[personal profile] jadedmusings
jadedmusings: (Sherlock - Funny little brains)
(This is a copy of something I posted elsewhere. There'll be more ranting from me later about the entire problem with Thalen Songweaver and the characterizations of Horde leaders.)

I suppose from the title it's rather easy to conclude what my opinion was of the in-game event in which Theramore is destroyed. This isn't to say I that I completely hate everything about it, though I guess given that I feel it fails mechanically, lore-wise, and in execution it might seem that way. However, I love the idea of Theramore and feel that, in the right hands, it could have been utterly amazing and a dramatic prologue to Mists of Pandaria that would establish the tone for the newest expansion.

So, what went wrong? Everything, and allow me to break it down into sections because that is the only way I feel I can climb this mountain of fail.

(Note: This post will, unsurprisingly, contain spoilers, both for the Theramore scenario and for Tides of War. Read at your own risk.)

Context and Lore

There was no context. For both Horde and Alliance versions of the Scenario (Blizzard's fancy term for this new three-player feature to differentiate it from five-player instances/dungeons) there is no lead-in quest. You are dropped into the zone with a list of goals or steps to complete on the right hand side of your screen. Horde side there's an NPC delivering a speech, which I missed the first time because the group I was with were two eager beavers who just rushed on ahead while I stumbled around going "What's going on?" My second run through I was able to actually listen/read his speech, but all it told me was that the Horde was attacking Theramore and that there were some ships that needed exploding.

Here's the thing: We aren't told why the Horde is attacking Theramore, and had I not read Tides of War, I would have absolutely zero idea as to what the hell was going on or why we had to rescue a blood elf. Our little quest log on the side only says how many bombs you need to rig or which NPC you need to kill next. And when you get to the end where you're forced to release Thalen Songweaver, you're treated to a short cinematic of a goblin dropping a mana bomb and destroying Theramore. That's it. Now, if I had not read Tides of War I would think that this was something every member of the Horde enjoyed and supported that we'd gone in and attacked Theramore for no good reason whatsoever apart from the fact that we're Horde and we're, you know, the bad guys, and as a role-player, I would be having a severe identity crisis right now (okay, maybe not for all of my Horde toons).

The scenario fails to establish that Baine, Vol'jin, Sylvanas, and (I hope) Lor'Themar are completely unaware of the existence of the mana bomb or aware of Garrosh's plans beyond his desire to take out Theramore. We aren't informed or made aware that Baine and Vol'jin are hesitant about the attack, nor do you know that Baine sent a messenger ahead of the attack to warn Jaina so that she could marshal a defense as well as evacuate children and other citizens who either couldn't or didn't wish to join in the fight. As for Thalen Songweaver, Garrosh's mole in the Kirin Tor who gleefully cackles like every bad 80's cartoon villain ever and informs you of the real plan, you're given no choice but to save him, and that's if you're remotely aware of the fact that he's a traitor. (And I have so much to say about Thalen Songweaver that I will be making an entirely separate post on him when time allows)

At the end of the scenario, you're given a portal by Thalen back to Orgrimmar, and then you get to watch a goblin giggle maniacally while he drops the bomb on Theramore. The only conclusion anyone who hasn't read the book can possibly draw is, "Boy, we're all a bunch of dicks." And, without the book tie-in, there would be no way I could, as much as I love the Horde, remotely refute that.

Mechanics

I mentioned the little quest log you get on the right side of the screen when you zone in. It's not terribly informative, though the minimap and a few markers in the game help provide a few views. Now, according to the recent patch hotfix information, the enemies in Theramore have had their health doubled since Monday's launch, so I can't say if this has changed things, but going through on a Dragon Soul-geared toon was a faceroll for the most part. There was no challenge, which made it utterly dull. The difficulty might change after Mists of Pandaria launches on September 25 and it becomes a level 90 scenario with a required item level of 425, but if that's the case, I think I would have preferred waiting to see this.

And yes, I do get that the scenarios are supposed to be faster than instances, but fast doesn't have to mean "so easy I could do it with my eyes shut."

Execution

For holiday bosses we are offered quest-givers who give us a short paragraph telling us something's amiss, and it's finished off with a short request to go take care of the big bad like the good heroes we are. Then you're told to queue. When I logged in Monday afternoon, I expected something similar for Theramore. The only reason I knew I could queue at all was that I, of course, read the news and follow official WoW Twitter feeds. Had Blizzard put in a single NPC for both Horde and Alliance with a simple paragraph of explanation as to what was going on, my whole spiel up there about context could be cut down to only my complaints about the exclusion of crucial points of lore.

That aside, this is an event that, quite literally, alters the landscape of Azeroth and is laying the foundation for the upcoming conflict between the Horde and Alliance that will play out through Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard has, in their wisdom, limited participation to max level characters with an ilevel of 353 (425 after September 25). While I understand this as they gave the scenario some degree of difficulty, this entire event is crucial to the story leading into Mists, not to mention its importance to the respective factions. Limiting participation as well as excluding any explanation either provided from a quest giver or within the scenario itself has completely rendered the entire Scenario as utterly pointless because, by itself, it explains nothing except to tell us the Horde is just a giant bag of dicks (it's not, but I can't blame people for thinking it more than usual after going through that event).

The Good

Remember at the beginning I said I liked the idea of Theramore? I wasn't just saying that. I do love it. See, we knew going in that Mists was supposed to bring the focus back on the conflict between Alliance and Horde. And being that this is World of Warcraft, it's important to consider military strategy when waging any war, including those of the fantasy sort.

In the book it's established that Garrosh wishes to quit pussy footing around and officially declare war on the Alliance. Initially, he says he wants to take over Kalimdor, or to remove the Alliance threat in Kalimdor. Theramore, by virtue of its position and the very fact it was used to bring Alliance troops in to destroy Camp Taurajo, poses a definite threat to the Horde. Despite the fact it won't make the Alliance happy, taking out Theramore is actually rather sound strategy on Garrosh's part (as much as I hate to admit it). His approach on the other hand...not quite so sound, and I know that his methods were also meant to stir dissension in the Horde ranks.

At any rate, Theramore does make for an excellent kick off to a Horde versus Alliance war. Of course, there's also Horde holdings in the Eastern Kingdoms that are equally as vulnerable to Alliance retaliation (and I will be both very surprised and very sorry if we don't see any such event play out at some point in Mists). Sadly, the story and this new event just couldn't live up to the hype after Blizzard's total bungling of it.
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Wrathful and Unrepentant Jade

December 2013

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