A Whole New World (of Warcraft)

These are no ordinary times. It’s a whole new World (of Warcraft) shining, shimmering, splendid. So join me, wonder by wonder, over, sideways and under, on a magic carpet ride.

because this thing does not have airbags

The next World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria (MoP), drops on September 25th, but big changes arrived as early as August 28th. Azerothian Autostraddlers, let us help each other through these growing pains.

Once every week, the elite IRL bosses of WoW join forces to shut the game down for a short, some might say distressing, period of time so that they can engage in what is known as “maintenance.” During this time, players often re-engage in ordinary human activities such as showering, eating, and pursuing Mountain Dew refills. August 28th’s maintenance brought us many things, including the end of the arena season (RIP team Ermahgerd) and the beginning of the pre-expansion patch. Patch 5.0.4 introduced a new talent system, account-wide mounts and pets, dungeon changes, and complete panic on my part…until I found the right page in my spellbook, at which point my eyes uncrossed and I wrote this introduction to the whole new World, for you.

The Citizens

WoW expansions mean new playable races, and this expansion is no exception. Enter the Pandaren. Take a look at the new MoP cinematic, which is actually quite funny and somehow manages to make cuddly, big-bellied panda bears look completely badass:

As a newborn Pandaren, you will find yourself in a peaceful starting area surrounded by magnificent temples, beautiful mountains, and abundant bamboo forests all atop, get this, the back of a turtle. Your homeland, Pandaria, has been shrouded within an “impenetrable mist” for 10,000 years, or since BlizzCon 2011. Finally, later this month, the mist-ery (see what I did there) will lift and Pandaria’s isolationism will end. But the opening of Pandaria’s turtle-borders will not be all rainbows and mana pies, no.

See, as you may know, the World is divided into two factions: Alliance and Horde. As the names imply, the Alliance is generally equated with “good” and the Horde with “evil.” Traditionally, each race is tied to one faction or the other from the beginning, but Pandarens begin as neutral. Eventually each Pandaren must choose one side or the other, and the Warcraft rages on. But now with chi.

Just as the expansion brings us a new race, it also brings us a new class: the monk. Monks use chi and energy as resources, specialize in “bare-handed combat,” and look completely smashed while in Stance of the Sturdy Ox.

You should also know that millions of trees died during this pre-expansion patch. But don’t worry, they were only talent trees, which have been completely eliminated. This is one of the biggest changes to affect all players. Talents still exist but are no longer tied to spec — now each player chooses one talent every 15 levels, and spec generally does not determine which talents you may choose. You might dislike the new system at first, as I did, but after giving it some time, I think you’ll find that your deeps is higher and your heals are bigger. Being mana-efficient is now a real thing.

Smaller changes have occurred as well: The druid class now has a fourth spec dedicated to tanking. Warlocks have new demons to boss around. A few abilities are gone, and others (i.e. Holy Nova) have been transformed into glyphs. Oh, and MoP is not without its whimsy. I mean, it’s called “MoP” and involves pandas for Pete’s sake. But I’m most excited about the changes I didn’t expect, like the new druid travel form. Stag form can be glyphed to carry passengers, is super sweet looking, and can be assumed WHILE MOUNTED. Look, I made you this screenshot:

oh god

Another handy development, especially if you want to maintain any sense of privacy while playing a game that has approximately nine million subscribers, is BattleTag support. A BattleTag is a nickname that you can enable via your Battle.net account and that other players can use when they friend you. It functions like Real ID (keeps you connected even when playing different Blizzard games, opposite factions, etc) but without the Real ID (you don’t have to give anyone your email address or real name).

So go forth, young ‘Straddlers, spawn pandas, assume stag form, and snag friends.

The Geography

MoP brings us level 85 to 90 questing areas, cross-realm zones, a noticeable rise in the number of rats in Silvermoon, and a brand spanking new continent:

The Conflict

I’ll admit to happily playing both sides of the battlefield, but out of habit and history, Horde is home to me. Preach all you want, but be vewy vewy quiet… I’m hunting Awiance. After all, what would Warcraft be without the War? The patch already introduced some dungeon changes, into which I was traumatically initiated during what I thought would be a leisurely run through Scarlet Monastery right after the patch. Instead, my group and I found ourselves paralyzed, gawking at Scarlet transformed — now half-consumed by fire and despair. We weren’t in Kansas anymore. Complete chaos + outdated addons = epic mess, but since none of us knew what was going on, we banded together until we were, by god, a team. Behold, the beauty of patch days.

When MoP drops, we’ll have completely new battlegrounds and dungeons to explore. The Stormstout Brewery dungeon has been particularly fun in beta. As its name says, the dungeon is a brewery, complete with drunk apparitions, streams of beer that do actually get your toon smashed if you stand in them, and relief buckets for the aftermath. I’m pretty sure the second boss — which looks like some mix of rat, rabbit, and Bowser — reveals to us that Splinter actually retired to Pandaria to become a raging alcoholic. Also, the Brewery’s end-boss, Yan-Zhu the Uncasked, is “the ultimate ale, a full-bodied elixir of depthless flavor,” and after you defeat him, you learn that he is actually the product of White House homebrews gone wrong. Phew. I never knew pandas drank so much.

Some time between the recent patch and the new expansion, level 85 players will have access to a new scenario: Theramore’s Fall. Scenarios are “instanced adventures” at max level and are meant to provide more variety for end-game players. We’ll have to wait until MoP for most of them, but Theramore’s Fall debuts early and involves an all-out assault led by none other than the acting Warchief of the Horde. Zug zug.

Last but not least, the little ones. The Level 1 Critters, to be exact. Not only are pets (and mounts!) largely shared across all toons on each account but Mists of Pokémon means the advent of pet battles. In MoP, you can actually catch critters out in the wild, and your old vanity pets are more than just pretty faces. Soon they’ll have abilities all their own, and you will be responsible for leveling them! Moonkin Hatchling, I choose youuuu!

The Guild

If there’s one thing Autostraddle knows how to do, it’s build community, so of course there is already a home for you in the World of Warcraft. The almighty Autostraddle guild, Alt Lifestyle Haircuts, is pulling itself up by its bootstraps, so stay tuned if you want to be WoWed.

And honestly, isn’t that why many of us come back to games like this, whether it’s Warcraft or some other MMO? It’s not for the physically unrealistic avatars, the harassment, the cultural misappropriation, or the sexism. It’s for the supportive and fun communities of people that emerge, despite. For the time someone says “that’s gay” on trade chat and ten people follow up with “me too.” For the time you mention your girlfriend to your 500 person guild and droves of people suddenly come out of the woodwork/closet in what is apparently a big gay guild epiphany. For the baby gay out there in virtual space who comes to you for advice because there’s no one in her real world she can turn to. It’s for the laughing and learning and streaking through Stormwind together. The teamwork and exploration and stag-on-mammoth action. So if you ever need an outlet for your many /emotions, I strongly suggest getting drunk on mana potion and rolling around in embersilk. Sure, there are a few toolbags here as well. But really, /hate the player, not the game.

Tami can be found questiculating wildly as Tamaha on the Suramar server or as Lollyamorous on Bronzebeard. She enjoys heroic mode, transmogrification, and one-shot killing Knucklerot and Luzran out of spite.

Additional Info:

What did they do to my character?

How will I survive?

Can you sum that up for me?

Can you sum that up for me but with more pictures?

Avatar of Tami

"My beard grows to my toes, I never wears no clothes, I wraps my hair Around my bare, And down the road I goes." -Shel

Tami has written 2 articles for us.

64 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    An Autostraddle WoW guild?? This almost makes me want to pick the game up again!

    Oh wait, crap. My account is bound to the EU side. And I have too much things to do to go back on that time-sucker.

    I totally agree with your last point on community though, the gaming community is often portrayed as a black hole of xenophobia (and quite some time with reason), but I met so many awesome queers and allies on MMO games! My last two guilds during my final years of online gaming were the first time I was out to a whole group of people (only my closest friends IRL knew before that), and the support, acceptance and lack of fucks they gave me helped me tremendously to build the confidence to keep coming out to more people in the real world.

  2. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    This really sounds like a lot of fun and I love to join! Unfortunately I’m often short on time in which to play.

    Also, how much does it cost? Because I’m also short on dollars right now.

    Still, I’d love to join guild Autostraddle at some point in the future.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      It looks like the standard digital presale edition for this expansion is $39.99. Now and then Blizzard has sales, and you can buy the game for $10 per expansion or something like that. The starter edition (which I believe allows you to play through level 20) is free, but last I checked, people on starter editions couldn’t join guilds. :/ It’s also worth seeing if you qualify for a scroll of resurrection: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/6922986. Maybe someday we’ll be able to pay for game time with in-game gold…

  3. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Sadly, I’m too invested in my server to switch, or even have a semi-competitive alt on another server. Eeeeeeeveryone I know is on Ravenholdt, so I stay there.

    But if we had a place to exchange realID’s just for groups, BGs and chat, I’d be too down to participate.

  4. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’ve been playing this game for 4 years until now. I was actually going to quit before MoP because none of my old friends play anymore. And my guild is actually full of homophobic people. It’s the Latin American servers really, that are full of homophobic people.
    So, unless someone is playing in Quel’thalas (very unlikely), I think i’m gonna move my main to Bronzebeard. I’m so joining your guild guys!

    • Thumb up 1

      Please log in to vote

      Honestly, Bronzebeard is a low-medium pop server these days, so trade chat moves slow enough that people can have fucking enraging conversations, often encouraged by Toilet, our resident troll. Buuut I’m always there speaking up.

      However, I’m 99% sure that Toilet and his neocon ways are a total troll that he doesn’t believe at all, and is just mocking all the people who agree with his bullshit. I’m also 99% certain he’s also Gayrights, who is in <LEGALIZE IT> and posts in trade sometimes.

      The real problem are all the idiots who do believe what they’re saying and go out of their way to make sure everyone else knows their opinions.

      That said, while it’s no Proudmoore, Bronzebeard isn’t rampant with homophobia outside of trade chat. And even in trade chat, there are still some people who stick up for us. But the really vocal advocates seem to get drown out half the time. Sometimes though, we prevail.

      Also omg, regarding Latin American servers, I would kill for a good Ragnaros guild where they don’t spend the entire time calling each other maricones and talk about whose mother is the bigger whore. :[ Right now I’m abusing them for leveling perks while a friend of mine and I RAF on Ragnaros.

  5. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    A couple of years ago I played WoW with my daughter for the first time. I came home from work the next day and she’d got the back of an old cereal packet cut out and then taped together old empty toilet rolls together, which she’d then stuck to the piece of cereal packet. She said it was “a sword that turns into a gun.” And I thought “my daughter is a cool girl!”

  6. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    My 20 year old son is a self-confessed WoW addict and candidly admits that it’s ruined his life. He started playing at age 12 (little did we know, we bought him the game) and from that day to this, it’s been sheer misery. On WoW alone, he has 400 days played. That’s 400, 24 hour days in case anybody doesn’t know that. That is whatever percentage of his terrific wonderful life that he will never, ever get back. He’s going to a third-rate college, working a fourth-rate job, and living at home… this, a kid who got a 2290 SAT on his first try with no studying. He graduated high school by the skin of his teeth and was nearly expelled for breaking into the administrator system in order to game in school. All, or mostly all, of this heartache is directly because of MMORPG addiction. And he’s got a boatload of friends who are in exactly the same circumstances.

    It sounds like the majority of the folks on this site who play WoW can do that constructively and not destructively and my hat is off to you. It’s just like drinking, the vast majority of people can drink some and then leave it alone, but there is an unlucky percentage who become alcoholics. Just like with alcohol or drugs, online gaming can be extremely addictive for unlucky people. If you do play – at least be aware it has this potential. You don’t want to wake up five years from now crying over all the life you wasted….

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Oh, and one more thought – if you have or plan to have children, for their sake and yours, keep an eye on the gaming and either ration their play-time, or maybe keep them from starting up as long as you can. Among other lovely side effects (like wasting your entire childhood in front of a box), gaming can create ADD-like symptoms. This does not, to put it mildly, lend itself to school and life success. Again, this obviously doesn’t apply to everybody who games or even a majority of players, but if it does turn out to be your child, it will be just as painful and traumatic as if they developed a drug or alcohol addiction.

  7. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I love WoW, been playing it off and on for a few years. Took some time off for Diablo 3, but I could be tempted to get back into it for MoP. I’m intrigued by the idea of a character that isn’t already assigned to Alliance or Horde… but I do so love my Draenei and Worgen. But, I’m already part of a guild. It’s really cool to hear that there’s an Autostraddle guild, though. Great for players who want to join a guild were they know the guild-mates will cool. :)

  8. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    i can’t play WoW while school is going on, otherwise this would basically be enough to get me to renew my sub/buy MoP. none of my irl friends play and i’ve never been part of a guild that has felt like a safe and friendly space full of likeminded individuals. maybe winter vacation?

    alliance though… :(

  9. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    oh man, ‘do you wanna date my avatar’ was what made me realise when i was thirteen that i was a gigantic homo. i watched that video hundreds and hundreds of times, and i wasn’t quite sure why i was so obsessed. and then it hit me, like a big gay ton of bricks. nostalgia through the roof rn.

  10. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    OH MY GOD is this ever relevant to my interests. Holy shite.

    I main a druid tree/bear that I probably will never move off my darling Wyrmrest Accord server (so derp, so friendly) (also, HORDE), but yanno, I’ve been thinking of leveling another druid since the last time I did it was BC…this might be the time?

    Also also just gonna put myself out there and say HAY LAYDEES find me at weatherglass#1761 (also playing D3)

    Anyway yes will be making an alt on Bronzebeard pronto. Wooo!

  11. Thumb up 4

    Please log in to vote

    Also also if we make a Horde guild I vote “Dykes on Trikes” and it will be all goblins (except when we need the other races for classes and stuff I guess BUT THEY SHALL RIDE TRIKES TOO)

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      I WOULD SAY HELL YES TO THIS…if a guild on Bronzebeard called The Cunning Linguists hadn’t been forced into a name change ages ago (now known as The Censored Linguists). I would how long Dykes on Trikes would last before someone reported us. Sads. :<

  12. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I just renewed as well, and haven’t played since Cata dropped. I’m going to need some ser’yus re-aclimation.
    Sending a request to ALC when I next log-in, I guarantee I was dropped from my old guild for lack of activity. Psh.

  13. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    this is p cool actually, but i landed on moon guard due to irl friends

    pros: reading extremely lulzy purple prose in everyone’s mrp profiles out loud
    cons: …what the purple prose is about

  14. Pingback: A Whole New World (of Warcraft) | The Lawsbian

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.