Actual Blizzcon News Recap

After the last, admittedly pretty touchy-feely blog post, I figured it was time for something a bit more concrete and analytical regarding all of the news at Blizzcon.  So here it is, Fussypants’s Very Serious Take on all the gaming news announcements!

World of Warcraft

Pants is getting herself wings!!!

Ok, jokes aside, I am tentatively optimistic about the upcoming World of Warcraft changes.  On the whole, I feel like Blizzard is finally recognizing the major gripes with the current system, gripes that have cause both my and other guilds I know of to step away from the game for hiatuses.  The big test will be if these changes actually find their way into the next iterations of the game or not.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands truly does have a nice ring to it!  I will not lie, I enjoyed the cinematic as I always do, but it wasn’t my absolute favorite.  I think part of it was I found it too plot-advancing. For me personally, the best WoW cinematic are the ones that aren’t entirely on the nose.  They might advance the story a bit, but the bigger emphasis should be on portraying themes from the coming expansion.  

Wrath, Mists, and Legion all three stand out as particularly good examples of this.  From each, you got a sense of the tone of the coming expansion, whether it be centered on snow and zombies, exploration and the unlikely, or conflict and demons, respectively.  Yes, there was absolutely lore significance to most of the events portrayed, but they were either events players also participated in or events that were more symbolic than causal. 

While I loved the art style, as always, I didn’t feel like the Shadowlands cinematic did that for me as much.  I was watching a lore movie rather than a thematic introduction. Clearly, the events depicted within need to be communicated to the player base, but I’m not sure a cinematic was the way to do it.

Quibbles about the cinematic aside, I am very excited for the expansion itself.  When Blizzard announced that there would be no more AP, I just about wept tears of joy.  Finally! They’re listening! The game won’t be a giant grind-fest inaccessible to folks with busier lives!  I have seen so many guilds and players burn out in Battle for Azeroth directly because of the endless slog of world quests and islands and artifact power so I am so glad they recognize this fact and, rather than working to tweak the system, are completely overhauling that aspect of it.  We so desperately needed it.

The Covenant system also looks particularly interesting.  I am very excited to see them really lean into cosmetic incentives (such as the aforementioned WINGS), especially as a reward for those grindier portions of the game.  Personally, I’m super heavily biased towards towards the Kyrian, just given my paladin and her backstory, but I definitely am interested to see them all! My one concern is I hope the power-perks they give don’t just turn into a min-maxing headache for raiding, but it’s definitely too far out to pass any judgement on that particular issue. 

Torghast, the endless tower of DOOM also seems rather interesting as a concept.  I definitely will want to play this out for myself before passing judgement. As a main-spec healer, I’m likely only going to be going in with groups, which will definitely impact how often I find myself going in and experiencing the tower but if Shadowlands does truly succeed in enticing back players, many of my friends who have gone on hiatus might again be available to push levels in it.  We shall see!

Last but not least, Blizzard also announced that they would be drastically increasing the customization options available.  I have just two things to say about this.

  1. YES
  2. It’s about time!

My pipe dream would be that they add in more curly hair options for draenei so my character model can better reflect my out of game concept of my main, but I will honestly be happy with any and all customization increases.  I’m particularly excited for the changes to humans – those were so long overdue and I know how important they are for some people who haven’t been represented until now. I’m also looking forward to the addition of tattoos, hopefully we can get some scars in the mix as well!

Overwatch

While I know this is a predominantly a World of Warcraft-centered blog, I do play Overwatch and boy, do I have thoughts on the news in this arena.

Genji has pants!!!

Also, Overwatch 2 or something.

But in all seriousness, I am so super stoked!  I have wanted story-mode Overwatch ever since the game’s inception, both because I think the world is deeply fascinating and because I’m so terrible at PvP.  The proposed PvE mode gives me the chance to be bad and not be bringing down a team – at least, as much as before – as well as dive into the lore far more than before.  Additionally, the new character models are pretty awesome (shout out to my boy Lucio)!

All in all, the Blizzcon announcements were exciting and positive-leaning in my mind!  There’s something so electric about sitting in the rooms as things are being announced, so I’m doubly happy that I was able to attend a Blizzcon where so many games I cared about had so many major changes.  I know I’ve got a pretty long while to wait before any of the things I discussed above make it into their respective games, but I am more than willing to wait and allow the game developers to fine-tune everything to be as close to perfect as possible.  And just please, keep true to the “No AP” promise!

Blizzcon is My Kind of Home

The walk up to the convention center!

As I sat on the plane flying away from California, I was struck by just how absolutely wonderful my last couple days were.  Blizzcon 2019 was, frankly put, perfect.  Now, that’s not to say that the experience was without its bumps.  I think I got about half as much asleep as I usually do (and I’m not usually the best about sleeping!) and I had my wallet stolen on the second day.  But even with all of that, I have no regrets.

I think J. Allen Brack said it best in the opening ceremony when he said that Blizzcon is about people.  Totally, there are the announcements and the championships and the game demo stations. Absolutely, there are the considerations about Blizzard’s recent corporate actions.  But at the end of the day, the community itself is the true draw.

This year, as opposed to the last time I attended, I spent the majority of the time with my friends rather than family.  My guild rented a house together not far from the convention center, and we were able to walk back and forth very easily. Not all of our members got tickets to the con so we always had folks at the house watching the coverage on a virtual stream.  The end result was we had a veritable fortress of nerdom where folks were constantly hanging out.

Speaking of guildies, I, at first, was so incredibly nervous about meeting my guildies in person.  Sure, I’ve played games – both World of Warcraft and others – with them for a good long time now, enough that we have a plethora of in-jokes and shared experience.  However, there is certainly a difference between knowing a person virtually and knowing a person in the flesh. I was anxious that there would be residual awkwardness or, worse, that I would be unbearably annoying to everyone in person.  There’s something to be said about the fact that internet friends can be muted temporarily if you just need a brain break.

Unsurprisingly to everyone except for me, my fear were completely unfounded.  Even though I’d never met any of my guildies in person before, we instantly clicked together like a family. We joked about Sleepy being a giant, Weare T-posing, and Dame and Jules being memelords and it just felt so natural.  Heck, my guildies even brought me a grilled cheese sandwich when they came to pick me up (which was both a sweet gesture after a very long flight and a devious inside joke).  What was even better, I got a chance to get a lot closer to guildies I didn’t know as well prior to the convention (shout out to Mason and Niz!). Everyone was so incredibly funny and open and, most importantly, dedicated to each other.

Outside of my current guildies, I also got to connect with a number of old guildies and other community friends!  The Con Before The Storm party in particular was a perfect venue for me to speak to some of my artist friends (and totally gush in person about their artwork).  Shout out to Quel in particular, everyone should go read their webcomic! I also met up with some Perky Pugs folks for the first time which was incredibly awesome! So many names that previously had just existed on my Twitter feed or in my Discord servers were transformed into faces. I would go through them all if I could but there were almost too many to list off!

Inside the Darkmoon Faire area

As much as having my wallet stolen on the last day did suck, there were also silver-linings to it.  For one, I lost it at the end of the second day, so I wasn’t stressing about it until the very end of my trip.  However, the thing that truly humbled me was the outpouring of support I got from my guildies and friends. Immediately, I had multiple people offering to help in any way they could, whether that be checking in with Lost And Found, running back to the panel we had just come from, or offering financial support to help me get back home (since I had no money for food in the airport).  Shout out in particular to Weare, Mason, Shaedriana, Pug, and Dame, you folks are all absolute heroes. I cannot accurately put into words how much that meant to me, and I hope I can one day be there for you in the same way.

Blizzcon was so incredibly special. I had been expecting the convention to be fun (why else would I spend all that money?) but what I hadn’t been anticipating was just how… I suppose mending is the best way to describe the experience. Even though it was an action-packed couple of days, I feel invigorated and recharged.

The moment that truly captured it all for me was a simple one for me.  I was standing in line for the Overwatch demo with a guildie and everyone in the line had their heads cranked up to see the Overwatch World Cup match being played on the screen above us.  This part of the convention floor had fallen silent, all breaths held to see if the United States would be able to eke out the win from the prior champions South Korea. With a decisive combo, the American team took out the South Korean supports and then their key damage player.  The rest of the defense crumbled and a roar washed over the crowd. The words “United States Victory” flashed across the screen amid the cheers.

When this happened, I took a step back.  Surveyed the crowd. Experienced the moment as an observer rather than a participant.  What I saw made me break into the widest smile.

I loved that moment.  The nerdiness. The triumphant victory.  The uncomplicated happiness. Video games aren’t always that happy and that unifying but in that moment, everything was just right.  Even those supporting Team South Korea joined in that moment of cheering, for we all recognized that the game had been well-fought on each side.  And here I was, at the center of a bustling, excited, passionate convention dedicated to the community I call home. 

It was wonderful.

I truly didn’t mean to get this mushy-gushy in this post but I felt I had to write it.  Recent events, both in my life and in the greater video game community at large, have shaken a bit of my optimism and enjoyment in the gaming communities I am a part of but, at Blizzcon, I was reminded of why I fell in love in the first place.  Yes, we’re not perfect and I would never claim otherwise. But we’re still a home, and we always can, and do, strive to be better.  

Blizzcon brought me back to my gaming home.

A Blizzcon Update!

Every year, I tend to overestimate how much free time I will have at the beginning of the school year and every year, I am reminded of just how busy I become.  Anyways, long time, no write!  I promise I have actually been brainstorming articles, I’ve just have absolutely no chance to write them.  On the bright side though, I have been playing Warcraft despite my crazy schedule, so I’ve at least partly kept to my resolution from a few months earlier.

However, I didn’t just carve out the spare time to write this post to bemoan my lack of writing, I instead have a rather exciting announcement to make.

I will be attending Blizzcon this year!

Ever since Yotaan and I attended the 10th anniversary Blizzcon a couple years back, I have been saving up to return once again.  Luckily, the stars happened to align both with finances and timing and I’m heading to Anaheim once more! Unfortunately, for those of you who wanted to meet both halves of the dynamic duo, Yotaan will not be able to attend this year.  (But if you want, I do a pretty spot-on Yotaan impression, if I do say so myself).

Part of the reason I’m going is for my love of Blizzard games but another really huge portion is the people.  I cannot wait to meet all of the folks I’ve been playing games with for all these years but never actually met in person.  The first Blizzcon I attended, I did meet a few people but my shyness kept me from reaching out too much. Not this time!

Please come find me and say hi!  I promise I’m not scary in person – I’m likely way too tiny a person for that – and I’d absolutely love to meet some of the folks who drop by this little corner of the internet.  I’m getting in on Wednesday night, so any point Thursday to Saturday, I’ll be wandering around the convention. My Twitter is probably the easiest way to get in touch with me during the event.

I’ll (try) to have some blog updates posted during the weekend itself so definitely keep your eyes peeled here if you are interested in yet another source for news (on top of the dozens upon dozens of Blizzard fan sites).  Can’t wait for the convention!

#hype

It All Alts Up

For this entire expansion, I have been a one-trick-pony.  My paladin was my only leveled and geared character, with holy being her only leveled and geared specialization.  There’s a lot of reasons for this, all of which deserve whole blog posts of their own so I won’t get into them now, but the end result is that I have been without alt up until this point in Battle for Azeroth.  As much as I love my paladin, I’m glad this is changing. 

Thanks primarily  to a little zone named Nazjatar, I have pulled my monk and my mage, two of my oldest and most favorite alts, out of obscurity.  It took about a week of work – world quests, dailies, and even a few Timewalking dungeons – but I’m now a good chunk of the way towards actually being able to bring them into endgame content.  Both started at around ilvl 290, outfitted purely in questing greens. I managed to push up my monk to ilvl 394 and my mage is only a few points behind at ilvl 391. And man, can I feel the difference.

Playing a paladin as I do, and one that can heal at that, I tend to throw myself around pretty recklessly in-game.  I’m definitely that person pulling every mob I need for the quest all at once and then slowly hammering them down, mostly because my plate armor allows me to do so.  I’ve got a million ways to stay alive and, regardless, stuff just plain doesn’t hit me that hard. As it turns out, that experience is not at all universal.

When I first started gearing up my monk, the very first thing I did was pull a bunch of mobs like I would on my paladin.  Big mistake. A few moments later, I was smooshed on the ground like a sad gnome pancake, wondering where I went wrong in my life.  As it turns out, both my monk and my mage are a bit more squishy than my paladin.  Actually, scratch a bit and put a lot.

At first, I was a touch irritated by just how vulnerable my alts were.  Even when I put them in the basic Benthic gear, they would easily wipe if I pulled more than two mobs.  How am I able to just zone out, listening to a podcast while I grind my quests? After a period of readjusting however, I began to get back into my rhythm.  Old survival habits returned. I still died, don’t get me wrong, but it was happening a lot less.

What was even better was that with every gear upgrade, I could clearly tell just how much more powerful I was becoming.  My spells hit harder. My health pool increased. I lived longer. I’m so used to the imperceptibly small raiding gear increases that I was completely floored by how obvious my alts’ gear increases were.  Logically, when you upgrade 100 ilvl points in one item change, you’re going to see a difference. Emotionally however, I was completely surprised.

My end goal, as always, is to be able to raid on these characters but I’ve found myself enjoying the steps towards raiding far more than I expected to.  I know exactly how many of a certain thing I need to gather or how many quests I need to complete to get an upgrade. When I do finally score that new item, it’s immediately apparent how much better it is.  No RNG, no incremental increases, just pure exponential progression.  

The next major step on the docket will be to actually start venturing into more serious group content again.  For some reason, I always have a bit of a mental hurdle here – I know the dungeons and raids on my main like the back of my hand and yet running the same content on my alt feels like unfamiliar and dangerous territory.  That being said, it’s a hurdle I’ve overcome each expansion on multiple characters, so I’m sure I can do it again. The gear grind must go on!

First Dip into the Pool

Image courtesy of WoWhead

I have a confession to make.  Due to a number of circumstances (travel and work to name a few), I actually hadn’t gotten the chance to step into the Eternal Palace yet.  Crazy right? The raid-happy paladin not entering the brand new raid? Luckily, the crisis was averted last Monday. And, since I never do things by half, I jumped into Heroic for my very first run.

Thanks to an old friend with whom I used to raid with way back in the day, I was invited to their group’s Heroic Eternal Palace progression, starting on the second boss.  I’d seen the videos of the fight and read a few guides so I thought I had a vague notion of what was going down but as soon as I zoned in and found myself floating underwater, I knew I’d jumped straight into the deep end.  Fortunately, my mythic raiding gear from last tier as well as my remarkably powerful Essence meant that I had a smoother ride. It was time for some quick learning!

The Blackwater Behemoth, the second encounter in the instance, loomed before our group. (I had missed the first fight by happenstance.)  The fight itself isn’t too bad – just some light five yard spreading, a few platform transitions, some dots, and adds that must be killed spread out throughout the encounter – but it’s got one giant peculiarity.  The third dimension.  That’s right, the entire time we’re fighting that monstrous eel, we’re swimming through water.  

First pull and I’m a total mess.  Luckily, I didn’t die until the whole group was wiping, but that’s just about the only thing I did correctly.  My healing was abysmal. I’m running the Glimmer paladin build and I couldn’t seem to figure out the boss’s hit box in order to get close enough to use my Crusader’s Strike.  It took me way longer than I’d like to admit to realize that I had to swim over and touch the glowing green cloud in order to, you know, stay alive. Each of my platform crossings were like a bad re-enactment of the jellyfish scene from Finding Nemo.  The water element really messed with my head, far more than I thought it would.

However, to my credit, whenever I make a mistake with a raid mechanic, I tend not to make it again.  I’ve often joked with my friends that the first pull, I’ll purposefully make every mistake I can in order to know how to avoid them in the future.  The Blackwater Behemoth proved that trend incredibly true. By the second pull, I had a much better handle on the 3D aspect of the fight and had jumped up from the worst healer by a large margin to actually being competitive.  I was on top of mechanics (since, after all, they were not too difficult once I got over the swimming aspect). Fussypants was back in her element. 

It took us a couple more pulls to get the beast down and in that time, I really came to enjoy the fight.  It felt different from any other raid fight in a way that was engaging and fun (unlike Hellfire Assault, blarg).  The speed buff to swimming made what could have been an aggravating aspect feel smooth and natural. And I just really loved how mobile the whole fight was.  It was a perfect introductory encounter. 

Image courtesy of Blizzard Watch

Next up, we went to face the Radiance of Azshara.  Unlike the previous boss, I actually had a very good idea of the mechanics to this boss, on account of me running the Eye of Azshara dungeon in Legion far too many times to count.  There were a few new portions, such as the winds phase intermission and the tornado-releasing orbs but other than those, it was an eerily familiar encounter.  

I’d always thought that the fight was a bit overly hectic for a dungeon but scaled up to raid size, the Radiance of Azshara was perfect. The platform itself is larger than the dungeon version, giving players a lot more room to maneuver around in.  Our group split the raid in two which worked remarkably well to keep folks close enough to healers without bunching everyone up. The mechanics tended to fall pretty randomly across the field which might lead to some frustrating RNG in Mythic (where I’d assume more would be instantly lethal rather than just painful) but in Heroic, that just kept the fight unpredictable and exciting.  We beat down the Radiance in just two pulls.

The final boss for the evening was Lady Ashvane and boy, is that encounter a big step up in the difficulty department.  We only got a few pulls in before raid night was over but what I did get to see of the fight indicated its trickiness. The mechanics were more intricate than earlier bosses, demanding coordinated movement and space management.  However, the biggest hurdle appeared to be the DPS requirement. By our last pull, we were still only getting the boss to around 80% (granted, we were still figuring out the mechanics at that point). I suspect there’s a good deal more progression to grind out in that fight but what I saw so far seemed intriguing.

Overall, I quite enjoyed my little jaunt into the Eternal Palace!  I definitely want to see more of the bosses before I pass verdict on the raid in general, but the fights I saw perfectly scratched the raiding itch.  I’m a big fan of the mobility of the fights as well as the timing of damage, both of which compliment the holy paladin healing style. Big thanks again to Elandryia and their raid team for bringing me along!

Transmog Time: For the Alliance!

Sometimes, the coolest pieces of armor are locked behind PvP requirements, which can be a bit rough for a PvE transmog fan such as yours truly. How will I be able to collect the perfect shade of that tier recolor or those wonderfully dynamic shoulderpads? I’m pretty sure no one wants my gimpy, rarely played shaman wandering around in their arenas! Luckily, with the advent of Marks of Honor, it has become a lot easier to farm up some of those previously more difficult to acquire sets, even without stepping into instanced PvP content.

All of the following transmogs have elements of PvP sets incorporated some how. Because I mostly play on the Alliance-side, I’ve started off with the Alliance-locked sets (but I promise, I’ll create a Horde equivalent eventually)! Some of the sets are class-locked but most of them are available for any user of that armor type. Additionally, many of the items have numerous gear look-alikes, so do take a peek at the WoWhead links. Enjoy!

Cool Justice

Recently, I’ve become a huge fan of the armor in WoW that borders on actually potentially realistic. Legion was perfect for this as it introduced a bunch of new model bases that look closer to what actual plate might appear like. This set is an ode to that bulkier plate look, with more subtle tones than the traditional Paladin gold.

(Apologies to Death Knights and Warriors, this is the only class-locked transmog set of the bunch!)

Electric Soldier

For this look, I was going for a more classic Alliance color scheme – blue and gold. However, I wanted a look that would suit a more elite member of the Stormwind Army perhaps (or maybe just a really patriotic mail-user). Additionally, I’m just a huge sucker for shoulders with electric elements, so I had to throw that in as well!

Windstep Traveler

Simple can sometimes be best. Inspired by the minimalistic look of the Monk PvP Wild Gladiator set, I wanted to go for a transmog with strong accent pieces offset by coordinating colors. The Alliance colors are most subtle here but it’s nonetheless constructed of the familiar blue and gold palette, albeit with a splash of red. This set is, excluding the gloves (which you can actually turn off with the changes to transmogrification!) is open to any leather user.

Seafaring Oracle

This was the outfit that inspired the article!

The only thing of value in the Trial of Valor, at least in my opinion, were the super unique transmog sets for each armor type. The cloth one, in particular, is one of my favorite sets of robes in the game! However, the original complete set includes absolutely enormous shoulders and helmet which overshadow the crisp design of the rest of the set. I paired them instead with some Battle for Azeroth cloth PvP pieces and found that the colors matched perfectly.

That should just about wrap us up for this installment of Transmog Time! I’m hoping to throw together some Horde sets for you guys soon, although I myself will likely never transmog them in-game, haha!

Overthinking It: Bread and Circuses

Welcome to Overthinking It – a column where Fussypants delves entirely too deep into something not nearly as nuanced as she’s interpreting it to be!  What follows is undoubtedly a fine collection of speculation, assumptions, and general tin-foil hattery. Today, we tackle a divisive subject: the potential impetus behind the current Battle for Azeroth expansion.

Why are the Horde and Alliance fighting once more?  This seems to be one of the quintessential questions of the current expansion – after all the destruction suffered in the string of past expansions, one would think that the collective peoples of Azeroth would like to just sit down and take a break for a moment.  But instead, we’re up and at it again, waging major campaigns against densely populated cities like there’s no tomorrow. And, with the state the planet itself is in, there may very well be no tomorrow.

There’s a lot of possible answers to this question of ‘why’.  According to Blizzard, it’s due to deeply ingrained animosity mixed with the advent of Azerite.  Talk to Blizzard detractors and it’s because the company has “lost all it’s creative juices and just keeps rehashing the same ol’ garbage for the fanbois to lap up” (no, I’m not a particular fan of this explanation).  Ask Taran Zhu and it’s because the leaves fall. Or something like that. I don’t particularly love any of these answers. So, I’m going to logic out my own.

Why are the Horde and Alliance fighting in Battle for Azeroth? One word answer: Food.

When questing through Kul’Tiras for the first time, I stumbled upon a most interesting grey item.  The Old Sailor’s Almanac wasn’t the most lucrative piece of vendor trash, worth only about 5 gold, but the riches it had were in words instead.  The flavor text of the item read “Decades of meticulous notes about the weather, tides, and navigation rendered useless by the Cataclysm.” The first time I saw this, I chuckled at the obvious surface humor.  Haha, obsolescence, amirite? But then I began to think deeper. This almanac hinted at a more serious problem than I first imagined.  

We all know about Deathwing’s rampages across Azeroth, whether we were burned directly or we quested through the altered zones.  The Barrens rendered in two. Hyjal burning. The Wetlands somehow even more wet. The Insane Earthwarden wreaked immense damage on the physical features of the world but, apparently, he also did a number on the physical cycles.  Wind patterns, ocean currents, temperatures, rainfall.  This last item is key.

In a world such as Azeroth, just as is the case in our real world, farmers, ranchers, hunters and gatherers of every kind rely on the steady and predictable cycles of nature in order to produce food.  We plant corn in the spring and apple trees in the fall. We grow barley up north and rice down south. We tend to our animals based off their rhythms, which are in turn driven by nature. Any massive disruption in these cycles can cause a cascading effect of food production failure.  Crops fail, animals die, and people starve.

When Deathwing burst free from his lair, he didn’t just cause the Stonewall Dam to fall, he disrupted something as fundamental as the weather.  That, undoubtedly, resulted in droughts and flooding which would drastically alter how everyone on Azeroth eats. Even if this effect is only temporary (and the evidence points to it being a permanent shift), a change this big would have a ripple effect outwards. 

Now, you might be saying something along the lines of “Deathwing might have ruined some farmland but he probably also created new fertile areas, right?”  You probably are correct in this assumption, but if anything, this makes the problem even worse.  Firstly, there is an issue of infrastructure.  Regions that, traditionally, have been farming hubs typically have a lot of processes built up over time that aid in that – roads, irrigation systems, the like.  These new fertile regions won’t have these things built up, which means that even though food production potential is there, it’s going to take a hot second before farmers can move in, settle, and access that.

However, there’s an even more pressing issue – much of Azeroth is contested territory.  The Horde and Alliance claim only nominal control over these regions, and they’re often pressed right up against territory of the enemy faction.  It’s a patchwork of blue and red out there and now each side is trying to consolidate.

In a way, this problem is similar to that posed by the appearance of Azerite.  We’re talking about valuable resources which have popped up in unexpected, isolated, or contested areas, which will obviously resort in a massive scramble to gather and hold.  However, there’s a critical difference between Azerite and arable farmland. Azerite is a strong military advantage. It helps immensely in warfare and could give one side the edge in battle over the other.  Arable farmland however, is vital.  If there is no food then there is no army, no matter how strong their weaponry is.  What’s more, this extends far past just the battlefield; this impacts almost every single aspect of life for every single individual of your faction.  Everyone eats after all (except maybe the Forsaken, so they’ve got a leg up here I suppose).

Image courtesy of Reddit

Let’s break this down even further.  Pretend you’re Anduin Wrynn, King of Stormwind and leader of the Alliance.  You’ve very recently assumed the throne over a very large and very diverse confederation and you want to do everything you can to ensure your people are contented with your reign.  You know the price of unrest – your mother’s death can attest to that – and you also have a pretty good idea of what causes the kind of unrest that leads your people into rebellion.  On the surface, money. People want to be able to support their families and not be thrown into abject poverty. But even simpler than that, food. People want to eat. It’s not from your universe but you’re likely familiar with the idea behind the phrase “bread and circuses”.  Bread in particular in this case.

Speaking of bread, you’re very worried about this commodity.  Westfall, the breadbasket of Stormwind, your capital city, has been suffering from drought-like conditions pretty much ever since the Cataclysm.  That’s been a lot of years now, so you’ve likely worked through much of your grain stores in the interim. Now that you’ve finally finished up fighting off the Burning Legion, this has become the most pressing issue on your agenda.  You need a new breadbasket, and fast.  

Unfortunately, so does the Horde.  While their Forsaken members may not need to eat as much, or even at all, the other citizens of the Horde definitely do.  If you’re Sylvanas Windrunner and you’re already having problems with unrest, you certainly don’t want to add to that fire by adding in a famine.  A few individual leaders dissenting is one thing, but every member of the Horde outside of your specific faction?  That’s just the kind of thing that took Garrosh Hellscream down.

Let’s say, in this scenario, there are a few WoW zones that become particularly fertile regions.  These are zones with plentiful resources. Zones with lots of good soil and water. Zones without major polluting influences like the Scourge or the Legion.  Zones adjacent to major transportation hubs. Let’s choose, for example, Darkshore and Arathi Highlands. And gee, wouldn’t you know, these two zones are already warfronts!

Some of you might be asking, where exactly does the Azerite fit in with all of it?  The resource is too important a factor to be a complete non-issue in the considerations of the Horde and Alliance.  I would generally agree with you. You remember how earlier I mentioned the idea of bread and circuses?  Azerite is our circus, folks.

Think about it this way.  The armies of the Horde and Alliance are gearing up for a big war for arable land and they need a new recruitment drive.  They previously just used the classic “Enlist to protect your families!” with the whole Burning Legion thing and now they need a new angle.  Unfortunately, while food is an important part of a happy populace, it doesn’t make as good as a motivating cry unless your people are already starving (and there’s been little evidence I could find which points to that being the case).  If you offer food as the reason people should go to war and lay down their lives, they’re going to scoff at you and walk away.  It just doesn’t seem that dire yet, even if it is. Your citizens see their own personal little picture, not the overarching big one.

What you need is something more dangerous, more exciting, and more explosive.  You need a new threat which merits response even when people are tired and war weary.  Enter Azerite.  A glittery material literally oozing from the world’s pore (enjoy this imagery) with the potential to save your life or end it.  And look, the enemy might get it first!  Now that’s a good recruitment pitch.  That’s a good circus.

While the Horde and Alliance may have their official rhetoric about the volatile new threat of Azerite, the mineral merely acts as a reason to go to war rather than the underlying cause.  The Horde and Alliance fight because of food.  The two factions battle it out because they need reliable breadbaskets to feed their people if they hope to do anything in the future, and that anything even includes eventually making peace.  Both sides are vulnerable right now, and in that vulnerability, they’re frantically scrambling for basic resources.  The current war may be complicated, with dozens of moving parts and conflicting players but the motivating factor is quite simple.  Folks need to eat. 

Or, ya know, maybe I’m just adding way too much realism to my video games.  But hey, it’s a fun thought experiment!