Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BWBT: Favorite Blizzard Title

Yesterday's Blizzard Watch Breakfast Topic (BWBT) posed the question "what is your favorite Blizzard title?". For me, that's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. I have and have played nearly all of the Blizzard games available to me - some long after their initial release, such as with The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne (both of which are available for download for free via All of the Blizzard-made WarCraft, StarCraft, and Diablo games have a home on my computer, alongside Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.

If the question were which Blizzard franchise was my favorite, I would answer "WarCraft" in a heartbeat - it was introduced to me at a young age by the same person who introduced me to other core geeky fandoms such as Star Wars and Magic: the Gathering. WarCraft: Orcs and Humans introduced me to the RTS genre. WarCraft II is why I care about game story and lore, not just in WarCraft games but in every game I play. WarCraft III showed me how awesome pre-rendered cinematics could be, thereby sparking my interest in the topic of video game creation.

World of Warcraft is certainly the title I've played the most, but at times I miss the army vs. army nature of its RTS predecessors. When World of Warcraft was still in early development, I remember seeing playable orcs dressed as grunts and humans dressed as footmen and found myself somehow attracted to the idea of playing the footman in a massively expansive RTS world. Of course, that's not at all how the MMORPG turned out, but if it wasn't for that idea lodging itself in my head, I likely would have passed on the monthly subscription fee.

I think in the end, I'm going to have to go with WarCraft II as being my favorite Blizzard title (the Beyond the Dark Portal expansion pack edges out the original Tides of Darkness if I have to pick between them). It's old and dated, and no longer nearly as much fun to play after having experienced the massive UI and AI advancements made in WarCraft III and StarCraft II, but everything I like about WarCraft games can be traced back to those titles. I became interested in WarCraft lore because the WarCraft II introduced me to characters like Anduin Lothar, Turalyon, Kurdran and Sky'ree. The first video game cinematic that ever hooked me in was the WarCraft II cinematic involving the catapult and zeppelin. WarCraft II is what drew me to the Paladin archetype, and where I became enamored with gryphons.

So yeah, it's more about nostalgia than anything else, but if I had to pick, that would be my answer.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

To Answer the Question Lingering in the Air...

...a witch turned me into a newt.

...I got better.

On a more serious note, If you're wondering where I've been since late 2013, I've been working alongside several other Feathermoon realm RPers to co-host and edit the Feathermap Podcast, a small podcast that covers topics relating to RP on our realm. Feel free to check it out if that kind of thing interests you. A new episode in which we delve into the lore found in the Shadowmoon Valley, Frostfire Ridge, Gorgrond, and Talador zones just came out and should be available here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

How to City Hop Efficiently

World events like Love is in the Air and Pilgrim's Bounty can be exhausting - they ask you to trek across the globe on a daily basis, visiting each of your faction's capital cities in order to maximize your chances of getting whichever event rewards you're after. Without a mage to open portals for you, this might seem like a monumental task, but it's not as difficult as it initially appears.

First of all, it's best to start at one of the faction cities furthest from Stormwind City or Orgrimmar - either Darnassus or Exodar for Alliance or Undercity or Silvermoon City for Horde will work, since each pair has a mechanism to quickly travel to the other city (a portal between Darnassus and Exodar and a teleportation orb between Undercity and Silvermoon). Once you've completed tasks in both cities, take the Portal to Hellfire Peninsula near the portal trainers in any city. Once past the loading screen, you'll find yourself standing right in front of a portal to Stormwind City or Orgrimmar - just turn around and hop through the portal and that's 3 cities down, 1 to go.

From Stormwind or Orgrimmar, make your way to Ironforge or Thunder Bluff. It doesn't matter much whether it's by tram, zepplin, flight master, or hearthing to a Shrine or Ashran and taking the portal to the final city. And if you need to get back to Stormwind or Orgrimmar, the route through the Hellfire Peninsula portals is always open.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Farm Up Lovely Charms - Surprise They're Made of Spiders!

If you didn't read the title of this post to the tune of the Lucky Charms jingle, I am horribly, horribly disappointed in you. =P

The Love is in the Air world event is approaching its halfway mark, and if you're after all of the pets and toys and achievements you'll probably need a ton of Love Tokens, and that means farming up Lovely Charms. After all, each character can turn in up to 4 Lovely Charm Bracelets per day for 5 Love Tokens each (one per each of your faction's city leaders), and then each additional bracelet can be traded for a single token.

Now, there are lots of places where you can farm up Lovely Charms - WoWhead has a list of good farming spots written by Elvinelol, but I think I've found a decent place that's not on the list: Deathweb Hollow.

Here there be spiders.

Deathweb Hollow is full of spiders. Lots and lots of spiders. Also, there are clusters of spider eggs that spew out a handful of small baby spiders when stepped on. All of these mobs (which, in case you forgot, are spiders) are level 95+, so level 100 characters can kill them relatively easily while still qualifying for Lovely Charm drops. They also award Bodyguard reputation if you happen to keep a bodyguard around, presumably to guard your body...from all the spiders. Additionally, there are two rare mobs in the area (both spiders, if you couldn't guess): Klikixx and Taladorantula.

Klikixx is inside the cave in the hollow, at the end of the upper path - a path conveniently filled with dozens of spider egg sacks which you can pop for tons and tons of potentially-Lovely Charm-yielding kills. Taladorantula, on the other hand, must be summoned in the clearing just up the hill past the cave entrance. How? By squashing dozens and dozens of baby spiders, of course! Sadly, these spiders don't qualify as proper kills since simply running over them will squash them, but the many adds summoned by Taladorantula do count, and are quite easy to one-shot.

Still not sold? Okay, I don't blame you, but look, just kill lots and lots of baby spiders with fire and tie their corpses into bracelets, then hand those to your faction leaders. I'm sure they'll appreciate it. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Yesterday, Blizzard Watch reported that the Warlords of Draenor soundtrack was nominated for an International Film Music Critics Association award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media, and I wholeheartedly agree that the nomination is well-deserved. This expansion's music has been nothing short of stunning.

However, as amazing as the Warlords of Draenor music is, there is and always shall be one song that epitomizes WarCraft music in my mind - "Echoes of the Past".

This incarnation of the track originally appeared in WarCraft III, I believe, but failed to make it onto the WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos Collector's Edition soundtrack. It was, however, included in the original World of Warcraft Collector's Edition soundtrack, even though it didn't make it into the MMO until the Caverns of Time: Old Hillsbrad Foothills instance was introduced in The Burning Crusade.

In any case, there's just something inherent to the interplay of percussion and woodwinds that makes it the first thing I that pops into my head whenever WarCraft music is brought up. I'm just really sad that Blizzard missed the opportunity to update the track and call it "Echoes of the Alternate Timeline Past". =P

Anyway, I'm going to go listen to the song on repeat for the next few hours, because it's just that good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WoW Insider is Dead. Long Live Blizzard Watch

It's probably somewhat telling that when I first found out that WoW Insider was closing its virtual doors, it was through a blog that wasn't WoW Insider itself. Over the years, I'd lost interest in most of its posts - opinion pieces, Know Your Lore, and The Archivist were pretty much the only articles I regularly read from that site, and even then usually quite a while after their publication.

Thus, it came as something of a surprise to realize how sad I was to see it go.

And a significant relief to find out that the former WoW Insider staff aren't dispersing into the wind, but rather sticking together to create the new Blizzard Watch site. I'm genuinely excited to see where they'll take the new blog, especially if they embrace their new identity and expand to regular coverage of other Blizzard titles. I get the feeling I'm going to be reading a lot more of their columns from now on.