Astranaar… shit, I’m still only in Astranaar… Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in Stonetalon. I’m here a weekend now… waiting for a quest… getting softer. Every minute I stay in this zone, I get weaker, and every minute some Warsong grunt squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I look around the mountains move in a little tighter.
-Trianis, nigh elf rogue stuck in Ashenvale
My run for the Loremaster achievement continues. After finishing up Darkshore with my fresh night elf rogue, I decided I should just keep rolling with him into Ashenvale.
If my memories of Darkvale were faded recollections of running up and down a zone over and over, what could I recall about Ashenvale? A series of uninspired quests at the start, with nagas and Blackfathom Deep to your right and furbolgs on your left. At the far end of the zone, satyrs, the Warsong lumber camp. In the middle that lake with the water elementals. And in the middle, Astranaar.
I mostly remember running back and forth to Astranaar.
The zone hasn’t changed all that much. Sure, there is a great big patch of it on fire in the middle now… that seemed to be one of the key Cataclysm theme, let’s set thing on fire. But otherwise the scenery looks about the same.
There are some new quest chains in the zone that help sew the whole thing together and make sure you move from place to place. Some of the Cataclysm themes, like Garrosh Hellscream is a jerk, are present in the new quests, and at a couple of places they set up an interesting conflict. I like the quests around Warsong, where the Horde and Alliance quest chains are working at cross purposes.
More after the cut.
If you have only run the quests for one faction, you might not notice that whole “cross purposes” thing, but since I actually ran through the zone, along with Stonetalon Mountains and the South Barrens last summer when my daughter and I came back to WoW and decided to play Horde for a bit on the Garona server, before the whole instance group decided to get back into Azeroth.
As such, I was able to appreciate that many of the quests in the area involved undoing or thwarting the quests for the other side. Pretty amusing, to me at least. And thus balance was preserved.
Of course, there are a bunch of old quests still hanging around. You still kill nagas and furbogs and satyrs and water elementals and what not. The satyr camp was an interesting flashback for me, as I recall the quest line there being really difficult, or at least painful. But this time I zipped through pretty quick. Of course, rogue stealth helps, as does being a level or two up on the NPCs, but I have to think something got trimmed there.
As an aside, the official best mount you can get to help out your alts is the azure water strider. You have to get to exalted with The Anglers in Pandaria… and that bastage Nat Pagle totally doesn’t remember you or all the help you gave him back in Theremore Bay… but it is worth the effort to have a mount hand that runs on the surface of water.
It won’t let you avoid bad guys directly. If you are in combat, surface tension is broken and the water strider loses its ability to walk on water. But as a way to just speed along, it is tough to beat. It makes some coastal areas into easy highways.
Anyway, things went well and I belted through the 70 quests for the zone easily enough. There are a lot of “go talk to…” quests on the lists that help swell the total number of quests. Unlike Darkshore, where I was scrambling to find that last quest for the achievement, in Ashenvale I was only part way into the Warsong area quests when I got the achievement.
I had also dropped a couple of quests along the way that I couldn’t seem to get going, including one about gnomes from over at Stardust Spire, along the southern edge of the map. There were more than enough quests to go around.
I capped off a couple more in Warsong for fun, then headed back to Stardust Spire, as that also turned out to be the path into the next zone, the Stonetalon Mountains.
Do I have to mention that I have few good memories of that zone as well? Kalimdor was a bust for me back in the day. I am not sure I have much good to say about it until I hit the Mirage Raceway and Tanaris. No wonder I don’t have the achievement for doing the quests in so many of these zones.
Much has changed though, so I guess Cataclysm wasn’t all bad. I made it to Stardust Spire and wandered into the Stonetalon Mountains looking for the first quest. I had not gotten any sort of lead-in quest, but I figured I would just pick up the first quest on the spot. You can do that in most zones.
But the Stonetalon Mountains is not most zones.
After a while I gave up and started searching the internet for the lead-in quest. There is one. You need it to start the quest chain. Without it you are hosed. The pain of a very story heavy zone I gather. As it turned out, the prerequisite for the lead-in quest was one of the quests I dropped in Ashenvale, one called They Took our Gnomes.
As it turns out, this quest seems to get bugged.
If everything has spawned correctly, you just have to find a wagon being hauled around the Horde camp. It has the gnomes in the back and a named NPC to kill. Killing him releases the gnomes and the quest is done. Easy stuff. Unless the wagon, the gnomes, and the named NPC do not spawn, in which case you just have this angry looking kodo, harnessed up to haul, wandering around the camp with no wagon in sight.
So the quest wasn’t happening.
According to multiple sites, the way out is to either wait for a server reboot… as happens during Tuesday maintenance… after which the whole thing will likely spawn correctly. You just have to get there before it gets messed up again. Or you can petition and a GM will just flag the quest objectives as complete and you can move on.
Since it was Saturday afternoon, I decided to go the petition route. Average wait time for a petition was 18 hr 22 min, but there were other things to do on Saturday, so I left it at that.
Sunday I awoke to find a response to my petition. The GM in question said he hadn’t heard that anything was wrong with the quest, suggested that I drop the quest and pick it back up again, and that if I continued to have problems that I should look into the WoW forums or sites like WoWHead or WoW Wiki. Straight up:
This quest has not been noted to being broke.
Okay, not every GM is going to know every detail about every quest. But this quest is literally noted as having problems on every site I checked, including the WoW forums, something which I mentioned as part of my initial petition. I did not explicitly list out the sites, I just put in WoWHead as an example, so I replied and pointed to all the sites I could find that mentioned the issue and the same two ways it could be addressed. Then I asked nicely if something could not be done about this because I was working on the Loremaster achievement and if the quest didn’t work I could not get into the Stonetalon Mountains.
After sending that off, I was sure I had another wait. I ran off to the South Barrens to start the quest chain there, but it was a little rough. I was a few levels below the mobs, so my aggro radius for them was pretty big, and a lot of the early quests involve wading into heavily patrolled areas. So while stealth could get me into the areas, breaking stealth inevitably lead to getting mobbed by mobs. And while rogues now have, much to my surprise, a self-heal skill, but it is a slow one for between battles really, so being otherwise kind of squishy, I died a bunch of times before moving on to something else with another character.
When I got home from work on Monday I had a response to my petition from an abashed GM who acknowledged what I pointed out and flagged the quest objectives as complete so I could move on. I turned in the offending quest and got the lead-in to the Stonetalon Mountains. I wandered in to find that first NPC.
And I went the wrong way. I went down the path to the horde camp. There is another little path through an arch that leads to the first alliance quest.
As far as I can tell, the Stonetalon Mountains were completely redone with Cataclysm. and, if like me, you enjoyed the Alliance/Horde quest lines working at cross purposes in Warsong, then the Stonetalon Mountains are good, because it is almost entirely made up of quest lines try to thwart each other. As with Warsong, if you have only done one side of the zone, this might not be apparent, but when you start in on the opposing side, it can be quite amusing.
Some times the quests are just parallel. For instance, the starting Alliance quest has you shooting down Horde fliers, the flip of later Horde quest.
Interestingly, both of those shooting quests have a similar issue in that the guns are placed in such a way that a significant amount of the aiming arc appears to be clear, but shots will explode on the ground as you shoot as if you were aiming too low. Given that a large percentage of targets are in the lower, blocked aiming arc, that takes some of the joy out of the quest.
At other times you are clearly working against the other side. There is a point on the horde side when you fly off in a balloon… well, there are several times when you do that actually, balloon quests being to Cataclysm specifically what poop quests are to WoW as a whole… to drop some bombs. On the Alliance side of things, you actually go in and steal the balloon, fight off the handlers, and set it ablaze.
That doesn’t keep it from showing up later, but the Horde is clearly mass producing these things.
And this opposition continues throughout the zone, ending with the Horde trying to put down the Grimtotem tribe while the Alliance is inciting them against the Horde and supplying them with arms. And the zone has enough quests that it doesn’t appear you’ll have to spend time looking for missed quests. I was only partially into the Grimtotem part of the story when I got the achievement.
I finished up the quest line to see how the story turned out and was rewarded with a piece of blue gear that was a decent upgrade. And I found the zone to be quite fun. If you don’t like the Cataclysm focus on making zones more story focused, or if you had fond memories of the old version of the zone, then you probably won’t like it all that much, but for me it was all good. I came out of the zone on such a roll that I went and knocked out the South Barrens quests as well.
So I have put a big dent in my Loremaster summer project, at least as far as Kalimdor goes. If my rogue doesn’t level up too fast… being up a few levels does naturally slow you down a bit, and he doesn’t have any exp boosts aside from the level 25 guild ones… I will send him on through Desolace, Feralas, Thousand Needles, and Felwood. I am liking the rogue enough for that. Meanwhile my panda monk is almost done with Un’goro Crater and will head to Winterspring after that, which will finish off Kalimdor.