Monthly Archives: June 2014

Iron Man Challenge: Winterspring Edition

I just started reading Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and the first thing that popped into my head upon stepping foot into Winterspring was, “Winter is coming.”

The snow was a welcome change from the Tanaris desert. I have decided to hit up all of the level 55ish zones in order to level up past 60, so that when I hit Outland I’m not quite so low level. It seems prudent to me not to step into Hellfire at level 58. I could end up dead. And dead is bad.

Winterspring is first on the list. I always loved this zone. It’s quite breathtaking.

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Much of the zone’s core quests remain the same. We still massacred countless furbolg for spirit beads. I remember grinding them endlessly for rep years ago.

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This furbolg camp was no less busy now than it used to be years ago. It’s still overrun with reputation-seeking high level folk who think nothing of bullying low level players out of their way. I’m glad the quests here did not include “kill X amount of furbolg” because I would still be there trying to finish it.

Aside from fuzzy thong-wearing bear people, we also slaughtered a number of ghostly remnants of ancient elvish people. The lake in the center of the zone was full of them and their long-forgotten temples.

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There was also the customary yeti killing, as expected.

PEEKABOO!

PEEKABOO!

Or rather, Rex killed yetis and I ran away screaming. Either way.

Food for thought: all those yetis live in one cave together. I never saw any toilets. That cave must stink.

Winterspring might be pretty, but its quests could use a little variation. The majority of them were the “kill a lot of this type of animal” quests, which I found very boring. It’s a real shame Iarann isn’t a skinner. We killed enough bears to fashion clothing for every NPC in Stormwind.

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Part of my goal in taking all of these screenshots is to find things most people don’t see when they’re blazing through a zone. One of those things is this grotto, located in the north of the zone, accessible by a cave. None of my quests lead me here. I had to go find it all on my own. It’s kind of pretty, though there’s nothing really interesting here except a few owlkin and a very lost fox.

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We made a trip up north to kill some frostsabers. This is where people used to spend months grinding rep for the frostsaber mount. I remember back in the early days of WoW there was a large cat (or two) who made his home beneath this rock. He was damn hard to kill. I don’t remember why I was trying to kill him, but my warlock couldn’t manage it.

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Nowadays the place is mostly deserted, as the quests have changed and the old tiger I remember is now a rare spawn. He wasn’t there, or I might have tamed him to teach him a lesson.

The southern reaches of the zone are infested with elementals and owlkin. We had to kill a lot of both. Owlkin are some of my favorite mobs in the game. I think I read some piece of lore that stated that they were created by Elune to guard her most sacred areas. Supposedly they are very intelligent and serene, but a lot of them got corrupted and that’s why they attack us now.

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I love the new elemental models they introduced in Cataclysm. I always thought they looked pretty, and slightly creepy.

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It’s one of the Others.

By the time we were done in Winterspring, Iarann was level 59. We left the snow and the cold behind and traveled south to warmer climates. I have a feeling we will miss the cold very soon.

Bye bye, Winterfell. I mean, Winterspring.

Bye bye, Winterfell. I mean, Winterspring.

 

PS: You know the rule I have about not tabbing out or leaving the desk while working on the Iron Man Challenge? I broke that rule when someone knocked at my front door and left Iarann standing helplessly in the middle of a bunch of chimera. When I came back, all of two minutes later, Rex was dead and it’s a bloody miracle Iarann wasn’t dead too. Don’t leave your Iron Man character unattended!

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Duskhoof!

After many months of waiting and wondering, Blizzard finally answered my geeky little gamer prayers: they connected my home server, Bloodhoof, to Duskwood.

This server, which I am titling Duskhoof (because Bloodwood sounds horrifying) shall now be the epicenter of my epic alt-leveling spree. This means I can level more alts in my home guild instead of having to make them on other servers. Hooray!

Fun fact: one of my oldest surviving alts is on Duskwood. She’s a night elf rogue I created back in 2005 (or possibly 2006) and she has sat at level 20ish ever since. I can’t decide if I should delete her or keep her. Decisions.

Altoholic, AWAY!

PS: Hello and welcome to all my new Duskhoof friends!

Iron Man Challenge: Tanaris Edition

I think Tanaris gets an unfair rep as being “ugly”. I’m going to disagree, and I hope my screenshots support my argument.

Tanaris isn’t ugly. It’s actually quite a stunning landscape, made even more so by the events of the Cataclysm. A lot of people think of Tanaris and they think of this:

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Endless sand, without definition or interest, stretching forever beneath an unremarkable sky.

When I took Iarann to Tanaris to quest it wasn’t because I thought it would be visually stunning. Mostly I just wanted to quest out another level or two in relative safety, as I outlevel the zone by quite a bit. But when I got there I decided that a bunch of screenshots of sand would be boring. I decided to try to find the beauty in the zone, to find those rare little spots that people miss when they’re blazing through the quests at the speed of light.

Our journey started in Gadgetzan, which is its self a sort of chaotic and cacophonous place to begin.

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There were goblins aplenty, gnomes galore, and a grumpy Horde flightmaster that I was very keen not to accidentally click. In the center of it all was the Thunderdome, which is sort of like a low level Ring of Blood. I decided to avoid it despite outleveling its bosses, principally due to my fear of dying. To come this far only to die in a cage match just didn’t suit me. We pressed on.

Tanaris presented its self a beautiful and glimmering world of sand and sea, gold and blue. The beaches are where it really shines. If Tanaris was a real place, I would vacation there. Its beaches are a pure, crystalline turquoise blue like the finest resorts in Fiji and the Bahamas. If Iarann had a beach towel and an umbrella in her bags we would have set up camp with a coconut full of Malibu and never left.

This gnome did just that.

This gnome did just that.

 

Tanaris might be a giant sandbox to some people, but to me it’s a lot more than that. It’s a land of harsh sun and blazing winds and gorgeous coastlines forever changed by a devastating flood.

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It’s monstrous skeletons lying half-buried in centuries of sand.

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It’s pirate fortresses under siege by cannon and fire.

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It’s enigmatic caverns where time twists and bends and adventurers can relive the past.

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It’s twisting spires of enormous cacti reaching spiny fingers to the sky.

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And it’s ancient troll empires sinking slowly beneath the weight of the sands.

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There’s nothing quite like Tanaris. It’s an old world that time forgot. It’s the seat of the mysteries of Uldum, if you’re brave enough to go digging for them.

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And a gateway to another world entirely for those who dare tread its path.

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Uldum its self lies beyond these towering stone walls, but I was too afraid to go any further south for fear of meeting my death. Someday our adventure will lead us to Uldum, but not this day. This day we filled our adventures with plenty of sandy Tanaris hijinks.

We slaughtered pirates and set their bunk houses on fire, then settled in for a little well-earned luxury.

Aaah...this is the life.

Aaah…this is the life.

We helped a number of our vertically-challenged friends in their war against the Silithid, too. It’s safe to say we didn’t know what we were getting in to until a gnome mind controlled a silithid, strapped a couple of pounds of explosives to its back, and asked us to pilot it to its doom!

BOOM!

BOOM!

And this should have been enough for us, but we next found ourselves being blasted half way across the damn zone with a rocket attached to our ass. Does that sound Iron-Man Challenge friendly to you?

AAAAAAHHOLYSHITAAAAAH!

AAAAAAHHOLYSHITAAAAAH!

I’m done playing with goblins and gnomes. They can fix their own damn problems!

We ended our adventure on the very southernmost shores of Tanaris on a long-forgotten beach, toes (hooves?) in the sand, watching the distant shoreline of Uldum shimmer like a mirage on the horizon.

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If we live that long, we’ll find our way there. And we hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Iron Man Challenge: Felwood Edition

I hit level 50 shortly after beginning Felwood, which was a nice surprise. Fifty levels of not dying! Woo!

Let’s get down to it, shall we.

Felwood is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a scenic place. It is, however, an interesting one.

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I have mixed feelings when it comes to Felwood. On the one hand, it’s a neat zone. I like satyrs and corruption and the furbolg. On the other, this is the zone that ruined my warlock for me back in the early days of WoW. I had been slogging through the epic mount quest chain and it finally took me to Felwood, where I died a lot and spent way too much money. I was broke, frustrated, and eventually ended up deleting my warlock because of this quest chain. A lot has changed since then, but Felwood still reminds me of that.

Thankfully this time I saw it through the wide eyes of a level 50 hunter who had no ambitions of an epic demon mount. It was a lot more fun this time around.

We slaughtered furbolg:

DIE!

DIE!

 

We ran afoul of plenty of satyr:

And killed them, obviously.

And killed them, obviously.

 

And we got suitably lost inside a massive underground labyrinth that I remember dying in at least a dozen times back in the day. This time, thankfully, we survived with our dignity in tact. I won’t lie, though: entering tunnels like this makes me a wee bit uneasy as an Iron-Man challenger. Way too easy to end up in a bad spot, you know? And this particular cave was riddled with bad spots.

Like this one.

LOOK AT THE BONES!

LOOK AT THE BONES!

 

And this one.

SHARP POINTY TEETH!

SHARP POINTY TEETH!

 

It was, overall, a harrowing experience.

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Yet we made it through. I ended up switching back to my trusty raptor because the wasp I tamed in Feralas seemed a tad too squishy. Eventually, I tamed a rare spawn Warpstalker to add to my menagerie and named him Rex, after the shape shifting lizard bad guy in My Little Pony.

With Rex by my side we made our way deeper into the corrupt forest. We encountered gigantic old tree dudes.

Gimme a kiss!

Gimme a kiss!

 

Smaller, creepier tree dudes.

Bleeeeeh.

Bleeeeeh.

 

And gigantic flaming infernals, whom we dispatched quickly to avoid being burnt to a crispy pile of Draenei ash.

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Along the way, we discovered what it was like to enter another dimension:

It gets blurry. That's about it.

It gets blurry. That’s about it.

How to fight imps using the magical power of rainbows!

POW.

POW.

 

And what Illidan was doing in Felwood a zillion years ago.

Hint: he wasn't buying groceries.

Hint: he wasn’t buying groceries.

 

Along the way we also discovered some pretty awesome Night Elves who were dedicating their time to restoring the forest to its former grandeur. Nevermind that their leader turned out to be a satyr in disguise. That’s mostly irrelevant.

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Fun fact: the ancient tree guardians here at this little Alliance base were level 90 neutral mobs. As in, had I accidentally right clicked one, I would have fired and arrow into its face and died horribly in approximately two seconds flat. I spent the majority of my time in this base very carefully keeping my mouse cursor NO WHERE NEAR these guards, just in case I bumped it and shot one of them. I have no clue why some sick, depraved developer decided to make them neutral and attackable, but it made my feeble little Iron-Man heart twist in my chest. So, if you find yourself in this region, be aware of that. I assume death is exceptionally swift when you are stomped flat by thirty foot tall level 90 tree.

After helping the elves cure some small part of the forest, we headed north, to quite possibly the coolest camp in the game.

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This is Talonbranch Glade, and it is a Worgen outpost in the northern-most reaches of the forest. It’s a two-hundred-plus foot tall black tree with waterfalls cascading from it canopy and a shimmering, sparkling pool at its base. It has a cavernous area beneath its roots for NPCs to take up residence. If I could designate any place in the game as my home forever, it would be here. Somehow I don’t think this tree is an option when it comes to building your garrison, though. Sad times.

After finishing up some quests for the friendly furbolg in the north, Iarann and I said our farewells to Felwood. I’m glad I decided to stop by and see how it compared to the Felwood of old. It’s a more interesting, more engaging zone as a whole and it helped to alleviate some of those bad memories I had carried around in the back of my mind all these years.

Our next stop is some place a little drier and a little more arid, with golden sand dunes shifting under an endless blue sky. See you there!

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