Tin Foil Hat: Battle for Azeroth

Battle for Azeroth.

All things considered, it’s a pretty great title for an expansion. It’s snappy, easily acronymed (the internet has determined, BfA it is), and vague. What are we battling for? Well, Azeroth. But does that mean actual land territory? Or maybe the titan soul within the planet itself? And who is doing the battling?

When I first saw the expansion title, fading in all slow motion and awesome-like after the cinematic, the first place my mind went was oh, this is a Horde versus Alliance expansion. And when you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Both factions are going to be spending much of their time trying to conquer the cities, zones, and continents of Azeroth. It is quite literally, a Battle for Azeroth.

But a question kept coming up.

Why?

Why now, after seeing the value of working together to defeat threats like the Legion? Why now, after learning via Magni of the dire fate that Azeroth is in? Why now, with a King on one side who favors peace and a Warchief on the other who just wants her people to be left alone?

Something doesn’t add up. While we don’t have all the story yet (the expansion is many, many months away, after all), it doesn’t make sense that the Horde would try to burn Teldrassil. It seems downright insane that the Alliance would attack Lordaeron. It seems downright insane….

One of the biggest threads left over from Legion (at this point) is the resurgence of the Old Gods. From the Shadow Priest artifact experience to the Magni questline to the entire zone of Val’sharah, it’s clear that the Deep Ones are beginning to gear up for something big. The world soul within Azeroth is vulnerable, and the Old Gods may be trying to capitalize on that weakness.

Unlike the other foes we face though, the Old Gods are never direct about anything. They don’t open portals and send armies through in endless hordes. They don’t tear free of the ground, burning all in their path. For all intents in purposes, they’re barely seen at all. Instead, Old Gods manipulate. They act behind the scenes, whispering to this person or that one to slowly but surely create chaos in their favor.

What better form of chaos is there than a global war? If all of the defenders of Azeroth, all of the people who could potentially see what the Old Gods were up to and put an end to their actions, are otherwise occupied fighting and killing one another, that gives the forces of madness plenty of breathing room to do whatever they please. No one’s eyes are on the old Titan holding facilities anymore, they’re all trained towards the enemy faction.

So, here’s my tinfoil hat theory: Battle for Azeroth has nothing to do with the conflict between the Horde and Alliance. Instead, it is the struggle between us, the heroes of the world, and the Old Gods who wish to corrupt the world soul. And, at this point, we’re losing. Badly. We don’t even see the threat.

Looking at it through another lens, the only other expansion we’ve had that, from first glance, appeared to focus predominantly on faction warfare was Mists of Pandaria. However, as we went through the campaign, we quickly learned that there was other forces involved. Specifically, the sha, remnants of a long dead Old God who were still inciting negative emotions and stirring up chaos. Mists of Pandaria taught us that using our own deep-seated hatred for one another is a classic Old God tactic. And if they used it once, they’re bound to use it again.

It took an entire expansion to fight off the effects of one dead old god (and his sha-infused orc puppet). What would happen if several, very much alive Old Gods decided to play with some emotions?

World war. We’d fight each other more viciously than we’d ever fought each other before. We’d burn down sacred places despite our own respect for them (the World Tree, while home to the Night Elves, is also revered by many other races). We’d attack the husk of a long dead city out of a vain desire to rout out the woman who runs the place. We savagely go at one another, all because someone or something is quietly dropping hints in the background.

I don’t think it’s any mistake that our “artifact” for this expansion is The Heart of Azeroth. There’s something going on at a much larger, more cosmic level than just an escalation of the faction war. While I do think it is pretty plausible that the Horde and Alliance would, when given the chance, keep fighting, the intensity at which they’ve picked up the fight seems extreme.

Azeroth is in immediate danger. The Azerite leaking out all over the place is the most visble symptom of a world soul under attack. Every moment that the Alliance and Horde spends fighting is another moment that Azeroth battles the Old Gods who would corrupt her. We refuse to listen to Magni’s warnings and our world soul only weakens further and further. It’s a race to see which will run out first: our hatred for the opposite faction or the nascent Titan’s life essence.

My prediction is that the first couple patches are going to be centered solidly around the faction warfare. We’ll fight, and fight, and fight some more. But, similarly to how we went to Argus halfway through Legion, I’m guessing that we will see a shift. Whether it be at the faction level, with both sides ceasing their battle or at the individual player level with us, the heroes of Azeroth, being pulled away from the battlefield for a much more pressing threat, I’m predicting that the focus of the expansion will shift to a more holistic scale. To a more… Old God scale.

War is never well timed. But this global conflict presented in Battle for Azeroth seems suspiciously ill-advised. The Horde and Alliance have a history of pulling together when it counts, so for us to be splintering now is downright worrying. There is something more going on.

Sk’yahf qi’magg luk sshoq anagg’qen, my friends.

Speculations about Specializations

WoWScrnShot_092015_204342Somewhat of a bomb was dropped at Dragon Con a few months ago but it seems many people did not hear about it.  To sum up what happened, Blizzard had a panel at the Con where they dropped a boatload of information about Legion.  The piece of information we want to focus on today is this (from MMO Central Event’s Live Twitter of the panel).

The overhaul of specs was to be expected as this often happens every expansion.  But the interesting piece of news was the renaming of the specs.  Currently, none of the specs in game have been renamed.

Fussypants: While I was at first a little shocked by the decision I’ve come to understand why Blizzard wants to rename specs.  As it currently stands we a good number of specs that share a name with another spec from a different class.  There are:

Frost Mages and Death Knights
Holy Paladins and Priests
Protection Paladins and Warriors
Restoration Druids and Shamans

While I know there are undoubtedly people who are super attached to the name of their spec, I am ok with changing a few so that every class has 3 unique specs.  And I would say I do have a horse in this race because I extensively play two of the specs which have two classes.

What would I like to see changed?
First and foremost, I think Holy Paladins could become Templar Paladins.  I mean, even the name sounds pretty cool! Templar.  Templar. Let lame Holy Priests keep the name ‘Holy’ (I kid, you guys aren’t lame.  But the name Holy fits your class better than it does for paladins).
Protection Paladins could become Crusader Paladins or Protection Warriors could be renamed Vanguard Warriors, since both would also fit with their themes.  I could see Frost Mages becoming Ice Mages (but I don’t know enough about Frost Death Knights to suggest a name Change).
Restoration Druids and Shamans is a harder one for me to pick a name (as I do not play that class as much as I play the others).  Spiritmender could be a cool name for Shaman Healers perhaps….

Overall, I think its a good idea to switch up the specs every expansion, names, mechanics, the lot.  Sure, some changes aren’t as successful, but some gameplay styles become so much more fun after a revamp.  It’s good for the game to keep changing so it doesn’t stagnate and decline.  Also, I really want Templar Pallies now.  Templaaaaaaaar.

Yotaan:
Now, Blizzard is trying to differentiate the specs more to fit the fantasy tropes they represent.  Some are I little less straightforward than others.  Some are vague and greatly changed from their original name.  Enhancement shaman come to mind instantly.  They are clearing the melee spec of the shaman class, but how can one name them…  A review of the class shaman faction doesn’t help.  The only option is “Earthfury” which doesn’t make much sense.   A Windfury shaman is a possibility, but limiting the name to one single spell doesn’t really fly.  I do like keeping Elemental the same name, it does fit the class and theme.  I also like Fussypant’s suggestion of Spiritmender.
Rogues could use a change.  Assassination is perfect and Subtlety I do think works.   Combat is nonspecific and could use a change.  Assassination  uses poisons to kill.  Subtlety bursts out of the darkness in an overwhelming attack.  Combat fights?  I suggest Blizzard embraces the “pirate” theme – the swashbuckling fencing master.  There are lots of choices there and the best is Privateer (the paid pirate mercenary.)
Warriors need a rework, but it’s not complicated.  Fury stays fury, as its the icon of the bloodthirsty berserker.  Arms would become Armsmaster, the ultimate weapon master.  Protection would be Vanguard.  There we go, (brushes off hands.)

What spec names would you guys like to see changed?

Next Expansion: Make it Brony

Photoshopped by the marvelous Scott Leyes

Photoshopped by the marvelous Scott Leyes

Yotaan brought up the topic of the next WoW expansion the other day.  Unfortunately, he brought it up over the dinner table, so the whole family got involved.  Including the members of the household who had no idea what Warcraft was, let alone what a new expansion would entail.

Yotaan started off by saying that he and I should post our speculation before the info drops on Thursday.  But before we could get anywhere with that speculation, my mom butted in.
“Brony.  It should be brony,” she said in the matter of fact way that only my mother can. “No wait wait wait, it should be that terrible dinosaur sitcom from the 90’s.  You know, the one where the actors dressed up in dinosaur suits and it looked horrendous.”

My father laughed out loud, and piled on that the next expansion should be Jane Austen to get more women in the story as they make their way through Elizabethan age life.  Pride and Paladin, my mother added.

But it got better.  My mom, having another flash of inspiration shouted “No! I know what it should be! Sex in the City! All the women will sit around discussing women things like their periods and men.  And all the guys will be gay but the women won’t be, so it will create weird tensions.” And even I have to admit, it’d be pretty funny to see hulking brawny orcs sitting around discussing their feelings.

Not one to be left out of the fun, my little sister joined in with ‘Unicorns! The next expansion should be unicorns! There will be unicorns running around and you have to do quests to free them and get meat.  And the unicorns only turn purple after they’ve been with humans!”

And we all agreed that she had the most fleshed out expansion idea of them all.

However, Yotaan and I still needed to write out our expansion predictions.  I sat down and did some good hard thinking.  Unlike the rest of my family, I was going to come up with a legitimate and plausible expansion idea.

The way I saw it, there were two options.  The first and more obvious one would be some sort of demon expansion.  With the lead up of Hellfire Citadel, a return of the Burning Legion made the most sense.   I foresaw some sort of invasion, either on our part or on the demon’s parts.  But the second expansion option is what I would prefer to see.

We return to Azeroth after the Draenor campaign to find that the Naga have been acting up again.  Racing to the oceans, we embark on a South Seas Expansion filled with Naga, pirates, forgotten islands, and more.  Eventually we discover that the Naga have been in contact with the Burning Legion (again) and are once more trying to bring them to Azeroth.  Neptulon plays a part so we finally get that thread wrapped up.

This is the expansion that I would really want to see.  I’ve always thought that the Naga make a great and chilling enemy and I really want there to be more pirates in WoW.  Also, the idea of islands instead of a single continent could be an interesting new take (provided there is fast travel between islands).  And we also are wrapping up tons of plot threads as well as smoothly transitioning from WoD.  It could be perfect!

My father (unfortunately) was way less… conscientious… about his expansion idea.

Yotaan: The heroes return to Azeroth after being away in Draenor battling orcs and demons only to find Disaster has struck!

All the major cities and towns are overrun with zombies (queue zombie invasion from Wrath)  How could this be?  We defeated the Lich King! Bolvar still sits on the throne…

But an old nemesis has risen again – Deathwing!  Now he’s a zombie and he is seeking (again) to destroy the world.  This time, he will crush all civilization first with the zombies under his control.

As if this is not horrifying enough, there is more…  Who is behind all of this?  How did Deathwing become a zombie to terrorize us again?

Oh no!

Its Gul’dan!!!!!

He’s at it again!

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We shall see who’s right come tomorrow!