Dear WoW Insider

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You taught me something important: You’re a part of this game. Once upon a time there was a very nervous boy who listened to the 1337s. The nervous boy did his best to copy what he read but no matter what he did things rarely worked out. Elitist Jerks was an awesome forum. The knowledge hidden within the sometimes patronizing posts was an absolute goldmine – but the way it was presented scared the nervous boy.

You’re either on top of the game or you’re nothing.

One day, the nervous boy was eating a kebab. He clicked around here and there and somehow he ended up on a site he had never even heard of. He had gone to Thotbot, he had gone to the Official Forums, he had gone to sites that made his antivirus yell “OH NO YOU DON’T!!!”. The site he ended up on was one of those buddies that your mother would be proud of. My, she would give them milk and cookies. This site, had in its comments and articles a simple message:

You’re a part of this game.

That’s how I met WoW Insider. This was years ago. I started playing World of Warcraft around 2008. As many others, I looked upon the people in their shiny armors straight out of whatever raid that was current. As many others, I thought ‘this is what I have to do’. As many others, I soon realised that I would never become what Those People were. I don’t function that well in ‘team sports’. I blame high school (but that’s a completely different story).

As many others, I thought I had to be hostile to play this game. I read comments all over the place in the years to come, somehow trying to convince myself to become a “raider”. The problem was, I had no friends in this game of ours.

Wow Insider changed that.

Before WoW Insider, I read MMO Champion, Wowhead, the forums, Elitist Jerk (again). Over and over I saw the same thing: 1337. The one thing all those sites except WoW Insider taught me was:

You’re either on top of the game or you’re nothing.

I’m used to being nothing. I’ve been a nothing all my life. I’m so fucking 1337 at mediocricy you can’t touch me. I was complacent with being the one who never went into a dungeon until I was 80 and could roflstomp everything unless it was current content. I got the Kingslayer title less than a year ago, just to give you a pointer at how I play.

Now, see … the introduction of Dungeon Finder and later Looking For Raid, LFR, changed things. But more importantly – WoW Insider changed my mindset. I realised, from the multitude of people commenting, usually in the Queue, that I didn’t have to be All – or nothing. I could be something, because there’s room for everyone in Azeroth. Which, of course, is solely Blizzard Entertainments idea – and a mighty fine idea it is!

But this post is not about Blizzard (even though WoW Insider wouldn’t even exist without World of Warcraft). This post is about WoW Insider. I stumbled upon them years ago, in 2008 or -09. For several years I simply lurked. People just knew so damned much! All that knowledge was, well, intimidating. Between the in-depth articles on warriors and lore and raiding and whatnot, there was a simple message hidden:

You’re a part of this game.

Over time, I started to realize that you didn’t have to be 1337. There were so many people playing this game we love, this hobby of ours, this internet dragon-killing philatelists society (before the internet people who collected stamps were wieved, buy some, as just as weird as we are). This outpouring of ordinary people investing time in something they cherished and felt was important was simply astounding. I had’nt realised how big it was, World of Warcraft, until I came across WoW Insider.

Hardcores, casuals, trolls, lurkers. Moms, dads, singles, couples. Hetero, bi, gay, trans. Vanillas, doms, subs, switches. Girls, boys, women, men. Dads, mothers, grandparents. Brothers, sisters, cousins, strangers. Haters, lovers, poets, warriors. Soldiers, oh so many soldiers; americans, brittish, french, swedish. Europeans, americans, south americans, asians. Englishmen, britons, russians. Dragons, ponies, giffers, orcs, draenei, belves, nelves, goblins, dwarves, worgens, inquisitors, Monty Pythonists, pop culturists … on and on and on and on.

Humans. All of you. Humans. THIS is WoW Insider. In the Queue following the news of AOL rumors, people started posting selfies. The orcs and the trolls and all the avatars had faces. I rarely get so moved that I burst into tears from something I see on the internet, I have the often spoken of “thick skin”, but dammit!

Without the staff none of this would be possible. We commenters would not be the band of brothers (and sisters) that we are without you, the WoW Insider staff.

Rossi, with your passion for warriors you made me fall in love with this game (fuck man, you made roll a warrior! Several times!). Sacco, though you left WoW Insider – you talked to me. Stickney, Ziebart – all of you: You talked and still talk in a way that I, a nervous boy, can listen to. You’re like that great teacher I had, the one that actually made me who I am. You have never patronized me. You have never trolled me. you have always stated the facts. You have had the courage to stand up for what you believe in – be it the state of the warrior or some other more volatile opinion. You have improved me, I dare say – you, and all the commenters of your site, has made me a better person.

WoW Insider showed me that there was more to World of Warcraft than killing internet dragons. You showed me, through personal editorials and comments and the multitude of various posts you did before the cutbacks a year or two ago, that behind the gamer there is a person. You have a tone of personality, of intimacy, that I have never seen anywhere else. Food recipies, beer brewing bravado, how to loose weight or else it might kill you – all of that played an equal part in me simply falling in love with “your” site. The fount of lore knowledge you all possessed was a gateway to just how big this game is! Blizzard themselves couldn’t do a better job presenting lore as you did, WoW Insider. There’s been many nights that I’ve been fighting a desire to sleep, just to catch your podcast. Time zones be damned!

I made myself public on WoW Insider around 2010. That’s when I started commenting. Just a few things here and there. At first I was … well, bit of a jerk, I think. I can’t remember, honestly. I didn’t post any comments on a regular basis until you integrated with Twitter (whenever that was). That’s when I started taking off. Over time, I started to develop a sort of friendship with some of WoW Insiders regular commenters. I live half my life on the internet. Most of my social life is virtual. You, you guys and gals, you are my friends, though we have never met.

Thank you, WoW Insider, for making this possible.

This is not the end. I’m sure your fanbase – and your connections – are working on a solution. You are a pillar of the WoW Community and if you fall, there will be dark days ahead. So let’s end on a WoW related paraphrase:

There must always be a WoW Insider.

#savejoystiq #savewowinsider

Others on the fate of WoW Insider: Sportsbard , World of Matticus , FecklessLeader , Apple Cider Mage , Captain Cakewalk , Growing up in Azeroth , Battle Pet Round Up , Lib Feathers and many more to come when I find them.

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World of Warcraft: the Ebon Insurrection

WoW Insider posed the truly interesting Blog Community Topic of “Pitch your World of Warcraft expansion”. I was thinking for a moment to re-use something I wrote some time ago but then I realised it would mean two Draenor expansions after another, including a revamp. We know that’s not going to happen since Outland is “old content is old”. So I’m doing the complete opposite. So here it is: The expansion that will never (?) be.

– – – – –

The Iron Horde was stopped. Thousands of lives lost, two worlds almost completely shattered. Fierce battles saw heros come forth. Fierce battles saw old allegiances … forgotten. Who was in the very frontline of all the fighting? Who held the tide of enemies back? Who saved the world?

Why … The one kind of soldier neither Vol’Jins Horde or the Alliance dare to call a “hero”. The undead. The Death Knights. The Knights of the Ebon Blade under command of Mograine had been aimless for years following the end of Arthas, the Lich King. Their mission complete Death Knights across Azeroth either laid down and died, thankful for the eternal rest, or they did what they are programmed to do. Fight. The war in Pandaria proved a lucrative business for mercenary outfits, many Death Knights turned “dog of war”. They fought, they won – they won a glorious victory for the Alliance … yet they never got any recognition for their sacrifice. The pattern repeated with the “mission to Draenor”. The Knights of the Ebon Blade is finally fed up … but not all of them. Some knights follow Darion Mograine. Others don’t. The reason is simple. The result – the Order shatters.

One of the discoveries in “alternate Draenor” turned out to be many a Death Knights salvation. By magical means – the very magic fabric of the Light itself – the undeath, at least the form of undeath Death Knights suffer, could be turned. The undead knights suddenly found themselves with the option of returning to the living – or keep their suffering, wander aimlessly in a world where there’s not place for an undead knight. Some choose the “cure”. Others were too far gone, or to loyal. Those who accepted the cure was shunned, cast-out, from the order.

The cured Death Knight became a strange anomaly. On one hand, they retained their old abilites – such as different presensce, the ability to raise undead minions, the ability to heal themselves through the pain and suffering of their foes. On the other hand – they were no longer dead(ish). They had returned to the living, such as life can be. Both Horde and Alliance found themselves in need of these veteran soldiers and welcomed their new brothers in arms. They formed a new order – Knights of the Black Sword. This time … they even accepted living prospects.

The resentment grew among the Ebon Blade followers. The deflectors, the traitors had shattered the (un)holy order. Resent grew to anger, anger grew to hate. Then – Acherus moved. the loyal Knights of the Ebon Blade, true to their beliefs, sought refuge in the only place where an order of undead knights can find solace. Northrend.

It’s been 5 years since the Iron Horde war. Both Alliance and Horde struggle to keep the peace. It’s a precarious peace. The only thing stopping either side from war is the struggle to revitalise their shattered economies. Westfall, Durotar – it doesn’t matter. Both sides suffer from the cost of war. Neither have the resources for a new war. They have struggled to keep their civilisations afloat and thus neither Alliance nor Horde saw what was coming – until too late.

The Knights of the Ebon Blade used Northrend as a staging area for a quest of a fabled land – Icemark, a continent yet unknown, north of Northrend. A land of ice and storms, of fire and brimstone. Pristine, uninhabited (save some small, long forgotten colonies of vrykul). The Ebon Blade didn’t have to break a sweat conquering it. And now … they are posed for retaliation. An army of barbaric tribes under the command of Mograines loyalists threatens to wreak a terrible revenge on the people who spurned them.

Welcome to World of Warcraft: the Ebon Insurrection!

Features:
Five new zones – Argent Holdout (starter zone, Alliance and Horde), Ice Plains, Hellfreeze, Dis, Empyreon.
Level cap raised to 110.
Instant boost to level 100.
New playable race – Vrykul (choose your allegiance, Horde or Alliance, at level 100).
New neutral faction – the Argent Onslaught (remnants of the Scarlet Onsalught redeemed themselves forming a magnificent fighting force with the Argent Crusade).
New dungeons – Ebon Caverns, The Portcullis, The Ice Halls, Ragnarok Village – and many more!
New raids – Assault on Acherus (7.0), The Dead Fields (7.1), Salvation (7.2), the Argent Onslaught (7.3)
New battlegrounds – the Argent Arena, the Isle of Despair, an open 24/7 PvP zone with objectives and quests
Professions raised to 800, new and improved proffession leveling systems using improved Garrison mechanics
Race specific buildings or garrisons – create your own vrykul stronghold!
Wargames – a minigame based on Real Time Strategy; command mercenary troops in battle against the Ebon Scourge!
A new Sanctuary, Lordaeron – Sylvanas has reluctantly agreed letting Lordaeron be a base of operations for both Horde and Alliance; the Kirin Tor has used their magics and “done a Dalaran”. Lordaeron Crater is all that remains in Eastern Kingdoms, but the dread city of death is floating in the sky close to Icemark.
New battle pets, mounts and much more!
New past-time fun – race down the steep snowclad mountainside on skis, or brave the elements and use your mountaineering skills to reach the top of the world!
New profession – Woodworking; create new weapons or other tools of the trade!

(With this idea currenct Death Knights will of course be still loyal to either Alliance or Horde since they were the ones who accepted the gift of life. Nothing changes with the class, other than the pure immersion bit. Roleplayers could probably find a lot of fun with it – for others it’s more a cosmetic that don’t even show. But rejoice: Your death knight gained a heartbeat!)

The busy little bees of Exodar

I might be too late. But – WoW Insiders Community Blog Topic pose an interesting question – “What are you doing between now and Warlords of Draenor”.

Ah, yes … What am I doing?

The Legendary Cloak
First of all, I’m still on various stages of the Legendary Cloak-quest. The priest Vassannah is slowly nudging towards teh dread PvP-stage. I’m not exactly looking forward to that particular part of it but with a bit of luck I’ll get an expert Pvp’er as bodyguard. I’ll just hide in ab ush I think … watching Mookíe the Retadin lay waste to the Horde. Hey! It’s a proven tactic! As long as I run around a bit now and then and look very busy and focused no one will suspect a thing. Actually – how to look extremely busy while doing nothing is a skill I honed during my time in business to business-sales.

Trust me, sales aren’t too far from PvP.

The elemental shaman Savenna and the warlock Sharenne is also busy with the cloaking. Though they still miss a bunch of sigils each. I’m in no particular hurry with the cloak for either of them. But I figure if I’m going to cap VP anyway – and find shinies in Garrosh footlocker – I might as well keep the quest alive.

Of course … One needs to be well dressed when one ventures into LFR.

The Gear Starts Here
I have nothing against people who wear whatever they’ve found among the bloodies corpses of Orgrimmars streets. Some people care more about function than form – and that’s cool. Others, like me (and many others), find function can work just as well in great form as well. Beyond a doubt transmogging constitute roughly 50% of all the fun with World of Warcraft – at least for me. The other 50% is the leveling, I enjoy leveling. Fast and furious or slow and careful, it doesn’t matter. Combined with transmog the fun is 100%. Well, almost. 98.5%. If one of the Gruul bosses could drop that damned helm …

But how to go from this:

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Savenna, fresh out of pod-life wearing family heirlooms.

to this:

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Oh Raggie … It’s me.

That is in itself a journey. A game. End game gear are a means to an end to get the gear that looks good.

Just what looks good is of course in the eye of the beholder. Transmog has also reignited the interest in finding old crafting recipies and patterns. Wich, in the case of Vassannah, means going from this:

Vass_Azuremyst

Every journey starts with a single step. And heirlooms.

to this:

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Truefaith Vestments, still demure

Reputations, Reputations, Reputations
Juggling LFR with Siege of Orgrimmar, 3 mains with VP-caps, transmog hunting and mopping up whatever old dungeon- and raid achievements I’ve missed really keeps me busy. As a bonus I’m building rep with old factions – and new ones. With the changes to the rep grind I’ve found them a lot more enjoyable than before. So, the latest Exalted current faction reputation is with Order of the Wind Serpent … and to be perfectly honest: I did it because of their tabard. White lace. Irrestistible!

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(By sheer luck I even found a use for the Order of the Wind Serpent-tabard; can’t go wrong with white lace.)

The small talk of transmogs and commentaries – usually friendly or at least not too mean – helps through the lull of waiting for tanks or healers or whatnot. I’m slowly inching my way towards exalted with the Shado Pan as well; August Celestials and Golden Lotus are done (finally!). Older reps is slowly ticking upwards but I’m not “working” on them. The reputation is a welcome bonus whenever I venture into whatever dngeon or old raid hunting down nice transmog items.

Greed
Experience tells me: A new expansion is expensive. So I’m doing my best stockpiling gold when I can. I’m running a small but in my eyes lucrative business with expensive JC mounts. Cloth drops and gear from mainly BC dungeons usually sell well. I can’t say my Exodar Sisters are particularly wealthy – but they make do.

1-2 hours of mining per day keeps the Ghost Iron deposits on the AH at a reasonable level. Mining is probably the backbone of my economy. It finances the more expensive adventures … such as *cough* transmog gear.

I’m keeping busy. The legendary cloak. The reputations. The economy. The hunt for better gear, current one. The transmog gear. By the time the ships sail for Draenor, the Exodar Sisters will come down on the Iron Horde with ferocious fury and violent vengeance … well dressed.

Fel Iron Coating is the Future!

“Shuanna! What are you doing with your finger in that jar!?”
Shuanna carefully pulled her hand back. A thin coating of something green, shimmering, slowly dripped from her index finger. She was a careful engineer after all; her hands clad in heavy duty leather- and steel. Even so she winced. The heat from the strange compound ate right through the insulated glove. She pulled it off, dropped it on an anvil and grabbed a hammer.
“Well?” Zavannah said. “I’m waiting!”
“Liquid fel iron,” Shuanna said thtough the hammer blows. “A compund made by a skilled alchemic engineer.”
“What’s it good for?”
“I haven’t the faintest.” Shuanna chuckled. “But it looks good!”

*****

Sorry! I’ve been tremendously lazy lately, not writing a line for this blog. Work and Adventures in Azeroth kept me busy. In the past weeks I’ve leveled a rogue from 1-90.

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Sharenne, with her spy buddies

I’ve also leveled a shadow priest from 1-85.

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A young priest running away from a lion

I’ve also been contemplating the constant profession conundrum: Who gets what, and what for and why, and why not. So, lucky me – the execellent people of WoW Insider brought up an interesting question. Should professions be account wide?

My gut reaction is – Oh Yes! But, as we all know, if the world was governed by our guts we would be living in caves. Again. Just imagine what would have happened if cooler heads didn’t prevail that time when Bay of Pigs came around, y’know? While my guts rejoice my brain ponders. Here’s what it ponders:

If our professions in their current state were to be account wide, these account wide professions would serve no other purpose than conveniance. The blacksmith, happily hammering away on a Ebon Hand, suddenly realise there’s an Arcanite Bar missing. If only the lazy alchemist had transmuted 12, not 11, of those pesky little things … alas! The blacksmith can easily aquire the necessary bar since the blacksmith also have access to alchemy. Success!

 

 

I forgot to …
We’ve all been there – gathered all necessary equipment only to find we’re missing a bolt. Engineers feel this pain on a daily basis, mind you. As do blacksmiths; I was halfway to the Lightning Forge when I realised I missed a Living Steel bar. It would have been handy to open up an alts profession tab without having to A) get to a mailbox, and B) log out, log in, create, log out, log in, fly back.

But … maybe it’s not Blizzards responsibility to “cater to lazy crafters”? If I had done my homework I wouldn’t been short one bar. I can’t really blame Blizzard for my own shortcoming now, can I? That’s what oplayers do every day of course; it’s Blizzards fault your DPS was barely reaching 100 on Lei Shen, not the fact that you were eating Burritos and skyping with a buddie (yes, that was sarcasm).

Account wide professions in their current state should stay character bound. The “problem” isn’t professions per se. The problem is – the professions serves very little purpose save the professions perks; sockets, gems, the extra flask hour etc. The only reason we pick a profession is the bonus the profession brings. Crafting – especially at low levels – is a tremendous waste of time (unless you also have an enchanter, then crafting will save you tons of gold and time). Crafted end game gear seems to serve only as a shortcut to necessary iLvls. I often get the feeling my characters hate their jobs. All they ever wanted was to kill monsters, not spend 4 hours on a dragon in sub zero environment because they’re missing 1 cobalt ore for the necessary bars … and where IS that damned cobalt anyway!? Last time I ventured out on a mining expedition I found 1 node. One. In an entire zone.

 

 

Crafting is fun!
The professions is in need of an overhaul. Most of them are outdated and serves only as a time- and gold sink. Account wide professions could be the thing that would make professions fun again. Imagine a crafting professions that’s actually an integral part of your characters progression. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Imagine what could be done if professions would interact with each other; as in my example short story above – Mining, Alchemy and Blacksmithing creates “Liquid Metal”. A coating wich could give the same bonus to bracers, pants, belts and shoulders as Jewelcrafting or other relevant professions. Something like this:

Coating: (Alchemy + Mining and/or Blacksmithing; the coating is created out of different profession materials at a forge). Used to enhance armor and weapons using an enchantment model, where a “coating” serves as the enchantment. For instance – Dancing Steel Coating would provide the same effect as the enchant Dancing Steel but would not require an enchanter.

Recycling ((dis)Enchantment + Blacksmithing, Tailoring, Engineering, Alchemy, Leatherworking). Used to disassemble and recycle looted gear into different parts. An armor item could be disassembled into both metal, elementals, cloth, leather or fur. Just look at all those padded armors out there, rotting away! It’s time Azeroth goes green and recycles! The amount of materials repurposed is based on the armor items class – metal will give more metal etc etc.

Tech: (Engineering + any other crafting or gathering profession). Used to create brand new technological buffs to any form of gear or weapon identical to or similar to existing buffs, such as Inscription. Tech will create an extra layer of bonus; say a “+10” to a “+200” inscription.

Now, these are just examples. I’m no games developer and I have no idea what buffs would go where. But what I’m getting at is a new way to let all existing professions interact with each other. This, I imagine, is just one way to make professions fun and relevant again.

The Server – A parody

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The Wow Insiders Community Blog Topic, Would you play on an expansion specific server?, asks that straight forward question. My humble opinion is – I wouldn’t. I started playing World of Warcraft towards the end of the Burning Crusade and I still remember the harrowing experience. I might add I never made it to level 70 until Wrath of the Lich King had been going for well over a month. The Burning Crusade was just painfully slow.

I can’t say much about it, other than it would be a waste of time and resources to develop specific servers for specific expansions. In all likelyhood there would just be a handful of nostalgia seekers staying put, once the initial interest has died down. Maintaining servers for a miniscule minority just for the sake of Old Times would be bad for the whole franchise. It’s a dead idea – something Blizzard themselves has stated time and time again (in less provocative words of course).

The question of expansion specific servers did spawn a spoof script, so there’s at least some good in the idea. Enjoy.

– – – – –

Player 1 and 2 enters the Expansion Specific Outlet, where you order anything from a new class to a new playable race. Anything that is available, that is.

Player 1: “I’m so stoked! I’m gonna love ganking noobs in BGs, just like old skool Alterac, man!”
Player 2: “Yeah, and I’m gonna raid. I’m gonna raid my heart out!”
Player !: “High five?”
Player 2: “High Five, bro!”

The slap their hands and walk up to a salesmans counter, laughing and jesting.

Player 1: “Hi, man!”
“Salesman: “Hello, young man.”
Player 1: “So, uhm … I’m gonna go for that BC server, right. So I want something cool.”
Salesman: “Paladins, can’t go wrong with blood elf paladins.”
Player 1: “I want a death knight, cause they’re like, cool, yeah?”
Salesman: “Sorry, no death knights.”
Player 1: “You mean you’re out?”
Salesman: “Never had any. Want a shaman instead?”
Player 1: “What you mean ‘never had any’? I’ve been playing like, well, like ages, right. Like since ICC. My mains a death knight, sure you got ’em.”
Salesman looks around. “Uhm … No. Nope. No deathies.”
Player 1: “Don’t bullshit me man!”
Saleman: “I’m certainly not bullshitting you. This is the Burning Crusade. There are no death knights.”
Player 2: “Dude, he’s right, yao. They like got deathies in Lich King, y’know.”
Player 1: “Damnit! Ok, uhm … Give me a warrior then. A goblin warrior! That’s so cool!”
Salesman: “No goblins.”
Player 1: “What!? There’s like – tons of them! In Ratchet, other places!”
Salesman: “Those are non playable characters. Perhaps you want a draenei instead? Draeneis are cute.”
Player 1: “Aw c’mon! My buddy Jake’s got a goblin warrior! He’s been playin’ since like … Cataclysm.”
Salesman: “Again, young man. This is the Burning Crusade. There are no goblins
Player 1: “I … Ah what the frack, ok, a gnome then. Can I get it at level 90? I’m sort of in a rush to a BG and stuff.”
Salesman: “We only have level 1, sorry. You need to get it to 70 yourself.”
Player 1: “What!?”
Player 2: “Dude, Burning Crusade level cap was, like, 70. Y’know?”
Saleman: “Your friend is right. Now, will that be a subscription for four or five monnths?”
Player 1: “Give me that 7 day pass, that should be enough. Like, 70 levels will go snap, right. Just pop some looms, the guild xp bonus, the DF hats.”
Salesman: “Did you want a level 70?”
Player 1:: “Uh-huh.”
Salesman: “You want to go 10 levels per day for 7 days?”
Player 1: “Hey man, I’m like gonna be 70 tomorrow.”
Salesman: “No you won’t.”
Player 1: “Sure I will! Like I said, with looms a–”
Salesman: “No looms, sorry.”
Player 1: “No looms?”
Salesman: “No looms.”
Player 1: “What about guild buffs?”
Salesman: “Nu-uh. And no hats.”
Player 1: “But … But … But, what? I’m gonna have to level for like five months?”
Salesman: “You can do it in a months time, no problem. It’s the attunement, you see. The only way to gain access to raids are via a long and complicated process that requires a lot of time and effort. All so we know that You are a dedicated expert, an elite among peons. There’s a lot of nice rewards for it. Say, for instance, a chestpiece with more than 50 Strength.”

Player 1 laughs. Player 1 stops laughing when the Salesman gives a ‘smile’. That ‘I know something you don’t, young man’-smile. The smile of a grizzled veteran, who collected furry paws and batwings for a Darkmoon toy. The smile of someone who’s been through Hell – that is Molten core – over and over again. There’s a look in the salesmans eyes, void of life. A ten thousand yard stare. Eyes that have seen the terror of attunement – and conquered it. Eyes that chased down every single piece of nature resistance gear there was – or something similar. Eyes of someone who lived through the hellish times of looking like a clown.

Player 1 (in a low scared voice): “Ok … Give me a level 1 gnome warrior then. Can I have a protodrake as mount?”
Salesman: “Nope. You can get a Netherdrake after approximately 44 days. Of course, you need to be able to fly first. Would you like to pay 1.500 gold for a ground mount now or later?”
Player 1: “Don’t screw me, man. Mounts are like 20 gold or something.”
Salesman: “Not in the Burning Crusade they’re not.”
Player 1: “I can’t afford that right now.”
Salesman: “Then you won’t get a drake. You must be able to fly to accept the first quest of a long and convoluted quest line. You know, jus to start the grind.”
Player 1: “Ok, you know what? Screw your stupid game! I’m going back to Pandaria! At least that’s fun!”
Salesman: “Fun? Do you really think that World of Warcraft should be fun?”
Player 1: “It’s a game! Sure it should be fun!”
Salesman: “You go home now, boy. come back when you’ve grown a pair.”
Player 1: “What!?”
Salesman: You … ARE NOT PREPARED!!!”

Less is more

There’s a reason my hunter Cassanna languish in Dalaran, forever trapped in a state of level 70. There’s just too many damned buttons! The hunter button bloat in combination with the tedious proffessions leatherworking and skinning put an end to her adventures. Her bankspace is slowly filling up with Elemental Fires and other stuff from whatever places her “sisters” might visit.

So the question posed by WoW Insider in this weeks Community Blog Topic – Do we need an ability squish – is a topic that’s very dear to my poor hunter. She’s not the first hunter I’ve played. But it appears she will be my last. I just can’t find the “fun” in hunters, not anymore.

I’m one of those people who, when faced with a gazillion buttons, end up using four or five of them. It’s not the best way to play, I know – especially if you’re running dungeons. But I just can’t get myself in the mood. By the time I’m done hitting all the keys there’s nothing left to shoot at. Eventually I end up at rock bottom on the DPS meter. While I’m not one of the most competetive players around, I do find it satisfying sitting on top of all others DPS. Cassanna ends up last, always. If I’m not removed from the group I usually ends up rage quitting.

There’s a limit even for my patience, even though it’s as long as the Great Wall. So – do we need to squash some buttons? Yes we do! Well, I certainly think so anyway. but there’s a debate worth mentioning regarding the topic of abilities: The Master Gamer, as I like to call it.

The Master Gamer
Once in a while someone says “If you know how to use your abilities you’re playing it right”. This is usually followed by a declaration of mastery: “I use blah blah blah and dominate all teh (sic!) meters”. Sometimes there’s a tone of “l2p noobs!”, sometimes not. The Master Gamer equation goes something like this:

The number of available abilities (buttons) equals imagined proficiency for the game.

The perception based on the above equation means that the more slots you fill (the more buttons you have), the better gamer you are. It doesn’t matter what class you play – your worth as a gamer is measured in how many buttons you can hit. How many macros you need. How many add-ons you juggle in order to be “the best” . It goes without saying that the Master Gamer sneers at “casuals” or anyone who don’t rebuild the default UI.

It’s a silly argument.

Let me use an analogy: Why would you spend hours building a campfire if there was an electric stove available? You wouldn’t, of course. Why would you “master” something overly and unnecessary complicated if you could do the same job in half the time with half the buttons? There’s where the prestige kicks in. We all want to be a little bit “better” than the other player. The Master Gamer imagines their worth in the number of abilities they can juggle at any given time. Logic takes a back seat.

Humans are, more or less, rational beings. If we can do a job in an easier way we will. That’s why we have forklifts instead of manhandling goods. The generic World of Warcraft player is a human (albeit some of them barely qualifies for the species; I’m looking at you, LFR-douchebag). As such we could expect even a Master Gamer to choose the easier methods. Strangely, this is rarely the case. Playing the keyboard as a consert pianist gives a sense of entitlement. Prestige. Status. Truth of the matter is: The more abilities a class have, the more said class caters to the elitist Master Gamer.

That’s just my casual point of view, of course. Perhaps I’m jaded by the eternal debate of Who Is A Gamer and Who Is A Real Gamer*.

The Smart Gamer
Blizzard have gradually smartified World of Warcraft. Some would argue they have done the exact opposite of course – and “dumbed it down”. The reason a portion of the consumers believe Azeroth has been dumbed down is, I believe, connected to the Master Gamers. While the hardcore players are a minority, they are a very vocal minority. They also have a posse of prospects who, while not hardcore themselves, hope to come through as hardcore. There’s a certain status to being a “progressive cutting edge player”, you know. But …

This is also a silly argument.

World of Warcraft is not dumbed down. The game have been streamlined, it’s become more effective, more modern. In parts it have become easier as well – that is, easier for the allready established players. Heirlooms, overpowered gear and an increased know-how on how to solve different fights – all of it has contributed to an “easier” game.

The fact is, World of Warcraft is still a medium to hard difficulty leveling game. If you on’t believe me, roll a completely new character on a completely different server, cutting short your supply of both heirlooms, gold or other helpful things such as bags. Level a fresh character as if the game was completely new; even for a seasoned and skilled player there’s a lot of challenges ahead. Without heirlooms, World of Warcraft is both balanced and at times hard.

If you really want a challenge, try the Ironman playstyle. That’ll teach you.

As the game has evolved and slowly steered away from outdated trends in how to play an MMO, the game has become more accessible. One of the last vestiges of “the old ways” is the abillity bloat. Much the same as the ever increasing iLvl problem we get new abilities with every new expansion. Right now we sit with (more or less) five games worth of abilities – in one and the same title. That’s too much.

The Smart Gamer neither have time nor patience for the balancing act of two dozen abilities. The gaming culture in itself has changed; the median age of a gamer is 31 years old. That’s a person in mid-career, a family, bills to pay, softball games to play, other hobbies – but still with just 24 hours to do it all. The Smart Gamer is sometimes lucky if there’s 3 or 4 hours worth of game time per week.

The faster the learning curve is, the better it is. The more fun it is. A smart game for the samrt gamer needs to rid itself of the old ways. Truth is, World of Warcraft isn’t a hardcore game, not anymore. There’s room for it, sure, but the majority of players are – casual gamers. People with 3-4 hours available. Per week.

Lesser abilities is just but one way to streamline the game. The new and (in my view) improved talent tree is another. Even the dread daily quest is a way of giving the consumer the power to play the game like the player wants to play, not how the developer force us to play. The fewer buttons you have to push in you 40 minutes of free game time, the better. As teh age old adage says:

Less is more!

– – – – –

*: Real Gamers need many buttons. The also don’t play Farmville. They do however own a farm in Halfhill. They do however spend gold on new clothes (sorry, gear!). In a sense World of Warcraft isn’t that different from, say, the Sims – a game any Real Gamer would sneer at, probably with a quick and scornful “it’s a girls game!”. See?

World of Warcraft is a girls game. We earn gold to dress our paper dolls. (And kill internet dragons.)

The debate of hardcore vs cassual is in itself a typical example of intersectionality. There’s a feminist angle (soem would probably say agenda) to it as well. That’s not for this post however. Neither is the definition and distinction of who, exactly, is a Real Gamer. Have some statistics, courtesy of ESA! 

Addicted to the ding

“Look sharp, boys!” the dark iron dwarf medic snickered.
Zavannah let them get the first punch. There was “bink!” as a hefty axe struck her midriff. There was a “clonk!” as something else struck her helm. She didn’t stop, pulling more and more attention to herself. Surrounded by hundreds of dark ironers she let a howling blast of ice cold air rip the flesh from their bones. Then she went to work, swirling, dancing, stepping. Slicing. Less than a minute later silence fell. Then:
“Oi! Not fair, lass!” the medic choked on his own blood. He tried to crawl away but his limbs were frozen to the ground. “Yer ruined me cape too!”
“Mister clergyman … ” Zavannah smiled and lowered her voice to a dramatic whisper. “Prepa-aare yourself!” There had to be flair, after all. She walked up to him and scissored her swords across his throat. “I will RAVAGE this land!”
“Whu-“
She cut his head off.
“Huh.” Zavannah sighed, whiped the blood of her swords and muttered as she headed towards the Grim Guzzler: “I thought you people were levelheaded … “

– – – – –

WoWScrnShot_081212_172809

This image does not reflect the contents of this post.

Once again I trailed off up there. Ahem, sorry about that. To quote the goblin: “Anyway!” WoW Insiders Community Blog Topic of the week is pretty straight forward: Do we need more levels? I don’t know about you but I need them. You see, my brain – and I imagine yours as well – loves tangible rewards. Let’s break it down a bit:

The Ding Drug
It’s chemistry of course. Endorphins, stuff like that. That rush of accomplishment and completion you feel whenever you’ve suceeded in doing something, be it land a new job, finish the script for a novel – or reach level X. We all are simple beings no matter how complex we think ourselves to be. The ever so tiny fraction of our bodys own happiness drugs sends our minds into exhiliration. Even if it just last a few seconds it’s enough.

Just like anything else we enjoy – sugar, nicotine, tea, Hubigs Pies or whatever – there’s also a risk involved. The thing with addiction (even harmless ones like wanting the next “ding!”) is the threshold of tolerance. It gets higher, and higher, and higher. Eventually one spoon of sugar isn’t enough. A new player will probably feel overjoyed when “You have reached level 10” lights up. A seasoned veteran wether it’s the tenth alt or not just push past the explosion of golden light. You know, cool players don’t look at the ding. On the other hand, even a hardcore altoholic will undoubtedly feel a sense of relief akin to happiness when yet another character dings final level. We’re all addicted to levels, wether we accept it or not.

Other “Ding Drugs” can be whatever goals we set. I get the feeling we constantly fool our brains into accepting whatever gives the same sensation as the “ding”. Sometimes we scream and shout out of happiness. Sometimes we just smile, ever so slight, then check wich guildies are online. Spreading the joy is half the fun, you now (even if a barrage of “gratz!” can get annoying when you’ve gone through 25 levels in 30 minutes).

This, in my awkward laymans words, is part of the psychology behind rewards. World of Warcraft is just like any other game a reward driven game. Each new level is a reward. Just like each new set of gear or anything else that turns us into happyraging guinea pigs. Everyone loves rewards, right? Right!

In a way we’re still children. The new shiny toys might be different, the “parent” might be a company in the US – but we still laugh at the new shinies. Be it levels or gear. Mayhap I’m stepping on some sore toes here (I doubt grizzled old raiders who has gnawed teeths through heroic progression would appreciate me liking them to children). No matter – the amount of tantrums whenever the game changes is like watching a supermarket run out of icecream. Imagine the roar if we didn’t get more levels.

We need our dings. How else are we going to
(get our fix)
have fun?

Level alternatives
If we don’t get new levels, steps must be taken to ensure a living and exiting world. This could be solved in a number of ways. From the top of my head we could see the following in old zones:

Unchanged:  Just something to slog past as fast as possible. This would be easier with more XP boost items, both as drops, buffs and purchaseable in the In Game Store.

Old quests are changed to daily quests: Likely some old quests would be removed … with all the trouble that will bring.

Hero classes: Apart from death knights, who effectively can skip an entire expansions worth of quests, we would see new hero classes. Perhaps starting at level 65 (getting to level 68 in a starter zone enabling the player to go straight to Northrend) or even level 75 (getting to level 80 in a starter zone enabling the player to go straight to Cataclysm zones such as Hyjal). This actually feels rather appealing.

All of the game is End Game: Imagine if everything became end game through a scaling system. No matter what level you are the world would change accordingly to your level: You could go to Pandaria as level 1, or go to level 1 zones as a level 100 – and still find it challenging. I think this would require extensive use of phasing and other inventions but it feels like a good idea. It could bring challenge back to a game that is often berated as “too easy”.

Instant 100: Imagine you pay an NPC X thousand gold and in an instant is promoted to “champion”. It might not be especially fun for those who like leveling alts though … because a system like this would become “mandatory” in a split second. It would also be unfair to completely new players who want nothing more than end game participation but can’t afford it. On the top side it would speed up the leveling process, especially for bored altoholics. With an NPC it would still be a “choice”.

Tailormade Timeless Isle zones available for low level characters: Imagine having the choice between open world exploration and open-ended quest lines, or the traditional quests and leveling. Tailormade Timeless Isle zones could reward 10 times more XP than usual quests, making leveling in these zones faster and possibly more fun. Both systems would coexist. The fast and the furious could speed through levels in a couple of hours and start end game within a day. The sloths of World of Warcraft could trudge along wellknown quest paths for their own enjoyment. Nifty, no? Sure it is!

I don’t think we could do without levels completely. I do think we will see the mechanism of leveling to change. Hopefully for the better. Hopefully with more choices. Hopefully even more fun than it is now. PErsonally I love levels and leveling.

I’m addicted to the ding.

– – – – –

Other blogs on the topic: Working TitleFantastical MadnessDeletrixDead Gnomes SocietyToonacious, Sportsbard

“I know kung fu!”

“So this machine is supposed to …” Shuanna raise her eyebrows, staring at the strange contraption. “This is supposed to teach me something new?”
“Oh yes!” the gnome said. “It’s a prototype of course. Just sign this waiver.”
Shuanna hesitated. The gnome prodded the air in front of her with a pen, waved the waiver in a very hurried but yet inviting manner. The smile on his face was whiter than snow. She took the paper and the pen, signed on the dotted line and let them install her in the machine.
“Right,” the gnome nodded, closed his hands around a iron driving wheel and turned it. The machine hummed. “Here we go!”
There was a flash. There was a sensation of being … jolted. then strange memories of thing she never had mastered before filled her brain. A minute later they released her. She stumbled out, shook her head, regained her balance and whistled. Then she slowly turned her head towards the gnome and said, awestruck:
“I know kung fu!”

– – – – –

Merc

Yeah, sorry about that. Got a bit carried away. So anyway – this weeks Community Blog Topic from WoW Insider is: Should all classes get a fourth spec? There is a simple answer to this: No.

I think simple answers are boring. The world is rarely simple, not ours, not Azeroths. So the more complicated answer is this: Yes, we should get a fourth spec – under certain conditions. Let me explain. I have an idea, you see.

I realize adding a fourth spec would cause a lot of balancing problems. At worst it could cause utter chaos in the (some say barely) balanced game. Now, there is a few solutions to this problem:

  •  Make a fourth spec PvE only.
  •  Make a fourth spec optional.
  •  Integrate a fourth spec with existing specs.
  •  A fourth spec with just a few new abilities.
  •  Make a fourth spec conditional.

PvE only:
This is risky business. PvP players would probably feel cheated on something potentially awesome and extremely effective. The old and old discussion of PvE vs PvP would flare up giving community managers a headache. Again. Not to mention all the other hot topics – hardcores vs casuals, for instance. Still, if it could smooth things out … maybe. I have to say even I am not sure this is a great idea. It could be a terrible idea to be honest. It probably is. Dangit!

Optional fourth spec:
This is also risky business. The very second the theory crafters get their hands on the most effective fourth spec, that second anything optional becomes “mandatory”. We’ve seen this before, from add-ons like Recount (or Gearscore befor iLvls) to LFR (and possibly soon Flex Raids). the trick is to find a fourth spec that is appealing but not appealing enough. How do you accomplish that? Well …

Integrated fourth spec:
Say what? Yes, it’s an innovative design! The best existing abilities from various specs have been cherrypicked to enhance your class abilities! A warlock who suprise his enemies with frost bolts. A mage who scare the dirt out of a kobolds fur with a shadow bolt. A warrior who calls forth the powers of divine light. A paladin who bellows so loud dozens of enemies shrink back in awe of the Holy Rage. A priest who goes into a frenzy with a Spinning Crane Kick – a dervish figure dancing through the battlefield. A monk who sneaks through the shadows mutilating and garotting. A rogue who handles a gun as only a rogue can – silenced, from the shadows. A hunter who … uhm … who rolls need on everything; “It could be useful, allright!?”. Sorry about that last slur. My mind wandered.

One or two abilities, no more, from existing classes, intertwined, intermingled. One big screaming family of cross-educated heroes and insane murderers!

A fourth specs few new abilities:
This is completely integrated with the last point of interest – Make a fourth spec conditional. Now, what exactly is the condition? This, my friends, is la piece la resistance: A new Hero Class – MERCENARY.

The mercenary – a conditional fourth spec:
The condition is once you’ve hit level 90 (and possibly reached an iLvl threshold) you get the option of turning Mercenary. A Mercenary class would work for a short period of time: say as long as a questchain (of dailies or weeklies) is still in progress. Or B) by paying a (large) amount of gold – say 50 000 gold – to an NPC and thereby gaining a timed debuff lasting for instance, a month. The Hero Class would become a goldsink. I think a much needed goldsink at that. The Mercenary have the ability to work with any faction.

A human warrior turned mercenary would get a “merc debuff” rendering the warrior unattackable by the Horde for as long as the debuff is active. The human warrior would also be unable to attack any Horde (even om PvP realms). You, the human mercenary, can pick up any and all Horde quests you like as long as you operate as a mercenary. The same goes for Horde who venture into the Alliance territories. A mercenary might not be well liked, some would even consider them a traitor – but money doesn’t smell.

The debuff could last as long as you don’t hand in the mercenary quest that bought your services. That way we could finally play through Silverpine as worgens – even as Alliance. That way we could get some much needed help against the Defias – by orcs, no less. Or whoever. The possibilities for an enriched gaming experience are endless. Or so I like to think. Just be careful not to loose the debuff.

Once you’ve accepted a career as a mercenary, the Fourth Spec becomes active. You will gain a few new abilities tailored for a Mercenary alone – plus whatever cherrypicked abilities the spec otherwise contains.

Would a Mercenary class be “optional”? Only until it became Mandatory (2 seconds after it’s been known, the cynic in me says). Excluding the raiders – would it be cool and fun for everyone else? You bet! Because, you know. Imagine the grizzled warlock veteran who’s fought both Gods and Demons, stumbling out of the hut where the contract was signed … shaking the head, muttering:

“I know kung fu!”

– – – – –
Other bloggers on the topic: Rogue QQRavyn’s Reliquary,  Working Title,  Confessions of an AltoholicIn Moderation, Sportsbard, Power Word: Remix

Draenei in need of love


Ready_and_waiting

Too hot to touch! For three expansions … 

– – – – –

Sorry, I’m prone to ad-lib madness.

INT DEV OFFICE, BLIZARD HQ
Darkness. voices around a far away Basic Campfire.

“Ideas for what’s next?”
“Draeeni?”
“GET OUT!!!” *deep sigh* “Right. Anyone?”
“Let’s torch the world, reboot the whole shabang and call it Cataclysm!”
“And dragons, Mike! UNDEAD DRAGONS!!!”
“Don’t be silly, Sam.”
“But…”
“MAD AND CRAZY GIANT DRAGONS!!! Undead? Ha! Old idea, mate. Soz.”
“Crazy dragons? Yeah … Yeah! That’s how you develop a game!”
“Thank you.”
“Can we have another one, just a toddler? You know what two year olds are like, right?”
“Next x-pac, guaranteed.”
“And paladins?”
“Greg?”
“Paladins would make it unbalanced.”

CUT TO: MISTS OF PANDARIA.

– – – – –

The topic of the week from WoW Insiders Community Blog Topic focus on what faction I’d like to see more of. I have to hand it to you, there was a tremendous outpouring of support for the Big Blue (draenei, that is). And the Furry Friends of Doom (worgen, that is). There was even a gnome-sized pile of support for the Constant Comic Sidekicks (gnomes, that is). I have to say I wholeheartedly agree. Especially in regards to the draenei.

Draenei are the gun on stage.

I have heard about the Big Retcon. I never saw it myself. I came to Azeroth very late, by the end of the Burning Crusade. It wasn’t until shortly after the first patch of Wrath of the Lich king I found my draenei. Retcongate wasn’t much of a big deal for me; I had been, up to that point, a Horde player (mostly blood elves). I wasn’t much of a lore junkie either back then (these days I’m slightly worse). I hardly even knew a world of Warcraft community existed.

Google is my friend here. The short order of the “scandal” is probably known to you. If not this is the gist of it:

In the Warcraft III manual the Eredar was bad. Like, seriously bad. So bad that Sargeras decided to punch them in the face. So he did (apparently). Then comes the Burning Crusade expansion. Draenei, a completely outlandish (pun intended) race appears and we can sum them up with “Once We Were Eredar” (this is also a pun, based on a fantastic movie).

Right now, what we have is this: The seriously bad gangbangers of space, the Eredar, seems to have come out alive on the other side of a cosmic penitentary program and promptly been hired as the Universes SWAT-team (ok, draenei mostly flee but you know, the Cosmos is a vicious ‘hood).

In short: mr Metzen dropped the ball. Since then the lore development team seems to think of said ball as a white hot stone. They can’t touch it, dented egos are too hot to touch, I guess. So they just poke. Carefully … On rare occasions.

(“Ouch!”
“‘sup, Mike?”
“I burned my fingers, Greg!”
“Well, don’t touch those draenei gurls. Dey hot hot hot!”
“Lawls, Greg! Ok, so – about Thrall – balls around the neck, good or bad? Remember who’s paying your salary.”
“Great idea! Art Department, we got a mission for you!”)

Is it true? the Retcongate? Apparently so. Still, you know … I like to think that Blizzard, while owning up to their mistake, have plans for using said mistake in a positive manner. The story itself lends itself to a lot of freedom for new (and potentially insane) ideas.

(“Dragons! Undea–“
“Shut! Up!”)

We have to remember that the backstory of World of Warcraft is an epic story spanning many years of in-game lore. Every expansion we get we see a new chapter opened. I am an optimist so my feeling is this:

Draenei is the gun on stage.

I believe it was Tolstoy who said something along the lines of “if you plant a rifle on stage in Act I you must use it sometime before Act V”. Right now we are at Act V. World of Warcraft is more of a ultrasupermega-opera, one of those Wagner could only dream of.

We are soon upon Act VI. The draenei gun has been on stage since Act II. Use it, mr Metzen. How you use it is up to you. It’s your lore department, all we in the audience can do is speculate. While speculating is fun it’s unlikely much of it will be true in game. So, you know: Our time is nigh! The draenei gun on stage is loaded. It’s ready.

It’s got a great ass and fantastic abs.

– – – – –

Other bloggers on the topic: Corhi, Casually, Sportsbard, Halbert’s Cubicle, The Pixel Lives of Lorelei, Deletrix World of Warcraft Blog, Admiring Azeroth

Velen – or guerilla warfare on a cosmic scale

“The prophet must not be disturbed,” the guard said.
“Yeah, well, you said the same thing ten thousand years ago,” Zavannah said.
“I was just a girl then but seriously? All I want to know is – should I stay or should I go?”
“I’m no prophet, sugarplum, you better ask Velen.”
“I’m trying. Is he free?”
“The prophet must not be disturbed.”
“But … “Zavannah sighed. She was about to say something when a human, probably in is late teens, walked across the platform, made a cursory salute to the guard – and went inside Velens chamber. “Hey!”
The guard smiled, ever so faint. He nodded at the door and chuckled.
“That’s Andy,” he said.
“But!”
“Honey, you don’t have heartbeat. Now bugger off.”
“That’s not very draenei of you, just so you know, you know.”
“I was stationed with a dwarf up in Northrend for two years. I guess he rubbed off on me.”
“Get a bloody beard then,” Zavannah said, turned around and walked away. Halfway through her angry stride she stumbled on someones moth and slid down the crystal walkway belly down.

She tried not to listen to the laughter.

– – – – –

424px-Velen

This weeks community blog topic from WoW Insider ask who our favorite faction leader is. Judging from the comments section there’s strong support for Sylvanas. I can understand why; she’s a strong, ruthless character, one of the few women in World of Warcraft who’s actually more than just a pretty (ass) face to look at. Pity she’s dead.

However, it would be treason of me not to choose “our” (that is, my blueskinned sisters) most glorious if very much absent leader, the prophet Velen. 50 000 years old (or there about) and still kicking. not much salt in that diet, I’ll bet.

Much can be said about Velen and the struggle of the draenei. Most of it boils down to retreat. In fact, of all the faction leaders out there, Velen is the one who applies the hit and run tactic to the fullest.

It’s guerilla warfare on a cosmic scale!

We flee from “safe house” to “safe house” – worlds, that is. It usually involves a lot of collateral damage but that’s the arithmetic of war. It’s not nice. In fact, it’s not very good. Some would probably claim it’s almost … evil.

Velen is the anchor in a universe that’s really lost its marbles. Old gods everywhere, demons all around, elemental planes in a total flux … it’s hard to be on top of it. Unless you’re Velen. While everyone else scamper about like ants his eyes are fixed on the bigger picture. There’s a dire need for people like that in Azeroth. People who not only acts like an acnhor, like a beacon, but also acts as a radar. Sure, Wrathion is down with the spectacular holographic effects of the Burning Legions version of the 101 Airborne, but he’s proven a bit unreliable. Not quite sane (and he’s only two years old).

Not Velen. It’s like, “chill bro, I got this”.

There’s a quote from Blade Runner I come to think of, especially after reading the latest short story about him, the Prophets Lesson“I’ve seen things you men could not possibly understand”. That’s the trouble with a prophet. They are either too smart for the general public, or too weird to take seriously (unless you’re Thrall; everyone except Garrosh loves that … orc). Just think about how the other Alliance faction leaders usually treat Velen: They don’t invite him. They almost ignore him. Truer, he has secluded himself but he is, after all, still a faction leader.

Perhaps it’s uncertainty on the others behalf. It’s probable no one, Tyrande, Varian, all the others, really knows who Velen is. He’s an alien on an alien planet – like all draenei. I imagine there’s a lot of whispered “But can we trust them?” going on during the Strategic Alliance High Command meetings. After all, we draenei used to be Eredar … “demons” for the vast majority of people who can’t tell blue from red.

It’s interesting to see how Velen is passed by in almost all major events. I know, it’s a strict gameplay thing; there haven’t been much story for the draenei ever since the Burning Crusade. But still … In the “meta game” – the lore – Velen also seems to be very reclusive. Save prince Anduin, Velen isn’t someone any of the other faction leaders comes to for advice. That is strange. Who would be better suited than a far-seeing prophet aged 50 000 years? One who once was very, very close to both Archimonde and Kil’Jaeden, two of the most dangerous threats to Azeroths existence?

Anduin must have talked a lot about him, Velen. After all, Velen is Anduins mr Myagi, his sensei, teacher … his savior. It’s troubling – from a lore standpoint – that Velen continues to be the one no one ever cares about. It’s telling – from a lore standpoint – how far down the ladder the draenei actually are. We’re welcome as mercenaries – but as allies? Not so much. Unless … Unless Yeats is right:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”

You know what happens next, no? I’m going for a tiny pinch of poetic freedom here, just to … create some drama.

“And what beast, its hour come around at last,
slouches towards Azeroth to be born?”

That’s the unless. That’s the big kahuna. That’s the riddle hidden in a conundrum, the reason Velen haven’t been used so far – used as the cosmic power he truly is:

The hour of the draenei approaches. come patch 6.0 …

We fight back.