Castle Nathria… A Great Haunt

Nathria was the first raid introduced in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, and also my favorite. With its design heavily taking inspiration from Dracula, and the general gothic theme of vampires, it was a delight to make progress on this raid. The raid encounters were equally delightful – where one boss fight takes place in the middle of a banquet, and the raid group has no choice but to participate in dancing, or die. I love this raid because it’s basically an extension of Revendreth, the zone this raid is located in, and it’s wonderful. While questing in the area, one can’t help but notice the Castle Nathria looming high in the distance.

Clearing Ny’alotha and the Conclusion to Battle for Azeroth’s Raids

What an expansion it’s been. I joined my guild at the end of the Uldir, the first Battle for Azeroth raid, and I’ve been having a blast ever since. Raiding (not in LFR) has added more flavor to a game I already enjoy playing, and it’s strange to think I’ve played this long without joining a raiding guild. Nonetheless, fighting – and dying – our way through the great raids in BfA has been frustrating and an absolute pleasure. Progressing through a raid and refining our strategy until it almost becomes like a dance is satisfying and fascinating to watch in these videos. I’m psyched for Shadowlands and for Castle Nathria to open in November, the first raid in the upcoming expansion – with a gothic Dracula theme!

Back to the current tier though, Ny’alotha was a great raid. From Maut, the boss whose demands for Mana were reminiscent of the cookie monster to The Hivemind, who doesn’t want you to forget that your veins will blister, there were lots of good fights. It’s easier for me to pick out my least favorite fights, which would probably be Drest’agath or Il’gynoth. The fight against N’Zoth was suitably intense and many hours were spent perfecting our strategy until we finally got that sweet Ahead of the Curve raid achievement, which is for players who managed to beat the last boss of a raid in Heroic difficulty before the next raid is available to play in game.

While I eagerly look forward to a new expansion with new encounters to master, I welcome a break for the time being. I’ll enjoy looking back on all the memories I compiled in these videos, but I look forward to what’s to come even more.

A Classic Walk Back in Time

This is likely to be the only post I make on the topic of WoW Classic, but I am very happy with this video and had a great time making it. It was fun to go back and get as close as I could to recreating a memorable – and tedious – moment from Warcraft history. I am a person who is heavily affected my nostalgia, and I definitely felt it when I remade Aurashot as she was about 14 years ago and logged into the Night Elf starting zone of Shadowglen. Even though all the WoW Classic videos that show the original game developers talking about the magic of “coming home” are totally cheesy, there is a bit of magic when you log back into a world that’s as close of a recreation of the original as it’s going to get. It brings to mind the memories that I made and places I got to explore because of this character I made one day in what was, at least at the time, just an MMORPG. In a lot of ways I grew up with this game that at the same time also grew and evolved with each new expansion and story development. Even though I do not see myself playing WoW Classic in any serious capacity, for reasons that I will talk about, the nostalgia effect has definitely worked on me and has brought with it some emotions.

The Point of it All

First off, before I delve into the deeper part of this post, I should probably explain why I made this video. Back in 2005 there were only 2 major continents on Azeroth – Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Each race in World of Warcraft has a starting zone located on one of those two continents, and Eastern Kingdoms has some major hubs like Stormwind City and Ironforge. Now, back in those days, players couldn’t learn the Riding skill until level 40 and even when they did become eligible to ride mounts they had to pay for both the skill and a mount. I don’t remember how much it cost to learn the skill but I believe a mount – say a horse – cost around 100 gold, which was a lot. My point is that being able to get increased movement speed was much more difficult than it is in WoW today. I’m not even going to talk about the mount that level 1 characters can use, although it has decreased speed than a normal mount.

Players who created Night Elf characters and wanted to get over to where Stormwind City and Elwynn Forest was, had to run there on foot from the Kalimdor continent. Many people made this journey at a very low level, much lower than the levels of enemies inhabiting the zones they had to run through. In the video we started our run on fresh level 1 characters, but in usually people waited until about level 5 when they were finished with the beginning tutorial area. PvP added to the danger of this run for players who were on PvP realms, which meant that when they ran through Contested zones they were easy prey for members of the opposing faction. We created characters on a PvP realm for this video but never ran into any Horde, although we were on a low population realm.

We also commonly had to “corpse-run” through the Wetlands zone, which was probably the most dangerous place we had to run through given that enemies there were around level 20. Corpse-running means that every time you die you pick the maximum distance from your body to resurrect, and do that over and over again until you make it out of whatever bad situation you were in. Another thing to note is that aggro range was brutal back in the day, especially for a low-level, and you really had to stick to the road and hope a bad buy didn’t spot you. Once you finally made it to Stormwind, it felt like quite the accomplishment.

The Test

The whole goal of this video was to see if the difficulty of this run in Classic is similar to the one I made many times back then. There are definitely similarities, like how slow and tedious it was, and how big the world seemed when you had to run from one continent to the other. But there were too many differences, like how there weren’t enough enemies close enough to the road to see us, or how some enemies that would attack on sight wouldn’t attack us in Classic unless we attacked them first. There were also only three deaths, which seemed like too low of a number to me. There was only one corpse-run where we had to get far enough away from an enemy, and no Horde waiting by the road to kill weak lowbie characters. Although the Horde thing is understandable since we were playing on a low population server. This run has always been boring, but it was largely uneventful in Classic. The accomplishment this time around for me was when I made the video, and not when we reached our goal of the Human starting zone.

WoW Classic is not Vanilla WoW

Classic was a great idea, and probably a really fun project for Blizzard to work on. I would love to hear stories of the developers and designers trying to recreate a nearly 15 year-old game. But it’s just that – a recreation. Blizzard did a really great job making the game look like it did. There are things they had to approximate, like the old character models. Their game engine has gone through many changes and iterations throughout the years, and those original models couldn’t be replicated. You can tell by looking at the faces and noticing that they look just slightly off. However, it’s not because of any character models that I don’t find myself very interested in Classic.

I will never be able to recreate my sense of wonder and adventure from when I first started playing WoW. Like I said, back then WoW was just a game to me, and I had no way to predict all the memories I would go on to experience. I was a noob, I knew nothing about the game. Even more, I hardly knew how to play an MMO as I was pretty young at the time. I can never “go home” again because that home has changed. My “home” in WoW isn’t a singular place way back in 2005 that I can return to. My home is the place that I have spent countless hours in, and made so many great memories and met so many awesome people. I can’t experience those things again through WoW Classic, and that’s what makes those moments special. I made the video as a funny tribute to an infamous experience back in the day, but even that isn’t the same as I remember it. It never can be, and I’m not blaming Classic for that.

I am happy for those who are having a blast in Classic and have groups of friends leveling characters together. Personally, I’m really not ready to return to the days where I had to buy arrows as a Hunter and resort to melee when I ran out in the middle of a dungeon.

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…

Good Times in Uldir

With BfA’s second raid, Battle for Dazar’alor, opening tomorrow I took the time to compile some footage of some of my experiences in its first raid. I both loved and was frustrated by Uldir, for the right reasons. The fact that the entire raid took place in an ancient Titan testing facility with amazing architecture was awesome, and it had some great boss fights. Among my favorites were Taloc, MOTHER, and Zul. I didn’t consider Zul one of my favorites until relatively recently when I finally understood the fight. That’s where the frustration comes in. After dying countless times without realizing why, I finally understood that the entire first phase of the fight should be focused on the adds that are with him at the start of the fight. There are so many little things going on that seem really complicated if you don’t make a list of what you should be attacking first. Unfortunately Zul is one of the bosses that I don’t have any footage for, so I couldn’t include myself dying hilariously many times. Man, I wish I recorded the first time Zul cast Death Wish on me and forced me to run and jump off the platform. That made me laugh. Deaths, however, are a common occurrence in the video anyways!

I look forward to the next raid, where we get to fight exciting creatures such as Opulence, a golem made out of gold coins and riches, and Jaina Proudmoore. I try to stay away from story spoilers, so I really have no idea what happens during or after the Jaina fight. Dazar’alor does things differently in that Horde and Alliance have bosses unique to their faction only, and we’ll be able to experience the other faction’s bosses by hearing the story of what happened during the fight. During the “story”, we’ll participate in the fight by transforming into the opposite faction.

I’ll keep running Uldir because it’s really fun, and I need to complete my transmog set, but I’m so happy to be able to choose between raids I feel like running. To me, the most fun part of the raid, besides the loot, is learning each boss’ mechanics and the stories behind them. Here’s to some great stories (that don’t involve Jaina dying) ahead!

Warbringers: Azshara is Finally Here!

It is so awesome to finally get confirmation on a part of Azshara’s past that had been long speculated by the community, and hinted at by Blizzard! It was very different from the Jaina and Sylvanas Warbringers videos in that both of those have elements of current events rather than just the past. By now, a lot of people have learned about Queen Azshara and why she’s so important in Warcraft lore but it is great to finally see events published by Blizzard that are definitely canon. Azshara is one of my all-time favorite Warcraft characters, and through her I learned about the story of the Highborne and history of Night Elves as well as the Burning Legion. In case you don’t know about Azshara or why she’s important, I’ll explain!

Way back in history, before Night Elves even existed, a group of Trolls had found their way to a large, mystical lake of scintillating energies. Eventually these Trolls had learned to manipulate the energies of the lake to create magic. After creating a civilization around the lake, referred to as the Well of Eternity, the Trolls’ physical features began to change, and from them evolved the Night Elves. The Night Elves were close with nature and worshiped the goddess of the moon, Elune. However in time, some Night Elves renounced Elune in favor of higher arcane understanding. They became obsessed with using the Well’s energies for greater and greater purposes. These Night Elves became known as the Highborne.

The Highborne were the upper caste of Night Elf society and, in their arrogance, looked down upon all those other Night Elves who weren’t a part of the nobility. Azshara was one such Highborne who became queen and leader of all Night Elven civilization. She shared the opinion of other Highborne in their thinking that they were superior to the others. Queen Azshara was loved by her people for her mastery over magic and her beauty. Azshara was born with bright golden eyes, a trait that Night Elves say predict a great destiny. She was incredibly gifted in magic, and is said to have used her magic to increase her beauty even more, in order to make her people love her that much more.

Azshara was vain, narcissistic, arrogant, and cunning. When the Burning Legion was drawn to Azeroth through the Highborne’s use of magic, she saw an opportunity for greatness. She made a deal with Sargeras, Lord of the Burning Legion, in exchange for even greater power. Many of her Highborne followed her blindly, probably unaware of the full truth of the bargain that had been struck. However many Night Elves fought against her in the War of the Ancients, notably Tyrande Whisperwind, Malfurion Stormrage, and Illidan Stormrage. In the war, where the great Ancients of the forest were called upon to help protect Azeroth, the Well of Eternity was ultimately imploded in order to cut off the onslaught of the demon invasion. We can see what happens after the Well is imploded in the Warbringers video, where Azshara makes a deal with the Old God, N’Zoth. And, for ten-thousand years, Azshara has been under the sea with her Naga building her empire.

So why is someone so obviously evil one of my favorite characters? Because she is not simply evil, but a complex character with good and bad qualities. It is not likely that she cares very much for her people, save for the fact that a ruler needs people to build an empire. She had no problem letting N’Zoth turn them into Naga and become slaves to both his and Azshara’s will. Yet they still love their queen, which means that they are still enamored with her in a way that suggests magic. Azshara is the same person that she has always been inside: a monster. And with the help of an Old God, now she looks the part too.

Yet she is also shown to be very intelligent and cunning, like in Warbringers where she refuses N’Zoth’s initial deal. She is a queen, not a slave. I loved that whole scene of her telling N’Zoth what the deal is, because it is so her. She is strong and doesn’t back down from what her vision is. She wants power and a massive, eternal empire where she will always be on top. That, to me, is what makes her such a good villain. Ever since I first learned about her I knew I wanted to face off against her in a raid, and was increasingly frustrated when they teased us with bits of lore, but no new story. When the Well of Eternity Heroic dungeon came out in Cataclysm I was so happy, and I loved the dungeon, it just wasn’t enough! Hearing about her at Blizzcon 2017, where they finally announced Queen Azshara as a raid boss, was awesome. And, if I wasn’t excited enough, Azshara’s Warbringers video came out and blew me away.

While it will be sad in a way to finally defeat Azshara (as far as I know), it always had to happen. Her reign must come to an end, and when it does it will be quite a significant day for my Night Elf Hunter, as well as Night Elves everywhere. Because of Queen Azshara meddling with powerful forces like the Burning Legion and the Old Gods, much has happened to Azeroth that could have been avoided.

Lordaeron Scenario Gameplay

This scenario surprised me in so many ways and I had a lot of fun doing it! The first time I ran through it, it was hard to focus on something for too long because so much was going on. I lost my mouse cursor a few times amid the other players and NPCs! I think that it would have made more sense not to stretch the pre-patch through three weeks, but Jaina flying in on a ghost ship propelled my magic makes up for some of that! Seriously though, Jaina completely stole the show.

When Sylvanas orders the blight to be spread even though her own troops are still out on the field, it felt terrifying. Trying to keep fighting all the while retreating ever so slowly due to the growing blight was a really cool part of the scenario that I really enjoyed. I love things that have consequences like that, and I can confirm that the blight really does hurt. Those little details really help to make the world feel alive. On he flip side, when playing the scenario as Horde, Sylvanas orders the players to spread the blight themselves. Having played through that on an alt, it felt wrong and made me sad, which is exactly how you’re supposed to feel.

This scenario had a lot of the right things: cool cut scenes, fun mechanics, and emotional moments. I kind of had a feeling that the Siege of Lordaeron was going to be the high point of the pre-patch, but I do wish it wasn’t split up as much. We still haven’t seen the Azshara Warbringers short, which I am really looking forward to! I am hoping that it will be released over the weekend, or even right before the servers go live on launch day, as a kind of shocking precursor to the expansion. Only three more days (for NA players) to go!

I Get a Cold Dose of Reality While Trying Out Warmode

Well that was super scary. Horde everywhere! Clearly I’m on the wrong realm for balanced world PvP. You may be under the impression from this video that I am, in fact, a PvP expert, but I assure you that’s not the case. I haven’t done any PvP since Cataclysm when I farmed that sweet Season 9 set. Yes, I know I should have avenged the tragic death of the one other Alliance member in all of Darkshore (seriously, no Alliance group in sight). Perhaps after I’ve tested the waters more I’ll return with some more confidence, but that day is definitely not today.

PvP is a part of WoW gameplay that I’ve avoided for a long time simply for the reason of RAGE. Getting angry is not something I attribute to having fun in a video game, and in PvP it’s only fun for the brief moment you’re winning until someone pwns you. But because the upcoming expansion is based around faction warfare, I thought I would try it out again. You saw how well that went. I had more fun editing this video and writing up this post than the actual footage, but I’ll probably make a much cooler one in the future! Also, that net thing is totally unfair and I really want one.

Surprise Cinematic “Old Soldier” Released Yesterday!

Man I was not expecting Blizzard to release this right before I went to bed! This cinematic was stunning, and looks like it uses CGI in the same way that the opening to BFA cinematic does. I loved every minute of it, especially the contrast between the seasoned veteran who’s seen it all, and the hopeful young Troll on the eve of his first battle. As an Alliance main, this video made me care more about the Horde perspective of the war. Blizzard has been telling us to “wait and see”, and that not all has been made clear to us yet. The expansion is not even out yet and there is definitely more story to tell. When Blizzard gives answers like that after the outrage of Teldrassil, and even the Horde is mostly upset about those chains of events, it is frustrating to be told to wait. But this cinematic gave us just enough information so that we know that the burning of Teldrassil will not go unanswered, and maybe Saurfang will be the one who rallies the Horde.

After my last post I was left feeling confused and disappointed about the direction that Warcraft lore may be taking, but after this I think that the burning of Teldrassil was meant to create a negative response. Members of the Horde will be able to start fixing their leadership because, let’s face it, Sylvanas and her Forsaken never really fit in, so why would the Banshee Queen becoming Warchief make that any better? Anyways, I have a lot more to say on the subject of the Horde, and Sylvanas, but I’ll make a separate post for that when the time is right. This was a really well done and unexpected video from Blizzard and, even though I main a Night Elf, I care about all sides of Warcraft lore.