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Theramore No More

September 18, 2012

Well, here we are, exactly a week before Mists of Pandaria and the super exciting pre-launch event is happening right now in Theramore!  /sarcasm

I don’t even know how to begin to express my disappointment with the Theramore scenario.  I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.

*EDIT:  Oh yeah, there’s probably some spoilers in this here post.  Proceed with caution if you’re the type to care about such things.

Before logging on I checked out the items list on MMO Champion to see what sorts of goodies drop from the Theramore scenario.  I was hoping for some cool pre-launch memento, and perhaps some neat transmog gear.  So imagine my disappointment when I saw that all the gear uses old, boring, ugly models.  The only item that might possibly be worth getting is the Archmage’s Staff, and even that’s a reused model.  The chances of getting an item also seem really slim, since they drop from goodie bags and not bosses.  Well, at least the Mini Mana Bomb and the Theramore Tabard are kinda cool.

When I logged on I was greeted by the excited cries of friends asking me to run Theramore with them.  Of course I wanted to!  This was the big event, and I was excited to learn the story behind Theramore’s fall!  Three of us queued together and… we ran around, killed some mobs, charged some bombs, killed more mobs, destroyed some machines, killed more mobs, and rescued a Blood Elf.  Then watched a cut scene of some bomb being dropped on Theramore.  So… wait?  What just happened here?  I had absolutely no idea.  So I thought, well, maybe one of the NPCs explained everything in the chat window and I just missed it.  So I scrolled up to look.  Here is what I gathered:

–  There has been a siege on Theramore, but it failed for some reason.
–  We need to set bombs, kill a flightmaster, destroy some war machines and rescue a spy.
– The failed siege was a distraction.
– A bomb was dropped on Theramore.

Ok, so, WTF?  This raises more questions than it answers.  I still have no idea what just happened or why.

Now, first of all, let me just say that destroying Theramore makes perfect sense from a military perspective. You have this isolated enemy fortress right next door, providing a base from which an attack could be launched at any time.  It is a crucial part of the Alliance supply line.  If the Alliance were to launch a full scale attack the Horde could end up fighting a war on two fronts in Kalimdor: the Night Elves and Draenei in the northwest and the Humans in the south.

However, Theramore has been allowed to exist.  There has been a tacit sort of truce for years.  Jaina may not be an ally to the Horde, but she’s been almost a friend.  Granted, she was friends with Thrall, not Garrosh, and I could see Garrosh thinking, “Hey, we’re at war with the Humans, why are we allowing this Human settlement to exist?”  But the thing is… it took him an inexplicably long time to make a move on Theramore if that was the case.  Under Garrosh the Horde claimed a lot of Alliance territory, but for some reason it didn’t go after Theramore.  In order for any of this to make sense there has to be a reason why.  Is it because he always intended to, but the threat of Deathwing forced him to put his plans on the back burner?  Is it because it was not a politically popular decision?  After all, the Tauren had diplomatic relations with Theramore so they might have originally opposed an attack, but since when does Garrosh care about the sensibilities of his allies?  And of course, the destruction of Camp Taurajo would have been the perfect justification for retribution, but no, Garrosh waited.  You’d think that if destroying Theramore were a priority then delaying it’s destruction would have to be justified.  And if attacking Theramore was politically unpopular then Garrosh would have to come up with some justification for attacking it now.

But no, instead we get the sense that Garrosh woke up one morning and thought to himself, “Oh yeah, Theramore.  Let’s obliterate that.  Should be fun.  LOL”

So, ok, fine, there’s a siege.  When did this siege begin?  How long has it been going on?  Who knows!  Also, this isn’t really a siege, it’s a fake siege, to serve as a distraction.  Ok… Now, call me crazy, but I would think that a real siege would actually be pretty distracting, but whatever.  I guess we don’t really want to starve these humans before we kill them all with a giant bomb (?!), so we’ll let some supplies through and maybe lose some skirmishes and just keep them occupied until the bomb arrives.

I guess the objectives they give us to complete in the scenario make some sense.  We’ll bomb their ships and kill their flight master so no one can escape, ok, that seems logical.  Then we’ll destroy their war machines.  Not sure why we do that.  Maybe so they can’t drive away and escape that way?  Then we rescue our spy so he doesn’t get bombed, and hey, he might have some information for us, so that seems like a good idea.

But wait… Who is this spy?  How did he infiltrate Theramore?  What information was he supposed to be gathering?  We’re never told.

There is no STORY here!  We are told nothing about this important event that’s supposed to advance the plot and move us into the next expansion.  There’s no gear upgrades.  There’s no cool transmog or flavor items.  (Unless you count fireworks, woo.)  It’s far too easy.  There’s no replay value here.  I am left with a resounding, “Meh.”

So I ran the Alliance version to see if it was any better, and honestly, I think it was.  The Alliance side doesn’t suffer from story issues to quite the same extent.  It’s like, “OMG, surprise attack that destroyed Theramore!  Let’s regroup!” and that works for me, since that’s all your character would know at that point.  You clear the remaining Horde out of the city and protect Jaina while she does some magic defusing of the MacGuffin bomb.  Through this you learn that the Nexus Focusing Iris is somehow fueling the bomb.  (How did the Horde get the Focusing Iris?  That’s never explained.)  I also found the Alliance version to be more difficult than the Horde version, though that might be because my Hunter is not as well geared, and I was running it with two Rogues so we had no heals available.  I also think the tabard is a bit cooler than the mini mana bomb, so there is that.  But still… it’s not a very exciting event, and I don’t think it has replay value.  I’m really disappointed.

Then this morning I see this Blizzard tweet on MMO Champion:

Theramore scenario completely underwhelming compared to other pre expansion events. It’s Meh.
Was never meant to be a world event. It’s the first Scenario of the game. Tons more content coming next week!

WTF?  Turns out, this isn’t the pre-expansion event.  In fact, there is no pre-expansion event!  Who knew?!  And Blizzard seems kinda surprised that the players expected a pre-expansion event.  I mean, it’s not like every other past expansion has had a major pre-expansion event, so why would we have assumed there would be one?  /sarcasm

Part of the reason I’m irritated about this is because my husband just started playing WoW this month.  His first character is currently level 82.  I had told him that there would be a pre-expansion event that’s usually a lot of fun and gives you cool flavor items and achievements that you’ll never be able to get again, and suggested he should do as much of it as possible for his level.  Now it turns out that there’s nothing happening, and the only scenario available requires him to be max level with an ilvl of 353.  And it probably isn’t worth his time trying to get geared up to see it since it doesn’t drop anything that looks cool, doesn’t give you any story, and he can just run it at level 90 later anyway.  I am really disappointed on his behalf as well as my own.

I generally think that Blizzard gets more right than it gets wrong, but I think they really dropped the ball on this one.  Because, let’s face it, there are many possible reasons to attack Theramore, and Blizzard didn’t bother giving us any.  They should have known that the players expected a big pre-launch event and they didn’t give us one.  WTF were they thinking?

Oh, and before people start commenting that I need to read the book to get the story behind the siege of Theramore, just let me say that a) I don’t think that I should have to buy a book and go outside of game to have an in-game event explained to me, and b) I don’t want to read the WoW books.  Call me a literature elitist if you want, but I do not believe that these books can possibly be any good.  I’ve also heard from friends who have read it that this particular novel is not very well-written, with stilted, unbelievable dialogue and frustratingly few justifications/motivations behind Garrosh’s actions.

So, since Blizzard seems incapable of writing their own stories, I’m going to take the unfolding story on the Warchief’s Command Board as my personal “head canon” from now on.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2012 3:38 pm

    I’m not sure what kind of books you are used to reading, but I haven’t read any other wow books except Tides of War.

    I loved it.

    Slice IS a book snob, and he liked the novel. Like me, he couldn’t put it down.

    I would suggest reading it because it is a fairly quick book. It also helps a lot with the whole Theramore issue.

    • September 18, 2012 3:52 pm

      Even if it were the best novel ever, I still don’t think I should have to buy it to find out what’s going on in game. Sure, if I want to find out more detail give me the option of buying the book. But throw us enough in-game crumbs to figure out the gist of things.

  2. Calbry permalink
    September 18, 2012 4:21 pm

    I’m with you, Khizz.

    Fine with additional materials — books, graphic novels, even movies (someday) — that *tie into* the in-game story, but not that replace key parts of the *in-game story*.

    And no, the WoW books aren’t all that great. Christie Golden is my favorite of the lore authors and I thought she did a good job with the Arthas novel, but all their works are constrained by the years of already-established canon they have to work with. I read them to have a better sense of what’s going on in the game, definitely not because they’re literature 🙂

    • September 18, 2012 4:37 pm

      It’s nice that the tie-in novels exist as supplementary material, but you have it exactly right — it shouldn’t replace the in-game story.

      I think of tie-in novels as a sort of “light fluff” reading, — which is fine, there’s a time and place for light reading — but I generally don’t want to spend money on such things. If I were to drag my butt down to the library and read them for free that might make it more palatable for me. It just really bothers me that they expect me to shell out extra money on mediocre literature in order to get story that should be available in-game.

  3. September 18, 2012 4:42 pm

    It was what I sort of expected from a Scenario – something fast and a little fun. I don’t get the impression they are supposed to have a lot of replay value. More of just “something to do with a few friends” type of thing.

    Yeah, where’s my staff?? 😀

    • September 18, 2012 4:55 pm

      The scenario format isn’t what I have a problem with. It’s about what I expected from a glorified group quest. It’s the way they handled the story and the lack of any world event for pre-launch that annoys me.

      • corhi permalink
        September 18, 2012 7:52 pm

        and the lack of any world event for pre-launch that annoys me.”

        Especially considering they’ve been saying since last December that “The launch event will be similar in magnitude to what we did for Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade.”–and this from Ghostcrawler!

  4. corhi permalink
    September 18, 2012 7:58 pm

    Can’t agree with this post more. In 9 months they’ve gone from “similar in magnitude” and “The pre-launch events are definitely story-driven.” to “Yeah, you guys misunderstood, there’s not supposed to be any events this time.”

    It appears by “story-driven” they nowadays mean “The story was told in the books, you guys who play just get to see the aftermath.” It’s the same mistake they made with Cata and The Shattering; Cairne, Magni, and the Council of Three Hammers were all told on paper, we only got to log in and discover something had changed. (Then to add insult to injury, they gave players a questline to help -Magatha- of all people get a superweapon. >_<)

    • September 18, 2012 8:07 pm

      Oh, don’t get me started on Magatha! I’m a peaceful Tauren at heart, but I couldn’t bring myself to quest through the new Thousand Needles because there’s no way I’m helping Magatha with anything but a swift death!

      You know, they could have salvaged this scenario by giving us a short quest line leading up to Theramore. As it is, we just get thrown into the end of the story and nothing is ever explained. I just don’t understand how they’re making these decisions.

      • corhi permalink
        September 18, 2012 8:19 pm

        There was an Alliance “could have been” version posted as a comment on WoW Insider’s walkthrough post yesterday; basically start us Allies off defending Theramore in the siege, pulling back into the Tower, jump through a portal to get out, then drop back in just after the bomb goes off to help Jaina get the Iris out.

        To be fair, as a stand-alone scenario, it’s pretty decent and I have no issues. But it’s not stand-alone, it was super-hyped as “this is what’s going to make the Alliance’s sleeping dog wake up and take notice” but then it didn’t follow through. I agree if they’d had some Command Board quests it would have helped tie it in.

      • September 19, 2012 7:41 am

        Don’t get YOU started on Magatha??

      • September 19, 2012 12:35 pm

        Garrosh: I don’t envy you your time travel troubles, but at least you were able to kill Magatha in the alternate timeline. That makes the whole thing worth it.

    • corhi permalink
      September 18, 2012 8:20 pm

      In an unrelated note, I can’t wait to try the tabard out in transmog, though, it’s one of the more handsome ones I’ve seen.

  5. September 18, 2012 10:15 pm

    My disappointment with the scenario was that it was too short. I did read the book and a lot of the scenario was not in the book, save for the mana bomb and Thalen. I thought the book painted a better picture of the whole Fall of Theramore. I do like the mini mana bomb, though…can’t have too many toys clogging up our bags, right? =)

    • September 18, 2012 11:42 pm

      I don’t expect scenarios to be long in general, because they’ve been described as a sort of instanced group quest. But you’d think that this being something as important as the destruction of Theramore, and the only pre-launch event we’re getting, they might have made it a little longer or more engaging. And if they didn’t want to lengthen the scenario itself, I think they could have told more of the story through a short quest chain. Even if it was one of those things where the lore junkies get to scroll through multiple pages of exposition while everyone else just hits accept it would have been better. Or maybe have more voice acting within the scenario itself… perhaps an NPC following us around and helping us fight and commenting on what we were doing. Seriously, I could come up with probably 50 different ways to have done this better.

      But you’re right — we can never have too many toys! 😀

  6. September 19, 2012 6:53 am

    Haven’t done it yet and after reading all the posts I am in no hurry. What I am sad about is the lack of a pre-expansion event. I think I’m gong to get out my Haunted Memento and carry it around in protest.

    • September 19, 2012 12:38 pm

      Well, at least you’re not going into it with high expectations now! It doesn’t take long to run, maybe 10 minutes tops, so it’s probably worth doing just for the sake of the Feat of Strength you get for running it at 85. (The queue times can be a bit long though, so maybe round up a couple of friends so you can skip the queue.)

      I wish I had a Haunted Memento. Sadly, that was before my time. 😦

  7. Calbry permalink
    September 19, 2012 9:37 am

    @Garrosh Hellscream – that comment made my day 🙂

    • September 19, 2012 11:14 pm

      I am nothing if not all about spreading good cheer and merriment. And surreptitious mana-infused war crimes. Either/or. YMMV.

      • September 20, 2012 1:01 am

        I’m actually surprised you went with mana-infused. I thought rage was more your thing.

      • September 20, 2012 1:05 am

        Nah, rage is for the heat of battle. War crimes are best served cold. With a side order of arcane radioactivity.

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