the magic from the crystals of the Apexis, an ancient Arrakoa civilization that first learned how to harness the power of the sun.  To enhance your ring, he needs precisely 4,986 crystals.  Any less than that number would be inadequate and the wizard insists that any more would be simply ridiculous.  You can trust him. He’s a mage. He did the math.

Once you’ve retrieved all the reagents, Khadgar will attempt to perform a scrying ritual to find Gul’dan only to find that the warlock is actively countering the spell leading Khadgar to deduce that Teron’gor’s death must have spooked the old orc into running.  Unfortunately, this means that Khadgar will need even more power to contend with Gul’dan’s magic and complete the ritual to locate him.  However, he has an idea.  The Archmage knows of a certain dragon – Kairozdormu – that came to Draenor’s past attempting to help Garrosh Hellscream flee his war crimes trial.  Since this modified timeline permeates with Kairoz’s influence, Khadgar should be able to use the dragon – alive or dead – to connect to this age of Draenor and spread his magical power across it.  So you head to the eastern hills of Nagrand where you find time-lost illusion detailing what followed shortly after Garrosh & Kairoz’s arrival in the past version of Draenor.  It would appear that the dragon’s plans quickly soured after arriving back in time as Garrosh immediately betrayed and murdered Kairoz.  However after meeting his bloody end, Kairoz’s angry spirit still dwells in its final resting place of the Time Lost Glade where his spirit and timeline has seeped into the very land of Draenor.  To master this power, Khadgar beseeches you to finish Garrosh’s work and end the dragon’s existence.  As the battle goes on, it is finally revealed why Kairozdormu freed Garrosh and fled to Draenor.  Kairoz saw something in his experiments on the Timeless Isle.  Something that drove him to seek out a way to make not just an army, but an infinite number of armies to fight against it.  To become infinite himself.  His first goal was to use Garrosh to convince Grom Hellscream to unite the Orc clans into becoming the first of Kairoz’s infinite army, but Garrosh’s backstabbing quickly ended that.

You return to the tower in Zangarra victorious.  Khadgar has tapped into Kairoz’s remaining essence and expanded his power and uses the Apexis Crystals you gathered to upgrade your Solium ring into a more powerful incarnation: a Time Lost Solium ring!

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Chapter II: Gul’dan Strikes Back

Armed with the ability to tap into the very essence of Draenor, Archmage Khadgar now needs a means to penetrate the powerful fel magic that Gul’dan uses to shroud himself.  To do so means having to delve into what the Kirin Tor would consider ‘fringe arcane science’ at best.  The knowledge possessed by the ogres of the Gorian Empire would fall under such a category.  Khadgar says that the Sorcerer King of the Gorian Empire, High Imperator Mar’gok, has mastered the art of something called “Felbreaking.” A technique designed to surpress and nullify magic including the vile powers of fel magic.  This knowledge would prove invaluable.  The Archmage asks that you venture deep into the ogre capital of Highmaul and retrieve a Fel Breaker’s Tome as well as the magical sigil of the Sorcerer King himself to help in learning the practices contained in the tome.  Khadgar also recommends picking up Abrogator Stones as you penetrate the ogre city.  These ancient and powerful magical stones that have been passed down through the generations of ogre mages would be a useful fuel to empowering your ring even further – a fair exchange for overthrowing an empire.

Once you have brought an end to the Gorian Empire and retrieved the requested items for Khadgar, the wizard will attempt once more to scry Gul’dan’s location.  Utilizing the fel breaking techniques to tear through the warlock’s veil, Khadgar finally makes contact with the orc.  The victory is short lived however as it seems that Gul’dan has been inquiring about the human mage he witnessed in the escape from Tanaan Jungle.  Gul’dan mentions Khadgar by name and mentions that it would appear that they have quite the history with each other.  This means that the warlock is now aware of the transgressions of the original timeline of your native Azeroth, where Khadgar killing his master, Medivh the Last Guardian of Tirisfal, shattered the mental link that the Guardian shared with Gul’dan and plunged the warlock into a coma that cost him and his Shadow Council control of the Horde.  Khadgar happily announces that they’ve located Gul’dan to which the old orc replies in jest that likewise he has found the Archmage.

Just then a figure draws out from the shadows and before Cordana has a chance to act an orc assassin stabs Khadgar with a poisoned blade. The assassin flees into the marshy lower levels of Zangarra and Cordana orders you to track her down.  You climb down the rocks into the swamp like valley and begin to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse before finally chasing the assassin to a cave and battling it out until either you perish from the poison in your blood or the assassin is captured. You return to the tower with the assassin – Garona Halforcen – in tow where you find Khadgar being kept stable by Jaina Proudmoore, the current leader of Dalaran’s Council of Six. You use the poison to quickly form an anti-venom to help aid in Khadgar’s healing and as the Archmage wakes, Jaina helps him up.  However, if you are a member of the Horde, Jaina will chastise Khadgar for allying himself with you and the Council does not approve of this choice either.  Khadgar will simply shrug it off and say that he needs all the help he can get on Draenor and it won’t be the first time he disappointed the Council.  However before Jaina departs, Khadgar makes one request that she helps transfer the power of the Abrogator Stones you gathered into your ring since he has been weakened by the ordeal.  The process turns your ring into a Spellbound Solium Ring.  Jaina wishes Alliance members well with their newfound power and threatens that she will be keeping her eye on you if you are a member of the Horde.

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Chapter III: The Foundry Falls

Now that he has healed, Khadgar is willing to admit that it was perhaps foolish to go after Gul’dan with magic alone.  Fortunately, an opportunity has arisen with Garona, the assassin you captured.  If he can find some means to break the magical hold that the warlock has on Garona’s mind, she might be able to assist bring down her master.  Khadgar has a plan but to enact it he must ask you to venture into the very heart of the Iron Horde’s war machine: The Blackrock Foundry.  There he will need you to pry out the heart of a primal elemental fury that fuels the massive furnaces below the foundry, steal a Flamebender’s Tome that describes the secret techniques that the Blackrock Clan uses to channel and control the powerful elemental forces of Draenor, and lastly to reclaim a magical Thaumaturgical Orb that was stolen from the Draenei during the Iron Horde’s siege of Karabor.

Once you’ve collected the three components, Khadgar will begin to pour over the Flamebender’s Tome that speaks of a ritual to the elements that required a sacrifice from the chieftan of a clan.  This causes the wizard to ponder on what Blackhand must of sacrificed to gain such knowledge and deduces that it must be his eponymous hand.  Khadgar asks you to break into the core of the foundry and kill the Warlord of the Blackrock Clan, then bring back his arm to utilize as a focus for the ritual to free Garona.

Meanwhile, Khadgar also has a plan to further enhance your ring by utilizing the knowledge sealed in three distinct Elemental Tablets that pre-date written history itself that hold the methods of tapping into the primal power of the planet itself.  However, the tablets will likely have shattered throughout time and thus will require you to find all the pieces scattered throughout the foundry to reassemble them.  Once you do, he performs a ritual to infuse the ring with Draenor’s elemental power.  However in doing so – he accidentally kills you.  While you are dead, you witness a vision of Gul’dan speaking to Grommash Hellscream.  The warlock taunts the warlord by telling him that the Iron Horde is collapsing under the assaults of the outsiders (that would be you) and even the foundry has now fallen.  He tells Grom to drink from the demon’s blood and that it will be the only way to guarantee success for Hellscream’s Iron Horde.  Grommash angrily declines and yells at Gul’dan to leave his sight just before Khadgar resurrects you with a pair of goblin jumper cables much to Cordana’s surprise that they actually worked.

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Chapter IV: Darkness Incarnate

With everything gathered from the Blackrock Foundry, Khadgar attempts to break Gul’dan’s hold on Garona by torturing her until she gives up the information on where Gul’dan is hiding.  In the wakes of the orcs screams, Cordana stops Khadgar horrified by what depths the wizard is willing to sink to and that he is losing himself in pursuit of the mission.  The Archmage relents, agreeing with Cordana that what is the point if they are willing to become just as vile as the warlock himself to accomplish their goals.  He however does have another suggestion: an Orb of Domination.  A relic used by the Shadow Council to ensnare minds into serving and joining their cause.  The old mage suggests that he may be able to reverse engineer the Orb and use it free Garona.  He directs you to a cavern below a Draenei village where the Shadow Counil has been using a orb to brainwash people and to bring the orb back to him.  Cordana is against this idea vehemently since using the orb would be tapping into the dark powers that they sought to stop in the first place, but the orb does its job and rips out Garona’s inner demons for you to battle and ultimately break the warlock’s hold on her.  In thanks, the assassin pledges herself to you and Khadgar while Cordana takes the Orb of Domination away to see it destroyed.

Garona leads you to Bladefury’s Command in northern Talador where Gul’dan was headed to a meeting with the Warlords of the Iron Horde.  You sneak in past the guards to discover what the warlock is up to.  There you witness Gul’dan overthrow the Iron Horde by subduing Grommash and convincing the other warlords of his ineffective leadership by bringing up the countless loses including that of Hellscream’s own son – Garrosh.  Turned by the warlock’s arguments, Kilrog Deadeye steps forth to embrace his foreseen fate and drink of the demon blood, his body twisting and breaking to reform into the first of a new Fel Horde.  Shocked by this news, Khadgar is terrified that history may repeat itself and Azeroth is now more in danger of the Iron Horde than before.  He asks you to use your resources as a General of your faction’s forces to build a shipyard to assault Tanaan Jungle from the sea while your allies assault the gates at the Iron Front.  Garona also agrees herself to your growing army and becomes a legendary follower.

With a foothold established in Tanaan and you and your allies primed to storm the gates of Hellfire Citadel itself, Khadgar suggests a two pronged attack.  First he wishes for you to rip the Tomes of Chaos, the foul books bound with tortured souls that are used to train new warlocks, out of the hands of Gul’dan’s followers.  He also wants you to use your shipyard to chase down Gul’dan’s flagship – ‘The Master’s Call’ – that has been scouring the seas of Draenor and charting the arcane leylines of the world.  That chart must not reach Gul’dan’s hands and could prove useful to the Archmage in bringing your ring to its apex of power.

Once you’ve collected all the tomes full of their disgusting pictures, Khadgar asks you to take them back to Cordana for proper disposal.  However when you arrive back at the tower in Zangarra, you find Cordana intently staring into the Orb of Domination which she apparently did not destroy.  She quickly dodges any question you ask about why she has the orb. She takes the books from you and begins to place them around the room to prepare to destroy them, but instead the erupt into a ritual circle of fel flame.  As the green flame engulfs the room, Cordana demands that you hand over your ring and that she needs it.  You decline with a choice of saying “No.” or “OH HELL NO.” and she declares that she will take it by force.  You fight with Cordana who unleashes both her Watcher training combined with the cinders of fel magics.  She screams that the Orb has shown her the truth: Khadgar is a just child who dabbles in forbidden powers too great for him to control. Gul’dan however has true mastery of these dark arts.  As you weaken her she breaks off the battle and states that nothing will stop Gul’dan and the Burning Legion from burning this world, Azeroth and every other world to the ground.  She opens a portal and walks into it saying that your leaders will ultimately betray you and that the Legion will be victorious.  When you return to Khadgar, he bursts into a rage against Gul’dan and his trickery before quieting and staring off at the horizon to mourn the loss of his bodyguard and friend to the darkness.

Now that the books have been dealt with and you have retrieved the ley line chart, Khadgar can identify three primary points of leyline connections: His tower in Zangarra which he knew since that is why he built it there, the Throne of Elements in Nagrand, and the Temple of Karabor in Shadowmoon Valley.  He says with this knowledge he should be able to bring your ring to its maximum potential and create something truly legendary.  The wizard is a bit apprehensive however after killing you the last time he tried to do this (which he apologizes for again) he will need some assistance.  Luckily, you have made powerful allies in your time on Draenor, and you head off to one of the leyline sites to perform the final ritual.  Members of the Alliance will travel to meet with Yrel and the rest of the Council of the Exarchs and the Naaru K’ara where they work with Khadgar to infuse your ring with the blessing of The Light and awaken it to its true potential.  For the Horde, you will find that the Frostwolf Clan (including the spirit of Ga’nar) has come out in mass to the Throne of the Elements to watch their shaman Drek’thar call upon the Primordial Elemental Furies to beseech them to give your ring their blessings.  With its power fully awakened, your ring has become a power unequaled on Draenor.  Khadgar only hopes it will be enough to stop Gul’dan.

With your ring firmly fastened on your finger, you assault the Black Gate and stop Gul’dan by defeating Archimonde the Defiler and sending the demon general back to the Twisting Nether, but not before Gul’dan manages to escape by being hurled through the very Black Gate that Archimonde had emerged from. No one is sure of where the warlock had escaped to, but Khadgar picks up the old orc’s fel charred walking cane and utters that he knows that this is not over.  He invites you to enjoy your victory celebration with your allies, but he must depart back to Azeroth to prepare for whatever will come next.

He hopes that you will be present and ready for when the call goes out for heroes once more.

Leave No Witnesses: The Lost Isles SI:7 Mystery

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If you’ve ever rolled a Goblin in the World of Warcraft and played through their starting area where Deathwing descends to erupt Mount Kezan after getting hit with a football (Or at least that is my interpretation of events) you’ll get a cutscene after boarding the ship to get the heck off the island where the goblin ship stumbles upon a fierce naval battle between the Horde and the Alliance.  Strangely enough its the Alliance who turns cannons on you first and blows the goblin shipped pack with you in the prison hold below due to being tricked into being sold as a slave.  Now of course this is a good reason for the goblins to want to join the Horde right?  That the Alliance are a bunch of jerks and the Gobbies were just sooooo innocent.  Of course the goblins had no way of knowing that it was the Alliance that shot them from below deck and even more interesting to me is the comment that the Alliance commander makes before they fire on you – No witnesses.  They want no witnesses to what they’re doing.

Why?

It’s no strange concept to anyone on Azeroth that the Horde and the Alliance have been at each others throats since the Wrathgate broke whatever hope there was for the vulnerable peace that was forged in the wake of the Third War and the Legion’s attack on the World Tree Nordrassil. So what were the Alliance doing that was so suspicious that they didn’t want any witnesses to their actions?  Well, we do get a few clues as we continue our quest to find a new home on the Lost Isles.  One is that the ship that attacked us was carrying a very important prisoner: Goel the World Shaman, Former Warchief Thrall or Green Jesus depending on how you want to view him. Thrall was on his way to the Maelstrom to help the rest of the Earthen Circle protect the churning hole in the center of the ocean from imploding the planet after Deathwing, that Old God driven mad dragon aspect of being a nuisance, destroyed the World Pillar in the Plane of Earth that held things together.  And wow wee does this sound like Chris Metzen’s D&D campaign notes when I write it all out like that.  I should steal some of this for my own campaign.

Back on topic, we also learn that the ship is being crewed and overseen by the SI:7, the Alliance’s black ops secret forces. Which would make sense if you wanted someone to go on a secret mission to capture the former warchief of the Horde and the current holder of the title ‘World Shaman’ that was made up just for him.  The real question comes in the form of WHY the SI:7 and in turn the Alliance would want to capture Thrall.  The Alliance leadership KNOWS he has stepped down from his position with the Horde and left Garrosh Hellscream to lead to rabble.  They KNOW that Thrall is on a diplomatic mission to aid the Earthen Circle to help stop the world – that place that they too live – from shaking itself apart. So why try and stop him?

I think the answer strangely enough comes 80 levels or so later on the opposite faction.  When doing the quest chain for the Alliance to head into the Twilight Highlands, you find yourself investigate some strange activity around Stormwind with the young Prince Anduin who has begun to take a more active interest in his people’s welfare.  Throughout the questline you make something of a disturbing discovery that the current head of SI:7, the man standing to the right hand side of the King himself, is a member of the Twilight’s Hammer – a cult devoted to the Elementals and Old Gods that seeks to bring about the End of the World.  You ultimate stop him and prevent an assassination plot on King Wrynn but this plot element may in fact be the missing piece to solving the question of the Goblin starter zone all the way back at the start of the game.

Allow me to speculate.  The SI:7, a powerful organization with little oversight that carries out secret missions for the safety of the Alliance and headed by a man who is secretly in a cult that wants to bring about the apocalypse, attacks and kidnaps the former leader of the Orcs who just so happens to be on a mission of peace to help stop the apocalypse.  They attack the Horde ships hoping to sink them and chock the whole thing up to inter-faction conflict while they secure their prisoner and inadvertently aid Deathwing in bringing about the Hour of Twilight (ie said apocalypse.) However, a group of goblins accidentally happens on the scene and knowing if the word got out that this was more than just two groups that hated each other attacking each other got out – especially by the hands of goblins who are by nature greedy, not above blackmail, and have had dealings with both factions previously –  well, you’d probably want to make sure that your secret activities of abusing your authority to help further the goals of an insane dragon would remain hush hush and thus give a simple order: No witnesses.

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I submit for your approval that the leader of the SI:7 ordered those ships to destroy any witnesses because they actively sought out Thrall’s ship and Thrall himself to stop him from ever reaching the Maelstrom.  Does my idea seem far fetched?  Perhaps, but remember this is the same expansion that required you to play an Undead to level 20 to find out what happened to the rest of the Worgen starting zone story as well. Or the truth behind the Tragedy of Camp Taurajo that required playing both the Alliance and Horde side of the story AND had additional information in the Jaina novel about what happened. The Cataclysm expansion is full of weird intersects in the story.  So is it that hard to believe that they planned this?  I would argue that no, it’s not.  In fact all the pieces fit together a bit too well for this to just be a coincidence in story telling.

Because I will say this: I don’t have a ton of love for the content of the Catalcysm expansion, but damn did it have some great story moments in there.

Looking Back at Warlords of Draenor

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Well, with Legion just around the corner and the movie all abuzz across the internets (Good and bad), I figured it was time to take a look back at the latest expansion of the World of Warcraft and share my thoughts on what it did right and what it did wrong.

Garrisons:  Garrisons were one of those features I was dreading being utterly disappointed in. The whole idea had been trimmed, cut down, slashed and burned from the original pitch way back at Blizzcon.  From a customizable fortress that could be established in any zone and would have room for trophies and what not to… well, what we ended up getting. A static spot in your faction’s starting zone with the only customization being from a fairly limited number of building types into certain spots, the ability to change the race of the guards and a couple of the flags, and the trophies really just being spots for your pristine archaeology finds and “monuments” that are unlocked by doing super specific expansion long goals.  It was a shadow of the cool feature that we were told about.  And yet, I still love my garrison.  Granted, I love my Alliance garrison more than my snowpile in Frostfire.  But I do actually love my garrison.  I love being the commander of my own forces, ordering them out to complete tasks and then seeing them off as they march around.  I like seeing my followers and other characters I’ve met on my journey wandering around.  I enjoy setting my music and saluting my gnome guards.  I like building it up and fortifying my base.  I even liked defending it from attackers the few times I was able to get it to happen.  So much so that I actually kind of hope that my garrison hearthstone sticks around with me after the expansion is over so I can go back and visit my little corner of the world.

Past & Present Collide:  One of the more interesting things I liked in the expansion was to see where the things in Outland came from. I am still stumbling upon connections and putting together things when I’m out doing stuff.  It was only just recently that it hit me that the Podlings would eventually become the Sporelings of Zangarmarsh.  Or what was in this area before the world got ripped up.  The only real sad part to this was the fact that Farahlon was passed over and forgotten along with several other smaller islands that are clearly shown on the map but never added in game.

The Story:  Oh, the story.  What a mangled tale it did weave.  So much excitement, so many threats, and all of it – entirely – was for absolutely nothing.  Seriously, what were the lasting repercussions of this plotline? Garrosh is dead. Maraad is dead.  Gul’dan was thrown into the Nether so he can reach other universes.  Those are the three things that were actually accomplished in terms of the overall narrative of Warcraft.  Everything else? Those epic battles? Those heart warming reunions and soul crushing sacrifices?  All take place in an Alternate Universe that has zero effect on anything once we go home.  Talk about a dissapointment.  Heck, the Iron Horde never posed any risk after 30 minutes in Tanaan Jungle.  You blow up the Dark Portal in the intro mission. The Iron Horde now has zero threat to the real world from their weirdo elseworld. But now we’re stuck right? Nope. We can just open a mage portal across dimensions back home. lol.  WHY ARE WE BOTHERING TRYING TO SAVE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE DRAENOR? Nothing that happens can affect us beyond people from our universe dying (which they do).

How about this instead – it IS our Draenor.  The Timewalkers and the Bronze Dragons have temporarily locked it off in time so that we – the heroes – can go back, track down Garrosh and his accomplice and set things right before it has a chance to permanently destroy our universe.  Then there is an actual risk to us failing to stop the Iron Horde.  There’s a reason for us staying once you broke the Dark Portal and stopped the Invasion.  Heck, it doesn’t even have to end up being the same.  As long as the important plot pieces remain (Nerzhul becomes the Lich King, Gromm lives long enough to free the Orcs from the Blood Curse, Thrall ends up being raised by humans) you could pull a comic style reboot and brought the Movie plotline into canon with the games.  Maybe not flawlessly, but that would have at least been something. Instead we are left with a lackluster resolution with minimal lasting effects.  This whole expansion should have been a novel.

The Ending:  Speaking of lackluster…  WHY DOES GROMM GET OFF SCOTT FREE?  After using the Iron Horde to complete destroy Draenor, wage war on the Draenei and other citizens of the world, and murder and pillage as they see fit – he suddenly gets welcomed with open arms by those he and his chieftans have wronged just because Gul’dan is the bigger asshole?  I hate to go Godwin on this, but that’s kind of like the Allies welcoming Hitler into their ranks, saying let bygones be bygones, all because some space aliens attacked in the last few years of World War II. You don’t get a Get Out of Jail Free card just because there is someone worse than you.  And yet, here we are.  With that being the exact note the expansion ends on.  Gromm is the big damn hero that will help rebuild Draenor with the Draenei and there will be peace and butterflies.  I don’t even have words for how BAD that ending was.  Oh, but at least Gromm didn’t killsteal Archimonde. That makes it alright then, right?  God that ending pissed me off and the fact that more people weren’t pissed off also pisses me off.  You could have at least made it Durotan that extends the hand of peace!  He was willing to join forces to fight the Iron Horde.  All frickin’ Gromm did was get tied to a rock for not drinking EctoCooler.

The Legendary Ring:  Weirdly enough, the Ring quest actually did feel Legendary. Even though the whole thing didn’t even result in an item that you will ever be able to display to others.  The story behind the Ring was really what made it strong.  Joining Khadgar in his elaborate chess game with Gul’dan.  Khadgar who is old enough to actually be aware of the threat that Gul’dan poses (Having encounter him through Gul’dan’s dealing with Medivh in the First War and using the Skull of Gul’dan to close the Dark Portal in the Second War).  Khadgar dances back and forth on his morality quite a bit – stooping to torture, dealing in dark magic, and ultimately getting his bodyguard and confidante to be swayed over by Gul’Dan’s power.  It’s clear that this was the intended ‘real story’ behind the expansion given what we know about Gul’dan’s eventual take over of the Iron Horde and being thrown across realities to help instigate Legion.  A shame that once the expansion comes out, no one will ever be able to see it as they are burying the questline.

Getting Out in the World:  When Blizzard first spoke about the leveling experience of Draenor being less questing and more Timeless Isle, I was filled with dread.  That didn’t sound fun at all.  Racing with others to grab spawns and fighting for kills to grind.  Luckily, the traditional questing method did make it in but traces of the Timeless Isle are felt everyone. From the treasures to the rare mobs to the tedious rep grinding of 2 rep per mob, it was everywhere.  Luckily, there were improvements made.  The Rares spawned pretty quickly outside of the endgame areas, the chests were all account specific so you never had to fight for them, and it was kind of fun seeking things out.  However I did miss my dailies (Shut up, I like them) and was glad to see them return in Tanaan along with the option of grinding for the Saberstalkers.  However, I guess this just didn’t get that many people out in the world since all I’ve heard from the general player base was “We just sit in our garrisons”.

The Flying Achievement:  I liked it.  I liked the idea of once you have mastered the outdoor PvE elements of the expansion that you unlocked flying account wide.  So all of your alts will have it as soon as they enter Draenor.  I like that a lot better than paying 2000 gold per character at least.  Plus as an achievement fan, it gives me something big to work toward.

I guess what it boils down to was the fact that while the gameplay in Warlords of Draenor really succeeded for me, the story felt like it was a complete after thought and didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved.  The whole expansion kind of felt like just something to tide players over and test out some new ideas while Legion was being worked on. I came in without a ton of excitement, but I found some fun and a lot of angry ranting.  Which is… good?  I dunno. Certainly looking forward to Legion though.

 

Welcome to the TRUE Horde! Garrosh Hellscream Plays Democracy 3

“I’m going to make my OWN Horde. With blackjack. And hookers.” – Garrosh Hellscream, probably.

No Campfire can best him, no Shadow Hunter troll can dissuade him, this time Garrosh Hellscream is out to prove he is the one true Warchief the Horde needs AND deserves…  by emulating it in Democracy 3.

To find out more about the 2010 Warchief Election at https://oddcraft.wordpress.com/category/other-stuff/warchief-election-2010/

Odditorial: On the Perceived Permanence of Lore

darth_vader_noooo1

If there’s one thing we nerds enjoy, it’s canon.  Is this canonical? Is that?  Is my OTP canonical?  How does X fit into the canon?  One need not look any further than the reaction to the announcement that the Star Wars Expanded Universe being retired into the Legends label to see how much a concise and clearly stated canon can matter to people.  So there gets to be this mindset among fans of just about anything that whatever is stated to be canon is something akin to a holy text that must be viewed as complete and immutable from whatever state a fan finds it in.  And that last bit is important because what eventually sets the bar as ‘betraying’, ‘contradicting’ or ‘ignoring’ canon depends a great deal on exactly what state the canon was in when and how you first were exposed to it.

After all, while the Green Lantern Corps was introduced in 1959, the concept of the Emotional Spectrum and the other Lantern Corps like the Red Lanterns, or the Sinestro Corps, didn’t come into being until 2006, despite it beings established that these things were in existence all along but the Green Lanterns may not have been aware of them.  If you were a fan before Geoff Johns’ new interpretation of the Green Lantern universe, you might find this idea a bit on the heretical side.  After all, how could the Guardians not know/expose this info?  How come it took decades of issues before it was revealed that Parralax was a big space bug that was sealed away and they knew about it but kinda didn’t want to bring it up?  On the same hand, if you came after that or say first got interested in Green Lantern due to the Green Lantern Animated Series – then the Emotional Spectrum and the other Lanterns are just part of the universe to you. Easy peasy.

Already we can see that time and method can dictate the view of what is considered to be canon and what isn’t.  Will new Star Wars fans a decade from now when the JJ Abrams Trilogy comes to a close even think that the Legends novels were anything more than interesting What-If stories?  That the Yuuzhan Vong are nothing more than glorified fanfiction characters?  Perhaps.  But aside from fan-interpretation and viewpoints of canon, what about when canon is changed by the ones who created it?

If you want a good example of fans getting upset at a ‘violation’ of canon by the ones who write the story themselves, look no further than our good friends at Blizzard Entertainment.   Almost every expansion is met with cries of ‘That’s not what this character would do’, ‘Blizzard doesn’t care about their own canon’ or ‘This violates their own lore’, etc.  I’ve played World of Warcraft since 2006 off and on, and I’ve seen these complaints so many times I’ve lost count.  But it always comes back to this idea that what WAS should be preserved in a little box, and left to the point where it is never changed or influenced.  Heck, I remember people complaining about the difference in characterization between Warcraft III and Vanilla WoW, almost like there was some sort of inexplicable 5 year jump mentioned in first few seconds of the opening cut scene.  These characters change, the situation changes, and the world moves forward.  The Forsaken were pretty much born out of Sylvanas’ quest for revenge against the Lich King.  You can’t very well expect them to stay the same after their sworn mortal enemy is dead.

There’s also the issue of the fact that since WE are aware of all the details of the story and lore, we often will forget that the characters don’t.  A character may not know the truth of all the details, or even heard the news if its something that happened on the completely other side of the planet and thus will act according to what they know and not what WE know.  The concept of ‘metagaming’ can extend to fiction too, ya know.  So while things sometimes look like a violation of canon, it can honestly sometimes just be a matter of ‘the characters wouldn’t know that’.  Back to World of Warcraft for example, it’s stated in some places that the Eredar corrupted the Titan Sargeras into turning evil, it’s later revealed upon meeting the Draenei – an exiled faction of the Eredar – that it was actually the reverse. Sargeras had corrupted the Eredar.  Is this a retcon? Yes, but does it break canon? No.  No one who originally told the tales of Sargeras & the Eredar would have been in the position to know the facts of the tale.  They are legends and fables, passed down for generations.  Now when they meet the Draenei?  Well, heck, Velen was THERE.  He knows.  Now he’s explaining it.  Now you have the myth, and the fact.  That’s developing canon, not violating it.

Wanting a canon to stay rigid, to have nothing new enter or depart the scene and for characters to stay the same as when we first fell in love with them just is flat out bad for storytelling.  Is BioWare futzing with their own lore with TOR?  Yes.  Yes they are.  The story is moving forward, a new enemy is appearing from beyond the borders of the galaxy and using a vastly different technique of force wielding to pursue a mission of galactic conquest.  Honestly, from a personal standpoint, it’s not nearly as conflicting as say KOTOR to KOTOR2 when in the space of 5 years the entire Jedi Order was completely wiped out leaving only a few stragglers like the Exile around.  No wonder they decided to set SWTOR 295 years later. Yeesh.

Now I’m not saying there aren’t ways you can mess up canon.  Even Blizzard has admitted to messing up with mixing up established facts and they have employees devoted to entire task of keeping this stuff straight.  But there’s a difference between ‘This never before explained thing has appeared and is attacking’ or ‘This ancient prophecy we just uncovered is coming true!’ and things like ‘Superman was never from Krypton, he’s from Snorglack-VII and always has been. Ignore what we said earlier.’  (And heck there are even acceptable ways to do that with continuity reboots, and elaborate explanations, that might reek of B.S. aren’t technically violating canon.)  There are times when you just screw up and forget that you’ve already established some detail, and there are times you introduce retcons that will devastatingly run in contrast to how a character is viewed (Did you Batman ALWAYS hated rock music because his Dad told him it was bad the night they died?) but there is also just the idea that you are expanding the story and the universe.

As fans we sometimes have the tendency to get a bit zealous with our devotion to what we know.  We like the permanence of the whole thing.  It feels good.  But that’s not necessarily what’s best for the story.  For a story to grow, canon must be altered and expanded.  Maybe there were 9 planets, but due to later revelations there are now 8 (or like 25).  Canon must always be somewhat flexible in order for things to move forward.  And I think we as fans need to be flexible with it.

Thanks for reading.

A Farewell to WoW Insider

So, apparently WoW Insider is no longer a thing. Shut down by AOL along with Massively and several other gaming blog sites.  While this blog has long since stopped being exclusively a World of Warcraft blog, WoW Insider was still a daily visit for me to keep up on the going on’s and the various fun in the form of articles like The Queue or the Tin Foil Hat editions that reveled in speculation about the game’s lore.  It was also where this blog’s predecessor OddCraft got its first big break, being shared along with other bloggers in a series of posts about the various other blogs in the community.  Now it never got me a boost to internet stardom, but it was pretty much the largest exposure I had ever gotten as a blogger at that point.  I’ll never forget that kindness.  To this day I still occasionally got hits from WoW Insider for the WoW Ironman Challenge.  So the legacy lived on far longer than my old blog did.

So this post is for all of the great people who worked at WoW Insider.  It was a great ride.  Thanks for years of enjoyable reading.

EDIT: Apparently, I spoke a bit too soon! Lots of the great folks who staffed WoW Insider have launched a new website called Blizzard Watch.  It’s supported by Patreon too, so if you wanna show your love there’s a way. I wish them all the best in this new site!

Vry Talks WoW: Warlords Trailer Released & Endboss Reveal!

Orcs!

Orcs orcs orcs ORCS orcs? Orcs orcs, orcs orcs… ORCS ORCS ORCS ORCS ORCS ORCS ORCS ORCS!  Orcs orcs orcs orcs orcs orcs?  Orcs!  Orcs Orcs Orcs.  Orcs orcs.  Orcs, orcs orcs orcs orcs orcs orcs orcs? Orcs orcs.  Orcs orcs.  Orcs orcs orcs orcs, orcs orcs orcs.  Orcs orcs Hellscream orcs.  Hellscream orcs orc orcs.  Orcs orc ork ork orcs.  Orcs orc orcs orc goblins?  ORCS!

Orc Orc Orcs

Orcs orc orc ork orcs. Orc orc orcs?  O-R-C-S.  Orcs orcs orky orcs! Orcs orc Garrosh? ORC.  Orc orky orcs Grom! Orc orc orcs orca orc orky orky GUL-ORCING-DAN?  Orcs orc orc orc orcs orc orcs ork.  Orcs orc ork orcs Hellscream orc Bladefist? ORC!  Orks orcs orc orc Mork ork?  Orcs orcs…  orcs orc orc orcs…  orcs, ORCS, HELLSCREAM!

Hellscream Hellscream? Orc!

Grom orc, Garrosh orc, orc orc orcs pork. Orc orcs orc orc.  Orcs, orc orc orcs orc ork. Thrall orc? Kek. Orc orcs orca orcs ork ork. Zug zug.

Kek.

Vry versus The World (Of Warcraft)

draenor

Believe it or not, enthusiasm comes fairly easy to me.  A well cut together trailer will do the trick without incident.  Some good news or an awesome character design can spur my wheels to pre-order.  Heck, one glance at the Crusader on the character creation screen and a mere hour playing with Loot 2.0 not only had me dropping cash to pre-order Reaper of Souls but also nab the digital deluxe edition while I was at it.  I am exceptionally easy to please, and like to think I maintain a level of optimism and excitement for things I enjoy.

That being said, let’s talk a moment about Warlords of Draenor, the upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft.

I have never felt this lack of excitement for a WoW expansion.  NEVER.  Even expansions that seemed dubiously “not up my alley” like Cataclysm was able to get my smile on with stuff like the remade old world.  But Warlords?  Man oh man and I struggling to find something to get happy about.  There’s Garrisons I suppose.  Player housing has always been a dream of mine, and then combining it with a potentially more elaborate (or just as likely identical I suppose) version of SWTOR’s crew skills (which I liked). That’s something right?  There’s also new models.  They are very cute.  Puff the Death Gnome will be adorable, I just know it.

But then I hear things like “plan is no flying at ship and see how it plays out” or the big proud emphasis on NO dailies whatsoever with everything being based around a Timeless Isle like system of dynamic events.  Man, you just took all that Garrison happy and beat it into the ground with a Gronn sized club. No amount of gnome cute can help that.  Maybe a kitten?

Even a free level 90 doesn’t seem that tempting to me, even with all my alts.  It’s clearly not an offer designed for me, and I recognize that.  But likewise it feels like this entire expansion is pretty much one giant bag of nope for Vry.  Flying? Gone, potentially for the whole expansion.  Dailies? Gone. There goes my favorite way of experiencing the world.  Timeless Isle random events are so short lived that there’s no time to join in if you aren’t constantly camping or getting lucky.  At least in Guild Wars 2, the events seemed to be spaced out with spawns and objectives or multistaged, and  had a teleportation transit system that gets me most places in a blink of an eye.  Warlords seems to be more so “Events will die quick, so always be ready, and if you aren’t within 1 minute of it via ground mount, just forget it.”  I hope that isn’t true, but I haven’t seen anything to support otherwise.

I honestly don’t care much about the whole Proving Grounds Silver to do the dungeon finder,  despite that the fact that it still reeks of pointless exclusionary tactics, because you would supposedly be able to gear up for LFR in normals, and I don’t do anything BUT LFR anymore in terms of raiding, because I got sick of watching guilds implode and explode because of raiding.

So what am I trying to say?  That my long drawn out love affair with WoW is over?  Well, maybe not that extreme.  I might pick up Warlords on a black friday sale or something and give it a whirl, then level up my main-ish-es. But really, yea.  This will likely be the first expansion launch I’m not going to be there for.  I’ve found other MMOs that I have fun with, and WoW seems to be going in a direction that quite honestly isn’t fun for me.  If others find it fun, more power to you.  But I’m gonna sit this one out it seems.  Maybe just maybe I’ll get lucky and the next expansion will have gnome lore. Till then, expect more focus on stuff like The Old Republic, Final Fantasy, and more Lets Plays. Sorry devoted WoW playing readers, but you know regardless if I’m playing or not I’ll still be weighing in on any big news that goes down.

(Okay, honestly. I think we can trace all of WoW’s problems to Basic Campfire NOT getting to be Warchief. Don’t you?)

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