Category Archives: World of Warcraft

SuperData Sees WoW Rising and Crusader Kings 3 Holding On

SuperData Research published their monthly digital revenue chart for October so it is time to see what is up in video games.  As has become almost standard so far in 2020, their report opens up with another statement about how much video game revenue is up over the previous year.

  • Consumers spent $10.6B on digital games in October 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Consistent with ongoing trends, console spending grew the fastest, with earnings up 18% over 2019. This was especially impressive growth given that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched in October 2019 and many of the biggest titles of the 2020 holiday season were not released until November. Earnings on other platforms rose as well, with mobile up 15% and PC up 10%.

Again, people staying home, or trying to, has led to more consumption on the video game front.

And then there is the chart itself.

SuperData Research Top 10 – October 2020

On the PC end of the chart the usual top four remain in place, swapping spots but otherwise the same crowd as always.  But in fifth position, or the first actually competitive position most months, World of Warcraft shows up.  This is not unexpected as the warm up for the Shadowlands expansion was in play.

Then there is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in sixth and Roblox in seventh spot.

And then we find Crusader Kings III still on the chart for October in spot eight.  It is down from fifth spot last month, but the surprise is that it stayed on the chart at all.  Games that are not online subscription or cash shop based tend to peak quickly and fade, usually just appearing for a single month.  But CK3 breaks the mold again.

That is followed by Fornite and Valorant, while World of Tanks fell off the list again.

On the console column, NBA 2K21 tops the list, followed by FIFA 21.  And down at the bottom of the list is Grand Theft Auto V.  It has been a regular on the list since it began, can it hold on much longer?

And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go is back at the top of the chart.  It passed the 4 billion dollar total revenue mark during the summer and just keeps on going.

Then there is Genshin Impact, which made both the console and mobile charts.  SuperData has a bullet point about it:

  • Genshin Impact from miHoYo was October’s highest-grossing game. The title, which was released on September 28 on mobile, PlayStation 4 and PC, is an unprecedented international success for a game made by a Chinese developer. Genshin Impact features monetization mechanics commonly found in mobile games like collecting characters through gacha (where users pay for the chance to get random in-game items) and limited-time events. However, gameplay inspired by console role-playing games and action-adventure titles attracted players who may have avoided mobile gacha games in the past.

Last months number one, Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, carried on in third position in October.

Perennial list member Candy Crush Saga held on another month, securing seventh position.  And down at the bottom of the list is Honour of Kings, which had a run in first place for much of this year.  Still, don’t cry for its fall, being in the top ten overall still means it is probably raking in the bucks.

Other bullet points from the SuperData report:

  • FIFA 21 sold 1.5M digital units. Compared to the launch month of FIFA 20, launch month digital sales and revenue were both up (1.2M vs. 1.5M for sales). However Electronic Arts had a significantly shorter launch month period in which to sell FIFA 20 since it was released only at the end of September, while FIFA 21 went on sale at the start of October.
  • Watch Dogs: Legion from Ubisoft broke franchise records, selling 1.9M digital units.  Even though the game was only on sale for the final three days in October, its first month sales were significantly higher than Watch Dogs 2, which was released on November 15, 2016 and sold 431K digital units. The latest game likely benefited from several free giveaways of Watch Dogs 2 earlier in 2020, which built up the franchise’s audience.
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from Activision Blizzard sold 402K digital units, a smaller total than recent remakes of titles in the franchise. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy sold 520K digital units in June 2017 (it released on the last day of the month), while Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled sold 552K copies in June 2019. There was likely less pent-up demand for Crash 4 and the title was also released during a more crowded release period than its predecessors. First-month earnings were, however, the highest of modern Crash games since Crash 4 launched at a standard $59.99 price point instead of $39.99, like the recent remakes.
  • Star Wars: Squadrons sold 1.1M digital units in October, putting it ahead of the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II (1.0M) and behind Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2.9M).
  • The Star Wars IP attracted a sizable audience to the title even though it belonged to the niche space combat subgenre. In contrast to Crash 4, Squadrons earnings were lower than those of other modern Star Wars games given its lower $39.99 price.
  • SuperData will now regularly be reporting on the performance of game subscription services, which give users access to a library of premium titles at a fixed monthly price. Publishers and platform holders have invested heavily in Netflix-style subscription services in order to generate recurring revenue. SuperData is currently covering Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now and EA Play.* Combined revenue for these services in October was up 142% year-over-year and subscriber numbers rose 113%. Xbox Game Pass accounted for the majority of growth in both cases.

Punching Sheep with Marshal Windsor

It was time to return once more to Blackrock Depths and to continue our adventures there.

Blackrock Depths map

Last time we successfully finished the Franclorn Forgewright quest which gave us the Shadowforged Key.  That gave us some options going into this week.  Our group was:

  • Viniki – level 55 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 55 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 55 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 54 gnome mage

We assembled at Thorium Point and ran over to the mountain, down the chains, through the mine, and into the instance.

Into the mountain

With the Shadowforged key, we were able to head off to the left and through the locked door.

New paths available

We decided to make Marshal Windsor’s quest our goal for the run, which meant defeating General Angerforge and Golem Lord Arglemach, who are at points 13 and 14 on the map above.  As to how to get to them… well, it was a good thing Skronk remembered or had done some research, because the map is pretty bad at showing the various elevations in the instance.

We headed through the gate, to the right, and up into a side door that put us behind the Ring of Law.  There we had to get around to a large gear assembly which would deploy a bridge across the Dark Iron Highway and give us access to our targets.

The bridging gear

We managed to clear that area and deploy the bridge.  We then started working our way towards our targets.  We moved pretty quickly and even managed to bypass one group, and successfully avoided bumping into them by accident later, which was what happened to us last time.

And this was kind of key as we would walk past that group a few times.

Our first bit of trouble was a group of four, two fire elementals and two Dark Iron Dwarves, one of which was a healer.  We decided to kill the healer first, but the elementals hit very hard and I went down suddenly on a crit and we ended up wiping.

We released and ran back and finished them off, but things got out of control again with the next group and another wipe happened.

Viniki and Ula down as the wipe progresses

The fire elementals hit hard, but this also did not bode well for the upcoming fights.

General Angerforge was just down the steps from the elementals, so we made sure to clear them all as well as the groups that were off to either side of the general.  We then got ourselves ready to go.

Ready for Angerforge

Angerforge has a group of non-elites with him that are fairly easy to kill.  Then, when he is down to low health, he summons another group.  Our plan was to freeze and burn the initial non-elites, which went well.  We then burned down Angerforge until he called for help.  At that point, as his team ran in, I lit off my AOE taunt, which has a 10 minute cool down, so I use it only at need.  The plan was to get them all on me, do more freeze and burn, and finish off Angerforge.

My taunt worked.  All the mobs ran to me… and beat the crap out of me, killing me.

Viniki down again

This ended up as a wipe, but we managed to bring down General Angerforge before the last of us died.  We released and ran back to the instance and kept going straight back to the scene of the fight.  I had some unlooted mobs disappear after a previous wipe, so wanted to get back just in case.

We were in luck.  His helpers had disappeared, so we were able to loot the first item for Marshal Windsor.  Then it was across the way to the Manufactory and Golem Lord Arglemach.

Into the Manufactory

Golem Lord Arglemach was straight ahead, but we went about and cleared out the whole area before heading to him.  He will call any left for help.  So we proceeded with care, pulling individuals and groups.  They are mostly non-elite, but there were some elites mixed in.  And once that was done we turned to face Arglemach.

Arglemach waits

He has two golem helpers with him.  A quick check of the fight suggested that we kill the golems as quickly as possible, then finish off Arglemach.  Our first run was fast.  I pulled Arglemach and he and the golems came at me, and beat me down with a 1,500 burst of damage.  It was a quick wipe.

Viniki down in seconds

But we did learn a few things.  The first was that Arglemach unleashes some lightning attacks that are nature based.  We all had two nature resist potions on us.  So the next run we took the potions to reduce damage from Arglemach, and set to slay the golems first again.  And we did fairly well, we managed to get both golems down, but didn’t have enough left in the tank to finish the boss.

Helpers down, Arglemach still up

That didn’t further our cause though, as the golems just loaded back again after the fight.  You have to kill Arglemach or you get nothing.  So we looked at the combat log again and decided we needed to kill the golem tossing fire balls at us first.  He was doing the most damage.  So we took out potions again, focused on the fire golem, and then I shot him to start the fight.  And he just stood there launching fire balls while Arglemach and the other one ran at us.  I panicked and ran to the target golem and got out of healing range of Skronk and died quickly.

Barely scratched them this time

The fight happened so fast that Moronae didn’t even get a hit in, so was able to stealth and hide without dying.  He popped his combat ress on Skronk, who in turn was able to ress Ula and I, saving us the run back.

At this point we had blown our nature resist potions.  Skronk still had one extra for me, and Moronae still had his up, since he didn’t die.  So we lined up for our fourth run.  It was starting to feel like we were not going to be able to get past this boss.  But we had another go in us.  We planned to all bring it to the fire ball golem this time, to get him down fast.  Then the second golem, and then Arglemach.  So in we went.

And this time it worked.  We got the first golem down fast, then the second, and had plenty of gas left in the tank for Arglemach.  He went down and we were able to collect the other piece for Marshal Windsor.

Golem Lord Arglemach down at last

That done, we went back out the way we had come and set about clearing the big open area between the detention block and the instance exit in anticipation of having to having to finally escort Marshal Windsor out of the dungeon.

We did that and started down the detention block, clearing as we went.  We got in over our heads at one point when, working on a group of four, Ula mis-targeted and brought the next group down on us as well.  And then a group of dogs patrolling the detention block walked into range and joined the fight.

Things looked bad.  But somehow we managed to pull it off.  Skonk and I used every skill that had a long cool down to keep going, and Moronae died at the end of the fight, but in the end the bad guys were all down.

We survive the brawl in the hall

We got Moronae ressed up and carried on, clearing to Marshal Windsor’s cell.  We even cleared the group just past the cell, just to be sure we didn’t get a proximity pull by mistake.  Skronk opened up the cell door and we went in to talk to him.  We turned in the quest, for which he gave us 90 silver, then immediately wanted to get out of there.  But first he wanted to go get his stuff.

I cannot leave without my stuff!

I always wonder who writes the scripts for escort mobs and thinks that somebody locked in a dungeon’s first thought on seeing rescuers is, “I’m saved, but I cannot leave without my random and likely replaceable stuff.”  Of course, Windsor didn’t even suggest leaving on our first two visits.

And then I remembered where the storage area was.  It was on the other half of the detention block loop.  We had cleared the most direct route to Marshal Windsor, but not the path he was about to take.  To illustrate:

The Detention Block

The blue arrow is the path we cleared as we came in.  The orange arrow is where Marshal Windsor was going to go.  We had not cleared that.  So it was on our bicycles to keep up with Windsor and keep him safe despite himself.

I will say, for a guy in just his shorts… where was he keeping that silver he gave us… he got right into the spirit of battle.

Windsor bringing the pain

Unfortunately, he could be kind of random as to who he would attack.  He had a propensity to start beating on whichever mob Ula managed to sheep during these fights.  He seemed to delight in it, changing to beat on the sheep when he had a mind.

We got a break part way through as he stops at Dughal Stormwing’s cell so we can free him as well.

Dughal gets free

He doesn’t join the fun, just runs off into the instance and disappears.

Once he was free and we rested up a bit, Marshal Windsor went on towards his stuff.  We ended up outside the storeroom with only two more mobs between us and the exit of the instance.  Windsor just stood there for a bit, then suddenly announced he was going into the room.

He’s going in!

Of course, there was a group of mobs in that room and, in our attempt to keep Windsor alive and grab aggro and kill them we managed to wipe.

Dead in the storeroom

Windsor fought on, but died not too long after.  We released and ran back, but our expectations were low.  In Classic, losing an escort mob in an instance generally means resetting the instance and starting over.  And such was the case here.  But at least we would be read for next run.

At that point, we called it and headed out.  Skronk and I both managed to finish the fanny packs quest, so we got to turn that in.  Next time around we’ll finish up Marshal Windsor and then move on to the next item in the instance.  There is still a lot of that map we haven’t seen yet.

A Smooth Slide into Shadowlands

I expressed some concern about the launch of the Shadowlands expansion in my post on Sunday, wondering if the server problems I had been seeing might impact the new experience.

But when it came down to it, at least on the Eldre’Thalas server, things seemed to go pretty smoothly.  (Though there were problems elsewhere I hear.)

I had read that the starting hook for the expansion hook would be out in front of the fountain before Stormwind Keep, so set myself up there early in the day.

The fountain, with some people beginning to gather

A little before 3pm local time, the hour of the launch for me, I logged in to gather with the other early birds to get right into things.  Ula had some free time as well, so we grouped up and waited around the fountain, which by that point was quite crowded.

The early crowd is ready

Moments after 3pm hit there was an announcement in the area by Highlord Darion Mograine.

Hear ye!

And then a death gate opened up before the fountain and people started piling in.

If all your friends jumped into a death gate, would you do it too?

It was through there to Icecrown and Bolvar Fordragon who had a few feats of strength for people to go through before he sent them off into the Maw to go find the people scooped up by Sylvanas in the pre-invasion.

So why am I dragging your little bits around the ceremony again?

And then it was into the Maw, the so-called crucible of the damned.

Welcome to The Maw

And it was a grim, dark hellscape with some of the tormented to fight and some of the regulars to find.  You end up with Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall to start with and end up on an exciting run through the place.  You find Anduin Wrynn and have to work to free him, and then Warchief Baine Bloodhoof.  The place is a torment and everybody wants to get out, and has been struggling to do so since they were taken.

Together you work your way to what my be a way out of the place, a portal that seems to respond only to your presence.  So they cover you while you escape.

Jaina, Baine, Anduin, and Thrall while you fiddle with the thing

And then, hey presto, you’re teleported to Orbios and your first achievement.

I fought the Maw and the Maw won…

There you meet the locals, talk about what is going on, get a tour of the place, and generally take your time, heedless of the fact that your recent pals are still being tormented.  But they have a way of doing things.  There is apparently enormous red tape in the after life.

From there you get sent off to Bastion to ingratiate yourself with the locals and run through their bright and shiny lands, the polar opposite of the Maw when it comes to style, and help them deal with their personal issues.

Seriously, Jaina, Thrall, Baine, and Anduin got themselves recaptured covering your escape, and were clearly unhappy about it.

Anduin is not at all happy

And now you’re farting around with really some of the most annoyingly chirpy mobs in the game who all sound like they’re in a cult if you start paying close attention to what they’re saying.  It is like being in the 70s.

Still, when in Rome… so you go along with the initiation, fight your personal demons manifested, relive past events in brief, and haul around their anima, the precious resource that drives things around there.

At first I thought they said “anime”

You get some armor, spar with some initiates, dust, tidy up, and attend some more lectures on the whole thing.

Ula and Vikund at another seminar

Doing all the fetch and carry and introspection gets you a level pretty quickly.  I was level 52 before the evening was out, and well on my way to 53.  The first person made it to 60, the new level cap, in just three hours.

But I gather that the level grind is not the big deal in Shadowlands.  Once you get to the level cap you have to pick a covenant and start earning your way into that as an alternate advancement method.  Something beyond just a rep grind so far as I have seen, though I haven’t looked too closely yet.

You get some new gear naturally, though I was surprised that it took a while for the first pieces to show up.  They were not in a hurry to replace everything you had in the first half dozen quests.  And some of it wasn’t good enough to replace what I had.  While I didn’t work very hard on the Heart of Azeroth in Battle for Azeroth, the first neck slot quest reward wasn’t cutting it as a replacement.

Heart of Azeroth wins today, even if it is cut off from its life force

Likewise, the big sword I got from Nathanos Blightcaller was better than the first weapons that came my way as drops or rewards.

My blade remains viable

And while the server seemed solid and I did not see any queues later in the evening when I logged back in, things were still a bit off.  I tried to group up with Ula again later on and we got stuck in different phases even though we were on the same quest.  We tried the dreaded “party sync” option, and while it did indeed get us onto the same quest again, we remained in different phases.

And perhaps some of the quests are meant to be solo, but it would be nice to have some indication of that.  Later, when we tried to add Skronk to the group, we had similar issues.  He couldn’t join the group at first, then he was in a different phase, and even after the part sync put us onto his quests, we still couldn’t all get into the same phase and visible to each other.

And that was on top of the usual factional annoyances.  This is one of the expansions where the Alliance and the Horde have identical experiences, so we’re all out there mixed together in Bastion.  But if a fellow Alliance member tags a mob, I can still join in and get credit, but if somebody from the Horde tags it, it is now gray to me and gets me no credit.  If we’re essentially fighting on the same side this round, maybe adjust that?  I don’t know.

But the advancement is going quickly enough that hopefully Bastion will be in the rear view mirror before too long.  It the sort of environment that brings up thoughts like, “I’m not saying Sylvanas is right, but looking at this place, I am not saying she is completely wrong either.”  Hell, one event involves a bunch of the locals sick of the routine and rising up against the status quo.  I had to go help put that down despite my sympathies.

Vikund ready to enforce conformity

But it is just a zone, and some zones you like and others you don’t, though the narrative in it feels like an extended intro that I kind of want to wrap up but never quite gets there.  Will I want to go through this with alts?

I will admit that the place looks pretty good.  A lot of work went into things.  I just have to get through Bastion and get back to rescuing people from the Maw, right?

Other first night posts:


Shadowlands and the Calm Before the Storm

The expansion lands tomorrow.  Here on the west coast of the US it will arrive at 3pm local time as part of the unified world wide launch.

The world-wide launch plan

So now it is just down to the waiting.  Certainly any planning I had to do is long since done.  While I have increased my characters at level cap count considerably… I had three after the level squish and have a dozen available today… I was always going in first with the usual suspect, Vikund my paladin.  He is my “do all the things” character.

Otherwise I have not paid close enough attention to Shadowlands and the mechanics of the expansion to have anything like a course charted.  It will be a surprise to me.

I do wonder if we will be in for a rocky launch though… rockier than usual.

All the normal stuff will happen, queues and disconnects and lots of crowding.  But the potential for more difficulties seems to be out there as well.

Blizzard seems to be working on changing and tuning the expansion, which was delayed by a month, right up until the last minute.  That means there won’t be much testing done on the final state things.  We’ll be testing live and in person instead.

If the pre-expansion updates are a guide, there is something to worry about on that front.  I follow WoWHead and Icy Veins on Twitter and their accounts have had regular posts about how Blizzard has broken quests and classes and mob drops and even cosmetic looks with the 9.0.x patches so far.

Meanwhile, I have noticed some issues cropping up with server performance.  Simple things, like turning in a quest, seem to get gummed up now and then as you sit and wait for things to catch up.  And I have had a series of what I call “silent disconnects” over the last week or so, where the client keeps running, but clearly isn’t connected to the server, so stops drawing any new mobs.  You get to just fly through an empty world of just the terrain stored locally on your machine… and the client doesn’t seem to ever get the message that it should throw an error.

Of course, before that I was getting lots of disconnects with errors, so perhaps Blizz cranked up the time out on those in the hope they would fix themselves.  And maybe that works some of the time.  I haven’t seen any active disconnect messages.  But when it doesn’t work, you’re left stuck in an empty world.  You cannot even exit the client from the menu.  That apparently needs some confirmation from the server, which it never gets.  I have to bring up the Task Manager and kill the process.

So, to sum up, we’re going to have one of the busiest days possible for the game when the game seems in something of a shaky state.  This could end up being a considerable challenge to the Blizzard crew.  It is a good thing they are launching on a Monday.  They have all week to spend on it before the weekenders show up.

At least WoW Classic will still be available.  And the addon apocalypse has been temporarily averted.

You may have heard that Amazon, which owns Twitch, which in turn owned and integrated the Curse Forge addon service into its client, sold Curse Forge to a company called Overwolf which, so far as I can tell from their web site, only has the Curse Forge stuff as a business model.  The transition from Twitch to Overwolf was slated to take place next week, right in the middle of the expansion launch and was expected to keep addon devs from being able to update their code.

Nothing says you care about gamers like being completely oblivious to things like that.  Not a good opening move for Overwolf.  Yes, they do support other games besides WoW, but I am going to bet that WoW is a pretty big deal to them.  Forcing all of those WoW players who use Curse Forge to look elsewhere during launch week seems like a possibly huge self-inflicted wound, given they’re business model is based on ad revenue.

Anyway, somebody pointed this out to them and they have delayed the transition for a week.  Still not excellent timing, but marginally better that the day of the launch.

We head into the Shadowlands tomorrow.  I just hope that doesn’t turn out to be a metaphor.

Blackrock Depths and Shadowforge City

Our last run into Blackrock Depths got us as far as the detention block and the Ring of Law.  For our second run we were once again headed to the detention block and the Ring of Law.  The detention block to catch Moronae up on the Mangi Bronzebeard quest line and to speak again with Marshal Windsor, and the Ring of Law because pretty much everything else we might want lay on the far side of it for now.

Blackrock Depths map – Most of the instance is past the Ring of Law

Our lineup for the run was:

  • Viniki – level 55 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 54 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 54 gnome mage
  • Moronae – level 54 night elf druid

I did make one gear change on Viniki before the run.  My pally had gotten Uther’s Strength, a trinket that has a 2% chance to cast Holy Shield on the wearer when struck, so I sent that to Viniki and traded it out for the Diamond Flask to see if prevention would be better than a little healing.  Yes, the Diamond Flask is on the “best in slot” list for warrior tank trinkets, but the 6 minute cool down means I always hold back on using it, which means I never use it.

In a bit or warm up before hand with Moronae the new trinket seemed to proc all the time.  Once we got into the instance it didn’t proc for ages, leading me to wonder if there was some “do not proc in dungeons” flag set.  As time went on it did begin to proc though.  But I was worried for a bit.

In the instance we once again cleared a wide path through the main open area at the start, just in case Mashal Windsor wanted to get out of the place.

Open spaces

We had to get to him because one of the first drops we got was a crumpled note, which is the continuation of the quest line for him.

A crumpled note

That represents the optimism or daring or carelessness of the WoW devs back in the day.  The quest chain just drops, and you have to go in and get a drop to carry on.  I am sure the drop rate it cranked up to make sure people get it, but there is still the possibility people will miss it, or won’t click on the note to actually re-start the quest chain.

We fought our way up the short path on the east side of the detention block loop to Windsor.  He bade us carry on, but seemed content to hang around in a cell.  I would have left on the first rescue attempt.  Though, he might be sparing us the part of the standard escort quest where your target suddenly decides they cannot leave until they collect all their belongings from deep within the instance.

Marshal Windsor in his cell

That done, we turned towards the cave branch that led to the ring of law, where we quickly got ourselves in over our head.  We were taking one group when a pack of dogs that wanders up and down the cave showed up and joined the fight.  We basically got et’ by the dogs.

The dogs got us

First wipe, which meant a ghostly run back from Thorium Point.  On this run we figured we might as well try just jumping down into the lava rather than threading all the chains down to the platform that leads to the instance.  That seemed a slightly quicker route.

Once back and in the right cave again, we got back to business and finished off the remains of the groups that did us in.  At least we had thinned them out before wiping.

We reached the Ring of Law, but I wanted to carry on as there was another boss, Lord Roccor, down the cave a ways.  So we cleared our way towards him.  However, he nicely wanders up and down the cave, so he met us half way, meaning we didn’t have to clear everything.

Here he comes

His was a short sharp fight.  He dropped a shield, which I was hoping for, only to discover that my first glance assumption that it would be an upgrade was wrong.  He also dropped some Rockshard Pellets, ammunition for guns, which I claimed, being the only one who has a gun in the group.  Also, I was running low on ammo for pulls, so it was a timely drop.

We then turned back and made out way into the Ring of Law again.  Skronk had prepared us some nature resist potions in case we met up with Hedrum the spider, who wiped the floor with us last week.  We got in there and our first fights were not with spiders but with worms.  And they nearly did us in.  But we made it through and had a moment to eat and drink to be ready for the boss.

The worms down, the boss is coming

This time around we got the Eviscerator, a wild worgen.

His name is what he does

He wasn’t a walk over… he kept stunning me… but a single target boss is almost always an easier fight for us than a pack of non-elite mobs where aggro can get out of control.

With him down the out gate opened up and we were able to move deeper into the instance.  You go through the gallery of spectators and wind up at a T-intersection.

New areas to stalk

Once we cleared the group at the bottom, the patrol that goes through, and the groups on either side, we had a choice of directions.  But we could see Pyromancer Loregrain off to the left, so figured getting in another boss kill would be good.  Despite having to helpers, we managed to take his group down pretty quickly, which left us standing before the monument to Franclorn Forgewright.

There we were

The statue has a cog wheel, so you can click on it which puts up a quest completion dialog.  But in order to complete the quest you need Ironfel, and item that drops from Fineous Darkview, who is further on in the instance. (Location 9 on the map above.)  Otherwise this was a dead end, so we turned around and went the other way, only wandering straight into trouble a few times.

I did not see those fire elementals until I wandered into aggro range

This is where trying to follow the map gets a bit sketchy.  Blackrock Depths is very much a three dimensional dungeon with ramps up and down.  So we pushed on as best we could.  Clearing our way through an areas calle The Domicile we ended up getting what I predicted would be the best drop of the run, a Traveler’s Backpack.

16 slots, does not bind

Even with Ula able to make use 14 slot bags now, I was pretty happy to see this guy.  Bag space always was an issue for me in vanilla WoW and remains so in WoW Classic.  I know I still have a few of these still on alts because you could pass them along.  I was glad to win the roll for this item.

We carried on from there and came out in an area that was identified as Shadowforge City, which is above the boss Lord Incendius and in the vicinity of The Vault.

Gonna go down to Shadowforge City, where the dwarves are iron and the loot is pretty

The Vault was right there on our path, so we set about clearing mobs away, until we were left with just the boss and his dog, Warder Stilgiss and Verek.

A dwarf and his dog

We managed to take them pretty handily, at which point we were left with some options for the vault.  It seemed like we had collected enough relic coffer keys to unlock all the lock boxes and spawn the boss in there.  Or we could look at that covered portrait on the wall next to the entry into the room with the lock boxes.

We looked at the portrait.

The picture revealed

That spawned Dark Keeper Bethek and four elite guards behind us who walked up and beat the crap out of us.  We wiped without taking even one of them down.

Note to self: Do not look at the portrait

That meant another ghost run back from Thorium Point.

Once back in and up we decided to just give The Vault a wide berth and carry on past it.  We slipped past the vault door when Bethek and his crew were at the far end… they just march back and forth inside the vault… and skirted another group off the corner and through a passage into some more caves.

There we ran into Fineous Darkvire, just the dwarf we were looking for.  We had at him once we got him in the clear.

Fineous walked right into us

We managed to take him down without too much trouble… no adds or any mishaps.  He dropped the Senior Designer’s Pantaloons… so to speak, which Skronk took just based on the name.  He also dropped Ironfel, the item we needed for the Franclorn Forgewright quest.

At that point we had been at it for a while and my wife was cooking something that was making me very hungry just from the smell, so we decided this might be a good place to wrap things up.  We could just run back to the Franclorn Forgewright monument, finish that quest, and be done.

So we started running back, ran through the passage and straight into the group we had previously skirted.  Then, recoiling from them, we managed to setup too close to the door to the vault where Bethek and his crew came running out to give us another pounding.  Another wipe.

We ran back again, only this time we had to clear some respawns that had shown up back in the main area.  But there were not too many.  We were able to get past those, through the Ring of Law again, and down the path to Franclorn Forgewright’s statue to turn in the quest.

Quest done, key obtained

That gave us the Shadowforge Key, which gives us access to other paths through the instance.  That mission accomplished, we recalled back to Ironforge.  We will return again, as there is much left to do.

Further Adventures in Ice Crown and the Plaguelands

I mentioned the crazy nostalgic feel of the Shadowlands pre-events up in Northrend last week, how being back up in the Argent Tournament and fighting the scourge brought me back about a decade.

That feeling lasted about… three hours I’d say.  I went at it for two hours the day the pre-patch landed, and maybe an hour after that.  Enough to get the Argent Commendations, the event currency, to buy the battle pet that was part of the event.   Then I was back to playing with alts in other expansions because the level squish thing still has my attention.

But then, yesterday, Blizzard dropped the final pre-expansion patch that opened up the second round of quests, so I dropped in again with Vikund to get going on that.

Back again for the next round

I saw somewhere along the line that Blizz had upped the swan rate on the raid bosses appearing in Icecrown.  I hadn’t seen one the last time I was on, but this time they seemed to be popping up with great regularity.  They get an announcement in chat and show up on the map, at which point people rush over to get ready.

Everybody eyeing the boss

And then after a couple of minutes, the boss goes live and everything becomes a chaos of combat effects as the race to burn them down begins.

And then chaos

In between bosses, the live quest chain was a series of the usual tasks, though it did have a decent disguise and infiltrate segment that I enjoyed, and a bombing run, which is something I have liked since the first once back in The Burning Crusade.  There is a final boss fight, then you get sent back to Stormwind to report back to Greymane.

Back to Greymane

Turning in the quest got me the achievement for the pre-patch quests, so I gather than I did the essential story bits.  Now, if only I remembered them.

Death Rising achievement for the event

But Greymane wasn’t done with me yet.  He still had the quest to go out and slay Nathanos Blightcaller in the Eastern Plaguelands for me.  That was the boss a lot of people were talking about last week.  I headed out to the Plaguelands hoping that the interest in him hadn’t died down.

The beautiful brown Plaguelands

I landed at the nearest flight point and flew out to the point marked on the map.  I need not have worried about finding enough people out there.  The battle had begun before I arrived and it was chaos beyond even the boss battles in Icecrown.

He is in there somewhere

My main problem in the fight was actually being able to target him to get a hit in so the kill would count for me.  I threw out some AOE attacks in the middle of the scrum… consecrate for the win… and hoped for the best.  Then a cinematic came up with his final blow.

Nathanos about to get his

Tyrande got the killing blow in the video.  That is the way the lore will go down, though I couldn’t tell who was even hitting him during the fight.

I managed to get in and loot, which netted me a very nice sword, a serious upgrade to my own.

Nice blade

It is a pity it will be replaced pretty much immediately come the new expansion.  But I can enjoy it for a bit I suppose.

I had to loot quickly because I had the zombie taint on me.  The reason I had trouble targeting was that there were player zombies all over the fight.  Like the old days, with the WotLK per-expansion event, they pass on the zombie plague to others.  So I got my drop and then turned into a zombie myself.

Zombie time

I ran around and played with that for a bit.  Fortunately, if you’re tired of being a zombie one of your skills is “zombie explosion” in which you blow up.  That kills you and you can go back to your corpse and revive as your old self.  I did that and quickly flew away and then back to Stormwind for the final turn in.  The reward was more commendations.  I’ll have to see if there is anything else to spend them on.

Meanwhile, the zombie stuff was going on all over.  I got the taint a few more times in Stormwind as people ran around trying to infect people.  I eventually got up and out of the way of traffic and other players to avoid that.

That is a big blade… needs a transmog

I think I have finished up the minimum tour of the pre-expansion event.  I will probably work on some alts between now and the actual launch.  Just five days left to go.

Hitting 50 in a Level Squished Legion

Last week I mentioned that I had rolled up a Demon Hunter to see what the leveling experience was like in the new post-squish Azeroth.

This week I can say that I made it to level 50.  It took me a total of 22 hours and 13 minutes over the course of about a week… I was done by Thursday night… to go from character creation to level cap.

However, I would not necessarily mark that down as a benchmark time for a few reasons.  I spent some time side-tracked with trade skills, because I cannot help myself, and that slowed me down a bit.  I was also AFK for more than an hour over the course of one day while I did laundry.  And, as I noted, Demon Hunters start at level 8 and skip the new starter area, which bought me some time, though their own starter area was a bit slow.

But the primary slow down was a strange mix of the Legion expansion, the Demon Hunter class, and the level squish combined.

Again, as I mentioned, the Demon Hunter class and its starting experience is tied directly to the Legion expansion.  So, unlike other classes, when you exit their starter area you are thrust straight into the beginnings of that expansion and not Battle for Azeroth.  Or so I thought.  It is not obvious that you are in one timeline or the other.

Certainly when I saw Nathanos Blightcaller standing there with a quest and a portal to Orgrimmar behind him, I thought that was the path to the BFA content.

Nathanos hanging around

Instead, that is quest that gets you into the starting scenario for the Legion expansion.  I went and did that at one point late in my ascent when I was trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

For a long stretch everything seemed fine.  Levels came fairly quickly, mobs throughout the expansion leveled up as I did, gear given as quest rewards scaled up as I leveled up, as did the experience rewarded.

Everything was fine until I hit level 46, and then I noticed things started slowing down.  It was not so bad at first, but as I made it to level 47 it was becoming obvious that something was off.  The experience being rewarded for quest completion was getting smaller.  Gear given as quest rewards would show as item level 56-58 in the quest window, but would be scaled down to item level 50 when I claimed them.  Then I noticed that the mobs had all stopped leveling up with me, that they were all still level 45.  After a bit of flailing about… which included running the starting scenario… I realized where I was.

I had thought, being spit out into the Legion expansion, that I was in this universe.

My vision in Excel format

After all, the game put me in the Legion expansion, why would I not assume I was on the path that led to level 50?

But, no.  On reflection, the mobs ceasing to level up was an indicator I was in the horizontally sliced timeline where every expansion besides BFA caps out before 50.

The horizontal stack with level caps on each expansion

So when I hit level 45, everything stopped leveling up with me.

It is still a bit bizarro world to me that Blizz decided they needed both a level 10-45 and a level 10-50 version of the Legion expansion, but I suppose that applies to all of the areas.

Anyway, it was easy to fix that.  I took the portal in Dalaran to Orgrimmar, went to the Horde embassy, which is where Chromie sits, and asked to be put on the “Legion Invasion” timeline… they aren’t named for their expansions… and was good to go.

Chromie doesn’t know the expansion names

I then returned to Dalaran… it was nice of Blizz to give us a special hearthstone just for that… and found that everything had scaled up to me at level 47.  I went back out and ran down some more quest and managed to level up to 50 not too much later.

Then, of course, you have to do that strange thing where, on hit 50, you get recalled out of your timeline to Chromie.  I guess this was to ease the confusion over timelines, but in the absence of Shadowlands, it seems a bit odd.

Chromie Calling… also, my DH is named Fernwood

Still, I was done, so why not?

Then there is the Legion expansion, which I quite enjoyed back in the day.  It is still quite enjoyable.  There are a couple of oddities though.

The cornerstone of the Legion expansion were the Artifact Weapons.  They, and their abilities, were core to each class.  Much of the focus of the expansion was leveling up and unlocking abilities and looks and what not.

That is pretty much all gone.  But we knew that when BFA hit.

However, running the content again from scratch without them made for a very different experience.  You still go get your Artifact Weapon for you class and spec.

I got my warblades

But all the powers and advancement has been removed.  It was, up front, that the power was sacrificed to heal the wound in Azeroth, which was part of the BFA pre-expansion event back in July of 2018.

My warblades

Now, when you’re leveling up in the Broken Isles, the only thing you have are three relic slots that you can use to upgrade the item level of the weapon.  You get them as quest rewards here and there.

Some items from a quest reward

I guess that isn’t a bad compromise, and they keep a regin on you getting too got of a weapon by only unlocking the third relic slot when you hit level 45.  I ended up with a weapon that was better than most items I could find at the AH for a Demon Hunter.

My warblades at level 50

This is the primary argument for classic style servers.  While they have a work around, you cannot play the expansion the way it was back when it was live from 2016 to 2018 because they had to gut the primary mechanic in order to make way for the next expansion.  With Shadowlands we’ll likely shed the Heart of Azeroth for something else.  And so it goes.  But this means that, while the content is still there, and Chromie can set you to level up through it, the experience is very different.  It just isn’t the same.

This gutting of the Artifact Weapons mechanic also led to an interesting side effect.

When the expansion was the peak of the game there were quest reward and treasure chest and world quest reward items all over the expansion that would increase the artifact power of you weapon.  Leveling it up was a big deal.  But now leveling up is no longer a thing, so Blizzard left all of those items in the expansion, but made them all gray level vendor trash worth between 10 and 50 gold each.

I made bank.  Compared to my characters in other time walking expansions… I have two in WotLK and one in WoD… my Demon Hunter was rich.  Other gray drops and quest rewards were about on par, but these items, which are everywhere, were a big boost.  When my DH hit level 45 and could train Master Riding, which gives you high speed flying, I was there.

5,000 gold? Give it to me!

My alts in other expansions… not so much.  They’ll need handouts.

Otherwise, the Legion expansion is still a good time.

Map of the Broken Isles

I did all of Highmountain and Azsuna, most of Stormheim, and parts of Suramar and The Broken Shore before I hit level 50.  I had no need to go to Argus, and I managed to avoid going into Val’Sharah, which is my least favorite of the main zones.  I don’t hate it, but I am not eager to return either.

The Demon Hunter class is pretty good.  I enjoyed it, though at times the play style can be a bit simple.  After mashing buttons with it, going to play in WoW Classic requires me to breath and think about my skills more.  And DH glide is very OP.  I am surprised they haven’t nerfed it.

Glide Blood Elf, Glide!

So now I have my 10th character at level 50 in anticipation of the Shadowlands expansion.

Fernwood the Demon Hunter

I am not sold on any more, but it is possible I could end up with an 11th before the launch on the 23rd.

Sunday WoW Classic about Plans and Bans

With the coming Shadowlands release in retail WoW, just about a week away now, not a lot of attention has been paid to WoW Classic.  The place hasn’t emptied out, but Stormwind and Ironforge do not have the same busy feel that they did before the Shadowlands pre-patch.

Classic is as classic does

  • Naxxramas and the Scourge Invasion

Phase six, or WoW Classic version 1.13.6, will start going live on December 1st.  On that date the Naxxramas raid will open up.  Then, just two days later, on December 3rd, the Scourge Invasion event will start, with flying necropolis showing up in high level zones and the Argent Dawn offering rewards to fight the invasion.  Also, world PvP objectives will be added in the Eastern Plaguelands and Silithus.  This represents the final planned phase for WoW Classic.

  • Raider Ban Wave

There were reports of a large number of bans being handed out to raiders, including whole raid groups.  While Blizzard has declined to discuss details, they did say in a forum post that when this happens it is usually because the raid group was found to be using some sort of terrain exploit.

  • Future Direction of WoW Classic

With the coming of phase 6, the original plan has been completed and the questions begin to turn to “What’s next?”  Some people want to see Classic Burning Crusade naturally.  Blizzard could also open up a fresh round of WoW Classic servers for people who missed the opening days of the initial round, or for those who just want another fresh start.  Daybreak has made a business out of pretty much just that with EverQuest.

But there are other things that might be on the horizon.  With the ban on broadcast input software , something Blizz made sure to indicate applies to WoW Classic as well as retail, for the first time in the game’s soon to be 16 year history, WoWHead collected some of the things that Blizzard has been up to that might spell a further divergence from the purist dream of vanilla WoW recreated and a move in the direction of a WoW Classic that fixes a few more of the issues that were a problem back in the day.

We will probably have to wait until BlizzCon Online in the back half of February to get any sort of hint as to what the future might bring.  If nothing else, the Shadowlands launch will likely carry the headlines and the company’s attention through the end of the year.

Heading to the Detention Block in Blackrock Depths

After our previous prep run we were all about ready to take our first steps into Blackrock Depths.  We met up in Ironforge and flew out to the Burning Steppes together.  Our group lineup was:

  • Viniki – level 54 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 54 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 54 gnome mage
  • Moronae – level 53 night elf druid

Normally we would just fly to Thorium point, which is both a shorter flight from Ironforge and a shorter run to the instance, but we had a few things to wrap up on the way in.

First, we had a quest to finish up from Morgan’s Vigil that involved sticking an ogre’s head on a stick as a warning to the others.  Easy to do and it cleared out a space in our nearly full quest logs.

Ogre head in place

We quickly rode back and turned that in before setting out again across the zone.  We stopped along the way again as Moronae was behind on one quest.  He did not have the Kharan Mighthammer quest from King Mangi Bronzebeard yet.

The list so far

I figured he could grab the bits for the quest along the way and then turn them in later.  After all, the quest in question was RED in out log, so it was probably something at the back of the instance that we wouldn’t get to this run.

Doing that also gave us some warm up time with our characters, which at least I needed.  After playing a Demon Hunter in retail for a couple of days, I was very set on a constant key rotation, which is not at all how you play a warrior tank in WoW Classic.  I also had to get used to manually dismounting for a bunch of things.

We got Moronae his update and rode on to Blackrock Mountain.

Destination in sight

In one of those very vanilla WoW mechanics, the ramp up top the doors is flagged as “no mounts,” so we were dismounted automatically for once and had to go on foot up to the doors.

Going in the front doors

Through the doors we got to see the inside of the mountain.  It has been a while since I was in there.

The view inside the mountain

Fortunately, not everything was forgotten.  I knew we had to go across one of those chains to the rock suspended in the middle, then down another chain to a chamber that would lead us into the instance itself.

The second chain… also, it feels like the nether in here

We ran around and up the ramp, found the chain we could get to, and made our way to the big rock which hold the tomb of Franclorn Forgewright.

The tomb

The ghost of Franclorn Forgewright had a quest for us, but you can only get that quest when you, yourself, are a ghost as well.  So we ran on down the next chain and into the open area before the instance and found some orcs to kill us.

Slowly getting ourselves dead

In hindsight, this was an act of some hubris, assuming that we would need to deliberately get ourselves killed, as though the instance wouldn’t take care of that for us at some point.  But we did it.

That put us at the graveyard by Thorium Point and we ran in ghost form back to the Franclorn Forgewright, where he had a quest for us.

Franclorn Forgewright revealed

You speak to him, get a quest, and… well, you’re supposed to speak to him again and finish that quest and get the next step.  But since you’re dead and everything is grayscale, three of us just assumed that was a gray question mark above his and didn’t do the next step.  Only Ula got that one right and by the time Skronk noticed, we were well inside the instance.  But we had time.

That done… or half done for some of us… it was back down in the chain again and time to revive.  We healed up, spelled up, and went looking for the instance.  There is a long hallway that will get you there.

The way in

There was supposed to be a boss mob, Overmaster Pyron somewhere along here, but there was a group of level 60s hanging around the instance line and apparently farming him for some drops.  We made our way into the instance.

Once inside we cleared out some of the big open area that has paths off in several directions.

The big open area in the instance

I went and dug out a map from the internet to help us along.  There are a few available.  I wish I could just find a blank version of the map that is used to populate the mini-map, but I was out of luck there.  We went with an annotated map.

Blackrock Depths map – A is where you start

While we want the experience of WoW Classic, we’re also not as patient as we might have been 15 years ago.  At least I am not.  I can learn boss dynamics on the fly, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time lost, and this instance is sprawling enough that you could spend a lot of time lost.

We decided to go off the right to the prison cells as our first destination, the little oval area at the bottom with numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 indicated.

A cheerfully decorated area

We were doing okay clearing groups of mobs along the way.  Pairs of elite mobs were no problem, nor were triples really.  The elite mobs in there did seem to hit for noticeably more damage and Skronk was kept busy healing.

Pairs and triples with some non-elite mobs in tow, and the groups of non-elite hounds that rove in packs, were more problematic.  Groups like that always cause me anxiety as the tank because, being down one DPS, we don’t always have quite enough AOE damage to do an effective “freeze and burn” to kill the group before they break loose.  And once they break loose and start running after Ula it is always a struggle for me to get aggro back.  I have one skill that will pull all aggro in the area to me, but it has a 10 minute cool down, so I hate to burn it unless we really need it in the moment.

Still, we managed to push our way around the loop, one group at a time, until we had sight of High Interrogator Gerstahn, the first boss on our list, and number 5 on the map above.

High Interrogator Gerstahn

She is up a hallway and has a couple of mobs off to either side.  Still, we figured it wouldn’t be a huge issue.  Just pull her via line of sight, sheep her friend, tank her and the adds, and kill them one by one.

And that might of worked expect the High Interrogator casts fear, and hit Moronae with it, who then ran off down the half of the loop that we had not cleared, bringing back an additional pair of elites and another group of hounds.  This did not end well.

The chaos that followed

You can see me dead on the floor… I think Ula was done by that point as well, Morone in the middle of things, and Skonk trying to get clear off to the left.  It was a wipe.  But the corpse at the lower left is High Interrogator Gerstahn.  We at least knocked her out before we began our run back.

Through the back doors as a ghost

We got ourselves back in the instance and together again, buffed up, and ran back to where we had wiped.  Skronk, the master looter, got the prison cell door key from Gerstahn.  Then we finished off the rest of her group up the hallway.

However, once we did that and went into the area where she had been standing, we decided that there wasn’t really any value in clearing out all of the rooms behind her position.

We did take a moment to sit down in the four dwarven barcalounger that were set up in the room for whatever reason.

Getting comfy

With the key in hand, there were several cell doors to open up, some of which clearly had somebody inside keen to speak with us.

Somebody wants out… and how did they know I was a gnome through the door?

We decided to take some care here.  This smelled a bit like it might end up as an escort or something, so we carefully cleared all of the rest of the way around the cell block loop… and, for good measure, cleared all the mobs wandering around the big open area so we had a clear shot to the instance door.  I mean, there was a freaking store room with the cells, so we could just image the whole “follow me, I need my gear, now I need to walk slowly out of the instance, directly through any mobs I can find” routine.

But we need not have been quite so careful.  There was no escort quest looming.  Behind one of the doors was Marshal Windsor.

Okay, okay, stop yelling at me

He had a quest update that required us to head back to Morgan’s Vigil.

And in one of the other cells was Kharan Mighthammer.

Kharan Mighthammer

He is, of course, the quest mob for the quest in red that I thought we wouldn’t get to on this first run… because the quest is red and the instance is a huge sprawling dungeon… but there we were.

On the bright side, we had the key now and the path to his cell isn’t that big of a side trip… and the next step of the quest is Princess Moira, mob 21 on that map, who is way the hell in the back of the instance, so it seems likely that we won’t be getting there on the next run… but it is still another item on the list.

That done, we looked around for something we could knock out before we called the run for dinner.

Not too far around the corner was the Ring of Law.  We had some vague memories of it being a boss fight challenge… as Skronk succinctly put it, we didn’t exactly have this instance set to farm back in the day… but that seemed like something we could tackle, so off we went.

We had the good sense to all enter the ring together, at which point a Dark Iron dwarf came out and pronounced our doom.

Also, heresy by word, heresy by deed….

After that, out came the spiders.  Lots of spiders.  Non-elite spiders, yes, but a bunch of them, in two waves, and we had our usual freeze and burn problem, I blew my AOE taunt on the first wave, and Ula died during the second wave as we tried to get stuff off of her… also, the spiders kept webbing everybody, keeping us immobile, and hitting everybody with a poison DOT which blew a lot of Skronk’s mana as we struggled.  But we made it and killed all the wee spiders and had a bit of a breather before the big boss came in.

Skronk got a ress off on Ula, we healed up a bit, and then the main boss came in, another spider, Hedrum the Creeper.  Things did not go well.  We wiped.

So it was another run back from Thorium Point and back into the instance.  By this point Skronk had noticed our Franclorn Forgewright problem, so the three of us who needed to updated the quest.  We jumped into the instance and back out again to grab Overmaster Pyron, who was up outside the instance.

Burn, baby, burn

We then went back into the instance and back to the Ring of Law to find Hedrum the Creeper waiting for us.  So we gave him another try.  Again, it did not go well for us.

Hedrum done with us

The fight was summarized well by one of the comments on his page on WoWHead, which said:

Problem wasnt heals or tanking or DPS, problem was the mob’s would root the tank, drop aggro and go crazy on the rest of the group. The web root lasted like 12 secs and the mob would stun for 10 secs. Overall, this mob is a pain the booty.

That is the way it went for us.  A single mob seemed ideal for us, but when he roots the tank… and my escape artists skill, which is on my hot bar, has a cool down so you really only get one use per fight… and runs off to kill the healer or the DPS, things are not going to end well.

So we decided to call it a day.  We took the gear damage hit and revived at the graveyard by Thorium Point, then flew over to Morgan’s Vigil to turn in some quests.  Then Ula put up a portal to Stormwind because I thought we had a turn in there, but we didn’t.  So we stoned back to Ironforge and updated our quests there, the repaired.  My bill was 2 gold 38 silver, which is pricey in classic terms.

So went our first venture into Blackrock Depths.  We have quite a ways to go before we’re done.

The Scourge are Back in Town

Guess who just got back today
Them wild-eyed ghouls that had been away
Haven’t changed that much to say
But man, I still think them undead are crazy

They were askin’ where you were bound
How you was, where you could be found
Told ’em you were hangin’ ’round
Drivin’ all the Kul Tirans crazy

-Grim Lizzy, The Scourge are Back in Town

I’m out in Northrend, flying around on my silver covenant hippogriff, fighting scourge and doing dailies at the Argent Tournament in Icecrown, so I have to wonder what year it really is.

Playing it cool in Icecrown

I guess my outfit matches and my glasses are not rose tinted, so it can’t be 2009.  Still, the launch of the Shadowlands pre-launch events did spark a bit of nostalgic familiarity in me.

Blizzard invites you to a scourge party

Of course, it all started with a summons.  I logged in with my main and there was a quest waiting for me.  You know they’re serious when they put the blue wax seal of the Alliance on it.

Mathias Shaw at it again

So I took the portal to Stormwind and headed out to Lion’s Rest, the final resting place of Varian Wrynn, to speak with Genn Greymane.  It seemed I wasn’t the only one to get a summons.

A crowd at Lion’s Rest

Even with the the invisible circle of dismounting around Greymane it was tough to see him.  He had a cut scene for me, which included a glimpse of Bolvar Fordragon, the former Lich King, who had his crown removed by Sylvanas Windrunner in the expansion cinematic.  He seemed pretty concerned about Sylvanas and her plans.  I guess she is the bad guy again.


But she seems to be coming for everybody, Horde and Alliance, so we seem to be back to a “patch up the differences and face a common foe” part of the relationship again.  I’ve only seen the Alliance side of things.  I’ll have to go see the Horde side just to see who goes missing there. (Nope, same video on the Horde side.  Maybe they have goblin drone cam over Lion’s Rest.)

Sure, it is Andiun and Greymane there now, but it was only Greymane when I got there

Meanwhile, I was sent off, along with everybody else, to go check in on things and gather scouting reports.  Blizz seemed to feel that only the prime quest givers needed that dismount aura around them, as a few were buried in mounts.

He’s in there somewhere

There were some scourge to slay out in Darkshire, though the main problem was getting to them quickly enough to get on a kill for the quest update.  There was a lot of firepower out there burning them down.  I’m not sure they really had a chance.

That led me back to Stormwind and then on to Northrend, to the Argent Tournament area where the Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade were running the campaign to fight the scourge.

On my way

Also, it was kind of hard to miss the massive hole in the sky as I was headed out there.  It is huge, so big in fact that it is tough to take a screen shot of it with some features to give it scale.

This isn’t climate change doing this, is it?

Oddly, or perhaps not, that hole is only visible when you’re in the Icecrown zone.  Anyway, that is the hole from the early screen shots and cinematic.

Anyway, out at the Argent Tournament there were quests to go slay more scourge, who nicely seemed be be spawning in the tournament practice area primarily.  Again, they barely had a chance to spawn before people were jumping on them.

Waiting for more to spawn

This was one of those times when it was annoying when Horde or Alliance players couldn’t share a kill, save for the big elite in the middle of everything.

The string of quests led on to a group fight to secure a foothold deeper in the zone.

Fighting the big guy at the end of the foothold event

That done, the turn in unlocked daily quests.

Consider the effort advanced

The lead-in quests and the dailies all offer Argent Commendations, which are a Shadowlands currency that can be used to buy items from a vendor who also hands out some quests.  There is an armor set, which is okay.  Somehow even a scrub like me is wearing better, so I am not sure it is worth the effort unless you want the set for transmog.  There is a battle pet though, so I’ll save up for that.

And with that, we’re off to the races with the Shadowlands pre-patch event.  The first week is just under way and the second week will have some new things.  More scourge to slay.

I only had time to get into a bit of what was going on.  WoWHead and Icy Veins both have guides to the event.  I’ll have to go through them to see if there is anything I need to do before the next round.