Hillsbrad

Cometh? It is Heareth! Is that even a word? Probably Not.

It has been a while since my last post, my most humble apologies, but with my Beta access which, yes, I eventually received, and my inability to sometimes not rant and rave about what I enjoy or hate .. I decided it would be best to avoid posting as I would be too tempted to post spoilers.

As it is let me say that having tried most of the Artifact Intro Quests, a number of each of the class hall quests and work on the world quests at the “end game point”, I am really, really looking forward to legion. That is it! No spoilers and no more for what is to come except that possibly you should keep your eye on Velen, Ysera, and .. well everybody.

Back to what is happening though – the Burning Legion Invasion of Azeroth and the fight at the Broken Shore ..

demonship

“Whether you fight for gold, God or country, take them down!”

– Helcular, during the Burning Legion Assault of Hillsbrad Foothills

I have been having a fantastic time with the demonic invasion of Azeroth, probably the most fun I have had with a pre-expansion event since the Scourge Invasion prior to Wrath of the Lich King. The only major difference being I have spend only a little time doing this invasion on my main and a lot on my alts.

Having experienced the Artifact Weapon Quests on premades, as well as my alts (who I will admit are mostly un-geared since they hit 100, and were often a lot less that 600 iLevel), I can tell you some of the quests, well I was worried about going into them without gearing, specifically some of the Mage, Shaman and Priest quests. Fortunately with the invasions blizzard gave me a quick fix for that (yes, I was to lazy to do Tanaan on alts) and since the invasion has launched all 22 of my toons are now over 680 iLevel, which calms some of my artifact death run fears .. even on my incredibly bad rogues.

It is not that the artifact weapon quests were not doable, even on the toons that had 512 iLevel, its just that being able to take a harder hit on those in 650+ did make some of the quests a lot more bearable.

Mostly what I have been loving about this invasion is the atmosphere – the taking of some fantastic characters like Helcular or Grynn and giving them a bigger presence has felt fantastic, especially as .. well zone commanders. Back during the Cataclysm event it was fun to fight alongside Cairne in Zul’Farrak, and other leaders elsewhere, but a quick boss run in an instance is not half as impressive as a zone filled with demons that, if you pull the wrong one will smash you flatter than a pancake in seconds.

Also how can you not love it when the event spawns somewhere like say .. Westfall, and a hundred or so cram aboard the Zeppelin to Grom’Gol and the moment it arrives you are part of a flight that looks straight out of some bizarre menagerie, even between boss hops in stage three of an invasion it is a pretty fantastic feeling.

Which reminds me, am I the only one who was reminded of the clips from that old cartoon Flight of Dragons when they became part of this massive flying horde?

Talking of flight, let me say that the cinematics at the end of the Broken Shore were fantastic. Whilst playing thru Beta these were not there and some of the quests you ended up doing (especially in Stormheim) left you wondering exactly what happened at the Broken Shore. Playing through it on live was also much more impressive day 1, since then it has been like Beta with smaller groups half afk and no-one eager to pull to much.

Hordeleaders

Day one of the invasion, Horde side especially, was overwhelming. Whilst Varian is still having his chit chat with Gul’dan and the Alliance are waiting to get the demons to spawn some Horde player has already pulled two or three packs of demons at the clifftop well before the group or the NPCS have arrived, and their replacements are already respawning. Day one was chaos up there on the ridge, and if you were melee it was a blur, Horde forces were quite literally being swarmed while Varian and Gul’dan were exchanging boasts. Yes, I do bring up all of this for a reason, but thr truth was it was fantastic feeling that sense of being overwhelmed, which followed by the two Horde cinematics, wow, totally epic. Sylvanas calling the retreat, the Horde leaders (all those that were present at the battle) seen stuggling to retreat, beaten and broken, followed by Vol’jin’s death … definitely worth the wait to see how it played out in full.

Knowing how things play out on Ally & Horde Toons in Beta I then quickly swapped to an Allince Toon for a look through, and was equally impressed, though I didn’t feel as rushed in the final phase as I did on Horde .. maybe because Alliance Players can’t pull everything and cause more to spawn, but it did feel like I was waiting for chats more, and then afterwards .. great cinematic, I can see where Genns feelings come from, even if I know he is wrong.

jainap

What I did notice after doing both invasions more than a few times, and what I have seen discussed more than once of the forums, is the subject of Jaina, and now her little spat in Dalaran has been seen I think it is fairly safe to talk about.

When we go back in time to take part in the Battle of Mount Hyjal, we witness Jaina teleporting her forces, which were all the combined Alliance forces on Kalimdor, out of the Demons/Scourges path. When we took gown Mal’ganis and had Varian Wrynn threatening Thrall, we watched wide-eyed as Jaina then Teleported all of the Alliance forces out of Undercity.

Now lets scroll forward, waaay past Theramore (which was justified!*), past her shenanigans on the Isle of Thunder to the Broken Shore. There she is at the get-go. You, your mercenary buddies, Genn Greymane, Jaina Proudmore, and the forces the have assembled. Together you fight your way to Varian and Mekkatorque, who then join you as you push along to see Tirion Fording, and then on to face Gul’dan. Accompanied all the time by Jaina Proudmore. In fact if you have her as your focus target, she is about doing .. something, right up until the cinematic kicks in. After the cinematic you hear her denounce the Horde to Anduin in Stormwind, and further quests see her quit the Council of the Kirin Tor in Dalaran from sheer spite that others may let the Horde stay there.

The question was though where was this mighty mage when the Alliance needed to retreat? She could have just moved them all aboard the ship without it needing to come closer, or even ported them directly back to a safe area like Stormwind or Dalaran. Instead of the eight leaders (between Horde and Alliance) who assaulted the Broken Shore, she is the ONLY one unaccounted for in the cinematic, and the one that could have done the most saving out of all of them.

I’ve heard people dismiss this fact, but to me that would be like saying Frodo made it all the way to Mount Doom and forgetting why he was there, its a major gaping plothole that only ends with more badly written Horde / Alliance tension and almost has me believing these “Jaina is a Dreadlord” statements popping up.

voljinbye

Finally let me wrap up with a few thoughts on Vol’jin, who tragically was taken from us way too soon. Frankly we didn’t see enough of him in-game, and I woudl loved to have seen more of his story, but for all the “epicness”of Varians death, I think Vol’jins was more heartbreaking, and in the end one with a bigger impact. Having read Shadows of the Horde**, I was especially pleased to see Tyrathan Khort hiding out in Durotar to attend the funeral.

The Alliance Bias that Blizzard seem to have is cropping up here again though, with yet another Horde leader vanquished. I did have someone complain to me in Guild the other day that “Alliance have lost a lot of other Heroes too though”to which I replied that yes, and so has Horde, mostly to bad storytelling. The fact is that with the death of Vol’jin we have had three Horde leaders die (including Garrosh) and with the Death of Varian the Alliance have only really seen one die (Bolvar and Mangi transforming into something else doesn’t count as dead and gone), quite an imbalance, I mean I understand that nothing is even and that deaths propel story and new characters, but it seems that Horde get the short end of the stick again.

Anyways, gripes over, look of awe back in place and ready to teleport Dalaran to the Broken Isles! See you there .. maybe.

*On Theramore, I do not agree with how the battle was fought, nor do I agree with how Garrosh won the battle. That the Alliance deserved a good swift kick up the rump and smash down for what they did in the Southern Barrens, hell yes, as a Tauren I can never forgive Camp Taurajo and you better believe it that Theramore did not whet the appetite for justice!
** It may just be me but this has been my favourite Warcraft Novel, the best written and by far the most engrossing. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed the others, but Michael Stackpole is a far superior writer and it does show, at least in my opinion.
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