An Empty Heart

I’ve known a simple fact about MMO programmers for awhile now. They don’t understand why people have more than one toon to play in the first place. In their eyes, you play your one character and you only play that one character. You are, after all, only one person. One player.

As if any of us is really only one thing all the time.

They may understand a player wanting to be self-sufficient in gameplay, but it is their goal to keep you from being self-sufficient. They want you to trade with other characters directly or buy off the auction house. If you are a regular raider you will end up relying on your guildmates to help you because you will have no choice. The programmers and developers want it to be this way; and really, MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. There is no point in dealing with strangers in a game if you can do everything yourself. If you can generate the food, potions, gear, gems and enchants all on your own then there is no working economy in the MMO, and the game will eventually die from a lack of players.

Getting beyond the simple desire to provide what you need to play without having to spend precious gold to do it, there are other reasons to play alternate characters (alts) than wanting to be able to max out all your professions and flood the auction house with goods that other players will have to buy from you. Sometimes you just want to be someone else in the game. And that someone else has to be capable of playing at the level that your other character plays at in order to be of any use to your friends that you have to rely on.

…and that observation brings me to the subject of this post. In the last World of Warcraft expansion, Legion, they introduced a new type of gear that was permanently equipped. It was called an artifact, and in Legion the artifact item was your weapon. You got that weapon at the beginning of the expansion and carried it to the end of the expansion, upgrading it as you went along. The linear nature of the item and the requirement that it had to be uniquely upgraded for each character essentially kept players from leveling any alt characters that could rival their first/main toons in power and ability in-game, without spending the exact same amount of time working on each and every alt that you wanted to level.

When Blizzard introduced Battle for Azeroth (BfA) they destroyed the special powers of our artifact weapons, rendering them useless aside from the ability to transmogrify their unique appearances onto our new weapons (I especially like the blue and cinnamon bear models for druids) and they introduced the new artifact that we would be using for the entire BfA expansion, the Heart of Azeroth. That artifact has a similar leveling system to the one that was in the weapons in Legion, without all the unique appearances that made leveling up your artifact in Legion something that you enjoyed doing.

Since there is no player reward for leveling the artifact, there has been a lot of complaining about the limitations that the Heart of Azeroth and the azerite system imposes on players, and the additional work that goes into leveling each and every alt through the exact same grind that each player has done on their main toon.

I skipped most of Legion, so I didn’t spend a lot of time working on and gaining abilities with my artifact weapons before they took them away from us. I also didn’t notice that the azerite system in the Heart of Azeroth was really any different than the grinding that was required to level weapons in Legion. I do miss my alternate characters and I haven’t taken the time to level alts in any real shape or form since Mists of Pandaria ended. Since Warlords of Draenor bored me into playing different games for over a year.

So this is me, dusting off my keyboard for a little bit of reflection on the subject of artificial limitations and the programmers that think we can’t see them out there setting limits on us.

Back in the day, I wrote quite a few pieces on this subject. I wrote one on endgame materials scarcity in Wrath of the Lich King. In Cataclysm I mused on the quandary of Murglesnout and marveled at the amount of materials it took to make a single trinket for my inscriptionatrix. During those brief span of years I managed to get myself kicked off the forums multiple times by moderators intent on maintaining the illusion that the game was fun, fun, fun! all the time.

I last ventured onto the forum during the great #NoFlyNoBuy revolt, where I penned a piece titled Flight Has Always Been a Perk; An Example of Confirmation Bias. After the end of Warlords of Draenor, as Legion was being rolled out, I got fed up with the design philosophy of the developers at Blizzard and decided to take a year off of World of Warcraft.

When I came back to the game at the end of Legion, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t take the game seriously anymore. I deleted half my characters in order to prove to myself that I was serious about not taking the game seriously. If the developers at Blizzard decided not to put flight into the game, well, that was the game I was playing when I signed up. If they decided that you had to work three hours a day, every day, just to keep up in the game, well, that was the game I was playing. Admittedly, I don’t spend more than my subscription fee to stay in the game anymore, so my gifts to Blizzard for their content has dropped off a bit since I first subscribed back at the end of Burning Crusade.

This is me, trying not to take the fun things in life seriously. But still, I think it bears mentioning that I would have a lot more fun in the game if I just could play my alts at the same level that my main toon can play without having to spend months of additional work building their artifacts up to the level that my main is at.

This week Blizzard introduced what they are calling the Echoes of Ny’alotha system into Battle for Azeroth, making it possible for players to purchase the essences they have earned on their mains for the (empty) Heart of Azeroth on their alts. The most common response to players who rebel at being asked to spend even more time in-game grinding on content is,

What? Do you want free gear then?

Now that you mention it, yes. Free gear would be nice. I really don’t see why we are required to re-level alt gear through several layers of endgame content just to be able to play with our friends. But wanting free gear is beside the point here. Essences for the Heart of Azeroth artifact are not gear. The Heart of Azeroth does take up a gear slot on your character (your necklace) but it is not gear in the normal sense of gameplay anymore than the Legion weapons were gear in the normal sense. Most of us have been working on leveling the Heart of Azeroth for two years. It isn’t something you can just replace with a better piece of gear when it happens to drop in dungeons or raids or quests.

Essences serve the same purpose that relics served in Legion weapons. Unlike Legion relics, essences are assembled through specific actions by the player and are a permanent part of the Heart of Azeroth. In other words, essences are not gear that drops and you can equip or replace them as you desire. They are more like talents that you can select after you have enabled them. For as long as World of Warcraft is called Battle for Azeroth, the essences will be part of your Heart of Azeroth.

Essences are the key to being able to do your job in a raid setting, and some of us want to raid on more than one toon. Asking people to work through content they have already done, on toons they no longer want to play, to get essences they’ve already earned once, is insulting. Blizzard should just make the damn things account wide. The way they should have been treated from the beginning of BfA.

If there is one reason I don’t play alts in BfA, this is it. This was true for Legion as I mentioned previously. I can’t just get on an alt and play when I want to play an alt. I have to grind through lower level content, or even more of the same content I’m already playing, in order to play the alt and do the other thing I wanted to do with it if that other thing requires that I be competitive.

Blizzard insists that their new currency system allows essences to be account-wide. There still aren’t account-wide essences if I have to buy them after working to get them on one toon. I can’t believe that real people are applauding this new currency system. If I have a 120 toon, all the essences I’ve earned on other toons should be available to that toon. Like pets are, like toys are, like mounts are and, oh yeah, like heirloom gear is! those things really are account-wide. Why should I have to work to gain the things again at all? I’ve already done it once.

I have other games I’d rather be playing, will be playing. I don’t need to be given more work to do in game in order to be able to play the parts of the game I want to play. If I’m starting over, then I have other games I am neglecting that I probably should start instead.

Patch 8.3 Visions of N'Zoth

This is something I’ve never done before, set out to learn about the content of a patch before the patch drops. Today is patch day. When the servers go live after morning maintenance today (Tuesday January 14, 2019) World of Warcraft patch 8.3 Visions of N’Zoth will be the version of the game that we all will be playing.

If you are like me, you have no idea what is in that patch. Never fear, Wowhead is here. Wowhead.com: Patch 8.3 Visions of N’Zoth Battle for Azeroth (BFA) Content Overview. I’ve been relying on Wowhead for about a decade now. I’ve been a contributor for about that long as well, which means I upload my data to Wowhead’s servers so that they can crunch all the numbers and tell us all where the things we want will be dropping most frequently. When I have a quick question that needs to be answered about World of Warcraft, Wowhead.com is where I go to get that general question answered. So what is in Patch 8.3?

Features of Patch 8.3 include the Mechagnomes and Vulpera as new Allied Races, a new raid Ny’alotha the Waking City, new world activities in Titan Assaults and Horrific Visions, heritage armor sets for Worgen and Goblins, and Auction House improvements!

Wowhead.com

The new raid will not be available until next Tuesday (January 21) but all the rest of the patch’s content will start being available to the player base when maintenance ends this afternoon, scheduled for 3:00 pm PST.


I had hoped to get back to this post before server time today. I had hoped that the patch had pre-loaded like most patches do for World of Warcraft. But, alas, the patch is loading now (7:30 pm) so I’m not raiding. The guild also isn’t raiding. They aren’t raiding because they are busily grinding on the new content trying to upgrade their new legendary cloaks.

Leveling the cloaks is important because leveling the cloak will allow you to equip more of the new corruption gear as it drops. This is the mechanic that insures that people cannot just buy into gear upgrades. They will have to play the game on their main toons in order to equip new gear.


I didn’t even have a main toon until the Legion expansion of the game. I played all my toons according to what mood I was in. If I was in a killing mood, I played Eieloris or one of my other Rogue toons. Stunning, pickpocketing and shanking players and NPC’s repeatedly. Nothing relieves the desire to strangle somebody more than garroting somebody. Or just strangulating somebody, a Death Knight talent. Death Knights were also for dark mood days.

If I was depressed and feeling like playing alone I would get on either my Warlocks if it was a dark depression, or on my hunters if it was just me wanting to be alone. These days I don’t play World of Warcraft if I don’t want to socialize, I play one of the dozens of mobile games that I have downloaded on my phone. So I’m down to one Warlock and no Hunters these days. I just don’t ever feel like playing them. Creavishop is the only Warlock I need since you can only have one Dark Lord at a time. He wants to rule the universe with an iron fist, like Sargeras and Gul’dan. An unquenchable lust for power marks Warlocks as a class.

My mains are both Druids. Tharthurm on Nordrassil and Tarashal on Muradin. I have alts but I rarely play any of them. I even have Druid alts for all the races that can be Druids in World of Warcraft, but I don’t play those much either. I picked Druid as my class because Druid is the most versatile class. They are most versatile because they can tank, heal or deal damage in equal measure given the demands of a fight or the vagaries of my moods. Like playing alts in previous expansions, roles in multiplayer battles are a matter of mood and current ability. Sometimes I’m just not up to tanking or healing.

Playing alts is something that Blizzard has chosen to punish us for doing. Working on an alt is discouraged through restricting key components of the gearing system to specific toons and not applying these components account wide. If you gain faction reputation on one toon in the game, only that toon has that reputation. In previous expansions this was mostly a minor annoyance, but in Battle for Azeroth it is a restriction on leveling alts because enhancements for the Heart of Azeroth, the power item in this expansion like weapons were in Legion, are gotten through reputation gains and repetitive play of specific content. If you want to play an alt then you have to grind reputations on that alt, and then you have to grind content on the alt. This requires that you spend as much time gearing your alts as you spend gearing your main. This makes alts only playable when you really don’t have anything else to do in game, and I have plenty to do just trying to keep my two mains (one for each faction) up to speed.

I haven’t even leveled Creavishop‘s enchanting skills to max. He’s not feeling like much of a Dark Lord these days. I could play more, but I already spend between six and twelve hours a week raiding on two toons. If I need to play more than that to keep my other toons maxxed out, Blizzard should pay me to play the game, not the other way ’round.


The patch took an hour to download. I really wish I had seen the prompt to download in advance. Downloading in advance always makes patch days easier to deal with. Horrific visions appear to be dominating my immediate gaming future, because they are key to leveling the legendary cloak that you get from Prince Wrathion. Before I can get the cloak I will have to get through the quest chains introducing the new assault areas for Visions of N’Zoth. You are given the first breadcrumb quest when you log on after installing the patch.

After being reintroduced to Prince Wrathion, following Magni back to the Chamber of Heart, and working through the dialogs, you are sent to Uldum. At least it’s close to Silithus and the Chamber of Heart. I would have preferred the area to have been Ulduar. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in that raid when it was new because I wasn’t quite up to raiding level before it was superseded by the next raid in Wrath of the Lich King. Uldum I remember quite well.

They’ve updated the areas where the assaults take place. Uldum looks pretty much the same as before. The other area that is part of the assault mechanic is the Eternal Vale in Pandaria. I really liked that area before Garrosh defiled it at the end of the Pandaria expansion. It will be nice to see it again the way it was originally, or at least repaired.


My progress in the content has been achingly slow. I’ve had little spare time to play. This, for once, might have been a good thing. Google’s news feed put this story at the top of the feed yesterday.

massivelyop.com

In it is a video from BellularGaming describing the current work arounds for problems in the game that he brought up in UH BLIZZ… How’d 8.3 Launch In This State?

BellularGamingUH BLIZZ… How’d 8.3 Launch In This State? – Jan 16, 2020

What are the work arounds? Not playing parts of the game before Blizzard patches the errors that went out with the first patch. Good. I think I have that procedure covered. Mastered it, even.


So I’ve finally gotten the cloak for my two Druids (1/24/20) I’m only two weeks late. Now it is time to level the things; because, like all legendary items in the last few expansions, just having the thing isn’t good enough. You have to work to level it as well. I’m reading up on how that is done. I still don’t think a user’s manual should be required to figure out how to play a game. But, I want to do this right. So I’m studying the problem. The confusion stems from that less-than-polished programming mentioned previously.

Horrific Visions

This is the first point of confusion. They named two completely different activities in the game with identical names. You should not confuse the horrific visions that you do in Uldum and/or the Eternal Vale with the ones that occur in Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Wowhead separates them into lesser and greater visions so as to establish some clarity; but really, not naming different things by the same name would have been the way to avoid confusion. I spent a half-hour on the first quest in the chain just trying to figure out what the fuck I was supposed to be doing there.

It would have helped if I had read the quest text or even just taken the time to look at the quest tracker on the right of the screen (which probably showed I needed to drink a potion) under the minimap, but it was 5:00 am and I was just killing time waiting for the dishes to finish washing so I could start a second load of dishes and then stumble off to bed, so I fumbled around for thirty minutes and only managed to die. When I finally logged back on this evening the daily quest tied to the lesser horrific vision for this part of the week had changed to Preventative Measures which was not a mystery to complete, and that allowed me to complete the chain quest Descending Into Madness. I could then move on to opening the tenebrious gateway and starting the greater vision that allows completion of the quest Into the Darkest Depths.

Side note. The quests are shown to be given in Stormwind on the images for the quests on Wowhead. However, all of the quests that I am getting are given and turned in at the Chamber of Heart. It is also worth noting that most of the quest chains show you opening the tenebrious gateway with the quest Opening the Gateway before you get the quest Descending Into Madness. You have to do Descending before you can get the gateway quest in the current build of the game. Just one more minor confusion in a whole host of confusions in this patch. I would never have noticed that confusion had I not needed to consult Wowhead (and text fellow guildies who have already muddled through the quests) because the quest instructions given in the game are so vague as to mean just about anything.

Going into the tenebrious gateway can be done without consuming the Vessel of Horrific Visions. If you are like me you already have one, but you still have to buy a second one in order to complete the quest. Entering the gateway costs nothing, though. I’m told this is like the Mage Tower events that were a part of Legion.

I wouldn’t know. I skipped most of Legion in protest of the restrictions placed on flight in Warlords of Draenor and planned for Legion. It was only the fact that I missed my raiding guild family that brought me back to the game towards the end of Legion, long after the Mage Tower events were a thing that you spent time doing. I may have to go back and do some of them now. Depends on if I find a Legion artifact weapon appearance that I have to unlock there.

The Vessel of Horrific Visions is only consumed when you talk to Wrathion and go into Stormwind/Orgrimmar. I won’t be attempting a greater horrific vision (GHV) right now. Today I’m going to gather up as much Coalescing Visions as I can. You should do that every day that you can until you hit the maximum capacity that you can carry. Those will get you more Vessels of Horrific Visions which are the only way into the GHV, one of the limiting factors put in place to slow down leveling the legendary cloak.

SignsOfKelaniEverything You NEED TO KNOW About Horrific Visions – Jan 14, 2020

Do not listen to other players when they tell you to solo the first GHV. Get a wingman each time you go in, if you can. Especially the first one. When you get back from killing either corrupted Thrall or corrupted Alleria for the first time, be sure to do the the next few quests. You want to get the quest Accessing the Archives from Wrathion, which tells you to talk to MOTHER. Then talk to MOTHER and access the Titan Research Archive. Be sure to research the Sanity Restoration Orb at the Titan Research Archive before attempting to re-enter the GHV for the second time. You will likely run out of sanity before you can kill Thrall or Alleria unless you have the sanity restoration orb to restore your sanity during the encounter. Going with a buddy the first time ensures you have enough sanity (because they will likely already have done the first GHV, or at least will double the DPS) to successfully complete the horrific vision.

Once you have the Sanity Restoration Orbs available you can complete the the instance solo for the first 5 levels of your cloak, so long as you have sufficient health and damage (DPS) to kill the boss before they kill you. I could solo the instance as a balance druid using stealth to get to the boss, killing the two guards to open the room with the boss in it, then killing the boss before running out of sanity, but it was a very close race achieving this. With the orbs it was no sweat to restore my sanity while flasking, eating and pre-potting before the boss fight.

Getting the sixth level of the cloak requires you to go into a second area of the map for a quest item. The medium difficulty areas can be soloed now (March 10th, 2020) if you have the ability to do moderate damage and if you have selected the right research in the talent tree for your cloak. Specifically you want Emergency Cranial Defibrillation and Elite Extermination as soon as you can get them if you run the GHV’s solo, and the ability to get a PUG together to run them as a group can be maddening. If you can pull it off on your own, I suggest you do that and not worry overly much about failing the occasional vision until you get to the cloak level that that requires you to enter the hard areas of the vision. More on that when I get there.

Shadowlands

I asked for one gift for Christmas. I got it, thanks to my immediate family. Here is the trailer for it.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands trailer

The point the Son made upon seeing it was “Oh, great. Now Ner’zhul is free on Azeroth. Here is a decent twenty minute video on the subject of Ner’Zhul. If you just want the short version of the lore, Ner’zhul’s soul was trapped in the helm of the Lich King. Was trapped, is trapped no longer.

So we have that question to ponder on, as well as what role Bolvar will play in the next expansion, if he plays any role at all. In any case, I’m looking forward to the day when the expansion goes live. It should be interesting, now that Sylvanas has shown what she thinks of the paltry power of the Lich King.

Tis the Season

As I’m contemplating the impending holiday season, the final cutscene from the Battle For Azeroth ending raid springs to mind.

World of WarcraftAzshara’s Eternal Palace – Raid Finale Cinematic (Spoilers) – Jul 9, 2019

Why is that? Well, since the Old Gods are returning in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion for World of Warcraft, I’m thinking that maybe a Lovecraft Christmas is in order. Something like this tree from 2011 that made the rounds on Facebook in 2012.

We could even create a soundtrack for this season from the various songs inspired by Lovecraft’s fantasy writing that appear on various Blue Oyster Cult albums, some of these songs penned by fantasy and science fiction writer Michael Moorcock. Here’s one from a recent album with an appropriate name and theme.

Blue Oyster Cult: The Old Gods Return

Happy Birthday World of Warcraft

Every year on the anniversary of the launch of World of Warcraft there are in-game perks for logging onto the game and playing the current game content. Pets and mounts and extra quests that test your knowledge of previous iterations of the game.

This year there are even more rewards than usual. Log on and pick up your breadcrumb quests, then head to the Caverns of Time and join in the amusement and general chaos that is a world event in World of Warcraft.

Happy now, Rush?

I got bonus loot while doing the Memories of Azeroth raid that is part of the celebration. A mount that I had been trying to get to drop off of Ragnaros for several years now in the Firelands raid was in the loot I got off of defeating Ragnaros in Memories of Azeroth. I can now cross the Pureblood Firehawk off of my want list, making Memories of Azeroth doubly worth my time. The only way the experience could have been better is if Invincible’s Reins had dropped off of the Icecrown instance. No one got that one in our group, making Arthas’s stallion still one of the rarest mounts in World of Warcraft.

Part of this event is looking back on these fights and feeling that nostalgia if you were there, or seeing the building blocks of WoW if you weren’t. It’s a chance for an old vet like me to pull up a chair on my porch, sit down next to a youngblood, and regale them with tales of honor and horror. “I remember when Lady Vashj’s Tainted Elemental phase wiped my entire raid over and over for hours. The flasks and food wasted are the stuff of legends.” Memories of Azeroth feels like it was targeted at me.

USGamer

The Great Level Squish?

World of Warcraft studio Blizzard has apparently announced that WoW is going to reduce its level cap – a so-called ‘level squish’ – at some point in the future, and it has done so via a customer survey asking if you knew about that.

PC Games

Wow. An idea that I’ve been pushing for awhile now, and I didn’t even have to write them about doing it. I really don’t know why they ever increased character levels beyond 100 in the first place. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not even sure why leveling is still part of the game, at this point. It just serves as a gateway that players have to get through before being able to be free to do what they want in the game.

Blizzard has conducted a stat squish already. The player base got over that. They take away in-game flight routinely with every release of new content. The player base puts up with that. I can’t see why reducing levels to 100 from the current 120 makes any difference at all, or should make a difference to anyone playing the game. Max level is max level, no matter what number is attached to it. You can’t get more max than max.

I’ve been of the opinion that levels should be reduced and capped at 100 for quite some time now. If Blizzard insists on leveling-gating new content, they should just reset the level of existing maxxed toons to 99 and be done with it. As I outlined above, I don’t understand why this warrants a lot of wishy washy, hand wringing bullshit. Just do the thing and be done with it. The players will probably not even notice. I’m convinced they won’t notice much of anything unless you went back to making them walk everywhere in game. That suggestion seems to piss most players off the way I get pissed off about not being able to fly in game.

Burn It?

The War of the Thorns is in its second week, and the gamer portion of the internet is having a drama meltdown because of it. If you’ve played World of Warcraft (and if you haven’t, you’re probably already dead, so stop reading this) then you know that every two or three years Blizzard, the creators of the Warcraft gaming franchise, release a world-changing patch called an expansion that the company hopes will reinvigorate its flagship game, World of Warcraft.  Long time readers of this blog will know my back story for this game because, for several years, I couldn’t stop talking about it.

For those dead people (undead?) still reading, I will mention, briefly, a little lore and history. Warcraft is a series of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games. All versions of Warcraft prior to World of Warcraft were RTS games, a completely different animal from a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game like World of Warcraft. Maps in an RTS are built for complex battles fought on the ground using large armies. Maps in an MMO are used in world-building, an essential ingredient for any kind of real-world feel in online gaming. In Warcraft there were essentially two teams, Orcs and Humans. As the game evolved over Warcrafts One, Two and Three (and their associated expansions) the Orc and Human teams were fleshed out with races that could assist the Orcs or the Humans (or both at the same time) This introduced Dwarves and Elves for the humans and Trolls and Ogres for the Orcs. Gnomes and Goblins were addons that either appeared as part of Dwarvish construction for Gnomes, or Goblin mercenaries who could be hired from specialized structures in the later Warcraft III maps. With Warcraft III the two teams were expanded to four teams. Night Elves appeared for the first time in the woods of Kalimdor, a new continent that was reached by using ships to cross oceans that were created for Warcraft II. The Undead faction was also introduced in Warcraft III with the corruption of the Human prince Arthas, inheritor of the throne of Lordaeron, Lordaeron being the Human faction dominating the game Warcraft II.

The important thing to take from the above is that, Night Elves lived in the woods of Kalimdor, the second continent of Azeroth, created for the RTS game Warcraft II. Humans lived on the first continent, the Eastern Kingdoms, and there were several cities for Humans and Dwarves mentioned there or located there throughout the first two games. The Elves that were part of the Human faction prior to Warcraft III also had cities in the Eastern Kingdoms, unlike the Night Elves. Orcs were from another world that was briefly explored in expansions for both Warcraft One and Two, as were Ogres. Trolls had no origin prior to World of Warcraft, they were simply part of the map obstacles for teams, and part of the support group for the Orcs, a smattering of races which came to be known as the Horde.

This is the first bit of World of Warcraft lore that I have mentioned and I am three paragraphs into a simple description of the lore of the game. Bear with me. The faction I mentioned was the Horde, a faction which also incorporated what was a second faction or army in Warcraft III, the Undead. The human team had the name of the Alliance in Warcraft, an alliance between humans, dwarves and elves. The Alliance also absorbed the forth Warcraft III faction or army, the Night Elves. This brings us to the creation of World of Warcraft as a game and a map.

When Blizzard took on the task of creating a real world map for Azeroth, the world that most of World of Warcraft takes place on, they had to create origin points for all the races to start from, so that low-level players could have time to learn the mechanics of gameplay before being dumped out in the hostile world of Player vs. Player (PVP) competition. This is where most of the places that are near and dear to any hardcore players heart were created. Stormwind, destroyed in Warcraft I, lived again as the home for Humans. Ironforge, the mythical home of the Dwarves was finally given form, as was Gnomeregan for the Gnomes and Thunder Bluff for the Tauren, another supporting race for the Horde that was also introduced in Warcraft III. Finally, Teldrassil was introduced as a home for the Night Elves. The Night Elves, who called no place home other than the woods that they loved and died for, and the real reason I took everyone down this long, winding path in the first place.

To further embroider the story I’m telling here, a bit of an aside about Gnomes and Gnomeregan. Gnomeregan is a sore point for anyone who plays Gnomes. Gnomeregan is a five-man dungeon, not a home. At least Gnomes have a home to be excluded from, a fact important enough to warrant a dungeon instance. Trolls had no home at first, simply being pointed North to Orgrimmar, the same directive that low-level Orcs experienced in game. They were pointed North to a city in which they occupied a slum adjacent to the Orcs, but were not really as well respected as Orcs. Trolls later claimed their home back from Zalazane, but that isn’t the point of this winding trip down memory lane.

The point here is that Teldrassil, the home for the Night Elves, was never part of Warcraft until World of Warcraft, and even then it was a seriously flawed creation of Fandral Staghelm and the druids that he lead at the beginning of World of Warcraft. Fandral Staghelm, who harnessed dark magic to make the tree what it is today, before he became a raid boss in the Firelands raid of Cataclysm. A servant of the Firelord Ragnaros. Teldrassil stood as a testament to his control over the druids in particular, and the Night Elves in general, until this week.

The Daughter has been telling me for months now they burn Teldrassil. I didn’t believe it until I saw it, but the animated short released yesterday duplicates the final sequence in Tuesday, June 31st’s expansion patch for the War of the Thorns currently underway as an introduction to the new expansion due out August 14th, Battle for Azeroth.

Warbringers: Sylvanas, Jaina, Azshara, World of Warcraft (my personal playlist)

So, yeah. They burn Teldrassil. I’m not exactly appalled or outraged by this sequence of events. As others who are even more lore-wise than me have pointed out, this is not even the first time that a major city has been destroyed in World of Warcraft or that this strategy of roping in the player base by shaking up the maps and relationships we’ve come to accept as a given was used. These tactics are not groundbreaking and they may or may not be effective at driving more players to play the game the way Blizzard envisions.

The book that corresponds with the release of this expansion, Before the Storm, was penned by one of the better authors for Warcraft lore, Christie Golden. I would prefer to have read the book before the expansion comes out, but like all things financial for me these days, some things have to wait for the bills to be paid so that the lights will stay on here. Hopefully I’ll get a copy for my birthday in two weeks. So I haven’t read the book. Most players have not read it and probably should read it before being too outspoken about transpiring events. As a druid player (not to mention Paladin and every other class for both factions) the ability to opt out of participation in the slaughter at Teldrassil would have been nice. Druids would not agree to attack their Shan’do. There were, however, Druids working for Sylvanas in Darkshore. Just slightly South of Lor’danel where the final battle takes place, there are druids of the claw attacking in a circular formation. So Druids were present in the battle, despite rumors to the contrary.

I wonder what game these players shocked by Sylvanas’ actions have been playing? They certainly haven’t leveled toons through the early game areas for the Undead in the current version of World of Warcraft, a storyline that has been in place since after Cataclysm reworked the area following the  Wrath of the Lich King expansion and the killing of Varimathras. Anyone who thinks that Sylvanas doesn’t want to be the next Lich King doesn’t understand the undead, hasn’t played undead characters, hasn’t been paying attention to the characterizations in game. Her disavowal of knowledge of Varimathras’ plague plans at the Wrathgate was just her engaging in covering her own ass. She set about making more plague and using it in South Shore in the very next expansion. She has been experimenting with the Val’kyr, using them to resurrect fresh undead.  It’s right there in the Undead storyline right now, go play it.

However, frontal assault is totally out of character for Sylvanas and her Rogues. She is a master strategizer, well-versed in the underhanded ways of the Rogue class (Rogues that should be using bows the way she does but currently cannot) This one size fits all storytelling is at the heart of my dissatisfaction with Broken Isles, the last expansion of World of Warcraft. The Broken Isles had Rogues leading armies as heroes, not to mention Mages willing to follow Warlocks into battle as if Warlocks hadn’t been demonstrated to suck the souls out of their friends when the expediency of the moment calls for it. Most of the stories since Wrath and Cataclysm have been underthought and not fleshed out very well (what the hell happened to Wrathion?) I was hoping that Christie Golden being brought on to help with plotting and storytelling would make for better stories being told in relation to the MMO as we move forward in time. Maybe she just hasn’t had time to make the kinds of deep changes that really are warranted in the game experience. I guess we will find out eventually.

In any case, good riddance to Fandral’s creation, Teldrassil. None of my druids had any abiding love for the place and Tarashal only regrets not being able to save more than a hundred out of the nearly 1000 people supposedly taking refuge there. It reminded him quite poignantly of sorting through the bodies at Auberdine after Cataclysm started. Not surprisingly, I’m sure. He looks forward to making his new home on top of the mountain next to Nordrassil. Tharthurm asked the Paladin standing next to him when the cutscene ended What does a Paladin have to do with this? What does a Druid? before flying off and getting drunk at a tavern (yes I am an incorrigible roleplayer) Hope does spring eternal, Sylvanas. You cannot kill hope unless you destroy all life. Keep walking the path of the Lich King. I know you as only one of your own (Eugennah, Creavishop) can.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Cinematic Trailer Nov 3, 2017

All of the Battle for Azeroth videos and stills can be found at this link. After the first two Warbringers shorts (I’ve shown the one for Jaina to so many people that the Daughter storms off in anger when I show it again) Blizzard released this short.

Youtube – World of WarcraftCinematic: “Old Soldier” – Aug 2, 2018

Varok Saurfang is the tragic figurehead for the honor of the Horde across all of Warcraft, even if we didn’t know his name until World of Warcraft. Just watching that cinematic can bring tears to my eyes. It would seem like a hollow gesture following the burning of Teldrassil, but he was prepared to throw himself on Alliance spears in order to avoid fighting for a Horde that had no honor, and Sylvanas Windrunner has no honor. She has not had room in herself for honor since losing her mortal shell to Arthas’ necromancy. After the foretold defeat of Horde forces at Lordaeron Keep, Saurfang is taken prisoner and hauled back to Stormwind to await King Anduin’s pleasure.

Youtube – World of WarcraftCinematic: “Lost Honor” – Nov 2, 2018

This sets up the next portion of the story of Battle for Azeroth, at least from the Horde side. Now my Tauren druid can take part in the game again. Of course, my undead toons are livid at Saurfang’s and Baine’s betrayal, but the undead were never really part of the Horde in the first place.

Youtube – World of WarcraftCinematic: “Safe Haven” – May 15, 2019

Patch 8.2 is now in beta.


I’m glad someone took the time to piece together all the cutscenes for Vol’jin’s interactions with the players in Battle for Azeroth. It saves me the trouble of doing it, and Vol’jin appears to be the missing link in determining what Sylvanas is really up to and who wanted her to be warchief of the Horde. Spoilers! are in the video. Just FYI.

Vol’jin Meets Lich King & Bwonsamdi – ALL Cutscenes [8.1 WoW BFA: Tides of Vengeance]

Well, the first chapter of Battle for Azeroth has come to an end. It came to an end rather spectacularly, with this cinematic.

World of Warcraft – Cinematic: “Reckoning” (Spoiler) – Sep 25, 2019

Blizzard put together what can only be called a short film, 30 minutes of cinematics edited together as a tribute to Varok Saurfang. Since I had already linked all the other cinematics previously, I didn’t see the point in embedding that video here. Still, it is worth noting as a worthy effort on blizzard’s part. This will probably be the last update to this post since this is the end of the first chapter of this expansion. The battle goes on, but with different actors on the stage, and we have yet to see the ultimate plans of Sylvanas Windrunner. You get a hint of what they are if you play a Horde toon, ally yourself with Sylvanas, and finish the war campaign.

I’m not going to tell you what that is here. You’ll have to look elsewhere for those spoilers. I’m still playing so that means that this version of the game isn’t as boring to play as Warlords of Draenor was for me. Still, WoW Classic is looking mighty tempting as the wait for the next raid to drop looms in front of me. I’ve leveled all the toons I plan on leveling at this point. It’s just a matter of fleshing out their gear now; which is a tedious, never-ending process in any MMO that has ever existed. So I may duck that job and go play something else in the meantime.

Drafter, Drawer, Moron

An artist friend was lamenting being called a drawer recently. Tongue-in-cheek he informed the fan of his artwork that he was not a drawer, a single container in a dresser or chest of drawers, but was rather a draughtsman, thank you very much.

This witty rebuttal sent me scurrying to check word meanings at my favorite quick-reference of choice, Wikipedia. When I got there I discovered that I couldn’t use Wikipedia as a reference for this subject, as I have discovered with previous subjects on this blog. Wikipedia defaults to popular word usage and doesn’t reference the word draftsman, or draftsperson if you insist on neutralizing the word. It doesn’t even reference the proper English Draughtsman that my friend used. No, wikipedia gathers all discussion of the field of technical illustration under the term…

Drafter.

The sound that you are hearing is the spinning of a million proofreaders in their graves. It’s quite a rumble, isn’t it? A drafter is a racing driver following a pack leader close enough to get a speed boost from the lead car’s wake in the air. In no way, shape or form is a draftsman a drafter. That just isn’t English.

Bob Ross Channel Trailer Oct 6, 2017

An artist creates art. A draughtsman or draftsman produces technical drawings (which is where the slang drawer comes from) I was a draftsman for many years, I know what I’m talking about. Applying art techniques to technical drawings produces a “rendering,” something I have hired artists to do. I would never refer to an artist as a draftsman. That is an insult worthy of a good cuffing in my book. What artists and draftsmen do look similar on the surface but are in actuality two completely different fields of work.

John R. Mullaney APC Cutaway : Special Edition Sep 14, 2015

The insistence on sounding like a moron when speaking has driven me crazy for years, drafter/drawer is just the latest insult that I’ve stumbled across, and that one has bugged me since I started drawing. As far back as I can remember I have tried to correct the poor word usage of others only to be rewarded with the label of smartass from most of the people I’ve tried to educate. I was either born a proofreader or a pedant and I’ve never worked out which group I’d rather be affiliated with, but it does remind me of one of the few times that I managed to get the last laugh on the subject.

In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Blizzard added the inscription profession to World of Warcraft. I thought a scribe would be an interesting profession to get the Loremaster achievement with (Scribe. Lore. Get it?) so I spent a lot of time on the two ‘toons that I leveled as scribes. In World of Warcraft, like most MMO’s, you can spend a lot of time making things for other players. There are chat channels in the game where you can request needed items from or advertise your profession; and none of the players that I ran across in 6 years could figure out that someone who inscribes is referred to as a scribe. Inscriptors? Scripties? You name it. Never a request for a Scribe. In a moment of frustration I hit upon the right way to deal with this annoyance. I started explaining to the poor illiterate souls that a practitioner of inscription was referred to in a variation that reflected the sex of the practitioner. Like draftsman or draftswoman and many words found in romance languages. There was a sexual differentiation in the names and you needed to be sure to use the right one. Females were to be referred to as inscriptionatrixes. Males were only to be called inscriptionators. In six years of playing World of Warcraft, that joke never got old.

This is not the Warcraft it Used to be.

A week into the Legion expansion and I can tell I’m on the outs with Blizzard already.  The backing image on my Battle.net launcher has been changed to the Burning Crusade packaging image from the image that adorned the packaging of the Warlords of Draenor.

You may well ask “Why Burning Crusade?” at this point. Burning Crusade is the first expansion of World of Warcraft, not the vanilla version, the original version.

The answer to that is both simple and complex.  The simple answer is that Blizzard has dropped the myth that Burning Crusade is a separate expansion (even though you can buy packaged versions of it and later expansions from Amazon) and back in the days of Mists of Pandaria they bundled the two together, creating a default image for WoW that was different from the vanilla version of the original game.

With the current expansion they have dropped the pretense that any of the previous expansions were actually expansions to the original game in the online store. So why are they sticking to the Burning Crusade image? Because changing it would take work, and they are on a budget from Activision. It is either that or perhaps there is truth in advertising. Burning Crusade is what the current WoW experience seems most like. Burning Crusade is where the new class was the enemy of choice. Burning Crusade is where the Burning Legion was first assaulted directly.  Legion is a rehash of Burning Crusade in much the same way that Warlords of Draenor was a rehash of story content first introduced in Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal.

In the online store you can’t get any of the previous expansions. You can only purchase World of Warcraft and Legion. There is a problem with this, and that is where the story really gets complex. It gets complex because there really isn’t two versions of the game.

Blizzard will tell you that there are two versions. There is the version of the game which includes preserved content from previous iterations of the game.  Then there is the version with the additional content that they want to charge you almost three times as much to play, as well as the cost of a monthly subscription.

Never mind that the content represents the smallest expansion of World of Warcraft to date. The problem is that what they are calling World of Warcraft isn’t World of Warcraft. What you are purchasing is a disabled version of the accumulated base programming that Blizzard has put into their World of Warcraft project. You are being asked to pay for what the programmers who first put together Blizzard gave away for free. A shareware version of content to whet your appetite for what Legion has to offer. That is because there really isn’t a version of WoW other than Legion.

Having played every version of the game since and including Burning Crusade, I can tell you the differences between each expansion it pretty gory detail. I won’t bore non-players with too many of these details.

It is worth noting that major sections of each expansion have been lopped out of the current game structure.  The legendary quest lines for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor have been removed. It may not seem like much, but those quest chains marked the actual progress through the game as it was played when it was the current version of the game. If you are playing the game today and you wonder why certain factions, structures and islands still appear in the game, what you are seeing are the remnants of endgame content that has been bypassed and pruned.

This is aside from the fact that playstyles of the various classes have also been changed and simplified. If I was purchasing and playing the first game called World of Warcraft, I would have to have extra space in my bags for soul shards while playing a Warlock. Brew poisons as a Rogue. I would have to have arrows or bullets for my weapons. There would be no professions of inscription, jewelcrafting or archeology.  There would be no Pandarens, no Blood Elves, no Draenei. No playable versions of Goblins or Worgen. There would be no Death Knights or Monks. You would have to be in a particular faction to play Paladin or Shaman. I would not see a disabled option for creating and playing a Demon Hunter.

In short, it would be a different game if it was really World of Warcraft.  This is the bigger problem for Blizzard. Last year Blizzard shut down the fan-run server Nostalrius.  Fan run servers do present a threat to Blizzard’s intellectual property, and they had every right to shut that server down; but the existence of the site and others like it present the problem and question that Blizzard wants to go away.

Players want to play the games they purchased, and those games don’t exist anymore.

There really is no place to play the games that I have faithfully purchased from Blizzard over the years. I cannot play Wrath of the Lich King. I cannot participate in the battle at the wrathgate and then storm the Undercity in retaliation, facing off against the opposing faction in the throne room of Sylvanas herself.  That pivotal moment in the game is lost.  The Kor’Kron and the rise of Garrosh? Also lost.  Orcs no longer guard Undercity watching the forsaken, guarding against another attempt to turn all of the living into puddles of goo.

If you click one of the many links above (aside from the battle.net links) and purchase one of those products right now, you cannot play the game that is pictured on the outside of the box.  You will be forced to play the disabled version of Legion, the version now called World of Warcraft. There are no servers which run the historic versions of the server software, software needed to play the games historically sold under the World of Warcraft banner.

A consumer should be able to be assured that their purchases can be used in the fashion advertised. This is business 101.  That none of the expansions exist to be played in the fashion the game was intended to run at the time of publication and purchase presents a problem to Blizzard, specifically because they make noises about this being one of the longest running games in the history of computer gaming. Because they are still making money off the franchise they have created.  Because they have a lot of disgruntled fans out in the hinterlands who have previously purchased games they’d like to play but are prevented from playing them because Blizzard does not maintain a copy of previous integral parts of the game’s programming.

If this is one of the longest running Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games Blizzard, why can’t the fans of previous versions still log on and play the game they played then?  I really wish someone at Blizzard would take the time to answer that question.


I took a break from World of Warcraft when Legion went live. I took a break because they stood fast on the promise to release the game without flight being integrated into gameplay. I took a break because World of Warcraft wasn’t World of Warcraft anymore. But mostly I took a break because the game wasn’t fun anymore.

One of my guildmates on Muradin observed, after I spent several minutes bitching about Legion gameplay,

If you aren’t having fun, why are you playing?

That stopped me in my tracks. I logged off right then and there. I fired up the Playstation 3 and I played Playstation games for the next year following that observation, specifically because I was having fun playing them. This was completely the opposite of my experience playing World of Warcraft for the last few years. The constant farming of raid materials. The constant drive to seek the newest and latest gear so as to have the best chance of beating whatever progression raid boss we were on at that minute. The same material grind and the same gear grind repeated through Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor. Different mats and different gear, but always more mats if not more gear. Stacks and stacks of meat and fish and herbs and… everything. Always more. More time, more energy, more strategy. All devoted to equipping a team to play a game that I didn’t enjoy anymore.

The game had become the grind, and the grind was never fun. So I took a break until I heard that they had added flight back in. When that happened I contemplated getting back in the game, but I didn’t subscribe again until I heard that the final patch of Legion was due to be released. I did want to see what the game was like before they changed it again.

I burned through the content of the expansion in a few weeks. Then I did portions of it again on a few other toons. No where close to the twenty-two that I pulled through Mists of Pandaria. The content was all a bit silly, which is true of a lot of games and especially true of most Blizzard content. The silliest of all was the fact that they had Rogues leading armies as heroes, not to mention Mages willing to follow Warlocks into battle as if Warlocks hadn’t been demonstrated to suck the souls out of their friends when the expediency of the moment calls for it.

Rogues do not lead armies. Rogues hide in the bar until the army is distracted, then they gank the wealthier ones and steal them blind. Rogues as heroes? Warlocks as heroes? That is beyond silly and bordering on the unbelievable. Following a demon hunter onto Argus to destroy the heart of the Burning Legion? That is insanity. That part I was up for, if I had the right group with me.

So I had flight again and I could move about the maps doing the parts of the game that I wanted to do without having to crawl through the same damn MOBs repeatedly (the one downside to Mists of Pandaria. Flight had to be earned for each individual toon) however, I didn’t manage to get into the final raid because I wasn’t willing to go without my raiding guild friends that I had abandoned to play other games instead of helping them through Legion when it was hard going work. It was too much to expect them to let me back into the group at the last minute just to go through the raid one last time, carrying me all the way.

They’ll get bored and want to get achievements for old content eventually. There will be vengeance against the legion for me one day in the near future. Then I’ll be able to turn in those final unfinished quests.

WoW Legion: The Movie (All Legion Cinematics in Chronological Order)