On a Quest for the Best Quests : Dustwallow Marsh Alliance

Edit: Thanks to @spacebard for pointing out my Freudian slip with the name of the zone, as I prefer the place at twilight or dusk I have a terrible habit of calling it Duskwallow plus I suspect the correct name annoys me on some basic level because it’s not dusty in the slightest.

Leveling my Warlock has made me realise one fairly important fact, well two if you count that it highlights just how much I’m a creature of habit. Each zone seems to have at least two or three attractions within it, things which even if I’m just passing through I tend to be lured towards. Obviously this comes down to personal opinion and preferences but now I find myself wondering if this is true of every zone in game. Is there something  whether it’s because of the lore, the rewards or just the quirkiness which makes each individual zone interesting and worth repeating?

Well there is only one way to find out!

Today I want to look at Dustwallow Marsh, a zone I’ve always loved even back in the days when the Alliance barely had any quests here apart from the wonderfully convoluted “The Missing Diplomat” which had you running around Azeroth in search of the missing King. I know we could hardly be hunting Varian when he’s standing brooding in the Keep, but I wish when they redesigned the zone, they had left in the bit where Jaina and the Archmage port in to capture the bad guys.

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The one quest chain I always complete when I wander through the Marsh is that tragic tale of Smiling Jim and his unlucky family. There is something about Jim with his broken mind, perhaps the one person in the walled city for whom the destruction of Theramore was a blessing which always inspires me onwards to track down those responsible and of course to lay a wreath on the grave of his wife and son.

Flicking through my archives, I wrote about this chain way back in 2010 before Cataclysm ripped everything asunder and it’s interesting that unlike most quests in Azeroth it hasn’t actually changed much between now and then. The bread crumb from the Wetlands is gone but the essence of the chain remains the same.

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The second quest I tend to make a bee-line for is that terrible tale of a sea monster  named Tethyr. The chain begins with a quest to help a curious Gnome restart the Theramore Lighthouse and then once  you’ve got it going again, you learn from Nat Pagle that not only are legends of a sea monster off Theramore real but that Tethyr was the real reason they closed the lighthouse in the first place.

Yes, Tethyr is certainly real, and he lives in the waters off Theramore.

Has a thing for bright lights. He’s the reason they shut down the lighthouse in the first place, you know…

And if you light it up again, he’ll come right back. But no one in their right mind would do that.

Everyone’s favourite in-game fisherman and of course giant monsters with huge teeth are always going to be a winning combination.
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The Marsh is also the location of my favourite escort quest in the whole of Azeroth although to be fair that’s not particularly hard since I hate the rest of them with a passion.  Escorting Stinky through the marshlands as he pauses searching for what you assume the first time around is some tiny little flower hidden in the long grasses and swamp waters and saving him from angry crocodiles is fun enough by itself but that moment when you realise that plant which has taken him five minutes to find is actually the giant root you can see for miles…

The last thing I always do is pay Oxynia a visit in her lair and ponder the issue which has bothered me since the first time I killed her way back when, exactly who is the father of all those whelps? Our Priest chat* at the time decided it was either Bolvar or Marshal Windsor (well he knew she was Dragon…) although there are exceedingly dodgy theories out there on the internet if you are feeling brave enough to search for them.

*No one actually talked about Priesting, unless you count loot.

Dorrie and the Quest for Green Fire

As the next patch draws closer I’m ever so slightly in panic mode. There is one thing I’d love to do before every changes once again and that’s level my little Warlock to 90 and give the Green Fire quest a shot. So in the next month can I get a level 39 Gnome to 90 plus acquire enough gear and then learn to play her well enough to get shiny green flames? I suspect not but there is no harm in trying.

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Also if you didn’t read the Dorrie books whilst growing up, keep an eye out for them because they are wonderful. Thanks to them I spent my childhood wishing I could ride a broomstick and have my very own cauldron.

Nostalgia – That Bittersweet Pill

Nostalgia is a funny thing. In someways those first few years playing WoW were my happiest, playing with a stable group of people, raiding high end content and generally enjoying myself.Yet when I unpick those memories most of them aren’t hugely happy ones. I’ve certainly been left wary of trusting others, of fully engaging with my current guild because of things which have gone before.

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I’ve just spent the afternoon running UBRS remembering how much I loathed the place when it was current content, when the General only dropped one blood and therefore you had to run it over and over again to get your whole raid attuned for Blackwing Lair. I remember having to solo heal it one day in a raid of 15 because the other Priest took offense when someone linked the healing meter (not me) and set out to smite the rest of the run. The wipes because people adored hugging the whelps or being knocked off various ledges and edges. The fights we would have to convince the rest of the group that they’d should do Solakar Flamewreath because Priests deserved a shot at their dungeon set shoulders just like everyone else. Then there was the night we had to go and rescue a guildmate who joined an UBRS raid three or four hours before hand so that he could raid with us the following night and when he finally asked for help, they’d only made it as far as the Rookery… I think I still have nightmares about that PuG.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of WoW, I find myself questioning why I’m still here, why I haven’t learnt from past mistakes and run away as fast as my legs would carry me.  There are plenty of decisions the Developers have made which have left me rolling my eyes but the flip side of that is they’ve also done things I love, Hallows End and Ulduar being prime examples. Besides if they always got it right for me, they would be no doubt a fairly large subsection of people criticizing that because they just don’t like or enjoy the same things as me. Yes it’s a balancing act but it’s not as simple as say deciding not to read a book because either things contained within the text revolt you or you just think a five year old could produce more literary merit. Take Fifty Shades of Grey for example, a friend gave me the first one stating I’d love it. I read the first few chapters in a mix of disgust and horror, imagining Thomas Hardy rolling in his grave and made a conscious decision not to purchase any of her books. WoW on the other hand is more than just a game, it’s a community, something which inspires and pushes me. Do the pluses out way the negatives, I’d argue yes they do at least in my current circumstances as I sit here trying to figure out a way of coping with ante-natal depression and what comes after. Besides, I think there is hope for WoW. People can and do change their minds and their perspectives, it’s just about keeping the dialogue going in such a way that everyone can engage with it. After all, when someone creates something and pushes it out into the Public view then they have to expect criticism. I read English Literature at University and that’s pretty much all we did, unpick other people’s words trying to get inside their heads. Art History contains a fairly hefty criticism component. We have book reviews, Food critics and people who write about the Theatre so why should the Gaming Industry expect to be any different?

A Few of my Favourite Things: Mr and Mrs WoW’s Community Project

Mr and Mrs WoW have proposed an interesting community project to combat the negativity bouncing around as we slowly drift through the doldrums. They are asking the community at large to inform them what we love doing in Warcraft in these slow days before the expansion is released.

For me it’s a fairly simple list and I hope my little diagram gives a few hints!

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Up there at number one is Archaeology because it gives me the opportunity to wander around Azeroth just as I used to do whilst herbing in the original game. It’s an excuse to relax, look at the scenario and perhaps kill a few mobs or do a spot of fishing as you meander past. On top of that, you also make things which provide the opportunity for either toys or grey items to muse over, perhaps sparking a story or two.

My second choice is exploring old dungeons, the ones I’ve run a thousand times before but never used to stop and take in the scenery. Blackrock Depths is a definite favourite because I like hanging out in the Grim Guzzler picking up Dark Iron Dwarf outfits (my old raid leader really hated these) and the odd pickled egg. The music isn’t too bad either and you can always pick up a few items of clothing to help transform your latest outfit into something even better.

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Third I’ve picked Festivals, those annual excuses to get out of the cities and wander about visiting zones you haven’t seen in ages, dressing up and generally being silly. My favourite of these is Hallows End with it’s broomsticks, headless horseman and candy but really I’m a sucker for all of them, even the weekly Wanderer’s Festival.

My final choice is a bit a cheat really. It’s not so much something I do in WoW but something I do in between playing and that’s catching up on what the rest of the community are doing and saying. Sometimes it takes someone else’s perspective of something like Pet Battling to change your own perception of it (Thanks Navimie and Cymre). I hated archaeology when it was first introduced but I remember reading someone’s almost ode to the wonders of digging in Azeroth’s fertile soil (can’t remember who wrote it) and became hooked. The Godmother helped alter my feelings towards Garrisons and so on. Playing a multi player game is one thing, but diving into the community shows a whole new world out there.

ALT:ernative Chat’s 10 years, 10 questions: Looking Back at the Last 10 Years

Just before I went away for the weekend, the Godmother raised an interesting set of questions on our WoW experiences over the last 10 years and whilst wandering around an art festival and trying not to be sick on people for the last two days, I’ve been mulling over my answers.

 

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

Wandering the aisles of our local supermarket, Mr Harpy picked up WoW from the shelf and suggested we give it a try. We weren’t long back from almost a year of travelling and were looking for some sort of distraction to help us readjust back. He had played all the previous Warcraft games and was a big fan of the franchise. I on the other hand had only played Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne which we had picked up whilst travelling through Canada the previous year. I had no idea what a MMO was and certainly no clue what we were getting ourselves into. At first we just bought one copy to see if we liked it and at first, I quickly bored of the whole thing. In fact it was only by level 10 or so that my interest was sparked again and I think that was by the sheer size of the game, oh and the sea monsters off the coast of Darkshore. In my absence Mr Harpy had managed to join a Guild full of Female Nightelves and imagine my surprise when I discovered that 99 percent of them were played by guys (I may have been slightly more naive at that point) and once I got over the shock of chatting to “real” people through a game, I started to enjoy myself more and more. In the end buying my own copy seemed like the right thing to do and we did, driving an hour to track down another copy.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

The first character I rolled on my own account was a Human Female Warlock. I still have her and by coincidence she was on the realm which was recently joined to my current server so ideally I would like to level her from 62 to the cap at some point.

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She reached Knight-Captain in those early days of the Honor system before being abandoned for a Priest and a  PvP server, thus wears her PvP gear with pride and a certain amount of snark, reminding me that she could have gone all the way had I not left her for bloodier pastures. Her bags do make for an interesting time capsule with their Darkspear Troll Mojo (apparently I really didn’t like Trolls) and her Thrash Blade though. Whilst I did love playing a Warlock, the whole soul shard thing in world pvp was a pain especially given that you had to travel quite a distance to find high enough level mobs from both Hillsbrad and the Barrens plus the summons whispers… grrrr.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

 So whilst Mr Harpy was busy installing our first copy of World of Warcraft, I was flicking through the manual making important decisions like faction, race etc etc. I wanted us to roll a Druid and looking at the pictures, Nightelf catform beat Tauren catform hands down. I know, I know…..  We have since then played both factions and I am rather partial to the Forsaken but we still play Alliance primarily.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

After lots of reflection, I think three person healing the end of Anub’arak 25 man Heroic to our first kill has to be the most memorable. Killing C’thun at the time was amazing but we had weeks and weeks of preparation leading up to a sensible kill, clearing Ulduar and getting our Proto-drakes was pretty good as was getting my legendary and of course my Benediction but Anub’arak wins out because it was such a close run thing. Half our healers were dead and people were thinking it’s wipe but somehow, the three of us managed to keep ourselves, the two tanks and enough DPS alive in order for us to get a kill. My hands were shaking so much that around 8 seconds after the giant undead bug keeled over, I died too having too excited to bother healing my debuff any more. Although beating an Arms warrior in vanilla on my Priest for control of the mine in Arathi Basin was pretty sweet too.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

The sheer scale of it. Feel like Healing, join a battleground or dungeon queue. Feel like wandering around by yourself, go for it, there’s plenty of places to go. There was a time when I would have instinctively picked Healing as an answer to this and I do still love it but my anxieties mean that I have increasingly found it hard to partake in this social aspect of the game. I’m hoping that with this new expansion I’ll be able to conquer that, but the truth is, I suspect that I’m just too emotional fragile at the moment.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

Duskwood has held a fascination for me since I first set foot across that rickety bridge almost 9 and a half years ago. I hang out in the Scarlet Raven or wander it’s boneyards visiting old friends. I especially love to visit at Hallows End when all the spooky decorations are out.

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On the Horde side, I’d say Silverpine Forest is a clear favourite again especially at Hallows End.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

On my mostly main Snowflower I have 197 days played although I suspect if I logged every alt and added it all up, the total would be far more scary. It hasn’t been continuous as unfortunately I’ve witnessed more than I’d argue my fair share of in-game Drama. What with Guild leaders who hacked their own websites to read private messages, GMs who did a fair impression of Jekyll and Hyde, turning from a good laugh into a psychopath kicking people for nothing more serious than a slight mistake which they apologized for and just other general nastiness. There was a time when Mr Harpy ran a guild and was accused of running a Cult of Personality by the other officers because the rest of the guild didn’t respect them enough. This would have been funny if it wasn’t for the fact that rather than approach him, said officers thought that coming to me accusing him of being unfair made more sense. Sometimes you just need to run away before the madness gets to you. That’s before I even get into the loot drama, the general rows and spending most of vanilla in a top end raiding guild where everyone hated everyone else and healers were on par with Mages in Dragon Age, useful but best locked up somewhere and denied any loot which might encourage them into unholy ways.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Always and much to the annoyance of Mr Harpy who doesn’t care about lore but just wants to know that he can aoe grind and get healed, not die whilst my nose is buried into quest text. To me the game is a bit like a choose your own adventure game and therefore you have to read the quest text otherwise you’re blundering around in the dark killing for fun and gold and fancy clothes not because X is bad and deserves to have their head cut off and carried back to Stormwind.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

There are a few occasions when I should have spoken up sooner and louder. On the whole though, there might be a lot of blood on my hands but I think my Nightelf Priest would be semi proud at least of the way in which I have carried her through Azeroth.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming? 

Very little. My parents, my Mother in particular see gaming as some satanic ritual guaranteed to condemn you into a life of sin so discussing it with family is completely out. I have after all, enough to argue with my Mother about already. Blogging about the game has helped me keep my hand in with writing, something which was always a massive part of my life and I do have a Wind-rider club guarding my monitor.

Home Sweet Home

Last week the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was:

What in WoW reminds you of your home?

Suggested by Sycro of Sycro Owl.

Unfortunately I was too ill to put words on the page then so I’m sneaking in late.

I’ve been fortunate to call many beautiful places home and so rather than picking one, I’m going to take you on a quick tour of my life via WoW locations.

As a child, we lived in Germany in amongst the mountains and the fairytale castles so Gilneas immediately springs to mind. Their accents might be an approximation of English but those barren crags, dark waters and ornate walled city reminds me more of the Germany of my childhood than it does Britain.

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Then as a teenager, we moved to a far softer landscape surrounded by farm land in Scotland where you could see for miles, fields tapering down the sea. So in WoW terms I couldn’t imagine a better fit for Westfall and the rain in this particular shot is merely art mirroring life.

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There was an interlude traveling to places which didn’t remind me of home at all, following by a stint of living in a city about as far removed from Stormwind as possible and now, I live idyllically less than 200 metres from the sea in a tiny fishing village. The best equivalent I think in WoW would have to be  Sri-la village perched as it is at the base of a cliff. Okay, we don’t have a waterfall or any giant statues but that hidden away feel persists. There is only one road down into the village, passing the sea front and for a moment everyone seems to pause just to look down over the houses scattered below.

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This is the view less than a five minute walk from my front door and it makes me smile every time I see it.

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On boxes for Toys – Thoughts on Toyboxes in Warlords

This is my toybox. It’s traveled across Europe and the UK and is currently housed in our attic. These days it no longer holds toys but it’s one of those pieces of furniture which encapsulates so much about my childhood, I don’t see myself ever managing to throw it out. I’ve hidden inside it, turned it into a massive dolls house and stored my study notes for my degree in it. It currently holds winter clothes and is just waiting for me to finish scrapping off all those stickers.

Therefore it’s perhaps not a huge surprise that one of the things I’m most interested in with the Warlords Alpha is Blizzard’s long promised toy box. So far we have only seen screen caps but just having a fraction of the items currently littering up my bags safely stored elsewhere can only be a massive upgrade for the game. I did a bit of testing across various characters and discovered that I have far too many bag slots taken up by vanity items, with the vast majority of Snowflower’s bank slots being consumed by items like Gnomeregan Pride and Direbrew’s remote. On Dulcamara alone, my Monk made a year ago I have over 16 slots filled with fun but mostly pointless stuff.  Obviously until the game goes live and we get the final list, we can’t be sure how many of these items will vanish from our bags but I’ve reached the point where I’ll be grateful for any returned bag slots.

The other reason I’m looking forward to this feature is a slightly more practical one, there are plenty of these items out there, whether quest rewards or random drops that I might not know about and having a handy list whilst taking that serendipitous feeling out of acquiring things, helps ensure you track down everything you are interested in.

Obviously this is still the Alpha and we are potentially along away off the final toybox, I would like to see quest rewards like Jin Warmkeg’s Brew and the Cooking School Bell make it onto the list. However having a place to store all the Archaeological items and the items from the Timeless Isle will be a massive advantage alone. I’m also glad that items like the Mushroom Chair from Cataclysm and the Rituals of the New Moon from Wrath have also made the box because it would have been too easy just to put in bits and bobs from MoP onwards. The fact that the first engineering transportation trinkets have made the list gives me hope that the rest will follow suit and with any luck between now and launch, we can work with Blizzard to put together a comprehensive list of things which should be tucked away in the toybox.

A complete list of items encluded so far can be found in this thread on MMO-Champion or here on WoWhead.

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