Crucible of Storms Unlocks Today!

Deep beneath Stormsong Valley, and hidden underneath the Shrine of the Storms, an ancient and powerful evil has rested. Waiting for the right moment to reemerge after countless millennia. N’zoth has been described as the lesser of the Old Gods in terms of power, yet what he lacks in other areas he makes up for in cunning. The God of the Deep has been planning something, and making deals with some very powerful individuals. The most well-known is Queen Azshara, who originally made a deal with the Old God after the Well of Eternity imploded and drowned the queen herself and much of the remaining Highborne. Queen Azshara and her Highborne were transformed into the monstrous Naga, where they rebuilt their city and boded their time for 10,000 years… But another entity has taken the forefront recently, one that players who have finished the little intro questline for the Crucible of Storms raid will recognize.

Patiently waiting…

Courtesy of Baernklaw

Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire

Xal’atath is the mysterious artifact weapon that Shadow Priests wielded to fight the Legion during last expansion. After the wound appeared in Silithus, players used the remaining power in all their artifact weapons to stabilize the world and we assumed Xal’atath was lost as well. Surprise, surprise, the dagger winds up in Stormsong Valley in the hands of the Naga. Wielders of Xal’atath knew that the blade occasionally whispered to you, just like Old Gods love to do. That, and the fact that the Black Empire was a vast Old God civilization on Azeroth before the Titans brought order, tells us that Xal’atath is an Old God-like creature. Is she an actual Old God? Does she fight for the same team as them? Who is Xal’atath? We don’t have the answers yet. But this questline, in which we accidentally help and free her, helps to provide answers while giving me a whole lot more questions!

Xal’atath and her vessel

She is clearly a creature of void and very old, if her whispering is to be believed. After the player collects the three artifacts used for a gigantic storm ritual, they are lured to the bottom of the Crucible of Storms for a meeting with N’zoth himself. After Xal’atath delivers the three artifacts and you, “the Opener”, she strikes a deal with the Old God to set her free from her imprisonment. So, was she merely a herald for N’zoth who struck a bargain in exchange for greater power? Was her allegiance to N’zoth only as far as securing her freedom from the dagger? I think that the story is hinting to something else, and that Xal’atath has some big plans of her own. Now that she has been freed, there’s nothing stopping her from doing as she pleases. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see her again soon, because she tells us as much before she departs the Crucible. I have just finished the raid myself which might give us some answers, but really just a lot more questions.

The Crucible of Storms

This is a two boss mini-raid that serves as a good bridge between the faction war of 8.1 and the Naga and Old God-themed story in 8.2. Over the course of the expansion we have received hints and tidbits of Old Gods, just knowing that it’ll be a much bigger deal in the story. In fact, I believe that the faction war is laced with Old God influence and the disorder on the surface of Azeroth is ultimately helping the Old Gods regain power. This raid is excited more than just for the reason of story shift. Crucible of Storms is important because it is N’zoth. After wondering where a gigantic kraken-like Old God could possibly be located, we finally found him resting in the deepest part of the ocean off of Stormsong Valley. It’s fitting that he’s been hiding under a giant stone statue of a kraken, but I guess I thought it a little too obvious. But it’s from the Crucible of Storms that he’s been planning something that he says will change the world. And I believe him.

As we enter his “sanctum” (room with the largest Old God eyeball) and fight the final boss, he tells us that we show promise. That we are going to serve him well and help him achieve whatever his goal is. It’s almost as if he has been waiting for us there, and expected that we’d kill one of his most faithful servants. Uu’nat, Harbinger of the Void, serves N’zoth’s will. What if his ultimate purpose was to be slain by us, the Opener? And then, after the fight, we notice the Blade of the Black Empire is missing. When we alert King Anduin, he expresses concern that Sylvanas has somehow stolen the dagger. With that, she could cause even more damage and keep the faction war going. And what’s the deal with players receiving N’zoth’s gift? Are we walking around Azeroth cursed by the void, unaware that we are the reason for N’zoth’s arrival? The future is uncertain, except that Azeroth might never be the same. And what is the circle of stars?

What did I see?

Clearing BoD – Empire’s Fall

This wing was super fun! I had to cut out a lot of footage for both Opulence and King Rastakhan, both of which were long fights and it took us a while to figure out mechanics (Opulence wiped the floor with us for a while). We did actually defeat Conclave in two pulls, which is funny to me because my guild just cleared them on Heroic and it’s a totally different story. Conclave is one of those fights with a lot of things happening at once, and as time progresses in the fight it seems like it gets easier to mess up or miss a step.

It’s hard to remember that this raid opened at the end of January and that some of my thoughts about certain bosses have changed in all that time. Opulence is definitely one of those bosses. I was really excited to fight him because of the preview we get during the Alliance war campaign where we sneak into the Dazar’alor treasure vault. That, and he drops a golden crown which I am the proud owner of! Opulence is a two-phase fight, with the first phase splitting up the raid in order to defeat two mini-bosses before getting to Opulence. It’s completely possible to skip the two mini-bosses and head straight for Opulence, but then you’d have a ridiculously hard fight against the main boss and two mini-bosses that each have their own sets of mechanics. Although, the phase one bosses were nerfed so it’s easier to imagine people attempting this now.

Anyways, figuring out the logistics of the fight and how to divide the raid for phase one is challenging but Opulence itself isn’t very difficult. I was discouraged by phase one for a while but once we learned the fight and were taking down Opulence like pros, I was having a blast. Now it’s one of my favorite fights and I look forward to it every time we start a fresh run. I thought I liked Conclave at first, but then I just realized that’s because we defeated them pretty easily (on Normal). Compared to Opulence and Rastakhan, Conclave just doesn’t stand out to me.

Rastakhan is a good mix of difficulty and fun. Watching this little story unfold between Bwonsamdi and Rastakhan is still really cool to me, while at the same time the fight has a good difficulty level that fits the two characters. There’s a lot going on in this fight, and getting sucked into the death realm by Bwonsamdi is tricky, but it’s presented in a good way that allowed us to make good progress during each pull. After defeating King Rastakhan, and feeling a bit sad, we all felt like we had fought an epic fight. Onto the third and final wing of Battle of Dazar’alor and, more importantly, the Jaina Proudmoore fight!

Clearing BoD – Siege of Dazar’alor

Siege of Dazar’alor, or wing 1, consists of the first three bosses out of this nine boss raid, and I recorded most of the footage from our first full clear. This video was from the raid’s opening day, January 22nd, and we have since cleared the raid on Normal and are currently making our way through Heroic. I’m getting excited for the mini-raid Crucible of Storms that’s coming out in less than two weeks, and to shift gears into Naga invasions and more story progression.

This wing doesn’t have any of my favorite boss fights, but the one I most liked from this video were the Jadefire Masters. It’s definitely much harder on Heroic and I just can’t seem to successfully execute the Multi-sided Strike mechanic, but I did like the maze during the intermission part of the fight. Having everyone quit fighting to run around a maze while avoiding fireballs is interesting, but the change of pace can also kill you if you aren’t careful. I can’t wait to talk about the video for wing 2, which I’m sure will focus heavily on Opulence and how challenging that was…

My Revelation

Lately, every time I logged into WoW things have felt off. Something was missing for me, or, more specifically, for Aurashot. For years I’ve had a deep fascination with Night Elf history and culture, but therein lies the problem.

Trolls, as you may know, are one of the oldest races on Azeroth. They pre-date Night Elves, who were originally a group of Trolls who settled near the Well of Eternity. So in order to honor Aurashot’s ancestors, I have changed her from a Night Elf of the Alliance to a Troll of the Horde!

Yeah, mon!

I feel so much better now that I’m being true to myself, and experiencing a part of Night Elf culture that I haven’t embraced before. Anduin was a little unhappy, but I had to do what was best for me.

Adjusting to life with tusks and as a member of the Horde has been challenging, but rewarding. Reimagining Aurashot as one of her ancient ancestors was fun, and I have a lot to learn about being a Troll.

Look who I met!!

For now, I still have to get used to navigating an unfamiliar capital city and befriending my fellow Horde. I can’t wait to share my next update with you!