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Blizzplanet Interview – World of Warcraft: War Crimes by Christie Golden

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Blizzplanet had the great opportunity to chat via Skype with both New York Times best selling authors, Christie Golden and Micky Neilson (Blizzard publishing lead) to discuss details of World of Warcraft: War Crimes. This interview might have a few spoilers. …read more

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Azeroth’s Away Team: Familiar Horde Faces in Draenor

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Articles, Lore, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

A few weeks ago we looked at some of the characters who would be traveling through the Dark Portal and into this alternate Draenor on the Alliance side.

Before hitting the jump to see them, note that is all alpha information and is highly subject to change. It’s also datamined, which means this could be left over data from already scrapped content. In other words, this is what appears to be correct at the time, but take it with a grain of salt just in case.

NPC Facelift in Warlords of Draenor

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

One of the most exciting, yet overlooked, aspects of Warlords of Draenor is that the new character models will also be applied to npcs. This will give Azeroth a facelift even Cataclysm could not offer. Unfortunately, with the alpha still employees only; we had no way to see how our favorite NPCs would look with the new models, until now. Thanks to Wowhead‘s model viewer, any NPCs using finished models (male and female orc, gnome, dwarf and male tauren) can be viewed in their brand new WoD glory. I’ve put together a sampling of 12 iconic NPCs (who at least two of which will play large roles in Warlords of Draenor.

First off, some notes:
-The new foot design with separately modeled toes hasn’t been accounted for by Wowhead’s model viewer yet, so ignore that all the characters appear to be wearing extremely tight socks instead of boots. This should be fixed in-game.
-Moira Thaurissan and Gelbin Mekkatorque should be on this list, but both of their models are glitched (in Moira’s case, terrifyingly so) at the moment.
-Tauren males in general seem to be glitched. Dezco is a notable exception.
-For reasons unknown, Aggra is using a new female fel orc skin. Her appropriate Mag’har skin is being used by Dragonmaw orcs right now.
-If your favorite NPC isn’t here, you can search literally every character currently in the game on Wowhead’s model viewer.

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Expect more looks into the NPC facelift in the future as more models are datamined and glitches are cleared up with current ones.

Azeroth’s Away Team: Familiar Alliance Faces in Draenor

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

The recent datamining of the Warlords of Draenor alpha by MMO-Champion has revealed much about the upcoming expansion’s story. We’ve known from its announcement that, similar to MoP, our characters will journey into Draenor with an elite team of heroes from their respective factions, but now it has been revealed precisely who will accompany us. While we’ll be seeing plenty of characters from Warcraft’s lore on Draenor, these are the familiar faces from Azeroth. For this first article, we’ll look at the Alliance expedition.

Before hitting the jump to see them, note that is all alpha information and is highly subject to change. It’s also datamined, which means this could be left over data from already scrapped content. In other words, this is what appears to be correct at the time, but take it with a grain of salt just in case.

Warlords of Draenor PvE and PvP Changes Part 1: Gear Changes

Written by Montoya on . Posted in BlizzCon 2013, BlizzPlanet Articles, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

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Now that I’ve gotten home from one epic Blizzcon, let’s go over some substantial changes coming to raiding in 6.0!

Spec is everything:

One of the biggest announcements for Warlords was that armor pieces will now change stats according to spec.  Plate is plate, mail is mail, leather is leather, cloth is cloth.  Here’s an example:  I have a Pandaren monk who starting 6.0 will have leather with agility stats in my Windwalker spec.  If I change to my other spec, Mistweaver, it will change agility into intellect the moment the spec cast bar completes!  Same goes for Brewmaster, which would shift to armor emphasis as a tanking stat.  This change also includes Tier bonuses for each spec as well!  What impact does this have on WoW?  It means a few things:  raids will gear up faster, with no more hunter mail drops that an elemental shaman can’t use for their primary spec.  A cat druid will no longer skip on intellect gear, its leather armor pieces will change stats for all roles!  There will still be non-armor gear (such as trinkets) that will be role specific, but as a whole this will be a very welcome change to how gear works.  My Ret Paladin can actually consider tanking without being in tanking armor that is more suitable for two or three raid tiers prior.  Alternate PvE specs will likely get a lot more use now that players can try out new roles on a more competitive ilvl.  Imagine having your 4 piece set bonus and switching to Prot!  This change will also apply to PvP, which is a welcome change for many classes.

Speaking of PvP, a very welcome change is coming that will have people using the same Arena gear.  No longer will you struggle in rated Arenas while you earn enough Conquest points to become competitive.  Along with the resilience changes in Mists of Pandaria, this poises PvP to be skill based.  Do you prefer flexing your PvP gear muscles in the outside world?  That gear is still available for purchase, but will not function in ranked games.

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You may be wondering, what about gems and enchants?  They are on almost every piece of gear!  You know what is on every piece of gear?  Reforging!  So much gold and bag space for switching specs.  Fear not, for Blizzard has taken steps to make sure these obstacles are minimal:

1)      Reforging:  Removed!  Blizzard felt it was too much of a penalty without enough fun to it.  It caused people to hesitate on gear, fearing the cascade effect that so many of us are familiar with.

2)      Gems:  Less items will have gems, but they will increase in potency.  I like this change because it makes gems feel special and more manageable for switching specs.

3)      Enchants:  These have also been reduced, which will make us feel them more as well as make gear less expensive to play with different specs.

4)      What about Jewelcrafters’ and Enchanters’ pocketbooks?  Blizzard stated that they will be creating new ways for them to make money, minimizing the economic impact for those professions.

A couple of other things.  As I mentioned above about Brewmaster, armor will now be the primary tanking stat as Blizzard really likes active mitigation going forward.  Hit, and expertise will no longer be a factor as they have been removed!  The sigh of relief in the room when this was announced was universal.  It appears that Blizzard’s philosophy for this expansion is to really remove obstacles and things that are useless wastes of time (looking at you hit and expertise) so we can maximize our time playing.  Next up we will be discussing the exciting raid size and name changes!  What are you most excited about?

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Warlords of Draenor

Red Shirt Guy Explores Draenor, Part 1: Frostfire Ridge

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2013, BlizzPlanet Articles, Blizzplanet Reviews, Event Coverage, Lore, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Hello everybody, I know this is a few days post BlizzCon, but its the thought that counts, right? Anyways, the Warlords of Draenor demo from BlizzCon has been covered elsewhere; so this won’t be quite like the other descriptions of it. Instead I’ll be focusing on some neat tidbits I found, as well as some potential theories to the expansion’s plotline. Take the jump downwards to find out more!

Blizzplanet Interview – Micky Neilson & Matt Burns Discuss Diablo III: Book of Tyrael

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Interviews

diablo-iii-book-of-tyrael-cover-full-sizeMontoya and I had a blast interviewing New York Times Best Selling author and Blizzard Lead Publishing Micky Neilson and Blizzard Associate Publishing Developer Matt Burns.

We asked a few questions about the Insight Editions’ Diablo III: Book of Tyrael which is currently available at a bookstore near you and online.

I recommend buying Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and reading my recent review which has a list of content.

I also recently posted photos of the booksigning of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael held at the 2013 New York Comic Con where I met Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment).

Note: Added a transcript at the below the video embed. The interview lasted about 24 minutes. (Added Sub-titles to the video through YouTube CC/Closed Captions)

Transcript

This is Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet. We’re here to interview Micky Neilson and Matt Burns about Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. We also have Montoya from Blizzplanet.

Hi, everyone!

(Everyone says Hi)

Let’s start with the first question here.

MD: Blizzard Entertainment and Insight Editions published Diablo III: Book of Cain as a primer to Diablo III mythos. Where does Diablo III: Book of Tyrael fit in Blizzard’s grand design? What is the purpose?

Neilson: There was a lot of reasons for doing Book of Tyrael. Probably the main reason was — because we did Book of Cain and we came up with a ton of amazing content, and all kinds of great ideas and everything else, and backstory and characters and all this juicy stuff, and then we figured — you know, ok — we’ve a certain number of pages to be able to tell up this ending and we just didn’t have enough room for everything.

So the biggest thing for Book of Tyrael was — Ok, we’ve got all this amazing information that we want to share with people. Let’s do it in a follow up book and let’s see what other opportunities we have to convey this information. So that was one of the big ones; and then of course, tying into upcoming game content and having something that’s going to serve us to bridge to the next expansion — you know — that was also a big consideration. Matt do you want to add to that? (More after the break)

New York Comic Con 2013 Coverage – Book Signing Videos and Photos

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, Interviews, New York Comic Con 2013, World of Warcraft News

I arrived to the New York Comic Con in Manhattan about 10:45am before the scheduled book signing at the Insight Editions booth (#1564). The place was packed with thousands of fans and I wasn’t even inside the Javits Center yet. I bypassed most of the horde of people outside the building by walking along the street to the farthest entry point (which is closer to the Exhibition Hall). Still took me about 15 minutes to get inside just to enter into yet another traffic jam of people walking the aisles. Not so easy with a Rollator Walker.

Insight Editions Booth # 1564

I got to meet Joseph Lacroix (DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice artist) and Doug Alexander (Senior Art Editor in Creative Development at Blizzard Entertainment) at the Insight Editions booth and both signed my copy of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. I was delighted. It was so cool when I wrote Blizzplanet.com on the book and showed it to Joseph. He went like: “Ohh! Blizzplanet!” He explained Doug about the fansite.

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I informed him that Arthur “Handclaw” Lorenz recently interviewed him at GamesCom 2013 on behalf of Blizzplanet, and he remembered him. It was awesome to meet these guys and handshake.

Insight Editions marketing director Mark Anderson and sales & marketing manager Chris Parnell will ship a few Blizzard licensed products to me in upcoming days to giveaway here at Blizzplanet. So keep an eye for these announcements on the front page and the Blizzplanet social networks. It might be a few Diablo III: Book of Tyrael and/or the World of Warcraft® Alliance Hardcover Ruled Journal and World of Warcraft Horde Journal.

Simon & Schuster, Inc. Booth # 1828

The Simon & Schuster booth had Blizzard lead publishing and New York Times best selling author Micky Neilson as a guest to sign books for Blizzard Entertainment fans. Simon & Schuster gave away 50 copies of World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and 50 copies of Diablo III: The Order for free to those who came to the book signing event.

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There was a long line of fans waiting to get their books signed. The line went all around the corner.

I talked briefly with Micky Neilson at the end of the book signing. I asked him whether someone would step forward to take the role of the avatar of Justice now that Tyrael answered the call of the Crystal Arch to take the mantle of Wisdom.

Whoa? Tyrael “answered the call”? Yea — read the Diablo III: Book of Tyrael. That wasn’t something specified in-game.

Whether someone would answer the call to fill the shoes of the avatar of Justice in the future or not is unknown. It is something that has been discussed internally, but they haven’t yet come to a decision. I argued there is still Justice to be met with Adria betraying Tyrael, Leah and all of mankind. Of course, what Malthael is orchestrating demands justice too.

On another note, there is a Diablo short story or novella in progress to be released somewhere around 2014. It is based on a character mentioned in the “Figures of Interest” section of Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

The character is named Morbed (a former thief) who roams the lands of Sanctuary helping adventurers. The description in the book is open to interpretation. Maybe players might find him in the Reaper of Souls expansion. Don’t take my word on that.

The video below shows the book signing by Micky Neilson — HD1080 available. Let the playlist run to load both videos. The sound is a bit chaotic. I cleaned a bit of it, but you can still hear it. There was a nearby booth with really amped-up music in the background on top of the thousands of people talking in the distance.

Blizzplanet Review – Diablo III: Book of Tyrael

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, Diablo 3 News

diablo-iii-book-of-tyrael-cover-full-sizeThe Diablo III: Book of Tyrael is now on sale at the New York Comic Con (booth #1564) and local bookstores. I grabbed my copy from the Insight Editions booth at the New York Comic Con for $28.

Diablo III: Book of Tyrael was written by Matt Burns (Associate Publishing Developer, Blizzard Entertainment).

Book Materials

In terms of printing materials, this book has the typical Blizzard-quality standards and what you would expect from an Insight Editions book. It’s awesome. The front cover’s Sword and ornaments artwork is embossed — giving you that special visual and tactile feeling. The lower part of the book is wrapped by a cover jacket.

Now I think this book kind of went a few notches up in terms of detail in comparison with Book of Cain and other similar Blizzard licensed products. If you take a look at the outer side of the pages which run along the width of the book in Book of Cain — you will notice the pages’ border were truncated to mimic ancient scrolls. Diablo III: Book of Tyrael lacks this, but instead the pages’ border is painted in gold. It’s crazy. You can even see the light reflect off the golden surface. The photo doesn’t even catch half of how it really looks like.

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In the interior of the book, all pages have this wash-out material that gives you a feeling this is an old manuscript. It’s rare to find a page that has no artwork.

Finally, at the back of the book is some sort of envelope glued to the cardboard. The center has a seal one can detach to open the envelope. Within is “The Red Tree of Khanduras” listing Deckard Cain, Archbishop Lazarus, Prince Albrecht, King Leoric, Queen Asylla, Prince Aidan, Leah and Adria.

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When you unfold the poster it is kinda huge. It has an artwork of a big tree. The roots seem to entangle The Black Soulstone. The branches have images of all the characters mentioned above concerning “The Red Tree of Khanduras”.

On the other side of the poster, it shows the same characters in their final fate: Queen Asylla decapitated, Leah as Diablo the Prime Evil, Aidan as the Dark Wanderer, King Leoric as the Skeleton King, Adria holding the Black Soulstone, Albrecht as Diablo, Lazarus and Cain death.

Review

Diablo III: Book of Tyrael is written from the point of view of Tyrael. However, Tyrael attached writings from Deckard Cain’s Journal and Leah’s Journal to pass the wisdom down to his new Horadrim, and future generations. It is not written as a novel, but more as a compendium of notes.

There is no index page or content list. The entirety of the book is a roleplay from the point of view of the Diablo III characters. An exception is the credits page.

Diablo III fans should definitely get their hands on this book. There are many elements from the upcoming Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion; and probably the expansion after that.

I have never seen such an extensive collection of lore about Adria the Witch. Adria’s past prior to her arrival to Tristram is written by Leah, and her story after arriving to Tristram is from Deckard Cain’s notes. Tyrael got Leah’s notes from Bastion’s Keep.

Some of the lore comes from Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon.

Tyrael shares his experience as mortal in his charge as the new Wisdom. Charge that’s short-lived as Imperius doesn’t acknowledge him and ignores his warnings about the Black Soulstone.

Tyrael is confused with all the raw emotions coursing through his mortal body. Fear to fail his duty as Wisdom. Emotional insecurities assaulting him.

The book reveals why Tyrael decided to steal the Black Soulstone from the Angiris Council, and why Westmarch as its burial ground. The story of Adria the Witch, the Founding and Ruin of Westmarch, and lore about the Crusaders can be found in the book, too. Take this book as a prelude to Diablo III: Reaper of Souls; and as a primer for the upcoming novel Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon which hits bookstores on February 2014.

Content List

There is no index/contet list, so I’ll simply list the sections found throughout Book of Tyrael:

Introduction – This is a letter from Tyrael to the New Horadrim.

Part One: Adria

The Witch of Tristram
Adria’s Origins
Adria’s Quest
Zoltun Kulle and the Black Soulstone
Conclusions

 

Part Two: The Fate of the Black Soulstone

Being Mortal
The Dissonance of the Angiris Council
Wisdom
The New Horadrim
Rakkis and the Founding of Westmarch – Prelude to Conquest
Campaigns Against Ivgorod and the Barbarians
The Creation of Westmarch
The Lost Ruins of Westmarch
Crusaders

 

Part Three: Miscellanea

A Timeline of Sanctuary

  • Pre-History – (Inarius)
  • Recorded History

Factions of Sanctuary

  • Amazons
  • Assassins
  • Barbarian Tribes
  • Council of Elders
  • The Coven
  • Crusaders
  • Druids
  • The Edyrem
  • Horadrim
  • Iron Wolves
  • Mage Clans
  • Necromancers
  • Paladins
  • Patriarchs (Ivgorod)
  • Rogues
  • Skatsim
  • Templar
  • The Temple of the Triune
  • The Thieves Guild
  • Trade Consortium
  • Zakarum

Figures of Interest — this is a long section with brief descriptions of several humans, demons and angels throughout history. Some only mentioned in the novels and the comic book.

 

Artists

Some of the artists behind all the artwork in Diablo III: Book of Tyrael were the same from Book of Cain, while others seem to be new.

  • The Black Frog
  • Nicolas Delort
  • ENrang
  • Riccardo Federici
  • Gino
  • John Howe
  • Joseph Lacroix
  • Iain McCaig
  • Jon McConnell
  • Petar Meseldzija
  • Jean-Baptiste Monje
  • Glenn Rane (Cover)
  • Ruan Jia
  • Dan Hee Ryu
  • Adrian Smith
  • Yang Qi
  • Bin Zhang
  • Zhang Lu

Credits

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT

Matt Burns (Writer)
Doug Alexander (Creative Direction, Layout and Design)
Chris Metzen, Micky Neilson, and Brian Kindreagan (Additional Story Development)
Victor Lee (Additional Art)
Josh Horst, Kyle Williams, Skye Chandler (Producers)
Cate Gary (Editor)
Justin Parker (Lore)
Jerry Chu (Licensing)

Special thanks to: Christian Lichtner, John Polidora, David Lomeli, Benjamin Zhang, Peter C. Lee, Leonard Boyarsky, Michael Chu, Valerie Watrous, Evelyn Fredericksen, Sean Copeland, Leanne Huynh, Audrey Vicenzi, and Joseph Lacroix.

INSIGHT EDITIONS

Raoul Goff (Publisher)
Chrissy Kwasnik (Art Director)
Vanessa Lopez (Executive Editor)
Anna Wan (Production Manager)
Elaine Ou (Editorial Assistant)

SPOILERS

The Coven is actually a remnant of what was once known as the Triune (the ancient religion seen in Diablo: The Sin War trilogy)

Adria was born in Kingsport — curiously, the southern port of Westmarch — where Reaper of Souls takes place.

Adria’s father was Sevrin — a powerful merchant in Kingsport, who strangled his wife in a fit of rage.

Adria possibly killed her own father some time later when an unusual fire burned their home. She fled north to the Westmarch capital. Joined a group of witches. Turns out Adria and Maghda met there in their youth. Years later, both witches joined the Coven and took control of the group after killing its leaders.

Adria later departed the Coven after a schism with her partner — around the time of the Darknening of Tristram.

On one of Cain’s notes, he acknowledges after taking Leah as child with him, he began to research about Adria. He decided to keep what he learned a secret, and hid the truth to Leah.

I’m surprised this book has a long timeline similar to Warcraft’s. Also most of these Leah’s notes dating Diablo III (Caldeum and Bastion Keep) are written in 1285 Anno Kehjistani. Some notes are denoted as “1st day of (what seems like a month)”. Examples: Ratham, Kathon, Ostara.

Short descriptions of each important human, angel and demon throughout history (alive and deceased).

Zoltun Kulle was from the Ennead mage clan — group which delved into transmutation and enchantment magics.

The Black Soulstone was a profane simulacrum of the three soulstones Tyrael gave the Horadrim years ago.

Now we have another name of the first Horadrim group: Jered Cain, Tal Rasha, Zoltun Kulle and Iben Fahd. The latter was among the few survivors who attempted to defeat Zoltun in his lair.

The first part was Adria and Zoltun Kulle. The third part is from the point of view of Tyrael. He expresses how he feels as a human. How he felt as an Angel and how he viewed the flaws of the Angiris Council.

“I deliberately took on the form of a mortal, sacrificing my angelic essence, in response to the Council’s continued inaction. In doing so, I hoped to set an example to the Heavens — to prove that laws can be bent for a greater good.”

Tyrael left the Heavens after Diablo the Prime Evil was defeated. He couldn’t bear the angels’ judgment — who blamed him for the countless deaths of angels. I think this is the first time we ever hear how angels are born. Tyrael mentions before he left back to Sanctuary he witnessed the Lightsong — the creation of new angels. The angels tune their essences into the Crystal Arch in synch. The harmony of this “sound” and “light” creates new angels.

Blizzplanet Review – World of Warcraft Ultimate Visual Guide

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

dk-publishing-world-of-warcraft-ultimate-visual-guideMy copy of the DK World of Warcraft Ultimate Visual Guide just arrived. I purchased it myself. I was curious to see such a big box for a book. When I opened the box and held the book on my hands, I literally jaw-dropped.

I wasn’t expecting this book to be such a monster-sized one. I have reviewed many Blizzard products in the past 10 years, but this one just broke the record in size. The Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 10.3 x 0.8 inches don’t mean much in context until you have it in front of you. IT IS HUGE! It is heavy too. 3 Pounds. I’m surprised I didn’t pay more for the shipping than for the book ($3.99 shipping).

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Cover Jacket

As usual, all Blizzard Entertainment books come with a cover jacket wrapped around the book. You can frame it as a large poster (13.8″ x 10.3″). When you remove the cover jacket, the book itself has a printed duplicate of the same artwork in full color (except for the missing logo and title text).

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On the cover jacket’s internal flap you can read:

”A universe so vast as to be immeasurable — incomprehensible even to your greatest minds.” – Algalon the Observer

The World of Warcraft Ultimate Visual Guide was produced in close collaboration with Blizzard Entertainment, creator of World of Warcraft, the world’s biggest online role-playing game. The book explores the epic history, races, major characters, and locations of this thrilling fantasy realm, delving deep into the World of Warcraft lore.

In addition to giving readers an overview of Azeroth’s history, the book provides a behind-the-scenes look at World of Warcraft’s development. This unprecedented, long-awaited companion is packed with fantastic original World of Warcraft images, many rarely seen. Also featuring the very latest lore, this book is the ideal introduction to the World of Warcraft universe as well as the perfect guide for any adventurer, Alliance or Horde.

 

Adorning the interior of the book cardboard is a washed up monochrome version of this artwork.

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The title page: World of Warcraft Ultimate Visual Guide has the following image:

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Interior Content

Throughout the length of the book you will find awesome artwork never seen before and some known. On the lore side, you will find a description of each race, kingdom, class, magic types, leaders, legendary weapons, history, an updated timeline and so much more. Among the authors are Anne Stickney from WoW Insider and Kathleen Pleet.

I can’t stress out enough how much I like to see all the epic artwork, and even new images of Turalyon, Aegwynn, Queen Azshara before and after her transformation, Hakkar the Houndmaster, Draka, Durotan, Aggra, Garona Halforcen, Orgrim Doomhammer, Xarantaur and many others. The book also covers the many independent factions including villains and raid bosses. Pretty complete collection.

There are images from Warcraft II, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft. Others from the novel covers, novel bonus images, the TCG, the comic book, and graphic novels. But definitely new ones I haven’t seen before. This guide is basically a compilation of many artwork published by Blizzard Entertainment throughout different media, as well as sort of an encyclopedia containing the World of Warcraft MMO lore basics for newcomers or people who have been around a while but don’t necessarily know much about the Warcraft universe or the majority of fans who haven’t read the Warcraft novels, manga or comic books.

I am surprised to see new artwork of Khadgar, Kurdran, Turalyon, Alleria and Danath Trollbane. These probably come from the TCG, but in my defense I didn’t collect them.

The lore is very up-to-date until Mists of Pandaria. Mar’li the High Priestess of the Spider Loa is featured, introduced in Patch 5.2 The Thunder Isle.

This book is definitely the Ultimate Visual and Lore Guide for beginners who recently joined the World of Warcraft MMO or who lack the basics of the overall lore behind the leaders, races, classes and other aspects of the game universe, but a feast to the eyes for old-schoolers too who love to behold great artwork by Blizzard artists — including the Sons of the Storm.

I don’t want fans to grab this book expecting something in particular — like a all out new lore, or the next expansion stuff. This is just WoW in a nutshell for newcomers spanning content from 2004 to 2013.

Credits

Around the first pages there is a foreword from Blizzard Publishing Lead Micky Neilson. To know a bit more about the authors of this guide, Kathleen Pleet is a BradyGames contributor involved in the development of the Vanilla, Burning Crusade, and Dungeon Companion guides. Anne Stickney is a senior editor at WoW Insider who writes the “Know Your Lore” column.

Blizzard Entertainment was knee-deep involved in the development of this guide. The credits list the following Blizzard Entertainment developers:

Production: Joshua Horst, Skye Chandler, Leanne Huynh
Editor: Micky Neilson
Lore: Sean Copeland
Lore Editor: Cate Gary
Licensing: Matthew Beecher, Jerry Chu, Audrey Vicenzi
Art Direction: Jeremy Cranford

The credits also list several DK Publishing and BradyGames personnel.

Content

Many might argue this is info already available in the WoWpedia — but you visit there to find something in specific through the “Search” feature. This guide, on the other hand, compiles all a fan needs to know about the lore basics for everything Warcraft. I wouldn’t doubt many people would visit WoWpedia to expand their knowledge after reading the guide.

The Titans, the Old gods, the Elemental Lords, the Burning Legion hierarchy and its demon races, even some of the War of the Ancients data. You can find it all in the guide. This photo shows you the Content List with all features by page.

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Grab your copy of the World of Warcraft: Ultimate Visual Guide while supplies last.

Hearthstone Closed Beta Patch Notes

Written by Andy Go on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzPlanet Articles, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

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Today is the day for our Hearthstone Closed Beta patch! This patch also includes the account wipe, so when the servers are available for play once more, you’ll be starting again as if you were a new player. For more information on the wipe itself, please revisit our Account Wipe Incoming blog post, found here. Now, onto the patch notes!

General

  • The maximum level is now 60, and you can earn XP in any game mode up to max level.
  • Chat has been rejiggered.
  • Gold gained in Play mode has changed from 5 gold per 5 wins to 10 gold per 3 wins.
  • You can now acquire Golden Basic minions at higher experience levels.
  • Arena rewards now give less dust and more cards.
  • More gold is guaranteed at 5 & 6 Arena wins.
  • At 9 Arena wins, you are now guaranteed an extra pack or a Golden card.
  • The animations for Secrets and Fatigue have been sped up dramatically.
  • All cards now have flavor text when you view them in your collection.
  • “Spell Power +1” has been renamed “Spell Damage +1”.
  • Heroes can be unlocked in any mode (Play/Arena/Practice)
  • Play, Practice and Friendly Play modes will now default to the custom deck selection UI if you’ve previously created a deck
  • You can now click on chat bubbles to respond
  • Social – When your friends complete an Arena run or get a Legendary card in a pack, you’ll be notified so you can tell them, “Grats!”
  • Quests that required you to win with a class now give you a choice between 2 classes.

BlizzCon 2013 Virtual Goodies

Written by Andy Go on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, Blizzard Products News, BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2013, BlizzPlanet Articles, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

BlizzCon goodies incoming! Not attending? Snag these in-game bonuses with a Virtual Ticket! Don’t forget to buy your tickets here: http://us.battle.net/blizzcon/en/virtual-ticket/#goodies

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World of Warcraft Pet: Murkalot
StarCraft II Portrait & Decal: Tearin’ Stitches & Stitches’ Hook
Diablo III Banner: Mark of Death
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Card: Mystery Minion

For people wondering who Stitches is.. He is from Blizzard All-Stars.. Looks like Blizzard’s MOBA will be releasing soon.

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GamesCom 2013 – Joseph Lacroix interview – Diablo III: Book of Tyrael

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Interviews, Diablo 3 News, GamesCom 2013, Interviews

During his attendance to GamesCom 2013 representing Blizzplanet, Arthur Lorenz “Handclaw” interviewed french artist Joseph Lacroix to ask questions about the DC Comics Diablo: Sword of Justice and the upcoming Diablo III: Book of Tyrael.

Diablo: Sword of Justice is a story about Jacob of Staalbreak a child that became the avatar of Justice in Sanctuary when he donned Tyrael’s sword. At least three characters from this graphic novel are confirmed to reappear in the upcoming Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon.

Diablo III: Book of Tyrael is the sequel to Diablo III: Book of Cain. To learn more about Diablo III: Book of Tyrael watch our SDCC Blizzard Publishing Panel videos.

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Hearthstone Beta – Crazy Game

Written by Andy Go on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, BlizzPlanet Articles, General News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

I had some free time in the afternoon, so I did a quick match in Hearthstone Beta… and whoa.. I didn’t expect things to get this crazy.

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If you can’t see properly, Click on the picture. If not:  Here

Yes that’s 23 Attack / 15 Defense on a creature. I still won though, he had only 3 health left and his creature couldn’t attack my hero. Had one taunt creature, he had to force himself to attack it, then on my turn just used Arcane Shot & Steady Shot to get the win!

 

Pandygo crashes on Blizzplanet

Written by Andy Go on . Posted in BlizzPlanet Articles, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft News

Greetings everyone, my name is Andy “Pandy” Go, I am very happy and thrilled that I am now part of the Blizzplanet Team. I have always been a loyal fan to Blizzplanet ever since the website started back in 2003. I have always been a huge Blizzard fan from Starcraft to Diablo to Warcaft and now Hearthstone.

I hope to provide you all the in-depth information and latest news of all Blizzard Games, and mainly Hearthstone.

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What it means to be a true blizzard fan..

WOW_BLOODSWORN

Blizzplanet Review – DC Comics World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn Graphic Novel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard Entertainment shipped me a copy of World of Warcraft: Bloodworn — written by Doug Wagner (WITCHBLADE/RED SONJA) and artist Jheremy Raapack (DC Comics Injustice: Gods Among Us).

The back of the book says: “Something stirs in the depths of Maraudon. Something wicked.”

WOW_BLOODSWORNThe tribes of the centaur have banded together and begun attacking Horde farms, villages and outposts without mercy or provocation. They murder every man, woman and child. What could bring these volatile tribes together? What are the centaur more afraid of than the imposing armies of the Horde?

In World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn, a small militia group is the only chance the Horde have of stopping an immense centaur war machine bent on overrunning all of Azeroth. Writer Doug Wagner and artist Jheremy Raapack deliver a tale of disparate heroes who must learn to embrace their differences if they are to save everything they believe in…

 

The front cover is a book jacket wrapped around the book. On the inner flap, is read:

Honor, Duty, and Loyalty: words fought and paid for in blood by every member of the Horde. Constantly fighting for their freedom, this faction of outcast races stands side by side against tyranny and persecution, but now something dark and powerful threatens their very existence. The Horde’s only hope is a small band of outcasts forced to team together. Their quest begins in the Horde capital city of Orgrimmar and will take them across Azeroth to the dreaded caves of Maraudon. Malgar, an orc hunter who desires nothing more than to be alone, is thrust together with a small Horde militia unit in hopes of stopping an enemy from an age long forgotten. This group of misfits must learn to put their differences aside if they have any hope of surviving. For to save all of Azeroth, they must defeat a god…

 

The story starts with a Horde militia chanting the Blood Oath of the Horde that players witnessed in Dragonblight when the Taunka pledged to join the Horde in the quest titled: “Blood Oath of the Horde” and later when Roanauk of the Icemist Village pledges the Taunka in “All Hail Roanauk!.”

”Lok’tar ogar! Victory or death – it is these words that bind me to the Horde. For they are the most sacred and fundamental of truths to any warrior of the Horde.

I give my flesh and blood freely to the Warchief. I am the instrument of my Warchief’s desire. I am a weapon of my Warchief’s command.

From this moment until the end of days I live and die – FOR THE HORDE!”

 

Right away the reader knows the story starts shortly after Deathwing’s Cataclysm. Garrosh has ordered the creation of the Garad’kra – a militia that will spread across all Kalimdor to report any enemy transgression into Horde territory, a militia able to act swiftly and in unison.

Readers will begin to know, separately, a little bit about each of the characters that end up banding together to follow Garrosh’s orders. These are the main characters and their bios:


Ironhoof

The warchief Garrosh Hellscream killed the leader of the tauren in a duel, allowing the grimtotem tauren (a dissident faction among their race) to capitalize on the opportunity and seize control of Thunder Bluff. Garrosh neither aided nor hindered the grimtotem, who were eventually deposed and driven out of the tauren lands, but this left the tauren less trustful of the Horde as a whole. Despite the events, the aged Ironhoof longs to prove he’s still a strong warrior and an asset to both the tauren people and the Horde.

Felgrim

The self-proclaimed “Forsaken” are an undead faction within the Horde. Its members have made several contributions to their allies, but have placed their own secretive agenda ahead of duty to the Horde in the past, a recent treachery from within the forsaken’s own ranks has made the Horde even more distrustful of their undead allies. Felgrim has grown weary of the suspicion directed towards him and reacts harshly to any sign of it.

Rada’jin

Although the Darkspear trolls served the Horde faithfully since Thrall’s arrival on Kalimdor, Garrosh saw them as weak and pushed them aside to make room for stronger allies. The Darkspear leader Vol’jin, threatened Garrosh and returned to the Echo Islands with most of his people, but ultimately was convinced to stay with the Horde despite growing tensions.

Rada’jin believes the answer is to prove how powerful the trolls can be, and as a shapeshifting druid he aims to do just that. He will show the Horde’s leaders that his tribe is a strong ally at any cost.

Ashra Valandril

Betrayal in their hour of greatest need drove the blood elves from the Alliance quickly discovering that their race could not survive without the support of allies and having no viable alternatives, these elves swore allegiance to their former enemies: the Horde. Ashra endeavors to elevate his people within the Horde, as he personally believes the orcs are using the blood elves for their own machinations.

Shagara

A shaman is called to seek harmony between the elements and themselves; an ancient tradition of the orcs that was reawakened when Thrall reformed the Horde under his leadership.

Shagara honors the ideals the former warchief upheld during his time as its leader, even when her new companions pursue their own goals over serving the greater good.

Malgar

Although he was a soldier in the Horde when they invaded Azeroth, Malgar felt he was a slave to the Horde’s masters and the demonic corruption that fueled them. When the Horde fell, Malgar was placed in a prison camp with other survivors. Thrall freed the orcs and took them to a new land, but now Malgar wants nothing more to do with the Horde. He wants the freedom to make his own way without the burden of serving others.

 

Doug Wagner has a very interesting story going on in World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn. It’s mostly focused on the centaur threat and the banding of a special Horde strike team. A dysfunctional one. Malgar is an orc hunter who used to be one of the corrupted orcs coming through the Dark Portal alongside Warchief Blackhand, and faced time in the internment camps. He doesn’t want nothing to do with Orgrimmar and the Horde. He won’t serve anyone.

A blood debt with Ironhoof bound him into this militia venture when the tauren warrior saved his hide during a centaur attack. The shaman lady orc Shagara is the leader of this team. The Undead Warlock Felgrim has to deal with hatred from other Horde races because of what Putress and his forsaken did at the Wrathgate. He has a deep regret crawling within his hollow skull. The blood elf guy lives in turmoil every single day of his life due to an important loss suffered presumably when the scourge invaded Quel’Thalas.

Criticism should be part of all reviews. There should be more about each character and revelations. It’s important to develop characters with a rich background. It’s a graphic novel, not a series, so in part due to frame space it’s nigh impossible to cover all the characters and still maintain a plot and a climax. Yet, there was enough individual character spotlight about their own inner-demons, there was a slight revelation about Felgrim the forsaken warlock which cements him into in-game events.

I think Rada’jin should have had more background lore considering he’s a troll druid and may have known

I’d personally like to see these characters again in future short stories in the website, and maybe another graphic novel or short limited series a la Ashbringer and Curse of the Worgen.

The dysfunctional team happens to grow into something else, united by a new team member whom is not even a Horde race.

Doug Wagner presents a very intriguing plot with this new teammate. Expectatives should be really high with this book, because certainly I have my doubts whether it is a simple bluff or whether Blizzard Entertainment is playing with the thought of a new playable race in an upcoming expansion. I totally didn’t see this one coming, not by a long shot. Yet it’s right there, wide open. In the canon in his graphic novel. Could it be possible?

“Lok’tar ogar! Victory or death – it is these words that bind me to the Horde…” — ‘Nuff said!

This graphic novel is going to give you an itch in the back of your mind that can’t be sated until BlizzCon for sure. A race that shares the same controversy as a playable naga race in a different way.

On the artistic side, Jheremy Rapaack totally nailed the Horde artwork. Very rich details in the armor, weapons, faces, hair. Jheremy was the perfect match to go with this World of Warcraft graphic novel, and I’m glad DC Comics and Blizzard Entertainment signed him to pencil it. Certainly, Jheremy should be in future Blizzard graphic novels, and other projects.

Grab your copy of World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn while supplies last.

Red Shirt Guy

Greetings from The Red Shirt Guy

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in BlizzCon, Blizzcon 2010, BlizzCon 2011, BlizzPlanet Articles, General News, Lore, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft News

Hello, my name is Ian Bates, more commonly known as the Red Shirt Guy, and I am happy to say I am now Blizzplanet’s newest contributor! In the coming days, weeks, months etc I hope to provide a variety of, perhaps not news but “flavor” articles for the site. You can expect lots of speculative ideas on future content, as I love imagining expansions, zones, where the game could go. I’m also planning on doing an article about the current “faction bias” issue that has reemerged with patch 5.3.

I hope you will enjoy these future articles and that they will help make Blizzplanet a fun read for all fans of Blizzard’s products.

Red Shirt Guy

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Blizzplanet Interview: Cory Stockton Discusses Patch 5.4 Siege of Orgrimmar

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzplanet Interviews, Interviews, Patch 5.4 - Siege of Orgrimmar, World of Warcraft News

Blizzplanet and several fansites had the opportunity to interview the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria developers. In our case, I interviewed lead content designer Cory Stockton to talk about the Siege of Orgrimmar, and the Timeless Isle.

Some of the questions came from members of the Scrolls of Lore forums, including The RedShirtGuy (known as Insane Guy of Doom).

Note: Uploading video # 1 of 2 in about an hour from now.

Interview – Part 1

I added subtitle captions directly into the YouTube video. Click the (cc) icon in the embeded video to enable it. Transcript can be found below after the video. There are potential spoilers in the video (gameplay and a couple quests in the Timeless Isle), thus watch at your own discretion. Otherwise, the transcript is available.

Hi everyone! I am Tomas Hernandez also known as Medievaldragon from Blizzplanet.com

Today I have the honor to interview Cory Stockton, the lead content designer for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Hi Cory, welcome to Blizzplanet!

Cory: Hi, How are you doing?

 

Fine. My first question will likely make you sweat a little bit.

I’m beginning with two questions submited by the Red Shirt Guy. Uh-oh! (laughs)

Cory: Great!

 

So here we go. In Patch 5.2 there was a ton of build up for the Throne of Thunder outside the raid dungeon itself. There was a server effort going from Stage 1 to Stage 5. What was the reason behind this direction of not building up toward the Siege of Orgrimmar in Patch 5.4?

Cory: We’ve been planning Throne of Thunder and Lie Shen and that concept for a long time and we really felt like there was a ton of value in explaining the background story behind the mogu.

The mogu were one of the key enemies that we’ve created for Pandaria. We just felt like there is a ton to exploit there a lot of great opportunity to do unique boss fights that really fit with the kit that we were shooting for.

And I think in general it all played in to the concept that of what Garrosh was trying to do with the Horde, with him trying to gain control — essentially he was trying to gain control of the mogu as well, to use them. He didn’t succeed, obviously, but I think — be able to explain these concepts behind that was all valuable stuff to us. We really feel like it was one of the greatest raids that we’ve made along with — you know — the island and everything that went along with it.

We learned a ton … from the questing and the style of stuff that we did there — but we really felt like that was, at that time, that was the direction we really thought like that was the right way to go.

I don’t think we have any regrets about choosing to focus on the Thunder King.

 

Why aren’t the worgen nor the draenei involved in the Siege of Orgrimmar? Both have involved in the Siege of Orgrimmar? Both have their own reasons to drop the hammer on Garrosh.

Cory: I mean, in theory, everyone have their own reasons why they want to take out Garrosh. If he’s able to complete the plans that he is, as you has seen, what he is building up to do … Basically, Garrosh could destroy all of Azeroth if he’s got the power that he’s trying to get.

So I think that’s generally what we’re trying to get across. Obviously, some people have more personal vendettas against him (what he is doing), but in general all the races of Azeroth really should feel like he’s a giant threat that they need to take him out.

And, hopefully, we made that clear through the patch cycle leading up to this.

 

Is the Mogu Rune of Fate going to work on Siege of Orgrimmar, or will players use a new type of token for free loot roll? Actually, I found Mogu Runes of Fate in the Timeless Isle in the PTR.

Cory: I believe the current plan is to keep Mogu Runes of Fate. I don’t think that’s changing. We can confirm that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not changing them that’s why you are seeing them drop on the Timeless Isle.

Last minute changes: Mogu Runes of Fate can be found on the Timeless Isle, but Warforged Seals will be the new currency for bonus rolls in Siege of Orgrimmar. As with previous tiers, Lesser Charms of Good Fortune will be used to obtain Warforged Seals from the weekly quest NPC. For players still running Throne of Thunder for loot in patch 5.4, we’ve added several new ways to obtain Mogu Runes of Fate for bonus rolls, including throughout the Timeless Isle.

 

Are we going to see new recipe loot for professions in Siege of Orgrimmar? Like a new shield from Blacksmiths, new inscriptions — or something like that?

Cory: Yea, there is new recipes all across the patch and lots of different areas. There are stuff that drops from the raid.

There’s stuff that you can find as outdoor world drops. There’s things that you can buy. There’s a pretty massive selection of new stuff that is coming in 5.4; and spread across a lot of places, but yea, you’ll definitely get some out of the raid.

 

Currently in the PTR, Vereesa and Aethas Sunreaver seem to have placeholder armor. Are they getting a new model or new armor for the Siege of Orgrimmar?

Cory: At this point, I do not think, most of the art that is in for patch 5.4 is in at this point. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any — there might be some late updates that are coming but mostly what you see now should be what the final art is going to be.

 

What’s the reasoning for the developers to go with Gamon as part of Siege of Orgrimmar, and not have Alliance NPCs for Alliance players, specificly like Admiral Taylor vs Nazgrim, or Varian and players versus Garrosh.

Cory: I mean, I don’t think we’ve a specific reason necessarily other than the fact that we thought that character really fit as far as like what we were trying to get across for players for what they are doing.

I don’t think we have any sort of agenda that we’re trying to say, we are trying to say, you know, we’re building something specificly for Horde, or specificly for Alliance. We try to make sure that our content is appealing
to both factions.

Obviously, we’re raiding Orgrimmar here so there’s going to be some stuff that’s more unique to that, but in general — you know — we try to take these things into account to make sure that we’ve things that players from both factions can enjoy and feel that they fit into the game for them.

 

Each raid usually has a brand-new boss mechanics. Something new that you consider exciting in this patch?

Cory: There’s way too many brand-new raid mechanics to even pick. One unique fight – I mean there are a massive amount of bosses in this raid and a ton of new artwork.

Gameplay-wise, we are doing a lot of new stuff here but that’s going to be for players to figure out when they get in there and actually fight the fights.

 

Are there any drastic permanent changes to happen to Orgrimmar after the Siege — considering Theramore is a crater? Or even a new Horde capital to replace Orgrimmar?

Cory: You are not going to see anything dramaticly right away. We might end up doing some changes to Orgrimmar over time.

As things move forward and the story develops. There’s still a lot of things to be figured out when 5.4 comes out, and the story plays out for players.

I think then we’ll have a better sense of what we want to do; but there isn’t going to be any dramatic changes to Orgrimmar right away.

 

There is no particular daily quest hubs in the Timeless Isle. Some are found through exploration. What purpose the development team has for the Timeless Isle from its early concept to its current state?

Cory: The reason why you’re seeing that is because our big concept there is “discovery.” And allowing players to discover and find things on their own on the Timeless Isle that’s why there’s so many rares, there’s unique treasure chests, there’s tons of stuff all over the island for players to find and we very intentionally did not direct players to these things by daily quests and stuff like that, because we wanted to really explore the option of doing things that are much more exploration for the players.

It feels like a sense of discovery we do have a few simple quests there to kinda introduce people to the island, and guide them around and encourage them to check out the new places. But those are just single one time quests. We don’t have a daily quest chain. That’s very much specificly on purpose to try this new kind of style out.

 

Should fans bother exploring under the water?

Cory: There is some stuff … I mean, the majority of the content is on the island proper, but there are definitely things to be found off the shore around the island.

 

I found some stuff underneath the water, near boats. So it was cool.

Cory: Yea, I know. There are definitely some stuff in the water; but we know that water doesn’t always provides the best gameplay experience for WoW.

But in some cases, we just love the fact that it changes the environment up a little bit, and it let us ### that we can’t do elsewhere like for example the sunken ships

 

Is the Timeless Isle content aimed as an intro to patch 5.5? Or even the next expansion?

Cory: No. I mean, the Timeless Isle is really its own unique piece of content. Obviously, we’re offering the raid for our raiding players while in the Timeless Isle is single-player all the way up to raid content.

There’s tons of things you can solo in the island; but there’s also things that require a group, that require all the way up to like huge world bosses that require tons and tons of people. So really that’s kind of like we see it as the plate of content. We’ve got stuff for our raiding more hardcore of players, and then we’ve got stuff for solo players as well.

 

I really like what I have seen so far. There’s an exciting, and random way to gear up alt level 90 characters in the Timeless Isle. What motivated you to include these gear in randomly spawned chests rather than using Justice Points or other currency?

Cory: I think it just goes on with our idea where we are trying to try new things on the island and really get a vibe for something that doesn’t feel so grindy, necessarily and can feel like — “oh man, I just found this, this is a super-exciting moment. I found a chest, I don’t know what’s in it. I’m going to open it. It could have something awesome.”

Versus the idea of kind of like looong … sloooww … slug — that you know will end, and it’s a great item for you to get, but the process of going to do that might not be as fun.

 

It was kinda fun, because I was killing some frogs; and suddenly, I saw this chest and I clicked it and “Wow! I have an account-bound gear to send to my alt.” I was like: “Oh, my gah!”

Cory: Yea. It’s a cool feeling. We want to make sure that people get a chance to find — I think WoW over the years has developed to place that is not as much of that sense of awesome discovery, and I know I keep repeating that, but It’s like we’ve lost some of that. There’s always something in the map that tells you where to go.

There’s always a quest that tells you what to do.

It’s not really a cave anymore that you can go and actually think that you are gonna find something cool in there, that is hidden. And I think that’s really the key; and the point of the Timeless Isle is for people to get out there and just explore it. Find out what’s there.

Check it out, and you never know what you are going to find.

 

Interview – Part 2

The second part of the interview deals with Flexible Raid, Connected Realms, PvP and Pet Battles Tournament. Nice description of Pet Battles. Every week random rotation of bosses.

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Sideshow StarCraft II Raynor – Terran Space Marine Sixth Scale Figure Pre-Order Available

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, StarCraft 2 News

Sideshow Collectibles opened pre-orders for the Starcraft II Raynor – Terran Space Marine – Sixth Scale Figure.

The size and dimensions of this figure is 15.5″ H (393.7mm) x 9.5″ W (241.3mm) x 6.75″ L (171.45mm). Sideshow Collectibles is pre-ordering this item for $499.99, and offers monthly payment plans as little as $56.25 a month. The figure is slated to ship on August 2014. Don’t worry, the pre-order will only charge you $50 today to reserve your copy as a non-refundable deposit.

The StarCraft II Raynor 1:6 Scale figure was announced recently at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con. Blizzplanet recorded video of the entire Blizzard Licensing Panel where this product was announced. Watch it now.

From the hit Blizzard Entertainment title, Starcraft II, Sideshow Collectibles is proud to introduce Jim Raynor -Terran Space Marine. Confederate marshal turned outlaw rebel, Jim Raynor does not back down from a fight. Equipped with technologically advanced armor and weaponry, the Raynor – Terran Space Marine was assembled from over 525 individually engineered components, making it one of Sideshow’s most ambitious Sixth Scale projects to date. The detailed armor features light up elements in the chest and engine vents, an impressive cache of weapons includes a C-14 Impaler Gauss rifle, a massive sniper rifle, and Jim’s signature revolver.

The Raynor Sixth Scale Figure features:

  • Fully Articulated Figure Body with highly detailed, fully articulated armor
  • Removable Helmet with retractable visor
  • Alternate Head(s) to display with helmet on or off
  • C-14 Impaler Gauss Rifle
  • Pistol with fabric holster
  • Sniper Rifle
  • Light up effects in chest, engine vents, and rifle (Images of finalized light-up effects, coming soon)
 

Artists

  • Anthony Mestas (Paint)
  • Michael Fictenmayer (Paint)
  • Big Shot Toyworks (Sculpt and Development)
  • Trevor Grove (Sculpt)
  • Kevin Ellis (Costume Fabrication)
  • The Sideshow Collectibles Design and Development Team

Manufactured by: Sideshow Collectibles

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Blizzplanet Review – World of Warcraft: Vol’jin, Shadows of the Horde

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

world-of-warcraft-voljin-shadows-of-the-horde-9781416550679Gallery Books sent me a review copy of the World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde by New York Times best selling author Michael A. Stackpole.

I have been waiting for this book for about 8 months. On October 13, 2012, Michael A. Stackpole, Micky Neilson and Dave Kosak revealed plans to publish this book. You can watch later the video I posted of that Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Panel to learn more about the story from the writer.

I had many expectations for this book. I have played the PTR and the live realm for months, experiencing the Patch 5.1 Landfall and the Dagger in the Dark Scenario where Vol’jin is betrayed. His throat slit by an assassin sent by Garrosh to eliminate the Darkspear leader from the chessboard.

I enjoyed later Patch 5.3 Escalation, and of course look forward to Patch 5.4. This novel covers all the bases, all what Vol’jin experienced after we gathered the ingredients in Binan Village to save Vol’jin’s life. The story we missed in between the Dagger in the Dark scenario and Vol’jin’s return to Sen’jin Village in Patch 5.3 Escalation.

(Information here may be considered Spoilers — Read at your own discretion)

Vol’jin is taken to the Shado-Pan Monastery to be tended by Chen Stormstout and the monks. In his fevered dreams, Vol’jin stands before the Guardian of the Dead Loa Bwonsamdi and Sen’jin. Bwonsamdi is pretty pissed off at Vol’jin for the lack of sacrifices these past months, and for anchoring himself to life so fiercely rather than embracing death, tended by his Loa master. Vol’jin has so much to do for the Darkspear, for the Horde.

Bwonsamdi releases his claim over Vol’jin with a warning about his future. Vol’jin shall wish he had embraced death now instead of what Vol’jin will endure in the future.

Vol’jin wakes up a month after the events of the Dagger in the Dark scenario. Lord Taran Zhu and the Shado-Pan have been afflicted by unbalance lately. He sees in Vol’jin an enigma. He is Tushui, in contrast with Garrosh’s Horde. The Shado-Pan must teach Vol’jin the pandaren ways, and in return they must learn from Vol’jin and his vision of the Horde. However, there’s a twist. Two months earlier, the Shado-Pan Monastery harbored an injured human hunter. Both the human and the troll leader must learn to live together and tend to each other while on sacred ground.

Taran Zhu knows that once these two enemies heal and depart, they will be back to their old ways and kill each other. Taran Zhu seeds in them the pandaren ways, and the strength to defeat the emotions of the sha. In this way, bringing up a sliver of hope for the Alliance and the Horde.

I completely loved all the wisdom lines and elaborate parables poured in by the author Michael A. Stackpole. At times it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood TV series: Kung Fu.

It’s clear that Vol’jin will leave the Shado-Pan Monastery eventually as a different person. He will find a balance in his soul, he didn’t have before. He will return home to lead his people to victory with courage, determination and a complete domination over his fears and doubts.

He’s going to be the leader his people, his family needs. The Horde must safeguard its sense of family and unity.

Among the supporting characters readers will find Li Li Stormstout and Yalia Sagewhisper. Looks like Chen Stormstout has finally found someone to give meaning to his wanderer life.

If Yalia Sagewhisper rings a bell, you are right. She can be seen in the Shado-Pan Garrison (Townlong Steppes).

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There are many interesting scenes in this book. The action is very quick paced to the point one can get overwhelmed taking everything in. By page 50, so many things had happened I couldn’t figure out where the story was heading to. I was just hooked wanting to learn more.

Vol’jin manages to have some dreams during his sleep, communing with the Loa, or receiving their visions. In one of them there is this scene of ancient Zandalari trolls making sacrifices on their altars. The sacrifices were … Aqir. Sacrifices feeding Hir’eek the Bat Loa.

Better yet, the story shifts to present time Zandalari in Pandaria, those harbored in the Isle of Thunder probably before the Alliance and Horde got there. Readers will get a brief glimpse how the first troll and first mogu united forces, and why they were later separated. The mists and the Sundering. Note: The mists were lifted by Shaohao in an attempt to protect Pandaria from the coming destruction as per the portents of the Jinyu 10,000 years ago.

The Zandalari are worried. They had planned in advance. They were confident with the support of the Loa spirits. They accounted for the Alliance and Horde presence, however the full attention of the Loa was now shared. This is something they did not expect. They don’t know who the troll be, but he is a wild card to their plans and their portents. They must eliminate this wild card, this shadow hunter distracting their power sources: Vol’jin.

The Zandalari fear this unknown troll occupying the Loa attention. The storm, the curtain disconnecting the Zandalari from the Loa might herald the birth of a troll destined to greatness. And in fact, this is no longer the old Vol’jin. Through the Shado-Pan conditioning and training this Vol’jin is reborn a new troll.

Chen Stormstout has his share of screen-time in the story, and the author alternates between both points of views. At one point, Chen Stormstout leaves the Monastery with Yalia to go in search of Li Li at the Temple of the White Tiger, but learn she has traveled to the Zouchin Village — Yalia’s family live there.

After the novel, players can find Yalia Sagewhisper at the side of Lord Taran Zhu in the Bleak Hollow (Isle of Thunder).

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This review is just the tip of the iceberg within the first 90 pages. Looks like the novel will go into the Patch 5.2 Isle of Thunder campaign — as hinted in page 106. I have so much to read and learn in this 301-pages novel.

Order the World of Warcraft: Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde (July 2, 2013).

Check out the World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects Part V review also available.

If you haven’t played World of Warcraft in a while, Blizzplanet has you covered. Check out the Patch 5.1 Landfall, Patch 5.2 Isle of Thunder and Patch 5.3 Escalation quest/dialogue transcripts and videos.

Characters

Vol’jin
Chen Stormstout
Li Li Stormstout
Keng-na (cub)
Bwonsamdi (Loa, Guardian of the Dead)
Hir’eek
Shirvallah
Lord Taran Zhu
Brother Huon-kai
Yalia Sagewhisper
Tyrathan Khort (human)
Khal’ak
Gyran’zul (youngest Zandalari shaman)
Tswen-luo (Yalia’s father at Zouchin Village, master of the fishing fleet)
Brother Kwan-ji (Shado-Pan monastery monk)
Brother Xiao (Shado-Pan Monastery monk)
Captain Nir’zan (Zandalari)
Lieutenant Trag’kal (dead Zandalari)

Mentioned
Rexxar
Rak’gor Bloodrazor
Zalazane
Master Gadrin (Witch Doctor trainer)
Bolten Vanyst (human)
Yenki and Chinwa (Yalia’s marriage candidates in her youth)
Vilnak’dor (one of the darker Zandalari Loa)
Akil’darah (Eagle Loa)
Elortha no Shadra (the Silk Dancer Loa)
Garrosh Hellscream
Larsi (female hunter following Tyrathan’s orders, dead)

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Blizzplanet Review – World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects Vol. 5

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

world-of-warcraft-dawn-of-the-aspects-part-1-coverThe conclusion of the World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects: Part V e-novella by New York TImes best selling author Richard A. Knaak has reached its conclusion and it is available today.

Book Description

The final installment in an all-new World of Warcraft e-novella series from New York Times bestselling author Richard A. Knaak!

The age of dragons is over. Uncertainty plagues Azeroths ancient guardians as they struggle to find a new purpose. This dilemma has hit Kalecgos, youngest of the former Dragon Aspects, especially hard. Having lost his great powers, how can heor any of his kindstill make a difference in the world?

The answer lies in the distant past, when savage beasts called proto-dragons ruled the skies. Through a mysterious artifact found near the heart of Northrend, Kalecgos witnesses this violent era and the shocking history of the original Aspects: Alexstrasza, Ysera, Malygos, Neltharion, and Nozdormu.

In their most primitive forms, the future protectors of Azeroth must stand united against Galakrond, a bloodthirsty creature that threatens the existence of their race. But did these mere proto-dragons face such a horrific adversary alone, or did an outside force help them? Were they given the strength they would become legendary foror did they earn it with blood? Kalecgoss discoveries will change everything he knows about the events that lead to the…dawn of the Aspects.

2013 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Blizzard Entertainment and World of Warcraft are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., in the US and/or other countries.

Review

Kalec’s mind continues his involuntary journey into the far past of Azeroth in the body of Malygos the proto-dragon.

The relic belonging to Watcher Tyr has forced him to relive Malygos’ experiences and those of the former Aspects against Galakrond.

A time before the Titans blessed them to become Dragon Aspects and guardians of the world of Azeroth.

Jaina finally infiltrates the Nexus, bypassing the ward defenses of Watcher Tyr’s relic. However, she finds a unconscious Kalec undergoing the slow process of a unnatural metamorphosis.

In the past, Galakrond has nearly exterminated the proto-dragon population, and as he feeds he continues to transform and grow to unimaginable size.

This story fleshes out how these proto-dragons came closer together fighting for survival even though they were not exactly family. Friendships are born and take deep root.

Their individual abilities working in concert against Galakrond, inspired by Watcher Tyr’s strategies.

Considering the main characters are the proto-dragons we know and love at a primal stage with a reduced intelligence and limited grasp of a language, I’m impressed Richard A. Knaak managed to write this story.

There is more action in this story than dialogue. Both are balanced by the continuous point of view of Kalec glueing together the action and the conversations for a fluid story.

Toward the end, we learn how Galakrond died in Dragonblight, and the reader is surprised by how intrepid the feat of defeating such a behemoth came to fruition.

Readers will briefly glimpse into the arrival of two Watchers of Ulduar, and what seemed to be the Titans, moments before the blessing that transformed the 5 proto-dragons into the Dragon Aspects.

Tyr, the Watcher

The final pages of the e-novella hint we haven’t seen the last of Tyr in the present era.

Tyr looked like a character who has no second thoughts on leaving his brethren in order to fulfill his purpose as protector of Azeroth. This character truly inspires. I see so many parallels with Archangel Tyrael who said: “You cannot judge me. I am justice itself! We were meant for more than this! To protect the innocent! But if our precious laws bind you all to inaction … then I will no longer stand as your brother.”

Tyr is legendary. Epic. I’m totally sold on this character, and seeing his role in Norse mythology, and his role in the inspiration for the Order of the Silver Hand, I am certain Chris Metzen and the creative team has something epic in store for players in a future expansion with Tyr playing an important role.

One doesn’t need to be a telepath to understand Blizzard’s “To be Continued” signals.

We have read about Galakrond throughout all 5 parts of the story, but some aspects of the plot were left unresolved. As per the author, this was intentional. Blizzard Entertainment has plans for the future of the World of Warcraft universe.

The new 5-part e-novella format is really good. I kept looking at the calendar awaiting the next release date to get my crave fix. A trait I used to have back in the day when waiting for the next monthly comic book. At Blizzard Creative Team: Keep’em coming!

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Blizzplanet Review – World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects Part IV

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

world-of-warcraft-dawn-of-the-aspects-part-1-coverIn Part IV of the World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects digital story, Richard A. Knaak continues the epic battle between Galakrond and the Proto-dragons who one day would become Dragon Aspects.

Best part of this chapter is that Watcher Tyr is helping the proto-drakes in battle.

In the present, Kalec is assaaulted by the artifact he found underneath Galakrond’s bones. Artifact which forces him to relive the past events through the eyes and thoughts of Malygos.

In Dalaran, Jaina searches the library for a book she remembers had studies about a similar artifact found long ago.

Readers will find in Part IV how Watcher Tyr lost his hand. This is it! This is the sacrifice remembered by the first humans throughout milennia. The legend that one day inspires the foundation of the Order of the Silver Hand.

The way this story has been split into 5-parts makes the craving for the story more impactful. Something shared by comics fans who wait eagerly for the next issue.

It is a matter of time for us now to read the last part of this story.

Many expectations ahead of us in the final part. Will we see the other Watchers? Will we see any resemblance of the human ancestors? Will we see the arrival of the Titans and the Ordering of the Dragon Aspects?

Even more important … the present. It is obvious that Tyr has come to the Nexus with a unknown mission. He chose Kalec or is testing him. As in times past, Tyr saw promise in the proto-drakes. Observed them. Tested them. Allied with them to fight a common foe.

The question is, what threat is looming in the horizon that made Tyr seek Kalec? This is not just a story mechanic to let us see Tyr and the proto-drakes.

This is New York Times Best Selling author Richard A. Knaak.

When it comes to upcoming expansions, Blizzard brings in the heavy-hitters to flesh out an epic story.

We know through Wrathion’s questline that a big threat is coming Azeroth’s way. The Burning Legion. Even more threatening. In my interview with Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson (2009) they said Sargeras is coming.

However, we know what happened last time 10,000 years ago when Sargeras attempted to enter Azeroth. How the Old gods manipulated that with the Dragon Soul.

If the Burning Legion is coming in the next expansion, the Old gods might not be too far. Could Tyr’s return in the present mean Galakrond will live again?

So many lingering questions. Hopefully, we will learn a few of them in the final part (due June 17).

World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects: Part IV can be read on Kindle , iPad, Android and on your PC/MAC internet browser with the Kindle Cloud Reader.

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Blizzplanet Review – DC Comics World of Warcraft: Dark Riders

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

I had the opportunity to read World of Warcraft: Dark Riders courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment (Thanks, Lyndsi). I had waited so long to get this Blizzard licensed product on my hands. The first time fans heard about World of Warcraft: Dark Riders was at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con. Chris Metzen, Christie Golden, and Hank Kanalz (DC Comics) showcased several upcoming products at the Warcraft, StarCraft & Diablo Swag Show Panel held there.

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It’s been a while since the launch of the original World of Warcraft ongoing comics series. The series, formerly published by Wildstorm, ended with issue # 25. The main characters seen in Dark Riders were originally introduced in the World of Warcraft Special # 1 (Dec 16, 2009). Through advanced solicitations, it was known that two new titles based on the Horde and the Alliance would be launched shortly after the World of Warcraft Special # 1. However those titles never came to see the light.

On December 16th 2009, DC Entertainment announced through IGN the World of Warcraft comics had been cancelled, as well as the already-announced Horde and Alliance titles. From that moment forward, DC Entertainment was to publish graphic novels based on World of Warcraft.

Fast forwarding into the present, the Alliance graphic novel is World of Warcraft: Dark Riders. It is on sale as of May 10th. The Horde graphic novel World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn will be available on August 13, but pre-orders are available.

Artwork

The front cover by Alex Horley and Samwise Didier (Blizzard senior art director) looks awesome in glossy paper. It’s actually a book-jacket wrapped around the book. No one will blame you if you wish to frame it. The artwork has canvas texture, or gives the impression it was painted on one.

The interior artwork by Neil Googe looks different to what we have seen so far in the World of Warcraft ongoing comics, The Ashbringer, or even Curse of the Worgen.

The landscapes look very detailed and true to the game’s locations. Some of the areas explored in this story are:

  • Goldshire (Elwynn Forest)
  • Karazhan
  • Tower of Azora
  • Westfall
  • Gold Coast Quarry
  • Darkshire
  • Duskwood
  • Mannor Mismantle (Duskwood)
  • Tranqui Gardens (Duskwood)
  • Roland’s Doom
  • Raven Hill
  • The Opera Hall (Karazhan)
  • The Menagerie (Karazhan)

I have a complaint, but that’s just me. The armor of these Alliance heroes looks too simple. More work is needed to make the printed media and the game mesh further. I would have liked to see a really cool armor set for each class, and make the same set of the characters available to players in-game in the challenge mode rewards (for example).

Story

The story begins in Goldshire where the two main characters make screen time. Mardigan is a young and reckless man sent by his father, Mage Karlain, to the Lion’s Pride Inn to get a potion from an old friend alchemist.

Readers quickly find out about several groups revolving around the core of the story: the Wolf Cult from Darkshire, The Defias Brotherhood in Westfall, and the Dark Riders of Karazhan.

In the Tower of Azora, Theocritus summons the aid of Mage Karlain. The Dark Riders have been stealing artifacts of power throughout the region. Theotricus sent the Hand of Azora artifact to Westfall, in hopes of preventing its theft, and sends Karlain there to make sure it stays secure.

The third character of the team of heroes is introduced in the midst of The People’s Militia in Sentinel Hill. A priest unlike any we have ever seen with a nasty attitude — wait, is there one of any other kind?

The story has a nice pace moving from one place to the next, giving the reader a taste of what’s going on. Each character has his own motivation, but their paths are interwoven. All paths leading to the Dark Riders and the artifacts they have stolen.

I am usually positive in my reviews, but I try the best for my fanboyism not to cloud my judgement. The title is World of Warcraft: Dark Riders. However, at the end of my read I was left with disappointment. Their origin is explained by Brink, but I don’t know who were behind the masks, or who their new master in the present is, or what the goal to hoard these artifacts is.

We do learn these Dark Riders are not related to The Lich King’s Scourge, nor related to Gul’dan and his Shadow Council. Their origin goes way back to the era where Medivh was still possessed by Sargeras. However, none of that explains who the current master of the Dark Riders is. It would have made sense for this graphic novel if the Dark Riders were serving Prince Malchezzar and the artifacts were meant for a ritual to resurrect Sargeras (for example).

Other than Karlain, very scarce information is provided about each member of this team. I don’t know where the priest came from, or what organization Brink works for. Considering he is a rogue and knows so much intel, I’d guess his organization is Ravenholdt or SI:7.

There were so many loose ends in this graphic novel, I can’t but wonder if Blizzard Entertainment intends these characters to appear in an upcoming novel, website short stories (like Project Blackstone), or even wrap up these loose ends in the next expansion. Looks like cliffhangers set there on purpose.

world-of-warcraft-dark-riders-preview-4The Scythe of Elune was in the hands of the Wolf cult. The graphic novel doesn’t really reveal much about the Wolf cult. We know the Wolf cult deserter in Goldshire had seen something among the Wolf Cult that made him flee. I keep trying to understand what this might be that scared him, but I have no answer.

We need megalomaniac villains with long speeches to understand their motives. Kinda too cookie-cutter, but better than the scene where we see Gervase with the Scythe of Elune uttering not a single word.

I have a lot of expectations, and love when those are exceeded with a great story. Especially the great stories that the Dark Riders, the Scythe of Elune and the Worgen are deserved to be fleshed out more in this graphic novel.

The World of Warcraft: Ashbringer and the Curse of the Worgen are among the top World of Warcraft comics stories I have read. Those are favorites for many fans, not just me. This graphic novel should have exceeded the previous in terms of lore. Lot of stuff we didn’t know about Mograine and what transpired in Gilneas while players accomplished missions can be learned in those two independent stories.

That’s the rough part of the review. Now let’s go into the good stuff. This team of adventurers is a wreak. They aren’t friendly with each other, but they learn they need each other if they are to survive the many foes standing between them and their goal to retrieve the stolen artifacts.

With a team like this, the author Mike Costa no doubt had a lot of fun writing their dialogues which include tones of comedy, irreverence, and gray personalities. None is truly evil, but not completely good-hearted.

Mardigan is reckless and easy to be angered if provoked. He doesn’t need to be provoked, though. He picks on people he feels might be bothersome or staring. He’s young with the heart of a fighter, and headstrong.

Karlain is headstrong and rushes in without care. Like father, like son. The mage is too confident, self-absorbed and arrogant. A secret he’s kept from his son boils at his core.

Revil is the most annoying priest I have ever seen in any printed media. One might wonder if even the Scarlet Crusade would abhor his zealotry of the Light. Revil’s family was killed by the Wolf Cult. This event darkened his beliefs to a degree where he justifies the misfortune of people around him as something the Light approves to happen. An example is a couple of soldiers in Westfall fighting for a piece of bread. One stabs the other. Mage Karlain asks Revil to heal the wounded man, but instead he walks away saying his is not a mortal wound, and the pain will serve as penance for his selfishness. Revil is truly an A-hole. I love him.

Brink is an enigmatic gnome rogue. He knows a lot of intel about who the Dark Riders are, and even about the Wolf Cult. He even has deep knowledge about dragons. He’s a box of surprises, and no doubt I might want to hear more of him in the future. But please, open the box so we can learn a bit more. Deal?

This team really needed a dwarf hunter, and a Night Elf druid. From what Brink says at the end of the story, he will meet a night elf. I am uncertain of what the timeframe of this story is in relation to the present and other events. I assume Curse of the Worgen happens after Dark Riders based on what happens at the end, but it’s hard to be certain.

Regardless, while the graphic novel didn’t fill all of my expectations, the dynamic between the characters, their grey personalities and humor makes this graphic novel a good read. If you think this is a graphic novel for kids, think again. Lot of beheading, cleaving of arms and gore.

A toast to seeing these characters again pop in upcoming novels, limited series or website short stories. I’m looking forward for the World of Warcraft: Bloodsworn graphic novel (Horde version) and more stories. My mind hungers for more Warcraft lore and action.

I rarely rate my reviews, because numbers can’t really capture my opinion. An 8.5 only tells you I didn’t find it to be perfect. There was much more the story should have revealed and focused on. On the other hand, it was a fun read and I crave to hear more about these heroes.

Get your copy of World of Warcraft: Dark Riders. PC/Mac users can read this graphic novel on Firefox or Internet Explorer by choosing the Kindle link, then ordering the Kindle Cloud Reader version. Do you have an iPad, Android tablet or Kindle? This graphic novel is available for those devices too.

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Description

A brand-new original graphic novel featuring characters from the bestselling video game franchise, World of Warcraft!

A stalwart mage searches for a powerful artifact, stolen by dark riders, only to find his son accused of murder. A righteous priest, driven by a mysterious fervor, investigates a savage Wolf Cult. As the paths of these two men join, a fantastic adventure emerges! Supported by a cast of brave heroes, the two find out just how dangerous the wolf cult and dark riders are.

Justice, Courage, and Faith: These are the pillars of the Alliance. The faction, forged in the aftermath of a brutal and bloody war, has always sought to bring light to the dark corners of the world. Every day, scores of Alliance members travel far across Azeroth, fighting for good under the faction’s banner.

Yet other heroes, like the brilliant mage Karlain, begin their battles much closer to home. When his hot-tempered son disappears after being accused of murder, Karlain embarks on a journey that will take him from the dark and misty thickets of Duskwood to the haunted tower of Karazhan. Alongside Revil, an overzealous priest haunted by the past, the pragmatic mage works to uncover a mysterious connection between his missing son and a shadowy organization known as the Wolf Cult. What Karlain and his comrade discover will put their strength and resolve to the ultimate test.

To complicate matters, the two men are harried by the Dark Riders, enigmatic bandits who prowl Duskwood and other regions in search of rare artifacts. Only through tolerance and patience can Karlain and Revil restore order to their world… and to their own lives.

Further Reading: References

The final pages of “Dark Riders” has a section devoted to pinpoint where characters or topics mentioned in the graphic novel can be traced back in printed media or in-game continuity.

A glimpse into the lives of Karlain, Mardigan, Revil, and Brink before the events of this graphic novel can be found in World of Warcraft Special # 1 by Mike Costa and Pop Mhan (It is reprinted in World of Warcraft vol. 4 and also available in digital format for the PC/Mac and tablets).

The origins of the worgen have long been one of Azeroth’s great mysteries. Details about these savage beasts and the mysterious artifact that created them are offered in World of Warcraft: Wolfheart by Richard A. Knaak; World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen by Micky Neilson, James Waugh and Ludo Lullabi; and the short story “Lord of His Pack” by James Waugh (available on the WoW website). Both Curse of the Worgen and Wolfheart are available in paperback, digital book and audiobook formats. Follow the links.

Apart from the Dark Riders, other legends abound concerning Karazhan and the infamous Medivh, former Guardian of Tirisfal. More information about the haunted tower and its prior master is revealed in Warcraft: The Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb (of Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms and Magic: The Gathering fame). Warcraft: The Last Guardian was reprinted in a volume containing several Warcraft novels. You should order the WarCraft Archive.

Marshal Dughan, the stalwart defender of Elwynn Forest, makes an appearance in World of Warcraft: Stormrage by Richard A. Knaak, when he succumbs to the dreaded Emerald Nightmare. The book is available in paperback, digital book and audiobook formats.

Characters

Karlain (mage)
Mardigan – Karlain’s son
Marshal Dughan
Tannos
Revil Kost (Priest)
Theocritus (Tower of Azora)
Commander Althea Ebonlocke
Ambrose
Gervase (Wolf cult)
Jitters
Shagra (Wolf cult)
Gorfang
Brink (Gnome rogue)
The Curator

(ONLY MENTIONED)

Warlock Morganth
Aredhel (Karlain’s deceased wife seen in a vision of the past in Karazhan)
Medivh the Last Guardian

(GROUPS)

The Defias Brotherhood (Westfall)
Wolf Cult (Darkshire)
The People’s Militia (Sentinel’s Hill, Westfall)
Guard of the Watch (Darkshire, Duskwood)

(ARTIFACTS)

The Hand of Azora
The Scythe of Elune
The Cloak of Purity

Credits

The writer of “Dark Riders” is Mike Costa. He is written The Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor (Wildstorm, 2008), G.I. Joe (2008), Transformers: All Hail Megatron (2008), Resistance (2009), Transformers: Ironhide (2010) Hack/Slash (2011), Blackhawks (2011) — to name a few.

Neil Googe is the artist behind each “Dark Riders” panel. He is penciled for several comics since 1997. Shotgun Mary: blood Lore, Judge Dredd, X-men Unlimited # 41, Majestic, Wildcats: World’s End and more.

Colorists: Pierre Matterne, Lee Loughridge & Len O’Grady.

Letterer: Wes Abbott

Story Consultants: Chris Metzen & Alex Afrasiabi, Luis Barriga & Micky Neilson.

Cover: Alex Horley & Samwise Didier

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Blizzplanet Review – World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects (Part 3)

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

The World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects: Part III (only $1.99) is now available to be read online on your PC/Mac via the Amazon Cloud or on your Kindle device, iPad or other mobile device. (Look out for Free Reading Apps for those without a Kindle device).

The big reveal: Watcher Tyr is on the spotlight.

Description

world-of-warcraft-dawn-of-the-aspects-part-1-coverTHE AGE OF DRAGONS IS OVER.

Uncertainty plagues Azeroth’s ancient guardians as they struggle to find a new purpose. This dilemma has hit Kalecgos, youngest of the former Dragon Aspects, especially hard. Having lost his great powers, how can he—or any of his kind—still make a difference in the world?

The answer lies in the distant past, when savage beasts called proto-dragons ruled the skies. Through a mysterious artifact found near the heart of Northrend, Kalecgos witnesses this violent era and the shocking history of the original Aspects: Alexstrasza, Ysera, Malygos, Neltharion, and Nozdormu.

In their most primitive forms, the future protectors of Azeroth must stand united against Galakrond, a bloodthirsty creature that threatens the existence of their race. But did these mere proto-dragons face such a horrific adversary alone, or did an outside force help them? Were they given the strength they would become legendary for…or did they earn it with blood? Kalecgos’s discoveries will change everything he knows about the events that led to the…DAWN OF THE ASPECTS

PART I

The former Dragon Aspects are on the brink of going their separate ways to forge new destinies. As Kalecgos ponders the uncertain future awaiting his kind, he uncovers a mysterious artifact that allows him to see through the eyes of his late predecessor, Malygos. Intense visions bombard Kalecgos, transporting him to a time when the original Aspects were no more than primitive proto-dragons. Across ancient Kalimdor’s northern plains, they fought for survival against each other and a terrifying creature that dominated the era: the Father of Dragons, Galakrond. But many questions remain for Kalecgos. What are the origins of this strange artifact? Are its visions a gift, or a curse?

 

Part III Highlights

The Dawn of the Aspects saga continues as Kalec has no option but to witness through Malygos’ eyes the experiences of the proto-dragons who would one day become Dragon Aspects. There are several topics to browse through in this third installment:

  • As seen in Part 1 (of 5), Kalec found a relic beneath Galakrond’s skeleton that triggered a series of flashbacks in his mind, as if the artifact had a mind of its own.

  • The flashbacks show Malygos playing detective and hunter, spying upon the proto-dragon Coros and the behemoth Galakrond.

  • Jaina Proudmoore has communicated often with Kalec in the previous Dawn of the Aspect parts, but in Part III she takes a more active role as she comes in person to the Nexus to find out what’s wrong with Kalec.

  • Unbeknownst to Kalec, while he was unconscious witnessing Malygos’ past, Jaina had found the relic within the Nexus. She identified its spellwork as that of Titan origin. Jaina has knowledge of the Keepers of Ulduar — remember this story happens shortly after the Purge of Dalaran (Patch 5.1).

  • The hooded humanoid haunting Kalec in the present and Malygos in the far past is revealed. It’s a keeper. One of Ulduar Watchers. We were right all along with the clues. It is Watcher Tyr.

  • As a continuity nod, Tyr refers to the land as Kalimdor, even though they are in Northrend. This is because The Sundering that caused the flooding of the seas and the Maelstrom is yet to happen several milennia later. The lands we know as Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms was formerly a massive continent in this time period.

  • Jaina is abruptly teleported to the skeleton of Galakrond at the spot where Kalec earlier dug the relic from. Buniq (wiki) — the spirit of the female Taunka talks to Jaina. This taunka died in the pages of Warcraft: Legends Vol. 3: Fiend (Tokyopop manga).

Review

We have read so far three parts out of a total of five in this monthly-format. I like this new format. Costs only $1.99, and keeps you hungering for more. On the other hand, reading in increments of only 30-50 pages allows you to read in one sweep, and resume your daily chores in real life and in-game.

Reading 387 pages is a daunting task that might take up to six hours or longer depending how fast people reads. So, reading it in short amounts is flexible.

In this third installment, we finally see the hooded figure. Watcher Tyr shows himself before proto-dragon Malygos. The Watcher has been able to stealth his presence even to Kalec and Jaina, who are among the top spellcasters in Azeroth.

In the far past, Tyr admits he has watched all of the proto-drakes for a long time. The other watchers keep to themselves secluded in Ulduar, without interacting much with the daily affairs of lesser creatures outside.

Tyr observes the outside world. It’s implied the Watchers have been experimenting, and Galakrond is somehow consequence of what the Watchers did or lacked to do. It’s not yet clear in Part III.

So far we know that Galakrond was the same size as any other proto-dragon, but something caused him to grow massively in size. Worser yet, he has a dark hunger that causes him to eat other proto-drakes. These are raised as no-living or undead proto-drakes after he pukes them out of his gullet — serving him as mindless drones.

I think there is much more to this than what has been revealed thus far. Keep reading Part 4 (May 20) and Part 5 (June 22).

I can’t wait to learn more about Watcher Tyr in the far past, and even more important — why is Watcher Tyr watching Kalec and showing him from afar the visions of the past? Why did Watcher Tyr teleport Jaina from Dalaran to the bones of Galakrond?

It all seems as if something dire from the past is about to happen in the near future, and Watcher Tyr requires the help of mortals. Doesn’t it all sounds like a groundwork for the upcoming unannounced expansion? Hint: BlizzCon 2013 might announce the next World of Warcraft expansion.

The Battle Rages On

Located at the final page of Part III is read:

“The Cataclysm changed Azeroth and its myriad peoples in many ways. Dawn of the Aspects depicts the uncertainty that now plagues the ancient dragons. But what lies ahead for the world’s other races?

In World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, you can help shape this next chapter in Azeroth’s history. Become one of the first members of the Horde or the Alliance to explore the mysterious and exotic continent of Pandaria. Or take on the role of a noble pandaren (WoW’s latest playable race) and join the Horde or the Alliance, depending on which faction aligns more with your ideals. Regardless of the side you choose, your adventures will impact Azeroth in the years to come.

With the dragons forging new destinies for themselves, the task for safeguarding the world from evil has fallen to mortal hands — your hands. Will you rise to the challenge?

To dicover the ever-expanding realm that has entertained millions around the globe, go to WorldofWarcraft.com and download the free trial version. Live the story.”

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Blizzplanet Review – World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects – Part II

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Product Reviews, Blizzard Products News, Blizzplanet Reviews, World of Warcraft News

The World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects: Part II will be available to fans on Monday, March 18th. Order it now, and get an alert when it’s ready for download on your favorite mobile OS or on your favorite internet browser.

Review

I find amusing Richard A. Knaak’s way to tell the story. It’s as if we, the readers, were a passenger on Kalec’s mind — who in turn is a passenger on Malygos’ mind and eyes.

I have to admit it’s hard to review pieces of a story, one piece at a time, instead of the whole story. Part II of Dawn of the Aspects leaves more questions than answers. The hooded figure appears several times throughout the story, but still no trace of who this humanoid might be to be confirmed. What some fans have speculated is this character might be Ulduar Watcher Tyr, but so far there is no evidence to support the theory.

The origin of the undead proto-dragons is still a mystery — other than these are the proto-dragons swallowed, then puked lifeless by Galakrond. We learn Galakrond was like the other proto-dragons, but no answers on how he became into a hulking behemoth. I have read fans speculation that the Old gods might have something to do with that.

In this era, there were several proto-dragons of colors we aren’t aware of, but there were also other smaller proto-dragons that Malygos considered as lesser animals without their intellect which needed to be herded and protected. Interesting.

Jaina appears, a couple of times, communicating with Kalec through their magical link.

Coros the blue-green proto-dragon appears often, and we might learn why Malygos distrusts him, with good reason.

We learn the brown proto-dragon’s identity: Nozdormu. Alexstrasza, Ysera and Neltharion have plenty of screen time in Part II.

I find it interesting that Richard A. Knaak explores the close friendship between Malygos and Neltharion in this early age of Azeroth. Remember, Neltharion wasn’t a dragon aspect in this age, and thus he wasn’t the earth-warder yet to have been corrupted by the Old gods.

That doesn’t mean Neltharion didn’t have his cunning and core personality in the baggage back then.

Something revealed in Part I, the proto-dragons were born in batches of three. Alexstrasza and Ysera were born from the same hatch of eggs. A third male brother was born. He seems to have died, devoured by Galakrond.

I recommend to read part II, even when our questions aren’t addressed yet. That’s mostly a byproduct of the story being split into a 5-part online book. The third installment will be available on April 22, 2013.

Characters

Zorix – shining golden proto-dragon
Talonixa – Zorix’s female mate
Coros – blue-green proto-dragon
Nozdormu
Alexstrasza
Neltharion
Malygos
Ysera
Kalec
Jaina
Galakrond

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Description – World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects – Part I

THE AGE OF DRAGONS IS OVER.

Uncertainty plagues Azeroth’s ancient guardians as they struggle to find a new purpose. This dilemma has hit Kalecgos, youngest of the former Dragon Aspects, especially hard. Having lost his great powers, how can he—or any of his kind—still make a difference in the world?

The answer lies in the distant past, when savage beasts called proto-dragons ruled the skies. Through a mysterious artifact found near the heart of Northrend, Kalecgos witnesses this violent era and the shocking history of the original Aspects: Alexstrasza, Ysera, Malygos, Neltharion, and Nozdormu.

In their most primitive forms, the future protectors of Azeroth must stand united against Galakrond, a bloodthirsty creature that threatens the existence of their race. But did these mere proto-dragons face such a horrific adversary alone, or did an outside force help them? Were they given the strength they would become legendary for . . . or did they earn it with blood? Kalecgos’s discoveries will change everything he knows about the events that led to the . . . DAWN OF THE ASPECTS.

PART I

The former Dragon Aspects are on the brink of going their separate ways to forge new destinies. As Kalecgos ponders the uncertain future awaiting his kind, he uncovers a mysterious artifact that allows him to see through the eyes of his late predecessor, Malygos. Intense visions bombard Kalecgos, transporting him to a time when the original Aspects were no more than primitive proto-dragons. Across ancient Kalimdor’s northern plains, they fought for survival against each other and a terrifying creature that dominated the era: the Father of Dragons, Galakrond. But many questions remain for Kalecgos. What are the origins of this strange artifact? Are its visions a gift, or a curse?

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PART II

Powerful visions of history torment Kalecgos, forcing him to witness Galakrond’s brutality firsthand. The ravenous beast terrorizes ancient Kalimdor, consuming everyone in his path. The original Aspects and other proto-dragons struggle to temper their savage rivalries long enough to make a stand against their merciless enemy, but their efforts might prove useless. A horrific new threat is rising from Galakrond’s shadow: the undead. Apart from this chilling discovery, Kalecgos is troubled by a mysterious hooded figure from the distant past who appears in the present, pushing the blue dragon’s sanity to the breaking point.

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Excerpt

Malygos flew alone again, the proto-dragon warier than ever. Thanks to images flashing through Malygos’s mind, Kalec quickly understood why. The proto-dragon flew over lands to the east, where there had been several sightings of the not-living. However, as with many other things in previous visions, the exact reason why Malygos was scouting on his own was not so apparent.

As with the last area the proto-dragon had flown over, the landscape below appeared empty of animal life. However, in this bleak place, neither Kalec nor his host had expected to see many beasts. Still, Kalec gathered that Malygos had seen absolutely nothing.

Alighting on a low peak, Malygos peered around. More thoughts crept through Kalec’s mind, filling in some missing pieces. Malygos sought the reason for Galakrond’s frightful transformation into this hungry fiend terrorizing all, and he sought it very near where the behemoth kept his lair.

Kalec questioned the sanity of what Malygos desired but had no choice but to hope that Galakrond was far, far away. Malygos believed that to be the case, but both were aware that there was a chance he was wrong.

Malygos’s heart pounded from tension as the proto-dragon drew nearer to where the lair was presumed to be. The peaks there were so tall it seemed that they were trying to touch the cloud-enshrouded sun. Such giant mountains would be likely to provide caverns large enough to house a monster the size of Galakrond.

Something below caught Malygos’s attention. He dived toward it. At first, Kalec saw only rock, but then he realized that a portion of that rock was of a disquieting and familiar color.

The bones had lain there for some time, possibly four or five seasons. Those that were visible indicated a beast as large as many proto-dragons—or, as Malygos discovered after scraping away the earth from one area, it was an actual proto-dragon.

This one had perished violently. Many of the bones were cracked, and the partial skull that verified just what lay there had been crushed by a tremendous force.

Galakrond, Kalec knew. Here was an early victim. While to him it only served to show just how long Galakrond had been on his murderous rampage, Malygos evidently saw something more in the bones.

Although no one had yet witnessed how Galakrond reduced some of his victims to emaciated corpses that would rise as parasitic undead, the evidence of their existence was without question after Malygos’s battles. Yet Kalec now wondered, if this was one of the leviathan’s prey, why had it not transformed as the others had?

Silence reigned about them, but something made Malygos look to his right. To Kalec’s observation, there was nothing to see. Even a proto-dragon as courageous as Malygos could not be blamed for being jumpy under such conditions.

Returning to the bones, Malygos nudged a few around. With little exception, they revealed that Galakrond had ripped apart and chewed up this unfortunate creature. Malygos’s memories of a much smaller but still imposing Galakrond briefly arose, giving Kalec a startling glimpse of how the latter had changed. Galakrond as seen in the earlier stage had looked much more like a normal proto-dragon and not nearly large enough to swallow others whole. His body also had had a smoother, streamlined appearance. His coloring had been more muted, and the eyes had not had that incessant hungering look to them.

Malygos continued to ferret around among the bones, seeking clues. It was yet another hint—not that Kalec needed one—of how intricate his host’s thinking was compared with that of many of the other proto-dragons.

Somehow, he survived, the disembodied blue thought. Somehow, some of them survived… but how?

The proto-dragon tensed again. This time, Malygos looked skyward.

To the east, a shape already far too massive to be a normal proto-dragon raced toward the mountains—and Malygos’s position.

The mountains were too far away for Malygos to reach before he would be seen. Kalec’s host had no choice but to flatten himself out where he was. His coloring did not blend with the land, but the hope was that Galakrond would not fly near enough to notice.

A constant, heavy beat preceded Galakrond, the sound of his vast wings flapping. Malygos knew that with each beat, the gigantic proto-dragon crossed miles. The beat grew louder, closer. Malygos and Kalec knew that Galakrond was almost upon them.

But then the beat began to recede. Through narrowed eyes, Malygos watched Galakrond head away from him and toward the mountains. However, just as the icy-blue proto-dragon dared draw a new breath, Galakrond halted. Hovering, the behemoth suddenly began heaving as if choking on something.

Neither Malygos nor Kalec paid much mind at first to whatever assailed Galakrond, the giant creature’s physical appearance drawing their initial attention. Although it could not have been that long since the vision in which they had previously encountered Galakrond, Kalec was especially stunned by how much more misshapen the fiend had become. Not only was Galakrond oddly distorted, but he now had several growths randomly dotting his body. There were also a number of gray splotches that made it seem as if parts of Galakrond were decaying.

But just as Malygos and Kalec came to grips with this new, deformed Galakrond, the monster disgorged what had caused him such distress.

Bodies. More than a score of shriveled, limp proto-dragon bodies. They dropped in a horrendous heap to the ground, some flopping about as they struck. Malygos radiated immense distress at the sight, not only because of the awful slaughter but also because among the limp forms, he saw red, brown, gray, and even greenish-yellow bodies.