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World of Warcraft Miniatures Game - Review

by Eldorian

I’m in many ways a collector at heart. I grew up in the 80’s collecting baseball cards, I had books lined with Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Ryne Sandberg, and George Brett cards. I collected sports memorabilia back then – anywhere from sports cards, to autograph pictures, to those Starter Line Up sports action figures.

When I hit high school the rage of my collection turned to Magic: The Gathering. My gaming addictions were in full force at this point and Wizards of the Coast had found a way to combine gaming with collecting and the Collectible Card Games were born. Now I had books lined with full sets of the latest MTG blocks.

I’m nearly 30 at this point, and my collecting addiction nor my gaming addictions have died down at all. Four years ago this upcoming Sunday Blizzard (one of my favorite developers) released their new MMO – and I was immediately hooked – and still am. My gaming addiction found a new friend – however, what happened next I was not expecting.

Blizzard figured out they could license their product to other companies that make collectibles. Needless to say, my wallet hasn’t looked thinner in years. First came the WoW TCG, then the action figures by DC comics, then the comic books, and released this week was the miniature game. I own all of these products (and then some – I’m not including the prints, shirts, calendars, etc. I own). I’ve never been a big fan of miniature games in general so with reading this review you should understand where I’m coming from as far as a reviewer.

First the important things – I bought a case of the minis. There are 16 boosters in a case. 3 minis in a booster, so you’ll receive 48 minis overall, which is short of the 66 minis in a complete set. The insert rate for the epic minis (the most rare) are 1 in every 8 boosters – so you should be receiving 2 epic minis per case. There are 8 total epic figures. Each figure also comes with a character sheet card and 2 ability/spell cards. Also in each booster are 2 cards you receive from the trading card game, 1 UDE point card and either a Drums of War promo card (there’s 2 different ones you can get) or a chance at a Drums of War loot card (including the coveted Red Bearon mount card).

In the case that I bought I received 2 epics – War chief Thrall and Ras Frostwhisper. I also received SIX loot cards, yes you read that right. The loot cards I received were 4 of the Shadowdance loot card and 2 of the Red Bearon Mount card (which sells for about $150-$250 on ebay). I quickly put up the mount loot cards on ebay and bought another case of minis (it paid for the case I had bought by itself and then some).

In the 2nd case I got 2 more epics (unfortunately the same ones as the first case) and SEVEN more loot cards. The insert rate on the loot cards per booster pack seems insanely high and seems like a good investment for those who are wanting loot cards. I quickly put up my loot cards again on ebay and they successfully paid for a 3rd case of minis that I am awaiting for in the mail.

If you’re looking to buy a lot of minis then I definitely suggest you check out buying them in bulk either from online retailers or your local gaming shop. Chances are they will sell them to you at a discount price (for example I was able to buy my cases for $130 which comes to about $8 per booster instead of the $15 per you buy them for individually). In the 2 cases I’ve bought so far I am still missing 16 total figures including 4 of the epic figures in order to complete the full set.

Now as far as the game play aspect you have to remember I’m not a big fan of miniature games, I like to collect them but I don’t play the game itself much. I did have a chance to play the demo at PAX earlier this year and it plays a lot like a pvp match in WoW. Each character has certain points and certain spells and abilities – and each ability has a type of cool down really. You try to gain as many victory points as you can and you gain those by holding the victory points at certain turns and killing your opponent. Whoever gets to the predetermined amount of victory points first wins.

The game to me isn’t all that exciting to be honest, but I can see where it might be for those who enjoy these kinds of games. I think having more than 2 available maps to play on will make the game more exciting.

The figures themselves are beautiful though, and any collecting World of Warcraft fanatic would love them. The added bonus of the exceptionally high insert rate of loot cards could mean that unless you buy these soon, you might be out of luck. I’m already having a hard time finding them now as they’re almost sold out everywhere.

This review was written by Eldorian. He was staff member of Stratics. You can find him at his blog: http://shamantastic.com

Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition


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I just received a special gift from Richard A. Knaak and Susan Hale (Tokyopop Director of Public Relations). Many thanks to both of you. This is a priceless gift. I had no idea this Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition would be so cool. I already have the trilogy as stand alone manga books. However, this Ultimate Edition blew my mind.

First off, when the UPS package arrived I was wondering if this would be the Manga or something else. It was so flipping heavy. Once I opened the package, I saw this huge book of 592 pages, approximately 7.5” width x 11” height. Sturdy and thick Hardcover, rock solid with a new front cover artwork by Jae-Hwan Kim. This Ultimate Edition will last many years to come with such solid materials. Sadly, the Manga is still black and white.

So what’s different. Why not just pick up the three smaller stand alone Manga books? Well, get a napkin to contain the excessive drooling.

1. An eight-page, full-color prologue written by Richard A. Knaak and illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim, not available in the three original volumes, featuring the story of the arrival of Dath’Remar Sunstrider and the highborne to the place they would name Quel’Thalas. The use of the Vial of the Well of Eternity to create the Sunwell. How they rose from scratch the spires of High Elven architecture from nothingness just by commanding the arcane magics of the Sunwell. The artwork matches perfectly the in-game architecture shown in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade.

2. An afterword letter from Chris Metzen – Blizzard Vice-President of Creative Development

3. Artist’s sketchbook: behind-the-scenes development art by Jae-Hwan Kim: Anveena, Jorad Mace, Tyrygosa, Sylvanas, Kalecgos, and Groth.

4. Alternate Cover and concept sketches.

5. Color art gallery including covers to all three original volumes, including the alternate cover from the KAPLAN edition and an alternate colored cover with Tyrygosa.

6. A full-color unbound Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition pin-up suitable for framing.

7. An Upper Deck World of Warcraft trading card illustrated by Jae-Hwan Kim, titled: Leader of the Bloodscale Rajis Fyashe. Not only you get the card, you get a full-page big-size copy of the card within the Ultimate Edition.

The Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Ultimate Edition is a very good choice for a special Christmas Gift for your Warcraft lore addict loved one: be it your son, daughter, wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend; or a nice gift for someone you know is a Western manga fan. The standalone Warcraft Manga books have been reprinted a few times, after sold out. Grab this special bonus collection.

Reading Chris Metzen’s letter made me wonder if we were twins separated at birth. Except I am roughly a year or two older. He leaks out so much passion for the Warcraft universe. Some times I wish I was working at Blizzard as a Quest Designer.

To boot the upcoming 2008 Warcraft Manga based on Burning Crusade is finally titled. Seems like ages since Knaak revealed to me a Burning Crusade-inspired manga was coming. It was merely in conversation stage between Metzen and Knaak. Not official or guaranteed back then. Now it is titled and aiming a 2008 release.

Knaak recently revealed some details of the upcoming Burning Crusade manga and the new novel in our recent video interview, hosted by Kazo and Rafo at the Istrocon manga expo in Slovakia.

Want more warcraft? Then don’t miss the new trilogy debuting in 2008 from Richard A. Knaak and Jae-Hwan Kim!

WARCRAFT MANGA: DRAGONS OF OUTLAND

Tyrygosa and Jorad Mace may have triumphed over the undead in their quest for the Sunwell, but can even this dauntless duo survive a ruined dimension populated by dragons that should not exist?

Read Chris Metzen’s letter below …

World of Warcraft - The Battle For Azeroth—Review

Fans are used to find World of Warcraft and Warcraft related products on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Some book products are licensed by Blizzard Entertainment to White Wolf Publishing—who develop Warcraft RPG Books; Simons and Schuster (Pocketbooks) who publishes Warcraft books written by known D&D writers such as Richard A. Knaak, Jeff Grubb or Star Trek writers Christie Golden and Keith R.A. DeCandido; and Tokyopop who developed the Warcraft Manga. All those licensed books are canon lore—with direct participation of Chris Metzen, Creative Director of Blizzard Entertainment.

However, The Battle of Azeroth book itched my curiousity since I first found it listed in Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The question came upon my mind instantly. Is this sanctioned or licensed by Blizzard? I had not seen any press release confirming so. The only description I had was the publisher note available at Barnes and Noble:

FROM THE PUBLISHER
“Aimed at dedicated fans of the role playing game World of Warcraft, this dynamic collection of essays explores the undying fascination with a game that is a welcome escape from reality for millions of people around the world. Gaming experts, developers, and bestselling sci-fi authors examine the overwhelming success of the game and the underlying motivations for gamers to spend, on average, the time equivalent to working a part-time job battling in the world of Azeroth, and address issues ranging from economics and psychology to addiction and game ethics. The outstanding design of the game and the histories of several main characters are also discussed. “

The book is not endorsed nor licensed by Blizzard Entertainment, which means Chris Metzen—Blizzard Entertainment Creative Director, or simply known as the Warcraft Lore creator—is not involved in the project. This is the disclaimer offered by the book in its publisher page:

This publication has not been prepared, approved or licensed by any entity that created or produced the well-known video-game World of Warcraft.

Recently, I received my proof copy of The Battle for Azeroth: Adventure, Alliance and Addiction in the World of Warcraft for review. This way I could wrap my brain around its content to let fans know what the book is about in advance, to rise hype, awareness, and enthusiasm; or to warn you of its content in case you get misled expecting a lore source, quests analysis or strategy guide.  This is not a Brady Games or Allakhazam.com nor a Richard A. Knaak novel type of book.  The Battle for Azeroth will be published this Summer – on July 2006 – by BenBella Books; and it was edited by Bill Fawcett. So I browsed through the table of content and decided to read the book to find out what it is about. At first, before getting my review copy I thought this was a book written by an Everquest hardcore player that fell in love of World of Warcraft and wanted to get some cash by writing an Unofficial Strategy guide. However, as I started reading through the manuscript proof I found out the book is actually written by various professional authors. And not just any wannabe. To simplify what The Battle for Azeroth is about, in a nutshell, it is an in-depth analysis of what has made World of Warcraft successful and a phenomena—from the point of view of Mass media writers, video makers, Advertising Managers, Public Relations Directors and other professionals—who were gathered by BenBella Books and Bill Fawcett to write sections of The Battle for Azeroth. Now … that makes this book a tidbit more attractive and appealing. What do the game industry and media gurus think about World of Warcraft? That’s The Battle for Azeroth book all about.

Elegant Game Design or Fishing for those Missing Hours

This section was written by Scott Cuthbertson, detailing what makes World of Warcraft compelling to players in America, Europe and Asia. From quests to tradeskills. When I reached the final page of this section, I was surprised to find out the wide expertise of the author:

Scott Cuthbertson – video game producer and writer since 1990 who has worked for Nintendo, AOL, Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. He founded Northlake Studios, LLC in Los Angeles. Specialist on writing and design for games, film, television and graphic novels.

Hardly a wannabe, eh? I wish I had a quarter of that experience. Actually, it now makes sense how he knew enough about Blizzard and its parent Vivendi Universal.

The book starts off describing the massive popularity of World of Warcraft, and the force behind its success: the game developers, publishers, and distributors. And the interaction, and relationship between Blizzard and its parent Vivendi. It was a good analysis to read, especially the TCQ triangle analogy: Quality, Time and Cost—reference from Business School, to explain the intricacies within Blizzard’s mantra: “We won’t ship the game until it meets our quality standards”.

It is not usual to see a developer-publisher relationship in which the developer is given freedom to develop a game without a deadline. Far more astonishing is to see the Blizzard logo on the loading screen of games with no mention of Vivendi/Universal. Get one of those fancy games and you get smacked on the face by Microsoft and EA logos, and a series of other logos before even getting to see the game menu. That doesn’t happen with Blizzard games.

The Book author proceeds to talk about Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and his personal experience meeting the developers at E3 1994 in Las Vegas, and what makes the Warcraft franchise and World of Warcraft to be an addictive and pleasant game.

Underworld of Warcraft

This section goes on about the harm done to the in-game economy by inescrupulous gold sellers and inflation; and how Blizzard deals with this threat to the MMORPG balance. Analysis of Account Closure Notification emails issued by Blizzard, Game Master (GM) in-game whispers and procedures before suspending accounts. Description of Warden Client—the software ran by six million players worldwide when they launch World of Warcraft—which detects the use of hacks or third party software—element that has axed most of the cheating off World of Warcraft and responsible for the banning of over 10,000 accounts. The scandal of Sony BMG copy-protected CDs ( XCP) rootkits that affected the operation of Warden Client. A deep analysis and even testimony and interviews of how gold farmers and companies operate in China and Canada. This section basically explores the underworld market of cheaters, gold farmers and Blizzard’s efforts to counter them.

Some humor is introduced when the author makes references of Tristan at BlizzCon 2005, with his “Save the Murlocs” rant and references to some popular machinima movies and song samples; or Christian and religious groups in World of Warcraft realms. This section is very amusing as it tries to cover most of the underworld activity of players using the virtual world to implement real world ideals and behaviors. The author of this section is James John Bell—who has a long professional resume since 1992 from ABC News, documentary video-making, writer/director of non-profit public interest communications Sustain. His publications have been read at New York Times, Washington Post, Communication Arts and mainstream science and technology publication The Futurist. He co-founded SmartMeme (2003) and among his clients are Greenpeace, and Breast Cancer Fund.

World of Warcraft: Timesink of the gods

This section explores the rewarding, social and psychological aspects of World of Warcraft content and design. From landscape and weather to the psychology of character’s gender and race creation, to game type selection: Roleplaying, PvE, PvP. There are few references and comparisons with Doom and Civilization games. Analysis of real-life references such as Easter eggs. The psychological disassociation of mind and spirit from your real-life body as you immerse into the MMORPG, while you ignore or put on hold physical needs such as eat, drink, bathroom, responsibilities, etc.—timesink. The author of this section in Battle for Azeroth was Justina Robson—born in Leeds, Yorkshire in the north of England. She studied philosophy and linguistics before settling down to write in 1992. Her earlier novels, Silver Screen (1999), Mappa Mundi (2001), and Quantum Gravity (Book One) : Keeping It Real (2006).

LFG … And a little More

This section covers social interactions online such as flirting, cross-gender: males creating female characters, and how Blizzard adds interaction components to World of Warcraft, such as Valentine Day and other seasonal events, dance references such as Michael Jackson’s and Saturday Night Fever dance by John Travolta. Testimony samples from players interviewed by the writer. Marriages in roleplaying servers, and how roleplayers who did marry online, did marry later on in real life too.  The complexity of moral when a player separates roleplaying and real life—marrying with another player in the game, when you are married in real life; and what happens to your real life relationship when he/she finds out. Ouch! Online cheating or just roleplaying? How will your real life partner feel about it? The section also goes on on testimony of players who have divorced over exceeding time spent on games or having a secret online relationship. The section was written by Nancy Bermann—freelance writer and editor of forty video games and twenty roleplaying sourcebooks including Los Angeles by Night (Vampire: The Masquerade), Alderac Entertainment’s 7th Sea/Swashbuckling Adventures line and co-authored several novelas for Microsoft Xbox’s Crimson Skies.

Reframed Relationships: MMORPGs and Societies

Written by Mel White, a sociologist, cartoonist, artist, game and fantasy writer—takes an in-depth look at the cultures and sub-cultures of World of Warcraft; the growth of a global culture, and social circles with people that live in different countries, sharing experiences and friendships impossible to meet under ordinary circumstances. Seemless interaction between underage and adults in-game.  The author also covers the hierarchy of game developers such as coders, hardware technicians and GMs. Terms of conduct implemented in-game to force control on players. Coding mistakes that affect the gameplay such as Hakkar the Soulflayer’s popular disease who would spread outside the instance into the major cities, affecting low level players.

The Economy of the World of Warcraft

Jerry Jackson—majored in Management Science and Service Bay 12 CEO—explains what World of Warcraft economy and the real-world economy have in common. Supply and demand. And how inflation, monopoly and farmers affect the economy negatively.

Ancestors and Competitors

This section goes on to various topics. From defining words such as graphics, persistent world, massive multiplayer, Online, roleplaying game and what World of Warcraft is; to a brief history of RPG starting with Paper Games such as the founder: Dungeons & Dragons in early 70s and Chainmail. Their influences coming from the 50s with Tolkien, Gray Mouser, Elric stories, Conan the Barbarian, Three Hearts and Three Lions. If you want to learn the history of roleplaying games and MMORPGs covering Warhammer by Games Workshop, MUDs, Ultima Online, Everquest, Asheron’s Call, Dark Age of Camelot, this is the place to read it. The author is Chris McCubbin who works at the Incan Monkey God Studios (IMGS)—early 90s publication department of Origin Systems and responsible for creating game guides of all Ultimas, Wing Commanders and Everquest: The Ruins of Kurnark among others.

Maps and Mapping

James M. Ward writes about World of Warcraft’s organized maps which help you interact with the wolrd and coordinate where you are and how to get from point A to point B. A brief history of board games and Fantasy RPGs. The history of mapping since Roman times and its difference to modern maps. The importance of Map legends such as those in BradyGames World of Warcraft Strategy Guide which offer further details of where in the map you may find NPCs, quests and other relevant info. The author of this section, James Ward, created the first science fiction RPG in Metamorphosis Alpha. He has written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Bantam and game credits include licenses for Sesame Street, Dragonball Z, Marvel, DC, Wheel of Time, Indiana Jones, Conan, He-Man, Charlie Brown among many others.

This is only half the book.  Tomorrow we will publish the second part of the review which covers the following sections:

  • Should we sell World of Warcraft by Prescription Only?
  • Altaholics Not so Anonymous
  • I play like a Girl—by Nancy Bermann
  • Advice to the Wowlorn

Part II: World of Warcraft Classes

  • Paladin
  • Priest
  • Shaman
  • Druid
  • Rogue
  • Mage
  • Warrior
  • Warlock
  • Hunter

 

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