The World of Treecraft

World Trees, trees grown massive through the help of magic, are important to the Night Elves for a variety of reasons. Aside from just being a beautiful thing to behold, they help connect Azeroth to the Emerald Dream and the first World Tree granted the Night Elves immortality at one time. Elves and Druids alike rest under their massive branches and, as we’ve seen with Teldrassil, one was once the seat of an entire race’s civilization. Battle for Azeroth started with the burning of a World Tree that was supposed to symbolize the dying of hope but, as Saurfang said, you cannot kill hope.

Nordrassil

Nordrassil as it stands today

Nordrassil translates to “Crown of the Heavens” and was the first World Tree. Nordrassil was planted after the War of the Ancients, the huge war that began after the Burning Legion was drawn to the Well of Eternity and invaded Azeroth through the help of Queen Azshara. In the ensuing battle the Well of Eternity imploded, but before that Illidan Stormrage managed to fill a few vials from the Well. After the War of the Ancients was over Illidan went to Mount Hyjal, a sacred Druidic land, and poured a vial filled with waters from the Well into a large lake, intending to create a second Well of Eternity.

When the other Night Elves found out they were furious, and decided to plant a tree in the middle of the lake that would eventually soak up the lake. That tree, infused with Arcane energies from the Well of Eternity, grew so large that its branches seemed to touch the heavens. The great Dragon Aspect Nozdormu, Lord of Time, blessed the tree with immortality. And so, the Night Elves were immortal for around ten thousand years until the Burning Legion made its second invasion during the Third War. Archimonde the Defiler, one of Sargeras’ most trusted lieutenants, sought to once again claim the Well of Eternity’s power. In order to defeat Archimonde, Nordrassil’s power was unleashed and, in doing so, the Night Elves’ immortality was lost. After the Battle of Mount Hyjal, the Night Elves struggled to pick up the pieces and return to their lives.

Teldrassil

I couldn’t fit the entire tree in one picture

Seeking to restore the Night Elves’ immortality, a Druid named Fandral Staghelm took a seed from Nordrassil and buried it deep in the ocean off the shores of Darkshore. Indeed, the tree grew to a massive size and Night Elves built their capital city of Darnassus atop its branches and resettled there. This new World Tree became a stable home for the Night Elves, but their immortality was not restored. Teldrassil is the starting zone for new Night Elf players and the first area of the game they become accustomed to.

Rut’theran Village, a village among Teldrassil’s roots

Teldrassil was burnt and evacuated at the start of the Battle for Azeroth, during the War of Thorns. Night Elves and Gilnean refugees alike fled the burning tree, but in the end there were massive casualties. Night Elves are now living in Stormwind City and again trying to pick of the pieces of their lives and continue on. Many have joined Tyrande Whisperwind’s Army of the Black Moon, where they have turned to the more vengeful side of their goddess Elune. The Night Elves’ future is uncertain, and there is definitely a lot of story left to tell with what happens next. I personally would like a newly remodeled and updated Teldrassil that serves as a questing zone, where players help replant a new World Tree.

Teldrassil post-War of Thorns

Vordrassil

This one was another failed World Tree, except it couldn’t even be used as a home. Vordrassil was planted in Northrend long ago, where an Old God also slept deep below the earth. The Old God Yogg-Saron corrupted the tree’s roots and ancient Night Elf Druids could sense the corruption taking hold in Vordrassil, and they ultimately destroyed the World Tree. Players that journey to Grizzly Hills in Northrend can still see the remains of Vordrassil strewn across the zone. In fact, the stump of Vordrassil is home to a tribe of Furbolgs and at the very bottom of the tree there appears to be a World Tree sapling taking root.

This tree has been growing since 2010, it should be much bigger!

The first time I went to Grizzly Hills and saw Vordrassil I was awestruck by the scene of a broken World Tree. However, with a sapling growing in the center of the dead Vordrassil there may yet be hope for Teldrassil.

Shala’drassil

Another World Tree located in Mount Hyjal, this one had a much worse fate. Shala’drassil once served as a link to the Emerald Dream and was much beloved by Night Elves, like all World Trees, but it became corrupted after the emergence of the Emerald Nightmare. Now it appears as a gnarled, nightmarish shadow of its former self.

Nordrassil is considered the only “true” World Tree since it blessed the Night Elves with immortality and every other tree since has failed to do so. Yet, the stories and history behind these other trees are intriguing and important in their own way. The Battle for Azeroth began when Sylvanas Windrunner gave orders to have Teldrassil burned. My hope is that since the Fourth War has ended in peace (for now) between the Horde and Alliance, a new sapling will be planted and Teldrassil’s story will come full circle.

This post is my way of remembering what happened and hoping that Blizzard will create a cool story for the Night Elves with all of this extra material. I am especially excited for BlizzCon this year, with a new expansion announcement among other games seemingly also getting big announcements.

Azshara’s Eternal Palace Wings Two and Three

My guild’s progression through Eternal Palace has been a blast, and this video has more fun and interesting fights. From this (long) video, my favorites are Orgozoa and Lady Ashvane. Part of the excitement of Orgozoa’s fight for me is that his model looks really cool, and he’s one of the neatest-looking bosses yet that I’ve pried loot from. I like the second phase, where the boss takes off down the ramp, and players have to quickly yet deliberately run through a mine field of eggs and magical projectiles. We started making it into a competition to see who can run down the ramp the fastest, and I’ve found that usually I’m one of the last. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race!

Lady Ashvane is a weird one for me, because on Heroic difficulty it’s totally different. So even though I bring mixed feelings from the time we struggled with Ashvane on Heroic, it’s a fun fight on Normal. I like the part when random players get symbols above their head and go break the coral that spawns around the boss room. The other fights in this video were all great, it’s just that some of them were way more intense and I had less time to appreciate them. Namely, the last two fights with Za’qul and Queen Azshara herself.

The fight with Azshara is long and dramatic, and filled with lore tidbits, as could be expected. It was a good fight, I just think the first phase (with Aethanel and Cyranus) was unnecessary and could have been replaced with something cooler. Like, say, Azshara showing off her magical prowess. You might not know it from the fight alone, but Azshara is one of the most gifted sorceresses on Azeroth. I was disappointed that she spent much of the fight attacking the raid with her spear, instead of doing some cool magic stuff like the Jaina Proudmoore fight from Battle of Dazar’alor. Despite this, the fight was still epic and defeating Azshara was an accomplishment.

Overall, I really enjoyed this raid. It looked beautiful and all the boss fights were really well done. I do wish that more of the bosses were call-backs to old Night Elf lore, but who would they have chosen for this raid? Xavius, once the advisor to Azshara, has already been defeated in last expansion’s raid (The Emerald Nightmare). This raid felt different than Battle of Dazar’alor, though, as it seemed to hold less lore significance in a way. In BoD the whole raid was telling the story of the progression of the War Campaign, through the perspective of both Horde and Alliance. The whole raid felt like an epic battle, and ended on pretty epic notes.

To be fair, BoD and Eternal Palace had different stories to tell. BoD told the story of the Alliance (from my perspective) charging into battle together to confront the King of Zuldazar. There was a real sense of togetherness in BoD. In Eternal Palace, it’s the complete opposite. We are infiltrating this dark, nightmarish place deep in the inky ocean to confront a Queen who has long been hidden from us. In a way, we all stand alone as N’zoth is released from his prison despite our best efforts. At that moment our story becomes one of solitude and fear, each of us now living in a world with a freed Old God who could be anywhere. The ending of Eternal Palace is a stark contrast from the bright lights and shining gold of the previous major raid.

The First Wing of Azshara’s Eternal Palace

Battle for Azeroth’s third full raid came out in Patch 8.2, which ended with confronting Queen Azshara herself. These first three bosses in the eight-boss raid were fun and unique. The most unique fight being the second boss, Blackwater Behemoth, being that it’s a fight done completely underwater. I was excited for that fight and how it would work, but it ended up not being as cool as I hoped it would. In reality, moving around in water is clunky and awkward, and it’s hard to make a super-awesome fight from that. The good news is that the Blackwater Behemoth fight is the only one that I didn’t really find fun. My favorite fight from this video is probably Radiance of Azshara, and even though there are a lot of frustrating times (those tornadoes, mostly) the mayhem of it all can be a blast.

The End of the War Campaign… The Beginning of Something Else

Content update 8.2.5 went live on September 24th in North America and brought with it the conclusion to the long-running arc that was set in motion after the burning of Teldrassil. The update came with a couple of fantastic cinematics to tie up the story, but mostly I was left with questions. While 8.2.5 was the end of the war campaign, it’s now clear to the players that there are many other things happening behind the scenes that I’m guessing will become the main story focus in 8.3 and beyond.

The Future of the Horde and Alliance

During the first cinematic, called “The Negotiation”, Anduin meets with Saurfang in secret to ready for the coming battle, but also to inquire about the future of the Horde. Saurfang talks about how the Horde was built on dishonor, thus the problems and conflict among their rank, but the future of the Horde has a chance to change all that. Right now there is an uneasy peace, or, as the soldier NPCs call it ingame – ceasefire- between the Horde and the Alliance. Many wonder if it will last with all the fighting and actions that have been committed by both sides over the course of the expansion (looking at you, Teldrassil and Undercity).

Saurfang’s funeral

My guess is that it won’t last, because this game is built on conflict and the faction system . Although I can hope for a relaxing of those factions, especially seeing as the Forsaken have been left by Sylvanas. Many will remain loyal to her, but some might want to follow the newly-undead Calia Menethil, who was the Princess of Lordaeron. Lordaeron is the place that many of the original Forsaken come from, and still picture themselves as citizens of the city.

I also know that the game can’t keep on injecting points of conflict for the Horde and Alliance just to see them fight, it gets old. It’s getting old for me, and I think that the conclusion to the war campaign was a good end for any major Alliance/Horde conflict. I’d like to see them work together more (because they have in the past), but still have a distinctly Horde and Alliance faction line. It would be cool if members of one faction could join the other, like Blood Elves or Nightborne. I know the Alliance have Void Elves now, but I would love to see Blood Elves and Nightborne switch sides. Basically I want all Elves to be in the Alliance.

Tyrande and Vengeance

The (former?) High Priestess of Elune and leader of the Night Elves was pointedly absent from the final war campaign battle in Durotar. In her place was Shandris Feathermoon leading some Night Elf archers and Sentinels, though it was a small force. After the burning of Teldrassil, it really doesn’t surprise me that not many Night Elves – or even Tyrande herself- showed up to support Saurfang’s rebellion. But a deeper problem is hinted at with Tyrande when Anduin says he fears that she has been consumed by vengeance. Ever since Tyrande underwent the ritual of the Night Warrior and became the avatar of Elune’s wrath, she’s gone rogue. Who knows if she’s in her right mind, but she’s definitely focused on getting justice for Darkshore and all of the Night Elves.

We need a questline, maybe next expansion or the pre-patch to 9.0, revolving around Tyrande and the abilities she’s been granted by Elune. The Night Warrior is still a mystery, and we don’t know the long-term effects of channeling the wrath of a goddess (or whatever she actually is). My dream is for Blizzard to remake Teldrassil, like they did Darkshore, and for players to go back there and assess the damage. Then, in the process, learn more about the nature of Elune. I can only hope that the burning of Teldrassil is going to lead to a big story arc with Elune and the Elves, because otherwise it seems like a waste. And Tyrande isn’t going to like the new peace with the Horde, which will hopefully lead to more story involving her. The fact that Teldrassil wasn’t really dealt with in this expansion leads me to believe its a setup for future story.

Sylvanas and Death

Horde players who remain Sylvanas loyalists through the whole war campaign get to see a special ending in the Ghostlands, where Sylvanas escapes to after the Saurfang cinematic. Sylvanas lets slip that she is gathering souls and that the whole point of the war was a large body count. Obviously she is an undead creature and serves Death, but she talks about it like its a person or creature. It sounds like she’s serving Death, and she has a deal with it to create more souls.

The Shadowlands is a part of WoW not really talked about in detail, but we know that it’s a realm that mirrors our reality like the Emerald Dream. Will we go there and find whoever Sylvanas serves? I hope so, because I’m curious what the Shadowlands would look like and how it would tie into Old God/Void stuff. In the comic with the Windrunner sisters, it is hinted that Void fears Death or at least that they’re opposing forces. Yesterday I saw that an encrypted 8.3 build is being added to the PTR soon. I wonder how many of these things will be set up for 9.0, and if our questions will be answered or just replaced with more questions.