Z and Cinder’s Blog Challenge: Which Zone Reminds You of Your Home?

zcbc_contributor_rectangle4

So, which zone or area in WoW reminds you of your home?

For me it would be several places.

First, it’s my native city of Kirov (Vyatka) where I’ve spent the first 17 years of my life. Kirov is located in the middle of European part of Russia. It’s surrounded by thick woodland, and it’s also characterized by hills. When you walk in the city or in the nature, there seems to be no flat surfaces: either you go up or down.

We have continental mild climate there, mostly comfortable weather varying from +23 Celcius in Summer to -10 in Winter (sometimes there are peaks of +30 / -30, but it’s kinda extreme and doesn’t last long).

One of my best moments from childhood could be winter walks and forest skiing with my parents and brother. The snows are abundant, and the fluffy white boughs are an eye candy. It’s a sunny weekend, our cheeks are red from little frost and winter fun, you’ve just skiied few kilometers, it’s quiet, and the sounds are muffled by the snow. You’ve stopped in the woods for a break to drink some hot tea from a thermos flask you have on you, and feed a wild titmouse with crumbs and seeds from your hand. Happiness!

eU_hPXxQyp8

NjU5IcdZw7w

TTH9coMvg08

TXnFoyqtaTs

Small-titmouse-bird-in-women-s-hand-winter

You know where I’m leading here, don’t you?

But of course it’s Dun Morogh!

WoWScrnShot_042917_201745

If not for mountains, but forests, hills, and snow paths among the trees covered in fluffy snow.

WoWScrnShot_042917_201618

Micromantica knows how this dry grass feels when you touch it :)

In Summer, nature activity was concentrated on the banks of the river Vyatka, natural lakes and sand quarry lakes.

vyatka (1)

Vyatka

vyatka-3

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It does remind me of the river between Elwynn Forest and Duskwood.

WoWScrnShot_042917_202655

After I finished my high school, I’ve moved to Saint-Petersburg where I live ever since, first studied in a university and then working. Wow, this year it will be 17 years since I moved, so it will be exactly half of my life when I consider Saint-Petersburg my home.

Most of all I like Saint-Petersburg itself for its granite clad embankments – which are a trademark of the city:

47675

photo_spb_110_2

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

spas-na-krovi-42381408075663773

Of course I like Stormwind for the same reason! I think I could never live in a city which is not attached to some great amounts of water – lakes or rivers.

WoWScrnShot_042917_202515

And if we speak about nature around Saint-Petersburg, we must remember that we are just a two-hour drive from Finland. So, the nature here is also famous for its vast forest lakes:

озеро-Ястребиное

I’ve played WoW first in WotLK expansion, and I played it until I reached level 76 or so. Then I quit for no particular reason. You know what made me return to the game?

The Cataclysm video where Deathwing destroyed Loch Modan. I came back with a very particular purpose: kick his ass for destroying the lake, my most favorite spot.

zAIqt7j

I wonder if the dwarves could finally fix the dam :) It’s been a while.

P.S. When I read this post, its no wonder I’m more of a For the Alliance person :)

Big Project: Exploration

Map

Within my WoW to-do list there’s always been these big projects which are not necessarily complex or hard to complete, but require some time and persistence. Reputation grinds, archaeology, epic weapons from the past, pet battles. One of them is Exploration.

I like maps. If I would suddenly travel back in time to my teens and had to choose a new career opportunity – well, one of the opportunities would be something related to maps. It’s one of my hobbies. In my multiple travels I like to acquire all the possible maps – I research Google maps of the place I’m going to, I always have a map app at my iphone, and I’m buying some paper ones when I’m there.

Whar I’ve always hated in WoW are blank spaces in maps. If I’m questing in a zone, I’m trying to unveil its map in full – and not just the places I’m sent to by quest-givers. If there’s one single blank spot left, I would go and open it deliberately. But obviously you can’t be in every zone while leveling.

I have completed world explorer with my main in the first months of playing WoW – even before Pandaria. But thanks to my map obsession hobby, I always knew that when I login with any toon, any alt, he/she must have all maps opened and ready. It was a big, long play project which came to an end yesterday. I’ve completed this or that zones deliberately from time to time with my toons when he/she felt like travelling, but anyways it required deliberate sessions of map-opening of vast spaces.

The whole trip isn’t that hard, really. Smaller continents like Outland, Northrend, Pandaria or Draenor would each take you an hour or less to complete in full. Depending on how much of the map you’ve opened while questing.

The bigger continents, EK and Kalimdor, are 2-3 hours trip or so. The worst parts are Blood Elf and Draenei starting zones which STILL don’t let you fly. It’s been… 10 years when they cannot draw Silvermoon and Exodar rooftop textures for us to see them? Oh well. Anyways, you have to ride on the ground through 4 zones in the list.

You have obligatory dangerous parts for factions there. To open a piece of Ammen Vale where Draenei start with a Horde toon, you have to die 3-4 times, pushing your way through 105 elite guards and resurrecting as far as the ghost leash allows. Silvermoon is more forgiving for Alliance toons. You just ride into the gate, make a circle of honor around it, and have four guards running after you. I always imagine the music from Benny Hill show when doing that :) With a bit of luck, they won’t dismount you, and there won’t be high level Horde players to kick your ass while you’re frantically escaping to the golden wilds. Well, Silvermoon normally is the least populated city, located in the ass of the world with no attraction points for high levels. Still Kellers, my Human Mage, chose the worst time to go there – there was a Midsummer fireworks party, so she was ganked like 4 times by a horde of Hordies before she was let to go :)

Now all my toons are grand explorers, they have all the continents on their maps, and the big project is closed. One more thing ready for Legion & Broken Isles!

 

Research: Gnomes Don’t Really Need Gnomeregan?

This work is presented to all the Gnome community by the famed explorer of Azeroth and beyond – Micromantica, the honorary member of Ironforge Explorers’ League.

*Please note that this is a research based on raving fantasy which was then proved by facts – actually it’s the way all true Gnome researches are to be done. 

So, the question in question is:

Gnomes Want Gnomeregan Back, But Is It Gnomeregan They Need?

Let’s fuss about the modern state of affairs. As we all probably know, Gnomeregan was overrun by troggs in the Third War. Gnomes valiantly dealt with these nasty gnawers all by themselves, letting the dwarves help fighting the demon and Scourge threats. Then something went wrong.

We won’t point with our fingers at certain persons, but the result was turning Gnomeregan into a fallout theme park. Not only some troggs are to be found in modern Gnomeregan (and so, the problem was not solved completely), but many, many, many, oh, many Gnomes were turned into leper ones. This lepers instantly became hostile, and even provided their resources and twisted brains for villainy villains (see Steamvault).

This was the day when Gnomeregan was lost. The surface was claimed not so long ago, but the major parts of the underground city are still swarming with troggs, lepers and living ooze.

Gnomeregan dwellers became refugees. They were accepted by Ironforge and still hold a big chunk of a quarter there despite building New Tinkertown. But Gnome investments in the victories and technical wonders of Alliance is not part of this research. We are interested in one simple question: why we ever need Gnomeregan back so much?

*Micromantica sips a fizzledrink, then coninues.

Missions We Want Within Gnomeregan

Our interests in Gnomeregan are as follows:

  1. Humanitarian (or should we say: Gnomanitarian?). Some Gnomes are still there to be cleansed and saved from radiation.
  2. Scientific and Practical. Vast number of research papers and mechanisms are tobe recovered, researched and used in further activities.
  3. Nostalgic. Or call it revenge. Most of all we want Gnomeregan for Gnomeregan’s sake. Because it was our home… sort of.

While these reasons are definitely welcome with any sane Gnome, we can’t cast away or deny the importance and necessity of claiming Gnomeregan for ourselves. But do we really need it as our home? And is it the best capital city possible?

The answer is: NO.

Fasten Your Seatbelts And Face The Facts

Guess who are the digging race of Azeroth? Dwarves. In each and every corner of Azeroth and beyond – if you meet a dwarf settlement, it’s attached to a mountain, a hill or at least dug three levels underground. A note from the audience?

*Telsamar’s tavern lady sends her hugs and kisses. 

Thank you! I’m coming for ribs this weekend! Now, where were we?

Right, dwarf digging habits. Please check out the dwarf capitals.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can perfectly see, Ironforge, Grim Batol and Aerie Peak – yes, even the air-loving Aerie Peak! – are built into a mountain so hard that only gates and narrow windows are seen. And I’m not even giving you Blackrock. You were there.

The important thing for dwarves is that everything important is happening inside the mountain or underground. The same is true about their settlements.

WoWScrnShot_040616_095338

The city of Dun Modr is a perfect example of a typical dwarven city. You find a rock and dig deep inside it, leaving only small holes on the surface to get in.

Name any dwarven settlement and you will see that very little is on surface but very much is underground.

This was true for original Earthen and Iron Dwarves. Travelling in Northrend, each and every dwarf settlement will be dug deep in the mountains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is true for the modern dwarves. At the present Draenor campaign, the most notable settlement of dwarfs was in Gorgrond, and guess how it looks? Right, an entrance gate-hole and a big lot happening underground and inside the mountain.

*One more fizzledrink for the lecturer’s table plz *ahem* Thankz!

Now we’re here, on the slimy ground of “I don’t believe you!” and “Impossible!”. But I hope that Gnomes are capable of letting the theories turn their world upside down. We came up with an idea to spin the world around our rockets, right? So:

Gnomeregan’s Caverns Are Not Of Gnome Origin

Gnomes can dig, it’s very true. You could see the giant drills on our submarines. Won’t we be able to drill some stupid mountain? Hah!

But us, Gnomes, are not a DIGGER race. Certainly all the technical wonders in Gnomeregan are purely and only our work. Certainly it’s something to be proud of. But it was not the place we chose for ourselves in the first place!

From the very start, even mechagnomes needed some field and fresh air for their experiments. See Terrace of the Makers: it’s the most populated mechagnome zone, and it has nothing to do with any caves.

WoWScrnShot_040616_100545

Mimiron – do you remember his hideout? Nothing like caves or dwarvish halls, no sir! It’s a vast space, a perfect lab opened for experiments. Any experiments. You can’t exactly remember if there are walls or ceilings, cause they’re so not around.

And now to modern Gnomes.

Each and every Gnome settlement in the world is set in an open space. Moreover, it’s not only an open space, but a rise. Slides, please! *ahem* 

WoWScrnShot_040616_101645

Toshley’s Station in Outland, Blade’s Edge Mountains. It’s one of the higher grounds. Was there a possibility to dig a hole? Yes. Was there a possibility to build a house in a mountain? Yes. Could we do that in close proximity to the examined area? Yes. Are there any underground huts? No.

WoWScrnShot_040616_094720

Steelgrill Depot in Khaz Modan, Dun Morogh. When Gnomes get their settlement, it’s an open space. Compare to Kharanos which is almost the same town:

Kharanos

Yes, that’s Kharanos for you. All the buildings are set deep in mountains and the tavern has two underground levels.

WoWScrnShot_040616_101212

Fizzcrank Airstrip in Northrend, Borean Tundra. Again, many hillsides and mountains to set a base – but what we have is an open space and no underground homes.

And there’s an interesting example too. The Shimmering Flats in Kalimdor, Thousand Needles were a playground for Gnomes and Goblins. Before Cataclysm, it was a racing ground where we competed with greenskins – it was a battle of speed and engineering!  Cataclysm flooded the grounds.

Did the inhabitants escape? No. Did they floated to a rocky safe shore and built themselves a safe, steady base to continue scuba diving from there? No.

WoWScrnShot_040616_100047

It’s an open space floating speedbarge. Very dangerous – because goblin brawls and pirates shooting, but very convenient in terms of investigation. Not a single Dwarf would ever, ever stay there after Cataclysm or even think of building such an unstable thing. Gnomes did.

Face the facts: when Gnomes are free to go and set themselves a base of operations, it will never, ever be a diggy diggy hole. Even if the landscape welcomes some steady underground fortress or lab to be built, Gnomes won’t do that.

And look what we have here.

Gnomeregan caverns were originally dwarven or natural mines or both. They were enhanced, mechanized and improved by Gnomes, but it was never a place Gnomes were truly happy about. We may only wonder if it was the only option or Dwarves just showed them the dark caverns and said: now you live here, but Gnomes would never build their home city under ground or in a mountain. They’re not a digging race! But Dwarves – those Dwarves who live around the corner – they are! If we only had a choice…

But We Have It Now!

New Tinkertown is a nice start, and it’s both a refugee camp and a front base for Gnomeregan operations. Mind you, I would have been in front rows for claiming Gnomeregan in Operation: Gnomeregan II, III and IV, and however many will be needed.

But what Gnome people really need is:

  1. To evacuate all blueprints, machines and Gnomes to be saved from Gnomeregan.
  2. To seal this place, solving the trogg problem once and for all (it’s not like we have an extra mad Aspect of the Earth on loose to break the mountain).
  3. Finally, leave the current New Tinkertown to be a guarding outpost and build ourselves a proper capital according to Gnome true intentions and lifestyle.

Where? Oh, I have the answer for you. The goddamn Frostmane trolls hill between Gnomeregan and Ironforge.

WoWScrnShot_040616_103857

And that is why.

  1. It will be a natural expansion of New Tinkertown. We keep our close proximity to dangerous fallout sites and Gnomeregan which are to be cleansed. We keep our trade and maintain friendship with Ironforge Dwarfs, and we can check out the Gnome relatives in Ironforge too.
  2. It will solve the Frostmane troll problem once and for all. It seems that Moira and Varian didn’t finish the trolls there during Pandaria campaign, it was more of the proving allegiance fight. But Frostmanes keep harassing the trade ways! Dwarves will only say “thank you”.
  3. Finally, the plateau has enough space to build a proper Gnome capital. What is more important, it’s located on high grounds and is a perfect place for a true Gnome town as we seen them in the examples before. Opened to winds, flight, alchemy, magic and explosion experiments and more.

My call:

WoWScrnShot_040616_104009

Your call!

When Pandaria Is Left Behind…

– Dear Blizzes, please do a pre-launch event
where Garrosh launches a mana-bomb to a continent of Pandaria,
so that not a single virmen, mantid or pandaren survived.

– And Gina Mudclaw must be in the epicenter of explosion

– And forget everything as a nightmare.

(c) Official WoW forum

With each day, Warlords of Draenor comes nearer. It may be hard to imagine now, but Pandaria that has been with us for 2 years will become a one-more leveling area on your path to where “real events” happen. How will it be?

Ilmari
Ilmari enjoys Valley of Four Winds from the virmen cliff.

During these two years, we’ve launched at a continent with our faction, established a base and followed the magic Mogu bell storyline with Alliance or Horde. We fought Sha (and Sha in our souls too), embraced Pandaren peaceful philosophy and learned the ways of monk (even those who did not play monks). We eradicated endless mogu, yaungol and mantid. We put an end to Lei Shen and the regime of Garrosh through a series of events and finally raids. And we did lots, lots, lots of farming and possibly learnt more about growing crops than your local minister of agriculture.

The question is: Why do we fight

1. Is Pandaria worth replaying if you must level your alts here?
2. Compared to previous expansions, what place in the row will Pandaria take? And which expansion is best for leveling?
3. Which Pandarian storylines you will do when you level up through it again? Which you definitely won’t?

I really want to hear as many opinions here as possible, drawing the line and at the same time expressing your thoughts on the expansion experience. I would be grateful for a link to this post at your blog too :)

So, my answers for a start.

1. Yes, it’s definitely worth every minute I’ve spent here. It may not bear the “true-wow” atmosphere with all the Oriental scent, but it’s at the same time so unusual and introduces you many characters, things and storylines that you’ve never seen before, a unique style that gently embraces you as a jade mist and doesn’t let you out easily. With leveling alts, the continent will be perfect to distract from the orc-demon-undead spinning wheel of “normal” Warcraft, to plunge at least for 5 levels into a cozy atmosphere of snow-capped mountains and rich green valleys, to wander among magnificent temples and have fun with friendly Pandaren. Leaving Pandaria will be like waking from a golden dream with most pleasant memories before rushing into the harsh lands of Draenor.

2. When you level an alt character, it’s crucial that you have a variety of options of where to go and what to do. If you get a sort of crossroads, it’s very cool, because you are not stuck to one and the same storyline for each and every character.

So, my preferences are:

I. Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. As you travel for the whole lot of 58-60 levels here, there’s a vast amount of zones you can level up in. And what is most important, you can easily quit one continent and simply go to another – possible for both Horde and Alliance. Around level 20-30 and farther, there are no specially assigned faction zones. Capitals, many different zones (from deserts to jungle to forests to valleys to snow zones), many lore characters known from before WoW – and Cataclysm’s reboot of storylines which makes leveling up extremely interesting. And don’t forget many, many, many dungeons that don’t let you get tired even if you level up only through dungeon runs.

II. Northrend. You spend here like 10-14 levels, and it easily provides content for every step. Two landing points for your choice, and you can quit them at once and travel to other hubs of zones. If you do only one starting zone in full, you level up 5 levels (if you additionally make a single run for each available dungeon). Within the one zone limits, you have many different storylines to follow, so you can level up two chars of one faction in the very same area and not repeat a single step. You never get bored and never have to wait for the new quest zones to become available. You can have your pass to the end zones at 77 and enjoy Storm Peaks or Icecrown questing for 3 solid levels or more. Multiple dungeons! With each level you open some and eventually end up with at least 10-12 to choose from.

III. Pandaria. One landing point, and there is an obligatory starting questline which becomes more boring with every next toon. And there’s annoying Li Li who will peck out your brain with the first two minutes of your acquaintance with her. Sadly it’s the only questline you must follow too and listen to her for like at least half an hour. But even at Dawn’s Blossom you can choose to explore Jade Forest with many different stuff to do or go to Kun Lai Summit or Krasarang or Valley of Four Winds – so that’s when it becomes diverse and fun. Few dungeons is major drawback.

IV. Outland. One landing point, and it kicks off the desire to continue at once. If you leveled in Eastern Kingdoms, you already had 4 scorched zones in a row: Badlands, Searing Gorge, Burning Steppes, Blasted Lands – to get the very same scorched zone on your arrival. And you can’t really change it at once for Terokkar, for example. What is left is running through the vast already hated scorched areas and continue with the dark swamp for 4 levels before you even get a chance to get a quest at Terokkar. The expansion also doesn’t let you easily to Nagrand or Blade’s Edge Mountains, not until you’re like 65-66. One of the biggest drawbacks is also non-rebooted questlines. There are many, many quests where you just fly and fly from one place to another to kill 10 whats-your-names (lucky if you don’t have to collect smth. from them with extremely low drop rate) and then you fly, fly, fly back. And then you do it again and again. They got rid of this in EK and Kalimdor, but Outland was not rebooted. But there are many, many very interesting dungeons.

V. Cataclysm. These 5 levels are a complete disaster. While you can choose between Hyjal and Vash’jir at once, you have to follow the same questlines with both Horde and Alliance toons. Leveling up is very, very slow and you have to complete all the same storyline again and again with no hubs to choose from. You cannot level up through dungeons too – there are too few, and give so little experience. There’s also Vash’jir – undewater levels are never success with every game. All the 3D, and you cannot really hit the next enemy at once, requires tuning your position. And when things start to get interesing and different for two factions at Twilight Highlands – it’s at the same time the level when you can go to Pandaria. So, cool storyline for the first run and next char to remember all the plots, it’s becomes awful with your third alt. 

 3. The most exciting thing in Pandaria was RPG-element with most zones. Almost everywhere you get an opportunity to develop not only your gear or char but actually change the events and surroundings. The coolest examples are: establishing the bases of Horde and Alliance both in Krasarang. Jade forest and Kun Lai Summit, pushing through the continents and making your bases grow, development of Halfhill farm, discovering Klaxxi Paragons and adding them up to your quest hub (not a single one of them repeated), developing your base and assaulting the Isle of Thunder with your progress visible at once. And there are some questlines which also lead to landscape changes like unveiling a picture and destroying the Serpent’s Heart, plus the questline with Stoneplow. These things will be the highlights of leveling in Pandaria. Dull questing is of course happens Townlong Steppes and Grummle Path in Kun Lai Summit. It’s just a way to nowhere, killing more mobs and more mobs. 

That’s my experience on the expansion questing – would be cool to learn yours ;)