Tag Archives: Battle for Azeroth

Argus and the Alliance Allied Races

With the coming of the Battle for Azeroth pre-order I was in and had one of the allied races, the Highmountain Tauren, unlocked straight our of the gate.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

Furthermore I had a second allied race, the Nightborne, pretty close to being unlocked.  You can go use WoW Head’s Legion Attunement page to see how close a given character is to unlocking the allied races.  As it turned out I fell off the final quest line about three quests before it was done.  Once I got back on that track I was able to get the requisite achievement.

Suramar achievement achieved

That, in turn, unlocked the Nightborne Elves for me as well.

More elves, wheee…

So I had the Horde allied races covered.  The Alliance allied races… is being allied with the alliance make you an ally ally or just part of the Alliance… were not available to me.  In what I will claim is yet another example of residual Horde favoritism from the Chris Metzen era, you could unlock the Horde allied races in the core areas of the Broken Isles, but the Alliance allied races required you to go to Argus.


Argus, like Gaul, is divided into three

It isn’t so much that Argus is bad.  In fact, it follows closely the zone design philosophy for WoW Legion, where zones are actually small but feel big due to good design.  The problem is flying.  Once Blizzard gives you flying it feels like they’re punishing you when they take it away.  We’ve been over that many times, but it is still true.  Once the genie is out of the bottle you’re cooked.

I ran once character up to the level cap, went away for months, came back once flying was made available, worked to unlock that, and only then started on alts.  Flying makes running through a zone trivially easy as you avoid any unwanted entanglements.  This is doubly handy when you just want to zip in and get a few world quests out of the way.

And then you get to Argus and there is no flying.  There are not even flight points.  You just unlock what are essentially teleport nodes to get around.  So, while I started in on Argus, I tended to leave it alone in order to concentrate on efforts elsewhere… like in places where I could fly.  Also, Darkmoon Faire, and Love is in the Air, and pet battles kept me busy.

Eventually though I hit a point where I had some time and Argus was still there waiting for me.  In fact, getting the Darkmoon Faire “Test of Strength” quest done prompted me a bit to get out a slay some stuff on the ground.

As noted, not so bad.  The usual amount of stomping about the various land masses and occasionally trying to figure out how to get from point A to point C when mountain range or chasm B is in the way… stuff you never worry about with flying… but otherwise not an excessive amount of schlepping along in the usual knees bent running about advancing behavior.  And the story sticks you in the cut scenes now and again, which I always seem to enjoy more than I should.

Some guy wearing green googles showed up…

A couple hours of quiet time with my wife and daughter out of the house was all it took to get the achievement side of unlocking the Alliance allied races.

An achievement has never been so wrong about me…

So that both Alliance allied races are unlocked by the same Argus achievement is good.  That they need me to get exalted with both of the Argus factions is… less fun.  As noted above, flying and world quests… and world quests are the way forward for faction… go together like two things clearly meant to go together actually going together.

And my having ignored Argus for a while means that I have a ways to go on both factions.

My current standing with allied race unlocks

And I am only that far along with the Alliance allied race faction unlock effort because we had a faction bonus week that overlapped with Darkmoon Faire and its bonus faction merry-go-round booster, which I renewed liberally, and that I am doing this all on a Human character that gets its own boost to faction accrual.

Riding for a faction boost!

Still, I don’t have to unlock the allied raced TODAY.  I can move along, wait for the emissary quests to roll around for Army of the Light or Argussian Reach or Kirin-Tor, the latter which gives you a boost to the faction of your choice, and end up unlocking both in time.

Because the next question is what to do with these unlocked allied races.  I am not sure I need four more alts.  I am not sure I what classes I would make them or if I really need the overlap that would come with making yet another character of a class I already have.  I still haven’t finished the Demon Hunter starter quest line, leaving my Demon Hunter lingering about waiting for me to get back to him.

And then there is the usual problem of the level 110 booster that came with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order.  Do I want to use it straight out on one of these allied races?  Do I want to get any of them to level 60 first to fill in any sort of trade skill gap I might have when I boost them, because boosting from level 60 also means boosting trade skills as well, or is there some other character I should boost instead?

And then, of course, there are two more allied races to be unlocked once the expansion hits, the Zandalari Trolls and the Dark Iron Dwarves, the latter seeming an odd choice for an Alliance allied race given all the trouble they’ve cause in the past.  But the lore is malleable.

These questions will probably linger until summer when the pre-expansion events kick in and I come back from playing Rift Prime or whatever I am likely to try a couple months down the line when I tire a bit of Azeroth.

Falling into Battle for Azeroth Mania

Look at all those people clogging up Blizzard’s payment system because they HAVE TO HAVE their pre-order today! Sheep!

-Me, Tuesday Afternoon

Okay, I’ve unlocked my Highmountain Tauren allied race and raise my digital deluxe edition pet to 25.

-Also Me, That Same Evening

It isn’t like I don’t have enough things on my “To do” list in Azeroth.  But at some point on Tuesday evening I said, “What the hell!” and joined in the frenzy and pre-ordered Battle for Azeroth.

Battle for Azeroth

They say all online purchasing decisions made after 8pm are a mistake, but I did this at 7:30pm, so I’m in the clear I guess. *cough*

Of course, Blizzard wasn’t making things easy.  They dropped a patch earlier in the day to support the pre-order update and it was having… issues.  Issues like not showing any of your characters.

Breath into the paper bag and login again…

That seemed to be a random error.  You could log out and back in again and you might get your characters.  And if you did get them, then foolishly logged out… never log out on a night where there are login issues… you might not get them the next time you tried.

Anyway, I did get in and found that you could order the expansion from within the game.  I’m not sure if, by that point, it was a better option than the normal Blizzard store, but it worked.  I was set.

Then I swapped to my level 110 Horde character… because for my first time ever in WoW I have a max level Horde character… so I could work on unlocking the Highmountain Tauren.  That was the one of the current four allied races that interested me.  And it is a good thing that was the one, because I still have some work to do on the other three.  Part of my “To do” list is to finish up Argus.

So I got the quest pop for allied races which brought me to Orgrimmar where there is a new embassy building for this sort of thing.  It was, naturally enough, kind of a crowded place.  There you get to pick which allied race to pursue.  I only had the one option.

Tauren… you can have Highmountain Tauren

The game warns you to choose carefully as you can only have one allied race quest chain running at a time.  But the Highmountain quest chain… that is where you go to do it… only takes about 30 minutes.  After that you get a portal back to Orgrimmar where you turn in the last quest, get the achievement for unlocking that race, and are cleared to make one.

So I logged out and went to character creation.

Creating a Highmountain Tauren Warrior

I wasn’t sure what to go with, but warrior seemed like a viable option.  I already have a Horde druid and hunter.  And so I have a new character.  He started at level 20, which he needed to use the special mount that comes with each allied race.

The Highmountain mount is moose-like, which seems a little odd when you see a Tauren with moose antlers riding what seems to be a moose as well.  It is a bit like he is riding his second cousin or something.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

And now I have another level 20 character knocking about.  I am not sure when I will find the time, if ever, to level him up.

Of course, if I really wanted to, I could use the level 110 boost that came with the expansion.  I have no idea what else I would use it on.  But I think I will let that sit for a while before I use it.

Battle for Azeroth before Fall, Pre-Orders Now

World of Warcraft news is always big news.

Today Blizzard put up the next WoW expansion, Battle for Azeroth, up for pre-orders at the usual price points, $50 for normal and $70 for digital deluxe, which generally nets you a mount and a battle pet.  With my current battle pet mania going on I know where I might be headed.

Battle for Azeroth

Of course, it is always the details that capture my attention, especially anything that might indicate a ship date, and the pre-order page delivers with this line:

Pre-purchase: Battle for Azeroth will be released on or before September 21, 2018.

September 21, 2018 just happens to be the last day of summer on the calendar here in the temperate northern hemisphere.  It will still be warm where I live in any case.

Next on this list is, “Why should I pre-order this today?”

Well, you get that level 110 boost.  Given how long it took me to use the level 100 boost I got with WoW Legion… I think I used it finally in December… that isn’t a big draw for me.  I wouldn’t begin to know which character to boost at this point.  I already have four characters at level 110, and two more fairly close.

The battle pet and mount may take a while to show up.

Digital Deluxe items will be available on or before the release date of the game.

That is a bit vague.  Ah well, some day.

Gilded Ravasaur and Seabraid Stallion mount plus the Baby Tortollan Pet

So the only possible draw is really the promised Allied Races.

Pre-purchase of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth makes available the questlines which enable players to access the Highmountain tauren, Lightforged draenei, Nightborne, and Void elves. To unlock Allied Races quest lines, players must have a level 110 character and have met specific questing and reputation requirements on the factions that each Allied Race is aligned with.

Currently I am ready to go on the Lightforged Draenei, not that I need another alt.  The one I am interested in, the Highmountain Tauren require me to get all that rep again with a Horde character.  Fortunately, for my first time in WoW, I actually have a Horde character at the level cap, so it is doable.  More on that later.

As noted, the pre-order page is up and ready to take your money, though beware there is one small hitch.

Requires World of Warcraft and Legion.

Since WoW Legion is still the current live expansion, and has links right into Battle for Azeroth, you can’t just skip ahead if you do not have WoW Legion yet.

Anyway, you can pre-order today though, as with any Blizzard release, there might be a queue.

And for those keeping score, if the release goes on the last day that will put the time between that and the WoW Legion release at 752 days, which puts it pretty much mid-pack for duration.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 778 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 670 days
  • Legion to Battle for Azeroth – 752 days (estimated)

I suspect that Battle for Azeroth will ship sooner than that however, maybe another August release.  My prediction was that they would get that shipped and be done far enough ahead of BlizzCon 2018 that they could safely talk about WoW Classic with stealing any of the spotlight from the expansion.  We shall see.

Meanwhile the Battle for Azeroth Q&A broadcast has been going on, so I expect all sorts of additional details to pop up today.

Monday Morning BlizzCon Thoughts

World of Warcraft

Some big big news for Azeroth fans out of BlizzCon this year, the biggest of which was likely the new expansion, Battle for Azeroth.

Battle for Azeroth

I was genuinely surprised that this did not leak as much as past BlizzCon expansion announcements have.  I was also a bit unimpressed by the name.  I mean, Battle for Azeroth makes for a decent acronym unlike WoW Legion, but even Blizz pointed on that had used this phrase previously, though only as a description.

Also, Warcraft II

And so we have a new expansion headed our way about which I am not entirely enthused.  This is the problem with expansions; they eventually stretch an MMO out to in crazy directions and, unless you keep up and never take a break, it is easy to feel left behind or to ask when enough is enough?

I have in the past criticized Blizz for being unable to churn out an expansion in less than two years.  However, the flip side of that is we haven’t gone as crazy with content sprawl the way its contemporary, EverQuest II, has.  And I couldn’t even make a game list off the top of my head as to the number of zones EverQuest has.  Feeling the need to feed users a new expansion TWICE a year for quite a stretch, and then once a year since then has left EQ with a huge amount of content, most of which has been made obsolete by later changes.  The Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server started up back in February 2011 and has, with a couple of exceptions, unlocked content at the fastest rate allowed, and still has two expansions to go before it catches up to live.

That is cool and all… it is likely the only way to get  people to replay some of the plethora of zones in Norrath… but holy crap that is a lot of mostly neglected content.

So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on Blizz for their rate of expansion release.  Then again, if they could pace the content right, people wouldn’t care so much.  #NoMoreDraenors

Anyway, having purchased the Virtual Ticket and listened through the WoW panels, these are my initial gut reactions to various aspects of the what is coming.


  • New places to play/explore – and a double bonus for a troll themed location
  • Ten more levels
  • Unlocking some new playable races
  • Six more character slots per realm to allow for those new races
  • All the usual new stuff with an expansion
  • Islands expeditions with advanced AI behavior… this will really piss some people off
  • Island expeditions in normal, heroic, mythic, and PvP levels will keep too many people from being pissed off
  • Flying on the same trajectory as Legion
  • Another stats squish… this time with ilevel!
  • Bigger base bag eventually if you use the authenticator

Not so interesting:

  • Horde vs. Alliance being played up as a central theme
  • New playable races look remarkably like current playable races
  • 100% boost in playable elf races
  • Legion legendaries pretty much getting tossed
  • Azurite collection being the real central theme
  • The Heart of Azeroth? Somebody been watching Titanic?
  • War Fronts – Maybe this is Keen’s Warcraft 4 RTS?
  • New social features, if only because nobody I know plays WoW anymore so my friend’s list is almost always gray

Outstanding questions:

  • Will that level 100 boost I haven’t used turn into a level 110 boost?
  • Launch date?

We are, I will admit, a good year away from seeing this, so there is plenty of time to hammer out details, but I wasn’t carried away with that “I’m going to delete all my other games and play this forever!” temporary enthusiasm that can come with new expansion announcements.

Also on the list of things for WoW is expanded zone level scaling.  The whole WoW Legion thing about every zone being the right level for you will be hitting other parts of the game with the upcoming Patch 7.3.5, within some parameters.  You will, for example, be able to play from level 60-80 in either The Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King content.  Since, as things stand now, you will burn through the ten levels each provides long before you finish the content, this could be a boon.

Likewise, Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, both currently five level expansions, will scale from 80-90.  So you can skip Cataclysm and play the excellent zones in Mists of Pandaria.

Sounds good in theory, I will be interested to see how it plays out in practice.  I suspect that you’ll still outrun the levels bracket if you insist on doing both the quest chains and dungeons.  And, likewise, I suspect that you will effectively be able to do one expansion or the other and mostly not level out before you’re done.  They say you can switch back and forth, but the xp curve just isn’t going to support doing all the things from 60-90, the way that the current 1-60 leveling experience fails to support that.

WoW Classic

I’m just going to call this its own product for now.  No details, no timeline, and even Blizz admits that the obvious and potentially divisive “what is vanilla really?” question remains very much unanswered, but lots of reactions.  I think in the local blog neighborhood there were initially more posts and comments about WoW Classic than the expansion.  Some examples:

Posts and comments were all over the map, with surprise, enthusiasm, and disdain all represented, but it was a lot more positive than I thought it might be.  There was a very strong hate vibe towards any thoughts of classic back when Blizz was on that side of the argument.  Now that seems to have dissipated some.  Maybe because WoW Classic is getting its own development team so won’t be seen to be stealing resources from mainline WoW?

And, of course, the press was in in with “What the hell Blizz, you said you wouldn’t/couldn’t do this?”

My own favorite was the Steve Messmer piece over at PC Gamer (I even met him at EVE Vegas!) where he interviewed J. Allen Brack and made sure to take him to task for his 2013 BlizzCon comments about the prospects for a Vanilla WoW revival, the infamous, “You think you do, but you don’t” response. (Recorded and on YouTube of course.)

Telling people the don’t really want something that they’re asking for like you know better is never a winning play, and doubly so in the face of the popularity of other similar ventures in MMOs like EverQuest and RuneScape.  Fun stuff.

Meanwhile, a lot of what Blizz said about WoW Classic was set in the future tense.  It sounds like they had a small group do some research and found a viable path forward.  Everything else, however, seemed to be couched in “we will,” “we’re going to,” and “we want to.”  Basically, when Bhagpuss said something about the year 2020 I realized that we are at the tail end of 2017 and wanted to amend that with “the end of 2020… if we’re lucky.”  As I tend to say, we shall see.

And one of the lingering questions in the back of my head is how much will this cost?  Is this going to be a freebie people get with their current WoW subscription, which seems an obvious but not certain assumption, or will it really be its own product right down to the billing?  My guess is that it will be bundled with WoW… I think part of the reluctance for Blizz to roll another subscription MMO is not wanting to make people choose between their products… but we won’t know until Blizz tells us.


StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is now free.  So you have to pay $15 for remastered StarCraft but StarCraft II you can just download.  Yes, that isn’t exactly like matched against like, and old StarCraft is also free, but I find it amusing.

I also continue to feel a barely perceptible vibe that remastered StarCraft is getting a boost as a competitive esports platform while StarCraft II is heading more into a PvE, co-op, story line future.  Maybe that is just me.


Not much, as expected.  Really, only two 30 minute panels, one essentially about four Twitch streamers and one about the necromancer visual effect.  The Diablo franchise is asleep.  I suppose it is better than the long hibernation the franchise had after Diablo II, what with seasons and all, but nothing new is on the horizon.

Those Other Games

New heroes, maps, and/or card packs as applicable.  And they’re still fixing Heroes of the Storm.

BlizzCon Itself

As somebody mostly interested in World of Warcraft, I have to admit that I do pine a bit for the days when BlizzCon was really WoWCon with a StarCraft tournament along for the ride.  When I looked at the schedule I didn’t see a lot of WoW, which is something that made me consider skipping the Virtual Ticket.

But then there were the “What’s Next,” “Deep Dive,” and “Q&A” panels for WoW were all informative and worth going through. (The Q&A panel always makes me feel really good about the WoW community, because the questions are often either things I wanted an answer too or wished I had thought to consider) Those three answered a lot of the questions about the new expansion.  The three bullet point lists above about WFA I made during the opening ceremony and then updated as I listened.  I probably still missed some things… I know I did, actually… but I feel more informed.  And, as I tend to say, hearing how the teams present these things adds a layer of information you don’t get from the recap on the news sites.

Likewise the WoW art effects panel and creating a dungeon boss panel were both interesting to listen to, if less informative about upcoming products.  They were interesting from the angle of hearing about process, especially the boss creation

And then there was the Behind Blizzard Worlds panel, which was a nostalgia tour of Blizzard and products and ideas and who championed what and who was against this or that to start.

Contentious items included the whole Horde vs. Alliance things, which the EverQuest players, including Rob Pardo, initially felt would divide friends.  He got over that and we are seeing a renewal of that factional rift again with Battle for Azeroth.  I think, in the end, the server silos divided more people that the factions did, and the two factions did give us two story lines to play through with each expansion.

The real world 24 hour clock of Azeroth also faced a lot of push back.  Again, anybody who played EQ immediately thought of night time as dark and dangerous and thought the game might be nearly unplayable during prime time for most gamers.  Instead Azeroth is gently lit, and very playable, day or night.

And then there were the mistakes they made and the games they cancelled that shaped the company’s philosophy.  Don’t cry for Titan, it wasn’t the first MMO Blizz canceled.  Before WoW there was an MMO called Nomad that never saw the light of day.

So, while I would have liked more WoW on the menu, I guess I got a pretty good fill of information.   I want to go back and listen to the Blizzard Worlds and the Q&A panel again before they disappear from the Virtual Ticket site.  After than I will just have my memories and a pair of goofy mounts.

I think the Horde did better again this year

And so it goes.

Blizzard Announces Battle for Azeroth and WoW Classic

The expected event from the opening ceremony of BlizzCon came to pass when Blizzard announced the next expansion for World of Warcraft.

Battle for Azeroth

The setting is a renewed struggle between the Alliance and the Horde.  Initial details and the cinematic can be found on the Battle For Azeroth site now up.

In what I can only call a surprise turn of events, given the company’s outlook up to this point, Blizzard also announced that they were working on a restoration of vanilla WoW.

Classic Vanilla Flavor

Called World of Warcraft Classic, there were no details presented as to when or how this might come to pass, just that it is now officially a work in progress. We shall see what comes of with this.  But they have a video at least.