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WoWSep 25, 2017 3:00 pm CT

Today is Mists of Pandaria’s 5th birthday

Mists of Pandaria launched five years ago today.  It was, in many ways, one of the best expansions World of Warcraft has ever seen and it saw a lot of innovations — Scenarios, fully integrated LFR for every tier of raiding, the first attempt at Challenge Mode dungeons, a vigorous patch release cycle that alternated new raid tiers with world and story content and more. Plus, the first cross-faction race, because Pandaren are just awesome and everyone should get a chance to be one.

For myself, Mists of Pandaria will always be remembered for changing the stakes of the Horde/Alliance conflict in World of Warcraft after Cataclysm saw the Horde make gains to balance out the leveling experience between the factions. Mists really explored what the two factions were up to in a situation where there was no compelling reason for both to work together — no looming threat of Deathwing hanging over the world’s head. The storyline of the expansion set the stage for everything that came after it. Both Warlords of Draenor and Legion are built on a foundation that Mists created. Wrathion’s legendary quest set the stage for discovering that Azeroth was a nascent Titan — his dialogue about rebuilding said Titan rings true today as we confront Sargeras’ forces on Argus for just that purpose.

For me, Mists was the last expansion before my eyes got too bad for raiding at the level I had been. So it’s bittersweet — Mists introduced flex raiding and the pre-Warlords patch converted Siege of Origrimmar to a new system that included flex for both normal and heroic (what had been Flex and Normal) as well as 20 man Mythic raiding. My swan song in raiding was in Mists of Pandaria and Mythic Garrosh was my last real progression kill. Since then I’ve been far more casual, so memories of good and bad moments — frustration trying to tank Norushen’s underground phase, for example, or tanking Thok — have stuck with me ever since.

Mists has a bit of a bad rap from the length of its content lull after Siege of Orgrimmar, but overall it was one of my favorite expansions. New lore, a new continent to explore after Cataclysm tried the decentralized approach, new NPC’s and stories. I didn’t love everything — not the reputation grinds being gated behind other reputation grinds, for example — but much of the lore was stellar, the way the patches came out, the raids and dungeons I very much liked. Mists is in my top three, and it’s ahead of Wrath in my estimation. I definitely enjoyed my time in Pandaria.

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