Saturday, June 15, 2013

Game Review: World of Warcraft - The Darkspear Rebellion

By Bixyl Shuftan

(Note, the article has some spoilers about what happens in this World of Warcraft adventure)

The biggest Multiplayer Online Game, World of Warcraft, recently went though a few changes in the form of a "patch." Patch 5.3, also known as "Escalation." There are four new scenarios players can play out, two of which are aimed at one of the factions, one Horde, one Alliance. Two new battlegrounds for player vs player action. There's new PvP gear and some Pet Battle and Brawler's Guild Tweaks. But the biggest feature is the Darkspear Rebellion.

For those who don't remember much about the game in it's earlier days, the Horde used to be led by Orcish Warchief Thrall. Thrall valued peace with the Alliance and the freedom of the Horde's peoples. But when Azeroth was threatened with being torn apart in the Cataclysm, Thrall steped down to help stop it as a shaman. In his place, he appoints Garrosh Hellscream as the new Orc and Horde leader. But unlike Thrall, Hellscream sees little need to negotiate for what can be taken by force, and refuses to listen to the Orcs' allies. His brutal ways lead to increased conflict with the Alliance, and the alienation of the other peoples of the Horde who see him more and more as a tyrant.

With opposition against him increasing, Garrosh brands the the Trolls of the Horde, the Darkspear, as traitors, rounding up those still in the Orc capital Ogrimmar and moves against them elsewhere in the province of Durotar (the home province to the Orcs and trolls). The Troll leader Vol'jin responds by declaring open rebellion, dubbed the Darkspear Rebellion.

Both Horde and Alliance players can take part in quest chains, Horde players as part of the rebellion, and Alliance players aiding it. Level 90 players will get a letter in the mail from Lorewalker Cho, and upon entering the Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria will see him waving at them from Mogu'shan Palace. Talking to him, the player hears about actions concerning the Alliance and the Horde, and sends out the player in two scenarios via his "dream brew" on a nearby table: "Blood in the Snow," and "The Warchief and the Darkness." Normally playable by just one faction, in this case the opposite one can do so as well, Horde players in "Blood" disguised as humans, and Alliance ones in "Darkness" taking on the guise of Goblins.

Following the revelations, Cho will send the player off. For Horde players, they head to Duartor and to Sen'jin Village. Vol'jin is there, among with Chen Stormstout and Thrall. Thrall has finally had enough of Hellscream, and is aiding the effort against him.

Speaking to Vol'jin, the player hears about the rebellion, and will be asked to gather resources from the Northern Barrens to help supply it. These resources are in camps set up by Hellscream's Kor'kron, once elite soldiers of the Horde now Hellscream's personal army, loyal only to him and determined to carry out his will (see later in the article on more how to get the resources). After the player returns to the village, the place is attacked by the Kor'kron.

After the player helps defeat the assault, Thrall heads off to convince some Orc leaders to more actively support the rebellion. Vol'jin will launch a counterattack north to Razor Hill. There, the player has to free several captives (dissident Orcs are among the Trolls), in addition to defeating three elite NPC enemies, a gunman, a shaman, and a Lvl 92 axe-wielding melee fighter. Speaking to the NPC Zulu de Voice just outside the town will provide a healing buff that without defeating them single-handed is nearly impossible. Even with it, players may need to team up to defeat them.

After the battle, Horde players will see a scene between Vol'jin and the Tauren leader Baine Bloodhoof, discussing the future of the rebellion.

For Alliance players, they can take a shortcut to Duartor via a teleporter at the upper level on the Summer Terrace (the Alliance hub in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms), which takes them to the town of Ratchet in the Southern Barrens. Flying to above the defenses south of Ogrimmar, they'll see two Alliance agents, who will ask them to help scout for intelligence. Once they find out just how badly Hellscream and Vol'jin have fallen out, the player is send as an emissary to contact them. After talking to the Troll leader, the player is offered a chance to show his good intentions by getting some supplies from the Kor'kron camps in the Barrens and delivering them to the insurrection.

Following these quests, both Horde and Alliance players will be asked by Chen Stormstout to return to Pandaria to Mount Neverest in the Kun-Lai Summit to talk to an old seer about some answers to questions about Pandaria's situation. Meeting up with him, he accompanies the player up the mountain. Once they reach Seeker's Point, the seer will reveal his true identity, why Pandaria was hidden from the world, and how that is relevant to the current situation, "Only by working together can we overcome the darkness."

Horde and Alliance players can continue to gather supplies in a weekly "Battlefied: Barrens" quest. The player needs to gather 150 units each of lumber, stone, oil, and meat. These can be gathered at four camps in the Northern Barrens. Players can gather them by clobbering Kor'kron guards or the workers helping them or swiping crates and slabs of meat there. One can also get meat from slain wolf mounts.

There are two quicker ways to get resources. One is by escorting caravans of goods. Multiple players are needed to ensure the caravans survive the attacks by Kor'kron raiders. Once it reaches it's destination, the player gets rewarded with surplus supplies. You can also get supplies by taking down elite Kor'kron commanders, but they're too tough to fight alone. It takes a team to defeat them. One can also get supplies by overturned Kor'kron caravans, announced in Barrens chat when these events happen. But only if you can get them before they're recovered.

Rewards include new titles, "Darkspear Revolutionary" for Horde Players, and "Hordebreaker" for Alliance, some high level gear from some of the quests, and the "Radical Mojo" rewards from the weekly Barrens quests can be combined with "Latent Kor'kron armor" you get either from battle or the Darkspear Quartermaster into items with "randomized stats that may have some unexpected results that you won't be able to get from other gear."

The Darkspear Rebellion won't last forever. Eventually another patch will close these events, "where the story will continue beyond the Barrens and take the next step toward what could be a historic shift in power."

So players of WoW, whether you're "For the Horde" or "For the Alliance," get into the action while you can in this turning point in Azeroth's history.

Sources: BlizzardWowpedia

Bixyl Shuftan

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Minecraft Angels Village: An Ending and a Beginning

By Bixyl Shuftan

Since I last wrote on Minecraft, the activity continued in Angel's Village's server. Jasmine continued to work on improving her chicken cooker at her place of Havenshire, and then went on to work on other projects. She built an object sorter, a "silkstone" maker, an obsidian generator that worked on redstone dust, and more. One of her newest, an "enderman spawner" in the nether. She had corralled them so in one region they spawned only in one place, and players could easily hack away at them from spots they couldn't reach, getting lots of experience orbs. Trouble was, there were more orbs than could be easily absorbed at times. So a player could easily be swinging blind at the enders in front, and not notice another player stepping in front of him/her. The result could easily be one player back to her bedroom, without her gear.

Jasmine and I had been alone with occasional visits from others, other friends of Nydia preferring her "Feed the Beast" and the Kitsunuki servers. But we soon had company. Kryxia and Valkyre signed up on Minecraft and joined. Kryxia made a nice longhouse near Havenshire with Jasmine's and my help. Valkyre once she had a little time to figure things out went on a 24 hour building spree, creating a *massive* tower. Taking a look at it, Jasmine had thought Nydia had made Valkyre a server op without telling her. That wasn't the case. Valkyre had done the big build simply through hard work.

Then Jasmine went to work on her biggest project: literally. Nydia's Village was surrounded with a  detailed wall. Jasmine planned to do even better by surrounding the place with castle walls and towers. So starting in one corner, the first structure went up, and bit by bit the walls extended away from it, with castle gates and battlements going up along the way. Jasmine did the planning and the bulk of the work with some help from Kryxia and I. We soon came across one problem: Jasmine's house was built into a hill that would be level or taller than the castle walls. So an excavation was called for, one done partly through server op powers of easy digging, and partially through blasting through TNT, "Jazzy wants big boom." Eventually most of the hill was replaced with flat land on level with most of Havenshire, and the walls continued to go up.

Soon, the walls were more or less done. Havenshire was surrounded by castle structures that could be walked through via gates or climbed from the inside via doors in the battlements and ladders upward. It was so big, only from the air could one see the whole thing. From the castle led roads to Valkyre's tower and Kryxia's longhouse. There was also a road heading north to the desert. To the east deep in a region of tundra was Nydia's ice castle. And further east of that was Skylark's home. The area north of Angel's was getting some truly great builds.

It was about this time that came two major events. One was the Dragon. If Minecraft has a way to win, it's beating the Dragon at "The End," accessible only through the nether. Getting there, there's only two ways out, die or defeat the Dragon. Nydia never had, and when she was on with Jasmine, Kryxia, and Valkyrie also there, they decided to team up to beat him. And they did. Jasmine got a dragons egg out of it, as well as able to say she had "beaten" Minecraft.

Going to the spot where they had gone to "The End," instead I was shown the credits, as well as something else. What is it? Well, I won't spoil the surprise. You'll just have to find out for yourself.

The other event, well, it seems all that has been created in Angles will soon be coming to an end. Nydia says the servers will soon be updated, an update that will essentially wipe the slate clean. Back to an unspoiled wilderness with no buildings, roads, machines, farms, or roads. Just the players, the wilds, and the monsters that come out at night.

Nydia says those whom were still active there will be made server ops, once this change occurs. Which means the option of playing the regular way, or being able to create as we please, flying across the land. And since the server's starting over anyway, Nydia's installing a modification called "Terra Firma Craft." It's a bit different from normal Minecraft in a number of ways. For one, you can't just knock down sections of tree trunk to get wood for a shelter. You need to collect small rocks on the ground, gather branches from trees, notch a rock to make an axe head, make a hatchet, *then* cut down the tree. There's also a thirst bar in addition to the hunger bar. But the hunger bar doesn't go down as fast. And the monsters at night are stronger. More information can be found in the Tera Firma Craft Wiki, in addition to the youtube Brandi Strussel sent me (Click Here).

Our friend Ranchan, or Amaya as she's sometimes called, has a server as well, the Kitsunuki one, of which the Angels world is one of several the players can free hop and take inventory from one to another. Her Angel's Village was duplicated there, as well as the Newser building (before the top floor was finished). The difference there seems to be mainly graphics. Nydia also has a server with a modified version of Minecraft called "Feed the Beast," but as of the writing of this article it is shut down due to bugs. Our friend Kit Repine has a FTB server as well. I've heard that one has a number of machines one can build. It also has a number of new materials, and plants. A short look at Kit's server also revealed new dangers. There's quicksand in places which can trap you if you're not careful. Some of the monsters are more powerful here too. There seems to be a number of different versions of FTB, so what works in one may not work in another.

So it looks like the Minecraft journeys of Jasmine and I will be taking a new turn. Will we build a new Castle Havenshire, or just take things one step at a time. We'll soon see.

Bixyl Shuftan