Archive for the “Bearwall” Category

Midst the flood of news recently came a little woolgathering from Ghostcrawler, as he told Digital Spy that they would like to put expansions out more frequently, and as often as once a year or so “would be a good rate”.

I noticed he didn’t say they were going to put them out once a year, or commit to doing them once a year. He only said that they know new expansions bring more people back than a content patch, and they’d like to do them more often.

“We really want to get to a cadence where we can release expansions more quickly. Once a year I think would be a good rate. I think the best thing we can do for new players is to keep coming out with regular content updates.” - Ghostcrawler.

I’m not seeing a promise to put out a new expansion every year, although I have seen folks rephrase it as though this is the new moose. Will we see people yelling at Blizzard years in the future, “But you promised you’d put out a new expansion each year!”

Undoubtedly. Reading comprehension is a fading skill.

But so what? What IS an expansion, anyway?

How does a new expansion differ from a content patch?

To me, an expansion is an entire story arc coupled with new technology upgrades, added mechanics and features.

The story arc is the part I love the most, but the technology upgrades probably have the most impact on my everyday gameplay.

I do not expect the same updates or upgrades to the engine each expansion, or the same bumps in character capability. I just expect that there be some improvements to the software, some technology upgrades, some under-the-hood tinkering.

So, like with Warlords of Draenor. I am hearing people complain and saying how disappointed they are that there aren’t new classes or races announced. “It’s not an expansion without at least one new class or race.”

I can see why you could think that. Burning Crusade brought Blood Elves and Draenei, Wrath of the Lich King brought Death Knights, Cataclysm brought Worgen and Goblins, Mists of Pandaria gave us Monks and Pandaren.

It’s a fair point to make.

I don’t personally subscribe to the belief that what was done once must be done always, until the end of days, world without end amen. So they’re not doing a new class or race this time. Okay.

They ARE, however, committed to updating the character models and animations of every single race out there, and I have heard it said they are adding more hair styles and color options.

I don’t have this mythical new class or race, but what I do have are eleven full character slots on my main server, with five character at max level and more on the way, each and every one of whom could benefit from looking prettier.

New Garrisons. New world PVP. New elite PVP modes for those who want the PVP version of Challenge Modes, skill instead of gear. Item Squishes, gear that changes primary stats based on your current specialization, Heirlooms on a UI and out of the bags, Garrisons, more class levels and new class talents.

Yes, this upcoming expansion is bringing tech and mechanic improvements. So to me, that checkbox is filled.

And we’re getting a new story arc. Warlords of Draenor. Going to old Draenor and taking the fight to the Horde… before they were a Horde, and before they ever did anything to us. So, basically, we’re getting our revenge in first. Preemptive Revenge.

So, if we invade Draenor and kick all kinds of snot out of the Orc tribes, in the years to come will they nurse their anger and thirst for revenge against us? After all, Han Shot First and all that.

What I personally want to see is the part of the story arc after the initial rush. That first content patch after the expansion has been out for three months, when we’ve killed most of the male Orc tribal leaders… and their wives seize control of the clans, swear vengeance and set out to make us pay.

Then we can have a great slog in the mud as everything gets all twisted. The Orcs were manipulated into attacking their former friends, the Draenei. But they didn’t drink Mannoroth’s blood, they still possess free will, and here came these invaders from another world who tore into the Iron Horde and slaughtered their leaders before they had the chance to make their own decision to turn back to the path of justice.

The Iron Horde are not inherently evil, they cannot be, for they are the living parents of our own Orc peoples.

So what happens when we get ours in first, and they respond to that? When they rise to this unexpected challenge? When the Warlords that were duped fall and new leaders rise in their place, leaders that may not have fully bought into this whole “let’s go kill the Draenei and wear their skins as clothes” bullshit, but sure as HELL aren’t going to let us just waltz in and kill their families.

It’s going to be interesting as all hell. Where will it go? Where will it end? Blood feuds will come from this. And what of the Orcs of our Azeroth, going back to fight their own ancestors, once lost to them?

This isn’t that long ago, what of Orcs facing otherworld versions of themselves…

Will the Orcs of the Iron Horde think of themselves as the superior race because they did NOT weaken themselves by drinking the blood of a demon? A master race?

Will they be a people capable of both atrocity and compassion, or cardboard cutouts? Are we looking at Orc Socialism on the move?

I am excited as hell because Blizzard has ALWAYS satisfied me with their storytelling and their intricate plots. Go  back and take a look at Mists of Pandaria, track how we started with a lost prince on a mysterious island, grew through discovery of ancient peoples and fascinating cultures, fought a massive war against the Mogu and the overall insidious nature of the Sha poisoning everything, and finally culminating in a faction leader trying to take some of that power and seize his chance at ultimate victory over everyone he sees as an enemy.

Which turns out to be everyone not exactly like him, or the mercenary Goblins he hires.

This new story arc is so full of potential I’m squeeing in glee. So many ways to take this Warlords of Draenor thing over an entire expansion arc filled with multiple content patches.

So much potential for fun.

What is an expansion?

It’s lots of new game features and improvements, and a big honking story arc.

Can they do a new expansion every year?

Sure, as long as they tighten up how long the planned story arc will be to one year in length with the content patches coming  every two to three months. And as long as they continue to have new features and improvements in the pipeline that seem significant when they are unveiled each year.

I know it sounds silly but while I do like having content coming out sooner, I don’t want tons of new content coming out quite that fast.

I think most of Mists of Pandaria hit me at just the right pace. Maybe a few weeks of free time after I had absorbed each one before the next came out.

How fast we play the content is different for each person. For every player that has best in slot gear and has already completed Siege of Ogrimmar on normal, there are probably 50 that are still collecting Sigils or Valor for their Legendary cloak quest.

Just as there has to be new content for us to get excited over, there has to be a codetta afterwards to give us space to breath. We enjoy the content, work hard to reach levels or reputations or gear points, unlock content, and then we take a moment to look upon our works and relax before tearing into it once more.

I would actually like to see something different than a traditional expansion each year.

What I would like to see is one true expansion with the technological marvels and new features with the big story arc lasting a year of smaller content patches as chapters…

And then the second year would focus on another big story arc, new areas to explore and adventures to go on. The Burning Crusade storyline, zones, dungeons and raids without the programming time spent working in two new races, more levels and above all the time spent trying to re-balance it all in playtesting.

Yes, the art assets, quest design, all of that would be just as intense as ever, massive amounts of work for Blizzard to prepare. But without the balancing that new levels or classes impose on us, I think we could get to the new storylines sooner.

Anyway.

What do you think? What features or improvements do you feel are necessary to take something from a content patch and make it a real expansion worth purchasing a box?

And how fast do you really want them to come? Has Mists of Pandaria left you feeling bored between content patches, overwhelmed by all the new things to do that hit before you’re done with the last chunk, or has it been just right?

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I ask myself sometimes what it is about World of Warcraft that sunk it’s teeth so firmly into my butt and won’t let go.

What is it, that one thing you think of when you play the association game.

Sure, there may be a hundred different things something means to you, but what is that one thing you smell, the picture you see, when you first call World of Warcraft to mind.

For me, World of Warcraft has nothing to do with guilds, gear, raids, leveling or even quests as a ‘dude had an exclamation point over his head’ thing.

It’s all about the adventure.

The image, the feelings that come to my mind are the sensations I had as a young Night Elf Druid, in cat form, prowling over the mountain trail from Desolace into the northern jungles of Feralas.

In that first year of World of Warcraft, all of my first impressions were formed. Alone in the game, no real guild, rarely any friends on, just me, a Druid, and an entire unknown world of vast size to explore.

Adventure lay around every corner. New things to see, new lands, new peoples, new enemies to fight. Ruins and caverns and ancient temples. The worshippers of old gods to thwart, the vitality of the Horde to face down, cultures at war and a new experience at hand every time I logged in.

In those early days where Thottbot gave hints on where to find the solution to your quest, you were mostly on your own. You never knew what you were going to run into around the next corner, you didn’t even know who controlled the land you were prowling into next. An Alliance fortress? A lost Tauren stronghold? Pirates, Ogres, an island of serpent people assaulting Night Elves, who could possibly guess?

That is what World of Warcraft truly means to me. When I think of the game, I still flash back to that Night Elf Druid boldly exploring a world where anything could lie around the next corner, and it’s nameplate could be red for “OMG RUN RUN RUN AWAY AAAAHHHHHH, dead, one shot, that bastard, who the hell put a 56 elite there and holy shit look at how close they spawn to each other, gack.”

It has been a very long time since those days, right? Now there are a thousand voices screaming to be heard, all desperate to tell you all about what lies around that corner, what rare will spawn there, what the frequency is, what is in it’s loot list and how you can map it in TomTom so you can farm them as efficiently as possible.

For me, those long lost days of exploration are about to come around once again.

I have managed, mostly through withdrawing from all media, to avoid all spoilers about the new Timeless Isle.

I know where it will appear, and I know there will be rares, and bosses, and Celestials, and coins to collect, and a Celestial Tournament for pet battling, and all sorts of events.

Yeah, that sentence about sums up my total knowledge of the Timeless Isle. Oh yeah, and Ordos the legendary locked boss.

It sometimes feels as though the Lets Play group has taken over, and people aren’t interested in playing a game themselves, experiencing things for the first time on their own. They want to watch someone else have fun on a Twitch streaming channel.

I just don’t understand that, and it’s okay. I don’t get the point of passively watching other people have fun playing sports, either. I can either play and have fun, or go do something else. I don’t get the point of watching someone else have fun playing a game. But other people do, and that’s cool. For them, there are plenty of streaming channels where you can watch other people have fun playing video games.

Me, I’m about to step foot into the Timeless Isle tonight. I will be striking out, exploring, no idea what lies around the next bend.

I don’t give a shit if someone wrote a guide, I don’t need a guide, I’m a badass and I WILL explore this new land and pry it’s secrets from the charred, skeletal hands of it’s soon-to-be-dead masters.

I will not be following in anyones footsteps. I will be the one forging a trail in search of the lost temple of gold, the fountain of eternal youth, or the altar of the timeless gods. Which will I find? All, some, none of the above? Will I be destroyed for my foolishness in meddling with forces beyond my mortal ken?

I will not be the most efficient. I will not obtain the most coins or potential drops or rare kills in the least amount of time. I will not be dinging Celestial boss kills as fast as they can spawn. And I’m okay with that.

For the first time in years, something is being unleashed that I can take the time to enjoy for myself, at my own pace, and really not give a shit if there is loot to be found that will make me more powerful for raids. I suck in raids anyway, another piece of loot ain’t gonna change that.

I can already feel that tension, just thinking about logging in. What will I find? What will be there, around the next corner?

My only fear is simple. Will the Timeless Isle be so small that it feels not like I am an adventurous explorer, but more like I am just one more body lost amidst the ravening horde?

I look forward to seeing what happens. I want to be alone, lost amidst the teeming forest, pushing aside the fronds with my machete in search of something no man or woman has set eyes on in a thousand years.

There will be time enough for people when the Flex Raid comes around.

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The next chapter of the World of Warcraft story is setting both ‘factions’, Horde and Alliance, to the task of invading Orgrimmar and slaying our own homegrown big bad, Garrosh.

We knew Garrosh from his days as an emo punk in Outlands, where we had to jolly him out of his funk and convince him that his dear old dad Grommash “Grom” Hellscream wasn’t really such a bad guy, for an orc that willingly drank the blood of a demon to gain the power to crush his foes, and inspired others to do the same.

Hold that thought.

Since those humble beginnings, we have seen Garrosh become the fiery hothead, rising as a trusted if impulsive hero in Northrend. One jarring note to his heroism, though, was the way he put his personal pride before duty to his people. When the threat of the Old Gods rose in Ulduar, it was Garrosh that refused to work together with any Alliance that held Varian Wrynn. All that lived might have been at risk of death and destruction, but Garrosh would not waver. He would rather die than join forces with Varian and the Alliance. Yes, even in the face of an Old God rising in Ulduar.

From this history, Garrosh has now risen as a fascist tyrant, expelling the ‘lesser’ races from his Horde.

It is his people that Garrosh sees as the only true Horde. The orcs are to be the masters, and all others are tools to serve his purpose, only to be cast aside once broken or useless to his needs.

To further his goal, he has even gone so far as to use the remains of an Old God to empower the orcs of the Horde.

Where his father drunk the blood of the demon Mannoroth to gain power for himself and his people, the son takes in the power of the Old Gods themselves.

When we were teaching Garrosh of the heroic history of his father, which was the lesson he learned?

Did he focus on what Thrall felt the heart of the story was, the redemption and freedom Grommash bought his people at the cost of his death, slaying Mannoroth?

Or did he instead focus on the goal of his father, the empowering of the Horde through supernatural means, and decide that the real problem was Grom chose the wrong source to gain his power from?

I know that there are ambivalent feelings concerning the story. First, once again we the players are not the core of the story driving it forward. We’re the bit players brought in to act for the protagonists. Also, the Alliance is not taking much of an active role in the story, we are merely helping out our new friends, the Trolls.

They’re not heavy, they be our bruddas.

It seems pretty reasonable to me. As horribly jarring as the bloodthirsty, impatient portrayal of Tyrande was in “A Little Patience”, the scenario went to great lengths to show Varian as a war leader who had finally learned to make a cold, clear assessment of what is best for his people, and act accordingly, putting personal feelings aside.

For the King we are introduced to in that scenario, and for the King who feels his incredible sorrow and rage at what happens to his son with the Divine Bell but manages to control his feelings, it makes sense.

For the Alliance, the smart thing is to seek allies, allow the Trolls and other cast-aside enemy races of the Horde to bear the brunt of the war, and be prepared to take advantage of how things play out, one way or another, without overcommitting his own people.

Will we see Varian the statesman emerge, ready to join with the Trolls and Tauren in the aftermath, help them rebuild? Extend the hand of friendship, help ease their pain?

Or will Varian take advantage of their moment of greatest weakness?

It doesn’t matter. This isn’t a story to highlight the personalities of the Alliance, we’ll see that when it’s all said and done in Orgrimmar.

This is all about the fracture within the Horde leadership, and what is driving it is the insecurity of the orcs within the Horde itself, es evidenced by the most insecure orc leader of them all, Garrosh.

When we the players stepped foot in Azeroth, the Horde were the underdogs, scratching out an existence and bound to each other for survival against the threat of the mighty Alliance who lay just over the horizon, ready to fall upon them in vast fleets and crush the life from their families, their children.

Each of the races of the Horde, individually, had to choose to hang together or surely they would fall apart.

The persecuted and the mongrels, yes. The unwanted, or the feared. But these underdogs weren’t laying down waiting for master to come and kick them. They were junkyard dogs ready to tear the throat out of anyone that came uninvited to their patch of dirt.

At the heart of this Horde, this band of misfits, were the orcs, a people who had been subjugated by the Burning Legion, uprooted from their homeland and dumped in a new world to slaughter and burn, and when the Burning Legion failed, were scattered and lost in Azeroth.

The remains of the fallen orcs were lost, on another world, without hope for the future, no chance to return home or ever know what became of families or kin. Existing without purpose or design, under the iron heel of the Alliance boot.

And then Thrall came, Thrall who had been a slave in the truest sense, treated not as an equal but as a dog that could be taught to do tricks and take scraps from the hand of the master.

Thrall proved that no man was his master, and his passion revived the orcs. He brought them hope, took them to a land they could try to make their own, with nothing but the strength in their backs and hope.

Hope that in this strange, alien world they could make a life for their families on their own terms, and be slaves to nobody and nothing ever again.

Not the Burning Legion, not the Alliance. Live free or die.

Look at where things have gone since that beginning.

Thrall took the Horde from being the underdogs, and made them a true equal with the Alliance. Equal enough to force a peace. One or the other faction may at times have held the upper hand in Alterac Valley, but in the end a balance was maintained.

Then Deathwing shattered the world, and Thrall left.

Thrall was a statesman. Passionate, full of grief and rage and loss, he still placed himself and his life in the service of the Horde as a collection of families, as a whole people, and directed his efforts towards safeguarding the future of these his adopted peoples and trying to accomodate all of their varied goals and needs.

When the world was threatened with destruction, Thrall left to do what he could, for if the world was destroyed so too would be the Horde. And sure, the Alliance too, so I guess he was saving them as well. But whatever, it’s not like he could only save the bits that he liked.

But what he did when he left was choose to place a fiery, passionate warrior in the position of Warchief of the Horde. He had others he trusted he could have chosen, but he chose a brother orc, one that was proven to be a hothead with a hatred for the Alliance who could inspire, and gave him an advisor with a cooler head to restrain his wilder impulses.

He chose someone that would never be satisfied with passive acceptance. He chose someone that would never sit idle under the watchful eye of the Alliance.

He chose someone that would push the Alliance, work to build stronger safeguards for the Horde, expand territory, protect borders, and lead with passion.

He chose someone to lead the Horde that was the exact opposite of what the orcs had been when interned in their concentration camps. Someone that would never, ever revert to that state once Thrall was gone.

Did Thrall choose Garrosh not because he trusted Garrosh more than the other leaders, but because he feared the effect passive leadership might have on his people? Does Thrall fear a return to the days of hopelessness and apathy?

Does Thrall, in his heart, think the orcs of Azeroth lack spirit and passion? Does he place greater faith in the passion and heart of the orcs who remained behind on Draenor?

Is that partly why he placed Garrosh in power as Warchief of the Horde, and found true love in an orc from Draenor who had never lived a life beyond the Dark Portal, lost and spiritless?

Thrall led the orcs of Azeroth, but did he fail, in his heart, to place his faith in them?

Now, the Horde have come full circle.

The Horde were founded by a band of refugees who formed alliances with a scattering of strong races, each outside of the human “Alliance”.

That has all changed. The orcs stand strong, proclaiming themselves as the only true Horde, full of pride and rage, determined to stand supreme, and their former allies are cast out and abused, treated as tools, nothing more.

Whatever else you may say about Garrosh, he has strengthed, inspired and expanded the orc empire in Kalimdor.

He has sought with an ever-growing frenzy to find some source of power to ensure the survival of the orcs and the Horde, a survival against a threat only Garrosh seems to see.

Has Garrosh done all this because he is still working from what he learned about the fate of his father?

Is the reason that Garrosh wants all of this power under his control, that he fears the one thing strong enough to kill his father, the return of the Burning Legion?

I wonder about why Garrosh is counting on all the armies of Azeroth coming to him, to kill him in Orgrimmar. Is he hoping to use the power of the Old Gods and his new allies to corrupt all the finest warriors of the world, place them under his command as the one who controls the Heart, and thereby prepare the planet for the arrival of the Burning Legion?

Or, maybe he’s just a crazy mo-fo, standing on top of the tallest hill in the junkyard, screaming at the world, “Come at me, bro!”

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Ah, you feel that?

That wonderful time dwellnig in the trough between the waves.

A new patch comes, content gets dumped in the water like chum and we scramble to tear it up and get it all down…

That’s over now.

Now we glide idly through the game taking a nibble or two, relaxed and happy, digesting the last big meal, letting off a burp or two knowing we’re going to get another dump of chum in just a few weeks.

Maybe you’re in a different place right now, but that’s how the cycle feels to me. A patch comes, new stuff to do and shinies to pursue, and the server slams the twin Evinrudes full throttle chasing after it. We all thrash around overfishing the same small holes until everyone hits their limit for the season, and then we get to relax a bit before the next tourney.

Perfect pacing, thank you. Having just a little time to enjoy our success gives us a palate cleanser before the next patch brings fresh fish.

Patch 5.2 has been good, but the thrill has trailed off. The raid is out in full and it’s been good… but it has lost that new raid smell.

New raid smell. Need to get me a can of that, spray it on the seat cushions.

I like where we are at because we know the lull will definitely end, and soon. We don’t have the empty wasteland of nothing to do for the next eight months staring us in the face.

I’m spending my time chilling out and finishing off some of those Pandaria reps that were so two patches ago. I’ve been doing the farm assignments to get reputation each day, and I had the bright idea of patrolling the Valley of the Four Winds for Dark Soil, to try and get Best Friends with everyone.

I figured by this point, everyone who just had to have everyone as Best Friends did, so I wouldn’t have much competition for the Dark Soils.

The result? Yep, true story. Some nights, I’d do a pass and end up with 15 Dark Soil items to turn in before going back for another round. Only took a week of flying around to get ‘em all. My farm looks mighty purty now, and I like the chickens. Wish I could click one, kill it and have chicken to fry for my dinner. Ah well, as long as Dog gets to have a fresh chicken snack pack, it’s all good.

I just completed exalted with both Golden Lotus and Shado Pan last night, too. Yes, both. It was the first time any of my characters reached exalted with either of them.

Completed Cloud Serpent a few weeks ago, too. After all, why not? I’ve got some time now that the Isle of Thunder is completely unlocked.

Now that I have the rep, sooner or later I’ll have all of those tigers, cloud serpents, cranes and goats. New mounts are a grand thing. My low level alts will look nice on the back of a blue Shado Pan tiger.

I’ll tell you something. As nice as pet battles and scenarios are, I love having those faction reputations to pursue in my free time.

It’s not the Valor or Justice gear. Those are a joke. They are perishable items, and most of them were stale at their price points on the day they were released.

No, the reputations are fresh and tasty because most of them have FUN stuff to get, stuff that has nothing to do with gear or game performance.

By all means, Blizzard. Give me some factions with a cool story arc and daily quests, and a quartermaster with pets, mounts or attractive transmog gear.

You can keep all the Valor and Justice gear, get that off the faction quartermasters. Stick that somewhere else. Just put a gear vendor in a capitol city that isn’t gated by reputation levels. Valor Points are gated by a weekly cap anyway, so why put a rep level gate on top of it? Just put all the new Valor gear for a tier there at once, and let me decide which single piece I’m saving my Valor for first. I don’t think that having all the items available to pick from is unbalanced when you are still limited to only one item per two to three weeks of capping Valor. Oh no, if all the gear is available from the beginning, then in twenty weeks I could have it all without grinding Rep! Oh noes! Yep, that’s too damn OP. For sure, dude.

The game should feel challenging and reward a certain amount of dedication without feeling gratuitously punishing. What feels punishing is subjective, but I said my piece on Valor Gear vendors, and now I’ll drop it.

Back to the point of factions, daily quests and reputation.

I love having these in the game as filler, without being tied to necessary gear upgrades. I like not feeling that I have to grind that rep every day to stay on top of where my gear should be at.

I might not do the faction today, I might not spend every waking moment grinding rep. I might have a raid instead, or real life, or whatever. A week long family vacation, maybe.

But when I’m queued and flying around bored waiting for something to pop, I’ll go to your faction hub and do some quests, smack some Mogu around and take their fruity pebbles.

I know I said it at the beginning of the expansion, and it’s holding true. I love having faction daily quest hubs that are story driven with actual arcs and new quests at various rep levels along the way, and end in some kind of story reveal or special quest that wraps it all up for you.

A new mount, pet or transmog item for a final reward is the sweetest prize ever. That Onyx Cloud Serpent for Shado Pan? Beautiful mount, and getting it felt like a prize that enhanced an already great final faction quest rather than being something I ground to get for a better ilevel.

I’ve even come around to appreciating the Order of the Cloud Serpent gating the training required to fly one. Although I still think the training should be account bound. You raise one yourself, it’s special, and you fly it for a while, but there are other, special cloud serpents out there waiting for you.

I haven’t reached exalted with August Celestial on anyone, but I’m looking forward to that as well.

I like the direction Blizzard has gone with Factions. My only worry is whether they can maintain the quality of the faction quests and story arcs. They have set the standard very, very high.

The completion of each Faction story arc have become some of the best moments in the game for me. The final Klaxxi reveal, the defense of the Black Ox for Shado Pan, the defeat of the Bloodletter and the battle on the steps of Mogushan Palace for the Golden Lotus. The whole sequence with Operation: Shieldwall.

I find myself doing the factions to see what will happen next. And isn’t that what you want from the people playing your game or reading your story? To keep them looking forward to finding out what happens next?

Oh, and the final ceremony of the Order of the Cloud Serpent! That was steller! Alex loved it, too, when he completed it. And the fact he could go tame serpent hatchlings. :)

That is what it all comes down to. That is the cycle I’m enjoying, all boiled down.

A new patch comes with content for boosting your gear and power. We tear into it and burn through as fast as we can to stay on the leading edge of Valor gear and LFR drops. But when the patch is been and gone, when we enter the lull, it is the faction daily quest hub that I fall back on, with progression at my pace, a story to look forward to, and a cute fun reward at the end of it.

Please Blizzard, just keep on doing what you’re doing. Only more so.

:)

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Everyone, please say hello to the newest member of my family, Barry!

Because he's blue... yeah, I know, I don't care, I LOVE the name, so bite me, or gore me, but just don't bore me.

The one thing I really wanted when this patch went live was to visit Dinosaur Island.

Okay, sure, they’re calling it the Isle of Giants, but we all know what we’re getting, and the island doesn’t disappoint.

What I didn’t have a clear idea of when I logged in was just how to get there, or what to do when I did.

I had a breadcrumb quest to send me to the Island of Thunder, but other than that, nothing.

Well, kiss my furry butt, I saw someone mention the Isle of Giants was north of Kun Lai Summit, so I figured if I flew far enough, well, I could figure it out.

Sure enough, I flew due north of the center of Kun Lai, and there across some fatigue-laden water was an island… and it must be the right one because I was dismounted and dropped into the ocean before I reached shore.

When I did come ashore, there were flight points centrally located on the southern shore where I swam up, and a bunch of big honking elite dinosaurs.

Score!

So… first order of business, how do I get me hands on one of them suckers?

Well, the REAL first order of business was to get a rare drop book which will teach me How To Tame My Dragon… er, I mean Dinosaur.

The dinos here aren’t exotic, so you don’t have to be a Beastmaster like me to tame one… but all hunters have to get the book first.

Technically, it’s the Big Book of Dinos, or the Ancient Tome Of Dinomancy, or something.

It does not drop from the dinos, it drops from the trolls that are worshipping the dinos… the Zandalari Dinomancers.

The same Dinomancers that have a chance to drop one of the four possible battle pet drops on the island.

I shall present to you a map. These are pictures, here on my blog, so be properly appreciative. I hate adding graphics to my blog, it feels so, so dirty. Pandering to the man. Damn the man! I don’t care if ‘the book’ says you need pictures on your blog to catch the eye. Telling me what I ‘should’ do is the perfect way to get me not to do it.

But I still like pretty pictures. I’m so torn! Conflicted bear is conflicted. :(

damn there are a lot of freaking elite badass dinosaurs on this island. I'm so happy!

The way this works is, I landed where the red trail begins, and worked my way left. Where the red trail ends, at the arrowhead, is a cave, and within the cave is the vendor to whom you can give the Giant Dinosaur Bones you collect.

I found the hatchlings dropped between 7 and 9 bones per kill, and the trolls dropped one, yes ONE per kill. I did not live through any of my solo attempts at the big dinos, so I have no idea what they drop.

I only came across three Dinomancers along my red route, so I continued on with the yellow route, exploring. I found lots and lots of awesome colored dinosaurs that made me grateful to have Camouflage, and I got ate a lot, but   no trolls.

Let me tell you, the feel was of Vanilla Un’goro Crater on CRACK. I’d pull a hatchling and be fighting it, and huge honking T-rex comes stomping up from behind without my noticing, and next thing I see is a foot bigger than I was stomping on me, and boom! Dead ass panda.

It was awesome. Stealth T-Rexes are BACK!

Anyway, I followed the yellow route through the black tar pits and along the edge of the cliffs until I came to where I have the yellow trail ending, and the orange area circled.

That there is a Dinomancer village, about 6 to 8 spawn points of Zandalari Dinomancers, and it felt remote enough that I could farm some trolls to try and get my book in peace.

My biggest fear was drop rates, and mob rarity. I have a feeling everyone is digging into the Isle of Thunder dailies right now, and before too long every hunter in the game is going to come here to farm their own Books of Dinosaur Awesomeness.

My family and I are leaving for a weeks vacation tonight, and will be offline for the entire week. I could feel the window of opportunity racing to pass me by. I figure, I come back, and this is going to be the Island of Overfarmed Trolls.

I did mention they drop pets too, right? Yeah. Cute ones.

So I dug in and decided I wasn’t going to quit until I had the book, and had tamed my two favorite dinos, the blue Direhorn pictured above and the black t-rex with golden stripes that can be found in the central tar pit area.

Obviously, I got the book. Spoiler alert.

What isn’t obvious is how long it took me.

Fighting the trolls solo, just me and my Decoy pet, it took 155 Dinomancer kills before a book dropped.

In that time, I had 19 of the new Zandalari Hatchling style pets drop for me. Enough that I had the complete set of 4 for myself, mailed the Cub and Cassie each their own complete sets, and still had, um, LOTS to put on the Auction House.

I also, and this was funny to me, got 100 Red Blossom Leaks and 100 Juicycrunch Carrots as drops. No meat. Troll Dinomancers are vegetarians!

That drop rate was what I experienced, your mileage WILL vary. Tamiel told me his team averaged about 40 minutes per book drop, so just remember… random drops are still random. Patience, hopeful Dinomaster, patience.

Dinomaster should totally be a title for taming one of every type of Dinosaur on the island.

A word on the Zandalari Dinomancers.

When you’re fighting them, they can cast a dark mending-style self heal that is interruptible… and they shapechange mid-fight into a dinosaur from the island and fight with a +50% damage buff!

So if your pet suddenly has his health dropping like a stone, now you know why. Don’t forget how easy it is to flip any pet into Tenacity mode.

If my Druid were able to get a book drop that taught me how to turn into a Direhorn for my tanking form, or a T-Rex/Raptor for my DPS form, I would absolutely return to my Druid, whether the playstyle was fun or not. Just saying.

In all of this wandering, I never did run across any quests or anything. I know a Primal Egg can drop from the dinos (including hatchlings) that will grow into a mount, Pumpken got one and is happily waiting for it to hatch as we speak. And the Cub knows that you can get a beautiful mount by farming 9,999 Giant Dinosaur Bones, to which I said, “pack a lunch.”

Still, other than pure fun and flavor items, and hey, GIANT DINOSAURS, and Oondasta someday, I don’t see any other purpose to the Isle of Giants.

God bles you, Blizzard. It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Fight fight fight wait, wtf ARGH GIANT T-REX!!!!

God, I love Blizzard.

I want to be the Big Dino Butt.

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