Tag Archives: Westfall

Everybody Comes to Westfall

We are now past the two week mark for WoW Classic and I feel like I haven’t gotten very far along.  People are moving along, I see people past level 30 in Stormwind regularly and “that guy on the horse” has become a regular feature. (Was it Ethic who named that concept, the person on their mount in town sitting there to show it off?)  Beside that I feel like I am poking along so slowly.

This is somewhat self-imposed as the instance group hasn’t been ready to ride yet, with moves, business trips, and end of summer vacations keeping people away.

And moving slowly isn’t all that bad.  I am not in any crazy race, nor was I ever likely to be in contention for any “world first” in the game.  There is lots to explore and see and do while keeping characters down in the level range for the first dungeon, Ragefire Chasm.

Plus, there are always alts.  I’m prone to making too many alts to start with, so keeping in the right level range has gotten me to four characters now in the level 14-16 range.  I have all four alliance races covered as well, as I now have:

  • Level 14 gnome warrior
  • Level 14 human paladin
  • Level 16 night elf druid
  • Level 16 dwarf hunter

That warrior might be my first gnome character in WoW.

So I have not been idle.  And they have all stepped into the zone where we’ll be headed, the zone where most people end up in at some point or another; Westfall.

Westfall – This Way

Westfall is one of the quintessential zones of Azeroth.  For the Alliance it is where a lot of players converge as the quest lines there lead to the Deadmines instance.  If you want to have Gryan Stoutmantle shout your name out to the zone you have to get on board the quest train.

He’s just hanging out waiting for you to show up

And, of course, Horde players have to find their way there as well if they want to do the instance.

While some of the starter zones have calmed down quite a bit… they are not dead, but I got my gnome warrior through the Coldridge Valley part of the dwarf/gnome starter zone in about 20 minutes because there were no more lines… Westfall feels like it is still full tilt crowded a lot of the time and very much alive with players.  And NPCs of memory.  Running into the zone you are greeted with the first quests right away from familiar faces.

Welcome to Westfall! How about a few quests?

Those are the Furlbrows, with Old Blanchy, who features in a couple other places in the game, including an appearance in the Old Hillsbrad dungeon in the Caverns of Time.  It was a bit of a shock when Blizz killed the lot of them for Cataclysm.

But there is no time to hang about there.  There are so many semi-overlapping quests in the zone that you might as well get them all.  One of the quests sends you to the next location anyway, Saldean’s Farm, where you pick up a few more. (And maybe stand around clucking in hopes of getting a chicken pet.)  Then it is off to Sentinal Hill to turn in the quest from Goldshire sending you to check in with Gryan Stoutmantle, who also has a quest for you, as does a couple of other NPCs.  Don’t miss the one down the hill by the inn… and don’t forget to grab the flight point.  Running is all fine and dandy, but sometimes you just want to get places.

The list of quests alone brings up a small wave of nostalgia.

Some of the early Westfall quests

Here the game starts to stress your inventory management.  Half of those quests need you to collect things.  You need four stacks of ingredients for Westfall Stew, another stack for Goretusk Liver Pie, gnoll paws for another, Defias bandanas for yet another, bags of oats for Old Blanchy, and a pocket watch for Ted Furlbrow.  It isn’t quite Green Hills of Stranglethorn level of inventory management, but when you are likely rocking six slot bags, things start to fill up fast.   And that doesn’t even start to count the random drops you’ll get.

Then you have to find the mobs for the drops.  That isn’t too hard.  They are often in handy camps.  The problem is that the camps are often well camped by players.  But the pick up group cooperation spirit of WoW Classic, or at least the Bloodsail Buccaneer server, continues on.  With a couple of characters I was able to find groups to hunt with.

Slaughtering the Defias at one of their camps

Grouping up is a great way to knock out the quests where you have to kill 15 of this or 20 of that, since everybody in the group gets credit.  And a group can hold and wipe out a camp that might be a bit much to take on solo.  Mobs, especially the gnolls, spawn close together so you often cannot pull just one.  With a group you can do the whole village.

Waiting for gnolls to pop again

The problem is the quests that require drops dole them out one at a time.  A good group will swap to free-for-all looting and people will stick around until everybody is covered.  Or mostly covered.  Sometimes somebody leaves and another joins and they’re just starting and there is a cycle through the group that could last all night if you stuck around.

And some of the drop rates kind of suck.

Welcome to the gnoll hunt

I get that maybe every Defias isn’t following dress code or maybe left their bandana on the dresser at home in the rush to get out to Westfall, but Gnolls would seem to have four paws, and boars at least one liver per.  Yet we ran across many a pawless gnoll or heavy drinking goretusk whose liver had decayed to the point of being useless for cooking.

I remember a late 2004 Lore Sjöberg article over at Wired from back in the day that spoke of the “kinder, gentler” ways of World of Warcraft (which is a bit of a time capsule point of view you can find here), that included a reference to how, if you slew a named mob for a quest that required you bring back their head, the corpse would nicely provide a head for everybody in the party.

And that is the case certainly, for a specific named quest mob.  But for a run of the mill Defias or gnoll, it is a maximum of one per corpse, not guaranteed.

Not that it is a huge burden.  I have always toyed with the idea in the back of my mind that this was on purpose back in the day, that in order to off-set the reduced experience you get for grouping Blizz makes you slay more mobs.  And, in the end, when you need eight or fifteen drops and you have none it feels like it will take forever, but it never takes too long until you’ve just got one left.

Anyway, I am through that first wave of quests in Westfall on a couple of characters, and into it with the others.  The hope is that we’ll be able to get a group together to try Ragefire Chasm this weekend.  That it is located in the back end of Orgrimmar will make this comedy gold I am sure.  But if we need to stall some more I am going to have to start another alt, and I am well down the list of options.  I only have rogues and cloth wearing casters left.  Or I could go Horde I suppose.  We’ll see.

Addendum: I noticed that I used the title of this post before.  I cannot resist an obscure allusion I guess.

Stonefield in Fifteen Achievements

I wrote about my current Rift goal last week, my desire to get one character of each of the class archetypes, warrior, rogue, cleric, and mage, to the level cap.  Already there with a rogue and a warrior, and well on the way with my cleric, that left only a mage to level up.

And my mage, Solyndro, was only level 8.

If this had been EverQuest of 1999 I might have despaired and passed on this goal.  Even WoW of 2005 or so would have made grinding another character to level cap a chore.

But this is 2012, and we don’t hold with that tough grind to level cap any more.  So Solyndro is already level 38 as of last night.  He only has 12 more levels to climb and 60 days in which to make the goal.  Not tough at all.

It became obvious pretty quickly, as I burst out of Freemarch after only a couple evenings, that running the 7 round Instant Adventure quest every night plus doing a bit of questing was going to make the level cap goal very attainable.  So I decided to add an additional side goal.

I decided I was going to play the hell out of certain zones, run down their full quest chains, explore all of their nooks and crannies, and leave only when I felt I was well and truly done.  Even if I started to level out of the content, I would use the mentoring system to level myself down and keep on playing.

And the first zone on the list was Stonefield.

Stonefield had the obvious advantage in that it stands as the next zone on the list of progression, so I could start right away.  Also, Instant Adventures run in Stonefield, so I could run that daily task in the zone as well.  And Stonefield is a zone that I haven’t really “finished” in the past.

Though I might say that about most zones in Rift.

The rate at which you level, if you are moving at a casual pace and building up a bit of rested experience between sessions, is such that you are usually ready for the next zone when you are somewhere between the half way and three quarter point in the quest chain.

Even before Instant Adventure came along, I think the only zone I felt I had really finished, aside from the intro zone, where you do not have much choice, is Freemarch.  In Freemarch I ran back around to root out the final quests to finish up.  And after Instant Adventure… well, you can go pretty far without too many zones.

So I did it.  I ran the Stonefield quest line from start to finish, even running down the end quests that lead you on to Scarlet Gorge.

And when I was done, did I “feel” done?

I suppose.

The gold standard for this sort of connected zone is the old Westfall, where you followed a story that started with Old Blanchy and lead you through the zone to the natural conclusions, the Deadmines.  You did the zone, got to the end, then found a group to do the instance.  When you turned in the quest that sent you to the zone, the Gryan Stonemantle announced your accomplishment in a zone-wide shout.  That was one of the great early points in the game, getting that shout.

Stonefield does not feel that well connected.  The story line gets broken up and the instance, Deepstrike Mines, which our group did back in March, comes along about two thirds of the way into the zone.  Once you hit Granite Falls, you have the quests to go do it and in past runs that is about where I have stopped.  And the instance, which is about fighting the Endless Court diverges from the Eth/Titans lore of the main zone.

On the flip side, you can get too tied into story.  Recall the post-Cataclysm version on the Redridge Mountains, a zone so dedicated to keeping you with the story that other players become an annoyance.  Of course, pop culture references ran amok in Redridge as well.

Ah well.  But I did get achievements.  And thanks to my enabling the social media aspect of Rift (though I gave the feature its own Twitter feed so it doesn’t spam the few followers on my main feed), the game automatically takes a screen shot every time I get an achievement.  This got me in the habit of trying to “pose” or at least face towards in an interesting direction when they hit.

That, in turn, ended up being kind of a nice little montage of my time in Stonefield.  Fifteen achievements all in a row.  I actually ended up getting all of the achievements that you can just “do,” aside from the one about killing giants.  The remaining ones involve rare spawns and completing collection quests.  I so rarely complete collection quests that I will probably never get that zone meta achievement, the achievement for getting all the achievements.

The only hitch was getting the achievement for doing quests, Playing the Field in Stonefield.  I was stuck at 86 out of 87 for a while until I looked up the quest list and found one I missed.  There is a quest giver on the rocks above the entrance to  Deepstrike Mine.  That actually opens up a couple more quests.

And then I did the Titan’s Well dive, slew the beast that resides therein, and it dropped another quest starter.  So there are enough quests to do the achievement.

My next zone focus is the Moonshade Highlands, where Solyndro has already started.  From there I think I will wrap up in Shimmersand, a zone in which I have done almost no quests.

But that is for later.  For now, here is my Stonefield adventure, in achievement screen shot form.

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Westfall Story

When you’re a Defias,
You’re an expendable pawn
From your first red bandana
To your final respawn.

-Defias Song, Westfall Story

When last we checked into Westfall, Gryan Stoutmantle had a big question mark over his head and I was certain that we would be getting stuck into the Defias.

Gryan Waits For Us

The Defias, curse their name, were all over Sentinal Hill, attempting to burn it down while engaged in ritual combat with the Westfall Brigade… combat that looked rather like an awkward and slow motion version of the Jets taking on the Sharks in West Side Story.

What task would Gryan Stoutmantle have for us.

As with last week, I’ll answer that after the break so as not to spoil Westfall for those who have not done it yet.

Continue reading

Westfall Ablaze!

It was Saturday night and after our previous interview with the King in Stormwind, (Varian Wrynn, not Elvis) it was about time to head back to Sentinel Hill in Westfall.

But to avoid revealing any spoilers I will put what happened after a break.  If you want Westfall to remain a mystery until you see it for yourself, go no further.

Continue reading

Werewolves of Westfall

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook’s
Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein

Werewolves of London

Back to Westfall with four worgen and one gnome.

After last week’s character roll-up and parallel play experience, it was time to form up and start running through the world as a group.

In Stormwind, at the bulletin board in the middle of town, there is a quest that leads you to Westfall.  There has been a crime committed, a murder most foul… which seemed a bit silly given the huge amount of killing going on all over Azeroth, but you follow the story where it goes.

And Westfall has been re-wrapped into a new story.  There always was a story to Westfall, one that lead you eventually to the Deadmines.  There were also many side-quests.  Now though, almost everything leads you down the path that is the new story in Westfall.

Old Blanchy is dead, along with the Furlbrow’s.  That is where things start, which was a pretty emotional moment for some, since we combine a group of animal lovers with the nostalgia prone, and poor Blanchy, whose shared his (her?) blanket with us, and was a fixture in Westfall from the beginning tugged the heart strings of both factions.  The Furlbrow’s and Blanchy were usually the firsts quests people found in Westfall.

The scene of the crime

With the Defias gone, who could be behind this?  Yes, sure, there are lots of cutpurses and thugs running around… but they are unaffiliated criminals.  The Defias had been broken with the death of Edwin VanCleef and exist no more.

We arrived at the crime scene are were immediately drafted to help out.

Our group for the investigation was:

  • Ethelred (the Unready) –level 13  Worgen druid
  • Earlthedog – level 14 Worgen warrior
  • Maloney – level 14 Worgen mage
  • Nancyboy – level 14 Worgen priest
  • Xula – level 15 Gnome warrior

The quest line include both new and reworked original quests.  There are quests related directly to the investigation, like eavesdropping on some thugs.

Go on talking, don't mind me and my dogs

While at other points we were killing murlocs and gnolls in order to gather evidence of dubious value.  What the hell do murlocs know? (Though they still drop that pirate treasure map… maybe that is why they send you off to kill a few.)

We did still have to make Westfall Stew, though collecting the Okra was a bit easier.  However, now when you finish the quest, you end up with a whole cauldron of stew which you then use to help feed the Stormwind refugees who are now all over the zone.

And while we did have to kill many harvest bots, as before, we did get a chance to ride around in our own bot to do at least some of the work.

Lining up the group to clear the field of harvest bots

Gone are some of the more annoying quests from the original zone.  Specifically, the ongoing series of quests where you have to kill x number of Defias type A and B, then C and D, then E and F, the G and H and a few of I.  Those are gone and good riddance to them.  While we could have knocked those out easily enough with the five of us, it is a lot of running back and forth and the like.

One side quest that is still there is the one to get the Westfall chicken pet.  We got distracted by that for a while as we made chicken noises at the local chickens we had an annoying tendency to get killed by the local coyotes at just about the point when their quest opened up.  Macros were soon deployed to assist in this.

Che cosa e lo succiacatori dei polli?

We kept up with that until four out of five of us had the chicken, then it was back to the main quest line.

Observing and reporting back is now one of the key parts of the quest line in Westfall.  You go observe some of the story unfold, then head back to report in on what you saw.  At one point we were given the classic box disguise to use to observe a meeting in a mine that involved a shadowy figure and Glubtok the mine foreman.

Just ignore those five extra boxes behind you

This sort of thing lead us all over the zone. Between the few side quests and the main quest line, we were pretty close to having the exploration achievement complete.  We ended up all over, from the lighthouse at one end of the zone to the tower, from one of the rogue class quests, at the opposite corner.  (You even get to sneak like a rogue through that tower, while being covered by a sniper in a ghillie suit who will bail you out with a well timed head-shot if you get in over your head.)

Eventually though, you have to head to Moonbrook.  And in the spirit of reworked Azeroth, Moonbrook has its own flight point now.

Can't we see the Sentinel Hill flight point from here?

Moonbrook is the center of the Westfall experience, housing as it does everybody’s favorite instance.

I discovered this more than five years ago

The Defias sign is still on the door I guess, in foot high letters saying “Hideout Here” to anybody who gets within range.

A bit of phasing goes on in Moonbrook.  In fact, it goes on throughout the quest line.  However, Blizzard seems to have gone with a much lighter touch when it comes to phasing.  It seems more organic to the zone than it did in some of the Northrend phases when a tower suddenly appeared or an army was suddenly wiped from the field before an outpost.

For example, in Moonbrook, we collected a few bits of evidence and went to turn them in.  Then we were told to infiltrate a gathering in town.  And when we turned around to face Moonbrook, we could see the edge of a crowd that had formed in front of the old Inn in town.  We went off to infiltrate.

Worgen and Top Hats... we fit in well with this crowd

There the shadowy figure, quite clearly female by this point, harangued the masses with a decidedly leftist agenda.  I’m surprised she didn’t adopt Lenin’s “hailing a cab” pose, so often replicated in the former Soviet Union.

We listened, got our update, and reported back to… well, the Stormwind version of the Okhrana I suppose (though without the fancy hats which generated such hate towards the Tsar)… probably SI:7.  They never really identified which organization they represented.  A bunch of patsies we are, I suppose.  They say go spy for us, or kill for us, with some sort of unlikely cover story, and we go do it without question.

We were the directed to actually go to the Deadmines.  We were told we could find it by following the trail of homeless people.  So there might be a reason that Marxism is gripping the masses in Westfall.  The social safety net of Stormwind seems pretty tattered.  Heck, they are getting random strangers to make food to feed the homeless rather than setting up some sort of organized food relief program.

And the foyer to the Deadmines was, in fact, teeming with homeless.  But eventually we reached the instance.

Follow the right wall and you'll get there every time

Inside though, the place was another crime scene.  It was crawling with Stormwind guards.

But we weren’t there to comb the scene.  We had been given a magic dingus that would allow us to travel in time so that we could view past events in the Deadmines.  Specifically, the defeat of Edwin VanCleef.

A grey and misty view of the battle played out before us, made more compelling by the fact that the group fighting VanCleef looked very much like our group from the first time we brought him down, back in 2006.

Battles from the Past

We watched a human warrior, dwarf rogue, gnome mage, along with a hunter and a priest, fight that famous battle.

And, as the victorious group looted and left, something else happened in the scene.  Somebody else was present, and we (along with everybody else who ever did the instance successfully) missed them.

We took this information back to Sentinel Hill and reported in.  But we were too late with our news.  The mysterious figure stood revealed… the figure we saw at the end of the scene from the past, only changed… and not for the better as far as Stormwind was concerned.

Unleashing revolutionary terror at Sentinel Hill

She challenged the authority of Stormwind. (We tried that once.)  But who was she? And how many people will dress up like her for BlizzCon next year?

No longer shadowy, but still a mystery

Well, you find out who she is right there, but I won’t spoil it.  Not yet, anyway.

As Sentinel Hill in Westfall burned, we headed back to Stormwind to inform the king of these events.

Back in Stormwind with the King

Of course, the King wanted us to go investigate further, which meant a trip into the Deadmines.

Only we were about done for the night at that point, so we will get to the Deadmines on our next outing I hope.  Though with Christmas and New Years covering the next two Saturdays, it might be a while until we can follow up and get to the heart of what is going on in Westfall.

And then we’ll have the answer to who killed Old Blanchy!  Old Blanchy is core!

Everybody Comes to Westfall…

In World of Warcraft each of the major Alliance cities has a set of starting areas that will, if you follow the bread crumb trail left by the quest givers, get your character into the 30s before you need to merge onto the common quest superhighway that everybody follows to level cap.

The night elves over on Kalimdor have Teldrassil, Darkshore, and Ashenvale.

The dwarves and gnomes have Dun Morogh, Loch Modan, and the Wetlands.

The humans have Elwyn Forest, Westfall, and the Red Ridge Mountains… and Duskwood too.

Our cloven hoofed Draeni friends get a little short changed with only Azuremyst Isle and Bloodmyst Isle play in before they have to join somebody elses party, but that still can get them to 20.

The first zones listed above for each group seems to be relatively active on the servers on which I play.  But the second zone seems to be dead, except for Westfall.  Westfall is always very active and full of humans, night elves, dwarves, and draeni.

I have to admit that the pattern hold true for my characters as well.  If I look at their reputations, their standings are all highest with Stormwind, no matter their race.  That is, of course, because after their initial experience, I ran them all to Elwyn Forest and Westfall and the quest lines there.

I do not know if the quest lines in human territory are superior to the other locations, but you might get that impression from the population.

And so I was amused to find that my mother and my daughter managed to find their way to Westfall without any real guidance from me despite the fact that they both play night elves as their primary characters.  Westfall is the place to be.

Of course, with the Wrath of the Lich King changes they got to take a boat straight from Auberdine to Stormwind, thus skipping the low level night elf nightmare run across the wetlands and through to Loch Modan that so many of us endured to get the hell away from Darnassus.

So our last couple of gaming sessions have concentrated on getting through the Westfall quest lines.  And true to the title of this post, Westfall is still a very active zone with people running all over to complete the various quest lines.

Everybody also includes some bored horde players as well it seems.  We had a problem with a level 80 Bloodelf player who was sitting in Moonbrook and killing the Defias Traitor that people were trying to escort to the Defias hideout to complete a quest.  We gave up after a couple of attempts and came back later to finish it.

And, in finishing that quest, I think we are all lined up for a run through the Deadmines.

I don’t think we’ll be able to do it in our little group, but I have a level 40 hunter on the same server.  I’ll get him out and lead us through the instance.  That is our WoW plan for this weekend.