With the Cape of Stranglethorn out of the way, I had just four more zones left for the Eastern Kingdoms Loremaster achievement. They were:
- Eastern Plaguelands 40-45 – 70 quests
- Badlands 44-48 – 35 quests
- Searing Gorge 47-51 – 35 quests
- Burning Steppes 49-52 – 40 quests
And given that my shaman, who had just finished up the Cape of Stranglethorn, had just turned level 40, I was a bit tempted to just keep running with him.
However, I decided to switch characters once again. So far I have used a rogue who ended up at level 61, a monk who now sits at level 57, and my shaman. Now I brought out my warrior, Makarov, who sat at level 46. That seemed to be a bit high level to launch into the Eastern Plaguelands, but I had a reason to fall back on him.
For starters, he laid the groundwork for this Loremaster achievement bid back before I had actually decided to make a go of it. As I leveled him up, he managed to knock out a few of the zones I would have otherwise had to go back and complete, the most immediate of which was the Western Plaguelands. That meant he had a flight point up there. Plus he had a fair start already on the Eastern Plaguelands, having completed about half of the required 70 quests for the zone achievement. That was enough of a head start to seal the deal. It was off to the Eastern Plaguelands with Makarov.
More after the cut, as there are four zones worth of words and pictures.
But first I had to get him back there and figure out where I had left off.
When he was there previously I had just been interested in leveling him up, even equipping him with a couple of pieces of heirloom gear. That meant he started to out level the quest chain in the zone to the point that part way through I just moved on to the Badlands, dumping all of the EPL quests. That meant he had a start on the Badlands as well, but now he had to backtrack and find his place.
The Eastern Plaguelands changed a lot with Cataclysm.
What was once a hardscrabble zone with a story centered mostly around the flight point at the Lights Hope Chapel and outside of Stratholme got a serious make over. The towers that dot the zone, once PvP objectives in yet another Blizzard attempt to have their cake and eat it on the open world PvP front, have all become quest hubs. The story line starts at the border with the Western Plaguelands where you pick up with Fiona, a worgen, and her fellow travelers with whom you move about the zone. The quest chain progresses around the zone counter-clockwise from tower to tower, each of which has its own flight point. Most of the time you travel with Fiona on the back of her wagon.
I thought I had left off around the Eastwall Tower, so picked up the quest line there, continuing around until I finished up at the Plaguewood Tower. That moved well enough, but I was still well shy of 70 quests complete when I wrapped that up. So I went back to Lights Hope Chapel, where I found that I had missed the series of quests that brings the Ruins of the Scarlet Enclave. Running through that picked up at least a dozen quests, but I was still several quests shy of the required 70.
So I started back tracking through the towers to see if there were any quests left undone. I didn’t find any, but I recalled distinctly that I had abandoned the quest where you find the doll for little Pamela in Darrowshire. So I rode down there, but she didn’t have a quest for me.
It was at that point I realized that, having hit level 50, I needed to have the “show low level quests” option turned on. Sure enough, selecting that option showed Pamela’s quest and, when I got back to the Crown Guard Tower, gave me access to at least a half dozen more. At that point I needed two, so picked a pair in the area, finished them up, and got the achievement.
One zone down, with plenty of excess quests left undone. Then it was off to the Badlands.
As with EPL, Makarov had a head start in the Badlands, but I had to mess things up first. I had gotten the quest to go to the Badlands from an NPC at Lights Hope Chapel and, as happens to often, just ran off to get there rather than reading the quest text, which in hindsight I am sure offered me a free ride to the starting point for the zone.
Instead I flew down to Loch Modan and tried to ride to the starting point, which is at the far side of the zone in Fuselight-by-the-Sea, a trip in which I died twice falling off of cliffs. Falling damage is still a thing in Azeroth.
From there I had followed the quest chain back the way I had rode in leaving off at Dustwing Dig, where I now picked up the last couple of quest from that hub. This involved a couple of puzzles in and underground site.
There were only a couple of quests left for me at the site before I was sent along to the final quest hub in the zone at Dragon’s Mouth, which I had a heck of a time reaching and nearly fell to my death yet again. But I got there.
The quest chain from there revolves around you and three dwarven companions which you are assigned. They each have attacks, buffs, or heals that you can activate in something akin to hunter’s pet control bar, which took me about five minutes to notice. The first set of quests with them are just “go use their skills so we know that you saw them” which was a spot on assessment of the situation. Then you are sent off to slay various elite mobs along with various minions.
I could help but think I had seen these three guys somewhere else. Could Blizzard be throwing me yet another out of game reference?
I just want to say that I figured that one out on my own… after staring at them for a long stretch and trying to fit them into some other context.
The quests with them were easy enough, given that I was somewhat ahead of the level curve. There were only a couple of small issues. The first is the norm in many zones in Azeroth, which is that every boss mob seemed to have a queue to kill it. WoW is still popular enough, even in these old zones you could easily bypass by using Dungeon Finder, that single mob choke points can be a pain. But people were good about waiting their turn.
The other issue was one of finding the right path. If you try to reach the last couple of named bosses via the shortest path, you might end up wandering through the Horde quest hub at New Kargath, at which point a level 90 NPC will come out and one-shot you… and flag you for PvP while he is at it. I died to that, then died again because my aggro radius was big enough to attract his attention a second time when I revived.
But I managed to muddle through and upon finishing up the quests with my dwarven viking pals managed to get the achievement.
Then it was a ride across the zone into Searing Gorge.
One of the problems with this zone… and frankly all four zones about which I am writing… is that I maybe did them once back in vanilla WoW and then have done much with them since. So there was a starting set of quests which seemed vaguely familiar, though I thought there was an outhouse quest in the mix back in the day. Then it was off to Thorium Point, the one location I have visited regularly, if only because at one time it was the closest flight point to Blackrock Mountain. A lot of the quests seemed somewhat familiar there as well. Then it was off to the final quest hub iron summit which eventually leads you into the caverns off of the cauldron where, among other things, you steal the pillows of the dark iron dwarves so as to make them sleep deprived.
As with these zones so far, I ended up getting the achievement with a number of quests left to go, including an outhouse key I found in my inventory. So maybe that was a quest after all.
That left me with just the Burning Steppes between me and the Eastern Kingdoms Loremaster achievement.
As usual, I went the wrong way into the zone. I had, at some point, picked up the flight point at Morgan’s Vigil. However, the lead-in quest for the zone sends you to Flamestar Post at the far end of the zone, so I had a bit of a ride to get started. From there the story line started off somewhat bland, with a series of kill and loot quests. Eventually though the story starts to introduce a couple of familiar characters. First John J. Keeshan starts working with you and then, after making your way to Chiselgrip, Colonel Troteman shows up.
Both of these characters were part of the Bravo Company storyline back in the Redridge Mountains. As it turns out, going back to the post where I ran that zone after Cataclysm, I did it with Makarov who, at the time, was a low level warrior. I found it somehow appropriate that I was able to return to the same set of characters with my same guy after nearly three and a half years.
Of course, things got silly at that point. You are there to help Colonel Troteman undermine the Twilight Cultists and the Black Dragonflight by infiltrating their organization. So you are given a disguise.
The disguise allows you to move freely amongst the hostiles, as you clearly fit right in with them.
So disguised, you proceed on a campaign of sabotage and assassination to sew confusion and discord amongst the ranks of the enemy and to allow the writers to get in at least one more poop joke.
As with some other examples, the Burning Steppes has been turned into a very story heavy zone, very much in the vein of the changes that went in with Cataclysm. This means you spend a lot less time on general kill and gather quests and a lot more time things related to the story. While I bemoan the loss of some of the old world… the changes to Westfall and The Deadmines still stings… some of these other zones seem much more tied together and fun than they did back in the old days. There was a reason people went to Tanaris and Un-goro Crater more than some of these Eastern Kingdom zones. They were just better tied together in many ways, something Blizzard tried to fix in these old zones with revamped stories and a pretty liberal use of phasing.
Or such is my opinion. I also ran through these four zones maybe once or twice before Cataclysm. I only had two characters over level 60 at that point, not counting death knights, who get to avoid the 1-60 run in any case. So my attachment to them isn’t the same as it was to Westfall or some of the other 1-40 zones that I ran many times.
The zone storyline culminates with the hostiles massed to attack, but in a state of confusion due to your work. The leaders, burnt, distressed, and suffering from gastric disorders, are at a loss as how to proceed. At that point you are given a dragon to fly about nuking the crap out of any concentration of hostiles you can find.
After leaving a path of destruction behind you, and I recommend you spend some extra time bombing the crap out of stuff, as it will clear a path for you for the next operation, you return to Colonel Troteman who sends you out again to assassinate the three leaders of the hostiles in the zone. You don’t get a disguise this time, so there is no free pass to your target. This is a much more old fashioned quest where you must carve a path through your enemies to get to the one guy you need to kill.
Finishing that up happened to be the 40th quest, the last one I needed for both the zone quest achievement and the Eastern Kingdoms Loremaster achievement.
So there I stand. I have one zone left to finish for the Kalimdor Loremaster achievement. The sole remaining zone is Bloodmyst Isle, where I need to bang out 60 quests. Since it is a level 10-20 zone, I already have a fresh Draeni hunter rolled up. He is level 8 now, so I should be able to get him into the quest chain soon enough.
And then it will be time to move on to The Burning Crusade. I am tempted to take some of the characters I have used in the 1-60 quest run to knock that out. I now have a level 61 rogue, a level 58 warrior, and a level 57 monk. However, I do not need all the zones. Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh were completed by one of my druids at some point in the past. So I will have to work this out. Amongst the considerations is whether or not I have enough attachment to some of these zones to want to go through them quest by quest again. That might extend my Summer project well into autumn.