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The QueueDec 20, 2017 12:36 pm CT

The Queue: The saddest Warchief

Poor Vol’jin. He becomes Warchief and then we flee Azeroth, leaving him all alone in his throne room, where the only one to visit him is an alt stopping by to turn in the the occasional quest. Warchief for just a single expansion, sitting alone on his throne while we adventured elsewhere. It must have been a dull, lonely life, with only other NPCs to keep him company.

Sorry about that, Vol’jin.


At Blizzcon Blizzard said they were pleased with the Illidan storyline and it made them want to make “character campaigns” with lore characters like Sylvanas, Jaina, Thrall, Vol’jin, etc. I had taken that to mean what’s going on with those characters in BfA, post-Legion, but I’ve just remembered: the Illidan questline largely dealt with explaining who Illidan was and recontextualising his past.

Do you think that’s what we’re in for in BfA with these other characters? Rather than just “How Thrall regains the Doomhammer and his relationship with the Elements” or whatever, might we see cutscenes and scenarios through his eyes showing his time in Durnholde, freeing the Orcs from the camps, forging the Horde, meeting the Mag’har and similar sorts of things, leading up to what he does in BfA?

I think it’s going to depend a lot on how much Blizzard needs to re-contextualize its characters. We had an entire expansion based on defeating Illidan, and we really needed to see things from his perspective in Legion so we could understand — and want to fight beside him. Blizzard hasn’t mentioned any traditional villains in the story lineup of Battle for Azeroth, and its characters may not need that kind of shift… though going well back into a character’s past could absolutely add depth to those character’s stories.

But my biggest hope is that the story will fill in gaps. There are a lot of characters Blizzard specifically mentioned who have been conspicuously absent, like Vol’jin (even though they only showed a picture of an urn when he was mentioned). While Blizzard could certainly spin some tale about what his spirit is up to right now, Vol’jin’s tenure as Warchief is a big blank slate. Just what was he doing during Warlords of Draenor? What were any of the Horde back on Azeroth doing? That’s a story I really want to hear.

Jaina’s much the same. While we’ve seen some of her, just what has she been doing during the last two expansions? And while he wasn’t mentioned, Wrathion’s recent actions are very much a mystery, too… and perhaps we’ll learn more in Battle for Azeroth. I hope so.

The only character Blizzard mentioned that could use the kind of re-contextualization that Illidan got is Sylvanas. We’ve seen a lot of her lately, but she keeps her own council and we know little about the why of her actions. Is she to be another Garrosh: a one-dimensional villain? Or will we find out there’s more to her? I certainly hope for the latter, because the former is just dull.


Q4tQ: Who do you think will win BfA? Alliance? Horde? Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God? Murky?

While I suspect Jay meant this as a joke, it actually highlights what I see as a storytelling problem in WoW. Because there are two player factions, neither of them can ever truly win or lose the faction war. They have to remain more or less equal powers because that’s how gameplay is structured.

And this seems like a particular problem with an expansion that explicitly sets them at each other’s throats. Are we heading towards another Mists of Pandaria where the Horde is purely villainous, but at the end the game has to ignore it to go back to the status quo? Or perhaps this time the opposite will be true, and they’ll make Jaina into a villain, a plot line that would easily fit with how they’ve set her up being (understandably) furious with the Horde while everyone else (oddly) thinks she’s being unreasonable.

I really hope neither is true, because the game just doesn’t work when one side is purely evil and one side is purely good. It makes for one-dimensional characters who aren’t that interesting — Garrosh was a lot more interesting way back in Burning Crusade when he was simply ready give up. By Mists, he was nothing but a cardboard cutout bad guy. Yawn.

However, despite the setup of Battle for Azeroth, I’m hoping they do something more than a black and white, good vs. evil story. Legion proved that they could give a bad guy — Illidan —depth, so I hope we see the same with major story characters in BfA.

And before anyone gets started, this is not a statement intended to be pro-Alliance or pro-Horde. What I want, and what I think would make the game more interesting, is depth of story on both sides of the fence. The game should be fun for everyone, with compelling stories and interesting character motivations on each side. Let’s not get into angry faction wars in the comments.


I tried my first dungeon run in Hearthstone this morning. I cruised through the first 4 bosses. Then I got roflstomped. That escalated quickly.

Dang, do I love Hearthstone dungeon runs. But some of the bosses are particularly brutal and require specific strategies or deck types to beat. One that both Alex and I were struggling with is an the Darkness. It’s an end boss with a lot of board clear, mind control, tons of armor, and some really big minions. It gains control of the board early and then it’s a struggle to hold it off. The last time I encountered it I was on the defensive immediately and didn’t do a point of damage to the boss itself. We determined that the best way to beat him was to have the passive that made all minions stealthed all the time, which keeps the Darkness from using single-target spells to clear out your powerful minions. but in some fights and for some deck types, that can be terrible (and it’s explicitly caused me to lose fights when I’ve actually taken it).

The randomness of encounters — and the cards you collect along the way — can make some fights tremendously challenging and some fights completely trivial.

In the end, these dungeon runs can really be down to luck, especially as you progress and the boss encounters get harder.

(P.s., someone please tell me how to win as a Warrior because I really cannot do it.)


They’ve been trying the battle or melee healer with Paladins. Did it work?

My answer is going to be an unsatisfying yes and no. I really, really enjoy the battle cleric concept, and Blizzard is closer to this idea than they have been before. But even with skills that encourage a Holydin to get in close — and bear in mind that I play my Holydin fairly casually, with dungeon runs and LFR — the game can be punishing for anyone in melee range. So skills may encourage healers to stick close to who they’re healing, and get in melee range to take a few swings, but encounters can punish that. Even if you look back on Fistweaving Monks, that style worked best on encounters — and it’s entirely possible my experience is atypical — that required lighter healing. When you needed to really push your healing, you had to pull out of melee range, switch up your talents, and focus on healing.

It certainly seems like that for Paladins. Meleeing is a novelty, but not a core gameplay mechanic, and I really don’t know how Blizzard can fix it… or if they can at all while keeping things balanced.



And that’s all for now, Quevians. As always, leave plenty of questions for Anne below, and I’ll see you back next week!

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