A Massive Pile of Steaming Bullshit… Or Is It?

So, massive spoiler alert, or potential bullshit alert. Most likely massive bullshit alert, but what the heck. It’s from 4chan, and that means quality!

On Sunday, a bunch of info appeared on 4chan, which you can find at Pastebin here.

Just some stuff dumped by some anonymous person out of left field. Someone claiming to be the same person who leaked the Mists of Pandaria stuff early on 4chan last time.

Yeah, I’m sure that’s 100% legit. /sarcasm x 1 beeelllllioooon

So, why bother giving some unconfirmed bullshit the time of day?

Well, the fact is I read it, and I thought it was just interesting enough to say screw it, and spread it a little wider. Like idea fertilizer. It’s a fun read. And it’s almost plausible. Okay, the Path of Titans necro makes it almost 100% pure bullshit, that’s like a major troll tipoff, but still.

Also, I do like the idea of introducing Path of the Titans as a way to level your character account with rewards along a similar structure to leveling a guild. Oh, yes I do.

I like some of the other things that tie into the Know Your lore: Tinfoil Hat Edition that Anne Stickney wrote just last week. I loved her take on what it could all mean, and it was cool to see someone either take her ideas and spin them into a cohesive plan, OR have her be right all along. 🙂

Plus, revisiting a revitalized Old Kingdom? That would be nice. After finding out that the Klaxxi are linked to the Nerubians in Old God worship, it’s interesting to see the person who published this, if they DID write it out of bullshit and fanboy dreams, at least wove some consistent bullshit.

I’d love to see more of the Nerubian lore. Archeaology artifacts don’t cut it.

Also, Warchief Lorthemar just tossed in like, oh well, we all already knew that.

Anyway, after the break is the entire text from the person who dumped it, for your reading enjoyment. Whether you mock, laugh, or entirely buy into it, it’s still a fun read.

Continue reading

Thank you for your support!

Thank you to everyone that has had kind words for the Pet Battle tamer post I put up over the weekend.

The core reason for my post was to help someone who had yet to level a full team to 25.

When you are just starting out with pet battles, knowing that it is going to take a long time to level that first team to 25 is challenging. If you’re going to level a team to max, you want to know that those pets will continue to aid your pet battling goals on into the future.

Having a small list of pets that you know will all work well together can help provide focus on what to capture and level first.

That was the purpose of my post, to provide a small list of pets that are fairly easy to get and work well together. Pets that you know, with some helpful tips, will be able to complete daily Pet Tamer battles while you level up more pets for some variety and fun.

My friend Monstre was the one that originally said it would be helpful to have a list like that. He enjoys leveling pets he tells me, but he sure would’ve liked to know what to level first.

So, I wrote a post.

The greatest reward I can ever have is when someone tells me something I wrote was actually helpful. In this case, I got immediate gratification, because when I logged in Sunday Monstre told me he’d already obtained all the pets from the list, beaten the tamers (including the Pandaren Spirits!) and was happily working through the Beasts of Fable.

He also gave me a Flawless Battle-Stone in thanks. That’s right, one you can use on any pet family. A greater gift no pet battler can ever give to another, and I am very thankful. Tips are not requested, but will certainly never be turned down.

Turn it down? What do I look like, crazy? My Unborn Val’kyr was Uncommon for far too long! I already had my Tentacle named Monstre, so I’ll have to think of something else fitting to name the Val’kyr in his honor.

The moral of the story is, there are many paths to victory in Pet Battles. This is just one starter guide, and it serves a very specific purpose. There are other guides out there to seek and enjoy.

Probably the most highly recommended I’ve seen were pointed out to me in the comments, the Pet Battle Strategies (PvE) written by Phraide, true works of genius with incredibly fine-tuned tactics for both beginners and veterans, that can be found at this link at the WarcraftPets forums.

BUT! Don’t get too caught up in the hunt for that one specific recommended pet before you take a shot at a battle. If you take a close look at what types of pets the enemy has, what they are weak against, and what abilities they use you will probably find something that will be strong against it. It may not be the ‘right’ pet to use, but if you win, there is plenty of time to refine your technique or play around with various other pet combinations later.

I know I am always learning. Always. I keep finding out that there is often a much better way to do something, but after I found something that worked I stuck with it. It’s great to see how other folks solve the same battle challenges.

I hope that when the Celestial Tournament arrives, it finds you sitting pretty with a wide variety of pets eager to nom nom nom all over the competition!

The Daily Sack of Pet Supplies

Once you’ve leveled a team to 25, and you’ve worked your way through the Grand Master Pet Tamers quest chain, you’ll have unlocked a wide variety of daily quests.

Some of those daily quests will award a Sack of Pet Supplies, which among other things can contain Battle Pet Bandages (Bind on Account!) and any of the Flawless Battle-Stones to let you improve a pet of the correct type to rare quality. There might even be a Porcupette!

If you’re at all like me, you have some pets you’d love to make rare. Some of them are super hard to get pets, like the Minfernal or the Nexus Whelpling. Others are ones that only come in Uncommon quality or below, like the Thundering Serpent Hatchling.

I want as many shots at Flawless Battle Stones and Bandages as I can get in the shortest possible time, so I’ve worked up a system for doing all of the other Daily Grand Master Pet Tamers, using as few different pets as possible, all with a one shot so I don’t have to waste any time with that silly rezzing stuff.

I hereby present to you my system.

Keep one thing in mind. These are pet battles, with nearly infinite variation in successful styles, due to the difference in pet breeds, speeds, quality and weaknesses. What I may have chosen might not be nearly as powerful against a given opponent as another pet you like to use. What my choices represent are ones that are based off of pets I have, like, and have been proven to win every single time. So, by all means, if you have a different team you use against a particular pet tamer, share it below in the comments. I’ll certainly enjoy trying it out!


The list of 8 pets I use, along with the selected move set.

AquaticMirror Strider (Water Jet, Cleansing Raid, Pump) – The Mirror Strider is one of several aquatic pets that share the same moves, so don’t worry if you don’t have this exact pet. I chose this one because you can find them at near max level in The Jade Forest fairly easy. Having an aquatic with these moves is the key.

AquaticEmperor Crab (Surge, Healing Rain, Whirlpool) – Crabs are fairly common to find, I chose the Emperor Crab because you can find them at nearly max level in Pandaria, less time to level one up. The Surge always goes first, and the Whirlpool does a big chunk of damage.

MagicArcane Eye (Focused Beam, Drain power, Mana Surge) – The Arcane Eye is another one that is fairly easy to find, the spawn in a big group around Karazhan at different times. I like Mana Surge because, even though it takes control of your character away for 3 consecutive turns, it does massive damage when it hits, and can clean the clock of pets weak against magic.

MechanicalDarkmoon Zeppelin (Missile, Decoy, Bombing Run) – Okay, since this one you can buy at the Darkmoon Faire, it’s easy to get but a pain to level since you have to start from 1. BUT. OMG. Decoy drops two distractions that completely nullify your targets next tow attacks. Against a pet that Swarms, not so hot, but against a pet that has one big massive attack and two defensive ones, it’s insane. Plus, Missile consistently gets big damage hits, and Bombing Run is great for a finishing blow.

FlyingBrilliant Kaliri (Quills, Predatory Strike, Cyclone) – I don’t really have a favorite flying pet. I am using this one simply because Quills can do multiple hits, and Predatory Strike is also strong against opponents weak against flying, so there are multiple strong attacks to choose from. Everyone who Pet battles should have one, since it is a reward for capturing 125 unique pets from The Menagerie achievement. On my son’s account, I actually use the Amber Moth instead, with Slicing Wind, Cocoon Strike and Moth Dust, and it works just as well.

Beast – Spider, any old Spider that has (Strike, Brittle Webbing, Leech Life) – Spiders can be found all over the place, and almost all of them have these three moves. Brittle Webbing is insanely powerful against Critters that have swarm-type moves, since the bonus damage is per hit, and every hit of a swarm counts. Plus, If you canst Brittle Webbing, then Leech Life, then a Strike and another Leech Life, you get two heals in that do double healing. It really extends the longevity of your Spider. Easy to find a high level Amethyst Spiderling in Krasarang Wilds.

ElementalPandaren Fire Spirit (Burn, Immolate, Conflagrate) – Okay, so this one can cost some money on the Auction House. Sue me. This pet is ridiculously effective against Major Payne, which is the only pet battle I use an Elemental on. If you have a Lil’ Ragnaros, it is even more powerful due to being a slower pet, BUT requires real world money to buy from the Blizzard store. All attacks are strong against mechanical, while being an Elemental means all Mech attacks are weak against you. Suck it, Major Payne!

HumanoidAnubisath Idol (Crush, Stoneskin, Deflection) – yes, this is another one that is either a pain in the butt to farm solo (in AQ 40), or can be bought for a few thousand gold on the Auction House. I bought one myself a long time ago, and I have never regretted it. Crush hits like a freight train when it connects, Deflection can negate big hits when times right, and Stoneskin gives you great survivability against Swarming pets or DoTs.


The Addons I find most helpful.

The addon which is key to my technique is PetBattle Teams, on Curse. This addon allows you to set up multiple pre-selected teams of pets, name the team, choose the pet abilities and then lock them in place, preserving your tactical choices.

I also use the following addons to help me in managing my collection, identifying Pet Breeds, finding new pets and upgrades in the zones I am in, and dominating in my battles;

Battle Pet BreedID
Battlepet Count
PetJournal Enhanced
Pet Tracker – I truly LOVE this addon, and I don’t know how I lived without it.
Pokemon Trainer

I will show you an example of the joy of Pet Battle Teams.

Uldum team - small

If you take a look on the right of the normal Pet tab of the Mounts and Pets window, you’ll see that Pet Battle Teams has added a frame showing teams. At the beginning, you won’t have any teams, but by pressing the “+” button at the bottom of that side frame, a team will be created. You can drag and drop pets into it, in any order, and when you choose the abilities in the main frame, it will be in the team.

Right click over your team, and you can choose to name the team, and to lock it so all of your choices, including Pet Abilities, will be saved and won’t change when you move stuff around in the normal interface later.

 As you can see, I have created a different team for every Daily Grand Master Pet Tamer, set the order and Pet Abilities, named them and then locked them.

I then distributed alts around the world, so doing tamers such as Major Payne or Trixxy is simply a process of logging in, fighting, logging out and switching alts. The longer you go, the more Bandages everyone gets, the less downtime waiting for rezzes.

Daily Grand Master Pet Tamers

This list of tamers that can drop Sacks of Pet Supplies was compiled by ElsaFC and posted on Wowhead. Thank you so much, ElsaFC!

Stone Cold Trixxy – Winterspring (66,65)

Eastern Kingdoms:
Lydia Accoste – Deadwind Pass (40,77)

Bloodknight Antari – Shadowmoon Valley (31,42)

Major Payne – Icecrown (77,20)

Obalis – Uldum (57,42)

Courageous Yon – Kun Lai Summit (36,74)
Seeker Zusshi – Townlong Steppes (36,52)
Wastewalker Shu – Dread Wastes (55,38)
Mo’ruk – Krasarang Wilds (62,45)
Hyuna of the Shrines – Jade Forest (48,54)
Aki the Chosen – Vale of Eternal Blossoms (68,41)
Farmer Nishi – Valley of the Four Winds (46,44)

Spirit Tamers:
Thundering Pandaren Spirit – Kun-Lai Summit (65,94) (not described)
Whispering Pandaren Spirit – Jade Forest (28,35) (not described)
Burning Pandaren Spirit – Townlong Steppes (57,42)
Flowing Pandaren Spirit – Dread Wastes (61,87) (not described)


Test Your Might


Stone Cold Trixxy – Winterspring (66,65)

On Stone Cold Trixxy, the pets you fight are all level 19. I do not have a special team I use for this fight, instead I have a pet in the level 13 range as my first pet to get XP, then usually my spider and the Darkmoon Zeppelin, or whatever. Sometimes I have Anubisath Idol and Emperor Crab up. As long as your team has a few 25’s in it, I’ve never found it to make much difference. I keep an alt in Winterspring just for this tamer.


Eastern Kingdoms:

Lydia Accoste – Deadwind Pass (40,77)

On Lydia, again the pets you fight are level 19, so as long as at least a couple of your backend pets are 25, you can have something to start with in the level 10 – 13 range to get bonus XP. Just remember, when leveling pets, the pet has to survive, and it has to use a pet ability at least once in the fight. Even if it misses, it counts. So, as long as your pet gets off one shot (or heal, or buff) and gets swapped out immediately, if it lives, it gets XP.



Bloodknight Antari – Shadowmoon Valley (31,42)



For Bloodknight Antari, I use the Darkmoon Zeppelin, Emperor Crab and Anubisath Idol.

Darkmoon Zeppelin has to survive one shot from Arcanus, and then can drop Decoy, use Bomb, and repeatedly Missile until dead. Just as soon as Arcanus dies, swap in your Crab, drop Whirlpool and then Surge to victory. When Jadefire dies, bring out the Anubisath Idol. Use Stoneskin, and then all that is left is to Crush repeatedly. With the right combination of pets, this fight is pretty straightforward. I keep an alt out here just for this fight.



Major Payne – Icecrown (77,20)


For Major Payne, I use the Darkmoon Zeppelin, Burning Pandaren Spirit and Emperor Crab.

The Darkmoon Zeppelin opens first against the Bear. I try and drop Decoy first (taking three unopposed hits from the bear, since the bastard stuns you and you forget what you were doing. Damn bears. Deadly!), Cast Bomb once Decoy is finally up, and then attack repeatedly with the Missile. I have never failed to down the bear if I Decoy first. The Zeppelin almost always dies before the bear is dead, but then after the Mechanical rez I’ll drop another Bomb. The straight damage from the bomb kills the bear, and the bomb will drop on the next pet as a parting shot. As soon as the bear dies, and the mechanical ostrich swaps in, I swap the Zeppelin for the Burning Pandaren Spirit. The ostrich is weak against elementals, and with Immolate followed by Conflagrate, the Ostrich might just die right there, two rounds. With the bomb dropping, you might even finish it off with bomb after it rezzes.  Immediately swap in the Crab once the ostrich dies, open with Whirlpool and then pound away with Surge. You’ll usually end the fight with all three of your pets still alive. I keep an alt out here, too.



Obalis – Uldum (57,42)


For Obalis, I use the Darkmoon Zeppelin, Arcane Eye and Spider.

The Darkmoon Zeppelin starts first, opening with Decoy. God, I love Decoy. Follow that with Bomb, and then repeated Missiles and you should down him with a few hundred health left, and not even needing your Mechanical rez yet. When the moth comes out, it will immediately do that Cocoon Strike thing, so don’t waste a cooldown. Missile, then Missile again. You’ll probably die from Moth Dust, but at least you made it use up it’s big cooldowns on a pet that can rez, and get off a last Missile. Swap in your Arcane Eye, use Drain Power, and then Mana Surge. You ought to be able to get the moth down far enough before you die that your Zeppelin will have Decoy off cooldown and can finish it off, or low enough for your Spider to get the job done. The moth is the hard part, because your Spider with Brittle Webbing and Strike will destroy the beetle, and Leech Life can bring your health back up if you come anywhere close to having problems. I keep another alt out here. Yes, I have a lot of alts with nothing better to do than hand out in out of the way locations.



Courageous Yon – Kun Lai Summit (36,74)


For Courageous Yon, I use Arcane Eye, Spider and Darkmoon Zeppelin.

The Arcane Eye is up first against Piqua. Piqua will Squawk, and then do Lift Off, so it’s a wise idea to start with Drain Power to lower his damage, and then save your big hit for after Lift Off completes it’s cycle. As soon as he has landed from Lift Off is a perfect time to start Mana Surge, since he’s going to Flock at you, and you’ll both be locked into three rounds of mutually assured destruction. Flock him, right? Once Piqua is dead, the bunny will come up, and it’s time to bring in your Spider for his moment of glory. Poor bunny. Between Brittle Webbing making his fast speed attack hurt him more than you, and your big Strike, it’s not going to go well for him. Finally, Bleat the goat comes up, and I just fire off a Brittle Webbing, get off a Leech Life to whittle him down, and try and eat the big Headbutt with my Spider. Then it’s time to swap to Darkmoon Zeppelin, Decoy, and finish him off with Missiles.


Seeker Zusshi – Townlong Steppes (36,52)


For Seeker Zusshi, I use Emperor Crab, Spider and then Brilliant Kaliri.

On this fight, I start with the Crab. I’ll open with Whirlpool, and then pop Renewing Mists. That way, I can just buckle down and Surge for as long as it takes until the rock dude be dead, mon. I hate the snail, so when it comes up, I drop a Whirlpool on it, recast Renewing Mists (which persists through pet swaps), and then bring out my Spider to kill him. Use Brittle Webbing, Strike, then use a Leech Life to ensure you can survive the Dive he’s about to do. Once he’s dead, cast a Brittle Webbing, Strike a few times until you eat the Pump. You really do NOT want your bird to eat a fully charged Pump, it can easily one-shot you. Although, if it does… you can always bring in your almost-at-full Crab. Right? Still, if your bird lives, Predatory Strike HURTS that pumping sucker. Quills for effect, and enjoy.


Wastewalker Shu – Dread Wastes (55,38)


For Wastewalker Shu, I use the Brilliant Kaliri, Mirror Strider and Darkmoon Zeppelin.

Brilliant Kaliri is up first against the crab. I like to get Cyclone going, then cast Predatory Strike. Quills repeatedly to finish off. Once Kaliri dies to your foes, swap in Mirror Strider against the crusher, cast Cleansing Rain and Pump. This will get your Water Jet nice and powerful, and let your second Pump come close to finishing it off. I’d like to say that I do something fancy against the powerball-crazed porcupine, but all I do is pop Decoy and then Missile until he’s a puddle of goo.


Mo’ruk – Krasarang Wilds (62,45)


For Mo’ruk, I use Darkmoon Zeppelin, Arcane Eye and Brilliant Kaliri.

Start with Darkmoon Zeppelin against the worm. Decoy at start, then cast a Missile. The grub will poison you as you cast Decoy, and then Burrow next, so if you Bomb you’ll automatically miss and waste a 3 round cooldown. So Missile first, then after he has burrowed, cast Bomb. Missile until dead. When the moth comes out, I like to keep the Zeppelin in, get off another Bomb, and then a Missile to soften it up. Once Zeppelin goes down, bring out the Arcane Eye, Drain Power and then Mana Surge. As soon as the moth dies and the turtle comes out, be prepared to eat a Headbutt. I usually don’t waste time, I swap in the Kaliri right away, Predatory Strike and then Quills until dead.


Hyuna of the Shrines – Jade Forest (48,54)


For Hyuna, I use Arcane Eye, Darkmoon Zeppelin and Brilliant Kaliri.

Arcane Eye is up first against Skyshaper. I like to start with Drain Power to give me the best advantage, and then Mana Surge. Unlike other flyers, Skyshaper won’t do annoying Cocoon Strikes, so you can unleash three rounds of Mana Surge without fear of wasting one. As soon as the snake is up, swap in the Zeppelin, and drop Decoy. The snake will Burrow, so you won’t be wasting a shot. Now, yup, Bomb and then repeated Missiles. Dor the Wall comes last, and first thing he’s going to do is Headbutt you, doing massive damage and maybe stunning you. I like to leave the Zeppelin in to take the hit, give your Flying pet a better chance of surviving to lay out all the damage later. Here is the sneaky trick, though. If your Zeppelin survives, then Headbutt is the ONLY offensive move Dor has, and it’s on a long cooldown. If you drop Decoys on Dor, then you can attack unopposed for 6 or more rounds, while that one Decoy eats the occasional Headbutt. It’s crazy. But if you don’t want to do that, your Flyer should have no problems finishing Dor off.


Aki the Chosen – Vale of Eternal Blossoms (68,41)


For Grand Master Aki, I am NOW using a low level pet to level, the Anubisath Idol and Brilliant Kaliri.

This strategy replaces the one I used to have, which was close to the same except I used a Spider to wear down the first enemy when it wasn’t necessary – the Anubisath Idol can destroy the first two enemies, and almost get the third as well. So, use a low level pet to XP in the first spot, and proceed as follows, as described by Sol (thank you Sol!);

Start with low level pet that can survive one stampede (btw note that lvl 10 for some reason is the optimum XP gain, I don’t know why).

Swap in Idol. Idol casts Stone Shield. Idol proceeds to Crush cricket until the cricket is dead. It will take zero damage and be at full health by the time it kills the cricket due to the human racial.

On the dragons first attack, Deflection on the lightning storm, then Crush (and refresh Stone Shield) as necessary.

On the aquatic, refresh your shield as it burrows, then Deflection the burrow. Crush away, you can always predict when it will be burrowing and refresh your shield then, and if you reflect the burrow damage, most of the time (unless you were unlucky against the dragon and got to low health) Idol will be alive at the end.


Farmer Nishi – Valley of the Four Winds (46,44)


For Farmer Nishi, I use a low level pet (that has at least 200 health, to survive a single Sunlight), Mirror Strider and Darkmoon Zeppelin.

This strategy is not my own. It was written by Sirinad in the Wowhead comments, and it is so flawlessly perfect I’ve simply used it without change ever since. Brilliant.

Enemy pet 1) Enemy starts with his Sunflower. Start with your low level pet. Attack once; you’ll get hit by Sunlight. This is the only time your low level pet should get hit. Then, swap to your Mirror Strider.

A) Use Cleansing Rain; this strengthens your attacks and mitigates the enemy’s healing ability.
B) Charge Pump
C) Cast Pump, does damage
D) Charge Pump again
E) Attack with Water Jet, finishes the enemy off

Enemy pet 2) Enemy swaps in the Turnip.

A) Cast Pump, which was charged from the previous pet. It hits him before he burrows, which he does on this turn.
B) Charge Pump (enemy is burrowed)
C) Cast Cleaning Rain (enemy is burrowed)
D) Cast Water Jet; combined with the damage they took from the first pump, this should kill them.

Enemy pet 3) Enemy brings in the worm

A) Cast Pump, which is charged from the previous pet. Enemy hits you with Goo.
B) Charge Pump, enemy Burrows
C) Cast Pump. This is where it gets a bit random. Normally the enemy’s burrow will hit you and bring you down under 100 health. While it is very rare to die from it, a crit will push you over. If you don’t die, the Pump will kill the enemy, game over. If you do die, just bring out any mechanical pet (I use Darkmoon Zeppelin) to finish off the last 800 damage.


Spirit Tamers:

Burning Pandaren Spirit – Townlong Steppes (57,42)


For the Burning Pandaren Spirit, I use a leveling pet that is at least level 10 – 12 to survive Cyclone, Anubisath Idol and Emperor Crab.

I’ve written the strategy I use in more detail elsewhere on the blog, because I use this fight as my quick leveling routine. I have never completed the quest for the Spirit Tamers, because once I do, I can only fight the Burning Pandaren Spirit once a day. That will be a sad, sad day.

Anyway, Start with your leveling pet out, get off a single action/ability, dragon casts Cyclone. Swap to Anubisath Idol, dragon lifts off. Cast Deflection, dragon misses with big shot. Crush repeatedly, depending on your hits and misses, you’ll either obliterate the dragon and get stomped by the burning spirit, or you’ll kill the dragon just in time to have Deflection off cooldown and get to use it against the burning spirit, then cast Stoneskin and keep plugging away. Sometimes I die early, a few times my Anubisath has lived all the way through to destroy the wasp at the end. All comes down to lucky Crush hit chances.

So, when burning spirit comes out, he Conflagrates first, which hurts like hell and can one shot your Anubisath. Can, not necessarily will. If you can survive that, his next action is a self-heal, even though he hasn’t taken any damage. Then he does a small attack on you… and sits for a few turns, waiting for things to come off cooldown, giving you several uninterrupted whacks at him. If your Anubisath lived, pound him with Crush until he wakes up and kills you. Otherwise, bring out your crab, Surge him to death, and then when the wasp comes up, cast Shell Shield, Renewing Mists, and slowly Surge your way to absolutely unstoppable victory.


As I have not completed the Pandaren Spirit quest, I do not have my own personal pet list or strategy guide for you in fighting the other three. Not right now. Sooner or later I’ll have all the pets I want leveled, and I’ll finish it. When I do, I’ll complete this list. Or, a patch will come along and break it. One or the other.

Thundering Pandaren Spirit – Kun-Lai Summit (65,94) (not described)
Whispering Pandaren Spirit – Jade Forest (28,35) (not described)
Flowing Pandaren Spirit – Dread Wastes (61,87) (not described)

I hope that this guide has in some way aided you in seeing you don’t need to level a million pets, or have a stable of super-rares to enjoy success against the Master Pet Tamer dailies. With just a handful of carefully chosen pets, you can quickly run through 12 masters every single day, for your chances at Battle Stones, Bandages and if truly lucky, a Porcupette!

For more guides on the pet battle dailies, teams to use and strategies to win, checkout the WarcraftPets forum thread, and for a great team to take on all the Beasts of Legend, check out Josh’s guide on the Game Diplomat!  Thank you to Renala and Katzbalger for the links!

Every Dog Has His Day

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!”

The WoW Bucket List

Tonight, a milestone was reached.

My son and I joined Soldris and Cain in an OpenRaid event, a 10 person Firelands Heroic run.

In that run, this happened;

Ragnaros Rising

This was Ragnaros, risen from the molten fires and standing before us in all of his incandescent glory.

And then we rolled him for his lunch money.

Seeing Ragnaros standing was, for my son, one of his deepest desires in the game.

Tonight that desire was fulfilled, and he was so stoked we had a hard time getting him to calm down for bedtime.

That is what I want to talk about. Things we desire in the game. Moments we want to experience, expectations we want to fulfill, just once, before we end our time with WoW.

For my son, one of the things he wanted most to do in the game, one of his deepest desires was to someday see Ragnaros standing there, risen from the lava and radiant with rage. And, you know… lava. And then to kick his ass.

My son is only ten, so granted it’s not a goal on the same order as be the next CEO of Exxon. But it was a no-shit serious “I will someday” goal. He took it as seriously as anyone could.

I think the term ‘bucket list’ has been overused, but it’s a strong sentiment. A list of things that go beyond the everyday, the ordinary, things you want to do to satisfy an inner need before the end comes. Not just Valor capping or daily quests, not another scenario or heroic to pass the time.

A list of goals you hold dear to your heart, the things you would love to see or do before your time with World of Warcraft was done.

Things that would fulfill your own desires, satisfy the itch that keeps you playing this game.

Tonight, my son achieved one of his goals. He saw Ragnaros standing on his own two feet, killed him, and achieved the “Firelord” title.

What are some of your own closely-held goals? What special experience or achievement would be precious enough to place on your own WoW Bucket List?

Legendary Quests and Subscribers, Oh My!

Looking back on it, I applaud Blizzard for the legendary questline they have provided us through Wrathion as Mists of Pandaria progresses.

As a first grand attempt, I think it has succeeded in it’s largest challenge; how not to alienate the players.

Going into this expansion, Blizzard was faced with the eternal question, “How do we keep people from unsubscribing after they complete each dose of new content?”

It’s got to be the toughest challenge any company can face in this age of jaded gamers.

We gamers have many options for our dollar and our playtime, and the politics of playing have gotten ridiculous over the years.

Just one small aspect of it; there are undoubtedly players who will refuse to play World of Warcraft because it is an MMO with a monthly subscription payment system.

Think about it. There are players, I’ve spoken with them, they could play WoW, they like the game itself, they can easily afford it, but they are philosophically opposed to financially supporting any MMO that uses a subscription model.

In this kind of gaming climate, how does a company that uses a subscription-based system keep people from dropping and coming back?

In years gone by, we saw one method; bribery. “Sign up for a year of WoW, locked in with legal agreements, and we’ll give you a neat mount and a free copy of our new video game when it releases next year.”

What was the result? Many folks accepted the agreement, I among them, enjoyed the mount and Diablo III, and continued on. It didn’t affect my decision as to resubbing, because I knew I wasn’t going to unsubscribe anyway.

My wife, on the other hand, debated over it for a very long time, and in the end did NOT take the one year agreement. She did not want to be locked in to the game for a whole year, if she finally drifted away entirely.

The funny thing is, she did not then and still has not unsubscribed. Not once. But she refused to close off the option to unsubscribe. She wanted control over the choice of paying to play the game or not on her terms.

There was quite a lot of cynical irritation and red-hot rhetoric when the one year plan was announced. Who needs that kind of mess in their Public Relations department? Who really wants to see more morons and malcontents swear at Ghostcrawler as if it was his personal intention to piss people off?

For Mists of Pandaria, instead of a one year agreement, we’ve had a very different strategy.

The first part has been the increased rate of content releases. There has never been this amount of content released in such a short span of time. Blizzard started the expansion by promising an accelerated content push, and they have delivered.

So, lots more content to do, new content coming fast and fresh, less opportunity for someone to blow through it all and get bored, followed by an unsub. Right?

As part of the first wave of that content, there were many, many factions with gear upgrades, reputation gating, and daily quests. Many, many faction daily quests. There was a bit of a blowback on that, we could see where it was headed. It just felt too harsh, it needed some adjusting. Which came, there have been constant tweaks as we go. The Valor cap system and the changes to it have been amazing. The Commendations for alts have been nothing short of brilliant.

Another thing that was introduced to much discussion was the legendary questline from Wrathion once we reach level 90.

So much to do in this questline, gated by progression and drops from Raids that could be done in normal or Looking For Raid, and by grinding reputation with Wrathion.

Staged progression, that required continuous investments of time. You didn’t have to log in every single day to maintain progression on the Legendary questline, but you almost have had to log in and maximize your progression every week to stay current.

I started on a different character than the one I play now. I started on the chain on my Hunter. I am now completing it on my Warlock, and at the point I switched, I was about one month behind the progress of everyone who had stayed perfectly current. I am, right now, still 6 Titan Runestone drops from completing the current stage of the questline, when most of the folks I play with have their cloak or are only one or two stones away. So, even though i have continued on it to the best of my ability every week, starting one month late has me still one month behind.

I’m not going to call the Legendary Questline a perfect win for keeping subscriptions up. I’m calling it an excellent first attempt, and a wonderful work in progress.

The implementation has had it’s problems. Some items of the questline were only useful if you had been lucky enough to get the corresponding item to mate it with in LFR, something that was certainly hit or miss. Raise your hands if you had a gem or an extra socket long before you got a weapon to put it on? Yeah, me too.

Overall, I have enjoyed the questline.

Yes, I know it is meant to keep me logging in each week to try and get drops from weekly raid lockouts, completed daily quests to gain Wrathion rep, and maintain my progress. But that’s okay.

Each step of the way has brought more than the mechanics of a drop hunt or a rep grind. There have been cutscenes, story development, a sense of building a relationship, taking part of a developing story, and along the way completing solo scenarios that are new and fresh, just like the Warlock Green Fire questline but there for everyone to see.

There are a few reasons I think it’s not quite perfect yet.

First, while it’s kept me engaged in the game week by week, it’s had the effect of pushing Cassie further away.

She was too busy with work stuff to play much for a few months. When she had time and came back, she felt that she was so far behind everyone else that it would be too big of a pain in the butt to try and start now. The weight of everything out there to do, all the grinds that have to be completed weighs on someone who hasn’t started it yet. There have been adjustments, more frequent drops for earlier stages, reduced Valor requirements, etc but it doesn’t change the feeling of being too far behind to ever catch up.

Especially when she sees that I’m doing it every week and I’m still over a month away from getting a Cloak, assuming I continue to maintain my lack of luck on Runestone drops.

So as much as it kept me going and giving me a reason to do LFR wings long after my gear was past it, it has pushed her away and given her greater reason to feel disconnected with the world of WoW. She now feels like an outsider, watching other people engaged in this massive questline without her.

The other reason is simply the length of each stage of grind. Some of them haven’t felt too bad, but the initial Valor grind. That sucked. That was like a wall of “I don’t want to Valor cap anymore” to push through.

I did it anyway… TWICE before they reduced the Valor needed, but it was still brutal, because it let me feel like if I did not Valor cap by God every week, I was not performing up to expectations. No, there were no real managers supervising my performance. But it left that feeling of work going undone if I didn’t Valor cap. Did some people let that wall o’ Valor stop them? I imagine some might have looked at it and said, “nope, nope, nope.” At least until the amounts were reduced.

I think if, in the next expansion, they continue along the same concept, a massive questline progressing a story in the same style, with the same kind of rewards at each stage, it will be a winner. I really feel this is part of a winning idea. I have yet to see ANYONE bitch about the existence of the questline or the way it draws you into playing every week (or almost every week) to stay up to date. After all, it is entirely optional, and open to anyone, all that is required is you put forth the effort and enough time to run your LFRs and some dailies once in a while.

You’ll notice I haven’t talked about the star of the show, the prize at the end of the rainbow. The Legendary whatsis that is ostensibly the point.

That’s because whatever the final reward is really doesn’t matter, and if it’s kept a secret so much the better.

At each stage of completion, we’ve gotten something pretty cool. Something that was a big enough upgrade to make exchanging it for a drop from the next content patch a big decision, but not so big that it was still overpowered two content patches later.

Now the new Cloak is a big enough iLevel that it is clearly a worthy goal that will last long into Siege of Orgrimmar and even beyond. The rewards we are getting are useful, different, powerful enough to feel like sizable boosts without being too ridonkulous, dahling.

In short, I think the way they’ve planned rewards for the questline is great. And it’s clear why there haven’t been items other than gear improvements, too. Some people might not be interested in pets, or mounts, or titles or transmog gear, but everyone can benefit from powerful gear upgrades.

They could, in the future, implement other versions of this Legendary questline targeted at pet collectors. We’re getting the Celestial Tournament in the next patch, and it’s always possible we will see a Legendary Pet questline develop that would keep us fighting new and different challenges, collecting special training food drops, achieving special training goals, and while the final reward could be a Legendary Pet some of the intermediate stage rewards could be learning how to teach your pet to “fetch”, “roll over” or even “play dead”. You know?

I know there has been a lot of argument about the death of WoW, and the loss of subscribers, and such in the community. What I’m trying to say is, when comparing how Mists of Pandaria has played out with Cataclysm, I truly prefer Mists. I love how things have progressed in this first rough run, and it is clear Blizzard is learning a lot as they go.

The Legendary Questline is only one thing they added in this expansion to help retain players. Don’t forget the entire system of Pet Battles that was added as well. If they take the lessons they’ve learned running this in live and improve on it going forward, I have nothing but hope for the future of WoW.

I know that’s not a very popular position to hold, but this is one Bear that’s happy with the way the game is playing out, even IF it will take me six more damn weeks until I get that spiffy cloak, too!